38 Harry Potter Spells Every Wizard and Witch Should Know
Which of these charms would you use most and which ones should stay in the spellbook?
There's a lot to envy about the Wizarding World. Talking portraits. Moving newspapers. Flyable broomsticks. Butterbeer. But the ability to create magic with a flick of the wrist really does top every other advantage witches and wizards have other us Muggles. And just as every magical character in the Harry Potter world finds the exact right wand for them, it's tempting to insert ourselves into the fiction. Which wand would I get? What would it be made out of? And which spell would I first cast? If your mind is stuck on the latter, then be sure to keep reading. Below, we've compiled a list of the most useful, obscure, and downright dangerous spells in the entire Harry Potter universe.
Most Useful Harry Potter Spells
Not all spells are created equal, but some prove much more useful than others. Below, we've listed the most handy, relevant, and reliable charms that even us Muggles could incorporate into our day-to-day lives.
Feeling a little lazy? Don't want to run upstairs to grab whatever it was you left up there? No problem. Just use the Summoning Charm and let it do the work for you.
After casting the Water-Making Spell, you can expect a jet of clear blue water to emerge from the tip of your wand. The amount produced depends on your intentions, so just think about how much help this charm would be in the event of a fire or drought.
Also known as the Thief's Friend or the Unlocking Charm, this spell can open all locked objects that aren't already protected by magic—with two exceptions. The charm can't unlock doors locked by the Colloportus or Locking Spell. It's thought Lord Voldemort may have used this spell to enter James and Lily Potter's home the night they were killed.
4. Brackium Emendo
OK, so this one made it onto our list of useful Harry Potter spells because it's meant to heal broken bones, a pretty practical benefit. But that doesn't mean it's always useful when executed. The only time we actually see this spell used in the books is when Gilderoy Lockhart attempts to help Harry when he's injured during Quidditch, but instead of mending his broken bones, he removes them entirely. It's still unclear if Lockhart cast the spell wrong or simply said it incorrectly…
5. Capacious Extremis
The Extension Charm can expand or extend the capacity of an object or space without affecting its external dimensions. For example, you could create a small factory with boundless production capacity. Or a suitcase that never gets overstuffed. Capitalists and frequent flyers alike would find this one handy.
The Confundus Charm will confuse whatever target it lands on—human or otherwise. You may remember Severus Snape telling Harry, Ron, and Hermione that Sirius Black had used the curse on them to convince him of his innocence in The Prisoner of Azkaban. Of course, we now know that was a total lie. Ron also admits to using the curse during his driving test in order to pass.
This is a healing spell that can be used to mend minor injuries—think scraped knees and bloody noses. Imagine how much easier your job as a parent would be with this spell in your back pocket.
The Vanishing Spell can make anything disappear, and we aren't just talking about the small stuff. Think bags of garbage, or even bigger: Entire landfills. Imagine what an environmental triumph that would be!
9. Expecto Patronum
The Patronus Charm proves itself to be immensely important during The Prisoner of Azkaban. By casting this spell, Harry was able to summon a positive-energy force so powerful that it was able to protect him—even against the Dementors.
Also known as the Disarming Charm, this one can certainly come in handy in a fight. One word, and your opponent is defenseless in the middle of a heated battle.
11. Finite Incantatem
Finite Incantatem is a general counter-spell that can reverse or counter charms that have recently been cast. With the sheer number of spells flying around, it certainly can't hurt to have this one at top of mind. You never know who's holding a grudge against you.
Also known as the Dangling Jinx, this spell flings targets into the air, and makes them unable to escape. It seems kind of silly when we're first introduced to this spell, but it comes in handy during The Order of the Phoenix when Luna Lovegood uses it against a Death Eater during the film's climax.
Never worry about the power going out again. The Wand Lighting Charm can light your way across dark forests and spooky basements. Oh—and if your vision isn't what it once was, don't worry. This spell can also help you navigate a menu at a dimly lit restaurant.
This charm creates a buzzing sound in your target's ears to prevent eavesdropping. Imagine the headache this could save you—and school children around the world.
While the Mending Charm doesn't work in cases of extreme magic, it can help repair objects that are broken or damaged. It's actually the last spell the Elder Wand casts to fix Harry's broken wand.
Never use the words "stop right there" again. The Stunning Spell will stop anyone intending to do you harm right in their tracks. It may not be the most complicated charm, but it comes up a lot in The Deathly Hallows, helping Harry defeat his enemies by knocking them out cold.
17. Wingardium Leviosa
The Levitation Charm is a throwback to one of the first spells readers are introduced to in the first book. You may remember Harry, Ron, and Neville struggling to perfect this one while Hermione is able to "switch and flick" her wand without a problem.
Totally Useless Spells in Harry Potter
Not every Harry Potter spell solves a frequently occurring problem. Below, you'll find spells that may have helped Harry and his friends but would be completely useless in our world today.
A charm to reveal invisible ink may be a necessity for Hogwarts students, but how often do you encounter secret messages in your daily life?
