The magic in Harry Potter isn’t just in the spells and potions, but in the world J.K. Rowling crafted for readers. There’s a special kind of allure in this series that’s been frequently copied, but never equalled, and it’s bolstered by colorful characters, imaginative locales, and a wonderful touch of innocence that seamlessly connects fans young and old – despite how much darker the series ends up becoming. The eight film adaptations are just as beloved as the books these days.
That said, though, despite all the flying colors, there’s no denying the franchise’s various imperfections. Over 10 years and 8 films, there’s really no avoiding a minor misstep every so often. In this case, though, there are some scenes and moments in the Harry Potter adaptations that are simply too jarring for anyone to just turn a blind eye. They stick out like sore thumbs. They put a pause on the magic. One minute, you’re completely immersed in the goings on of these young wizards, and then, without warning, the immersion bows out.
Out of nowhere, even the most devout Potterheads can find a glitch in the magical Matrix, and all the most detailed world-building in existence couldn’t keep these moments from spoiling an otherwise perfect scene.
Keep reading to check out 16 Jarring Scenes That Take You Out Of Harry Potter Movies.
16. The Sorcerer’s CGI
Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone gets massive points for trying. Back when Chris Columbus was in the directing chair, kid-friendly elements were the central focus. The first two movies were safer, lighter, and deeply interested in establishing tone. As far as movies based on eleven-year-old wizards and witches go, this was fine. That said, the first film definitely wore its freshman status on its sleeve, especially when it came to special effects.
To be fair, the budget on The Sorcerer’s Stone was $110 million less than The Deathly Hallows and computer-generated effects weren’t quite as impressive in 2001 as they were in 2011, but still… to say that some of the CGI in this movie is beyond cringeworthy is putting it lightly. The troll fight and flying key scenes are especially guilty of this, looking more along the lines of a cheap video game cut scene than something from one Hollywood’s most successful franchises.
15. Harry Potter and the Casual Twilight Reference
Near the end The Deathly Hallows: Part 2, the trio visits Luna Lovegood’s home so that they can speak with her father. They have questions pertaining to clues left to them from the late Albus Dumbledore, and they believe that he might be a key player in offering answers. Luckily, he doesn’t disappoint, and the characters finally discover the true meaning behind the titular Deathly Hallows. Unfortunately, they also casually wink to another popular YA series in the process.
When Hermione is reading The Tale of the Three Brothers, Ron interrupts her, claiming that some of the wording is off. He explains that when his mother used to read him the story, she would substitute the word “twilight” with “midnight,” but after receiving a dirty look, he says, “Twilight is fine. Better actually.”
14. Cedric Telling Harry to Take a Bath
Speaking of Twilight, once you watch Robert Pattinson star in Stephenie Meyer’s vampire series, it’s near-impossible to imagine Cedric Diggory as anyone other than Edward Cullen. So, any time Pattinson shows up on screen in Goblet of Fire, consider it a jarring, scene-disrupting moment by default.
That said, the real issue here is the scene between Cedric and Harry when Cedric gives his Triwizard Tournament competitor some advice, suggesting that he go take a bath in the prefect’s bathroom. Even with context (the only way Harry can unlock the tournament’s latest clue is to open a golden egg underwater), Cedric advising Harry to “mull things over in the hot water” could be creepy or cute, depending on how you look at it, but perspectives aside, it’s still awkward enough to take anyone out of the moment.
13. Hogwarts’ Non-Magical Makeover
When Alfonso Cuaron replaced Chris Columbus as director for The Prisoner of Azkaban, he made some not-so-subtle changes to the material. Granted, he had no choice but to replace Richard Harris with another actor, seeing as Harris had passed away before shooting, but when it came to the actual blueprints for Hogwarts, he took full artistic liberties and transfigured nearly every square inch.
In the first two movies, the grounds of Hogwarts are fully established with a very specific identity. In PoA, it all goes out the window, and it’s incredibly hard to miss. It doesn’t matter how many times you hold a Harry Potter marathon, going from part 2 to 3 is the furthest thing from a smooth sailing
12. Harry and Cho’s Kiss
Harry Potter is no Don Juan, and by extension, neither is Daniel Radcliffe. Try though he might, Radcliffe never really landed the romance in Harry Potter. He definitely perfected his ability to be awkward in Goblet of Fire (and maybe that’s where his character ought to have remained), but once Order of the Phoenix rolled around, things got more serious.
