Attitude note: I love the Harry Potter series and greatly respect its author, J.K. Rowling. The existence of this little piece in no way implies a dislike of her or her work. It's just fun to analyze the books. Also, other authors have benefited from fans pointing out inconsistencies. JRR Tolkien, author of one of the most popular book series of all time, openly says in his Introduction that he has smoothed out inconsistencies that fans noticed in earlier editions.
Spoiler warning: The following openly discusses plot points in all the books, and would ruin surprises for anyone who has not read the entire series.
"Plot holes" borrowed from:
With bad grammar and spelling cleaned up (a bit), and comments and additional observations added by me.
Kreacher's Tale (Deathly Hallows)
Kreacher tells Harry Ron & Hermoine that Regulus double crossed Voldemort by replacing the Horcrux locket with a phony containing only a note. He does this by drinking all of the potion in the basin then Kreacher has orders to take the Horcrux locket and put the phony in the basin. Regulus dies from drinking the potion. How does the basin once again get filled up with the potion that Dumbledore must later drink to get the phony locket (which he believes to be real)? When Kreacher was with Voldy the first time to test out the potion, Kreacher clearly states that Voldy made him drink the potion, then seeing it worked, put the Horcrux locket in the basin and FILLED IT UP WITH POTION AGAIN. Regulus could not and did not do this. So why was there potion in the basin when Dumbledore arrived years later to claim the phony locket?
Voldemort's Wand in Fourth book
Harry's dad came out before his mom, but it should have been the other way around. Since his dad died before his mom, his mom should have come out before his dad.
True, I believe this is fixed in the paperback release.
Confirmed, it was fixed in the paperback release. Lily Potter came out first, and said to Harry, "Hold on for your father. Then, James came out.
Bob comment: For those of you who ignored the spoiler warning and are wondering what "came out" means: There is a scene where spectral versions of people killed by Voldemort's wand appear. They "come out" of the wand in the reverse order of how he murdered them.
How come Harry couldn't see the thestrals on the way home at the end of the fourth book?
Maybe Harry just wasn't paying attention. It never says that Harry looked at the carriages but saw no thestrals. He might have been looking at the ground, or busy talking to Ron.
Bob comment: For those who ignored the Spoiler warning, here's an explanation of the conflict: In the fourth book, after seeing Cedric Diggory die, Harry is taken from Hogwarts to the local train station by carriage. We learn at the beginning of the next book that the carriages are drawn by invisible animals called thestrals that can only be seen by people who have witnessed death. You could take the argument further and ask why Harry couldn't see the threstals from day one, since as an infant he witnessed the murder of his mother. You could answer yourself that an infant wouldn't understand what he was seeing and thus not be affected.
How does Harry get the Marauder's Map back from the fake Moody???
In the fourth book the fake Moody borrows the map off Harry and never gives it back yet in the fifth, sixth and seventh books he uses it all the time. How does he get it back???
Maybe he managed to get it back after the real Moody was discovered?
Bob comment: I'd have to go back and look at the book, but doesn't the fake Moody die in Harry's presence? Seems like it wouldn't be difficult to retrieve the map off his person or from his belongings. JK can't describe every tiny event.
Portkey to Voldemort
Why did harry have to go thru the triwizard tourney just to get to a portkey? Couldn't Crouch just have been all like "hey harry take a drink out of this giant cup" and skipped over the risk of having harry die during the trials, or someone else getting to the cup first?
Perhaps it was the grandeur of Harry being in the TWT... Voldemort does love things of high significance and power.
When Dumbledore meets Tom Riddle the first time, Tom says he can speak to snakes. Years later when the Chamber of Secrets is opened isn't Tom the only one who could have done it?
If speaking to snakes is a sign of being an heir of Slytherin and the heir of Slytherin being the only person who can open the chamber of secrets, wouldnt Dumbledore have realized that Tom Riddle, not Hagrid, opened the chamber.
Bob-noticed plot hole related to the above one:
Hagrid Not Redeemed
Years later, in the second book, when the chamber is opened again, Tom's book horcrux is destroyed, and Tom is absolutely proved to be the heir of Slytherin, Harry is redeemed as NOT being the heir of Slyterin. Shouldn't Hagrid also be officially redeemed in the wizarding world? Yet in the remaining books he is still not allowed to possess a wand and practice magic.
