50

Most of the characters are just children, but other characters are quite old.

Who is the oldest character (of any race) in the saga? He/she/it must be alive, at any moment of the saga.

  • 56
    Counting Nicholas Flamel? :P – DavidS Mar 17 '17 at 9:55
  • 3
    Is there any specific time frame? Or race? That you want to consider? Or anyone and anything goes? – Edlothiad Mar 17 '17 at 9:56
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    Slytherin's basilisk was a thousand years old. Phoenixes are strong candidates as well. – David Banner Mar 17 '17 at 10:32
  • 8
    Death – Möoz Mar 20 '17 at 0:17
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    Ummm, @b_jonas, this is a Harry Potter question? The questions you've linked have no power here, Gandalf the Grey. – DisturbedNeo Mar 20 '17 at 10:04
81

The Grey Lady, The Bloody Baron or the Basilisk

The Grey Lady and the Bloody Baron may not be alive for the duration of the books but they do certainly qualify as characters. As ghosts they were extant throughout the series. We're not given their exact dates of birth. However, the Grey Lady was the daughter of Rowena Ravenclaw, who was one of the Hogwarts founders.

“When I lived,” she said stiffly, “I was Helena Ravenclaw.”
“You’re her daughter? But then, you must know what happened to it!”
(Deathly Hallows, Chapter 31, The Battle of Hogwarts).

Since Hogwarts was founded at least 1,000 years before the events of Chamber of Secrets that makes her roughly one millennium old (though we do not know whether or not she was born when Hogwarts was founded).

“You all know, of course, that Hogwarts was founded over a thousand years ago - the precise date is uncertain - by the four greatest witches and wizards of the age."
(Chamber of Secrets, Chapter 9, The Writing on the Wall).

The Bloody Baron was also alive in this time period.

"The Baron was always a hot-tempered man. Furious at my refusal, jealous of my freedom, he stabbed me.”
“The Baron? You mean-?”
“The Bloody Baron, yes,” said the Gray Lady, and she lifted aside the cloak she wore to reveal a single dark wound in her white chest.
(Deathly Hallows, Chapter 31, The Battle of Hogwarts).

It's not really a character so I suppose it doesn't count but it's worth noting in passing that the Basilisk was also born at some point relatively soon after the founding of Hogwarts, since it was put in the Chamber of Secrets by Salazar Slytherin. This makes it the oldest organic being in the Harry Potter universe.

“Slytherin, according to the legend, sealed the Chamber of Secrets so that none would be able to open it until his own true heir arrived at the school. The heir alone would be able to unseal the Chamber of Secrets, unleash the horror within, and use it to purge the school of all who were unworthy to study magic.”
(Chamber of Secrets, Chapter 9, The Writing on the Wall).

Honourable mentions:

  • Nicolas Flamel (665+)
  • Perenelle Flamel (658+)
  • Nearly-Headless Nick (505 during Deathly Hallows)
  • Albus Dumbledore (116, according to his Pottermore factfile)
  • Elphias Doge (116+)
  • Gellert Grindelwald (116 during Deathly Hallows)
  • Aberforth Dumbledore (114 during Deathly Hallows)
  • Griselda Marchbanks (at least a generation older than the Dumbledore brothers since she invigilated Albus during his N.E.W.T. examinations)
  • Muriel Weasley (107 during Deathly Hallows)
  • Bathilda Bagshot (at least a generation older than Muriel since she was friends with her Mum)
  • The Sorting Hat (c1000 but, again, I'm not sure it counts as a character)

Some of the very powerful beasts and beings may also be quite old. Dementors, Giants, Dragons and other such creatures may have very long lifespans but we're not given any details on how long they live.

  • 19
    I'd argue the basilisk is indeed a character. It somewhat sentient after all. "Rip, tear, kill" and all that. – Prinsig Mar 17 '17 at 16:04
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    @ElliottFrisch Unknown. I'd guess that he taught in the Victorian era. That's pure guesswork, though. – The Dark Lord Mar 17 '17 at 16:57
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    Given the customs common to Western civiliations in the Middle Ages and earlier for older men approaching 30 to marry younger women almost as soon as the girl reached puberty, it's highly likely the Baron is older than the Lady. – Joel Coehoorn Mar 17 '17 at 18:09
  • 6
    Great list and great research - thank you! I'd take issue with your point about Bathilda Bagshot, though - I can't recall how her friendship with Mumbledore is characterized, but I'd certainly call myself "friends" (though not particularly close) with a number of people who are old enough to have children my age. Friendship can cross generational divides, is my point (especially for individuals as long-lived as wizards). – scubbo Mar 17 '17 at 20:49
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    @ibid Yeah, I vaguely limiting myself to including characters which reached the big 100. I was 71, yes. – The Dark Lord Mar 17 '17 at 23:37
45

