biggest plotholes in the harry potter universe

Biggest Plotholes in the Harry Potter Universe

Latest posts by Melika Jeddi (see all)

To say that Harry Potter is popular would be an understatement. It’s the best-selling book series of all time, with hundreds of millions of fans worldwide. One reason that people keep returning to the magic is the vast and detailed world that the series is set in. However, with all that detail comes a whole lot of potential for mistakes. And believe me, they are rampant.

That’s not to say the series is any less enjoyable because of it, far from it. I actually take a lot of joy in discovering new plotholes or reading about ones that other fans have discovered. It’s exciting and gives me something to look out for during a rewatch. Some plotholes are big, and others are minute details. But there are loads once you start noticing them.

I couldn’t give you a finite number of plotholes as it depends on your definition, and new ones are being found all the time. But in this list, I’ve compiled some of my favorites. I’ve included some very well-known ones amongst the community, but I’ve also put in several that I spotted myself. I wanted to give it the personal touch! Let’s get into it…

The Rules Of Food Magic

The Rules Of Food Magic

Food cannot be created out of thin air, but it can be multiplied, which the characters seem to forget. Also, animals can be created, which could then theoretically be killed and eaten.

Despite building a pretty full world of lore, Rowling was surprisingly vague when it came to the laws of magic. There are a lot of things left unsaid, and the laws about what could and could not be done magically seemed to change as and when the plot demanded it.

One example is when she established Gamp’s Law of Elemental Transfiguration. The whole thing makes absolutely no sense. It essentially states the boundaries of magical capabilities, and it claims that food cannot be created out of nothing, including transfiguring it from another object. However, things like water, wine, and sauces can be conjured.

The most ridiculous part of this is that whilst food supposedly can’t be created out of nothing, witches and wizards can conjure and transfigure animals. Rowling expects us to just accept that food is off-limits, but they can create sentient life? Also, what if someone were to conjure up a chicken, then kill it and cook it? Would that be edible?

Food can also be multiplied once it already exists, which begs the question as to why the trio were struggling to eat in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows. Surely they could’ve just kept increasing the meals they had at the start? They were all older than 17, so they didn’t need to worry about the Trace detecting them.

Overall, the whole exception surrounding food just seems very convoluted and inconsistent. I don’t think Rowling thought this one through properly.

The Trace Requires a Lot of Suspension of Disbelief

Trace Harry Potter

The fact that it disappears exactly at age 17 seems arbitrary and unlikely.

Speaking of the Trace, it makes next to no sense. If you need a reminder, the Trace is a spell that detects when magic is used in the vicinity of a witch or wizard under the age of 17. I’m sorry, but what? How is this information collated? It’s never stated in either the books or the movies how the Ministry of Magic actually gets this information.

A possible suggestion is that magical parents would be expected to bring their children to have the spell put on them. However, this has issues.

We can safely assume that squibs are unaffected by the Trace, seeing as they can’t perform magic themselves. Also, in the case of muggle-borns, they’ll have had no interaction with magical institutions prior to attending Hogwarts.

I also struggle to fathom how age plays into it. How does this spell magically tell the moment that a magical child turns 17? Why 17 specifically? Does it go based on the moment it hits midnight on their 17th birthday, or is it based on the exact moment in time that they were born? There are so many questions.

Most magical children live in magical houses, meaning that magic will be happening around them constantly. I feel like this renders the Trace pretty much pointless. The lore states that it’s the responsibility of the parents to make sure their kids don’t use magic, but then why bother using the Trace anyway?

I also don’t understand how this information would be recorded. Does the Ministry just have a list of every spell used around an under-17-year-old, and they cross-check it with any adult wizards living nearby? And I’m interested in literally how they record this.

Like, what does it physically look like? Does the spell result in quills automating themselves across parchment to write down the details? Are there employees in the Ministry whose job is to look at all this information?

