The Wizarding World of Harry Potter is a vast one, and one that many people have sank their teeth into for over a decade. Ever since The Philosopher’s Stone came onto store shelves, we’ve been following it all the way through The Deathly Hallows. Along the way, we got a great sense on the rules of the Wizarding World and what it’s really about. We learned more about how the Ministry of Magic governed the use of the craft and what part Hogwarts had to play in all of it. We learned how various magical creatures functioned in this world as well as how they fit in with the larger story.
Since the main book series has ended, you would think that we would know pretty much everything there is to know about Harry Potter at this point, but that’s far from the truth. Rowling has consistently revealed more and more about her universe, and some things people have managed to discover on their own. The main point of this being is that there is so much more to know outside of the books. Some of these facts were kept under the covers, and for good reason, as they might have upset fans.
Regardless, we’ve compiled some information about the Harry Potter world that may shock you. The Wizarding World is full of dark secrets, and some are so twisted that Rowling wouldn’t even want you to know about them. That said, here are 15 secrets we discovered.
15. The Dementors Are Based Off Of Rowling’s Depression
When talking about the scariest creatures of the Wizarding World, you’d be a fool not to mention the Dementors. Introduced in The Prisoner of Azkaban, the Dementors feed off of the fear of others, and if they can get close enough to kiss you, you’ll be nothing more than a sorrowful individual with nothing left to live for. Often their presence is described as if people would never be happy again, leaving the entire world a bleak, cold place to live. Apparently, Rowling had some real-life inspiration for these creatures. There was a time when her mother passed away, which eventually pushed her to write her series, but led to her suffering from some severe depression. She wrote in the Dementors because they are her personification of her depression, which definitely explains how she was able to describe the feeling so vividly. She has long since beaten her depression, but just like the Dementors are always a scary thought in the Wizarding World, so too will her previous illness always haunt her. Congrats to you for coming out on top, Rowling.
14. Harry and Dudley Still Visit
The biggest aspect of Harry Potter’s life that made him so identifiable in the series was his living situation. For all intents and purposes, he was an underdog like many of us. Granted, most of our home lives aren’t as bad as his was, but it’s something we can all relate to at least one time or another. As he became a much more powerful wizard, this put him in direct confrontation with his cousin Dudley. It’s very clear from the start that they didn’t get along, mostly because Dudley was spoiled and Harry was treated like garbage. Eventually, the Dursleys had to leave their home at the beginning of The Deathly Hallows because Harry was being targeted by the Death Eaters. You would think that they’d never see each other after that. However, as Harry and Dudley both grew up and had children, they decided that they would still visit with each other from time to time. It wasn’t to catch up or anything, they allegedly only wanted their children to be able to meet. The two of them only sat in silence as they watched the kids.
13. Aunt Marge Loved A Man
It wasn’t just Dudley that caused Harry all sorts of problems. Dudley’s parents were equally as detestable if not more. Throughout Harry’s childhood they were constantly nasty to him and treated him very poorly- like he was some sort of demented freak. However, they were not the worst of the bunch. The worst one of that family was Aunt Marge. In the movies, she was present in the beginning of The Prisoner of Azkaban. She brutally belittled both Harry and his parents, to which Harry accidentally lost control of his magic on her. But every person has different sides to them, and Aunt Marge had to have a brighter side. When she was younger, she actually fell in love with her neighbor. The only problem with that was she could never get him to love her, because she was a very foul woman. He didn’t want anything to do with her. She even asked him to drown one of her bulldog puppies once. Because she could never succeed in romance, this only made her become a worse individual over time and potentially even took out her frustrations on poor Harry. Oh, the terror of it all is almost too much to handle.
12. Rowling Almost Killed Off Ron
Ron Weasley is one of the three main characters in Harry Potter, and we could hardly imagine the story without him. Often serving as the comic relief of the bunch, he brings a certain brightness that isn’t present within Harry or Hermione. In each installment, he even serves a function and is not there simply for the sake of being there. Despite this, we almost had to live in a Wizarding World that didn’t have Ron. No doubt this would’ve driven fans over the edge in a maniacal rage (because authors aren’t allowed to kill main characters I guess), so it’s obvious why Rowling eventually decided against it. She also stated that her reason for almost killing him was “out of spite”. Whatever that means is anyone’s guess, but I think I speak for the entire fandom when I say that we’re glad that Ron stuck around.
11. McGonagall’s History
I recently re-watched The Sorcerer’s Stone, and I noticed an interesting detail when Hermione shows Harry all of the Quidditch medals. The one on the far right has Professor McGonagall’s name on it, meaning she had to have played the sport years ago, correct? Upon some further investigation, I found this to be true. McGonagall was an excellent Quidditch player until an accident prevented her from playing in the future. That would certainly give her much more credibility when choosing Harry Potter as the seeker for Gryffindor.
