As I’m going through my second re-read of the Harry Potter books (and ignoring the recent abomination), I can’t help but wonder about the massive plot holes in the story. I’m not talking about making mistakes with chronology, years and age. I’m talking about massive mistakes in the fabric of the way the universe created by J.K. Rowling works. It doesn’t take away from the fun of reading this fantasy masterpiece (in its own way), but it’s still funny when you seriously think about some of them. Here are the 11 biggest you’ll encounter when reading the books:
Turning back time: In the third Harry Potter book, Prisoner of Azkaban, we’re introduced to a Time Turner, which Hermione uses to study in an endless number of classes, and later to save the day, like she and her partners in crime tend to do. There’s also one used in one non-canon book recently coming to light, which we will ignore. In any case, with this device at hand, who come we only see it being used by a 3rd year student at Hogwarts, and not by, well, everyone?
Basic education: Wizards who grew up in the muggle world get a basic education in math, reading, writing and such. However, children from wizarding families, unless there’s something we don’t know, get 0 education, including no time spent learning how to read (unless their families teach them) before they reach Hogwarts. Perhaps being magical gives them that advantage.
Wizard Economics: There is such a thing as wizard money: Galleons, Sickles and Knuts. However, a lot of the things in the wizarding world don’t make sense when it comes to money. One prime example is Ollivander and his wands: He sells wands for 7 galleons. However, a wand with a unicorn hair in it (and other cores sound just as expensive) costs him 10 galleons to make.
Wizard truth serum: Veritaserum is a truth serum; a potion which forces the drinker to answer any question truthfully. It’s forbidden to use on students (as Severus Snape points out). It should be something we see used a whole lot more in the books, especially in wizarding trials, however it is mentioned that some witches and wizards know how to counter its effects, especially if they used an antidote.
The Secret Keep Conundrum: The Fidelius Charm hides a secret within the soul of the person, making that person a secret keeper. A house protected by the spell is invisible, unplottable and soundproof. If that is the case, why didn’t Lily and James Potter make each other their secret keeper? At the time, they made Peter Pettigrew their secret keeper, and he betrayed it to Voldemort. You know the rest. One theory suggests that the Secret Keeper can’t be someone living in that specific dwelling.
The Marauders Map flaw: In “The Prisoner of Azkaban” we’re introduced to the Marauder’s Map, as Fred & George Weasley give it to Harry. The Map shows the entire school, and every person in it. And if that’s true, how come the Weasley twins never sew Peter Pettigrew (in Scabbers form) sleeping in the same bed as Ron. Even if you buy into the idea that the two stopped using the map after Ron arrived at Hogwarts, the rat previously belonged to their older brother Percy, and he was sleeping in his bed too. Sounds like a convenient mistake to move the plot forward.
The Triwizard Tournament is really boring: In “The Goblet of Fire”, we experience the Triwizard tournament, which Harry Potter takes part of. The first mission, stealing a dragon egg, is quite exciting for the crowd to watch. However, the second mission (rescuing a person from the lake at Hogwarts) and the third mission (the maze) are not exactly spectator sports. Both are something only the participants can actually see, and we don’t hear about some form of letting the students at the school view the action.
Using multiple wands at once: One of the famous moments in the action-paced “Deathly Hallows” book is Harry using 3 wands at once to stun Fenrir Greyback. However, he never learned how to use multiple wands, nor does he seem fatigued by performing such a spell. Is it that easy? Why don’t more wizards use that trick?
How does a Portkey work?: The most famous encounter with a portkey in the Harry Potter books is when Harry and Cedric find one in the maze (4th book), and get transported straight to Voldemort. Once Harry is able to stop Voldemort (momentarily) from killing him, he grabs Cedric’s body and teleports back to Hogwarts through the Portkey. This leads to other questions: It is supposedly impossible to apparate into Hogwarts, so why not use a Portkey? And Dumbledore uses a portkey to reach Hogwarts, but is it something only teaches or headmasters can do? And in other occasions in the books using the Portkey had something to do with precise timing, unlike the first incident we mentioned. No clear answer.
Tracing underage magic: Another charm that seems to provide contradictory results is the Trace charm, used to monitor underage (U-17) wizards so they don’t perform magic outside of school. It’s supposed to work when any magic is performed in the vicinity of the young wizard, however it can’t detect whether an underage wizard performed the charm or someone eligible. There were quite a few instances when aged wizards performed magic around Harry and his friends, including Dumbledore at the Dursley’s home. However, no letter from the Ministry of Magic came to reprimand Harry on that occasion, and others. Again, a plot device used for convenience, instead of absolute truth.
Food should be easy: Gamp’s law of elemental transfiguration governs the magical world, but it does have exceptions, one of which is food. Food cannot be created from nothing, but it can be multiplied, enlarged and summoned if one knows where it is. If all that is true, why don’t Harry, Ron and Hermione (during their camping phase in book 7) use their magic to get food, instead of let their stomachs grumble while they keep worrying about their hunger?
As we mentioned in the beginning, there are other mistakes in the Harry Potter books, movies and the whole entire operation. Rowling herself once admitted she sucks at math, which raises some questions about the timeline and characters age. However, this is something common in a lot of big fantasy series, not just Harry Potter so we let the minor mistakes slide, just this once.