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5 Best And 5 Worst Hermione Granger Fan Theories

J.K. Rowling's Harry Potter books are some of the most popular literature in the entire world. Chances are, you or someone you know grew up with the adventures of Harry, Ron, and Hermione. With the millions and millions of fans reading the books and watching the movies and taking online quizzes to find out which character they are (no one ever admits to being Draco Malfoy, but someone has to be), there's bound to be some unique takes and interpretations. Not all fan theories are created equal, however — for every theory so good that you forget it wasn't part of the text itself, there are plenty of theories that seem to completely miss the point of the work.

While there are plenty of fan theories about the Harry Potter books as a whole, today we're turning our attention to the smartest witch at Hogwarts. From theories that solved minor plot holes in the books to absolutely insane theories that don't make any sense at all, we've got some of the best and some of the worst fan theories about everyone's favorite teenage witch. No, not Sabrina — Hermione Granger.

Best: Hermione is so academically gifted because she got a decent Muggle education first

If Hermione has one defining trait, it's her academic excellence. While other characters have their own skills and advantages, Hermione is canonically "the brightest witch of her age" and one of the smartest students Hogwarts has ever seen. If you've ever wondered why she excels so much, the answer might be due to her Muggle heritage. According to this fan theory, Hermione may have more to thank than just her natural intelligence.

Unlike most of her fellow students, Hermione attended Muggle school until she was accepted into Hogwarts. Learning about scientific theory and arithmetic, even in very base forms, might just have contributed to a love of learning and a predilection for academic excellence that Hermione continued at the castle. As for why Harry didn't similarly benefit from the Muggle education head start, well, chances are the Dursleys weren't all that encouraging. Even so, he's generally more adept at most classes than Ron Weasley, whose wizarding heritage seems less academically inclined.

Worst: Hermione is homeless for the last few books

It's pretty common for fan theories to take something seemingly wholesome and twist it into something dark and gritty, like imagining that your favorite characters were dead the entire time or that a point-of-view character is suffering from severe mental illness. While these can be fun thought exercises, in many cases they're just a stone cold bummer. Who wants to think about their favorite characters being even worse off than they seemed?

As for the Harry Potter books, they get pretty grim themselves in the last few installments, with numerous beloved characters biting the magical bullet. According to one fan theorist though, it was actually even worse than it seemed. This idea supposes that Hermione spent so much time with Harry and Ron on their vacations because she was homeless. Hermione allegedly saw the writing on the wall that Voldemort was coming back to wreak all sorts of havoc, so she erased her parents' minds in advance and couch-surfed for her last three years of school. That's pretty dark, even for a franchise that features multiple murders.

Best: Hermione and Dumbledore stole the Time Turner

Some of the best fan theories are the ones that fill in small plot holes or deepen a character's personality in interesting ways. In some cases, they can even be adopted as in-universe explanations, as when Stan Lee famously offered "No-Prizes" for clever readers who were able to convincingly explain away a flaw in the logic of a Marvel comic. When it comes to Harry Potter, there's arguably no other plot development that's caused more headaches for J.K. Rowling and her readers than the Time Turner that Hermione uses in Prisoner of Azkaban.

Adding temporal manipulation to any work is often a recipe for disaster, but letting a student harness the seemingly unlimited power to travel through time in order to take more classes meant that nearly every problem in the Potter universe could conceivably be solved with time travel. That our heroes weren't constantly using it to stop Voldemort (especially when the ministry seems to loan them out to trustworthy teens) seems crazy. One fan offers a convincing explanation: Hermione stole the Time Turner from the Department of Mysteries, possibly with Dumbledore's help. It's pretty convincing, and explains how Hermione knew about certain things in the Department of Mysteries when the trio visits it in Order of the Phoenix; she'd already been there and knew what to look out for.

Worst: Matilda is Hermione

Fans absolutely love imagining that multiple characters are actually the same character in different stages of their life, especially if those characters were played by the same actor. It happened with Walter White in Breaking Bad and Hal from Malcolm in the Middle, and it's happened with dozens of other characters and actors. Usually, though, there's some common element that makes the fan theory at least vaguely plausible, or at least amusing. On the other side of the spectrum is this theory imagining that Matilda, from the classic Roald Dahl story of the same name, is a young Hermione.

The theory seems to be based predominantly on the idea that both characters are young girls with supernatural abilities and brunette hair. There's not really much else to it, since it requires so many extra additions to both texts — like imagining that Miss Honey went to night school to become a dentist or that Hermione decided to just change her name on a whim — that it might as well be an entirely separate work.

Best: Crookshanks used to be the Potters' cat

Fans love to imagine complex histories and interconnections between even the smallest of background characters. Just scroll through Wookiepedia if you want to see how deep even official histories can get for characters with the smallest, most meager amount of screentime. There's plenty of fun to be had in speculating about the lives of background characters going on beyond the story of the main cast.

