As the title says, Why didn't Harry feel the Cruciatus curse at the end of Deathly Hallows?

‘You see?’ screeched Voldemort over the tumult. ‘Harry Potter is dead by my hand, and no man alive can threaten me now! Watch! Crucio!’

Harry had been expecting it: knew his body would not be allowed to remain unsullied upon the Forest floor, it must be subjected to humiliation to prove Voldemort’s victory. He was lifted into the air, and it took all his determination to remain limp, yet the pain he expected did not come.

Deathly Hallows - page 582 - Bloomsbury - chapter 36, A Flaw in the Plan

Is there a canonical explanation as to why Harry did not feel the pain from the Cruciatus curse? Was it due to some kind of protective enchantment, adrenaline, a shift in Voldemort's powers... Was Harry able to mentally block the pain? Why did this happen?

I prefer an answer based in canon and not answers from the HP Wiki/Wikia

  • 33
    I would theorize it was the Elder Wand not harming its master...
    – Izkata
    Commented Jun 25, 2012 at 2:43
  • 37
    I'll have to go look, but I thought it was the same reason Neville didn't get burned, and none of the curses on the students, after Harry's sacrifice, 'took'; Harry had inadvertently provided the same protection his mother had given him (by sacrificing her life) to the entirety of Hogwarts and all of it's defenders, by sacrificing his own. As a nice bonus, he was one of the people protected, due to the unusual aspect of his death/not-death. I don't think he mentioned HIS protection, but he mentions the protection of the other students in his final duel, as I recall.
    – K-H-W
    Commented Jun 25, 2012 at 3:57
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    @KeithHWeston - sorry, I disagree. It's an elegant theory, but I don't think self-sacrifice protects that self later on. Though, admittedly, I don't have a canon proof either way. Commented Jun 25, 2012 at 14:01
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    @dvk - I can see your point, which is why I posted it as a comment instead of an answer.. It's my personal interpretation, but I really have not way to justify it, except for gut feeling. (Self sacrifice requires the sacrifice, so can't protect the enactor.. but this was a freak circumstance.) It's odd that JKR actually drew our attention to it, but then never explained... She often leaves side details unexplained, but when she specifically draws our attention to something, an explanation is usually forthcoming. Perhaps it's meant to be obvious, and we are just not getting it :)
    – K-H-W
    Commented Jun 25, 2012 at 22:22

11 Answers 11


That isn't the only case of one of Voldemort's spells not working near the end of the book. Consider how Neville was frozen to the spot, with a burning Sorting Hat on his head, and then

In one swift, fluid motion, Neville broke free of the Body-Bind Curse upon him...

The answer to this puzzle is in the book:

"You won't be killing anyone else tonight," said Harry as they circled, and stared into each other's eyes, green into red. "You won't be able to kill any of them ever again. Don't you get it? I was ready to die to stop you from hurting these people--"

"But you did not!"

"--I meant to, and that's what did it. I've done what my mother did. They're protected from you. Haven't you noticed how none of the spells you put on them are binding? You can't torture them. You can't touch them. You don't learn from your mistakes, Riddle, do you?"

Harry made the same kind of sacrifice his mother made (even though Harry's didn't result in his death, at least not permanently). Just as Harry was protected by his mother's sacrifice, now all of Harry's friends and loved ones were protected by Harry's sacrifice.

  • 8
    @StephenCollings, what makes you think Harry didn't die?
    – Kyralessa
    Commented Sep 22, 2014 at 21:32
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    @StephenCollings "I meant to, and that's what did it." -- the willingness to make the sacrifice was enough because it was sincere. Additionally, (although I'm theorizing here) the AK failed both because the Elder Wand belonged to Harry at that time and because the majority of the Killing Curse's power was spent blasting the Horcrux out of Harry's forehead. Commented Sep 3, 2015 at 5:35
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    But this doesn't actually answer the question, does it? Sure, Harry's loved ones are protected, but what about Harry himself? Commented Nov 19, 2015 at 4:55
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    @Lucharx The choice Harry had was in whether to go confront Voldemort at all. He could have avoided Voldemort to save his own skin, but he chose to go and die so that the last Horcrux would be destroyed, allowing Voldemort to be defeated (i.e. "stop hurting these people"). But I agree with BolteAltamont, this answer describes why everyone else is protected but not Harry himself.
    – Ben Sutton
    Commented Dec 1, 2016 at 21:54
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    I could have sworn the reason Harry survived is because Voldemort tethered Harry to life when he took Harry's blood in order to get around the inability to touch Harry problem (due to Lily's sacrifice).
    – Pryftan
    Commented Oct 5, 2017 at 1:40

It happened for the same reason that Harry did not die. The Elder wand simply wouldn't work on Harry, as Harry was its master.

