The Harry Potter universe is one of the most extensive fictional worlds ever created. The exclusive wizarding elements that make up J.K. Rowling’s realm are ridiculously detailed, with an array of crazy character backstories, complex locations, and magical potions that have such specific ingredients, it’s a wonder anyone can keep track of it all.
Because of this, even the most diehard fans don’t have all the facts. Fear not though. Here are the top 10 Harry Potter facts you probably didn’t know about.
15. We’ve All Been Pronouncing ‘Voldemort” Wrong
Apparently, we’ve all been pronouncing the name of one of our favorite characters wrong. Voldemort is actually supposed to be pronounced without the ‘t’ at the end, as in Voldemore. And while you’re probably better off not mentioning his name in the first place, it makes you wonder how so many in the film got away with pronouncing it that way.
Played by Ralph Fiennes, Voldemort’s name means “Flight from Death” in French. It’s that fear of death and also a lust for power that ironically ends up being his downfall while he was still arguably in his prime (considering how long wizards like Dumbeldore could live).
JK Rowling announced the right pronunciation on Twitter. Although she did admit that she’s probably the “only one who pronounces it that way.”
14. Hufflepuff is JK Rowling’s favorite House
Harry, Ron and Hermoine are all part of Gryffindor house which values bravery, daring, nerve and chivalry. Hufflepuff values hard work, dedication, patience, loyalty and fair play and is JK Rowling’s favorite — even if she does see herself in Hermione who is in Gryffindor.
Hufflepuff has had illustrious members including Newt Scamander, Nymphadora Tonks and Cedric Diggory.
The other two houses are Ravenclaw — which values intelligence, knowledge and wit — and Slytherin — ambition, cunning and resourcefulness. They are equally as important. Each house is named after one of the founding members of Hogwarts. We’ll let you guess which ended up being a big “Pure Blood” fanatic.
13. JK Rowling Almost Portrayed Lily Potter in the First Film
Two of the most important characters in the Harry Potter universe are both dead before the beginning of the first book. James and Lily Potter are Harry parents. Their good hearts, bravery and knowledge of ancient magic caused the first downfall of Voldemort.
James was killed as he attempted to slow Voldemort down to allow Lily to save Harry by sacrificing herself. She thus cast a super powerful protection spell over Harry that made Voldemort unable to touch him — until he took some of Harry’s blood at the end of the Goblet of Fire.
So when it came time to cast the role of Lily Potter they offered it to JK Rowling. She refused. Of the offer she said; “[I’m] really not cut out to be an actress, even one who just has to stand there and wave.”
12. That random scene from The Deathly Hallows is VERY important
Audiences who have only ever seen the movies may have been puzzled by the short scene during Harry Potters and the Deathly Hallows. The one where Voldemort visits a crazy-looking bald old man in a jail cell in the hopes he’ll have the Elder Wand in his possession as he once did: Grindelwald.
Grindelwald replies, “Surely you know I no longer have what you seek.” The film then jumps to a much younger Grindelwald apparently stealing the Elder Wand and jumping out an open window. The old man then lets Voldemort know the location of the Elder Wand — it was buried with one of its former owners, Dumbledore.
Now, Grindelwald is the main antagonist in 2016’s Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them. Played by Colin Ferrell and Johnny Depp — who was impersonating an Auror in the hopes of starting a war in the wizarding world and also between man and wizards — the the once most powerful wizard in the world will be in the sequel, The Crimes of Grindelwald.
11. JK Rowling regretted not hooking up Harry and Hermoine
Though polar opposites, Ron Weasley and Hermione Granger are one of the most lauded couples in all of literary history. Rowling has often spoken about the fact that she modeled Hermione after herself. It turns out that she had a crush on someone who wasn’t really the best fit for her.
She crushed the hearts of many of her readers by saying that she regretted pairing the two together. Rowling said that she ended up bringing the two together mostly as “wish fulfillment” and because it was how she first envisioned the story ending.
With that information in mind, it seems sort of obvious that Harry was a better match for Hermione than Ron. Then again, that’s what makes Harry Potter so amazing, that the obvious or cliche choices aren’t the ones that are made across the board.
10. Arthur Weasley was supposed to die instead of Remus Lupin
Arthur Weasley, the father of a large clan of red-headed children, was originally intended to be killed by Nagini, Voldemort’s pet snake. Arthur was merely guarding one of the most important prophecies ever – the revelation spoken by Sybil Trelawney that determined the entire course of the books – that the serpent struck, nearly taking out what Rowling describes as one of the only good, living fathers throughout the series.
In fact, this was primarily why Arthur was given the pass to live. As such a noble father to a large number of children (and extended children, if you count Harry and Hermione), it definitely made sense that Rowling wanted to keep Arthur around.
