10. Hermione Granger
Considered by many to be the greatest witch of her age, what Miss Granger lacks in raw power she makes up for in skill and practice. In general, power is a fixed quantity in the Harry Potter world. The power you are born with is the power you keep. Hermione, however, is one of the few characters who achieves great skill mostly through hard work. She edges out many other strong characters in Harry Potter due to her prodigious work ethic, friendship, and ability to get even more powerful overtime.
9. Minerva McGonagall
Minerva is not as extraordinary of a wizard of the likes of Voldemort, but there are few witches or wizards as powerful as she. She edges out other powerful wizards like Flitwick largely thanks to her wide range of abilities — she’s brave enough to be in Griffindor, but smart enough to be in Ravenclaw, too. Also, she’s an Animagus, something very few characters ever achieve. Her power is also noted by Dumbledore who makes her his second in command, and she is able to take charge during the battle of Hogwarts effortlessly.
8. Bill Weasley
Often forgotten prodigy, Bill Weasley is easily one of the strongest wizards alive during the timeline of the Harry Potter books. We don’t get to see him use his abilities often enough, yet it’s quite clear that he possesses incredible magical skill. This is evidenced by the fact that he is a curse breaker for Gringots. As powerful as many of the teachers at Hogwarts are, those who can’t do, teach. It’s easy to imagine that Gringots, one of the most powerful institutions in the Wizarding World, would only employ the best of the best to seek out treasure for their vaults. Additionally, Bill was a smart guy, getting more OWLs than even Hermione. Brains plus power make Bill an incredibly underrated Wizard.
The only thing that holds Bill back, it seems, is the inherited disregard for status and lack of extreme ambition that is a trademark of the Weasley family. However, in the magical world, not desiring power is something of a strength in itself.
7. Bellatrix Lestrange
Bellatrix gets this spot on the list thanks to her sheer, raw power. Untethered by things that bind most wizards, like fear or personal interest, Lestrange is the one true zealot and believer of Lord Voldemort. Whereas most are drawn to Voldemort for their own personal gain, Lestrange believes in his ideology, and is consistently placed at a special side at Voldemort’s right. Though Voldemore may not love, to quote Dumbledore, he certainly trusts Lestrange more than anyone else. Enough to place his Horocrux under her protection — something he does not trust to anyone else. She is held in such high regard that even making mistakes, like calling the Dark Lord to Malfoy Manor only to let Harry and gang escape, does not seem to discredit her the way it does others. An interesting note, Bellatrix is the only sorcerer ever seen capable of dueling with Dumbledore for any given amount of time (as seen in the The Order of the Pheonix book).
6. Gillert Grindewald
Before Voldemort came around, Grindewald held the title as baddest guy in town. Of course, he was handily beaten by Dumbledore, even while possessing the Eldar Wand, which shows that Dumbledore even then was in another league. Dueling skill wise, Grindewald is probably only bested by the likes of Dumbledore and Voldemort, but he lacked the power and insight into magic that Dumbledore had, and the far ranging dive into the dark arts that was Voldemort’s trademark.
5. Molly Weasley
Molly coming out of the woodwork to beat Bellatrix very easily is something of a strange occurrence to say the least. Especially when Bellatrix is always shown as being one of the most powerful and feared sorcerers in the world. However, one also has to take into consideration Rowling’s view of power, and how power works in the Harry Potter world. While Bellatrix had great talent (virtues which materialized as power and skill with her wand), Molly had greater love, and also probably equal natural power. However, according to the rules of magic in Rowling’s universe, love trumps talent, giving her the edge over Bellatrix.
Like the rest of the Weasley’s, Molly isn’t concerned with worldly ambition, so her power is almost never on display. However, her house is always full of magic, and her power goes towards raising a troop of exceptional wizards. It’s too bad that Rowling left her power to be something shown at the end of books with little build up.
Voldemort is probably one of the strongest wizards to ever live. He has done things with magic that no one else has ever done, and all of those things were in service solely to himself. While not a gifted inventor of magical things like the Peverall brothers or Nicolas Flamel, he pushed the boundaries of the dark arts to places where the dark arts and the strongest of the powers, love intertwined, to his own doom. Most likely a stronger duelist with more base power than Grindewald, Voldemort, however, is outdone time and time again by his total disregard for the rules of the magical world, and his refusal to learn anything other than the dark arts. For this reason, he only makes it to fourth on this list.
