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Fandom Specific Plot / Harry Potter

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Harry Potter fandom has such an enormous fanfiction community, with so many common plotlines, that it's difficult to keep count.

Overpowered Harry:

Often tagged "Independent Harry," "Powerful Harry," or "pureblood culture/society/politics" (no one is sure what to call it), this genre sets up the theory that Dumbledore is a Manipulative Bastard setting Harry up as a sacrifice in order to defeat Voldemort (in more extreme cases with Dumbledore planning to take all the credit afterward). But Harry manages to get emancipated and come into his own, with all the money and political power he needs to thwart both Dumbledore and Riddle.

In better-done takes, Harry must work out who he can trust and what he needs to know in order to save himself before Dumbledore's or Voldemort's plans come to fruition; in more poorly written iterations, Harry effortlessly defangs and counters all opposition, leaving them blinking in stupefaction in his wake.


Common features include:

  • Harry’s real name isn’t, well, "Harry." It is Hadrian or Harrison because a worrying number of people agree with Aunt Petunia that "Harry" is a "nasty, common name" unfit for their super-special, superpowered wizard god. Weirdly, it is never "Henry" or "Harold," the two names that have "Harry" as a nickname.
  • Harry gained legal adulthood and 'full access' to the Potter vaults and seat(s) on the Wizengamot because he's in the Triwizard Tournament, despite the fact that the Triwizard Tournament has included plenty of underaged students before, just this time the school administrators rigged a external age line to keep them out. These fics explain that Harry's current vaults are a trust fund (usually justified by noting that there is only money in Harry's vault while other families store all sorts of thing in theirs).
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  • Harry is "Lord Potter," "Lord Black," "Lord Slytherin," and/or "Lord Peverell". These titles come with multiple hereditary seats on the Wizengamot. Expect the Ministry to be portrayed as much more corrupt in these stories than it is in the books, and because they too hold multiple seats, the Malfoys and any other families are portrayed as evil for doing... exactly what Harry is doing by blungeoning his political opponents with his voting hegemony. A subgenre has Harry discover that he is the Lord and Heir of the Kingdom of Azkaban and that the Ministry owes him several centuries worth of back taxes for using his prison.
  • Ron, and often Hermione or Molly (but always Ron) is revealed to have only befriended Harry at Dumbledore's order. The idea of an eleven year old child pulling off this kind of long-term deception is laughable, and if Hermione is included it reaches the far side of the Gambit Roulette, given how her actual friendship with Harry began. Accordingly, Dumbledore is paying Ron (and any others involved) with money embezzled from Harry's own Gringotts account, which would only increase the odds of Harry finding out the truth. Often learned in the future, and then Harry does a Peggy Sue.
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  • Harry is bound by one or more marriage contracts signed before his birth or in his infancy, requiring him to marry a girl (or girls) he barely knows. Either the girl herself or her family is the villain of the story, and if the girl isn’t the villain, then she is his True Love.
  • It is singled out as suspicious that Molly asks what platform they need to get to for the boys to go to Hogwarts, the reasoning being that Molly wouldn't need to ask as she's sending her sixth child to Hogwarts, so obviously she was planted there to lure Harry into her clutches. The fact that parents all over the world play the Question Game (wherein they ask their children to answer questions the parent already knows the answer to, because the point isn't what the parent knows, but what the child knows) never seems to occur to the authors.
  • Harry gets a 'magical inheritance' that instantly grants him a Superpower Lottery of magical talents and abilities, with no effort involved. Expect him to be a metamorphmagus, an animagus (almost always a dragon or phoenix), and/or have several other skills and 'lost' forms of magic that nobody else in the series has, such as a golden patronus. Sometimes Neville helps out because, coming from a traditional magical family, he knows the secrets of the magical inheritance and because they were born so close together Harry and Neville will go through their "magical inheritance" at the same time.
  • Lily Evans wasn't really a muggle-born. She was secretly a magical creature and/or a descendant of Slytherin/Grindelwald/The Hogwarts Founders/Morgan Le Fey/Atlanteans, and so Harry has some sort of secret inheritance (magical or political) waiting for him by the time he reaches a certain age. Oftentimes Lily was adopted, and she's not even related to Petunia so there was no reason for Dumbledore to place Harry with the Dursleys other than to shape him into a downtrodden puppet.
  • Harry's simple courtesies to the goblins of Gringotts (like remembering Griphook’s name) mark him as uniquely different from the racist bastards that make up the rest of the wizarding world, and they throw all their military and economic power behind him.
  • Harry gets rid of Dudley's hand-me-downs and goes shopping for new clothes, usually at Hot Topic or the local equivalent. He also uses potion-steroids to fix his appearance, give himself a growth spurt, fix his eyesight, and grow his hair long. And he surgically conceals or removes his scar. This renders him unrecognizable to Dumbledore and his (once) closest friends.
  • Harry buys a super-trunk that's Bigger on the Inside and has its own apartment, kitchen, library, potions lab, training room, and Quidditch field. Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them outright confirms this as a viable concept with Newt Scamander’s briefcase.
  • Harry reasons that since simple spells they learn in class like Wingardium Leviosa can be deadly he's justified in learning the Dark Arts and spells that eviscerate people. Alternatively, Harry argues that no spell is truly dark, even the Unforgivables that require the caster enjoy killing, controlling, or torturing their victim.
  • Harry gets a magical/super-special-awesome snake familiar to act as his spy/mentor/confidant.
  • Harry gets a new (super) wand or staff, usually made with basilisk parts.
  • Expect Harry to end up with Hermione, Luna, or a Slytherin girl who was only mentioned once in seven books, usually O.C. Stand-in Daphne Greengrass. Or all of them at once. Along with vast amounts of money and a dozen vaults and countless houses around the world!
  • Harry returns for his next year at Hogwarts after being trained by Elves/Demons/Vampires/Goblins/Time Lords and has powers far more advanced than anyone in the school. (Why these people chose to train him can vary between "no explanation given" to "he's Lord of the Vampires.") Staples include limitless shapeshifting, wandless/wordless magic, "almost Unforgivable" curses, fluency in a secret language and floating runes. They almost always follow the plot of a canon book, but Harry has escaped Dumbledore's yoke and therefore solves each problem with his new powers while hiding his real potential.
  • Ron and Hermione inexplicably turn against Harry after fifth year, and he is forced to rely on new allies and come into his own with all the aforementioned political and magical power he didn't even knew he had.
  • Harry is framed for some horrendous crime and is imprisoned in Azkaban. Eventually he is either cleared or escapes, but not before the experience grants him an immense powerup, which he mostly uses to enact his revenge on those who betrayed or framed him, as well as defeat Voldemort (if the two aren't one and the same). All of his friends will turn on him, including Sirius, and often one of them will kill Hedwig and rip up his photo album, then laugh about it afterwards. (In other words, The Count of Monte Cristo with Harry Potter characters!)

