Harry Potter Defense Against the Dark Arts Teachers Ranked

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If you’re a fan of Harry Potter, then you know full well that when it comes to the Defense Against the Dark Arts teaching position, something fishy’s always going on. Throughout the franchise, more often than not the teacher heading up this kind-of-important class is bad news, and it has caused a litany of headaches for Harry, Hermione, and Ron along the way. Which is a shame because, well, learning how to defend oneself from dark witches and wizards becomes a tad important as the Harry Potter franchise wears on, given the rise of you-know-who.

And yet, in the end, Harry and Co. fare quite well, especially during the Battle of Hogwarts. So given the evergreen popularity of the franchise, now felt a fine time to take a closer look back at the teachers who held the Defense Against the Dark Arts position and rank them according to competency. Obviously some were a complete and total disaster, but others—while perhaps nefarious—were effective nonetheless. So, let’s get started.

6.) Professor Quirrell

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Professor Quirrell from Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone is by far the most inconsequential Defense Against the Dark Arts teacher, but he’s also wildly lacking for competence. Of course, how would you feel if you had the Dark Lord burrowing atop your head and feeding off your lifeline.

5.) Gilderoy Lockhart

Image via Warner Bros.

On paper, Gilderoy Lockhart is one of the most prestigious wizards to ever grace the halls of Hogwarts. Of course, we quickly find out that much of his “greatness” is hogwash, and during his brief tenure at the school he managed to unleash a pack of wild pixies on his students, turn Harry’s arm into mush, and even attempted to mind-wipe three young students. But even putting all of those misdeeds aside, Lockhart’s incompetency was glaring from the word “go,” as his lessons mostly revolved around boasting about his immense greatness and blinding handsomeness. Gimme a break.

4.) Dolores Umbridge

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Dolores Umbridge’s tenure as the Defense Against the Dark Arts teacher was actually quite brief given that she quickly gave Dumbledore the boot and took over his position as head of Hogwarts. But even in that short while she managed to royally foul things up. As a stalwart appointee from the Ministry of Magic—which was in full-on Voledmort Denial mode at this point—Umbridge argued that students had no need for practical knowledge of Dark Arts defense and that a theoretical understanding would be sufficient. Harry and Co. all but gave Umbridge the finger and set about learning defensive spells on their own, hiding out in the Room of Requirement. Her incompetency gave way to cruel and unusual punishment, making Umbridge not only a dolt, but also highly dangerous. And yet, she ranks a bit higher on this here list because one gets the feeling she certainly had the knowledge and ability to teach something useful had she desired to do so. She just, you know, didn’t.

3.) Mad-Eye Moody/Barty Crouch Jr.

Image via Warner Bros.

So for the purposes of this list, Mad-Eye Moody’s tenure as Defense Against the Dark Arts teacher is also considered that of Barty Crouch Jr., who had assumed the role of Moody via polyjuice potion in an effort to steer Harry towards the Dark Lord. The events of Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire find Moody/Crouch Jr. quite active, and while he’s certainly working towards sinister ends, his role in the lives of Harry and Co. is crucial: he’s the one who teaches and demonstrates the three unforgivable curses. It’s a harrowing and disturbing scene, but it’s this display of cruelty that gives the students an understanding not just that these curses are unforgivable, but why they’re unforgivable. As a result, Moody/Crouch Jr. actually turns out to be quite an effective Defense Against the Dark Arts teacher—just not in the way he was expecting.

2.) Severus Snape

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After years of envying the position, Severus Snape was finally appointed Defense Against the Dark Arts teacher in Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince. We don’t actually get to hear much about Snape’s success or failings in this position once he gets, but we do know he was one of the bravest and most competent wizards who ever lived. However, due to the fact that he was still playing double agent at this point, his reach was limited.

1.) Remus Lupin

Image via Warner Bros.

Okay so maybe hiring a werewolf as a teacher isn’t the best of ideas, but Remus Lupin is, by all accounts, the best and most effective Defense Against the Dark Arts teacher that Harry and Co. had during their tenure at Hogwarts. Lupin taught the importance of standing up to one’s fears, all with a mix of fun, sincerity, and a dabble of mischief mixed in. He’s the one responsible for teaching Harry the intense focus necessary to perform a Patronus charm, which Harry then passed on to the other students after Lupin was forced to step down from his teaching position. And as we all know, that Patronus charm came in mighty handy throughout the series.

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Perhaps more importantly, Lupin was one of the most effective father figures for young Harry as he provided a much-needed link to his ancestry. Lupin was kind and warm-hearted, but also had a very strong sense of understanding as a result of his own internal struggles (namely turning into a monster once a month). Lupin is, undoubtedly, the best Defense Against the Dark Arts teacher that these students had during their years at Hogwarts, making it all the more crushing that he and Tonks met their ends during the Battle of Hogwarts. Pour one out for ol’ Lupin.

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