The Avada Kedavra curse is recognisable by the flash of green light and the rushing noise emitted from the caster's wand.
- Harry Potter wiki, Killing Curse article, Nature Section

I thought green was commonly one of the colors used by light side (the good side). Like in Star Wars, where Jedi light sabers are green or blue, but Sith light sabers are mostly red. But in Harry Potter the light emitted after casting the Killing Curse is green and the defensive spell (casted by Harry Potter) is red. Why the colors are switched in Harry Potter?

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    Just to add another perspective, in Star Wars, Tie-fighters fire green blasters and the Rebels fire red.
    – M_the_C
    Commented Jul 17, 2012 at 12:14
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    For a highly literary view see Hogwart's Professor. I especially like the observation that V's eyes are red and his spell is green, while Harry's eyes are green and his spell is red.
    – TGnat
    Commented Jul 17, 2012 at 13:35
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    Do not look it up in tvtropes. You were warned. tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/GoodColorsEvilColors
    – b_jonas
    Commented Jul 17, 2012 at 17:50
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    According to Why is green considered a toxic color in movies?, the historical association to radium poisoning is a strong possibility.
    – Gaultheria
    Commented Jul 28, 2018 at 3:24
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    Why the colors are switched - They aren't "switched." Rowling owes nothing to common tropes, and can use whichever colors she likes when writing her own story.
    – Misha R
    Commented Jul 29, 2018 at 18:12

10 Answers 10


In the book "Millennial Mythmaking: Essays on the Power of Science Fiction and Fantasy Literature, Films and Games" By John R. Perlich, David Whitt, there is an essay "Sorting Heroic Choices: Green and Red in the Harry Potter Septology" by Kristin Cronn-Mills and Jessica Samens.

They looked at every color mentioned in all the Harry Potter books, and conclude that while the colors red and green often indicate significant elements, there is no good/bad correlation to the colors.

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    Could you please provide a bit more detail? What do they base their conclusion on? Commented Jul 17, 2012 at 14:38
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    The writers of the essay come up with many times where color was specifically mentioned in the books, and found examples were green was associated with good, as well as examples were green was associated with evil. I no longer have that book, but I do remember one of the examples of green being good (other than Harry's eye color) is that Harry's first "Weasley sweater" was emerald green.
    – Peter
    Commented Jul 17, 2012 at 20:24

There's no canon (or JKR) information based on extensive search of accio quote for "green, red, color, jet or light", but the supposition that green is somehow an evil color in HP is belied by the fact that Harry Potter's eyes are green as well:

MA: What color are Ron's eyes?
JKR: Blue. Harry's green, Ron's blue, and Hermione's are brown.
(Src: "The Leaky Cauldron and Mugglenet interview Joanne Kathleen Rowling: Part Three," The Leaky Cauldron, 16 July 2005)

And before someone says it's because of the bit of Voldemort's soul - Lily Potter's eyes were green as well. There was a big stress on "Harry has his mother's eyes" in DH.

Most likely, it was a random aesthetic choice by JKR.

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    Harry does have Voldemort in his head... </conspiracy theory>
    – dlanod
    Commented Jul 17, 2012 at 9:45
  • @dlanod - Good timing. See my edit :) Commented Jul 17, 2012 at 9:56
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    So what you're saying is that Lily had Voldemort in her head too??? :D
    – dlanod
    Commented Jul 17, 2012 at 9:57
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    @dlanod - what if Lily and Voldemort were the same person? </conspiracy theory> Commented Jul 17, 2012 at 9:58
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    @DVK If Lily and Voldemort were the same person… would Lily’s sacrifice and Voldy’s subsequent failed assassination that semi-killed himself count as simultaneously successful and failed murder and simultaneously successful and failed suicide? Commented Jul 12, 2015 at 14:45

We know from JKR's tweets and interviews that the DADA curse was inspired by the film This is Spinal Tap.

The drummers in the film are persistently killed by a green flash.

Nigel Tufnel: He just was like, a flash of green light, and that was it.

It doesn't seem at all unlikely that this also inspired the "flash of green light" mentioned in the books on multiple occasions when describing the Avada Kedavra spell.


