They gave him Dudley’s hand-me-downs, made him live in a cupboard and thanks to them poor Harry generally missed out on a lot of childhood’s joys. That said, he managed to unintentionally infuriate them by, well, just being Harry.
Here are 15 times Harry Potter’s presence really tested the Dursleys’ patience...
The moment the Dursleys opened their front door to find the one-year-old nephew they pretended didn’t exist, lying on their doorstep with a note saying his parents were dead, and that he was now entrusted to their care. You can imagine how thrilled Vernon and Petunia Dursley were that day.
As if it wasn’t bad enough that they had to take Harry to the zoo with them for Dudley’s birthday, he had to go and make matters worse by inadvertently freeing a boa constrictor.
Having not let Harry open his first Hogwarts acceptance letter, Vernon was determined to destroy all others that came through their letterbox. Unfortunately for him, that ended up being hundreds of letters. Which, as we know, drove Vernon to nail the door shut and ultimately force his family to stay in a shack on an island.
Not even isolated shacks in the middle of a thunderstorm are safe from wizardly visitors. You could say Vernon, Petunia and Dudley were less than amused when Hagrid broke down the door of the shack in order to announce: ‘Harry – yer a wizard.’
As if that wasn’t enough, Hagrid then cast a spell on the Dursleys’ darling boy and gave him a pig’s tail, which had to be surgically removed.
Vernon’s plans to seal a business deal that would have the family shopping for a holiday home in Majorca vanished when Dobby the house-elf dumped Petunia’s dessert on the floor. It would have all blown over if not for the owl that soared in with a written warning to Harry for performing underage magic, triggering Mrs Mason’s mortal fear of birds. Nice job, Dobby.
Having thought he’d successfully made Harry a prisoner to prevent his return to school, it was a bit of a shock for Vernon when he discovered him being rescued in the middle of the night by the Weasley boys in a flying Ford Anglia, of all things.
Vernon was somewhat displeased (read: so furious we feared for his health) when he had to watch his sister Marge slowly inflate and float up to the ceiling after she unwisely insulted Harry’s parents.
Finding out that Harry had a godfather was shocking enough for Vernon. But when Harry gleefully said his godfather was a convicted murderer who had broken out of wizard prison, the look of horror on his Uncle’s face was quite the picture. Another day ruined.
The house-proud family was gobsmacked when the Weasleys arrived via Floo Powder to collect Harry, and blasted the living room apart because they didn’t have an open fire. An easy mistake any wizard could make.
Unfortunately for Dudley, just a few minutes later Fred and George ‘accidentally’ dropped some Ton-Tongue Toffee that caused Dudley’s tongue to grow to four feet long.
It was spectacularly bad timing for Dudders that he and Harry were together when Dementors glided into Little Whinging looking for Harry, and Dudley took the brunt of the attack.
When the Dursleys were warned by Mad-Eye Moody that Harry’s friends from the wizarding world would be keeping tabs on things at Privet Drive and that there would be no further mistreatment of him.
‘Are you threatening me, sir?’ he said, so loudly that passers-by actually turned to stare.
‘Yes, I am,’ said Mad-Eye, who seemed rather pleased that Uncle Vernon had grasped this fact so quickly.
Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix
Having Kreacher materialise on her shagpile carpet during an unannounced visit from Dumbledore was quite the last straw for Petunia. We suspect the carpet was ripped out that same week, just in case there was any magical residue (or dirt) left.
You’d think parting company with Harry would be a happy occasion for his aunt and uncle, but since it called for them to leave their home for good, and drive off into the sunset with a couple of magic folk to ensure safe passage, it wasn’t quite the happy occasion it perhaps should have been. Ah well.