Every Time Harry Potter Used Unforgivable Curses (& Why Not Avada Kedavra)

The Unforgivable Curses are three of the most deadly spells within the Harry Potter universe — here are all the Unforgivable Curses Harry Potter used. The darkest of the Dark Arts, Harry Potter unforgivable curses are the Cruciatus Curse, the Imperius Curse, and the Killing Curse. Although the curses are highly illegal, Harry using Unforgivable Curses happened, but he uses them once he was thrust into the Second Wizarding War. While many of Lord Voldemort’s Death Eaters continued to use them illegally, Aurors (members of wizarding law enforcement) were granted permission to cast the spells during both Wizarding Wars. The question of whether Harry used Unforgivable Curses is a fair one, as he’s the hero.

The Cruciatus Curse inflicts excruciating pain through the use of the “Crucio” incantation and is often used as a method of torture and interrogation. The Imperius Curse, cast through “Imperio,” places a victim in a suggestive dreamlike state, giving the caster control over the victim. The Killing Curse, is straightforward in that it instantly inflicts painless death on the victim. Harry used two unforgivable curses, and each occasion weighed heavily on him. With the Harry Potter reboot television series on the way from HBO Max, there’s no better time to look back at the most infamous Harry Potter spells and their impact on the wizarding world. Here is Harry Potter using Unforgivable Curses explained.

Harry Failed With His First Two Crucio Attempts

While the idea of Harry using Unforgivable Curses seems unfathomable, the answer to “does Harry use Unforgivable Curses?” is yes, but only two of them (outside Sectumsempra, which should be considered an Unforgivable Curse). Out of the Unforgivable Curses Harry Potter details, the Cruciatus curse is used frequently. Also referred to as the Torture Curse, Crucio caused unbearable writhing pain throughout the victim’s body. The pain resulted in permanent mental damage if the victim was exposed to the curse for too long.

While multiple figures tried to hit Harry with the Unforgivable Curse throughout the series, Voldemort hit him with the spell in the Little Hangleton graveyard during Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire. According to Harry, it made him feel like his head was being split open. Not long after, the Unforgivable Curse Harry Potter attempted was the Cruciatus Curse — twice (though he failed during the attempts). The first time Harry cast Cruciatus was in Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix when Harry Potter uses Crucio on Bellatrix Lestrange after she killed Sirius Black in the Department of Mysteries.

Harry Potter using Unforgivable Curses seems strange, but it all came down to his profound grief over the loss of Sirius. During this attempt, Lord Voldemort arrived at the Ministry of Magic and told Harry that to cast an Unforgivable Curse successfully, the caster must have the most severe malicious intent for the victim. The next time Harry uses Crucio came during Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince when Harry aimed the spell at Severus Snape after the death of Albus Dumbledore, but the professor blocked it.

Harry’s Successful Use of The Cruciatus Curse

Harry receiving his wand in Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone

Does Harry use Unforgivable Curses successfully? Sadly for his conscience, yes. Of the Unforgivable Curses Harry Potter used, he could finally use the Cruciatus curse in the Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows book. While Harry and his friends were on the Horcrux hunt, Voldemort sent Death Eaters to check the Ravenclaw Tower. Dark Wizard Amycus Carrow was among the followers who demanded entry into the Tower from Professor McGonagall.

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After she called Amycus a coward, the dark wizard spits in her face, which Harry witnessed. To punish Amycus’s disrespectful act, Harry used the Cruciatus Curse and slammed him against the wall. McGonagall followed up Harry’s action by using the Imperius Curse on Amycus before tying him up with a net, rendering him useless during the Battle of Hogwarts. Harry Potter using Unforgivable Curses usually comes from a place of extreme emotion and distress, though when Harry uses Imperio, it’s an unavoidable situation.

Harry Used The Imperius Curse Multiple Times During The Gringotts Heist

Harry Potter, Hermione, and Ron in Deathly Hallows Gringotts heist

Harry does use Unforgivable Curses in the last movie, despite Harry Potter using Unforgivable Curses seeming unlikely because of his hero status. Death Eaters had a history of using Imperio to make innocent victims do their bidding. The Unforgivable Curses Harry Potter cast in Gringotts were the Imperius Curse, which he used three times on two separate figures. On their search for Horcruxes, Harry, Ron, and Hermione traveled to Gringotts Bank to find and recover Hogwarts founder Helga Hufflepuff’s cup.

Since the trio were on the lam from the law and could not be seen, they were forced to use a variety of spells to break in undetected. To get inside, Harry and the group disguised themselves. Hermione used a Polyjuice potion to transform into Bellatrix Lestrange, so they could gain access to the Lestrange Vault. While getting to the vault, the trio ran into Bogrod, a Goblin bank teller, and Travers, a Death Eater. To get them to participate in the heist as accomplices, the Unforgivable Curses Harry Potter used was Imperio on both figures.

Bogrod briefly regained consciousness when they passed through one of the many security enchantments in the underground section of the bank. To keep the mission going as planned, Harry Potter cast a second Imperius Curse on the Goblin before he could raise the alarm to stop them from robbing Gringotts. Even with various charms placed within the vault, the trio managed to escape with the Horcrux relatively unharmed. Harry Potter using Unforgivable Curses was wholly necessary for this particular situation, as they wouldn’t have been able to retrieve the Horcrux without them.

Why Harry Didn’t Cast Avada Kedavra

Harry Potter using his wand against Voldemort

Despite Harry Potter using Unforgivable Curses, one of the Unforgivable Curses Harry Potter never used the Killing Curse for several reasons. Avada Kedavra was Lord Voldemort’s signature spell. In fact, the Dark Lord directly killed multiple notable figures, including Harry’s parents Lily and James Potter, with the Killing Curse. There was no known counter-spell except for sacrificial protection, which was how Lily saved baby Harry before part of the spell backfired, leaving the young boy with the lightning bolt scar.

Though Harry encountered many opportunities that deemed Avada Kedavra necessary, it remains as one of the Unforgivable Curses Harry Potter never cast. For one, he viewed the spell as an immoral practice commonly used by users of the Dark Arts. Despite Harry Potter using Unforgivable Curses, Harry refused to sink to that level of violence because Voldemort was the epitome of evil, as was the Killing Curse, and he would not use the Unforgivable Curse that killed his parents.

There was also a belief that the caster of Avada Kedavra needed the willingness to commit murder for the spell to work. While it was difficult to master the Unforgivable Curses, Harry might not have had the ability or desire to use the Killing Curse since he valued all living things. Voldemort didn’t show any remorse for those he killed, so regret was never an issue when another opportunity to murder arose. When Voldemort faced Harry in their final duel, both wizards could have used the Killing Curse. Instead, Harry entered the fight with a clear mind, while Voldemort was motivated by rage and desperation.

When the Dark Lord used Avada Kedavra for the final time in the Harry Potter series, the spell deflected due to Harry’s ownership of the Elder wand, killing Voldemort with his own signature spell. Following Voldemort’s demise, the Unforgivable Curses were strictly deemed illegal by the Ministry of Magic. Harry Potter using Unforgivable Curses, and their effects on his psyche, are expounded upon much more thoroughly in the books, since Harry is capable of great remorse. This is something not really touched upon in the movies, but it could be investigated in the Harry Potter reboot show.

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How Harry Survived Avada Kedavra Twice

A wand pointing at baby Harry Potter

While Harry Potter using Unforgivable Curses never included Avada Kedavra, the Killing Curse was used many times against Harry, but it only struck him twice — and he somehow managed to live. The first time that Harry Potter was hit with the worst of the Unforgivable Curses Harry Potter had to offer is the foundational incident in both the books and the movies. Convinced that Harry was the baby the Harry Potter prophecy spoke of, Voldemort stole into the Potters’ house in the middle of the night to kill him. James died at Voldemort’s hand, followed by Lily, who sacrificed herself for Harry.

Then, he tried to cast Avada Kedavra on baby Harry, but the curse rebounded, “killing” Voldemort instead. Harry survived this first murder attempt because of Lily’s sacrifice. Her love created an extraordinary type of magic that saved Harry and caused the curse to rebound. This protection would prove helpful throughout the series, as it ended up keeping him safe several times after the first incident. The second time Harry was hit with the Unforgivable Curses Harry Potter offered came in Harry Potter and The Deathly Hallows, during part 2.

Harry meets with He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named in the Forbidden Forest, fully prepared to die. Voldemort strikes him down, but after a chat with Dumbledore in a nebulous “between” world, he returns to the world of the living. His survival this time is down to two factors. By the time the second Avada Kedavra hit him, he was the Master of Death as the owner of all three Deathly Hallows. Before Harry confronted Voldemort, he was already the owner of the Elder Wand and had the Invisibility Cloak, two of the Hallows.

In his final moments, the snitch Dumbledore gave him opens to reveal the Resurrection Stone, the third and final Hallow, meaning that Harry could conquer death. The other reason refers back to Lily’s protection spell. Since Voldemort took Harry’s blood to revive himself in Goblet of Fire, the protection spell still technically lived on in Voldemort’s blood, so he unwittingly engineered his own demise. This is the reason that Dumbledore’s eyes had a “gleam of triumph” after Harry regaled the story of Voldemort’s resurrection in the graveyard, he knew that Voldemort had essentially sealed his fate and Harry was now doubly protected.

The Killing Curse Rule Was Broken In Fantastic Beasts

Fantastic Beasts 4 Dumbledore and Grindelwald

Harry Potter using Unforgivable Curses in the series was a big deal, which is why it’s so disappointing the biggest curse was retconned in Fantastic Beasts. The Harry Potter prequel series, Fantastic Beasts, has broken canon far too many times. The latest issue was that Fantastic Beasts: The Secrets of Dumbledore broke two rules established in the most famous of the Unforgivable Curses Harry Potter introduced: The Killing Curse, Avada Kedavra. At the very beginning of the movie, Grindelwald supporters are chasing Newt and a Qilin mother in the forest. Before stealing one of the Qilin twins, one of Grindelwald’s cronies hits the mother Qilin with a Killing Curse.

