Harry Potter: 15 Things That Don't Make Sense About The Potter Family

Since its release in the late 1990s, the story of the boy who lived has captivated audiences worldwide. Harry Potter amassed a massive fanbase, one which was only significantly increased by the film adaptations and merchandising. The wizarding world of Harry Potter has quite a large history of lore behind it, being one of the biggest worlds to come out of a fantasy novel in the last few decades. The world of Harry Potter was instantly popular and has sent fans on a craze to divulge the secrets hidden beneath the story's nooks and crannies. Occasionally, they’ve found some things that don’t quite add up.

In the vast background of these novels and movies, there's bound to be some inconsistencies somewhere along the line. Whether it be between the books and movies or their own separate entities. Of course, for as big of a role as the Potter family plays in these stories, they are not exempt from fans looking to put the pieces together. It’s only natural that there would be somethings found about the famous family that would wrack your brain a little.

Here are 15 Things That Don't Make Sense About The Potter Family. 

Continue scrolling to keep reading

Click the button below to start this article in quick view

The Dursley Family in Harry Potter
Start Now

15 Harry Having No Other Living Family Besides The Dursleys

The Dursley Family in Harry Potter

Harry Potter is one of the most tragic characters in all modern fiction. His parents were eliminated by Voldemort, half of the school perishes for him (spoilers for an eight-year-old ending) and he has to spend his young life living with his last living blood relatives, the Dursleys. Good ol' Aunt Petunia and Uncle Vernon take him in quite begrudgingly, treating him like dirt due to his unknown magical origins, while spoiling their son Dudley until his head is as big as a Whomping Willow. Enduring years and years of sleeping in a cupboard under the stairs would do a lot to someone, but surprisingly Harry turned out alright when his letter to Hogwarts came. However, did he really have to endure all that abuse? In a family as big as the Potters, were there really no others that could take him in?

Seriously, there was no distant relative that Harry could have stayed with? Not even a cousin Bob? 

According to Pottermore, Harry’s ancestors were all only children, but there is no mention of cousins or other branches of the family that could be accounted for. With a family as large and vibrant as the Potters, it’s hard to believe that the only one even blood related was Harry’s mom’s sister. If he had just one cousin or great aunt or another family member of some sort out there, then he could have grown up without the horrible experience of living with the Dursleys. He also might not have turned out to be such a compassionate and caring character, if he had not endured those hardships so, maybe it was for the best.

14 The Age Of James Potter's Parents

James and Lily Potter in a moving photograph

Speaking of last living relatives, most kids get to know their grandparents. It’s rare that the previous generation is gone before their grandkids get to meet them, especially if their kids decide to have children at an early age. One of the most baffling things about the Harry Potter story is how Harry’s grandparents were gone before he was even born. According to the books, James and Lily Potter married when they were 18, having Harry not long after. Author J.K. Rowling posted about this subject on Pottermore, attempting to explain the inconsistency by explaining that James’ parents had him very late in their life, living only long enough to see their son marry Lily before succumbing to dragon pox within days of each other.

It’s an explanation, but not one that makes a lot of sense. It’s perfectly normal for people to live that long (as Harry’s grandparents were born before the 1900s and passed away in 1979). However, it’s very incredibly rare to have a child so late in life. James was born in 1960 which means that his parents would have been well into their later years, much past the time of having a child. While this might be true for humans, perhaps their magical roots is what allowed them to have a son so much later in life. It has never truly been explained how by either the books or the author, so for now we’ll just have to use our imaginations. It’s what Rowling would have wanted after all.

13 Harry’s Eye Color Is Different From His Mom

This one is more of an inconsistency in the movies than the books. It’s something that has long since had fans irritated, while not making  any sense. In the books, Harry is described as having a thin face, messy black hair and bright green eyes. Throughout the different entries in the series, characters often comment on how Harry has the exact same eyes as his mother. A trait which is normal for a son to have picked up from his mother. Once the movies came around and the role of Harry Potter was given to Daniel Radcliffe, the crew realized one difference. He had blue eyes instead of green. Well, no biggie, right? He can just wear green colored contacts to match with the characters origins. Nope!

