While Harry Potter may no longer be the most successful movie franchise of all time, or even the second most successful movie franchise of all time, it is still a beloved series that millions of fans still regularly go back and rewatch.
Though not all of the Harry Potter movies were perfect, it is still one of those rare franchises where every movie is generally accepted as good – and not even the Marvel Cinematic Universe has that.
Despite all of the Harry Potter movies being well-received by fans, a number of them do unfortunately have their flaws. The Chamber of Secrets, The Order of the Phoenix, and The Deathly Hallows Part 1 may arguably be the weakest of the franchise, but they are still generally loved by the fans.
There were a number of decisions that went down behind the scenes that helped to make the Harry Potter movies what they were today. A number of bad choices were shot down, while there were unfortunately also a number of bad choices that were let through.
While there were bad choices, there were also a number of good choices made by the people at Warner Bros. that arguably saved the franchise, with a great deal of these decisions being made last minute.
Character recastings, director hirings, scenes being deleted, and characters being cut all drastically changed the movies over the years, for better or for worse.
With that said, here are the 10 Last Minute Changes That Hurt The Harry Potter Movies (And 11 That Saved Them).
21 Saved: Deciding Not To Recast Dudley
Harry Melling, who played Dudley Dursley in the entire franchise, was nearly replaced in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 1.
Apparently, Melling lost quite a bit of weight in order to look more appealing on camera, as he was hoping to pursue a stronger acting career.
Unfortunately, this contrasted with Dudley’s description in the book, which described him as being plump and large. Because of this, Warner Bros. and director David Yates were tempted to recast him so that he could better fit his description from the books.
Thankfully, they decided to keep Melling on board as Dudley, and instead just made him wear a fat suit.
The Harry Potter franchise has a fairly decent track record of keeping cast members around, which would have made Dudley’s recasting rather alarming.
20 Hurt: Everything Deleted With Teddy Lupin
One of the most heartwarming aspects of the book Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows that gave a bit of hope despite the dark events was the birth of Teddy Lupin, the child of Remus Lupin and Nymphadora Tonks.
For whatever reason, the movies deleted nearly every aspect of Teddy, even the scenes that were in the script that were shot, but were deleted from the theatrical release.
Teddy was an important part of the books, with Harry going on to be his godfather.
It wasn’t just Teddy’s absence that hurt the movies, but even the lack of continuity with Teddy’s absence.
Though they cut nearly every aspect of Teddy from the movies, when the ghost of Lupin appeared towards the end of Deathly Hallows Part 2, he brought up that he wanted Harry to watch over his son.
This ended up confusing a number of fans who had never read the books, as the movies had never brought up anything about Lupin having kids.
19 Saved: Emma Watson Deciding To Audition
The casting team for Harry Potter and the Philospher’s Stone actually held cold auditions at numerous primary schools across the U.K., which is actually how Emma Watson got the role of Hermione Granger.
However, young Emma Watson didn’t actually want to audition.
Whereas nearly every girl at Watson’s school wanted to audition for the role, Watson herself had no interest. It wasn’t until Watson’s teacher talked to her the day of the auditions that Watson actually decided to read some of the lines.
Watson went with it, at least try out for the part.
Fortunately, this made her the last student to audition for the day, making her the most recent student on the casting team’s mind.
18 Hurt: Casting Michael Gambon As Dumbledore
Many Harry Potter fans were notably furious when Michael Gambon was cast as Dumbledore, as opposed to Richard Harris, who had passed away before production of Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban began.
While this was an unavoidable situation, as nothing that Warner Bros. could have done would have brought the original actor back, there are a number of fans of the franchise who are still furious about Gambon being selected for the role.
Though some people do appreciate seeing Gambon as Dumbledore, there is a good portion of the Harry Potter fandom that cannot stand seeing him as the wise old wizard.
Much of their irritation can be credited to his performance in The Goblet of Fire when his version of Dumbledore had a bit of a temper.
17 Saved: Not Being A Spielberg-Helmed Animated Movie
When Warner Bros. first started their work on the Harry Potter franchise, they actually wanted it to be directed by Steven Spielberg.
