The Harry Potter universe is basically world encompassing at this point. You’d be hard pressed to find someone who hasn’t at least heard of the series, and just about everyone has read one of the books or seen one of the movies. Because of how large the fanbase is and how much larger the Harry Potter universe is, there has been a lot of analysis done on it over time, with hundreds of websites, blogs, and social media accounts entirely dedicated to looking into every sentence, every word in the series to determine exactly what they could mean.
Author J.K. Rowling has fueled a lot of this through answering fan questions on her personal Twitter account and through the continuation of the series with the website Pottermore and the recently released Harry Potter and the Cursed Child play. With her continued involvement and fans’ dedication to dissecting the series, even the most far-fetched theories seem like they could be possible. Still, here are the 17 craziest theories that Harry Potter fans have been able to dream up over the years.
17. Professor McGonagall is actually a Death Eater
This theory isn’t one with an incredible amount of evidence, but that hasn’t stopped a lot of readers from believing it. That’s right, there is a segment of Harry Potter that believes, or at least that in the possibility, that Hogwarts Professor Minerva McGonagall is actually a Death Eater in disguise. The theory draws on small comments and bits of evidence presented throughout the series, which highlights how unrealistic it is but also supports how hidden McGonagall would have had to keep her secret identity in order to stay undercover at Hogwarts for all those years. The first clue they present is McGonagall’s dismissive comment about muggles in Sorcerer’s Stone, where she calls them “not completely stupid.” They also cite her love of Quidditch, a sport often causing division between the houses, and her evidence of transfiguration, a craft entirely based on hiding one’s true self, as further evidence of her deception. Her disregard for the safety of Harry and his friends, taken by many as the professor trying to give the kids the freedom to learn on their own, is seen here as intentionally putting Harry in harm’s way with the hope of killing him and pleasing the Dark Lord.
16. Arthur Weasley was under the imperius curse
In this theory, Weasley family patriarch Arthur was placed under the Imperius curse by Voldemort and his Death Eaters during the Dark Lord’s rise to power, making him one of the few legitimate victims of the curse in a world where most of those who claimed they had been bewitched were just doing it to justify the actions they took under Voldemort’s reign. At the time, Weasley would have been a young up-and-comer in the Ministry of Magic, making him a perfect target for Death Eaters looking to get a foothold in the organization. It also cites Arthur’s particular hatred of Lucius Malfoy for his acquittal after blaming his actions on the Imperius curse, as well as his strong respect for Mad Eye Moody, who, the theory posits, was the Auror who investigated Arthur’s case and realized that he was telling the truth. Another large piece of evidence comes in Barty Crouch, Jr.’s (disguised as Moody) response to Ron correctly identifying the Imperius curse in Defense Against the Dark Arts class because his father told him about it. “Ah yes,” Crouch responds. “Your father would know that one.” This theory may be hard to confirm without a Rowling intervention, but it does seem plausible.
15. Harry hallucinated the whole thing while living in the Dursley’s cupboard
In this horribly depressing theory, the entire series is actually just a dream created by a starving and depressed Harry, stuck in the dark, alone in the Dursley’s cupboard. The “Harry is insane” theory may seem a little too Lost for a writer of Rowling’s caliber, but the author has actually gone so far as to address the idea that Harry might have dreamed it all. Her remarks came in response to a behind-the-scenes interview with screenwriter Steve Kloves, who, in writing his adaptation of the first film, invented a spider for Harry to talk to in the cupboard so that, when Hagrid first showed up, viewers might think, at least briefly, that he was hallucinating all of it. “I think that’s a fabulous point, and it speaks so perfectly to the truth of the books,” Rowling replied. “I’ve heard it suggested to me more than once that Harry actually did go mad in the cupboard, and that everything that happened subsequently was some sort of fantasy life he developed to save himself.” No denial from the outspoken author, though, so who knows.
