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Literature / Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them

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Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them is a book mentioned in Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone which was later Defictionalized as a real book written by J. K. Rowling... ahem... Newt Scamander, whose grandson married Luna Lovegood. The book was first published in 2001, between the releases of Goblet of Fire and Order of the Phoenix, with an Updated Re-release in 2017.

The book is, of course, a guide to the magical beasts which exist in the world of Harry Potter. It is supposedly a copy of the edition owned by Harry Potter, complete with lots of amusing graffiti written in it by Harry and Ron, a bit from Hermione, and one memorable case from Malfoy (with whom Ron apparently played Hangman).

A companion piece to Quidditch Through the Ages and followed by The Tales of Beedle the Bard.

A Harry Potter Spin-Off film series began in 2016 with the first film reusing the title of the book, following the adventures of Newt Scamander seventy years before Harry set foot in Hogwarts, with J.K. Rowling writing the screenplays.


Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them provides examples of the following tropes:

  • Adaptational Attractiveness: There's a borderline in-universe example. Merpeople are often interpreted as beautiful in Muggle art and literature, when in reality there is only one particular subspecies that is beautiful, and two others who are more animalistic.
  • Adaptational Intelligence: In-universe. The author expresses surprise at the good press Muggles give to fairies, when in this universe they have minimal intelligence and limited magic.
  • Adaptational Villainy: Once again, in-universe — sea serpents are said to be fairly docile, when anyone reading knows that "Muggle" literature portrays them as vicious monsters.
  • All There in the Manual: This is the manual.
  • Anti-Magic: Eating pickled murtlap tentacles promotes resistance to jinxes and curses, although eating too many can cause a person to grow purple hair out of their ears.
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  • Attention Whore: The leprechauns are described as loving to attract humans, hence their good press in Muggle literature.
  • Beethoven Was an Alien Spy:
    • Dodos never went extinct. They're actually magical birds called diricawls and are capable of teleportation.
    • The Loch Ness Monster is actually a shapeshifter (specifically a kelpie), and hides whenever Muggles try to look for it.
    • Some rhinos are actually erumpents, whose horns explode upon touch.
    • Some Jack Russell Terriers are actually Crups, which usually have two tails but often have the second tail clipped so they can blend in.
    • Muggle children have often been accused of vandalising or destroying a back garden, when an offended Knarl is really the culprit.
    • Crop Circles are caused by Mooncalves doing their mating dance in fields of wheat.
  • Blue-and-Orange Morality: The Sphinx is a mostly benevolent creature who will only get violent if the person who hears their riddle guesses wrongly. It's not known from Harry's encounter in the fourth book if a Sphinx will interpret any answer as a guess — but she does allow him to ask questions about the riddle. Also, she gives the option for them to choose not to guess and walk away.
  • Breath Weapon: Dragons, obviously, but also the Nundu, whose breath causes disease strong enough to depopulate entire villages.
  • Brick Joke: Janus Thickey tried to fake his death by claiming a Lethifold got him. In actuality, he went to move in with an innkeeper. We find out later he had a hospital ward named after him, ostensibly due to his wife's reaction.
  • Brown Note: Fwooper song, if listened to too much, will drive the listener insane. The cry of the Augurey was thought to be this, but that's just superstition. The cry of the rooster is this for the Basilisk.
  • Call-Back: Rita Skeeter claims that Hagrid's Blast-Ended Skrewts are illegal crossbred creatures in the fourth book. Their lack of an entry in this one confirms they're crossbred, though their status as a Triwizard Cup obstacle suggests they were legal for at least that purpose.
  • Caption Humour: Harry and Ron's notes throughout the book.
  • Cassandra Did It: Augureys are feared because their cries are said to cause death. In reality, they're just predicting rain.
  • Character Filibuster:
    • Ron and Hermoine get into a large argument... via notes... on one of the first pages of Harry's books. Harry tells them both to shut up.
    • An entry right next to trolls has a drawing of one of Malfoy's goons, courtesy of Ron.
      My name is Gregory Goyle and I smell
  • Comically Missing the Point: Hermione points out that Ron could have used the money he wasted on Dungbombs to buy a new book for himself. He replies with "Dungbombs rule."
