Harry Potter fans across the globe are eagerly awaiting the next chapter in the saga, Harry Potter and the Cursed Child Parts I & II. The West End stage production (whose script is also being released in print and digital formats) will be set 19 years after the original series’ conclusion, and readers can only hope author J.K. Rowling’s fantastic wit and style will carry over. An aspect that makes the original series so special is the inclusion of several scenes of foreshadowing that occur in earlier novels leading into the finale. These bread crumbs that Rowling scattered for the audience to uncover are hidden well, causing the ultimate twists to appear surprising. However, upon a re-read (or three!), it becomes clear that content was planned well in advance and foreshadowed discretely.
The following 10 twists may have been missed during an initial read but could have been caught by those paying close attention. Note: SPOILERS AHEAD!
10. The Vanishing Cabinet
The vanishing cabinets would play an integral role in the sixth novel The Half-Blood Prince when Draco Malfoy repairs one in order to allow Death Eaters into Hogwarts. However, the pair of cabinets made several appearances in the novels leading up to that point. During The Chamber of Secrets, Harry actually steps inside one of the cabinets while at Borgin and Burkes, eavesdropping on the Malfoy family. Later in the same novel, it would be Peeves the poltergeist who breaks the connecting cabinet at Hogwarts in an attempt to distract Filch while Harry is in his office. Finally, during The Order of the Phoenix, clear foreshadowing occurs when Rowling demonstrates how the cabinets function. When Slytherin’s Graham Montague is stuffed into a cabinet as a prank, he disappears. Not much is made of this moment since strange things occur at Hogwarts at all times, yet readers should have been alerted to the discovery that Montague was traveling between Borgin and Burkes and Hogwarts.
9. Buckbeak’s Escape
Buckbeak the hippogriff had been sentenced to murder by beheading during The Prisoner of Azkaban. Harry, Ron, and Hermione’s attempts to help Hagrid with the trial proved a fruitless endeavor, and Buckbeak’s death seemed inevitable. Nearing the end of the novel, Harry is taking his divination course exam through a crystal ball and fabricates that Buckbeak is flying away toward freedom. While this would turn out to be true, this under-the-radar foreshadow is hidden due to its placement in the grander scheme of things. Following Harry’s examination, professor Trelawney enters a trance and states that The Dark Lord will rise again. While certainly a prediction, this moment is part of the series’ main storyline wherein professor Trelawney occasionally prophesizes dramatic moments regarding Harry and Voldemort. While the prophecy takes the reader’s attention, this subtle foreshadow of Buckbeak’s freedom is often missed.
8. Scabbers is Peter Pettigrew
Ron’s pet rat, Scabbers, was a family hand-me-down from his older brother Percy. Scabbers was an old and rather useless pet rat, one who never once demonstrated any magical abilities. During The Prisoner of Azkaban, readers learn that garden rats generally have a lifespan of three years, yet Scabbers has been in the family for 12 years. This is suspicious but not yet alarming. Readers also come to learn that Scabbers has lost a significant amount of weight since the news of Sirius Black’s escape. When it is revealed at the conclusion of the book that Scabbers is in fact an Animagus by the name of Peter Pettigrew (the man who betrayed Lily and James Potter while framing Sirius), the shock on the faces of readers was evident. However, the hints were there, showing something was “off” with Scabbers throughout the early portion of the series. Not much is made of his missing finger until the third novel when it is revealed that only a finger was found of Pettigrew during his presumed death.
7. Disembodied Voice is a Snake
Throughout the second novel, The Chamber of Secrets, Harry hears a disembodied voice in the wall mentioning the urge to murder and wreak havoc on the school of Hogwarts. The terrifying Chamber of Secrets, an underground lair hidden beneath the school, has been opened by the Heir of Slytherin, and the monster hidden within is on the loose. The confusion stems from Harry’s ability to hear the monster while others near him are unable to do so. This mystery carries until the conclusion of the novel where audiences discover that the disembodied voice belongs to a snake that is traveling in the pipes behind the walls. This surprise can be somewhat foreseen since the symbol of Slytherin house is in fact a snake and the house is associated with serpents. Meanwhile, readers discover earlier in the novel that Harry can communicate with snakes. This rare gift, known as “Parseltongue,” is quite uncommon, and nobody else in the school is able to do so. Therefore, Harry is the only one able to hear the snake’s vicious hissing, which he still recognizes as English.
