- —The Fat Lady guarding Gryffindor Tower[src]
The Fat Lady is a portrait, who guards the entrance to Gryffindor Tower at Hogwarts Castle. She asks for passwords before she lets anyone in, then swings her picture backward so that students could enter through a portrait hole.
Little is known about her 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. She was well known for her indulgence in good food and drink, as well as a passion for "tip-top security", traits that her portrait would later possess.
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 is 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.
In 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 after he was removed she returned to her original location, with security trolls stationed in the hallway to prevent further vandalism.
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.
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 (1994–95)
- Caput Draconis (Latin for "dragon's head") (1991–92)
- Dilligrout (1992–93)
- Fairy Lights (1994-1995)
- Flibbertigibbet (1992–93)
- Fortuna Major (Latin for "greater fortune") (1993–94)
- Mimbulus Mimbletonia (The only one that Neville Longbottom was able to remember) (1995–96)
- Pig Snout (1991–92)
- Quid Agis? (Latin for "How are you?")
- Scurvy Cur (1993–94)
- Tapeworm (1996–97)
- Wattlebird (1992–93)
Behind the scenes
- In the film adaptation, of Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone, the Fat Lady is played by 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.
- 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 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).
- 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.
- Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone
- 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 (First appearance)
- LEGO Harry Potter (Appears in portrait(s))
- Harry Potter Trading Card Game
- Pottermore (Empty frame only)