The protagonist of the novel, who turns seventeen during the course of the book. Harry is a courageous and determined young wizard who has decided not to return to Hogwarts school, instead pursuing a quest that Dumbledore left him to find and destroy Horcruxes, magic items that keep Lord Voldemort alive. Harry is consistently faithful to his quest throughout the book, though he struggles with self-doubt and wonders whether Dumbledore truly loved him. He is accompanied on his quest by Ron Weasley and Hermione Granger.
Harry Potter’s best friend and companion for most of the book. Ron is the same age as Harry and has also left Hogwarts to accompany Harry on his quest. He displays bravery, resourcefulness, and loyalty to Harry, though he also has to overcome his own immaturity and his self-doubt at playing second fiddle to Harry. He is in love with Hermione Granger.
Harry and Ron’s classmate and companion, and Ron’s girlfriend. Hermione is the smartest and most focused of the three friends, and her meticulous planning and exhaustive research into the quest help them time and time again. She is also surprisingly resourceful under pressure, rescuing them from scrapes in very thoughtful and farsighted ways. She is extremely hard on herself for the few mistakes she does make—as are Ron and Harry. Hermione is a so-called Mudblood, an offensive term meaning a witch or wizard born to non-magical parents.
The former headmaster of Hogwarts, and Harry’s friend and mentor, until his death, just before the events of this book. Dumbledore is extremely clever and farsighted, having laid the plans for Harry’s quest very thoroughly, but he is very cryptic, and Harry comes to doubt his wisdom. Dumbledore’s character and accomplishments come under attack throughout the course of the book. Dumbledore founded the Order of the Phoenix, a group of wizards dedicated to fighting Voldemort.
The man who killed Dumbledore, and a professor at Hogwarts, who later becomes headmaster. Before killing Dumbledore, Snape had been both a member of Dumbledore’s Order of the Phoenix and one of Voldemort’s Death Eaters. Dumbledore steadfastly believed Snape to be spying for him against Voldemort, and Voldemort believed Snape to be his spy against Dumbledore. Though numerous members of the Order and the Death Eaters suspect Snape of being a traitor to their respective causes, Snape’s true loyalties are a mystery throughout most of the series. .
Harry’s former Defense Against the Dark Arts teacher and good friend. Lupin is a werewolf and member of the Order of the Phoenix. He marries Nymphadora Tonks and becomes a father.
An Auror, or Dark Wizard hunter, and a member of the Order of the Phoenix. Moody is heavily scarred from his battles with Dark wizards and wears a magic eyeball that’s always in motion.
Harry’s cousin, whom we know from the rest of the series to be an overweight, spoiled bully. Harry rescued him from a dementor attack two summers before.
Harry’s uncle, an overweight, angry man who knows that Harry is a wizard but hates to hear any mention of wizards or magic.
Harry’s aunt, the sister of his dead mother Lily, who was a witch. Aunt Petunia has always hated wizards (and Harry) as much as her husband.
Ron Weasley’s mother, the formidable matriarch of the large Weasley family, a family of pureblood wizards.
The father of the Weasley family, and an employee of the Ministry of Magic. Arthur has always had a fondness for and curiosity about the Muggle (non-wizarding) world, which has kept him from advancing very far in his career at the Ministry. When Voldemort’s Death Eaters take over the Ministry, his safety is imperiled as well.
Ron’s older brothers, identical twins whom few people can tell apart. They are highly mischievous but loyal to Harry, who was in their house at Hogwarts and who gave them the money to start a magic shop.
The oldest of the Weasley brothers, who lives in a cottage by the sea. He marries Fleur Delacour.
The third-oldest Weasley brother, a prig who works for the Ministry of Magic and takes a long time to perceive its corruption and evil. In Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, Percy cut off ties with the rest of his family because he sided with the Ministry against Dumbledore and Harry, and he remains estranged from them at the beginning of this book.
Ron’s younger sister, and formerly Harry’s girlfriend. Ginny is a member of Dumbledore’s Army and has proven herself a tough and resilient ally even before getting together with Harry. Harry broke up with Ginny when he realized that no one would be safe with him as long as Voldemort is alive.
A young Auror and member of the Order of the Phoenix. She hates her first name and insists on being called simply Tonks. She marries Remus Lupin and has a son by him.
Nymphadora Tonks’s father. He is a Mudblood, and so becomes a target of the Ministry under Voldemort.
The Minister of Magic who replaces Cornelius Fudge. Like his predecessor, Scrimgeour is too obtuse or too cowardly to oppose Voldemort outright, and he does not trust Dumbledore or Harry. He is killed when Voldemort takes over the Ministry and installs his own puppet.
Harry’s fellow student and fellow Gryffindor. Dean is on the run from the Ministry for much of the novel, unable to prove that his parents were wizards. He crosses paths with Harry several times.
A goblin who worked at Gringotts bank. Griphook is resentful of wizards in general, but sees Voldemort’s regime as particularly bad for goblin freedom and autonomy.
A beautiful young woman recently graduated from Beauxbatons Academy of Magic (located presumably in France). Fleur is loyal to Harry, who once saved her younger sister. She marries Bill Weasley.
