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    A 
  • Abusive Parents:
    • They aren't his biological parents, but the treatment Harry receives from his guardians Petunia and Vernon Dursley is certainly abusive. They lock him in the cupboard for weeks, he is denied food, Petunia nearly hits him over the head with a frying pan (he dodges just in time), Vernon strangles him, and so on.
    • Neville Longbottom's entire living family was abusive after his parents were tortured to insanity. His grandmother constantly subjected him to verbal abuse, saying he will never live up to his parents, while the rest of his family went to absurd and nearly fatal lengths to see if he had any magical abilities (such as tossing him off a pier or dropping him out a window several stories up), all because they neglected to see the signs that he could use magic.
    • Marvolo Gaunt subjected his daughter Merope to physical and verbal abuse up until his arrest when she was eighteen. His son Morfin also seems to fear Marvolo, obeying him unquestionably and encouraging him in his anger at Merope.
  • Achey Scars:
    • Harry's lightning-bolt scar, which magically hurts when Voldemort's in close proximity or feeling a particularly vivid emotion. The pains go away after Voldemort's death.
    • The scars he got from Umbridge also tingle whenever something reminds him of her. No word on whether it's magical or psychosomatic.
  • Acquainted with Emergency Services: The Hit Wizards (the Harry Potter equivalent of a SWAT team) have reserved beds at St. Mungo's hospital.
  • Adoring the Pests: The Weasley family adopts a rat named Scabbers, whom they thought was a wild rat at the time. Turns out it was really a shape-shifted form of Peter Pettigrew.)
  • Adult Fear: This series, despite being aimed at children, has plenty of moments that scare the parents more than the kids, and a lot of them have to do with child abuse, Parental Abandonment, and not being able to protect or take care of your own children. Most of this probably came from Rowling's own fears as a mother (and especially as a single mother, having broken off an abusive marriage). And that's not getting into the increasingly disturbing parallels to Nazism...
  • Aerith and Bob: The "Muggle" first names range from Dudley to Hermione; the wizarding ones, from George to Xenophilius. All in the UK. Same with the wizarding last names, which range from Potter and Black to Slytherin and Dumbledore. The old pureblood families are usually the ones to have the strangest names and they also tend to have themed names. For example, the Black family and their various offshoots named their children after constellations and stars. Professor Dumbledore's full name is "Albus Percival Wulfric Brian Dumbledore"
  • After Action Patchup: They land in the infirmary for treatment frequently. It's often where the post-action discussion takes place.
  • After-School Cleaning Duty: This is often given as a detention at Hogwarts. There is usually a requirement that the cleaning must be performed without magic.
  • Age-Gap Romance: Tonks and Lupin have an age gap of around thirteen years; she's in her early twenties and he's in his late thirties when they fall in love. Lupin spends some time angsting over it, believing he's too old for Tonks and she'd be better off with someone closer to her own age, though they ultimately end up together.
  • Agony Beam: The Cruciatus curse forces excruciating pain on whoever it is cast upon, with the severity depending upon how much the caster wants their victim to suffer. The curse is so horrible that it is one of three that was labeled "unforgivable" and criminalized.
  • All Crimes Are Equal: How the House "points" system at Hogwarts works. Later, we discover that this is how the Ministry of Magic treats "crime" in general. There appears to be only one wizard jail for UK wizards to go to. The very act of just being there is severe psychological torture, as every happy, positive thought you've ever had is forcibly removed from you, leaving you with nothing but the worst memories of your life. You even forget that this might end. Any crime that merits more than a fine warrants Azkaban. And it's even used for preventative detention of suspects.
  • Alliterative Family: Albus, Aberforth, and Ariana Dumbledore. Marvolo, Morfin, and Merope Gaunt. Padma and Parvati Patil.
  • Alliterative List: The Three "D"s of Apparition: Destination, Determination and Deliberation.
  • Alliterative Name: Has its own page.
  • All Love Is Unrequited: It's a series about a coeducational boarding school where students aged eleven to eighteen live in near-seclusion for ten months out of the year. This trope is inevitable.
    • Harry's crush on Cho Chang, whose First Love was Cedric Diggory. After Cedric's death, Cho continued to mourn him and latched onto Harry because he was the closest to him before he died, at which point they were simply too incompatible for a relationship to work out.
    • Ginny's crush on Harry went unrequited for the better part of six years.
    • Severus Snape was madly in love with Lily Evans for all his life, even after her death.
    • Gellert Grindelwald was the love of Albus Dumbledore's life. Unfortunately for Dumbledore, Grindelwald did not reciprocate his feelings, and also wasn't above manipulating them for his own gain.
  • All of the Other Reindeer: In book 1, Harry is hated near the end for helping his house lose 150 points. In book 2, Harry is hated because his fellow students think he's attacking them. In book 4, Harry is hated because his fellow students think he sneaked his way into the Triwizard Tournament. In book 5, Harry is hated because almost all the students think he's an attention-seeking brat. In book 7, Harry is labeled "Undesirable No. 1" by the governmentthough in that case it's because the government has been taken over by Death Eaters.
  • All There in the Manual: Pottermore is a hotbed of information barely even alluded to in the actual books.
  • All Witches Have Cats: A cat is one of the animals which wizarding students can bring as a pet to Hogwarts. In this case the cats are merely pets, not familiars. A Witch and teacher, Professor McGonagall, can turn into a cat. Both Hermione and Umbridge own cats, the latter of whom doubles as a Crazy Cat Lady. There is also a Crazy Cat Lady who lives near the Dursleys who turns out to be a Squib (a non-magical person born to two magical parents). In an interesting subversion, the only cat in the series that acts like a witch's familiar belongs to the one non-magical person at Hogwarts, Filch.
  • Ambition Is Evil:
    • The usual trait of those put in Slytherin House. Some fans argue this is less about ambition being bad than about the serious lack of high-profile "good" House members.
    • This is a general theme, in that many wizards put ambition over family, friends and morality. Dumbledore was frustrated by Small Town Boredom because he felt that his ambitions were thwarted by being Arianna's caretaker. He eventually comes to realize that the more humble Aberforth was the better man and likewise moderates to a life of service, leaving behind a great legacy of magical and social achievements.
    • Tom Riddle is essentially the picture of this trope, sacrificing his humanity and conscience for becoming the "most feared wizard of his age". He succeeds but in the end, becomes a shell of a man and ends up in limbo. In the end, people stop being afraid of him as well.
    • Severus Snape wanted to become a great wizard, rise high in Voldemort's favour and become a major Death Eater. But he also wanted to gain Lily's love at the same time. Eventually he spends most of his life in a job he hates, serving as a Double Reverse Quadruple Agent and using his considerable skills to serve Dumbledore's Zero-Approval Gambit.
    • Dumbledore argues that Harry is himself the true aversion in that he isn't tempted by power at all. Likewise Hermione, despite being highly knowledgeable about magic, wants to improve the lot of the less fortunate and help other people. Ron is also tempted by ambition but ultimately comes to terms with valuing himself in comparison to his more talented brothers and friends.
  • And Your Reward Is Clothes: A house-elf is freed from its master if it is given an article of clothing, which is actually sort of an inversion; the clothing itself isn't the reward (at least, not the only reward), but rather a symbol of the reward. Even more an Inverted Trope, clothing is most often seen as an extreme form of punishment. To be given clothes and set free means to be without a master and a family, and the lowest moment for a House Elf. Dobby, the most openly Free Elf seen in the books, is often looked at with absolute shame by other elves, and treated with sheer contempt when discussing the topic of wages.
  • Animal Espionage: Animagi can turn themselves into animals so as to go around without attracting suspicion as a human, though there's always an element to the disguise that identifies his/her human form. In Rita Skeeter's case, she turns into a literal surveillance bug (a beetle). This causes Bellatrix Lestrange to kill a fox at one point, as she believed it to be an auror... except in this case it genuinely was a fox.
  • Animal Motifs: An Animagus's animal form generally fits their personality (and a wizard can't pick their Animagus form).
    • On the other hand, wizards do seem to have some control of the form of their Patronus, which all wizards can create, not just Animagi.
  • Animate Dead: Inferi, first mentioned in Order of the Phoenix, are corpses that are animated and turned into what amounts to attack dogs using Dark Magic. Lord Voldemort makes use of them to terrify the people of Britain, especially throughout The Half-Blood Prince.
  • Animorphism: Animagi are witches and wizards that can transform into an animal at will.
  • Anomalous Art: Many of the works of art present in the Wizarding World are shown to be magical in origin, most notably photographs and paintings (especially the many, many portraits littered across the halls of Hogwarts) being animate to the point of being sentient.
  • Anonymous Benefactor: Harry has at least four through the course of the series: Dumbledore gives him the invisibility cloak. Sirius gives him a Firebolt. Barty Crouch is a malicious benefactor who helps Harry by proxy. Snape leaves the Sword of Gryffindor in the woods for him to find.
  • Anyone Can Die:
    • Not so much in the earlier books, but after Goblet of Fire, all bets are off. By the time book seven was announced, and Rowling herself stoked the fires by claiming that more people would die, entire websites were devoted to betting on which major characters were going to bite the big one, including the three main characters.
    • Professional betting odds establishments made a fortune on the last two books. One professional bookmaker lost over 60,000 pounds on the outcome of the last book because Harry both died and didn't die, and he ended up having to pay everyone.
  • Apathy Killed the Cat: Harry just tunes out whenever magical theory comes up. Hermione has to fill him in whenever it becomes plot relevant. Despite this he is actually said to have been reasonably good at Muggle school.
  • Arbitrary Skepticism: Luna Lovegood is constantly going on about the bizarre magical creatures her father writes about in his magazine. Even in a world where there's magic, dragons and the like, hardly anyone else believes they exist.
  • Arc Number: The number seven comes up numerous times throughout the series.
  • Arch-Enemy: Believing Harry Potter was the subject of a prophecy regarding his death, Voldemort set out to kill him as a child, only for Voldemort's own curse to rebound off the child and kill the Dark Lord. From that day, Voldemort spent every waking moment trying to find a way to restore his power and prove to the world that Harry Potter was no match for his Dark Magic; meanwhile, Harry Potter came to loathe Voldemort for killing his parents and waging war against the world he loved. As the Prophecy dictates, the two must face each other, as neither can live while the other survives.
    • In the beginning of Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, Harry mentally labels Draco Malfoy as his archenemy, which is sort of hilarious when you take the above paragraph into consideration.
  • The Artifact: The House Point system is this. In the first book, winning the House cup was serious business, but as the war against Voldemort gets more prominent the House Cup fades into the background. In Harry's last few years at Hogwarts, it isn't even mentioned who won at all.
  • Artifact of Death: Several: Riddle's diary, the Elder Wand, and Marvolo Gaunt's ring. The latter includes a literal Artifact of Death.
  • Artificial Outdoors Display: The ceiling of Hogwarts' Great Hall is enchanted to always correspond with the weather outside.
  • Artistic License – Biology: "Magic is a dominant and resilient gene." Given the number of wizards born to Muggle parents (and the extreme rarity of the reverse), this blatantly flies in the face of middle school genetics. You could say that A Wizard Did It (it is magic, after all), but a better explanation would perhaps be that magic is recessive and that squibs have mutations that block or repress the magic gene.
  • Audience Shift: As Harry and the original audience grew older, the maturity level of the books "grew" as well, making it so that whereas the early books are straight children's literature, the later ones fall more into the YA genre. Though it will be tricky for future generations of Potter fans, it makes sense when you realize the series took over a decade to be released in full; the 10-year olds who were reading Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone in 1997 were 20-year olds by the time they were reading Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows in 2007.
