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.
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
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.
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.
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
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
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.
Summer 1978: Over a year after its debut, Star Wars wasn’t through smashing box office records. Ushered back into theaters for a return engagement that July, it made $10 million in just three days. George Lucas had welded mythological structure, pioneering special effects, and a spectacular production design to create a cinematic phenomenon that redefined how studios selected and marketed big-budget spectacles. Movies would never be the same again.
Neither would television. That same month, filming began on The Star Wars Holiday Special, a 97-minute musical-variety show that featured Bea Arthur serenading a giant rat and Chewbacca’s father, Itchy, being seduced by a virtual reality image of Diahann Carroll. Originally, the show was intended to keep the property viable and licensed merchandise moving off shelves until the inevitable sequel. But with Lucas’s focus on The Empire Strikes Back and producers shrinking his galaxy for a television budget, the Holiday Special suffered. So did viewers.
Mental Floss spoke with many of the principal production team members to find out exactly how Lucas’s original intentions—a sentimental look at Chewbacca’s family during a galactic holiday celebration—turned to the Dark Side.
According to onetime Lucasfilm marketing director Charles Lippincott, CBS approached Star Wars distributor 20th Century Fox in 1978 to propose a television special. Fox had seen a boost in box office returns after several aliens from the Cantina scene appeared on Donny and Marie Osmond’s variety show; CBS figured the success of the film would translate into a ratings win; Lucasfilm and Lippincott though it would be a good vehicle to push toys.
With all parties motivated to move forward, two writers—Leonard “Lenny” Ripps and Pat Proft—were brought on to write a script based on an original story by Lucas.
Leonard Ripps (Co-Writer): Pat and I spent the entire day with Lucas. He took out a legal pad and asked how many minutes were in a TV special. He wrote down numbers from one to 90. He was very methodical about it. He had at least a dozen stories he had already written, so we were just helping to fill in a world he knew everything about. His idea was basically for a Wookiee Rosh Hashanah. A furry Earth Day.
Pat Proft (Co-Writer): Wookiees played a big part of it. Stormtroopers were harassing them. I don't have the script. It sure as [hell] wasn't what it ended up being.
Ripps: Pat and I had written for mimes Shields and Yarnell, which is why we were brought on. We had written lots of non-verbal stuff. The challenge was how to get things across. Wookiees aren’t articulate. Even in silent movies, you had subtitles. Whatever we wrote, it wasn’t tongue-in-cheek.
Proft and Ripps delivered their script several weeks after the meeting. It focused on a galactic holiday celebrated by all species, with the Wookiee planet of Kashyyyk selected to host the festivities that year. Chewbacca’s family—father Itchy, wife Malla, and son Lumpy—were introduced, with the writers leaving gaps for executive producers Dwight Hemion and Gary Smith to insert celebrity guest stars and musical acts. For the latter, Hemion and Smith turned to producers Ken and Mitzie Welch to arrange original songs and enlist talent.
Elle Puritz (Assistant to the Producer): I was working for the Welches at the time. I remember hearing, “OK, we’re going to do a Star Wars holiday special,” and everyone laughing about it. I thought it was a terrible idea.
Miki Herman (Lucasfilm Consultant): Lippincott requested I be involved with the special. I did a lot of ancillary projects. I knew all the props, all the actors. I hired Stan Winston to create the Wookiee family. [Sound effects artist] Ben Burtt and I were there to basically provide authenticity, to make sure everything was kept in context.
George Lucas (via Empire, 2009): Fox said, "You can promote the film by doing the TV special." So I kind of got talked into doing the special.
Ripps: Lucas told us Han Solo was married to a Wookiee but that we couldn’t mention that because it would be controversial.
Herman: I do remember Gary Smith saying they wanted to have Mikhail Baryshnikov and Ann-Margret involved, high-caliber people that were popular.
Puritz: Ken and Mitzie called Bea Arthur. They wrote a song with her in mind.
Ripps: It never occurred to us to get Bea Arthur. We spent just that one day with Lucas, then got put in touch with [director] David Acomba. Our notion was Acomba was very much Lucas’s guy, so he spoke for Lucas.
Acomba was a Canadian filmmaker who had coincidentally gone to the University of Southern California around the same time as Lucas, though the two never crossed paths at the time. Lippincott knew him, however, and hired him to direct the special in keeping with Lucas’s spirit of finding talent outside the Hollywood system.
Larry Heider (Camera Operator): David came out of a rock 'n' roll world, a documentary world. Smith and Hemion had three different projects going on at the same time, so I think they felt they wouldn’t have time to direct just this one thing.
