Harry Potter and the niggling inconsistencies

OK, so I’ve finished Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows – the seventh of seven books. How odd: for the first time in a couple of years I haven’t got a Harry Potter book to look forward to reading to someone. Though I’ve now started reading them (from Goblet of Fire) to the second child.

But since I had Goblet of Fire to hand, I thought I’d re-read it, or at least its ending, which I thought was the most dramatic of them – though to be fair, they all have a remarkable finish.

And there I came across a couple of points that struck me as surprising – because they were inconsistent, or at least hard to explain logically.

First (and stop here if you haven’t read Goblet of Fire, and want to): Harry finds himself and Cedric Diggory at the cemetery, whisked there by the Portkey.

“Kill the spare!” said a high voice. (That’s Voldemort, who’s not quite corporeal yet but can manipulate a wand, according to the first chapter – odd, that.) And Diggory, being spare, is killed. Later Harry and Voldemort duel, and those Voldemort’s wand has killed return, briefly, including Diggory. (Well, starting with Diggory.)

But: who used the wand? Did Pettigrew (aka Wormtail)? Why? Doesn’t he have his own wand? If not, if Voldemort did it, why did he say what needed to be done?

Second: after surviving that, Harry is back at the school. It’s time to go. And the horseless carriages come up. And he gets into them to get onto the Hogwarts Express.

But: in the next book (Order of the Phoenix), on getting off the train to go to school, he sees the deathly horses – which you only see if you’ve seen someone dead, as Luna Lovegood also does (it’s one of the things that brings them together). Except – he’d already seen someone dead in GOF. Diggory. The same person whose deadness means he sees the horses in OOTP. (Yeah, enough of the acronyms, I agree.)

So, a couple of inconsistencies across two books. I haven’t looked to see if others have spotted these too – surely they have …

(looks) – what am I saying, there are entire areas of sites devoted to them. Apparently on the thestrals issue, HM JK Rowling says “You can’t see them until the death ‘sinks in.'” Mm, nice one, JK.

..although my one about the killing of Diggory doesn’t seem to be there. Then again, it’s a very small haul from the thousands of pages and the entire alternate universe that JK Rowling created. Fantastic stuff. Though I hope that in the paperback she just leaves out the last three words of the last book. Really, they’re unnecessary.


  1. Wormtail was using Voldemort’s wand. That’s for sure.

  2. Yes, there are many things that don’t quite add up and it annoys me too.

    I also thought Rowling was a little bored by the last book. It is less witty than its predecessors, especially 1-5.

    Still, it’s a pleasant way to pass a few hours.


  3. wormtail didnt have a wand… cause hed been a rat for like 16 years or something…he then spent the most of the nxt year trying to find voldemort (as a rat!!!)
    Try this one out… the thestrals are ment to be visible if youve seen someone die… according to the last book; harry WATCHED his mother be murdered… and if that one didnt count for some twised reason, cedric is ment to be the reason y he can see them in the order of the pheonix. read the end of book 4… harry turns to watch the HORSELESS carriages approach the castle….
    also in book 2 percy (a prefect) takes points off ron, in book 6 apparently they cant… only umbridge’s special squad can!!

  4. I agree with Em about Wormtail using Voldemort’s wand. Didn’t Ollivander have to make Wormtail a new wand in book 7? Yeah.

    Em, I can’t explain about the horseless carriages, but I do have a theory about the Percy thing.

    Percy has always been a bit of a prat, and he likes to think he has more power than he actually does. He could say, “Five points from Gryffindor,” but it may not mean that the rubies in the hourglass respond.

  5. Yes, the thestral thing is definitely a problem.
    Also, Harry never saw Cedric die. He saw green light through his eyelids, but he didn’t see the death occur. And why doesn’t his mother count as seeing death? He certainly would have seen that.
    And, in the graveyard scene, the echoes of the people come out of Voldemort’s wand in reverse order, but James comes before Lily, and we know he was killed first and therefore, because the order was reversed, should have come out of the wand.

    What about James and Lily being head boy and girl? We know from the first book that they were, according to Hagrid, but in the fifth Sirius mentions that he and James would never have been picked for prefect. I think you DO have to be prefect first, because in ch. 9 of the 5th Mrs. Weasley says something like, (to Ron) it’s great you’re a prefect because that’s the first step to being head boy.
    I don’t know.

