Harry Potter is a franchise full of magic, mystery, and magical creatures. The universe created by J.K. Rowling is filled with complex governmental systems which a big part includes dealing with the hundreds of magical creatures that have to be concealed from the muggle world.
This guide is made to help you understand a little bit better how the wizarding system works when it comes to those creatures and a little about some of the beasts seen in the Harry Potter movies.
How are Magical Creatures Classified
In the Wizarding universe, creatures are split into two categories, the magical and the non-magical creatures. The magical creatures are then classified by the Ministry of Magic into three distinct categories: Being, Beast, and Spirit.
According to the book Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them written by the wizarding world’s most famous magizoologist Newt Scamander, the difference between the three categories is quite simple:
“a ‘being’ was ‘any creature that has sufficient intelligence to understand the laws of the magical community and to bear part of the responsibility in shaping those laws.” Therefore, a Beast would be any creature that has not enough intelligence to understand or contribute to the laws of the wizarding world.
But what about ghosts? They used to be a wizard or witch before they died. According to Scamander’s book, there was an exception made for ghosts since it would be insensitive to classify them as Beings when they are ‘has-beens.’ So the third division of creatures was created, Spirits.
Within the Ministry of Magic, there are three divisions that regulate the affairs of each category: the Beast division, the Being division, and the Spirit division.
The Origins of the Magical Creatures
The magical creatures that you love to see in both the Harry Potter and Fantastic Beasts movies, or read them in the books and screenplays, are a combination of J.K. Rowling’s imagination, reality, and folklore.
Some creatures like the Werewolf, Vampires, Centaurs, Dragons, Unicorns, and Fairies are ‘very common’ monsters that have even kept their muggle names in the wizarding universe. Other creatures like Kelpies and Merpeople had their names changed from the ones we recognize in the muggle world like a particular Kelpie that lives in the Loch Ness lake and is known as The Loch Ness Monster, and Merpeople are known to us as mermaids.
Creatures like Grindylows and Boggarts, for example, are part of Celtic and English folklore. Another example of folklore adapted into the wizarding world is that of the Greek myth of Cerberus. The story of the multi-headed dog was modified and turned into Hagrid’s three-headed dog, Fluffy, featured in Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone.
Magical Creatures and Muggles
While watching, or reading, the Harry Potter saga, a thought might have crossed your mind, can a muggle see a magical creature? The answer to that question is simple, yes. Muggles are able to see any magical creature, however, the Wizarding World goes above and beyond to conceal the magical creatures from muggles.
Before the start of the International Statute of Wizarding Secrecy, the law that establishes the separation and concealing of the magical world from the muggle world, mythical creatures were known my muggles and wizards alike.
However, after the creation of the International Statute of Wizarding Secrecy, the magic, and the wizarding world were separated and hidden from the muggles.
Magical Beasts In The Movies
During the Harry Potter movies, there is a series of magical creatures that are introduced to the Harry Potter fans throughout the movies. Here we will be introducing some of those creatures to you and explaining where they were first shown in the films.
Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone
The Goblins are the first magical creatures that we are exposed to. In the wizarding world, goblins are classified as Beings since they are a highly intelligent race with small humanoid figures. Goblins run the wizarding economy since they are the workforce inside the Gringotts Wizarding Bank.
As mentioned above, Ghosts are characterized as Spirits by the magical community. Ghosts are very prevalent in the movies because some of them live within the walls of Hogwarts. Each Hogwarts house has its own Ghost: Gryffindor’s is Near-Headless Nick, Slytherin’s is The Bloody Baron, Ravenclaw’s The Grey Lady, and Hufflepuff’s is The Fat Friar.
- Three-Headed Dog
Fluffy is Hagrid’s three-headed dog that Harry, Ron, and Hermione face when trying to pass through the trap door in hopes to prevent Professor Snape from stealing the stone. What the Hogwarts students didn’t know is that Snape wasn’t the one trying to reach the sorcerer stone.
A Troll is characterized as a creature by the wizarding community. The magical beast is very big and known for its magical strength and immense stupidity. In the magical world, there are four types of trolls: Forest Trolls, Mountain Trolls, River Trolls, and Trolls of Nadroj.
