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Adaptation Induced Plot Hole / Harry Potter

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See also Adaptation Explanation Extrication.


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    Films 
  • In general, the movies can't decide if Hogwarts students are allowed to use magic outside of school or not. Three of the books have Harry getting caught or blamed for using magic at home. As well as these events, the second movie has the rule-abiding Hermione magically fix Harry's glasses in public in front of several adult wizards (in Diagon Alley, but even so...) and the third movie starts with Harry practicing spells in his bedroom as part of his summer homework. While the third could at least be partially justified by the fact that it's schoolwork, the movies have gone back and forth on the issue between "no magic for any reason" to "no magic unless it's for school."
  • Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone:
    • A minor one is how the kids get caught out of bed. For some reason, in the film, they decide to go to Hagrid's house at night despite finding out about the Philosopher's Stone during the day. They have no reason to sneak out, and why would Malfoy have any reason to follow them? Did he skulk around outside the Gryffindor common room waiting for them to make a move? It's just giving them an Idiot Ball so they can be caught and get sentenced to detention in the Forest. In the book, they were out of bed at night because they were trying to smuggle Hagrid's dragon (who had hatched weeks earlier) out of the school. Malfoy knew about this because he'd read a letter in Ron's book about the time and date of when they'd be going out to free the dragon.
    • The Thestrals are explained as beings who can only be seen by people who have experienced the death of someone firsthand. In the book, Harry passes out before Quirrell dies. As the potency of Lily's protective magic on Harry was kicked up a notch for the film, it burns Quirrel so badly that he crumbles to dust and ash right before Harry's eyes, and yet Harry still can't see the Thestrals (which appear invisibly in Prisoner of Azkaban, both the book and movie) until after also seeing Cedric Diggory get murdered in the fourth film. Meaning that the fifth film should not be the first time Harry is able to see the Thestrals.
    • A minor one in the movie comes during the flying lesson. In the book, Madam Hooch tells the students to start flying on the count of three; Neville, who's terrified of flying, accidentally jumps into the air on "two". In the movie, they're supposed to start flying when Madam Hooch blows her whistle, but when she does, Neville is the only one to start flying and everyone starts telling him to come down immediately; it is played that Madam Hooch only expects them to hover and Neville immediately goes above and beyond, clearly not in control.
    • In Oliver Wood's film explanation of Quidditch rules to Harry, he says, "You catch [the Golden Snitch], Potter, and we win." Catching the Snitch only awards 150 points and, while rare, it is still possible to lose when catching the Snitch if the opposing team has a more than 150 point lead; the houses also play a round-robin schedule in the novels, so point differential is a major factor. Wood's book explanation, "Whichever Seeker catches the Snitch wins his team an extra hundred and fifty points, so they nearly always win," makes it far more understandable why the Keeper and Chaser positions even exist, while they are implied to be completely superfluous in the film. However, this detail is mentioned later on by Lee Jordan.
  • Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets:
    • The Ministry of Magic does not send a letter to the Dursley's house warning Harry for the apparent violation of the Decree for the Reasonable Restriction of Underage Sorcery after Dobby levitates and drops Petunia's pudding, which is how the Dursleys knew of this rule in the books. How Vernon seems to know of this rule in the following movie, despite noticeably not being aware in this one, is not explained note .
    • In the novel, Hermione asks Professor Binns to tell the class about the Chamber of Secrets. Binns is the History of Magic teacher, so it is perfectly reasonable for her to ask him about something connected to the history of Hogwarts. However, Binns is absent in the film, so Hermione asks Professor McGonagall about it, which makes far less sense and is completely off-topic from the subject she teaches (Transfiguration). This can, however, be justified in that McGonagall is the deputy headmistress, and thus would be the most likely of the film's teachers to know about it.
    • After Harry finds the diary, as soon as he realises it can talk back, he immediately asks it about the Chamber, even though he would have no reason to suspect the diary is connected in any way to those events. A deleted scene shows (as in the novel) a conversation the boys have with Hermione regarding the diary, where they make the connection. This scene was re-included in the extended version of the film.
