- "Lily, take Harry and go! It's him! Go! Run! I'll hold him off —"
- — James protecting his family against Lord Voldemort[src]
James Potter I (27 March, 1960 - 31 October, 1981), also known as Prongs, was an English pure-blood wizard and the only son of Fleamont and Euphemia Potter. He was also the grandson of Henry Potter, whom he named his son after. He attended Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry from 1971-1978 and was sorted into Gryffindor.
When James started at Hogwarts, he met and became best friends with three fellow Gryffindor students: Remus Lupin, Sirius Black, and Peter Pettigrew. He also met Severus Snape, a Slytherin student with whom he became bitter rivals. During his seventh year, James was appointed Head Boy and began dating Lily Evans.
After graduating from Hogwarts, he married Lily and together they had a son, Harry James Potter, of whom he made Sirius Black the godfather. James, Lily, and their friends all fought in the First Wizarding War as members of the Order of the Phoenix; he and his wife defied Lord Voldemort three times. However, James and Lily were forced to go into hiding after a prophecy was made concerning Voldemort and their infant son. James and Lily were ultimately betrayed to Voldemort by one of their close friends (Peter Pettigrew).
As a result of this, James was tragically murdered by Voldemort on Hallowe'en in 1981. He and his wife died while trying to protect infant Harry.
James briefly appeared again in May 1998 through the Resurrection Stone. He appeared through it along with Lily (his wife), Sirius Black and Remus Lupin (his friends). After the Second Wizarding War, James posthumously had three grandchildren through his son: James Sirius, Albus Severus, and Lily Luna Potter, the first of whom was named after his grandfather and his father's godfather (and friend of the former).
Early life (1960–1971)
- "They had quite given up hope of a son or daughter when, to their shock and surprise, Euphemia found that she was pregnant and their beloved boy, James, was born."
- — James is born to Fleamont and Euphemia Potter[src]
James Potter was born on 27 March, 1960 to Fleamont Potter and his wife Euphemia. Fleamont was an accomplished, yet retired cosmetic potioneer and entrepreneur best known for inventing Sleekeazy's Hair Potion in 1926. Both Fleamont and Euphemia were elderly even by wizarding standards.
Having been conceived so late in his parents' lives, he was raised in a doting household with little material limits, and pampered a great deal. Hence, it was no surprise that he grew to be proud, arrogant, and boastful, but deep down still a good person.
Hogwarts years (1971–1978)
James started his first year at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry in 1971 and was Sorted into Gryffindor house. While there, he befriended fellow Gryffindors Sirius Black, Remus Lupin, and Peter Pettigrew, and together they formed a small gang known only to themselves as the Marauders. Though more mischievous than diligent, James proved to be a clever student.
At some point during his education he became Chaser for his house's Quidditch team, in which he was completely aware of his talent. It is possible that he also collected Chocolate Frog Cards, as at an unknown time, the History of Magic teacher, Professor Cuthbert Binns, gave him the Circe card, which later came into the possession of Quirinus Quirrell, who kept it in Gringotts Wizarding Bank in Vault 998.
At some time at school, he and Sirius used an illegal hex (perhaps Engorgio Skullus) on Bertram Aubrey which caused his head to grow twice its original size. It is unknown what motivated the duo to hex him, though it rewarded them a double detention.
As second years, James, Sirius, and Peter figured out that Remus was a werewolf, but rather than abandoning him (James, in particular, insisted this monthly hazard did not mean Remus was truly abnormal), they spent three years learning to become Animagi in order to accompany Remus in his transformations. In his fifth year, James managed to perfect the transformation and become a stag Animagus, which earned him the nickname "Prongs". Using their new nicknames, the four friends created the Marauder's Map, which displayed the Hogwarts Castle area and everyone within it —including all staff, ghosts and students — in their current location at a given time, and thus made sneaking out of the castle and avoiding teachers much easier.
For the vast majority of his time at school, James was somewhat an obnoxious youth with a love of showing off and exceptional self-confidence that bordered on arrogance. Severus Snape once said that he was so arrogant that "criticism simply bounced off him". This rebellious attitude was notably shaped by the negative qualities he developed, such as the habit of ruffling his already messy hair to make it even untidier to look as though he had just alighted from his broomstick. Also hexing innocent students for no other reason than because he could (especially Snape, a Slytherin in the same year as him). These qualities came about as a result of his pampered and spoiled upbringing.
James and Snape had a strong rivalry throughout their time at Hogwarts. To Remus and Sirius, the reason this rivalry began was due to Snape's jealousy over James' talent at Quidditch and his popularity, as well as Snape's interest in the Dark Arts, which James despised. However, it was later revealed that James and Sirius had got off on the wrong foot with Snape from the beginning: when they first met Snape during their first year on the Hogwarts Express, they insulted him (setting a solid foundation for rivalry), and their further interactions only served to make their rivalry intense and permanent — Snape followed the Marauders around, looking for reasons to get them expelled. James, in turn, used the hexes Snape himself had made up against him.
At some point in their school years, Snape grew very interested in where Remus went every month, and saw Madam Pomfrey and Remus going to the Shrieking Shack using a secret passage under the Whomping Willow. Sirius had, as a joke, told him that the trick to getting past the Whomping Willow was to poke the knot at the bottom. Snape followed Sirius's directions, and was nearly at the Shrieking Shack when James pulled him back. At great risk to his own life, James saved Severus from certain death from Remus in werewolf form, but Snape adamantly refused to believe that his old rival would have done him a favour, believing that James had only saved him in order to avoid expulsion, and despised being in his debt.
