Character developmentDraco serves as a literary foil to the hero, Harry Potter, and is loosely based on bullies Rowling encountered during her school days. Harry first encounters Draco's snobbish bigotry after their initial encounter at Madam Malkin's. Rowling uses the Malfoys to introduce themes of intolerance and bigotry into a setting where people are often judged solely by their blood lineage rather than their good character or accomplishments. Draco, adhering to his family's beliefs, thinks that Muggle-born witches and wizards, which he and other characters derogatorily describe by the epithet Mudbloods, should be denied a magical education. Harry's first impression that the Wizarding community is a "magical wonderland" is instantly shattered. Says Rowling, "[Harry] found out that many people in power in the wizarding world are just as corrupt and nasty as they are in our world."
Malfoy was originally named "Draco Spungen" in the earliest drafts of Philosopher's Stone. "Spungen" also appeared on her pre-canon class list, but it was crossed out and replaced with the surname "Spinks", while "Malfoy" was later added after the completion of the list. Philip Nel states that Malfoy is derived from the French phrase mal foi, meaning "bad faith." In an article published in 2002, Nilsen and Nilsen argue that "Draco" has connotations with draconian, and that his name starts with "mal", a French prefix for "bad" or "evil".
First three booksDraco Malfoy makes his first appearance in the series when he and Harry meet while being fitted for school robes at Madam Malkin's, a clothing shop in Diagon Alley. Not realising that the boy in the store is Harry Potter—a child whose parents were murdered when he was one year old by the powerful dark wizard Lord Voldemort—Draco engages him in (for him) polite conversation. Harry, however, is alienated by the arrogance of Draco, who asks whether the orphan's parents are "our kind" (pure-blood wizards). Draco then proclaims that "the other sort" (Muggle-borns) should not be allowed at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, because "they've never been brought up to know our ways". The two boys part without introductions, but meet again on the Hogwarts Express. After Draco ridicules Ron Weasley's family, Harry rejects his offer of friendship and their mutual antagonism is born. According to Rowling, Malfoy originally makes an effort to be Harry's friend because "it will be cool to turn up at the school being Harry Potter's friend, because Harry is so famous." However, Harry did not want Malfoy as a friend because he "has been so rude about Rubeus Hagrid and about Ron, who Harry likes so much". Barely touching Draco's head, the Sorting Hat places him into Slytherin, where he becomes an instant favourite of Potions teacher and Slytherin Head of House, Severus Snape. Draco attempts to get Harry expelled by tricking him into participating in a midnight wizard's duel after secretly informing Argus Filch in advance, but the plan fails when Harry evades Filch and safely makes it back to his dormitory.
In Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, Draco becomes the new Seeker for the Slytherin Quidditch team after his father, Lucius Malfoy, donates new, high-quality Nimbus 2001 broomsticks. When Hermione Granger comments that the Gryffindor players made the team through talent and not bribery, Draco responds by calling her a Mudblood. This provokes an immediate, violent response from all the Gryffindors present, except Hermione and Harry, who, having been raised by Muggles, do not know what the epithet means. Because of Draco's contempt for Muggle-borns, Harry, Ron, and Hermione suspect that Draco is the Heir of Slytherin, who has recently reopened the Chamber of Secrets. Harry and Ron disguise themselves as Crabbe and Goyle with Polyjuice Potion and infiltrate the Slytherin common room in an attempt to collect additional information, whereupon they realise that their initial suspicion about Draco is incorrect.
During Hagrid's debut as Care of Magical Creatures instructor in Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, the hippogriff, Buckbeak, attacks Draco after he fails to observe proper protocol while approaching it and insults it. He exaggerates the extent of his injury, giving Slytherin a chance to postpone their Quidditch match against Gryffindor until later in the year, and as an attempt to have Hagrid fired. Hermione slaps Draco when he mocks Hagrid for crying over Buckbeak's sentence. Draco, who implies that he is aware of how Sirius Black was supposedly involved in the deaths of Harry's parents, also taunts Harry about the impending threat of Black: "If it was me, I'd want revenge. I'd hunt him down myself."
