7 Key Book Chapters That Explain Confusing Harry Potter Movie Moments

Some of the most confusing moments in the Harry Potter movies are explained by crucial chapters in the books. This can present a problem for fans who prefer only to watch the film. The Harry Potter series takes several twists and turns. With only the limited information in the movie, it’s easy for some of these to feel like plot holes or otherwise weakly established plot points. The books paint a complete picture, but not every fan wants to read an entire seven-piece book series.

Prisoner of Azkaban — Chapter 18: Moony, Wormtail, Padfoot, And Prongs

Harry met his father’s old school friends in the Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban movie. After a series of twists and turns, he learned that his godfather Sirius Black had been innocent of murdering James’ other friend, Peter Pettigrew, who had been to blame for the deaths of Harry’s parents. Additionally, Sirius and Pettigrew were revealed to be Animagi, but little else was said about the subject. Then, in the film’s big moment, Harry produced a Patronus that took the shape of a stag—something that was seemingly random in the film.

The Prisoner of Azkaban movie left audiences scratching their heads, but the book’s chapter 18 fills in essentially all the information about James Potter and his school friends. Together, the four boys called themselves the Marauders–the creators of Harry’s Marauder’s Map. Of the four, James, Sirius, and Peter made themselves into Animagi so they could be around Remus Lupin when he transformed into a werewolf. When James changed, he took the shape of a stag—which was why Harry’s Patronus was so significant.

Goblet Of Fire — Chapter 35: Veritaserum

Harry’s fourth year at Hogwarts was even more confusing than his third, so the Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire movie missed out on far more information. While it was made clear that the gruff Professor Mad-Eye Moody had been Barty Crouch Jr in disguise, very little explanation was given about who this was. Harry witnessed a memory in Dumbledore’s Pensieve of Crouch Jr being sent to Azkaban by his father. Still, both characters went relatively unexplored, giving audiences no reason to care about them.

Harry learned much more about the Crouch family in the Goblet of Fire book. This is especially true in chapter 35, « Veritaserum, » when Dumbledore conducts an in-depth interview with Crouch Jr using a truth potion. The Death Eater admitted that after he had gone to prison, his mother (who was never mentioned in the movie) used Polyjuice Potion to take his place in prison, thus letting him escape. Still, Crouch Jr was forced to live with his father under the Imperius Curse. First chance he got, Crouch Jr fought off the curse, Imperiused his father instead, and controlled him to make the Triwizard Tournament go his way.

Goblet Of Fire — Chapter 36: The Parting Of The Ways

In the Goblet of Fire movie, Harry talked to Dumbledore in the Gryffindor common room about what had happened in the graveyard with Voldemort. He told the headmaster that his and Voldemort’s wands had connected, and Dumbledore muttered the words « Priori Incantatem. » No further explanation was given. From then on, in the Wizarding World franchise (including Fantastic Beasts), wands would connect similarly in every major wizarding duel.

This was not the case in the Goblet of Fire book, where Dumbledore and Harry Potter had a far more extensive conversation in chapter 36, « The Parting of the Ways. » In this chapter, Dumbledore explained that Priori Incantatem, also known as the Reverse Spell, was meant to reveal the magic that a wand had last performed. In the case of Harry and Voldemort, the twin cores of their wands caused a rare phenomenon in which Harry’s did the Reverse Spell on its own. This caused Voldemort’s wand to reveal its recent murders, thus showing a sort of imprint of the victims.

Order Of The Phoenix — Chapter 37: The Lost Prophecy

In both the Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix book and movie, Harry learned that Voldemort was searching for some vital weapon he hadn’t had during the First Wizarding War. Both revealed this to be a prophecy in the Ministry of Magic’s Department of Mysteries in Harry Potter. However, the film never explained where exactly the prophecy had come from, why Voldemort needed Harry to get it, and why it was so important. Instead, it was smashed, and only a snippet of the prophecy was revealed.

