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Adaptation Induced Plot Hole / Harry Potter

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See also Adaptation Explanation Extrication.

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  • 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 Quirrell 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. The first movie was released before the fifth book (2001 vs 2003), so the filmmakers couldn't have known about Thestrals unless Rowling had already come up with the concept and told them.
    • 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." This makes it sound even more like an Instant-Win Condition than it is. 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 (and this is further reinforced by examples like the Quidditch World Cup in Goblet of Fire, where Viktor Krum catches the Snitch for Bulgaria, but Ireland wins because they have the better Chasers), 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 Hermione's head of house), 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.
  • 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.
    • 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."
    • In the Gryffindor/Hufflepuff Quidditch match, Cedric Diggory is struck by lightning and falls out of the sky. Soon after, Harry also falls off his broom when the Dementors appear. Wood in the first movie already said that if Harry (as seeker) catches the golden snitch, the game is over, so how did the game end? Did Cedric get better? Did they just call the game after Harry fell? In the book, there was no lightning strike, and Harry later learns that Cedric caught the Snitch immediately after Harry fell.
  • 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 the Quidditch World Cup. After Ireland 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, steals Harry's wand and casts the Dark Mark (while pinning it on his father's house elf, Winky) 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 Crouch Jr. and a bunch of other Death Eaters casting the Mark, and attacking the Quidditch World Cup. 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.
    • In the book, the Triwizard Tournament contestants receive a score for each of the first two events, and the scores determine who gets to enter the maze first. After the first two events, Cedric and Harry's scores were tied, so they enter the maze at the same time. But in the movie, there are no scores, and instead the first event seems to just be pass/fail, while the second just has the contestants ranked from first to fourth. This makes it confusing when the movie still claims that Cedric and Harry are tied going into the third event and thus get to enter at the same time, as it was previously said that Cedric won the second event while Harry came in second, therefore Cedric should've had a head start.
    • Viktor 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 the Death Eaters escaped justice by claiming to have been under the Imperius Curse, and we see a handful of minor characters (Barty Crouch Sr. and Jr.) placed under the curse for long periods of time. If the curse's effects included 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 Dolores Umbridge in the fifth movie, then just as suddenly back with the good guys in the finale.
    • In the books, the reason the public believes Sirius was the first ever prisoner to escape Azkaban is because Barty Crouch Jr. had been smuggled out of Azkaban after he and his dying mother used Polyjuice Potion to assume each other's appearances, and Mrs. Crouch subsequently died bearing her son's identity. In the movie, all of Barty Crouch Sr.'s dirty laundry is cut out, including this, making it a mystery as to why in the movies, Sirius is treated as the first ever successful escapee when it's clear the movie's Crouch Jr. escaped Azkaban without outside help.
  • 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.
    • 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 he confessed everything to Dumbledore, Fudge was informed about the culprit and decided to have a Dementor accompany him — the Dementor saw Crouch Jr. and gave him the Dementor's Kiss, which left him 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 Crouch Jr. 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. This also raises the question of why Barty Jr. isn't freed during the mass Azkaban breakout.
    • 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.
    • This nearly happened when the prop for Marvolo Gaunt's ring was designed for the film, and at the time, the final novel had not yet been released. Due to this, the filmmakers did not realize the importance of the symbol (later revealed to be the Deathly Hallows symbol) carved into the stone (later revealed to be the Resurrection Stone) set into the ring and chose not to include it. As such, they Adapted Out a flashback scene from the novel where Marvolo brandishes the ring at Bob Ogden, and explicitly points out the symbol, which he misidentifies as the Peverell coat of arms. Instead, Dumbledore simply mentions that the ring belonged to Voldemort's maternal family members. The symbol's absence from the stone would have caused a Plot Hole, as Harry's recognition of it is what allowed him to identify it when it recurs throughout the final novel and thus learn of the Hallows and their associated legend. Fortunately, the final novel was released in time for the filmmakers to learn of the symbol's importance, and it was ultimately included on the stone.
  • 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 either fixed his wand off-screen or continued to use Draco's wand, which answers to him.
    • The entire prophecy as shown in Snape's memory was full of holes. First, the prophecy shown in the scene was the one from Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, which was not only irrelevant, but also never seen by Snape. Second, the prophecy that Harry heard that was the relevant one, the MacGuffin from Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix was changed and truncated from the book to eliminate the specific time when the boy would be born ("as the seventh month dies" in the book and "approaches" in the movie). This means that when Dumbledore tells Snape that it referred to a boy born at the end of July, only those who read the books would know where that information came from.
  • 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.

    Video Games 
  • Philosopher's Stone:
    • Every version 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. note 
    • 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 he just "has to take his 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.
    • Also from the sixth generation versions, when Nicolas Flamel is first mentioned, Harry finds the name familiar, but can’t place it. Later on, as in the book, Neville gives Harry a Dumbledore Wizard Card, upon which Harry realises that Flamel sounded familiar due to him being mentioned on said card. The thing is, Harry is never shown getting his original Dumbledore card on the train, and the game treats this as the first time the card is gained, thereby cutting out the part where Harry originally saw the name in the first place.
  • Chamber of Secrets:
    • The PlayStation version 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 this theory is abruptly dropped without explanation.
    • Averted by pure luck in the Game Boy Color version, which has Harry stab Riddle's diary with the Sword of Gryffindor instead of a basilisk fang. As Deathly Hallows would later reveal, the sword can indeed destroy horcruxes after being coated in basilisk venom.
    • Almost every version skips the King's Cross scene, resulting in some really flimsy logic for why Harry and Ron take the car to Hogwarts. In the GameCube/PS2/Xbox version, Ginny and the Malfoys leave Flourish & Blotts in the middle of Gilderoy Lockhart's book signing. Literally ten seconds later, Ron bursts in and reveals that the Hogwarts Express left five minutes ago, which raises all sorts of questions. How did Malfoy, Ginny and every other student in Diagon Alley get to the train in time? Why wouldn't Harry and Ron seek help from their new teacher Lockhart, who is standing right next to them? And where is Mrs Weasley — the one who convinced Harry to go to the book signing in the first place — and why did she leave one of her kids behind? The PC version has the same problem, but there's at least a loading screen between the two scenes which allows for some time to have passed. The PS1 version doesn't even mention that they missed the train — they just take the car with zero explanation.
    • The PC version retains the reveal that the basilisk's gaze can kill people, but skips the part where Harry realises why all the victims were petrified instead. Neither Harry nor Ron seems to notice this contradiction.
    • The 6th generation console version includes a scene from the book (and extended version of the film) where Harry sees Lucius Malfoy selling some items to Mr Borgin. He claims that he wants to get rid of them because the Ministry of Magic is conducting raids and he doesn't want to get caught with anything that could get him in trouble... which apparently includes a spellbook for Lumos, a harmless lighting charm which is taught to first-years.


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