Jeremy casts spells in between his careers as a chemical analyst and campus manager.
Harry Potter and Duels
The Harry Potter books and movies have enchanted audiences for years. Throughout the many pages chronicling Harry's adventures, he encounters a plethora of powerful wizards and witches. But which one could fight like no other? Voldemort? Snape? Crabbe?!? Okay, maybe not him, but today we'll take a look at the very best duelists of the wizarding world.
The 10 Best Duelists
No ancient wizards, like Godric Gryffindor or Salazar Slytherin, are included. Also, spoilers ahead.
- Kingsley Shacklebolt
- Molly Weasley
- Alastor "Mad-Eye" Moody
- Bellatrix Lestrange
- Minerva McGonagall
- Severus Snape
- Filius Flitwick
- Gellert Grindelwald
- Lord Voldemort (Tom Riddle)
- Albus Dumbledore
10. Kingsley Shacklebolt
A member of the Order of the Phoenix who was introduced in book five, Kingsley Shacklebolt demonstrates great strength. He's held his own against many powerful dark wizards like Bellatrix Lestrange and Augustus Rookwood.
In book seven (Deathly Hallows), Kingsley single-handedly holds off Voldemort before the Dark Lord disengages to battle Harry. Later, with help from Professors McGonagall and Slughorn, Kingsley duels Voldemort yet again in an almost-equal match. Throughout the series, he survived many battles and conquered several Death Eaters.
His role in the movies is limited due to time constraints, but Kingsley's might is unquestionable.
9. Molly Weasley
The good-natured mother of Harry's best friend, Ronald Weasley, turns out to be an amazingly skilled duelist. Though we almost never see her fight, Molly Weasley battles and kills Bellatrix Lestrange, an immensely powerful dark witch and Voldemort's second-in-command. Molly demonstrated incredible proficiency with non-verbal spells and rapidly hexed Lestrange with a myriad of curses, finally breaching through her defenses.
Molly's far stronger than we gave her credit for, though it should be noted that Lestrange's loss was partially due to her not taking Mrs. Weasley seriously.
8. Alastor "Mad-Eye" Moody
Alastor "Mad-Eye" Moody was widely considered to be the best Auror of all time, a man hired to track and bring in dark wizards. Moody was said to be personally responsible for filling half the cells in Azkaban prison.
In the books, Moody defeats several Death Eaters, and during the broomstick chase at the beginning of Deathly Hallows, he's noted by Voldemort as the biggest threat. Moody eventually falls to a Killing Curse cast by the Dark Lord, but the spell wouldn't have connected if not for the cowardly Mundungus Fletcher's interference.
Moody was no doubt a powerful duelist and surely even more fearsome in his prime.
7. Bellatrix Lestrange
The right-hand woman of Lord Voldemort, Belleatrix Lestrange is one of the most cruel, sadistic characters featured in Harry Potter. That doesn't stop her from being an amazingly talented duelist. She survived loads of fights throughout the series, usually walking away victorious.
Her most notable accomplishments include defeating and killing Sirius Black, taking on three skilled witches at once (Hermione Granger, Ginny Weasley, and Luna Lovegood), and even deflecting a spell from Albus Dumbledore.
Lestrange's insanity and arrogance was her downfall, causing her to fatally underestimate the abilities of Molly Weasley.
6. Minerva McGonagall
The elegant head of Gryffindor House, Professor McGonagall fights rarely but exceptionally. She triumphs against the Death Eater Alecto Carrow in book six (Half-Blood Prince). More notably, she duels Severus Snape to a draw and later takes on Voldemort himself alongside Kingsley and Professor Slughorn. Despite her old age, McGonagall proves to be a powerful force of good capable of out-dueling much younger and nimble opponents.
In addition to her fighting abilities, McGonagall is intelligent, an expert at Transfiguration, and an Animagus, allowing her to transform into a cat at will.
5. Severus Snape
A fan-favorite, Severus Snape should not be underestimated. Sirius Black once stated Severus knew more curses when he arrived at Hogwarts than half of the seventh-year students. Like McGonagall, we rarely see him battle, yet he's always impressive. He defeats Gilderoy Lockhart with a single spell, fights McGonagall to a draw, and absolutely dominates Harry in a duel at the end of Half-Blood Prince.
