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Wizarding Darwin Awards (PG)

Title: The Wizarding Darwin Awards
Author: _grainne_
Length: Approx. 2300 words
Summary: Despite what some say, Muggles are not the only ones who fall prey to extreme incidences of natural selection. Pure-blood, Half-blood, Muggle-born or Squib, find out who has removed themselves from the Wizarding gene pool by dint of sheer stupidity. Prompt # 142 for Omniocular’s April Non-Fiction Fest.
Warnings: Acute idiocy, Character deaths (naturally!)
Disclaimer: This is offered as parody. I am not claiming to be Wendy Northcutt or JKR, nor am I associated with The Darwin Awards or the Potterverse in any official manner. The Harry Potter Lexicon’s “Who’s Who in the Wizarding World” section was an invaluable tool in compiling these awards, as was Fleagle, the research elf.

Welcome to the Wizarding Darwin Awards!

For those of you who are not familiar with Charles Darwin or the awards named in his honor, we offer a brief introduction below. If, however, you are familiar with this particular fanfare to folly (or just impatient), please feel free to scroll on down.


Charles Darwin (1809-1882) was a British Muggle (allegations of his having been a Squib were later proved false; it turns out that some followers of Georges Cuvier mistook the word “Squib” to mean “steenking blasphemous Eenglishman”) who became well-know for his theory of evolution and the means by which it occurs, which he termed Natural Selection.

If you want to study the subject in all of its verbose glory, you’ll have to enroll in Muggle Science Studies, but the basic elements of Natural Selection are as follows:

Selective retention of favorable traits

So, to use the terms in a sentence: There are differences in our genetic material (variation) which can be passed on to our offspring (heritability), and those offspring who possess traits which enhance their ability to reproduce in their particular environments will have an advantage—that is to say, they will leave more surviving offspring than their ill-adapted counterparts (selective retention of favorable traits).

The Wizarding Darwin Awards celebrate those of us who have contributed to the overall fitness of the wizarding gene pool, not by passing on favorable traits, but by being too stupid to live…and acting accordingly.

There are also a few Honorable Mentions for those who have had near misses or assured their non-reproductive status via non-lethal means. Last but not least, the Watch It! List offers warnings to those who we, even without the aid of the Inner Eye, deem likely to wind up immortalized on these pages before long.

It should be noted that those who were dangerously insane at the time of their demise are not eligible; ditto those not of sound mind due to curses, poisons, bewitchments, and the like (unless, of course, said spells or potions were willingly self-administered). Nor is the accidental magic often caused by young children here considered, as the whole point of these awards is to recognize those who should have known better, but, well….

The Awards

Full Awards: To Err Is Human, To Ape, a Crime

“Imitation is suicide,” wrote the Muggle poet and essayist Ralph Waldo Emerson. Well said, Ralph! The pioneering among us lead risky lives, certainly, but it can be argued that, when the exact risks are unknown to begin with, those who meet with discomfort and death in the course of novel pursuits are not guilty of fatal stupidity. Those who witness these incidents and repeat them, however, are another story.

Not long after her sister Elladora nearly suffocated while “discovering” Gillyweed (she saved herself by sticking her head in a bucket of water), Issimora Ketteridge—jealous of all the attention her sister was getting from the handsome local Herbology buff—thought she’d try the same trick. She walked out one morning and stationed herself near a path she knew the young man trod on a daily basis. Unfortunately, she neglected to bring a bucket of water. When she saw the object of her affection in the distance, she swallowed the Gillyweed; by the time he came upon her, she was flopping about in her death throes like…well, a fish out of water. Needless to say (we hope), the budding Herbologist chose the live Elladora over the dead Issimora.

Nineteen-year-old Wilfie Omicron was fascinated by a biography of the twelfth century wizard Wilfred Elphick, who was the first person to be gored by an Erumpent. Young Wilfie scrimped and saved in order to afford a safari trip to Africa, where he hoped to follow in his hero’s footsteps and gambol with wild game. We at the Wizarding Darwin Awards are saddened, but none too surprised, to report that Wilfie now shares a fate, as well as a first name, with his idol. Despite having read Elphick’s biography numerous times (in which the authors recount Elphick’s death and the events leading up to it in gruesome detail), Wilfie decided he just had to have an up-close look at the mating practices of Erumpents. His last words, according to a traveling companion, were, “O’er ‘ere, big fella!”

