The Harry Potter phenomenon really came out of nowhere, didn’t it? Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone released in the UK way back in June 1997 (September 1998 in the US, subtitled Sorcerer’s Stone), the debut novel from an unknown author named J.K. Rowling.
Yes, the talk of magic and such was enticing, but it was the story of a group of children at a British boarding school. It’s safe to say that nobody (including Rowling herself) expected this one to really strike a chord at all, let alone… well, we all know the impact that the Potterverse went on to have on popular culture.
Over two decades later, the franchise has a main series of seven books to its name, as well as a merchandise empire, a super-successful movie series (which is still going strong with Fantastic Beasts), theme parks, video games… not to mention one of the most supportive and enthusiastic fandoms anywhere on the internet.
Nevertheless, as with absolutely everything and anything in the public eye, universal popularity is impossible. Rowling’s franchise has its detractors, and even the most hardened fans will ensure their negative views are heard.
One o the most popular complaint that fans voice is their disagreement with such-and-such a relationship. Some Potter pairings have proven highly controversial in and of themselves, while others are just a little problematic when you look at them from certain angles. Let’s check out some of those pairings, and why fans might not be entirely settled with them.
Watch out for Potter spoilers throughout, if you aren’t up to speed with the main series’ story.
20 Harry Potter And Cho Chang
Now, here in the real world, we don’t often meet our perfect partner the first time around. Heck, I should probably say the right partner, as perfect partners don’t really exist. Compromise, give and take, adaptability, that’s what it’s all about (as Dr. Phil would probably tell you).
As Harry’s first foray into romance, it was unlikely that Cho Chang was going to be his forever partner. She was a vital slice of his character development (now that’s romantic), and his first kiss, but the relationship was hamstrung by Cho’s trauma over the loss of Cedric Diggory.
The book explored Cho and Harry’s relationship in much more detail, while the movie, being a movie, just couldn’t dive too deeply into it. It left things feeling just a little inconsequential.
19 Ron Weasley And Lavender Brown
Ah, yes. Ron and Lavender. So many of us have cringetastic stories of a relationship from our younger years, one that was just totally embarrassing later on. Like Ross’s afro and moustache in the Friends flashback episodes, only in the form of an ill-advised girlfriend or boyfriend.
You’ve got to get it wrong before you can get it right, friends. That’s what I always say. In the book and the movie alike, Lavender and Ron make for one of the funniest, most nauseating couples in the series. It seemed like quite an unlikely pairing that popped up out of nowhere, but lie Harry and Cho, it had to happen for both the characters’ development.
Lav-Lav and Won-Won weren’t destined to be together and their love wasn’t sort of thing Shakespeare would have written sonnets about, but it served its purpose.
18 Petunia and Vernon Dursley
Ah, yes. The dastardly Dursleys. Most people would tell you that they’re probably the worst couple in the franchise, and that’s a tough one to dispute. After all, in thoroughly and utterly spoiling Dudley and being outright neglectful and cruel to Harry, they’ve made two of the most glaring childrearing errors possible.
The curious thing is, their home at Number 4, Privet Drive is Harry’s ‘base’ for much of the series, and we learn later just how important that fact is (Harry is magically protected from Voldemort’s wrath while the place is still his home).
When the Dursleys have to leave their home in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, they’re not heard from again, or mentioned in the brief epilogue. Rowling later stated that Harry and Dudley would still see each other, for their childrens’ sake (Dudley would go on to have two Muggle children himself), though they themselves would mostly sit in silence.
As for Vernon and Petunia? We don’t really know whether Harry ever contacted them again.
17 Hermione Granger And Viktor Krum
Well, wasn’t this a turn up for the books? The familiar old movie trope strikes again: the seemingly-plain geeky girl winning the affections of the most popular guy in school. The international Quidditch superstar and the brilliant, library-loving studyaholic. Take that, cheerleaders.
Viktor Krum and Hermione Granger’s romance was a short-lived one, allowing Hermione to get her feet wet in that whole world (as with Harry and Cho and Ron and Lavender) while ultimately never really leading anywhere long-term. It did raise her profile by about 9000 notches, though (in the school and in Rita Skeeter’s writings), but that’s about as far as it went.
After the events of Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, all goes largely silent on the Krum front, but he also served his purpose: getting Ron to start to realise his true feelings for his friend.