  • Awesome, but Impractical: Animagus transformation is largely considered more trouble than it's worth. To begin with, it's a particularly difficult branch of the already particularly difficult art of Transfiguration, and the consequences of botching the job are said to be disastrous. Even when carried out successfully, one is instantly labelled a criminal unless one gives full public disclosure of one's skill and animal form to the government to prevent misuse, which rather jives with the fact that stealth and inconspicuousness are the skill's main use. Even with all this, the form taken by the Animagus is fixed and determined by their personality, so they can easily end up with a useless conspicuous form for all their trouble. Cats, dogs and beetles? Useful and mundane-looking in any backdrop. Huge deer? Not so much.
  • Awesome Mc Coolname: A couple stand out, but Kingsley Shacklebolt and Albus Percival Wulfric Brian Dumbledore win the prize.
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    B 
  • Bad Powers, Bad People:
    • Double Subverted: Parseltongue is usually an ability only found in evil wizards, or Slytherins as they are usually called. Harry is good and runs into trouble when people assume he's bad because he possesses it. It turns out in the last book that the reason Harry has it is because it belongs to Voldemort, who gave him the ability when he accidentally turned Harry into a sixth Horcrux. And when Harry loses the fragment of Voldemort's soul residing in his body, he supposedly loses the ability with it.
    • To some degree it's debatable how much it's true that only those born with Parseltongue can speak it. Dumbledore is able to understand it without being able to speak it; Ron can speak it (by imitating Harry) without understanding it. If those who aren't born Parselmouths can do each one individually, it's reasonable to assume that someone might eventually figure out how to do both. But not many wizards would likely bother with such study, as most humans don't think snakes would be worth conversing with.
    • Perhaps played straight as well with Dumbledore. In the first book, McGonagall suggests that Dumbledore could do everything Voldemort was capable of if he were less noble. (Whether this means that Dumbledore can't do them or simply wouldn't is not answered.) For starters, Dumbledore knows Parseltongue; he can't speak it because he wasn't born with it, but he can understand it. Likewise, in the seventh book, Voldemort states that what he will achieve could have been Dumbledore's, implying that Dumbledore could have been as "great" if he weren't such a sentimental old fool. The temptation for power turns out to be his greatest weakness. He was ready to take over the world when younger, but this lead to his sister's death, and his temptation to use the Resurrection Stone made him forget the curse placed on it by Voldemort. This is also why he's never accepted the post of Minister of Magic, since he thinks it would lead to terrible things.
  • Badass Family: The Weasley siblings already include a curse-breaker, a dragon rancher, and a prefect when the books begin, and all of them go on to be successful in various fields. And let it be put on record that the matriarch of this family, Molly, kills Bellatrix, who is the second most powerful Death Eater after Voldemort himself. The fact that they happen to be close friends of Harry Potter (who himself is considered a member of the family, in more ways than one) certainly helps.
  • Barred from the Afterlife: Ghosts are people who either refused or were too scared to accept death and move on. Apparently, there's no take-backs later on if you change your mind.
  • Batman Gambit: Much of Dumbledore's extensive plan for the year following his death as explained to Harry at the end of Deathly Hallows was based on how he expected Harry, Ron, and Hermione to act.
  • Beam-O-War:
    • Spells have been known to clash and cancel each other out, though there's at least one instance of two characters firing spells at each other where the beams hit each other and ricochet off at angles, each hitting the person standing right next to the intended target.
    • Priori Incatatem, the current image for the trope page, is a magical phenomenon known exactly for this. It occurs when two wands which share the same (or directly related) Cores are used against one another in combat. The wizards involved are surrounded by golden light as their wands connect by a partially tangible golden thread, and the two have a more internal battle of will and determination.
  • Because Destiny Says So: Played with. Harry's destiny is self-fulfilling precisely because Voldemort insists on fulfilling it. Dumbledore suggests that not all prophecies must be fulfilled.
  • Begin with a Finisher: Despite having plenty of other powerful spells up his sleeve, the Big Bad Lord Voldemort usually just fires a Killing Curse at anyone who dares oppose him.
  • Beleaguered Boss: Downplayed in the case of Quidditch: While Wood takes the sport as Serious Business, organizing training sessions at dawn and keeps reminding his players between classes that the match is coming up, the team is sufficiently well-knit that it can be played for humor. Then in fifth year, Angelina Johnson becomes Captain and admits she might have been too hard on Wood (the fact that one of the teachers personally hates them and Ron is a very sub-par replacement for Wood doesn't make it easier). When Harry takes over in his sixth year, he not only has to deal with the usual Slytherin attacks and sabotage but Ron's lack of self-confidence and Cormac, the backup Keeper who clearly thinks he should be Captain and often acts as though this is the case, accidentally costing Griffyndor a match when he was explaining to a Beater how to do their job and ended up knocking Harry out.
  • Big Bad: Voldemort. Harry's nemesis, Dark Lord, leader of the Death Eaters, and the initiator of two Wizarding Wars. Almost everything bad that has happened from the past 50 years to the Wizarding World can be traced back to him in some way.
  • Big Labyrinthine Building: Hogwarts and the Ministry of Magic. Hogwarts in particular has all kinds of tunnels and underground caverns that few or no people know about, like the subterranean passageways to Hogsmeade that are an important plot point in Prisoner of Azkaban and the giant room deep underneath the school that houses the basilisk in Chamber of Secrets.
  • Big "NO!":
    • Several occur in the final chapter of Deathly Hallows, when Lord Voldemort forces Hagrid to present Harry's apparently dead body to the remaining wizard fighters at Hogwarts to signify his victory. Professor McGonagall, Ron and Hermione all say this.
  • Big "SHUT UP!":
    • Harry notably says this to Severus Snape in Chapter 14 of Prisoner of Azkaban. Snape is trying to bust Harry for illegally sneaking into Hogsmede and launches into a tirade of insults about Harry's father, which leads to Harry saying this to him and admitting that he knew James saved Snape's life while they were in school.
    • Played for Laughs in Order of the Phoenix after Harry is found innocent after his hearing at the Ministry of Magic and Fred, George and Ginny say, "He got off, he got off, he got off" over and over again, which Mrs. Weasley finds so annoying that she ultimately says this to them.
    • Downplayed in Chapter 3 of Half-Blood Prince when Dumbledore is discussing the minutiae of Sirius' will and reveals that the Black family's house elf, Kreacher, has passed into Harry's ownership. Kreacher of course protests this, and repetedly says that he "won't", to which Harry responds by saying this to him. This not only shuts Kreacher up, but proves that Harry is indeed his new rightful owner, rather than Bellatrix Lestrange (which, according to Dumbledore, would have been the alternative.)
    • In the aftermath of the Battle of Hogwarts in Deathly Hallows when the apparently dead body of Harry is presented to the survivors at Hogwarts, Voldemort says this to them to quell them after they all begin screaming and crying with grief. Voldemort succeeds in silencing them with a silencing spell, but only briefly.
  • Birds of a Feather:
    • Harry and Ginny are both Quidditch-loving Leos with dark senses of humor. They also share a history with Voldemort that leads to their first deep conversation in Order of the Phoenix when Ginny is the only one who can reassure Harry that Voldemort isn't possessing him because she knows what that would be like.
    • Neville and Hannah share an interest in Herbology, fierce loyalty and courage as members of Dumbledore's Army, and massive self-esteem issues which hold back Neville for years and cause Hannah to have a breakdown in the middle of her O.W.L. exams.
  • Bitch in Sheep's Clothing: Quirrell and Umbridge both fake niceness in order to conceal extreme evil. The latter is arguably the queen of this trope.
  • Bittersweet Ending:
    • Prisoner of Azkaban. Even though Sirius manages to convince Harry, Ron, Hermione, Dumbledore, and Lupin of his innocence, Wormtail still gets away, preventing Sirius's true exoneration before the Ministry and eventually bringing about Voldemort's resurrection a year later. And the only good and skilled Defence Against the Dark Arts teacher quits to avoid being fired after Snape reveals that he's a werewolf.
    • Deathly Hallows. Even though Voldemort is finally dead, and most of the Death Eaters are killed or captured, Hedwig, Moody, Dobby, Colin, Fred, Lupin, Tonks, and Snape all died in the process.
  • Black and White Morality: The series starts out this way. Dumbledore is the Big Good, Harry and his friends are the heroes, the other students are generally nice except for the Slytherins, and Voldemort is the Big Bad. As the series goes on, it adds more and more shades of gray with turncoats on both sides, a corrupt government opposing Voldemort, heroes paying evil unto evil, and Harry discovering that his father and Dumbledore have... complicated backstories.
  • Black and Gray Morality:
    • Played with. The Ministry of Magic is definitely gray; although they're much better than the Death Eaters, they have more than their share of Quislings, Fantastic Racists, and Obstructive Bureaucrats. Harry and his friends/family are more on the unblemished side, but not entirely.
    • Harry occasionally slips towards this in battle; when crossed or when his friends are threatened, Harry can become quite pitiless, instinctively resorting to the nastiest/most powerful curses he can think of (save Avada Kedavra). He even casts the Cruciatus Curse at a few points (though he never uses it very effectively; as Bellatrix explains after he tries it on her, in order to cast an Unforgivable Curse successfully you have to really want to go through with it—the one time Harry does the spell properly, he really does mean it).
  • Black Cloak: Death Eaters wear them. Dementors wear them. The Hogwarts school uniform includes black robes.
  • Blasting It Out of Their Hands: The Expelliarmus spell, which is intended for exactly this purpose. Amusingly, the spell seems capable of disarming a person of anything, whether it's a weapon or a book.
  • Blonde, Brunette, Redhead: In the books, if you pool the main and beta trios, you get one of each gender — Neville (whom JKR once stated she pictured as a blond) and Luna the blondes, Harry and Hermione the brunettes, and Ron and Ginny the redheads.
  • Bloodless Carnage: The Killing Curse's inability to leave physical injuries on bodies provides a convenient excuse for not describing much blood and gore, so most deaths in the series play this straight because they are bloodless and painless. That said, there are spells for dismembering, and they can get bloody indeed. Sectumsempra in particular averts this trope by slashing the target with essentially invisible blades, with predictable results.
  • Blue and Orange Morality: House-elves, like Dobby and Kreacher, are so fiercely loyal to their masters/mistresses (this includes their family and anyone who is given ownership of said house-elf) that they will do almost literally anything for them. They would even maim themselves if it means their master(s) would be pleased!
    • However, due to a lot of mistreatment by many owners, they can make use of loopholes within their masters' orders to try and help other people. They will however, still obey their masters when given a direct order.
    • House-elves seem to enjoy being enslaved, sometimes even feeling insulted should their masters try to give them anything other than kindness.
    • Crossing over with Cool and Unusual Punishment, the old house-elves of the House of Black having their heads stuffed and mounted on a wall was considered their highest honor!(probably out of respect for their services)
  • Boarding School: Students at Hogwarts generally live at Hogwarts and go back home during holidays.
  • Boarding School of Horrors:
    • Adventurous though it may be, Hogwarts plays this trope to the hilt in a lot of ways:
      • On Harry's first day at school, there's an announcement to the student body to please not enter the third floor corridor unless you want to die horribly.
      • There is a rampant, unchecked bullying problem that has been ongoing for at least half a century (Harry's father was a bully himself, while Harry and later, Harry's son were both victims of it).
      • Dumbledore knowingly hired two different teachers he knew for a fact were incapable of doing the job he hired them to do, while two other staff members display, at the best of times, undisguised disdain for students.
      • Voldemort himself went there half a century ago and arranged a lot of "nasty incidents", including the murder of another student (who still hangs around as a ghost).
      • It gets, if possible, worse during the brief tenures of Dolores Umbridge in Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix and the Carrow siblings in Deathly Hallows as temporary Headmasters of the school. During the latter, some prefects took to using the Cruciatus curse on first years (about 11 years old) for refusing to use it themselves in the now-mandatory Dark Arts class (Defense Against the Dark Arts having been dropped from the curriculum).
