Fans of the Harry Potter series have had no shortage of media to consume. What all started with a set of books has exploded into eight movies and a prequel series still in the works. Needless to say, there’s a lot that one person can delve into.
The movies themselves have been particularly successful. Not everyone enjoys reading books, and that naturally means that many wouldn’t be able to know the tale of Harry Potter. Because of the movies, however, just about anyone can see the events unfold at Hogwarts across seven years. It’s a great way to get audiences of all ages and learning types into the Wizarding World.
However, as with most adaptations, there are times where the Harry Potter movies stumble a bit when compared to the books. While it would be foolish to assume that every scene from the books would make it into the films, there were some decisions made that left us scratching our heads in wonder. After all, J.K. Rowling formatted these stories with a purpose, and to leave important parts out can harm the integrity of the tale.
While the movies are good (especially as book adaptations go), there are some times when they miss the mark regarding the source material. Here are 15 times the Harry Potter movies butchered the books, and not in a good way.
15. Peeves the Poltergeist
The most obvious example of the Harry Potter movies changing the books for the worse is the case of Peeves the Poltergeist. As you all know, there are many ghosts who live in Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. However, there was one who appeared in the books but never made it into the films: Peeves.
This little trickster’s existence was based on pranking other people, whether it be other ghosts or the faculty. Peeves was always coming up with a new angle to frighten people and make their lives a little more frustrating. The worst about him not being in the Harry Potter movies, though, is that he was scrapped at the last minute. There were even scenes shot with the character in.
14. Mr. Weasley Fights Mr. Malfoy
Lucius Malfoy is many things, but subtle is not one of them. We first meet this horrible father in Chamber of Secrets after Harry had a newsworthy photo op with Gilderoy Lockhart. Lucius is not only cunning, but he’s actually flat out rude to the Weasley children. When Arthur Weasley shows up to see what the fuss is about, Lucius makes a verbal stab at him.
At this point in the films, Arthur simply retorts with a snide comment. In the books, he throws a punch at Lucius. The two then scramble over in a fistfight that sets the stage for the contending ideals between the Weasleys and the Malfoys. Too bad this scene wasn’t in the film — audiences love that kind of action.
13. Snape’s Potion Puzzle
The Sorcerer’s Stone was one of the greatest magical objects ever created. That’s why it took some of the most brilliant minds to guard it. The professors at Hogwarts established a system so powerful and tough to crack that practically nobody could retrieve the stone. In the movies, there was the Devil’s Snare placed by Professor Sprout, the keys placed by Madam Hooch, and that whole chess match. Unfortunately, there were a few more tests that got left out of the film.
The most notable of these trials was the one concocted by Professor Snape. He had a puzzle that related to drinking potions. Instead of using some weird form of magic, it required ingenuity to solve, and Hermione managed to crack the code and get Harry through to the next room.
12. Gryffindor Winning the Quidditch Cup
Because Quidditch was always a side plot in the Harry Potter story, it’s no wonder it eventually got cut. The sport was only featured prominently in The Sorcerer’s Stone and Chamber of Secrets movies. After that, its relevance to the story became less and less. It’s a big shame, too, considering its significance in Prisoner of Azkaban.
During that time, it was the Gryffindor captain Oliver Wood’s last chance to take home the Quidditch Cup. Through rigorous training and a great game played by Harry and his teammates, they managed to bring it home, sending off Oliver Wood with a happy memory. Unfortunately, Oliver Wood would only make an appearance in the first two Harry Potter movies.
11. Hermione’s House Elf Movement
In The Goblet of Fire, the story moves forward when Voldemort’s dark mark is shot into the sky, signaling the return of the Death Eaters. In the film, it was clear from the beginning that Barty Crouch Jr. was the one responsible. However, in the books, there was a bit more mystery involved.
While Harry and his friends were at Hogwarts, there was a house elf who showed up named Winky. She was framed for sending out the dark mark and was removed from her home family. Thankfully, Dumbledore was kind enough to give her employment at Hogwarts, where she could work and receive fair wages. Yet, that didn’t stop Hermione from being outraged at the treatment of house elves, motivating her to start an organization called S.P.E.W.
10. The Maze
The Tri-Wizard Tournament is a sport that could very easily take the lives of the wizards involved. However, with some help and quick thinking, we got to watch Harry Potter conquer each of them and see the Tri-Wizard cup at the end of Goblet of Fire. The only thing that stood in his way was the final challenge: a maze. It was no ordinary maze, though. There were weird vines and bewitched people to look out for. While that was scary in and of itself, the maze was much more interesting in the books.
In the books, the maze had Boggarts that manifested as Dementors for Harry, as well as other various magical creatures to face. He and Cedric had to team up against a powerful beast as well, making their teaming up when reaching the cup all the more satisfying — and Cedric’s death all the more tragic.
9. The Elder Weasley Boys
Because of the sheer number of characters in the Harry Potter books, it was assumed that many of them would be cut for one purpose or another. Unfortunately, the characters cut from the films were beloved characters in the books: Percy, Bill, and Charlie Weasley. These three brothers had a large impact in the Harry Potter universe and learned lessons of their own along the way. We got to see some fall in love, others get attacked by werewolves, and more.
