As much as we want to say that Queen J.K. Rowling can do no wrong, even the best of writers can leave mistakes and inconsistencies in the final draft. Over the years since the Harry Potter movies and books came out, fans have taken to obsessing over the smallest of details about the Wizarding world, which has led to some.... confusion.
Harry Potter fans on Reddit were asked: "What are the biggest plot holes and errors in the series?" These are some of the best answers.
One thing that always bothered me was that Tom Riddle basically stumbled upon the entrance to the Chamber of Secrets, when the entrance was in the girls' bathroom. Assuming that girls used to use this bathroom before Myrtle died, how did he get away with constantly going in there? Like okay maybe he only went late at night, but no one ever noticed anything weird going on in that bathroom? Just seems odd to me, maybe something Rowling overlooked...
I don't quite understand the trace with regards to underage Wizards performing magic.
The trace is fixed upon an underage Wizard before he comes of age, hence the Ministry being able to detect underage magic immediately whenever the underage Wizard does it. But I still don't quite understand the following situations.
Is it traceable by location or by person?
When Dobby did the Hover Charm (in year two), the Ministry couldn't differentiate whether it was indeed Dobby or Harry Potter who performed it. That suggests the Ministry can only detect some kind of magic at a particular address they have on record as being the residence of an underage wizard?
However, when Arthur Weasley visited Harry Potter at Privet Drive (in year), he did a lot of magic, including magically dodging the teacups Mr. Dursley was throwing as him, and as well as performing an anti-engorgment charm to return Dudley's tongue to a normal size. So how did the Ministry differentiate who actually performed that magic?
Moreover, at The Burrow, what happens if an underage Harry or Ron performs magic? Can't the elders simply say they performed magic instead?
Aside from fines, where does the money come from to support the substantial infrastructure of Britain's magical society like the Ministry, Hogwarts, and the hospital? Especially since this society only produces 40-60 citizens per year (the number of magical kids per year at Hogwarts, minus the kids from non-magical families).
There is no excuse for them to be out-of-touch with the Muggle world.
Between the Minister of Magic working alongside the British Prime Minister, the Departments in the Ministry of Magic specifically designed to handle Muggle Affairs, a freaking Muggle Studies class at Hogwarts, and so many Muggleborns/Half-Bloods integrated into wizard society, why do wizards act surprised or bewildered by things non-magical people do? More importantly, why dont they embrace some aspects of Muggle life (excluding the minority of racist Purebloods).
Take Hogwarts school supplies for instance. Why would anyone want to use a heavy roll of parchment instead of just carrying around a couple notebooks? Or constantly dip their quill in ink every five minutes instead of using pens (or better yet, pencils). Maybe give these kids a driving lesson or two, so we dont have dumbos like second-year Harry and Ron flying enchanted vehicles without a license.
And why exactly is technology banned at Hogwarts? And how have students (Ravenclaws especially) not figured out how to override the magical restrictions? Last I checked, these preventive spells were cast back when the most advanced thing was the radio, so theres no telling how it can disable microprocessors and satellite signals.
So in The Philosopher's Stone, in order to steal the stone, Quirrell must get Dumbledore out of the way. In order to do this, he fakes an urgent owl from the Ministry. This is without any doubt the worst plan anyone has ever had and it is only made more ridiculous by the fact that it works.
Quirrell sends the letter in the afternoon; when Harry tries to warn Dumbledore he has already left. However, Quirrell doesn't seem to go after the stone until the evening. It is certainly after everyone has gone to bed when Harry, Ron and Hermione depart. How did Quirrell know Dumbledore would decide to fly to the Ministry instead of apparating, using floo powder, or getting Fawkes to teleport him? All of which would have been much quicker and easier than flying. Okay, he would have had to go out of the Hogwarts ground to Apparate but that's still going to be a lot easier than flying to London (I know in the films he can apparate from inside Hogwarts but I don't know if there is a good book example of this).
Not to mention it was an urgent owl. How many people think, "Oh an emergency. I must find the slowest method of magical transportation." Dumbledore could have apparated/floo powdered his way to the Ministry, found out he wasn't actually needed, and been back all inside about half an hour. He could have been home before Quirrell even got past Fluffy, making it unnecessary for three 11-year-olds to brave death by poisoning, Voldemort, and being clubbed by giant chess pieces. Does Dumbledore want Harry to go after Quirrell? Because - reminder - he almost dies.
