They are Unforgivable if you are caught using them on a human...but only if you are caught. I'm not saying that wizards murder people at the blink of an eye, I am asking two subquestions here (I'm not sure if these should be in the same question):

  1. In daily life, do people use these on objects or practice them in the mirror or anything?

  2. Is it common for criminals and Dark Magic users to use them so much, or is that just Voldemort?

  • It wasn't just Voldemort since the death eaters also used them too. I wouldn't fancy practicing them in the mirror in case once happened to rebound!! Prof Moody also used them during his DADA lesson too.
    – Scanner
    Mar 30, 2016 at 18:07
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    In the UK they probably don't practice, relying on the Aurors to come save them. In the US, the "average" wizard probably owns 3-5 wands with one dedicated to each of the unforgiveables and have special "ranges" to go practice.
    – Skooba
    Mar 30, 2016 at 18:23
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    @Skooba Best. Comment. Ever.
    – Rand al'Thor
    Mar 30, 2016 at 20:11
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    @Skooba Avada Kedavra can work on inanimate objects, so you could build a "range", but what about the other two unforgivable curses? You'd need to use animals, if not humans... I wonder what the PETA would say.
    – A. Darwin
    Apr 1, 2016 at 8:41
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    @Flooks That is awesome! Welcome to SFF... and down the rabbit hole you will go!
    – Skooba
    Apr 4, 2016 at 10:58

1 Answer 1


How common? Very common +

Every Unforgivable curse has been used multiple times in the books, so mostly over the course of seven years, by Death Eaters, Dark Wizards, and even the protagonists. The Harry Potter wiki has a long list for each of the three curses:

Cruciatus Curse:

  • Gellert Grindlewald: This Dark Wizard predated Voldemort by decades, and was already familiar with the Cruciatus curse when he was barely out of school, when he used it against Aberforth Dumbledore.
  • Dolores Umbridge, while not a Death Eater, was arguably a Dark Witch. She showed willingness to employ the Cruciatus Curse against Harry in order to "loosen his tongue."
  • Bellatrix Lestrange: She employed the Cruciatus curse against Hermione and Neville, along with possibly helping drive Frank and Alice Longbottom insane through prolonged torture.
  • Rabastan Lestrange and Antonin Dolohov also participated in the torture of the Longbottoms.
  • Bartemius Crouch Jr. also helped torture the Longbottoms, along with bewitching Viktor Krum into using the Cruciatus curse on Cedric Diggory.
  • Draco Malfoy: He tortured Rowle as punishment for failing to capture Harry Potter.
  • Many other Death Eaters used this curse on various occasions, including Alecto and Amycus Carrow.
  • Harry Potter employed the Cruciatus curse against Amycus Carrow. He also attempted to use it against Bellatrix Lestrange.

Imperius Curse:

This one is amusing, because numerous sympathetic characters have employed it, albeit usually under exigent circumstances:

  • Harry Potter used it on the goblin Bogrod and the Death Eater Travers in order to break into Gringotts.
  • Minerva McGonagall employed it against Amycus Carrow.

Various Death Eaters has of course used this curse, among them Yaxley and Wormtail.

Bartemius Crouch Sr. also used the Imperius Curse, in order to keep his son under control.

Avada Kedavra:

This is the go-to offensive spell for the Death Eaters. It has certainly been used by Peter Pettigrew, Bellatrix Lestrange, Thorfinn Rowle, Severus Snape, Vincent Crabbe, Bartemius Crouch, and Antonin Dolohov.

We can, however, assume that Avada Kedavra is most likely the curse meant when "a jet of green light" flies over Harry's head or something similar. In this case, the Death Eaters must be throwing Killing Curses around like water.

Needless to say, Lord Voldemort has used all three Unforgivable Curses multiple times.

Various Aurors also likely employed these curses under Bartemius Crouch Sr.

We can also suppose that these curses were at least moderately common before Voldemort's time, since they were made unforgivable in 1717.

+At least among Dark Wizards

Do people practice them?

I haven't seen anything in canon indicating whether ordinary wizards, or even Aurors or Order members, practice these spells. I am aware of one particular situation where people did practice the Unforgivable Curses, and not in front of a mirror. Perhaps at Durmstrang they did something closer to what you imagine:

“Amycus, the bloke, he teaches what used to be Defense Against the Dark Arts, except now it’s just Dark Arts. We’re supposed to practice the Cruciatus Curse on people who’ve earned detentions—”

—Neville Longbottom, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows

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    So basically, they are very common among Death Eaters and the order?
    – CHEESE
    Mar 31, 2016 at 10:42
  • I'm pretty sure that Mrs. Weasley used avada kedavra to kill Bellatrix in Deathly Hallows Part 2 as well.
    – Derek
    Apr 2, 2016 at 6:38
  • I suspect so, but I couldn't find any proof. The narrative merely describes it as a "curse." Maybe JKR said something.
    – Adamant
    Apr 2, 2016 at 6:44

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