The Fat Lady was a portrait who guarded the entrance to Gryffindor Tower at Hogwarts Castle. She asks for a password before she let anyone in, then swung her picture backward so that students could enter through a portrait hole.
Next to nothing is known about the Fat Lady's early life or what her name was when she was alive. She presumably was educated at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry and was Sorted into Gryffindor house.
It is unknown when or how she died, but it was by some time in the 1960s at the very latest (since her portrait already guarded the entrance to Gryffindor Tower by then).
As a portrait
After the Fat Lady died, a painting depicting her was hung at Hogwarts Castle, guarding the Gryffindor Common Room. It is also unknown who or what, if anything, guarded the common room before her. The Fat Lady was a dutiful guardian to the Gryffindor Tower, only granting entrance to those who produce the correct password. She had, however, been known for reprimanding students when they returned late, annoyed that they woke her up from her sleep. She had been known to move about occasionally and had a friend, Violet, who visited her, especially during such holidays as Christmas break. The two drank together frequently, once consuming several vats of wine that were in a picture of some drunk monks.
When Molly Prewett was a student, she returned to Gryffindor Tower at four o'clock in the morning after taking a late night stroll with her then boyfriend (now husband), Arthur Weasley, and they both got a telling-off from the Fat Lady.
After the end of their friendship, Severus Snape remained outside the Gryffindor Common Room until Lily came out to talk to him.
- "Where on earth have you all been?"
- —The Fat Lady scolding first year Gryffindors for being out late[src]
In 1991, the Fat Lady allowed first year Gryffindors into Gryffindor tower with the correct password. When Harry Potter and Ronald Weasley had left the dormitory late one night to duel Draco Malfoy at the third floor, she went off for a nightime visit, therefore meaning they, Hermione Granger (who had tried to stop them leaving) and Neville Longbottom (who had forgotten the password), could not enter, resulting in all four of them heading down to the third floor. By the time she had returned to her portrait and the four of them had returned back to the dormitory, she questioned them on where they had been. Later in December 1991, when Harry Potter left the dormitory at night under his Invisbility Cloak, she questioned who was there when Harry came through her portrait, as she could not see him due to him being fully invisible.
At the start of the school year when Harry Potter and Ronald Weasley arrived late to the castle, due to missing the Hogwarts Express and being forced to drive the Flying Ford Anglia to school (and crashing it into the Whomping Willow), the two initially did not know the password to enter. However, their friend Hermione Granger soon arrived to tell them the password.
- Percy Weasley: "And the Fat Lady, sir?"
- Albus Dumbledore: "Hiding in a map of Argyllshire on the second floor. Apparently she refused to let Black in without the password, so he attacked. She’s still very distressed, but once she’s calmed down, I’ll have Mr Filch restore her."
- — Albus Dumbledore telling Percy Weasley about the Fat Lady's mental state after the attack[src]
On Hallowe'en 1993, the Fat Lady's portrait was ruined by Sirius Black and pulled off the wall, although Argus Filch, the caretaker, restored her. She was temporarily replaced by Sir Cadogan, but later after he was removed, she returned to her original location and duties, with security trolls stationed in the hallway to prevent further vandalism.
- "Well, well, well, Violet’s just told me everything. Who’s just been chosen as school champion, then?"
- —The Fat Lady congratulating Harry Potter[src]
In 1994, when Harry Potter had been chosen as the fourth Triwizard champion, the Fat Lady was informed of this by her friend and fellow portrait Violet, and she seemed very eager to meet Harry when he went back to the common room, even bringing her friends from portraits with her.
When Harry Potter and Ron Weasley were called by Hermione Granger to go to the kitchen, the Fat Lady was annoyed that she had to open the door just after they planned to not use it. Later that year, after the Yule Ball ended, the Fat Lady and Violet were both drunk, and Harry Potter had some trouble getting her to open the door. Again, when Harry tried to enter the tower, the Fat Lady was asleep and he had to yell the password to wake her up, much to her irritation.
At the start of the school year, the Fat Lady initally refused to allow Harry to enter as he did know the password, but Neville Longbottom arrived and gave the correct password, Mimbulus mimbletonia, and she allowed them entry. When Harry, Ron and Hermione were discussing Dolores Umbridge's draconian detentions for Harry outside the common room, the Fat Lady was annoyed at them for waking her up with their talking. At the end of the school year, when Harry Potter sprinted out of the common room, she called upon him not to miss the End-of-Term Feast.