Honestly, there are so many cases where the Trace seemingly doesn’t even work as intended, such as when Morfin Gaunt is blamed for a murder that Tom Riddle commits, but I’m not even going to get into that. Even aside from the inconsistent applications of it, the entire premise of the Trace just doesn’t make any sense.

Why Couldn’t Harry See Thestrals Sooner?

He witnessed several deaths prior to finally being able to see Thestrals in the 5th book/ movie.

For those of you unaware, Thestrals are magical beasts that can only be seen by those who have seen death. They’re like skeletal horses, and they’re what Hogwarts uses to pull the carriages that take the students to the castle. Most students can’t see them, so for most of the series, Harry (like everyone else) is under the impression that the carriages pull themselves.

However, in Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, Harry witnesses Cedric Diggory die at the end of the Triwizard Tournament. Despite this, he’s still not able to see the Thestrals at the end of the year.

It’s not until Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix that he starts seeing them, which he worries is an indication that he’s going mad since nobody else can see them. Rowling has claimed this delay is because it took a few months for Diggory’s death to really sink in, but that feels like a cop-out.

Now, as fans all know, Harry witnessed Voldemort murdering Lily when he was just a baby. Some have argued that this should’ve meant that Harry would have seen the Thestrals from the beginning. However, Rowling said that to see Thestrals, you need to not only see death but understand what death means. Fair enough, I can accept that. But what I can’t accept is this…

Why was Harry not able to see Thestrals from Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets onwards? At the end of Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone, Harry kills Professor Quirrell in quite a gruesome way. Quirrell literally turns to dust at Harry’s touch because of the powerful love magic that protects Harry.

This event certainly would’ve stuck in his mind, and he witnessed the entire death, so there’s no reason that the Thestrals should have remained invisible.

Rowling can’t even use the excuse that Harry was too young to fully understand it. He was 11 by this point, whereas it’s established that Luna Lovegood can see Thestrals after having witnessed her mother dying when she was 9. The whole lore surrounding Thestrals feels like something that Rowling made up after the fact.

Mr. Weasley Would be Terrible at His Job

Mr. Weasley Would be Terrible at His Job

Despite years of experience in the Misuse of Muggle Artefacts Office, Arthur Weasley has almost no understanding of muggle life.

Okay, so it’s well-established that Mr. Weasley loves muggles and can’t get enough of learning about their lives. Well then, riddle-me-this, why is his knowledge so ridiculously limited? In Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, after being told that the Dursleys have an electric fire, his response is “Eclectic, you say”. How on Earth would he not know the word ‘electric’ if he studies muggles?

This is a man who literally works in the Misuse of Muggle Artefacts department but apparently doesn’t understand something as necessary to muggle life as electricity. How can he figure out if something is being misused if he doesn’t even know its intended use?

And get this, not only does he work in that department, but he’s literally the head of it! We’re expected to believe that the Ministry of Magic would hire someone for that role who knows so little about muggles?

If he’s been learning about them all these years and still doesn’t understand basic concepts, then it’s clearly an issue with his own abilities. It doesn’t take that long for muggle-borns to learn about magic.

Speaking of which, why would the Ministry not hire a muggle-born as the head of the Misuse of Muggle Artefacts department? They’d clearly be much more suited to the role. I understand that it may not be a particularly desirable position, but you’re telling me there was literally nobody better than Mr Weasley?

Perhaps we’re meant to believe that the Ministry doesn’t care that much about the department as it’s not fun and magical. But that seems like a stretch of the imagination given how seriously they take the importance of hiding magic from muggles.

You’d think they’d ensure that any departments linked to muggle relations would be staffed as efficiently as possible. And Mr. Weasley definitely isn’t a smart choice for the role. No wonder they pay him so badly…

Harry’s Invisibility Cloak Should Be Less Detectable

Marauder's Map

Harry’s invisibility cloak is a Deathly Hallow, and should not show up on the Marauder’s Map.

In Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone, Harry receives an invisibility cloak as a Christmas gift. We later learn that it was Dumbledore who gave it to him after having been entrusted with it by James Potter. From then on, Harry and his friends have a bunch of exciting adventures whilst hidden under the cloak.

The problem arises when you consider that it’s not just any old invisibility cloak, this is a Deathly Hallow. The difference is that, according to legend, Harry’s invisibility cloak originally belonged to Death himself. It can hide you from anything, not just sight.

In Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, Harry is sneaking around at night, as he often does. However, his foot gets stuck, and he’s nearly happened upon by Snape. Before he can be caught, Mad-Eye Moody (who’s actually Barty Crouch Jr) spots Harry using his magical eye. He then leads Snape away in a different direction so that Harry can free himself and escape.

There is no way that Moody’s eye should have been able to spot Harry under the cloak. This is a cloak that can hide the user from Death himself, but we’re expected to believe that an enchanted eyeball can see through it? Preposterous.

I understand that the eye can see through walls, but it shouldn’t have been able to see through the enchantment on the cloak.

We then have the issue of the Marauder’s Map. Harry uses the map to sneak around whilst under his cloak, such as when he goes to Hogsmeade.

His own footprints show on the map, clearly pointing to his location. Again, this should not be happening! The cloak is not designed to hide someone from sight; it’s supposed to hide them from any detection whatsoever.

Personally, I have a sneaky suspicion that Rowling did not consider that the cloak was a Deathly Hallow when she first introduced it.

Or if she had, she certainly hadn’t planned the story of the Three Brothers where it’s revealed that the cloak used to belong to Death. I guess it could also be that she had realized all that, but just completely forgot when writing the details of the story.

Hermione Forgets She Used a Memory Charm

Hermione Forgets She Used a Memory Charm

Hermione uses a memory charm on her parents, but then later claims she’s never used it before when she has to perform one on Antonin Dolohov.

This one is only an issue in the books rather than the movies, but I’m putting it here as it’s a pretty big one. In Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, the Death Eaters are closing in, and the trio are worried about protecting their loved ones.

To try and keep her muggle parents safe, Hermione performs a memory charm on them to make them forget her. They move to Australia, completely unaware that their daughter even exists.

This is a profoundly emotional moment, and when I saw it depicted in the movies, I literally cried. I can’t imagine the strength it must have taken for Hermione to do that. She made her own parents forget about her, let that sink in for a moment. Imagine how incredibly traumatic that would have been for her. How deep-rooted that moment would be in her memories.

And yet, apparently, she forgets it ever happened! Later on in the book, they’re nearly caught by the Death Eater Antonin Dolohov. To protect themselves, they need to erase his memory so that he can’t hand them in to Voldemort. That prompts the following interaction between Ron and Hermione:

“You’re the boss,” said Ron, sounding profoundly relieved. “But I’ve never done a Memory Charm.”
“Nor have I,” said Hermione, “but I know the theory.”

She knows the theory?! She performed the charm on her own parents! She did so in intense detail, purging every knowledge of their daughter and implanting a false identity.

She knows the spell inside and out. This was a serious oversight on Rowling’s part as not only is it incorrect, it loses the opportunity to address how triggering it would’ve been for Hermione to have to use that charm again.

Rowling has since claimed that there were two different memory charm spells, and that’s what Hermione meant. However, that feels like she’s just saying whatever she can to try and cover up the fact she made a mistake, and I don’t buy it for a moment.

Why Did Fred and George Not Notice Peter Pettigrew?

Marauder's Map

Ron slept with Scabbers every night, who was really Peter Pettigrew. Fred and George should’ve seen this on the Marauder’s Map.

In Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, Fred and George kindly present Harry with the Marauder’s Map so he can sneak into Hogsmeade. The map is magically enchanted so that it shows the location of every single person within Hogwarts, as well as all the secret passageways.

