JK Rowling introduced the world to her boy wizard in 1997 with Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone. Little did she know that this modest start would kick off a multi-billion dollar franchise, spanning seven best-selling books, leading to eight blockbuster films and now a stage play.
Rowling recently celebrated the 20th anniversary of her first book and is not only the world’s highest earning author but one of the most beloved.
Undisputed Queen of Twitter and all-around inspirational person, Rowling made everyone’s lives a little bit more magical when she introduced them to her Wizarding World. She is responsible for a generation of children (some now adults) still patiently waiting for their letter to Hogwarts.
Yet, even JK Rowling makes mistakes. JKR herself has admitted online to a few storylines that she regrets writing. Even the most hardened of Potterheads will admit that across seven books, some of the storylines are slightly less memorable than others. Some of them are, compared to the rest of the plot, a little silly. Others have more holes in them than a Weasley’s jumper.
Overall, JK Rowling’s Harry Potter features some of the most impactful coming-of-age stories of this generation. Bear this in mind as we explore 15 Harry Potter Storylines JK Rowling Wants You To Forget.
15 Slug Parties
The Boy Who Lived provides the reader with a hero they can believe in. The supporting cast are also strong, quirky, and complex characters, who provide points of view that are varied and impactful.
Horace Slughorn is not one of those characters.
Across his two tenures as Potions Master at Hogwarts, Professor Slughorn has a penchant for befriending students he believes to be famous or suspects will one day become influential in some way. These special students are invited to "Slug Parties." He hosts get-togethers during term, including dinner parties with fine food, and invites students he considers worthy. He encourages them to network and hopes one day they will return the favor and benefit him in some way.
Slughorn himself turns out to be an important character due to possessing information pertinent to the plot. Unfortunately, his Slug Parties are about as exciting as they sound and the plot could have gotten by without them.
14 Extended Camping Scenes
Harry Potter’s story is, at heart, a coming-of-age tale. Throughout the magical series, there are plotlines that reveal a little of the stress and confusion involved in growing up. Harry and Ron taking the Patil twins to the Yule Ball and then forgetting about them, Harry’s failed relationship with Cho Chang, Ron and Hermione’s will-they-won’t-they relationship, all show relatable mistakes made during puberty.
By the time we reach The Deathly Hallows, the stakes have risen. The death toll has mounted and the plot is hurtling to the finale of seven novel’s worth of story. When we divert to the forest camping scenes all this momentum grinds to a halt. It is a little late for our heroes to be behaving like angsty teenagers and the whole thing feels interminably drawn out. It is tempting to skip a few chapters and get to the good bit.
When you stop and think about it, Wormtail’s plot is perhaps the most bizarre.
Peter Pettigrew (Wormtail) was one quarter of the Marauders, along with Remus Lupin (Moony), Sirius Black (Padfoot), and James Potter (Prongs). He is made Secret-Keeper for the Potters when they go into hiding but unfortunately has been turned by Lord Voldemort and betrays the young family. Pettigrew fakes his own death and frames Sirius for the murders, living for twelve years in Animagus form as the Weasley family’s pet.
Somehow Scabbers comes into the possession of Percy Weasley and is then passed on to his younger brother Ron. It is something of a coincidence that he becomes pet to the future best friend of his worst enemy. Of course, there is no way Wormtail could have predicted their future relationship, so he simply bides his time until he is revealed by Lupin and Sirius in The Prisoner of Azkaban.
It is best not to think too deeply about why Wormtail spent twelve years sleeping in the same bed as an adolescent wizard.
12 The Hogwarts Ghosts
Nearly Headless Nick, The Bloody Baron, The Fat Friar, The Grey Lady, Peeves, Moaning Myrtle; Hogwarts is full of ghosts. Each house has a ghost attached to it and they have multifaceted backstories and aims of their own. Myrtle may be most known for flooding the first-floor bathroom with her tantrums but she is also crucial to saving the day in The Chamber of Secrets. She pops back up in The Goblet of Fire to help Harry with the Golden Egg clue and cringingly shares his bath.
This is the problem with the ghosts; they only turn up when they have something to provide to the plot.
Perhaps one of the most entertaining is Peeves, the poltergeist who haunts Hogwarts. He is introduced for a few gags, waging permanent war against Filch, the Caretaker. Then he largely disappears, returning when there is someone who needs pranking. Finally, during the Battle of Hogwarts, he once again turns up when he is needed for the plot and protects the school. Then again, the idea of the poltergeist pranking the Death Eaters is such fun that it is impossible to be mad.
11 Lupin’s Death
Remus Lupin is a firm fan favorite. A father-figure for the orphaned Harry, Lupin is a kind and intelligent tutor, as well as a brave wizard. One of the few tutors to make Defence Against the Dark Arts both useful and enjoyable, he is remembered for introducing the students to a boggart (and giving us the chance to imagine Snape in a dress). His lycanthropic tendencies only make his character more endearing as his story is touched with tragedy.
