Top 30 Changes the Harry Potter Movies Made to the Books


We examine 30 of the biggest changes the Harry Potter series underwent from book to screen, and whether or not those scenes deserved to be left on the cutting room floor.

Like the rest of the fandom, I have my sore spots where the Harry Potter film franchise is concerned, many of which I didn’t care about when the movies came out, but rather manifested over time. Now, I understand that no movie adaptation is perfect and, indeed, when any entertainment is adapted into another media outlet, you often have to observe them as two separate beings.

I don’t tend to be one of those people who say, “Oh, read the book. It’s so much better than the movie,” because that’s usually pretentious. I’ve tried to watch the movies with this in mind, but in my experience, objective viewing really takes away a lot of the emotional impact of the series. So in this case, I have to make my concessions, because I can’t watch the movies without either scowling or snorting derisively when the occasion arises. Here are 30 of those occasions, ranging from mildly disappointing to nonsensical to “For the love of god, why?”

Next: Number 30: De-Gnoming the Garden

  1. De-Gnoming the Garden

Following the Ron and the twins’ carjacking and rescue mission to Number 4, Privet Drive in Chamber of Secrets, Mrs. Weasley is understandably distraught by the dangerous illegality of her sons’ actions. While the movie suggested that Mrs. Weasley was satisfied with a little scolding, the book took the boys’ punishment into menial chore territory.

The Burrow’s garden is a sprawling, gorgeous mess of a thing, and lurking around are dozens upon dozens of gnomes. Completely dissimilar to Muggle garden gnomes like, as Ron puts it, “fat little Santa Clauses with fishing rods,” gnomes of the wizarding persuasion resemble walking potatoes that the Weasleys can only get rid of by Frisbee-ing them over the garden wall. Although Ron says that the gnomes will find their way back eventually, de-gnoming is really like any other household chore—the dust will settle once more, but you still have to vacuum it up every time.

Was the scene necessary to the plot of the story? No, in fact, we never hear about the garden gnomes again. But the comic relief it would have provided is something that the films often seriously lacked, and could have used. After all, who wouldn’t love to see that “the air was soon thick with flying gnomes” played out on the big screen? That’s a priceless laugh if ever there was one.

Next: Number 29: Squibs

  1. Squibs

One Wizarding world tidbit that crops up in Chamber of Secrets to significantly reappear later in Order of the Phoenix is the existence of Squibs. The opposite of a Muggle-born, a Squib is a non-magical person to be born into a magical family. The Ministry of Magic does not keep records of Squibs, a fact which demonstrates the Wizarding world’s general disregard for them, although—as we learn in COS—there are methods for Squibs to attempt some magical skill.

When Argus Filch drags Harry to his office for “befouling the castle” with his post-Quidditch practice muddy robes, Harry becomes privy to the caretaker’s secret. Distracted by a loud crash on an upper floor, Filch leaves the office to inspect the noise, leaving Harry alone to snoop. As it happens, Filch is attempting a Kwikspell course to tap into some magical ability, which, as a Squib, he lacks. When Ron finds out, he suggests that the reason Filch hates the students so much is because “he’s bitter,” which would indeed explain much of Filch’s behavior throughout the series.

A few books later, in OOTP, we learn that Harry’s neighbor and former babysitter, Arabella Figg—who, up until this point, seemed like nothing more but a filler character of sorts—is also a Squib, as well as a close confidante of Dumbledore’s who lends a helping hand to the Order.

So while Squibs don’t play a major role in the Harry Potter series, they remain a part of the Wizarding world, but it’s understandable that this little plot bunny was left to the pages of the books.

Next: Number 28: Beauxbatons and Durmstrang

  1. Beauxbatons and Durmstrang

Hogwarts’ guests and competition in the Triwizard Tournament arrive with as much pomp and circumstance on-screen as they do on-page, but a major change was made as well. Although Beauxbatons and Durmstrang in the books are co-ed schools like Hogwarts, the films tweak it so that Beauxbatons is an all-girls’ school, and Durmstrang an all-boys’.

The students’ respective entrances into the Great Hall ooze traditional gender roles, starting with the fact that Dumbledore introduces them as the “lovely ladies of Beauxbatons” and the “proud sons of Durmstrang.” The women are dainty and flowery, strolling to delicate string music, and we’re even treated to a nice shot of their swinging hips as they walk (real tasteful, Warner Bros.). Conversely, the men are tough and in-your-face, stomping into the room to a rather barbaric tune. In the case of Beauxbatons, it seems that the filmmakers took Fleur Delacour’s part-Veela attributes and instead applied them to the entirety of her classmates. Durmstrang, meanwhile, finishes off their introduction with a display of fire, just in case you didn’t get the hint that they breath, sweat, and bleed machismo.

Why the change? I can’t begin to guess, although the complete lack of necessity is rather clear.

