Could Avada Kedavra be used legally against werewolves in their transformed state?

Humans turn into werewolves only when bitten. There is no known cure, though recent developments in potion-making have to a great extent alleviated the worst symptoms.

Once a month, at the full moon, the otherwise sane and normal wizard or Muggle afflicted transforms into a murderous beast. Almost uniquely among fantastic creatures, the werewolf actively seeks humans in preference to any other kind of prey [...]

This classification [beast] refers, of course, to the werewolf in its transformed state. When there is no full moon, the werewolf is as harmless as any other human.

Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them - pages 41-42 - Scholastic - An A-Z of Fantastic Beasts

Werewolves are kind of a juxtaposition. They are human, but also beasts -- one of the most dangerous, murderous beasts, in fact, who actively seek out human prey.

‘Now ... those three curses – Avada Kedavra, Imperius and Cruciatus – are known as the Unforgivable Curses. The use of any one of them on a fellow human being is enough to earn a life sentence in Azkaban.' - Mad-Eye Moody

Goblet of Fire - page 192 - Bloomsbury - chapter 14, The Unforgivable Curses

For the entire moon cycle, less the day/days of the full moon, a werewolf is considered a human. During the full moon a werewolf is classified as a beast. If a witch or wizard was to use Avada Kedavra against a human while he/she is transformed into a werewolf, would that be considered legal? Or would the human aspects of the werewolf be enough to send a witch or wizard to Azkaban if he/she used Avada Kedavra and killed a werewolf?

I do not prefer an answer from the HP Wikia or the Wikipedia.

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    "The use of any one of them on a fellow human being is enough to earn a life sentence in Azkaban." It would be possible, and fully in accordance with how criminal justice often works, for the killing of a werewolf via Avada Kedavra to be illegal, but with a sentence less than life. "We couldn't pin the murder rap on him, but we got him for beastslaughter, reckless endangerment, and possession of an unregistered deadly spell." :) Oct 31, 2012 at 14:46
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    A werewolf is a human transformed into a beast. At their core they are still human, so yes it would still be illegal. Additionally, we already had seen evidence that performing unforgivable curses was still illegal even against goblins, so apparently it is not limited to human beings.
    – NominSim
    Oct 31, 2012 at 16:12
  • @NominSim -- According to Mad-Eye Moody, the law of the Unforgivables is limited to humans: ‘Now ... those three curses – Avada Kedavra, Imperius and Cruciatus – are known as the Unforgivable Curses. The use of any one of them on a fellow human being is enough to earn a life sentence in Azkaban.' Can you point me to where canon addresses the issue of the Unforgivables being illegal to use against goblins or any other non-human? I don't recall that offhand. :) Nov 1, 2012 at 3:38
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    @Slytherincess Moody's statement doesn't actually place limitations of the conditions of usage of the curses. All that his statement essentially says is that if someone does X, then Y happens. It could be very well be that the curses are illegal against non-humans and/or animals as well. We've just never seen the law that states this.
    – Force Flow
    Nov 10, 2012 at 9:35
  • @ForceFlow - That question is broached here and it's definitely a good question to consider. For purposes of this question, though, I want to stick to what we do know, not what we don't. We know that use of Avada Kedavra against a human being can result in a life sentence in Azkaban. I'm looking at the aspect of a werewolf being a human 99% of the time, but not human when transformed. Or is there some humanity in a werewolf? That's what I'm interested in. :) Nov 10, 2012 at 16:39

3 Answers 3


If a witch or wizard was to use Avada Kedavra against a human while he/she is transformed into a werewolf, would that be considered legal?

No, it would not be legal.

A werewolf. It is actually a human being with the following properties activated:

  • Cannot control themselves
  • Are hostile
  • And very importantly: they're furry

Now let us think further: None of those properties are their fault - they all come from a disease. A disease: they're humans with a disease that gives such properties.

They're humans. Sick humans. But humans nonetheless.