Abusive Dursleys:

In these fanfics, Harry's abusive childhood is usually treated more seriously than in the books. Expect rape to occur. This level of abuse will not be retconned as having been happening all along. Instead, it will start when Harry is a grown teenager with wizard friends and a supposedly murderous godfather.

Usually, Harry arrives back at Privet Drive for the summer and, for whatever reason, the Dursleys immediately decide to start beating/raping him. Sometimes the catalyst is Moody's threats at the end of the fifth book, with Vernon developing a "they can't tell me what to do" attitude in response. Expect the story to begin In Medias Res, with a beaten Harry thinking back on how different the Dursleys have been this summer.

Fics where the abuse is retconned have become more common. Often starting when Harry is an infant, and often to the point where broken bones are a common result. Harry being skin and bones due to starvation (despite the books explicitly stating the Dursleys never let him starve) is common, too. The fic will rarely address how this hasn't stunted Harry's growth, or how no one has managed to notice until now.

  • Vernon is entirely responsible for the abuse. Petunia and Dudley will be mentioned so little you'd think Vernon and Harry were the only people living in the house. If Petunia and Dudley do participate in the abuse, they'll essentially be Vernon's minions. Alternatively, Petunia has a Heel–Face Turn.
  • Harry is given an impossible list of chores, which he is beaten/raped for failing to complete.
  • Harry is once again forced to live in the cupboard under the stairs.
  • Vernon brutally kills Hedwig so Harry can't contact the wizarding world for help.
  • Harry is rescued by someone, usually Snape. Thus, the abuse may be setup for a Hurt/Comfort Fic. Alternatively, it's setup for an Evil Dumbledore fanfic.
  • The Dursleys' treatment of Harry sickens even Voldemort.
  • Despite being a grown teenager who has faced Voldemort several times, Harry can suddenly be bullied, abused, and intimidated as easily as if he were a helpless five-year-old. Harry never saves himself in these stories — he either dies tragically or gets to be someone else's damsel-in-distress. In stories where Harry does save himself from the Dursleys, he'll beat the Dursleys into submission the second they lay a finger on him and therefore no abuse against Harry ever actually happens.
  • Because of the abuse, Harry has Dissociative Identity Disorder.
  • Occasionally there will be an inversion where Petunia is actually the more abusive and horrible and Vernon will be the more reasonable one — this is usually triggered if Harry returns home wounded and Vernon actually manages a modicum of sympathy and human decency (or much more rarely Vernon somehow grows a conscience or just went along with it for years because he didn't want to upset his wife). Vernon puts a stop to the abuse and in more extreme versions moves Harry and Dudley out of the house to get away from Petunia and Vernon gets both Dudley and Harry training in martial arts and/or firearms, ignoring the fact that Britain had fairly strict firearms laws from 1988 onwards and some of the strictest in the world (you can get 20 years in prison for just pretending to have an illegal gun) from 1997 onwards. The latter is significant because while the HP series technically ends in 1998, fanfic authors frequently update it to the present day.
  • With the introduction of obscurials from the Fantastic Beasts movies, many fics explore the possibility of Harry becoming an obscurial from the abuse. Cases range from Harry turning into a walking Angst Nuke, or him learning to harness the obscurus and boost his power.

Other Canon Era Plots:

