Harry Potter continues to be a book and movie series loved worldwide. And thanks to J.K. Rowling’s worldbuilding abilities, it’s also a fantastic foundation on which to build intricate and interesting fan theories. People have analyzed the most minor of character interactions, investigated the most throwaway lines of dialogue and come up with some great ideas. So with that in mind, here are 20 of the greatest theories created by Potterheads.
20. Dementors can sense Voldemort’s soul in Harry
Dementors are arguably the creepiest of all of J.K. Rowling’s creations. They’re silent, floating monsters which in some cases can eat a person’s soul. And they seem particularly keen on Harry, too. In the books, Professor Lupin tells Harry that Dementors are attracted to him because of his horrible childhood. But maybe there’s a different reason?
Dementors can sense souls – and Harry technically has more than one soul. Ever since he became a Horcrux, he has had part of Voldemort’s spirit living inside him. That prospect would seem very nice indeed to a hungry Dementor. No wonder the monsters liked the young wizard so much; he was a walking soul buffet.
19. Ariana Dumbledore was an Obscurial
Dumbledore deeply regrets the loss of his sister. Ariana Dumbledore grew up with a magical disability – brought on by trauma – which caused magic to explode out of her. This even accidentally killed their mother. But the reason for all this was very possibly revealed in the Fantastic Beasts movie series.
Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them introduced the concept of an Obscurus, a dark energy which abused wizards can develop. It’s perfectly possible that an Obscurus can kill people when its host is not in control. So was that what happened to poor Ariana? Maybe J.K. Rowling will tell that story one day.
18. Arthur Weasley suffered the Imperius Curse
The Imperius Curse takes over a person and makes them a puppet of another wizard. Unsurprisingly, it’s considered unforgivable by wizarding law. But how does that connect to Arthur Weasley, Ron’s father? Well, Arthur would have been working at the Ministry of Magic at a time when Voldemort’s Death Eaters, including Lucius Malfoy, were quietly placing employees under the Imperius.
That would explain why Arthur loathes Lucius so much. Lucius claims that all the work he did for Voldemort was caused by the Imperius curse – and so was declared innocent. But perhaps the most compelling evidence is this: when Ron talks about the Imperius curse in Hogwarts, the disguised Death Eater Barty Crouch Jr tells him, “Ah yes, your father would know that one.”
17. Trelawney was actually right about something
Professor Trelawney is considered not to be a particularly good psychic, yet she seems to get it right a surprising amount of the time. Indeed, it’s too bad she never realizes how accurate she sometimes is. When she told Harry she was sure he had been born in midwinter, for instance, it sounded like nonsense – because Harry was born in July.
Except that Harry was carrying a part of Voldemort’s soul within him at that point and Voldemort himself was born in midwinter. December 31, to be exact. So perhaps Trelawney was, in fact, sensing Voldemort? Potterheads have noticed that many of her predictions do actually make sense – you just have to look at them from a different angle.
16. Harry is immortal now
Was the ending to the Harry Potter series really such a happy one? One theory suggests that no, it definitely wasn’t. The prophecy in the books regarding Harry and Voldemort states that, “either must die at the hand of the other, for neither can live while the other survives.” This can be read a different way, though.
Does it really mean that if Harry kills Voldemort – or vice versa – the victor cannot die from then on? Some fans think so, and it lends a depressing tinge to the series. If Harry is immortal after defeating the Dark Lord, he’ll never die and see his lost loved ones. He’ll just live on forever, arguably a fate worse than death.
15. Draco is a werewolf
Professor Lupin is the most famous werewolf in the Harry Potter series, but could there be a chance Draco Malfoy is one too? Some fans think so. And there is quite a bit of evidence to support the popular theory. During the events of the sixth Harry Potter book, Draco is seen to be sickly – which is a sign of werewolf infection.
And when Draco’s cousin Nymphadora becomes pregnant by Lupin, Voldemort tells Draco “Maybe you can babysit the cubs.” It might have been just a sneer… or it might be darker. At a point in the story where Voldemort was displeased with Lucius, did he have his werewolf henchman Fenrir bite Draco as a punishment? That does sound like something he would do.
14. Dumbledore knew Quirrell was evil
Would a powerful wizard like Dumbledore really be fooled by Professor Quirrell, a man who literally has Voldemort’s face hidden on the back of his head? Probably not, as some fans have suggested. Instead, Dumbledore guessed right away that Quirrell was under the thrall of Voldemort and maneuvered him into a position where Harry could face him.