6. Sirius Black’s Death
Sirius Black, the series’ greatest tragic hero, makes several errors on the way to his eventual death. This death was foreshadowed in great detail, although remained quite a shock for those not looking for these clues. During the fifth novel, when Harry first enters Sirius’ home, 12 Grimmauld Place, the novel reads as follows: “The others’ hushed voices were giving Harry an odd feeling of foreboding; it was as though they had just entered the house of a dying man.” This is clear enough, yet there are even more clues to be found. Sirius’ Animagus form of a shaggy dog is often viewed as “The Grim,” a sign of imminent death. Finally, the last time Harry would see Sirius, he would comment: “He had a bad feeling about this parting; he didn’t know when they would next see each other.” Unfortunately, this prophecy would come to fruition.
5. Scars Can Come in Handy
During the very first novel’s initial chapter, Dumbledore quotes that “Sometimes, scars can come in handy” in reference to Harry having a lightning-shaped scar on his forehead. Dumbledore says he would not remove it even if he could. Not much is made of this quote until the seventh and final novel, yet the scar on Harry’s forehead is forever mentioned. Readers become accustomed to the scar and hardly question why it is there. It is assumed to be a magical scar from surviving a dark magical spell. However, no other wizard seems to have a scar and, seemingly, nobody else has ever survived the same killing curse as Harry. Dumbledore is foreshadowing the importance that mark will make during Harry’s hunt for Lord Voldemort. The scar marks Harry as the boy mentioned in the prophecy, the one that Voldemort will forever hunt.
4. The Room of Requirement
A central piece to the fifth novel, The Order of the Phoenix, the Room of Requirement was a room like no other that could morph into what the user desired it to be. However, the reference to this room had already been placed during The Goblet of Fire. It is Dumbledore that states that he had found a beautifully proportioned room with chamber pots when he needed it the most. However, when he returned to investigate it, the room had vanished. Once again, readers are led to dismiss this strange story due to its occurrence at Hogwarts. However, readers would learn that Dumbledore is, in fact, referencing the Room of Requirement. Every piece of information given to the reader must be investigated closely, as this reference was easily missed. In the scope of the story, it shows yet again how Rowling had planned novels ahead in order to sneak in the information.
3. Divination Homework Predictions
In terms of direct foreshadowing for specific events, no event matches Harry and Ron’s divination homework during The Prisoner of Azkaban. While tired of completing their homework for a silly class they don’t take seriously, the pair decide to make wacky predictions that grow exponentially in scale. While appearing ludicrous in print, the shock is that every single one of the predictions does in fact turn into reality as portions of the upcoming Triwizard Tournament that Harry would compete in during the following novel, The Goblet of Fire. Harry was expected to be in danger of burns, which was certainly the case when he was tasked to confront a dragon. He was expected to lose a treasured possession, which turned out to be the loss of Ron during the second task. Harry wrote that he would be stabbed in the back by somebody he considered a friend (Professor Moody, who would turn out to be someone else entirely). Finally, his work showed that he would come off worse in a fight, which he certainly would during the night Cedric Diggory was murdered during Harry’s frightening encounter with Voldemort after the tournament’s completion.
2. Lily Potter’s Protection
Upon Harry’s return from the graveyard confrontation with Lord Voldemort during the finale of The Goblet of Fire, Harry states to Dumbledore that Voldemort was able to return to his bodily form by taking blood from Harry. Voldemort could have used the blood of any human during a complex ritual. However, he insisted on using Harry’s blood, which he had been seeking for the last calendar year through an elaborate plan. The surprise is that Dumbledore’s reaction is that of triumph, which Harry notices in his eyes. The look of triumph is mostly forgotten by the conclusion of the series, if not by the end of the paragraph, yet it proved a masterful stroke of foreshadowing. Dumbledore knew that by taking Harry’s blood, Voldemort had tied Harry to live. This would allow Harry once again to not die when Voldemort attempts to kill him.
1. Snape Is a Hero After All
Severus Snape is involved in several of the greatest and most shocking twists during the Harry Potter series, not the least of which is the eventual reveal that he had been on Dumbledore’s side throughout the novel’s account. One major clue of foreshadowing regarding this truth is an often-missed nugget taken from The Goblet of Fire. During Harry’s visit to the fake Mad-Eye Moody’s office, he notices Severus in a foe-glass. This dark detector was briefly introduced as a tool that conjures up images of the possessor’s enemies. The figures appear as shadows but become more visible as the enemies approach in closer proximity to the possessor. Snape’s poor reputation from Harry’s perspective causes him to not even question Snape’s appearance as a shady foe. However, with the twist being that this Moody impersonator is actually a death eater by the name of Barty Crouch Jr., readers should have realized that Snape is not on the same side as the evil death eaters and is therefore instead of a loyal member of the Order of the Phoenix.