When the news first landed that JK Rowling was overseeing a play that would serve as the official sequel to the Harry Potter series, the overall response was enthusiastic, to say the least. After seven novels and eight big-screen adaptations, fans still weren’t ready to say goodbye to the Wizarding World, and welcomed the prospect of yet another adventure starring the Boy Who Lived. However, when Harry Potter and the Cursed Child finally opened in 2016, many fans’ excitement quickly turned to heartbreak. Despite garnering rave reviews from critics and a breathtaking number of awards, the play – penned by Jack Thorne, from a story by Rowling and original director John Tiffany – failed to impress a vocal contingent of Potterheads.
Complaints were particularly prevalent amongst those who only read the published script – those who witnessed the spectacle live on stage were initially content to overlook what quibbles they had. Yet even many fans who were initially swept up by the emotion and ingenious practical effects on display during a live performance of Cursed Child soon joined the chorus of dissatisfied voices online.
Objections to the play primarily centred around the mischaracterization of Harry (not exactly the world’s best dad), Hermione (no longer the cleverest witch on the block), and Ron (reduced to little more than comic relief). Beyond this, many fans charged Thorne (and by extension, Rowling and Tiffany) with crafting a narrative that flat-out didn’t add-up, both on its own merits and in relation to the wider continuity established in previous instalments.
Here are 20 Things That Make No Sense About The Cursed Child.
20 Draco Malfoy Has A Time-Turner
A “deus ex machina” is a type of sloppy plot device that has plagued stories since Ancient Greece – and sadly, one crops up in Harry Potter and the Cursed Child. For those not up on their storytelling terminology, a deus ex machina occurs in any work of fiction when a seemingly impossible scenario is overcome through a sudden, implausibly opportune turn of events.
That’s pretty much the best way to describe what happens in Act 4 of the play’s second part, when Draco Malfoy discloses that he secretly possessed another Time-Turner all this time. Not only is this beyond convenient – without this random revelation, our heroes would never be able to go back in time and rescue Albus and Scorpius – it’s incredibly clumsy writing, to boot!
19 Albus Potter’s Motivations
Albus Potter goes to a lot of effort – and causes a monumental amount of trouble – attempting to save the life of Cedric Diggory, who was bumped off in Goblet of Fire. Seriously: Albus meddles with history and nearly ushers in a dark alternate timeline, all to prevent Cedric’s tragic demise. The question we’re left asking is: “why?”
Albus – who, of all his siblings, struggles most with the weight of the Potter legacy – is shown to have an affinity for a fellow “spare” overshadowed by Harry’s central role in the fight against Voldemort. Given the strained relationship between Albus and Harry, it may make sense that he’d want to show up his famous father by rescuing somebody Harry failed. But ultimately, Albus’ motivations as presented don’t really justify the lengths he’s willing to go to on Cedric’s behalf.
18 MCGONAGALL IS STILL HEADMISTRESS
The epilogue of Deathly Hallows doesn’t (and, in fairness, couldn’t) wrap up the stories of every character who appears in the books and films. This left fans clamoring for answers regarding what happened during the 19 years between the end of the story proper and its brief dénouement.
Fortunately, author JK Rowling has been happy to fill in the blanks. Between interviews she’s taken part in, comments she’s posted on social media and content uploaded on the Pottermore website, we have a pretty good idea of almost everything that went down during this time. The only problem is, Rowling has occasionally contradicted this additional information later on. Professor McGonagall’s role in Cursed Child is a prime example of this. Rowling originally claimed that McGonagall was retired by the time the play starts – yet there she is, still headmistress of Hogwarts!
17 Why Didn't Albus Just Ask To Be In Gryffindor?
A major plot point in Cursed Child sees Albus Potter sorted into Slytherin and not his father’s house, Gryffindor. In many ways, it’s the inciting incident that sets the whole story in motion. Admittedly, Albus’ alignment with the Hogwarts House traditionally associated with the Dark Arts is a surprising development, and it’s a quick way to set up his outsider status.
