While I love the world that J.K. Rowling has created for us, I have to say that sometimes I find myself being drawn to the things that fans, amateurs, and everyday folks, like you and me, have to say about the world more interesting than the established canon. Don’t get me wrong, Jo did an amazing job creating an intricate, fulfilling, and beautiful world. But sometimes your average, every day readers notice or think of something that the author never did. These champions of the art of the fanatic are able to fill in the dots, close up plot holes, and make astounding connections that no one else (not even the author) ever considered before.
They propose ideas, make connections, and develop these glorious and in-depth theories that add something special to a beloved body of work. And sometimes, if we’re really lucky, these theories make their way across the world and end up getting noticed by the author themselves. The best moment in the lives of any lifelong fan is when your favorite fan theory gets confirmed/accepted as canon by the author. There is nothing better than knowing that you were right!
So, I scoured the internet and used my immense Harry Potter knowledge and my eye for fan theories to pick out the greatest fan theories that were eventually confirmed/approved by J.K. Rowling herself. So without further ado, I now present these 25 fan theories to you, for your reading enjoyment.
If you’re reading this article, chances are that you are familiar with The Tale of The Three Brothers. If not, the quickest summary I can provide to you is that two boys try to make a fool of the physical embodiment of perishing through presents but it is they themselves who are made the fools. The only boy who fares well is the one who acted with respect the whole time.
This theory states that Tom Riddle (the wand), Snape (the resurrection stone), and Harry (the cloak), each represent one of the three brothers and that Dumbledore represents that grim end. This theory is supported by the fact that Harry meets Dumbledore once more (post-mortem) when they meet at “Kings Cross” after his run-in with Tom Riddle in the forest. He greets him as an equal and old friend but is able to return to the mortal world as he is not done living. It’s quite the beautiful theory.
When I first read Rita Skeeter’s cruel and gossip-filled expose on the late Dumbledore, I knew that there was more going on between Dumbledore and Grindelwald than explicitly stated. What could convince a sweet boy who only ever wants to do what is right to engage with such awful things as race purification and the horrific plans that Grindelwald was carrying around?
Simple. It was love.
Dumbledore loved that man and found himself won over by his charisma and persuasive arguments. He truly believed that what they were doing was for the greater good. But as the fire of a hot summer romance started to burn out, Dumbledore saw Grindelwald, their plans, and the man he was starting to become for what they truly were. Rowling confirmed this when she revealed details about Dumbledore’s romantic preferences after the final book had been released.
With all the pureblood/muggleborn nonsense, fans began to wonder and theorize about other forms of wizarding segregation. To prepare for the release of the Fantastic Beasts films, Rowling released some information on wizarding history that confirmed some of our biggest concerns.
Essentially thanks to Rappaport’s law, it is illegal for wizards and No-Maj’s to intermix.
This is because the ditzy daughter of a member of the Magical Congress revealed top secret information to a No-Maj who just so happened to be a descendant of a group of corrupt wizard bounty hunters (who had a hand in the Salem Witch Trials). This lead to several highly dangerous incidents that nearly exposed the wizarding world. After that, relations between wizards and No-Maj’s were banned.
When Rowling revealed that Hogwarts wasn’t the only magical school in the wizarding world in the fourth book in the series, the fans went wild. Surely the only wizarding schools in the entire world couldn’t just be contained to Europe, could they? We created theories upon theories that attempted to answer the question of where we would go if we were lucky enough to discover a magic inside ourselves. Well, before the release of the Fantastic Beasts film, Rowling took to Pottermore to reveal that there are eleven unique schools for witchcraft and wizardry across the globe. These schools include Ilvermorny (North America), Koldovstoretz (Russia), Mahoutokoro (Japan), Beauxbatons (France), Hogwarts (UK), Castelobruxo (South America), Durmstrang (Eastern Europe), and Uagadou (Africa). The other schools across the globe have yet to be revealed.
Later in the series, Hermione explained that truly adept wizards are able to control their magic without the need for a wand. She further explained that wands acted as a way for wizards to channel their magic (especially younger and inexperienced ones) to make it more powerful. But fans found themselves thrown for a bit of a loop when Tom Riddle was described as flying through the sky in the seventh book.
“Oh, so Voldemort just flies now?”
