Fair warning: reading ahead will leave you susceptible to many spoilers from the Harry Potter stories, as well as Cursed Child and Fantastic Beasts. For everyone else, come on through.
1. The truth behind Mad-Eye Moody
In those final chapters of Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, so many twists and turns hooked us on every page, from Cedric’s cruel ending to Lord Voldemort’s rebirth. Just when we thought things couldn’t get any worse, Harry discovers that his teacher and mentor Mad-Eye Moody was not the acerbic Auror he thought he was – but the criminal, Barty Crouch Jr. under a lot of Polyjuice Potion.
Through his wily ways and puppetry, he successfully orchestrated Hogwarts’ Triwizard Tournament, ensuring Harry would end up a champion and be there at the end to stumble into a graveyard full of Death Eaters. After getting to know this character over the course of the book, this truly was a huge rug-pull.
2. Albus Potter’s Hogwarts house
In the epilogue of Deathly Hallows, we were privy to Harry and his middle son Albus Severus Potter having a sweet father-son chat before he boarded the Hogwarts Express for the first time.
Just as Harry had been nervous about being sorted into Slytherin we saw this moment mirrored in his son, who had the same concerns. When Cursed Child came around, we got to follow up on this moment and discover where Albus actually would be placed. In our heads, we probably all thought Albus was going into Gryffindor like his father and older brother. But no. Upon learning he would be in Slytherin, Albus spent his early Hogwarts years struggling with his status – and Harry didn’t exactly comfort him. Thankfully, with the help of his new friend Scorpius, Albus soon realised there was nothing wrong with being in Slytherin – but it still surprised audiences when first revealed. And this would be the first of oh-so-many Cursed Child twists.
3. Nagini’s most evil trick
Perhaps one of the most gruesome moments in the entire Harry Potter series came to us right near the end, during Harry and Hermione’s fateful trip to Godric’s Hollow in Deathly Hallows. There, the pair thought they were meeting esteemed writer and friend of Harry’s family, Bathilda Bagshot, although upon entering Harry’s old home, something wasn’t quite right.
Soon it became hideously clear: Bathilda had been inhabited by the body of Nagini, Voldemort’s snake, wearing her as a skin...
4. Percival Graves’ true identity
In Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, we found ourselves fooled by another Dark wizard playing with disguises. In the film’s final act, we discovered that Percival Graves, the surly Head of the Department of Magical Law Enforcement, was actually Gellert Grindelwald, who had been trying to reveal the wizarding world to the No-Maj community in New York City. After the Mad-Eye Moody reveal of Goblet of Fire, we couldn’t believe we’d been fooled again. Percival and Gellert even had similar haircuts...
5. Professor Trelawney’s Prophecy
We’d always known that Harry had been marked by Lord Voldemort as a baby, but we were never truly sure why – and Dumbledore had been tight-lipped about the whole thing up until his fifth year. It was here we learnt that Harry’s fate had been sealed by a prophecy, made by his Divination professor, Professor Trelawney, and could’ve applied to himself or Neville Longbottom. We’re not sure what surprised us more – that Harry was destined to kill Lord Voldemort (or Lord Voldemort destined to kill him) – or the fact that Professor Trelawney actually had true Seer skills.
6. Dumbledore’s fate
Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince delivered perhaps one of the most devastating blows in the entire series – the demise of Dumbledore. Our sage, old headmaster, who always knew the answers, surely would never die during the book series, we thought.
Oh, how wrong we were – and oh, how bitterly it hurt. To add insult to injury was the way it happened: at the hands of Severus Snape. Of course, we were soon taught why Snape had to do the deed, but at this moment of not-knowing, we were utterly perplexed. The moment became so memorable that the phrase ‘Snape kills Dumbledore’ became a famous spoiler that echoed around the Potter fandom once the sixth book was released.
7. Queenie’s choice
Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald delivered many a shocking revelation, including the family history of Leta Lestrange, the origin story of Nagini, and the ascent of Gellert Grindelwald. But something that completely caught us off-guard was the choices of one of the series’ most loved characters: Queenie Goldstein. Banned from marrying her beloved No-Maj Jacob, Queenie began to be courted by Gellert Grindelwald; who promised her a world where wizarding kind would be out in the open, free to be with whoever they pleased. No matter how much we shouted at our screens, we were devastated to see her join Grindelwald’s side. Alas, we must wait until the third instalment to glean answers.
8. Ratting out Scabbers
Ron’s useless rat Scabbers had been a source of comedy for us for the first three Harry Potter books, with Ron often infuriated by his pet’s inefficiency –honestly, he wouldn’t even turn yellow. However, in Prisoner of Azkaban, we came to understand that animals may also be hiding secrets, as we learnt about the phenomena of Animagus witches and wizards. Firstly, we learnt the black dog that had been following Harry was none other than Sirius Black, and Ron’s hapless rat was a traitor called Peter Pettigrew, the man who led Lord Voldemort to the Potter’s hideaway. A rat, indeed, he was.
9. Dumbledore and Grindelwald
How could wise, kind Dumbledore be anything other than pure and good – only associating with others who were like-minded? In the later novels, it would transpire that Dumbledore made mistakes in his past just like anyone, with his teenage friendship with the future Dark wizard Gellert Grindelwald revealed. Dumbledore would later go on to see Grindelwald as his greatest adversary in adulthood – but we were certainly not expecting the Hogwarts headmaster to have been so close to someone so evil.
10. Quirrell’s secret
Right from the very first Harry Potter adventure, we were never too sure what was round the corner. We became quickly educated into how unpredictable the wizarding world could be when we were told that the shy, stuttering Professor Quirrell had a dark secret under his turban: the head of Lord Voldemort.
Weak, fragmented, and barely human, the Dark wizard had still found a way to penetrate Hogwarts’ walls. With Harry, Ron and Hermione suspicious of Snape the entire book – finding out it was actually Quirrell trying to steal the Philosopher’s Stone for his master was our first lesson into Potter plot twists.
11. The final Horcrux
When Horcruxes were first introduced to readers in Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, a twisted treasure hunt ensued – with Harry tasked with finding as many of them as he could in order to destroy every piece of Voldemort’s soul. While Dumbledore theorised that there must be seven, as that is the most magical number, we hadn’t quite envisaged what the final Horcrux would be... Harry himself.
12. The Prince’s Tale
Seven books down, and we had met many characters with hidden identities, many pieces of magic that unveiled new bombshells, and many revelations that had rewritten our expectations on where Harry Potter’s story was going.
And yet, the biggest character reveal of the original seven books was still yet to come. With the Battle of Hogwarts crumbling, and Severus Snape dead, surely that was where this character’s story ended? As it turned out, huge pieces of Snape’s tale hadn’t been told at all, and his childhood, tragic love story and secret work for Albus Dumbledore were all unveiled to Harry within the Pensieve. Seeing the cruel, sardonic Potions professor’s humbling backstory completely changed Harry’s perception of the character, with Harry so shocked by the revelation that it gave him the fire he needed to end Voldemort once and for all.