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Hufflepuffs are heroes, too

Overlooked in the rivalry between Gryffindor and Slytherin, Helga Hufflepuff’s Hogwarts namesake is finally getting the attention it deserves

newt scamander in fantastic beasts the crimes of grindelwald Jaap Buitendijk/Warner Bros. Pictures

You might belong in Hufflepuff, where they are just and loyal, those patient Hufflepuffs are true, and unafraid of toil. —Sorting Hat, Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone

The Hufflepuff life is a difficult one. Despite being the Hogwarts house that accepts anyone and everyone into its ranks, Hufflepuff is often, on paper, overshadowed by the competition: Slytherin praises ambition; Gryffindor seeks bravery; and Ravenclaw prides intelligence. Hufflepuff is founded on a warmer message: inclusivity and equality. In the wake of Dumbledore’s death in Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, Hufflepuff head of house Pomona Sprout declared, “I feel that if a single pupil wants to come, then the school ought to remain open for that pupil.”

Newt Scamander, the protagonist of J.K. Rowling’s prequel series Fantastic Beasts, finally gives Hufflepuffs their own starring vehicle. An eccentric type who, according to Newt himself, is found annoying by most people, the famed magizoologist is a rare and unlikely hero. However, it isn’t Newt’s eccentricity alone that makes this so. As a Hufflepuff, Newt is bunched in with the house that are often deemed to be inferior to the other houses. His heroism and pursuit of justice in his protagonistic role are indicative of why this isn’t the case.

Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them makes a hero out of a Hufflepuff, but it isn’t the first time that one has risen to the occasion, a fact that even Rowling hopes Potter fans remember as the wizarding world continues to expand.

[Ed. note: This article contains spoilers for most media across the Harry Potter universe.]

Pomona Sprout in Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets
Pomona Sprout
Warner Bros. Pictures

In Harry Potter and the Cursed Child, Harry’s son, Albus Severus Potter, teams up with Scorpius Malfoy, who is Draco’s son. The two come across a Time-Turner and attempt to undo the death of Cedric Diggory, the famed Hufflepuff Quidditch captain who died at the Triwizard Tournament in his sixth year at Hogwarts. After several failed attempts at rescuing him, the mischievous duo actually ends up turning Cedric into a Death Eater in an alternative timeline.

This is the only known instance of a Hufflepuff ever becoming a Dark Wizard — and it’s in an alternate timeline. In the world of Harry Potter as we know it, there are no recorded instances of a person who was sorted into Hufflepuff ever becoming a Death Eater, or any other kind of Dark Wizard for that matter.

During the infamous Battle of Hogwarts in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Harry’s own house, Gryffindor, had the greatest turnout. Hufflepuff was a close second. Despite not being ambitious enough for Slytherin, clever enough for Ravenclaw or brave enough for Gryffindor, the loyalty of Hufflepuff students compelled them to fight alongside their fellow pupils to defend the Castle.

In that respect, Hufflepuff were the real driving force behind the Battle of Hogwarts; whereas Gryffindor fought for Harry and glory, Hufflepuff fought for what they knew was right. It’s also worth mentioning that Dumbledore’s Army was filled with Hufflepuffs who were “unafraid of toil,” as the Sorting Hat’s song puts it. Hannah Abbott, Ernie MacMillan, and Justin Finch-Fletchley were just three of the many witches and wizards who took a stand with Harry, Ron, and Hermione after Dumbledore was ousted from Hogwarts.

It’s no wonder, then, that Hufflepuff has produced no shortage of exceptional wizards and witches. Pomona Sprout, the Head of House during Harry’s time at Hogwarts, openly opposed the tyrannical reign of Dolores Umbridge when she was appointed Headmistress at Hogwarts after Dumbledore’s expulsion. During the Battle of the Astronomy Tower and the Battle of Hogwarts, Sprout insisted that the school remain open, and fought on the frontlines with her best Herbology students, tossing Devil’s Snare at the Death Eaters from the Castle’s battlements.

