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Theatre / Harry Potter and the Cursed Child

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This page contains unmarked spoilers for the book series. You Have Been Warned!
Sometimes darkness comes from unexpected places.

Harry Potter and the Cursed Child is a stage play with a script by Jack Thorne (based on a story by Thorne, J. K. Rowling and John Tiffany) and directed by Tiffany, with a musical score by Imogen Heap. Notably, Rowling considers this play to be Canon and the official eighth Harry-focused instalment in the Harry Potter franchise. It debuted in the West End on July 30, 2016; a run on Broadway debuted in 2018, while a third run at Australia's Princess Theatre started in 2019.

Set after the seventh book's "Where Are They Now?" Epilogue, Harry is now a 37-year-old Ministry of Magic employee struggling to deal with his past, while Albus Severus, the second of his three children, tries to live up to his family name.

It was announced in early 2016 that the play's script (not a novelization of the play) would be published. It was released that July 31 (the same day as Rowling and Harry's birthdays).

Due to a few major plot points being introduced very early on, some spoilers will be unmarked. Once again, You Have Been Warned!

This play provides examples of the following tropes:

  • Achey Scars: Harry's scar beginning to hurt again is a sign that something is very, very wrong.
  • Adaptation Amalgamation: It's supposed to be a continuation of the book continuity but the Hedge Maze is now a Mobile Maze like in the Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire movie and the Flipendo spell from the video games appears.
  • Adapted Out: A lot of characters get this treatment, likely due to the casting constraints that are inherent in theater. Ron and Hermione's son, Hugo, does not appear at all in the play, despite the fact that Deathly Hallows had him present in the epilogue, which is the play's opening scene. Teddy Lupin also is left out despite being Harry's godson and James, Albus, and Lily seeing him as their brother. Many of the extended Weasleys also don't appear in the play and whatever happened to Mrs Diggory is never explained.
    • Happens once again for the revised one-part version of the play with many elements. Significantly all of Harry's flashback/dream sequences get the boot, plus Hagrid and Albus's little sister Lily are both absent.
  • Aesop Amnesia:
    • Harry distrusts Scorpius Malfoy — Albus's only friend — entirely because of the bad blood between Harry and Draco, a failing famously displayed in two people who made Harry's life miserable: Vernon Dursley and Severus Snape.
    • For a lesser example, Ron gives Albus a Love Potion as a present for the start of his fourth year. He seems to have forgotten about his very negative experience with a love potion in his sixth year. What's worse, he seems inappropriately happy about the prospect of Albus using the potion.
  • Alpha Bitch: Polly Chapman. She holds a particular grudge against Albus, whom she first considers undeserving of the Potter name, then, she accuses him of deliberately trying to sabotage Gryffindor by provoking teachers into deducting its points. She also hates Scorpius with a passion. She also may approve of the torture of Muggle-borns.
  • Alternate Timeline: Albus's and Scorpius's Time Travel leads them to two altered timelines, one of which is a real Crapsack World.
  • Animal Motifs: The Hogwarts banners have been redesigned so that the letters of each house resemble the house's animal mascot; Gryffindor's G has a lion's mane, Ravenclaw's R has a raven's beak, Hufflepuff's H is roughly badger-shaped, and the S of Slytherin has a snake's tail at the end.
  • Antagonist Title: The Cursed Child is Delphi, cursed to be Voldemort's heir ... and to be an orphan.
  • The Arch Mage: Hermione is now Minister For Magic and could probably be considered the most powerful witch of her generation.
  • Arc Words: "Spare" in both parts and "dark cloud" in Part I. The Call-Back to "kill the spare" is very important. Another set in Harry's and Albus's character arc is "Love blinds."
  • Ascended Extra: Albus Potter and Scorpius Malfoy, who were only introduced in the books' epilogue, are now the main protagonists. Additionally, the witch who sells candy on the Hogwarts Express gets some characterization here.
  • Aw, Look! They Really Do Love Each Other: Draco and Scorpius have a strained relationship throughout the play, but when they reunite in Act IV, Draco meekly tells Scorpius they can hug if he wants and Scorpius happily embraces his father.
  • Back to the Early Installment: The climax involves Harry, Ron, and Draco travelling back in time to the death of Harry's parents in order to prevent Voldemort's daughter from completing her father's victory by distracting her at the right moment. By preventing her from warning Voldemort, they ensure he is defeated by murdering Harry's parents, which sets off the long gambit that leads to his own final death.
  • Bad Future: Amos Diggory considers the present this so long as Cedric remains dead. With Cedric alive, the future becomes far worse; Neville never kills Nagini, Voldemort kills Harry and takes over the wizarding world, and worst of all, Dolores Umbridge once again becomes the headmistress of Hogwarts.
  • Big Bad: The main conflict is between Albus and Harry, but a straight-up villain does appear in the form of The Augurey, real name Delphi Riddle. Thanks to Time Travel, The Augurey manages to be both The Dragon and the Big Bad without actually being a Dragon Ascendant. During the Bad Future, she is Voldemort's Dragon, running Hogwarts in her father's absence. Once Scorpius travels back to the present, she reveals her true colours and becomes the Big Bad for the rest of the play.