James spent much of his academic career chasing after Lily Evans, an attractive Muggle-born fellow Gryffindor from Snape's hometown of Cokeworth who was secretly Snape's best friend and childhood crush since before they both started at Hogwarts. Lily was among those who were not so impressed of James, considering him arrogant and obnoxious.
She once demanded James to quit jinxing Snape for fun. The former and his friends were in the middle of bullying Snape with a spell of Snape's own invention. Lily told him to stop and James responded with, "I will if you'll go out with me, Evans." When James took the jinx off, Snape in his humiliation and anger, called Lily a "filthy little Mudblood." James demanded him to apologise, but Lily responded that James was as bad as Snape and she would not date him "even if it were a choice between him and the Giant Squid". Snape's friendship with the vivacious and pretty Lily may have sparked envy in James and further fuelled the hateful enmity between the two.
At the age of sixteen, James's parents allowed Sirius to move in with them so he could escape his own horrible family, and Sirius soon became an unofficial member of their family. By the time he was at his seventh year, James had matured to the point that he lost the more mischievous aspects of his personality, and was even appointed Head Boy alongside Lily, despite the fact that he had not been a prefect. He stopped hexing bystanders for fun, though he still secretly hexed Snape, and in turn, Snape never lost an opportunity to hex him back, although it's implied that James was willing to stop for Lily's sake. He also finally managed to impress Lily, and began dating her at this time.
In late 1977, Lily and James had a disastrous first meeting with Lily's sister Petunia Evans and her then-fiancé, Vernon Dursley, which presumably took place over Christmas break, as they were both still at Hogwarts. When Vernon tried to impress James with his car, the wizard in turn boasted of his own material wealth, and a row ensued. The evening ended with both Vernon and Petunia storming out of the restaurant and Lily bursting into tears, with James promising he'd apologise and make it up (which, due to his and Lily's untimely deaths, never happened). Petunia married by the end of that year. Though Lily and James were invited to the wedding, Petunia refused to have Lily as a bridesmaid, upsetting her deeply. At the reception, Vernon would not talk to James, but described him as "some magician" within his earshot.
First Wizarding War (1978–1981)
After graduation (at only eighteen years old) James married Lily Evans and Sirius served as their best man at the wedding. It was a quiet ceremony because of the dangers of the First Wizarding War. Lily's older sister Petunia did not attend, for she was highly against Lily being a witch and marrying a wizard. It is highly likely that Remus Lupin and Peter Pettigrew attended, as they were best friends of James. Both James' parents, Fleamont and Euphemia Potter attended the wedding. It's unknown as to whether either of Lily's parents attended as well.
Order of the Phoenix
James, Lily, and Sirius (along with Remus and Peter) joined the Order of the Phoenix, in the fight against Lord Voldemort and his Death Eaters. In around 1977, he and Sirius were involved in a motorbike chase with two Muggle policemen. Although the chase started off as a bit of fun, it turned slightly more serious when the pair were attacked by three men on broomsticks. Sirius and James used their wands to raise the police car that had been chasing them, and their attackers crashed into it.
During the course of the next three years, James and Lily defied the Dark Lord three times as the war continued. The first was when they refused to join Voldemort's side when he attempted to recruit them.
At some point between 1979 and 1980, James' parents died of Dragon Pox, and he inherited the vast Potter family fortune from them, which enabled him to comfortably support his family without the need for a paying job. James also used his wealth to support Remus, who was unemployable due to his status as a werewolf.
Life in hiding
In the autumn of 1979, Lily became pregnant, which caused her and her husband to go into hiding.
On 31 July, 1980, Lily gave birth to their son, Harry James Potter, but it was not long before Albus Dumbledore found out that they were in the gravest of dangers: Harry had become a target of Lord Voldemort himself due to a prophecy concerning the one who could ultimately defeat him for good. Voldemort had learned of the prophecy through his follower, who was none other than a bitter old enemy of James as well as the former best friend of Lily: Snape.
In 1981, Dumbledore told the Potters that their best chance of remaining safe against Voldemort was the Fidelius Charm. James insisted on using Sirius as their Secret-Keeper, even though Dumbledore himself had offered to fill the position. However, Sirius had a different plan — he convinced James and Lily to use Peter Pettigrew as their Secret-Keeper instead, with him (Sirius) as a decoy. They agreed and Dumbledore cast the charm in secret, but this attempt at a double-bluff ended in tragedy. The only people to know about the switch were James, Lily, Sirius, and Peter. Even Dumbledore and Remus were kept in the dark. Less than a week later, Peter betrayed the Potters to Voldemort.
When the Dark Lord arrived at Godric's Hollow on Hallowe'en in 1981, James told Lily to take Harry and run. After his wife and son were out of the room, he stood to face the most dangerous Dark wizard of all time on his own, in order to give his wife and child time to escape the cottage. However, James had made a fatal mistake; he had left his wand in the living room, where he had been entertaining his young son with it before Voldemort's arrival. Voldemort effortlessly murdered him with the Killing Curse — James "fell like a marionette whose strings were cut".
Voldemort then proceeded upstairs to where Lily and the infant Harry were hiding. Voldemort murdered Lily who died protecting Harry, but thanks to her loving sacrifice, the Killing Curse Voldemort cast at Harry rebounded and destroyed the Dark Lord's body leaving Harry with only a lightning-bolt scar. Thus, Harry became known as "the Boy Who Lived" and whose name would be famous.
