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Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone, the first installment in the movie franchise based on the iconic Harry Potter book series, turns 20 years old today, Nov. 16. It’s been two decades since a young wizard, his pals, a magical school, and a villain who shall not be named changed the course of movies forever. Not only is it the third-highest-grossing film series of all time — trailing only the MCU and Star Wars (with fewer installments than both) — but it has also inspired theme parks, a spin-off movie series, and thousands of Halloween costumes. (What kid born after 1995 hasn’t donned the Gryffindor robes on Oct. 31 at least once?)
But if you’re reading this article, you already know that. Which is why our focus today is not on why the Harry Potter movies are so great, but rather on one specific aspect of them — and that is the greatest fictional sport ever depicted on screen, Quidditch.
Quidditch is an unsung hero of the Harry Potter movies. Life at Hogwarts for Harry, Ron, and Hermione can certainly get dark throughout the films, but Quidditch is always there to add a change of pace. While the magical sport doesn’t appear in every movie (it’s only in five of them, to be exact), it provides consistency, not unlike Harry’s Snitch-seeking prowess that he so often displays throughout his time at Hogwarts.
(For those that might need a refresher: Quidditch is a magical game played on broomsticks that each Hogwarts House fields a team for. Each team has seven members that consist of three Chasers, two Beaters, one Keeper, and one Seeker. The Chasers try to score with the Quaffle, the Keeper tries to defend the goals against the Quaffle, the Beaters bat the Bludgers toward their opponents and away from their teammates, and the Seeker tries to catch the Golden Snitch, which earns their team 150 points and ends the game. Each Quaffle goal is worth 10 points.)
Without further ado, it’s time to hop on our broomsticks and hit the pitch, because we’re about to rank the best Quidditch scenes in Harry Potter.
HARRY BEING NAMED SEEKER/OLIVER WOOD TEACHING HIM THE BASICS ‒ HARRY POTTER AND THE SORCERER’S STONE (2001)
While these scenes don’t show us any actual Quidditch action, they establish the rules of the game and introduce us to the importance of Quidditch on the Hogwarts campus. We see Gryffindor captain Oliver Wood teach Harry how to play Quidditch, and more importantly, we quickly discover that Harry is a natural. If Harry is the Michael Jordan of Hogwarts Quidditch, then this is probably how the Chicago Bulls felt watching MJ’s first practice.
Best quote: “Rough game, Quidditch! Brutal! But no one’s died in years. Someone will vanish occasionally, but they’ll turn up in a month or two!” ‒ Fred and George Weasley to Harry
MALFOY INTRODUCED AS SLYTHERIN’S NEW SEEKER ‒ HARRY POTTER AND THE CHAMBER OF SECRETS (2002)
Manning vs. Brady. Federer vs. Nadal. Potter vs. Malfoy. A rivalry that was already a year in the making gets a whole lot testier after Slytherin introduces second-year student Draco Malfoy as its new Seeker. Clearly, Slytherin Captain Marcus Flint just couldn’t say no to Lucius Malfoy buying the entire team Nimbus 2001s. Either way, we get a fun stand-off between the Gryffindor and Slytherin teams in the Hogwarts courtyard that sets the stage for one of the series’ most iconic Quidditch matches.
Best quote: “At least no one on the Gryffindor team had to buy their way in. They got in on pure talent.” ‒ Hermione to Malfoy
RON TRYING OUT FOR THE GRYFFINDOR TEAM ‒ HARRY POTTER AND THE HALF-BLOOD PRINCE (2009)
A long-standing Quidditch fan himself, Ron spent five years watching his older brothers, best friend, and his little sister represent Gryffindor on the pitch while he merely watched from the sidelines. That all changes in Half-Blood Prince when our red-haired friend finally summons the courage to try out for the position of Keeper on the team. While Ron is visibly nervous, he manages to outplay the intimidating Cormac McLaggen — thanks in part to Hermione secretly casting a Confundus charm that throws McLaggen off his game. Would this be considered a performance-enhancing drug in the Wizarding World? Should Ron have been suspended for one game after a hefty investigation from the school? Probably, but the magical powers-that-be look the other way, and Ron makes the team. Not only does this scene mark Ron’s Quidditch debut, but it’s also the one and only time in the entire series that we see the Gryffindor team rock their cool practice jerseys — the more you know!
