4Almost nothing is what it first appears to be in Harry Potter. This is a running theme that is explored in every single entry in the Harry Potter series. This has been addressed on a plot level, a character level, and even on a creature level. For instance, the cute little Mandrakes are actually some of the most dangerous creatures in the Wizarding World, while the frightening Thestrals prove to be great allies to Harry and his friends.
Flipping appearances and perceived realities on its head was a smart move by J.K. Rowling. After all, she got a lot of young kids to think through complex issues with a more empathetic and intellectual eye. She also seemed to care about the fact that people are seldom as good or as bad as they first seem to be– with the exception of one bald, snake-like, cult leader with an obsession for immortality.
Another way of looking at the appearance and convention flipping in Harry Potter is to consider them as plot twists. By that definition, Harry Potter is just absolutely full of them. Most of these big twists are among the most memorable in literary and film history. Others, however, are a bit cheap and actually may have hurt the story as a whole. This list will delve into both the worst and best twists in the Harry Potter book, film, and stage series.
Without further ado, here are 10 Plot Twists That Hurt Harry Potter (And 10 That Saved It).
20 Hurt: Voldemort’s Secret Daughter
There seems to be some debate surrounding whether or not the stage play (and the book that comes with it) for Harry Potter and the Cursed Child should be considered part of the Harry Potter canon. For legitimate reasons, some fans clearly don’t think so. However, J.K. Rowling tweeted that it should, in fact, be treated as a continuation of what she had written as she helped to develop it.
In this continuation, it’s revealed that Voldemort secretly fathered a daughter with Bellatrix during the brief period of time after he returned and before he was defeated by Harry.
This is a terrible plot twist for a variety of reasons, such as when Bellatrix would have actually been pregnant, why Voldemort would care enough to have a child, and it generally just being a cheap gimmick to continue the story.
19 Saved: Snape Takes Out Dumbledore
Many fans can remember the first time they read Dumbledore’s demise at the hands of Severus Snape. It took a while for many devoted fans to get over such a betrayal until the revelation at the end of The Deathly Hallows.
Even without the famous double/triple agent role that Snape played, having him be the one to off Albus Dumbledore was brilliant.
A more conventional choice for Dumbledore’s assassin would have been Lord Voldemort. After all, it would have further solidified him as a legitimate threat in the Wizarding World. Then there’s Draco. Making Draco hesitate added to his complexity and made him sympathetic. Even if Snape hadn’t turned out to be a “good guy”, this act made him a more engaging character with a legitimate story arc.
18 Hurt: Hermione Turning Into A Cat
While it was important to show just how complicated and dangerous it is to brew Polyjuice Potion, it was a downright silly plot twist to have Hermione turn into a cat. The twist led to nothing important, except for Hermione being hospitalized for a solid month in Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets.
This transformation happened after Harry, Ron, and Hermione plucked hairs off of three Slytherin students in order to infiltrate their common room. However, Hermione accidentally plucked cat hair off of Millicent Bulstrode’s clothes, which, when added to the potion, turned her into a cat-like human hybrid. Though this twist exists in the books, the movie version feels even worse as the effects used seemed a little unconvincing, even for the time that the film came out.
17 Saved: Barty Crouch Jr. Is Mad-Eye Mooney
It was a genius decision to have Crouch posing as the famous Auror and Defence Against The Dark Arts teacher. The character of Mad-Eye Moody was already complex enough, since he came across as a gruff and angry man but really ended up being one of Harry’s greatest allies. Incorporating an impostor behind all that made the film even more engaging.
It gave a bit more dimension to David Tennant’s slithery Death Eater.
Additionally, this reveal tied into Harry’s relationship with Snape, since Snape believed Harry was the one stealing his ingredients to make Polyjuice Potion. It also showed just how easy it is for Voldemort’s henchmen to get to Harry.
16 Hurt: Scabbers Actually Being Wormtail
In many respects, Peter Pettigrew was a wasted character. He was introduced in Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban as a pivotal player and then practically disappeared, aside from helping Voldemort back into his human form and hanging around Malfoy Manor.
The way Rowling decided to introduce Pettigrew was also a strange plot twist. While it’s interesting that even the most insignificant character, such as Scabbers the rat, can end up being something that they’re not, this twist felt a little creepy. After all, a grown man decided to hide out as a boy’s pet rat, who, by the way, would often climb all over Ron’s lap and sleep alongside him. Perhaps Rowling didn’t think this one through entirely?
15 Saved: Harry Being A Horcrux
From a story standpoint, making Harry an unintended Horcrux made by Voldemort was a brilliant move. In order to overcome the greatest challenges we face in life, we must suffer them, and metaphorically perish to be reborn into a new version of ourselves. Only then can we truly understand how and why we need to face what challenges us. Only then do we truly exceed the limitations of our former selves. This profound idea has pervaded literature for thousands of years but can also be found Harry Potter.