After James' and Lily's deaths, their son was raised by Lily's unloving sister, Petunia Dursley, and her grumpy husband, Vernon, along with their gluttonous son, Dudley. Despite not remembering his parents, Harry held them in high esteem. This faltered slightly where his father was concerned. He learned that James had been something of a bully in his youth, witnessing a memory of Snape's, in which James and Sirius picked on and humiliated Snape simply because they were bored.
Snape, who switched sides after Lily's death and became Potions professor at Hogwarts, treated Harry with disdain throughout his academic career, perceiving him to be "arrogant as his father, a determined rule-breaker... attention-seeking and impertinent". In revenge he frequently bullied and humiliated Harry.
Harry's memories of his parents
In an attempt to stay hidden from Argus Filch, the school caretaker, Harry stumbled upon the classroom where the mirror was being stored. Upon looking into it, Harry saw his late parents, Lily and James Potter. Over the next few days, Harry proceeded to visit it as often as he could to see his parents' faces. The Mirror also occupied his thoughts beyond anything else, to the extent that he disregarded Ron's warning that he was growing obsessed with it.
Harry only stopped visiting the mirror after Dumbledore found him one night. Dumbledore found Harry and explained what the mirror was all about. Dumbledore told him that the mirror was to be moved and requested that Harry not go looking for it. 1992 was the last time Harry saw his parents faces in the mirror. Later, at the end of Harry's first year, Rubeus Hagrid gave Harry a special photo album containing pictures of his parents.
In his third year, whenever Harry encountered a Dementor, he was forced to relive his parents' deaths. The death he was particularly forced to relive was Lily's. This could be due to Harry being in the same room as Lily when she died, while James was murdered in the hallway. Therefore, Harry did not witness nor hear James' death.
- "The smoky shadow of a tall man with untidy hair fell to the ground as Bertha had done, straightened up, and looked at him... and Harry, his arms shaking madly now, looked back into the ghostly face of his father."
- — James Potter's echo emerges as a result of Priori Incantatem[src]
In Harry's fourth year, Wormtail had placed Voldemort's rudimentary body into a cauldron containing the nearly finished potion. He added the first two ingredients: his hand and Harry's blood, as Voldemort believed it would make him stronger and make his enemy touchable. This was because he indirectly received Lily's sacrificial protection. However, this action also bound Harry's life to Voldemort again but inversely: Harry couldn't die as long as Voldemort still lived, which ironically meant he couldn't kill the boy.
On 24 June 1995 during Harry's duel with Voldemort in the Little Hangleton graveyard, they experienced Priori Incantatem. Shades of his mother and father, and others whom Voldemort had murdered came out of Voldemort's wand, encouraging Harry and distracting Voldemort so the younger wizard could escape from the graveyard.
In 1996, Harry also witnessed a memory of James viciously humiliating Snape back when they were Hogwarts students. James had suspended Snape in the air and went as far as taking Snape's trousers off in front of a large crowd of students. Harry was disgusted by James' attitude, despite his own hatred of Snape.
In 1998, Harry learned he was a Horcrux of Voldemort's, and walked toward his death in the Forbidden Forest. Upon entering, he used the Resurrection Stone to summon James and others who had perished in the war against Voldemort. James and Lily told Harry that they were tremendously proud of him, proud of his outstanding courage and strength, and assured him that they would stay with him until the very end. Harry described their very presence as his courage, the reason he was able to keep putting one foot in front of the other, with Lily smiling at him, and James nodding in encouragement.
James was a tall, thin man with hazel eyes and untidy black hair that stuck up at the back. During his Hogwarts years, he had an indefinable air of having been well cared for and even adored. As late as his fifth year, he started wearing glasses, though he had not in his first year.
His son, Harry, was constantly noted to look very much like him, having the same untidy hair, thin face, mouth, eyebrows, and even hands. However, as observed by Harry in Snape's worst memory, James' nose was slightly longer than his son's.
In his Animagus form, James was a tall and powerful red stag, large enough to subdue an adolescent werewolf alongside Sirius' bear-like black dog form.
Personality and traits
James was a clever and talented wizard, but very mischievous in his youth. He was arrogant and boastful. He occasionally bullied and jinxed other students just for fun, particularly his long-time rival, Severus Snape. However, even in this stage of arrogance, he still displayed some positive qualities of character. Despite being a pure-blood, he strongly disagreed with the concept of blood purity. He was disgusted with any prejudice towards Muggle-borns and did not hold prejudice towards werewolves (such as Remus Lupin, who was one of his dearest friends).
This loyalty he felt towards Lupin would extend to his adulthood. Demonstrated, when he used his wealth to support the unemployable Remus. Additionally, even despite his bad relationship with Snape, James never wanted him dead and even risked his life to prevent Snape from being killed by Lupin in his wolf form, showing he may humiliate but even at his worst he would never stoop to the level of murder by inaction. Snape would later point out that James was lazy.
- James Potter: "How'd the exam go, Snivelly?"
- Sirius Black: "I was watching him, his nose was touching the parchment. There'll be great grease marks all over it, they won't be able to read a word."
- Severus Snape: "You — wait. You — wait...."
- Sirius Black: "Wait for what? What're you going to do, Snivelly, wipe your nose on us?"
- James Potter: "Wash out your mouth. Scourgify!"
