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  • Sadist Teacher: Snape, Umbridge, and the Carrows, in order of severity. While Snape's persecution of Harry can be explained, if not excused, by his hatred for James Potter, his persecution of other students like Neville and to a lesser extent, Hermione, can only be pure sadism.
  • Said Bookism:
    • To Rowling's credit, there's hardly any of this in the entire series. There is, however, one rather egregious example:
      "We're not going to use magic?" Ron ejaculated loudly.
    • Another time, Slughorn ejaculated.
  • School Saved My Life: Hermione pulls one of these in nearly every book. The other characters do, too, to a lesser extent.
  • Scientifically Understandable Sorcery: Apparently, Tergeo heats objects in order to wipe their dirt.
  • The Scottish Trope: Subverted by Dumbledore and several other heroic characters who very determinedly say "Voldemort" despite the name's emotional baggage — and by Harry, who just doesn't have that baggage. The seventh book exploits it as He Who-Must-Not-Be-Named creates an enchantment that allows him to locate anyone who dares say his name and tears down any protections around them.
  • Screw the Rules, I'm Doing What's Right!: It's the Harry Potter Drinking Game! Take a drink every time Harry breaks one of the Hogwarts school rules. You'll die of alcohol poisoning three books in!
    • Hermione at first disapproves of Harry's and Ron's constant rule-breaking, but due to Character Development she becomes as disregarding to the rules as the boys are.
    • Fred and George usually break the rules because they just don't care, but one final (and spectacular) example of doing what's right is when they set off the fireworks and leave the school on their broomsticks to oppose the horrible Umbridge. The teachers don't even try to stop them. On the contrary, they encourage it because they all hate that old hag so much. Professor Flitwick even keeps a magical bog the twins conjure in the castle as a roped-off area because it was such a brilliant piece of magic. Professor McGonagall very subtly does this when she mutters out of the corner of her mouth to Peeves that the chandelier he's messing with "unscrews the other way."
  • Screw the Rules, I'm Famous!: This trope is frequently discussed by Snape, who seems to be under the impression that Harry will use his fame as the person who defeated Lord Voldemort when he was just a baby to try and escape punishment. Harry doesn't do anything of the sort on purpose, but it does come with a certain privilege which he remains unaware of.
  • Sealed Evil in a Can:
    • Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets:
      • The titular chamber contains Slytherin's monster, an enormous basilisk.
      • Also in the same volume, Tom Riddle's diary has the "memory" of the teenage Voldemort sealed inside, which Ginny unknowingly awakens through her liberal use of the diary.
    • Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows:
      • It's implied that Voldemort's final fate is to remain in a sort of limbo (specifically, the netherworld where Harry met Dumbledore after he died) forever, incapable of harming anyone ever again.
      • Slytherin's Locket, which is impossible to open unless one is a parselmouth. Opening it is the only way to destroy it, but the piece of soul sealed inside comes out fighting.
  • Second Love: Ginny, whom Harry Potter fell in love with in Book 6 after the whole Cho thing fell apart in earlier books.
  • See the Invisible: There are several ways in which Invisibility Cloaks can be thwarted. The ability of dementors to sense people is not impaired by invisibility cloaks. Moody's magical eye can see through invisibility cloaks. A person wearing an invisibility cloak still shows up on the Marauder's Map. The cloak's user also remains solid and the cloak doesn't muffle sound or disguise smell at all, meaning that anything with acute senses like cats or snakes, or even a normal human being that happens to be paying attention to such cues, can notice and locate the wearer.
  • Self-Fulfilling Prophecy: Professor Trelawney's whole "neither can live while the other survives" prophecy.
  • Servant Race: House-elves really enjoy serving wizards and witches. Most are offended by the idea of having human liberties, like labour rights.
  • Severely Specialized Store: Mr. Ollivander sells wands. Just... wands. (Which is enough, since every wizard has to have one to perform most magic.)
  • She Is Not My Girlfriend: Harry says this about Hermione and means it. In Book 7, Harry further says that he sees Hermione as a sibling but doesn't love her in the romantic sense.
  • Shout-Out: Has its own page.
  • Shout-Out to Shakespeare: The most famous band in the Wizarding world is called the Weird Sisters. In Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, they provide live entertainment for the Yule Ball, and both Ginny and Tonks are fans.
  • Significant Anagram: Has its own page.
  • Silly Spook: The ghosts are mainly there for comic relief, though they do become relevant to the plot occasionally.
  • Silver Has Mystic Powers: Goblin-wrought silver is nigh-invulnerable, and can absorb the properties of what it pierces in order to make itself stronger. It's unclear how the goblins make it this way, or whether it's truly silver or simply called so because the same colour. There are many other objects in the series which are made of silver (the Pensieve) or have the appearance of silver (unicorn blood). Furthermore, silver is not mentioned to be relevant to killing werewolves.
  • Single-Target Sexuality: Severus Snape is still obsessed with Lily Evans twenty years after she ended their friendship and years after her death, to the point where he mistreats her son because Harry is the reminder that she loved someone else. She is the only person he is known to have loved over his thirty-eight years on Earth.
    • Albus Dumbledore's first and last love was Gellert Grindelwald, and after that relationship imploded, leading to the death of his sister and his estrangement from his brother, he avoided romance thereafter. In his case, however, he intentionally avoided love because he was afraid of how easily Grindelwald convinced him to become an aspiring fascist dictator by preying on Dumbledore's love for him.
