Book Ron vs. Movie Ron
In the books, the trio fits together and each of them fills a distinct role.
The movies basically ended up taking all of the good parts of Ron’s character and applying them to Hermione. So Hermione becomes perfect and all that Harry really needs, and Ron is just extraneous.
I could write a whole post about why airbrushing Hermione’s flaws is a problem, but I’ll try to keep this about Ron since I think he suffers the most.
Book Ron is a valuable member of the team. Movie Ron is comic relief and dead weight.
Here are some examples of what I mean:
“Stop moving!” Hermione ordered them. “I know what this is — it’s Devil’s Snare!”
“Oh, I’m so glad we know what it’s called, that’s a great help,” snarled Ron, leaning back, trying to stop the plant from curling around his neck.
“Shut up, I’m trying to remember how to kill it!” said Hermione.
“Well, hurry up, I can’t breathe!” Harry gasped, wrestling with it as it curled around his chest.
“Devil’s Snare, Devil’s Snare… what did Professor Sprout say? — it likes the dark and the damp.”
“So light a fire!” Harry choked.
“Yes — of course — but there’s no wood!” Hermione cried, wringing her hands.
“HAVE YOU GONE MAD?” Ron bellowed. “ARE YOU A WITCH OR NOT?”*
“Oh, right!” said Hermione, and she whipped out her wand, waved it, muttered something, and sent a jet of the same bluebell flames she had used on Snape at the plant. In a matter of seconds, the two boys felt it loosening its grip as it cringed away from the light and warmth. Wriggling and flailing, it unraveled itself from their bodies, and they were able to pull free.
“Lucky you pay attention in Herbology, Hermione,” said Harry as he joined her by the wall, wiping sweat off his face.
“Yeah,” said Ron, “and lucky Harry doesn’t lose his head in a crisis — ‘there’s no wood,’ honestly.”
[Hermione tells them to relax, Harry does. He and Hermione fall through. Ron continues to panic and shout for help from above]
HERMIONE: [to Harry] I remember reading something in Herbology.
RON: [still trapped] Help!
HERMIONE: ‘Devil’s Snare, Devil’s Snare, it’s deadly fun; but will sulk in the sun.’ That’s it! Devil’s Snare hates sunlight! Lumus solem!
RON: Aaahh! [Ron falls through]
HARRY: Ron, are you okay?
RON: Whew! Lucky we didn’t panic!
HARRY: [sternly] Lucky Hermione pays attention in Herbology.
So in the book, Hermione wrings her hands in a sudden panic and Ron reminds her to light one of her bluebell flames. Both Harry and Ron fall through at the same time. In the movie, Ron panics and is essentially deadweight while a calm Hermione solves the problem. And then Ron pats himself on the back for not panicking (comic relief for the viewers), and Harry coolly defends Hermione.
Snape calls Hermione a know-it-all
“That is the second time you have spoken out of turn, Miss Granger,” said Snape coolly. “Five more points from Gryffindor for being an insufferable know-it-all.”
Hermione went very red, put down her hand, and stared at the floor with her eyes full of tears. It was a mark of how much the class loathed Snape that they were all glaring at him, because every one of them had called Hermione a know-it-all at least once, and Ron, who told Hermione she was a know-it-all at least twice a week, said loudly, “You asked us a question and she knows the answer! Why ask if you don’t want to be told?”
The class knew instantly he’d gone too far. Snape advanced on Ron slowly, and the room held its breath.
“Detention, Weasley,” Snape said silkily, his face very close to Ron’s. “And if I ever hear you criticize the way I teach a class again, you will be very sorry indeed.
SNAPE: Thank you, Mr. Malfoy. That is the second time you have spoken out of turn, Miss Granger. Are you incapable of restraining yourself, or do you take pride in being an insufferable know-it-all? [Hermione looks hurt]
RON: He’s got a point, you know.
SNAPE: Five points from Gryffindor! As an antidote to your ignorance, and on my desk by Monday morning, two rolls of parchment on the werewolf, with particular emphasis on recognizing it.
Ron shouts at Snape and gets himself landed in detention on Hermione’s behalf, whereas in the books he just twists the knife.
The trio meet Sirius Black in the Shrieking Shack
Without knowing what he was doing, [Harry] started forward, but there was a sudden movement on either side of him and two pairs of hands grabbed him and held him back…"No, Harry!” Hermione gasped in a petrified whisper; Ron, however, spoke to Black.
“If you want to kill Harry, you’ll have to kill us too!” he said fiercely, though the effort of standing upright was draining him of still more color, and he swayed slightly as he spoke.
