I recently discovered that there is a widespread belief that there is a huge, gaping, plot hole in Harry Potter Goblet of Fire by J.K. Rowlings. Or so people say. Greta Christina pointed it out on a Facebook post of Sarah Moglia’s, and when I googled it, I discovered widespread dismay about the pointlessness of the entire book.
The claim is made that there is no reason for any of the things that happen in this book to have happened. The ultimate result of most of the book’s plot is to get Harry Potter transported to the clutches of the Dark Lord in order to contribute, as an ingredient, in the ontogeny of Voldemort 2.0. The question is, why did all this stuff have to happen, with Barty Crouch Junior disguised as Mad Eye Moody manipulating the entire tournament, only to have Harry Potter touch a live and active portkey? Why not just hand him a portkey, or trick him into touching one?
Some people in responding to this question have noted two things that are worthy of mention, though they are not the answer to this mystery. One is the fact, which I’m sure is true, that Barty Crouch Jr. could not be discovered for what he really was, so an indirect means of doing anything is preferred. Handing Harry a portkey may have been too easily figured out. But really, en entire Triwizard just for that? Clearly, that is not the simple answer to the plot hole question, though it is part of it. No matter what Barty was doing, he’d want a certain amount of misdirection and secrecy.
The other thing people mention is the timing. The hot dish wasn’t ready, as it were, until a certain time and that time happened to be at the end of the Triwizard. That may be true, but it does not de-Macguffinize the entire book.
Perhaps this is because of my background in anthropology, but when I first read the book the point of the plot was utterly obvious to me once the penultimate scene developed (after Potter’s transport to where all the death eaters are). The simple, straight forward reason for having Potter transported at that time and in that way is the same for faking Potter’s entrance into the tournament and having him win. I shall explain.
Harry’s blood was to be used to reconstitute Voldemort. Quite possibly the blood of any wizard would do, but there is a handful of reasons that Harry Potter’s blood would be better. For one thing, there is the accidental horcrux-ish effect, with Voldemort’s power having bounced off Harry’s Head once. Whether or not that would really make Harry a more powerful ingredient is unclear, but these are Wizards. They believe this sort of thing. Second, Harry’s mother (and her love, bla bla bla) was obviously very powerful and was inserted into Harry on her death. More mojo. Generally, though, it is pretty clear by the big battle scene in Goblet, with the dueling wands, that Potter and Voldemort are roughly equally matched. Any wizard might do as this particular ingredient in the reconstitution of Voldemort 2.0, but Harry would be better …
… and even better, would be super-Harry.
The winner of the Triwizard is not just any wizard, but is special, esteemed, more powerful and more highly regarded in the Wizard world. When I discussed this with Julia she pointed out that Harry’s being in the tournament and his success along the way allowing him to win were all rigged. So, not meaningful.
First of all, in Wizard Land, technicalities are always important. LeviOHsa, not LeVIohsa. He won the tournament and gets whatever that gives you. Second, Harry Potter’s status as the youngest Tri-champ ever is reified only in the eyes of the non-Death Eater wizards, and they were unaware of the rigged nature of the deal. Third … think about it … what, ever, does a Dark Lord do that is not rigged in some way? It is the way of He Who Shall Not be Named.
Heroes become heroes by winning a series of challenges. Seven, classically. What were the challenges that Harry had won before the Triwizard started? Near the beginning of his life, he defeats Voldemort. In Philsopher’s Stone, Harry defeats Voldemort/Quirrell. In Chamber he defeats the Basilisk. In Prisoner he defeats the Dementors. So, at the beginning of Goblet of Fire, Harry has defeated four foes in four challenges. Since heroes normally defeat seven foes in seven challenges before becoming full blown heroes, three more challenges would make him in some ways the most powerful wizard he could possibly be, yet at the same time, those additional victories would not be against Voldemort, if Voldemort rigged them. The blood of a full blown hero would be significantly better than the blood of a mere prodigy, and this was a way for Voldemort to get that extra potent ingredient more or less safely.
Endoplasmic Voldemort engineered Harry Potter’s rise to hero status among his peers in order to have the most powerful possible ingredients in the Voldemort 2.0 hot dish. There is no plot hole. Only unmitigated evil.