Best quote: Cormac: “I’ll be going out for Keeper as well. It’s nothing personal.”
Ron: “Really? Strapping guy like you, you’ve got more of a Beater’s build, don’t you think?”
THE FINAL RANKINGS
6. GRYFFINDOR VS. SLYTHERIN IN THE SNOW ‒ HARRY POTTER AND THE HALF-BLOOD PRINCE (2009)
Also known as “The Ron Weasley Game” in Hogwarts lore, this is a wonderful match that sees Gryffindor and Slytherin ‒ the Wizarding World’s version of Yankees vs. Red Sox ‒ go at it against a beautiful snowy backdrop. This is actually the last on-screen appearance of Quidditch in the film series, but what a way to end it. Ron plays lights out in a Rudy-esque performance, batting away every Quaffle sent in his direction and sending the Gryffindor student section into a raucous frenzy. Harry, at this point, is the Captain and a six-year member of the team. Now he’s like late ‘90s Jordan ‒ he’s a smart and savvy veteran who knows exactly what to do in every situation of the game. In this case, it’s to let Ron absolutely cook. Also, shoutout to the post-game party in the Gryffindor Common Room, where there were definitely a few students overserved on Butterbeer.
Best quote: “WEASLEY! WEASLEY! WEASLEY!” - Every Gryffindor student (and you at home chanting along, too, probably)
5. THE QUIDDITCH WORLD CUP - HARRY POTTER AND THE GOBLET OF FIRE (2005)
While the beginning scene of the fourth Harry Potter installment is best known for Barty Crouch, Jr. conjuring the Dark Mark at the campground and signaling Voldemort’s ultimate return, it's the championship match at the 422nd Quidditch World Cup beforehand that helps us understand just how big this sport really is.
We watch Harry, Hermione and the Weasleys roll up to a stadium that looks like Wembley on steroids in eager anticipation of watching Bulgaria vs. Ireland duel it out in front of thousands of fans. Visually, this scene is one of the most astounding in the entire film, as we see the Irish team zoom in and create a massive dancing leprechaun in the sky that’s quickly erased by Bulgaria’s intense, heart-stopping entrance. Of course, this scene also introduces us to Bulgarian superstar Viktor Krum — basically, he’s like the Messi or Ronaldo of Quidditch (he has Ron, someone who’s probably never set foot in Bulgaria, fawning over him). Although this scene doesn’t actually have Harry or any students competing, it shows us the prominence that Quidditch plays in the wider Wizarding World outside of Hogwarts.
Best quote: “He’s more than an athlete. He’s an artist!” ‒ Ron on Viktor Krum
4. THE FIRST FLYING LESSON - HARRY POTTER AND THE SORCERER’S STONE (2001)
Babe Ruth’s first time picking up a baseball, or Michael Phelps’s first swim in a pool — that’s what it was like when Harry Potter first hopped on a broomstick. Against Madam Hooch’s directions, Harry soars up into the air to reclaim his fellow Gryffindor housemate Neville Longbottom’s Remembrall. Malfoy, unsurprisingly, throws the object as far as he can — and the rest is history. Harry darts through the air and incredulously manages to catch the Remembrall right before it’s about to smash through Professor McGonagall’s office window, which leads to McGonagall recruiting him for the Gryffindor team.
McGonagall’s decision here is akin to Pat Riley recruiting LeBron James to the Miami Heat; it was a franchise-altering move that led to multiple Gryffindor Quidditch Cups. Also, McGonagall is clearly a Gryffindor fan first and a disciplinarian second, for good reason.