  • Single Woman Seeks Good Man: Hermione and Ron, most prominently, but it seems to be a trend for non-villainous female characters: Molly Weasley, Ginny Weasley, Cho Chang, and resident babe Fleur Delacour are all very hot for good guys whereas the "bad boys" seem barely a blip on their radars.
    • Lily Potter is a debatable case, considering that James Potter is remembered as a Loveable Rogue by some people and a complete Jerkass by others, and she appears to have had a crush on him before his famed reformation. But she didn't date him until he grew up enough to make Head Boy in their seventh year.
  • Six Student Clique: The D.A. group mostly pulls this off.
    • The Head: Harry
    • The Muscle: Ron
    • The Smart One: Hermione
    • The Quirk: Neville
    • The Pretty One: Ginny
    • The Wild One: Luna
  • Skeleton Motif: The Death Eaters are often described as wearing skull-like masks, partly to cover their identity but also to scare the crap out of their targets. The "Dark Mark" that they leave as a calling card displays a glowing skull in the air with a snake-like tongue. The films didn't remove this entirely, but did make them resemble the KKK to a degree.
  • Sliding Scale of Continuity: The first three books' storylines don't directly depend on the stories of the previous books; they each explain basic premises like the wizarding world, Voldemort, Harry's backstory, etc., Harry continues to live at the Dursleys', go to Hogwarts every year, have friends named Ron and Hermione, etc., and the actual events of the first two books don't matter by the third. The rest of the series, well...
  • Sliding Scale of Idealism vs. Cynicism: As the series gets Darker and Edgier, the central theme of death is made more apparent, as a number of people are killed and maimed in a variety of tragic or incredibly gruesome ways, Harry shows obvious signs of PTSD and trauma, and it took so long to create what he never had in the first place; a family. Right up to the end, he expresses his fear for the future and the sadness caused by the events of the past, and one of the reasons the series is so successful is it's tendency to be hellishly dark, violent, and quite thematically mature, discussing topics of genocide, violence and hatred, corruption, prejudice and bigotry, depression and trauma, war, torture, fascism and naziism, even rape, sadomasochism, cruel and unusual violence and body horror, and vengeful murder, torture, and anger.
  • Smart People Play Chess: Averted. Hermione, the best student at her school, is terrible at chess while Ron is a prodigy who manages to win against a teacher (by proxy) when he was a first year.
  • Snowball Fight: Happens a few times during winter breaks at Hogwarts.
  • Social Services Does Not Exist: Somewhat justified in that much of the action takes place in the wizarding world and culture. Still, one would expect the Dursleys to have gotten at least a slap on the wrist from Muggle authorities, if not Dumbledore. Somewhat subverted once Sirius and friends enter the picture, though.
  • The Sociopath: Voldemort himself, along with Bellatrix, and Umbridge. The first two are utterly casual murderers while Umbridge is known to break out the Cruciatus Curse.
  • Sorcerous Overlord: Voldemort's long-term goal was to become one of these, being an immortal dark wizard who would rule over a fascist magocracy. However, for most of the series he's more of an underground terrorist against the current rulers. Even after usurping control of the Ministry of Magic in the last book, he elected to control it behind the scenes through a puppet minister, as basically crowning himself would have been too blatant a move for the wizarding world to ignore.
  • Soul Eating: The Dementors generally feed on human emotions. Their deadliest attack, the Dementor's Kiss, literally sucks out the soul of a person's body, turning the victim into a body that lives but can't feel any emotions or think any thoughts. This is treated as a Fate Worse than Death.
  • Soul Fragment: What a Horcrux houses.
  • Soul Jar: A Horcrux is an object that holds a piece of a person's soul that has been separated by Dark Magic.
  • Spanner in the Works:
    • Voldemort and Dumbledore's decades-long Gambit Pileup often gets messed up thanks to an intricate series of decisions and minor hiccups that sends their Rube Goldberg-esque device careening. A theme in the series is choice, and ultimately, for better and worse, every major and minor choice made by characters ends up making a difference, in ways nobody can predict.
    • The Elder Wand is apparently created to be this, as noted by Dumbledore in his notes in The Tales of Beedle the Bard, as despite being "an unbeatable wand" it is routinely defeated and passes over through the centuries. When Dumbledore acquired it, he hoped to die undefeated, which he would have had Snape killed him as per their Thanatos Gambit. Instead, Draco beats him without knowing what he's doing. Then, to top this, Harry simply yoinks the wand out of Draco's hands and this ends up giving him the advantage to defeat Voldemort.
    • The backstory, specifically the night James and Lily were murdered and Harry survived the Killing Curse, is an even more tangled one, with tiny bits and pieces of information accumulated over the seven books. To sum it up, Severus Snape asked Voldemort to spare Lily, and Voldemort went along with it. He told Lily to "step aside" but she refused, which created a binding magical contract that essentially bartered Lily's sacrifice for Harry's life. When Voldemort went ahead and tried to kill Harry anyway, the curse backfired on him.
  • Sparse List of Rules: As early as the first book it's mentioned that there are 700 ways to commit a foul in Quidditch (and every single one happened in the 1492 World Cup), but the series only shows a few of them. According to Quidditch Through the Ages, most of the rest are Obvious Rule Patches such as, "It is illegal to attack your opponent with an axe." Actually addressed in-universe in a rather amusing way. The full list of rules for Quidditch is kept secret by the international leagues to prevent players from being tempted to break them.
