Every Harry Potter Character Who Uses An Unforgivable Curse (2024)

Summary

  • The Unforgivable Curses, including Avada Kedavra, Imperius, and Cruciatus, are powerful spells forbidden in the Wizarding World but have been used by several characters, including Voldemort and his followers.
  • Characters like Draco Malfoy, Severus Snape, Barty Crouch Jr., and Bellatrix Lestrange have all used the Unforgivable Curses under Voldemort's influence, showing the extent of their loyalty to him.
  • Even Harry Potter himself has used the Imperius and Cruciatus Curses in his fight against Voldemort, highlighting the desperation and moral gray areas of his quest to defeat the Dark Lord.

The Unforgivable Curses in the Harry Potter franchise are a series of powerful spells whose practice is forbidden in the Wizarding World - but that hasn't stopped several important characters from using them over the course of the story. The most famous of the Unforgivable Curses is Avada Kedavra, the killing curse responsible for Harry Potter's famous scar - but there are two other lesser-known curses that Ministry officials deemed too dangerous for general use. These include the Imperius and Cruciatus Curses, responsible for mind control and extreme pain, respectively. Despite their unforgivable nature, even some of Harry Potter's closest friends and allies have used the curses sometimes.

Although Voldemort and Grindelwald are among the most dangerous wizards in the franchise, they're not the only ones immoral enough to inflict the Unforgivable Curses upon other people. Several characters are known to have used the curses in the past, whilst many are actually seen using them throughout the movies. The power of these curses, particularly Avada Kedavra, is clear right from the beginning of the franchise - many characters are amazed that Harry was able to survive the Killing Curse at Voldemort's hands on the day that his parents died, especially since nobody else had ever done that, proving just how dangerous they can be.

Lord Voldemort (All 3 Curses)

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Voldemort uses all three Unforgivable Curses and uses the Killing Curse more than any other villain in the franchise - almost every spell that shoots from his wand has that familiar green haze. He's completely indiscriminate with his use of the curse, killing anybody who stands in his way (including Harry's parents). He's often seen slaughtering Muggles with the Killing Curse, including his own parents. Voldemort gave up the name Tom Riddle at a very young age, but his troubled past still had a huge effect on his twisted worldview. In the end, it was Voldemort's reliance on the Killing Curse that led to his own death at the Battle of Hogwarts.

But it's not just the fatal Killing Curse that Voldemort frequently uses in the movies - he's also known to have used the Cruciatus Curse on several occasions. He's first seen torturing Harry at Little Hangleton graveyard following his resurrection in The Goblet of Fire, but it's revealed that he's used the curse previously against fellow Death Eaters like Peter Pettigrew and Avery II. The showdown at Little Hangleton also saw Voldemort cast the Imperius Curse on Harry in an attempt to make him adhere to the rules of the duel, but he eventually managed to overcome the power of the spell.

Draco Malfoy (Cruciatus & Imperius Curses)

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It's Lucius Malfoy that's known for his brutal moments in the Harry Potter franchise, but whilst his son Draco might not be quite as powerful, he's still familiar with the Unforgivable Curses. He's never seen using the Killing Curse, but under strict orders from Voldemort, he's known to have used the other two. Draco uses the Cruciatus Curse on fellow Death Eaters Thorfinn Rowle and Antonin Dolohov as punishment for letting Harry escape from Tottenham Court Road and uses the Imperius Curse in order to smuggle a cursed necklace into Hogwarts when spying on Dumbledore for Lord Voldemort.

Although the use of these curses is rightly unforgivable, it's important to note that Draco never used them for his own benefit. It was always the pressure from Lord Voldemort that forced Draco into his crimes. Dumbledore was one of Hogwarts' most powerful professors, and Voldemort knew that only an expendable Death Eater like Draco could be used to spy upon him. Draco undergoes a serious journey in the final few movies, and although there are problems with his redemption arc, it makes sense that he'd want to seek forgiveness for his crimes. He's not the same as his father, it just takes him some time to realize this.

Severus Snape (The Killing Curse)

Snape's true allegiance was always a mystery, and although he committed several crimes in his time as a Death Eater, there was one person who always trusted him regardless - Albus Dumbledore. The pair had a very close bond, and whilst they admittedly had their differences, their combined power was luckily enough to trick Voldemort into believing Snape was his ally. However, in order for Snape to actually gain the Dark Lord's trust, he was forced to use the Unforgivable Curses. Though Snape ended up being Slytherin's greatest hero, it took his pre-calculated murder of Dumbledore using the Killing Curse to reach that status.