It's made clear in the last book that Dumbledore knows Quirrell is after the Stone. He introduces Harry to the mirror of Erised, he makes it so there's a path to the stone, including Devil's Snare which is conveniently mentioned in first year Herbology. Harry is with Hagrid when he picks up the 'top secret' package. What's that supposed to do except make Harry curious? And then, of course, Dumbledore is conveniently out of the way at the critical moment. As is Snape.
So Dumbledore wants Harry to confront Voldemort? Does he think Harry can finish Voldemort? Maybe. He hadn't come across Riddle's Diary yet, so he may not have realized Voldemort had Horcruxes. Still, Voldemort failed to die the last time, so I don't know if I buy it.
Best guess he's using his mirror trick to test Harry's intentions. To check Harry's not too attached to life to die when necessary. To get the stone, you have to want it, but not to use it. You have to value the greater good. Are there better ways to do this than to nearly kill an 11-year-old and his friends? Yes. Also, Harry pretty much burns Quirrell's face off and kills him, in a move that leaves surprisingly few emotional scars.
After the trio escape from the wedding, they are attacked by two death eaters at the cafe in Tottenham Court Road.
Ron says, "You're the boss. I've never done a memory charm before."
Hermione says, "Nor have I. But I know the theory."
This is false, as she has already put a memory charm on her parents before.
There is a lot of confusion regarding the day after Voldemort kills Lily and James. Voldemort shows up on the evening of the 31st, kills Lily and James, and dies himself. Harry is picked up by Hagrid reasonably swiftly, and then not delivered until the next evening on Petunia and Vernon's doorstep.
Why does this take 24 hours? Why is Dumbledore choosing such a slow method of transportation when it isn't even 100% clear yet what has happened to Voldemort and his followers? It looks like Hagrid just shows up and they leave the kid on the doorstep, and that Harry was never out of Hagrid's care. Was there no effort taken to examine Harry? To figure out what had happened and if he was in any way hurt?
I understand that it is important to leave Harry with his aunt so he is protected, but surely you are going to want to take a look at a kid who just survived one of the most dangerous spells in existence, if only to make sure there are no lingering health effects that might reveal themselves while he is living with the muggles.
Harry had a broomstick lesson in his first week, and accidentally auditioned for the Quidditch Team.
At no point in the next seven years did he have another.
I know he hardly needed one, but not once in the remaining books do they mention another broomstick class for anyone.
In The Goblet of Fire, Harry went to the prefects' bathroom on Cedric's advice to solve the clue of the golden egg. While returning, he accidentally got stuck in the trick step. Quoting from the book -
The golden egg fell through the tapestry at the bottom of thestaircase, burst open, and began wailing loudly in the corridor below.Harry pulled out his wand and struggled to touch the Marauders Map, to wipe it blank, but it was too far away to reach.
The map slips out of Harry's hands to the foot of the stairs, and Harry tries to reach it with his wand from under the invisibility cloak. Now, think about this. At this point, Harry had already completed the first task, summoning his broomstick from inside the castle. Why the heck wouldn't he do an "Accio" and summon the map, instead of trying to reach it with his wand? He already knows the charm, and it is still too fresh in his memory for him to overlook it.
This qualifies as a very big plot hole as it resulted in Barty Crouch Jr. getting hold of the map, which he later uses to spot and kill his father, Barty Crouch Sr. If he didn't have the map, Barty Crouch Sr. would have met Dumbledore and told him all about his death eater son as the fake Mad-Eye. Harry wouldn't have been transported to the graveyard, and Voldemort wouldn't have regained power. Maybe Crouch would even have disclosed Voldemort and Wormtail's location, and they would have been caught.
If only Harry had used the summoning charm...
Why don't Fred and George ever notice Peter Pettigrew? Why doesn't Harry, for that matter?
But the twins more so, because they have had two-and-a-half years to notice that there's a strange man sleeping with their brother. What gives?
I think there are a few things going on here. Firstly, it might not be that clear on a map exactly how close people are. There's only a certain amount of room for names, so things will probably get nudged out of place a bit. Therefore, it might not be clear Ron and Peter are in the same bed, just the same room. And how interested would Fred and George really be in Ron's dorm-mates? It's not like 'Peter Pettigrew' would necessarily ring any bells for them. Though Gryffindor House is fairly small, so they might think it was a little odd.