- — James and Sirius tormenting Snape in their fifth year[src]
James ultimately matured and changed his ways; he lost some of his arrogance and stopped using his magic irresponsibly on others. He became enough of a responsible student and leader to be Head Boy in his final year, and later a member of the original Order of the Phoenix. Though he never completely lost his rebellious side, it was clear James had left Hogwarts a far better person than he had been upon entering it.
His best quality was his willingness to sacrifice himself for his wife and son, as demonstrated when he told Lily to take Harry and run while he held off Voldemort, proving himself to be a true Gryffindor.
Magical abilities and skills
- "It took them the best part of three years to work out how to do it. Your father and Sirius here were the cleverest students in the school, and lucky they were, because the Animagus transformation can go horribly wrong —"
- — James' and Sirius' talent for transfiguration[src]
Since James was once asked by Voldemort to join his Death Eaters, this was clear proof that James was a highly powerful and accomplished wizard. Remus once stated that James had been one of the cleverest Hogwarts students of his time. He was able to conjure a corporeal stag Patronus, a mark of superior magical ability.
- Transfiguration: James' wand was said to be "excellent for Transfiguration", with his own skills showing his exceptional proficiency in this notably very difficult, scientific and even dangerous branch of magic. He was so skilled in Human Transfiguration, that he learned how to become an Animagus at the age of fifteen. He also very likely succeeded in this subject whilst as a Hogwarts student.
- Potions: James was exceptionally proficient in potion-making. At the age of fifteen, he successfully brewed an effective Animagus potion. This testified to his remarkable talent in the subject, as the Animagus potion was known to be highly complex, difficult to brew, and had great consequences if done incorrectly. Remus also described the Animagus transformation was a very difficult branch of magic that "could go horribly wrong". The fact that James not only succeeded at it (but also helped Peter to manage it as well) was concrete evidence of his being an skilled potioneer. It is possible that his exceptional talent in potions at such a young age stems from his extensive lineage. He is descended from great potioneers such as Linfred of Stinchcombe, his earliest ancestor and creator of the Pepper-Up Potion. He is also descended from Fleamont Potter, creator of Sleekeazy's Hair Potion (or simply Sleekeazy), which quadrupled the family fortune.
- Charms: James was highly talented in charm-work from a young age - he and his fellow Marauders managed to create the magically-complex Marauder's Map during their teenage years, with the Homonculous Charm, along with a Charm to insult Severus Snape. He was also able to cast the highly advanced Patronus Charm, conjuring a corporeal Patronus whose form was identical with his Animagus form, a stag. He could also cast simpler charms proficiently, such as the Disarming Charm and Scouring Charm, which he once used to bully Snape in his fifth year.
- Duelling: James was a highly skilful duellist. During his student years, he was able to humiliate Severus Snape, who was already a skilled wizard in his youth, albeit with help from Sirius Black. He could cast several offensive spells competently, such as the Disarming Charm, Impediment Jinx, Levicorpus (along with its counter-jinx Liberacorpus) and other hexes, which he often used to bully Snape. During the First Wizarding War he presumably took part in battles against the Death Eaters and other dark forces, surviving until the end of the war. He and his wife, Lily, also defied Voldemort himself three times, which showcased his exceptional talent in martial magic.
- "You fly as well as your father did, Harry..."
- — Sirius Black regarding James and Harry's talent for flying[src]
- Flying: James was an accomplished Quidditch player, playing Chaser for the Gryffindor Quidditch team during his school years. He was noted to have excellent reflexes, as seen when playing with a Snitch he had taken from the Quidditch supplies. Sirius also stated that Harry's Quidditch and flying skills were as good as those of James'.
- "Inside were mounds of gold coins. Columns of silver. Heaps of little bronze Knuts."
- — Description of the Potter fortune[src]
- Potter inheritance: When James' parents died, they left him a small fortune that he would later pass on to his son, Harry.
- Wand: James's wand was 11 inches long, mahogany, and had an unknown core. The wand was described as "pliable", slightly more powerful than Lily's wand, and "excellent for Transfiguration", which would later come in handy.
- Invisibility Cloak: James owned the invisibility cloak (actually one of the fabled Deathly Hallows) that he and his friends often used during their days at Hogwarts to assist them in their mischief. Albus Dumbledore had the cloak prior to James's death and later passed it down to Harry.
- Marauder's Map: The map was created by the Marauders between 1975 and 1978. It is a magical document that reveals all of Hogwarts. Not only does it show every classroom, every hallway, and every corner of the castle, but it also shows every inch of the grounds, as well as all the secret passages that are hidden within its walls and the location of every person in the grounds, portrayed by a dot. However, the Room of Requirement is not visible on the map, being the only known area of the castle not to be seen on the Map, other than the Chamber of Secrets.
- Two-way mirror: James owned this mirror during his school years; he and Sirius Black used a pair of two-way mirrors so they could talk to each other while they were in separate detentions. Sirius later gave James's mirror to Harry in 1996.
- Potter cottage: James owned cottage in Godric's Hollow along with his wife Lily, during the final weeks of the First Wizarding War. This is where he and his wife were murdered and his son Harry was marked as the "Boy Who Lived". The cottage still stands as a reminder of what happened that Hallowe'en night in 1981.
- Cat: This was a pet of the Potter family. What happened to it after the attack is unknown.