3. Severus Snape
Like Molly Weasley, Snape’s full power is really never displayed. However, we get strong insights into his power splattered throughout the story. Also, Snape stands out as a truly uniquely powerful wizard and edges out Voldemort thanks to two things: his knack for the dark arts, and his incredible capacity for love. You have to remember that in the Wizarding World, like it or not, love is the most powerful kind of magic. And nobody loves more deeply than Snape (except for one other boy wizard who we will get to later). By combining these two things, Snape is able to play both sides of the coin, something no other wizard is able to do. In fact, I think it’s safe to say that no other wizard has ever mastered both the dark arts and love the way Severus has. And yet, somehow Snape is able to purify dark magic and use it towards good, something we also don’t see in others. Undoubtedly due to his experiences in his youth, Snape is able to use dark magic without it corrupting him, something even Dumbledore is not able to do. Additionally, Snape is more skilled in potions than Dumbledore, making him a powerful contender for Albus’s spot on the list. Albus, however, edges out Snape thanks to the former’s greater base power, and deeper understanding of the complexities of “old” magic.
2. Albus Dumbledore
Dumbledore’s name is synonymous with magical potency. In fact, he is the standard by which the rest of the wizarding world is set. Harry himself utters that Dumbledore is the strongest wizard, and just that utterance is sort of a spell in and of itself. Dumbledore has the highest capacity for power of any character in the Harry Potter universe, however, he is hampered by his serious weaknesses, much in the same way Voldemort is. However, Dumbledore’s weaknesses are very different, and he masters them enough to eventually beat the dark wizard. Unlike Snape, Dumbledore cannot use the dark arts because their powers are far too tempting to him. Despite his own youthful experiences meddling with the dark arts — experiences which forever formed Snape making him entirely un tempted by them — Dumbledore remains enthralled with the idea of power. Therefore he must never take up the mantle as powerfully as he could have, because it would have destroyed him. But his potential, in theory, would be much greater could he overcome this flaw. Yet, by swearing off power and dark magic, Dumbledore is able to learn more about the magic of love than any other wizard.
1. Harry Potter
It’s funny — a lot of lists put this character further down on the power hierarchy, but I don’t see why. It seems quite clear that Rowling intended Harry Potter to be the greatest wizard not only of his age, but of the entire series. Sure, in regards to his dueling prowess, he was not on the same level of Voldemort, Dumbledore, or even Snape. However, we can imagine that his dueling abilities increase as he ages and eventually becomes head of the Auror office. As it was, in the books his magic is already impressive, stronger than many of the adult wizards in their prime. However, in regards to power as it is conceptualized in Rowling’s world, Harry clearly takes the cake.
First, there is his native power. Harry is incredibly, natively powerful. He can perform advanced magic at an early age at greater levels than we see done by any other wizard (for example when he blasts the dementors away with his Patroness in the third book). Of course, innate magical ability is only one spectrum of power in Rowling’s world, and Harry tops the charts on the others. However, it seems that Harry’s native magical abilities surpass that of anyone else of the books besides Dumbledore, and perhaps Voldemort’s.
Second though, and more importantly, Harry has the greatest capacity for love — so great that it causes Voldemort intense physical pain whenever Voldemort enters his mind. And remember — love is the single greatest force in the Harry Potter universe. Like it or not. That’s just how it works. Although Dumbledore has studied the magic of love and knows it from an academic standpoint, Harry knows it naturally — he is more capable of trusting in others than either Dumbledore or Voldemort, and this makes him stronger. Just like in real life, in the wizarding world, great feats are more easily achieved when many heads are put together, not just alone.
Third, Harry is not tempted by the dark arts, so his potential is not capped. Unlike Voldemort whose obsession with dark magic blinded him and proved his greatest weakness, and Dumbledore who was so sorely tempted by dark magic that he couldn’t go anywhere near power (which seems to fuel dark magic the same way love fuels good magic), Harry can be in situations of power without being tempted. He is the only wizard able to master death — a theme that runs throughout Harry Potter — making him the sole greatest wizard if not only of the current age, but of all time.
When it comes down to it, these abilities combined make him strong enough to beat Voldemort, whereas no one else before was able to (not even Dumbledore whose temptations get him in the end).
Originally published at https://www.josephwriteranderson.com on January 14, 2021.