In Sorcerer's Stone Chapter 5, Hagrid tells Harry:

There's not a single witch or wizard who went bad that wasn't in Slytherin.

In Chamber of Secrets Chapter 5, however, this seems to be contradicted:

For a few horrible seconds he had feared that the hat was going to put him in Slytherin, the House that had turned out more dark witches and wizards than any other – but he had ended up in Gryffindor, along with Ron, Hermione, and the rest of the Weasleys.

The implication of more dark witches and wizards than any other is that there were some from other houses, contrary to Hagrid's assertion. Even if we assume that Hagrid was simply incorrect, Harry had no evidence to assume otherwise, and the statement in Chamber of Secrets is from the perspective of Harry's thoughts.

This might just be a simple contradiction. However, in Sorcerer's Stone the term used is "went bad" while in Chamber of Secrets the term used is "dark witches and wizards". Is it possible that it is not a contradiction, and "going bad" and being a "dark wizard" are actually two different things, such that there could be dark wizards who haven't gone bad?

  • 10
    Dark Wizard = Dark Jedi, and Dark Jedi = Bad, so Dark Wizard = Bad May 14, 2018 at 18:11
  • 6
    @DarthVader I thought that, from your point of view, the regular Jedi were evil
    – KSmarts
    May 14, 2018 at 21:18
  • 6
    @KSmarts No, they were just traitors to the Republic/Empire. Traitors aren't necessarily evil, just traitorous. May 14, 2018 at 21:21
  • 6
    Hagrid is hyperbolic in that statement. Not everything every character ever says has to be the absolute truth, characters in books are allowed to make simplifications, hyperbolic statements, lie or to simply be flat out wrong. In this case, Hagrid tries to make a point and is hyperbolic.
    – Polygnome
    May 15, 2018 at 8:55
  • 3
    Possible duplicate of What constitutes a "Dark Wizard?"
    – RichS
    Nov 22, 2018 at 19:50

3 Answers 3


‘Dark wizard’ usually means ‘evil wizard who uses Dark magic’.

Everyone described in the books as a Dark wizard is also considered an “evil” wizard. Though the term “Dark wizard” is often used in abstract to describe unnamed threats or wizards who engage in certain practices like creating Inferi or Horcruxes, the two named wizards who are specifically referred to as Dark wizards are Lord Voldemort and Grindelwald. While there may be “good” or “neutral” wizards who have used some Dark magic, there’s no instance of them being actually referred to as Dark wizards - the term seems to always be used specifically for those who use Dark magic and are also considered evil.

Hagrid is most likely just generalizing, so it’s later phrased as “Slytherin had more Dark wizards than the other houses” to make it a more accurate statement.

Dark magic use won’t instantly define a person as a Dark wizard.

Using some Dark magic doesn’t automatically classify someone a Dark wizard - there are instances of “good” or “neutral” wizards using magic considered Dark, such as when Harry and McGonagall use Unforgivable Curses. Despite this, it’s unlikely anyone would term them as Dark wizards.

This is also implied by Professor Binns when discussing the legend of the Chamber of Secrets.

“But, Professor,’ piped up Parvati Patil, ‘you’d probably have to use Dark Magic to open it –’

‘Just because a wizard doesn’t use Dark Magic, doesn’t mean he can’t, Miss Pennyfeather,’ snapped Professor Binns. ‘I repeat, if the likes of Dumbledore –”
- Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, Chapter 9 (The Writing on the Wall)

He implies that the teachers could have used Dark magic to open the Chamber.

It’s also possible to be “bad” without ever using any Dark magic.

The term “Dark wizard” only seems to be used to refer to evil wizards who use Dark magic. It doesn’t seem to be used if a wizard is “bad” but without using Dark magic. For example, Lockhart did bad things, but did them using Memory Charms, which don’t seem to be considered Dark at all.

“I had to track these people down. Ask them exactly how they managed to do what they did. Then I had to put a Memory Charm on them so they wouldn’t remember doing it. If there’s one thing I pride myself on, it’s my Memory Charms.”
- Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, Chapter 16 (The Chamber of Secrets)

However, wiping other wizards’ memories so he could take credit for their accomplishments was certainly wrong of him, so he would be considered bad but not considered a Dark wizard.