Most notably, Sprout demonstrated profound solidarity with Harry after he took an interview with Xenophilius Lovegood’s The Quibbler in Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix. Harry was brave enough to publicly reveal the return of Lord Voldemort, and although many people thought that he was spouting nonsense, Professor Sprout awarded twenty points to Gryffindor because Harry passed her a watering can. Perhaps this was done out of respect because Harry returned Cedric’s body; however, it’s more likely that this was a gesture designed to tell Harry that the professors of Hogwarts were on his side.

Nymphadora Tonks in Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix
Nymphadora Tonks
Warner Bros. Pictures

When talking about Hufflepuff, one can’t go without mentioning Nymphadora Tonks. A Metamorphmagus, Tonks was able to shapeshift at will, which got her into a lot of trouble at Hogwarts, as she regularly took on the appearance of her professors for a laugh. However, Tonks’ emotions could complicate her abilities, which was something that manifested itself in her physical appearance due to her inability to control it at these times. Usually seen wearing bubblegum-pink hair, Tonks became gaunt and colorless when she suffered heartbreak after she and Remus Lupin realized that they couldn’t be together.

This, combined with instances such as Hannah Abbott believing that she was too stupid to sit her O.W.L.s, highlights the fact that Hufflepuffs are sensitive. After all, there is a lot of overlap between Gryffindor and Hufflepuff, but while Gryffindors are known for courage and showboating, Hufflepuffs are known for being unafraid, even when they don’t necessarily believe in themselves. Again, it is usually their loyalty that compels them to do the right thing, highlighting the fact that they are the most selfless of Hogwarts students. Nymphadora Tonks placed her life on the line on several occasions throughout the series to save Harry and fight the good fight, and eventually lost her life at the Battle of Hogwarts when she was struck with Bellatrix Lestrange’s Killing Curse. A true hero, Tonks played an essential role in defeating Lord Voldemort while never wavering on what made her a Hufflepuff.

Cedric Diggory in Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire
Cedric Diggory
Warner Bros. Pictures

Cedric Diggory is the most prominent Hufflepuff in the original Harry Potter series, as he is a Prefect, the captain of Hufflepuff’s Quidditch team and an eventual Triwizard Champion. In Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, Cedric catches the Golden Snitch in a game against Gryffindor. He quickly realizes that Harry had been knocked off his broom by Dementors and immediately offers to void the match in the interest of fair play. The pride of Gryffindor captain Oliver Wood causes him to turn Cedric’s offer down, but Cedric’s offer highlights his ability to put fair play first in competition — something that the vast majority of students in the other houses wouldn’t do. For example, the reason the match was between Gryffindor and Hufflepuff in the first place was because Slytherin pulled out, with Draco Malfoy claiming that his arm had been injured by the hippogriff Buckbeak, despite being visibly fine.

During the Triwizard Tournament, most of the students in Hogwarts turned against Harry. As he was underage, people assumed that he had cheated in order to put his name into the Goblet of Fire. Cedric, however, treated Harry with kindness throughout the tournament, even when the non-competing students didn’t. After Harry told Cedric about the dragons in the first task, Cedric gave Harry access to the Prefect’s Bathroom on the fifth floor so that he could listen to the merpeople of The Great Lake, thus returning the favor. He also asked his friends to stop wearing the “Support CEDRIC DIGGORY — the REAL Hogwarts Champion!” and blunter “POTTER STINKS” badges.

At the end of the tournament, Cedric told Harry to take the Triwizard Cup. Harry had saved Cedric from a bewitched Viktor Krum and then an Acromantula, causing Cedric to ask Harry to take the Cup as it was rightfully his. Harry, perhaps inspired by Cedric, had a true and unlikely Hufflepuff moment, suggesting that they take the Cup together for a Hogwarts victory. This brought about the tragic fate of Cedric Diggory, referred to by Voldemort as “the spare.” Cedric was murdered by Peter Pettigrew, but his spirit returned in order to fend off Voldemort alongside Harry’s parents, giving Harry the time he needed to escape Little Hangleton’s graveyard.

Headmaster Albus Dumbledore spoke at Cedric’s memorial service, saying, “Today we acknowledge a really terrible loss. Cedric Diggory was, as you all know, exceptionally hardworking, infinitely fair-minded, and most importantly a fierce, fierce friend. Now I think therefore you have the right to know exactly how he died. You see, Cedric Diggory was murdered by Lord Voldemort. The Ministry of Magic does not wish me to tell you this, but not to do so I think would be an insult to his memory.”