  • Big Damn Heroes: At one point Cedric manages to be this; when Albus and Scorpius are stuck in the past facing the Augurey during the third Triwizard Task, Cedric appears to help fight her off, the two students passing their presence off as another part of the current task.
  • Bleak Abyss Retirement Home: Saint Oswald’s Home for Old Witches and Wizards averts this with the inhabitants using magic to amuse themselves in interesting ways because they have no other responsibilities. Not that it helps Amos, who sees Saint Oswald's as this thanks to his grief.
  • Bloodstained Glass Windows: The climax sees the Big Bad blasting pews everywhere inside St. Jerome's Church in an attempt to kill Harry.
  • Book Ends: The climax of the play takes place in Godric's Hollow on the very same night that Voldemort killed Harry's parents and marked him as his equal, which kickstarted most of the events of the books. It ended where it began.
  • Bullet Time: In a Homage to The Matrix, Harry dodges one of Draco's spells by bending over backwards like Neo as wires pull him in the opposite direction to simulate slow-motion.
  • Canon Immigrant:
    • The Knockback Jinx, which is cast wordlessly in the books, is given its Flipendo incantation from the games when Harry uses it.
    • The hedge maze from the third task being a Mobile Maze comes from the movie rather than the book.
  • Changing Clothes Is a Free Action: The point where characters leave the non-magical world to enter the wondrous Platform 9 3/4 is marked with the ensemble cast ripping off their ordinary attire to reveal wizarding robes underneath.
  • Character Focus: Scorpius is already the Deuteragonist of the story, but during the time that Albus becomes Ret-Gone due to them messing with the time stream, Scorpius is basically the sole main character of the story, focusing on him figuring out where time went wrong and how to return it to normal and bring Albus back.
  • Chekhov's Gun: Human Transfiguration, which is mentioned in the books and taught in Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, is used as a Poor Man's Substitute for Polyjuice Potion in Act IV. Naturally, it doesn't work very well.
  • Chekhov's Gunman:
    • Amos Diggory, who hasn't appeared since Goblet of Fire, is a major player in Cursed Child.
    • Theodore Nott, a background Slytherin student for much of the series, is arrested for possession of an illegal Time-Turner, which kicks off the major events of the play.
    • Rodolphus Lestrange, perennial Redshirt Death Eater, is revealed to be indirectly responsible for starting the villain's evil plan.
  • Chekhov's Time Travel: Time-Turners are the driving force of the plot and alternate timeline.
  • Chuck Cunningham Syndrome: Some of the other next generation characters from the Deathly Hallows epilogue, such as Teddy Lupin and Victoire Weasley, do not appear and are not mentioned; meanwhile, Hugo, who was actually "on screen" for the epilogue, is absent but gets a few mentions throughout the play. Neville Longbottom and Luna Lovegood, who were major characters in the book series, are also victims of this, although Neville is mentioned and is important to the plot. This is mostly since the original series had too many characters, which is just something that doesn't translate well to the stage.
  • Cliffhanger: Unsurprisingly, Part 1 ends on a major one: Albus has accidentally erased himself from history and created a Bad Future where Voldemort reigns supreme.
  • Cold-Blooded Torture:
    • The Cruciatus Curse is once again used against the protagonists.
    • It's reinforced that Death Eaters torture Muggle-borns as recreation.
  • Continuity Snarl:
    • Levicorpus is no longer a non-verbal spell. However, this is justified by the difficulty of portraying this on stage otherwise.
    • The Triwizard hedge maze moves, which only happened in the films and not the books.
  • Contrasting Sequel Main Character: Albus is an Inept Mage who hates Hogwarts and can't fly on a broom as opposed to Harry, who never felt better than when he was playing Quidditch for school.
  • Contrived Coincidence: Perhaps the most ridiculous example in the entire series. Cedric Diggory, a Hufflepuff (aka literally the last people who would ever become Death Eaters) becomes a Death Eater simply because he was embarrassed at losing the Triwizard Tournament, and he just so happens to murder Neville, meaning nobody is able to kill Nagini (since Harry specifically only told Neville the snake needed to die), so Voldemort is still immortal and emerges victorious over Harry in their final battle.
  • Crapsack World: The offshoot timeline where Cedric lived. By the time it is erased, every heroic character from that world has died.
  • Cruel to Be Kind: In Act III, Scorpius invokes Draco's dead wife to convince Draco to ignore his unusual behaviour at Hogwarts.
  • Crying a River: Whenever Moaning Myrtle begins to cry, the fountain in her bathroom begins to flood and fill up.
  • Death by Childbirth: Downplayed, because she was already ill, and lived for years after, but it is made clear that having a child shortened Astoria's life by worsening her health problems.
  • Defrosting Ice Queen:
    • Rose Granger-Weasley is not as much oblivious to Scorpius's affection for her as just not interested (partly because of the rumour of him being Voldemort's son, partly because he's a Malfoy, and partly because she just doesn't seem to like him). That is until the very end of the play, when she at first rejects Scorpius asking her out, only to start warming up to him when she sees him next time.
