It seems that whenever there are siblings, their magical abilities differ greatly:

  • Mediocre Ron vs his rather brilliant older brothers, especially twins.

  • Aberforth vs Albus Dumbledore

  • Patil sisters (one is a Ravenclaw nerd, one is Gryffindore, and not the best student at that).


  1. Did JKR comment in any way on this phenomena?

  2. Is it really a pattern, or are there tons of examples that would show my impression to be incorrect?

  • 1
    I have no canon reference, but I would guess this just is similar to the way that normal siblings are good at different things. Other sibling pairings that might bear considering: Peverell brothers, Narcissa Malfoy/Bellatrix Lestrange, Carrows, Creevey brothers. None of those strike me as obviously imbalanced.
    – alexwlchan
    Dec 17, 2013 at 23:22
  • 2
    @alexwlchan - we don't know enough about Narcissa as a witch (nor Andromeda), ditto Carrows and Creeveys. Peverells seem different in skill judging by result (easier to make a good wand than a stone that raises the dead) Dec 18, 2013 at 1:12
  • @DVK - I had thought the Hallows were given to the Peverells, not crafted?
    – JohnP
    Jan 17, 2014 at 22:52
  • 1
    @JohnP - Dumbledore says you're wrong :) Jan 18, 2014 at 1:05
  • 1
    @DVK - But Beedle says I'm right :p
    – JohnP
    Jan 18, 2014 at 6:42

4 Answers 4


JKR hasn't out right said why this happens but I feel that Dumbledore's quote: "It is our choices, Harry, that show what we truly are, far more than our abilities" and the quote: "You fail to recognize that it matters not what someone is born, but what they grow to be" both apply. A great example is the Black family. Sirius broke the mold in that he was in Gryffindor and everyone else, including his brother, Regulus black were in Slytherin. Later in life they were affiliated with Voldemort and the Death Eaters, whereas Sirius was in the Order of the Phoenix. Yes, Regulus took the Horcrux, when he realized Voldemort's plan, further proving that the difference in siblings is by choice and by their own discoveries of who they are. This can be seen in regular siblings. They all do share some common qualities among them, but of course there is always the sibling that breaks the mold. Maybe this is the pattern you are looking for?

Harry's children show this in the Deathly Hallows. Harry's children were comfortable with their magical abilities and didn't question it, except the youngest son, Albus, who was worried that he would be placed in Slytherin. Harry also emphasizes to his son that the sorting hat does take into consideration the house you choose to be in, showing that it is our choices of who we are and what we are good at.

  • Being in Slytherin vs Gryffindor isn't really indicative of anything as far as abilities, just personality. Unless you're Ravenclaw, your abilities don't affect your house Dec 18, 2013 at 20:06
  • For example, we know Sirius was good at magic (from PoA comments about him and James being top students) but we don't know anything about Regulus - he could have been OK or bad or good Dec 18, 2013 at 20:07

No, JKR has not explicitly commented on this phenomenon. The skills of siblings do not follow any specific pattern. They differ from person to person just like twins differ in personality. One could say that the magic persona of each witch/wizard will be different irrespective of bloodlines, just like their personalities.


I believe you have pointed out the answer in your question without realizing it.

The difference between all of the greaters vs lessers is their intelligence and concentration (another factor of intelligence.)


Yes, but it's nothing special

Magical talent appears to be largely a matter of mundane skills, applied to a magical subject. Intelligent wizard or witches, such as Hermione Granger, Albus Dumbledore, or Tom Riddle, are generally those who are perceived as possessing powerful magic. Of course, other attributes can one a powerful witch or wizard, such as love or strength of will, but all of these are ordinary attributes. Since siblings often have certain differences in these various traits, it is not surprising that their magical skills will differ.

In addition, the cases mentioned in the question are so extreme as one might think:

  • The Weasley family has seven children. It is unsurprising that, of this group, one will be somewhat less talented than the others. Note that Ron still possessed many talents, such as his chess skills. He simply did not have the attributes that made his siblings as skilled at magic.
  • We don't know what Padma and Parvati's relative talents are. Intellect does not disqualify one from Gryffindor.
  • While not as skilled as Dumbledore, Aberforth is a powerful wizard by himself. He can produce a strong Patronus, for example.

We have plenty of examples of siblings who do not even appear to differ in magical talen:

  • Colin and Dennis Creevey

  • Sirius Black and Regulus Arcturus Black

  • Merope and Morfin Gaunt

    Although Merope's magic was suppressed by trauma early on, she was able to use it once her father was gone.

  • not to mention Lilly and Petunia for the most extreme example
    – NKCampbell
    Aug 2, 2016 at 17:06
  • @NKCampbell - I think Lily and Petunia are actually an example that is in accord with the hypothesis proposed in the question.
    – Adamant
    Aug 2, 2016 at 17:29
  • I was meaning to say it could be easily added to your list of examples of siblings w/ different magical abilities. Additionally, Martha, daughter of Isolt (founder of ilvermorny), was a Squib, while her sister Rionach was a witch
    – NKCampbell
    Aug 2, 2016 at 18:02

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