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So there are quite a few ghosts in Harry Potter, but none of them seem to go anywhere exotic. They mostly hang around familiar places or decide to haunt some building (the Hogwarts ghosts "haunt" Hogwarts).

Is this because they can't go anywhere strange, because they don't want to, or because we don't hear about the ones that do?

In various fictional settings there are different rules. Sometimes, it's "a ghost can only go where they've been while alive." Is this true in Harry Potter?

If not, are there any other limitations? Could a ghost float to the core of the Earth? Into outer space? To infinity, and beyond?

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In the Goblet of Fire (chapter "The Egg and The Eye"), Myrtle explains how her body was found by Olive Hornby after her death:

'And then she saw my body … ooooh, she didn't forget it until her dying day, I made sure of that … followed her around and reminded her, I did, I remember at her brothers wedding –'

[…]

'– and then, of course, she went to the Ministry of Magic to stop me stalking her, so I had to come back here and live in my toilet.'

Assuming Olive Hornby tried to get rid of Myrtle before she went to the Ministry, she likely moved someplace Myrtle has never been alive (which couldn't have been hard considering Myrtle died when she was a teenager).

So Myrtle has likely visited some new place – although it is also possible that Myrtle stalked Olive Hornby only when she visited Diagon Alley or other public places where Myrtle has been while alive.

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  • Thanks for the edit! (Myrtle is called "Myrte" in the German translation.)
    – Max Merz
    May 23, 2013 at 11:01
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    There's nothing in the passages you quoted that suggests that Myrtle's ghost was restricted to places she'd visited in life. If anything, it's the opposite -- she was able to follow Olive around even after Hogwarts, apparently without restriction (until the Ministry intervened).
    – Joe White
    May 23, 2013 at 12:48
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    @JoeWhite If she can go anywhere, why on earth does she live in a toilet?
    – user867
    Mar 10, 2016 at 4:23
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Ghosts do not seem to be restricted to areas they had been in while alive - presumably, Myrtle was never in a toilet while living.

From what has been shown of ghosts, it seems unlikely that they can only go where they’ve been while alive, unless they can go into new places if they’re in a building they’ve been in before because Myrtle goes into several parts of Hogwarts she almost certainly had not been while alive. She’s been flushed down a toilet into the lake, and she would not have been through the Hogwarts plumbing while alive.

“Underwater …’ Harry said slowly. ‘Myrtle … what lives in the lake, apart from the giant squid?’

‘Oh, all sorts,’ she said. ‘I sometimes go down there … sometimes don’t have any choice, if someone flushes my toilet when I’m not expecting it …’

Trying not to think about Moaning Myrtle zooming down a pipe to the lake with the contents of a toilet, Harry said, ‘Well, does anything in there have human voices? Hang on –”
- Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, Chapter 25 (The Egg and the Eye)

It was unlikely that she was ever in the Prefect’s bathroom while alive, since relatively few students are ever made Prefects, and if she died before her fifth year she would have been too young to be eligible to be one, but she goes into the Prefect’s bathroom to spy on them.

“Oh … I see …’ said Myrtle, picking at a spot on her chin in a morose sort of way. ‘Well … anyway … I’d try the egg in the water. That’s what Cedric Diggory did.’

‘Have you been spying on him, too?’ said Harry indignantly. ‘What d’you do, sneak up here in the evenings to watch the Prefects take baths?’

‘Sometimes,’ said Myrtle, rather slyly, ‘but I’ve never come out to speak to anyone before.”
- Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, Chapter 25 (The Egg and the Eye)

Additionally, she likes to sit in the U-bend of the toilet, which she also presumably has never been in while alive.

“I don’t know … I was just sitting in the U-bend, thinking about death, and it fell right through the top of my head,’ said Myrtle, glaring at them.”
- Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, Chapter 13 (The Very Secret Diary)

Therefore ghosts are not strictly restricted to only places they have been while alive. There is a possibility that they might be restricted to only staying within buildings they have been in while alive, but this seems less likely, as their soul would still not have travelled those areas of the building.

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Looks like you're asking a more general question about ghost than about the ghost in HP, nonetheless, in HP, when Sirius died, Nearly Headless Nick told Harry that Sirius will 'move on' indicate that Sirius will go to the after-life while Nick decided to stay on Hogwarts, as he told Harry that not all people want to 'let go', so I think it's up to each person choice.

A ghost can only go where they've been while alive, it's partly true, considering the soul (or ghost I must say) of Harry's mom and dad always appeared when Harry need them.

The limitation, I suppose there's no limit to my imagination, but it's rather hard for me to imagine a ghost, who's so attached to his/her loved ones, to leave them and go on a trip to space, hahaha.

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