    • A much more baffling plot hole occurs immediately after Harry is shown the memory of Hagrid being caught with Aragog. The very next scene is where the diary is stolen back. Harry neither meets nor speaks to anyone this entire time and no explanation is given later when it is revealed that Ginny stole the diary back. In the novel, the Valentine's Day scene fills in this gap.
    • In an inversion, on the other hand, Tom Riddle in the film tells Harry that the Basilisk only obeys him and no other Parselmouths. The book shows no attempt on Harry's part to control the monster himself, nor does it try to explain why such wouldn't work.
  • Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban:
    • In the book (and the video game), after Harry falls off his broom in the Quidditch match against Hufflepuff, he sees a black dog that he believes to be the Grim watching him from some empty seats. In the film, Harry inexplicably instead sees the outlines of the Grim appear in the sky. This would theoretically make sense if the Grim he had been spotting before was really a mystical omen of death and not the Animagus form of Sirius Black, as we later find out.
    • The circumstances of Lupin preventing Harry from performing the Ridikkulus charm against the Boggart in the film are changed, so that instead of stopping Harry before he confronts the Boggart, Lupin steps in after he has already seen it transform into a Dementor before Harry. In and of itself, this is a fair change from the book that helps indicate Lupin's desire to protect Harry ... but in a later scene, Lupin still tells Harry, as in the book, that he came between him and the Boggart because he feared it might take the form of Lord Voldemort, despite the fact that he clearly saw it transform into a Dementor.
    • The third movie depicts the effects of the Disarming Charm, "Expelliarmus," inconsistently. When Lupin enters the Shrieking Shack, he uses it on Harry, removing his wand without causing him any harm, whereas when Harry casts the same spell on Snape minutes later, he is Blown Across the Room instead of disarmed. In the book, Harry, Ron, and Hermione used the spell at the same time and the combined effect threw Snape against the wall, but in the movie, Harry did it alone to the same effect.
    • The "Snape's Grudge" scene is a bit weird in the film. Snape catches Harry out of his dorm at night, which is enough to get him in trouble by itself. There's no reason for Snape to suspect the map is anything but a blank piece of parchment.note  After Lupin confiscates the Map, Harry somehow avoids further trouble. In the "Snape's Grudge" scene in the book, Snape catches Harry coming back from Hogsmeade, and has him empty his pockets and tries to reveal the Map's secret to prove Harry's been in Hogsmeade; when he can't, Harry barely escapes trouble.
    • This change causes an additional problem: In the film, Harry was out of bed because he saw Peter Pettigrew on the Marauder's Map and, having heard Pettigrew died years ago, went to investigate. After he's caught, he tells this to Lupin, who declares "That's not possible"... And then apparently decides not to do anything with this information, as the corresponding scene doesn't happen until later. In the book, Harry never saw Pettigrew on the map. Instead, Lupin confiscates the map, and then weeks later makes the discovery himself (he was using the map to discreetly make sure Harry stayed out of trouble during Buckbeak's execution, only for Pettigrew to coincidentally cross paths with them that day) causing him to immediately figure out Pettigrew faked his death and rush off to confront his former friend. This is also the reason he didn't take his wolfsbane potion -in the book, he was overwhelmed by emotion and forgot about it. Since his reaction in the film is apparently more level-headed, with him waiting days to confront Pettigrew, it seems less plausible for it to have slipped his mind.
    • Snape asks students how to distinguish between a werewolf and a true wolf (and werewolves look like normal wolves in this case), but in the films, werewolves are clearly distinguishable from normal wolves. However, Snape's question is actually how to tell the difference between werewolves and animagi in the film.
    • Harry's Invisibility Cloak disappears after the scene in Hogsmeade. This leads to a rather blatant case of Forgot About His Powers later when the climax of the film revolves around Harry and Hermione needing to sneak around the castle undetected. In the book, he couldn't use the cloak for this because it had been stolen by Snape. It's also unclear why he wouldn't have used it in the film-only scene where he's searching the halls for Pettigrew.
