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Fanon / Harry Potter

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The Harry Potter fandom is one of the oldest and biggest around. Predictably, there are a few things the fans have decided where the text had nothing to say — or in some cases, even where it did.


  • Fans think: Ginny's full name is Virginia. That notion came from The Draco Trilogy. In canon: J. K. Rowling revealed in supplemental material that it's actually the much rarer Ginevra. It was not unheard of for long-running fics to go back and change it, or else quietly retcon it and hope the readers didn't notice. And at least one story lampshaded it:
    Harry: You're the person who let me think her name was Virginia for four years before finally revealing it was really Ginevra.
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  • Fans think: Percy's full name is Percival, in part because there are few other Arthurian names in his family. It's never mentioned anywhere in the books, and Order of the Phoenix uses "Percy" for the official record of Harry's hearing.
  • Fans think: Practically everyone's middle name is their parent's name. In canon: Examples abound — like Harry James Potter, William Arthur Weasley, and Ginevra Molly Weasley — but there are plenty more counterexamples, like Scorpius Hyperion Malfoy, James Sirius Potter, Lily Luna Potter, Remus John Lupin, and Fleur Isabelle Delacour. Where middle names are not given, fans have a tendency to presume a parent's name if known:
    • Snape's middle name in fanon is Tobias, after his father's name. In canon, it's unknown if he even has a middle name.
    • Sirius' middle name in fanon is Orion, after his father's name. Fanfic writers particularly like that it makes his initials S.O.B..
  • Fans think: Fred and George were named alliteratively for Molly's brothers Fabian and Gideon, who were two really tough wizards who died fighting Death Eaters. Other related fanon suggests that these are their middle names, or that Fabian and Gideon were twins like Fred and George, even though canon says nothing on the subject. (In fact, Fred and George are identical twins, and that trait — unlike fratental twins — is not hereditary.)
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  • Fans think: People call Lavender "Lav-Lav". In canon: No one ever called her "Lav-Lav", but she did call Ron "Won-Won" when they briefly dated in Half-Blood Prince, and Harry's internal narration says that he hopes he never has to hear Ron (or anyone else) call her "Lav-Lav" (if for no other reason than that it really doesn't roll off the tongue). Some fanfic authors ignore this and have everyone call her "Lav-Lav", far removed from the original context of Harry's thought on the subject.
  • Fans think: Snape, either in his head or out loud, refers to his Slytherin students as his "little snakes". It's common in Snapefics, but elsewhere treated with the derision it deserves.
  • Fans think: Hermione's parents' names are... well, there are several popular candidates:
    • Roger and Helen. No one knows why; it just spread throughout fanfic as the right kind of names for them.
    • Dan and Emma, after Daniel Radcliffe and Emma Watson. These were once common, but have since dropped in popularity, probably after everyone figured out how cringe-inducingly meta they were.
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    • Heather and Tom, after the actors who played them on screen (very very briefly) in Chamber of Secrets.
    • Michelle and Ian, for their other actors in Deathly Hallows.
    • Rose and Hugo, popular after Deathly Hallows, suggesting that Hermione is just as creative as Harry is in naming her children.
    • Jean for Hermione's mother, suggesting that like Harry, her middle name is her parent's name.
  • Fans think: "Harry" is short for something, like Harold, or Henry (like Prince Harry), or something cool and "magical" like Hadrian. In canon: Harry's full legal name, every time it is mentioned, is "Harry James Potter", and no variants are mentioned.