Tomato, Tomahto. Blue eyes, brown eyes. Same difference. 

Turns out Radcliffe was allergic to the contacts, a condition in which the crew just had to settle. Still, no big deal. Changing his eye color wasn’t something that big that fans would complain about. They can just give his mom blue eyes as well! However, fans were lit up when the child that was cast as his mother had brown eyes instead. It’s very possible that it’s a detail the crew might have just forgot, with film sets being very busy. But, as much as his eye color is mentioned, with it being his rival Professor Snape’s dying words, it was an unforgiveable mistake for some fans. His eye color is the one piece of himself that others see his mother in. Would it have really been that hard to find an actress with blue eyes? C’mon Warner Brothers.

12 James Exiting Voldemort's Wand First

Lord Voldemort Casts a Killing Curse in Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire

The end of The Goblet of Fire was incredibly intense. It featured Harry falling into a trap set by his arch nemesis Voldemort, who further captures the young boy and uses him to return to his former power. After killing Cedric Diggory, Voldy challenges Harry to a duel in an attempt to humiliate him. This doesn't quite work out in the way Voldemort had hoped. Due to both of their wands having the same core, they are referred to as brother wands. When two brother wands go head to head, they create a reverse spell effect known as Priori Incantatem. This causes the spells cast by one of the wands to release a shadow of spells it had recently cast, starting with the most recent spell first. To put it in simpler terms, when these two wands match, all of the spells are released as “shadows” in reverse order. Obviously, Voldemort had been doing a lot of life taking before his defeat, so his duel with Harry resulted in his most recent victims rising from his wand.

The inconsistency comes in the order. Throughout the books, James had been described as losing his life before Lily when Voldemort came to take Harry Potter. If that is the case, Lily should be first to rise from the wand, before James. However, the book describes James as being the first to leave the wand, a fact inconsistent with what the books had said previously. This led many to believe that J.K. Rowling was revealing a secret truth about the Potter’s passing away, but the author insists the mistake came from writer’s fatigue. These books are pretty long you know!

11 The Potters Trusting Peter Pettigrew With Their Secret Location

Peter Pettigrew waving and escaping

Upon learning that they had a place on Voldemort’s list as his next victims, Lily and James Potter decided to go into hiding to keep their newborn son, Harry, away from the fiend. To keep their location a secret, the pair cast a Fidelius Charm. The Fidelius Charm is a spell that renders the caster’s location invisible, untraceable and soundproof. There’s a catch though. In order for the spell to work, the knowledge of the secret must be kept with someone called the ‘secret keeper.’ This information is then magically locked within the secret keeper’s soul and cannot be known unless the keeper chooses to divulge it willingly. In choosing a secret keeper for their location, the Potters chose Peter Pettigrew as they believed this choice would throw off Voldemort. When Pettigrew turns out to be a rat (literally) for the dark lord, their secret is exposed and Voldemort subsequently eliminates them.

Never trust a rat. 

While their choice makes sense in theory, it doesn’t make sense according to the nature of the spell. The Fidelius Charm can only be given voluntarily and cannot be released if the keeper is being threatened or tortured. This means that if the secret had gone to any of the Potter’s other close friends, such as headmaster Dumbledore, Voldemort would not find out unless Dumbledore wanted to tell him. They had chosen to go with Pettigrew as they believed it would throw off Voldemort and keep their friends safe. However, they could have easily kept hidden if one of their friends wanted to be a sacrifice for them. It was a mistake that cost them their lives, but put the story into motion for their famous son.

10 All The Potters Being Placed In Gryffindor

Harry Potter being sorted by the Sorting Hat

When students arrive at Hogwarts every year, they are placed into one of four different house. Kind of like a fraternity for wizards. These houses include Hufflepuff, Ravenclaw, Slytherin and of course, Gryffindor. Students are not allowed to pick house, instead that is the duty of the Sorting Hat. The Sorting Hat is a very old hat created by the founders of the four houses and sorts students into their respectable houses based on their traits. The hat is placed on a student’s head and can take anywhere from a second to five minutes to decide where the student should be placed, promptly shouting the house they go to from its cloth mouth. It can read a student’s thoughts and have a conversation with them . Though often very accurate in its sorting, the hat has been known to make occasional errors. But, it will always back its original choice.