  • Stalking Is Funny If It Is Female After Male: Magical date rape drugs are sold out in the open and it's considered wacky hijinks when Ron gets accidentally dosed by an obsessed fangirl, though that might be because the potion was intended for Harry and they quickly handle the situation. Harry, at least, doesn't find the prospect of love potions funny—at one point, he actually compares them to Dark magic.
    • Becomes really not funny when it turns out that Voldemort is conceived as the result of one of these being used. His father Tom Riddle fled back home as soon as he was freed from the enchantment, and it is possible he never recovered from the experience—sixteen years later, he was still living with his parents in their isolated manorhouse.
  • Standard Evil Organization Squad: Known in this series as the Death Eaters.
  • Staying with Friends: Harry often stays at the Weasleys' over the latter parts of his summer vacations.
  • Steam Never Dies: The Hogwarts Express train that the characters ride to school each year is pulled by a bright red steam locomotive. Justified, as wizards know little of the Muggle world and Muggle technology and are basically stuck in a 19th-century-with-magic existence, so a steam train makes sense enough. Incidentally, the route of the Hogwarts Express shown in the films has had summer passenger service behind steam since 1984, in an inverted sort of Defictionalization.
  • Stealth Pun:
    • The entrance to the headmaster's office is disguised by a golden griffin statue that splits open to allow passage, thus making it a griffin door as well as a griffon d'or (French for "golden griffin").
    • The History of Magic professor is so rubbish at teaching that he puts his students to sleep each class. His name is Professor Binns.
    • The wizard shopping area in London where the gang goes for school supplies is called "Diagon Alley" (diagonally), and the other shopping area where Borgin and Burkes and other Dark Arts-associated establishments are located is called "Knocturn Alley" (nocturnally).
  • Stern Teacher: McGonagall and Madame Hooch. Snape walks the line between Stern Teacher and Sadist Teacher.
  • Steven Ulysses Perhero: Plenty — for instance, Sirius Black turns into a black dog; Sirius is the Dog Star. Pottermore explains that parents used to take their newborn children to "naming seers" so they could choose a name that would best suit their future nature, but that practice has fallen out of fashion by Harry's generation.
  • Strange Secret Entrance:
    • Platform 9¾, a secret entrance at King's Cross station through a pillar between platforms nine and ten.
    • The door to the Room of Requirement only appears when someone focused on what kind of place they want crosses in front of it three times in succession (or, presumably, three people focused on wanting the same place). This usually means someone pacing in front of a blank stretch of wall across from a tapestry of a wizard trying to teach trolls to do ballet.
  • Strictly Formula:
    • The first three books play this fairly straight: Dursleys, Diagon Alley, Hogwarts, Quidditch, Christmas, the big plot issue, end-of-year feast, everyone goes home. Some formula stays for the later books (Harry always starts out at the Dursleys in the books, no matter what) but Rowling then breaks these down as the universe gets darker and more complicated — and as Harry matures.
    • In Deathly Hallows the fact that these youth are used to the formula of three large meals a day and adults looking over them gets yanked out from under their feet.
  • Stuff Blowing Up:
    • This is the result if the Killing Curse (Avada Kedavra) hits an inanimate object instead of its intended target, it will explode. Trees tend to catch fire.
    • Played for laughs in the sports sections. Making fun at the fact that Americans generally aren't as enthusiastic about soccer/football as the rest of the world, American wizards have an alternate sport to the popular wizard-esque football Quidditch: Quodpot, in which the players try to catch an explosive quaffle and not let it fall down.
  • Stupid Evil:
    • Voldemort, especially by the end. He never learns from his mistakes, and his arrogance proves to be his undoing.
    • Bellatrix. She has Kick the Dog moments everywhere.
  • Stop Being Stereotypical: Lupin has this attitude towards his fellow werewolf, Fenrir Greyback.
  • Sudden Name Change:
    • Up until Harry Potter finds out the actual name of the creatures that guard Azkaban, a wizarding prison, everyone refers to them as "the Azkaban Guards." After he experiences their happiness-draining power and is told their name, Dementors, in Prisoner of Azkaban no one refers to them as the Azkaban Guards ever again.
    • A meta-example: J. K. Rowling had long established in interviews that Hermione's middle name was "Jane," which the fifth book also established as Umbridge's middle name. Invoking the One Steve Limit (because Hermione didn't deserve to share a middle name with Umbridge), the final book establishes "Jean" as Hermione's middle name instead.
  • Sufficiently Analyzed Magic:
    • Magic is very much a science in-universe. Even minor deviations from magical procedures can produce undesired effects. Conversely, wizards and witches with the inclination can improve existing magics or devise new ones.
    • Professor Snape states it outright at the beginning of his first year Potions class.
      Snape: You are here to learn the subtle science and exact art of potion-making. As there is little foolish wand-waving here, many of you will hardly believe this is magic.
    • Hermione pedantically informs Ron that the reason he was having trouble with the levitation charm was because he was putting the emphasis on the wrong syllable of the incantation "Wingardium Leviosa". Meticulously precise, Hermione often masters new spells before any of her classmates because she knows that performing magic correctly is as important as intent.
  • Summon to Hand: The spell Accio. Brooms also rise into a wizard's hand when commanded properly.
  • Supernatural Fear Inducer: There are two creatures with this kind of power (both introduced in Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban):
    • The Dementors are creatures who make people re-live their worst (including scariest) memories to remove all happiness from their victims.
