It’s hard to believe, but it’s been 11 years since the last Harry Potter movie from the original series hit theaters. Ever since Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part 2 came out on July 7, 2011, fans have been talking about whether it measured up to the grand finale in the books. The decision to split the final chapter of the series into two movies was already controversial enough, even without getting into everything that those movies did differently. But while there were a lot of changes, and some of them were definitely questionable, some were arguably even better ways to portray the story on the big screen. Here are the 10 biggest changes from Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows to its movie adaptation, ranked from worst to best!
10. The Final Battle Was Ridiculous
This is definitely my least favorite change. Harry Potter fans have been talking about this for ages: the final battle between Harry and Voldemort was changed from a tense confrontation with the whole Wizarding world watching, to just another action sequence with a lot of pretty silly visuals. While some people have argued that movies are more visual and the action was needed, there’s just so much to unpack at the end of this series, and as a result, in the movie, a lot of loose ends don’t get tied up. Plus, what was Voldemort doing trying to choke Harry with a bunch of …cloak tentacles? Weird.
9. Fred Deserved Better
In the books, Fred Weasley’s death during the Battle of Hogwarts is a lot bigger deal, coming just at the moment of reconciliation with Percy (and by the way, where’s Percy?) and instantly turning the scene into a tragedy. In the movies, Harry doesn’t even see it. Instead, we see his family crying over his body hours later, with no explanation of what happened at all. For such an important character, and such an important moment for Harry, it’s just odd that Fred’s death happens completely offscreen.
8. Teddy Lupin Barely Exists
Where is Teddy Lupin? In the book, Lupin’s relationship with Tonks and the son they’re expecting propels a lot of the professor’s character arc in the final chapter of the series, grappling with the idea of passing along the curse of being a werewolf. Lupin even tries to run away from his family and join Harry, Ron, and Hermione, causing Harry to throw him out of Grimmauld Place. Later, when Tonks gives birth, Harry is named Teddy’s godfather, creating a really touching parallel to his relationship with Sirius. But Teddy is almost completely absent from Deathly Hallows, Part 2, only getting one mention after his parents are both dead. He was also reportedly supposed to appear in the epilogue, but didn’t make the final cut. Teddy’s exclusion and reducing Lupin’s part in the story isn’t surprising, though, given the lack of attention the Marauders backstory received during the other movies as well.
7. “The Dungeons Would Do.”
In the book, when it becomes clear that Hogwarts will have to fight to defend itself, Professor McGonagall orders all younger students and anyone unwilling to fight to be evacuated, with no judgment for those who choose to leave. Most of the Slytherins do go with the ones who aren’t of age, but this is understood largely to be because they are unwilling to fight their families who are on Voldemort’s side. In the movie, however, there is no mention of an evacuation at all, and all Slytherins are presumed to be plotting Harry Potter’s destruction from the beginning. They’re sent to the dungeons, trapped there for presumably the rest of the movie (in a building under attack!). While sure, some Slytherins are definitely Death Eater sympathizers, some are also 12. It’s a weird choice for sure.
6. Voldemort Disintegrates
At the end of the final battle, when Voldemort’s Killing Curse rebounds on him, it’s the end for the infamous Dark Lord. But in the book, his death is very human: he drops to the ground, and leaves a body behind. In the movie, however, he disintegrates slowly, his ashes twirling up into the sky while eerie music trails off in the background. This change is another one made for the visual, and it is a dramatic, well-done effect. The only problem is that Voldemort’s mortality, which had always been in doubt to most witches and wizards, was proven when he died, and turning to dust isn’t the most final way to go in a fantasy story. That said, it is a cool look, and it makes more sense with the dramatic action scene that came before it than just dropping dead.
5. Ron and Hermione’s First Kiss is Different
The moment of truth for Ron and Hermione, when they finally show their true feelings for each other, is very different in the book than in the movie. Originally, Hermione rushes to kiss Ron after he questions whether the house elves fighting for the wizards is right, and their moment is witnessed by a shocked Harry before the trio go their separate ways. In Deathly Hallows, Part 2, however, the filmmakers went a different direction, with the couple getting together alone in the Chamber of Secrets after destroying a Horcrux. The movie scene was widely criticized for changing such an important moment, and in the movie Harry doesn’t even necessarily know they’re together until much later because he isn’t there. But it’s a more visually compelling scene for sure, and it’s nice that they get to have their moment alone.
