It’s been over 20 years since the first Harry Potter book hit our shelves, but the series is still as popular as ever. It’s a saga that an entire generation became immediately hooked on, whether through the books or their film adaptations. Basically every millennial knows who Harry, Ron, and Hermione are, and most of us have some pretty strong opinions about our favorite characters and their antics.

The real beauty of the Potterverse is how darn massive it is. Alongside the original books you’ve got the Fantastic Beastss franchise, Pottermore, The Cursed Child, and J.K. Rowling‘s occasional Twitter revelations. This wealth of source material has given fans the chance to come up with some wild and wacky fan theories about their favorite – or least favorite – characters. Are Ron Weasley and Dumbledore the same person? Is Draco Malfoy a secret werewolf? Read on, and judge for yourselves whether these fan theories are legit…

17. Voldemort, Harry & Snape are the Three Brothers – and Dumbledore is Death

In The Deathly Hallows, we’re told the story of three brothers: one with an excessive lust for power, one who let lost love control his life, and one who has a knack for avoiding death. The three all encounter Death himself, with varying consequences. According to this fan theory, power-crazed Tom Riddle represents the first brother – makes sense. Snape lets his love for Lily Potter control his actions for pretty much all of his life – that makes him brother number two. Harry represents the third brother due to his knack for not dying when he really should – except when he chose to “greet Death like an old friend” in the climactic Forbidden Forest scene. Who does Harry ‘greet’ while he’s briefly dead? Dumbledore, of course. Dumbledore is Death. He manipulates all three characters into making choices that reflect the brothers’ fates. IT MAKES SO MUCH SENSE.

16. Ron is a time-traveling Dumbledore

This slightly mad fan theory doesn’t hold up under much scrutiny, but hey – it’s quite fun. Some fans believe that Ron Weasley and Albus Dumbledore are in fact one person due to the mystical ways of time travel. Dumbledore is an older Ron from the future. Here’s the evidence: both are natural redheads. Both have sustained injuries to their left leg at some point. They both like chocolate and candy and both apparently have “large hands.” Yeah… I did warn you this one was pretty dubious. It would explain, however, how Dumbledore always seems to know what’s going on – he’s lived it all before in his Ron form. Still… It’s not very convincing.

15. Harry, Ron, and Hermione shouldn’t have been in Gryffindor

We all know that Harry wasn’t always going to be a Gryffindor. The Sorting Hat initially wanted to put him in Slytherin but relented when Harry begged him not to do so. This theory suggests that Ron and Hermione were also initially destined for other houses. Hermione’s extreme intelligence makes her a perfect candidate for Ravenclaw. However, prior to the ceremony, she’s heard saying that she’d rather be a Gryffindor. How do we know she didn’t say the same to the hat? Likewise, Ron basically has Hufflepuff written all over him. He’s incredibly loyal, a tad clueless at times, and has a heart of gold. However, considering his entire family was sorted into Gryffindor, it would be a bit embarrassing if he was in the odd one out. So, just like Harry and Hermione, he had the courage to ask to be in Gryffindor himself. Interesting…

14. The Dursleys were only awful because they were living with a Horcrux

While I’m not usually one to provide excuses for a family who literally committed child abuse, this theory actually makes a lot of sense. In Deathly Hallows, it’s revealed that Harry is actually one of Voldemort’s Horcruxes. Now, being near a Horcrux clearly has a negative effect on people’s state of mind. Think Ron storming off after wearing the locket for about five minutes, and Ginny being totally manipulated by Tom Riddle’s diary. Well, what if the Dursleys were only so awful to Harry because they were living in such close proximity to a Horcrux for eleven years? What if they were secretly good people who were being twisted by the fragment of Voldemort’s soul that was encased in Harry? I mean, it doesn’t excuse them locking him in a cupboard for most of his childhood, but it maybe explains it.

13. Neville Longbottom wasn’t inept — he was using the wrong wand

Neville Longbottom is a major source of comedic relief in the Harry Potter universe thanks to his bumbling ways. However, he’s also got one of the most tragic backstories of any character. During the First Wizarding War, the Death Eaters tortured his parents, Frank and Alice, so severely that they were driven mad. In honor of his brave parents, Neville decided to use his father’s wand when he left for Hogwarts. While it’s a lovely gesture, it actually goes against the cardinal rule of wand use: the wand must choose the wizard, not the other way round. Neville’s father’s wand knows that it no longer has the correct user, so refuses to work properly. Thus, Neville’s slight issues when it comes to casting magic aren’t because he’s inept: he’s just been using the wrong wand all along. It makes a lot of sense!