Next: Number 27: Hagrid's Tale

  1. “Hagrid’s Tale”

While an entire chapter is devoted to Hagrid’s tale in Order of the Phoenix, its film counterpart cuts it down to a mere few sentences. The gist of the story is present in the film, that Hagrid went to negotiate with the giants to their side while the Death Eaters did likewise, but the details are lost to what is less a cutting room floor and more like an abyss where the intricacies of the Harry Potter world are sent to die.

My own personal dramatics aside, Hagrid’s meeting with the giants is fraught with the tension that intercedes that point between hopefulness and complete loss of it. While Hagrid and Madame Maxime were making headway with the Gurg (chief) of the giants, there was a fight amongst the tribe that culminated in the current Gurg’s death, and the usurper was more interested in the Death Eaters’ cause than Dumbledore’s.

Both the book and film end Hagrid’s tale on a note of uncertainty as to the giants’ allegiance, as usual the book takes greater strides in enriching the Wizarding world’s customs and subcultures. However, for however interesting and tense the whole story is, it’s likely that something so detailed would have slowed the pace of the film, so for that purpose the shortening of it was for the best.

Next: Number 26: Fleur Delacour

  1. Fleur Delacour

The fact that the Goblet of Fire deems Fleur Delacour worthy of competing in the Triwizard Tournament should be enough to speak of her skills, courage, and tenacity, but the films strip away much of the evidence of those qualities. Between the pages of Goblet of Fire and Half-Blood Prince, Fleur’s character is often called into question by the likes of Hermione, Ginny, and Mrs. Weasley alike, but she proves them wrong at the end of HBP, during a scene that was cut from the movie.

Despite the film’s adaptation of events, Half-Blood Prince does not, in fact, end on Dumbledore’s death and a silent wand vigil on the grounds of Hogwarts. When Draco Malfoy sneaks the Death Eaters into the castle, a full-scale battle rages between them and students, teachers, and Order members. The aftermath of the battle is moving, made more so by Fleur’s dedication to Bill, who was attacked and badly scarred by the werewolf Fenrir Greyback.

When Mrs. Weasley insinuates that Fleur won’t want to marry Bill now that he’s not the physical specimen he once was, Fleur, indignant, states, “You thought I would not weesh to marry him? Or per’aps, you hoped? What do I care how he looks? I am good-looking enough for both of us, I theenk! All these scars show is zat my husband is brave!”

Of course, in Deathly Hallows, Bill shows up with scars on his face and Fleur declares that he’ll always be beautiful to her, but the exchange isn’t nearly as emotionally resonant. Well, at least the effort’s there.

Next: Number 25: Barty Crouch, Jr.

  1. Barty Crouch, Jr.

The Goblet of Fire movie probably cut more corners than most of the films, dropping entire plotlines in order to fit the story into two and a half hours. Such changes tend to breed more, and in this case, it affected not only the plot, but a character as well.

While throughout the book the reader is led to believe that Barty Crouch, Jr. is dead and his implication in Death Eater activities may have been unintentional, the film takes the opposite approach by introducing him in the opening scene, fraternizing with Voldemort. Furthermore, when Harry finds himself in Dumbledore’s Pensieve, the book’s version of Crouch is nervous, fearful, and frantically denies the allegations placed against him, whereas the film presents him as some sort of twitchy madman.

Now, I appreciate anything David Tennant does, and he played the part that was written for him beautifully. But Rowling’s Crouch is all the more unsettling because of the façade he puts on as the innocent, the falsely accused; his guilt is questioned because of the show he puts on. Considering that the film trimmed much of the original Crouch plotline, the character himself was more malleable to fit the filmmakers’ vision, and the outright villain approach was in this case an easier bet.

Next: Number 24: The Maze

  1. The Maze

While the film’s maze is eerie in its quiet and isolation, the third task of the Triwizard Tournament had more to offer than sinister bushes that are arguably well-suited to Little Shop of Horrors. Harry encounters other, more formidable obstacles during his trek through the maze, including a boggart (masquerading as a dementor), a ten-foot-long Blast-Ended-Skrewt, distorted gravity, acromantulas, and a Sphinx whose riddle he must solve to gain safe passage by her. Compared to what we get on the page, the live-action maze feels a little underwhelming. The following scene in the graveyard is action-packed enough to excuse the lack of action in the maze, but the Triwizard’s third task is a more impressive feat when presented with the challenges Harry faces in the book.

Whether the changes to the maze were made due to plot momentum, budget, or some other unknown reason, we can’t be sure (unless someone is better at Google than I am, but I certainly couldn’t find any official comment on this). The on-screen maze has its merits, but I expected more than what was essentially just a maze sans magical obstacles. While the third and final task of the Triwizard is meant to be the most difficult, the way the movie presents things suggests that both the dragons and the underwater task are far more trying.

Next: Number 23: Harry's Cruciatus Cruse

  1. Harry’s Cruciatus Curse

When the Golden Trio returns to Hogwarts at the end of Deathly Hallows to retrieve and destroy Ravenclaw’s diadem (another of Voldemort’s Horcruxes), Harry and Luna head to Ravenclaw Tower to search for clues. Caught by the Alecto Carrow, who touches her Dark Mark to alert Voldemort and the rest of their hardcore punk band, Harry would have been caught had it not been for Luna’s sick Stunning spell. They take cover under the Invisibility Cloak when Amycus Carrow shows up, and he is soon joined by Professor McGonagall; the two argue, Amycus spits in her face, and Harry whips out from under the Cloak to doll out a little comeuppance in the form of a well-placed Cruciatus Curse. When he’s successful in Amycus’ pain and unconsciousness, Harry says, “I see what Bellatrix meant…. you need to really mean it.”

Although it’s a brief scene that needed to be worked around for the sake of plot momentum, it deserves a spot on the list because of what it says about who Harry is and how he’s grown. He couldn’t properly Crucio Bellatrix two years prior after she killed Sirius, but now he can pull it off without a hitch when some schmoe dares disrespect Momma McG. Now, this likely says more about Harry’s maturity and emotional state than anything else but, either way, we didn’t get to see it unfold anywhere but our mind’s eye.

Next: Number 22: S.P.E.W.

  1. S.P.E.W.

Since Goblet of Fire already cut much of the Crouch storyline, including Barty Crouch, Sr.’s mistreatment of Winky the house-elf, Hermione’s quest for social justice bit the big one, too. Influenced by Winky’s unceremonious sacking, Hermione is driven to instituting a campaign in the name of house-elf equality: The Society for the Promotion of Elfish Welfare, or—as it’s better known—S.P.E.W.   

In regards to this, Hermione is met with disdain and disinterest from many of her peers, including Harry and especially Ron, but Hermione’s campaign speaks to more than fair wages and freedom for house-elves. As a Muggle-born, Hermione has experienced the prejudice of the Wizarding world first-hand; at best, her magical ability is underestimated and, at worst, she faces cruel bigotry based on her blood status. She knows how intolerant the world to which she belongs can be, and she won’t stand for discrimination against any other magical beings, either, when they have every right to the same fair treatment granted to witches and wizards.  

There is frank discussion of the morality of enslaving others, and the cultural effects of doing so. It’s a powerful message that lends to the overall scope of the series, and a shame it didn’t make it past the page.

Next: Number 21: Kreacher

  1. Kreacher

The Black family house-elf is reduced to a basic nonentity in Order of the Phoenix, where he shows up once to be creepy and spit out a couple of slurs, whereas on the page he accomplishes that whilst playing a major role. As Kreacher is bound to the Blacks, his loyalty to Sirius is purely circumstantial, and the two have no qualms with their open contempt of the other. This eventually causes Kreacher to betray the Order—for whom he has no love or loyalty, circumstantial or otherwise—which sets off the events that lead to Sirius’ death.  

Both Hermione and Dumbledore express the fact that Sirius should have showed Kreacher kindness in order to establish a bond between them, a fact that later helps Harry to gain Kreacher’s loyalty in Deathly Hallows. This alliance leads to perhaps one of the greatest moments in the series, when Kreacher leads the house-elves into the Battle of Hogwarts, storming into the fray with knives and cleavers, shouting, “Fight! Fight! Fight for my Master, defender of house-elves! Fight the Dark Lord, in the name of brave Regulus! Fight!”

If there’s anyone out there who doesn’t want to see a throng of house-elves biting the legs of unsuspecting Death Eaters, well, I don’t want to meet them.

Next: Number 20: Dumbledore's Howler

  1. Dumbledore’s Howler

Following the dementor attack in Order of the Phoenix, Harry isn’t the only person at Number 4, Privet Drive to receive a few letters. One owl is addressed to Petunia, an unsigned Howler that says only, “REMEMBER MY LAST, PETUNIA.” We learn later that the message was sent by Dumbledore, who felt that Petunia needed reminding of why he had placed Harry in her care—because wherever Lily’s blood resided, the lasting effects of her sacrifice would keep Harry safe from Voldemort.  

This moment is poignant not just because of the mysterious nature of the Howler, but because of Petunia’s reaction to it. Before the Howler arrives, Harry reveals to the Dursleys that Voldemort has returned, and he thinks of his aunt, “And all of a sudden, for the very first time in his life, Harry fully appreciated that Aunt Petunia was his mother’s sister…. All he knew was that he was not the only person in the room who had an inkling of what Lord Voldemort being back might mean.”

Despite the Howler, Petunia could have turned Harry out, as Vernon demanded before the letter arrived. But even though Petunia has tried to pretend otherwise, she knows that the world in which her sister lived is real, and whatever danger is in it can creep into her own safe, normal world as well. And no matter how she has mistreated Harry in the past, she refuses to have his blood on her hands. She made a silent vow to protect her sister’s son when she took him in, and she keeps it.

The films, however, were content to keep the Dursleys background noise of no real significance, and so the Howler never came.

Next: Number 19: Sirius' Last Words

  1. Sirius’ Last Words

“Nice one, James!” Sirius congratulates Harry on the big screen, right before Bellatrix hits him with a curse and he falls into veil. And the world shook with the groans of book-readers.

There is heavy discussion in the books that revolve around whether or not Sirius knows that Harry isn’t his best friend incarnate. But the point is that, despite his slip-ups, Sirius does know that Harry isn’t James. As Dumbledore tells Harry, following Sirius’ death at the end of OOTP, “the person Sirius cared most about in the world was you.” Now, Dumbledore has his lapses in judgment, but he’s never wrong about love; the sentiments he expresses to Harry about Sirius certainly don’t sound like those of a man who would call his beloved godson by the wrong name.

No, the last thing Sirius says to Harry is the same thing Lily and James tell their son whenever they appear in the text: Run. His actual last words are to his cousin Bellatrix as they duel and he laughs at her, saying, “Come on, you can do better than that!”, which is a far more succinct summary of Sirius’ character than the filmmakers allow him.  

While it’s not the biggest change the movies made, I’m willing to definitively state that it was the most nonsensical and unnecessary.

Next: Number 18: Dudley's Goodbye

  1. Dudley’s Goodbye

Harry and Dudley’s farewell at the beginning of Deathly Hallows was, like many scenes throughout the series, filmed but ditched. In the book, as the Dursleys prepare to leave and it’s made clear that Harry won’t be joining them, Dudley struggles with some internal conflict that we don’t see. We can, however, guess the origin of it with help from JKR, who said of Dudley’s character development to this point, “I think that when Dudley was attacked by dementors, he saw himself, for the first time, as he really was. This was an extremely painful but ultimately salutary lesson, and began the transformation in him.”

Although it’s two years after the fact and the first time Dudley has mentioned it since, it’s clear that the dementor attack did have a beneficial effect on Dudley and Harry’s relationship. While the two will likely never make it past cordial acquaintances who force their children to play together, it’s a big step from when Dudley was trying to give Harry a swirly in Sorcerer’s Stone.

In this goodbye-for-now, Dudley tells Harry, “I don’t think you’re a waste of space,” and we can safely assume that Harry will refrain from calling his cousin “a pig in a wig” again. While that’s a shame because it was hilarious, it’s probably for the best.

Next: Number 17: McGonagall's Grief

  1. McGonagall’s Grief

When Hagrid carries Harry’s seemingly dead body back to the castle in Deathly Hallows, it’s not Ginny who originally shouts, “NO!” at the sight of him. The quote is verbatim, but it’s actually said by Professor McGonagall, and makes the scene all the more heart-wrenching. We expect Hermione and the Weasleys to react so emotionally, but no matter how many times you reread the books, to hear McGonagall break down like that is a huge moment, packed in just one word that the filmmakers designated to someone else.

This is such a pivotal moment for McGonagall as a character. It takes only one word for us to consider everything McGonagall has seen in her years, in two wars: She has seen so much death and destruction. It’s clear in Sorcerer’s Stone that she was devastated by the deaths of Lily and James—she saw them grow from children to soldiers, and only ever reminisces fondly of them. She watched their son grow in the same way, she saw him as not only the symbol of hope that the Wizarding world saw, but as a humble child who grew into a fiery young man who must have reminded her of Lily’s vivaciousness and James’ confidence. To see that hope shattered, to see that boy dead, broke Minerva McGonagall’s heart.

Personally, I think it was a mistake to give McGonagall’s grief to Ginny. Especially considering the fact that the filmmakers dashed Harry and Ginny’s relationship to near-nothingness (but more on that later), Ginny’s exclamation just doesn’t resonate the way McGonagall’s would have

Next: Number 16: The Weasley Twins' Escape

  1. The Weasley Twins’ Escape

It’s only natural that resident Hogwarts pranksters Fred and George Weasley would leave school in style, a feat they managed both in the book and on the screen, albeit in different ways.

The magical fireworks were not the production team’s invention, as the twins in the book do, in fact, use up their store of fireworks in the name of pulling the rug out from under Umbridge’s feet, so to speak. But unlike in the movie, the twins don’t make their exit on quite that kind of pop and sizzle. That comes later in the form of a full-scale swamp that they release through an entire corridor (a bit of which Professor Flitwick later ropes off to commemorate the twins’ skill and rebellion in the face of government upheaval).

The fireworks display was flashy and impressive—probably more visually impressive than the swamp would have proven to be—but the Weasley twins’ outspoken defyment of Dolores Umbridge really makes their exit the stuff of legends. Of course, even if the filmmakers had gone that direction, the scene still would have been missing Fred’s illustrious line, “Give her hell from us, Peeves,” as Peeves was cut from the films way back in Sorcerer’s Stone.

Next: Number 15: The Elder Wand's End

  1. The Elder Wand

The only good thing that came from this scene is that gif that cuts from Harry snapping the Elder Wand to Damian from Mean Girls gasping in horror, as if Harry just snapped the Spring Fling Queen crown. I think we all gasped and reached out in precisely the same way.

It’s not that Harry should have kept the Elder Wand—it was probably too dangerous for its own good—but there are still a couple of problems with this. The first is that Harry’s cavalier destruction of the most powerful weapon in Wizarding history prevents him from fixing his own wand. In the book, before taking any action to do away with the Elder Wand, Harry first uses it to mend his trusty eleven-inch holly with a phoenix feather core. What’s the Chosen One supposed to do now, I ask you. I know Harry can be oblivious, but this was just foolish.

Another issue here is that the Elder Wand becomes rather anticlimactic in and of itself when Harry snaps it in half as easily as if it were a twig. Wands are as easily broken as anything, but what’s all the hype about the Elder Wand about if some good Samaritan could have simply done away with it to prevent the kind of destruction it causes? What was everyone so fussed about? Just snap the thing in half and throw it somewhere.

Next: Number 14: Peter Pettigrew's Death

  1. Peter Pettigrew’s Death

What was the point of Harry saving Pettigrew’s neck in Prisoner of Azkaban if that life debt was never fulfilled? As far as movie-goers are concerned, Pettigrew may very well be scuttling around some sewer in his rat form, never to face the consequences of his terrible, awful, no-good life.

But, alas, justice is alive in the books where Pettigrew is no longer. During Harry’s escape from Malfoy Manor, Pettigrew catches and attempts to stop him via some good ol’ fashioned strangulation. He is, however, thwarted by his own magical hand, which turns on him and strangles him to death when he’s reminded of the life debt he owes Harry. Although Harry doesn’t intend for his reminder to end Pettigrew’s life, that it does, and none of us can say that Pettigrew didn’t reap the consequences of a life ill-lived.

In terms of Harry’s personal experience, Pettigrew’s death really ties the first and second wars together. The man largely responsible for Lily and James’ death, who was shown mercy by their son, this man who betrayed the Potters time and time again, was betrayed by that long history of falsehoods and treachery when his own hand turned on him.

You got yours, Wormtail. It’s a shame we didn’t get to see it.

Next: Number 13: Tonks and Lupin

  1. Tonks and Lupin

Honestly, what was it with the movies cutting out all the good romance? Everywhere I turn I’m inundated with Snape’s “Always,” but awesomesauce Tonks’ heated declaration of love for crushable former professor Lupin is chucked in the bin before it can hit the screen? Intolerable.

Immediately after Fleur’s own heated declaration that she loves Bill regardless of his scars in HBP, the reader learns that Tonks has been trying to tell the same thing to Lupin, who’s been too self-deprecating to accept that someone as bombdiggity as Tonks is in love with him. It’s a gorgeous little subplot about how love means not holding someone’s uncontrollable flaws against them, even if all they can do is stew in self-loathing. Remus Lupin has had a doozy of a downward spiral since the First Wizarding War, and Tonks is able to put a little sunshine back into it when they fall in love. Why cut that out of the big screen?

Mayhaps the filmmakers decided there wasn’t time enough to explore one of the finest ships of the series but, man, sometimes you just have to make it work. If you’re not giving Natalia Tena the opportunity for a couple impassioned speeches here and there, honestly, I don’t know what you’re doing.

Next: Number 12: Voldemort's Death

  1. Voldemort’s Death

I know I’m not alone in my disappointment that Harry and Voldemort’s final face-off wasn’t witnessed by the hundreds of onlookers who stood by in the book. The two circle each other like jungle cats while Harry calls Voldemort out on his shenanigans, finally monologuing Voldemort’s ear off as Voldemort has done to him so many times before, and there’s an audience. Harry and Voldemort have always had a flair for the dramatic, so it’s fitting that their last stand would follow suit.

Aside from the build-up to Voldemort’s death is the death itself. On the page, Voldemort falls just like any other person would, and is therefore reduced to the human that he was so afraid of being. It just goes to show that we’re all the same in death, no matter how hard you’ve tried to fight it. Voldemort has spent his entire existence assuming superiority over other humans while he strove to separate himself from them but, in the end, he’s nothing more or less than anyone else. It’s harrowing.

The movie took this message and completely did away with it. And to be honest, the way Voldemort’s body rips apart and floats into space, I’d be a little concerned if I were Harry. Where are those shreds floating off to? Do they have the ability to reconstruct? What is going on? After the things Harry’s seen, you’d think he’d be a little uneasy about the way Voldemort went down. I’m not trying to start any new literary conspiracy theories here—obviously Voldemort’s a goner—but his movie death was unsettling in a bad way. It would have been far more satisfying to see him drop like a hot potato.   

