One of the most successful movie franchises in cinema history, the Harry Potter movies will likely be required viewing for fantasy film fans for the foreseeable future. In fact, it isn’t an overstatement to say that millions of people spent ten years of their lives looking forward to the release of the next movie in this popular series.
Able to build up an incredibly loyal fan base for a number of reasons, the Potter movies featured many highlights including gorgeous visuals, great performances, and fantastic individual moments. On top of all that, the series was chock-full of storylines that fans grew to love. Of course, any attempt to pretend like this film franchise did not include a number of storylines that could charitably be described as missteps would be inaccurate. With that in mind, it is time to look at this list of the best and worst Harry Potter storylines.
In order for one of the Harry Potter film’s storylines to be considered for possible inclusion on this list, it first and foremost needs to stand out from many of the movie’s less important developments. From there, it either needs to have made the Potter films significantly better or taken away from what viewers loved so much about the series. Finally, it should be noted that even short-term storylines were in the running, as long as they were memorable enough to have made a large impact on the movie’s legacy.
Here are 10 Storylines That Hurt The Harry Potter Movies (And 10 That Saved Them).
20 Hurt: Ginny and Harry’s Poorly Developed Relationship
When Ginny first developed a crush on Harry, it resulted in several amusing and awkward scenes since he didn’t know how to handle it. On top of that, when these two first became a couple, it was pretty great to see both of them find some happiness. Unfortunately, a bad ending can completely ruin a storyline with real potential and that is what happened here.
Their growing bond was all but ignored during the final film of this series. A lot had to happen in The Deathly Hallows - Part 2 but the movie also needed to do Harry and Ginny’s relationship justice. Due to how poorly that film handled this couple, seeing them together as adults in a flash forward was downright cringe-inducing.
19 Saved: Neville becomes a hero
When Neville Longbottom first appeared in the Harry Potter films, he seemed afraid of just about everything. He was eventually revealed to be the son of parents who lost their minds due to being tormented by Bellatrix Lestrange. Prior to that Neville’s folks had fought in the first wizarding war.
While it seemed like Neville was too weak to follow in his parents’ footsteps, especially after falling prey to Hermione’s full body-bind curse, he surprised anyone that underestimated him. In fact, not only did he take part in the second wizarding war but he even played an integral part in Voldemort’s defeat, since he saved many wounded warriors and destroyed Voldemort’s final Horcrux.
18 Hurt: the mystery of Credence's Identity
The most common complaint that viewers had after seeing Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald was that the film was too focused on setting up later films in this series. For instance, much of the movie centered on the true identity of Credence Barebone. He was seemingly revealed to have been named Aurelius Dumbledore at birth, if Gellert Grindelwald was being honest. However, this doesn't make much sense given Dumbledore's parents' ages and his father being imprisoned for years.
This also sets Credence up to battle his "brother" Albus in the future. Having another Dumbledore in these films may seem exciting at first but a battle between the brothers is likely to disappoint. After all, their fight would be very anticlimactic since Albus clearly goes on to become Hogwarts’ beloved headmaster in the future.
17 Saved: Voldemort gets his body back
One of the greatest strengths of this film series is its Rogues' gallery made up of Bellatrix Lestrange, Wormtail, and Gellert Grindelwald, among others. Of course, He Who Shall Not Be Named is the best of them all and seeing him scratch and crawl back into existence over several films was very entertaining.
He was first seen as a face on the back of Professor Quirrell’s head in The Sorcerer's Stone. Later, seeing a baby-sized version of Voldemort was creepy enough, but when he gained an adult body after the tear-jerking demise of Cedric Diggory, it took the Potter films up a notch.
16 Hurt: Snape’s Obsession with Lily
It took quite a while to figure out if Severus Snape wanted to protect, torment, or permanently take out Harry Potter. Eventually revealed to have been in love with Harry’s mother Lily for years, Snape played an important role in the ultimate defeat of Voldemort and kept Harry safe. That said, it was hard to root for Snape at times since he was a total creep to Lily.
For instance, Snape seemed to think Lily should follow his commands, he once called her a "mudblood," and he hung out with pure-bloods who wanted her kind eliminated. Worse yet, Dumbledore had to convince Snape that protecting Lily’s husband and child was a good thing and he even ripped a photo of Lily’s family in half so he could keep an image of her alone.
15 Saved: Dumbledore's Army
Harry, Hermione, and Ron always found themselves at the center of the action. Time and time again they survived and protected their peers. However, as they progressed into young adulthood it became clear that they were going to need many allies to take on Voldemort and his many dangerous followers. That is why it was so great to see the three of them take charge as leaders and create a space where they could train their fellow Hogwarts students in the art of defensive spells.
