Harry Potter: 5 Wildly Dark Canon Facts That Rowling Confirmed

There's a lot of wild stuff in "Harry Potter," which is a serious understatement. When students like Harry Potter (Daniel Radcliffe), Ron Weasley (Rupert Grint), and Hermione Granger (Emma Watson) initially arrive at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, they try on an enchanted hat that tells them whether they're brave, cunning, intelligent, or a Hufflepuff. Mandrakes are plants with roots shaped like human babies, and their screaming can kill a grown man. Witches and wizards can expand tents, cars, and handbags to provide endless room, and they can also make meals with enchanted cookware. Love and luck potions exist, children fly around playing an extremely dangerous sport on brooms, and magical folk can teleport at the drop of the hat (but they might accidentally leave an eyebrow or scoop of flesh behind in the process). Also, Hogwarts is home to a giant tree that can beat you to death. 

Suffice it to say, there's a lot going on in the "Harry Potter" franchise — and thanks to the seemingly endless possibilities of the wizarding world, fans of the franchise came up with a lot of possible theories as to what else might be true. Author Joanne Kathleen Rowling has confirmed some beliefs on the official online "Harry Potter" encyclopedia Wizarding World, so fans actually have a few answers regarding long-held questions and theories. From dementors to a spoiled brat's change of heart, here are just a few "Harry Potter" theories that were ultimately confirmed.

Azkaban serves more than one purpose

In the third book and film, "Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban," Hogwarts students learn about dementors firsthand when the evil creatures show up at the castle to hunt for escaped wizard convict Sirius Black (Gary Oldman). Normally, they guard the wizarding prison Azkaban — from which Sirius, who's actually innocent, escaped — but despite misgivings from Hogwarts' headmaster Albus Dumbledore, they spend Harry's entire third year floating around and bumming everybody out.

These soul-sucking, depression-causing creatures are dangerous to all wizards — and Wizarding World reveals that wizards took advantage of dementors breeding at the remote fortress that later became Azkaban. As Rowling explains, former Minister for Magic Damocles Rowle overhauled the wizard prison industrial complex with Azkaban and got rid of plans for a prison elsewhere: "Sadistic by nature, Rowle ... insisted on using Azkaban. He claimed that the Dementors living there were an advantage: they could be harnessed as guards, saving the Ministry time, trouble and expense." 

Rowle's successor Eldritch Diggory tried to undo this move, but apparently, it was no use. "Diggory established a committee to explore alternatives to Azkaban, or at least to remove the Dementors as guards," Rowling writes. "Experts explained to him that the only reason the Dementors were (mostly) confined to the island was that they were being provided with a constant supply of souls on which to feed. If deprived of prisoners, they were likely to abandon the prison and head for the mainland." Azkaban doesn't just keep prisoners locked up ... but keeps dementors away from the wizarding population.

Voldemort actually created unintentional Horcruxes

As Harry and Dumbledore learn in the penultimate installment of the franchise, "Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince," Voldemort worked hard to ensure that he couldn't truly be killed ... by creating Horcruxes and splitting pieces of his soul between various magical artifacts. The only way to create a Horcrux is through cold-blooded murder, which is a thing Voldemort kind of does a lot, so it stands to reason that he would occasionally create Horcruxes without fully realizing it. One is, of course, Harry himself. After killing Harry's parents while Harry is just a baby, Voldemort tries to finish off his murder spree with infanticide, but his Killing Curse rebounds and a piece of his soul embeds itself into Harry. (This explains his scar, why it hurts him sometimes, and why Harry and Voldemort have such a strange connection.) There was another accidental Horcrux, though — Professor Quirrell (Ian Hart).

See, Voldemort spends the entire first book and movie, "Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone," living on the back of Quirrell's head — and on Wizarding World, Rowling confirmed that he also had a little Horcrux in him. "Quirrell is, in effect, turned into a temporary Horcrux by Voldemort," she writes. "He is greatly depleted by the physical strain of fighting the far stronger, evil soul inside him. Quirrell's body manifests burns and blisters during his fight with Harry due to the protective power Harry's mother left in his skin when she died for him. When the body Voldemort and Quirrell are sharing is horribly burned by contact with Harry, the former flees just in time to save himself, leaving the damaged and enfeebled Quirrell to collapse and die."

