Harry Potter and the Series of Unfortunate Events

The first season of A Series of Unfortunate Events was recently released to the public on Netflix, and it provides us with eight episodes that bring every detail to life (and more) from the books, just like we dreamed the Harry Potter franchise would. This realization got me thinking of how similar these two franchises are.

Right off the bat, you’ve got orphaned children. The Baudelaires’ parents perished in a house fire from the start, destroying their life as they knew it. I believe we all know the story about the Boy Who Lived. Not quite the same route, but his parents were gone forever.




Since the Baudelaire children are underage, they have to live with a guardian. Count Olaf is a terrible actor who treats them like servants and is after their giant fortune. Harry, likewise, must live with his Uncle Vernon, who doesn’t want anything to do with Harry and treats him like a servant as well.

With each book, the children have a new guardian, after they’ve successfully managed to outwit Count Olaf at every turn. Harry must continue to live with Uncle Vernon while he’s not at Hogwarts, but each year at Hogwarts includes a new Defense Against the Dark Arts professor. The position is simply jinxed.

Also, to get out of their unfortunate circumstance, they rely on each other – the three of them. Sunny, the youngest, is known to have razor-sharp teeth that can carve just about anything. Klaus, the middle child, is the researcher. Violet, the eldest, is the inventor and is known to use a ribbon to tie her hair back when she’s planning.




Harry is known as the Chosen One, Hermione is the researcher, and Ron is the fierce strategist.  As a side note, both trios have a member who wears rounded glasses!

Plus, another comparison is in the name. A Series of Unfortunate Events puts the children in unfortunate circumstances, thickening the plot of the overarching series in each book. When confronted by Mr. Weasley in Prisoner of Azkaban, Harry states, “I don’t go looking for trouble. Trouble usually finds me.” Is it coincidental that Prisoner of Azkaban is also the book that began the darker tone that continues throughout the series?

Which brings us to the villain, Count Olaf. He is a man who can be described as ambitious, manipulative, and resourceful. Sounds like he embodies the Slytherin trope to a fault? He also has a theater troupe of goons at his disposal. Whom else do we know who has high ambitions, is a Slytherin, and has dedicated followers? Bingo! Voldemort.




The next similarity occurs near the end of the first season of Unfortunate Events. After the children go through a number of guardians, they are placed at a boarding school. From the looks of it, the boarding school will contain hidden secrets from the past and more commotion. With Potter, Hogwarts becomes his new home, filled with secrets of his own past and others.




Even the theme is similar. It’s darker as it proceeds, both in the cinematic palette scheme and the context of the plot. Also, both trios suffer from dismissive adults who sweep aside their arguments due to fear or disbelief.

The Baudelaires make their claim that the recurring stranger is Count Olaf, and it’s merely swept aside without a second thought because the adults blindly believe in the backstory of Count Olaf’s character. In Order of the Phoenix, it’s Harry who makes the claim that Voldemort is back. The Minister of Magic claims it cannot be true and instead blames the “notorious mass murderer Sirius Black.”

Lastly, they are both highly successful series that started out as best-selling novels and were most likely some part of our childhood. They may have been dubbed as “children’s books,” but they hold far more meaning than what meets the eye.

Have more comparisons? Keep an eye out for Season 2 and comment below with your thoughts!

Elizabeth Vasquez

Having a B.A. in English, credit as an editor for a prize-winning novella, and writing a novel allows me to have the title of “writer/editor”, right? I also love musicals, hiking, and making magic in my role at the Disneyland Resort in California!