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We see a lot of Avada Kadavra being thrown around by Death Eaters, and we know that Neville's parents suffered the curses personally, but besides a rather gruesome demonstration on a spider, I don't recall the two other unforgiveable curses being put to much use in the books or movies; though admittedly I only saw the movie version of anything past "Goblet of Fire" (I wasn't much into the angst Harry was going through from Order of the Phoenix and onward).

Focusing on the books, were the other two unforgiveable curses ever used on someone in-canon? Not just a reference to a past use, but one that happens to a character in the time of the war against Voldemort and Harry's attendance at Hogwarts?

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Yes, on both counts. (Spoilers for post-GoF)


Cruciatus curse

The Cruciatus curse gets used by Harry on Bellatrix Lestrange, as she flees the Department of Mysteries in Order of the Phoenix:

Hatred rose in Harry such as he had never known before; he flung himself out from behind the fountain and bellowed, “Crucio!”

Bellatrix screamed: the spell had knocked her off her feet, but she did not writhe and shriek with pain as Neville had - she was already back on her feet, breathless, no longer laughing. Harry dodged behind the golden fountain again. Her counter-spell hit the head of the handsome wizard, which was blown off and landed twenty feet away, gouging long scratches into the wooden floor.

“Never used an Unforgivable Curse before, have you, boy?” she yelled. She had abandoned her baby voice now. “You need to mean them, Potter! You need to really want to cause pain – to enjoy it – righteous anger won’t hurt me for long – I’ll show you how it is done, shall I? I’ll give you a lesson—”

This is after Bellatrix has killed Sirius, Harry’s only remaining family member, so he’s understandably angry.

If that doesn’t count, then Bellatrix also uses it on Neville in the same fight:

Bellatrix raised her wand. “Crucio!”

Neville screamed, his legs drawn up to his chest so that the Death Eater holding him was momentarily holding him off the ground. The Death Eater dropped him and he fell to the floor, twitching and screaming in agony.


Imperius curse

The Imperius curse is used (also by Harry) when the trio break into Gringotts bank. At the time, one of the goblins is about to blow their cover, so Harry needs to stop him doing so. (At this point, the trio have been branded criminals, and in disguise.)

Harry raised the hawthorn wand beneath the cloak, pointed it at the old goblin, and whispered, for the first time in his life, “Imperio!”

A curious sensation shot down Harry’s arm, a feeling of tingling warmth that seemed to flow from his mind, down the sinews and veins connecting him to the wand and the curse it had just cast.


There are plenty of other instances where the curses are used throughout the books (and films), but hopefully the two examples above are sufficient to show that yes, all three curses were used.

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  • I'm not sure the first one counts, as it was more of an attempted curse than an actual curse. I remember someone using Crucio on Harry though... – starsplusplus Apr 17 '14 at 17:28
  • @starsplusplus: Fine, second example added where it does get used. – alexwlchan Apr 17 '14 at 17:29
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    Also, the DE's talk about having members of the Ministry under the Imperius curse. All of them are used quite extensively for being "Unforgiveable". – JohnP Apr 19 '14 at 5:08
  • In the Last Book the Minister of Magic himself (Pius Thickness) is under Imperious curse) – user13267 Apr 19 '14 at 9:26
  • Also someone uses Crucio on Harry when he's believed to be dead – Oak Mar 16 '15 at 6:41
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Also Barty Crouch, SR kept Barty Crouch, JR under imperious curse after breaking him out of Azkaban.

Draco Malfoy kept Madame Rosmerta under Imperious when undertaking his "task" to kill Dumbledore.

Harry also used the cruciatus on Amycus Carrow (successfully, versus when he attempted it on Bellatrix Lestrange)

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Yes, in The Goblet of Fire, the Imperius curse is used on Viktor Krum in the third task of the Triwizard Tournament.

He's too late, she's [Fleur Delacour] disappeared. He [Harry] sends up a red spark into the air. A heavy wind starts blowing, walls are closing in, Harry runs. Harry sees something shining in the distance and he moves towards it Viktor tries to zap him but misses.