    • Smeltings Academy, the all-boys Muggle school Dudley goes to and that Uncle Vernon attended in his youth, seems to channel the Victorian schools that originated this trope. The uniform includes a gnarled stick for the students to hit each other with when the teachers are not looking. This is supposedly a great help in preparing the students for the future.
    • This is presumably the case at St. Brutus's Secure Centre for Incurably Criminal Boys, the school that Harry attends in the cover story that Uncle Vernon tells his sister Marge to prevent her finding out the truth about Harry. At Vernon's prompting, Harry admits to receiving frequent beatings intended to stamp out his deviant behavior. It's unclear if the school actually exists in the narrative, or if Uncle Vernon fabricated it for the story
  • Bond Villain Stupidity: Massive amounts from Voldemort, who does many things that the Evil Overlord List advises you not to do. Probably more a case of Sanity Has Advantages than anything else.
    • Mentioned frequently by Dumbledore, that Tom Riddle/Voldemort never bothered to study those powers he already considered useless, meaning Voldemort's plans could always be defeated by such "trivial" things as Love.
    • He did follow the Evil Overlord List's suggestion to leave (one of) the item(s) that is the source of his power and his greatest weakness in his safe deposit box instead of a dungeon (well, somebody else's safe deposit box), but that doesn't stop the heroes from stealing it anyway.
    • He also followed #101, by not delegating away the task of killing "the infant who is destined to overthrow [him]", but trying to kill Harry himself. That worked rather brilliantly.
    • In perhaps his final big villain stupidity moment, he makes one of his lackeys check to see if Harry is dead, not doing it himself or using a messy non-magic way of ensuring his greatest opponent remains dead. Of course, he's physically exhausted from the backlash of his curse, so he can't well do it himself.
  • Book Dumb: Ron isn't a diligent student, though when he does try he proves to be quite adept. Fred and George are even worse academically, but they're experts in magical joke item inventions, which eventually gets them far in the business world.
  • Bookends:
    • Harry's life with the Dursleys. When he was one, having recently lost his parents and disembodied Voldemort, Hagrid brings him to Privet Drive riding Sirius' magical motorcycle. When he is about to become seventeen, with the magical protections about to fall, Hagrid is the one that carries Harry out of Privet Drive on the same motorcycle. Hagrid even lampshades it.
    • Also, in book one: Ron: "Are you a witch or not?" In book seven: Hermione: "Are you a wizard or what?"
    • Harry's thoughts on Snape is first a question, "Who is that man?" His thoughts on him after Voldemort's final defeat and after Snape's death? It's an answer to that very question, "The bravest man I ever knew."
    • The entire series effectively begins and ends with Voldemort getting the Avada Kedavra curse reflected back at him by Harry. In the first book, Voldemort's power is negated by Lily's selfless sacrifice; his spells won't keep during the final battle because Harry willingly gives his life to save his friends (he gets better).
    • The entire series also ends with the death of a couple with a young son: James and Lily Potter at the beginning, leaving their son Harry an orphan, and Lupin and Tonks, leaving their son Teddy an orphan.
  • Boomerang Bigot:
    • Voldemort. One of the goals of the Death Eaters is the elimination of any wizard who isn't pure-blooded, especially if they are Muggle-born, but Voldemort himself is a half-blood (his father was a Muggle). But then, he is based on Adolf Hitler (see below).
    • Snape is a double hitter — in his youth, he was highly prejudiced against Muggles and Muggle-borns despite being a half-blood himself and in love with a particular Muggle-born; as an adult teacher, he mocks Hermione for being, as he once put it, "an insufferable know-it-all" — ironic coming from Snape, who is himself an Insufferable Genius.
  • Born of Magic:
    • The most obvious example of magically-generated consciousness is the Hogwarts Sorting Hat, after "the founders put some brains in [him]" via unspecified magic.
    • Most 'common' magical items are not differentiated as being sentient, or merely enchanted to appear as such.
  • Brain Bleach: The reason why Rowling has yet to reveal the exact method of creating a Horcrux. It supposedly made one of her editors vomit. (For note, one of the steps is committing murder in order to split your soul to place it in the Horcrux. Murder is one thing, but the entire process is implied to involve crossing the Moral Event Horizon, and it's certainly treated as such in-universe. For one Horcrux.)
  • Break the Haughty: The last two books are an extended exercise in Break The Haughty for the Malfoy family, after Lucius bungles the retrieval of the prophecy at the end of Order of the Phoenix. Draco's assignment to kill Dumbledore in Half-Blood Prince is essentially elaborate torture for the Malfoys, as Voldemort believes Draco will fail and die in the attempt, or he'll fail and Voldemort will kill him. Draco himself is horrified when his Vanishing Cabinet stunt winds up letting the homicidal monster Fenrir Greyback into Hogwarts. Deathly Hallows finds the Malfoy family the Butt Monkeys of the Death Eaters, living in utter terror of Voldemort. In his last appearance Lucius has a black eye.
  • Brick Joke: In what is perhaps the most elusive brick joke in the series, at the start of book 5, Harry and Dudley are attacked by Dementors. After Harry fights them off, he attempts to explain to his aunt and uncle what happened, only to realize it's hopeless because neither of them have any idea what he's talking about. Petunia finally says, "They guard the wizard prison, Azkaban," and Harry asks how she could possibly know that. Petunia responds with "I overheard — that awful boy — telling her about them, years ago." At the time (and even after finishing the series), everyone simply assumed "that awful boy" to be Harry's father, James Potter. However, at the very end of book 7, we find out that it was actually Severus Snape. While watching his memories, Harry witnesses the scene "first-hand," but it's played so quickly and amidst so many other things very few people pick up on it.
  • Broken Aesop: Has its own page.
  • Building of Adventure: Hogwarts is the setting for many, many adventures.
  • Butt-Monkey:
    • Neville "Why's It Always Me?" Longbottom is always the punchline in slapstick jokes. His family tried to kill him in order to see if he had magical skills for God's sake.
    • Peter Pettigrew (during his days at Hogwarts) did little but get mocked by his peers.
    • There is a minor character (Dawlish) who is sort of a background Butt-Monkey in that the only time we see him, he gets defeated in one hit, and whenever he is mentioned, he has been cursed or failed in something. This is pretty shocking when you consider he's an Auror, the equivalent of magic police (who above that are also elite dark wizard catchers), and is therefore supposed to be skilled at defensive magic.
  • By the Eyes of the Blind: Thestrals are only visible to people who have witnessed death first-hand. Not only that, but they have to fully comprehend what they saw — Harry wasn't able to see thestrals when he first came to Hogwarts despite having witnessed the murder of his parents, but he is able to see them when he comes back fifth year after he saw a friend die.

    C 
  • Calling Your Attacks: Played straight at first, but justified in that you have to say the name of the spell in order to cast it. However, it gets subverted when a major portion of the sixth-year curriculum turns out to be learning how to cast spells without calling them, specifically so that you don't alert your enemies as to what you are doing.
  • Canis Latinicus: Expelliarmus, Wingardium Leviosa, Petrificus Totalus, Riddikulus. There are real Latin spells as well.
  • Can't Live Without You: Inverted by the prophecy in the fifth book — "Neither can live while the other survives."
  • Capture and Replicate: Polyjuice Potion can allow one to mimic any person, but it requires a piece of the person, usually a hair. The piece must be recent and taken while the subject is alive, so in order to impersonate them for more than a few hours, it's necessary to keep them captive somewhere. To protect against the technique, people who are at risk of being replaced use Trust Passwords.
  • Card-Carrying Villain: Godelot, a historical personage and author of Magick Most Evile, reveled in his villainy (although a passage quoted in Half-Blood Prince indicates that even he would not dare go into the field of Horcruxes).
  • Catchphrase: Several characters have one.
    • Ron: "Bloody hell!"
    • Hermione: "I read about it in Hogwarts: A History."
    • Moody: "Constant vigilance!"
    • Umbridge: "Hem hem."
    • Slughorn: "Merlin's beard!"
  • Category Traitor: The Death Eaters consider wizardry to be in the blood. They also feel that all "real" wizards are obliged to be "loyal" to "their own kind," and thus despise all regular humans, fantasy creatures, and above all else the so-called "mud-bloods"—Muggle-born wizards (and later, once they resurface and begin openly fighting the Order of the Phoenix, any and all wizards who don't agree with the Death Eater ideology's arbitrary definition of a "real" wizard). Unsurprisingly, their contempt for pure-blood and half-blood wizards who care for muggles and "mudbloods" turns out to become a big part of their undoing, as young Snape loses faith in them because of his love for the "mud-blood" witch Lily Evans.
  • Cat-like Dragons: The Chinese Fireball dragon — which is loosely based upon the mythical Chinese long — is alternately known as the "lion-dragon" and sports a leonine visage with a mane of spikes around its neck and a short, cat-like snout.
  • Cardboard Prison: Despite being reportedly inescapable, Azkaban can't hold any plot-relevant characters for more than a book. We first learn about the prison when it's learned that Sirius Black has escaped, then Goblet of Fire reveals an escapee who preceded him, and Order of the Phoenix and Deathly Hallows both feature mass break-outs, though those are attributed to the jailors (the Dementors) favoring their evil inmates to the lawful Ministry.
  • Central Theme: Love is what makes us strongest. Prejudice and bigotry are bad. Everybody has to die eventually.
    • For her part, J. K. Rowling says that the central theme is death: "The theme of how we react to death, how much we fear it. Of course, I think which is a key part of the book because Voldemort is someone who will do anything not to die. He's terrified of death. And in many ways, all of my characters are defined by their attitude to death and the possibility of death."
    • Also, whether certain values — courage, intelligence, hard-work and cunning — can be easily sorted and identified. People can be brave in all sorts of unexpected ways, even the Bookworm can't know everything, and everyone needs a good deal of cunning to survive. Even the best magic in the world can't identify What You Are in the Dark and there are many cases, where people "sort too soon" and judge too readily.
  • Cerebus Syndrome: The darkness of the plot was there from the beginning, but it gets more visible as the story progresses, so that a fun mystery-adventure story turns into a mid-war drama about mortality and grief.
  • Chameleon Camouflage: The Dissillusionment Charm has this effect, and if done well enough can confer actual invisibility. Putting it on a garment is one way to make an Invisibility Cloak, though the charm fades over time.
  • Character Name and the Noun Phrase: The book titles all follow the pattern of "Harry Potter and the..."
  • Chekhov's Armoury: Chekhov's Gun is common in the series; e.g., The Deluminator. Fans obsess over details in earlier books, looking for hidden Chekhov's Guns, to the point where J.K. Rowling made a public apology about accidentally giving a minor, unimportant character the same last name as Harry's mum.
  • Chekhov's Boomerang
    • Felix Felicis is a potion Harry acquires his Potions classes that provides the drinker good luck. Hermione and Ron think Harry spiked Ron with it for one of the Quidditch matches - he hadn't - and the confidence Ron gained from the thought brought him up enough to win the game. Later, Harry uses it to get the true memory from Slughorn where Tom Riddle asked him about Horcruxes. Soon after that, Harry gives his friends the rest of the potion when he and Dumbledore leave Hogwarts, thinking that is when Malfoy is going to make his move. It causes every spell shot at them Harry's friends to miss, saving their lives.
    • Sirius's magical mirror is given to Harry in The Order of the Phoenix as a gift. Harry doesn't make actual use of it until the seventh book, where Harry begins to start seeing Dumbledore's eyes in the mirror. In a bind, Harry gives a plea for help into the mirror, allowing Dobby to find and rescue. Later, in Hogsmeade, Harry and co. get saved by a stranger who turns out to be connected to the mirror: Dumbledore's brother, Aberforth, had the other half of the mirror and used it to see Harry and know he was coming to Hogsmeade when he did.
