Revelio! We Uncover the Most Significant Plot Holes in the 'Harry Potter' Universe

Jamie Lerner - Author
By

Apr. 21 2023, Published 10:08 a.m. ET

Ron glares at Harry in 'Goblet of Fire'
Source: Warner Bros.

One of the most recognizable, if not the most recognizable, pieces of modern-day IP is Harry Potter. Many of us are no longer fans of J.K. Rowling after her transphobic rhetoric came to light, but we’ve found ways to continue to love Harry’s magical world without supporting her. Even still, HBO decided to develop a new Harry Potter series with one season per book, so we need to remember every plot hole.

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Between the series’ seven books and eight films, there’s a huge IP to keep track of, so it’s no surprise that JKR had some plot holes and retroactive continuity. And in a magical world where it seems like anything is possible, Harry Potter has some pretty significant plot holes. So here are some of the most popular and prominent plot holes in the Harry Potter series.

Harry, Ron, and Hermione in 'Sorcerer's Stone'
Source: Warner Bros.

Plot hole #1: Harry’s parents didn’t need to die; the story we know and love could have never existed!

Lily and James Potter in 'Harry Potter'
Source: Warner Bros.

The whole premise of James and Lily Potter’s death came when their “friend,” Peter Pettigrew, betrayed them. Peter was their Secret Keeper, tasked with keeping their location a secret so that no one could find them. But in Deathly Hallows, Bill and Fleur are each other’s Secret Keepers, which minimizes the need for a third party. The Harry Potter series would have never happened if James and Lily simply did that instead of trusting Peter!

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Plot hole #2: The Trace is very inconsistent.

The Trace is explained throughout the seven Harry Potter books as a way for the Ministry of Magic to track underage magic. However, in Half-Blood Prince, Dumbledore explains to Harry that it can’t actually tell who performed the magic, just that there was magic performed around an underage wizard. Harry only gets in trouble using underage magic with Dobby in The Chamber of Secrets and when he performs the Patronus in Order of the Phoenix.

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Dementor attacks Dursley in 'Order of the Phoenix'
Source: Warner Bros.
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The Trace makes it nearly impossible for Harry to travel around without Voldemort’s followers knowing in The Deathly Hallows. But in the films and books, several wizards and witches use magic around Harry. For example, Hagrid uses magic to give Dudley a tail (hilariously, of course) in Sorcerer's Stone, and both Harry and Hagrid should have been clocked by the ministry, but they weren't.

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Plot hole #3: If a group of 11-year-olds can get to the sorcerer’s stone, surely an accomplished dark wizard can do it.

Hermione, Ron, and Harry face the chess game in 'Sorcerer's Stone'
Source: Warner Bros.

The professors laud Harry, Ron, and Hermione for taking down a fully grown mountain troll, so they honestly should not underestimate 11-year-olds. With just a bit of curiosity and some basic spells, three first-year Hogwarts students can get to the sorcerer’s stone. They surpass the most difficult challenges set by the professors in just a few hours. Dumbledore should have done a bit more to protect that stone.

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Plot hole #4: Colin Creevey is using muggle technology at Hogwarts.

Colin Creevey with his camera next to Hermione in 'Chamber of Secrets'
Source: Warner Bros.

In The Goblet of Fire, we learn that muggle technology doesn’t work at Hogwarts, which explains why students can’t call their parents or communicate via email. But if that were the case, Colin’s muggle camera shouldn’t work at Hogwarts either. It's plausible that his camera doesn't work, although it would be silly to pretend to use a dysfunctional camera. Perhaps a professor enchanted it to make him feel more at home?

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Plot hole #5: How come no one else noticed Peter Pettigrew on the Marauder’s Map?

Peter Pettigrew on the Marauder's Map
Source: Warner Bros.

You’d think that Fred and George would notice their brother sleeping with a man named Peter Pettigrew every night on the Marauder’s Map. But no, not until they give Harry the map does anyone notice that Peter’s been wandering the castle for years. Perhaps Fred and George aren’t that observant, but considering their passion for teasing Ron and immense curiosity, we imagine they would have seen Peter at some point.

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Plot hole #6: ‘The Goblet of Fire’ doesn’t need the Triwizard Tournament. And Dumbledore could have saved Harry (and Cedric).

The Goblet of Fire is the epitome of “it could have been an email.” We love that Voldy and Barty Jr. create this elaborate plot to enter underage Harry into the Triwizard Tournament, lead him to victory, and then portkey him to Tom Riddle Sr.’s graveyard. But let’s be honest, Barty as Mad-Eye Moody already won Harry’s confidence and could have just as easily led him to a portkey without the tournament.

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Harry and Mad-Eye Moody (really Barty Crouch Jr. as Mad-Eye) in 'Goblet of Fire'
Source: Warner Bros.
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Not to mention, the plan of entering Harry into the tournament isn’t a very good one. What was the punishment for disobeying the magical contract forcing Harry to compete? Dumbledore is the greatest wizard in the world, and he knows that people want Harry dead; surely he could have figured out a way to pull Harry out of the tournament.

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Plot hole #7: The Order of the Phoenix picks the worst possible plan to transport Harry to the Burrow.

The Seven Potters in 'Deathly Hallows'
Source: Warner Bros.

To avoid The Trace, the Order decides to become seven Harry Potters by taking Polyjuice Potion. While we loved seeing Daniel Radcliffe show off his acting skills, it would have been much simpler to transform Harry into a random muggle and put him on the Tube (London's underground metro). Imagine Death Eaters trying to navigate the Tube system—they may be able to perform some of the most complicated spells, but when faced with a map of London, we doubt they could navigate it.

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Bonus plot holes: Many of the wizarding world’s problems could be solved with magic that already exists!

Part of what makes plot holes so common in Harry Potter is that magic can solve everything! For example, the Ministry's whole debacle of not knowing who followed Voldemort and who was under the Imperius Curse could have easily been solved with Veritaserum, the truth-telling serum. If Umbridge can justify using it on students, surely the Ministry can justify using it on potential Death Eaters!

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Karkarov's Trial in 'Goblet of Fire'
Source: Warner Bros.
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It’s also surprising that Polyjuice Potion wasn’t more widely used (and protected against). If Barty can Polyjuice himself into Mad-Eye, couldn’t Voldemort have Polyjuiced himself into anyone to get into Hogwarts and take out Harry? Also, what’s to stop anyone from just taking a little Polyjuice Potion and walking into the Ministry of Magic? There are so many possibilities.

We propose that instead of a remake, HBO just gives us a Polyjuice Potion-fueled Freaky Friday-esque plot.

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Of course, the Time-Turner is also a major point of contention in the books. If Harry and Hermione had access to go back in time, why not go back to when Harry’s parents were killed? Why didn’t Dumbledore use one to stop Voldemort from rising? J.K. Rowling later said that the Time-Turner did give her more problems than it solved, so she stated that in canon, all the Time-Turners were destroyed by the Ministry.

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Hermione and Harry use the Time-Turner in 'Prisoner of Azkaban'
Source: Warner Bros.
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But that still doesn’t answer why Dumbledore thought it necessary to give one to Hermione for her classes but not to use one to save thousands of lives.

Regardless, no matter how many plot holes there are within the magical world of Harry Potter, we still can’t help but be enchanted by it.

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