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Severus Snape

https://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/severus_snape.jpg
"Always."

Portrayed by: Alan Rickman (films, adult), Alec Hopkins (teen), Benedict Clarke (child), Paul Bentall (Harry Potter and the Cursed Child, first West End run), TBD (Cursed Child, first Broadway run)

Voiced by: Claude Giraud (French), Carlos Segundo (Latin American Spanish, Philosopher's Stone, Order of the Phoenix and Halfblood Prince), Rolando de Castro (Latin American Spanish, Chamber of Secrets and Goblet of Fire), César Monroy (Latin American Spanish, Prisoner of Azkaban), Jorge Badillo (Latin American Spanish, Deathly Hallows Part I), Sebastián Llapur (Latin American Spanish, Deathly Hallows Part II), Juan Fernández (European Spanish, Philosopher's Stone-Deathly Hallows Part Inote ), Juan Carlos Gustems (European Spanish, Deathly Hallows Parts I-IInote ; Catalonian, All films), Allan Lima (Brazilian Portuguese, Philosopher's Stone-Prisoner of Azkaban), Roberto Macedo (Brazilian Portuguese, Goblet of Fire-Half-Blood Prince), Jorge Vasconcelos (Brazilian Portuguese, "Deathly Hallows Part 1 and Part 2'')

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Appears in: Philosopher’s Stone | Chamber of Secrets | Prisoner of Azkaban | Goblet of Fire | Order of the Phoenix | Half-Blood Prince | Deathly Hallows | Cursed Child | Hogwarts Mystery

"I can teach you how to bottle fame, brew glory, even stopper death, if you aren't as big a bunch of dunderheads as I usually have to teach."

A former classmate of Harry's dead parents, Snape is now a professor at Hogwarts and the head of Slytherin house. While he's liked by his Slytherin students, and respected by his Hogwarts colleagues, Severus Snape is personally unpopular with the rest of the student body. Right from Book 1 and his first appearance, the Potions Master of Hogwarts develops an irrational grudge on Harry Potter and other Gryffindor students for reasons that Harry and his friends do not understand at the time, and this leads to much distrust, dislike, and antagonism from both sides with Harry and his friends often finding themselves doubting his true loyalties, motives, and alignment. Snape is Hogwarts' resident Sadist Teacher, unhappily teaching Potions instead of his ideal position, Defense Against the Dark Arts.

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Snape's motives and true allegiance remain mysterious and murky until near the very end of the final book. As Dumbledore tells Harry, the reasons why he trusts Professor Snape is a matter between the two of them.


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  • Abusive Parents: He's implied to have had an abusive father and a neglectful mother.
  • Adaptational Attractiveness: The books are very frank that Snape isn't exactly winning any beauty contests anytime soon (his appearance as shown in the illustrations of the books is somewhat different, with him being slightly bald and having facial hair), and the narration compares him (unfavourably) to things like spiders or gargoyles. In the movies, he's played by Alan Rickman, who — even with the unflattering hairstyle and wardrobe — is still Alan Rickman.
  • Adaptational Nice Guy: He is much less of a Jerkass in the films, which play down his dubious teaching methods in Potions and hardly show a single class session with him in detail aside from the introductory scene in the first film. His Kick the Dog moments towards Neville, Harry, and Hermione are also toned down.
    • His rant at Harry and Ron in the second film, after they crash into the Whomping Willow, comes across as Anger Born of Worry, whereas in the book he was gloating about their possible expulsion.
    • Snape in the third film tells Dumbledore that Harry needs to know the truth about Sirius Black. Snape in the book was perfectly fine with keeping Harry in the dark. And if anything, he always criticizes Dumbledore for telling Harry anything because he doesn't think he's capable, competent or anyone special, and he outright resents Dumbledore for giving Harry private lessons and telling him stuff that he doesn't tell Snape.
    • In the third film, when Snape realizes there's an angry werewolf standing behind him, the first thing he does is to push Harry, Ron and Hermione, three students he loathes, behind himself to protect them. In the third book, he was knocked out for the entire events. Likewise, the entire sequence earlier in the book where Snape sadistically tries to test Neville's dodgy potion on the boy's pet toad is removed.
    • In the fourth film, he believes Harry when he tells the staff he didn't put his name in the Goblet of Fire and agrees with McGonagall's belief that there must be a plot to get the boy killed. In the book, he assumes Harry is lying to avoid being punished and entered his name himself to be a Glory Hound.
    • The final film adds a scene of Snape holding Lily's dead body in his arms while baby Harry looks on, making Snape appear more sympathetic, while at the same time, leaves out Snape calling Lily a "mudblood" in a moment of humiliation and fury, and then descending into his obsession with Dark Arts and signing up with Voldemort. In the final film, Snape immediately asks Dumbledore to protect the entire Potter family. In the final book, Snape does ask Dumbledore to protect the entire Potter family, but after Dumbledore is angry with Snape when he gets him to admit that he tried bargaining for just Lily's life in exchange for her son and husband. In the final scene between Snape and Harry, Snape explicitly states that Harry has his mother's eyes whereas in the novel, Snape's final words to Harry are, "Look at me," with only the implication he wants to see Lily's eyes before he dies.
  • Adaptational Personality Change: In addition to the above, his entire behaviour is also vastly different in the films, where he is basically The Stoic, combined with a little Cold Ham. In the books, Snape is very quick to lose his temper and is downright gleefull when things are going his way.
  • Age Lift: One of the most striking examples in a film series full of them. In The Sorcerer's Stone, Snape would have turned 32 just after Christmas. Alan Rickman was already 55 in the film version.
  • Alas, Poor Villain: Very much. Just try reading, let alone watching Snape's death scene without the tissues. Subverted though, as at that point, he did seem like a genuine villain, not a Double Agent under deep cover.
  • All of the Other Reindeer: Snape was a misfit in school, which is partially what made the Death Eaters so appealing as a young adult.
  • Alliterative Name: Severus Snape.
  • Ambiguous Disorder: Severus is a genius when it comes to magic; he exhibits a narrow, intense interest in magical studies and, as a preteen during his first year at Hogwarts, knew more about dark magic than most seventh-years did. But on the flip side, he's twitchy, reclusive, lacking in social graces, and generally creepy and off-putting.
  • Ambiguously Evil: He's a deeply unpleasant fellow with an extremely transparent bias in favour of his own house, Slytherin, and has an intense hatred of The Hero. This results in Harry and friends swiftly jumping to the conclusion that Snape is one of the bad guys, especially in books one, two, six, and seven. Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire is the only book in the series that doesn't seem to go out of its way to vilify Snape in some fashion, at least in Harry's eyes. It doesn't help that the events of the books have a knack for making you think that Harry's suspicions might be well-founded, at least until The Reveal at the very end. This comes to a head in the last book, in which Snape has pulled an apparent full-blown Face–Heel Turn by returning to the service of the Death Eaters. However, near the end of the final book, as he lies dying, Snape gives Harry his memories, revealing that he had been loyal to Dumbledore the whole time.
    J.K. Rowling: 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.
  • Ambition Is Evil: Suffered from a big dose of this as a teenager, since he craved acceptance and respect and wished to show everyone that he was a clever and dangerous wizard, even if it meant being a Death Eater. He was deluded enough to believe that being a Death Eater would win his crush's affections.
  • Animal Motifs: He's occasionally compared to a bat in particularly dramatic moments, with his black hair, brooding personality, flowing dark cloak, love of dark spaces, and his habit of hanging out in Hogwarts' cave-like dungeons. Which makes it all the more surprising when we learn that his Patronus is actually a doe.
  • Anti-Hero: Of the Nominal Hero variety. He's got a load of issues and problems, and is a colossal jerk, but he is ultimately good and few characters are more loyal to Dumbledore.
    J.K. Rowling: [in a 2007 interview on if she thinks Snape is heroic] Yes, I do; though a very flawed hero. An anti-hero, perhaps. He is not a particularly likeable man in many ways. He remains rather cruel, a bully, riddled with bitterness and insecurity and yet he loved, and showed loyalty to that love and, ultimately, laid down his life because of it. That's pretty heroic!
  • Anti-Role Model: A variation of sorts, but according to Word of God, this is one of the reasons Dumbledore keeps Severus Snape around. He is well aware of Snape's behavior with the students, Dumbledore also sees it as a learning experience for his students. Namely to teach them to not always trust authority figures and that the people above you will not always be reasonable nor fair.
  • Apathetic Teacher: Mixed with Brilliant, but Lazy. Merely following Snape's one-decade-outdated school notes allows Harry to come off as a genius potion-brewer. One can only imagine what results he could get from his students if he actually cared enough to teach them properly. Indeed the only time Harry does well in his Potions class is in the fallout after he sees "Snape's Worst Memory" where he ignores Harry during class allowing him to focus on his assignment and creating a good sample... which Snape "accidentally" breaks...
    • During the OWLs, the fact that Snape isn't overseeing them actually inspires Neville and Harry to do well.
  • Armor-Piercing Question: When Bellatrix angrily confronts Snape about her distrust of his loyalty to Voldemort, he asks if she thinks he has fooled Voldemort himself, an accomplished Legilimens with a masterful talent for breaking into peoples' minds. For the first time in the meeting Bellatrix doesn't have a response even though this turns out to be true.
  • The Atoner: He spends the rest of his life atoning for giving Voldemort the information that leads to Lily getting killed.
  • Bad Powers, Good People: Snape is one of the most advanced practitioners of curses and dark magic in the series, being perhaps second only to Voldemort himself. While he's far from a saint his true loyalty is to Dumbledore. This winds up coming in handy when Snape is able to give Dumbledore an extra year after the latter contracts an otherwise fatal curse placed by Voldemort himself.
  • Badass Baritone: Go ahead, just try to read anything Snape says in the books without hearing Alan Rickman's voice. Even J.K. Rowling has admitted she can't do it.
  • Badass Bookworm:
    • Well-versed in all of the magical subjects and one of the most formidable wizards in the series who can occasionally display magical ability close to Voldemort and Dumbledore's level. We only see Snape fight twice: the first time is against Harry one-on-one in Half-Blood Prince and he wins in a Curb-Stomp Battle and the second time, in Deathly Hallows, Snape fights the more experienced McGonagall to a standstill until a master duellist forces him to flee under the two-on-one duel. And he still manages to hold his own for a while.
    • There's also his dueling demonstration, in which Snape nonchalantly blasts Lockhart clear across the room using Expelliarmus with no apparent effort. Though given Lockhart's status as a Fake Ultimate Hero, how impressive this is remains debatable.
  • Badass Teacher: Deconstructed. There's no denying Snape's proficiency at what he teaches. However it's demonstrated his proficiency in Potions does not translate into a proficiency in teaching Potions. Outside of the students he favours, mind you, most of his students are reduced to nervous wrecks due to his brusque attitude, callous cruelty and occasional sadistic methods. Best exemplified when he tried to force Neville to feed his beloved pet toad a faulty potion, under the pretext of forcing Neville to fix said faulty potion, only to be furious when Hermione helps Neville anyway.