  • The Complainer Is Always Wrong: It's common to find a Runespoor, a three-headed serpent, with the right head bitten off — as this head is 'the critic' and criticizes the other two's actions.
  • Continuity Nod:
    • In the entry for the hippogriff, there's a brief line stating that they can be tamed, though this should only be attempted by experts. Harry's remark? "Has Hagrid read this?"
    • The entry for the Kappa, a Japanese creature that Snape claimed was more commonly found in Mongolia during Prisoner of Azkaban. "Snape hasn't read this either."
    • The entry of the Hungarian Horntail describes it as the most dangerous dragon breed of all: Harry notes, "You're not kidding."
    • In the entry on Acromantulas, there's a note about rumours of a large colony established somewhere in Scotland. It's crossed out with "confirmed by Harry Potter and Ron Weasley" written over it. This also confirmed to many fans that Hogwarts is located in Scotland. In addition, Ron adds nine X'es to its XXXXX rating, referencing his arachophobia.
    • Hagrid at one point tells Umbridge he has a friend that breeds Abraxan Horses. This book gives the name and information of them — enormously powerful and palomino-bodied — which confirms that Hagrid is talking about Madam Maxime, and that they are the horses that carried the Beauxbatons carriage.
    • In the entry for Leprechauns, it mentions that they produce "a realistic gold-like substance that vanishes after a few hours, to their great amusement." Ron notes next to it, "But not mine", referencing the leprechaun "gold" he picked up in Goblet of Fire.
    • The entry for pixies has them classifed as "XXX", which means competent wizards should cope. Next to it has Ron's note: "but XXXXXXX if you're Lockhart", referring to the pixie-chaos that Lockhart unleashed in Chamber of Secrets while attempting to teach DADA, and the subsequent injuries he suffered for it.
    • The entry for the dragon species Norwegian Ridgeback has the name crossed out and "Baby Norbert" written next to it.
    • The entry for basilisks says that there have been no recorded sightings of them in Britain for at least four hundred years. Harry noted "That's what you think."
    • Given that Harry saw the merpeople while diving into the lake, he crosses out "less pretty" and instead writes "ugly".
  • Cool Horse: Winged horses. Also the Unicorn.
  • Cute Monster Girl:
    • The Siren subspecies of merpeople, which are beautiful human-fish hybrids. The Selkie and Merrow subspecies have more alien appearances.
    • The Sphinx has the head of a beautiful woman, but the body of a lion.
  • Darkest Africa: Africa does sure have a lot of dangerous dark creatures, such as the Nundu, Tebo, and Streeler.
  • Dark Is Evil: Any beast or being classified as a "Dark Creature" falls under this. Dark Creatures (or "Demons" as they are classified) consists of anything that is capable of magic and uses said magic for the sake of malicious intent rather than survival. Dementors, werewolves, and boggarts are all considered Dark Creatures whereas chimeras, manticores, and dragons are not. This is because a dragon will only attack a wizard (or Muggle) to defend itself or for food while a werewolf will attack to turn another human into a werewolf or out of murderous intent — but is only dangerous when transformed and is as harmless or harmful as any other human the rest of the time.
  • Dark Is Not Evil: The Thestral has a black coat, has a very reptilian appearance, is attracted by raw meat, and is considered a bad omen — because it can only be seen by those who have witnessed someone die. However, that is just superstition, and the horses in the series are perfectly friendly to Harry when he meets them. Likewise, the Augurey was thought to be an omen of death, when it really just predicts incoming rain.
  • Deadpan Snarker: Have you read Harry and Ron's commentary? You can see the snark oozing off when they point out Snape made a geographical mistake about kappas. There are also the arguments Ron and Hermione get into at the beginning.
  • Didn't Think This Through: The creation of the Quintapeds, also known as the Hairy MacBoons. Summary: The heads of two Feuding Families engage in a duel and one of them gets killed. The dead man's family responds by transforming all members of the other family into five-legged monsters. The wizarding family who were just transfigured were famously inept at magic, and the wizards who transfigured them discover that they're much more dangerous as monsters. Said monsters proceed to kill everyone, leaving the Quintapeds incapable of turning back into humans.
  • Direct Line to the Author: The process of book creation appears to have involved a ladder, a magic crowbar, and a photocopier.
  • The Dreaded: Any creature classified as XXXXX by the Ministry of Magic, meaning that they kill (and, in some cases, eat) wizards and are usually impossible to tame or domesticate. Or in Harry's words, "anything Hagrid likes."
    • Chimaeras, creatures with the head of a lion, the body of a goat, and the tail of a dragon. Only one attempt to kill a member of this species has ever succeeded. And Hagrid tried to buy an egg once, possibly to use in Care of Magical Creatures class.
    • Lethifolds, Dementor-like creatures that can sneak up on a sleeping person and eat them alive, leaving nothing behind. They can only be repelled by Patronuses, which are extremely difficult to cast. And since they typically target the sleeping, most of their victims never get the opportunity to even attempt a Patronus.
    • Nundus, gigantic, silent leopards with diseased breath powerful enough to sicken and wipe out entire villages. They have never been contained by less than one hundred highly-trained wizards working together at once.
    • Quintapeds, vicious five-legged beasts that enjoy eating humans. They are so dangerous that the single island they live on has been magically rendered Unplottable so that it does not show up on maps.
    • Werewolves, who are human every day of the month except for nights with a full moon, when they turn into violent beasts that attack and eat humans on sight. Even werewolves in human form can be dangerous, as proved by the savage Fenrir Greyback, an ally of the Death Eaters whose mission is to turn as many people into werewolves as possible.
    • Dragons, which are gigantic, breathe fire, and eat anything they can find, including humans.
    • Acromantulas, giant man-eating spiders who live in deep, dark forests.
    • Basilisks, giant (noticing a pattern?) fifty-foot-long venomous snakes who kill anyone who looks at them directly.
    • The updated 2017 edition of the book added two more XXXXX-classified beasts: the Wampus Cat and the Horned Serpent. It's not specified exactly what makes Wampus Cats so dangerous, but they can walk on their hind legs, outrun arrows, and are reputed to have hypnotic eyes. Horned Serpents are equally mysterious, but Isolt Sayre was known to have befriended one.
  • Dumb Dodo Bird: The Diricawl, certainly a weird one though. See Beethoven Was an Alien Spy and Teleportation.
  • Early-Bird Cameo:
    • Many creatures first appeared here before being mentioned in the books. Even Thestrals are included, albeit as a minor reference under "Winged Horse". Likewise, some creatures that appeared but weren't named were given official names in this, such as the Acromantula and the subspecies of Merpeople and Winged Horses.
    • Then there's the Erumpent, a rhinoceros-like creature that has an exploding horn. In Deathly Hallows, Xenophilius Lovegood has an Erumpent horn on his wall, thinking it belongs to a Crumple-Horned Snorkack, and his accidentally blowing it up helps the trio escape.
  • Eldritch Abomination: Lethifolds, being formless living shadows that may or may not be related to Dementors, which like to ambush sleeping people and consume them. (Dementors themselves don't get an entry, as they are considered beings rather than beasts.)
  • Emotion Eater: The Pogrebin, which tails humans for hours and causes them to feel despair. Luckily, just kicking them is pretty effective in getting rid of them.
  • Exact Words: Early definitions of "Beings" were done with human centrism in mind, leading to definitions like "creatures who walk on two legs" or "who speak the human language". This would leave out obvious beings like centaurs and merfolk, but accidentally include a lot of creatures, such as trolls, augureys, fwoopers, or vampires. Havoc ensues. The definition that stuck was "Any creature that can understand the laws of the Wizarding World", which helped tighten the list to just sentients. By the time they got there, the Centaurs were so annoyed with this that they insisted on keeping the Beast designation in protest.
  • The Fair Folk: The pixies definitely. The doxy is also quite the little pest.
  • Fairy Companion: Fairies are usually conjured up to serve as decoration.
  • Fantastic Medicinal Bodily Product:
    • Re'em blood gives the drinker Super Strength for a short amount of time.
    • Salamander blood is mentioned to have rejuvenating properties, and is thus often used in strengthening potions.
    • Pickled murtlap tentacles can be eaten to improve resistance to jinxes, or made into a salve to soothe painful cuts and abrasions. Eating too many, though, can cause one to grow purple hair out of their ears.