So, fear not, you did not read Goblet of Fire needlessly. Perhaps you merely enjoyed the story and missed the point, but that’s no big deal. People have been doing that for thousands of years.
Other posts of interest:
- How to get rid of spiders in your house
- Why is your poop green?
- How many cells are there in the human body?
- Is there really a plot hole in Harry Potter Goblet of Fire?
- How long is a human generation?
- Is blog ever really blue?
- How to not get caught plagiarizing
- The origin of the domestic chicken
- What are the three necessary and sufficient conditions of Natural Selection?
- How do I get rid of foot fungus?
- Which is better, Tap Water or Bottled Water?
- Has Global Warming stopped?
Also of interest: In Search of Sungudogo: A novel of adventure and mystery, which is also an alternative history of the Skeptics Movement.
42 thoughts on “Harry Potter Goblet of Fire Plot Hole Filled”
Ooh, are we talking Harry Potter now? *rubs hands together*
Congratulations – I think that yours is a Rowling-worthy question. You may in fact be right. That is rather how she works throughout the series.
Here’s another question, the answer to which I think I know – why, out of everyone who did or could have died, did Fred Weasley die?
I’ll give you my very first unvarnished thoughts on why Fred died.
I am currently writing a novel. I knew I had to have a good guy likable character die (because of the nature of the novel). The first two characters I wrote were a main character and a secondary (almost main) that played off the first. Either one could die. The secondary one, though, was not important enough so it would have to be the main one. But by the time I got to near the end of her time line I just couldn’t kill her. So, realizing that if I did (what to me was) a good job in creating a character a reader could bond to that I would have a hard time killing that character, so I picked one of the characters I’d not developed yet and decided that would be the one to die. This is now controlling part of the plot, and I’ve actually already roughed out the death scene.
Now, I’m writing that character and yes, it will be hard to kill her but she’s already dead.
So, maybe JKR realized that, probably after creating the central trio, and at that point picked which characters would die. Black is an obvious one . His character shifted in position in the story dramatically and in a short time span (compared to the book series) and he may well have been dead before he became bondable.
Perhaps she realized that leaving the Wizard World with too many Weasleys would be absurd, and knowing she needed to kill one off, created Fred. Perhaps originally there weren’t twins. She created twins so one could die!!! Yes, that’s it!!!
Why do you think?
I also thought the book was contrived and pointless.
Here’s what I thought when I read the book for the first time (back in ’08):
James, this isn’t really about how much one likes the books. You clearly don’t like the Harry Potter series very much. This is about the nature of the plot. One could understand that this is the Dark Lord fattening the calf,as I suggest, and still see it as pointless.
It had to be Harry because of the protection in his blood from Lily’s sacrifice. It says it book that because Voldemort used Harry’s blood, that protection was now in both of them, enabling Voldemort to touch Harry without causing serious harm like he suffered in book 1. Also, Harry and Voldemort weren’t “evenly matched” and no other wizard could have done what Harry did that night, the only reason Harry survived was because Harry and Voldemort had twin wands, both contained a phoenix feather from Fawkes.
I think the real reason was timing and misdirection. Nobody (except Crouch Jr.) could see into the maze, if all had gone as planned, Harry would have just disappeared from the maze, never to be seen again. Also, we don’t know how long it took to brew that potion used to bring Voldemort back to life, but in all likelihood it was incredibly complex and took a long time, especially with inept Pettigrew brewing it.
CJ, actually your comments support my hypothesis. First, as I say, the timing issue could be worked out any way. The author of the book actually controls that, not the calendar. Second, yes, the secrecy and ability to make Harry disappear without anyone seeing how (if things worked out) is critical. But that does not obviate other issues. The question still remains “why not just come up with a simpler way”
You point out that Harry’s Blood is superior because he was zapped by the Dark Lord. That is certainly part of it. But that simply underscores the importance of Harry’s potency as an “ingredient.”
Yes, the common wand components are important to what happened in the wand battle, but IIRC it also became important that Harry’s ghostly familiars … his family … showed up for that battle as well. The commonly held components on their own may or may not been the leveling factor.
It is important to note that only post hoc do these wizards ever really know the nature of the objects and the powers they manipulate. Being a wizard is an art, not a science.
