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10 Spells as Dangerous as Avada Kedavra in Harry Potter

Jeremy casts spells in between his careers as a chemical analyst and campus manager.

Voldemort casts Avada Kedavra

Voldemort casts Avada Kedavra

Spells and Harry Potter

Even now, Harry Potter captivates fans with its enthralling world and memorable cast. Within the wizarding world, we encounter many powerful spells, from Harry's classic disarming Expelliarmus to Voldemort's instant-kill Avada Kedavra.

In fact, Avada Kedavra belongs to a trio of "Unforgivable Curses" (listed below), jinxes so deadly and cruel that using just one lands a wizard or witch a lifelong ticket into the magical prison Azkaban. Still, throughout the series, we learn of and see a variety of potent hexes, many as destructive as the three banned curses. Read on to discover ten spells that rival the Unforgivable Curses in power!

Spoilers ahead.

Unforgivable Curses


Avada Kedavra

Kills the target.


Tortures the target.


Provides limited control of the target's actions



10. Expulso

User(s): Antonin Dolohov, Harry Potter

Description: Taken directly from the Harry Potter wiki, this spell "produces immense explosions, blasting the target apart with a burst of blue light."

Encounter in book seven, The Deathly Hallows, Expulso narrowly misses Harry and detonates a nearby table; just being near the explosion slams our scar-headed hero into a wall. If it can so utterly eradicate furniture, presumably, it can do the same to people.

Confringo's video game depiction

Confringo's video game depiction

9. Confringo

User(s): Harry Potter, Hermione Granger, Voldemort

Description: Explodes its target.

Also called the Blasting Curse, Confringo functions similarly to Expulso, though it uses heat as opposed to pressure. Again referencing the HP wiki, the "curse is also popular when it comes to dueling, as it can create maximum damage."

Speaking of "maximum damage," some fans believe it was a Confringo that killed Fred Weasley during the Battle of Hogwarts.

8. Sectumsempra

User(s): Harry Potter, Severus Snape

Description: Carves deep gashes into the victim as if struck by an invisible sword.

A well-remembered spell from book 6, The Half-Blood Prince, Harry almost kills Draco Malfoy in a duel when he employs this curse, unaware of its gruesome nature. We also see Snape rip George Weasley's ear off with it in Deathly Hallows.

Sectumsempra is painful, potentially lethal, and prevents reattachment of the body parts it severs, indicating the powerful dark magic fueling the spell.

Gilderoy Lockhart casting Obliviate

Gilderoy Lockhart casting Obliviate

7. Obliviate

User(s): Gilderoy Lockhart

Description: Erases memories from the victim's mind.

Also called the Memory Charm, Obliviate may not maim you physically, but it sure does mentally. In book 2, The Chamber of Secrets, Professor Lockhart reveals he stole the accomplishments of many a potent sorcerer by erasing their memories; thankfully, his spell backfires when he tries to hex Harry.

Many cases of Obliviate's memory loss are permanent, as evidenced by Harry's trip to St. Mungo's in book 5, The Order of the Phoenix, where he encounters Lockhart still missing his memories (and his ability to function within society).

Dumbledore using Firestorm

Dumbledore using Firestorm

6. Firestorm

User(s): Albus Dumbledore

Description: Lassos and incinerates its victim(s) with a massive wave of fire.

Any spell Dumbledore employs is guaranteed to be fearsome. In Half-Blood Prince, he managed to eliminate numerous Inferi (zombie-like monsters) at once with Firestorm, saving Harry (whose own spells had little effect on the creatures) in the process.

Harry affected by Legilimens

Harry affected by Legilimens

5. Legilimens

User(s): Snape, Voldemort, Dumbledore

Description: Probes the target's mind, forcefully revealing memories, emotions, and thoughts.

Another mentally damaging technique, Legilimens allows its caster to utilize Legilimency: the art of mind-reading. Not only will it reveal memories, but it also forces the victim to re-experience them, allowing it to be used as a form of torture. Skilled practitioners like Voldemort can even perform the magic without a wand or incantation!

Though not listed as an Unforgivable Curse, Legilimens seems to be taboo in the wizarding world. Amongst the Ministry, it's not even used on prisoners (like Barty Crouch Jr.) despite its potential to reveal accomplices or schemes.

