- "They are corpses, dead bodies that have been bewitched to do a Dark wizard's bidding. Inferi have not been seen for a long time, however, not since Voldemort was last powerful... He killed enough people to make an army of them, of course."
- — Description of an Inferi[src]
An Inferius (pl. Inferi) was a dead body, reanimated by a Dark Wizard's curse. They were similar, but intrinsically distinct from a zombie. Inferi were created through the magical branch of Dark Arts called Necromancy, which was the art of raising the dead. The spells used to reanimate the corpse were complex.
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 of the stone's abilities was 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 number of people he murdered. He placed such an army within the lake of Salazar Slytherin's Locket's hiding place.
The Inferi in question were mostly vagrant, homeless Muggles murdered by Voldemort, but some of them were the earthly remains of wizards and witches who 'disappeared' during the war without explanation. This could possibly include wizards from the Ministry, members of the Order that were never found, or just random unlucky witches and wizards.
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. Regulus' body most likely remains in the crystal cave as part of Voldemort's army.
Second Wizarding War
During the 1996–1997 school year, Professor Severus Snape taught his sixth year Defence Against the Dark Arts class about the Inferi. In his first lesson, he showed them gruesome pictures of a person killed by an Inferi, as a bloody mass upon ground.
Later that year, Harry Potter and Albus Dumbledore encountered the very same army of Inferi as Regulus in their attempt to destroy Voldemort's locket Horcrux. At a point in time Dumbledore deduced the location of one of Voldemort's Horcruxes and discovered its hiding place as a crystal cave by the sea. At first, the Inferi remained inert as the two sailed in the boat towards the central island. Harry saw something move below the water and at that time that was the most physical movement they showed.
When Dumbledore suffered from the Drink of Despair's thirst-inducing effects, Harry had to take some water from the lake (as this was the only option available to quench the thirst). Contact with the water triggered the Inferi, whom 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.
For some reason Voldemort did not have his Inferi Army join the rest of his forces to participate in the Battle of Hogwarts. It's possible that he had no way to transfer them from his cave, though there is a distinct chance that they did participate and simply weren't noticed by Harry. It's unknown what happened to the Inferi after the end of the Second Wizarding War, though it is possible that since the magic animating them originated with Voldemort and said magic often dies when the wizard who cast it dies, the Inferi merely returned to being actual dead corpses.
2014 Quidditch World Cup
- "Malicious and baseless…"
- — The ICWQC on rumours that Haitian National Quidditch team[src]
In 2014, rumours that the Haitian National Quidditch team was using Inferi to intimidate other teams were dismissed by the International Confederation of Wizards Quidditch Committee as untrue. However, the rumours proved true when Inferi attacked crowds in the opening ceremony of the 2014 Quidditch World Cup, devouring those who tripped. In the end, 300 casualties from shock, broken bones, and bites resulted from the disastrous opening ceremony, one being an infected Sasabonsam bite on Jamaican keeper Kquewanda Bailey.
An Inferius was a grisly puppet. The Inferi were gaunt, skeletal beings that closely resembled zombies. Being human corpses, they had individual appearances based on the humans they had been created from. For example, one Inferius might have dull teeth, while another might have sharp teeth. Some might have hair, others might not have any at all - depending on the age of the human at time of death and the corpse's state of decay. The most obvious sign that one was facing an Inferius rather than a living human were the white and cloudy eyes, indicating their owner was devoid of any form of life.
The spells used to reanimate a human body were much more complex than those used, for instance, to make inanimate objects fly. The Inferius might be cursed to respond lethally if disturbed, to kill indiscriminately, and to undertake perilous jobs for its master. Its limitations were, however, obvious; it had no will and no brain of its own, and would not be able to think its way out of unforeseen trouble. As a warrior or guardian with no regard for its own safety, however, it had many uses.
Due to their status as being unfeeling dead, the Inferi were immune to bodily damages such as slashing, and had great physical strength, enough to kill a human or drag them away. Due to their superior strength and surprising speed, they were especially dangerous en masse.