In the movies, we spend a little time with Percy in the first two films, but he disappears fairly quickly. We also get the wedding between Bill Weasley and Fleur Delacour, but without any of the buildup. It was a painful omission from the movies, but one we understand at the end of the day.
8. Burrows Assault
The Half-Blood Prince is the part of the story where not much happens. There isn’t a lot of action or any large set pieces. Instead, it’s the calm before the storm and serves as a perfect setup for The Deathly Hallows. However, there’s one moment, in particular, that was replaced in the films and serves to its detriment rather than its benefit.
Of course, I’m talking about the scene where the Death Eaters attack the Burrows and raze it to the ground. This scene serves no purpose in the story, as it doesn’t add anything new. In the books, Scrimgeour, the Minister of Magic, comes to the Burrows and asks Harry to publicly join the war against Voldemort. Harry denies it after stating that it would just be a publicity stunt.
7. The Life and Lies of Albus Dumbledore
One thing that made The Deathly Hallows particularly interesting was how it provided an interesting look into the backstory of Albus Dumbledore himself. The information made Harry and the audience question whether he was the man he said he was or not. It was sleazy, powerful, and fairly accurate.
In the movies, however, we’re given practically none of those details. Nothing about Grindelwald is ever shown other than Voldemort knowing he had the Elder Wand. Then, the duel between Albus, Aberforth, and Grindelwald was never discussed. Ariana was only briefly mentioned, and it was just a watered down version of the backstory that fans so desperately craved.
6. Harry Being a Godfather
There was a painful sense of isolation with The Deathly Hallows. Harry and his friends were out into the world rather than studying at Hogwarts. They were constantly on the run and in hiding from Death Eaters and any other magical forces. This led them to take refuge in the old Black residence, where the Order of the Phoenix met.
While they were there, Harry was met by an unexpected visitor: Remus Lupin. At the time, he and Tonks were married and had a baby boy on the way. Due to the looming threat of Voldemort, Remus asked Harry if he would be the godfather to the boy. Harry agreed proudly. In the movies, there was one line about Remus’s son and nothing else was said.
5. Pettigrew’s Death
It’s the little details that make all the difference, and that’s precisely the case with Peter Pettigrew. After having betrayed Lily and James Potter, Pettigrew became a skulking servant for the Dark Lord. He would later be the one to watch over Harry and Ron as they were imprisoned in Malfoy Manor.
Eventually, it was time for them to make their escape and get Hermione out of the building. In the movies, they simply knocked out Peter and made a break for it. In the books, Peter spared Harry and let him out. However, the arm that Voldemort gave him immediately acted on its own and strangled Pettigrew to death. In the movies, we still don’t know what happened to him.
4. Harry Returning to Hogwarts
Near the climax of The Deathly Hallows, Harry, Ron, and Hermione realized that the remaining Horcruxes were at Hogwarts. Because of this, they snuck their way back into the old castle thanks to Harry’s cloak of invisibility. However, Harry didn’t reveal himself at first. As a matter of fact, he made his way to the Gryffindor Common Room, where one of the Death Eaters (long story) was berated by Professor McGonagall. Then, he spat in her face. Harry threw off the cloak and struck the brute with a curse, knocking him out.
This was an excellent way of showing Harry’s character while still keeping the gravitas of the setting alive. In the films, he was led by Neville back into the castle and immediately welcomed by the students. Then, he went to the Great Hall and stepped out in front of Snape. It wasn’t as poignant.
3. The Battle for Hogwarts
Ever since The Sorcerer’s Stone talked about Lord Voldemort, we always knew that the series would go out with a bang. My oh my, did we get some exciting action. The battle for Hogwarts tied in everything we, as an audience, had gone through in the series. Nearly every creature that Harry had encountered resurfaced for this battle. Buckbeak flew down from above, Kreacher led an army of house elves, spiders from the Dark Forest crawled into play, and even Peeves joined the fray. Explosions took place, people flew across the battlefield, and that’s just the tip of the iceberg.
2. Snapping the Elder Wand
It was an interesting cycle to see Lord Voldemort hunting down the Elder Wand. Turns out, the most powerful wand created belonged to Dumbledore and was buried with him. Voldemort eventually grabbed the wand as he thought he was its master. As it turns out, Harry was the true master of the Elder Wand due to this convoluted law of disarming.
After the battle was over, Harry had the Elder Wand and was its master. Instead of using it for himself, he repaired his old wand with it and had the Elder Wand placed back in Dumbledore’s tomb. In the movies, he did something a bit more frustrating. He took the wand in both hands, snapped it in half, and threw it off the Hogwarts bridge.
1. Voldemort’s Death
The biggest change made with the Battle of Hogwarts was arguably the death of Lord Voldemort. The movie version had their final battle take place outside of the school. After Harry disarms the Dark Lord, Voldemort simply disintegrates into the air. While it was definitely climactic, the book version was much more thematic.
The battle took place inside the Great Hall. Wizards and Death Eaters were dueling across the tables and corridors. Voldemort came in the room, and Harry faced him. After firing at Harry with the Killing Curse, our protagonist deflected it with a good old Expelliarmus. The curse backfired and struck Voldemort as he fell to the ground lifelessly. This scene alone communicated that Voldemort was still a human and was much more satisfying in the long run.