I've just read this question, which highlights how the goblet was fooled.

But why do the teachers allow it? DVK makes the analogy that it is like a program with a bug. But if a bug presents an obviously incorrect output, why not just ignore it?

I remember the headmasters and headmistresses discussing it, and concluding harry should compete... but I can't remember or fathom why they wouldn't dismiss the result (or at least Harry).

  • 4
    Perhaps of interest/related: What happens when a Triwizard contestant refused to participate?. FWIW, I know of no canon quote that says the contestants will die if they refuse to participate -- I would love to see that quote, though, if anyone knows of its existence. :) Apr 18, 2015 at 18:42
  • 1
    @Slytherincess - Since dlanod's answer seems to heavily mirror mine, is this not a dupe?
    – Valorum
    Apr 18, 2015 at 18:44
  • @Richard is argue that my question is focused on the teachers disavowing the tournament not the participants changing their minds. Let me read that question again.
    – AncientSwordRage
    Apr 18, 2015 at 20:36
  • I think the second part of my answer to this question is related: scifi.stackexchange.com/a/72485/3567 but that's why Dumbledore kept Harry in, not the other teachers/officials.
    – alexwlchan
    Apr 18, 2015 at 21:19

1 Answer 1


Harry has to compete because if he doesn't, he'll die (probably).

In what can only be described as the stupidest plot-twist ever, it turns out that in a competition designed to be entered by children, the Goblet is set to mete out a severe punishment to anyone who refuses to take part.

My reading was that since competing in the competition (the first task of which involves facing a giant man-eating dragon) is the lesser danger, this punishment must be either deadly or mind-destroying:

‘Finally, I wish to impress upon any of you wishing to compete that this Tournament is not to be entered into lightly. Once a champion has been selected by the Goblet of Fire, he or she is obliged to see the Tournament through to the end. The placing of your name in the Goblet constitutes a binding, magical contract. There can be no change of heart once you have become champion. Please be very sure, therefore, that you are whole-heartedly prepared to play, before you drop your name into the Goblet

It appears that the three heads lack the ability to change or cancel the results, even if the Goblet throws a wobbly:

Bagman wiped his round, boyish face with his handkerchief and looked at Mr Crouch, who was standing outside the circle of the firelight, his face half hidden in shadow. He looked slightly eerie, the half darkness making him look much older, giving him an almost skull-like appearance. When he spoke, however, it was in his usual curt voice. ‘We must follow the rules, and the rules state clearly that those people whose names come out of the Goblet of Fire are bound to compete in the Tournament.’


‘Empty threat, Karkaroff,’ growled a voice from near the door. ‘You can’t leave your champion now. He’s got to compete. They’ve all got to compete. Binding magical contract, like Dumbledore said. Convenient, eh?’


Don’t you?’ said Moody quietly. ‘It’s very simple, Karkaroff. Someone put Potter’s name in that Goblet knowing he’d have to compete if it came out.’

  • Can you provide the citation from Goblet of Fire that verifies Triwizard contests who don't/refuse to compete will die? I don't recall that. Apr 18, 2015 at 18:43
  • @Slytherincess - I assumed he'd die. But having read the answers here I'm not now convinced. Clearly there are consequences...
    – Valorum
    Apr 18, 2015 at 18:45
  • @Richared -- Definitely agree with you that there would be (likely fairly dire) consequences. :) Apr 18, 2015 at 20:07
  • This spell comes to mind: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/…
    – AncientSwordRage
    Apr 18, 2015 at 20:34
  • @Pureferret - That's what I was thinking. It's the only other "magical contract" we see in the books.
    – Valorum
    Apr 18, 2015 at 20:40

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