In one popular fan theory, Hermione's cat, Crookshanks, was actually the Potters' cat before Voldemort's attack. There are enough clues in the text to make the theory work, and it reassures cat lovers that the Potters' old cat didn't just wander into the woods to die. Most pertinently, it explains why Crookshanks so hated Ron's rat, Scabbers — it's because Crookshanks, as the Potters' cat, would have recognized Peter Pettigrew's scent and known that Scabbers was really Pettigrew in disguise. The cat even recognizes Sirius in his dog form, supposedly since the feline would have met both Sirius and Peter while under the Potters' care.

Worst: Hermione isn't actually a Muggle

The Harry Potter novels aren't exactly subtle about the real-world parallels suggested by Muggle discrimination at Hogwarts. There's a reason that some fans' shorthand for Voldemort is "Wizard Hitler" after all. Draco Malfoy's obsession with "pure-blooded" witches and wizards unquestionably sets him apart as a villain, and it's no coincidence that Hermione, as the series' most central Muggle-born witch, is the smartest character in the books. It's meant to highlight the inherent contradictions and lunacy of racism and other kinds of discrimination.

All of which is kind of ruined by this fan theory that imagines that Hermione isn't actually a Muggle-born witch at all. Instead, her family is descended from a long line of witches and wizards, but her parents are just Squibs (someone born to magical parents without any magical powers of their own). Sure, the theory explains why Hermione shares a last name with a famous wizard, but it also tears a hole in Hermione's character and a fundamental message of the books themselves. If Hermione isn't actually a Muggle-born witch, and is instead related closely to a lineage of notable magic-users, it more or less proves Malfoy right that "pure-blooded" wizards are superior.

Best: Hermione is a black woman

Fans lost their minds with excitement when Harry Potter and the Cursed Child was originally announced, and for good reason. Another addition to their favorite franchise, co-written by J. K. Rowling herself, the stage play would follow the adventures of Harry, Ron, and Hermione's children as they enter Hogwarts. Unfortunately, a number of Harry Potter readers were upset when Noma Dumezweni, a black actress, was cast to portray the older Hermione for the stage.

This led a number of fans to point out that the book never actually clarifies that Hermione isn't black. Since the books never explicitly specify her race, there's no real reason to think that she's white in the text itself. In fact, Rowling herself commented on the controversy by tweeting, "Canon: brown eyes, frizzy hair and very clever. White skin was never specified. Rowling loves black Hermione," in response to the fan fervor over the casting. It's a great interpretation, since it doesn't take anything away from the core text, but allows more people to find something to relate to in Hermione's character.

Worst: Hermione is ashamed of being a Muggle

Much like the theory about Hermione not actually being a Muggle, there's a prevalent take claiming that Hermione is actually ashamed of being a Muggle-born witch. According to this theory, the reason that Hermione rarely mentions her parents and seems to have little fondness for Muggle culture or technology is because she's embarrassed by her heritage.

While it could explain why she's so hard-working, it also cuts down Hermione's character in a serious way. Her status as a Muggle-born witch who is just as capable as her famous friend Harry (and leagues more capable than the pure-blooded Ron) showcases how ridiculous the wizarding world's obsession with magical lineages is. If she actually is ashamed of being a Muggle, then that implies that she's at least partly acknowledging that the discriminatory culture is right, or at least something that she should feel ashamed of.

Best: Hermione doesn't stay with Ron after the books end

Fans have written hundreds of thousands of pages imagining a different ending to the books than the one that Rowling wrote. A quick Google search and you can find just about any conclusion that floats your boat if you didn't care for the canonical one. While there are plenty of reasons to dislike the epilogue, one of the most common complaints is that it's too tidy. It imagines that all the characters stayed more or less exactly the same as they were when they finished school. Ginny and Harry end up together, Hermione and Ron get married, and they come together to send their children (all of whom are named after main characters who have died) to Hogwarts.

Molly McArdie, writing at The Toast, imagines an ending more in line with the changes that happen in real life after high school. According to McArdie, Ron and Hermione eventually break up, and Hermione synthesizes her Muggle Studies with her time spent trying to free house elves from servitude, ultimately changing the way that wizards and Muggles work together. It's a cleaner evolution of her character than just becoming Minister of Magic in The Cursed Child, especially because Hermione's time at Hogwarts fighting injustice and discrimination is mostly ignored in Rowling's official epilogue.

Worst: Hermione is Harry's sister

Blame George Lucas for this one. Ever since Luke and Leia were revealed to be twins in Return of the Jedi, a secret sibling revelation has become a constant source of fan theories for just about everything. In this case, some fans believe that Harry and Hermione are secretly brother and sister. There's an extensive forum post that lays out every single bit of "evidence" to prove that the two are actually related. If you don't feel like wading through it, the reasoning largely boils down to the fact that the two characters seem to have a close relationship (almost as if they were friends) and that Lily and James could have had a secret child that they put up for adoption.

While it doesn't really change the text even if it was true, it definitely makes that dance in Deathly Hallows a bit more uncomfortable, especially since the theory alleges that Hermione knew about their sibling relationship from the beginning. Considering that Rowling herself has admitted that maybe Harry and Hermione should have gotten together romantically, that seems to be enough evidence to put this theory to bed as a simple misreading.