During the most lucrative train commute ever, J.K. Rowling dreams up Harry’s character while traveling from Manchester to London.
SEPT. 1, 1998
Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone hits the U.S. — over a year after the book’s U.K. release. Scholastic tweaks the original title, Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone, for non-Anglophiles.
JUNE 2, 1999
Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets hits U.S. stores. The film version (2002) goes on to earn $876 million worldwide.
SEPT. 8, 1999
Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban lands, and Rowling owns the top three spots on the New York Times best-seller list. Other publishers grumble. The paper caves 10 months later, scooting Potter books to a new list just for children’s lit.
JAN. 18, 2000
The American Library Association reports the Potter novels top 1999’s list of the most challenged books, with 472 complaints about the series’ supposed occult themes.
MARCH 6, 2000
Nancy K. Stouffer sues Rowling for copyright and trademark infringement. Stouffer claims she authored a series of kids’ books in the 1980s, including The Legend of Rah and the Muggles. In 2002, a U.S. judge rules against Stouffer and fines her $50,000, citing fraud.
JULY 8, 2000
Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire debuts with a then-record-breaking 5 million copies.
FEB. 21, 2001
Broadway star Jim Dale takes home a Grammy for voicing 127 different characters in the audiobook version of Goblet of Fire.
MARCH 12, 2001
Two faux histories of the Potterverse appear: Newt Scamander’s Fantastic Beasts & Where to Find Them and Kennilworthy Whisp’s Quidditch Through the Ages — both actually penned by Rowling.
NOV. 16, 2001
The first Potter movie premieres. Under Chris Columbus’ direction, it conjures $976 million worldwide.
SEPT. 24, 2002
On Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Wiccan wunderkind Willow realizes that former Watcher Giles has gone ”all Dumbledore on me” when he teaches her to use responsible magic.
MARCH 7, 2003
Two years before becoming Pope Benedict XVI, Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger writes a letter suggesting that the Potter books are ”subtle seductions” that could ”deeply distort Christianity in the soul” of young people.
MAY 15, 2003
On Friends, Joey announces his plans to get frisky under a blanket during a flight to Barbados, until Ross notes: ”It’s a blanket, Joey, not a cloak of invisibility.”
JUNE 21, 2003
Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix sets a new record for a first printing with 8.5 million copies.
NOV. 23, 2003
The Simpsons clan visits London, where a huffy Rowling answers Lisa’s query about Harry’s fate: ”He grows up and marries you. Is that what you want to hear?”
MAY 1, 2004
Lindsay Lohan is more like Hormone-y Granger in a Saturday Night Live sketch that imagines Hogwarts’ best student has blossomed voluptuously over the summer to the delight of her randy schoolmates, including Rachel Dratch’s nerdy Harry Potter.
JULY 16, 2005
Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince breaks sales records.
APRIL 25, 2006
Luke, the gruff and hirsute diner owner in Gilmore Girls, earns the nickname Hagrid.
JUNE 30, 2006
And we thought Voldemort was a tough boss. In The Devil Wears Prada, Runway‘s demanding editor in chief, Miranda Priestly (Meryl Streep), tasks her harried assistant (Anne Hathaway) with the impossible job of finding a manuscript of the new, still-unpublished Harry Potter book.
MAY 31, 2007
Who says Disney has a monopoly on magic kingdoms? Universal Orlando Resort announces plans to open a Harry Potter theme park in 2009, complete with Hogwarts castle and Hogsmeade.
JULY 14, 2007
Kaza Kingsley’s Erec Rex: The Dragon’s Eye is the umpteenth post-Potter kids’ fantasy novel whose look is not remotely similar to the best-selling behemoth.
JULY 21, 2007
Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows wraps it all up.