    • Somewhat true for Polly Chapman as well. In the regular timeline, she hates Scorpius much like she does all the other Slytherins. She does eventually warm up to him, but only because reality was altered so now Scorpius is a Death Eater-by-birth and a Jerk Jock.
  • Deuteragonist: With Albus Potter as The Protagonist, this role is shared between Scorpius Malfoy (Albus's best friend, who is briefly promoted to the main character when Albus has ceased to exist due to their interference with time) and Harry, Albus's father.
  • Divided for Publication:
    • Downplayed. The play is in two parts, but they were produced at the same time, and on some nights, they are performed back to back.
    • Averted for the published script, which was printed in a single volume.
  • Do Not Spoil This Ending: After the first preview, J.K. Rowling asked fans to "keep the secrets" so as not to give away the story to those who would have to wait to read the script or see the play firsthand.
  • Double Standard: Rape, Sci-Fi: Ron offers Albus a Love Potion to get him a girlfriend and it's treated as a joke. Moaning Myrtle also mentions at one point that she saw girls trying love incantations for Cedric Diggory.
  • Draw Aggro: The Dementors hunting Scorpius are distracted by the alternate universe rebels, who don't make it out.
  • Dying Declaration of Love: In the Bad Future, Ron and Hermione do this just before Dementors take their souls.
  • Epileptic Trees: In-Universe, rumours are flying that Scorpius Malfoy is not Draco's son but the lovechild of Lord Voldemort and Astoria Malfoy after Astoria went back in time. Both father and son deny it and Draco in particular is humiliated by the hearsay. As it turns out, Voldemort did have a secret child, but Astoria wasn't the mother.
  • Evolving Title Screen: In between the two parts, the screens in the merchandise booths are replaced with the Dark Mark to show how dire the Death Eater situation has become in the show.
  • Evil Wears Black: The good guy ensemble at Hogwarts wear grey, white, and black robes with spattrings of color representing their houses, while the evil Hogwarts students in Act III wear all black leather outfits with long capes.
  • Exact Words: Professor McGonagall, knowing that Scorpius and Albus are in the room and realizing they are under the Invisibility Cloak, decides that technically, she didn't see them and so doesn't need to separate them.
  • Failed a Spot Check: Averted. At first, it seems bizarre no one could have realized something was wrong about Amos having a niece when the man was an only child. However, they quickly realized Delphi must have used a Confundus Charm to make everyone believe she was Amos's niece long enough to infiltrate the school.
  • Failure Hero: Albus. It is only when he steps back and lets Harry, Ron, and Hermione act that anything gets fixed.
  • Fantastic Racism: Rose's prejudice against Scorpius due to his parentage and shunning of Albus (her cousin, no less) when he's sorted into Slytherin.
  • Feather Motif: The Augurey is distinguished by a feathered wing tattoo and later wears an outfit covered in black feathers. This associate the Augureys both with bird used to tell the future in old acts of divination and with the power of flight.
  • Flanderization: In the original books, Ron was characterized as the most unremarkable of the trio, compared to Chosen One Harry and Magical Prodigy Hermione, as well as the least mature of them and the occasional comic relief. Here, this has somehow translated into him being an utter moron who has no idea of what's going on half the time and can't hold a wand the right way at one point. Also, he's still running Weasley's Wizard Wheezes, despite Rowling's official canon stating that he eventually became an Auror alongside Harry, whereas Harry and Hermione are Head of Magical Law Enforcement and Minister for Magic, respectively.
  • Flashback Echo: Each time the Time-Turner is used to go back in time, recordings of the last few lines the characters said play to demonstrate time turning back.
  • Flashback Effects: The Time-Turner's use is marked by a trick of the light that resembles the ripple effect commonly seen in to mark the use of a flashback in movies.
  • Flawed Prototype: Theodore Nott's confiscated Time-Turner is seriously flawed; it only works for five minutes at a time and there's a serious risk of Splinch-like injuries once those five minutes are up.
  • Flaw Exploitation:
    • Albus tells Scorpius that he will go without him and probably get into more trouble if Scorpius doesn't come to get him to leave the train.
    • The Big Bad realizes the way to torture Albus is to use the Cruciatus Curse but on Scorpius instead of him, and he mocks him as being just like his father, weak about friendship.
  • For Want Of A Nail:
    • The play makes a point that Cedric Diggory's death was not pointless; its effects on Harry and his friends essentially ensured that he could defeat Voldemort.
    • The Augurey's plan actually hinges on this: she intends to stop Voldemort from trying to kill Harry, so he remains at his full power and only grows stronger as Harry grows up.
  • Forbidden Friendship: Scorpius and Albus in the first alternate future, when Harry bans them from even talking to each other. Both of them are devastated and utterly miserable apart, so, unsurprisingly, it doesn't last long.
  • Four Is Death: The majority of the conflict takes place during Albus's and Scorpius's fourth year, and the conflicts of the play come to a head in Act IV.
  • The Fourth Wall Will Not Protect You:
    • Act II ends with a dementor puppet moving from the stage and being carried over the audience with its hands outstretched as ominous music plays.
    • Near the end of Act IV, Voldemort strolls right through the audience to the back of the theater, where the sounds of him killing James and Lily play.
