9

"Not nice," he said calmly. "Not pleasant. And there's no countercurse. There's no blocking it. (GoF, Ch 14 - THE UNFORGIVABLE CURSES)

As some commenters to this question pointed out, you shouldn't really take Barty Crouch Jr.'s word at face value.

As such, do we have canon confirmaton of this Avada Kedavra fact (can't be blocked, aside from sacrificial love magic as seen in Lily/Harry case), besides GoF statement by Crouch?

Canon means books, JKR statements/interviews or Pottermore.

UPDATE: I obviously did NOT mean "blocking physically, like what Dumbledore did with the statue at the Ministry"; rather, blocking via magical means.

  • Did Barty know that the power of Love could protect someone from AK's effect? He was well and truly a DE; and they're not known for their beliefs in (or knowledge of) the Power of Love. – Möoz Apr 8 '14 at 5:17
7

It can be blocked, but not reliably

When Avada Kedavra is referred to as "unblockable," this refers only to magical protection, and only to the knowledge of the people referring to it as such. Bartemius Crouch Jr. is our main source on the unblockability of the Killing Curse. We can presume that, as a noted Death Eater, he knows what he is talking about.

The only cases, beside sacrifical magic, where the Killing Curse is shown as being blocked were rather rare situations:

  1. The Elder Wand would not kill Harry, and so when Voldemort attempted to kill Harry with it, his spell rebounded off of Harry's and killed him.

    The bang was like a cannon blast, and the golden flames that erupted between them, at the dead center of the circle they had been treading, marked the point where the spells collided. Harry saw Voldemort’s green jet meet his own spell, saw the Elder Wand fly high, dark against the sunrise, spinning across the enchanted ceiling like the head of Nagini, spinning through the air toward the master it would not kill, who had come to take full possession of it at last.

    Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows

  2. Because Voldemort and Harry's wands shared cores, when Voldemort attempted to kill Harry, shortly after the former's resurrection, they experienced Priori Incantatem.

    “They will not work properly against each other,” said Dumbledore. “If, however, the owners of the wands force the wands to do battle . . . a very rare effect will take place. One of the wands will force the other to regurgitate spells it has performed — in reverse. The most recent first . . . and then those which preceded it. . . .”

    Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire

    In this case, the spells from the wands also collided, and due to the shared cores some rather odd effects occurred:

    A jet of green light issued from Voldemort’s wand just as a jet of red light blasted from Harry’s — they met in midair — and suddenly Harry’s wand was vibrating as though an electric charge were surging through it; his hand seized up around it; he couldn’t have released it if he’d wanted to — and a narrow beam of light connected the two wands, neither red nor green, but bright, deep gold. Harry, following the beam with his astonished gaze, saw that Voldemort’s long white fingers too were gripping a wand that was shaking and vibrating.

    Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire

Interestingly, the common factor here seems to be that Avada Kedavra collided with another spell. Dumbledore's phrasing is telling: the wands are "doing battle." In second case, Harry and Voldemort matched wills to see which wand was victorious. In the first, Voldemort's wand essentially gave up the battle, since its allegiance was to Harry.

It seems likely, then, that Avada Kedavra can be blocked if it directly collides with another spell. However, we are not shown what the results would be, except in two unique situations.


One might suppose that the Shield Charm can protect against Avada Kedavra, based on this scene from Deathly Hallows:

He was searching for Voldemort and saw him across the room, firing spells from his wand as he backed into the Great hall, still screaming instructions to his followers as he sent curses flying left and right; Harry cast more Shield Charms, and Voldemort’s would-be victims, Seamus Finnigan and Hannah Abbott, darted past him into the Great Hall, where they joined the fight already flourishing inside it.

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows

This seems unlikely, though. Shield Charms are one of the most basic self-defense tools, and certainly Avada Kedavra would not be referred to as unblockable if such a generic counterspell could block it.

“So we’ve expanded into a range of Shield Cloaks, Shield Gloves . . .”

“. . . I mean, they wouldn’t help much against the Unforgivable Curses, but for minor to moderate hexes or jinxes . . .”

Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince

Perhaps Voldemort was casting spells other than Avada Kedavra (unlikely, but possible). More likely, it is the same explanation as before: Harry's sacrifice, which he mistakenly attributed to the Shield Charms.

"—I meant to, and that’s what it did. I’ve done what my mother did. They’re protected from you. Haven’t you noticed how none of the spells you put on them are binding? You can’t torture them. You can’t touch them. You don’t learn from your mistakes, Riddle, do you?”

