Harry Potter and the Cursed Child has been tearing up Broadway for quite a while now. Whether you've seen the show or read it, you may have some concerns about particular elements of the story it's telling. As the original cast has moved on to other projects, there's been a fair amount of backlash to the play that continues the story. There's also a conversation about how it relates to the original seven Harry Potter books. Needless to say, there are more than a few inconsistencies and many fans think it's far from canon.
Inconsistencies aren't the only issue, though. Some fans think the story contradicts some of the larger themes of the series. Others hate the way it retells parts of the story we've already seen. Needless to say, there are plenty of reasons for fans to hate Harry Potter and the Cursed Child. Here are details from the play that infuriated fans.
In Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, we learn exactly how time turners work from one Hermione Granger. Namely, we learn that their capabilities are quite limited, and can only be used to go back five hours without causing irrevocable damage. What's more, there's no mechanism for traveling back to the present. Instead, you just have to wait for time to reach the present again.
In Cursed Child, though, both of those rules are changed. Now, time turners allow you to change the past and then return to the present, which is not at all how they work in the books.
Voldemort's entire purpose in life was to avoid death at all costs. It's why he sought the Sorcerer's Stone, it's why he created Horcruxes, and it's why it took Harry and Dumbledore so long to defeat him. The idea that he would have produced an heir is totally antithetical to his entire belief system. Voldemort wanted to be his own heir. He would not have wanted someone else out there with his blood who could challenge him.
The very idea that Delphi could be Voldemort's child feels ludicrous as a result. Voldemort simply wasn't the kind of person who was interested in children.
According to one of the alternate timelines that Scorpius and Albus create, Cedric Digory becomes a Death Eater because he's humiliated in the Triwizard Tournament. As a result, Voldemort defeats Harry and goes on to reign for years. This is all because Cedric killed Neville, so Nagini remained alive and well during Harry and Voldemort's final duel.
The problem, of course, is that Cedric's reasons for becoming a Death Eater seem pretty thin. After all, if being humiliated once can turn anyone evil, then more of us would probably be going around murdering people. The Cedric we knew was a fundamentally decent guy. He wasn't one incident away from fascism.
Whatever you think of the epilogue at the end of Deathly Hallows, you at least know that Ron and Hermione had a younger son named Hugo, and that Harry and Ginny had also had a huge role in raising Teddy Lupin, Remus and Tonks's son. Although both characters appear in the epilogue, they are entirely absent from Harry Potter and the Cursed Child.
While the goal of cutting characters to keep the story focused makes sense, it is strange to cut characters featured in the very scene that serves as the starting point for the play. They should be involved in the story, even if it's only in the most minor way possible.
There was plenty of opportunity to tell more stories in the world of Harry Potter. This is a world filled with limitless possibilities. Instead of exploring any of those stories, though, Cursed Child chooses to be in part a retread of stories we've already seen. That's the conceit of time travel, but it also affords the readers or viewers of the play the chance to go on a nostalgia trip.
While that may sound good on paper, in practice it feels like a hollow exercise. If the only point of Cursed Child is to rehash ideas from previous stories, why does it exist at all? We can always just go back to those if we're really feeling nostalgic.
Albus goes on this elaborate time heist with the goal of changing the past and saving Cedric. What's unclear is exactly why he decides this mission in particular is so important to him. He never knew Cedric, and while his death is a tragedy, there's not a ton within the story to justify the idea that Albus would become so obsessed with saving his life that he'd risk everything else.
The idea is in part that Albus is behaving recklessly, but he's also behaving in a way that defies logic. Why go back for Cedric at all? There are so many other things he could have tried to fix.
As soon as you show that the world can be irrevocably changed by time travel, the world you're seeing starts to feel less and less like the real one. It becomes clearer and clearer that you can just go back and time and keep screwing with things until you get it right, which is precisely what they do.
As a result, the stakes of the story feel smaller. The mistakes that these characters make don't ultimately have any real consequences. After the story ends, things are pretty much exactly where they were at the start. A lot happens, but nothing really changes.
In one of the alternate futures, Ron ends up with Padma Patil instead of Hermione. The idea of slight variations in the past changing the present is not insane on its face, but this particular idea is at least a little confusing. In this timeline, he goes to the Yule Ball with Hermione instead of Krum, and the two never enter a romantic relationship as a result.
Still, Padma Patil feels a little bit like a name that was pulled out of a hat. Why Padma instead of someone like Lavender, who at the very least Ron showed some romantic interest in?
Padma Patil is an Indian woman, but the name of her son with Ron is Panju, which is just not an Indian name. It's an island. This is the kind of thing that could have been cleared up with a quick Google search. Instead, authors Jack Thorne, John Tiffany and J.K. Rowling decided to leave it in, and be casually racist in the process.
This problem exists in the original Harry Potter stories as well, but given that this is the first new installment in almost a decade, you'd think they might have done some work to clean things up. Instead, they're still making simple, easy mistakes.
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One of the very best things about the entire Harry Potter story is the character of Severus Snape, who nobly sacrifices himself for Lily Potter, whom he loved all his life. It's Snape who reinforces the themes at the story's heart, reminding us all that love is more powerful than any other force.
