Subtitles section Play video Print subtitles "Slytherin!" We talked in our last Harry Potter video about the defining characteristics of Slytherin. So in this video, we want to go a little bit further and give a defense of Slytherin house. Slytherin gets a bad rap. "Not Slytherin, not Slytherin..." This most misunderstood house in the Harry Potter series tens to be written off as mean, prejudiced, or just plain evil. “There's not a witch or wizard who went bad who wasn't in Slytherin.” But it's not really fair to let a few bad apples spoil our impression of the whole bunch. "Besides, the world isn't split into good people and Death Eaters. We've all got both light and dark inside us." And if you look closer, it starts to seem like the story itself is biased against Slytherin house. It's written from a very pro-Gryffindor point of view, and hello, Gryffindor is Slytherin's traditional rival. Imagine if the person who hates you the most wrote a book about you -- would you expect that to be fair? "We have a very different idea about what disgraces the name of wizard, Malfoy." It's kind of too bad though that this house isn't framed in a more nuanced way. Because if we look at the Slytherin qualities themselves, this house is arguably one of the more talented, interesting, and certainly the most complex of the four. So here's our take on why these folks have more to offer than they tend to get credit for. Before we go on, if you're new here be sure to subscribe and click the bell to get notified about all of our new videos. Outside of Harry Potter, Slytherin qualities are often presented as enviable. Before we get into some examples, first let's quickly recap. What makes someone a Slytherin, essentially? The defining characteristic is probably that Slytherins are strategists. They're single-minded and cunning in achieving their ends. "When I became the greatest sorcerer in the world." Because they're so driven, analytical and often very smart, they can achieve true excellence in their fields. They tend to be more cold and calculating, patient, rational and precise. They're pretty sensitive and image-conscious. They're often morally complex, with both dark and light sides. Thus they have the capacity to surprise us with drastic change and even rebirth. Now, let's take a look at a few other stories that frame strategy and cold-bloodedness as essential to any success. Michael Corleone in The Godfather -- calculating, rational, always in control -- is probably one of the most compelling Slytherins in cinema. "Fredo... he's got a good heart. But he's weak, and he's stupid. And this is life and death." Michael shows that coldness can be very attractive, "It's not personal, son. It's strictly business." and incredibly effective. "Don't tell me you're innocent, because it insults my intelligence. It makes me very angry." In Game of Thrones, all of the Lannisters would be Slytherins. They love power, and have a worldly understanding of how to leverage wealth. "Lannisters always pay their debts." Sure, Cersei shows the selfishness of a traditional Slytherin, "[LAUGHS] The people? You think I care?" and incidentally she happens to be one of the most fun characters to watch on the show. But Jaime shows the Slytherins' potential for moral complexity and change. And Tyrion -- even though he turns against his family -- is still very much a Lannister and by extension a Slytherin type. He's crafty, realistic, and logical. "I've been a cynic for as long as I can remember." He tries to rein in Daenerys' hot-blooded Gryffindor instincts with more calculating, worldly plans. "What kind of a queen am I if I'm not willing to risk my life to fight them?" "A smart one." We'd argue, that Marvel superhero Tony Stark would be in Slytherin. "Big man in a suit of armor. Take that off, what are you?" "Genius billionaire playboy philanthropist." He's ambitious, intelligent, morally complex, and, yes, narcissistic. "Textbook narcissism. Agreed." These traits don't make him a villain; they make him fascinating to watch and adored by fans the world over. "I am Iron Man." Dr. Strange is also a classic Slytherin -- he's hardworking, precise, cold, and a little full of himself, "Not only about me." "Stephen, everything is about you." yet in the end he's willing to make great sacrifices to do the right thing. "You will spend the eternity dying." "Yes, but everyone on earth will live." Billions is all about how you have to be a step ahead of your opponent to stay alive in the world of big money. "I don't lie to myself and I don't hold on to a loser." "The best way to bond with someone isn't doing a favor. It's asking for one." House of Cards and Scandal paint people who can't play crafty games as pretty much suckers. "You can't just fight the good fight. We live in a real world." In the worldviews of these shows, to refuse to play dirty in a corrupt world isn't heroic; it's dumb. "You're a fool, Donald. You always were. Principled? Idealistic? A champion for the people? What did you ever actually do? Nothing." Sound a little like the Slytherins talking about Gryffindors? "We Slytherin are brave, yes, but not stupid." Sherlock Holmes on the BBC's Sherlock might be a Slytherin, too. He's highly intelligent and strategic, of course, and he can also be distant, arrogant, and alienating. "According to SOMEONE, 'the murderer has the case.' And we found it in the hands of our favorite psychopath." "I'm not a psychopath, Anderson, I'm a high-functioning sociopath. Do your research." All of those characteristics help make up the unique genius he is. "Sentiment is a chemical defect found in the losing side." Eve Harrington in All About Eve comes across as somewhat villainous for her Slytherin-style ambition in her quest for fame. But the movie also implies this is pretty much what it takes to become a big star. "You'd do all that just for a part in a play?" "I'd do much more or a part that good." Going back to the classics, Edmond Dantès in The Count of Monte Cristo would be a textbook Slytherin -- he's dogged and meticulous in his plan for vengeance. "Don't rob me of my hate. It's all I have." Yet watching his scheme unfold is so satisfying -- because his targets very much deserve their punishment and as any Slytherin knows, revenge is a dish best served cold. "You'll serve your sentence in this world before you go to hell." Scarlett O'Hara in Gone with the Wind would fit into this house -- she's a cold-blooded realist, resourceful and single-minded in getting what she wants. "If I have to lie, steal, cheat or kill. As God is my witness, I'll never be hungry again!" Rhett Butler loves Scarlett's ruthless, plotting inner nature, but it takes her the whole story to accept that this is who she is -- essentially, a Slytherin -- and that her true love is Rhett, another Slytherin. "Because we're alike. Bad lots, both of us. Selfish and shrewd. But able to look things in the eyes as we call them by their right names." For so long, she prefers the idea of the noble-minded, placid Ashley, who'd perhaps be a Hufflepuff. "You'll never mind facing realities, and you'll never want to escape from them as I do." All these fictional characters work hard, apply themselves, and fight for what they care about. Likewise they see challenges in our society requires strategy and long-term planning. Yale Professor John Gaddis speaks about the concept of Grand Strategists -- people who shows an immense talent for strategizing -- like Otto von Bismark, Queen Elizabeth, FDR -- this capacity for Grand Strategy shown by the most influential world leaders of all time is completely a Slytherin thing. The reality is that the majority of politicians and powerful public figures need to be very cunning, calculating and image-conscious to get anything done at all -- "And that's why you need me, because I am willing to stare into the abyss beyond conventional morality and do what needs to be done." so it's safe to say that a lot of these people leading our world throughout history and today would be in Slytherin House. A big factor that plays against young Slytherins is that others expect the worst of them. And if everyone assumes that you're going to grow up to be an evil Death Eater, "Harry is under he impression that Draco Malfoy is now a Death Eater."