It goes without saying. This will be a complete SPOILER filled article for the entire Harry Potter book and film series. So I wouldn't read on if you are only just discovering the world of Harry Potter.
But for those who are already sorted into their respective houses, lets re-explore the surprisingly Game of Thrones-style deaths of Harry Potter and how each character's death contributed to our bespectacled, lightening-scarred hero's journey.
There is a lot to still be excited about in the world of Harry Potter. Recent weeks have seen the announcement of a Harry Potter sequel stage play and the first pictures from the prequel film, Magical Beast and Where to Find Them, have arrived online. Though there is little doubt that the franchise will stand the test of time even now with the first film 14 years old and the first book to see its 20th Anniversary in 2017.
I do have an embarrassing confession though. I ruined the ending of the Half Blood Prince film for one of my closest friends when I revealed quite casually that "Dumbledore dies." I assumed he had read the book. He hadn't. But he was surprised at the high level scalp J.K Rowling produced in her penultimate Potter novel.
Recently I've been re-watching the entire film series and as we draw ever closer to the Battle of Hogwarts, the emotional toll as a viewer has been quite tough. It's easy to forget that Harry, Ron and Hermione have to suffer incredible loss to finally defeat Lord Voldemort. So easy, in fact that, it's a bit of shock to realise in just over three years of Harry's life (across 4 books), six key good guy characters are killed in action. A further three characters will see their end before the Kings Cross station epilogue.
I've decided I wanted to focus on Harry's allies for this list, instead of the enemies that are defeated along the way (perhaps a future article).
Lilly and James Potter (Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone)
This was the first death in Harry's life that set him on the path to face Voldemort. Their deaths, while tragic, prevented Voldemort from rising to power so quickly. Being only a baby at the time, the reason for his parent's death eluded Harry for many years, and it would ultimately would take all eight films to fully accept what their sacrifice meant to the whole magical world.
Cedric Diggory (Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire)
Cedric's death at the conclusion of the Tri-Wizard Tournament was perhaps the key turning point in Harry Potter's story. I think that despite fighting a Basilisk in the Chamber of Secrets and the Dementors in the Forbidden Forest, this was the first time Harry confronted the reality of the world he faces in the coming war with Voldemort.
Sirius Black (Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix)
The timing of Sirius Black's death was perhaps the most heartbreaking. Despite Harry's love for his best friends, Sirius represented the first time Harry felt he had a real family in his whole life. His excitement that he could spend holiday breaks with Sirius was a personal victory that Harry deserved. The guardianship Sirius represented was a piece of normalcy Harry had been looking for since his days inside the cupboard under the stairs. All Harry wanted to do was to spend time with his Godfather. And then in a single wand battle at the Ministry of Magic, Sirius was gone.
Sirius' death was callous in many ways. It appeared pointless and did not forward the story part from being another let down in Harry's life. But if anything it made him hate his enemy more, and added fuel in his determination to destroy Voldemort's evil.
Albus Dumbledore (Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince)
Dumbledore's death should have been obvious. Every hero's journey sees the demise of the mentor (read Joseph Campbell's The Hero's Journey to confirm exactly that). A hero cannot overcome the great evil if he has his mentor fighting his battles for him. And let's not forget Dumbledore's battle with Voldemort at the end of the Order of the Phoenix was the highlight of the entire series. Dumbledore knew his place in the pecking order, and was ready for his demise a whole year before it came. He even planned it so the right person would kill him, so as to protect the innocence of a tortured Malfoy.
Yet still, without the prior knowledge, Snape killing Dumbledore felt cold and brutal. Despite this, it was the one death that needed to happen in Harry's world so he could one day face Voldemort without any fear.
Hedwig (Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 1)
The next line of deaths in Harry's life depicted the truth of war and continued to remove the safety nets he has needed to keep the fight going. With little doubt, by the time the Deathly Hallows comes along, the magical world is in the midst of war. Hedwig's death during the escape from Privett Drive felt like another pointless death, but as the final battle loomed, Hedwig's sacrifice became unfortunately necessary. He had been a loyal friend to Harry from the start of his first year at Hogwarts, right up to his final moment protecting Harry's escape.
Alastor 'Mad Eye' Moody (Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 1)
'Mad Eye' Moody had not been part of Harry's life as long as Hedwig, but his sacrifice, be it again untimely, was a necessary step towards Harry's 'shield' to be stripped so he could face Voldemort with as little fear as possible. Harry had to accept his protectors would do anything to see him safe. Moody's sacrifice was proof that Harry's followers believed in the real mission.
Dobby (Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 1)
Dobby's death was the saddest, but the most beautiful - if death can be described like that. He wanted to belong and wanted to be somebody. In some ways I saw Dobby wanting to be human more than house elf. Harry gave him the first opportunity to do that, by tricking Lucius Malfoy into presenting Dobby with a sock. In death, Dobby completed that journey. His spirit was now truly free. Harry honoured that freedom but giving Dobby a proper burial.
Remus Lupin and Nymphadora Tonks (Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2)
The tragedy behind this couple's love cannot be exemplified any better than by their final image in the film, lying dead next to each other. Their deaths in the film were down played quite significantly compared to the book, leaving more emotional weight for the next death on the list. Perhaps it would have been tragic in the film version, if their child from the book had been mentioned or that if only one of them died, leaving the other to be heart broken alone.
Fred Weasley (Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2)
It would make more sense to group Fred Wesley's death with Remus Lupin and Nymphadora Tonks, the previous entry in this list. But this is Ron's older brother after all. War has its collateral damage, yet, with that said, George and Fred freely chose to be soldiers in this war. Much like Moody, Fred's death in the Battle of Hogwarts is more evidence how far people would stand with Harry against Voldemort's forces, even if meant losing their lives. It might be a death that brought many tears to all our eyes, but it's the death that finally convinces Harry he is ready to face this battle alone, and that no more of his friends need to die.
Severus Snape (Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2)
The inclusion of Snape's death on this list of allies could be argued against. But the image above is the very reason why Snape is included here. Snape's redemption is a bit of a backward story. He may have been responsible for Dumbledore's death which came across as the ultimate Judas moment, but his love for Harry's mother was already the redemption he deserved. The final reveal of Snape's mission, given to him by Dumbledore, was Harry's final lesson. The world is not black and white, good and evil. Harry needed to see that Snape did not have to like him, to love him.
Harry Potter (Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2)
It's pretty easy to forget. In order to defeat Voldemort, Harry had to die! This is to kill the horcrux that he had indadvertedly become on the night Voldemort kills his parents and gave Harry his famous lighting scar. I think it's no coincidence that moments before he faces death, he sees everyone who sacrificed their life for him. It's with that knowledge he will never be alone, even in death, that Harry can face Voldemort with no fear.
Much like with the story of the Deathly Hallows, Harry greets Death as an old friend and gladly accepts his fate.
What was your most tragic Harry Potter death? Tell us in the comments below!
Daniel Sanguineti is a Australian Film Producer and Writer, who tutors film and media at the University of Canberra and the Canberra Institute of Technology. He is on twitter @DanSanguineti.