Forums: Index > The Wizengamot > Character Images and Infoboxes

As the West End production of Harry Potter and the Cursed Child is providing new images and descriptions for characters, several discussions have arisen about which is the best information to use for a character infobox, the new image and related details from the play, or the previous ones from the films. There seems to be a couple different approaches being favored, so it's probably best to discuss them here to decide on a common approach. As an overarching rule of HPW:CANON details provided by JKR in any written work take priority as Tier 1 canon over other visual representations in the films and play. The current suggested approaches:

  1. Use written details first, and if film and play details conflict then leave the field blank with a comment that the sources differ. All differences can be noted in the Behind the scenes section.
  2. Use written details first, and use details from the first portrayal of the character only. This means that all known characters will use images and details from the 8 HP films, but Cursed Child information would be added to the Behind the scenes section. Any newly portrayed characters from the play will use images and details from there.
  3. Use written details first, and then any additional information from the latest portrayal. This means that the play images and details take precendence over the films as the latest revision of the material.
  4. Use written details first, then hold a vote for each character to decide which image and related details are used. This allows for a case-by-case decision on how well an actor matches the written description, what may be implied by canon, or other considerations.

Ideas for other approaches are welcome as well. Thoughts & discussion? --Ironyak1 (talk) 16:21, June 2, 2016 (UTC)


I´d vote for the first option. --Rodolphus (talk) 15:06, June 2, 2016 (UTC)

My vote goes to option two. My earlier arguments:
  • I think changing the pictures of Ron, Harry & Hermione (and those to follow) to those of the play will bring way too much confusion, and simply will not work. The way the characters look in the film is the way the characters were presented to the world for the first time. The majority of the people who have seen the movies see Harry/Ron/Hermione as Daniel/Rupert/Emma, the same for every other character out of the movie. Also take the people who only watch the movies into consideration. Most of them probably have no clue that there is going to be a play in the first place. Replacing the images of Daniel, Rupert and Emma to those of the play will probably displease a lot of people.
  • Of course when new characters are introduced in the play a picture of the actor/actress playing that character should be used at the top. Because it how the character is introduced to us for the first time like with the movies. -- LilyOfTheMoon (talk) 16:13, June 2, 2016 (UTC)
I love the idea of both option 1 and 2. I think we should use pictures from their first portrayal but only use written information for the infoboxes, and if we don't have any put sources conflict instead and explain why in Behind the Scenes. This way we avoid the confusion of why some characters have their film picture and why others have had theirs changed to their Cursed Child picture. Voting on every character will be time consuming and people will still try to change the picture to the other one. At least if we use option 1 for the infoboxes and option 2 for the pictures we can explain it simply as "We use pictures from their first portrayal and we use information from the written source unless there is none in which case we put sources conflict and explain why in Behind the Scenes." --EmilyMills22 (talk) 15:26, June 2 2016 (UTC)
I agree with LilyOfTheMoon. Also, while we can keep the movie images as the 'upper' image, there's nothing stopping us from using images further down on the page from the play/play cast with something like 'Albus Potter, as seen in the 'play' (link to page), portrayed by' as we flesh out the pages with the new information introduced.  Ninclow (talk) 20:25, June 2, 2016 (UTC)
I would suggest a gallery. You can put the images of every actor of the character in it. When a picture for the infobox shall be used then 8 years are much longer than a few weeks or months. We have seen the film actors rise from child to adult. No one will ever forget this. Ask me for the name of the film actors and I can tell you. Ask me for the name of the play actors and sometimes I have already forgotten. And - the play will be performed in England. Most people of other countries will probably have no chance to see it and only know the pictures, but that are only pictures without life when you could not see them acting and could not hear them speaking.  Harry granger   Talk   contribs 21:21, June 2, 2016 (UTC)
Generally speaking, it is generally incorrect to describe characters based on what the actors that play them look like (unless we are talking about wigs, or prosthetics the actors wore, or things like that specifically designed to alter their appearance). First, because it's potentially canon-defying (e.g. "Aunt Petunia is totally a brunette and has regular front teeth"); second, and most obviously, because characters can be played by several different actors who will, invariably, have many, many physical dissimilarities (Lavender Brown is, perhaps, the greatest example of this out there -- Kathleen Cauley, Jennifer Smith, and Jessie Cave have nothing to do with each other). Hence why any references to skin colour, hair colour, how tall they are, should preferably come from the books/written material themselves -- because while the actor may change, the character is still the same, and our info on the character shouldn't change just because the actor did.
Any considerations of "newest source is most canon" (the same thing goes for its "oldest source" variation presented here) are restricted to Tier One canon when it comes to our canon policy, and simply for the purpose of allowing J.K. Rowling to make corrections or retcon things. Applying that rule to Tier 2 canon has no policy basis, and doesn't make much sense either -- for example, whoever designed the scenery in the play cannot possibly be retconning anything we have seen in the film; they're two different media.
That said, option 4 is particularly aberrant when it comes to voting on "what details" to describe them. Such votes would be meaningless, in the face of policy, since we cannot simply decide, as it were, what's the correct description. All we can vote on is what pictures to showcase on a given infobox -- it's completely irrelevant which, since they all come from legitimate canon sources.
Tl;dr: Option 1 is the only one that adheres to the canon policy (though no references should be made to "sources differing" on the article's main body, since that breaks the in-universe point-of-view); and all images from canonical sources are equally valid. --  Seth Cooper  owl post! 22:10, June 2, 2016 (UTC)
Seth - can you point us to where in the policies it says that infobox descriptions cannot / should not be based on images from the films or other visual media? Most of these options hinge on this policy or norm as without it voting on the image leads to voting on the descriptors when not provided in the texts. (Such as blue vs brown eyes for Rose Granger-Weasley depending on the actress). If the descriptors are only to come from Tier 1 canon then it's probably best that a ref with a quote is used to make clear interpretations (hair like her dad's, white face vs white as a ghost, etc) vs clearly stated (eg green eyes). If that is established (and stated as an exception to the general rule that all details are allowed except when they differ with a source from a higher level of canon) then it's just an image policy which likely comes down to voting on best images to resolve disputes? Thanks --Ironyak1 (talk) 22:37, June 2, 2016 (UTC)
There is no specific policy saying that, but it is obvious for the reasons I pointed out above (a character can't simultaneously be white and black, blonde and brunette, tall and short, but different actors playing the same character can). For that reason, the physical likeness of the actor cannot be used to describe the character (be it film depiction or play depiction).
Voting on the image does not in any way lead to voting on the description provided in the article. There are several instances of an article's image not corresponding exactly to the description of the article's subject (there's the case of Petunia Dursley actually being blonde; there's Harry Potter having green eyes despite images from the films depicting him with blue eyes; Albus Dumbledore doesn't have blue eyes, as he should, on his main picture; Neville Longbottom, who is also canonically blond, is depicted in the films as having dark hair; Voldemort is shown with blue eyes instead of the canonical red; Albert Runcorn is missing his full black beard; and I could just go on and on).
All in all, the only issue is that of the images, which comes down to voting, really. --  Seth Cooper  owl post! 00:42, June 3, 2016 (UTC)
But those examples you give are the simplest case where JKR provided details in her writings, which clearly have precedence over the how the actor or actress looked when playing that character. The problem at hand is when JKR has not provided a description so we are left with lower level of canon to draw from. Or not? If not, then why not? Why can lower levels of canon fill in many other details (patronus, boggart form, etc, etc, etc) but not physical description details? Please understand that I am not arguing against the approach (as it keeps the details near to JKR's word and easy to cite), but that this is a clear exception to the rules of canon hierarchy used here and should probably be clearly stated as such. To return to a more problematic example, JKR never specified Rose Granger-Weasley's eye color - so should it be listed as blue from the actress seen in DH - Epilogue (note that blue was recently used in the infobox), or should it be brown (recently listed as well from the play actress) or should it be nothing as there is no JKR writing to say so? Cheers --Ironyak1 (talk) 01:17, June 3, 2016 (UTC)
ETA: And what about characters that only appear in lower canon (eg Nigel Wolpert or Andrew_Cleveley) Can their description be based on their portrayal (as there is no other source?) --Ironyak1 (talk) 01:30, June 3, 2016 (UTC)
ETA2: In searching through the ebooks for all mentions of Lavender Brown, there was no mention of her eyes being blue, her hair being dirty-blond or her skin colour being light, all of which are listed in her infobox. If characters cannot have physical details from lower levels of canon, many of their infobox details will need to be removed it appears. This is why I was wondering about a policy as the general practice seems to differ completely from the stated expectation. Thanks --Ironyak1 (talk) 02:16, June 3, 2016 (UTC)
I think it's best and much simpler if we leave a picture up of the character from their first portryal and keep the infoboxes strictly with information from J K Rowling herself. Like how when you go onto Neville's page, his hair is described as blond even though he doesn't have blonde hair in his picture. If J K Rowling has not given a description, we leave a comment saying the sources we do have conflict and explain why in Behind the Scenes. The latest actor/actresses appearance shouldn't matter. There will be many of them for years to come and we cannot add another line to the infoboxes to point out what they look like this time and we cannot vote on every picture every time. It is time consuming, may get too confusing and the infoboxes will get crowded. This is the less complicated way. We can still put up their new pictures from a different media in Behind the Scenes. EmilyMills22 (talk) 10:35, June 3 2016 (UTC)
Just for clarity, Seth is saying that for infobox physical descriptors, we should already be using Tier 1 written descriptions ONLY. I think that approach is reasonable, but as it has not been commonly followed and goes against the governing principle that "everything is canon unless specifically contradicted by a "higher" source", I think it needs to be be a clearly stated policy. Perhaps this discussion can be used to help establish it as such?
As for infobox images, I believe curent practice is that they can be freely changed unless there was a previous vote to choose them, in which case a new vote is needed before making changes. A vote is also triggered if edit wars occur. As a pragmatic issue, getting a vote held and a clear consensus found has been difficult of late, so it may be challenging both to establish a preferred new image, or to change one that had been voted on. Whether there should be a "first portrayed as" policy (with or without a case-by-case ability to vote and override - Dumbledore seems a likely candidate for this) is worth continuing to discuss IMHO. --Ironyak1 (talk) 12:08, June 3, 2016 (UTC)
Perhaps it’s time for some new, more clear rules. The idea that "everything is canon unless specifically contradicted by a "higher" source” is confusing, because that means anything is possible. Until something is confirmed by Jo, it shouldn’t be put in the wikia infoboxes until it is. It gives people the false misconception that it is definitely true. Therefore, I vote that only Tier 1 “written descriptions” should be used in the infoboxes. If there is none, a simple “sources conflict” explanation should be put instead and the reason why explained in Behind the Scenes.
For the pictures, I think we should only use a picture from their first portrayal. It should be sort of a first come, first served basis. I say film pictures first, and if there is none, a picture from their first appearance can be used instead. If they haven’t be portrayed yet, then art can be used. I basically think the hierarchy should be this:
1. Film picture first
2. If they conflict then we discuss and vote (Dumbledore is an example of this)
3. If there is no pictures from the film, then we use one from their first portrayal such as the play and the Fantastic Beasts film
4. If they conflict then we discuss and vote
5. If the character has never been portrayed, art can be used
6.If they conflict then we discuss and vote
7. If there is no art either, we leave it blank. --EmilyMills22 (talk) 13:37, June 3 2016 (UTC)