16 Cho Chang And Cedric Diggory
As fans will remember, Harry had one heckola of a time trying to find a date to the Yule Ball. He admits himself that he’d rather battle the Hungarian Horntail again than ask a girl to be his date to the dance (a feeling lots of us probably remember from our own school days).
It’s Cho Chang that he’d like to date, of course, but when he finally manages to ask her in the owlery, she explains that she’s already going to the ball with someone. That someone is revealed to be Harry’s rival Hogwarts champion, Cedric Diggory.
We don’t know very much about Cedric and Cho’s brief relationship, or how close they became, but we see in the next school year just how profoundly the loss of Cedric affected her. The whole thing’s just far too darn sad to think about.
15 Lily And James Potter
Speaking of relationships that are just too darn sad to think about, let me direct you to the tragic tale of the couple that ultimately set the Harry Potter wheels in motion: Lily and James. Harry’s beloved parents had all manner of setbacks in their relationship, as just about every couple does, but overcame them, married and had one of the most famous children of all time: Harry Potter, the Boy Who Lived.
With Harry as the protagonist and all, it’s not surprising that his parents are central to some of the most emotionally resonant moments in the series: their Priori Incantatum moment in the graveyard, the Resurrection Stone, the time Harry believes he saw his father repelling the dementors (it was actually his future self)… it’s magical and inspirational stuff.
As we see in Snape’s memories, though, James and Lily had had an incredibly troubled beginning. Harry himself admits that it’s tough to see how they ended up together.
It’s quite an uncomfortable passage in the books (Lupin attempts to reassure him), and something else that even the biggest fans don’t really like to dwell on.
14 Remus Lupin And Nymphadora Tonks
We hear what you‘re saying, friends. We really do. Lupin and Tonks? How can we ever forget them? What blasphemy is this?
All we mean is, it’s a tough one to think about. This is another union that still brings a tear to the eye of fans all over the world. For once, the official story is just as sad as the headcanons and fan theories, and we just cannot cope.
It’s also true that, in the book and the movie, the duo’s grim demise in the Battle of Hogwarts is largely glossed over, as are the sad deaths of many other characters. This is a necessity for plot and pacing reasons, of course, but it definitely still rankles. We're just glad that their son, Teddy, got to make an appearance in the epilogue scene.
13 Harry Potter And Hermione Granger
Here’s another controversial pick, and a debate that continues to rage in the Harry Potter community: should Hermione have ultimately married Harry rather than Ron?
On a fundamental level, some fans argue, she and Harry would’ve been better suited. J.K. Rowling has even stated as much herself, confessing:
“I wrote the Hermione-Ron relationship as a form of wish fulfilment. That's how it was conceived, really. For reasons that have very little to do with literature and far more to do with me clinging to the plot as I first imagined it, Hermione ended up with Ron.”
Naturally, these comments did not go down well with some Potterheads, and the Ron and Hermione fans continue to absolutely reject the notion of any alternative coupling. No sirree bob.
12 Bellatrix Lestrange And Lord Voldemort
In any fandom, ‘shipping’ is always a super popular pastime. You know how it goes: you pick apart an official relationship from a show/movie/book/video game, find an alternative beau for one or other of the partnership, and imagine how that would’ve worked out instead.
Harry Potter throws up all kinds of possibilities on that score, but there’s one canon coupling that’s more uncomfortable than just about anything the community could put together: Voldemort and Bellatrix Lestrange.
That’s right. As we know from Harry Potter And The Cursed Child, the Dark Lord and his most trusted associate had a… well, some kind of relationship, and Bellatrix fell pregnant. She gave birth to a half-blood witch, Delphini, who was born before the Battle of Hogwarts.
The play’s plot revolves around her attempts to travel to the past, to discover more about her father and seek revenge for his death. The whole thing is uncomfortable, to say the least.
11 Albus Dumbledore And Gellert Grindelwald
Well, all of this was a little awkward, wasn’t it? After Dumbledore’s tragic demise at the close of Harry Potter And The Half-Blood Prince, all kinds of uncomfortable skeletons tumble out of the magnificent-bearded wizard’s closet. What was the nature of his relationship with Gellert Grindelwald, the handsome young man who became the most feared dark wizard since Voldemort himself?
That’s just it, isn’t it? The fact that they became super close and conspired together shakes up just about everything Harry thought he knew about the headmaster he so admired. J.K. Rowling has since detailed a little more of the ambitious pair’s romantic relationship, which she described on social media as being “incredibly intense.”
