SPOILER ALERT: The following article contains SPOILERS for Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald. Proceed at your own risk.
Lovers of franchises know that they’re always packed with Easter Eggs, references and callbacks for eagle-eyed fans to hunt out. And Harry Potter spin-off Fantastic Beasts is no different. We took our magnifying glass to the Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them sequel, The Crimes of Grindelwald, and rounded up all the Easter Eggs we spotted, while also getting the cast to weigh in. You can watch them discuss their favourites in the video above.
You might have recognised the creatures at the start of the film pulling the carriage meant to transfer Grindelwald from his cell at the American Ministry of Magic. They’re Thestrals. We first encounter Thestrals in The Goblet of Fire when Harry Potter first sees them after witnessing Cedric Diggory’s death. Luna Lovegood explains to Harry that only people who have been touched by death are able to see them – the skeletal bat-like horses remain invisible to those who have never been affected by death, hence Ron being unable to see them at that moment. The Thestrals Harry sees – and later rides on – are Hogwarts’ own herd, which Hagrid believes are the only trained large group of Thestrals in Britain.
The Elder Wand
Wand aficionados will recognise Grindelwald’s magical instrument as the Elder Wand that makes up one of the three Deathly Hallows, so critical to the final two Harry Potter films. The wand was coveted by Voldemort not only because it was meant to be the most powerful wand in existence, but also because possessing it alongside the other two Deathly Hallows (the Resurrection Stone and the Cloak of Invisibility) gave the bearer power over death, according to the Tale of the Three Brothers. Interestingly, the Elder Wand’s core is made up of thestral tail-hair. Grindelwald came to be in possession of it after stealing it from its previous owner, wandmaker Mykew Gregorovitch. At the end of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Harry ends up snapping it in two and throwing it over the Hogwarts viaduct. And that was the end of that.
Interestingly, the symbol for the Deathly Hallows is integral to The Crimes of Grindelwald — and in the film’s logo, the different elements of the symbol are reflected, with the ‘I’ of Grindelwald forming the Elder Wand, and the ‘G’ and ‘A’ of his name taking the shape of the symbols of the other two.
We knew of Nagini’s appearance in the film way before The Crimes of Grindelwald hit screens. But we’re looking forward to seeing how her story unfolds as the film series continues. Nagini was Voldemort’s snake, and also a Horcrux containing a piece of the Dark Lord’s soul. Here, we see her in human form, played by Claudia Kim, and watch her transform into a snake at will. She’ll later become trapped inside her snake body.
Kappa at the Circus Arcanus
A Familiar Institution
Every Potterhead’s favourite school of witchcraft and wizardry, Hogwarts makes a welcome appearance in Fantastic Beasts 2. Both in the 1927 present and also via flashback whisking us back to Newt Scamander and Leta Lestrange’s schooldays, where he was an awkward loner and she was a bullied outcast.
As we head to Hogwarts for the first time, we hear the unmistakeable strains of John Williams’ “Hedwig’s Theme” from the Harry Potter films.
Dumbledore Teaching Defence Against the Dark Arts
It’s a cursed role, and teachers of this subject come and go with alarming regularity. Dumbledore always maintained that he taught Transfiguration but here he’s teaching DADA to Newt, Leta and their fellow students.
In the class we see Albus taking at Hogwarts, he’s teaching the Riddikulus charm to prepare students for dealing with boggarts, which take the shape of their opponent’s biggest fear. The class, meanwhile, takes almost exactly the same shape as the one Professor Lupin teaches in The Prisoner of Azkaban. The cabinet is the same, the pupils are all lined up similarly, and Leta’s turn mirrors Harry’s in that something genuinely unsettling and pivotal to the story emerges as she faces the boggart. Not only that, but Harry’s boggart takes the form of a dementor, which looks ethereal like a billowing dark shroud, while Leta’s is a similarly eerie floaty white sheet. It’s not until later in the film that we uncover what the image means, although it’s also redolent of the Cloak of Invisibility, one of the three Deathly Hallows.
