Warner Bros. Pictures
Harry Potter is arguably the most famous fictional character in the world. Since the first book was released 21 years ago, J.K. Rowling's brainchild has proven to be one of the most profitable, recognizable and beloved series in existence. Today, more than 400 million Harry Potter books have been sold worldwide. The series has been translated into 68 different languages. And it's the second-highest grossing film series of all time. So needless to say, it's been pretty successful.
Even today, fans love the series just as much as they did in its heyday. The internet flipped when Emma Watson and Tom Felton had a mini-reunion, and there are still a ton of surprising facts about the series that even the most dedicated Potterheads might not know.
But when a series is so huge, there are bound to be a few problems here and there. Keep reading to find out about the Harry Potter franchise's biggest controversies and scandals.
The author revealed Dumbledore's sexuality in 2007 after all of the books had been written. It was never stated in any of the books that Dumbledore was gay, nor was it hinted at very heavily, so a lot of people criticized J.K.'s decisions to retroactively make Dumbledore gay. The author claimed she knew all along of Dumbledore's sexuality, but many fans accused her of pandering to LGBTQ+ Potterheads and trying to make the series seem more progressive than it really was.
Recasting such a talented actor was, of course, difficult, especially when the fans were so attached to the character. But the filmmakers decided on Michael Gambon to take Richard's place.
When he made his debut in Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, not everyone was satisfied with his performance. His interpretation of Dumbledore was a lot more stern, serious and boisterous than Richard's, and some fans were upset with the change in personality. But despite the initial backlash, most fans came around to Michael by the end of the series.
J.K. Rowling was accused on many occasions of promoting witchcraft, which was considered anti-Christian. Angry parents made the series the most banned books of the year 2000. We can't help but laugh about that, though.
In The Deathly Hallows, the Christian influences become more apparent. Harry's parents' tombstones both feature quotes from the Bible, and Harry even experiences "heaven" for himself. There is also an exploration of immortality and the afterlife.
Despite the potential backlash from including Christian themes in a book series that was perceived as secular, J.K. said she wasn't afraid. She just didn't want to be too heavy-handed for fear that perceptive fans would see where the plot was heading.
"To me [the religious parallels have] always been obvious," J.K. said at a press conference. "But I never wanted to talk too openly about it because I thought it might show people who just wanted the story where we were going."
A lot of parents were upset with the inclusion of the scene, as they didn't want to expose their children to that sort of material. But by that point, the Harry Potter films weren't exactly kid-friendly anymore.
Just like Team Edward versus Team Jacob, there's Team Ron and Team Harry. A large portion of fans think that Harry and Hermione should have ended up together, and nearly everyone involved in the series agrees. Both Emma Watson and Rupert Grint said that they had their doubts about Ron and Hermione working out, and J.K. herself admitted she might have made a mistake by not putting Harry and Hermione together in the end.
The Harry Potter series united the world in ways few books ever could. Whenever a new book was set to be released, fans would wait in line at bookstores for hours until the clock struck midnight. It was considered a tradition among Potterheads, but things got a little messy with the last book of the series.
Days before The Deathly Hallows was set to be released, the entire book got leaked. A sneaky fan took photos of every single page and uploaded them all onto the internet, and the news spread like wildfire. The photos were eventually taken down, but not before they were downloaded by tens of thousands.
Snape's soft utterance of "You have your mother's eyes" to Harry before his death was enough to bring tears to any Potterhead's eyes, but still, there are some fans who don't think Snape deserves the love he's gotten.
Despite his true loyalty to Dumbledore, Snape still aligned himself with Voldemort and the Death Eaters. Not only did he allow them to commit horrific crimes, but he also actively participated in some of those crimes. He also treated Harry with constant disdain and disrespect, which is pretty terrible considering he was the child of his true love.
Many fans felt hurt by the constant negative portrayal of Slytherins throughout the series, and a lot argued that there should have been more examples of "good" Slytherins. After all, many Potterheads proudly identify as Slytherins themselves, and they deserve some positive representation.
Instead of Crabbe showing up to the Room of Requirement with Malfoy and Goyle, it was Blaise Zabini that appeared. Needless to say, fans were very confused. Why replace a character in his most notable scene of the whole series? Well, it turns out he was up to no good.
Jamie Waylett, the actor who played Crabbe, was arrested in 2009 for growing marijuana in his mother's home. He was ordered to pay a fine and serve six weeks in a correctional facility, but perhaps his real punishment was losing his job as Crabbe.
The first was Nancy Stouffer, who accused J.K. of stealing ideas from her books The Legend of Rah and the Muggles and Larry Potter and His Best Friend Lilly. The second was the estate of Adrian Jacobs, who accused J.K. of plagiarizing parts of the author's book The Adventures of Willy the Wizard: Livid Land. Despite both of their claims, both cases were dismissed for lack of sufficient evidence.
In a tweet, she wrote, "Canon: brown eyes, frizzy hair and very clever. White skin was never specified. Rowling loves black Hermione." It was a nice sentiment, but not everyone was buying it. Some were angry that J.K. retroactively decided to remove Hermione's perceived whiteness, much like she retroactively decided to announce Dumbledore's sexuality. It was seen as yet another way to make the series seem more progressive than it was.
The man playing Grindelwald was none other than Johnny Depp. News of his alleged verbal and physical abuse of his ex-wife, Amber Heard, was international news at the time, so it wasn't a good look for the filmmakers.
They could have easily recast Grindelwald for the Fantastic Beasts sequel, but instead, they decided to keep him. Those involved, including David Yates and J.K. Rowling, publicly stood by the decision, which enraged fans.
It might not seem problematic on the surface, but when you think about the relationship between Voldemort and Nagini, some issues arise. A lot of fans were angry that a Korean woman was cast as Nagini because Nagini ultimately turns into the slave of a white man (Voldemort). But J.K. was quick to point out that the "Naga" come from Indonesian mythology, thus insinuating that it makes sense for an Asian actress to play Nagini. And despite the controversy, Claudia was excited to get the role.
"I think Nagini should've been played by an Asian," she said. "J.K. Rowling probably searched for an Asian actress because she researched the origin of Nagini. I'm not sure if it's just my pride, but I think I was able to bring out a different vibe as a Korean in Hollywood where there are many Korean Americans."