Since the release of Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone — the first book in the series — in 1997, not only did its author JK Rowling establish herself as the master of the wizarding world but also created a magical universe for Potterheads through the books, which were later adapted into films. However, while portraying the stories on the screen, Harry Potter movies have often broken the rules that are established initially.
The wizarding world of Harry Potter and the Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry embodies fascinating tales that are linked with various characters and events spanning the franchise. Everything in the Potterverse happens for a reason.
Many instances in films have got Potterheads talking about the change in the narrative of a particular event which all fans may not have noticed. For example, Harry in the beginning is told about not performing magic outside of Hogwarts but instances like Dobby using magic to drop a cake on Dursleys raise questions about this rule. Similar to this, Harry Potter movies have broken some other rules as well and we are here to point them out.
Here are some rules that were flouted in Harry Potter movies
Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire (book published in 2000) introduced us to portkey and the various rules of using this magical teleportation device. For muggles unfamiliar with its complexities, portkeys can be of two types — one that takes the witch or wizard to a predetermined location at a particular time like the one used by wizards to reach the Quidditch World Cup in 1994. The other type takes the person to any location instantly just by being touched, like the Triwizard Cup, which Barty Crouch jr (David Tennant) turns into a portkey and takes Harry (Daniel Radcliffe) and Cedric Diggory (Robert Pattinson) to Little Hangleton (as shown in the film).
Technically, it becomes non-magical after some time so that muggles are not affected. However, such nuanced details were overlooked in the film (2005). For instance, when the Quidditch tournament is attacked, all flee towards Arthur Weasley for the portkey, which instantly transports them, but the device cannot have both features at the same time. In another instance, the Triwizard Cup is used by Harry to return to Hogwarts, but it should’ve become non-magical as per the rules.
The underage magic anomaly
The wizarding world has some very strict laws related to underage magic and performing magic outside school. The Decree for the Reasonable Restriction of Underage Sorcery banned using spells and charms outside Hogwarts by anyone below 17 years, apart from educational purposes, in 1875. The Improper Use of Magic Office oversees the enforcement of this rule via the Trace charm. But it is only limited to where the magic was performed and not who did it.
Underage wizards, who are unaware or unable to control their abilities are exempted. And so, when Harry, unknowingly, speaks in Parseltongue to a boa constrictor in the zoo in Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone (2001) or accidentally removes the snake’s glass enclosure, he is not slammed with cases.
Also, when Dobby (voiced by Toby Jones) uses a hover charm and drops a dessert at the Dursleys in front of Harry, the wizard immediately receives a warning letter reprimanding him for using underage magic in Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets (2002). He is also rebuked by Ministry officials after using the Patronus charm in Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix (2007).
However, this doesn’t happen when Harry uses the illuminating charm at the Dursleys, before the wizard’s third year at school in Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban (2004). Though one possible explanation can be that it was for homework. Similarly, in Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, when Nymphadora Tonks (Natalia Tena) casts the Scourgify and Locomotor Trunk spells in Privet Drive, Harry faces no consequence.
Turning the time upside down
Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban is one movie that has numerous rule-breaking instances. The time turner that Professor McGonagall (Maggie Smith) gives Hermione Granger (Emma Watson) has its own set of rules, breaking which results in many inconsistencies and raises eyebrows in the Potterverse.
The book mentions that once used, the time turner takes the users to the location they travelled back in time, which means their location changes to the place they travel back to. However, in the screen adaptation, Harry and Hermione remain at the place they started using the time turner.
Rowling identified this rule break and omitted the use of the time turner completely in Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix.
The polyjuice effect
Another time Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets breaks the rules is with regard to the polyjuice potion.
The book states that when Potter and Ron Weasely (Rupert Grint) drink the polyjuice potion to turn into Crabbe (Jamie Waylett) and Goyle (Josh Herdman), Harry realises that, “his glasses were clouding his eyes because Goyle obviously didn’t need them — he took them off and called, ‘Are you two okay?’ Goyle’s low rasp of a voice issued from his mouth.” This implies that the potion changes both voice and vision clarity, along with physical features.
But what plays out in the movie is quite different. When Harry (transformed into Goyle) keeps his glasses on before it is pointed out by Draco (Tom Felton), it implies that he doesn’t get Goyle’s vision. Discrepancies continue in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows – Part 1 (2010), when Hermione drinks the concoction to turn into Harry but complains of his terrible vision.
Also, Harry and Ron retain their own voices in the 2002 film after transforming, just like all the characters who become Harry keep their own voices in the 2010 film.
The Quidditch glitch
This is a classic instance in which a Harry Potter movie breaks its own rules. In the first film, Gryffindor Quidditch captain Oliver Wood (Sean Biggerstaff) explains the rules of the game to Harry, wherein he says that if the seeker of a team catches the swiftly flying golden snitch, the team wins.
But the books lay out a different set of rules. Catching the snitch ends the game and earns the team an additional 150 points, which ‘almost always wins’. However, that is not applicable every time. For instance, if the team is already down by over 150 points, then it doesn’t win, and catching the snitch makes it lose the game.
Professor McGonagall’s timeline
The events of Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald (2018) take place in 1927, years before the events at Hogwarts.
However, an iconic character like Professor McGonagall pops up for a cameo and is also hinted at for a bigger role in the later films. Interestingly, Professor McGonagall was born in 1935, so how can she appear, seemingly in her twenties, teaching along with Dumbledore at Hogwarts? A curious case of a rule-breaking time traveller!
Witnessing death to see the thestrals
Thestrals are rare mythical characters, considered to be harbingers of omen and bad luck by many in the wizarding world. They are deemed dangerous by the British Ministry of Magic and can only be seen by those who have witnessed death.
In Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix when Luna Lovegood (Evanna Lynch) and Harry are able to see these creatures and Hermione and Ron aren’t, Luna explains the reason. Luna had seen her mother’s death at the age of 9, and Harry witnessed Cedric’s death at the end of his fourth year; so that makes sense.
However, the inconsistencies come in when we realise that before the events of Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, he is unable to see the thestrals, despite having witnessed his mother’s death. It can be assumed that he did not comprehend the disaster being an infant, but that wasn’t the case when he saw Professor Quirrell (Ian Hart) die in Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone.
Surviving the dementor’s kiss
As per the books, a dementor’s kiss is worse than death. So, it is only used against crimes of the highest order like escaping the prison of Azkaban. Also, Barty Crouch Jr gets it after the harrowing events in Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire. However, the death eaters, who escaped the prison along with Bellatrix Lestrange (Helena Bonham Carter) in the mass breakout of 1966, are left unscathed.
Another instance where the movie broke its own rules was in Harry Potter and The Prisoner of Azkaban (2004), when Hogwarts grounds were patrolled by dementors after Sirius Black escaped the prison. He received the dementor’s kiss but was rescued after Harry’s future self cast the Patronus charm. But Harry is left rather unharmed after surviving two partial kisses by dementors.
(Main image: Courtesy Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix/ IMDb; feature image: Courtesy Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone/ IMDb)
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