Magic and spells

  • Fans think certain spells exist that don't really, like:
    • A spell called Tempus that tells time. It's pure fanon.
    • "Wards" as a common kind of protective magic. While such magic does exist, it's never called a "ward" — rather, a protective "enchantment", "charm", or "spell". The word "ward" is used exactly once in the books, and not in this context.
    • A different kind of "protection spell," which tends to show up in shipping fics. Theoretically there's a reason why not every wizard family is as large as the Weasleys, but the books don't elaborate on that.
    • A "compulsion charm" that forces the target to carry out the caster's bidding. This is nearly exclusively used as a way to allow Dumbledore to magically force people to comply with his schemes without having to dirty his hands with "dark magic" such as the Imperius Curse, which is the compulsion charm's canon counterpart.
    • A spell (or potion, or ritual) which allows the user to detect and/or cancel any tampering with the target's mind, such as Obliviation, the Imperius Curse, any active potion effects, or the aforementioned compulsion charm. In canon, there is no such thing, or the wizarding world wouldn't have had any such problems with the Imperius Curse.
    • Magical signatures that work like fingerprints or DNA. The only forensic spells of this kind mentioned in canon are the Trace (which has a limited reliability) and Priori Incantatem.
    • "Magical cores", basically Power Levels, which show up in 90% of Harry Potter fan-fiction. If anything, the idea that every witch or wizard has some sort of innate genetic magical potential rather misses the point of the entire series. Fanon additionally posits that said "cores" can be suppressed in some way. On that front:
  • Fans think: There's an easy way to suppress magic. The idea is very versatile in fanfic. It can be used to explain the resident Inept Mages like Neville. Or, more commonly, it can be used against a character like Harry or Hermione, usually instigated by Dumbledore suddenly deciding to make said character totally reliant on his protection. Some stories use the suppression mechanism as a means of allowing Harry to achieve God Mode by removing it. In canon: Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them showed that while you can suppress a young child's magic, that's an extremely unwise and exceedingly cruel course of action. And as for Neville, well, some kids just take longer to learn — what's the big deal about that?
  • Fans think: Every wizard has a wand that will suit him or her perfectly, and if it doesn't exist, a wandmaker will make one. Usually, if the customer is Harry, then his canonical phoenix-holly wand is the result of manipulation by Dumbledore, or to prove he's more powerful than he should be. The theory probably originated from Fawkes being the phoenix who provided the feather for Harry's wand (and Voldemort's), or Fleur's comment that the Veela hair in her wand came from her grandmother. In canon: The number-one rule of wandlore is "the wand chooses the wizard." There would otherwise be no point in sifting through hundreds of pre-made wands.
  • Fans think: The consequence of breaking a Magically Binding Contract, like an Unbreakable Vow or the one that runs the Triwizard Tournament, is a total loss of magic. This has led to stories where tricking Voldemort into breaking a contract is seriously considered as a method to defeat him. It also allows such contracts to be used as a means of ensuring someone is telling the truth — ask a character to "swear on their magic", and the consequences will be dire. Alternatively, as popularised by Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality, the subject is magically compelled to comply. In canon: All that's established is that if you break an Unbreakable Vow, you die. Certainly, one of those other options can be true simultaneously, but canon doesn't say anything on that front. Other magically-binding contracts have no consequences for violation mentioned at all. Canon also doesn't have a surefire way of determining if someone is telling the truth.
  • Fans think: There are special "dueling wands" with a certain amount of pre-loaded spells, basically making them magic guns and allowing for the raft of Showdown at High Noon tropes. In canon: Wands are very personal — they only work properly for their magically-defined owner, and there's no equipment of any kind with what could be described as a pre-loaded spell.
  • Fans think: Parselmouths can communicate with reptiles other than snakes, including dragons, and have a written form of Parseltongue — a Parselscript of sorts — which is frequently found in books or documents written by Slytherin, or in cursed Egyptian tombs. Lampshaded in one fic, in which Hermione points out that snakes can't read or write.
  • Fans think: Transfiguration will naturally wear off over time if not renewed. The idea was likely popularised by Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality, which made it a point that impermanent transfiguration makes the process extremely dangerous for living things. In canon: While details on transfiguration are sparse, what we do know suggests the opposite — that it's pretty safe if you know what you're doing (people transfigure their pets on a whim with no consequence), and Victor Krum transfiguring himself into a half-shark in the Triwizard Tournament is seen as a clever idea with no obvious risk beyond getting stuck like that. The closest we get is a story (told and not shown) in the film adaptation of Half-Blood Prince, in which Slughorn describes how Lily transfigured a petal into a fish and gifted it to him, and how when she died it transformed back into a petal, but that seems to operate differently from how fanfic sees it.
  • Fans think: Black quills — the kind that Umbridge uses on Harry — are illegal. They're also used for signing black-market magical contracts in blood. In canon: Nothing suggests that they're illegal, although they might fall under Hogwarts' standing ban on corporal punishment. J. K. Rowling did confirm a different fan theory that Umbridge invented them, which may be why there's no law prohibiting them (yet).
  • Fans think: Runes (at least of the kind taught in Ancient Runes class) are some means to enhance one's magic, if not an "alternative" form of magic altogether. In canon: There's no indication that runes are anything other than a form of writing.
  • Fans think: With enough power or with the right motivation, it is possible to supercharge a Patronus and make it outright fatal to Dementors. Sometimes this supercharged Patronus is golden instead of silver to signify its superiority. Used as a way to show that Harry has achieved God Mode or that this particular fanfiction's pairing is much better than the canon pairing. In canon: There is no way to kill Dementors. While a corporeal Patronus is indeed the mark of a very powerful wizard, and many adults are completely unable to conjure one, it can only ever repel Dementors (and Lethifolds).