    • While it's treated as a major reveal in the book, the film never makes it clear that Moony, Wormtail, Padfoot, and Prongs are nicknames used by Remus Lupin, Peter Pettigrew, Sirius Black, and James Potter, respectively. This causes some confusion in later films when these nicknames are treated as common knowledge to those familiar with these people, particularly Harry's warning to Snape in Order of the Phoenix that "He has Padfoot at the place where it's hidden."
  • Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire:
    • The very beginning of the book has Harry, the Weasleys, and a whole bunch of other wizards and witches attending a Quidditch Tournament. After one team wins, there are large amounts of drunken celebrations. Some of those celebrating were former disciples of Voldemort. Barty Crouch Jr., who is still a loyal disciple, gets angry and casts a large Mark of Voldemort (while pinning it on a house elf) into the air as a reminder to the former Death Eaters about their true master. Chaos ensues. This admittedly is a bit of a complicated setup, but the film simply has a bunch of Death Eaters casting the Mark, and attacking the Quidditch tournament. No explanation is given why everyone flees in terror without trying to fight back against this small, obvious group, nor why no one believes Harry about Voldemort's return later despite the fact that Voldemort's minions have obviously returned to cause trouble.
    • Krum has Mind-Control Eyes while under the Imperius Curse in the fourth film. In the seventh film, the curse is portrayed more like in the books wherein it appears: the Gringotts goblin just has a vacant smile. It's noted in the books that several of Voldemort's agents escaped justice by claiming to have been under the Imperius Curse, and a handful of minor characters are placed under the curse for long periods of time. If the curse's effects included blindingly obvious Mind-Control Eyes, then it wouldn't be nearly as effective as either an excuse or an espionage tool.
    • The films omit the entirety of Percy Weasley's minor-but-existent character arc from Goblet of Fire, Order of the Phoenix, Half-Blood Prince, and Deathly Hallows, leaving it totally unexplained why he's suddenly working for Umbridge in the fifth movie, then just as suddenly back with the good guys in the finale.
  • Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix:
    • Averted by J. K. Rowling herself, who stepped in after learning the fifth film would be cutting out the character Kreacher, and warned the crew that adapting book seven would be very problematic if he hadn't appeared before. However, so much of him was cut from Deathly Hallows Part 1, and he was completely absent from Part 2, that they might as well have removed him entirely.
    • Harry becomes a pariah to the magical world because of Rita Skeeter's articles in the previous year, where she made him out to be an arrogant, attention-seeking child and liar for his insistent claim that Voldemort has returned. In the fourth book, Barty Crouch Jr had infiltrated Hogwarts and manipulated things so that Harry would fall into the hands of Voldemort, which allowed for the latter's return. After confessing everything to Dumbledore, Fudge was informed about the culprit, who decided to have a Dementor accompany him — the Dementor saw the culprit and sucked out his soul, which left him to no longer be able to give testimony anymore, and nobody to verify Harry's story of Voldemort's return. The movie removed this side-effect by stating the culprit has been taken back to Azkaban, but is otherwise perfectly alright. The media still portrays Harry (and, to an extent, Dumbledore) as liars based on nothing but bad propaganda.
    • In the fifth book, Hermione beginning to refer to Voldemort by his chosen name is a step forward for her in terms of Character Development that gets Harry fully on board with deciding to start what becomes Dumbledore's Army. It's acknowledged in the book that this is the first time she has ever uttered the Big Bad's name. In the first movie, however, she says the name unflinchingly: "Who was the one wizard Voldemort always feared?" And in the second film, when Lucius Malfoy mocks Harry for "be[ing] very brave, to say his name," she gets Dumbledore's line from the end of the first book, "Fear of a name only increases fear of the thing itself." This softens the Phoenix moment's impact in the movies' continuity.
