At the end of the film version of Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, Harry tricks Lucius Malfoy into giving Dobby a sock. Since this means that his household servant is no longer under his control, this understandably causes Lucius some annoyance. He pulls out his wand and begins to incant a spell


before Dobby steps in and zaps him.

Avada Kedavra is known as the 'killing curse'. Using it supposedly results in your immediate transfer to Azkaban for a life sentence.

Was Lucius seriously about to kill a twelve year old child with an unforgivable curse, directly outside the Headmaster's office, with witnesses around?

Lucius Malfoy with an expression of hatred, raising his wand to cast a spell

  • 11
    Chris Columbus dun' goofed. Or maybe it was aimed at Dobby.
    – Rawling
    Commented Nov 8, 2014 at 22:18
  • 7
    Out-of-universe: apparently Jason Isaacs was just told to make up a curse for this scene, and pulled this one off the top of his head. Sources of varying degrees of dubiousness claim he said this in an interview, but nobody can produce a link.
    – alexwlchan
    Commented Nov 8, 2014 at 23:15
  • 32
    He would've gotten away with it, too, if it wasn't for that meddling elf. Commented Nov 9, 2014 at 0:21
  • 18
    @MajorStackings - "Avada...Kittens". The kitten curse.
    – Valorum
    Commented Nov 9, 2014 at 1:11
  • 23
    That is a heck of a face in that frame. He looks like he was auditioning for Peter Pettigrew. Commented Nov 9, 2014 at 1:22

6 Answers 6


This is definitely out-of-character for Lucius Malfoy.
He has on numerous occasions shown to be:

  • Calculating
  • Sneaky
  • Definitely not outwardly courageous or rash

He is also an extremely (if not the most) important Death Eater still alive / at large. So he would not go so far as to expose himself with such a controversial act.

That being said, there is definitely no mention or evidence of "Avada..." leading to anything other than "...Kedavra"; so it is fair to assume that he was going to use the Killing Curse in the movie.

It is important to mention here as well that (as the OP pointed out) this is only in the film version; in the books he merely "lunges" at Harry:

Lucius Malfoy stood frozen, staring at the elf. Then he lunged at Harry.
“You’ve lost me my servant, boy!”
But Dobby shouted, “You shall not harm Harry Potter!”
There was a loud bang, and Mr. Malfoy was thrown backward.
Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, Chapter Eighteen, "Dobby's Reward"

So why the discrepancy?

Personally I feel that it was the writers' and the actor's way of adding effect to Lucius wielding his wand and dramatising the whole affair. He is extremely upset at both his diary ploy being foiled as well as losing his family's servant. Additionally, it adds strength to the effect of Dobby stopping him, with relative ease.

Lucius has a cunning attitude as well as a strong influence both in the Ministry and with the Hogwarts Governance Board; he likely could have tried to murder Harry and then:

  • Pass the blame onto his servant, Dobby
  • Accuse Harry of attacking him first and claim Self-Defence

Both are viable and fit in with his character, as well as his high influence and control over members of the Ministry or the Wizengamot.

  • 36
    Much as I hate this phrase on SFF.SE, but "because bad writing" seems appropriate here. Commented Nov 10, 2014 at 2:56
  • 2
    I think no small part of it was that in book having an adult physically assault (lunge for) a child is "ok" to show, but on film it probably would have causes issues, so a wand attack would have cause less issues with censors.
    – user20155
    Commented Jan 19, 2015 at 22:18
  • 7
    @LegoStormtroopr - Well yeah, everyone knows attempted assault is far more serious than murder.
    – Lou
    Commented Jan 4, 2016 at 21:47
  • 4
    In the book, Malfoy is on the verge of attacking Dumbledore shortly before that scene, but thinks better of it: Lucius Malfoy stood for a moment, and Harry distinctly saw his right hand twitch as though he was longing to reach for his wand. Instead, he turned to his house-elf. ‘We’re going, Dobby!’
    – chirlu
    Commented May 22, 2017 at 2:15
  • 7
    @Mooz: Yeah, although in that book scene, Malfoy is far more controlled. There is a huge difference between aborting the attempt after just a twitch, and actually saying the incantation until stopped by someone else. And of course, he might have wished to only hex Dumbledore.
    – chirlu
    Commented May 22, 2017 at 6:20

According to Harry Potter: The Wand Collection (your canon mileage may vary) Lucius did intend to kill Harry using Avada Kedavra prior to Dobby stopping the act...

Lucius is a known practitioner of the Dark Arts with his wand, including Unforgivable Curses. He attempted to perform the Killing Curse on Harry in Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, but his once-enslaved house-elf Dobby interfered and repelled him.

Harry Potter: The Wand Collection - Lucius Malfoy

  • 7
    Well done for finding a (semi-canon, at least) necro answer!
    – Valorum
    Commented Sep 16, 2020 at 14:10
  • 8
    Dislike for the films intensifies Commented Sep 16, 2020 at 19:36

Avada need not lead to Kedavra as Richard points out in the comments. J drew it from some ancient Aramaic mystic medicinal curse. The goal being to kill that which kills you.

Even if you're more into the similarity with abracadabra you'd know that it's not the only abra. It will create pain rather than death being the first that comes to mind.

Indeed without question Dobby had heard the crazed wizard use it to harm people previously but he didn't respond with much more than a single magical swift kick to the groin.

  • 1
    The question is also asked by @Richard
    – user931
    Commented Nov 9, 2014 at 5:00
  • According to the Wiki and numerous other internet sites, the line was improvised by Jason Isaacs and he does say “Avada”.
    – BangBang
    Commented Feb 12 at 19:50

I watched the movie both on TV with subtitles and DVD with subtitles. In both, the spell on screen says 'vera' and is interrupted by Dobby. I don't know if there's a canonical spell starting with that but every time I watch it, the subtitles say that. I personally don't think he'd attempt to kill Harry especially outside of Dumbledore's office and when they can check what his last spell was. Not to mention it could only be Voldemort who could kill Harry with the killing curse as he was a horcrux and the spell would bounce off Harry if done by anyone else; like when in Deathly Hallows part two Ron is suspected of using the killing curse on Nagini before Neville kills the snake and Nagini was unaffected by it.

  • 2
    Is there any evidence that Avada Kadavra can't kill Harry, it was only when Voldemort used it on Harry that it didn't kill him. And that's because of the soul piece in Harry (because Harry isn't actually a Horcrux). Also when does Ron use Avada Kadavra on Nagini?
    – Edlothiad
    Commented Jan 19, 2018 at 8:20
  • 1
    Ron using the killing curse? well, that didn't happen i'm afraid.
    – Shreedhar
    Commented Jan 19, 2018 at 8:50
  • @Edlothiad - In DH2 Ron casts a wordless green spell at the snake just before it gets beheaded.
    – Valorum
    Commented Jan 19, 2018 at 10:45
  • 1
    @Valorum yeah the movie did show that (Ron cast that spell on the stairs, I remember). But Ron casting a killing curse without uttering the words? Even Voldemort hasn't been seen doing so (as far as I have seen). And by the looks of it, Ron was never such a skilled spell-caster either.
    – Shreedhar
    Commented Jan 19, 2018 at 11:06
  • Not to mention, the killing curse simply... kills you. It doesn't behead you to do that. Any curse that cut off a snake's head would not be Avada Kadavra.
    – forest
    Commented Sep 5, 2018 at 2:23

I'm flabbergasted that there weren't more fans who support the FACT that Malfoy wasn't about to utter an Unforgivable Curse but that he was saying "Vera... " as substantiated by the Closed Captioning on both DVD and Netflix and HBO.

Seemingly all the other subtitles were correct so why so many people feed off a barely audible half muttered curse is preposterous to me. Am I missing something?

Obviously I have had this conversation come up within my own household, otherwise I wouldn't be here, but clearly the text say LM said, "Vera... " before being foiled by the house elf.

Is it simply everyone's need to so call stereotype Malfoy as this incredibly evil and colossally idiotic character that we hear an incantation not previously uttered and not mentioned until two installments later in GoF?

I don't think either Chris Columbus or JK Rowling would treat the single most deadly and important curse Avada Kedavra as a half spewn partially recognizable, and widely debatable flaw at the end of the movie and be done with it. Mrs. Rowling maintained creative input for all the HP films and her book fans were and are still her highest priority. Such an addition would've been blasphemous to the so called "canon" that are the books.

So by logical deducement I have to say Malfoy was incanting another spell, more likely in the Transfiguration genre than the Unforgivable kind.

  • 4
    "Such an addition would've been blasphemous to the so called "cannon" that are the books". I mean...have you seen the movies? 'Cause they do that quite a lot. DIDJA PUT YER NAME IN THE GOBLET, HARRY!?
    – DavidS
    Commented Sep 5, 2018 at 9:26
  • 2
    The films contain plenty of stuff that omits or contradicts book canon (it's canon, not cannon by the way).
    – Cubic
    Commented Sep 5, 2018 at 13:55
  • 7
    Closed captions are often incorrect.
    – Adamant
    Commented Feb 12, 2019 at 10:26
  • This is noting more than some speculation added to this answer posted 9 months earlier.
    – FreeMan
    Commented Feb 12 at 19:36

I think that Malfoy temporarily lost his temper and was going to kill Harry, but only because of bad writing. That's the only thing that can explain the differences from book and movie. Otherwise I can't believe that the cool, calm, collected, powerful Lucius Malfoy would actually kill a twelve-year-old right outside of Dumbledore's office with witnesses.

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