Dumbledore is happy to manipulate people for the greater good. So, knowing that Harry couldn’t be harmed until he was 17, perhaps he decided to face Harry off against Voldemort-Quirrell and hope for the best? Dumbledore also likes to keep secrets, so there’s no way he would ever tell Harry this…
13. Petunia might have some magical power
What’s the deal with Aunt Petunia? She’s a terrible aunt to Harry, but tormented over the loss of her sister Lily. She’s a complicated character. But was there an extra complication – is she actually a witch? J.K. Rowling did confirm in a 2004 interview that Petunia wasn’t a Squib (a non-magical person born into a family of witches and wizards). So does she possess a tiny bit of magic?
Dumbledore personally told Petunia that she couldn’t go to Hogwarts. But maybe that was just to spare her the problems of becoming a witch with very little actual power? At one point in Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, Aunt Marge’s glass explodes when she insults Lily Potter. We’re meant to think Harry did it – but what if it was Petunia?
12. Mary Poppins was a Hogwarts pupil
Mary Poppins can fly, uses a pointy stick to cast magic spells (her umbrella must be a wand!) and absolutely knows things that other people don’t. So is she a witch and a former student of Hogwarts? In 2013 Reddit user ProfFrizzo suggested that she was. “Her overall demeanor lends itself well to a Hogwarts graduate,” they posited. “She has a strict, militarized way of doing things.”
Other users later jumped onto the idea, suggesting that Mary Poppins was, in fact, a Ministry of Magic employee tasked with introducing potentially magic children to new abilities. ProfFrizzo mentioned that her companion Bert might well be a wizard too. As the user put it, “Him being a non-muggle may explain his attempt at a cockney accent.”
11. Avada Kedavra sounds like that for a reason
Potterheads and casual readers alike may note that Avada Kedavra, the killing curse, sounds very similar to the widely-known magical incantation Abracadabra. And Reddit user jodatoufin posited a theory about that in 2014. “I don’t think the naming of Avadra Kedavra is by mistake… What I think we’re supposed to take away from that is that, in the times before the statute of secrecy, the interactions between muggles and wizards were often violent and deadly.”
“So much so that, even after the idea of wizards faded into mythology, among muggles the killing curse became a thing of folklore,” jodatoufin went on. “Granted, over time the pronunciation became bastardized from Avada Kedavra to Abracadabra, but I think it’s one of the few things that stuck among muggle culture.” That’s dark! But very plausible.
10. Harry and Ron predicted the events of the Triwizard Tournament
Harry and Ron aren’t fans of Divination, so when they’re assigned homework for the subject, they just make up all their predictions. And yet all of them come true! Tumblr blog The HP Facts listed everything that happened. Harry guessed he would be “in danger of burns” and then had to fight a dragon, just for starters.
Harry also predicted he would “lose a treasured possession” – that was Ron, who he nearly lost in round two of the tournament. He also anticipated that we would get “stabbed in the back by someone [he] thought was a friend” – that would be by the supposed Professor Moody. And he claimed he would eventually “come off worse in a fight.” That last one would be the graveyard battle with Voldemort. So maybe Divination isn’t so silly after all?
9. Snape’s first words to Harry refer to Lily
Snape loved Harry’s mother Lily and never got over her murder at the hands of Voldemort. But did his first words to Harry symbolize that? In the first book Snape fires this question: “What would I get if I added powdered root of asphodel to an infusion of wormwood?” Tumblr user tomhiddles thinks that has a deeper meaning.
“According to Victorian Flower Language, asphodel is a type of lily meaning ‘My regrets follow you to the grave’ and wormwood means ‘absence’ and also typically symbolized bitter sorrow,” tomhiddles wrote. “If you combined that, it meant ‘I bitterly regret Lily’s death.’” So there you have it – the root of all Snape’s actions.
8. Neville had the wrong wand
Poor Neville Longbottom can’t get anything right in the first few books of the series. His spells go wrong all the time. And yet there’s a reason for that which seems blindingly obvious once you realize it – Neville never had his own wand. He inherited one from his father instead.
During the Battle of the Department of Mysteries Neville’s inherited wand is broken, so he has to get a new one. This involves the careful process of “the wand choosing the wizard.” Therefore, Neville suddenly finds himself with a wand which allows him to unlock his full potential. That’s one of the ways he went from uncertain boy wizard to snake-slaying badass!