    • The Two-Way Mirror that Sirius gives to Harry in the fifth book is left out of the film. This creates some rather glaring continuity problems further down the line for the Deathly Hallows films. In the book, Harry ended up smashing the mirror in frustration after a failed attempt to use it to contact Sirius beyond the grave. After this, Harry decides to save a shard of the smashed mirror as a keepsake. Meanwhile, due to Sirius' death, the other mirror ends up in the hands of Mundungus Fletcher, who ends up selling it to Dumbledore's brother, Aberforth. This leads to Harry observing a bright blue eye sometimes looking back at him from the shard, and due to the striking resemblance to Dumbledore's own eye, Harry ends up assuming that it is Dumbledore trying to contact him from the afterlife. This is why Harry, when imprisoned in the cellar of Malfoy Manor in the seventh book, looks at the shard and begs for help. His plea for help is heard by Aberforth, who in response alerts Dobby, who then arrives to break Harry and the gang out. In the seventh film, however, absolutely none of this context is given at any point, so to someone only familiar with the films, it comes across as Harry just suddenly and randomly taking a strange mirror shard out of his sock and begging it for help, resulting in it somehow summoning Dobby. While the second part of Hallows does make an attempt to patch over this hole — by showing that the shard is a piece from a mirror found in Aberforth's house, and otherwise giving it a part of the book backstory of him having bought it off Fletcher — this only makes the whole thing a minor Voodoo Shark, as it raises the question of why Aberforth would buy a broken mirror, and it still doesn't explain how Harry acquired the mirror shard, why he would keep the shard on his person, nor why he would feel compelled to call to it for help.
    • In the book, Harry had to resort to saving Sirius himself because Umbridge's actions had coincidentally driven every member of the Order but Snape away from the school, meaning he couldn't go to any of them for help: Dumbledore left once the DA was exposed and Hagrid fled the grounds following an arrest attempt by the Ministry, during which McGonagall was also injured and had to be sent away for treatment. While leaving in Dumbledore's departure, the film hints that Hagrid may be dismissed but never shows it happening, nor does it mention anything happening to McGonagall, making it seem odd that Harry never thought of going to either of them for help saving Sirius.
    • The fifth film made a few changes to the events immediately following the dementor attack. In the book, Harry's notice of expulsion also informed him that the Ministry would soon send someone to snap his wand; this was followed by further letters from both Sirius and Mr. Weasley, telling him they had postponed his expulsion and not to leave the Dursleys' house under any circumstances. Meanwhile, the film only includes the first letter from the Ministry and makes no mention of Harry's wand being snapped. This can make movie-goers wonder why he didn't bother taking his things and running away once the Dursleys had left, like he attempted to in the third installment.
  • Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince:
    • In the film, Malfoy's entire year of planning is shown to be pointless at the end. The Death Eaters merely show up and stand there doing nothing, while in the book it was imperative that the Death Eaters enter Hogwarts in order to hold off all the members of the Order of the Phoenix guarding Hogwarts so Draco could finish his job (there would have been an amazing battle scene as a result). In the film, the battle doesn't happen and the Death Eaters just walk out.
    • In the film, Draco disarms Dumbledore. This is a key moment in the series that is revealed to be the only part of Dumbledore's master plan that went wrong, yet Dumbledore just lets himself be disarmed without defending himself. In the book, the only reason he was disarmed is because he sacrificed his chance to defend himself to immobilize Harry, so he couldn't jump in to stop Snape.
    • After Sirius Black's death, Harry is left the Black Family fortune along with 12 Grimmauld Place, and Kreacher. So come Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows and Kreacher willingly does what Harry asks him to do since Harry is Kreacher's master. However, this plot point is omitted from the films, making it odd that Kreacher is obeying Harry without question.
  • Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows:
    • In Part 1, Dobby tells Ron that it's nice to see him "again", despite the fact that in the continuity of the films, Dobby was never seen meeting Ron before this moment, having been Adapted Out of films four through six (although it is possible they met off-screen).
