In the seventh book (and the 7th & 8th movie) of Harry Potter, it shows that a wand doesn't belong to a person anymore, or loses its loyalty if another witch or wizard disarms or defeats them.

Given that, why don't more children from earlier films and novels have to buy new wands? It shows students being disarmed many times.

Why was the disarming wand rule only valid in the 7th book?

3 Answers 3


The wand disarming rule only applies so ruthlessly in the case of the Elder Wand, which only shows up in the final book.

Wands choose their owner, and most wands seem to stay loyal to their original owners. The Elder Wand is an exception to the rule and chooses the stronger witch/wizard, hence switching owners when its previous owner was defeated.

Edit, to clarify a bit, from Wikipedia:

As stated by Mr. Ollivander the wandmaker, the [Elder] wand will never fully work for the new user unless he or she directly disarms, stuns or kills (even in Muggle fashion) the previous master. Rowling has stated that the wand is brutal in its choice of master, and that, while most wands have some allegiance to their own masters, the Elder Wand only responds to power. If a master dies naturally without ever being defeated, the wand's power will die for any following owner, since it was never won from the former.

  • 2
    It all gets a bit more complicated than that - Harry wins ownership of the Elder Wand from Draco who was using a completely different wand when Harry 'defeated' him.
    – HorusKol
    Nov 13, 2011 at 1:02
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    @HorusKol The only thing that matters is that the owner was defeated by the new master. It doesn't matter how, so it doesn't matter what wand the owner was using at the time, or even whether they were holding a wand at all.
    – Kevin
    Nov 13, 2011 at 16:55
  • shows in the final book? more like the fifth book. XD Aug 16, 2017 at 7:30
  • From my last post, I meant 6th book Aug 16, 2017 at 20:01

In the Potterverse, a wizard's wand normally stays loyal to its original owner; the wand chooses the wizard. This is seen throughout the books/films, but shown explicitly in book 7 when Harry's new wand (given to him by Ron after he took it from one of the Snatchers) fails to perform as his old holly wand did, and when Hermione, as Bellatrix, doesn't feel right holding Bellatrix's wand. In both cases, the person holding it did not win the wand personally from its previous owner. On the other hand, Draco's wand behaves much better for Harry because he physically disarmed Draco to get it.

Most wands will retain some allegiance to their former owners; should that owner reclaim the wand, even without "winning" it from the current owner, it's implied that the wand will accept their old owner. Also, in most cases of disarmament (Expelliarmus), the wand is usually given willingly back to the person who was disarmed, whether the disarmament was for practice or for real. So, the wand either wouldn't have much chance to change allegiance, or in being handed back willingly the allegiance would change right back.

There is one case of a wand working for someone who didn't properly win it; Tom Riddle's memory-self using Harry's wand in Chamber of Secrets. He doesn't do much with it, true, but in the book universe a wand would be less powerful or not work at all for a user other than its owner, while in the films a wand that hadn't chosen its current handler would be uncontrollable. This may be explained by the "twin cores"; the same phoenix (Fawkes, in fact) gave two feathers, which ended up in Voldemort's and Harry's wands. This may make both Voldemort and Harry more able to use each others' wands (though this theory isn't tested anywhere else in the books or movies).

However, the Elder Wand is different. It will give its allegiance only to one wizard, the one who "won" it from its last owner. It responds, as was said, only to power. In the overwhelming majority of cases, it changes hands in a very bloody fashion; the old owner of the wand isn't going to come looking for it. Only in the last 70 years or so preceding the events of the books did it begin changing hands while the previous owner remained alive. Grindelwald stole it from Gregorovitch sometime prior to 1945, and Gregorovitch lived for decades thereafter until Voldemort killed him. Likewise, Grindelwald was defeated by Dumbledore in 1945 and spent the rest of his life in Nurmengard Prison before Voldemort killed him too. In Book 6 Dumbledore then lost the wand to Draco, who didn't kill him. Then Draco, who never touched the wand, lost ownership when Harry bested him at Malfoy Manor in Book 7.

The point about a wand's allegiance changing was indeed paid more attention to in the last book, because it was central to the plot of that book. However, the knowledge that "the wand chooses the wizard" was known to readers and moviegoers since The Sorcerer's Stone, when Harry bought his holly wand; Ollivander said as much to Harry in his shop.

  • I believe Grindelwald stunned Gregorovitch when he took the Elder Wand, which could have passed as 'winning' it from the wand maker.
    – morganpdx
    Mar 12, 2012 at 22:22
  • That's correct, but the point was that Grindelwald didn't have to kill Gregorovitch to win the wand's allegiance, which was the usual method up until the last century.
    – KeithS
    Mar 12, 2012 at 22:33
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    I know im pretty late to the party here, but I think its notable that the elder wand's original owner is long dead. Since there hasn't been an instance of a wand refusing an owner who "won" it properly, the elder wand's "unique" properties are simply the result of there being NO original owner anymore. For example, if Wizard A lost his wand to wizard B and then died, B would have a wand loyal only to him, whose allegiance could only be transferred through conquering B. The situation is identical to the Elder Wand. So the elder wand doesn't NEED to be special to work the way it does.
    – khanzarate
    Nov 6, 2016 at 21:39
  • @khanzarate - It's implied in book 7 (and accompanying movies) that the Elder Wand will not accept returning to an old owner that is still living; if, say, Grindelwald or Gregorovitch had regained possession of the wand through some means other than besting the current owner, it wouldn't give them its full allegiance. Other wands would and do willingly return to a former master. This theory, however, is untested; nobody who ever won and then lost the Elder Wand ever got it back.
    – KeithS
    Jan 25, 2018 at 22:16
  • I think thats very likely the case for normal wands as well. At least how I see it, there are always two potential masters: the one it chose, and the one who won it. So if Wizard A is the original owner, Wizard B wins it from him, and Wizard C wins it from B, the wand would still obey 2 of them, A and C. B has lost the loyalty of the wand, while A can never lose it, the wand chose them. Similarly, there is no scene in books or movie to explicitly support or disprove this, but its a theory that makes sense and does make the elder wand use ordinary wand rules, despite the added power.
    – khanzarate
    Jan 27, 2018 at 21:22

Are you referring to COS when Snape first taught the students the Expelliarmus spell? That, in theory, having been disarmed the losing students would have lost the allegiance of their wands? Maybe it's because the wand "knows" (wands are considered partly sentient) if it's a real fight or a pretend battle.

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