  6. Never had a problem with Trestrals but never understood the prophesy – one who must and the other live thing. Maybe I’m dense or didn’t read the books properly. Anybody? Thanks.

  7. The whole Thestral issue annoyed me too. I could not figure out why in the book after the death of Cedric, Harry was only just able to see them. It makes no sense, as pointed out above, he saw his mother die. And therefore should have been able to see them all along.

    I have to give it to JK though Harry Potter is AMAZING, thus i forgive her for this annoyingly confusing speck of contradictory.

  8. Also, Colin Creevy the “muggle” who first appears in chamber of secrets, then appears in the battle of hogwarts in book 7 demonstrates an inconsistency. He is clearly a muggle who wouldnt have been allowed to attend the school because of the ministry commission against muggles meaning his wand would have been taken. Does that mean he didnt attend the hearings with Umbridge and was on the run? unlikely considering he was also underage, and for that reason I dont see why anyone would have contacted him to the fight at hogwarts… why would he have been there if he couldnt attend hogwarts and shouldnt even have a wand? Or alternatively how could he possibly be capable of being a fugative?

  9. Rowling reconciled the “thestral issue” when she explained that thestrals can’t be seen until “death sinks in.” That’s an acceptable magical explanation. That makes as much sense as a lot of other arbitrary metaphysical rules in Rowling’s magical world. After all, we readers have to swallow the idea that Voldemort was almost destroyed when his attack rebounded off of little Harry’s forehead, and this happened simply because Lily was motivated by love when she offered her life in exchange for Harry’s. Moreover, this same convenient magic protects Harry from Voldemort & all henchmen as long as Harry lives with a blood relative, even though Petunia Dursley is a muggle. This is a weak and sappy “mommy’s love conquers all” deus ex machina plot device, but we let Rowling get away with it in order to keep enjoying Harry’s summer trials with the Dursleys. By comparison, it is much easier to accept the magical idea that thestrals can’t be seen until grief over a death “sinks in.”

    Personally, I find it harder to overlook inconsistencies like the time in Goblet of Fire when Harry’s leg gets stuck in a stairway’s trick step, and he drops his Marauders Map and tri-wizard golden egg. He still has his wand and invisibility cloak, but he just sits there until Mad Eye Moody (actually Barty Crouch Jr) rescues him, his map, and his egg. By why? During the first task, Harry was able to summon his Firebolt from outside the castle. So why didn’t Harry simply summon the golden egg (and immediately shut its door to stop its wailing noise), and summon the map? Then he would have had the rest of the night to think of using the levitation charm, Wingardium Leviosa, on his own shoe to lift his leg out of the trick step. Either that, or he could have used Accio to summon Ron’s personal effects, one at a time (perhaps starting with Ron’s pajama shirt), until Ron followed his summoned stuff to where Harry was stuck—that would have been a hilarious account! Or Harry could have even summoned his Firebolt again, and grabbed onto it to hoist himself out of the trick step. I don’t understand why Rowling’s characters don’t use the summoning charm much, much more.

  10. I would really like to know how Voldemort isn’t more mistrustful of Snape when Quirrell goes on and on about how Snape protected Harry from him at the end of the first book. Any thoughts?

  11. The snape thing is explained by the fact that Voldemrt hadn’t contacted his followers yet, no one else knew he was alive. So as far as snake knew, Quirrel was trying to kill Harry for his own purposes, and so he stopped him to stay on Dumbledore’s good side. It’s said later in the series that this is the explanation he gives to Voldemort in relation to that and the fact he didn’t go looking for him after his death. It’s said that Voldemort was pleased he stayed.I think it’s said when Bellatrix and Narcissa go to snape’s house.

  12. One thing that really kinda made me scratch my head was harry’s invisibility cloak. in book 4 mad eye can see him through it at the three broomsticks but in the 7th book it is revealed to be one of the deathly hallows and it is said that the true cloak cannot be detected by any magical means so….. I don’t know. Also dumbledoor says something about how kids that live in a household with parents that are of age and use magic will not be detected by the ministry and that’s why harry always gets caught but… in book 4,5,6 and 7 many wizards use magic in harrys house and in book 5 harry is already in trouble and tonks use magic. The ministry is mad at harry and dumbledoor but nothing is ever mentioned. In book 4 Mr weasly uses magic in book 6 dumbledoor does an in book 7 the order of the Phoenix does.

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