Tom Marvolo Riddle started both Wizarding Wars, created the Death Eaters and killed Harry Potter’s parents. We could go on – he was the most dangerous Dark wizard of all time – but we won’t. His horrific achievements are well known.
Dolores Umbridge was spiteful, prissy and said to resemble a ‘large, pale toad’. She may have behaved like a monster but, technically speaking, she was a human being. Getting a student in her care to scratch blood-red lines into his own flesh was surely as stone-cold cruel as it gets. Or was it?
‘For the greater good’ reads the icy-hearted motto of history’s second-most-famous Dark wizard. Highly intelligent and fiercely idealistic, his considerable gifts were nonetheless warped by malice. His defeat in 1945 by Albus Dumbledore was legendary.
Sadistic, tempestuous and fiercely loyal to He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named, Bellatrix thought nothing of murdering her own family when they stood in her way. Responsible for the deaths of Sirius Black and Dobby the house-elf, as well as the torture of Alice and Frank Longbottom, Lestrange met a gratifyingly sticky end at the hands of Molly Weasley.
Proof, perhaps, that mediocrity mixed with cowardice could be as dangerous as outright evil, Pettigrew defected from the Order of the Phoenix and betrayed those closest to him. That he spent years in hiding as Scabbers – the Weasleys’ pet rodent – prompted a withering Sirius Black to remark: ‘If you made a better rat than human, it’s not much to boast about, Peter.’
Sent to Azkaban by his own father, Barty Crouch Jr let his mother take his place and led Cedric Diggory to his death at the hands of Voldemort. Fiercely loyal to the Dark Lord, his intelligence and cunning were ruthlessly applied in the deception of others; as he put it, ‘decent people are so easy to manipulate’.
The sadistic, hot-tempered Professor of the Dark Arts was so vile during his stormy term at Hogwarts in 1997 that he prompted Harry Potter to employ the dreaded Cruciatus Curse to keep him at bay, after Carrow spat in McGonagall’s face.
The equally awful sister of Amycus, Alecto somehow gained a position teaching Muggle Studies at Hogwarts. Dim, but still brighter than her brother, Alecto deserves her place on this list for slashing Neville Longbottom’s face.
Aristocratic, wealthy and elitist, Lucius Malfoy tried to sabotage Arthur Weasley’s career by slipping Ginny a copy of Tom Riddle’s diary. He may have been a senior Death Eater, but Lucius’s Achilles heel, mercifully, proved to be his love for his family. In the end, Lucius was more concerned with the safety of his son Draco than the outcome of the Battle of Hogwarts.