It's in the first book that we see Sorting Hat arguing with Harry over placing Harry in Slytherin. In the end, Harry wins, and the Hat puts him in Gryffindor.

Sometimes, the hat just can not decide (I read somewhere that Hermione Granger had the hat stumped; and the hat pretty much argued with itself).

But I never heard of a hat arguing AGAINST a student's wish and putting that student in a House that they did not want to be in. Did that really never happen? Did the hat never win an argument with a student?

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    I have to say that the hat's conversation with Harry sounded a lot more like the conversations I have with students I am advising than like an argument. A choice has to be made that may affect Harry's life, the Hat is supposed to make it because it (he?) is the expert, but Harry's input is solicited to inform the decision. // My biggest advising problem is often getting the student to have an opinion, any opinion, so I figure the Hat has it good. Commented Feb 4, 2014 at 16:34
  • He (it?) won against Neville, who wanted Hufflepuff
    – ava
    Commented Nov 12, 2021 at 21:42

2 Answers 2


I don't recall such an event elaborated on in the books themselves.

But did happen at least once, as covered on Pottermore article on Hatstalls:

"Of Harry Potter’s contemporaries, Hermione Granger and Neville Longbottom came closest to being Hatstalls. The Sorting Hat spent nearly four minutes trying to decide whether it should place Hermione in Ravenclaw or Gryffindor. In Neville's case, the Hat was determined to place him in Gryffindor: Neville, intimidated by that house’s reputation for bravery, requested a placing in Hufflepuff. Their silent wrangling resulted in triumph for the Hat."

Now, whether Hermione had an opinion (and what it was) isn't made clear. So she could be an example of any one of those 3 cases.

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    Poor old Neville, didn't know his own strengths! Commented Feb 4, 2014 at 6:20
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    @Arachno-Sapien - that (self-doubt - including and especially in one's own bravery) is an incredibly common trope, though usually associated with main hero. I would hit you with a TVTropes link but I feel pity for the potentially wasted hours of your life :) Commented Feb 4, 2014 at 7:07
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    @Arachno-Sapien - read "The Seas of Venus"... it was a very nice example of someone doing amazingly brave things while non-stop feeling like a coward. Commented Feb 4, 2014 at 7:08
  • Haha so TVTropes is that bad, huh? The Seas of Venus ... OK, I'll check it out :) I've always admired heroes. Commented Feb 4, 2014 at 9:03
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    In Philosopher’s Stone, she says “I’ve been asking around and I hope I’m in Gryffindor, it sounds by far the best, […] but I suppose Ravenclaw wouldn’t be too bad…”. That could be seen as a mild opinion in favour of Gryffindor over Ravenclaw.
    – alexwlchan
    Commented Apr 24, 2014 at 18:07

Well, a major theme in the Harry Potter series is the importance of choice and free-will. That's what the last two to three pages of the Horcruxes chapter in HBP was about.

The Sorting Hat is an object that delves into a person's mind, judging them on what it understands about the witch or wizard's personality, skills, abilities and other qualities. However, the moral lesson here is that, as Dumbledore says, it is our choices that show what we truly are, far more than our abilities. So the Sorting Hat can oblige a student's choice of House, as it did for Harry.

Hermione Granger states in OotP that the Hat did seriously consider placing her in Ravenclaw (probably because of her intellect), but had to take a moment before deciding on Gryffindor. Perhaps it realised that she was more brave than brainy? Or something along those lines. Dumbledore, during a flash-back in DH, muses to Snape that "sometimes I think we Sort too soon," in reference to Snape's bravery at refusing to flee Hogwarts like Karkaroff. Perhaps the Sorting Hat thought of placing Snape in Gryffindor during his Sorting but placed him in the House he wanted to be in: Slytherin? That's speculation, but I think, legitimate.

As to your question, though, we never really get an example in the books of a student who explicitly asks the Hat to be placed in a House of their choosing and then fails to get their wish. I think it's fair to assume that it is possible, however. Generally, though, the Hat seems a nice-enough character to respect peoples' choices.

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    Having just read DVK's answer, I realised that there is a canonical answer to this question. According to Pottermore, Neville was denied his choice of Hufflepuff because the Sorting Hat could see his potential as a Gryffindor. Interesting. Commented Feb 4, 2014 at 6:19
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    "a nice-enough character to respect peoples' choices" - JKR stated that the Hat is never wrong. So presumably it would only respect people's wishes when they match up to what the Hat felt right :) Commented Feb 4, 2014 at 7:01
  • Well, the Hat would have been wrong in making Harry a Slytherin, but I'm guessing you mean that it is never wrong in its final decision - whether or not it listens to the wearer's requests. Although, why Peter Pettigrew was ever made a Gryffindor is beyond me. He was a cowardly wart! Then again, maybe it was plot convenience. If Pettigrew was made a Slytherin, the House James Potter despised, he would never have befriended Pettigrew in the first place. Then he wouldn't have been betrayed. Commented Feb 4, 2014 at 9:09
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    According to how the hat acts in the genuine books (books 1 to 3), it puts children into the school that best matches their gifts, and it respects (but does not necessarily obey) their wishes. Putting Harry into Slytherin would not have been "wrong" since he had all the base qualities that Slytherin himself valued (and, equally, the base qualities that Gryffindor valued). The hat sorted him into Gryffindor because that is what the child preferred, but this doesn't mean the hat couldn't have decided differently, or that this would have been "wrong".
    – Damon
    Commented Feb 10, 2014 at 22:48
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    Very likely, Snape, having been an abused child who wanted the power to at the very least put an end to the abuse, was Slytherin material with a capital 'S'. It was probably later that he learned the value of characteristics that would have put him in a different house.
    – EvilSnack
    Commented Oct 16, 2016 at 19:07

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