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

Warner Bros.

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

Warner Bros.

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.

10 Facts About DodgeBall: A True Underdog Story For Its 15th Anniversary

Vince Vaughn stars in Dodgeball: A True Underdog Story (2004).
Vince Vaughn stars in Dodgeball: A True Underdog Story (2004).
Twentieth Century Fox

June 18, 2004 saw the release of two wildly different films in American cinemas: Steven Spielberg’s The Terminal and a goofy, cameo-filled, wrench-chucking sports comedy called DodgeBall: A True Underdog Story. Guess which one came out on top at the box office? The sleeper hit both saluted and skewered the sports movie genre. It also gave Chuck Norris the chance to enjoy a free helicopter ride.

1. Dodgeball's creator was inspired by the book Fast Food Nation.

DodgeBall writer/director Rawson Marshall Thurber considered DodgeBall an homage to some of his favorite flicks, including Revenge of the Nerds (1984), Rocky (1976), and Bull Durham (1988). Another source of inspiration was Eric Schlosser’s Fast Food Nation, the nonfiction bestseller about the modern obsession with greasy, ready-made cuisine. Published in 2001, Fast Food Nation sold more than 1.4 million copies within five years. It also left plenty of fingerprints on Thurber’s script.

"I really took a cue from that—there's an absolute love/fear relationship thing in our culture," Thurber told Film Freak Central in 2014. "We're so weight conscious, so image conscious, so youth-oriented—and wrapped up with all that psychosis are these ad images of it being so cool and all-American and sexy to eat McDonald's and drink pop and all that. It pulls people in all sorts of different directions, so I wanted [Ben Stiller’s character] White Goodman to be sitting there with a doughnut and the car battery attached to his nipples … That situation with food, with sports, with so much of our culture. [It’s] already almost too surreal to satirize."

2. The movie's actors went through some rigorous training.

To ready themselves for the movie, Ben Stiller, Vince Vaughn, and the rest of the actors ran indoor dodgeball drills at what many of them have since described as a “boot camp.” According to Stiller, this basically consisted of “us at a gym a few times a week playing dodgeball.” While that may not sound too intense, the physicality of these sessions took its toll on the performers. “It’s a game for the young,” Stiller said. “It’s one thing when you’re eight, but when you’re 38, it gets really exhausting. After three or four minutes, you’re fried.” Practicing at his side was Stiller’s wife, Christine Taylor, who plays Kate Veatch of the Average Joe’s squad in DodgeBall.

3. Ben Stiller took Christine Taylor down with a dodgeball ... twice.

As a general rule, it’s never a good idea to hit one’s spouse in the face with a rubber ball while playing any sport, but that’s exactly what Stiller did to Christine Taylor—twice. Blow number one came during the boot camp; the second strike occurred while filming the epic Globo Gym/Average Joe’s showdown. The latter ball was intended to strike Vaughn, who reflexively flinched to get out of the way. In any event, Stiller admits that those two incidents put a temporary damper on the couple’s marital harmony “for like a week, because there’s no way to not get upset with somebody after you’ve done that. It just sent us both back to eighth grade." (Though the couple announced that they were divorcing in 2017, the split has never been made official, and the couple is still regularly seen together—sparking rumors of a reconciliation.)

4. Stiller borrowed much of his character's personality from 1995's Heavyweights.

The fact that Stiller borrowed some of White Goodman’s traits from Tony Perkis, the fanatical fat camp owner he played in 1995’s Heavyweights, won’t surprise anyone who has seen both films. DodgeBall’s White Goodman (as played by Stiller) is a bombastic, egomaniacal fitness guru with some inherited wealth and major insecurities. The same description also applies to Perkis. A lighthearted family comedy, Heavyweights didn’t fare well at the box office, grossing a meager $17.6 million. As such, when Stiller copied a few of Perkis’s mannerisms in DodgeBall, he figured that no one would notice.

"I always thought, ‘Well, nobody ever saw Heavyweights, so I can do this,” Stiller recalled. “But a lot of people saw Heavyweights … Apparently, it shows on the Disney Channel a lot or something.” Regarding the two characters, Stiller has said that Perkis is “definitely a first or second cousin” to Goodman.

5. Justin Long suffered a minor concussion on the set.

Justin Long, who plays Justin in the film, took some hard knocks while making this movie. For starters, a prop wrench made with hard rubber left a nasty cut on his eyebrow when Rip Torn, as Patches O’Houlihan, threw it at his face in one scene. Then, while filming another section of DodgeBall’s training montage, the actor was pelted with enough high-speed balls to render him "slightly concussed."

"They didn’t want me to drive home at the end of the day because I was a little off," Long told Today in 2017. “So next time you’re watching that and laughing, know that you’re laughing at my pain.” Still, the experience wasn’t all bad. According to New York Magazine, Long can often be seen riding a scooter adorned with the words “Average Joe’s,” a gift from Stiller.

