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Harry Potter fan theories that change everything

As detailed and well thought out as J.K. Rowling's Harry Potter series was, the magical wanderings of the Boy Wizard have still left plenty of room for interpretation, despite some serious effort on the author's part to complete the story. Her digital addendum to the series, Pottermore, has helped to clear up certain lingering questions about what went down before, during, and after Harry's tenure at Hogwarts. Meanwhile, she's also gifted fans with the book-ending stories contained in the Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them films and her play, Harry Potter and the Cursed Child.

Even so, fans have spent countless hours mulling over the books and film franchise and have devised some pretty spellbinding theories about the world of witchcraft and wizardry, some of which have even impressed the author herself. Let's take a look at some of the most game-changing Harry Potter postulates of them all. Whether you're a hardcore fan or just diving into the saga, these fan theories change everything.

There was a Muggle vs. Wizard war, and the Muggles won
It's perhaps one of the largest unanswered questions of the series: why do wizards have to hide their powers from Muggles, and if they are so powerful, why aren't they in charge of the world? If history has taught us anything, it's that usually those with superior firepower and knowledge win in any matchup. However, one Redditor had a different idea, and it gives an interesting alternate explanation — Wizards and Muggles fought a war sometime in the Middle Ages, and the Muggles won. At the end of Goblet of Fire, it is revealed that the Ministry of Magic has to talk to the British Prime Minister about bringing a dragon into the country. This implies that the Minister of Magic reports to the British Prime Minister and may require his approval for matters of this nature. Additionally, wizards of today appear to be much less powerful when compared to ancient wizards like Merlin, the Peverells, and the founders of Hogwarts. Perhaps the Muggles were more successful with their trials and inquisitions than we were originally led to believe.

J.K. Rowling was really writing about … herself?

There were a lot of colorful characters to come and go in the Harry Potter series, but none felt quite as familiar as Rita Skeeter, the intrepid journalist who would stop at nothing to get her scoop for the Daily Prophet. While her ethics were often questionable, as she was known to fudge on a few details to spice up her columns from time to time, there was something about her prose that made many fans wonder whether J.K. Rowling may have designed the character to be reminiscent of herself. After all, Rowling is also a writer who also made a detailed accounting of the non-muggle world that feels very, very real to some readers.

At least one theorist has taken it a step further and suggested that Rowling actually is Rita Skeeter in real life, spilling all of these well-documented details about the wizarding world to us no-maj types as a means of getting revenge against those who shunned her from the other side. Skeeter was an unregistered animagus (that is, able to shapeshift into animals at will), so she could probably disguise herself as another human. Plus, there was that time she was captured by Hermione in her animagus beetle form and blackmailed into altering her reporting style in return for the witch's silence about her animagus status. Since Rowling has no problem using secret pseudonyms, maybe she labeled her stories as fiction, as they so often deserved to be, as a way of getting them out.

Horcruxes are made via cannibalism

One process that never fully gets explained in the Harry Potter series is how horcruxes are made. Lord Voldemort was able to make himself a bounty of these little life preservers at some point in his younger years, but he seemed to be the only one who ever had any backup souls to spare and seemed to be unable or unwilling to create any more once our heroes started destroying them, so it must've been difficult.

J.K. Rowling herself has been vague about how they're made, though she did once say that attempts would probably be deadly for most wizards because it's as complicated as splitting an atom. Based on certain peoples' reactions, we have to infer it was also a pretty gross process, which has one Redditor to surmise that cannibalism may be involved somehow. The idea is that both cannibalism and the creation of horcruxes involve stealing a life force for the absorption of another, so perhaps Voldemort simply stole people's essences to break off a piece of himself for later in their place. The theory seems to have gained some serious traction in Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald, as it was revealed that prior to becoming Voldemort's pet and tag-along horcrux, Nagini was actually a shape-shifting maledictus who had a female human form before we met her in the original series. Voldemort may have killed off the piece of Nagini that was human and swapped in a piece of his own soul instead.

Harry is now immortal

When Professor Trelawney made her prophecy about the fate of Voldemort and Harry Potter, she said, "Either must die at the hand of the other, for neither can live while the other survives." Most fans focused on the second part of the prophecy, understanding it to mean that one of them must eventually kill the other. But the first part of the prophecy brings up an interesting question. If both Harry and Voldemort must die at each other's hands, and Voldemort is now dead, does that mean that Harry is now doomed to an unwanted life of immortality? What about that whole scene where Harry "dies" and then comes back to life? When Voldemort used his killing curse, he actually killed his own Horcrux, the unintentional fragment of his soul that was within Harry's mind — not Harry himself. It's an interesting idea, for sure. Immortality would add another burden to Harry's already heavy load, and he would never be able to be reunited with his dead loved ones. It also adds a second, loaded dimension to his nickname, "the boy who lived."