This article is chock full of MAJOR Fantastic Beasts spoilers. (Also, you know, Harry Potter spoilers.) Proceed at your own risk…
Though Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them is that rare Hollywood sequel, prequel, or reboot that doesn’t spend its entire runtime referencing things that happened in its source material, there are still tons of fun Harry Potter references, Easter eggs, and throwbacks hidden within its frames — some more obvious than others.
We’ve tried our very best to get all of them in once place, but if I missed anything, let me know down in the comments or on Twitter, and I’ll keep this updated!
Some Obvious Harry Potter References and Throwbacks
– Yep, that was “Hedwig’s Theme” you heard at the beginning of Fantastic Beasts.The song quickly breaks off into a darker variation only a few bars in, we’d recognize that distinctive melody anywhere.
– Did you catch the not-so-subtle Quidditch inside joke Newt makes? When Mary Lou asks Newt: “Are you a seeker?” He responds: “I’m more of a chaser, really.” Both seeker and chaser are positons in Quidditch.
– The MACUSA’s giant clock-like monitor of the current level of danger the American wizarding world is under has some things in common with the Weasley clock that hangs in the Burrow. The clock lets its viewer know where all of the Weasley family members are at any given time, as well as if any of them are in “mortal peril.”
– Tina Goldstein is a former Auror, which is the wizarding equivalent of an FBI detective. This is also Harry Potter’s adult profession.
– There’s a lot of subtle Hufflepuff pride in this movie. Even though Newt was expelled from Hogwarts, he still packs his Hufflepuff scarf with him on his round-the-world journey. We see the scarf when a customs officer opens up Newt’s case as he’s coming into New York City.
– During the gathering of international wizards at the MACUSA, we briefly see the Minister of Magic Hector Fawley, who served the British office from 1925 to 1939. Things are going to get worse for Fawley before they get better. He will be forced from office in 1939 after not taking the Grindelwald threat seriously enough.
– We learn that Newt was expelled from Hogwarts in a very similar manner to the way Hagrid was expelled: as a result of a magical creature harming another student. In the case of Hagrid, Aragog the spider was not actually at fault for the student death; it was actually the basilisk from the Chamber of Secrets. In Newt’s case, it is unclear what was at fault. In both cases, Dumbledore argued on behalf of the student, but was overruled. The big change in Hagrid and Newt’s situations is that Newt is seemingly allowed to keep a wand, while Hagrid had to keep his hidden within a pink umbrella.
– It’s hard to miss the Deathly Hallows necklace Graves gives Credence in the movie. The Deathly Hallows symbolize the Elder Wand, Invisibility Cloak, and Resurrection Stone that both Grindelwald and Voldemort search for in their quest to garner absolute power. In retrospect, this is a pretty telling sign that Graves is up to no good, though, it should be noted, Xenophilius Lovegood wears the symbol of the Deathly Hallows as a way to identity him to other seekers. Not because he craves power, but because he is interested in proving their existence. The symbol of the Deathly Hallows is not inherently evil.
– Graves wrongly believes Credence to be a Squib, a non-magical person who is born into a magical family. Squibs we meet in the Harry Potter series include Hogwarts cat-loving caretaker Argus Filch and Harry’s cat-loving neighbor and Arabella Figg. Yeah, I’m leaning hard on that cat connection.
– The walls of the magical speakeasy are covered with “wanted” posters reminiscent of the ones we se ein Prisoner of Azkaban featuring Sirius Black.
Spells, Curses, Potions, and Charms
– Newt uses Petrificus Totalus on the bank employee who comes upon him breaking into the fault. Petrificus Totalus got a lot of play in the Harry Potter books, especially in the first one, which sees The Golden Trio use it on Neville when he tries to stop them from sneaking out after curfew.
– The paper mice that carry office memos around the MACUSA seem to be the American equivalent of the paper planes that do the same in the Ministry of Magic.
– Queenie is a Legilimens, someone who is able to extract the thoughts and feelings of others. Other wizards who possess this magical ability to some degree include Snape, Voldemort, Dumbledore, and Bellatrix Lestrange.
– Dragonpox, the disease that killed Tina and Queenie’s parents, has been mentioned before in the Harry Potter books, though never featured. Elphias Doge and Abraxas Malfoy are known sufferers of dragonpox, and the Moldovan National Quidditch team suffered an outbreak at the 2014 Quidditch World Cup, leaving them unable to participate.
– When the Obscurus sweeps past Tina, all of the street lights go out in succession. The scene is vaguely reminiscent of Dumbledore’s arrival on Privet Drive in the first chapter of Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone, though subverted to be a scene of terror versus one of wonder. Dumbledore uses his Deluminator to temporarily steal the lights from the streetlamps, while the obscurus has no control over the plunging of the street into darkness.
– The Obscurus in general has never been seen in the Harry Potter verse before and seems to be a magical creation original to the Fantastic Beastsfilm. However, it does have some things in common with the Daemon/Dust concept from Phillip Pullman’s children’s series His Dark Materials. Visually, the obscurus-with-Credence’s-face has some things in common with the Horcrux necklace-destroying scene from the end of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 1.
– As Angel pointed out in the comments below (and via a Cinema Blend article), there is an argument to be made that Dumbledore’s sister Ariana was an Obscurial. We know that her magic became unstable after she was tortured by Muggles when she was only six. She later accidentally killed her mother as a teenager. Was it actually her Obscurus who caused all of this trouble. Is this why Grindelwald was fond of her when he met her as a teenager in Godric’s Hollow? And is this how Grindelwald first learned about Obscurials?
– We get a “Merlin’s beard!” out of Newt. The excalmation is a popular one in the Harry Potter universe. We hear Amos Diggory use it when he first meets Harry Potter and hear Horace Slughorn use it when Dumbledore pokes through his armchair disguise.
– Presumably, Grindelwald is using Polyjuice Potion or another spell to impersonate Percival Graves, who presumably is a real person. (Otherwise, how would Grindelwald have been able to rise to power so quickly, given that he was just in Europe?) This is not thoroughly explained in the film, but it could be reminiscent of Barty Crouch, Jr.’s assumption of Mad Eye Moody’s identity in Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire.
– The bigger-on-the-inside magic of Newt’s case has lots of precedent in the Harry Potter universe. We see it applied to such things as Hermione’s bag in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, as well as the trunk where Barty Crouch, Jr. keeps the real Mad Eye Moody imprisoned during Goblet of Fire. Given the tent flap aesthetic of the case’s many spaces, the magic seems most similar, however, to the magical tent the Weasley family use when they go to the Qudditch World Cup.
– The execution chamber within the MACUSA has some sort of Pensieve-like qualities. We see the MACUSA employees extract Tina’s memories in the same way that we see Dumbledore extract his memories to put into his Pensieve in the Harry Potter books. The liquid itself seems vaguely reminiscent of The Cave’s lake that Harry and Dumbledore must traverse in Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, but it’s unclear if the MACUSA execution chamber has some kind of Inferi connection or not.
– Queenie tries to use Alohomora, the door-opening spell often featured in Harry Potter, to get into Graves’ office.
Fantastic beasts (and where to find them in Harry Potter canon)
– Let’s be honest: the Niffler kind of steals the show. The treasure-seeking creature is a recurring gag in the Fantastic Beasts film as he continues to humorously show up as Newt & co. try to track down the much more dangerous creatures unleashed in New York. Nifflers are mentioned by Ron Weasley in the Harry Potter series. He really wants one, guys. And who could blame him? They’re apparently really good at collecting loot.
– The creature we see Newt performing a mating dance for in Central Park is an Erumpent. Erumpents come up in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallowsas the Lovegoods have an erumpent horn in their house (though Xenophilius believes it to be the horn of a Crumple-Horned Snorkack). The Golden Trio use it to escape the Lovegood home when they are ambushed there by Ministry forces.
– We see a few of the last Graphorns in existence (at the time) in Newt’s case. Though the Graphorn is never mentioned in the Harry Potter series proper, they do come up both in the Fantastic Beastsbook and in Harry Potter and the Cursed Childwhen it’s mentioned that mountain trolls are believed to be riding Graphorns through Hungary. Graphorns are also mentioned in the Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkabanvideo game.
