Everyone loves a good bad guy, right? It’s why we all prefer Hannibal Lector over Clarice Starling, prefer Scar over Simba and Wile E. Coyote over The Roadrunner. It’s all about depth and mystery – we either need to know the backstory so that we understand the motives behind the evil, or we need to be told as little as possible so that we’re left to fill in the gaps ourselves.
From what we know, and what we don’t, we form an opinion on every villain, from the named henchmen like Oddjob or Paulie Gatto, up to the masterminds themselves like Emperor Palpatine or The Joker. It’s just the way it is.
With all of this in mind, there’s a few Death Eaters we find out about through the Harry Potter series… But which is best? Which are in the Top 5, even? Well, let’s find out, shall we?
Now, before we start, I just want to make it clear what it is we’re judging on here – there’s a lot of suitable criteria available! So, for the purposes of this post, the Death Eater that is best at being a Death Eater will rank better than those that do not. When a draw is present, if a draw is present, the better witch or wizard will rank higher. So, let’s get on with it, eh?
5 – Peter Pettigrew
Peter Pettigrew was not your conventional Death Eater, indeed, apparently he’s the only major one to not have been in Slytherin, but instead, was in Gryffindor. As unique as that makes him, he’s still present at the bottom of the list. His actions were not due to loyalty to the Dark Lord, but out of fear. So why is he on the list?
Because he’s the one that brought Voldemort back from the half-existence he was victim to. Without Pettigrew, we have to assume that Voldemort would never have returned, and even if Peter only did it because he felt he had no other choice, he still did it, and continued to serve under him until his death in Deathly Hallows.
4 – Fenrir Greyback
Fenrir Greyback, the most prolific werewolf mentioned in the Harry Potter series (although, I don’t know much about the extended universe, so that might not actually be true). As well as being a particularly effective combatant and a representative for werewolves everywhere, Fenrir is also part of the group that actually succeeds in capturing Harry, Ron and Hermione in Deathly Hallows, something we have to assume was part of the Death Eater’s standing orders.
Okay, so it was purely by chance – Harry used Voldemort’s name and Fenrir happened to be in the group that turned up to deal with it, but consider this for a moment. Dolohov and Rowle had the exact same job, attacking the trio in a café as soon as they start their search for horcruxes, and despite catching them almost completely unawares, they fail quite spectacularly at capturing them. This clearly shows that Fenrir and his gang of snatchers have skill above and beyond other Death Eaters, and that earns him the number four spot.
3 – Barty Crouch Jnr
Barty Crouch Jnr is a favourite of mine – a delightfully evil character with enough charisma and sense to enact a plan that actually works, whilst only being discovered as a result of his own hubris. He manages to incapacitate Mad Eye Moody, take his place and evade suspicion for the best part of a year, despite being under the watchful eye of Albus Dumbledore.
I would go far as to say that rather than failing Voldemort, Voldemort failed Barty, since as far as our knowledge goes, it was Barty’s job to get Harry to the graveyard in Goblet of Fire, and he succeeded in that task beautifully. Voldemort, however, was tasked with killing Harry and failed to do so. Another classic example of a boss letting down his staff.
2 – Bellatrix Lestrange
Bellatrix Lestrange is undoubtedly the individual you all expected to see at the top of this list, I’m sure. She’s strong, capable, maliciously brilliant and just the right level of fanatic to make Al Shabaab jealous. She has a blatant disregard for her own family, murdering Sirius Black right in front of Harry, and is, depending on whether you follow the books or the films, consistently trusted to take part in major Death Eater activities, from the battle at the Department of Mysteries, to Assassinating Dumbledore, to burning down The Burrow.
She’s dangerous, she’s mental, and she’s number the on the list.
1 – Severus Snape
Severus Snape, some would say, is an odd addition to this list and given his somewhat ambiguous stance on the civil war that continues to rock the wizarding world, I can’t say that I blame such people. However, I make this counter-case.
Someone can be good at something without necessarily being a part of the cause. Indeed, the man who convinces the Dark Lord that he is faithful, despite in fact working against him for over a decade and a half is no tall order, and over that time he would have repeatedly had to prove himself to Voldemort to a level that satisfied him. He managed that and, ultimately, only ended up being killed by Voldemort as a result of misinterpretation of wand lore. If only Ollivander had been more forthcoming with information, perhaps we might still have a Severus to experience… Perhaps even… Uncle Severus?