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  • Abandon Shipping: Harry/Cho was swiftly sunk in this book, along with nearly all of its supporters. Since the book's release, the ship's appearance in fanfiction has mostly been as either a novelty pairing or for porn fics.
  • Accidental Aesop:
    • Know when your trauma makes it extremely difficult to have a relationship with another shellshocked person. Harry and Cho are still mourning Cedric, with Harry feeling guilty that Cedric died because of him — it was his idea to take the Triwizard trophy together. They end up incompatible because Cho keeps wanting to bring up Cedric's death, and Harry doesn't want to face reminders of it everywhere he goes.
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    • People should take the threat of a vicious leader coming back from the dead more seriously. Many fans treat Voldemort as a straightforward Climate Change Allegory, but the fear of a person like Voldemort threatening to wage war on a peaceful world is a very genuine concern.
  • Accidental Innuendo:
    • When Aunt Petunia sees Dudley after the Dementor attack:
      "What did he do to you, Diddy? Was it - was it you-know-what, darling? Did he use - his thing?"
    • Draco makes a barb saying "we'll be dogging your footsteps" (referencing Sirius turning into a dog). Dogging is a UK slang term for having sex in public places, knowing there are people nearby.
    • Following the Weasley twins' dramatic exit, Harry overhears one student declaring that "I might just do a Weasley" if classes get any duller.
    • In the film, what Snape says during Harry's first Occlumency lesson sounds somewhat suspect out of context:
      "I will attempt to penetrate your mind, you will attempt to resist. Prepare yourself!"
  • Alternative Character Interpretation:
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    • Luna, in the mistletoe scene in the Room of Requirement: Legitimately worried about Nargles, or covering for her dashed hopes that she could finally snag a kiss from someone?
    • Because of how little characterization she had, Marietta Edgecombe is subjected to this. Was Cho telling the truth that she only ratted out the DA because she didn't want her mother to lose her job, or was Cho lying in order to cover her ass? Or, like Cho in the movie, was she finally forced to crack under the effects of Veritaserum? (Probably not, since Snape mentioned that Umbridge used his last stash on Potter and not Edgecombe.) More to the point, why did she wait for months to do it, given as Umbridge put it, she willingly came to her office and started talking? If anything, the best time to rat anyone out would have been after the first meeting when Cho hexed her by accident. By waiting so long, Marietta made herself an accomplice and subject to more punishment if Umbridge was that sadistic. Likewise, was she actually Cho's friend? Harry is quick to note that Marietta was happy to throw Cho under the bus to save her own skin, which was a Jerkass thing to do. She could have warned Cho not to go to the meeting that night or given her some sort of message. Cho says that Marietta didn't mean it and wasn't thinking straight because of the pressure from her mother. The reader doesn't know who is right.
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    • How did the other Ravenclaws sans Cho react to one of their own betraying the DA, and by proxy Dumbledore? It directly makes Marietta responsible for Dumbledore leaving temporarily, and for Umbridge and the Inquisitorial Squad to come to power with the authority to dock points for no infraction whatsoever. We never hear of any What the Hell, Hero? or ostracism offscreen since the DA is effectively dissolved and everyone is dealing with Umbridge's rise to power, but it's noted that Marietta has to cover her face with balaclavas and scarves. Michael Corner at least was the only one willing to make up with Cho.
    • When Sirius encouraged Harry to set up the DA, what was his main reason for doing so? Was it to make sure Harry and his friends could protect themselves against Voldemort, or was it the chance to rebel against The Man once again, through his godson? Or maybe a little bit of both?
    • Molly asked Moody to find a Boggart in Grimmauld Place with his magical eye, and he found it. Did Moody see the Boggart in its (if such existed) true form? Or did Moody see it shapeshifting into a form of his own greatest fear? Considering Boggart only shapeshifts when it sees its victim, it could very well be the former, which means Moody might be the only known character ever in the franchise to see a Boggart in its true form! Too bad it's never mentioned again.
    • Cho mentions that Marietta is a "lovely person who made a mistake". Harry doesn't believe it because Marietta sold out her best friend. It's been said that Cho was previously shown to be surrounded by friends in previous books. But in this one she's by herself. Have all her Girl Posse abandoned her due to her grieving for Cedric? Or did they mistakenly think she needed space, and gave it to her? If so, is Marietta the only one who stuck around? It is heavily implied that Marietta only went to the DA because Cho made her, so maybe she was trying to support her grieving friend? And perhaps that is why Cho is so keen to defend her. Or a sadder possibility is that Cho was in a particularly vulnerable state and latched on to the nearest person, and ignoring danger signs because she didn't want to be left alone? They are still hanging out together by the next book however, suggesting there was genuine friendship to a degree.
