- "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]
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, the Dementor's Kiss was ordinarily used against those who escaped 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. It is unknown what happens to souls once a Dementor “ingests” them.
- "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's joy at the thought of Sirius Black being kissed[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 be Kissed by 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.
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.
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.
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.
In an alternate timeline in the year 2020, Dementors attack while Severus Snape, Ron Weasley, and Hermione Granger help Scorpius Malfoy escape. Snape, Ron and Hermione are kissed by the Dementors and lose their souls.
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". Given that the soul is someone's self, the loss of his/her soul would make him/her cease to be. His/her soul could also possibly be trapped inside the Dementor.
- In a Quidditch match between Gryffindor and Hufflepuff, one 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.
- Snape said that witnessing the Dementor's Kiss is nearly unbearable.
- The only two people in the books to ever witness a Dementor's Kiss were Minerva McGonagall and Cornelius Fudge, when the Dementor kissed Crouch.
- In the video game adaptations of The Prisoner of Azkaban, the soul takes on a pearly white, ghostly image resembling its owner and can be sucked from the body when the Dementor is within range rather than actual physical contact.
- It is never explained what happens to the soul after one is kissed. It is theorised that the soul is either completely obliterated or that it imprisoned in the Dementor. The latter would mean that the person who got kissed is literally trapped in the Dementor's body while the victim is still alive, which is likely why some call it a fate worse than death (assuming a Dementor's interior is as bad as their appearance). The Dementor's interior may be some kind of "dimension" in which the soul remains in torment, unable to pass on and earn their comfort of death. If that is the case, it is unknown if the souls are able to interact with the others that are trapped in the same Dementor.
- Some suggest that Dementors may die if "starved" of happiness for extended periods of time (one possible interpretation of Rowling's claim that "their numbers can be controlled"). If that is indeed the case, and the above theory on the soul being trapped in the Dementor is correct, it is possible that the trapped soul may then be freed and move on.
- Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban (First mentioned)
- Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban (film) (First appearance)
- Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire (Mentioned only)
- Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix (Mentioned only)
- Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix (film)
- Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince (Mentioned only)
- Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows
- Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 1
- Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 1 (video game)
- Harry Potter for Kinect (Mentioned only)
- LEGO Harry Potter: Building the Magical World (Mentioned only)
- LEGO Harry Potter (Mentioned only)