  • The Ghost: Neville is mentioned numerous times and has an impact on the plot, but he never appears.
  • Godwin's Law of Time Travel: The appropriate parallel: it only takes Albus and Scorpius two trips back in time before they accidentally cause Voldemort to win the Battle of Hogwarts.
  • Green-Eyed Monster: Draco confess that he has always been envious of Harry's genuine friendship with Ron and Hermione while he never considered his mooks Crabbe and Goyle as friends.
  • Happily Married:
    • Harry and Ginny, who, despite some minor conflict, remain loving and supportive to each other throughout the story.
    • Ron and Hermione are happily married to each other, notwithstanding occasional frictions. So much so that, in both of the alternate futures in which they are not married, they're far less happy people and clearly still have feelings for each other.
    • Though Astoria is The Ghost for this play, Draco's and Scorpius's comments about her make it clear that she and Draco were also this.
  • Happy Ending Override: The optimistic ending to Deathly Hallowsnote  is overridden showing that the two children hate each other and that Albus is an Inept Mage who has a miserable time at Hogwarts.
  • Heir Club for Men: Draco discusses this trope in that both he and Astoria rejected having a child to carry on the line, but Astoria wanted a child for them.
  • Heroic Sacrifice: The rebels from Act III all suffer this, but most notably Snape, who knows he'll be dead when the timeline is restored (but at least won't have suffered the Dementor's Kiss).
  • Heterosexual Life-Partners: Albus and Scorpius become this very quickly. Though it doesn't get too much focus, it's clear that Harry and Ron are also still this in adulthood.
  • Hidden Depths: Astoria reportedly saw these in Draco, but he doesn't believe it. Scorpius invokes this in Act III to get Draco on his side.
  • Humanity Ensues: Due to the limitations of the theatrical medium, the Sorting Hat is played by a human actor, Chris Jarman.
  • I Am the Noun: The Big Bad dabbles in this late in the play upon being revealed to the protagonists.
    I am the new past. I am the new future. I am the answer this world has been looking for.
  • Identical Grandson: The young version of Hermione is played by the same actor as her daughter Rose. Scorpius even mistakes her for Rose.
  • Idiot Ball:
    • Hermione, the cleverest witch of her day and now the Minister of Magic, decides to "hide" an incredibly powerful and dangerous Time-Turner in the bookcase of her own office, and specifically and intentionally creates a series of clues and puzzles to help anyone who'd like to find it. She could have locked it in a vault in Gringotts or even used a simple safe that was magically sealed, but instead created a puzzle that was easily solvable by a pair of underage wizards. Professor McGonagall even lampshades how dumb this was in the third act.
      McGonagall: Keeping hold of a Time-Turner, of all the stupid things! And in a bookcase. You kept it in a bookcase. It's almost laughable.
    • Immediately afterwards, when Delphi and the boys have retrieved the Time Turner, Delphi continues to use the boys to do her dirty work instead of simply grabbing the Turner then and there and proceeding alone. She had a far higher probability of succeeding that way.
  • If You Kill Him, You Will Be Just Like Him!: Albus wants to kill the Big Bad come Act IV, but the others shoot the idea down, citing this trope as the main reason why.
  • Immediate Sequel: Part I starts with a recreation of the epilogue of Deathly Hallows and picks up from there.
  • Infallible Babble: Scorpius cites a rumour and he and Albus immediately find out it's true.
  • In Spite of a Nail: In the first Bad Future, most of the main timeline remains unchanged, with the one major exception of Ron marrying Padma Patil instead of Hermione, which leads to Rose being erased from existence. It's not until Scorpius interferes with the Second Task that the "Voldemort Day" timeline is created.
  • Internal Reveal: The audience and the world at large know that Snape was killed by Voldemort; Snape himself, from the Bad Future, only learns about this by Act III, which takes place almost twenty years after the fact.
  • It's All About Me: Albus has a bad habit of this, including ignoring his father's own struggles and baggage because he's angsting about himself and not considering that being the son of a former Death Eater is worse than being the disappointing Potter child. He gets better after Scorpius calls him out on it.
    Scorpius: Albus, as apologies go this is wonderfully fulsome, but you're starting to talk more about you than me again, so probably better quit while you're ahead. [Albus stops talking and smiles]
  • I Will Punish Your Friend for Your Failure: "Failure to cooperate with my evil plan", in this case. The Big Bad threatens Scorpius with torture and death unless Albus does as he's told.
  • Jerk with a Heart of Gold: Draco Malfoy has grown up to be one. His personality is basically unchanged, but he's gotten more mature, and he sides with Ginny in giving a What the Hell, Hero? to Harry. He also loves his wife and child immensely.
  • Kids Are Cruel: Hogwarts's bullying issue certainly hasn't improved since Harry attended, with Scorpius and Albus being picked on and shunned for four years straight (Scorpius for being the son of a former Death Eater and the Voldemort rumours, Albus for being sorted into Slytherin and struggling with magic). You'd think at at least one teacher would punish the students mocking Albus in front of the entire class or investigate them defacing Scorpius's possessions.