  • Because You Were Nice to Me: Lily Evans Potter was his best and only childhood friend. This seems to be the reason he eventually fell madly in love with her and turned Double Agent to protect her from Voldemort.
  • Being Personal Isn't Professional: Snape averts this trope to no end:
    • As a teacher and member of the Order, he's curt, cordial, and more or less projects an indifference to his colleagues and co-workers. However, if he personally dislikes his colleagues, his students and others, he will not only make it known to them, but go out of his way to make their lives a living hell, and not even hide his personal grudges, as in the case of Harry, Neville, Lockhart and Remus Lupin.
    • As a member of the Order and a person in Dumbledore's employ, Snape grumbles but does carry out Dumbledore's orders. When Dumbledore asked him to brew Wolfsbane potions for Remus, he did it well, and when Dumbledore asked him to protect Harry, despite disliking him for what he represents, he carries that out loyally to the very end. But fundamentally there isn't a divide between Snape's private and public self. In public or in private, Snape thinks Harry is a layabout who coasts off the sacrifices better wizards, and he had that opinion since Harry was eleven years old, and never once changed it despite countless promptings from Dumbledore. Or to put it more plainly, Snape saw Harry as no better than James Potter from day one, and never changed that opinion until his own death.
  • Belated Backstory: His backstory is only partly given in Order of the Phoenix enough to show what his worst memory was and then fully given in Deathly Hallows.
  • Berserk Button:
    • Though he doesn’t visibly burst after Harry sees his "worst memory," Snape disobeys Dumbledore’s explicit orders to teach Harry Occlumency even when Snape is aware of what's at stake. He eventually reaches such levels of spite for Harry that Snape decides to completely ignore his presence. Harry actually appreciates that last bit. In the books he's much more visibly furious and attacks Harry before throwing him out of his office.
    • Most famously, Harry calling him a coward at the end of Half-Blood Prince along with everything that was happening to him at the time briefly sends him over the edge, and he shifts from effortlessly defending Harry’s attacks to actually striking him in the face with the unincantated Sectumsempra before Buckbeak intervenes and Snape resumes his escape. The 7th book shows that he does have a reason to get angry though.
      "DON'T CALL ME COWARD!"
    • Using his own spells against him. When James Potter uses Levicorpus in his "worst memory", Snape's anger leads directly into him calling Lily a "mudblood". When Harry tries to use Sectumsempra in Half Blood Prince, his sneering demeanor vanishes.
    Snape flicked his wand and the curse was repelled yet again; but Harry was mere feet away now and he could see Snape’s face clearly at last: He was no longer sneering or jeering; the blazing flames showed a face full of rage.
  • Black Cloak: It's a prominent part of his outfit.
  • Brainy Brunette: Snape has "greasy, black hair" and also highly intelligent, showing knowledge in numerous magical subjects.
  • Broken Ace: In terms of fighting ability, Snape would fall somewhere between Voldemort/Dumbledore and everyone else. But well above Gilderoy Lockhart. Outside of duels, he created a slew of potions techniques that made Harry the top of Slughorn's class, several jinxes and hexes, and an extremely powerful curse. Even more telling, he also creates a cure years later. Problem is, he also was so incredibly bitter over his (admittedly bad) experiences in school that he was willing to sell out his first and only love's husband and child in exchange to have her spared from death, and it bit him in the ass later as she dies anyway, and his Heel–Face Turn comes from having to assume responsibility for that huge screw-up.
  • Broken Pedestal: Not towards everyone, but for his former friend, Lily Evans. If only he hadn't joined the pureblood supremacists in the first place, thereby resulting in him calling her a "mudblood"...
    "But you call everyone of my birth Mudblood, Severus. Why should I be any different?"
    • Later in life he becomes this to Draco Malfoy. For most of the series Snape is Malfoy's favourite teacher, and Snape in turn regularly gives Malfoy preferential treatment. After Draco's father's imprisonment in Azkaban following the Battle of the Department of Mysteries Malfoy starts resenting and distrusting Snape, suspecting that he's trying to usurp his father's place in the Death Eater ranks. Which he was, albeit on Dumbledore's orders.
  • The Bully:
    • As a teacher he's never short of insults and condescending remarks and outright humiliation of students like Neville Longbottom, Harry Potter, Ron Weasley and even a good student like Hermione solely because "she's an insufferable know-it-all". The author even considers his bullying his worst trait.
    • Even fellow teachers aren't immune as shown by his treatment towards Quirrell and Lockhart. In those instances, however, both Quirrell and Lockhart did deserve it, as one was a loyal minion of Voldemort himself and the other was a fraud who was perfectly willing to hurt children to save his own reputation.
    • There is some fandom debate over this, but it's generally accepted that Snape "outed" Lupin and got him fired mostly out of spite. A lot of fans see this as the equivalent of discriminating against and ruining a disabled or disadvantaged coworker, especially since Lupin's lycanthropy, according to Word of God, is a stand-in for HIV. Like the previous example, however, Snape's actions are somewhat justified by Lupin having put students at risk by failing to take his Wolfsbane potion, yet it's doubtful that Snape had pure motives.
    • He is said to have been a member of a Gang of Bullies as a student, despite many viewing him as a victim of bullying. However, it doesn't seem that Snape himself bullied other students nor acknowledged how vicious his friends were. Snape didn't see Mulciber and his gang as being any different from James and his friends. In fact, he would actually see them as having just a fair bit of fun. Likely since it fit his tastes.
  • Bunny-Ears Lawyer: After Dumbledore the greatest example Hogwarts, and the series in general, has to offer. Snape is wildly condescending, openly disparaging of students he doesn't like, displays undisguised favouritism for Slytherin students and makes no secret that he utterly loathes Harry Potter... but he's also one of, if not the, greatest Potions master in the world and is a damn good teacher when he wants to be. Dumbledore trusted Snape with his life and, more tellingly, with his death. If it wasn't from his harassment and high standard, Harry would actually be an above average student according to the OWL.
  • Byronic Hero: Snape is shrouded in mystery for most of the series. His undying, passionate love for Lily motivated much of Snape's actions, with his guilt over her death driving Snape to protect Harry and help bring about Voldemort's downfall. However, this meant Snape had to play double-agent, actively compromising his own integrity to the point of killing Dumbledore himself, and although at the end Snape is ultimately a virtuous man he is still deeply flawed. He is a bitter, brooding man who had never let go of his childhood trauma over his being abused by his father, the complex hate that he has toward James Potter; his love for Lily does not stop Snape from taking out his hatred of James out against his son, Harry, because he sees in Harry a combination of both James and Lily rather than as a separate person, and his abuse extends to other students as well.
  • Cannot Spit It Out: He was never able to fully communicate to Lily how he felt about her. After he calls Lily a "Mudblood" in a fit of anger, he tries to apologize, but Lily points out that he acts prejudiced towards all Muggleborns, asking flat-out, "Why should I be any different?" Snape is unable to tell the real reason, namely that he loves her, but ultimately he remains silent, and they break off their friendship because he won't give up his Death Eater beliefs for her, and eventually Lily would die without ever knowing how Snape felt. Thus, Snape had nothing to stop him from joining the Death Eaters as he planned, which itself leads to Voldemort learning of the prophecy and trying to kill Harry as a child.
  • Captain Ersatz: Being a potions teacher who bullies the protagonist, he's basically a Spear Counterpart to Miss Hardbroom from The Worst Witch.
  • Celibate Hero: Throughout the series, we don't see or hear of Snape showing anyone romantic/sexual attraction. After the death of his love, Lily Potter, he didn't want to be with anyone else.
  • Character Development:
    • In the chapter "The Prince's Tale" in Deathly Hallows. Notably, young Snape is callous and uncaring enough that he does not care what happens to James and Harry as long as Lily lives. After years under Dumbledore, he genuinely regrets not being able to save the innocents caught up in the war ("Lately, only those whom I could not save") and goes out of his way to save Lupin during the Battle of the Seven Potters, risking his cover as he did so. Also, as much as Snape has despised Harry over the years, he is furious when Dumbledore seems to have been exploiting the boy, accusing him of having raised Harry "like a pig for slaughter." Of course, Dumbledore being a Manipulative Bastard, this is yet another gambit, since it was essential for Harry to believe he would die when he gives himself up to Voldemort.
    • A tiny one: Lily ended her friendship with Snape after he called her a Mudblood and he made it clear that he wouldn't give up his prejudices for her. Years later, Snape tells Phineas, a relatively nicer Jerkass Slytherin, to not call Hermione a Mudblood.
    • In the films, the character development is there, but very subtly done. Rowling has confirmed that shortly after Rickman had been cast as Snape, both of them discussed the character at length, and she revealed Snape's motivations and ultimate loyalties to him. Rickman used this knowledge throughout the series to decide how to play scenes, deliver lines, and most importantly, how to use body language to convey specific emotions. If, after learning the reveal in the final movie, you go back and watch the entire series and pay attention to Rickman's use of body language, you very quickly realize that his words may be saying one thing, but his body language is saying something completely different. The producers struck gold when they cast Rickman for this role.
  • Characterization Marches On: In Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone Snape, while being his typical jerkass self, was not actively hurting Harry and, indeed, was trying to save him from Quirrell's spell during the Quidditch tournament via a counterspell (which, unfortunately, was seen as Snape hurting Harry's ability to catch the Golden Snitch, thus winning the game - even though Harry is still saved, by Hermione burning Snape's coat in mistake and Quirrell getting distracted by the fire). This is a lot more consistent with the film version of him as explained in Adaptational Nice Guy above.
  • Chessmaster Sidekick: Some of Dumbledore's plans boil down to "Disappear for a few chapters and let Snape handle it". Usually it works. Except when Dumbledore decides to ignore the fact Harry and Snape do not get along or rather, that Snape couldn't get over his grudge with James.
  • Childhood Friend Romance: A one-sided example with Lily Evans.
  • Cold Ham: This is the one difference that Rickman's portrayal enforces. In the films, Snape almost always talks in a calm, almost monotone voice, and yet his threats (usually at Harry) are delivered in such a dramatic way. Compare the books, where he tends to utterly lose it when he gets really pissed off.
  • Comforting the Widow: Dumbledore calls Snape out for this, when Snape confesses that he asked Voldemort to spare her. The fact that Snape doesn't respond or challenge it hints that this was indeed his intention.
    "You disgust me. You do not care, then, about the deaths of her husband and child? They can die, as long as you have what you want?"
  • The Comically Serious: Especially in the movies, though that's not to say he doesn't have his moments in the books. On being told by Dumbledore that he (Dumbledore) is going to die and that he has a Thanatos Gambit with Snape playing a starring role, Severus snarks:
    "Do you want me to do it now, or would you like time to compose your epitaph?"