    • Sirius mentions that his parents agreed with Voldemort's ideology, but never were Death Eaters themselves. Was this a case of Even Evil Has Standards, or were they just not willing to get their hands dirty? Also with Sirius's mother: was she always as Ax-Crazy as her portrait makes her out to be, or was this a result of losing both of her sons in the first war against Voldemort?
    • Was Bellatrix and Narcissa's treatment of Kreacher when he approached them genuine kindness on their part because he was the Black family House Elf? Or were they just being Nice to the Waiter in order to manipulate him into giving them whatever information he could on Harry and the Order of the Phoenix? The hints to the latter are the fact that Harry points out to Kreacher that he dishonored Regulus's memory by working with Death Eaters and Voldemort, since Regulus died to avenge Kreacher's torture. Kreacher himself gets a Heel Realization that he was disloyal to his old master.
  • Angst Dissonance:
    • Harry's Jerkass behavior in this book is one of the reasons this entry in the series is so divisive. It's likely that he has PTSD in this book. He was kidnapped, watched a classmate die, was tortured, and forced to fight an older wizard with over 40 years and a lot of power on him before barely escaping and being nearly murdered again, by someone he trusted and looked up to. And being 15 is quite difficult enough as it is without supernatural factors. And Voldemort spends the whole year trying to worm his way into Harry's mind, throwing the poor boy even more off-kilter. His angst is perfectly reasonable, but was still an annoyance to many readers, mostly because he takes his anger out on his friends, acts paranoid about them secretly trying to gloat about how ignorant he is or keeping him willfully ignorant, and fails to control his temper throughout an entire year despite countless insistence by everyone around him that he do so.
    • Subverted in the film, a rare instance where some prefer the film's portrayal to the book's. Harry's angst is downplayed to relative hesitation and uncertainty of himself as a leader. One little pep talk later and he gets over it.
    • Cho too. She's frequently attacked for being clingy and crying all the time. Try getting over a loved one being murdered at the age of fifteen, and falling for the person who was with them when it happened. Hermione's speech to Harry and Ron almost feels like Leaning on the Fourth Wall.
  • Applicability: Many real-world issues can be seen as analogous to the conflict between Harry and Umbridge, including sex education, creationism vs. evolutionary science, gun control, and political interference in academics.
  • Ass Pull: See the franchise's page.
  • Base-Breaking Character: Umbridge. Some people see her as a great villain (including Stephen King, who considers her the second greatest villain ever created). However, others see her as a one-dimensional strawman, a roadblock in Harry's conflict against Voldemort, and for being rather superfluous in the long run.
  • Broken Base:
    • Was Marietta's jinxing well-justified, or did her Freudian Excuse make it come across as cruel and unusual punishment and Disproportionate Retribution?
    • Was Umbridge raped by the centaurs? If she was, did she deserve it?
    • And the matter that wracks many an entry in the Headscratchers page: was the Prophecy worth all this convoluted cloak-and-dagger stuff that forms much of Harry's angst throughout the book and ultimately got Sirius killed?
    • The number of scenes that the film adaptation cut from the book, more than any of the other books in the series except for perhaps GOF. Some people think this bastardizes the source material. However, some were actually okay with it and felt that this helped tighten up the story and improved the pacing, since one of the criticisms about the book was that it had a lot of subplots that could have been left on the cutting room floor.
  • Cant Unhear It: Evanna Lynch as Luna. Notably in the audio books, Stephen Fry had given her an English accent and she's said to be from near where the Weasleys are. But Evanna's portrayal was so spot on that they had Rhys Ifans do an Irish accent too when he appeared as Xenophilius. JK Rowling even says that she wrote Luna with Evanna's voice in her mind after that. Doubly so in that Luna received a lot of Adaptational Attractiveness (she's cross-eyed with messy hair and described in unflattering terms) but most fans ignore it because the performance is just that convincing.
  • Captain Obvious Reveal: If you can believe it, Umbridge being responsible for the Dementor incident at the start of the book was actually meant to be a big reveal.
  • Catharsis Factor:
    • Umbridge getting dragged off by the centaurs, after pretty much an entire book of being a Complete Monster.
