- "We are talking about a different breed of being. Dealings between wizards and goblins have been fraught for centuries [...] There has been fault on both sides, I would never claim that wizards have been innocent. However, there is a belief among some goblins, and those at Gringotts are perhaps most prone to it, that wizards cannot be trusted in matters of gold and treasure, that they have no respect for goblin ownership."
- —Bill Weasley talking to Harry Potter about goblins[src]
Goblins are a highly intelligent race of small hominids with long fingers and feet that coexist with wizards. Their diet consists of meat, roots and fungi. Goblins converse in a language known as Gobbledegook, and are adept metalsmiths notable for their silverwork; they even mint coins for wizarding currency. Due to their skills with money and finances, they control the wizarding economy to a large extent and run Gringotts Wizarding Bank.
Goblins have their own type of magic and can do magic without a wand. They are represented by the Goblin Liaison Office of the Department for the Regulation and Control of Magical Creatures in the Ministry of Magic. Goblins are considered to be inferior by many wizards, who foolishly believe that the goblins are comfortable with that arrangement.
- Harry Potter: "Hagrid, what exactly are these things?"
- Rubeus Hagrid: "They're goblins, Harry. Clever as they come, goblins, but not the most friendly of beasts."
- — Harry Potter's first experience of goblins[src]
Throughout the history of the Wizarding world, there have been several goblin rebellions. These rebellions were most prevalent in the 17th and 18th centuries, but even today there are subversive goblin groups who work in secret against the Ministry, according to the Daily Prophet. One rebellion, in 1612, took place in the vicinity of Hogsmeade; the Three Broomsticks Inn was used as headquarters for the rebellion. The rebellions have been described as "bloody and vicious". The names of the rebels tend to run along the lines of "Bodrod the Bearded" and "Urg the Unclean", according to Ron Weasley.
The reasons for starting some of the varied Goblin Rebellions include all but one of the following (according to J.K. Rowling's Official Site's 3rd W.O.M.B.A.T. test, all but one of the following are true):
- An allegation by Ragnuk the First that Godric Gryffindor stole his sword
- The pursuit and imprisonment of Ug the Unreliable, who was peddling leprechaun gold
- The accidental death of Nagnok, Gringotts Wizarding Bank goblin, at the hands of an untrained Security troll sent by the Ministry of Magic
- Imprisonment of the notoriously violent Hodrod the Horny-Handed, who attempted to kill three wizards
- The public ducking in the village pond by a gang of young wizards of goblin activist Urg the Unclean
- The Ministry of Magic decree of 1631 preventing magical beings other than wizards and witches from carrying a wand.
The goblins suffered their share of losses during the first rise of Lord Voldemort in the 1970s. A family living near Nottingham had been murdered by Voldemort's followers at that time, and Bill Weasley has been approaching the goblins, appealing to their sense of belonging to the Wizarding community. This proved problematic, however, because a Ministry official, Ludo Bagman, swindled a group of goblins out of a large amount of gold at the Quidditch World Cup in the summer of 1994, leading the goblins to distrust both sides and became neutral during the war. When the trio broke into the Lestrange Vault in 1998, Voldemort personally murdered many goblins present in the bank in fury and to eliminate witnesses of those who knew of his cup horcrux.
Goblins are extremely clever and over the years have dealt with wizard-kind effectively. They are still subservient in the minds of most wizards, but they have established themselves as a vital part of wizarding society. The goblins run Gringotts, the wizarding bank. Therefore, they control the wizarding economy to a large extent. It is unknown if Gringotts is the only bank in the wizarding world. Goblins are extremely clever and more than able to stand up to wizards. The fact that the wizarding population treats them poorly is evidence of the severe injustice built into wizard culture. Ironically, the Fountain of Magical Brethren in the Atrium of the Ministry of Magic shows a goblin, along with a house-elf and a centaur, gazing admiringly at a witch and wizard.
Apart from their cleverness with money and finances, goblins are also very capable metalsmiths. Their silverwork is well known and prized (Sirius Black's wealthy family had dishes which were 'finest fifteenth-century goblin-wrought silver, embossed with the Black family crest'). When Rubeus Hagrid visited the Giants, one of the presents he brought was a goblin-wrought helmet which was described as "indestructible". Goblins actually mint the Galleons, Sickles, and Knuts used in the Wizarding world; each coin is stamped with a serial number identifying the goblin who cast it.
It is possible that part-goblin Filius Flitwick has inherited such cleverness, as he is in Ravenclaw, which encourages intelligence, and that Flitwick has demonstrated such brilliance in many occasions like when they are protecting Hogwarts with his high intelligence in Charms that he performed during the Battle of Hogwarts.
- Ragnuk the First: maker of Godric Gryffindor's Sword.
- Gringott: Founder of Gringotts Wizarding Bank.
- Filius Flitwick's goblin ancestor: distant ancestor of Filius Flitwick.
- Eargit the Ugly: a spokes-goblin.
- Urg the Unclean: an activist.
- Ug the Unreliable: a con-artist.
- Alguff the Awful: a commercialist.
- Brodrig the Boss-Eyed: spokesgoblin at the Brotherhood of Goblins.
- Ragnok the Pigeon-Toed: an author and activist.
