I can already sense that I might be deemed a heretic in the Harry Potter fan community for even writing that title. I feel like I should preface this by saying that I remember being nine years old, sitting in the theater to watch Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone and being legitimately upset that things were missing. How could they do this to me? How could they butcher Harry Potter like this? My anger bubbled over into rage, only to recently begin to quell.
But in retrospect, my thoughts were merely immature, irrational, and misguided. Now that I'm older and maybe even a little bit wiser, I can recognize that there are some moments from the books that I am glad were kept out of the movies. I know. Pretty shocking stuff here.
This doesn't mean that there aren't integral parts of the story missing from the films because there definitely are (e.g. the history of the Marauders, St. Mungo’s, Merope Gaunt, the Sphinx). I mean, they really did cut a lot of important stuff.
Part of me does wish that every word of every line could have been properly adapted from page to screen. But to keep talking about what's missing and why it's wrong that it was left out is just beating a dead horse. Instead, let's discuss five of the missing pieces that were better left out:
1. Professor Binns
This is a pretty easy one. Professor Binns literally died while teaching History of Magic and didn't even realize it. This was pretty fun to read in the books because it just goes to show, magic or not, school is school. Hearing about Professor Binns droning on for hours about the Goblin Rebellions and Giant Wars made me feel slightly less jealous of the Hogwarts students, and was therefore very important to 10-year-old me.
Due to the time constraints, the Harry Potter movies didn't have the luxury to include characters like Binns. While he was a tad significant in the books, even if only to show that the school wasn't all fun and games, it just wasn't that important. Besides, did we really need to see a ghost professor lecturing to a half-asleep classroom? Probably not.
2. Nearly Headless Nick's Deathday Party
In Chamber of Secrets Harry and the gang were invited to Sir Nicholas de Mimsy Porpington's 500th Deathday Party. I remember reading this and thinking this was one of the first times it became equal parts dark and magical. The whole chapter was basically spent describing the foul smell of the rotting food and the melancholy tones coming from the spectral orchestra.
While it would have been awesome to see John Cleese go head-to-head (hah) with the Headless Hunt over his denied membership, the scene itself doesn't really go on to further the story and was best omitted.
Ahh yes, the Society for the Promotion of Elfish Welfare. If you read the books then you'll know that Hermione founded S.P.E.W. after coming to realize the injustices faced by House Elves every day. While Hermione's adamant campaigning that began in Goblet of Fire definitely built upon her character, it was one of the few kind of boring parts. There, I said it.
This really wouldn't have brought anything to the table movie-wise. Her image as the smartest witch of her age was already well-founded and didn't really need to be defined further. Although I will admit that I would have like to have seen more of the House Elves in the movies. Neville didn't give Harry that Gillyweed and we all know it!
4. Percy Weasley Sucking
For much of the series, Percy Weasley just sucked. The movies do show some of that. But Percy's awful tendencies went far beyond being a stickler for the rules and a harsh Prefect. There was virtually no mention of the fact that he chose his career over his family. When the rest of the Weasley clan joined the Order against the Ministry, Percy cut ties with his family. Not only did this cause a rift in the otherwise close Weasley home, but it broke poor Molly's heart.
I'm glad this wasn't in the movie for two reasons. The first being that it doesn't add much to the overall plot. Throwing this at viewers, especially if they hadn't read the books and knew very little of Percy would only further complicate things. The second being that I don't think I'm emotionally stable enough to see Molly in that amount of pain.
5. "Weasley is Our King"
Oof. I can already feel the backlash on this one. In Order of the Phoenix this song was used by Slytherins to taunt poor Ron. But by the time Half-Blood Prince rolled around, it became his battle cry. Book 6 truly was the year of the Weasley. It was a triumphant year for him as he started coming into his own and stepping out of Harry's shadow.
But would this have really contributed to anything in the movie that was worth using the precious limited time on? I'm not sure. The point still got across just fine, even without the catchy song.
I think that these facts were better left unsaid not because they weren't interesting, but because the pacing of Harry Potter requires slight lulls and intricate details to help build the universe. It can't all be stellar action scenes. We have to remember that the main setting here is a school, after all.
If circumstances were different, and Harry Potter was turned into a HBO-style TV series instead of movies, then they would have time to include a lot more information. But that's just not the way the cauldron cake crumbles!