Another interesting tidbit about McGonagall’s history is her love life. She had fallen in love with a Muggle, and the two shared a very deep connection. As their relationship progressed, this Muggle ended up proposing to her. However, she became scared because she feared never being able to tell her children who she really was. She ended up leaving for London to work in the Ministry of Magic and married an established wizard who died three years later. After that, she became very bitter, and decided to move to Hogwarts, where she has remained since then. People wonder why she was so understanding yet decisive, and she has a long history to back up her choices in life.
10. Arthur Weasley Was Going To Die Too
As if separating the Weasley twins or nearly killing Ron was bad enough, Rowling also had plans to kill off another member of the Weasley family. Arthur Weasley, while not a crucial member of the Harry Potter series, still served enough purpose and function in order to make a huge impact. As the books got darker and more serious, he managed to play a much bigger part in the story as a member of the Order of the Phoenix and employee of the Ministry of Magic. He fought alongside many other aurors when Lord Voldemort reared his ugly head. Like Ron, it would be hard to imagine a Wizarding World without Arthur, as he would be leaving a very large family behind. Apparently, the original plan for Order of the Phoenix was for him to die at the climactic battle in the Ministry, but he was later replaced with Sirius. This move was likely due to Rowling wanting to still make Harry’s life a living Hell, further motivating him to defeat Voldemort in the end, as well as challenging him not to sacrifice his morality. That’s not to mention that fans probably would’ve lost it if Arthur died as well.
9. Dumbledore’s Boggart
Dumbledore is a profound and magnificent wizard, but as the events of The Deathly Hallows unfolded, it was clear that he was not everything he said he was. There were many things that Dumbledore kept secret, and it’s not hard to imagine why. Growing up, he and Aberforth had a sister Ariana. When she was very young, she was playing with her magic when some Muggles noticed her. They then decided to assault her, which ended up with her not being able to control her magic. Their father tried to attack the boys that attacked her, but he was placed in Azkaban for his actions. Then Ariana eventually caused a magical incident that killed their mother, leaving Albus and Aberforth to take care of her. When Grindelwald showed up to contend with the Dumbledores, it resulted in a three-way battle. During this brutal fight, a curse was flung that accidentally hit Ariana and killed her on the spot. Since then, Dumbledore has lived with the guilt of seeing his sister die and inadvertently causing it. As a result, his boggart is the dead corpse of his sister Ariana. Probably a good thing he wasn’t there when Lupin was showing the creature off.
8. Ron Had a Potty Mouth
Oh Ronald, always finding room on these kinds of lists. Ron Weasley, while being much of the main characters’ comic relief, also had a tendency to be on the rough side with his speech. Using words like “bloody” and “hell” frequently gave him a bit of a dialectic vibe, which further personified his character. While some would argue that his speech was very vulgar, the reality is that he was originally intended to be much more foul. When Rowling first presented The Philosopher’s Stone, Ron used all kinds of colorful words that should probably put him on a boat sailing the ocean than a Wizarding school. The publisher told Rowling that they wanted many of the swear words to be left out so that the book could be marketed to more age groups, and Rowling agreed to this. You might think that it tainted the original intent for Ron’s character, but at the end of the day, this move worked for the benefit of the entire series. Some people would’ve stayed away from the franchise altogether if Ron had such a fine-tuned vocabulary.
7. Lice Outbreak
People today have an interesting way of freaking out about things that aren’t as big a deal as it seems. That being said, head lice is something that needs to be dealt with immediately and efficiently, and can greatly affect the movement of a project if it interferes. Unfortunately for the cast of the second Harry Potter movie, that’s exactly what happened.
This doesn’t have a lot to do with the Wizarding World itself, but is an interesting tidbit that I’m sure many actors’ parents were quite upset over. During the filming of Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, there was a horrible outbreak of lice that occurred on set. Due to the nature of head lice to cause a lot of panic, the producers hired a team of nurses on the set in order to get the entire mess cleaned up as it appeared. No doubt that there was a lot of relief among parents and family members when the lice was finally done away with, but it put many of the producers on high alert in the future so that they could prevent another incident of that magnitude. Now you’re going to try and look for actors scratching their heads in the film, aren’t you?
6. Stolen Flying Car
The flying car first appeared in Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets. It was a great way to showcase what could be done with magic as well as show Harry just how vast the world he has been invited into truly is. However, we all know how the story ends for the flying car. It eventually drops Harry and Ron off at Hogwarts before disappearing into the Dark Forest. When the duo goes to interrogate the giant spider Aragog, the car shows up just before they’re devoured by a whole brood of spiders. The car gets them outside of the forest, ejects them, and disappears back into the trees, and nobody’s really sure why. The shenanigans with the flying car didn’t stop with the movie either- they continued off set. There were a few models that were being used to shoot the flying car scenes, and one of them was somehow stolen. Police were quickly on the scene and found the car a few days later, albeit on the ground and not in a tree. Then the producers were disciplined by Snape for nearly exposing the Muggle world to magic and you can guess how it goes from there.