    • Dumbledore goes for Taking the Heat during the confrontation about the DA group, saying it was his idea. He then refuses to let Fudge arrest him, saying he's not coming quietly and breaking out of Azkaban would be a pain. When Fudge refuses to get the memo, Dumbledore hexes him and the other Aurors as well as Umbridge, with Minerva shielding Harry and Marrieta from the blasts. He apologizes for hexing Kingsley to keep the man's cover and tells Minerva that Fudge will regret it.
    • For some readers, if it doesn't come across as Karmic Overkill, Marietta still having those pustule marks for ratting out Cho and the rest of the DA, since Kingsley makes sure she remembers that and not the past seven months. Harry at least is grimly satisfied that no one in Ravenclaw House — or any of the other Houses— will forget that she was The Stool Pigeon.
    • Moody threatening Vernon, without raising his voice, that the Order will be looking after Harry so none of that child abuse that he heard about, please, or they will be visiting. It's implied from his tone that he's furious that Dumbledore let this situation carry on for as long as it had.
    • Lucius gets Karma Houdini Warranty. He's framed Ginny and brainwashed her using Tom Riddle's diary, got Buckbeak sentenced to death, and threatened Muggle children for fun. The idiot, however, ended up losing the prophecy of the Dark Lord to a bunch of underage wizards and witches and gets arrested when Dumbledore comes to offer backup support to the Order and Harry's friends. Even his bribes to Fudge can't save his ass this time. Draco tries to threaten Harry for doing this, even though it was Lucius's own stupidity, and Harry smugly points this out.
    • Malfoy and the other former members of the Inquisitorial Squad don't suffer any academic repercussions for being Umbridge's secret police, as far as we know. (It's possible, however, because Harry was too wrapped up in grieving Sirius to notice anything but the days passing by towards the end of the year.) They spend their short time getting hexed, shoved into Vanishing Cabinets, hit with Bat Bogey Hexes, and on the receiving end of Peeves' pranks. When the group tries to ambush Harry on the train, they stage this in front of a compartment of former DA members. By the time the DA is done with the Squad, they resemble slugs and are left up in the luggage compartment.
  • Complete Monster: Two of Harry Potter’s worst candidates make their debut here.
    • Bellatrix Lestrange is a psychopathic Death Eater who seems to be motivated primarily by her desire to inflict as much pain on as many people as possible in the name of Voldemort's cause. Bellatrix, gleeful cruelty incarnate, has a special fondness for torturing people with the Cruciatus curse, and tortured Neville Longbottom's parents to the point where they exist in near-comas, and will never recognize their own son again. She is also an accomplished arsonist, burning down multiple residences basically just for the sake of it. She's the cause of death for half of her non-Death-Eater family members, including Sirius Black and Nymphadora Tonks, as well as Dobby, and delights in the torment these deaths cause.
    • Dolores Jane Umbridge is a domineering and abusive matron figure and a bureaucrat whose pettiness and personal failings cause catastrophic harm to those under her control, all while maintaining a kind, grandmotherly veneer. In Order of the Phoenix, she becomes a teacher at Hogwarts and forces students who speak up against the Ministry of Magic—or who just displease her—to use the Blood Quill, which uses the writer's blood as ink and can result in permanent scarring. At one point she threatens to use the illegal Cruciatus curse, which has been shown to cause unimaginable pain, and reveals that she sent the two Dementors after Harry and his cousin. In Deathly Hallows, she willingly supports the Death Eater-controlled Ministry, and holds hastily rushed and sadistic trials against Muggle-borns, where she accuses them of stealing magic and gleefully sentences them to the Potter-verse's worst fate, the soul-stealing Dementor's Kiss.
  • Contested Sequel: Opinions vary from 'interesting, dark and edgy plot,' to 'overly padded and melodramatic.' The interesting elements (Sirius' backstory as a White Sheep, the Marauders getting a Cerebus Retcon, the Department of Mysteries, the backstory of the Order, Occlumency, the DA) are among the best in the series, but many lament how little of it carried over into the next book, making it feel superfluous on the whole.
  • Cry for the Devil:
    • Sirius mentions that he feels sorry for his little brother Regulus, who vanished after joining the Death Eaters. He says that Regulus didn't know what he was signing up for, and probably got killed for desertion. Of all the family members, his little brother gets the least amount of hatred. Sirius never found out that Regulus actually pulled a Heel–Face Turn and pulled a Heroic Sacrifice to sabotage Voldemort because he ordered Kreacher to never tell anyone.
