Even before Professor Umbridge began imposing rules that were tighter than Professor McGonagall’s bun, there were rather a lot of things students at Hogwarts weren’t allowed to have.
From edible contraband to the just plain weird, not all the 437 items on Filch’s banned list were there for obvious reasons.
And when Professor Umbridge came along with Hogwarts’ first-ever High Inquisitor role, the banned list became so exhaustive, long and boring, we couldn’t possibly replicate the entire thing here without turning into a potent Sleeping Draught. So here are some of the more significant items that students would face severe punishment for possessing...
Fred and George Weasley’s joke shop may have become a roaring success, but let us not forget the days they were wheelin’ and dealin’ on the Hogwarts black market. Filch and Mrs Norris and then later Professor Umbridge were driven to distraction by the clever contraband concocted, snuck in and sold by the troublesome twins.
Most wanted were their range of Skiving Snackboxes designed to get students out of lessons:
‘They’re double-ended, colour-coded chews,’ George explains. ‘If you eat the orange half of the Puking Pastilles, you throw up. Moment you’ve been rushed out the lesson for the hospital wing, you swallow the purple half –’
‘– which restores you to full fitness, enabling you to pursue the leisure activity of your choice...’
Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix
Another popular choice was Nosebleed Nougat which, quite predictably, brought on a dramatic nosebleed and allowed you to rush out of lessons clutching your conk.
In an attempt to combat the influx of mischief-making aids which streamed into Hogwarts from the flame-haired brothers, Filch decided to ban anything bought from Weasleys’ Wizard Wheezes – which, as you can imagine, made them more popular than ever, especially as the pair came up with a special Owl Order Service which disguised banned items as something innocuous.
No dog, other than perhaps Fang the boarhound, would be advised to try catching a Fanged Frisbee. The entertaining contraptions hover on their own and are believed to have terrifying pointy fangs – a deadly wizarding sport indeed.
When Harry first accessed the Room of Requirement, otherwise known as ‘the place where everything is hidden’, he found a selection of Fanged Frisbees among other detritus stowed hastily away from the prying eyes of Mrs Norris by generations of students.
Teenagers and love potions are a bad mix. And as Ron has the misfortune to discover when he consumed a spiked batch of Chocolate Cauldrons intended for Harry, love potions can get stronger, not weaker, the longer they are kept.
Thanks to Fred and George (again), those that consider themselves unlucky in love could order their potions disguised as perfume or cough syrup from Weasleys’ Wizard Wheezes.
‘Romilda Vane,’ said Ron softly, and his whole face seemed to illuminate as he said it, as though hit by a ray of purest sunlight.
They stared at each other for almost a whole minute, before Harry said, ‘This is a joke, right? You’re joking.’
‘I think… Harry, I think I love her,’ said Ron in a strangled voice.
Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince
Cramming for examinations is difficult even for wizards, so Harry and Ron were quite tempted while revising for the O.W.L.s to neck a bottle of Baruffio’s Brain Elixir offered to them by Ravenclaw Eddie Carmichael. Unfortunately for them, prefect Hermione had already confiscated it.
Probably for the best. It’s made from dried Doxy droppings anyway.
If it wasn’t for Harry’s early encounter with Neville Longbottom’s Remembrall that Draco Malfoy so rudely flew off with in his first year, he wouldn’t have become the youngest Gryffindor Seeker in a century.
However, the fact it highlighted Harry’s prowess on a broomstick aside, it’s a pretty counterproductive globe resembling a paperweight, which changes colour when you’ve forgotten something. Maddeningly, a Remembrall doesn’t remind you what you’ve forgotten, but are banned from Hogwarts examination halls in case they at least try and give you a hint.
For obvious reasons, the Wizarding Examinations Authority is not very keen on Hogwarts students having Auto-Answer Quills either.
Sort of like the wizarding equivalent of Google Autofill, these quills add in all the information your brain doesn’t include. Sadly, Detachable Cribbing Cuffs and Self-Correcting Ink are also no-nos during exam season.
Sadly for us, there were no actual reported encounters with Ever-Bashing Boomerangs during Harry Potter’s time at Hogwarts, but the magical version of these Antipodean objects make an appearance on Filch’s banned list during Harry’s fourth year. Although we’ve never met one, one could assume this works like a regular boomerang, except a slightly more violent one.
Yo-yos are a favourite of all schoolyards, but the wizarding kind sound even trickier to handle. Louder, in fact. These, once again, were banned in Harry’s fourth year, presumably for the good of Hogwarts’ ears.
Under Professor Umbridge’s reign of irritation, it wasn’t just fun things that were banned at Hogwarts – it was access to actual information too. Before it became impossible to deny, Xenophilius Lovegood’s ‘lunatic rag’ The Quibbler was one of the rare corners of the wizarding press to admit You-Know-Who was back. After it ran a detailed interview with Harry, The Quibbler topped Filch’s most-wanted list (on Umbridge’s orders), in the process pretty much guaranteeing that every student in the school read the article.
Professor Umbridge was stalking the school, stopping students at random and demanding that they turn out their books and pockets: Harry knew she was looking for copies of The Quibbler, but the students were several steps ahead of her. The pages carrying Harry’s interview had been bewitched to resemble extracts from textbooks if anyone but themselves read it, or else wiped magically blank until they wanted to peruse it again.
Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix