I'm doing a little research project on Harry Potter questions on SFF SE.

I would like a list of Harry Potter books, SFF.SE questions and chat comments involving time traveling robots.

I am looking to compile a list of several (10-50) of the most interesting/favorite Harry Potter tag questions that do not have a good canon answer.

In other words, where either:

  • there's no answer at all,

  • or the best available answer is "Probably this, but it's a guess and only JKR knows for sure",

  • or the best available answer is "this sounds 100% like a real plot hole, but here's a feeble and obviously inadequate attempt to retcon it using in-universe canon".

Please post ONE HP question link per answer, and if that question already has answers, try to explain why you feel the answer is canonically inadequate.

Also, if there's a Harry Potter question burning in your brain but you didn't ask yet (didn't get to it, or you are 100% sure it's a stupid "plot hole" question with no canon answer), please post it on the main site and link here as well.

A secret circle army set cabal of Harry Potter self-appointed "experts" will pick some of the proposed questions for in-depth research, helped in choosing by how much each of the suggestions is voted on in the answers to this meta question (so, in the words of Al Capone, "Vote Early and Vote Often!")

  • Stack Exchange sometimes organizes contests with a small prize — nothing big, we've had $50 per week for a few weeks, or perhaps the next JKR book shipped from Amazon would be quite topical. Would you like to organize a contest around these answers? Say, a week during which the highest-voted HP answers win? Note that I haven't discussed the principle with SE staff, they might say no.
    – user56
    Aug 18, 2012 at 23:13
  • Okayso, my post here got @NominSim to post an answer that effectively answered my question. So what should I do with my post here - delete it, leave it, something else?
    – Izkata
    Aug 22, 2012 at 12:43
  • Why do you need such a list? What kind of research are you conducting?
    – chharvey
    Sep 7, 2012 at 2:26
  • @TestSubject528491 - High level goal is to try to find canon answers where we don't have them now. Sep 7, 2012 at 2:32

13 Answers 13


Why Did Quirrel Stutter?

I believe my answer is correct, and the chosen answer is supposition. No offense to Silver Fox who is, of course, free to pick whichever answer is better to him/her.

I'm just sayin', though. ;)

  • Sorry, -1. Not so much because I disagree with what you said but because in the large scheme of things the topic being discussed is such an insignificant little detail. Wasting resources on this one compared to other questions is bad project management. Aug 22, 2012 at 15:02
  • (and as a side note, Slytherincess is part of this research project so the above comment should be read as being in the spirit of good natured ribbing and not a rude put-down :) Aug 22, 2012 at 15:11
  • Now I demand confetti, bucko! ;) Aug 22, 2012 at 19:28
  • fine, you win. Confetti incoming. Aug 23, 2012 at 15:12

Did the creators of the Marauder's Map rediscover lost magic?

I touched on it on my comment to the answer, but:

  • No reference for: Most magic that isn't instantaneous is permanent.
  • Speculation with (again) no reference: It's just speculation, but I would assume the map simply relays the information, which is gathered by a spell cast over the castle & grounds itself (James & crew could have done this intentionally, so that their spell would be refreshed whenever the Unplotting spell was).
  • It didn't even address the part of the question that caused me to ask it in the first place: I have a vague memory of either Ron or Hermione commenting on it being unusual that Harry's Invisibility Cloak has worked so well for so long, that the magic normally fizzles out after a few years, once the heard the story about the Deathly Hallows. What I don't remember was how specific it was to that type of magic.
  • Something that appears contradictory to me, but only because (AFAIK) there isn't a canon reason for the difference: an invisibility cloak that is struck by a curse can be damaged, and the damaged area no longer provides invisibility. and yet, The Marauder's Map, however, does get damaged. It is showing wear and tear, and looks very raggedy. - but it still seems to be working at full strength, since Lupin didn't give any indication it was broken.
  • 1
    This is very good submission. Aug 19, 2012 at 5:35
  • On the last point, Lupin makes of point of saying that the lap never lies, even after all those years.
    – Xantec
    Aug 19, 2012 at 10:23
  • On the last point, I see it as the map being akin to a Google Maps on a tablet. The magic relating to showing the info (Google Maps) doesn't decay; however a totally unrelated magic (LCD of the tablet or the tablet exterior) can get banged up, dead LCD pixels etc... Whereas, for invisibility cloak, the main functionality is tied up with the actual physical fabric therefore you can't separate the decay of material from decay of the functionality. Aug 19, 2012 at 10:52
  • 1
    I can't think of any instance where Ron or Hermione comment that they're surprised that Harry's cloak hasn't "fizzled out." In fact, following Xenophilius Lovegood's telling of the Tale of the Three Brothers, they come away convinced that Harry's cloak is especially impervious to destruction (which it is, but it is not indestructible). Aug 19, 2012 at 19:23
  • @Slytherincess, I distinctly remember Ron speculating to Harry that his cloak was special and mentioning that most cloaks wear out after a year or two in the first book and was surprised over that fact.
    – ardent
    Aug 21, 2012 at 0:01
  • @ardentsonata Can you remember anything else? It's not at the point when Harry opens that present, and I didn't notice it with a quick skim through the rest of the book..
    – Izkata
    Aug 21, 2012 at 0:39
  • @ardentsonata -- Quote it for me. I certainly get these things wrong sometimes. Tales of Beedle the Bard explains Invisibility Cloaks and there's nothing there that suggests the cloaks wear out after one to two years. :) Aug 21, 2012 at 5:17
  • 1
    I've given an attempt at providing some canonical examples of magical items in order to explain why the map is likely going to last quite some time here
    – NominSim
    Aug 21, 2012 at 20:09
  • 1
    @Slytherincess, "It's never occurred to me before, but I've heard stuff about charms wearing off cloaks when they get old, or them being ripped apart by spells so they've got holes in. Harry's was owned by his dad, so it's not exactly new, is it, but it's just... perfect!" - Ron, The Deathly Hallows. So apparently it was in book 7 and not book 1.
    – ardent
    Aug 23, 2012 at 20:28
  • @ardentsonata - My question was about your claim that you read in the books that Invisibililty Cloaks wear out after "a year or two." Where does it say that in the books? TBTB says about Invisibility Cloaks: *[Invisibility Cloaks are not, generally, infallible. They may rip or grow opaque with age, of the charms placed upon them may wear off, or be countered by charms of revealment. This is why [most] usually turn, in the first instance, to Disillusionment Charms [JKR] So I'm asking you for the source that says Invisibility Cloaks wear out after one to two years. Where did you read that? :) Aug 23, 2012 at 21:27
  • @Slytherincess It could be mistaken from Xenophilius's "fade with the years" comment. I mean, I thought his line was said by Ron or Hermione for a while!
    – Izkata
    Aug 23, 2012 at 21:39
  • @Slytherincess Now that I think about it more, did either Moody or fake-Moody ever comment on the cloak? 'Cause I think at some point in the main books, one of the ways to create invisibility cloaks was once mentioned...
    – Izkata
    Sep 15, 2012 at 5:01

What would happen if Voldemort was pushed through the Veil in the Department of Mysteries before destruction of the horcruxes?

It has got no canonical answer because of inadequate info available around the topic in question.

  • I was going to nominate that one too. +1 Aug 20, 2012 at 4:41

Is the Hogwarts express visible to muggles when it travels across Britain?

Can non-magical persons see the Hogwarts Express during its journey to and from Hogwarts?

  • I think probably not. Pottermore has a section on the Hogwarts Express, and it's almost like Muggles sense that something is there when they're near the Hogwarts Express, but they can't quite make out what it is. I may be totally off base, but I kind of took this from the Pottermore bit: flickr.com/photos/slytherincess/7135044429/in/… :) Aug 23, 2012 at 3:57

What is the "Magic Blood"?

Here's a pretty weird question of mine. It got like 3 votes to close and nearly equal up/down votes in the first few hours because there are apparently no clues anywhere to answer it.

I was curious about this because the primary antagonist is essentially driven by his quest for magic-blood purity/supremacy, yet any means of actually defining who qualifies as having this "magical blood" is obscure. My assumption was that there must be something more to this, otherwise it dilutes his character.

