"Thin cords shot from Lupin's wand this time, and next moment, Pettigrew was wriggling on the floor, bound and gagged."

The Incarcerous Spell[2] (Incarcerous) is a spell that conjures thick ropes or thin cords from "thin air", that are used to bind the person or creature the caster is pointing his or her wand at.[1] This spell is also a form of Conjuration.


Since this spell is Conjuration an advanced form and branch of Transfiguration, it's therefore some of the most complex magic taught at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry and is N.E.W.T.-level feat, since most conjuration spells are only taught at N.E.W.T.-level.

Known uses

" Incarcerous!" A few of them stumbled, one or two of them bound in ropes, but those climbing onto the rock behind them merely stepped over or on the fallen bodies."
Harry Potter conjures ropes against attacking Inferi [src]
Caster(s) Date Notes
Quirinus Quirrell 4 June, 1992 Quirrell used this spell non-verbally on Harry Potter, during the Attack in the Underground Chambers.[3]
Severus Snape 6 June, 1994 Snape non-verbally conjured ropes to bind and gag Remus Lupin while in the Shrieking Shack.[4]
Snape uses this spell on Sirius Black when he finds him unconscious next to Hermione Granger and Harry Potter under the influence of Dementor.[4]
Remus Lupin Lupin in 1994 used this spell to bind and gag Peter Pettigrew in the Shrieking Shack, after forcing him out of his Animagus form.[4]
Peter Pettigrew 24 June, 1995 Pettigrew conjured ropes to bind Harry Potter to Tom Riddle Snr's gravestone in 1995.[5]
Albus Dumbledore Dumbledore likely cast this spell on Bartemius Crouch Junior after he revealed that he escaped from Azkaban and helped Lord Voldemort to capture Harry Potter.[6]
Dolores Umbridge 18 June, 1996 Umbridge conjured ropes to strangle a centaur named Magorian, during the Skirmish in the Forbidden Forest.[1]
Harry Potter 30 June, 1997 Harry conjured ropes which bound an Inferius in the Horcrux Cave in 1997, before the Battle of the Astronomy Tower
Harry used this spell again to conjure ropes in a failed attempt to stop Severus Snape fleeing from Hogwarts, during the Battle of the Astronomy Tower.
Antonin Dolohov 1 August, 1997 Dolohov used this spell during the Luchino Caffe Duel against Ron Weasley in 1997.[7]
Draco Malfoy September, 2020 Draco used this spell while duelling Harry Potter.[8]

Known practitioners


The incantation "incarcerous" most likely derives from the Latin word "incarcerus", meaning "to jail" or "to imprison".

  • "Incarcerus" is also the Danish translation of "Incarcerous".

Behind the scenes

  • In the books, the ropes simply wrap themselves around the centaur's arms and chest; in the film, they also encase his throat, slowly strangling and crushing him while forcing him to the ground. The ropes were animate and therefore could move and constrict their victims similarly to a constrictor snake.
  • In the film adaption of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 1, a Snatcher is seen casting this spell on Ron Weasley who is bound in chains, of course it could have been a similar spell such as "Incarcereta" (which was used in an early script of the Half Blood Prince film when Harry attacked Snape for killing Dumbledore) but it seems most likely that it was Incarcerous.
  • Also in the film adaption of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2, while fighting their way down to the boathouse, Harry is seen casting this spell where a great flash of orange light escapes his wand and a Death Eater that was trying to lunge at him was instantly bound in chains, again it is unclear if this was Incarcerous or a different capturing-type spell.
  • An etymologically and functionally related spell is Incarcifors, which transforms objects into prisons to restrict a person's movement.
  • Based on conjecture, it is likely that Relashio or Emancipare could act as counter-spells to Incarcerous. The Revulsion Jinx would be able to release a person from the binding ropes of Incarcerous, while the incantation for Emancipare is derived from Latin for "set free", suggesting its ability to release a person from any form of incarceration.
  • Based on the text files from the PC version of LEGO Harry Potter: Years 1-4, Incarcerous may have been intended to have a different effect from how it acts in the final game. In the released version of the game, Incarcerous is one of the "joke spells" used only to temporarily incapacitate minifigures. The text files of the game, however, call it "the Indy whip tie" [sic], presumably meaning the spell was originally meant to act similarly to Indiana Jones's whip from the LEGO Indiana Jones games.[9]

See also


Notes and references

  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 1.4 1.5 1.6 1.7 Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, Chapter 33 (Fight and Flight)
  2. LEGO Harry Potter: Years 1-4
  3. Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone, Chapter 17 (The Man with Two Faces)
  4. 4.0 4.1 4.2 Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, Chapter 19 (The Servant of Lord Voldemort)
  5. Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire
  6. Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, Chapter 36 (The Parting of the Ways) - "Then he raised his wand once more and ropes flew out of it, ropes that twisted themselves around Barty Crouch, binding him tightly."
  7. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Chapter 9 (A Place to Hide)
  8. Harry Potter and the Cursed Child, Act Two, Scene Thirteen
  9. LEGO Harry Potter: Years 1-4 (Windows) on The Cutting Room Floor