Let’s get something straight right off the bat. This article is not going to be a negative dislike-fueled diatribe against the original Harry Potter movies. I love the movies. Since I was too young to read the books on my own when the franchise became a global phenomenon, the films were my ticket into the wizarding world. I have memorized the entire first two films and large portions of the rest of the series. I host marathons of the film every year. I saw most of them in theatres within a week of their opening. I love the films more than I love most things. However, even someone as accommodating and positive as myself can admit that there are some differences between the films and books that truly need to be discussed. And I think that this is the perfect platform in which to discuss them.
In this article, we will be going through 25 differences between the original Harry Potter films and books that I, personally, feel are worth noting. Topics will range from serious changes to silly and slight alterations. But all will be considered seriously and discussed both briefly and in as much detail that we can manage. After all, dissecting and discussing adaptations is a geeks favorite pastime. And what is a Potterhead, if not some of the biggest geeks of all? So, wear that label proudly as we dive into these 25 striking differences between the Harry Potter films and their literary counterparts.
25 Hermione's Periwinkle Dress
Now, in all honesty. I am not really that bothered by the fact that Hermione’s dress was pink in the films rather than the original periwinkle. However, some fans were absolutely distraught by the change. By the third film, a color palette for the golden trio had been established. Harry was blue, Ron was red, and Hermione was pink. This color palette is, more or less, maintained throughout the films and the similarities in Ron and Hermione’s hues links them, in a way (as can be seen by the elements of pink in Ron’s Yule Ball dress robes). Having Hermione show up to the Yule ball in blue would be jarring considering her established palette and connection to Ron.
24 Where Is Peeves?
I know that they tried to include Peeves but that the practicalities of his scenes caused more trouble than it was worth. But I still strongly feel that his constant songs and jokes were a much-needed bit of levity and comic relief in some of the darker moments in the earlier books. The joy and mischievous nature provided by the poltergeist helped alleviate a lot of the tension in the second book and I think that more jokes should have been made about the absurd idea that Harry would be the heir of Slytherin. Everyone was far too serious about that ridiculous accusation.
23 Why Are The Adults So Old?
The adults had to be aged up in order for Alan Rickman to play Snape. However, aging up Lily and James completely changes their story. They were just children, barely older than Harry was at the end of the series, when they were struck down. Having them be middle-aged robs them of the tragedy and injustice that comes from their ends. Voldemort stole their lives when they were little more than children. James sacrificed himself for his family when he was barely out of Hogwarts. Their age is an important factor in how unjust their story truly was and removing that takes away a bit of its impact.
22 Where Is Draco's Redemption?
Draco deserved his moment of redemption. His deserved the mention of his hand in the destruction of Voldemort. It was Draco’s wand that brought down the dark lord. The son of Tom’s lackey was the key to his undoing. The mirror to Harry got his shot at redemption via wand ownership. That moment was such an important moment for it embodied one of the core themes of the books: We are not our parents. We are our choices. And it just breaks my heart that the films robbed Draco of the choice to be his own person. Yes, he resisted his father's ways but, in the end, he went along with them. And that hurts.
21 Why Is Ron Comic Relief?
Yes, Ron did have a lot of comical moments in the books. But he was also loyal, strong, and brave. And yet almost every moment of his bravery and strength was either removed outright or given to Hermione. Some of Ron’s lines were actually changed between the books and films to pit him against Hermione rather than have him stand up for her. Each and every book is utterly brimming with cases of Ron standing up for what is right and yet we barely get to see what a good man he is in the films. He truly is one of the most loyal and brave characters and it is truly disappointing that his character was, more or less, reduced to comedic moments for a majority of the films.
20 Voldemort Was Supposed To Perish Like A Man
One of the only things I truly outright dislike about the films was the way in which Voldemort’s last moments were handled. He was supposed to fall down like a man. Like your average joe. There was supposed to be nothing special about his end because his loss was supposed to show that no matter what any of us do to ward off our last moments, they are coming for us (as well as the fact that the all and mighty dark lord was a coward when it came down to it and his biggest fear was the end). I mean, that was the entire point of the Tale of the Three Brothers in which the entire final book was focused upon. The end is coming for us all and in those final moments, we are all equally powerless.
19 What Happened To Ginny?
I have nothing against Bonnie Wright, I think she did an absolutely fantastic job with what she was given and is one of my favorite public figures to this day. However, I will never get over the fact that the brash, daring, bold, and romantically inclined nature of Ginny was entirely removed from the films. Deleted. Never heard of her. Where was her friendship with Luna? Where were the moments where she called out her brother for trying to shame her romantic endeavors? Where are the moments where she called out Hermione for being rude and judgmental (like she often was in the books but we will get to that later)?