The decision made in Cursed Child to bring him back in a world ruled by Voldemort is shameless. It's an easy way to use one of J.K.'s most potent characters to make us all nostalgic and weepy. Don't get me wrong, it does that. That doesn't mean we should admire the effort.
After Deathly Hallows was released, J.K. went to some lengths to tell us all that Dumbledore had been gay the entire time. In writing a new story, you'd think she might have put some effort into creating gay characters that were more open about their sexuality than Dumbledore had been.
In Cursed Child, Albus and Scorpius seem like great candidates. They're incredibly close friends who seem to rely almost entirely on one another. Alas, they turn out to have been just friends all along, even though there are serious homoerotic undertones. It's starting to feel like this might be something of a blindspot for J.K.
While you could probably say this about some of the original Harry Potter books, it's especially true in Cursed Child. Ron is in the play much less than Hermione, and his role is also much less consequential. He's essentially there to tell some jokes, and to live a sad life when we see what he's like without Hermione.
He does get roped into the final battle, but it feels like a strange choice given how little he's had to do in the story thus far. It seems like, given how much Harry and Hermione do in the play, they should have found a way to make Ron a little bit more central.
Dumbledore is one of the most important characters in the Harry Potter universe. He's Harry's guiding force, the one person who keeps him on the right path whenever he falters. In Cursed Child, though, reintroducing Dumbledore into the story begins to feel incredibly forced. It's true, of course, that Dumbledore only appears in portraits in the play.
Still, if his death was going to mean anything, it should have been more final. The fact that he continues to show up in portraits and counsel Harry undercuts his loss almost immediately. After the scene at King's Cross, we simply didn't need more Dumbledore.
In the original series, Harry's interactions with the Trolley Witch on board the Hogwarts Express are quite limited. She sells pumpkin pasties and other assorted sweets to the students, and Harry occasionally purchases some. In Cursed Child, though, we find out that the Trolley Witch is actually an ancient witch who was tasked with ensuring that every student aboard it arrives safely at Hogwarts.
It's totally bizarre, especially when you see the Trolley Witch transfigure into a terrifying creature with incredibly long nails. It may be a cool effect on stage, but it makes precisely zero sense in the context of the story.
This one is intentionally left open to interpretation, but that doesn't mean that fans can't find it disappointing. The names of the previous Harry Potter books all had pretty clear reference points. There wasn't a whole lot of ambiguity going around.
The cursed child could be any number of characters in the story. It could be Harry, Albus, Scorpius, or even Delphini. While in theory that ambiguity may seem cool, in practice it's incredibly frustrating. It makes you feel like the story is imprecise in ways that it may not mean to be. It's not as crisp or clean as the books were.
Hermione is one of the smartest witches alive. We see that and are told that over and over again in the first seven Harry Potter books, and even in Cursed Child. It doesn't make any sense that Hermione, the smart witch who's also Minster of Magic, would keep the illegal time turner anywhere where anyone else could grab it.
She hides it in a bookcase. Sure, it's an enchanted bookcase, but if it's a bookcase that can conceivably be opened, it's too simple a hiding spot. She should have hidden it somewhere no one would ever look for it. Instead, she left clues that led Scorpius and Albus right to it.
The climax of Harry Potter and the Cursed Child takes place in Godric's Hollow in the days leading up to Harry's parents' murder. Delphi takes Albus and Scorpius back to that time with her, and the three of them are forced to wait for Voldemort to arrive and carry out his brutal murder.
As Albus and Scorpius wait, they see James and Lily walking around town. There's one huge issue with this, though. James and Lily were supposed to be in hiding. They knew Voldemort was after them, and so they weren't just out walking with Harry. Albus and Scorpius should never have been able to see them.
Early on in Cursed Child, we get brief glimpses at James and Lily, Harry's other children. As the play develops, though, both of Harry's other children seem to simply disappear. Granted, the story isn't really about them, but even so, it seems like they could have been incorporated to a larger extent than they were.
As it is, it feels like both Harry and the play itself just forget that they exist, and instead focus all of their time on the relationship between Harry and Albus. While there are definitely interesting ideas there, it seems like the play could have spared a passing thought for Harry's other kids.
The most prominent prophecies in the first seven books both come from the same source. Sybill Trelawney may not be a great seer, but she does have the ability to produce genuine prophecies, as she did with two prophecies relating to Voldemort. In Harry Potter and the Cursed Child, we get another prophecy, but this time, it's not totally clear where that prophecy comes from.
This may seem like a small nitpick, but it speaks to the way the overall story feels a little bit less artfully structured. The original seven books made every detail feel essential. In Cursed Child, some questions just don't seem to deserve answers.
Like Voldemort, Bellatrix meets her end at the Battle of Hogwarts. Supposedly, she gave birth to Delphini before that during her stay in Malfoy Manor. That's slightly confusing, in part because we see Bellatrix at pretty regular intervals throughout the story, and she never appears to be pregnant.
Now, maybe she simply hid the bump incredibly well. It seems unlikely, though, that she would be capable of totally hiding a child. What's more, what would have happened to it after they both perished? The whole idea of a secret child never made much sense, and the more you think about it, the more it falls apart.