Wordsligner • Dissident • Webwright

Harry Potter is just a Buffy Redux

Published 06 July 2009

Brian Lynch showed us that 30 Rock is a rip-off of the Muppets, but the Tina Fey comedy is not the only show with bizarre parallels to another.

J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter novels and Joss Whedon’s Buffy the Vampire Slayer, both released the same year, are eerily similar. The parallels cannot be intentional, but let me present the evidence and you can be the judge.

What follows is a comparison of several major and minor characters in both the novels and the series1 describing the roles they play. Could so much similarity be coincidence?

The Protagonist

Buffy Summers
Harry Potter

The protagonist is intense and driven. Gifted with powers far beyond those of his compatriots, The Protagonist is attractive and a natural but unwilling leader. She quickly finds herself isolated by the stress of her position, which leads to aggression and anger even against friends and allies. The protagonist has little respect rules and authority, and as such is constantly in trouble with The Authority Figure. Due to the supernatural nature of The Protagonist, he is the only thing that shields the world from evil, and she is continually tasked with covertly saving the day from ever-more-powerful enemies.

The Brainy Best Friend

Willow Rosenberg
Hermione Granger

Pretty, but bookish, the brainy best friend is a whiz at everything, possessing smarts and a diligent study ethic. This excess of brains and resourcefulness is balanced by social awkwardness. Then intense curiosity and intellect leads her to dabble in more powerful magics than she aught. Ironically, she finds herself attracted to The Right-Hand Man.

The Right-Hand Man

Xander Harris
Ron Weasley

The Right Hand Man lacks the attractiveness and charisma of the Protagonist. He’s usually the comic relief of the bunch, and finds himself caught in awkward and embarrassing situations. Although he acts the coward, beneath lies a backbone that shows itself in the face of evil and adversity.

The Standoffish Mentor

Rupert Giles
Professor Dumbledore

Aloof and anachronistic, this knowledgeable older man is both an asset and a puzzle to the Protagonist. He usually goes by only his last name. He offers clues and knowledge, but saving the day is always left to The Protagonist. Behind his wire-rimmed glasses is a steely interior that belies his bad-boy youth.

The Fantasy

Angel
Sirius Black

The Fantasy is the man of the protagonist’s dreams. He represents the normalcy and perfection that the protagonist desires, but the reality of the Fantasy’s past prevents this dream from becoming real. The Fantasy is ragged on the edges, on the verge of unhinged, and is forcibly excised from The Protagonist’s life.

The Authority Figure

Principal Snyder
Professor Snape

While they’re both on the same side, The Protagonist and The Authority Figure are continually at odds. The Protagonist and his friends often interpret The Authority Figure’s motives as evil, when really they come from the character seeing the world in a different way, having different information, and protecting his own interests. The Authority Figure can’t stand The Protagonist, but reluctantly finds himself helping her when danger is imminent.

The Rebellious Werewolf

Daniel "Oz" Osbourne
Remus Lupin

This brilliant, quiet, scrawny male transforms into a feral vicious beast once a month, which his school friends help him hide, and restrain him from harming innocents. He lacks respect for authority, intentionally violating the rules. This character always finds himself playing second or third fiddle, where he is a competent but unexciting ally.

The Rival

Cordelia Chase
Draco Malfoy

Rich, attractive and self-centered, The Rival and The Protagonist continually find their paths crossing, despite the fact that there is no love lost between them. They constantly compete. The Rival feels extreme social pressure to be something he really isn’t cut out to be, often acting cruelly to those she finds weak or unattractive. Yet The Rival often finds himself laughed at by others during her moments of weakness.

The Mother Hen

Joyce Summers
Molly Weasley

The working-class Mother Hen is a frumpy and stressed-out worrywart who constantly fusses over The Protagonist. She always acts in the best interest of the kids, to the point of being a hindrance to them stopping evil forces. Although initially kept in the dark about the kids activities, when she comes face-to-face with what The Protagonist faces, she becomes a steely protector.

The Supernatural Schoolyard

Sunnydale High
Hogwarts School

Although a beautiful, welcoming place during the day, the setting is home to monsters and creatures of great power. Travel outside at night is quite dangerous. Despite this, the main characters are constantly sneaking around academic hallways late at night. The setting is a place of great power, which draws trouble to it. The melodramatic antics of high school provide a constantly shifting backdrop over which the child characters are constantly struggling with adult intrigue and danger.

  1. At least as far as season three. That’s all that’s available free on Hulu.