J. K. Rowling loves building the magical lore of her wizarding world so it makes sense that there are a number of Harry Potter Easter eggs hidden away in Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald. From the more obvious references that most Potter fans would spot (such as Professor McGonagall’s cameo), to the blink-and-you’ll miss it magical Easter eggs (did you spot the Philosopher's Stone?), we’ve rounded up all the Harry Potter Easter eggs we spotted in Fantastic Beasts 2.
Before I continue, it's worth saying that here be spoilers for the beginning, middle, and end of the latest entry in the Fantastic Beasts series. Unless you are armed with an excellent Obliviate spell to delete your memory, you'll want to wait until after you see the movie to read these Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald Easter eggs. If you're ready then, let's head into the dark. *Lumos*
If you thought those winged scaly creatures pulling the prison coach at the start of the movie looked familiar, then you’ve either seen death or watched Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix. Lets just hope it’s the latter for the sake of the tone of this feature. Yep, those goth horses are Thestrals, the long-suffering Hogwarts carriage-pullers that Harry only sees for the first time after witnessing the tragic death of Cedric Diggory.
While Fantastic Beasts 2 is a little lighter on the, y’know, beasts than the last movie, this is a nice touch as we catch a glimpse of the use of Thestrals in the wider wizarding world. Thestrals are known for their wonderful sense of direction, as well as unnerving looks and carnivorous nature, and therefore make ideal creatures for an important journey such as the transfer of a Very Dark Wizard(™). They also make a particularly cinematic addition to Grindelwald’s thrilling escape.
A young Professor McGonagall
Ah. Yes. The addition of Professor McGonagall as a Fantastic Beasts 2 Easter egg. On the surface, this is a lovely cameo for the young Transfiguration teacher, making us feel even more like we are wrapping ourselves in a cosy Gryffindor comfort blanket as we return to Hogwarts to witness the childhood troubles of Leta LeStrange. However, as much discussed on the internet, there is a slight problem here. Namely, that according to official Potter lore, Minerva McGonagall wasn’t actually born until 1935, years after her appearance in this particular flashback. Oh dear.
Now, the good news is that, because Twitter, there are plenty of theories. An interesting one says that this is McGonagall’s mother but, according to lore found in Pottermore, home of all official Harry Potter canon, her name was Isobel and she was not a teacher. Hmmm. Another, of course, involves a Time Turner yet something in me really can’t see the Ministry of Magic letting one out of its sight just so that Dumbledore can solve staffing issues. JK Rowling has not commented just yet so perhaps a grander plan is at work here, but it might be safer to assume that even best-selling authors aren’t immune to the odd anachronism.
A McLaggen ancestor
The Crimes of Grindelwald might not be packed with as many Easter eggs as you would expect but listen out and you’ll hear some familiar names from the wizarding world. When Ministry of Magic officials crash Dumbledore’s Defence Against the Dark Arts class and send all the students out of the room, a young man called McLaggen tells the men that the wizard is the best teacher they’ve ever had.
There’s no need for theories about time turners here. This is clearly an ancestor of Cormac McLaggen, pompous addition to the Gryffindor Quidditch team, and stalker of Hermione Granger in Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince. It’s mentioned by Horace Slughorn in the same book that McLaggen is very well connected in the Ministry and this could very well be a young Tiberius McLaggen who grows up to be a high ranking official.
If you had no idea how to process the news that Nagini, Voldemort's trusty companion, was actually once a witch, welcome to the club. As explained by Fantastic Beasts 2, Nagini is what's known as a Maledictus, a witch cursed to transform nightly into a creature. It's hard to imagine that this young and clearly heartbroken woman is to become the Dark Lord's Horcrux and, amongst others, the murderer of Professor Snape.
Unfortunately she doesn't get much of a story here, only used as foil for Creedence as he quests to find his true family. The wizard circus merely acts as an explanation for the fact that the curse will eventually become permanent, and we get a tease as to what she will eventually become. In terms of what happens next, there will clearly be a lot of explaining to do in the next few movies that will set Nagini on her journey to meeting Voldemort at his weakest in an Albanian forest. Thank the lord for all that monologuing in Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone, eh?
Dumbledore’s Boggart lesson
Before the role was cursed by dear old Voldemort, Dumbledore was Hogwarts’ Defence Against the Dark Arts teacher and it’s clear from Leta’s flashback sequence that the syllabus hasn’t changed much. In the same classroom as Remus Lupin would teach Harry and his friends many years later in Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, Dumbledore has his class lining up in front of the very same oversized mirrored wardrobe in exactly the same way to learn how to tackle Boggarts.
