With seven books and eight movies, the Harry Potter universe is incredibly complicated and comes with its own diverse mythology. Since the series ended in 2007, Harry Potter fans (sometimes known as Potterheads) have been pouring over the books in order to find plot hole and potentially hidden backstories to their favorite characters. Turns out J.K. Rowling might have been hiding some of the most shocking backstories and plot twists in plain sight. We've found the 40 best Harry Potter fan theories out there. Warning: you might have to reread all the book once you've finished.
So long before the Harry Potter books were finished, a fan theory lurked on the internet called "Knight2King" which posited that Dumbledore was actually an older version of Ron Weasley. Based on the fact that both Ron and Dumbledore are described as thin, with long noses, and the fact that a younger Dumbledore had auburn hair, readers believed that Dumbledore and Ron were actually the same person. They further supported their theory by claiming that fact that Ron played the roles of both the knight and the king during the enchanted chess game in The Sorcerer's Stone meant he would later play dual roles in the books. This theory has kind of been undone by the seventh book, but once you subscribe to it you start seeing parallels everywhere.
In 2000, JK Rowling went on record and said that there are about 1,000 students overall at Hogwarts. If you break that down it means that for every year there should be about 35 kids per house. But, if you pay close attention to the books, there are only ten Gryffindors in Harry's year. (Boys: Harry, Ron, Neville, Dean Thomas, and Seamus Finnigan; Girls: Hermione, Lavender, Pravati, Elois Midgen, and Romilda Vane). Since these kids all would have been born during the height of the first wizarding war, some fans have theorized that this is due to a baby drought. Since Voldemort was knocking around being all evil, witches and wizards were just trying to focus on making it through the next day, not having kids. We gotta say, this checks out.
Neville Longbottom's glow up in the Harry Potter series is pretty legendary, but some fans think it wasn't all due to emotional growth and aging and whatnot. While we know that "the wand chooses the wizard," it's also clear that wizards can use other people's wands, albeit with mixed results. In Order of the Phoenix, Neville says that he's using his dad's wand. Poor Neville has always had to live in his father's shadow, never quite living up to his grandmother's expectations while his parents are confined to St. Mungo's Hospital due to the injuries they sustained at the hands' of Death Eaters. Some fans believe that part of the reason Neville bungled so much magic in the early books is that he was using a wand that wasn't his, and also came with lots of emotional baggage. When Neville finally gets his own wand after the end of book five, he really comes into his own.
Plausibility: basically canon
This is J.K. Rowling's favorite fan theory, which basically makes it canon as far as we're concerned. You remember the "Tale of the Three Brothers," right? It's the story of the three Peverell brothers who were originally gifted the Deathly Hallows. Well, this theory claims that Voldemort, Snape, and Harry form another incarnation of the brothers. Voldemort lusts for the power of the Elder Wand like the first brother. Snape wants to bring his love back from the dead like the second brother, and Harry, like the third brother, is ready to greet death as an old friend. Dumbledore is the only person other than Harry to possess all three Hallows. He's also indirectly responsible for the deaths of both Voldemort and Snape. When Harry finally dies in the seventh book, he's greeted by his old friend Professor Dumbledore. It makes sense you guys! Yay for symbolism, we'll be weeping softly in the corner if you need us!
Just to make it very clear, we stan Ginny Weasley here at the whisp and will not stand for this kind of slander on her character. But some fans believe that Ginny actually slipped Harry a love potion and that's why he fell in love with her. To be fair, it kind of makes sense. Ginny has been obsessed with Harry since before she went to Hogwarts, and we see lots of people use love potions for nefarious purposes in the books, so we know they work. But, Harry's feelings for Ginny are nothing like the other love potion feelings we see in the books. Plus, book Ginny is clearly the coolest girl at Hogwarts, so why wouldn't Harry fall in love with her?
Think about it: we know that Molly Weasley had a tendency to be a little overbearing and super involved in her children's lives. She loved both Hermione and Harry. By slipping them both love potions and making them fall in love with her children, she would have guaranteed that they were going to say in her family forever. She would have also ensured that her grandchildren were going to be pretty great witches and wizards when they grew up, which is what every grandparent wants. But we know that while Mrs. Weasley might have been tempted, it's unlikely that she would have stepped over the line like that.
Harry Potter was born into a life of privilege (yeah that's right, we're talking wizard privilege now), in addition to being the most famous person in the wizarding world from the age of one, Harry was also a part of the pureblood Potter family. In the wizarding world, pureblood families (families with exclusively magical heritage) are increasingly rare and almost uniformly powerful. (They also tend to be wizard racists). Harry's godfather, Sirius Black, is also part of one such family.