  • Harry Is Raised Differently: For whatever reason, Harry ends up not being abused exactly like the books portray, even in cases where he's still with the Dursleys, which results in him having a totally different personality come Hogwarts. This may be justified by his Naïve Newcomer status in canon, or just using Harry as an OC stand-in; a number of these fics have Harry becoming a invoked Marty Stu, but it's not universal. Sometimes it's not a good thing; Harry ends up as fat and nasty as Dudley and has to suffer major personality changes to be kind enough at the end to face Voldemort.
  • "The Late To Hogwarts Fic," in which a young wizard or witch doesn't get their invitation to Hogwarts at age 11, or is unable to go, until later age (usually when romantic plots would be more okay, so from fourth year up) — the other way is to introduce a transfer student (who's usually from the same country/general area and of the same background as the author, and is very similar to them in all aspects, only better). The latter type has the added benefit of 1) making up a new, totally awesome wizarding school 2) enabling the character to have a unique, totally cool wand 3) creating an explanation for unseen-in-Britain, totally super magic 4) allowing the character to have an inherited katana 5) being an Obvious Crossover Method. Details not tying into the character's origins and entrance into Hogwarts usually follow the normal self-insert/wish-fulfillment procedure. The upcoming video game Hogwarts Legacy is using this plot but its developers have already said it's not to be considered a canon work.
  • 'Remus is cured of being a werewolf', or less commonly 'the Longbottoms are healed'. Often via a potion invented by Snape.
  • Neville and the gum wrappers his mum gives him. Sometimes he finds a secret meaning to them, sometimes he starts giving things back which slowly heals his parents, but often he just muses on them.
  • A distant (in terms of blood or just geography) relative discovers their connection to Harry, and rescues/adopts/comes to the aid of Harry. Again, fodder for crossovers.
  • After Voldemort wins (or worse, after a Pyrrhic Victory over Voldemort that leaves Wizarding England a depopulated wasteland), Harry goes back in time in some way to his school days so that he can use his foreknowledge to craft a better outcome. Occasionally a different character will do so. (A Very Potter Sequel has a kind of reversed version of this, with the bad guys trying this to undo the happy ending.)
  • The Head Boy and Girl's share a suite of rooms, providing lots of forced interaction to fuel sexual tension. Used for Seventh Year Harry/Hermione and Ron/Hermione fics, Hermione/Draco Foe Yay, and even fics with a invoked Mary Sue or Gary Stu paired with Harry, Ron, Hermione, or Draco, and originated with the once-popular Percy/Penelope ship. Most oddly, this is so codified that it seems to have been forgotten that the Head Boy and Girl are actually supposed to be top students. Instead, fanfiction makes it look like the selection of Head Boy and Girl is completely random. No one ever even wonders any more "How did Draco Malfoy get to be Head Boy?" This device also turns up a lot in Lily/James fics as well as fics set in the Next Generation (usually with Rose/Scorpius).
  • The Yule Ball is restaged despite there being no Triwizard Tournament, sometimes with a Handwave and sometimes without. Hilarity and romantic hijinks ensue. Oh-so common before Order of the Phoenix — even The Draco Trilogy used it at one point. Apparently, it took the release of Phoenix for fanfic writers to finally grasp that the Yule Ball is not something that happens every year. Even Potter Puppet Pals used this years after Phoenix when Snape writes in his diary about being at the Yule Ball with Lily Evans, although he was describing a dream he had had.
  • There's a school class which pairs the characters to learn how to be grown-ups, normally by making them live together as a married couple in the Room of Requirement, take care of a magically created baby, and (of course) fall in love. Because putting hormonally fuelled teenagers together, and making a child you plan to delete in a couple of months, isn't morally wrong. At all.
  • Hermione, Ginny, or a invoked Mary Sue becomes a maid in Malfoy Manor. Where Draco lives. Do you see where this is going?
  • Harry's real father is Severus Snape, not James Potter (despite canon repeatedly saying that Harry looks almost exactly like his father did at the same age. Sometimes this is Handwaved, more often it's just ignored.) Like the Marriage Law fic, it was initially popularized by a challenge. These fics are often called Severitus fics, after the Severitus Challenge, which was issued in 2001 by, you guessed it, Severitus. The original challenge called for Harry's appearance to gradually change to resemble Snape's over the course of the fic, with the idea being that his original appearance was the result of a potion/glamour/whatever. (They also called for Remus to come back to Hogwarts at some point.) The challenge was extremely popular, and the name stuck even after people started to drop some of the requirements. The usual explanation is one of the following: (1) Lily really loved Snape despite him being a muggle-hating Death Eater whose ideology drove them apart; (2) James never grew up and his immaturity drove Lily to have an affair; (3) James couldn't have children and Lily asked her friend to do them a favor; (4) James, Lily, and Severus were in a secret threesome relationship and Harry was their secret potion-baby; or (5) any number of inane ideas that completely ignore canon.
  • One of the male characters is temporarily/permanently turned into a girl. Expect no explanation for why re-applying the same spell wouldn't change him/her back. Often leads to the literary equivalent of a Shopping Montage after which the story turns into a Dead Fic since the writer inevitably didn't have much of an idea beyond "let's make Harry/Ron/Draco/Sirius/the giant squid a girl!" Alternatively this is done to pair him with another male character without it being a Slash Fic.
  • Ron the Death Eater, a situation so common it became the Trope Namer for the entire general phenomenon: Ron is so jealous and resentful of Harry that he spontaneously does a Face–Heel Turn. Often a result of Harry/Hermione shippers wanting Ron to Die for Our Ship. Alternately Ginny's been dosing the pair with Love Potion to steal Harry's money and fame. Or Hermione's the one doing it.
  • Most of the Tom/Ginny fics written by those shippers who don't mind the many, many squicky elements of the pairing can be summed up as "Tom Riddle has sex with Ginny in the Chamber of Secrets before Harry shows up".
  • Following Order of the Phoenix, Harry spends the summer with (insert female character here), they fall in love, (and usually have sex) with each other very quickly.
    • Should she be Hermione, there will be another prophecy that The Power Of Their Love will defeat Voldemort, and Ron and/or Ginny are changed or turned evil to remove them as Love Interests.
    • Should she be Tonks, she is assigned to guard Harry and quickly grows sympathetic to his guilt and sadness over Sirius's death. Within the two months before going back to begin his sixth year, they'll have completely fallen in love. The fact that she is seven years older than him is often (understandably) brought up by every other character, that is if Harry and Tonks aren't seeing each other in secret.
  • Harry actually didn't save Ginny when he destroyed Riddle's diary. She was actually still evil, but didn't let on. This can go two ways. In the unsympathetic route, this becomes Ginny The Death Eater. And then there's the sympathetic route, which amounts to "Ginny's evil, but that's all right because Evil Is Sexy and now she can be Tom's queen." (The latter type nearly always finds a way to revert Voldemort back to his Riddle-era good looks.)
  • There is a theme of having a 'true prophecy', usually ending in a Dark Harry or God-like Harry story.
  • Someone (usually Snape) is turned back into a baby or a small child. He then must be cared for by the other characters or, in some cases, one character in particular. All in an effort to make Snape cuddly.