Although it's easy to hate Snape for killing Dumbledore atop the Astronomy Tower, it's important to understand that Dumbledore fully agreed with his actions, and even endorsed them. The heroes needed a spy among Voldemort's ranks, and Snape was the only person that could possibly manage that. In the end, it was Snape's infiltration of the Death Eaters that led to Voldemort's eventual demise, so his actions clearly worked. This was the only confirmed case of Snape using the curse, and although it's deemed by many to be 'unforgivable,' it's easy to understand and justify him using it on that night.

Barty Crouch Jr. (All 3 Curses)

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Barty Crouch Jr. caused a lot of trouble by putting Harry's name in the Goblet of Fire, but that's far from the worst of his crimes. For a long time, Barty Crouch Jr. was perhaps Voldemort's most trusted and loyal follower. He's one of the few Death Eaters that believed in the Dark Lord's cause, rather than simply acting out of fear and self-preservation. He enjoyed torturing Muggles and harming those who stood in his path, which is proven by his excessive use of the Unforgivable Curses. He displayed all three curses whilst posing as Mad-Eye Moody in Hogwarts, and also used the Imperius Curse to maintain his disguise.

Barty Crouch Jr. isn't a hugely important character in the grand scheme of things, but his presence in The Goblet of Fire immediately cements him as one of Voldemort's scariest and most dangerous followers. David Tennant's improv as Barty Crouch Jr. was well-received, really giving the character an unpredictable edge that matches his erratic personality. He treats the Unforgivable Curses just like any other spells, and although there aren't too many examples of him using them, he's never displayed any restraint. He's actually the character that first introduces the Unforgivable Curses, so he'll always be connected with them in some way.

Bellatrix Lestrange (Cruciatus & Killing Curses)

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Another of Voldemort's unwaveringly loyal followers, Bellatrix Lestrange is the most unhinged and unpredictable of them all. Many of Bellatrix's scenes were also improvised, which gives her an equally surprising edge to match her personality. She never hesitates to inflict the Cruciatus Curse when she needs to extract information. She's known to have used the spell on both Neville Longbottom and Hermione Granger as a method of torture and punishment - and she was also likely involved in the torturing of Frank and Alice Longbottom many years ago. In the Half-Blood Prince book she kills a fox with Avada Kedavra and also attempts to hit Ginny with it in the Battle of Hogwarts.

Bellatrix's disregard for the rules when it comes to the Unforgivable Curses is typical of Voldemort's closest followers and immediately sets her up as a force to be reckoned with. Voldemort's older age in the movies suggests that he's probably more familiar with the curses than his followers, but there's no doubt that Bellatrix knows how to use them effectively. She displays no remorse for her victims, reveling in the pain that her magic is able to inflict. Unforgivable Curses are the best way to judge a character's morals in the Harry Potter franchise, and much like most other Death Eaters, Bellatrix proves beyond doubt that she's completely beyond redemption.

Harry Potter (Cruciatus & Imperius Curses)

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Harry Potter definitely isn't the first person that comes to mind when considering the Unforgivable Curses, but he's actually practiced two of the three. Although he's never cast the Killing Curse (despite being overly familiar with it), Harry has used the other two Unforgivable Curses in his quest to bring down Voldemort. He cast Imperio upon both Bogrod and Travers when breaking into Bellatrix Lestrange's Gringotts vault in The Deathly Hallows, and has used (or attempted to use) Crucio on Amycus Carrow, Bellatrix Lestrange, and Severus Snape. Harry has always fought the good fight, but that doesn't mean he's always adhered closely to the rules.

Although most authority figures in Harry's life have taught him that the Unforgivable Curses should never be used, there are certain times when drastic measures need to be taken. Although his uses of the Cruciatus Curse are hard to justify (since they were mostly cast from anger), his use of the Imperius Curse was necessary to retrieve Hufflepuff's Cup from the Gringotts vault. Without destroying that Horcrux, Harry and his friends never would have been able to take down Voldemort at the Battle of Hogwarts without risking his return in the future.

Lucius Malfoy (The Imperius Curse)

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While decorated Death Eater Lucius Malfoy has probably used all three Unforgivable Curses, it's explained in the Harry Potter books that he's something of a savant at using the Imperius Curse. He's only ever shown and mentioned to use the Imperius Curse in the Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix book. He places Ministry of Magic employees Broderick Bode and Sturgis Podmore under the Imperius Curse in an attempt to steal the prophecy from the Department of Mysteries, and these thwarted attempts inform Voldemort that the prophecy can only be taken by the subject whom it is about. Ironically, Lucius got out of imprisonment after the First Wizarding War by claiming he was under the Imperius Curse.

