“All was well.” – J.K. Rowling
The Boy Who Lived is at once heroic and lazy, passionate and, well, kind of a middling student. Basically, he’s like how we all would be if we were thrust, unwilling, into the fate of the wizarding world. But just because he’s normal doesn’t mean he doesn’t have a few secrets up his robe sleeves. Take a look at this extraordinary facts about The Boy Who Lived, Harry Potter.
24. Family Ties
It turns out that in the far distant past, Harry and Voldemort share a common bloodline. Following the founding wizarding surnames back through the years, the name “Ignotus Peverell” (you might know him from his Invisibility Cloak) comes up in both character’s family trees. It’s a small (magic) world after all, making these enemies…distant cousins?
23. Magic Swag
Remember when we all wanted to collect those moving chocolate frog cards after their introduction in the first book? J.K. Rowling revealed that after Harry, Ron, and Hermione became household names following the Battle of Hogwarts, they were further immortalized on these iconic collectible cards.
22. Bye, Bye, Birdy
As Rowling’s fans grew up, so did her characters. Fans were stunned when Harry’s beloved Hedwig was killed off early in The Deathly Hollows, but according to Rowling, the bird’s death served a purpose: “The loss of Hedwig represented a loss of innocence and security. She has been almost like a cuddly toy to Harry at times. Voldemort killing her marked the end of childhood,” Rowling stated. Really? Pretty sure this was literally “overkill” after taking out Harry’s godfather, Sirius.
21. What’s in a Name?
Rowling certainly liked to include bits of our muggle world mythologies within her magical realm, but mortal inspirations made their way into the series as well. According to the author, “Potter” was the surname of a family who lived nearby when Rowling was seven. She liked the name so much that she later “borrowed” it. Of course, it’s a safe bet that the original family are probably chuffed about the connection.
20. Birthday Doubles
Rowling shares a birthday with her protagonist. Both Harry and Jo were born on July 31 in England. It’s worth noting this date makes them each Leos, the astrological symbol marked by a lion, and therefore…destined for the leonine house of Gryffindor? Coincidence, or not?
19. Setting the Facts Straight
Apparently, Harry was never a real Horcrux, at least not by magical textbook definition. According to Rowling, a Horcrux must be intentionally created, and it’s clear in the books that Voldemort wasn’t exactly skipping around in joy over having a piece of his soul housed in the body of a kid. Especially a kid that ended up foiling his plans to take over the world again as a snotty teen.
18. The Romance That Never Was
Fulfilling fanfiction fantasies the world over, Rowling confirmed that she had toyed with the idea of putting Harry and Hermione together. She argued that Ron and Hermione’s amusing, but admittedly hostile dynamic, may eventually lead to “fundamental incompatibility” in adulthood. Meanwhile, Rowling dropped hints that an intimate tent scene between Harry and Hermione in Deathly Hollows was written with a tinge of whimsy for the not-to-be couple.
17. The Tongue that Slithered Off
Since Harry got his Parseltongue ability from the piece of Voldemort’s soul he held, it makes sense that his special linguistic ability died with the evil wizard. Considering Harry’s reluctant embrace of all-things-Dark-Lord throughout the series, he may not have missed the ability much.
16. An Eye for Detail
Harry’s green eyes were compared to his mother Lily’s near ad nauseum in the series. It’s not surprising then that fans noticed the movie’s Harry sported a pair of non-canon baby blues. Apparently, this inaccuracy was not for lack of trying—actor Daniel Radcliffe tried a pair of green contact lenses but suffered an allergic reaction.
15. Big Shoes to Fill
Rowling admitted to having another literary hero in mind when she created the scene where Harry must extract the sword of Gryffindor from a pool of water. In Arthurian legend, King Arthur is granted the famous sword, Excalibur, by the Lady of the Lake. (Only in the case, Harry ultimately had a less romantically-cut figure, Snape, to thank for his dive into freezing waters.)
14. Rebalancing the Scales
Harry’s parents are killed on Halloween. 10 years later to the day, an 11-year-old Harry, Ron, and Hermione defeat a troll in the Hogwarts bathroom. Although Hermione was previously not friends with Harry and Ron, this event forms a strong bond between the trio. The date is significant when considering that on the same day Harry’s family once fell apart, he later finds a makeshift family.
