Every single ‘Harry Potter’ spell, ranked by usefulness
Not all magic is created equal.
In the sprawling universe that is JK Rowling’s Harry Potter series, there are countless spells for wizards and witches to master. In the books (which we’ll be focusing on here) there are around 80 alone.
These spells range from the spectacularly pointless (looking at you, Densaugeo) and the cruel (Crucio) to the quite literally life-saving (Anapneo, which gets barely any page-time but is basically the wizarding version of CPR).
Anyway, we’ve had a go at ranking every Harry Potter series spell. The list below is a countdown, from the least useful spell in the magical world to the most useful.
A couple of quick notes before we dive in, though — first of all, this list is based on general, widespread usefulness in the magical world (not just how useful the spells were in the books); second, it’s worth noting that some spells (hello, Prior Incantatem) were a little tricky to rank due to their relevance to one particular wizarding profession, but lack of relevance elsewhere — we’ve done our best to slot them in where we can, but certain members of the magical community may well disagree.
But enough rambling! Accio spells…
The really useless/worse than useless Harry Potter spells
Totally useless Harry Potter spells. Yup they exist.
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81. Avada Kedavra
It’s used to kill people, it’s an Unforgivable Curse, and it was Voldemort’s favourite, so it’s going last. There’s probably a big philosophical debate we could get into about violent curses like this – would this one have been okay to use on an evil dark wizard, for instance? – but we’re going to take the tack that murder is bad and leave it there.
Yep, this is another Unforgivable Curse that Harry actually attempts to cast himself a couple of times, but nobody’s perfect, right? It’s also yet another spell that could land you in a cell with some Dementors (magic designed to cause extreme agony, as well as being useless, obviously isn’t thought of too highly in the wizarding community).
We know what you’re thinking: Why is a spell that Harry Potter busts out in order to retrieve a horcrux so low down on the list of usefulness? Wouldn’t the whole wizarding world be a different place if Harry hadn’t used the Imperius Curse to sneak into Gringotts? Well, maybe. But if we’re looking at this thing objectively, an Unforgivable Curse which puts the victim under the caster’s complete control is both a) obviously super evil, and b) a good way to get yourself locked up in Azkaban for life.
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Baddies use this one to conjure the Dark Mark in the sky. You don’t want to be a baddie, do you? (Also, morals aside, the caster is basically putting up a giant sign and alerting everyone to their evil presence, which seems kind of dumb.)
77. Brackium Emendo
OK, so this one is meant to heal broken bones. At least that’s the intention of Gilderoy Lockhart, when he uses it on Harry in The Chamber of Secrets. The reason it’s relegated to the useless spells section in this list? All it does in the book is remove Harry’s bones entirely. Now, a small caveat — since this is the only time we see the spell used, it’s unclear if Lockhart’s said it wrong, or simply cast it wrong. We’re assuming the former, which is why Brackium Emendo gets thrown in the useless pile — but if the spell was in fact legitimate, it would be considered much more useful. Perhaps Lockhart should have tried Episkey, a healing spell located in the more useful section of this list, instead?
There are a couple of spells that cause explosions in the world of Harry Potter, and this is one of them. But what makes it unique is that the explosion can sometimes be fiery. What possible use, other than to cause a whole lot of damage, could a fiery explosion spell have?
Surprise semi-hero Severus Snape may have invented this one, but it’s only use is slashing an enemy with an invisible sword. That’s not very nice, is it? It’s worth noting Harry uses this in the books without knowing what it does, and it really doesn’t end well for him (or Malfoy, who’s on the receiving end).
74. Slugulus Eructo
Ron Weasley attempts to cast this one on Draco Malfoy, only for the spell to backfire due to a faulty wand. The result? He ends up vomiting slugs for a bit. This one gets points for its novelty factor, but no points for usefulness.
This one covers an enemy in boils, which is very icky and very mean.
Another one that gets points for novelty value — it causes the target’s teeth to grow — but absolutely zero points for practicality.
71. Locomotor Wibbly
Turning someone’s legs to jelly could arguably slow down an attacker. The problem? There are other spells out there that do the same thing, but are much easier to say.
This one’s pretty similar to Locomotor Wibbly, only instead of turning legs to jelly, it makes the victim dance uncontrollably. Still useless, but slightly more fun.
What possible reason could you have for needing to conjure a snake? Perhaps if you decided you might want a snake as a pet, but weren’t ready to 100 percent commit to the decision. Then you could use Serpensortia to conjure one for a bit, to see how it all went. But that’s literally the only use, unless you want to cause a high level of awkwardness during a duel.