    • Mooncalf dung, when collected before the sun rises, can be spread on magical plants to make them grow faster and stronger.
  • The Fantastic Trope of Wonderous Titles: Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them
  • Fantastic Racism: Some extreme factions favour classifying Muggles as "beasts".
  • Fearsome Critters of American Folklore: Several are included in the 2017 re-release, namely the Hidebehind, the Hodag, the Snallygaster, and the Wampus Cat.
  • Feuding Families: The McCliverts and the MacBoons (the former, possibly, transformed the latter into five-legged, hairy monsters; the latter proceeded to eat them).
  • Fictional Document: Harry Potter's very own textbook on magical creatures.
  • Footnote Fever: Not just from the author, but from Hermione, Ron, Harry, and various others. If it's from the gang, expect it to be arguing, nitpicking, or Harry telling Hermione and Ron to stop arguing.
  • Foreshadowing: The Demiguise is mentioned as a huge, gorilla-like creature whose silky hair is used to create invisibility cloaks. These cloaks are said to wear out over time. Harry's cloak has been around for years and is still fully functional, becoming an important plot point in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows.
  • Gentle Giant: The Sea Serpent, which is surprisingly benevolent.
  • Giant Spider: The Acromantula. It's theorised to have originated from experimental breeding, as it is capable of human speech.
  • G-Rated Drug: Some people like to intentionally goad Billywigs to sting them because they enjoy the sensations of euphoria and temporary levitation it grants them, though too many stings can have unpleasant side-effects.
  • Heh Heh, You Said "X": Someone, probably Harry or Ron, circles the word "bum" in "Glumbumble".
  • Heli-Critter: The Billywig, an insect whose wings are arranged and move like helicopter blades.
  • Hypocritical Humour: In one of Ron and Hermione's written arguments:
    Hermione: Why don't you buy a new one [book] then?
    Ron: Write in your own book Hermione.
  • Jive Turkey: The Jarvey speaks like this; it isn't capable of true conversation. Amusingly enough, the book claims the Jarvey is self-taught human speech.
  • Kicked Upstairs: "Sent to the Centaur Office" is a euphemism for being fired in the Ministry of Magic, as centaurs are so isolationist that the office doesn't actually do anything.
  • Kick the Dog: Or the Puffskein in this case. One of Ron's annotations mentions that he used to have a pet Puffskein until Fred used it for Bludger practice (implicitly beating it to death).
  • The Last of These Is Not Like the Others: According to the "About the Author" section, Newt Scamander has three pet Kneazles named Hoppy, Milly, and Mauler.
  • Meaningful Name: The Quintaped, which has five legs. For bonus points, one wizard legend states that quintapeds are the last descendants of the MacBoons, a wizarding clan transfigured into their current form in revenge for their chieftain killing a rival in a duel. The MacBoon chieftain responsible was named Quintis.
  • Multiple Head Case: Runespoors, which are three-headed snakes. Each head actually has a separate personality; the left head is The Leader who commands the body, the middle head is the dreamer who is often lost in fantastic visions, and the third head is the critic who is constantly taunting the other two (and often bitten off once the other two heads have had enough).
  • Multiple-Tailed Beast: The Crup, which resembles a Jack Russel apart from its forked tail. They normally have the ends clipped in order to preserve The Masquerade.
  • Mundane Utility:
    • Once it was discovered that the Augurey's cry predicts rain, some wizards started to keep them around as living weather forecasters. However, they can get really annoying during winter, when it rains constantly.
    • Mooncalf dung is used as plant fertilizer. When it's harvested before sunrise and spread on magical plants, they grow much faster than normal and become extremely strong.
    • The Clabbert has a large pimple on its head that flashes red when danger approaches. Wizards use it as an alarm to warn of approaching Muggles.
  • Naked Nutter: The notoriously eccentric Uric the Oddball tried to convince the Wizard's Council that the song of the Fwooper wasn't detrimental to the mental health of the listener as commonly believed, but quite the reverse. At the time, he claimed that he had conclusive proof of the positive effects of the magical bird's song after listening to it for nearly three months; unfortunately, the fact that he showed up for the presentation wearing nothing but a dead badger on his head made the arguments a little less than convincing.