    • The Boggart is a Shapeshifter who can sense what people are the most afraid of, and takes that form. It can be defeated by the power of laughter. For Harry, the Boggart turns into a Dementor, implying that what he's most afraid of is fear itself.
  • Superpowerful Genetics: Magical ability seems to be mostly inherited, though there are exceptions in both directions (meaning that, under the laws of Mendelian genetics, it can't be determined by a single gene; Rowling has also hinted that the gift of magic "preserves itself" somehow).
  • Super Supremacist:
    • Gellert Grindelwald planned a revolution in order to establish the wizards' power over the muggle world. Even Dumbledore bought into these ideas for a while, though his motive was a personal one: his sister was tormented by a group of Muggle boys, which had tragic consequences for all his family, and he believed that this sort of regime is the only way to prevent such things from ever happening again.
    • Years later, Voldemort may not be a straight example (being more of a himself supremacist) but draws most of his Death Eaters from this crowd. He preaches wizard superiority over muggles to his followers, and when they take over the Ministry of Magic from within in the last novel they basically turn it into a full-on fascist state.
  • Surprise Creepy: In actuality, the books (and by extension, the movies) often utilize deeply unsettling imagery and deal with dark themes such as death, loss, and betrayal in a frank and uncompromising manner. Make no mistake about it, there is genuine horror in the Harry Potter series.
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    T 
  • Take That!:
    • Both Aunt Marge in Book 3 and Dolores Umbridge in Books 5-7 are thinly veiled expies of Margaret Thatcher, whom J. K. Rowling had a dislike for.
    • Umbridge states that the purpose of education is to make sure that the students can pass their exams. Emphasis on standardized testing and the resulting pressure to "teach to the test" and ignore everything else (like problem-solving and critical-thinking skills, underlying theory, fine arts, and any attempt to make students into well-rounded individuals) is the bane of many an educator's existence. Umbridge is shown to be a terrible teacher, prohibiting students from actually practicing what they're taught.
    • Many of the early memories of Voldemort viewed in Book 6 are meant to refute the assertions by some fans that Voldemort is really a woobie with a Freudian Excuse. In fact, he was an irredeemable Creepy Child who made everyone's lives miserable for no reason.
    • An argument between Ginny and her older twin brothers about the grand total of two non-Harry boys she'd dated can be taken as a slight against the "Ginny is a slut" shippers. But it doesn't stop there. Book 7 features kisses between Harry/Ginny and Ron/Hermione and having Harry firmly state that he sees Hermione as a sister to him, but he never was in love with her. And then, of course, Harry/Ginny and Ron/Hermione are Happily Married 19 years after everything is good and done with.
  • Tanks For The Memories: The Pensieve is a memory receptacle that allows people to view the memories contained in it from a third-person view, even the owner of the memory, and displays events in the area surrounding the subject of the memory regardless of his/her awareness of them at the time.
  • Teen Genius: Hermione and Luna are probably the smartest students at Hogwarts during Harry's years there. They both are incredibly intelligent, but they think in very different ways.
    • The Marauders were the most brilliant students at Hogwarts in their day. James, Sirius, and Peter managed to become animagi in their fifth year, and with Remus, they invented the Marauder's Map, possibly the only map of Hogwarts (with its ever-changing floorplans and moving staircases) ever created. The Map also shows where every person in the castle is at any time.
    • Snape was altering potions recipes and inventing new spells while he was a sixth year (or at least wrote down his inventions in his sixth-year textbook).
    • By the time Dumbledore left Hogwarts, he was Head Boy, Winner of the Barnabus Finkley Prize for Exceptional Spell-Casting, British Youth Representative to the Wizengamot, Gold Medal-Winner for Ground-Breaking Contribution to the International Alchemical Conference in Cairo. He was also corresponding with adult geniuses, who were all amazed by his brilliance.
    • Voldemort had created two Horcruxes by the time he left school, which meant he not only found out what Horcruxes were and how to create them, but he also figured out how to modify the experiment to create six of them and split his soul into seven pieces. Evil, but brilliant.
    • Lily Evans was very talented and, according to Horace Slughorn, particularly adept at Potions. She does not seem to have been a genius like her contemporaries the Marauders and Snape, however.
    • Harry is smart, intuitive, and competent in every field of magic, but he excels at Defensive magic. According to JKR, he's even better at it than Hermione is and he could beat her in a duel (reflected by their O.W.L. grades, where Harry got the highest possible score in D.A.D.A, while that class was Hermione's lone "Exceeds Expectations" in a sea of Outstandings).
  • Teleporters and Transporters: There are three main methods of teleportation in the wizarding world:
    • The first we are introduced to is the Floo network, which connects fireplaces magically.
    • The second is Portkeys, where a seemingly innocuous object such as an old boot — although it could be anything — teleports anything that is touching it at the right moment. These are usually timed precisely so that a user has to reach it by a certain point, otherwise it teleports without them.
    • The third is Apparition, which is mentioned by name long before the characters use it themselves — this is where a wizard/witch teleports of their own volition to anywhere they wish. One has to pass an Apparition test at the age of 17, making it a close analogue of driving. There are also many places where one cannot Apparate, including Hogwarts.
    • There are a small number of other methods; notably, the Vanishing Cabinets, which allow access to Hogwarts by Death Eaters in Book Six. House-elves are also able to Apparate where wizards can't. Phoenixes can also take a wizard/witch with them when they teleport in a burst of flame.
