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You dare use my own spells against me, Potter? Yes. I'm the Half-Blood Prince.
~ Severus Snape reveals himself as the Half-Blood Prince in Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince.
Dumbledore: After all this time?!
Snape: Always.
~ Albus Dumbledore and Severus Snape, regarding Snape's undying love for Lily.
You have your mother's eyes...
~ Severus Snape's dying words to Harry Potter, right after giving him his memories.

Professor Severus Snape (January 9, 1960 – May 2, 1998), also known as the Half-Blood Prince, is a major character in the Harry Potter franchise. Originally making his debut in The Philosopher's Stone, he revealed his ambitious side as the titular main antagonist of The Half-Blood Prince. His loyalty was debatable, but he was finally revealed to be on the side of good near the end of The Deathly Hallows, being unconditionally loyal to Albus Dumbledore and the woman he loved, Lily.

He was portrayed by the late Alan Rickman.

Physical appearance

Snape appears as a thin man with sallow skin, long greasy black hair, a hooked nose and black eyes. He also dresses in a flowing black robe.

Personality

You were named after two Headmasters of Hogwarts. One of them was a Slytherin and he was the bravest man I've ever known.
~ Harry Potter about Severus Snape.

Severus Snape, as a young man, was an extremely insecure, vulnerable and painfully embittered person with a colossal inferiority complex. From the year dot, he strived to be part of some greater cause for the sake of recognition, admiration, authority or, if need be, fear. He grew up in complete and utter poverty under a vicious father and a witch mother, leading him to be a very fearful person. This also drew him towards Lily Evans, to whom he developed an increasingly powerful love for - however, though she ambiguously regarded him as a friend, she did not return any romantic affection.

Snape's prejudice was very debatable, as he was renowned for hating Muggles like Petunia Dursley, but he did not appear to regard Lily in the same light because she was Muggle-Born - this might have been influenced by his love for her. He would turn cold and callous towards what was seen as racially inferior by others if it meant being liked by his peers, shown by him viciously scorning Lily's blood status in front of James Potter simply so that he didn't lose face - an act that he deeply regretted afterwards.

Snape was a determined and highly driven man, and quickly developed supreme confidence in his own talents and abilities. He was, in his own right, an extremely powerful wizard, so this assurance was not unjustified. He would also become critical towards the magical powers of others, particularly Hogwarts students he didn't like. However, despite his immense prowess as a sorcerer, Snape relied on his genius-level intelligence and power of mind to survive in a world where magical powers were considered the defining trait of everyone around him.

He showed himself to be diabolically cunning and calculating to an extreme, capable of creating elaborate and highly effective plans to achieve difficult and sometimes transparent goals in very short amounts of time, which is shown frequently throughout the series. This is shown by how he deduced that something had happened to Harry when he disappeared into the Forest with Umbridge. It was shown again by him creating a convoluted way of planning out the Battle of the Seven Potters without directly endangering Harry, or himself, whilst simultaneously keeping Voldemort's perception of his true allegiance at bay.

Snape's intelligence made him very quick-thinking, shown during a Quidditch match when he saw Harry's broom go out of control, at which point he quickly deduced it was cursed and immediately conjured a counter-curse to reverse it's effects - however, this made people, especially Harry, think he was doing the opposite. Snape later volunteered to referee the next match to ensure such an incident did not repeat itself a second time.

As a teacher, Snape was externally bitter, cynical, precise, cold, sarcastic, aloof, unsocial, and apathetic. At best, he would give approvals to his preferred students in a mundane tone. At worst, he would be noticeably anti-social to whoever slights him. He was very direct in his opinions of others and did not regard people's feelings very highly. His standards for his classes were much higher than that of the other professors, as he only allowed students with the very best grades to continue into advanced study. He seemed to favor Slytherins against all other Houses, possibly because of his experiences with Gryffindors as a child and him coming from Slytherin. However, Snape remained professional and gave good grades to all who did good work, even if he hated them, and bad grades to those who failed, including those in Slytherin. He was not liked very well among most Hogwarts professors, but he was highly respected for his experience, power and knowledge.

Snape, being such a powerful wizard, possessed an encyclopedic and extremely precise knowledge of various advanced types of magic - he was one of the finest Occlumens of all time and a highly accomplished Legilimens. His Occlumency was so great, Voldemort, the greatest Legilimens ever, never suspected him of treachery. He was also so learned in Potions that he could recite the origins, etymology and capabilities of various potions off by heart, and he could even correct a Potions handbook (An advanced potions book, which should have information that is accurate and effective) so that it provides quicker, more efficient and more precise ways of accomplishing the creation and usage of potions.

Snape was normally a very calm and reserved person, but he possessed a brutal temper that would infrequently get the better of him. He would react violently if he thought he was being pitied, underestimated or especially if he was being viewed as a coward. The most climactic episode where he lost his temper was in his famous duel with Harry Potter, where he turned furious and explosive when Harry used his own spells - that is to say, spells that he personally created - against him, just like James Potter would. This gave way to pride, as he freely described himself as the Half-Blood Prince.

