When comparing the medieval and often barbaric battle for the Iron Throne in HBO’s Game of Thrones and the children’s magical storyline of the Harry Potter series, it can seem like the two are worlds apart. While one is filled with Red Weddings and beheadings, the other features everything a child could ask for like magical candy and wands. However, an in-depth look at parallels in the storyline and behind-the-scenes tidbits of information shows an astounding similarity between these two incredible series.
While it’s common knowledge that they are both screen adaptations of a hugely popular book series, the Harry Potter series is unique in that it is a children’s story geared towards adult readers. The same can’t be said for George R. R. Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire, since it would be difficult to tuck your kids into bed with tales of brothel orgies and trials by combat.
Although it’s true that the Harry Potter series became much darker as the story progressed, it definitely never reached the same shock factor as Game of Thrones. Yet, there seems to be far more similarities between the two than there are differences. From actors that portrayed characters in both Harry Potter and Game of Thrones to similar character attributes, it’s interesting to see how both storylines and screen adaptations have much in common. Check out our list of the 15 most astounding connections between Harry Potter and Game of Thrones, and you might be surprised at how closely the two stories mirror one another.
15. Actor Swap Out
While it isn’t unheard of for a film or television series to swap out different actors, it can be a bit tricky when the characters are prominent in the storyline. Game of Thrones is notorious for this, since they’ve swapped out multiple characters over the years. The Mountain has actually been portrayed by three different actors, and even Daario Naharis was swapped out in the fourth season. Previously played by the long-haired hunk, Ed Skrein, he was replaced by a totally different looking actor, Michiel Huisman. Skrein reportedly gave up his Naharis TV role for a part in a feature film, and producers decided not to cast a Skrein look-alike to fill his spot. However, it’s not just actors that quit their recurring TV roles for bigger and better things that create character swaps. In the Harry Potter film series, Albus Dumbledore was a huge part of the storyline, and was played by Richard Harris in the first two Harry Potter films. If fans thought he looked a bit different in the rest of the films in the series, it’s because he was swapped out for actor, Michael Gambon. In this case, it was because Harris had passed away prior to the taping of the third Harry Potter film and producers were forced to find a replacement.
14. Animal Characters
One thing that many people don’t realize in both the Harry Potter and Game of Thrones series is the astounding number of animals used during production. The Harry Potter film series required an entire animal productions team to team and coach the wide variety of animals used in the 8 films, from the more than a dozen rats that played the role of Scabbers to the 9 different Neapolitan Mastiffs that stood in to play Hagrid’s dog. Game of Thrones also has a veritable zoo during filming, since many of the animals used in the series are actually on loan from a real-life farm in Ireland. On top of the fact that both Harry Potter and Game of Thrones use an abundance of animals to help tell the story, many of the animals are similar to one another. From the ravens delivering messages in Game of Thrones to the owls delivering messages in Harry Potter, it seems like even the animals have their special duties in both storylines. Yet, perhaps the biggest similarity in the animals is the fact that both storylines contain dragons. Dragons were a huge aspect of the Triwizard Tournament in Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, and obviously they are a huge part of the storyline surrounding Daenerys Targaryen in Game of Thrones.
13. Use Of Special Effects
While it’s true that Hollywood seems to have the power (and money) to invent almost anything, they haven’t yet been able to find an actual broom with the ability to soar through the air. In fact, you might be surprised at how many of the elements in the Harry Potter film series were created through the use of special effects and computer generated imagery. Although there were many elements that were real, like the hand-crafted wooden Goblet of Fire and the thousands of custom leather-bound books in Dumbledore’s office, the majority of fantasy elements in the series were created through special effects. The same is true for the Game of Thrones series, since there obviously weren’t any real dragons that the characters could interact with. Instead, the actors had to act alongside stuffed puppets with green-screen material to pretend that they were interacting with dragons. When Harry Potter was riding on his magical broomstick, he was actually just sitting on a mounted broomstick in front of a green screen. It became pretty amusing when blooper reels were released with the Harry Potter and Game of Thrones characters having to pretend they were actually flying or reacting to different characters that weren’t actually there.
12. Giant Characters
Both Harry Potter and Game of Thrones were late to introduce true giants into the series, with Game of Thrones waiting until Jon Snow traveled beyond The Wall and Harry Potter waiting for the fourth film in the series. However, both were quick to introduce larger than life characters like Game of Thrones’ The Mountain and Harry Potter’s Hagrid character. Even Hodor had a scene in Season 1 of Game of Thrones where it was referenced that he may have giant’s blood in him due to his extra large size (in more ways than one). Harry Potter’s Hagrid character was said to be a half-giant, but audiences were introduced to his half-brother, Grawp, in Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix. Grawp may not have looked like the giants seen in Game of Thrones, but that was probably due to his much younger age. In the meantime, there was a similarity in the simplicity of their mindset. Wun Wun may have been a fierce fighter in Game of Thrones, but he definitely didn’t seem like the best conversationalist. It’s interesting that both series portrayed giants as brutish in their communication skills, but with a huge likability factor.