Completely off topic but…
it’s LeviOsa not LevioSA, (with an “a” not an “o”)…
Quoting Harry Potter book 1 can be tricky I guess.
Duh, it’s Levels.
At the start of GoF, Harry Potter was only a level four Wizard. Totally unsuitable for the ritual. Needed to gain one or two levels. And while the challenges were rigged, HP still had to execute them. Only got hints for many things, and probably wasn’t the only one getting help.
You touch on a good point, but not quite on the mark I think.
It could not be the blood of any wizard for the potion, but specifically had to be the “blood of an enemy.” Voldemort really only had two enemies. Harry and Albus. No way for him to touch Dumbledore but he could get at Potter.
But why the entire year long subterfuge with the Triwizard Tournament? Well, frankly, that particular plot point was a bit contrived if all that mattered to Voldemort was to get Harry within his clutches to complete the resurrection spell. I maintain though that Voldemort wanted more than that. Much more. It was not enough to merely have Harry’s blood (a disastrous decision as later events proved) he wanted Harry crushed and defeated. How better to do this than build him up for an entire year winning (or at least tying) in each of the three tasks and at the very moment of his supreme triumph being taken straight to his destruction at the hands of Lord Voldemort? I can imagine him savoring this as the months went by.
And as so often happens with complex plans they went disastrously awry when unanticipated variables were introduced. Voldemort did not understand what he was setting himself up for when Lilly Potter sacrificed herself. He was not aware that his and Harry’s wands shared common cores and did not understand what this meant. He was not aware of the implications of using Harry’s blood in his resurrection. He did not understand the way the Elder Wand’s loyalty was passed. But he did know he wanted revenge specifically on Harry and that he wanted to savor it slowly. Thus the whole drawn out, complicated, Triwizard Tournament plot requiring one of his best servants to place himself at considerable risk of exposure for months to pull it off.
Harry and Voldemort were not evenly matched. Voldemort was immensely more powerful than the “boy who lived” but he made three classic villain’s mistakes. These were that he made his plans much too complex where simpler plans would have served just as well, he personally had to be the one to kill Harry and not one of his henchmen who could have done the deed many times, and he relied on magic (technology) that he did not fully understand and in the end could not adequately control. Harry did his very credible best and he had a lot of help along the way. But bottom line is that through Harry’s luck and pluck Voldemort outsmarted himself by trying to be clever instead of simply getting the job done as quickly and efficiently as possible.
There is the explanation for the Goblet of Fire.
“Voldemort really only had two enemies”
I don’t know about that.
The idea that DL wanted harry built up and defeated is a good one. It does not conflict, though, with my hypotheses, but rather, fits nicely along side of it.
It’s a book about fucking wizards riding flying fucking broomsticks etc. How ‘real’ would you like it to be? Idiots.
It’s been awhile since I have re-read the books, but as far as I remember, the Triwizard tournament is an age old tradition, and not one that was concocted by Voldermort in order to create some ellaborate ruse to get his hand on Harry’s blood. It did however, give Voldemort an opportunity to get his hands on Harry, where he had previously failed within the general Hogwarts setting. The Triwizard tournament allowed Voldemort to plant his mole into Howarts and set his plans into motion etc etc.
But why not do it in a simpler way like just hand Harry a portkey whenever? Well, I have two reasons:
Firstly, if Voldemort were to simply hand Harry a portkey and have him disappear suddenly in front of everyone, or in any other way that would alert people to Harry’s disappearance, then everyone would know that the Dark Lord has returned. This is not what Voldemort wants. He needs his comeback to remain in secret which gives him the advantage in gaining his original power. This idea is clearly supported by the following book. Secondly, and most importantly, and even more obviously than Collie’s comment; is because IT’S A FICTIONAL NOVEL. The Triwizard tournament is part of the plot because that is what makes it interesting to the readers. The proof is in the pudding.
This is just like the Star Wars “what is the star destroyer had blown up the escape pod with the droids in it before they reached Luke”. They didn’t blow it up and Harry competed in a competition. He had to do something that year 😉 The only thing that confused me was why Doctor Who was in the film!
Yeah, sorry I can’t take anyone’s “expert opinion” on a Harry Potter book when you don’t even know that it’s Leviosa. You also seem to be missing quite a few of the points of the story and seem to be pulling things out of thin air that have nothing to do with the story and aren’t cliches. After reading this article I have to wonder if you even read the book at all or just looked it up on spark notes. Harry Potter books are pretty easy to follow, and you certainly don’t have to do all of this thinking to understand why the Goblet of Fire played out the way it did. The idea was to have Voldemort make his return and killing of Harry incognito. Harry can’t just go missing. The triwizard tournament wasn’t set up by Voldemort, it was happening on its own, Voldey just saw it as an opportunity to trap Harry. What’s the one way to trap him? Put him in the games. How do you do that? You have to have someone on the inside? Now, out of the three tasks which would be the best one where it is believable that Harry would just disappear? Probably the creepy maze that swallows up half the competitors anyways. So, Harry has to survive until then. It wasn’t about having him win the games, it was about having him survive until he could get to the port key. He won because he is just that damn awesome. Why did it have to be Harry’s blood? Because A) he is the one who relinquished Voldey’s powers in the first place and B) without the infusion of the protection of Lily’s love that ran through Harry’s veins, Voldey wouldn’t be able to touch him. i.e. the first book. Also the line “I can touch you now.” Makes that pretty clear. They had to do something about Moody because he was an Auror, and doing dark dealings with his eye ever lurking about would probably lead to pretty quick discovery. It’s all pretty clearly laid out in the book, I think you might just be digging a little to far, so far in fact that you have forgotten that the answers are laying right on the ground for the world to see. Stop trying to outsmart one of the greatest authors of our generation. It won’t work.
Dwight, you’ve totally missed the point that Voldemort could have simply captured Harry Potter at any one of a number of moments much more simply; that is the complaint people have made about the plot. Otherwise you seem to be mostly agreeing with me.
Sorry Greg, but I think it is you and not Dwight who has totally missed the point. The major factor in the entire plan is that Voldemort returns without anyone knowing. Using the Triwizard is the perfect cover and the best time in the event is the final task since only Moody/Crouch can see what’s going on. Having someone a famous as Harry Potter just “disappear” would bring up too many questions and the person asking those questions would be the last person the Dark Lord wants to know he is back: Albus Dumbledore.
Dan, I totally agree that the tri-wizard is the perfect cover. But the “plotholers” insist that Voldemort could have figured his way around any of the problems with just snatching Harry … after all, he only needed him for a few minutes then he would become super powerful. I don’t think there was a problem to begin with.
But the fact is that Harry did follow the Hero’s Journey, at several levels, both across the books and within the Tri Wizard tourney. That is a good reason the book is written the way it was.
But the “plotholers” don’t realise that just snatching Harry will miss up the plan. It has been said by many people, and the point you don’t seem to get, is that Voldemort doesn’t want anyone on their guard when he returns. He doesn’t need Harry for “a few minutes” but for weeks and possibly months before anyone realises that Harry didn’t die in the maze. What hasn’t been said that I would like to point out is that the reason the Dark Lord wants to use Harry and not another wizard is that he wants to kill Harry in front of his Death Eaters to prove to them that he is the most powerful and cannot be defeated by a mere child. The entire scene in the graveyard is for their benefit.
i do conceed that having Harry complete another hero journey is good for the reader but it isn’t important to Voldemort, nor does it make Harry a more potent ingredient. The fact that he caused the Dark Lord’s downfall 15 years earlier is enough and that he won a tourney that was rigged for him doesn’t make him “Super Harry”
Well, voldemort is the guy in the book, so that’s important to the readers!
I don’t think we’re disagreeing here. We’re all on the same page in that the plotholers are wrong. The reasons they are wrong are myriad. A novel does many things all at once; reasonable plot, hero’s journey, hidden meanings, etc.
For example, as an anthropologist I fully understood that voldemort’s use of Harry is a form of ritualized cannibalism, which does serve as you say as a demonstration to the death eaters, but I assume also provides an additional very helpful measure of additional magic mojo to make The Dark Lord stronger than his nemesis. Because that is Voldemort’s number one problem: Harry Potter is intrinsically stronger then him.
The tournament doesn’t make him super harry. He was super harry. He just did not know that and most others (other than his mentors) did not know it either. That is the point of the hero’s journey. It does not necessarily make heroes, it reveals them.
