The Most Unexpected Things To Happen In Harry Potter

Whether you were already a die-hard fan of the books, or your first exposure to the wizarding world was through the film series, the "Harry Potter" franchise frequently surprised, enthralled, and delighted with its twists and turns, offering a host of unexpected and truly magical moments.

Those moments where you let out an audible gasp, grip the chair in fright, or let out an uninhibited cheer, are some of the things that make this series so memorable. The series' consistent ability to keep audiences on the edge of their seats is why it has continued to delight fans old and new for more than 20 years.

The story of Harry, the boy wizard who must face and defeat the demons of his extraordinary past while studying at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, is one that continually surprises. While nothing compares to experiencing these moments for the first time, some gain even more significance when you rewatch them, changing the way you viewed certain events and characters previously. Be warned, however, as major plot spoilers lie ahead as we look back at some of those unexpected moments in the "Harry Potter" series that will stick with you long after the credits roll.

Voldemort's face reveal

One of the first big shocks of the series happens in "Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone," which reveals that Lord Voldemort has been closer to Harry than we could've imagined. Much of Harry's first year at Hogwarts is spent in awe and wonder, as he makes friends and experiences magic for the very first time.

While the stakes are lower than in later films, there is the sense that something sinister lurks within the school. As such, Harry, Ron, and Hermione are determined to get to the bottom of it. With a heavy dose of childhood optimism, the trio investigates the Sorcerer's Stone –- trying to uncover why this object is being kept in the castle and who is trying to steal it.

After Harry encounters a cloaked figure in the Forbidden Forest, he learns that Voldemort, or a version of him at least, is still lurking in the shadows and suspects that Snape is trying to steal the stone for Voldemort. However, nothing can prepare you for the reveal that comes shortly after. Inching closer to the stone, Harry finds that unsuspecting Professor Quirrell hides a dark secret under his turban — Voldemort. The sight of this ghostly apparition on the back of his head is horrifying and one of the first gasp-out-loud moments of the series. Quirrell was the last person you would suspect to be harboring Voldemort and this twist, along with the arresting visuals, make this moment stand out.

Tom Riddle is Lord Voldemort

Following the shocking reveal of Voldemort in "Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone," the second installment delivers a further twist in the villain's story. In "Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets," a monster is attacking the students and it transpires that the mysterious chamber that it inhabits has been opened. While trying to uncover the secrets of the chamber, Harry finds a blank diary and is shocked to find that it responds when he writes in it.

Through the diary, Harry learns about a former student, Tom Marvolo Riddle, who was at Hogwarts when the chamber was opened previously. The monster in the chamber killed a girl called Myrtle, and Tom was instrumental in framing Hagrid and his pet spider for the murder. Determined to prove Hagrid's innocence, and save Ginny Weasley after she is taken by the monster, Harry enters the chamber, where he finds Tom.

Speaking with Tom, Harry learns that it was Tom who had bewitched Ginny to open the Chamber of Secrets and that he commanded the basilisk to attack the students. The most shocking revelation is yet to come, and when Voldemort is brought into the conversation, Tom reveals that he is Voldemort, conjuring the letters of his name into the air before rearranging them to spell out "I am Lord Voldemort." This moment –- and the diary in particular –- end up having huge significance later in the series, and it is one that never fails to surprise.

The truth about Sirius Black

In "Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban," there is one particular standout scene where twist after twist is unveiled, with consequences that stretch far beyond this film. Led to believe that the mass murderer Sirius Black has chosen Harry as his next target, the gang finds themselves in the haunted Shrieking Shack after Ron is dragged there by a large black dog.

The first surprise is that the dog is Sirius in animagus form, which leads Harry face to face with the man who reportedly betrayed his parents to Voldemort. After confronting Sirius, Professor Remus Lupin rushes into the room. Harry, Ron, and Hermione are shocked to discover that the two are friends, and it doesn't end there. Perhaps the most surprising revelation is that Ron's pet rat Scabbers is, in fact, Peter Pettigrew using his animagus form, and it was Pettigrew –- not Sirius –- that betrayed the Potters to Voldemort.

The velocity with which these secrets come tumbling is dizzying, and the whole thing unfolds almost as if it were a self-contained one-act play. With the cream of the British acting crop, including David Thewlis, Alan Rickman, Gary Oldman, and Timothy Spall, all appearing in the same scene, it is remarkably well-performed and masterfully directed by Alfonso Cuarón. The truth about Sirius has massive ripple effects, for Harry in particular, and changes everything he thought he knew about the events leading up to his parents' murder.

Voldemort returns

From the start of the series, there has always been a lingering dread that Voldemort would return. His appearances in "Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone" and "Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets" emphasize the threat that he still poses. In "Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire," we see this becoming reality when Voldemort physically returns.

