Part of the series' massive success stems from the wizarding world's wildly intricate rules and rich history; one that might have been quite different if J.K. Rowling didn't have a team of highly skilled editors by her side.
There are a number of Harry Potter plot points J.K. Rowling didn't use, and it's probably for the best. From a Sorting Hat that was little more than a lackluster collection of straws, to killing off the only admirable father figure in the whole series, these cut scenes from the Harry Potter books would have unarguably changed the wizarding world for the worse.
Thankfully, these 13 abandoned Harry Potter ideas were cut more thoroughly than Nearly Headless Nick's partly-severed head.
Hermione's Dad Saved Harry Potter
Hermione's parents are pretty absent throughout the whole series. We know they love their daughter, but they lead a quiet, non-magical life. The only real glimpse the reader gets comes in the gut-wrenching scene where Hermione has to painstakingly remove their memories of her in order to protect them from Voldemort.
In the first draft of Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone, the Grangers actually knew Harry's parents. Lily and James Potter lived on an island, and the Grangers lived just off-shore on the mainland. One fateful night, the Grangers hear an explosion, prompting Mr. Granger to sail his boat over to the island to see what's wrong. That's where he finds baby Harry sitting in the wreckage of his house.
Wisely, Rowling later transferred this role to Hagrid, who then becomes a mentor to Harry, setting him apart from the other students. If Harry and Hermione knew each other throughout childhood, Harry's entire shtick as an outsider would've been debunked, and the inclusion of a normal father figure would've made his character lose some edge.
The Sorting Hat Was Almost A Game Of Eeny Meeny Miny Mo
The idea of Hogwarts without a Sorting Hat is incomprehensible, but it was almost a reality. Though Rowling knew she wanted the students in Hogwarts to be sorted into four different houses that each had unique qualities, the Sorting Hat had a couple lackluster early incarnations.
Originally, Rowling wanted the Sorting Hat to be a machine that "did all kinds of magical things before reaching a decision." Rowling herself admitted that this idea was "too easy."
Next, she thought kids should be sorted by the ghosts of the four founders. The ghosts would exist inside statues that came alive in the entrance hall, picking children for their houses one-by-one.
After that, Rowling grappled with a few basic ideas including drawing straws, being picked by a team captain, and pulling names from a hat. The final idea is what stuck, but instead of housing a collection of names, the hat ended up getting to decide the students' fate.
Arthur Weasley Died During The Vicious Attack From Voldemort's Snake
J.K. Rowling killed off so many characters throughout the Harry Potter series. She planned all the deaths years in advance, and refused to budge on their grim fates, except for when it came to certain Weasleys. When J.K. Rowling was penning her fifth installment, Order of the Phoenix, she originally intended to kill off Ron Weasley's beloved father.
As it's written, Arthur Weasley narrowly survives his battle with Voldemort's snake Nagini. However, in earlier drafts, Nagini came away victorious. Rowling ended up sparing Arthur's life, as she felt that Harry Potter doesn't feature many doting fathers.
“If there's one character I couldn't bear to part with, it's Arthur Weasley,” she told TODAY. “I think part of the reason for that is there were very few good fathers in the book. In fact, you could make a very good case for Arthur Weasley being the only good father in the whole series.”
The Weasley family is hit particularly hard when Fred is killed in the Battle of Hogwarts (which Rowling allegedly knew would happen when she decided to let Arthur live). With tragedy on the horizon for the family, it would've been too much to kill off the only good father in the entire series.
Hermione Had A Sister
Hermione's an only child, a detail that perfectly underscores her bookishness and tendency to be found reading in solitude. Given how well this all plays, it's surprising that J.K. Rowling originally intended to give Hermione a sister.
In a 2004 BBC interview, the writer admitted, "I always planned that Hermione would have a younger sister but she's never made an appearance and somehow it feels like it might be too late now."
She decided that Hermione's quiet, muggle background perfectly contrasted Ron's hectic family life.
"You see so much of Ron’s family... so I thought that I would keep Hermione’s family, by contrast, quite ordinary. They are dentists, as you know. They are a bit bemused by their odd daughter but quite proud of her all the same."