To put this in a better perspective, let us compare it with the imperius curse plus a transfiguration jinx. A human affected by this can present the following properties:

  • Cannot control themselves (imperius)
  • Are hostile (imperius)
  • They're furry (transfiguration)

The same properties you can find on a werewolf. And yet, this is still a human being - and you shouldn't apply Avada Kedavra on them.

Now then, this combination (imperius with transfiguration) is pretty much the same as the werewolf disease. We know that you should not kill a human who has imperius & transfiguration (because it is not their fault to have such properties), thus, you should not kill a human who is a werewolf (because it is not their fault to have such properties).

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    @Pureferret: Ask your local law-enforcement entity :). I don't know about dogs, but I'm sure that the rules are different in all places. I don't think we should be comparing humans with dogs anyway, nor try to make a real-world analogy at all.
    – Saturn
    Dec 5, 2012 at 20:46
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    I dunno. Your reasoning assumes, well, reason. But there wasn't a lot of clear-headed thinking about werewolves; people were afraid of them, and discriminated against them heavily. I wouldn't expect a werewolf in Harry's day to have any more legal standing than, say, a black person in the 1960s American South.
    – Joe White
    Dec 6, 2012 at 3:34
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    @JoeWhite: Regular wizards were definitely scared and probably wouldn't care about killing werewolves. However, if taken into a formal and legal trial, this logical point stands, and thus, it would be illegal to kill the werewolf.
    – Saturn
    Dec 6, 2012 at 4:02
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    I'm not sure how I feel about the "And they're furry" comment, but fair enough. However, given that they have the "potential" to be useful and civilized human beings for every other day, it seems like a case of self-defense rather than a cut and dry animal killing. Dec 16, 2013 at 12:29
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    @jaked122, true, but one of the unstated premises of the novel seems to be that even in self defense, nonlethal magic is preferred and perhaps even legally mandated. Magicians in the Harry Potter series have a much richer array of nonlethal "weapons" than we do. There's always a nonlethal solution to a conflict, and so it makes sense to restrict the use of lethal "solutions" even in cases of self defense. (This isn't totally alien to the real world; in some US states, you have a "duty to retreat" before defending yourself. If you don't retreat, you can still be convicted of a crime.)
    – senderle
    Apr 30, 2014 at 14:18

This is an interesting question, but unfortunately, I just don't think we have enough information from books, films, videogames, Pottermore or any other media that I can think of to answer it. I would say that a lot of the answers given so far have drawn too much from our real-world legal and ethical systems, to the point of speculation. J.K. Rowling would be the only person who knows just what the Wizarding definitions of human and animal are.

I mean, what about Animagi? If an Animagus was hit with the Avada Kedavra while in his/her animal form, would that be deemed as an act warranting life-term imprisonment? Yes, werewolves have no control over their actions, as opposed to animagi, but Sirius Black himself stated that his emotions are less human and complex when he is transformed - so how much of the human can be said to have been murdered if the transformed person has a part-animal mind? Like I said, only Rowling could answer this, we can only speculate. Fantastic question, though!


I think your questions are better suited to Joanne herself. In my opinion no, not legally. But I'm sure Cornelius Fudge would make excuses if someone like Umbridge (From the Ministry) killed a werewolf. But they cannot help themselves and it's not their fault if they were bitten by someone like Fenrir Greyback. What I want to know is why people critise werewolves so much? They're just as human as we are, therefore have the same rights.

I don't think Crucio would be legal but in LIFE THREATANING conditions the imperius curse could be used to send the werewolf away. To stop a werewolf transforming, you could use a wolfsbane potion, and then there would be no need to use any curse or spell against it. enter image description here

  • Is the first part of the statement canon? Nov 13, 2013 at 16:47
  • I'm not sure Imperio would work (but I have no proof in any case). But it's simple why they're looked down upon. Racism. Bigotry. Blood purity. In other words bias.
    – Pryftan
    Oct 18, 2017 at 17:08

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