14 Unnecessary Changes That Ruined The ‘Harry Potter’ Films For Book Readers

When the Harry Potter films originally debuted, fans were beyond impressed by the mostly faithful adaption. Starring Daniel Radcliffe, Emma Watson, and Rupert Grint, the eight films would go on to become highly treasured by the devoted Harry Potter fandom. However, while movies fans praised the Harry Potter films for their talented cast, eye-catching cinematography, and magical special effects, book readers couldn’t help but feel a little differently.

The dedicated book readers of Harry Potter had an array of complaints all stemming from small creative liberties the films took when adapting the novels by J. K. Rowling. In fact, book readers were quick to point out even the smallest changes that were made when adapting the seven novels into eight films.

From missing the Marauder’s map’s origin story to James Potter’s unflattering portrayal, here are 14 changes the Harry Potter films made that book readers are still upset about all these years later.

1. Please Explore Voldemort’s Background Story

Photo: Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire/Warner Brothers

Although the Harry Potter books focus mainly on the story of their titular hero, the origin of Voldemort, who was once Tom Riddle, is also given plenty of attention. Book Six is devoted in great part to Harry and Dumbledore’s journey through Riddle’s past via memories. In the books, Harry finds out about the personal history of not just Voldemort, but his immediate family members, too. Reddit user morsmodre92 feels that the omission of all this additional info about Voldemort’s past reduces him from how truly well-rounded as an evil villain he is in the books. The films make him less complex antagonist and more standard movie bad guy.

2. That Time Dumbledore Got A Little Too Aggressive

Photo: Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire/Warner Brothers

Albus Dumbledore is a beloved figure both in the pages of the Harry Potter books and onscreen in the film adaptations, but some fans take serious issue with a particular scene unique to the movies. In The Goblet of Fire, Dumbledore grabs Harry and roughly shakes him, demanding an answer as to whether Harry put his own name in the titular goblet. Dumbledore is right to be worried about the situation, but physically shaking a student and yelling at them is so ridiculously out of character for Dumbledore that this moment especially bothered book-reading fans.

3. An Unnecessary Action Sequence

Photo: Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince/Warner Brothers

Clearly, as a visual medium, film adaptations often feel the need to add action scenes on top of their source material, to keep up the pace of the movie. Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince did this in an added scene where the Deatheaters burn down the Burrow, the beloved home of the Weasley clan. This rubbed fans the wrong way. Reddit user WilfredoMaverick felt it was done to add cheap drama. To make it worse, the house was mysteriously rebuilt by the time the next movie came out, making it an especially pointless addition to the Harry Potter film canon.

4. Improperly Getting Rid Of The Elder Wand

Photo: Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part 2/Warner Bros.

A meaningful moment in the Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows involves Harry using the Elder Wand to repair his broken original wand. It shows that Harry hasn’t lost touch with who he is, despite the events he’s been through. One Redditer complains that the final film skipped this moment entirely, instead depicting Harry as breaking the Elder Wand in two without so much as a second thought. The movie never explains what ended up happening with Harry’s original wand.

5. The Marauder’s Map Remains A Mystery

Photo: Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban/Warner Brothers

Obviously, films don’t have as much time to play around with fun side stories as novels. Adaptations often have to cut a lot of background information and subplot from their storylines. This has happened quite a bit in the Harry Potter series, but Reddit user chaimahannachi thinks that the lack of a true backstory for the Marauders was the most glaring omission. The group, made up of James Potter, Remus Lupin, Sirius Black, and Peter Pettigrew, are the creators of the Marauder’s Map. Their friendship plays a very important role in the overall story of not only The Prisoner of Azkaban, but the entire series. Unfortunately, fans who only watched the film missed out on much of this personal history.

6. The Final Duel Was Done All Wrong

Photo: Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part II/Warner Brothers

Many fans, like Reddit user The_boy_who_read, are offended by the overly Hollywood-ized final battle in Harry Potter and the Death Hallows: Part Two. The death of Voldemort in the books is a very personal and intimate scene pitting Harry and his longtime nemesis in a duel. It isn’t a showy end and perfectly showcases why Harry and his compassionate nature was always going to win over Voldemort’s evil over assuredness. In the movie, Harry and Voldemort face off in an epic duel that features mid-flight combat, face-melding, and a Dragon Ball Z-style energy battle. It ends with Voldemort turning to ash in an unsatisfying display that doesn’t even allow viewers the satisfaction of looking at Voldemort’s dead body. It’s obvious why the filmmakers felt a more exciting ending was necessary, but fans felt that it cheapened the moment.