  • In the course of the second task of the Triwizard Tournament, Gabrielle Delacour bonds to Harry and becomes for all magical and legal purposes his wife. Fortunately, due to the vagaries of Veela biology she is not actually the eight-year-old she appears to be, and shortly thereafter undergoes a perfectly normal delayed and accelerated puberty that leaves her physically at her real age of 14 or so. Can be found in both Harry/Gabrielle shipping stories and Harry/Harem stories.
  • Matchmaker Dumbledore. Wise, old Dumbledore understands how right the author's One True Pairing is and becomes a Shipper on Deck, dropping irrelevant concerns like killing Voldemort. After all, if Dumbledore says Draco and Ginny should be together, then obviously it must be true, right? Naturally, never combined with Manipulative Dumbledore because manipulation which brings about the author's OTP is obviously good. Often leads to the "Head Boy and Girl's private quarters" plot.
  • In "Sirius lives/is saved" fics, he and Harry will almost certainly team up to become gentlemen thieves who steal from the Death Eaters and purity-obsessed families to better the wizarding world... and go from wealthy to more money than a god. Often combined with the Harem fics.
  • During the Three Year Summer, it was common to see Arabella Figg turn up as the new Defense Against the Dark Arts teacher, typically with a portrayal as the most badass Cool Old Lady ever. After Order of the Phoenix established she was a Muggle Born of Mages, this plot died a quick death.
  • There's a sect of uber-powerful magical people who basically are to wizards what wizards are to Muggles. They're called Magids in The Draco Trilogy, the Strega in Pawn To Queen, and the Druids in The Girl Who Lived, but it's all the same basic idea. The Strega and the Druids are especially similar, sharing Can't Argue with Elves and Author Filibuster tendencies. The idea of a 'double witch' is mocked in Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality, as a wish fulfillment fantasy for young witches and wizards who want to have "special magical powers". Hermione realized at this point that witches and wizards don't really seem to appreciate their powers at all.
  • One of the characters (usually Harry or Draco or Hermione) become an animagus or are transfigured into an animal, and hide in plain sight as another character's pet (usually Harry or Draco or Hermione). Often a character is turned into a snake so only a parselmouth can understand them.
  • The Dursleys dump Harry in the woods as a toddler and he's raised by snakes, grows up only knowing parseltongue, and becomes an accidental snake animagus. Usually a set up for Manipulative Dumbledore, Dark Harry, and for Voldemort to Pet The Snake.
  • The "what if Voldemort won?" fic. This leads to a Dark Fic set in the bleak Dystopia he has created, but all too often it's just an excuse to set up a kinky Lemon in which Hermione is forced to be Draco's Sex Slave or somesuch. Post-Deathly Hallows, the non-lemon versions tend to instead take place during that book when Voldemort did win for certain values of the term, but not permanently.
  • Diary fics where the diary writes back, like Tom Riddle's. Sometimes this is for a villain's own nefarious purposes, like it was in the one canon example, but sometimes they rely on the premise that these diaries are as normal in the wizarding world as portraits that talk. Imagine the advertising for that. 'Hi there, parents. I'd like to put my memories in this book, to live under your daughter's pillow and have her tell me all her secrets, and I'd advise her what to do!'
  • A common one is to introduce a invoked Mary Sue with an additional prophecy. This prophecy usually concerns whether Draco sides with Voldemort or Dumbledore, how only she can guide him in this choice, and how Harry's prophecy is entirely dependent on this one. Expect the prophecy to only use vague terms about "light" and "dark" and animal imagery (Draco is usually the "Dragon," while the Mary Sue is normally the "Phoenix"), despite the fact that the original prophecy didn't bother with obscuring imagery.
  • Salazar Slytherin is Sealed Evil in a Can and the can gets opened. This usually occurs when a fanfic takes place after the defeat of Voldemort and the author needs a new Big Bad. Salazar Slytherin in these fics is often just Voldemort with a different name, right down to recruiting former Death Eaters as his followers. The Draco Trilogy is probably the Trope Codifier or even the Trope Maker for this plot. Hogwarts Exposed used it too. And that statue of Salazar in the chamber isn't really a statue but the result of an accident from a misplaced engorgio charm and accidentally looking into the eyes of his own basilisk. Needless to say, authors conveniently forget that looking into the eyes of a basilisk leads to death, unless you've got a Contrived Coincidence on your side.
  • There's quite a few fics where the Hogwarts students take a mandatory trip to the U.S. Sometimes they're visiting a wizarding school in the States, and other times it's just a plain old Muggle school. Later canon has mostly killed the former off as we now know there’s only one wizarding school in North America, Illvermorny, which a handful of the Fantastic Beasts attended.
  • Everywhere Else Is Full: A common trope in both the original books and fan fiction. Whoever gets top dibs on Hogwarts Express compartments, it's not main characters. Inevitably, Everywhere Else Is Full, so they'll have to share a compartment with Plot Relevant Character. In the original series, this trope is used to introduce Ron in the first book, Lupin in the third book, and Luna in the fifth book. The exact words "everywhere else is full" are actually spoken by Ron in the first book/movie and by Hermione in the third movie (not the book version). In the world of fan fiction, it's pretty much reached the level of Share Phrase.
  • People who would do a better job at raising Harry Potter than the Dursleys according to fanfiction: 1) Sirius and Remus, 2) McGonagall, 3) The Longbottoms, 4) His not-so dead parents 5) Crossover characters, 6) Random OCs, 7) Wild Animals, 8) Severus Snape, 9) The Malfoys, 10) Barty Crouch Jr. (a.k.a. the Tenth Doctor), 11) The Lestranges, 12) Kreacher and/or Regulus Black 13) Voldemort, 14) Dementors, 15) The Legions of Hell, 16) Himself. The only person who the fandom agrees would be worse would be Umbridge. These fics tend to ignore the fact that the blood protection was activated by Petunia's act of taking Harry in, however reluctantly; they prevented any Death Eaters from finding Harry while he was a child (considering Bellatrix Lestrange was still on the loose, this was a serious danger); that the protection is what stopped Quirrell from killing him in the first book; and that it is implied that Voldemort using his blood to get around the blood protections is what stopped him from being able to kill Harry in the Forest. And these fanfiction writers never bother attempting to explain why Voldemort didn't simply walk in and kill him, if the protections did nothing.
  • Instead of trying to kill Harry on that fateful night Voldemort kidnaps him and raises him as his own son, training him to become a weapon against the light. Despite the fact that, as noted on the Fanon page, there is no such concept of "Light" and "Dark" in the actual books!
  • Adult Harry is sent back in time to the 1940s to raise young Tom Riddle and give him a loving home so that he won't become Voldemort.
  • Blaise Zabini and his mother are vampires or Horny Devils.
  • Tom Riddle is a cambion.
  • Draco Malfoy is a vampire. Or an elf or a male Veela...
  • Blaise Zabini is a fair-skinned Italian girl who is frequently shipped with Harry.
  • Cedric is a vampire—more specifically Edward Cullen from Twilight.
  • Snape is a vampire. He even looks like one!
  • The bleak Dark Fic Bad Future in which it turns out Voldemort was rightMuggles Are The Real Monsters and are going to destroy the world and the Peggy Sue plot to stop it.
  • In fanfic a common plot will have The Reveal be that the Potters were historically a Dark family, only getting a Light reputation in recent generations for their stance against ultra evil Dark Lords like Voldemort and Grindelwald and have a long tradition of being necromancers going back to the Peverell brothers and their bargain with Death (hence the surname, Potter, for someone that plays in the dirt and it sounds nicer than "the Undertakers") and Harry will often pursue his necromancer heritage in order to bring back Sirius.