Minerva McGonagall (The Imperius Curse)

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Many would be shocked to know that the Head of Gryffindor House Minerva McGonagall uses one of the Unforgivable Curses in the Harry Potter books, though it's not depicted in the movies. In Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Harry is followed up to Ravenclaw Tower by Death Eater Amycus Carrow. Harry reveals himself and uses the Cruciatus Curse on Amycus after Amycus spits in McGonagall's face, and then she uses the Imperius Curse to subdue him so that Harry can continue on his mission to find the Horcrux without alerting anyone else.

Rodolphus Lestrange (The Cruciatus Curse)

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Though never seen in the movies, Rodolphus Lestrange is Bellatrix's husband and just as avid a follower of Voldemort as his wife. He never speaks in the books either but is known to be one of the most powerful Death Eaters. He's first seen in the books during Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire when Harry discovers the Pensieve and dives into one of Dumbledore's memories of Barty Crouch Jr.'s trial. Rodolphus took part in torturing Frank and Alice Longbottom into insanity by means of the Cruciatus Curse. While he undoubtedly used all three Unforgivable Curses at some point, this is the only one tied to him.

Rabastan Lestrange (The Cruciatus Curse)

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Like his brother, Rabastan Lestrange doesn't feature in the Harry Potter movies and doesn't have a speaking role in the books. Regardless, he did use Unforgivable Curses, and one of them got him a life sentence in Azkaban. Rabastan Lestrange was Rodulphus' younger brother, and he was part of the group that famously tortured Frank and Alice Longbottom with the Cruciatus Curse. Not much is truly known about Rabastan or the rest of the Lestranges outside of the Fantastic Beasts franchise, but it's highly likely that he's utilized all three Unforgivable Curses at some point.

Amycus Carrow (The Cruciatus Curse)

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Amycus Carrow was a particularly bloodthirsty Death Eater who was stationed at Hogwarts during Deathly Hallows, and he and his sister have a much larger role in the books. Under Snape's time as Headmaster, Amycus was the Dark Arts teacher and gleefully took part in punishing students with the Cruciatus Curse. He seemed to like this spell in particular, as he shot it at Ginny Weasley multiple times during the Battle of Hogwarts. Amycus also attempted to coerce others into using the curse, trying to get Neville to practice it on first years.

Alecto Carrow (The Cruciatus Curse)

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Just as cruel and vicious as her brother, Alecto Carrow was well-versed in Unforgivable Curses and used one of them on the students of Hogwarts during The Deathly Hallows. A seasoned Death Eater, Alecto was made the new Muggle Studies Professor during Snape's reign as Headmaster and was head of disciplinary action with her brother. She was known to cast the Cruciatus Curse on misbehaving students alongside regular physical beatings. Alecto and her brother have probably used all three Unforgivable Curses at some point during their run as Death Eaters, though the Cruciatus Curse is the only one that's discussed.

Gellert Grindelwald (The Killing Curse)

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The big bad of the Fantastic Beasts franchise is Gellert Grindelwald, and while he doesn't use Unforgivable Curses as carelessly as Voldemort does, he is still shown using the Killing Curse. While Secrets of Dumbledore made a habit of retconning the Killing Curse, Grindelwald is shown aiming the curse at Credence toward the climax of the film. After Credence defies him, and he is outed for faking the Qillin election, Grindelwald retaliates by aiming Avada Kedavra at Credence in retaliation. Grindelwald tells his acolytes to use the curse during Crimes of Grindelwald. It's also widely debated whether it was young Grindelwald who cast the curse that killed Ariana Dumbledore.

Vinda Rosier (The Killing Curse)

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Grindelwald's star acolyte Vinda Rosier doesn't have a ton of lines in the Fantastic Beasts franchise, but she's shown to be a formidable force who is adept at utilizing Unforgivable Curses. She also could be just as manipulative as her master, as she proved integral in swaying Queenie to his side before his rally in Crimes of Grindelwald. Vinda Rosier uses the Killing Curse in Secrets of Dumbledore to slay the mother Qillin and its baby, not knowing that it had a twin. It's also worth noting that she cast the spell nonverbally, something that Voldemort himself wasn't powerful enough to master.

Carrow (The Killing Curse)

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Another one of Grindelwald's acolytes, Carrow is only known by her surname, but she's possibly one of the most ruthless Harry Potter characters thanks to her use of Unforgivable Curses. She's only shown using the Killing Curse a handful of times, but one instance in particular is deeply disturbing. While she attempts to use the Killing Curse alongside Vinda Rosier in pursuit of the Qillin during Secrets of Dumbledore, she's first seen using it in Crimes of Grindelwald. When Grindelwald is posted up in France, he finds an apartment to be used as headquarters but is tasked with ridding the occupying family first. Carrow is asked to dispose of an infant, which she unquestioningly does.

MORE: Why Harry Potter's House Cup Stopped Being Important

Every Harry Potter Character Who Uses An Unforgivable Curse (2024)

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