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    -1 But it's not substantiated
    – AncientSwordRage
    Commented Oct 27, 2012 at 2:02
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    THIS is the right answer. The Elder Wand belonged to Harry and, therefore, refused to harm him. Harry's self-sacrifice protected everyone he loved, not himself. He, himself, was protected by the allegience of the Elder Wand. Commented Jan 31, 2014 at 1:54
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    The reason Harry didn't die was not because of the Elder Wand: Was Harry Potter killed and then brought back to life?
    – Kapler
    Commented Mar 17, 2014 at 20:31
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    The reason Harry didn't die was that Voldemort had used his blood and thus tethered him to life with himself, not because the elder wand didn't wanna kill its owner. It actually managed to kill its owner. So it should've been able to crucio its owner as well, but it didn't because of the old magic that Harry had enacted.
    – Siddhartha
    Commented May 4, 2020 at 0:06

Well, I've read all of the previous written explanations. All of them are good, some better than others. A lot of them (especially those speaking of Lily and Harry's sacrifices and protections making this possible) are grounded on the canon books and make a lot of sense. Though, one thing that no one has mentioned yet (even if someone talked about Harry's expectations), is what Voldemort believed. Voldemort spoke of how something dead cannot feel pain.

‘You see?’ screeched Voldemort over the tumult. ‘Harry Potter is dead by my hand, and no man alive can threaten me now! Watch! Crucio!'

He casts the Cruciatus curse to prove Harry's death. Which means that he believed that Harry was dead. And if you look to the magic theory all through the books you see that one must believe, expect and feel enough for some charms and spells to work (see Harry's failed "Crucio" on Bellatrix). It is my belief that, in addition to Harry's sacrifice, the Cruciatus didn't work cause Voldemort didn't expect it to. He believed Harry was dead and wouldn't feel anything, therefore it did not happen.

  • 6
    I disagree. Voldemort cast Crucio as a test to make sure Harry was dead, by seeing if he would react to the pain. So he expected Harry's body to feel the pain, if it was capable.
    – childcat15
    Commented Aug 21, 2015 at 4:05

He did not experience the pain he expected. I would like to think that he braved it. And a part of Harry did die by the doing of Elder wand. How else would you explain the horcrux inside him which did die? The Elder wand would not harm it's master in a contested duel. It does bend its allegiance if it were a simple disarming (Isn't that how Malfoy owned it?). The history of the deathstick does point to the same conclusion as well. To add to that, Harry could resist the unforgivable curses in the past as well. Not just Avada Kedavra, but Imperius curse as well( Goblet of Fire).

I would like to theorize that he was able to simply withstand it.

  • 4
    +1 for mentioning other Unforgivables resistance and the fact that Harry did feel pain, just tolerated it. Commented Jun 25, 2012 at 14:02
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    Hmm, that makes Harry The Boy Who Resisted All 3 Unforgivable Curses.
    – n611x007
    Commented Jun 28, 2012 at 20:17
  • The Imperius curse can be shaken off and overcome (we see Barty Crouch Sr. doing it, for instance). It is fundamentally different from Avada Kedavra in that respect. There is no canon evidence—that I know of, at least—to indicate that Crucio can be shaken off in the same manner. Even if there were, Harry clearly didn’t do it here: he knew when he fought off the Imperius curse (didn’t necessarily know that’s what he was doing, but he was cognisant of his actions); here, the intended effect of the Cruciatus curse just simply never came. Very different. Commented Sep 2, 2015 at 20:38

I think it's most likely the fact that it was because y'all are forgetting one vital piece of the story: Harry's body was inhabited by two souls.