  • Voldemort's daughter. Became a case of Ascended Fanon.
  • Voldemort/Tom Riddle (usually in horcrux form, most commonly the diary or the scarcrux) secretly mentors Harry leading him to join the dark side and helps him to either get away from the Dursleys and/or put the filthy muggles in their place. Interestingly, this is part of the plot in Alan Moore's League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, where Voldemort (actually another villain has taken over Voldemort's body) has become headmaster of Hogwarts and Harry grows up to be a psychopath.
  • Harry merges with the horcrux and his personality does a complete 180. There will frequently be physical changes as well.
  • Harry helps Neville (and sometimes Ron but always Neville) replace his hand-me-down wand and get one that actually works for him. In canon, Ron gets his own wand at the beginning of the third book, and Neville gets his at the beginning of the sixth.
  • Luna is a seer and knows all if you can only understand what the hell she's saying.
  • Lord Voldemort (somehow) finds a way to restore the good looks of his youth after decades of being a bald, pale, red-eyed monstrosity. This usually turns up in fics where he turns good and hooks up with someone (usually Harry), because let's face it: No one wants to make out with a red-eyed snake-face. Sometimes this will be justified with a Retcon that it wasn't the Dark Arts that destroyed his appearance but Voldemort is a metamorphagus or partial-snake animagus and he's looking like that on purpose so that his followers will deify him as a more-than-human Lord of the Dark. And because it's kind of hard to rule by fear when everyone's drooling over you (or he may have done it in an attempt to dissuade Bellatrix.)
  • Lucius Malfoy being in the Board of Governors even after being kicked out of it at the end of Chamber of Secrets. Particularly bad examples show him in the Board even during sixth year, when in canon he was either in Azkaban or an escaped felon at the time. He is also a Wizengamot member, even after Order of the Phoenix established he was not.
  • Nagini is somehow able to smell that Harry is a horcrux and tells Voldemort.
  • Hedwig is a white/snow phoenix in disguise, or becomes one if she dies.
  • The "owl, cat, or toad" rule is more of a guideline since Ron kept a rat and Lee Jordan had a tarantula. Some maintain you can bring any animal to Hogwarts as long as it's your bonded familiar. Even though the pets are literally pets and not familiars (which according to Pottermore, don't exist in the Potterverse), with Mrs Norris ironically being the closest to a familiar in the series.
  • For some reason Death sends Harry back in time to do things right this time. This is actually due to a challenge by [Reptilia28] who appears to have become dissatisfied with the challenge though, since the plots 'seem to blur together into one giant mass'
  • The Dursleys leave Harry at an Orphanage of Fear and so his personality changes to become more like a young Tom Riddle.
  • Because Sirius died by falling through the veil, he's Only Mostly Dead and can be brought back, generally by Harry and/or Lupin. He often comes back with a touch of some kind of Resurrection Sickness, often making him rather poorly and even moodier than usual, making it into a bit of a Hurt/Comfort Fic.
  • The Veil is actually just a portal to another universe. Fodder for Crossovers. Especially Star Wars crossovers.
  • The Veil doesn't actually kill, but causes Mental Time Travel, usually to 1991. Popularized by Oh God Not Again!, despite it being a parody of the very idea.
  • Neville is actually a Lestrange who was kidnapped by Frank and Alice during the first war because the Lestranges are Dark and that's why the Lestranges tortured Alice and Frank into insanity. There is a "Harfang Longbottom" on the Black Family Tree so it is possible that Neville is related to Bellatrix, albeit distantly.
  • A minor post-Order of the Phoenix subplot is McGonagall suddenly realizing, or someone pointing it out to her, that Harry tried to complain about the Blood Quill Umbridge was forcing him to use, but she ignored him and told Harry to "keep your head down". In the books, McGonagall tells Harry to keep quiet before the detentions started, and Harry never complained about the Blood Quill to anyone (he thought that telling would mean showing Umbridge that he "broke").
  • The so-called "Potter Curse" is that all Potter men will have dark, untameable hair, and fall in love with a red-haired, smart woman. Fans use this to ensure people will know Ginny is his True Love (at least, in their stories).
  • There are 'creature fics' where Harry (or Draco, or Hermione) is suddenly revealed to be a Half-Human Hybrid and will come into his 'creature inheritance' at age sixteen. Expect no explanation for why hybrid traits would suddenly appear on one's birthday rather than the character being born with them, as happened in canon with Hagrid (half-giant) and presumably Flitwick (Goblin ancestry).
  • In many, many shipping fics detention in Snape's vocabulary is practically synonym with "date". Never mind that the student involved (usually Hermione) is underage and, you know, his student. If Dumbledore does find out, he is sympathetic to the Power of Love anyway, and the student's friends are outraged merely because it's Snape, that greasy git, and not because of dull things like legal and ethical issues.
  • The United States will usually be seen as a land where blood prejudice and other restrictive elements from Magical Britain (such as the law forbidding teenagers from using magic out of school) are missing. Of course, this was before Pottermore and Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them showed that the Magical United States are even more restrictive about this than Britain.
  • Some fanfics mix the book and movie canons, albeit probably unknowingly part of the time. This is particularly common with character quirks which only appeared in the films, such as Hermione referring to Ron as "Ronald" when she's displeased with him. Fanfiction generally assumes Hogwarts students wear the uniforms used in the movies. Fanfic particularly includes the House ties from the movies, despite the books making no mention of them and their presence making several canon scenes impossible.
  • Stories in which the author lets out their frustrations on Umbridge are very common, and even fics where this isn't the main focus will sometimes have it as a subplot. These will often take cues from the state of the castle following Fred and George's grand exit from the school in canon, but drawn out for the entire year. Common variants include:
    • Pulling pranks on Umbridge without leaving any evidence to determine who's behind it, turning her into The Paranoiac. Gaslighting is common.
    • Forcing her to deal with a character who's too stubborn to submit to her bullying, and have her grow increasingly desperate in her attempts to put them in line.
    • Having a Rules Lawyer who beats her at her own game. If Umbridge tries to change the rules, they'll inevitably find some loophole or higher law that invalidates the rule she just made. Bonus points if they employ this method to have her removed from her position and/or thrown in Azkaban.
    • All of the above.
  • There are quite a few fanfics about Hermione ending up in Scabior's captivity during Deathly Hallows. He either doesn't take her to Malfoy Manor or whisks her out of it later on. The plot, as a rule, follows one of the following routes: a) he rapes her but she escapes by killing him; b) he rapes her and she develops Stockholm Syndrome; c) he really falls in love with her and makes a Heel–Face Turn; d) he really falls in love with her and, as it turns out, wasn't that evil to begin with.
  • Stories where House Elves must be bonded to witches/wizards or they lose their magic and die. Especially ones were elves are essentially magical leaches who do work in exchange for magic. Usually to show how foolish Hermione is in wanting House Elves to be free from slavery.