14. Quirrell was trying to take out Neville during his first flying lesson
Everyone remembers the scene in which Neville nearly died during his first flying lesson at Hogwarts, solidifying him as everyone’s favorite clumsy but good-hearted Gryffindor. The first year, scared of taking a ride on a broom for the first time, accidentally kicked off early and ended up flying madly around the yard, falling off his broom and only saved from breaking his neck by his robes, which, luckily, his Remembrall reminded him to grab that morning (very fortuitous). However, it’s possible that this accident wasn’t due to Neville’s inherent clumsiness. Later in the book, Professor Quirrell, housing Voldemort in the back of his turban, tries to kill Harry by bewitching his broom during his first Quidditch match, causing it to act erratically and flying him every which way across the field, quite similar to what happened to Neville, who is also, coincidentally, the other Chosen One. Seems like Quirrell might have tried to do the same trick twice.
13. The Dursleys are so mad all the time because Harry is a horcrux
Everyone knows that the Dursleys are the worst. They are horrible to Harry throughout the series, and pretty have no redeeming qualities whatsoever except for their rare (let me repeat, very rare) moments of human decency. However, this theory might make you see the series’ worst family in at least a little bit of a better light— could the Dursleys be so awful because they’ve been living with a horcrux? Horcurxes are objects holding a piece of Voldemort’s soul, which, technically, includes Harry (although he’s not a full horcrux, he does have a piece of Voldy’s soul, and that’s got to bring some negative juju). Because of their close connection to the Dark Lord, horcruxes radiate negative energy and have horrible effects on the people around them. Readers got to see in Deathly Hallows what a negative effect a horcrux can have on someone’s personality, when one briefly took away sweet, best friendly Ron and replaced him with overly angsty, “turns his back on his friends” Ron. Considering how rude the incredibly friendly Ron became after just a few weeks in the presence of the horcrux, imagine how awful the Dursleys would be after living with Harry for years. Raise your hand if you now feel really bad for hating on the Dursleys so much.
12. Dumbledore is Death
The theory that Hogwarts headmaster Dumbledore actually represents Death stems from “The Tale of the Three Brothers,” told in Deathly Hallows. The story talks about three brothers who all try to cheat Death in their own ways, which many have compared to the journeys of Voldemort, Snape, and Harry throughout the series. Voldemort represents the oldest brother, who believes he can defeat Death but eventually falls due to his ego. Snape is the second brother, who spends his whole life focused on a lost love (Lily). Harry is the youngest brother, who was able to hide from Death for his whole life before choosing to embrace it. As some readers have pointed out, Dumbledore could also be associated with Death in this story. Not only is responsible for Voldemort and Snape’s demise, but he is also the one who greeted Harry at King’s Cross, and, on top of that, he’s the one who gave Harry the invisibility cloak of the youngest brother in the story. JKR herself has supported this theory on Twitter, calling it her favorite fan theory and saying that it is “a beautiful theory and it fits.”
11. The obstacles Harry, Ron, and Hermione face in the sorcerer’s stone foreshadow the rest of the series
In this theory, the obstacles that Harry, Ron and Hermione had to get through in order to find the sorcerer’s stone in the first novel are actually a road map for what’s to come for the troublesome trio, showing the many problems that they will face throughout their time at Hogwarts. The first trouble they have to face is the Devil’s Snare, a plant very similar to the Whomping Willow that Harry and Ron get caught in in the second book. The second trouble is the broom and winged keys, which are symbolic of the Quidditch match where Harry is attacked by Dementors in Prisoner of Azkaban. The third is the life size chess match, stylized like a graveyard— a puzzle leading up to death, similar to the maze in Goblet of Fire that, you guessed it, ends up with Harry in a graveyard. The next obstacle is a troll, just like Gwarp who appears in the fifth novel. The next is a potion puzzle, which is reflected in the sixth book’s emphasis on potions teacher Professor Slughorn and the half-blood prince’s potions book that Harry finds. Finally, Harry finds himself face to face with Voldemort, just like he does in Deathly Hallows.
10. Ron is Dumbledore
This theory builds off the theory about the Sorcerer’s Stone obstacles to somehow, eventually, after a lot of complicated connections, determine that Harry’s best friend Ron Weasley is actually a time-traveling version of Hogwarts headmaster Albus Dumbledore. It focuses specifically on the life-size chess game that the trio must get through, in which Ron plays both a Knight and a King. The chess match can be taken as a symbol for the larger war between good and evil in the series, in which Ron functions as knight, backing up his friend Harry, and Dumbledore as the king, masterminding and controlling everything. This theory is also backed up by some similarities between the two characters both physically and in their personalities. Both are redheads who have been described as having large hands. They’re also both obsessed with candy (although who isn’t), and our introductions to both of them involve sweets—Dumbledore offers McGonagall a lemon sherbet, while Ron teachers Harry about all of the crazy candy available in the wizarding world. One final nail in the “Ron is Dumbledore” coffin comes from the song that the other kids at school sing to taunt him, saying in one line that he was “born in a bin.” Bin, in Latin, is a prefix meaning “two,” implying that Ron was born twice.
