So you want to kill someone in the Harry Potter universe

Now I don’t have to tell you that murder is wrong, but for a witch or wizard killing someone else really couldn’t be easier. You can kill them with a flick of the wrist, which could shoot them into space or burn them alive.

The problem with committing the ultimate sin is how easily it can be traced back to you in the wizarding world. Like the rifling on a bullet shot from a gun, a spell leaves a unique trace on the wizard’s wand.

In Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, Winky, a house elf, was found with Harry Potter’s wand shortly after some Death Eaters attacked the Quidditch World Cup. Officials from the Ministry of Magic could tell what spell was used last by the wand, but not who cast it last.

Getting away with murder scot-free is pretty tough in the Harry Potter universe, but here are some ideas, not that you should try them out, if you’ve received your Hogwarts letter.

Brackium Emendo

Floppy arms could have their benefits.

Floppy arms could have their benefits.

In Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, Gilderoy Lockhart uses a spell, rather unsuccessfully, to “fix” Harry Potter’s arm after it had been broken during a Quidditch match. The spell designed to fix bones instead vanished all of them away from Harry’s arm leaving it rubbery and limp.

It’s hard to say if Lockhart cast the spell wrong or if he just made it up on the spot. What’s clear is that the spell could do some real damage in the wrong hands.

As I’ve written about in a previous post, most spells are a mixture of Latin and Greek words. Brachium refers basically to your forearm and Emendo means without fault, so would saying Cranium Emendo take away your skull?

Humans can’t survive without their skulls even for a short amount of time, I think. Harry is lucky that he only broke his arm because Lockhart’s spell could have been devastating.

Death by Mandrake

Creepy screaming root babies, an assassin's weapon of choice.

Creepy screaming root babies, an assassin’s weapon of choice.

Mandrake or Mandragora is used to return those who have been petrified to their original state. It’s also quite dangerous. The Mandrake’s cry is fatal to anyone who hears it.

Anyway, Mandrakes made their first appearance in Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets as baby-sized root creatures that scream when taken out of the ground. Their cries can kill you, but they have to be fully grown before they can do so.

If you were an assassin who had to kill an entire room of people you could get a Mandrake, bring it to the event, use a Petrificus Totalus charm on it, and then toss it into the room. Once the spell wore off its cries would kill everyone, right? There’s nothing about how far you have to be away from the cry for it not to be fatal either, which means there’s a chance you could hear it a few kilometres away and still die.

There are certainly some problems like growing the mandrake, which, given their nature as conscious creatures, might be hard to get a hold of; however, every witch and wizard who attended Hogwarts knows how to take care of them and tend to their needs.

Death by Transfiguration

Ron really doesn't take care of Scabbers.

Ron really doesn’t take care of Scabbers.

In Harry Potter and the Chambers of Secrets, Ron Weasley transfigures Scabbers, his rat, into a weird furry water goblet. Now in Prisoner of Azkaban, we learn that Scabbers is in fact a human named Peter Pettigrew. With that logic it’s not too far of a stretch to say that you can turn a human being into an object if you’re talented enough… unlike Ron.

As we see in Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, a human being can be transfigured into an animal as Impostor Moody turned Draco Malfoy into a ferret. You could turn a human into a fish and watch them suffocate on the ground.

The possibilities are endless, but really wrong.

The trickiest part of this form of murder is that Transfiguration is quite a complicated. If you screw up the spell you might only transform someone into half of a water goblet… which actually might wind up killing them in any event.

The Bubble-Head Charm

Image via:

Image via:

Now this charm won’t kill on its own, but combined with another spell it would. The Impervius Charm makes objects virtually untouchable, for how long I’m not sure. Anyway, if you use a Bubble-Head Charm you get a bubble around your head/face with a finite amount of air. If you run out of air you could suffocate. You get the point.

It would work pretty well if the person was asleep too, but you didn’t get the idea from me.

Death by gun

Makes you wonder what would happen if Vernon had shot Hagrid. I mean, half-giants are pretty durable, but a bunch of buckshot to the face or stomach would still probably have killed him. It's a pretty balsy thing to look down the barrel of the gun, grab it, and then bend it. At any moment Vernon could have pulled the trigger and bam Hagrid's dead. At least, it would have helped Harry see Thestrals sooner...

Makes you wonder what would happen if Vernon had shot Hagrid. I mean, half-giants are pretty durable, but a bunch of buckshot to the face or stomach would still probably have killed him. It’s a pretty balsy thing to look down the barrel of the gun, grab it, and then bend it. At any moment Vernon could have pulled the trigger and bam Hagrid’s dead. At least, it would have helped Harry see Thestrals sooner…

Arthur Weasley has always been fascinating to me as he has absolutely no clue how the Muggle world works despite working with them every day. Everything from escapators (escalators) to rubber ducks are completely foreign objects to him, so what would Arthur think of a gun?

A gun is a piece of technology, but not exactly a new one. The first firearm has been dated back to 13th century China with black powder being dated back even further to the 9th century. A gun is both a mechanical object and chemically powered object. Arthur would be fascinated by it probably cocking it and looking straight down the barrel to check it out.

Anyway, I think if you killed a wizard with a gun Minister of Magic Aurors wouldn’t know where to start during the investigation. Do they know about finger prints? Forensics? Rifling? I’m guessing they have some contact with Muggle authorities, but they couldn’t allow the police to get involved in wizard affairs.

If a wizard or a witch was killed by a gun the mere method would stymie the investigation, but again you didn’t get the idea from me.

Death by poison

What a nerd.

What a nerd.

Brewing potions is taught to students at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. While there have been some sources online that say students are taught to make poisons, I don’t think that’s necessarily true. Yes, Snape did force students to write an essay on undetectable poisons, but he didn’t teach them how to make said potions.

In fact, most of the potions students learn to make are antidotes, although we never get to see the curriculum of 7th year students.

Anyway, students have shown that making potions is an easy as learning a recipe from a textbook, or sometimes from a weird moody textbook created by a social outcast. Hermione Granger in second year was able to make a Polyjuice Potion rather successfully only having rudimentary knowledge of potion making principles. You could imagine what kind of brews someone like Tom Riddle would make if given the chance.

Having learned that Hepzibah Smith owned Salazar Slytherin’s Cup and Helga Hufflepuff’s Cup, Riddle killed her using a little-known poison poured into her evening cocoa. It was  undetectable and they never found out who killed her. It seems like poison is the best way to go in order to kill a wizard unless they’ve got a pocketful of beozars handy.

However, there are other potions that could be used to kill including:

The Ageing potion: Overdoes until they turn to bones

Befuddlement Draught: Give to victim and place them near to a cliff

Draught of Peace: Give to victim and place on train tracks

Erumpent Potion / Exploding Potion: Explodes when touched, basically just throw it at someone

Garotting Gas: Chokes people

Pompium Potion: Turns victim’s head into a pumpkin; smash pumpkin


Yeah, lots of ways to kill people in the Harry Potter universe. If you can think of some creative ways to knock off a witch or a wizard feel free to share them below. Don’t worry, I won’t send the Aurors out to your house afterwards…

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