Though originally a fanatic for Bathilda Bagshot’s Hogwarts: A History, Hermione Granger eventually took umbrage with the book. And for good reason.
Granger didn’t appreciate how the book neglected to mention Hogwarts’ use of House Elves. We second that, but we’re more perturbed about other omissions. For instance, what about the theory that Ron Weasley is a time-traveling Albus Dumbledore, or that Voldemort doesn’t have hair because he doesn’t want anyone to create a Polyjuice Potion of him?
No bother. In honor of 20 years since the “Harry Potter” books, and 15 years since the film “Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets,” we’ve gathered the most magical theories together in one place.
There are more theories than flavors of Bertie Bott’s Every Flavour Beans, but here are the ones you should know based on popularity and evidence.
We even brought in our sorting hat to put them into three categories: The Chosen Ones, Keepers and Simply Riddikulus. (There’s not a terrible theory alive that didn’t wind up in Riddikulus.)
The Chosen Ones
These are the theories who lived.
Dumbledore represents Death.
The fairy tale told to wizard children relays the story of three brothers who, in an attempt to use magic to cross a river that’s otherwise deadly, meet Death. Feeling cheated by the brothers’ attempts to outwit him, Death tricks the brothers into taking “gifts” that ― in two out of three cases, at least ― eventually lead to their demise.
In the theory, Voldemort is the first brother; he wants power, so he receives the Elder Wand. Snape represents the second brother; he lost Harry’s mom, Lily — the woman he loved, so he receives the Resurrection Stone. The third brother is Harry; like in the story, he receives the invisibility cloak. Dumbledore is then Death, who, like in the fairy tale, greets Harry “as an old friend” at the purgatory-ish King’s Cross Station after the Boy Who Lived gets “killed” by Voldemort. (The “gifts,” of course, are the Deathly Hallows.)
If you need more proof, J.K. Rowling approves:
The Defense Against the Dark Arts position is cursed.
Voldemort supposedly jinxed the Hogwarts position of Defense Against the Dark Arts after Dumbledore denied him the post. As evidence, Hogwarts was unable to keep a DADA teacher for more than a year while the curse was ongoing.
This is more of a fact than a theory. Rowling apparently confirmed by telling “Today” that the position wasn’t jinxed anymore after Voldemort’s death.
Ariana Dumbledore is an Obscurial.
In “Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them,” we learn about Obscurials, which are young wizards and witches who develop a dark magical force called an Obscurus as a result of their magic being suppressed.
A curious quote from Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows has some thinking Ariana Dumbledore was an Obscurial for suppressing her magic, too.
Talking about his sister in the book, Aberforth Dumbledore says, “She wouldn’t use magic, but she couldn’t get rid of it; it turned inward and drove her mad, it exploded out of her when she couldn’t control it, and at times she was strange and dangerous. But mostly she was sweet and scared and harmless.”
They might as well put that quote under the definition of Obscurial. Don’t be surprised if this Ariana Dumbledore reveal shows up in the new movies.
The “Deathly Hallows” summed up the series.
At the Battle of Hogwarts in the final “Harry Potter” movie, Harry, Ron and Hermione encounter a troll, giant spiders, a werewolf and then Dementors, in that order.
This sequence is thought to sum up or be an homage to the series. In the first movie, the three encounter a troll, in the second there are giant spiders, in the third there is a werewolf and Dementors.
Hermione’s cat is a half-Kneazle.
If you heard someone say Kneazle, you’d probably say, “Gesundheit.”
But don’t do that.
In Rowling’s universe, Kneazles are magic cat-like creatures, known for their size and having a tail like a lion. Fans guessed Hermione’s cat, Crookshanks, was part Kneazle from its lion-like appearance.
Well, we’re not kitten you. He is. J.K. Rowling confirmed this on Twitter.
Dumbledore is gay.
This really is the chosen one among “Harry Potter” theories.
Even before Rowling revealed the truth, there was speculation about Dumbledore’s sexual orientation. Readers could probably pick up on hints of it in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows when Rowling explained Dumbledore’s relationship with Grindelwald, but for a while nothing was confirmed.
Then, in 2007, the author revealed you were right all along. Yes, Dumbledore is gay.
Ten points to people who read way too much into things!