When Harry arrived at Hogwarts, he was sorted in Gryffindor after some consideration, a choice which the hat made for his father and ancestors before him. The hat considered placing him in Slytherin too, a choice which was ultimately made for Harry’s son. But, how do all the Potter boys end up being put into Gryffindor? The traits of a Gryffindor are courageous and brave, but somewhere along the line one of the boys would have had to break the mold. They can’t all reach that description, but for a long time many of them did. It just doesn’t make sense how so many of them in a row could all go to the same house.

9 The Potter Men Having To Wear Glasses

Throughout the books, many of the Potter men including Harry and his dad are described as having bad eyesight and having to wear glasses. While this isn’t an uncommon trait for most characters, it doesn’t make a whole lot of sense when your characters are wizards who belong to a society that has discovered solutions to the most mundane of problems. If they are able to develop a potion that can heal Harry’s broken arm, then they certainly have something for his eyesight or any other perceived flaw for that matter. So, if he could heal his eyesight, why didn’t he?

The Potter were the original hipsters, they wore glasses before it was cool. 

The reason could be that he just didn’t want to. Since witches and wizards all have the abilities to fix the “flaws” about themselves, such as eyesight, hair, weight, they could make the perfect version of themselves. At least physically. They just might not have wanted to fix these things to keep their individuality. Wizards care about more than just appearances! They very much value their more inner traits and aren’t as focused on the outside. With as much as Harry had going on to worry about, he probably didn’t even stop to think about what he looked like. Another explanation has been given by J.K. Rowling. She said that her choice to give Harry glasses came from her being tired of characters with frames being portrayed as brains. Way to stick up for the little guy J.K.!

8 The Dursleys Extreme Dislike of Harry

The Dursleys

As we discussed earlier, Harry’s aunt and uncle were not his biggest fans. They made him sleep in a cupboard under the stairs as well as constantly berating him. Since Harry was delivered to the Dursleys when he was just an infant, you would think they would treat him more like their own son, yet they almost came to the point of disowning him. It makes no sense that they would give him so much grief when he had done nothing to them previously. One could argue that they’re just cruel like that, but then that wouldn’t explain why they spoiled their son Dudley to the bone. No, their dislike of Harry has to come from deeper roots.

In a post published on Pottermore, J. K. Rowling explains that Aunt Petunia had always been jealous of her sister Lily’s magical abilities when she herself possessed none of them. She was even rejected by Dumbledore when she wrote an admittance letter to Hogwarts. This dislike was driven even further by an unpleasant meeting between James Potter and Uncle Vernon. That resulted in the couple distancing themselves from the Potter family until Harry showed up at their doorstep. This dislike of Aunt Petunia’s more magical side of the family and Uncle Vernon’s disdain for anything out of the ordinary became the basis for why they would treat Harry as badly as they did. While these are their reasons, it still doesn’t seem quite fair to take out what problems you had with someone on their child, but such is the way of fantasy literature.

7 Albus Potter Being Sorted Into Slytherin

Sam Clemmett as Albus Potter and Jamie Parker as Harry Potter in Harry Potter and the Cursed Child

Like discussed earlier, the Potter men are notorious for being sorted into Gryffindor house. It came as a surprise when Harry’s son Albus was sorted into Slytherin in Harry Potter and the Cursed Child. He was finally the black sheep to break the Gryffindor streak, but in a surprising move. Could Harry’s son really possess the qualities of the house that his arch nemesis Voldemort was once placed in?

A member of the Potter family was bound to go into a separate house, but Hufflepuff or Ravenclaw, not Slytherin! Why Albus, why!