While Spielberg is a phenomenal director, his vision for Harry Potter wasn’t so great.
Rather than being a seven or eight part live action franchise, Spielberg envisioned Harry Potter as an animated movie. He hoped to work on the project with DreamWorks, which was proving to be a very strong animation studio at the time.
The biggest catch was that Spielberg didn’t want there to be a movie for each book. Instead, he apparently wanted to combine a number of the books into a single movie.
Though not every Harry Potter book was out just yet, Spielberg envisioned the few that had been released being combined into a single animated movie.
As we know now, this wouldn’t have been the best idea for the purpose of storytelling or for bringing in money.
16 Hurt: Harry Breaking The Elder Wand
While a majority of avid Harry Potter fans loved The Deathly Hallows Part 2, there was one moment that seriously upset a number of the fans who had read the book: when Harry broke the Elder Wand at the end of the movie.
In the book, Harry actually used the Elder Wand to fix his own wand, and then decided to hold onto it for the rest of his life.
The idea was that, once he, the proper owner of the Elder Wand, passed away, the Elder Wand would never again be able to have a master.
It is currently unknown why director David Yates decided to exclude this from the movie, but it was more than likely to save time. Showing him go to Dumbledore’s office to fix his own wand arguably would have been an unnecessary scene, but it didn’t mean that Harry had to break the wand entirely.
15 Saved: Correcting Dumbledore’s Orientation
In the original script for Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince, Dumbledore brought up to Harry that he once had a girlfriend, more than likely in an attempt to connect to Harry about his personal relationships.
However, shortly before production began on The Half Blood Prince, J.K. Rowling read through the script and was quick to point out the inaccuracy of this moment by revealing that Dumbledore was actually gay.
This was the first time she confirmed Dumbledore’s orientation. She went on to make this public knowledge later the same year.
The reason why this detail is important is now apparent with the Fantastic Beasts franchise.
According to Rowling, Gellert Grindelwald was the only person that Dumbledore ever thought of romantically, which will become an important detail as the Fantastic Beast franchise continues.
14 Hurt: Deleting Petunia’s Deathly Hallows Scene
Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 1 almost featured a heartbreaking deleted scene between Harry and his Aunt Petunia.
The scene featured Petunia looking around her empty home before having to leave, with Harry explaining to her how dangerous it would be for her to stay.
Petunia responds to Harry saying, “Do you think I don’t know what they’re capable of? You didn’t just lose a mother that night in Godric’s Hollow, you know. I lost a sister.” Petunia then leaves, too stricken with emotion.
This would have been the first time in the Harry Potter movie franchise that we would’ve seen Harry and Petunia connect on an emotional level, and would have been a phenomenal way to send off this character who had been in the franchise from day one.
For whatever reason, though, this scene was cut, which is truly disappointing.
13 Saved: Hugh Grant Dropping Out From Playing Lockhart
Actor Hugh Grant, best known for movies like Love, Actually and Four Weddings and a Funeral nearly played the Defense Against the Dark Arts professor Gilderoy Lockhart in Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets.
However, Grant had to drop out from the movie due to scheduling conflicts last minute.
In his place, the role was offered to Oscar nominated actor Kenneth Branagh, whose schedule was fortunately open enough for the movie.
While Grant is a phenomenal actor, Branagh blew the role out of the park, becoming one of the highlights of Chamber of Secrets.
To this day, it’s hard to picture anyone else playing Lockhart, so we are glad things turned out the way that they did.
12 Hurt: The Awkward Hug
While Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2 managed to include a lot of the details from the book, considering that it was a two-parter, it didn’t stop director David Yates and the rest of the studio from making a few changes nonetheless.
One change that certainly stood out from the book was the awkward hug between Voldemort and Draco Malfoy towards the end of the movie.
This scene confused a great number of fans and arguably hurt the third act of the movie, considering that this was supposed to be an intensely emotional moment.
This scene was actually improvised on set by actor Ralph Fiennes, which would explain why this scene was included.
It didn’t further the plot, though, which is why it wasn’t even considered to be included in the script.
