The Harry Potter film franchise has become an unstoppable force in cinema. It’s one of those series that splits movie fans into two groups, those who have seen the films and those who have seen them multiple times. For that reason, Harry Potter is one of the most fun to discuss because everyone can participate. Even if you’re not an expert, you can still follow along. J.K. Rowling, the author of the books, had a big role when the films were being made. On many of the films, she was a collaborator, helping the screenwriters and giving suggestions for set and costume design. This allowed the filmmakers to create something close to what Rowling had in mind when she first wrote the books. This also enabled them to include important details that were symbolic or would become meaningful later on, even before future books were written.
Since the Harry Potter films are so big and jam-packed, many details aren’t noticed on the first viewing. In fact, the details on this list probably even went by unnoticed through multiple viewings. The things on this list are some of the most hidden details in the films, but they’re not useless little Easter eggs either. Most of these are seen as incredibly important, or at least potentially important. Some are symbolic, while others foreshadow, and some connect with films and ideas in the future. Each are meaningful in their own little way and each are incredibly difficult to spot. Let’s see if we can’t impress even you diehards. Here are 15 Incredibly Important Moments We All Missed in Harry Potter.
15. Triwizard Tournament Tasks and the Deathly Hallows
It’s unclear exactly when J.K. Rowling fully formed the concept of the Deathly Hallows, the three items of the Peverell Family—the Invisibility Cloak, the Elder Wand and the Resurrection Stone—but we know she decided they were important early on by the way she inserted allusions to them throughout the books and films. Take Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, for example. The Triwizard Tournament that Harry enters is laden with connections to the Deathly Hallows. The tournament consists of three tasks. The first is to retrieve a golden egg from the protection of a dragon using only a wand. Hermione even yells out the significance of this item, “Your wand Harry. Your wand!” This task is obviously connected to the Elder Wand. The second task required the champions to save one of their loved ones from underwater. This is representative of the Resurrection Stone, which could return the holder’s deceased loved ones back to life. The last task in the tournament is the maze that hides the Triwizard Cup at the center. This task is representative of the last of the Deathly Hallows, the Invisibility Cloak, which hides the wearer. These three allusions begin to form a symbolic link to the final stage in Potter’s journey, showing that Rowling was aware of where she was headed.
14. Aberforth Dumbledore’s Cameo
If you had only ever watched the films, when Harry and friends gather in Hog’s Head for Dumbledore’s Army’s first meeting in The Order of the Phoenix, there is nothing out of the ordinary. The meeting is woefully unattended, having only Harry, Ron, Hermione and the barkeep. Now, book fans will know that Albus Dumbledore’s brother, Aberforth, is the barkeep. They also know that he has some weird connection with goats. In the films, the first time were actually introduced to Aberforth is in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, where the character is played by Ciarán Hinds. Keen-eyed viewers, however, will notice that the barkeep in The Order of the Phoenix has a goat laying behind him. He also looks a lot like Albus too. If you paid attention to the credits, you’ll also notice that this guy was credited as Aberforth as well.
13. Snape’s Hidden Message
This little hidden message from Snape and Harry’s first meeting has gained a lot of traction over the years and for good reason. We all know now that Snape is a good guy and always been a good guy. He was grouchy, yeah, but he loved Harry’s mom, Lily, and would spend the rest of his life trying to protect her only son. When Snape first meets Harry, he asks a question that seems like it was intended to show Harry up and make him look like a stooge: “What would I get if I added powdered root of asphodel to an infusion of wormwood?” It seems very likely, however, that this was a hidden message for Harry. In Victorian Flower Language, asphodel, the lily, means, “my regrets follow you to the grave.” Wormwood means “absence” or “sorrow.” Therefore, when you combine the two, it seems Snape is telling Harry he is sad about Lily’s death.
