The Harry Potter series has been delighting kids and adults alike since it was first released back in 1997. And while the first book, “Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone” — er, well, “Philosopher’s Stone” in author J.K. Rowling’s native Britain — is full of magical mysteries and surprises, it’s also chock full of hints that suggest the entire series was planned out right from the start.
By the time the series wraps up in the seventh book, “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows,” we get a full picture of all the most important magical plot points, and it’s only then that we can see how meticulously the books had been plotted out. Seemingly insignificant details from Harry’s first years at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry come into play in big ways in the endgame.
And so, come hop on the Hogwarts Express with us as we travel back to the magical world to point out the most impressive moments of foreshadowing from all seven Harry Potter books.
Introduced by name in the sixth book, Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, Horcruxes are the hideous magical objects into which Voldemort has placed pieces of his soul. Harry, Ron, and Hermione had to travel the magical world looking for Horcruxes if they were going to defeat the Dark Lord.
When Voldemort tried to kill baby Harry, his Avada Kedavra curse rebounded and hit him square in his snake-like face. Harry asks Dumbledore at the end of the first book, Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone, how Voldemort survived, and Dumbledore straight-up has no idea. But J.K. Rowling sure did.
Hagrid says it when he first tells Harry about You-Know-Who: “Dunno if he had enough human left in him to die.” This is such a massive Horcrux hint, as the creation of those objects is always described as so foul as to destroy the humanity of whoever creates one.
In Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, an almost throwaway scene, Harry, Hermione, and the Weaselys clean a room in Grimauld Place and find “a heavy locket that none of them could open.” And that turns out to be it — the dang locket Harry, Ron, and Hermione are going to spend so much time looking for in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows!
We first meet Sirius Black in Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban.
Harry’s godfather Sirius Black is introduced as a deranged Death Eater who’s broken free from the wizarding prison of Azkaban to kill Harry. But when he finally gets to our guy, Black reveals he’s actually nice and just wants to be Harry’s bud/ parental figure.
But we first hear of Sirius in the very first chapter of the series.
When Hagrid first brings a newly-orphaned baby Harry to Dumbledore in the first chapter of Sorcerer’s Stone, he rolls up in a flying motorbike. When Dumbledore asks him where he got it, he says “Young Sirius Black lent it to me.”
And maybe that’s true! It’s entirely possible that, while writing Sorcerer’s Stone, J.K. Rowling had Hagrid drop an interesting name as the benefactor of the motorcycle to make the wizarding world seem all mysterious. Could be!
The name “Sirius” also belongs to the constellation Canis Major, or the “dog star.” Sirius, as we later learn, is able to turn into a dog, which will play a major role both in his escape from Azkaban and relationship with Harry’s father James and Remus Lupin.
Are you gonna tell me J.K. Rowling needed a character to turn into a dog and just happened to have used a cool dog-name two books previous? Not a chance.
In Order, Harry needs a secret place to practice Defense Against the Dark Arts.
With Hogwarts under the thumb of the Ministry of Magic in Harry’s fifth year, he and his friends need a place that won’t be found to practice Defense Against the Dark Arts. They come to find the Room of Requirement — a magical room that magically fills itself with whatever its magical occupant needs.
The most interesting moments we spend with Dumbledore come when we find out he’s not all-knowing. For instance, in Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, he mentions waking up in the middle of the night and needing to pee. Then, he finds a room he’d never before seen in all his years at Hogwarts — a room full of chamber pots.
That was what Dumbledore needed at the time, so that’s what the Room of Requirement provided.
Think of the Hand of Glory, a gross old hand that actually has tremendous power. It’s introduced quickly in Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets when Harry goes into the creepy Dark Magic store Borgin and Burkes, with the shopkeep Borgin saying the Hand’s owner can pop in a candle and that it will “give light only to the holder,” going on to describe it as the “best friend of thieves and plunderers!”
Here we’re introduced to the concept of Vanishing Cabinets, which come in pairs. A wizard can step into one cabinet and step out the other, so they function as quick escape routes. We’re told in Chamber that the Vanishing Cabinet in Borgin and Burkes is broken.
But Draco Malfoy would use both the Hand of Glory and the Vanishing Cabinet in Half-Blood Prince.
A full four books later, Draco will not only repair the Vanishing Cabinet in Borgin and Burkes (whose Twin is in that darn Room of Requirement) to sneak a number of Death Eaters into Hogwarts, he’ll use the Hand of Glory to escape.
