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Literature / Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince

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"Apparently I underestimated you, Potter. Who would have thought you knew such dark magic?"
Severus Snape

Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince is the sixth and penultimate book in the Harry Potter series, published 16 July 2005.

The Ministry has finally accepted that Voldemort is back, but that hasn't really made the situation any better. With everyone terrified, obviously unjustifiable arrests happening and misinformation still being printed, just in the other way, events play out to show that the Ministry is in no fit state to stop Voldemort.

But while those events linger over the plot, the action stays fully grounded at Hogwarts. Harry learns more about Voldemort's Back Story, becomes increasingly suspicious of Snape's loyalty, and discovers an old potions textbook annotated with powerful spells and useful notes from its previous owner who identifies himself only as "The Half-Blood Prince". Draco Malfoy is tasked with something by Voldemort himself; and wacky romantic hijinks ensue for everyone.

As Word of God has noted, Half-Blood Prince is where the serialization of Harry Potter hit its zenith. Where all five of the previous novels ended the main plot, Half-Blood Prince’s ending builds up to an emotional release but simply prepares the reader for Deathly Hallows to start up at a much faster pace. Also, due to Executive Meddling forcing J. K. Rowling to slim down Chamber of Secrets, there is a lot of Fridge Brilliance here when compared to Chamber.

Followed by Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows. It was adapted into a movie in 2009.

Tropes exclusive to this book or at least especially prominent:

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  • 0% Approval Rating: Fudge's popularity plummeted after the Ministry finally had to admit that Voldemort really had returned after a year of pretending he hadn't, and he was forced to resign. He rather sadly remarks that the wizarding community's unanimous call for his resignation was the most united the people had been in his time as Minister.
  • 21-Gun Salute: The centaurs of the Dark Forest fire off a volley of arrows in honour of Dumbledore, at his funeral.
  • Aborted Arc: Harry and his friends spend spend an odd amount of page time pointing out that Florean Fortescue's ice-cream parlour has been boarded up and its owner kidnapped by Death Eaters. This was meant to be followed up in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, but the thread was dropped as, in the author's view, it was "going nowhere", and his role was instead given to the portrait of Phineas Nigellus Black. In the canon, Florean is murdered off-screen by Death Eaters sometime during the events of this book.
  • Abusive Parents: Dumbledore calls out the Dursleys for being this — not solely to their nephew Harry, but to their son Dudley as well. The Dursleys don't understand what Dumbledore is talking about ... that their relentless indulgence of Dudley's every whim has turned him into an obese, spoiled bully.
  • Accidental Discovery: The Weasley twins thought it would be a great joke shop product if they enchanted a hat with a shield charm so that they could trick their friends into jinxing them and have a laugh as it backfires. It wasn't until the Ministry ordered 500 of them that the two realized they had just invented wizard body armour, by accident, as a joke. This swiftly caused them to ditch the prank angle and openly sell the hats (among other items like cloaks and gloves) as protective gear.
  • Accidental Kiss: Celebrating winning the Quidditch Cup without Harry present on the team, Ginny gives Harry a big hug. Harry, who's been fighting his attraction to Ginny all year, kisses her passionately without intending to or making the conscious decision to do so, he's just overcome by the emotion of the moment. Turns out everyone had been waiting for them to do so, even (albeit somewhat grudgingly) Ron.
  • Accidental Misnaming:
    • In the scene where Harry and Ron go to Slughorn to treat a love potion, Slughorn calls Ron Ralph. He later refers to him as Rupert.
    • Mrs. Cole, the director of the orphanage in which Tom Riddle grew up, introduces Dumbledore to the young Riddle first as Dumberton and then Dunderbore. She is by this point more than a little inebriated, having knocked back several gin shots while talking to Dumbledore in her office.
  • Accidental Passenger: After Malfoy has paralysed Harry on the train, and left him there, the train starts returning to London. Fortunately, Tonks rescues him after a short time, and they jump off the moving train.
  • Accomplice by Inaction: This is why Harry refuses to become the poster boy for the Ministry of Magic. First, nobody in the Ministry (if they weren't also an Order of the Phoenix member) stood up for him when Fudge and his lackeys were harassing Harry, Dumbledore, and their supporters out of fear of losing their jobs if they had done so. This makes them all just as guilty for covering up Voldemort's return and allowing the Death Eaters to go on with their plans unopposed for a whole year, so Harry feels no obligation to help them clean up the mess they made. Second, it would also make Harry himself an Accomplice by Inaction; if he gives the impression that he's working with the Ministry, he's also giving his tacit or open support to their "attempts" to solve the He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named Problem, which are more about being perceived to be making progress than about actually making progress.
  • Achilles' Heel: Deconstructed with Voldemort's Horcruxes. As Dumbledore points out, yes, destroying them will remove his anchors to immortality and ensure that Voldemort can be killed for good this time. However, that also realistically doesn't do Voldemort's would-be killers much good. They'll still have to take down the most dangerous and powerful Dark wizard currently alive, somehow.
  • Acquitted Too Late:
    • Sirius Black is finally found innocent of the mass murder every wizard thought he committed, as Fudge tells the British Prime Minister during the first chapter. Too bad he's already dead at this point.
    • Morfin Gaunt, whom Voldemort framed for his own triple murder of his Riddle relatives. Dumbledore found evidence Voldemort was the real culprit, but Morfin died in Azkaban before the verdict could be overturned.
    • Likewise, Voldemort also framed a house-elf named Hokey for poisoning her mistress with the same methods he used to frame his uncle. The Ministry didn't bother investigating the situation any further because she was a house-elf.
  • Acting Unnatural: Hermione attempts to act casually in Borgin and Burkes, and immediately gets noticed.
  • Actually, I Am Him: Harry doesn't realise he's talking to the Half-Blood Prince until he tries to use one of the Prince's own spells, at which point the Prince brags about his identity to a distraught Harry.
    Snape: You dare use my own spells against me? It was I who invented them — I, the Half-Blood Prince! And you'd turn my inventions on me?
  • Added Alliterative Appeal:
    • Chapter 11 is entitled "Hermione's Helping Hand".
    • When the pupils learn to Apparate, they are taught by Wilkie Twycross, whose motto is "the three D's: destination, determination, and deliberation." When Apparition proves very difficult to learn, there is a certain ill-feeling towards Twycross and his three D's, which inspire nicknames such as "Dung-head", "Dog-breath", and many much ruder ones.
  • Agony of the Feet: A Gnome bites Fred’s ankle while he pulls up carrots; it gets turned into the angel on top of the Christmas tree.
  • Ain't Too Proud to Beg: At the mercy of Fenrir Greyback, Amycus and Alecto Carrow, and Corban Yaxley, as well as a terrified Draco Malfoy, Dumbledore is calm and collected and converses with them quite casually. However, when Severus Snape steps in, Dumbledore's mood suddenly shifts, and he pleads with Snape, seemingly for his life. Deathly Hallows would later reveal that he was pleading with Snape to Mercy Kill him so that Draco wouldn't have to.
  • Alas, Poor Villain: Harry's opinion of Draco by the end of the novel. While he still despises Malfoy and his infatuation with the Dark Arts, Harry does at least now feel some pity for his old rival. He saw Draco back down from killing Dumbledore on the Tower and doesn't believe Draco would have gone through with it. Harry understands now the cruel emotional torture that Voldemort has imposed on him over the last year to punish Lucius.
  • The Alcoholic:
    • It's implied that the head of young Tom Riddle's orphanage, Mrs. Cole, is one. It's not surprising given the stress of running such an establishment — for over at least the last eleven years — and that Dumbledore's visit coincided with the threat of war with Nazi Germany.
    • Sybil Trelawney is often said to smell of sherry. And she runs into Harry at the Room of Requirement because she's looking for a place to hide her sherry bottles.
  • The Alibi: When Harry accuses Malfoy of giving the cursed necklace to Katie Bell, Professor McGonagall says that he couldn't have put Katie under the Imperius Curse to give the necklace to Dumbledore because Malfoy was serving detention with her. However, Malfoy had an accomplice: Madame Rosmerta under the Imperius Curse, who did his work for him.
  • All for Nothing: After the lengths Harry and Dumbledore go to retrieve Voldemort's locket Horcrux, Harry discovers that someone (later revealed to be Regulus Black) has already stolen it and replaced it with a fake.
  • Alliterative Family: Marvolo, Merope, and Morfin Gaunt.
  • And That's Terrible: In the song about Odo:
    And Odo the hero, they bore him back home
    To the place that he'd known as a lad.
    They laid him to rest with his hat inside out
    And his wand snapped in two, which was sad.
  • Arbitrary Scepticism: Hermione and Ron outright reject Harry's assertion that Draco is now working for Voldemort and it becomes a point of contention between them. This despite the following facts: Draco is bragging to his fellow Slytherins about it; his parents and other family members are Death Eaters; Voldemort recruited the original Death Eaters from among his Hogwarts classmates; and, Voldemort himself committed his first murders while he was still a student at Hogwarts. Then again, without any solid proof, Harry builds his case on his personal dislike for Draco, and there are alternative explanations for all his circumstantial evidence. Still, Ron and Hermione have followed Harry into wilder conclusions with less evidence previously, and he's been proven right.
  • Armour-Piercing Question:
    • In the Muggle Prime Minister's flashback to his first meeting with Fudge, he wonders aloud why none of his predecessors ever told him of the existence of a coexisting society in the same country. Fudge laughs and asks, "My dear Prime Minister, are you ever going to tell anybody?" As soon as Fudge is gone, the PM admits to himself that he never will tell anyone.
    • Snape opens his defence against Bellatrix's accusations with two of these, first asking her if it never occurred to her that Voldemort might have had the same questions when Snape returned to him after thirteen years? After telling her he did and Snape gave answers, he points out that Voldemort trusts him (obviously, or he'd be dead), so does she think that she knows better than Voldemort?
    • When Harry calls Snape a coward during their duel at the end, Snape retorts: "Your father would never attack me unless it was four on one, what would you call him, I wonder?"
  • Assassination Attempt: A subplot in the book covers failed assassinations that end up hurting students instead. It's very unclear who's being targeted or who's carrying out the attacks, or why, for most of the book. Speculation abounds, from the idea that the Gryffindor Quidditch team is under attack to the idea that it's an attempt to kill Horace Slughorn for avoiding the Death Eaters. Harry adamantly holds that Draco is behind it, as he does with most things. It turns out Voldemort ordered Draco to kill Professor Dumbledore, which he manages to do with assistance from Severus Snape. Those failed assassinations were spur-of-the-moment plans he came up with when he got scared his main plan of repairing the Vanishing Cabinet wasn't going to work.
  • Asshole Victim:
    • Morfin Gaunt, Muggle-hater who was framed for the murders of some of Voldemort's victims, all of whom were victims in their own right. However, Dumbledore feels that whatever Gaunt was, he didn't deserve to be sent to the Dementors for a crime he didn't commit.
    • After everything he did from the end of Book Four on, it's hard to feel sorry for Fudge after he's forced to resign in disgrace, much less after learning that he was planning to use Harry to boost morale after smearing him.
  • Awesome, but Impractical: During a Potions class, Hermione uses the textbook's solution to creating an antidote for a poison, which involves decanting the ingredients into ten different phials and making the antidote with fifty-two different ingredients including some of her own hair. It shows her skill very well but is far less efficient than Harry's solution, which consists of simply using a bezoar. Downplayed, though, because Slughorn points out there are poisons that bezoars can't cure, so it's worth a wizard's while knowing how to make antidotes the hard way.
  • The Bad Guy Wins: Played With While the Death Eaters do succeed in killing Dumbledore, it's revealed in the next book that he asked Snape to do this.
  • Bait-and-Switch: with five entries to the series and the pattern of a different Defense Against the Dark Arts teacher every year, you probably expected the newly-introduced character of Horace Slughorn—who Dumbledore and Harry visit with the explicit goal of bringing him out of retirement to teach at Hogwarts again—will be the one. Nope! Snape is the the DADA teacher this year, and Slughorn is replacing him as the Potions teacher!
  • Batman Gambit: Dumbledore brings Harry along to persuade Slughorn to take up the now vacant post of Potions Master. Knowing Horace's ambitions and networking, Dumbledore knows the prospect of teaching and influencing The Boy Who Lived (let alone the son of his old favorite pupil Lily Evans) will be just enough to tempt Horace out of retirement. Amusingly, Slughorn (who knows Dumbledore and his methods after decades of working together at Hogwarts) instantly realizes exactly what Albus is up to. Horace warns his old colleague that he won't fall for it ... and ultimately succumbs to temptation away.
  • Bathroom Brawl: Harry fights Draco in a bathroom and uses the "Sectumsempra" spell on him.
  • Battle-Interrupting Shout: Harry does this in an attempt to stop an argument between Ron and Ginny over Ginny's love life by trying to reason with Ginny ("He doesn't mean anything," says Harry; Ginny retorts, "Oh yes he does!") before placing himself between them. The argument escalates despite Harry's attempt at curtailing it, culminating in Ron firing a jinx at Ginny that misses when she taunts Ron once too many, Harry pinning Ron to the wall to stop him, and Ginny telling Ron off before walking away, finally ending the argument.
  • Be Careful What You Wish For: In the hiding place of Voldemort's Locket Horcrux, Dumbledore expresses disappointment at Voldemort's lack of imagination when he learns he has to shed blood in order to enter it. Unfortunately for Dumbledore, Voldemort has thought much further ahead than that, as the door is designed to force the one who enters to weaken themselves and make them more susceptible to the traps inside.
  • Because Destiny Says So: This and about half the Fate and Prophecy Index get smashed into bits by Dumbledore and Harry's discussion on The Prophecy. To make it short, there's no greater providence at work, being The Chosen One is little more than a technicality, Harry has no particular destiny to fulfil nor is there any higher power ensuring his success, and he and Voldemort need to kill each other only because of their mutual desire. It's also because Voldemort believes this trope is in effect, so he will do everything in his power to kill Harry. Because of this, in the end, Harry can only stop Voldemort by killing him.
  • Beneath Suspicion: Nobody believes Harry as he argues that Draco is a Death Eater plotting against them since Draco is mostly a joke to them by this point. Dumbledore knows, but he has his own plans in place. And eventually Harry finds firmer evidence that Draco is up to something, which Hermione can't refute.
  • Berserk Button:
    • Harry implies that Dumbledore is leaving the school vulnerable whenever he goes searching for Horcruxes. He immediately realises he has crossed a line and Dumbledore, who is normally very understanding and accommodating with Harry's outbursts, is legitimately, if quietly, angry with him for the first time.
    • Harry accidentally stumbling on Draco Malfoy in one of his more vulnerable moments immediately triggers a duel. This is wildly out of character for Draco, a Dirty Coward who almost always tries to avoid a fight with Harry in favor of using his privilege or trickery to one-up him, showing that he was just that pissed.
    • Harry attempting to use the Levicorpus spell against Snape sends the latter reeling in outrage, one of the only times we ever see Snape loudly and passionately angry. Not only was he galled that Harry tried to use his own spell against him, but Harry's father (whom Harry strongly resembles) using that spell against him was a key moment in the most traumatizing moment of his childhood.
  • Beware the Nice Ones: While telling Harry about the Unbreakable Vow, Ron tells Harry about a time when one of the twins tried to make one with him but Mr. Weasley caught them in the act. Ron says that's the only time that he's ever seen Arthur become as angry as Molly.
  • The B Grade: When the trio gets their O.W.L. results, Hermione is disappointed to find that she got ten "Outstandings" and an "Exceeds Expectations" in Defence Against the Dark Arts, much to Ron's amusement.
  • Big Bad Wannabe: Every bad thing that happens at Hogwarts this year is caused by Draco Malfoy in his attempts to kill Dumbledore, but he can't really be considered the Big Bad of the book as his reluctance and ineptitude at most of what he's doing keeps working against him.
  • Big Brother Instinct:
    • While Harry is absolutely freaked out by Dumbledore’s reaction to drinking the potion, he doesn’t understand why he’s having such a strong reaction to it. He’s sobbing and pleading for someone to hurt him instead of “them”. Harry comes to find out that it’s actually this trope and he was living through Grindelwald hurting his brother and sister. Harry doesn’t even know he had a sister at this point.
    • When Harry begins to realise his feelings for Ginny, he initially tries to explain them away to himself as this.
  • Big "NO!": Harry throws an epic one when it's announced that Snape is the new Defence Against the Dark Arts teacher.
  • Big "SHUT UP!": At the beginning, Dumbledore asks Harry to give Kreacher an order, to test whether he has properly inherited the House-Elf as Sirius intended. Due to Kreacher's incessant whining, all Harry can think of is to tell him to shut up already. The order sticks.
  • Bilingual Bonus: "Sectumsempra" is composed of two elements of Latin origin. "Sectum" means "cut" (the root of English words like dissect). "Sempra" comes from "semper" (always, forever — the Italian word "sempre" might be familiar to English speakers for its use as a musical annotation meaning "constant"). Its literal meaning of "cut forever" therefore indicates that its effect is to produce a Wound That Will Not Heal. Snape, however, knows the counter-curse that allows the wounds to be healed and saves Draco Malfoy's life after Harry casts the spell on him. Because Snape invented it.
  • Bird-Poop Gag: After one Transfiguration class session, Harry tells Dean Thomas that he's chosen as a Gryffindor Quidditch Chaser, as a temporary replacement to Katie Bell, who's still in hospital at the time. Dean leaves in excitement, leaving Harry alone uncomfortably with Seamus Finnigan, whom Harry knows beforehand wouldn't like being glossed over as a potential Quidditch member (Harry notes internally that Dean had flown better than Seamus at tryouts). The moment only gets more awkward when one of the canaries Hermione conjures during said Transfiguration class session leaves a dropping on Seamus's head while the birds whizz over the boys.
  • Blatant Lies: Hagrid is especially disappointed that the Power Trio didn't go on to N.E.W.T. in Care of Magical Creatures; taking care of a dying Aragog at the same time doesn't help. Late in the first visit they pay him after they return to school, he mentions Wilhelmina Grubbly-Plank, who substituted for him during the previous two years and was much more professional than he ever was. Regardless, Harry, Ron, and Hermione hasten to invoke this trope when he mentions her, insisting that she was awful. The narration notes that by the time he sees them go back to the castle, "he look[s] quite cheerful."
  • Blood Magic:
    • As revealed by a memory given by Slughorn, one of the steps in creating a Horcrux is to commit murder.
    • Also, Dumbledore has to cut his own hand to enter a cave Voldemort has protected with Dark Magic. His main reaction is disappointment at Voldemort's lack of imagination. To exit the cave, Harry uses his own arm after receiving cuts on the rocks during the battle with the Inferi.
  • Booby Trap: Voldermort's locket Horcrux is placed behind a door that requires the one who enters it to spill their own blood, in the middle of an underground lake, in a basin filled with a potion that has to be drunk and affects the drinker in the same way that Dementors do. Oh, and the lake is filled with magically animated zombies who automatically attack anyone who breaches the water.
  • Brainless Beauty: Hermione and the Weasley women seem to have this opinion of Fleur. Harry has to remind them that she was competent enough to be a Triwizard champion.
  • Breather Episode: Coming after the Umbridge-a-riffic fifth book, most of this book is actually a rather nice year for Harry in comparison to the previous two. By the standards of the later books, it's a pretty easy-going tale with a lot of exposition and teen angst, not to mention many jokes. However, it also manages to be more suspenseful because of the lull in the action. What is Draco up to? And why is Voldemort laying low? This tension creates a perfect lead up to the last few chapters, where it goes into full-on Wham Episode mode. This leads straight into the final book, which is an absolute bloodbath.
  • Brick Joke:
    • "Roonil Wazlib", Ron's misspelled name due to his Spell-Checking Quill malfunctioning. After Snape demands to see Harry's Potions book due to suspicion that he's cheating, Harry borrows Ron's copy, only to discover to his horror the misspelled name inside. He tries unsuccessfully to pass it off as his nickname.
    • In the fifth book, there is a joke when the Weasley twins tell that the lowest O.W.L. grade is T (for Troll), and Harry isn't sure if they were joking or not (it would, after all, be their kind of humour). In the beginning of the present book, our main heroes receive their exam results and find Troll is a grade.
    • Cormac McLaggen explains his absence from Quidditch trials the year before by saying "Ate a pound of Doxy eggs for a bet." That would have been shortly after Fred and George Weasley got access to the wherewithal for that kind of bet.
  • The Bro Code: The source of about seventy per cent of Harry's angst this year. He realises he has feelings for Ginny but is convinced Ron would hate him for them (Ron's tendency towards My Sister Is Off-Limits towards everyone else doesn't help). Harry does such a good job convincing himself that you do not go around with your best mate's sister that he completely misses Ron's hints that he wants to see Harry and Ginny get together.
  • Brutal Honesty:
    • There is a short chain of this on the Hogwarts Express. After Harry says Dumbledore's Army won't meet this year, Luna says, "It was like having friends," which embarrasses Harry momentarily. Then, when Romilda enters Harry's compartment, he dismisses her by noting that Neville and Luna are his friends. Luna notes, "People expect you to have cooler friends than us," but Harry reinforces his sentiment by reminding her that she is a Crouching Moron, Hidden Badass — they'd gone to the Ministry with him the previous summer.
    • Later in the book, Luna observes that while Ron "says very funny things sometimes", he "can be a bit unkind". Harry feels uncomfortable upon realizing the accuracy of Luna's observation about his best friend.
  • Buy or Get Lost: This is the treatment that Hermione Granger gets when visiting Borgin and Burkes. However, given that her visit is a poorly disguised attempt to snoop as to what Draco Malfoy was doing there minutes before, it's hardly surprising.
  • Bus Crash: Igor Karkaroff, who's been MIA since the ending of Goblet of Fire, is killed off-screen by Death Eaters during the early chapters of this book. Justified, as hunting down the traitor who sold out so many of the Death Eaters was one of Voldemort's post-resurrection priorities. While Karkaroff's death was thus a Foregone Conclusion, Lupin's still surprised Karkaroff actually managed to evade Voldemort and stay alive for over a year.

