Death in Half-Blood Prince

by Esther Kleinig

I’ve been quite disappointed recently – I’ve yet to find a rational analysis of who might die in HBP. (I missed out on the theories before OotP and I don’t want to miss out this time.) I’ve found forums saying things like, “Well obviously Ron can’t die” and “I’ve got dibs on McGonagall, remember you read it here first!!” without giving explanations. So I thought I’d better do it myself, and see what you all think. Please email me if you have a specific reason why I might be wrong here, or if there are other characters you think I should have considered.

In Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, I’m expecting approximately ten deaths of characters we know by name (this doesn’t include, for example, the lost Patil triplet’s Dutch boyfriend’s uncle, about whom we only hear upon his death, but it does include characters we know are coming, such as the next DADA teacher and Minister), and three or four of those will be very emotional deaths. It won’t just be the shock of death; it will be the shock of particular deaths as well. The deaths could be during the holidays, during the school term for adults, or in the final battle, whether it’s at Hogwarts or externally. They could be killed by Voldemort or his Death Eaters, or they could be Kissed by Dementors (I’d consider this pretty much equivalent to death, even though it isn’t for the victim). Of course, this analysis is based only on the canon so far (duh) – something might come up in HBP that increases or decreases a character’s chance of death. But these predictions are as reasonable as I can make them.

Some have a role to play before dying. These people are all – to an extent – “safe” for the time being at least. Some of them may die in HBP, but not before they play a vital role or become the source of vital information. Others are pretty much 100% safe for all of HBP because of roles they have to play in Book Seven.

Some have a high risk of death because of Voldemort. These are people who are at extreme risk of being killed by Death Eaters or Voldemort, not in battle, but just at a random time because of what they mean to the Dark Side. Examples include Mudbloods, friends of Harry, and Order members.

The deaths of some would have a high emotional impact on Harry. The higher the emotional impact on Harry, the more likely either Voldemort or JKR might have the character deliberately killed – just to shake Harry up a bit. Funny link between Voldemort and JKR there – I’m not saying JKR is cruel, and of course she’d make it purposeful (making a point, helping the plot, altering Harry’s state of mind…), like with Sirius, but Sirius’ death obviously made Harry very upset, so it was in a sense better for the story. Harry has to suffer a bit. Voldemort might want to be a bit careful though, so he doesn’t make Harry angry enough to seek hate-filled revenge.

WON’T DIE

Harry

  • Role to play: surviving HBP and at least most of Book Seven for the purposes of the plot
  • Risk from Voldemort: extremely high (duh) but that’s irrelevant here
  • Emotional impact on Harry: erm…

Snape

  • Role to play: continued suspense about his loyalties; tension for Harry at school; surviving to Book Seven where there will apparently be a revelation about his love life
  • Risk from Voldemort: currently low, it would seem – he appears to be a successful double-agent, but if this fell apart, then it’s bye-bye, Snape
  • Emotional impact on Harry: if Snape turned out good, I think Harry would be as upset as he would be if Flitwick was killed (a fair bit, not a lot)… but he’d probably be secretly pleased, and feel guilty about it
  • Draco
  • Role to play: continued tension with Harry (life will always be full of difficult people, even when good triumphs)
  • Risk from Voldemort: Draco will probably, at one point or another, be discovered as incompetent in serving the Dark Lord, then there would be a high risk, but for now he’s very safe, as long as he doesn’t do anything good
  • Emotional impact on Harry: JKR has confirmed that Harry and Draco “will hate each other until they both die” – which DOES NOT necessarily mean that they will both die, just they’ll hate each other their whole lives, and even if one dies, the other will go on hating him until he too reaches death: Harry could go on hating Draco after Draco’s death, but I think this would damage our beloved main character, like it damages Snape to continue hating James and Sirius beyond their graves, and from this I believe Draco will survive both books, definitely surviving HBP (although it’s still speculation)

Cho

  • Role to play: tension!! JKR’s not going to kill off the most interesting characters; Cho’s going to be around, and making life tough for Harry, for a long, long time
  • Risk from Voldemort: not for any particular reason, only if she battles against him, same as everyone else
  • Emotional impact on Harry: her death wouldn’t traumatize him enough for JKR to kill her off