Instead, it was just something funny that an actor did on set that those in charge ridiculously decided to include in the final cut.
11 Saved: Emma Watson Not Wearing Fake Teeth
In the books, Hermione was described as having a rather unappealing overbite, which director Chris Columbus somehow thought was important for the first Harry Potter movie.
However, after shooting one scene with Emma Watson wearing fake teeth to better fit the description, Columbus realized that it would hinder her performance down the road.
For the rest of production, Columbus did not have Watson wear fake teeth, which we can all agree was most likely for the best.
If she had fake teeth in the first movie, she realistically would have had to worn them for the other 7 movies as well, which presumably would have been unbearable.
The only scene featuring Emma Watson with fake teeth is the final train scene in Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone. They are hard to notice, but if you pause the movie at this spot, you might be able to spot her ridiculous overbite.
10 Hurt: Deleting A Final Scene From Goblet Of Fire
The final scenes of Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire were noticeably underwhelming in comparison to the horrific acts that had occurred during the rest of the third act, including the return of Lord Voldemort, which Harry did not even discuss with Ron or Hermione afterwards.
Evidently, there was apparently a deleted scene from the end of Goblet of Fire that was never even released.
The scene featured Harry standing alone in the woods by a river, with Ron and Hermione finding him to comfort him.
While we haven’t actually been able to watch this scene, it presumably would have featured Harry coming to terms with what happened at the graveyard with Voldemort in an incredibly emotional scene that would’ve properly set up the next movie.
9 Saved: J.K. Rowling Turning Down The Role Of Lily Potter
For Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone, author J.K. Rowling was actually offered the role of Lily Potter as a cameo. Rowling would’ve needed to have appeared in the Mirror of Erised in the first Harry Potter movie, in addition to a couple flashbacks.
“The filmmakers did ask me to play Lily Potter in the first film,” Rowling said, “but I really am not cut out to be an actress, even one who just has to stand there and wave. I would have messed it up somehow.”
While it would’ve been nice to have seen Rowling cameo throughout the franchise, much like Stan Lee, having her play Harry’s mother wouldn’t have been the right way to do it.
Every time Lily showed up, it was in an emotional way, as the loss of Harry’s mother was still a soft spot for him. Making these moments into fun cameos would have seriously hurt their emotional aspects.
8 Hurt: Cutting Peeves The Poltergeist
The Harry Potter movies cut a number of characters from the books that really should have appeared, including Winky the House Elf, Neville’s parents, and Teddy Lupin.
One character who nearly did make it into the movies, though, was Peeves the Poltergeist.
In the books, Peeves was one of the most prominent and memorable ghosts who roamed the halls of Hogwarts, regularly getting into trouble just like Fred and George.
He added a bit of humor throughout the series, quickly becoming a fan favorite character for those who read the books.
Peeves was originally supposed to appear in Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone, but evidently, director Chris Columbus did not like how he looked after they shot his parts.
Not wanting to try anything else, Columbus cut Peeves from the movie entirely.
7 Saved: Changing Tonks’s Hair Color
Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix introduced Harry Potter fans to Nymphadora Tonks, who went on to become an important hero throughout the rest of the movies and books.
However, there was one major change to her character that was made in the movie Order of the Phoenix that ultimately improved her character overall.
In the books, Tonks had bright pink hair, but director David Yates decided to change the hair color, as he wanted the color pink to be exclusive to Umbridge in Order of the Phoenix.
This turned out to be a good last minute change to Tonks’s character, as the purple hair is a lot more appealing visually than bright pink.
6 Hurt: Daniel Radcliffe’s Eye Color
Many hardcore Harry Potter fans were irritated with a bit of a continuity error in the franchise, specifically regarding Harry’s eyes.
In the books, Harry was described as having green eyes, whereas actor Daniel Radcliffe’s eyes are blue.
The original plan was to have Radcliffe wear contacts to change his eye color in the movies, but this plan had to be scrapped when they discovered that Radcliffe was actually allergic to contacts.
The problem became even worse, however, when the movies kept the detail from the books that Harry had his mother’s eyes, and then casted his mother with an actress who had brown eyes.