  • Never Sleep Again: The Lethifold kills its victims in their sleep.
  • Non-Indicative Name: The Fire Crab looks more like a tortoise.
  • Not Helping Your Case: Uric the Oddball subjected himself to three months of Fwooper song so he could prove that it did not cause insanity. He then showed up to the next Wizards' Council meeting naked save for a dead badger on his head, thus convincing nobody.
  • Not the Nessie: There is one, but it's part of a larger species, and is a shapeshifter — it turns into something else whenever Muggles look around for it.
  • Our Dragons Are Different: The book obviously depicts every single species of dragons in the Potterverse. Most seem for some reason to be European (even the South American and Australasian species), with only one species based on Chinese dragons, and even so being more akin to European forms as it breathes fire and is malevolent (although all of them are more animalistic than anything, hearkening back to the pre-Tolkien versions of the myths).
  • Our Fairies Are Different: Five particular creatures. All of them also lay eggs like insects rather than giving birth to live offspring.
    • Fairies — the traditional tiny cute Winged Humanoid. Has very little intelligence and very basic magic. Usually just used for decoration. The author expresses surprise at the good Muggle press the Fairy has.
    • Pixie — tiny shrill flyers. They love making mischief and are strong enough to lift a human's weight.
    • Imp — close cousin to the pixie, but much duller in appearance and cannot fly. Also considerably less of a nuisance.
    • Doxy — covered in black hair, with two sets of very sharp teeth and extra arms and legs. Considered pests, they're also very hostile to humans.
    • Bowtruckle — a tree-dwelling creature that appears to be made of wood. Is normally benevolent, but will get violent if it is threatened.
  • Our Griffins Are Different: Classical griffins and hippogriffs (note that hippogriffs were a part of mythology, but mostly as a figuratively unlikely creature, since horses and griffins were enemies).
  • Our Hippocamps Are Different: Hippocampi are among the beasts described in the book. They're native to the Mediterranean Sea, but a specimen was discovered by merpeople off the shores of Scotland in 1949 and subsequently domesticated. Hippocampi lay semi-transparent eggs, from which so-called tadfoals emerge.
  • Our Mermaids Are Different: There are three species of them — Sirens, Selkies, and Merrows. Selkies are the only ones that actually appear in the series, though. The Mermish language sounds like a lot of shrieking and screaming above the surfacenote . But underwater, it sounds like normal talking. All merpeople are said to share a great love of music. They presumably can't transform into humans at all.
  • Our Werewolves Are Different: During the rest of the month, they're usually normal wizards or even Muggles. During the full moon, they become vicious, man-eating direwolves.
  • Panthera Awesome: The Nundu, a gigantic leopard so dangerous that it takes a hundred wizards to subdue just one. Take note that it took ten wizards to control four dragons in the Triwizard Tournament.
  • Pegasus: Winged Horses are given an entry. Pegasus is even given a nod as helping the only wizard to ever successfully slay a Chimaera. There are four species.
    • Abraxan — the biggest and strongest, with palomino bodies. These horses appear in the series, transporting the Beauxbatons carriage from France to Britain.
    • Aethonan — chestnut in appearance and native to Britain and Ireland.
    • Granian — a greynote  and incredibly fast. This would be what species Pegasus was.
    • Thestral — black and more reptilian in appearance. Is invisible to everyone except those who have 'seen death'. Also very good at finding locations.
  • The Phoenix: Of course. The Augurey is also known as "The Irish Phoenix".
  • Playing with Fire: The Fire Crab naturally. It shoots fire out of its ass as a defence mechanism.
  • Power Trio: The Runespoor is a three-headed snake and the heads form one of these. The middle head is the dreamer (The Id), the left head is the planner (The Superego), and the right head is the critic (The Ego).
  • Red Herring:
    • The Nundu is described as the most dangerous beast in the world. You would guess that Harry has to fight one later in the series. He doesn't. Then again, it lives in Africa, where Harry really didn't have any reason to go…
    • Ditto with the Lethifold, which requires a Patronus Charm to repel. Around the time this book came out, we'd only seen Patronuses used on Dementors. Similarly to the Nundu, Harry didn't have a reason to visit the Lethifold in the tropics.