James was born into a very wealthy pure-blood family. He had an excellent relationship with his parents, who loved him very much. His father was Sorted in Gryffindor and used to tell him about how the house prized bravery and boldness above all other qualities. James' parents were on the older side when he was born and died before he was murdered in 1981.
- "Messing up your hair because you think it looks cool to look like you've just got off your broomstick, showing off with that stupid Snitch, walking down corridors and hexing anyone who annoys you just because you can — I'm surprised your broomstick can get off the ground with that fat head on it. You make me SICK."
- — Lily's negative opinion of James' character[src]
James's relationship with Lily Evans was initially a rocky one. While James was a popular student and talented Quidditch player, well-liked by most, Lily was unimpressed with him. This had to do with James' hostile relationship with her best friend, Severus Snape and because of James' bad habit of hexing innocent students just for the fun of it.
James had developed romantic feelings for Lily by his fifth year. He was always going out of his way to try to impress her, only to end up making a fool out of himself most of the time. She still regarded him as an arrogant bully, treating him with absolute disdain. In their seventh year, however, Lily was finally willing to go out with James, after he smoothed out and stopped hexing people for the fun of it (though she was unaware he still hexed Snape).
The two were Head Boy and Head Girl at Hogwarts and married soon after graduation. James and Lily were both members of the Order of the Phoenix, and together defied Voldemort himself three times. Their son, Harry James Potter, was born on 31 July, 1980.
- "When the connection is broken, we will linger for only moments... but we will give you time... you must get to the Portkey, it will return you to Hogwarts... do you understand, Harry?"
- — James Potter's echo to his son Harry in the Little Hangleton graveyard[src]
Harry was born to James and Lily Potter on 31 July, 1980, they loved their son more than anything. On Hallowe'en night in 1981 they sacrificed themselves at 21 years old, in order to save him from Lord Voldemort, when he was just an infant. Albus Dumbledore always maintained that Harry's love for his parents and the love they had in return for him, was his greatest power.
Harry regarded his parents with great reverence, and fiercely defended their memories. In 1995, he punched Draco Malfoy for insulting his mother, and he frequently became furious with Professor Snape, who taunted Harry that James was not the great man others made him out to be. Much to Harry's horror, Snape was proven right in the spring of 1996, when Harry accidentally witnessed James bullying Snape in one of his memories during Harry's Occlumency lessons (via Albus Dumbledore's Pensieve). However, Remus Lupin and Sirius Black assured him that his father was no longer the bully that he once was. He matured and changed his ways, or he would never have become Head Boy and his mother would have never agreed to go out with him, let alone fall in love and marry him.
The few times Harry ever saw his parents were through pictures given to him by Rubeus Hagrid, a vision within the Mirror of Erised, spectral forms which came out of Voldemort's wand during Priori Incantatem, stored memories within the Pensieve, and again as spectral forms when he "recalled" them during the Battle of Hogwarts, by using the Resurrection Stone. His spirit was described as "exactly the same height as Harry. He was wearing the clothes in which he had died, and his hair was untidy and ruffled, and his glasses were a little lopsided, like Mr Weasley's, a loving smile on his face". Both James and Lily told their son that they were tremendously proud of him, for being so brave and strong despite all the pain and suffering he had to endure, and provided him with the support he needed to sacrifice himself to Voldemort. Harry later avenged his father when he killed Voldemort at the end of the Battle of Hogwarts.
It's also seen that James calls Harry by a name of affection, he has on different occasions referred to him as "son". Harry eventually named two of his children after his late parents and godfather, James Sirius and Lily Luna Potter.
James's first meeting with his brother-in-law Vernon Dursley went badly. Vernon asked James what car he drove, but James described his racing broom, thus Vernon started patronising him and finally offended James by supposing out loud that wizards had to live on unemployment benefit. Having heard from the wizard that he had a fortune in solid gold, he grew angry and stormed out of the restaurant, where they had met with their wives. After that Vernon refused to talk with James, but described him, within James' earshot, as "some kind of amateur magician".
After Lily and James' deaths, Vernon and Petunia reluctantly adopted Harry due to the sacrificial protection that shielded Harry from Voldemort. However, the Dursleys spent the following ten years doing everything in their power to prevent Harry from learning about his magical heritage and abilities, such as lying about how Lily and James died by attributing their deaths to a car crash.
- Peter Pettigrew: "Harry! You — thank you — it's more than I deserve — thank you —"
- Harry Potter: "Get off me. I'm not doing this for you. I'm doing it because — I don't reckon my dad would've wanted them to become killers — just for you."
- Sirius Black: "You're the only person who has the right to decide, Harry. But think... think what he did..."
- — Sirius and Harry after the latter stopped him and Remus from killing Pettigrew[src]
While at Hogwarts, James became the very best of friends with Sirius Black, Remus Lupin, and Peter Pettigrew, and the group called themselves "the Marauders". He met Sirius on the Hogwarts Express in their first year, and they seemed to bond quickly. In their second year, when the group discovered that Remus was a werewolf, they refused to ostracise him, as most would, instead learning to become Animagi in order to keep him company during his transformations. James insisted that Remus was not abnormal because of his condition, and later used his wealth to support Remus when anti-werewolf legislation made it difficult for him to get a job.
