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The Dumbledore Theory That Explains Harry Potter's Strange Detention Scene

The mystery behind one of Hogwarts' most dangerous detentions may have been solved.

Throughout the Harry Potter series, Harry Potter (Daniel Radcliffe), despite being the hero prophesied to save the wizarding world from the Dark Lord Voldemort (Ralph Fiennes), gets into plenty of trouble at school, breaking basic rules at a pretty alarming rate overall. As a result, Harry lands in detention a lot, whether he's forced to go through gross Potions ingredients with Potions master Severus Snape (Alan Rickman) or is openly tortured by Ministry of Magic plant Dolores Umbridge (Imelda Staunton).

Early in the series — in its first installment Harry Potter and The Sorcerer's Stone — Harry and his classmates Hermione Granger (Emma Watson), Neville Longbottom (Matthew Lewis), and Draco Malfoy (Tom Felton) are all caught wandering Hogwarts after dark, earning them a shared detention. As it turns out, the detention is pretty dangerous — especially when you consider that the kids are only eleven years old — and sends them directly into the heart of Hogwarts' Forbidden Forest, home to all sorts of bloodthirsty creatures. However, there's a new theory as to why Hogwarts' headmaster, Albus Dumbledore, (played by the late Richard Harris in the first film) decided to send small children into a dark, dangerous forest. Here's the Dumbledore theory that explains Harry Potter's strange detention scene.

Here's why Dumbledore may have sent kids into the dangerous Forbidden Forest

Reddit user msnoname24 has a pretty brilliant theory as to why Dumbledore made this slightly alarming decision: that it was meant as a test for those involved, except for Slytherin bully Malfoy.

As msnoname24 put it, it's possible that Dumbledore placed these particular kids — specifically, Harry, Hermione, and Neville — in the Forbidden Forest to try to "toughen" them in advance of all the terrifying, dangerous situations they would face throughout the next several years. All along, Dumbledore knows that Harry is the "Chosen One" to defeat Voldemort, and by that point, he can tell that Harry and Hermione are close friends likely to stick together. Dumbledore also knows that Neville came very close to becoming the "Chosen One" mentioned in the prophecy about Voldemort... and could possibly complete Harry's mission one day. Ultimately, msnoname24 believes that Dumbledore used this detention as a test.

While that still seems like a pretty huge risk for the headmaster to take, you might want to remember that Dumbledore kept plenty of huge facts and secrets from Harry, leaving the "Chosen One" without much direct information in the wake of the headmaster's death... so weirdly, this move is straight out of Dumbledore's playbook. You can rewatch this detention scene in Sorcerer's Stone along with the other Potter films, all of which are available to rent or stream on major streaming platforms.