Ron

  • Role to play: maturing – he needs more than part of HBP to become a more satisfying character, so he should survive till Book Seven; as far as maturity goes, he hasn’t quite caught up with Harry yet, who is always lagging behind Hermione, and I’d like to see them on the same level before one of them departs; also Harry himself acknowledged that Ron is a better best friend than Hermione in GoF
  • Risk from Voldemort: very high – a Muggle-loving Weasley and Harry’s best friend, he’ll be a high priority target
  • Emotional impact on Harry: his death would be huge, even huger if it was a sacrifice, but I think we – and Harry – could only cope with Ron’s death if it was a deliberate sacrifice, not a senseless, premature, sad mistake

Hermione

  • Role to play: integral character, like Ron – needs to reach Book Seven; suspense and then revelation as to where her romantic feelings lie
  • Risk from Voldemort: extremely high, probably higher than Ron, because instead of being one of many Muggle-lovers in a family, she’s Harry’s Mudblood best friend, which is probably the bigger sin
  • Emotional impact on Harry: as with Ron, especially if there’s romance in that quarter

Luna

  • Role to play: interesting character such as Cho – her quirkiness is needed with Fred and George gone; why would JKR introduce her in OotP and kill her in HBP? I believe she’s symbolic, rather than a proper character who can be killed (read the article How Luna Represents Faith); she knows something we all want to know about that veil too
  • Risk from Voldemort: nothing in particular, except perhaps if The Quibbler continues to support the good side
  • Emotional impact on Harry: it would be very traumatic for Harry, and unless he was in love with her (yes, I mean “unless”!) he wouldn’t be able to cope, because I think it wouldn’t make any sense to him

Viktor Krum

  • Role to play: “You will see Krum again, though not soon” – JKR seems to be saying he won’t show up in HBP, because the end of sixth year is for us, only a few hours later than the start of sixth year: if she meant to say it will be a long wait, she may as well have said, “You will see Harry again, though not soon, it’ll take a few years for the book to be finished”
  • Risk from Voldemort: little, I think – he attends Durmstrang, and unless he openly declares himself on Harry’s side, Voldemort won’t think of him
  • Emotional impact on Harry: only vicarious trauma, through Hermione

MIGHT DIE

Ginny

  • Role to play: nothing specific – there’s no real conflicts that need to be resolved – but she’s been developing as a character and possible romantic interest for Harry, and that has to pan out as something before she can die
  • Risk from Voldemort: very high, but slightly less than Ron, not being a best friend, unless Draco runs and tells the Dark Side that there’s romantic attachment there
  • Emotional impact on Harry: huge, she’s like a sister to him, if not more

Neville

  • Role to play: improvement in magical ability with a new wand; clarification of his role in the prophecy (even if it’s nothing eventually); continued reaction to the DoM experience – I think HBP will be Neville’s stage: he’s lurked in the background, then suddenly been thrust in the limelight, so this may be his place to prove himself or die trying; I can see Harry getting angry about something in the war and yelling at Neville, not wanting to be The One; I can also see Neville talking to Harry post-war, sort of like he did in DoM. He might be the perfect character to keep if Ron and/or Hermione die in Book Seven, so it could go either way
  • Risk from Voldemort: very high – there’s the good family, the friendship with Harry, the possible connection to the Prophecy, and Bellatrix’s desire to hurt him
  • Emotional impact on Harry: huge – it’d be like Dean’s death with an extra sting (see below)

Tonks

  • Role to play: possibly a connection for Harry with the Black and Malfoy families – she might be the source of revealing what was happening behind the scenes with these families, but she wouldn’t necessarily need more than part of HBP for this, and could easily be killed nearer the end
  • Risk from Voldemort: half-blood, Auror, on the good side, and Bellatrix probably despises Andromeda and her family for the blood traitor thing, so fairly high
  • Emotional impact on Harry: little, but it would still be significant to him

McGonagall

  • Role to play: we know so little about her, and I’d like to know about her marital status and if there’s any story behind her schooling with Tom Riddle; she might be related to the HBP plotline; she could be killed nearer the end of HBP, but she’s a very important teacher and ally, plus there’s tension between her and Snape which should probably continue (I think they’ll end up together, LOL!)
  • Risk from Voldemort: very high
  • Emotional impact on Harry: same as Tonks, unless she does something really sweet like punching Snape (just kidding)