We all wrestled with this idea. Fans began to attempt to explain this weird phenomenon and many decided that, like wands, brooms were a way for wizards to channel their magic for a more clean and precise end result but that they were “capable” of flight without them. This was confirmed as true, though it must be said that it takes an incredibly powerful wizard to be able to fly without aid.
Note: This section is not taking The Cursed Child into consideration.
Though I loved the “Nineteen years later” section of the final novel, it did not provide as much information as one would hope and readers began filling in the blanks. Fans created a series of fanfictions, head cannons, and theories, that attempted to figure out what happened in those nineteen years. Many theories revolved around the ideas of mental health issues that would have developed in the children after that battle considering everything they’ve witnessed. When fans questioned Rowling about Harry’s odd child-names, she replied that the children were named as an embodiment of how the war affected him (as well as the others) for the rest of their lives. This is similar to the effect that the first war had had on the previous generation of wizards.
After Dudley revealed that he didn’t think that Harry was the worst thing that has ever happened in the history of the world, fanfictions of their eventual reunions started popping up online. The most popular theories circled around the ideas of them putting their differences aside so that their children could interact and be friends. And this is exactly what happened, at least according to Rowling. Though Dudley and Harry were never able to truly put all those years of hatred and rivalry behind them, they were able to establish a cordial relationship that consisted of scheduled family gatherings during holidays and other important events in their children's lives.
Their kids, however, were a different story.
They became as best of friends as family members can really be. I love the way that the series emphasizes the ways that younger generations can mend broken bonds through love and friendship.
When Lockhart’s memory charm backfired and he disappeared without a trace, we all began to wonder where he went. And then we got an answer that we were not prepared for. It turns out he was literally thrown into a room with all the other victims of memory-damaging spells. Everyone who has been the victims of spells so intense that they essentially broke was tossed into this room. And among its residents are Neville Longbottom's parents. After meeting Frank and Alice, fans began making two very distinct types of fanfictions. Half of us dreamed of magical cures, while the rest wrote melancholic tales of Neville bringing a future partner “home” to his parents. It turns out that the latter was right as it was confirmed that Frank and Alice will spend the rest of their lives in that room, unable to recognize their own child.
One of my favorite bits of fanfiction and head cannons are those that deal with the scope of the trio’s post-war fame. Many people, myself included, began picturing the golden trio being honored in history books, on the anniversary of the battle, and on the magical cards that accompany the chocolate frogs. Harry doesn’t seem like he would be a fan of such pomp and circumstance.
I highly doubt that Ron would be against the wizarding world chanting his name.
And what do you know? It was officially confirmed that trio did make their way onto those magical trading cards. Imagine getting a chocolate frog and seeing a picture of your mother, father, or uncle, smiling back at you. Do you think the children would be proud or bored? Imagine trading your father’s card for Newt Scamander.
In one of the most shocking decisions ever made, Hermione decided to forgo her last year of school in order to stop Tom Riddle. It proved that she decided that bravery and friendship were more important. And though I doubt that traveling across the countryside for months on end and coming up empty-handed was what Ron and Harry had in mind, I can’t help but think that they were overjoyed to cut their educations a year short. But after the series ended, many fans began to wonder what came of their degrees. The commonly accepted theory was that Hermione returned to school and that Ron and Harry just decided to get on with their lives. And this theory was correct. Hermione ended up graduating the following year. The boys never received any degrees at all, though they all ended up with pretty impressive ministry jobs.
Harry Potter’s invisibility cloak is special for many reasons but the main being that it was the invisibility cloak to end all invisibility cloaks. It was cut from the same cloth that covers the physical embodiment of the grim fate that awaits us all which makes it the best of the best. Unlike other invisibility cloaks, which lose their magic, tear, and become ineffective after years, Harry’s cloak has remained infallible since its creation. But Dumbledore seems to see right through Harry’s disguises and fans developed several theories as to why.
Maybe Dumbledore just has brilliant intuition.
Maybe it was just obvious to him when Harry was around. Or maybe Dumbledore can see through the cloak. Well, it was confirmed that like Mad-Eye Moody, Dumbledore also has the uncanny ability to see right through Harry’s cloak at times, which just further supports the Three Brothers theory.