You may remember Cormac McLaggan as a contemporary of Harry Potter’s – Quidditch player and one-time courter of Hermione. As Aurors turn up at Hogwarts, Dumbledore is overseeing a dueling club session (remember Gilderoy Lockhart doing the same in The Chamber of Secrets?). Albus refers to one of the students by name – McLaggan – who is probably a relative of Cormac’s. The McLaggans are thought to be an influential wizarding family.
A Professor McGonagall walks the halls of 1927 Hogwarts. It’s a stretch to think it’s Maggie Smith’s Minerva McGonagall because the dates don’t add up, but she could well be a relative.
Famous from the Harry Potter films, the Whomping Willow plays a special role in The Crimes of Grindelwald as the location of an adorable flashback moment between Newt and Leta as Hogwarts pupils. It’s when Newt introduces Leta to his Bowtruckle, and it serves to illustrate their intimacy.
Newt + Leta = Severus + Lily
This sweet flashback sequence showing their connection mirrors Snape’s memory of himself with Harry Potter’s mother, Lily, as schoolchildren by the tree, seen in The Deathly Hallows Part 2. The setting looks the same, and Lily is, like Leta, bullied – here by her muggle sister who labels her a freak. Severus, like Newt, is a misfit and like Snape and Lily, Newt and Leta find comfort in their friendship.
The Names on the Hogwarts Desk
When Leta Lestrange returns to Hogwarts, she opens up one of the old wooden desks in the classroom – which is presumably the desk at which she used to sit as a pupil. Scratched on the underside of the lid are the initials ‘L+N’ which she likely engraved during the throes of her young love affair with Newt. But look closely, and you’ll see some other names. One of which is ‘Nigellus’ which may or may not be a reference to Phineas Nigellus Black, former Slytherin headmaster at Hogwarts and Sirius Black’s brother. He died in 1925 at the age of 78 and was also a student at Hogwarts prior to becoming head. Did he scratch his own name under that desk? Or, as the least popular headmaster the school has ever known, could it have been a mischievous student having learned his middle name?
In The Crimes of Grindelwald, Ministry of Magic official Torquil Travers is investigating Albus Dumbledore. It’s possible that he’s a member of the same Travers line that the Death Eater first seen in Order of the Phoenix belongs to. This Travers family is one of the Sacred Twenty-Eight families published in the Pure-Blood Directory in the 1930s. Of which the Rosier family is also one.
Gellert Grindelwald’s right-hand woman is a mysterious devotee by the name of Vinda Rosier. She presumably belongs to the Rosier bloodline referenced in the Harry Potter series, the most prominent of which was arguably Evan Rosier. Evan was one of Lord Voldemort’s Death Eaters, first mentioned in The Goblet of Fire. He was ultimately killed by Alastor Moody. Both Rosiers could be related to Druella Black (née Rosier), mother to Bellatrix Lestrange, Narcissa Malfoy and Andromeda Tonks. Which suggests we could well bump into Druella at some point in the Fantastic Beasts franchise.
For the Greater Good
Grindelwald says this phrase when demanding the loyalty of his followers, to remind them that their actions are working towards a larger purpose. It was first used in The Deathly Hallows, when Albus Dumbledore’s brother Aberforth is recounting the story of their sister Ariana and Grindelwald’s role in her death. Fans of Edgar Wright’s Cornetto Trilogy, incidentally, will also likely associate it with Hot Fuzz.
Mirror of Erised
We first saw the Mirror of Erised in the first film of the franchise, Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone. Erised is ‘Desire’ spelled backwards, and the mirror, Dumbledore tells a young Potter, “shows the most desperate desire of a person’s heart”. In The Crimes of Grindelwald, when Albus looks into the mirror he sees the blood pact he made years ago with Gellert. We see them cut their hands and touch their bleeding palms together, which creates an ornate vial on a chain. Grindelwald wears this throughout the film until the Niffler swipes it at the end. Dumbledore finally sees Gellert Grindelwald’s present-day form reflected back at him.
