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Dementor's Kiss

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"You can exist without your soul, you know, as long as your brain and heart are still working. But you'll have no sense of self anymore, no memory, no...anything. There's no chance at all of recovery. You'll just -- exist. As an empty shell. And your soul is gone forever...lost."
Remus Lupin on the Dementor's Kiss[src]
Dementor on hog exp

A dementor attempting to kiss Harry Potter.

The Dementor's Kiss is the act of a Dementor sucking out a person's soul. It was sometimes used as a sentence for criminals by the Ministry of Magic, and is considered a fate worse than death. Before Voldemort was in control of the Ministry, Dementor's Kiss was ordinarily used against those who escape from Azkaban. When Kingsley Shacklebolt became Minister for Magic after the end of the Second Wizarding War in 1998, Dementors were no longer used by the Ministry of Magic.


When the Dementor's Kiss is performed the Dementor will pull back its hood, clamp its jaw around the victim's mouth, and consume his or her soul. The Dementor's Kiss is generally considered to be a punishment worse than death. Victims are left in what Muggles would call a Persistent Vegetative State: empty shells that are still alive but irretrievably "gone". It is impossible to return as a ghost, for the Kiss consumes the soul, and the soul of a person is required in order to become a ghost.[1]



A Dementor pursuing a victim.

"Ah, vengeance is sweet. How I hoped I'd be the one to catch you... But why deny the Dementors? They're so longing to see you. Do I detect a flicker of fear? Ah, yes. The Dementor's Kiss. One can only imagine what that must be like to endure. It's said to be nearly unbearable to witness, but I'll do my best."
Severus Snape to Sirius Black in 1994[src]

The Dementor's Kiss was occasionally imposed as a sentence for criminals by the Ministry of Magic; as the reformed Ministry stopped employing Dementors as guards of Azkaban after the Second Wizarding War, the Dementor's Kiss was no longer used as a criminal sentence either.

Sirius Black was fated for such a sentence if he was caught after he escaped from Azkaban. Barty Crouch Jr. suffered this when his escape was discovered. The absence of examples of these punishments legally meted for other crimes before Voldemort was in control of the Ministry and the fact that very serious criminals (such as Bellatrix Lestrange) were not sentenced to it, suggest that the crime of escaping from Azkaban was to Kiss a dementor.

The Dementors attempted to Kiss Harry Potter, Hermione Granger and Sirius Black after cornering them by the Black Lake in 1994. However, the Dementors were driven away by a Patronus that had been cast by Harry's future self after he and Hermione used a Time-Turner to try to rescue Sirius. After his capture, Sirius was sentenced to be Kissed, but Harry and Hermione helped him to escape once again with Buckbeak's assistance.[1]


The Dementor's Kiss was performed on Bartemius Crouch Jr. by a Dementor accompanying Cornelius Fudge

The Kiss was performed on Barty Crouch Jr. after it was discovered that he had disguised himself as Alastor Moody to deliver Harry Potter to Lord Voldemort and had killed his father in 1995. However, as the Kiss was administered before an official confession could be documented, Cornelius Fudge refused to believe that Voldemort had actually returned.[2]

During the summer holiday, Harry and his cousin Dudley Dursley were attacked by two dementors in Magnolia Crescent in Little Whinging, secretly sent by Dolores Umbridge to 'silence' Harry of his opposition to the Ministry's stance of denial on Voldemort's return. Were it not for Harry's quick response, both he and Dudley Dursley would have received the Kiss.[3]

When Voldemort was in control of the Ministry in late 1997 and early 1998 and Muggle-borns were being persecuted, those detained by the Muggle-Born Registration Commission were threatened with the Kiss if they resisted. Dementors nearly kissed Mary Cattermole during one trial, but Harry Potter repelled them, and he and Hermione Granger freed her and the other Muggle-borns being held prisoner, helping them to escape, along with Ron Weasley.[4] It is possible that some innocent Muggle-borns were kissed before the Ministry was taken back.

Known victims

Behind the scenes

  • A Dementor attempting a kiss on Sirius is witnessed in the film adaptation of Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, in which his soul is being sucked out his mouth in the form of a small, glowing, white dot, but the Dementors are fought off by Harry's Patronus before they can finish this. They never needed to clamp their jaws over his mouth.
  • This may be one of the things that Dumbledore claimed was "worse than death".
  • In a Quidditch match between Gryffindor and Hufflepuff, one particular Dementor put its mouth very close to Harry's lips, nearly kissing him.
  • In the film adaptations, whenever a Dementor is sucking happiness or the soul out of their victim, there is a distortion in the victim's face and the air near him or her.
  • If the victim of a kiss has no negative memories to recall, it can be theorized that the Dementor may compensate for this by demonstrating the flaws of their supposed happiness. This can be derived by the Dementor attack on Dudley Dursley in 1995. Since Dudley had a childhood of privilege and pampering, he had never experienced any particularly negative memories. Instead, Dudley saw himself for what he really was - a spoiled brat and a mean bully. This had frightened Dudley to the point of being kinder to his cousin.


Notes and references

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