While it is never entirely explained in the story, there are a few things that could warrant his sorting into Slytherin house. First of all, Albus has a big legacy to live up to. He is the son of ‘the boy who lived.’ Harry went down in history as one of the most famous and talented wizards of all time and that by default put a lot of pressure on Albus. When he began his first year at Hogwarts, Albus was not very good at magic. This resulted in Albus being tormented and insulted by his friends, many of which were already amused that a Potter was put into Slytherin house. Secondly, on his way to Hogwarts, Albus becomes friends with Scorpius Malfoy, the son of Harry’s bitter rival Draco Malfoy. Scorpius expresses his desire to be sorted into Slytherin just like his father. When the two boys strike up a friendship, Albus’ sorting could very well come from his desire to be in a house with a friend, much like Harry becoming friends with Ron and being sorted into Gryffindor.

6 Albus’ Use Of Time Travel

Time travel in any story is always a confusing concept. Look at any of the multiverse stories from the past forty years of comics and try to say it isn’t confusing. Of course, as with most fantasy epics, especially one about wizards, Harry Potter was bound to dabble in the concept at some point. In Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, they did dabble with time travel. However, unlike most stories, they dabbled responsibly. In the story, Harry travels back in time to save his past self and Sirius Black from Dementors by conjuring a Patronus, a mission which proves successful. Thus, Harry operates in a closed time loop, a loop in which the past is dependent on the future which is dependent on the past. Confusing right? It gets even worse when Dumbledore emphasizes the dangers of your past self seeing you, madness and a disturbed time loop that doesn’t result in the creation of the present you came from.

While time travel is dabbled with in the Harry Potter series, it is a major plot point in The Cursed Child. Time travel is very much warned against in this story and although there are several repercussions from Albus Potter traveling back in time, there is one scene in which it is inconsistent. At the story's climax, Albus and Scorpius travel to the night in which Harry’s parents were taken out and attempt to stop Voldemort’s daughter Delphi from killing Harry. All of this happens with no major consequences to the present, likely due to Harry’s further involvement. But it is very inconsistent with how they were able to mess with a moment so crucial and have everything turn out just fine.

5 Henry Potter’s Lack Of A Spouse

Remus Lupin, Lily Potter, Peter Pettigrew, James Potter and Sirius Black

The Potter family goes back for generations. They are an adventurous lot but did not come to the attention of wizard history until James Potter was born. Until then the family lived a quiet life in the background. Their name came from an occupational surname, ‘Potter’ is common with non-magical folk, known as ‘muggles.’ Throughout their history, the Potter family has been known to marry outside of the wizarding world, which, considering a lot of them come from non-magical families, is not a surprise. This is a very big reason that the family was not included in the ‘Sacred Twenty-Eight’ list of pure-blood families. Another reason was Henry Potter’s outspoken support of the muggle community. He publicly condemned the then Minister of Magic and kept his family name from making the list. Known by his mates as Henry “Harry” Potter, he is Harry’s great grandfather and a key role in the early Potter story.

Henry Potter and Unknown. A love story for the ages. 

However, while much is known about the rest of the family tree, Henry Potter’s spouse is never introduced. In a tree on Pottermore, she is listed as ‘unknown.’ We know that he had a partner because of having a son, but it’s incredibly unlike the Potters to not be upfront about who they are. It could be possible that the two never married and that is why her name is not known to Potter history. This leaves so much that doesn’t make sense about the Potter canon though. How would it affect the bloodline if she was a muggle? Pureblood? Plus, if she had any relatives at all that Harry could stay with, he could have avoided his more unfortunate predicament.

4 Fleamont Potter’s Name

Robbie Jarvis as a young James Potter in the Harry Potter films

Fleamont Potter was the father of James Potter and received his name through a wish by his dying grandmother that her maiden name not die out. Although it was an understandable wish, the young wizard endured a heap of bullying in school due to it and became a fantastic dueler as a result. Fleamont bore the burden well, but it leaves a question as to why the name was even passed down at all. After Fleamont, the name has not been used since and although his grandmother wanted the name to continue for one more generation, couldn’t she have just let it go then and spare her grandchild the future hassle? It didn’t really help much to keep it going for one more generation unless they were going to make it a family tradition. But as all traditions go, it’s going to break at some point. It would have kept Fleamont from the trouble to have dropped the name sooner rather than later.