19. Arresto Momentum
This one slows… everything… down. And does it help save Harry's life in The Prisoner of Azkaban? Sure. Even still, we'd rather hold on to Accio and Episkey and leave the Slowing Charm back at Hogwarts.
If you often find yourself in desperate need of a flock of birds, then this spell is definitely for you. However, the majority of us would probably not rely on this charm very often.
This charm makes the target's teeth grow larger and larger, altering their appearance and impacting their speech. It doesn't do anything except make that person feel uncomfortable and self-conscious, which just seems kind of mean.
This spell transforms any small object into a dragon which can be controlled by the wizard or witch who cast it. A cool party trick? Yes. Something you're likely to bust out during the work week? Probably not.
Fidelius is one of the more complex charms, used to conceal a secret inside the soul of a chosen "Secret Keeper." A dwelling whose location has been protected by the charm will remain undetectable until the spell is broken. While this can protect individuals from danger, it also places a heavy burden on the Keeper. It can also lead to tragic betrayals, as we see with James, Lily, and Peter Pettigrew.
The Herbivicus Charm can make plants grow faster, which would be great for anyone without a green thumb. It's definitely cool, but not life-changing.
25. Homenum Revelio
This spell alerts the spellcaster to any individuals hiding nearby. Rarely useful in the day-to-day, though it could potentially come in handy during a game of paintball or, of course, if you happen to know anyone with access to an invisibility cloak.
A wizard would use this to make the target's tongue stick to the roof of their mouth. Effective? Certainly. Inconvenient? Yes? Cruel, unusual, and unnecessary? Also yes.
27. Prior Incantato
You'd deploy this charm to force a wand to echo or reveal the last spell it cast, which is great for anyone who walks into an awkward situation and wants to know what's up. But we wouldn't choose the ability to cast this spell over others that can produce water and mend wounds.
Boggarts are shape-shifting creatures that mimic whatever most frightens the people they encounter. The Boggart-Banishing Spell takes away their ability to terrorize their victims by turning the creatures into something less threatening and often funny. While this is an incredibly useful spell in areas where Boggarts exist, it just doesn't seem like it would do much for us in the Muggle world.
29. Slugulus Eructo
Ron attempts this spell on Draco Malfoy but it backfires due to a faulty wand. The result? The young Mr. Weasley ends up vomiting slugs. Definitely not useful, but it is kind of funny.
Dangerous Harry Potter Spells
Here's where magic gets dark. The spells below aren't all executed in bad faith in the Harry Potter universe, though all boast the ability to do far more damage than good.
The Blast Curse is a dangerous spell used often during the First Wizarding War. It causes all targets to explode, mimicking the effects of any other common explosive device.
With the promise of producing "cursed fire," it's no wonder we put this one on our list of the most dangerous spells. Fiendfyre also takes incredible skill and concentration to control, as we see when Vincent Crabbe summons it in the Room of Requirement.
This charm is what the Death Eaters use to conjure the Dark Mark in the sky. The skull-and-serpent sign acts as a calling card and often appears over the homes of anyone they killed.
This Forgetfulness Charm can remove specific memories from someone's mind. It makes an appearance during The Deathly Hallows when Hermione uses it on her own parents to go on the run with her friends. Important note: Obliviate is different from the memory charm, which plants artificial memories instead.
34. Petrificus Totalus
Also known as the Freezing Spell or the Full Body-Bind Curse, this spell paralyzes your target, leaving only their eyes free to wander. Though the spell can be undone using the Episkey charm, it's often used for sinister purposes that endanger the target.
Harry learns of this spell via a second-hand textbook once owned by someone known as the Half-Blood Prince but doesn't discover what it does until he uses it in an altercation with Draco Malfoy, who suffers from intense lacerations after being hit.
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The Three Unforgivable Curses
The last few spells we're covering aren't just dangerous—they're downright fatal. That's right: We're onto the Unforgivable Curses. These three charms are banned by the wizarding community.
36. Avada Kedavra
Also known as the Killing Curse, Avada Kedavra is most famously used (unsuccessfully) by Lord Voldemort on a very young Harry. Typically, whomever is subject to the curse experiences instantaneous death. Fortunately for the magical community, it didn't work that time.
The Cruciatus Curse causes its target to have excruciating and unrelenting pain. Bellatrix Lestrange was a fan of this one before the fall of Lord Voldemort, most famously using it on the Longbottoms. The torture eventually rendered them insane.
The Imperius Curse is the last Unforgivable Curse and the one most infrequently used by Lord Voldemort. That's not to say his underlings don't fancy it too, however. Remember when Barty Crouch Jr. uses it in Defense Against the Dark Arts class when disguised as Mad-Eye Moody? When executed correctly, the charm gives the spellcaster complete control over the target's body. Fortunately, those subjected to it don't seem to be aware of what's happening at the time.
That's it for our list of Harry Potter spells, but be sure to check back in with us soon for even more magic! You can also sign up for our newsletter to enjoy similar kinds of content, as well as the latest in wellness, entertainment, and travel.