*can't believe there hasn't actually been a thread about him*
Well, I'm not really sure about Stan's history. Harry describes him as a teenager. Do you think he's fresh out of Hogwarts at that point? Maybe trying to make some money, and then never leaving? I think he's still there in OotP, isn't he?
Or do you think maybe he dropped out of Hogwarts? Failed his OWLs, perhaps? He doesn't seem to be the sharpest knife in the toolbox, if you know what I mean ...
So, yeah, if someone could speculate about his history for me, that'd be great.
Harry saw "the strangely blank face of Stan Shunpike" and assumed that he was imperiused.
We don't know for certain, but Harry's guesses about the Dark Arts are usually pretty good.
ps that's weird, I've answered a question before it was asked.
Hogwarts works like UK schools in many ways. OWLs = GCSEs and NEWTs = A Levels.
Kids can (and many do) leave school at 16. I suspect that Stan was one of those kids who left Hogwarts with only a couple of Acceptable OWLs to his name, and several Poor and Dreadful results.
We know that most professors require their NEWT level students to have at least Exceeds Expectations (McGonagall & Slughorn) or Outstanding (Snape) - though Snape does not apply that to hie year as DADA teacher (possibly because, if Hermione only got an "E" he'd only have had harry in his class).
Stan isn't the brightest, but he's found himself a job (albeit a dead end job). Some kids fail because they are lazy, and some because they are - less able - is probably the polite way to put it. I don't think that Stan is lazy.
JKR likes to play with names, and Shunpike does not appear to be a genuine UK surname (Pike is).
Shun means: keep away from, avoid, fear.
Pike is a fish, or a very long spear or (slaps forehead in realisation)
A Pike, or Turnpike is an ancient highway on which tolls were collected. The knight bus delivers witches and wizards to their destination by avoiding the roads, shunning the pikes.
Stan is doing the job JKR named him for.
Not sure if this helps.
I never really understood whether Stan is a Death Eater or not.
I know Harry is angry with Scrimgeour in HBP because he doesn't release him, and can't believe that Stan would be capable of being involved in the Dark Arts.
However, if I remember correctly, in DH when they fly to the Burrow get chased by Voldemort and the DEs, Harry sees a mask or hood or something fall and it appears to be Stan underneath.
Does anyone have an explanation for this? Was Harry simply wrong about Stan or was he imperiused?
Also, the Minister for Magic at the time (I can't spell his name) pretty much straight up said it when Stan got put into Azkaban and he comes for Harry's support, and Harry says, is Stan still in Azkaban. There he says its better that the people think they are actually getting Death Eaters than having to release people who aren't actually Death Eaters.
Harry notices that there's something funny with Stan's eyes during the flight from Privet Drive, I can't rememeber exactly what. This suggests that Stan has been put under a spell to do the Death Eater's work, whether it be the Imperius Curse or something else. That's why Harry only Disarms rather than Stuns him.
In HBP, Stan got arrested for supposedly talking about Death Eater plans, and I think it's probably along the lines of Ron's suggestion; he was trying to big himself up and make himself more important than he actually is. Just like he does in GoF with the Veela. Voldemort definitely would not want someone like Stan, who is a huge risk to his secrecy because he gossips all the time, and isn't all that bright, in his ranks, unless he were cursed. The Ministry of Magic would know this, they would have seen what sort of person Stan was when they questioned him and probably realised he had no idea what the Death Eaters plans was and that Voldemort wouldn't want him; Mr Weasley says as much. But the Ministry wants to look like it's doing something to keep the people's moral up, so they keep him locked up. I'm guessing that when Voldemort took over the Ministry, he decided to put him under the Imperius Curse, or something.
Thus, probably not a Death Eater, just cursed into doing what Voldemort wanted.