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Throughout the Harry Potter series, Professor Trelawney makes many different prophecies and predictions. Although most of them are implied to be nonsense, often enough they still get fulfilled. Which ones have come true? Which ones have been proven false? Which ones are still possible?

How many of Trelawney's prophecies have come true?

I'm not asking if Divination in Harry Potter is real, or what it is. I am asking for a finite list of which of Trelawney's prophecies came true, and which ones didn't.

  • 3
    It depends if you specifically want 100% true outcomes or there are things like "Someone you love will die!" and then a pet rabbit dies, etc. I forget the details, but some say all of the predictions work out "from a certain point of view," (said Obi-Wan). – ThruGog Apr 8 '16 at 17:21
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    @Slytherincess - The closest answer that the linked question has is Jonas's answer, which by nature of that question is only trying to give examples of ones that came true. I am asking for a complete list of which ones came true and which ones came false. Downvote if you must, but it's not a dupe. – ibid Apr 8 '16 at 18:25
  • 5
    I must agree with ibid. I do not see this as a dupe. Related, sure. Has the answer already, mostly. Granted I believe that policy on dupes here is that if the answer can be found in another question the current question is a dupe. However, in this case it seems the answer was not written as an answer to that question but was trying to facilitate a different line of thinking.... just my $0.02 – Skooba Apr 8 '16 at 18:53
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    I think this is a related question, not a dupe. The other question never tries to answer exactly how many times Trelawney made an accurate prediction. – TenthJustice Apr 8 '16 at 20:02
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    @Richard - I was looking for an answer that listed all of the prophecies in three simple groups (Yes's, No's, and Maybe's). If you don't think the question is useful than I'm pretty sure you're supposed to downvote, not dupehammer. – ibid Apr 8 '16 at 20:30
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+50

This is a difficult question to answer, because a great deal of divination is guesswork and it's easy to be accidentally correct through no skill on the diviner's part. We see this in real life horoscopes and fortune tellers, who give very broad predictions knowing that believers will fill in the blanks themselves. "'Money will become an issue in your life?' Well I left my credit card at the bar last night. Prophecy fulfilled."

Also complicating matters is that Dumbledore tells Harry that many of the prophecies in the Ministry of Magic, all of which are considered "legitimate," never come to pass at all. So even when divination is used correctly, sometimes it doesn't come to pass through no fault of the seer.

So I'll grade Trelawney in the following way: accuracy, and chance that she could have randomly guessed it.

  1. Trelawney's first prophecy
    No less than the Ministry of Magic and Dumbledore both recognize this was an honest-to-god prophecy. Trelawney herself doesn't remember the trance. This was legitimate and it came to pass.
    10/10 on both counts.

  2. "You, boy," she said suddenly to Neville, who almost toppled off his pouffe, "is your grandmother well?" "I think so," said Neville tremulously. "I wouldn't be so sure if I were you, dear," said Professor Trelawney.

    Mrs. Longbottom, despite being elderly, survives until the end of the books and even shows up to and survives the Battle of Hogwarts. Old people dying or getting ill is a very easy thing to predict, and Trelawney whiffed.
    0/10 on both.

  3. "By the way, my dear," she shot suddenly at Parvati Patil, "beware a red-haired man."

    We never get any indication that Parvati is ever hassled or harmed by a red-haired man. Ron does annoy her sister though in Goblet of Fire.
    Accuracy: 1/10, Difficulty: 1/10.

  4. "Unfortunately, classes will be disrupted in February by a nasty bout of flu. I myself will lose my voice."

    Predicting the flu in a winter month is a no-brainer, and people who lose their voices from it usually know. And of course, she could always fake it. We never get any indication this comes to pass.
    Accuracy: ?/10, Difficulty 3/10.

  5. "And around Easter, one of our number will leave us for ever."

    I actually think this is a pretty good guess from Trelawney, and somewhat hard to predict. All indications are that dropping classes mid-year is pretty rare, and she guesses the time of the year pretty well. I think it's fair to say, per your question, that it "came true."
    Accuracy: 10/10, Difficulty 8/10.

  6. "Thank you, my dear. Incidentally, that thing you are dreading – it will happen on Friday the sixteenth of October."

    I also think —contrary to what Hermione says— that this is pretty impressive. Hermione is right to point out that Lavender didn't really worry about her rabbit dying, and that it didn't actually occur on the 16th. But, nonetheless, Lavender Brown gets incredibly sad news on October 16th. Trelawney gave a very specific date and Lavender found herself sobbing on the date, I think that deserves high marks despite the technicalities.
    Accuracy: 8/10, Difficulty: 9/10

  7. "Oh, and dear –" she caught Neville by the arm as he made to stand up, "after you've broken your first cup, would you be so kind as to select one of the blue patterned ones? I'm rather attached to the pink."

