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The Harry Potter character backstories we wish we could’ve seen

Some of J.K. Rowling’s characters were too good for us to not want to know more about them.

Moony Padfoot Prongs and Wormtail at Hogwarts by the lake
Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix

Harry Potter’s story is the stuff of legend, but that doesn’t mean that we weren’t fascinated by some of the less talked-about characters in the books, wondering about their backstories. We’d love to have a nosy in these characters’ Pensieves…

Lily and James’s first year of marriage

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows - Part 2

A young married couple, more or less just out of school, and on the run from Voldemort and his Death Eaters.

It sounds like a brilliant chase thriller, even though we know from Lily’s letter to Sirius Black that it mostly meant being holed up in Godric’s Hollow, away from the action. However, we also know from the prophecy that James and Lily had defied Voldemort three times before they went into hiding, and these encounters have been hardly touched upon – so just how did they do it? Lily and James gave their lives for the fight against Voldemort, but we’d love to know more about what they did before their ultimate sacrifice.

‘James is getting a bit frustrated shut up here, he tries not to show it but I can tell – also, Dumbledore’s still got his Invisibility Cloak, so no chance of little excursions. If you could visit, it would cheer him up so much.’
Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows

The life and times of Professor Binns

Binns teaches the class about the Chamber of Secrets
© JKR/Pottermore Ltd. ™ Warner Bros.

Yep, we really want to know more about Professor Binns.

Despite boring his students into taking frequent mid-class naps, we bet this ghost has a fascinating life story. All we really knew of Professor Binns from the books is that he taught the History of Magic at Hogwarts for so long, and to such an old age, that one day he got up to teach a class and simply left his body behind. But what did this wizarding historian do in his more lively days? Who knows – since it was never made clear just how long Binns had been a ghost for, he could have lived through some amazing things. He might even have seen the Goblin Rebellions, for all we know! Speaking of which...

The Goblin Rebellions

A Goblin faces Harry in Gringotts
Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone

Although not connected to one particular character, the Goblin Rebellions always sounded like a captivating moment in wizarding history.

The ‘bloody and vicious’ rebellions by the goblins took place way back in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, and could well be one of the reasons that goblins are still very much against witches or wizards having ownership over goblin-made items. The events would have most certainly helped us to understand why Griphook was so happy to betray Harry, Ron and Hermione at Gringotts. The rebellions would have been a far cry from Harry’s adventures at Hogwarts in the 1990s, and would certainly have made little difference to the plot, but imagine how a medieval battle with witches, wizards and goblins could have gone down!

The young life of Albus Dumbledore

The Life and Lies of Albus Dumbledore and Elphias Doge’s eulogy to Dumbledore might have answered some of our questions about the genius wizard (not all of them correctly, mind you, given the author of Life and Lies…). But how fascinating would it have been to have read a day in the life of a younger Albus at Hogwarts?

Would he have been a bit of a know-it-all? Would he have been a rule-breaker? We know he transformed following the death of his younger sister, Ariana, so we suspect the teenage Dumbledore would be very different from the one we knew.

‘By the end of his first year, he would never again be known as the son of a Muggle-hater, but as nothing more or less than the most brilliant student ever seen at the school. Those of us who were privileged to be his friends benefited from his example, not to mention his help and encouragement, with which he was always generous. He confessed to me in later life that he knew even then that his greatest pleasure lay in teaching.’
Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows

Kennilworthy Whisp’s journey writing Quidditch Through the Ages

Quidditch Match Gryffindor Vs Slytherin
© JKR/Pottermore Ltd. ™ Warner Bros.

Newt Scamander had a tale to tell, so why not Kennilworthy Whisp? The Nottinghamshire-based Quidditch expert knew everything there was to say on the subject of the sport, and yet we hardly know anything about him. Shouldn’t he have been endorsing the latest racing broom or offering his expert commentary on matches? More of Kennilworthy, please!

The adventures of the Marauders

Prongs, Padfoot, Moony and Wormtail in their transfigured animal forms.
© JKR/Pottermore Ltd. ™ Warner Bros.

Oh, what we’d do to read the moment in which James saved Severus Snape’s life after Sirius sent him to check out Remus Lupin during his werewolf transformation. What we’d give to find out just how the infamous four managed to turn themselves into Animagi, or how they made the Marauder’s Map, or how they found all of the secret passageways out of Hogwarts. We would especially like to know who worked out that they had to tap the witch statue’s hump to get into the Honeydukes cellar.

Quirrell’s adventures in Romania

Quirrell and Harry in front of the Mirror of Erised.
© JKR/Pottermore Ltd. ™ Warner Bros.

Before Quirrell met Voldemort, he was just a simple wizard who wanted to prove himself and do that by tracking down whatever was left of Voldemort and learning his dark ways.

Before his travels, he worked as the professor of Muggle Studies at Hogwarts, so it wasn’t like he shared Voldemort’s ideas of world domination. As such, his time in Romania must have been an interesting journey as he was slowly manipulated by the Dark Lord and tempted by the Dark Arts.

‘I met him when I travelled around the world. A foolish young man I was then, full of ridiculous ideas about good and evil. Lord Voldemort showed me how wrong I was. There is no good and evil, there is only power, and those too weak to seek it... Since then, I have served him faithfully, although I have let him down many times.’ Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone

The tragedy of Dean Thomas’s father

Dean looking inquisitive wearing his Gryffindor robes
Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix

Dean’s story is one of the most interesting ones that never made it into the books, but not for happy reasons.

J.K. Rowling has revealed that his father, a wizard, left his Muggle wife and his child to protect them from Death Eaters, and was shortly murdered after he refused to join them. There are so many dark stories from Voldemort’s first uprising, but we wish we’d known more of the courageous actions of Dean’s father. Also: poor Dean.

Tom Riddle’s life in the orphanage

Tom Riddle's room in the orphanage from The Half Blood Prince.
Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince

It was a cry that went around the world after the release of Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince in 2005: just what did a young Tom Riddle do to Amy Benson and Dennis Bishop that they were ‘never the same’ again? A flashback to the world’s Darkest wizard growing up and learning how to use his powers is definitely one we're morbidly curious about.

‘Amy Benson and Dennis Bishop were never quite right afterwards, and all we ever got out of them was that they’d gone into a cave with Tom Riddle. He swore they’d just gone exploring, but something happened in there, I’m sure of it. And, well, there have been a lot of things, funny things…’
Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows