15 Harry Potter Plot Holes You Could Fly a Broom Through
The wizarding world is such a complicated place that it was bound to get swallowed up in a Devil’s Snare of contradictions. It’s so famous for it that J.K. Rowling’s retconning addiction is a running joke in the fandom, but she couldn’t explain everything, and sometimes, she only made things worse.
The Trace is Selectively Enforced
The “trace” attached to every underage witch and wizard that lets the Ministry of Magic know if they’re using magic outside of school is flawed from the start because it can’t tell who did the magic, just that it happened near the magical kid, which is why Harry gets in trouble for Dobby’s antics at the beginning of Chamber of Secrets. But most Hogwarts students come from magical families who are doing magic around them all the time, and adults are constantly doing magic around Harry, including in front of the muggles Harry is later tried for exposing to magic. Considering how much of the Ministry’s time must be devoted to investigating these incidents, how do they ever get anything else done? Harry is also seen performing a pretty pointless lumos spell at home at the beginning of Prisoner of Azkaban, and if it apparently has nothing to do with muggle presence, he should be back in court, getting asked why he can’t just get a flashlight.
Magic in Front of Muggles is Illegal and Also Nobody Cares
One of the most important laws in the wizarding world is keeping its existence secret from muggles, so you’d think they’d take more care not to, you know, perform impossible feats in front of them. Look at these assholes flying right past manned ships and tourist attractions! (Yes, they’re more careful in the books, but they’re just flagrantly hanging broom here.)
Portkeys Work at Specific Times and Also Whenever
At the beginning of Goblet of Fire, it’s crucial for the gang to reach their portkey to the Quidditch World Cup at exactly the right time, but how could Barty Crouch know exactly when Harry would touch the portkey that took him to Voldemort later? J.K. Rowling later wrote that setting the portkey’s timer is optional, but obviously only because somebody pointed it out.
Polyjuice Potion (Sometimes) Changes Your Voice
When polyjuice potion is first used in Chamber of Secrets, Ron/Crabbe and Harry/Goyle still sound like themselves, even noting anxiously, “We still sound like ourselves.” Later, in Deathly Hallows: Part 1, all seven Harrys still comically speak with the voices of his co-stars. So why does Barty Crouch sound like Mad Eye Moody for a whole year? Was he just really good at impressions?
How Old is McGonagall?
It was commonly believed, based on how long she said she’d worked at Hogwarts in the books, that Professor McGonagall was born around 1935, so The Crimes of Grindelwald had fans jumping through hoops to justify her presence in a 1910 scene at Hogwarts. Such estimations place her birth in the late 1880s, but they’re forgetting about her engagement at age 18 to a muggle who was heartbreakingly killed in the First Wizarding War … at the age of 90 or so, apparently. Did 90-year-old Scottish farmers even exist in the ‘70s? Shouldn't she have just been happy he made it that far?
Dumbledore Aged Fast
During the Fantastic Beasts series, which takes place in the 20’s and ‘30s, Dumbledore is handsomely played by a forties-ish Jude Law. By 1938, though, according to the scene in Half-Blood Prince where Dumbledore first meets Tom Riddle, he’s become an only slightly de-aged Michael Gambon. It was a hard couple of years, apparently.
How Did Sirius Pay For the Firebolt?
In Prisoner of Azkaban, Sirius Black presents his godson with the gift of the best broom in the world, insisting he paid for it under Harry’s name but “told them to take the gold from my own Gringotts vault,” which has to be a lie because owling in an order to be paid for by the most wanted criminal in the wizarding world would have set off every whatever wizards have instead of alarm bells.
How Did Azkaban Escapees Get Their Wands Back?
When a wizard convict is sentenced to Azkaban, their wand gets confiscated, but Sirius, Bellatrix, and the many other people who have broken out of that supposedly inescapable prison are seen using wands after their jailbreak. Did they just go back to Ollivanders? Weren’t they a little worried someone would see them?
Why Even Have Locks?
A lock-breaking spell is so rudimentary and unregulated that it’s apparently taught to first-year Hogwarts students. Why bother using locks at all in the wizarding world?
Why Have Any External Secret Keepers?
Harry’s parents were famously killed because their “secret keeper,” a designated person who is the only one physically able to reveal a magically encrypted location, turned on them, but it’s later revealed that you can be your own secret keeper or, in the case of a couple, each other’s secret keepers. Why on earth would anyone ever not do that?
Only Mature Death Lets You See Thestrals
After the events of Order of the Phoenix, Harry realizes he can see the thestrals that pull them to school at the beginning of each year, previously thought to just be invisible horses. It turns out you can see them once you’ve seen death, but Harry had already seen quite a bit of death at that point: first his mother’s as a baby and then Cedric’s in Goblet of Fire. The baby one can be excused because babies (especially nearsighted ones) don’t actually see anything, but Rowling later backtracked to say that you can’t see thestrals until you’ve truly “gained an emotional understanding of what death means,” which Harry apparently hadn’t as he cried over his classmate’s body.
The Weasley Twins Never Noticed Peter Pettigrew on the Marauders’ Map
In Prisoner of Azkaban, Harry sees Peter Pettigrew on the magic map that shows everyone’s location at Hogwarts, gifted to him by the Weasley twins, which was weird because Pettigrew was famously killed by Sirius Black. It turns out Pettigrew was actually trapped in the body of Ron’s pet rat, so the Weasley twins either never noticed their little brother was constantly hanging out with a ghost or just never mentioned it to anyone? That doesn’t seem like them.
The Weasley Twins Somehow Guessed the Map’s Password
“I solemnly swear I am up to no good,” the phrase needed to “unlock” the Marauders’ Map, seems like a wildly specific combination of words to hit on by accident, but according to Rowling, that’s exactly what happened, and that’s why she’s bullshit.
It Should Have Been Easy to Clear Hagrid as the Heir of Slytherin
Family trees are extensively documented in the wizarding world -- you might have noticed that some wizards are kind of obsessed with it. The only reason Tom Riddle wasn’t recognized as the heir of Slytherin who could open the Chamber of Secrets was because his birth wasn’t recorded, but his mother was known to be among the last descendents of Slytherin, so it’s not like they didn’t know where to look. Hagrid’s father was a wizard, so any relation he had to the Slytherin line would have been known, and his mother was a giant, so that rules her out. He wasn’t even a Slytherin!
How Did Harry Come Back to Life Horcrux-Free?
Rowling has explained that the horcrux inside Harry wasn’t destroyed by Fawkes’s tears in Chamber of Secrets because “a horcrux can only be destroyed if its container is damaged beyond repair,” but Harry was very repaired by the end of Deathly Hallows. He didn’t have so much as a limp! He didn’t even actually die, according to Rowing, so does that mean the last horcrux was never really destroyed? Could Voldemort technically still come back? Is this all just a setup for the inevitable sequel series when they run out of fantastic beasts to find? Dammit, Joanne!
Top image: Warner Bros.