The final Harry Potter novel was published a decade ago today, on July 21, 2007. Ten years later, fans are still mourning the deaths of numerous characters. Of all the Potter novels, the body count in the final volume was staggering. Did Fred, Tonks, and Lupin deserve to die? No. They did not.
Some of its casualties are satisfying — like Mrs. Weasley’s iconic defeat of Bellatrix Lestrange with the words “not my daughter, you bitch!” But others remain sore spots to this day. The sorest are Remus Lupin, Nymphadora Tonks, Fred Weasley, and Ted Tonks.
It might sound odd not to single out Dobby, Hedwig, Colin Creevey, or Mad-Eye Moody among the most senseless deaths. After all, the former three are innocents who were loyal to Harry on his journey. The latter only just got his life back after Barty Crouch Jr. spent an entire school year impersonating him. But, although they impacted Harry, he was able to continue on with his life relatively unscathed. Tonks was sad her mentor Mad-Eye Moody died, but she was able to get on with her (short) life.
These four deaths, on the other hand, are senseless because they irrevocably ruined other people’s lives. J.K. Rowling herself has said that George Weasley was never the same after Fred’s death. He was reportedly never able to cast a Patronus charm again since Fred was part of all his happy memories.
J.K. Rowling also said that she almost killed Arthur Weasley. That would have been better than Fred or Lupin — because the Weasley family has a lot of members to lean on. Molly Weasley would have been devastated, but Arthur was hardly her twin or her only family. From Rowling’s interview with NBC News in 2007:
I swapped [Lupin and Tonks] for Mr. Weasley. But they didn’t then die until Seven … If there’s one character I couldn’t bear to part with, it’s Arthur Weasley. And I think part of the reason for that is there were very few good fathers in the book. In fact, you could make a very good case for Arthur Weasley being the only good father in the whole series.
He was the only good father because Remus Lupin never had the chance to be one! That brings us to Remus Lupin, Nymphadora Tonks, and Ted Tonks. These three deaths ruined Andromeda Tonk’s life as surely as Fred’s ruined George’s.
Andromeda Tonks grew up with Bellatrix Lestrange and Narcissa Malfoy as her sisters. Somehow, she emerged from the Black household as a decent person and ran off with the Muggle-born Ted Tonks. Her reward for this bold act of defying a family steeped in Voldemort’s ideology? She looses her entire family.
Her favorite cousin Sirius dies in Order of the Phoenix, and the rest is taken in one fell swoop in Deathly Hallows, leaving her to raise baby Teddy Lupin alone.
Her daughter Tonks was a badass Auror in the prime of her life who had just had her first kid. Remus Lupin, of course, lived a difficult life. He cycled through poverty and unemployment, faced constant discrimination because of a condition beyond his control — his lycanthropy — and lost all his childhood friends. Through it all, he was kind to Harry and a good friend to Sirius. And as soon as he was able to forge a few scraps of happiness in the form of a family, J.K. Rowling snuffed it out.
His death is emotionally impactful both because he’s beloved by fans and other characters alike. Ted Tonks is far less beloved by fans, considering the fact that he barely has any presence on the page. But that’s precisely why his death is so senseless.
A minor character who barely appears in the story did not need to die. But because he did, Andromeda Tonks was left all alone, having lost her husband, daughter, and son-in-law. Talk about bitter, undeserved fate.
On the 10th anniversary of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, raise a glass of firewhiskey to heroes like Harry, Ron, Hermione, Neville, and Luna — but raise it to George and Andromeda, too, the ones J.K. Rowling screwed over.