WARNING: THIS LIST CONTAINS PLOT SPOILERS!!! If you have not read the series, please look no further.
Inspired by Sharrie's list, I've decided to create my own list, which will reveal some of the most memorable and iconic moments (plus ones that I just love) in the Harry Potter series by J.K. Rowling. I should point out that this list is for muggles and magic folk alike, but if you have not delved into the world of magic found in the books, please read no further as this list will include specific plot details.
Please also take note that when I could I used images from the books, but elsewhere I've used photos from the films, though this list refers to the characters and events depicted in the books and not the films.
Obviously, as the first book in the series, this one has a lot of classic moments (all of which I won't have the time to discuss here, but fret not, there will be other lists to devote to these moments).
First off, we are introduced to the principal characters:
Harry Potter - Raised along with his cousin by his cruel uncle and aunt, The Dursleys, Harry Potter is the primary hero of the novels. Harry, who on his 11th birthday discovers that his mother was a witch and his father a wizard, is sent off to Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry.
Hermione Granger - Born of muggle (non-magic) parents, Hermione has a lot to prove and as such she is one of Hogwarts' most studious young witches and with her extensive knowledge, she manages to help Harry Ron out of many perilous situations.
Ronald Weasley - Ron comes from a large family (and a rather poor one, which has made him the target of bully by Draco Malfoy) having six siblings, and being the second youngest he is sometimes immature and insensitive, but he has a big heart and a great sense of humor.
Rubeus Hagrid - The half-giant Keeper of Keys and Grounds at Hogwarts, Hagrid becomes something of an avuncular figure to Harry, since he was close friends with Harry's parents as well as with Prof. Dumbledore. In addition, Hagrid has a penchant for being an animal lover (he bought Harry a Snowy Owl named Hedwig for a birthday present) though his ideal pet isn't quite so cute and cuddly.
Professor Minerva McGonagall - Prof. McGonagall is the head of the Gryffindor House, to which Harry and his closest friends all belong, and she is a stern albeit caring figure at Hogwarts. Forever the disciplinarian, she often scolds young students for getting into mischief, but she also shows a softer side for those who strive to help others, especially Harry and his friends.
Headmaster Albus Dumbledore - Prof. Dumbledore is well over a hundred years old and very much in the image of the classical wizard: tall, lean, dressed in colorful robes and pointy hat, and always with a very long beard and half-moon spectacles. Dubledore is a slightly eccentric figure who is described by many as the greatest wizard ever, and more than that, he is perhaps the single most important adult figure in young Harry's life being both a friend and guardian.
Professor Severus Snape - Prof. Snape is a very serious, dark, and occasionally spiteful figure. He takes pride in his students at Slytherin House and yearns to be the Professor of Defense Against the Dark Arts, though he is stuck in the position of teaching Potions. Snape and Harry seem to, from the very beginning, distrust and very much dislike one another.
Draco Malfoy - Draco Malfoy is a primary antagonist in the series and a fellow classmate at Hogwarts, though unlike Harry and his friends, he belongs to the elitist Slytherin House, which prizes itself above all the other houses at Hogwarts.
Lord Voldemort - Lord Voldemort, also referred to as You-Know-Who or He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named, is the ultimate villain of the series and the most dangerous wizard alive. It was Voldemort who was responsible for the deaths of Harry's parents and Voldemort will stop at nothing to destroy Harry Potter and gain immortality for himself.
The first novel has many memorable moments of adventure and excitement (the last third of the book is just one great climax after another as Harry and his friends race against time to find the Sorcerer's Stone before Voldemort gets it). However, what struck me the most in the first novel is how rich and vividly depicted the cast of characters is. Everyone of them has a special uniqueness to them that gives them depth and complexity and makes the reader care for them. If there were one single image or event from the book which stuck in my memory the most, it would have to be the way Rowling describes Harry learning to fly on the broomstick and play Quidditch. I also love the first Sorting Hat ceremony.
The second book has a lot going for it including a truly mysterious plot in which students at Hogwarts begin turning to stone and Harry Potter is considered a suspect. In addition to the darker story, we also are introduced to new characters including the whiny House-elf Dobby and the vain Professor Gilderoy Lockhart. Perhaps, in retrospect, this book is more important for its inclusion of certain elements of the Harry Potter mythos (the Horcrux is introduced here, but I won't say what it is) and the development of important characters like Ginny Weasely and Lucius Malfoy.
There are a number of wonderful moments in the second book, though I think that on a whole it doesn't quite live up to the first, but that's not really important since each book is essentially just a small piece of a much larger puzzle. With creatures like giant spiders, Basilisks, and Whomping Willows, Harry Potter and his pals have a series of comical and sometimes frightening (mis)adventures.
The third book in the series (and still my favorite) is darker in tone than the previous two entries and like the first two books it has a surprise twist ending and it's a good one, so I won't give away any big spoilers.
