At first it was just a little children’s (well “Young Adult” is the marketing phrase) book called Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone that came out with little fanfare in 1997. It was written by an entirely unknown author and seemed, at first glance, to be the sort of run-of-the-mill children’s fantasy that winds up in the remainder bins a month after publication. But it caught on somehow and started selling. And selling and selling. Sequel after sequel followed and when the dust had settled, that unknown author known as J.K. Rowling was a world-wide name and the books had become the biggest selling series in history- to the tune of 500 million copies sold. Just in case that number doesn’t make you sit up and take notice get this little nugget…they’ve been translated into 73 different languages. That means people from Armenia to Zimbabwe are reading Harry Potter– probably right now.
But was the phenom over with the publication of the last book in 2007? Of course not! In fact, the movies that succeeded the books are probably even better known in some ways. It’s not very difficult to make a statement like that last one when my next statement includes numbers like $796 million, which is the smallest worldwide box office that any Harry Potter film has ever done (Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, in case you’re wondering) or $7.7 billion, which is what the franchise, spread out over eight movies, has grossed worldwide.
Of course, along the way those movies have suffered from some awful plot hole problems as well as other storyline issues. And that’s why I’m here. To reveal to you the 15 biggest mistakes in the Harry Potter franchise. Accio!
15. Scabbers Ewww!
I’m sure everybody remembers that, for seemingly forever, Ron Weasley had a pet rat named Scabbers. Now not only did Ron give his pet rodent a ridiculously disgusting name (C’mon Ron,”Scabbers?” Really???) but he also apparently slept with him for years upon years in the dorms at Hogwarts; or whatever they call the sleeping arrangements there in each house. That’s pretty nasty. But what’s even nastier is that the entire time Ron had Scabbers, Scabbers was actually the creepy and disgusting Peter Pettigrew, the notorious Wormtail. Even worse, the entire time Peter Pettigrew was cuddling up to Ron, Ron’s brothers knew all about it. That’s right- they must have known and they never said anything to Ron. But Geer, how did they know, you may ask. Because they had the Marauder’s Map for like five years, that’s how. They would have seen Pettigrew on the map with Ron. And we know they used it often.
14. Here Comes Voldemort – Summer’s Here!
This one’s pretty darn weird on the surface of it. I feel like Rowling and the directors of the movies based on her books should have noticed this and maybe acknowledged it in some way. Or maybe they just aren’t bothered by it. I am however. Have you ever noticed that Lord Voldemort, of “He Who Shall Not Be Named” fame, always attacks Harry Potter at the very end of the school year? Always. He does it in books 1-5 and again in book 7. It’s just as obvious in the movies if you’re looking for it. Now why does he do that, I wonder? I mean, if you were Harry and you knew the term was just about to end wouldn’t you maybe just maybe cut out quietly a day or two before, knowing that the psycho who killed your parents is coming for you like clockwork? I get that this was probably done on purpose by Rowling to make her stories more compelling but it’s pretty weird nonetheless.
13. Those Darn Wands, Part I
I’m just gonna warn you right now- I’ll be talking a lot about the wands that every wizard worth his or her salt uses throughout the books and movies. Those ever-important wands are a huge part of the Harry Potter world and mythos and are also something that every kid under age 12 (and more than a few over) who is a fan of the series wants in the worst possible way. They’re the equivalent to the cultural cachet Lightsabers had for kids back in the ‘70s and ‘80s. So right off the bat we’ve got a problem with wands. The problem is that they seem to be too cheap. Every wand at Ollivander’s shop (and is he really the only one who can make wands? Lame.) is made from fantastically expensive materials. We’re talking stuff like unicorn hair and other magical items. But the wands themselves are very affordable. How is this possible? Has Ollivander been bought out by the Ministry of Magic as a tax haven? It just doesn’t add up- quite literally.
12. Those Darn Wands, Part II
I told you I was going to go off on wands for a while. And this entry isn’t even the last of it so you’ll just have to grin and bear it. This time around let’s talk about the weird little nugget that Harry Potter is the only wizard in the history of wizarding (or wizardry or whatever) who can use multiple wands. That’s right, not even wizards of the stature of Dumbledore, Snape and even the Dark Lord Voldemort himself can use more than one wand at a time. But little Harry, that precocious so-and-so, can grab a whole handful of wands (and I thought the wand was a very personal thing) and use them all at the same time to take out the Greyback in the Deathly
Hallows. How is this even possible, I ask you? If Harry, who is just a teenager, can do it, why aren’t the masters of that profession walking around wearing holsters full of wands? Wouldn’t everybody and their brother have a whole stash of them? I know I would.
