There are some franchises that are only as good as their villains. The world of Harry Potter has seen several memorable baddies, from the sweetly bad Dolores Umbridge to the Muggle-despising, power-craving Voldemort. And while both of these, as well as several key Death Eaters, were certainly given their moments to shine, the series is also home to the much more layered, fascinatingly flawed Malfoy family.
Their growth from sneering superiority to desperate survival made them some of the most fleshed out characters in the books and the movies. The young Draco began as an arrogant bully but grew to be a conflicted, heart-breaking antagonist. His father Lucius was once a powerful and imposing figure in the wizarding world but went through a fall from grace that left him as a frightened shell of his former self. And Narcissa, though she may have received less screen time in the movies than the other two, still proved herself as a commanding and fierce mother who saw to the endurance of her family.
And yet there are still so many aspects about the Malfoys that some fans may not know. Not just of these three main characters, but of their entire family tree. The Malfoys have played massive roles in historic events of wizarding kind, though they naturally haven’t had a positive influence in many aspects. If you’ve ever found yourself wondering if there was more to this villainous family, then you’re in luck. Here are 25 hidden things about the Malfoy family only Potterheads know.
25 'Malfoy' Is French For 'Bad Faith'
If there’s one thing that can be certain about the world of Harry Potter, it’s that J.K. Rowling does her research. While she has stated that some names for characters have come from people she knows in real life, there are others that have taken on hidden meanings.
‘Malfoy’ is such a name.
In French, ‘mal’ means “bad” or “wrong,” while ‘foi’ means “faith.” Anyone who spoke the language would have known that this troubled family had certainly picked the wrong side.
24 The Family's Power Initially Came From William The Conqueror
The Malfoys are one of the most powerful and wealthy families in the entire wizarding world, and it apparently has always been that way. In J.K. Rowling’s official family tree of the Malfoys on Pottermore, the earliest listed member is Armand Malfoy.
This wizard came to the U.K. along with William the Conqueror when he invaded from Norway. Pottermore also states that Armand helped the future King William in his conquest through various spells and was awarded with Malfoy Manor and a sizable piece of land. That Manor has remained in the family for generations.
23 Malfoy Manor Is Located In Wiltshire, England
As is fitting of the villainous family, Malfoy Manor is located far from London or any other sprawling city. It can be found in Wiltshire, England, a place that is known for its wide valleys and hills. It is also where the famed Stonehenge is located.
Also fitting of the family is the fact that their property has been expanded on over the years by annexing the lands of their Muggle neighbors. It provided a perfectly desolate, yet majestic setting in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part 1.
22 One Member Exterminated Muggles And Blamed It On The Plague
Lucius, Narcissa, and Draco have all been known to commit some pretty despicable acts throughout the Harry Potter franchise. But their crimes are fairly tame compared to some of their ancestors. One of them, Nicholas Malfoy, got rid of multiple muggles under the guise of the Black Plague.
It was the perfect cover-up, as the Plague ended the lives of an estimated 75 – 200 million citizens in just a few years.
While he was suspected of his crimes, they were never proven and he was never arrested.
21 Some Of Them Fraternized With Muggles
While the present-day Malfoys would have you believe their family would never stoop so low as to mingle with Muggles (and relish the opportunity to slander those that do), this wasn’t always the case.
Previous generations would often fraternize with Muggles, although only if there was something to gain.
In Chamber of Secrets (the book, not the movie) it is mentioned that the Malfoys own many priceless and bewitched Muggle artifacts that have been passed down through generations, left over from a time period when the family would gain them from wealthy, non-magic folk.
20 One Member Wrote An Anti-Muggle Periodical
After the Malfoys had earned a fortune in priceless artifacts from various wealthy Muggle families, they grew much more hateful towards the group. One of them, Brutus Malfoy, wrote an anti-muggle periodical in the late 1600s called Warlock at War.
It was not only negative about Muggles but also about the wizards and witches that had anything to do with them. It essentially stated they were of “low intelligence” and so weak that surrounding themselves with Muggles was the only way they could feel powerful.
19 Malfoy Manor's Cellar Holds The Family's Dark Objects
It isn’t too often that our heroes find an opportunity to wipe the smug smile off of Draco Malfoy’s face, but one such situation came in the Chamber of Secrets book. While under the disguise of Polyjuice Potion, Ron and Harry learn that the Malfoys keep a ton of enchanted Muggle artifacts hidden in their cellar.
