7 Characters That Didn’t Make It Into the Harry Potter Books

Warner Bros.
Warner Bros.

The books, movies, and play exploring the Harry Potter universe aren’t enough to satisfy some fans. Readers are ravenous for extra content, and J.K. Rowling has never been stingy about sharing it. Since publishing the series, she’s made several post-Potter revelations detailing tidbits that never made it into the official books. She’s also discussed a handful of early characters that were written out of the stories before they went to print. Here are the characters Rowling couldn’t find room for in the wizarding world.

1. MAFALDA

Hermione spends much of the Goblet of Fire coaching Harry through the Triwizard Tournament, flirting with Viktor Krum, and founding S.P.E.W. (the Society for the Promotion of Elfish Welfare). But in early drafts, she also spent time butting heads with Ron’s cousin. Mafalda was the daughter of Arthur Weasley’s second cousin, who’s briefly mentioned in the Sorcerer's Stone. In the fourth book, she was originally meant to stay with the Weasley clan for part of the summer and accompany them to the Quidditch World Cup. It soon became clear why her parents pawned her off on their relatives: Mafalda was a huge brat. "She turns out to be the most unpleasant child Mrs. Weasley has ever met," the author wrote at jkrowling.com.

She was also a Slytherin—a break in tradition for the Weasley name. But her house made her a useful resource to Harry, Ron, and Hermione. The 11-year-old was to be an excellent eavesdropper, and any valuable information she overheard from the children of Death Eaters she conveyed to her cousin and his friends in an attempt to impress them. Had she made it into the books, Mafalda may have become one of Hermione’s greatest rivals at Hogwarts. "The best thing about Mafalda was that she was a match for Hermione," Rowling wrote. "To the latter's horror, Mafalda was highly gifted and a real show-off, so that Hermione was torn between deploring the rule-breaking and longing to join in and beat her."

Even though J.K. Rowling was fond of the character, Mafalda didn’t make it into the finished story. Having a first-year student, albeit a clever one, gather the intel necessary to move the plot forward proved too difficult to write. Rowling ended up creating the gossip journalist Rita Skeeter to fill the role instead.

2. MOPSY THE DOG LOVER

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The Potterverse is full of animal lovers, including fantastic beast-collector Hagrid and crazy cat lady Mrs. Figg. Another pet enthusiast was nearly added to the mix in Goblet of Fire. According to Rowling, the character, named Mopsy, was “a highly eccentric, dog-loving old witch” who “kept a pack of ill-assorted dogs [and] was on constant bad terms with her neighbors because of the barking and the mess.” When Mopsy saw Sirius in disguise as Padfoot, she took him for a stray and brought him into her flea-ridden home outside Hogsmeade.

Sadly, readers were never introduced to Mopsy. The book’s editor asked for the character to be cut because she didn’t add much to the plot—and Rowling had to agree. Instead, she gave Sirius an isolated cave to stay where Harry, Ron, and Hermione could discuss Barty Crouch Jr. without fear of being overheard.

3. PYRITES

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In one early draft of the series’s opening chapter, Rowling gave Voldemort a servant named Pyrites, which means “fool’s gold.” His job was to meet Sirius Black outside the Potters’ house at the time of their murder. As Rowling wrote on her website, “he was a dandy and wore white silk gloves, which I thought I might stain artistically with blood from time to time.” The character was a victim of the editing process, along many other early attempts at the first chapter.

4. MOPSUS

Another character included in early drafts of the Sorcerer's Stone was Mopsus, a blind wizard who was skilled at predicting the future, or divining. (He had no relation to Mopsy as far as we know—his name came from the famous seer of Greek mythology.) He was so talented that his abilities threatened to complicate the plot. Rowling said at a 2005 press conference, “If there was somebody who really could do divination at the time that Harry was alive, it greatly diminished the drama of the story because someone out there knew what was going to happen.”

The gifted but incompetent Professor Trelawney took his place as the series’s most prominent seer. In book four, Rowling recycled many of the traits she envisioned for Mopsus when writing Mad-Eye Moody.

5. DUDLEY’S WIZARD SON

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There could have been one more family at King’s Cross during the series’s epilogue. She considered giving Dudley Dursley a magical child for him to send off to Hogwarts at the same time as his cousin. Rowling ultimately abandoned the thought, writing on her website that “a short period of reflection convinced me that any latent wizarding genes would never survive contact with Uncle Vernon’s DNA.” Wizard child or no wizard child, Dudley remains on “Christmas Card” terms with Harry throughout his adulthood, according to Rowling.

6. PROFESSOR TROCAR

The world of Harry Potter is filled with ghosts, goblins, and werewolves. Vampires, though they exist in the universe, don’t show up as often. As Rowling explained on Pottermore, “The vampire myth is so rich, and has been exploited so many times in literature and on film, that I felt there was little I could add to the tradition.” She did, however, toy with the idea of writing a blood-sucking professor when first brainstorming the Hogwarts staff.