  • Chekhov's Gun:
    • The series has its own page.
    • More accurately, Chekhov's Wand. We learn that Harry and Voldemort's wands share a common source for their magical cores; it takes on plot significance from book 4 onward. Also, the Vanishing Cabinet, and Godric Gryffindor's Sword. Along with a fair laundry list of other objects. Of the six Horcruxes, we actually see four of them before they are recognized for what they are: Tom Riddle's diary, Slytherin's locket, Nagini the snake, and Harry himself.
    • The vanishing cabinets are first mentioned in book 2, one at Hogwarts and the other at a Knockturn Alley shop. This particular gun waits until book 6 to be fired.
  • Chekhov's Gunman:
    • Cedric Diggory is introduced in a brief and basically unimportant cameo in Prisoner of Azkaban, as captain of and Seeker for the Hufflepuff Quidditch team. This appearance, in which Cedric offers to replay the match after an appearance by the dementors results in Harry fainting and Cedric catching the Snitch, serves to establish Cedric as decent and honorable. Cedric then becomes a pivotal character in the next book, Goblet of Fire.
    • Grindelwald, mentioned in the Philosopher's Stone and barely ever brought up again until Deathly Hallows. Same goes for Aberforth Dumbledore, who was first mentioned in Goblet of Fire and first appeared in Order of the Phoenix.
      • Even better? We didn't know who Aberforth was until Deathly Hallows. In both Order of the Phoenix and Half Blood Prince, he is only referred to as "the barman of the Hog's Head," though there are hints to his identity regarding his inappropriate charms on goats...
    • The name Regulus Black briefly comes up in one of the books, then becomes significantly more important in Deathly Hallows.
    • The name Sirius Black gets mentioned in passing in the very first chapter of the very first book; he only comes up again in the third book, as the title character.
    • The Lovegoods also get a brief mention early in The Goblet of Fire, although Luna doesn't become important until the next novel, and her father until the 7th.
    • In a way, Slytherin's Monster. She only appears in one book, as one of the main antagonists, and it seems like she probably shouldn't be important to the plot after she dies... Wrong. It's later revealed that her venom is one of the only ways of destroying Lord Voldemort's horcruxes, something that comes to bite the Dark Lord in the butt. Repeatedly. If only that one horcrux hadn't opened the Chamber again...
    • Griphook, the goblin who shows Harry to his vault in Philosopher's Stone, reappears in Deathly Hallows with an important role. Mr. Ollivander, who sells Harry his wand in Philosopher's Stone, also is more important to the plot in Deathly Hallows.
    • Scabbers, Ron's pet rat, mentioned occasionally as comic relief in the first two books and then part of a comic subplot in the third book when Hermione's cat wants to eat him. He's revealed to be Peter Pettigrew, the villain of the third book, and he's pivotal to how the rest of the series plays out.
    • Harry receives a warning letter from Mafalda Hopkirk of the Improper Use of Magic office. She also sends him a notice in Order of the Phoenix and is impersonated by Hermione in Deathly Hallows.
    • One of the kids' textbooks throughout the series is A History of Magic by Bathilda Bagshot, who becomes important in Deathly Hallows.
  • Chekhov's Skill:
    • Ron's aptitude for wizard chess becomes important in getting the group past the defenses for the Philosopher's Stone.
    • Harry's prodigious skill with casting a Patronus becomes useful in a variety of situations involving Dementors beyond the initial purpose of defending himself from Dementors during Quidditch games.
    • Hermione having taken Ancient Runes comes into play in the seventh book, as her copy of Tales of Beedle the Bard was written in runic alphabet.
    • Neville's skill at Herbology becomes useful during the final battle, when he weaponizes Mandrakes against the bad guys.
    • Harry's Quidditch playing. He's good at flying and good at spotting and getting ahold of small golden objects. This comes in handy when he has to catch a flying key in The Philosopher's Stone, and when he has to get the dragon's egg in the First Task of the Triwizard Tournament.
    • Harry's Seeker skills and the generally harmless "Expelliarmus" spell both play key roles in Harry's final defeat of Voldemort.
  • Childhood Friend Romance: Several:
    • Of the Unlucky kind, Snape was friends with Lily when they were kids, and loved her, but she ended up with James instead.
    • Of the Victorious kind: Ginny, for Harry. Ron, for Hermione.
  • The Chooser of The One: Voldemort (unknowingly) got to choose his arch-enemy, and picked Harry.
  • Chronic Hero Syndrome: Harry does sort of have a "saving people thing," as Hermione puts it. This is also lampshaded by Ron in the fourth book. He mentions that Harry couldn't help "playing the hero."
  • Chuck Cunningham Syndrome:
    • Ludo Bagman plays an important role in the fourth novel, however he never appears again after escaping from the goblins. He is only briefly mentioned in the next book.
    • Cornelius Fudge was not seen at all in the last book. It's unknown what happened to him following the take over at the Ministry.
    • Florean Fortescue was kidnapped at the beginning of the sixth book yet we never learn about what happened to him.
  • The Clan:
    • Deconstructed with the House of Black, a well-known pure-blood family known in previous generations for its fixation with blood purity. Was once wealthy but the loss of numbers and the fact that quite a few of its named members are a bit nuts, has veered more toward Big, Screwed-Up Family.
    • The Weasleys, despite their massive numbers (even outside the ones directly introduced in the series), don't meet the requisites otherwise - until arguably the epilogue, by which point Arthur and Molly Weasley's children and children-in-law include professional athletes, successful businessmen, known geniuses, war heroes, dragon experts, the Minister of Magic... and Harry Potter himself.
  • Clever Crows: Ravenclaw House, although intelligence is its defining trait and it is not the most sinister of the Houses. Despite the name, Ravenclaw's mascot is an eagle.
  • Cold-Blooded Torture: The Cruciatus Curse inflicts extreme pain and is one of the three illegal Unforgivable Curses. Prolonged exposure to the curse, as happened to Neville's parents, can cause severe and permanent mental damage.
    • Umbridge's detentions are also an example of this, as she forces Harry (and later Lee Jordan and probably others) to use a dark magic quill that cuts the words onto the back of the writer's hand and uses their blood as ink.
  • Color-Coded for Your Convenience: Various colors are strongly associated with both good and evil across the story:
  • Coming-of-Age Story: Harry Potter is as much about growing up as it is about wizards.
  • Contrasting Sequel Antagonist: Lord Voldemort is the consistent Big Bad, but each individual book also has its own secondary antagonist whose nature and motivations often say much about the themes and conflict at the heart of each installment.
    • The Philosopher's Stone has Quirinus Quirrell, the frail and cowardly servant of the crippled Voldemort.
    • The Chamber of Secrets has "Tom Riddle", the ghostly echo of Voldemort's former self.
    • The Prisoner of Azkaban has Wormtail, the confidant of the Potters who betrayed his friends out of cowardice.
    • The Goblet of Fire has Voldemort's mole at Hogwarts, the troubled young Death Eater initiate who remains faithful to Voldemort in the wake of his downfall.
    • The Order of the Phoenix has Dolores Umbridge, the corrupt Ministry bureaucrat who denies Voldemort's return
    • The Half-Blood Prince has Draco Malfoy, who finally openly joins Voldemort after six years of lurking in the background at Hogwarts.
  • Conveniently Coherent Thoughts: Averted with Legilimency, which reveals thoughts in a disjointed manner and requires much training to sort out which thoughts are important.
  • Cool Train: It's pulled by a steam locomotive and carries the students to and from Hogwarts at each end of the school year, as well as for holidays.
  • Corporal Punishment: Not unexpected, given the Boarding School setting. Early on, it's played relatively comically, with Argus Filch constantly bemoaning the fact that he's not allowed to string misbehaving students up by their ankles anymore. It gets rather darker later, with Order of the Phoenix featuring a quill that carves whatever you write into your hand, and God-only-knows-what going on at Hogwarts during Deathly Hallows.
  • Crapsaccharine World: Once you get past the initial cool factor of the magical world, the Harry Potter universe is not an exceptionally happy one. Fantastic Racism of absurd extremes permeates every level of the wizarding world, and the government seems to be run by evil, scheming, political glory hounds (regardless of their allegiance to "good" or "bad"). The justice system is a Kangaroo Court, the regulations on dangerous magic are feeble at best, the very system of instruction in magic carries a high injury/mortality rate due to constant attack by dark forces, the entire population as a whole seems to have crippling naiveté about the non-magical world, the "magical" ecosystem is implied to be highly degraded, and the overall respect for human, sapient non-human, or animal life is appallingly low. The in-universe explanation is that this was a cultural reaction to Voldemort, and that it supposedly went away once he was defeated. When Kingsley Shaklebolt becomes Minister of Magic temporarily after Voldemort's death and later on permanently, things start to go uphill again slowly, as the law is reformed to remove the Fantastic Racism and the Corruption from the Government.
  • Create Your Own Hero: Harry Potter has a Self-Fulfilling Prophecy variant of this: when learning a child with the potential to kill him would come, Voldemort tracked down the baby and tried to kill him. This ironically resulted in him marking the kid as his equal, just as the prophecy foretold.
  • Crouching Moron, Hidden Badass:
    • Luna "Loony" Lovegood may act like she ain't playing with a full deck, but when it comes down to an actual battle... watch yourself. She participates in several battles, but the only time she gets injured the entire series is when a door gets blown off its hinges into her face and she flies across the room.
    • Neville Longbottom, Butt-Monkey poster boy in the early years, becomes a seriously competent fighter in his own right from the latter parts of the fifth year on. In the battle of the Department of Mysteries in Order of the Phoenix, he is the only other student besides Harry who stays fighting right up until the end, whereas everyone else gets incapacitated one way or another during it. He also weaponizes his talent for herbology in Deathly Hallows, and even takes out Nagini, Voldemort's last horcrux, by drawing the Sword of Gryffindor from the Sorting Hat.
  • Crushing Handshake: The Slytherin quidditch team captain tends to do this when he shakes hands with the Gryffindor captain at the begining of a match. In the first few books, Oliver Wood is able to give as good as he gets, but Angelina and Harry (during their respective stints as captain in the later books) have to keep themselves from wincing.
  • Cryptic Background Reference: At one point Harry sees some warlocks drinking at a pub, but whatever makes a warlock different from a wizard is never mentioned. Simply being a male witch as is typical is unlikely, as the series treats "witch" as the female equivalent of "wizard".
    • The difference is finally explained in one of Rowling's footnotes in Tales of Beedle the Bard: a warlock is either an unusually fierce-looking wizard or an unusually skilled and accomplished wizard.
  • Cue O'Clock: The Weasleys have a clock with nine hands representing the Weasleys, and dials labeled with place names, like "Home", "School", and "Prison". The clock doesn't tell time; rather, it tells where the Weasleys are.
  • Cultural Posturing: Even the Muggle-born wizards are condescending toward Muggles.
  • Cultural Translation:
    • Editors at Scholastic Books forced a change from "Philosopher's Stone" — a genuine item of folklore and alchemy — to "Sorcerer's Stone" for the American editions on the grounds that American children would have no idea what a Philosopher's Stone was. Due to the negative reaction, British terms and slang in the later books, such as "jumper," "taking the mickey," "snogging," and "trainers" were left in.
    • Inverted in the French version of Philosopher's Stone, where Nicolas Flamel is so well-known that mentioning the Philosopher's Stone would make it a Spoiler Title. The title was changed to Harry Potter à l'école des sorciers (Harry Potter at Wizarding School).
  • Curse:
    • Spells that have a major negative effect are often referred to as "curses." More minor curses are called "hexes" and "jinxes."
    • Hogwarts has never retained Defense Against the Dark Arts professor for longer than a year in half a century. This is because a young Voldemort (still known as Tom Riddle) cursed the position after Dumbledore rejected him for it.
