Image: Warner Bros.

Since 2015, J.K. Rowling has made it an annual tradition to apologize on the anniversary of the fictional Battle of Hogwarts for killing off a Harry Potter character. This year’s selection was not met with the usual mourning.

In 2015, she apologized for Fred Weasley. In 2016, it was Remus Lupin. Both are mostly beloved characters, and her apology turned into more of a general mourning for them.

Advertisement

This year, Rowling decided to just lob a bomb in the direction of Harry Potter fandom and watch it go off.

See? She knows she’s stirring shit up and she does it anyway.

For the uninitiated, Severus Snape is the third rail of Harry Potter fandom. One side has the completely valid argument that Snape was, despite happening to be on the same side as the heroes, horribly abusive to his students and, whatever Rowling’s intent, less “in love with” Lily Evans than a stalker with “nice guy” syndrome. The other side says that his very obvious flaws make him an interesting and nuanced character, and that, regardless of everything else, he died a hero. Plus, being played by Alan Rickman in the movies made Snape a lot more approachable than he is on the page.

On this issue, I am Switzerland. I have opinions on pretty much everything in the Potterverse except this one. Mainly because I agree that Snape’s behavior towards, say, Neville is unacceptable. As written, Snape is awful. But I have also read some very compelling headcanons and fanfic that have made Snape worth having as a character.

Advertisement

Anyway, despite Rowling asking for things to not devolve into a flame war, the responses have been... pretty much as expected. There are the people who think there are plenty of other characters she should have apologized for killing instead:

People who think she didn’t need to apologize here:

And of course approximately a billion more tweets debating Snape’s relative morality:

The responses go on for a long time, and basically everyone agrees that they do not agree. They don’t agree about Snape as a character, about whether Rowling should have apologized for killing him or someone else, or even if he needed to die. In the end, the response that best sums this all up is:

Happy Battle of Hogwarts Day.