Character traits

  • Fans think: Pius Thicknesse was fully on board with the Death Eater agenda. In canon: He was a legitimate victim of the Imperius curse, and it's heavily implied that he is actually dead-set against Voldemort.
  • Fans think certain things about Fred and George, like:
    • They finish each other's sentences. In canon: This happens less than a handful of times. The most notable instance is in the film trailer for Prisoner of Azkaban, when they do this when describing the Marauder's Map.
    • They routinely refer to themselves as "Gred" and "Forge". In canon: They did this once, very early on in Philosopher's Stone, as a joke about how the sweaters their mother knit for them had their initials on it and now it was easier for her to tell them apart. It was specifically for that context; they also joke that Percy's sweater stands for "Prefect". Fandom not only has them do it routinely, they often replicate the joke incorrectly — in canon, they're wearing the correct initials but don't know the rest of their names.
  • Fans think: Neville's ineptitude at magic is not because of magic suppression (seen above), but because of a botched Memory Charm, supposedly to erase the memory of him seeing his parents tortured into insanity (never mind that he was a year old at the time and he probably wouldn't remember it anyway). The idea is that it's designed to last his entire life, so he can't get rid of it, and that it prevents him from learning magic because it clouds his memory of what he does learn. In canon: He's just not a fast learner and supremely unconfident in himself. When the chips are down, he takes a level in badass and can more than hold his own.
  • Fans think: Neville has dark hair. He certainly does in the movies, which were a major Audience-Coloring Adaptation, but In book canon: Word of God says that he's blond. However, by the time this happened the image of him as a brunet was totally ingrained in people's minds; you'll be hard-pressed to find a single piece of fanart that differs.
  • Fans think: Harry's poor eyesight is a result of abuse of some sort, either from the Dursleys, from the Horcrux in his head, or (in that kind of fic) from Dumbledore. In canon: While it's not explicitly stated, the number of characters like James, Dumbledore, McGonagall, or Percy who wear glasses despite having no comparable reason suggests that magic simply cannot fix eyesight. Fanon tries to fix this by claiming that such treatment does exist but is too unreliable or expensive to work, except that the genius wizard Dumbledore would probably have taken a flyer on it at some point.
  • Fans think: lots of things about McGonagall when she was at school. She was either a notorious prankster and forerunner to the Weasley twins, or a notorious Ice Queen bookworm, or perhaps both. She was a champion Quidditch player (usually a Beater or Chaser). She was best friends with future colleagues Pomfrey and Sprout. She went to school with Tom Riddle and interacted with him. She went to school with Umbridge and had an intense rivalry with her. And she went on to be an Auror and fought in the war against Grindelwald. In canon: She didn't coincide with Tom Riddle. We’ve never been given a canon birth year for her but she’s never mentioned to be at school with Riddle. Chalk this one up to the movies; Maggie Smith was older than McGonagall was intended to be (not necessarily per date of birth, but because the films were made a decade after the books were set). No word whatsoever on coinciding with Umbridge. As for the rest, Pottermore says she was a Chaser at Hogwarts and school friends with Sprout.
  • Fans think: Susan Bones is a redhead who grows up to have an Impossible Hourglass Figure. The hair can be attributed to her appearance in the films, but her figure has no basis in either the movies or the books.
  • Fans think: Lupin is obsessed with chocolate. His first appearance in Prisoner of Azkaban has him carrying an enormous chocolate bar, but that turns out to be a remedy for dementor encounters; he never shows a particular fondness for it. It may have caught on thanks to The Shoebox Project, in which it's his Trademark Favorite Food.
  • Fans think: Lupin has notable scars across his face from when Fenrir Greyback attacked him. This is never mentioned in canon. One would think that this would have come up when Harry first meets him, especially since it would serve as a subtle clue to his lycanthropy.
  • Fans think: Adult!Teddy has blue hair. He probably got it from his mother, who did hers in pink. (Worth noting: his dad showed a picture of him as a baby where his hair kept changing color, including turquoise.) Pottermore made this Ascended Fanon.
  • Fans think lots of things about Dumbledore, like:
    • He's willing to do anything for the "greater good", up to and including taking over the Wizarding World. This is based almost entirely on a letter Dumbledore wrote to his friend Grindelwald saying exactly this — when they were teenagers. This usually allows him to be extraordinarily cruel to other characters, because the ends justify the means. In canon: A lot has happened since that letter, and the Dumbledore Harry knows is so different as to be another person entirely. In particular, he explicitly states that after his sister died, he decided that he could not be trusted with power and actively avoided it, which is why he turned down several offers to be Minister of Magic. While Dumbledore has made choices that hurt Harry in favor of the common good, he is haunted by his actions and never goes to the lengths as he does in fanon.
    • His position as Chief Warlock of the Wizengamot gives him political power on par with the Minister of Magic, and he got his power that way. In canon: The Wizengamot is part of the Department of Magical Law Enforcement, which is in turn subordinate to the Minister of Magic. When Dumbledore is on the outs with Fudge in Order of the Phoenix, Fudge is easily able to remove him as Chief Warlock. Chalk this one up to many fanfic writers being Americans, more familiar with the U.S. Constitutional system of checks and balances putting the Supreme Court on par with Congress and the President.
    • He's planning to engineer Harry's death at Voldemort's hands to fulfill the prophecy and allow himself to swoop in and take the credit for killing Voldemort. This particularly allows the writer to bash him. In canon: Half-Blood Prince makes clear that prophecies are not infallible, and Dumbledore knows it. Even if it were set in stone, Harry's death at Voldemort's hands would mean the end of the Wizarding World, and Dumbledore knows it. And finally, Dumbledore very much wants to save Harry's life, and he is triumphant on realising that Voldemort's use of Harry's blood gives him a chance to survive; only then does he tell Harry about the prophecy and "train" him against Voldemort.
    • He knew the Dursleys would abuse Harry but sent him there anyway to toughen him up. This mostly goes in conjunction with the Dursleys being much more abusive in fanfic than they are in canon.
    • He plays everything close to the chest, never letting characters know what they need to, because he's a massive Troll. In canon: While there's some basis for this, this ignores that: (a) every resistance group in history operates this way, with The Spymaster minimising each individual's knowledge so that they can't betray information if captured, and (b) Harry — the viewpoint character who is most frustrated at Dumbledore not telling him things — has a Psychic Link with Voldemort which the latter can and often does exploit for his own ends.
    • He thinks of himself as an irrefutable source of wisdom. In canon: He's very well aware of his weaknesses. While Harry does think he's utterly brilliant, as do many of the people he talks to, Dumbledore cautions against thinking of him as infallible, and notes that in his position, when he makes a mistake, the consequences tend to be much worse than when ordinary people do.
    • He's the "Defender of the Light", like it's a title conferred on him by the Wizarding World for being an awesome anti-Voldemort force. In canon: There are no politico-cultural factions called "Light" or "Dark", nor is magic ever defined in Force-esque divisions of the same. The most we ever get is a few mentions of "Dark magic", and it's never really clarified what that even means.
    • His favorite candy is lemon drops. In canon: He says in the prologue of Philosopher's Stone that he's "rather fond of" the candy, and uses it as his office password in Chamber of Secrets, but neither of those means they're necessarily his favorite. They could just as easily be one sweet he enjoys out of many.note 
  • Fans think: Molly Weasley used a Love Potion on Arthur to trap him in marriage. In canon: It's a case of Early Installment Weirdness. In Prisoner of Azkaban, she admits to brewing a love potion in school but doesn't mention whom she used it on (or if she used it at all). Hermione and Ginny respond by giggling, whereas they would likely have taken it much more seriously based on the later books' characterisation of love potions as date rape drugs.
  • Fans think: Molly Weasley is determined to pair off Harry with Ginny, and sometimes Ron with Hermione. Bashing fics will attribute nefarious objectives to her, or at least have her use means such as love potions or other insidious tricks. In canon: She is not seen taking any position on the love lives of Ron or Ginny, and the only people encouraging Harry and Ginny to get together are Ron and Hermione.
  • Fans think: The Weasleys were once rich and lost their wealth somehow. It was an ancient gambling relative, punishment for an unspecified crime, or a curse of some sort. Not even hinted at in canon.
  • Fans think: Charlie Weasley is Asexual. It's a viable interpretation; Word of God says that he never marries and, while probably not gay, is "more interested in dragons than women." Then again, he could also just be Married to the Job.
  • Fans think: Harry is really rich, and the gold in his vault at Gringotts isn't the sum total of his wealth; there's another vault with a lot of family heirlooms. And he has multiple houses, which often come with house elves (although why the Potters chose to live in Godric's Hollow instead of an ancient manor with nigh-unbreakable wards is rarely explained). He doesn't have access to them because Dumbledore is an arsehole. The money comes from the Potters being essentially the "good guy Malfoys", with the same big mansions, political clout, and illustrious names, and they can claim descent from Godric Gryffindor himself. In canon: The vault is all the money. J. K. Rowling reveals on Pottermore that the Potters possess a decent amount of money, though not on account of being old money but due to Fleamont Potters business - which is why they are nowehere as rich, or even remotely as influential as families like the Malfoys. The Potter branch was more or less a footnote to Wizarding history until Harry came along, though they adescended distantly from the famous Peverell family.
  • Fans think: Harry is descended from Godric Gryffindor himself. In addition to the idea that this makes him a "mirror-image Voldemort", fans base this on his ability to pull Gryffindor's sword from the Sorting Hat. In canon: Any Gryffindor who needs the sword enough can pull it out of the Hat, as Neville shows in Deathly Hallows. And the idea of Gryffindor's legacy passing to his heir would negate Gryffindor's populist ethos; it ties in much better with Slytherin's aristocratic fetish.