  • Call-Back:
    • Just as Dumbledore had warned him at the end of the fourth book, Cornelius Fudge's Head-in-the-Sand Management and refusal to acknowledge that Voldemort had returned utterly destroyed his approval in the magical community, resulting in him being declared one of history's worst Minsters of Magic and thus Resigned in Disgrace.
    • Early in this book, Harry going to Diagon Alley with Hagrid and meeting Draco in Madam Malkin's … only Diagon Alley is no longer the wonderful wizard bazaar of the first book, but under war conditions.
    • Harry Potter tries to convince his two closest friends they can't come on his mission to stop the villains, only for one of them to remind Harry he tried to do the same thing five books before and they refused to let him face evil alone.
      "You said it once before," said Hermione quickly, "that there was time to turn back if we wanted to. We've had time, haven't we? We're with you whatever happens."
    • The most notable call-backs from this book go all the way back to Philosopher's Stoneeverything from Snape's first Potions class becomes relevant. Interestingly enough, Harry doesn't remember this information from that lecture but rather gets it from the Half-Blood Prince's marginalia subtly foreshadowing that the two are one and the same.
    • Harry once again finds himself in Dumbledore's office after a personal bombshell (this time, upon learning that Snape was the Death Eater who overheard the prophecy that led to Harry's parents' murders). This time around, he's able to keep his emotions much more under control, which takes some effort, given what he just learned.
  • Calling Your Attacks: Mostly played straight, as in the previous books, but averted when non-verbal spells become part of the Defence Against the Dark Arts curriculum. Special mentions to the spell Levicorpus, which apparently can only be cast non-verbally.
  • Can't Kill You, Still Need You:
    • During the Spinner's End argument, Snape cites this as part of why he didn't try to kill Harry once he arrived at Hogwarts. No matter how much he despises the Boy Who Lived (as James Potter's son and the bane of the Dark Lord), Harry is Dumbledore's favorite pupil. Snape knew better than to succumb to temptation, knowing killing Harry or even allowing him to be killed, would would mean the end of Dumbledore's "Get Out of Jail Free" Card (which was keeping Snape out of Azkaban). Snape has tried to get around this by lobbying for Harry's expulsion from the school. According to Snape, Voldemort doesn't hold any of this against his servant (between being able to use Harry's blood for his regeneration and Snape being able to preserve his deep cover status within Dumbledore's inner circle).
    • A retroactive variation after the revelations of Deathly Hallows with Snape and Wormtail. By this point in the narrative, Snape now knows it was really Wormtail, not Sirius, who betrayed Lily to Voldemort. However, Snape can't kill Wormtail in revenge without risking his deep cover — or rather, he probably could get away with it (as everybody in the Death Eaters despises Pettigrew), but it's not worth the risk (and, while not stated, it's likely Dumbledore ordered Snape to leave it be for now). What Snape can do in the interim, however, is make Pettigrew's life a living hell by forcing him to do degrading, menial tasks like cleaning his home and fetching drinks.
  • Captain Obvious:
    • Harry saying "Ghosts are transparent." Though Snape somewhat baited him into saying it by asking him what distinguishes them from Inferi (Zombies), yet Snape still mockingly says "Yes, it is easy to see that nearly six years of magical education have not been wasted on you, Potter."
    • The source of "You can't break an Unbreakable Vow." Harry snarks that he'd worked that much out for himself, and asks Ron what happens if you DO break it. "You die."
  • The Cassandra: When Harry insists that Malfoy and Snape are up to something, everyone — including McGonagall, Hagrid, Ron, and Hermione — quickly dismisses his claims, because every year Harry accuses Malfoy and Snape and every year he's been wrong. He proves to be right this time, although the seventh book reveals the situation to be more complicated than he guessed.
  • Cassandra Truth: Harry, dear, when you accuse someone of something it helps to have actual evidence backing it up. Somewhat subverted at the end, which reveals that Dumbledore was fully aware of Draco and what he was trying to do, if not exactly how, but it suited his plans to let Draco come after him, to protect him from Voldemort's wrath.
  • Cerebus Syndrome: In-Universe, Weasley's Wizard Wheezes went through a very rapid case of this trope. Fred and George created a "Shield Hat" as a gag — invite a friend to test a jinx on you, and laugh as the built-in Protego makes it bounce back on them. It turns into their best-selling item when the Ministry places a bulk order because some of them can't even cast a decent Shield Charm for themselves. Shield Hats become whole Shield Charm wardrobes become an entire Defence Against the Dark Arts line.
  • Cheaters Never Prosper: Three examples. One inversion, one subversion, one zig-zag.
    • The first is when Hermione uses a Confundus Charm on Cormac to make him miss his last block, ensuring Ron gets the position of Gryffindor Quidditch Keeper.
    • The second is when Harry puts Felix Felicis in Ron's drink, which is forbidden; however, it turns out he didn't actually put it in. Ron only thought it did, and it gave him the confidence boost he needed to win. While the plan worked, Ron mocks Hermione's earlier attempts to stop Harry from putting the potion in his drink and then makes out with Lavender, hurting her badly.
    • Hermione thinks Harry is cheating by using the Half-Blood Prince's notes in his old book since they're not Harry's notes and Harry didn't put the work in himself (and indeed, when bereft of the book or when it has no useful advice for the topic at hand, Harry's skills plummet precipitously). Harry and Ron claim they don't think it's cheating … but the fact they take pains to keep the book hidden means they know not everyone would agree with their reasoning, and they believe there's at least a fairly good chance Harry would get in trouble if it was known where his sudden Potions expertise comes from.
  • Chekhov's Armory: Half the stuff in Weasleys' Wizard Wheezes comes back in some way, either in this book or the next. Love Potions end up leading to Ron getting poisoned, and Peruvian Instant Blackness Powder has a major payoff in the Battle of the Astronomy Tower. Decoy Detonators come back relatively early in the next book, and some of these joke products are included in the Trio's gear so that they can use them to make clean getaways in the next book.
  • Chekhov's Gun: The series has its own page.
  • Chekhov's Gunman: Montague, a Slytherin from the last book who was only mentioned because Fred and George stuffed him in a disappearing closet, unintentionally giving Malfoy a plan to smuggle Death Eaters into Hogwarts.
  • Chick Magnet: Harry himself, to his bemusement. Now that Harry has been vindicated and everyone can see the scars Umbridge made him carve into his own hand, he suddenly has a small mob of fangirls. Having gone through another growth spurt over the summer doesn't hurt either.
  • Chocolate of Romance: Romilda Vane attempts to give Love Potion-infused chocolates to Harry. He puts them in his trunk, forgets about them until Ron ends up eating them, and he promptly falls in love with her.
  • Chore Character Exploration: Harry and Ron have an important conversation about Snape while peeling sprouts at The Burrow during the Christmas break.
  • Chores Without Powers: After Harry uses the Sectumsempra curse on Malfoy and ends up hospitalizing him, he is punished with being sent to the school's archive where he has to copy out the records of crimes and punishments from years ago without using magic.
  • The Chosen One: People start calling Harry this after Lord Voldemort's return is made public, and it's true, even if it was Voldemort who did the choosing. Harry even says "I am the chosen one" as he finally talks Slughorn into coughing up that memory.
  • Chuunibyou: The titular Prince came up with his identity in his teenage years as a way to get back at his Muggle father (hence half-blood) by using his witch mother's last name. He was known to run around with a gang of people who would later become the first Death Eaters and came up with some very nasty spells. He's better known as Severus Snape.
  • Cliffhanger: After Dumbledore's funeral, Harry declares that even if Hogwarts reopens, he won't go back. He's going back to the Dursleys' one last time before starting his mission to find the rest of Voldemort's Horcuxes. Ron and Hermione tell him they'll join him.
  • Cloak of Defense: One of the products the Weasley twins sell through their company is a Shield Cloak. As the name implies, it is a cloak enchanted with a Shield Charm that makes the wearer immune to weak-to-moderate-strength jinxes and hexes. That product line was originally imagined as a prank (dare your friends to jinx you and have a laugh when it backfires), but as it was released in the middle of a war, it wound up being far more popular as body armour.
  • Comically Missing the Point: When Dumbledore says that the best that can be said about the Dursleys' treatment of Harry is that he at least escaped "the appalling damage you have inflicted on that unfortunate boy sitting between you," Vernon and Petunia reflexively look at Dudley, as if expecting to see some other boy sitting there, since Dumbledore can't possibly be suggesting they've been anything other than sterling parents to him.
    • Dudley himself looks severely confused, as if trying to recall a single moment in his life when his parents have ever treated him badly.
  • The Complainer Is Always Wrong: From the events at Knockturn Alley onward, Harry is convinced that Draco Malfoy has become a Death Eater. Ron and Hermione are sceptical initially, then get more and more annoyed as the story goes on at Harry's conviction of it, not helped that all the teachers and Dumbledore are dismissive of his theory, which fuels Ron and Hermione's annoyance at Harry for not letting it go. But averted when it turns out Harry was right all along. Dumbledore and teachers affiliated with the Order of the Phoenix knew and had evidence to boot, but they didn't think it was really Harry's business going after a fellow student.
  • Completely Off-Topic Report: When new Quidditch commentator Zacharias Smith is unable to report on the Gryffindor–Hufflepuff match (having to play in it), Luna Lovegood volunteers to replace him. During the match, she talks about things like interesting clouds and whether Zacharias suffers from something called "Loser's Lurgy", but never about the action or the score of the game.
  • Compliment Backfire: Ron praises Luna for her performance as a commentator in the Quidditch match mentioned above. Ron is sincere, but Luna isn't so sure since everybody else tells her she did poorly.
  • Confidence Building Scheme: Harry fakes using his bottle of Felix Felicis on Ron before a Quidditch match. Ron has severe confidence issues in his ability to be a Keeper, despite backstopping Gryffindor to a Quidditch Cup win the previous year. With a little unwitting help from Hermione, who thinks Harry didn't fake the Felix Felicis use, not to mention some strange coincidences before the match, Ron eventually also buys in, believing Harry has given him the luck he so desperately needs, and this placebo enables him to keep Slytherin from scoring any goals at all, with Gryffindor winning 250–0. After the match, Harry reveals to Ron that he did it all with no help from the Felix Felicis because he hadn't actually drunk it. While Ron ends up out of the next game, he comes back for the final match of the season, and although he allows several goals to Ravenclaw, Gryffindor are comfortably ahead when Ginny Weasley catches the Snitch to win the match 450–140.
  • Continuity Nod:
    • When Harry offers Ron a drink spiked with absolutely nothing, but he wants Ron to think Harry spiked it with Felix Felicis, he says "Coffee? Tea? Pumpkin juice?" Exactly the same thing Umbridge had said to him the previous book when she was trying to get Harry to drink Veritaserum.
    • At the beginning of the book, Dumbledore tells Harry that before he was forced to resign, Fudge asked him to tell Harry that he would appreciate his support for the Ministry. Harry is flabbergasted that Fudge would think that he would support the Ministry of Magic after all the aggravations they imposed on him the year before, particularly Umbridge. Dumbledore, to his credit, told Fudge that there was no chance of him getting Harry's support.
  • Contrived Coincidence: If it is indeed chance and not one of Dumbledore's Gambit Roulettes, Harry happening to find the Half-Blood Prince's old potions book,note  which won him Felix Felicis and saved Ron from dying, would qualify. In addition, both of Draco Malfoy's assassination attempts end up nearly killing the wrong person due to contrived coincidences (although it is highly unlikely they would have reached their intended target in any case).
  • Cool and Unusual Punishment:
    • Fred and George have an unusual punishment for a Gnome which invades their garden: petrifying it and using it as the angel on the Christmas tree. They consider a similar punishment for their mother in the following book: at their wedding, telling everyone they can wear what they like, and putting a full Body-Bind Curse on her until it's over.
    • The cruel punishment Snape inflicts on Harry for using the Sectumsempra curse on Malfoy: making Harry copy out the crimes and punishments from years ago, which are mostly related to his father, to "add interest to the task."
  • Curb-Stomp Battle:
    • All the Quidditch matches involving Gryffindor have large margins of victory. They beat Slytherin 250–0, lose to Hufflepuff 320–60, and beat Ravenclaw 450–140.
    • More seriously, besides Snape's bout with Lockhart in Chamber of Secrets, Harry versus Snape is quite possibly the single most one-sided duel in the series. The fact that Snape is using Legilimency to see what spells Harry is going to cast before he casts them just makes it even more pathetic. Made worse still in that Snape kept telling Harry to clear his mind if he wanted any chance on beating him; i.e., attempting to teach him a lesson while kicking his arse.
  • Dangerous Forbidden Technique: The creation of a Horcrux is so forbidden that there's virtually no information on how to do it besides 'kill somebody in cold blood'. Hermione searches the immense Hogwarts library, and finds only a single mention of them, which gives no information other than that there's something out there with this name, and it's really bad (implied to be a Moral Event Horizon,invoked or nearly so).
  • Darker and Edgier: Half-Blood Prince isn't as emotionally charged as Order of the Phoenix, but it more than makes up for this by being set against the backdrop of a truly dire period for Wizards and Muggles alike. Atrocities happen at such a high frequency that their coverage is almost passive in tone, thereby implying that this state of terror is the new norm now that Voldemort and his followers are once again at large. That's not even mentioning the death of Dumbledore towards the end of the book.
  • Dark Is Evil: Snape, the new Defence Against the Dark Arts teacher, imparts his personality onto the classroom and adorns the walls with plenty of pictures showing the various horrid things that happen to anyone who runs afoul of the terror of the Dark Arts.
  • Dead Animal Warning: Two cases, one shown and one implied, both in Pensieve Flashbacks:
  • Dead Man Writing: The mysterious R.A.B. writes a letter to Voldemort which begins with R.A.B. musing that he's probably been killed by the time the Dark Lord has read the letter. In a twist, Voldemort never reads the letter since Harry finds it before the Dark Lord can.
  • Dedication: Rowling said that this book and her youngest daughter, Mackenzie, "were racing each other into the world", so she issued this dedication:
    To Mackenzie,
    My beautiful daughter,
    I dedicate
    Her ink-and-paper twin
  • Despair Speech: Slughorn gives one of these when he agrees to give Harry his memory about Tom Riddle.
  • Destination Defenestration: In the Prime Minister's flashback to his introduction to Fudge, the latter notes that the former's immediate predecessor attempted this on him, having "thought [he] was a hoax planted by the Opposition." (It should have been Margaret Thatcher if the books matched real life perfectly — this story begins in summer 1996, when John Major was PM — but Fudge refers to the character as a male.)
  • Did I Just Say That Out Loud?: Harry has several foot-in-mouth moments in his sixth year.
    • During his first D.A.D.A. lesson under Snape's condescending tutelage. He blurted this gem of a zinger out of frustration, which got him both the approval of several of his mates and detention with Snape.
    Snape: Do you remember me telling you we are practicing nonverbal spells, Potter?
    Harry: Yes.
    Snape: "Yes, sir."
    Harry: There's no need to call me 'sir', Professor.
    • Looking at past Dumbledore's "flamboyantly cut suit of plum velvet", Harry snarks at how nice it looks. Lucky for Harry, present-day Dumbledore has a good-hearted chuckle at the jape.
    • With the pressure on to find a date for Slughorn's party before falling victim to an admirer's love potion, Harry surprised himself by asking Luna Lovegood. He scrambled to clarify that it would be as friends, and managed to keep his hopes that she'd refuse to himself.
  • Disappointed in You: When Harry disappoints Dumbledore by not making much of an effort to get a memory from Slughorn, he would have preferred him to yell; "this cold disappointment was worse than anything."
  • Disproportionate Retribution:
    • Hermione's SNEAK jinx in the previous book takes on a whole new level of menace when, months after being jinxed, Marietta still has the scars. By Word of God,invoked they will never come off.
    • In response to Fred's taunts about Lavender, Ron throws a knife at him. Luckily, Fred has quick reflexes and a good grasp of Transfiguration skills and instantly turns it into a paper aeroplane.
  • Does This Remind You of Anything?
    • The circumstances of Voldemort's birth. Merope basically drugged Tom.
    • Take away the fantasy elements and you will find that Draco Malfoy basically joined a terrorist cult, went through several assassination attempts, which all failed and nearly killed others, and in the climax, he had basically started a school shooting.
    • The plot of Harry obtaining Slughorn's memory is basically seduction. In the film, Harry even calls it "let [Slughorn] collect [him]".
  • Double Standard: Abuse, Female on Male: To say the least of the infamous bird attack scene. Many Ron the Death Eaterinvoked fanfics will have Ron attack Hermione in a fit of jealousy. Hermione's attack on Ron in canon is mostly swept under the rug.note  The film at least softens this, so that the birds don't hurt Ron as in the books.
  • Double Standard Rape: Female on Male:
    • The love potions. They're basically the wizarding world equivalent of date rape drugs. However, using them is portrayed as sweet and innocent because it's the girls using them on the boys. Just imagine the uproar of the Moral Guardians if any of the boys were shown using them on the girls.
    • Deconstructed and subverted with Merope's rape of Voldemort's father, which is portrayed as a very bad thing. The reason it's played for laughs with Ron is that Harry kept anything untoward from happening. And it's possible the Double Standard exists in the HP universe, and Merope was put in deliberately, to highlight it. Moreover, Harry certainly doesn't consider love potions "sweet and innocent", no matter who uses them — in fact, he actually compares them to Dark Magic at one point. (As they can be used to make one act against one's usual being, Harry probably has a point, especially as he felt the Imperius Curse two years before.)
  • Drunken Song: When Hagrid and Horace get drunk at Aragog's funeral, they sing a song called "Odo the Hero".
  • Due to the Dead: Most of the wizarding community attends the funeral at the end of the book.