12. Professor McGonagall was a Death Eater

I FEEL PERSONALLY ATTACKED BY THIS THEORY. How dare these people suggest that total badass and queen among witches Minerva McGonagall is actually a secret Death Eater? The evidence is as follows. Back in book one, McGonagall describes Muggles as “not completely stupid”; this obviously means she’s a closet racist who wants to eradicate all non-purebloods. She’s a master at illusion and deception, being both Hogwarts’ Transfiguration professor and a registered animagus. This must mean she’s lying to everyone about her allegiances and is secretly evil. The fact that she doesn’t do more to stop Harry getting in dangerous situations is actually deliberate sabotage in an attempt to have him killed. NO. I WON’T HAVE IT. MINERVA IS BAE. SHE CAN’T BE EVIL!

11. The first book foreshadows the rest of the series

In the first Potter book, Harry, Ron, and Hermione have to overcome a series of tasks in order to reach the Sorcerer’s Stone. Well, what if each of those tasks actually foreshadowed another book in the series? Devil’s Snare is linked to Harry and Ron’s run-in with the Whomping Willow, another pretty nasty plant, in Chamber of Secrets. The Quidditch match in Prisoner of Azkaban where Harry is attacked by Dementors is foreshadowed by the room with the broomsticks and winged keys. McGonagall’s chess set looks a bit like a graveyard, a key setting in Goblet of Fire. The knocked-out troll represent’s Hagrid’s giant brother Grawp, introduced in Order of the Phoenix, while the potion task was set by Snape – the actual Half-Blood Prince. Harry eventually has to fight Voldemort, something he does once again in Deathly Hallows. Is your mind blown yet? Mine is!

10. The whole story takes place in Harry’s mind

If you want to read a theory that’ll leave you totally miserable, this is the one for you. This pretty dark fan theory suggests that none of the events of the Harry Potter series actually happened: they’re all a figment of an abused child’s imagination. Apparently, the emotional and mental abuse that Harry suffered at the hands of the Dursley family caused him to have some kind of mental break. This insanity caused him to dream up an entirely fictional world of witches and wizards in which he escapes his abusers and becomes a hero. We really hope this one isn’t true because of how utterly depressing it is.

9. Ginny drugged Harry with a love potion

Ah, Ginny and Harry: the ultimate Harry Potter love story… that actually materialized suspiciously suddenly. We know that Ginny had feelings for Harry from quite a young age – from at least her first year of Hogwarts back in Chamber of Secrets. Harry never seemed to reciprocate her crush, until in Half Blood-Prince he — all of a sudden — is totally in love with her. Hmmmm… Did somebody say ‘love potion’? If their love was a slow-burner we’d understand it a bit more, but on Harry’s side, the feelings seemed to appear in a day. Did Ginny get sick of waiting for Harry to realize they were meant to be together and slip him a bit of something? Is she still putting a couple of drops in his coffee every single day to keep his feelings for her strong? It’s a sinister thought…

8. Hufflepuff is the stoner house

Okay, let’s look at the evidence here. The Hufflepuff common room is right next to the kitchens – very convenient for students who get the munchies. Cedric Diggory, a famous Hufflepuff, must have been high out of his mind to consider putting the egg in the water during Goblet of Fire. No sober person would do that! Hufflepuffs have a reputation for being generally very chilled-out. Their Head of House is a Herbology teacher who has greenhouses full of magical plants and… weeds? Plus, HufflePUFF. Come on. It’s obvious. They’re a bunch of total stoners.

7. Muggles once defeated wizards in a war

In the modern-day wizarding world, relations between Muggles and wizards are pretty much non-existent. Aside from the regular contact between the British Prime Minister and the Minister for Magic, any form of communication between the two groups is highly discouraged. Despite this, Muggles seem to have picked up some Wizarding words and phrases – for example, ‘Abracadabra,’ a word that sounds suspiciously like ‘Avada Kedavra.’

Some fans have suggested that this is a hangover from a past time when Muggles and Wizards were in contact… But not in a good way. They believe that a war previously took place between magical and non-magical folk and that the Muggles won. The Muggles remembered phrases like ‘Avada Kedavra’ from this time, and such magical language remained in their vocabulary in a corrupted form. This would explain why a lot of wizards say derogatory things about Muggles, Muggle-born wizards, and Half-Bloods; it’s a hangup from this historical war.

