In Harry Potter book 4 (Goblet of Fire) Harry's wand 'links' with Voldemort's during their duel, and Voldemort's wand begins 'spitting out' each spell it had cast, in reverse order. This produces false 'ghosts' of people he had killed with Avada Kedavra. In the US printing, James Potter appears, followed by Lily.

If the spell order was supposed to be reversed, why did Harry's father's "ghost" emerge before his mother's, since it's repeatedly stated (before and after) that he died first?

  • can you add some details here, like which scene, spell, etc? I've read the books but can't place what you mean. Commented Mar 25, 2011 at 10:55
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    @Wikis - I assume he meant the linking of the two wands when Harry was dueling Voldermort and V.'s wand emitted the ghosts of all the people it killed in reverse. Commented Mar 25, 2011 at 11:37
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    Edited the question for clarity and to make it less likely to be closed. It's still a pretty simple, googlable question, but now it's at least readable.
    – Jeff
    Commented Mar 25, 2011 at 13:57
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    Just a note, that phenomenon is called Priori Incantatem.
    – Swanand
    Commented May 4, 2011 at 11:56

1 Answer 1


JK Rowling got it wrong. She actually had it right, her editor told her that it was wrong, and she changed it to be the wrong way. This was corrected in later versions.

The explanation was previously on her official site, but her site has undergone a major rehaul recently. In any case, I tracked down the original quote, and have included it below.

At the end of 'Goblet of Fire', in which order should Harry's parents have come out of the wand?

Lily first, then James. That’s how it appears in my original manuscript but we were under enormous pressure to edit it very fast and my American editor thought that was the wrong way around, and he is so good at catching small errors I changed it without thinking, then realised it had been right in the first place. We were all very sleep-deprived at the time.

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    cool. do you have a source for this?
    – bookworm
    Commented Mar 25, 2011 at 13:06
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    I took the liberty of adding the source for you. Feel free to revert if you so desire.
    – Jeff
    Commented Mar 25, 2011 at 13:54
  • The cited link no longer works.
    – Dylan Yaga
    Commented Nov 2, 2012 at 17:59
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    Interestingly, the current US Kindle text replicates the error in the first US printing, in a different location: chapter 36, "The Parting of the Ways". One sentence reads: "He could see Cedric emerging, see the old man, Bertha Jorkins...his father...his mother...". We could argue that Harry remembered the people out of order (but only his parents, the rest being consistent). But it seems likelier that this sentence was consistent with the actual scene in the first printing, and that this remembrance went mistakenly uncorrected when the scene was corrected. Commented Jul 28, 2013 at 5:20

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