  • Ear Ache: Filch, upon spotting Malfoy being out in the Hogwarts corridor in the nighttime without an invitation to Slughorn's party, drags him by the ear to meet Slughorn. To Filch's disappointment, Slughorn lets Malfoy stay without applying any disciplinary actions on the latter, but Snape soon calls him away for other reasons.
  • Easily Forgiven:
    • Averted with Harry's relationship with the Ministry of Magic. While Rufus Scrimgeour (sort of) tries to patch things up, Fudge's smear campaign, the way Umbridge terrorized the school, the new Minister's continuance of policies favoured by Fudge and Barty Crouch, Sr., and the Ministry's many morally questionable actions of the past few years leave the schism between Harry and Ministry wide open for the remainder of the series. Scrimgeour's mere mention that Umbridge is still at the Ministry is enough to enrage Harry.
    • Justified and deconstructed when Snape notes that while Voldemort was not happy that his Death Eaters had abandoned him (and, as we saw in Goblet of Fire, was intent on exacting thirteen years of penance from them), circumstances forced him to be pragmatic. After all, if he hadn't forgiven those who lost faith, Voldemort would have been left with only a handful of lieutenants to support him in the Second Wizarding War.
    • Played with in an odd way concerning Percy not making peace with his family after he was proven wrong. As Hermione explains, "Dumbledore says people find it far easier to forgive others for being wrong than being right." Of course, it's also Subverted when Percy reluctantly shows up for Christmas dinner and learns that, apart from his mum, nobody else is in a forgiving mood.
  • Eloquent in My Native Tongue: Although the Gaunts can speak English, their preferred language is clearly Parseltongue, and they flip back to it whenever possible. It shows: when speaking in English, the male Gaunts sound crude and uneducated, but when in Parseltongue, their vocabulary actually somewhat reflects the high-born lineage to which the Gaunts aspire.
  • Enlightened Self-Interest: Practised by Professor Slughorn. Being a Nice Guy from the otherwise unsavoury and self-interested Slytherin House, he'll often help people he thinks would have potential to become great (like Harry) so that he will gain some benefit some way or another later. This backfired with Tom "Lord Voldemort" Riddle, to whom he provided information on unspeakable Dark Magic, which he regards as My Greatest Failure.
  • Entertainingly Wrong:
    • The Weasley kids know that Mrs. Weasley disapproves of Fleur and Bill's engagement. They also know that Mrs. Weasley has been inviting Tonks over more frequently than usual. They come to the conclusion that Mrs. Weasley is trying to get Bill to fall for Tonks and marry her instead of Fleur. The truth is Mrs. Weasley has been trying to cheer up Tonks and help her with her relationship with Lupin, who has started pushing her away due to his hangups about being a werewolf. She does still disapprove of Bill and Fleur's relationship, though she comes to accept it at the end of the book.
    • Speaking of Tonks … after Harry encounters Tonks inside Hogwarts, he speculates to Ron and Hermione that Tonks might have been in love with Sirius, the reasons being that: (A) Tonks was nearly in tears after Harry mentioned Sirius's name, and (B) her Patronus resembles a four-legged entity nowadays. Near the end of the year, Tonks confesses her love for everyone within earshot (including Harry) to hear, prompting Harry to realise that he was right about Tonks being in love; he was mistaken only about with whom she's in love.
  • Et Tu, Brute?: When Dumbledore sees Snape rearing to kill him, Dumbledore can do little but beg Snape not to carry through with the act, at least from Harry's point of view. In the next book, it's revealed that Dumbledore had asked for Snape's word that he would kill him should said situation arise. He was actually pleading for Snape to keep his word and kill him to spare Malfoy from having to do it.
  • Even Evil Has Standards:
    • Even most books of Dark spells are reluctant to elaborate on the nature or creation of Horcruxes. This is subverted in the next book, when it turns out that some books do cover it. Dumbledore pulled them from the shelves after Voldemort came to power; Hermione only found them by Summoning them from his office.
    • In one of the first chapters, Narcissa goes to see Snape about Draco's predicament because he's one of the few people she can trust. Narcissa tells Bellatrix in no uncertain terms that if Snape says no, she's going to Dumbledore next. Despite Bellatrix's fantastical devotion to Voldemort and intense distrust of Snape, she doesn't rat Narcissa out to the former because she'd be betraying her sister. She even begrudgingly does the unbreakable oath between Narcissa and Snape.
    • Malfoy's ultimate plan is to allow the Death Eaters to infiltrate Hogwarts, but he's shocked and horrified to learn that Fenrir Greyback is among them. When Dumbledore points this out, Draco even seems ashamed of the fact.
  • Everyone Can See It: Ron and Hermione.
  • Everyone Has Standards:
    • While he loves to network and has contacts at the Ministry practically coming out his ears, even Slughorn has no love for Dolores Umbridge and outright calls her an "idiotic woman" whom he "never liked."
    • Played for black comedy when Dumbledore deduces Voldemort's method for accessing the Horcrux cave. From Harry's POV, Dumbledore is disappointed and even a little disgusted at such crudity (and how it's beneath the usual standards Dumbledore's come to expect from him).
  • Evil Is Cool: Used In-Universe with Snape, the new Dark Arts teacher. Harry, upon hearing him talk about the Dark Arts, thinks, "It was surely one thing to respect the Dark Arts as a dangerous enemy, another to speak of them with a loving caress in his voice?"
  • Evil Is Not a Toy: Draco is proud to be working for Voldemort … at first, anyway.
    • An unintentional example as Harry didn't know precisely what he was messing with, but using an unknown curse he finds in the Half-Blood Prince's old copy of Advanced Potion-Making with only the description "for enemies" to guide him leaves him shocked and appalled when it carves up Draco Malfoy's chest like turducken.
  • Evil Is Petty: Voldemort apparently put a curse on the Defence Against the Dark Arts position because Dumbledore wouldn't give him the job when he attempted to reapply. In this instance, it's not too surprising considering it prevented Voldemort from acquiring relics of the founders he could use as potential Horcruxes.
  • Exact Words:
    • After seeing Ron throw a knife at Fred, Molly warns Ron not to let her see him throwing knives at anyone again. Ron promises he won't but adds under his breath "let you see me."
    • In the scene where Snape swears the Unbreakable Vow, he says "I have fooled one of the greatest wizards of our time." and "Only a fool would deny Dumbledore is a great wizard." He does not say that Dumbledore is the great wizard he has fooled.
    • Harry and his friends spend time wondering who this Half-Blood Prince is. They think that he's a member of royalty, however, Lupin disabuses them, telling there are no wizards among princes. It turns out to be Severus Snape, as he is a child of witch Eileen Prince and Muggle Tobias Snape, therefore he is literally Half-Blood Prince on his mother's side of the line.
    • During the first Voldemort Profiling session, Harry understandably gets a little miffed when Dumbledore says the point of these lessons is to give Harry crucial information. Harry rightly reminds the Headmaster that he said at the end of the last book that he was going to tell him everything. Dumbledore placidly counters he did tell Harry everything — or rather, everything he knew for certain. The lessons, on the other hand, are now venturing away from a factual foundation and into theoretical guesswork.
  • Fake Memories:
    • Horace has (badly) covered up his own memories of giving the young Voldemort information about dark magic.
    • Voldemort gave Morfin and Hokey false memories of killing some of his own victims.
  • Fantastic Racism: The series has its own page.
  • Five-Second Foreshadowing: Right before entering the Fake Memories Dumbledore received from Slughorn, Harry notices that they are noticeably different from normal memories, as if they had congealed instead of being gas-like.
  • Flashback B-Plot: The book alternates between Harry's sixth year at Hogwarts and Voldemort's origins through Pensieve Flashbacks, though this could be considered more of a Frame Story depending on how you look at it.
  • Foreshadowing:
    • Hagrid mentions overhearing Dumbledore and Snape getting into an argument regarding a task Dumbledore entrusted Snape with. The next book reveals that the 'task' was in fact Snape's 'betrayal' and murder of Dumbledore, although it's more complex, being more comparable to Assisted Suicide as Dumbledore was dying anyway from the curse on Marvolo's ring.
    • When Harry catches a whiff of a love potion (which smells different to everyone "according to what attracts us"), he notes that it is a bit familiar, and he has smelled it around the Burrow. Shortly afterward, he notices that it's Ginny's perfume. Later, he begins to develop serious feelings for her.
    • At one point Harry, Ron, and Hermione pass a small girl carrying a set of scales examining a portrait of trolls in tutus, apparently scaring her into dropping them. Observant readers might remember that said portrait was first mentioned in the previous book as the portrait right outside of the Room of Requirement. Said girl was either Crabbe or Goyle under the effects of Polyjuice Potion keeping a lookout for Malfoy, who was inside the Room of Requirement.
    • During the argument in Spinner's End, Bellatrix claims that Voldemort, at some point, entrusted her with his most precious something, but doesn't elaborate. It won't be clear until the next book what she's talking about: the Hufflepuff Cup-turned-Horcrux in the Lestranges' Gringotts vault.
    • In the Christmas chapter: "She [Molly Weasley] gave Lupin an annoyed look, as though it was all his fault she was getting Fleur for a daughter-in-law instead of Tonks." She's annoyed with him refusing to admit his feelings for Tonks based on his age or his lycanthropy.
    • Dumbledore reveals that the position of Defence Against the Dark Arts teacher was cursed by Voldemort after he was turned down for it, meaning nobody could hold it for more than one school year. Although the book does not expressly bring it up, it does beg the question of why Snape was given the post this year, even taking into account the fact that Dumbledore wanted Slughorn back at Hogwarts. It's because Dumbledore knew Snape would no longer be at the school by the end of the year anyway.
    • Horace Slughorn says he had a House-Elf test every one of his remaining bottles of mead for poison. In the next book, Harry learns that Voldemort once used Kreacher to test the potion defence for the Horcrux locket in the cave. Hopefully, Slughorn would not have left a poisoned House-Elf to die like Voldemort did to Kreacher.
    • Snape was able to reverse the Sectumsempra curse, invented by the Half-Blood Prince, forced onto Malfoy by Harry. It turned out that Snape was the Half-Blood Prince, thus allowing him to reverse his invented spells and curses easily.
    • Upon meeting Petunia, Dumbledore mentions that they have corresponded. Harry, of course, thinks he's reminding her of the Howler he sent her in the previous book, but in the next book, Harry learns that, as a child, Petunia wrote to Dumbledore and begged him to let her attend Hogwarts like Lily. He wrote her back, kindly refusing her request.
    • During their first Voldemort profiling session, Dumbledore gives Harry permission to share this information with Ron and Hermione. He tells a surprised Harry that both his friends have proven themselves trustworthy with such sensitive information. Dumbledore knows he'll be dead by year's end and the odds of locating all the remaining Horcruxes in time aren't good. It'll be up to Harry to pick up the hunt — and he knows Ron and Hermione will insist on being part of it. It's better than the entire Trio be up to speed now and ready to hit the ground running once Dumbledore's gone.
      • While he gives Harry permission to brief Ron and Hermione on the profiling sessions, Dumbledore also cautions Harry to have them keep such sensitive information to themselves. He doesn't want word getting around about how much he knows or suspects about Voldemort's past and secrets. Specifically, Dumbledore doesn't want Voldemort to realize his greatest enemies knows all about his Horcruxes. Granted, it's all but inevitable that Voldemort will eventually figure it out — but in the interim, Dumbledore's trying to preserve their secret advantage as long as possible in the hopes they can get to all the remaining Horcruxes in time.
    • During thier first meeting at the Wool's Orphanage, Dumbledore proves he himself is a wizard as well as Tom by setting his cupboard on fire, Tom then asks with greed "Where can I get one of them" pointing at Dumbledore's wand, wanting one for himself. Voldemort goes after Dumbledore's wand specifically after hearing it is actually the elder wand, the most powerful wand ever made, in the hopes that he could finally kill Harry with it and become the ultimate wizard with its great power at his command in the final book
  • For Want of a Nail:
    • If Marvolo and Morfin Gaunt hadn't attacked Bob Ogden, they never would have been arrested by the Ministry, which led to Merope being free from their abuse and deciding to drug Tom Riddle Sr. with a Love Potion that eventually resulted in Voldemort's existence.
    • And Bob Ogden only visited the Gaunt household in the first place because Morfin hexed a Muggle, leading to the aforementioned scenarios.
    • Having learned at the end of the previous book that Trelawney's prophecy about him could also have referred to Neville, Harry wonders what would have happened if Voldemort had decided to target Neville instead:
      Had Voldemort chosen Neville, it would be Neville sitting opposite Harry bearing the lightning-shaped scar and the weight of the prophecy... or would it? Would Neville's mother have died to save him, as Lily had died for Harry? Surely she would... but what if she had been unable to stand between her son and Voldemort? Would there, then, have been no "Chosen One" at all? An empty seat where Neville now sat and a scarless Harry who would have been kissed goodbye by his own mother, not Ron's?
  • Free-Sample Plot Coupon: After Dumbledore tells Harry about the importance of destroying Horcruxes, the latter is concerned about the potential difficulty of finding said artifacts in the first place, but then the Headmaster reveals that he had already destroyed Marvolo's ring and that Harry himself had destroyed Riddle's diary in Chamber of Secrets, so there are only four more Horcruxes to worry about. Or rather, five.
  • Friend Versus Lover: Hermione versus Lavender and Ginny versus Ron.
  • Gang of Bullies: It turns out that Tom Riddle was already recruiting followers while he was still a student. According to Dumbledore, members of this gang ended up becoming the first Death Eaters.
  • Geas: As previously established in Prisoner of Azkaban, the Fidelius Charm prevents anyone other than the Secret Keeper from divulging the enchanted secret. This of course means that despite being undercover inside the Order of the Phoenix, Snape cannot reveal their HQ's location to Voldemort (due to Dumbledore employing the Charm to protect the Order). Voldemort accepts there's no getting around it for the time being (and Snape at least has been able to compensate by passing on information and intel not protected by the Charm).
  • Gender Bender: This is the first time in the series it is stated that Polyjuice Potion can give a drinker the identity of someone of the opposite sex. Harry deduces that Draco stole some of Slughorn's Polyjuice Potion and had Crabbe and Goyle turn into little girls to keep watch for him outside the Room of Hidden Things while he worked on his plan.
  • A Glass in the Hand: Dean Thomas after seeing Harry and Ginny kiss. Romilda Vane seems to be even angrier, as she is described as looking like she's about to throw something.
  • Get into Jail Free: Dumbledore invokes this about Lucius Malfoy, noting that given Voldemort's fury with him for both getting Tom Riddle's diary destroyed and so spectacularly failing to get a hold of the prophecy, Lucius might actually be happy to be in Azkaban and thus safely out of reach of Voldemort's wrath for the time being.
  • "Get Out of Jail Free" Card: During the argument in Spinner's End, Snape openly admits this is why he stayed at his post at Hogwarts after Voldemort first fell. He believed the Dark Lord was dead and gone, the Death Eaters were being rounded up, and Dumbledore's protection and influence were literally all that was keeping him out of Azkaban. While Snape isn't proud he lost faith in the Dark Lord, he's ultimately not sorry he used the Card rather than do time in prison (like Bellatrix and others did). According to Snape, Voldemort doesn't begrudge him for this either (since accepting Dumbledore's protection allowed Snape to remain a deep cover agent inside Hogwarts and gain the Headmaster's full trust in the years since).
  • Good Is Not Dumb:
    • Zig-zagged with Dumbledore and the young Tom Riddle. While he chose to give the boy a second chance and didn't share the details of the orphanage visit with his colleagues, Albus also didn't take it for granted that Riddle was trustworthy. As Dumbledore tells Harry, he'd gone into that first meeting intending to keep an eye on the young orphan regardless, but became even more determined after such a disturbing encounter. However, it ultimately didn't do much good, since Riddle knew he'd overplayed his hand and revealed too much of his true self to Dumbledore. Riddle wisely kept his distance over the next seven years and had enough sense never to try and charm Dumbledore as he did with the rest of the professors.
    • In chapter two, Snape also cites Dumbledore's ongoing refusal to let Snape teach DADA as such. Dumbledore may have bought Snape's reformation act, but he also wasn't just going to put Snape blindly back in temptation's path and risk a potential relapse to the Dark Side. The real motive is actually preventing Snape from falling victim to Voldemort's curse on the DADA position. Dumbledore only allows him to assume the post here as part of the Long Game to ensure Snape's deep cover role is preserved after he 'murders' the Headmaster at the end of this book.
  • Gotta Kill Them All: Dumbledore reveals to Harry the reason for his disappearances throughout the school year is in part that he's been searching and destroying something very dear to Voldemort. He eventually recruits Harry in his effort and the book ends with Harry resolute to complete the mission in the next book. The plan is to destroy the four remaining Horcruxes, objects which contain fragments of Voldemort's soul, to render Voldemort mortal.
  • Grail in the Garbage: At first, Harry fears Voldemort's Horcruxes might be these until Dumbledore reminds him of Voldemort's egocentric need to stamp himself all over pieces of magical history.
    • Rowena Ravenclaw's lost diadem—one of Voldemort's Horcruxes—is (unknowingly) found in the Room of Requirement.
  • Great Big Library of Everything: Averted and Lampshaded after Hermione starts looking for information about Horcruxes.
    Meanwhile, the Hogwarts library had failed Hermione for the first time in living memory. She was so shocked, she even forgot that she was annoyed at Harry for his trick with the bezoar.
  • Greater-Scope Villain: While Voldemort's presence is felt throughout the book, as it deals with the Wizarding World's reaction to his return to power and an exploration of his past, he never actually appears in person in this installment, only in Pensive memories.
  • Green-Eyed Epiphany: During his summer at the Burrow, Harry gets used to hanging out with Ginny as much as Ron and Hermione, to the point he forgets they don't usually do this at school. He doesn't realise the extent of his feelings until he sees her kissing Dean, and the sudden rush of jealousy alarms even him.

