Six Times Harry’s Savior Complex Actually Endangered People’s Lives
At the end of Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, Harry says to Dobby, “Just promise never to try and save my life again” (CoS 339). In the second book, Dobby is mainly a comedic character who tries so hard to save Harry’s life that he actually ends up endangering him even more. But is Harry a bit of a Dobby sometimes too? Does Harry’s savior complex sometimes cause more people to get hurt?
1. The Troll
We all know that Harry has a bit of a “saving-people-thing,” as Hermione would say, and she should know (OotP 733)! Hermione was the first person to fall victim to Harry’s desire to be the hero. In the first book, Harry insists that he and Ron go warn Hermione about the troll on Halloween. Once they find the troll, Harry has the clever idea of locking it into a bathroom, the very same bathroom where it turns out that Hermione is hiding. If Harry and Ron hadn’t gone running to save Hermione, she might have easily been able to run out of the open bathroom door and lock the troll in there herself. But then, I suppose, she wouldn’t have made any friends.
2. The Sorcerer’s Stone
At the end of the first book, Harry is sure that Snape is trying to steal the Sorcerer’s Stone and convinces his friends to go find it. However, by doing so he actually puts the Stone in more danger. Quirrell could have spent years in front of the Mirror of Erised trying to get the Stone out and would never have gotten his hands on it. When Harry comes along, however, he is so intent on getting the Stone away from Voldemort that he is able to access it from the Mirror, leaving the Stone up for the taking. The Stone is only saved because Lily’s protection makes it impossible for Quirrell to touch Harry.
3. Peter Pettigrew
As the books go on, the consequences of Harry’s heroism get larger. At the end of the third book, Harry protects Peter Pettigrew from being killed by Remus Lupin and Sirius Black. Doing this, however, allows Peter to go off and rejoin Voldemort, helping Voldemort regain his body so he can go on to kill many more people. Of course, Voldemort would have probably found another way to come back, and Wormtail’s life debt does help Harry defeat Voldemort in the end. Even so, if Wormtail hadn’t survived, then he couldn’t have killed Cedric.
4. The Third Task
Speaking of Cedric… In the fourth book, Harry, as usual, is remarkably selfless at the end of the third task of the Triwizard Tournament. He and Cedric are both racing each other for the Cup when out of nowhere an Acromantula comes crawling toward Cedric. Harry could have ignored it. He could have gone straight for the Cup and tried to grab it first. But Harry decides to warn Cedric and help him fight the Acromantula, losing his advantage in the competition. This is a noble act, but the truth is that Cedric would have been better off facing the Acromantula than being sent to the graveyard. Even if he couldn’t fight it off himself, he could have sent up red sparks and have someone come save him.
5. Sirius Black
Need I say anything more? At the end of the fifth book, Harry thinks that Sirius is in danger and runs to his rescue – only to find that he has fallen into Voldemort’s trap. Sirius then rushes off to rescue Harry, only to be killed by Bellatrix.
At the beginning of the seventh book, when Harry and the rest of the Order members are being chased by Death Eaters, Harry uses Expelliarmus against Stan Shunpike. He does this in order to protect Stan, who would die if he was Stunned and fell off his broom. However, this action causes the Death Eaters to realize who the real Harry is and call Voldemort to their aid. Voldemort then kills Mad-Eye Moody.
From this list, it might seem like I’m trying to say that Harry is practically a murderer and should just give up trying to save other people. That’s not at all what I think these moments represent. I think that this is J.K. Rowling yet again defying the genre of children’s books by showing a realistic representation of the fact that even when you try to help people or do the right thing, sometimes you can’t fix the situation. Sometimes you even make it worse. Hermione is there to try to stop Harry from being reckless, to make him think before he acts, but the truth is that sometimes you can’t get all the information, you don’t know what’s coming, and you have to make a decision based purely on your own morals. This is what Harry does so well, and the fact that Harry continues to try to help people until the very end is the reason that he is ultimately able to defeat Voldemort. Just as Dobby breaks his promise and sacrifices himself to save Harry at the end of the seventh book, Harry never gives up on his saving-people-thing.