After their supposed triumph in the Triwizard Tournament, Harry and Cedric are transported to a graveyard by the trophy, replaced by a portkey –- something Harry later discovers was set up by Barty Crouch Jr., masquerading as Mad-Eye Moody. Unsure whether this is still part of the challenge, things take a horrifying turn when Cedric is murdered. Peter Pettigrew approaches holding something that is placed into a cauldron. A dark spell is concocted, involving Pettigrew's flesh, Harry's blood, and the bones of Voldemort's father, resulting in the shocking moment where Voldemort materializes. Not only is he physically back, but we soon see some of his loyal Death Eaters apparate in the graveyard.

Although Voldemort's return had been teased in the films leading up to this point, there is still something unnerving and unexpected in seeing this person –- who we have been conditioned to fear for so long -– now able to torture and torment Harry in the flesh. From this point, things would never be the same for Harry as the terrifying reality of Voldemort's return changes the course, and the tone, of the rest of the series.

Mad-Eye Moody is not who we think he is

When we are introduced to Polyjuice Potion in "Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets," there is the sense that this concoction -– which can transform one being temporarily into another –- will play an important part in future films. In "Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire," we see the repercussions of the potion being used with sinister intent.

The position of Defense Against the Dark Arts teacher doesn't have the best track record, and in Harry's fourth year, it is Alastor "Mad-Eye" Moody who takes up the tainted post. His unconventional methods -– including demonstrating the "three unforgivable curses" on a spider –- create a stir. However, there is no reason to suspect that he is anyone other than who he says he is. Harry being a competitor in The Triwizard Tournament is a particularly contentious issue, but Moody appears to be one of the few that supports him, surreptitiously helping him with the tasks.

After Harry's run-in with Voldemort, Moody rushes Harry away from the maze. He is soon ambushed by Dumbledore, Professor McGonagall, and Snape, whereupon the effects of the Polyjuice Potion start to wear off, and it is revealed that Moody is the Death Eater, Barty Crouch Jr. The real Moody is soon discovered, and the truth revealed that it was Crouch Jr. working on behalf of Voldemort to ensure Harry would win the tournament to facilitate Voldemort's return.

The Dementors in Little Whinging

While Harry doesn't see eye-to-eye with the Dursleys (his only blood relatives), there is still the sense that when he is away from Hogwarts for the summer break, he is safe with them. The town of Little Whinging where Harry and the Dursleys live is something of a haven, a fictional idyllic Surrey village where very little happens and where Harry is protected.

This all changes in "Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix," however, when the Dementors make an unwelcome appearance in Little Whinging, posing a very real threat to Harry and his cousin, Dudley. After Dudley and his friends taunt Harry about his parents, a sudden darkness engulfs them and they run for safety. Retreating to an underpass, there is a highly effective jump-scare as a Dementor unexpectedly appears and starts to draw the happiness out of Dudley and Harry.

Harry saves them both with the powerful Patronus charm, something that lands him in hot water with the Ministry for using underage magic -– even though it was in self-defense. This moment is particularly unexpected and shocking, as we haven't really seen the dangerous effects of the magical world on muggles before. However, this wouldn't be the last time we see the two realities collide, as seen with the memorable bridge attack in "Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince."

Bathilda Bagshot transforms into Nagini

Following Dumbledore's death in "Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince," Harry, Hermione, and Ron are tasked with finding the remaining Horcruxes needed to kill Voldemort, with very little guidance or help as to where they might be. Bathilda Bagshot, a renowned magical historian, is supposedly the person who knows Dumbledore's backstory better than anyone, so Harry and Hermione head to Godric's Hollow to try and find her.

While in the graveyard of Godric's Hollow, Harry and Hermione are aware that they are being watched by an old woman, who they discover is Bathilda Bagshot. Accompanying her back to her cottage, Bathilda doesn't utter a word, and the eerie quiet of the cottage seems to suggest that something is not quite right. Although seen off-screen, Hermione discovers Bathilda's corpse, meaning that whoever is with Harry is not the real Bathilda.

In one of the most arresting images of the series, Bathilda's face withers and decomposes before Harry's eyes, transforming into Nagini, Voldemort's snake. There are many shocking and unexpected reveals throughout "Harry Potter," but this is undoubtedly one of the most terrifying. While there is the sense that something is a bit off about Bathilda, no one could've expected what she would transform into.

Snape kills Dumbledore

Many characters in the series have that sense of being untouchable, and Dumbledore was certainly one of those. In "Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone," Hermione tells Harry and Ron how the one wizard Voldemort has always feared is Dumbledore, and it is emphasized that as long as Dumbledore is around, Harry is safe. While Dumbledore's presence doesn't stop bad things from happening at the castle, he does still provide that reassurance and sense of safety for Harry in particular.

In "Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince," the threat to Dumbledore's life grows greater and greater as Draco Malfoy is tasked with killing him. Even after several close-calls involving a poisoned drink and a cursed necklace, no one believes that Dumbledore will be killed, which makes it all the more shocking when it does happen.

The circumstances of Dumbledore's death are equally surprising as we are led to believe it will be Draco that does the deed. However, earlier in the film, Snape makes an unbreakable vow with Draco's mother that he will kill Dumbledore himself if Draco fails. Even with this information, it is incredibly shocking to see Snape intervene when Draco falters, doing the unthinkable and killing Dumbledore. The shock of seeing Snape carry this out, coupled with the idea that Hogwarts no longer has Dumbledore keeping it safe, makes this one of the most staggering moments in "Harry Potter."