  • Handing Over the Crap Sack: Harry receives a present from the unfriendly House-Elf Kreacher, which contains a large number of maggots.
  • Have a Gay Old Time: For whatever reason, Rowling chose to use the archaic meaning of a word that used to be a synonym for "exclaim."
    "Snape!" Slughorn ejaculated...
  • Heart Is an Awesome Power: Love is precisely what saved Harry as a baby: Lily's sacrificial love is the source of his protection against Voldemort. It comes up again in Deathly Hallows, when Harry's self-sacrifice protects everyone.
  • Heroes Want Redheads: Harry finally realises that Fiery Redhead Ginny Weasley is his true love.
  • Hiding Behind the Language Barrier: Morfin and, to a lesser extent, Marvolo do this around Ogden, speaking Parseltongue.
  • Hidden Depths: As if Dumbledore didn't already have enough prodigious skill, the supercentenarian can also do a perfect breaststroke.
  • Hillbilly Horrors: The Gaunts are easily recognizable as a British variation.
  • Hoist by His Own Petard: Fudge spent the last book desperately seeking to make liars out of Harry, Dumbledore, and their supporters out of fear of the truth and to protect his own legacy as the Minister for Magic. This book reveals that after he was forced to admit publicly that Harry and Dumbledore were telling the truth about Voldemort's return all along, all the negative publicity Fudge had generated for his targets had immediately backlashed against him. With the entire wizarding community turning against him in outrage over covering up the fact that a child-murdering terrorist has returned and doing nothing, he is kicked out of office and goes down in history as a lying Dirty Coward, the most reviled Minister for Magic in modern times, and the second-worst Minister for Magic in the history of Wizarding Britain.
  • Hope Spot:
    • Initially, Scrimgeour succeeding Fudge as Minister for Magic. As the former Head of the Auror Office, he's a veteran of fighting Dark wizards and seems the perfect choice for a wartime leader, even to Dumbledore. Then he continues and resurrects the policies of Fudge and Barty Crouch, Sr. It ends up making things worse.
    • Dumbledore's portrait appears in the Headmaster's office at the end, giving hope that he may still be around in some form.
  • Honour Before Reason: Towards the end of the book, Harry discovers that Snape was the one who relayed part of Trelawney's prophecy to Voldemort that ended up causing his parents' deaths. He confronts Dumbledore about this and demands to know why, despite knowing this, he still trusts Snape so much. Though Dumbledore is clearly torn about whether to tell Harry, he ultimately tells Harry that he cannot tell him, which leaves Harry furious at him and only deepens Harry's hatred of Snape. It is not until the next year that Harry learns why Dumbledore refused to tell him: because Snape didn't want Harry or anyone else to know that Snape defected to the side of good because of his love for Harry's mother.
  • Hospitality for Heroes: Fred and George allow Harry to take as many products from their store as he wants because he gave them their start-up money. Ron, on the other hand, only gets a small discount, to his chagrin.
  • House Squatting: The wizard Horace Slughorn is fond of vacationing by squatting in Muggles' houses while they're on holiday. With a Perception Filter and a few charms on the neighbours, the biggest hassle is moving in the piano.
  • Hypocritical Humour:
    • Molly's Parental Hypocrisy regarding Bill and Fleur's wedding.
    • Hermione is indignant when she thinks Harry spiked Ron's drink with Felix Felicis before the Quidditch game, even though she put a Confundus Charm on Ron's main rival for Gryffindor Keeper so he would win in the trials. Harry even points this out.
  • If It's You, It's Okay: Implied to be the case of Ron's opinion of Harry in regards to his relationship with Ginny.
  • If I Wanted You Dead...: Inverted at the end of the book — as Dumbledore points out, if Draco really wanted to kill him, he would have just done it instead of engaging in Evil Gloating. Draco has at this point successfully Disarmed Dumbledore, leaving him completely incapable of defending himself, so the only thing stopping him from finishing the job is that, deep down, he just isn't capable of that kind of cold-blooded murder.
  • If You're So Evil, Eat This Kitten!: Bellatrix Lestrange doesn't trust Snape yet and in order to prove his loyalty to her, Snape vows to help Malfoy complete his mission. Finding out what this mission is and whether Snape is serious about keeping his vow becomes Harry's main mission in this book even though Dumbledore begs him to focus on other things.
  • Imperial Stormtrooper Marksmanship Academy: The Death Eaters have this against the DA at the end of the book. Justified via Felix Felicis.
  • Impossible Task: Draco's mission from Voldemort to kill Dumbledore. His chances of succeeding are almost nil. Voldemort himself doesn't expect him to succeed and intends to use it as an excuse to punish the Malfoys for failing him. It is even suggested that he is hoping Dumbledore will kill Draco in self-defence.
  • Inbred and Evil: The description makes it pretty clear the Gaunts are heavily inbred, thanks to extreme pride in their pureblood Wizard lineage and direct link to Salazar Slytherin (Dumbledore outright tells Harry that Kissing Cousins was one of their habits). And both Marvolo and Morfin are absolutely despicable people; Merope only looks decent by comparison, and she raped Riddle, which was clearly evil.
  • Incapable of Disobeying: Dumbledore uses House-Elves' inability to disobey their masters' orders to confirm quickly whether Harry has inherited Sirius Black's property following his death in the previous book. Dumbledore summons the Black family's House-Elf, Kreacher, and has Harry issue him an order. When Kreacher gets on his nerves, Harry orders him to shut up and, instantly, the Elf can't say a single word, proving Harry has become his master.
  • I Need to Go Iron My Dog: Dumbledore uses this method to leave Harry alone with Professor Slughorn so as to persuade him to return to Hogwarts — specifically, by asking to use the loo. The fact he returns afterwards with a magazine he wants to keep "for the knitting patterns" just highlights his eccentricity and hilarious kookiness. It was still a nice bit of obfuscation.
  • Insult Backfire:
    Scrimgeour: Dumbledore's man through and through, aren't you, Potter?
    Harry: Yeah, I am. Glad we straightened that out.
  • Intergenerational Friendship: Dumbledore's dynamic with Harry throughout the novel mostly dispenses with the Headmaster–Student dynamic. He comes to meet Harry personally at Privet Drive, gives him private lessons, openly asks his opinions about his appointees (such as Slughorn) and even confesses to Harry that one of his teachers, namely Trelawney, is indeed a hack whom Dumbledore hired because parents demanded Hogwarts teach Divination, and for her own good (to protect her from Voldemort finding her one true prophecy, which concerns him). Before Book 6, Dumbledore at least made a show of upholding teacher–student divides as an academic norm.
  • Intro-Only Point of View: The first two chapters. The first chapter is from the Muggle Prime Minister's viewpoint as the new and former Ministers for Magic explain the dire situation to him. The second is from that of Narcissa Malfoy and Bellatrix Lestrange, showing Snape making an Unbreakable Vow.
  • Invisible President: The Muggle Prime Minister is not named during the first chapter. Going by the book's timeline, it should be John Major. (Although the Potter universe's timeline might diverge somewhat from ours, since the previous Prime Minister, Margaret Thatcher in our world, is said to be a man.)
  • Ironic Echo: Multiple times in the fifth book, Hermione discourages Ron from doing things she considers unbecoming of an authority figure by reminding him that he's a prefect. This time, Harry makes fun of her for secretly interfering with Cormac's Quidditch performance when Ron's trying out for the same position as Cormac by reminding her that she is a prefect. Not surprisingly, she's not amused.
    Hermione: Oh, be quiet.
  • Irony: Previously, Potions was Harry's least favourite subject because Snape was such a jerk to him. In his first class this year he finds a secondhand book labelled as "property of the Half-Blood Prince". Inside the book are copious hints that help Harry in his Potions classes, making it his best subject. At one point, Harry even thinks to himself that the Prince has been a much better teacher than Snape. Snape also comments that he struggled to teach Harry anything in five years of Potions classes. Then comes the big reveal that Snape is the Half-Blood Prince. A slightly tragic twist to the irony here is the implication that Snape would have found Harry to be a highly competent and willing student if only he had been able to see past his loathing of Harry's father.
  • It's Not You, It's My Enemies: Harry has to tell Ginny this. She's surprisingly understanding and accepting, though it's strongly hinted she believes it to be strictly temporary. She's right.
  • I Warned You: After Harry and Dumbledore were proven right about Voldemort's return, Percy (who sided with the Ministry and participated in their cover-up) continues to avoid his family — not out of exasperation with them, but out of shame that they were right and he was wrong.
  • Jealous Romantic Witness: Harry has a Green-Eyed Epiphany when he sees Ginny kissing Dean. Meanwhile, Ron and Hermione's Belligerent Sexual Tension goes on as Ron starts dating the very openly affectionate Lavender Brown and Hermione has to watch it, while Hermione performs Operation: Jealousy and starts dating Cormac McLaggen so that Ron would see that.
  • Jerkass Has a Point: The reason why Fred and George will let Harry take free stuff and not Ron: Harry gave them the startup capital for their business. Ron was expecting nepotism would benefit him and didn't financially support the twins, not that he could have.
  • Just Between You and Me: Dumbledore encourages Draco to go on about his plans to buy time. Since Draco is reluctant to kill him, he complies.
  • The Ketchup Test: Dumbledore performs this to ensure that the Death Eaters have not, in fact, found Horace. In an interesting twist, he is tasting blood, albeit that of a dragon instead of a human.
  • Kick the Dog: Greyback attacked the five-year-old son of Ms. Montgomery when she refused to cooperate with the Death Eaters. The boy later died from his injuries.
  • Kill It with Fire: Dumbledore specifically states that fire is the most effective against Inferi. The Ring of Fire he uses in the cave is even in the British cover pictured above.
  • Kissing Discretion Shot: A literary version as Rowling brushes off their new relationship from the reader. We've sat through Harry's journey to find love and Ginny's quiet pining after Harry for years — now that they are together, it's pretty much none of our business what they are doing in the quiet corners of Hogwarts.

