In the years since the Harry Potter series ended, there’s been a lot of retroactive theories, like why Fred and George never used the Marauder’s Map to solve everyone’s problems. But the newest retrospective is one a redditor suggested this week: The most powerful villain was not Voldemort or even Bellatrix Lestrange. It’s Barty Crouch Jr.
And it’s not even because of that weird tongue thing David Tennant does in the movie. The reasoning behind this is surprisingly ironclad. Unlike Voldemort or Bellatrix — who operated out in the open or had Dumbledore guess their secrets — Barty Crouch Jr. got away with his crimes right beneath Dumbledore’s nose.
In Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, Crouch spent nearly an entire school year impersonating a famous auror accurately. When Mad-Eye Moody appeared in later books, his personality was virtually indistinguishable from Crouch’s when he was pretending to be Moody. Those are some powerful acting skills from Crouch.
Before Harry’s fourth year, Crouch overpowered the notoriously paranoid Mad-Eye Moody in order to steal his identity in the first place, which is no easy feat. And at the time, he was a sheltered boy who was under house arrest.
During the school year, he hexed the Goblet of Fire — an extremely powerful magical object — in order for it to hold Harry’s name, which enabled Voldemort’s return.
Crouch therefore displayed both an aptitude for magic and a skill with secrecy that nobody else pulled off. His skill even overshadowed Voldemort’s, since Dumbledore was on to his Horcrux plan.
Most damning of all, when he posed as Mad-Eye Moody, Barty Crouch Jr. was a legitimately good teacher! Sure, he was a little unorthodox in his methods, but what teacher hasn’t cursed their own students?
Crouch ended up with the Dementor’s Kiss at the end of Goblet of Fire, but his downfall only came because Voldemort screwed up the plan and didn’t kill Harry in the Little Hangleton graveyard. Crouch and Voldemort were taken down by the same thing: the failure to understand wandlore. Only, Crouch was better at being sneaky along the way.
Crouch didn’t know Harry’s wand would connect with Voldemort’s in the graveyard, giving him time to escape back to Hogwarts. And in Deathly Hallows, Voldemort didn’t know the Elder Wand wasn’t truly his.
The wizarding world history books remember Voldemort as the darkest wizard, but maybe that’s all due to Crouch’s unparalleled powers of flying under the radar.