It's a little bit late but to say that in the books is nothing to find about the skin colour of Lavender Brown is not correct. In the book Half-Blood Prince you can find this:

Harry looked into the corner she was indicating. There, in full view of the whole room, stood Ron wrapped so closely around Lavender Brown it was hard to tell whose hands were whose.

The Weasley family has red hair so they must have light skin. After this description Lavender can only have light skin, too, otherwise the description would not make sense. That was the reason they changed the actress. In the films before they did not know this because the book was not written already.  Harry granger   Talk   contribs 15:54, June 3, 2016 (UTC)

Good find! I had read that passage but not thought through the implications. That would make a good ref for an infobox! --Ironyak1 (talk) 15:58, June 3, 2016 (UTC)
I've always personally had an issue with basing textual descriptions of the physical appearance of a character on the physical appearance of the actor or actors who portrayed them. I know I've discussed the reasons I find this practice problematic before, but I can't remember where at the moment, unfortunately. I'm thus in favour of basing textual descriptions of characters' appearances strictly on Tier One written sources, but I also could support modified versions of Ironyak1's first two proposals. That is, basing textual descriptions of characters' appearances primarily on Tier One written sources, but filling in the blanks with information from film and stage portrayals.
I think the images of a character included in their article (excepting the one featured in the infobox) should be treated as distinct from the textual descriptions of their physical appearance. The precedent for this was set years back, when we elected to include images of both Jennifer Smith's and Jessie Brown's portrayals in the Lavender Brown article, despite the two actresses being of different races. What mattered is that both actresses had portrayed Lavender. Their portrayals both constituted depictions/representations of Lavender, and were thus suitable for inclusion in Lavender's article. Images primarily serve a decorative function within articles, anyway. They are there to enhance or supplement the text of an article, not to communicate information in their own right. Discrepancies with canon shouldn't preclude an image from being featured in an article unless they are extreme. For example, we can include film stills featuring canonical Ravenclaw Padma Patil wearing a Gryffindor tie, but we probably shouldn't include images of the Burning of the Burrow in the Second Wizarding War article, since the Burrow was never attacked in any manner in the books.
Infobox images should ideally be chosen on a case-by-case basis through votes and discussion. We could certainly benefit from establishing some general guidelines to aid the selection of infobox images, but I don't think it would be practical to try to create a one-size-fits-all policy. There are many factors that should ideally be taken into consideration when determining which image to feature in the infobox, including how recent the image is, whether it is of poor quality or unflattering, etc. Just look at the Remus Lupin article for evidence that defaulting to the most recent image doesn't always yield the best results. Starstuff (Owl me!) 01:57, June 4, 2016 (UTC)
In looking at many character infoboxes, current practice tends to follow option 2 with some physical descriptors taken from the books (often with a ref) and others filled in based on the film portrayal. This has largely worked because there has almost always been a single actor or actress for a role (Dumbledore and Lav-lav being key exceptions) However, with the play offering new portrayals (which it will continue to do so with the recasting of future productions) this mixed tier approach no longer seems workable as the potential for conflicting descriptors is too great.
I was ready to make a suggestion on voting about an infobox policy change, but I think we need to sort out how to handle characters that only appear in lower canon such as film, games, etc (see Nigel Wolpert) Should their descriptors be based on their appearance, or should they not be filled out at all and allow the portrayal image to speak for itself?
If we separate the infobox descriptors from the infobox image shown, then there is just the matter of how to choose an image. Under these circumstances, I agree that the infobox images should be freely changeable and when disagreements arise, a vote can be taken to determine a consensus based on adherence to canon, image quality, latest portrayal, or whatever factors editors find most important. However, as others have strongly advocated for a "first portrayed as - with a vote on alternate actors from the same medium" approach, I believe a vote should be held when our discussion is complete. Just my 2 pence, always --Ironyak1 (talk) 15:40, June 4, 2016 (UTC)

I vote for option 2, but adding mutliple sections to the description part of the info box wouldn't be a big deal. Also should we include the new books which are just modified screenplays as written material? Goofyd00d (talk) 17:16, June 5, 2016 (UTC)

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