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I was wondering mainly because I've got two Harry Potter video games; one based on Deathly Hallows Part 2 and one based on Half Blood Prince.

In the Deathly Hallows game you can Protego the spell but in the Half Blood Prince game Petrificus Totalus can't be blocked by Protego.

So I was wondering in the books and/or movies can Petrificus Totalus be blocked by Protego or not?

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  • Games aren't exactly a good canon source. That said, I don't think there's a definite answer on if protego should reflect the body-bind curse, but it should be able to.
    – IloneSP
    Nov 25, 2019 at 10:32

2 Answers 2

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Probably

The Shield Charm is described as follows in Chapter Twenty-Five of Order of the Phoenix:

a means of deflecting minor jinxes so that they rebounded upon the attacker

Petrificus Totalus may very well be considered a minor jinx. After all Hermione had mastered it in her first year.

The description in Chapter Thirty-One of Goblet of Fire is slightly more expansive:

This was supposed to cast a temporary, invisible wall around himself that deflected minor curses; Hermione managed to shatter it with a well-placed Jelly-Legs Jinx, and Harry wobbled around the room for ten minutes afterward before she had looked up the counter-jinx.

This tells us that it can deflect against curses as well; more importantly, though, it tells us that it’s not absolute. Whether a Shield Charm will be able to deflect a particular attack apparently depends on the variable strength of the particular Shield Charm and the particular attacking spell.

We do see the Shield Charm work against Stupefy, which seems to be the most similar spell to Petrificus Totalus. For instance, in Chapter Thirty-Six of Order of the Phoenix:

“Protego!”

The jet of red light, his own Stunning Spell, bounced back at him.

Indeed we see that even apparently more powerful spells than Petrificus Totalus can be blocked. Forunstance, In Chapter Twenty-Eight of Half-Blood Prince:

“Cruc —” yelled Harry for the second time, aiming for the figure ahead illuminated in the dancing firelight, but Snape blocked the spell again.

Granted Harry’s Crucio was probably pretty weak, and Snape is a very accomplished wizard, but that merely reflects the point above that it is more about the particular circumstances than about which specific spell was used.

Additionally, Harry used quite a few Shield Charms against Voldemort in Chapter Thirty-Six of Deathly Hallows. While the curses Voldemort was trying to use are not specified, we can assume that they were serious. Again, the reason the Shield Charms worked may have had something to do with those circumstances (e.g. Elder wand, sacrifice, etc.) but again we see that in theory the Shield Charm can deflect such spells.

There is also a passage in Chapter Thirty-Five of Order of the Phoenix where it is implied that Petrificus Totalus itself can be deflected:

Harry seized his chance: “PETRIFICUS TOTALUS!”

The spell hit Dolohov before he could block it, and he toppled forward across his comrade, both of them rigid as boards and unable to move an inch.

The implication here is that Petrificus Totalus can definitely be blocked; it’s just that in this case it wasn’t.

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Protego should block Petrificus Totalus.

Though no case of Protego being used against Petrificus Totalus is ever shown, it seems likely from the knowledge we have about both spells that it likely could shield against it. Petrificus Totalus, the Full Body-Bind, is classified as a curse.

“When I get married,’ said Fred, tugging at the collar of his own robes, ‘I won’t be bothering with any of this nonsense. You can all wear what you like, and I’ll put a full Body-Bind Curse on Mum until it’s all over.”
- Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Chapter 8 (The Wedding)

Protego, the Shield Charm, is meant to deflect minor curses.

“He was still having trouble with the Shield Charm, though. This was supposed to cast a temporary, invisible wall around himself that deflected minor curses; Hermione managed to shatter it with a well-placed Jelly-Legs Jinx.”
- Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, Chapter 31 (The Third Task)

Petrificus Totalus is highly likely to be a minor curse, one not particularly Dark, as Hermione was both willing and able to cast it on Neville in her first year at Hogwarts.

‘Petrificus Totalus!’ she cried, pointing it at Neville.

Neville’s arms snapped to his sides. His legs sprang together. His whole body rigid, he swayed where he stood and then fell flat on his face, stiff as a board. Hermione ran to turn him over. Neville’s jaws were jammed together so he couldn’t speak. Only his eyes were moving, looking at them in horror.

‘What’ve you done to him?’ Harry whispered.

‘It’s the full Body-Bind,’ said Hermione miserably. ‘Oh, Neville, I’m so sorry.”
- Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone, Chapter 26 (Through the Trapdoor)

Therefore, as Protego can deflect minor curses, and Petrificus Totalus is classified as a curse which is furthermore likely to be classified specifically as a minor one, Protego should be capable of blocking Petrificus Totalus.

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