Character relationships

  • Fans think: Charlie and Tonks were close friends, perhaps even Amicable Exes who dated for a while before deciding they were Better as Friends. This fanon is more used as background for the characters than to actually set them up together (although fanon also likes to give Tonks an Affectionate Nickname for Charlie). The fans figured they had to have interacted with each other because when you do the math, you find they coincided at Hogwarts. In canon: J. K. Rowling revealed that Tonks was a Hufflepuff while Charlie was a Gryffindor, so they wouldn't have been any more than casual acquaintances. And if they were, someone would surely have mentioned it during the gang's convesation about Tonks joining the Weasley family in Half-Blood Prince.
  • Fans think: Percy and Oliver Wood are friends, or perhaps even more than that, based solely on being in the same House in the same year.
  • Fans think: Snape is Draco's godfather. They base this almost entirely on a parallel with Sirius being Harry's godfather. In canon: Snape and Malfoy were never that close. Malfoy sees Snape as an interloper trying to take his father's place among the Death Eaters and in his life. In Deathly Hallows, Snape confesses to Dumbledore that Draco no longer looks up to him after Lucius was imprisoned. And the fanon idea that Snape was tight with the family is plausible, but the only canon connections we see between Snape and the Malfoys are that Snape and Lucius are Death Eaters and Snape promises Draco's mother that he will protect him. Moreover, blood purists like the Malfoys would never make a half-blood their son's godfather.
  • Fans think: Slytherin is a den of rapists. Girls are constantly at risk there. It makes for a lot of the kind of thing fanfics like. In canon: First, Harry Potter is not that kind of series. Second, if this were true, one would think that the large number of well-connected pureblood families whose daughters are in Slytherin would raise some serious hell if they thought their children were in that kind of danger.
  • Fans think: Every Weasley hates Slytherin with a burning and irrational passion. This is usually done to turn the Weasleys into enemies if Harry (or anyone else) befriends a Slytherin, becomes a Slytherin, or dates a Slytherin. After all, Ron in Philosopher's Stone was pretty insistent that Slytherin sucked. In canon: Word of God says that Arthur's mother was a Slytherin (and possibly Molly's as well). Also, Ron's claim that there was never a bad wizard who wasn't a Slytherin only comes from the movies; in the book, Hagrid says that line.
  • Fans think: Magical marriage binds the couple for life. This is based on Bill and Fleur's wedding, where the officiant says they're "bonded for life"; fans think he meant it literally, and that it means the couple is magically bound never to cheat on each other or divorce.
  • Fans think: The Marauders all lived together, even after James married Lily, in a scheme that one observer rightly likened to "Lily playing Wendy Bird to a den of Lost Boys". It's plausible that two or more of them may have roomed together for a year or two out of Hogwarts, as often happens among school friends in Real Life. It's much less plausible that Lily, who in canon was pretty insistent that James act a little less like his friends if they were going to have a shot together, would move in with all four of them after she married him. While Word of God did state that James supported Lupin financially (it being so difficult for a werewolf to make a living), that wouldn't imply that he lived with them.
  • Fans think: Betrothal contracts are a thing. It's mostly used as a device to force a character to marry another character, most often by having Molly try to set Harry up with Ginny rather than Mary Sue. No such thing is hinted in canon.
  • Fans think: Howlers are incredibly common, and Molly Weasley in particular will send one at the drop of a hat. In canon: She sends one Howler, in Chamber of Secrets, in response to Ron stealing the family car, wrecking it, damaging school property, being spotted by Muggles and breaching the Statute of Secrecy, and almost getting himself expelled and his father fired. He kind of deserved it.
  • Fans think: The Potters and Longbottoms knew each other, and Alice in particular was Lily's close friend and Harry's godmother. In canon: They certainly knew each other as colleagues, being active in the Order and all, but the Longbottoms were probably several years older than the Potters, as they were full-fledged Aurors at the time of the Lestranges' attack. The godmother thing also doesn't make sense because at the time of Harry's christening, the Potters were keeping a very low profile, and only Sirius was close enough to them to be able to attend.
  • Fans think: The Potters and Weasleys knew each other. In canon: The books say the exact opposite. First, everyone who knew Lily and James recognises Harry immediately, but neither Molly nor Arthur do. Second, they're older than the Potters — old enough that they likely never coincided with them at Hogwarts (Molly explicitly states that the Whomping Willow was planted after she left). Third, Molly and Arthur weren't part of the Order of the Phoenix the first time around, given that they were raising several young children — Molly's brothers were, but they would hardly introduce their family to the secret underground organisation they work for.
  • Fans think: Harry, Ron, and Hermione are collectively known as the "Golden Trio" (or alternatively the "Gryffindor Trio"). Fanfic relentlessly uses the terms to describe them, even In-Universe. The "Silver Trio" is sometimes used to refer to Ginny, Luna, and Neville (or in next-gen fics to Albus Potter, Rose Weasley, and Scorpius Malfoy, as if they'd do exactly what Harry, Ron, and Hermione did). In canon: They're never referred to as such. And it wouldn't make sense anyway, as they're hardly the only Gryffindors who hang out together. The closest we get is Snape mockingly referring to them as "the Dream Team" in Chamber of Secrets.
  • Fans think: Hermione uses a Full-Name Ultimatum when she's mad at Harry or Ron, and in particular calls Ron "Ronald". In canon: She rarely does it. In the books, the only time she calls Ron "Ronald" is in Deathly Hallows, and it's because she's furious with him for leaving the group. (The only person who calls him "Ronald" more than once is his great-aunt Muriel.) She never uses the Full-Name Ultimatum, although it's common among married couples (but for the vast majority of the series they're far from married). In the films, she does use "Ronald" a bit more often, but not by much.
  • Fans think a lot about how much abuse the Dursleys abuse Harry and how much it affects him, like:
    • The Dursleys will do practically anything to Harry. They regularly starve him, they put bars on his windows and multiple locks on his door, they get money for taking care of him from somewhere (and spend it on Dudley), they basically torture him and the only reason they don't kill him is that they risk a reprisal from an evil wizard. In canon: While the Dursleys are abusive, they are much more harmless in canon. There are repeated references to the Dursleys denying Harry food as punishment, for example after the zoo visit, but it is not clear to which degree Harry is starved. In Goblet of Fire it is further established that his friends send him extra snacks (in order to endure the grueling diet the entire Dursley goes through for Dudley's sake). There's only one lock, which the Weasleys pick with a hairpin when they rescue him in Chamber of Secrets. The bars are for keeping Hedwig from escaping, and they're never replaced when the Weasleys get rid of them. There are instances of physical abuse, such as Petunia attempting to hit Harry with a frying pan, or Vernon strangling Harry, but this is nothing compared to the literal torture he is put through in fanon. The money is at least plausible, as in the UK parents and guardians do receive money for each child they take care of, and they probably did spend it on the Dursleys — Harry is independently wealthy in the Wizarding World anyway.
    • Vernon abuses his entire family. In canon: While his treatment of Dudley clearly did the kid no favours, he is only ever affectionate towards his family. The one thing that nearly makes him throw Harry out of the house for good is learning that Harry has a murderous madman after him, which put Petunia and Dudley's lives in danger. And he changed his mind because Petunia told him not to.
    • Harry is so beaten down by Vernon and Petunia that he thinks of himself as a sub-human freak. In canon: It certainly doesn't feel good, but Harry doesn't seem to have critically low self-esteem, and especially in his element at Hogwarts and in the company of his friends, he is much more self-confident and well-adjusted than many fanfic authors would have one believe.
  • Fans think: Dumbledore engineered Harry's first meeting with the Weasleys at the train station. The idea is that he would ensure that Harry gets in with the right people and joins the good guys. The idea is particularly useful to fanfic writers who are not inclined to believe the Weasleys even are the good guys. In canon: First, engineering this kind of meeting between such young children is practically impossible if you want it to be believable, magic or no. Second, this is not necessary to ensure that Harry thinks murder and torture in the name of wizard supremacy is wrong. Third, much of the "evidence" for this is from things such as her asking what the platform number is. This could be Early Installment Weirdness, or it could be one of the games parents play with children all the time, rather than an attempt to get Harry's attention.
  • Fans think: Zacharias Smith is related to Hepzibah Smith, and thus a descendant of Helga Hufflepuff. This is usually given as an explanation as to why Zacharias ended up in Hufflepuff despite having none of its actual qualities. Bolstering this is the fact that they both have uncommon Biblical names containing the letter "z," hinting at Family Theme Naming. In canon: While it's not impossible, there's no evidence or Word of God saying so. It's complicated by Hufflepuff being canonically "the house of all the rest" and "Smith" being one of the most common surnames in the United Kingdom.
  • Fans think: Marietta and Cho are among the Ravenclaws who bully Luna. In canon: Although Luna is bullied by housemates, no names are given, and there is no indication that either Marietta or Cho have any kind of relationship, good or bad, with Luna.

