What are the best Harry Potter spells? If you’re reading this, there’s a good chance you spent most of your childhood wishing you could go to Hogwarts. You wanted to have a wand choose you and learn dozens of spells to do everything you could ever imagine.
The Harry Potter movies helped us live in that world, existing vicariously through the best Harry Potter characters as they learned to swish and flick their way to wizarding greatness. Even the best Harry Potter villains taught us a thing or two about how to use magic to deal with our enemies, though we’ll probably stay away from using those ones in our day to day lives.
We’ve watched the Harry Potter movies in order more times than we can count, and so we’re bringing you our list of the best Harry Potter spells. If your magical skills only stretch to a handful of jinxes, hexes, and curses from the best fantasy movies in the series, make these the ones you learn.
The 15 best Harry Potter spells ranked:
- Reducto, Reductor Curse
- Piertotum Locomotor
- Imperio, Imperius Curse
- Stupefy, Stunning Charm
- Confundo, Confundus Charm
- Alohomora, Unlocking Charm
- Wingardium Leviosa, Levitation Charm
- Petrificus Totalus, Full-Body Bind
- Expelliarmus, Disarming Charm
- Accio, Summoning Charm
- Obliviate, Memory Charm
- Avada Kedavra, Killing Curse
- Expecto Patronum, Patronus Charm
15. Reducto, Reductor Curse
There are some elegant spells on this list, which use intellect and skill to accomplish great magical outcomes. But sometimes, you just want to blast a thing into tiny pieces. Step forward, the Reductor Curse.
In the movies, it’s Ginny Weasley who makes the most efficient use of this curse in Order of the Phoenix. We see her deliver an impressive Reductor Curse during one of the Dumbledore’s Army sessions, then she performs it to explosive effect during the scuffle at the Department of Mysteries. A huge moment for the unsung hero of the Weasley clan.
14. Piertotum Locomotor
It takes a powerful witch or wizard to make the most of this spell, which can turn inanimate objects into living things. Fortunately, the formidable magical ability of Minerva McGonagall is enough to turn the Hogwarts suits of armor into a deadly army willing to defend the castle at any cost.
We particularly love that McGonagall, even in the heat of the most grave battle, takes a lot of joy at this spell. We’d be right with her on that.
There’s something brilliant about a really specific spell, and this one is right up there. As far as we know, the only purpose of Riddikulus is to subdue a Boggart by turning it from a scary form into something hilarious, capitalizing on its biggest weakness.
It give us a roller skating spider, Snape in the clothes of Neville’s grandmother, and a snake turning into a clown (still pretty scary, if we’re honest). This is why Lupin was the best teacher.
12. Imperio, Imperius Curse
One of the three Unforgivable Curses, this one allows the wielder to control the victim of the curse. Sometimes it’s just for a few moments, but often this particularly insidious form of control can go on for days, months, or years.
This particular tool was a big hallmark of Voldemort’s first rise to power and it plays a role again after his return during the Potter timeline. Most memorably in the movies, though, it’s used to land a massive spider on Malfoy’s face. A lot less serious, but perfect either way.
11. Stupefy, Stunning Charm
In Star Trek, they set phasers to stun. In Harry Potter, you point your wand and yell “stupefy” at the top of your lungs. Either way, stunning enemies is a vital skill for any hero who’s not willing to shoot to kill.
It’s one of the most common spells we see in wizard combat during the second half of the Potter franchise and provides a constant cacophony of yells as witches and wizards tumble.
10. Confundo, Confundus Charm
Few things are more powerful than confusion, which makes the Confundus Charm a vital tool in the armory of any witch or wizard. It can even be used on sentient magical objects, like the Goblet of Fire, if you’ve got enough skill to override their existing magic.
It’s a very potent piece of spell-casting, but the Confundus Charm only makes one appearance in the movies, and it’s played for comedy value. Hermione uses the charm to ensure that the lecherous Cormac McLaggen botches his trial for the Gryffindor Quidditch team, clearing the way for Ron Weasley to become the new Keeper. Weasley is our king!
One of the nastier spells on this list, Sectumsempra is an invention of the Half-Blood Prince – aka Severus Snape – during his schooldays. It has the effect of slashing at the victim as if with an invisible sword, causing deep and bloody wounds that can potentially be fatal. Brutal.
Harry discovers the spell after acquiring Snape’s old school book and uses it on Malfoy without knowing what it would do. He’s immediately shocked by the level of violence it causes. It’s a lesson to us all not to use magic from strange books. You heard it here first.
8. Alohomora, Unlocking Charm
Unlocking doors is an important skill for any fantasy hero, with Doctor Who incarnations over the years almost always carrying their trusty Sonic Screwdriver for exactly this reason. In the world of Harry Potter, it’s the simple Alohomora incantation that does this job.