11. Swords With Mystical Powers
The swords in Game of Thrones are practically characters in their own right, with the more prominent weapons having their very own names. Yet, it’s not just their look and size that make certain Game of Thrones’ swords stand out. Dated back to before the destruction of Valyria, Valyrian steel, a specific form of metal with a distinctive ripple pattern, is significantly stronger than regular steel and has the mystical ability of being able to kill White Walkers with a single swipe. The ability to defeat something that is seemingly indestructible may ring a few bells for Harry Potter fans, since it’s very close to the sword of Gryffindor’s ability to destroy Horcruxes. The sword of Gryffindor had an equally ancient history and was forged by magical goblin metalworkers that made it enchanted. To give an even more striking similarity, Godric Gryffindor’s name is engraved on the sword, beneath the hilt. This sword has been a prominent part of the Harry Potter film series, ever since Harry used it to slay the Basilisk in the Chamber of Secrets.
10. Fascination Over Purebloods
The world of Game of Thrones is very much tied to the idea of blood lineage. The eldest male (or females in some houses) becomes the heir to their house, inherits their land, and gains the prestigious title. The aspect of blood lineage is integral in the claim over the Iron Throne, with the Targaryens wedding brother and sister for hundreds of years to keep the bloodlines pure. When King Joffrey took his reign over the Seven Kingdoms, he set out to ensure there would be no opposition to his blood claim to the throne by killing off the bastard offspring fathered by King Robert Baratheon. This hatred towards non-pure bloodlines also can be seen in the Harry Potter series, since the latter films started to show aggression towards anyone with muggle blood. The Ministry of Magic actually had a giant statue depicting a giant pillar crushing “mudbloods” beneath it, and there was an inquiry to weed out anyone with muggle blood.
9. Stannis Baratheon’s Son Is The Dark Lord
Stannis Baratheon, played by actor Stephen Dillane, didn’t have many fans rooting for him to take the Iron Throne in Game of Thrones. Even his own brother in the series stated, “He inspires no love or loyalty. He’s not a king.” Stannis may have embraced Melisandre’s Lord of Light, but he was still one of the darkest characters on the series. So, it shouldn’t come as a surprise that his real-life son was The Dark Lord. Dillane’s son, Frank Dillane, is the actor that played Tom Riddle in Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince. It seems that the apple truly doesn’t fall far from the tree, since both father and son were able to capture the dark nature of their characters with such ease. It’s interesting to make the character connections, since Stannis quickly turned to blood magic to help his pursuit to sit on the Iron Throne and Tom Riddle also turned to blood magic to bring his Lord Voldemort persona back to life.
8. Ian Whyte Really Cashed In
Ian Whyte was an actor that proved his diversity in character portrayals during his time on Game of Thrones. He played 4 different characters throughout all six seasons of the series. He played a White Walker, Gregor Clegane, Dongo, and Wun Wun. His athleticism and ultra large size made him the perfect candidate to play a giant, and easily took on the role as The Mountain. This incredible size came in handy when he was cast in Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, since he actually portrayed Olympe Maxime in all of the full-body shots of the half-giant. It couldn’t have proved his diversity any further, since he was playing the Headmistress of Beauxbatons Academy of Magic. It’s actually quite amusing that he could go from playing a buxom female in flurry ensembles in Harry Potter to playing a fierce wildling in Game of Thrones. Yet, Whyte doesn’t seem to have a problem with having to prove his masculinity, since he also did stunt work on both Game of Thrones and Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 1.
7. Dumbledore’s Brother Is The King-Beyond-The-Wall
Ciarán Hinds is the actor that plays Aberforth Dumbledore, Albus Dumbledore’s brother, in the Harry Potter series. Hinds also played Mance Rayder in Game of Thrones as the King-Beyond-The-Wall. However, their characters actually had a lot in common since Rayder was a bit of a black sheep in his own right. Leaving the Night’s Watch, Rayder found his own path in life, much like Aberforth Dumbledore. While his brother became Headmaster at Hogwart’s, Aberforth stayed out of the limelight for the majority of his life. Yet, he was a huge force to be reckoned with once the true fight against the Dark Lord was brought to his front door. The same can be said about Mance Rayder, since he was gearing up for the wars to come. Both characters built their own army against the evil forces of their worlds, and both were highly respected by all parties involved in their respective storylines.
