Harry Potter Movies Missed the Mark on Snape's Redemption Arc

Harry Potter Movies Missed the Mark on Snape's Redemption Arc
Image credit: Warner Bros.

No film series adapted from novels will ever perfectly match its source material – sometimes for the better, and sometimes for worse.

In Harry Potter, a few significant changes were made regarding Servius Snape and his eventual redemption – but it still wasn't enough to justify his wrongdoings.

In the films, Snape was often portrayed as a bully to his students, dolling out sarcastic remarks and giving clear precedence to his fellow Slytherins.

But ultimately, he was a good person. Notably, in the Prisoner of Azkaban, Snape placed himself in between the werewolf and Ron, Hermione, and Harry. Despite being a bully with a vendetta against Harry, he was going to protect him.

In the books, he was far more vicious and far less concerned about the children's well-being. However, the biggest miss in the movies was the lack of development regarding James and Snape's rivalry.

The revelation of Snape's childhood is the biggest argument for his eventual redemption. In the books, he was ruthlessly bullied by James Potter. Snape fell in love with Lily, who later married James and gave birth to Harry.

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The book version revealed that James didn't like Snape because he was interested in the Dark Arts, and dived deep into the spite that turned Snape the way he was: Hateful and cruel.

It serves as a redemption arc for Snape, especially given all the good he'd done later in the series. The movies only showed a handful of moments of James' cruelty and completely changed the way Lily and Snape fell apart.

In the movie The Deathly Hallows Part 2, we find out that Snape and Lily were once friends. There's a scene where James bumps into Lily in a school hallway, knocking her books to the floor.

As Snape reaches down to help her pick the books up, he notices James and Lily sharing a secret look.

We're meant to believe that Lily and Snape simply grew apart because she fell in love with James – the man who'd bullied Snape – but that was far from the case in the books.

In the books, Lily discovered Voldemort's effect on Snape, that he'd bought into his mindset toward the Dark Arts and muggle-borns. Being a muggle-born herself, Lily ended the friendship there.

The book's Snape found out that Harry was the Chosen One when eavesdropping on Dumbledore. He told Voldemort, who decided to kill James, Lily, and Harry to protect himself.

Snape begged Voldemort to spare Lily's life, though he didn't care if Harry and James were to die.

Several small Snape moments were cut out of the films in an effort to make Snape a more redeemable character, and while he is one of the most interesting parts of the series, his background in the films still does not justify his cruelty.