When he falls in love with spunky auror Nymphadora Tonks, his happiness is only eclipsed by the fans' happiness. So, of course, when both Remus and Tonks perish in the battle of Hogwarts, there is not a dry eye to be found.
With the deaths of newly-wedded Tonks and Lupin, their infant son Teddy is orphaned, mirroring Harry's tragic past. Yet Rowling has since apologized for Lupin's death. His death certainly had the intended impact but reflecting the tragic orphaning of the main character is perhaps not the most hopeful of endings to the fantasy series.
10 Whomping Willow
When Harry and Ron are stranded on the wrong side of Platform 9 ¾, it seems only logical to the boys to borrow his parent’s modified car and travel to Hogwarts in the flying Ford Anglia.
Soaring over the clouds, the battered car makes the trip majestically but unfortunately loses power in the Hogwart’s grounds and crashes into a tree. The huge tree comes alive, revealing itself as the Whomping Willow, and smashes the car to pieces. Harry and Ron are hurled out onto the ground, luckily suffering only a broken wand.
Young audiences are delighted by the unique, violent, timber antagonist but few take the time to sit back and ask why the school would keep such a terror in its grounds? Sure, it is plot relevant as later books reveal that it hides a secret passage to Hogsmeade. Sure, it is valuable and unique. Yet the tree is a huge danger to anyone who comes into contact with it. Wizarding parents should think twice about allowing their children to go to a school as dangerous as Hogwarts.
9 Portkeys and the Triwizard Cup
Portkeys are nifty objects that are enchanted to transport wizards who touch them to a specific location.
Usually disguised as a mundane object, such as an old boot, they are surprisingly easy for Muggles to mistakenly stumble upon. More seasoned witches and wizards would apparate rather than use such a risky form of transport. Their actual function is a little muddled.
First introduced in the Goblet of Fire, the item is used to transport Harry to the World Quidditch Match. The portkey needs to be caught at an exact time in order to work. Similarly, when Dumbledore uses one in the Order of the Phoenix it has a countdown to the moment of transport.
The portkey in the Goblet of Fire behaves slightly differently. Used to trap Harry (and Cedric), the Triwizard Cup is turned into a portkey by the bad guys. Oddly, it responds to the touch rather than a countdown. Even more unusually, Harry then reuses it to return to Hogwarts. It is possible to imagine a portkey could be set up to respond to the touch rather than a countdown, especially one created by Voldemort, but why would he make it so Harry could use it to escape?
8 Florean Fortescue's Death
Florean Fortescue is a name that less die-hard Potter fans might not even recognize. Fortescue is a minor character who owned an ice-cream shop in Diagon Alley. He gives Harry free ice cream while he is staying at the Leaky Cauldon and then one day is dragged off by Death Eaters and murdered.
On Pottermore, Rowling admitted that he is “kidnapped and killed for no good reason.”
She explained that, originally, she intended to have an important subplot involving Fortescue, establishing him as an expert on ancient magic. Voldemort was then to kidnap him while seeking information on the Elder Wand. Unfortunately, the plot was cut later on and so the poor ice cream seller ended up being tortured and killed, seemingly for no good reason.
7 Blowing up Aunt Marge
Aunt Marge's full name is Marjorie Eileen Dursley. A dog-breeder by trade, she is Vernon's elder sister and aunt to Dudley Dursley.
When visiting the Dursleys at their home in Privet Drive, she dotes on her nephew Dudley and makes Harry feel unwelcome and undervalued. She makes a series of rude remarks about Harry's deceased parents. The Dursleys, afraid of her finding out the truth, have fostered the impression that Harry's parents were layabouts who had inadvertently dumped their equally useless son on her hardworking relatives.
In anger at Marge's prejudice, Harry loses control of his magic and Aunt Marge begins to unstoppably inflate like a balloon. Though undoubtedly an amusing scene, it is still considered one of the hero's worst moments.
It is technically an illegal underage use of magic and it means an Accidental Magic Reversal Squad has to be dispatched from the Ministry of Magic to capture Marge and modify her memory.
Of course, no one is saying the objectionable women did not deserve it.
Grawp is the giant half-brother of Rubeus Hagrid. Standing at around sixteen feet high, he is apparently bullied for his small stature and abandoned by his mother, the giantess Fridwulfa, who also deserted her first son, Rubeus, the half-giant.
In Order of the Phoenix, Harry and his friends are shocked to discover that Hagrid is keeping Grawp in the Forbidden Forest, trying to teach the giant to speak English. During this time, Hagrid has been put on probation by Dolores Umbridge and the trio are terrified Hagrid will lose his job.
