The magical wizarding school of Hogwarts wouldn’t be the same without its cast of professors. Some of the best wizards and witches of their time are hired to teach at Hogwarts, and they pass down their knowledge to the students—some of which will, in turn, become Hogwarts professors. Harry Potter and his friends saw their fair share of professors during their years at Hogwarts, some extraordinary, some plain sinister, some great, some completely incompetent. The Defence Against the Dark Arts classroom, in particular, has seen many, many professors over the years, as no professor could hold the position for longer than a year.
Just like in real life, Hogwarts professors shape their students for better or for worse. They guide the young witches and wizards and watch out for their well-being, and prepare them for their O.W.L.S. and N.E.W.T.S. Before Harry’s time, of course, Hogwarts had different professors, whom fans don’t always know about, but who also shaped the wizarding world. Many of them wrote the books Harry and his friends use in class, for instance.
Hogwarts’ professors are some of the most iconic characters of the series—think of Dumbledore, whose end shattered thousands of fans, or Snape, whom Potterheads either despise or idolize. For your enjoyment, here is a definite ranking of 25 of these professors. Note that they are not ranked according to their power or wisdom, but rather, according to their teaching ability, to how much they taught their students, and to the way they protected them in the dark times that followed Voldemort’s return.
25 Dolores Umbridge (Defence Against The Dark Arts And Headmistress)
Who better to top this list than famed villain Dolores Umbridge? All Harry Potter fans love to hate the pink-clad Defence Against the Dark Arts Professor.
Not only was Umbridge a prime example of how the scariest villains aren’t always the menacing-looking ones, but she was also a pretty terrible teacher.
Hogwarts had a few bad Defence Against the Dark Arts Professors, but Umbridge was arguably the worst of the lot. She failed to teach the students any useful spells and consistently bullied and abused them physically.
24 Bartholomew Crouch Jr. (Defence Against The Dark Arts)
He was one of Voldemort’s men masquerading as a Hogwarts professor—you can’t really get worse that. Bartholomew Crouch Jr., disguised as Mad-Eye Moody, taught Harry and his peers a couple of Unforgivable Curses.
Granted, he actually taught them something, which is more than we can say about Umbridge.
The whole bit where he turned Draco into a ferret was pretty cool, but completely against Hogwarts rules. All in all, he was one of Voldemort’s followers and a dark wizard, which earns him this spot on the list.
23 Professor Quirrell (Defence Against The Dark Arts)
Of course, Professor Quirinus Quirrell had to be somewhere near the bottom of the list. The seemingly inoffensive Defence Against the Dark Arts Professor turned out to be one of Voldemort’s followers. And not just any old Voldemort supporter, either: he gave the Dark Lord life by allowing him to “live” on the back of his head. Working for Voldemort and trying to end his students once the school year is finished definitely qualifies Quirrell for a spot on the bottom of this list.
22 Amycus Carrow (Dark Arts)
Amycus Carrow was also one of Voldemort’s followers, but unlike Quirrell and Bartholomew Crouch Jr., he didn’t have to hide—he was appointed Defence Against the Dark Arts teacher during Voldemort’s short reign, when Severus Snape was Headmaster of Hogwarts. His class essentially became a Dark Arts class—guess that’s what happens when the teacher is a dark wizard. He tormented and harmed students, and eventually ended up in Azkaban. Amycus once spat in McGonagall's face, prompting Harry to use the Cruciatus curse on him, which gives you an idea of how sinister he was.
21 Alecto Carrow (Muggle Studies)
Alecto was Amycus’ sister, and, of course, also a Voldemort supporter. She started working at Hogwarts at the same time as her brother, contributing to Snape’s reign of terror. Alecto was the Muggle Studies teacher, but instead of teaching students about muggles, she taught them “how Muggles are like animals, stupid and dirty, and how they drive wizards into hiding by being vicious toward them, and how the natural order is being re-established.” She was, just like her brother, sent to Azkaban after Harry and his friends won.
20 Professor Emerett Picardy (Author Of Why Lycanthropes Don't Deserve To Live)
Professor Emerett Picardy wasn’t teaching anymore by the time Harry Potter and his friends came to Hogwarts. He did, however, have an impact on the wizarding community, and particularly on the way they view werewolves. Emerett Picardy was the author of Lupine Lawlessness: Why Lycanthropes Don’t Deserve to Live. The title alone gives you an idea of why he’s so low on this list. Professor Picardy’s work was “noted for its incorrect conclusion that werewolves lose their moral sense while in human form.”
19 Gilderoy Lockhart (Defence Against The Dark Arts)
Gilderoy Lockhart wasn’t, like most of the professors I’ve mentioned so far, unequivocally sinister. He was a liar, a fraud, and a terrible teacher, but he wasn’t a Voldemort supporter or a dark wizard.
He didn’t harm or abuse his students—unless you count forcing Harry to answer his fan mail for him as abuse.