Plus, Severus is an amazing spy, excellent with potions, capable of reading the minds of others, and known to have invented his own spells, like the destructive sectumsempra.
4. Filius Flitwick
This amazing duelist unfortunately receives much less focus than other characters, often causing him to be overlooked. Flitwick is the Charms teacher at Hogwarts and Head of Ravenclaw House. Back in his youth, Flitwick earned the title of "dueling champion" thanks to his incredible magical proficiency.
Evidently, his skills haven't diminished. Flitwick is the wizard who takes down Death Eater Antonin Dolohov, who himself was a talented fighter that beat Mad-Eye Moody and killed Remus Lupin. Flitwick is particularly skilled with defensive magic and produces many powerful shielding spells.
Though overshadowed by more prominent characters, and given somewhat comical moments in the films, Flitwick remains one of the strongest fighters introduced in the series.
3. Gellert Grindelwald
House: N/A (He attended Durmstrang)
Considered the second most dangerous Dark Wizard of all time, Gellert Grindelwald likely would have taken over the wizarding world if not for the intervention of Albus Dumbledore.
The two once had what is widely considered the greatest duel of all time, lasting a whopping three hours, with Dumbledore narrowly emerging the victor. Grindelwald was boosted by the power of the Elder Wand, but even with its help, being able to almost defeat Dumbledore in his prime shows just how dangerous Grindelwald was.
Years later, even when facing torture and death at the hands of Voldemort, Grindelwald seems to have the psychological edge, laughing as he refuses to help Voldemort locate the Elder Wand.
2. Lord Voldemort (Tom Riddle)
The Dark Lord of courses proves to be a menace few can stand against. Voldemort murders and out-duels many wizards, and evenly battles an Elder Wand-brandishing Dumbledore. He killed Alastor Moody, Severus Snape, and James and Lilly Potter, among others. He also fought three incredibly skilled duelists, Kingsley, McGonagall, and Slughorn, and might have won if not for the interference of Harry Potter.
Harry foiled Voldemort twice, once as an infant and once as a young man, but both instances were the results of flukes rather than skill. As a child, Lilly's love for Harry rebounded Voldemort's curse back at him, and as an adolescent, Harry triumphed against Voldemort only through mastering the powers of the Elder Wand.
Voldemort was a terrible (yet great) wizard who I'm convinced is the second strongest duelist of all time.
1. Albus Dumbledore
The seemingly infinite wisdom and kindness of Dumbledore contrasts with his almost unbelievable dueling abilities. Dumbledore is simply the strongest wizard in the series. Intelligent, brilliant, and well-rounded, Dumbledore defeats several Death Eaters in seconds. However, his most impressive accomplishments are evenly dueling Voldemort, despite being hampered by extreme age, and overcoming an Elder Wand-wielding Grindelwald.
Dumbledore displays more intelligence than any other wizard, and he also owned every Deathly Hallow at various points in time. He shows a mastery of dozens of spells, seeming to favor the element of fire. Though he perishes, no other character did more to combat the evil of Grindelwald and Voldemort than Albus Dumbledore.
Other Duelists in Harry Potter
As we can see, all the best duelists come from Hufflepuff. <- Sarcasm.
Hopefully you've enjoyed reviewing the mightiest wizards in Harry Potter. J.K. Rowling introduced so many talented champions that it was challenging to squeeze in just ten, but for now, vote for your favorite of the younger duelists, and I'll see you at our next countdown!
For each question, choose the best answer. The answer key is below.
- Which isn't an Unforgivable Curse?
- Avada Kedavra
- Which is the Shield Charm?
- What does Reducto do?
- Blasts objects.
- Shrinks objects.
- Deflects spells.
- Incinerates its target.
- Which counters the stunning spell Stupefy?
- Petrificus Totalus
- Boggarts are vulnerable to which spell?
- Wingardium Leviosa
- Blasts objects.
Interpreting Your Score
If you got between 0 and 1 correct answer: Troll.
If you got between 2 and 3 correct answers: Not too bad.
If you got 4 correct answers: Well done!
If you got 5 correct answers: Perfect, you know your hexes!
Questions & Answers
Question: Sirius from Harry Potter shouldn’t have died, but why did he laugh before he did?
Answer: He shouldn't have died? He faced an accomplished witch who overcame him, and he died nobly protecting his godson. I'm guessing you mean you didn't want him to die, which we can all probably relate to.