It became a serious continuity error that many Harry Potter fans are not able to overlook.
5 Saved: Draco’s “I Didn’t Know You Could Read” Line
One of the most humorous moments from Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets was when Harry and Ron disguised themselves as Crabbe and Goyle and figured out just how much Draco Malfoy patronizes his two friends.
During this scene, Draco says the humorous line “I didn’t know you could read” in response to “Goyle” (Harry in disguise) explaining that he was wearing glasses because he was reading.
This line was actually improvised by actor Tom Felton, who had evidently forgotten his actual line, and responded in the most in-character and sarcastic way he could come up with.
It was such a hilarious line that director Chris Columbus chose to keep it in the final cut.
4 Hurt: Replacing Colin Creevey With Nigel
In Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, movie-goers and book readers were introduced to Colin Creevey, who was a huge fan of Harry.
Despite not being seen only in this one movie, Colin appeared in every book afterwards… until he met his bitter end in The Deathly Hallows.
Fans were even introduced to his younger brother Dennis.
Though Colin Creevey never appeared again in the movies after he was petrified in The Chamber of Secrets, an eerily similar character who looked and acted just like Colin appeared in The Goblet of Fire, named Nigel, who had never appeared in the books.
Nigel stuck around for a few movies, even joining Dumbledore’s Army in The Order of the Phoenix.
While the actual origins of Nigel are an absolute mystery, most people assume that he was made as a last minute decision after Colin’s actor did not want to return.
Colin Creevey was more than likely part of the Goblet of Fire script, and instead of recasting him or writing him out, the filmmakers just replaced him with an identical character named Nigel.
This was a cheap fix to the casting issue that ultimately confused many Harry Potter fans and ruined the potential for Colin’s character in future movies.
3 Saved: All Of Alfonso Cuaron’s Changes
After Chris Columbus left the franchise following the disappointing response to Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, director Alfonso Cuaron took hold of a nearly broken franchise and miraculously saved it.
Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban brought a number of huge changes to the Harry Potter franchise, including how Hogwarts looked, how certain characters looked, and the overall tone of the movie.
Prisoner of Azkaban is still considered one of the best movies of the franchise because of how much Cuaron changed.
While the previous two movies were incredibly accurate to the books, Prisoner of Azkaban took quite a few leaps in order to make it work better as a movie.
It should be noted that the movies after Prisoner of Azkaban did not make any drastic changes to the franchise, simply because the work that Cuaron did was fantastic.
The tone that Cuaron set stuck around for the following five movies, and arguably saved the Harry Potter franchise.
If not for Cuaron’s changes, it’s very possible that the Harry Potter series would not have gone on to be as successful as it is today.
2 Hurt: Deleting The Final Scene With Lupin & Tonks
The ending of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2 brought a bitter end to Remus Lupin and Nymphadora Tonks, who had recently gotten married.
However, instead of showing the demise of these two heroes, or anything of the two together before they were taken down in the Battle of Hogwarts, we simply saw their bodies laying together after the fact.
For those who had liked both of these characters, this felt like a disgraceful way to see them go.
Both Lupin and Tonks were important characters, and many fans wanted to see a greater goodbye for both of them.
There was a deleted scene from The Deathly Hallows Part 2 where Tonks arrived last minute at the Battle of Hogwarts and embraced Lupin. It was a touching and heartwarming scene that would have made the loss of both characters even more heartbreaking to see.
1 Saved: The UK’s Child Labor Laws
Following the production of Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone, which featured a cast primarily consisting of minors, the United Kingdom revised some of their child labor laws in order to account for child actors.
The laws limited how much child actors could work per week, and mandated that the studio needs to make classes available for the child actors on set to ensure that the actors are still able to receive a proper education during that time.
While this seems like it would be a hassle for the Harry Potter movies, it arguably saved the franchise.
Actress Emma Watson had considered leaving the series a number of times, wanting to focus on different things instead, but decided to stick around nonetheless.
Had the production not offered classes for her, however, it’s very possible that Watson would have left after only a few movies.
Are there any other last minute changes that would’ve hurt or saved the Harry Potter movies? Let us know in the comments!