Harry Potter: The Three Unforgivable Curses Explained (& Which Was Worst) The Harry Potter universe introduced readers and viewers three Unforgivable Curses. We explain each curse and which was the worst.

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Harry Potter Unforgivable Curses
The Wizarding World of Harry Potter introduced a number of incredible and dangerous spells, but none more so than the three Unforgivable Curses, and we explain which one of them was the worst. The first novel from J.K Rowling’s Harry Potter series was published in 1997, and as the series got darker and Harry got older, so too did the magic used.

Across the seven Harry Potter books and eight films in the saga, readers and viewers alike witnessed some truly dark moments and elements from the wizarding world, which included the trio of spells that are collectively known as the Unforgivable Curses, used by some characters to murder, torture, and control others.


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The Unforgivable Curses in Harry Potter are some of the most powerful and dangerous spells of the Dark Arts, and were classified as “unforgivable” in 1717. The use of any of these on another human, whether muggle or wizard, was punished with a life sentence in Azkaban, but that never stopped Lord Voldemort and the Death Eaters from using them constantly. In order to successfully use any of them, the caster must have great willpower, skill, and desire to use them for malevolent purposes. The Cruciatus Curse (crucio) is used for torturing, as it inflicts excruciating pain on the recipient, and the damage depends on the desires and purposes of the caster. The pain can be such that it can kill, cause amnesia, or drive the person to madness, which is what happened to Alice and Frank Longbottom at the hands of Barty Crouch Jr, Rodolphus, Rabastan, and Bellatrix Lestrange.


Voldemort in a scene from Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows
The Imperius Curse (imperio) is used for mind control or hypnosis, leaving the victim in a trance state and extremely vulnerable to the caster’s commands. It is possible to resist this curse, but it’s very difficult, and only a few have learned and succeeded in resisting, including Barty Crouch, Barty Crouch Jr, and Harry Potter himself. Finally, the Killing Curse (avada kedavra), which causes immediate, painless death. It has no counter-curse and can’t be blocked by most magical means, but it can be deflected, dodged, or blocked with solid objects. Harry Potter and Voldemort (thanks to his horcruxes) are the only ones known to have survived this curse.

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The Killing Curse is considered by many (both fans and characters in the Harry Potter universe) as the worst of the Unforgivable Curses, but the darkest and most dangerous one is, by far, the Cruciatus Curse. The Killing Curse does exactly that: kill. Immediately and without pain. The Cruciatus Curse is all about pain and torture, and can leave the survivors with serious physical and mental damage. There’s no denying that J.K Rowling paid attention to every single detail when building the Harry Potter world, and created some really disturbing and sinister elements amidst all the magic and fantastic creatures.