Harry finally lands his first kiss, only the scene honestly shouldn’t exist in the first place. Not only does it serve very little purpose to the plot (he suspects that Cho willingly sold out Dumbledore’s Army, but nobody in the audience really cares anyway), but it’s painful to witness.
After Harry drops some lame pseudo-endearing line about Nargles, the two share an emotionless kiss (moments after Cho is grieving about her dead boyfriend, Cedric, mind you). If they’d cut this scene out of the movie, no one would ever bat an eye.
11. The Knight Bus
The Knight Bus scene from Prisoner of Azkaban is nothing more than a bit of light-hearted, expositional fun. We learn about Sirius Black, we meet a future Death Eater, and we learn all about the Wizarding World’s very convenient late-night taxi service.
It also earns a rank as one of the more tonally-awkward scenes in Harry Potter history. It’s a kind of a slapstick-heavy chase sequence peppered with the severed head of a shrunken Jamaican man, as well as some questionable automotive magic. The tone shifts and racial caricature are incredibly out of touch with the rest of Prisoner of Azkaban.
By the time the bus starts zipping through London at unnaturally fast speeds, humor and chaos are elevated to abnormal limits, making it difficult for any Potterhead to not feel (at least temporarily) removed from what is usually a familiar overall atmosphere.
10. Harry’s Last Line in The Order of the Phoenix
It’s not easy to defend a movie that serves up an unhealthy supply of cheese, which is exactly why Order of the Phoenix finds itself in the doghouse. While the tone of the movie is meant to be especially dark (blame it on Voldemort, but also blame it on puberty), newcomer director David Yates made the mistake of ending things on a painfully uninspired moment of pure, uncut twee.
Instead of allowing the events of the end of the movie speak for themselves, Harry forces out the most awkward, shoehorned closing lines that has ever graced a movie in the Harry Potter franchise. He says, “I’ve been thinking about something Dumbledore said to me. That even though we got a fight ahead of us, we’ve got one thing that Voldemort doesn’t have. Something worth fighting for.”
9. “There’s No Hogwarts Without You, Hagrid.”
Not to be outdone by one of its successors, The Chamber of Secrets is another entry in the Potter series that has no shame in upping the corniness to DEFCON 3. At the end of the movie, after Harry and Co. have defeated a Horcrux, a basilisk, and their Defense Against the Dark Arts teacher, Professor Gilderoy Lockhart, students celebrate the end of the year in the Great Hall. In that moment, Hagrid returns to Hogwarts from Azkaban, where he had been wrongfully imprisoned. Harry is happy, naturally, and hugs his half-giant friend, but—for some reason—the rest of the student body is just as elated, erupting in applause after Harry says to him, “There’s no Hogwarts without you, Hagrid.” It’s near-impossible resisting the urge to look away.
8. “He Was Their Friend!”
While it’s not entirely fair to hold a child actor’s inexperience against them, one still can’t help but be distracted by mediocre acting— which is exactly what happens in Prisoner of Azkaban. After Harry discovers that Sirius Black used to be close friends with his parents, he slices into his emotions like warm butter.
Given the circumstances, his reaction is completely understandable. However, the way in which he delivers said reaction may well distract you from what he’s actually upset about in the first place; specifically, the way he yells, “He was their friend!”
Daniel Radcliffe has proven to be a gifted actor in movies like Horns and Jungle, but his angst-ridden performance here might not be some of his best work, no matter how hard he tried (and, boy, did he try).
7. Prolonged Dressing Scene
You can debate all you want about whether or not The Deathly Hallows needed to be split up into two movies, but when you consider all of the unnecessary scenes that made the cut in both parts, you might begin to question the point of this decision (aside from the money, naturally). However, the biggest waste of a scene took place in the first half of Deathly Hallows: Part 2.
After jumping off the pale dragon, the trio lands into a lake, exit said lake, and then quickly begin to take off their clothes. Obviously, they’re doing it to get out of their wet clothes, but why? Why does the camera spin around these teenagers undressing and dressing in a scene that serves absolutely no point to the story whatsoever?