Here a link to Pottermore where JKR explains her usage of colour symbolism: https://www.pottermore.com/writing-by-jk-rowling/colours

She states that red is the colour of nobles and church and green the colour of fairies who bring misfortune to the unwary, death and many spells of Dark Magic. In her assessment red stands for the noble and helpful, while green is for the ignoble and destructive. She draws further parallels to Gryffindor's and Slytherin's colours, symbolizing fire and water respectively.

As an aside, I do not agree with her view at all. Symbolism is a subjective matter in any case, not to speak of the contradictions in her short essay itself and what we see in canon.

To answer the question:

For JKR green = evil -> Avada Kedavra = green


Green is used as the color of much Dark magic.

J.K. Rowling says that she’d used the color green for many things connected to Dark magic. She said it’s associated with the supernatural in the UK and, among other things, with misfortune and death, which likely influenced her choice in using it for so many things related to Dark magic.

Green has long had a supernatural connection in the UK. Superstition says that it ought to be worn with care; the fairies are supposedly possessive of it, as it is their proper colour. It ought never to be worn at weddings, due to a further association with misfortune and death. Green is the colour of much ‘Dark’ magic; of the ‘Dark Mark’, of the luminescent potion in which Voldemort conceals one of his Horcruxes, of many ‘Dark’ spells and curses, and of Slytherin house.
- Colours (Pottermore)

Associating the color green with misfortune and death would make it almost a natural choice for her to use when deciding the color of a curse used specifically and solely to kill. In addition, it fits with her internal color symbolism within the series - Dark magic is often green. (She’s not the only one to represent evil as green, though - similar color symbolism is used in Disney movies, for example.) Though of course this doesn’t mean everything green mentioned in a Harry Potter book is evil, by her own statement, she did often use green as the color for things related somehow to Dark magic.


Although analysis apparently says the colors mean nothing, I think there is some symbolism going on here.

Green is associated with envy, although slytherin is associated with ambition, I think that particular shade of ambition is rooted in envy. Arvada kadavra can only be cast with true hatred, hatred also stems most frequently from envy.

Red and yellow are colors of power, pride, bravery and valor. They say look at me. Expelliarmus is a spell rooted in bravery. It doesn't mean to cause harm, only to stop someone else from causing harm. It is much more brave to disable and opponent than to kill him outright.

Regarding Harry's eye color, well that's really an ordinary eye color isn't it? While I think someone with red eyes would appear rather frightening would it?


Both snakes and Slytherin house are green, and both are associated with evil. Gryffindor house and phoenix are red and are linked with good throughout the books. Sirius tells harry at one point that everyone has both good and evil and that the world isn't just full of good and bad- its not that black and white. I suppose it could just be that JK wanted to get away from the typical Muggle colour association when writing.

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    This sounds more like an opinion than a verifiable answer. suggest checking out the Tour to get a better idea of how to ask and answer questions. We're not a typical discussion forum. Commented Jun 17, 2014 at 16:29
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    Welcome to scifi.stackexchange! The core of your answer is, that JKR wanted to get some distance to "muggly" black and white thinking. Do you have some evidence to back that up? This site is about verifiable answers...
    – Einer
    Commented Jun 17, 2014 at 16:30

Like people are saying, green is associated with Slytherin house. Yes, Harry's eyes are green, but eye color is not the vibrant green of the Avada Kedavra spell, or the green of Slytherin house.

Anyway, I do think the green being associated with snakes and Slytherin might have something to do with why Avada Kedavra is green. I don't think JK Rowling gave too much thought to it, but I think it likely that this was the reason, either consciously or subconsciously, that she chose the color green for AK.


If you see, green is the color of Slytherin in HP books. So the color's kinda associated with evil. Of course there's no relation between the house and the curse, but it's kinda like a sensory trigger. Green=bad red=good

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    I wouldn't say that, as Harry and lily's eyes are both green.
    – AncientSwordRage
    Commented Jul 22, 2012 at 10:38

Green is the color of Slytherin House and each house of Hogwarts has some values that are appreciated and which the students are keen to. for the Slytherin it is the dark arts.

therefore, in the story, green color is, somehow, related to the dark side.

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