However, it’s a turn of events that totally ignores Harry’s parting advice to his son in the Deathly Hallows’ epilogue. There, Harry makes it clear to Albus that if he desperately wants to be in Gryffindor, all he has to do is ask the Sorting Hat to place him there! Why didn’t he just ask?
16 Albus And Scorpius Shouldn't Be Able To See The Potters
In Act 4 of Harry Potter and the Cursed Child, Albus Potter and Scorpius Malfoy end up stranded way back in 1981, on the very night before Lord Voldemort tried to eliminate Albus’ father, Harry. In a series of touching scenes, the pair glimpse the final hours of Harry’s parents, including Lily Potter taking baby Harry out for a walk in his stroller.
The thing is, neither of them should have seen any of these moments. For starters, the Potters were in hiding, which rules out casual daytime jaunts through Godric’s Hollow. Then there’s the still-active Fidelius Charm cast over the Potter’s house, which should have prevented both boys – as well as everyone else who subsequently travels back in time, barring Harry himself – from peeking through the windows.
15 Harry's Scar Starts To Hurt Again
Prior to Harry Potter and the Cursed Child opening in London’s West End, JK Rowling reiterated on numerous occasions that Harry’s scar never again hurt him after Voldemort’s defeat. How could it? The pain was caused by a fragment of the Dark Lord’s soul that no longer resided within Harry – Rowling even clarified that the exact cause of the pain was said fragment trying to escape.
Apparently, this is another aspect of her original story that Rowling changed her mind about further down the line, considering Harry’s scar hurts once more in Cursed Child. That’s right: despite the play being set long after the destruction of both the link and soul shard, the Harry's lightning bolt inexplicably stings again when Voldemort threatens to return.
14 Time Travel Works Differently
Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban sets out the rules of time travel within Rowling’s fictional universe very clearly. Essentially, it treats time as a closed loop. Aby attempt to modify what occurred in the past in order to alter the future actually causes that future to happen. Need an example? When Harry journeys back in time to save his own life in Prisoner of Azkaban, doing so ensures he’s able to perform this very feat. It’s enough to make you go cross-eyed, but trust us, it makes sense.
At least, it did – until Cursed Child rolled around, and everything we thought we knew about time travel went out the window. Now, instead of Albus and Scorpius only being able to affect cyclical changes to the time stream, they’re able to unwittingly creating entire alternate timelines.
13 CEDRIC DIGGORY GOES DARK
Cedric Diggory was the epitome of what it meant to be a member of Hufflepuff House: he was diligent, fair-minded, and loyal. What’s more, Cedric was also exceptionally brave and good-natured – so not a guy you’d expect to join Lord Voldemort’s Death Eaters. That’s exactly what happens in Harry Potter and the Cursed Child, though.
In a dark alternate timeline where Cedric survives his tragic fate in Goblet of Fire. This version of Cedric was badly humiliated, to the extent that he later succumbs to the temptation of the Dark Arts. It's simply hard to buy this. Cedric was well-adjusted and inherently noble, not to mention a popular student supported by a loving father. It just doesn’t ring true that one event – however embarrassing – would drive him to act so wildly out of character.
12 VOLDEMORT HAVING A KID
Full disclosure: this entry relies a bit on conjecture – and pretty icky conjecture, at that. To get straight to the point: it's doubtful that Lord Voldemort was capable of fathering children. Harry Potter and the Cursed Child would have us believe that he could, with main antagonist Delphi being the result of Voldemort shacking up with Bellatrix Lestrange to sire an heir.
Would the Dark Lord have actually been fertile? His physiology was so severely warped from years of abusing the Dark Arts – including splitting his soul multiple times – that he wasn’t even properly human anymore, which seems to preclude the possibility of him becoming a dad. Of course, the solution here could be “magic” (as it often is in situations like this), but even so, it’s a bit of a stretch.
