Whether you’re a muggle or got that coveted Hogwarts letter in the mail, Harry Potter has undoubtedly touched your life in one way or another. A couple days ago we celebrated the official twentieth anniversary of the release of Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone in the U.K. and it’s crazy to believe that this iconic series has already been around for two decades! The journey of the series, from its first publication all the way back on June 26th, 1997, to one of the most notable and influential book and movie franchises of the 21st century, is one we have all had the privileged to be a part of. Thanks to the genius that is J.K. Rowling we have been blessed with an insight into a world we never knew existed. So, in honor of 20 years of magic, here are 20 of the best moments that made us all wish we could be wizards.
20. “You’re a wizard, Harry”
It was the moment that changed Harry’s, and our lives forever. In Harry Potter and The Sorcerers Stone we were introduced to a young Harry Potter (Daniel Radcliffe), and through him we were brought into the secret world of witches and wizards. This iconic line, spoken by Rubeus Hagrid (Robbie Coltrane), hooked in readers and movie goers alike. It was in this simple sentence that a phenomenon was born. It is a moment that bred six other books and eight block buster movies; going on to create lifelong memories and fans that will forever be wishing that Hagrid came to tell them that they were magical too.
19. The Hogwarts Letters Arrive
While we’re all simply muggles, that didn’t stop any of us from waiting around for the day that our letter would come in the mail inviting us to attend Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. This iconic school that has been the breeding ground for some of the most brilliant and brave minds the wizarding world has ever seen. Despite the Dursley’s attempts to keep Harry from getting his, the moments when 13 Privet Drive got bombarded with letters is one that goes down in Harry Potter history. And who didn’t sit around waiting for a letter of their very own? Sadly, we’re still stuck waiting – maybe the owl got lost?
18. “Its Leviosa, Not Leviosahhh”
No one can deny that Hermione Granger (Emma Watson) is definitely the cleverest witch of her age. For many, the moment that signified this fact was in the first film, in a scene that has gone on to have a life of its own, in which she schools Ron Weasley (Rupert Grint) during charms class. While practicing the levitating charm, Hermione couldn’t help but let Ron know that his pronunciation of the spell was wrong. Thus the magical moment was born, and paired with Seamus Finnegian‘s burnt off eyebrows, this was one of the more memorable parts that helped solidify Harry Potter into our hearts.
17. Gryffindor Wins!
One of the many staples of wizarding community is their sport of choice: Quidditch. And ever since Harry was first picked to be the Gryffindor seeker (the youngest ever), we’ve all found ourselves in love with the sport as well. Every film subsequently had a big quidditch match up, from Slytherin vs Gryffindor, to Harry vs the Hungarian Horntail, until the field was sadly burned down during the final battle. It has even spawned Quidditch teams all over the muggle world, with colleges even creating their own divisions. Either way, Quidditch, and each time we get to hear “Gryffindor wins!” is an epic part of HP that will never get old.
16. A Troll Escapes The Dungeon!
One of the funniest scenes of the first film was the moment Professor Quirrell (Ian Hart) storms into the great hall to inform the students and faculty that a troll had escaped the dungeon. Seeing the young stars freak out is one of the highlights of the film, but beyond the laughs this scene gives, its also a very pivotal scene in the Harry Potter universe. This is one of the first adventures Harry, Ron, and Hermione ever embarked on, and solidified their friendship when the two boys risked themselves to come back and help their friend. Their first taste of working together as a team, these three would go on to take down the Dark Lord (Ralph Fiennes) together and save the wizarding world for good.
15. “Why Can’t It Be Follow The Butterflies?”
Ron Weasley — the ginger, freckle faced best friend of Harry Potter has one very noticeable attribute. He is deathly afraid of spiders. So of course, when Ron and Harry are tasked to follow a specific creature into the Dark Forest in order to get information to save the school, it would end up being the thing he hates most. From this scene an iconic moment was born. The scene that followed, with the giant spiders, is one that never fails to provide fresh nightmares.
14. Aunt Marge Blown Up
While she may have only been in the series for a scene, Aunt Marge definitely made an impact. As the mean-spirited sister of Mr. Dursley (Richard Griffiths), Aunt Marge struck a chord with Harry as she took the time to attack his deceased parents memory. In a fit of rage, Harry accidentally uses his magic to blow her up like a balloon and we enjoy the chance to watch her sail away into the night. This scene, a moment of pure hilarity and genius, adds to the lighter side of the Harry Potter universe. While there may be a war going on, its still important to stop and take in blown up Aunts when you can.
13. The Cure to All Bad Things: Chocolate
While there is no lack of magical creatures in the Harry Potter universe, one that never ceases to be terrifying are the Dementors. With an infamous kiss of death, these creatures first appeared in the third installment with a vengeance. As one of the creepiest and darkest creatures the Wizarding World has ever seen, and also introduced us to one of the coolest spells ever. Showing us the Patronus charm, fueled by happy memories and taking the form of ones spirit animal, its the perfect match against the darkness. That, and chocolate of course. It seems that whenever the Dementors pop up, fan favorite Professor Lupin (David Thewlis), always has a bar of chocolate to present in order to fix the situation. J.K. Rowling gets it — chocolate is the ultimate cure for everything.
12. Harry and Sirius
A relationship that ended all too soon, but at least we can appreciate the good times we had. In the third installment of the series, we were introduced to “murderer” Sirius Black (Gary Oldman), an Askaban escapee who also happened to be Harry Potter’s Godfather. While his character didn’t make it out of the fifth installment alive, the relationship that developed between the two was hard to resist. The moments shared between Harry and Sirius were sweet and important, giving Harry a small taste of what it’s like to have a real family.