After overhearing a conversation in The Three Broomsticks, Harry learns how his parents were friends with a man named Peter Pettigrew. He finds out that Pettigrew was supposedly killed by Sirius Black and so he’s shocked when he later sees Peter on the map.

He assumes the map is broken as he believes Peter to be dead. However, it’s revealed that Peter is an animagus who can transform into a rat and had faked his own death.

It turns out that all these years, Pettigrew had been living his life as Scabbers, the Weasley family rat. Why he decided to be a pet instead of just living freely is anyone’s guess, but it’s what happened. The books establish that Ron sleeps with Scabbers in his bed, which apparently us readers are supposed to believe is normal behaviour.

There’s no way that Fred and George followed curfew times and they definitely would’ve gone sneaking around at night every now and then. And you can bet they’d have used the Marauder’s Map to avoid detection. This means that they will have seen Ron on the map, sharing a bed with someone named Peter Pettigrew. How would they not notice that?

You can’t even argue that the map only shows humans, seeing as it’s apparently not fooled by animagus forms. In the movie, Harry searches for Peter Pettigrew at night after seeing him on the map. However, Pettigrew runs right past him without being seen, as he’s in rat form.

The very fact that Pettigrew ever shows on the map is proof that it recognizes him as Scabbers, as he never goes to human form.

Why Did James and Lily Need a Secret Keeper?

Why Did James and Lily Need a Secret Keeper

Either James or Lily could’ve been their own Secret Keeper, rendering their house completely safe.

The entire Harry Potter series starts because of one key event – Voldemort killing Harry’s parents. However, what if I told you that there was a way the Potters could’ve avoided that? Harry could have grown up with two parents, safely away from Voldemort. It relies on a tidbit of information that I don’t think Rowling thought through properly.

So, the movies touch upon what happened, but they don’t go into as much detail as the books do. We know that Peter Pettigrew betrayed the Potters to Voldemort, but the films don’t explain why he knew their location in the first place.

You see, the Potters were aware that Voldemort was after Harry, as Snape had revealed that information to Dumbledore. So they’d started putting safeguards in place to ensure their son would be safe.

One of these safeguards was a powerful spell called the Fidelius Charm. This spell works by ensuring that only one person, the Secret Keeper, would be able to divulge knowledge of a person’s location. That way, nobody else would know where the Potters were hiding, and Voldemort couldn’t get to them.

Originally, they were going to choose Sirius, but he was worried Voldemort would know they’d chosen him, so instead they gave the role to Peter Pettigrew.

There are two problems with that. Firstly, even if Voldemort had known that Sirius was the Secret Keeper, that shouldn’t have mattered. The Fidelius Charm makes it so that the information can only be freely given, and cannot be blackmailed, bought, or tortured out of a person.

If they’d chosen Sirius, then Voldemort still wouldn’t have been able to get the information out of him even if he’d have known about it.

However, the biggest problem is due to a fact established in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows. You can be your own Secret Keeper. Bill Weasley is the Secret Keeper for Shell Cottage where he hides, and Arthur Weasley is his own Secret Keeper as well.

Therefore either James or Lily Potter could have been the Secret Keeper for Godric’s Hollow, and they’d have been safe provided they never left the house.

Ollivanders is a Money-Laundering Operation

Ollivanders is a Money-Laundering Operation

The raw materials for wands cost more than the wands themselves.

It’s the only explanation for why his prices are so dang low. This is a fan conspiracy that cropped up, but there’s a lot of weight to it, so I’ll sum up the case. The raw materials cost more than the wands do.

As experienced Harry Potter fans will know, most wands have one of three main core types – Dragon heartstring, phoenix feather, or unicorn hair. These are rare materials and are not cheap to come by. Some of these are available to buy at other stores, and we hear the price of some things in the books when Harry wanders past the stalls.

A single unicorn hair costs 10 galleons. Meanwhile, buying a wand with a unicorn hair core would only set a student back 7 galleons. So it’s cheaper to buy a fully functional wand than it is to buy just one of the materials used to make it. And that’s not even taking into consideration the time and effort that goes into crafting the wands.