    • Likewise, Phineas Nigellus Black is the Token Evil Teammate of the headmasters. He only agrees to help Dumbledore under protest, and takes every opportunity to mock Harry for being so immature. Then he learns Sirius died, and vanishes from his painting. Harry knows that he's wandering around Grimmauld Place's portraits, calling for his descendant because he can't believe it.
    • Marietta is a Dirty Coward, The Stool Pigeon, and The Quisling, willing to let her own best friend get expelled to win favor with Umbridge and save her mother's job. She also gets a bunch of painful pimples that never vanish because she betrayed the D.A. for such a petty reason, and was willing to let Cho take the fall. It can be sad to see the moment where Fudge sees them, has a Freak Out, and Marietta wails because she can't even talk without making the curse worse. Afterward, we at least know that karma got to her because word got out that it was her fault Dumbledore had to leave the school.
    • Dudley after the Dementor attack. Yes, he's a little shit most of the time, but no one deserves that.
    • Snape, after the revelation of the bullying he went through. It is NOT REMOTELY an excuse for the way he treated his students, but it does explain why he hated James Potter and Sirius so much.
  • Draco in Leather Pants:
    • Aside from the obvious, Bellatrix is treated like a goddess by Fan Fiction. It's because Evil Is Sexy. Her film portrayal doesn't hurt either—adding to the aforementioned effect.
    • Snape has a very sympathetic backstory, but Fandom sometimes will go out of its way to blame every one else and sugarcoat his part things that went wrong in his life.
    • Marietta as well to a smaller extent (since we know very little about her). The fandom often likes to imagine her as a tortured girl afraid of her mother losing her job at the Ministry — when there's very little evidence pointing to that in the book. Whatever her motivations, she still went to Umbridge of her own free will knowing people would be punished, including her own best friend.
  • Ending Fatigue: Not so much the actual ending, but the climactic chapter ("Beyond the Veil"), which is one of the longest chapters in the series, consists mostly of the kids and Death Eaters simply running around the Department of Mysteries and shooting spells at one another. One person dies at the very end of the chapter (Sirius), but after the dust is settled Harry and his friends suffer no lasting damage.
  • Ensemble Dark Horse: Luna Lovegood. Originally only to have importance in this book, by the end of the series she is the sixth member of the True Companions group and the only non-Gryffindor to be in it. Luna's so popular, she managed to make her Quibbler critters a popular source of Arbitrary Skepticism jokes in the fandom, and many fans were disappointed that she never discovers a Crumple-Horned Snorkack during her time as a Magizoologist. Evanna Lynch also became one of the cast, as J. K. Rowling found her casting so perfect she said that whenever she wrote Luna, Evanna's voice played in her mind.
    • A smaller example, but in the film there's a blonde haired Slytherin girl who briefly makes an appearance during the Twins' firework scene. Despite being an extra with no name, dialogue or even being listed in the credits (she's played by Chloe Rich), she has gained somewhat of a fan following. She was so popular, she became the inspiration for the Fanon design for O.C. Stand-in Daphne Greengrass.
  • Fan-Preferred Cut Content: The battle in the Department of Mysteries was filmed and edited down, complete with a duel between Sirius and Bellatrix. Most fans wish it had been kept in its entirety.
  • Genius Bonus: During Harry's trip to the Ministry of Magic, one of the passengers on the elevator is carrying a fire breathing chicken, a reference to the basan of Japanese mythology.
  • Growing the Beard: This did it for the remaining critics, if PoA and GoF failed to do so. The film adaptation, as the first one where David Yates took the helm, was noted to be a real step in the right direction.
  • Harsher in Hindsight:
    • Remember Molly's Boggart? Fred dies during the Battle of Hogwarts. In fact, it's even worse than that in a way—she could never imagine Fred and George being separated, even in death.
    • Due to Rowling's views on transgender women, the joke about boys not being allowed in the girls' dormitory comes off a lot harsher.
  • Ho Yay: Dudley seems to think that Cedric was Harry's boyfriend, the way that Harry was calling out for him in his sleep. Harry dispels him of the notion, nearly using his wand to do so, but Cedric's death weighs on him for the rest of the book. The nightmares involve him reliving Cedric's death, and Harry trying to constantly save him. He thinks that he has a chance with Cho, only to feel guilty that she's crying all the time because it's his fault she's that upset, and a bit insulted when Hermione tells him Cho is interested because he was the last person to see Cedric alive. The scene where Harry asks for Cho to not talk about Cedric over their Valentine's date is reminiscent of someone not wanting to remember an ex.
