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Existential Horrors Lurking In The Harry Potter Universe

List RulesVote up the dark things about 'Harry Potter' that are guaranteed to ruin your next re-read.

The wizarding world created by J.K. Rowling is ostensibly whimsical and charming. But when you really think about it, it becomes perfectly clear there are plenty of disturbing things about Harry Potter and the universe in which it takes place. People often look back on their favorite films, television shows, and books with rose-tinted glasses. They ignore the problems with the story and instead focus on everything that was good, glossing over the parts that don’t quite hold up. But a little digging often reveals a whole collection of issues and terrifying implications that you might never have realized. Looking past the façade and applying a modicum of logical reasoning shows just how many weird things about Harry Potter there really are.

Whether it's the wildly racist undertones (and overtones) that direct how the witches and wizards treat the rest of magical society, the inherent problems that come with certain magical abilities, or the unanswered questions that suggest horrific conclusions, the wizarding world of Harry Potter might not be as fun as you first thought.

  • 1

    Love Potions Are Over-The-Counter Date Rape Drugs

    Photo: Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince / Warner Bros.

    One of the darkest aspects of Harry Potter is the proliferation of love potions. These potions are not only easy to manufacture but also perfectly legal, sold in joke shops such as the one run by the Weasley twins. Although they are portrayed as fun, wacky concoctions, they are insanely powerful and effectively act as the ultimate date rape drug.

    They induce all-consuming lust and infatuation, giving anyone the ability to trick others into being attracted to them. The negative side effects of this were even shown in the novels, as Merope (Voldemort's mom) forced Tom Riddle Sr. to become her husband by constantly dosing him. She even had a child with him.

    Love potions are so strong, then, that rapists can use them to force their victims to raise children with them. That's basically the plot of Room, but way more messed up because the victim has to act like they enjoy it. Yet the wizards and witches in Harry Potter treat and regulate love potions like we would fake dog vomit.  

    Is this disturbing?
  • 2

    The World Is Full Of Racists Who Think That Slaves Are Totally Normal

    Photo: Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets / Warner Bros.

    A brief glance at the Harry Potter universe is enough to show just how racist and discriminatory most magical people are. The vast majority of witches and wizards look down upon other (totally sentient) magical creatures, and there is a strong belief in the idea of pure-blooded families being superior.

    Magical abilities such as parseltongue show that animals (or snakes at least) are fully sentient and have their own thoughts, feelings, and desires. Yet they are still treated like, well, snakes. Perhaps the worst of all is the subjugation of house elves, who are basically enslaved. The entire society of magic users has benefited from their captivity (remember, they do most of the menial labor at Hogwarts), and Hermione Granger is the only exception shown in the series. Even then, her activism for the elves is basically treated like a joke. 

    Centaurs, mermaids, and giants are cordoned off into "special areas" they can't leave and are forbidden to make contact with non-magical humans, it seems that goblins are only allowed to work in the banking industry (they're also forbidden from owning wands) and even otherwise "normal" wizards afflicted with lycanthropy are ostracized. That would be like if someone got cancer and we all agreed as a society that they shouldn't be invited to parties. 

    Is this disturbing?
  • 3

    Wizard Trials Are A Complete Sham And Not About Justice At All

    Photo: Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix / Warner Bros.

    In order to sentence people and dish out justice in the world of Harry Potter, the magic users have a court called the Wizengamot. Made up of some of the most powerful people in the world, the court decides whether a person is guilty and punishes them accordingly.

    Unfortunately, they don’t make use of any of the magical items, spells, or potions that could help them to definitively get to the truth, instead relying on less credible evidence. While the truth serum veritaserum isn’t totally foolproof, it would almost certainly lead to fewer people being found guilty of acts they didn’t commit and assist in finding the real culprits, yet it is never used by the court. They also rarely look into people's memories, which seems weird for a society that keeps constant tabs on all of its citizens. The Wizengamot, therefore, is clearly a kangaroo court designed to keep the powerful in power. 

    Is this disturbing?
  • 4

    There Is Definitive Proof Of An Afterlife, Yet Wizards Literally Destroy Souls

    Photo: Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix / Warner Bros.

    Out of everyone alive on the planet in the Harry Potter universe, magic users are the only people who know for a fact that there is an afterlife. They have definitive proof all around them, in the form of ghosts and the existence of souls. Remember, souls are what Dementors eat and there is magic (the manufacture of Horcruxes, for instance) specifically designed around the manipulation of souls.

    Harry himself even perishes and visits the afterlife before returning to the living world. Witches and wizards seem completely apathetic about this knowledge. They don't seem to have an organized religion (outside of celebrating Christmas, which is insane since Christians famously burned witches but whatever) or even education about the fact.

    There's no class at Hogwarts on the nature of souls, even though they are arguably the most important part of a magic person's existence. Worst of all, most people think it's perfectly acceptable to destroy a person’s soul with a Dementor, knowing they are depriving them of everlasting life. The American penal system is harsh, but the justice dished out in Harry Potter is downright Draconian. 

    Is this disturbing?