18 Harry Was Grieving, Not Moody
I firmly believe that every actor within the series did a fantastic job portraying the characters and applaud every crew member's efforts as well. However, I have a feeling that aspects of Harry’s post-Cedric grief were lost in translation. Harry spends the majority of his fifth year grieving the loss of his friend, his father figure, and his reputation in the wizarding world. He feels as though being close to the people he loves will do nothing but endanger them and that he is better off alone. He is grieving and in pain. And yet, in the films, it seems as though he is simply going through a moody teen angst phase. I think that sequences which included Harry discussing the above emotions should have been left in the films for audiences would have not been so quick to judge had they been.
17 Hermione Is, Honestly, Kind Of Mean
I love Hermione. I spent the fifth and sixth years of my life trying to be Hermione. But I will be the first to say that book Hermione was a bit of a jerk. She was judgemental, often very close-minded, and often even outright mean to those who believed in things that she deemed stupid (i.e. anything that she did not believe in). There were even moments where her dismissive and rude behavior enraged the soft little flower that is Luna Lovegood. But the films softened Hermione’s rough edges (as they did with most of the characters) and though I love the changes, I feel like children need to know that their favorite characters can be in the wrong sometimes too.
16 Snape Was Outright Mean To His Students
I feel like people would be less quick to jump to Snape’s defense if he knew just how horrible he truly was. Yes, he was mean to Harry because he looked just like the man who bullied him 30 years ago (seriously, see a therapist) but that does not explain why he bothered all of the other students in his class. Honestly, a teacher with such a strong bias against an entire house of students should not be allowed to give out (or remove) points as they will never do so fairly. He attempted to poison Neville’s toad, openly mocked Hermione’s appearance, belittled Harry on his first day, and was just an overall nightmare.
15 Bring Back Lee's Commentary
While the films did include brief snippets of Lee’s Quidditch commentary, it was not enough. Where was the rage? The clear bias? The constant cursing (and the constant threats from McGonagall centered around what would happen if Lee did not stop cursing)? I need to know. The commentary included in the film simply described the events as they were transpiring. But that is not the Lee Jordan that I know. Also, we need a film version of the scene where Luna took over commentary duties for that brief period of time.
14 Harry Had His Sass Removed
While there were times when Harry was able to inject a bit of sass into his dialogue, 90% of his most brutal lines were cut from the films. And that is a tragedy. “There’s no need to call me sir, professor.” I am sorry but I will never forgive whoever was in charge for the decision to not include that line. This is the hill that I will perish on. I will never forgive and I will never forget. “The toilet has never had something as foul as your head down it,” is another gem. Why were these lines cut? Why was Harry never shown talking back to those who wronged him, besides Draco that is...
13 Let Arthur And Lucius Fight
Why was father-on-father fight club canceled? We all know that Arthur wanted nothing more than to take Lucius Malfoy down in the middle of that magical bookshop. And he did so in the books. So why was that amazing scene left out of the films? I would pay good money to watch someone...anyone… give Lucius exactly what he deserves. He just has such a punchable face. And yes, Sirius did give him a good punch in the fifth film, but I need more. I think we all need more.
12 Show Neville's Parents
The scene from the fifth book which shows Neville’s parents having been shoved in a room in the hospital because wizard mental health care services are an utter travesty. There is no care for wizards afflicted by the horrors and damage of the mind. They are merely shoved in a back room of the hospital and left there because the staff has no idea what to do with them. And that is something that we need to talk about. Wizarding society can be truly dark at times and it stinks that a lot of the more questionable elements of the world (that were not directly plot-relevant) were removed (or softened) in the films.
11 The Dursley's Were Far More Intense
In the films, the Dursley’s throw the odd insult in Harry’s direction. But for the most part, they simply ignore that he exists. That was not the way that it was in the books and it has lead to some people finding ways to excuse their behavior (which is not okay). The Dursleys were a miserable lot who acted like making Harry’s life utter garbage was their job. They starved him, neglected him, mocked him, cut him off from anyone who showed him kindness, took away things that brought him joy, and routinely made him feel like he deserved it. Many children watching those films are growing up in similar environments and they need to know that it is not okay.
10 A Softer Version Of Things
Every character was softened/cleaned up in the films. Ron’s temper was dulled, Hermione’s closed mind was opened, Ginny’s dating history was removed, Snape’s history with the wizarding alt-right was stricken from the record, the scenes that showed Molly being mean to both Fleur and Hermione were cut out, and Dumbledore was a relative god rather than a rather grey figure (morality wise.) And I get it, in films you only have so much time to establish characters so following tropes and using more black and white thinking is beneficial. But I think that taking those harder moments away takes away their human penchant for making mistakes.