Fourth and fifth booksAfter Harry is unexpectedly chosen as a Triwizard Tournament champion in Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, Draco shows off a "Support Cedric Diggory" badge to Harry, then presses it to replace that phrase with "Potter Stinks." When Malfoy says that he does not "want a Mudblood sliming it up" in reference to Hermione, Harry and Draco simultaneously fire off spells which ricochet and hit Goyle and Hermione instead. Draco also gives malicious and often false information about Harry and Hagrid to muckraking Daily Prophet journalist Rita Skeeter. When Draco attempts to curse Harry behind his back, the Defence Against the Dark Arts professor Alastor Moody (actually Barty Crouch, Jr in disguise via Polyjuice Potion) humiliates Draco by transforming him into a ferret and repeatedly slamming him against the ground. Draco is romantically linked to Pansy Parkinson, who attends the Yule Ball as his date.
In Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, Draco is named a Slytherin prefect along with Pansy. He gets Harry and the Weasley twins banned from the Gryffindor Quidditch team when they attack him during a postmatch brawl after Draco insults their families following Gryffindor's win over Slytherin. He later joins Dolores Umbridge's Inquisitorial Squad, with whom he plays an important part in the exposure of Dumbledore's Army. As the D.A. flees the Room of Requirement, Draco earns Slytherin fifty points after catching Harry, and helps hold several members captive in Umbridge's office, letting them free only after Ginny Weasley performs the Bat Bogey Hex. After his father and other Death Eaters are captured and sentenced to Azkaban following the events at the Department of Mysteries, Draco twice attempts to get revenge on Harry, but Snape and Minerva McGonagall thwart his first effort, and while returning home on the Hogwarts Express, Draco, Crabbe, and Goyle are transformed into giant slugs by a barrage of hexes cast by several D.A. members coming to Harry's defence.
Sixth bookBecause of Lucius Malfoy's arrest as a Death-Eater and fall from Voldemort's favor, Narcissa Malfoy and Bellatrix Lestrange visit Snape at his home to discuss a dangerous task that Voldemort has assigned Draco. Narcissa, deeply worried that her son will be killed in his attempt to complete it, begs Snape to make an Unbreakable Vow to aid Draco with this task and protect him at all costs, and if he fails complete his mission; he agrees.
Under the Invisibility Cloak, Harry, Ron, and Hermione follow Draco to Borgin and Burkes, a dark magic shop in Knockturn Alley. Draco threatens Mr Borgin about repairing one item and keeping another safe for him. Draco shows Mr Borgin something on his arm that Harry believes to be the Dark Mark, Voldemort's sign, though whether or not Harry is correct is never confirmed. (In the movie version Draco Malfoy shows Dumbledore the Dark Mark on his arm.) On the Hogwarts Express, Harry invisibly spies on Draco and overhears him discussing Voldemort's task with several other Slytherins. Draco knows Harry is present and, once alone in the compartment, immobilises him and breaks his nose. Harry is left stranded on the train until Nymphadora Tonks (Luna Lovegood in the film adaptation) rescues him. Harry spends much of the year trailing Draco's whereabouts on his Marauder's Map, but loses track of him once Draco enters the Room of Requirement. When Katie Bell is almost killed in Hogsmeade after handling a cursed necklace and Ron nearly dies by drinking poisoned mead, Harry suspects Draco is behind both attacks.
In this book, Draco is, for the first time since being introduced in the series, portrayed as having considerable initiative, ingenuity, and perseverance, and he is extensively using the Room of Requirement. However, unlike Harry, who could always rely on his friends' support and help, Draco mostly works alone, refusing to confide in or involve his own circle, which he treated more as underlings rather than as friends. This, and the realisation of what he is ultimately expected to do, nearly drives him to a nervous breakdown. When Harry walks in on Malfoy crying in Moaning Myrtle's bathroom, Draco attempts to cast the Cruciatus Curse. Harry is faster to the draw with an obscure Sectumsempra spell that he learned from the mysterious Half-Blood Prince's book. The spell cuts deep gashes into Malfoy's face and chest, resulting in severe blood loss. Snape, alerted by Myrtle's screams, swiftly arrives and heals Draco's cuts, then takes him to the hospital wing.