  • Laborious Laces: The trio mention that if they were befriending the childish giant Grawp, they would still be teaching him to tie his shoelaces.
  • Lampshade Hanging: Nearly Headless Nick acknowledges the Running Gag of Ron making a tactless remark to him at the start-of-term feast in most of the books during this year's.
    Nick: Once again, you show all the sensitivity of a blunt axe.
  • Last-Minute Hookup: Not only do Harry and Ginny become a couple close to the end after Harry spends a good portion of the book crushing on her, but they actually manage to break up before the end of the book! Doubly so because the novel glosses over the few weeks Harry grows closer to Ginny, in the span of a chapter going from crush to couple. The film rectifies this a bit by expanding Ginny's screen time and giving her more scenes alone with Harry.
  • Laugh of Love: Lavender is particularly prone to giggling when she's around Ron, until they break up.
  • Let's See YOU Do Better!: This is Hermione's reaction to Ron's evaluation of her brief stop in Borgin and Burkes immediately after Draco goes in to see Borgin about the Vanishing Cabinets.
    Ron: Ah well. Worth a try, but you were a bit obvious...
    Hermione: Well, next time you can show me how it's done, Master of Mystery!
  • Lighter and Softer: Though still pretty dark (see Darker and Edgier above for more), this novel isn't nearly as intense as the previous novel or the next one. A large portion of the book is focused on dating and there's a lot of jokes.
  • Lineage Comes from the Father: A young Tom Riddle is (mistakenly) convinced this is the case, and that his father was the one who was magical, not his mother, though this is not due to any sort of sexism on his part, but rather his conviction that his mother could never have died the way she did if she had been magical.
  • Locked Out of the Loop: Dumbledore speculates this happened to Lucius Malfoy with Tom Riddle's diary, intuiting that Voldemort never bothered to tell Lucius the diary was actually a Horcrux. Voldemort had wanted the diary to be smuggled into Hogwarts to reopen the Chamber of Secrets, but the diary was destroyed before he could give the go-ahead. Instead of zealously guarding the diary as Voldemort thought he would, Lucius instead planted the diary on Ginny in the hopes of discrediting her father and getting Dumbledore kicked out of Hogwarts when the Basilisk started attacking Muggle-born students, as well as getting rid of a highly incriminating Dark artifact in a single stroke. Dumbledore notes that Voldemort's fury when he learned Lucius had acted without his consent and gotten one of his Horcruxes destroyed in the process was spectacular.
  • Locked Room Mystery: Amelia Bones's body is found by the Muggle police in a room that was locked from the inside. The wizard authorities know it was the Death Eaters — likely Voldemort himself.
  • Locked Up and Left Behind: Harry attempts to spy on Malfoy by putting on his Inivisibility Cloak, and sneaking into Malfoy's compartment on the Hogwarts Express. When Malfoy discovers Harry, he paralyses him with a spell, stamps on his nose, and leaves him there, covered by his own Invisibility Cloak, not caring at all what happens to Harry, as the train starts to return to London. Harry is discovered by Tonks soon afterwards.
  • Loophole Abuse:
    • Defied when Harry orders Kreacher to spy on Draco. Mindful of what happened in Book Five, Harry makes sure to close every potential loophole that would allow Kreacher to tip off Draco. Kreacher uses this later when Harry asks him what Malfoy has been doing and he just tells him about the mundane everyday stuff like eating meals and going to class. Luckily for Harry, Dobby is happy to tell him that Malfoy has also been sneaking off to the Room of Requirement.
    • In the Horcrux cave, Dumbledore notes that the boat they must take to the island with the Horcrux has been enchanted so that only one wizard can use it at a time. Underage wizards, however, don't count, which allows Harry to go with Dumbledore.
  • Losing the Team Spirit: Dumbledore's death has this effect on the entire school.
  • Love Epiphany: Harry's "chest monster", as he calls it, when he finally realizes his feelings for Ginny.
  • Love Hungry: Merope Gaunt for Tom Riddle Sr. See below entry for Love Potion.
  • Love Potion:
    • Part of the merchandise at Fred and George's joke shop. One of Harry's fangirls attempts to trick him into eating a box of chocolates spiked with them. Hilarity Ensues when Ron eats them instead.
    • It seems to be why Lord Voldemort exists in the first place, as his mother had used a Love Potion on a snobbish Muggle, Tom Riddle, Sr.
  • Lowered Recruiting Standards:
    • Harry and Ron, among others, get into NEWT Potions with E (Exceeds Expectations) O.W.L.s because Slughorn has lower standards than Snape, who would only take O (Outstanding) students.
    • It's implied that Snape allowed everyone with an E into NEWT Defence Against the Dark Arts despite his O-only standard as a Potions teacher. Since even Hermione, who got O's in everything else, only got an E, it's likely he wouldn't have had very many students otherwise. (It's entirely possible that Harry would have been his only DADA student, which would have gone over as well as last year's Occlumency lessons.)
    • Voldemort is also said to have done this. He'd have loved nothing more than to severely punish the Death Eaters that abandoned his cause after he ostensibly died fifteen years before, but is forced to keep them around due to lack of minions.
  • Madness Mantra: "He'll kill me for losing his ring." This was apparently all Morfin said when he was arrested, as he was horrified that Marvolo's ring was missing (the young Voldemort had stolen it as a trophy). According to Dumbledore, he said nothing else for the rest of his life.
  • Magically-Binding Contract: Introduces the Unbreakable Vow, which is Exactly What It Says on the Tin.
  • Magic Feather: Harry pretends to give Ron a luck potion to give him confidence. A double subversion as the potion would have worked if added for real, but its use in contests is of course banned.
  • Make Way for the New Villains: Interestingly, Snape says that he and several other Death Eaters suspected this was how Harry vanquished Voldemort as a baby — that he was such a powerful Dark Wizard even as an infant that Voldemort himself was no match for him. Snape goes on to claim that the Death Eaters who believed this were waiting for signs that Harry would be the new Dark Lord for them to rally around, and Snape himself was bitterly disappointed this turned out not to be the case, though considering who he was talking to, this may not be exactly true.
  • Manipulative Bastard: Teenaged Tom Riddle, as Harry notes while watching Slughorn's memory of Riddle asking for information about Horcruxes.
    It was very well done, thought Harry, the hesitancy, the casual tone, the careful flattery, none of it overdone. He, Harry, had had too much experience of trying to wheedle information out of reluctant people not to recognise a master at work.
  • Maybe Magic, Maybe Mundane: Harry wonders if Slughorn's office is so big because it was built that way or magic has made it Bigger on the Inside.
  • Meaningful Echo: Near the beginning, Dumbledore tells Harry they shouldn't find trouble. "You are with me." This later becomes "I am not worried, Harry. I am with you." Former Trope Namer.
  • Meaningful Funeral: Dumbledore's funeral is also the end of Harry's, Ron's, and Hermione's days as schoolchildren, and indeed as children; from here on out it's the real world for the Power Trio.
  • Meaningless Villain Victory: Snape's personal opinion of Bellatrix's time in Azkaban. Yes, she remained loyal to the Dark Lord and did not renounce him or throw him under the bus. It was a most admirable gesture...which also stupidly took herself off the board for 16 years, leaving her unable to aid the cause or search for Voldemort.
  • Mentor Occupational Hazard: Dumbledore. Afterwards, Harry reflects on how he's been losing protector figures since he was little more than a year old, and is now basically on his own (save for Ron and Hermione).
  • Meta Twist:
    • Horace is set up as the new DADA teacher of the book. Harry is as surprised as the reader to learn he's actually replacing Snape, who's moved positions after wanting the job for years.
    • Two previous Red Herring characters are behind the main plot, and this time Harry is on to them from the beginning. So is Dumbledore, but he's keeping quiet about it in case Voldemort catches on through Legilimency.
  • Militaries Are Useless: The Aurors may qualify, depending on whether you consider them an army. Herein, they fail to kill or capture any Death Eater, imprison innocent people (where they are captured and Brainwashed by said Death Eaters) instead, and do nothing to prevent the Ministry from being infiltrated by Voldemort. This is a notable shift from the treatment they got two books ago, which suggested they were a Badass Army of dark wizard hunters. Here we're presented a more mature view: even the Aurors are only as effective as the horribly corrupt and inept Ministry allows them to be, and the ones who aren't Properly Paranoid like Mad-Eye Moody was have blind spots that dark wizards can easily exploit.
  • Mind Rape: Dumbledore goes through this while drinking the potion guarding Voldemort's locket.
  • Mood Whiplash:
    • Early in the book, Harry confides in Ron and Hermione about the prophecy made about how "neither of us can live while the other survives". There's a shocked moment … then the prank telescope (one of Fred and George's devices) Hermione had idly picked up explodes in a cloud of black smoke as a tiny fist punches her in the face, giving her a brilliant black eye.
    • The final act of the book is a mega whiplash for the book as a whole. Though the book is on the darker end of the spectrum compared to the first few books, it was considerably more lighthearted than its predecessor and successor, with plenty of humour, romance subplots, and even a likeable Potions professor for once. From the time Harry and Dumbledore leave Hogwarts to locate the locket, however, the book gets smacked by this hard. First there's the duo's journey through the cave which includes a blood ritual and a disturbingly in-depth description of the mental torture Dumbledore experiences due to the potion containing the locket, and Harry's forced acquiescence in making it worse so they can get the locket. Oh, and not to mention a tense encounter with a swarm of Inferi (basically zombies). Then they get back and we see invokedSnape kill Dumbledore, Malfoy's crossing of the Moral Event Horizon, a massive brawl through the hallways of Hogwarts between the Death Eaters and the Order of the Phoenix, Dumbledore's funeral, and the Power Trio swearing off school altogether to hunt down the remaining Horcruxes. Whew...
  • Moral Event Horizon: In-Universe, Harry reveals that he believed that Cornelius Fudge crossed it by setting Umbridge on the school in Order of the Phoenix. He is outraged when Dumbledore tells him that Fudge wanted Harry to serve as a pep coach for the wizardry public, giving Rufus Scrimgeour the idea, and Harry cannot believe that Fudge would think Harry would forget all the things Dolores Umbridge did.
  • Moral Myopia: Molly Weasley expresses her disapproval toward Bill and Fleur's engagement:
    Mrs. Weasley: I know why it's happened, of course. It's all this uncertainty with You-Know-Who coming back, people think they might be dead tomorrow, so they're rushing all sorts of decisions they'd normally take time over. It was the same last time he was powerful, people eloping left, right, and centre —
    Ginny: [Slyly] — Including you and Dad.
    Mrs. Weasley: Yes, well, your father and I were made for each other, what was the point in waiting?
  • Motive Misidentification: Narcissa believes Draco's impossible task from Voldemort is really about the Dark Lord punishing Lucius for the fiasco at the Ministry in the previous book. That's certainly true, but it's also additional punishment for Lucius unwittingly getting Voldemort's first Horcrux destroyed back in Chamber of Secrets (and Narcissa wouldn't have this context and thus couldn't know).
  • My Greatest Failure:
    • Slughorn revealing information about Horcruxes to a young Tom Riddle.
    • We hear Dumbledore going through his during his Mind Rape.
    • Also Snape's feelings about giving Voldemort the prophecy and dooming James and Lily, though Harry believes this to be a lie at the time.
  • My Sister Is Off-Limits: Harry struggles with this. In the end, Ron is fine with him dating Ginny, though. After all, they are best friends! Indeed, it's implied that Harry's the only person Ron wants Ginny dating.