Unicorns are the purest of magical creatures. Unicorn’s hair is used by Ollivander as cores in the process of wand making. Unicorn’s blood also has magical properties, but drinking a Unicorn’s blood comes at a high cost.
- “Only one who has nothing to lose, and everything to gain, would commit such a crime. The blood of a unicorn will keep you alive, even if you are an inch from death, but at a terrible price. You have slain something so pure and defenseless to save yourself, you will have but a half-life, a cursed life, from the moment the blood touches your lips.” – Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone
In the first movie, weak Lord Voldemort is seen by Harry drinking unicorn’s blood at the Forbidden Forest.
A Centaur named Firenze saves Harry from Voldemort in the Forbidden Forest. Centaurs are half-human and half-horse highly intelligent creatures talented in healing magic, divination, and astronomy.
Despite having ‘human intelligence’ Centaurs are classified as Beasts by the British Ministry of Magic, but this at their own request. According to the magizoologist Newt Scamander, when the classification of magical creatures was being created, the centaurs refused to share the same status of Being with dark creatures like Hags and Vampires, so they choose to stay isolated from the wizarding and muggle community alike and preferred to be classified as Beasts.
The first time we are exposed to a Dragon in Harry Potter is inside Hagrid’s hut. In the first movie, Hagrid gets a dragon egg from a stranger and it hatches while Ron, Harry, and Hermione are sipping tea at Hagrid’s Hut. After being hatched, Hagrid names the Norwegian Ridgeback Dragon Norbert.
Norbert might have been the first dragon shown in the franchise, but defiantly not the most memorable one. During the Triwizard tournament, the first task was to retrieve a golden egg from a dragon’s nest. Each one of the Champions had to face a different species of a dragon: Hungarian Horntail (the dragon Harry ends up picking), Swedish Short-Snout, Chinese Fireball, and Welsh Green.
The final time a dragon is shown in the Harry Potter movies is when the golden trio invade Gringotts bank to rob the Lestrange vault. There they face a Ukrainian Ironbelly dragon, which is the same dragon that sits on top of Gringotts at Diagon Alley inside The Wizarding World of Harry Potter portion of Universal’s Hollywood Studios Park.
Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets
- Cornish Pixies
This fantastic beast can be extremely mischievous! Well, if you watched the second Harry Potter movie, you saw the mess that the Pixies created in Professor Gilderoy Lockharts’ Defense Against The Dark Arts class. The Cornish Pixies are eight inches high electric blue winged creatures that like lifting people up by their ears.
According to the Ministry of Magic, a House-Elf is classified as a Being, but they aren’t necessarily treated like it by their masters. House-Elves are known to be loyal to their masters and serve and obey their wizard family. The most beloved Elf in the Harry Potter series is no other than Dobby. However, it is nice to keep in mind that Dobby was a very peculiar Elf. Dobby wanted his freedom and viewed it as a positive thing, yet, most Elfs do not want to be free from their master.
This fact is easier observed in the books rather than in the movie. Take Winky, for example, she was the House-Elf of the Crouch family. Winky was freed and fell into a depression and began drinking heavily.
“My poor Mr Crouch, what is he doing without Winky? He is needing me, he is needing my help! I is looking after the Crouches all my life, and my mother is doing it before me, and my grandmother is doing it before her… oh what is they saying if they knew Winky was freed? Oh the shame, the shame!“ – Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire
Acromantulas are one of the scariest beasts in the wizarding world. Acromantulas are a giant magical species of spiders that live in large colonies with hundreds of their species. These magical spiders are smart and able to communicate with humans. They are also capable of forming an emotional attachment to humans. However, they don’t have much self-control when it comes to feeding and will attack, and feed on, wizards or muggles that come their way, and that is why they are classified as Beasts instead of Beings.
In the movies, every Harry Potter fan gets the pleasure of meeting another of Hagrid’s pets, Aragog. Harry and Ron venture into the Forbidden Forest to get some answers about the Chamber of Secrets from Aragog, but end up almost being eaten by his babies.