6. Catelyn Stark Is Hermione Granger’s Mom
Actress, Michelle Fairley, may have started out in Hollywood with a bit of a slow start to mainstream audiences, but she definitely made her mark on Game of Thrones’ fans. Portraying Catelyn Stark, she became instantly recognizable on the red carpet due to her compelling performance as the mother to the Stark children. Yet, this wasn’t the first time she played a mother in a hugely popular series, since she also played Hermione Granger’s mother in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 1. She had a tiny and seemingly insignificant part, but it was definitely interesting to know that she played a mother in both Harry Potter and Game of Thrones. What’s even more interesting are the other character connections in both these two series, since the actor that played Walder Frey in Game of Thrones also played Argus Filch, the caretaker at Hogwarts. So, basically the caretaker at Hogwarts killed Robb Stark’s mom, or Walder Frey killed Hermione Granger’s mom, whichever way you want to look at it.
5. A Trip Through Time
In Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, Hermione Granger was using a Time-Turner to travel back in time to attend more classes than her schedule would allow. While this seems harmless enough, she gave it more purpose when she later traveled back in time to save Sirius Black and Buckbeak. They made sure not to be seen, since “Awful things happen to wizards who’ve meddled with time.” In Game of Thrones, the Three-Eyed Raven brought Brandon Stark back in time to show him some of the actual events from the past. When Bran tried to call out to his father during one of the time traveling adventures, it seemed that he could actually change history even though he was told, “The past is already written. The ink is dry.” Now that Bran is the Three-Eyed Raven, perhaps he will use his new time-traveling ability to go back in time and change things the way Granger and Potter did in the Harry Potter series.
4. Ability To Warg
The ability to “warg” in Game of Thrones is defined as, “the ability to enter the minds of animals and perceive the world through their senses and even control their actions.” This is a prominent attribute of House Stark in George R. R. Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire book series, and is touched on in the HBO television adaptation. There have been a few characters that have exhibited this ability on the show, including some wildlings that have warged into birds to act as lookouts beyond The Wall. The Harry Potter series has a similar warging ability, but in a slightly different manner. Instead of leaving their lifeless body vulnerable as they change into their animal form, Harry Potter characters actually transform into the animal they possess. From Professor McGonagall’s ability to transform into a cat to Peter Pettigrew’s ability to transform into a rat, there is a definite connection between these two storylines in their ability to inhabit the mind and form of an animal.
During a particularly difficult situation for Bran Stark, he realized his ability to skinchange into another human being. The ability to embody Hodor’s mind definitely came in handy on more than one occasion, since Bran’s own body was crippled since falling from the tower in Season 1. When he used this ability in front of Jojen Reed and his sister, everyone seemed in complete shock since there was no one in all the Seven Kingdoms that has the ability to warg into another human being. Just as it came in handy for Bran, the ability to skinchange has come in handy for many of the characters in Harry Potter. While it may be unique to the Bran character in Game of Thrones, anyone can have this ability in the Harry Potter world if they can conjure up some Polyjuice Potion. It isn’t exactly the same thing, since the potion doesn’t allow for someone to take over another’s body. Instead, the potion allows a person to completely embody the look of another person. Barty Crouch Jr. used it to disguise himself as Alastor Moody, but it was Harry Potter, Hermione Granger, and Ron Weasley that truly made the most out of this potion. They used it many times throughout the film series, and probably couldn’t have managed to ultimately defeat the Dark Lord if it weren’t for this skinchanging ability.
2. Use Of Blood Magic
While it’s obvious that the use of magic comes into play in Harry Potter, it’s important to note that Game of Thrones has a number of equally magical elements throughout the storyline. If you can’t make the connection between magic and the existence of dragons, then there are still a number of other magical features practiced by some of the characters in the Game of Thrones series. Mirri Maz Duur used blood magic when she offered Drogo’s horse up as a sacrifice while trying to keep him alive, and Melisandre used blood magic when she burned leeches filled with King’s blood to further Stannis’ claim to the Iron Throne. Harry Potter may have been a children’s story, but it didn’t shy away from depicting the dark arts and even used blood magic to help bring Lord Voldemort back to life. With a drop of Harry Potter’s blood and the blood sacrifice of Peter Pettigrew, Lord Voldemort was fully resurrected. This is interestingly similar to how Game of Thrones resurrected some of its characters back from the dead with the help of some sorcery of its own.
1. Murderous Blonde Kid
When Harry Potter began his first day at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, the characters were all still so small and adorable. Little Hermione Granger was a pint-sized version of her now-glamorous self, and even Draco Malfoy looked super cute as the blonde-haired little brat from Slytherin House. The same can be said about the child actors in Game of Thrones, since audiences practically watched all of the children from House Stark and Lannister grow up in front of the cameras. There are actually quite a few comparisons that can be made between the blonde-haired Draco Malfoy and the golden-haired, Joffrey Baratheon. Both were entitled children from a prominent house, and both became increasingly murderous as they aged. While Draco wasn’t openly calling for beheadings and killing prostitutes during his downtime, he wasn’t exactly doing charity work either. Draco attacked numerous kids throughout the Harry Potter series, including Hermione Granger, and he was in on the plot to kill Albus Dumbledore. Both actors became hugely hated by fans of the series, and both seemed to grow more evil as the series progressed.