  • Informed Wrongness:
    • Cho for calling Hermione out on disfiguring her only friend and pointing out that she should have told the members of the DA that the sign-up sheet was jinxed. When the others signed, all Hermione told them was that if they sign, they are agreeing not to tell. By jinxing the sign-up sheet without telling them, Hermione tricked not just Marietta, but all the members of the DA, into essentially signing a contract without truly explaining the terms.
    • Sirius is submitted to a lot of this in Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix with many characters mocking him for his "uselessness" to the Order while Hermione and Mrs. Weasley note how reckless he is. From what we see, Sirius was capable enough to be two years on the lam, disciplined enough to keep his sanity while imprisoned in Azkaban and his recklessness stems mostly from being cooped up in the house he hated and being submitted to Condescending Compassion from everyone around him, with Hermione expressing doubts about the advice of a full-fledged wizard. Indeed, had Harry listened to Sirius instead of Dumbledore or others, by using that Mirror he could have verified Sirius being safe and alive instead of charging at the Ministry. Dumbledore outright admits that Sirius was right for wanting to involve Harry on information with the Order.
  • Jerks Are Worse Than Villains: Umbridge may well be the Trope Codifier, to the point where nearly every other example in another work of fiction is compared to her. She isn't a Death Eater or Voldemort supporter (not in this book, anyway) but the sadistic pleasure she takes in her abuse of power makes her far more loathed than even Voldemort, since every reader has had to deal with at least one person who is like Umbridge, but no one would ever come face to face with a Voldemort in real life.
  • Launcher of a Thousand Ships: Since this introduced some new characters, it also launched a few new ships. Most prominent was Harry/Luna and Neville/Luna.
  • Love to Hate: Dolores Umbridge. She's such a loathsome and delightfully evil villain (and a terrible teacher) for whom the reader can revel in every time she gets her comeuppance. Imelda Staunton's performance in the film increases this; where she has a sweet, grandmotherly appearance that heavily contrasts with her sadistic personality.
  • Memetic Mutation: Umbridge's "I will have order!" She says it once in the movie and never in the book. Tellingly, by the time the next film was made, they saw fit to include an Umbridge doll in Weasleys' Wizard Wheezes which constantly squeals "I will have order!"
  • Memetic Psychopath: Between the jinxing of Marietta and the popular theory that Umbridge was gang-raped by the centaurs with her having a victorious smile afterword, some fans like to think there's a sociopathic side to Hermione. The film even has a scene where Hermione giddily says "it's sort of exciting isn't it? Breaking the rules."
  • Moe: Luna, for her kindness and quirkiness, Nigel for being an enthusiastic and overlooked supporter of Harry's (like the Creevey brothers), Neville for being mocked, but staying strong, brave and kind, and Michael from the film, especially in Fred and George's eyes.
  • Moral Event Horizon: Dolores Jane Umbridge has long since passed over it. She starts by cheerfully calling Harry a liar, forcing him to cut into his own flesh and do lines with his own blood, tries to sabotage Gryffindor's chances of winning the Quidditch Cup by removing three of their best players, cruelly mocks Hagrid's teaching, gleefully tries to sack Professor Trelawney (and thoroughly enjoys her despondency), takes over from Dumbledore, tries to arrest Hagrid for no reason, nearly kills McGonagall in a sneak attack, and finally tries to used the Cruciatus Curse on Harry. Oh, and it turns out she was the one who set Dementors on Harry and Dudley in the beginning. So, take your pick. Oh, and guess what? She gets worse in Deathly Hallows. In the movie, there's even a scene that shows that she forces first years to use the Blood Quill.
  • Narm:
    • Some found Harry's meltdown in Dumbledore's office after Sirius died to be this. It looked less like he was venting his anger and more like one of Dudley's temper tantrums in the first book. The earlier rant in Grimmauld Place is like this too, with most of Harry's dialogue in block capitals — and some fans have jokingly nicknamed it 'Caps Lock Harry'.
    • Umbridge is so blatant and sometimes cartoonish with how evil she is, it's any wonder it took so long for her to meet her downfall.
    • Harry earns a "nice one, James!" for knocking Lucius Malfoy's wand sheath out of his hand. Not the wand. Just the cane that serves as its sheath.
    • The film version of the duel between Dumbledore and Voldemort; visually stunning? Absolutely. Intense? Oh, yes indeed. But there is that one part where Voldemort looks like he's belching a giant fireball at Dumbledore...