However, many HP fans believe that Arthur’s life was traded for the deaths of two of everyone’s favorite fatherly figures – Remus Lupin, who actually ended up becoming a dad in the final book, and Sirius Black, the godfather to Harry Potter.
Ultimately, there is quite a bit of controversy over whether or not this was a fair sacrifice, but a fan theory supports the idea that Rowling was simply trying to keep the original Marauders group together in the afterlife. Although at least three of these characters are greatly missed, this idea makes their deaths just a little bit easier to accept.
9. Dolores Umbridge is Stephen King-approved
In The Order of the Phoenix, Dolores Umbridge was a wicked woman who filled in the ever-alternating — and cursed — slot of Defense Against the Dark Arts professor.
Covered in all-pink everything and surrounded by portraits of cats that only added to the anticlimactic atmosphere encompassing the evil witch, Dolores Umbridge is often regarded as being worse than Voldemort himself. Umbridge is one of the most horrible, sickly sweet, and inhuman villains throughout the HP series.
Stephen King, author of some of the most terrifying horror pieces in the world, agrees. “This one’s a slam dunk,” King said about Umbridge. “A great fantasy novel can’t exist without a great villain, and while You-Know-Who is a little too far out in the supernatural ozone to qualify, the new Defense Against the Dark Arts teacher at Hogwarts does just fine in this regard.”
He goes on to describe Umbridge as being “the greatest make-believe villain to come along since Hannibal Lecter.”
8. The original Dumbledore actor passed away
Professor Albus Dumbledore was portrayed by two different actors throughout the eight movies. For the first two films, Richard Harris nailed his performance of the wizened wizard. Unfortunately, in 2002, Harris was diagnosed with Hodgkin’s lymphoma, a form of cancer that typically only sees a five-year survival rate.
By the time Harris’s lymphoma was caught, he only lived a few more months. Initially, Harris’s family hoped that his close friend, Peter O’Toole, would be able to fill in the void that Harris had left behind.
Instead, Michael Gambon, an equally talented actor, was brought on to take on the role from the third movie to the final installment. Like Harris, he easily incorporated all of the physical and personality traits that made Dumbledore such a unique character.
7. Harry’s acceptance letters were all hand-written – twice
The Harry Potter series begins at Number 4 Privet Drive, where Harry is brought to live with his magically inept and discriminating aunt, uncle, and cousin. Throughout the first decade of his life, Harry is thoroughly mistreated for reasons he had yet to understand.
Aunt Petunia and Uncle Vernon both openly share their hatred for Harry over his magical heritage, fueled by confusion, frustration, and jealousy.
Shortly before his eleventh birthday, Harry is due to receive an acceptance letter from Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, despite never having been raised with knowledge of his true ancestry. When the first letter arrives, it is promptly ripped apart by Uncle Vernon, who is certain that this will keep Harry from ever embracing who he truly is. Little does he know, magic is a funny thing, and the letters just keep on coming – so many that they are dropped in and poked through every imaginable entry to the house. Letters are shoved under doorframes and into chimneys by swarms of owls and a very confused postman, much to the anger and dismay of Uncle Vernon.
In the movies, these scenes are pretty comical as the family struggles to keep up with shredding the onslaught of mail trying to reach a very curious Harry. In addition to being quite funny to watch, the facts behind the letters are equally entertaining. Each piece of wrapped parchment was handwritten by the film’s graphics team.
When it was time for the owls to deliver them, however, they discovered that they were far too heavy, resulting in this entire process commencing again. Thousands of letters had to be handwritten simply to be falsely delivered not once, but twice. If anything, the crew on the Harry Potter sets were incredibly thorough.
6. Ron Weasley was nearly on the chopping block
The Harry Potter trio, which included the namesake himself and his best friends, Ron Weasley and Hermione Granger, were as close-knit as young teenagers can possibly be when facing life-threatening circumstances at least a couple of times each year.
From the beginning, J.K. Rowling knew that she would never kill off any of her special three. Despite this, halfway through writing the series, Rowling nearly killed off everyone’s favorite red-headed arachnophobe, Ron Weasley.
“Midway through, which I think is a reflection of the fact that I wasn’t in a very happy place, I started thinking I might polish one of them off, out of sheer spite,” Rowling said.
5. Dumbledore is gay
Although there are many facts that were discovered about Albus throughout the Harry Potter series, perhaps one of the most popular and unexpected revelations is that he is gay.
In 2007, J.K. Rowling revealed this to the world during a book-signing at Carnegie Hall in New York City, where she read excerpts from Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows and answered questions about the series.
JKR shared that she had “always thought of Dumbledore as gay” to which the crowd erupted into excited applause. She then went on to explain how he had fallen for Gellert Grindelwald, a dark wizard who had one of the most complex and twisted minds of all time.
This revelation only added more depth to Dumbledore’s already well-established character, as it was common knowledge among diehard fans that he had won in a duel against Grindelwald, banishing him to imprisonment until his death at the hands of Voldemort in 1998.