- Ragnok: an associate of Bill Weasley.
- Bogrod: employee at Gringotts.
- Griphook: employee at Gringotts.
- Gornuk: employee at Gringotts.
- Nagnok: employee at Gringotts.
- Gringotts Head Goblin: employee and head at Gringotts.
- Ludovic Bagman's goblin creditors: some goblins that put Bagman under pressure because he could not pay the money.
- Unidentified goblin associate of Oswald Beamish: a goblin that was an associate of Beamish.
- Unidentified goblin killed by Voldemort: former employee at Gringotts.
- Unidentified goblin philosopher: a philosopher goblin.
- Unidentified Gringotts Bank teller: a goblin that was counting the cash-money.
- Unidentified goblin stockbroker: a goblin that works at the Ministry of Magic.
- Unidentified Gringotts Bank goblin guard: a goblin that guarded the silver doors at Gringotts.
- Unidentified Gringotts spokesgoblin: a goblin that tells about serious events.
- Goblin who had himself pictured in portraits: a famous goblin.
- Tall goblin: employee at Gringotts.
- Magic goblin: employee at Gringotts.
- Clever goblin: employee at Gringotts.
Throughout wizarding history there has been a dispute between wizards and goblins due to errors on both sides. Goblins can be bloodthirsty and cruel towards wizards and consider them to be arrogant while many wizards consider goblins inferior. Goblins have in the past, resenting the fact that they occupy positions as second-class citizens, resorted to violence in the form of rebellions and riots.
Goblins can use magic without the aid of a wand, although they are insulted by the refusal of wizards to allow them to use wands. In turn, goblins conceal the secrets of their own magic from wizards. Their weaponry and armour are nearly indestructible when created and have a very particular property.
- Bill: "You don't understand, Harry, nobody could understand unless they have lived with goblins. To a goblin, the rightful and true master of any object is the maker, not the purchaser. All goblin-made objects are, in goblin eyes, rightfully theirs."
- Harry: "But if it was bought --"
- Bill: "-- then they would consider it rented by the one who had paid the money. They have, however, great difficulty with the idea of goblin-made objects passing from wizard to wizard. You saw Griphook's face when the tiara passed under his eyes. He disapproves. I believe he thinks, as do the fiercest of his kind, that it ought to have been returned to the goblins once the original purchaser died. They consider our habit of keeping goblin-made objects, passing them from wizard to wizard without further payment, little more than theft."
- — Bill Weasley explaining goblin notions of payment and ownership[src]
Overall, goblins' idea of payment and repayment are not the same as humans. Goblins dislike theft, but use a different definition of the word. By goblin standards, the maker of an item, not the purchaser is the rightful owner; the purchaser is required to return the item to its maker upon his or her death. Goblins believe that the wizard paying for a goblin-made artefact is merely renting it, not owning it. Goblins consider the passing of an item from one wizard or witch to another without further payment to its maker "little more than theft", as Bill Weasley puts it.
Goblins also hold debt to extremes, as they hunted down Ludo Bagman after he lost a bet with them, and even though they took everything of value from him after he cheated them with Leprechaun gold, they still hounded him due to it being not enough to cover his debt. When Bagman ran out on his final loss against the goblins, they refused to side with the humans due to this cheat.
Behind the Scenes
- According to W.O.M.B.A.T., it is possible that goblins fear sunlight, which may explain why Humans guarded the outside doors of Gringotts.
- At Gringotts, goblins appear to have a lounge, where they can relax and dance. It is located in Vault 712.
- Goblins are known to have not agreed with the Statute of Secrecy summit decisions of 1692.
- In LEGO Harry Potter: Years 1-4 the goblin that asked Hagrid for Harry's keys appeared to have been taking notes. However, when the goblin went to fetch Griphook, Hagrid caught a glimpse of the paper, revealing it to have simply been a child's drawing of a house.
- Given that there were never any female goblins featured in Harry Potter, it is possible that goblins have stereotypical sexist beliefs that women should do domestic labour, and female goblins therefore do domestic chores for their working husbands.
- Goblin ideas of ownership are similar to the theory of Georgism.
- Rowling perhaps used the fact that the goblins were a vital part of Wizarding life, controlling their only bank, no matter how wizards see goblins as an inferior race, inspired by the prejudice of Nazi against Jews (hitherto anti-Semitism) and Adolf Hitler's theory of Jews coverting world domination by controlling banks all over the world. This is supported by the fact that some wizards, like Hermione Granger, see this prejudice in a negative way.
- Goblins have the power to do magic. However, in LEGO Harry Potter: Years 1-4, they only come with a key.
- In Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2, many of the Gringotts goblins were portrayed by members of Willow Management, an agency founded in part by Warwick Davis, specializing in representing actors under 5 feet tall.
- Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone (First appearance)
- Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone (film)
- Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone (video game)
- Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets
- Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets (video game)
- Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban (Mentioned only)
- Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire
- Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix
- Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix (film)
- Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince
- Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince (film)
- 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 and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2
- Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2 (video game)
- LEGO Harry Potter: Characters of the Magical World
- LEGO Harry Potter: Years 1-4
- LEGO Harry Potter: Years 5-7
- Harry Potter LEGO Sets
- Harry Potter Trading Card Game