Top 10 Teenage Duelists in Harry Potter
Dueling in Harry Potter
With powerful witches and wizards like Dumbledore, Snape, and Voldemort featured prominently, the impressive magic of the adolescent wizards and witches in the Harry Potter series if often overlooked. Despite their inexperience, we witness several impressive magical displays from our teenage cast, and many held their own in duels against veteran sorcerers.
The best duelists have a plethora of spells to fall back on, quick reflexes, and the ability to use non-verbal magic. Some characters wield additional boons that prove useful in combat. But with hundreds of Hogwarts students to explore, which of the youth reign supreme? These are the ten strongest teenage wizards and witches in Harry Potter!
10. Luna Lovegood
Introduced in the fifth book, Order of the Phoenix, Luna's quirky and strange nature belies impressive courage and magical talent. Although she often appears to have her head in the clouds, Luna's surprisingly shrewd and perceptive, as her Ravenclaw sorting and riddle-solving prove.
More than that, Luna's also a capable duelist, surviving the Battle of the Department of Mysteries, the Battle of the Astronomy Tower, and the Battle of Hogwarts while only suffering minor injuries. Luna's also skilled enough to produce a Patronus charm (hers adopts the form of a hare), an advanced piece of magic few can perform, and she's also capable of wordlessly stunning a Death Eater, again a difficult piece of sorcery. Having improved her skills in the Dumbledore's Army club under Harry's guidance, Luna helps Neville and Ginny lead the resistance during Voldemort's rule over Hogwarts in Deathly Hallows.
9. Draco Malfoy
Despite his haughty nature, at heart Draco isn't a bad person, and he's surprisingly well-rounded with his magical repertoire. Draco is skilled in potion-making, talented as a Seeker for the Slytherin Quidditch team, and very proficient in Occlumency, able to block out Snape's attempts to read his mind. Before the end of his fourth year, Draco was shown to have mastered several charms and hexes, including the Dancing Feet and Tooth Growing, spells as well as the Protean charm (something only Hermione Granger was capable of at that age).
Most relevant to our purposes, Draco's a gifted duelist, almost defeating Harry during their confrontation in Half-Blood Prince and even dueling Harry to a draw in Cursed Child. Draco also displays experience with non-verbal magic and could even cast the Leg-Locker curse in Sorcerer's Stone, something Hagrid claimed no first year should be capable of.
8. Ginny Weasley
Despite being a year younger than the main trio of protagonists, Ginevra Weasley showcased an advanced mastery over magic. She developed her skills under Harry's guidance in Dumbledore's Army and helped Neville and Luna lead the group in Deathly Hallows. She also learned the difficult Patronus charm (Ginny's morphs to a horse), and survived the same battles Luna did with few injuries. Alongside Luna and Hermione, Ginny dueled Bellatrix Lestrange in Deathly Hallows, and while three against one seems like an easy fight, they faced one of the strongest witches in history and managed to battle her to a draw.
Beyond that, Ginny's noted as an agile fighter, capable of dodging several spells due to her swiftness and small size. Her reflexes earn her a spot as a Chaser on the Gryffindor Quidditch team, and she's remarkably skilled with the dark magic Bat-Bogey hex, so much so that Professor Slughorn inducted Ginny into his Slug Club simply for her adeptness with the curse.
7. Neville Longbottom
In the early Harry Potter books, Neville seemed a weaker student, often needing help from others to succeed. However, as Professor McGonagall noted, this was mostly due to using an incompatible hand-me-down wand as well as self-esteem issues. Once both problems were rectified, Neville became a formidable warrior who proved his worth on several occasions.
Neville was exceptionally skilled in Herbology, seemingly exceeding even Hermione in talent, achieved an Exceeds Expectations in his Defense Against the Dark Arts O.W.L., and later worked as an Auror, hunting down nefarious criminals. Neville was notably the last of Harry's allies (not counting Harry himself) to fall in the Battle of the Department of Mysteries, mastered the shield charm faster than anyone besides Hermione, led the remnants of Dumbledore's Army in Deathly Hallows, and even destroyed one of Voldermort's Horcruxes (Nagini) using the Sword of Gryffindor.
6. Fred and George Weasley
Fred and George didn't excel academically, but this was due to apathy, not lack of skill. Harry once remarked, "they really know their stuff," and the pair opened their own magic joke shop "Weasley's Wizarding Wheezes" after leaving Hogwarts, filled with their own magical creations.
Both twins were remarkably proficient as Beaters for the Gryffindor Quidditch team; Harry noted he never found replacements as talented as them. Fred and George would have successfully performed an Unbreakable Vow—before even attending school—if their father hadn't stopped them, an advanced piece of magic for such a young age. Alongside Lee Jordan, George fought and defeated the Death Eater Yaxley in the Battle of Hogwarts, and both twins were amazingly talented with charms, baffling even Professor Flitwick and Hermione with their ingenious and inventive abilities. Fred and George also have rare talents in non-magical areas like lock-picking, helping round out their expansive arsenal.
