A Definitive List of the Most Magical Harry Potter Moments

Harry and Voldemort square off one final time in Deathly Hallows Part 2. Before the final book was published, Daniel Radcliffe asked Rowling whether Harry would die. She cryptically told him that he “would get a death scene” COLLECTION CHRISTOPHEL/ALAMY

In honor of Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, Newsweek celebrates 20 years of the magic and mystery of J.K. Rowling and the Harry Potter phenomenon. This article, written by Assistant Editor Alicia Kort, is featured in Newsweek's Special Edition, The Wizarding World of Harry Potter.

Order of the Phoenix

All looks gloomy for Harry and the gang as Lucius Malfoy and his cronies take the prophecy from Harry, but the Order of the Phoenix arrives in a blast of white smoke to save the day. In a series of stunning shots showcasing impressive wizard dueling, viewers and students see what the Order is truly capable of. But the Death Eaters still manage to strike a grievous blow to our heroes by killing Sirius Black.

Sorcerer's Stone

Hagrid utters these four words and changes 11-year-old Harry's life in ways neither the halfgiant nor the budding wizard could anticipate. The statement's simple, powerful promise of whisking Harry (and the audience) away to a fantastic world had a generation of viewers wishing Hagrid would break down their doors with a Hogwarts letter in hand.

Prisoner of Azkaban

For two years, Hermione had endured and ignored Malfoy's snide remarks on her heritage, but watching the bully and his cronies gloat over Buckbeak's execution was too much for her. Hermione snaps and delivers her best right jab to Malfoy's face, the perfect punctuation to her satisfying insult of calling him a "foul, evil, loathsome little cockroach."

Goblet of Fire

As Ron remarks arrogantly that Hermione must be dateless and hiding up in the dorm, Hermione puts him in his place by elegantly descending the staircase, taking Viktor Krum's arm and casting a sheepish glance his way. This scene gives Hermione a much-deserved spotlight and shows she can do just fine on her own.

Goblet of Fire

After loyal servant Peter "Wormtail" Pettigrew utters the words "The Dark Lord shall rise again," and the bubbling cauldron containing an infant-sized Voldemort, bone, Harry's blood and Wormtail's sacrifi ced, dismembered hand bursts into flames, viewers feel nothing but dread. With his new and permanent body, Voldemort tortures Harry with barely a flick of the wrist. Viewers quickly realize what the Boy Who Lived is up against and why witches and wizards fear the Dark Lord so much they refuse to utter his name.

Deathly Hallows Part 2

Everything had been leading up to this courtyard showdown. As Harry holds Voldemort off, Neville slices off the head of Nagini, Voldemort's snake and final horcrux. The look of fear that passes over the Dark Lord's face is almost as satisfying as watching Harry fire off the spell ending the villain's life, giving viewers an epic conclusion worthy of the epic series.

Half-Blood Prince

Although the lead up to Dumbledore's death lasts only four minutes, it's chock-full of details that solve a puzzle in the final films. After feeling sure Snape would save Dumbledore, Harry's shocked when the Potions Master murders the beloved headmaster, robbing Harry of his mentor and Hogwarts of its protector.

Deathly Hallows Part 1

The sometimes-bumbling Weasley gets to step into the role of hero when he saves the life of Harry during the hunt for Voldemort's horcruxes. Estranged from his friends, Ron realizes he can't abandon those who mean so much to him and rushes to the Forest of the Dean to save Harry from drowning in a half-frozen pond. Ron then puts aside his darkest fears and insecurities to destroy the long-frustrating locket horcrux.

Deathly Hallows Part 2

After witnessing Snape's death, Harry magically enters the memories of his Potions Master and learns the truth behind Snape's "betrayal." This twist revealed new complexities to both Harry (and audiences) about the brooding professor, how his love for Lily Potter motivated his every action, even after her death. After watching this heartwrenching scene, fans will never hear the word "always" the same way again.

Chamber of Secrets

When Harry and Ron realize the train is leaving without them on the other side of the platform, they decide to take Mr. Weasley's flying Ford Anglia to Hogwarts. Seeing the castle in the distance, the two boys anticipate being hailed as legends for their stylish entry, but their dreams are dashed when they crash into the Whomping Willow. It's one of the many times in the series that Harry and Ron realize the consequences of their actions—in this case detentions, a Howler from home and a shattered wand—were not worth the crime.

This article was excerpted from Newsweek's Special Edition, The Wizarding World of Harry Potter, by Issue Editor James Ellis. For a sneak peak of the upcoming film Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, pick up a copy today!

HP Cover
Topix Media Lab
A Definitive List of the Most Magical Harry Potter Moments | Culture