To see a thestral, you have to have seen death and processed it. (Hence why Harry could not see thestrals at the end of Goblet of Fire, as established in answers to this question.)

Do ghosts count, in regards to their own death?

Two problems present themselves to me: first, if you're the one dying, are you "seeing" death? With Avada Kedavra, Harry Potter is a universe where death happens in an instant. It's not a process. Can you "see"/"experience" yourself expiring when that very perception is [initially] dependent on being alive?

Second, Nearly-Headless Nick makes clear at the end of OotP that ghosts are what they are because they feared death. They have not gone "beyond the veil", so to speak, and the theme of accepting death and moving beyond this world is explored in some depth in books 5, 6 and 7. Does the "death" of one who becomes a ghost count? By virtue of having made the choice to become a ghost, do they lack a crucial element of this "sink[ing] in" that JK Rowling mentions in the linked answer?

I'm curious if there's a Word of God on this, or some throwaway line in the books where a ghost interacts with a Thestral which I've missed.

  • 4
    I'm assuming you're asking if ghosts who never witnessed someone else's death could still see a thestral. Surely people who had seen death while they were alive could see thestrals while they were ghosts also. =)
    – Kai
    Commented Apr 25, 2017 at 21:13
  • 1
    Yes, right. Presuming they haven't seen the death of another person. The Bloody Baron, for example, can probably see thestrals. Commented Apr 25, 2017 at 21:17
  • I've edited the question to reflect these comments. Commented Apr 25, 2017 at 22:17
  • 1
    Even if you can perceive something while that very thing kills you, most people are probably not looking at themselves as they die.
    – CHEESE
    Commented Apr 25, 2017 at 23:14
  • As Albus Dumbledore said, "In the main, ghosts are said to be forlorn and generally miserable, if not downright depressed. The jolly ghost is rare." I hope it answers the question...
    – user931
    Commented Apr 26, 2017 at 0:15

1 Answer 1


To see a thestral, you have to have seen death and processed it.

I think that ghosts are the very definition of NOT processing death. My answer to whether ghosts can see thestrals I think, would be down to the individual ghost. So a Harry Potter ghost, if he was killed after Goblet of Fire, yes.

Before that, even though he was witness to his parent's death, he hadn't actually PROCESSED and understood death.

You would think that ghosts, would understand death, but the fact that they haven't moved on means that, no, they have no special insight into death.

My theory, based on way it was handled in the books is "depends on what the ghost experienced in life." Just like regular people.

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