Was he really any good at magic, or was he just lucky (as the book seems to imply) and he had very good and powerful friends to back him up?


6 Answers 6



Harry is neither particularly "good" or "lucky". He is the opposite of a tragic hero.
Maybe "opposite" is incorrect, but Harry's story is basically one of love conquering hate. While Voldemort is consumed with hate, Harry's life was altered by love in positive ways.

Not only did love save his life, quite literally apparently. It also bound Harry to Voldemort in such a way that it ensured the "dark lord's" eventual defeat.

Harry isn't "lucky" to have friends, he has them for a number of reasons, mostly because of the kind of person he is, and how he values his friends. Unlike the person opposite of him in this respect "Draco". Draco's friends are a stark contrast to Harry's. Not the point.

Anyway, so, while he has some magic skill, albeit not super powered like some characters, he also doesn't simply stumble through life with unexpectedly happy results. A tragic hero is somewhat destined to fail with love as some complicating factor, while Harry's destiny was somewhat written by love to various extents.

So, yes, Neither.

  • 3
    This is a really good answer. I have some differences of opinion, but all in all this is astute. :) Jun 5, 2012 at 0:42
  • 6
    Differences of opinion? On my internet!!? Jun 5, 2012 at 2:06
  • I agree with this more than the other answers, as well. The series was never about talent or luck, but relationships. Jun 5, 2012 at 3:31
  • @GorchestopherH -- Oh, so that's how it is... :) Jun 5, 2012 at 4:14
  • 2
    Also, he trained to gain more powers than usual, with Occlumency classes with Snape, training in Dumbledore's Armada, learning Expecto Patronum with Lupin... there is lots of hard work throughout the series.
    – Bruno Kim
    Aug 28, 2012 at 18:15

To some degree, both.

Harry was a talented wizard, though not a particularly good student. He excelled specifically at Defense Against the Dark Arts, managing to summon a corporeal patronus in his third year (a feat that many adult wizards aren't capable of). He didn't excel in the classroom in the way that Hermione did, but I think that is due more to personality than ability. And, of course, focusing on stopping Voldemort, or his supporters, during the course of every school year no doubt didn't help with his studies.

His magical ability certainly helped him through some of the situations he found himself in. Where his knowledge or ability failed him, he was fortunate enough to either have more knowledgeable people there to assist him or to simply get lucky.

  • 7
    Harry didn't do poorly overall in classes. His O.W.L.'s were: Astronomy: A, Care of Magical Creatures: E, Charms: E, Defense Against the Dark Arts: O, Divination: P, Herbology: E, History of Magic: D, Potions: E, Transfiguration: E. Harry always hated Divination, explaining the (P)oor, and he passed out midway through the History of Magic exam, explaining the (D)readful. During the Astronomy test, Umbridge was attempting to apprehend Hagrid. During the practical portion of the test, he was distracted by this, and he still got (A)cceptable. Harry wasn't a genius, but he was no slouch, either. Jun 4, 2012 at 17:01
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    @GabeWillard I'm guessing the other scores are (E)xceptional and (O)ver 9000?
    – Tacroy
    Jun 4, 2012 at 17:31
  • 2
    @Tacroy - nice. :) For reference, they're actually (E)xceeds Expectations and (O)utstanding. (As George once said, "And I've always thought Fred and I should've got E in everything, because we exceeded expectations just by turning up for the exams.")
    – Adam V
    Jun 4, 2012 at 18:14
  • 1
    @AdamDavis As far as I recall the only thing he gained from that portion of Voldemort's soul was his ability as a Parseltongue, and losing that once the Horcrux had been destroyed wouldn't have negatively affected his ability as a wizard. Jun 5, 2012 at 12:53
  • 2
    His connection to Voldemort's soul was the reason Voldemort could destroy himself. Jun 5, 2012 at 17:53

Harry was both lucky and good at magic. Harry as a child had a lot of magical power being able to use magic in a state of extreme emotion.