Near the conclusion, Draco ambushes and disarms a gravely weakened Dumbledore at the Astronomy Tower. Dumbledore calmly reasons with the frightened Draco and persuades him to reveal how he was, according to Voldemort's orders, to kill the headmaster through the cursed necklace and the poisoned mead. Malfoy reveals that he mended the broken Vanishing Cabinet in the Room of Requirement to act as a portal enabling Death Eaters to enter Hogwarts. Draco is hesitant to kill Dumbledore and he eventually lowers his wand. Snape arrives, dispatches Dumbledore himself and then flees Hogwarts with Draco in tow. As revealed during his confrontation with Dumbledore, Draco was an insecure boy incapable of committing cold-blooded murder and was forced to do Voldemort's bidding under the threat of his and his parents' deaths. Harry, who was horrified by the result of his duel with Draco in the bathroom incident, feels "the tiniest drop of pity mingled with his dislike" for his old rival.
During an interview in 2005, Rowling revealed that she enjoyed writing Draco in this book, and that the character "did a lot of growing up" as well.
Final bookThe Malfoys remain reluctant followers of Voldemort, who now uses their home as his headquarters; Draco passes out after witnessing Voldemort murder Muggle Studies professor Charity Burbage. Harry experiences occasional and disturbing visions of Draco being forced into performing Voldemort's bidding and feels "sickened... by the use to which Draco was now being put by Voldemort." When Harry, Ron, and Hermione are captured and taken to Malfoy Manor, Draco is asked to identify them, and though he clearly recognises them, he only ambiguously replies "It might be." During the successful escape from Malfoy Manor headed by Dobby, Harry overpowers Draco and captures his wand.
When Harry, Ron, and Hermione seek Ravenclaw's diadem in the Room of Requirement, Draco, reunited with Crabbe and Goyle, attempts to capture Harry alive. However, Crabbe defies Draco's orders and attempts to kill the trio by casting the deadly Fiendfyre; unable to control the spell, he dies in the blaze while the trio rescue Draco and Goyle. Draco, despite his often condescending and belittling attitude toward Crabbe and Goyle, grieves for his lost friend. During the Battle of Hogwarts, Draco is seen pleading with a Death Eater who seems intent on killing him. He is once again saved by Harry and Ron, the latter of whom actually punches Draco in the face under the invisibility cloak for attempting to appease the Death Eater.
At about this time, it is revealed through the Pensieve that Dumbledore had known he was dying after being cursed by Voldemort's ring. However, to spare Draco's soul from being forever tainted by committing murder, Dumbledore pre-arranged his own death with Severus Snape. Voldemort intended Draco to die in the attempt to kill Dumbledore so that Lucius would be punished for his failure to retrieve the prophecy from the Ministry of Magic.
Although Draco does not directly take part in Harry's final confrontation with Voldemort, he influences its outcome. After Harry is struck by the Avada Kedavra curse, Voldemort orders Narcissa to verify that Harry is actually dead. She detects his heartbeat, but she lies to Voldemort, knowing that she will be allowed to search for her son if the Death Eaters return to Hogwarts "as part of the conquering army." A plot twist reveals that Draco had unwittingly become the Elder Wand's master when he disarmed Dumbledore, even though Draco never actually possessed the wand. The wand's allegiance passes to whoever defeats its owner, so Harry, having taken Draco's wand at Malfoy Manor, became its new master; this prevents Voldemort from using its full power. In the end, it is Narcissa's lie to Voldemort concerning Harry's death that enables the Malfoys to narrowly avoid imprisonment in Azkaban.