  • Teleport Interdiction:
    • The Government can track and limit use of the Floo network; this becomes especially relevant in Deathly Hallows after Voldemort takes control of it.
    • Apparition can't be used in Hogwarts. It's also dangerous: you might leave body parts at your starting point or somewhere along the way.
  • Tell Me About My Father: For both parents. The emphasis starts with Harry's father (except for his eyes; he has his mother's eyes). However, we later find that Harry's father was a bit of an idiot as a teenager (though he grew out of it), and the focus turns more and more to his mother. Dumbledore mentions that his true nature is much more like hers, though he's inherited his diehard loyalty to his friends from his father.
  • Tempting Fate: "If I'd died as many times as she said I would, I'd be a medical miracle." Guess what happens in book seven.
  • Terrible Trio: Draco Malfoy and his henchthugs Crabbe and Goyle. Their higher-up is Draco's father, Lucius Malfoy, and later Voldemort himself, although he gives Draco an important mission to make his parents squirm as much as anything else. Lucius is a legitimately nasty piece of work, giving Ginny the diary that caused the events of the second book, but prefers a life of luxury with the occasional Muggle-hunting party to being a full-time villain.
  • Theme Naming: Not just the characters (most notably, everyone in the Black family is named after a celestial object, with the exception of Narcissa; and even Narcissa's son and grandson are named after constellations); there's also Diagon Alley and Knockturn Alley, which are puns.
  • They Walk Among Us: Wizards everywhere, Muggles unaware.
  • Third-Person Flashback: Pensieves work like this; that's why Harry was able to hear the Marauders' conversation when he went into Snape's memory.
  • Third-Person Person:
    • The house-elves refer to themselves this way.
    • Due to his megalomania, Voldemort occasionally refers to himself in the third-person as "Lord Voldemort," though this may be done intentionally to scare his victims or to sound condescending to establish authority over them (in the same way that a parent would call themselves "mommy" or "daddy" when talking to a child).
  • This Is Gonna Suck: The Trio in the first couple books when they get busted and sometimes almost expelled for breaking various rules, such as being out of bed after hours or flying a car to Hogwarts.
  • Toilet Teleportation: The employee entrance to Ministry of Magic is accessed by flushing oneself down a disgusting public pay toilet. Visitors take a decrepit phone booth.
  • Too Dumb to Live:
    • Dolores Umbridge. Surrounded by centaurs aiming arrows at you... and you still insult them for being "filthy half-breeds"? Dumbledore has to personally bail her out of that one — and she's not even grateful for it in the slightest!
    • Harry himself defies this in ''Prisoner Of Azkaban.''
      Mr. Weasley: Harry, promise me that whatever you do, you will not go looking for him.
      Harry: Mr. Weasley, why would I go looking for someone who wanted to kill me?
    • Then played hilariously straight, as he feels an urge to go looking for Black after he finds out some of the Awful Truth. He ends up hating Sirius so much that, when they meet at the end of the book, Harry charges at him and tries to choke him with his bare hands, forgetting that he is unarmed, much weaker than Black, and that Black has several wands on him at that point. Lucky for him, Black was there to protect Harry, not kill him.
    • Vincent Crabbe casting Fiendfyre, a jinx so deadly and unpredictable that even Hermione says she wouldn't dare try itnote . For most of the series, he and Goyle are portrayed as too stupid to think without Malfoy. In the second book, they choose to eat cakes left in a random location without showing the slightest suspicion. The film makes it even more jarring when they eat cakes that are floating in midair.
    • Vernon Dursley. When Hagrid shows up Vernon spends the entire time acting like an abusive jerk to Harry and insulting his parents and Dumbledore, that after knowing Hagrid really cares for them both. For perspective: Hagrid is half-giant, has Super Strength, and can use magic. Dudley ends up paying for it instead of his father in this case, but still...
  • Took a Level in Badass:
    • Literally everyone in the DA, but Neville Longbottom did it most spectacularly. He grew out of being the worst wizard of his year to fighting alongside the Golden Trio, Ginny and Luna at the Department of Mysteries in Book 5 and leading the DA in Harry's absence in Book 7.
    • Prisoner of Azkaban gets the ball rolling with Harry learning a complex piece of magic, then it gains momentum in Goblet of Fire when Harry uses his copious free time (and help from Hermione) to pick up a variety of offensive and defensive spells.
  • Took a Level in Jerkass: Percy and Cornelius Fudge. They get better, though. After he's sacked as Minister, Fudge reverts to the kindly, feeble old man he used to be, and Percy redeems himself in Book 7.
  • Tom the Dark Lord: Voldemort is the Trope Namer, whose real name, despite being the most evil wizard in centuries, is Tom Riddle.
  • Training the Gift of Magic: You're either a witch/wizard or a Muggle. However, witches and wizards can only perform minor and largely uncontrolled magic without training and the assistance of a wand; still, a Muggle can study all they like, they'll never be able to do it.
  • Translation Convention: In-universe example. Parseltongue sounds like any regular language to those with the innate talent to speak it. This becomes an important plot point in the second book, and facilitates Nagini's ambush on Harry in the seventh.
  • Traumatic Superpower Awakening: Most wizards first show their magic in such circumstances, well before puberty, but don't learn to control it until they get a wand and some training.