Full Awards: Trouble with Trolls

Is there anyone here who wasn’t, as a child, threatened with abandonment amongst trolls when he or she was being naughty? Yes? *coughs* Er…well…at any rate, by the time they’ve come of age, all wizarding children should have been told how dangerous these creatures are. As Newt Scamander puts it in his most excellent volume Fantastic Beasts and Where To Find Them:

The troll is a fearsome creature up to twelve feet tall and weighing over a tonne. Notable for its prodigious strength and stupidity, the troll is often violent and unpredictable…Trolls eat raw flesh and are not fussy in their prey, which ranges from wild animals to humans.

This seems like a pretty obvious warning to steer clear of the beasts, one which Barnabas de Buffle, otherwise known as “Barnabas the Barmy,” did not heed. His attempt to train trolls for the ballet—immortalized in a tapestry with which any Hogwarts student who has engaged in, shall we say, “extracurricular” activities is familiar—ended, predictably, with his being clubbed to death.

EDITOR'S NOTE: Many of you wrote in to say that you did not think Barnabas should be considered for a full award, given his sobriquet. However, as historical documents indicate that the nickname was given because of (rather than prior to) the troll ballet incident, we at the Wizarding Darwin Awards feel we are justified. Moreover, the late great Albus Dumbledore was often called “barmy,” and while he may have been silly at times, he was most certainly not dangerously insane. (Ahem. Anyone who says different is free to meet us behind the Leaky Cauldron Tuesday next at high noon. Bring your wand—and a friend with a large bag, as you’ll be going home in bits.)

Gondoline Oliphant is also a recipient in this category. She decided, of her own free will, to make studying the habits of trolls her life’s work. Her life’s work came to an end quite suddenly in 1799; while out sketching her chosen subject in the Cotswolds she was—you guessed it—clubbed to death. Unpredictable as they are, trolls do seem to be predictable in one thing, don’t they?

We certainly hope these stories will serve as a warning to any others foolish enough to consider spending significant amounts of time with trolls, whether it is for recreational, artistic, or evil megalomaniacal purposes. Sooner or later, it seems, trolls will club you to death.

Full Award: Magic Most Moronic

While many a witch and wizard with Squib tendencies have benefited from Kwikspell courses, Mr. Gossel of Buckinghamshire probably should have stuck to farming the Muggle way. Eager to try out the tips he’d learned from Kwikspell regarding Shrinking and Engorgement Charms, Mr. Gossel shrunk several glacial boulders that had long plagued him by being situated in the middle of his barley field. Feeling deeply pleased with himself (Begoy!), he then placed them in his pocket and went home to show his wife. An argument ensued, in which Mrs. Gossel expressed disbelief that the pebbles her husband held in his hand had ever been anything but. Mr. Gossel promptly re-enlarged the boulders, and we only hope he had a split second’s satisfaction before plunging two floors down into the root cellar and being crushed to death by the massive stones.

An Honorable Mention in this category goes to Maude Emberdud, an avid dragon watcher. While visiting the remote St. Kilda as a guest of the MacFusty clan, Maude decided that she would be able to approach a nesting female Hebridean Black more easily in her Animagus form. This she accomplished without difficulty (she had always been a whiz at Transfiguration), and it might have worked out very well indeed had her animal form not been that of a plump doe deer—one of the Hebridean Black’s traditional foodstuffs (and one not easily had on windswept St. Kilda). Luckily, old Beathan MacFusty was on hand to distract the dragon from this apparent faunal treat from heaven, and he sent the terrified Maude home one Wizarding Darwin Award shy, but hopefully wiser. Let this be a reminder to all that being capable of very complex magic does not do one any good if one does not also possess common sense.

Another Honorable Mention goes to Thaddeus Thurkell, the seventeenth century wizard famous for siring seven Squib sons and turning them all into hedgehogs in disgust. While Thaddeus himself remained unharmed, his actions did ensure that his genes would never pass into the Wizarding population at large (at least, we certainly hope they didn’t, but we do acknowledge that there are wizards and witches out there with some unusual proclivities *coughs* Aberforth *coughs*).

The Watch It! List

As you are perhaps aware, the Wizarding Darwin Awards rely on you, good readers, to be our eyes and ears regarding the folly of our fellow witches and wizards. Over the last decade, we have received many owls regarding various individuals’ behavior that, while not award-worthy yet, is nonetheless of concern. So, as a public service, we have decided to create a list of those who we (and you) feel are currently in danger of winning a full award before long. If you see your name here, kindly do not send curses, hexes, or jinxes, but reflect on your idiotic behavior, knowing that someone cares enough about you to want you to live long enough to change that behavior and (Merlin forbid) breed.