OC Stand-Ins

As Hogwarts has a lot of students, some of whom are given a name and no characterisation, the fans have developed personalities for several of them to serve as an O.C. Stand-in.

  • Daphne Greengrass is an Ice Queen, but free from Pureblood prejudice and at least slightly more sympathetic than Pansy.
  • Tracey Davis is Daphne's best friend and more easygoing.
  • Padma Patil is the opposite of Parvati and possibly the second-brightest student of her year after Hermione. Canonically she's a prefect, so this has some logical basis.
  • Blaise Zabini is The Casanova, probably based on the fact that his mom is implied to be a Black Widow.
  • Theodore Nott is a close friend of Malfoy's. Word of God says he kind of is — their families go way back, and J. K. Rowling even wrote a scene of the two of them in Malfoy Manor but couldn't fit it in anywhere. Then again, he doesn't feel a need to suck up to Malfoy like most Slytherins, and that may be why he's not around him very much. If the fans decide to develop his character, he's either a sympathetic character who secretly sabotages the Death Eaters from the inside or the cruelest Death Eater of them all.
  • Although we see enough of Pansy Parkinson to know that she's the Alpha Bitch, we know nothing about her life outside of Hogwarts. The usual fanon is that she's from a lesser pure-blood family known for sucking up to people like the Malfoys. Thus, Pansy is a social climber hoping to become a Malfoy by marriage, which fits the usual view of her character. On the other hand, Draco/Harry fics often retool her as Draco's sympathetic friend rather than a Love Interest.
  • Views on Astoria Greengrass differ. Since she's a very minor character who's never mentioned in the books and is only known for being Daphne's younger sister and Draco's future wife, she's ripe for tons of interpretations. A popular one is that after the war, she played the gentle girl to Draco's brooding boy and helped him get back on his feet.

Plot elements that inexplicably persist even after being Jossed

  • Fans think: Tom Riddle's orphanage was run by nuns. Jossed by Half-Blood Prince showing Mrs. Cole, who's very likely not a nun, but even after that the idea persists in fanfiction.
  • Fans think: Voldemort would take his Death Eaters with him when he finally dies. There's no indiciation in the story that he ever intended to do this, and in Deathly Hallows it's explicitly Jossed with Draco seen alive in the epilogue.
  • Fans think: The snake Harry set free from the zoo in Philosopher's Stone became Nagini. It was so popular after the series ended that fans started to forget that it was never actually confirmed anywhere; they even have an associated quote supposedly coming from Rowling (which she never actually said). Jossed when we learn Nagini's origin in the Fantastic Beasts series, and in any event Nagini is a female venomous snake and the one at the zoo is a boa constrictor with a male voice.
  • Fans think: Voldemort is unable to love because he was conceived under the effects of a Love Potion. In canon: It's not a magical thing, it's just symbolic. He could have learned to love; it's just no one was around to teach him how.
    Rowling: It was a symbolic way of showing that he came from a loveless union — but of course, everything would have changed if Merope had survived and raised him herself and loved him.
  • Fans think: Prophecies are infallible, and everyone knows about them. In canon: Prophecies are very much not infallible, and Voldemort believing otherwise is a key weakness of his, as it more or less ensures his eventual downfall. Harry explicitly chooses to Screw Destiny and fight Voldemort on his own terms rather than what any prophecy says. And very few people know that the prophecy about Harry and Voldemort exists, and fewer still know what exactly it states.
  • Fans think: Hogwarts letters are sent on your eleventh birthday, no matter the date. In canon: Harry getting his on his eleventh birthday is just a coincidence; they all come in during the summer, and Harry's birthday happens to be during the summer. In any event, they tried to get him his letter several days before his birthday, but the Dursleys' efforts forced Hagrid to deliver the definitive letter on the last possible day to apply to Hogwarts.