In the early books, it was clear to the viewers of the world that Snape was an evil son of Merlin and that he had it out for Harry. But after he used his last moments on this Earth to reveal all of his deepest secrets and memories to Harry, many fans viewed him as the champion of the series. However, other fans took issue with his redemption arc especially considering the list of crimes and sins he had committed both as a child and as a grown-up. Fan theories cropped up that Snape was never supposed to be romanticized, but rather humanized. And in a lengthy Twitter thread, Rowling revealed that this was the case. He was a cruel man who bullied children but she claims he also gave his life to save the world. Neither a hero nor a villain.
When we are first introduced to Aberforth, it is revealed that he has been seriously punished for performing inappropriate charms on a goat. But what were those charms, exactly? Who defines “inappropriate?” I mean, at their core, these are children’s novels.
The phrase 'inappropriate charms' can’t mean what we think it does.
Can it? After hearing this phrase, many fans came up with theories as to what the true nature of these charms were, and most of these theories were incredibly crude. Well, unfortunately, it turns out that these charms were exactly what you think that they were. Yep. Dumbledore's brother was punished for doing exactly what you think he was punished for. Though I can’t provide any more detail as to the exact nature of these charms, I am sure that the creative minds of the internet know exactly what I am talking about.
I don’t know what is more depressing: the idea that magic doesn’t exist or the idea that it does and I am just not a part of that world. Well, it turns out a lot of fans shared this sentiment as theories upon theories began to pop up to explain why none of us got our letters. The most common theory was that Riddle’s destruction of the military affected the muggleborn department, causing them to lose the records of children born in the nineties, which prevented us from getting our letters. Though it is a nice theory, Rowling ended up confirming another theory. This theory states that the films/books were our “letters” and that we all accompanied Harry on his adventures and attended Hogwarts together. I still wish that I could have my own set of robes and the chance to eat in the great hall.
Many fans were left asking themselves why while rocking back and forth in a puddle of tears after reading the final book and seeing the last film in the series. So many characters passed away that did not deserve it and it was honestly too much at times.
But why did some characters have to pass on while others didn’t?
One of the main theories surrounding these grim circumstances was that each character symbolized someone from the previous generation (though there is a bit of debate as to which character represents which person). This incredible theory was confirmed and used to explain the fact that Tonks and Remus parallel Lily and James, and that they had to perish in order to reestablish the “orphan of war” trope through Teddy.
Though I was one of the people cheering when Ron and Hermione finally got together, many other people had their doubts about the relationship. Hermione’s need for perfect and tendency to micromanage those around her and Ron’s laziness and insecurities would have them at each other’s throats the moment the honeymoon phase ended. While Rowling did confirm the fact that Hermione and Ron’s personalities would cause marital issues, she did later amend this statement by saying that she believes that a bit of muggle style marriage counseling could resolve these issues and with a little bit of effort they could be back on the train to soulmates-ville in no time. So it turns out that everyone’s theories were correct to a certain degree. Yay! Everybody wins.
Note: This entry does not take The Cursed Child into consideration.
After the final book hit shelves, the fandom got to work creating elaborate fan art that depicted the next generation of wizards. Fan theories swirled. Everyone made guesses as to what the next generation would look like. What houses would they be in? What would their personalities be like? Would they take after their parents? And one character that we could not stop arguing over was Teddy Lupin. Would he be a rule-breaking, punk, fighter for justice like his mother, or a caring, minorly rebellious, prankster like his father?
Will he inherit his mother's powers or his father’s curse?
And most importantly, what house will he be in? Well, we all decided that he would be a colorful punk that called the Hufflepuff house his home and we were right. Welcome to Hufflepuff, Teddy, we are lucky to have you.
Who wouldn’t want to go to Hogwarts? I mean, it is literally one of the coolest fictional schools in the history of literature. But how do the kids afford to go? I mean, Harry is golden thanks to his immense family fortune. But how do families like the Weasley’s manage? Many fan theories have attempted to come up with an explanation for this including secret donors, inherited wealth, scholarships, and ministry job benefits but only one theory ever got it right. And that theory explains that these children are all able to attend Hogwarts simply because tuition is free. School costs are covered by the Ministry of Magic and students can attend Hogwarts free of charge (save for school supplies). Congratulations to the few who guessed it correctly.
