On July 7, 2011, at the Deathly Hallows, Part 2 World Premiere, J.K. Rowling had an iconic and important message for fans: “Hogwarts will always be there to welcome you home.”
It came at a turning point for the fandom. With both the books and films completed, it looked like Harry Potter was over. Her message was partly a goodbye and partly a motherly reminder: Though our time with Harry was over, we could always return to her Wizarding World should we need it.
Fans were sad to see the “big” releases come to an end. There was nothing left to look forward to, we thought. And we were right to an extent: The years after Deathly Hallows’s 2007 release had been slow save for the release of the remaining movies. “How could things ramp up again?” we thought. “Nah, it’s over.”
But the past decade ended up being anything but slow, and today we know that the fandom’s future is bright. Unlike what happened with the Twilight, Hunger Games, and Divergent fandoms, Harry Potter has endured thanks to insanely good storytelling, a one-of-a-kind community, and an author who has learned how to balance her fans’ thirst for more with resisting overdoing it.
After taking a well-earned break from the Harry Potter world for a couple years after Deathly Hallows was published, J.K. Rowling is back and appears ready to keep this fandom flowing for another decade, if not longer. Pottermore has turned into a hub for all things Wizarding World; her Twitter account is frequently the source of enticing new information; the theme parks are growing; new books like the Illustrated Series give us fresh takes on books that are beginning to turn 20; Fantastic Beasts has four more movies in the pipeline.
Point is, spokes continue to be added to this fandom’s wheels — this train is strong and getting stronger. Here are the 10 biggest moments for the Harry Potter fandom in the years that followed the publication of Deathly Hallows.
10) The Gay Dumbledore announcement
Arguably the biggest revelation about the Harry Potter series in the post-Deathly Hallows era, J.K. Rowling’s surpise announcement at a October 2007 event that Dumbledore was gay sent the fandom into a frenzy. She revealed the news when a fan asked if Dumbledore had ever fallen in love. She received thunderous applause for the reveal.
“You needed something to keep you going for the next 10 years! …Oh, my god, the fan fiction now, eh?” Rowling said at Carnegie Hall.
He was the first character to be outed as gay, and it was significant news since Rowling always preached inclusivity in her series. Unfortunately, he is still the first and last gay Harry Potter character we know of.
9) Universal’s Wizarding World and expansions
Universal’s Wizarding World of Harry Potter lands are remarkable theme park achievements and a dream come true for Harry Potter fans.
And it’s at any of the three Harry Potter lands that you’ll see people who are still as passionate and proud of Harry Potter as ever. When you walk around one of these parks and see people dressed up in their cloaks or wearing their favorite shirts, smiling from ear-to-ear as they take in the sights of the Wizarding World, you realize that no one’s love has ever waned.
The Wizarding Worlds will continue to rev up the fandom in the decades ahead. Given that they are huge money makers and they’re in a fierce competition with Disney, it’s likely that Universal will continue to expand them. There’ve been rumors that Universal Orlando is planning another expansion.
8) J.K. Rowling ‘reconsidering’ Ron and Hermione
There was no post-Potter revelation more outrageous than J.K. Rowling’s candid comments on the relationship between Ron and Hermione. In an interview with Emma Watson, Rowling said the relationship was written because she was “clinging to the plot as [she] first imagined it” and “not for reasons of credibility.”
The news sent Ron/Hermione shippers into a panic and was the best news ever for those on team Harry/Hermione. No matter which side you fell on, it brought up an important question: Should authors go back to their material years later and openly rethink their published works?
7) Ilvermorny’s reveal
For a very long time, one big question about canon was always on the mind of every American Potter fan: Is there an American Wizarding school? We’d always known that there were other schools in the world but we never got to hear much about any of them not named Hogwarts.
With Fantastic Beasts, J.K. Rowling finally unveiled the American Wizarding school, Ilvermorny, on Pottermore. Given Rowling’s decision to share information about it on her site, we had thought the movie would give us much more on Ilvermorny than it did. We can only hope that we’ll get a proper glimpse of the school in a future movie.
Nonetheless, it was very exciting for Americans to finally hear about the wizarding school in their own country. Adding to the excitement, Pottermore and J.K. Rowling built an Ilvermorny House quiz so we could learn where we’d be placed in the school.
On that note, it’s time to talk Pottermore. J.K. Rowling’s official Harry Potter website has gone through several incarnations since it’s launch in 2012. Remember all the pre-announcement hype? Like the clues offered up by fansites? The launch featuring the first official sorting quiz… that you couldn’t take until you got through a few chapters of the first book? All that stuff you were able to click on and collect, but never use, as you browsed each book?
Pottermore was a disappointment in its first couple years due to its clunky design and its lack of genuinely interesting new information. It didn’t end up serving us as much excitement as the pre-release hype from J.K. Rowling made us think it would (“SHE’S GIVING US MORE… POTTER!). In actuality it was a mild way for Harry Potter to enter the digital age.