11 What About Harry's Other Kids?
Rowling, Tiffany, and Thorne decided to focus Harry Potter and the Cursed Child around Albus Potter. With the play picking up right where the epilogue of Deathly Hallows left off, it makes sense to build the narrative around Albus as he starts school at Hogwarts, and contrast his experiences there with those of his father, Harry.
With limited time available to devote to supporting characters – even in a four act, two-part extravaganza like Cursed Child – downplaying the role of Albus’ siblings was also a logical move. Yet the near-total absence from the narrative of his older brother James and younger sister Lily is jarring in the extreme, especially within the wider context of a series infused with themes of family.
10 Harry's Elder Wand Plan Didn't Work
Harry Potter fans only familiar with the big screen version of the story won’t be aware that the Elder Wand isn’t destroyed in the books. Instead, Harry stashes it in a secret hiding place, in the hope that he will retain mastery of it until he shuffles off this mortal coil. Once Harry passed, the bond between owner and wand would be broken with nobody else able to take it on – ending a seemingly unbreakable cycle of violence forever.
It’s a solid plan, but Cursed Child derails it completely. That’s because the play shows Harry disarmed and humbled by Delphi before reinforcements arrive. This means that none other than Voldemort’s daughter became the new master of the Elder Wand – and considering it required a group effort to bring her down, she probably still is, too!
9 Polyjuice Potion
By his own admission, Albus Potter is awful at brewing potions – which makes it truly baffling when he and Scorpius Malfoy are able to successfully concoct Polyjuice Potion in Cursed Child. After all, in Chamber of Secrets, it took a witch of Hermione’s pedigree to knock up a cauldron full of this shapeshifting gunk. What are the odds these two under-achievers would get it right?
Then there’s the speed with which Albus and Scorpius are able to brew their Polyjuice Potion. According to Chamber of Secrets, a whole month is needed for the ingredients to properly blend together. In Cursed Child, the Polyjuice Potion is ready to drink almost instantly – which helps keep the play moving along, but results in a huge continuity error.
8 Nott's Time-Turner
It’s a big deal in Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix when the Ministry of Magic’s entire inventory of Time-Turners is destroyed, as it renders time travel impossible from that point on. That’s because these magical devices are apparently fiendishly difficult to fabricate, and the subtext is that despite its sizeable resources, the Ministry won’t be able to replace its stores quickly.
Jow is it that an unremarkable wizard like Theodore Nott was not only able to build at Time-Turner all on his lonesome prior to the events of The Cursed Child, but one far superior to any we’ve previously seen? While we’re on the subject, if Nott was able to fashion the most powerful Time-Turner ever made, why did he hand it over to Lucius Malfoy, instead of using it to his own advantage?
7 The Trolley Witch
Part of the brilliance of the Harry Potter stories lies in how JK Rowling sneaks in small cameos by or references to seemingly insignificant minor characters, only for them to pay off properly later on. While this storytelling technique panned out spectacularly well for the likes of Sirius Black and Mrs. Figg, it falls flat for the Trolley Witch in Cursed Child.
The definition of a bit player, the Trolley Witch is the kindly old woman who travels up and down the Hogwarts Express corridors with a cart full of sweets. When she’s unveiled as a monstrous chaperone – she packs extendable, razor-sharp claws and exploding confectionery – charged with preventing students going AWOL, it’s easily the most bizarre moment in the play, if not the entire series.
6 SNAPE IS ALIVE
When Scorpius Malfoy explores the dark alternate timeline he unintentionally helped to create in Cursed Child, his most poignant discovery is that Professor Snape is still alive. Instead of meeting his end during the Battle of Hogwarts, Snape survived and became a member of the resistance against Voldemort’s totalitarian regime. Sadly, this proves to be a temporary reprieve, as the series’ most divisive figure willingly sacrifices himself soon after, to give Scorpius the chance to set things right.
It’s all very moving, but none of it should have ever occurred. Snape was never going to make it make it out of the Battle of Hogwarts alive, no matter how differently events unfolded. How could he, when Voldemort erroneously believed that dispatching him would grant him mastery over the Elder Wand, allowing him to defeat Harry Potter once and for all?
