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Reality Ensues / Harry Potter

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For a children's fantasy series, Harry Potter does frequently present the realistic consequences of events. SPOILERS AHEAD!

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    Original books 
  • In general:
    • There are a number of points where the protagonists forget basic things as a result of their panic at a situation.
      • A prominent example is in the first book, when Hermione is so freaked out at the sight of Harry and Ron being strangled by the Devil's Snare that she forgets that she can use magic to save them. This is given a callback in the last book, when they are trying to get into the Shrieking Shack via the tunnel by the Whomping Willow. Ron panics because there's apparently no way to freeze the tree, prompting Hermione to remind him that they can use magic.
      • A particularly horrific example is in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, when Harry sees the flashback of his parents' deaths. Because of Lily and James' trust in Peter Pettigrew preserving their safety, they find themselves unprepared when Voldemort comes to their house. Neither Lily or James had their wands on their persons when Voldemort breaks in. As a result, there's not some epic battle, but rather a double murder against two unarmed victims.
    • The series may have started with the British wizarding community celebrating Voldemort's downfall, but future installments reveal that this didn't immediately end the fighting. Merely days later, Barty Crouch Jr. and the Lestranges attacked and tortured Neville Longbottom's parents until their minds broke and they went insane. In addition, other Death Eaters were being rounded up and sent to Azkaban for some time after Voldy's defeat, and those who weren't simply bided their time until the Dark Lord returned.
  • Harry's behavior makes sense when one remembers how he was raised. He was made to live with his aunt and uncle, being openly treated as The Unfavorite, blamed for anything going wrong, and was always being bullied by his cousin. When Harry finds out about Hogwarts, he also learns that his remaining relatives had lied to him about his heritage and how his parents actually died. Being raised in an abusive household has left Harry with severe trust issues towards adults and authority figures in general. It's no wonder that Harry oversteps boundaries when talking to some teachers, and refuses to rely on them for help because he grew up with the idea that those that are supposed to protect him did not do so.
  • Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone:
    • When Petunia and Vernon discover the letter that Harry received from Hogwarts (and said letter had details of where Harry stayed in the house), their first instinct is to think someone is watching their every move in the household.
      • When Vernon then takes the family all over England to escape the letters, and the letters keep finding them, they're on the verge of completely losing it, just like anyone else who's being stalked.
  • Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets:
    • Harry and Ron fly Arthur's car to school when they can't get on the train, foreseeing a triumphant arrival ... and end up pulling a Captain Crash and are very lucky to get away with a detention each for having violated the International Statute of Secrecy, after about half a dozen muggles saw the car flying through the sky.
    • The first time Draco calls Hermione a "mudblood" — a Fantastic Slur for a witch or wizard with non-magical parents — it hardly affects her, since she was raised outside of wizard culture and has no idea what it means. It also helps to establish limits on Hermione's precociousness. Hermione was thirteen years old at the time of this incident, would she really be 100% well-versed in Wizarding society?
  • Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban:
    • Harry receives a Firebolt — an international standard racing broom — as a Christmas present from an anonymous donor. Since Harry is supposedly being pursued by Sirius Black during this time, Hermione and McGonagall are immediately suspicious about the broom, fearing that it was sent by Sirius in an attempt to get Harry killed. McGonagall insists that she and the other teachers have the broom checked for curses before Harry can use it. Once they do and find nothing, only then is Harry allowed to use it. In a world where objects can be enchanted at will, it's only being Properly Paranoid. (Especially since Harry was nearly killed two years earlier on a jinxed broom.)
    • Dumbledore isn't an all-powerful figure who can instantly solve any problem brought to his attention. After the events in the Shrieking Shack, Harry and Hermione learn that Sirius has been captured and will be given the Dementor's Kiss. They tell Dumbledore that Pettigrew committed the crimes attributed to Sirius, expecting that Dumbledore will be able to save Sirius and have him freed. Dumbledore believes them, but unfortunately, he tells them that Snape has already convinced Fudge that Sirius altered their minds, and they would be waved off as Unreliable Narrators anyway because they're underage. The Ministry won't listen to Lupin because of widespread anti-werewolf prejudice, and without Pettigrew, they have no hard evidence to convince the Ministry otherwise. The best he can do is come up with a way to help Sirius escape so that he will at least be spared from the Dementor's Kiss.