  • The Confidant: Deconstructed. He's the closest thing to this that Voldemort has, with Narcissa Malfoy even lampshading it. Dumbledore specifically engineered events throughout the books so that Snape would be Voldemort's favoured servant over truly loyal ones like Lucius or Bellatrix. When Voldemort's Horcruxes are compromised Snape is the first and only person Voldemort warns albeit without divulging the full details.
  • Consummate Liar: By necessity. He has a Deep Cover to maintain. Indeed he's so good at his cover that Voldemort — who is almost always able to tell when someone is lying to him — never finds out he's a Triple Agent until after he dies and even then Voldemort finds it hard to stomach. He was a perfect spy. In fact, Voldemort killed him for being too good as a covert Death Eater operative.
  • Cool Kid-and-Loser Friendship: Was the loser to the very popular and much adored Lily Evans in their childhood and their time at Hogwarts. Lily mentions to Severus that her friends kept wondering why she put up with hanging around him all their years. Granted, this was mainly because of Severus' own antisocial behavior and his friendship with future Death Eaters. Eventually, this friendship would fracture as Lily sees how Snape is and ironically, Snape's views toward Lily were more than romantic.
    • He also had this relationship with Lucius Malfoy who was older, rich, pure-blooded, and far more charismatic. Despite this, the two seemed to have maintained a degree of friendship even into their adult years.
  • Cool Teacher: Many of the Slytherins seem to regard him as this, though to the other houses he's somewhere between a Stern Teacher and a Sadist Teacher.
  • Creepy Child: Heavily implied to be this, thanks to a combination of his antisocial behavior and his knowledge of the Dark Arts, which, according to Sirius Black, was disturbingly comprehensive when Snape was eleven years old. Other than Lily Evans it seemed that as a student his only friends were Slytherins who would grow up to become future Death Eaters. In the series, he occasionally seems to be the grown-up version of this trope; the rest of the time, he comes off as a semi-normal (if moody, depressed, and extremely emotionally-detached) adult. Harry sees a memory of him as a child killing a fly with his wand.
    • Also of note is the scene where he tells Lily about the dementors. Aunt Petunia, of all people, makes a passing reference to this in Book 5, which on first reading appears to be an allusion to James is actually him.
  • Crying Wolf: Invoked by Dumbledore's painting who warns them about this. He really is trying to help Harry in the seventh book and protect his students as temporary Headmaster of Hogwarts. The problem is that the students don't believe that he's protecting them and are rebelling in as many ways as possible. Dumbledore also tells him that Harry and Hermione won't believe Snape is sneaking them the sword of Gryffindor and has to be unseen while passing it onto them.
  • Curtains Match the Window: Black hair and black eyes.
  • Daddy Issues: If his undying love for Lily Evans provides the most insight into his character and motivations, his bitterness against his abusive father is probably second or third. The fact that there are memories of his father in his Pensieve along with the others indicates that (despite his talent as an Occlumens) he would struggle to suppress them otherwise. Not to mention it may have had an effect on his desire to feel powerful instead of powerless as he did at home.
  • Damned by Faint Praise: Comes from Quirrel of all people. He saws Snape hates Harry and James, but never wanted the boy dead.
  • Dark and Troubled Past: His father was abusive and his mother was neglectful, which is what led him to becoming a troubled young man. The hateship with James just added fuel to the fire. His past as a Death Eater also counts.
  • Dark Is Not Evil: Though he is incredibly petty, petulant, vengeful and abusive towards students Snape has the capacity to be a decent person, but he dresses in black and teaches in a dungeon. He also proves to have enough capacity for love for his true loyalty to be to Dumbledore. More tragically, perhaps he could have been a better person who never gravitated towards the Death Eaters under different circumstances.
  • Darth Vader Clone: He's an inversion of the trope:
    • He appears as constant thorn in The Hero's side throughout the series, speaks with a deep voice, using a cold but very authoritative tone, projects a primarily stoic demeanor, but can get mad at the drop of a hat, known for using signature cutting spell and provides disturbing revelations to The Hero (namely that his father was not quite as great as everyone told him he was), deals out a Curb-Stomp Battle to The Hero, loved The Hero's mother since they were children, but caused her death through his selfish actions, albeit here it's entirely one-sided unrequited love, and having played his part in the Big Bad's downfall, he dies in the arms of The Hero, earning his redemption. Likewise, similar to Vader, in terms of appearance, his Black Cloak and helmet-shaped black hair make his silhouette similar to Vader.
    • Unlike the usual Darth Vader Clone, who's a Fallen Hero manipulated by the Evil Mentor and Big Bad, Snape started out as a Death Eater and would likely have remained one had the Big Bad not targeted the woman he loved, which leads him to turn towards the Big Good and The Mentor who shrewdly manipulates him to the Light Side, by appealing to his feelings, forcing him to fulfill his plan, involving publicly killing The Mentor and manipulating The Hero to perform a Heroic Sacrifice, as part of the mentor's Thanatos Gambit.
    • In the main narrative, he slowly rises Up Through the Ranks of the villain's organization until he becomes The Dragon or so it seems to a Sorcerous Overlord (similar to Vader's rise from being below Grand Moff Tarkin to the Emperor's Number Two) and tries to delay and dissuade the villain's obsession and interest in the hero. Unlike Vader, Snape never gets a chance to directly stand against the Big Bad, and Voldemort kills him not because he's a spy but because that's more or less how Voldemort treats even those he think are most loyal.
  • Deadly Dodging: Used to great effect in the final movie when he duels McGonagall, still under the ruse of being a Death Eater. This doesn't stop him from parrying McGonagall's attacks specifically to take out both the Carrows without anyone noticing before fleeing.
  • Deadpan Snarker: Sometimes borders on The Snark Knight. He's so good at being a deadpan snarker that he does it twice to Umbridge — the first time with words and the second with merely the raising of eyebrows — and she doesn't even realise it.
  • Death Seeker: Snape briefly becomes this after he accidentally gets Lily killed, telling Dumbledore that he wishes to die. Dumbledore angrily snaps him out of it.
  • Debt Detester: James Potter saved Snape's life and it's implied that Snape protects Harry because he detests being in James' debt. Or at least that's the story in the first few books, until it's revealed that he also loved Lily.
  • Despair Event Horizon: Crossed it briefly when Lily died, before Dumbledore pulled him back. He outright says he wants to die.
  • Determinator: Say what you will about how badly he screwed up in his youth, but once Voldemort threatens Lily, Snape vows to protect her child, no matter the cost. There's a reason why in the end, Harry considered him to be the bravest man he ever knew.
    • Subverted as a teenager, even after knowing how she felt about Dark Arts, Snape never abandoned his interest or the approval of his friends or make an effort to change to gain her approval. Unlike James Potter who at least made some effort to change his behavior.
  • Died in Your Arms Tonight: He is conciliatory toward Harry in his final moments, sharing his memories which explain his actions. He also gets to look into the eyes of Lily, one last time.
  • The Dog Bites Back: It's ironic at that. Snape would've remained loyal to Voldemort if he didn't kill Lily. Which is part of his Moral Myopia initially, he finally did become selfless at the end.
  • Don't You Dare Pity Me!: Coming from a poor upbringing, he was driven by an intense ambition to be seen as a powerful and clever wizard. As such, anything that could be percieved as pity was an attack on his pride. He absolutely didn't want anyone to know about his feelings for Lily and he refuses to let anyone other than Dumbledore see his true vulnerable side much to Dumbledore's regret about no one getting to see the best of Snape. During the Snape's Worst Memory, his pride combined with his jealousy at the spectacle of James only stopping his bullying of Snape because he saw it as an excuse to flirt with Lily, leads him to lash out by claiming that he doesn't need help from "filthy little mudbloods" like her.
  • Double Agent: Up until the end of The Half-Blood Prince. Becomes a Reverse Mole in Deathly Hallows.
  • The Dragon: Or so Voldemort thought... A lot of Dumbledore's plotting in books five and six is designed specifically to make sure that Snape eventually becomes this in Voldemort's ranks, over former pets like Lucius Malfoy and Bellatrix Lestrange.
  • Dragon with an Agenda: As it turns out, he has a different goal, in contrast to Voldemort. He's actually on Harry, or rather, Lily's side all along. Indeed, he's appalled when Dumbledore tells Snape that Harry would have to die and that Lily's sacrifice was just additional borrowed time.
  • Dramatic Irony: After all his work to maintain his cover and protect his mind from Voldemort to ensure his true loyalties are never known, Voldemort kills him for an entirely different reason.
  • Dramatically Missing the Point: Dumbledore told him the best way he could honor Lily's memory was by helping protect her son. Snape agrees...and the minute Harry comes to Hogwarts, Snape bullies the kid for the crime of being Lily and James's child. Sure, Snape, Lily would love it if she found out you were taking your frustrations out on her son and Neville, who is an innocent party.
  • Dramatic Pause: Good lord, he makes Jim Kirk sound like Robin Williams.
  • Enemy Mine: Zig-Zagged. Snape never really viewed Dumbledore or Voldemort as his "enemies." He was an up-and-coming Death Eater who was trying to be The Mole for Voldemort by taking the conveniently vacant Defence Against the Dark Arts post at Hogwarts and eavesdropped on Dumbledore and heard part of a prophecy warning him against a future threat against him. Voldemort decides that the best candidate would be the child of Lily Potter, which endangered her, and until that time never seemed to consider jumping ship. Indeed, his initial motivation was doubting that Voldemort would follow through on his side of the bargain.
  • Entitled Bastard: Despite treating Harry and company like absolute shit throughout the books, he expects them to treat him with nothing but respect and courtesy and gets angry whenever they push back at his behavior.
  • Et Tu, Brute?: Subverted when we find out the real reason why he killed Dumbledore.
  • Even Evil Has Standards: While not exactly evil, he has his moments where even he is disgusted. Case in point:
    • Even he is deeply disgusted by Umbridge. And he probably isn't completely lenient towards Slytherins either: after Harry and Ron's stunt with the flying car in the second book, he as good as says that he'd have expelled the two of them if they were in his house. In the movie, he flat-out admits it.
    • He also seems acutely aware that Crabbe and Goyle are not good students, as all the praise he gave was to Malfoy, who was a legitimately good student. Eventually he even puts them in detention for not doing their work!
    • The one thing he, Harry Potter and the rest of Hogwarts agree on in Book 2 is is that Gilderoy Lockhart must go.
    • He's visibly horrified when Professor McGonagall informs him and the rest of the staff that Ginny Weasley has been taken to the Chamber of Secrets.
    • Even Snape thinks it was cruel of Dumbledore to keep Harry alive so that he could "die" at Voldemort's hands, accusing him of using Lily's memory to manipulate Snape to serve his plans.
    • He takes the Unbreakable Vow when Narcissa begs him to help Draco.
