If Hermione’s cat had actually managed to eat Ron’s rat at the beginning of Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, the rest of the series may have played out radically differently. What was seemingly a small skirmish at the beginning of the film between the cat and rat could have had an enormous impact on the plot if it had gone the other way. If Scabbers the rat had been removed early on in the series by Hermione’s heroic cat, many key deaths and events could have been avoided or delayed.
While unknown at the beginning of the film, Scabbers turns out to be a secret Animagus (a wizard or witch with the ability to change form between human and animal at will). His reveal is one of Timothy Spall’s favorite Scabbers moments, and his human identity is none other than the traitorous Peter Pettigrew, who becomes a key player in the return of Voldemort in later films. Had Crookshanks been successful in his quest to destroy Scabbers/Peter Pettigrew, Voldemort’s return and the destruction he caused may have been delayed.
Despite there only being one instance in the movie where Crookshanks attacks Scabbers, the cat in the book actively tries to kill the rat on multiple occasions. At one point, Ron finds Scabbers missing, with only a small patch of blood and a few ginger hairs remaining. Of course, this was merely Pettigrew faking his death once again. But it does show how close Crookshanks was to ridding the series of a crucial villain.
Sirius Black Would Still Be On The Run
After Sirius gave up being a Secret Keeper of the Potter family’s location, Pettigrew takes the position over and ends up betraying the Potters, using Sirius as a scapegoat for his crimes. While Pettigrew’s premature death may initially sound like a largely positive thing, it wouldn’t have changed Sirius Black’s predicament in the Prisoner of Azkaban and beyond. The wizarding community at large would still believe that Sirius committed the murders and atrocities that, in reality, Pettigrew is guilty of. Precious few characters in the story know the truth about Sirius and Pettigrew, and if Crookshanks had silenced Pettigrew early on, there would be no one to clear Sirius’s name. Therefore, even with Pettigrew dead, Sirius would still be on the run from the authorities.
Harry Potter Would Hate And Hunt Sirius
While the rest of the wizarding community despises and fears Black, it’s likely that Harry himself would seek to hunt him down, eerily foreshadowing Harry’s future as an Auror. During Prisoner of Azkaban, when Harry first learns about Black’s crimes against Harry’s parents, he initially hates his godfather and is hell-bent on killing him. It is only at the end of the film that he unravels the truth behind the mystery after a careful explanation of the fact by Lupin, Sirius, and Pettigrew. Lupin, who only learned of the truth after seeing Pettigrew on the Marauder’s Map, would also still believe was Sirius guilty of crimes he did not commit. Without Pettigrew, it’s doubtful that Sirius alone would have been able to convince both Lupin and Harry of the truth.
Lord Voldemort’s Resurrection Would Be Delayed (But Still Happen)
In between Prisoner of Azkaban and Goblet of Fire, Pettigrew travels to a remote part of Albania, where Voldemort’s soul fled to. It is Pettigrew who first seeks out and assists Voldemort to return him to his full power. If Crookshanks had eaten Pettigrew, then it follows that Voldemort’s resurrection would be delayed, possibly for decades. Without Pettigrew’s support, Voldemort would remain as a pathetic soul, wandering the forests of Albania until another of his followers sought him out. But while his return would be delayed by Pettigrew’s demise, it likely would not be stopped indefinitely.
Harry Would Never Have Been In The Triwizard Tournament
After Pettigrew finds and nurses Voldemort back to a semi-stable state, they are joined by Barty Crouch Jr., as seen in Harry’s vision at the beginning of Goblet of Fire. During this time, the three of them plan out how to fully revive Voldemort, which involves Mad-Eye putting Harry’s name in the Goblet so that Harry would enter the Triwizard Tournament. But if Pettigrew hadn’t resurrected Voldemort, none of this would be possible. Effectively, Harry’s name would never have come out of the goblet of fire, and his fourth year of school at Hogwarts may have played out as a bystander to events, rather than at the center of them.
Cedric Diggory Would Never Have Died
Perhaps the most brutal act Pettigrew ever personally committed was the murder of Cedric Diggory at the end of Goblet of Fire. But if Pettigrew had been killed by Crookshanks in the third film, the Triwizard Tournament would have never been rigged, and the Triwizard Cup would never have become a Portkey. Whether Cedric ended up winning the historic Triwizard Tournament or not is irrelevant, since he wouldn’t have been transported to the grave site and wouldn’t have died by Pettigrew’s hand. If he had won, he could have lived a full and happy life with his thousand-galleon winnings.
Harry Might Have Been Able To Finish School At Hogwarts
With Voldemort stuck in Albania and no Pettigrew to help him, Harry’s latter years at Hogwarts would play out differently than they did in the films. While life at the magical school is anything but “normal,” Harry would likely have been able to enjoy his education without the threat of death constantly looming over his head. His fourth year would be spent watching the Triwizard Tournament from the sidelines. With no word from Voldemort, the Ministry, which helped fund Hogwarts, would likely have never sent Umbridge to interfere at the school in Harry’s fifth year. Beyond this, he may have even been able to complete his seventh year at Hogwarts and go on to live for decades without fear.
How Lord Voldemort’s Defeat Would Be Different
Nevertheless, while Harry’s years at Hogwarts may have gone off without a hitch, Voldemort’s return is an inevitable fact. With Horcruxes to spare, it would only be a matter of time before a faithful follower of his sought him out and restored him to his full power. However, Pettigrew’s early demise may have given Dumbledore and Harry extra time to hunt Horcruxes. By destroying Voldemort’s Horcruxes, they increase their chances of defeating him when the time comes for him and Harry to face off once more.
Why Crookshanks Didn’t Eat Scabbers
The story of Harry Potter could have been radically different if Crookshanks had succeeded in eating Scabbers. But despite multiple attempts at killing the rat, the fact remains that he was unable to. Scabbers was able to evade and escape every time. Perhaps it was the years of playing the part of a rat that honed Pettigrew’s slippery abilities. Even if Crookshanks had managed to catch and corner Scabbers, it’s likely that Scabbers would have transformed back into a human before being devoured, even though this would reveal his true identity as Pettigrew. Nonetheless, Crookshanks was inches away from becoming the unsung hero of the Harry Potter series.
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