The four friends enjoyed untold popularity while at school and particularly liked playing pranks together; they also invented the Marauder's Map and all joined the Order of the Phoenix, after graduating from Hogwarts. Although he was very close to all of his friends, James was probably closest to Sirius, whom he loved as a brother and who moved in with James and his parents after running away from home at age sixteen. James also chose Sirius as his best man at his wedding to Lily, as well as his son's godfather. When the Potters became Lord Voldemort's targets in 1981, James was adamant about Sirius being their Secret-Keeper, though he agreed to Sirius's plan to make Peter the Secret-Keeper instead, to throw off the enemy.
James's unshakeable trust in his friends would be his undoing, as Pettigrew betrayed him, his wife, and his son to Voldemort. This betrayal was something Sirius and Remus later attempted to kill him for. The only thing that stopped them was Harry, who thought that his father would not want his best friends to become killers just for a traitor. Dumbledore later assured Harry that his belief had been right, saying that he knew James very well, both at Hogwarts and later and he was perfectly sure that James would have saved Pettigrew as well.
The ending to the three Marauders who had stayed true to their friendship to the very end — James, Sirius, and Remus — was bittersweet: though they all lost their lives to the two wizarding wars, they died as heroes of the Order of the Phoenix, and in the case of James and Lupin, devoted fathers who had tried to give their sons a better world to live in. The three were likely reunited forever in the afterlife.
- Severus Snape: "How extraordinarily like your father you are, Potter. He too was exceedingly arrogant. A small amount of talent on the Quidditch field made him think he was a cut above the rest of us too. Strutting around the place with his friends and admirers... The resemblance between you is uncanny."
- Harry Potter: "My dad didn't strut. And neither do I."
- Severus Snape: "Your father didn't set much store by rules either. Rules were for lesser mortals, not Quidditch Cup-winners. His head was so swollen —"
- — Severus Snape negatively comparing Harry to his father James[src]
James met Severus Snape on the Hogwarts Express in their first year at Hogwarts, and the two immediately got off on the wrong foot. James scoffed at Snape's desire that he and Lily Evans would be Sorted into Slytherin house, while Snape sneered at James's hope that he would follow his father's footsteps and end up in Gryffindor. He and Sirius bestowed the mocking nickname of "Snivellus" on Snape at this first meeting. This enmity would continue for the rest of their school years and (on Snape's part) well after James's death. According to Sirius, Snape envied James's popularity and Quidditch talents, and always tried to get him and his friends in trouble, while James despised Snape's fascination with the Dark Arts. James also frequently bullied Severus Snape during his fifth year, the memories of which could be viewed in Snape's Pensieve.
Later, it is revealed that James and Snape would regularly pass snide remarks and taunts towards each other. Although James disliked and bullied Snape, in the end, James never wanted Snape dead despite his distaste of him and risked his life to save Snape's when Sirius played a potentially lethal prank on him by sending him to the Shrieking Shack when Remus Lupin was there transforming. However, Snape despised being in James's debt and felt, even twenty years later, that James only saved him to avoid expulsion.
Most of his dislike of James's son Harry was motivated by seeing his old rival in Harry, as well as a constant reminder that Lily had loved another man. Snape was also involved in James's death: Snape was the Death Eater who relayed the Prophecy that foretold the birth of the one who would defeat Snape's then-master Lord Voldemort. When Voldemort was informed of this, he chose to get rid of James, his wife, and their son. Snape intervened by pleading for Lily's life, while ignoring the danger into which his actions put James and Harry.
After Lily and James were killed, Snape reluctantly agreed to help Dumbledore protect Harry from Voldemort. However, Snape never forgot James' bullying or earlier arrogance, and constantly projected many of James' flaws unto Harry during their interactions as teacher and student. This was one of many factors that led to Harry hating Snape during this period, until Harry witnessed many of Snape's repressed memories and gained a better understanding of Snape's loyalties.
James always had a good relationship with Albus Dumbledore. Dumbledore was the Headmaster of Hogwarts at the time James attended the school. He became fond of James knowing that, despite his being an arrogant, highly mischievous trouble-maker, he was also a kind-hearted, good-natured person. James became a member of the Order of the Phoenix, an organisation founded by Dumbledore, during the First Wizarding War and fought in several battles with him. Dumbledore also attempted to protect James, Lily, and Harry from Voldemort, who was out to kill their son by offering to be their Secret Keeper. However, the role of Secret Keeper went instead to Peter Pettigrew, which turned out to be a fatal mistake, as Peter was, unbeknownst to them, a spy for Voldemort. When James and Lily were murdered by Voldemort, Dumbledore was devastated. After death, Dumbledore was amused and impressed that James, Sirius and Peter became Animagi without his knowledge.
Albus later became a mentor to James's son, and they shared an intimate relationship, more like a grandfather and his grandson, rather than a headmaster and his pupil. Dumbledore often sympathised with Harry about the grief and loneliness caused by his parents' death, and would comfort him at times when he really needed it. He also firmly believed and emphasised many times that Harry's love for his parents, James and Lily, was the reason why he had a power stronger than Voldemort's.
- "Lily and James... I can't believe it... I didn't want to believe it... Oh, Albus..."
- — Minerva's sadness after being informed of James and Lily's deaths[src]
Minerva McGonagall was the Transfiguration Professor and also the Head of Gryffindor House, at the time James was a student. McGonagall was simultaneously fond of, and exasperated with James: she knew that he was a mischievous trouble-maker and often played cruel pranks on some of his school rivals (such as Severus Snape), but she also knew that he was a clever and talented wizard, and essentially a good person; overall, they had a good relationship, which presumably improved significantly after James cleaned up his act, and became worthy of being made Head Boy.