CEDRIC: Get down!

Harry ducks and Viktor gets zapped by Cedric. Cedric runs up and kicks the wand out of Viktor's hand. He points his wand at Viktor's body as if to finish him off, Harry runs up and intervenes.

HARRY: No stop! He's bewitched, Cedric. (source)

The Cruciatus Curse is used on Harry shortly after Voldemort kills Cedric.

Voldemort raised his wand, and before Harry could do anything to defend himself, before he could even move, he had been hit again by the Cruciatus curse. The pain was so intense, so all-consuming, that he no longer knew where he was... white-hot knives were piercing every inch of his skin, his head was surely going to burst with pain; he was screaming more loudly than he'd ever screamed in his life — (source)

Harry attempts to use the Cruciatus Curse on Bellatrix Lestrange after she kills Sirius in Order of the Phoenix.

Hatred rose in Harry such as he had never known before: he flung himself out from behind the fountain and bellowed, "Crucio!"

Bellatrix screamed: the spell had knocked her off her feet, but she did not writhe and shriek with pain as Neville had – she was already back on her feet, breathless, no longer laughing. [...]

"Never used an Unforgivable Curse before, have you, boy?" she yelled. She had abandoned her baby voice now. "You need to mean them, Potter! You need to really want to cause pain – to enjoy it – righteous anger won't hurt me for long – I'll show you how it is done, shall I? I'll give you a lesson —" (source)

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  • Victor Krum was "bewitched"; does that necessarily imply that he was under the Imperius curse? – Keith Thompson Apr 19 '14 at 6:58
  • I couldn't find the actual passage from the book, but it did say later on that he was imperiused. – Dragona13 Apr 20 '14 at 2:20
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The Unforgivable Curses are used as early as Chapter 14 in Goblet of Fire (by Barty Crouch Jr.) on the spiders, and after that, all three are used at least once. For example, in Order of the Phoenix, Bellatrix kills Sirius with the Killing Curse, and Harry used the Cruciatus Curse on her. However, the Imperius Curse isn't used again until Deathly Hallows, when Harry uses it to help them break into Gringotts. But, to answer the question, yes, all three Unforgivable Curses are used in canon.

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Yes, there are numerous accounts of both spells being used in the books as well as the movies

For a complete list, see these articles on the HP wikia: http://harrypotter.wikia.com/wiki/Cruciatus_Curse#Known_uses http://harrypotter.wikia.com/wiki/Imperius_Curse#Known_practitioners_and_uses

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In Deathly Hallows, Harry uses the Cruciatus curse in Ravenclaw Tower upon Amycus Carrow after he spat on McGonagall

As Amycus spun around, Harry shouted, "Crucio!" The Death Eater was lifted off his feet. He writhed through the air >like a drowning man, thrashing and howling in pain, and then, with a crunch and a shattering of glass, he smashed into the front of a bookcase and crumpled, insensible, to the floor. "I see what Bellatrix meant," said Harry, the blood thundering through his brain, "you need to really mean it." Deathly Hallows

Also, in HBP, Malfoy used the Imperius curse upon Madam Rosmerta, who, in turn, used the Imperius curse upon Katie Bell to get her to deliver the cursed necklace to Dumbledore.

At Malfoy Manor, Bellatrix interrogated Hermione about her vault, and used the Cruciatus curse on her when Hermione denied having ever entered for Bellatrix thought she was lying.

In DH, Crabbe, Goyle and the Carrows used the Cruciatus curse upon members of Dumbledore's Army.

In GoF, Krum used it upon Cedric, while Krum himself was under the Imperius cursed, placed by Barty Crouch Jr.

Stan Shunpike was said to have been placed under the Imperius curse to assist the Death Eaters.

McGonagall used the Imperius Curse upon Amycus Carrow to keep him in Ravenclaw tower until the battle was over so he would not tell the other Death Eaters Harry was in the castle.

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