The J.K. Rowling meme starts with “No one” and is followed by the author’s random Harry Potter fake fact. We would share some of the more popular ones, but they’re NSFW. (Sarah L. Voisin / Washington Post)

The J.K. Rowling meme starts with “No one” and is followed by the author’s random Harry Potter fake fact. We would share some of the more popular ones, but they’re NSFW. (Sarah L. Voisin / Washington Post)

How J.K. Rowling’s endless updates to Harry Potter became a meme

She keeps adding new factoids about the Wizarding World into the official canon. Fans don’t like it.

  • By Sarah L. Voisin Washington Post
  • Sunday, February 3, 2019 1:30am
  • Life

After reading a book on space as a teen, I learned that some scientists believe that the universe is expanding so much that, one day, it might collapse on us. The thought used to give me nightmares. I googled this for about 40 minutes today and learned that the current scientific literature is way more complicated than my early-2000s science book for teens. Plus, everyone knows that the sun is going to torch the Earth way before the universe ends.

Anyway, welcome to my article about a Harry Potter meme, one that burns the creator of the wildly popular franchise for refusing to stop expanding the Hogwarts universe.

The meme: J. K. Rowling can’t move on

The meme format is simple: You create a fictional scenario in which J.K. Rowling, the author of the Harry Potter series, keeps adding new factoids about the Wizarding World into the official canon of Harry Potter, unprompted.

Why is this meme happening?

When the last Harry Potter book came out, most passionate fans thought they’d spend years grappling with what to do with themselves without new Potter stories to look forward to. The opposite turned out to be true.

Instead, Rowling wouldn’t stop adding to her universe, confronting some fans with a different challenge. On message boards and videos, in fan art and fan fiction, they had taken the world she had created and made it their own. As the author revealed new details about her characters, they had to reconcile Rowling’s vision with their imaginations.

I wrote about all this in 2016 after Rowling launched Pottermore, a membership-based website that functioned like an official encyclopedia of the Hogwarts universe. On that site, and in tweets, Rowling informed her fans of essential facts: Ron Weasley’s “patronus” is a Jack Russell terrier, Moaning Myrtle’s full name is Myrtle Elizabeth Warren, and Harry Potter’s uncle loves “Top Gear.”

At the time, fans were grappling with the release of “The Cursed Child,” a Rowling-endorsed play set when the original trio of the books were all grown up. They celebrated some details, like the casting of a black actress as Hermione, but the play got a mixed reception. One disappointed fan, who had spent years reading fan fiction about adult Harry and the gang, told me that reading the script “felt like I was reading a worse version of things I’d seen done for years.”

Some fans felt uneasy about Rowling’s additions because they felt like retroactive attempts to make her original books more diverse. Several told me that the creators of Harry Potter fan fiction had already picked up the slack, and Rowling was late to the party.

In a video that went viral in October, popular YouTuber Gus Johnson captured the frustration some fans felt watching Rowling tinker with her characters: “It seems like you’re changing them after the fact so that you could seem more inclusive and get good press.”

And then there was the tweet from Pottermore about how wizards pooped their robes:

“Hogwarts didn’t always have bathrooms. Before adopting Muggle plumbing methods in the eighteenth century, witches and wizards simply relieved themselves wherever they stood, and vanished the evidence.”

Not long after that, the internet’s patience with Rowling’s constantly expanding Harry Potter universe collapsed, giving us the meme.

What does Rowling think about the meme?

Rowling hasn’t responded to the meme specifically, but she has, to some degree, addressed the criticisms beneath it.

The topic came up most recently in the lead-up to “Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald,” a prequel to the Harry Potter series. The film reveals that Nagini, a snake who was perpetually by Voldemort’s side in the original series, was actually once a human woman. In the film, South Korean actress Claudia Kim plays the human Nagini.

The revelation that the villain’s subservient pet was actually a cursed Asian woman didn’t sit well with parts of the Potter fan base. When one fan tweeted at Rowling, accusing her of trying to score “woke points” with the casting choice, Rowling responded by talking about the origins of the name “Nagini”:

“The Naga are snake-like mythical creatures of Indonesian mythology, hence the name ‘Nagini.’ They are sometimes depicted as winged, sometimes as half-human, half-snake. Indonesia comprises a few hundred ethnic groups, including Javanese, Chinese and Betawi. Have a lovely day”

Talk to us

> Give us your news tips.

> Send us a letter to the editor.

> More Herald contact information.

More in Life

Greenbank resident Kristi O’Donnell admires a patch of rhododendrons at the side of Highway 525 that she helped save nearly 20 years ago. (Photo by David Welton)
Whidbey Island woman watches the fruits of her labor blossom each spring

Motorists on Highway 525 get to see rhododendrons bloom each year because of Kristi O’Donnell’s efforts 20 years ago.

A Mukilteo Speedway sign hangs at an intersection along the road in Mukilteo. (Ryan Berry / The Herald)
Mukilteo Speedway name change is off to a bumpy start

The city’s initial crack at renaming the main drag got over 1,500 responses. Most want to keep the name.

2024 Lexus RZ 300e Luxury (Photo provided by Lexus)
2024 Lexus RZ 300e Luxury

RZ 300e delivers a solid, satisfying ride with performance characteristics and road trip manners.

The 2024 Kia Sorento has an upright hood and squared off edges, with distinctive daytime running lights. (Photo provided by Kia)
Kia Sorento three-row SUV is revamped for 2024

Styling, infotainment tech and a new rugged-looking trim level boost the midsize SUV’s magnetism.

Pippin the Biewer Terrier sits in the lap of her owner Kathy West on Monday, May 20, 2024, at West’s home in Marysville, Washington. (Ryan Berry / The Herald)
Marysville’s ‘top dog,’ on 48-kibble-a-day diet, shines at Westminster

Fame hasn’t turned this Biewer Terrier’s head or nose: in her spare time she’s a lap dog, hiking buff and bunny chaser.

American Airlines changed my flight, but won’t give me a refund

The airline suggested it would offer Neil Gupta a refund, then it backtracked. Will he ever get his money back?

Soaking in the opulence of thermal baths is Budapest at its best

My readers often report that the thermal baths were their top Hungarian experience. Pro tip: Bring a towel from your hotel.

Life is hard, yes, but also fleeting. To find happiness, live for today.

As my father used to say: “We’re not getting out of here alive.” So try to appreciate each day for the gift it truly is.

Sarah McLachlan performs during WE Day in Toronto on Thursday September 19, 2019. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chris Young
Music, theater and more: What’s happening in Snohomish County

Scottish band Nazareth will rock Everett and Sarah McLachlan will open Chateau Ste. Michelle’s summer concert series.

Tony Cladusbid, co-owner of the Beaver Tales Coffee franchise, watches over the canoe racing at the Penn Cove Water Festival on Saturday. (Photo by Sam Fletcher)
More than coffee: Swinomish Native shares family history and wisdom

Tony Cladusbid is the co-owner of Beaver Tales Coffee in Coupeville. He recently changed his name to honor his heritage.

Cast-iron sign offers 3 simple steps for safety in case a train’s a comin’

Advising people to stop, look and listen, this old sign is more instructive than newer X-shaped railroad crossing signs.

Support local journalism

If you value local news, make a gift now to support the trusted journalism you get in The Daily Herald. Donations processed in this system are not tax deductible.