7. Give Dobby More Screen Time

Photo: Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part I/Warner Brothers

One common complaint among book fans about the Harry Potter films has to do with readers intense love for a specific character. Readers believe there is not nearly enough Dobby the House Elf. Reddit user KialandiVoron notes that the lovable little imp is only seen on a handful of occasions and that an entire book subplot about the rights and freedoms of house elves is largely removed. This lack of development for Dobby’s character in the movies greatly lessens the impact felt when he eventually sacrifices his life to save Harry.

8. There Was Zero Onscreen Chemistry Between Ginny And Harry

Photo: Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince/Warner Brothers

In the books, readers watch Ginny Weasley develop into a strong, smart, and sassy young woman who was every bit Harry’s equal and the perfect romantic interest for him. According to many book fans, including Reddit user potatochops, those qualities don’t show up in the film adaptation of Ginny. Movie Ginny’s personality is seriously lacking, making it a bit of a mystery why Harry falls for her in the first place. The adapted version of Ginny lacks a lot of the agency and independence that the book version displayed.

9. The Triwizard Tournament’s Maze Was Seriously Downgraded

Photo: Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire/Warner Brothers

In the novel Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, Harry and Cedric Diggory take on the final challenge of the Triwizard Tournament in the form of a gigantic maze. The book version of the maze is filled with all sorts of interesting things, like a riddle-spewing sphinx, a boggart, and even a blast-ended skrewt. None of these dynamic obstacles made it into the film adaptation. Instead, the maze was a fairly low-budget production with zero obstacles, featuring moving vines and little else to challenge the would-be champions. Readers were baffled that the film would skip over this final challenge in a rush to get to the film’s climax in the graveyard with Voldemort.

10. Casually Skipping Over A Very Important Moment

Photo: Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince/Warner Brothers

In both the books and the movies, the death of Dumbledore is perhaps the most shocking moment. While the books feature a somber and beautiful funeral ceremony for the legendary Hogwarts headmaster, allowing the characters to reflect on his importance and the sadness of his loss, the films quickly moves on to more important things. Some, like Reddit user willstealyourpillow, can’t believe that an event as momentous as Albus Dumbledore’s funeral was skipped, but that’s exactly how the film version of The Half-Blood Prince plays out.

11. Ignoring An Argument Between Harry And Hermione

Photo: Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban/Warner Brothers

Book fans who find fault with the films have devoted lists to every major discrepancy between the two representations of the Harry Potter universe. A good argument made on the blog Laura’s View points out that one of the biggest ones is the complete removal of any controversy surrounding Harry’s acquisition of his Firebolt broomstick in The Prisoner of Azkaban. In the novel, the broom arrives under suspicious circumstances, leading to a rift between Harry and Hermione when she rightfully expresses doubt at its dubious origins.

In the film, Harry gets a sweet mystery present with no consequences. The film’s final shot, a freeze-frame of Harry’s face as he rockets away on his Firebolt, only squeezes salt in the wound to those who see this as a major plot oversight.

12. The Mostly Missing Weasley Siblings

Photo: Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part I/Warner Brothers

The Weasley family is quite large, but their family’s representation in the films is much smaller than in the novels. Reddit user GamingTatertot thinks that the story is poorer because of it. The films completely omit the oldest brother, Charlie, who is seen in a photograph at one point but never on-screen. The movies only introduce Bill, the second oldest Weasley, until the very end of the story. And Percy has a much smaller role in the films after the first one, practically cutting out an entire storyline around his betrayal to his family. Granted, there is only enough time in the films to focus on so many characters, but as Harry’s adopted family, fans sorely miss seeing the elder ginger siblings and their influence on the overall story. 

13. Dumbledore Broke One Major Rule

Photo: Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban/Warner Brothers

The world of Harry Potter sets up a number of rules for magic which ensure that there’s some consistency to the story instead of a wizardry free-for-all. One of the established rules in the books is that apparating – the term for wizard teleporting – is impossible on Hogwarts grounds. This is so no one with evil intentions can just secretly appear on the grounds. Book fan Matthew Haynes notes that the films throw this rule completely out the door by having Dumbledore apparate on school grounds with no explanation as to how he is able to do so. His ability to do this makes later plot points about villains going to great lengths to devise sneaky access to the school more than a little nonsensical. 

14. Justice For James Potter

Photo: Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone/Warner Brothers

Harry Potter’s parents play an important role in his character development, despite having died several years before the events of the first novel. In the books, both of Harry’s parents are heavily featured, but the films focus more on the role of Lily, his mother.

Some fans, like Reddit user purpleKlimt, believe that this shift in focus results in James, Harry’s father, being poorly represented in the films. When flashbacks are shown of the fateful night when Voldemort attacked the Potter family, James is only depicted as lying dead on the floor. The fact that he attempted to battle Voldemort single-handedly is completely ignored. When parts of James’ past are shown on-screen, they’re usually the negative elements, like his bullying of Severus Snape. The films simply don’t do James Potter any justice.