9. Mary Poppins and Harry Potter are in the same universe
Mary Poppins and Hagrid may have a lot more in common than you think, at least according to this theory. Some readers hypothesize that everyone’s favorite magical nanny Poppins was actually a Hogwarts graduate, long before Harry and even Voldemort’s time. After graduating from the school, with most likely a much less dramatic track record than Harry and his friends, she chose to move back into the muggle world, but didn’t want to give up her magic, as shown through her frequent use of levitation and flying spells, as well as her magical, carry everything bag, similar to the one that Hermione carries in Deathly Hallows. In order to continue to use her magic in front of muggles without them getting too suspicious, she hid her wand in her umbrella, just like the Hogwarts’ groundskeeper. Poppins is able to talk away her magic to everyone except for Dick van Dyke’s chimney sweep Bert, who they hypothesize is either a wizard or a squib.
8. Crookshanks is Lily Potter, and other theories about Hermione’s cat
Crookshanks is probably the most theorized about cat in the universe. Hermione’s pet has been the subject of much speculation in the Harry Potter world, with a number of ideas circulating about his mysterious background. Some of the craziest? That he is actually a reincarnation of Harry’s mother Lily Potter, as evidenced by the their matching red hair and green eyes and the cat’s detestation of Ron’s mouse Scabbers, AKA Peter Pettigrew. Another theory states that Crookshanks isn’t Lily, but he did belong to her. It is revealed in Deathly Hallows that Harry’s mom had a cat, and, some readers believe that, after Lily’s cat disappeared during Voldemort’s attack on the Potter house, he eventually made his way to Hermione. The last isn’t exactly a theory anymore, since Rowling has confirmed it on her personal website (although the post has since disappeared), but many astute fans believed long before she admitted it that Crookshanks was half Kneazle, a breed of incredibly smart magical cats. This helps to explain Crookshanks’ looks, since Kneazles have tails like lions, and also explains his reaction to Scabbers, who, Crookshanks, being the smart cat that he is, would have known immediately was a fraud.
7. Willy Wonka is actually George Weasley
This theory connects yet another beloved literary character to the Harry Potter universe, in this case Roald Dahl’s Willy Wonka. This theory states that the famed sweets maker, is actually surviving Weasley twin George, who, after the events of Deathly Hallows, used a Time-Turner to travel back to a different era and make a new life for himself. Weasley used the knowledge from the candy empire he created with his brother Fred to restart his career in the muggle world. This helps to explain a lot of Wonka’s crazier inventions, which seem like they could only be possible with a little bit of magical help. The two even have even come up with some of the same candy inventions over the years, with both creating sweets that can help children get sick and skip school. The theory even points out some physical similarities between George and Gene Wilder, who played Wonka in the original Charlie and the Chocolate Factory film, with both having red hair and an eccentric fashion sense.
6. Harry is now immortal
One of the more popular theories, this idea looks in depth at the wording of Sybil Trelawney’s prophecy about Harry and Voldemort to show that, now that Harry has vanquished the Dark Lord, he is actually doomed to live forever. The prophecy reads, “either must die at the hand of the other, for neither can live while the other survives.” While throughout the series it is interpreted as Harry either killing or being killed by Voldemort, it can also be read as, if either Harry or Voldemort die at the hand of the other, the remaining one cannot die in any other way. This would mean that, since Harry has killed Voldemort, he cannot be killed anymore, since the one man who could end his life is gone. This adds to the many sacrifices that Harry has to make in the fight against Voldemort, since it means that he will never be able to see his parents and other deceased loved ones again.