  • Cursed Item: Many of these are mentioned throughout the Harry Potter series, and a major part of Arthur Weasely's job involves tracking down ordinary objects that have been cursed to attack Muggles. These items include:
    • A cursed hat that made Bill's ears shrivel up.
    • A pair of shoes that eats the wearer's feet and are impossible to remove, given to a random minor character seen at St. Mungo's.
    • Harry's Nimbus 2000 becomes one during one Quidditch game, when a curse is placed on it that causes the broom to try to knock Harry off.
    • A necklace seen in Borgin and Burke's that's caused the deaths of many owners. In Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, Katie Bell is given the necklace and touches a small part of it, causing her to lose her mind and be unconscious for months.
    • Harry has had many items confiscated from him on suspicion of being cursed items sent to kill him. Such items include his Firebolt when first given to him, and all the inherited items from Dumbledore.
    • Marvolo Gaunt's ring, in addition to being a Horcrux, also carries a powerful curse. When Dumbledore puts it on, he dooms himself to a slow and inevitable death. This is in contrast to other Horcruxes in the series, which have a corrupting influence but are not necessarily fatal.

    D 
  • Darker and Edgier: A downplayed version in that the movies don't really add any darker content than the books (in addition to cutting out stuff).... However the atmosphere of the movies as a whole feel much darker especially compared to the early children books. The film's iconic theme alone gives the first story a much more somber atmosphere than its book counterpart.... And thats not counting the brilliant use of cinematic techniques and technology such as white and black flashbacks, giving the films feel of targeting older demograph than their books until Harry is past 16.
    • The series gradually gets darker and darker as it moves forward. Although the first book starts in the aftermath of a double homicide, so...
  • Dead End Job: The Defense Against the Dark Arts teaching position. Throughout the entire series, no one holds the post for an entire book. By Goblet of Fire, "Mad-Eye" Moody coming out of retirement to teach is seen as a desperation move, as Ron notes just since they've been there they've had one teacher die, another get his mind wiped, and a third sacked. Half-Blood Prince reveals this has gone on even longer than that, as the position has been literally jinxed ever since Voldemort tried and failed to convince Dumbledore to give him the post.
  • Dead Guy Junior: Lots of examples from the epilogue, including James Sirius Potter, Lily Luna Potter (even though Luna Lovegood doesn't die), Albus Severus Potter, and Fred Weasley II.
  • Deadpan Snarker: Honestly, if you took a shot every time a character made a wry comment, you'd be pretty messed up early on in the series. There are so many examples, it has its own page.
  • Death Ray: The Killing Curse, Avada Kedavra. The reason that Harry is known as "The Boy-Who-Lived" is because he's the only person in the wizarding world to have ever survived the spell.
  • Declining Promotion:
    • Horace Slughorn is described as "preferring the backseat." However, it's not so much exerting power as it is enjoying being able to influence the world thanks to former students he gave a boost to (e.g., casting a vote for a new junior minister or getting free tickets to a Quidditch match). Harry has a mental image of a spider pulling a webstrand to bring a juicy fly closer.
    • It was stated more than a few times Mr. Weasley could have easily been promoted within the Ministry years ago, but enjoyed where he was in the Misuse of Muggle Artifacts Office too much. The truth was that Arthur was being held back because of his fondness for Muggles and refusal to subscribe to the myths about blood purity. He does finally take a promotion AND get rank in the Order of Phoenix as the series goes on, however.
    • Albus Dumbledore was repeatedly offered the chance to become Minister for Magic. He declined every time in order to remain at Hogwarts. It turned out that he was afraid of his weakness for power. Minister Cornelius Fudge still badgered Dumbledore for advice in his first years in office, though.
  • Deconstructed Trope: Happens a lot in the series, especially concerning character dynamics. A character is a Butt-Monkey? Turns out that they have some pretty depressing baggage and it motivates them to become a total badass later. Another is a Cloudcuckoolander? They are relentlessly teased and bullied over it and have very few friends. Our main man is a Chosen One and Famed In-Story? They really hate it. Kid Genius? Is seen as an Insufferable Genius (which they sometimes are).
  • Disproportionate Retribution: The treatment Harry received from the Dursleys for most of the eleven years prior to his acceptance into Hogwarts, and occasionally afterward as well. He was confined to the cupboard under the stairs until age 11 just for existing, yelled at for asking questions or innocently mentioning strange dreams, and punished (up to and including being denied meals) for exhibiting signs of the hated magic, which he neither understood nor was able to control. For example, in the first book he gets locked in the cupboard for much of the summer just for talking to a snake after the "vanishing glass" incident.
  • Distant Finale: The last chapter of book seven, better known as the Epilogue, takes place 19 years after the end of the previous chapter.
  • Direct Line to the Author: Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, Quidditch Through the Ages, and The Tales of Beedle the Bard are all presented as reprintings of in-universe books. The Tales of Beedle the Bard also makes reference to the existence of a seven-volume biography of Harry Potter, thus implying that the main Harry Potter series exists in its own universe as non-fiction as well.
  • Ditch the Bodyguards: In several books, Harry is being threatened by someone (usually Voldemort) and everybody tries to keep him safe. It never works; somehow, for some reason, he always finds his way to the source of the problem to face it himself.
  • Does This Remind You of Anything?: The Death Eaters are a group who believe in "purity" who overtake the government in an effort to eradicate "nonpure" people and are led by an extremely creepy-looking dude.
  • Domestic Abuse: It's implied in Order of the Phoenix that Snape's father was at the very least verbally abusive to Snape's mother, and that this was a large contributing factor in his anti-Muggle attitudes.
  • Don't Fear the Reaper: According to J. K. Rowling, the Central Theme of the series has always been death. It doesn't really come to the forefront until Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, where Dumbledore states that Harry is the Master of Death not because he owned all three of the Deathly Hallows, but rather because through his experiences where he unknowingly gathered all three, he came to realize that death is inevitable and that there are far worse fates than dying, and accepted his death. The Tale of the Three Brothers, where the legend of the Deathly Hallows comes from, shows that if you try to escape death or are unable to accept the death of a loved one (the first and second brothers, represented by Voldemort and Snape in The Deathly Hallows), then death will be a grueling bastard. However, if you accept death as inevitability (the youngest brother, represented by Harry), then death will greet you like an old friend. All of this stems from Rowling's own experiences with the death of her mother.
  • Don't Tell Mama: The only time the Weasley twins get talked into cooperating with authority is when Hermione threatens to tell Mrs. Weasley about their antics.
    Hermione: If you don't stop, I'm going to...
    Fred: Put us in detention?
    George: Make us write lines?
    Hermione: No, but I will write to your mother.
    George: You wouldn't...
  • Doorstopper: All of the books from the fourth onwards; the fifth, weighing in at 766 pages for the Bloomsbury hardback edition and over 800 pages in some American editions, is the winner here. (Books 1-7, put together, are said to total 1,084,170 words.)
    Stephen Fry: So if any of you hear someone pronounce her name "Rohw-ling", you have my permission to hit them over the head with — not with Order of the Phoenix, that would be cruel. Something smaller, like a fridge.
  • Downer Ending:
    • The Goblet of Fire marks the first time Voldemort scores a victory, managing to gain a huge advantage over the forces of good and traumatizing Harry in the process.
    • The Order of the Phoenix ends with a major character death that plunges Harry into a deep grief, as everyone fears the impending Second Wizarding War.
    • The Half-Blood Prince ends with the villains in a stronger position than ever before as several heroes betray their allies and pull off a plot commissioned by Voldemort himself.
  • Dr. Genericius: A lot of wizards have names ending in "us": Albus, Bilius (Ron's middle name), Lucius, Regulus Arcturus, Remus, Rubeus (Hagrid), Severus, Scorpius, Sirius... It seems to be more frequent in the Pureblood families, though.
  • The Dreaded: Each side has their own. Voldemort is easily the most feared being on the planet. His power and cruelty are legendary; people are terrified of even speaking his name long after he is thought to be dead. Even he has his own in Dumbledore, the only person Voldemort ever feared.
  • Dub Name Change: "You-Know-Who" and "He Who Mustn't Be Named" (see Do Not Call Me "Paul" above) are fused in Spanish as ''El Innombrable" ("The Uncallable").
  • Dueling Messiahs: Flashbacks reveal that there was once a legendary duel between Grindelwald and Dumbledore. The former wanted to lead the wizards out of hiding whereas Dumbledore sided with the muggles.

    E 
  • Early-Bird Cameo:
    • Several supporting characters are mentioned in passing long before their importance to the plot is revealed, among them Mrs. Figg, Mundungus Fletcher, the Lovegoods, Grindelwald, Aberforth Dumbledore, Sirius Black, and his brother Regulus Arcturus Black.
    • Several creatures in Order of the Phoenix were mentioned in Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them prior to their appearances, and even Thestrals earned a minor, blink-and-you'll-miss-it reference under "Winged Horse".
  • Earn Your Happy Ending: Voldemort is defeated, the wizard world is at peace, Harry/Ginny and Ron/Hermione are happily married with children. But that's after a whole lot of pain and suffering and, in books 4-7, a high body count.
  • Elaborate Underground Base: Salazar Slytherin apparently intended to use the Chamber of Secrets as this, doubling as a Supervillain Lair after the schism with the other Founders. Unfortunately, by the time the heroes get there nine hundred years later, the place is in ruins and partially flooded, and it's essentially a glorified burrow for the Basilisk.
  • Elixir of Life:
    • The Elixir of Life is mentioned in the series, where it is created (by methods unknown) from a Philosopher's Stone. This version of the Elixir gives health and youth to whoever drinks it, but has to be drunk regularly, as the body will start aging again after each rejuvenation. In the first book, Lord Voldemort mostly seeks the Philosopher's Stone because he wants to use the Elixir to remake a body for himself, hinting there may still be more the Elixir can do.
    • Unicorn's Blood also functions as a dark counterpart to the Elixir of Life: drinking it can somehow stave off imminent death by malady, but it carries a curse that will make the body even weaker in the long run. Elixir of Life is said to counteract this curse, though this may just have been a lie Voldemort told Quirrel to get him to go along with drinking Unicorn's Blood.
  • Embarrassing Password:
    • The Ministry of Magic encourages people to devise security questions with their loved ones. One of the security questions between Mr. and Mrs. Weasley is:
      Mr Weasley: What do you like me to call you when we're alone together?
      Mrs Weasley: Mollywobbles.
    • The password to Dumbledore's office is always a type of candy. At one point in Goblet of Fire, Harry, trying to get inside, lists off every single magical candy he can think of, only to find the correct one is "Cockroach Cluster".
      "Cockroach Cluster? I was only joking."
  • Emotion Bomb:
    • Dementors are attracted to strong emotions and happiness, which they consume and replace with only miserable memories.
    • Cheering Charms are spells that make people happier.
  • Emotional Powers: The Patronus spell is fueled by the caster thinking of their happiest thoughts or memories. Which makes you wonder what would happen if someone hit you with a Cheering Charm before you cast the Patronus spell...
  • Empathic Weapon: Wands are said to choose the wizard who will use them, and they don't work as well for anyone who is not the original owner and hasn't defeated the previous owner in some form of combat.
  • Enforced Cold War: The House rivalries, especially between Gryffindor and Slytherin, are established by the school and its professors through the House and Quidditch Cups which pit the students against each other. According to the history of Hogwarts's founders, it's actually closer to Slytherin versus everyone else. It goes down a lot after Voldemort is defeated.
  • Entertainingly Wrong: In Half-Blood Prince, Dumbledore and Harry both come to the perfectly valid conclusion that Voldemort tried to get a job at Hogwarts in an attempt to get ahold of an item belong to a Hogwarts Founder for use as a Soul Jar. In Deathly Hallows, Harry realizes they had it backwards: Voldemort used the interview to hide one of his Soul Jars in a hidden room on the way to Dumbledore's office—actually getting the job would've just been a bonus.
