Harry Potter was almost sued by Russia over Dobby

Lawyers from Russia were reportedly planning to the Harry Potter franchise over claims that Dobby looks like president Vladimir Putin

Dobby in Harry Potter

The eight mainline Harry Potter movies largely managed to go off without a hitch, but there was trouble brewing in their early days. Lawyers in Russia tried to sue the fantasy movies over the depiction of one Dobby the Elf.

The Guardian reported in 2003 that legal experts in Russia believed that Dobby bore some resemblance to president Vladimir Putin. We’ll leave you to draw your own conclusions on whether the Russian leader actually looks like the Harry Potter character, but alas, the case didn’t get very far. In fact, it’s unlikely it even got beyond just an idea some representatives had that got some publicity.

“Similar suits have taken place,” a statement from the Russian lawyers’ guild that circulated at the time read. “But it’s very difficult for courts to rule on them; lots of experts have to be called in. It’s doubtful if it has a chance.” As time would have it, the case didn’t, but still makes for a bizarre titbit to look back on.

The hit franchise has courted controversy of a different kind in recent years, with Johnny Depp leaving the Fantastic Beasts films due to his legal battle with ex-partner Amber Heard. Likewise, Ezra Miller’s been arrested twice now, raising questions over whether they’ll make it to Fantastic Beasts 4.

In brighter news, fans of Dobby have been rallying to preserve his real-life grave. In the story of Harry Potter, the elf is a heroic friend who winds up giving his life in helping the goodies fight the evil Lord Voldemort. As we say, draw your own conclusions, but we’re really not seeing the connection to Putin here.

Check out our guide to the best monster movies, if you’d like to do some research of your own into potential Putin-a-likes.