Seven years is a long time for people to grow up and change, and of course none of the Harry Potter characters ended up exactly the same as when we first met them (aside from Hagrid, of course, the old reliable!). However, these characters certainly stood out as making the most notable and astounding transformations through the series…
How could we not start with our dear Nev? The Gryffindor started out unsure and nervous, especially since he and his entire family had once thought he was a Squib. However, after he was dropped out of a window by a delightful uncle and bounced back, the young wizard discovered he did have magic and thus attended Hogwarts, where he went from being a shy and scared beginner to an absolute legend in his own right.
Not only was he brilliant at Herbology, earning himself an ‘Outstanding’ in his O.W.L.s, he also became brilliant at Defence Against the Dark Arts (thanks to Dumbledore’s Army), faced off with Voldemort in the Battle of Hogwarts and killed the Dark Lord’s final Horcrux, Nagini. Neville for Minister for Magic!
The slash of the silver blade could not be heard over the roar of the oncoming crowd, or the sounds of the clashing giants, or of the stampeding centaurs, and yet it seemed to draw every eye. With a single stroke, Neville sliced off the great snake’s head, which spun high into the air, gleaming in the light flooding from the Entrance Hall, and Voldemort’s mouth was open in a scream of fury that nobody could hear, and the snake’s body thudded to the ground at his feet.
Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows
Hermione went from the biggest stickler for the rule book to constantly breaking them with her two best pals. From losing it at Ron and Harry for risking their expulsion in the first book to quite merrily orchestrating a secret, illegal society for learning Defence Against the Dark Arts in book five, Hogwarts’ smartest witch definitely went a long way with rule-breaking. Not to mention Confunding Cormac McLaggen during Quidditch trials, quitting Divination in a moment of rage and punching Malfoy in the face. We’re so proud!
Dudley was a horrible, unbearable bully who was a little too happy using his Smeltings stick, and so when his personality transformation came along, it was just as surprising as it was touching. Dudley was left so traumatised by a Dementor attack, in which Harry saved him, that he had been subtly reaching out to his cousin by leaving him cups of tea and worrying about his wellbeing when he left Privet Drive in book seven. Although we will never quite get over everything Dudley did to torture Harry when they were children, we liked this new Dudley a lot more than the original.
Perhaps a controversial statement, but we’re going to roll with it: Professor Slughorn didn’t get the credit he was due in the Harry Potter novels. The brilliant wizard went from living a nomadic existence, in which he moved from place to place to avoid being recruited by Death Eaters, to repping Slytherin house by fighting at the Battle of Hogwarts! In just two years, going from hiding out of fear to fighting for what was right was seriously courageous, so props to him.
Let’s also not forget that he owned up to his most shameful secret to help Harry defeat Voldemort, which is a different kind of bravery entirely. All in all, Harry couldn’t have done it without Slughorn, but we wish Slughorn had made things a little easier in the first place.
We all know Ginny had a huge crush on Harry, and struggled so much in her first year at Hogwarts that she poured her heart out into a diary that, rather unfortunately, contained a part of Voldemort’s soul. But after surviving the Chamber of Secrets and, with a little advice from Hermione, she managed to find herself again at Hogwarts. She became a talented witch with a predilection for the Bat Bogey Hex, was a top Chaser for Gryffindor during Quidditch, and stopped pining after Harry. In fact, by the time he started to notice how amazing she was, she was already dating Dean Thomas!
‘I never really gave up on you,’ she said. ‘Not really. I always hoped... Hermione told me to get on with life, maybe go out with some other people, relax a bit around you, because I never used to be able to talk if you were in the room, remember? And she thought you might take a bit more notice if I was a bit more… myself.’
Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince
Who else could complete this list but Harry himself? Going from an unwanted family member shoved in a cupboard under the stairs, teased and ridiculed by his cousin and moments away from attending a secondary school wearing Dudley’s old, dyed jumpers, the hero of the wizarding world didn’t do too badly for himself once he managed to get to Hogwarts. Although he was always pretty much himself, he grew in confidence and accepted every challenge that was thrown at him before finally defeating Voldemort while simultaneously trying to save his soul.
Oh, and he was 17 when he did this. Not too bad for a boy who once got chased up a tree by a bulldog!