Not every theory can be like a seeker in Quidditch and get all the glory, but you still need Keepers, too.
The Dursleys are so mean because Harry Potter is a Horcrux.
From the movies and books, we know Horcruxes are bad news. Just wearing the locket makes Ron a real stinker.
(Why you gotta be a stinker, Ron?)
Some believe the Dursleys were so lousy to Harry because he was a Horcrux, and they had to live with him. If you think about it, it is weird that the Dursleys took Harry in. They didn’t have to, and, as Dorkly points out, that’s a serious act of kindness. Why are they so terrible to him?
On the other hand, the Dursleys seemed to always have a strained relationship with the Potters. They were considered “unDursleyish.”
The final step to make a Horcrux is cannibalism.
He Who Must Not Be Named wasn’t just into eating unicorns. The dude ate people, too.
The elaborate theory from Reddit user sirlionel13 first explains that Voldemort didn’t directly murder all the victims he used to make Horcruxes. The Basilisk killed Myrtle. But wait, Horcruxes require murder to be made, right?
The Redditor suggests cannibalism is required to make a Horcrux. This would let Voldemort link himself to Myrtle even though he wasn’t the one who directly killed her.
As evidence, the Redditor points out that cannibalism is seen throughout history as a way of gaining strength. For those griping that Voldemort didn’t eat Lily Potter, remember that Harry was an accidental Horcrux, not one intentionally made.
Rowling hasn’t publicly revealed the exact process to make a Horcrux, but reportedly said her editor threw up after hearing it. (It sounds like the process is nauseating, but we can’t rule out that the editor could’ve had a stomach flu at the time.)
Harry Potter is now immortal.
This takes a literal interpretation of Professor Trelawney’s prophecy.
Either must die at the hand of the other for neither can live while the other survives...
He’s now The Boy Who Lived ... Forever.
Harry Potter did die, but he was resurrected by the Deathly Hallows.
OK, forget that immortal nonsense. This comes down to the rule that to destroy a Horcrux, you have to destroy the container.
Harry was the container for part of Voldemort’s soul. For the soul to be destroyed, Potter supposedly had to die.
The theory says Potter came back, not because Voldemort had somehow tethered the two of them together, but because Potter was the Master of Death, being the rightful owner of all the Deathly Hallows.
Yeah, Dumbledore kind of contradicts this theory in Deathly Hallows, telling Potter he didn’t die. But we say he’s full of Hogwarts hogwash. He possibly said that so Harry didn’t know he was the Master of Death. That could go to someone’s head.
Voldemort doesn’t have hair so people couldn’t make Voldey-Polyjuice Potion.
Sure, that could be the reason, but we’d also like to add that the hairlessness could be so he doesn’t get strands stuck in the shower drain. Both are equally frightening.
Trelawney predicted Dumbledore’s death.
In Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, there’s a moment when 12 people are seated around a table for dinner. Professor Trelawney comes and Dumbledore rises to offer a chair.
“Sibyll, this is a pleasant surprise!” said Dumbledore, standing up.
She freaks out, saying when 13 people dine together the first to rise will die.
Tumblr points out that there probably already were 13 people at the table, since Ron likely had Scabbers, aka Wormtail, in his pocket. By standing to offer a seat, Dumbledore may have sealed his fate.
The 13 eating together rule supposedly predicted Sirius and Lupin’s deaths, too.
You only get into Gryffindor if you ask.
Throughout the series, you probably noticed that not all Gryffindors really seem like Gryffindors. Neville doesn’t seem very brave at times, and Hermione’s intellect makes her a perfect Ravenclaw.
Tumblr user claudthecat thinks this is because you get into Gryffindor by asking. We’ve already seen Harry ask to be in Gryffindor, and, yeah, why is Hermione there? Either you get into the House by asking, or the Sorting Hat needs to sort out its priorities.
Harry’s class is so small for a sad reason.
Some fans have noticed that Harry Potter’s class size seems unusually small, and the cause might be right in front of our faces.
Whether it’s because parents didn’t want to conceive during Voldemort’s reign or Death Eaters killed the families that would be sending kids to school, if Harry’s class really is extra small, He Who Must Not Be Named is likely the reason.
Tumblr user marauders4evr explains:
There’s a reason Neville seemed inept at times.
Unless you’re repotting mandrakes, Neville probably isn’t your go-to wizard for magical purposes. That may simply be because he had the wrong wand.
Neville, who had been using his dad’s wand, gets a new wand after the old one breaks during the Battle of the Department of Mysteries. (Remember, the wand is supposed to choose the wizard.) After getting a new wand, he seemingly goes on to be a badass, kill Nagini and pose in his underwear in real life.
Neville doesn’t need a Remembrall to remind him to do crunches.
Hermione’s cat used to belong to the Potters.
The theory, which you can read on Quora, states that a cat the Potters had is actually Crookshanks. If true, it could be the reason the cat goes after Scabbers, recognizing him as Peter Pettigrew.
The evidence comes from a letter written by Lily Potter that Harry reads in Deathly Hallows. In the letter, Lily mentions the family had a cat. Hermione bought her cat in Prisoner of Azkaban from someone who said the cat had been around the shop for a while and nobody wanted him.
It’s not purrrfect, but there’s evidence these cats could be the same.
The centaurs knew Harry’s fate.
After Harry gets saved from Voldemort by the centaur Firenze in Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone, it reads:
“What have you been telling him?” growled Bane. “Remember, Firenze, we are sworn not to set ourselves against the heavens. Have we not read what is to come in the movements of the planets?”
Centaurs are pros at reading the stars and predicting the future, so, yeah, this is a possibility.
Harry Potter imagined everything.
Just like that Nelly song says, “It was only just a dream.”
Though it’s a lame possibility, there is a chance that Harry Potter actually hallucinated everything that happened in the books to get away from his horrible life with the Dursleys.
Rowling herself has acknowledged that this idea had been suggested to her before. At the time, she didn’t outright deny it. She just said she heard it.
Harry and Ron secretly predicted what would happen in The Goblet of Fire.
While making up their Divination homework in Goblet of Fire, Harry and Ron may have predicted what happens in the Triwizard Tournament.
The passage reads:
“Okay...on Monday, I will be in danger of ― er ― burns.”
”Yeah, you will be,” said Ron darkly, “we’re seeing the skrewts again on Monday. Okay, Tuesday, I’ll... erm... ”
”Lose a treasured possession,” said Harry, who was flicking through Unfogging the Future for ideas.
”Good one,” said Ron, copying it down. “Because of... erm... Mercury. Why don’t you get stabbed in the back by someone you thought was a friend?”
”Yeah... cool... ” said Harry, scribbling it down, “because... Venus is in the twelfth house.”
”And on Wednesday, I think I’ll come off worst in a fight.”
Tumblr user thehpfacts explains:
When Harry and Ron begin making up predictions in their Divination homework in “Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire,” they happen to predict, exactly, the dangers that await Harry in the Triwizard tournament: first that he will be “in danger of burns” (the first trial of overcoming a dragon); next that he will “lose a treasured possession” (Ron, his best friend, whom he will have to recover from the merpeople) and Ron says that he’ll drown (he’s submerged in the Black Lake); then get “Stabbed in the back by someone you thought was a friend” (his D.A.D.A. Professor); and finally “come off worse in a fight” (clearly, his duel with Lord Voldemort in the Little Hangleton Graveyard).
Dementors are interested in Harry because he’s got soul ... Voldemort’s soul.
In the books, it seems like Dementors affect Harry more than your average Hogwarts student. This may be because Harry has part of Voldermort’s soul in him, according to Reddit. The more soul, the better for Dementors.
Aretha Franklin, James Brown and Marvin Gaye would be in trouble.
A visit to St. Mungo’s predicted the future.
Did Rowling secretly warn us of Sirius’ death?
While the group is heading to visit Mr. Weasley in St. Mungo’s during Order of the Phoenix, we read:
They climbed a flight of stairs and entered the Creature-Induced Injuries corridor, where the second door on the right bore the words: ‘Dangerous’ Dai Llewellyn Ward: Serious Bites.
According to some, and apparently first posted on Muggle.net, this was a warning about Sirius Black’s upcoming death:
If you put these words on a sign, they would read: Creature-Induced Injuries. Dangerous Dai Llewellyn Ward Serious Bites Take the first word of each of these and what do you get get? Creature Dangerous Dai Serious? No – Kreacher dangerous, Die Sirius…
Not everyone’s buying it. Some Reddit users disagree, bluntly saying, “That seems incredibly far-fetched and definitely not intentional.”
There was a reason Dumbledore awarded Neville 10 points, other than stealing the House Cup for Gryffindor.
It seems like a bunch of B.S. when Dumbledore gives Neville 10 last-second points for standing up to his friends in “Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone.” The points win the House Cup for Gryffindor, which is totally stupid. But perhaps it wasn’t such a rip off after all.
A Quora user suggests Neville got the points because Dumbledore sincerely knows what it’s like to stand up to friends, needing to face off against his friend/love, Grindelwald.
Snape’s first words to Harry gave away his secret.
Thanks to overly obsessed fans, it seems this question may have given away Snape’s big secret, his love for Lily Potter. Tumblr user tomhiddles explains it actually has a secret meaning:
According to Victorian Flower Language, asphodel is a type of lily meaning ‘My regrets follow you to the grave’ and wormwood means ‘absence’ and also typically symbolized bitter sorrow. If you combined that, it meant ‘I bitterly regret Lily’s death’.
Of course, Harry wouldn’t know that. We’re not even sure if Rowling knows it, since she hasn’t confirmed or denied.
As much as we’d wish some of these theories were true, sometimes you have to admit they’re “riddikulus”!
Ron Weasley is a time-traveling Dumbledore.
This theory is based off physical descriptions in the books and the fact that Ron and Dumbledore seem to have little contact with each other throughout the series. Because of this, some people believe that Ron and Dumbledore are the same person. Dumbledore has just time traveled to help Harry in the fight against Voldemort.
Rowling says, “Nah.”
J.K. Rowling is Rita Skeeter.
Yes, “Harry Potter” is real and J.K. Rowling is secretly Rita Skeeter trying to expose the magical world to Muggles. Unfortunately for Rita/Rowling, according to the theory, we all believe it’s fiction. No worries. She gets lots of money and lives happily ever after, anyway.
There’s also an idea floating around that Rowling created the seven books as her own seven Horcruxes. We can clump these theories together since they both involve “Harry Potter” being real.
All we can say is: It better not be, or someone owes us some Hogwarts letters.
Draco Malfoy is a werewolf. Oh, and Snape is a vampire.
From physical descriptions in the books and some peculiar activities, the theory popped up that Draco is secretly a werewolf. Furthermore, he was turned into a werewolf as punishment for his father’s failings. (Way to go, Lucius.)
Snape, on the other hand, is a vampire. This mostly comes down to Snape being described as having a pale complexion, sometimes being compared to a bat and just being a creepy dude.
Unfortunately, Rowling is the silver bullet for these theories.
Muggles already won a war with the wizards.
Are wizards so heavily regulated because Muggles deemed it necessary?
Reddit speculates that Muggles won a war or conflict against the wizards and set up the Ministry of Magic to further suppress wizardkind.
As evidence, the theory shows how wizards of the past, such as the Peverells (on whom “The Tale of the Three Brothers” is based), seemed to be much stronger than wizards in present time.
It’s notable that wizards appear to be heavily regulated to the point where there’s even a registry for Animagi. Because of this, it’s suggested that Muggles were secretly behind the creation of the Ministry to cause the decline of magic and make wizards think they were doing it to themselves.
Arthur Weasley was under the Imperius curse.
Some think that Arthur Weasley’s deep disdain for the Malfoys is because he was once placed under the Imperius curse.
It’s a lot of speculation, but it might explain why Arthur seems to have trouble rising in the Ministry ranks (since he would’ve done terrible stuff while under the influence of the curse) and why he hates Lucius Malfoy so much.
Malfoy claimed to have been under the curse when Voldemort was first in power. He was obviously a phony baloney. If Arthur was actually put under the curse, he has a right to hold a grudge.
Ginny drugged Harry with a love potion.
Redditor colmshan1990 explains that Ginny gave Harry a love potion, and that’s why he all of a sudden is attracted to her.
Bloody hell! What?
The evidence is that Harry didn’t really notice Ginny much until Half-Blood Prince. Then, all of a sudden, it’s see ya later, Cho Chang.
