"The giant, spectral dog that haunts churchyards! My dear boy, it is an omen—the worst omen—of death!"
Sybill Trelawney discussing the Grim with Harry Potter.[src]

The Grim is an omen of death, which is reputed to bring about the demise of the person who encounters it. The Grim takes the shape of a large, black, menacing, spectral dog. A well-known of omens,[1] the Grim has earned infamy throughout the wizarding world and is considered to be one of the worst, if not the worst, omens around.


Harry Potter's 'encounters' with the Grim

"Oh, for goodness’ sake! Not that ridiculous Grim again!"
—Hermione Granger, after Professor Trelawney claims to see the Grim in Harry's crystal ball
At one point in life prior to 1993, Ron's uncle Bilius was rumoured to have seen a Grim and died a day later.

In 1993, after accidentally inflating his aunt, Marjorie Dursley, Harry Potter ran away from number 4 Privet Drive, and by the time he reached Magnolia Crescent he witnessed "the hulking outline of something very big, with wide, gleaming eyes". Shocked, he stepped backwards and fell off the curb, into the street, and inadvertently summoned the Knight Bus to his rescue. By the time Harry had got back up again, the creature has vanished. Harry, describing it as "like a dog... but massive",[2] departed for Diagon Alley. Whilst in Flourish and Blotts in Diagon Alley, he noticed a book, entitled Death Omens: What to Do When You Know the Worst is Coming with the front cover depicting a large black dog with gleaming eyes, strikingly similar to the one he witnessed on Magnolia Crescent.

Tea leaves 1

The Grim in Harry's teacup during Divination

The term 'Grim' was only first mentioned to Harry by Professor Trelawney during a Divination lesson studying the art of Tessomancy. When the tea leaves revealed the Grim, a horrified Professor Trelawney informed Harry, that the Grim is the possible omen of death. Harry's stomach "lurched" upon remembering he had witnessed the dog at Magnolia Crescent.[3]

Later, during a Gryffindor versus Hufflepuff Quidditch match, Harry saw a "the silhouette of an enormous shaggy black dog" in the topmost empty row of seats,[4] which wildly distracted him. When he glanced back, the dog had disappeared. Seconds later approximately one-hundred Dementors entered the proximity of the stadium, causing Harry to fall unconscious, plummeting fifty feet from his broom

The 'Grim' Harry witnessed on multiple occasions was revealed to be Sirius Black in his Animagus form, who had recently escaped from Azkaban Prison. Therefore, Harry actually never witnessed the Grim, only believing he had done so. Although he was prophesied the Grim by Trelawney, like many of her other prophecies, it did not come true.

Biology and physical description

The Grim takes the form of a jet-black dog of giant, bear-like size, and is pertained to be spectral. It has a pair of yellow eyes that can gleam in an ominous way.

Scepticism regarding the Grim

"There you are then. They see the Grim and die of fright. The Grim's not an omen, it's the cause of death!"
Hermione Granger arguing with Ronald Weasley.[src]
Hermione Granger highly doubted the Grim's status as an omen of death, thinking that if the Grim even existed, it was most likely the cause of death rather than an omen, as people who ever saw it would die of fear; she took Ron's claim that his Uncle Bilius died twenty-four hours after seeing a Grim as proof to her belief. She also grew so tired of Professor Trelawney's continuous predictions regarding the Grim, such that when she claimed to see it in a crystal ball, she stalked out of class and never returned. Also, the assistant in Flourish and Blotts may have expressed a degree of scepticism, as he discouraged Harry from buying Death Omens: What to Do When You Know the Worst is Coming, saying "Oh, I wouldn't read that if I were you. You'll start seeing death omens everywhere, it's enough to frighten anyone to death".

Behind the scenes


Mary GrandPré header artwork of "Grim Defeat" chapter

Seamus Finnigan: "The Grin? What's the Grin?"
Bem: "Not the Grin, you idiot. The Grim. "Taking the form of a giant spectral dog, it's among the darkest omens in our world. It's an omen...of death."
— Bem explains the meaning of the Grim[src]
  • As the only known Grim in the Harry Potter series was actually Sirius Black transfigured, it is not known if the Grim actually exists within the Harry Potter universe.
  • Should the Grim truly exist, he may be an example of an animal ghost.
  • The chapter in which Harry falls from his broom during a Quidditch match after seeing what he believed to be the Grim is aptly named "Grim Defeat".
  • The Grim appears to be based on the Black Shuck of English folklore, or the Cù Sìth of Scottish mythology, black dogs which also signal death. The Grim may also be based on the Barghest, a large black dog in English legend.
  • The Grim's habit of haunting church yards could be a reference to the Church Grim of Scandinavian and English folklore. A guardian spirit created by burying a black dog alive when a new church was founded.
  • The Grim could be based on the urban legend of Cadejo Negro, a large black dog with glowing red eyes that is said to kill travellers at night. This beast is said to be stopped by it opposite, the Cadejo Blanco who protects travellers.
  • The Grim being a large black dog and the black shuck appear to be no coincidence as Black's nickname is Padfoot, this being one of the many alternate names of 'black ghostly dog' figures, and Black's transformed appearance is like that of the Grim.
  • In the film adaptation of Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, the Grim is shown as a gigantic black shadow in the sky. In the book and video game, the Grim is seen standing on the topmost seats in the Quidditch field.
  • In LEGO Harry Potter: Years 1-4, the Grim (Sirius Black) appears on a roundabout in the playground.


Notes and references

  1. Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban - "nearly everybody else [in the class] clapped their hands to their mouths in horror" at the mention of the Grim, despite it being their first Divination lesson. The Grim must have enough renown so that even students know of it.
  2. Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban Chapter 3 (The Knight Bus)
  3. Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban Chapter 6 (Talons and Tea Leaves)
  4. Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban Chapter 9 (Grim Defeat)
*Disclosure: Some of the links above are affiliate links, meaning, at no additional cost to you, Fandom will earn a commission if you click through and make a purchase. Community content is available under CC-BY-SA unless otherwise noted.

Fandom may earn an affiliate commission on sales made from links on this page.

Stream the best stories.

Fandom may earn an affiliate commission on sales made from links on this page.

Get Disney+