Even if Ollivander were to buy the materials wholesale, I still don’t see how he could make any kind of profit through the wands. And that’s assuming that wholesale prices even exist in the wizarding world. We see Hagrid get school supplies from Diagon Alley several times, which suggests that there’s nowhere to go to get the items cheaper.

You could theorize that Hogwarts subsidizes Ollivanders, but this theory has two flaws. Firstly, it’s never mentioned anywhere in either the books or the movies.

We tend to hear about the support they offer to students, such as sending staff members to personally deliver the invitations to muggle-borns. Secondly, it’s not just students who purchase wands from Ollivanders. Any adult can get a new wand from there, or even students from other countries, as Ollivanders is well-renowned.

Therefore, the only explanation is that Ollivanders is just a front for a more nefarious business. It has a solid reputation for selling wands, meaning nobody would question shady international figures coming by the store. Meanwhile, Ollivander could be secretly trading black-market goods such as dragon eggs.

It’s a fun theory born of a plothole that most likely just amounts to Rowling using arbitrary numbers for the prices.

The Triwizard Cup Portkey Should’ve Been One-Way

Triwizard Cup

Portkeys are single-use. They’re set with a single location and don’t return to the place that they came from.

Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire establishes a new magical item called a portkey. It’s an object which has been magically imbued with the power to transport people to a pre-determined location. It’s how Harry and the Weasleys get to the Quidditch World Cup at the start of the book/ movie.

Then, at the end of the Triwizard Tournament, Harry and Cedric see the Triwizard Cup at a the same time. They agree to touch it together, and are both transported to the graveyard where Voldemort’s father is buried. Some people have suggested that this in itself is a plothole, as the portkey should only work at a certain time.

Portkeys are initially stated to work only at a specific time, but this could be due to the Quidditch World Cup being a high profile event. It makes sense that they’d need to stagger the arrival of guests, hence making the portkeys have a set time. However, it’s not suggested that it’s a key feature of portkeys. Therefore, this in itself is not a plothole.

However, the plothole arises as Harry uses the Triwizard Cup to return to Hogwarts after narrowly escaping Voldemort. He touches Cedric’s body and summons the cup using “Accio”. As soon as his fingers grasp the cup, it works as a portkey again.

That shouldn’t happen. Portkeys are single-use, and he should not have been able to use the same portkey to get back to Hogwarts again. That’s not how they work.


Question: What is a plothole?

Answer: A plothole (or plot hole) is a word used for inconsistencies in a piece of media. This is primarily used in conversations around books, movies, or TV, but can apply to other mediums as well. It refers to instances where lore established in one scene is either changed or no longer present in a different scene.

Question: Are the Harry Potter books different from the movies?

Answer: The overall story is very similar between the Harry Potter books and movies, however, there are some changes. The extent of these changes varies, with some movies being more accurate to the books than others. There are several instances where characters/ scenes are present in the books but not in the movies, and vice versa.

Question: What year does the Harry Potter series take place?

Answer: Harry Potter was born in July 1980, and he starts Hogwarts in 1991. The first 7 books take place between 1991 and 1998, with each book representing a new year. The epilogue is set 19 years after the events of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, in September 2017.


As you can see, the Harry Potter series is certainly not without its faults. However, despite the plotholes, the books and movies are a magical place for fans to return to again and again. Their quirks are part of what makes them so special, and fans wouldn’t spend so much time finding plotholes if they didn’t enjoy the source material so much.

If you’re looking for more fun Harry Potter content, then you’ve come to the right place! Wizards Welcome has a wealth of excellent articles including guides, bios, and opinion pieces. Check out this cool article about characters and scenes in the books that aren’t in the movies.

Read More: Harry Potter Plots and Characters That Are in the Books But Not the Movies

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Scroll to Top