Among all his other inert Horcruxes, Voldemort created two living ones: Harry and Nagini.

When Voldemort tried to kill Harry, he was unable to do so. Instead, his curse ended up killing the piece of Voldemort's own soul that Harry carried. Logically, this means that when a living creature, that's also a Horcrux, is killed, it's not the carrier, but the soul they are carrying, that ends up dead.

However, this reasoning does not seem to work for Nagini. She was holding a piece of Voldemort's soul when she was killed, but both souls were destroyed. Shouldn't Nagini, the snake, have survived, and only Voldemort's soul died?

Even if we accept that physically killing Nagini killed both souls, how is that any different than magically killing Harry? How did the killing curse "know" which of the two souls inside Harry's body should die?

  • 47
    Because you don't "get better" from being cut in half.
    – Valorum
    Mar 25, 2015 at 19:13
  • 8
    well, in one instance we have a killing curse, that essentially just removes the soul from your body, aka, killing you, on the other hand neville cuts the dam snakes head off, obviously now the snakes dead...
    – Himarm
    Mar 25, 2015 at 19:13
  • I edited my question included your point...
    – Rajan
    Mar 25, 2015 at 19:21
  • @Richard Darth Maul would like to speak to you.
    – phantom42
    Mar 26, 2015 at 1:45
  • 2
    @MichaelEdenfield Because the answers to that question clearly indicate that Harry's survival was unique to the circumstances. Nagini didn't have those same circumstances, so there is no reason that she should have survived.
    – KSmarts
    Mar 26, 2015 at 14:55

7 Answers 7


Harry didn't die because he can't die while Voldemort lives. Voldemort carries Lily's protection inside himself when he took Harry's blood to rebuild his body.

'Precisely!' said Dumbledore. 'He took your blood and rebuilt his living body with it! Your blood in his veins, Harry, Lily's protection inside both of you! He tethered you to life while he lives.


He took your blood believing it would strengthen him. He took into his body a tiny part of the enchantment your mother laid upon you when she died for you. His body keeps her sacrifice alive, and while that enchantment survives, so do you and so does Voldemort's one last hope for himself.

~ Page 568, Deathly Hallows

This also explains why Dumbledore had a triumphant look when Harry told him Voldemort used Harry's blood to rebuild his body in GoF:

'He said my blood would make him stronger than if he'd used someone else's,' Harry told Dumbledore. 'He said the protection my - my mother left in me - he'd have it too. And he was right - he could touch me without hurting himself, he touched my face.'

For a fleeting instant, Harry thought he saw a gleam of something like triumph in Dumbledore's eyes.

~Page 604, Goblet of Fire

  • great answer and canon reference.. thats how JKR put the storyline herself.. +1 Mar 26, 2015 at 8:35
  • 1
    +1 "Triumph." That line from GoF is my FAVORITE line in the entire series. Dumbledore understood, and we had to wait 3 more books to find out, that Harry would live.
    – Bishop
    Sep 27, 2016 at 19:09

The short answer is, you are trying to compare two completely different situations and expecting them to have the same results. The reason the attack on Nagini's life and the attack on Harry's life don't play out the same is because Harry and Nagini were not the same thing.


Harry was not a horcrux.

This comes straight from the word of God herself:

I know that, and you know that, but here is the thing: for convenience, I had Dumbledore say to Harry, 'You were the Horcrux he never meant to make,' but I think, by definition, a Horcrux has to be made intentionally. [...] I suppose it's very close to being a Horcrux, but Harry did not become an evil object."

So, what happened to Harry had nothing to do with him being a Horcrux, because he was not one. Thus, if you try to figure out how a "living Horcrux" should work based on what happened to Harry, you're going to get the wrong answer.

  • 1
    I've reluctantly downvoted. Although you're not wrong, this would have served better as a comment or a link to the relevant question elsewhere on the site.
    – Valorum
    Mar 25, 2015 at 23:46
  • @Richard Unless I'm gravely mistaken, doesn't it answer the question? Mar 25, 2015 at 23:48
  • 2
    Only tangentially. You're attacking the question itself rather than crafting an answer. It's certainly not forbidden to do so (I've done it myself) but it's not that helpful either.
    – Valorum
    Mar 25, 2015 at 23:51
  • 2
    The question is asking why two similar events did not have two similar results. It's not asking why A happened, or why B happened, it's asking why A != B. The answer is that the question is based on a flawed assumption, and that the two events aren't similar, so there is no reason to expect the results to be similar. I will edit my answer to make that aspect more obvious.
    – KutuluMike
    Mar 26, 2015 at 0:37
  • "What happened to Harry is what was expected to happen if someone used the Elder Wand to attack the master of the Elder Wand." Is incorrect. The scene the question is referring to is when Harry was "killed" in the Forbidden Forest and then saw Dumbleghost at Spirit King's Cross. The reason Harry didn't die there was because Voldemort was still alive, which kept Lily's Enchantment active (protecting Harry), since Voldy was revived using Harry's blood (as explained by Dumbleghost and this answer to "Why didn't Harry die in the dark forest?"
    – user31178
    Mar 26, 2015 at 3:58

Harry saw Voldemort’s green jet meet his own spell, saw the Elder Wand fly high, dark against the sunrise, spinning across the enchanted ceiling like the head of Nagini, spinning through the air toward the master it would not kill, who had come to take full possession of it at last.