    I doubt this is magic, this seems more like a self-fulfilling prophecy. Neville exudes clumsiness that Trelawney picked up. And this is almost like telling someone not to spill a full water glass: an excellent way to ensure they overthink things and spill the water.
    Still, I'll give her points for ballsiness: it would have looked reeeeal stupid if Neville didn't actually break a cup, let alone two.
    Accuracy 10/10, Difficulty 6/10.

  8. "The falcon... my dear, you have a deadly enemy."

    To quote Hermione immediately afterwards: "But everyone knows that!"
    Accuracy: 10/10, Difficulty: 0/10.

  9. "The club... an attack. The skull... danger in your path, my dear..."

    Harry does get attacked with some frequency. But again, it's not a stretch to say Harry Potter will eventually be attacked.
    Accuracy: 10/10, Difficulty: 2/10.

  10. The Grim
    I'll group all the Harry-will-die prophecies in with this one. It's difficult to grade this one, because Harry does "die" from a certain point of view (as Obi-Wan would put it). But Dream Dumbledore does straight up tell Harry in his vision that no, he isn't actually dead.
    That's also four years later, and everyone EVENTUALLY dies, so there needs to be a time limit on these things. I give her no points for this one. Accuracy: 0/10, Difficulty: 1/10

  11. "Oh, and dear –" she pointed at Neville, "you'll be late next time, so mind you work extra hard to catch up."

    We never learn if this happens. But again, all it takes is a glance at Neville to tell he's easy to psych out.
    Accuracy ?/10, Difficulty 4/10.

  12. "I have been crystal-gazing, Headmaster," said Professor Trelawney, in her mistiest, most faraway voice, "and to my astonishment, I saw myself abandoning my solitary luncheon and coming to join you. Who am I to refuse the promptings of fate?"

    This barely counts.
    Accuracy 10/10, Difficulty 0/10.

  13. "If I join the table, we shall be thirteen! Nothing could be more unlucky! Never forget that when thirteen dine together, the first to rise will be the first to die!"

    Dumbledore is the first at the table to die, and Harry and Ron rise at the same time.
    Accuracy 0/10, Difficulty 10/10 (Hey, that would have been impressive if she was right).

  14. "If you must know, Minerva, I have seen that poor Professor Lupin will not be with us for very long. He seems aware, himself, that his time is short."

    This is true, but not difficult to predict because of the curse on the DADA position.
    Accuracy 10/10, Difficulty 0/10

  15. "The fates have informed me that your examination in June will concern the Orb, and I am anxious to give you sufficient practice."

    To again quote Hermione: "Well, honestly... 'the fates have informed her'... who sets the exam? She does!"
    Accuracy 10/10, Difficulty 0/10

  16. "She says the crystal ball's told her that, if I tell you, I'll have a horrible accident!" squeaked Neville.

    This doesn't even make sense. How would Neville telling Harry anything about the exam cause an accident?
    Accuracy ?/10, Difficulty 6/10

  17. Trelawney's Second Prediction
    This was unquestionably a real prophecy, and it comes true when Pettigrew leaves to join Voldemort and Voldemort rises again.
    Accuracy 10/10, Difficulty 10/10

  18. "You are preoccupied, my dear," she said mournfully to Harry. "My inner eye sees past your brave face to the troubled soul within. And I regret to say that your worries are not baseless. I see difficult times ahead for you, alas... most difficult... I fear the thing you dread will indeed come to pass. ...and perhaps sooner than you think..."

    I give half points to Trelawney here. Voldemort does indeed rise again, and that was Harry was worrying about at the time. But this is also part of her regular woe-is-Harry shtick, and it's vague.
    Accuracy 10/10, Difficulty 5/10

  19. "Your dark hair... your mean stature... tragic losses so young in life... I think I am right in saying, my dear, that you were born in midwinter?"

    "No," said Harry, "I was born in July."
    Accuracy 0/10, Difficulty 1 in 12

  20. "Death, my dears... Yes," said Professor Trelawney, nodding impressively, "it comes, ever closer, it circles overhead like a vulture, ever lower... ever lower over the castle..."

    Cedric dies shortly after this, but Trelawney also looks directly at Harry while saying this.
    Accuracy 5/10, Difficulty 10/10

  21. "I... I think I do see something... something that concerns you... why, I sense something... something dark... some grave peril...I am afraid... I am afraid that you are in grave danger!"

    Umbridge does indeed get carried away to some unknown traumatic fate by a group of centaurs by the end of the year. But again, as DADA teacher, not terribly hard to predict.
    Accuracy 10/10, Difficulty 5/10

  22. Professor Trelawney broke into hysterical sobs during Divination and announced to the startled class, and a very disapproving Umbridge, that Harry was not going to suffer an early death after all, but would live to a ripe old age, become Minister for Magic and have twelve children.

