Harry Potter Trivia: 5 Major Changes from the Books to the Films

From The Sorcerer’s Stone to The Deathly Hallows, the Harry Potter films took great care in following the books. While they sometimes differed or truncated, they kept the same themes, narratives, developments, and — mostly — the same characters, enabling both avid book fans and Wizarding World newcomers alike a chance to experience and enjoy this magical story.

However, there were some significant alterations. Often, these changes saved time — The Goblet of Fire, for instance, is 700+ pages of material that couldn’t fit into a two and a half hour long movie. Sometimes these changes even became major absences or strange, missing plot details.

Did they mess up the movies? No. But if you’re ever at a Harry Potter Trivia Night, knowing these five differences might mean the difference between an O (outstanding) or a T (troll) score. So, like Hermione Granger herself, let’s dive in for a bit of light reading!

House Elves

In The Chamber of Secrets, the house elf Dobby is an essential character. He tries to prevent Harry Potter from returning to Hogwarts and causes trouble the entire time Harry is at school. After this film, however, Dobby and the rest of the house elves are largely absent from the rest of the series.

In the books, there are hundreds of them at the Wizarding School, as well as other personal servants such as Winky. This is most important in The Goblet of Fire. Since the elves are excluded from the fourth movie, Neville Longbottom is given many of the actions that would have been completed by Dobby, such as giving Harry a Gillyweed plant for his Triwizard Tournament task. While the plot remained intact, this switch was one of the most noticeable.

St. Mungo’s Hospital for Magical Maladies

Also found in The Chamber of Secrets is a secondary antagonist named Gilderoy Lockhart. A liar and pretender, Lockhart attempts to obliviate Ron Weasley with a broken wand. When the spell misfires and turns on him, Lockhart loses his memory. But what becomes of this wizard?

He is taken to St. Mungo’s Hospital for Magical Maladies, except that isn’t expanded upon until The Deathly Hallows when we also meet Neville’s parents. In The Order of the Phoenix, Neville reveals his parents were tortured into insanity by Bellatrix Lestrange.

In the seventh book, but never in the film, we see Lockhart alongside Alice and Frank Longbottom in the same wing of this wizarding hospital. It’s an incredibly emotional scene where we actually slow down and see much darker sides of magic and its consequences, and it’s a shame we never got that resolution onscreen.

Voldemort’s Parentage

Lord Voldemort

The films do show us many of Tom Riddle/Lord Voldemort’s memories. From the diary Horcrux that almost killed Ginny Weasley to Dumbledore’s Pensieve trips, we are given a ton of this villain’s backstory. Yet that’s barely the half of it.

Voldemort was conceived by a witch named Merope Riddle. Her family was abusive and Pure-Blood with implied inbreeding and ancestral ties to Salazar Slytherin. Voldemort’s father was … a muggle. With all Voldemort’s anti-muggle rhetoric, that’s a pretty shocking reveal. What’s more shocking — and disturbing — is that the relationship was not consensual. Merope used a love potion on Tom Riddle Sr., and it is theorized that Voldemort is unable to love because of that.

Because of the twisted nature of this information, it makes sense why it didn’t make it into children’s movies.

Draco Malfoy

Draco in The Prisoner of Azkaban

Draco Malfoy is one of the most complex characters in the series. In the films, he’s reduced to a bully until the sixth movie and, even then, his redemption is extremely simplified. Below are the biggest changes to cover from all seven books and eight films.

In The Prisoner of Azkaban, Draco knows how to properly and gently open the Monster Book of Monsters. He also respects Buckbeak the hippogriff. In the film, there’s a scene during Hagrid’s Care of Magical Creatures class where Draco demonstrates his typical brashness to call the creature a chicken. But Buckbeak in the book actually bows for the young Slytherin, and Draco only insults him later.

In The Half-Blood Prince, Draco befriends an unlikely fellow (sort-of) student. He’s often seen crying with and confiding in Moaning Myrtle, a character who also disappeared after The Chamber of Secrets.

Finally, in The Deathly Hallows, Narcissa, Lucius, and Draco Malfoy do not leave The Great Hall. They defect from Voldemort’s army and betray the other Death Eaters. In the films, they simply run off with the other losers.

If you want to know more about some of the Draco differences between the movies and books, you can read all about Draco Malfoy’s 5 Best Moments.

The Marauders

The top spot on this list goes to the baffling decision in The Prisoner of Azkaban to never explicitly reveal who the marauders are. There are hints, but they’re clues only book readers would pick up on.

Messrs Padfoot, Moony, Wormtail, and Prongs are none other than the Gryffindor students Sirius Black, Remus Lupin, Peter Pettigrew, and James Potter. A band of merry mischief makers, the marauders mapped many of the secret passages in the castle to sneak their werewolf friend out during the full moon. They were consistently at odds with Severus Snape, especially James, and the tensions of that rivalry reverberate throughout the series.

This is probably the most upsetting change because it leaves movie-only viewers with a giant mystery. Never revealing the identities of the map’s creators misses out on rich backstory for Harry’s parents and their generation of Hogwarts students. We hope it’s solved now, and you can rewatch the third movie with this new and exciting knowledge.

Other Changes

These smaller changes also deserve a shout-out. Here’s a list of trivia items that will give you a fun advantage in any N.E.W.T. level Harry Potter quiz!

  • In the film, Harry breaks and throws away the Elder Wand. In the book, he uses the Elder Wand to instead restore his own broken wand.
  • Rita Skeeter is an Animagus (like Sirius and McGonagall) who transforms into a beetle.
  • There is a pesky poltergeist living in the Hogwarts castle named Peeves.
  • There are more tasks in both the route to the Sorcerer’s Stone and in the Triwizard Tournament maze than are shown onscreen, such as a potions test and a Sphinx’s riddle.
  • The flying motorbike Hagrid rides originally belonged to Sirius Black.

Would you ace your Harry Potter trivia? Let us know in the comments, and don’t forget to Let Your Geek Sideshow!