I'm wondering if it's ever brought up in the books or other sources about the wizarding world whether or not ghosts can pass on into the afterlife.

Are there any documented instances of this happening? If not, then is it ever brought up that they theoretically can pass on?


2 Answers 2


They don’t seem to be able to pass into the afterlife.

Harry asks Nearly Headless Nick about ghosts after Sirius died, and Nick seems to somewhat regret his decision to become a ghost. While it’s not proof, from what he says, it doesn’t seem like he’d be able to choose to “go on” at this point.

“You’re dead, aren’t you?’ said Harry exasperatedly. ‘Who can answer better than you?’

‘I was afraid of death,’ said Nick softly. ‘I chose to remain behind. I sometimes wonder whether I oughtn’t to have … well, that is neither here nor there … in fact, I am neither here nor there …’ He gave a small sad chuckle. ‘I know nothing of the secrets of death, Harry, for I chose my feeble imitation of life instead. I believe learned wizards study the matter in the Department of Mysteries –”
- Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, Chapter 38 (The Second War Begins)

In addition, that so few wizards choose to become ghosts implies a certain permanence - otherwise more would likely choose to “hang around” for a bit after dying, to check on those they left behind or spend a bit more time among the living.

“He will not come back,’ repeated Nick. ‘He will have … gone on.’

‘What d’you mean, “gone on”?’ said Harry quickly. ‘Gone on where? Listen – what happens when you die, anyway? Where do you go? Why doesn’t everyone come back? Why isn’t this place full of ghosts? Why –?”
- Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, Chapter 38 (The Second War Begins)

That no one comes back to say goodbye to loved ones or check up on them implies the decision is irreversible - otherwise Sirius would have likely wanted to tell Harry goodbye, Lily and James might have wanted to stick around for a while to make sure their son is in good hands, and Dumbledore could have watched to make sure his plan was falling into place and continue to instruct Snape and Harry, before choosing to “go on”.

  • 6
    Nice logical reasoning there, clever of you to read between the lines to come to this conclusion. If we don't get any solid evidence in other answers, I'm definitely giving this one the tick. Commented May 17, 2018 at 3:43
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    @SydneySleeper Thanks a lot! :) I’m still looking into it to see if there’s any more solid evidence, but there doesn’t seem to be. I’m glad you like my reasoning! :)
    – Obsidia
    Commented May 17, 2018 at 4:02

Everything that can be created, also can be destroyed. Ghosts generally are unable or unwilling to transfer to the next stage of existence. But, ghosts do move on, from time to time, under a variety of circumstances. So, they are not absolutely immortal.

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    Hi there! :) you mention that some of them move on. Would you have a quote that shows such a thing?
    – Jenayah
    Commented May 17, 2018 at 16:38
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    Just to check: You are aware that this question is about a specific fictional universe, yes?
    – Tin Wizard
    Commented May 17, 2018 at 17:55
  • Yes I am aware this is about a specific fictional universe. With that said, stories have rules. And one of the basic rules is the one I stated above. It's also a basic trope; ghosts are super old; ghosts last forever; except that in this particular story, it gets destroyed or moved on. The in-universe canon will eventually conform to this rule. Commented Oct 31, 2018 at 19:11

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