Next: Number 11: Percy's Falling-Out

  1. Percy’s Falling-Out

Percy’s ambition is perhaps his most prominent quality, and it causes him to lose sight of what’s important during the Second Wizarding War. When, following Voldemort’s return, Percy is dubbed Junior Assistant to the Minister of Magic, Arthur is convinced that the promotion is Cornelius Fudge’s way of keeping watch over the Weasleys and, by extension, Dumbledore. Percy remains loyal to the Ministry and severs ties with his family until Deathly Hallows, when he sees the error of his ways and reconciles with the Weasleys during the Battle of Hogwarts.

The only suggestion of Percy’s estrangement in the Order of the Phoenix film is when Harry is brought in for questioning regarding Dumbledore’s Army. A brief glance is shared between Harry and Percy, and no more is said about it. I’ve tried to watch that scene through the lens of someone who’d never read the books, and it’s nothing short of completely baffling. A simple line of dialogue uttered by any of the Weasleys prior to this scene would have been enough to explain Percy’s allegiance.

As usual, I think the lack of explanation here was a mistake. Percy’s estrangement from his family emphasizes the casualties of war, and how damaging government ineptitude can be on a personal level. Percy was often on the outs with his more wild and mischievous siblings, and his reunion with them in DH bridges that gap that existed between them for so long (with the added bonus of making Fred’s death more tragic than it already is).

Next: Number 10: The Quibbler

  1. The Quibbler

One of Harry’s many challenges in Order of the Phoenix is the efforts put forth by the Ministry and the Daily Prophet to discredit him as the Wizarding world’s hero, and instead paint him as a lying attention-seeker trying desperately to hold onto fame. Much of Harry’s frustration is rooted in his inability to talk back, to make people listen to his side of the story instead of being force-fed the one conjured by the Ministry. In the book, Harry gets his chance.

Hermione enlists the help of Luna Lovegood (whose father runs the tabloid The Quibbler) and Rita Skeeter (who Hermione is blackmailing with the knowledge that Skeeter is an unregistered Animagus). Skeeter plays the established journalist with the exclusive scoop on Harry’s side of the story—what really happened the night he emerged from the third task of the Triwizard with Cedric Diggory’s dead body, a story that the general public hasn’t been privy to until now.

What’s so great about this plot point is that it’s the first time in the book that Harry’s really taking charge of what’s happened to him. He’s not just mouthing off to Umbridge or fighting with his classmates—he’s taking the reins of the mess of his life, and he’s driving it into the light. He won’t be the Ministry’s fall guy anymore; he’s making people listen, and from there he’s not as isolated as he was before. He continues to face defacement and disbelief, but his support system grows, and the revolution with it.  

Next: Number 9: Harry and Ginny

  1. Harry and Ginny

What was going on in Half-Blood Prince? I need to know. Because the Ginny we know and love would certainly not tie Harry Potter’s shoes for him—he’s the Boy Who Lived, for cripes sakes, I think he can handle his own shoelaces—nor would she feed him cakes. She’d sooner shove that cake in his face and laugh about it. Anything else is just embarrassing.

Their first kiss only furthered the disappointment, as it lasted half a second and occurred in the privacy of the Room of Requirement. Meanwhile, the vastly superior book kiss had an audience and a much more satisfying reaction. Harry and Ginny also have a whole, real relationship on the page that didn’t make it to the big screen, and as such the film’s relationship fell flat. 

The book even treats us to Harry going all Spider-Man on Ginny when he breaks up with her to keep her safe, which makes their eventual marriage all the sweeter because, by then, there’s nothing stopping them from being together. As far as the movies go, I wouldn’t have been surprised if they hadn’t gotten together at all, based on the sheer awkwardness that hung over every one of their scenes.

Why the change? Search me. At this point I’ve run out of suitable speculation.

Next: Number 8: The Potter Memorial

  1. The Potter Memorial

I’m sorry (no I’m not), but can we please give Lily and James Potter the accolades they deserve? Why did the movies have to be such a Snape fest? Harry names one of his kids after the guy, but the filmmakers couldn’t be bothered to show off how important Lily, James, and Harry are to the world?

When Harry and Hermione visit Godric’s Hollow in the book, it’s revealed that not only is the Potters’ cottage still standing (enchanted so as to remain unseen by Muggles), but there are messages of love, respect, and support scrawled on the plaque erected there. More than that, the statue in the village square is enchanted as well, to appear to wizards as a monument to Lily, James, and Harry—a sculpture in the family’s likeness, to commemorate Lily and James’ sacrifice and the hope that Harry symbolizes. 

While we hear quite a bit about Lily and James from the likes of Dumbledore, McGonagall, Sirius, and Lupin, this is the first time that we’re made aware of the huge impact that not only their son, but they themselves made on the Wizarding world. They died in the name of a necessary revolution, and this memorial goes to show that they’re loved, thanked, and remembered for it.

Lily and James put their lives on the line for their son and their world—they’re war heroes, simply put—but the films often shunt them to the side as if they don’t matter quite that much. It’s disconcerting, that’s all I’m saying; the least they deserve is their Godric’s Hollow memorial.