9 Dumbledore Is Not Entirely Good
As previously mentioned, Dumbledore is not the god that the films made him out to be as he is a rather gray figure. Though you would not know so had you only watched the films. His darker moments (in both his past and present) were removed in order to present him as an infallible father figure to Harry and his brief questionable moments were easily justified. But the ways in which he was drawn to the dark side and how he kept Harry in the dark need to be discussed. We need to acknowledge that, as we grow, we learn that the adults around us are human and can make mistakes. And how that does not make them bad people.
8 We Demand More Luna
Luna is, without a doubt, the best character in the entire series. Which is why I am utterly confused at the lack of screen time she received. It’s not like she was a minor character in the books, in fact, after her appearance in the fifth book she was seen quite often. So why was that not the case in the films? Evanna’s portrayal of the character was utterly perfect and I will not apologize for demanding more of her wonderful moments to be seen on screen. I especially love it when she called Hermione out for scoffing at her mention of magical creatures that Hermione is convinced don’t exist.
7 Where Did Half Of The Teachers Go
I know that the films only mentioned things that were relevant to the story and that Hogwarts did not have that many professors to begin with but by golly, we only ever see a handful of them and there are far too little teachers compared to how many students there are. Yes, we see them at the meals which are held in the great hall but other than that? No mention. If one was not aware of the numerous other courses that were available at Hogwarts (that were mentioned in the books) one would think that the wizarding curriculum only contained charms, potions, flying, transfiguration, one care of magical creatures lesson, a horribly unorganized mess dressed up as defense against the dark arts, and one visit to the greenhouses.
6 The Entire First Half Of Goblet Of Fire Was Removed
I will forever be mourning the fact that the first few chapters of the Goblet of Fire never made it into the films. What was that about? I know that they cut it for time but something is just so utterly tragic about never being able to see Dudley choke on his own tongue, the Weasley’s get stuck in the bricked up fireplace, and Vernon struggle over choosing between making himself yet having to deal with Harry all summer or having Harry gone but having him be happy.
5 The Lighter Moments
Though a few lighter moments were included in the later films, it seems as though that everything was constantly do or perish for the golden trio after Cedric was lost. But that was not the case. They actually had a lot of downtime between saving the world and trying to figure out how to off the dark lord. And it just breaks my heart that we very rarely got to see these kids get a chance at just being kids. Hopefully, when the series is eventually remade, the next adaptation will be in the form of a television program so we have to screen time needed to show these kids just getting to be kids.
4 Snape's Backstory Was Altered to Fit The "Good Guy" Narrative
Snape’s “tragic” backstory was truly cut and altered to fit the good guy narrative and I am not happy about it. His affiliation with the dark arts was removed from his memories of youth. Him calling Lily an unforgivable slur and he calling him out on the way he treats people like her (who aren’t her) was completely cut. And him immediately running to the dark side because a girl rejected him was also removed from the flashback. I’m sorry, but without those elements, Harry is not being shown the full picture and I do not think that manipulating him posthumously is “good” at all.
3 Ignore The Eldest Weasleys
If you blink, you will miss both Bill and Percy. Charlie, who? That brother that was mentioned a couple of times in the earlier films? Never heard of him. Again, I know that certain things had to be cut for time but I did not think that the line would be drawn through the Weasley family tree. I want to see more of the Weasley family dynamic. I want to see table battles and Molly begging to cut her sons hair. I want to see Bill and Fleur. I want to hear about Charlie’s dragons. I want something.
2 Let's Talk About Mudbloods
Though these are, originally, childrens’ stories, they are incredibly dark and we cannot shy away from that. Families were taught to only entertain romantic thoughts about each other in order to keep their lines pure. Wizards who loved muggles and cared for were punished. Voldemort was advocating the genocide and enslavement of people that he did not deem pure. The movies did touch on this, yes, but they did not delve into the everyday aspects of it. How the Weasley’s were ostracized for caring for muggle welfare. How Hermione was seen as lesser and targeted because of who her parents were and the pride that she later found in that identity.
1 Dudley Deserved Better
Though I do still think that some of Dudley’s more abhorrent actions needed to be displayed in the films to show the extremes at which the hatred for Harry was taken, I also think that his redemption arc needed a spotlight too. He attempts to change and become someone different than the person his parents raise him to be, someone kind and open, needed to be shown too. We needed to see the moment of forgiveness that passed between cousins and having it filmed yet cut from the final version of the series is truly a loss.