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Why Wasn’t Harry Potter in Slytherin? 5 Reasons Explained

Why Wasn’t Harry Potter in Slytherin? 5 Reasons Explained

Potter fans love to search for all the information available from the series and analyze it to its full extent. As we all know, most of Harry Potter’s adventures happen during his time at Hogwarts, where each student gets sorted into four Houses on their first arrival to the castle. 

From the first book, we get a good glimpse into each House’s reputation based on what each founder valued the most and how this dynamic played a big role in the daily routine inside the school. 

Even if the series came to an end in 2011, some fans are still wondering about ‘what ifs’ that could’ve changed everything– for instance, what if Harry Potter would’ve been sorted into Slytherin?

Why Wasn’t Harry Potter in Slytherin?

Harry Potter wasn’t in Slytherin because he rejected the idea of going into that house altogether. Even with the little exposure he had before the ceremony, Harry already had a negative impression of the house, especially since he had already met and disliked Draco Malfoy.

He also found out that Voldemort was a prominent Slytherin, meaning that he rejected the idea altogether. Besides, all of his newfound friends (Hagrid and Ron) also had a negative prejudice toward Slytherin.

Why Harry Got Sorted into Gryffindor

Gryffindor House Personality Traits Good and Bad
Craig Russell /

There’s an entire scene dedicated to the moment Harry had the Sorting Hat debating whether he should belong in Slytherin. 

“Hmm,” said a small voice in his ear. “Difficult. Very difficult. Plenty of courage, I see. Not a bad mind either. There’s talent, oh my goodness, yes — and a nice thirst to prove yourself, now that’s interesting. … So where shall I put you?”

Harry gripped the edges of the stool and thought, Not Slytherin, not Slytherin.

“Not Slytherin, eh?” said the small voice. “Are you sure? You could be great, you know, it’s all here in your head, and Slytherin will help you on the way to greatness, no doubt about that — no? Well, if you’re sure — better be GRYFFINDOR!”

— Harry Potter and The Philosopher’s Stone

However, there’s an interesting distinction to make here.

He begged the Sorting Hat to not be placed in Slytherin, rather than asking to go to Gryffindor. He had already heard terrible things from Hagrid and Ron, especially during his first train ride to Hogwarts where he founds out that Voldemort was a notorious Slytherin:

“What house are your brothers in?” asked Harry.

“Gryffindor,” said Ron. Gloom seemed to be settling on him again. “Mom and Dad were in it, too. I don’t know what they’ll say if I’m not. I don’t suppose Ravenclaw would be too bad, but imagine if they put me in Slytherin.”

“That’s the house Vol-, I mean, You-Know-Who was in?”

“Yeah,” said Ron. He flopped back into his seat, looking depressed.

— Harry Potter and The Philosopher’s Stone

As we’ve seen with Hermione Granger, several characters in the series have gone through the Sorting Hat and showed potential to belong in two Houses.

In Harry’s case, it made more sense to choose Gryffindor. After all, Rowling always circles back to an idea Dumbledore eloquently says to Harry:

It is our choices, Harry, that show what we truly are, far more than our abilities.

— Harry Potter and The Chamber of Secrets

5 Reasons Why Harry Potter Wasn’t in Slytherin

Ultimately, Harry got sorted into Gryffindor alongside Ron Weasley and Hermione Granger, creating an unbreakable bond between the three.

One of the most quoted scenes to prove Harry could not have been placed in Slytherin happens during the Chamber of Secrets when facing Tom Riddle and the basilisk.

He’s able to withdraw Gryffindor’s sword from the Sorting Hat, ultimately killing the basilisk and Voldemort’s soul encapsulated in the diary.

According to Dumbledore, only a true Gryffindor was worthy of summoning the sword in a dire situation. Besides, his dad’s families’ side connected him to Godric Gryffindor himself!

Knowing this, there are also 5 reasons why Harry’s place wasn’t in the snake house:

1. Harry takes unnecessary risks

Harry Potter and The Chamber of Secrets

Gryffindors are known for constantly wanting to prove themselves in front of their peers. From trying to hunt Sirius Black by himself, entering the Chambers of Secrets to save Ginny, using the flying car with Ron to arrive at Hogwarts and many other crazy feats, he didn’t hesitate twice in risking his life if he thought it was necessary.

The fact that he played Quidditch is another sign of his risky behaviour– flying on a broom isn’t exactly a safe activity!

While Slytherins are not known for their cautious attitudes, they tend to think twice about getting involved in a complex scenario. That’s why so many Slytherin students chose not to fight at the Battle of Hogwarts and instead some returned with Professor Slughorn with reinforcements.

2. He acts chivalrous

Voldemort and Harry Potter Deathly Hallows

Throughout the series, Harry shows natural kindness and acceptance of the people surrounding him. Harry’s role as The Chosen One weighed heavily on his shoulders, meaning that he felt responsible to protect his people from harm. 

He’s willing to sacrifice himself and volunteers to go to Voldemort to spare his friends’ lives in The Deathly Hallows, and his determination to save the people he cared about the most could easily border stubbornness.

Slytherins are all about self-preservation and thriving on their own. While we can argue Harry does everything in his power to keep himself alive, his selflessness is what ended up making the difference.

3. He shows constant bravery

Dumbledore's Army Harry Potter

When creating Dumbledore’s Army in The Order of the Phoenix, he didn’t hesitate in becoming the leader of the group to train people to defend themselves and fight for their lives to face Voldemort’s rising.

Slytherin students tend to avoid making harsh decisions that alienate them from the rest, while Gryffindors will always try to make the right choice in difficult circumstances. 

4. Harry chooses to be kind

Harry Potter and Neville Longbottom

For many years he suffered the abuse of his uncles and cousin, but despite this, he tried to be kind and accept people as they were.

His friendship with Neville Longbottom and Luna Lovegood is a good example of this, befriending people who are depicted as outcasts. He knew firsthand how it was to be an outcast, and Harry didn’t want to perpetuate that feeling to others.

He also spared Peter Pettigrew’s life in Prisoner of Azkaban even though that meant Voldemort gained a new follower.

5. Slytherin had a bad reputation

Draco Malfoy's Gang

We know that Salazar Slytherin vastly prioritized pure-blood students and most of the current students in that House come from wizard families.

During the books, we could see that this bias turned into a self-fulfilled prophecy. Voldemort only cares about blood purity, Draco Malfoy is openly hostile against muggle-born wizards, so they became sort of an “elite house”, and there are no muggle-born Slytherins that we’re aware of.

Harry couldn’t have been a Slytherin because the entire blood purity system was against everything he stood for. It doesn’t help that Voldemort himself was a Slytherin. Obviously, Harry openly rejected anything related to him, including his House.

See more: Harry Potter Zodiac Sign Meanings & Birth Chart