Fact Check

Alan Rickman Rocking Chair Meme

A quote falsely attributed to Alan Rickman about the Harry Potter series became popular on social media after his death.

Published Jan 14, 2016

Alan Rickman stated he envisioned sitting in a rocking chair at 80, reading 'Harry Potter' books to his grandchildren.

On 14 January 2016, the family of actor Alan Rickman confirmed he died of cancer in London. In the wake of the sad news, many fans of the actor and the Harry Potter series shared a meme on social media with a quote attributed to Rickman:

When I'm 80 years old and sitting in my rocking chair, I'll be reading Harry Potter. And my family will say to me "After all this time?"

And I will say, "Always."

The quote referenced one of the most famous moments in both the books and the films, during which Hogwarts' headmaster Albus Dumbledore confronts Professor Severus Snape (portrayed by Rickman) about his motives in protecting Harry Potter. In the film, Snape responded by conjuring his patronus (an animal that reflects the magician's personality, in his case a doe) and revealing that it mirrored the patronus of Potter's mother, Lily. In the books (and films), Snape's patronus was dramatically revealed as proof of his enduring love for Harry's mother:

The above-reproduced meme didn't originate upon Rickman's death in 2016. The earliest iteration we located appeared on Twitter in October 2011, though the meme likely antedated the tweet:

The meme proved especially moving to fans as it seemingly quoted Rickman speaking about an age he would never reach.  Rickman died at 69, eleven years younger than the age referenced in the post. However, a search of existing interviews and other material revealed no instance in which Rickman made any such statement, and the comments did not sound like anything Alan Rickman would have said. As it turns out, he didn't. A 3 July 2010 Tumblr post was the first iteration of the (then unattributed to Rickman) quote:    


On 14 January 2016, the same user published a post in which she indicated she, not Rickman, was the source of the quote:


The meme was so widely shared on 14 January 2016 that it inspired counter-memes:

While the meme and the quote appeared to provide comfort to many fans of Alan Rickman in the immediate aftermath of his death, a 15-year-old girl on Tumblr was the actual author of the quote.

Kim LaCapria is a former writer for Snopes.

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