Teachers never get enough credit, and that’s especially true of those who work at Hogwarts School Of Witchcraft And Wizardry. Hormonal teens are already a handful, but imagine dealing with hormonal teens who also have access to magic wands.
Among the staff’s most thankless positions is the Defense Against The Dark Arts instructor, who is tasked with preparing students to protect themselves from violent spells, dangerous creatures, and all sorts of assorted evils. By design, it’s a volatile role, and it’s had such a high turnover rate that many believe it’s jinxed, since no instructor manages to last more than a single school year (Dumbledore once asserted that Voldemort put a curse on it after his application was rejected). So it’s not entirely surprising that the professors it does attract tend to be quite peculiar, to say the least, with teaching methods that range from questionable to outright diabolical.
Throughout Harry Potter’s seven years at Hogwarts, there were seven different teachers for Defense Against The Dark Arts—many of whom got themselves into trouble after dabbling a little too heavily in the Dark Arts. For fans of the books and films, the revolving door of instructors became one of its signatures, ushering in some of Potter’s most eccentric allies and most fearsome enemies. With the Harry Potter film series reaching its 20th anniversary milestone this month, we’re looking back at the professors who dared to lead Hogwarts’ most hazardous classroom, ranking them from worst to best in terms of job performance—and overall legacy.
For extra credit, we’ll also be paying tribute to the distinguished character actors who have played the Defense Against The Dark Arts professors since Harry Potter And The Sorcerer’s Stone, shouting out recommended performances from TV and film where you can see more from each of them.