5. Hermione Granger
Hermione's the most talented student of her generation, although her weakest area is dueling itself, the only subject she received an Exceeds Expectations in (rather than Outstanding) during her O.W.L. exams. Still, her vast assortment of spells grant her a pool of magic to fall back on that few of her peers can access. Though she fell relatively early in the Department of Mysteries, Hermione managed to take out two Death Eaters in that time, and she helped Luna and Ginny battle Bellatrix Lestrange to a draw, despite being handicapped by wielding Bellatrix's wand instead of her own.
Hermione was also quick on the draw, once casting a shield between Harry and Ron before they could pull their wands on each other, and she was the first to master the Patronus Charm (hers taking the form of an otter) under Harry's tutelage. Despite dueling being her worst subject (other than Divination), Hermione managed to become a Defense Against the Dark Arts teacher in one of Cursed Child's alternate timelines. She even managed to cast the tricky Memory Charm after only reading the theory beyond it, and throughout Deathly Hallows, she helped defeat a variety of foes, saving Harry's Chosen One bacon more than once.
4. Ronald Weasley
Similarly to Neville, Ron's abilities once suffered due to insecurity, but he frequently proves himself a surprisingly competent duelist. Ron fought well in the Battle of the Seven Potters, avoiding injury and managing to stun a Death Eater, disarmed the formidable Bellatrix Lestrange, incapacitated several foes during the Skirmish at Malfoy Manner, and (alongside Neville) took down the werewolf Fenrir Greyback during the Battle of Hogwarts.
Ron achieved an Exceeds Expectations in his Defense Against the Dark Arts O.W.L. and showcased his capabilities with his career as an Auror. Ron's also not a stranger to using his fists when necessary, and managed to cast a Slug-Vomiting charm (despite it backfiring due to his broken wand) without using the proper incantation in Chamber of Secrets. Additionally, Ron's a strategic expert, shown through his skill with Wizarding Chess, can imitate voices well, and shows clever thinking on numerous occasions (like with his idea to use basilisk fangs to destroy Horcruxes).
3. Cedric Diggory
The champion of Hufflepuff, Cedric Diggory was a skilled wizard who displayed several talents despite his relatively brief time in the series, enough for Barty Crouch Jr. to remark on his abilities. Diggory was also the true candidate from Hogwarts selected by the Goblet of Fire for the Triwizard Tournament, hinting at his prowess, and he tied with Harry for first place (and likely would have won outright if Crouch Jr. hadn't been rigging matters in Harry's favor).
Diggory was also the captain and Seeker for the Hufflepuff Quidditch team, and his squad was one of few to beat Harry's in a match (although this was partially due to the Dementors knocking Harry unconscious). Cedric was a good-natured rival to Harry, competing for Cho Chang's affections, in Quidditch, and in the Triwizard Tournament. Finally, Diggory was shown to be skilled in transfiguration and charms, using them respectively to conquer the dragon and aquatic challenges of the tournament.
2. Harry Potter
Harry's a strong student in most areas, but he was notably the best duelist of his grade, the one area Hermione admitted he exceeded her in. He was the first of his year to master the Patronus charm (his taking the form of a stag) under Remus Lupin's instruction, and he used his dueling knowledge to instruct Dumbledore's Army after discovering Umbridge's ineffective teaching. He was also the only student of his year to achieve an Outstanding in the Defense Against the Dark Arts O.W.L., and he even built up a resistance to the Unforgivable Curse Imperius, letting his willpower counter its controlling effects.
In the Department of Ministries clash, Harry was the only student to emerge unscathed, and he was especially skilled with both the Stunning spell and the Disarming spell, with many seeing Expelliarmus as his signature attack. Harry eventually mastered the Elder Wand, survived several encounters with Voldemort, was possibly the best Seeker in Hogwarts history, and was promoted to Head of the Auror Office at only age 26. James and Lily would be proud.
House: N/A (presumably would have been Slytherin)
I'll avoid spoilers for those who haven't experienced Cursed Child, but let's just say Delphini (or Delphi, as she prefers) comes from a strong line of talented wizards and witches. Despite her young age of 19 and not actually attending Hogwarts, Delphi manages to hold her own against Harry, Ron, Hermione, and Draco—simultaneously!
Although the adults eventually conquer her, the fact that Delphi managed to duel them relatively evenly for several minutes showcases her incredible latent abilities. As talented as Harry was, Snape absolutely dominated him in their one-on-one battle; Delphi performed far better against not one but four veteran wizards and witches, cementing her as the strongest adolescent warrior we've ever seen.
Which character is your favorite?
The Future of Harry Potter
Although the main series has concluded, we're still being treated to more wizarding adventures thanks to the Pottermore website and the prequel Fantastic Beasts series. Through Harry's story, we saw him and his friends grow into mighty spellcasters able to compete even with powerful dark wizards and witches, and I look forward to discovering additional talented students through J.K. Rowling's future endeavors.
But for now, as we Muggles eagerly await more tidbits about the Wizarding World, vote for your favorite character, and I'll see you at our next Harry Potter countdown!
© 2018 Jeremy Gill