Luck: Harry was lucky in a lot of situations such has the Voldemort killing the Horcrux, Faweks healed the basalisk wound. The Hippogryph respecting him. Even flying he was abnormally talented. Basically Book 5 or 6 (luck potion). He got Snape's book.

Talent: He recieved a score higher than Hermione in the Defense of the Dark Arts class.

All it comes down to is that the main character is lucky to be talented/ have good support.


He does have skill but it is never emphasized enough for a person to buy into the idea that he has more extraordinary talents at all.

He did not seem to grasp many spells in the first book and only learned useful ones later on like the Disarming Charm in the second book and the Patronus Charm in third book. Also in the third book Harry does excel at Defense Against the Dark Arts but most of that knowledge apart from spells was not used in the series.

While he learns more spells in the fourth book they were just spells anyone can learn to cast but throughout the series (if you have already read), he does not dabble or experiment, making him really just average, too average.

Frankly there were many instances of Deus Ex Machina, some of which were foreshadowed like in the first book Voldemort's Killing Curse rebounded on Harry and we learn why because of the his mother's love protection charm. And this in turn allowed him to defeat Quirrell and Voldemort very quickly.

In the second book Harry gets help from Fawkes, thanks to some information Dumbledore provided, even though its not clear whether or not phoenixes have very good hearing.

In the third book he uses the Time Turner (which gave Hermione the mysterious ability to appear at more than one places) to save Sirius.

In the fourth book Harry was saved by effect of the twin cores which was mentioned in the first book.

The seventh book uses the wandlore idea that the wand chooses the wizard to allow Harry to gain the Elder Wand without really knowing it. It was mentioned in the first book but was not quite expanded-on properly although it was most likely to keep things mysterious. And also in the seventh book Harry's wand saves him from Voldemort all on its own even though such a level of wand sentience was not touched upon often making genuine instance of Deus Ex Machina.

  • Your personal opinion is more than welcome as comment. For answers however, I would suggest you back up the statements you made with references from the books. And Welcome to SFF
    – Aegon
    Sep 5, 2016 at 8:01
  • Yeah, some canon support would be good.
    – Adamant
    Sep 5, 2016 at 8:20
  • And some grammar. Good Lord!
    – Miller86
    Sep 5, 2016 at 12:34
  • Hi @Nameless, you seem to have accidentally created two accounts. You might like to follow the instructions here to merge your accounts - this will make it much easier for you to edit your own posts without needing approval from others.
    – Rand al'Thor
    Sep 5, 2016 at 16:16

He is a great wizard, but it is mostly luck.

  • Volume 1: Harry gets lucky that his mom's enchantment is still intact, and Voldemort can't touch him.
  • Volume 2: Harry gets lucky that Fawkes shows up and saves him from the venom.
  • Volume 3: Harry doesn't get lucky, and lets the only antagonist of the movie, Peter Pettigrew, escape.
  • Volume 4: Harry gets lucky that the ghosts (I know they're not technically ghosts) show up to distract Voldemort so he can escape.
  • Volume 5: Harry gets lucky that Dumbledore shows up to fight Voldemort so he won't have to.
  • Volume 6: Harry gets lucky that Dumbledore revived in time to save Harry from the inferi.
  • Volume 7: Harry gets lucky that all the events led to him being the owner of the elder wand, so the wand backfires Voldemort’s curse back to himself that definitely would've killed Harry.
  • Now you have shown one event from each book where he may have been lucky (and some of them rather debatable; not even to speak of Wormtail being “the only antagonist”). If someone lists one event each where he shows skill, do they cancel out?
    – chirlu
    Dec 12, 2016 at 10:47

Harry found at least once that he used magic he didn't know or intend to use when his life was threatened, when he was flying with Hagrid away from the Dursley's - there may have been other times as well. It seems the horcrux was protecting itself. I don't think everything he did or was capable of, including destroying Voldemort, can be chalked up to luck and skill - the horcrux Voldemort unintentionally placed within Harry played a significant role.

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