It all just goes to show the multi-faceted nature of the world and characters Rowling created, even if it’s tough to think about the goodly Dumbledore associating himself with such a man.
10 Minerva McGonagall And Elphinstone Urquart
Some of us were never really fans of Professor McGonagall in the books. It wasn’t until we saw Dame Maggie Smith’s take on her that we realized what a fantastic character she really is.
The legendary actress gave the Transfiguration professor a certain gravitas, an undeniable presence and several bucketloads of sass. She’s just an all-around great time.
It’s a darn shame, then, that she has such a tragic backstory. Aged only eighteen, she fell in love with Dougal Mcgregor, the son of a local farmer, and soon accepted his proposal. She soon realized that she could not go through with the marriage, as she would be losing her career and magical identity for him (as had happened between her own parents) and, for that very reason, couldn’t even explain to him why she left him.
Eventually, she married the wizard Elphinstone Urquart, a long-time suitor, and lived happily with him in a cottage in Hogsmeade. The two were devoted to each other, until Urquart’s accidental demise by a Venomous Tentacula bite broke McGonagall’s heart again, just three years into their marriage.
Why did you do this to us, J.K.? Why?
9 Gregory Goyle And Blaise Zabini
Well, no, this wasn’t a romantic coupling. Nevertheless, this is another fascinating case.
Viewers of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2 were surprised to note that, in a certain scene, Draco Malfoy wasn’t accompanied by his usual cronies, Crabbe and Goyle. Instead, he’s lurking in the Room of Requirement with a different duo: Goyle and fellow Slytherin Blaise Zabini.
There’s no on-screen explanation for this, nor was it intended on Rowling’s or the moviemakers’ part. Instead, this quick switcheroo came about because Jamie Waylett, who played Crabbe, got himself into some legal trouble at the time that prevented him from appearing in the movie.
As a result, Blaise had to stand in for him in the last movie. Not only that, but this actually meant that Crabbe’s life was spared. In the book, he’s the one that succumbs to the Fiendfyre he conjures, but poor old Goyle suffers that fate instead in the movie.
8 Lily Evans And Severus Snape
Here we are, with another super controversial entry on our hands. Potterheads, how do you feel about the whole Snape/Lily thing? Have you imagined how their relationship may have panned out, had it continued? Have you seen the snarky meme with the image of Daniel Radcliffe as Igor in Victor Frankenstein, which suggests this is exactly how Harry would have looked if Lily married Snape?
Yes. Yes, you have. This what being a Potterhead is all about. While Lily and Severus’s relationship was doomed to come to nothing, it was also one of the most significant in the series. Snape’s feelings for Lily never fade, and it’s precisely this which causes him to turn against Voldemort and, ultimately, have a pivotal role in his downfall.
Their non-starter high school romance itself, however, is another that’s best not dwelt on.
7 Draco Malfoy And Astoria Greengrass
Where do we begin with Draco Malfoy? One of the primary antagonists of the series, Draco torments Harry, Ron, and Hermione (and countless other non-Slytherins) throughout the story, though he begins to lose his characteristic sneering swagger as later events unfold. He remains hostile to our hero, though, and it’s not until the very end that he and his parents reveal that slither of goodness they have inside them.
As such, it was good to see Draco make a brief appearance in the epilogue, giving Harry, Hermione, Ron, and their families a curt nod before turning away. The book explains that he is also married and has a child, Scorpius, though his wife isn’t a familiar Slytherin from the series. Astoria Greengrass was a member of the house, though, and another who grew up in a fanatically pure-blood household.
Their experiences during the Second Wizarding War sobered them both on the subject, and it’d be nice to think that they raised their son to be more tolerant. It’s a shame we don’t learn anything further about the couple.
6 Draco Malfoy And Pansy Parkinson
Once again, we’ve got another case of an early romantic misadventure on our hands. When we encounter Draco Malfoy during the course of the series, he’s usually (as tends to be the case at Hogwarts) surrounded by a little gaggle of his fellow house members.
Among them is a girl named Pansy Parkinson, a member of Harry and Draco’s year who is quite besotted by Malfoy. There she is, cackling away at his antics, no doubt impressed by his family’s dubious fame and wealth. We don’t learn much about their romantic relationship on screen, and there’s no real confirmation of how serious (or otherwise) they were as a couple.
