Consistent readers of this blog will know that Harry Potter played a large role in developing my love of reading and my desire to write. Harry Potter was the first series of books I fell in love with; the first that gave me the feeling that I have sought in every book since.
It’s been a while since I’ve re-read the series, but I’m currently almost finished with The Half Blood Prince and I have several thoughts on the overall series that I didn’t notice before. I love all of the books. They are all great. And, really, I have no desire to change anything.
But that doesn’t make for a fun post. Here are some things that I would have done differently in Harry Potter.
For the record: I’m talking about story elements here, not writing style. Also, spoilers abound. So don’t read this if you plan on reading Potter and haven’t yet.
If you read my post about the Tropes I Hate, this won’t come as a surprise to you. There were far too many unnecessary deaths in this series.
I understand that Rowling wanted to show the emotional affects of war. I get that. But I wasn’t prepared for so many high-profile deaths. For example: why kill Remus and Tonks? One of them, okay I can let it slide, but both? I think she said somewhere that she killed them to show that war makes orphans, but wasn’t Harry an orphan the whole series? Didn’t we already understand that?
Several of the deaths made sense from a story point of view and I’m not mad at them.
Hedwig I get, it showed Harry’s loss of innocence (though, to be fair, I think that happened way sooner than Hedwig’s death). Cedric, of course, made sense. Snape made sense, though he could have lived and it wouldn’t have affected the story much. Even Dumbledore I get the reasoning, but I’ll say more about that later. I’m fine with Sirius dying. I’m even okay with Dobby dying. Those deaths were emotional gut punches that were heart wrenching and in a seven book series, I’m fine with a couple of them.
But then Rowling went overboard. I mean, what did Colin Creevey ever do? Moody didn’t have to die. Lavender Brown deserved better. Also, Fred. Why Fred? The Weasley’s just had to have someone die, I guess.
At least I can say that Rowling held back a little. Unlike other fantasy authors of a more grim variety, most of the main cast survived. Harry, Ron, Hermione, Ginny, Hagrid, Arthur and Molly, Malfoy etc. All of them made it out and that wouldn’t be the case if someone like George Martin wrote these books. For that, I am thankful. But I still don’t think there needed to be as much as there was.
This is a personal opinion for which I’m sure to get some disagreement, but I think Dumbledore is my favorite of the wise older wizard archetype. I think his character is done phenomenally well and almost every scene he is in feels powerful, important, and entertaining. I love Dumbledore.
So I wish we saw more of him. Specifically, I wish we saw more of the badass Dumbledore. The wizard Voldemort was always afraid of. We saw flashes of him, but that Dumbledore was never allowed out of the box fully. I wanted a few scenes where Dumbledore storms in and just messes stuff up for the Death Eaters. Like the Ministry of Magic fight at the end of Order of the Phoenix except larger and grander and more often.
I think we were often told how awesome Dumbledore was at magic and how everyone else was afraid/respectful of him, but we rarely got to see him unleashed.
Specifically, we never had an epic showdown between Dumbledore and Voldemort. And I’d give so much to see that fight. Sure, we had a taste of it at the end of Order of the Phoenix, but it wasn’t an all-out duel. It was potshots at each other that didn’t last all that long. I wanted to see Voldemort fight the only wizard he was ever scared of. I wanted to see why he was so scared of Dumbledore.
Honestly, I wanted Dumbledore to kill Voldemort.
I know, I know. That goes against the prophecy element (though not really. Harry still could have had his forest scene and that would have delivered on the prophecy). But, to me, this series never really felt like a Harry vs. Voldemort thing. It felt like Harry trying to survive Voldemort while Dumbledore actually fought against Voldemort’s rise to power. After all, there is no question Voldemort is the better wizard and Harry only won the fight because of some fluke with the Elder Wand or something.
Dumbledore deserved better. After all of the work, sacrifice, and effort Dumbledore put in, he deserved a fight with Voldemort. He deserved to be the one to kill Voldemort. Harry could have had his resolution in the forest when he accepted his role as sacrifice and willingly submitted to death by Voldemort – something that he had been trying to escape the whole series – while Dumbledore had his resolution by actually accomplishing what he gave his life to. Dumbledore should have killed Voldemort.
Which means, obviously…
Dumbledore Shouldn’t Have Died
You’re telling me the most powerful, wise, intelligent wizard to ever live died because he put on a ring that was so clearly full of evil magic even dumb Harry wouldn’t have touched it? Come on.
And then Snape being the one to kill him?
After all he did, after all he was, Dumbledore deserved a better end than that. Frankly, he deserved to not have an end and to rule over Hogwarts when Harry’s kids got there.
Justice for Dumbledore.
Get Rid of the Deathly Hallows
Even the first time I read this series, the Hallows felt…unnecessary. Something like a distraction and a filler that caused more problems than they solved. Sure, it gave Harry a way to kill Voldemort – something he clearly couldn’t do on his own – but at the cost of opening up a whole can of worms that couldn’t be contained. There are still so many questions and confusion around the Hallows and that can only be because they were introduced late into a story that we already thought we knew.
We knew Harry had to hunt horcruxes and then take on Voldy. That made sense. But now there are these Hallows involved? What are those? Is that the story now? What is going on?
I don’t think they were needed, especially if she went with Dumbledore killing Voldemort, and I think they were more trouble than they were worth. It gave Harry another cheap out when he fought Voldemort. After being saved countless times do to lucky happenstance (his mother dying for him, that protection saving him in book two, the dual core wands saving him in book four, etc), it felt cheap to have the last fight also end with a bit of undeserved luck. Harry didn’t deserve to kill Voldemort, he got lucky because of the Hallows. Without them, he would have had to earn it.
Harry and Ginny Needed More Time Together
Readers of the books have long understood something watchers of the movies never quite grasped: Ginny Weasley is absolutely, indisputably awesome. She combines the sarcastic, fun-loving Weasley twins with the loyalty of Ron, the brains of Percy, the sense of adventure of Charlie and the good natured, generosity of Bill. She is the complete Weasley package and I loved her, especially in books Five through Seven.
Also, somewhat of a controversial opinion, I loved her relationship with Harry. It was something hinted at from the very first book and as we saw Ginny grow and expand, it just made sense. I loved watching that relationship blossom and the years of work unfurl. I wish I saw more of it.
Because that relationship started halfway (or later) through book six and Harry was on the run for all of book seven, we didn’t get to spend much time exploring that relationship. And I wish we could have, because it is one of my favorite subplots of the series.
Someone Should Have Broke Up
Which leads me to here.
One of the major relationships should have broken up in the series. And I think that should have been Ron and Hermione.
Listen, I love their relationship and I’m glad they got together. But if I’m forced to make changes to this story, this is one I’d make. They should have broken up. They should have realized that they were better as friends and didn’t work as a couple. After all, they brought ugly qualities out of each other several times in the series, but were great as friends.
Harry and Ginny complimented each other well, brought good things out of each other, and were great as a couple. Ron and Hermione…not so much. It was more a relationship born out of familiarity and I don’t know how great those normally are.
Plus, it is unrealistic to assume that everyone’s high school relationship ends perfectly, as it normally does in this series. If we’re going to be all realistic about deaths, shouldn’t we be realistic about that as well?
I love Harry Potter. Re-reading the series after a long break has reminded me how great this story is. Honestly, I wouldn’t really change anything. I think it all works well exactly as it is.
But those are the things that I think could have made this story even better.
Do you disagree? Let me know in the comments.