If you knew you were about to die, what would your reaction be? I've known people who laugh when in tough situations, not out of humor but because that's just how they react. It could also simply be shock and confusion.
Question: What is Voldemort's real name?
Answer: Voldemort's real name is Tom Marvolo Riddle.
Question: Is Harry Potter a better duelist than Hermione Granger?
Answer: Yes. Hermione undoubtedly knows more spells, but I'd give it to Harry regarding reflexes and unorthodox thinking. Remember, the only class Harry beat Hermione in (for the OWL examinations) was Defense Against the Dark Arts, which incorporates a lot of dueling skills.
Question: What is the most powerful magical object in Harry Potter?
Answer: Probably one of the Deathly Hallows is the most powerful. The Elder Wand certainly helps in battle (though its bearers often suffer a gruesome fate).
Time Turners are powerful too, but they come with limitations.
Question: Shouldn't Harry Potter be the second strongest wizard as he killed Voldemort?
Answer: No. That was *not* a traditional duel. Harry didn't beat Voldemort with dueling skill, but with the the aid of the Elder Wand. Unquestionably Voldemort was the more skilled wizard; Harry just had a nearly-invincible wand on his side.
Question: Which spell is the best to counter dragons in the Harry Potter universe?
Answer: Avada Kedavra may be able to instantly kill a dragon, but due to their natural resistance to magic, this may require multiple wizards (as does the stunning spell "Stupefy"). Krum's Conjunctivitis Curse proved effective in the Triwizard Tournament, successfully blinding the dragon by causing irritation in its eyes, and Harry's tactic of summoning his broom with "Accio" also helped match his foe's speed.
Question: How come there weren't any clues in the movies about the relationship between Harry and Ginny?
Answer: Some fans definitely agree that their romance isn't the series's highlight, but I always thought it made sense. Ginny had a crush on Harry for years, and marrying her connects him with the Weasleys, the family he's been closest to his entire life. It even connects him to Hermione; Harry's wife's brother is Hermione's husband, so they're now siblings-in-law, allowing everyone to remain together even after Hogwarts.
Ginny is also a fan of Quidditch and shares Harry's spunk, Hogwarts House, and slightly-rebellious nature. The films don't have as much time to explore their connection, so I can understand your thoughts if you're referring to them.
Question: How did Voldemort from Harry Potter get so disfigured?
Answer: A combination of years of dark magic, splitting his soul into several pieces with his Horcruxes, and having the killing curse rebounded at him.
Question: Who killed Lupin and Tonks in Harry Potter?
Answer: During the Battle of Hogwarts, Antonin Dolohov (who almost made this list) killed Lupin, and Bellatrix Lestrange killed Tonks.
Question: Was Harry Potter the most powerful wizard of his generation?
Answer: In terms of dueling ability, yes. If you're talking more general terms of knowledge and technique, Hermione would probably win.
Question: It seems that Harry is more powerful in comparison to Dumbledore - as Dumbledore had fought and defeated Gellert Grindelwald with much difficulty, and he was afraid to fight Voldemort, as Voldemort had some powers which he could only dream of. But Harry defeated Voldemort. So, Harry should be on the top of the list of the most powerful wizards. Do you agree?
Answer: I see what you're saying, but Harry's triumph against Voldemort wasn't really a fair duel (we've seen before that Voldemort absolutely wrecks Harry in a typical fight); Harry "won" because of the Elder Wand (and plot armor).
Remember, Harry was easily beaten by Snape, who (as skilled as he was) couldn't compare to Voldemort.
Question: Is Harry Potter important or strong?
Answer: Both. He's a very capable duelist considering his young age, and of course he's integral to the plot.
Question: What made people in the Harry Potter Universe think Sirius Black was guilty?
Answer: The Potters ultimately entrusted their hiding location to Peter Pettigrew instead of Sirius, but since many already believed Sirius was their choice, it probably wasn't difficult for Pettigrew to frame him when he betrayed the Potters to Voldemort. I'm sure the Death Eaters had some influence in the Ministry of Magic.
Pettigrew ruined not James and Lily's life but also Sirius's, making him all the more loathsome.
Question: Why is Flitwick before Snape?
Answer: People tend to root for Snape because of his character arc, but from what we know of Flitwick, he was a champion duelist and incredibly skilled with charms.