Lupin and The Marauders map
In the third book, Lupin says he was watching Harry, Hermione and Ron making their way down to Hagrids. When Harry and Hermione use the time turner they hide in a broom cuboard and listen to themselves go past. Wouldn't Lupin see two sets of Harrys and Hermiones, same goes for Snape when he finds it on Lupins desk.
Why not use the time turner to go back and prevent Voldemort's birth?
If you read Prisoner of Azkaban carefully you realise that time is a closed loop, when Harry & Hermione go back in time they don't actually change anything, they cause what happened (i.e Buckbeak was not actually executed, it wasn't James who conjured the Patronus, it was Harry). Therefore as Voldemort exists in the present nothing can be done in the past to change that. It would appear that the time turners can only be used to go back in time a few hours. Hermione turned over the hourglass three times in order to go back three hours. Therefore it would have to be turned many thousands of times just to go back one year.
Bob time travel observations related to the above:
Time travel poisons the whole series.
In the third book we learn that wizards have the ability to travel in time. Doesn't this poison the entire series? No event is fixed. You can always go back and have another crack at everything. This is particularly true in the last book. One of the surviving Death Eaters could travel back in time to the preceding day and tell Voldemort not to go to Hogwarts, because "things don't work out too well." Better still, they could give that time-turner quite a few twists and go back far enough to kill Harry's parents before they meet each other. One of the above comments suggests that time-turners can only take you back a few hours, but that would be more than enough to prevent Voldemort's death or any unwanted outcome of an event. The comment that time travelers are in a loop and don't affect future events is flawed, circular reasoning: 'It happens because it happens.'
Harry's blood protection and Voldemort
When Voldemort was resurrected with harry's blood and gained the ability to touch him, wouldn't that mean the protection in Durleys home be bypassed too?
Bob comment: No, because the author wrote it that way. This is not a plot hole, it's a plot decision.
Harry's face after getting caught by the snatchers
In the Deathly Hallows, Hermione jinxes Harry's face to make it unrecognizable right before the snatchers grab them. And once they arrive at Malfoy Manor, he can hardly see anything through his eyes. Yet, once they are thrown into the cellar, he can see fine and we are left to assume that somehow his face just went back to normal.
Bob comment: I'd have to go back and re-read this, but isn't it well established in the series that spells simply stop after a while? For example, when Harry and Ron make themselves look like Crabbe and Goyle, they run into trouble when they start looking like themselves again.
Defense Against the Dark Arts (DADA) Post
In HBP Dumbledore says the post of DADA is cursed, because they've never had a teacher stay longer than a year after Voldemort was refused the post. But in the first book Hagrid speaks of Quirrell taking a year off, and being afraid of his subject and students... it seems like he's been there longer than the year he's teaching Harry... Doesn't it?
In Chamber of Secrets Percy, as a prefect, takes points away from Griffindor... but in Order of the Phoenix Ron says that prefects can't take away points... what?
If I remember correctly, Malfoy takes points away from Ernie Macmillan and Ron tells him that prefects can't take points away from *other prefects* and Malfoy responds that he's a member of the Inquisitorial Squad, and so he can take points away from anyone. Therefore, Percy was legal in taking away points from whoever it was in COS (Ron? Malfoy? I don't remember) because the person wasn't a fellow prefect.
The entire Sirius storyline is dependent on him being the secret-keeper for James and Lilly, yet at Shell Cottage Bill is HIS OWN secret-keeper. Um, what? Why didn't James just become his own secret keeper?
Dumbledore was Bill's secret keeper
No, Bill specifically stated that both the Burrow and Shell Cottage were under the Fidelius and that Arthur was the S.K. for the Burrow and HE was S.K. for Shell Cottage. He also comments that they can't leave (had to quit their jobs) because of it, but it beats getting killed.
Why not kill Voldemort with Avada Kadavra?
Why didn't someone just sneak up behind Voldemort, cast Avada Kadava on him? That would lose him his body so he'd just be a useless spirit again, right?
In 1st book Hagrid clearly states "There's not a single witch or wizard who went bad who wasn't in Slytherin", but at this point Hagrid (and everybody else) believed Sirius was one on Voldys biggest supporters, and Sirius was in Gryffindor.
The wording is a bit misleading, but I don't think he was saying that all bad witches and wizards came from Slytherin. He's saying that everyone who was in Slytherin ended up going bad. Perhaps this was a deliberate error by Rowling to show that Hagrid is not highly intelligent.
