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The Harry Potter Character Only Book Fans Know Had An Even Bigger Role

While the Harry Potter films gave audiences plenty of wizards and witches to love, the filmmakers faced the difficult task of having to cut out or reduce the backstories of many of the books' beloved characters. The decision to downsize is understandable considering how condensed a film adaptation must be, but one character who played a larger role in the books than the films is worth knowing.

If you have only seen the films, you'll still know Harry's neighbor, Arabella Figg (or Mrs. Figg) from The Order of the Phoenix. She first appears in the film's opening sequence after Dudley and Harry are attacked by dementors. After Harry successfully fends them off, Mrs. Figg appears and, Harry, thinking his neighbor is unaware of magic, hides his wand. To Harry's shock, Mrs. Figg tells him to keep his wand out and soon reveals Dumbledore assigned her to keep watch over Harry. She also shows up to Harry's trial, serving as a witness to defend Harry's use of magic outside of Hogwarts to the Wizengamot. 

That's about the extent of Arabella Figg's participation in the film series. The books are another matter, entirely.

Mrs. Figg was braver than most Harry Potter fans realize

The books reveal that Mrs. Figg is a squib (a person born to at least one magical parent, but is unable to produce magic) and that she is also an original member of The Order of the Phoenix.

Mrs. Figg babysat Harry every year on Dudley's birthday, often boring him with pictures of her cats (part-kneazles). In the films she is portrayed as a kind and simple person, but in the books she comes off more bitter, and purposefully makes Harry dislike her so that the Dursleys will continue to allow her to keep an eye on him. "I was to keep an eye on you but not say anything. You were too young," she told him. "I'm sorry I gave you such a miserable time, Harry, but the Dursleys would never have let you come if they'd thought you enjoyed it. It wasn't easy, you know ... "

In the film version of Order of the Phoenix, Mrs. Figg lives on Privet Drive, while in the books she lives on Wisteria Walk. She's often overlooked as one of the bravest characters in the series. Fans of the character on reddit started a thread praising Mrs. Figg for her bravery in joining the Order and defending Harry for years despite her inability to use magic. It's quite an accomplishment to take on Voldemort when, as she tells Harry, she "never so much as transfigured a teabag."