When Dolores Umbridge is carried off by the centaurs in the Order of the Phoenix and returns later, the reader is left with the task of piecing together what exactly happened while she was out there.

Whatever it was, she was clearly very shaken by the ordeal.

Cracked.com suggests some sort of sexual misconduct happened on the part of the centaurs:

Neither of them make an effort to save Umbridge. Potter gets in a witty, James Bond-esque quip as she's being dragged away, and Hermione seems satisfied that mass horse rape is a fitting punishment. We like to think that on the way back to school, Harry asked "So what do you suppose those centaurs are going to do to the professor?" and that Hermione casually described to him how Umbridge would almost certainly be brutally violated by equinely endowed inter-species rapists. And that was the day Harry learned that you do not mess with Hermione Granger.

While Cracked, at the very least, makes its living off of being purposefully incendiary, there are multiple references in mythology of this sexually deviant behavior in centaurs.

E.g. Lapith & Nessus

What might have happened to her? Has J.K. Rowling discussed this "off-screen" moment in the series?

  • 13
    Is cracked.com canon? :) Commented Apr 25, 2012 at 5:23
  • 8
    I always hoped the centaurs handed Umbridge a shovel and made her follow the parade. Commented Apr 25, 2012 at 15:42
  • 3
    Although I definitely wouldn't call Cracked "canon", I do believe they actually cite an interview with JKR where she at least implies they did some...unpleasant... things to Umbridge
    – Kevin
    Commented Apr 25, 2012 at 18:36
  • 4
    The point they make is JKR would have had to have know about that aspect of centaur lore. They go on to say that Hermione would have definitely known about it.
    – magzalez
    Commented Apr 25, 2012 at 18:39
  • 1
    @b_jonas The (completely awful) Winnetou stories are not by Mark Twain, but by Karl May.
    – SQB
    Commented Apr 7, 2014 at 11:52

4 Answers 4


It appears she was just threatened and was possibly going to be beaten or tortured. She probably was taking to court and before they could deliver the judgement Dumbledore arrived.

Umbridge was ultimately rescued by Dumbledore, although she was apparently left with a significant fear of centaurs afterwards, reacting violently at even the sound of hoof-beats. How Dumbledore managed to rescue her from the human-hating centaurs without suffering any injury himself remained a mystery, though it is likely that centaurs had respect for Albus, based on their salute at his funeral.

When she was rescued and in the Deathly Hallows she never really showed signs of sexual trauma on her physical or mental person.

The centaurs consider themselves better than humans(which is why they were angered when Firenze let Harry ride on his back). They were probably planning on treating her like they were going to treat Harry and Hermione. They would have probably considered themselves better than humans, so doing anything other than beating or torturing her would be unlikely.

As the centaurs turned on the children, Hermione protested, saying that centaurs did not hurt foals (young humans) and that they meant no harm, unlike Umbridge, and were not from the Ministry of Magic like her. Hermione accidentally insulted the centaurs by saying that they had wanted the centaurs to drive Umbridge off for them, as the centaurs took this as wizards thinking that centaurs existed to do their bidding.

The centaurs, deciding that they were arrogant wizards as well and that Harry was not a foal but nearing manhood, prepared to attack them but then Grawp, Rubeus Hagrid's Giant half-brother, arrived. The centaurs attacked him instead, shooting him with arrows in the face. Grawp chased away the centaurs, howling with pain, as blood from his face poured down on Harry and Hermione.

I agree that she was probably protected from the worse, because Hogwarts was associated with Dumbledore (and they respected Dumbledore) and because Grawp was causing trouble.

Things that might have happened to her.

  1. She could have had what happened they threatened to do to Harry and Hermione. But nothing that violates their code.

  2. Whatever they did was probably was interfered with by Grawp (at least slightly)and by the fact that they respect Dumbledore and the fact that they consider Centaurs better than humans, it probably wasn't sexual.