  • Never My Fault:
    • During the confrontation at Spinner's End, Snape sarcastically asks Bellatrix if the Dark Lord still considers her a confidante after the fiasco in the Department of Mysteries. Bellatrix responds that it was all Lucius's fault. However, it was her getting trigger-happy which derailed the entire operation, got all the operatives except herself thrown into Azkaban, and exposed Voldemort's return to the Wizarding World at large. Even better, Narcissa gets pissed that she's trying to shift the blame to her husband and calls her sister out on it.
    • Continuing on from the previous novel, some of Harry's now-worse mutual animosity with Snape is being fueled partly by Sirius's death. Harry's still projecting much of his own guilt on Snape for goading Sirius or siding with Umbridge (never mind that Snape had to stay silent or risk tipping off Umbridge).
  • Nice Job Breaking It, Hero: Between 1938 and 1945, Dumbledore chose not to tell the other Hogwarts teachers about the young Tom Riddle's love of cruelty and bullying. Had he not given Riddle a chance to turn over a new leaf, Wizarding history would probably have taken a different turn. For instance, that knowledge would've been handy for Professor Dippet when young Tom was more than willing to throw kind, unassuming Hagrid under the bus for the Basilisk attack that killed Moaning Myrtle. It's especially notable when considering that two of the traits Dumbledore noticed in Tom as a child were a penchant for indirect violence toward classmates and haste in shifting blame away from himself.
  • Nice Job Fixing It, Villain:
    • The young Tom Riddle's excitement upon meeting Dumbledore and learning of his Wizarding heritage. In the thrill of that discovery, Riddle can't stop himself from dropping his public facade and ends up revealing too much of his true nature to Dumbledore. While Dumbledore obviously didn't know then that Riddle would become the most dangerous Dark Wizard of all time, the unintended confession did vindicate Mrs. Cole's suspicions about his darker nature. With this confession, Dumbledore instantly understood this young orphan was going to a potential problem at Hogwarts and vowed to keep an eye on him.
    • Lucius Malfoy pawning off Tom Riddle's diary on Ginny Weasley in a simultaneous attempt to discredit her father and get rid of an incriminating artefact ends up being this, as not only is the fragment of Voldemort's soul attached to the diary destroyed, but Dumbledore is clued into the fact that Voldemort created more than one Horcrux. Voldemort himself also bears a portion of the blame since given his innate paranoia and distrust in even his underlings, he never bothered to tell Lucius what the diary was; Dumbledore states that if Lucius had known he was being entrusted with a portion of his master's soul, he'd have treated the diary with a lot more reverence.
  • No Challenge Equals No Satisfaction: Voldemort's mother at first used a Love Potion to make Tom Riddle, Sr. fall in love with her. She then decided to stop giving Tom the potion perhaps because it didn't feel real (because it wasn't) and she hoped Tom would have come to genuinely love her while under the potion's effects. Unfortunately for her, he dumped her like a hot potato, abandoning her and her child.
  • No Matter How Much I Beg: Harry, Dumbledore, and the Horcrux-containing potion. Harry keeps his word, but only barely.
  • No Name Given: Two prominent Death Eaters at the end of the novel are unnamed but referred to constantly, the first one is only referred to as "The Brutal-Faced Death Eater", and later we see "The Big Blond Death Eater". Both are identified early in the next book, respectively as Corban Yaxley and Thorfinn Rowle.
  • Non-Indicative Name: In-universe example. Love Potions can't actually create love, only infatuation and powerful (and potentially dangerous) obsession.
  • Noodle Incident:
    • Just what the hell did young Tom Riddle do to those two Muggle children in the seaside cave? Nobody knows, but Mrs. Cole says they were never quite right afterwards. Whatever did happen down there made the place special enough for Voldemort that he hid a Horcrux there.
    • Dumbledore's potion-induced hallucination in the Cave, wherein he seems to be reliving a traumatic event from his past. What exactly he was seeing will be revealed in the next book.
  • No Ontological Inertia: Dumbledore's Body-Bind Spell. There are hints throughout the books that this is a common and expected phenomenon: magic dies along with the wizard who performed it.
  • Not a Date: Harry and Luna at Slughorn's party. He makes it clear that they're going as friends, which she is perfectly happy with. Peeves, of course, overhears them and zooms off cackling about how "Potty loves Loony."
  • Not an Act: When Bellatrix tells Snape she suspects that he's a Double Agent, Snape has a long speech where he patiently deconstructs her arguments. One of her complaints is that he should have killed Harry while he was at Hogwarts. While explaining why he didn't do that, Snape belittles Harry as a mediocre wizard who needs his friends' help to get anywhere. As we see in the last book, most of what he told Bellatrix was a lie and he was always against Voldemort, but his contempt for Harry was genuine, using very similar terms when speaking to Dumbledore about him.
  • Not Helping Your Case: Minister Scrimgeour, when trying to talk Harry into becoming the Ministry's poster boy, mentions that Umbridge is still working at the Ministry, and she actually said that Harry wanted to be an Auror, in an attempt to bribe him. Harry bristles and shows the Minister the "I must not tell lies" scar that he received from his various detentions with Umbridge.
  • Not Proven: According to Dumbledore, Riddle and the proto-Death Eaters' years at Hogwarts were marked by a number of nasty incidents (which of course culminated with the opening of the Chamber of Secrets and Myrtle's death). However, Riddle was charming and clever enough to ensure his gang was never caught in open wrongdoing and that there was never enough evidence to satisfactorily link them to said incidents.
    • Riddle also got away with his bullying at the Orphanage since, without knowing he was a young Wizard, Mrs. Cole and her staff couldn't prove it or figure out how he was doing these impossible acts of retribution and cruetly.
  • Not Using the "Z" Word: Inferi are basically magical zombies with a different name. (The original Voodoo Zombie kind, not the modern post-George A. Romero Flesh-Eating Zombie kind.)
  • Not What It Looks Like: In the evening Harry decides to see Slughorn to coax his Horcrux-related memory out of him, he (after taking his Felix Felicis and donning his Invisibility Cloak) leaves the boys' dormitory with Ron and Hermione in tow and encounters Lavender Brown in the Gryffindor common room. Unable to see Harry, Lavender believes Ron and Hermione to be alone in the boys' dormitory, prompting her to jump to her worst-case assumption, which results in her screaming at Ron before breaking up with him. This ends up working in Ron's favour (and, by extension, Hermione's as well), because Ron had been hoping for Lavender to break up with him for some time by that point already.
  • Objectshifting: Horace Slughorn transfigures himself into an armchair early to avoid detection while squatting in Muggle houses and hiding from the Death Eaters. He jokes that the stuffing comes naturally to him.
  • Oh, Crap!:
    • Harry when he realises what exactly the Sectumsempra spell does. It rips open huge, bloody wounds in the caster's target. The somewhat mangled Latin phrase roughly means "permanent cutting".
    • Dumbledore has one after Harry confronts him with the knowledge that Snape sold out Harry's parents. Harry sees the colour drain out of Dumbledore's face when it comes out.
  • One Last Field Trip: Invoked after Dumbledore's funeral. Harry has lost his mentor and broken up with his girlfriend. He is going to drop out of school to hunt down Voldemort's Horcruxes. He is glad that he has "one last golden afternoon" to spend with Ron and Hermione.
  • Only Sane Man: Harry sees himself as this when he's being trapped in the crossfire of Ron and Hermione's Operation: Jealousy, to the point that he thinks that both his friends are complete idiots.
  • Only Smart People May Pass: The protection around the Horcrux ensures that it's impossible for anyone (including Voldemort himself) to get at it without hideously torturing themself or someone else.
  • O.O.C. Is Serious Business:
    • One of the biggest clues that Malfoy is up to something is that he skips the Gryffindor-Slytherin Quidditch match. Remember that this is the same person who got the entire match rescheduled three years earlier just because of a scratch he got from a Hippogriff.
    • Also, after Malfoy has paralysed Harry in the train and stamped on his nose, he is not interested at all in what happens to Harry after that. He does not even attempt to steal Harry's extremely valuable Invisibility Cloak, which may well have been useful to Malfoy.
  • Operation: Jealousy: Hermione attempts to do this by asking Cormac McLaggen to Slughorn's party to make Ron jealous, only to fail spectacularly as she can't stand the guy's presence for more than a minute. Ron's relationship with Lavender has elements of this as well and is more successful. Stuck in the crossfire of crappy decisions, Harry spends most of the conflict facepalming at both sides.
  • Opponent Instruction: When Harry is fighting Snape near the end of the book, after blocking a verbally spoken spell from Harry, Snape says, "Blocked again, and again, and again, until you learn to keep your mouth shut and your mind closed, Potter!" This is referencing the lessons in non-verbal spellcasting from earlier in the book and the failed Occlumency lessons Harry had with Snape in the fifth book.
  • Origins Episode: Chamber of Secrets and Goblet of Fire previously gave us the broad strokes of Voldemort's backstory. Harry and Dumbledore's subplot builds on that groundwork and fully explores Tom Riddle's origins (and, in doing so, the origins of the Death Eaters).
  • Orphanage of Fear: Played with. The Muggle orphanage where Tom Riddle grew up is seen for the first time in one of Dumbledore's memories. While Harry thinks the place looks grim, the overworked staffers are clearly taking care of the kids as best as they can. The worst thing about the place is actually Riddle himself, an Enfant Terrible who uses his undeveloped magic to bully and traumatise his peers, with the staff never able to figure out how he does it.
  • Outside-Context Problem:
    • This is why Mrs. Cole and her staff couldn't definitively prove Tom Riddle was a bully to the other orphans. Riddle's acts of cruelty and retribution (like the hanging of Billy Stubbs' rabbit) could only be accomplished with magic. Without that context, of course, Cole only saw him as an ordinary young boy and thus couldn't figure out how Riddle was doing these impossible acts.
    • Dumbledore states this was part of how he realized Tom Riddle's Diary was a Horcrux back in Chamber of Secrets. Dumbledore was deeply troubled by Harry's description of the Riddle who'd come out of the Diary. Even with all his knowledge and experience, Dumbledore had never encountered or heard of a mere memory starting to act and think for itself (or draining life from a living person). No, Dumbledore was certain it was actually a fragment of Voldemort's soul.
  • Parental Hypocrisy: Molly Weasley thinks Bill and Fleur are rushing into their marriage because there's a war brewing. Ginny, despite not liking Fleur either, immediately points out that this is exactly what Molly and Arthur did. Then again, Molly and Arthur have seven kids, so clearly they're doing something right.
    Molly: Yes, well, your father and I were made for each other, what was the point in waiting?
  • Perpetual Poverty:
    • Finally averted by Fred and George Weasley, who take Harry's Triwizard winnings as seed money and build a very lucrative business in Diagon Alley. It's also shown that they dote on their mother and father with lavish gifts at holiday times.
    • Zig-zagged by Molly and Arthur. Arthur has just been promoted to now being in charge of detecting counterfeit magical artifacts and defensive charms that opportunists have been peddling, and it's implied to have come with a hefty pay raise (and an increased workload due to the war, he comes home late most evenings). Not to mention, when the series began, they were putting four to five children through school (five only in the second book). By this book, only Ron and Ginny were still going to school. However, despite this, their lifestyle never seems to grow any more lavish, outside of the gifts given by Fred and George.
  • Please Dump Me: Ron takes the coward's way out and just pretends to be asleep every time Lavender visits him in hospital (to Harry's exasperation, as she starts badgering him instead).
  • Plot-Triggering Book: A part of the story's plot is about Harry finding an old tattered potions textbook belonging to "The Half-Blood Prince" that is extensively graffitied with amended procedures and scribbled notes for potion formulas, which helps his performance in Potions class drastically. It also includes spells that said Prince created, but when Harry severely injures Draco using one of them, he quickly disposes of the book.
  • Pragmatic Villainy: Snape points out that Voldemort had to forgive all the Death Eaters who gave up his cause when they thought he was dead because, otherwise, he'd have hardly any followers left.
    • Snape also cites this as why he didn't initially return to Voldemort's side during Goblet when the Death Eaters were summouned to the Graveyard (and why Voldemort personally forgave him). With the Dark Mark having grown stronger all year, Snape correctly concluded Voldemort was about to return and had time to plan accordingly. By waiting several hours, Snape ensured he could 'return' to the Dark Lord on Dumbledore's orders and thereby preserve his role as a Death Eater spy inside Dumbledore's inner circle. While initially displeased with Snape's absence and apparent desertion, Voldemort accepts this explanation and agrees it was the correct strategic move.
  • Precision F-Strike: Morfin calls his sister Merope a slut for running away with Tom Riddle Senior.
  • The Profiler: The main plot of this book is Dumbledore and Harry constructing a profile of Voldemort's background, his motives, and his behaviour, so they can figure out how many Horcruxes Voldemort made, what they were, and where he would have kept them. Since the next book reveals Dumbledore knew he was dying by this point, he's also ensuring Harry has the knowledge and training to continue profiling Voldemort on his own.
  • Properly Paranoid:
    • Harry (finally) turns out to be right about Malfoy being a Death Eater and planning something.
    • Bellatrix makes it clear she doesn't trust Snape. And with good reason, as The Reveal at the end of the next book shows that Snape was a double agent loyal to Dumbledore all along.
  • Psychosomatic Superpower Outage:
    • Tonks loses control of her Metamorphmagus powers in her depression over being rejected. She regains control of her powers when the target of her love reciprocates at the end of the book.
    • As Dumbledore explains to Harry, Merope's magical powers were diminished when her father and brother had her under their thumb but flourished when she had free rein following the incarceration of said father and brother. They appear to have diminished again after Tom Riddle Sr. left her after she stopped dosing him with Love Potion, and this may have contributed to her Death by Childbirth.
  • Pyrrhic Victory: Continuing on from last book, Fudge's downfall and ouster from the Ministry. Yes, the biggest political obstacle to fighting Voldemort is finally gone, but the damage is done; the Death Eaters have had a full uninterrupted year to lay the groundwork for their campaign and the Ministry is not prepared for sustained warfare. Worse, Fudge's successor Rufus Scrimgeour immediately continues or resurrects policies favored by Fudge and the late Barty Crouch Sr. — policies which helped create the current mess.