He did, however, use his talent for memory charms to obliviate other wizards and take the credit for their accomplishments, which makes him an all-around terrible person.
18 Professor Binns (History Of Magic)
Now, while Lockhart, Umbridge, the Carrows, and the other professors cited on this list so far were antagonistic characters, Professor Binns wasn’t one of Harry’s enemies.
He was, in fact, a rather harmless professor—his only fault was being really, really boring.
Binns is Hogwarts’ resident ghost professor, who, according to Pottermore, passed “in his sleep and got up in the morning to teach lessons, leaving his body behind”. He teaches History of Magic and has a talent for lulling his students to sleep with his incredibly dull lessons.
17 Professor Sinistra (Astronomy)
Professor Aurora Sinistra taught Astrology at Hogwarts; she was a good friend of Professor Wilhelmina Grubbly-Plank and Professor Pomona Sprout. She had a reputation for being a strict professor and giving lots of homework, but there’s no indication either in the books or on Pottermore that she was a bad teacher. She makes an appearance in the Hogwarts Mystery mobile game, and, during Harry Potter’s time at Hogwarts, she danced with Mad-Eye Moody (or rather Bartholomew Crouch Jr. disguised as Moody) at the Yule Ball.
16 Professor Beery (Herbology)
Professor Beery taught at Hogwarts before Harry’s time. He was the Herbology teacher before Pomona Sprout, when Armando Dippet was Headmaster. He’s mostly known for his love of theatre, however. He put together several performances at Hogwarts, but the very first one ended in a fire and a duel, and his later plays were less successful because of it. He then left Hogwarts and went on to teach at the Wizarding Academy of Dramatical Arts and was replaced by Professor Sprout.
15 Professor Merrythought (Defence Against The Dark Arts)
Professor Galatea Merrythought was the Defence Against the Dark Arts teacher when Tom Marvolo Riddle was still a student. A highly competent professor, she taught alongside Albus Dumbledore himself and she was at Hogwarts for over 50 years. She eventually retired, leaving the DADA professor post vacant. The young Tom Riddle applied for the position and was refused, prompting him to curse the post so that none of the future Defence Against the Dark Arts Professors would last longer than a year.
14 Professor Burbage (Muggle Studies)
Professor Charity Burbage was the Muggle Studies professor when Harry Potter and his friends were at Hogwarts. Unlike Alecto Carrow, she thought Muggles weren’t too different from witches and wizards and expressed tolerant views in her class. She met a tragic end as Voldemort attacked her for expressing her pro-Muggle views in the Daily Prophet. Charity Burbage was, according to Hermione Granger, a fascinating teacher, but she was abducted and repeatedly attacked by Voldemort and his followers, who eventually cast Avada Kedavra on her.
13 Professor Grubbly-Plank (Care Of Magical Creatures)
Professor Wilhelmina Grubbly-Plank was a good friend of Professor Sinistra’s and replaced Rubeus Hagrid for a while as Hogwarts’ Care of Magical Creatures Professor. Hagrid, who’d previously occupied the post, was away on a mission for Dumbledore for a year, and Professor Grubbly-Plank took over. She was a very competent teacher, and introduced her students to unicorns, among other things. She even passed Dolores Umbridge’s inspection, and some of her students privately thought she was a better teacher than Hagrid (or at the very least, a safer one).
12 Professor Trelawney (Divination)
Professor Sybill Trelawney was the Divination professor during Harry’s time at Hogwarts. Some Professors, like Minerva McGonagall, weren’t confident in Trelawney’s abilities as a Seer, and Dumbledore himself had been planning to discontinue the subject before he hired her. She was later put on probation and fired by Umbridge, which caused her great distress. However, Sybill was a true Seer, and though many of her prophecies were inaccurate, she discovered the prophecy that announced Voldemort’s defeat. This is why Dumbledore hired her: he knew she would be in danger from Voldemort and hoped that he could protect her at Hogwarts.
11 Professor Snape (Potions)
It pains me to put Snape so far down on this list, as he was a gifted Potions instructor and a great wizard. Snape was the Half-Blood Prince, and he invented his own spells at a very young age. He also tweaked potions recipes to make them better and more potent. When Harry got Snape’s old Potions book, he suddenly became very good at making potions. However, Snape bullied and tormented his students because of his own personal grudges, which makes him a great wizard but a pretty poor teacher.
10 Madam Hooch (Flying Instructor)
Madam Rolanda Hooch was the Flying Instructor at Hogwarts, but also the Quidditch coach and referee. She was a highly competent teacher and, according to Harry Potter Wikia, was “respected by her students because of her liking for fair-play and clean games.”
As flying and Quidditch can be dangerous for unexperimented students, Madam Hooch focused on safety a lot.
This is highlighted in the flying lessons in the Hogwarts Mystery mobile game. She is also the one to check the broom Harry Potter is sent for jinxes and curses.