As we’ve seen, though, the pair didn’t marry (as well-suited for each other as the bullying pair would have been). Why? Let’s let J.K. herself field that one. When asked if Pansy became his wife, she replied:
“No! God, it wasn't Pansy Parkinson. I loathe Pansy Parkinson. I don't love Draco but I really dislike her. She's every girl who ever teased me at school. She's the Anti-Hermione. I loathe her. Yeah, sorry! Sidetracked there by my latent bitterness.”
5 Neville Longbottom And Luna Lovegood
It’s always the way, isn’t it? There are some couples, in the real world and in fiction, who just don’t seem to fit together. There’s something about them that doesn’t add up, but they go on to lead happy lives together regardless. By the same token, there are those couples you think are perfect together, but just don’t go the distance for whatever reason.
Love is a darn complex business, isn’t it? For us, one of those tragic couples would be Luna Lovegood and Neville Longbottom. Surely these two eccentric, loving, endearing souls would be happy together? The movie certainly suggests so, showing them sitting happily together as the dust settles.
Sadly, though, as we reported over on The Things, they’d have been great together, but they didn’t last. Ultimately, Neville married Hannah Abbott.
4 Hannah Abbott And Neville Longbottom
That’s right, friends. Sometime after Lord Voldemort’s final defeat, Neville Longbottom and Hannah Abbott married. Lots of us totally appreciated the whole Neville and Luna thing, but you can’t always get what you want.
What’s the connection between Neville and Hannah, then? The Hufflepuff student doesn’t have a major role in the overarching story, but as a member of Harry’s school year, she crops up various times around Hogwarts. From what we know of her nature, she’s actually an excellent fit for Neville, having shared a lot of the trauma he’s been through as well as his loving, nurturing nature and need for stability.
As a thoughtful fan wrote on Quora on the subject, “She’s a Hufflepuff- the coziest house - and the professions she chooses - tavern-keeper and Healer - suggest someone who’s really good at listening, at caring for people, at making spaces cozy and friendly and welcoming, someone with a warm heart and a loving nature. Just what Neville has always wanted.”
It's just a shame that all of this has to be inference.
3 Tom Riddle And Merope Gaunt
It’s darn sad when such a crucial relationship has to be entirely cut out of the movies. It’s just the way things go when you’re trying to condense a whole novel into two-and-a-half hours, but still, it’s a crying shame.
This is why you read the books and watch the movies, friends.
In the books, we learn about the tragic circumstances of Voldemort’s parents.
His witch mother, Merope Gaunt, fell in love with his Muggle father and knew that he would want nothing to do with her if he discovered she was a witch (not to mention the fact that he saw her as beneath him as it was). She bewitched the man with love-mimicking magic, but he promptly left her and the baby Voldemort once free of its effects.
All of this explains a lot about Voldemort’s own attitudes and adds just the slightest dose of sympathy for him. Sadly, this backstory is entirely forgotten in the movies.
2 Bill Weasley And Fleur Delacour
On that note, here comes another couple that you’re not really going to understand if you haven’t read the books. Fans are familiar with Fleur Delacour, of course; the beautiful Beauxbatons student first appears in Goblet of Fire as part of the delegation from the French wizarding school.
After the Triwizard Tournament tragedy, she takes a part-time job at Gringotts to improve her English, where she meets and develops a relationship with Bill Weasley. The pair’s wedding is central to the beginning of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 1, but in the movie, all of this backstory is glossed over. We don’t know anything of how the two of them met or came to be married in the first place, because we simply don’t have time to.
1 Rolf Scamander And Luna Lovegood
As we saw earlier in this rundown, then, the hilarious power couple that would’ve been Neville and Luna never came to fruition. The world is a slightly less brilliantly ridiculous place as a result, but that’s the way things were decided. You don’t question the will of J.K., you just bow to it.
Neville married Hannah Abbott in the end, while Luna wed Rolf Scamander, the grandson of the famous Newt Scamander. Rolf, too, was an eccentric soul who became a Magizoologist, an excellent fit for Luna (a quirky naturalist herself).
If you’ve seen the Fantastic Beasts movies to date, you’ll know that Eddie Redmayne’s portrayal of Newt makes one thing clear: if Rolf’s anything like his grandfather, it’s no surprise that Luna was smitten with him.