Puritz: David wasn’t used to shooting television. Using five cameras, everything shooting at the same time. He was very indignant about his own lack of knowledge, and he did not get along with the Welches.
Ripps: I got the impression it was not what he wanted, and had turned into something he didn’t want to do. I don’t want to say he was overwhelmed, but it would’ve been overwhelming for anyone.
With a budget of roughly $1 million—the 1977 film cost $11 million—The Star Wars Holiday Special began filming in Burbank, California in the summer of 1978 with a script that had been heavily revised by variety show veterans Bruce Vilanch, Rod Warren, and Mitzie Welch to reflect the Smith-Hemion style of bombastic musical numbers and kitsch. Chewbacca was now trying to race home in time for “Life Day,” with his family watching interstellar musical interludes and comedic sketches—like a four-armed Julia Child parody—on a video screen.
Ripps: Lucas wanted a show about the holiday. Vilanch and everyone, they were wonderful writers, but they were Carol Burnett writers. In the litany of George’s work, there was never kitsch. Star Wars was always very sincere about Star Wars.
Herman: Personally, I was not a fan of Harvey Korman, Bea Arthur, or Art Carney. That wasn’t my generation. But they had relationships with Dwight Hemion and the Welches.
Heider: Bea Arthur was known for being a little cold and demanding. When she was asked to do something a second time, she wanted someone to explain what was wrong. When the script wasn’t making sense for her to say something, she had a hard time translating all of that. She was pretty much [her television character] Maude.
Bea Arthur [via The Portland Mercury, 2005]: I didn't know what that was about at all. I was asked to be in it by the composer of that song I sang—"Goodnight, But Not Goodbye." It was a wonderful time, but I had no idea it was even a part of the whole Star Wars thing … I just remember singing to a bunch of people with funny heads.
After shooting the Cantina scene, it became apparent that Acomba was an ill fit for the constraints of a television schedule.
Heider: David was used to a single camera—run and gun, keep it moving, a real rock 'n' roll pace. This show was anything but. There were huge sets, make-up, costumes. It was slow-paced, and it got to him.
Ripps: I didn’t go down for the filming, but Pat went down. He has a story.
Proft: Took my kid for the Cantina scene. All the characters from the bar were there. However, they forgot [to pump] oxygen into the masks. Characters were fainting left and right.
Heider: Characters would walk around onstage with just their shirts on to stay cool. We were shooting in a very warm part of the year in Los Angeles, and it was difficult, especially with the Wookiees. They took a lot more breaks than they had calculated.
Ripps: I knew how frustrated David was. It wasn’t his vision. He phoned me up and said, “I’m not going to be working on this anymore.”
Acomba left after only shooting a handful of scenes. A frantic Smith phoned Steve Binder, a director with extensive experience in television—he had overseen the famous Elvis ’68 Comeback Special—and told him he needed someone to report to the set the following Monday morning.
Steve Binder (Director): I was between projects and got a call from Gary basically saying they had completely shut down in Burbank and there was talk of shutting it down for good. The first thing I realized was, they had built this phenomenal Chewbacca home on a huge film stage, but it was a 360-degree set. There was no fourth wall to remove to bring multiple cameras into the home. I would think it would be impossible for a crew to even get into the set to shoot anything.
Puritz: I think David was part of that plan.
Heider: I remember when that happened. I don’t think it was David’s idea. It was the way it was conceived by producers on how to make this look really cool, but it didn’t work. You have no lighting control. Steve got it. He’s really a pro. There’s no ego.
Binder: They FedExed me the script. The first thing I looked at was, the first 10 minutes was done with basically no dialogue from the actors. It was strictly Chewbacca sounds. The sound effects people would use bear sounds for the voicing. It concerned me, but there was no time to start changing the script.
Ripps: We had concerns about that. But George said, "This is the story I want to tell."
Binder: The Chewbacca family could only be in the costumes for 45 minutes. Then they’d have the heads taken off, and be given oxygen. It slowed everything down. The suits were so physically cumbersome and heavy. The actress playing Lumpy [Patty Maloney], when she came in, I don’t think she was more than 80 or 90 pounds and she a lost tremendous amount of weight while filming.
In addition to guest stars Bea Arthur, Harvey Korman, and Art Carney, Lucasfilm approached most of the principals from the feature for cameo appearances. Feeling indebted to Lucas, they agreed to participate—reluctantly.
Puritz: They had made this big movie, and now they’re doing a TV special. Carrie Fisher did not want to be there.
