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"If there's one thing I pride myself on, it's my Memory Charms."
Gilderoy Lockhart regarding his gift for this particular charm[src]

The Memory Charm[4] (Obliviate),[1] also known as the Forgetfulness Charm,[3] was a charm that could be used to erase specific memories from an individual's mind. It was different from the spell that created false memories.[5]


Mnemone Radford

Mnemone Radford, invented the Memory Charm

Mnemone Radford was the witch who first developed Memory Modifying Charms. She became the first Ministry of Magic Obliviator, due to her skill with the charm.[3]

According to San Bakar, the Keepers used the charm on Bragbor the Boastful to make him forget about his association with Isidora Morganach and the repositories he had helped her create. However, unbeknownst to the Keepers, Bragbor had written about those repositories in journals that were found by his descendant, Ranrok.[6]

These spells were used routinely by the British Ministry of Magic as they worked to keep the wizarding world a secret from Muggles.[7][4][8][9]

Minister for Magic Ottaline Gambol was responsible for the creation of the Hogwarts Express to transport young witches and wizards to Hogwarts. However, the secrecy surrounding the project entailed a mass operation involving one hundred and sixty-seven Memory Charms and the largest ever mass Concealment Charm performed in Great Britain.[10]

They were used if a Muggle saw a dragon[11] and after an enchanted item fell into Muggle hands.[4]

As so many Muggles had witnessed the sight of the Loch Ness Monster, the Ministry of Magic was unable to perform Memory Charms on all of them. Instead the Office of Misinformation has focused on discrediting any photographic evidence of the kelpie.[11]

Gilderoy Lockhart focused his considerable talents solely on the Memory Charm until he perfected it, making it the only spell he can perform without fail. In his pursuit for fame, he utilised the Charm extensively on people who performed heroic feats after interviewing them on every detail of their works, so they would not go "babbling" while he takes their credits in the form of his books.[1]

When Lockhart used it on a selected group of students after they discovered his attempt to take credit for their encounter in the Cursed Vaults for his own stories, he cast a rather hasty Memory Charm to make them forget their meeting in Madam Puddifoot's Tea Shop, though due to the hastiness, the victims only forgot parts of what he wanted them to forget.[12] In a karmic way, the Memory Charm became Lockhart's downfall when he attempted to perform it with a broken wand, causing it to backfire and destroy his own memories instead.[1]

The charm was covered in The Standard Book of Spells, Grade 2 by Miranda Goshawk.[13]


Memory Charms were generally intended to erase a specific memory. They were regularly used if a Muggle witnessed something related to the wizarding world or magic in general; the British Ministry of Magic had Obliviators to remove their memories of the event, such as if a Muggle saw a dragon.[9] Occasionally, the mass use of Memory Charms was necessary to cover up major incidents that violated the Statute of Secrecy, such as the Ilfracombe Incident.[11]

Some Muggles did slip through the cracks in these situations, according to Blenheim Stalk in Muggles Who Notice.[11] When particularly intense memories needed to be erased, it often left the victim disoriented for a short period of time, as happened with the Roberts family after the Quidditch World Cup in 1994.[14]

The venom of the Swooping Evil had powerful memory erasing properties, being able to remove the memories of dangerous and tragic magical events from pretty much the entire No-Maj population of New York when carried into the atmosphere and released in the form of rain via a thunderbird, in 1927.[15]


"His memory's gone. The Memory Charm backfired. Hit him instead of us. Hasn't got a clue who he is, or where he is, or who we are. I told him to come and wait here. He's a danger to himself."
Ron Weasley regarding Gilderoy Lockhart's backfired Memory Charm[src]

If performed improperly, a Memory Charm could erase significant portions of an individual's memory and cause brain damage, with severe difficulty in recovery.[1][16]

Gilderoy Lockhart Who Am I 02

Gilderoy Lockhart loses all his memories

For instance, Gilderoy Lockhart attempted to wipe the memories of Harry Potter and Ron Weasley during the events surrounding the re-opening of the Chamber of Secrets. However, by using Ron's damaged wand to attempt the charm, it backfired onto Lockhart himself, thus causing Lockhart to suffer extreme amnesia.[1] He thereafter became a permanent resident in the Janus Thickey Ward of St Mungo's. Although Lockhart did retain some of his memories (mainly his vain liking for signing autographs despite not knowing why, and knowing how to write in cursive), he never fully recovered.[16]

Barty Crouch Snr placed a Memory Charm on Bertha Jorkins to try to make her forget her discovery that he was keeping his son in captivity. However, the charm he put on her was too strong, and thus it damaged her memory permanently, making her chronically forgetful about other things as well.[17]