In the books, the oldest character at the time of their death is Nicolas Flamel

Mr. Flamel, who celebrated his six hundred and sixty-fifth birthday last year, enjoys a quiet life in Devon with his wife, Perenelle (six hundred and fifty-eight)

Though we have no way of knowing when that book was written, and by extension how old it really is, even if it was brand new, Flamel would have been born no later than 1327. Rowling has also stated on her website that Nicolas Flamel had died by the start of Book 6, set in the year 1996. This means that it's possible for him to have lived until he was at least 669, and his wife, 662, before they ran out of elixir and died.

The oldest character in the movies is a wizard by the name of Barry Winkle

In the Philosopher's Stone movie, the newspapers obviously had to be covered in stories, unlike the books, which could just mention the important ones being read by main characters. One such story was

Barry Wee Willie Winkle celebrates his 755th birthday in style tonight by throwing a huge party for all the wizards and witches he has ever known. 30 million are expected to attend tonight.

This story was published in The Daily Prophet in August 1991. It is unknown if and when he died. It's possible that he's still alive even today, making him 781. The name Barry Winkle is likely a reference to Wee Willie Winkle, the boy who refused to sleep.

It is unknown how Barry reached such an age, given that the only reason Nicolas and Perenelle Flamel reached their respective ages was because of the elixir of life.

If you include ghosts, the oldest character is likely Helena Ravenclaw or the Bloody Baron, with The Fat Friar being another good contender.

These characters were around since before Hogwarts was founded, each born "no earlier than 982", which would make them older than both Flamel or Winkle.

The story of Helena ends with her dying at the hands of the Baron in Albania, before he killed himself, at which point the two returned to Hogwarts as ghosts, becoming mascots for Ravenclaw and Slytherin houses. Without knowing exactly when either of them were born, we can't say which of the two was older.

As for the Friar, not much is known about his life, and we don't have an exact birth date for him, either. As such, he could be older or younger than Helena or the Baron.

  • 11
    You might want to point out that Flamel was older than 665 since that was the date written in the book Hermione found and we don't know when that was published. It's described as being an old book, after all. Also, I suspect that Barry Winkle is movie nonsense... – The Dark Lord Mar 17 '17 at 11:44
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    Where does it say (outside of the non-canon Wikia) that Willie Winkle is a wizard or even a human? – TylerH Mar 17 '17 at 17:58
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    The math on that Barry Winkle is really something: even if he never sleeps, and assuming that half of his guests bring a plus one, and that he has outlived only two thirds of the people he has met (and they're not showing up as ghosts), he'd have to have met 60 million people in 755 years. 60 000 000 people / 755 years / 365.24 days per year ≅ 217 people per day. This Barry guy, whoever he is, sure gets around... – Mathieu K. Mar 17 '17 at 21:16
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    The Fat friar is unlikely to have been born earlier than the tenth century. The earliest friar order (the Carmelites) was founded c 1155. – andejons Mar 18 '17 at 15:07
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    You don't have to know everyone going to a party, right? Especially if it's that huge. Just throw the doors open and see who turns up. As for the friar, I hadn't considered that. Good argument to put him out the running. – DisturbedNeo Mar 20 '17 at 10:03
16

The oldest living creature we know of is Slytherin's basilisk, which was born during the early days of Hogwarts (making her ~1000 years old).

A possible contender for oldest living creature is Fawkes the phoenix. We only know for sure that he's at least 80 years old (and it's perhaps unlikely that he would be tamed for the first time at an advanced age), but since phoenixes can be reborn any number of times, it is entirely possible that Fawkes has been alive since well before the founding of Hogwarts.

  • How do you know that the Basilisk was female? – Ruslan Mar 17 '17 at 19:05
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    @Ruslan Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them (the 2001 booklet, not the movie) states that male basilisks have a plume on their head. – PlutoThePlanet Mar 17 '17 at 19:20
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    I think Fawkes is... tricky. It can start a Theseus debate – xDaizu Mar 20 '17 at 10:57
9

I do not know if it qualifies, but apart from the characters mentioned by others, Peeves is one the eldest. He came with the Hogwarts (c.a. 990). Poltergeists are classified as "Non-Human Spiritous Apparitions", so it's up to you to decide if he meets the requirements.

