Sectumsempra is pretty good at killing unless specifically healed, but that's pretty extreme.

I could probably kill someone by Petrificus Totalus-ing them into a lake. I would imagine Accio books could be quite painful to a target standing in the way. Could do Accio knives for a rather more deadly effect.

So... why bother with Avada Kedavra when such relatively simple "solutions" exist for killing?

  • 6
    Accio Knives! And then they all hit the target with their handles, or on their sides. :P Apr 29, 2014 at 12:42
  • 16
    @TheDragonRiderwhoLived Or worse, they all miss the interceding target, but reach YOU just fine.
    – Zibbobz
    Apr 29, 2014 at 13:07
  • 19
    @Zibbobz Since you're the one who summoned them, they would arrive in a suitable way for you to receive them - imagine if Accio Firebolt resulted in Harry getting a faceful of twigs moments before being burned to a crisp... Apr 29, 2014 at 13:10
  • 18
    I just imagined it, and it was hilarious.
    – Zibbobz
    Apr 29, 2014 at 13:12
  • 9
    You sound like a sneaky psychopath with this question :P
    – John Odom
    Apr 29, 2014 at 14:02

6 Answers 6


Avada Kedavra cannot be countered; this is why it is used by evil people so much. You also cannot cure someone who has been struck by AK. The only known counter is sacrificial magic (AKA how Harry survived).

Throughout the HP series it is demonstrated how easily usual muggle illnesses, afflictions and wounds are cured in a matter of moments.

Lockhart hadn’t mended Harry’s bones. He had removed them.
Madam Pomfrey wasn’t at all pleased. “You should have come straight to me!” she raged, holding up the sad, limp remainder of what, half an hour before, had been a working arm. “I can mend bones in a second — but growing them back —”

It would be foolish to think they don't have a more prudent manner of extracting water from lungs or healing a knife wound (A knife wound also would not be a dark magic inflicted wound, and so would be easier to heal than Sectumsempra).

"Will George be okay?" All Lupin's frustration with Harry seemed to drain away at the question. "I think so, although there's no chance of replacing his ear, not when it's been cursed off –"

  • 2
    That is fairly accurate. People could be revived from lungs full of water and knife wounds and sword slashes.. E.g - Arthur Weasely fully recovered from being mauled and bitten over and over by Nagini...
    – Stark07
    Apr 29, 2014 at 10:27
  • 3
    I could be wrong, since I've only read Deathly Hallows once (as opposed to a dozen times for the earlier books), but didn't one of the Weasley twins have his ear blown off? Wasn't that unhealable? Apr 29, 2014 at 10:28
  • Ah, I see. That makes sense. Apr 29, 2014 at 10:30
  • 1
    @Simon That's because Snape got there in time to actually heal Malfoy. If he had gotten there too late Malfoy would have probably died from blood loss. Apr 29, 2014 at 13:11
  • @Simon Is Sectumsempra not dark magic? Hard to imagine that being neutral magic. What exactly constitutes dark magic, anyway? I genuinely don't know/am curious.
    – Mdev
    Apr 29, 2014 at 21:25

I think the question is really “Why bother with Avada Kedavra?”

Both the Imperius and Cruciatus curses can also be used to inflict death indirectly (curse somebody in such a way that they can’t or don’t stop a 16-ton weight falling on them, say).

The advantage of Avada Kedavra as a tool for killing is that it’s instantaneous.

Almost no protection can stop it, it complete its work in seconds, and once it’s done, there’s no recourse.

The indirect methods you describe could all be deflected or reverted, but a blast of Avada Kedavra is absolute. As we see in canon, Sectumsepra can be healed (albeit partially), flying objects could probably be diverted with Protego (or just duck!), somebody could lift Petrificus Totalus or fish you out of the lake. I wouldn’t call any of those as “simple” as a quick blast of the death curse.

Of course, that’s also why you’d want to be sparing in using it. If you hit the wrong person with a creative method, you could undo the damage. Won’t work so well with Avada Kedavra. See Why don't Death Eaters always use Avada Kedavra? and Why were the Death Eaters so lenient during the fight at the Department of Mysteries? for more discussion of that.

  • 4
    Although; Avada Kedavra's still not as bad as fresh fruit, right?... Apr 29, 2014 at 20:29
  • 1
    @leftaroundabout: We've done the passion fruit! Apr 30, 2014 at 7:23
  • 3
    At six syllables in two words, it's also fast to cast -- If you're not already moving by the 'va' sound you aren't going to get clear no matter what you try, and almost any possible counter curse will take longer to cast than you have time left to try to do so.
    – Shadur
    Apr 30, 2014 at 9:36

Out-of-Universe POV.