  • Treachery Is a Special Kind of Evil:
    • Rereading the third book after the seventh makes Snape's hatred of Sirius much clearer: In addition to his grudge against him from his schoolkid bullying, he, like everyone else, thought Sirius had betrayed the Potters to Voldemort, and thus was partly responsible for Lily's death.
    • Taken slightly too far in the fourth book, where Ron considers Hermione dating Viktor Krum (the Durmstrang champion) as aiding the enemy to cover his jealousy (causing a Broken Pedestal moment, as he'd been a big fan of Krum's up to then). Hermione doesn't see what the big deal is, but then she also doesn't get why Quidditch is seen as a good thing when all it does is cause tension and resentment between Houses (she's not wrong, but as the viewpoint character is a Quidditch player...).
    • Peter Pettigrew is on the receiving end from both sides: When Sirius realizes Pettigrew survived his betrayal of the Potters, he becomes obsessed with hunting him down and avenging them, nearly succeeding if it weren't for Harry interceding. Pettigrew sacrifices his living hand to bring Voldemort back, and is rewarded with a magical silver hand. In the seventh book, Pettigrew has a moment's hesitation (due to Harry saving his life four years prior) when carrying out Voldemort's orders, which is enough for the hand to strangle him.
    • The fake Mad-Eye Moody claims he can't abide traitors, which is why he looks down on former Death Eaters like Karkaroff and Lucius Malfoy. He's even telling the truth: they're Death Eaters who escaped imprisonment by claiming they were Double Agents or mind-controlled, while Bartemius Crouch Jr. went to Azkaban along with other loyalists before escaping to serve Voldemort in disguise.
  • Trope 2000: There's a whole series of Nimbus Exty-Thousand broomsticks. Harry himself owns a Nimbus Two Thousand... well, until it gets crushed by an animate tree. Magic is fun.
    • Just a year after the 2000 was invented, the makers discovered a way to make the broom slightly faster and created a prototype new model called the Nimbus 2001.
  • The Trope Without a Title:
    • Voldemort is known casually as You-Know-Who, formally as He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named, and by his followers as The Dark Lord.
    • Harry is occasionally referred to as "The Boy-Who-Lived" and, after Voldemort's return is proven, "The Chosen One."
  • Tragic Dropout: Dumbledore was orphaned in his teens, and was forced to give up many of his ambitions in order to become the new patriarch of his family and care for his younger siblings.
  • Tragic Villain: There are several of them.
    • We learn all about Severus Snape's tragic backstory in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows; his becoming a villainous character was all brought upon by his abusive childhood, the bullying he suffered as a student at Hogwarts, and his unrequited love for Lily Evans.
    • Draco Malfoy goes down this path in Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince because of his struggle to follow through with the mission given to him by Voldemort to kill Dumbledore, especially since he reveals that Voldemort would kill him and his family if he were to fail.
  • Trapped in Villainy: Draco Malfoy, who for the first five books is just a nuisance for Harry to deal with at school. Once he joins the Death Eaters, however, things change. He's given the job to kill Dumbledore, which seems simple enough in theory, but once Draco realizes that he can't follow through with murder he remains hesitant throughout the next book, and only stays in Voldemort's service because he's terrified of the man.
  • Tsundere:
    • Hermione is a type B, as demonstrated to Ron after the Yule ball (note: she was just asked out by a Quidditch star):
      Hermione: "Next time there's a ball, ask me before someone else does, and not as a last resort!"
    • Lily whenever James is around. She's nice to almost literally everyone else.
  • Two-Act Structure: With Goblet of Fire as the turning point where things start going to hell.
  • Tyrant Takes the Helm: Professor Umbridge's horrible misrule, so much so that she was the former Trope Namer.

    U 
  • Ultimate Job Security: Ignoring the fact that Hogwarts remains in operation despite having a running body count, Argus Filch is an exceedingly bitter man who explicitly enjoys causing students pain because he's jealous that they're learning magic while he's incapable of using it. At no point is the idea of firing him ever entertained. It's even a matter of public record that he actively co-operated and supported Umbridge with the explicit intent of getting permission to brutally torture students. Water under the bridge. (What makes this even odder is that Filch is a Squib and can't do magic. While Squibs are usually looked down up on by wizards and sent out into the Muggle world, somehow Filch gets a job at Britain's only wizard school.)
  • Unexpected Inheritance: Harry's inheritance from his dead parents, not to mention the various Anonymous Benefactors he's had.
  • Unicorns Are Sacred: Killing a unicorn is seen as a particularly heinous thing to do; Firenze refers to it as a "monstrous thing". The only person known to have done it in the series is Voldemort/Quirrell, further emphasising this. Drinking unicorn blood can prolong one's life, but the drinker will be cursed from the moment the blood touches their lips for having slain "something so pure and defenceless".
  • Unnecessary Roughness: Quidditch has this built into the rules. It has two iron balls which are magically enchanted to bash people senseless.
  • Unreliable Narrator: Being told from Harry's POV, his prejudice often colors the narrative to a certain extent.
  • Unstoppable Mailman: The owls will find you to deliver a letter, no matter where you are. Even if you don't want the letters. And they know if you've destroyed them without reading them (as the Dursleys are very displeased to find out.)
  • Unusual Euphemism:
    • Several, most notably the term Mudblood, a racial slur against Muggle-born wizards.
    • Blood Traitor = a pure-blood wizard who supports Muggles.