Best quote: “Wood, I have found you a Seeker!” ‒ Professor McGonagall
3. GRYFFINDOR VS. HUFFLEPUFF - HARRY POTTER AND THE PRISONER OF AZKABAN (2004)
Prisoner of Azkaban was an artistic and tonal departure from the first two movies, as Oscar-winning director Alfonso Cuarón took over behind the camera and injected a much darker and grittier feel that certainly influenced the next five movies. In stark contrast to the bright and sunny Quidditch matches of the first two films, Cuarón opted instead for a dark and stormy game interspersed with flashes of lightning.
We watch Harry chase after the Snitch, flying higher and higher until his broom starts to form ice crystals on it. He’s met by the Dementors, who promptly try to suck out his soul as he tumbles off his broom and falls downwards through the sky. Thankfully, Dumbledore saves him, but not before his prized Nimbus 2000 is destroyed by the Whomping Willow. This is the first and only time in the series that the Hogwarts Quidditch match we’re shown isn’t Gryffindor vs. Slytherin; instead, we see the red and gold take on the yellow and black of Hufflepuff. More notably, this is the first and only time that Harry and Gryffindor don’t succeed at Quidditch — up until this moment, we are only presented with winning moments. Even the GOAT has his off days, I guess.
Best quote: Ron [looking at Harry lying in his infirmary bed]: “He looks a bit peaky, doesn’t he?”
Fred/George: “Peaky? What do you expect? He fell over 100 feet. Let’s walk you off the Astronomy Tower and see what you look like.”
Harry: “Probably a right sight better than he normally does.”
2. GRYFFINDOR VS. SLYTHERIN - HARRY POTTER AND THE CHAMBER OF SECRETS (2002)
These final two scenes are both absolute classics, and the argument could be made that either one of them deserves the top spot on our list — but taking second is the Gryffindor vs. Slytherin matchup that serves as the cinematic apex of this storied rivalry.
The match starts off chaotically, as there’s a rogue Bludger specifically targeting Harry, who has to dodge it as Malfoy hits him with arguably the weakest trash talk ever spoken on broomstick (“Training for the ballet, Potter?”). We then see one of the most exciting shot-for-shot sequences in the entire series, as the two rivals start chasing after the Snitch under the stadium, dodging beams, Bludgers, and even little Colin Creevey in the process. After Harry’s right arm is broken by the Bludger, the match ends with him grabbing the Snitch with his one healthy arm and dramatically falling to the ground. Huzzah! But not so fast; the inept Professor Gilderoy Lockhart rushes over and tries to fix Harry’s broken limb, but his magical incompetence does the opposite and leaves Harry with no bones in his arm. At least Gryffindor got the dub.
Best quote: Professor Lockhart [after casting an incorrect spell on Harry’s arm]: “Very clearly, the bones are not broken.”
Hagrid: “Broken? There’s no bones left!”
1. GRYFFINDOR VS. SLYTHERIN - HARRY POTTER AND THE SORCERER’S STONE (2001)
The Citizen Kane of Quidditch scenes is the very first match we got in the entire series: Gryffindor vs. Slytherin in an all-time classic duel. In Harry’s first ever Quidditch match, we see Gryffindor get off to an early lead after Angelina Johnson nets two quick scores, only for Slytherin to fight right back and tie it up. With the stadium roaring and the stands shaking, Harry spots the Snitch and dives after it with the Slytherin Seeker right on his tail. Shortly after, Harry’s broomstick starts to mysteriously malfunction (we later learn it was Professor Quirrell, and not Snape, who was messing with the broom). Harry eventually gets close enough to the Snitch where he stands up on his broomstick like a surfboard, reaches out, and tumbles off of it. The crowd looks on with bated breath as Harry stands up, holds his stomach, and spits something out. And whaddaya know — it’s the Snitch! This is the ultimate Quidditch scene in the series. It’s our first time experiencing all of it: the players, the fans, the inter-House rivalry, the booming stadium, the iconic music. Not even evil Professor Quirrell could spoil it.
Best quote: “He’s got the Snitch! Harry Potter receives 150 points for catching the Snitch!” ‒ Lee Jordan