The 9 Greatest Moments in ‘Harry Potter’ Movies

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Based, as they are, on the event-filled conclusion of the "Harry Potter" series, the upcoming adaptations of "Deathly Hallows" are sure to be filled with awesome moments, like [SPOILER], and [SPOILER], and when [OMG SPOILER].

But in getting excited for the big finish, let's not forget that the six previous "Potter" movies have been chock full of great moments, so much so that it would be hard for anyone other than a master magician to narrow it down to nine. Good thing we brought our robe and wizard hat.

9. Harry Unleashes His Patronus, 'Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban' (2004)

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We'd seen Harry (Daniel Radcliffe) saved from Dementors by a magical white stag early in "Prisoner of Azkaban," but only later in the film would we learn that it was a time-traveling Harry who cast said evil-banishing magicks. And what a beast he unleashes!

Capable of knocking out a horde of ghouls, Harry's Patronus charm is unusual because of his young age, and demonstrates definitively that there might be more to this whole "Chosen One" thing than the stuff Harry did as a baby. It's also a nifty bit of time trickery… one that, unfortunately, the script feels the need to lay out in the barest possible terms in the very next scene.

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8. Harry Kisses Cho, 'Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix' (2007)

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One of the absolute best parts about the Potter series has been watching both the characters and the actors who play them grow up before our eyes, and no moment exemplifies this phenomenon better than Harry's (although, we hope, not Daniel Radcliffe's) first kiss. Delivered to the lips of the lovely Cho Chang (Katie Leung), it's a moment that tells everybody we're not in kids' territory any more… if, you know, all the Death Eating and Dark Lording hadn't done that already. But it's also a really beautiful, tender scene, delivered under a magically growing mistletoe in the shadow of Cho's dead ex-boyfriend, Cedric Diggory (Robert Pattinson). Pretty complex material for a story about a boy wizard.

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7. Fred and George Weasley Leave Hogwarts, 'Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix' (2007)

The Weasley twins (James and Oliver Phelps) were always bound for something different than the hallowed halls of Hogwarts, and when Dolores Umbridge (Imelda Staunton) embarked on her draconian reign, you knew these two pranksters were not long for their academic environs. Still, the way in which they ditched it was stunning in its audacity, full of awesome, colorful magic and what amounted to a big, fiery middle finger extended at authority in general, and the odious Umbridge in particular. Coming, as it did, in the midst of one of the franchise's darker installments, it was a breath of fresh air before Harry embarked down an ever more dangerous road.

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6. Gryffindor vs. Slytherin Quidditch Match, 'Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone' (2001)

There were a gaggle of "Ooh, it's awesome seeing that on screen for the first time" moments in "Sorcerer's Stone" but, for our money, nothing beats the rendering of Quidditch, the best fictional sport this side of Rollerball. Harry's debut as Seeker comes against none other than the hated, rule-shirking, and probably smelly House Slytherin, and it's a barn-burner full of fancy flying, brutal bludging, and a staggering feat of broom-borne derring-do by Harry in capturing the elusive Snitch. Quidditch would play a decreasing role as the film franchise progressed, but its appearance here made a serious impression on an entire generation of wanna-be wizards.

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5. Snape's First Class, Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone (2001)

Severus Snape would grow to become one of the most interesting characters in the Potterverse… but he starts out as quite simply the amalgamation of all the worst teachers you've ever had: smarmy, demanding, and out to knock Harry down a peg with his own special brand of disdain. And wow, does Alan Rickman nail his portrayal of this character, all the way down to the way he drips poison from every syllable of the phrase, "Our new celebrity." All of the Hogwarts faculty are well-acted in the films, but Rickman's Snape stands out as a model of how to make compelling a character we're meant to loathe.

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4. Dumbledore Drinks the Potion of Despair, 'Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince' (2009)

It would be easy to choose this film's most famous moment -- the (SPOILER ALERT) slaying of Dumbledore (Michael Gambon) by Snape -- as its most emotional, and it certainly is something "Potter" fans will never forget. But for our money, seeing the fatherly and always-powerful Dumbledore sacrifice himself nobly pales in comparison to seeing him reduced to a whimpering, spineless, helpless mess as he is forced to drink the dark potion that protects a cave's suspected horcrux. It's heartbreaking watching Harry forced to basically torture the one guy who's always stuck up for him, and watching Dumbledore devolve into weakness makes it feel like the bottom is dropping out of everything we've ever known about the series. Dark stuff.

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3. Harry vs. Voldemort, 'Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire' (2005)

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It took almost four full movies before we finally got to see the Potterverse's biggest bogeyman in the flesh, incarnated as a nose-less Ralph Fiennes. It was well worth the wait, as Voldemort immediately gets to the task at hand -- that being killing Harry. What follows is a harrowing scene of torture and torment for young HP, followed by a fairly gnarly wizard's duel in which Voldemort's Avada Kedavra curse and Harry's Expelliarmus spell cross the streams in a multi-colored fountain of eldritch power. Harry gets some last-minute help from a few friendly ghosts, but this all-to-brief duel was a thrilling preview of things to come.

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2. The Ministry of Magic Battle, 'Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix' (2007)

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We'd seen plenty of skirmishes up to this point in the series, but never had we witnessed an action scene like the climactic 20 minutes in "Phoenix." This one has a bit of everything: We get a desperate chase through the Hall of Prophecy, a full-on wizards' battle between the Death Eaters and the late-arriving good guys led by Sirius Black (Gary Oldman), the sudden, unceremonious and crushing death of Harry's godfather, and then, just when it seems like things can't get any more intense, we see Voldemort and Dumbledore, two of the world's greatest and most powerful wizards, in a duel that rocks the very foundations of the Ministry. And then we remember to breathe.

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1. Hermione's Hard Right, 'Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban' (2004)

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Oh, those wizards, with their dueling wands and their Wizard's Chess and whatever. They need to learn that, sometimes, a fist to the face is the best way to deal with a problem, and Hermione Granger's (Emma Watson) going to be the one to show them. If you saw everyone's favorite Hogwarts teacher's pet unload on the loathsome and boastful Draco Malfoy (Tom Felton), sending him scurrying away crying, and didn't feel a cheer rise in your heart, then you obviously have no soul whatsoever. It was at once an assertion of Hermione's power, an unleashing of wizardly frustration, and a demonstration that Malfoy's jibes and status would only take him so far in the face of real determination. As Ron (Rupert Grint) says, "Brilliant."

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