  • Last Request: Just before being kissed by Dementors, Severus Snape asks Scorpius to tell Albus he is proud of him.
  • Late-Arrival Spoiler:
    • The mere existence of this play spoils Harry's survival at the end of Deathly Hallows (though admittedly not the circumstances behind it).
    • Two of Deathly Hallows's other massive spoilers (Snape's true allegiance and Harry being Voldemort's accidental seventh Horcrux) are significant plot points in the play and treated as common knowledge.
  • Like a Son to Me: Dumbledore's portrait confirms that he always felt this way about Harry.
  • Like Father, Unlike Son: Both Scorpius and Albus. Scorpius, the son of school bully and former Death Eater Draco Malfoy, is sweet, geeky, adorkable, and the victim, not the perpetrator, of bullying. Meanwhile Albus, the son of the famous, gifted heroic Gryffindor Harry Potter, is awkward, fairly inept at magic, a terrible flier, sorted into Slytherin, and, in stark contrast to his father, hates Hogwarts. Ironically, what the Harry Potter audience knows is that of the Potter children, he's actually the most similar to Harry in personality, inheriting his introversion, insecurity, and rebellious streak among other things. This is acknowledged at the end when Harry tells Albus that James isn't the son that takes after him.
  • The Lost Lenore: Astoria has a considerable impact on both Draco and Scorpius after her death.
  • Magical Library: Hermione has one made of dark magic books in her office. The books can talk and grab people while saying riddles that have to be answered in order to find what's inside.
  • Make Wrong What Once Went Right: Theodore Nott and other Death Eaters wish to undo Voldemort's death through unconventional magic. Turns out this was the Augurey's goal all along, to subvert Voldemort's death via time travel.
  • Malicious Slander: Scorpius is the subject of endless rumours that he's Voldemort's son.
  • Mama's Baby, Papa's Maybe: Invoked; due to rumors that Scorpius's real father is Voldemort, Harry asks Draco if he's sure of his son's fatherhood.
  • Manly Tears:
    • At Halloween's Eve, Harry tears up over the fact that Albus is lost in time, possibly as a result of Harry's arguments with him, and that time and again, people he loves have had to sacrifice their lives to save his life.
    • To the extent that this trope can apply to a portrait, Dumbledore sheds a few Manly Tears when admitting to Harry that he loved him like his son but wasn't wise enough to know how much it would mean to Harry to say this outright to him.
  • Missing Child: This is for Draco, Harry, and Ginny. Imagine getting a letter informing you that your sons have not arrived at school; they've gone missing. Putting aside the fact that the two are wizards, they are still fourteen-year-old boys lost out there...somewhere. And none of them has any idea if the boys are hurt or not.
  • More Hero than Thou: The heroic cast argues over who should assist Harry late in the play — ultimately, Albus is the only one small enough to crawl into the church and get the rest of the cast inside.
  • Muppet: The Dementors aren't portrayed by actors but by suspended puppets in giant black cloaks with hands larger than a human head. They get unveiled at the end of act 2 and are flown throughout the crowd before being used to carry around some characters off the stage in act 3.
  • Mythology Gag:
  • A Nazi by Any Other Name: The Death Eaters' legacy is felt, and it's more clear than ever that they wished to turn the Ministry into a fascist dictatorship.
  • Next Sunday A.D.: The bulk of the play takes place in 2020, after the first two scenes are set in 2017.
  • Nice Job Breaking It, Hero
    • Albus plans to use a Time-Turner to go back to the 1994–1995 Triwizard Tournament, save Cedric Diggory by turning him into a balloon before the Second Trial, and spare Harry the pain of his death and guilt of Voldemort coming back. Instead, he creates a terrible new timeline where Cedric is so bitter by the humiliation of losing the tournament that he joins the Death Eaters, helps resurrect Voldemort, kills Neville, and lets the Death Eaters take over.
    • Harry also telling Albus that he sometimes wishes that Albus wasn't his son was far from a good idea.
  • Nom de Mom: Downplayed. Hermione kept her last name of Granger after marrying Ron. Their daughter Rose (and presumably their son Hugo) uses the hyphenated last name of Granger-Weasley.
  • The Noseless: Scorpius cracks a joke that he can't be Voldemort's son because, unlike the Dark Lord, he has a nose.
  • Nothing Up My Sleeve: The show depicts the Expelliarmus charm, which sends another wizard's wand flying into the caster's hands, by having the actor playing the caster pull a wand from out of their sleeve while the target slides their wand into their sleeve.
  • "Not So Different" Remark: Harry and Albus spend most of the story angsting about their apparent differences (Harry is a famous, gifted Gryffindor who sees Hogwarts as his true home while Albus is an awkward, magically inept Slytherin who never fitted in at school) before realizing how similar they are below the surface. Largely that they're both brooding, insecure trouble-makers with a heroic streak despite themselves, and are fiercely independent and loyal to their few friends. A major problem was that Albus only saw the confident celebrity Harry Potter rather than the more vulnerable Harry when he was a teenager.
    Albus: I know I'm not James, Dad, I'll never be like you two —
    Harry: James is nothing like me.
    Albus: Isn't he?
    Harry: Everything comes easy for James. My childhood was a constant struggle.