That weird baby creature in Deathly Hallows is really significant

Remember how things in "Harry Potter" are weird? Well, here's a really, really weird thing. At the end of "Deathly Hallows," Harry learns about the Horcrux that's been inside him all along and sacrifices himself to Voldemort, destroying that Horcrux in the process and weakening the Dark Lord's defenses. He doesn't die, though, but ends up meeting up with a long-dead Dumbledore in some sort of limbo, where they stumble across a weird infant creature with flayed skin, who's helpless and dying underneath a bench in what appears to be a ghostly train station.

Yes, that baby is Voldemort's final piece of soul. Professor Edward Kern, who wrote "The Wisdom of Harry Potter: What Our Favorite Hero Teaches Us About Moral Choices," confirmed that Rowling told him the baby represents Voldemort's broken soul and then posted it to an FAQ on her website (though the page is no longer available). What Rowling said to Kern and her readers, though, was this: "I've been asked this a LOT. [The baby] is the last piece of soul Voldemort possesses. When Voldemort attacks Harry, they both fall temporarily unconscious, and both their souls – Harry's undamaged and healthy, Voldemort's stunted and maimed – appear in the limbo where Harry meets Dumbledore."

The Chamber of Secrets requires constant upkeep

If you're a Dark Wizard and you're in charge of an enormous, secret chamber — maybe it's even called the Chamber of Secrets — that's home to a giant basilisk capable of killing a grown man with a single look, you have to expect a certain amount of upkeep. Over the years, though, fans idly wondered why the entrance to said Chamber, which was originally built by Hogwarts founder Salazar Slytherin, is hidden in a bathroom when bathrooms didn't always exist at Hogwarts.

Well, alongside the bombshell that wizards used to go pee on the floor and then magic it away before plumbing existed, Rowling revealed on Wizarding World that several students who happen to be descendants of Slytherin have served as caretakers to the Chamber for years. One such student was Corvinus Riddle, an antecedent of Tom Riddle (known, obviously, as Voldemort later on), and Rowling says he checked on the Chamber before Harry and Tom's time at Hogwarts.

"There is clear evidence that the Chamber was opened more than once between the death of Slytherin and the entrance of Tom Riddle in the twentieth century," Rowling writes. "When first created, the Chamber was accessed through a concealed trapdoor and a series of magical tunnels. However, when Hogwarts' plumbing became more elaborate in the eighteenth century ... the entrance to the Chamber was threatened, being located on the site of a proposed bathroom. The presence in school at the time of a student called Corvinus Gaunt – direct descendant of Slytherin, and antecedent of Tom Riddle – explains how the simple trapdoor was secretly protected, so that those who knew how could still access the entrance to the Chamber even after newfangled plumbing had been placed on top of it."

This big moment explains the change in Dudley Dursley's personality

The Dursleys are antagonists right from the beginning of "Harry Potter" — after all, they do treat an orphan like total dirt and shove him into a closet for the first ten years of his life. After Harry's parents are murdered, his mother's sister Petunia (Fiona Shaw), her husband Vernon (Richard Griffiths), and their son Dudley (Harry Melling) end up with a new addition to their family, and to say that none of them are thrilled about Harry's presence is a huge understatement.

Dudley, though, eventually has a strange change of heart ... and Rowling confirmed it's related to his run-in with Dementors in his Muggle neighborhood. When the Ministry sends dementors to spook Harry, Dudley ends up in their crosshairs, and after that, he's much kinder to Harry, even saying a heartfelt goodbye when the two part ways in "Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows." In a 2007 interview with fan site The Leaky Cauldron, Rowling revealed why. Asked by a superfan about Dudley's worst memory — which is what people affected by dementors involuntarily see — Rowling said, "I think that when Dudley was attacked by the Dementors he saw himself, for the first time, as he really was. This was an extremely painful, but ultimately [salutary] lesson, and began the transformation in him."