11. Unbreakable Vow, Anyone?
Maybe this one isn’t so much a gaping plot hole as a total plot miss but it deserves to be brought up here. Does anybody remember what an “Unbreakable Vow” is? You should, if you’re any kind of fan at all. For one, the name of the vow is pretty self-explanatory, isn’t it? If you make this vow to someone you can’t break it. The downside is that, if you do break it, you’re toast. Snape made the vow himself in the Half-Blood Prince- that’s how we know what it is. So…why in the hell doesn’t He Who Shall Not Be Named (I’ll never get sick of writing that phrase) simply make all of his weird-ass, psycho followers pledge the Unbreakable Vow to him. They all do whatever he wants anyway and he is pretty charismatic in a totally evil sort of way; I’m sure he could have convinced the Death Eaters to do it. There’s no question it probably would have saved him a lot of trouble and made Harry’s situation that much more precarious.
10. Harry’s Glasses
I know that this one is a bit of a quibbling point. But I also know it’s been brought up many, many times on various Harry Potter Reddit threads and other message boards. The basic thrust of the question is this- why doesn’t somebody evil, anybody evil, just take Harry’s stupid glasses from him? After all, a blind wizard can’t be very much of a wizard and we all know Harry relies on those specs pretty heavily. At any point in any duel or battle Harry has found himself in, an opponent could have just used a spell to remove his glasses. Sorry Harry- game over. But no, not a single baddie ever even seems to consider it at all. I can’t understand it. Maybe the bad guys have some weird moral code where they don’t want to be seen as playground bullies. I know, I know, that personal theory of mine makes zero sense in the context of the storyline- bad guys are bad guys after all. It’s just unsettling thinking how this seemingly little issue could have changed everything.
9. Ron Weasley, Straight-A Student
Umm…or not, as the case may be. Ron is kind of an idiot when it comes to academic pursuits, isn’t he? Or rather, he is when it comes to wizarding pursuits. Because, get this guys, nobody at Hogwarts studies anything academic- ever. That’s right; the curriculum at the most acclaimed school in the wizarding world includes a whole raft of classes on various magical things; like the Dark Arts, as an extreme example. But there are no classes in Algebra or Social Studios or even Composition and Grammar. Not one single one. Everything at the school is geared toward magical studies. And considering that Hogwarts is the first and only school most kids attend it begs the question how do they even know how to read, write and figure? “Cause it sure seems like they shouldn’t have a clue. Maybe this is why Hermione is such a star pupil. Because she actually went to, like real school for a few years before entering the school of ignorance. Even a passing mention of kids taking actual academics would have cleared this up right away.
8. Hermione’s Memory Gaps
So if you’re going to be the best wizarding pupil ever, as Hermione really, really wants to be, you might want to make sure that your memory is in good working order. You’re probably going to need it to remember all of those spells you’re learning. Especially the ones involving, yup, you guessed it, memory! I’m talking about the huge plot hole surrounding Hermione’s total brain cramp at the fact the she has performed memory modification spells before. She tells Ron and Harry, right after the kids defeat a bunch of Death Eaters in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part I, that they will need to perform the spell even though she has never done one before. Huh. That’s pretty weird, considering Hermione performed one upon her own damn parents to keep them safe in the Muggle world. You would think somebody would remember putting one’s own parents under a spell that wiped their memories. Weird, Hermione, weird.
7. Secret Keeper Mistake
We all know that Harry Potter’s parents were horribly murdered by Lord Voldemort when Harry was just an infant, setting off the whole chain of events that the books and movies cover. I’m pretty sure everybody also knows that this happened because their best friend, good ‘ol Peter Pettigrew betrayed them to Voldemort. Thanks Pete. But here’s the deal. Pettigrew was the “Secret Keeper” for Harry’s parents. He was the only one in the whole world who knew the secret of where they were hiding out. Not even the couple themselves could reveal their secret once Pettigrew became the guardian of it. Only Pettigrew could. So why didn’t either Harry’s mom or Harry’s dad simply become the Secret Keeper for the other. It would have saved everybody a lot of trouble and Harry wouldn’t be an orphan. Oh, right, because then there would be no series…
6. Triwizard Tournament = Boring!
So this one isn’t so much a gaping plot hole as much as a “Why, oh why does it have to be like this?” moment. I’m talking about the much celebrated and anticipated Triwizard tournament in the Goblet of Fire. It’s basically the device that hangs the whole first half of that book and movie together and yet it might also be the most boring spectator sport ever. Consider this: the first part of the tournament involves a dragon duel that everyone can see. You can tell everyone can see it because there are massive bleachers set up for the crowd and lots of shots of the crowd watching as well. But then… Then the tournament moves underwater where nobody can see what’s happening at all. After this exciting bit of nothing, the last stage of the tournament has all of the competitors entering a maze. Again, nobody can see anything going on in that maze! You would think that the people who brought you Quidditch could come up with something slightly better.
