Who’s the Smartest Harry Potter Antagonist Fans Always Forget About?

Who’s the Smartest Harry Potter Antagonist Fans Always Forget About?
Image credit: Warner Bros.

Debating about Voldemort, Grindelwald, and other Umbridges, Potterheads always disregard one of the minor antagonists who was smarter than the rest of this bunch.


  • Most Potterheads think of Lord Voldemort and the Death Eaters as the series’ antagonists.
  • Rita Skeeter, a sharp and annoying journalist, is often disregarded as a character.
  • Meanwhile, Skeeter was smarter and wiser than other antagonists in many ways.

When someone asks you about the antagonists in Harry Potter, your mind immediately jumps to the likes of the Dark Lord, his loyal psychopath servants, and other figures that remain relevant and important throughout the entire series. However, this approach makes you overlook the smartest antagonist in the franchise.

One of the very few whose wit allowed them to stay out of grave and Azkaban both.

Who Are the Primary Antagonists in Harry Potter?

Lord Voldemort is the most obvious pick: he’s the ultimate Big Bad Guy of the Harry Potter series and the one with the most “screen time,” so to speak. His most notorious allies and minions like Bellatrix Lestrange, Fenrir Greyback, Barty Crouch Jr., and other Death Eaters immediately come to mind, too.

Going a bit wider with our definition of “antagonists,” we end up in Hogwarts and the Ministry of Magic: Lucius and Draco Malfoy; Dolores Umbridge; and even Aragog all eventually rise from the bottoms of our memory. And in the Wizarding World at large, it’s hard to ignore Gellert Grindelwald, Durmstrang’s most infamous graduate.

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Despite their reputations, the vast majority of them were not half as bright as needed and ended up either dead or imprisoned. But one unlikely Harry Potter antagonist managed to play her cards just right to stay out of trouble…for the most part.

Is Rita Skeeter Even a True Antagonist in Harry Potter?

Some fans might claim that calling Rita Skeeter an antagonist is a stretch, but we tend to disagree. In Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, she played a significant role and made the Golden Trio’s life a living hell and was hated by the three of them; appropriately, she was later defeated by Hermione Granger like all other antagonists.

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It’s easy to overlook Rita Skeeter: what’s one pesky journalist compared to Lord Voldemort and his Death Eaters? For this reason, people don’t often remember her when it comes to the “smartest antagonist” debates which is a mistake if you ask us.

But even so, what makes Rita smarter than all other antagonists? Well, let’s see.

Why Was Rita Skeeter the Smartest Harry Potter Antagonist?

Long story short, Rita always knew her hand and played her cards right. She didn’t pursue victory where it was impossible and acknowledged her defeat, using the situation to cut her losses. But also, she didn’t mistake dreams for opportunities.

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Rita Skeeter was clearly a rather talented witch. She managed to become an Animagus which is no small feat — and she managed to hide it for decades. Then, she found a way to use her animal form to her advantage: by turning into a fly, Skeeter learned many things she wasn’t supposed to, advancing her career.

While a fly is a convenient disguise, Rita also used other illegal methods of extracting information: for instance, she used Veritaserum on Bathilda Bagshot who clearly wasn’t her first victim. And Rita Skeeter never got caught! In this way, she was a female version of Gilderoy Lockhart who, unlike the original, had brains.

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Even when finally discovered by Hermione Granger, Rita Skeeter was smart enough to cut a deal. Despite coming off as petty and vindictive, the journalist avoided the damage coming her way by allowing Hermione a complete win. Skeeter’s entire punishment was publishing one article she didn’t want to write — and that’s considering her extensive list of crimes and the fact that she was literally captured.

In most senses, Rita Skeeter was way smarter than other Harry Potter antagonists. She only acted in self-interest, played into her strengths, and knew how to minimize her losses. Thanks to that, by the end of the series, Skeeter enjoyed freedom, a prospering career, money, and the reputation of a great investigative journalist.