    • Dumbledore's portrait intimated that once the coup happened, Snape would have to take over as Headmaster because Voldemort would never let McGonagall run the school, and the Carrows are more sadistic than Umbridge.
  • Evil Former Friend: Towards Lily. It was his Fantastic Racism and his increasingly darker tendencies that drove her away, after which he committed full time to serving with the Death Eaters. Although he loses the evil part later, mostly after her death.
  • Evil Is Petty: While not completely evil, Snape is one of the most petty characters in the books. He openly uses his position to torment and bully his students in a way that hinders their education, and when punishing Harry he forces him to read various school reports about his father's days as a troublemaker. He also never let go of the grudges toward his boyhood enemies. When the climax of the third book keeps him from getting to see Sirius suffer a fate worse than death, Snape "accidentally" outs Lupin as a werewolf out of spite, forcing the latter to resign his position due to Fantastic Racism.
    • Although Harry assumes that the Sword of Gryffindor is lying at the bottom of a frozen pool because it can only be retrieved through "daring, nerve, and chivalry" (seemingly confirmed by Dumbledore later), Word of God states that Snape placed it there primarily due to "spiteful impulse".
  • Eye Twitch: Snape's mouth twitches whenever he sees Harry at the end of Prisoner of Azkaban, which worries Harry quite a bit.

    F-K 
  • Face–Heel Revolving Door: His actions look like this to Harry. And to the reader.
  • Fake Defector: Snape plays this twice. He claims to be one to Voldemort loyalists like Bellatrix Lestrange, pretending to be part of the Order, and later gains this to the Order, when he kills Dumbledore, making them believe he was Evil All Along. He was merely taking part in Dumbledore's most convoluted gambit.
  • Fantastic Racism:
    • As a student, due to peer influence he changed from the kid who didn’t believe blood purity mattered, with Lily being for a time his sole Morality Pet.
    • He's also prejudiced against werewolves, stemming from the incident in youth where he nearly lost his life. Lupin, who is used to even worse racism than what he gets from Snape, doesn't mind too much. Partly because he feels guilty about not stopping James and Sirius from attacking Snape. But mostly because he is grateful that Snape made the Wolfsbane potion for him at Hogwarts. One of the signs that Snape had turned heroic was when he, unbeknownst to nearly everyone, saved Remus' life during the attack of the 7 Potters.
  • Fatal Flaw:
    • PRIDE. Snape's pride has been the single biggest driving factor since childhood. In fact, every single one of his other major flaws such as his belief in pure-blood supremacy back in his youth and his fascination with the Dark Arts can all be tied back to his pride. Ever since he was a kid, Snape wanted to be acknowledged and respected for being a talented and clever wizard, likely the result of his rough childhood and thus was filled with immense ambition. Being a half-wizard, he indulged in the prejudice to spite his abusive father and make himself seem more special (hence why called himself Half-Blood Prince, given his mother's maiden name was Prince).It's implied that this is part of the reason he hated James so much. James was his equal in magic in addition to being talented in Quidditch and social skills so conflict between them was virtually inevitable, especially when combined with Snape's resentment and James' own hate of Snape. James made Snape look foolish and to Snape, that was unforgivable. Snape's ambition to be acknowledged along with the pureblood prejudice he believed in likely gravitated in the Dark Arts. They were difficult and dangerous forbidden magic, something a talented young wizard with something to prove would be all too willing to pursuit, especially once he learned he was good at it. However, this cost him his friendship with Lily, the girl he loved, because she could no longer deny or excuse his negative behavior. To add salt to the wound, James would grow up and end up marrying Lily.
    • Related to the above, Wrath. Snape has carried his grudge against James for years, long after the man was dead. As a result Snape passed this hatred on to everyone around him, especially Harry. Snape relentlessly torments Harry, completely ignoring that the boy is not his father and has traumatic memories like Snape had. He also bullies Neville because if Voldemort had gone after the Longbottoms, maybe Lily would still be alive. Ultimately, thanks to Snape being a Jerkass to them both, neither of them trust Snape when Harry goes on the run after the Horcruxes, and Neville leads a rebellion at the school.
  • Feeling Oppressed by Their Existence:
    • He and James Potter despised one another within their early days together. Snape resented James for being just as talented as him while having a loving home life, good looks and being talented and social with the others. James seems to loathe Snape for embodying every negative aspect of Slytherin and people like it (especially given the rise of Voldemort at the time) while also because Snape was close to Lily despite being... well, Snape. James' fancying Lily was just the icing on top of the cake. It's unknown when exactly it boiled over to full-out hate between them, but given how James and Sirius were pranksters, it's likely that Snape ended up being pranked by them and Snape's pride had him lash out.
    • Snape likewise resents Harry Potter simply because of who his father is, and who he looks like, and what Harry represents (as Rowling notes "living proof that [Lily] preferred another man"), projecting his loathing of James onto Harry. Snape is torn as Harry is both the son of the man he hated and the woman he loved.
  • Flight: He's the only known person that Voldemort taught how to fly without a broom.
  • Foil: James and Snape were both romantic suitors towards Lily. Both believed that their houses (Slytherin/Gryffindor) were superior and were pretty much the total opposite of each other in terms of looks/popularity/upbringing/attitudes towards dark arts. In terms of their relationship with Lily, they both had a tense relationship with her, justifying and rationalizing their actions while putting her on a pedestal. Unlike James, Snape never changed his attitude nor listened to her criticism. Their relationship ended up destroyed, after which he sunk into the Dark Arts while James ended up marrying Lily and joining the Order of the Phoenix.
  • Forgiveness Requires Death: Harry forgives him for his Jerkass tendencies after his death and after seeing Snape's memories which put his actions in context — such as Snape's loyalty to Dumbledore, love for Harry's mother Lily, and efforts to protect him. Harry forgives Snape even knowing that Snape had genuinely disliked him.
    J.K. Rowling: Snape died for Harry out of love for Lily. Harry paid him tribute in forgiveness and gratitude.
  • Freudian Excuse: His bad homelife of an abusive father and neglectful mother created the foundation that Snape would base plenty of his pride and inferiority complex on. Add to that being accepted by the "wrong crowd" and him choosing his wants/ambitions first and foremost.
  • The Friend Nobody Likes: This seems to be his hat in every group he's associated with. Several of the Order of the Phoenix members outside of Sirius and Remus (who have a very personal feud with him going back to their schooldays) dislike him due to his unpleasant personality. Most of the Death Eaters distrust him either out of jealousy or because he plays his part well enough to have them fooled. In a group of Hogwarts teachers, the only one who can stand being around him is Dumbledore. Keeping that in mind, Hagrid is very vocal and stubborn about his trustworthiness, they all implicitly trust him to brew the school's medicine to perfection, and everybody recognizes that his contributions as a double-agent for The Order of the Phoenix are invaluable.
  • Gag Nose: His hooked nose is often mentioned and is one of the things the Marauders made fun of about him. Averted in the films. Christopher Columbus and Alan Rickman discussed the idea of having Rickman wear a prosthetic nose but decided that it would look too silly.
  • Glory Hound: Several Death Eaters accuse him of this. Draco Malfoy notably angrily accuses Snape of wanting to take his father's place as Voldemort's preferred servant. He is, but not because he's out for glory. Snape and Dumbledore worked to ensures that Snape would be powerful enough in Voldemort's inner circle to minimize the damage during Voldemort's second reign. This also had the benefit of reducing the influence of genuinely loyal Death Eaters like Lucius and Bellatrix.
  • Gone Horribly Right: Snape has a tendency to do this. He reveled in Fantastic Racism as a child, which pushed away his only Muggleborn friend, and eventually led to her death. He murders Dumbledore in a Mercy Kill and pretends to side with the Death Eaters to save Draco, all the while convincing everyone in the Wizarding World that he's not to be trusted. Then while pretending to chase after Harry with the Death Eaters, Dumebledore's portrait tells him to put on a good show of being evil. He ends up cutting off George's ear, which means that when he gives the sword of Gryffindor to Harry and Hermione, he has to wait months for an opportunity to deliver it without revealing his identity, and the end result of this delay, Poor Communication Kills is that he doesn't align with Harry in time, gets killed randomly by Voldemort, and only achieves his mission by "sheer dumb luck". Had Snape been less himself, and tried to be trustworthy, he might have lived.
  • Good Is Not Nice: There are few characters in literature who exemplify this trope as well as Snape does. He's admirably brave and selfless when it comes to protecting Lily's legacy. He is also excessively nasty and cruel to almost everyone, including his students (aged 11-18, by the way), whom he bullies endlessly and rarely attempts to actually help them learn.
  • Green-Eyed Monster: Very very much so. This is one of the primary reasons for his loathing of James Potter; while Snape grew up in an abusive home and looked down upon, James had a wonderful family life and was a popular young man who was very talented in wizardy and sports Then when he found out James liked Lily as well...
    • One scene during the Occlumency sessions in Book 5, shows Snape trying to fly a broom and failing, which implies that he tried to be as good at flying at James but failed at it, which explains why he keeps dismissing and looking down at it later.
  • Guile Hero: He's an amazing spy and pulls a deep cover like no one else.
  • Hate Sink:
    • For the early part of the series, he was largely viewed as a cruel, bitter, and absurdly unfair Jerkass by readers. This changed somewhat in Book 5 when Umbridge replaced him as Hogwarts' resident Sadist Teacher, and there's Book 7, when we find out just how much of a anti-hero he was all along despite remaining a cruel, bitter and absurdly unfair teacher.
    • He was never fully redeemed in the public eye following the war, as most people still rightly believed he killed Dumbledore (but didn't know of the plan). He wasn't even given a portrait at Hogwarts, having abandoned his post as opposed to retiring or dying, until Harry requested one.
  • Heartbroken Badass: He always regretted losing Lily's friendship.
  • Heel–Face Turn: Near the end of the first war.
    • The thoroughness of which is displayed by an exchange between him and Dumbledore in his memories that originally took place during the sixth book, showing that he had become unambiguously good during the time he spent as Dumbledore's double agent.
    Dumbledore: Don't be so shocked, Severus. How many men and women have you watched die?
    Snape: Lately, only those whom I could not save.
  • Heel Realization: Snape is interesting for showing how complex this process is.
    • When he first came to Dumbledore, it was because of doubts that Voldemort wouldn't follow through on his side of the bargain of letting Lily live. Dumbledore chewed him out about his brazen selfishness and seeded doubts in his mind. He became a double agent for the Order but Lily's death and Voldemort's downfall robbed him of the things he wanted most. Dumbledore convinces him to live on, to protect Lily's son as a form of atonement and honour her sacrifice.
    • Later on, when Voldemort takes over, Snape finds himself having to help Harry from a distance and without anyone seeing him. As the portrait Dumbledore puts it, if anyone from the Order sees Snape, then he's a dead man for killing Dumbledore and hurting George. Then the Dark Lord poisons him using Nagini, and Harry feebly tries to stop the blood from flowing from Snape's fatal wounds; Snape gives him memories that Harry needs which shows his true allegiances.