- Fat Lady: "What sort of time do you call this?"
- Harry Potter: "I’m really sorry — I had to go out for something important —"
- Fat Lady: "Well, the password changed at midnight, so you’ll just have to sleep in the corridor, won’t you?"
- Harry Potter: "You’re joking! Why did it have to change at midnight?"
- Fat Lady: "That’s the way it is. If you’re angry, go and take it up with the headmaster, he’s the one who’s tightened security."
- — Harry Potter arguing with the Fat Lady[src]
After she and her friend Violet had overindulged on an entire vat of five-hundred year old wine over Christmas 1996, meaning she was rather hungover and pale looking when Harry and Ron returned to Hogwarts in the castle a few days after new year in 1997.
Once, when Harry Potter returned late and woke her up, she refused to let him in, claiming that the password changed overnight. When Harry ran off to see Dumbledore regarding Slughorn's memory, she called after him and admitted that she was just kidding, though Harry proceeded to Dumbledore's office anyway.
Later that year, when Dumbledore was seemingly murdered by Severus Snape, the Fat Lady was in sorrow and she allowed Harry to enter the Tower without the password, while she cried. She presumably continued to carry out her same role after the war.
Known passwords used to enter the Gryffindor Common Room
- Abstinence (1996–97)
- Balderdash (1994–95)
- Banana Fritters (1994–95)
- Baubles (1996–97)
- Caput Draconis (Latin for "dragon's head") (1991–92)
- Dilligrout (1996–97)
- Fairy Lights (1994-95)
- Flibbertigibbet (1993–94)
- Fortuna Major (Latin for "greater fortune") (1993–94)
- Mimbulus mimbletonia (The only one that Neville Longbottom was able to remember) (1995–96)
- Oddsbodikins (1993–94)
- Pig Snout (1991–92)
- Quid Agis? (Latin for "What are you doing?") (1996–97)
- Scurvy Cur (1993–94)
- Tapeworm (1996–97)
- Wattlebird (1992–93)
The Fat Lady was, as suggested by her nickname, a "very fat woman" who was painted wearing a pink silk dress. On one occasion, her dress was said to be "satin," which is either a mistake or evidence that the Fat Lady was capable of changing her clothes.
She looked "rather paler than usual" while suffering the effects of a hangover, which might suggest that she had a pale complexion under normal circumstances.
Personality and traits
- "No password, no entrance."
- —The Fat Lady's strict attitude[src]
The Fat Lady was well known during her life for her indulgence in good food and drink, as well as a passion for "tip-top security," traits that her portrait would later possess.
As the guardian of the Gryffindor Tower's entrance, she was very dutiful, refusing entry to students who did not know the correct password. She was often irritated by those who would return late, waking her from her sleep. At such times, she would not hesitate to even lie to such students that the password has changed overnight, making them believe they have to sleep outside for the night.
Despite her dutiful and strict nature, she did have a sensitive side. After Sirius Black slashed her portrait, the Fat Lady was too scared to continue her duties, until Dumbledore provided her with additional security. After Dumbledore's death, she was so distraught that she allowed Harry Potter entry without the password and she began to cry.
Behind the scenes
- In the film adaptation of Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone, the Fat Lady is played by the late Elizabeth Spriggs. She is shown with black hair and a pink silk dress and she doesn't seem to have much personality. Oddly, this version of her is not particularly fat. Her portrait is located at the end of a corridor somewhere in the castle, but its location is never specified.
- The Fat Lady as portrayed by Spriggs moves only when approached by a student and very little at that. She also asks for the password, ensuring more effective concealment of the common room. In the first film, given the Fat Lady's dress and background, she seems to have lived in the sixteenth century Europe.
- The Spriggs version of the Fat Lady's portrait is also used in the video game adaptations of Philosopher's Stone and Chamber of Secrets.
- In the film adaptation of Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, she is played by Dawn French, who portrays the character with a more humorous side, such as giving her a bad singing voice (possibly from the saying "the fat lady sings"). This iteration of her is larger than the previous one. She is much louder and more flamboyant and would be obvious to any passing members of other houses, who would also be able to hear Gryffindor students as they gave her the password, which this version of the portrait is reluctant to listen to. By this time, her portrait has been moved to the seventh floor of the Grand Staircase Tower. The portrait is shown to swing backwards rather than forwards in this film as well. In the third film, given the Fat Lady's dress and background, she seems to have lived during the Classical period. When the Gryffindor students aren't impressed with her singing, she mutters "Plebs" as they pass her. She also wears a white dress instead of a pink one.