Next: Number 7: The Marauders

  1. The Marauders

Since my indignant rage has been simmering since Prisoner of Azkaban was released in theaters, I’m probably beating a dead horse here, but this grudge of mine will simply not be deterred and I encourage you to beat the horse with me.

The films practically insist upon making James Potter a nonentity and, in this case, that decision affects other characters as well. The big reveal that Moony, Wormtail, Padfoot, and Prongs are super secret code names for Remus Lupin, Peter Pettigrew, Sirius Black, and James Potter is never revealed at all on-screen. It’s so irksome because Harry should know about his parents’ past beyond the fact that they died for him—they weren’t just martyrs, they were people, and the identity of the Marauders was the first step in Harry discovering that.

The Marauder’s Map crops up throughout the films, and yet movie-goers are never let in on the secret. Lupin or Sirius could have easily told Harry more than once, but the opportunity was simply never seized. A few lines of dialogue would have put the mystery to rest—a few lines of dialogue and I would have shut up about this for good but, alas, here we are.  I like to imagine that in a case such as this, the Marauder’s Map could insult the filmmakers as thoroughly as it insulted Snape. 

Next: Number 6: The Life and Lies of Albus Dumbledore

  1. The Life and Lies of Albus Dumbledore

While Rita Skeeter’s unauthorized, tell-all biography made it into the film, the story behind it did not. Understandable, since the details are rather long-winded, and Dumbledore reveals all while Harry is caught in his King’s Cross limbo. To stop the film in the middle of the action of the Battle of Hogwarts is tricky enough; the filmmakers likely didn’t want to stop the momentum long enough for Dumbledore to share the intricacies of his roots with Harry and the audience.

The details of Dumbledore’s story aren’t as important as what they mean to the overall story. We learn that his family suffered through much tragedy and loss, and all the while Dumbledore was not the noble young man that he is so oft purported to be. His relationship with Grindelwald—the Dark wizard who reigned before Voldemort’s time—is evidence enough of this, as the pair spearheaded a lot of anti-Muggle sentiment.

Harry’s burgeoning knowledge of who Dumbledore was and truly is is significant in the way it disillusions Harry and humanizes Dumbledore. For seven books, we accept Dumbledore as kind, noble, and virtually above human failings; he became a hero to many of us in the same way he became a hero to Harry. But no one—not even our heroes—is exempt from mistakes, failings in judgment, and once being less of a person than they become. We are all slaves to the human condition, and our failures in our character are as much a part of that as our successes. Harry learns that there is no pure good vs. pure evil—the world is gray, no matter where you turn, and it’s this fact that helps him to fulfill the prophecy that brought him this far

Next: Number 5: Sass Master Harry Potter

  1. Sass Master Harry Potter

This one lands such a high spot on our list because Harry’s humor positively abounds in the books. Daniel Radcliffe gets a few shots in at Harry’s sarcasm, but the books are overflowing with sass, courtesy of the Boy Who Lived, the Chosen One, Harry James Potter. Some of my personal favorites are found in Order of the Phoenix and Half-Blood Prince, as follows:

"Uncle Vernon/Aunt Petunia: “Listening to the news! Again?”Harry: “Well, it changes every day, you see.”Ron: “I had a dream about Quidditch last night. What do you think that means?”Harry: “I dunno. Probably means you’re going to be eaten by a giant marshmallow or something.” Malfoy: “You’re dead, Potter.”Harry: “Funny, you’d think I’d have stopped walking around.”Snape: “Do you remember me telling you we are practicing nonverbal spells, Potter?”Harry: “Yes.”Snape: “Yes, sir.”Harry: “There’s no need to call me ‘sir,’ Professor.”"

Remember in the Goblet of Fire movie, when Harry calls Malfoy and his father cruel and pathetic? I mean, that was okay, but it pales in comparison to such glorious wordplay as listed above. It brings so much humor to a series that, let’s face it, has been pretty dark throughout (yes, that includes the whimsy of Sorcerer’s Stone, which, as we know, opens on a double homicide). The Harry who spits his words like a dragon spits fire is absolutely the kind of guy you want defending the world against evil. After all, what good are spectacular heroics if you don’t have a sense of humor?

Next: Number 4: Tom Riddle

  1. Tom Riddle

While the Half-Blood Prince movie treats us to memories of an eleven-year-old Tom and the teenager who was interested in Horcruxes, Tom Riddle’s journey to collecting objects to create those Horcruxes was missing. Meanwhile, the book takes us on a ride into twenty-something Tom Riddle’s life, where he scours Britain for objects as important as he believes himself to be, as he fancies such objects to be the only ones worthy of crafting into vessels for his shattered soul.