    Albus: So was mine.
  • Only Friend: Albus and Scorpius to each other as most of the other Hogwarts students shun them. Their loyalty and attachment to each other is a central part of the story.
  • Our Presidents Are Different: Hermione, now the Minister for Magic, is a President Action par excellence, on the front lines with Harry come Act IV.
  • Out-of-Character Alert: Albus and Scorpius are immediately disturbed that Ron doesn't tell a single joke when they meet up with him in Act II, the first hint they have their time travel radically changed Ron's life.
  • Papa Wolf: Draco and Harry both act in attempts to protect their sons.
  • Playing with Fire: The most common offensive spell used in the show is Incendio, which causes massive spurts of fire to appear. It wasn't too commonly used in the books or movies, but since pyrotechnics make shooting fire easier to portray than more fantastical effects, the change is understandable.
  • Plot Device All Along: Harry's baby blanket is introduced to start an argument between Harry and Albus, but it turns out to be key to getting Harry to save the day.
  • Plot-Triggering Death: Cedric Diggory's death causes most of the problems in this story.
  • Portal Picture: In Act III, the Potions professor draws a door in a chalkboard that turns into a real door, allowing him and Scorpius to walk through and meet their secret allies.
  • Posthumous Character: Petunia Dursley passed away some time between Deathly Hallows and Cursed Child, but she appears many times in Harry's dreams.
  • P.O.V. Sequel: We see some scenes from the earlier books from a different point of view, notably including Hagrid's and Harry's first conversation.
  • The Power of Friendship:
    • Draco appeals to Harry to allow Scorpius and Albus back together because Albus really needs a friend and persuades him.
    • Draco and Ginny both admit to having envied Harry's camaraderie with Ron and Hermione.
  • Race Lift: Hermione is played by Noma Dumezweni, an English actress of Swazi descent. However, Rowling and Emma Watson showed their support for the casting, saying that the only important thing is that she has brown eyes and curly hair. Rowling claimed she had never specified Hermione's race in the first place, however, this contradicts Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban (where she's explicitly stated to have a white face) as well as Rowling's character sketches. In any case, as a theatre production, the convention of Colourblind Casting has long been common in various plays and opera.
  • Psychic Dreams for Everyone: Harry somehow correctly dreams that he'll find Albus wearing Durmstrang robes in The Forbidden Forest.
  • "The Reason You Suck" Speech: Scorpius delivers one to Draco in Act III, comparing him to Lucius Malfoy.
  • Ret-Gone: Happens to Albus in the Alternate Timeline, since Harry was killed decades ago. Also happens to Rose and Hugo in all the alternate timelines, since Ron and Hermione never got married.
  • The Reveal: The end of Act III has a few regarding the Big Bad. Scorpius deduces the Augurey is an alterego for Delphi. Shortly after, Harry and company discover she was secretly Voldemort's daughter.
  • Revision:
    • After some outcry from fans who read the Special Rehearsal Edition script about Voldemort having a kid being out of character for the wizard who thought he would live forever, a line was added to later productions that called Delphi "the ultimate Horcrux", to add some context to the decision.
    • The condensed one-show version that premiered in North America in 2021 took the opportunity to revise a few things, including making the romantic undertones of Albus's and Scorpius's relationship more explicit.
  • Ripple-Effect-Proof Memory: The time-travelers remember the original timeline and not the alternate ones. Understandably, it leads to a lot of confusion and misunderstanding.
  • Room Full of Crazy: Harry and friends discover that The Augurey's room is entirely covered in invisible scribbles about prophecies, Voldemort's fate, and other nonsense. In production, the room is lit by a blacklight which reveals the entire theater is covered in this writing, even along the walls by the audience's seats!
  • Running Gag: The Beauxbatons audience members never giving as much audible applause as the others.
  • Sacrificial Lamb: Craig Bowker Jr., an older Slytherin student, who is killed by the Big Bad simply for being in the wrong place at the wrong time, (mirroring Cedric's death).
  • Sadistic Choice: The Augurey to Albus. Either help her restore the alternate Bad Future timeline (which will result in Harry being killed and Albus not even existing) or she'll torture and kill his best friend Scorpius in front of him. Luckily, this is resolved by the unexpected appearance of Past!Cedric saving the two boys.
  • Sadist Teacher: The Defence Against the Dark Arts teacher in Act II is basically a carbon copy of Snape. And it turns out to be Hermione.
  • Sad-Times Montage: The time Scorpius and Albus are forced apart in Act II is represented with a silent scene of the two of them walking up and down the Hogwarts autonomously moving stairs as the stairs move them away from each other, even as they rush to meet.
  • Schoolyard Bully All Grown Up: Draco and the offscreen Dudley are subversions; both of them buried the hatchet with Harry a long time ago. Draco even becomes outright friends with Harry by the end of the story.
  • Screw Destiny:
    • Amos Diggory wants to use a confiscated Time-Turner to screw Cedric's destiny in 1995. Albus and Scorpius decide to do so on his behalf.
    • Albus and Scorpius refuse to comply with a prophecy if it means doing evil.
