How Did Harry Potter Survive the Killing Curse in the Forbidden Forest, Explained
Many Potterheads have their own theories about what went down between Harry and Voldemort in the Forbidden Forest — but J.K. Rowling shared one, as well.
- Harry Potter survived Voldemort’s Killing Curse twice: when he was an infant and during the Battle of Hogwarts.
- By using Harry’s blood in his resurrection ritual, Voldemort kept Lily’s protection magic in Harry alive.
- The Elder Wand recognized Harry as its master, so it lessened the Killing Curse’s impact considerably.
- Thanks to these two factors, Harry withstood the second Avada Kedavra which destroyed the Horcrux, instead.
The mystery of Harry Potter’s survival against the Killing Curse has been around for decades both in the Wizarding World and in ours. Other mages were none the wiser about the nature of Harry’s ability than us fans, so at least somewhere we’re even… Except we’re not. The Muggles actually know about it way more than wizards.
We all know how Harry Potter survived in Godric’s Hollow. But how did he manage to avoid the Killing Curse’s full power again in the Forbidden Forest many years later?
How Did Harry Survive in Godric’s Hollow?
Long story short, by sacrificing her life for his, Lily Potter enacted ancient magic to protect her little son. This sort of protection required a specific set of circumstances that was met, and it was supposed to stay with Harry at least until he was seventeen. Lily’s accidental protection made Voldemort’s Killing Curse ricochet from the infant.
Now that we’ve all caught up, let’s move to the most interesting bit: how did Harry withstand the second Killing Curse in the Forbidden Forest years later?
How Did Harry Survive in the Forbidden Forest?
The second time Harry wasn’t killed by Avada Kedavra, the situation was much more complicated than the first time. As you remember, The Boy Who Lived faced Lord Voldemort in the Forbidden Forest, and the Killing Curse sent him into Limbo instead of outright killing him. Then, Harry pulled himself together and made a comeback.
Seeing how there was no one there to enact the magical protection once again, many fans have been wondering just how and why that happened for many years. Fortunately, the author of the Harry Potter books herself explained it back in 2011. According to J.K. Rowling, two factors made Harry’s second survival possible.
First, Lily’s magical protection she gave Harry years ago was still alive, against all odds. By using Harry’s blood in his resurrection ritual, Voldemort became almost a positive version of a Horcrux for The Boy Who Lived, tethering his enemy to life. In a twisted version of the prophecy, Voldemort ensured Harry’s survival with his own life.
Second, Voldemort used the Elder Wand to cast the Killing Curse — the wand that recognized Harry as its master. Unwilling to hurt him, the Elder Wand negated the pain from the Cruciatus Curse and somewhat lessened the Killing Curse’s impact. The latter still yeeted Harry to Limbo, mind you, but it didn’t outright kill him.
Why Was Harry’s Survival Formula Unique?
The combination of Lily’s blood protection and the Elder Wand’s loyalty allowed Harry’s body to withstand the second Avada Kedavra curse in his life. The curse itself was so powerful that, though unable to kill The Boy Who Lived himself, it destroyed the second-best thing — the part of Voldemort’s soul that was in Harry.
But in matters as complex and otherworldly as the bond between Harry and Voldemort, the magic of the Deathly Hallows, and ancient blood protection, there are no “success formulas.” Blood protection coupled with a wand’s loyalty doesn’t guarantee anyone’s survival against the Killing Curse. That was a unique case.
Source: J.K. Rowling