    • Then in the possession scene, Voldemort makes some weird faces in front of what looks to be fast-moving grey clouds, like he's in some 2000s music video. We also see him as Harry's mirror image, wearing Harry's hoodie and all.
    • The Black Quill, where students have what they write down carved into their skin. Some people think that this came off as the book trying too hard to be Darker and Edgier. Adding to the Narm was Harry's Wangst phase in the book, which makes it hard not to picture him believing that being forced to cut himself is actually an Unishment.
  • Never Live It Down:
    • The release of the fifth book and the "Snape's Worst Memory" chapter has become the defining image of James Potter's character among the book's fans and especially Snape's fans, rather than the positive way he was regarded and described in the first four books as a great wizard, loyal friend and good father. The fact that Rowling never bothered to flesh out James's life with more flashbacks showing him in a more positive light (after he "grew out of" his bully phase) doesn't help.
    • Similarly, Snape being portrayed in the same chapter as both a loner and a victim during his Hogwarts years is usually how fans tend to portray him. Despite multiple characters mentioning that he had some friends and not just Lily Evans and was highly skilled in magic even then (in fact, it's obvious that the only reason he's alone in this scene is so he can study in peace), fans more often than not ignore this in favor of a friendless defensive Snape.
    • Hermione jinxing the DA sign-up sheet so that it permanently disfigures potential traitors has made some readers see Hermione as a sociopath with a Judge, Jury, and Executioner mentality.
    • Poor Cho. She's frequently called a Clingy Jealous Girl stemming from an incident where Harry was merely Innocently Insensitive.
    • Harry himself. Fans never got past his personality as Caps!Lock Harry, and to the extent that he's not remembered as a Vanilla Protagonist, he's remembered as a Wangst-y perpetually complaining Emo Teen, who while having genuine problems, comes off as incredibly immature and petulant, so much so that Alan Moore satirized him this way.
    • Moody being the first Order member to fall during the final battle. Due to this fans often question the validity of his reputation as a legendary Death Eater catcher. Although it also is likely to do with having spent most of the previous year in a trunk and clearly being well past his prime.
  • Realism-Induced Horror: Umbridge is perhaps the most universally despised character in the series. Her authoritarianism, child abuse, and Sadist Teacher Villain with Good Publicity status make her hit home in a personal way. While people like the Big Bad Voldemort are unlikely to be encountered in real life, Umbridge represents a far more mundane, far more common kind of villainy. On top of that, her insistence on standardised testing and how it was portrayed as a soul crushing chore on par with fighting Death Eaters amplified the hate even more due to how true it is for anyone pursuing higher education. Stephen King, reviewing the book that introduced her, wrote:
    Stephen King: A great fantasy novel can't exist without a great villain, and while You-Know-Who (sure we do: Lord Voldemort) is a little too far out in the supernatural ozone to qualify, the new Defence Against the Dark Arts teacher at Hogwarts does just fine in this regard. The gently smiling Dolores Umbridge, with her girlish voice, toadlike face, and clutching, stubby fingers, is the greatest make-believe villain to come along since Hannibal Lecter. One needn't be a child to remember The Really Scary Teacher, the one who terrified us so badly that we dreaded the walk to school in the morning, and we turn the pages partly in fervent hopes that she will get her comeuppance... but also in growing fear of what she will get up to next. For surely a teacher capable of banning Harry Potter from playing Quidditch is capable of anything.
  • "Seinfeld" Is Unfunny: When the book first came out, it was truly shocking when Lupin and Moody showed up as part of the vanguard to escort Harry from the Dursleys’, since characters introduced after the first book (Sirius excepted) rarely showed up again before this point, and the Defence Against the Dark Arts teachers in particular were all written out of the story and not mentioned again. So these characters who were seemingly thought to be oneshots actually appearing again was a sign that the books were stepping up their gear and no longer episodic. Of course, now that the series is over and done with and new readers don’t have to endure the Three-Year Summer it can be very hard to understand this, and even older readers often forget that it takes this long for many cross-book Chekhovs Guns to start firing.
  • Strawman Has a Point:
    • The Ministry's claim that they need to interfere in Hogwarts in order to fix various problems with the way the school is run. They're doing it more for personal gain and paranoia about Dumbledore, but some argue that if a real school was run like Hogwarts (for example, letting a teacher bring dangerous animals to class), it probably would have been shut down.
