A prefect at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry was a student who had been given extra authority and responsibilities by the Head of House and Headmaster. One male and one female student were chosen from each house in their fifth year to act as prefects. They would continue to be prefects in their sixth and seventh years until they left school.
Thus, there were approximately six prefects per house and twenty-four prefects in the whole school at one time. Prefects could become Head Boy or Girl, and would still serve as prefect as well. Being a prefect didn't guarantee a student to become a Head Boy or Girl, in fact, the Head Boy or Girl did not have to have been a prefect at all.
The Weasley family was noted for having had several prefects among its sons — first Bill, then Charlie, then Percy, and finally Ron. Percy in particular was known to have been mercilessly persecuted by his brothers Fred and George, who once bewitched his Prefect's badge to read "Pinhead", and were once quoted by Ron as having "always said that only prats become Prefects".
Prefects were allowed to take House points away from houses, but they were not allowed to take points from other prefects. Prefects could give detentions as a form of punishment.
Prefects patrolled the corridors of the Hogwarts Express on the way to school, and attended a meeting in a special prefects' carriage where they were instructed by the Head Boy and Girl. They also patrolled hallways to ensure that other students were not breaking curfew. There was a bathroom with a large, pool-like bath on the fifth floor of Hogwarts Castle that was reserved for prefects, Quidditch captains, and the Head Boy and Girl. It was located at the fifth door to the left of the statue of Boris the Bewildered. The only known password to this bathroom was "pine fresh", which was used during the 1994–1995 school year.
Prefects had other responsibilities as student leaders. They showed the first years the way to their dormitories on their first day of school at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, and supervised the decorating of the castle for Christmas (and presumably other events as well). They also watched the younger students when bad weather kept them indoors over break times.
Once a student became a prefect, they had a better chance of becoming Head Boy or Head Girl; however, a student was not required to earn the former honour in order to earn the latter. This fact was exemplified in the knowledge that Remus Lupin was a Gryffindor prefect, but James Potter was later appointed the Head Boy.
Prefects were given a badge; the colours were the colours of the prefect's House and/or silver, They were supposed to wear the badge on their school uniform. The badge would have the letter "P" on it, while the Head Boy's badge would have "Head Boy" on it, and the Head Girl's with "Head Girl". If the prefect was on his or her house Quidditch team, he or she would not be required to wear the prefect badge on their Quidditch robes.
Hermione Granger was a sensible prefect, and took the role very seriously. Ron Weasley was a little less serious about it, to the point of neglecting several rules. In fact, he was extremely surprised to be chosen as a prefect, as he expected Professor Dumbledore to choose Harry. Dumbledore thought Harry would have too much on his mind and gave it to Ron instead. Ron received a letter from his brother Percy, stating that Ron might risk losing his badge by associating with the apparently dangerous Harry Potter. This seems to imply that if the prefects crossed a certain point of abusing their powers, they could have their position revoked.
Draco Malfoy and Pansy Parkinson abused their positions greatly, to the annoyance of Hermione Granger, by being uncharacteristically harsh towards first years and deducting points from students who did not strike their favour. In his sixth year, Draco ceased to live up to his prefect duties any further, in preference of his Death Eater mission of assassinating Albus Dumbledore, as he did not even show up to the Prefects meeting on the train. This could mean that students had the right to reject the position of prefect any time they desired, or that Draco was given sanctions for rejecting his obligations.
Behind the scenes
- There was some confusion about the point-taking ability of prefects after the original release of Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix. It had previously been stated in Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets that prefects could dock points, but in a scene in the first printing of Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix Ron Weasley, Ernie Macmillan, and Draco Malfoy all either state outright or imply that prefects are not allowed to take points. This was pointed out as a mistake, and subsequent printings had a slightly different version of the dialogue, making it clear that prefects can take points, just not for actions other prefects have done.
- Quidditch captains are given similar rights as the prefects, like the password to the prefect's bathroom, but are not allowed to dock points.