  • 1
    Oh! Oh! That one! I love it! I absolutely HATED that question - well, i loved the question but hated my inability to find ANY good answer. Perfect. Aug 22, 2012 at 14:58
  • I was actually going to say "here's a hated question of mine", but toned it down to "pretty weird". Aug 22, 2012 at 15:09
  • ...personally, I still like this question. I feel it is an important dimension to be fleshed out. Aug 23, 2012 at 14:23

I'm lumping these two together because they're so closely related: Where Did Voldemort Find Nagini and What Kind of Snake is Nagini?

Simply, there is no canon information that answers these questions, leaving speculative answers as the only default.


What would happen if all escape paths of Dementors are blocked by Patronus Charm?

The answer to it says that its speculative. Nobody knows that Patronus Charm has negative effect on Dementors or not.

  • Why -1? I would also like to know canon answer for that. CAN a dementor break through a Patronus? E.g. do they escape merely because it's unpleasant? Aug 22, 2012 at 14:59
  • I'm guessing people just don't like "what if" questions. For every un-explored avenue there is a potential what-if question. Of course, the real question here is, as you said: "What does the patronus charm actually do to dementors?". Right now the question sets up an extraneous circumstance that is unlikely to occur. Of course I did not neg it. Aug 23, 2012 at 14:28

How Was the Sword of Gryffindor Placed in the Pond in Deathly Hallows?

I don't think the answers given are inadequate per se, it's just that the question can't be sufficiently answered through canon. The exact answer remains unclear as to whether or not Snape was there, near Harry, or if the Patronus could physically carry the sword into the pond (or if Snape placed it in the pond and the Patronus merely showed where it was located.).

  • +1 - I am very curious to know if Patronus (corporeal :) can fetch newspapers so to speak Aug 22, 2012 at 15:05
  • This makes me think; the Sword needs to be picked-up by a worthy person (presumably in need); but how does Snape just pick it up and take it to the lake?
    – Möoz
    May 13, 2014 at 6:11

Where were Hagrid and Harry before Harry was left with the Dursleys?

To my knowledge there is no canon information covering this (although I've not read any of the interviews), and the speculative answers counter known canon details.


Can the Unforgivable Curses be Done Non-Verbally?

I have answered with a very strong possibility but it is not 100% iron-tight - it is heavily based on JKR's written precision (e.g. she always writes when someone vebalizes the A.K. or other Unforgivable and did not do so here).


A bunch of questions about relationship between spell effects, spell incantations, and intentions (e.g. , we have spells cast without knowing what they do like Sectusempura, we have spells cast non-verbally without knowing the incantation, yet we also have Wingardium Leviosa not working unless you pronounce correctly).

What Wording Did Witches and Wizards in Other Cultures Use for Spells?

Can wizards create their own spells?

What is the link between the spoken incantation and the casting of a spell in Harry Potter?


In the Horcrux Cave, was the Aguamenti spell too fundamentally weak to work?

Currently has no canon answer (as far as DVK seems to know, see his comment)

  • I have actually produce a kind of an answer but I'm not quite happy with it... Sep 1, 2012 at 14:16

Can characters be brought back in the Potter-verse via time manipulation?

It has got no canonical answer because of inadequate info available around the topic in question.

  • 2
    here is link to a good article on time travel in Potterverse: sugarquill.net/index.php?action=gringotts&st=timetravel . I thought it was interesting. I think one of the major overall plots of the Harry Potter series is the inevitability of death and the acceptance of death as part of the circle of life. The Resurrection Stone only gives false hope, and when someone dies in HP, they are gone forever. I don't believe JKR would embrace a storyline where people mysteriously rose from the dead. True death lends more credence to the story arc to begin with. :) Aug 23, 2012 at 3:15
  • In particular, we never see someone change any previous facts with a Time-Turner; JKR carefully avoids paradox / multiple timeline questions. So you could only avoid a death if they weren't definitely dead to start with (as with Buckbeak). (Time-Turners are apparently heavily protected by causality-preserving enchantments - an obvious precaution to avoid accidentally destroying the universe.)
    – Tynam
    Aug 24, 2012 at 15:19

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