In Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, it says that young wizards or witches who have had their magic suppressed throughout their childhood become Obscurials, and develop a dark, parasitical magical force.

So why didn't Harry Potter become one? The Dursleys pretty heavily abused him—albeit not physically—and suppressed his magic for all of his childhood, which seems like the ideal conditions for creating an Obscurial.

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    I haven't seen Fantastic Beasts but isn't there a possible difference between "suppressed" and "ignored"? Nothing was preventing Harry from doing magic.
    – Catija
    Nov 21, 2016 at 3:23
  • See also the related question: scifi.stackexchange.com/q/145472/4918 "Why wasn't this character an Obscurus?"
    – b_jonas
    Nov 22, 2016 at 11:32
  • 3
    Because JK Rowling made them up for the movie and they didn't exist before then. May 12, 2017 at 22:56
  • @user00001 What a smart answer! May 13, 2017 at 2:40

4 Answers 4


Harry never knew he was a Wizard or could use magic in the first place to suppress magic. He just thought it was "strange"

The Dursleys never liked to acknowledged Harry's magical roots. They just wanted to ignore it. Harry was forbidden to do or mention magic but not beaten about it. Also mainly, he never held back magic. He made the glass disappear, he ended up on his muggle school top when Dudley and his gang were chasing him, he ballooned up Aunt Marge. So he had his own outbursts but they we not exactly parasitical like [spoiler]


An obscurial arises from suppressing magic. Harry was never suppressed, and was in a lesser horrible condition as the [above mentioned person] was.

That is probably the reason Harry never was an obscurial.

One example of someone who might have been an Obscurial was Arianna Dumbledore.

"It destroyed her, what they did: She was never right again," Aberforth said. "She wouldn’t use magic, but she couldn’t get rid of it; it turned inward and drove her mad, it exploded out of her when she couldn’t control it, and at times she was strange and dangerous. But mostly she was sweet and scared and harmless."

"[If] the Ministry had known what Ariana had become, she’d have been locked up in St. Mungo’s for good. They’d have seen her as a serious threat to the International Statute of Secrecy, unbalanced like she was, with magic exploding out of her at moments when she couldn’t keep it in any longer."

I can be almost sure Ariana was an Obscurial.

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    +1 for Ariana. I actually thought of Ariana as being an Obscurial when watching Beasts. Nov 21, 2016 at 11:39
  • She came to my mind as and when I heard of the girl in Sudan ! And when we came to Credence's part.. it just had to be Ariana !!
    – Anu7
    Nov 21, 2016 at 12:15
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    I can be almost sure Ariana was/will-be retconned as an Obscurial. Nov 21, 2016 at 12:46
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    From HP and the Deathly Hallows, Chapter 19, The Life and Lies of Albus Dumbledore: “It was poor little Ariana dying, I think, that did it,” says Bathilda. “It came as an awful shock. Gellert was there in the house when it happened, and he came back to my house all of a dither, told me he wanted to go home the next day. Terribly distressed, you know. So I arranged a Portkey and that was the last I saw of him." It looks like Grindelwald has some sort of intense interest in Obscurials. Nov 21, 2016 at 17:51
  • Makes so much sense !! im reading all this in a whole new light since FBaWtFT. @BenSandeen -- if only The life and lies of AD was available !!
    – Anu7
    Nov 23, 2016 at 5:17

I too wondered why Harry didn't become an obscurial, then I remembered I needed to think outside of the movies.

In the first book, we read a few instances of Harry doing magic, but not understanding what he did or how it happened.

One time Petunia cut Harry's bangs too short, they grew back. She repeatedly cut his hair, and it repeatedly grew back.

Bullies were once chasing him, and he inexplicably ended up on the roof of the school. He got into trouble with his teacher, and Petunia was called to get him.

The Dursley's did try to suppress his magic, but failed. Because he went to public school, and was often ignored by the Dursley's, there were probably other times that Harry unknowingly used magic.

  • Muggles are likely incapable of suppressing magic so I don't think that the Durselys could have suppressed Harry's magic if they'd tried.
    – Catija
    Dec 1, 2016 at 21:18
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    @Catija Well, in Fantastic Beasts, the stepmother suppressed the Obscurial's magic with years of intimidation and physical/psychological abuse. Dec 6, 2016 at 2:56

JK Rowling as actually addressed this question, and a few others raised by Fantastic Beasts, on her website (bold added for emphasis):

  1. Why didn’t Harry Potter develop an Obscurus? An Obscurus is developed under very specific conditions: trauma associated with the use of magic, internalized hatred of one’s own magic and a conscious attempt to suppress it.

The Dursleys were too frightened of magic ever to acknowledge its existence to Harry. While Vernon and Petunia had a confused hope that if they were nasty enough to Harry his strange abilities might somehow evaporate, they never taught him to be ashamed or afraid of magic. Even when he was scolded for ‘making things happen’, he didn’t make any attempt to suppress his true nature, nor did he ever imagine that he had the power to do so.


Book 6, chapter 23: Dumbledore telling Harry "Yes, Harry, you can love." ... "When given everything that has happened to you, is a great and remarkable thing. You are still too young to understand how unusual you are, Harry." ... "You are protected, in short, by your ability to love! The only protection that can possibly work against power like Voldemort's. ... Harry, have you any idea how few wizards could have seen what you saw in that mirror? ..." While not outright information about obscurials, it does shed some light on Harry that we can use to postulate a few theories perhaps. When you compare what we know of Harry's life to what little glimpses we got to see of Credence Barebone's sad and abused life, heard about the eight year old imprisoned girl from Sudan and Aberforth's account of his sister Ariana's experience, we can see that a pattern of sorts emerges. The individuals who developed these parasitic forces have been mistreated and abused, whether it was a single traumatic event or prolonged exposure and multiple events. We don't know when Credence Barebone actually developed into an obscurus. Was the scene in the movie where we first see Graves his first incident? We're there others? Since Newt and his creatures are blamed or the events and deaths we can only assume that it burst out of Credence at such a level around the time of Newt's arrival. We know from Mary Lou Barebone that her adopted son Credence's mother was "a wicked, unnatural woman". I wonder what Mary Lou did to Credence's mom that she was able to take Credence away from her and keep him? Is she dead? Murdered in some horrific witch trial by the Second Salamers? Did Credence see or know about it? In addition to the beatings and punishments he suffered at Mary Lou's hands, he was also called freak and trash by the Senator, and in general, ignored and likely made fun of by most people.

Another aspect I found fascinating was the similarities between how the dementors being the wizarding equivalent of depression are the obscurials the wizarding equivalent of another mental illness or feelings made manifest? Then we also have examples of Voldemort's mother, Merope Gaunt, and Tonks and even Ginny to a certain extent, losing their powers from unrequited love. So we can see a precedent that your emotional state is relevant to your power and abilities as well as your knowledge and experience. I see these all as related because they are aspects of the human condition and show a variety of different choices and outcomes. So what do you think?

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