Suppose you find out that an employee of the Ministry is acting under the Imperius Curse from a Death Eater. Suppose that they aren't strong of will, so they can't fight the curse on their own (like Barty Crouch Sr. eventually did). How much can you do to get the curse off him?

Is there an easy-to-cast countercurse that removes all the effects and that Ministry employees routinely cast on each other in troubled times just in case, or a magical curtain of water in the Ministry with a similar effect? Or is it completely hopeless so all you can do is subdue that wizard and watch him or her suffer? Something in between?

  • Sadly I don't think there is any canon information about this at the moment. I suppose you could restrain the imperiused person until the curse wears off so that they are physically unable to act upon it and, more importantly, the wizard or witch who cast the curse in the first place can't renew it. – Pwassonne Feb 10 '16 at 8:45
  • When Voldemort failed to kill Harry, and instead had his body blown apart, everybody who had been under his Imperius curse broke out of it, so I'd guess that killing the person who cast it would work (even if it wouldn't necessarily be entertained as a valid option). – Anthony Grist Feb 10 '16 at 11:02
  • I guess a curse breaker could do it. – user68762 Aug 1 '16 at 8:40
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    I wonder what happens if an imperius is cast on someone who's already under the curse by a diff wizard – user68762 Aug 1 '16 at 8:54

Probably not very easily

Of all the times the Imperius Curse was cast in canon, the only time it seems to have been broken by magic was during Harry, Hermione and Ron's Gringotts break-in. This was done by the Thief's Downfall, a waterfall that removes enchantment.

“The Thief’s Downfall!” said Griphook, clambering to his feet and looking back the deluge onto the tracks, which, Harry knew now, had been more than water. “It washes away all enchantment, all magical concealment! They know there are imposers in Gringotts, they have set off defenses against us!”

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows

However, it is highly unlikely that such magic is widely available. First, Voldemort could not have Imperiused so many Ministry employees if such protections were in place. Second, the animosity between wizards and goblins is very high, with wizards often denying goblins rights, and goblins in turn keeping their magic secret. It seems likely that the the Thief's Downfall was an enchantment known only to the goblins, and of which witches and wizards generally had no knowledge (indeed, since goblins have a different brand of magic, perhaps wizards could not reproduce it).

We also know that the Imperius Curse can be broken through one's own strength of will, as Harry did, for example.

In all other cases, the Imperius Curse seems either to have worn off, or to have ended with the death of its caster, or been lifted voluntarily. It is also possible that severe mental or magical trauma can life the curse. For example, the Unspeakable Bode was placed under the Imperius Curse in Order of the Phoenix, but was later killed by Death Eaters to keep him silent, indicating that the curse was no longer active (clearly, it was not removed, since it was not even noticed). It might have worn off, or been broken by the mental damage caused by the spells on the prophecy. Something similar is certainly possible with Memory Charms, which can be broken by torture.

Needless to say, extensive torture is probably not considered an acceptable method of keeping the Ministry Imperius-free.

There is no evidence that safe, widely available magic can reverse the effects of the curse.


In Gringotts there is the Thief's Downfall which removes all enchantments including the Imperius curse. There is no canon info on this about the Ministry but I strongly suspect they have a similar mechanic somewhere (they'd be pretty damn stupid if they didn't).

I'll actually have to edit that in. The Ministry was indeed incredibly stupid so I won't rule it out anymore that they don't have such a mechanic but it is available in the Potterverse.

  • Because the Ministry didn't prove themselves to be pretty damn stupid at all during the books... Considering the fact that Voldemort had Imperiused Ministry workers under his control (or the control of his Death Eaters) in Deathly Hallows, before the Ministry itself had actually been taken over by him, I'd say they don't. – Anthony Grist Feb 10 '16 at 10:20

Likely not much - the Dark Lord successfully Imperiused officials.

It doesn’t seem like much can be done to free someone from the Imperius Curse. The Dark Lord successfully Imperiused officials in the Ministry, for example Pius Thicknesse. Thicknesse remained under the Imperius Curse, so nothing in the Ministry automatically removed it, like the Thief’s Downfall did in Gringotts.

“Once again, all heads turned. Yaxley squared his shoulders. ‘My Lord, I have good news on that score. I have – with difficulty, and after great effort – succeeded in placing an Imperius Curse upon Pius Thicknesse.”
- Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Chapter 11 (The Bribe)

The Order of the Phoenix knew that Thicknesse was under the Imperius Curse, but he remained that way despite the Order’s knowledge.

“The coup has been smooth and virtually silent,’ said Lupin. ‘The official version of Scrimgeour’s murder is that he resigned; he has been replaced by Pius Thicknesse, who is under the Imperius Curse.”
- Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Chapter 11 (The Bribe)

Therefore, it seems fairly likely that no one in the Order could easily free someone from the Imperius Curse - otherwise it seems likely that one of them would have tried, especially ones in the Ministry like Arthur Weasley, who’d be close to the Imperiused officials.

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