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Utterly Genius Foreshadowing In Harry Potter Most Fans Completely Missed

Updated February 10, 2021 33.8k votes 6.7k voters 312.9k views14 items

List RulesVote up the foreshadowing in the Harry Potter books you can't believe you missed.

As most fans of the series already know, the Harry Potter books are filled to the brim with subtle, clever moments of foreshadowing. To some, these references to future events and places only became clear and obvious as the story went on. But, those moments of foreshadowing in the Harry Potter books don't just come in the form of building up to Harry's eventual fight with Voldemort at the end of the series, or the growing romantic tension between Ron and Hermione.

In fact, the books are littered with hidden messages and details, most of which slyly set up tragic character deaths in the series' later installments, or the incipient introduction of major places, objects, and characters. While some of these Harry Potter foreshadowing moments managed to make their way into the film adaptations too, it shouldn't be surprising that most were left for the book readers to discuss amongst themselves.

So, in honor of author J.K. Rowling's hard and detail-oriented work writing the series, let's explore some of the best moments of foreshadowing in the Harry Potter books. 

  • 5

    The Vanishing Cabinet Showed Up Years Before It Was Important To The Plot

    Photo: Warner Bros. Pictures

    The Vanishing Cabinet Draco Malfoy used to smuggle Death Eaters into Hogwarts in Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince actually made multiple appearances in prior installments of the series. A Vanishing Cabinet first showed up in Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets. Harry ducked inside one to hide from the Malfoy family at Borgin and Burke's.

    Another Vanishing Cabinet was briefly mentioned in Order of the Phoenix, when Fred and George Weasley trapped a Slytherin classmate inside a broken Cabinet in the Room of Requirement. They even mentioned that the classmate disappeared, which, at the time, was shrugged off as just another existentially terrifying magical moment at Hogwarts.

    In the Half-Blood Prince, it finally became clear that the Vanishing Cabinet in the Room of Requirement was a vital magical object in the series' overall story. Furthermore, the one in Borgin and Burke's was actually its twin! This is J.K. Rowling's long-form set up at its very best.

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  • 6

    The Centaurs Knew How Harry Would Die In the Forbidden Forest

    Photo: Warner Bros. Pictures

    The centaurs accurately predicted that Voldemort will kill Harry in the Forbidden Forest during their introduction in Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone. The Centaurs made two bold predictions when they ran into Harry in the Forbidden Forest for the first time. While their proclamation that "war is coming" wound up coming true as well, their other prediction may be even more eerie.

    After Firenze saved Harry from Voldemort/Quirrell's attack in the forest, one of Firenze's brethren, Bane, chided Firenze for interfering with the planets' intention. That meant Bane believed Harry was destined to die in the forest at Voldemort's hands—and while it didn't turn out that way in Sorcerer's Stone, Voldemort did, in fact, wind up "killing" Harry in the Forest during Deathly Hallows. So, it turned out the centaurs were right about the event itself; they were just a little off in their timing.

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  • 7

    J.K. Rowling Hinted Early On At The True Identity Of Scabbers

    Photo: Warner Bros. Pictures

    Scabbers's true identity as the animagus Peter Pettigrew was part of the massive plot twist at the end of Prisoner of Azkaban, but eagle-eyed readers could see the reveal coming. 

    Early in Prisoner of Azkaban, it was casually noted that garden rats typically have a life span of only three years. This made Scabbers's 12-year-long history with the Weasley family far out of the ordinary. Rowling then went on to describe that Scabbers had been losing weight throughout the book, which readers later realized was the result of Peter Pettigrew stressing at the news of Sirius Black's escape. 

    The final major clue Rowling wove into the story regarding Scabbers's true identity is the fact that he was missing one of his toes. This might not have seemed strange on its own, but obsessive readers recalled that only one of Pettigrew's fingers was found when he "died," following his pre-Sorcerer's Stone confrontation with Sirius. All in all, these clues made the Pettigrew reveal at the end of Prisoner seem—in hindsight—pretty obvious.

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  • 8

    Peter Pettigrew's Death Was Predicted By Dumbledore

    Photo: Warner Bros. Pictures

    Peter Pettigrew's demise in Deathly Hallows was foreshadowed and set up by Albus Dumbledore near the end of Prisoner of Azkaban. After Harry talked Lupin and Sirius out of killing Pettigrew during their confrontation in Prisoner of Azkaban, Dumbledore told Harry not to be too upset about Pettigrew escaping in the end. According to Dumbledore, Harry should look forward to the day when Pettigrew would have to honor his life debt.

    This, of course, came when Pettigrew let Harry and his friends escape from Malfoy Manor in Deathly Hallows. That action resulted in his auto-strangulation by Voldemort's metal hand. It was one of those book moments that was most noticeably missing from the film adaptations. 

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