Why Harry Is Nobody’s Favorite “Harry Potter” Character
Being a borderline-fanatic Harry Potter lover, you probably have a favorite character from the beloved series. Or three. Or eight. One of these favorites is probably not Dolores “Hem-Hem” Umbridge. But surprisingly, it’s probably not the Boy Who Lived himself, Mr. Harry James Potter, either. And here’s why.
Harry is not brilliant.
There, I said it.
The Harry Potter series is one full of interesting, diverse, and complex characters. You’ve got your wizards, your house-elves, and soul-sucking fiends – sorry, went back to Dolores Umbridge there. These characters are in some way extraordinary; they’re talented or mysterious, they have a personality that’s just bursting at the seams, or they have a complex backstory that makes us desperately want to know more. But the character we almost always view this world through, whom the series is centered around and named after, is not usually our favorite.
A vote conducted by Bloomsbury in 2017 revealed that Hermione Granger took the top spot with over 10,000 votes. In fact, Harry only got sixth place, with characters such as Severus Snape and Luna Lovegood coming in ahead. And you can see why – these characters are different; they’re quirky or morally ambiguous. These things make us want to know more about them, to engage in their backstories and muddle over the ins and outs of their personalities.
By contrast, Harry doesn’t seem particularly fascinating. He often receives help to accomplish tasks – did Mad-Eye have to write out an instruction list for you to get past that dragon, Harry? He also doesn’t change dramatically across the series. Characters such as Ginny Weasley and Neville Longbottom become more prevalent and outspoken as the series progresses; there are changes here and there that develop these characters into the ones we know and love. Of course, that’s not to say that Harry doesn’t change; he suffers, triumphs, and develops along with the rest of them. But at his core, he remains “just Harry” and indeed struggles against the things that are supposed to mark him as special or extraordinary.
Perhaps it is supposed to be this way. In Harry, J.K. Rowling initially created a somewhat plain, ordinary boy – apart from the fact that he’s a wizard, of course. Even his name is fairly ordinary; it’s certainly no Luna Lovegood or Remus Lupin. He isn’t particularly academically talented or a supremely all-around powerful wizard, but we learn that his courage and big heart mark him as different and worthy of the Chosen One prophecy. Would we as readers be able to make these connections if Harry were some amazingly talented character? Probably not. His true strength lies in his connections with those around him: He’s able to support and rely on his friends’ strengths when needed, and he’s (usually) not too prideful to accept help.
And while these qualities may not make him stand out as a particularly interesting character to begin with, we see that J.K. Rowling is telling us something about these values: that being ordinary and relying on your friends for help every now and again is important if you want to get through life. That what is on the inside is far more important than what others think of you.
So no, Harry Potter is not many fans’ favorite character. He’s not some sparkly unicorn, and arguably one of his greatest achievements occurred when he was a baby, and that was more to do with Lily’s sacrifice than his personal skills. He has great inner strength but seems rather plain on the outside. His personality certainly has quirks, but he doesn’t go around wearing butterbeer-cork necklaces. His backstory is tragic, but once we reach the end of the series, our questions are answered, and the element of mystery is resolved. Perhaps what we all need is a good Obliviate to go back to page one!