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The Harry Potter movies are known for a lot of things, including their ability to throw an unexpected plot twist viewers’ way. There’s no shortage of surprises scattered throughout Harry’s (Daniel Radcliffe) story. And although fans called some of the later developments, these five twists were so well crafted even a Seer couldn’t have predicted them.

1. Quirrell being the Big Bad of the first ‘Harry Potter’ movie

When Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone first debuted, moviegoers didn’t know about the franchise’s love of plot twists. Perhaps that’s why so few fans saw Professor Quirrell (Ian Hart) becoming the movie’s final boss. After all, Harry and his friends spend the majority of the film hyping up Severus Snape (Alan Rickman) as the villain.

In hindsight, there were signs that Quirrell was up to no good — from his easily misinterpreted confrontation with Snape to his appearance in Diagon Alley right before Gringotts got robbed. Still, his true intentions remain one of Harry Potter‘s more genius reveals. And that’s without the realization that he had Voldemort on the back of his head!

2. Peter Pettigrew was Scabbers all along

In Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, it’s fairly obvious that the accusations against Sirius Black (Gary Oldman) don’t quite add up. So, it’s no surprise that Harry’s godfather didn’t get his parents killed — or even kill Peter Pettigrew (Timothy Spall). In fact, the more astonishing reveal was what actually happened to Pettigrew after he disappeared.

While fans could have foreseen Sirius being innocent, they were less likely to guess that Ron’s (Rupert Grint) rat was to blame for the deaths of Harry’s parents. The revelation that Pettigrew wasn’t just alive — but was an Animagus and Scabbers — understandably threw many for a loop. The books always hinted that Scabbers was a smart rat, but a middle-aged man who grew up with Harry’s parents? Yeah, we definitely didn’t see that one coming.

The ‘Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban’ plot twist that saved the day

Hogwarts castle in 'Fantastic Beasts: The Secrets of Dumbledore.' It's next to the Great Lake and Forbidden Forest.
Hogwarts in ‘Fantastic Beasts: The Secrets of Dumbledore’ | Warner Bros. Pictures

Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban skillfully delivered multiple plot twists throughout its run, including one that saved Sirius from certain death. When Peter Pettigrew gets away, Harry and Hermione (Emma Watson) find themselves struggling to clear Sirius’ name. Fortunately, Hermione has a Plan B up her sleeve: the Time-Turner.

The film drops a few subtle hints about Hermione’s time travel early on, raising questions about how she’s taking so many classes. However, few surmised that she’d been manipulating time. She hid that well, and it’s a good thing, too. Any slip-ups on her part wouldn’t have just cost the film one of its best twists; it would also have put Sirius and Harry in mortal danger.

4. The Mad-Eye Moody reveal in ‘Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire’

After the plot twists involving Professor Quirrell, Sirius Black, and Peter Pettigrew, you’d think Harry Potter fans would know that no one is quite what they seem. But that didn’t stop us from placing our trust in Mad-Eye Moody (Brendan Gleeson) throughout Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire.

To be fair, Harry himself also assumes Moody has his best interests at heart. And viewers were just as surprised as the franchise’s lead to discover the Defense Against the Dark Arts Professor wasn’t Moody at all. Instead, Barty Crouch Jr. (David Tennant) was impersonating the famous Auror using Polyjuice Potion. And the films gave fans just enough information about the Death Eater and the concoction to put two and two together. Still, many didn’t.

Severus Snape’s true motives throughout ‘Harry Potter’


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Although fans came up with theories upon theories to explain Severus Snape’s behavior after Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, only a handful predicted his motives for playing the double agent. From his final interaction with Dumbledore, viewers could tell he might not actually be a villain. However, his romantic feelings for Lily Potter (Geraldine Somerville) were less easy to suss out.

To be fair, there was a subset of the fanbase who called those feelings before they were revealed. However, many felt that Harry Potter theory was simply too outlandish. Imagine their surprise when it actually came true.

All the Harry Potter movies are currently streaming on HBO Max.