Lockhart cures werewolf...
In Chamber of Secrets Lockhart mentions in his book that he used the "Homomorphus" charm to cure a werewolf that cornered him in a telephone booth... but in the next book it says you can't cure a werewolf... What the heck? If you can't cure a werewolf why doesn't someone call him a liar?
Bob comment: Someone does. He is throughly exposed by the end of that book. Before that, presumably he bluffed his way along when asked about curing werewolves, just as he bluffed his way along about being able to do all the things he claims in his books.
If the fang destroyed the horcrux in the diary, and later the cup, why didn't it destroy the one in Harry? Comments:
Basically this is because Harry didn't die, therefore the Horcrux was not destroyed. You could say he didn't die in DH either, although it could be argued that he did, and it was the blood link to Voldemort that allowed him to 'come back'.
HOW DID HAGRID FLY?
In the first book in charper 5, Hagrid states to Harry that he 'flew' to the island to collect Harry when Harry asks him. How did Hagrid fly?? He couldn't have used the motor bike, as he would probably would have used it to get back. He wouldn't fit on a creature (otherwise what happened to it) or a broomstick. Nor could he have apparated as he said he flew (plus he probably can't anyway as he was expelled in his 3rd year.) So how did he fly there? And if he didnt fly how else could he have gotten there?! Comments:
Bob comment: This is not remotely a plot hole. Who says he couldn't fit on a broom or ride a creature? Who says all brooms are small? He could have a broom suited to his giant size. I'm sure the author would laugh at this "plot hole."
Snape and the Map
If James, Sirius, Lupin, and Peter referred to each other regularly as Prongs, Padfoot, Mooney, and Wormtail while at Hogwarts, how could Snape not have recognized the makers of the Marauder's Map when he first confiscates it from Harry?
He did know who Moony, Wormtail, Padfoot and Prongs were- that's why he asked Lupin if Harry had gotten the map "Directly from the manufacturers".
Bob comment: It is irrelevant whether Snapes knew. He would have said and done all that he did regardless of what he knew.
When Harry sees Voldemort/Lupin eating Unicorn blood, why did Quirrel walk forwards toward Harry? He should have been walking backwards if Voldey was drinking the blood. And if Voldey wasn't, why did Quirrel die?
Quirrel was drinking the unicorn blood FOR Voldemort. And Quirrel died because of Harry's Mother's sacrifice. Voldemort couldn't touch him without dieing, and that includes any being he was possessing. He could touch him after he was resurrected because he used Harry's Blood as "the blood of the enemy" which basically canceled out the protection.
Moody and Dumbledore can see through INVISIBILITY CLOAK even though it belongs to death?!
Moody has his magical eye, which can't necessarily see through invisibility cloaks, but they can tell you wherever any human is. It's must be imbued with the "Homonus Revelio" Charm
And anyways, the whole story about those items belonging to death was just a fairy tale. They were most likely made by three very skilled wizards.
HOW COULD DUMBLEDORE SEE THROUGH THE CLOAK
He couldn't (: He just wordlessley used Hommenium Revelio, a spell that can detect human presence in a place! thats how he knew harry was there.
INDOOR PLUMBING TO REACH THE CHAMBER IS 900 YRS TOO EARLY
Yes, but a castle is also way too early.
THE ELDER WAND
How did Dumbledore defeat, but not kill, Gridelwald, the holder of the Elder Wand...did he just hand it over and willingly go to prison?
Same as the cloak, the Hallows weren't as infallible as LEGEND suggested.
Also its not necessary to kill... it's stated by Ollivander in HPTDH that to possess a wand it's only necesarry to beat the previous owner so its alliance will change... and this holds true for every one.
Bob comment: This is thoroughly explained in the book, including Harry getting the wand's alliance when he defeats (stuns without killing) folks at the Malfoy residence.
POTTER FAMILY TREE?
Where are James and Lily's parents...Harry's Grandparents? Sirius stayed with them in the summertime, much like Harry visited the Weasleys, but no mention of what happened to them...
Good point, assume they're dead but this is never mentioned.
Actually it is...in the first book it is stated that the Dursleys were the only family left for Harry, meaning that his grandparents were most likely dead.
WHY DID MOODYíS SPELLS REMAIN AFTER HE DIED?
I would assume some spells are not reliant on the caster living.