    Over the plunging, many-coloured backs and heads of the centaurs Harry saw Umbridge being borne away through the trees by Bane, still screaming nonstop; her voice grew fainter and fainter until they could no longer hear it over the trampling of hooves surrounding them.

    —Description of Dolores Umbridge being dragged away by the centaurs in Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix by J.K. Rowling

People in this discussion seem to think that what happened to her was sexual, because of the mythology behind Centaurs. I however think that the mythology differs from books and other literature and the centaurs obviously don't like dealing with humans from what they did with Firenze (because he dealt with humans), they are bitter from the way they are treated.

My thoughts on the cracked article

  • Non-canon

    They didn't mention any canon references to Centaurs acting like this in any other HP literature. They even mentioned this: Also, they never mention the "brutal nature of Centaurs" from the novels or movies in general.

    Professor Umbridge was lying in a bed opposite them, gazing up at the ceiling .... Since she had returned to the castle she had not, as far as any of them knew, uttered a single word. Nobody really knew what was wrong with her, either. Her usually neat mousy hair was very untidy and there were still bits of twigs and leaves in it, but otherwise she seemed to be quite unscathed.

    Why would she look unscathed if someone much larger than her brutally did anything to her? The actor stands 5'0 ft tall and let's say that Umbridge does too. The Centaurs were much larger than her, she wouldn't look unscathed. She probably just laid on the ground and shrank away every time they came close or said her name(or threatened her).

  • Madame Pompfrey would have treated her for her wounds if anything exceptionally brutal had happened to her.

    Madam Pompfrey says she's just in shock,' whispered Hermione.

    Just in shock, means just a scare, in this case at least. Madame Pompfrey wouldn't be hiding somewhere if someone was hurt very badly, Pompfrey was angry at her, but she probably wouldn't have wished rape on her.

  • Most of the Centaur info was non-canon and from other sources(non-HP). That's like saying the vampires from Twilight are like the vampires from Dracula, Blade or a fanfiction someone wrote.

    Remember when the centaurs were threatening Harry and Hermione, did they ever mention that they would do anything remotely sexual? No.

  • 2
    But, why would Dumbledore rescue her at all?
    – user931
    Commented Dec 6, 2014 at 3:55
  • 4
    Wouldn't Umbridge being one of Hogwarts' employees combined with Dumbledore's personality explain this adequately? @SS-3.1415926535897932384626433
    – 11684
    Commented Jul 9, 2015 at 21:35
  • 11
    That’s a good point about Umbridge being “quite unscathed.” The main evidence appears to be that centaurs in Greek mythology are violent rapists, which is rather like supposing that Harry must be an immortal emissary of Eru because Gandalf is.
    – Adamant
    Commented Nov 7, 2016 at 1:27
  • 1
    Why wouldn't Dumbledore rescue her?? Out of everything you know about Dumbledore, is he the kind of person who would be "Meh. Whatevs." about any living creature being the victim of violence? As in, Harry's Dumbledore, not young "The Greater Good" Dumbledore. Commented Feb 8, 2018 at 5:42
  • 2
    Note that the "unscathed" remark is coming from Harry, not Madame Pomfrey. From this, I would infer that she didn't have visible wounds or dramatically visible broken bones, or any bandaging or other signs of wounds/injuries that might have been otherwise covered by her clothes. If she's wearing something with long sleeves, then things like bruises on her arms wouldn't be visible. Certainly, signs of violent sexual activity wouldn't be visible to passing visitors. Madame Pomfrey might have declined to get into specifics with two underage students when she said Umbridge was just in shock.
    – RDFozz
    Commented Sep 6, 2018 at 17:23

I also believe (but have no canon support for) that most of her trauma would have come from her believing the worst of Centaurs and fearing that, at any time, she WOULD be violated.

She despises and is fearful of all non-wizard races, believing the worst of all. She is the type to delude herself into honestly believing Muggles steal wands, that werewolves have no humanity in them, that half-giants are completely unintelligent brutes, and probably that she will be ravished by centaurs if they drag her into the forest.