A spell that hoists someone upside-down into the air doesn’t really have a use, does it? It’s just annoying.
Sure, a spell that lets you write in fiery marks sounds cool, but you could also just use a pen.
And now some not-so-useful Harry Potter spells
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This spell appears to shoot a small object at a target, sort of like a pea-shooter without the physical shooty bit. Mildly fun, in other words, albeit largely pointless. In the books, Lupin uses it to fire a wad of chewing gum at Peeves.
Hermione uses this one to block some chasing Death Eaters in The Deathly Hallows by turning a tapestry to stone. Pretty cool, but are you ever really going to be in a situation as specific as that?
64. Alarte Ascendare
If you can think of a practical use for throwing an object up into the air, let us know. Also, wouldn’t Wingardium Leviosa (a spell of the very useful type) be a better substitute? At least with that one you can control where the target goes.
It flattens steps into a slide. Fun, but not all that much use (although this one would be great for sliding out of your office at 5 p.m. when the elevator is packed and you can’t be bothered to take the stairs).
62. Locomotor mortis
This spell locks the target’s legs. Slightly more effective than the really useless Locomotor Wibbly, we’d imagine, but still not as effective (or as easy to say) as another spell higher up this list. It’s also not as useful as our next spell…
61. Petrificus Totalus
This one basically causes the target’s entire body to lock up, temporarily paralysing them. A good way to stop an opponent in their tracks? Sure. But like Locomotor Mortis, there are others spells out — hello, Stupefy – that would do the same job better.
This spell reverses Levicorpus. It’s an antidote to an annoying spell, which is good, but given how useless the original is, the cure can’t really push it into the more useful spell echelons.
Conjuring flowers is lovely! No one is denying that. But let’s be honest — if you could only learn how to do one spell, it wouldn’t be this one, would it?
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A bird-conjuring charm is slightly cooler than flower-conjuring, and great if you want to pose as a muggle magician. But apart from that its uses are pretty limited. Hermione Granger casts this one in the books, using it in conjunction with Oppugno to set a frenzied flock on an ignorant Ron. An undeniably original way to express dissatisfaction, certainly, but hardly something you’d be using every day.
This spell causes objects to fall/move downwards. At one point in the books Ron uses it to lower the ladder leading to the attic in his house, which pretty much sums up how exciting this spell is.
A charm to reveal secret messages sounds useful, but think about it — how often do you really encounter secret messages on a day-to-day basis? Hermione casts this on Tom Riddle’s diary in the books, and it does diddly squat; if a trio who are constantly involved in mystery-solving barely need it, then the average witch or wizard will have even less use for it.
This one blindfolds the target. Useful for hide and seek and battering stuffed centaurs at children’s birthday parties, but that’s about it. It’s pretty useless for the average wizard — Harry and the gang probably use it occasionally, like our next spell Incarcerous, but I doubt most wizards would need it.
A spell for tying people up is useful if you’re getting up to the kind of evil wizard-capturing hijinks Harry and the gang regularly engage in, but less useful if you’re anyone else.
We’re not saying a spell that blasts holes in the ground couldn’t be useful — Hermione uses it to escape death eaters in The Deathly Hallows, after all — but the potential uses aren’t exactly widespread. Maybe Deprimo could be used in the construction industry or for excavation purposes, but that’s probably about it.
52. Meteolojinx Recanto
A spell for removing weather jinxes! Now that is niche.
A spell that causes something to attack something else sounds pretty mean, but you could use it in self-defence, too (say, to set your dog on a scary Death Eater). Still, you’d need a dog handy.
Of course there are some sort of useful Harry Potter spells
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50. Point me
Possibly the most boring spell in the entire Harry Potter seven-book series (it makes wands point north), but yes, OK, we suppose it could be useful for orienteering purposes. Or if you’re stuck in a maze, like Harry was in Goblet of Fire. Maybe use a compass though?
Amos Diggory uses this spell in The Goblet of Fire to get rid of the Dark Mark conjured in the sky at the Quidditch World Cup. So it seems sort of useful, but as we don’t know the full extent of what it can actually delete, we can’t really put it any higher up on the list.
48. Specialis Revelio
This one reveals magic that’s been cast on an object, which is a little niche. Still, it’d be a valuable tool if you bought something at a junk sale and wanted to make sure it hadn’t been cursed.
47. Prior Incantato
This one is like an internet search history for your wand – it shows which spells have been previously cast. Not all that handy for the average wizard, sure, but probably a pretty crucial law enforcement tool.