  • Fans think: Potion-making is an indicator of one's magical ability — the more adept you are at it, the better a wizard you are.
    • Snape, the Hogwarts Potions Master, is reputed in fandom to be capable of making any sort of potion in any amount of time, and to be 100% confident of its effects without even testing it — even when the combination is totally bizarre or the ingredients are rare or expensive. Fanon further posits that Snape makes potions like this in his spare time and keeps them lying around in his office. And one wonders why Dumbledore is so insistent that he teach Potions.
    • Students also show their aptitude at magic by brewing potions, particularly Hermione (as a means of explaining her frustration at her instinct failing her on that front in Half-Blood Prince). Fanon likes to show Harry or Hermione practicing potion-making on their own time, although it's unlikely that Snape would give them the ingredients or resources to do so.
  • Fans think: The Hogwarts curriculum is substandard, or at least has declined in recent years. There are hardly any math or language courses, even though magic often interacts with numbers and is usually cast by speaking dead languages. Some stories show Dumbledore removing or dumbing down courses at his whim. In canon: We do canonically have an Arithmancy class (granted, as an elective), and Word of God says that wizards have a charm for doing normal math problems.
  • Fans think: Becoming the Master of Death grants you special powers, such as: Partial or Complete Immortality, Authority or a relationship with the Grim Reaper, becoming said Grim Reaper or be able to Ascend to a Higher Plane of Existence. In canon: There's no reason or at least indication for this to be the case, especially the Complete Immortality theory which goes against what Dumbledore and Harry agree the title means in Limbo.
  • Fans think: A Hogwarts student's friends and family can just join them on campus, eat with them in the Great Hall, hang around in the Common Room, or visit them in the hospital wing. Fanfic often shows this — but only the friends and family of the protagonists, and never other students. In canon: There's no reason for this to be the case, especially given Hogwarts' canonical safety mechanisms.
  • Fans think: The Hogwarts uniform is a set of magical robes on top of a formal boarding-school style setup, complete with a house-specific shirt and tie Colour-Coded for Your Convenience. In canon: The book has plain black robes with no house markings (shown in Chamber of Secrets where Harry and Ron mistake a Ravenclaw for a Slytherin), which are complete magical outfits unto themselves. The fanon look is based much more on how the movies did it, and it actually resolves several problems:
    • First, the book description looks kind of ridiculous and evokes an Impractically Fancy Outfit. The film look, on the other hand, draws more from existing Boarding School tropes and also creates a divide between the students and more "traditionalist" characters like Snape or Lucius Malfoy. The ability to wear the school robe over any kind of Muggle clothing also adds to the versatility of the costume. The latter is so convenient that even LavenderTowne, while drawing Fan Art of the characters based on their book descriptions, had them wearing the film-style uniforms (inadvertently, as it turns out).
    • Second, it resolves a contradiction in the book version of Goblet of Fire where older wizards are shown having serious trouble understanding Muggle clothing (mostly for the sake of a joke where an old male wizard wears a dress). This should never happen if younger wizards — even those almost totally removed from Muggle culture like Ron and Malfoy — have no problem with it.
    • Third, the film style includes a skirt for girls, which given the nature of fanfic can be easily depicted as being much much shorter than the films depict them (or than any school would ever allow).
  • Fans think: The Head Boy and Girl have their own dormitory where crazy things happen. It's been around so long that the specifics have been pretty much codified: it's inside a tower, it has a common room and separate rooms for the Head Boy and Head Girl, there's only one bathroom, and the password (and the painting to which you give it) is usually romantic in nature. In canon: Jossed when Prisoner of Azkaban shows that Percy, while Head Boy, sleeps in Gryffindor Tower with everyone else. You'd think Dumbledore had better things to do than play The Matchmaker.
  • Fans think: "Ancient and Noble Houses" are a thing. This based entirely off of the styling of the "Noble and Most Ancient House of Black" (note the different word order), designed to show that Sirius was from a very old-fashioned and supremacist family which he didn't fit into. Fanfic, on the other hand, has spun this into a whole raft of plot devices, like:
    • Magical "Lord rings", which characters will inherit at the point when they become Lords, allowing Harry to pick up a powerful magical artifact and style himself "Lord Potter". One common power for these rings is to compel the obedience of other members of one's House. In canon: Sirius mentions such a thing once, as a way to mock his Pureblood-obsessed family. Even if it exists, it has no power of compulsion, considering that he ran away from home while underage and no one stopped him.
    • "Head of House rings", which one gets by being head of one's House at Hogwarts. The idea is the same as with "Lord rings", with this referring to a school house as opposed to an ancestral house. It's based on the idea of the "Heir of Slytherin", and the idea that Slytherin did have a ring, which the Gaunts used to show their membership in said House. In canon: No other house at Hogwarts has a ring — in fact, they quite explicitly have other trinkets (Gryffindor's sword, Ravenclaw's diadem, and Hufflepuff's cup) as Plot Tokens. And the ring in question is still a familial ring, as the Gaunts (and Voldemort) are direct descendants of Salazar Slytherin himself.
    • An automatic seat on the Wizengamot. It's usually done to allow a character to have a series of epic power games with Lucius Malfoy. In canon: It's not clear how members are selected, but it's probably on merit or connections like anything else, and Lucius (as far as we know) isn't even a member of the Wizengamot.
    • Special privileges at Hogwarts, including "Lords' Quarters" — again, for fanfic shenanigans. In canon: This goes entirely against the setting as based on a British public school, which in Real Life was designed to educate all members of the paying public, noble and commoner alike, on an equal footing. As such, no matter what rank you had — whether you were a nobody or the Prince of Wales himself — you had to go through the same thing as everyone else (and sometimes the nobles were treated worse to hammer home the point). All school privileges are earned at the school — at Hogwarts, that would be things like being Prefect, Head Boy or Girl, or Quidditch captain.