Sure, Harry Potter is the boy who lived, the chosen one, the one who saved the world time and time again and all that jazz, but how exactly did his family accumulate all that wealth before he was even born? Most people just assumed that their wealth was due to the Potter’s pureblood line. If a family line has existed for hundreds of years with lengthy lifespans and continues to pass on their wealth every generation, then getting rich must be no sweat. And, in a way, this theory was correct. You see, Harry was not the only Potter to make it big. There were the infamous “Three Brothers” from the legend, the inventor of the “Sleekeazy” hair potion, and a famous Potter (where the name originated from) that made bank with his amazing handcrafted pots.
When Tom Riddle’s plans were revealed, fans began crunching the numbers and started scratching their heads in both confusion and frustration. If we were correct, Tom was approximately seventy-one when he passed away.
Dumbledore, on the other hand, was pushing 200 when he finally kicked the bucket.
If we are to believe that that is the natural lifespan for a wizard (which it was later confirmed that it is) then Riddle passed away nearly 130 years prematurely. Many fans (this writer included) believe that if Tom had just eaten healthy and worked out he would have lived a much longer life. And we were right. It was confirmed that Riddle’s efforts at immortality not only cost him his life but also drastically shortened it. I mean come on, the average human lifespan is longer than that.
Middle-grade novels always seem to pit innocent children against cruel grown-ups that are so clearly evil that they are obviously the villains. However, things felt different with Harry Potter. Obviously, Harry is good and Riddle is evil, but what about everyone else? There are dozens of fan theories that attempt to decide which characters are good and which are bad. Is Dumbledore Harry’s mentor or did he raise him like a farm pig for the chopping block? Does Sirius truly love Harry or is he just using him as a stand-in for James? Is Draco doomed to be a monster or will he learn from his mistakes and turn himself around eventually? Well, it turns out that we are all right. In a lengthy Twitter thread, Rowling revealed that very few of her characters are all good or bad and that most existed on a spectrum.
There are two theories floating around the interwebs about the nature of the Dursley clan. One theory states that the little piece of Riddle that exists inside Harry had the same effect on them as the necklace did with Ron and that it slowly corrupted their souls. The theory explains that the Horcrux inside Harry turned the Dursleys against him over the years and that it was what made them so unbelievably cruel. The other theory simply states that, like many real-world people, the Dursleys were simply that cruel and that there is no supernatural reason for their behavior. Those who champion the second theory are correct. Though Harry does contain a piece of Riddle, he isn’t actually a Horcrux therefore that soul fragment wouldn’t have any effect on the people around him. The Dursleys are simply just that awful on their own.
Remember that scene in The Order of the Phoenix where Arthur was attacked by that snake and Harry witnessed the attack from a first-person perspective that rivals Bioshock in its vividness?
If that scene felt weird to you, you are not alone.
Many people on the internet theorized that Arthur was not supposed to make it through that ordeal and that his demise was supposed to be one of the events that marked the beginning of the war. And they were right. Rowling revealed that she nearly ended the life of Arthur before having a change of heart midway through OOTP and deciding to make Remus Lupin the subject of her cruel hand instead. And thankfully she did so, as I believe that the Burrow is a single income household and I worry about how they would get on without Arthur.
When Dumbledore told young Harry that he saw himself with a lovely pair of socks when he looked into the Mirror of Erised, half of the fandom bought it and the other half did not. I mean, he is kooky enough to find such excitement in such a simple thing and why would he lie to a child? But even Harry himself remarks that this is an awfully personal question that someone might not want to answer seriously. Many theories circulated, all trying to figure out what Dumbledore saw in that mirror. But after reading the final book in the series, we all had our answer. After finding out exactly what went down with the Dumbledore clan, many fans (myself included) decided that Albus would see his family, healthy, happy, and united in the mirror whenever he looked into it. And we were right.
When the Black Family tree revealed that the majority of the wizards we know and love are all somehow related, people began to question the idea of “pureblood” wizards. If the pureblood population is a relatively small group that is not allowed to marry muggles nor muggleborns, the entire race should have been lost generations ago. The fan theorized that the only solutions would be to either bring both Muggles and Muggleborns into the equation or to try and find a bride at your next family reunion.
And for some wizards, the first option was so revolting that they opted for the latter.
Arthur confirmed that their race would have ended centuries prior had wizards not branched out and the state in which we find Tom Riddle’s poor mother confirmed that many wizards made the poor decision to “stay pure at any cost” while ignoring the potentially dangerous side effects.