Molly Weasley dueling

Molly Weasley dueling

4. Molly Weasley's Curse

User(s): Molly Weasley

Description: Apparently kills its target; little is known of this curse.

Molly Weasley unleashes an unnamed spell to kill Bellatrix Lestrange in Deathly Hallows (an impressive feat considering Lestrange had competently dueled Hermione, Luna, and Ginny at once). Because of its effects, this could be Avada Kedavra, but the book makes no mention of Kedavra's trademark green flash, causing most fans to believe Molly used a separate jinx.

In the film, the spell is even more gruesome, completely disintegrating Lestrange upon contact.

Harry and Draco fleeing from Fiendfyre

Harry and Draco fleeing from Fiendfyre

3. Fiendfyre

User(s): Vincent Crabbe

Description: Shoots an immensely powerful fire that cannot be extinguished with conventional means.

Crabbe attempts to kill our three heroes in Deathly Hallows with Fiendfyre, a spell powerful enough to destroy Horcruxes (which are immune to most magic). Crabbe's inexperience with the magic prevented him from controlling it, and it ultimately claimed his life.

What else can I say? This spell envelops a wide area, incinerates anything it touches, and can even mutate into animal-like shapes.

Hermione strongly considers Transmogrification Torturing Draco... Okay, maybe not. Hey, there aren't any pictures of this one!

Hermione strongly considers Transmogrification Torturing Draco... Okay, maybe not. Hey, there aren't any pictures of this one!

2. Transmogrification Torture

User(s): Unknown

Description: Tortures victim to death.

Gilderoy Lockhart mentions Transmogrification Torture in Chamber of Secrets; beyond that, little is known of the spell. It essentially combines two Unforgivable Curses, Crucio and Avada Kedavra, into one horrific package.

Lockhart is revealed to be a sham, but he tends to steal stories, not invent them, implying Transmogrification Torture is a very real and cruel curse.

A Time-Turner produces a similar effect to the Hour-Reversal Charm

A Time-Turner produces a similar effect to the Hour-Reversal Charm

1. Hour-Reversal Charm

User(s): Unknown

Description: Travels up to five hours into the past.

Fans should remember Harry and Hermione time-traveling using a Time-Turner in book 3, Prisoner of Azkaban, to save Buckbeak, prior to which Hermione had used it to manage her several classes. Huh, you'd think wizards could imagine better uses for such potent magic.

Nonetheless, Time-Turners are simply devices that contain Hour-Reversal Charms; skilled wizards can drift through time without them. Of all spells in Harry Potter, I can't imagine any topping the ability to relive life for five hours, allowing practitioners to alter timelines until they achieve their desired outcome (whether benevolent or evil).

Future of Harry Potter

Despite the series proper having long since concluded, various films, books, and even plays continue adding to and expanding the wizarding world, giving us plenty of excuses to revisit this mystical series.

But for now, as we await more tidbits about the wizarding world from J.K. Rowling, cast your vote for the strongest spell and I'll see you at our next Harry Potter countdown!

Questions & Answers

Question: In the book Harry Potter and the Cursed Child, who was the cursed child?

Answer: Most would probably say that it's Delphi, who is (spoiler alert), the daughter of Voldemort and Bellatrix Lestrange.

Question: How do you move your wand to the Avada Kedavra spell?

Answer: The books haven't yet revealed a needed motion; the films make it pretty straightforward, you simply point and cast.

That said, we've learned that you need to *mean* the killing curses, so it's possible Avada Kedavra wouldn't work if you weren't dead-set on killing your target.

Question: What is the incantation for "Firestorm"?

Answer: I believe it has yet to be revealed. Dumbledore and his darn non-verbal magic.

Question: What would be the most powerful Curse? I think it would be Reducto. Not including unforgivables and Transmogrification Torture.

Answer: Reducto's definitely one of the more powerful spells, but I'm leaning towards Fiendfyre considering it can destroy even horcruxes. That said, its status as a curse could be argued since it appears to be aimed in general directions, not applied on specific targets.

It'd be interesting to see someone who can actually properly control Fiendfyre (Crabbe wasn't skilled enough) to use it properly.

Question: What was the Curse Molly Weasley used on Bellatrix LeStrange?

