This Harry Potter Character Was Hailed a Hero, But He’s Actually an Asshole

harry potter Many characters fall into a moral gray area. This allows for more complex character arcs, greatly enhancing the storyline. Albus Dumbledore (Michael Gambon) and Severus Snape (Alan Rickman) is the most common example, but there are many examples throughout the series. Fans don’t always acknowledge this, however, choosing to see a strict distinction between good and evil, allowing them to hail undisputed heroes rather than complex individuals. With so many characters in the series, some of them appear very rarely, but they are still important to the story. Due to moral gray areas and little on-screen appearances, this makes the father of the series hero James Potter (Adrian Rollins), in a curious case.

Even though James died before the story actually began, he is mentioned several times. Throughout the series, we learn a lot about him. James is one of the Marauders, original Order of the Phoenix, secretive Animagus, best friend of Sirius Black (gary oldman) and Remus Lupine (david thewlis), and most importantly, Harry’s late father (Daniel Radcliffe). Through his association with Harry and many other famous characters, James became an important part of the series, despite only making brief appearances himself. With only a few scenes and most of the story being told through the eyes of his son, it’s hard to get a clear picture of James. Harry undoubtedly respected the man, idealizing him as what a son should be. However, despite the show’s focus on good deeds, James is not a perfect human being. In fact, in his younger days, he wasn’t kind at all, dodging the question of whether the brutal bully deserved the title of hero.

Before Harry Potter, James Bullied Snape

Young James Potter (Robbie Jarvis) bullying Snape
Image via Warner Bros. Pictures

Harry looks like James, but that doesn’t mean they act the same. James Potter may have been a Gryffindor Quidditch star in his day, but he and his son had little in common. Recognizing the differences in their childhoods is important. James was the only child of loving and wealthy parents, while Harry suffered an early tragedy that left him growing up in a family that was neglected at best. The differences in their backgrounds lead to very different behaviors at Hogwarts. James’ years at Hogwarts are mostly remembered for two things: his fascination with Lily Evans (Geraldine Somerville) and his mistreatment of Severus Snape. Snape’s memories reveal that James had always disliked him, often being harsh on him for befriending Lily. A scene from Year Five shows James publicly humiliating Snape and laughing with his friends just because he’s bored.

The way James treats Snape proves he’s not a perfectly noble man, as the series sometimes seems to suggest. Of course, people make mistakes when they’re young, but it’s a repeated habit and Snape is still traumatized by it. Since the only character in the series who grew up with James is his best friend, it’s unclear if his venom was reserved exclusively for Snape, or if he had other victims. But it does show that he has mean tendencies, so why does everyone think he’s a hero?

How Harry Potter fans called James a hero

Porter family portrait
Image via Warner Bros. Pictures

Despite this obvious problem, James has done several good things. He joined the Order of the Phoenix and actively fought against Voldemort (ralph fiennes) and put him on the favorable side of the whole conflict. He also shows no sign of prejudice, even marrying a Muggle-born girl, which is a low bar for heroism despite coming from a long-respected family of pure-blood wizards. James is loyal to his friends, especially Remus Lupine. While at Hogwarts, James and the others discovered that Remus was a werewolf, and they not only kept his secret, but accepted him. They even went to great lengths (and broke the law) to become animaji to support Remus’ transformation. But perhaps the most memorable thing James ever did was die. When Voldemort attacked the Potters, James sacrificed himself, hoping to give Lily time to escape with baby Harry. While ultimately changing nothing, his final act of heroism made people forget about his problematic past.

James has had his ups and downs, but stories, and fans, seem to focus on his best moments. The explanation is simple: this is Harry’s story. With so many movies centered on Harry and his perception, of course, James can’t be vilified. Harry admired his father, but honestly, he knew very little about the man. At the age of 11, Harry entered the wizarding world and met people who were meeting his father for the first time, and they told him all the best things about him. In order not to disillusion Harry or speak ill of the dead, no one discussed James’ mistakes except Snape. His best qualities and the stories he tells Harry make a positive impression on James Potter, despite being a flawed human being.

Did Harry Potter Redeem James?

Lily poses for a photo with James Potter.
Image via Warner Bros.The show presents several characters who might be on the right side of the overall confrontation but aren’t necessarily the good guy, and James is one of them. James was terrible as a young man and unfortunately he died too early to reconcile with Snape. He failed to appear responsible for his actions. Perhaps James did mature before his death and acknowledge the hurt his actions caused, but his concern for his family and friends does not justify his change. Without an obvious moment of regret, it’s hard to pin down James. Given more time, the upcoming Harry Potter TV series could have addressed James’ flaws and potential to grow into a better human being, but the movies never did. He might be the hero of the First Wizarding War and Harry, but that doesn’t necessarily mean James is a good guy. This complex distinction allows for nuance and creates captivating and realistic characters. While it’s tempting to deny James’ darker parts, it does the damage to the story. James Potter did a lot of good in his life, but that doesn’t take away his mistakes.

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