Alternate Universes:

  • "Reading the Books" stories are common, and the usual target of the books are the Marauders and Lily (with or without Peter) who then proceed to do an MST. Other variations include Umbridge reading them out to the entire Great Hall in the canon era, Snape reading them and realising he misunderstood Harry all along, or having the entire Order read them during Order of the Phoenix, etc.
  • There is a subgenre as well where the characters read out fanfiction, including classics like My Immortal (here and Becoming Female (here).
  • The gang, whole or in part, time-travels, usually to the tenth century (Founders-era), 1930s/40s (Riddle-era), or 1970s/80s (MWPP-era), although they sometimes travel back to their own pasts.
  • Harry (and sometimes other characters) travels to the founders' era, and Harry becomes either Godric Gryffindor or Salazar Slytherin. If he didn't come alone, his companions will become the other three founders.
  • Stories in which Hermione alone is sent back in time for some reason and invariably falls in love with Remus or Sirius or Snape used to be very popular circa 2005 to early 2007, but have since all but vanished. (It's not a bad concept, as long as that's not all that happens. Hell, Voldemort had been working on his power base for almost thirty years by the Marauder Era.)
  • A (usually) female character is sent back in time to redeem Tom Riddle with sex. This probably started as a way for Tom/Ginny shippers to get around the whole him-being-future-Voldemort thing, but now it's done almost as often with Hermione. And, of course, it was also done with a certain invoked Mary Sue in My Immortal.
  • Harry is the reincarnation of Salazar Slytherin, with all the memory-access, skill-acquisition, and personality-adjustments commonly implied in Reincarnation Fanfic. Often used with Tall, Dark, and Snarky Slytherin who wasn't really a racist prick. Existence of basilisk is justified or handwaved. Sometimes it's Harry alone, sometimes three other students are the other three founders. Expect Hermione to be Ravenclaw and Ron to be Gryffindor (unless it's a Ron the Death Eater fic). Hufflepuff varies, but is usually Ginny, so the writer can maintain the canon couples. Often borrows pieces of the Founders' Heirs plot, where four people, usually including Harry, are direct descendants of the Founders and get special magical skills/talents/powers due to said heritage.
  • Harry/Draco stories invented the Male Veela Fic. May be stretched to apply to other pairings. Within the Male!Veela Fic, it's not uncommon for Veela Draco to have a predetermined mate (and it's always called a "mate"). These seem to focus more on Hermione or a new character, either way, she'll put up token resistance before realizing how awesome and sexy Draco is. Predetermined mates can also come up as part of being a werewolf, vampire, elf, etc. or as the result of becoming an animagus. As a bonus, when Harry (or whoever is the "mate") is really not interested in Draco and/or actually smells some sort of plot behind this sudden interest, there will be an ancient law that forces him to accept this situation, and everyone he knows will turn their back on him for not accepting the glorious position of "subordinate". This, in the notoriously racist pureblood-centric society of Magical Britain.
  • Harry is sorted into Slytherin, Hufflepuff or Ravenclaw instead of Gryffindor. Slytherin is by far the most common, probably due to almost being canon if not for Harry pleading with the Hat to put him anywhere else. Expect Draco to be Harry's best friend while most of the Gryffindors, especially Ron, are dumb jocks at best and outright evil at worst. And his personality does a complete 180. An alternative is having Slytherin Harry wrestle with Draco Malfoy over control of the house, usually involving humiliation or a magical fight.
  • Hermione finds out that she's an adopted pure-blood and, of course, drops her adoptive family like a hot potato in favour of the new, improved version. Her new family will invariably be aristocratic and on the same social plane as the Malfoys, often resulting in her befriending Draco if not romancing him. Her newfound wealth, especially the clothing, will be described in loving detail. She will get a complete personality transplant, sometimes with the added feature of an Unnecessary Makeover, causing her to abandon her old friends and more critical reviewers to wonder why the author didn't just use an Original Character. If she's shipped with Draco, there's a good chance it's the result of a marriage contract. Occasionally she's revealed to be Draco's twin sister, in which case, she's usually paired with Blaise Zabini. Along with her newfound pure-blood heritage often comes a set of magical powers surpassing anything in canon and sometimes flatly contradicting it, such as her being an Animagus able to transform into any kind of animal.
  • "Marriage law fics"
    • In response to the medical finding that Purebloods have become so inbred that they have reduced fertility rates and/or are likely to give birth to Squibs, the Ministry of Magic establishes a Marriage Law which forces Muggleborns (and sometimes half-bloods) to marry pure-bloods. Often the law is actually a ploy enacted by Voldemort supporters/sympathisers still in power to punish or neutralise the heroes of the second Voldemort uprising. Used to end up pairing Hermione with Snape (since the concept originated as a fanfic-writing challenge on a Snape/Hermione mailing list), but sometimes includes other pairings. Since then, Draco has become the most common. Despite Snape being a half-blood, prior to Half Blood Prince it wouldn't have been entirely unreasonable, given Snape's former Death Eater status, to assume he was a pureblood. The Marriage Law theme originated during that time period and just kept going after being Jossed.
    • If he isn't ignored entirely, addressing how Hermione already marries a pureblood has its own common explanations, either Ron insisting that she pump out endless babies just like his mother, Ron suddenly turning evil, or "Ron marrying Hermione to protect her from Draco's marriage contract would make the Malfoys REALLY MAD! Only Snape is strong enough to protect her!"... which doesn't really make any sense. Harry, being not technically Pureblood, is not an option. Sometimes worse options are brought up as possibilities.
    • Some Marriage Law fics state that partners will be chosen by the government. One fic even included a statute that the marriage must be proven consummated within a certain window of time.
    • This scenario often involves Hermione's extensive use of the Time Turner in book three making her half-a-year or more older, to make her old enough to qualify for being forced into marriage. (Forgetting/Ignoring that this is kind-of cancelled out by the time she spent petrified in Chamber of Secrets, and that she was only allowed to use it to attend classes that clashed with others (Divination and Muggle Studies), which adds up to two weeks at most.)
    • A 'Marriage Stone' declares two people as 'soul mates'. From there they must be married and live together in private quarters. Bonus points if they hate each other.
  • "Wrong Boy-Who-Lived": Harry has a sibling (usually a twin; the timeline doesn't work very well otherwise), and they're the real Boy/Girl/Child-Who-Lived. Alternately, the twin is hailed as the X-Who-Lived, while Harry is both the real Boy-Who-Lived and ignored. Frequently in this scenario Harry runs away from home and Voldemort finds and adopts him almost immediately, treats him far better than his previous parents/caretakers, and is like the best evil dad ever.
  • A Role Swap AU, where Neville Longbottom is the Boy-Who-Lived. Given that the possibility is explicitly mentioned by Dumbledore and that Harry at one point hypothesizes what such a world would be like, it's not entirely surprising that authors have jumped on it.
  • Harry's parents are still alive but Dumbledore still dumped him at the Dursleysfor the greater good, of course (there are charms in canon to erase memories with great precision and manufacture new ones).
  • Harry and Ginny (or Harry and Hermione, or Harry, Hermione and Ginny, or Harry and Luna, or Harry/Anyone, or Harry/Everyone) discover they have a Soul Bond linking their hearts in eternal Twoo Wuv and their magical cores in eternal badass. Often ties into the "mate" concept listed above.
  • Hermione (either alone or with her love interest) goes to Australia to retrieve her memory-wiped parents and complications arise. Sometimes Hermione's parents don't regain their memories, continue living as the "Wilkins", and have another daughter named "Hermione". The older Hermione becomes friends with her parents in order to help them regain their memories without revealing the truth to them.
  • Hermione is sorted into Slytherin. She usually ends up befriending Draco (which often leads into romance).
  • Semi-common are joke fanfics about Hermione's first period.