  • Rash Promise: Ron says his twin brothers tried to get him to participate in an Unbreakable Vow years earlier when none of them really knew what they were getting into. Fortunately, their father arrived in time to prevent it, giving the twins the thrashing of their lives.
  • Rasputinian Death: Dumbledore. Let's see: He gets an arm nearly burned off from a curse — a curse that then slowly depletes his life force away. Later, he has to slice open his arm for a blood tribute. He drinks all that poison to retrieve the fake Horcrux. Then he gets a Killing Curse right in his chest and tumbles off the balcony of the tallest tower in Hogwarts. At least one of these was enough to kill him, though the Killing Curse just might have been fake.
  • "Ray of Hope" Ending: Dumbledore, the last great wizard that Voldemort feared, is now dead. Hogwarts is going to be taken over by Death Eaters, Severus Snape has pulled a full-blown Face–Heel Turn, Harry's and Dumbledore's quest to obtain Salazar Slytherin's locket was All for Nothing, and Voldemort is now beginning to enact his plan to take over all of wizarding Britain. However, Harry now knows that Voldemort can be defeated if all his Horcruxes are destroyed, and is willing to set out to find them all. Ron and Hermione both tell him that he won't be doing it alone since they're coming with him.
  • Reality Is Unrealistic: Some fans have made much of Harry being excluded from the reading of Sirius's will, even attributing sinister motives to Dumbledore in this regard. However, assuming Dumbledore is the executor, Harry learned of his inheritance the way most people do in Real Life; if you inherited something, you just get a notice from the executor saying what you've got, with no formal will reading involved.
  • "The Reason You Suck" Speech:
    • Played with, as it's not delivered by the Big Bad, but Snape does give Harry a rather good one when they are duelling at the end — and, in hindsight, it's very easy to interpret as Snape getting one last chance to say to Harry, 'No, seriously, get better at what I was trying to teach you or you will die.'
    • Harry also delivers one to Rufus Scrimgeour when the two first meet, understandably pissed that Scrimgeour is wasting his time with phony arrests, hasn't fired Dolores Umbridge, and wants to use Harry as a mascot after the Ministry's treatment of him the previous year.
    • Dumbledore also gives a small one to the Dursleys at the beginning of the book, calling them out on not bothering to treat Harry like a second son and instead treating him like a piece of trash, though he does remark that Harry turned out better than he could have under more loving circumstances because Dumbledore was able to see what happened to Dudley, who had been given everything he'd wanted.
  • Red Herring: Both Inverted and Hand Waved: the book starts out with Snape giving Bellatrix (and by extension the readers) a detailed accounting of himself during the previous books to make it plausible he could still be working for Voldemort despite the previous buildup of him as a bad-mannered but otherwise trustworthy good guy.
  • Refuge in Audacity: An In-Universe example: one Potions lesson has Slughorn presenting a mystery poison to the class and the students must concoct an antidote based on the contents of the potion. Harry, who has been receiving help from the Prince's annotations, realizes there's no real foolproof cheat around this (as Hermione also gleefully remarks on), so he grabs a bezoar, which can be used as an antidote for most basic poisons, from the cabinet and presents that as his antidote. When Professor Slughorn comes around, he laughs and rewards him "ten points … for sheer cheek." No one else is amused.
  • Replaced with Replica: Harry and Dumbledore retrieve a locket hidden by Lord Voldemort, which they suspect is one of his Horcruxes. After the climax of the novel, Harry finds a note within the locket, revealing that a person using the initials "R.A.B." had taken the real Horcrux and replaced it with the current locket, a fake. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows reveals that it was Regulus Arcturus Black, but he failed to destroy the locket Horcrux, meaning that Harry and company had to track the real one down.
  • Rescued from the Scrappy Heap: In-universe example. Fleur reinforcing her love for Bill after he gets mauled by Fenrir Greyback in human form and still desiring to marry him regardless forces Molly to admit that her future daughter-in-law is a far, far better person than she had given her credit for.
  • Resolved Noodle Incident: Back in Chamber of Secrets, Diary Riddle stated that Dumbledore had never seemed to like him as much as the other teachers had. This dislike had preceded the framing of Hagrid (which Dumbledore saw through, even if he couldn't prove it at the time). So, the implication was that Riddle did something during his years at Hogwarts to trigger Dumbledore's suspicions. The flashbacks finally reveals this incident was their first meeting at the Orphanage, wherein Dumbledore got a nice, good look at the real Tom Riddle.
  • The Reveal:
    • Snape was the Death Eater who told Voldemort about the prophecy, bumping Lily and James to the top of his hit list. Harry, naturally, learns this minutes before going after a Horcrux with Dumbledore. It takes everything he has not to start tearing the office apart like at the end of the last book.
    • The climax of the book ends with Harry learning the identity of the Half-Blood Prince: Severus Snape, Harry's least favourite teacher and the murderer of Harry's mentor.
  • Riches to Rags: As described by Dumbledore, the House of Gaunt was once a powerful and wealthy family and were the last living relatives of Salazar Slytherin, one of Hogwarts's co-founders. However, their penchant for grandeur, lack of financial sophistication, and the mental instability caused by inbreeding to retain their pure-blood status meant that the last generation lived in a shanty house in the woods with nothing but some old heirlooms their patriarch was too proud to sell.
  • Right for the Wrong Reasons: Hermione thinks the titular Prince was Eileen Prince, a student at Hogwarts, and posits that the title comes from her pride to be the child of her Prince parent. The Prince is actually Severus Snape, but Eileen was his Witch mother. This means Hermione was entirely correct about the Prince being proud of their parent of the same name, she just had the wrong person.
  • Role-Ending Misdemeanour: In-universe example. At the end of Book 4, Fudge was informed of the return of the most dangerous terrorist in Wizarding Britain. The Minister for Magic responded by not only covering it up but also wasting valuable time and resources persecuting and harassing the very people who tried to warn him. When Voldemort’s return is confirmed beyond any doubt, it ignites a scandal of epic proportions. For obvious reasons, Fudge loses all public and political support and is forced to resign in disgrace. He was trying to get Harry to help him stay in the office, but naturally, the boy wants nothing to do with Fudge.
  • Rule of Seven: Invoked and Lampshaded by Riddle in his and Slughorn's discussion of Horcruxes. He questions the value of having only one break in one's soul and asks, seemingly rhetorically, "Isn't seven the most powerfully magical number?", which naturally appals Slughorn. It also scares Harry, thinking this means Voldemort would have made seven Horcruxes, but Dumbledore corrects him that Voldemort wanted to split his soul into seven parts, necessitating six Horcruxes since his original body will continue to host the last part of his soul. This aspect gets a double subversion, as we learn late in Book Seven that Harry became Voldemort's accidental seventh Horcrux the night he killed James and Lily, later making Nagini the seventh.
  • Rule of Symbolism: Dumbledore explicitly cites this when he shares his theory that Voldemort was still one Horcrux short of his goal the night he murdered the Potters. From what they've uncovered, Voldemort's made Horcruxes using symbolic, significant deaths — and as the subject of the Prophecy, Harry met that criterion. By killing Harry for his final Horcrux, Voldemort would have been symbolically and literally ending the last danger against him and ensuring his own immortality and invincibility.
  • Running Gag: The running joke about each of the DADA teachers lasting only a year gets deconstructed as we learn Voldemort placed a curse on the position after Dumbledore wouldn't give him the job.
    • However, it gets played straight as Snape only lasts a year before fleeing Hogwarts after killing Dumbledore.
  • "Scooby-Doo" Hoax: A throwaway line says that Mundungus Fletcher was arrested for impersonating an Inferius while robbing someone.
  • Screw the Rules, I Have Connections!: Subverted. When everyone visits the Weasley twins' new joke shop, Ron expects that they'll let him have their products for free. Instead, they just offer a slight discount and make him put everything back when he tells them he still can't afford that.
  • Self-Guarding Phlebotinum: The cursed opal necklace that kills anyone who touches it. Bonus points for being a Chekhov's Gun from its brief mention in Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets.
  • Sequel Hook: Harry's decision at the end not to go back to Hogwarts in favour of focusing solely on destroying Voldemort signals a radical departure for the final instalment.
  • "Shaggy Dog" Story: Did you hear the one about how the Horcrux Harry and Dumbledore nearly killed themselves trying to retrieve from the cave turned out to be a fake, planted by someone else to buy the resistance some time for when Voldemort came back to get it?
  • Shipping Torpedo: A handful are especially prominent in this book, though play out in others as well:
    • Ron is not a fan of anyone dating his sister Ginny.
    • More amusingly, this is initially Mrs. Weasley's reaction to Bill and Fleur.
  • Ship Sinking: Though not officially torpedoed until Book 7, this book effectively sank the ship of Harry×Luna. However, it does still give the readers some…
  • Ship Tease: Harry and Luna get some moments, such as him telling her she's cool, refuting his thoughts about her from Book 5, and when he takes her to Slughorn's Christmas Ball. After he asks her to go with him, Peeves also becomes a Ship Tease and starts singing, "Potty loves Loony!"
    • Naturally, Ron and Hermione get plenty as well.
  • Shotgun Wedding: Merope was hoping to have one of these with Tom Riddle, Sr., or at least have him stay with her due to her pregnancy.
  • Shout-Out:
  • Shown Their Work: When it is revealed that the only side effect Fenrir's bite will have on Bill is a preference for very rare steaks, Fleur declares that it is lucky that he is marrying her because "ze British overcook their meat." There is a French term "bleu" which is decidedly rarer than the British/American "rare". Essentially, it is just seared. The surface is cooked, but the inside is not really cooked at all.
  • Sickeningly Sweethearts: Bill and Fleur (as far as Hermione and Ginny are concerned, dubbing the latter 'Phlegm'), Ron and Lavender (mainly the latter). Lavender even gets Ron a big gold necklace reading "My Sweetheart", to Ron's disgust and Harry's amusement.
  • Sins of Our Fathers: In addition to his usual vindictiveness toward Harry, Snape deliberately inflicts a lengthy detention punishment on Harry for his use of Sectumsempra, where Harry is forced to manually copy old school punishment archives that are chock-full of entries related to the Marauders, which causes Harry great discomfort to see his father's delinquency.
  • Sketchy Successor: Rufus Scrimgeour is superficially more proactive a Minister of Magic than Cornelius Fudge ever was. However, he combines Fudge's obsession with appearances and Barty Crouch, Sr.'s heavy-handedness, being the worst of both worlds. Not only is he still not doing enough to prevent Voldemort's rise to power, but he's also wasting the government's time and effort pretending that he is.
  • Skewed Priorities: Dumbledore has to chastise Harry gently for this. He needs him to recover a crucial memory from Professor Slughorn that could confirm some important things about Voldemort. But Harry gets distracted by Quidditch, his feelings for Ginny, and assorted other mundane stuff.
  • Smooch of Victory: Harry kisses Ginny after she wins Gryffindor the Quidditch Cup. (Also an Accidental Kiss.)
  • Some of My Best Friends Are X: Variant: the one invoking this isn't the one being accused of prejudice. When Slughorn talks about how surprised he was that Muggle-born Lily was so good at potions, Harry mentions that one of his best friends (Hermione) is Muggle-born and she's the best in their year. After Harry says he doesn't think it's strange that that happens, Slughorn plays the trope dead straight, denying any insinuations that he's prejudiced by rapidly pointing out that Lily was one of several favourite Muggle-born students he's had.
  • Soul Jar: Horcruxes are objects meant to hold a piece of someone's soul away from their body. The only way to rip out a part of one's soul is to commit murder in cold blood, so even creating a single Horcrux is a terrible thing. Voldemort made six of them, on purpose — implanting parts of his soul into his own diary, Gaunt's ring, Slytherin's locket, Hufflepuff's cup, Ravenclaw's diadem, and Nagini.
  • Spinning Out of Here: Apparition is triggered by spinning in place.
  • Stalker with a Crush: Romilda Vane for Harry Potter and Merope Gaunt for Tom Riddle, Sr. In the film, Cormac and Lavender are clearly shown to be this for Hermione and Ron respectively.
  • Stealth Pun: Which doubles as Foreshadowing: Sectumsempra could roughly be translated to 'Sever(us) forever'.
  • Stock Animal Name: Subverted, when Professor Trelawney shows her contempt for her fellow teacher of Divination, who is a centaur called Firenze; Professor Trelawney refers to him as "Dobbin".
  • Supernaturally Marked Grave: Dumbledore's grave, an enchanted tomb of marble.
  • Supernatural Sensitivity: In the cave scene, Dumbledore is shown to determine where the secret entrance is and the spells used on it without the use of any detection spells.
  • Tampering with Food and Drink: Ron accidentally eats love potion-spiked chocolates meant for Harry. Harry gets Slughorn to give him an antidote before things get out of control … and then he drinks poisoned wine meant for Dumbledore.
  • Technician vs. Performer: Harry and the Half-Blood Prince are the Performers, Hermione's the Technician — which is a problem for Hermione once Harry gets the Half-Blood Prince's book and goes shooting past her in terms of performance.
  • Telefrag: Not in the normal way, but this book confirms that one danger of Apparating is that if you don't have enough will to go through with the teleportation, or aren't properly prepared, there's a very good chance that part of your body will remain behind (though, thankfully, during all of the tutoring we see there are teachers on hand to reverse the process).
  • Thanatos Gambit:
    • Albus Dumbledore, though we don't learn it until the next book.
    • Also, apparently, R.A.B.
  • This Is Unforgivable!: Harry, when he discovers that Snape was (inadvertently) responsible for Voldemort targeting his parents. Dumbledore actually has to get legitimately angry before Harry calms down. Of course, Snape killing Dumbledore in front of him mere hours later does not improve Harry's opinion of him.
  • Tonight, Someone Dies: Book 6 was promoted by the information that one major character would die. Theories raged like wildfire for a year before its release.
  • Took a Level in Badass: After five books of mostly letting action come his way, relying too much on his friends, and showing a lack of interest in classes that leads to near-ineptitude in many skill sets necessary of a wizard, Harry takes a considerable leap forward in this book. He actively, against the wishes and advice of everyone around him, investigates his suspicion of Malfoy being a Death Eater, ultimately proving to be right. He challenges Dumbledore in ways that don't come off angsty. He even improves considerably in fields such as Potions (admittedly partly due to having cheats fed to him by his book, though the point is also made how much better Harry is now that he wants to do well thanks to not having Snape looming over him) and with Charms, learning a handful of (admittedly dark) spells with no assistance, which is impressive when one recalls how, back in Goblet of Fire, Harry struggled with a simple Summoning spell that all adult witches and wizards know.
  • Too Dumb to Live:
    • Defied by Snape when Narcissa emplores him to intercede with Voldemort and convince him to remove Draco from his assignment. Snape outright tells her that Voldemort won't be persuaded and he's not stupid enough to attempt it.
    • Slughorn's reaction upon learning Dolores Umbridge was actually stupid enough to stride into the Forbidden Forrest and call a horde of angry Centaurs "filthy half-breeds". Slughorn even outright calls her an "idiotic woman."
  • Toxic Friend Influence: Book 6 represents one of the first glimpses readers get at the way Death Eaters interact with each other, which largely consists of the most fanatical, bloodthirsty, and psychopathic among them attempting to cajole and bully others into their mold. Draco Malfoy's hardly a decent person, but he's nowhere near the level of veteran Death Eaters, something they're constantly on his case about.
  • Trapped with the Therapy Session: Harry is eating dinner with Molly Weasley in the kitchen when Molly's husband Arthur comes home. Unfortunately, Arthur insists on following Ministry-approved procedure to make sure neither he nor Molly are Death Eaters (he himself knows it's stupid but has to set an example). When it turns out Arthur's password is "what Molly likes him to call her when they're alone together", an extremely embarrassed Harry starts slurping up his soup and making as much noise with the spoon as he can, but he still overhears her answer ("Mollywobbles").