The other thing is that Fred and George are using the map to get around the castle and avoid trouble (ie. teachers, Filch, Mrs Norris). They probably just aren't that interested in Ron's sleeping arrangements. Why would they be looking at Gryffindor Tower at all? After their first year (before Ron even starts) they are probably only using the map to check for trouble. They've probably pretty much learnt the secret passages. So it's open map, no Snape, do what you need to do, get out.
Lupin only notices because he is watching Harry, Ron and Hermione in case they sneak out. There are over a thousand people on the map. You aren't going to be looking at all of them.
The sheer amount of stupidly powerful spells, potions and magical items in the Harry Potter universe that never get used to their full potential is a bit maddening. Ranging from Felix Felicis (that allows you to literally achieve anything you want) to port keys (allowing you to kidnap people by having them accidentally touch an everyday item) to the Imperius Curse (allowing you to have anybody else do anything you want from him) to the Vanishing Spell (vanishing animate or inanimate objects) or Baruffio's Brain Elixir (a potion increasing one's brain power).
Some of these things are supposed to be rare, while others are used every day. Either way, it begs the question: why they are not used more often in the wizarding world, especially when it comes to crucial plot points?
When Hagrid and Harry depart from the island on Harry's birthday, they have this little exchange: "How did you get here?" Harry asked, looking around for another boat. "Flew," said Hagrid.
But how did he fly? It's not like he can do Voldemort's bat trick. He states in The Order of the Phoenix, "I don' fly, meself. Well, look at the size o' me, I don' reckon there's a broomstick that'd hold me." He does say that he can ride Abraxian horses, but Hogwarts doesn't have any, and Thestrals would probably be too small.
I'm sure you've thought of the obvious solution here. Hagrid flew in on his motorcycle (the one Sirius gave him). When Hagrid flies, that's generally how he does it. Harry doesn't hear anything to suggest the motorcycle was flying in, but possibly the storm drowned it out. I agree this is almost certainly how Hagrid arrived, but what happened to the bike? Did it fly back on its own? Is it weirdly sentient like the Ford Anglia? Did someone summon it back? It's certainly not on the island when they leave.
Also, they leave the Dursley's stranded on a remote island because they take the only boat.
"The troll is in the dungeons."
"All students please return to your dormitories."
LIKE WHAT THE HECK DUMBLEDORE? I MEAN, I KNOW YOU PROBABLY KNEW THE TROLL WASN'T THERE, BUT WHAT IF IT WAS? THAT'S WHERE THE SLYTHERIN AND HUFFLEPUFF DORMS ARE!!! THE DUNGEONS!!!
Say you are a wizard. You probably know at least 100 spells. While some require precise wand movements and concentration, we never get an indication in the books that spells consume anything or quickly drain you of energy.
Ergo, there is no limit to casting them.
Advanced wizards can even cast spells without reciting them and there are countless examples throughout the books of how certain spells can be cast almost instantly.
So, in any magic fight, why would you hold back?
Instead of, say, sending an Expelliarmus at Dolohov, why not do the following in roughly 30 seconds? (Aimed at different opponents.)
Protego - Expelliarmus - Expelliarmus - Expelliarmus - Confringo - Confringo - Stupefy - Stupefy - Incendio - Incendio - Protego
While it is established in The Goblet of Fire that the Unforgiveable Curses require concentration and power (Mad-Eye Moody says: "You could all get your wands out now and point them at me and say the words, and I doubt I'd get so much as a nose bleed...") this is not the case for most other spells.
Harry is exhausted after practicing Accio dozens/hundreds of times for his first trial in Goblet of Fire, but thats to be expected. There seems to be no other proof in the books of casting having these kind of limits.
Of course, wizards like Dumbledore could still keep a powerful shield charm up and block the entire barrage, but in a room full of people it would make more sense to cast as many spells as quickly as possible so youre bound to hit someone.
Its actually rather similar to combat in real-life. On a battlefield, you dont lock yourself in a duel with one guy and send one bullet his way. No, you try to suppress the enemy or overwhelm them with superior force.
Now, dont get me wrong, I do believe that the magic fights and duels we see in the books and movies are superior to these chaotic barrages (although I would have liked to see a slightly higher frequency of casting spells). However, what Rowling should have done is establish her magic system early on and impose some more limits to it. Thats the big error here.