Pre-Canon Era:

  • The "Founders Fic" is a whole Harry Potter sub-genre unto itself.
    • Predictably, depending on the author's house preferences, Gryffindor and Slytherin are either Idiot Hero or The Cape and either Smug Snake or Tall, Dark, and Snarky, respectively. Often they're best friends who have a falling-out. Ravenclaw is typically a beautiful Brainy Brunette and sometimes a Rich Bitch. Hufflepuff is blond and is a motherly, closer-to-Earth farm-girl type. Several of these things turned out to be canon in one way or another, but they're all older than their respective confirmations in the books. You would be hard-pressed to find just one fic where all four of them are portrayed as scholars who could reasonably found a school.
    • Salazar Slytherin actually left the basilisk as a weapon of last resort to protect the school from witch hunters or Vikings raids or something and it was only his descendants that twisted its purpose.
    • Gryffindor and Slytherin were much closer than history remembers but their relationship wasn't accepted by their peers and Slytherin chose to leave in order to preserve Godric's reputation seeing as he was already cast as the villain for being "Dark" and a Parselmouth.
    • The books have confirmed that Godric and Salazar were actually friends, and that they were on friendly terms with Hufflepuff and Ravenclaw. At some point, the four founders did indeed have a falling out, but it's not made explicitly clear what caused the rift, nor if it was a case that Salazar Slytherin had turned on the other three or if it might have started as all out conflict between the four. The books state that Salazar ultimately left the other three behind, and was not seen again. So there is a basis for the idea of the Founders having originally been friends before something ended up Breaking the Fellowship.
  • Gellert Grindelwald is often mentioned with Hitler (the parallels between them are very much intentional) and other muggle dictators.
  • Turns out the Marauders weren't the real pranksters of Hogwarts. Oh no, it was Lily and her band of female friends, who were Just As Good As The Guys If Not Better. Usually, the group includes a beautiful, loud and popular girl and a soft-spoken and bookish smart girl, who are paired with Sirius and Remus respectively.
    • Before Order of the Phoenix revealed more about Arabella Figg she was often portrayed as Lily's best friend and Sirius's love interest. This role has since been given to Marlene McKinnon due to the fact that little is known about her other than the fact that she died in the First War and Lily cried all night upon learning about her death, thus making her a popular choice as an O.C. Stand-in.
  • The Marauder Era:
    • The Marauder's are usually depicted as pranksters.
    • Depending on the writer's taste, they will either focus on Lily/James (who will inevitably have Belligerent Sexual Tension) or Remus/Sirius.
    • Peter is often ignored or has only a small role.
    • A number of fanfic authors have Sirius/Serious puns, with "You're not Serious"/"Sirius is my godfather" as an example.
    • There is also a sub-type of Marauder fics that crosses over with the "Too Late for Hogwarts" plot: a female character (usually a Mary Sue and Self-Insert) is new at Hogwarts, immediatly befriends the Marauders as well as Lily, helps getting Lily and James together, and, depending on who the writer has a crush on, gets together with either Sirius or Remus.

