Just like Hermione Granger, Potterheads never give up on a mystery. The very nature of the series has always invited fan theories (like the one suggesting PMS is the real reason Moaning Myrtle is always moaning), thanks to dense plots filled with red herrings and a cohesive mythology.
And as more and more time lapsed between book releases — there were 1,078 days between the publication of Goblet of Fire and Order of the Phoenix — fans had ample time to reread and analyze their favorite plot lines. Many of these theories were born in the early days of social media, when websites like The Leaky Cauldron and Mugglenet were the only places Potter brainiacs could go to spill their suspicions. It wasn’t until 2009, about two years after Deathly Hallows was released, that fans got a break. Author J.K. Rowling joined Twitter and actively started answering — and dismissing — fan theories and questions. And with Pottermore’s launch in 2012, fans are now continually rewarded with a slow trickle of new information.
- Climate-Conscious Architects Want Europe To Build Less
- The Red-State Governor Who's Not Afraid to Be 'Woke'
- Jonathan Van Ness: We Are Still Not Taking Monkeypox Seriously Enough
- The Not-So-Romantic Return of Europe's Sleeper Trains
- This Filmmaker Set Out To Record Her Family’s Journey Rebuilding Afghanistan. Her Work Is a Reminder of What’s at Stake
- Why Sunscreen Ingredients Need More Safety Data
- What Historians Think of the Joe Biden-Jimmy Carter Comparisons
- Author Mimi Zhu Is Relearning What It Means to Love After Trauma
"All Was Not Well" (aka Harry hallucinated everything)
Some conspiracy theorists have posited that Harry, who is deprived food by his aunt and uncle in the first book, hallucinated the entire story as he was starving in the cupboard under the stairs. This might seem like the Dementor of all theories — because it sucks all light and happiness out of the series — but J.K. Rowling addressed these ideas herself in a 2012 video that accompanied a box set of the movies. Steve Kloves, a screenwriter for the film series, said he invented a spider who Harry would talk to in the cupboard. “The point was that he seemed slightly mad…so when Hagrid appeared, you thought he was out of his imagination for a minute,” Kloves says on the video. “I think that’s a fabulous point and that speaks so perfectly to the books,” Rowling responds. “Because I’ve heard it suggested to me more than once, that Harry actually did go mad in the cupboard and that everything that happened subsequently was some sort of fantasy life he developed to save himself.”
She says suggested, at least, not acknowledging that it is, in fact, true.
Ron Is a Time Traveler (aka Ron is Dumbledore)
In 2004, while many were still rereading Order of the Phoenix and eagerly awaiting the Prisoner of Azkaban movie, someone on a Harry Potter forum was blogging about the fact that Ron was really a time-traveling version of Dumbledore, or vice versa. This can get confusing, so get your quills ready.
Draco Malfoy Is a Werewolf (And not a Death Eater)
There is actually a website dedicated to this theory. Dracamalfoyisawerewolf.com. So there’s that.
The evidence the theorists have stem from Malfoy’s character development in the later books. “Between the fifth and sixth books, directly after Lucius Malfoy has failed to retrieve the prophecy, Voldemort allows Fenrir Greyback to bite his son, Draco.” They also point out that he’s not a Death Eater, which we already knew. And “Voldemort says, “Maybe you can babysit the cubs,” to Draco when the Death Eaters find out that Remus and Tonks are having a baby. This is a throwaway if he is not a werewolf,” write Brittany and Nick, who signed the website with a disclaimer that they “feel pretty strongly about this theory.”
Brittany and Nick do provide other evidence, like that Malfoy and Snape are close because Malfoy is getting Wolfsbane potion from Snape and that, maybe, Rowling will reveal this on Pottermore.
Rowling has already touched on Malfoy on Pottermore, and it’d be surprising if this was true considering Lupin and Bill’s identities were never hidden, but with her imagination, anything’s possible.
J.K. Rowling Is Rita Skeeter (aka the author straightens her hair a lot)
Here’s a series of leading questions about everyone’s favorite unregistered Animagus:
What if Rita Skeeter fled the wizarding world after the Battle of Hogwarts? What if she was exiled for being such a horrible journalist? And what if she just decided to write under a pseudonym (like someone else we know)? What if her topic of choice was the very wizarding world that rejected her? And what if she wrote a seven-part series about a boy wizard that concludes with the very battle she left after? Some people very much believe this could be possible.
Crookshanks is Lily Potter (aka Hermione’s cat is Harry’s mom)
A lovely Tumblr post wrapped up a handful of speculation on this theory, which posits that Crookshanks is actually Lily Potter reincarnated. Evidenced by: “The red hair, the green eye’s i mean coincidence?” and that “Crookshanks was always trying to get Scabbers” (née Peter Pettigrew).
There’s even Crookshanks as Lily fan fiction called “The Mother Who Lived.”
Harry and Hermione Are Siblings (aka that one Horcrux scene just got weirder)
In 2005, an intrepid reader hit up a Harry Potter forum to display a radical theory: Hermione is the hidden, secret daughter of James and Lily. Here’s the evidence:
- “Hermione’s overall behavior with Harry…sometimes, they also finish each other’s sentences (not unlike Fred and George.)”
- “When she read Rita Skeeter’s article “Harry Potter’s Secret Heartache,” she was rather amused.”
- “Hermione really knew a bit too much about the wizarding world – and particularly about Harry Potter — when she first arrived at Hogwarts.”
Dumbledore Is Actually Death (aka “Of course it is happening inside your head, Harry, but why on earth should that mean that it is not real?”)
This theory caused an uproar recently, when a 2014 Tumblr post about The Tale of the Three Brothers made the rounds. The wizard fairy tale follows the Peverell Brothers as they receive rewards for cheating Death: the unbeatable Elder Wand; the Resurrection Stone that brings people back from the dead; and the Invisibility Cloak, which conceals its user. These three items are often referred to as The Deathly Hallows, hence the name of the final book.
The theory says that Voldemort is the oldest brother, murdered in his bed by someone who sought the Elder Wand. Snape is seen as the middle brother, who was driven to suicide after resurrecting the girl “he had once hoped to marry, before her untimely Death.” Harry would be the youngest brother, who escapes Death with the cloak until giving it to his son, greeting “Death as an old friend” and going with him gladly. The Tumblr user, though, posits that Dumbledore is Death. “He greeted Harry at King’s Cross and was the one behind Snape and Voldemort’s death….He’s the one who gave Harry the invisibility cloak too…And he had the stone and the wand too.”