12. The Dursley’s Horcrux
Despite the fact that J.K. Rowling continues to shoot down fan theories and possible interpretations in her somewhat dictatorial way, we’re entertaining this theory because it’s fun and creates an interesting new lens to view the Dursley family through. The theory suggests that, despite our knowledge of Aunt Petunia’s jealously, Uncle Vernon’s anger and spite and Dudley’s overall selfish and self-centered upbringing, one of the reasons that the Dursleys are so cruel to Harry is because he’s a horcrux, sort of. As we’ve seen with anyone who gets too close to a horcrux for too long, they become grouchy and irritable. This obviously isn’t the only reason they’re jerks. After all, Professor McGonnagall notes that they’re the worst before Harry is ever in their presence, but that doesn’t mean Harry’s horcrux couldn’t have added to that.
11. Dumbledore’s Sister
This one is more for fans of the Harry Potter books and those who have seen Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them. Even though we’re briefly introduced to Ariana Dumbledore, Albus’ sister, in the form of a picture, we aren’t told what happened to her. In the books, we learn that Ariana was attacked as a young girl by some muggle boys. She stopped using magic because of it, but it would burst out of her from time to time. When she was 14, magic burst out of her when she was in a rage and accidentally killed her mother. Later, when Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them came out, fans were introduced to similar pent up magic and they put two and two together: Ariana was an Obscurial.
10. The First Hint
The number seven comes up quite a bit throughout the books and the films, but in the Tom Riddle flashback when we see him at his youngest, the one where Dumbledore first meets him in The Half-Blood Prince, we see that Voldemort had an interest in the number seven even as a child. In this flashback, the camera closes in on two very quick images in succession in Riddle’s room in the orphanage. First, we’re shown seven stones on the windowsill and then a photograph of a large rock in the middle of water. Fans will recognize the photograph as the location of the third horcrux, the rock close to the Crystal Cave. Obviously, the seven stones here symbolize the seven horcruxes that Voldemort creates. It’s just a subtle little hint at what’s the come.
9. Eight on the Mark
Whenever someone signs their life away to the Dark Lord, they’re given the Dark Mark, a brand described in the books as “a colossal skull, comprised of what looked like emerald stars, with a serpent protruding from its mouth like a tongue.” Now in the films, they followed this design a bit, but they made the serpent into the shape of a figure eight. Is this a message? When Voldemort made his horcruxes, he made seven. He was unaware that he actually made Harry into one. In fact, it seems that no one knew this at first. But maybe, the Dark Mark was more revealing than we first thought. By showing the figure eight, this mark might have spoiled Voldemort’s big secret.
8. The Erumpent Horn
When Harry, Hermione and Ron visit Luna’s father, they are invited into his home. There on the wall is a very large horn. Now, later, when the Death Eaters attack, Luna’s house explodes. To the movie audience, this explosion might seem to be caused by the Death Eaters attack, but the books make it more explicit that it was actually the horn that blew up (though this attack scene is quite a bit different). If you’re curious, compare this Death Eater attack to the attack on the Weasley’s home. In the attack on the Weasleys, there is fire and some brief flashes, but nothing compared to the explosion at Luna’s. Now, if you’ve seen Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, you will be aware of the rhino-looking Beast, the Erumpent, which has an exploding horn. While the horns look different in the films, they are actually from the same animal.
7. Balls Judged Too Big
In the very beginning of Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, we see Harry sitting on a swing. When Dudley and his friends approach, Harry mocks them, asking if they “beat up another 10-year-old.” This is a markedly different Harry we’re seeing, one who is not afraid to stand up to Dudley, even when he’s with several of his friends. Harry’s newfound courage is due in large part to the fact that he’s the frickin’ chosen one. We’re not the only ones who noticed this change in attitude though. Check out the newspaper in Harry’s hands. The only thing that we can make out is a headline on the back page that reads: “Balls Judged ‘Too Big.'” You can say that again.
6. Slughorn Getting Lucky
In Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2, when the Battle of Hogwarts is just beginning, professor McGonnagall and Molly Weasley walk out to the school’s front steps, preparing to unleash the statues and protectors of Hogwarts with the Piertotum Locomotor Charm. During this moment, look over their shoulders. You’ll see professor Slughorn walk down the steps. As he does, he opens the lid off a small vial and drinks it. While some have suggested that this is a flask and he’s drinking alcohol, it is far too small to be a liquor flask. Though we can’t be certain, some fans have suggested that he’s drinking a batch of Felix Felicis or “liquid luck,” the same potion Harry wins and drinks earlier. That’s a good idea. Everyone should be drinking it.