    • Thanks in no small part to Ginny's bright idea to name their secret battle-oriented group "Dumbledore's Army", despite knowing full well that the Ministry is paranoid Dumbledore is plotting to usurp them, Umbridge ends up making a good case for Dumbledore's Army being a precursor to exactly that. Sure, she's wrong, but our heroes' poor judgement made her argument a valid one.
  • They Wasted a Perfectly Good Character:
    • Part of the reason why the Sneak Jinx was so controversial was that Marietta had very little characterization. If she had acted more hostile on-page, it would have made her less Unintentionally Sympathetic.
    • Sirius, an incredibly talented wizard who is also an animagus, and was noted by many people to be very intelligent gets reduced to being stuck in the house for almost an entire year, because he is a wanted criminal (nevermind that he lived two years on the lam, partly right under the ministry’s nose and broke into Hogwarts successfully with even Dumbledore not knowing how he did it, and now he even would have had support from members of the ministry on his side), with even Harry telling Sirius to not leave the house anymore because of a remark from Draco that leads him to believe that Lucius knows about his disguise (as if Lucius Malfoy would have had nothing better to do than tailing every dog in the UK on the off chance it might be Sirius). He essentially left being imprisoned in a house he hates, doesn’t get to do anything of value, gets crap from everyone for his circumstances (which really aren’t his fault) and then only shows up to be killed off. One really gets the feeling that J.K. Rowling didn’t know what to do with him anymore.
  • They Wasted a Perfectly Good Plot:
    • After more than a book length's buildup of the Department of Mysteries, which was foreshadowed in Book 4 and mentioned suggestively like many Chekhov's Gun in Harry Potter's books, we get a spooky chapter describing the various weird rooms and the possible secrets they may contain. Then it ends up being a simple background for a fight scene and is never mentioned again in the later books. First time readers expected complex Worldbuilding and more details about the magical lore from the place but it becomes entirely marginal despite the buildup.
    • Despite being the titular group, very little of the book focuses on the Order or its backstory beyond tantalizing Noodle Incident. The novel mostly focuses on Harry's Emo Teen phase and Sirius' backstory as the White Sheep of a Pureblood family. Many felt disappointed that the book, and later books, don't tell us more about how effective they were, what they actually do to help people and most importantly when and how the Potters and Longbottoms thrice defied Voldemort.
    • The start of Book 5 introduced the idea and possibility that Harry could be expelled by the Ministry on flimsy charges and instead spend time at Grimmauld Place with Sirius and hang out with the Order. Many fans felt that this would have made a much more interesting plot, and it would have been cool for Harry to spend more time with Sirius, especially since Harry never does complete Hogwarts and drops out of Year Seven anyway and his wand snaps anyway, which likewise could have provided an avenue to seed the wandlore Worldbuilding earlier and far more organically. Furthermore, Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them the Prequel had a hero who was a Hogwarts reject who became a magic scholar proving that one can have a career after being expelled. Many felt that it would have compensated for the general frustration of the parts in Hogwarts under Umbridge's tyranny and provided a more interesting story and would likewise have made Sirius' death at the end even more impactful. The fact that the author has Hermione mocking Sirius for secretly, possibly, expecting this, only made some readers wish for this plot only more strongly.
    • The whole build-up in the middle part of the book, that Voldemort could be possessing Harry and the importance given in the plot to learning Occlumency is casually handwaved at the start of Book 6 with Dumbledore noting that Voldemort wouldn't try planting fake visions again. Many felt that this was a cheap resolution to a huge dramatic can of worms, made a whole newly introduced section of magic (Occlumency) a giant "Shaggy Dog" Story that had no bearing on the series' end (since Harry doesn't use it to defeat Voldemort) and likewise removed any tension, ambiguity, and risk on the question of whether Harry could decipher true and false memories, where Book 7 once again has Harry stumbling around camping in the forest until Voldemort's visions show him where the Plot Coupon is and likewise updates the hero of his activities and movements which allows the hero to keep his Advantage Ball rather than work for his victory.
    • In the movie, the decision to have Cho betray the DA rather than Marietta - and later reveal her to be under the influence of Veritaserum - is potentially even more interesting. Sadly, Cho disappears from the story after this and it lacks a real payoff, redemption or even apology from Harry (although, he and the others shared a regretful look when this is revealed). Thankfully she does feature in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, so this isn't her final appearance in the films. There, she and Harry are shown to be on good terms, implying that he did at least apologise off screen.