But in HP6, Harry noticed Dumbledore's spell lifted when he died?
That would be a spell reliant on a lving caster ;)
If every spell stopped working after the caster died, then how come all those things in Sirius' house still had permanent sticking charms?
WHY DIDNíT HERMOINE JUST MULTIPLY THE STORE-BOUGHT FOOD? (Deathly Hallows)
Mentioned in the book, one of Golapalotts (?) laws
One of the five elemental laws of transfiguration, I guess?
You can multiply food if you have it... that's one of the exceptions to Golapalotts law. But at that time, they thought Harry might still have the trace on him (It was really because Voldemort's name was taboo), so they didn't dare do magic or they would risk revealing themselves.
The Weasley Twins performing magic (doing their experiments at home) while being underage and away from school
Dumbledore tells Harry in the 6th book that only magic can be detected at a location, not the person who performed the magic. It is up to the wizarding parents to hold their children accountable for using magic outside of school. They know (or assume) that it is Harry at his Aunt and Uncle's because he is the only wizard in the area. Bob comment: Also, the Ministry of Magic is shown to have a powerful bias against Harry, so they would act against him while ignoring minor infractions by other underage wizards.
Giant mom, human dad....how does that work?
Use your imagination ;-)
SO THE RESURRECTION STONE IS JUST LEFT IN THE WOODS?
RESURRECTION STONE- WHY DIDNíT IT CONJUR GAUNTíS WIFE ?
He didn't know what it was so never tried.
Voldemort never knew what it was so it's very possible his elders didn't know either.
HOW DID MCGONAGAL CONJURE SANDWITCHES?
They already existed, probably in the kitchens, she just summoned them, rather than conjured them
If Wormtail killed Cedric, how come he came out of voldemort's wand in the fourth book?
Wormtail used Voldemort's phoenix feather wand to kill Cedric Diggory in Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire.
THE GIFT OF THE LOCKET DIDN'T SET KREACHER FREE?
Does a locket count as clothes?
Bob comment: It is irrelevant whether Kreacher is "free." He would say and do all the same things regardless.
HERMOINE USED MAGIC ON THE TRAIN WHILE UNDERAGE....
I assume you're making the point of why the 'Trace' didn't detect this, and so why wasn't Hermione disciplined? The answer is the trace detects magical activity, but not the perpertrator, as The Hogwarts Express is full of students they could never pin magic down to an underage witch/wizard
Bob comment: And students are probably permitted to perform magic on the Hogwarts Express. After all, it departs from a secret platform that muggles can't access, and apparently is as invisible to muggles as Hogwarts itself is.
WHERE WAS FLUFFY DURING THE FINAL BATTLE OF HOGWARTS?
Bob comment: Agreed, irrelevant. Maybe he was in the thick of it, maybe he died of old age two years earlier. Who cares?
DOBBY PROMISED HARRY IN CHAMBER HE WOULD NEVER SAVE HIS LIFE AGAIN, SO HOW DID HE DISOBEY AND SAVE HIM AT MALFOY MANNER?
Dobby was a free elf, he chose to obey Harry but was not bound to.
Dobby was also working at Hogwarts still, whilst Snape was the Headmaster so he was just obeying Snape.
Bob comment: Dobby made no such promise. Go back and look.
HOW DID SIRIUS PAY FOR HARRYS BROOM WHEN HE WAS ON THE RUN?
I believe this is mentioned, but I'd have to reread to be sure.
He had Crookshanks get the money out of his family's gringots vault, then also had him buy the broom.
I thought he ordered it via mail and had the money taken out of his bank.
Bob comment: Amazon.com? Who cares? The above explanations more than cover it.
AFTER 7 KIDS, WHY DOES MRS. WEASLY NOT KNOW HOW TO ENTER THE PLATFORM?
The only hint in this regard is when she asks "What's the platform number?" She was probably only asking in order to allow one of the children to answer (it was Ginny in fact). As a parent I do this all the time, it helps the kids to feel smart and helpful.
And here's another page, this time with better grammar, and comments added by me: http://media.www.dennews.com/media/storage/paper309/news/2008/02/19/Opinions/Harry.Potter.PlotHoles-3218288.shtml
Harry Potter plot-holes, by columnist Lauren Davidson. Issue date: 2/19/08 Section: Opinions.