Professor Trocar wasn’t fully fleshed out—Rowling didn't even land on a subject for him to teach. Most of the time she invested in the character was spent picking out a name. A trocar is a sharp tool used to drain bodily fluids from a patient—an appropriate choice for a character who feeds on blood. Rowling made it clear that Trocar was not an early version of Snape, crushing the hopes of any “Snape-is-a-secret-vampire” fan theorists still out there.

7. HERMIONE’S SISTER

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Rowling never intended to make Hermione an only child. As she told the BBC in a 2004 interview, she always imagined Hermione as having a younger sister. After publishing a few books that contained no mention of the second Granger child, though, Rowling figured it was too late to introduce her in a graceful way. Her omission was probably for the best: It meant Hermione had one less family member to obliviate in the final book.

Up in the Air: When 'Balloon Boy' Took Flight

John Moore, Getty Images
John Moore, Getty Images

It was like a Weekly World News cover come to life. On October 15, 2009, most of the major network and cable broadcasters interrupted their daytime programming to cover what appeared to be a silver flying saucer streaking through the air. Out of context, it was as though the world was getting its first sight of a genuine UFO.

Reading the scroll at the bottom, or listening to the somewhat frantic newscasters, provided an explanation: It was not alien craft but a homemade balloon that had inadvertently taken off from the backyard of a family home in Fort Collins, Colorado. That, of course, was not inherently newsworthy. What made this story must-see television was the fact that authorities believed a 6-year-old boy was somehow trapped inside.

As the helium-filled balloon careened through the air and toward Denver International Airport, millions of people watched and wondered if its passenger could survive the perilous trip. When the craft finally touched down after floating for some 60 miles, responders surrounded it, expecting the worst. The boy was nowhere to be seen. Had he already fallen out?

The brief saga that became known as the Balloon Boy incident was one of the biggest indictments of the burgeoning worlds of reality television and breathless 24/7 news coverage. It seemed to check off every box that observers associated with societal decline. There was the morbidity of a child speeding through the air without control; the unwavering gaze of news networks who cut away from reports on world affairs and even ignored their commercial breaks to obtain footage of an aircraft that measure around 20 feet wide and 5 feet high and resembled a bag of Jiffy Pop.

 

The boy in question was Falcon Heene, one of Richard and Mayumi Heene's three children. The couple had met in California and bonded over their mutual desire to get into the entertainment business. Richard dreamed of becoming a comedian; Mayumi played guitar. The couple married in 1997 and eventually relocated to Colorado; they got their first taste of Hollywood in 2008, when they made their first of two appearances on the reality series Wife Swap.

But Richard Heene wanted more. The avid tinkerer envisioned a show that followed his family around, while at the same time working on his new inventions—one of which was sitting in his backyard. It was essentially a Mylar balloon staked to the ground, which he would later describe as a very early prototype for a low-altitude commuter vehicle.

 sheriff's deputies seach a field for Falcon Heene before learning he had been found October 15, 2009 southeast of Ft. Collins, Colorado
Sheriff's deputies search a Colorado field for Falcon Heene before learning he had been found safe at home.
John Moore, Getty Images

It was this balloon, Bradford Heene told police in 2009, that his brother Falcon had climbed into just before it had taken flight. Earlier, Richard said, Falcon had been playing near the contraption and was scolded for potentially creating a dangerous situation. Now, Falcon was gone, the balloon was in the air, and Falcon's parents feared the worst. Mayumi called the authorities.

“My other son said that Falcon was at the bottom of the flying saucer,” Mayumi told the 911 dispatcher. “I can’t find him anywhere!”

As news cameras watched and the National Guard and U.S. Forest Service followed, the balloon reached an altitude of 7000 feet. Police made a painstaking search of the Heene household, looking for any sign of Falcon. After three passes, they determined it was possible he was inside the balloon.

Approximately one hour later, the balloon seemed to deflate. Authorities cleared the air space near Denver International Airport and greeted the craft as it landed, tethering it to the ground so no air current could hoist it back up and out of reach.

No one was inside the small cabin under the balloon, which left three possibilities: Falcon was hiding somewhere, he had run away ... or he had fallen out.

 

Not long after the craft had landed, a police officer at the Heene house decided to investigate an attic space above the garage. It had gone ignored because it didn’t seem possible Falcon could have reached the entrance on his own.

Yet there he was, hiding.

Elated, authorities explained to the media that they thought Falcon had untethered the balloon by accident and then hid because he knew his father would be upset with him.

Jim Alderden, the sheriff of Colorado's Larimer County, assured reporters that the Heenes had not done anything suspect. They demonstrated all the concern for their missing child that one would expect. Alderden stuck to that even after the Heenes were interviewed on CNN and Falcon appeared to slip up. When asked by Wolf Blitzer if he had heard his parents calling for him, the boy admitted that he had but was ignoring them “for a show.”

Though the Heenes seemed to scramble to cover up for their son's gaffe, Blitzer didn’t appear to register the comment at first. He came back around to it, though, insisting on clarification. Richard would later state that Falcon was referring to the news cameras who wanted to see where he had been hiding. That was the "show" he meant.

