Are J.K. Rowling’s retcons ruining Harry Potter?

Noted author creates controversial changes via Twitter.

J.K. Rowling, creator of the Harry Potter series

J.K. Rowling has become one of the most notorious retconners of our time. Retconning, or revising a work after it is published, is a frequent occurance on the Harry Potter book series via numerous tweets by the author on Twitter.

Fans of the series are often disappointed as Rowling frequently changes the series in ways that create plot holes and ruin the overall lore of the story. Typically, Rowling gets called out when her changes make little difference to the main story and just serve to be fan service, trying to appeal to whatever is relevant even when this story is long since over.

Rowling is most known for her constant changes from her Twitter account. From here, she casually adds world-changing details with just a few sentences. She does not seem to realize how harmful some of her tweets have been to the wizarding world canon. The most infamous change that Rowling has revealed is that Albus Dumbledore, headmaster of Hogwarts and one of the most respected wizards in all of the wizarding world, is gay, despite the fact that Rowling never mentions this in any of the books.

Even though he is such a crucial character to the story, Rowling never added those to the actual writing or plot, meaning that at this point it just seems like pointless, ineffective fan service. Twitter does not seem like it should be the place for such important changes, and if she really felt these details were important to the story, then perhaps she should implement them in a more prominent way.

Another way that Rowling has massively changed the story is through the overall hated Cursed Child series. Unfortunately for fans who have shown their distaste for the series, Rowling has proposed that the series should be considered canon. While Pottermore does have a section of the website dedicated to Cursed Child news, there never seems to be any mention of it in regard to the official wizarding world canon.

The story of #CursedChild should be considered canon, though. @jackthorne, John Tiffany (the director) and I developed it together.

— J.K. Rowling

Released in 2016, the Cursed Child is one of the most disliked pieces of work that Rowling has produced, primarily for the reason that so many changes took place that make absolutely no sense. One of the changes that the play has made includes the strange prominence and newfound efficiency of a shapeshifting potion, which previously took many weeks to brew, creating a major conflict in the main series. However, the Cursed Child merely pushes this issue to the side, completely ignoring the issue, and reducing the quality of the previous story by undermining the efforts of the protagonists. Secondly, and more horrifyingly is the inlcusion of a child of the evil Voldemort. Not only does the timing not make sense for a child of his daughter’s age to exist, but it also completely destroys the entire point of Voldemort. Voldemort, a being created without love, and with very little soul remaining, should not be able to produce something so pure. Giving Voldemort a child was one of the worst mistakes that Rowling could have made.

Not all of the changes that she has made are bad, however. For instance, fans are often quite pleased with the official Pottermore and new Wizarding World websites, as they are frequently adding new content to the backstory of the world. In contrast to the tweets and the Cursed Child, however, rather than creating numerous plot holes, these websites build upon what we already know. Instead of overlapping the old information, these new articles delve deeper into the lore of this complex world. For the last few years, Pottermore has been putting out new information about the Harry Potter series that comes straight from Rowling.

Not everything on Pottermore comes straight from Rowling. There are also positive opinion pieces, listicles, and compiled backstories of Rowling’s previous writings. Pottermore itself has claimed that all the information it publishes is canon, and typically these articles do not cause any harm to the series. These sites have everything a Harry Potter fan could ever ask for, and is truly what retconning is all about. This is the only way that the series should continue: not ruined, but rather expanded and detailed. Pottermore is a real source of Harry Potter information.