  • Heroic Sacrifice: In The Cursed Child, his Bad Future counterpart returns the timeline to its default state despite knowing full well it will kill him.
  • Hero with Bad Publicity: Hero is a stretch, but he fits the profile. He's a former Death Eater and just generally not a very nice person, but he's definitely a good guy, whatever others may think.
  • Hey, You!: "Snivellus", courtesy of the Marauders.
  • Hidden Depths: On the surface a Sadist Teacher and later apparently revealed to be The Mole, turns out to be a Double Agent and The Atoner who is torn over his feelings towards the son of the man he hated and the woman he loved, both of whom he involuntarily got killed (hence the atoning).
    Albus Dumbledore: You know, I sometimes think we sort too soon.
  • Hidden Heart of Gold: Okay, we get it. He's not the kind of guy you'd go out for drinks with and it's pretty easy to get on his bad side. Nevertheless, he does have people's best interests at heart, and given his brains and loyalty, he's exactly the kind of guy you'd need on your side to win the fight.
  • Hoist by His Own Petard:
    • The irony is that if he could have shed his bullying ways, then Harry and Neville would have believed he was a double-agent. When he takes over as headmaster as Hogwarts, Neville becomes the biggest thorn in his side by reviving Dumbledore's Army and aggravating the Carrows with organized disobedience, both ensuring Snape can't do his job enforcing "Voldemort's orders" or protecting his students from abusive harm. Dumbledore's painting also points out to Snape that if Harry sees him after for the former cut off George's ear, he's a dead man walking.
    • In the film, it's implied Voldemort whacks him with Sectumsempra, a spell Snape invented, before killing him.
  • Hyper-Competent Sidekick: Snape is very powerful and, for lack of a better word, competent, but he's ultimately a sidekick to Voldemort and Dumbledore, the two strongest characters. This becomes a point of tension when Snape realizes that for all his considerable sacrifices Dumbledore doesn't tell him everything either, and is only letting him have information on a "need to know basis" just like Harry and everyone else. This angers him because he feels that Harry not knowing Occlumency deserves to be Locked Out of the Loop. Dumbledore does let him know that Harry will have to die, making him essentially his posthumous message sender after his death.
  • Hypocrite: Snape can at one moment badmouth someone he doesn't like doing something wrong and the next or prior to, doing that very action. He had this self-biased beliefs since childhood even:
    • Harry was not happy to see how James and Sirius were messing with Snape. However Snape who is an adult and professional, not only doesn't feel empathy with Harry's treatment at the hands of his relatives, he finds it amusing and gloats about the power-difference that allows him the right to protect his privacy while denying Harry his. He continues to use his position and standing to abuse students, including the likes of Hermione and Neville whose families have no personal baggage with him. Insists and takes the slightest offense when people make fun of him, while never missing the chance to bullying Neville, Harry or Hermione.
    • Snape was part of a group of bullies who would later join the Death Eaters. When Lily Evans tried to tell him about something these future Death Eaters did to a student he called it "just a laugh", when Lily pointed out that was "evil" and Dark Magic and worse than anything the Marauders did. His main problem was that James and Sirius were "having a laugh: at him. Furthermore, Snape dismisses James saving his life insisting that it was selfish both to Lily, in the past, and Harry years later, while Remus insists that it was truly a courageous moment. Snape doesn't have any remorse whatsoever for causing James' death and not asking Voldemort to spare James and Harry, which Dumbledore called him out on, and insists on talking smack about the guy who for all his flaws, did save Snape's life when he didn't have to do so.
    • Snape criticizes a number of other authority figures, especially McGonagall and Fudge for giving Harry preferential treatment and insists he be treated the same as any other student. While not necessarily a bad point on its own, at least not in Fudge's case, Snape enjoys treating Harry much worse than any other student. He gives preferential treatment to the students of his house, being flagrantly corrupt in punishing students of other houses while letting those of his own get away with murder.
    • Insists that fools who wear their hearts on the sleeve are weak people and easily fall prey to Voldemort in Book 5. This from a guy shows open favouritism toward some students (namely those in his own house) and doesn't try to hide his disdain for others (namely Harry, Hermione, and Ron), lets emotions overwhelm his mission (such as teaching Harry Occlumency which was ordered to him by Dumbledore) and who furthermore, himself fell prey to Voldemort as a young man solely for his own delusions of grandeur.
    • He gloated about the change of Tonks' Patronus to resemble Lupin's and basically mocking her for falling in love with Remus when his own Patronus (which he hides from others in the Order) also changed to reflect his Unrequited Love. In Book 4 he mocks Hermione over Daily Prophet tabloid reports by Rita Skeeter spinning a fake Love Triangle between her, Harry and Krum, when it turned out that at the same age he was immersed in his own love triangle and was incredibly obsessive and possessive of his crush.
  • I Gave My Word: For his many other faults, if Snape promises something he will honour it:
    • He pledged to do everything his power to protect Harry (if solely to honour Lily's memory), which he remarkably did while maintaining his cover as a supposed spy for Voldemort. As abusive and hateful as he was towards Harry, Snape always stopped just short of putting him in real danger or expelling him. In a bit of Fridge Brilliance this may be the only reason Harry wasn't expelled after using Sectumsempra on Draco Malfoy.
    • He promised Dumbledore that he would Mercy Kill him to spare him the painful, humiliating deaths of either the fatal curse of Marvolo's ring or at the hands of Voldemort's lieutenants. Snape was repulsed at doing it, but he did.
    • He promised Narcissa Malfoy that he would do all in his power to assist Draco in his mission to kill Dumbledore, going as far as to make an Unbreakable Vow. This turns out to be a subversion when Snape's memories reveal that Dumbledore planned his own death.
    • He also promised Dumbledore that he would do everything he could to protect the students of Hogwarts during Voldemort's return to power. During his tenure as headmaster he admirably used his position to contain the sadistic Carrows and protect the students as best he could without giving himself away.
  • Ignored Epiphany: Lily calls him out for being prejudiced towards Muggle-borns and thinking she's excluded, as well as for engaging in Dark Magic. After he called her a Mudblood in front of the other fifth years, she tells him off more bluntly about how he doesn't know what he's becoming. She's pretty much telling Snape that if they want to be friends, he has to give up his prejudices. Snape can't, so she ends their friendship.
  • If It's You, It's Okay: Tells Lily she's a good Mud-Blood when she calls him out on his pureblood supremacist attitude. Oddly, this doesn't end the argument.
  • Insecure Love Interest: Snape felt this about Lily especially once he realized that James developed a crush on her. She was popular, good-looking, and Gryffindor just like he was while Snape was none of those things. Ultimately, why she chose James over Snape was because James recognized his faults and was willing to change while Snape doubled down on his views.
  • Inspector Javert: Snape takes it as an article of faith that Harry Potter is doing something stupid or illegal at any given time. Granted, he's usually right.
    • He becomes even moreso in the case of Sirius during Book 3, noting that he looked forward for catching Sirius and showing Remus as The Mole. Sirius offers to turn himself in to Dumbledore as long as Harry and Ron bring Scabbers (Peter Pettigrew's secret form) to Hogwarts as evidence of his innocence. Snape however insists on turning Sirius over to Dementors and looks forward to it and even hopes that Lupin gets his soul sucked too. He then gets knocked out after insulting Harry's father again.
    • The Javert-like tendencies are shown off that he's too eager to persecute Harry, cementing that he's less concerned with Harry doing anything illegal and more just making him suffer. It gets twisted around on him in Book 4 when he (correctly) concludes that Harry is involved with a current escapade on incredibly flimsy evidence, and Moody gets him to drop it by pointing out how suspicious it looks for his mind to jump right to that.
  • Insufferable Genius: Improved his textbook while still a student; invented his own spells at the same time; one of only two wizards capable of independent flight. At the same time he's a terrible teacher; not only does he bully his students but he has utter disdain for their not picking up simple concepts right away. Truth in Television as sometimes experts can make really bad teachers.
  • I Owe You My Life: When they were teenagers, James saved Snape from werewolf Lupin. Dumbledore attributes Snape's desire to protect Harry from Voldemort to this at the end of the first book, claiming that Snape wants to honour his debt so that he can go back to hating James' memory in peace. The truth is more complicated; Snape loved Lily, and on some level Snape wants to protect Lily's child.
  • Jerkass: He was a rather nasty person to every student. He's also remarkably unprofessional by openly displaying contempt to Remus Lupin, who's a fellow teacher and then mocking him in front of his students by trying to "out" him first and then actually going ahead with it after Sirius escapes Hogwarts. Snape always finds the time to insult the Potters and Gryffindors, no matter the occasion.
    "Snape was no obviously less partisan...He was also turning a deaf ear to the many reports of Slytherin attempts to hex Gryffindor players in the corridors. When Alicia Spinnet turned up in the hospital wing with her eyebrows growing so thick and fast they obscured her vision and obstructed her mouth, Snape insisted she must have attempted a Hair-Thickening Charm on herself and refused to listen to the fourteen eye-witnesses who insisted they'd seen the Slytherin Keeper, Miles Bletchley, hit her from behind with a jinx while she worked in the library".
    • He was this, even if to a marginally lesser extent, as a child. Unsurprisingly, it's why his only friends were future Death Eaters and Lily Evans and even then, she cut ties with him.
  • Jerkass Has a Point:
    • He's thoroughly wrong for pushing Harry's Relative Button, but as Harry realizes, James Potter, among other things was an arrogant show-off in his youth and not entirely as spotless as his posthumous reputation allows.
    • He also has legitimate concerns about Harry's character, considering that Harry was sneaking out of school in his third year, cheating in Potions in his sixth year, and nearly killed Draco Malfoy by impulsively using a Dark magic curse without knowing what it would do. Snape also had reason to suspect that Harry had repeatedly stolen from his ingredient cupboard, although truthfully Harry was only partly responsible for one theft (when Hermione stole boomslang skin in their second year), and benefited from another when Dobby stole gillyweed on the false Moody's instruction.
    • Him getting Lupin sacked was almost certainly motivated by spite, but the fact is that Lupin didn't drink his potion and in the process endangered the lives of three students and Snape himself.
  • Jerkass Realization: In the movies, Snape's last words are an acknowledgment that Harry has his mother's eyes — the first time he compares him to Lily and not James, Harry's father. In the books, this is left ambiguous. When Snape asks Harry to look at him as he is dying, the narrative mentioning Harry's green eyes at this time implies Snape wanted to see Lily's eyes one last time but Snape does not vocalize a comparison between Harry and Lily. When Snape shares memories with Harry, they vindicate Snape in that he was loyal to Dumbledore and earnestly protected Harry, but they also reveal Snape still disliked Harry himself and protects him out of love for Lily, rather than for Harry's own sake.