    In a nice change of pace, Trelawney gets Harry's non-death right. We don't know if he ever accomplishes the other two.
    Accuracy ?/10, Difficulty 10/10

  23. "Two of spades: conflict," she murmured, as she passed the place where Harry crouched, hidden. "Seven of spades: an ill omen. Ten of spades: violence. Knave of spades: a dark young man, possibly troubled, one who dislikes the questioner —"

    Trelawney nails this one. Danger is coming to Hogwarts, in the form of Draco Malfoy. She does this while Harry is under the Invisibility Cloak and she thinks she is alone, meaning she isn't BS-ing at all.
    Accuracy 10/10, Difficulty 10/10

  24. "Again and again, no matter how I lay them out -" And she pulled a card dramatically from underneath her shawls. "- the lightning-struck tower," she whispered. "Calamity. Disaster. Coming nearer all the time ..."

    Again, Trelawney nails this. The chapter in which Dumbledore dies is called "The Lightning Struck Tower," which I see as a clear authorial signalling that this prediction was legitimate.
    Accuracy 10/10, Difficulty 10/10

So, what have we got?

On thirteen occasions, Professor Trelawney divines something with perfect accuracy.

However:

  • Only four of those occasions were what I would call clear cut, obvious cases of legitimate Divination.

  • On five occasions, Trelawney predicted something that could have reasonably been deduced through guesswork and cold reading.

  • On four occasions, Trelawney "predicted" something extremely obvious that anyone can predict.

One two occasions, Trelawney makes predictions that are slightly off, but are still mostly fulfilled.

But many, many, many, many more times (if you include the biweekly Harry death predictions), Trelawney is just flat out wrong.

Conclusion

Trelawney actually makes accurate predictions on a regular basis. But that's only because of the sheer volume of guesses she makes, the large majority of which are wrong or inconclusive.

  • 5
    Four comments: 1)Harry, being an Auror, may still die a gruesome death. This may be what is meant by Trelawney's various predictions. 2)If Dumbledore rising to greet Trelawney counts as leaving then it was accurate. 3)As head of the Auror Department, Harry is arguably already just one step away from becoming Minister of Magic. 4)Lastly, is there a way to make the answer slightly more organized and readable? – ibid Apr 8 '16 at 20:14
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    Awesome answer! – Rand al'Thor Apr 8 '16 at 21:44
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    I just read somewhere that the born in midwinter thing could be referring to Voldy, and thus it would be an accurate sensing of the Horcrux inside Harry. – ibid Oct 19 '16 at 5:58
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    I'm sure I recall that at one point in Order of the Phoenix, there's a scene where thirteen members of the Order dine together, and Sirius is the first to rise... – F1Krazy Jun 5 '17 at 8:22
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    Actually, trelawney was the 14th to join the table in the prisoner of azkaban. Wormtail was at the table with Ron, and he was being fed scraps. Dumbledore stood up first and eventually he dies first later on in the books. – Tapi Jun 30 '17 at 17:51
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However many ‘came true’, only two were genuine predictions.

In J.K. Rowling’s writing on Trelawney, she states that sometimes Trelawney’s conscious predictions end up being right by the law of averages, but those were all just correct guesses. She states that Trelawney’s only genuine clairvoyance are the ones she doesn’t remember afterwards.

By the law of averages, Professor Trelawney’s rapid fire predictions sometimes hit the mark, but most of the time she is full of hot air and self-importance.

Nevertheless, Sybill does experience very rare flashes of genuine clairvoyance, which she can never remember afterwards.
- Sybill Trelawney (Pottermore)

So, this would mean that only the prophecy she made to Dumbledore at her job interview and the one she made to Harry in his third year were genuine. Anything else she gets right is a result of guesswork, not genuinely clairvoyance or truly predictions made using ‘Seer’ ability.

  • This is also stated explicitly by Dumbledore at the end of Prisoner of Azkaban: “Do you know, Harry, I think she might have been,” he said thoughtfully. “Who’d have thought it? That brings her total of real predictions up to two. I should offer her a pay raise. ...” – Alex Aug 27 '18 at 22:18
  • @Bellatrix - Here's a quote from Anna Rafferty (the editor of these books) ‘It’s been a wonderful curation exercise,’ Anna told us. ‘We read through everything in our archives, took pieces written by J.K. Rowling and the Pottermore editorial team, and sewed it all together – from the delicious little snippets of wizarding world lore, to the longer narratives on characters and magical phenomena, and categories of themed miscellany started to emerge in our thinking.’ – ibid Aug 28 '18 at 4:32
  • @ibid Thanks! :) I had no idea where the ‘connecting pieces’ of those books came from, and I wasn’t sure how to find out. – Bellatrix Aug 28 '18 at 4:34

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