Harry Potter is a wonderful world of magic and wonder. It’s captivated its fans for years now, and shows no sign of stopping any time soon. Unfortunately that doesn’t mean that the universe, or its writer, is infallible. Mistakes happen.
More often than not, fans are willing to overlook these mistakes – unless they happen in a movie, and then we’re all too gleeful to point them out. It’s unlikely that any of us will ever get over Peeves being left out, or the lack of calm contained in a certain question.
For all the wonder that Harry Potter contains, it too has some continuity errors that directly result in the canon of the world being ignored, intentionally or otherwise. Here’s a list of the most jarring concerns about the canon of Harry Potter.
10 Accio Inaccuracies
This is probably one of the complaints that is easiest to ignore. We see accio used…well, a lot, in the course of the novels. It’s convenient, and anybody that didn’t want to reach for their TV remote can certainly appreciate what it can do.
However, the rules seem to shift from time to time. At one point we’re clearly told that accio cannot be used on any living creature. This makes sense, and honestly is a comfort in many ways (except for Neville, who probably would have loved a faster way to find Trevor). During the Deathly Hallows we’re flat out informed of exactly this happening. Dean Thomas is on the run with some others, and together they accio up some fish from the river for dinner. It’s smart, but it does raise some eyebrows about accio.
9 Timeline Concerns
Another relatively minor complaint would be the times when the timeline doesn’t quite match up. A lot of it could be explained away as the imperfect memories of the students, but that almost feels too easy.
Obviously not all of the actors’ ages linked up with the characters they were playing – especially in the case of the professors and other adults. So we’re going to overlook that a bit. But there were continuity issues based on when certain characters were said to be hanging out with others.
For example, we’re told that Bellatrix and Snape tended to hang out with the same people in school. But Bellatrix is actually ten years older than Snape, and even graduated a year before Snape started. This could just be referring to summer time and the like, but it seems off. The Bellatrix/Snape age difference also brings up another concern. Bellatrix is ten years older, yet she was only seven years ahead in class. Perhaps she was held back a year or two? Does Hogwarts even do that?
8 Colin Creevey and His Muggle Camera
We’re told time and time again that muggle electronics will not work in Hogwarts. The reason for this is that there are simply too many enchantments on the grounds, and the electronics just can’t handle the proximity. It makes sense, though you have to admit that phones would be a lot easier than owls (owls, while cute, do bite).
Yet Colin Creevey brought his camera with him to Hogwarts. It’s an older model, to be sure, and perhaps that is the reason why it works? That or there is something else going on. But without an explanation given, the presence of the camera is jarring and more than a little bit confusing.
7 Secret Keepers
The rules of Secret Keeping aren’t clearly defined, but we’ve been able to glean a lot simply from the number of examples given during the course of the books. A Secret Keeper is the person who holds a location secret. They know where it is, and only they can tell others where said location is. Any other attempts to find the location should, in theory, completely fail.We saw this in practice a lot over the course of the series. Harry’s parents used it, before they were betrayed. Grimmauld Place likewise had the enchantment placed upon it, though it became less secure upon Dumbledore’s death (as he was the original secret keeper). Bill and Fleur’s cottage is another example.
The most important rule we learned from all of these examples? You can be your own secret keeper. Bill was for his cottage, after all. That means that the Potters didn’t actually have to rely on anyone when Voldemort was hunting them. So why did they?
6 The Trace
The Trace is a bit of an odd concept, once you learn more about it. The intent is to control underage witches and wizards from using their magic outside of the school. However, it’s not terribly exact, and thus seems kind…ineffective.
The Trace doesn’t actually follow individuals, as in, it can’t tell if the underage wizard cast a spell, or if a spell was merely cast nearby. Thus when a spell is cast within a wizarding household, the Ministry assumes that it was the parents and leaves it be. That is the reason Harry got in trouble during the Chamber of Secrets. He was the only wizard in the house, so when magic was detected, he was assumed to be at fault.
The problem here is that this isn’t the only time magic was used in Harry’s house. Mr. Weasley cast several spells when he was picking Harry up at the beginning of The Goblet of Fire. We can probably assume that he informed the Ministry of his intent to pick up young Harry though, and write that example off.
There were two other instances though, where the people fetching Harry were trying to be covert. Both times that the Order of the Phoenix retrieved Harry they were trying to be discreet. By that time they had lost faith in the Ministry – and thus presumably didn’t inform the Ministry of their actions. Yet they cast spells as well. Why did the Ministry not react to these actions?