7. The Dursleys had a reason for being so awful
The Dursleys are not nice people, but maybe the presence of Harry made them worse than they were before. It’s not Harry’s fault, though – it’s because he’s a Horcrux. Horcruxes can turn even the nicest of people nasty. The same thing briefly happened to Ron – and he wasn’t around one for ten whole years like the Dursleys were.
Though it is a popular fan theory, J.K. Rowling’s writings on Pottermore seems to indicate that the Dursleys are, in fact, just jerks – and they were even before Harry came along. But at least there’s hope for Dudley, though. Whether affected by a Horcrux or not, he did attempt to make up with his cousin eventually.
6. Hermione’s cat belonged to another important character
In Prisoner of Azkaban Hermione adopts an unwanted cat, Crookshanks. But is there more to him than meets the eye? Crookshanks is suspiciously smart. He knows that there’s something up with Ron’s rat, which turns out later to be the transfigured form of traitor Peter Pettigrew. And he recognizes Sirius when Sirius turns into a dog.
So if Crookshanks recognizes those two people, was he actually a cat that belonged to the Potters? Well, in Deathly Hallows Harry finds a letter from his mother that mentions baby Harry running over a pet cat with his broomstick. Make of that what you will…
5. The obstacles in the first book foreshadow later events
In one of the most memorable passages in Sorcerer’s Stone, Harry and his friends fight their way past a series of obstacles. Fans think that the things they face represent struggles they’ll go through later on. First they have to face a problematic plant, the Devil’s Snare – just like the Whomping Willow that Harry and Ron encounter a book later.
The broom and keys puzzle represent the Quidditch match in Prisoner of Azakban, the graveyard chess game symbolizes the graveyard where Harry encounters Voldemort in Goblet, and the troll is representative of the fifth book’s Grawp. As for the sixth and seventh books, they’re symbolized by a potion puzzle – Half-Blood Prince has plenty to do with potions – and finally, the fight with Lord Voldemort.
4. Snape isn’t really dead
Snape fans just don’t want him to be dead. But maybe he isn’t? In 2018 that precise theory started circulating around. It started on Reddit, where a user called Der_Gottkaiser made a few compelling points. Firstly, Snape doesn’t appear when Harry uses the Resurrection Stone. Secondly, Snape’s body is conspicuously missing from the line of bodies at the end of the Battle of Hogwarts.
And lastly, surely a smart man like Snape must have sensed what was coming. “You think he wouldn’t have prepared for the possibility that Voldemort’s snake might turn on him? …I think Snape would have obviously taken some kind of prophylactic antidote beforehand,” Der_Gottkaiser wrote, pointing out that Snape is a potions professor. Who knows?
3. Harry’s scar isn’t just a lightning bolt
It’s one of the most iconic images of the Harry Potter franchise – a lightning bolt-shaped scar. But a realization dawned on fans after spotting a particular image in the Potter supplementary material. It shows the wand movement required to cast the killing curse.
And that hand movement creates… wait for it… a lightning bolt. Harry’s scar is actually the remnant of the failed curse! Fans on Twitter called on J.K. Rowling to confirm the theory, but as of yet she hasn’t mentioned it. Maybe she’s saving it for a future Potter story?
2. Pettigrew was invisible on the Marauder’s Map
Potter fans have long wondered something about the Marauder’s Map. If it showed every person in Hogwarts, why didn’t it show Peter Pettigrew? Didn’t Fred and George ever notice that someone or something called Peter slept in their brother’s room every night? Maybe there’s an explanation.
The simplest – and perhaps best – reasoning is that the Marauder’s Map had a charm on it which could hide the names of its makers. Seeing as how Peter was one of the creators of the map, no-one was any the wiser – until the map fell into fellow-creator Lupin’s hands. Lupin disabled the charm, saw Peter’s name and the rest is history.
1. Harry, Voldemort and Snape are the Three Brothers
Harry Potter features a story-within-a-story, “The Tale of the Three Brothers.” In it, these brothers encounter Death, who gives one the Elder Wand, one the Resurrection Stone, and one the Invisibility Cloak. The first brother fights to hold onto the power of the Elder Wand and is killed. The second tries to bring back a loved one with the Resurrection Stone and ends up killing himself.
The third one however doesn’t want anything and “greets Death as an old friend.” Fans theorize that the three brothers actually represent three characters. Voldemort is the brother with the wand who seeks power, Snape is the brother with the stone who wants to bring back a loved one, and Harry is the brother who greets Death – Death, of course, being Albus Dumbledore.