11 Lessons Harry Potter Villains Taught Us, Because They Aren't All Bad

The Harry Potter series is one full of wise teachers and inspiring role models who each have their own valuable lessons to teach. Dumbledore enlightened us about love and friendship, Hermione showed us the importance of cleverness and intelligence, and Neville showed us what friendship and bravery looked like. But it's not just the good guys — there are plenty of important lessons Harry Potter villains taught us, too. The characters may be evil, but they can still show you a thing or two about life.

Everyone loves a true hero, but nothing beats a good villain. Bad guys, like Voldemort, the Malfoys, and their fellow Death Eaters, and the other Harry Potter villains are more than just the evil, corruption, and violence they take part in. Like all good characters, they're complicated and layered people, each with their own intriguing past, complex motivations, and even the occasional redeeming quality. Characters like these challenge us, the readers, to examine our own beliefs and ask tough questions about morality, justice, and evil. The heroes may create the books happy ending, but the villains make the rest of the book both interesting and enlightening.

Harry, Ron, and Hermione aren't the only ones you can learn from, so here are 11 lessons Harry Potter villains taught us. Because in the end, no one is all bad or all good.

1. Life Without Love Is Worthless

Dumbledore and Harry may have spoken the words, but it's Harry Potter's greatest villain who truly taught us that a life without love is no kind of life at all. Voldemort may have been powerful, even nearly immortal, but he didn't have anyone he truly loved or cared about, or who loved him. In the end, his life was bitter, angry, and full of sadness and doom. A life without love is no way to live.

2. We Are Not Born Evil

People are not brought into this world destined to be evil. Instead, it's the choices we make that define what side of the battlefield we fall on. Draco Malfoy may seem like the kind of child who, considering his parents, would have been born with darkness in him, but he showed us that it wasn't his bloodline or some kind of predisposition to wrongdoing that is the problem, but instead, the bad choices that we make can be. The good news? We're in charge of all of those choices.

3. It's Never Too Late To Change

The same way we can chose to become evil, we can chose to become good again. The Harry Potter villains, from Draco and Narcissa to the Dursleys, prove that it's never too late to leave a life of evil behind and set out on a new and better course. All it takes in one small action to start the transformation.

4. Love And Loyalty Can Make You Do Crazy Things

The Harry Potter villains may be some of the most foul you've ever met, but why? Narcissa Malfoy and Barty Crouch Jr. are great examples and wonderful teachers in the lesson of love, loyalty, and bad decision making. When we love someone, like our children, or are loyal to a cause or a leader to a fault, it can push us to do crazy, insane, and even evil things we might not otherwise do. Love and loyalty can make us go crazy, even rotten on the inside, so before judging someone's actions, we should first look at their motivations.

5. People Are Not Always As They Seem

Severus Snape wasn't all bad or all good, and he certainly wasn't what he appeared, either. Harry saw him as pure evil, Voldemort saw him as a loyal servant, and Dumbledore saw him as a true friend, but he was never just one of those things. No matter how well you think you know someone, good or evil, they probably aren't exactly what they seem.

6. Power And Money Can't Buy Happiness

The Malfoys can teach us a lot of lessons, but one of the most obvious is that money doesn't equal happiness. One of the richest wizarding families in the world, the Malfoys were still twisted, wretched, sad and broken people on the inside. Their money may have bought them the nicest robes and fastest brooms, but it could never buy true happiness. As for power, Voldemort was one of the most powerful wizards to ever live, but he lived his entire life in anger and misery.

7. We Are All Redeemable

The villains in Harry Potter, like so many other villains, are complex characters. We may think we understand them, we may think we see through them, but they are always more complicated than we assume. The complexity, though, gives them the opportunity to leave their evilness behind and turn to a life of good. Like Snape, Malfoy, and even Percy (come one, he was kind of a villain for a while there), villains teach us the power of redemption, and prove that it's never too far out of sight if we are willing to make the change.

8. Question Everything — Especially Authority

Out of all the villains in Harry Potter, there is one I despise the most: Dolores Umbridge. Cruel, wicked, and power hungry, Professor Umbridge taught us all to question everything, from what we are being taught to newly enforced rules to the people who make them. Just because someone is in a position of authority doesn't make them — or their facts, rules, or practices — correct. Thanks to the most evil woman dressed in pink we've ever seen, we will all question authority after reading Harry Potter.

9. The People You Love Aren't Always Innocent

It's a hard pill to swallow, but the Harry Potter villains helped teach us that even the ones we love are capable of doing dark things. Peter Pettigrew and Barty Crouch Jr. turned on the people they loved, the people who trusted them, showing us that sometimes the ones closest to us are capable of doing the most damage. Our love for someone may hide the truth, but just because we care about someone, it doesn't make them innocent.

10. Obsession Can Make You Come Undone

Voldemort, the real baddie of Harry Potter, showed us just how dangerous and destructive obsession can be. His own obsession drove him to his death, a resurrection, a lifetime of darkness and evil, and, eventually, his ultimate demise. Obsession is a dangerous thing, and Voldemort taught us just how strong of a hold obsession can take, and what it can do to us if we don't learn to let it go.

11. Even Villains Can Be Heroes

Yes, even evil doers can save the day, just ask Severus Snape and Narcissa Malfoy. They may have been villains, but in the end, they decided to risk (and sacrifice) their own lives for something greater than themselves. Even the worst villains can save the day.

Images: fictiontea/Flickr; Giphy (11)