The common reason given to Harry not using Avada Kedavra is that Harry is not a killer. Clearly it's not the fear of Azkaban as he casts Crucio and Imperio.

However, Harry did know that Sectumsempra was a killing spell. (Would probably be considered an Unforgivable Curse, if the Minister found out about it, and was not because only Snape and Harry actually knew the spell). And he still tried to hit Snape with it, knowing that he would kill him.

Doesn't this go against Harry using a disarming spell to fight Voldemort?

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    Literally disarming, in this case. Commented Feb 2, 2021 at 4:00
  • Don't think it's a killing spell (at least not directly) as Malfoy didn't die when Harry used it on him Commented Feb 2, 2021 at 8:47
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    Ummm, Sectumsempra isn't a Killing Curse.
    – Shreedhar
    Commented Feb 2, 2021 at 9:01
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    @SpacePhoenix he didn't die because of snape. as the spell creator, he knew the "counter" spell. otherwise malfoy would have died
    – raiton
    Commented Feb 2, 2021 at 10:06
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    @raiton I agree, but Sectumsempra (according to your translation) amputates/cuts someone. Unless the person bleeds out, it is not necessarily a killing curse (bleeding out killed the person, not the curse). If so, then every curse is a potential Killing Curse. One can use Expelliarmus to throw his opponent off a cliff. Or stupefy an opponent and drown him.
    – Shreedhar
    Commented Feb 2, 2021 at 10:24

1 Answer 1


Harry already tried casting the highly illegal Cruciatus Curse twice against Snape earlier in the fight. Snape mocked him, saying he lacked the ability to cast Unforgivable Curses.

"Cruc - "

But Snape parried the curse, knocking Harry backward off his feet before he could complete it; Harry rolled over and scrambled back up again as the huge Death Eater behind him yelled, "Incendio!" Harry heard an explosive bang and a dancing orange light spilled over all of them: Hagrid's house was on fire.

"Fang's in there, yer evil - !" Hagrid bellowed.

"Cruc -" yelled Harry for the second time, aiming for the figure ahead illuminated in the dancing firelight, but Snape blocked the spell again. Harry could see him sneering.

"No Unforgivable Curses from you, Potter!" he shouted over the rushing of the flames, Hagrid's yells, and the wild yelping of the trapped Fang. "You haven't got the nerve or the ability."

Harry, the narration tells us, “felt no fear at all, but only rage and contempt.” He wanted Snape to hurt. He wanted him to hurt quite badly. He didn’t know how to cast the Killing Curse, but he cast the worst curse he knew he could perform. It’s likely in the moment he was aware he was attempting to kill Snape, or very least that his death was likely to result from his actions. He was an angry, 16-year-old boy who watched one of his worst enemies betray and murder his dearest mentor, while he sat there powerless to act.

A year earlier, when Harry had also run down an opponent who had killed a man he loved and cast Unforgivable Curses, he was pretty explicit about his intentions.


You are correct that this goes against Harry later using the disarming charm to beat Voldemort. But in both instances he was a young man under severe emotional turmoil. Harry matures and learns to deal with his grief more mature ways, and extend mercy to his enemies. That’s character growth, kids!

  • Harry learns about the killing curse in GoF. Mad Eye (well the imposter version) teaches them about the 3 unforgivables Commented Feb 2, 2021 at 8:46
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    Also, as fake Mad-Eye said- "Using the Avada Kedavra isn't so easy, at most you kids could do is give each other nose-bleeds" (paraphrased).
    – Shreedhar
    Commented Feb 2, 2021 at 9:04
  • @SpacePhoenix One thing is knowing about the curse, another entirely different thing is knowing how to cast it.
    – IloneSP
    Commented Feb 2, 2021 at 9:12
  • @TenthJustice so it's just character growth? Seems odd to me that such in a small time frame one would go from trying to kill someone who killed 1 professor, to not trying to kill someone who's responsible for all the deaths in the series including the said professor. ps. how did Voldemort die with expeliarmus? also, was harry trying to kill Voldemort? cause if he was, then again, I see no reason now to use a killing spell (he would have had to practice it though, but since it's a stronger spell I'd assume he would when preparing. or destroying the horcruxes)
    – raiton
    Commented Feb 2, 2021 at 10:12
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    @SpacePhoenix Plenty. If you could learn a spell with just seeing it being cast, classes in Hogwarts would be really simple. Spells have a specific incantation, a concrete wand movement, require concentration and intent, etc. That's why students have to practice spells in their lessons. Harry and Ron usually have to practice a lot to learn spells (in books we see them messing up Windgardium Leviosa, Silencius, the Freeze Charm...)
    – IloneSP
    Commented Feb 2, 2021 at 11:19

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