In the fifth book, Harry doesn't use Sirius' two-way mirror for contact. Sirius tells him straight-out to use it whenever he wants to talk, but instead Harry spends half the book trying to come up with ways to reach his Godfather. Very weird.
Bob comment: This always bothered me. The mirror clearly seems to be planted in the storyline for future communication with Sirrius. But when the mirror finally creeps back into the storyline, its only function is to give Harry a glimpse of an eye watching him, which we later learn is Dumbledore's brother. You could take the mirror out of the story and not impact it.
Talking paintings of Hogwarts headmasters:
On a similar note, why doesn't Harry simply find a painting of Dumbledore to communicate with him in the seventh book? I read an interview with Rowling at Carnegie Hall this past summer, and the biggest reason it was done was "it really would be too easy and [we] wouldn't have had a plot." Fans might remember this interview as being the same one that finally cleared up yet another plot-hole: the issue of Dumbledore's (lack of a) love life. In reading over the script for the sixth movie, Rowling actually had to scribble in the margins of a scene where Dumbledore had lines in which he reminisced about a former (female) love. Rowling's comment to the director? "Dumbledore's gay!"
Bob comment: Are the movies "canon"? That is, are things that happen in the movies sanctioned by J.K. Rowling, or only things that happen in the books? I ask because of the above note about Dumbledore's sexuality, which is never discussed in the books. As I write this, the seventh book is soon due to come out (no pun intended) as a two-movie extravaganza. These movies potentially address Dumbledore's sexuality. If they do, is he officially gay? Or is it still left to the imagination of the reader?
Cell phones: It has always bugged me that Harry and his friends didn't have cell phones when they were constantly in situations that could be helped by them. However, I can hardly blame Rowling for wanting to keep the plot more interesting and create more difficulties for the characters. Plus, you finally learn in the seventh book that Harry was born in 1980, so the books are supposed to be taking place in the early-to-mid 90s. I guess in 1997 there were still some people who didn't have cell phones.
Since I am the same age as Harry Potter, I can speak to the cell phone issue. Nobody had cell phones while I was in High School. Some people had pagers, but cell phone plans were still too expensive at that point.
Cell Phones: The Harry Potter books take place 10 years ago 1991-1998, and High School students didn't carry around cell phones back then. Europe might have had wide use of cell phones sooner - they've caught on to technological networks faster than the US has, but still, wizarding families don't seem to be part of the rest of the world.
For those people who don't pay attention to details in books you would know that in the fourth book it is stated that muggle electronics like cellphones do not work in the wizarding world.
Bob comment: This snarky post seems to be missing the point of Davidson's article. The question is: Why did Rowling choose to write that bit in the fourth book and not allow cell phones? Plus, what is the wizarding world? It's just people in OUR world who are wizards. When outside a magical place like Hogwarts, the Ministry of Magic or Platform 9 & three-quarters, there's no reason a wizard couldn't use a cell phone. Though Harry was a wizard his first eleven years (without knowing it), he used muggle technology. Do Londons wizard use the city water, or do they magick water out of the air? Plumbing is muggle technology.
Book three: Time travel. "About three turns would do it." How about 25, 50, 0r 100? Put Scabbers in a cage, take him to the ministry of magic.
Finally, it is humorously pointed out in a YouTube video (at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xWCYDaZHl6Q) that it seems odd Harry is almost the only character who wears glasses, and he never uses magic to fix his eyes. I suppose it's stated somewhere in the canon that you can't do that, but it seems inconsistent with the demonstrated ability to magically fix other ailments such as missing bones and being poisoned. However, it IS consistent with Moody's physical ailments: if it was possible to magically get a fixed nose, a new eye and a new leg, it seems like he'd want to.
In summary, I have mostly shown others' observations, and added my own comments.
But I HAVE come up with a few bits of my own, and I think the biggest is this:
HAGRID - Back in Hagrid's student days, he was not allowed to graduate, and to the end of the series he still is not allowed to possess a wand and practice magic. This is punishment for opening the Chamber of Secrets and unleashing a monster that killed a student. Dumbledore knows this not to be true, but the rest of the wizarding world is allowed to believe it, and thus Hagrid remains punished. Dumbledore still gives him a job. HOWEVER, at the end of the second book, it has been publicly established that Tom Riddle, not Hagrid, opened the Chamber. SO, why isn't Hagrid redeemed? Why is he not given a diploma and a wand?
- Bob Fahey, 6/30/2010