Wizard’s Council: Does Cursed Child count as part of The Harry Potter Series?


For our first gathering of the Wizard’s Council, we consider: Does Harry Potter and the Cursed Child count as part of “The Harry Potter Series”?

Welcome to the Wizard’s Council. Back in olden days, before the International Statute of Wizarding Secrecy in 1692, the Wizarding world was governed by the Wizard’s Council. This was the longest serving ruling body over the Wizarding World in history, and though it was disbanded in 1707 with the founding of the Ministry of Magic, it was still considering one of the wisest and august bodies to ever rule the UK and Irish Wizarding Worlds. (Sadly, the same cannot be said for the Ministry, which seems to only be as good as it’s current Minister.) Here at Wizards and Whatnot, we come together once again as this august body to think deeply on the issues of our time.

Philosophical Question of the Hour: Would you consider Harry Potter and the Cursed Child to count as part of “The Harry Potter Series”? Or should that label be reserved only for the Seven Novels/Movies?

Ani: This question originally came up because I was trying to sort things on Wizards and Whatnot into categories. Should Cursed Child be tagged “The Harry Potter Series”? I found myself leaning towards no, but couldn’t say why. Hence the reason to turn to the collective wisdom of the council.

Josh: Of course it should count as part of the Harry Potter series. If it has J.K. Rowling’s stamp of approval and her blessing — and it directly involves the core group of characters in the books/movies — then this should count. Simply because it’s a stage play shouldn’t diminish its part in the Harry Potter canon. If Cursed Child wasn’t something that Rowling was supporting, then the argument could be made that this shouldn’t count as part of the greater Harry Potter storyline. But it involves the characters from the books/movies and will be moving the story forward — all of which suggests it should be counted as canon.

Kelly: I am so torn over this. Part of me says of course! But the other says nope, sorry! I want to say yes because – like Josh said – it is written by Rowling herself and has her stamp of approval, and it also involves the same group of characters, in the same world. However, even though it involves the same characters, apparently the story does not revolve around them, but instead revolves around Harry’s son. I think I will have to see the play first and see how much it relates to the original books or if it feels like more of a spin off. In the meantime, however, my vote is going to have to be no. Sorry, Cursed Child!

Katie: I’ll give it a yes. Cursed Child sounds like a more in-depth continuation of the epilogue, which is of course part of the original series. The story is different but, then, the central plot of each book varies as well, and the play seems to encompass the larger theme of the seven books — light vs. dark, and how we reconcile ourselves to those opposing forces, both externally and internally. I wouldn’t consider something like Fantastic Beasts part of the original series, nor would I consider a Marauders-era prequel (please, JKR, can we have one?) part of it, either, since it would take place before the fact, and both tackle issues that are separate from Harry. But since Cursed Child takes place within Harry’s universe, that’s really enough to give it a place in the seven-book niche.

The play is more of a collaborative effort than the novels. Does that mean that Cursed Child shouldn’t be included in the canon?

Tara: Katie took the words right out of my mouth. I was a bit unsure how to feel about this until I read Dan’s article “Do we need a Harry Potter TV Series?”, because reading that made me think about all the different parts of the wizarding world that we have yet to see. Suddenly I found myself automatically lumping Cursed Child into “The Harry Potter Series” and thinking about all the non-Harry-Potter-centric options that are just waiting to be produced and how separate they could – and probably would – be. Like Katie, I don’t think Fantastic Beasts is part of “The Harry Potter Series”, but a play that is written and blessed by Rowling and includes the words “Harry Potter and…”? Absolutely.

Dan: This is a tricky question. First of all, I think it should be pointed out that Rowling didn’t technically write Harry Potter and the Cursed Child. She came up with the story, but it was written by playwright Jack Thorne. The play is more of a collaborative effort than the novels. Does that mean that Cursed Child shouldn’t be included in the canon? That’s harder to answer. Beyond the fact that it takes place after the original story has concluded, the fact that it’s in a different medium complicates things. (By the way, who wants to bet that Cursed Child will be made into four different movies released throughout the 2020s?)

I’m not sure we’ll be able to fully answer this question until after the play has debuted. I think of the “official Harry Potter series” as consisting of one long story that begins with Voldemort failing to kill an infant Harry and ending with his final death in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows. If Cursed Child expands and continues this narrative in some way, I’d be inclined to welcome it into the official canon. If it goes off in another direction, I’d probably label it a spinoff or side-story.

So I’m hedging. Sue me.

Ani: Along with the council, we also consulted our fans on Social Media, running polls on Twitter and asking our various Facebook groups. What was surprising to me was the kneejerk reaction the question produced. In all cases, majority vote said that this was not to be included. The reasons were varied. Some argued, as Dan does, that Rowling didn’t write it herself. It’s not a novel. It’s a play, based on the characters, in the same universe, but that it therefore counted more as a spin off than “The Eighth Harry Potter Story,” no matter what the advertisers might say. One interesting answer was that “If this became a trilogy, it would be The Albus Potter Series. Labeling this part of The Harry Potter Series would be like attempting to label the movies from the New Star Wars Trilogy as part of “The Original Star Wars Trilogy.” I thought that was a very good argument.

A few people worried that casting it out would somehow remove legitimacy, especially in light of the casting of Hermione as a woman of color. But I don’t think that we are doing that here if we say it’s not part of the “The Harry Potter Series.” It is still a Potterverse based world, it’s still canon, and it still counts. We do not de-ligitamize Fantastic Beasts because we do not call that part of “The Harry Potter Series.” That is not a thing we fans can do.

Next: More Harry Potter and The Cursed Child Casting Occurring

Harry Potter and the Cursed Child will open at London’s Palace Theater this summer.