Whether it's thanks to Voldemort or just really awful parents, nobody has it easy in Harry Potter. But whose past is the most upsetting?
For something that's filled with magic and splendor, the world of Harry Potter is actually pretty dark. Just when it seems like the series can't get much more tragic than opening on a recently orphaned infant, each installment introduces increasingly heartbreaking details about the life of its characters.
While the main storyline of the fight against Voldemort is harrowing enough, these characters also had to struggle through their own familial and personal issues. Nothing's ever straightforward in the wizarding world, but some have more upsetting histories than others.
The no-nonsense Transfiguration professor only shows glimpses of her softer side on occasion, such as in the wake of Dumbledore's death and to defend her students from Dolores Umbridge. But there's a reason why she keeps it so hidden, which JK Rowling revealed back in the days of Pottermore.
Minerva is the daughter of a witch and a Scottish Presbyterian minister, who reacted poorly to his wife's magical background. Reluctant to repeat history, Minerva called off her own wedding to a Muggle and married a colleague from the Ministry, only for him to die from a Venomous Tentacula bite three years into their marriage. Living at Hogwarts ever since, Minerva's repeated heartbreak explains a lot about her tough exterior.
Clever and powerful though he may be, fans are split on whether Dumbledore is actually a hero or a villain. One thing nobody can argue with is that his complex past had an impact on his questionable actions in the series.
As Harry himself learns in Deathly Hallows, Albus had a tumultuous youth. Not only was his father imprisoned for attacking Muggles, but Albus was potentially responsible for his sister's death when she came between a fight with himself, his brother, and Grindelwald. This trauma played a key role in Albus' demise as he was weakened from foolishly using the Resurrection Stone to try and see Ariana one last time.
Despite being one of the most loyal and friendly characters in the entire series, the world has never treated Hagrid kindly. His mother left when he was just three, and his beloved father died when Hagrid was in his second year.
The real kicker came the following year when he was set up by Voldemort - then Tom Riddle - as the one responsible for opening the Chamber of Secrets, and he was subsequently expelled. While Dumbledore intervened to have him instead trained as Gamekeeper, this kind of unjust punishment isn't something anyone recovers from too easily.
Voldemort's mother is one of many characters left out in the Harry Potter films, which is a big mistake considering how vital she is for understanding the villain. In the books, readers learn that she comes from a long line of dark Pure-blood wizards. Raised in a crumbling shack, she was the victim of abuse from her father and brother and struggled to effectively use magic.
Once both were incarcerated, Merope eventually regained enough magic to bewitch her neighbor, Tom Riddle. It was arguably the isolation of such an awful upbringing that drove her to do this, meaning Voldemort wouldn't have been born and the events of Harry Potter would never have happened if she'd had a better life.
The main justification given for Snape's undeniably awful behavior is that he overcame plenty of hardships in his youth, which is true. His father was a Muggle and abusive, while his mother - a Pure-blood witch - was highly neglectful of her only child. Snape grew up lonely and friendless until he met Lily Evans and recognized her to also have magic.
Even once Snape started Hogwarts, he struggled to let go of his past. His isolation severely damaged his social skills and he was hostile towards his classmates. While this is no excuse for his questionable actions later in life, it goes a long way in explaining Snape's demeanor.
None of the Dumbledores have a happy backstory, but Ariana's is definitely the saddest. At just six years old, she was caught performing magic by a group of Muggle boys who proceeded to attack her when she couldn't explain how they could do it themselves. Scarred, Ariana struggled with magic for the rest of her life.
The consequences were equally horrific. Not only was her father arrested for getting revenge, he later died in prison, and Ariana's lack of control over her magic led to an explosion that killed her mother. Ariana's death at such a young age is tragic enough, but the amount of guilt, confusion, and terror that filled her life until that point makes it even worse.
As a young, wealthy Pure-blood, Sirius could easily have become a Death Eater. Instead, he chose the more difficult path, clashing repeatedly with his family's elitist beliefs. He befriended James, Remus, and Peter, and ran away from home to live with the Potters.
Sadly things still didn't get easier once he'd left. Sirius was framed by Peter for the deaths of James and Lily. One of the harshest betrayals in all of Harry Potter, what makes it so cutting is the fact it came from the second family Sirius had fought so hard to keep.
The Chosen One can't catch a break for the entire Harry Potter series, and he got off to an equally rocky start. As the subject of the prophecy, his parents were singled out and murdered before his infant eyes, with the event haunting his nightmares throughout his teenage years.
Being orphaned at such a young age should be proof enough that Harry's backstory is tragic, yet his entire origin story before Hogwarts remains pretty miserable. Bullied by the Dursleys and his classmates, for 10 years of his life he is deprived of love. It's impressive that love remains his greatest power, as most would struggle to recover from this kind of childhood.
As the other potential child of the prophecy, Neville's backstory is nearly the same as Harry's. While Voldemort may not have targeted his family and killed his parents, in a way, the consequences were worse. Tortured by Death Eaters in the wake of Voldemort's disappearance, Frank and Alice Longbottom were driven to insanity.
Like Harry, Neville is parentless - except, technically, he's not. Being able to see and talk to his parents but not have them recognize him is a totally different kind of sadness that is even more frustrating. Unlike the Potters, there's no victory attached to their fate, and Neville is instead left isolated and criticized by his grandmother for failing to live up to their glory.
Even in the sea of tragic childhoods in Harry Potter, Remus Lupin manages to stand out for all the wrong reasons. When his father angered infamous werewolf Fenrir Greyback - who had a penchant for attacking young children - Remus was made his latest victim in revenge.
An attack is traumatic enough, but dealing with lycanthropy at such a young age is unimaginable and something from which it is literally impossible to escape. Once a month, Remus would have to be separated from everybody he knows, forced to undergo incredibly painful transformations and knowing that there was no way he could ever be like his peers. To rub salt into the wound, just when he finally did fit in, all of his friends were torn from him at the age of 21.