What is more, we may safely assume that after some time he will be one of the eldest creatures which are not dead, as it's very hard to kill him (if not impossible).

From the Anelli, Melissa and Emerson Spartz. "The Leaky Cauldron and MuggleNet interview Joanne Kathleen Rowling: Part Two," The Leaky Cauldron, 16 July 2005 (emphasis mine):

ES: Why does Dumbledore allow Peeves to stay in the castle?

JKR: Can't get him out.

ES: He's Dumbledore, he can do anything!

JKR: No, no no no no. Peeves is like dry rot. You can try and eradicate it. It comes with the building. You’re stuck. If you've got Peeves you're stuck.

Although he's probably younger than ghosts mentioned by others, he's definitely older than the Basilisk, as the Basilisk was born in the Chamber of Secrets (as told by Aragog, but my only source is wiki).

  • Good point! Can you provide a citation for "came with the Hogwarts"? – Gallifreyan Mar 17 '17 at 18:09
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    I suspect that by "comes with the building" JKR meant that Peeves came into existence in Hogwarts and is now part of the furniture. I looked at the Peeves wiki too but I think it's misinterpreting her statement to be honest. The Pottermore entry on Peeves strongly suggests that the chaotic atmosphere of Hogwarts gave rise to Peeves, thereby disproving the idea that he was around when Hogwarts was founded. – The Dark Lord Mar 17 '17 at 23:21
  • But ghosts can be stunned/petrified as proven by Nearly Headless Nick and the Basilisk. So surely Dumbledore (a mighty wizard) could come up with something similar? – Michael Mar 18 '17 at 20:42
8

The oldest character currently alive is Newt Scamander

Newt was born in 1897

Newton ("Newt") Artemis Fido Scamander was born in 1897. His interests in fabulous beasts was encouraged by his mother, a who was an enthusiastic breeder of fancy Hippogriffs.
Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them - About the Author

Newt is still alive as of 2017, and anticipates being alive for the release of the next few movies.

I am not yet in a position to tell the full story of my activities during the two decades that Gellert Grindelwald terrorised the wizarding world. As more documents become declassified over the coming years, I will be freer to speak openly about my role in that dark period in our history.
Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them - Foreword by the Author (2017 edition)

This would make him 120 years old, which is older than any other character currently alive in Rowling's world.

  • Unless I’m missing something, we have no indication that Aunt Muriel (born around 1890) or Elphias Doge (born around 1880) have died. I don’t think they’re definitely proven to still be alive anywhere, but we don’t have evidence that they’re not either. – Janus Bahs Jacquet Mar 19 '17 at 8:53
  • @JanusBahsJacquet - Maybe I should have specified oldest confirmed to be still alive or something? Newt's the only character this old who's confirmed to have been alive any time in the past twenty years. – ibid Mar 19 '17 at 8:55
2

Professor Marchbanks

At least one year older than Albus Dumbledore and probably a good twenty years older.

She was Harry's invigilator during his Theory of Charms exam in Order of the Phoenix.

I should know… examined [Dumbledore] personally in Transfiguration and Charms when he did his NEWTs… did things with a wand I’d never seen before.

~ Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix

If she's old enough to be alive now and examined Dumbledore personally...

  • 1
    Griselda Marchbanks has already been mentioned in the accepted answer, and she's clearly not the oldest character there is. – Gallifreyan Jul 12 '17 at 17:53
-2

Dementors are sentient and amortal and probably as old as magic itself. Along with Boggarts and Poltergeists, they are the oldest creatures in the Harry Potter universe.

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    Do you have any sources that Dementors are amortal? (The wiki isn't considered a source.) I'm pretty sure that Rowling has even previously implied otherwise. – ibid Mar 19 '17 at 3:07
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    @ibid It's not clear, but see scifi.stackexchange.com/q/18558/4918 – b_jonas Mar 20 '17 at 7:27
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    It was my understanding that Dementors were created by Ekrizdis in Azkaban c. 15th century, so they can't have been there more than 600 years. Also, I'm not so sure whether or not amortal creatures count. They were never alive, and they can't ever die, so do they even have an age? Can such a creature be "young" or "old"? – DisturbedNeo Mar 20 '17 at 10:03
  • @DisturbedNeo there is a question on this here! Re: don't count, true, and there isn't proof that any Dementor encountered in the books is actually as old. But as their age is not constrained by the age of Hogwarts, some of them might still be among the oldest creatures in the HP universe. – Felix Dombek Mar 20 '17 at 10:16
  • @b_jonas - I remember seeing some comment from her about then reproducing like fungi. – ibid Mar 20 '17 at 11:51

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