  • Enthralling Siren: Veela are a less malicious version of the siren. Generally, they look like they're an Inhumanly Beautiful Race of women complete with Mind-Control Music and hypnotic dancing. If enraged, however, they suddenly gain cruel, bird-like features and chuck fireballs.
  • Even Bad Men Love Their Mamas:
    • Draco Malfoy's only redeeming quality is his love for his family.
    • Although Voldemort is incapable of real love, his mother's sad death is his motivation for some of his crimes.
    • Narcissa Malfoy's main motivation by the end is making sure her family is safe, to the point where she lies to Voldemort.
  • Everyone Has Standards: Pottermore reveals that the Malfoy family, while obsessed keeping their bloodline pure and Muggle-free, drew the line at incest, unlike the Gaunts and Lestranges, and would marry half-bloods if necessary.
  • Everyone Is Related: Wizards are already operating within a limited gene pool (unless they marry muggles, which doesn't always work out well), but some pureblood wizards take it to another level by only marrying into families that meet their standards for "purity."
    • Harry and Voldemort are both descended from the twelfth century (or thereabouts) Peverell brothers, specifically Ignotus and Cadmus.
    • Book five reveals that Sirius Black is the first cousin of Bellatrix Lestrange and Narcissa Malfoy, both of whom were introduced (sans maiden names) in the previous book, as well as a first cousin once removed to the newly introduced Nymphadora Tonks, a second cousin once removed to Arthur Weasley, and a cousin by marriage to Molly Weasley (nee Prewett). The later-released Black family tree shows that he is also related to the Crabbes, the Macmillans, the Bulstrodes, the Flints, the Burkes, the Longbottoms, the Crouches, the Yaxleys, and the Potters.
    • Bellatrix, Andromeda, and Narcissa are most likely cousins to the minor character Evan Rosier, who died before the series began, through their mother Druella Rosier.
  • Everyone Went to School Together
  • Evil Cannot Comprehend Good: Voldemort was conceived through the use of a love potion, making this the magical equivalent to a Child by Rape. When his father was released from the enchantment, he (not unreasonably) left his pregnant "wife" and returned home, and his mother Merope subsequently died giving birth to him. She seemingly wanted to die and left him to be raised in an orphanage. Since it was the 1920s/1930s, this meant Tom Riddle got no treatment for his Ambiguous Disorder and he grew up without learning how to understand love at all.
  • Evil Counterpart: Has its own page.
  • Evil Makes You Monstrous: Tom Riddle (Voldemort) was a handsome student, but by the time he is reborn, he is bald, has pale white skin, red sclerae and slits for nostrils. We see him earlier in a Pensieve memory Dumbledore has of him entering his office to ask to be the Defense of Dark Arts professor after he began dabbling in Dark Arts but before he gained power, and Harry notes that he had already lost his good looks by then and was beginning to resemble the pale, snake-like creature he would fully become later on. Even many years before that when Tom Riddle was still pretty handsome, he is stated to have already begun to look a little pale by the time he took a job in a store to get ahold of an ancient artifact.
  • Evil Sounds Deep: Inverted. Voldemort is described as having a high, cold voice.
  • Evil Tainted the Place: Voldemort leaves behind a pretty nasty Soul Jar during his time at Hogwarts but his left overs are small potatoes next to the nigh demonic Basilisk the founder of the Slytherin House stored in the pipes.
  • Exotic Entree: Voldemort dines on unicorn blood in The Philosopher's Stone (though there is a magical justification for this).
  • Extranormal Prison: Azkaban is a prison for evil wizards, guarded by the soul-sucking dementors.
  • Extraordinary World, Ordinary Problems: The denizens of the Wizarding World deal with many of the same problems found in the non-magical world: political corruption, excessive bureaucratic red tape, manipulated media, and most importantly, Fantastic Racism in the form of pure-blood wizards hating those with muggle ancestry.

    F 
  • Family Portrait of Characterization:
    • Family tree variation with the House of Black. 12 Grimmauld Place hosts a lovely, intricate tapestry where the names Black family members are magically cataloged...but if you're considered a blood traitor (ie. someone who associates with Muggles) or otherwise disowned, your name is blasted off the tree. Definitely fitting for a clan of pureblood supremacists.
    • The Dursleys don't keep any photos of Harry in their home. One of the books mentions this detail when building up to their abuse and neglect of him.
  • Family Theme Naming: Most families have a theme:
    • Blacks: Stars and constellations and galaxies, except most females who remarry
    • Carrows: Names of Greek mythological characters
    • Bagmans: Names of Holy Roman Emperors
    • Belbys: Names of Roman (and Byzantine) Emperors
    • Campbells: Names of Shakespearean characters
    • Evanses (Harry's mother and aunt): Names of flowers
    • Weasleys: Names connected to medieval royalty.
    • The revelation of the Potter Family history makes them an aversion, they tend to alter between Aerith and Bob, with names like Linchfred, Ralston, Hardwin, Henry, Fleamont, James and Harry among many others, having no particular theme.
  • Family Values Villain: The elitist Malfoys' only mildly redeeming quality is their care for each other as a family.
  • Fantastic Angst: Harry is an orphan because his parents were killed by an evil wizard using the Kiling Curse (though he believes up until his 11th birthday that they died in a car crash.)
  • Fantastic Racism: Has its own page.
  • Fantastic Science: Magic is treated this way. If you don't do it right, you screw it up.
  • Fantastic Slurs: "Mudblood", a derogatory term for a witch or wizard who was born into a Muggle family. It's treated as a racial slur; when Draco Malfoy first calls Hermione this in Chamber of Secrets, there is a tremendous uproar and Ron even tries to curse him.
    • In Books 5 and 7, Snape's friendship and romantic hopes for something bigger are ruined when in reaction to Lily pulling an embarrassing rescue he says, "I don't need help from a filthy little mudbloods like her." This ruined his life... to say the least.
  • Fantasy Counterpart Appliance: Mostly averted, because wizards either appropriate Muggle technology or invent something completely strange of their own, but there are a few cases; e.g., the Floo Network, which is regulated and functions not unlike a mass transit or communication system.
  • Fantasy Gun Control: Guns exist in the Muggle world, but apparently not even Squibs seem to have them in the wizarding community; in an article about Sirius Black, it's mentioned that the Muggles have been warned he's carrying a gun, which is then defined as "a type of metal wand that Muggles use to kill each other." This could relate more to the series's British setting, where citizens are not permitted to wield firearms, than anything else.
  • Fantasy Kitchen Sink: Nearly everything about wizardry from Fantasy novels is revealed to exist — and every mythological creature as well, especially in Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them.
  • Fate Worse than Death:
    • Neville's parents were tortured into insanity.
    • The Dementor's Kiss sucks out a person's soul while leaving the body alive, leaving a shell of a person behind.
    • The side-effect of drinking unicorn blood is "a cursed half-life."
    • The state one finds oneself in after a horcrux successfully prevents death. Unlike the above, however, this state can be ended, either by true resurrection, or just "letting go."
    • In the first book, Dumbledore mentions people who, transfixed by the Mirror of Erised, have literally wasted away in front of it.
  • Fictional Sport: Quidditch is a sport played on flying broomstick, where two teams of seven players play to gain points by throwing a ball called a Quaffle into three hoops on either side of the field. The game ends when a player called a "Seeker" catches a small, golden ball with wings called a Snitch, at which point the game ends and the Seeker gets 150 points for their team. Despite fantastic requirements, people in real life have tried to replicate it.
  • Fiery Redhead: The Weasleys. All of them (except maybe Percy), but especially Ginny. Also, Lily Evans in book five.
  • First Girl Wins: Ginny Weasley is the first young witch Harry hears/meets at Platform 9 3/4, and Hermione is the first female friend Ron Weasley makes. Years later, Harry marries Ginny, and Ron marries Hermione. In The Film of the Book, Ginny Weasley is the first girl Harry's age we meet in both the first film and the second. She's also almost the first girl we see in the third film — soon after Hermione's entrance, we see Ginny's face in a newspaper clipping.
  • Flanderization: The Hogwarts Houses. Gryffindors are brave and righteous, Ravenclaws are clever and scholarly, Hufflepuffs are fair and sympathetic, and Slytherins are "ambitious and cunning," except Slytherin comes across much more as "the house of bad guys."
  • Fluffy Tamer: Rubeus Hagrid. He has raised giant spiders, baby dragons, and a three-headed dog. Their names were Aragog, Norbert, and Fluffy, respectively. He's half-giant, so such creatures are less likely to hurt him, but he tends to not realize that most people aren't as indestructible as he is. This has landed him in trouble numerous times. Tom Riddle was able to use Aragog to frame him for opening the Chamber of Secrets and yet he never seems to learn. He's also a Fluffy breeder, credited with the creation of the Blast-Ended Skrewts, an incredibly dangerous and aggressive hybrid possessed of absolutely no useful qualities.
  • Fluffy the Terrible: Quite a few monsters, but the most famous is actually named Fluffy.
  • Flying Broomstick: Quite a few, often of plot significance, including the Nimbus and the Firebolt.
  • Foreshadowing: The most important one is in the first book. Very subtly done, but right there for everyone to see. It forms the foundation for the build-up to the final confrontation with Voldemort, and gives Harry an advantage that he didn't know he had until literally the last minute. "The wand chooses the wizard, Harry." Rowling says she had the entire outline for the series and how everything was going to play out clearly pictured in her head before she first put pen to paper. She wasn't kidding.
  • Formally Named Pet: Filch's cat, Mrs. Norris.
  • For the Evulz: This seems to be the motivation behind at least half the things done by members of Slytherin House — especially Malfoy. It seems rather bizarre when you remember that they're supposedly the House for the cunning and ambitious.
  • For Want of a Nail: If Voldemort's mother hadn't had the absolutely miserable life that she had — abused by her father and brother, abandoned by her brainwashed Muggle Lover, swindled out of her sole possession, forgotten and uncared for by Wizard society — perhaps Voldemort would not have been the sociopathic mass-murderer that he eventually came to be.
    • That's not so much For Want Of A Nail, that's more For Want Of An Entire Toolbox!
  • The Four Loves: most of the good side characters show, in one or the other way, this trope. Harry is an example of the four types of love.
    • Storge: Towards most of the Weasleys and Hermione.
    • Phileo: Towards Ron and Hermione.
    • Eros: Towards Ginny.
    • Agape: Towards everyone.
  • Friendly Neighborhood Spider: Being Friend to All Living Things, Hagrid has a Giant Spider called Aragog, which was adopted by and is loyal to Hagrid, being defended by him from the accusations of Aragog being Slytherin's Monster, which was the basilisk instead. Unfortunately, Harry and Ron discovers Aragog isn't nice at all, especially because his species has a taste for human flesh.
  • Full-Name Basis: Harry Potter, to a few characters, notably Dobby and Voldemort.
  • Full Potential Upgrade: Wands are this for wizards. They have to either be precisely matched when purchased or legitimately won from a prior owner for best effect. Wizards who are shown to use hand-me-down wands (Ron and Neville) show a level of improvement when using one purchased just for them.
  • Functional Magic: JKR says in interviews that she spent time working out the limits of wizard magic, but the novels only touch on these a few times.
  • Funetik Aksent: Hagrid, and the foreign visitors in Goblet of Fire.
  • Funny Background Event: A common aspect of Rowling's writing in this series, one of her favorite kinds of scenes seems to be one where the characters are having a private conversation while in the background something amusing is going on at the same time. Most commonly, in the school scenes these often involve Peeves.
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    G 
  • Gang of Bullies:
    • Dudley's gang as well as Draco, Crabbe, and Goyle.