  • Self-Serving Memory: "I didn't volunteer for adventure, I was forced into it," says Harry James Potter, the boy who spent much of his time at Hogwarts seeking out adventure wherever it might be found, and sticking his nose where it didn't belong.
  • Set Right What Once Went Wrong: It's believed by more than one person that preventing Cedric Diggory's death will do this. They are so very wrong.
  • Shout-Out: The stage directions describe Draco stepping up to assume responsibility as "almost a Spartacus moment".
  • Sins of Our Fathers: Harry is wary of Scorpius because of Harry's history with Scorpius's father Draco Malfoy. You'd think he'd know better since such behaviour was the proximate cause of his own terrible childhood.
  • Soft Water: Albus notices a river and concludes it will help if their spell doesn't work right when they jump from the train — probably within realistic levels.
  • Stable Time Loop: Despite previous acts asserting that you can Make Wrong What Once Went Right via Time Travel, this trope is featured in the final climax. While trapped in the past, with no way to prevent the villain from horrifically altering the past, thus destroying their present, the child heroes come up with a method to send a message to the future of their own original timeline. They write a hidden message on a blanket, telling adult-Harry when and where they are trapped, knowing that the message will become visible at a specific moment in the future (but their own personal past). In the future, Harry does indeed receive this message and travels back to the past to join the children and successfully stops the villain from altering the timeline. Thus, the timeline only remained intact because Harry was able to receive the message, but, of course, Harry was only able to receive the message because the timeline had remained intact. Thus, from the objective point of view of the timeline, adult-Harry had "already" travelled back to the past to save the day. Otherwise, the timeline wouldn't have existed in the future when he received the message.
  • Stealth Insult: Harry notes the resemblance of a child he dislikes to their mother, but he also notes that they "haven't inherited the best of them." It's unclear whether he's insulting the child or the mother.
  • Surprisingly Realistic Outcome: While Albus and Scorpius are in the past, they consider asking the Albus Dumbledore of this time period for help, but conclude that this is impossible because of the sheer complexity of the situation. It is agreed in their present that Dumbledore had very clear ideas about how things had to play out for everything to come together to ensure Voldemort's defeat, but if two people from the future come to him at this point in time, no matter how careful they are they can't guarantee that Dumbledore will learn nothing "incriminating" about the future, so they can't risk telling him anything.
  • Symbolic Distance: In the "Staircase Ballet" scene, after Albus is commanded to avoid Scorpius, the pair climb and descend two sets of moving staircases, each prop staircase gliding and turning in silence as the emotional distance and devastation between the two grows wider. According to movement director Steven Hoggett, "The scene is basically a story in itself. It affects people so much they assume the characters must have been speaking."
  • Sympathy for the Devil: Harry can't help but feel some pity and empathy for the Augurey. In his own words: "You'll always be an orphan. That never goes away."
  • Technology Marches On: In-Universe. In a scene in Act I, Hermione points out that a Time-Turner is nothing like the one she had when she was younger. Harry Lampshades the trope.
  • Teeth-Clenched Teamwork: Ron is willing to work with Malfoy to save Albus and Scorpius, but he openly resents him for bullying Hermione as a kid and threatens him to his face. He only stays civil because Hermione insists on it.
  • Time and Relative Dimensions in Space: The Time-Turner can move you through time but not space so you have to go to the location in the present before you go back in time.
  • Time Passes Montage: The fourth scene is a quick montage detailing the worst moments of Albus's dreadful four years at Hogwarts. He can't work a broomstick, he argues with his dad, Scorpius's mom dies, and by the end of, he wants nothing to do with the school. All of this is shown through rapid costume and set changes disguised with the cloaked ensemble dancing across the stage.
  • Timey-Wimey Ball: Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban implies that time travel results in a Stable Time Loop,note  but this play has time easily being changed. On the other hand, Hermione also mentions in Prisoner of Azkaban that Time-Turners were banned because wizards kept accidentally killing their past selves, so changing the past was always established as a possibility. In Act Two, Scorpius mentions "Professor Croaker's law", which apparently sets the furthest someone can safely travel back in time at five hours; presumably further travel cannot form a stable loop. This is compounded further when, after the first two acts clearly and unambiguously show that travel to the past creates Alternate Timelines, the climax depends on another Stable Time Loop: The villain and heroes travel to the past. The child heroes have no way of stopping the villain from changing time, thus preventing the Good Present that they know and love. Their solution is to send a message forward in time to Albus's father Harry. Harry gets the message and goes back in time to stop the villain's plan. Without Harry coming back in time, the villain would have succeeded in changing time so that the timeline in which Harry got the message never existed. Summarily, the only way for Harry to know to come back to the past was for Harry to come back to the past. Under the Time Travel methodology established earlier in the play, as soon as the villain and heroes travelled back to the past, all of time from that point forward should have changed, and adult-Harry never should have existed.
  • Took a Level in Jerkass:
    • Hermione takes one in Act II and loses it by the end of that Act. She even gets compared to Snape.
    • Harry himself, at times. We're supposed to understand this as his stress with work and his frustration at not being able to reach Albus, but he's quite unreasonable at a few moments, most infamously a scene towards the end of Act I where he tells Albus "sometimes I wish you weren't my son."
