He is arguably the most important character to the Harry Potter universe, and although initially portrayed as a villainous potions instructor, Professor Severus Snape holds within in him many secrets and much depth. Let’s take a snaking stroll through the mind of everyone’s favorite surprise hero.
23. A Major Player
Severus Snape is mentioned exactly 1,849 times throughout the run of the series. That’s a lot of mentions!
22. A True Dark Arts Master
So much of the series focuses on Snape’s ties to Voldemort and his disdain for Harry Potter, but this guy also has some serious magical skills. Snape invented (to just name a few) a nonverbal spell, Levicorpus, that can lift people up by their ankles, a counter curse spell to Levicorpus, and a violent spell that can slash through opponents called Sectumsempra. Uh, those definitely sound like dark arts to me.
Because of Snape’s double agent status, he’s described in a lot of unsavory ways by a lot of people: for example, “Snivellus” by Sirius Black, “Overgrown bat” by Professor Quirrell, and “Slimeball” by Peter Pettigrew, who is one to talk.
20. Kind Words
Even with all this name calling, Harry also later describes Snape as “The bravest man I ever knew.”
19. Getting Into Character
The late and great Alan Rickman had a hand in how Snape was portrayed on the big screen. Rickman determined the tightness of the sleeves, the number of buttons, and other critical features of Snape’s costume.
18. Something Is Missing
Despite Rickman’s involvement in Snape’s character design in the movies, there is one thing missing from the book: a goatee. In the series, Snape is always illustrated with some kind of beard, which is mysteriously absent from the films.
Snape is the only Death Eater who can conjure a Patronus, which is (of course) a doe, just like his love Lily Potter.
16. Fan Theory
There is a fan theory circulating that Snape is actually transgender. Once more, bring on the fanfic!
15. Soft and Greasy
The two words used most often to describe Snape throughout the books are “Cold” and “Dark.” Runners up include “Soft” and Greasy.”
14. A Jinxed Position
Snape, as we know from The Half-Blood Prince, was half Muggle. His mother, Eileen Prince, was a witch, but his father, Tobias Snape, was a regular, non-magical person.
13. Cut Short
Severus Snape was born on January 9, 1960, making him a Capricorn. He died on May 2, 1998; he was only 38 years old.
12. The Home of A Hero
Pottermore is the home base of Potter fans everywhere, and it continues to reveal fantastic tidbits about characters even now that the series has ended. One riddle contest revealed details of Snape and Lily Potter’s hometown, Cokeworth.
11. Snape Should Find Better Cologne
Rowling enjoys interacting with fans on Twitter and answering their questions about her series. When one user asked her what Snape smelled like, she replied with, “bitterness and old shoes.” Wow, what type of cologne was he wearing?
10. Little of Column A, Little of Column B
Some of the worst things Snape has done? He tried to have Harry and Ron expelled after the flying car incident in The Chamber of Secrets and he also, well, killed Dumbledore. But he did do good things: that killing thing was on the Headmaster’s orders, and he did once save Draco Malfoy’s life in The Half-Blood Prince.
9. Serving the School
Becoming headmaster at Hogwarts takes a lot of time and experience. That’s why it’s impressive that Snape held the title of headmaster at Hogwarts. His tenure was incredibly short, but his portrait still graces the grand office of historical Headmasters.
8. A Huge Easter Egg in The First Installment
When Snape approaches Harry Potter for the first time, the first thing he asks him is ” What would I get if I added powdered root of asphodel to an infusion of wormwood?” A fan translated the etymology and symbolism of the words, particularly using the language of flowers. Asphodel is a type of lily meaning “my regrets follow you to the grave” in Victorian flower language, while wormwood symbolizes bitterness and sorrow. The fan interpreted it as, “On Lily’s grave, I promise to protect you.” Deep, man.
7. Snape’s POV
Pottermore is the gift that keeps on giving. On it, there is a feature article that includes a summary of the Harry Potter books from Snape’s perspective, offering a differing view of the story about The Boy Who Lived.
Although Harry names his son Albus Severus after both Dumbledore and Snape, that’s not the only being named for Snape: In 2017, researchers discovered a new species of crab and called it Harryplax severus. Well, he is a pretty crabby guy.
5. Vampire Roots?
Many fans have felt that Snape is a vampire because of his demeanor, attire, and pale skin. Rowling has refuted this rumor, but that still hasn’t stopped fans from asserting this as a potential truth—and writing lots of fanfiction about it, no doubt.
4. Least Favorite Subject
Rowling wasn’t a huge fan of chemistry while in school. She hated it so much, in fact, that when she decided what subject Snape should teach, she settled on potions because of its resemblance to its scientific equivalent, and its conjuring of all the bad memories she had while learning the subject. While writing Snape, however, she found she actually did have some interest in the topic.
3. Death by Toenail
One of Snape’s weirder spell inventions? He created a spell (a hex really) that caused toenails to grow long incredibly quickly. Now what would you need that for?
When Rickman first took the role of Snape, the ending of the book series had not yet been revealed. The late Alan Rickman actually took one of Snape’s secrets to the grave. To help Rickman understand the depth of Snape’s role in the series, J.K. Rowling let him in on key information behind an important word she associated with the character: “Always.” That is, that Snape would actually always love Lily and would protect Harry for her. Rickman never revealed what Rowling told him—even after the conclusion of the movies. We only know now, after Rickman’s death, because Rowling let fans in on the secret.
1. Perfect Nomenclature
According to the English etymology dictionary, Snape means “to be hard upon, rebuke, revile, snub.” All of these words describe things Snape not only participated in but also sadly experienced.