There are so many great scenes in the Harry Potter movie franchise, from the bright and whimsical takes in Christopher Columbus’ Sorcerer’s Stone to the cinephilic cinematography of Alfonso Cuaron’s Prizoner of Azkaban to the atmospheric drama of David Yates’ latter films.
Narrowing down the eight-movie franchise to its best scenes and moments is a tough task, but an exercise that would be fun and worthwhile in rediscovering the memorable highlights that came about from the ten-year run of the eight monumental films.
In anticipation of the Return to Hogwarts cast reunion, here are my top moments from the Harry Potter movies.
11. Hermione and Ron Finally Kiss (Deathly Hallows Part 2)
While there’s still debate amongst fans over Hermione and Ron ending up together, I think it completely makes sense to their characters. Her ending up with Harry could have worked too, but the chemistry wasn’t there.
At this moment in Deathly Hallows Part 2, when they’ve just destroyed a Horcrux and the stakes are at their highest, they finally give in to their feelings for each other in an emotional and climactic moment.
10. Harry Releases the Snake and Traps Dudley (Sorcerer’s Stone)
In an early scene in Sorcerer’s Stone when the Dursleys bring Harry along on their trip to the zoo, Harry talks to—and releases—a large snake from its glass terrarium. It’s the first real magical moment of the franchise.
Not only do we witness Harry conversing with the snake, we also see Dudley get trapped in the snake’s cage. This moment is so funny, and there’s great satisfaction in his discomfort since he’s such a jerk.
9. George and Fred’s Fireworks (Order of the Phoenix)
Dolores Umbridge is almost more evil than Voldemort himself. The sharp contrast between her sweet appearance and sadistic demeanor make her one of the most truly disturbing villains in cinema.
That’s what makes the iconic scene where George and Fred ride in on their brooms to cause fireworks and unleash all sorts of havoc during the OWLs so satisfying and hopeful. This scene is the first instance when someone stands up to her, plus it’s funny and plain fun to watch.
8. Dobby Being Freed via Loophole (Chamber of Secrets)
This one is a pretty sweet moment, when enslaved house elf Dobby becomes a free elf. The key is in the enslavement conditions: house elves are freed when their owners give them a gift.
Harry sees an opportunity to make Lucius unwittingly free Dobby by handing him a book with a sock inside, which Lucius then hands to Dobby. By receiving the sock from Lucius, Dobby is set free—and it’s a great moment because of the sympathy we’ve developed for this little elf.
7. Snape Dressed as Neville’s Grandma (Prisoner of Azkaban)
Alan Rickman plays a great scene in Prisoner of Azkaban when he shows up as a boggart dressed in Neville’s grandmother’s clothes.
This scene is an illustration of turning one’s fears into something ridiculous to make those fears less terrifying, and the bewildered look on Snape’s face makes this perfectly clear for all of us watching.
6. When Ron Calls Out Hermione’s Name in Front of Lavender (Half-Blood Prince)
In Half-Blood Prince, Ron ends up getting a girlfriend in Lavender Brown, who turns out to be quite intense and obsessive. After Ron is injured and incoherent, she comes to visit him in the infirmary only to get upset when she sees Hermione already there by his side.
I love the moment when Ron calls out for Hermione. It’s in this moment that we really get a first glimpse into their feelings for each other.
5. Helena Bonham Carter as Hermione Being Bellatrix (Deathly Hallows Part 2)
The scene where Hermione turns into Bellatrix Lestrange is a lot of fun, not only for the narrative implications but also because we get to see Helena Bonham Carter’s incredible acting skills.
“Bellatrix acting as Hermione pretending to be Bellatrix” is so fun to watch because she perfectly captures the awkwardness of Hermione in the scene, and you can tell that she’s a completely different person despite appearing to be Bellatrix on the outside.
4. Hermione Punches Draco (Prisoner of Azkaban)
There’s no doubt that Draco Malfoy is a total jerk to Hermione throughout the entire series. To see her finally stand up to him and punch him in the face? Completely awesome.
It’s always great to see a villain get a dose of their own medicine. While Draco is more complicated than other villains in Harry Potter, that doesn’t excuse his hating of Mudbloods, and it’s a lesson well-deserved.
3. Umbridge Is Taken by the Centaurs (Order of the Phoenix)
While George and Fred’s fireworks during OWLs was great, Dolores Umbridge being taken by the centaurs is her true comeuppance.
Hermione, Harry, and Umbridge are out in the woods because Hermione misdirected Umbridge by telling her that Dumbledore’s secret weapon is out there. Her bluff ends up paying off because they end up running into Hagrid’s brother and the centaurs.
When they move to take Umbridge, she pleads with Harry to tell them that she means no harm. His comeback (“I’m sorry, professor, but I must not tell lies”) is delivered so savagely that it has you cheering.
2. Hagrid’s First Entrance (Sorcerer’s Stone)
Hagrid’s entrance in Sorcerer’s Stone is an awesome moment. The fact that we first see him as a giant menacing silhouette in shadow makes his subsequent goofiness so lovely.
After rooting for Harry and waiting for the moment when he’s finally revealed to be a wizard, it’s extremely satisfying to see Hagrid bust in to take him to where he belongs.
1. Snape’s True Intentions Revealed (Deathly Hallows Part 2)
The flashback scene in Deathly Hallows Part 2 that reveals Snape’s true intentions is my absolute favorite moment in the Harry Potter series.
It’s just so well-done and makes you think back on every move you saw him make in all previous movies. The fact that he was actually “helping” Harry the whole time? A staggering revelation.
Seeing his love for Lily and his true intentions as a Death Eater double agent has a huge emotional impact. It makes you see him and appreciate him in a completely new way.