You may think that Harry Potter and Draco Malfoy were enemies from the word go. And while it is true that Harry never warmed to him, it didn’t stop Malfoy from trying to collect the famous Boy Who Lived as a friend. However, despite being an 11-year-old thrown into a new world – Harry was still astute enough to recognise that making friends with Malfoy wasn’t the best idea.
From the moment he called Hagrid a savage, to insulting Ron’s family on the Hogwarts Express, Harry saw Malfoy for who he really was and turned him down. We think Harry’s instincts in this situation were spot on – and this decision stopped any chance of him straying down a dark path and strengthened his fledgling bond with Ron.
While you may think that it was a terrible decision of Albus Dumbledore to associate with such a wizard in the first place, we believe that it was his choice to break away from Grindelwald that should be admired. It is easy to forget that Dumbledore was once a young impressionable man and not the wise headteacher we are familiar with. To him it must have been thrilling to find another wizard as gifted as he was with a vision to change the world for ‘the greater good’. However, after a devastating row, which left his sister Ariana dead, Dumbledore knew that he and Grindelwald had to part ways.
It is incredibly fortunate that Dumbledore did this. If he hadn’t, he may not have become the great man he was. He also probably would never have fought against Grindelwald and defeated him in their famous duel. Imagine how different the wizarding world would have been if Dumbledore hadn’t seen Grindelwald’s ideas for what they were and had supported him in his quest for wizard domination.
Hermione was often full of clever ideas and this one was no exception. From the moment she realised that her and her classmates would not be getting an adequate education she took matters into her own hands. Harry may have ended up being the teacher, but it was Hermione’s decision to create the group in the first place. It was also Hermione’s shrewd thinking and excellent magical ability that enabled them to know which member had betrayed them to Umbridge (those purple pustules on Marietta Edgecombe’s face were nasty but impressive).
Not only did this decision enable many Hogwarts students to keep up with their education – it actually helped them to excel. The fact that so many members could produce a corporeal Patronus, which is an advanced piece of magic, is testament to this. It also meant that when the second wizarding war was on the horizon, they were a group that was as prepared as possible. Without Dumbledore’s Army we doubt someone like Neville would have had the confidence or the ability to fight the way he did. It may have started off as just a club – but it ended up being so much more.
It is safe to say that when Harry and the Weasleys met each other for the first time their impressions of each other were positive. Mrs Weasley even commented on what a polite boy he was, and Harry admired their family dynamic. It was a chance meeting that led to one of the most important friendships in the series.
But what if Harry hadn’t worked up the courage to ask Mrs Weasley for help? Would things be different? If Ron hadn’t seen Harry on that platform – would he have asked to share his compartment? Would they have bonded in the same way? If Harry had felt he was all alone, would he have been more tempted to accept Draco Malfoy’s offer of friendship? Could that have meant Harry being sorted into Slytherin?
If Harry hadn’t made that choice, things may have been very different. He may never have become a member of the Weasley family, and he may not have been best friends with Ron (and he might still be stuck between platforms nine and ten at King’s Cross Station.)
In a similar vein to the previous decision, if Harry and Ron had not decided to risk it all to save Hermione, we may never have had the Golden Trio. If they had stayed away, Hermione would not have seen a different side to Harry and Ron, and they wouldn’t have seen Hermione covering for them with an irate Professor McGonagall. There is no doubt that their famous bond was forged in the girls’ bathroom with a snotty, unconscious mountain troll lying at their feet.
While it was Ron’s mean comments that lead to Hermione crying in the loos in the first place, it did pave the way for their eventual friendship. Just imagine how different things would have been if they hadn’t made that choice. Firstly, Hermione might have met her end only a few weeks into her new life as a witch. Even if she had survived, we doubt she would want anything to do with the boys who made her so miserable in the first place.
We also wonder whether it would have led to Voldemort’s victory. It was Hermione that provided Harry and Ron with key information about Nicolas Flamel and it took all three of them to make it past the obstacles to the Philosopher’s Stone. So, while it was an… unusual start to a friendship, we are secretly grateful for that troll.
Oh Snape – his life was really quite tragic. He was bullied at school, lost the (unrequited) love of his life and died protecting the son Lily left behind. The Prince's tale is a sad one, but Snape made a lot of questionable choices and his obsession with the Dark Arts cost him an awful lot.
