The Harry Potter books are pretty different than the movies. This can be seen in depth over here.

My question however, is whether JK Rowling ever directly contradicted the movies with later books in ways that she hadn't before. In other words, a situation where the movies did not contradict canon up to that point, but where they did (inadvertently) contradict later book canon.

Did JK Rowling ever directly contradict the movies?

Inspired by this answer.

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    Here's a timeline showing when the books and the films were released. It shows the order of release was: book 1, book 2, book 3, book 4, film 1, film 2, book 5, film 3, book 6, film 4, film 5, book 7, film 6, film 7a, film 7b.
    – SQB
    Commented Feb 29, 2016 at 9:23
  • Relevant: pottertalk.net/2013/10/… Commented Mar 1, 2016 at 9:32
  • @MatthewRead - I find this even less relevant than SQB's comment.
    – ibid
    Commented Mar 1, 2016 at 12:35

3 Answers 3


Yes, at least twice.

Both come from Philosopher’s Stone, which was released a year after the book version of Goblet of Fire:

  • In the film, after escaping from Fluffy for the first time, Ron and Harry accompany Hermione up the stairs to her dormitory (1h3m).

    When they try to pull the same stunt in the book Order of the Phoenix, they discover the stairs are charmed so as to make this impossible:

    “Let’s go and tell her,” said Ron. He bounded forward, pulled open the door, and set off up the spiral staircase.

    He was on the sixth stair when it happened. There was a loud, wail- ing, klaxonlike sound and the steps melted together to make a long, smooth stone slide. There was a brief moment when Ron tried to keep running, arms working madly like windmills, then he toppled over backward and shot down the newly created slide, coming to rest on his back at Harry’s feet.

  • In the book, Harry loses consciousness before Quirrell dies.

    Harry jumped to his feet, caught Quirrell by the arm and hung on as tight as he could. Quirrell screamed and tried to throw Harry off – the pain in Harry’s head was building – he couldn’t see – he could only hear Quirrell’s terrible shrieks and Voldemort’s yells of ‘KILL HIM! KILL HIM!’ and other voices, maybe in Harry’s own head, crying, ‘Harry! Harry!’

    He felt Quirrell’s arm wrenched from his grasp, knew all was lost, and fell into blackness, down… down… down…

    He’s conscious for Quirrell’s death in the films, which should be the trigger for him to see Thestrals in subsequent years. But he doesn’t start to see them until Order of the Phoenix, to match the timeline in the books – because Thestrals hadn’t been introduced yet.

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    Your second one is the same as the one in TenthJustice’s answer, in case you hadn’t noticed. Commented Feb 29, 2016 at 7:53
  • One might be able to blame the first on the difference between accompanying and going by themselves. Commented Feb 29, 2016 at 8:12
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    Re. your first point (not being able to visit Hermione in OotP) I have a nagging feeling (but could easily be mistaken) that there was something in the books about this "anti-liaison" protection kicking in in later years (when pupils were old enough to need keeping apart), and so might not have been present/active in the first year.
    – TripeHound
    Commented Feb 29, 2016 at 10:25
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    @TripeHound Nothing in the books about that; their fifth year is the first time they try it, and Hermione's response is that the founders considered girls more trustworthy. Commented Feb 29, 2016 at 12:06
  • Regarding the Thestrals - surely baby Harry being awake should have triggered the susceptibility to the Thestrals, unless there is another requirement for the trigger, such as a need for the dead person to have a meaning to the survivor at the time of the death...? This would cancel out Quirrell's death as a trigger, just as it did for both of Harrys parents (babies that young recognise care givers but are not cognitively able to form attachments).
    – Moo
    Commented Mar 1, 2016 at 11:08

I’m not sure this is quite cut and dried as you’d hope, but the first thing that comes to mind is Lavender Brown’s skin colour.

(In)famously, by now, Lavender Brown was a minor character in the first movies, with no lines. She was portrayed by two black actresses: Kathleen Cauley (unverified) in Chamber of Secrets and Jennifer Smith in Prisoner of Azkaban.