“Of the many fearsome beasts and monsters that roam our land, there is none more curious or more deadly than the Basilisk, known also as the King of Serpents. This snake, which may reach gigantic size, and live many hundreds of years, is born from a chicken’s egg, hatched beneath a toad. Its methods of killing are most wondrous, for aside from its deadly and venomous fangs, the Basilisk has a murderous stare, and all who are fixed with the beam of its eye shall suffer instant death. Spiders flee before the Basilisk, for it is their mortal enemy, and the Basilisk flees only from the crowing of the rooster, which is fatal to it.” – ‘Most Macabre Monstrosities’ book read by Hermione in Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets.
The Basilisk was the creature chosen by Salazar Slytherin to reside in the chamber of secrets after he was driven out of Hogwarts by the other three founders. The giant serpent was to live in the castle until the true heir of Slytherin opened the chamber to release the beast and rid Hogwarts of all those students — half-bloods — Slytherin believed were not worthy to be at Hogwarts.
A phoenix is a large scarlet and gold mythological creature that can carry very heavy loads, and its tears have magical healing powers. Much like in the muggle myth of this creature, phoenixes are reborn from their axes after dying.
The first time the audience has contact with a phoenix is during the second Harry Potter film in Dumbledore’s office. Fawkes is Dumbledore’s phoenix and the one that comes to Harry’s aid in the Chamber of Secrets.
Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban
Probably the most beloved creature by any Harry Potter fan! Hippogriffs are extremely proud half-horse and half-eagle beasts, but also extremely dangerous creatures if offended.
“Now, firs’ thing yeh gotta know abou’ hippogriffs is, they’re proud. Easily offended, hippogriffs are. Don’t never insult one, ’cause it might be the last thing yeh do.” – Rubeus Hagrid teaching the Hogwarts students during his studies of magical creatures class.
Harry is the only Hogwarts student that wins Buckbeak’s (Hagrid’s Hippogriff) trust. Hermione and Harry end up saving Buckbeak’s life when they return back in time to save Serious Black’s life. After the end of the third movie, Buckbeak remains under Serious’s love and care.
If you ever cross a hippogriff, remember to bow!
A werewolf, also know as a lycanthrope, is a human that has been infected with lycanthropy. The incurable condition turns the person into an uncontrollable wolf during the full moon. The wolfsbane potion is the only potion that allows the werewolf to keep its human mind while he is transformed.
In the films, a werewolf’s form is a tall, malnourished, almost fur-free mixture of wolf and human-like creature, while in the books, a werewolf is described as a huge uncontrollable wolf.
Werewolves are extremely discriminated creatures within the Harry Potter universe. This is easier to notice in the books rather than in the movies. Remus Lupin and Fenrir Greyback are the two werewolves portrayed in the saga.
“So the boggart sitting in the darkness within has not yet assumed a form. He does not yet know what will frighten the person on the other side of the door. Nobody knows what a boggart looks like when he is alone, but when I let him out, he will immediately become whatever each of us most fears.” – Professor Remus Lupin.
Boggarts are shape-shifting non-beings, meaning they are not considered “alive”. A Boggart is shown in one of the most iconic Harry Potter scenes ever! This happens in Professor Lupin’s Defense Against the Dark Art class when he teaches his students how to ban a Boggart by using the banishing spell ‘Riddikulus’.
A similar class is taught by Albus Dumbledor in Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald when he was just a teacher at Hogwarts.
Like Boggarts, Dementors are also classified as non-beings. Dementors feed on human happiness and the general feeling of depression and despair to people in close proximity. Dementors were used by the Ministry of Magic as guards to the wizarding prison Azkaban.
The death sentence in Azkaban is giving with a Dementor’s kiss in which the dark creature sucks out a person’s soul, which was Serious Black’s fate after being captured at Hogwarts.
During the Second Wizarding War, fought on Lord Voldemort’s side, which led the Ministry of Magic to reform and not use Dementors in Azkaban anymore.
Dementors can’t be killed but the spell Expecto Patronum can be used as a defense against the dark creatures.
In the last two movies of the franchise, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows I and II, there are no new magical creatures introduced to us, yet, several creates do participate in the second wizarding war against Lord Voldemort. Some creatures like werewolves, acromantulas, dementors, and giants fought on the Dark Lord’s side, while in the Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows book the centaurs and the house-elves that worked at Hogwarts fought to protect the wizarding school.
Which magical creature is your favorite, and why? Let us know in the comments below.