Breaking the charm[]

Memory Charms could be broken through torture. In 1994, Lord Voldemort and Peter Pettigrew broke a Memory Charm placed by Barty Crouch Snr on Bertha Jorkins, and extracted information from her regarding the whereabouts of Crouch's son. However, the breaking of the charm had caused a great toll on Bertha, and her body and mind was damaged beyond repair.[17]

In 1997, Voldemort had Antonin Dolohov and Thorfinn Rowle tortured with the Cruciatus Curse after they failed to capture Harry Potter. Hermione Granger had cast Memory Charms on them so as to cover the trio's tracks. It appears that the charms were not broken by torture, since the Death Eaters remained unaware that Ron Weasley was with Harry and Hermione, rather than sick at home with spattergroit, as had been claimed.[18] This might mean that a certain level of torture was necessary to break the charm, or that the torturer needed to be specific on wanting to break it, rather than just inflicting the pain.

Since Lockhart's backfired Memory Charm had never been broken through, it is possible that torture was the only method of complete recovery (with possibly irreparable mental and physical damage being clear side-effects), as it is extremely doubtful that St Mungo's Hospital for Magical Maladies and Injuries would resort to torture on Lockhart just to recover his memory. It is also possible, however, that since it was cast improperly, Lockhart's memory was actually erased permanently with no chance of recovery whatsoever. Although spending time in the hospital did help him regain the basics of his memory — mainly to write in cursive and his enjoyment of signing autographs, the latter of which he does not remember why — he never fully recovered.[16]

It is very probable that there was a specific counter-charm for the Memory Charm, as long as the charm was correctly applied, thereby restoring one's thoughts and/or memory, similar to the Memory Potion.

Known uses[]

"Miss Dursley has been punctured and her memory has been modified. She has no recollection of the incident at all. So that's that, and no harm done."
Cornelius Fudge to Harry Potter regarding the modification of Marjorie Dursley's memories[src]
Caster(s) Recipient(s) Notes
Tilly Toke Muggles Known as the Ilfracombe Incident, it was the largest casting of the Memory Charm in the twentieth century, after a Common Welsh Green attacked a group of sunbathers in Devon, England in 1932.[11]
MACUSA employees Mary Lou Barebone and other No-Majs Some time in 1926, Auror Tina Goldstein attacked the leader of the Second Salem Philanthropic Organisation, Mary Lou Barebone, for beating her son Credence with a belt. Tina was demoted at MACUSA, and the No-Maj members of the congregation were Obliviated.[15]
Newt Scamander Unidentified hobo After Newt's arrival in the New York in December of 1926, some creatures escaped due to the accidental exchange of suitcases with No-Maj Jacob Kowalski. After arriving at the ruined building and seeing a crowd of Muggles believing there was a gas explosion, Newt Obliviated the drunken Muggle tramp who had seen an escaping Erumpent.[15]
Chiara Lobosca's mother Selina Chiara Lobosca's mother cast the Memory Charm on Chiara's friend Selina after Selina became afraid of Chiara after seeing her werewolf form.[19]
Jacob's sibling Talbott Winger Talbott willingly allowed Jacob's sibling to Obliviate him after they told him a new piece of information that he previously didn't know and would thus forget once they erased his memory. This was done to consolidate the latter's mastery of the Memory Charm.[20]
Merula Snyde (Possibly) To erase the memory of when she spied the animagus conversation between Jacob's sibling and Talbott Winger and discovered his secret.[20]
Peter Pettigrew Jacob's sibling After revealing himself to Jacob's sibling, Pettigrew erased their memory in order to keep his secret safe.[21]
Alastor Moody Unidentified Muggle witness Used this charm to Obliviate the memories of a Muggle at the British Ministry of Magic who had witnessed several forms of magic during the 1990–1991 school year.[22][23]