When the first movies were made, of course, Half-Blood Prince wasn’t out yet and the casters didn’t know that Lavender would become an important character later on. The books never actually give a proper description of Lavender, but Half-Blood Prince does have the following quote:

Harry looked into the corner she was indicating. There, in full view of the whole room, stood Ron wrapped so closely around Lavender Brown it was hard to tell whose hands were whose.

While this could just be hyperbole, it at least implies that Lavender is white. If she were black (at least if she were as dark in skin tone as Kathleen Cauley and Jennifer Smith are), there would be absolutely no trouble telling her and Ron’s hands apart, regardless of how closely wrapped around each other they were.

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    Reminds of the meme where it shows how Harry, Hermione, Ron changed throughout the films, then it says Crabbe changed the most by becoming black xD Commented Feb 29, 2016 at 9:36
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    Now you have to prove that Ron is a white redhead. Commented Feb 29, 2016 at 13:13
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    Captioned image that illustrates her skin bleaching progress. Commented Feb 29, 2016 at 14:12
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    @Paul D’you know, that’s a good point. It’s definitely more heavily implied that Ron is white than Hermione (cf. the recent Noma Dumezweni débâcle), but I can’t think of anywhere in the book where Ron or Harry’s skin colour is stated outright. It would be extremely rare, though, to have an entire family of people who all had red hair, freckles, and dark skin. One or two members of an interracial family, sure; several entire generations—unlikely. Commented Feb 29, 2016 at 16:01
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    @JanusBahsJacquet - Aren't all three of them featured on the cover art for every book? At least the editions I've seen (both UK and US) have them. Do the original first-run editions not show them? Minor characters like Lavender we might not know much about, but the three main characters are pretty well established in general appearance (at least in terms of obvious stuff like skin color). There's even sketchwork of the main cast by JKR herself to be found, though from what I've seen they're not in color, so could be ambiguous. Commented Feb 29, 2016 at 20:25

This isn't quite what you're looking for. But the latter part of your question ("The movies said something which didn't contradict canon at the time, but Rowling subsequently wrote something to contradict it") makes me think of the problem of the Thestrals.

At the time the Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone film came out, Order of the Phoenix had yet to be written. A minor plot point from that book is that there are creatures flying around Hogwarts that only those who have seen death can see. Harry sees them for the first time after seeing Cedric Diggory die at the end of the previous book.

But in the films, Harry sees (causes, really) the death of Professor Quirrell, which he's unconscious for in the books. This leads to a plot hole in the movies, where Harry suddenly sees Thestrals he's supposed to have been seeing for the past four years.

Again, not quite what you're looking for, but an interesting case of the filmmakers writing themselves into a corner because they didn't know what was going to be in future books.

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    The Thestrals were always a problem for me because Harry should've been able to see them right from the start, having witnessed his parents' murders while an infant. Mind you he was probably too young to remember, so maybe that doesn't count. (Also, maybe he was asleep or in another room? Never quite made clear.) Commented Feb 29, 2016 at 15:22
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    I believe when asked this, JK Rowling said that Harry never witnessed his parents' death, he was in his crib. Commented Feb 29, 2016 at 20:42
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    The real headscratcher is that Harry doesn't even see Cedric's death: "A blast of green light blazed through Harry's eyelids, and he heard something heavy fall to the ground beside him; the pain in his scar reached such a pitch that he retched, and then it diminished; terrified of what he was about to see, he opened his stinging eyes." Commented Feb 29, 2016 at 20:43
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    What matters for perceiving thesrals is not seeing death but experiencing irrecoverable loss. IOW, baby Harry could not comprehend death, so it is irrelevant whether he saw his parents murdered or not. Similarly, he did not mourn Quirrell, so it does not whether he passed our before or after he died. And, by the same token, seeing the act of Cedric's murder is less important that mourning it.
    – sds
    Commented Feb 29, 2016 at 21:28
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    @sds - But if that's the case, then anyone who was emotionally close to Cedric would then be affected, whether they witnessed his death or not, probably moreso than Harry as he'd only known him for about a year. Everyone mourned Cedric - he was a popular guy - but only Harry saw Thestrals because of it. In fact, in that case it wouldn't even matter if they were actually dead or merely irrecoverably gone, like Neville's parents, who are as good as dead, but we never heard of him being able to see Thestrals. Commented Feb 29, 2016 at 22:50

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