Obscuri (Obscuruses?) are described in the wiki as

the repressed energy of a child, known as an Obscurial, who is forced to repress their magical talent through physical or psychological abuse.

Usually this becomes a large black blob which kills the Obscurial and people near him/her. My question is--is this what happened with Ariana Dumbledore? She was obviously magical in some way, but her power was suppressed--everyone thought she was a Squib.

Aunt Muriel says of Kendra

Kendra died before Ariana — of what, nobody ever seemed sure

and Aberforth says this of Ariana:

“It destroyed her, what they did: She was never right again. She wouldn’t use magic, but she couldn’t get rid of it; it turned inward and drove her mad, it exploded out of her when she couldn’t control it, and at times she was strange and dangerous. But mostly she was sweet and scared and harmless."

It seems to me that what happened was that for some reason, Ariana became an Obscurial, and this power killed Kendra and later, herself. It maybe that this was why

Grindelwald was so interested in the Obscurus in the first place, since he witnessed her death.

  • 13
    Which also leads to the question, was Grindlewald attracted to Dumbledore's family because he could sense an Obscurus?
    – Valorum
    Commented Nov 27, 2016 at 19:10
  • 7
    And given that Grindewald was wearing a Hallows necklace, was he there to investigate the Hallows or to find an Obscurus.
    – Valorum
    Commented Nov 27, 2016 at 19:15
  • 15
    And given that Newt already had an Obscurus in his case, and was possibly working on Dumbledore's orders to track down the Obscurus in New York, "Was Newt hunting Obscuri?"
    – Valorum
    Commented Nov 27, 2016 at 19:21
  • 1
    @Valorum Do you plan on ever asking these?
    – CHEESE
    Commented Dec 8, 2016 at 12:57
  • 3
    @CHEESE - If someone was daft enough to ask them, I'd vote to close as "Future works" will undoubtedly answer them
    – Valorum
    Commented Dec 8, 2016 at 13:04

7 Answers 7


We have never come across the word Obscurial/Obscurus in Harry Potter. But here's what is said about Ariana.

"It destroyed her, what they did: She was never right again," Aberforth said. "She wouldn’t use magic, but she couldn’t get rid of it; it turned inward and drove her mad, it exploded out of her when she couldn’t control it, and at times she was strange and dangerous. But mostly she was sweet and scared and harmless."

"[If] the Ministry had known what Ariana had become, she’d have been locked up in St. Mungo’s for good. They’d have seen her as a serious threat to the International Statute of Secrecy, unbalanced like she was, with magic exploding out of her at moments when she couldn’t keep it in any longer."

Unless we hear it from the horses mouth (JKR), we cant be 100% sure, but here are some points about Ariana that resonate with the description of an Obscurus:

  • the repressed energy of a child? Yes
  • forced to repress their magical talent through physical or psychological abuse? Yes. She forcefully stopped herself from using magic
  • it turned inward and drove her mad
  • it exploded out of her
  • [she] couldn’t control it
  • if the Ministry had known what Ariana had become, she’d have been locked up in St. Mungo’s
  • serious threat to the International Statute of Secrecy
  • with magic exploding out of her

If you look at all of these points, she looks like a classic example of an Obscurus, from what we know about Credence or the little girl from Sudan. It looks very much like Ariana was an Obscurus.

On a side note, I feel this is what drove Grindelwald towards Dumbledore apart from the Hallows.

  • And according to JKR, the five movies will end with Dumbledore and Grindelwald's duel, right? And Ariana is dead before that, so I'm guessing that the story of Ariana will as well be included in the five movies. Our questions about Ariana being an Obscurus will be confirmed then.
    – ur_Auror
    Commented Aug 31, 2017 at 9:48

Yes (probably).

Toward the end of Inside the Magic: The Making of Fantastic Beasts we have the following snippet of information from David Yates, the film's director.

‘It’s a manifestation of Dark magic,’ explains Yates. ‘It’s really a wonderful idea that Jo came up with. When a young child is prohibited from developing their magic in a healthy, organic way, then this dark energy can develop, and the dark energy can suddenly get out of control and wreak havoc.’

The real story, he says, is that for all the fantastic beasts disrupting the city, the most dangerous one exists within. ‘A beast that has been created in ways that feels sadly familiar.’

Since there's really no other instance in Harry Potter or Fantastic beasts where someone has suppressed their magical ability (aside from Ariana Dumbledore) it seems reasonably obvious that this is what he's referring to, albeit somewhat cryptically.



In Fantastic Beasts: The Secrets of Dumbledore, Albus tells Newt that his sister was an obscurial, while they both look at her painting in the Hog's Head.

Phoenix ash. The bird comes to him because he's dying, Newt. I know the signs. You see, my sister was an Obscurial. And like Credence she never learned to express her magic. By the time it grew dark it had begun to poison her. Worst of all, none of us were capable of easing her pain.

Shortly after the first movie came out there were signs of Rowling acknowledging this question but deliberately not addressing for fear of spoiling the later movies. So this was likely the idea from movie one, and not just a retcon for movie three.