An Obscurial is probably the most heartbreaking thing that could happen to any wizard child. An Obscurial is a child who suppressed their magic, usually due to the abuse in their life (targeted towards them being a witch or wizard). The magic becomes a parasitic force, and will eventually kill the child – in most cases. This parasitic force is known as an Obscurus.
Based on what we know about Obscurials, one has to wonder. How did Harry manage to avoid becoming one? His aunt and uncle hated him, and clearly knew about his abilities. They actively tried to suppress them, going so far as to not allow him to use the word ‘magic’ and punishing him whenever anything even remotely odd occurred.
It’s no small miracle that Harry didn’t end up in a worse situation, all things considered.
4 The Maurader’s Map
The Maurader’s Map is a shockingly powerful map created by four students, the Mauraders. We’re obviously aware of who they are, but most students are not. The Maurader’s Map not only covered every inch of Hogwarts, but it showed every person on the grounds as well. It was up to date, and could get around almost every trick we know.
So we’ll start with the elephant in the room for this one. It’s the running joke among many; how on earth did Fred and George not notice that their brother was sleeping with a man named Peter Pettigrew? Or, did they notice and not say anything? We know that there’s no chance that Peter didn’t show up on the map – Harry himself saw him at one point, after all.
The Maurader’s Map sees a lot more than is possibly should. It can track an animagus on the grounds – a feat we haven’t heard of before or since. It can also see through Harry’s invisibility cloak. As in, the cloak that according to legend was so powerful that even death himself couldn’t see through it. Yet four young boys managed to find a way to do just that.
3 Moody’s Eye
Speaking of the ability to see through things. Moody’s magic eye is incredibly powerful. We’ve known since his introduction (even if it wasn’t actually him at the time) that the eye can aim in different directions, see through walls, and who knows what else. There are a few things we have to wonder about though.
Such as the fact that Barty Crouch Jr., as Mad-Eye Moody, was able to see Harry through his invisibility cloak. Now, before you argue saying he simply guessed that Harry was nearby due to the items found – let us remind you that Harry waved to Moody, and he reacted accordingly. This means that Moody saw him. Once again, this means that the eye saw through a cloak that could beat death. Makes you wonder.
Another thing we have to wonder about. During the cleanup at Grimmauld place, Molly Weasley asked Moody to confirm that there was a boggart in a desk upstairs. He confirmed this without even entering the room, thanks to his eye. Unless the boggart could tell it was being looked at – from a floor and several rooms away – that means that Moody saw the true form of a boggart. Something we’re told that nobody has ever seen.
2 Minerva McGonagall in The Crimes of Grindelwald
This complaint is so strong, and so obvious, that we just couldn’t leave it out of the list. Even though the mistake is really all due to the movies. Professor McGonagall’s appearance in The Crimes of Grindelwald.
Her appearance infuriated some fans, as she shouldn’t have even been born yet – let alone being a professor already at Hogwarts. The timelines just do not match up. The Crimes of Grindelwald takes place in 1927, while McGonagall wasn’t born until 1935. We know McGonagall is a dedicated teacher, but that’s just going a little bit too far.
Granted, we don’t have a confirmation on the year McGonagall was born. Fans have been able to figure it out based on her timeline, bits and pieces of information dropped throughout that give us a strong impression of it all, including her birth.
1 Time Turners in The Cursed Child
What happened in the Cursed Child infuriated some fans enough for them to declare that as far as they’re concerned, it isn’t canon. And there are plenty of reasons they’d be upset, even as far as following the agreed upon canon is concerned. We’re going to ignore the whole Voldemort having a daughter thing, because that’s a whole different can of worms.
But what about the time turners? We were specifically and explicitly told that there was a limit on how far one could go back using them. The limit wasn’t even a day – so you could never, ever go back years, let alone decades. And yet exactly that happened during the Cursed Child. It broke every rule we had been taught about the magical device.
And that’s ignoring the fact that they were all supposedly destroyed during the battle within the Ministry. It was a side event, sure, but it was rather iconic in its own right, and stuck out to many fans. So we’re not going to let that go either.
These two factors make the time turners the biggest canon rules broken within the Harry Potter universe. At the very least, they’re the most frustrating and offensive to many.