James Potter Didn't Change His Ways for Lily Evans: He Did It for Lord Voldemort

James Potter Didn't Change His Ways for Lily Evans: He Did It for Lord Voldemort
Image credit: Warner Bros.

Lily Evans famously only started dating James Potter after he stopped bullying others, but despite the popular belief, it wasn’t her Harry’s dad changed for.


  • Lily Evans used to hate James Potter, but they got together after he changed his old crooked ways.
  • It wasn’t Lily that motivated James to grow up: it was the inevitable war looming over the Wizarding World.
  • James chose to join the Order just like Lily, and when she saw how mature he’d become, she gave him a chance.

There are countless divisive and controversial things about the Marauders that have kept fans locked in heated debates for many long years since The Order of the Phoenix’s release. James Potter and Lily Evans’s relationship is among the most important points: why did Lily suddenly start dating a bully she’d always despised?

And why did James Potter himself change his ways so randomly?

What Was Wrong with James and Lily’s Story?

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The Marauders — namely, James Potter and Sirius Black — were a group of Hogwarts’s favorite troublemakers. Careless and fun-loving but also vindictive and cruel at times, the Marauders ruled over the school and tolerated no one who stood in their way. This particularly affected Severus Snape, Lily Evans’s old friend.

To Snape, James and Sirius were straight-up bullies. Regardless of their victim’s obsession with the Dark Arts and foul company, the two Marauders broke all boundaries when it came to Snape and made his life at Hogwarts a living hell. For that, Lily Evans despised James Potter — and he was, in turn, obsessed with her.

Lily rejected James several times that we know of and openly stated that she’d rather date the Giant Squid. Then, in a matter of a year, everything changed and Lily started going out with Potter. Some fans go as far as to accuse James of using a Love Potion on his sweetheart; others agree that Potter Sr. changed his ways for her.

But the reality was, of course, rather different.

Why Did James Potter Change So Dramatically?

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We won’t be entertaining the Love Potion accusations as, according to numerous characters, James Potter did, in fact, change his ways rather dramatically between his sixth and seventh years at Hogwarts. A careless bully and a troublemaker one year ago, he suddenly became the Hogwarts Head Boy and Lily Evans’s boyfriend.

But it would be quite a stretch to claim that James grew as a person so rapidly just because of his feelings toward Lily; that’s not how people work. There was another, way more significant factor that made Potter Sr. re-evaluate his priorities.

The First Wizarding War was coming, and like everyone else, James felt it.

People disappeared without a trace or were found murdered all the time. The Ministry was succumbing to the Dark Lord’s power. The wizarding community was paralyzed with fear, constantly terrorized, and plunged into chaos. The Death Eaters were growing bolder every day, and the confrontation was blatantly inevitable.

How Did War Change James Potter’s Behavior?

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Under these circumstances, James Potter made his choice — a choice of an adult. He realized that very soon, his school days would be over, and he would become part of the brutal world beyond the Hogwarts walls. James decided to join the Order of the Phoenix full-time and spend all his time and resources fighting Lord Voldemort.

For his final year at Hogwarts, James returned a different man — perhaps, he had serious talks about the war and his future with his parents during the summer holidays. He made the choice to stand up and fight no matter the cost, and that changed him because that’s what war does to a person: it strips them of innocence.

There was no desire or even time for bullying and troublemaking on Potter Sr.’s part anymore, and the same went for his friends. The Marauders were all preparing to join the war, so their attitude to both school and life in general changed dramatically.

Seeing how the Marauders, led by James, had always been a pain in her bottom before, Lily Evans surely noticed the difference; and seeing how she and her friends, too, joined the Order, they must have spoken about it a lot at Hogwarts. On these grounds, Lily and James grew closer, and this time, she saw a brave and selfless man before her instead of a bully and a selfish prick.

No wonder they got together so soon afterward. Everyone was getting married while they still had a chance, and James and Lily were on the same page by that point.