Herman: They didn’t love doing TV. At that time, movie actors didn’t do TV. There was a stigma against it.
Heider: Harrison Ford was not happy to be there at all. Carrie Fisher, I think part of her deal was she got to sing a song, and that was her draw to it. Because Lucas was involved, and if another movie is coming out in two years, there’s pressure to keep going. So they showed up, on time. Mostly.
Binder: My recall with the whole cast was that there was a little mumbling going on with a few of the actors who felt they should’ve been compensated more for the movie. I think Lucas did do that after the special, giving them small percentages.
Heider: We were doing a scene where Ford was sitting in the Millennium Falcon and he just wanted to get his lines done and he made that very clear. “Can we just do this? How long is this going to take?”
Harrison Ford (via press tour, 2011): It was in my contract. There was no known way to get out of it.
Heider: Mark Hamill was a good guy. He just had that normal-guy-trying-to-work vibe.
Mark Hamill (via Reddit, 2014): I thought it was a mistake from the beginning. It was just unlike anything else in the Star Wars universe. And I initially said that I didn't want to do it, but George said it would help keep Star Wars in the consciousness and I wanted to be a team player, so I did it. And I also said that I didn't think Luke should sing, so they cut that number.
Herman: I worked with the actors on a lot of the ancillary stuff. Honestly, they were just all so dopey.
Before Acomba departed the production, he and Lucas reached out to a Canadian animation company, Nelvana, to prepare a nine-minute cartoon that would formally introduce one of the characters from The Empire Strikes Back: Boba Fett. The bounty hunter originated from a design for an unused Stormtrooper by production designers Joe Johnston and Ralph McQuarrie; he was intended to make public appearances in the interim between films, initially popping up at the San Anselmo County Fair parade in September of 1978.
Michael Hirsh (Nelvana Co-Founder): David knew me personally. Lucas watched a special of ours, A Cosmic Christmas, that was just coming on air at the time. He asked people on his crew, including David, who we were. David said, "Oh, I know these guys." We were not a well-known company at time.
Clive Smith (Nelvana Co-Founder, Animation Director): Lucas supplied a script that he wrote. I think I probably had about two weeks to storyboard, then start character designs.
Hirsh: Frankly, I think the cartoon was more along the lines of what Lucas wanted to do in the first place—if he did the special, there was a possibility Fox and CBS would fund Star Wars cartoons. The variety show itself wasn’t something he was particularly interested in.
Smith: We ended up shooting slides of each storyboard frame. There must’ve been 300 to 400 frames. I loaded them up, put myself on a plane, and went down to San Francisco and did a presentation with a slide projector. I was in this room of people who were absolutely silent. Things that were funny, not a whimper or murmur. But at the end, George clapped.
Hirsh: CBS wanted him to use one of the L.A. studios, like Hanna-Barbera, who did most of the Saturday morning cartoons. But Lucas, from the beginning of his career, had a thing for independent companies, people who weren’t in L.A. The style of animation was modeled after [French artist] Jean “Moebius” Geraud, at Lucas’s request.
Smith: A lot of the designs and characters were inspired by Moebius, who did a lot of work for Heavy Metal magazine. We thought it was a good direction to point ourselves in. At the time, there was no Star Wars animation to follow.
Hirsh: There was a big deal made about the introduction of Boba Fett.
Smith: We needed to design Boba Fett, and all we had was some black and white footage of a costumed actor who had been photographed in someone’s backyard moving around. We took what was there and turned it into a graphic idea.
Hirsh: I directed the voice sessions. Anthony Daniels (C-3PO) had the most dialogue, and the other actors came in for short sessions. Harrison Ford and the other performers generally came in and nailed lines, whereas Mark Hamill was anxious to try different things. [Hamill would go on to a successful career in voiceover work.]
Herman: Michael got upset when I told him Princess Leia wore a belt. It was part of her costume, and they didn’t have it. Redoing it was going to cost them a lot of money.
Hirsh: That’s possible. Lucas was happy with how it turned out. After the special, we stayed in touch and we were developing a project with Lucasfilm and the Bee Gees. Nothing ever came of it.
Nelvana had a relatively smooth journey to the finish line compared to the live-action production team. By the time Binder was prepared to shoot the climactic “Life Day” celebration with the entire cast and a group of robed Wookiees, there was virtually no money in the budget left for a large-scale spectacle.
Binder: No one ever mentioned there was no set for the closing. I was told by the art director we had no money for it in the budget. So I said, "No problem, just go out and buy every candle you can find in the store." We filled an empty stage with candles. I had experimented with this on another special, maybe a Victor Borge ice skating show. Candles in a dark environment give off an incredibly creative effect.