Ron’s obnoxious and outspoken aunt, who knows all the old rumors about Dumbledore’s past.
A member of the Order of the Phoenix and Dumbledore’s oldest friend. He writes Dumbledore’s obituary for the Daily Prophet.
The notoriously aggressive and deceitful tabloid journalist who tormented Harry and his friends two years earlier during the Triwizard Tournament. Skeeter has recently published a tell-all biography of Dumbledore.
A senile old woman who knew Dumbledore’s mother, Kendra, and who started many of the rumors about Dumbledore’s family. She is Rita Skeeter’s source for much of the biography.
A famous English wand maker, who made both Voldemort’s and Harry’s wands.
A famous European wand maker, and Ollivander’s only serious competition.
A powerful Dark wizard, second only to Lord Voldemort in his destructiveness. Dumbledore defeated Grindelwald in a famous duel in 1945. Grindelwald is a prisoner in Nurmengard.
Dumbledore’s mother, who died during his final year as a student at Hogwarts. Kendra is rumored to have been a terrifying and controlling woman who shunned contact with other wizards out of shame about her imprisoned husband and Squib daughter.
Dumbledore’s younger sister, who died soon after their mother. Ariana was kept out of sight of the world, and is rumored to have been a Squib—a person born to wizard parents who has no magical abilities.
Dumbledore’s younger brother. Less intellectually accomplished than Dumbledore, he is rumored to have broken Dumbledore’s nose at Ariana’s funeral and been estranged from Dumbledore since.
A deceased former headmaster of Hogwarts, and one of Sirius’s ancestors. Phineas speaks to various characters from his portraits in Sirius’s house and the headmaster’s office at Hogwarts—which he can move between at will.
Sirius’s younger brother, who was a Death Eater during Voldemort’s previous reign, and who died young.
The bitter and unkempt house-elf at number twelve Grimmauld Place, who betrayed Sirius Black, leading to his death.
The former house-elf of the Malfoys; Harry tricked Lucius into freeing him. He has been for several years a free house-elf, which is very rare. Dobby is very loyal to Harry.
A classmate of Harry’s who belongs to Ravenclaw House. Like other Ravenclaws, Luna is highly intelligent and perceptive, but also rather dreamy and otherworldly. She is a devoted friend of Harry, Ron, and Hermione and a member of Dumbledore’s Army, the outlawed Hogwarts club of Dumbledore loyalists.
Luna’s father, who shares her interest in unusual plants, animals, and objects, but who is priggish and pompous in a way Luna is not. Xenophilius wears an unusual triangular symbol resembling an eye.
A witch accused of being a Mudblood by the Ministry of Magic.
A powerful member of the Ministry of Magic under Voldemort, and a Death Eater.
A low-level functionary at the Ministry of Magic.
Harry’s mother, who died when Harry was one. Lily turns out to have played a significant role in Severus Snape’s life.
The most powerful evil wizard who ever lived, recently restored to his body and full powers after fourteen years. When Harry was one year old, Voldemort murdered Harry’s parents and tried to murder Harry, but his curse rebounded upon him and tore his soul from his body, and made him lose most of his powers. Voldemort comes to control the Ministry of Magic and causes the death of untold numbers of Muggles and wizards. He is obsessed with figuring out why Harry keeps defeating him or slipping out of his grasp, and will stop at nothing to find a way to kill Harry.
One of Voldemort’s most loyal, trusted, and fearsome followers, whom Voldemort freed from Azkaban prison. She is the sister of Narcissa Malfoy and aunt to both Draco Malfoy and Nymphadora Tonks.
One of Voldemort’s followers, and the father of Harry’s classmate, Draco. Lucius was a very wealthy and powerful man during Voldemort’s absence, but now Voldemort routinely abuses and humiliates him for not being loyal enough to find and help Voldemort when he was exiled from his body.
Lucius’s wife, the mother of Draco, and sister of Bellatrix.
Harry’s former classmate and nemesis through much of the series. Draco is a thoroughly nasty and despicable boy, but he has not yet done anything heinous enough (such as killing someone) to make him a confirmed villain.
One of Voldemort’s Death Eaters.
Brother and sister Death Eaters who enforce discipline at Hogwarts, torturing students and teaching them to torture each other.
Formerly (and briefly) the head of Hogwarts, and now a senior member of the Ministry of Magic. Umbridge is thoroughly evil, delighting in punishing others and using rules and regulations to persecute people, though she is apparently not one of Voldemort’s Death Eaters. She is in charge of finding and punishing Mudbloods for the Ministry.
A werewolf who serves Lord Voldemort.
A professor at Hogwarts, and head of Gryffindor House. A stiff-backed, proper schoolmistress, she is loyal to Harry, Dumbledore, and Hogwarts, and possessed of great courage.
A student and member of Slytherin House. She is devoted to Draco Malfoy and hates Harry.
Students at Hogwarts, and Draco Malfoy’s followers. They are brutish, stupid, and cruel.
The ghost of Ravenclaw Tower. In life, she was Helena Ravenclaw, daughter of Rowena Ravenclaw, the founder of Ravenclaw House.