When Newt needs to slip into the Ministry of Magic unnoticed alongside Tina, he drinks Polyjuice Potion to disguise himself as his brother, head Auror, Theseus. While inside, he’s discovered and the potion wears off. It mirrors a scene in The Deathly Hallows when Harry, Ron and Hermione drink the potion to disguise themselves as officials in order to find Dolores Umbridge and the critical Horcrux locket. Hermione also later uses Polyjuice in The Deathly Hallows Part 2 to adopt the guise of Bellatrix in order to infiltrate her Gringotts vault – again looking for a Horcrux.
In The Crimes of Grindelwald, Newt and Tina suspect that Yusef Kama – the enigmatic half-brother to Leta Lestrange – has scars on his hand that indicate he’s taken an Unbreakable Vow. In Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, Snape, working as a spy, makes an Unbreakable Vow with Narcissa Malfoy, overseen by Bellatrix Lestrange, in which he promises to protect Draco in order to allow him to carry out his duty of killing Dumbledore, and take on the task should Draco fail. Snape does end up taking on the task from Draco, but we later find out that it is in collusion with Dumbledore, who is dying from a curse he picked up trying to destroy a Horcrux anyway.
Nicolas Flamel and the Philosopher’s Stone
It’s no secret that the famed Nicolas Flamel appears in The Crimes of Grindelwald, but look closely when he opens his magical cabinet and you’ll see the original Philosopher’s Stone — also known as the Sorcerer’s Stone — from the first Harry Potter movie. The Stone was sought by Voldemort, because it was the key to creating the Elixir of Life which could extend lifespan. And turn any metal into gold, naturally. Interestingly, the heavily made-up Flamel is played by Brontis Jodorowsky, the actor son of highly regarded Chilean director Alejandro Jodorowsky.
In Flamel’s laboratory, we see him communicating with the head of the American magic community via a photograph in a book. Is it the same book that belonged to Credence Barebone’s original guardian, Irma Dugard, that the film makes a point of showing us? If the woman has been in touch with Flamel, a close friend of Albus Dumbledore, what could that mean for the future of the franchise?
In choosing the name of the secret Dumbledore brother, could J.K. Rowling have been paying a subtle tribute to former Albus Dumbledore actor, Richard Harris? When Grindelwald reveals Credence’s true identity at the end, he calls him Aurelius Dumbledore. Richard Harris famously played Marcus Aurelius in Ridley Scott’s Oscar-winning swords-and-sandals epic Gladiator. Harris sadly passed away before he could reprise the role of the Hogwarts headmaster in the third Harry Potter film.
In The Crimes of Grindelwald, Newt uses a substance known as Dittany as a healing treatment for one of his magical creatures. Hermione also used Essence of Dittany on Ron’s splinched arm after they escape the occupied Ministry of Magic in The Deathly Hallows. Dittany is a healing herb that causes fresh skin to grow over a wound.
Look closely at the ornate ceiling inside the French Ministry of Magic. References to magical creatures include ‘Centaur’, ‘Oiseau Tonnerre’, or Thunderbird, and ‘Clabbert’. But you’ll also see ‘Plimpy’ and ‘L’Eruptif’, or Erumpent. When Harry, Ron and Hermione go to the Lovegoods’ home in The Deathly Hallows Part 2, they meet Luna’s father, Xenophilius, who tells them that his daughter is out fishing for Plimpies. He notes that the family has an excellent recipe for freshwater Plimpy soup. Hermione also notices an Erumpent horn hanging on the wall of the Lovegoods’ house.
At the end of the film, we see Grindelwald holed up in Nurmengard Castle in Austria, where he’s taken both Queenie and Credence. The castle was originally built by Grindelwald as a prison to hold those who oppose him, but it also serves as his base of operations. After he’s defeated in 1945, he winds up being imprisoned at Nurmengard himself — some kind of poetic justice — remaining there until his death in 1998.
Watch the cast discuss their favourite Crimes of Grindelwald Easter Eggs in the video below.