  • Unusual Pets for Unusual People:
    • All of the allowed pets at Hogwarts are animals associated with magic, which fall into this (aside from cats, which are just as popular with Mugglesnote ). In particular Neville's toad Trevor marks him out as a Butt-Monkey, (since he was given it as a gift even though they "went out of fashion years ago", according to Hagrid) and Ron's rat, Scabbers (who's a hand-me-down, like everything else of Ron's but turns out to be more than he seems in the third book).
    • There's also features Hagrid, the brave but not that bright half-giant Fluffy Tamer. Over the course of the series, he kept many dangerous magical creatures as pets, including a Giant Spider, a three-headed Hell Hound, a baby dragon and a bizarre and deadly Hybrid Monster called Blast-Ended Skrewt. Oddly, though, his most consistent pet is a perfectly ordinary boarhound.
  • Unwitting Pawn: The entire wizarding population other than Dumbledore, Snape, and Voldemort. Snape, at least, may be a knowing pawn, but even then, there are things he is kept in the dark about.
  • Urban Fantasy: It's easy to forget, but this series takes place 1990s Britain and features a magical community interacting with muggles to at least some degree.
  • The Usual Adversaries: Slytherin House.
  • Utility Magic: Wizards have roughly the same standards of living as Muggles did in the '50s (radio but no TV or Internet) except they use magic for everything beyond medieval technology.

    V 
  • Vast Bureaucracy: We never get exact numbers, but something like one in ten witches and wizards work for the Ministry of Magic in some capacity.
  • Vengeful Ghost: Ghosts can come back for a variety of reasons. Moaning Myrtle Warren doesn't say why she came back, but she did go about haunting Alpha Bitch Olive Hornby, who was bullying her before she died.
  • Villainous Legacy: Voldemort's ancestor Salazar Slytherin, one of the original four founders of Hogwarts in the Middle Ages, is primarily responsible for his House's present-day obsession with magical purebloods and its tendency to produce Evil Sorcerers. More directly, the giant Basilisk underneath Hogwarts that is revived by Voldemort centuries later used to be Slytherin's personal pet.
  • Villain with Good Publicity: Lucius Malfoy and Dolores Umbridge. To a lesser extent, Gilderoy Lockhart, who has good publicity because he took credit for the accomplishments of others.
  • Voice of the Legion: Professor Trelawney gets this whenever she is actually does predict the future, the only two times known being when she read the prophecy foretelling the coming of the one to defeat Voldemort (only seen and referenced in flashbacks) and again in Prisoner of Azkaban when she predicts the rebirth of Lord Voldemort.

    W 
  • Wainscot Society: The "wizarding world" is largely self-contained and self-reliant, and hence is almost too detached from the mainstream world to qualify as a wainscot, but contact between the two worlds does continue.
  • The War Just Before: The saga begins with the fall of Lord Voldemort, the most notorious dark wizard of the day, effectively putting an end to a reign of terror for the wizarding world. By the time Harry goes to Hogwarts the magical community has largely relaxed, but there are still lingering suspicions and unease as not all of Voldemort's followers have been accounted for.
  • Wham Episode: Each book gets its fair share, but Book 6 especially. However, It Was His Sled.
  • Whatevermancy:
    • Arithmancy, which actually exists and is an alternate term for numerology.
    • Played straight in the Spanish translation. Occlumency is translated as "Oclumancia", which would implicate some kind of... hidden divination? It should have been Oclumencia instead (the -mens, -mency suffix implying "mind" is correctly used in English and should have been carried on in the translation as -mencia).
  • What Beautiful Eyes!: Other than his lightning-shaped scar, one of Harry's most notable and most frequently commented on trait is his green eyes, which he inherited from Lily.
  • What the Hell, Hero?:
    • Plenty of Dumbledore's decisions have a helping of this, chronologically starting with his refusal to confront Grindelwald during the pillaging of Europe and ending with the metric ton of secrets kept from Harry, often for no good reason. (Due to esoteric rules of magic, not telling Harry in advance that he would have to die and that he might get better is one of the few justified cases.) He gets called out on this by Snape, by Harry in book five, and post-mortem by Aberforth and Rita Skeeter.
    • The Prime Minister in Half-Blood Prince calls out Scrimgeour and Fudge that they neglected to warn the Muggles that Dark Wizards are traipsing around the British countryside committing random acts of terrorism and murder. This is despite the Ministry planting Kingsley and various Aurors in his staff to bodyguard him, which means they could have warned him.
    • Professor McGonagall calls out Harry in Deathly Hallows when he uses the Cruciatus curse on one of the Death Eaters occupying the school in response to the Death Eater spitting on her. Though, admittedly, she calls his actions "noble" (she'd just rather he not commit a crime worthy of Azkaban for her sake) and it's hard to say that the Death Eater in question didn't deserve it considering that they had been torturing students throughout the year.
    • Hermione gives this to Harry in Order of the Phoenix, regarding his Chronic Hero Syndrome and how ridiculously easy it would be for Voldemort to use it to lure Harry into a trap. As it turns out, she is absolutely right.
  • When It All Began: Voldemort's first downfall.
  • Why Don't You Just Shoot Him?: Harry only survives through books 4 on because the revived Voldemort demands a grandiose and wand-induced death. When Voldemort actually does this in Book 7, it doesn't stick. Voldemort actually tries this near the end of Book 5 when he shows up unexpectedly after Harry had thwarted the Death Eaters' plan. Luckily for Harry, Dumbledore intervenes just in time.