Dumbledore

  • Role to play: the mentor and explainer; his attachment to Harry will probably continue to be dangerous for a while; running the Order of the Phoenix: I doubt JKR will crush ALL our hope in HBP, we have to feel we’ve got something good going for us, or no one will ever want to reread the book
  • Risk from Voldemort: extremely high, but from Death Eaters, extremely low: Dumbledore’s too powerful, and if Voldemort doesn’t show up at all in HBP (we’ve heard he’ll show up again, but that could be just in Book Seven), then Dumbledore’s quite safe, unless Bellatrix is dramatically improving (I hope not)
  • Emotional impact on Harry: ginormous, but Voldemort would kill him for other reasons, not to upset Harry

Hagrid

  • Role to play: mainly consistency, I have the sense he should be there right till the end, but that’s a bit irrational so he could die, though of course there’s the Grawp subplot for him to be involved in at the start of HBP, as well as possibly a Madam Maxime subplot
  • Risk from Voldemort: very high, but I’d like to see an ordinary Death Eater kill a half-giant!! Can it happen?
  • Emotional impact on Harry: huge – so Voldemort and JKR might both have the impulse to kill him – but I don’t know if JKR would do something so senseless, unless it was necessary like Sirius’ death apparently is

Pettigrew

  • Role to play: that debt thing; his silver hand killing Lupin the werewolf is a possibility (but doesn’t it seem a bit too obvious for JKR?); possibly some more information about Harry’s parents?
  • Risk from Voldemort: only if he does something majorly wrong (ie. something good), but he’ll only be tortured in the meantime
  • Emotional impact on Harry: at this stage it would probably be very little, but there’s the potential for it to affect him deeply, especially if Pettigrew sacrifices himself or acts on his debt, or also if Voldemort kills him for no apparent reason, making Harry think, “Okay, I saved him, that led to Voldemort’s return, then he died anyway – what was the point??”

Lupin

  • Role to play: Harry’s got to find out more about his parents at some stage, and Lupin’s the obvious source (though we can’t go by that, because before OotP I would have said that role would be played by Sirius); I think there’ll probably be some increasing emotional attachment on Harry’s behalf too; I learned from ‘Van Helsing’ this year that werewolves can kill vampires (did I misremember that?) so that could be handy; other than that nothing too specific – he could easily be dead by the end of HBP (aww!! I love Lupin!!)
  • Risk from Voldemort: very high, though it would be a job for a Death Eater – perhaps a way for Pettigrew to prove his loyalty
  • Emotional impact on Harry: I think it would be about the same as if Fred or George died, perhaps less because he’s hardly seen him, but perhaps a lot more because he’s a Marauder

Petunia

  • Role to play: we know there’s something going on here, but it’s nothing that couldn’t be covered sometime in HBP; she might be needed for consistency (the whole start-with-the-Dursleys-at-Privet-Drive thing); I don’t think she has any other specific roles for Book Seven – though that of course depends on what we find out in HBP
  • Risk from Voldemort: very high – Muggle relative of Harry’s and the source of Harry’s protection
  • Emotional impact on Harry: probably more than we think – I can see JKR killing Petunia to make a point to Harry, like she made a point with Dudley’s reaction to the Dementors: Harry will probably realize he cared more for her than he thought (pity if the realization comes too late)

LIKELY TO DIE

Dean Thomas

  • Role to play: little if anything – he’s a character who’s been around the whole time, but isn’t essential like some others, so he can easily be killed
  • Risk from Voldemort: high – Muggle family (as well as Death Eaters seeing this as a crime, they wouldn’t be able to defend themselves very well); his father was murdered by Death Eaters for refusing to become one
  • Emotional impact on Harry: fairly high – he’s a friend to Harry, but as well as that particular death disturbing Harry, it will be the shock of the death of someone who’s been there the whole time and then suddenly is not (unlike Cedric and Sirius, who arrived in PoA), something I think JKR would want to explore in Harry’s emotions (I would) – just imagine the remaining boys looking over at the empty bed

Katie Bell

  • Role to play: her death would play a bigger role with the disruption to Quidditch (a point to be made by JKR that nothing can stay the same) as well as the shock of death (the same kind of death as Dean’s – someone who’s always been there); her death is more likely if she gets Quidditch Captain – this would be a JKR killing, not so much a Voldemort killing (would he even know who she is?)
  • Risk from Voldemort: she’s an unknown to Death Eaters as far as we know, but she’s a Gryffindor, and her family might be important; more likely, though, it would be a circumstantial death, like near the wrong person during an attack on Diagon Alley
  • Emotional impact on Harry: moderate – it would be the shock, not that he misses her immensely, and there’d be the disruption as well: how can Harry prove his worth to Draco with a diminished team, possibly becoming Quidditch Captain without the faintest clue of what to do?