In terms of Voldemort, this plot twist explored the fact that his hatred literally ended up destroying himself.
This adds to the counter-theme of the Harry Potter story, which is ultimately about love.
14 Hurt: Snape Was The Half-Blood Prince
Severus Snape, iconically played by the late Allan Rickman in the films, is easily one of the most complex characters in the series. But not all of the plot-twists surrounding this tragic potions master are all that great. Most notable is the revelation that he is, in fact, the “Half-Blood Prince” who re-wrote the textbook that Harry used to become Slughorn’s best student.
Aside from a convoluted explanation surrounding that this actually led to Slughorn revealing his darkest secret about what he told a young Tom, Riddle, the identity of the Half-Blood Prince is meaningless. It hardly adds to the story and doesn’t really tell us much about Snape that we didn’t already know.
13 Saved: What’s Underneath Professor Quirrell’s Turban
This Philosopher’s Stone plot twist definitely keeps in line with Rowling’s love of making characters the opposite of what they first appear to be. Of course, we’re speaking about the moment when Professor Quirrell revealed himself to be a Voldemort supporter as well as having the spirit of The Dark Lord latched to the back of his head.
Up until this point, Quirrell appeared to be an easily frightened wimp who was an ally of Dumbledore and Harry.
Harry had suspected Snape of being his enemy in the first book, but it was, in fact, Quirrell who was trying to Harry while seeking the Philosopher’s Stone for his deformed master.
12 Hurt: Nagini’s Backstory
Can’t a snake just be a snake? Well, up until the most recent trailer for the upcoming film Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald, Voldemort’s pet snake and final Horcrux, was just that.
Fans had no issue with Voldemort having a pet snake named Nagini. In fact, it sort of made sense to his character to own her. But after the release of the trailer, it was revealed Nagini was actually a human the entire time. To be more specific, she was a Naga, a race of mythical snake-like creatures.
This decision feels like a way to manipulate audiences into feeling nostalgic for the original series.
The casting of Claudia Kim in such a role is also stirring up controversy and has author J.K. Rowling on the defensive. In short, nothing good has come out of this plot twist.
11 Saved: Petunia Loving Her Sister
This plot twist didn’t make it into the final cut of The Deathly Hallows Part 1, but it did show up in a deleted scene that pretty much changed Aunt Petunia’s entire character. When the Dursleys are packing up to leave their house forever and be under the protection of The Order due to Voldemort’s rise in power. Harry finds his abusive Aunt Petunia standing in her now empty living room. Petunia admits that Harry “didn’t just lose a mother“– she also “lost a sister.“
The moment added dimension to her character and would have been a nice way to send off actor Fiona Shaw. In the book, Petunia hesitates but doesn’t reach out to Harry at all. Just knowing that this scene exists is enough.
10 Hurt: Cedric Being Evil
Harry Potter and the Cursed Child ruined a lot of great things about the franchise. At the very least, it over-complicated things that just didn’t need to be touched.
In the two-part play and the corresponding book, Delphini (posing as Cedric’s younger cousin) convinces Scorpius Malfoy and Albus Potter to use a time turner to go back and save Cedric from his demise at the hands of Voldemort at the end of the Triwizard Tournament. After they do as she requests, they open up an alternative timeline where Cedric becomes a Death Eater who takes out Neville and helps Voldemort seize power. Not only was this utterly confusing and dumb, but it was also completely unnecessary.
9 Saved: Harry Faking His Own End
This plot twist was one of the rare times that the audience knew something that the other characters had absolutely no clue about. Though present in the Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows book, the reveal that Harry had survived once more was actually far more effective in the film version. This is because Harry was inspired to reveal himself after Neville’s powerful speech. It also immediately caused a number of the Death Eaters, including the Malfoys, to lose their faith in Voldemort and leave the battle.
The placement of the reveal of Harry’s faked demise is slightly different in the book.
It happens after Molly Weasley takes out Bellatrix instead of right before the battle resumes. But it still manages to anger Voldemort and give faith to those who sought to destroy him.
8 Hurt: The Triwizard Cup Being A Portkey
Balancing the Triwizard Tournament and Voldemort’s reincarnation was a delicate story thread in both the book and movie for Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire. For the most part, both accomplished this well. But one plot twist that was reserved for the finale felt quite manipulative.
The revelation that the beautiful Triwizard Cup had been turned into a portkey by Barty Crouch Jr., who was posing as Mad-Eye, seemed just too convenient. If Voldemort wanted his allies to get Potter to him, why did they wait until the very end of the tournament to do so? Surely, Crouch could have turned something in the first or second Tasks into a portkey that would transport Harry to Voldemort. Why did it have to be the reward at the center of the maze?