Post-Canon Era:

  • Dudley having a magical child (an idea Rowling considered herself, but decided against).


  • A character from another series reincarnates as Harry Potter, typically with all of said character's memories and skills.
  • Harry will be the child of/raised by a character from another canon. This is usually done to give Harry special powers which almost invariably end up making him a hypercompetent genius Chick Magnet (cue Harem) and pretty much make him Harry in name only, as well as bash characters and aspects of the Potterverse that the Author doesn't like. Ron the Death Eater is frequently involved. Harry Potter And The Invincible Technomage, for instance, plays this straight as an arrow. Child of the Storm, by contrast, was explicitly designed to subvert the hell out of all of the above.
  • In a crossover with Doctor Who, two things will happen — the Doctor will be suprised by Hermione's Time Turner, and if the Doctor is in his tenth incarnation, he will be mistaken for Barty Crouch Jr.
  • The "Hogwarts AU". Basically a Transplanted Character Fic where the characters from another fandom are simply plopped into the Harry Potter setting (and usually de-aged). Expect the main characters of the Harry Potter verse to be in the background, if they're around at all.
  • There are a truly enormous amount of fanfics where Percy Jackson and/or his friends come to teach or study at Hogwarts.
  • There's a common theme of Harry, having united the Deathly Hallows, assuming the mantle of Master of Death. He then proceeds to travel to whichever crossover the story takes place in, either attempting to take a break from his responsibilities only to end up in a Busman's Holiday, or trying remove the Hallows from reality only to discover they are ClingyMacGuffins of the worst kind. While there he either discovers/reveals that he has the traits of Complete Immortality or some sort of power boost that comes from holding the Hallows, whichever is needed to balance his abilities with whatever universe he ends up in.
  • In any crossover with a Fighting Series where the protagonists possess superhuman strength, odds are high that Dumbledore will try to recruit them to help in the fight against Voldemort. This most often occurs during fifth year, bonus points if the characters are young enough (or look young enough) to masquerade as new students.
    • There's also a tendency for these characters (especially Hot-Blooded ones) to speak out when Umbridge starts claiming that there's nothing dangerous in the real world that they need to be prepared for. They will usually counter with personal experience, and regardless of the outcome they will show her zero respect and actively defy her authority for the rest of the story.
  • Fics about a sect of uber-powerful magical people who basically are to wizards what wizards are to Muggles. In a growing number of fics, these uber-wizards are the witches and warlocks of Bewitched.


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