Assassination, torture, and infringement of personal liberties are seen as horrible things and even a slight against democracy in modern western civilization.

Respect for Human Rights is a part of the Zeitgeist of most nations in the whole world, thus, Rowling, a member of one of these nations, has imputed the negative weight of these taboos in the Magical World to the three Unforgivable Curses: Avada Kedrava, which kills an individual; Crucius, which tortures an individual; and last but not least Imperius, a curse that prevents individuals to enact their free will.

You could also take it from a moral perspective, to do this, let's take a quick look at what each of the Unforgivable Curses does:

Avada Kedrava

Kills the individual to which the curse was aimed at.


It causes extreme pain to the individual to which the curse was aimed at.


It allows the caster to control all of the actions of the individual to which the curse was aimed at.

Modern "western" society

Since the French Revolution, with its famous motto Liberté, égalité, fraternité, the western values suffered a turn on its social structure and hierarchy, with the given time, the western nations were moving from their very powered-centered society to a more democratic and republican approach.

This will lead to nations where the "voice" of their population is heard and have weight on determining the permanence of the people in positions of power. Humanity sees, for the first time in modern history, an elite that needs to seek legitimation from the general population.

We advance a few centuries in time and we have multiple democratic (some are quasi-democratic and others are straight autocratic states) and powerful nations coming to a clash in WWII. This war has the biggest loss in human terms from the entire human history and is the source of many of the most horrendous cruelties that the modern world has seen.

So, in 1945 the UN is created and in 1948 the world witnessed the creation of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. The UN founding and the Human Rights Declaration are a direct answer to this war's barbarities. In the Declaration you can find the following articles (highlightings are mine):

Article 1 - All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights. They are endowed with reason and conscience and should act towards one another in a spirit of brotherhood.

Article 3 - Everyone has the right to life, liberty and security of person.

Article 5 - No one shall be subjected to torture or to cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment.

The morals behind these articles - even though most people don't know that they exist as articles 1, 3 and 5 of the Human Rights Declaration - are an inherent part of what western civilization considers as good.

Killing, torturing, and unfairly depriving people of their liberties are no longer tolerated by the republican societies that comprise a considerable part of the western civilization.

As history went on, the population started to become more aware of their needs, rights, and duties, thus as a society, throughout history, we were conditioned to think that our rights should be defended at all costs, and any attack against our rights (here exemplified by the right of life, of well being and of freedom) are seen as inherently bad.

Rowling just took three of these essential rights and imputed the weight of harming them to three Unforgivable Curses in the Magic World of Harry Potter. For Rowling (and for most of Western society), these are the three most clear examples of attacks against human being integrity.

Even though you can kill people in the world of Harry Potter by other means as OP mentioned in his question, these three curses were tailored to directly go against these three basic rights that all human beings are entitled to have according to the values of most western (and non-western as well) societies.

Fiction is only one of the many mirrors that reflects the current condition and awareness of our society, so it's normal to see props such as curses, tech, charms, magic rings - and the examples go on and on - that, when approached from afar, will ultimately reflect our fears, insecurities, moral values, and many other aspects of the human society and nature.


What about a simpler solution: just seco on the neck?

Two more versions on "why using unforgivable" from me: a) avada is ensuring death. So, one someone is hit with it, the attacker can immediately do something else, "fire and forget". b), probably more importantly, it is a dark curse. So, using it a few times (as bad guys would do) sort of forces one to continue using it. Insert Ro's "corrupting souls" voodoo here.


Didnt save dobby though did it? Accio Knife should work fin but what about Accio (insert organ here) would be better. Ive been through Anatomy, and what ive seen from the summoning charm it works as long as there is no wards involved to block the charm. and seeing as magic works on intent and Both fred, George and Harry all was able to summon their brooms for far away without even remotely aiming, the magic of the spell and the intend of should basically circumvent all measures to block such an attack...

Would be funny to Watch Harry potter kill voldemort or a deatheater via summoning their heart. even if the heart fails to make it out the chest cavity, thats a guaranteed kill.


Avada Kadavra is a very fast way to kill someone,the exception is to say Accio bones and the person you cast it on would be a lifeless lump.

  • 4
    I haven’t seen any evidence that Accio can be used this way.
    – Adamant
    Nov 5, 2016 at 21:28
  • @Adamant - Though book of spells does recount a different type of Accio-related death.
    – ibid
    Nov 5, 2016 at 23:56

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