6. Hank Azaria and Rip Torn didn't even try to synchronize their Patches O'Houlihan voices.

Early in the film, we get to watch an instructional video about dodgeball (and social Darwinism) hosted by a young Patches O’Houlihan, who is played by Hank Azaria. For the remainder of the film, however, it’s Rip Torn who portrays the seven-time ADAA all-star. You may have noticed that the two actors use very different accents in their respective scenes: Azaria, who joined the cast at Stiller’s invitation, called his performance “essentially a bad Clark Gable impression.” At the time, Torn’s sequences hadn’t been shot yet, leading someone in the crew to pipe up and say “You know, it’d be funny if Rip tries to emulate that voice!” “I was like, ‘Yeah, good luck walking up to Rip Torn and suggesting that he change his vocal quality in any way. Let me know how that goes for you,’” Azaria replied.

7. The Average Joe's team colors are an homage to Hoosiers.

Thurber, a fan of David Anspaugh’s Oscar-nominated Hoosiers (1986), tipped his hat to the Hickory Huskers’ red and yellow uniforms by giving the Average Joe’s squad—led by Vince Vaughn’s Pete LaFleur—an almost identical color scheme. 

8. Chuck Norris was reluctant to make a cameo.

The action star’s only scene was shot in Long Beach, California. Geographically speaking, this was problematic for Norris. “I was in L.A. when they asked me to do the cameo,” Norris told Empire Magazine. “I said no at first because it was a three-hour drive to Long Beach.” Hearing this, Stiller called Norris and begged him to reconsider. “He goes, ‘Chuck, please, you’ve got to do this for me!’” Norris recalled, “My wife said he should send a helicopter for me and that's what happened. I didn't read the screenplay, just did my bit where I stick my thumb up.”

After post-production on DodgeBall wrapped and Norris got around to seeing the finished product, he found himself enjoying most of it. However, there was one little moment in the final credits that really caught him off-guard. “In the end, when Ben’s a big fatty and watching TV, the last line of the whole movie is, 'F***ing Chuck Norris!' My mouth fell open ... I said, 'Holy mackerel!' That was a shock, Ben didn't tell me about that!"

9. One villain was originally supposed to be a robot.

By far the most mysterious player in the Purple Cobras lineup is Fran Stalinovskovichdavidovitchsky, an Eastern European all-star whom Goodman calls “The deadliest woman on earth with a dodgeball.” What’s the secret to her success? Well, in an early version of the screenplay, it’s revealed that Fran is actually a robot in disguise. Thurber ended up dropping the gag, which he considered too ridiculous—even by DodgeBall’s standards. However, when Missi Pyle was cast as Fran, the big twist hadn’t yet been cut.

“Initially, in the first script I read, she was a robot, like a sexy-bodied robot” Pyle explained. The original plan was to slowly pan the camera up over a partly-exposed Robo-Fran—with her metallic face and fake breasts on full display—at some point in the climax.

10. Alan Tudyk weighed in on a fan theory about Steve the Pirate.

In 2012, Redditor Maized made the case Steve the Pirate, Alan Tudyk’s swashbuckling oddball, is actually an “ex-Navy sailor who suffers from PTSD.” As evidence, Maized cited Steve’s tattoos, which bear a striking resemblance to those frequently worn by U.S. Naval recruits. In theory, the Average Joe’s patron uses his pirate persona to cope with his condition.

During a 2016 interview with Screen Crush, Tudyk was asked to offer his thoughts on the theory. With a chuckle, Tudyk replied that it “doesn’t seem like it’s impossible.” Emphasizing that he didn’t wish to “insult Navy sailors who have PTSD,” the actor said he’d consider taking the Redditor’s idea into account if a DodgeBall sequel is ever made.

Game of Thrones Director Said He Wanted to 'Kill Everyone' During the Battle of Winterfell

Iain Glen and Emilia Clarke in Game of Thrones.
Iain Glen and Emilia Clarke in Game of Thrones.
Helen Sloan, HBO

Now that Game of Thrones is over, it’s time to talk about the nitty-gritty of the episodes, particularly “The Long Night.” While the Battle of Winterfell may have been nerve-wracking to watch, there ended up being surprisingly fewer deaths than fans expected, considering the living were fighting the entire army of the dead.

Miguel Sapochnik, who directed the episode, was no beginner with battle scenes before taking on “The Long Night,” as he was also responsible season 6's iconic “The Battle of the Bastards” as well as the memorable season 5 episode “Hardhome.” While his list of Game of Thrones accomplishments is long, it turns out that Sapochnik's choices haven't always been in line with what showrunners David Benioff and D.B. Weiss want.

According to IndieWire, Sapochnik’s aesthetic choices, such as the decision to shoot shoot Cersei and Tommen shadowed by prison-like bars to represent Tommen’s imprisonment in season 5, were not favored by the showrunners. “[Benioff and Weiss] said [it was] ‘so self-conscious and we hate it basically,'” Sapochnik revealed at the time. Because of disagreements like this, the pair “visually policed” the director.

There was a difference of opinion between the director and the creators again for “The Long Night,” Sapochnik revealed on IndieWire's Filmmaker's Toolkit podcast. “I wanted to kill everyone,” the director said, as reported by Esquire. “I wanted to kill Jorah in the horse charge at the beginning. I wanted it to be ruthless, so in the first 10 minutes you could say all bets are off, anyone could die. But David and Dan didn’t want to. There was a lot of back-and-forth on that."

Ultimately, Sapochnik gave in to Benioff and Weiss’s plan for the episode, and the Battle of Winterfell had far fewer casualties than most of the series's other battle scenes.

[h/t Esquire]

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