Snape was obsessed with hexes and curses from when he was young, and we can understand why, to some degree. Being unloved by your parents and tormented by your classmates is sure to have an impact on anyone. Yet, Snape was not completely without love – he had Lily. If he really wanted to protect that relationship, he could have.
When he saw that Lily was getting close to his nemesis James Potter, he pushed her even further away and strengthened his bonds with a group of dodgy Slytherins – who were also obsessed with the Dark Arts and on their way to becoming Death Eaters. It was his inability to let go of that obsession that cost him Lily and ultimately sent him down a dark and dangerous path.
When Ron decided to leave the hunt for Horcruxes he really hurt Harry and Hermione. Not only did he allow jealousy to get the better of him, but he also refused to consider that the Horcrux might be the reason he was feeling that way. His stubbornness and insecurity allowed him to abandon his friends – a decision he would come to deeply regret.
While Ron was away, Harry and Hermione found themselves in a bad place, ending with their trip to Godric’s Hollow where Nagini created a harrowing experience for them. If Ron had been there, he might have been able to prevent Harry’s wand from breaking or may have even stopped them from going in the first place. While we don’t know what would have happened if Ron stayed, we do know that this decision to leave only made things harder. It’s just lucky that Dumbledore had left him his Deluminator – otherwise there would have been no coming back from that choice.
Harry should have listened to Hermione. He should have listened to Ginny. In fact, Harry should have listened to anyone who raised concerns about his faith in the Half-Blood Prince. Despite having tackled Tom Riddle’s diary in his second year – Harry still wouldn’t listen to those who begged him to use caution when it came to trusting an unknown author. What Harry should not have done is use a homemade spell ‘for enemies’ on Draco Malfoy.
While he wasn’t aware of just how horrific or bloody Sectumsempra was, it was still his choice to use it and still his fault that Malfoy ended up seriously maimed on the bathroom floor. Now, we know Harry and Malfoy weren’t close, but Harry was not a violent person (his signature spell is Expelliarmus after all) and this terrible decision weighed heavily on him. Not only did he have to face detention, but also the angry faces of the Gryffindor Quidditch team when they found out he was temporarily off the team. Although, Harry did learn a lesson from this incident – but what a miniscule silver lining.
Sometimes there really is no getting through to Harry. Despite multiple people imploring him to take Occlumency seriously, he just couldn’t do it. It’s strange, Harry doesn’t normally give up at the first hurdle – but for some reason, Occlumency continued to trip him up. Having Snape as his teacher certainly didn't help motivate him, either.
Unfortunately, this led him to make a decision he would live to regret. Harry knew that Voldemort could plant false images in his brain and knew he shouldn’t trust anything he saw through Voldemort’s eyes. However, despite being told this multiple times by multiple people, he was compelled to go anyway – especially as this ‘skill’ had enabled him to save Arthur Weasley from Nagini. So, when Voldemort, planted the vision of Sirius being tortured in the Department of Mysteries, he decided it must be real. Although Harry meant well, his heart often ruled his head.
As such, not only did he risk his own life, but he also risked his friends’ lives. If Harry hadn’t fallen for the set-up, then Sirius wouldn’t have come to the Ministry to rescue him – and we all know how that turned out. Ultimately, Voldemort created the perfect trap for Harry - knowing his emotions would outweigh the logic. Although a teenager shouldn't be outright blamed for something that Lord Voldemort manipulated, Harry’s tragic choice left him without his godfather but with a lifetime of regret.
It may seem strange for us to say that this was the worst choice in the wizarding world – but hear us out. We believe if it wasn’t for Barty Crouch smuggling his son, Barty Crouch Jr, out of Azkaban, then Voldemort may not have returned.
Barty Crouch may not have been aware of just how devastating the consequences would be when he decided to honour his dying wife’s wish. Yet, by freeing Barty Jr he set off a runaway train of events that culminated in that awful night of the third Triwizard task. If Barty Jr hadn’t been released, then he wouldn’t have managed to overpower his father, kidnap Mad-Eye Moody, take his place, enter Harry into the Triwizard Tournament, fix said tournament and finally ensure Harry was deposited in the graveyard where Wormtail could use his blood to resurrect the Dark Lord. As far as bad decisions go – this one was certainly up there.