Sometimes, it can be easy to see a villain as a generic bad guy. Someone who wants to rule the world simply because it is what they desire and anything deeper wasn’t created for them. But with Voldemort, we know this not to be true. Not only is the Dark Lord responsible for some of the worst crimes in magical history, but his followers, the Death Eaters, have committed acts that have only bolstered what makes him such a compelling antagonist.
One of the worst acts ever committed in the service of Voldemort was that of the harming of Neville Longbottom’s parents, Frank and Alice. While the demise of Harry’s parents was undoubtedly tragic, it was at least swift. Hours of torment by the Cruciatus Curse from some of Voldemort’s devoted followers drove Frank and Alice into insanity, leaving them as empty shells of their former selves. The damage was so severe that they do not even recognize their only son.
The severity of this may be lost on some fans who have only watched the movies. But there are also elements about Frank and Alice as characters that are never gone into detail in the film adaptations. With so much to cover, it was only natural that several minor characters wouldn’t be explored in their entirety.
Frank and Alice Longbottom are two of the most unsung heroes in the Harry Potter universe. As brave Aurors, they would have willingly given their lives for their cause. But they ended up giving so much more. Here are 25 things fans missed about Neville’s courageous parents.
25 They Were Skilled Aurors
It may seem a bit surprising given that Neville is timid and not as skilled in Defense Against the Dark Arts, but his parents were actually highly skilled Aurors. Plus, there is a very good reason as to why Neville acts the way he does.
Frank and Alice Longbottom worked for the Ministry of Magic, essentially operating as magical detectives.
They even had the respect of the esteemed Alastor ‘Madeye’ Moody, who is one of the most renowned dark wizard catchers of all time. With his admiration, they must have been extremely accomplished.
24 They Were Some Of The First Members Of The Order Of The Phoenix
While Albus Dumbledore was the founding member of the Order of the Phoenix, Frank and Alice Longbottom were two of its earliest members. They were nothing if not brave, seeing the terror that Voldemort and his followers were spreading and joining as soon as they knew of the Order’s existence.
With their help, the Order would go on to cause a lot of trouble for the Death Eaters. They would even come into contact with the Dark Lord himself on three separate occasions and live to tell the tale.
23 Bellatrix Didn't Work Alone
It’s well-known that Bellatrix Lestrange is responsible for what happened to Neville’s parents. But one thing some fans may not know is that she didn’t operate alone. There was Barty Crouch, Jr., of course, though that character was phased out of the movies after his appearance in Goblet of Fire.
But even still, there were two more Death Eaters responsible for the crime.
They were Rudolphus Lestrange, Bellatrix’s husband, and his brother Rabastan. It makes sense to focus on one character for the movies. But in the books, the Longbottoms were harmed by multiple assailants.
22 Their Harming Happened After Voldemort Was Defeated
One of the things that makes what happened to the Longbottoms a bit sadder is that it happened after Voldemort was defeated. Many citizens thought they would have been safe after he fled, but that wasn’t the case.
No one knew what happened to Voldemort after his curse rebounded onto him, not even his followers.
So Bellatrix and her crew sought out the Longbottoms and tortured them for information on his whereabouts. The movies leave out this aspect, making it seem like they did it just for fun. Which, given who Bellatrix is, probably wouldn’t be too far off.
21 They Were Harmed Together
One could assume that Frank and Alice met their fate simultaneously but the gravity of what they had to endure may be lost on some. Yes, they were sent into madness upon receiving of the Cruciatus Curse by multiple Death Eaters at once.
But they also had to watch as the one person they loved most was harmed into insanity.
While we don’t know which one cracked first, it’s hard to imagine what it would be like for one of them to experience seeing their partner end up this way.
20 The Longbottoms Are A Pure-Blood Family
Preachers of pure-blood superiority would probably feel ashamed to know he is one of them, but Neville Longbottom actually comes from a long line of pure-blood wizards and witches. The movies mainly talk of the Malfoys and Weasleys as pure-blood families, two very different sides of a coin.
But there is actually a list, called the Sacred Twenty-Eight, of every pure-blood family in the UK.
It was published by an anonymous source in the 30s or 40s as a way for people concerned with purity to see if they were marrying someone worthy.
19 Neville's Parents Made Him A Possible Match For The Prophecy
The prophecy about Harry explored in Order of the Phoenix essentially named him as the Chosen One to stop Voldemort. And while the movies leave this out, the prophecy also could’ve been meant for Neville.
It speaks of a child born at the end of July to parents that have defied Voldemort three times.
