J.K. Rowling killed off a lot of characters in “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hollows” — the last book in the core “Harry Potter” franchise. She’s been slowly apologizing for them since its publication in 2007, but Tuesday morning, she offered another, more polarizing one.
In her tradition of apologizing for one of her many fictional murders, on May 2 — the anniversary of the Battle of Hogwarts — she offered one for killing off Professor Severus Snape. She did so with trepidation.
OK, here it is. Please don't start flame wars over it, but this year I'd like to apologise for killing (whispers)… Snape. *runs for cover*
— J.K. Rowling (@jk_rowling) May 2, 2017
The character of Severus Snape is one of the most divisive in the “Harry Potter” fandom. The professor, who started off as a nemesis for the title character, soon took on a more complicated role in the series. He begins on the side of good, protecting Potter, but after killing Albus Dumbledore in the sixth book, he switches over to the villain Voldemort’s side. In the end though, it turned out he was playing the role of the double agent and died a hero, with Potter honoring him even into adulthood.
On one hand, many Potterheads — including Rowling herself — believe that Snape was that hero. However, she’s also admitted that he had done some horrible things to both Potter and the rest of Dumbledore’s Army.
Snape is all grey. You can't make him a saint: he was vindictive & bullying. You can't make him a devil: he died to save the wizarding world
— J.K. Rowling (@jk_rowling) November 27, 2015
Many disagreed with Rowling’s ending for the character. And arguments over his hero status have divided the fan community. Snape had an obsession with Harry’s mother Lilly well after her death, which led to him acting bitterly toward the famed bespectacled protagonist. Snape also emotionally abused other students, was a generally terrible teacher, and was mostly out for himself when it came to deciding which side to fight on.
Reactions to the apology ranged from acceptance and forgiveness to anger, something that Rowling is used to.
Some agreed that Rowling’s decision to kill Snape made sense for the story and that the death was justified.
— Nick (@NickEllis) May 2, 2017
Others forgave her but questioned some of her other decisions.
“What about DOBBY???? WAS THAT REALLY NECESSARY????” exclaimed one user.
@jk_rowling yeah but why'd you kill all the hufflepuffs though? Justice for hufflepuffs
— Calum McSwiggan (@CalumMcSwiggan) May 2, 2017
Others brought up the fact that he shouldn’t have been honored at the end of Book 7 because of his abhorrent behavior.
“He had no regrets going to the dark side until Lily was involved. Snape is not a good person,” said one fan.
Others were more blunt about what his fate should’ve been.
@jk_rowling I'm pretty sure the child abuser deserved it
— Paul Verhoeven (@paulverhoeven) May 2, 2017
— Joanne Harris (@Joannechocolat) May 2, 2017
The “Harry Potter” fandom will never agree on the appropriateness of Snape and his death. Rowling created him to be morally ambiguous and complicated, which is intriguing for a young adult book series, but it’s possible she may have gone too far into creep territory by having his main motivations be Harry’s dead mom.
Snape was portrayed in the films by Alan Rickman, who died in Jan. 2016 of cancer.