4. Harry and Ginny
Speaking of relationships, one that’s a lot different in Deathly Hallows, Part 2, and the movies in general, is Harry and Ginny Weasley. One of the major problems many people have with the Harry Potter movies is the lackluster treatment of this couple compared to the books, especially in Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince. Well, Deathly Hallows, Part 2 seems to be trying to make up for it, since the two have lots more moments together than they do in the book. In Deathly Hallows, Ginny is actually told to stay behind during the battle, since she’s only sixteen, and after Harry breaking up with her to protect her in the sixth book, they don’t say much to each other until they’re married in the epilogue. But since that never happened in the movies, the two have a pretty happy reunion, and they share a kiss while they both prepare to fight. This change is one of my favorites, as it gives Ginny a lot more agency than the book does.
3. McGonagall vs. Snape
It’s a fan-favorite scene by now, but it wasn’t in the books: Harry confronts Snape in the Great Hall, and when Snape draws his wand, so does McGonagall. It’s an intense battle, the first of many badass McGonagall moments in the movie, and it seems like a perfect ending of the characters’ dynamic as the conflicting advisors to Dumbledore throughout the years. In the books, however, this scene takes place outside Ravenclaw Tower just after Harry defends McGonagall from the Death Eater twin professors the Carrows. And McGonagall isn’t alone in the book, joined by Professors Flitwick, Sprout, and Slughorn as well. While it’s a shame the other professors don’t get their moment to shine, this version of events gives McGonagall’s power more weight just before the Battle of Hogwarts, and represents her and Harry’s relationship just as well. Plus, the battle scene is great.
2. Snape’s Death and Memories
When Snape is killed by Voldemort, the memories he gives Harry in his last moments reveal everything about the mysterious character: his love for Lily Evans, his role as a double agent, and Dumbledore’s final plan to defeat the Dark Lord once and for all. In both the book and the movie, the scene is very emotional and pivotal, and both are executed well and in very similar ways. But there are subtle differences, and I think overall they make this element of the story better. In the book, Snape dies in the Shrieking Shack, which connects his character back to the school days his memories will touch on, but in the movie his last moments take place in a boathouse, which I think is a much more visually compelling setting. And the memories we see from him in the next sequence are slightly different. While they tell the same story, they focus on different things.
Some critics of Snape point out that the movies don’t focus enough on the bad choices he made, but I would argue that the movie shows the memories in a way that centers their impact, not just their story. The movie version focuses on what he knows about Harry, and the Horcrux inside him, while also explaining the complexity of Snape’s character. The scene says goodbye to Snape, and makes the most important information clear to the audience: for Voldemort to die, Harry has to, too. It ties everything together more clearly than the book and propels the action toward the final confrontation in the next scene.
1. Harry Destroys the Elder Wand
This one is a big one. While it’s pretty blink-and-you’ll-miss-it, the implications for the future of the Wizarding World are huge. After Voldemort is gone, Harry is walking with Ron and Hermione and explains all that lore we missed in the movie version of the final battle. (Still mad about that, by the way.) And when they realize that he is the master of the Elder Wand, they wonder what they should do about it until Harry snaps it in two and throws it into the lake. In the book, he simply puts the wand back in Dumbledore’s tomb, saying that if he dies a natural death, the power of the Wand will be lost. That’s great, Harry, but someone who’s about to join the Aurors isn’t likely to die a natural death, and any old Dark wizard who Disarms him for the rest of his life could find themselves in control of unimaginable power- not a great plan. The choice Harry makes in the movie is a lot more responsible, and gets rid of the possibility of another Master of Death once and for all. In the movie version of Deathly Hallows, it’s a lot easier to believe that nineteen years later, “all is well”.
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