Some fans noticed that Sirius's family tree included a "Dorea Black" who married a "Charlus Potter." Fans speculated that Dorea and Charlus are actually Harry's grandparents, which would make him and Sirius cousins! Unfortunately, this theory was disproved after J.K. Rowling revealed that Harry's grandparents were named Fleamont and Euphemia Potter. This theory is probably true in some capacity, however, since we know that pureblood families have been intermarrying for generations.
Plausibility: very possible
Everyone knows that the Dursleys treated their de-facto foster son, Harry, with indifference and disdain that bordered on the sociopathic. But, what if there was a reason why they were so horrible to Harry? What if it was because Harry had been carrying around a piece of Voldemort's soul inside of him this whole time. We see other, better characters turn into pretty horrible people while under the influence of Horcruxes, so why would the Dursley's be any different? This theory was proposed by tumblr user graphicnerdity, and it's been widely debated amongst fans. What is clear is that the Dursleys suck, Horcrux or no.
Plausibility: please no
Okay so you know Professor Trelawney's famous prophecy that officially screwed up Harry's life forever? It's the one that says "and either must die at the hand of the other for neither can live while the other survives." While most people take this to mean that Harry or Voldemort must be the ones to kill each other, imgur user HPWombat took the prophecy one step further and wondered if it meant that Harry and Voldemort could only die if they were killed by the other. Since Voldemort is now dead, that would mean that Harry can never die. This has some pretty grim implications, mainly, Harry is doomed to watch the people he loves die, forever, and can never join them. We're fully ugly crying.
Plausibility: anything is possible with Dumbledore
For all his flaws, it did really seem like Albus Dumbledore cared about the quality of education at Hogwarts, so it's baffling that he decided to hire the bumbling and self-aggrandizing Gilderoy Lockhart to teach Defense Against the Dark Arts. This fan theory, explained by tumblr user elsiesnuffin, claims that the headmaster simply thought it would be funny to hire an idiot. This is actually ... kind of true. According to Pottermore, it was nearly impossible to find someone to take the DADA post because it was cursed. Dumbledore knew Lockhart was a fake and thought hiring him would lead to the wizard eventually expose his own incompetence. Dumbledore also told McGonagall that there was a lot that students could learn from bad teachers, such as "what not to do, how not to be." That's basically Dumbledore's version of saying, "We're going to watch this fool get owned by some twelve-year-olds and it's going to be great."
There is an entire website dedicated to this theory, so we are taking it very seriously. Sure, the sixth movie and some new Pottermore information make this theory bunk, but if you go by the books, there's nothing that wouldn't actually make this true. Based on the fact that Draco is not actually a Death Eater, but instead a werewolf, this theory posits that Fenrir Greyback was ordered to bite Draco as punishment for Lucius Malfoy's failings in the Department of Mysteries. Instead of intimidating Borgin of Borgin & Burkes with his Dark Mark, Draco is actually showing him his werewolf bite. This is why Narcissa didn't reveal the fact that Harry was alive during the Battle of Hogwarts — she was trying to protect her werewolf son from the world Voldemort would have created. Nuanced characterization? We love it.
Fans of the books will know that Hermione's cat Crookshanks is uncommonly smart and helpful. He can tell the difference between regular animals and animagi, as well as sense deception and trickery. At first, Hermione is the only part of the gang that Crookshanks likes, but he quickly warms up to others. Fans speculated for a long time that Crookshanks' intelligence was due to the fact that he was part kneazle — a magical cat-like animal that can sense deception. This fan theory has been confirmed by J.K. Rowling herself, which makes it officially canon.
Plausibility: very weak
While we can award this theory points for ambitiousness, we can't say that it's convincing. The evidence for this theory is based in the following assertions: 1) McGonagall shows a disregard for Harry's safety by signing him up for Quidditch and buying him a top of the line broom 2) She teaches Transfiguration, a subject based in deceit 3) She's wizard-racist because she once called muggles "not completely stupid" 4) She expressed emotions strangely. This theory was completely disproven by the seventh book, but even before that we would have bet a lot of money on the fact the Minvera McGonagall has nothing but the best of hearts.
So far, all we know about the real process of making a Horcrux is the apocryphal tale that when J.K. Rowling told her editor about it, he threw up. Reddit user sirlionel13 postulated that the missing step J.K.R. refuses to tell her readers about is actually cannibalism. We know that murder is required to split the soul enough to make a Horcrux, but, according to this theory, the really disgusting part of the ritual is the fact that you have to then eat the person you killed. There are some holes in this theory, mainly that the victims Voldemort killed to make his Horcruxes (Moaning Myrtle and the Riddles) were found without any outward signs of damage. But that begs the question, what's grosser than eating people?
Rita Skeeter, the inventor of fake news, was the journalist that everyone loved to hate in The Goblet of Fire. She knows the inside scoop on Voldemort's rise to power, as she reluctantly writes and publishes Harry's exposé on the events of the Triwizard Tournament in The Quibbler. The last time we see her is at Dumbledore's funeral, so what if she skipped out on the wizarding world altogether after the Battle of Hogwarts, and decided to write up the full story of Harry Potter in the muggle world? The ministry would have let her work, after all, who would have believed that she was telling the truth?
Plausibility: highly likely
Every young witch and wizard knows that the International Statute of Secrecy (signed in 1689) protects the wizarding world from danger from Muggles. But the exact circumstances leading up to the signing of the Statue are never specified. This theory proposes that muggles and wizards already fought a world war, and the muggles won. Reddit user celeritas365 explains that the Ministry of Magic doesn't really function like an independent government, but rather like a very large department of some other government. Think about it: we never see a Wizard legislative body, nor do we hear talk of any elections, despite the fact there are multiple Ministers of Magic in the book. If the Minister is the head of his own government, why is he referred to as the Minister of Magic? This theory says the answers is that wizards were beaten by muggles in a large scale conflict and have been relatively subjugated by muggles ever since.
This theory has a whole host of close reading to back it up. Our high school English teachers are basically shaking with joy right now. This theory lays out the idea that Arthur Weasley was a victim of the imperious curse during Voldemort's first rise to power and this is part of the reason why he never rose high in his ministry job. The evidence: 1) We know that Voldemort targeted young ministry officials during both his rises to power. Arthur would have been a young ministry official at the time. 2) Ron seems to be particularly impacted by the imperious curse when Mad-Eye Moody makes his class practice disobeying the curse. 3) The books are full of implications that the Weasleys had a Voldemort related secret lurking in their closet. This theory would explain a lot of Arthur Weasley's uncharacteristic sourness about Lucius Malfoy and the first wizarding war, as well as part of Molly's overprotective nature.
Plausibility: very likely
We know that Harry's eventual sorting into Gryffindor happened in large part because he wanted to be in Gryffindor. The implications of Harry's choice come to both haunt and define him throughout the series. But this fan theory postulates that all three of the main protagonists — Harry, Ron, and Hermione, were better suited for other houses but ended up in Gryffindor because they had the courage to ask to be in Gryffindor. Harry was really more suited to Slytherin, Ron was a better Hufflepuff, and Hermione should have been a Ravenclaw. Of course, it's our choices that come to define us, so all three proved themselves to be true Gryffindor's in the end.
In The Goblet of Fire, Professor Trelawney says that Harry's birthday is in mid-winter. This seems embarrassing for the witch who is currently employed as the divination teacher at Britain's premier wizarding school as Harry was actually born in mid-summer. But this fan theory says that Trewlaney was actually right, she was just sensing the presence of Voldemort's soul inside Harry. Since Tom Riddle was born on December 31, and Trewlaney has always been strangely dialed into the future goings-on of Harry and the Dark Lord, this theory might hold water.
It's an established part of Harry Potter canon that centaurs are gifted diviners who can see the future far better than humans. Because they rarely interfere with mortal affairs, this doesn't impact the main characters very much. However, some fans have notice that the centaurs who live in the Forbidden Forest seem to know that something very dark and very important will go down in their backyard sometime soon. This is only one example of how the divination that appears in the books is almost always correct, even when it is dismissed by the books' characters at the time.
This theory is closely tied to the whole, "muggles won a war against the wizards" one. Like lots of good Harry Potter theories, this one also originates on Reddit with a post by user jodatoufin. This theory states that the magic muggle words 'abracadabra' actually came from a mishearing of the words 'avada kedavra.' Since early contacts between wizards and muggles were often so violent, all muggles took away from them was the mangled words of the killing curse. There's even a more advanced version of this theory that states that the killing curse originated as a way to kill all sorts of diseases, and was only later amplified to kill people.
You know at the end of The Sorcerer's Stone when Dumbledore awards Harry, Ron, and Hermione points for breaking almost every school rule and then awards Neville a lame ten points for having the courage to stand up to his friends? It seems like a weird bit of favoritism where Dumbledore just rigged the system so that Gryffindor could win the house cup, right? Well, this fan theory explains that Dumbledore awarded those ten points to Neville because he knew how hard it was to stand up to your friends. Dumbledore himself spent a long time avoiding standing up to Gellert Grindelwald. We're docking points from this theory for not explaining why Neville's principled stand gets fewer points than Harry's savior complex.
