Snape’s Final Line Was Different In The Harry Potter Books (But The Movies Did It Better)

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Summary

  • Severus Snape’s final words were changed in the Harry Potter movies, but this alteration made the moment more impactful.
  • Snape’s death was significant in Harry’s story and revealed his secret connection to Lily Potter, which was foreshadowed subtly in his final moments.
  • The subtle and poetic reference to Snape and Lily’s connection in the book wouldn’t have translated well to the movie, so the line “You have your mother’s eyes” was added for a more impactful death scene.


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Severus Snape’s final words in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows were different from the book, but the movies managed to make the moment more impactful. The morally ambiguous character’s death was significant in Harry’s story and led to the reveal that Snape had been working to protect Lily Potter’s son all along. Though Snape’s Pensieve memories revealed the whole truth, his love for Lily was covertly foreshadowed in his final moments. However, the subtle nature of this would have been difficult to relay in the Harry Potter movies, so changes were necessary.

As was seen in Severus Snape’s memories in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, the Potions Master had been childhood friends with Lily Evans and had been directly responsible for her death. He had unknowingly passed on information to Lord Voldemort that placed the Potter family in the Dark Lord’s crosshairs, and to make amends for this, Snape vowed to protect the Boy Who Lived, even if it cost his life. Harry knew nothing of this for the majority of the Harry Potter series, but when he witnessed Snape’s death, he quickly realized that his teacher had been keeping a secret, and this was especially clear in the Deathly Hallows movie.

RELATED: Severus Snape Complete Life Timeline: Tragic Origin, School, Voldemort & Harry Potter

The Harry Potter Movies Added A Line For Snape’s Final Moments

Snape looking at Harry in Harry Potter

In the Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2 movie, Severus Snape spoke a line in the moments before his final breath that revealed his secret connection with Lily Potter. After instructing Harry to take the silvery memories captured in his tears, the dying professor begged the boy to look at him. Then, he delivered his final line: “You have your mother’s eyes.” This line wasn’t included in the book version of this scene, where “look at me” were Snape’s final words. Instead, the book subtly foreshadowed Snape’s connection to Lily in the text:

“Look … at … me. …” he whispered.

The green eyes found the black, but after a second, something in the depths of the dark pair seemed to vanish, leaving them fixed, blank, and empty. The hand holding Harry thudded to the floor, and Snape moved no more.

– Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows

The line, “The green eyes found the black,” was a subtle and poetic way of referencing the connection between Snape and Lily. It painted a tragically beautiful picture of Lily’s eyes layered over Harry’s—a final moment in which Severus Snape could see what he had given his life for. However, this simply wouldn’t have translated the same way to the Harry Potter movie. Without the power of words, the significance of Snape looking into Harry’s eyes would have gone unnoticed. In contrast, the line “you have your mother’s eyes,” something that anyone who had known Lilly frequently told Harry in both the books and the movies, ensured that Snape’s death in Deathly Hallows Part 2 didn’t lose its impact.

Snape’s Death Was Far More Brutal In The Harry Potter Books

Voldemort's snake, Nagini, in a scene from Harry Potter

Snape’s line change in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2 is an excellent example of how what works in a book won’t necessarily translate well on the screen. This is seen in other aspects of the character’s death as well. As a whole, Snape’s murder was far more brutal in the Harry Potter books. Though the movie saw the man slashed across the throat and attacked by Nagini, minimal blood was involved. Then, when Snape passed his memories to Harry, they were neatly collected in a single tear. This was far from how it went down in the source material.

In the book, Snape’s death was brutal, gory, and disturbing. As Harry “looked down upon the man he hated,” he was shocked at the immense amount of blood pouring from his many puncture wounds. Snape was described as emitting a “terrible rasping, gurgling noise” as he lay dying. Then, the silver memories began to “gush” from Snape’s eyes, mouth, and ears. Overall, the moment was supposed to be overly terrible. Harry had hated this man for so long, but it was a death that no one deserved.

Though impactful, a similar death would have been too much for the Harry Potter movie. The look of shock and sadness on actor Daniel Radcliffe’s face was enough to communicate his complicated feelings over Snape’s death, and such a gruesome display would have only distracted from the reveal that Snape had known Lily. In this way, both the Deathly Hallows book and movie did that specific moment perfectly for their respective formats.

Snape’s Final Line Was For The Best – But Other Changes Didn’t Work

Harry Potter Snape's death changed

The change in Snape’s final line and the overall gruesomeness of his death was better for the Harry Potter movie, but that isn’t to say that Warner Bros did the scene exactly right. The performances of actors Ralph Fiennes and Alan Rickman were remarkable, and the subtle game of cat and mouse between them was full of suspense and desperation. However, the scene was ruined beyond repair when Voldemort used the Elder Wand to slash Snape’s throat.

Voldemort used Nagini to kill Snape rather than casting Avada Kedavra because he believed the Elder Wand would not harm its proper owner. This rule of wand lore is precisely why Harry winds up winning their final battle in Deathly Hallows. Of course, Snape wasn’t the Elder Wand’s master, but Voldemort wouldn’t learn this until it was too late. So, the moment that the Death Stick successfully dealt Snape a fatal wound, Voldemort should have realized that it wasn’t loyal to his victim. So, despite the impactful changes made to Snape’s death in Harry Potter, the scene had some significant (and frustrating) problems.