Are there spells or charms or other magic in Harry Potter that will work on magical humans or magical creatures, but won't work on muggles or non-magical creatures? For instance, is there a spell that would change the hair color on a magical person or a unicorn, but wouldn't have any effect on a muggle or a muggle's dog?

And, on the other side, are there spells that work on the non-magical and not on the magical persons and creatures?

NOTE: I'm aware that a witch or wizard might take extra effort to specify something for a muggle or a non-muggle. While that's certainly magic that fits the description, let's keep an awareness that's not the same as a regular spell that's not tailored specifically for magical or non-magical beings.

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    For your second question, there's obviously the Muggle-Repelling Charm. Not sure of others, though.
    – Joe White
    Jan 29, 2012 at 7:10

3 Answers 3


Without re-reading the entire series, off the top of my head I cannot think of a clear instance where a witch or wizard attempts to do magic on a Muggle and the spell/potion/other fails to work.

One thing comes to mind, though, and yet it's not clear cut. It occurred to me that when the Dementors came to Little Whinging and attacked Dudley and Harry, Harry casts the Patronus Charm against the Dementors and banishes them, but Dudley is quite ill following the Dementor attack where Harry is not. While the Patronus drove the Dementor away, it did not seem to have quite as instant of a healing effect on Dudley. I know that the Patronus doesn't completely drive away an experience with a Dementor, and that chocolate is typically required to fully rejuvenate a person. Also, perhaps Dudley's emotional affect from the Dementor attack was so disrupted that it caused him to be more ill than Harry. I see these contingencies, definitely. I do note, though, the letter that Harry received from Mafalda Hopkirk:

We have received intelligence that you performed the Patronus Charm at twenty-three minutes past nine this evening in a Muggle-inhabited area and in the presence of a Muggle. The severity of this breach of the Decree for the Reasonable Restriction of Underage Sorcery has resulted in your expulsion from Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. Ministry representatives will be calling at your place of residence shortly to destroy your wand.

Order of the Phoenix - page 30 - British Hardcover

It implies that the use of this particular charm is especially serious. Perhaps, while effective in banishing Dementors, the Patronus isn't as strong a panacea for Muggles as it is for wizards.

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    I always thought Dudley was in such a state because he's a wuss.
    – Kevin
    Jan 29, 2012 at 21:10
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    @Kevin Well, there is that; Duddykins' wussiness is always a factor ;) But he had a full-blown physical reaction to the Dementor, to the point that he was sick on the doormat of No. 4 Privet Drive. Harry didn't have that kind of reaction. Jan 29, 2012 at 21:31
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    Yes, but Harry did faint the first time (several, actually) that he encountered a dementor.
    – Kevin
    Jan 29, 2012 at 23:59
  • @Kevin - I'm not arguing that Harry didn't faint. But if you read OOTP, it's clear, once the Dementors are gone, that Harry has the upper hand as far as after-effects go. :) Jan 30, 2012 at 1:01
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    "It implies that the use of this particular charm is especially serious." Does it? Or does it just imply that the Ministry had been overtaken by Voldemort's lackeys?
    – user31178
    Aug 7, 2015 at 18:09

Before we go any further, most of what follows has no basis in canon, and is my speculation. I know of no examples in canon that fit either description.

Let’s start with spells that fail on Muggles. We can guess that any spell in this category would affect a wizard/witch’s magical faculties, so anything to impair or interfere with your magic. Some examples that might be possible:

  • An Anti-Disapparition Jinx might fail silently. Since Muggles can’t disapparate, the jinx would have no effect on them. That said, if a wizard/witch tries to take a Muggle along by Side-Along Apparition while they’re under this jinx, what happens? Discuss.

  • I think a Shield Charm would have limited to no effect. It’s clearly designed to deflect spells, but Muggles don’t use spells to attack. Perhaps a physical invasion (bullets, soldiers or a punch in the face) wouldn’t be stopped by a Shield Charm. Whether this falls into the category is debatable, though. It would probably have a similarly negligible effect on an assailant who wasn’t casting a spell. (Also, I’m sure any wizard worth their salt could stop a physical attack, just not with this charm. I know this happens in the films. Films != canon.)

  • And finally we come to my first bit of “genuine” fact: Muggles can’t brew potions. Brewing a potion involves more than just stirring a cauldron; it needs magic too. Of course, this isn’t a spell, more a magical discipline, but I include it for interest. From a 2006 interview with JKR:

    Can muggles brew potions if they follow the exact instructions and they have all of the ingredients?

    JKR: Well, I'd have to say no, because there is always... there are magical component in the potion, not just the ingredients. So, at some point they will have to use a wand.

That’s all I can think of on this front, so let’s see if there are any examples of magic that affect Muggles, but not magicians. Let’s tackle the Muggle-Repelling Charm, because I think it’s important.

  • Muggle-Repelling Charms seem like an obvious fit, but perhaps not. We can guess that the protective charms Hermione casts in Book 7 are to keep away Muggles, but presumably they want to keep away other magical beings, too? (See: Death Eaters.) I think it’s questionable whether these charms actually target non-magical people by default, or have been cleverly tuned to be that way. I don’t know whether these might fall into your category of “extra effort”.

  • Let me now blow a hole in that theory. The concealment of the magical world extends beyond Muggle-Repelling Charms (at least how they’ve been described: we remember an urgent appointment, or see a derelict castle). Consider people disappearing off the street to St. Mungo’s, the Leaky Cauldron’s apparently invisible front door, or the barrier at Platform 9¾. The filters that hide the wizarding world from magical view seem to extend beyond these simple charms.

  • And to volley that point one final time, it seems more a matter of perception that a hard barrier. Lots of Muggles (such as Hermione’s parents) interact with the magical world, despite these stops put in place. Perhaps you don’t notice them unless you know that they’re there. So if somebody who doesn’t know about the Leaky Cauldron walks past it, they might ignore it. (Like an extended version of the Fidelius Charm).

Otherwise, nothing concrete springs to mind. Possibly there’s something significant in the way Muggle technology is mostly screwed up around very magical areas, but again, I don’t think that’s targeted at Muggles, but just a general effect. Indeed, Hermione in Book 4:

“All those substitutes for magic Muggles use — electricity, and computers and radar and all those things - they all go haywire around Hogwarts, there's too much magic in the air.”

So I don’t know if there’s any concrete example I can think of for a spell that affects a Muggle, not a magical being, that definitely isn’t that way by design.

  • Hermitianione? Is that a joke about Hermitian matrices, or were you just really tired when you wrote this?
    – Rand al'Thor
    Aug 7, 2015 at 19:38
  • @randal'thor More likely a rogue TextExpander snippet that expanded Herm* to Hermitian, which I forgot to correct. That, and tiredness :P
    – alexwlchan
    Aug 7, 2015 at 20:49
  • In OotP, when Voldemort and Dumbledore are dueling in the Ministry, one of them throws knives and the other defends himself with a Shield Charm. They were magical knives, but IIRC they physically bounced off and "clattered to the floor." Mar 24, 2017 at 15:51
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    @MissMonicaE It is worth noting that in DH, just before Ron leaves them, he and harry are about to fight and Hermione uses a shield charm which then prevents her from getting to Ron (until she has removed the charm) as he storms out.
    – Kababage
    Mar 27, 2017 at 15:19

Although I don't have sufficient evidences, powerful spell such as sacrifice for others may create a charm for the loved ones for muggles as well. So, if any muggle sacrifice for others, may protect the muggle from evil curses, like, Killing curse.

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