The Inferi are gaunt, skeletal beings that closely resemble zombies. Being human corpses, they have individual appearances based on the humans they were created from.
Inferi have no free will, and cannot think for themselves; their purpose is merely to serve as puppets of the Dark Wizard who reanimated them. As no spell can bring back the dead, the Inferi are not alive, just corpse puppets. Despite this, they can apparently speak.
Due to their status as being unfeeling dead, the Inferi are immune to bodily damages such as slashing, and have great physical strength, enough to kill a human or drag them away. Due to their superior strength, they are especially dangerous in mass.
Defence against Inferi
Because Inferi are creatures of the dark, they dislike light and heat. The most effective spell against them is therefore a fire-summoning spell, such as Firestorm. Other spells might work against a few Inferi, but might not be useful against a whole army of them. It must be noted that Inferi are resistant to most spells: they cannot feel pain, and thus are unaffected by many attacks whose main effect is pain such as the Cruciatus Curse. This is evident when Harry Potter attempts to use the dark spell Sectumsempra on the Inferi in the Horcrux cave, as they have no blood to spill.
In 1899, it was mentioned that the dark wizard, Gellert Grindelwald, sought to create an army of Inferi, and believed that the Resurrection Stone could grant him such powers. It is unknown as to whether he succeeded, though his conception on the stone's abilities were in fact incorrect, as it brings back souls from the realm of the dead as more-than-ghost but less-than-alive state, not as a living body.
First Wizarding War
During the First Wizarding War, Voldemort was known to have created an army of Inferi from the large amount of people he killed. He placed such an army within the lake of Salazar Slytherin's Locket's hiding place. In 1979, when Regulus Black attempted to destroy the said Horcrux, he succumbed to the Drink of Despair's effects and tried to take a drink of water from the lake, only to trigger the Inferi and was killed by them. Kreacher, his house elf, managed to make it out of the cave with the locket.
Second Wizarding War
Not exactly counted as a real encounter, but worth mentioning: Mundungus Fletcher was arrested and put into Azkaban because he disguised himself as an Inferius after being caught during an attempted burglary.
Hunting for Horcruxes
In 1997, Harry Potter and Albus Dumbledore encountered the very same army of Inferi as Regulus in their attempt to destroy Voldemort's locket Horcrux. At first, they remained inert as the two sailed in the boat towards the central island. However, when Dumbledore suffered from the Drink of Despair's thirst-inducing effects, Harry had to take some water from the lake, triggering the Inferi, who nearly dragged Harry to the depths of the lake to drown. Dumbledore successfully repelled them by conjuring a ring of fire, big enough to surround both Harry and himself. Once all the Inferi returned into the lake, they did not resurface when Dumbledore's ring of fire faltered.
"Inferius" is Latin for "underneath; below." It could also be a tampered form of "inferus", or "the dead; underworld." As J. K. Rowling sometimes changes real Latin words to form some incantations, or names of creatures or people, it could well be that the second meaning is the correct one.
Behind the scenes
- According to W.O.M.B.A.T., Inferi may have the ability to speak.
- Inferi may have been briefly referred to by Voldemort in the Little Hangleton Graveyard as part of an "army of creatures whom all fear".
- Inferi may be incredibly strong as a picture in Snape's Defence Against the Dark Arts class shows a bloody mass on the floor, attributing to a person provoking the anger of an Inferius. Alternatively, this could be attributed to their viciousness and implacability.
- It is unknown if there is any difference between Inferi and zombies, as they both seem to be reanimated corpses. However, it seems that zombies are naturally formed, while Inferi are artificially created.
- In first part video game adaption of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Inferi appear again, despite them not being in the mainstream storyline.
- Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince (First appearance)
- Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince (film)
- Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince (video game)
- Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows (Mentioned only)
- Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 1 (video game)
- The Tales of Beedle the Bard (real)
- Harry Potter: A Pop-Up Book
- LEGO Harry Potter: Years 5-7
Notes and references