    • The Marauders were also this in regards to Snape. Snape was also a member of a gang of future Death Eaters, as was Tom Riddle.
  • Generational Magic Decline: A desire to prevent this is a major motivation for blood purity fanatics, who insist on marrying only other pureblooded wizards with no muggles in their family trees out of a belief that intermarrying with them will weaken their family lines. Yet the only case of this actually happening that we know of occurred within the Gaunt family, a family of purebloods who were so inbred that they were prone to insanity, mental instability and reduced magical ability to the point that Merope Gaunt was believed by her father to be a Squibnote . And just to prove how false the whole fear about intermarrying with muggles was, the strongest member in generations, Tom Marvolo Riddle, aka Lord Voldemort, had a muggle father.
  • Generation Xerox: Subverted. Though differently mixed to form each character, there are several tendencies that carry on from the previous Hogwarts generation to this one:
    • A tightly-knit group of Gryffindors consisting of a a heroic, adventurous natural leader with disregard for the rules (Harry/James), a more impulsive sidekick (Ron/Sirius), a studious member reluctant to break the rules (Hermione/Remus),a talented Muggle-born girl (Hermione/Lily) and a more loosely associated follower who is (at first glance) inept at magic (Peter/Neville)
    • A Pureblood Gryffindor strongly opposed to Pureblood supremacy (Ron/James). Said Gryffindor's family warmly accepts that Gryffindor's best friend (Harry/Sirius);
    • A Slytherin Pureblood supremacist who has a lasting enmity with The Hero (Draco/Severus);
    • A poor and unpopular boy who is friends with and in love with a Muggleborn witch (Ron/ Severus) who he hurts for no good reason (in Ron's case it gets better). He is often bullied by his wealthy Pureblood rival (Draco/ James);
    • A no-nonsense and ambitious Gryffindor witch with red hair who ends up together with The Hero (Ginny/Lily);
    • A pair of Gryffindor pranksters (Fred and George/James and Sirius);
    • An insecure and overshadowed member of the True Companions (Ron/Peter). He betrays and endangers the group out of weakness, but unlike Peter, Ron's betrayal is a Moment of Weakness he overcomes.
    • A poor but brilliant wizard from an abusive home-life (Harry/Severus) who longs to be associated a Pureblood organization (the Weasleys/the Deatheaters), is best friends with a Muggle-born witch but is not on close terms with her family (Hermione/Lily), and is constantly bullied by a Pureblood wizard of privilege and his two cronies (Draco, Crabbe, and Goyle/James, Sirius, and Peter, since Lupin did not join in on the bullying), one of whom eventually betrays the other two (Crabbe/Peter).
  • Genericist Government: The Ministry of Magic.
  • Genius Loci: At Hogwarts, staircases sometimes change direction and are said to be fond of doing it.
  • Getting Crap Past the Radar: See Radar.Harry Potter.
  • Giant Squid: There's one in the Hogwarts lake. It's mainly there to add color and is very much a Gentle Giant—when Dennis Creevey falls in the lake, it helps him back into his boat. Lee and the twins are even seen tickling it at one point.
  • Gigantic Adults, Tiny Babies: Dragons start out football-sized at hatching, but most species grow to bus-size or larger.
  • Good Cannot Comprehend Evil: Dumbledore has shown that he can understand quite a bit about Voldemort. However, it turns out that Dumbledore was unable to figure out that Voldemort hid one of his Horcruxes in the Room of Requirement. Why? Because Dumbledore was a model student who never cheated and hence had no need to use the room. Harry, however, was certainly not a model student, he cheated a couple of times, and he used that room, so he could figure it out.
  • Good Luck Charm: Felix Felicis potion acts as this when drunk.
  • Grade System Snark: The N.E.W.T. scores. Among the grades are "T for Troll."
  • Grail in the Garbage: In Half-Blood Prince Harry uses an old tiara in the Room of Requirement to mark the location of his book when he hides it. In Order of the Phoenix Harry helps Sirius clean out a lot of junk in the Grimmauld Place house, including an old locket. Both of these turn out to be not only priceless artifacts—Rowena Ravenclaw's lost diadem and Salazar Slytherin's locket, respectively—but they're also Horcruxes, each containing a piece of Voldemort's soul. They become crucial plot points in the last book.
  • Greater-Scope Villain: Lord Voldemort, the official Big Bad of Harry Potter, fills this role instead sometimes:
    • Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets. If you consider the Tom Riddle in the diary as a separate person, Voldemort (the disembodied spectre in Albania) is a Bigger Bad in this book. Tom Riddle is more a manifestation of Voldemort's will, and at any rate acts independently from him (although in his interests).
    • Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban. He isn't directly involved in the book's events but it's believed that Sirius Black, the Death Eater who helped Voldemort to kill Harry's parents and later killed Peter Pettigrew and several muggle bystanders, was trying to kill Harry in hopes it'd somehow restore Voldemort. Then in The Reveal we find out Peter Pettigrew faked his death and framed Black, but it still counts for the trope as Voldemort killing Harry's parents led to Sirius being imprisoned and Peter faking his death.
    • Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince doesn't feature Voldemort at all, and all his actions take place outside the main events of the plot. The Big Bad of the book eventually turns out to be Severus Snape, who kills Dumbledore and sets most of the events in motion to further himself in Voldemort's eyes.
  • Growing with the Audience: J. K. Rowling has stated that she intentionally wrote the series to encompass more mature and scarier themes as the young readers got a little older for each book. This took something of a hit during the "Three-Year Summer" after the fourth book; the audience grew quite a bit older than Harry, and so the reception began to decline.
  • Guilt Complex: Harry suffers a massive one, usually born from his Chronic Hero Syndrome.

    H 
  • Hammerspace: What Hermione's bag is after using an Undetectable Extension Charm. It's limited Hammerspace, housing only the things Hermione stashes in there, including a portrait of Phinneas Nigellius Black. It is considered a Bag of Holding, and it's pretty deep. The book even describes Hermione sticking her arm in all the way to her armpit to get something in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows
  • Happily Married:
    • Molly and Arthur Weasley.
    • While they were still alive, Harry's parents Lily and James.
    • There's even reason to believe that Lucius and Narcissa Malfoy are happily married.
    • Vernon and Petunia, whatever else you can say about them.
    • Mr. and Mrs. Longbottom were likely this until they were driven insane by the Cruciatus Curse.
    • Mr. and Mrs. Granger appear to be this from what little we can see of them.
    • Bill and Fleur. Harry and Ginny, also Ron and Hermione end up as happy marriages, too.
    • Luna, Neville, George, Percy, and Dudley all had/will have this as well.
    • In fact, there are no references in the books to characters who aren't Happily Married. Wizards, apparently, mate for life; the word "divorce" is never mentioned. The only couple referenced as breaking up is Tom Riddle and Merope Gaunt, which hardly counts as 1) Tom Riddle Sr. was a Muggle and 2) he was mind-raped into marrying Merope to begin with.note 
  • Happiness in Mind Control: Subverted by Tom Riddle Sr., who was forced by Merope Gaunt to fall in love with her via a Love Potion. It's argued that she later released Tom from the effects of the potion because she thought this trope would have kicked in by the time she got pregnant. She was horribly wrong, and Tom fled the moment he was given control of his faculties again.
  • Half-Breed Discrimination:
    • Hagrid, a half-giant, introduces us to the Ministry's inclinations towards Fantastic Racism. Professor Umbridge takes this even further, biasing her review against him to make him seem extremely stupid and incapable of teaching a class. She even refers to centaurs as "filthy half-breeds" despite the fact that all of them are born of centaurs, not horses and humans.
    • Being a "half-blood" wizard, i.e. having one parent be a Muggle (or Muggleborn) and the other a pureblood or half-blood wizard, doesn't have quite as much the stigma around it as being purely Muggleborn, but it's still kept quiet within the prejudiced Slytherin house. Notably, both Voldemort and Snape are half-bloods and yet they've expressed disdain for their own kind (though, admittedly, Snape grew out of it and only adhered to it as his cover). That's not even counting for the fact that almost all of the most powerful wizards in the series have been half-blood, including the aforementioned two, Albus Dumbledore (hands down the most powerful wizard in the series), Minerva McGonagall, and Harry himself.
    • Werewolves are counted as half-breeds under wizarding law, and it's mentioned several times that they have difficulty finding jobs or being accepted in society. Lupin mentions that he was only able to attend Hogwarts because Dumbledore was headmaster and was kind enough to come up with ways to work around the condition. While it's somewhat understandable for wizards to be nervous about hanging around someone who turns into a monster every so often, the fact that they only transform during the full moon and the fact that the Wolfsbane Potion allows transformed werewolves to essentially be harmless makes the extent of discrimination against them pretty excessive.
  • Happiness in Slavery: Most house-elves love being servants. There's also the issue (which Hermione never seems to grasp in canon) that with one exception, "freeing them" — especially from a master who isn't openly abusive — is equivalent to sacking them in disgrace. There are several instances of house-elves working around orders or finding loopholes to disobey masters that they don't like, rebelling without being freed. Even the exception to the rule, Dobby, essentially considers freedom the right to decide whose orders he will obey.
  • Hate Sink: Plenty of characters exist solely to inspire hatred in the reader, starting with the Dursleys and later including Rita Skeeter, Zacharias Smith, Cormac McLaggen, and Cornelius Fudge. But the main one is Dolores Umbridge, a secondary villain whose every quality, including her name, is carefully designed to make the reader despise her as much as possible.
  • Headless Horseman: The Headless Hunt is an event held by a group of decapitated ghosts.
  • Heroes Want Redheads: Ginny and Lily (and also Ron and Bill, if you argue that Heroines, or known beauties at least, want them as well). JKR confirmed that she really likes red hair, so she stuck an entire extended family of them into her series and made one her hero's best friend and the other his (eventual) love interest.
  • Hero Secret Service: The Order of the Phoenix.
  • Hero with Bad Publicity: Harry himself, along with Sirius Black and Severus Snape.
  • Heterosexual Life-Partners:
    • James Potter and Sirius Black.
    • Harry and Ron, most definitely. They even have two break-up episodes: once in Goblet of Fire and another in Deathly Hallows.
  • Hidden Depths: A large amount of characters become gradually more rounded, most notably Snape and Neville.
  • Hidden Elf Village: Hidden Wizard World. Wizards routinely travel between sanctuaries such as their homes and Diagon Alley, but on average, the entire Wizarding World is Invisible to Normals.
  • High Turnover Rate: For last thirty or so years, Hogwarts has never managed to retain a Defense Against the Dark Arts teacher for longer than a single school year. Each and every one of Harry's D.A.D.A. teachers had some fate befall them that ensured they wouldn't make it to next year. This is because Voldemort jinxed the position, and it was only after he died did anyone manage to last long enough in that position for tenure.
  • Hillbilly Horrors: The Gaunt family represent this.
  • His Own Worst Enemy: Although Harry is Voldemort's literal mortal enemy, Voldemort does have a huge responsibility in his own downfall right from the very beginning. When he was presented the Schrodinger's Prophecy he could've chosen to ignore it, but he didn't, and in doing so created his own downfall with Harry's scar.
  • Hoist by His Own Petard: Voldemort had no idea that the Elder Wand technically belonged to Harry. (Even though Harry actually told him about it.) So, naturally, when he tried to cast the Killing Curse on Harry with it, it reflected back on him (again) and killed him permanently.
  • Homeschooled Kids: According to JKR, this is the easiest way for wizarding families to get their kids through Primary School without exposing the wizarding world to Muggles. In Deathly Hallows it's also stated that wizarding parents have the option of homeschooling their children rather than sending them to Hogwarts or a foreign school, but at that point Voldemort's regime makes it mandatory for parents to send their children to Hogwarts so he can keep an eye on them - and weed out the latest Muggle-born wizards...
