One of the first magical beings we meet in Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone is the half-giant Rubeus Hagrid. From the moment he flies in on Sirius Black's borrowed flying motorcycle, we feel a bond with him, and this bond continues for the rest of the Harry Potter story. A friend to wizard, witch, and beast alike, Hagrid is one of the kindest characters we meet in the series.
Today, December 6th, is the big man's birthday. Born on this day in 1928 to a human man and the giantess Fridwulfa, Hagrid would go on to attend Hogwarts...until he was framed for crimes by none other than Tom Riddle himself. He's not perfect — his love of magical creatures knows no bounds, and this tends to get him (and his friends) in trouble. Still, you really don't want to get him angry.
Author J.K. Rowling packed so much new canon into Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald that we wouldn't be surprised if a very young Hagrid (or a grown Fridwulfa) made an appearance at some point. The only other character we know that loves creatures as much as Hagrid is the new series star Newt Scamander, so I imagine they'd be kindred spirits. Sure, Hagrid would be on the young side, but if the series is going to potentially go up through the year 1945, Hagrid would be old enough to converse with Newt.
Loyal, kind, and perfectly portrayed by Robbie Coltrane, let's celebrate the birth of Rubeus Hagrid by going through 8 moments in the Harry Potter films that make us love him. They are unranked, because I don't feel like I'm in a position to rank love. It would be like Hagrid trying to choose a favorite pet — he'd have trouble with it.
"Sorry about that..."
Growing up with the Dursleys is awful for Harry. We think that when he starts getting magical "letters from no one" that his life is about to change, but Uncle Vernon does his best to stop them. He goes so far as to move everyone to a strange tower in the middle of the sea (every family has access to one of those, right?) and it is there, on the sandy floor, that Harry drearily celebrates the beginning of his 11th birthday.
Until a great booming comes from the door. The Dursleys wake up, everyone is scared (except for Harry, what's he got to lose?), and soon enough the door comes crashing down. In struts the half-giant Hagrid, and before the menacing music has a chance to climax, it cuts out and Hagrid utters the classic line, "Sorry about that..."
He subverts our expectations of him immediately, then starts to give the Dursleys what for. He also gives Harry a birthday cake (that he may or may not have sat on) and it's one of the first nice things anyone has ever done for Harry, ever. If the opening scene of this film didn't have us loving Hagrid, this entrance (and the cake) does the job.
In Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, we are introduced to the wizard-slur "mudblood," courtesy of the awful Draco Malfoy. He slings this term at Hermione, which is an insult that can be given to anyone who isn't a product of pure-blood inbreeding. Hermione is muggle-born, so this stings.
Off to Hagrid they go, because Ron cursed himself in trying to defend Hermione's honor. In his hut, Hagrid tells Harry what the term means... but he also reassures Hermione that it's a meaningless insult. He bolsters her confidence, comes fairly close to calling her the "brightest witch of her age" one movie early, and turns her frown upside down. Coltrane's warmth in this scene could power a planet for billions of years.
First day of class
Hagrid is made a professor is Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, possibly as a "hey, sorry we expelled you unfairly" gesture based on the story reveals from the previous film. He wastes no time at all in trying to blow his students away — he brings Buckbeak the Hippogriff (aka the Birdhorse) in for his first lesson.
He does a decent job of teaching here, and he does know his stuff. The issue is that this creature, though amazing, is very dangerous. Hagrid has a blindspot for issues like this (he loves dragons, giant spiders, etc), it's true, but things would have been fine if the entire class heeded his teachings. Malfoy doesn't, of course, and gets the sharp end of the birdhorse as a result.
Before that, though, it's a magical lesson. Harry gets a lovely ride on the birdhorse accompanied by some great John Williams music, and afterwards Hagrid has a little aside with him. Hagrid's been full of confidence this entire time, and only in this private moment with Harry does he ask, "How am I doin, me first day?"
It's a wonderful moment of vulnerability from Hagrid, and Harry assures him that he's doing "brilliant." Leave it to Malfoy to ruin the moment. Thanks Draco!
"Never insult Albus Dumbledore in front of me"
This is technically part of a scene I've already mentioned, but the moment stands out all the same. For one thing, it includes Harry finding out what he truly is, when Hagrid himself utters the classic line, "Yer a wizard, Harry." Hagrid then throws more shade at the Dursleys, and almost hits the roof when he finds out about the lie they told to Harry about Lily and James Potter. "It's an outrage, it's a scandal!" he bellows.