- The reason why the location of the Fat Lady's portrait was changed in the third film was because the filmmakers opted not to return to Gloucester Cathedral, where the scenes for the Fat Lady in the first film were shot.
- In the film adaptation of Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, it is suggested that the Fat Lady's portrait may actually be a hidden passageway or shortcut. This is because the Gryffindor Boys' Dormitory is shown to be located in a small tower at the corner of the Paved Courtyard close to the Clock Tower and it is presumed the Fat Lady's portrait remains located in the Grand Staircase.
- In Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets (video game), she is instead named The Pink Lady.
- In the video game versions of the fifth and sixth films, characters do not give the Fat Lady a password, as she simply opens to admit them upon recognising them.
- It can also be noted that although the location of the portrait changes in the films, the size and shape of the actual Gryffindor Common Room remains the same.
- The Fat Lady is a playable character in LEGO Harry Potter: Years 5-7, in which she, despite being opaque and not floating like ghosts, only has ghostly abilities (like scaring other characters).
- In Harry Potter: Hogwarts Mystery, the entrance to the Gryffindor Common Room appears to be a normal door, though it is possible that it leads to the Fat Lady's corridor.
- Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone (First appearance)
- Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone (film)
- Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone (video game)
- Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets
- Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets (video game)
- Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban
- Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban (film)
- Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban (video game)
- Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire
- Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix
- Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix (video game)
- Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince
- Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince (video game)
- Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows
- LEGO Harry Potter: Building the Magical World
- LEGO Harry Potter: Characters of the Magical World
- The Wizarding World of Harry Potter
- LEGO Harry Potter: Years 1-4
- LEGO Harry Potter: Years 5-7
- LEGO Harry Potter (Appears in portrait(s))
- Harry Potter Trading Card Game
- Pottermore (Empty frame only)
- Wizarding World (Empty frame only)
- Harry Potter: Hogwarts Mystery (Mentioned only)
- Harry Potter: Puzzles & Spells
Notes and references
- ↑ "World Exclusive Interview with J K Rowling," South West News Service, 8 July 2000 - "Hogwarts just serves Britain and Ireland."
- ↑ 2.00 2.01 2.02 2.03 2.04 2.05 2.06 2.07 2.08 2.09 2.10 Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone, Chapter 7 (The Sorting Hat)
- ↑ 3.0 3.1 3.2 3.3 Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, Chapter 11 (The Sorting Hat's New Song)
- ↑ 4.0 4.1 4.2 4.3 Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone, Chapter 9 (The Midnight Duel)
- ↑ 5.0 5.1 Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, Chapter 31 (The Third Task)
- ↑ 6.0 6.1 6.2 6.3 Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, Chapter 17 (A Sluggish Memory)
- ↑ Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Chapter 33 (The Prince's Tale)
- ↑ Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone, Chapter 12 (The Mirror of Erised)
- ↑ 9.0 9.1 Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, Chapter 5 (The Whomping Willow)
- ↑ 10.0 10.1 Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban Chapter 8 (Flight of the Fat Lady)
- ↑ 11.0 11.1 Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban Chapter 9 (Grim Defeat)
- ↑ 12.0 12.1 Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban Chapter 14 (Snape's Grudge)
- ↑ Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, Chapter 17 (The Four Champions)
- ↑ Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, Chapter 21 (The House-Elf Liberation Front)
- ↑ Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, Chapter 23 (The Yule Ball)
- ↑ Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, Chapter 13 (Detention with Dolores)
- ↑ Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, Chapter 38 (The Second War Begins)
- ↑ 18.0 18.1 18.2 Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, Chapter 23 (Horcruxes)
- ↑ 19.0 19.1 Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, Chapter 29 (The Phoenix Lament)
- ↑ Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, Chapter 12 (The Triwizard Tournament)
- ↑ Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, Chapter 25 (The Egg and the Eye)
- ↑ Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, Chapter 15 (The Unbreakable Vow)
- ↑ Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, Chapter 12 (Silver and Opals)
- ↑ Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, Chapter 22 (The Unexpected Task)
- ↑ Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban Chapter 15 (The Quidditch Final)
- ↑ Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban Chapter 5 (The Dementor)
- ↑ Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban Chapter 12 (The Patronus)
- ↑ Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, Chapter 24 (Sectumsempra)
- ↑ Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban Chapter 11 (The Firebolt)
- ↑ Writing by J.K. Rowling: "Hogwarts Portraits" at Wizarding World