She calls them "filthy half-breeds" and probably because she's read the worst of their reputations (which would equate to the tales that Cracked.com reference) she would completely believe that they would do every horrible rumored thing that she has heard.

As much as they would have wanted to do all sorts of horrible things to her, I believe that their logical nature would ultimately prevail, and despite their pride, the herd's leadership would know that assaulting or killing a Ministry of Magic official would be tantamount to a declaration of war with wizard-kind.

My theory would simply be that they kept her imprisoned as she was psychologically torturing herself into believing any passing centaur meant her death or ravishment and was waiting for a Ministry envoy to argue that their imprisonment and punishment should be allowed.

As Pomfrey says, she's "in shock." While she wouldn't likely tell children that a patient has been violated, if it were true, she would at least say she was "traumatized" if something actually happened to her physically.


Even if the myths about centaurs are taken as historical facts in the world of Harry Potter, saying that certain behaviours are deviant is making a human judgement about non-humans. Why couldn't whatever the centaurs did be perfectly normal for centaurs?

In any case, Umbridge, being a coward, could simply have been terrorized by the centaurs.
She doesn't seem to have been seriously physically injured, so maybe they just kept threatening her for several hours.

  • 2
    I wouldn't want to read about or be a part of any society/world where there wasn't some serious judgment passed on people/creatures who took part in such a thing. Either way, we have to look at their actions on a human through the eyes and judgements of humans, no?
    – magzalez
    Commented Apr 25, 2012 at 18:38
  • 1
    I imagine that they would have at least imprisoned her within some kind of crude cage after they did whatever they did to her. I mean, she was in there for hours before Dumbledore too-kindly rescued her. Commented Feb 5, 2014 at 15:11
  • 2
    My random speculation counts for naught but since the question is all about guesswork :) -- Being familiar with centaur myths when I read the book I figured that the same would be true with these centaurs: rape, namely. However, the centaur (centaurs?) are not stupid and I figured they wouldn't do such a thing with Dumbledore as Headmaster, not on his grounds to his employee. That, however, doesn't stop them expressing a willingness to do so and could easily terrify her with such talk: she could end up traumatised without being touched. warning: I am guessing.
    – Mac Cooper
    Commented May 7, 2014 at 19:42
  • @magzalez IRL a guy has been raped by a donkey, on camera. As far as I know the donkey was not punished, so not only did you read about such a universe, you live in one! sorry :)
    – Kevin
    Commented Nov 5, 2014 at 14:57
  • Cracked wasn't the first people to suggest this. The first instance of this idea that I recall came from dollymix.tv in 2007. dollymix.tv/2007/10/the_forgotten_rape_in_harry_po.html Commented Nov 6, 2014 at 17:54

By the looks of it they roughed her up, but I wouldn't think they would harm her.

Even though the centaurs are rather brazen creatures, I wouldn't imagine they're that bad even though she had it coming.

And no, Rowling has never discussed what happened, so it is up to our imagination.

  • 1
    Any reasons why you don't think they wouldn't harm her? They roughed up Firenze and it sounds like they would have killed him if Dumbledore wouldn't have intervened.
    – Dason
    Commented Apr 25, 2012 at 17:54
  • 1
    They're pretty clear in the books that they aren't the types to be messed with. In my opinion, it was understood they were quite dangerous.
    – magzalez
    Commented Apr 25, 2012 at 18:28
  • 1
    @Dason I think it's because even though they are violent, they aren't stupid. There's alot more wizards there (it seems) than centuars, so killing her would've probably pissed off the Ministry of Magic. Commented Apr 25, 2012 at 23:47
  • 2
    @Nata2haMayan2 Did anybody from the ministry even know she was in the forest? I doubt it would've ever come out that the centaurs did it if they just killed her and left her somewhere deep in the forest.
    – Kevin
    Commented Apr 11, 2016 at 13:41

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.