  • LOL nice job updating with the new movie. But why almost completely eradicate the old answer?
    – BCLC
    Commented May 24, 2022 at 1:05
  • 1
    @BCLC - Old answer was outdated now. The quotes in it were only really worth including in absence of anything else.
    – ibid
    Commented May 24, 2022 at 2:16

I agree that all the signs point to it. However, in the movie, everyone appears convinced that an Obscurial would not be over the age of 10 and it is indicated that the older Credence must be incredibly powerful to have survived so long.

Had Ariana been an Obscurial, Grindelwald should have been less certain of the age of his target. Instead, he explicitly tells Credence to look for a younger child and appears genuinely surprised when he reveals his power.

Furthermore, it appears from the movie that killing an older Obscurus requires a concentrated and sustained effort by multiple adult wizards. This is inconsistent with Ariana's quick and accidental death.

Still an interesting idea!

  • 4
    Do we know exactely how old Ariana was at the time of her death ? If she was indeed much older than 10 then it's the best objection to her being an obscurial... Her quick death isn't however. In the movie, it is said that the obscurus will inevitably end up killing the obscurial, but nothing is said as to how or how quick. So the fact that it exploded one last time and killed her would on the contrary be plausible...
    – Cartolin
    Commented Nov 30, 2016 at 9:13
  • 4
    Ariana died in the fight between Dumbledore and Grindelwald. Since nobody knows who casted the spell that killed her, could it be possible that she was struck by multiple spells? And as for her age: I believe Newt states that there are no documented cases of an Obscurial living past the age of 10. Ariana was kept away from the public and the ministry and is therefore not documented.
    – Iarwain
    Commented Dec 20, 2016 at 16:02

As mentioned, there is strong evidence to suggest that she was, however we do not know yet. J.K. Rowling has said some questions will not be answered prior to the next movies, so we probably have to just wait and see:

I'm being asked so many good questions about story & characters in [hashtag]FantasticBeasts. If I can't answer, it's bc we have 4 movies to go!

J.K.'s tweet

Since she has also not answered a few dozen tweets explicitly asking this question, I think we must assume she is going to leave us to learn in one of the upcoming movies.


It is not specifically stated in the books that Ariana Dumbledore was an Obscurial, but the description Aberforth provided to Harry about her fits the description of an Obscurial perfectly.

"It destroyed her, what they did: She was never right again. She wouldn't use magic, but she couldn't get rid of it; it turned inward and drove her mad, it exploded out of her when she couldn't control it, and at times she was strange and dangerous. But mostly she was sweet and scared and harmless." —Aberforth Dumbledore, Harry Potter and The Deathly Hallows

Description of an Obscurial:

When a magical child is forced to repress their talent through physical or psychological abuse, they develop a parasitical magical force inside of them called an Obscurus, resulting from their strong emotions of distress.

An Obscurial may lose control when they reach their emotional and mental breaking point, releasing their Obscurus as an invisible (or nearly invisible) destructive wind.


Ariana (possibly) became an Obscurial due to the attack by some Muggle boys who saw her practising magic when she was six years old. This led her to suppressing her magic and (possibly) developing an Obscurus.

This also leads to other questions which I shouldn't answer as no one asked them, but I will anyway, because you can never have too much information.

Why wasn't Harry Potter an Obscurial?

He seemed like the perfect candidate. Emotionally and mentally abused by his relatives because of what he was.


On her official website F.A.Q., author J. K. Rowling answered: "An Obscurus is developed under very specific conditions: trauma associated with the use of magic, internalised hatred of one’s own magic and a conscious attempt to suppress it. The Dursleys were too frightened of magic ever to acknowledge its existence to Harry. While Vernon and Petunia had a confused hope that if they were nasty enough to Harry his strange abilities might somehow evaporate, they never taught him to be ashamed or afraid of magic. Even when he was scolded for ‘making things happen’, he didn’t make any attempt to suppress his true nature, nor did he ever imagine that he had the power to do so."

But anyway, back to Ariana.

Yes, it is entirely possible that she was an Obscurial and maybe the reason why J.K. Rowling hasn't confirmed this is because it has something to do with the plot of the next Fantastic Beasts.

In fact, the only real evidence against this theory is how old Ariana was when she died. 14. Obscurials generally live to the age of ten before the Obscurus bursts out of them, killing them in the process, but, thanks to Fantastic Beasts, we now know that this isn't always the case in the form of Credence Barebone.

Speaking of her dying, we don't quite know how she died except that it was in a duel between Albus Dumbledore and Gellert Grindelwald. The description I could find was:

A three-way duel broke out between him, Albus, and Aberforth. Ariana, aged about 14 at the time and unable to control her magic, tried to stop it, and was inadvertently killed; it was never known which of the three wizards was directly responsible for her death.”

(Source: https://www.quora.com/How-did-Ariana-Dumbledore-died)

It is plausible that the magic she could not control was due to the Obscurus inside her, which knocked the two boys of course as they cast the killing curse. The curse, instead of hitting the other, hit Ariana instead, and she was killed.

So, in conclusion, it is highly likely that Ariana was an Obscurial.


Honestly I believe Ariana was an Obscurial. However I believe that the reason she didn't completely go out of control nearly as much "other" Obscurials is because of Aberforth. He was like her rock per se. Aberforth took great care of Ariana which is why I think she lived as long as she did.

  • If you could add some quotes (I remember there are quite a few quotes that could support you), it would make a stronger answer. Commented Dec 13, 2016 at 6:13

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