Just as Neville would see Professor Snape looming up in front of him decades later, Newt sees the shackles of a desk job before shouting Riddikulus and watching it transform into something absurd. It’s a clever way of quickly telling Potterheads what’s what without needing much explanation. The only question at this point isn’t ‘what’s going on?’, it’s ‘Why is Leta so afraid of a piece of cloth?’ This mirrors Harry Potter’s class witnessing werewolf Lupin’s fear of the moon but not understanding why.
The Deathly Hallows symbol
When Leta wanders away from the rest of the Ministry officials in Hogwarts, she finds her way into one of her old classrooms. As you would, she sits at her old desk and opens the lid to peer at the scratchings inside. There, clear as day, are L + N, a reflection of the carefree loved up Hogwarts days before she set her eyes on Newt’s brother Theseus. However, look around the inside lid of the desk and there’s another engraving lurking.
The combined triangle, line, and circle that make up the symbol of the Deathly Hallows aren’t far from the lovebird’s names, reminding us of Grindelwald’s, and subsequently Voldemort’s quest for all three. Wielding the powerful combination of the Elder wand, Cloak of Invisibility, and the Resurrection Stone is seen by many as being the ‘Master of Death’, something that somewhat ironically, many wizards have perished in the pursuit of.
He’s not really an Easter egg given that he’s got dialogue and acts as some much needed comic relief amidst the darkness of a black sheet drowned Paris but alchemist Nicolas Flamel is a key character in Potter lore. Harry Potter’s very first Chocolate Frog card that he opens on the way to his first year at Hogwarts features this very pale and very old wizard. As the creator of the Philosopher’s Stone, he is key to the very first Harry Potter adventure as the boy wizard and his friends puzzle the mystery behind a locked door and what lies beneath the feet of a three-headed dog called Fluffy.
After Voldemort attempts and fails to get his hands on the stone, which would have granted him immortality, Flamel and Dumbledore decide to destroy it to stop it falling into the wrong hands. It’s somewhat bittersweet to look at Flamel in Paris, already a pale shell in 1927, long before the events of Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone. The words of Dumbledore years later come echoing back. When Harry asks, appalled, if Flamel and his wife will die, the wise wizard responds. “To one as young as you, I’m sure it seems incredible, but to Nicolas and Perenelle, it really is like going to bed after a very, very long day. After all, to the well-organised mind, death is but the next great adventure.” *Sob*
The Philosopher’s Stone
Leading directly on from wizened wizard Flamel is the shiny rock that keeps him from shuffling off this mortal coil. Hilariously, instead of being guarded by a Devil's Snare or even a giant chess set, the Philosopher's Stone - Sorcerer's if you are in the US - is just on a shelf in Flamel's house. Blink and you'll miss it but when Flamel goes to get an album from his cupboard, the glowing rock is happily sitting on a shelf minding its own business. Maybe he tells guests it's his energy crystal and not the one thing keeping him alive and immortal. Might I suggest at least a Ring doorbell system?
A Malfoy sighting?
Now perhaps this is clutching at magical straws but it certainly looks like there is at least one Malfoy lurking as a Fantastic Beasts 2 Easter egg. First off is the little blonde boy in Dumbledore's class. Platinum blonde like Lucius and Draco? Check. Slytherin? Also check. It would definitely make sense for at least one of the ancestors of the Pureblood family to be lurking in Hogwarts in 1927 and this boy would make sense. Another potential Malfoy is hiding in plain sight at Grindelwald’s rally behind Jacob and Queenie before the latter absolutely crushes our hearts into a fine powder ideal for potion making. Again, this man has long silver hair and a definite attraction to the dark side of the wizarding world and ruling over muggles, setting off Malfoy alarms everywhere.
The Mirror of Erised
And finally, the Mirror of Erised. The huge mirror that Dumbledore stares into is none other than the same piece of magical furniture that Harry stumbles across in The Philosopher's Stone. Peer into your reflection and the Mirror of Erised will show you your heart's desire - yes, that's Erised backwards. In Harry's case, an orphan who had never known his parents, he sees his family around him but as Dumbledore warns, it doesn't do any good to stare into the mirror for long. He has clearly learned the hard way as his younger self stares fixated at the face of Grindelwald, the man he most certainly loved, who has turned against him.
Looking for more wizarding goodness? Read all about about the questions we have after watching the Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald ending.