Let’s be honest: it’s a little weird that the world loves the Harry Potter franchise as much as it does. Sure, it makes sense when you think about it, as there’s nearly infinite things to love about the books and films and stage plays that take place inside the wizarding world. There’s action, adventure, magic, danger, romance, heartbreak, butterbeer, and everything in between. So then what’s weird about Harry Potter? Well, everything.
The story of the boy who lived – and all the stories that have come before and after – are inherently insane when you get down to the details. With all of J.K. Rowling’s complex magic rules and spells and the sprawling nature of the wizarding world, even 16 years after the release of the first film fans are still unpacking everything there is to know about Harry Potter. But perhaps what needs the most unpacking are the simple details of the film (and book) series that we’ve come to accept over the years.
While we may have blindly loved everything there was to love about Harry Potter, looking back through the films there are a few glaring moments that make you say out loud – to no one – WTF!? That’s not to say that the Harry Potter franchise is any less magical, but it’s fun to look back and ask “What the hell were they thinking?” So that’s what we’re going to do.
Here are the 15 Most WTF Moments In Harry Potter.
15. Dementors as Prison Guards
For all the wonderfully caring, responsible people in positions of power in Harry Potter there seems to be an equal number of insane maniacs. Sure, there’s Hagrid and Dumbledore, but there’s also Bellatrix and Voldemort. And aside from the list of deranged villains that everyone knows, we also have to look at the Ministry of Magic and people we assume to be good, because as it turns out, they do some pretty messed up stuff.
Look no further than the use of Dementors as magical torture devices in Azkaban prison. Described as creatures that “drain peace, hope, and happiness out of the air around them,” for a society that pretends to be as enlightened as the wizarding community it’s pretty messed up that they sic them on prisoners that are already locked away forever. Although it’s worth noting that Dementors are no longer used by the Ministry of Magic, there was still a long period of time when – aside from guarding children at Hogwarts – they would suck out the souls of prisoners and leave them with a fate worse than death.
When we were younger and more innocent the Time-Turners in Prisoner of Azkaban were nothing but the coolest in wizard tech. Then we got older and more jaded, and we started to do what all adults do; ponder the implications of time-travel. And thus we were brought to one of the biggest WTF moments in all of Harry Potter; the insane inclusion of a Time-Turner, a plot device that undermines nearly everything that happens before and after its introduction in Azkaban.
When Hermione is granted permission to use a Time-Turner at Hogwarts, she ends up reversing much of the plot of the film in order to reach the inevitable conclusion. But if Time-Tuners are so easy to use that even a teenager could do it, then we’re left wondering what exactly the point is of anything in Harry Potter? Why not go back and save Harry’s parents and kill Voldemort? As it turns out, J.K. Rowling herself even regretted bringing Time-Turners into the wizarding world and ended up publishing a bunch of made-up rules about why they aren’t reliable; after the fact of Azkaban. She says they’re dangerous, they can only send you back five hours, and – after Hermione using her Time-Turner – all of the Ministry’s stock were destroyed. So yea, there’s a lot of ways to think about Time-Turners, but no matter how you cut it all it really ends up being is a time-consuming mess.
13. Dumbledore Charging At Harry
All throughout Harry Potter the one thing that’s made entirely clear is how calm, reasonable, and understanding Dumbledore is. He’s the father figure everyone wants, and he knows better than anyone what they need. So when Harry puts his name in the goblet in Goblet of Fire, why does Dumbledore – out of literally nowhere – go postal on Harry, charge toward him, yell in his face, and freak the hell out? Yeah, we can’t figure it out either.
Even stranger than this entirely out of character moment for Dumbledore is the fact that this exact scene was in the book, albeit handled entirely differently. The book takes care – with only one word – to explain exactly how Dumbledore reacts to Harry’s deed. The exact passage is, “Did you put your name into the Goblet of Fire, Harry?” he asked calmly. Calmly. He asked it calmly, because that’s what Dumbledore does all throughout his life so as not to panic. And yet here we are, left forever wondering why Dumbledore had a split-second character change that changed nothing, but somehow changed everything.
12. Voldemort Hugging Draco
It’s clear that Voldemort hugging Draco Malfoy in The Deathly Hallows Part 2 was intended to be uncomfortable, but was it also intended to be the most awkward scene in the history of cinema? Sure, the moment makes sense, and we can even – if we try really hard – buy into the idea of Voldemort hugging someone. But the way he did it, the look on both their faces, the uncomfortable laughter we will forever remember hearing in the theater; it all makes this moment worthy of being on this list.
The thing about this moment is that it wasn’t in the film’s script. In fact, actor Tom Felton himself revealed that Ralph Fiennes and him did around 25 takes for the scene as it was written before Fiennes finally decided – on his own – to go in for the awkward hug. Maybe some saw it as menacing and some saw it as hilarious, but no matter how you saw it you have to give credit to those in charge that it was left in the final cut; because it’s all we’ve been talking about ever since.