"You were the seventh Horcrux, Harry, the Horcrux he never meant to make."

Both Voldemort's Horcruxed soul and Harry's were within his body when the curse was cast. Harry originally withstood the Killing Curse once due to the sacrifice of his mother, thus causing the curse to rebound upon Voldemort, killing him and forcing him to find the other portions of his soul.

When Harry went forward to allow himself to die, Dumbledore explains to Harry why his soul survived.

"Precisely!" said Dumbledore. "He took your blood and rebuilt his living body with it! Your blood in his veins, Harry, Lily's protection inside both of you! He tethered you to life while he lives!"

With Harry living for as long as Voldemort is alive, it would stand to reason that Voldemort's killing curse would not affect him but rather the OTHER unprotected soul within him: Voldemort's last Horcrux.

With this last bit of perversion gone from Harry's soul, his mother's protection is no longer perverted by the corrupt soul of Voldemort. This purified enchantment laid upon Harry by his mother allows him to no longer fear the magic of Voldemort. I say this because Dumbledore explains the connection between the two:

"He took into his body a tiny part of the enchantment your mother laid upon you when she died for you. His body keeps her sacrifice alive, and while that enchantment survives, so do you..."

I make this claim because the only major difference between Voldemort and Harry in Goblet of Fire (Where Voldemort successfully used the Cruciatus Curse on him) and this last scene, is that Voldemort's soul is no longer within Harry. Voldemort was able to torture Harry because his Horcrux was latched on to Harry, weakening the enchantment his mother laid upon him. With this contaminant gone, Harry now had the full undiluted protection of his mother's sacrifice (at least from Voldemort).

On a quick aside: I would assume that he is still susceptible to the magic of others but no others cast magic at him for the rest of the book.

So, to wrap this all up:

Harry didn't feel the Cruciatus Curse cast by Voldemort because he was, once again, fully under the protection of his mother's enchantment. An enchantment which was being sustained by some of Harry's blood within Voldemort.

  • 2
    Interesting theory. A few things: Lily's enchantment expired on Harry's 17th birthday, except for the small portion of Voldemort's soul Harry retained. When Voldemort "killed" Harry in the forest, he destroyed the portion of his own soul in Harry, which held Lily's enchantment. Lily's enchantment still existed in Voldemort. It seems when the piece of Voldemort's soul was killed, by Voldemort himself, Harry was left with no protective enchantments. One, he was too old, and, two, Voldemort killed the only remaining enchantments. How could Harry retain any of Lily's enchantment, given this? Commented Jan 15, 2013 at 15:42
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    @A Slytherin Both of your issues are answered in my original post. 1) The enchantment surpasses his 17th birthday because it was maintained within Voldemort's body which was created using Harry's blood and 2) the enchantment wasn't destroyed when Voldemort killed his Horcrux because it wasn't his Horcrux that maintained the protection, it was Voldemort's body.
    – user11948
    Commented Jan 16, 2013 at 2:56
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    And I don't understand what you mean about it being specific? It specifically states Harry was under the protection of the enchantment and implies that Harry was Voldemort's one last hope. Their last duel together lends credence to this when Harry speaks to Voldemort: "It's your one last chance," said Harry, "it's all you've got left... I've seen what you'll be otherwise... Be a man... try... Try for some remorse..." Harry is the only person who knows that Remorse can reverse the effects of a Horcrux.
    – user11948
    Commented Jan 16, 2013 at 2:58
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    Goblet of Fire, 1st edition, Hardback pg. 652 Voldemort said softly, his red eyes upon Harry, whose scar began to burn so fiercely that he almost screamed in agony. "You all know that on the night I lost my powers and my body, I tried to kill him. His mother died in the attempt to save him - and unwittingly provided him with a protection I admit I had not foreseen... I could not touch the boy." Voldemort raised one of his long white fingers and put it very close to Harry's cheek. "His mother left upon him traces of her sacrifice... This is old magic: I should have remembered it-"
    – user11948
    Commented Jan 17, 2013 at 1:59
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    @Slytherincess I thought it was the Trace that expired when Harry turned 17, rather than Lily's protection? Commented Feb 25, 2016 at 13:36

The primary reason the Cruciatus Curse didn't work on Harry was that Voldemort wasn't the true owner of the Elder Wand.