You might say, “Hey, that’s just part of growing up.” But the Redditor disagrees.
Potions, specifically love potions, keep coming up in Half-Blood Prince, the book in which Harry really notices Ginny. The Redditor claims this is a hint that Ginny gave a potion to our boy, Harry.
Dumbledore hired Lockhart to expose him as a fraud.
Of all the questions in the Potterverse, one of the most baffling is, “Why the heck did Dumbledore hire Gilderoy Lockhart?”
The hypotheses are that, since the position was jinxed, there weren’t many applicants. Some speculate on Quora that Dumbledore hired Lockhart because he knew his fraud would be exposed.
Professor McGonagall is a Death Eater.
This is a major stretch, but it comes down to fans wanting there to be some sort of traitor reveal. The first books in the series all had reveals, such as Professor Quirrell being evil or Tom Riddle secretly being Voldemort.
The later books were lacking these.
Evidence that McGonagall is evil includes her comment about Muggles not being “completely” stupid and her supposed disregard for Harry Potter’s safety.
It’s not a lot, but that’s more than enough for a theory.
Abracadabra could have a dark history in the Muggle world.
Rowling has stated that she based the killing curse, Avada Kedavra, on Abracadabra, which would explain why the words sound similar.
But that’s not good enough for theorists.
Reddit users suggest that the two words sound similar because of the dark past between wizards and Muggles. According to the theory, Abracadabra was adopted into Muggle language after conflicts between the two groups. Some speculate that Muggles say Abracadabra to bastardize the killing curse and taunt wizards.
Remus and Sirius were secret lovers.
This theory/’ship relies on a lot of quotes taken out of context and prolonged gazes between Sirius Black and Remus Lupin.
Evidence includes phrases from Order of the Phoenix, such as, “Lupin’s eyes were fixed on Sirius,” and, “Looking away from Sirius at last.”
Sure, Lupin married Tonks, but why let that get between true love?
Huff and puff ... erm ... Hufflepuff is theorized to be the stoner house of Hogwarts. Redditor JusAHomie explains:
Hufflepuff: - Kings of HERBology - LIVED next to the kitchen - Most of them are considered the laid back, relatively Humble types compared to other houses.
It doesn’t get more solid than that.
Professor Quirrell tried to kill Neville.
During flying lessons, Neville’s broomstick flies off erratically, kind of like how Potter’s did during a Quidditch match.
Harry’s plight was caused by Professor Quirrell, and Neville happens to be the other possible “Chosen One,” so who’s to say Quirrell wasn’t trying to take out Neville, too?
Mary Poppins is in the “Harry Potter” universe.
The predominant evidence is that the movie version of Mary Poppins is English and uses magic.
This inspired Redditor BiggsyBig to realize that Mary must’ve been a Ministry employee who was evaluating Muggle-born wizards, and Bert was obviously a squib who was aware of the magical world.
Unfortunately, Mary was killed in the first rise of Voldemort for being so fond of Muggles. No spoonful of sugar could make that revelation easy to swallow.
George Weasley secretly becomes Willy Wonka.
Apparently, some time after the death of Fred, George Weasley took his body altering confections to his own sweets factory and became Willy Wonka, according to TVTropes.
As we see in the movies, Wonka also has a fondness for sweets that’ll change the way someone looks, and magic would explain Wonka’s crazy inventions.
Snape didn’t die.
Earlier this year, Redditor DER_GOTTKAISER blew our minds by suggesting that Snape didn’t die in “Harry Potter.” The evidence includes Snape not showing up as a ghost before Harry faced Voldemort in the woods, and the fact that Snape’s body wasn’t discussed or seen when other bodies were laid out in the movies.
The Redditor says Snape, being a potions master and serving as a double agent, would’ve been prepared for a Nagini attack and took an antidote. Nagini just paralyzed him, and Snape later woke up and lived happily ever after far, far away from Harry Potter.
Is it wishful thinking? Yeah. Do we buy it after all this time? Always.
Got a Harry Potter theory? Send us an owl! Haha, just kidding. But, Sirius-ly, let us know.
From June 1 to 30, HuffPost is celebrating the 20th anniversary of the very first “Harry Potter” book by reminiscing about all things Hogwarts. Accio childhood memories.