I remember seeing this Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban poster when I was younger and thinking that the "Something Wicked This Way Comes" tag line was very catchy and incredibly clever. I was always somewhat mildly curious how they came up with the line:

Prisoner Of Azkaban Movie Poster

However I've most recently today just happened upon this Wikipedia article on a 1962 novel by Ray Bradbury with the same name: Something Wicked This Way Comes (novel).

Ray Bradbury Novel

I was wondering if the tag line may have been borrowed from the novel or where it might have originally come from. I know many people in art and music can borrow from one another, and I was wondering whether this same line was independently created or taken from a previous source of inspiration such as the Ray Bradbury novel.

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    If I'd downvote this, I'd downvote for the reason that the origin is mentioned on the very page the OP links to.
    – Mr Lister
    Commented Oct 25, 2018 at 17:55
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    If you don't mind my asking -- what seemed "incredibly clever" about the tagline? (For me it resonates only because of the Macbeth allusion; I wouldn't have thought it would even stand out to someone who didn't recognize it.)
    – ruakh
    Commented Oct 25, 2018 at 18:47
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    How they came up with it? Stole it from Will Shakespeare, that's how. If you're going to steal, you might as well steal from the best :-) (See also Agatha Christie's "By the Pricking of My Thumbs")
    – jamesqf
    Commented Oct 26, 2018 at 2:44
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    @jamesqf Also see also Dr. Seuss' classic work "Open, locks, Whoever knocks"
    – A C
    Commented Oct 26, 2018 at 17:33
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    Going along with @ruakh : If you think this is "incredibly clever", you're going to be blown away by Shakespeare's best lines; this probably isn't in the top 1000.
    – Chelonian
    Commented Oct 26, 2018 at 22:21

2 Answers 2


It's from the play Macbeth (Act IV, Scene 1), by William Shakespeare:

Second Witch: By the pricking of my thumbs, Something wicked this way comes. Open, locks, Whoever knocks.

Notably the line appears in the film at the end of the "Double Trouble" choir song.

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    And possibly worth noting that divination by recognising painful feelings, twinges and itches in the fingers and hands were an ancient Roman tradition. An itchy left palm augured the arrival of money. A pain in the finger or thumbs would foretell the arrival of evil
    – Valorum
    Commented Oct 25, 2018 at 16:21
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    For those new to Shakespeare, part of the original connotation of the Shakespeare line was heavily based on the fact that the witches were overtly evil, having just before talked about using an ingredient such as "Finger of birth-strangled babe" (among a number of other unsavory items). If someone as evil as them could note that arrival of "something wicked" - Macbeth - wow, he must be a real bad dude!
    – BrianH
    Commented Oct 25, 2018 at 20:14
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    The fact that it appears in a song called Double Trouble is a further Macbeth allusion. A repeated line in the witches' chant during that scene is "Double, double toil and trouble; Fire burn, and cauldron bubble."
    – Ray
    Commented Oct 26, 2018 at 16:35
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    @BrianH: The whole thrust of the play is about how MacBeth, who starts out as a decent, even heroic, figure, is led into evil by his own ambition after the witches tell him he is to be king. And he even recognizes this, as he says "I am in blood Stepp'd in so far that, should I wade no more, Returning were as tedious as go o'er".
    – jamesqf
    Commented Oct 26, 2018 at 17:21
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    Of course you mean the Scottish play. Commented Oct 29, 2018 at 5:09

It's from Macbeth.

First, i'd like to point out that the connection is made from the mention of that line: in the song Double Trouble.

John Williams took the lyrics from the famous scene in William Shakespeare's Macbeth in which the Witches are around the cauldron and set them to music he composed for the films. One of the witches also says the phrase, "By the pricking of my thumbs, something wicked this way comes."
- Something Wicked This Way Comes - The Harry Potter Compendium

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    Althought this isn't inaccurate, it doesn't contain anything useful that isn't already in the answer above
    – Valorum
    Commented Oct 25, 2018 at 23:16
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    @Valorum it contains the reference to John Williams decisionmaking.
    – Niffler
    Commented Oct 25, 2018 at 23:17
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    And the fact that the entire song is a Macbeth reference, not just the final line. Commented Oct 26, 2018 at 4:15

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