Dumbledore’s sexuality thus became a widely discussed topic, with the majority of the fandom in full support of, and even overjoyed about, his love affairs. Rowling concluded, “If I’d known it would make you so happy, I would have announced it years ago!”
4. Dementors represent depression
The dark, soulless entities are often mentioned throughout the series as wardens to the terrifying wizard prison, Azkaban. As they feed on human happiness, they cannot differentiate between good and evil, leaving them to haunt anyone that is close enough.
When this happens, all of the light and good feeling is sucked out of the surrounding area, leaving their victims to be rattled with fear, despair, and only the negativity of their past and present.
This sheer representation of depression and grief is linked directly to the author herself. In an interview with The Times (UK) in 2000, she agrees that Dementors are direct depictions of the mental health issue, and that “depression is the most unpleasant thing I have ever experienced.”
‘She goes on to explain her feelings on this as, “It is that absence of being able to envisage that you will ever be cheerful again. The absence of hope. That very deadened feeling, which is so very different from feeling sad. Sad hurts but it’s a healthy feeling. It’s a necessary thing to feel. Depression is very different.”
JKR is able to relate to a myriad of fans with her perceptions of depression and the representations she created of them from the first copy of Harry Potter to two decades later. This alone elevates the entire series in ways that are indescribable, but incredibly appreciated by fans battling depression and the many trials that come with it.
3. Harry and Dudley remained family, sort of
For over a decade Harry lived in a cupboard under the Dursleys stairs and did nearly all of the cleaning around the house while Dudley played video games and did as he pleased. It was no surprise that, when Harry came of age and was preparing to go head-to-head with Lord Voldemort, that his “family,” if they can be called that, were moved to a safe place.
Following an almost heartfelt (but mostly uncomfortable) goodbye scene, the Dursleys were never mentioned in the books or movies again, though it was assumed that they were very much alive.
In fact, despite their major differences and quarrels growing up, Dudley and Harry ended up seeing each other many times after the Battle of Hogwarts. They kept in touch minimally and would visit one another if the other was nearby so that their children would know each other and not be deprived of their family.
Harry’s children despised these visits. However Dudley and Harry felt an unspoken necessity to be family in some way.
2. Hedwig was killed with purpose (but it was still horrible)
Throughout the series, Hedwig carries mail back and forth between Harry and his friends during the summer while he is forced to remain with his aunt and uncle, who begrudgingly allow the pet. She is also kept in the owlery at Hogwarts during Harry’s studies, where she accompanies other owls and visits Harry from time to time.
Her temperament is rather affectionate. She often nips at Harry — the equivalent of kisses in bird form — and appears to be incredibly loyal to her owner as one of his only companions during the harder times growing up.
In the final novel — and the first half of the Deathly Hallows movies — Harry must be moved to a safe house. He has come of age and the protection that his mother’s sacrifice sealed around him will now wear off.
In order to transport him, several others volunteer to be decoy Harry’s, transforming into fake versions of him with Polyjuice Potion. What is now referred to as the Battle of the Seven Potters commenced when Voldemort was tipped off about his relocation, causing a traumatic fight in the sky.
During this battle, Hedwig, who was being transported with the real Harry, was hit by the Killing Curse, which instantly took her life. Her death was absolutely devastating to Harry and fans alike. She had been a consistent source of happiness and love. Despite the fact that many are still not pleased with the decision to kill off the innocent owl, her demise is not without purpose.
Hedwig’s death was used to depict the fact that Harry was no longer a child. As Hedwig had been an integral part of his growing up, the loss of her life also reflected the loss of his innocence. She represented a safe place for him, and in losing that, his childhood effectively ended.
1. J.K. Rowling wanted to kill off Hagrid, however. . .
. . . she needed him to carry out the plans she’d made from the very first year of writing the Harry Potter series. Although not everything was clear to Rowling when she initially began creating the HP world, one thing that she did conceive in her mind was a rough draft of the final chapters of the last novel.
This plot included the cheerful half-giant who would have otherwise been a clear choice to die, according to JKR.
From the beginning, Rowling envisioned Harry walking to his supposed death, where he would be met with the ghosts of his loved ones. They would support him and walk the rest of the way with him, as they do in the novels, until he must face Voldemort.
She then formed the concept of Hagrid carrying Harry’s allegedly lifeless body out of the Forbidden Forest. This image is reminiscent of when Hagrid initially delivered Harry to the doorstep of the Dursleys house almost two decades prior, and was an idea that stuck with Rowling as she wrote out the seven books.
Because of this thought, so deeply engraved into her mind, she was unable to ever kill off the beloved Hagrid. Similarly, his dog Fang, was also spared — another wise decision on Rowling’s part. If the HP fandom hadn’t come after her for that one, Hagrid definitely would have.