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The 10 Best and Most Iconic Harry Potter Spells

Martha Williams | Chief Editor
Published: 2023.01.27 Updated: 2023.01.27

Harry Potter's world is full of spells, but some are more iconic than others. Somewhere out there, a bunch of people are still waiting for their Hogwarts acceptance letters to be delivered. That is the kind of impact that J.K. Rowling's Harry Potter book series has generated. The worldwide phenomenon which centers on a British boy who attends a school for wizards enchanted legions of readers with its unforgettable characters, riveting narrative, engrossing world, and, of course, a wondrous system of magic spells.

Every fan has doubtless goofed around by themselves or with friends waving sticks or twigs and reciting those words and expressions derived from Latin and whatever other languages that Rowling could scavenge to create the spells used by Harry and the other inhabitants of her novels that we all wish were real. The magic in Harry Potter covers a multitude of purposes, from completing mundane housework to self-defense to eliminating one's enemies with extreme prejudice, typically accomplished with a wand and some kind of incantation. Among the numerous spells of this world, some are naturally more powerful than others.

1. Expelliarmus

Harry Potter casting Expelliarmus

The Disarming Charm, as the name implies, enables the user to disarm another wizard or witch in a duel by forcing their wand out of their hand. With enough power behind it, the spell could also knock an opponent off their feet and send them flying.

This charm was first demonstrated by Hogwarts professor Severus Snape during a mock duel. It has since become the signature spell of Harry's, used by him multiple times across the books and movies, most famously as his main dueling move against his archenemy, Lord Voldemort.

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2. Avada Kedavra

Voldemort casting Avada Kedavra

As silly as the incantation sounds, this spell is no laughing matter. One of the three Unforgivable Curses of the Wizarding World, the aptly designated Killing Curse causes instantaneous death to its target and is easily recognized by its distinctive green light. There is no way to counter or defend against it, except through the magic generated by sacrificial love, which protected Harry Potter from the curse as an infant.

This spell is the favored one of Lord Voldemort. With it, he has claimed the lives of countless victims over the course of his long and infamous career as the most dangerous and feared Dark Wizard who ever lived.

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3. Expecto Patronum

Luna Lovegood casting a Patronus

In the magical realm of Harry Potter, there exist wraithlike creatures called Dementors that feed off the positive emotions of humans and, at worst, can siphon their very souls. The only known defense against them is the Patronus Charm, which conjures a protective spirit-like entity that, at its strongest, takes the form of an animal meant to be reflective of the caster's innermost self and deepest feelings. The spell draws strength from the user's happiest memories and is extremely difficult to perform.

A major plot thread of the third book, The Prisoner of Azkaban, involved Harry Potter learning to master this advanced spell. Once he did, it served as an early indicator of his prodigious magical talent, and he would go on to teach his friends and fellow students how to cast the charm to prepare them for the dangers that lay ahead.

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4. Wingardium Leviosa

Hermione and Ron in class learning the Levitation Charm

Making things float is a standard magical power in any fantasy universe. Harry Potter is no exception, with Harry and his friends having to learn the Levitation Charm in their first year at Hogwarts.

A simple spell, but also one of great significance in the series due to its role in establishing the close and enduring friendship between the main characters. At the beginning, Ron Weasley is frustrated by his difficulty in grasping the charm, while the young genius Hermione Granger breezes through the lesson and haughtily tries to tutor Ron, much to his further annoyance. Later, when Hermione is attacked by a mountain troll, Harry and Ron rush to help her, with the latter ultimately defeating the monster using the spell and Hermione's advice.

5. Petrificus Totalus

Neville Longbottom under the effects of the Full Body Bind Curse

Also known as the Full Body-Bind Curse, this spell causes temporary paralysis in whoever should fall prey to it. Under its effects, the victim's arms and legs snap together, and their petrified body collapses, completely frozen stiff for an unspecified period of time while still retaining consciousness and certain sensory function like eye movement.

This is a fairly basic form of combat magic that wizards and witches could use to immobilize opponents in battle, but it has nevertheless been shown to be a generally effective spell for the many heroes and villains of the franchise.

6. Obliviate

Gilderoy Lockhart accidentally casting Obliviate on his own memories.