I think we also forget that it was Barty Crouch Jr. who was pulling these strings all along. The same man who felt like Harry needed to understand and be equipped with the unforgivable curses before facing Voldemort needed him to compete in the tournament. For completely logical reasons? Probably not–he’s a raving lunatic, but he has a very solid (albeit not fully comprehensible) set of driving motivations and a very established rules of battleground engagement. He’s betting on Voldemort, but he wants it to be a good fight. Could he have sent Harry off at any point in time and covered for him as Mad Eye? Of course. He could have killed or cursed Harry with his own wand in the box at the Quidditch World Cup. But he didn’t.
Besides, I think the thrill of killing Harry at the precise moment he was under the supervision and authority of Dumbledore and the entire Ministry, not to mention the international wizards present was a bonus Voldemort felt was worth waiting for.
Voldemort likes to plan his (thwarted attempts of) regaining power for dramatic moments. Who better to emerge from that maze than the reincarnated Voldemort himself, shouting, “I killed the boy who lived; who’s next?”
Good point. Also, he was Dr Who, which must have been a factor. In the movie, anyway.
Ok. I agree with almost everything everyone has said except for one thing
WHERE THE HECK DID DOCTOR WHO COME FROM!?!?!?!?!?
I always thought it might’ve been a possibility that portkeys can’t be used in Hogwarts, much like apparating. The exception to this was if Dumbledore or a headmaster/mistress created one. If portkeys did work in Hogwarts, then the death eaters easily could have used them to reach Hogwarts in the Half Blood Prince instead of using the vanishing cabinets, so I think it’s fair to say that they can’t be used in Hogwarts
So lets just assume that the triwizard cup was a portkey that would take the winner back to the start of the maze so that the spectators could see the winner and there would be no doubt as to who touched the cup first. Mad-Eye (Crouch Jr.) changed the destination to the graveyard or bewitched it so that the cup would take them to the graveyard first, then when it was touched again it would take them back to Hogwarts. Obviously this would mean that portkey destinations could be changed, which is never explained in the books or by Rowling herself.
This is just a theory to try and fit in with the plothole in Voldemort’s plan. He saw it as the only chance to get Harry out of Hogwarts and would also mean that Harry would disappear and nobody would suspect Voldemort, much like Dwight said.
One of the fallacies that often arises in these discussion is that it is in fact not necessary, and very rarely the case in good novels, that the author supplies us with every detail, and only those details can be used in figuring out the story. This is called “backstory” … the stuff that is true but the book does not say. One can never be sure, but your analysis is an excellent construction of plausible backstory. Very interesting. We now know something new about Portkeys!
……The whole point of everything was to give time for Voldemort to become whole again. The simplest explanation is this: He wasn’t ready at the time to become whole again, so he had to wait longer. The best way to watch Harry during that time would be to have the tournament, monitoring his moves and then just zap him to Voldemort when he’s ready for it.
Also, portkeys cannot be used in Hogwarts. Only Dumbledore can get around it, so it’s obvious why Harry wasn’t just given a portkey. With the power that the triwizard cup had, it could be enchanted to be used as a portkey. It’s really not difficult to come up with explanations….
Okay so there’s some very good points here and I for one disagree completely with the plotholers. I loved GoF and not once did i think it was needlessly long, it’s a novel.
From a writers perspective, what the length of the book does is remind us that the books aren’t just about a battle between good and evil, they’re about a lot more. The’re about the trials and tribulations of growing up, first love, school and friendship.
They also the idea that everything is not what is always seems, Barty Crouch jr for example and this sets the premises for the truth about Snape’s allegiance and even Dumbledore’s past.
From the perspective of Voldemort himself, reasons why he would not have just taken Harry from school…
1) most likely Portkeys would not work on the hogwarts grounds, just as apparating doesn’t, so he needed to wait for a moment when those restrictions weren’t in place.
2) I like the idea of Harry completing levels and the 7 trials of a hero, though I don’t think that has anything to do with Voldy’s plans, more to do with developing Harry’s character and also others, Ron for example, we get to see more of his character, the jealousy he feels towards Harry
3) voldemort couldn’t just take harry out of nowhere, like someone said above, he prefers to keep things secret, the maze was a good cover for Harry’s sudden disappearance.
just the main points in my opinion.