    • Hermione decides to take more classes than are usual for a third-year student, enough that she requires a time-travel device to attend them all. She soon finds herself swamped with an incredible amount of homework, and is incredibly stressed by the sheer amount of studying she has to put in to keep up (and the arguments she has with Ron and Harry surely don't help). She finally decides to drop her extra classes and return to a normal schedule by the beginning of fourth year. Every person has a limit to how hard they can work, no matter how smart and studious they are.
  • Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire:
    • After the Riddles were murdered, the police arrested Frank Bryce, the only other person who had access to the house at the time of the murder. They then let him go, however, because the autopsy proved his innocence, and there was no evidence to suggest that Frank could murder them and leave no mark whatsoever.
    • Upon being forcibly put on a diet, Dudley is a lot grumpier due to the lack of his favorite foodstuffs. The sugar withdrawal is obviously getting to him. He tries to sneak doughnuts and eat his parents' share of the diet fruits.
    • Dumbledore announces that he has placed an age restriction on the Goblet of Fire, to prevent students under seventeen entering. Fred and George Weasley try to enter their names anyway, thinking they can outsmart one of the most powerful wizards of all time. They soon learn better.
    • Harry appears in front of the rest of the school, claiming that Lord Voldemort has returned. Aside from his closest friends and confidants, almost no one believes him, since they never saw any of the events in Little Hangleton. Turns out that people won't automatically believe The Hero when they make bold or outlandish claims that they can't prove, even if someone like Albus Dumbledore vouches for them. Particularly when they'd rather not deal with the consequences of such claims being true.
  • Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix:
    • After seeing Cedric Diggory get murdered right in front of him, being forced to take part in Voldemort's resurrection, and almost being killed twice near the end of the previous book, Harry ends up having to deal with PTSD over the next few months. The fact that he's not provided with any therapy or psychological counseling leaves him prone to mood swings and outbursts of anger.
    • Voldemort's initial plan is to make Harry dream about the entrance of the Department of Mysteries, thinking that the sight of it will make Harry curious enough to go there and retrieve the recording of the prophecy. This fails because, however curious Harry might become, he still has no idea where the door is, or why he should want to open it.
    • It's revealed that the Dursleys' method of raising Dudley (i.e., spoiling him and enforcing little to no discipline onto him) has helped make him a juvenile delinquent.
    • During the climactic battle, Harry's friends get knocked out of the fight one by one. Even though they've been trained by Harry, they're still students without a proper formal education in Defense Against the Dark Arts against experienced Death Eaters, many of whom Would Hurt a Child and are experts at casting dangerous — even lethal — spells.
    • At the end of Goblet of Fire, Cornelius Fudge was informed of the return of the most dangerous terrorist in Wizarding Britain. The Minister of Magic responded by not only covering it up, but also wasting valuable time and resources for an entire year persecuting and harassing Harry, Dumbledore, and their supporters, the very people trying to warn him in the first place. When Voldemort’s return is finally confirmed beyond any doubt at the end of Order of the Phoenix, national public outrage of epic proportions ensues. There's no way you can spend an entire year covering up the fact that a sociopathic, Ax-Crazy terrorist has returned — one who is willing to murder anybody up to and including children in order to achieve his goals — and not have it horribly backfire when the truth inevitably comes out. The end result for all this? The entire British Wizarding public turns against Fudge for putting everybody in danger, and politicians who previously supported him sever all ties with him — not only to save themselves from the backlash, but because they have their own families to take care of and protect from the Death Eaters. Less than a fortnight after the public reveal, Fudge is kicked out of office and goes down in history as both a Dirty Coward and the worst Minister of Magic in modern times.
    • A much more serious example; Fudge put the entire nation in danger because of his denial. His actions are one of the key factors in the Dark Lord's Near-Villain Victory and the large body count in the last two books. This is because wizarding citizens and students weren't prepared to properly defend themselves when the truth suddenly came out, as Fudge banned learning actual Defense Against the Dark Arts, and the Death Eaters' moles took advantage of Fudge's denial in order to steal resources and prepare for their coup in the seventh book undetected. Had Fudge been honest, attempted to correct the problem earlier, or was skeptical but still took precautions in case Harry and Dumbledore turned out to be right, a lot of innocent people could have been saved.
    • After Voldemort's return in Goblet of Fire, Dumbledore tries to get Snape and Sirius to try to put an end to their schoolboy rivalry and work together for the greater good. However, the events of Order of the Phoenix prove that was NOT going to happen, as Snape and Sirius spend much of their page time together bickering. The reason is that Snape never forgave Sirius (or James) for their bullying of him during their Hogwarts years, with one particular incident being that Sirius tricked Snape into getting in a situation that could have killed him. Likewise, Sirius has always been distrusting of Snape due to the latter's erstwhile Death Eater ties. In short, just because you have two allies and you trust both of them doesn't mean that they trust each other, especially if they have a history together. The most that Dumbledore is able to settle for is a brief handshake and a shaky truce between the two, and even that is on the verge of breaking down at any time. After Sirius' death in the climax, Dumbledore himself acknowledges to Harry that his confidence in them setting aside their differences was naïve at best.
    • In a similar vein, the enmity between Harry and Snape means that Snape's attempt to teach Harry Occlumency was doomed from the beginning, especially as it involves the ability to control one's emotions — something that Harry simply isn't good at by nature (as confirmed by Word of Rowling) and being near Snape only makes it worse. Dumbledore is forced to admit what a fiasco this proves to be.
  • Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince:
    • Between Order of the Phoenix and Half-Blood Prince, Fudge tries to contact Harry via Dumbledore so that he can get Harry's support, in order to hang on to his position as Minister for Magic. This is despite running a smear campaign against Harry, trying to get him expelled from Hogwarts, and working with Dolores Umbridge to undermine him, Dumbledore, and anybody else who believes and supports them for nearly a whole year. Unsurprisingly, Fudge is not Easily Forgiven; Dumbledore absolutely refuses to help him and doesn't let him get anywhere near Harry. As for Mr. Chosen One himself, he's beyond incredulous when he finds out that Fudge actually thought that he could get Harry's support after everything he and his flunkies did.
    • In addition, Rufus Scrimgeour, the new Minister of Magic, learns the hard way that Harry's bitterness over the whole ordeal extends to the Ministry in general, as not a whole lot of their workers stood up for him and Dumbledore. After a year of the Ministry either actively persecuting Harry and Dumbledore, or refusing to help them, it's no surprise that Harry doesn't trust anyone from the Ministry of Magic anymore. The fact that Scrimgeour has been imprisoning suspected Death Eaters in Azkaban on flimsy evidence (and thus re-opening the wounds of Sirius' unjust treatment) doesn't help either. Nor does it help that Umbridge is still working for the Ministry without any official punishment for her actions at Hogwarts (the centaurs' treatment of her notwithstanding).
    • We learn early on in Order of the Phoenix that Percy had had a major fallout with the rest of the Weasley family, due to their support of Dumbledore and Harry, to the point that he decided to move out, unable to bear living with them any longer. When Voldemort is shown to have returned, thus proving that his family were right in their choices on who to trust, does Percy attempt to reconcile with them? Nope. He continues to isolate himself from the rest of the Weasleys, now either out of guilt for going against them when they turned out to be right, inability to let go of his pride long enough to apologize, and/or being afraid that they would reject him if he tried. It's not until near the climax of the seventh book that he finds the strength to even apologize to his family.
    • On the other side of the coin, some members of his family aren't so willing to forgive him for turning against them in favor of the Ministry. When he reluctantly joins them for Christmas dinner, possibly in an attempt to reconcile, he has a bitter argument with Fred, George, and Ginny and ends up storming out of the house with his glasses covered in mashed parsnip.
    • In Voldemort's backstory, his mother Merope fell madly in love with a Muggle, so she subdued his mind with magic and had him run away from home and have a baby with her. Sometime later, she decided to stop magically brainwashing him, believing that he would remain at her side on his own volition, if not out of love, then for the sake of their child. Turns out that raping, abducting, and subjugating people through occult means tends to build up quite a bit of resentment in them, though. The moment she drops the spell, he runs as far away from her as he can, not even bothering to stay for their child's sake.