Neville’s birthday is a day before Harry’s and his parents did defy Voldemort on three occasions. But the prophecy also states that Voldemort would mark the child as his equal, meaning that Voldemort would literally choose the Chosen One. And he chose Harry.
18 They Live At St. Mungo's Hospital
One of the key scenes that was left out of the Order of the Phoenix film was one that showed Neville’s parents in their current state. After Ron’s dad was attacked by Nagini in the Ministry of Magic, the gang decided to visit him in St. Mungo’s Hospital for Magical Maladies and Injuries. And there, they ran into Neville visiting his parents.
The scene is absolutely heartbreaking as their current and permanent condition means they don’t recognize their son. The crew would’ve had to build another set just for one scene, so it’s understandable why it was left out.
17 Their Bravery Explains Why Neville Was Sorted Into Gryffindor
Not only did the Longbottoms show immense bravery during their time as Aurors, but also in the face of their extreme harm. And seeing as how Gryffindor is the house for brave students, it seems natural that their son would be sorted into it.
The house takes the student’s feelings into consideration. Neville had actually requested to be put into Hufflepuff, most likely out of fear that he wouldn’t be able to live up to the standards set by his parents. However, he was placed into Gryffindor and there would be many future events proving it was the right call.
16 Their Pure-Blood Status Is Why Voldemort Didn't Target Neville
Even though Voldemort had only ever heard part of Professor Trelawney’s prophecy, he still knew it was about a child born at the end of July to parents that had defied him three times. It could have either been the child born to the Potters or the Longbottoms, all of which were members of the Order.
Their pure-blood status is what saved them from his wrath.
Voldemort assumed the one who would stop him would be half-blood like him and so he targeted the Potters. Unfortunately, they wound up with a fate that was arguably worse.
15 They Were Extremely Popular In The Wizarding Community
Unlike their son, the Longbottoms were an extremely popular couple within the wizarding community. It could be argued that Neville gains the friends he has out of pity, but his parents were loved by many due to their magical talent.
We now know that Neville’s nervous tendencies and lack of skill were born out of a fear of living up to their reputation. And that it was instilled by other family members and hateful children like Draco Malfoy. Which is why when he sheds those doubts, he easily becomes one of the more distinct and interesting characters in the series.
14 Neville Resembles His Mother
Neville is characterized by being short and having a round face. And it’s this round face that makes him resemble his mother the most.
Both Harry and Neville have key scenes describing how important it is that they resemble a parent.
For Neville, it is during a scene where Harry looks at a photograph of the original Order members. He recognizes Alice instantly because of this striking resemblance. Unlike Harry, whose parental similarity is a source for great future accomplishment, Neville’s resemblance to his mother is a source of sadness. It is usually spoken of in remorse rather than admiration.
13 Neville's Grandmother Is Frank's Mother
Though she is only spoken of and never seen in the movies, Augusta Longbottom plays a bigger role in the books. She is seen in a few scenes, one of which is during the visit to St. Mungo’s. The other is during the Battle of Hogwarts.
And she is much fiercer than one would expect an elderly lady to be.
She’s an accomplished duelist, with Neville even stating that the Death Eaters were no match for her during that battle. And with skills like hers, it’s no wonder why Frank grew up to be such an accomplished Auror.
12 The Longbottoms' Sacrifice Is Why Neville's Grandmother Treats Him The Way She Does
Neville’s Grandmother isn’t exactly the most warmhearted person in the world. In fact, it is because of the way she treats him that he was such a nervous wreck for most of the series.
She was incredibly proud of the sacrifice her son and daughter-in-law made, but she may have pushed that onto Neville too much.
Even Dumbledore has stated that this type of pressure can cause magical abilities to lay dormant in a witch or wizard for some time. But it also made Neville incredibly insecure about himself.
11 They Weren't Mentioned Until Goblet Of Fire
It may seem like something as important as Neville’s parents would be mentioned sooner, but they actually weren’t spoken of until midway through the series. Neville only ever spoke of being raised by his grandmother and his parents weren’t mentioned until the trial scene in Goblet of Fire.
It was a clever way of unveiling a mystery that many readers may have not realized even existed. And it added more depth to a supporting character who, up until that point, hadn't received as much development.
10 Some Family Members Thought Their Son Was A Squib
Because of the intense pressure Neville was under to live up to his parents’ legacy, he grew up not showing any signs of magical abilities until he was eight-years-old.
Some family members feared that Alice had given birth to a Squib, a non-magic person born to a magical couple. His Great Uncle Algie even pushed him off a pier to see if it would scare some magic out of him. He also accidentally dropped him out of a window, but Neville’s fight-or-flight response kicked in and he bounced painlessly down the road.