Greg Laden. I believe your super Harry theory is flawed. You talk about how building Harry into a proper “hero” would somehow strengthen his use as an ingredient to bring back Voldemort’s power. But the amount of challenges someone has faced and/or overcome does nothing in the way of giving someone’s blood more potency. It is true that hero’s generally face a series of challenges before being recognized as a hero, and yes in a lot of stories there are 7. But this isn’t some magical power giving ceremony. It is simply that, a recognition of someones accomplishments. The term “hero” is nothing more than a title applied to someone who has earned it by proving his/her worth. Meaning that the power was already there to begin with but as the challenges were rigged, these accomplishments are surface oriented at best. The theory of building Harry up only to be brought down is a much more effective solution than yours and in no way ties in with your own theory. Harry is targeted because of a personal vendetta the dark lord has with him and quite possibly because (as Dumbledore explained) Harry was given some of Voldemort’s power (Parselmouth for example) and needs Harry’s blood specifically to regain is true full power. The Idea that Harry needs to be made into a hero first is a bit ridiculous because this in no way makes Harry’s blood better as an ingredient than it was before. These accomplishments or challenges serve only to give Harry more experience as a wizard and to say that they are somehow linked with Harry’s use as an ingredient serves no purpose in real logic and to be quite honest, it’s a bit surprising you would blog about it as if it’s some genius idea when in reality it makes little sense..
Good points, Brendon. But their relevance to the theory may depend on whether or not Voldemort has read his Jung.
Btw Dwight was 100% correct and he answered why Voldemort didn’t just capture him earlier when he explained that if Harry just went missing it would not have been good for him at all. It’s made quite clear that underage wizards are tracked through some magical means very closely by many, including the Ministry of Magic and Harry, being as famous and important as he was, would have been prioritized the moment he vanished. And tracked and found and then Voldemort’s plan would have been worthless. Plus he needed TIME before he could just Capture the worlds most famous Wizard because as was already explained, he was pretty much dead before the potion Pettigrew brew and even the Polyjuice potion took an entire month to finish. Imagine one that could bring somebody from the brink of death…And not just a regular death, but one the pretty much separated his soul from his body.
Brandon, yes, that is all true and it also helps fill in the supposed plot hole.
really it all just comes down to the portkeys. it’s gonna take a complicated plan just to get a working portkey inside the school grounds.
that is really good i love harry potter i am on the fourth book right now it is really good
love it love it love it love it
Hey Greg : First of all….a very interesting theory & we Harry Potter fans can make as many as we want untill officially recognized by Madam JK Rowling…
Secondly : If you have read the entire series you would know Voldemort feared only one Wizard Albus Dumbuldore .. So by abducting Harry abruptly from any where in Hogwarts or outside by means of portkey or any other means would have alerted the greatest Wizard who had taken Harry’s safety as his personal task… If any such activity would have taken in the book 4 Albus would have been always gone to rescue HP.. Which in turn would have been a flaw to the dark lords plan..
Now Dark lord needed precisely a way where he can device the great Dumbuldore for a short time till the time he can come back in mortal form…
He knew about the Triwizard tournament .. He knew what the last task would be … (In a maze) … He knew that it would be the task least visible to Hogwarts teachers and students..which gives a perfect camaflogue as no one would know the whereabouts of the champions once inside untill the call for help..
Now about how did Mad eye create a portkey…
Well Dumbledore had lifted the enchantments of Hogwarts to create a portkey which would take the champion who first touches it from inside of the maze to outside ..He untrusted the task to Barty junior assuming he is Mad eye moody… He took the opportunity to create the portkey which would take them to dark Lord….
Dumbledore also trusted Mad eye to look over Harry once inside the maze through his magical eye.. Thus ensuring his safety… ( we now know he was an imposter)
So I don’t think it has to do with any greatness or stuff., voldemort didn’t actually care the blood of a Triwizard champion winner… He just cared his return should not be japeodized by any flaws in the plan…and should be at the right moment…
The plan could not have been much simpler. Moody had to be the one to pull off the port key. Moody was only hired to keep an eye on Karkaroff. No tourney, no Karkaroff. No Karkaroff, no Moody. No Moody, no port key.