7 Saved: Snape’s True Loyalty
There may not be a more beloved plot twist in Harry Potter than the revelation of Snape’s true loyalty. Although he may not have actually liked Harry, there’s no doubt that Snape had Harry’s survival at heart.
This is because Snape was deeply in love with Harry’s mother, Lily.
His love for her was the reason he became a double agent working against Voldemort, even though he had Voldemort and the readers convinced he was working for the side of evil. This plot twist not only made Snape one of the most fascinating characters in the story but added to the message that Rowling wanted to get across to readers; that people are often far more complex than they first appear.
6 Hurt: Gryffindor Wins The House Cup In First Year
Talk about favoritism. Slytherin won the House Cup fair and square at the end of Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone. Dumbledore decided to change the rules by awarding a few last-minute points to Gryffindor students because of the bravery shown by Harry and his friends.
What happened to Harry and his pals at the end of Philosopher’s Stone had nothing to do with the rules of the House Cup. It had to do with Harry being the “Chosen One” and his battle against Voldemort.This plot twist felt very convenient. It would have sent a stronger message if Gryffindor lost despite being the obvious heroes. Also, why were the Hufflepuffs and Ravenclaws cheering when Gryffindor beat Slytherin? Did they really dislike Slytherin that much?
5 Saved: Dumbledore’s Love For Grindelwald
The revelation regarding Albus Dumbledore’s true orientation came to late for many readers since Rowling didn’t explore any of this on the page. In fact, the whole reveal caused quite an uproar.
In the long term, this decision was a good one.
With the release of Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald, we may get some more details on the feelings Dumbledore had for Grindelwald– and whether they were reciprocated. This is a strong plot twist as it adds a dynamic layer to the theme of the ever-lasting struggle (and eventual balance) between good and evil. It also adds some much needed diversity to Rowling’s Wizarding World.
4 Hurt: The Elder Wand’s True Owner
Although seeing Voldemort lose to Harry was rewarding, the inclusion of the Elder Wand was a distraction from the main journey of the final chapter. A convoluted set of rules came with the inclusion of the main item in the Deathly Hallows, the Elder Wand. Specifically, they were about who truly “owned” the wand, and thus who it would work for.
Draco being the true owner and the mechanics how that happened were just confusing.
In a way, the inclusion of the Deathly Hallows was a bit of a deus ex machina that allowed Harry to finally beat Voldemort. But wasn’t destroying the Horcruxes enough? After all, that was what most of the finale was about.
3 Saved: Harry Saves Himself From Dementors
Our parents can’t be around forever, and they certainly can’t bail us out of every challenging or dangerous situation. This was one of the lessons behind the reveal that Harry saved himself, as well as Sirius, from Dementors in Prisoner of Azkaban.
Before the use of Hermione’s time-turner, Harry was certain that he saw his father’s Patronus save him and Sirius from the Dementors after the fight with the werewolf. When Harry watched the scene from afar, he realized that his deceased father couldn’t save him and only he could. Harry then stepped up, found his courage, and revealed that he had the power within him to beat his fears, personified by the Dementors.
2 Hurt: Dobby Saving Harry In Deathly Hallows
The demise of Dobby The House Elf at the hands of Bellatrix Lestrange was one of the saddest moments in the entire series,but his inclusion in the final chapter of Harry Potter felt quite forced. Although it was later revealed that Aberforth Dumbledore, Albus’ brother, had sent Dobby to watch over Harry, it was more than convenient that Dobby would spot Kreacher chasing after Mundungus Fletcher in Diagon Alley.
One could argue that his somewhat random appearance at Malfoy Manor was justified due to Harry reaching out to Aberforth via the two-way mirror he was gifted, but his initial entrance in The Deathly Hallows – Part 1 was downright strange. Fans loved seeing Dobby back, especially in such a heroic role, but a little more padding and context would have made it work better.
1 Saved: Sirius Is Actually A Hero
Early on in the series, J.K. Rowling made the wonderful decision to make Sirius Black one of the strongest mentors that Harry ever had, despite the fact that he was convicted of conspiring to take out Harry’s parents. Of course, in Prisoner of Azkaban, it was revealed that Sirius didn’t betray his friendship with the Potters at all.
It was, in fact, Peter Pettigrew who went dark.
Even though Harry and the Order found out the truth about Sirius, the rest of the Wizarding World still thought he was a dangerous dark wizard and treated him as such. Story choices such as this one endeared us to all of the underdog characters in Harry Potter, despite the fact that they may have appeared rough or cold on the outside.
Which plot twists do you feel hurt or saved Harry Potter? Let us know in the comments below!