EpilogueIn the epilogue, Draco has married and has a young son, Scorpius. Rowling revealed that Draco married Astoria Greengrass, the younger sister of his Slytherin housemate Daphne Greengrass.  Draco's hairline has receded, making his face look even more pointed. Though they are not friends, Malfoy has somewhat decreased his animosity toward Harry, and, upon seeing them at King's Cross station, gives a brief and curt but respectful nod to Harry, Ron and Hermione. 
Film portrayalTom Felton played Draco Malfoy in all of the Harry Potter movies. Prior to landing the part of Malfoy, Felton auditioned to play Harry and Ron. Having read more of the Harry Potter books, Felton reflects: "I have had input into Draco. If they give me a line and I don't think it is something he would say, I suggest changing it. They do listen to you and you do feel a part of it."
Felton contributed to premieres, articles and interviews, and received the Disney Channel's Kids Awards for Best DVD Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets on 22 September 2003. He also won the MTV Movie Award for Best Villain for his portrayal as Malfoy in the 2010 MTV Movie Awards.
Malfoy grew into one of the series' most popular characters due to Felton's performances and Felton quickly became synonymous with the character to many female fans, much to Rowling's dismay. "I'm trying to clearly distinguish between Tom Felton, who is a good looking young boy, and Draco, who, whatever he looks like, is not a nice man. It’s a romantic, but unhealthy, and unfortunately all too common delusion of girls...it actually worried me a little bit, to see young girls swearing undying devotion to this really imperfect character… I mean, I understand the psychology of it, but it is pretty unhealthy." Rowling has also noted that Malfoy "is certainly stylish in the film."
Outward appearanceDraco is a tall boy with a pale, pointed face, sleek white-blond hair, and stone grey eyes.
PersonalityDraco opts to attack his enemies through psychological warfare rather than by physical force. His elitist upbringing is often used as a weapon to belittle those less prosperous than himself, such as Ron Weasley. He also insults Hermione Granger's Muggle-born status by referring to her as a "Mudblood", a term that, as stated by Hagrid, is one not used in civilized conversations. As Rowling explained in 1999, "He's a bigot and he's a bully, and as I say, in the most refined sense, he knows exactly what will hurt people".
In a July 2005 interview, Rowling added that Draco, unlike Harry, never feels remorse for his actions: "I thought of Draco as someone who is very capable of compartmentalizing his life and his emotions, and always has done. So he's shut down his pity, enabling him to bully effectively. He's shut down compassion— how else would you become a Death Eater?"
Draco, as well as Dudley Dursley, was indoctrinated with his parents' beliefs. Rowling commented that "The moment Draco got what he thought he wanted, to become a Death Eater, and given a mission by Lord Voldemort, as he did in Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, reality finally hit him" because his dream was "so very different". Rowling also stated that there was a real moral cowardice in Draco, but that he was not wholly bad.
Magical abilitiesDuring the series, Draco is portrayed as a cunning, competent young wizard. In his second year, he successfully performed the Tarantallegra curse against Harry, a curse used by Death Eater Antonin Dolohov in book 5, and also cast the Serpensortia spell in the same scene, conjuring a serpent from his wand as Voldemort would do against Dumbledore in book 5, and Snape against McGonagall in the final book. His character further develops in the sixth book, in which he is among very few students able to reach the required level to take advanced potions. Draco also proved capable at Occlumency, which he learned from his Aunt Bellatrix. Rowling recalled a discussion with her editor about Draco having mastered Occlumency while Harry could not. The author said that this is due to Draco being someone "very capable of compartmentalizing his life and his emotions". Draco's wand is 10 inches precisely, made of hawthorne and unicorn hair, which Ollivander states that it is "reasonably springy".
When asked what shape Draco's Patronus Charm is, Rowling replied that, at least by the end of the sixth book, Draco was not capable of producing a Patronus as it is not magic routinely taught at Hogwarts.