As no spell could bring back the dead, the Inferi were not alive, just corpse puppets. Despite this, it may have been possible that they could speak. Preserved indefinitely by dark magic, an Inferius could only be destroyed by fire, for no spell had been found to render dead flesh impervious to burning. Inferi were therefore enchanted to avoid flames by their master.
Defence against Inferi
Because Inferi were creatures of the dark, they disliked light and heat (no spell had been found to render dead flesh impervious to burning). The most effective spell against them was therefore a fire-summoning spell, such as Firestorm. Because of this, the Inferi were enchanted by their master to avoid flames. 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 were resistant to most spells: they couldn't feel pain, and thus were unaffected by many attacks whose main effect was pain such as the Cruciatus Curse. This was evident when Harry Potter attempted to use the dark spell Sectumsempra on the Inferi in the Crystal Cave, as they had no blood to spill.
Inferius is a tampered form of the Latin word for "underneath; below", Inferus, but with an obvious connotation of being 'lesser' than a living human. Meanwhile, Inferi means "the dead; underworld". J. K. Rowling has changed this real Latin words to form these Creatures.
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.
- Zombies are different from Inferi, although they have much in common. It seems that zombies are naturally formed, while Inferi are artificially created. J. K. Rowling decided against naming the Inferi zombies because zombies are not part of British folklore. Also, one tradition has the sorcerer using a zombie's soul, or part of it, to sustain himself, which she decided conflicted with her Horcrux story.
- In the first part video game adaptation of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Inferi appear again, despite them not being in the mainstream storyline.
- "Inferi have much in common with zombies, which are mentioned as separate creatures within Harry's world. I had several good reasons for not wishing to call the guardians of the locket Horcrux 'zombies'. Firstly, zombies are not part of British folklore, but associated with the myths of Haiti and parts of Africa. While the students of Hogwarts would learn about them, they would not expect to meet them walking down the streets of Hogsmeade. Secondly, while zombies of the Vodou tradition can be nothing more than reanimated corpses, a separate but related tradition has it that the sorcerer uses their souls, or part of their souls, to sustain himself. This conflicted with my Horcrux story, and I did not wish to suggest that Voldemort had any more use for his Inferi than as guards of his Horcrux. Lastly, zombies have been represented and reinterpreted on film so often in the last fifty years that they have a whole raft of associations that were of no use to me. I'm part of the 'Thriller' generation; to me, a zombie will always mean Michael Jackson in a bright red bomber jacket.
- The name Inferius was a play on 'Inferus', which is Latin for 'below', but with an obvious connotation of being 'lesser' than a living human. 'Inferi' means the underworld."
- 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 (Mentioned only)
- Wizarding World
- Harry Potter: A Pop-Up Book
- LEGO Harry Potter: Years 5-7
- Harry Potter for Kinect
- Harry Potter: The Creature Vault
- Harry Potter: Wizards Unite
- Hogwarts Legacy
Notes and references
- Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, Chapter 26 (The Cave)
- Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, Chapter 4 (Horace Slughorn)
- Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, Chapter 21 (The Unknowable Room)
- Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Chapter 3 (The Dursleys Departing)
- Writing by J.K. Rowling: "Inferi" at Wizarding World
- The Tales of Beedle the Bard - "The Tale of the Three Brothers"
- Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Chapter 35 (King's Cross)
- Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Chapter 10 (Kreacher's Tale)
- Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, Chapter 3 (Will and Won't)
- Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, Chapter 9 (The Half-Blood Prince)
- Quidditch World Cup 2014: Daily Prophet reports from Pottermore (via The Internet Archive)
- The fact that Inferi are able of speech is hinted at in the second W.O.M.B.A.T. featured in J. K. Rowling's official site. Question 1 (Part One - Magical Beings) is "Which of the following statements is TRUE?", and one of the possible answers is "Inferi cannot speak". As one of the other answers is known for certain to be true ("Hags eat small children" — the Chocolate Frog Cards reveal that Babayaga fed on children for breakfast; and the Daily Prophet Newsletters say that Regulus Moonshine developed a potion to suppress hags' "normal appetite for human flesh"), then all of the other answers must be false, including the one that says Inferi cannot speak.