Their establishment of Dumbledore's army was an indication of their resourcefulness and ability to convince their peers to put themselves at risk for the right reasons. It was also a great set up for the final outing in the series.
14 Hurt: Newt's creature hunt
Prior to Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them’s 2016 release millions of fans couldn’t wait to see more of the wizarding world. On the positive side of things, that movie feels magical at times and its main character Newt Scamander came off as a kind and lovable guy. However, far too much screen time was focused on Newt’s efforts to track down and capture a slew of magical creatures which got old really fast.
The first time he captured one of the fantastic beasts it was exciting, but when it happened over and over again, it quickly began to feel tedious.
13 Saved: The Dementors
As fearsome as the various Harry Potter film villains we’ve already touched on during this list are, no beings introduced in this series can compete with the Dementors in terms of pure scariness. These supernatural creatures that live to suck the happiness out of people were eventually stationed at Hogwarts, even though they come from Azkaban.
Arguably the single scariest Potter storyline, having the Dementors stationed at Hogwarts also resulted in a magical moment that proved why Harry was so special. Able to fend off the attack of a Dementor after he summoned his Patronus, Harry thwarted a being from a species that many powerful wizards had fallen prey to in the past.
12 Hurt: Dolores Umbridge’s Rise to Power
Creating frightening villains who are also enjoyable to watch is a real challenge for filmmakers. In an example of what happens when this delicate balance goes awry, viewers wanted Dolores Umbridge to be defeated but more than anything else they wanted her to go away.
An awful woman that hid how wicked she was under the guise of caring about bureaucracy above all else, Umbridge could have been a good villain, but when she took over Hogwarts it was too much. Even though some good came of her control over Hogwarts, like the formation of Dumbledore’s army, Umbridge’s reign of terror wasn’t entertaining in the least.
11 Saved: Ron and Hermione’s Romance
In a lot of ways, these two characters couldn’t be more different. Ron oftentimes failed to take things seriously while Hermione spent half of her life studying the world around her. For that reason, when the first Potter film was released, many viewers who hadn't read the books likely would have been surprised to learn Ron and Hermione would become a couple at all, let alone a great one.
Able to bring out the best and worst in one another, this pairing made up for one another’s weaknesses and they always were completely loyal. On top of that, their various arguments and fights made their courtship a realistic representation of many real-life teenaged couples, especially when it came to the drama around a school dance.
10 Hurt: The Werewolf Mystery
The word "Lupine" means "relating to characteristics of wolves" and Remus is a wolf from Greek mythology. With this knowledge, it is simply baffling that J.K. Rowling gave one of Harry’s top allies the name "Remus Lupin."
One of Prisoner of Azkaban's storylines focused on a werewolf that was stalking Hogwarts and the audience was meant to wonder who was at fault. In one of the least surprising twists of all time, it turned out to be Professor Wolf Wolf himself who was the werewolf. If his last name wasn’t enough to make the answer to this mystery obvious, Remus Lupin started teaching at Hogwarts the same year the werewolf began appearing.
9 Saved: The Ministry’s Inability to Accept Voldemort’s Return
Voldemort’s battle to regain his position at the forefront of a dastardly army resulted in many entertaining sequences. It was really interesting to see how the bureaucrats at the Ministry of Magic refused to believe that Voldemort was a danger to the wizarding world again.
This aspect of the Potter story also added a great deal to the series, including giving its heroes a group of close-minded fools to fight against. On top of that, it was fantastic to see the ministry and everyone who’d ridiculed Harry for his claims about the dark lord’s return eat crow after Voldemort was seen by many during a very public battle.
8 Hurt: Time Travel
Watching what Hermione could do with the time turner at the end of Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban was admittedly really cool. Seeing her slug Draco Malfoy has to be a series highlight for fans of the Potter movies. On top of that, realizing that a time-traveling Harry had saved himself from a Dementor was one of the series’ best twists.
However, these positives of the time turner’s existence were short-lived and if you really think about it, the series was worse off from the moment this item was revealed going forward. After all, every time the franchise’s heroes were in peril after that, it made no sense that they did not try to use time travel to save themselves.