5. Don’t Touch The Time-Turners
Some items are so powerful, just so magical, apparently, that most wizards aren’t even allowed near them and the Ministry of Magic facilitates their use. One of those items is the Time-turners, which do exactly what they sound like they do; turn back time for the wearer. Some students are so dedicated to their classes, so driven to succeed, apparently, that it’s OK for the Ministry of Magic to give them a highly-regulated device like a Time-turner. I’m talking about Hermione, of course, who gets one of these super, uber, ultra-powerful necklaces so that she can study more. But give Harry Potter a Time-turner so he can bring his parents back to life? No way. Give an elite squad of good wizard ninjas a Time-Turner so they can stop Voldemort before he’s even gotten started? Not gonna happen. Hmmm… something is rotten in Denmark (I mean Hogwarts) methinks.
4. Elder Wand Shenanigans
At least this entry isn’t about your everyday, average, run-of-the-mill wands, as all of my other rants about those magical stick are. No, this time I’d like to rant about the Elder Wand, that amazing, incredibly powerful wand that poor Dumbledore loses to Draco Malfoy when Malfoy defeats Dumbledore. Remember, the Elder Wand only has allegiance to the person who is holding it. That’s how Draco got it, right? So how, by all that is sweet and holy, is Harry ever, ever, ever able to acquire the allegiance of the one and only Elder Wand simply by disarming Draco of some garden variety, dime store wand that anybody could have. How does this possibly give Harry the allegiance of the Elder Wand? The Elder Wand should still rightfully belong to Draco, whether you like it or not. If anybody has the answer to that one I’m here.
3. Those Darn Wands. Again.
OK, just one more rant about the wands and I promise I’ll never bring them up again. How’s that for a deal? As I previously mentioned, those darn wands are a very personal thing. They are so personal that pretty much every wizard ever only has one wand in their entire life. They are so personal that some wizards even name their wands. They are so personal…well, you get my point. So it goes without saying that a wizard wants to keep his or her wand close. Except, and here’s the giant, weird, plot hole exception, when said wizard is sent off to Azkaban. Anyone entering Azkaban automatically forfeits their wand privilege, right? Otherwise what’s the point in sending them there? So how come, my friends, the minute any wizard gets out of Azkaban, their wand instantly appears, as if by magic. I mean, how is that even remotely possible? Those darn wands are so personal that you would think everyone would notice when one suddenly disappears and would know to whom it belonged. Think about it- Sirius Black got his wand back right away, as did his psychotic cousin Bellatrix, the minute they escaped from wizard lock-up. Maybe someone should have put a wizardly tracking device on those wands. Just a thought.
2. Gryffindor Always Equals Good
If you’re even a casual fan of the franchise then you know that there are various houses to which all wizards must show their allegiance. You probably even know that the strange and unsettling Sorting Hat chooses the house to which every Hogwarts student must pledge their loyalty. In fact, since Harry Potter is the true cultural phenomenon that it is, I bet you are aware that Gryffindor, the house of Harry, Hermione, and Ron, is the “good” house in the series and Slytherin, the home of the nasty Malfoy family and Voldemort himself, is the “bad” house. In fact, good old Hagrid basically says all evil wizards and witches are from Slytherin. Well, hold your Hippogriff there, Mr. Friendly giant who would never lie! Sirius Black was sent to Azkaban for betraying Harry’s parents, who were his own best friends, and for murder. Peter Pettigrew was later discovered to be the actual culprit in all of the crimes Sirius was accused of committing. Guess what, brave readers? Both of those dudes were actually from Gryffindor. So what’s it gonna be Hagrid? Your move.
1. Feed The Starving Children
This one is beyond weird. It’s actually almost like J.K. Rowling and the directors of the films really (like really) wanted to see her three main characters die of starvation- why would you do that to innocent children? Granted, Harry, Hermione, and Ron can all be annoying at times but I never wanted to see them die a slow death simply because they didn’t have any food. But it happens time and time again in the Deathly Hallows (more in the movies since they were made into two parts). Our three heroes spend a lot of time looking for or talking about food at the end of the series. When they do actually get their hands on it, there never seems to be enough. So what gives with the starvation rations? Maybe Rowling wanted to make a sly dig at the fact that teenagers are bottomless pits when it comes to putting away food. Or maybe she wanted to subtly show how hard and cruel the world of wizarding had become when the kids were thrown out on their own. But whatever the reason, it makes no sense at all, given that Hermione herself knows how to make more food out of food- she actually explains Gamp’s Law to Ron at some point. So why don’t they just do that, then, every time they get some goodies.