5 Since When Did Voldemort Even Want An Heir?
Although Lord Voldemort is an unfathomably cruel, malicious person, the rationale behind his dark deeds is quite easy to grasp: he wants to live forever. That’s simply all there is to it – he craves immortality, and he’s prepared to attain it at any cost.
When we learn in Cursed Child that the Dark Lord devised a “fail safe” plan to produce an heir and metaphorically cheat the reaper, it doesn’t quite square with what we know about him. The idea of achieving immortality through one’s family is a notion better suited to a champion of love like Professor Dumbledore, not an arrogant psychopath like Voldemort. Frankly, we can’t imagine Voldemort viewing any course of action that didn’t bestow literal eternal life upon him personally as a waste of his energies – and that includes having kid!
4 The Fake Moody Never Noticed Albus And Scorpius
In fairness, this entry is founded in the kind of nitpicking that can make Harry Potter fandom a frustrating beast – but it raises a valid point all the same. If Barty Crouch Jr. was keeping a close (magical) eye on the Triwizard Tournament events, how did he never once observe Albus and Scorpius sneaking around the grounds in Cursed Child?
After all, impersonating Mad-Eye Moody and rigging the competition so that Harry would win it required a ridiculous amount of hard work. It stands to reason that he’d use the X-Ray-enabled peeper at his disposal to make sure nobody interfered with his plans – particularly during the final challenge in the enchanted hedge maze!
3 Where Did The Second Prophecy Come From?
As the offspring of two prodigiously gifted wizarding parents – Lord Voldemort and Bellatrix Lestrange – Cursed Child baddie Delphi is unsurprisingly a supremely talented witch herself. At the same time, there’s no indication within the play that she possesses the prophetic abilities of a Seer. Not that she’d be expected to – we know from the Harry Potter novels that true Seers are extraordinarily rare, and there’s no evidence of any in her bloodline.
Which begs the question: where did the second prophecy – which foretells Delphi’s transformation into the Augurey and the return of Voldemort – come from? If it didn’t originate with Delphi, and there were no known Seers among the Death Eaters, how did this new divination come about, much less remain a secret?
2 Voldemort Is No Longer "He Who Must Not Be Named"
One of the scarier aspects of the dark alternate timeline seen in Harry Potter and the Cursed Child is how completely Voldemort has conquered the wizarding world. This manifests itself in everything from the emerald banners bearing the Dark Lord’s sigil that hang in the once-welcoming halls of Hogwarts to the greeting “Voldemort and Valor.”
However, this second element – despite evoking the rituals of real-world dictatorships – doesn’t jibe with the Dark Lord’s established modus operandi. As the books and movies showed us time and again, Voldemort’s greatest weapon – even more so than his unrivalled command of dark magic – was the fear he instilled in others. Why would he suddenly cool with people saying his name so freely, after decades of ensuring even his most loyal followers were too afraid to do so?
1 No One Noticed Bellatrix Was Pregnant
Arguably the biggest sticking point among fans who dislike Cursed Child is the matter of Bellatrix Lestrange’s pregnancy. Setting aside the accusation that such a hackneyed plot element smacks of fan fiction, the argument that Bellatrix simply could not have hidden her pregnancy is a compelling one.
Bellatrix was supposedly pregnant with Delphini during the events of Deathly Hallows, yet nobody noticed. Sure, it’s possible her flowing robes kept her baby bump hidden from Harry, Ron, and Hermione, but Draco was apparently none the wiser about the whole thing, despite sharing a house with her! True, Delphi could have been born prematurely and off the premises – and the ever-handy explanation “magic” could no doubt explain this one away, too. Nevertheless, Bellatrix’s pregnancy was almost certainly not part of Rowling’s original vision for the series.
What are some other things that make no sense in Harry Potter and the Cursed Child? Let us know in the comments!