Today (June 26) marks 20 years since the publication of the first book in JK Rowling’s momentous Harry Potter series. And it truly is a day to celebrate: Rowling overcame financial difficulty, depression, and a dozen publishing house rejections before her incredible story was introduced to the world.
Readers of all ages have Rowling to thank for their love of books, but I’m not here today to talk about her success. Her hundreds of millions of dollars speak for themselves, thank you very much. Instead, I’m taking a deep literary dive into Rowling’s work in order to discuss a crucial flaw of her prose. I’m talking, of course, about the incredibly lazy names she gave objects and characters in her Harry Potter series.
Sure, Rowling created a world of magic and wonder that has delighted the hearts of literally millions of people. But she also named the Hogwarts House whose mascot is a snake “Slytherin,” as if “Snakey-Snake” was too on-the-nose. For the first time ever, here is a ranked list of the 10 laziest attempts by JK Rowling to name something in Harry Potter:
10. The Sorting Hat
The Sorting Hat is A. sentient and B. responsible for one of the most important moments of a witch/wizard’s life, but apparently it isn’t smart enough to give itself a proper name.
9. The Knight Bus
Get it, like a night bus? Tricky, tricky.
It’s as though they let a child who only knows two words name a candy.
7. The Fat Lady
I guess at Hogwarts it’s cool to just say mean things whenever you want.
6. Sirius Black
Well let’s see, this character will be very serious and wear a lot of black. Perhaps I’ll call him…Gloomy H. Guss.
5. The Hogwarts Express
I guess if a train only has two stops it’d have to be an express, right? Also, what are they using this train for during the majority of the year? It must make like six trips total between September and June. With UK housing prices as high as they are, I’m sure they could make some dank cash by Airbnb-ing sections of the train to squibs.
4. The Chamber of Secrets
The Chamber of Secrets is a supposedly secret chamber made by Salazar Slytherin just before he bitterly parted from Hogwarts. Here’s the thing: If the existence of the secret underground chamber you created is a known fact, and is also mockingly known as “The Chamber of Secrets,” you fucked something up really bad.
3. Wizard’s Chess
After playing a game of Wizard’s Chess, Harry and Ron walked down the Wizard’s Sidewalk to buy a cup of Wizard’s Coffee from the Wizard’s Barista.
2. The Ministry of Magic
I find this particularly irksome because the Ministry of Magic isn’t just a ministry devoted just to magic—it’s the UK wizarding world’s primary governing body. I’m sure there are things it deals with beyond the technical logistics of magic. It probably manages lots of complicated laws and menial paperwork and criminal matters that have nothing to do with magic, like a wizard just straight-up punching another wizard in the Wizard’s Face.
In a children’s series filled with creatures who have fun, magical names, she chose to name one of the creatures Kreacher. Why did Kreacher get the short end of the name stick? Is it because he’s very ugly? In that case, why not just name him Ugly like she did the Fat Lady? Have some consistency, Rowling.