The magical community of Harry Potter relies on secrecy to protect themselves from the non-magical society of Muggles and to maintain peace between both worlds. As such, the Memory or Forgetfulness Charm is an invaluable asset that allows wizards and witches to erase memories of things, people, and events that they do not want to remain known.

However, this powerful spell could also just as easily be used for sinister intent. A notable example of this is how the narcissistic Gilderoy Lockhart abused his skill with memory charms to fraudulently paint himself as a wizard of remarkable accomplishments. Unfortunately for him, his final attempt at cowardly deception ended with the accidental erasure of all of his own memories while using Ron Weasley's broken wand.

7. Riddikulus

A Boggart of Severus Snape being affected by Riddikulus

As far as pests that creep around homes go, ordinary people usually just have to deal with spiders, cockroaches, and the occasional stray animal. Wizardkind has Boggarts to worry about. These beings are shape-shifters that transform into a person's worst fear when confronted. You cannot get rid of them with pesticide or brooms. Instead, you need a wand, some humorous imagination, and the magic word "Riddikulus".

The Boggart-Banishing Spell forces a Boggart to morph into something that is amusing to the user, thus depriving it of its frightening power over them. It is an ingenious concept that Harry Potter has embraced: To vanquish fear using laughter.

8. Accio

Harry Potter using the Summoning Charm to get the portkey in Goblet of Fire

Ever needed something desperately at a particular moment, but it was just out of reach? Of course, you have. Well, the wizards and witches of Harry Potter have an elegant solution to that problem with the Summoning Charm. This spell enables one to call upon objects from virtually anywhere and have them brought to the caster's current location.

Harry Potter himself was saved by this charm at key points in the fourth book, The Goblet of Fire, and he continued to make good use of it in later exploits. Several other characters, from Hogwarts students to well-known figures in the Wizarding World, have also benefited from this incredibly useful spell.

9. Sectumsempra

Snape discovers that Harry has injured Draco using Sectumsempra

In the sixth book, The Half-Blood Prince, Harry acquires a secondhand textbook that contains extra notes written by someone known only as the "Half-Blood Prince". Among the scribblings is the spell "Sectumsempra", which is marked as being reserved for enemies, but no details of its actual effects are given. When Harry engages in a fight with his rival, Draco Malfoy, he casts Sectumsempra on him, and discovers that it causes severe bleeding and lacerations on Draco's body.

During the novel's climax, it is revealed that Severus Snape is the Half-Blood Prince and originator of this malicious curse. Although not a frequently used spell, it is hauntingly unforgettable due to the mystery surrounding it, the shocking payoff and the peek it offered into the psyche of the enigmatic Snape.

10. Lumos

Harry Potter and Dumbledore searching a house with illuminated wands.

Who needs a flashlight when you have a magic wand that lights up? OK, so maybe it is not that much different from a regular torch, but a wand is still cooler and does not need batteries. The Wand-Lighting Charm is an ever-handy spell that turns the tip of a wizard or witch's greatest tool into a robust source of illumination for seeing in the dark, revealing that which is hidden and driving away threats that cower before the light.

Certainly not as awe-inspiring as other Harry Potter spells, but this charm and its incantation are firmly set in the franchise's iconography, serving as a ubiquitous part of the wizard's bag of tricks and as a symbol of even the tiniest light's ability to overcome the vast darkness.

How to Download Harry Potter Movies for Offline Viewing?

HBO Max, like a number of other streaming services, allows you to download Harry Potter movies for offline watching. However, the built-in download functionality has a few limitations that may be bothersome. Your downloads have an expiration date and will not stay with you for long. They are also not transferable or shareable with other devices or platforms. Aside from that, the download functionality is not available on all titles. Because of these constraints, it is a good idea to hunt for a third-party downloader for HBO Max.
In our opinion, the HBO Max downloader is one of the greatest options for downloading your favorite HBO Max programs. It allows you to download content from both HBO Max and HBO Now at the same time. The titles may be downloaded in excellent resolution, and you can expect to see the entertainment in 1080p. The batch mode download, combined with quicker download speeds, can be extremely beneficial. The downloader's built-in browser should be another terrific alternative that you will like using.

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