  • Riddling Sphinx: Despite its humanoid appearance, the sphinx is classed as a beast because of this. It speaks only in riddles and puzzles — and gets violent if given the wrong answer.
  • Sea Monster: The Sea Serpent counts as a subversion as — despite reaching up to a hundred feet in length — it's a fairly docile creature.
  • Sea Serpents: As mentioned above, sea serpents exist in the Wizarding World. Additionally, the world's largest Kelpie, living in Loch Ness, likes to disguise itself as one.
  • Self-Fulfilling Prophecy: It was originally believed that the cry of the Augurey foretold the death of whoever heard it. Several wizards are thought to have suffered heart attacks brought on by hearing an unseen Augurey wail.
  • Selkies and Wereseals: In this universe, 'Selkie' is a subspecies of merpeople. It's implied that they are the merpeople encountered in the Second Tasknote  — possibly referencing selkie mythology, they have a more aquatic appearance than traditional beautiful mermaids.
  • Shrinking Violet: The Augurey is described as intensely shy, hiding from humans and living in thorny nests.
  • Sirens Are Mermaids: 'Siren' is a species of mermaid found in the Mediterranean. They are the beautiful mermaids commonly depicted in art and literature, contrasting with the Selkies and the Merrows, which have more alien appearances. All merpeople are also said to share a love of music, which comes from the Siren myth.
  • Sizeshifter: The Moke, a lizard which can shrink to defend itself from predators. This has led to people using its hide to make bags that shrink to avoid being stolen.
  • Stuff Blowing Up: Erumpent horns contain explosive fluid. Their numbers aren't very large because of this, as they still have the rhino instinct to charge at poor bastards who upset them despite not being completely immune to their own explosions.
  • Take That, Scrappy!: In-universe example. The Flobberworm — the most despised creature Hagrid ever brought to class — is officially classified as 'Boring' in the book's entry, and the only creature with that designation, to boot.
  • Teleportation: Diricawls and phoenixes can do this (in a puff of feathers and burst of flames, respectively).
  • To Serve Man: Many beasts are classified as XXXXX because they willingly eat humans or have a particular taste for them, including werewolves, dragons, Quintapeds, and Lethifolds.
  • Unicorn: Much of the same information we were given in Hagrid's lesson in the fourth book. Foals are born pure gold, then they turn silver, then they grow horns and then they turn white. The tail hair is incredibly strong.
  • Urban Legend: In-universe; it's mentioned that there are rumors about dried Billywig stings being an ingredient in the popular wizarding sweet Fizzing Whizbees (which incidentally also causes temporary levitation). This is likely a reference to similar real-life urban legends, such as the (debunked) claim that Bubble Yum contained spider eggs.
  • Visual Pun: Fairies are conjured up to serve as decorative lights — fairy lights.
  • Voluntary Shapeshifter: Many creatures in the Wizarding World are capable of shapeshifting, most notably the Kelpie, which usually takes the form of a horse with sticky reeds in its hair (its traditional appearance in mythology). The largest Kelpie in the world is the Loch Ness Monster, which prefers to take the form of a sea serpent and will sometimes shift into the form of something innocuous, like an otter, when pursued by suspicious Muggles.
  • What Measure Is a Non-Human?: A serious issue, given the wizarding world's partially-human hybrid creatures and talking animals of various levels of intelligence. The centaurs in particular willingly separated themselves from humans, rejecting 'Being' classification. There was also a big debate about the inclusion of Werewolves, since they are essentially just cursed humans.
    • We get to hear about some of these debates. For instance, one attempt at setting formal class definitions was whether they could speak English. This unfairly excluded the Merfolk, which offended the Centaurs enough to cause their insistence on "beast" classification for themselves. On the other hand, a group of Goblins took the opportunity to quite literally Troll the Wizards by teaching the monsters a few basic phrases by rote.
    • And then it goes into Muggles and extremist Magical folk: instead of general disdain towards Muggles, seeing them as inferior to magic users, extremists want to label all Muggles as "beasts" (presumably non-magical ones) and treated as such.
  • Your Vampires Suck: A footnote addresses Muggle notions about fairies, and how wrong they are.


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