  • Hormone-Addled Teenager: Nicely averts this trope until the later books, and then subverts it by making the main characters' teenage relationship tangles A) realistic and B) quite secondary to the actual plot. Done especially well with Hermione. After her brief liaison with Viktor Krum in Goblet of Fire, she decides dating isn't all it's cracked up to be and realizes she's still not old enough for serious romantic entanglements. She's also largely uninterested in clothes and doesn't care that she has frizzy hair, concerning herself with academics rather than vanity (she does get her teeth reduced to eliminate a very slight case of buck teeth, but this is justified in that she was already having them shrunk to counteract a spell that made them gigantic, and just let them keep shrinking a little smaller than they were).
  • Horrible Judge of Character: Subverted with Dumbledore, it seems as if he has this in his trust for Snape, but then he turns out to be right
  • Hot Skitty-on-Wailord Action: It emerges that Hagrid's half-giant, with a wizarding father and a giant mother. Giants in this world are on average twenty feet tall. Best not to think too much about the mechanics...
  • Hufflepuff House: In addition to having the Trope Namer, the Ravenclaw House serves as something of a less triumphant example of the trope, at least until Cho Chang and later Luna Lovegood begin taking more active roles in the plot.
  • Human Head on the Wall: One of the many ghastly customs of the Black family of dark wizards was to have their house elves beheaded and their heads mounted like trophies once they'd become too old and sick to work. Kreacher's mother was among the victims of this practice.
  • Hyperspace Is a Scary Place:
    • A less extreme example with Portkeys, which accompany rather intense and blurry visuals. According to Pottermore, "Portkey-sickness" (hysterics and nausea) was a common start-of-school ailment during Hogwarts's brief flirtation with a Portkey network as subsidized transport to campus.
    • Apparition certainly counts, as Harry describes it as an extremely unpleasant sensation of being squeezed through a very tight tunnel.
    • Travelling by Floo powder could also count as a less-extreme example, considering that it involves spinning very fast and you could see any manner of things in one of the fireplaces, or fall out at the wrong grate, as Harry does in Chamber of Secrets.
  • Hypocrite:
    • Lord Voldemort and his Death Eaters are prejudiced against wizards with less than pure wizarding blood and non-human magical creatures in general despite he, himself, having a muggle parent. Though he's counting on the anti-Muggle feelings of his followers, he genuinely despises Muggles and anything he considers Mud-blood — and he apparently has a one drop rule for everyone except himself and personal Death Eaters like Snape. Although they also recruited giants and werewolves, they probably rationalized them as second- and third-tier "citizens" in Voldemort's new England. It is suggested a few times that he is exploiting the prejudices of his own followers more than enforcing his own, and that he really doesn't care about anything but his own power anymore. Voldemort's own half-blood status is one of the reasons he started going after power. He considered his father to be lowly and weak and cowardly for turning away his mother and was determined to ignore his own history and go with wanting power.
    • And then we have Umbridge. Although fans have a lot of reasons to hate her with relish, her hypocrisy is certainly one of the main ones. In Order of the Phoenix she is seen as an agent of the Ministry, sycophantic to its causes and forcing tyrannical laws onto the school in order to get her own way, yet at the same time gleefully (although secretly) engaging in activities that are highly illegal and certainly unforgivable, even by the Ministry. Worse, she punishes Harry most severely for asserting that Voldemort is at large, insisting that he "not tell lies," while aping the official Ministry line on Voldemort, which is patently and obviously false. In Deathly Hallows she persecutes Muggle-borns for "stealing magic," which she should certainly know is a nonsensical charge, while claiming that the locket she took as a bribe is an old family heirloom supporting her own bloodline. The injustice and cruelty of this enrages Harry so much that he attacks her immediately without resorting to a more subtle plan.
    • Sirius Black. Despite his axiom that the measure of a man is how he treats his inferiors, he behaves detestably towards Kreacher. Indeed, this is one of his least admirable qualities. It also bites him in the arse. Hard. But as Dumbledore clarifies, Sirius was kind to house-elves in general but Kreacher was special as a reminder of his home and the bad childhood that he hoped to escape. Also, his belief that "the world isn't split into good people and Death Eaters" goes out the window during the argument with Snape, though the latter is himself not blameless in that regard. JKR admits that this is a serious flaw for Sirius, but she also admits that it's difficult to be morally consistent in life.
    • Lupin in the third book tells Harry that he's appalled that Harry never brought the Marauder's Map to a teacher's attention given how useful it would be to catch Sirius or how useful it'd be to Sirius if he found it. Yet, Lupin never bothers telling Dumbledore (or anyone except Harry, Ron, and Hermione) that Sirius is an animagus and knows about the tunnel from the Shrieking Shack onto Hogwarts grounds.

    I 
  • I Am Big Boned: Madame Maxine uses this excuse not at the prospect of being called fat, but when Hagrid speculates that she is half-giant. This trope also applies to the Dursleys blaming Dudley's weight on baby fat. In the Prisoner of Askaban PS2 game, an unnamed girl says this about the Fat Lady.
  • Idiot Hero: Played With. Harry is not stupid per se, but he is lacking in common sense on more than one occasion and often operates on instinct rather than thinking things through. He's often trying to take on wizards far older and far more experienced than him, he pins all of the wrongdoing in the school on Draco Malfoy (or Slytherin in general), and if ever he senses a corrupt and possibly harmful teacher, it's always Snape. It gets to the point where, in Half-Blood Prince, Ron and Hermione start rolling their eyes at Harry whenever he brings up his "Malfoy is a Death Eater" theory. This is subverted when he turns out to be correct about both Malfoy (who is a Death Eater) and Snape (sort of). This gets him into trouble in Order of the Phoenix, and Hermione even lampshades this by telling Harry he's got "a saving-people thing" that Voldemort not only can exploit, but has exploited in the past. Namely, kidnapping a mind-raped Ginny and taking her into the Chamber of Secrets because he wanted to meet Harry.
  • Impoverished Patrician: The Gaunt Family. Descended straight from Salazar Slytherin, in possession of one of his lockets. Also dirt poor and living in a gross old shack.
  • Incest Is Relative:
    • Just look at every pureblood family tree; Sirius's parents themselves were second cousins, and it is possible that Lucius and Narcissa are related, too, in some way or another.
    • Also, the Gaunts, heirs of Salazar Slytherin and Voldemort's family, were apelike and extremely stupid and unattractive. According to Rowling, this is due to generations of inbreeding (close inbreeding) to preserve not only their pureblood status but also their Parseltongue abilities. Handsome young Voldemort got all of his looks from his Muggle father.
      Dumbledore: [The Gaunts] were known for a violent streak that flourished in the family, due to their habit of marrying their own cousins.

  • Inhumanly Beautiful Race: Veelas are beautiful women with long silver-blonde hair, blue eyes, shining skin and perfect teeth. However, they have supernatural powers to seduce men and hypnotize them, so it is possible that Harry's description of them is a little exaggerated. They have one downside though: piss them off and they turn into crazy bird monsters that throw fire at you. Also, Fleur Delacour claims to be part-Veela on her maternal grandmother's side.
  • Ineffectual Death Threats: The staff of Hogwarts seem to love to toss around expulsion as if it's done weekly — especially directed at younger students. We only ever meet one person expelled from Hogwarts — Hagrid (who had to be accused — albeit falsely — of causing the death of another student), who is now a professor.
  • Informed Ability: The most glaring are:
    • Few if any Slytherins ever exhibit much ambition and cunning, in school or adulthood.
    • Hermione is supposed to be logical, but most of her reasoning sounds like guesswork.
    • Ginny is said to be a powerful witch, but we never see her do anything that impressive with her magic.
    • Lily is said to be very kind, but when we see her in flashbacks where she hangs out with Severus in Spinner's End she is not exactly nice to him.
  • Insistent Terminology:
    • Hermione Granger gets rather snippy when people refer to her "Society for the Promotion of Elvish Welfare" by its acronym.
      • The name is even better in Dutch: "Stichting Huiself voor Inburgering en Tolerantie" (society house-elf for naturalizing and tolerance).
    • Also, whenever Harry calls Snape "Snape," the nearest adult (or Hermione) often corrects him: "Professor Snape."
  • Interclass Friendship:
    • Harry is implied to be somewhere between very and obscenely rich, particularly after Sirius dies and leaves him everything. Ron, his best friend, comes from one of the poorest families in the novels. The class issues are Downplayed because Harry was raised by muggles and is more or less a Spear Counterpart to Cinderella in that he lived as a poor servant to a rich step-family but then gets pushed forth into celebrity-superhero-dom, but in book four, Harry has to awkwardly admit that he forgot about the Leprechaun gold Ron gave him after it disappeared. Harry continues to wear Dudley's hand-me-downs in the muggle world, but in the wizarding world, he's the heir to a cosmetics fortune which allows him to buy almost anything he wants and Ron is the sixth son of a struggling family who only ever has hand-me-downs. Ron mutters that if he got a sum of that much leprechaun gold he would certainly notice it missing.
    • In the backstory, James and Sirius were from very wealthy families. They befriended the much poorer Remus Lupin as well as Peter Pettigrew, whose family's financial status is unknown.
    • Lily Evans, who had a middle-class upbringing, befriended the very poor Severus Snape. At their first meeting, when they were preteens, Lily's sister Petunia even remarks on Severus's address in Spinner's End, apparently the bad part of town. Severus Snape likewise befriended the very wealthy Lucius Malfoy in Slytherin.
  • Internalized Categorism:
    • Argus Filch is one of the cruellest people in the books, openly wishing that the headmaster would allow him to torture children, but he is so embarrassed that he's a Squib that he might be taking out his self-hatred out on the young wizards of whom he's jealous.
    • Tom Riddle was embarrassed that he was a half-blood, not just because of Fantastic Racism but because that meant his muggle father was too weak to be a wizard and his witch mother was too weak to stay alive. He invented a new name to hide this fact and began preaching against unions like the one that created him.
  • Irony:
    • The series often displays many examples but the Half-Blood Prince is probably the one with the most and/or largest ones. In this book Snape stops teaching Potions class and teaches Defence Against the Dark Arts at Hogwarts, and is replaced in Potions by Professor Slughorn. Potions was previously Harry's worst subject because he hated Snape and because Snape actively sabotaged his work in class. In his first class with Slughorn he finds a second-hand book labelled as "the property of the Half-Blood Prince". Inside the book are vast amounts of hints that help Harry in his Potions classes, making it his best subject. Then the big reveal is that Snape is the Half Blood Prince. At one point in the book Harry even makes a throwaway remark that The Prince is a much better teacher than Snape. Dramatic irony at its finest.
    • Although everyone agrees that Professor Trelawney doesn't have a whit of divinatory talent (most of the time), it happens that every single prediction she makes eventually comes true. Largely this is because they are extremely vague or already probable (for example, telling Harry, who's been marked as the nemesis of the Dark Lord, that he is in danger), but even so, her ultimate record is astoundingly perfect. Some fans speculate that trying too hard is what screws her up, and if she lets it come naturally, she does alright.
    • Dumbledore might well embody "the ultimate Gryffindor" and Voldemort "the ultimate Slytherin". And yet - Dumbledore was born in 1881, Chinese zodiac year of the Metal Snake, while Voldemort was born in 1926, year of the Fire Tiger. That can't be accidental.
  • Is That What He Told You?: Lots of well-meaning deception from Dumbledore.
  • It Amused Me: The only reason Peeves the poltergeist does anything, although his pranks are (generally) more irritating than harmful. Dumbledore and the Bloody Baron (and sometimes Fred and George) are the only ones who can control him.
  • It Sucks to Be the Chosen One: For Harry, who doesn't like how the Daily Prophet and the Ministry of Magic insist on calling him and treating him as the Chosen One in Half-Blood Prince.
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