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows

  • It is possible that Voldemort was casting other spells. He doesn’t want any magical blood to spill – atayenel Oct 2 '17 at 16:57
7

Yes, it can be blocked: Dumbledore blocked it by putting physical barriers in the way (he animated the statues in the Ministry of Magic)
And Harry did cast Protego to protect Mrs Weasley from Voldemort's Avada Kedavra.
And Barty Crouch Jr. did state that it takes a large amount of power to cast the death spell. He said all the students could point their wands at him and all he would get is a nosebleed.
Barty Jr also said there is no counter curse but Harry did use Protego; so either Barty Jr. was lying, or it's a plot hole or Harry was able to over power Voldemort's spell.
As far as canon is concerned: all of this is from the books if I'm not mistaken.
Ok, I forgot to mention that technically Priori Incantantem did block AK too but that's only because of the affinity between Harry and Voldemort's wands...

  • 4
    "And Harry did cast Protego to protect Mrs Weasley from Voldemort's Avada Kedavra." - it was never stated in canon whether that Protego would have worked; what blocked - or rather, rendered harmless - Voldemort's AK was Harry's sacrifice. Harry cast the shield, but Voldemort never fired the AK at it, so we just don't know. – DVK-on-Ahch-To Jun 3 '13 at 1:31
  • Good point re: physical objects, I was only thinking about magical blocking but was too sloppy in wording, so +1 despite my Q edit which sadly renders your answer incorrect. – DVK-on-Ahch-To Jun 3 '13 at 1:31
  • @DVK: I'll take a deeper look at the Protego scene and I updated my answer since you were looking specifically for a spell – djm Jun 3 '13 at 1:37
  • And Fawkes should get an honorable mention because he ate a death spell and survived (reborn from the ashes) – djm Jun 3 '13 at 16:48
  • Technically, none of these actually block Avada Kedavra, except the physical barriers. They prevent it, or redirect, or just accept it to cause a secondary effect. Blocking implies that you can cast a spell against AK, or on yourself/others that immediately negates an incoming AK, which isn't doable. If you accept these answers then you must also accept all other secondary-effect spells such as Accio Mrs. Weasley to move someone out of the way of an incoming AK, which is silly. – user31178 Jan 15 '15 at 6:19
4

Crouch says that it cannot be blocked in front of Hermione, the smartest in her year who certainly had already read up on Avada Kedavra. She was even the one that answered with "Avada Kedavra" when Crouch asked the class about the different unforgivable curses. We have also seen that she has had no problems correcting even teachers in the past, and certainly she would have mentioned it if Crouch had been wrong about it being unblockable. Even if she hadn't mentioned it right then, she likely would have mentioned it later on had she learned of it being blockable, as it would be very important information.

So no, barring some new canon information being added Avada Kedavra cannot be blocked, it can only be survived due to protection from sacrificial love, or physical blocking of the spell.

I should point out that your question is asking for canon evidence of something not being possible. While it isn't (as the common phrase claims) "impossible to prove a negative", the only true answer would be for someone to scour the books and other canon materials to search for evidence of Avada Kedavra being blocked magically. As far as I know, that evidence does not exist.

  • Not really. It could also be some character confirming that it can't be blocked (e.g Hermione, or one of Order members) explicitly. Or AK entry. on Pottermore. While Hermione not saying anything is good circumstantial evidence, it doesn't prove anything - presumably, the books regularly used by her don't concentrate on AK during 4th year; so it's quite possible she just wouldn't know the intricate details of defeating it even if they existed. – DVK-on-Ahch-To Jun 3 '13 at 10:28
  • 1
    My point was that the task trying to prove a negative (that it can't be blocked) without an actual example of it being blocked (there is none) can only be done with circumstantial evidence. If you don't accept the only canon evidence we have pertaining to the curse to be truthful (Crouch's statement, the acceptance of his statement from Hermione et al., it never happening within the books) then you'll have a hard time finding an acceptable answer. – NominSim Jun 3 '13 at 17:51
1

I've been asking myself the same question, because the fact that Harry was able to shield Voldemort's curses in the final battle of "The Deathly Hallows" seemed at the very least puzzling. The conclusion I came to is that Voldemort was casting those spells with the Elder Wand, which as we are to discover shortly afterwards, only truly responded to Harry, who, thus, was able to block them.

0

Only with a physical object. However, competent wizards should be able to conjure up a solid object in front of the spell, so in essence it is possible to parry it with magic indirectly.

0

At the beginning of the final book Harry blocks the killing curse using a stunning spell and the spells were being fired from random death eaters not Voldemort. It says, and I'm summarizing here, the Death Eater were shooting death curses at Hagrid and Harry fires back with stunning spells. When the red and green spells met in midair they caused a multicolored explosion. So it would seem that a standard magical spell can block it and with it being random Death Eaters, Harry's wand has no special power over their wands and it's also before the elder wand involvement.

  • 1
    Hi there! If you could edit in a quote from the book - that would make for a better answer :) – Jenayah Feb 8 at 19:11
-1

What about "Protego horribilis" a very powerful shielding charm described as "causing anything within the ranges of Dark Magic to rebound off the shield."

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.