- Ron Weasley: "Immortality."
- Hermione Granger: "It means you'll never die."
- — Meaning of immortality[src]
Immortality (or eternal life) is the concept of living in a physical form for an infinite or inconceivably vast length of time. Immortality is one of the known limits to magic; it is nearly impossible to make oneself immortal; the only known and working ways are making and using a mystical object of great power to sustain life (such as the Philosopher's Stone created by Nicolas Flamel or a Horcrux, the latter having been used by Lord Voldemort).
If one were to possess the three Deathly Hallows, it is fabled that they would possess the tools to become the "Master of Death". However, being a true "Master of Death" is to be willing to accept that death is inevitable.
Immortality is not to be confused with amortality, which is for something being unable to die due to never having been alive.
Elixir of Life
The Philosopher's Stone, a stone created by famous alchemist Nicolas Flamel, is able to produce the Elixir of Life, one of the known means of immortality. In 1991 and 1992, a weakened Lord Voldemort tried to gain possession of the Stone so he could rise again after his downfall ten years prior. The Stone was then destroyed by Albus Dumbledore and Nicolas Flamel himself in order to prevent this from happening again. With the destruction of the Philosopher's Stone, all individuals who were immortal because they drank the Elixir of Life (like Flamel and his wife) died after the supply of Elixir ran out.
The Elixir does not truly grant immortality, as it only extends the drinker's lifespan, as opposed to rendering them invulnerable to damage. Thus, it is possible for them to die even while drinking the potion. It must be drunk regularly, for all eternity, to maintain one's eternal youth.
A Horcrux is an object chosen for the purpose of being a receptacle of part of one's soul, split by doing the most inhumane action: murder. If all the Horcruxes (and by extension the wizard's soul) are intact, the wizard is considered immortal. Splitting one's soul is considered a violation of the very laws of nature, and existence in such a form is preferred by very few, and is therefore considered Dark Arts of the most vile. Herpo the Foul was the first wizard ever to create a Horcrux, and therefore the person to be accredited to this Dark magic's discovery.
Lord Voldemort split his soul six times in order to maintain his status of immortal being, and kept his Horcurxes a secret from absolutely everyone to protect his own life. He had intended to split his soul into seven pieces, six pieces residing in Horcruxes. He is the only wizard in history to have created more than one Horcrux and therefore considered the one closest to true immortality. Unbeknown to him, his soul was split a seventh time. The seven Horcruxes were all items owned by reputable people that played an important — or scarring — role in his life, including the Four Founders. His best plans were, however, beaten due to his arrogance, when Regulus Black, Albus Dumbledore, Harry Potter, Ron Weasley and Hermione Granger discovered his secret and found each one of his Horcruxes and destroyed them (Vincent Crabbe also destroyed one, but he did it unknowingly and likely did not know that Voldemort had any at all), returning Voldemort his mortality and led to his eventual and final death.
Whenever phoenixes die, whether from old age or something like a Killing Curse, they will always be reborn from their remaining ashes, technically making them immortal. They are so far the only living beings who possess natural immortality, as it seems there is no known method to truly and permanently kill a phoenix. They are also the only creatures who defy the absolute law that nothing can truly bring back the dead. A phoenix bursting into flames to die and then to be reborn (usually by old age) is known as a Burning Day.
Fawkes, the pet phoenix of Albus Dumbledore, has been reborn from old age many times, and revived instantly from his remaining ashes when swallowing Lord Voldemort's Killing Curse meant for Dumbledore during their duel in the Ministry Atrium, he exploded after swallowing it.
Unicorn blood has the gift to save a drinker from death even when they are nearing it. This makes it similar to the Elixir of Life, which also extends the life of the drinker. However, if taken, it will lead the drinkers to be cursed for all life, as they had slayed an innocent creature for self-preservation. It has never been clarified if a second person who never killed a unicorn drank its blood would be cursed the same.
Quirinus Quirrell drank unicorn's blood while he was possessed by Voldemort, in order to maintain his near-end life due to the strain of sharing body with the Dark Lord, until they can gain access to the Elixir of Life. Later, Voldemort had Peter Pettigrew to craft a Dark potion that requires unicorn blood as one of the ingredients to regain his rudimentary physical form, which would require him continuous intake of the potion to maintain the little health he regained.
|Herpo the Foul||Horcrux||Unknown||The first wizard to create a Horcrux. Both his and said Horcrux's current status remains unknown.|
|Nicolas Flamel||Elixir of Life||Deceased||Immortal for 666 years, with the destruction of the Philosopher's Stone and the eventual depletion of Elixir of Life, Nicolas and his wife passed away eventually.|
|Perenelle Flamel||Elixir of Life||Deceased||Immortal for 658 years, with the destruction of the Philosopher's Stone and the eventual depletion of Elixir of Life, Perenelle and her husband passed away eventually.|
|Tom Riddle||Multiple Horcruxes||Deceased||The only wizard to have created multiple Horcruxes. He remained immortal for 55 years (from age 16 to 71) before the destruction of all of his Horcruxes, and died when his Killing Curse rebounded.|
|Fawkes||Phoenix||Alive||As a phoenix, Fawkes is immortal, forever within the death-and-rebirth cycle of his species.|
|Sparky||Phoenix||Alive||As a phoenix, Sparky is immortal, forever within the death-and-rebirth cycle of his species.|
Behind the scenes
- Many wizards believe that the person who masters the three Deathly Hallows (which are the Elder Wand, the Resurrection Stone and the Cloak of Invisibility) will be the Master of Death and will achieve some form of immortality, while a larger proportion dismiss both the concept and the three artefacts as a fairy-tale. However, becoming immortal from gathering the three is a misconception, as being a true Master of Death is realising and accepting the fact that everyone will die and there are worse things than death. Harry Potter collected the three Hallows and was willing to accept death and so became the Master of Death. According to Dumbledore, the Hallows were a desperate man's dream, dangerous, and a lure for fools. Indeed, many died in their pursuit of the Hallows and the "Master of Death" legend.
- Voldemort chose the usage of Horcruxes for his immortality due to his refusal to be reliant on anything but himself; he found the usage of the Elixir of Life to be dependent on drinking it for all eternity and the stone required to create the potion, which he could not accept. Relying on external vessels for his soul fragments, however, was acceptable, since they are magical extensions of himself.
- 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 (film)
- Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets (video game)
- Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire
- Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire (film)
- Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire (video game)
- Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix
- Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix (film)
- Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix (video game)
- Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince
- Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince (film)
- Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince (video game)
- Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows
- Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 1
- Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2
- Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 1 (video game)
- Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2 (video game)