  • Tragic Keepsake: It's revealed that the only thing of Lily's that Harry has is the blanket in which Hagrid wrapped him up when he brought him to Privet Drive. Harry tells his son Albus that he brings out the blanket every Halloween's Eve to remember his mother's sacrifice. Turns out to be a Plot Device All Along when the blanket becomes the means through which Albus communicates with Harry when he is trapped back in time in 1981 on the eve of Voldemort's attempted murder of baby Harry.
  • Tragic Time Traveler: Albus, Scorpius, and Delphi steal an illegal, powerful Time Turner from the Ministry of Magic and attempt to ensure Cedric Diggory survived the Triwizard Tournament in Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire by stopping him from getting to the Triwizard Cup in the first place. What results is:
    • Attempt 1 fails, but changes time just enough that Albus gets sorted into Gryffindor instead of Slytherin (separating him from Scorpius and making him no happier than when he was in Slytherin), and Albus's cousins are erased from existence (since Ron ended up with Padma Patil instead of Hermione).
    • Attempt 2 succeeds, but results in Cedric becoming a Death Eater, leading to Voldemort successfully killing Harry and erasing Albus from existence. While Scorpius is popular in this timeline, he sees Voldemort's rule as the hellscape that it is, his father is much colder since he never had his Heel–Face Turn, and he misses Albus too much. Scorpius is able to travel back and stop the changes that created this timeline, leading him back to the original Slytherin Albus timeline.
    • Attempt 3 has Delphi reveal she was Evil All Along and, after getting stopped from interfering anymore in the Triwizard Tournament, brings Albus and Scorpius back with her to October 31, 1981, where she plans to stop her father Voldemort from making the attempt on Harry that destroyed his body. Harry and co. travel back with another Time Turner and stop her, but Harry, in order to not risk the timeline again, must stand by and watch his parents' original death at Voldemort's hands.
  • Traintop Battle: When Albus and Scorpius sneak out of the Hogwarts Express, they have a surprise encounter on the train's roof with the Trolley Witch, who tries to stop them using explosive pumpkin pies.
  • Uncanny Family Resemblance:
    • Enforced. The script specifically calls for Goblet of Fire-era Hermione to be played by the same actress as Rose.
    • Also invoked by Albus as proof that the "Voldemort's son" rumours are ridiculous: Scorpius looks like Draco.
  • Up the Real Rabbit Hole: Most of the characters (even those in the alternate timelines) acknowledge that the canon timeline is worth returning to because it is in some way significantly better to that alternate one. Scorpius, however, clearly sees his original timeline as the "real" one, with the alternate timelines as mistakes to be "fixed".
    Scorpius: ...I was in an alternate reality. We aren't. We're in the past.
  • Vagueness Is Coming: Bane warns Harry about a "dark cloud" around Albus. Harry takes this threat seriously and immediately assumes Scorpius is the dark cloud, despite McGonagall's noting that Bane could easily be reading the stars in a way that fits his desires.
  • Voodoo Shark: Later productions for the play add a line about Voldemort's daughter Delphi being the "ultimate Horcrux." While this theoretically could be used as an explanation for her existence despite how Out of Character it is for him, it creates another Plot Hole, in that if Delphi was a Horcrux, she would have been alive at the end of book seven and therefore Voldemort should not have died.
  • We Hardly Knew Ye: Craig Bowker barely shows up before he dies. Even in the end, Albus admits he didn't know him very well at all.
  • "Well Done, Son" Guy: This is the underlying motive for both Albus's and Scorpius's actions to varying degrees.
  • Wham Line:
    • Albus, Scorpius, and Delphi are talking to each other after Scorpius comes back from the second timeline. They start bringing up her tattoo, and Delphi explains it is a monster called an Augurey- and Scorpius realizes that someone using that name was in the timeline he just returned from.
    • When Harry asks Amos to see his niece Delphi (who has been "assisting" Albus), he replies, "I have no niece."
  • Wire Fu: Harry's and Draco's duel mainly consists of the two actors being flipped around on wires and lifted into the air to portray the two wizards dodging spells and being affected by levitation spells like Levicorpus. Chairs and tables are even lifted around on wires as the two throw them as projectiles.
  • Won't Take "Yes" for an Answer: Harry has been having Professor McGonagall spy on his son Albus using the Marauder's Map to keep him from his best friend, Scorpius Malfoy, and finally comes to see it as a bad idea, so he goes to McGonagall to have her help find Albus to apologize.
    Harry: I need to find my son. We need to.
    McGonagall: Harry, I've considered this and decided I want no part in it. Whatever you threaten—
    Harry: Minerva, I come here in peace, not war. I should never have spoken to you that way.
    McGonagall: I just don't think I can interfere in friendships and I believe—
  • World of No Grandparents: None of Albus's or Scorpius's grandparents appear in the play. Petunia has died, probably in her 50s. The only characters of the older generation who appear at all are McGonagall and Mr. Diggory (and Hagrid in flashbacks), neither of whom has living descendants.
  • Write Back to the Future: In Act IV, Harry discovers a message from the night of his parents' death written by Albus using Harry's childhood blanket.