Alderden reiterated that he didn’t think the boy could remain still and quiet for five hours in an attic if he had been instructed to. But he admitted the CNN interview raised questions. After initially clearing the family of any wrongdoing, Alderden said he would sit down and speak to them again.

Within the week, Alderden was holding a press conference with an entirely different mood. He solemnly explained that the Heenes had perpetuated a hoax and speculated that they could be charged with up to three felonies, including conspiracy and contributing to the delinquency of a minor. Outlets had already tracked down an associate of Richard’s who detailed his reality series idea, with one episode devoted to the balloon.

 

Richard and Mayumi voluntarily turned themselves into authorities. They each pled guilty: Richard for attempting to influence a public servant and Mayumi for making a false report. In addition to paying $36,016 in restitution, Richard wound up with a 90-day jail sentence, 60 days of which was served on supervised work release. Mayumi got 20 days. Though they pled guilty, Richard maintained that he and his family had not perpetuated any kind of a hoax. In a 2010 video posted to YouTube, Richard said he only pled guilty because authorities were threatening to deport his wife.

Mayumi, meanwhile, reportedly told police it had all been an act (though critics of the prosecution argued that Mayumi's imperfect English made that confession open to interpretation). Mayumi later stated she had no firm understanding of the word "hoax."

Richard Heene and his wife, Mayumi Heene (R) are flanked by members of the media after they both plead guilty to charges related to the alleged hoax of the couple claiming that their son, Falcon Heene was last month onboard a helium balloon, at the Larime
Richard and Mayumi Heene surrounded by the media after they both plead guilty to charges related to the "Balloon Boy Hoax" on November 13, 2009.
Matt McClain, Getty Images

In addition to the fine and jail sentences, the judge also mandated that the family not seek to profit from the incident for a period of four years, which meant any potential for Richard to grab a reality show opportunity would be put on hold until long after the public had lost interest in the "Balloon Boy."

The Heenes moved to Florida in 2010, and soon after their three boys formed a heavy metal band—reputed to be the world’s youngest—dubbed the Heene Boyz. They’ve self-released several albums, and in 2014 even released a song called "Balloon Boy No Hoax."

Richard also peddles some of his inventions, including a wall-mounted back scratcher that allows users to alleviate itching by rubbing up against it. It’s called the Bear Scratch.

In October 2019, Robert Sanchez, a writer for 5280 magazine in Denver, profiled the Heenes and produced a smoking gun of sorts. Sanchez, who was allowed access to the Heene case file by Mayumi's defense attorney, discovered copies of Mayumi's notes about the events leading up to the flight. In one entry, she disclosed Richard had asked her about the possibility of letting the craft go off while Falcon remained in the basement, stirring up attention for the news networks. Later, when the saucer flew away, Richard was confused when Falcon wasn't downstairs. (He chose instead to hide in the attic.) That made the Heenes believe he might really be inside.

When confronted with the document, Mayumi told Sanchez she had made that story up in an attempt to "save" herself and her children, presumably from being separated in the ensuing legal struggle. In the Balloon Boy story, the saucer may have come crashing back to Earth, but the truth remains up in the air.

The Hallmark Channel’s First-Ever ‘Christmas Con’ Is Comin’ to Town

macniak/iStock via Getty Images
macniak/iStock via Getty Images

Bookworms have Book Con, comic lovers have Comic Con, and now, courtesy of the Hallmark Channel, Christmas fanatics will finally get the gift they’ve surely written to Santa about more than a few times: Christmas Con.

News 12 New Jersey reports that the festive convention will take place at the New Jersey Convention and Exposition Center in Edison from November 8 through November 10.

If you binge-watch Hallmark Channel’s schmaltzy feel-good flicks faster than St. Nick scarfs down a giant gingerbread cookie, this is your chance to catch its biggest stars in one decked-out hall. Mean Girls (2004) alum Jonathan Bennett will emcee the convention, The Walking Dead’s Alicia Witt will perform a concert, and panels will include guests like Chad Michael Murray, Melissa Joan Hart, and Bennett’s former Mean Girls co-star Lacey Chabert (who will hopefully be showered with enough candy canes to make up for the time that her character, Gretchen Weiners, got none).

In addition to its celebrity events, Christmas Con will also include a Christmas market with gifts, handmade decorations, and holiday treats. You can also don your most lurid holiday sweater for a chance to win a $500 grand prize in the Ugly Christmas Sweater contest, or bake a gingerbread house fit for a prince in the Gingerbread Wars, which could win you $1000.

If you're hoping to attend, you might have to hunt for resale tickets on social media or third-party sites—the passes are already almost sold out on the official website. If you’re willing to shell out a little extra for a snapshot with romance royalty, most of the stars are offering photo opportunities for around $50.

Looking for a less intense way to welcome the holly, jolly holiday season? Watch the 20 best Christmas movies, Die Hard (1988) and all.

[h/t News 12 New Jersey]

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