Often, in the books, it is stated that intent plays a big part in the effect an unforgivable curse will have. You have to really mean it in order for the spell to have the desired outcome. For instance when Harry used it on Bellatrix at the ministry, it had very little effect, which prompted her to say:

'Never used an Unforgivable Curse before, have you, boy?’ she yelled. She had abandoned her baby voice now. ‘You need to mean them, Potter! You need to really want to cause pain – to enjoy it – righteous anger won’t hurt me for long – I’ll show you how it is done, shall I? I’ll give you a lesson'

Are there other spells beside the Unforgivable Curses that have this kind of limitation?


1 Answer 1


Apparition/Disapparition is the first thing that comes to mind. It requires the three D's: Destination, Determination, and Deliberation.

Borrowing this quote from Vishvesh, sourced from the books:

He waved his wand. Old-fashioned wooden hoops instantly appeared on the floor in from of every student.

“The important things to remember when Apparating are the three D’s!” said Twycross. “Destination, Determination, Deliberation!

“Step one: fix your mind firmly upon the desired destination,” said Twycross. “In this case, the interior of your hoop. Kindly concentrate upon that destination now.”

“Step two,” said Twycross, “focus your determination to occupy the visualised space! Let your yearning to enter it flood from your mind to every particle of your body! “

“Step three,” called Twycross, “only when I give the command... turn on the spot, feeling your way into nothingness, moving with deliberation. On my command, now... one —”

Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, Chapter 18, Birthday Surprises

Another one that comes to mind is the Patronus Charm, which requires a particularly strong happy memory and intent for the desired outcome:

Harry Potter: “And how do you conjure it?”

Remus Lupin: “With an incantation, which will work only if you are concentrating, with all your might, on a single, very happy memory.”

Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban

As you mentioned in the comments below, Riddikulus is also a candidate in that it is directed towards a specific target, but the requirement seems along the lines of what it takes to cast Expecto Patronum.

So it does seem that there are other spells that very much require strong intent to accomplish, but nothing that seems to come close to needing the same degree of intent as the unforgivables (really wanting and enjoying their outcomes, or else they fail).


Spells in general seem to require varying degrees of the following three components: wand work, incantation, and intent. Some spells require all three, whereas others can leave out one or two (wandless and non-verbal), which makes the third much more important. Relating to the example above, disapparation doesn't seem to need a wand or verbal component, but requires strong intent. The unforgivables in particular, being as a strong as they are, seem to require a great deal of all three (although there might be an exception wherein strong enough intent negates the need for the verbal component).

  • nice answer, although I'm not a 100% convinced that we can equate intent to determination/concentration
    – Traceur
    Commented Mar 29, 2017 at 17:41
  • also, the 2 examples in your answer are not really the same sort of spells as the Curses. I am more looking for spells that require a target. Maybe the riddikulus spell would be a good example?
    – Traceur
    Commented Mar 29, 2017 at 17:46
  • @Traceur Your original question was "Are there other spells beside the Unforgivable Curses that have this kind of limitation?", with the limitation being "You have to really mean it in order for the spell to have the desired outcome", so I was mostly looking for any sorts of spells that required significant "resolve or determination" (dictionary definition of intent). That said, there are very few other spells of enough prominence in the series to get enough description for us to be able to know what it takes to cast them.
    – Mwr247
    Commented Mar 29, 2017 at 18:20
  • @Traceur Additionally, the intent aspect doesn't even seem to apply to all the unforgivable curses in the same way, if at all. Crucio, as your quote above points out, requires a strong desire to cause pain or harm. This is not stated as a requirement for either Avada Kedavra (only requires a "powerful bit of magic behind it", aka skill/general intent, not specifically intent to kill) or Imperio (no particular requirements or intent are described for using it). Riddikulus does seem to come close, but it only seems more similar than Expecto Patronum in that it has a specific target.
    – Mwr247
    Commented Mar 29, 2017 at 18:24
  • I know what my original question was, but I didn't feel like editing it and invalidating your answer. I disagree that intent to kill is not needed for Avada Kedavra, I'm pretty sure it's implied. EDIT: probably should have used a bigger quote in my question, Bellatrix does say you need to 'mean' the Unforgivable Curses
    – Traceur
    Commented Mar 29, 2017 at 18:31

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