7 Saved: Harry's Bond with Dobby
Arguably the single most adorable and lovable character in the entirety of the Harry Potter film franchise, Dobby was a pure-hearted being who only wanted freedom and to do good in the world. For that reason, learning that the sweet little house-elf had been treated cruelly by the Malfoy family for years on end was pretty heart-wrenching. On the other end of the spectrum, when Harry tricked Lucius Malfoy into releasing Dobby from his bonds of servitude, it was one of the most joyous moments seen in any Potter film.
If that weren’t enough of a reason to love this storyline, it also resulted in Dobby sacrificing his life to save Harry and his friends, which was a heartbreaking but powerful moment.
6 Hurt: Nagini's backstory
The lowest-rated wizarding world film on Rotten Tomatoes by a considerable margin, Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald was received relatively poorly for a number of reasons. Only one example of the film’s problems, for some reason it introduced a backstory for Voldemort’s loyal pet, his massive snake Nagini.
As she was perceived as a vicious and dangerous creature in the Harry Potter films, when Nagini met her demise viewers were overjoyed. Now that moment is ruined to a certain degree, since viewers know that Nagini once had a human form but was cursed to permanently become a snake. This is especially sad since The Crimes of Grindelwald also revealed that Nagini wanted to avoid that fate and was not evil to begin with.
5 Saved: Hagrid Falls for Olympe Maxime
The very definition of a gentle giant, Rubeus Hagrid was a mainstay of the Harry Potter film series. Despite that, by the time the Deathly Hallows - Part 2 was released very little was known about the character other than how deeply he cared for the Hogwarts students and animals of all sorts. One thing that was abundantly clear, however, is that fans wanted to see Hagrid get his own version of a happy ending. Thankfully, happiness arrived for him in the form of his romance with Olympe Maxime, at least briefly.
Smitten with Maxime almost from the first moment he saw her, Hagrid adorably tried to impress Maxime by taming his hair and getting dressed up. On top of that, it was very touching when these two comforted one another at Dumbledore’s funeral.
4 Hurt: The Tom Riddle mystery
Much of Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets’ plot focused on an enchanted diary that seemed to blame Hagrid for a serious misdeed in his youth. The property of a former Hogwarts student named Tom Riddle, these writings the fan-favorite Hagrid in a negative light and the gentle half-giant was even imprisoned for a while.
Eventually revealed to have been totally innocent of the crimes suspected of him, Hagrid’s heroic nature is made totally clear when Tom Riddle is discovered to have been the childhood name of Voldemort. Unfortunately, this storyline comes to an end due to an eye-roll inducing scene in which the writer’s full name, Tom Marvolo Riddle, has its letters rearranged to read "I am Lord Voldemort."
3 Saved: Jacob and Queenie’s Romance
A trio of beloved characters, Ron, Harry, and Hermoine were only three of the many people from the original Potter series of films that viewers loved. As a result, it seemed unlikely that Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them could include new characters that fans cared for even half as much. Fortunately, that movie introduced the world to the beautiful love shared by the free-spirited and kind Queenie Goldstein and a muggle who stumbled into the wizarding world named Jacob Kowalski.
These star-crossed lovers who unfortunately were torn apart in The Crimes of Grindelwald. Since Queenie can read minds, her joining Grindelwald’s ranks just seems wrong. Still, we have high hopes for Queenie and Jacob’s future and their romance is still very charming.
2 Hurt: The Camping in Deathly Hallows
One of the worst film trends of the last several years, stretching limited source material into too many films can ruin a series. Harry Potter is yet another franchise that fell victim to this concept. Splitting The Deathly Hallows resulted in Part 1 spending far too long focused on Ron Hermione, and Harry camping out.
It was interesting to see Ron’s paranoia rule over his emotions due to the Horcrux at first, but once he left his friends this sequence really went downhill. Devolving into far too many scenes set inside a tent and a dance sequence that seems to serve no real purpose, this sequence of events distracts from the buildup to this series’ final battle.
1 Saved: Sirius Black's escape and innocence
First seen screaming at the world from the confines of a wanted poster, Sirius Black was an escaped prisoner of Azkaban whom Hogwarts students presumed to be a violent criminal. Seemingly insane when he was first seen in person, when Sirius came into contact with Harry and his friends, he appeared to be every bit as dangerous as someone like Bellatrix Lestrange. However, it didn’t take too long for it to come out that Sirius was innocent of the crimes that landed him in prison.
More than that, he had been a loyal and close friend of Harry’s parents. Even revealed to be Harry’s godfather, Sirius all too briefly gave the boy a sense of family he had never enjoyed before. It taught viewers a valuable lesson and warmed the heart.
What's your favorite storyline from the Harry Potter movies? Let us know in the comments!