Alohomora pops up often in the first Potter adventure as one of the simpler spells Hermione teaches the boys. As with the Doctor’s Sonic, it doesn’t always work, and there are plenty of enchantments that can keep doors firmly shut in the Wizarding World.
But it’s a super useful skill to have, for sure, and unlike the Sonic Screwdriver, it can’t be defeated simply by wood. That’s five points to Gryffindor on that one.
7. Wingardium Leviosa, Levitation Charm
Look, making stuff fly is just really cool. There might not be that many reasons to use it practically, but it must be incredibly satisfying. That’s not to mention the joy of that “swish and flick” wand motion that we’ve all done a million times. It just feels magical.
Wingardium Leviosa is quintessentially cool and provides one of the most memorable classroom scenes in the Potter franchise. This sort of pure magical joy was very important in establishing the Wizarding World in the early movies, and joy doesn’t come much more perfect than making stuff zoom about in the air for no reason.
6. Petrificus Totalus, Full-Body Bind
We all have sympathy for Neville Longbottom, right? Before he got all sexy and made of cheekbones, he was the lovable doofus of the Gryffindor clan and provided our introduction to this delightfully potent curse way back in the first movie.
Hermione simply couldn’t allow Neville to prevent them saving the Philosopher’s Stone, so she was forced to cast the Full-Body Bind on him, leaving him stiff as a board on the floor of the Gryffindor common room. Harsh, but very efficient indeed.
5. Expelliarmus, Disarming Charm
It’s Harry’s favorite spell, and an invaluable tool in every wizard’s arsenal. The best way to stop a witch or wizard from wielding their power is to separate them from their wand, which is exactly what Expelliarmus manages to achieve.
As well as being very useful, the Disarming Charm is vital in Harry earning the mastery of the Elder Wand without Voldemort knowing about it. And then, it’s an Expelliarmus that brings about the Dark Lord’s demise when the Horcrux-free bad guy has his own Killing Curse rebound in the face of Harry’s spell.
4. Accio, Summoning Charm
Accio is a simple spell, but there’s no doubting its usefulness. Harry would’ve been cooked to a crisp by a dragon in Goblet of Fire if he hadn’t been able to summon his broomstick, for starters.
This is probably the Harry Potter spell we’d use most in the real world, which is why it’s so high up the list. Accio remote control. Accio popcorn. Accio ice cream. We’d be at it all day. And you’d never lose your phone down the side of the couch ever again.
3. Obliviate, Memory Charm
It’s a shame that the most prominent user of the Memory Charm in the Harry Potter movies is a fool like Gilderoy Lockhart, because this is a powerful spell. The ability to modify someone’s memory has myriad uses, beyond writing sensationalist, over-cranked books about other people’s successes.
While Lockhart’s backfiring Memory Charm at the end of Chamber of Secrets is the first thing you think about, this spell also gives us one of the most harrowing Potter moments. Before she leaves to look for Horcruxes, Hermione casts a Memory Charm on her parents so that they forget about her and cannot be questioned or tortured for information.
It’s a moment of quiet emotional brutality for the series and provides arguably Emma Watson’s finest hour as Hermione. This moment is a big part of why Hermione overshadows Harry Potter in the movies.
2. Avada Kedavra, Killing Curse
It’s pretty horrible, we know, but there aren’t many spells as powerful as Avada Kedavra. It even sounds malevolent and scary. The ability to kill someone with two words and a flick of the wand is chilling, especially when accompanied by that green flash of light.
The sense of finality and brutality that comes with Avada Kedavra is vital in undercutting the wonder and awe of this magical world. When the body of Cedric Diggory or Sirius Black, for example, slumps to the floor, it becomes all too real.
1. Expecto Patronum, Patronus Charm
Sometimes, we love the most powerful spells. Sometimes, we love the spells that will be useful in our mundane lives. But some spells are just so exceptionally badass that we can’t help but love them.
The Patronus Charm is ostensibly only useful for repelling Dementors – or sending messages in the later movies – but we all want a silvery animal companion right? The first question you ask any Potter fan is what house they’re in. The second is: what’s your Patronus?
To explore the best movies in the Potter series, find out about the horrifying original Voldemort design and learn which Harry Potter villain scared Stephen King. We’ve also explained how Horcruxes work, the meaning of ‘Always’, and discussed why we still can’t forgive the Harry Potter finale.
We’ve also looked ahead to the new movies we might soon see in the franchise, including the Fantastic Beasts 4 release date and the Harry Potter and the Cursed Child release date. And on the small screen, there’s a Harry Potter TV series release date on the way. Sadly, we don’t know a spell to make it show up faster.