Fan-tastic Theories and Where to Find Them

Nov 18, 2016

Posted by: Melissa Anelli

Fans, Fantastic Beasts Movie, Films, Movies, News


We hope if you have seen the film already you are rolling around and reveling in the sheer beautiful JKR-ness of it all, and that if you haven’t, you are heading out to a theater soon to get lost in it all.

A huge number of Leaky staff and friends saw the film last week at Carnegie Hall, and have been waist-deep in theory ever since — and some of the things we have been discussing have been leading us to the realization that the Muggles (or No-Majs, or people who have only a glancing interest in this fictional world) have literally zero idea what’s coming for them by the time this movie series gets really moving; that she left breadcrumbs of this story throughout her entire series, and that she really should be named J.K. Trolling for good.

We want to learn from our forbears, however, and not treat the Muggles/No-Majs with the same conservation and isolation. We want to bring all the new people into the fun. So here is a guide to some of the biggest theories coming out of Fantastic Beasts: this post is long and full of spoilers, so bewarned, and have fun:

    Dumbledore’s sister, Ariana, was almost certainly an Obscurial.

An Obscurial is a witch or wizard who carries the results of being forced to repress their magic. You can’t hide who you are, the canon goes, and so if you try to deny your magic it will turn on you, and create a dangerous, destructive force called an Obscurus that, in this movie alone, tore through a major metropolis like it was so much rice paper. (As staffer Sierra Fox says: imagine if the Dursleys had really “squashed it” out of Harry as they pledged to do? IMAGINE?!)

If you know the history of Dumbledore, you know that his sister, Ariana, was attacked at a young age by three Muggles who witnessed her doing magic.

“It destroyed her, what they did, Aberforth says in Deathly Hallows. She was never right again…at times she was strange and dangerous. But mostly she was sweet and scared and harmless.”

Her father attacked the Muggles who attacked her, went to Azkaban for it, and died there. But Ariana never wanted to do magic again; instead, it burst out of her at odd times, and she became dangerous. An uncontrolled eruption of magic even killed her and Dumbledore’s mother, Kendra Dumbledore.

    This is probably why Grindelwald is obsessed with Obscuruses (Obscurii?).

When Dumbledore was called home after Kendra’s death, it interrupted his plans to go abroad after his Hogwarts graduation, and he was bitter about it; he and his family’s (arguably reasonable) distaste for Muggles soon turned up in correspondence with the friend Dumbledore made in his hometown shortly thereafter: the visiting Gellert Grindelwald.

Grindelwald and Dumbledore were equally brilliant, and bent on creating a new world order, one in which Muggles would be subservient to wizards and the power they were granted, for their own (and the “greater” good — remember the words “the greater good,” they will come up a lot in this series). Their correspondence, detailed in Deathly Hallows, was laced with eerie, Nazi-esque belief in their own superiority as race.

“Yes, we have been given power and yes, that power gives us the right to rule, but it also gives us responsibilities over the ruled. We must stress this piont, it will be the foundation stone upon which we build, Dumbledore wrote in his letter to Grindelwald. …where we meet resistance, we must use only the force that is necessary and no more.” – Deathly Hallows

It was during the expression of this two-month friendship (and from at least Dumbledore’s perspective, attraction) that Grindelwald probably first set his eyes on an Obscurus in Ariana Dumbledore. At the time, Dumbeldore and Grindelwald were making plans to travel, to make speeches, to whip up a following: and possibly planning to take Ariana with them. When Aberforth argued with Dumbledore and Grindelwald about this notion, a fight – and then a duel – broke out. Ariana got upset and got in the middle, and was somehow killed.

No one knows quite how Ariana was killed, but the strong impression given in the book is that it was Grindelwald that did it. “Grindelwald lost control,” Dumbledore said.

But did he?

What really happened there?

Was he trying to control, enrage, come in contact with, extract, put to other use, or otherwise manipulate what he now recognized as an Obscurus? (Remember his strange wonder about whether the Obscurus could be used without the host? Remember him telling Credence something like, “Imagine what we could do together?” )

If that’s how it shook out then, imagine his horror watching another Obscurus’ power disappear in front of his eyes.

Also, Grindelwald says eerily similar things to Dumbledore about Ariana, and to MACUSA about Credence:

    It’s possible the manipulative Albus Dumbledore sent Newt on this quest.

Dumbledore is a chessmaster. He played ridiculous games with Harry as he nudged him toward his eventual victory.

Remember all the newspapers discussing the disappearance of Grindelwald? You know who was also reading them, for absolute certain? Albus Dumbledore.

You know who would have also heard theories and whispers of an Obscurus in New York, who would have also read the signs correctly and known that Grindelwald would be likely to hunt it down?

Dropping off a Thunderbird in Arizona might be a reason you take a boat to New York (and we need to talk about the limits of travel by Apparition), but once you get there, do you just idly walk around the streets of the city, or do you start Apparating to get closer to that state?

Clearly Newt and Albus have a friendship of some sort, and the dodge of such a friendship, when asked after by Graves, is purely Rowlingian. There is more to this relationship, and it’s not even slightly unlikely that Newt investigating the disturbances in New York was part of Dumbledore’s plan (it’s less likely that it was actually part of Newt’s; Dumbledore’s policy on telling his pawns what he wants them to do is … shall we say, not super transparent).

    The rise of Grindelwald may overlap with Voldemort’s origin story.

FB starts in 1926; Merope Gaunt, Tom Riddle’s mother, is at this point eight months pregnant with Tom Riddle (who is born on New Year’s Eve, 1926). She will leave him at an orphanage, and die due to childbirth.

In a cut scene of the film, Credence Barebone is seen getting on a boat.

Will the Obscurus have any interaction with Riddle?

Will he end up at an orphanage?

There’s been some speculation that Barebone is actually a Gaunt; could this be true? (If he is, he must have some distant relation, because Merope is supposedly the final in the line).

Will Grindelwald, perhaps, once he breaks out of American wizarding jail (bets on two days later) track the Obscurus to this orphanage? Will his ideas about the superiority of purebloods/wizardkind enflame Riddle?

Grindelwald was defeated in 1945, which is when J.K. Rowling has said this series will end (it will span 19 years). Voldemort also graduates Hogwarts in 1945 (likely with two Horcruxes already created).


    “Will we die, a little?”

WHAT DOES THIS MEAN!? This is what Grindelwald says as he’s being led away by MACUSA. And, well…we’ve got nothing concrete on what he means. Yet.



That’s not nearly all of it, but we don’t want to overwhelm the No-Majs. We’ll have more — including a post about the new things we definitively learn about the wizarding world — soon.

This is fun. This is like old times. Welcome back, wizards!

The Leaky Cauldron is not associated with J.K. Rowling, Warner Bros., or any of the individuals or companies associated with producing and publishing Harry Potter books and films.