At the end of Sorcerer’s Stone, Harry, Ron, and Hermione go through a gauntlet of magical challenges to retrieve the Sorcerer’s Stone hidden deep within Hogwarts. One of those challenges is a chess game, and Ron, who had earlier in the story shown proficiency with Chess, leads the trio through the game.
This entire chess scene at the end of Stone was a big hunk of foreshadowing.
So many of the major moves of the series are hinted at here in this chess game, least of all are the two moves Harry makes — three squares to the right (his first three relatively carefree years at Hogwarts) and then four squares to the left (his much more intense final four years).
From Sorcerer’s Stone: “Their first real shock came when their other knight was taken. The white queen smashed him to the floor and dragged him off the board, where he lay quite still, facedown.” What role would be more appropriate for Sirius than the loyal fighter, the knight?
When Harry sees Bellatrix in the Pensieve in Goblet of Fire, she’s described as “sitting in the chained chair as though it were a throne.” And as Voldemort’s most powerful and devoted follower, she certainly fits the bill as a major player in the Dark Lord’s army.
In the ludicrously-poorly designed game of Quidditch, Harry plays the position of Seeker, soaring around the field on his broomstick, looking for the Golden Snitch (this is the only position that matters in all of Quidditch — catch the Snitch, you win. Go home, Beaters and Keepers).
You’re supposed to grab the Snitch to snag the 150 points and end the game (why is this even a team sport?), but Harry lets the Snitch fly into his mouth and gulps it down.
In Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Dumbledore leaves Harry that very first Snitch.
Harry knows Dumbledore had a reason to give him this particular bequeathment, but he has no idea what it could be. He tries to open it, but it’s a no-go. It’s not until Harry remembers that he swallowed the Snitch instead of catch it that he realizes what to do.
And that’s what activates the Snitch, with the instructions from Dumbledore as to when it will reveal it secrets are written on its surface: “I open at the close.”
When Harry marches off to the Forbidden Forest to meet his end at the hands of Lord Voldemort, the Snitch opens. Inside is the Resurrection Stone, which Harry uses to raise his dead loved ones — including Sirius, Lupin, and *keep it together, don’t let the tears fall* his mom and dad — to give him comfort.
You guessed it, that was foreshadowed too, as far back as Sorcerer’s Stone. When Harry serves his detention in his first year, he goes out into the Forbidden Forest and runs across Voldemort (who he doesn’t know then is Voldemort) sippin’ on that sweet tasty unicorn blood.
The half-human, half-horses known as centaurs roam the Forbidden Forest, and one known as Firenze throws Harry onto his horse-back and gives him a ride on out of there. They meet another centaur, Bane, who believes giving humans a ride is trashy.
The centaurs, you see, can read the future by looking at the stars, and Bane says that, by saving Harry, he has interfered in those events. Later, Harry will say of the encounter “Bane thinks Firenze should have let Voldemort kill me… I suppose that’s written in the stars as well.”
Sure is, bud! It’s just not going to happen until the end of the seventh book.
Harry and Ron’s divination teacher, Professor Trelawney, is flighty, out-of-it, and that sort of faux-mystical that makes you feel like an actual Seer wouldn’t have to try so hard.
Since she first meets Harry, Professor Trelawny predicts he will meet an early death. And as we know, Harry absolutely does meet an early end… it’s just not his end. You get it.
In Prisoner of Azkaban, Harry and Ron have Christmas dinner with Dumbledore and a number of other teachers — nine others, to be precise. That makes 12 people sitting at the table.
When Trelawny enters, Dumbledore stands up to greet her and invites her to join. She says “I dare not, Headmaster! If I join the table, we shall be thirteen! Nothing could be more unlucky! Never forget that when thirteen dine together, the first to rise will be the first to die!”
Since we learn later that that rat isn’t a rat but is instead Peter Pettigrew in disguise, there are already 13 people sitting at that table. When Dumbledore stands up to greet Trelawny, he is marked as the next one of the group to die. And he is!
In Order of the Phoenix, 13 characters have a meal at Grimmauld Place, and Sirius is both the first to rise and the first to die. Later, in Deathly Hallows, 13 sit together to mourn Mad-Eye Moody, and Lupin is both the first to rise and the first of the group to die.