Additionally, size matters very little in wizarding duels. Flitwick's diminutive stature would actually help him avoid hexes while casting his own.
Question: Is Draco a Death Eater??
Answer: He was sort of becoming one, but mostly because of family pressure and such. So not really, no.
Question: In Harry Potter, why couldn’t the Phoenix tears of Fawkes heal George Weasley’s ear?
Answer: Good question. Perhaps Phoenix tears can only heal existing injuries, not replace severed body parts.
Unfortunately for George, this seems to be a world where they've figured out how to regrow bones, but haven't mastered how to reattach ears. Perhaps if he'd found his ear in time, it could have been surgically sewn back onto his body.
Question: Why didn't Aberforth made it to the list as one of the strongest wizards in the Harry Potter universe?
Answer: I believe I recall one of the books/author interviews mentioning Aberforth had greatly reduced talent compared to his brother, and we don't see him much, so it's hard to gauge his power. Still, I'm sure he's no slouch in battle.
Question: Can you name all of Voldemort's Horcruxes?
Answer: 1. Tom Riddle's diary
2. Marvolo Gaunt's ring
3. Salazar Slytherin's locket
4. Helga Hufflepuff's cup
5. Rowena Ravenclaw's diadem
6. Nagini the snake
7. Harry Potter (inadvertently)
Note the symbolic lack of a Gryffindor horcrux.
Question: Which house do you think Grindelwald would be if he went to Hogwarts?
Answer: Although I don't think it's true that every dark Wizard belongs to Slytherin, (after all, Peter Pettigrew was a Gryffindor), Grindelwald definitely seems like a Slytherin.
Question: How did Voldemort - or Tom Riddle - come back in The Chamber Of Secrets if he was last seen as a ghost in The Sorcerer's Stone?
Answer: A piece of his soul resided within the diary Ginny obtained, which turned out to be a Horcrux. That wasn't the "real" Voldemort, more like a phantom of him.
Question: Who killed Dobby in Harry Potter?
Answer: Bellatrix Lestrange's knife caused him a fatal injury.
Question: Why is Harry considered a powerful wizard?
Answer: Harry excelled in Defense Against the Dark Arts and had much more actual combat experience than his peers, making him a force to be reckoned with despite his young age.
That said, he was too inexperienced to take on seasoned veterans like Snape or Voldemort.
Question: What is Hagrid's mother name?
Answer: Hagrid's mother is the giantess Fridwulfa.
Question: How do you think an adult Harry Potter would rank on this list of strongest wizards?
Answer: Hard to say without much evidence of his abilities as a grown wizard, but he'd probably be somewhere around Snape's level of dueling. I don't think he'd ever approach Voldemort and Dumbledore, but I'd rank him above the lower entries with some experience under his belt.
Question: Is there anyone who could beat Dumbledore in Harry Potter?
Answer: In my humble opinion, no. He's the strongest wizard of all time (especially with the Elder Wand, and particularly when he was younger and at his prime).
Question: Do you think Snape might have been braver than even Gryffindors?
Answer: Yes; as cool as the Hogwarts Houses are, they tend to limit our thinking, as people are more than just brave, smart, cunning, and loyal. For instance, Hermione is one of the most intelligent characters, but she's not in Ravenclaw. Similarly, Snape can be courageous without being in Gryffindor.
Question: In Harry Potter, who is a better duelist, Hermione or Ginny?
Answer: Despite Defense Against the Dark Arts being her worst class (not counting Divination), I'd go with Hermione for her insane spell knowledge.
Question: What happened to Cho Chang in the Harry Potter series?
Answer: All we know is that she survived and married a Muggle. Presumably, she's still on good terms with Harry.
Question: How strong is James Potter?
Answer: Honestly, I'm not sure, as we haven't seen him in many duels. He tried to hold off Voldemort, but was wandless, so it's anyone's guess how long he would have lasted if armed.
Question: Do you think that Neville Longbottom should kill Bellatrix Lestrange in Harry Potter?
Answer: Molly Weasley beat him to the punch, but I don't think this question has a clear-cut answer. Killing her woudn't undo the damage to his parents, but I'm sure Neville wanted their torturer dead or at least in Azkaban.
Question: What happened to Death Eater Antonin Dolohov in Harry Potter?