Answer: No one knows; its effects seem live Avada Kedavra, but the book made no mention of a green flash, so controversy remains over its identity.

Question: In Harry Potter, why does Fred lose his ear?

Answer: Try not to get the Weasley twins mixed up--George lost his ear from Snape's Sectumsempra; Fred died in the Battle of Hogwarts.

It was a clever move by Rowling, it led us to believe that Snape really had turned bad, but in truth he was trying to protect the students and simply missed his target.

Question: What is the incantation for the transmogrification torture?

Answer: Since this spell has only been mentioned, not seen, I'm afraid its incantation hasn't been revealed.

Question: When Snape cut George’s ear off was it intentional?

Answer: No, he was aiming for a Death Eater, but it probably further convinced the Death Eaters of his loyalty, so in a way, it worked out. Well, not for George.

Question: Is there any other spells, apart from Riddikulus, that can stop a Boggart?

Answer: Yes. Boggarts seem to take on the weaknesses of the creatures they morph into (Harry's Patronus easily defeated his Dementor Boggart). Additionally, facing a Boggart in a group reduces its danger, as it doesn't know which person's fear to prey on.

Question: Does Aqua Eructo work on water casted by the spell Aquamenti?

Answer: As far as I can tell, no. Aquamenti instantly creates drinkable water, while Aqua Eructo shouts a blast of water from the wand's tip. Neither seems to impact already-existing water.

Question: How does Dumbledore cast spells without saying anything?

Answer: Nonverbal magic requires extra skill and effort, so it's rarely seen. But other wizards (like Snape) can do it, as can house-elves.

© 2017 Jeremy Gill


Tigerlily on August 14, 2020:

Hermione uses obliviate to modify her parents memory so she could travel with Harry without making her parents worry about her.

tobi richard on June 09, 2020:

as for molly' s curse I think she used " duro” which turned her to like stone then used "reducto“ to blow her up to like a million pieces

tobi richard on June 09, 2020:

the incantation for firestorm was partis temporia

Joshua on June 02, 2019:

I think he used diffindo because sectumsempra would have cuts all over his body

Laurent Ecrivain on April 26, 2019:

The Sectumsempra curse described in #8, the users were Harry Potter and Severus Snape. In The Deathly Hallows, Part 2 (film… I haven't read the novel yet), Voldemort uses the spell on Snape believing him to be the true wielder of the Elder Wand because he took Dumbledore's life and has Nagini strike him.

Daevyd Jae on February 23, 2019:

It's plausible that Molly cast an extremely-focused version of a Lightning Spell that caused Belatrix's heart to stop. Another one, not very plausible though, is smoke similar to what Voldemort casts in the 5th and 7th(part 2) movies, then converts to daggers (McGonagal transfigured smoke to daggers)

In the final movie Molly cast a stoning spell which made Belatrix a statue, then cast Diffindo or Bombarda to blast the "statue" to bits. IMO this made the victory most plausible.

Dj on December 05, 2018:

Avada Kedara is easily the most powerful,I also think this article was amazing!! :D

Grindelwald on November 17, 2018:

Avada kedavra and sectumsempra are easily the most powerful

tom marvolo riddle on July 11, 2018:

good artical but i think feindfire is easily number one. cursed fire that chases you and makes hurcruxes snuff it? curses can`t get much worse

Hadrian Riddle on June 10, 2018:

Most of the above mentioned curses are used by Harry

Sasha Jasrain on August 10, 2017:

As a Harry Potter fanatic, I really enjoyed reading this article! I agree that although Avada Kedavara is the instant kill spell, there are many more spells that could do torture and make living unbearable.

Jeremy Gill (author) from Louisiana on August 01, 2017:

Nor can I believe it, Elyse! Even considering Hermione's responsible nature, it's crazy to entrust a teenager with that much power. This, along with a lack of Voldemort-action, make Prisoner of Azkaban my least favorite entry, but I honestly love 'em all.

Elyse Maupin-Thomas from North Carolina on August 01, 2017:

I still can't believe they just gave a 13 year old a time turner. I mean, sure, it's Hermione Granger, but we're talking about time travel and all the possible consequences that come with it. Surely she could have just taken arithmancy over the summer or something?

Legilimency, though. I'd sign up to learn that every day of the week!