Ode to the Unsung Potter Heroes

What became of Moaning Myrtle when the whole Voldemort vs. Hogwarts things went down?
Nearly Headless Nick?
Were there phantasm casualties?
Did anyone care?

I recently had the opportunity to watch all of the HP films, and there’s something bothering me. Now, my being bothered isn’t particularly special or unusual… there’s usually something bothering me… on any given day, there’s probably something bothering me… but I noticed in the films that the two major heroes (Harry and Dumbledore) were, in point of fact, not necessarily the heroes.
I warn you, I’m going to get a skoch spoilery, so if reading spoilers for films that came out years ago will bother you, I suggest that you stop here.

It could be said that Neville Longbottom and Severus Snape were the real heroes of the tale.
Neville… mistreated, put-upon, stuffed-full-of-awesome Neville… was consistently brave and honorable, and consistently the over-looked, buffoonish plant-lover.
Neville does not get a love interest.
Neville rules the underground Hogwarts roost toward the end of the films, and little is said about his leadership.
Neville fronted off Voldemort. In public. With a bloody ear and a bad leg.
Neville saves two lives in one fell swoop… and is there a moment where the world stops and everyone says, “Good on ya” or “You’re amazing” or “My goodness, you’re attractive” because it’s about time that we all stopped pretending that Neville was an ugly kid?
The film rolls on, desperate to find Harry who was off being the chosen one while Neville held down the fort.

I ask you… is that fair?

Out of all of the deaths we were privy to witness, was there any death more horrifically violent than Snape’s?
Up until that point in the films, I had actually believed that Snape lived to receive his heroic propers before the closing credits, so to see him die… not a quick, sanitary death like all of the others (except Dobby… poor thing, that was rough), but an absolutely brutal, nightmarish death… just about killed me.
The others watching the film probably did not see me cry.
I cry very discretely.
The trick is in not touching your face and letting the moisture evaporate, and for heaven’s sake DON’T SNIFFLE LIKE YOU’RE A KINDERGARTENER WITH A HEAD COLD.
Snape was a very nuanced “villain” in my opinion… I never 100% believed that he sided with the dark, simply because, despite the everlasting snark, he always somehow managed not to actually wound Harry in any way, and as it turns out, Snape is revealed to be responsible for saving Harry multiple times.
Post mortem, of course.
Do we, the film goers, get to watch everyone that remained at the ruined Hogwarts tip their caps to Snape, who did everything Dumbledore did, just backwards and very pale and as the object of everyone’s scorn?
Did we get to see a funeral for this tormented, chronically misunderstood and perennially unloved warrior?
Did we even get to see a finally at peace Snape (perhaps with a bit of a tan) in the afterlife (which apparently resembled a rather disappointing train station)?
Because Harry and Dumbledore were the golden ones.

I enjoyed the movies, but I have to confess that if I ever needed a fictional example of the real life tendency for good to go unnoticed and unrewarded, I received it here in spades.
Never mind spades… there were an entire BACKHOES OF INJUSTICE.We overlook people who aren’t handsome… who are quiet and a bit clumsy… who don’t come from famous (or infamous) stock and don’t have the charisma to command scores of followers. We ignore the plodders, who do the work while the shiny stand up front and shine. We ignore the gloomy who never smile because they’re gloomy and never smile, and it wouldn’t occur to us that their depressive nature and pained expression is because they’re doing the dirty work that we’re too good for.
I found myself almost disliking Harry and Dumbledore for their consistent ability to be the most important person in the room, despite the blood, sweat, tears, and intelligence of scores of others who tried harder.
By “almost”, I mean that I totally disliked them and I’m not sorry.
Shouldn’t the measure of a hero not be that they were born with a destiny, but that they out-tried and out-fought everyone else and toiled behind the scenes in ridicule?
Is it possible that we often miss who the story should really be about?
Maybe those of us who stand out front are less deserving of praise that those who are consistently overlooked and undervalued.
Maybe Snape should have lived to see his name cleared, and Neville should have been sending a tiny Longbottom to school with Harry’s child.

I have succeeded in taking a film with a “happy ending” (not for Longbottom and Snape, of course) and turned it into a distressing treatise on the seedy underbelly of hero worship.
You’re welcome.
You may proceed with your day.


8 thoughts on “Ode to the Unsung Potter Heroes

  1. But Neville does get a love interest! We just don’t see it in movie. It’s implied that he and Luna get together. Also, I’m sorry I hit you. Clearly our ways of expressing our feelings about movies are very different, LOL.


    1. Well, THAT would be nice… he certainly acted like he was. Was that in the books? I’m starting on the first one next month.


  2. While he doesn’t get a full-blown, on-screen funeral, Snape does get the most heart-wrenching of send-offs through the pensieve — which God bless Alan Rickman for his always-amazing performances.

    And Harry does give his second son the man’s name. That’s a pretty big nod — even if there’s never a definitive show of appreciation.


  3. OMG YES! YES, YES, YES! I want to marry this post.

    I am a ginormous Potterhead, and I despise those movies. I’m not super impressed with some of the things JKR let slide in the novels, either. There are plot holes, and missing character development, and I was intensely disappointed in her that Snape was consistently shafted. He worked the hardest, gave the most, arguably suffered the greatest, and in the end, had nothing to show for it. No happiness. No lover. Hell, he didn’t even get an “easy” death.

    I suspect that is part of the reason why Severus Snape is the darling of the Potter fandom.


  4. I haven’t read the books or watched the movies, full disclaimer. Not that I’m opposed. In defense of this blasphemy, I haven’t made time for most things I am a huge fan of already either. 🙂

    That said, those of you still reading should know that I love this post. It takes a beautiful mind capable of many things above and beyond ordinary to make the observations so eloquently made in this post. And for that, I thank you!

    Grunting cave man say me like when society get ugly truth exposed. Grunting caveman value fairness and justice… Will trade shiney stone for equity.

    I guess that weird humor I just tried represents an awkward reference to the last comment I made. I alluded to something along the lines of reading your words and holding them in my mind beside my own mental chatter makes me feel like a grunting caveman. But that would be implicit of both comments were seen together, right?

    Grunting caveman say thank you for you sharing your thoughts and making the world a more beautiful place. 🙂


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