    • Control over Hogwarts, especially in one's capacity as "Lord", "Lady", or "Heir" of a particular house. In canon: It would be patently absurd to allow a student to exert authority over the teachers. And in any event, in the real British public school system, the founder's heir would most likely be headmaster to begin with — and would still enjoy no authority over the students while he is a student himself.
  • Fans think: Gringotts does everything. In fanfic, the place offers a wide variety of services like: probating wills; investing Lords, Ladies, and Heirs; emancipating minors; assigning guardians to minors; healing; warding property; and determining when a wizard has died and notifying their next of kin. In canon: It's a magical bank. It does bank stuff, like storing gold, lending gold, excavating tombs for gold, vaults for other expensive stuff, and possibly gambling.note  We see two wills being probated, one by Dumbledore and the other by Scrimgeour (then Minister for Magic), neither of whom are involved with Gringotts. And as shown with Wormtail, Bertha Jorkins, and all three Crouches, absent a body there is no surefire way to determine if and when someone has died.
    • Gringotts is a sovereign nation and houses the entire British goblin society underneath its halls. In canon: There is nothing to suggest that Gringotts is anything other than a bank; that there is a Goblin Liaison Office at the British Ministry suggests that goblins are subject to British ministerial laws, further suggesting that goblins on British soil are, in fact, British citizens.
    • Ragnok is the director of Gringotts, or otherwise leader of the goblins; in stories where Gringotts is also a sovereign nation, he is usually both. In canon: Ragnok is only mentioned in passing as a goblin whom Bill Weasley was trying to persuade to join the Order's cause, but nothing else is mentioned about him. In the movies, Ragnok's office is next to Griphook's, suggesting no particular seniority. The hierarchy of Gringotts itself is never expanded on.
  • Fans think: The Magical Congress of the United States (the Ministry of Magic's Transatlantic Equivalent) is more progressive than its British counterpart. It confers equal rights to magical creatures, brooks no Fantastic Racism, and has a closer relationship with No-Majes (American Muggles). In canon: Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them doesn't show much, but what it does show suggests the opposite; in the States it's illegal to even interact with No-Majes, while in Britain it's legal to marry them. It's uncertain, however, if this is an Eagleland thing or just because it's set in the 1920s and things have moved on since then. The American Wizarding World is also more accepting of muggleborns than the British equivalent.
  • Fans think: The official creed of the Death Eaters is "There is no good or evil. There is only power, and those too weak to seek it." In canon: We don't even know if the Death Eaters have a creed. The line itself is only spoken once in the entire series. It is a heck of a line, though, very much encapsulating Voldemort's way of thinking.
  • Fans think: There's more you can learn after Hogwarts, often through an apprenticeship, and it usually gets you a cool certification like "Potions Master". In canon: J. K. Rowling explicitly stated that there's nothing more to learn after seventh year. Snape's title of "Potions Master" is based on the archaic term "schoolmaster", referring to a male teacher.
  • Fans think: The snake Harry set free from the zoo in Philosopher's Stone was a captive animagus. In particular, a Latino animagus, who thanks Harry by saying, "Thanksss, amigo." It does show more intelligence than most other animals we see, snakes included. A further theory suggests that the snake is from Brazil, where you might encounter boa constrictors, and that the "amigo" is Portuguese and not Spanish — which dovetails nicely with the fact that Rowling does speak Portuguese, having lived and worked in Portugal for several years before writing Harry Potter.
  • Fans think: Any rich pureblood family's home is named "[Family] Manor". It's named after "Malfoy Manor", first used (or at least codified) by The Draco Trilogynote  and later named for real in Deathly Hallows. This led to the idea that every rich wizard family does the same thing, like "Black Manor" (Jossed in Order of the Phoenix by the house's simple address of 12 Grimmauld Place) and "Snape Manor" (also Jossed as it was revealed Snape's father was a muggle, and they lived in a plain house at Spinner's end in Cokeworth - where Snape continues to live until his death).
  • Fans think: The Triwizard Tournament includes an escape clause, generally within the first 24 hours. It's most often used to make Harry more of a victim than he already is. In canon: No such thing is ever hinted at, and if such a thing existed, the canon Dumbledore would almost certainly give Harry an opportunity to opt out graciously.
  • Fans think lots of things about Veela, like:
    • They bond with their mates magically. Their reputation as heart-breakers comes from their being forced by their nature to go after mates with a certain high compatibility rating. If a Veela knows someone more compatible than their current partner, they break up with them and go to the new one. This is mostly a mechanism to pair Fleur up with Harry when she's already married to Bill. An interesting variant has them being more drawn to men who can resist their allure. None of this is canon. Less commonly, you see the opposite — they have a predestined "mate", and if they don't have sex with them they die. That one's Jossed by Fleur's arc with Bill, but it's a convenient way for fanfic to force Veela into same-sex relationships.
    • Male Veela exist. In canon, all the ones we see are female, but it's never explicitly stated that there aren't male versions. This is how fanfic gets to weird ideas like Draco being a male Veela who undergoes his own magical love-bond with Harry or Hermione. In canon, we know of one male part-Veela — Fleur and Bill's son Louis Weasley, who's one-eighth Veela.
    • Veela can transform into pretty birds. In canon: They transform into scaled things, more like raptors. It's meant to be frightening.
    • Veela are weak against water. This means that despite Dumbledore's assurances, Gabrielle was in real danger during the Second Task in Goblet of Fire. It might be logically derived from their ability to throw fireballs, and might also explain Fleur's inability to even complete the task. In canon: Regardless of any innate weaknesses, Fleur's conversation with Harry about the task in Deathly Hallows implies that Gabrielle was never in any real danger.
    • Veela and Merpeople are enemies, and Gabrielle was in danger because her placement in the lake violated some supposed truce between the two. Fics that believe this tend to include the "weakness to water" fanon — which makes it less likely that Veela and Merpeople would be enemies, as it's hard to make enemies when you live in incompatible habitats. Familiarity breeds contempt, after all. Fics of this kind also tend to think of Dumbledore as more explicitly not caring about Gabrielle's well-being.