  • Will-o'-the-Wisp: There's a creature called the Hinkypunk that floats around bogs and marshes and glows. While In-Universe, it's not really a Will O The Wisp, but possibly the 'real' explanation for the muggle phenomenon.
  • Witch Species: Capacity for magic is carried in the genes; see Artistic License – Biology above.
  • Wizard Classic: Several characters, Dumbledore being by far the most archetypical.
  • Wizarding School: Trope Codifier.
  • Wizards Live Longer: Witches and wizards have longer lifespans than Muggles.
  • Words Do Not Make The Magic: You have to be a wizard and usually possess a wand to do magic. Even then, it takes skill, correct gestures, and intent (especially for the Unforgivable Curses) to cast the spells.
  • Working-Class Werewolves: A justified example; wizards and witches who are werewolves often have trouble finding work due to the social stigma against them. Case in point, Remus Lupin often wears very shabby robes, looks constantly ill, lives in a half-derelict cottage and only got the job as Defence Against the Dark Arts teacher because of Dumbledore's generosity. As if that weren't bad enough, there's a recently developed potion (Wolfsbane Potion) that allows werewolves to safely manage their condition, making them less dangerous to other people and themselves, but it's so expensive few of them can even afford it.
  • World of Snark: Almost everyone shows the inclination at some point or another.
    • Amongst the Gryffindors: Harry Potter, Ron Weasley, Hermione Granger, Ginny Weasley, Fred and George Weasley, Seamus Finnegan, Dean Thomas, and Romilda Vane all go for it.
    • The other student snarkers include Draco Malfoy, Pansy Parkinson, Zacharias Smith, Pavarti (when pushed) and Padma Patil (particularly at the Yule Ball), and on occasion even Luna Lovegood. Moaning Myrtle and Diary!Riddle also have a few choice lines, proving this is not limited to living students.
    • The adults have no shortage either: Severus Snape, Minerva McGonagall, Alastor Moody, Lucius Malfoy, Sirius Black, Bellatrix Lestrange, Molly Weasley, Nymphadora Tonks... In flashback, Lily Evans, James Potter, and Remus Lupin all prove themselves, too. Even Minister Fudge gets a few chances to indulge his inner snarker. The portrait of Phineas Nigellus, too.
    • Finally, even Percy Weasley the perfect Prefect gets a few moments of snark, notably "I hope [Ron's] not in another girls' bathroom" in Chamber of Secrets and "Consider this my notice of resignation" in Deathly Hallows. No wonder so many interactions between our heroes end up degenerating into Snark-to-Snark Combat...
  • Writers Cannot Do Math: Rowling even said that math was not her strongest suit. Solid gold coins are worth about five British pound in The '90s. Silver coins can be bought for 29 pence in Muggle money. The Wizarding World is basically a third-world country.
  • Wrong Context Magic: Wizarding magic can be blocked by other wizarding magic, but house-elf magic can only be blocked if the elf's master forbids it. Hence, house-elves can Apparate in Hogwarts where wizards can't. Kreacher was able to Apparate from the cave where Voldemort hid his locket Horcrux, something even Dumbledore couldn't accomplish, simply because Regulus asked him to.

    X 
  • The X of Y: Most of the book titles. The Philosopher's Stone and The Deathly Hallows too, in some translations.
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    Y 
  • You Could Have Used Your Powers for Evil: What Voldemort hates about Dumbledore.
  • You Know the One:
    • There are some odd cases of Early Installment Weirdness in which some things are referred to by a vague description before they receive a proper identification by which they are exclusively referred to thereafter. The Dementors are called "the Azkaban guards" in Chamber of Secrets and early in Prisoner of Azkaban. Aurors are called "Hit Wizards" prior to their first appearance in the next book.note  Even more egregiously, the Death Eaters are called something along the lines of "Voldemort's followers" for the first three books until they are identified as "Death Eaters" in Goblet of Fire.
    • Justified with Voldemort, who is frequently referred to as "You-Know-Who," "He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named," or "the Dark Lord" because his enemies and allies alike fear to speak his name.
  • You Remind Me of X: Everyone goes out of their way to tell Harry how much he reminds them of Jamesnote . Later, rather ominously, the trend slides closer to comparing him to Voldemort.
  • Your Soul Is Mine: The result of the Dementor's Kiss.
  • Your Vampires Suck: A mild case of this. The one vampire encountered in the books seems none too frightening, though Goblet of Fire alludes to the Ministry seeing them as a sufficiently serious problem to be worth employing vampire hunters. J.K. Rowling does poke fun of a vampire who hypnotizes its victims with a boring Doorstopper of a book. It's also mentioned in Philosopher's Stone that Quirrell was supposed to have cracked after meeting real vampires (and a hag) when he decided to get hands-on experience with dark creatures instead of merely reading about them; seeing as his stuttering, scared-of-his-own-shadow persona was all an act and what actually happened was him encountering and being corrupted by Voldemort, this story isn't conclusive, but it does suggest at least some wizards believe vampires to be truly dangerous, or else no one would have accepted this as an explanation for Quirrell's behavior.
  • Your Worst Memory: The Dementors, who slowly drain all joy from humans and leave them with nothing but their worst memories. Harry, when attacked by the Dementors, hears the voices of his parents right before their murder at the hands of Voldemort.

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