13. In Search of Harry
Over a seven-month period, around 300 young hopefuls auditioned for the role of Harry James Potter in the films. Among the considerations for the part were Haley Joel Osment of The Sixth Sense and Jonathan Lipnicki of Jerry Maguire.
12. Fiery Tempers
According to Rowling, Harry’s beloved Firebolt is a unique make of flying broomstick. Harry was one of the first wizards to own one, and considering their expense, very few were made. Further, the high-end craftmanship involved in the ironwork is dependent on mercurial goblins who tend to quit or go on strike frequently.
11. Lightning Strikes Again…and Again
Harry’s lightning scar was painted onto his face for the first two movies, and glued on for the rest. Radcliffe put up with the application of his scar approximately 2,000 times.
10. Hold the Bill
In addition to a endless amount of lightning scars, Harry’s character also went through a crazy number of glasses. Staying more than true to his literary character, who was prone getting his glasses broken, on-screen Harry had 160 pairs of glasses throughout the course of the films.
9. Blast to the Past
Harry’s days in the DA (Dumbledore’s Army) foreshadowed his future career as head Auror and, even bigger, his eventual role as head of the Department of Magical Law Enforcement. Later on, Harry even gives lectures at Hogwarts for Defense Against the Dark Arts students.
8. A Slight Wrinkle in Time
Although Rowling’s text doesn’t give precise years from the outset, calculating events in the magical realm lands Harry’s birth at 1980. This means that he arrived at Hogwarts in 1991, placing the timeline of the books slightly behind the series’ real-world publication.
7. A Well-Cast Ensemble
Beyond his skill at Defense Against the Dark Arts, Harry was a relatable, average student. Some might even say a bit of a slacker. According to the film cast, Harry’s laissez-faire approach to assignments were reflected by Radcliffe as well. Given the task to write an essay about his character from director Alfonso Cuarón, Radcliffe wrote a single page. (Comparatively, Hermione’s Emma Watson delivered 16 pages, and Ron’s Rupert Grint skirted the assignment altogether).
6. Measuring up
Harry’s wand measures at 11 inches and is composed of phoenix feather and holly. It also has the same core as Voldemort’s wand, symbolically marking them as equals.
5. The Son She Never Had
Rowling has stated that if she had a son, she would have named him Harry, as it’s her favorite boy name. Considering Rowling has a daughter, it’s unsurprising she took the opportunity to still use the name in her fictional world.
4. Quite a Pair
For fans keen on Harry’s parents’ backstory, their patronuses seem to symbolize a union that was meant to be. James’ patronus was a stag, and Lily’s was a doe. In true orphan Bambi-like form, their surviving son grows throughout the books to form a stag patronus as well.
3. A Giant Plan
Rowling got attached early on in planning the series’ final scenes to one particular image: Hargid walking out of the Forbidden Forest with Harry appearing dead in his arms. Rowling states, “That was so perfect for me, because it was Hagrid who and took him into the world, and Hagrid who would bring him back.” Besides eliciting a million fan tears, the scene idea may have also saved Hagrid from Rowling’s instinct to kill him off earlier in the series.
2. Taking One for the Literary Team
In good writing fashion, Rowling realized that her brave protagonist may be viewed by readers as a little overly perfect. She decided to give Harry a vulnerable, “human” side, exemplified by his need for glasses. Poor Harry took one for the fans every time Dudley broke his glasses or they fell off is face.
1. The Case of the Missing Grandparents
Ever wonder what happened to Harry’s magical grandparents? According to Rowling, “Fleamont and Euphemia lived long enough to see James marry a Muggle-born girl called Lily Evans, but not to meet their grandson, Harry.” The elderly couple succumbed to a deadly case of dragon pox just a few days apart. From there, James Potter inherited the invisibility cloak. So, while they weren’t present in the series, Harry’s grandparents were responsible for his possession of a lifesaving (and convenient) magical item. His maternal grandparents also died of natural causes before he was born.