There are many new characters and events that are revealed to be of great importance to Harry and his friends. We get to meet Prof. Remus Lupin, a very kind and fair teacher, but one with a secret to hide. We thrill to the horrors of the Dementors, hooded soulless creatures that hover about and suck the hopes and joys from people's heart until they are driven mad with despair. We learn that Harry's parents were betrayed by a close friend of theirs and Harry is determined to avenge their deaths. And furthermore, we are introduced to Sirius Black, a mysterious and dangerous wizard who has been locked away in prison for years and will now do anything to see Harry. In this particular story, there are many twists and turns and nothing is quite what it seems.
Obviously, the Triwizard Tournament was a huge part of the plot in the fourth book and it certainly was one of the most exciting to see on-screen in the film as well, but this particular novel has a lot more than just that going for it. It also includes the first death of a student in the Harry Potter novels and the first real signs of Harry, Hermione, and Ron growing up (Ron and Hermione begin to realize their true feelings for one another).
We can see the characters develop and their budding interesting in the opposite sex as a bit of mild flirtation occurs in the long and winding hallways of Hogwarts. We can see a growing angst as it becomes apparent to Harry and his friends that Voldemort will return and that their future adventures will become increasingly darker and more dangerous. Indeed, the toll that defending good and defeating evil takes upon them shall be heavy.
However, the novel has lighter moments of humor and romance as is to be expected. Perhaps some of the funniest and poignant moments come from Hermione's discovery that Hogwarts has employed house-elves (who are essentially exploited for their subservient nature) and forms SPEW (Society for the Promotion of Elfish Welfare). We also begin to see Dobby evolve as a character (his initial appearance in Book 2 was rather annoying), but there are glimpses here of Dobby's noble spirit and true potential which comes in to play later on in the series.
In book five, Rowling delivers perhaps more information regarding the nature of Harry's strange connection to Voldemort (why Harry's scar burns when Voldemort is near, why Harry's wand and Voldemort's wand cancel each other out, and why Harry sometimes can see what Voldemort sees) and we get another harrowing finale (books 4-6 all climax with the death of a different character).
But what's truly exciting is that you are introduced to new characters and environs such as the Order of the Phoenix, a group of wizards and witches sworn to fight against Voldemort at all costs, and the introduction of some story elements that will play a big part in the series. We also meet the despicable Dolores Umbridge, an almost Gestapo-like new teacher who will do anything to hush up rumors about Voldemort's return. In addition, we are shown what Harry's parents were like when they were younger and we are clued in as to why Severys Snape has such a grudge against the Potters. But for me, the best part of the book, which has a somewhat rambling narrative as it swings back and forth between a thriller and a teen angst story, is when the students of Hogwarts rebel against the influence of the now corrupt Ministry of Magic in their school by forming the club Dumbledore's Army. I won't give it away, but I will say that Ron's older brothers Fred and George, known as the Weasley twins, play a big part in one of the most exciting chapters.
Emotions and thrills run high in the sixth book, in which Harry accompanies Dumbledore on a series of missions that reveal Voldemort's past and bring them closer to defeating him. Personally, I love this book and it probably is my favorite in the series along with book 3, simply because it balances the humor, romance, danger, and heartbreak of the characters and their adventures so well. As mentioned above, books 4-6 all feature the deaths of prominent characters and the death which occurs in this book is the most powerful of all.
For me, this was the HP book that cemented the series as one of the all-time great fantasy series and showed that it would not only appeal to future generations of young readers, but also to more and more adults as well. Because the last two books reveal so many of the mysteries that were developed throughout the series, I won't divulge too much, but I will reveal my favorite moment. All I can say is that there is a truly heartfelt scene which takes place during a funeral in which Harry is catalyzed into action and he realizes what he must now do and he comes to his decision, though he plans to go off alone and leave Hogwarts and his friends behind, but of course Ron and Hermione won't let him. Ultimately, that is what these books are about: unbreakable bonds of friendship. You can take out the magic and the adventures and the complex revenge/redemption story and what you are left with is a group of very well-conceived of characters whose friendship will endure through all sort of hardships as well as triumphs.
Book seven is a bittersweet affair. On the one hand, the story comes together and all (or almost all) the loose ends are tied up as the characters come to the end of their journeys. Naturally, Harry, Ron, and Hermione have essentially dropped out of Hogwarts in order to take on an exceptionally dangerous mission to find out the truth about Voldemort and collect the objects needed to destroy him once and for all. But along the way, their friendship is tested, jealousies arise, friends and family are lost, and Harry will risk everything that he has left to stop the Dark Wizard who killed his parents and caused him such pain.
With this particular book I felt a slight tinge of disappointment since so many characters die throughout the novel and with many of them you never fully get closure. So, it is unsurprising I guess that the most memorable moments in such a dark and tense novel filled with the deaths of beloved characters are the deaths themselves. Among the deaths which really exact a toll on Harry and on the readers are two involving non-human characters introduced early on in the series and that's all I can say... for now.