46. Homenum Revelio
Suspect you may have a magical intruder in your house? Homenum Revelio will expose their presence! This one is another you’re unlikely to bust out every day, but it could have its (occasional) uses.
This magical chart shows how often every single ‘Harry Potter’ spell was used
Hermione uses this one to put up a tent in The Deathly Hallows. Anyone who’s attempted to erect a tent before will know that it’s always far more annoying and time-consuming than you think it’s going to be. Who wouldn’t want a quick fix? (Also, you get to yell Erecto really loud in a quiet camping ground, which is surely the best reason to cast this spell.)
This one locks things, which could be useful if you’re trying to hide from someone non-magical, or if you don’t happen to have your key handy.
As spells go, an unlocking charm is almost as dull as Point Me. But useful if you’re the forgetful type.
It amplifies sound! No more speakers, mics or megaphones required.
Muffliato creates a buzzing in nearby ears, allowing you to have a private conversation in the middle of a public location. Handy if you’re a spy, but surely this one would get annoying if everyone was doing it?
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In the books, Harry mainly uses this spell (which forces something to release its grip) for monster-related purposes: once to free a dragon in Gringotts, and once to free himself from the clutches of a Grindylow during the Triwizard Tournament. So how useful it is to you will probably depend on how much adventuring you get up to (although you could probably also use it for more mundane purposes, like to excavate yourself from a clutch of brambles).
Levitating and moving wooden objects would be great for moving house and collecting fire wood. Not a whole lot else, though.
Like Mobilarbus, but with bodies. Yes, it sounds sinister, but think about it — this spell could also be used to transport injured or unconscious people.
Like Confringo, but with less fire. This one makes it higher up the list because it sounds a little safer to us — and who knows, maybe it could be used for demolition purposes?
Blasting solid objects apart sounds pretty dangerous, but just think how quickly you could clear a fallen tree from the road, or knock through a wall.
This spell cuts objects, which means it’s basically the magical equivalent of a sharp pair of scissors. Scissors are pretty handy, right?
A spell that gouges through earth may not sound all that useful, but just think how handy it would be for archaeologists and avid gardeners.
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33. Capacious Extremis
Now this is a cool spell. It basically makes the space inside something bigger than it looks on the outside, like Doctor Who’s Tardis. Will you be using it every day? Probably not. But for houses, suitcases and cars, it’s a dream.
32. Piertotum Locomotor
Sure, bringing inanimate objects to life so you can have them do your bidding sounds like supervillain stuff, but it’s pretty cool. In the books Piertotum Locomotor is used by Professor McGonagall on the the Hogwarts statues, so that they can help protect the school in the Battle of Hogwarts. But you could also use it for something simple, like doing the vacuuming.
Yep, we know what you’re thinking: If the Imperius Curse is so firmly in the useless pile, why does a charm meant to confuse people make it into a better category? Well, unlike Imperio, this one feels a bit more like it could also be used in self-defence. You could use it to confuse a mugger, for instance, or subtly deter a door-to-door salesperson. Harry uses it to rob a bank in the books (which we wouldn’t recommend), but at least he does it for the right reasons.
30. Expecto Patronum
Harry uses this spell approximately 26 million times in the books, which is why it’s in the upper realms of usefulness here, but we’d imagine the average witch/wizard wouldn’t need it anywhere near as much, if at all. Still, a handy one to know just in case you do ever come across a dementor that needs chasing off.
You guessed it: Quietus makes things quieter. Perfect for barking dogs, yowling infants, and over-excitable acquaintances. We’ve considered this spell much more useful than its counterpart Sonorus, but surely people would be more likely to mute stuff than amplify?
This one cleans up liquid spills. It’s probably not the best household spell in your arsenal, but it’s surely not far off.
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If you have any dark, shadowy corners in your house, there’s always the chance you might have a boggart lurking about. In case you’ve forgotten your Defence Against the Dark Arts lessons, those are the pesky creatures that take on the form of the thing you fear the most. Riddikulus is the spell that banishes them, and it’s sure a pretty handy one to have in your arsenal. Just in case.
Harry learns this spell from Snape’s old potions book in The Half-Blood Prince, and uses it to fairly good effect on the likes of Peeves and Filch. In a nutshell, it sticks the victim’s tongue to the roof of their mouth so they can’t talk. Handy for blocking verbal spells, but arguably not quite as effective as a similar spell — Silencio! — further down the list.