How is Ron able to imitate Parseltongue? Throughout the series, a big deal is made of Harry being able to speak snake. Only the evilest of evil wizards are supposed to be able to speak the tongue, and it is considered very dark magic in the wizard world. Later we find out that Harry automatically got the ability as he had part of Voldemort's soul inside him
And then in the last book, Ron somehow imitates the words Harry spoke to get the chamber of secrets to open. Just like that. No evil wizardly black magic stuff. Just imitating the sounds just like with any other language. Which makes me think... what was the big deal with Parseltongue again?
If a teenager can mimic and learn the language by memorizing the sound (which is how every language is learnt orally) why can't all the thousands of wizards who are Voldemort supporters and from Slytherin not learn and take pride in this language? Heck, all Slytherin households should have compulsory Parseltongue home schooling. It would also be a great secret language among themselves which the good guys couldn't crack.
House points in Harry Potter really don't make much sense. In the first 3 books (they're hardly mentioned after that) people are furious with Harry, Ron and Hermione for losing them 100s of house points. In real life, hardly any of the students would care about some arbitrary points system set up by teachers, but would think Harry, Ron and Hermione are heroes for smuggling dragons or sneaking out at night. Why would a brat like Malfroy care if he got house points?
To me, it's odd that everyone always approaches situations where they meet someone else in good faith, assuming that person is who they say they are. Transfiguration and Polyjuice Potion are used repeatedly throughout the series to create convincing disguises, and yet people still don't reach the obvious conclusions when their best friends or significant others are acting strangely.
It's always just, "Hey what's gotten into you today?" Not, "Uh, are you really who you say you are, or are you using one of the many widely known ways of taking on the appearance of another person?"
I realize that things like Polyjuice and Transfiguration are fairly complex potions/spells, but it seems like most of the wizards we meet are at least aware of them, and they're used so frequently throughout the series that people should at least approach situations with more skepticism than we see.
The killing curse kills you in a flash of green light and you crumple on the spot. You are definitely not thrown like a rag doll from the Astronomy tower. Unless you are Dumbledore.
Snakes. Dont. Have. Ears. Honestly, snakes have very poor hearing. Yes, they can hear sounds but not the sounds an eleven year old boy can make with his voice. Snakes are limited to a 80Hz to 600Hz range. Thats like the sounds you hear coming from one of those cars with oversize speakers when you have your windows rolled up.
This pretty much makes a mess of the whole Parlseltongue business. Hissing is something snakes do, but snakes cant hear the hissing of other snakes. Snakes might be charmed by low notes on a cello but certainly not an oboe!
A Secret Keeper is basically somebody who becomes the living embodiment of a secret. One of the biggest involvements of Secret Keepers in the story is in the murder of James and Lily Potter. Voldemort was unable to find the two of them because they had cast the Fidelus Charm and their location was protected. They chose to make Peter Pettigrew their Secret Keeper and were later betrayed by Pettigrew who ratted (pun!) them out to Voldemort, leading to James and Lily being killed.
Several questions here.
Why could James and Lily not have made one of themselves the Secret Keepers? Later on in the books, we find that Bill (Weasley) was made a Secret Keeper for Shell Cottage, and Arthur was made a Secret Keeper for Aunt Muriels place. So, why couldnt James or Lily have been their own Secret Keepers?
Also, if for some reason they could not be their own Secret Keepers, why did they choose Peter with such crucial information? Why not Sirius or Remus? I would say that James was definitely closer to Sirius than he was to Peter, right? The explanation given was that everybody would suspect Sirius to be their Secret Keeper and target him, and torture the information out of him. However, in Pottermores Book 3, Rowling wrote that, The secret cannot be forced, bewitched or tortured out of a Secret Keeper who does not wish to give up their secret; it must be given voluntarily.
If this is correct, why would they pick Peter and not Sirius or Remus who, I imagine, they trusted more than Peter even if he was a close friend. It would have been the safest with Sirius. Or if not with someone in their friend group, why not a powerful and trusted witch like Minerva or someone like that?
Another issue I have with this: if Dumbledore had narrowed down the two boys in the prophecy to Harry and Neville, why didnt he just have both their parents hidden away and make himself their Secret Keeper? I assume that would have kicked Voldemorts plans right in the bucket, no? NO?!
James and Lilys deaths are really what kicks this entire story off. Its a little odd to have this weird dichotomy present in the events surrounding their deaths.
I always wanted to know why Hermione didn't just use the Time Turner to also take more naps so she wasn't so strung out.
Some of this material has been edited for clarity.