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.

  • 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

More in Life

David Dastmalchian (back left), King Shark (back center) and Daniela Melchior (back right), with John Cena (front left) and Idris Elba (front right) in “The Suicide Squad.” (Warner Bros. Pictures/TNS)
Director James Gunn takes ‘Suicide Squad’ on maniacal romp

He brings a new comic energy to the violent comic book adaptation, a follow-up to a much-panned 2016 film.

Workers prepare to offload Dungeness crab from a boat on Pier 45 in the Fisherman's Wharf district in San Francisco, California, on Jan. 13, 2021. MUST CREDIT: Bloomberg photo by David Paul Morris.
No crabs, no scallops: Seafood is vanishing from menus in U.S.

Seafood prices have risen about 11% over the past year, thanks to congested ports, not enough fishermen and soaring demand.

Sandra Oh as the title character in "Killing Eve." MUST CREDIT: Gareth Gatrell, BBC America
August TV: 4 new shows we can’t wait to see

We’re still more than a month away from the start of the new fall broadcast season, but that doesn’t mean there isn’t anything to watch in August.

Adam Driver in "Annette." (Kris Dewitte/Amazon Studios/TNS)
Adam Driver stars in ‘Annette,’ a darkly strange musical

Director Leos Carax’s movie won raves at the Cannes Film Festival; your mileage may vary.

Yogoman Burning Band will perform Jamaican and New Orleans dance rhythms Aug. 6-7 as part of the Bands, Brews and Bowling event at Evergreen Bowling in Everett. (Yogoman Burning Band)
All about music: Schedule of concerts around Snohomish County

The listings include Bands, Brews and Bowling at Evergreen Lanes in Everett.

Laura Smith, with husband Tom, makes Danielle Lam laugh after being presented with a check for $10,000 from The Prize Patrol from Publishers Clearing House on Wednesday, July 28, 2021 in Mukilteo, Washington. (Andy Bronson / The Herald)
‘Holy roses!’ A day in the life of the legendary Prize Patrol

Publishers Clearing House surprised a Mukilteo couple with a sweepstakes prize, flowers and balloons.

Cricket & Snail, a violin and accordion duo from Prague featuring Lucie and James Carlson, is scheduled to perform Aug. 6 at Cafe Zippy in Everett. (Cricket & Snail)
Where to hear live music in Snohomish County nightclubs

The listings include Engel’s Pub, Mirkwood Public House and Port Gardner Bay Winery shows.

Kermet Apio will perform stand-up at the Edmonds Center for the Arts on Sept. 9. (YouTube)
Theater, dance and comedy shows around Snohomish County

The listings include Historic Everett Theatre, Edmonds Center for the Arts and Thumbnail Theater shows.

Nathan Welton/ Dreamtime Images
Photographer David Welton’s work has appeared in the South Whidbey Record and The Daily Herald.
The camera is Whidbey Island man’s second calling

After retiring from a career in medicine, David Welton of Langley focuses on his first love: photography

Most Read