Harry Potter: The Unforgivable Curses Don’t Work Like You’ve Always Thought

Harry Potter: The Unforgivable Curses Don’t Work Like You’ve Always Thought
Image credit: Warner Bros.

Over the years, we’ve seen one too many fans wonder why there are only three Unforgivable Curses in Harry Potter while the Dark Arts are more extensive — and here’s the answer.

In our boring little Muggle world, the list of crimes that will put you in prison is extremely extensive and detailed — and it can vary from one country to another. That’s why it’s always been bothering many Potterheads that in the Wizarding World, there are only three Unforgivable Curses. How is that possible and why is it fair?

There’s an entire subject taught in schools called Defence Against Dark Arts, and it’s taught across all seven years. There are numerous other Dark spells that we’ve seen in the books and movies, some even more horrible than the Unforgivable Curses. Realizing how many Dark things are considered “forgivable” doesn’t make sense, right?

Well, it does.

The thing about the Unforgivable Curses is that they have no use other than to directly violate a different person by killing, torturing, or controlling them. Most other spells have alternative uses — so while burning alive is way worse than dying instantly, no one will outlaw fire spells, for instance. Makes sense, right?

Also, there are still numerous spells and curses that are outlawed in the Wizarding World. The penalty for using them varies, though — the Unforgivable Curses are the only ones that guarantee a lifetime sentence in Azkaban, but if you used something else for murdering civilians, you’ll still get that sweet one-way trip, so don’t get cheeky.

The Unforgivable Curses are the synonym of the worst Muggle crimes. We won’t get too dark here, but we all know what crimes guarantee immediate lifetime sentences or even executions. It doesn’t mean that everything else is allowed, but it means that for these exact things, you have no chance of getting a lighter punishment.

In other cases that don’t involve the use of the three Unforgivables, there are several large Departments of the Ministry of Magic dedicated to investigating these cases, dealing with criminals, and reverting the consequences. And judging by the sheer size of the Ministry, there are plenty of crimes committed regularly in Magical Britain.