Gilderoy Lockhart

Several witches and wizards (including an Armenian warlock and a witch with a hairy chin) Gilderoy Lockhart rose to fame by tracking down less-than reputable characters who had accomplished mighty feats, questioned them in detail about it, placed Memory Charms on them to remove all recollection of the feat, claimed credit for it, and published a book on it. This was revealed to Harry and Ron in the Chamber of Secrets venture.[1]
Jacob's sibling, Penny Haywood, Merula Snyde, Andre Egwu, Barnaby Lee and Talbott Winger Gilderoy Lockhart intentionally selected these students in a contest to be their "apprentices for a special Valentine Day's project" because of their abilities, however he erased their memories after they discovered that everything was a trick in order to steal their stories for his next book. As it was done hastily, he only erased a portion of their memories.[12]
Himself (Unintentionally) In 1993, Lockhart was attempting to cast the charms on Harry Potter and Ron Weasley in order to take credit for braving the Chamber of Secrets, but he used Ron's damaged wand, and the spell backfired and wiped all of his memory.[1]
Bartemius Crouch Senior Bertha Jorkins Bertha discovered that Crouch was keeping his son trapped in their home under the Imperius Curse. Lord Voldemort later broke the charm protecting this memory.[17]
Ministry Obliviators Mr Roberts To keep the family unaware of the 1994 Quidditch World Cup occurring near their campground,[9] and after the family was attacked by Death Eaters.[14]
Mrs Roberts
Roberts's children
President of unknown country This Muggle official was made to forget to telephone the Prime Minister in order to clear time in the latter's schedule to meet with Cornelius Fudge and Rufus Scrimgeour.[24]
Kingsley Shacklebolt Marietta Edgecombe Marietta was prevented from talking about secret Dumbledore's Army meetings in 1996.[25]
Hermione Granger Antonin Dolohov After the Death Eaters attacked her, Harry Potter, and Ron Weasley on Tottenham Court Road in 1997, Hermione wiped their memories of the event in order to throw them off the scent of the trio's whereabouts, and to preserve Ron's cover story of being sick at home with spattergroit. The waitress was a witness to the skirmish.[18]
Hermione Granger using the Memory Charm DHF1
Thorfinn Rowle
Muggle waitress
Xenophilius Lovegood Used after an attempted ambush of her, Harry and Ron at the Lovegood House in 1998 to wipe his memory of the conversation he had with the trio about the Deathly Hallows to ensure that Xenophilius was unable to tell the Death Eaters that Ron was with Harry and Hermione.[26]
Omar Abasi Laura Thorn Laura's memory was wiped after she found out about a Mountain Troll inadvertently transported from the Alps to London.[27]
Mathilda Grimblehawk's partner Laura's memory was wiped again after the first Memory Charm failed and she discovered the existence of magic and magical beasts.[27]
Warrington sisters' grandmother Ivy Warrington Used it to make her granddaughter Ivy forget her sister Winifred after she witnessed her vanish, which caused her to forget about Winifred entirely.[28]

Attempted uses[]

"The adventure ends here, boys! I shall take a bit of this skin back up to the school, tell them I was too late to save the girl, and that you two tragically lost your minds at the sight of her mangled body — say good-bye to your memories! Obliviate!'"
Gilderoy Lockhart attempting to erase Harry Potter's and Ron Weasley's memories, his mistake[src]
Caster Intended Victim(s) Notes
Newt Scamander Jacob Kowalski Intended to erase Jacob's memory of a Niffler and an Occamy, but Jacob distracted him and ran away before Newt could finish casting the Charm.[15]
When Newt intended to cast the spell a second time, Tina Goldstein told him that he was needed as witness.[15]
Ministry official Fenrir Greyback When Greyback successfully faked being a Muggle tramp after being hauled into the Ministry of Magic regarding a werewolf attack that resulted in the death of two Muggle children in 1964, the Ministry wizard escorting him attempted to cast a Memory Charm on the "Muggle tramp" so as to make him forget about the Ministry of Magic. However, before he could, Greyback overpowered him and escaped with three werewolf accomplices.[29]
Gilderoy Lockhart Harry Potter When Lockhart inadvertently admitted himself to be a credit-stealing fraud to Harry and Ron, he attempted to cast a Memory Charm on them to cover his tracks. However, Harry was faster at disarming him, and Ron threw Lockhart's wand out the open window. Later that same day, Lockhart once again attempted to cast the charm on the duo, but the wand he used was malfunctioning and it backfired.[1]
Ron Weasley

Known practitioners[]


The incantation "obliviate" may be derived from the Latin oblivisci, meaning "to forget", or the English word oblivion, defined as "the fact or condition of forgetting or having forgotten".[30]

It may be derived from the Latin noun oblivio, which means "forgetfulness, weak memory".