9 Professor Slughorn (Potions)
Professor Horace Slughorn, was, according to some, a coward and a manipulative wizard who used his students for connections. According to others, he’s the perfect example of a Slytherin wizard.
He’s not sinister and doesn’t follow Voldemort, but he’s ambitious and doesn’t hesitate to use whatever means he has to reach his goals.
Apart from the moral questions the “Slug Club” poses, Professor Slughorn was, arguably, a good teacher—not as brilliant as Snape, but not a bully, at least.
8 Firenze (Divination)
Firenze the centaur took over Divination classes after Umbridge fired Trelawney. He’s the one who saved Harry Potter from Quirinus Quirrell back in the forest. Unlike other centaurs, Firenze was pro-humans. He shared Divination classes with Sybill Trelawney after she was reinstated by Dumbledore, and taught students other ways of divination; his teachings are related to Astronomy and Astrology, instead of, for instance, Cartomancy. He was the only non-wizard teacher at Hogwarts during Harry’s time but was allowed to return to his centaur colony after Voldemort was defeated.
7 Professor Sprout (Herbology)
Pomona Sprout excelled at Herbology and was the Head of Hufflepuff and the Herbology teacher when Harry and his friends attended Hogwarts. She resisted Dolores Umbridge’s tyranny and helped to chase Snape out of Hogwarts when he was headmaster. She also fought in the Battle of Hogwarts. Professor Sprout was also a kind, competent teacher, who treated her students with respect and taught them well. Among her best students was Neville Longbottom, who later went on to become a Herbology professor himself.
6 Professor Flitwick (Charms)
Professor Flitwick was the Charms Professor during Harry’s time (and long before that). He was a half-goblin professor and the Head of Ravenclaw.
He was a talented duelist and protected students from Amycus and Alecto Carrow during Snape’s reign as Hogwarts Headmaster.
He also participated in the Battle of Hogwarts and was a competent and kind teacher. When the Weasley twins transformed a Hogwarts corridor into a swamp to spite Umbridge, he kept a bit of their spell as a tribute to them.
5 Rubeus Hagrid (Care Of Magical Creatures)
Rubeus Hagrid’s classes were maybe not as safe as Professor’s Grubbly-Plank, but Hagrid’s affinity for magical creatures, and his vast knowledge of them, makes him an excellent teacher. He was, before beginning to teach, the groundsmaster at Hogwarts, and Dumbledore trusted him immensely. Not only that, but he was a father figure to Harry and a loyal friend to him, Hermione, and Ron. Hagrid was a gentle soul who cared for his students and for his animals, which makes him a great teacher, albeit an unconventional one.
4 Neville Longbottom (Herbology, After The Series)
It was very gratifying to learn that Neville Longbottom became the Herbology Professor after the Battle of Hogwarts. Throughout the Harry Potter books, we got to see young, timid Neville become increasingly confident in his skills as a wizard. At the battle of Hogwarts, he ends Nagini and receives the sword of Godric Gryffindor from the sorting hat. From what we see of him in Dumbledore’s Army, it’s obvious Neville would be a kind, compassionate teacher. He’s also extremely talented for Herbology and was almost the Chosen One, which grants him a high spot on this list.
3 Professor Dumbledore (Defence Against The Dark Arts, Transfiguration, Headmaster)
Dumbledore was one of the greatest wizards of all time. He’s an undeniably powerful, wise man, and a wizard who’s had many roles at Hogwarts over the years. He was Headmaster of course, but also the Transfiguration Professor, as well as the Defence Against the Dark Arts Professor. From what we see in Fantastic Beasts, he was an exceptional teacher. However, he manipulated and used Harry to make sure he fulfilled the prophecy, and showed bias in the way he treated students from different houses, which is why he doesn’t have the top spot on this list.
2 Professor McGonagall (Transfiguration And Headmistress)
Professor Minerva McGonagall was the Head of Gryffindor, the Transfiguration Professor, and, after Dumbledore’s passing, the Headmistress of Hogwarts. Minerva was wise, always fair, and an unbelievably powerful witch, as well a kind—if strict—professor.
She resisted Dolores Umbridge, showed no fear of her and fought bravely in the Battle of Hogwarts.
Professor McGonagall was also an Animagus and, arguably, one of the best professors Harry had at Hogwarts. This extraordinary witch may not have been as powerful as Dumbledore, but she looked out for her students better than he did, in some ways.
1 Remus Lupin (Defence Against The Dark Arts)
Harry Potter and his friends saw a revolving cast of Defence Against the Dark Arts teachers, most of which were objectively terrible, ranging from an imposter to a tyrant and a Voldemort supporter in disguise. Remus Lupin, on the other hand, was a kind, gifted teacher, who actually taught his students useful spells like Riddikulus and Expecto Patronum. He was a member of the Order of the Phoenix and fought during the battle of Hogwarts, during which he lost his life. He was not only a father figure to Harry but also one of his most competent teachers.