It may’ve been a rough start, but in the past two years it’s finally found its purpose. Now that the fandom has added those aforementioned spokes, the website has become a nice hub for all things HP. News, a sorta-kinda Encyclopedia, and several cool personality quizzes make it a great, centralized website for the fandom. They continue to misfire from time to time (they write too many BuzzFeed-type articles, in this writer’s opinion), but they’re in a much better place than they used to be.
5) The release of ‘The Casual Vacancy’ (Hear me out)
The Casual Vacancy was J.K. Rowling’s first post-Potter novel, and as such, anticipation for it was high. Harry Potter fans were missing Rowling and were eager to see what she’d do next.
The Casual Vacancy was boring. It was not for Harry Potter fans. Sure, some people probably liked it (I’ve yet to meet someone who did, but there are a lot of people in the world who I haven’t met). Most of us in the fandom either didn’t bother to read it after the mixed reviews or gave up in the middle.
Really, no book could live up to the high bar set by the Harry Potter series. But “her” second post-Potter novel got close…
4) The unveiling of JKR’s pseudonym and the release of ‘The Cuckoo’s Calling’
In April 2014, J.K. Rowling published her second post-Potter novel.
There wasn’t a single fan in the world who knew that she did.
Three months later it was revealed via someone who knew someone who knew Rowling secretly published a book under a pseudonym that Rowling secretly published a book under a pseudonym. When the news leaked, fans ran out to bookstores and found very limited numbers of the book sitting on shelves (It wasn’t a massive print run. Who would’ve thought that Robert Galbraith would become big?).
Most importantly, the Cormoran Strike series is a present day reminder of why we fell in love with J.K. Rowling’s writing to begin with. It is a series filled with intriguing whodunit’s, clver writing, compelling characters, and overarching plot lines that keeps us coming back for more.
3) When @JK_Rowling figured out Twitter
Once upon a time J.K. Rowling made a Twitter account so that no one else could pose as her. She occassionally posted a tweet letting us know that “pen and paper are my priority,” so we should expect no tweets.
Then someone finally showed her how to use it. And she fell in love.
J.K. Rowling’s presence on Twitter has been one of the greatest gifts to the Harry Potter fandom. Time and time again, Rowling’s 140-character messages have given us new canon, apologies, and… politics. Once one of the most silent on Twitter, Rowling is now one of the most active.
For someone so private, Rowling has no problem being very visible on Twitter. No other platform has ever offered her such a big way to connect with her fans. We love watching her respond to praise, questions, and yes, even criticism.
2) Everything ‘The Cursed Child’
When Deathly Hallows was published, we all found it highly unlikely that Rowling would ever give us an eighth Harry Potter book. It was one of the questions she’d been asked most over the years. While she sometimes said “never say never,” the assumption was — rightfully — that Harry’s story was finished and there would be no more. Write Marauders, write prequels, but don’t write more Harry.
Then came Harry Potter and the Cursed Child, the official stage play billed as “the eighth story” co-written by Rowling and John Tiffany. The play opened in the summer of 2016 and is a marvel to watch on stage.
But the script? Oh, the script. Fans got their hands on it on July 31, 2016, and the reaction was not positive. Dragged down by the format of the book and reading like officially-sanctioned fan-fiction, Cursed Child took us on a rollercoaster of feelings as Rowling and Thorne killed characters, brought them back to life, and did unforgivable things to Cedric, Voldemort, and Bellatrix.
The play left the fandom shook. Script wise it is far from the best thing to happen to the fandom in the past decade, but it is certainly one of the biggest things (And don’t get me started on that Black Hermione drama).
The play will go on forever. Though it’s only on London’s West End right now, it’ll open in New York next year and will presumably travel around the world.
1) Everything ‘Fantastic Beasts’
A new. Wizarding World. Film. Series. I can still remember how surreal that announcement felt on September 12, 2013. J.K. Rowling herself was writing a new story set in Harry’s world. It only became clear in the six months before Fantastic Beasts hit theaters that the movie wasn’t just going to be about Newt and his beasts — it would actually be about Grindelwald and head towards the great Wizarding War.
There are still many, many questions about where this movie series is heading, but it’s clear that J.K. Rowling is taking us into exciting territory. Not only are there several brand new, compelling characters for us to follow for four more movies, we’re also getting back Dumbledore and Grindelwald.
Four more movies mean that J.K. Rowling is giving us new Wizarding World canon for another 8-ish years. And then what? You have to think that WB will be asking her to work with them more. You have to think Rowling will get that itch again.
What lies ahead?
10 years ago today we didn’t know that any of the ten moments above were in the pipeline. With that in mind, it’s exciting to wonder what could be coming in the next decade.
If I had to guess what’s ahead, I’d say that we can look forward to more theme park expansions, another film series (after Fantastic Beasts is finished), an Encyclopedia (Let me dream okay?), and a television series (The one big medium Rowling hasn’t explored with Harry yet).
I believe Rowling has come to realize that she’ll be exploring different areas of the Wizarding World for the rest of her life. Her world is up there with Star Wars — she can’t say goodbye for good whether she wants to or not. It will never end for as long as there is money for her business partners to make, and that’s okay! There is a deep care in making sure the new lives up to the quality of the old.
Raise a Butterbeer to the next ten.