He manages to procure Hufflepuff’s cup, Slytherin’s locket, and Ravenclaw’s diadem, all of which are sought-after historical artifacts. He kills what’s left of his family—Gaunts and Riddles alike—and gets away with a family heirloom as well, in the form of the Peverell ring. From the ages of 16-20, Riddle murders an estimated eight people in his quest for immortality. Not a bad track record to set the foundation for Voldemort’s origin story. The films manage to cut out a fair amount of details regarding this story and I have to agree that, for brevity’s sake, the films were better off presenting Voldemort as the undisputed baddie, no explanation necessary.

While it’s not the worst thing the movies had to do, it’s notable because Voldemort’s history and Harry’s efforts to defeat him are somewhat cyclical—Voldemort creates his Horcruxes to raise himself up, and Harry destroys them to cut him down. Including Tom Riddle’s backstory certainly would have enriched that particular theme.

Next: Number 3: The Flight of the Prince

  1. “The Flight of the Prince”

As mentioned earlier in the post, a full-scale battle rages in Hogwarts following Dumbledore’s death in Half-Blood Prince that didn’t so much as make it into the script. Since Deathly Hallows would feature the historic Battle of Hogwarts, the HBP scene was passed over to avoid repetition, and was instead replaced with a scene in which the Burrow is destroyed.

While there is a method to that madness, this point makes it so high on our list because of the sheer magnitude of the scene and the events that it sets off. It’s the first time many of the students at Hogwarts face battle against outside forces, but more than that it serves as a rallying point for relationships between other characters: Snape’s allegiance is revealed (although we would later find out otherwise); Fleur is redeemed in the eyes of Mrs. Weasley, establishing a familial bond between the two; and Tonks and Lupin come together when they otherwise may not have.

There was a lot to sift through during and after this battle, and personally I think it would have been worth exploring beyond the book. Harry Potter is rife with conflict and duels, and I don’t think that one more battle would have felt redundant. It certainly didn’t feel that way in the books, anyway.

Next: Number 2: Neville Longbottom, the Boy Who Lived

  1. Neville Longbottom, the Boy Who Lived

Harry’s fate was not—as we often think fate to be—signed and sealed before he could so much as take his first breath. We learn at the end of Order of the Phoenix that Sybill Trelawney’s prophecy regarding “the one with the power to vanquish the Dark Lord” did not specify Harry only, but could have meant either him or Neville Longbottom.

In fact, Voldemort gave Harry the power to defeat him by choosing him as his foe (a choice he made due to the fact that, like him, Harry is a half-blood, while Neville is pureblood); had Voldemort chosen differently, Neville may have been the one fulfilling this mega destiny. But one of the really spectacular things about Neville is that he doesn’t have that destiny, and yet he ends up fulfilling one, anyway.

He follows Harry’s example and takes charge in the latter’s absence in Deathly Hallows. Neville becomes a symbol of hope for the revolution within Hogwarts while Harry remains that hope for the revolution outside the castle walls. Although it was never discussed or planned as such—and fate never is—Neville and Harry work together to pull the Wizarding world up and out of darkness.

Yes, Neville still accomplishes these ends in the movies, but the fact that it could have been him all along puts a major spring in that plot bunny’s step. It’s a tidbit that would have been worth some on-screen exposure but, hey, at least we still get to see Neville wreak a little heroic havoc on Nagini’s head.

Next: Number 1: Snape's Worst Memory

  1. “Snape’s Worst Memory”

Considering Snape’s importance to the series, I continue to be completely floored as to why the filmmakers would cut so much out of this blast from the past. The films seem to miss the point of why, exactly, this memory is Snape’s worst. It has nothing to do with bullying or public humiliation—indeed, it’s clear from other anecdotes that James and Snape were often at it in this regard. Rather, “Snape’s Worst Memory” is called as such because it’s the memory in which Snape loses his best friend and the girl he purportedly loves by calling her a “Mudblood,” thereby encompassing their inherent differences in both blood and worldview. It’s the day that Snape unequivocally lost any chance he might have had, and spiraled his life further into the Dark Arts. (It was probably a sore spot also because he had to watch James hit on Lily, but that’s pure conjecture on my part.)

While it’s unlikely that the filmmakers knew at the time that Snape had it bad for Lily, as we didn’t know that for sure until the release of Deathly Hallows, but the scene could have been extended and included when Harry looks at Snape’s memories in DH. It is, after all, important to note that an actress was cast to play Lily Evans and that her scenes were indeed shot and later cut.

So my question to Warner Bros. is… Give up the goods. Okay, so that’s not a question. But I think the audience deserves it, and Lily Evans certainly deserves better than the films give her. Even if they wouldn’t do it for Lily, the scene is the foundation for Snape’s character development, and yet the film’s version falls flatter than anything else they bungled up.

I’m out of carrots and I’m out of sticks; I don’t know what the production team was thinking. All I know is, I hope I’m still alive and kickin’ if the franchise ever gets the TV show it clearly needs to properly dig into the plot…. Or, you know, a Marauders prequel wouldn’t hurt, either (nudge, nudge, JKR).

Next: Every Harry Potter Book, Ranked

All art belongs to writer of the post, Katie Majka.