Answer: Dolohov, who very narrowly missed today's list, was defeated by Professor Flitwick in Deathly Hallows. After that, his fate isn't mentioned, but it's a safe bet he was imprisoned in Azkaban.
Question: What is the relationship between Dumbledore and Grindelwald in Harry Potter?
Answer: Read book seven (Deathly Hallows) to learn more, but basically they used to be friends (and possibly more) but ending up fighting over moral differences.
Question: Dumbledore himself stated that Harry is an extremely powerful wizard, as he defeated hundreds of dementors in his 3rd year, when many adults could not even make a Patronus shield. So why isn't Harry 3rd in this list?
Answer: You not only want Harry on the list, but all the way in third place? Harry is a very talented duelist considering his young age, but he's just not experienced enough to take one of these adult warriors. Do you remember how he got absolutely trounced against Snape, a guy who didn't even really want to hurt him?
Plus, the Patronus Charm, arguably Harry's best spell, doesn't have much use in traditional duels against other wizards.
Question: How did Tom Riddle become Lord Voldemort?
Answer: Sorry, but I think your question is misleading. Some of Voldemort's origins have been explained in books 6 and 7, including his creations of the Horcruxes, but it seems his descent into darkness was a gradual process, not one magnetic moment. He wasn't a good person who suddenly turned evil, but a corrupted soul who slowly got worse.
Question: Who is the Half-Blood Prince in Harry Potter?
Answer: Snape is the Half-Blood Prince, as revealed at the end of book six.
Question: Why did Tom Riddle change his name to Lord Voldemort?
Answer: It's more intimidating and distances himself from his Muggle relatives.
Question: In Harry Potter, was Harry a better duelist than Kingsley?
Answer: Maybe he eventually became one (Harry always excelled at Defense Against The Dark Arts), but considering Kingsley's power and experience, no, teenage Harry isn't better than him.
Question: In the Harry Potter series, who did Luna Lovegood marry? What about Neville Longbottom?
Answer: Luna married Rolf Scamander, grandson of Newt (the protagonist in the Fantastic Beasts film). Neville married Hannah Abbott, a minor Hufflepuff character from the same year.
Question: What about Sirius Black? Shouldn't he be included in this list?
Answer: As beloved as Sirius was, he doesn't have much of a dueling record. All we really know about his skill is that he ultimately lost to Bellatrix, which is not the most optimistic of data about his abilities.
After all, the guy was chained in Azkaban for awhile, which I imagine doesn't allow many opportunities to perfect one's dueling.
© 2016 Jeremy Gill
Curtis on July 19, 2019:
2. Voldemort (only because he split his soul into way too many Horcruxes)
7. Mad-eye moody
The rest are all about the same to me
Ahsan on March 16, 2019:
To be honest I have always thought Grindelwald is more powerful than Voldemort. Tom may be more evil but Grindelwald was smarter and more cunning. Proof for that is that he was the only man ever to manipulate Dumbledore.
McP on December 06, 2018:
1. Albus Dumbledore - he was a bit more skilled then Grindelwald, and managed to defeat him, while he was in posses of Elder Wand. He also had the upper hand in hif fight against Voldermort while not even trying to kill him. This time Albus was in posses of Elder Wand, but was also much more older.
2. Grindelwald - in my opinion, Voldermort would not be albe to fight Dimbledore as long as Grindelwald did. Don't get me wrong, I consider Voldemort as much more dangerous opponent, with superior knowledge in a dark arts. He would won the war against Gellert. But I consider Gellert as superior duelist.
3. Voldemort - as above.
4. Amelia Bones - it's implied, that Voldemort killed her by himself, and she managaged to give him a fight. That's enough for me, as McGonagall, Kingslay and Slughorn did the same while fighting three against one (and perhaps being supported by Harry as well, as I remember?).
5. Filius Flitwick
6. Severus Snape
7. Minerva McGonagall
8. Bellatrix Lestrange
9. Alastor Moody
10. Kingsley Shacklebolt, perhaps. No idea, Lupin, Dolohov, Harry, James, Sirius, Slughorn, Molly are all quite close.
Jeremy Gill (author) from Louisiana on October 28, 2018:
Not yet; Cursed Child is a book/play.
Lupin's skilled, but in my humble opinion, not quite enough for today's list.