While the name was a trouble for Fleamont, he proved it to be a small trouble in retrospect, going on to inherit the cloak of invisibility and develop Sleekeazy’s Hair Potion. Upon releasing the potion, he quadrupled the family gold and sold the company at a large profit when he retired. He married Euphemia Potter and they had their son James later in life. The couple lived long enough to see James get married, but did not make it to watch Harry come around and make wizard history.

3 Harry Having A Desk Job Despite Having A Fortune

Like mentioned before, life is hard for Harry Potter. It doesn’t get much easier after he leaves Hogwarts either as he takes up a desk job working for the Ministry of Magic and becoming a father of three. This puts extra strain on Harry, who already has to deal with his son Albus’ problems at Hogwarts. The problem is, Harry is Rich! From the very first book, we see him finding his family vault at Gringotts filled to the brim with seemingly endless amounts of bronze knuts, silver sickles and gold galleons. He inherited this vast fortune from his parents, who in turn received it from their ancestors, with Fleamont increasing the fortune by bounds.

Harry is trying to save up for a good retirement plan, don't judge him. 

So if Harry has a fortune, there’s really no reason for him to work, or to take on a desk job at least. Other members of the family worked to increase the fortune, but all Harry’s job would do is help the family get by. It’s possible that working at the Ministry of Magic is perhaps a job he was offered due to his history, or he could want to work there to try and keep them from being corrupted as they were back when he encountered them. Still, with a fortune that big, he could at least do something more fun like becoming a professor at Hogwarts or something. Think outside the box Harry.

2 Harry’s Parents Age Between The Movie And The Books

Harry’s parents didn’t get to enjoy a long life. When they perished at the hands of Voldemort, they were described in the books as being at the ripe age of twenty-one. This is an element that makes their backstory even more tragic. The couple lost their lives only three years after being married and very shortly after giving birth to their new son Harry. Before even having much time for their story to bloom, it was tragically cut short.

Despite all of this, the films hired a couple who look like they are much more into their thirties and forties to portray the Potter parents. It was a decision that doesn’t make much sense story wise. If they were trying to keep with the mystery behind his parent’s lives, portraying them as a younger couple would have added to the tragedy and weight of their sacrifice. The decision could have been made to differentiate Harry from his parents a little bit more. After all, when he encounters them via the resurrection stone in his last year at Hogwarts, it might have been kind of odd to see his parents look almost as young as him. Having them be so young in the films is also something that could’ve caused a stir back when these films came out. Nevertheless, his parents being portrayed by an older couple just doesn’t hit with the same gravitas as their younger counterparts.

1 Sirius Black Giving Up His Spot As The Potter's Secret Keeper

As we mentioned earlier, a secret keeper is someone who holds the spell caster’s secret and can only give the information voluntarily. It cannot be tortured, forced or taken from the keeper. When Voldemort targeted James and Lily as his next victims, they entrusted Peter Pettigrew with their secret. A move which turned out to be a grave mistake. It was a mistake that wouldn’t have been made if they had gone with their previous choice, Sirius Black. A few volunteered to be a secret keeper for the Potter’s, including Dumbledore himself, but James initially went with Sirius Black because he believed that Black would rather die than betray them. As James was incredibly confident with his choice, there had to be some serious discussion to convince him otherwise.

Trust Pettigrew, he said. Lupin is the real enemy, he said. 

Black believed there to be a spy somewhere along the ranks, with Remus Lupin being his suspicion. He convinced James to switch the keeper to Pettigrew because Voldemort wouldn’t suspect it and doomed the Potters. There was no reason to though. Everyone knew that Black would have more than happily sacrificed himself for his friends. If he died knowing the secret, then it would have just been passed to the Potters. Instead, Black trusted Pettigrew and made a mistake he would regret for the rest of his life.


Did we miss anything about the Potter family that doesn't make sense? Tell us in the comments below!

More in Lists