  • 5
    And Molly Weasley with her (film-only) "blow people up into a million pieces" curse, which surely must be Dark magic since it's a more violent form of Avada Kedavra. But I get why you don't like to talk about that one. May 14, 2018 at 20:40
  • It sounds like the statements should be reversed, then. Anyone who is officially recognized as a Dark Wizard is from Slytherin, whereas there are bad wizards from other houses as well.
    – Alex
    May 14, 2018 at 22:29
  • @Alex That would be more accurate, but still not entirely correct - Grindelwald attended Durmstrang, not Hogwarts. He might very well have been a Slytherin if he did attend Hogwarts, but since he didn’t, he didn’t belong to any of the Hogwarts houses.
    – Obsidia
    May 14, 2018 at 23:01
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    McGonagall used Unforgivable Curses? Could you point where it's described?
    – Ruslan
    May 15, 2018 at 5:46
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    +1 especially for the assertion that Hagrid may have been generalising based on a dislike of Slytherins. Otherwise decent wizards holding prejudices is quite common (just look at the Weasleys for examples of this).
    – user93707
    May 15, 2018 at 11:01

You can certainly be an immoral wizard without being a dark wizard. One really obvious example is Umbridge, who tortured children, so is obviously evil, yet no one ever accused her of being a dark wizard, as for the most part, she did not use "dark" magic.

Simalarly, we've seen examples of wizards who are considered good that have used dark magic, such as Harry Potter's use of cruciatus on Bellatrix after Sirius is killed in book five. Dumbledore is also considered a good wizard, yet it is likely he has also dabbled in dark magic due to his time spent with Grindelwald.

I think it's safe to say "evil wizard" and "dark wizard" are not synonymous. Practically though, I think any wizard who is known as a "dark wizard" is also considered evil, as it seems to be the case that 1. You only are known as a dark wizard if you're particularly known for using the dark arts, especially for nefarious purposes, and 2. Magic that is categorized as "dark" is rather often inherently immoral, as it often involves harming others, either to perform the magic (horcruxes, for example) or the purpose of the spell is to harm (the unforgivable curses.)

  • 2
    Does the wizardIng world operate under the principle that killing is always immoral?
    – Alex
    May 14, 2018 at 21:01
  • This is not the case, as we see examples of people righteously killing death eaters. (Part of the reason why I said "rather often" instead of "always" immoral.) Though also note that horcruxes require a cold-blooded murder (an act so against nature it damages the soul) and not just killing someone.
    – Kai
    May 14, 2018 at 21:20
  • I think the more prominent example of Harry using "Dark" magic would be his use of the Imperius curse in later books; The whole cruciatus thing was spur of the moment and didn't really work very well anyway. He did use the Imperius curse very deliberately, successfully and for exactly the dark purpose it was intended for though.
    – Cubic
    May 15, 2018 at 10:51
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    I am not sure that the pen Umbridge used to torture Harry is not Dark Magix
    – TimSparrow
    May 15, 2018 at 13:53
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    Iirc she also was about to use the cruciatus curse at one point, so she definitely used dark magic at points. So I guess though you might argue people might have labeled her as a dark wizard if they knew, but I'm inclined to think they'd have called her evil, thrown her in Azkaban, but still not called her a dark wizard rather than just unhinged.
    – Kai
    May 15, 2018 at 17:24

Hagrid is wrong

Semantics aside, Hagrid's statement from the first book is provably, canonically wrong. Karkaroff and Grindelwald are both bad people and Dark Wizards, and neither even went to Hogwarts, and thus were definitely not Slytherins.

So then why did Hagrid say that? He's generalizing. When talking to young children, generalization are typically easier than complex scenarios. Though Hagrid might not even be thinking in those terms, it is possible he actually believes what he is saying. Hagrid is also not one for complex scenarios, and is shown to hold a grudge.

  • 1
    Considering that Hagrid's statement was in the context of a discussion of the houses of Hogwarts, it would seem plausible that he was speaking of Slytherin relative to the other houses and thus wizards who had not gone to Hogwarts at all wouldn't be counted.
    – Alex
    May 14, 2018 at 22:56
  • Also, I pointed out in the question that even if Hagrid was wrong, Harry didn't really have other information to base it on. He had certainly never heard of Karkaroff at this point, and the only mention of Grindelwald was a passing reference on Dumbledore's Chocolate Frog card, and we know how well Harry remembered the other wizard mentioned on that card.
    – Alex
    May 14, 2018 at 23:58
  • "When talking to young children, generalization are typically easier than complex scenarios." en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lie-to-children
    – RonJohn
    May 15, 2018 at 2:31
  • If they didnt go to Hogearts, what's to say they wouldn't have been in Slytherin if they had gone there? Also Karkarof says something about being 'pleased to be back at Hogwarts' in GoF. Dec 14, 2018 at 18:01

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