At the end of the Goblet of Fire book, however, Harry and Dumbledore had another of their yearly heart-to-hearts, and he heard the entirety of the prophecy that deemed him the « Chosen One. » Dumbledore explained that before Voldemort attacked the Potters, he had only heard a part of the prophecy that said a boy born at the end of July would be his downfall. Since attacking Harry hadn’t worked out, the Dark Lord decided to hear the rest of the prophecy, but only the person it was about could remove the orb from the Department of Mysteries. So, Voldemort lured Harry there and tricked him into taking it.

Half-Blood Prince — Chapter 33: Horcruxes

The Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince movie explained that Voldemort had wanted to split his soul into seven pieces, but it never gave any clues as to what objects the Horcruxes could be. Dumbledore only told Harry he had an idea of where another Horcrux was, so they went after it. After Dumbledore’s death, there seemed to be no direction for Harry to take regarding the Horcruxes, nor how many there even were.

In the Half-Blood Prince book, Dumbledore showed Harry several other memories that provided clues as to what the Horcruxes would be. Slughorn’s memory was the final piece of the puzzle in chapter 33, « Horcruxes. » After observing the memory, Harry assumed that Voldemort had made seven Horcruxes, but Dumbledore clarified that the Dark Lord had intended to make six and that the seventh piece would be kept in his body. Then, he explained which objects he suspected to be the rest of Voldemort’s created Horcruxes: Slytherin’s Locket, Hufflepuff’s cup, something belonging to Ravenclaw, and Nagini.

Deathly Hallows — Chapter 33: The Prince’s Tale

In Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 1, Snape gives Harry the final pieces of the series-long puzzle in the form of his memories. Immediately, Harry took them to Dumbledore’s office, poured them in the Pensieve, and witnessed the birth of Snape’s friendship with Lily, his devastation when she was killed, and the moment he learned that Dumbledore had been raising Harry like a pig for slaughter. It was a shattering moment of realization, but several questions about Snape, Lily, and Dumbledore were left unanswered.

In the Deathly Hallows book, Harry observes Snape’s memories in chapter 33, « The Prince’s Tale, » and more is revealed about the character. For example, Harry saw that Snape and Lily had stopped being friends after the former had refused to stop studying Dark magic and that it had been Snape who unknowingly told Voldemort of the prophecy that led to Lily’s murder. Torn apart by grief and regret, Snape turned to Dumbledore for help. Throughout these memories, Harry watched Dumbledore treat Snape with contempt but then slowly began to see him as a man of great potential and love. This provided much more for Snape’s redemption— something missing from the movie.

Deathly Hallows — Chapter 35: King’s Cross

Much of Deathly Hallows Part 1 and Part 2 were spent building up Harry’s distrust of Dumbledore. After the headmaster’s death, Harry began to hear more and more about how he had sacrificed others for his acquisition of power. As this built up, Harry wondered if Dumbledore had been recklessly endangering him in bringing down Lord Voldemort. Ultimately, these many questions came to nothing. When Harry finally had a moment to ask his deceased headmaster in the King’s Cross limbo, he said nothing. Dumbledore disappeared without even explaining why Harry had again survived the Killing Curse.

In the Deathly Hallows book, this interaction went very differently. It was the final « explanation conversation » that Harry and Dumbledore would have, and it brought all the pieces of the series together. Harry questioned his headmaster on all his actions, and Dumbledore broke into tears, apologizing for his mistakes and congratulating Harry on being worthy of uniting the Deathly Hallows (thus covertly revealing to Harry that he was Master of Death and had the loyalty of the Elder Wand).

Additionally, he provided Harry with the final piece of the puzzle. He explained that Harry had survived the Killing Curse again because Voldemort used the boy’s blood in his resurrection. By taking the blood containing Lily’s sacrifice into his body, Voldemort had tethered Harry to life the same way the Horcruxes tethered him to life. Harry and Voldemort survived the interaction–but Dumbledore’s explanation revealed to Harry that their subsequent battle wouldn’t be the same if the Horcruxes were all destroyed. The final detail brought Harry Potter’s story to a close— but the movies missed it entirely.