    • Cho's characterization overall is something of wasted potential. She's a young woman dealing with her boyfriend being murdered, the government trying to cover it up, and having romantic feelings for the boy who was with him when she died. She joins a secret club to learn defensive magic, and has a best friend who disapproves of this. But most of what we know about her Hermione just explains to Harry, and she doesn't get a real resolution after their relationship ends.
  • Trailer Joke Decay: The "who are you and what have you done with Hermione Granger?" exchange played in most trailers.
  • Unintentionally Sympathetic:
    • Everyone plays Marietta's betrayal of the DA as a Moral Event Horizon, but according to Cho, she did it out of fear that her mother would lose her job. Of course, her mother's job is being a stooge for Umbridge in installing surveillance over the Floo Network which more or less leads Harry and others in the fandom to string the World's Smallest Violin (especially since Umbridge has made it harder for genuinely struggling and upstanding folks like Lupin to get legal work). Harry brings up how the Weasley's father Arthur works at the ministry, yet none of them ratted out the DA. However, given that Arthur is a member of the Order, disagrees with what the Ministry is doing, and deliberately refused to get a higher paying position (thus keeping his family poor by Wizarding World standards), it's suggested that he wouldn't care much about his job and would encourage what his children were doing. Given that Harry has shown to be subject to Protagonist-Centered Morality in this book (he and Ron refusing to help Graham Montague after what the Weasley twins' prank nearly killed him), he most likely didn't consider the very real possibility that there are people in the Ministry whose jobs are even less secure than Arthur Weasley's. Especially since Marietta's mother values her job more to want to be more successful and supports Umbridge, and wouldn't want to jeopardize her career. There's also the matter of it being heavily implied that Marietta didn't even want to join the DA in the first place and was pressured into going to support Cho.
    • While Sirius' treatment of Kreacher is painted in a poor light, it should be noted that while he was mostly just grumpy and uncaring towards him and never abused his authority or fired the house elf, Kreacher was the antagonist in their relationship, unceasingly insulting him and his friends, including calling Hermione a mudblood, and plots his murder at the first opportunity. It's little wonder Sirius doesn't treat him with love and respect. Part of the problem is a House Elf's Blue-and-Orange Morality — only loyal to those who are kind to them. Sirius hated his house and his family, and that included Kreacher.
  • Unintentionally Unsympathetic: Although Cho is treated badly by Harry at parts of the story, there are some who feel even less sympathy for her in the parts where we're supposed to. She starts playing mind games with Harry over a misunderstanding; Harry saying he's meeting Hermione later. And since he is trying to bring her along, it should be obvious that it's not a romantic thing. But rather than ask why he's meeting her to make sure what they're on is a date, she resorts to trying to make Harry jealous of Cedric! She uses her dead boyfriend for emotional blackmail against the boy who saw him die, and keeps pushing the issue when Harry is uncomfortable talking about it. The way Hermione explains the situation suggests that Harry is supposed to be in the wrong for not explaining things when he was Innocently Insensitive at worst, and Cho is to be seen as justified in her mind games.
  • What Do You Mean, It's Not Political?: A major incident occurs where the Government decides to butt in and turn Hogwarts into a police state, and one of the people in charge has a firm believe that torture gets results. Considering this was released in 2003, you won't be faulted for thinking this book was an allegory for the post-9/11 measures, particularly the Patriot Act and the torture that goes on at Guantanamo Bay.
  • Why Would Anyone Take Him Back?:
    • Invoked by Harry in a friendship example; he calls out Cho for trying to justify what Marietta did and still being friends with her: "She sold everyone out, including you!" It'd have been one thing if Marietta had told on them when they first met in the Hog's Head, since she wasn't fully invested and the group wasn't officially formed yet, but she saw how the group was helping Cho deal with her grief for Cedric over months. Umbridge said anyone breaking the team decree would be expelled, and she's only shown favoring the Slytherins. You can't blame Harry for asking Cho why she'd defend someone that would stab her in the back, and stay friends.
    • More realistically, Harry tries to pursue Cho, who is still grieving Cedric. Harry is also grieving him and feeling guilty about Cedric's death. While they have chemistry, they have a nasty fight over a misunderstanding on Valentine's Day, and Harry never gets the chance to explain himself. While they make up and Harry thinks they have a chance, Hermione tells Harry bluntly that Cho sees Harry as someone to help her cope with losing her boyfriend. Then Marietta rats out the D.A., and Harry no longer is attracted to Cho after she tries to explain Marietta's actions.


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