Harry and Ron are notoriously bad Divination students. In The Goblet of Fire, the pair abandons the idea of doing their Divination homework correctly and they simply start making up their futures instead. Ron predicts that Harry's "in danger of burns," that he will lose "a treasured possession," before he's "stabbed in the back" by a friend and finally "comes off worse in a fight." All of these track with the plot of The Goblet of Fire, in which Harry fights a dragon, loses his treasured friend Ron Weasley at the bottom of a lake before his favorite teacher turns out to be a Death Eater and he gets bested by Voldemort pretty badly. Evidence of Ron's psychic powers, or the literary device foreshadowing?
We know that Crookshanks being half kneazle is canon, but we still feel like there are some unanswered questions about just how Hermione's furry friend knew so much. Enter this detailed fan theory that Crookshanks was actually the Potter's cat while they were in hiding. In book seven, we learn that Harry had a cat when he was younger. This theory supposes that Crookshanks and that cat are one and the same, which is why Crookshanks immediately knew that Scabbers was actually Peter Pettigrew in disguise, and why he also recognized Sirius when he was transformed as an animagus. We want to believe!
In The Prisoner of Askaban, Lupin tells Harry that the reason that Dementors are attracted to him is because of the trauma he endured when he was younger. But some fans have theorized that the real reason the prison guards are so attracted to Harry is that he actually has more than the regular amount of soul in him. We know that Harry has a piece of Voldemort's soul attached to his own. He's basically a two for one meal deal for the Dementors. We have to say that this one checks out.
This theory is based on a keen understanding of irony and the consequences of people's actions. Some fans have noted that basically, Voldemort was the person who enabled his own destruction. Although Harry and his friend spent lots of time trying to bring about Voldemort's demise, each Horcrux is ultimately destroyed because of something Voldemort himself did. The sword of Gryffindor, the basilisk fang, fiendfyre and the killing curse that destroy the Horcruxes are all brought into the story by Voldy himself. He also enables his entire long term destruction by being threatened by a baby and fulfilling the prophecy, just saying.
This is by far the weakest fan theory out there. (Or are we just saying this because we desperately want Hogwarts to be real?) According to the people who believe this theory, the entire series never actually happened. Instead, some fans believe that Harry just made it all up after the Dursley's permanently locked him under the stairs. Some even believe that Hogwarts is the delusional version of the insane asylum that the Dursley's sent Harry to after he went mad. Please no!
This was another theory that was really popular before the series ended and fans knew all the details of Harry's past. According to this theory, Hermione is actually Harry's secret sister who was hidden away from the wizarding world at birth. Why? No one knows! The support for this theory is generally based on the idea that Hermione knows a little too much about the wizarding world for someone who was raised by muggles. (She reads a lot of books. It's kind of her whole thing.) Some fans also thought that she was a little too buddy-buddy with Harry, but that's just because they're best friends! Come on people, even back in the day this was a reach.
You know how Harry is ~The Chosen One~ because Voldemort decided to murder him and not baby Neville, thus fulfilling the prophecy? Well, this fan theory alleges that that's actually bogus, and Neville has been The Chosen One all along! Think about it ... Neville is the one who kills Nagini, thus ensuring that Voldemort can actually die. Harry might have had the final piece of Voldemort's soul attached to his, but Neville was out there getting stuff done. The low-key hero we all need.
Trust us, there is no shortage of prophecy-related theories in the Harry Potter fandom. This one alleges that the reason why Snape is so mean to Neville is that he resents Neville, who could have also been the baby in the prophecy. If Neville had been targeted by Voldemort, Lily Potter would have never died. We wouldn't put it past Snape to take out his regrets about his past actions on a small child. Let this be a lesson to us all — don't join a violent terrorist organization and then you won't have any conflicted feelings about your crush's murder!
Sometimes this theory works in conjunction with the theory that Arthur Weasley was under the imperious curse, and sometimes it stands alone. But basically, the Missing Son theory holds that the Weasleys seem unduly traumatized by Voldemort's first rise of power. That, coupled the large age gap between Percy and Charlie, and the fact that there are some vague descriptions of the Weasley family that imply they might have once had another child, all seem to indicate that the Weasley's had another son who was killed during Voldemort's first reign of terror.