Despite his comic leanings, Grawp is sadly a largely irrelevant subplot. The audience already hate Umbridge and are afraid Hagrid will be fired, even without his giant half-brother lurching into the scene. Grawp unfortunately only really serves to pad the length of Order of the Phoenix, which is already the book most criticized for upping the word count unnecessarily.
With their skeletal bodies and leathery batwings, Thestrals are magical creatures who are invisible to those who have not seen death.
Due to their ghastly appearance and association with death, Thestrals are considered unlucky in the wizarding world. However, Hogwarts being the school that it is, these winged horses are used to pull the Hogwarts’ carriages. They can be domesticated and are capable of fast, long-distance travel. At one point, they transport Harry, Ron, Hermione, Luna, Neville and Ginny from Hogwarts to the Ministry of Magic.
Harry first sees the creatures after he witnesses Cedric Diggory’s death during the Triwizard Tournament. However, The Boy Who Lived has also witnessed the deaths of his parents as a child. It turns out that the Thestrals are not simply visible to those who have seen death. Instead, they are only revealed to those who have understood and dealt with the deaths they have seen.
This seems rather specific. The Thestrals become a little like the Eagles in the Lord of the Rings; awfully convenient.
4 S.P.E.W and Winky's Alcoholism
Winky is a House Elf dedicated to the Crouch family. When she inadvertently found herself a free elf after being fired by her master, she is devastated and takes to drinking heavily.
It was on meeting poor Winky that Hermione Granger was inspired to create S.P.E.W (the Society for the Promotion of Elfish Welfare). Although the House Elves were largely happy where they are, Hermione strove to gain House Elves wages, sick leave, and pensions as if they were conventional employees. This segue from the main plot in The Goblet of Fire further established Hermione’s well-meaning but flawed outlook on life but it doesn’t really show the audience anything they didn’t already know about Hermione.
At best the S.P.E.W storyline is amusing but dilutes the main story without giving us any substantial character development. Alcoholism is a serious and valid issue to broach but the approach to the subject via House Elf is odd, to say the least.
3 The Knight Bus and Stan Shunpike
The Knight Bus is a purple, triple-decker bus which could assist stranded wizards in need of public transport. Bedecked in candles, beds, and curtains, it is a fun example of Rowling’s little touches that bring her magical London to life. A less-than-complex play on the existence of mundane "night buses" and the fact it rescued wizards in need like a "knight", it also unfortunately never appears again after Harry uses it in Prisoner of Azkaban.
Stan Shunpike is the conductor of the Knight Bus. A talkative wizard but not the brightest wand in the bunch, he fails to recognize Harry when he travels with him.
The unfortunate conductor is later accused of being a Death Eater after boasting about having insider information on the villains (almost certainly a lie meant to impress) and sent to Azkaban. Later, he really does serve Voldemort under the Imperius Curse. The poor man’s ultimate fate is not explained in the books. Most likely he got better and returned to his job, but it would have been nice to give the conductor closure.
2 The Marauder's Map
The Marauder's Map is a magical document which charts the entirety of Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry.
It was created by Moody, Wormtail, Padfoot, and Prongs while the boys were at Hogwarts. The 'Marauders' used this magical item to navigate the castle and grounds to cause mischief. When they left the school, Filch managed to get hold of the map and keeps it until George and Fred Weasley stole it some years later.
It eventually falls into Harry's hands and he continues to use it during his adventures. All in all, the map is invaluable to the boy wizard.
It is also the magical item which has caused theorists the most consternation. The most popular complaint is that Ron's rat Scabbers, aka the evil wizard Peter Pettigrew, should have shown up unusually close to Ron. Surely Fred and George would have noticed? Even if the theory that the map would have called him Wormtail when in his Animagus form is correct, surely the twins would have questioned who was so close to their brother that they shared a bed so frequently?
1 The Time Turner
The Time Turner is a timepiece used for time travel. It resembles an hourglass on a necklace and the number of times it is turned equals the number of hours traveled back in time. As well as being infinitely merchandisable, these nifty items could cause serious harm to travelers who stay for more than five hours in the past at a time.
Hermione was given one in her third year by Professor McGonagall to allow her to attend more classes than fitted into her timetable. Even in a school which plays fast and loose with health and safety as much as Hogwarts, this seems a little ridiculous. It is easy to imagine what an off-the-wall villain like Bellatrix Lestrange or a calculating man like Lucius Malfoy would be able to do with such a time travel piece.
The Time Turner was so powerful that JK Rowling wrote them out in subsequent books. During the Battle of the Department of Mysteries, the entire stock of Time Turners were broken. Although not destroyed, they became trapped in a loop, eternally falling then reverting, then falling, forever. Right.
Are there other storylines in Harry Potter that don't quite add up? Let us know in the comments.