Snape's memories

No character in the "Harry Potter" series has a greater character arc than Severus Snape. As the audience, our first impressions align with those of the main trio, with his severe outward appearance leading us to believe that we should be suspicious of him. Seeds of doubt on this are sown throughout, even as early as "Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone," where we learn that Snape was trying to protect Harry against Professor Quirrell's curse, causing us to question those first impressions.

There are several further twists in the tale. Snape is revealed to be part of the underground Order of the Phoenix fighting against Voldemort, although audiences are shocked again when Snape's allegiances change to Voldemort's side, culminating in the terrible moment when Snape kills Dumbledore.

Just as it seems there is no turning back for Snape, "Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2" offers a late redemption for him, tragically only coming to light after Voldemort kills him. Through the Pensieve, Harry is able to view one of Snape's deepest secrets –- that he had been in love with Lily Potter and has been trying to protect Harry this whole time. Even his involvement in Dumbledore's death is explained when we see Dumbledore instruct Snape that he must be the one to kill him. Not only is this one of the most unexpected moments of the series, but it completely alters Snape's arc when you look back on the previous films.

Harry's death and resurrection

Snape's memories not only give the unexpected revelation that Snape was in love with Harry's mother but also the shocking discovery that Harry is a Horcrux. Harry is imbued with a portion of Voldemort's life essence by accident after Lily Potter stands between the Dark Lord and her son, causing the curse to rebound. With this piece of information now in the light, Harry realizes that to defeat Voldemort, he must die so that the fragment of Voldemort that exists within him can also die.

After an emotional farewell with Hermione and Ron, Harry bravely walks to the Forbidden Forest to accept his fate. As the hero of the series, even the idea that Harry might die is startling, but at this point, it is hard to see another outcome. Standing before Voldemort, Harry is killed (or so we think) before being transported to a heavenly looking King's Cross Station. Met with the horrifying image of a bloodied fetus-like Voldemort, Harry also sees and converses with Dumbledore who informs him that the dying figure he saw was the part of Voldemort that was in Harry.

The surprises keep coming as Dumbledore lets Harry know that he can go back if he wants to. Back in the mortal realm, Hagrid carries what appears to be Harry's dead body back to Hogwarts. Continuing the rollercoaster of emotions, Harry shocks everyone when he gets up, very much alive to help in a battle that is far from over.

Neville Longbottom: Hero

From the very beginning, Neville Longbottom has been considered a laughing stock. Teased by his classmates for his forgetful tendencies, he gets a big moment in "Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone" when he stands up to Harry, Ron, and Hermione, earning Gryffindor the crucial points they needed to win the House Cup.

It is in "Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2" that Neville becomes truly heroic, with a moment so wonderfully unexpected that it remains a standout scene of the entire series. With Harry dead in Hagrid's arms, Voldemort goads the students of Hogwarts to join him. When Neville steps forward, everyone collectively holds their breath as Voldemort and his followers mock him. Neville seizes the opportunity to stand up to the Dark Lord, giving a rousing speech about how good will always triumph over evil.

If this moment doesn't have you cheering, then Neville's heroic actions following this will. After his speech, Voldemort stuns Neville, who wakes up bleary-eyed in The Great Hall to find the sword of Gryffindor next to him. With Voldemort weakened, and only one Horcrux remaining, Neville grasps the sword and strikes the final blow to Nagini, meaning that Voldemort can now be defeated for good. Giving this moment to Neville instead of Harry, Ron, or Hermione is one of the most surprising elements of the series and a massive win for the underdogs. Especially those who elect to fight the evilest wizard alive while wearing a cardigan.

Molly Weasley gets her revenge on Bellatrix

In a moment of pure genius, the final moments of the Battle of Hogwarts bring us this unexpected duel between the matriarch of the Weasley family, Molly, and the notoriously wicked Bellatrix Lestrange. Throughout the series, we have seen Bellatrix perform a whole host of evil deeds. Responsible for the murders of Sirius Black and Dobby, to name but a few, Bellatrix's comeuppance has been a long time coming. On the other hand, Molly has been on the periphery of most of the big action scenes, and we have rarely seen her outside of a motherly role.

Having already lost her son Fred, the battle becomes personal for Molly. When Bellatrix threatens her only daughter, Ginny, Molly decides she's not going to take it anymore. Standing between Ginny and Bellatrix, Molly delivers the unforgettable line, "not my daughter, you b***h!" Having seen Molly previously chastizing her children for their mischief, it is unbelievably satisfying to hear her unfiltered thoughts about Bellatrix -– speaking what we have all been thinking for the last few films.

The two continue to battle, but Molly's desire to protect her children is stronger than Bellatrix's wickedness, and the evil witch is finally defeated. The satisfied grin on Molly's face following this is one of the franchise's greatest moments, and if this doesn't prompt you to give a standing ovation, then nothing will.