  • Fans think: House elves must bond to a wizard and work for free, or die. Dobby, for his part, surreptitiously bound himself to Harry after Harry freed him from the Malfoys' service. The purpose of this seems to be an attempt to address the questionable ethics of the Servant Race situation by showing that the elves are in fact getting something worthwhile out of the arrangement. In canon: If free elves were doomed to die, you'd think someone would have brought that up when Hermione started campaigning for their freedom. There is a bond, but it's cultural and sociological rather than magical.
  • Fans think: Magical society is incredibly backward in several ways, among them being:
    • It discriminates horrendously against women, with Amelia Bones being the exception that makes the rule. In canon: There's no explicit depiction of gender discrimination, and Word of God suggests that the equal magical strength of witches and wizards led to a more prominent culture of gender equality and female independence.
    • It's bigoted toward ethnic minorities like Indians and East Asians. In canon: We see a number of non-white people at Hogwarts and no indication that even the Pureblood bigots have a problem with their race (the jury is out on Pansy Parkinson, who's on a first-name basis with Parvati Patil but mocks Angelina Johnson's dreads). Cho Chang is one of the most popular girls in school, and Blaise Zabini is on friendly terms with Draco, Pansy, Crabbe, and Goyle. In fact, the trend suddenly reversed after Harry Potter and the Cursed Child, in which Hermione was played by a black woman and J. K. Rowling pointed out that there was nothing in the text that specified that Hermione was white — it just said that she had frizzy hair, which is definitely a thing with black women. That led to fanfic writers suggesting that other major characters, including Harry himself, were non-white.
  • Fans think: "Magical Guardians" are a thing, presumably a way to codify who takes care of an underage wizard. They base this on Harry being able to use his godfather Sirius as a legal guardian to allow him to go to Hogsmeade. In canon: Godparents are not automatically a child's go-to guardians after their parents are killed or rendered incapable; both Neville and Teddy are raised by their grandmothers. Sirius is all Harry has other than his aunt and uncle.
  • Fans think: Fudge and Umbridge were Slytherins. Fudge's House was never confirmed. Umbridge is sometimes portrayed as a Hufflepuff, too, to spice things up and showcase her loyalty to the ministry. Word of God is that she was in Slytherin.
  • Fans think: The Yule Ball happens every year, like a High-School Dance. In canon: It's explicitly a tradition of the Triwizard Tournament and only happens that year.
  • Fans think: Everything happens in the Astronomy Tower. It's the go-to location for secret meetings, construction of incredible and covert magical artifacts, and of course, after-hours romantic activity. In canon: First, there are better places to do this. The entire school is a maze of secret passages and rooms which would serve better than a freezing cold tower which is open to the elements. This is before you even get into the Room of Requirement (although admittedly few people know about it). Second, even in spite of this, characters are semi-regularly caught making out in the castle.
  • Fans think: The Wizarding War has a religious component, with Purebloods practicing ancient Celtic rites and celebrating Celtic holidays like Samhain and Beltane (or Nordic ones like Yule, although combining the two would be like observing both Easter and Ramadan), while the other side is comprised of Christians. Fics that include this usually side with the Pagans. In canon: There is no widespread hostility to Christianity; wizards on both sides are shown swearing by God and celebrating Christian holidays, and some Biblical quotes sneak in as well.
  • Fans think: Wizards use "Merlin" as an Unusual Euphemism for "God", so they can use expressions like "for Merlin's sake!", "Merlin knows", "honest-to-Merlin", or just "Oh Merlin!". They might also use more creative ones like "Merlin's beard!" and "Merlin's pants!" It allows fanfic writers some flavour, as well as some laughs when the actual Merlin shows up. In canon: You do hear characters say "Merlin's beard!", but never anything that replaces "God" with "Merlin". Wizards can and do use "God" as an exclamation or a curse; interestingly, the one to do so most often seems to be Draco Malfoy. Hermione does once use "Merlin's pants!", which Ron thought was funny and ridiculous — this in contrast to fanfic, which likes to use the term interchangeably with "Merlin's beard!"
  • Fans think: There was a Great Offscreen War between Wizards and Muggles at some point before the series began, which is the reason why Wizards and Muggles live separately from each other. This is based at least partly on the theory that the Killing Curse Avada Kedavra sounds suspiciously like the Muggle Abracadabra, suggesting either that Muggles were commonly exposed to it or that they invented itnote . Fans are divided on who won, though; although wizards are clearly cooler and have their own independent community, some fans point out that the "Ministry of Magic" implies that it's a subdivision of the British government like the Foreign Office.
  • Fans think: Everyone wears wand holsters. This was kind of a necessity, really; they're pretty damn useful, and Moody's admonition in Order of the Phoenix shows that there are consequences to storing your wand in your back pocket. Some fans are convinced of the opposite — because they're so useful, and yet never mentioned in canon, they must not exist, because it's exactly the kind of thing the backwards and kinda loopy Wizarding community would go without. In canon: Although never mentioned in the books or films, it may be Ascended Fanon of sorts, as wand holsters are now part of the Official Cosplay Gear and you can get one for your wand at Ollivander's at The Wizarding World of Harry Potter.
  • Fans think: Salazar Slytherin was Irish. It fits in nicely; Word of God establishes that Godric Gryffindor was English, Helga Hufflepuff was Welsh, and Rowena Ravenclaw was Scottish, so Slytherin being Irish rounds it out. Additionally, he is said to come from a "fen", a common ecosystem in Ireland; he's associated with the colour green, which is also commonly associated with Ireland; and his affinity for snakes may be a reference to the old legend of Saint Patrick banishing all the snakes from Ireland.
  • Fans think: Hedwig is a magically enhanced Familiar who is bonded to Harry, and other magical pets have the same trait. In canon: While post owls would need to be more intelligent than the average bird to do their job, and while it's often mentioned that Hedwig is particularly intelligent, it doesn't imply more magical enhancement. And anyone who's ever had a pet can confirm that they don't need magic to be affectionate toward their owners.
  • Fans think: "Obliviate", the incantation for the Memory Charm, can also be used as a verb. It never was in the original series, but it was so frequent in fan-fiction that Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them made it Ascended Fanon.

See also

Fandom Specific Plots, Memes, and Fan Nicknames.


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