Ron promptly tells his father, who leads a raid on the home. It is normally a fantastic hiding place and is completely escape proof. Unless, of course, you’re an elf.
18 The Malfoy Family Prefers To Work In The Shadows
While there is no denying the family’s lust for power, the spotlight is something that none of them have ever craved in order to keep themselves safe. This is how Lucius was able to claim he was under the control of the Imperius Curse when Voldemort was defeated the first time.
But he is far from the first Malfoy to play it smart.
There was also Septimus Malfoy from the 18th century, who many believed to have been manipulating the Minister of Magic, and the first Lucius Malfoy who attempted to wed Queen Elizabeth I.
17 The Malfoy Family Crest Pays Homage To Salazar Slytherin
Because of course it does. Salazar Slytherin, one of the founders of Hogwarts, believed wholeheartedly that witches and wizards with Muggle DNA didn’t deserve to be taught at the school. And with the Malfoys being who they are, their family crest pays homage to the founder they believe to be the greatest.
The silver and green color scheme, as well as the serpents, are obvious references to the wizard.
But there is also the phrase “Sanctimonia Vincet Semper,” which is Latin for “Purity Will Always Conquer.”
16 One Member Overthrew The First Muggle-Born Minister Of Magic
Over the course of the series, Lucius Malfoy was shown to be incredibly cunning and conniving when it came to various Ministry employees. And it seems this was a trait he learned from his father, Abraxas Malfoy.
Abraxas was seemingly a key member in the plot to get Nobby Leach, the first Muggle-born wizard to become Minister of Magic, to resign in 1968. Pottermore states that nothing was ever proven against Abraxas or what his role even was. But it isn’t at all surprising that a Malfoy would be behind something like that.
15 Tonks Is Related To The Malfoys
While book fanatics may have already known this, it’s possible casual movie viewers didn’t as Nymphadora Tonks’s mother, Andromeda, was cut from the films. Andromeda is the sister of Narcissa Malfoy and Bellatrix Lestrange.
While her sisters relished the fact that they were pureblood, Andromeda was kicked out of the family for marrying a Muggle-born wizard.
There are a lot of details about Tonks that were never explored in the films. Her parentage, which is subsequently linked to why she felt so strongly about marrying Remus instead of denying their true feelings, is one of them.
14 They Thought Harry Would Replace Voldemort
When the infant Harry Potter somehow defeated Voldemort, some of the Dark Lord’s followers believed he was only able to do so because he was also a powerful dark wizard and would one day replace him.
Some of the followers who thought this were the Malfoys.
Draco had grown up listening to his father speak of Voldemort and the one who defeated him. So when Draco met Harry, he tried to earn his favor by becoming his friend. But he was proven wrong about the boy almost immediately.
13 The Significance Of The Unicorn Hair
Just like his last name, Draco’s first takes on another meaning. J.K. Rowling named him after a constellation, the dragon. And as we all know, dragons aren’t the most friendly of creatures.
But it’s Draco’s wand that we should pay attention to. While many wands feature dragon heart strings at their core, Draco’s is that of unicorn hair. Rowling has stated that she did this to signify that there is good at the heart of Draco. And we would all find this to be true later in the series.
12 The Significance Of The Hawthorn Wood
If you’ve listened to Ollivander, you know how important every bit of a wand is. It isn’t just the piece of magical creature at the core, but the wood and the individual can make quite the difference as well.
Draco’s wand is made of Hawthorn wood, which many experts in wand lore believe to be something of a contradictory material. While it’s great at healing spells, it also excels in curses. They tend to choose the most skilled of casters, but it’s the conflicted nature of the wood paired with the morally grey Draco that is most important.
11 Tom Felton Auditioned For Ron And Harry
The casting directors behind the Harry Potter franchise had no way of knowing how spot on some of their choices would end up being. Tom Felton is one of the actors that fit perfectly in the role he was designated, though it could have turned out very differently.
The young actor auditioned for the roles of Ron Weasley and Harry Potter before he was cast as Draco Malfoy. He had apparently never read the books, but only knew that it was going to be a massive franchise and wanted a part in it.
10 Tom Felton Wasn't Allowed To Tan While Playing Draco
While there were some actors that matched the description of their character perfectly, there were others who needed a bit of work. Similar to the way Emma Watson wasn’t allowed to cut her curly hair while playing Hermione Granger, Tom Felton wasn’t allowed to tan while playing Draco.
Since Draco is described as being incredibly pale and blonde, this makes sense.
