Remember Gary Thomas, that lovable Muggleborn Gryffindor of The Original Forty in Harry Potter? You know, Gary — who took lessons with the Golden Trio, who loved Muggle football, who fought in Dumbledore's Army and spent all of seventh year on the run from Death Eaters? You know, GARY!! Oh, no, wait — you don't remember. Because Gary Thomas is dead. Or, more accurately, J.K. Rowling originally named Dean Thomas "Gary" in Harry Potter, before ultimately deciding that "Gary" was not a fitting name for him after all.
Dean's original name only just came to light, for an unexpected reason — as it turns out, J.K. Rowling did some astounding sketches of Harry Potter in the '90s, before any of the movies came out. They were recently unearthed after being hidden in various Pottermore articles, and one of them is clearly captioned with a character called "Gary". This, of course, prompted a whole wide interweb of fans asking: What the heck is a Gary?!
Rowling took to Twitter this morning to explain the switcheroo, saying that ultimately, she decided to name him Dean instead after a boy she knew. In other words, we're all kicking ourselves for not being in J.K. Rowling's inner squad in the early '90s so the same might have happened for us.
The image also seems to indicate that Dean played a larger role in the original drafts of the books than he ultimately did, and while I have a lot of questions about that, I can't seem to un-stick myself from the very pressing question of Why "Gary" in the first place? Never mind that Dean Thomas is just such a Dean Thomas in my head forever and always; Gary just seems so ... ordinary. And as we all know, Rowling took extreme care into picking the names for her characters based on their personality traits and origin stories.
So what does Gary mean, exactly? In most languages, it means "spear," although in some it means "gentle" — neither of which applied ultimately to character. Dean, on the other hand, in some languages seems to allude to some kind of leader, or the word "valley". And as a valued Gryffindor Chaser who did, unfortunately, have to chill out in the wilderness for the better part of a year to survive, this does seem more appropriate for his character.
Of course, this is far from the only drastic change Rowling has revealed in the books — in fact, at one point Hermione even had a little sister, and both of their last names were almost "Puckle" instead of "Granger". Let this be a lesson in two things — one being that names decidedly have power. And the second being that your final draft will almost always look nothing like your first!
Images: Warner Bros; Giphy