Follow TV Tropes


Franchise Original Sin / Harry Potter

Go To

  • Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald had... mixed reception to say the least, even among fans of the Harry Potter franchise. Perhaps the most consistent complaint about it though was that it had too many major characters, and as a result they all fought for screen time. Of course, the Harry Potter books were famous for Loads and Loads of Characters, and most people praised the series for it. And most fans complained when most of these became no more than extras in film adaptations. Of course, this was part of the Pragmatic Adaptation mindset of the films. However, by the time of the Fantastic Beasts films, J. K. Rowling wasn't writing books that other people made into screenplays — she was writing the screenplays herself. It worked out alright in Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, but in The Crimes of Grindelwald, her typical writing style leaked though. Unfortunately, while having intricate plots with many characters over multiple installments makes for a great piece of literature, it doesn't necessarily translate well to the silver screen. Where a reader can make note and commit certain details in a book to memory before reading on and flip backward when a big reveal comes up, this just isn't possible in a movie. What was more, the protagonist of the books was Harry Potter, who is both the main character throughout and inextricably tied up in the main narrative, helping focus the story and corral the large cast. The protagonist of Fantastic Beasts, on the other hand, is Newt Scamander, who has far less of a reason to be part of the narrative (even he himself acknowledges he doesn't want to get involved) and therefore ends up coming across as a random aside or a bystander rather than a main character, leaving the rest of the story nothing to revolve around. Steve Kloves, who wrote all of the originals but the fifth movie, is set to co-write the script with her on the upcoming third film to try to strike the balance between writing the universe like a book and a movie.
  • Advertisement:
  • The series' modern fandom often laments the rather clumsy handling of minority themes and characters: an Asian woman being an evil snake servant, Leta's Tragic Mulatto connotations, a Jewish witch joining the wizarding world's equivalent of the Nazis, the heavy colonialist subtext and Sadly Mythtaken elements of Rowling's handling of First Nations wizards, Albus and Scorpius's apparent queerbaiting, the refusal to show Dumbledore and Grindelwald in a romantic context, and so on. This was quite present in the original text; the books have at most five or six explicitly nonwhite named characters in a cast of hundreds, none of whom play a major role, and one entirely offscreen gay relationship that explicitly ended badly. Similarly, Rowling's handling of themes like racial diversity, acceptance of people infected with HIV/AIDS, and activism influenced by White Man's Burden attitudes were badly flawed in a number of respects. These elements just weren't as big of a concern in 1997-2007, the timeframe of the series' original run, much less in a series aimed at kids and teens who either missed the subtext or were merely amazed at being introduced to it. However, they became far more noticeable in followups due to the changing cultural landscape, the initial audience having grown up and become much more conscious of those themes, and new readers having been raised in an environment where such consciousness was par for the course—Rowling is a proud Blair-era neoliberal, and those views informed a lot of her work, even as they fell heavily out of favor with the young left-leaning audience she aimed her books at. Her outspoken liberalism on social media didn't help matters, as it both drew further attention to these themes and made them come across as hypocritical or disingenuousnote .
  • Advertisement:
  • Rowling was always fairly active in the online fandom, and fond of using Word of God to convey points, whether it was answering one-off questions or dropping fairly important details. After the books ended, Rowling continued to make use of Word of God, to increasingly poor reception. It was one thing to discuss the series while it was ongoing, and another to effectively try to retroactively and concretely canonize elements where there were previously implications at most. It didn't help that many of Rowling's Word of God statements were disliked, due to either pushing for unpopular things (Ship Sinking or nonsensical plot points) or claiming the existence of elements that sounded interesting but were barely present in the actual story.
  • In 2016, Rowling gave the locations of seven Wizarding Schools worldwide, with Asia, Africa, and North and South America each only getting one named per continent, and the latter three being explicitly noted to serve as schools for their entire respective continents. This created a considerable backlash from the non-British fandom because it threw the sovereignty of non-British magical nations and how many wizards existed outside Rowling's home country of the United Kingdom into question because the British Isles had one school all to itself, along with many discussions of the Unfortunate Implications involved. In Goblet of Fire, released sixteen years prior, some fans raised an eyebrow over the magical students of continental Europe being crammed into just two schools (possibly raised to three, with mentions of a Russian school), but it was largely accepted as continental Europe doesn't have as much landmass as Africa, Asia, and the American continents do note , not to mention there isn't as much of an ugly history behind people downplaying the size, cultural/ethnic diversity, and population of Europe. It also wasn't helped by the fact that Rowling very clearly hadn't done much research into the countries involvednote , which furthered the impression that Rowling was being insensitive at best.
  • Advertisement:
  • A major complaint people have about the franchise's magical system is all the logical Plot Holes within it and the lack of consistent detail in general. To name a few examples, Time-Turners (which was only used in Prisoner of Azkaban to resolve a pretty minor conflict), Voldemort's curse on the Defense Against the Dark Arts teaching position, the "protections" of the Mirror of Erised being laughably inadequate, and how wizards, in general, are totally ignorant about Muggle technology note  despite how knowing about it would help them blend in with Muggles and keep the International Statute of Secrecy in place. Details that didn't quite add up were easily hand-waved when Harry Potter started out since nobody knew how the Wizarding World's magic worked yet and the series was geared toward a younger audience. When the series was about a wacky magic school where anything could happen, things like an overachieving student using time travel to take more classes or a money system based on prime numbers could be passed off as jokes, not serious elements of the lore. However, as the series continued, the audience grew up, and the series's tone trended darker, the problems became more clear—it's harder to sell a "gritty war" narrative when the world this war occupied was established as silly and nonsensical.
  • One of the main reasons the epilogue was largely ignored or disliked in the fandom (well, aside from Ship Sinking) was the apparent lack of growth in wizarding society: the Statute of Secrecy is still law, house-elves are still enslaved, the tribalistic Hogwarts House system is still in place, wizards still live in Medieval Stasis, etc.—and yet the last words of the series end up being "All was well." This also ties into complaints of even the good wizards keeping themselves separate from wizards, as it seemed to put forth an idea that the status quo is inherently good, and those who try to change the system are inherently bad, even though the status quo of wizarding society is at the very least seriously flawed. This ideal popped up to lesser degrees in the earlier books (for instance, the Ministry interfering in Hogwarts during the fifth book is treated as inherently terrible when they honestly had the right to do so since a student was murdered on school grounds at the end of the last book), but it wasn't as explicit, and the fact that the series continually associated authority with racist purebloods implied a revolutionary subtext that made a lot of people wonder how those problems would be fixed. When the series seemed to conclude that the system was just fine and simply replacing the racist purebloods with good guys would make it perfect, many saw it as a Clueless Aesop.

How well does it match the trope?

Example of:


Media sources: