|Muggles' Guide to Harry Potter - Magic|
|First Appearance||Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone (though not identified until Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire)|
Avada Kedavra, also known as the Killing Curse, kills a person instantaneously and without injury. There is no countercurse for it, and only one person, Harry Potter, has ever survived it.
The Avada Kedavra curse is recognizable by the flash of green light and the rushing noise emitted from the caster's wand. Along with the Cruciatus Curse and the Imperius Curse, Avada Kedavra is considered to be one of the most terrible curses in the magical world, called the Unforgivable Curses; the use of any of the three on another witch or wizard is punishable by a life sentence in Azkaban. Avada Kedavra is an Aramaic phrase that means "I will destroy as I speak." Whether the words were chosen to be similar to the Muggle mock incantation "abra cadabra" is uncertain, but seems likely. It is also known by most wizards as Lord Voldemort's signature curse.
The Killing Curse is used numerous times by "evil" wizards, and very occasionally by "good" wizards:
- In Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, it is used, but not identified, by Voldemort against Frank Bryce. We are introduced to it in Defence Against the Dark Arts class by the false Alastor Moody, it is used by Wormtail, at Voldemort's instruction, to kill Cedric Diggory, and it is later used against Harry by the returned Voldemort, though in this instance it is blocked by the Priori Incantatem effect.
- In Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, it is used by Lord Voldemort against Albus Dumbledore, and blocked by Dumbledore's pet phoenix, Fawkes, in the climactic battle in the Ministry of Magic. While it is possible that Bellatrix Lestrange uses it against Sirius Black in that same battle, the specific curse Bellatrix uses is not named, and Harry's expectation that Sirius will appear on the other side of the arch indicates that it was some other, non-fatal curse that simply happened to push him through the Veil.
- In Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, it is used once by Bellatrix Lestrange to kill a fox, and once by Severus Snape against Albus Dumbledore.
- In Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, there is description of multiple "green flashes" during the climactic Battle of Hogwarts, which leads us to believe that it is used by numerous wizards on both sides of that battle, late in Harry's seventh year. It is also used numerous times by Voldemort as he pursues the Elder Wand, and in a fit of rage against his own followers when he hears of the theft of the Cup Horcrux from Bellatrix's vault. It is also used by Death Eaters during Harry's escape from Privet Drive, and by Voldemort against Harry in the Forbidden Forest. The spell also may have been used, though remaining unnamed, by Mrs. Weasley to kill Bellatrix Lestrange in a duel during the battle. It should be noted that it is highly unlikely that Molly would use an unforgivable curse, especially Avada Kedevra, as even a spell as simple as Expelliarmus could kill someone if it were used with enough force and directed toward the heart.
While it is not actually stated, the "green light" that Harry remembers in his earliest memories, and which is mentioned in the first three books, is almost certainly from Voldemort's failed attempt to use the Avada Kedavra curse against Harry. In Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, we see in Voldemort's memory that he used it against Harry's father, mother, and finally against Harry himself.
In Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, we are told that when Barty Crouch was the head of the Auror department, Aurors were authorized to use deadly force against Death Eaters. One must assume that this occasionally took the form of the Avada Kedavra curse.
- How did Harry Potter alone survive the Avada Kedavra?
- Did Lord Voldemort survive the curse when it backfired on him, and what state of life did he come into if he did?
It is perhaps important that Harry never uses this curse himself, despite using the other two Unforgivable Curses. Voldemort's demise is caused by his own use of the curse against Harry, and the rebound of that curse.