I am planning to watch Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them and asking this question in place of a friend who might give me company. But he has not seen any HP film before.

Can we understand Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them without watching any other Harry Potter film? Or do I need to watch any other Harry potter film for better understanding?

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    I found the plot refreshing.. but its not Harry Potter. You would know the spells, the way things work in Magical ministries, apparition - in simple words, you would know minor things from HP. But it would not be too much for a person who is watching anything related to HP for the first time.
    – Anu7
    Nov 21, 2016 at 7:22
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    Understandable? Yes. As enjoyable? Nah. Like a lot of prequels/sequels (Jurassic World, Star Wars) there is quite some time spent paying homage and tipping the hat to its preceding work. Nov 21, 2016 at 9:17
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    @GhotiandChips That might very well be worth its own answer.
    – Napoleon Wilson
    Nov 21, 2016 at 15:52
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    I guess its like You can watch hobbit without watching Lord of the Rings(Just relating). Dec 28, 2016 at 9:21

5 Answers 5


I think you can watch this as a stand alone movie. Apart from a few references to the Harry Potter world in the movie (name drops of Albus, Hogwarts - total of around 10 small references through out the entire movie) etc., rest of it is completely new. Its set in the 1920's era. Before Harry Potter started.

So no, you don't have to watch the Harry Potter movies to understand this one. It's a new experience even for HP fans (you would know the beasts they show in the movie if you read Fantastic Beasts library book before)

Spoilers below as requested.

Hogwarts keeps coming up - also a my-school-is-obviously-the-greater chat comes up with the main protagonists --- Gellert Grindelwald comes up. You can even see the back of his head right in the start --- Dumbledore's name comes up. One character asks Newt why Dumbledore favors Newt.--- Nifflers, Bowtruckles, Occamys, Diricrawls, Demiguise etc., beasts from 'fantastic beasts and where to find them' book from Hogwarts Library appear in the movie --- Seeker, Chaser reference comes up..

and few more references which I can't exactly recollect.

  • Yes.. that would be quite a spoiler.. do you still want me to tell you ? I would suggest you to enjoy these references as they come :)
    – Anu7
    Nov 21, 2016 at 7:28
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    @Anu7 Maybe it would be better to have the references in a new question? "What are the references to the Harry Potter series in Fantastic Beats and Where to Find Them?" And then add spoiler tags in the answer. You can also self-answer questions. Nov 21, 2016 at 7:32
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    @Anu7: "Fantastic Beats and Where to Find Them"? Sounds like a hipster's guide to the capital city's discotheque scene ;)
    – flith
    Nov 21, 2016 at 11:35
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    @flith.. I cannot unread your comment now :D but yes .. it does !
    – Anu7
    Nov 21, 2016 at 12:14
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    Story relation or not, the question is though, if the whole universe with those secret wizard society and stuff is actually introduced to a reasonable degree sufficient for grasping the movie's environment.
    – Napoleon Wilson
    Nov 21, 2016 at 15:51

There is no need to watch any Harry Potter movie to understand Fantastic Beasts.

Here is why:

Fantastic Beasts And Where To Find Them is not a prequel to all eight Harry Potter movies. The Harry Potter franchise is set in the '90s while Fantastic Beasts is set in 1920's.

No one from Harry Potter exists in this era, except Albus Dumbledore. And there are some references about magical creatures that can be found in Harry Potter books/movies but you don't have to worry about it because you won't miss anything here nor you will feel lost during the movie. But you will be entering a new established universe.

A Bustle article goes into greater detail as to why it's fine for newbies.

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    The "I'd say no" sentence it's a bit confusing as it's hard to tell whether you are addressing the question title or the last sentence from it (which are opposite). I know it's a small detail, but you may think about editing it. Nov 21, 2016 at 7:52
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    Yeah. That is a bit confusing. Anyway I removed it and kept only that sentence.
    – A J
    Nov 21, 2016 at 7:54
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    Story relation or not, the question is though, if the whole universe with those secret wizard society and stuff is actually introduced to a reasonable degree sufficient for grasping the movie's environment.
    – Napoleon Wilson
    Nov 21, 2016 at 15:51
  • This is so not true. Albus Dumbledore is certainly not only important person who is alive and relevant. Basically the whole main plot makes only half a sense if they don't know about the Deathly Hallows. Nov 21, 2016 at 18:29

Yes, it is understandable without having watched the other HP films, but you might want to pre-explain certain aspects of JKR's wizarding world - about the separation of the magical & non-magical worlds, how the magical world has it's own government (specifically the Ministry of Magic), Aurors, Muggles, magical schools, the wizards' newspapers with their moving images and the dark/light wizards - you could use a Star Wars analogy here :-).

  • +1. Maybe instead of pre-explaining, you can post-explain. Mygirlfriend never watched or read Harry and had a great time seeing the movie. I had only to explain a few elements (she didn't get that there was a complete Wizarding government, so why the wizards where calling one of them President, but it was enough for her to understand she is the leader of the secret wizarding community).
    – Taladris
    Nov 23, 2016 at 0:07


The movie does not explain the Deathly Hollows symbol, or that Grindelwald used it as his own symbol. So anyone not familiar with the storyline from the HP books/movies will completely miss the significance. Other than the opening credits and one brief mention, Grindelwald doesn't come much. So Graves being Grindelwald is a bit out of left field.

Other than that, everything is pretty well contained and explained. The rest of the HP universe references do not hinder the plot.


Yes, I'd say so. I've watched the movie. The difference is Harry Potter is in Britain, and Fantastic Beasts and Where To Find Them is in America. Besides the no-maj and muggle thing, I guess you're OK. Also, no-maj and muggle mean no magic.

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