Belinda Belimont, who do you think you are, Davy Gudgeon? He nearly lost an eye, but we fear you’ll lose more than that if you keep insisting that the Whomping Willow likes being tickled and that, if you sit perfectly still on your broom, the Bludgers can’t “see” you. Your friends also suggest you cancel your subscription to The Quibbler, as they fear it is a bad influence.

Harold Bonnieloy, if you do not stop storing your Wizard’s Anti-Itch Powder alongside your Floo Powder, your flatmate fears that something far worse than being late to work will soon occur…in your trousers.

Mundungus Fletcher, all we’ll say is that you’d better change your ways if you know what’s good for you. Really. The correspondence regarding you takes up an entire filing cabinet in our office, and we are now convinced that, even if none of your dodgy schemes backfire, the sheer amount of ill will you’ve managed to generate toward your person is downright unhealthy, savvy?

Neville Longbottom, your gran…er…someone is worried about you, dear. Do be careful with those potions and watch where you’re going, won’t you?

Alice Parsley, we hope you paid special attention to Wilfie Omicron’s award above. Please believe us when we say that Erumpents are best observed from a distance. A very distant distance—like, say, you sitting in your local perusing the pretty pictures in Wandering Wizards’ African safari brochures. First round is on us.

Severus Snape, your students have been owling us for years. For the most part, we took these missives as the pranks they were no doubt meant to be, and we refrained from mentioning them out of respect for your position. However, given your present status, we are feeling less charitable. In short, your students suggest that your personal hygiene and foul temperament are enough to ensure your perpetual bachelorhood, which makes you eligible for an Honorable Mention. But before long we may be able to offer you and many other Death Eaters additional honors, as those who willingly join forces with He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named, in our humble opinion, are Wizarding Darwins waiting to happen. At the very least, history shows that your chances of peacefully procreating and/or living to a ripe old age are very slim.

Branson Tetch, there is a very good reason Musidora Barkwith’s Wizarding Suite was banned—namely the exploding tuba—and you would do well to cease and desist with all attempts at a revival of the work in honor of your mum’s 80th birthday (she’d rather have a new wireless or a trip to Ibiza…either one, really, she’s not fussed).

Willy Widdershins, wherever you are, we hope your mishap with the regurgitating toilets taught you a lesson. All moral niceties involving Muggles aside, it would be undignified to die as a result of one of your own stupid pranks, not to mention Wizarding-Darwin-worthy.

This Concludes the Wizarding Darwin Awards

As always, the editors welcome your suggestions for future award recipients. Please note, however, that regardless of how many erroneous conclusions he leaps to or extremely dangerous situations he rushes into without thinking things through, Harry Potter is not eligible for an Honorable Mention or inclusion on our Watch It! List until rumors regarding his status as “Chosen One” are cleared up. We feel, and we’re sure you’ll agree, than any teenage boy who is fated to battle to the death with He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named has been dealt a rather bad hand through no fault of his own. So, you with the cramped (and rather girly) handwriting who keeps sending us the anonymous owls nominating Potter, you’re wasting your parchment!

Farewell till next time, and remember, as the Wizarding geneticist Dr. Cytosina G. T. Adenine says, “Wizards are grand, and magic is cool, but if you’re moronic, you’ll be leaving our pool!” We also hope that these awards have opened the eyes of those of you who believe in so-called “Forced Marriage Laws.” Pure-blood or no, there are very good reasons why some witches and wizards just shouldn’t procreate.



( 31 comments — Leave a comment )
Apr. 19th, 2006 08:29 pm (UTC)
Blessings to dear Fleagle for assisting you in this most worthy endeavor.

Begoy! The tales of Mr. Gossel and Harold Bonnieloy are my particular favorites. :-D
Apr. 22nd, 2006 01:25 pm (UTC)
I am scared... do i want to know why Snape is wearing a pineapple on his head?
(no subject) - _vocalion_ - Apr. 22nd, 2006 02:15 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - the_reda - Apr. 22nd, 2006 02:17 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - _grainne_ - Apr. 22nd, 2006 02:46 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - _grainne_ - Apr. 22nd, 2006 02:40 pm (UTC) - Expand
Apr. 19th, 2006 10:48 pm (UTC)
So, you with the cramped (and rather girly) handwriting who keeps sending us the anonymous owls nominating Potter...

Gee, I wonder who that could be? *smirks*

I love how you've taken the Muggle idea and applied it to the wizarding world! Too bad people are stupid enough to do stuff like that in real life, but it sure is funny when we see it happen in fiction. Anyway, very creative!
Apr. 22nd, 2006 02:48 pm (UTC)
*shrugs* No idea. Whoever it is has some serious issues though. ;-)

Apr. 20th, 2006 01:40 am (UTC)
So, you with the cramped (and rather girly) handwriting who keeps sending us the anonymous owls nominating Potter, you’re wasting your parchment!