Upon learning of James and Lily's deaths a few hours after they were murdered, McGonagall was devastated, and barely managed to keep her composure. In her later years, she shared quite a close relationship with James's son, Harry.
Order of the Phoenix
James did have a good relationship with most of the members of the Order of the Phoenix, during the First Wizarding War. He might have been friendly with some members, such as Elphias Doge and Alastor Moody, as they were all members during the first war and most likely fought in several battles together. It is possible that James had many other friendships during his time in the Order, but they were unknown; his most famous friendship being the one he shared with the Marauders. Most of the original members of the Order were killed during the Second Wizarding War; only a few of them managed to survive.
Behind the scenes
- James is played by Adrian Rawlins in the film adaptations of Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone, Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire and reprised the role for Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows. In the film adaptations of Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, and Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, footage from earlier films was used. In Order of the Phoenix, James was played as a teenager by Robbie Jarvis and as a child by Alfie McIlwain in Deathly Hallows: Part 2 in flashback scenes. This means the only film adaption which James doesn't appear in is Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince. By an interesting coincidence, Rawlins was also born on 27 March.
- Tom Milligan portrays James in the original West End production of Harry Potter and the Cursed Child.
- In the film adaptation of Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone, James was said to have been a Seeker. However, J. K. Rowling has stated that James was a Chaser.
- To date, the Harry Potter Prequel is the only story to feature James while he was alive. All other appearances have either been as an echo or as a flashback.
- In the last film, in Snape's memory, it shows that James was killed at the top of the staircase instead of in the living room.
- When Harry Potter speaks with Voldemort in the room of the Mirror of Erised in Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone, Voldemort says that James "put up a good fight" before he killed him; this is inconsistent with James later being revealed not to have had his wand at the time. It's possible, however, that Voldemort was exaggerating, as James did try to hold him off, but was killed quickly, being that his wand was not on him at the time.
- In the film adaptation of Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, James is depicted as having brown instead of black hair. His son's hair colour was also changed.
- In the movie adaptations, James appears to be much older than he was intended to be, being only twenty-one-years old when he died.
- There has been some speculation that James's parents were Charlus Potter and Dorea Black, who appear on the Black family tree and are said to have had one son. However, with the new information revealed on Pottermore, this was stated to not be the case, with James's parents named as Fleamont and Euphemia Potter. However, it is more than likely that Charlus and Dorea were related to James, being possibly his uncle and aunt or a sort of cousins on his father's side.
- In Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2, James was shown to be without glasses during his earliest Hogwarts years. However, a possible explanation would that his father did not wear glasses, and his eyesight gradually required them.
- Rawlins reprised James's role for the video game adaption of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2.
- James was the only member of the Marauders not to live to the 1990s.
- If James had lived, he would have been in his thirties during the Harry Potter story-line.
- Ironically, James' actor Adrian Rawlins shares the same first and last initials as Alan Rickman - the actor who played James' hated rival Severus Snape.
- James and his wife are one of two pairs of relatives killed by Voldemort. The second is that composed by Gellert Grindelwald and Bathilda Bagshot. However, unlike the latter, they were killed on the same day.
- Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone (First appearance) (Appears in vision(s)) (Appears in photographs)
- Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone (film) (Appears in vision(s)) (Appears in photographs)
- Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone (video game) (Appears in vision(s))
- Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets (Mentioned only)
- Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets (film) (Mentioned only) (Appears in photographs)
- Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets (video game) (Mentioned in GBC version)
- Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban (Appears in flashback(s))
- Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban (film) (Appears in photographs)
- Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban (video game) (Mentioned only)
- Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire (Appears as a ghost or a spirit)
- Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire (film) (Appears as a ghost or a spirit)
- Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix (Appears in flashback(s))
- Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix (film) (Appears in flashback(s)) (Appears in photographs)
- Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince (Mentioned only)
- Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince (film) (Appears in flashback(s))
- Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows (Appears in flashback(s)) (Appears as a ghost or a spirit)
- Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 1 (Appears in flashback(s))
- Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 1 (video game) (Mentioned only)
- Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2 (Appears in flashback(s)) (Appears as a ghost or a spirit)
- Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2 (video game) (Appears in flashback(s)) (Appears as a ghost or a spirit)
- Harry Potter and the Cursed Child
- Harry Potter and the Cursed Child (play)
- Harry Potter Prequel
- Harry Potter: The Wand Collection (Mentioned only)
- LEGO Harry Potter: Building the Magical World (Appears in flashback(s))
- LEGO Harry Potter: Characters of the Magical World (Appears in flashback(s))
- LEGO Harry Potter: Years 1-4 (Appears in flashback(s)) (Appears in photographs) (Appears as a ghost or a spirit)
- LEGO Harry Potter: Years 5-7
- LEGO Harry Potter (Appears in flashback(s))
- Harry Potter for Kinect (Appears as a ghost or a spirit)
- Harry Potter Trading Card Game
- Wizarding World
- Harry Potter: The Character Vault
- Harry Potter: The Creature Vault (Mentioned only)
- Harry Potter: Hogwarts Mystery (Mentioned only)
- Harry Potter: Wizards Unite
- Harry Potter: Magic Awakened (Appears on a spell card or during spell introduction) (Appears as a ghost or a spirit)
Notes and references
- Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Chapter 16 (Godric's Hollow)
- 8 July 2000 South West News Service World Exclusive Interview with J K Rowling
- Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, Chapter 12 (Silver and Opals) - "Even as he said it, Harry remembered that his father had been pure-blood, but he pushed the thought out of his mind; he would worry about that later...."
- Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, Chapter 16 (A Very Frosty Christmas) - “James was a pureblood, Harry, and I promise you, he never asked us to call him ‘Prince.'”
- Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, Chapter 18 (Moony, Wormtail, Padfoot and Prongs)
- Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone, Chapter 4 (The Keeper of the Keys)
- Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone, Chapter 1 (The Boy Who Lived)
- Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone, Chapter 12 (The Mirror of Erised) - "The tall, thin, black-haired man standing next to her put his arm around her."
- Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, Chapter 28 (Snape's Worst Memory) - "Flitwick was walking past a boy with untidy black hair ... very untidy black hair.... (...) James's hair stuck up at the back exactly as Harry's did"
- Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, Chapter 28 (Snape's Worst Memory) - "James's eyes were hazel"
- Writing by J. K. Rowling: "The Potter Family" at Wizarding World
- The Potters are related to the Blacks through Charlus Potter, who married Dorea Black and with whom he had a son. They are also related through Harry's marriage to Ginny Weasley, who is also descended from the Black's female line, her grandmother being Cedrella Black.
- Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone, Chapter 5 (Diagon Alley)
- J.K. Rowling and the Live Chat, Bloomsbury.com, 30 July, 2007
- 2004 World Book Day Chat
- Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, Chapter 28 (Snape's Worst Memory)
- Writing by J. K. Rowling: "The Potter Family" at Wizarding World
- Leaky Cauldron: 30 July 2007 Webchat with J.K. Rowling
- Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone (video game) - GBC version
- Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, Chapter 24 (Sectumsempra)
- Harry Potter: Hogwarts Mystery, Year 2, "Packmates" Achievement - Part 4, Side Quest "Full Moon Rising"
- Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, Chapter 24 (Occlumency)
- Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Chapter 33 (The Prince's Tale)
- Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, Chapter 14 (Snape's Grudge)
- Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, Chapter 29 (Careers Advice)
- Writing by J. K. Rowling: "Vernon and Petunia Dursley" at Wizarding World
- Writing by J. K. Rowling: "The Potter Family" at Wizarding World
- Waterstones Charity Auction (archived via the Internet Archive's Wayback Machine here
- Harry Potter Prequel
- J. K. Rowling interview on PotterCast #130
- J.K. Rowling comments at Carnegie Hall
- Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, Chapter 37 (The Lost Prophecy)
- Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, Chapter 10 (The Marauder's Map)
- Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, Chapter 10 (The Marauder's Map) - "“He did,” said Fudge heavily. “And then, barely a week after the Fidelius Charm had been performed - “Black betrayed them?” breathed Madam Rosmerta. "He did indeed."
- Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Chapter 17 (Bathilda's Secret)
- Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone, Chapter 12 (The Mirror of Erised)
- Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone, Chapter 17 (The Man with Two Faces)
- Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, Chapter 5 (The Dementor)
- Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, Chapter 20 (The Dementor's Kiss)
- Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, Chapter 33 (The Death Eaters)
- Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, Chapter 34 (Priori Incantatem)
- Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Chapter 34 (The Forest Again)
- Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Epilogue (Nineteen Years Later)
- Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix (film)
- Writing by J. K. Rowling: "Patronus Charm" at Wizarding World
- Pottermore Presents
- Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, Chapter 17 (Cat, Rat and Dog)
- Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, Chapter 38 (The Second War Begins)
- Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Chapter 10 (Kreacher's Tale)
- Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, Chapter 23 (Horcruxes)
- Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, Chapter 19 (The Lion and the Serpent)
- Black family tree
|Before registration system|
|Falco Aesalon (Falcon) · Cliodna (Sea Bird) · Morgan le Fay (Bird) · Morrigan (Crow)|
|Minerva McGonagall (Cat) · Adrian Tutley (Gerbil) · Talbott Winger's mother (White Swan) · Unidentified witch (Black cat) · Five unidentified individuals (Unknown)|
|Sirius Black (Black dog) · Olivier Kikkert (Frog) · Peter Pettigrew (Rat) · James Potter (Stag) · Rita Skeeter (Beetle) · Talbott Winger (Eagle)|
|Unknown registry status|
|Bly (Lemur) · Jacob's sibling (Brown dog, Black and white cat or Eagle) · Lottie Turner's father (Butterfly)|
|Babbitty Rabbity (Rabbit)|
|Death (Manufacturer) · Antioch Peverell · Antioch Peverell's killer · Emeric the Evil · Egbert the Egregious · Godelot · Hereward · Barnabas Deverill · Loxias · Arcus and/or Livius · Mykew Gregorovitch · Gellert Grindelwald · Albus Dumbledore · Draco Malfoy (Master Only) · Tom Riddle (Owner Only) · Harry Potter · (Interred)|
|Death (Manufacturer) · Cadmus Peverell · Unidentified Gaunt · (Generations of Gaunts) · Corvinus Gaunt · Marvolo Gaunt · Morfin Gaunt · Tom Riddle · Albus Dumbledore · Harry Potter · (Lost)|
|Cloak of Invisibility|
|Death (Manufacturer) · Ignotus Peverell · Ignotus Peverell's son · Iolanthe Potter · Unidentified Potter · (Generations of Potters) · Henry Potter · Fleamont Potter · James Potter · Albus Dumbledore (Owner Only) · Harry Potter · James S. Potter · Albus Potter|