17 Harry Potter Spells, Ranked

There are so many magical things in the Harry Potter universe. From the mysteries of Hogwarts to the magical creatures to the rich history of the world, Rowling created an expansive universe that is — there’s no other word for it — enchanting. But one of the most magical things about the universe is probably the magic itself.

First of all, the spells that Rowling created often have really interesting origins for their names. For example, this fan theory on the origins of “avada kedavra” is pretty compelling. Second of all, the spells themselves are so interesting and diverse. The fact that Harry always chose a disarming spell over the killing spell? Iconic. The fact that Hermione used a confundus charm to help Ron get on the Quidditch team? Well, that made me root for those two that much more. For me, it was more interesting to examine the ways the characters used the spells than the spells themselves. But what about the spells themselves?

The characters spend years at Hogwarts learning exactly how to do magic, so we see plenty of the material they cover, from small charms to the dark arts they face later on in the books. From worst to best, here’s a ranking of some of the most iconic spells from the series.

17. Horcrux Curse

We don't know exactly how horcruxes are made, but we know this curse is so awful that J.K. Rowling wouldn't even describe it. It involves murder, and ends with a split soul, so this one easily wins for worst spell.

16. The Unforgivable Curses

Avada kedavra (the killing curse), the cruciatus curse (torture), and the imperius curse (used to control someone), are all unforgivable curses for a reason. Murder, torture, and complete body and mind control aren't exactly the kind of spells that made you want to live in the HP world.

15. Fidelius Charm

This charm, which allows one to hide a secret with a secret keeper, is a big risk. Obviously, some people can't be trusted (WORMTAIL). The make or break it aspect of this spell is choosing who's worthy of being a secret keeper, and who isn't.

14. Obliviate (The Memory Charm)

Though Hermione used this charm to protect her parents, proving that there can be good uses of Obliviate, overall it's a pretty scary spell. No one wants to lose their memory, and as Lockhart proved, this spell can be super dangerous if the wrong person is using it.

13. Petrificus Totalus (The Full Body-Bind Curse)

This spell (and other spells like it, such as Levicorpus) would probably be useful in some situations, but really students just use it to bully others. Sure, Hermione kind of had to use it on Neville so he wouldn't stop them from saving the Sorcerer's Stone (she didn't hesitate to use quite a few spells!), but mostly it's just used by Draco to bully people.

12. Bat-Bogey Hex

We don't really know what this hex does (though we know you wouldn't want Ginny hexing you with it), but judging from the name I'm guessing it turns someone's bogies into bats. Useful for enemies, not so fun if you're on the receiving end.

11. Wingardium Leviosa (Levitation Charm)

Can be helpful. Difficult for some people to say.

10. Lumos

Lighting your wand is useful, but then again we Muggles have flashlights on our phones, so it's not like this magic spell is anything too out of reach.

9. Alohamora

The spell to unlock things is sometimes useful, but it might also lead you into the lair of a three-headed dog.

8. Legilimens

This spell allows the wizard to look into someone's mind (unless that person blocks them with Occlumency). On one hand, it was always interesting to see into the memories of another person when this spell was used in the series. I would personally love to be able to read people's thoughts, so I could better understand them. On the other hand, I would NOT want it used on me.

7. Accio

The summoning charm seems pretty useful, and even helps Harry defeat a dragon in Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire. But it would be annoying if someone used it to steal your Weasley's Wizard Wheezes, so, there's good and bad there.

6. Expelliarmus

As Harry proved, sometimes you don't need a killing spell to go up against a dark wizard. He always preferred the disarming charm over Avada Kedavra.

5. Riddikulus

Snape. In Neville's gran's clothes. Yes.

4. Cheering Charm

This charm makes you laugh and feel happy. That's a charm I wouldn't mind being on the receiving end of, though it can't beat the feeling of true friendship.

3. Unbreakable Vow

Want to really test someone's loyalty? Ask them to make an unbreakable vow, aka the pinky promise of the wizarding world. Well, maybe it's a bit more drastic than that. Depending on how seriously you take your pinky promises.

2. Expecto Patronum

Not only does this charm produce a patronus which will protect you against dementors, it also takes the form of something important to you. Wouldn't you just love to know what shape your patronus would take?? Plus, it's tough to master, so the characters can feel a real sense of accomplishment if they're able to produce a patronus. Call me Hermione, but I think that makes it even cooler.

1. Pack

This spell packs your trunk. YOU WOULD NEVER HAVE TO SPEND FOREVER PACKING AGAIN. Game changer.

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