The breakout star of Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them was not Dan Fogler as the No-Maj wannabe baker Jacob Kowalski, or even the terrific Katherine Waterston as Tina Goldstein. The true star was the Niffler. Like a kleptomaniac platypus crossed with Bart Simpson, it’s a creature that’s constantly in search of mischief, aiming to bolster its own coffers of shiny stuff in the process. The adorable ball of fur is the first beast to escape from Newt’s case in the film and continues to cause chaos throughout.
When Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them isn’t focused on Obscurials and Grindelwald, it’s given the charm of a silent comedy by the antics of Newt’s Niffler. Whether it’s sliding happily around the polished floor of a bank or trying to evade capture by standing completely still in a jewellery shop window, it’s a constant source of enjoyable slapstick silliness.
Let’s take it right back to the start. In 2001, Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone introduced cinema audiences to one of the Wizarding World’s rarest creatures – a three-headed dog. Fluffy, as Hagrid calls her, is the only instance of such a creature in the Harry Potter universe of either the movies or the books, which makes sense given her unique and important purpose as the initial protector of the titular magical artefact. She’s such a formidable foe that no one dares try to fight her, with only music-induced sleep making it possible to get past her.
Fluffy is the most immediately visually memorable critter in the Potter world and, with her deafening barks and habit of drooling on people’s heads, she knows exactly how to intimidate anyone who comes near. It feels like a near certainty that the Fantastic Beasts universe will eventually feature another three-headed dog but, for now, Fluffy is one of a kind and all the more special for it.
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