Today is the birthday of Hermione Jean Granger, who is, without a doubt, the brightest witch of her age. In the Harry Potter series, Hermione proves time and time again that Harry Potter and Ron Weasley wouldn’t have lasted six seconds without her. Ron himself says as much in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 1, telling Harry that they “wouldn’t last a day” without her. He’s right.
Hermione — played in all eight films by Emma Watson — is smart, talented, brave, and insanely loyal. She takes her studies very (very) seriously, but she knows when her friendships need to come first.
Whether it’s giving Harry emotional support, dealing with her feelings for Ron (who has the emotional range of a teaspoon), single-handedly saving the day with her brilliance, or just being true to her own quirky nature, Hermione is one of the best characters in Harry Potter canon. What better way to celebrate her fictional birthday than by highlighting 12 of the best Hermione moments in the series? They are unranked, of course, because trying a feat so magical is something only Hermione could pull off. So mount your brooms, and don't break ranks if one of us is killed.
"Oh, are you doing magic?"
In her very first scene in the very first movie, Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone, Hermione lets us know right away who she is. While trying to help "a boy called Neville" find his toad, she comes across Harry and Ron. She may have been showing off a little (we’re not judging), but she makes the effort to help fix Harry’s glasses almost immediately. Her reaction to Ron’s failed “spell” is hilarious, and Watson nails the line “Are you sure that’s a real spell? Well, it’s not very good, is it?”
We're instantly intrigued and charmed by the character, and it's only a matter of time before Harry and Ron (especially Ron) are, as well.
The death of Harry’s parents is a huge part of the Potter story, and Ron’s entire family is involved in the fight against the darkness. When the Cornish Pixies really hit the roof at the start of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 1, Hermione is the only one of the three who has to protect her parents from harm. To do so, she makes an incredible sacrifice — she erases herself from their minds.
Not only is she talented enough to perform the spell, but the quest (and her bond with Harry and Ron) is of such importance to her that she actually does it. Photos of her vanish before our eyes, and Watson lets us see very clearly how devastating this is for her. Once it’s done, she walks out of her home and straight into the darkest two movies in the series. For all she knows, that’s the last time that she’s ever going to see her parents. She also never mentions to any other character that she’s done this — she makes this very personal sacrifice and never comes close to leveraging it with anyone, even when the trio starts infighting.
Dentistry, a dangerous profession
This is a small moment, but a great one just the same.
Hermione has a glorious scene of showing her geeky side during Professor Slughorn’s dinner in Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince. She mentions that her parents are muggles and that they are dentists. Slughorn asks her if that is a dangerous profession, and Hermione can’t resist sharing that a patient bit her father once.
The way Watson plays it, you can tell she almost doesn’t share the detail... but Hermione thinks it’s funny, and she loves her father, so she tells the little anecdote anyway. It doesn’t go over that well with the Slug Club (it’s not a classic anecdote, but whatever), but it goes over very well with us. Hermione may be muggle-born, but she’s not ashamed of it. She loves her parents and she will celebrate them however she sees fit.
The beaded bag
This is a big one — without Hermione’s forward thinking in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 1, the trio would have been completely Avada Kedavra’d with no Protego in sight. Hermione knows that the three of them may have to flee at any moment, and so she’s already packed an enchanted (and seemingly infinite) Mary Poppins-style bag that contains everything (seriously, everything) that the gang might need on their Horcrux hunt. She crafted the thing herself with an untraceable extension charm. Sounds easy!
From clothes to potions to a magic tent to plenty of books (of course), she’s brought it all. If she hadn’t, the trio’s quest would likely have been over a few minutes after they apparated out of Bill and Fleur’s wedding, and Voldemort would have won. Thanks, Hermione, and thank you, beaded bag!
Cool use of intellect (Devil's Snare)
Going back to the first movie again, Hermione proves she can be calm and intelligent under pressure when the trio gets entangled in deadly Devil’s Snare toward the film's end. Ron is panicking, but Hermione harnesses what Dumbledore later refers to as “the cool use of intellect.” She is able to get them out of the deadly herbological trap.
Though it’s different from the book’s version (Ron gets out of the snare just fine in the book, with Hermione later solving a very, very difficult potions puzzle to prove her mettle), the result is the same — Hermione doesn’t panic, she thinks. She solves. She saves.
Within the Shrieking Shack
In Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, Harry and Hermione find themselves face to face with “mass murderer” Sirius Black after they follow a captured Ron into the Shrieking Shack. Everything Hermione does in this scene is fantastic, but there are two moments that stick out.
First off, Remus Lupin is there, too. She wastes no time in letting them all know that he’s a werewolf and that she’s known for some time. Lupin is impressed, and says that she really is "the brightest witch of her age." The second moment? That would be when she says that if Sirius is going to kill Harry, then he’s going to have to kill all of them.
Sirius Black is not a mass murderer — we know this now. In this scene, however, the trio has no idea that this soon-to-be-a-fan-favorite-godfather is anything other than what we’ve heard he is for the entirety of the film. She’s ready to die for her friends, and we don’t question her for a second. Brave and selfless, her actions here are something that we should all aspire to.
I love it when a Dumbledore's Army comes together...
When Delores Umbridge tries to make Hogwarts great again in Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix (and by that, I mean ruin it), Hermione is the one who decides that she’s not going to take it. Dumbledore and the other professors are apparently helpless — Hermione realizes that it’s up to the students.
She organizes a resistance, which quickly becomes “Dumbledore’s Army.” If they aren’t going to be taught how to defend themselves by the teachers, then Hermione figures out a way for them to learn from Harry. It is a monstrous bit of rule-breaking, something Hermione would normally never be a part of, but it’s for the greater good. She has more than a little fun while doing it, too, and she says as much.
Just to make things clear: in her fifth year at Hogwarts, Hermione takes it on herself to convince Harry to be a teacher, and then essentially creates a junior version of the Order of the Phoenix. In fifth grade I got an A- on an essay about Alaska, so Hermione almost certainly has me beat.
It may have taken six movies, but Hermione’s feelings for Ron really start to show in Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince. Ron feels the same way, but as both Hermione and myself have already noted, he has the emotional range of a teaspoon.
Getting on the Gryffindor Quidditch Team means everything to Ron, and Hermione knows it. The only reason he makes it on the team at all is because of her — she puts a whispered Confundus charm on the awful Cormac MacLaggan during tryouts, and Ron ends up as Gryffindor’s keeper.
Not only is she there in the stands watching the tryouts, she actively cheats at sports to make the guy that she hopelessly likes happy. It’s important to him, so it’s important to her. This isn’t just some simple crush, either — these two have been through life and death and back again by the time this scene comes around. There’s nothing in it for her, she does it because she loves this Weasley idiot. I adore Ron, too, so I say that with love. How does Ron repay her? By not realizing she did it in the first place and then making out with Lavender Brown. Some parts of the sixth film are tough to watch.
Fantastic Dragons and Where in Gringotts to Free Them
The Golden Trio breaks into Gringotts bank in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2, and this is only possible because Hermione managed to snag one of Bellatrix Lestrange’s hairs. She uses it to polyjuice herself into Bellatrix, and that’s mostly how they get into the “unbreakable” bank.
What’s more memorable in the Gringotts sequence, however, is Hermione’s escape plan. Everything’s gone wrong, Griphook has left the trio hanging, and they are at the bottom of a huge cavern with security wizards closing in all around them. What is her plan? She frees the chained up security dragon (the treatment of which she earlier calls "barbaric," which is accurate), has them all hop aboard, and rides it up through the Gringotts lobby and out into the open skies. It’s definitely a “mad” plan, as Hermione admits, but it works. This is another change from the books (where it wasn’t her idea) but it makes for a great movie moment for the talented (and mad) Ms. Granger.
Overcoming the fear of a name
Throughout the entire series, almost none of the characters ever refer to the big bad by name. He’s referred to as “you-know-who,” or “he-who-must-not-be-named,” and so forth. Albus Dumbledore is the only one who regularly says it — not even Professor McGonagall will speak Voldemort's name aloud until the final film.
Hermione had that fear, until she took the brave step in saying it anyway. She knows that “fear of a name only increases fear of the thing itself,” as she says to Lucius Malfoy in Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets. It’s not until Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, however, where she finally walks this talk.
In the beginning stages of putting Dumbledore’s Army together, she does not say “you-know-who.” She refers to him as VOLDEMORT, and she takes a huge step in her own personal journey at the same time.
(Side note: The clip above is not from the scene in question, but I couldn't resist. I will not apologize.)
The battle in the cafe
After the trio escapes the wedding in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 1 (and right after the aforementioned beaded bag moment), they find themselves in a little London cafe. It’s not long before they are tracked down by the enemy, and a magical battle breaks out.
It is here that, once again, Hermione proves she is not a witch to be trifled with. Her spells are of such power that the Death Eaters get slammed into counters and walls. Her battle tactics are impressive, as well, as we can see her waiting for just the right moment to launch her spells.
We’ve seen her fight in the ministry, kick Ron’s behind in the Room of Requirement, and also send a magical flock of birds right at Ron’s face, but this is one of the first times we’ve seen how adept at dueling Hermione can be. It’s something we see plenty more of by the time the final two films are over.
Draco Malfoy's punchable face
I know I said that we weren’t ranking these, but if we were, this would be the best... or at least my favorite. It’s a highly memorable moment and one that many viewers had been yearning for.
Draco Malfoy, that wonderful little bully, is at it again in Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban. No longer content to bully other students, he’s decided to start bullying magical animals. When Buckbeak the hippogriff is about to be executed (because of Draco’s sniveling idiocy), Draco decides to really rub some salt in the wound. Hermione gets so angry that she pulls her wand on him, and Draco almost wets himself. Harry and Ron stop her from hexing Malfoy because, as they say, “he’s not worth it.”
She puts her wand away and starts to turn around... but then wheels back to Draco and punches him square in the face. Hard.
This might only be the third movie in the series, but I'd been wanting SOMEONE to punch Draco ever since the first film. You generally can’t reason with bullies of any kind, they’ll just keep bullying and bullying until the end of time. Neither Harry nor Ron do anything to really stop (or at least hinder) Draco’s bullying, but Hermione does. This little jerk has insulted her, her parents, her friends, is on the side of everything that she’s fighting against, and now he’s reveling in the senseless killing of an animal.
Not on her watch. Pop goes the Malfoy, and we're sure that Hermione could, like another bully-hating super soldier from another franchise, "do this all day." Once punched, Draco can’t run away from her fast enough.
Do not mess with Hermione Granger. If you go against someone or something she loves, you will pay the price. She’s got the smarts, she’s got the bravery, and by Merlin... she’s got the fists. She'll love you if you let her, but cross her at your own peril.