6. Draco Malfoy is a werewolf

While Draco Malfoy is an irritating little weasel for most of the Harry Potter series, you can’t help but feel a bit sorry for him. His family forces him to join their racist cult, even though by his late teens he’s really not that convinced by it all. He’s ordered to kill Dumbledore, an idea that causes him pretty obvious inner turmoil. Plus, this theory suggests that he has another strike in the ‘pity me’ column: Draco is actually a werewolf.

Some fans have suggested that after Lucius Malfoy failed to retrieve the prophecy in Order of the Phoenix, Voldemort punished him by having his son bitten by Fenrir Greyback, infamous werewolf, and bona fide Death Eater. It explains why Draco is so jumpy and apparently sickly in the last two books: he’s trying to deal with this new affliction. While there’s no hard evidence from the books to support the theory, there’s also nothing that totally disproves it…

5. Harry is King Arthur

Okay, so this theory is pretty off the wall. Some fans believe that Harry is either a descendant of King Arthur or a reincarnation of the man himself. We know that the Arthurian wizard Merlin did actually exist in the Harry Potter universe: he appears on a Chocolate Frog card, for starters. For this reason, it’s logical to assume that other characters from the Arthurian legend existed too.

Harry does seem like a prime candidate for the role of Arthur. He pulls a sword out of somewhere unexpected (a hat rather than a stone), he’s an orphan (like Arthur), and while Dumbledore’s Army doesn’t exactly sit around a round table, they’re basically Harry’s faithful knights. Arthurian legend suggests that the king would be reincarnated when his country needed him most: I’m pretty sure that a dark wizard threatening to kill everyone qualifies as a time of need. Is Harry secret royalty? I guess we’ll never know.

4. Mrs. Norris is actually Mrs. Filch

This pretty sad theory suggests that Filch keeps Mrs. Norris around not because of his love of cats, but for deeper reasons. Some fans have hypothesized that Mrs. Norris is actually the cat form of Filch’s wife, an animagus whose transformation once went wrong. For some reason or another, Mrs. Filch ended up stuck as a cat for the rest of her life, leaving her husband heartbroken. That’s why he’s so protective of his kitty, and why he gets quite so upset when she’s petrified: she’s actually his wife. It would explain why Filch is so miserable all of the time – wouldn’t you be if the love of your life was stuck in animal form forevermore?

3. Dumbledore saw some of himself in first-year Neville

Who doesn’t love that scene at the end of Sorcerer’s Stone when Dumbledore awards Neville the house points that win Gryffindor the House Cup? It’s a small victory for the slightly hapless first-year, even if a lot of people think Dumbledore only did it to make sure Gryffindor won. However, one fan theory suggests that Dumbledore’s motives were a whole lot deeper than that. Neville is awarded the points for standing up to Harry, Ron, and Hermione when they sneak out at night yet again. Dumbledore could have appreciated this action so much because it reminded him of his own friendship/maybe more-than-friendship with Grindelwald. The Hogwarts headmaster had to stand up to the man he loved when it became clear he was treading a dark path – he knows how hard it is. He rewards Neville because he sees a bit of himself in the courageous first-year.

2. Ron and Harry predicted the events of Goblet Of Fire

Remember that scene in Goblet of Fire when Harry and Ron get so sick of their Divination homework that they decide to make a ton of predictions up? Well, one fan theory suggests that their ‘fake’ prophecies actually outline the plot of the rest of the book. First, they decide that Harry will be “at risk of burns” – maybe from a dragon in the first Triwizard task? He’ll then lose “a treasured possession” – like in the second task, where Ron is held hostage and must be rescued from underwater? Next, Harry will be “stabbed in the back” by a so-called friend – Professor Moody, anyone – and come off worst in a fight. Well, I’d say his fight with Voldemort in the graveyard dealt some serious damage. Spooky, eh? Maybe Harry and Ron were better at Divination than they thought…

1. Crookshanks is actually Regulus Black

Harry Potter fans have come up with a ton of different theories about the ‘true’ identity of Hermione’s cat, Crookshanks. Is this feisty feline part-Kneasel? Is his ginger fur a sign that he’s a reincarnation of Lily Potter, whose sole purpose is to kill and eat Peter Pettigrew (in his Scabbers form, obviously)? Most intriguing is the idea that Crookshanks is actually Regulus Black, Sirius’ presumed-dead brother. Regulus used to be a disciple of Lord Voldemort but had a change of heart that led to him to stealing and hiding a Horcrux to eventually destroy. After this act of betrayal, he was never heard from again. Many people presumed that he was dead – but what if he, like his brother, was actually an Animagus? Maybe his animal form was a cat. His namesake, Regulus, is a star in the constellation Leo? It’s plausible, I suppose… But totally unproven.

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