Usually, a Killing Curse kills instantly, but that’s not what happens. Instead, the Qilin survives (though not for long) after the curse hits her. The second rule Fantastic Beasts breaks involves deflection. None of the Unforgivable Curses Harry Potter introduced can be deflected by any kind of spell, but Albus and Aberforth Dumbledore break that rule. At the end of Fantastic Beasts 3, Grindelwald aims an Avada Kedavra at Credence, but the Dumbledore brothers deflect it using some type of protection spell.

Regardless, the Fantastic Beasts franchise hangs in the balance, as it doesn’t have quite the magic and momentum of the Harry Potter series. Canon inconsistencies like the Unforgivable Curses Harry Potter established are particularly grating given J. K. Rowling’s adherence to consistency in her myth-building. With the outright failure of Fantastic Beasts 2 and the lukewarm reception of the third installment, Fantastic Beasts 4 might not happen. Couple that with the fact that David Yates is already directing something else, and HBO Max is making a Harry Potter reboot series, and it doesn’t look too good for the prequel series.

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The Unforgivable Curses Were Outlawed In 1717

An image of Bellatrix being killed in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows - Part 2

The Unforgivable Curses Harry Potter introduces weren’t always considered the danger they are today, as the curses only became listed as “unforgivable” in 1717. This information was revealed in Dumbledore’s notes in The Tales of Beedle the Bard, a Harry Potter companion book introduced in The Deathly Hallows, in which Dumbledore writes: “The Cruciatus, Imperius, and Killing Curses were first classified as Unforgivable in 1717, with the strictest penalties attached to their use.”

There are no records from J.K. Rowling or otherwise chronicling the events that led to their classification as such, nor is there any information regarding who was the Minister for Magic at the time of their being made illegal. Due to the nature of the Unforgivable Curses Harry Potter created, it’s completely understandable why they would be outlawed, as Harry Potter using Unforgivable Curses in the books causes great psychological distress for him.

Neville’s Parents Show Why They’re Called Unforgivable Curses

Neville with his Mimbulus Mimbeltonia next to image of his parents from Harry Potter display:block;height:auto;max-width:100%;

Neville Longbottom has a tragic backstory in the books that’s only briefly touched upon in the film. It’s explained in Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire that Neville’s parents were tortured to the point of madness by Bellatrix Lestrange’s liberal use of the Cruciatus Curse, the Unforgivable Curses Harry Potter describes as the Torture Curse. Therefore, Neville is raised by his grandmother, and never really knew his parents before they went insane.

This is made sadder in the Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix book. When Harry and the Weasleys go to visit Arthur at St. Mungo’s Hospital after he was attacked by Nagini, Neville is also at the hospital, visiting his parents. It’s a truly depressing scene, that sees parents who don’t recognize their own son, and are incapable of proper speech, movement, and are of no sound mind. While this scene wasn’t included in the Harry Potter movies, the horrible fate of Neville’s parents demonstrates why the curses are considered unforgivable.

One curse inflicted multiple times caused two very strong members of the Order of the Phoenix to lose all of their faculties and descend into madness. While Neville is constantly reminded that he should be proud of his parents and their astounding efforts in the First Wizarding War, he’s still a teenager who is insecure that his friends are meeting his parents, two people who have been driven to insanity and aren’t able to recognize their own son, much less communicate with anyone else. The Longbottoms arguably faced a fate worse than death, proving why the Harry Potter Unforgivable Curses are considered just that: unforgivable.

The HBO Harry Potter Series Should Make Harry Using Unforgivable Curses A Bigger Deal

Max; Hogwarts

Harry Potter using Unforgivable Curses is something that’s glossed over in the film series — especially considering the weight of their impact on the wizarding world and Harry’s inner struggle after casting them in the novels. However, HBO Max and Warner Bros. have announced that they will be making a Harry Potter reboot television show, awarding one book per season. This gives showrunners the opportunity to explore Harry’s journey in a much wider format, allowing for beloved cut storylines and characters to be included, such as the impact of the Unforgivable Curses on both Harry and the wider wizarding world.

In the novels, Harry Potter using Unforgivable Curses, and the nature of the spells as a whole, weighs heavily on Harry’s mind and forces him to question his own morality at points. This internal struggle wasn’t in the film series, but the TV show would do well to include it. The Unforgivable Curses turn Harry Potter from a children’s story into a much darker tale, and the books reflect this change in tone as Harry grows up. It’s unclear if HBO Max will want to lean further into the darker side of Harry Potter from the get-go, taking a different route than Chris Columbus’ first two whimsical interpretations.

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