  • Karma Houdini Warranty: His bullying of Neville is never addressed in the first six books, not even by Dumbledore. That changes when he becomes Headmaster of Hogwarts. Neville decides to take Harry's place as the leader of Dumbledore's Army and cause as much trouble as possible. The end result is Snape has to deal with the other Chosen one finally living up to his potential exactly at the moment that Dumbledore has charged him to protect the students and Neville absolutely refuses to trust him, understandably. We can assume it wasn't a fun year for Snape.
  • Kick the Son of a Bitch: He's on the receiving end of this a couple times, the big one being the Trio blasting him unconscious in Book 3.
  • Kick the Morality Pet: Snape's Worst Memory has him calling Lily a "mudblood" out of the fact she went in to save him after he got humiliated by James.
  • Kill the Ones You Love: While Snape didn't do the deed himself, as the Death Eater who partially overheard Trelawney's prophecy and relayed its contents to Voldemort, Snape bears a large portion of the responsibility for Lily's death. Unlike most examples of this trope, this isn't a Moral Event Horizon, but the inspiration for his Heel–Face Turn.
  • Knight In Sour Armor: Snape is extremely bitter by the time he's introduced. No doubt that spending close to a decade fully aware that the woman he loved is dead because of him played a part in this.

    L-R 
  • Lack of Empathy: Snape shows very little compassion and understanding for other people's sufferings, most notably making fun of Tonks' Patronus changing when he went through the same thing, and finding Harry's memories of being bullied by Dudley funny when he himself went through the same. Despite his fury over humiliations and slights done by James and the Maruders on him, he sees no problems with the more malevolent actions his friends (the future Death Eaters) would do. He's very much a believer in It's All About Me, and even his love for Lily was tainted by this, as Dumbledore calls him out.
  • Large Ham: Again, Alan Rickman's Cold Ham tendencies are largely an invention of the films. That being said, Snape has his share of Not So Stoic moments in the books.
  • Laser-Guided Karma: Snape has a few of these moments:
    • He had a crush on his best friend, but she ended their friendship after he called her a Mudblood and refused to give up the Death Eaters or Dark Magic for her. Then she married the boy he hated because James Potter for all his flaws made the choice to become a better person. He only got a wakeup call when his actions indirectly led to her death, leaving only her son alive.
    • Pettily, his attempt to get Sirius Kissed by the Dementors when Sirius surrendered to him, in exchange that they bring Ron's rat to the castle, leads to the Trio knocking him out.
    • His final death where Voldemort murders him out of convenience seems like this, but later developments lean more to it being Redemption Equals Death.
  • Light Is Good: His Patronus shows he is capable of love and devotion.
  • Like Father, Like Son: His father was hinted at being emotionally abusive and prone to angry outbursts. Snape himself has no problems verbally tearing down his students to the point of reducing Neville to a nervous wreck at times, although he prefers to do it via cold sinister threats rather than shouting. The really sad part is, if he hadn't pushed Lily away and she might have fallen for him instead of James, he would have succeeded in not turning out like Tobias.
  • Love Redeems: Downplayed. He turns to Dumbledore and against Voldemort because he wants to protect Lily from the latter. This started him on a lifelong Redemption Quest.
  • Loving a Shadow: Snape largely fixated on his crush being one of the first people to be nice to him. However, it's a point of fact that while she was alive, he never made an effort to change his behavior or listen to her constant criticism of his Death Eater friends, indeed joining the Death Eaters even after getting "The Reason You Suck" Speech from her.
  • Manchild: A more functional version of this but at his core, he's petty enough to harass Harry purely out of a bitter grudge and dispute the latter had no idea of growing up (having grown away from his parents) and he never truly lets go of his past and more importantly, despite repeated prompting from others, refuses to see differently. Indeed, from the moment Snape saw Harry at 11 years of age, he refuses to see any of his good qualities purely because he looks like his father.
  • Master Actor: He has to be this if he was to spy on Voldemort.
  • Meaningful Name:
    • He's also known as "Piton" (in the Italian and Hungarian translations), "Snow" (in the Russian one) and "Rogue" (in the French one). He also calls himself the Half-blood Prince, in reference to his mother's maiden name.
    • Severus is Latin for 'stern, harsh, serious'.
  • The Medic: A more specialized example than usual. Due to his expertise on curses in a way that more traditional medic Madam Pomfrey lacks he fills this role in Half Blood Prince containing the curse in the necklace worn by Katie Bell, and later it's only his remedies that buy Dumbledore some time after being afflicted with the fatal curse of Marvolo's Ring.
  • Mercy Kill: Dumbledore wasn't murdered: he was spared from a slower and more horrible death.
  • Mind Reading: Legilimency, a very limited and forbidden craft. Snape is a master nonetheless, alongside Dumbledore and Voldemort.
  • Mole in Charge: He's technically The Dragon, but close enough. Dumbledore's machinations ensured that Snape would have enough power and influence in Voldemort's inner circle to minimize the damage during his reign. He indeed uses his position as Hogwarts headmaster to subtly undermine the sadistic Carrows.
  • Moment of Weakness: What ruined his relationship with Lily Evans. Then again, according to Lily herself, choosing to surround himself with wizards obsessed with the Dark Arts like Lucius Malfoy was what strained their friendship. Snape calling Lily a mudblood was just the final straw. Likewise, even after this rebuke, he still joined the Death Eaters despite knowing that Lily wanted nothing to do with it, and it wasn't until she was directly endangered years later that he started to turn.
  • Moral Myopia: Snape is extensively self-centered and biased to his actions and the actions of those around. He calmly defended his friend Mulciber's action as a "bit of fun" in a Noodle Incident that Lily claims was dark magic. However, when on the recieving end of James Potter's "bit of fun", he seethes with anger. Explained by his pride and ambition.
  • More Than Meets the Eye: One of the most nuanced and complicated characters in how he is, especially as is shown later on.
  • My God, What Have I Done?: When he realizes that his own actions hurt Lily, the person he cared the most for, and eventually led to her murder. He's described as looking like "a man who had lived a hundred years of misery".
  • Nerves of Steel: He is serving Voldemort, a supreme practitioner of Legilimency, who will not just murder anybody who betrays him, but likely put them through a long round of Cruciatus first. And yet Snape is working for Dumbledore the entire time. It is for good reason that Harry calls him "the bravest man I ever knew".
  • Noodle Incident: We get a few glimpses of his past with the Marauders. Remus says that while he won't accuse Snape of not being reformed there is too much bad blood between both to ever call themselves friends.
  • Nobody Calls Me "Chicken"!: A Berserk Button of his — entirely justified, given how much he has risked and sacrificed for the sake of the good cause.
  • Not Evil, Just Misunderstood: It's very easy to paint Snape as a "bad guy" due to his personality and the ambiguity of what side he's on, but once you realize what he's been through in life, it's apparent that he isn't really an "evil" character, or at least not anymore.
  • Not in This for Your Revolution: With both the Death Eaters and the Order. He's not a traditional pureblood supremacist in the same vein as Lucius Malfoy and his cohorts, and in fact makes clear to Lily when they first meet that Blood Status doesn't matter to him. However, even as a child, Snape carried a great deal of anger and resentment due to his poverty and his abusive father, which in turn led to a desire to be seen as someone important and powerful. When he went to Hogwarts, he found himself going up against James, who was not only as intelligent and magically talented as Snape was, but also athletic, handsome and popular, things which Snape wasn't. When James began to show interest in Lily, Snape's jealousy and insecurity hit boiling point. Given that he was in Slytherin house which was dominated by pureblood supremacists, Snape began to look to the Death Eaters as a way of proving that he was the powerful wizard he'd always wanted to be. He was so deluded that he actually thought Lily would find him impressive if he became a Death Eater, even though she repeatedly told him she found them disgusting and actually ended her friendship because of how far gone he was. Similarly, he has no interest in Dumbledore's cause aside from Lily's protection initially, and after her death protects her son only to ensure that her sacrifice wasn't in vain. Subverted in that by the end of his life he's saved and protected numerous people who had nothing to do with Lily or Harry, felt a growing amount of guilt for the people he couldn't save and ultimately chooses to impart Harry with the information that would lead him to his death in order to rid the world of Voldemort, thereby choosing "The Greater Good" over his commitment to Lily.
  • Not So Different:
    • There are more than a few parallels between himself and Sirius Black. Both were branded as criminals, both hated their families (Snape hated his father and Sirius hated his most of his family), both were hated to a murderous degree by Harry for something they did (or more accurately, were accused of doing and cleared off after death: Sirius's "betrayal" of James and Lily, and Snape's murder of Dumbledore), and both are extremely protective of their friends' sons (Sirius to Harry, Snape to Draco). Both of them are too blind to see Harry isn't his father. Furthermore, both refused to let go of schoolboy grudges. And, let's face it, they're both noble assholes. (A minor/meta similar: there are two titles that feature their nicknames.)
    • Snape himself is Not So Different from Harry, and ironically it's the younger of the two who realizes and internalizes this. This was noted in book 6, where Hermione notes how Snape, despite describing the Dark Arts like a fanboy, was actually saying the same things Harry himself said when teaching the DA members in book 5.
    • Snape is also not as different from Petunia Dursley, another person he looked down upon. Both hate Harry half because he's a living, breathing reminder that they never made amends with Lily Potter and half because he reminds them of something they hate (magic in Petunia's case and Harry's father in Snape's case). Furthermore, both of them are motivated by pride and resentment. Snape's ambitions to be recognized as a powerful and clever wizard is not dissimilar to Petuina's emphasis on appearances and social status, both of which are motivated by feelings of insecuriy. In addition, both characters tend to turn a blind eye to their "favourite child" in their care (Dudley for Petunia, Draco for Snape). However, both still protect Harry despite their hatred of him out of loyalty to Lily.
    • A reason for Voldemort's indulgence to Snape and his acceptance of Severus's Please Spare Him, My Liege! offer is the latter's awareness of the similarities between them. Poor orphan boys with disappointing Muggle fathers and suffering witch mothers as well as proud Slytherins. Harry himself notes that he, Voldemort, and Snape were three "lost boys" who regarded Hogwarts as their home.
  • Not So Stoic: There are several moments where Snape's stoicism cracks and he flips his lid. However, considering what happened to him the last time he truly lost self-control (calling Lily "Mudblood") he does have a point about reigning in his emotions at least.
  • Obfuscating Stupidity: Snape pulls this in Umbridge's office when Harry passes him a coded message that he's seen Sirius being tortured by Voldemort in the Department of Mysteries. This does backfire somewhat when Snape, unable to confirm that he understood the message in Umbridge's presence, dismisses it and Harry, in his usual abrasive manner, assumes Snape has just ignored him.
  • Odd Friendship:
    • One of the main traits of his friendship with Lily Evans. Also deconstructed since the pressures of their respective Houses, social backgrounds and other friends proved too great for the friendship to endure and they initially ended up on the different sides of the war.