The Elder Wand, like other wands being semi-sentient, knew who it's true master was. It was aware of the fact that Harry had won over Draco and it belonged to him.

So when Voldemort cast the curse on Harry, the wand refused to work against Harry. Some people would try to claim that the wand did work against Harry when Voldemort used the Killing Curse on him in the Forest.

However in that case, the curse killed the piece of Voldemort's soul attached to Harry and not Harry himself.

  • Totally agreed.
    – gedamial
    Commented Dec 1, 2018 at 13:29

I think it was because the Elder Wand couldn't hurt it's true master and when Voldemort fired it at Harry, the curse from the wand hit the Horcrux inside Harry (Voldemort's soul) as it was unable to kill it's true master. Wands have feelings as suggested by Ollivander and that supports the reason why the wand did not hurt it's master. Just an opinion!


I believe that it was the not quite alive, not quite dead people he used the stone to see stayed behind a bit longer and protected Harry like they had all along.


Harry lost Lily's protection when he came of age. The Elder Wand responds to its master. The whole point of Harry facing Riddle in the forest was to destroy the Horcrux residing in the latter. The Elder Wand's killing curse didn't backfire then because Harry wanted to die so that the piece of Riddle's soul would perish with him. Had Harry died then the Elder Wand's power would have been broken as Harry planned his death beforehand similar to Dumbledore. what saved him from the curse was the Horcrux inside him. When Harry came to and Riddle tried to subject Harry to the Crucio curse, it failed because Harry was still the Elder Wand's master since he was still alive and the wand had never been won from him. The Elder Wand refuses to turn on its master. Harry knew what was coming and since he didn't want the pain the pain never came as it was the Elder Wand that cast the spell.


I believe that Harry did not feel the curse because the elder wand could not harm him. Let it be noted, however, that if that were the case with Avada Kedavra later on, then the curse wouldn't have rebounded. Harry just wouldn't have felt it. The Avada Kedavra rebound, I believe, was a result of the lingering protection Lily gave Harry. There are those who say that that protection expired, but the only part that did once Harry left Privet Drive was the strengthened aspects of the enchantment (that Harry could not be harmed/found in that house).

Another aspect of this that people seem to forget when answering these questions is that DUMBLEDORE DID NOT INTEND FOR HARRY TO HAVE THE ELDER WAND. That was never part of the plan because he intended the elder wand to die with him, and I doubt he would have not taught Harry anything other than how to destroy and look for horcruxes if Voldemort could just easily kill him with Avada Kedavra.

My belief is that Lily's protection was still alive within Harry at the time and made the curse rebound, and that Voldemort taking Harry's blood only somewhat nullified the effects of the protection while also tying Harry to Voldemort so that he could return after being attacked in the forest. Keep in mind that we never actually see Voldemort use Avada Kedavra against Harry (when nothing else was in place like the wand cores) until this point.

Furthermore, the lingering protection would explain Harry's wand acting to protect him at the beginning of DH. Also, the reason why the curse didn't rebound when Harry faced Voldemort in the forest would be Harry's willingness to die which also incidentally gave his loved ones some protection.

  • 1
    You first state Harry didn't die because he was the master of the Elder Wand. Then in the third paragraph you say he didn't die because of his mother's protection. In the last paragraph you imply he survived because of his own sacrifice. All you've done is mashed up all of the other good answers on this post, without explaining how they work together or if one takes precedence over another. I recommend clarifying what you think is the right answer, and trying to back it up with a quote from the books if you can
    – childcat15
    Commented Aug 21, 2015 at 4:11

I really think that Harry just had a high pain tolerance, and a gift in resisting unforgivable curses, as we learn in the goblet of fire, Harry resists "Imperio" very well, i don't think the pain was as bad as he thought, so he let his body take it, Voldemort, I... I mean He-Who-Shall-Not-Be-Named, knew what he was doing, he thought, that if Harry was alive, he would feel the pain, yet, i think he did, and just didn't feel it as much as Harry thought he would, therefore, not enough to make him scream and tense up.

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