11. Harry Wanders the Woods in Deathly Hallows
Deathly Hallows is intended to be a slow, plodding film where the characters find themselves and face the villain they’ve been waiting to face for the past six films. We get that it wasn’t easy for Harry to be the savior of wizardkind and come up with some magical plan to restore goodness to the world and destroy Voldemort once and for all. It makes sense. But what doesn’t make sense is how Harry, Ron, and Hermione chose to find themselves; by going into the woods FOR MONTHS and wandering around without a single idea in the world as to what they were doing.
Sure, Harry and co ended up saving the world. We get it. But there must have been a better way to figure out his life and how to save the lives of everyone else than just up and abandoning everything. If he didn’t know how to destroy the horcrux, maybe he should have consulted some people and found some answers? Or at least attempted to look for answers? Or at the very least pretended to look for answers. Instead he just goes into the woods and stumbles around for a while.
10. Moaning Myrtle Was Played by a 37 Year Old
This entry could speak for itself as we all know that Moaning Myrtle is meant to be a moody teenager. It’s kinda the only point of her character. She moans, her name is Myrtle, and she’s a teenage ghost. So unless ghosts somehow keep aging once they turn into ghosts, why in the world is Moaning Myrtle played by a 37 year old actress named Shirley Henderson?
We’re all for the best actor getting the part, and to be fair it’s not like Myrtle seemed way older than Harry in the films, but that’s besides the point. The point here is that – as good of a job as Henderson did in the role – she was born in 1965 and Daniel Radcliffe was born in 1989. By the time Goblet of Fire was released Henderson was 40 years old and still playing the same eternally teenaged ghost; therefore making her the oldest actor to portray a Hogwarts student in the entire film series.
9. Did Anyone Know Snape is the Half-Blood Prince?
It’s our understanding of plot points that if one is included in the title of the film, it would at the very least be casually talked about, right? Wrong. The WTF moment in the Half-Blood Prince comes from the fact that the Half-Blood Prince is never presented as a big deal, nor is it adequately explained in any way whatsoever. In fact, most casual Harry Potter fans wouldn’t know what the title Half-Blood Prince means, that the Half-Blood Prince is a person, that the Half-Blood Prince isn’t Harry, or really anything at all; because, again, no one cares about it in the film.
In the end it turns out that Snape is the titular Half-Blood Prince, as he was born to a wizard mother named Eileen Prince and a muggle father, Tobias Snape. So yeah, he’s got half-wizard blood and his mother’s maiden name is Prince. It’s all explained right there. You’d think someone could have told the audience rather than leave the whole thing as this weirdly unmentioned step-child of a title.
8. Harry Potter and the Brown-Eyed Plot Point
There has been much buzz and fervor online regarding this particular point, and while the actual moment that the outrage spans is so small in the overall scheme of the films, it still irks fans to this day. And let’s face it, what is the internet for if not to make a huge deal out of tiny things and then argue endlessly about them?
To understand this WTF moment one simply needs to pay attention to what’s right in front of them throughout the whole series. As most people remember, Harry Potter having the same eyes as his mother is presented as a big deal. Such a big deal that Snape ends up turning on the Death Eaters in order to protect Harry in the end; because he was in love with his mother. So, yeah, if Harry Potter’s eyes are meant to be the exact same as his mother, why was the one flashback of Lily Potter – a part that was almost 100% visual – played by an actress with brown eyes, instead of Harry’s green eyes? How hard would it have been to just, you know, pick someone with green eyes? Or even change it with CGI after the fact. Or even hire anyone – literally anyone – to use Microsoft Paint and fix this issue so we’d all stop talking about it already.
7. What is Slytherin Teaching its Kids?
No one wants to be in Slytherin. Except the super messed up kids that we all knew growing up and certainly had nothing to do with. You want to be in Gryffindor, because it’s the thing to do. If you can’t get into Gryffindor, then sure, hope for Hufflepuff or Ravenclaw and prepare for a life of mediocrity. But don’t hope for Slytherin, because – again – no one wants to be in Slytherin.
Nonetheless, every year the Sorting Hat ends up sending kids to Slytherin and those kids end up being totally evil jerk-buckets. Sometimes they end up trying to destroy the world, other times they end up pursuing a life of simple murder and crime. So the question becomes, what the hell are they teaching kids at Slytherin house? And maybe they should, you know, stop teaching it? Or at the very least hold some type of weekly counselling for the deranged people that come through the door of Slytherin, as it seems simply unacceptable to have a quarter of Hogwart’s population be crazy maniacs.
6. Hogwarts’ Punishment for 11 Year Olds is What?
At most schools around the world if you get in trouble you get a detention. In the past, you’d get slapped on the wrist, but that deemed cruel and unusual punishment for anyone, let alone a small child. So it’s weird that in Hogwarts’ world if you do something wrong as an 11 year old you are forced to confront the very real possibility of death by being sent into the Forbidden Forest and facing monsters in order to carry out menial chores.