    • Also has this with Lucius and Narcissa Malfoy. Two rich pure-blood supremacists who look down on nearly everyone seem to consider him, a poor half-blood with no social skills and who works under Dumbledore, a legitimate friend. Snape is far more sympathetic and less snarky towards them then most other characters.
  • Out-of-Character Moment: When Harry says "He's got Padfoot in the place where it's hidden", Snape realizes that Harry means that Sirius is in danger even though the sentence makes no sense to everyone else in the room. With the situation so severe, Snape passes this information onto the Order.
  • Papa Wolf:
    • Towards Draco Malfoy, and via Narcissa's request; if you mess with that kid, you will have a come-to-Severus meeting in your immediate future. (Not that Draco actually needs Snape's protection, but this is the reason fanon has it that Snape is his godfather.) Though it's Draco doesn't feel all that close to Snape by book 6, as shown in Half Blood Prince, even regarding Snape as a usurper who's trying to take Lucius' former position in the hierarchy. Snape himself tells Dumbledore in The Prince's Tale that Draco no longer looks up to him as much after Lucius is imprisoned.
    • Towards Harry. Snape may treat him like shit most of the time, but you'll have to go through Snape to hurt a hair on Harry's head.
  • Perpetual Frowner: He's no ray of sunshine in general, but Alan Rickman really emphasizes this in the films to the point of comedy at times.
  • Pining After Protagonist's Parent: Harry's mother is Lily Evans. Snape and her were friends when they were young, before they came to Hogwarts. He was in love with her. At Hogwarts, he fell in with the wrong crowd, and their friendship eventually disintegrated. Lily went on to marry James and have Harry. Snape went right on loving her.
  • Playing Hamlet: Snape, who ages from 31 to 38 over the course of the books, is played by Alan Rickman, who played the role from ages 55 to 65.
  • Please Spare Him, My Liege!: He begged Voldemort to spare Lily's life after she (along with James and Harry) became #1 on Voldy's hit-list. It almost works — Voldemort gives her a chance to step aside and let him kill Harry, but for obvious reasons she doesn't take it. This proves to be a Spanner in the Works for Voldemort. Voldemort offering Lily that genuine choice leads to a binding magical contract which results in The Power of Love protecting Harry.
  • Posthumous Character: Set 19 years in the future, Snape has long passed by The Cursed Child but he still manages to help Scorpius and Albus battle evil from beyond the grave.
  • Psychological Projection: Given that he and James Potter were Not So Different, it's fair to assume that when he projects James' bad traits on Harry, he's also projecting his own, especially considering that James grew out of them (for the most part at least), while Snape didn't.
  • Recruited from the Gutter: Snape's impoverished background lends credence to the idea that his involvement with the Death Eaters started as this. He was born poor to a Pureblood mother who married a Muggle and had an abusive marriage to show for it, leading him to identify with her side of the family, which leads him to long to go into Slytherin, and which leads him to becoming part of the Death Eater circle under Lucius Malfoy's influence. His one chance out of the Dark Arts was his friendship with Lily, but his refusal to listen to her, and his longing for power led him to choose the Dark Arts, a decision that ruined his life for good.
  • Red Herring Mole: He is this, over and over and over again. In the first book, all evidence points to him as the person trying to steal the titular Stone. In the fourth, we learn both that he is an ex-Death Eater and that Voldemort has a mole at Hogwarts. In the fifth, we learn that his rivalry with Harry is deeply personal, and he seems to be conspiring with Sadist Teacher Dolores Umbridge against Harry. Was he ever guilty? Nope. And then in the sixth book he kills off Dumbledore, meant as part of one of Dumbledore's own plans, but taken as "proof" of his treachery by Harry (and any readers who hadn't yet picked up on the pattern.)
  • Redemption Equals Death: His ultimate redemption in Harry's eyes takes place posthumously.
  • Reverse Mole: In Deathly Hallows he seemingly returns to Voldemort's service, but it actually still a member of the Order of the Phoenix and is passing information along to them.
  • Rich Suitor, Poor Suitor: The poor to James' rich during their love triangle with Lily.
  • Rival Turned Evil: He is a rival towards James, and he turned evil because he joined the Death Eaters.
  • Rule of Three: Snape went down the tunnel of the Whomping Willow three times. First when he followed Sirius' prank and nearly got killed until James saved him, second when he followed the trio and tried to capture Sirius and Remus only to get knocked out, and finally when Voldemort summons him and lets him in on his suspicions about the Elder Wand and then kills Snape, who meets Harry before passing out, his body left in the Shack for the rest of the night.
  • Running Gag: With regards to having his cloak set on fire; it was first established in the film version of Harry Potter and the Philisopher's Stone, when Hermione ignites his cloak during the first match between Gryffindor and Slytherin in her first year. It has become a running gag with the advent of the Harry Potter: Hogwarts Mystery, during which Snape has his cloak set on fire by the Curse-Breaker Patricia Rakepick and possibly again by the Player Character as well, if the latter is prompted to do so.

    S-Z 
  • Sadist Teacher: Mostly towards Harry:
    • His treatment of Harry across the series is incredibly disproportionate and hypocritical, generally petty, and hostile. And after their falling out of the Pensieve incident, Snape still finds time to "accidentally" destroy more than one of Harry's potion assignments, "Oops, Zero Marks, Potter".
    • He torments Neville on and off screen so much that Neville's Boggart in Book 3 takes Snape's form. Boggarts are explicitly stated to be the victim's worst fear given form. Damn.
  • Sarcastic Confession: He rhetorically suggests to Bellatrix if she really believes he has successfully deceived Voldemort himself, a noted master of Legilimency and a virtual Living Lie Detector. We later discover that he actually did.
  • School Bullying Is Harmless: Subverted.
    • In his own schooldays, he was antagonised by James and Sirius (something that horrifies and disillusions Harry when he finds out). Decades later, he still absolutely hates James and Sirius for it. However, as a student however, Snape himself defended his friend Mulciber's actions to Mary MacDonald as "a bit of fun" when Lily points out that it's dark magic and far worse than anything James or the Maruders done.
  • Selective Enforcement: He goes out of his way to punish Gryffindor students for the pettiest of reasons, while letting the Slytherins get away scot free.
    "When Alicia Spinnet turned up in the hospital wing with her eyebrows growing so thick and fast that they obscured her vision and obstructed her mouth, Snape insisted that she must have attempted a Hair-Thickening Charm on herself and refused to listen to the fourteen eyewitnesses who insisted that they had seen the Slytherin Keeper, Miles Bletchley, hit her from behind with a jinx while she worked in the library."
  • Shed the Family Name: Of a form. Going along with pure-blood views as an adolescent, he definitely didn't think much of his Muggle father, Tobias Snape (not that he had any reason to, anyway). While he never completely sheds his surname, he does label his Potions textbook, and presumably his other possessions, as "the Property of the Half-Blood Prince", identifying himself as a Prince (his mother's maiden name) rather than a Snape.
  • Single-Target Sexuality: Implied to be this as he never expresses any romantic/sexual interest in anyone besides Lily Evans/Potter. Voldemort, in the final battle, implies that Snape bluffed him about this and convinced him that he'd moved on to other women.
  • Sinister Schnoz: Played with. His hooked nose is probably intended to make him seem more like a villain, especially at the beginning. Ultimately subverted, however, since he isn't really evil and is actually on Dumbledore's side. He's cruel and and sadistic, but evil is a stretch.
  • Sins of Our Fathers: Despite the numerous clashes they had, Snape never was able to let go of his vendetta against James, but with him gone, he picks on Harry instead, to the point that he automatically assigned him all of James’ character flaws without ever bothering to actually see if the shoe fit. Considering that he believed Harry of all people enjoyed the spotlight, one has to wonder if he ever looked at Harry as an individual instead of as a remnant of his parents.
    Severus Snape: -–mediocre, arrogant as his father, a determined rule-breaker, delighted to find himself famous, attention-seeking and impertinent-–
    Albus Dumbledore: You see what you expect to see, Severus. Other teachers report that the boy is modest, likable and reasonably talented. Personally, I find him an engaging child.
  • The Smart Guy: In the Order, he is one of the most valuable agents due to his knowledge and Remus admits he wouldn't have lasted so long in Hogwarts if Snape didn't provide him with the necessary potion Remus needed against lycanthropy.
  • Sour Outside, Sad Inside: He grew up with an abusive father and neglectful mother, making him very ambitious to escape his poor background and reach greatness. When he arrived at Hogwarts, he ended up developing an intense mutual hateship with James Potter as well as befriending a group of malicious young men and women who would become the Death Eaters and eventually chased the one friend who could stand him because he chose his ambitions and desires over their friendship. The death of his childhood friend and love of his life didn't help his mood either.
  • Spanner in the Works: Snape's wish for Lily to be spared results in her sacrifice that protects her son with love. Had he not done so, the choice would not have been offered or the sacrifice would not take effect. Snape immediately grasps the irony when Dumbledore reminds him why Lily died and he resolves to protect Harry out of respect for her memory.
    • Snape ends up being one for Voldemort, but almost certainly not in the way he intended. After spending the entirety of Book 7 unable to use the Elder Wand, Voldemort assumes that Snape is the master of the wand and kills him for it. Since Snape was not actually the master, Voldemort never gains control of the wand and it backfires during the final battle with Harry, killing Voldemort once and for all as a result.
  • Stealth Mentor: At the end of book 6, and other subtle instances besides, you know, his job as a Potions Master.
    • The stealthiest example may be "Expeliarmus", which might be the single most famous spell from the series (famous enough to be referred to in a Doctor Who episode). Harry uses this spell so often, by Book 7 Death Eaters have come to think of it as Harry's "signature spell". Guess which teacher Harry inadvertently learned this spell from during a certain Dueling Club way back in Book 2?
    • Snape didn't intend to teach Harry that spell at all. Harry picked it up himself and admits to Lockhart that "you shouldn't have let Professor Snape teach us that spell." A running theme in the series is that Harry learns from Snape without either of them being conscious about it, especially via his old potions textbook, which in fact mirrors their relationship.
    • More ironically, it was not just through Harry that Snape's Stealth Mentoring influenced the grand scheme. Being at the Dueling Club, Draco Malfoy also mastered the spell. He later used it to disarm Dumbledore. If not for this and then him getting disarmed by Harry in turn, Harry would not have mastered the Elder Wand. Voldemort would have guessed correctly that Snape is the wand's master after killing Dumbledore and would have, by murdering Snape, gained the wand's allegiance, winning the war.
    • Also during Harry's first Potions lesson, Snape asks him about the properties of bezoar. Harry remembers it's a potent antidote just in time to cure Ron from poisoning.
    • Snape seems to do this even when fighting Harry at the end of book 6. He pretty much told Harry that to fight effectively, he must be able to perform non-verbal spells and hide his thoughts from an accomplished legilimens like him and Voldemort. By the end of book 7, he can cast non-verbal spells well enough to be ninja-like when wearing his invisibility cloak.
