It's clear why Snape picked on Harry (because of James); or on Hermione (Harry's friend; and ALSO a Gryffindor, AND a muggleborn, with audacity to know the subject and annoyance of showing it off when he wanted Gryffindors AND muggleborns to look stupid and incompetent).

But why would he pick on Neville so hard?

Neville wasn't Harry's friend, he wasn't a typical Snape-rubbing-raw Gryffindor, and for sure Snape wouldn't have hated him for his parents having been Aurors.

Being bad at Potions doesn't seem to be it either - otherwise he'd pick on Crabbe and Goyle more than on other Slytherins (though less than on any Gryffindors).

  • 16
    I read somewhere - though can't remember exactly where, and it probably wasn't canonical - that Snape hated Neville because he was the other boy that the prophecy could have applied to. It kind of makes sense; Neville wasn't exactly the most talented wizard, and had Snape known that fact he likely would have resented Neville for being alive when Lily wasn't. Jun 17, 2012 at 21:05
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    Neville is the other Chosen One... and who choose him was...
    – n611x007
    Jun 20, 2012 at 8:24
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    @naxa - Neville was NOT the chosen one. The profecy only talked of one person. There Can Be Only One. Jun 20, 2012 at 10:36
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    @DVK I wasn't literally speaking, refering to this the-leaky-cauldron.org/pottercast/?p=3121 "Neville, is that he proves himself to be a boy who could have done it, too!" ... "proved himself a hundred times over worthy of being a Gryffindor". As Anthony Grist already wrote. Other than that, my sentence was intended as a joke with the second part. :P
    – n611x007
    Jun 20, 2012 at 12:34

6 Answers 6


It seems that it was because Snape resented Neville for not being the "Boy-Who-Lived".

Snaped loved Lily, and Lily ended up dying because Voldemort chose Harry and

... marked him as his equal ...

[with the influence of Snape himself].

So Snape seems to have been resentful of Neville (and probably himself) for not being the one who should have died. Meaning that Snape thought Neville's parents should have been the ones to be killed and not Lily (and James). As pointed out in the comments.

Other Points:

  • Neville was also horrible at Potions (and everything else), right up to the events in the Order of The Phoenix and was an easy target.
  • Snape was a bitter and resentful person in general, especially towards anyone in Gryffindor.
  • Snape has a 'tough-love' approach. We see him outwardly mistreat Harry at school all the way up to the end. But find that he was always inwardly protecting Harry from the shadows. He may have been doing similar things with Neville; except Neville needed a lot of 'tough-love'!

All of these put together, makes for a horrible experience from Snape towards poor old Nev.

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    But Snape did not hear the entire prophecy... how could he know that Neville could've prevented Lily's death?
    – mustard
    Apr 23, 2014 at 5:41
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    The first part of the prophecy: "The one with the power to vanquish the Dark Lord approaches ... born to those who have thrice defied him, born as the seventh month dies ... and the Dark Lord will mark him as his equal, but he will have power the Dark Lord knows not ... " So Snape knew when the child was going to be born, and could easily have known that the only other likely candidate was Neville.
    – Möoz
    Apr 23, 2014 at 5:43
  • Snape heard only up to “as the seventh month dies”. He missed the part about marking already; Dumbledore says so. Still, the ambiguity of the date might have been enough.
    – chirlu
    Oct 4, 2016 at 3:00

Snape was often bullied on his youth. Usually bullied boys become bullys when they grow up. He picked out Neville because it's an easy pick for a bully, he's shy, weak, an orphan, he's from Snape's most disliked house and not very good at his subject.

He's just a perfect pick for a bully.

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    I think it is very much this rather than some deep resentment over his possible identity as The Chosen One. Snape is a deeply unpleasant person who values his own intelligence highly. He is forced to teach potions to a bungling student who he sees as undeserving, and so he makes the kid's life miserable. Sep 23, 2014 at 0:28

Because even the useless Neville seems to have some friends, and some happiness despite his family being in tatters after the first wizarding war. Snape on the other hand, the half-blood prince, had a family but he did not like them. He had friends, and he had a lot of talent. And now he's lost it all. Look where he is! He has to teach Neville!

Snape, in short is bitter, and will take any chance to put down those whom he can.

  • 1
    I don't remember him picking on him an unusual amount, but if so it's because he was so poor at so many things, but still gets by. He doesn't want to pick on a slytherin, as it might hurt his houses chances at the cup.
    – AncientSwordRage
    Jun 17, 2012 at 23:18
  • @DVK that fits with what I'm describing. Am I missing something explanatory in my answer?
    – AncientSwordRage
    Jun 17, 2012 at 23:38
  • IT feels to me, that Snape must see that Neville is the least deserving of friends and of success.
    – AncientSwordRage
    Jun 17, 2012 at 23:45
  • Ah. I'm not sure I fully agree but it does make sense. +1 Jun 17, 2012 at 23:57

Snape is a brilliant potioneer and having to teach a pitiful excuse for a potion's student probably annoyed him tremendously. Also a little revenge for himself. Getting to bully an easy target after being bullied profusely in school.


Neville also started out his school days looking an awful lot like a young Snape would have at his age.

Awkward, dipped in the dark arts (okay his parents were hexed, but his family if I recall correctly was described as 'a bit odd') and picked on even without Snape's intervention.

He may have been excessively hard on him because he saw a bit of himself in the boy, and wanted to see him succeed...and only bore down harder on him because he wanted to push him harder than the rest of his class.


Harry Potter Wikia states,"It is possible Snape hated Neville so much because if Voldemort had chosen to go after him rather than Harry, Lily would still be alive." Snape loved Lily all his life, and losing her would be quite a blow. If Voldemort had gone after the Longbottoms, Lily would still be alive.

  • 1
    That is a random speculation by a wikia contributor with no canon support, fyi. No canon support for it to be wrong, on the other hand. Oct 28, 2014 at 0:23

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