Grangers

  • Role to play: JKR says she has kept Hermione’s family deliberately in the background, and I don’t think she’s got any tricks up her sleeve, suddenly springing Hermione’s father onto us as the Half-Blood Prince – at the most she’ll introduce us to them
  • Risk from Voldemort: extremely high, like Hermione – they’re not Harry’s best friends, but they’re not protected by the walls of Hogwarts either
  • Emotional impact on Harry: same as with Viktor Krum – only through Hermione

Molly and Arthur (though not BOTH in HBP)

  • Role to play: Arthur has a political advantage, but the war will be a tough battle, so JKR might not want to keep him, and he’s not an essential character; Molly mothers Harry but this could end up detrimental if he’s underprepared for battle, and other than that she’s not very essential; however, there’s the suspense as to why, if they are about seventy, they weren’t in the Order last time, and they might have been at Hogwarts with Tom Riddle, like McGonagall was, so this should be developed before both die, although one could die before such a revelation
  • Risk from Voldemort: very high, with their positions in the war
  • Emotional impact on Harry: huge, as well as the impact of seeing two close friends out of their minds with grief for a dead parent

Weasley brothers (excluding Ron)

  • Role to play: Percy first has to decide which side he’s on, Fred and George have a business to develop and Harry’s gold to spend, Charlie’s stayed in the shadows for a suspiciously long time, and there’s an implied romance with Bill and Fleur, but these are all minor roles which could have been fulfilled by the time one or even a few of the brothers die mid-to-late-HBP, although I very much doubt all five will die
  • Risk from Voldemort: all very high
  • Emotional impact on Harry: high, as “family friends”, but particularly through Ron

Lee Jordan

  • Role to play: nothing in particular
  • Risk from Voldemort: fairly high, seeing as he’s a decent person and all
  • Emotional impact on Harry: low, but if no Weasley brothers die, or if they don’t until later in the book, then I think JKR might do this for the impact it would have on Fred and George

Longbottoms (excluding Neville)

  • Role to play: their deaths would achieve a lot more through the impact on Neville than their existence can, unless there really is something with those gum wrappers
  • Risk from Voldemort: Voldemort will probably attack St Mungo’s; Bellatrix will probably want to upset Neville even more to prove her power over him
  • Emotional impact on Harry: again, mostly through Neville (Neville could become more distressed than ever, or more empowered than ever), but Harry might be particularly angry that the Death Eaters stooped so low as to attack defenseless hospital patients

Creeveys

  • Role to play: I think the brothers have an unfulfilled purpose, though I can’t think what – probably just allies of Harry’s; there’s also something a bit suspicious about two wizards in one Muggle family, so we’ll probably become better acquainted with them, but there’s little to prevent their deaths
  • Risk from Voldemort: they’re unknowns to him, but Draco is certainly aware of their Muggle heritage, which puts them (the wizards and their parents) at high risk from Death Eaters
  • Emotional impact on Harry: moderate – they’ve never done a thing to hurt him, they’re so innocent and young and just gorgeous (if I were a mother I’d want them as sons), but he doesn’t know them very well, only really through DA

A good Minister of Magic

  • Role to play: nothing that would keep him/her from dying – start up an advantage for the good side, then get murdered
  • Risk from Voldemort: extremely high; Voldemort wants to reign supreme
  • Emotional impact on Harry: unless it’s someone he knows, very little (if it’s Amelia Bones, though, Susan Bones might be targeted too) – though there might be a general sense of despair after some optimism if things looked good originally

The next DADA teacher

  • Role to play: as an unknown character, we can’t know what influence s/he might have on this or the next book, but the death, like with Katie, would be a role in itself… it’s just that if the DADA position is cursed, or even if the trend just continues, then it’s about time the teacher died rather than leaving, like Quirrell and Barty Crouch, Jr.
  • Risk from Voldemort: I think Dumbledore’s going to be especially careful at this point that the teacher is 1) competent, and 2) not evil, so if Voldemort knows (through Draco maybe) that the teacher is good and is helping train Harry for a victory, then the teacher is a natural target
  • Emotional impact on Harry: no idea – if the teacher’s good, it might be like Lupin’s resignation was to him

Whew! That was a lot! I’m sure there are some that I forgot, but these are the most important to discuss.

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