    • Contrasted by Snape's failure to teach Harry anything when he actively tries to (potions, occlumency and non-verbal magic) due to the antagonism and resentment they feel toward one another. Becomes a major point of dramatic irony when Harry ponders how the Half-Blood Prince is a better potions teacher than Snape ever was.
  • Stepford Snarker: Is he ever. Of course, Harry and the gang don't know this at first, but it all makes sense in the last two installments.
  • The Stoic: For most of the series, he only really shows two emotions: stoicism and dickishness. This is completely flipped upside-down in "The Prince's Tale".
  • Stone Wall: Snape is shown to be different from most Death Eaters by primarily using defensive spells, only using offensive techniques when his opponents tired and started making mistakes, or if his opponent was incompetent, like Lockhart. Most of his duel with Harry at the end of book six is Harry attacking him and Snape deflecting everything that comes his way. Justified however as he never wishes to cause any true harm to any of the good guys.
  • Soft-Spoken Sadist: Snape's voice is repeatedly described as being both soft and dangerous, and he's the Hogwarts equivalent of the teacher whose classes you dreaded as a kid. He rarely needs to do more than whisper to keep a room of students quiet, and his voice only gets quieter when he's really angry with someone. This makes the few moments when he genuinely loses control all the more striking.
  • Super Window Jump: Towards the end of book seven, leaving behind an Impact Silhouette.
  • Surprisingly Sudden Death: His death, and the manner in which it happened, was totally unexpected, both by him and by Harry and the reader. In fact, it's unlikely he even fully knew why he died, since it had nothing to do with him being a double agent or any issues about his loyalty, and it is unknown if Dumbledore apprised him fully about the Elder Wand. Both Harry and the reader, expected some meaningful final confrontation between them, but it never happens, illustrating the generally random nature of conflict.
  • Talking Down the Suicidal: Although he doesn't act on it, when Snape and Dumbledore talk after Lily Potter's death, Snape makes the much forgotten remark "I wish... I wish I were dead...". Dumbledore quickly shoots this down by saying in a harsh tone "And what use would that be to anyone?"
  • Tall, Dark, and Snarky: He's that page's image for a damn good reason.
  • Teeth-Clenched Teamwork: With Sirius Black throughout Order of the Phoenix.
  • Teen Genius: Implied to have been one. Among other things, he became a Hogwarts Professor in what's implied to be his second best subject at age 21, just four years after himself graduating.
  • There Is No Kill Like Overkill: In the seventh book, he is bitten by Nagini and left to bleed to death by Voldemort. In the eighth movie, however, Voldemort cuts his throat and lets Nagini bite him over and over. And you can hear each blow she deals him. Bloody Hell, indeed.
  • Tragic Hero: He's ultimately a very flawed but heroic man whose various flaws, pride above all else, led to the death of the only woman he loved and living with the guilt that he was the originator of the circumstances that killed her.
  • Tranquil Fury: When Snape gets angry he usually gets calmer and quieter, which is sufficient to intimidate most of his students into shutting up and backing down. However, there are several moments where he gets really pissed and the tranquility goes out the window.
  • Tyrant Takes the Helm: So it seems at first in Book 7 when he becomes headmaster of Hogwarts.
  • Ultimate Job Security: Regardless of his skill with Potions, he is a professor who bullies most of his students and shows open favouritism for others, and he's a former Death Eater. Then again, he needs to be at Hogwarts in order to pretend to be Voldemort's spy and help Dumbledore to protect the students, so there's a reason Dumbledore keeps him around.
  • Unbalanced by Rival's Kid: The main reason he hates Harry so much. It turns out that he is a former childhood friend of Lily and Harry represents the fact that Lily loved James and had a child by him, becoming the living picture of everything he missed.
  • Undying Loyalty: Everything he does is because of Harry's mother, Lily. This goes as far even in an altered timeline where Voldemort wins and Harry and Dumbledore are dead.
    "After all this time?" "Always."
  • Unfriendly Fire: When McGonagall attacks him in book 7, Snape parries the spells towards the Carrows as a way of taking them down without blowing his cover.
  • Ungrateful Bastard: On one hand, he might seem like this for not feeling grateful to James Potter for saving his life from the werewolf. On the other hand, the incident doesn't stop the spite between James and himself and one can say that it just made him angrier being in James' debt, especially since the entire thing started with Severus trying to oust them.
  • Unrequited Love Lasts Forever: Severus loved Lily until the day he died, long after her death, and even longer after their friendship fell apart.
  • Unscrupulous Hero: Used to be a Death Eater and when he turned to the good side, he remains quite cold and unpleasant.
  • Unwitting Instigator of Doom:
    • For the series as whole. His eavesdropping of Trelawney's prophecy and report of the same to Voldemort and asking him to spare Lily resulted in the deaths of Lily and James Potter and Voldemort. He's only too painfully aware of this himself.
    • He ends up cutting off George Weasley's ear by accident when, as part of his role as spy for Dumbledore, seemingly helps the Death Eaters chase down Harry in book seven.
  • Used to Be a Sweet Kid: Downplayed; the flashbacks in "The Prince's Tale" show that young Severus lacked tact or basic social skills. In spite of that, he was courteous and caring to Lily until when their friendship broke.
  • Vetinari Job Security: Among the Death Eaters. Aside from the Malfoys and Voldemort himself, they mostly view him untrustworthy bloke who never seems to find himself in the line of fire, but his skill at Occlumency makes him the only one who could spy on Dumbledore so successfully and so Voldemort is forced to trust him. This is implied to be the case in the Order of the Phoenix as well, at least by Sirius and Harry.
  • Villainous Underdog: During his teen years, Snape as an aspiring Death Eater and Dark Arts practitioner, while the Marauders were later Order members. So he was the villain to their heroes, but Snape was the underdog in their conflict, he was poor, came from a bad home, and pulled himself and made himself as smart as he could by his own efforts, while the Marauders always attacked him 2-or-3 on 1, and James and Sirius at least were rich, while Remus and James came from families that cared for them.
  • Vindicated by History: In-Universe. By Albus Potter's era, he is known as a badass double agent who was instrumental in bringing about Voldemort's defeat.
  • What Could Have Been: An in-universe example: Dumbledore quotes that "I think sometimes we sort too soon" in regards to the courage shown by Snape and his sorting into Slytherin instead of Gryffindor. By the end of the books, Harry himself ends up acknowledging it, calling Snape "the bravest man I ever knew" in the epilogue.
  • What You Are in the Dark: Deconstructed; Snape has had this problem all of his life, that he would always hold his true feelings close to his heart so that even those closest to him didn't know both his kind and malevolent intentions. He was unable to give up loyalty to the Death Eaters when his best friend called him out on his horrible prejudices, was unable to confess that he wanted to be more than friends with her, and only switched sides to save her life. Snape and Dumbledore know, at Snape's request, that he is working to make amends for his mistakes, and he's doing it to make amends for a dead woman that can no longer accept his atonement. Dumbledore sighs with exasperation that Snape wants no one to know about his nobility, which ends up dogging both of them. No one knows that Snape is Dumbledore's double-agent, not even the other members of the Order, and no one knows that Dumbledore wants him to give the professor a Mercy Kill and run Hogwarts after Voldemort takes over because the Carrows are a much worse choice. The other teachers turn on Snape when they learn that he murdered Dumbledore, and only allow him as headmaster because the other choice is the Carrows who will torture the students; McGonagall when she turns on the Death Eaters' regime makes it clear that she's dueling to kill, not to stun, and Snape has to flee from her spells in both the book and movies. Even after Harry finds out the truth, he has a hard time convincing the Wizarding World, for a good reason, that Snape was complicated but not fundamentally evil.
    • A more straightforward example happens in Book 6. Harry has almost killed Draco and is very obviously lying about the circumstances. Snape finally has the pretext he needs to get Harry thrown out of Hogwarts permanently...and he doesn't. He obviously wants to, but he doesn't.
  • Who's Laughing Now?: Another extension of his pride; he is often motivated to get back at anyone who slighted him or injured his pride. The fact he holds these grudges for decades is an indication of his obsession:
    • This was in part a reason why he kept getting into conflict with the Marauders as he was looking for ways to get them expelled or give them grief. This led up to Sirius getting sick of this and tries to trick Snape into confronting Lupin during his transformation (the fact that Snape actually listened and broke the rules shows how inane it was.) James was unsurprisingly horrified the moment he found out and promptly went to save Snape.
    • As a teacher, in his interactions with Harry, he keeps bringing up James and Sirius and more or less uses the same arguments he used against Lily as a schoolboy. Hell, he takes sadistic pleasure in giving Sirius Black to the authorities for something he didn't do; even with Sirius tried to point him in the actual culprit, he couldn't resist the urge to have Sirius be sentenced to the Dementors and be awarded for it. When Harry and Hermione use the Time Turner to save Sirius (and Buckbeak), Snape throws such a fit at his loss, he outs Lupin out of spite (ironically the one who tried to keep Sirius and James back.)
    • In any case, Snape never got the vengeance he sought out. James married Lily, and though he died, so did she, while Harry is — as Rowling states — "living proof that Lily loved another man" and Snape dies before reconciling with Harry or being vindicated for his work as a spy.
  • Wild Card: Had this status among both the Order and the Death Eaters, regardless of whether Voldemort or Dumbledore was there or not, he seemed to carry on. This is all part of the plan. This annoys members on both sides and Severus never misses an opportunity to rub this in their faces.
  • You Are a Credit to Your Race: One of the main reasons why he and Lily had their falling-out was due to him seeing Lily as this with regards to Muggle-borns, as he found it acceptable that his Death Eater friends (and Snape himself in their influence) liberally used the Fantastic Slur "Mudblood". In fact, Lily herself calls him out for this.
  • You Are What You Hate:
    • He mocks Hermione for her tabloid reputation in Rita Skeeter's pages and belittles and torments Neville, and Harry, and later makes snide jokes about Tonks changing her Patronus for Remus, when he himself was the laughing stock in his schooldays and his own Patronus changed for Lily.
    • While the details remain scarce, it's pretty indictive that Severus became the same sort of unlikeable jerk that he hated his father Tobias for being.
  • You Have Outlived Your Usefulness: Voldemort kills him to gain full power over the Elder Wand.
  • You Should Have Died Instead: Never outright stated, but Word of God is that Snape's bullying towards Neville is rooted on the fact that Voldemort didn't go after him instead of Harry upon hearing the prophecy.
  • Zero-Approval Gambit: Arranged between Snape and Dumbledore: all of Dumbledore's plans for Snape (and Harry, for that matter) would have failed if Harry and Snape had liked each other at all. Dumbledore Lampshades this when he tells Snape that Harry will have to perform a Heroic Sacrifice and Snape is horrified that Harry must die:
    Dumbledore: But this is touching, Severus. Have you grown to care for the boy, after all?
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