    • More on Voldemort's maternal family, the Gaunts: They were the pure-blood descendants of Salazar Slytherin, and indeed quite wealthy, but their family tradition was to marry their own cousins in order to preserve their pure-blood heritage. Combined with a lack of financial sense, this meant that the Gaunts went from being fabulously wealthy and respected to dirt poor and living in a tiny, filthy shack, rendered physically stunted and mentally deficient by centuries of inbreeding. Turns out, inbreeding within a single family for many years does tend to accumulate a large number of bad genes, magical heritage or no. Meanwhile, other "blood traitor" families whose members married half-bloods, Muggle-borns, and Muggles continued to survive and flourish, because — surprise, surprise — their children were born free of inherited genetic defects and wizarding prejudice.
      • This even gets lampshaded way back in Chamber of Secrets when Ron is explaining the concept of "dirty blood" to Harry. Ron believes the whole thing is ridiculous because human wizards would have died out centuries ago if they didn't marry Muggles and Muggle-borns, and points out that every wizard currently alive has at least some amount of Muggle ancestry.
      • A special mention should go to Marvolo Gaunt, Voldemort's grandfather. As a result of this narcissistic inbreeding, Marvolo has been raised from birth with this arrogant notion that his surname and lineage were all he needed to get around in life, and that Muggles and "lesser" wizards will show him deference because of it, any other factors be damned. When his son Morfin abuses magic to accost the elder Tom Riddle, they both "learn" the hard way that pure-blood Gaunts or not, they are still wizards, and therefore subject to the laws of Wizardkind. They are both arrested for their violent tendencies, and sent to Azkaban. To make matters worse for Marvolo, his daughter Merope had left to marry the elder Riddle, leaving Marvolo essentially to provide for himself. The problem? Marvolo's arrogance had caused him to be treated like a king, and therefore never bothered to learn to fend for himself. This, naturally, causes Marvolo to die of either starvation and/or shock, in part due to his very inbreeding-laden physiology.
      • More on Marvolo's son Morfin. In Voldemort's backstory, it is revealed that Voldemort — at the age of sixteen — exploited this trope by framing Morfin for the murders of the former's father and grandparents, as Voldemort knew that Morfin was the only adult wizard living in Little Hangleton, which would make him a easy suspect for the crimes in the eyes of the Ministry. The fact that Morfin did have a criminal record of using magic to harm Muggles — coupled with his reputation of being a mentally unstable and violent outcast — probably didn't help Morfin's case.
    • Throughout the series, Draco Malfoy constantly talks about pure-blood supremacy and is racist towards Muggle-borns, and is regarded by all as a junior Death Eater. However, in the last two books, when he’s finally initiated, he’s horrified at the real cause, going through Sanity Slippage and is outright terrified at the presence of Voldemort, to the point where it’s clear by the end that he’s just trying to help his family survive. Even if someone is indoctrinated into the beliefs of a group, that doesn’t mean that they will be able to follow through on them.
  • Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows:
    • During the Horcrux hunt, the Trio, who are now fugitives of the Death Eater-controlled Ministry, often finds themselves low on food supplies. Harry, who was often Denied Food as Punishment by the Dursleys while growing up, is able to adapt to the food deprivation that the group endures. Hermione and especially Ron, on the other hand, were used to eating three squares a day either at Hogwarts or with their families and often become irritable as a result of their hunger.
    • The Trio are planning to break into Gringotts and steal Hufflepuff's cup from the Lestrange vault. Part of this plan involves Hermione using Polyjuice Potion to pose as Bellatrix. The problem? Hermione barely wants to touch Bellatrix's wand, due to the crimes that the latter committed with it, namely torturing the Trio's friend Neville's parents and killing their friend Sirius. When Hermione mentions the latter crime, Harry's inner thoughts are about destroying the wand. Yes, it is rather understandable that most decent people would not want to touch an instrument of murder, especially if it was used to hurt or kill their loved ones. Related to this, when the Trio are in disguise, Harry understandably feels conflicting feelings about Hermione posing as Bellatrix. Yes, the fact that one of his closest childhood friends is posing as one of his most hated enemies would cause him so much anguish.
    • The quest to destroy Voldemort's Horcruxes is built on this: In his backstory, it is established that Voldemort preferred using rare artifacts significant to wizarding history (e.g., Ravenclaw's diadem, Hufflepuff's cup, or Slytherin's locket) and/or him personally (e.g., his grandfather's ring, his own diary, and Nagini) for his Horcruxes due to his ego forbidding him from using more mundane (and therefore harder-to-find) objects. He also hid them in locations significant to himself (the Gaunt shack, the Room of Requirement, Bellatrix Lestrange's vault at Gringotts, etc.). Furthermore, Voldemort believed that since very few wizards knew about his past as Tom Riddle, nobody would ever deduce their existence. This is especially arrogant considering his belief that he would have destroyed Harry — the only wizard alive with the power to stop him — before the latter would be old enough to know about, much less destroy, the Horcruxes. However, one of those "very few wizards" who knew about Voldemort's past was Albus Percival Wulfric Brian Dumbledore — the first wizard that Riddle ever met, and therefore the wizard who would understand Voldemort's psychology than probably anyone else. In Half-Blood Prince, Dumbledore tells Harry — who also had known some facts about Voldemort's past — these very facts, which in turn allows Harry and his friends to destroy Voldemort's Horcruxes — and Voldy himself.
    • After the events of Deathly Hallows are over, the Ministry of Magic goes though massive reform, not only to rebuild it after being taken over by the Death Eaters, but because it's been failing since the end of the First Wizarding War. Also, many of its corrupt policies were stripped, because everybody realized that they were some of the causes of Voldemort's rise in power.
    • Word of God confirms that while Harry revealed Severus Snape's true loyalty to the wizarding public after his death in order to clear his name, there are still many people debating the truth of Harry's statements. One in-universe book about the subject even engages in some Alternative Character Interpretation. Sure, Harry's a hero who saved the world, but that doesn't mean that everything he says has to be taken at face value. Besides, Snape was a huge jerk to pretty much everybody in life and was still the one who killed Dumbledore, even though the murder was a Mercy Kill Arrangement, so people are naturally going to debate the facts years down the road. That's what historians do.
    • The Malfoy family defects from the Death Eaters to save each other, most of whom survive the Wizarding War. In most other series, this would result in the Malfoys renouncing the ways and beliefs of their former compatriots. However, this is not the case with Lucius Malfoy, as Word of God confirms that he still holds onto his Fantastic Racism against Muggles and non-pureblood wizards about two decades after the war. A large part of this might have to do with how Lucius was in his forties by the end of the war, and therefore was too old to turn over a new leaf. Not to mention, Lucius has held his Fantastic Racism since childhood, long before he had ever met Voldemort. Truth in Television, as many former Confederates and Nazis maintained their beliefs well after the respective wars ended. In addition, Draco struggles with his upbringing through his entire adult life, and it's only his own son Scorpius who truly redeems the Malfoy name.

    Harry Potter and the Cursed Child 
  • Just because Harry may be one of the most famous and most powerful wizards in Great Britain, if not the entire world, doesn't mean his superiors at the Ministry will all of a sudden treat him with the utmost respect and dignity. Not even if his boss is someone he's known since he was eleven and is married to his other best friend he knew since he was eleven. At the end of the day, they see Harry the way they see all the other witches and wizards who work for them: expendable employees that can be replaced in a heartbeat.
  • This play also shows Harry has a difficult experience being a father. Part of the reason for this is not despite, but rather because of, his upbringing with the Dursleys. Of course, Harry is far from the Abusive Parent that the Dursleys were to him (unfortunately, it is Truth in Television for kids who were abused to become Abusive Parents themselves), but the fact that he had very few positive, stable role models for fatherhood during his childhood and adolescence causes him to struggle in that department. Harry himself acknowledges this to Albus in the final act.
  • A minor example, but it is briefly mentioned that there is a book titled Marvolo: The Truth, which, as its title suggests, is about either Voldemort (born Tom Marvolo Riddle) and/or his grandfather, Marvolo Gaunt. In either case, the fact that this book exists suggests that after the events of Deathly Hallows, there was a rise in research and literature about Voldemort's lineage and personal life that likely would not have been possible during his lifetime. Truth in Television, as this has happened with many historical events.
  • Even though the Malfoy family did switch sides and played an important role in the final defeat of Voldemort decades before the events of Cursed Child, the fact that the Malfoys had a good relationship with him to begin with makes them the primary suspect for the family of Voldemort's child.
  • Near the climax, when Harry uses Polyjuice Potion to transform into Voldemort, his friends are reasonably very uncomfortable at the sight of their best friend literally transforming into their most hated enemy.


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