Severus Snape was, finally an enormously brave man - throughout the course of the series, Snape placed himself in unimaginable danger every day of his life, in his efforts to protect Harry from any harm that came his way - he even protected Harry from a werewolf by covering his body over Harry, risking extreme physical harm to his person. Snape was a person who possessed a deep capacity for love. Everything that he did in the latter part of his life was motivated by his devotion to Lily Evans, whom he loved very deeply. He was one of Dumbledore's most reliable allies and in his role as a double agent, took great personal risk in ensuring Harry's safety at the hands of Lord Voldemort.

Trivia

  • Snape is portrayed by Alan Rickman in the Harry Potter films. Rickman also portrayed Judge Turpin in Tim Burton's film adaptation of Sweeney Todd.
    • Actor Tim Roth was in talks to play the villain, but turned down the role to play General Thade in Planet of the Apes (2001).
    • Alan Rickman was proved to be a remarkable actor to play the character since he managed his performance pretty well, so much that Rupert Grint admitted to being afraid of him in an interview.
  • An aspect of him of being an anti-hero is due to him being an extremely biased teacher, who blatantly favored students of Slytherin, in which he was the head of the house; while unfairly punishing and verbally abusing every other student, especially Harry, Ron, Hermione and Neville.
    • In film series however, Snape's characterization is changed to appear more likable as with Gilderoy Lockhart; he is more laid back and less anti social, does not openly insult or harass his students (with the exception of shoving or whacking Harry and Ron on the head to make them focus on their studies) and once when Ron sniggered when Umbridge was embarrassing him. While his enmity with Harry still evident, he is less cruel towards him, such as wishing him good luck on his first Quidditch match and even flashing him a slight smile, along with a sarcastic compliment on Harry's defeat of the mountain troll earlier that year. He also initially defended him, Ron, and Hermione in the second movie from Filch's accusations when Mrs Norris was petrified (though he did note that there was a set of suspicious circumstances) and when talking with Dumbledore after revealing the Prophecy to Voldemort, he asked him to protect the entire Potter family (including his rival James) rather than Lily alone, without Dumbledore having to prompt him to do so.
  • In honor of Alan Rickman's 2016 death, Snape appears in a 2016 episode of The Simpsons.
  • According to J.K. Rowling, Snape's character was loosely inspired by an unpleasant chemistry teacher she met in secondary school.

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Dumbledore's Army
Alicia Spinnet | Angelina Johnson | Anthony Goldstein | Katie Bell | Parvati Patil | Padma Patil | Michael Corner | Terry Boot | Cho Chang | Colin Creevey | Dean Thomas | Dennis Creevey | Ernie Macmillan | Fred Weasley | George Weasley | Ginny Weasley | Harry Potter | Hannah Abbott | Hermione Granger | Justin Finch-Fletchley | Lavender Brown | Lee Jordan | Luna Lovegood | Neville Longbottom | Ron Weasley | Seamus Finnigan | Susan Bones

Order of the Phoenix
Alastor Moody | Albus Dumbledore | Arabella Figg | Arthur Weasley | Bill Weasley | Dobby | Fleur Delacour | Kingsley Shacklebolt | Lily Potter | Minerva McGonagall | Molly Weasley | Nymphadora Tonks | Remus Lupin | Rubeus Hagrid | Severus Snape | Sirius Black

Hogwarts Staff
Albus Dumbledore | Minerva McGonagall | Severus Snape | Filius Flitwick | Pomona Sprout | Horace Slughorn | Remus Lupin | Rubeus Hagrid | Sybill Trelawney | Firenze | Rolanda Hooch | Neville Longbottom | Poppy Pomfrey | Peeves | Dobby

Circle of Khanna
Rowan Khanna | Penny Haywood | Ben Cooper | Chiara Lobosca | Tulip Karasu | Barnaby Lee | Talbott Winger | Andre Egwu | Jae Kim | Badeea Ali | Liz Tuttle | Diego Caplan | Beatrice Haywood | Merula Snyde | Ismelda Murk

Other Wizards & Witches
Cedric Diggory | Draco Malfoy | Godric Gryffindor | Helga Hufflepuff | Rowena Ravenclaw | Gabrielle Delacour | Helena Ravenclaw | Isolt Sayre | Moaning Myrtle | Newt Scamander | Porpentina Goldstein | Oliver Wood | Percy Weasley | Regulus Black | Rufus Scrimgeour | Stan Shunpike | Ernie Prang | Viktor Krum

Muggles/No-Majs
Jacob Kowalski

Animals & Creatures
Aragog | Buckbeak | Kreacher | Dobby | Dre Head | Firenze | Grawp

Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry
Gryffindor | Hufflepuff | Ravenclaw

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