5. Quidditch Was Invented After a Fight
Being a writer myself, I can attest to some very interesting circumstances lead to some of my most creative moments. This is no different for Rowling either. As she was constructing her books, she was dating a fine young lad at the time. As most young couples do though, they wound up getting into a brutal fight. Apparently, Rowling went into a coffee shop after that and came up with the idea for Quidditch (that’s one way to deal with a bad conflict I suppose). While it’s unclear how in the world a fight like that would spur the creative engines, some subtle hints can be gleaned. After all, Quidditch is a very brutal sport and can lead to injuries of many players. Perhaps Rowling was thinking of a fair way of her boyfriend being hurt at the time? If that’s the case, then which Quidditch player do you think would represent him? Granted, this is all speculation but it is something to think about. What other events inspired other details in the story? Did she break up with that boyfriend on the spot? We may never know.
4. Radcliffe Was Allergic To the Glasses
There are two things that go along with Harry Potter: a lightning bolt scar and a pair of shoddy glasses. Any actor they considered for the role of Potter had to wear these glasses- no ifs, ands, or buts about it. When Radcliffe got the role, he naturally had to put on the trademark glasses, and realized something was amiss. He was actually allergic to the glasses; they made him break out in a severe case of acne. No doubt this was a very frustrating aspect of Radcliffe’s career, to which he eventually dealt with it. One can imagine the self-esteem problems that Radcliffe faced when he was constantly covered in skin blemishes and dealing with puberty at the same time. Furthermore, as he wore the glasses, many new ones had to be used throughout the movies because of technical issues, something broke, or whatever else might have come up. According to Radcliffe, they went through about 5,000 pairs of the Harry Potter glasses by the time the series was finished. All that work to wear a pair of lenses that you were allergic to? That takes some dedicated acting abilities.
3. Dumbledore Loved Grindelwald
On top of the many questions surrounding Dumbledore’s past, many wondered if he ever loved or found love growing up. After all, he seemed to be all alone by the time he was the headmaster of Hogwarts, but there has to be substance there. Rowling revealed that she always imagined Dumbledore as gay (which many people have expressed their displeasure over), but the question was always: whom did he love? The answer was Gellert Grindelwald, the man who dueled both Albus and Aberforth which resulted in the death of their sister. Grindelwald was the man in possession of the Elder Wand before Albus managed to disarm him. However, this provides an extra amount of gravitas to the story knowing that Dumbledore actually loved Grindelwald. That would make it all the more heart-breaking when the two had to end up fighting (because one went drunk with power), and then having it end with the death of his sister. That gives Dumbledore all the more reason to blame himself for the many tragedies of his past, and despite the fact that he holds the Elder Wand, still knows that it can’t be enough. Poor Dumbledore can never catch a break.
2. Rowling Feared One Question
When it comes to questions about the Harry Potter universe, Rowling has always been pretty open and honest. After all, she has a working knowledge of the world she created that goes beyond seven novels, eight movies, and a play. She knows the ins and outs. She knows the rules. She knows the motivations for each character and set piece. However, she eventually stated after the series was finished that there was always one question she desperately hoped that no one would ask her about the story: what was Dumbledore’s wand made of? It’s clear that she didn’t have a clear idea of that at the time, and it wasn’t until Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows that we knew it was made from the wood of an elder tree. Apparently, Rowling chose this because elder trees have a very common place in classic folklore, and considering she majored in Classics in college, the inspiration becomes quite clear. Despite her fear of a simple question, one has to give her credit over the years for being able to answer many inquiries people had about the series while still keeping many of the secrets to herself.
1. Stephen King Loved Umbridge
If Stephen King calls you up and says that you made a great villain, you’ve either done something very right or very demented. In Order of the Phoenix, Rowling introduced Dolores Umbridge, a Ministry employee who fulfilled the wishes of the government while still taking matters into her own hands, even if they were morally questionable. She was very famous for the pen that wrote in blood on someone’s arm (Harry’s phrase being “I must not tell lies.”). Later on Umbridge would also be in possession of a Horcrux, which Harry and his friends had to take.
After Order of the Phoenix came out, Stephen King published a review on it stating that he thought Umbridge was quite excellent. He went on to praise certain aspects of her, such as how her demeanor and love for all things pretty meshed together to create a truly twisted individual. While this is certainly a decent amount of praise from a well-established author, you can’t help but wonder what goes through King’s head when he appreciates the work a villain does. If you’re going for a memorable and detestable villain, then perhaps Stephen King’s praise is something you want. Kudos to you, Rowling.