Thus, Cedric Diggory’s legacy as a hardworking, fair and loyal member of house Hufflepuff is part of what inspired the students of Hogwarts to believe Harry’s claims and to act heroically further down the line. Dumbledore’s Army, the opposition of Dolores Umbridge, and the various battles that took place on the Castle grounds thereafter were all charged with the memory of Cedric, a Hufflepuff hero who died after exhibiting fierce loyalty and standing up to the Dark Lord himself. In fact, in Chapter 2 of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, it’s revealed that Harry still kept a “Support Cedric Diggory” badge in memory of his late friend.

newt scamander and pickett in fantastic beasts
Newt Scamander, Pickett and Jacob
Warner Bros. Pictures

Although the heroism of Hufflepuff can be seen once you do a little digging, Newt Scamander’s role as the protagonist of Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them is a long overdue depiction of Hogwarts’ most important house. Newt was actually expelled from Hogwarts after his friend committed an expulsion-worthy offence. Newt’s fierce loyalty compelled him to take the blame, resulting in his being booted in her place — something that Albus Dumbledore always knew was wrong.

An inherently talented magizoologist, Newt Scamander worked on a confidential program run by the Ministry of Magic during the First World War — before his trip to New York in Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them — which had to be canceled due to the fact that he was the only person the Ukrainian Ironbellies didn’t try to eat. His unafraid and calm disposition to even the most fearsome beasts were a result of his Hufflepuff attributes, and can be seen in the first Fantastic Beasts film in the way in which he treats his Swooping Evil, Frank.

Newt’s eccentricity was partly the reason as to why he spent so much time with magical creatures as opposed to actual people. Lots of people found him annoying, including his own Hufflepuff chums, so in a way, his expulsion from Hogwarts was actually what catapulted him into his highly successful career. As Albus Dumbledore fondly puts it in the trailer for Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them: The Crimes of Grindelwald, “if you’d ever taught him, you’d know that Newt is not a great follower of orders.” Academic life in Hogwarts wasn’t for him, as he had bigger ambitions and a far more important role to play in the bringing down of the Dark Wizard Gellert Grindelwald.

In the 2012 “Harry Potter: Beyond the Page” webcast, J.K. Rowling delivered an extended ode to the house:

This may surprise people, but it’s the truth … In many, many ways, Hufflepuff is my favourite house. Here’s my reasoning, bear with me — again, I don’t want to spoil things too much for people who haven’t read the whole series, so I’m going to say what I’m about to say quite carefully.

There comes a point in the final book where each house has the choice whether or not to rise to a certain challenge, and that’s everyone in the house. The Slytherins, for reasons that are understandable, decide they’d rather not play. The Ravenclaws; some decide they will, some decide they won’t. The Hufflepuffs, virtually to a person, stay, as do the Gryffindors. Now, the Gryffindors comprise a lot of foolhardy and show-offy people, that’s just the way it is — I’m a Gryffindor, I’m allowed to say it.

You know, there’s bravery, and there’s also showboating, and sometimes the two go together. The Hufflepuffs stayed for a different reason. They weren’t trying to show off, they weren’t being reckless; that’s the essence of Hufflepuff house. Now, my oldest child—my daughter, Jessica—said something very profound to me, not very many days ago, actually. She said to me—and she, by the way, was not sorted into Hufflepuff house—but she said to me, “I think we should all want to be Hufflepuffs.” I can only say to you, that I would not be at all disappointed to be sorted into Hufflepuff house.

Newt Scamander is an embodiment of all things Hufflepuff, and a proxy for the past heroes who never had their moment in the spotlight. On Pottermore, Gabriel Truman, a Hufflepuff Prefect during Harry’s time at Hogwarts, had the following to say about Hufflepuff’s mascot, the badger: “It’s an animal that is often underestimated, because it lives quietly until attacked, but which, when provoked, can fight off animals much larger than itself, including wolves.”

Testifying to the unafraid and just spirit of Hufflepuff, the badger is an unassuming but utterly fierce foe, which, when coupled with the loyalty and hardworking nature of Hufflepuff students, makes for a real hero.