Glad you mentioned Merlin; I may do an ancient wizard countdown in the future (possibly including Godric Gryffindor, Merlin, and the like), so please keep your eyes peeled!
Harry's definitely a great duelist; if it helps, he recently made the list for my adolescent-age wizard and witch countdown.
Andrew on October 28, 2018:
I have not seen Harry Potter and the cursed child but all my friends who are Harry Potter fans say it’s a movie
TM on October 27, 2018:
What about Remus Lupin
Jennifer B from Bolingbrook on August 05, 2018:
Awesome quiz. I can't wait to see where the story goes with Fantastic Beasts 2
Smertrius on August 02, 2018:
Merlin would beat them all
Poppy from Enoshima, Japan on July 15, 2018:
Harry himself should be on this list!
CH on June 24, 2018:
I'm not entirely certain that Voldemort was stronger than Grindelwald. Voldemort was more evil, yes, and was entirely selfish. Grindelwald was a zealot in his beliefs
Jeremy Gill (author) from Louisiana on March 21, 2018:
There are some limitations to time turners that casual fans often don't know about. First, they should only be used to go back a few hours, as anything longer *always* results in catastrophe. Second, the Ministry's supply of time turners was destroyed in the battle at the end of Order of the Phoenix, eliminating their potential usage.
To be honest, these were likely stipulations J.K. Rowling invented later to explain away the plot hole, but I suppose the rules make enough sense to satisfy our curiosity.
Anjaneya on March 21, 2018:
So.. harry and his 2 friends posses the time turner...
why don't they just cancel tom riddle's admission in hogwarts in the past... this may not lead to to learn magic? no magic no voldemort
Morgan on March 19, 2018:
Grindelwald is stronger than Voldemort. Voldemort didn't evenly duel dumbeldore. Dumbeldore knew about the horcruxes and that he couldn't kill him. The ministry also didn't believe and wouldn't acknowledge Voldemort was back so he was trying to delay long enough for them to arrive and see him. Then there's the fact that he was also trying to protect Harry.
None of these are powerful on February 08, 2018:
most powerful wizard is calimbrimbor or KAMBMSFGLA
Ivy Meshle on January 18, 2018:
I'd have put Flitwick lower down the list, and moved McGonagall up.
Voldemort should switch places with Gellert Grindelwald as I think Grindelwald is more skillful; it's just that Voldemort kills more people
Dan D on December 30, 2017:
Tom Peachy is right, Dumby, Voldy, Snape, Grindelwald and then go from there.
Tom Peachey on December 22, 2017:
I think it is
Dumbledore, Gindelwald, Voldemort, Snape, Mcgonagall, and so on
Jeremy Gill (author) from Louisiana on December 19, 2017:
@Moo and Lasercookie
Hermione and Lupin certainly aren't weak, but neither is quite skilled enough at dueling to make the cut.
I'm not saying that I think Grindelwald is stronger than Voldemort, but him being the second most-dangerous dark wizard may refer Voldemort's higher death count and following, not necessarily dueling skill.
Naveera on December 19, 2017:
This is Ausome i love it
I am a big fan of J.K Rowling
moo on December 16, 2017:
where is hermione
Lasercookie on March 24, 2017:
What about Remus Lupin
Mike on December 11, 2016:
Grindelwald is never implied to be stronger than Voldemort. Hes always refrred to as the second most dangerous dark wizard of all time (Voldy is first) and he lost to Dumbledore despite having the elder wand.
CYong74 on November 22, 2016:
Grindelwald is said to be second only to Voldy. But ... he's from the 20s. Well. before Voldy's refining of the whole dark magic genre. I'm of the belief Snape probably knew far more dark spells than Grindelwald.
We'd probably find out more with the new movie series.
Jeremy Gill (author) from Louisiana on November 21, 2016:
It's debatable, but I recall the opposite: Voldemort implied to be stronger than Grindelwald.
JeremyB293 on November 21, 2016:
CYong74 Grindelwald is implied to be stronger than Voldemort, so how can Snape possibly be even close to him?
Ced Yong from Asia on July 20, 2016:
I would personally rank Snape to be above Flitwick and Grindelwald. But otherwise your list makes a lot of sense. Great too that you highlighted Bellatrix lost possibly because she underestimated Molly. A lot of lists doesn't highlight that.