5. Neville’s Broom
Way back in Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone, we see the kids in the first flying lesson and Neville goes on a wild ride. Incapable of controlling his broom, Neville flies around and almost dies. This is fitting for Neville because, at this point, he’s a terrible wizard. But, later on, we see Harry’s broom act in almost an identical way. We know something’s wrong here because Harry’s a great flyer. By the end of the film we learn that it was that little weasel, professor Quirrell, who was messing with Harry’s flight. Now, if we consider that role that Neville plays in this saga, the one who is kind of the “other chosen one,” it might not be such a bad idea to get him out of the way as well. No, he’s not Harry Potter, but you would think Voldemort might just try to eliminate all contingency plans. With that in mind, observe how similar the two brooms react. Might it be possible that Neville’s broom was also bewitched by Quirrell?
4. Harry’s Familiar Twitch
In Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, Dumbledore is first introducing Harry to the concept of the horcruxes. He tells him how Tom Riddle’s diary was one, but now that it is destroyed, the embedded piece of Voldemort is dead. Note that this is long before we learn that Harry has some Voldy soul inside of him. When Dumbledore mentions that they could be hidden anywhere, Harry touches the ring, which causes it to spin and him to have some visions. When he comes to, Harry has a little neck twitch reminiscent of Voldemort’s. It’s very quick and easy to miss, and, even if you did catch it, you might think it related to him touching the ring. But check out Dumbledore’s face as he looks at Harry just then and says, “leaves traces.” This is a small little hint that Harry is himself a horcrux.
3. Neville’s Remembrall
Remember back in Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone when Neville gets a Remembrall, which glows red when the user has forgotten something. Well, it glows red but Neville can’t remember what he’s forgotten. If you look around, though, it’s pretty obvious. Neville is the only kid not wearing his black robes. This is why everyone laughs at him. What’s even more amazing is that, later, when Neville and his classmates are being given their first flying lesson, which we already mentioned, Neville gets completely out of control and almost dies. He falls from an insane height, but, luckily, his robe catches on a statue, breaking his fall. Imagine if that Remembrall didn’t remind him about those damn robes?
2. The Patronus Connections
Here’s a neat and romantic little animalistic connection from the later films. When we’re first introduced to Ron’s Patronus, his spirit guardian, it looks like a normal dog, which it is, but the specific breed is a Jack Russell terrier. Now, Jack Russells are known for chasing rodents and vermin. In fact, the word terrier means “earth dog,” named because Jack Russell terriers will chase these rodents even into their burrows. This leads us to Hermione’s Patronus, an otter, which is a rodent. Jack Russells will chase otters anywhere, including into the water, which obviously hints to Ron’s love of Hermione and their connection. Oh, and guess what animal family the otter is part of? The Mustelidae, often called the weasel family.
1. Draco and the Mysterious Page
In Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, we have a basilisk slithering around petrifying children on the regular. When Hermione gets nailed by it, she’s frozen stiff, but that doesn’t stop her from becoming the hero who discovers how to beat the basilisk. During one of Ron and Harry’s visits to see Hermione in the infirmary, Harry spots a ripped out and crumbled up page in her hand. Now, this is interesting for a number of reasons. One, why has no one noticed this page prior to Harry and Ron spotting it? It wasn’t even that well hidden. Also, since when does Hermione deface library books? Not only is the page ripped out of the book, but it’s also been written on. Does this actually sound like something Hermione would do? We assume it’s Hermione because of how it was found, but think back to the beginning of the film, in the bookstore. What do we see Draco do there? He rips a frickin’ page out of a book. Since Draco’s such a jerk, we assume he does this because he’s a jerk. But what if he was the one who planted the page in Hermione’s hand? What if he was the one who solved the riddle?