He is completely Team Harry here, and he makes it clear to the awful Dursleys that Harry is going to Hogwarts whether they like it or not. Harry is all smiles this entire time, almost not believing that someone (anyone) is sticking up for him. That's when Uncle Vernon makes the mistake of calling Albus Dumbledore "a crackpot old fool."
Hagrid's voice goes cold, he raises his pink umbrella (which isn't funny for a moment in this instance) and with ice in his voice, he says, "Never insult Albus Dumbledore in front of me." To drive the point home, he makes a curly pig tail sprout out of Dudley's bottom.
Dumbledore inspires such loyalty in all those who love and follow him, but perhaps none are as adamant about it as Hagrid is. This isn't just a great Hagrid moment... it tells us that Dumbledore is the kind of wizard who inspires this kind of devotion.
Farewell to Aragog
In case it's not already clear, Hagrid loves magical creatures. The more dangerous they are, they greater his love, and the more "misunderstood" he finds them to be. One of the biggest examples of this is his love for the giant Acromantula named Aragog, a creature that quite literally tried to kill Harry and Ron in the second film.
In Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, we find that this formidable foe has perished. Harry and Professor Slughorn come across Hagrid mourning his old friend while Harry is under the effects of the Felix Felicis potion, and Hagrid is really quite upset at the death of his friend. Thankfully, Slughorn is there to perform a eulogy (and take some of the valuable venom), and the funeral scene ends up being surprisingly touching.
Afterwards, Slughorn and Hagrid tie one on in Hagrid's hut while Harry watches. It's a brief scene, but it's tremendously fun watching Coltrane and Jim Broadbent play off of each other. Some of Hagrid's drunken reactions/realizations here are priceless. Farewell, Aragog. Poof!
Farewell to Harry?
The series opens with Hagrid carrying little baby Harry off of a motorcycle, so it's only fitting that it is bookended with a very unsettling moment of Hagrid carrying the "dead" Harry from the Forbidden Forest back onto the Hogwarts grounds in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part 2.
As far as Hagrid and everyone else (Narcissa Malfoy excluded) knows, Harry is dead. The procession of the Death Eaters is chilling, made all the more horrible by the image of Hagrid carrying Harry's body.
It's a completely silent moment of acting from Coltrane, but the heartbreak he portrays while carrying the body is staggering. Hagrid is broken by this, and Coltrane makes you feel every bit of it. This is a grief past the potential death of Buckbeak and the actual death of Aragog — the "death" of Harry puts Hagrid beyond tears. The only reason that our hearts don't completely break at the same time is because we know that Harry is just waiting for the proper moment to reveal the truth.
"There there, Hagrid..."
Time to apparate all the way back to the beginning! As I just mentioned, the series begins with Hagrid carrying little baby Harry in his arms. He hands him over to Professor Dumbledore, who makes the hard (yet necessary) decision to leave him with the Dursleys of Privet Drive.
Hagrid has already become attached, and we can tell because he's crying the moment that little Harry hits the doorstep. He's an emotional giant, and his feelings are as big as he is. He's already formed a bond with the wee baby Potter, and it's a bond that will continue for the rest of the series.
As always, Dumbledore's words calm Hagrid, as well as the audience— "There there, Hagrid... it's not really goodbye after all."
A nice pair of ears
In many ways Hagrid is the beating heart of the first film. He begins the film, he starts Harry on his journey, he's pivotal to the film's mystery, and he ends the film as well.
When they take their leave at the film's end, Hagrid gives Harry a book of photos of his parents. Harry is touched, and goes right in for a hug. Before Hagrid can be overcome by emotion (which we know he's more than capable of), he sends Harry off to board the train.
Not without an added bit of mischievous advice, however. He tells Harry that if Dudley gives him any grief while away, he can threaten him with a pair of ears to go with his pig tail. Harry and Hagrid both know that Harry can't do magic outside of school, but as Hagird says, "...your cousin don't, do he?"
With a wink and a smile from Hagrid, Harry is off. He's not going home, not really, but this bit of heartfelt whimsy from Hagrid really helps to end the film on the best possible note.