“Lie down,” [Sirius] said quietly to Ron. “You will damage that leg even more.”
“Did you hear me?” Ron said weakly, though he was clinging painfully to Harry to stay upright. “You’ll have to kill all three of us!”
[Sirius says there will be only one murder, Harry asks Sirius if he’s gone soft]
“Harry!” Hermione whimpered. “Be quiet!”
[Ron snivels incoherently on the bed, nursing his leg]
HERMIONE: Ron! You okay?
HARRY: The dog- where’s is it?
RON: Harry! It’s a trap! He’s the dog. He’s an Animagus…
HERMIONE: If you want to kill Harry, you’ll have to kill us, too!
In the books, Ron is right by Hermione holding Harry back, and while Hermione addresses Harry in a “petrified whisper” and tells him to be quiet, while Ron is the one to address Black directly and say that Black will have to kill them to get to Harry. Despite the fact that he’s barely upright. In the movie, Hermione looks like the brave heroine, sacrificing herself for her friend while Ron moans about his broken leg.
The movies omitted the part where Harry physically attacked Sirius and Sirius defended himself by grabbing Harry by the throat, but in that scene Hermione reacts by kicking Sirius hard enough to loosen his grip on Harry and Ron literally “throws himself on Sirius’s wand hand” in order to knock it out of Sirius’s hand. That’s a far cry from whimpering in the background while Hermione and Harry confront Sirius.
- In CoS, when they “follow the spiders,” Ron resigns himself to following them. When they get deep into the forest and Harry asks if Ron thinks they should keep going, Ron says “we’ve come this far.” When they do encounter the spiders, Ron holds his own despite being terrified. He literally picks up a full-size boarhound and throws him in the backseat before throwing himself in the drivers’ seat. When they reach Hagrid’s, Ron sits in the car for a full minute and then vomits in Hagrid’s garden. It’s not that Book Ron wasn’t terrified out of his mind, it’s just that he was keeping his fear at bay in order to help Harry (and Hermione). Whereas Movie Ron just whines, cries, begs Harry to go back, and is completely useless in that entire scene.
- In GoF, when Book Hermione reads Rita’s article about her and Krum. Book Ron is actively concerned for Hermione, saying that Rita is making her out to look like a “scarlet woman.” Movie Ron is barely paying attention as Hermione reads the article aloud.
- In CoS, when Draco calls Hermione a mudblood. In the books, Ron Both jumps to her defense, but Book Hermione doesn’t even know what the word even means. Ron is the one to explain it to her. Movie Ron jumps to her defense, but in this case, Hermione already knows and explains it to Harry while Ron vomits in the background. Lots of other wizarding world exposition goes to Ron in the books and Hermione in the movies, for example, the discussion of Harry being a Parselmouth later in that same book.
- In GoF, Ron acts like a spoiled brat to Harry and it’s never explained why. Whereas in the books, he acts like a sulky brat and Hermione explains why.
- In OotP, Movie Ron makes a comment about going easy on Hermione during a DA practice. and then when she stuns him first, he tries to play it off like he was just going easy on her. Book Ron repeatedly praises Hermione and makes it clear that he thinks she’s better at magic. It’s easy to imagine Book Ron joking about something like that or teasing Hermione, but Movie Ron is completely serious and viewers get to laugh at his conceit.
- In DH, Ron is freaking the hell out when Hermione’s being tortured, he’s shouting her name and banging on the walls. Movie Ron is much less concerned and emotional.
- Important conversations that take place with only Hermione and Harry rather than Hermione, Harry, and Ron. the biggest example of this is the scene at the end of HBP where Hermione and Harry are talking about the future while Ron sits on the steps behind them.
- Ron’s decisions/ideas or decisions that were made as a group turn into Harry (or Hermione)’s decision/idea. Individually they’re just tweaks to the dialogue and seem unimportant, but they kind of add up. Movie Harry will tell Movie Ron to do something that Ron volunteered to do in the books.
- A lot of little moments where Ron defends Harry or helps him are omitted. It’s not that I expect every book moment to be there, but there are so many smaller moments where Ron tells Malfoy to shove off, defending him from Snape, or even telling Hermione to lay off Harry.
Ron is still comic relief, but he’s the butt of the joke rather than the source. The movies omit a lot of humor, probably because it kind of screws up the tone, but the filmmakers tend to either use Ron as the butt of a joke or have another character (like Hermione) to say/do something that will lighten the moment.
Seriously? WTF, filmmakers.