    • The final movie removes Dumbledore's explanation of why Voldemort's Killing Curse in the forest failed to work on Harry, leaving his survival (and why it had to be Voldemort himself who cast the curse) a mystery with no movie-canon explanation. While it does explicitly explain why the Elder Wand wouldn't work properly for Voldemort in the film (and the failure of the Killing Curse could be explained simply by that), and Dumbledore also mentions that Voldemort's Soul Fragment is now gone (implying it might have served as Plot Armor), a question mark is still left behind on the completeness of the answer compared with the book's.
    • An inverted example in the final movie, which actually fixes a plot hole that was in the original book. In the book, Harry decides not to use the Elder Wand, but to instead put it back in Dumbledore's Tomb, reasoning that its power will die with him if he dies a natural death. However, the plot of the book hinges on the fact that control of the Elder Wand doesn't necessarily transfer with death, but any kind of defeat or disarmament, meaning that Harry could easily lose control of the Elder Wand before his death (which is quite the possibility seeing as he becomes an Auror). Seemingly to rectify this, the movie simply has him snap the wand in half.
      • Of course, this also causes an example of the trope being Played Straight. In the book, before returning the Elder Wand, Harry used it to repair his own wand. In the film, he never gets around to this, leaving him apparently without a wand going forward (however it is entirely possible that Harry continued using Draco's wand which answers to him).
  • Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them: The film introduces some new beasts, which makes sense... but what doesn't is that they're now missing from a comprehensive book of magical creatures that's gone through more than fifty editions.
    • A new edition of the book that was published after the movie came out explained this: in-universe, Madam Piquery, head of MACUSA (American wizarding government) asked Newt not to write about any American magical beasts lest people start coming to the US to see the beasts and get in trouble (as well as keeping events with Grindlewald under wraps). It's only several in-universe decades later that she decides it's all right to let him publish about the beasts.
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    Video Games 
  • Every version of Philosopher's Stone completely glosses over Harry's backstory with a vague mention of "Harry Potter...the boy who lived", possibly because talking about how Harry's parents were murdered by the Big Bad would bump up the age rating.
    • In the PC version, when taking Norbert to the tower the goal is to avoid Filch and get back to the common room after handing Norbert to Charlie, hence Harry losing the invisibility cloak and going into the Forbidden Forest for his detention are not part of the game's storyline (although there is some Dummied Out dialogue suggesting that the Forbidden Forest part was dropped at some point). When going to the forbidden corridor Harry no longer has his invisibility cloak even though there's no reason for him to have lost it in this version, and the trio just "have to take their chances" with Filch.
    • In the GameCube/PS2/Xbox version, Harry and Hagrid never go to Gringotts or visit Vault 713, but Harry and Ron still read about the break-in and Harry talks about the vault as if he's already seen it.
  • The PlayStation version of Chamber of Secrets removes a lot of plot-relevant events, possibly due to space limitations. It is never explained that the Basilisk "kills" people by looking at them, but the scene with Fawkes blinding the snake still plays. Harry still hears the Basilisk speaking to him through the pipes, but this is never mentioned nor explained in any way. In the final battle, Harry falls unconscious due to being bitten by the Basilisk, except he was never bitten in the game, and so on.
  • In the PC version of Chamber of Secrets, Harry says that he thinks he and Ron will get expelled as punishment for flying the Ford Anglia to Hogwarts... and then it's never mentioned again.
    • The third chapter of Gilderoy Lockhart's book "Marauding with Monsters" contains two back-to-back CriticalResearchFailures regarding the Diricawl (he calls it by its Muggle name and believes it is extinct) and ends with him declaring an intent to assist poachers in driving a known Endangered Species to extinction. This is ostensibly supposed to foreshadow Lockhart's true nature as a fraud, but it's so utterly blatant it makes everyone in-universe look like complete idiots. Are we seriously expected to believe that a supposedly world famous professor is both as knowledgeable as a Muggle about the Diricawl and an admitted criminal yet nobody noticed or cared?

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