MYTHTERY: Harry Should Have Always Seen Thestrals


Harry should have been able to see Thestrals since his first year.


If you do a quick Internet search for “Harry Potter plot holes,” you’ll eventually come across posts claiming that Harry Potter should have seen the Thestrals, the skeletal horse-like creatures that pull the carriages, way before Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix. Those who propagate this myth often cite the fact that Harry witnessed his mother’s murder at the hands of You-Know-Who and therefore, should have always been able to see the Thestrals, much like Luna Lovegood.

This mythtery is as out of fashion as a lime-green bowler hat.



While Harry did technically see his mother die, he did not understand what death was or what the loss of his parents meant for his future. Frankly, he was just too young to understand. After he was removed from his home in Godric’s Hollow, Harry simply grew up knowing that his parents died. By the time he was old enough to really comprehend what it means to die, the loss did not affect him in the same way. Think of it like knowing how to read. You learn the skill at a fairly young age, but at that age, you don’t understand (or frankly care) that your perception of the world has arguably changed forever. By the time you are old enough to comprehend how different your life would be if you were unable to read or write, the skill is ingrained in you like a fact. This explains why Harry did not see the Thestrals the moment he arrived at school.



Nevertheless, why couldn’t Harry see the winged animals at the end of Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire? J.K. Rowling herself cleared this up at the Edinburgh Book Festival on August 15, 2004, shortly after the release of Order of the Phoenix. At the event, Rowling answers fan questions, including why Harry could suddenly see the Thestrals beginning with Order of the Phoenix. Rowling claims she knew “from the word ‘go’ what was drawing the carriages.” She goes on to explain that the sudden and unexplained reveal of the Thestrals at the end of Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire would have been too jarring. In addition, their mysterious arrival at the beginning of Order of the Phoenix sets the tone for the rest of the novel. Most importantly, though, as anyone who has felt loss can tell you, there is a period of time after such a loss where the ramifications have not sunk in. As Rowling puts it, after the immediate shock, “it takes a little while to appreciate fully that you will never see that person again.”


– Myth Managed


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Lindsay Docken

I first learned about the Boy Who Lived when I was six years old and became hooked. Despite being a proud Gryffindor, I think I most relate to Newt Scamander because I'm also introverted and work with animals. Unfortunately, though, I've yet to come across any Nifflers!