Maybe whoever came up with the rules regarding Dementors in Azkaban figured out this one, but no matter how hard we try we can’t. Sure, Dumbledore did send Hagrid to protect Harry and the gang feat. Draco in the woods, but then Hagrid ran off when he saw Voldemort. So now what we have are three unaccompanied children in a Forest crawling with giant spiders, wolves, centaurs, and trolls, facing one of the most evil wizards who ever lived. Maybe next time just give the kids detention?
5. The End of Every School Year is a Nightmare
Movies – specifically those contained in multi-billion dollar franchises – follow formulas. That’s just how Hollywood works. So when the new teacher always ends up being the big bad and Harry saves the day at the end of each film, we kind of accept it and enjoy the film despite its formula. But what we’re less willing to accept in a franchise with eight films is how every time the huge world-shattering climax involving Voldemort waits until the end of the school year to present itself.
If we were Harry we’d just lay low all year and start getting worried when the last month of school rolls around; because that’s when everything’s going down. No matter how much originality is packed into a Harry Potter instalment, there will always be this flaw staring us right in the face. Not to mention that it’s a good thing Harry graduated from Hogwarts when he did, because – of course – Voldemort waited for his last year at the school before he chose to show himself for his final battle with Harry. Would the world have just collapsed if Harry had graduated a year earlier?
4. The Legality of Love Potions
Anyone with a passing knowledge of Harry Potter knows about the three unforgivable curses; The Killing Curse, The Cruciatus Curse, and The Imperius Curse. Anyone with anything more than a passing knowledge of Harry Potter should then be questioning; why the hell are love potions not one of the unforgivable curses? This question becomes even more clear when you dig deeper and realize that a love potion is essentially an offshoot of the Imperius Curse as it causes a victim to lose all self-control.
In theory it may sound nice and innocent to be able to create a potion that would make someone fall in love with you. But what happens when the potion runs out? What happens when the person you’ve just drugged wakes up and discovers what you’ve done to them? Although the real-life equivalent to love potions are horrific and need no explaining, it seems that the creepy non-consensual aspects of the potions are often overlooked in the wizarding world.
3. The Climax of Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them
Let’s talk about the ending of Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, which of course, would include a SPOILER WARNING. Although the movie was a worthwhile continuation of the wizarding world franchise, the movie ends in such a manner that it’s difficult not to scratch one’s head and walk out of the theater wondering if that really just happened.
Yes, the climax of the film was the explosive murder of an abused child. Also worth noting is that the film – and thus the Fantastic Beasts series – stemmed from the story of Harry Potter, a child that overcame his own childhood full of abuse. So when Credence is essentially obliterated in a police shooting and everyone just kinda walks away and says “oh well,” we’re left wondering what the hell anyone was thinking when deciding to wrap up a blockbuster film in that fashion. Sure, it’s worth noting that a final scene featuring Credence surviving and getting on a boat to somewhere else was originally shot, but when the scene was taken out out of the final cut it makes the point moot, and thus puts all the emphasis back on the supposed death of a (mostly) innocent person.
2. Why Was the Triwizard Tournament Brought Back?
The Triwizard Tournament was a gloriously violent competition held every five years where wizards of various schools would compete against each other in different challenges. Of course, as the tournament started to turn bloody and led to the death of students, it was put to an end in 1792. Again, that’s 1792. A time when everyone pretty much died from everything; but even to them this tournament had an unnecessary high death toll. Nonetheless, according to Dumbledore it was a great idea to bring this tradition back!
Yes, the Triwizard Tournament is only for wizards of age, but nonetheless Hogwarts and any other school should no doubt have the best interests of their students in mind. And death probably isn’t in the best interest of their students, no matter how much magical collaboration the tournament may foster. In the end – despite whatever intentions Dumbledore may have had to keep the tournament safe – it’s revival resulted in the death of Cedric Diggory, something that probably could have been avoided by simply not bringing back the tournament famous for killing students.
1. The School Should Have Closed in Chamber of Secrets
Let’s face it, Hogwarts students always seem to be in danger and no one ever seems to care. Everyone always makes a big deal about how great Dumbledore is, but if he’s so great then why does Hogwarts constantly fall into a state of disarray and horror? For all the mistakes that Dumbledore has made, perhaps the biggest black mark on his record of safety is this: he didn’t close Hogwarts during the events in the Chamber of Secrets.
This one can’t be explained away like some of the other screw ups in Hogwarts history that came out of nowhere; everyone knew this was coming. The fact is that the last time the Chamber of Secrets was opened at Hogwarts during the 1943-1943 school year several students were petrified and countless others were put in direct danger. So when the same thing happened in Harry’s year, it’s not like there was no precedence. Once Filch’s cat and a staggering number of students were petrified, someone should have stepped in to close down the school. Instead, no one did anything, leaving Harry to kill the Basilisk on his own and save Ginny Weasley; two things that wouldn’t need to have been done had Dumbeldore just closed the school when danger was imminent.
Which of these moments from Harry Potter fill you with confusion and make you say WTF? Are there any we missed? Let us know in the comments!