Felton reportedly also had to dye his hair 18 times over the course of ten years. It’s a pretty big commitment, but one that helped bring the character to life.
9 Draco Is A Powerful Occlumens
Occlumency is a branch of magic that focuses on closing one’s mind so that others can’t read or manipulate it and it’s something that Draco is extremely skilled at. When tasked with taking the life of Albus Dumbledore in Half-Blood Prince, Draco is able to keep his mind closed so Snape can’t see his plans.
This is an important piece of the character as Draco has always been envious of the famous Harry Potter. But this is the one thing he can do well that Harry was abysmal at.
8 Lucius Gave Evidence After The Battle Of Hogwarts
After the first Wizarding War, Lucius was able to avoid time in Azkaban by claiming he had been under the Imperius Curse. But he wouldn’t be able to use that excuse a second time and needed a way to keep his family safe.
How he accomplished this was by giving evidence against Voldemort and, more importantly, the Death Eaters that had escaped after the Battle of Hogwarts. His testimony led to the capture of many followers of Voldemort and he was thus able to keep his freedom.
7 Narcissa Malfoy Isn't A Death Eater
This may be a simple one, but many moviegoers may have assumed Narcissa Malfoy was a Death Eater due to the fact that her husband and son are. But in actuality, she is not one of Voldemort’s followers and never received the Dark Mark.
Her allegiance was always to keeping her family safe, which was shown most prominently during Deathly Hallows, Part 2 when she lied to Voldemort about Harry being deceased so that she could reach her son. She may be a pure-blood purist, but certainly not the worst of the bunch.
6 Draco's Marriage Was Frowned Upon By His Parents
One would think that the Malfoys would only frown on their son’s marriage if he were to wed anyone but a pure-blood witch. But Astoria Greengrass is as pure-blood as they come. After the Second Wizarding War, however, Draco and Astoria changed their ways and chose to raise their son, Scorpius, with more enlightened views.
Even though Lucius testified against his fellow Death Eaters and Narcissa betrayed Voldemort, they still refused to change their old ways. But unlike before, Draco had no problem standing up to them.
5 Draco Studied Alchemy As An Adult
Before Draco, the Malfoy family’s accomplishments were steeped in dark magic. Almost as a way to contradict this, he began studying Alchemy as an adult.
The Malfoys have always been independently wealthy with no need to work, so Draco studied this as a hobby. While it’s unclear if he was ever able to create something as powerful as a Sorcerer’s Stone, it’s a small yet interesting way that he was able to change the life path he had been set on at the beginning of the series.
4 Harry And Draco's Sons Are Best Friends
The Cursed Child, a play that continued the story after the epilogue in The Deathly Hallows, was divisive among fans for playing around with the lore of the universe. But one of the more interesting things that came from it was the relationship between Harry’s son, Albus, and Draco’s son, Scorpius.
Despite the hatred the two men once felt for each other, their sons become the closest of friends. This forces the two characters to interact in ways that we didn’t see in the books or movies.
3 Lucius Malfoy's Costume Design Came From Jason Isaacs
When Jason Isaacs first saw the concept sketches for his character, which were approved by director Chris Columbus, he was surprised to see a man in a pinstripe suit and short, dark hair. Luckily for all viewers, he voiced his concerns.
He believed Lucius Malfoy would never wear something a Muggle could be found in.
He saw Lucius as wearing furs and velvet, rich clothes that no others could afford. He also suggested the long, blonde hair, as well as Lucius’s signature snake cane.
2 Lucius's Costume Design Helped The Actor's Performance
Jason Isaacs’s input into Lucius Malfoy’s costume design was beneficial to the movies on another level as well. The actor has stated that the way he was dressed helped in his performance. Due to his rich robes not having any pockets to put his hands in, as well as the addition of his cane, this meant he wasn’t able to slouch.
Lucius Malfoy is the type of man who would have perfect posture. But Isaacs’s blonde wig also meant he had to keep his neck straight lest it fall off. He literally had to look down on those around him.
1 Draco Is Distantly Related To Harry
In the wizarding world, there aren’t many strictly pure-blood families left. And before James Potter married the Muggle-born Lily, he came from a long line of Pure-blood witches and wizards.
Since there aren’t many pure-blood wizarding families, those that do exist don’t have many marriage options to keep themselves that way.
It’s more than likely that somewhere down the line, a Malfoy married a Potter. But there is also the case of Charlus Potter who married Dorea Black. And since we all know the Blacks are definitely related to the Malfoys…