– Newt’s Thunderbird Frank ends up being one of the heroes of Fantastic Beasts when he uses his storm-creating powers to spread the Swooping Evil’s venom and make the No-Maj population of NYC forget. (Yeah, I was kind of confused at this part, too.) The many-winged, Hippogriff-like creature is native to America and closely related to a Phoenix. Ilvermorny School was named after the Thunderbird.
– A Billywig is a bright blue, winged insect native to Australia. It is first mentioned in the Fantastic Beastsbook, but later comes up in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallowswhen Xenophilius Lovegood uses Billywig wings for his recreation of Rowena Ravenclaw’s diadem.
– Newt mentions that he worked with Ukranian Ironbelly on the Eastern Front during the war. This particular brand of dragon is the same one that guarded the Lestrange vault witin Gringotts in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows.The Golden Trio broke the dragon free and used it to escape Gringotts in the book. This fits in with what we know about Newt’s history working with the Dragon Research and Restraint Bureau.
– The Swooping Evil bird Newt often unleashes in the Fantastic Beasts film (and whose venom is used to erase the memories of No-Maj New York) is an original creation of the film.
– An Occamy is the snake-like creature that changes sizes based on its space. Before making an appearance in the Fantastic Beastsfilm, it is mentioned in the Fantastic Beasts book and in Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire. Occamy eggs are part of Gilderoy Lockhart’s intended recipe for his line of hair products.
– A Demiguise is a precognitive creature that can also make itself invisible, which means they are very hard to catch. Demiguise are featured in the Fantastic Beasts book, in the Prisoner of Azkabanvideo game, and are mentioned in both Deathly Hallows and The Cursed Child.
– Newt’s best creature friend Picket is a Bowtruckle. Bowtruckles feature prominently in the Harry Potter video games and are mentioned in several of the books, including Fantastic Beasts. In Deathly Hallows Part 1movie, Hagrid has the line: “I brought you here sixteen years ago when you were no bigger than a bowtruckle.” Eddie Redmayne has called Picket his favorite beast from the film.
– A Nundu is a leopard-like, toxic-breathed mammal that is extremely hard to subdue. Nundu were first featured in the Fantastic Beastsbook, but were also mentioned in the Deathly Hallows Part 1video game.
Who is Grindelwald?
Grindelwald gets a lot of play in Fantastic Beasts,first as a faceless fascist slowly creeping his way across Europe and, later, in the film’s big reveal when Percival Graves is revealed to be Gellert Grindelwald in disguise. Though Grindelwald is captured by the MACUSA at the end of the film, we know he won’t stay bound. He has to continue to strike terror across Europe and eventually lose to Dumbledore in an epic battle in 1945.
We know Grindelwald mostly from backstory in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, which reveals the wizard to have been a former friend (and potential lover?) to Albus Dumbledore. The two met in Godric’s Hollow when they were both teenagers. They imagined a world where wizards had control over Muggles in a “benevolent” world order. That all changed when Dumbledore’s sister died from a rogue curse during a fight between Albus Dumbledore, Aberforth Dumbledore, and Grindelwald.
Presumably, the rest of the Fantastic Beastsseries will follow Grindelwald’s rise to power and eventual defeat.
Harry Potter characters & wizarding families
– Dumbledore gets a mention when Graves is questioning Newt Scamander in the MACUSA. The best part about this scene is when you realize that it is actually Grindelwald who is questioning Newt and that Gellert just can’t help but mention his former friend (and, again, potential former lover). This scene is doubly interesting when you realize that Newt said to Grindelwald’s face: “I’m not one of Grindelwald’s fanatics.” The ordered execution is making more and more sense.
– The Lestrange family gets a mention in the form of Leta Lestrange, who was Newt’s (apparently kind of terrible) friend at Hogwarts. The Lestrange family plays a major role in the Harry Potter franchise in the form of Bellatrix Lestrange, one of Voldemort’s most trusted minions and the person who murdered Sirius Black.
– Tina and Queenie are related to Anthony Goldstein, a Ravenclaw at Hogwarts at the same time as Harry Potter. Anthony is a member of Dumbledore’s Army and fights alongside Harry in the Battle of Hogwarts.
– Newt Scamander’s grandson Rolf will go on to marry Luna Lovegood, Harry’s friend and ally in the book series. This means that Newt Scamander is Luna Lovegood’s grandfather-in-law.