Why was the scar that Harry received from the Avada Kedavra spell lightning shaped? Is there any reason why a death spell that was blocked by

A mother's sacrifice

would leave a scar specifically in the shape of a lighting bolt?

In-universe answer, please.

  • 7
    because voldemort is electrifying
    – Himarm
    Commented Mar 8, 2016 at 1:13
  • 6
    Because it’s a cool shape. I have a vague idea that Rowling has actually said this—there was no particular reason, other than to make it unique, stand out, and be something that could be referenced throughout the books. Can’t remember where I saw/heard her say that, though. Commented Mar 8, 2016 at 2:55
  • The hand movement of Avada Kedavra as shown by the highly deceitful source is in the shape of lightning, maybe the reason.
    – axelonet
    Commented Mar 8, 2016 at 4:59

2 Answers 2


Pottermore (used to) say that the wand movement for Avada Kedavra is a lightning bolt

In a previous iteration of Pottermore, it was possible to view the wand movements that are required to cast various spells. When you viewed the spell for the Killing Curse (Avada Kedavra), the wand movement was shown to be the following:

Killing Curse wand movement

However, Pottermore does not show hand movements for spells any more. Given the fact that it is no longer part of Pottermore, and there is no supporting evidence from the books or movies, its canonicity is ambiguous.

  • Which spellbook was Avada Kedavra in?
    – ibid
    Commented Mar 8, 2016 at 8:20
  • 3
    Also, IIRC the Pottermore spell movements weren't created by Rowling.
    – ibid
    Commented Mar 8, 2016 at 8:39
  • 1
    Seems like a chicken or the egg situation. Was that wand movement chosen because that was the shape of Harry's scar? Still, probably the closest we can get to a canon answer without further information released.
    – Skooba
    Commented May 30, 2018 at 12:51
  • 1
    @Skooba Out of universe, it is indeed a chicken or the egg problem, although I strongly suspect that Rowling picked the scar shape first and the wand movement on the previous Pottermore was created later, and by someone else if ibid is correct. In-universe, it's clearly a case of the spell causing the scar (assuming that the above is indeed canon). Commented May 30, 2018 at 13:16
  • @Thunderforge - See here. This image was never used on any of Pottermore's iterations. It's the equivalent of unused art found in the files of a video game.
    – ibid
    Commented Jul 2, 2021 at 6:44

There was no in-universe reasoning. Rowling thinks this is a plausible shape for scars.

When asked about the shape, Rowling said that she wanted something distinctive but still plausible.

I gave him a scar and in a prominent place so other people would recognize him. It is almost like being the chosen one, or the cursed one, in a sense. Someone tried to kill him; that's how he got it.
I chose the lightning bolt because it was the most plausible shape for a distinctive scar. As you know, the scar has certain powers, and it gives Harry warnings. I can't say more than that, but there is more to say.
Bolger, Kaitlin and J.T. Sprague. "J.K. Rowling answers a few kid questions," Houston Chronicle (conference call), March 20, 2001.

I interpret this to mean that in-universe it was just a scar and therefore kept to the shape that a plausible scar could keep to. Out-of-universe, Rowling picked the most distinct shape she thought could happen from a scar, in order that Harry would be recognized by it. But there was no in-universe reason for the shape.

It's worth noting that the original Pottermore developers had toyed with the idea of showing the avada kedavra wand movement to be in this same shape, presumably implying that the scar followed the wand movement, however this never actually ended up being used on Pottermore, and so may have never been approved. In any event there's no linkage of the idea to JK Rowling.


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