- In 1994, Harry Potter first experienced using the prefects' bathroom on the fifth floor of the Hogwarts Castle. Despite the fact that he didn't have the privilege at that time, Cedric Diggory, a Hufflepuff prefect, gave him the password and permission to use it prior to the second task of the Triwizard Tournament.
- In the film adaptation of Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, the subplot of Ron and Hermione being made prefects is dropped, and is likewise omitted from the film adaptation of Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince.
- In the film adaptation of Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, Nathan Lubbock-Smith portrays a prefect of an unidentified house.
- It is also unclear as to who has the power to appoint a Prefect, the Head of House or Headmaster. It is likely that a Head of House nominates students they would like to be their house Prefects and the Headmaster simply approves or disapproves this. Alternatively, the Headmaster may offer their advice on the choice to the Head of House, which can be followed or not.
- It is unknown if the prefect system exists in other wizarding schools as well.
- In the video game adaptations of the first three books, prefects have a special shawl-like garment added to their school robes in the primary colours of their respective houses with the secondary colours being the trimming; Red trimmed with Gold for Gryffindor, Green trimmed with Silver for Slytherin, Blue and Silver(silver being the colour used in place of bronze for the films) for Ravenclaw, and Purple trimmed with Yellow for Hufflepuff(this is an odd case, because in the books and films, Hufflepuff's colours are Yellow and Black, but the video games swapped the black for the colour purple, and for some strange reason, Purple is treated as the primary colour with Yellow as its secondary).
- Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone (First appearance)
- Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone (film)
- Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone (video game)
- Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets
- Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets (film)
- Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets (video game)
- Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban
- Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban (film)
- Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban (video game)
- Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire
- Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix
- Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince
- LEGO Harry Potter: Years 1-4
- LEGO Harry Potter: Years 5-7
- Wizarding World
- Harry Potter: The Character Vault
- Harry Potter: Hogwarts Mystery
Notes and references
- Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, Chapter 21 (The Eye of the Snake)
- Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone, Chapter 7 (The Sorting Hat)
- Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, Chapter 9 (The Woes of Mrs Weasley)
- Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, Chapter 37 (The Lost Prophecy)
- Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban Chapter 14 (Snape's Grudge)
- Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, Chapter 10 (Luna Lovegood)
- Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, Chapter 7 (The Slug Club)
- Writing by J.K. Rowling: "Professor McGonagall" at Wizarding World
- Harry Potter: Hogwarts Mystery, Year 5, Side Quest "Crushed"
- Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone (video game) - GBA version
- He appears as a Gryffindor male prefect during Harry's first three years in the video games. However, according to the books, only one prefect of each gender in each house is chosen each year, and Percy Weasley is already the Gryffindor male prefect in 1991-1994. Due to this, he could canonically only be a prefect during either Harry's first or third year but not both, but it is unclear which one. There is also the possibility he had to repeat a year, although it is unlikely considering he was a prefect and prefects are usually among the best students of the year.
- Harry Potter: Wizards Unite (see website)
- He was a prefect when Gabriel Truman was a third-year. Gabriel Truman was a prefect in at least the 1991–1992 school year. This means the very earliest point at which he could have been a prefect was in 1985-1988, which is if Gabriel Truman graduated in 1992 and he was four years above him. The very latest possible time for him to be a prefect is 1989-1992, as this would mean Gabriel Truman was a fifth-year in 1991-1992 and the unidentified prefect was a fifth-year in his third year.
- Sam Morris's profile on Casting Call Pro
- Sam Morris's profile on StarNow
- Harry Potter: Hogwarts Mystery gives players the opportunity to become a prefect regardless of the player's house and gender. However, if Jacob's sibling is a Gryffindor male, they cannot canonically be a prefect as Charlie Weasley was the Gryffindor prefect at that time.
- The PS2 version of Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban has at least 21 male prefects of unknown houses all attending Hogwarts at the same time. However, according to the books, there can only be 12 male prefects at once (3 of each house). As Percy Weasley, Cedric Diggory and Marcus Turner are already known prefects at the time, only up to 9 of these characters being prefects can be considered canon, and it is unclear which ones.