Death potion was a black potion contained within the Death Cell at the Magical Congress of the United States of America. It was used to carry out executions in the 1920s, especially in 1926 with the failed death sentence of Porpentina Goldstein.

Prisoners were taken into the Death Cell and had their memories extracted by an executioner, which were subsequently placed into the potion. The potion had the ability to replay the memories similar to a Pensieve, with the added effect of keeping the condemned mesmerized and susceptible to suggestion.

Once the condemned was placed in the chair, it would hover over the potion, allowing them to see their happiest memories for a final time.

Once a wand was added to the potion, either that of the condemned or the executioner, the potion would become agitated and begin to rise up towards the condemned, while the chair would begin to lower into it.

The potion was highly corrosive and would burn through both the chair and the person on it.


In 1926, Newt Scamander and Tina Goldstein were sentenced to be executed in this fashion by Gellert Grindelwald (disguised as Percival Graves) for violating the International Statute of Wizarding Secrecy. Tina was nearly swallowed by the potion but was saved thanks to Newt and his Swooping Evil.[1]


Behind the scenes

  • The visual effect of the potion is based on an artistic display by Richard Wilson at the Saatchi Gallery in London. Named 20:50, it consists of several rooms filled with a still, black oil that perfectly mirrors the room above it.
  • Though it is not stated explicitly why this method is utilized by MACUSA, as opposed to the Killing Curse, it could be seen as an artistic representation of corporal punishment and its surrounding themes. Keeping the condemned happily mesmerized with their happiest memories could be seen as a merciful death. The use of a system to execute a person, as opposed to another person directly committing the act, removes the burden of guilt from the executioner(s). Additionally, this was an opportunity to reference the types corporal punishment used throughout American history, against both witches and others.
  • The potion shares similarities with the Draught of Living Death as it was portrayed in Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince due to both being able to disintegrate objects on contact, and in the later instance, Horace Slughorn stated that Harry Potter's version of it was "So perfect, I dare say that one drop would kill us all.", implying that the film version of it was capable of killing or that he was exaggerating his statement.

Notes and references