FamilyThe Malfoy family is one of the few remaining pure-blood wizarding clans in the Harry Potter series, and among the wealthiest. The anti-Muggle editor Brutus Malfoy is their ancestor. Lucius Malfoy was a Death Eater during both wizard wars. He marries Narcissa Black and together they have one son, Draco, who is the first Malfoy family member introduced in the series. The Malfoys are related to the Black family through Narcissa (a first cousin of Sirius Black, Harry's godfather), which makes Draco a nephew of both Bellatrix Lestrange and Andromeda Tonks. Draco is also Nymphadora Tonks' first cousin through their mothers. Three of Draco's grandparents are identified: Abraxas Malfoy, Cygnus Black, and Druella Rosier. Abraxas died before the series begins and was a friend of Professor Slughorn. Draco is, therefore, the scion of two old magical families. The Malfoy home, Malfoy Manor, is an elegant mansion located in the western English county of Wiltshire. They were served by Dobby the house elf until the end of Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets.
The Malfoys are respected in the Wizarding world mainly from Lucius' influence with Hogwarts and the Ministry of Magic, gained mostly from his monetary donations to the Ministry and St Mungo's Hospital for Magical Maladies and Injuries, as well as from his post on the Hogwarts board of governors. However, he was removed from his position at the conclusion of the second book and imprisoned in Azkaban following the battle at the Department of Mysteries in Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix. Despite maintaining a respectable, but false, image before these events, some in the Wizarding world were previously aware that the Malfoys were devoted to Voldemort and the Dark Arts. Draco constantly uses his elite status and his father's name and influence to gain advantages and to threaten others. Lucius is also known to have used bribery and threats.
ReceptionIn an interview at the Royal Albert Hall, Rowling noted that boys liked to dress up as Malfoy a lot more than Harry, and that people are "getting far too fond of Draco", which she finds "a little bit worrying". In the same interview, Stephen Fry noted that just as Harry met Malfoy, he found out that there is also racism in the wizarding world and that many characters in power can be "as nasty and corrupt as in our world". Fry also noted that while "Malfoy, Goyle and Crabbe are almost irredeemably bad", Malfoy, unlike his companions, "is reasonably stylish".
In popular cultureWizard rock band Draco and the Malfoys' lyrics are inspired by the Harry Potter books but from Draco Malfoy's point of view. One chorus goes: "My dad's always there to open all my doors, you have to call a Patronus just to catch a glimpse of yours/My dad is rich, and your dad is dead." As well as Harry and the Potters, the members of Draco and the Malfoys dress themselves as Hogwarts students, in this case in Slytherin-themed costumes. The band is one of about 750 bands of young musicians playing music inspired by the Harry Potter series.
Draco is parodied as Jerko Phoenix in the series Wizards of Waverly Place, during the episodes "Wizard School Part 1" and "Wizard School Part 2", in which Alex and Justin Russo go to a wizarding school named Wiz-tech, where everyone wears yellow and black robes, and glasses reminiscent of Harry Potter. Draco also appears as Sacco (played by Shane Lyons) in the Harry Bladder sketches in All That, in which Harry Bladder and other students often encounter Sacco's mischief-making. He is also played by actress Lauren Lopez in the 2009 internet sensation, A Very Potter Musical and the 2010 sequel, "A Very Potter Sequel." He rolls around on the floor whenever Harry, Ron and Hermione are around in these plays and loves Wizards of Waverly Place and Zac Efron. He also has a secret crush on Hermione, which he reveals to Ron, and tells Hermione in the Sequel. He longs to transfer to Pigfarts. In the stage production Harry Potter and the Obnoxious Voice, Malfoy is seen interacting with Hagrid and a dementor.
Draco is also featured in the parody series Potter Puppet Pals, but unlike the other characters, he is merely a small puppet with a picture of his face as his head, and also being controlled and voiced by Harry. After Harry sings a song taunting Draco about the things he likes and also wrecking the character, he is destroyed by Harry when he puts "Draco" on top of a stove and turns it on, setting the puppet on fire.