9 "Alice" Means "Noble Type"
J.K. Rowling has shown to choose how to name her characters based on what that name means. “Malfoy,” for example, means “bad faith.”
“Alice” comes from the French name “Adelais,” which in turn is derived from the Germanic name “Adalheidis.” “Adal” means “noble” while “held” means “type,” so Alice is literally the “noble type.” While we don’t know if this is exactly why Rowling chose to name Neville’s mother this, it certainly matches up with what we know of the character.
8 "Longbottom" Refers To A Valley Dweller
Unlike many other names in the world of Harry Potter, “Longbottom” does not mean anything in regards to the character. It is actually a topographical surname in the UK and refers to someone who lives in a valley or a dell.
Rowling had also considered “Pupp” and “Sidebottom” before settling on Neville’s last name. So why pick “Longbottom?” Perhaps she liked the way it sounded or knew that some may not take him seriously because of it, making it more surprising when he turned out to be a bonafide hero.
7 Their Harming Is Considered To Be One Of The Worst Crimes In Wizarding World History
The wizarding world is full of despicable individuals that use their power for dark acts, yet the back and forth of Frank and Alice Longbottom is considered to be one of the worst crimes in wizarding history. Even Barty Crouch, Sr. said as such (in the book) during the trial of the four perpetrators. No wonder he completely disowned his son afterward.
Perhaps it is because of how well-liked they were or because of the permanent damage it left, but there are many characters in the series that still speak of this event with bitter sorrow.
6 Neville Uses His Father's Wand
Non-book readers may have missed out on this interesting bit of character development for Neville, but he inherited his father’s wand once he was accepted to Hogwarts. Whether this made it harder for him growing up because of his grandmother is debatable, but it was a way for him to remember his father and keep a piece of him with him.
That is, until it was destroyed during the battle in the Department of Mysteries.
But this arguably would have been a good way to improve on his skill as his own wand would be better suited for him.
5 Alice Still Feels Motherly Towards Neville Despite Being Insane
There are many aspects about the St. Mungo’s scene that were incredibly sad to witness. But the one that really made the stomachs of every book reader twist was how Alice treated her son.
Despite not recognizing him, Alice still feels a bond of some sort with Neville.
Harry and the others witness Alice give Neville an empty wrapper of Drooble’s Best Blowing Gum as a gift. And even though this is apparently something she gives him upon every visit, he still keeps every one. What a gut punch.
4 Matthew Lewis Was Disappointed The St. Mungo's Scene Was Cut
While solely watching the movies still certainly gives you an idea of Neville as a character, the scene with his parents added more depth and weight to what he was going through. And missing out on this scene meant getting less of a grasp on how hard Neville’s life was.
Matthew Lewis, the actor who portrayed Neville, knew this. He has stated in interviews that he, along with director David Yates, was disappointed they were unable to put it into the film. It’s one of the more concrete scenes in the series that shows the lasting effects of Voldemort’s power.
3 Neville Followed In Their Footsteps
After the Battle of Hogwarts, the Ministry attempted to avoid a situation like Voldemort’s first downfall by not letting any Death Eaters escape. Order member Kingsley Shacklebolt gathered the bravest who fought at the battle as Aurors to help him find remaining Death Eaters and bring them to justice.
Rowling has stated that some of those key players were Harry, Ron, and Neville. It must have brought Neville great pride to take up a position held by both of his parents. Harry and Ron would stay on as Aurors, though Neville would leave to become the Herbology Professor at Hogwarts.
2 J.K. Rowling Never Planned To Heal Neville's Parents
What happened to Neville’s parents was a genuine tragedy, so much so that Rowling used to get fans who would ask her if those effects could ever be reversed. It’s an understandable desire as it would no doubt bring Neville tremendous happiness.
But she felt that this fix would’ve undercut what she had done. It’s important for Neville as a character to go through this just like it’s important for Harry to have lost his parents. It was also crucial to the story to show that the effects of powerful dark magic could not be reversed, making it all the scarier.
1 The Gift Of Candy Wrappers Was Inspired By Real Events
As gloomy as the St. Mungo’s scene is, the real-life story that inspired it is a bit sadder. J.K. Rowling stated that she based the interaction between Neville and Alice, where she gives him the candy wrapper, on someone she knows in real life.
This person, who is a friend of Rowling, visits his mother twice a week in the closed ward that she lives in because of her severe Alzheimer’s. And though she does not recognize him as her son, she does recognize him as the one who brings her sweets since he does every time he visits.