Remember all those useless Locomoter spells further up the list that take ages to say? Well, Impedimenta is the more efficient way to stop a target in their tracks.
The very useful Harry Potter spells
And finally, the MOST useful Harry Potter spells
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Even the most indoors-y of wizards will need to be bandaged up every now and then.
Turning the tip of your wand into a light sounds sort of redundant in the age of smartphones, doesn’t it? But then again, would wizards really need smartphones? Probably not. Which means Lumos is still a handy one to know.
If you’re going to turn your wand into a light, you need the counter spell to extinguish it, too.
A spell that waterproofs stuff! No, it’s not the most exciting thing in the world, but think of the practical uses! In the books this one’s mainly used for Quidditch, but in rainy old England it would be pretty essential day-to-day, particularly for people who wear glasses like Harry.
Ah, the growing charm. Perfect if you’re tending to a burgeoning vegetable patch, but definitely one to avoid using on animals.
19. Salvio Hexia
Hermione uses this spell — which protects an area against hexes — in order to safeguard the trio’s woodland camps in The Deathly Hallows. It’s probably the magical equivalent of a good guard dog, which is handy if you’re worried about getting ambushed.
A spell for erasing memories does sound a little on the evil side, but it’s also a crucial tool for wizards who need to stay hidden from pesky muggles.
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17. Repello Muggletum
Speaking of pesky muggles, this one repels them! Absolutely crucial if you’re trying to hide out in a magical forest camp or host a giant Quidditch tournament (or for pretty much any muggle-based avoidance you might want to engage in, which for wizards is probably quite a lot).
This spell turns an object into a portkey. That’s basically like building a miniature tube station in your own house, using nothing but your wand and an old boot, or whatever. Sure, you could just apparate or use the floo network, but this one’s probably the safest means of transporting the whole family. (Just make sure you get legal clearance, though— or don’t, if you’re Albus Dumbledore.)
Along with Accio and Expelliarmus, it feels like this spell pops up on pretty much every other page in Harry Potter. The reason? Being able to stun a target is a pretty crucial spell for self-defence.
This is another all-important first aid spell, allowing the caster to wake an unconscious victim. Perfect for a spot of anti-stupefying, should the need arise.
A spell for healing minor injuries would be absolutely crucial for a parent — no more scraped knees and bloody noses — and extremely useful for pretty much everyone.
This makes the target completely silent. So it basically does the same thing as Langlock (i.e. stops an enemy from casting a verbal spell on you), but it could also be useful for inanimate objects. Noisy motorbike? Silencio! Pneumatic drill? Silencio! Pesky TV commercials? Silencio, Silencio, Silencio!
There isn’t a whole lot of glamour in cleaning, but it is essential — especially when you’re brewing messy potions, or freshening up the cage of your beloved pet owl. A general cleaning spell would make daily life a whole lot easier.
A spell to repair things! How useful is that?! No more broken crockery, cracked glasses or neglected DIY tasks for you.
9. Finite Incantatem
A spell to counter or reverse other spells would be absolutely crucial in any wizarding household. It’s sort of like the Command-Z for wizards. It won’t cancel out every spell, but it’s perfect for careless children, havoc-wreaking magical creatures, and jinx-happy teenagers.
Every good wizard needs a shield charm to protect themselves.
Harry is almost embarrassingly reliant on the disarming spell when he fights basically anyone in the books, but we can’t really blame him for that — it does get the job done against Voldemort in the end, after all. On a day-to-day basis, Expelliarmus would also be a crucial tool for self-defence in the wizarding world.
6. Wingardium Leviosa
Making stuff fly is undeniably cool, and you could also use this one to move random objects without having to put your back out (or really put in any physical effort at all, which sounds wonderful). It also works nicely as the reverse for our next spell…
Summoning stuff so it flies right into your waiting hand? Yes. Please.
A spell to prevent choking! In the books, this one’s used by Slughorn to prevent Marcus Belby from gagging on a mouthful of pheasant. But just think how many lives it would save.
This one makes fire, which has been a pretty sought-after skill since humans (and, presumably, wizards) first walked the earth.
Making things vanish is magic at its most traditional, but don’t just think rabbit-in-the-hat type stuff. Think bigger. You could use this one to make all the rubbish in your house disappear, for instance, or maybe a bunch of wizards could team together and clean out landfill sites. It would be a great spell for the environment.
This one actually makes water. Seriously, think about how many problems that could solve.
https://mashable.com/article/best-worst-harry-potter-spells-ranked-usefulness Every single ‘Harry Potter’ spell, ranked by usefulness