11. Dumbledore’s Army
The fifth installment to the franchise, Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, brought us a slew of memorable moments. Yet none were as epic as the creation of Dumbledore’s Army. In this moment, a band of Hogwarts students came together to take their destiny into their own hands. Refusing to allow the tyranny of Dolores Umbridge keep them down. From their clandestine meetings in the Room of Requirement, to their epic showdown against Death Eaters at the Ministry of Magic, this rebellious act proved that these teens could kick butt.
10. Dumbledore Being Epic As Usual
One of the greatest characters and heroes of the Harry Potter universe is none other than the headmaster of Hogwarts himself, Albus Dumbledore (Michael Gambon, formerly Richard Harris). One of the coolest Dumbledore moments happens during the fifth film, during which the headmaster makes an epic escape from Ministry workers as they attempt to arrest him in his office. With a single clap of his hands and a little bit of phoenix help, Dumbledore used a single movement to solidify himself as one of the most powerful wizards we had ever seen. As the only person who could make Lord Voldemort nervous, Dumbledore was a character we all loved, though never really knew until the very end.
9. Umbridge Gets What She Deserves
While Lord Voldemort was the ultimate villain of the Harry Potter universe, that doesn’t mean he was the only one. In the fifth installment we met one of the more memorable villains in the form of Dolores Umbridge (Imelda Staunton). The Ministry worker who had way too many cat pictures in her office, her eventual take over of Hogwarts was hard to watch and made it easy to hate her. Starting off as Defense Against the Dark Arts professor, her cruel teaching methods and dictator-like rules made her one of the worst hires the school has ever had (and one of them had Voldemort on the back of his head!). Honestly, Umbridge made Snape look friendly. So, when the hysterically deviant Weasley twins finally gave the pink demon the karma she deserved, we couldn’t help but love it. It is a moment we will never forget, and one that we’ve undoubtedly wished we could pull off on our own.
8. Ron Gets Hit By a Love Potion
Being the best friend of the chosen one isn’t always easy. Ron Weasley knows that better than anyone, having had to face spiders, Death Eaters and sudden death for Harry’s sake. One of the funniest casualty moments is when Ron unwittingly takes a love potion that was meant for Harry. The reaction that ensues is hysterical as Ron stumbles about in a lovesick daze.
7. Neville Being Neville
Oh Neville. Neville Longbottom (Matthew Lewis) is the character with the absolute worst luck throughout this entire series. From being frozen by Hermione as a first year, strung up on a chandelier by as a second year, and thinking he’d killed Harry as a fourth year, yeah — his life hasn’t been easy. There is no shortage of Longbottom moments that will leave you laughing or shaking your head. In the final film, he serves this iconic line as he taunts the snatchers.
6. Severus Redeemed
As one of the most misunderstood characters in the entire series, one of the best moments was the reveal that Severus Snape, played to perfection by the late Alan Rickman, was revealed to be actually not a villain at all. Instead he was always harboring a love for Lily Potter, Harry’s mother, whom he had known since childhood. It was that love that drove him to protect Harry all those years, and that kept him fighting the good fight. At the end, Snape was a man fighting for lost love, proving to be one of the greatest hero’s of them all.
5. Neville’s Epic Moment
While Neville may have been one of the unluckiest characters, he also has one of the most epic moments in the entire series. As the only other child who could have been the chosen one, Neville Longbottom was written off by pretty much everyone as an idiot. In the final installment, Neville changes that with not only having a rousing speech in which he directly stand up to Lord Voldemort, but he also kills Nagini (the last living horcrux) with the sword of Gryffindor. Without Neville’s act of bravery, the whole battle could have been lost. So while Harry ended up being the chosen hero in the end, Neville saved everyone, too.
4. The Evolution of Ron and Hermione
We waited patiently through seven books, and eight movies, for the moment Ron and Hermione finally accepted what we all knew to be true: they love each other. While their first kiss in the final book and movie was a moment we’d all been waiting for, it’s the evolution of their relationship that makes the payoff worth it. Butting heads right from the start, their relationship is as rocky as it is funny, and their coming together makes it all the more special. It was a long time coming, but it was most certainly worth the wait.
3. “Not My Daughter, You Bitch!”
Much like Neville, another underappreciated character was given their chance to shine as the series came to a close. In a final match up against the devilish Bellatrix Lestrange (Helena Bonham Carter), none other than Molly Weasley (Julie Walters) came out victorious. With a line that has come to define her kick-ass persona, Molly defended her family to the end and proved that no one should dare mess with this witch. The matriarch of the Weasley clan, Molly was a boss from day one, it only took people eight movies to realize it.
2. The End of Voldemort
As the most cruel and formidable figure in the Harry Potter universe, it was more than satisfying when He Who Must Not Be Named met his end. Having tormented our favorite characters since the start, Voldemort finally met his end in the seventh installment (eighth film), at the hands of Harry Potter and the elder wand that did not belong to him. Cruel and visceral to the very end, Tom Marvolo Riddle was responsible for the deaths of some of our favorite characters *wipes tears in memory of Fred.* The payoff of having the Dark Lord vanquished at the school that gave him his start brought about the end of an era, and the start of peace for all wizard kind.
1. Happily Ever After
While we all hated to see it go, the ending of the Harry Potter series was fitting and true. After all the heart ache, pain, and loss that our titular characters went through, it was only right that they were all able to find their own happy endings. Together till the very end, seeing Harry, Ron, and Hermione send their kids off to Hogwarts wrapped up the series completely with the same values that it began with. Harry Potter was all about love, family, and fighting for happiness. After years of fighting, they finally got just that, their happy ending.