5. Draco is a werewolf
In this theory, Draco’s dickishness is at least a little bit explained by his transformation into a werewolf at some point between the fifth and sixth books. Everyone knows by now that Draco’s father, Lucius, was pretty heavily involved with Voldemort, who is known to have just a little bit of a temper. Lucius wasn’t always Voldemort’s best servant, even though he did try his hardest, and, with all of the times that he failed the Dark Lord, it’s quite likely that he would have ended up on his bad side at some point. Some readers posit that, at some point, Voldemort got so mad at Lucius that he sent his lackey, the werewolf Fenrir Grayback, to find Lucius’ son and infect him as a punishment to his father. This helps to explain why Draco continued to struggle throughout the books. He would have had to hide the fact that he was a werewolf in order to maintain his social standing, something that was always important to Draco.
4. Horcruxes are created by cannibalism
Rowling has never revealed how horcruxes are created, which has led to a lot of discussion among fans about how the evil objects are brought into the world. One of the strangest but also most well-supported theories on the creation of horcruxes is that they are actually made via cannibalism. It fits with everything that we know for sure about horcruxes: creating them is one of the darkest acts of magic, and the process involves murder, a spell, and some other action that is horrifying enough to bring nausea to Slughorn, Hermione, and even Rowling’s editor. The theory posits that this horrifying act could be cannibalism, one of the darkest acts that is frequently connected with gaining strength and power from the dead, with Voldemort eating his victims after he or one of his agents kills them. This theory, obviously, doesn’t apply to Harry Potter, who Rowling has stated isn’t a true horcrux since Voldemort did not complete the proper ritual to make him one.
3. J.K .Rowling is Rita Skeeter
This theory doesn’t hold very much water, but it’s still fun to think about. Some readers have thought that J.K. Rowling may actually be Rita Skeeter, everyone’s favorite skeezy wizard journalist. In this theory, Skeeter, angry at the wizarding world and fired from her job at The Daily Prophet, decides to move into the muggle world and expose wizards once and for all by writing the Harry Potter series, revealing everything that the Ministry spent so long trying to hide. However, her plan backfired, as the muggle world took the story as fiction and her goals of revenge fizzled as she embraced the fame and riches that her true story brought her. In another, similar theory, Rowling is again from the wizarding world, telling Harry’s true story, only this time the author is a half-blood who chose to turn her back on magic in order to make money. Because muggles assumed the story was fiction, the wizarding world was powerless to do anything to stop her without exposing themselves.
2. Harry and Sirius are blood relatives
This theory may have been debunked by new platform Pottermore, but that doesn’t mean that people have stopped believing it. Some astute readers think that Harry and his ill-fated godfather Sirius are actually more than just spiritually related. According to these fans, the two are related by blood. The Black family tree includes a Dorea Black who married a Charlus Potter and had an unnamed son. Since the names of James’ parents are never revealed in the series, some thought that these might be Harry’s grandparents. Another possibility is that they are James’ grandparents, with their unnamed son as his father. However, it was revealed on Pottermore that James’ parents names are Fleamont and Euphemia Potter, putting a damper at least on the Dorea Black and Charlus Potter as his parents theory. Still, the grandparents theory still holds up, and it is also possible that James could be a cousin or second-cousin of Charlus and Dorea or their son.
1. Muggles and wizards have already fought each other, and the muggles won
This theory helps to explain one of the biggest plot holes in the series: why do wizards have to hide? They are clearly superior to muggles, and, if they were to live out in the open, they could hold some of the most powerful positions in the world. However, for some reason, it is incredibly important to wizards that their world stays secret, and, even stranger, they seem to have an incredibly limited knowledge of the muggle world. Some fans have theorized that the Ministry of Magic is a ministry just like any of the others in the British government, and the Minister reports to the British Prime Minister. This is a result of a war fought between muggles and wizards at some point in the Middle Ages, where muggles were somehow able to defeat the most powerful wizards and erase enough magical knowledge that they were able to create the Ministry and keep the wizarding world under wraps. This theory stems from a comment about the Ministry of Magic at the end of Goblet of Fire, when it is revealed that the ministry has to talk to the British Prime Minister about the fact that he is bringing a dragon into the country, implying that this is someone he has to report to. It’s reinforced by the fact that wizards of this age appear to be significantly weaker than wizards of yore, with even the most powerful ones like Dumbledore paling in comparison to famous wizards like the Peverells and the founders of Hogwarts.