  • Ugly Guy, Hot Wife:
    • After Bill is mauled by the Death Eater-aligned werewolf Fenrir Greyback, Fleur still loves him. This is what finally convinces Ginny and Molly Weasley to accept her.
    • Inverted with Merope Gaunt and Tom Riddle.
    • Downplayed with Lupin and Tonks. Tonks is described as "OK-looking" and Lupin's attractiveness isn't mentioned, but she is around twenty-three years old while Lupin is thirty-six and prematurely aged.
  • The Unchosen One: Dumbledore makes a point of making Harry realize that, regardless of the prophecy, what Harry does is his own decision and no one else's.
    "But, sir," said Harry, making valiant efforts not to sound argumentative, "it all comes down to the same thing, doesn't it? I've got to try and kill him, or —"
    "Got to?" said Dumbledore. "Of course, you've got to! But not because of the prophecy! Because you, yourself, will never rest until you've tried! We both know it! Imagine, please, just for a moment, that you had never heard that prophecy! How would you feel about Voldemort now? Think!"
    Harry watched Dumbledore striding up and down in front of him, and he thought. He thought of his mother, his father, and Sirius. He thought of Cedric Diggory. He thought of all the terrible deeds he knew Lord Voldemort had done. A flame seemed to leap inside his chest, searing his throat.
    "I'd want him finished," Harry said quietly. "And I'd want to do it."
  • Understatement: The opening words of the chapter after Ron accidentally consumes a love potion which makes him briefly obsessed with Romilda Vane, before drinking poisoned mead that is only a few seconds away from killing him stone dead, are Fred observing "So, all in all, not one of Ron's better birthdays?"
  • Unequal Rites: Neville's grandmother wants him to take Transfiguration at NEWT level instead of Charms despite his better grade in the latter. McGonagall reveals that she only thinks Charms is a "soft option" because she failed her Charms O.W.L.
  • Unusual Euphemism: "Chest monster" is certainly an original term, though anyone who's been an adolescent male probably has no trouble sympathising.
  • Unwitting Instigator of Doom: Morfin Gaunt hexing Tom Riddle, Sr. This simple act sets off a chain of events that not only ends up destroying both of their families but also gives rise to the most dangerous Dark Wizard of all time.
  • Uriah Gambit: Voldemort doesn't actually think Draco will successfully kill Dumbledore, so the whole thing is an exercise in futility to punish Lucius for his failure in the previous book. Evil Cannot Comprehend Good, so it is likely that Voldemort assumes Dumbledore will kill Draco in self-defence. Furthermore, when Draco fixes the Vanishing Cabinet, Voldemort dispatches a B-team to accompany him. The incompetent Carrows, the supposedly inferior werewolf Fenrir Greyback, and accidental Team Killer Thorfinn Rowle certainly won't win awards for Death Eater of the Month compared to, say, Bellatrix Lestrange or Antonin Dolohov, who Voldemort could have chosen to send instead. He still wants Dumbledore dead, which is why he orders Snape to finish the job, but he certainly does not believe that Draco Malfoy has even the slightest chance to kill the only one he ever feared.
  • We Have Reserves: A variation of this trope is invoked by Dumbledore in regards to Voldemort's Horcruxes; while Voldemort wanted his old diary to be smuggled back into Hogwarts to reopen the Chamber of Secrets, Dumbledore points out Voldemort was treating a precious fragment of his soul rather blasély and concludes Voldemort had more than one Horcrux so that one being destroyed (as happened to the diary) wouldn't be a complete loss for him.
  • Wham Episode:
    • Dumbledore's death.
    • The Reveal that Voldemort made Horcruxes.
  • Wham Line:
    • Trelawny recalling the prophecy she told to Dumbledore.
      Trelawney: ...But then we were rudely interrupted by Severus Snape!
    • The revelation of who the Half-Blood Prince really is.
      Snape: You dare use my own spells against me, Potter? It was I who invented them — I, the Half-Blood Prince!
    • Shortly before the above, Snape delivers a whopper that sends the entire fandom into turmoil: "AVADA KEDAVRA!"
  • What Kind of Lame Power Is Heart, Anyway?
    "So, when the Prophecy says, that I'll have 'power the Dark Lord knows not' it just means love?" asked Harry, feeling a little let down.
    "Yes, just love," said Dumbledore.
  • What the Hell, Hero?
    • Though morally questionable, Fudge seriously expected to get Harry's support to help him stay in office despite having run a smear campaign against Harry, Dumbledore, and their allies. Dumbledore, of course, flat out refuses to have anything to do with Fudge and won't let him get anywhere near Harry, but when the boy eventually finds out, he's rightly incredulous that Fudge was stupid enough to think that he could try to get Harry's help after everything he and his flunkies did.
    • Harry calls out Scrimgeour on resurrecting Barty Crouch, Sr.'s policy of imprisoning suspected Death Eaters with no trial.
    • Harry using an unfamiliar spell, the effects of which were unknown, on Draco, resulting in Draco being severely injured. Fortunately, Snape knew how to heal him, being that he invented the spell, but Harry feels appropriately guilty for the incident. Somewhat justified in that Draco attempted to hurt him first. Regardless, the fact that Harry could well have killed Draco makes it a pretty morally questionable move. Possibly justified in that Malfoy had been about to use the Cruciatus Curse on Harry, though this makes no sense, as that would have earned Malfoy a one-way ticket to Azkaban. Then again, it's abundantly clear that Draco is no longer thinking things through by this point.invoked
    • Harry gives one to Dumbledore for not telling him that Snape gave Voldemort the information about the prophecy, and letting Snape teach at Hogwarts despite that.
  • Woken Up at an Ungodly Hour: Harry received a visit from Professor Dumbledore in the middle of the night, waking the Dursleys in the process. He told them about Sirius Black's death, and remind that next year Harry will be come of age at 17. Professor Dumbledore even calls out the Dursleys for mistreating Harry after all these years.
  • Worthy Opponent: Normally, Voldemort sends his Death Eaters to kill/threaten people to make them conform or kill them. When Amelia Bones became a nuisance he went after her personally, leaving himself open to being seen, and apparently she put up a fight before she went down. Evidently, Voldemort considered her dangerous enough to handle himself...
  • Writing Lines: Seamus accidentally knocks Flitwick off his desk with a spell and in penance has to write invoked"I am a wizard, not a baboon brandishing a stick."
  • Xanatos Gambit:
    • Voldemort's plan. The plan is to give Draco an impossible, likely-suicide mission to punish Draco's father, Lucius, for his failure. But, hey, if Draco succeeds, all the better.
    • Voldemort's job interview with Dumbledore during one of the flashbacks is retroactively revealed to be one following Deathly Hallows. If the Headmaster hires him, then it gives Voldemort access to potential Hogwarts relics for Horcruxes, a recruiting ground for young Death Eaters, and stores of ancient magic to tap. If Dumbledore doesn’t hire him, that’s fine too since Voldemort can still use his brief access to the castle to hide one of his Horcruxes in the Room of Requirement.
  • "You!" Exclamation: Morfin when he sees Tom Riddle (later Voldemort), mistaking him for his father (Tom Riddle Sr.) and immediately trying to attack him.
  • You Have GOT to Be Kidding Me!:
    • Although Harry doesn't say this trope word-for-word, this is his reaction when he learns that Cornelius Fudge had tried to gain his support in an attempt to keep his job despite having spent a year covering up Voldemort's return and smearing anybody who spoke the truth, including Harry himself.
    • Dumbledore is vocally disappointed when he finds out that the gate to the cave containing Voldemort's locket Horcrux won't open unless he sacrifices a bit of blood. In his own way, of course.
      Dumbledore: Oh, surely not. So crude.
  • Your Princess Is in Another Castle!: Dumbledore and Harry go on a dangerous mission to find a Horcrux. They find it ... and it's a fake.