Herman: The sad truth is, everyone was so overwhelmed. Ken and Mitzie knew that last scene was a disaster. They came to me saying, "Help us." But George was out of the picture. It was a runaway production.
Ripps: Acomba and Lucas had walked away from it. They weren’t there to fight for anything.
Lucas: It just kept getting reworked and reworked, moving away into this bizarre land. They were trying to make one kind of thing and I was trying to make another, and it ended up being a weird hybrid between the two.
Heider: They were spending a lot of money for stage rental, lighting, a TV truck, and everyone was putting in really long hours. It translated into a big below-line budget problem.
Herman: Honestly, a set wasn’t going to save that scene. All the Wookiees were wearing [consumer licensee] Don Post masks.
Premiering November 17, 1978, The Star Wars Holiday Special was seen by 13 million viewers, a significant but not overly impressive audience for the three-network television landscape of the era. It came in second to The Love Boat on ABC for its first hour, with a marked drop-off following the conclusion of the cartoon at the halfway point. Gurgling, apron-clad Wookiees, low-budget Imperial threats—they do nothing more sinister than trash Lumpy’s room—and an appearance by Jefferson Starship proved too bizarre for viewers.
Binder: I felt you have to open with a bang, really grab the audience, make it worth their time to sit and watch. The opening scene going on as long as it did was a killer for the TV audience.
Ripps: I had no idea what had happened to it. When it was broadcast, I had a party at my house and ordered catering. After the first commercial, I turned it off and said, "Let’s eat."
Binder: The day I finished shooting, I was on to other projects. It’s the only show I never edited or supervised the editing of. The Welches had the whole weight of the unedited special in their hands, and I questioned how much experience they had at that given they were songwriters.
Heider: Somebody made choices in terms of how long each scene would be on TV, and it's really painful.
Herman: I remember I was moving to Marin County the next day. I was staying at a friend’s house, and their son was a Star Wars fan. I had given him all the toys. Watching him watch it, he was really bored.
Binder: What I realized was, the public was not told this wasn’t going to be Star Wars. It was not the second movie. It was going to be a TV show to sell toys to kids. That was the real purpose of the show. It had nowhere near the budget of a feature film. [Lucasfilm and Kenner produced prototype action figures of Chewbacca’s family; they were never released.]
Heider: I didn’t watch it when it was on, but I do have a copy I bought several years ago on eBay. It’s not a great copy, but it’s enough to show how it was cut together. I haven’t been able to sit through whole thing at one time.
Herman: George hated it, but he knew there was nothing he could do about it.
Binder: I never met Lucas, never got a phone call, anything. Which was disappointing to me. It was his show, he developed it. To totally walk away from it and critique it negatively was, I felt, not cool.
Ripps: One of the reasons I took the job was I thought it would be an annuity. Every year, I’d get a check for Star Wars.
Hirsh: I did watch it. I was happy with our contribution. It was a phenomenal opportunity for our little company. We got to work on the Droids and Ewoks animated shows later on.
Ripps: I still go out to dinners on the stories. Once, at a dinner party, one of the waiters had Star Wars tattoos up and down both of his arms. When he found out I wrote the special, we got better service than anyone in the restaurant.
Lucas: I’m sort of amused by it, because it is so bizarre. It's definitely avant garde television. It's definitely bad enough to be a classic.
Herman: The interesting thing is, the day after the special aired was the day of the Jonestown Massacre. It was just a bad time for everyone.
Dwight Hemion (via NPR, 2002): It was the worst piece of crap I’ve ever done.
The latest edition of Monopoly: Game of Thrones has a special feature that's designed to put fans in a competitive mood. As Mashable reports, the game plays the theme song from Game of Thrones as players betray their opponents and rack up properties around the Seven Kingdoms.
The board game is the second version of the Game of Thrones Monopoly that debuted in 2015, and it comes with a few updates. Instead of paper money, players can now do business with silver stags and gold dragons, the currency used in the the Game of Thrones universe. A model of the Iron Throne holds the Chance cards, which in the spirit of the series can "swing the game quickly in your favor or crush you all at once," according to the game's description. And if players ever need to raise the dramatic tension, the game's packaging plays the iconic opening credits theme.
Game of Thrones has been adapted into several tabletop games, including a version of Clue set in Westeros, but Monopoly, the game that's been causing family fights for over a century, feels like an especially fitting match.
The second edition of Monopoly: Game of Thrones comes out on December 24, 2018. You can pre-order it now for $30.