6. The Weird Sisters
“You know what this franchise needs?” one Harry Potter producer probably said to another producer. “Wizard rock.”
While The Weird Sisters are mentioned in the original source material, their depiction in Goblet of Fire is one of the stranger moments in the entire series. This glam-rock band performs at the Yule Ball singing songs like “Do the Hippogriff” and “Magic Works,” and while it’s not as though the scene is a disaster by any means, it stops the entire movie in its tracks. Thankfully, the other characters don’t break out into song, but this mid-movie music number has the power to take any member of its audience completely out of the moment.
The character Grawp in Order of the Phoenix looks like an unfinished piece of CGI work. Despite the massive achievements in visual effects in the Harry Potter series, something went wrong with the fifth film. The rest of the movie does a well enough job making digital creations look lifelike, but Hagrid’s half-brother Grawp is not one of them.
You can try your hardest to stay immersed in the movie anytime this creature is on screen, but good luck. You’ll most likely spend the time wondering how anyone in their right mind could have approved this as a finished project. The animators on these movies are no doubt talented individuals, but it’s safe to say that Grawp was a complete and utter oversight.
4. Ginny and Harry’s “romantic” scenes
In Half-Blood Prince, the romantic tension between Harry and Ginny is laid on thick. Unfortunately, despite the fact that it’s romantic tension between two teenagers, the movie slips in an incredibly discomforting sexual innuendo between the two of them. Now, mind you, we’re not talking anything hardcore—just an unsubtle nod to a certain sexual favor—but it still couldn’t be more blatant if it tried.
While visiting the Weasleys, Harry and Ginny cross paths on the staircase. In what is probably meant to be a cute almost-kiss moment, Ginny notices that Harry’s shoe is untied, so she bends down and ties it for him. They share a look as she does so, and everything from the innuendo to the stale acting and lack of chemistry just hits the point home even further – the Ginny and Harry romance doesn’t work in the movies the way it did in the books.
3. “I Love Magic!”
To truly keep an audience captivated, your best bet is to follow this simple rule: “Show, don’t tell.” Allow the audience to get lost in the story; that way, when the story calls for them to react, they’ll do so on their own. Sadly, in Goblet of Fire, this advice wasn’t always heeded.
Despite the fact that Harry has been a practicing wizard for up to four years now, his reaction to a tent that’s bigger on the inside is of pure, childlike adoration. He’s mesmerized. But the fact that he has to vocalize his mesmerization, literally saying the words, “I love magic,” unnecessarily communicates what his expression was already saying.
The audience is already aboard the “loving magic” train, so having the main character say so just makes us roll our eyes and remember that the magic we see on screen is nothing more than special effects. In other words, it kills the magic.
2. The Epilogue
There’s nothing subtle about the epilogue in Deathly Hallows: Part 2. After being fast-forwarded 19 years into the future, the perfect note on which this movie could have ended with the trio standing side-by-side after the Battle of Hogwarts is ruined. Now, for no other reason than to let audiences know their beloved heroes get to live happily ever, the actors undergo questionable transformations via movie makeup magic and, suffice it to say, the final product isn’t pretty.
Before you can even immerse yourself back into the story, the epilogue will have ended, leaving you with the lingering question as to why nobody bothered to perfect the makeup before calling “Action.” The Weasley siblings, especially, appear to have aged twice the normal rate than their respective spouses, and it’s as depressing as it is distracting.
1. Angry Dumbledore
If you read the books before seeing the movies, then chances are you weren’t entirely thrilled with Albus Dumbledore’s depiction. While Richard Harris played the character as closely to the books as possible, Michael Gambon brought a significantly different layer to the character that fans not only didn’t expect, but didn’t particularly like.
In the Goblet of Fire book, Dumbledore deals with Harry as he always does: calmly. In the movie, however, Gambon explodes. He literally chases Harry down, corners him, grabs him, and screams at him. While potentially effective to the casual viewer, there is no way book readers can possibly get through this scene without cringing (and frowning, because they miss Harris). It’s an artistic decision that just doesn’t ultimately pay off in the end.
What moment in a Harry Potter movie takes you out of the scene completely? Let us know in the comments!
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