J.K. Rowling has come right out and said that this fan theory, which was proposed by YouTubers SuperCarlinBrothers, isn't true. In spirit, this theory — that the beloved but troubled headmaster purposefully made a Horcrux while he was friends with Grindelwald — does make some kind of sense. Believers think that Dumbledore's Horcrux is housed in either Faux the Phoenix or the Elder Wand. If you look closer though, the theory doesn't hold water. As morally questionable as Dumbledore was, we doubt that he engaged in some of the darkest magic around.
This theory would mean that Albus Dumbledore was the helicopter mom that Harry never had. We already know Dumbledore pulled a lot of strings from behind the scenes (and even from beyond the grave) when Harry was at Hogwarts. But what if Dumbledore played friendship matchmaker for Harry, Ron, and Hermione? According to this theory, Dumbledore made sure that the Weasleys would run into Harry on Platform Nine and Three Quarters. What if Mrs. Weasley made Ron the wrong sandwich on purpose? What if they were supposed to run into each other there? Makes you think doesn't it?
In Prisioner of Azkaban, Harry can hear the sounds of his parents' final moments when the Dementors close in on him. He assumes that these are long dormant memories that are magically resurfaced by the Dementors' power to make people relive the worst moments of their lives over and over again. But, some fans have pointed out that this memory probably isn't Harry's. Since he would have been a baby at the time of his parent's murder, he probably doesn't have any memory of the event at all. Instead, some fans think that this memory comes from the tiny piece of Voldemort's soul that is attached to Harry. Scenes in the later books would seem to confirm this theory.
We learn in the sixth book that Voldemort cursed the Defense Against the Dark Arts position at Hogwarts after Dumbledore denied his application for the post. But, this fan theory is about how Voldemort decided to curse the post. Some fans think that Voldemort's curse makes each teacher confront their greatest fear. We don't have a lot of information about all the Defense Against the Dark Arts teachers to back this one up, but it seems probable.
Wandlore is one of the most complicated and interesting parts of the Harry Potter universe. We know that "the wand chooses the wizard" and that wands are complicated magical objects with something approaching feelings. Not only do wants all differ in composition, but they also differ in looks. This fan theory hypothesizes that wands actually change to suit their owner's personality. So the tiny vine designs that criss-cross Hermione's wand would be a reflection on her inner personality, not just a cool design put there by the wandmaker. We buy it.
Irma Pine is Hogwarts' unhelpful librarian, but some fans believe that she is also related to erstwhile Potions' Master Severus Snape. This theory became popular in the gap between the sixth and the seventh books, when fans were looking for reasons why Dumbledore stood by a man who seemed to be so obviously a Death Eater. After we learned that Snape's mother's maiden name was "Prince," some fans speculated that Irma Pince was actually an anagram for "I'm a Prince." They thought that this meant Snape's mother was hiding in plain sight at Hogwarts! While this ultimately isn't the reason that Dumbledore trusted Snape, we don't have any proof its not true.
Strap in because this Twitter thread from @grangershug is about to assassinate the character of one Albus Dumbledore. The Twitter user lays out a whole list of reasons why Dumbledore either knew that Sirius was innocent or had real reasons to doubt his guilt and did nothing about it. This has always been a major plot hole in Dumbledore's supposed super smartness. It's pretty hard to believe that Albus didn't have any questions about exactly who betrayed the Potters. It's even harder to believe that he did nothing to investigate those doubts despite being the most influential wizard in Britain, maybe the world. But then again, Albus Dumbledore is a pretty shady character.
The Elder Wand only truly changes ownership when one wizard bests the wizard he is taking the wand from. Because a wizard must demonstrate significant power over the wizard he's taking the wand from, this theory hypothesized that Dumbledore was never the true master of the Elder Wand — Voldemort was. To know what's going on we're going to have to track the chain of possession of the Elder Wand. Dumbledore took the wand from Grindelwald, who stole the wand from Gregorovitch. Because stealing is a cowardly act, not an act of power, it follows that Grindelwald was never actually the master of the Elder Wand, and neither was Dumbledore. Instead, Voldemort became master of the Elder Wand when he killed Gregorovitch, and Harry became master of the Elder Wand when he survived Voldemort's second killing curse. Boom!
At the beginning of The Half-Blood Prince, Minister of Magic Cornelious Fudge greets the new Muggle Prime Minister and informs him of the existence of an underground wizarding world. The PM is a little shocked but ultimately takes the news well. Fudge notes his relief, saying that the PM before him tried to throw Fudge at the window. If you follow the timeline of the Harry Potter books, you'll come to the realization that this meeting takes place in 1996, which means that the previous PM was Margret Thatcher. Yup. In the Harry Potter universe, Margret Thatcher tried to throw Fudge out of the window. Big mood.