— Deathly Hallows, chapter 36

Keep in mind that at the point Harry is struck by the killing curse, he's the master of the elder wand. The elder wand won't kill it's master. Now, let's say there was another person living in there with the master's soul, one could say that person (Voldemort) is fair game to the killing curse.

As was mentioned in the comments, the snake was decapitated. Harry was hit with a curse that couldn't fully effect him unless he fully wanted it to. As Harry didn't want to die, the curse didn't effect him and only the part of Voldemort inside him.

  • 3
    Not convinced that Harry didn't want to die. At the end of Deathly Hallows, Harry tells Voldemort that his spells no longer have a lasting effect because Harry willingly sacrificed himself for Voldemort's would-be victims (this is how Neville broke out of the full-binding spell). Harry willingly let himself be killed. Mar 26, 2015 at 2:06
  • 1
    True, but my thought is when Harry is at king's cross, he makes the choice not to die. My personal thought (I have no documentation to back it up) is at that point, Harry chooses to not have the curse effect him, and the wand obeys.
    – Jance
    Mar 26, 2015 at 13:10
  • I read the quote from DH to mean that Harry's Disarm spell blocked Voldy's spell, not that Harry got struck with the Killing Curse. At that point, he's the master of the Elder Wand, etc. Jul 21, 2015 at 14:04
  • 1
    @CodeswithHammer, yep, in that particular point, Harry's disarming spell does block the killing curse, but Harry was stuck by it already in the woods, at which time the wand was still Harry's. This quote just cements the fact that the master of the elder wand was Harry all along, which is why it couldn't kill him in the woods.
    – Jance
    Jul 21, 2015 at 14:08

It seems to come down to two factors; The manner of death & the potential for resurrection.

Manner of Death:

Harry died by being struck by an Avada Kedavra spell. As has been discussed elsewhere, the body seems to remain intact and it appears that it's the soul that becomes disembodied. Under normal circumstances, this would result in the death of the body. By chance, Harry's soul was able to enter limbo and return to a largely intact body.

Potential for resurrection

By comparison, Nagini's soul was disembodied from her horrendously damaged body. Even had it had the capability of returning, it would have returned to a body without a head, killing it instantly (again).

With a single stroke, Neville sliced off the great snake’s head, which spun high into the air, gleaming in the light flooding from the Entrance Hall, and Voldemort’s mouth was open in a scream of fury that nobody could hear, and the snake’s body thudded to the ground at his feet.


You guys remember that part where Hermione explains how there are only a couple of things that could destroy a Horcrux? One of those things is Fiendfyre, another was basilisk venom…which the sword of Gryffindor took on the attributes of when Harry killed the basilisk with it.


Harry is the owner of the 3 Deathly Hallows, his invisibility cloak is Death' Mantle, Drago beats Dumbledore in duel (he disarmed him in the 6th book) so Drago was the owner of Death' Wand (and not Snape) but Harry disarmed Drago in the last book, making him the true owner of Death' Wand. And before facing Voldemort, he solved the golden snitch enigma and find Death' Stone (that's why he can see his dead parents one more time). So basically he owns the 3 Deathly Hallows and the tale said that the owner is the master of Death itself, that's the reason why Avada Kadavra didn't kill Harry but send him to limbo and that's why his soul was protected but not Voldemort's one.

Sorry for the grammar, English is not my mother tongue :p


Because it was Voldemort who tried to kill Harry. He was, in a sense, fighting himself - or at least a part of himself.

If Voldemort had cast Avada Kedavra on Nagini then it would (probably) have had a similar outcome. If he had cut Nagini's head off - or Harry's head, for that matter - we don't know what would happen, though it would seem to me to be likely to kill them.

But Nagini didn't have a part of Neville's soul. So he could certainly kill her, by spell or by sword.

(It is possible, though it seems unlikely, that Nagini had the same sort of protective spells that are used on a conventional Horcrux. If that is so, Neville was only able to kill her because he was using the Sword of Gryffindor; he would not have been able to with an ordinary sword or using any but the most powerful spells.)

  • AK does work on non humans. Fake Moody killed the spider with it in GoF. It probably works on anything with a soul.
    – chewie
    Aug 4, 2016 at 9:29
  • @chewie: thanks, I'd forgotten that. Aug 5, 2016 at 23:25

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