Apr. 22nd, 2006 02:48 pm (UTC)
Apr. 20th, 2006 07:21 am (UTC)
Giggle to all of it, but I especially loved: Dr. Cytosina G. T. Adenine says, “Wizards are grand, and magic is cool, but if you’re moronic, you’ll be leaving our pool!”. This is icon-worthy! Those names!
Mr. Gossel is my fav, too. :-)
Apr. 22nd, 2006 02:51 pm (UTC)
Thanks Sylvana--'twas fun to write. Thanks to Karina, when stuck for a name, I now turn to trusty anagrams ;-)
Apr. 22nd, 2006 01:30 pm (UTC)
//So, you with the cramped (and rather girly) handwriting who keeps sending us the anonymous owls nominating Potter, you’re wasting your parchment!//

That made my day!

Snape has a point, though. He does, he does.
Apr. 22nd, 2006 02:55 pm (UTC)
*icon love*

Thanks! Yes, some days I am amazed Harry is still alive; I suppose it helps being the main character and all.
Apr. 22nd, 2006 02:12 pm (UTC)
Lots of lovely sly moments, as well as the laugh out loud foolishness of your "winners" - I particularly like the dig at the Forced Marriage Laws, and the girly handwriting nominating Potter.
Apr. 22nd, 2006 03:01 pm (UTC)
Yes, I fear forced marriage is a slap in the face to natural selection. Glad you enjoyed.

(Your avatar makes me want to sit up straight and *eyes slide out of focus* do your bidding, sir...)
(no subject) - shiv5468 - Apr. 22nd, 2006 03:07 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - _grainne_ - Apr. 22nd, 2006 03:11 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - shiv5468 - Apr. 22nd, 2006 04:26 pm (UTC) - Expand
Apr. 22nd, 2006 02:26 pm (UTC)
Hehehe...I love the Darwin Awards...just when you think that people can't possibly become any more idiotic, they prove you wrong. ;c)

I love this idea, and I think you executed it well. My favorite is the Magic Most Moronic. Poor Mr. Gossell! LOL!
Apr. 22nd, 2006 03:02 pm (UTC)
Thanks! I think Mr. Gossel is well on his way to winning the readers' favourite award; perhaps his wife will come accept it in his honour. :)
Apr. 22nd, 2006 05:22 pm (UTC)
Bwah. This is hilarious.
Apr. 23rd, 2006 02:35 am (UTC)
Apr. 23rd, 2006 12:20 am (UTC)
That was the most intelligently hilarious thing I've read in a long while. And for "Anyone who says different is free to meet us behind the Leaky Cauldron Tuesday next at high noon. Bring your wand—and a friend with a large bag, as you’ll be going home in bits." My sincere three cheers :)
Apr. 23rd, 2006 02:36 am (UTC)
And that is the nicest compliment I've gotten in a long while *beams*

Glad you enjoyed.
Apr. 23rd, 2006 05:19 pm (UTC)
Hilarious! I especially liked the little nod to Aberforth's *cough* unusual *cough* tastes... ;-)
May. 6th, 2006 02:54 am (UTC)
Thank you!
Apr. 26th, 2006 01:51 pm (UTC)
Hehehe, very clever! Great details. Really charming. :D
May. 6th, 2006 02:55 am (UTC)
Thanks--it was a fantastic prompt!
Apr. 27th, 2006 10:09 pm (UTC)
Eeeeh eeh eeh! (Sorry. I do have a moronic laugh, as you may find out sometime in July.)

I'm late reviewing, but I'm happy to have kept this for a nightcap - I'm bound to have hilarious dreams now ;). Dr Adenine's motto is clearly not very popular in the wizarding world, and sounds very refreshing.

The names are delightful; somehow I've taken a fancy to Wilfie Omicron, who, in the JKR tradition, could never be expected to be an alpha brain.

Good night!
(*goes off giggling*)
May. 6th, 2006 02:58 am (UTC)
I do have a moronic laugh, as you may find out sometime in July

I can't wait! Female members of my family are said to be identifiable in packed theatres by our laugh...

I've taken a fancy to Wilfie Omicron, who, in the JKR tradition, could never be expected to be an alpha brain *g*

I'm always delighted to hear I've made you laugh, Sigune; I consider it small repayment for the pleasure your writing and artwork gives me.
( 31 comments — Leave a comment )