Behind the scenes[]

Hermione performing the Memory Charm

Hermione using the Memory Charm to erase her parents' memories in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 1

  • In Chapter 9 of Deathly Hallows, just prior to erasing Antonin Dolohov and Thorfinn Rowle's memories, Hermione says that she has never performed a Memory Charm before, despite having already altered her parents' memories.[18] However, J. K. Rowling has said this was a different charm,[5] which alters memories rather than removes them.
    • Despite Rowling's statement that the charm Hermione used on her parents was not the same, in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 1, Hermione uses the actual Memory Charm to eradicate her mother and father's memories of her.[31]
      • However, it all still fits in as in the film Hermione doesn't say she hasn't used it before.
      • Either symbolically or by actual magic, when Hermione performed the charm on her parents, all images of her in their family pictures were erased as well.[31]
  • In the W.O.M.B.A.T.'s on J. K. Rowling's official site, it is referred to as the Forgetfulness Charm.
  • As Bertha managed to remember about Barty Crouch Jnr after Voldemort tortured her and broke the charm, it is possible that the charm simply suppresses memories, as opposed to erasing them. However, when Lockhart suffers a backfiring Memory Charm, it seemed that his memories were irreversibly erased, suggesting the charm will suppress memories or erase them altogether depending on the proficiency of the caster.
  • In the German translation, the incantation is sometimes translated as Amnesia, in the Czech translation "Zapomeň/te", in the Ukrainian translation it is "Забуттятус (Zabuttiatus)", in Italian it is Oblivion, and in Hungarian it is translated as Exmemoriam, while in other cases remains Obliviate.
  • As it is possible to reverse the spell, it is possible that it simply renders the recipient unable to recall a memory rather than erasing it from their memory entirely.
  • In the film adaptation of Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, instead of Ron's damaged wand exploding in Lockhart's hand when he attempted the Memory Charm, the spell went backwards and send him flying into the cavern walls.
  • In the UK audiobook performed by Stephen Fry, the spell is pronounced as (oh-BLI-vee-AH-tey).


Notes and references[]

  1. 1.00 1.01 1.02 1.03 1.04 1.05 1.06 1.07 1.08 1.09 1.10 1.11 Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, Chapter 16 (The Chamber of Secrets)
  2. 2.0 2.1 Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets (film) - Chapter 30 (Backfire)
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 3.3 J. K. Rowling's official site
  4. 4.0 4.1 4.2 4.3 4.4 Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, Chapter 3 (The Burrow)
  5. 5.0 5.1 30 July 2007 WebChat with J.K. Rowling
  6. Hogwarts Legacy, Main Quest "San Bakar's Trial"
  7. Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone, Chapter 5 (Diagon Alley)
  8. Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, Chapter 3 (The Knight Bus)
  9. 9.0 9.1 9.2 Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, Chapter 7 (Bagman and Crouch)
  10. Writing by J. K. Rowling: "The Hogwarts Express" at Wizarding World
  11. 11.0 11.1 11.2 11.3 11.4 11.5 Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them
  12. 12.0 12.1 Harry Potter: Hogwarts Mystery, Year 4, "Valentine's Day" Achievement
  13. Pottermore - The Standard Book of Spells, Grade 2
  14. 14.0 14.1 Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, Chapter 10 (Mayhem at the Ministry)
  15. 15.0 15.1 15.2 15.3 15.4 15.5 Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them: The Original Screenplay
  16. 16.0 16.1 16.2 Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, Chapter 23 (Christmas on the Closed Ward)
  17. 17.0 17.1 17.2 17.3 Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, Chapter 35 (Veritaserum)
  18. 18.0 18.1 18.2 18.3 Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Chapter 9 (A Place to Hide)
  19. Harry Potter: Hogwarts Mystery, Year 2, "Packmates" Achievement
  20. 20.0 20.1 20.2 20.3 Harry Potter: Hogwarts Mystery, Year 3, "Birds Of A Feather" Achievement
  21. 21.0 21.1 Harry Potter: Hogwarts Mystery, Year 5, Chapter 20 (Peter Pettigrew)
  22. 22.0 22.1 Harry Potter: Hogwarts Mystery, Year 7, Chapter 32 (The Wizengamot Trial) - Assignment "To Catch a Prankster"
  23. 23.0 23.1 Harry Potter: Hogwarts Mystery, Year 7, Chapter 35 (The Auror Programme) - Assignment "Poltergeist Problems"
  24. Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, Chapter 1 (The Other Minister)
  25. 25.0 25.1 Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, Chapter 27 (The Centaur and the Sneak)
  26. 26.0 26.1 Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Chapter 21 (The Tale of the Three Brothers)
  27. 27.0 27.1 27.2 Fantastic Beasts: Cases from the Wizarding World, Case 2: The Smell of Fear
  28. 28.0 28.1 Harry Potter: Magic Awakened
  29. Writing by J. K. Rowling: "Remus Lupin" at Wizarding World
  30. Merriam-Webster Online
  31. 31.0 31.1 Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 1
Charms (class)
PS Wingardium Leviosa feather
Charm-book writers and developers
Blagdon Blay · Daisy Pennifold · Delfina Crimp · Miranda Goshawk · Jarleth Hobart · Basil Horton · Helixa Hyslop · Syna Hyslop · Randolph Keitch · Levina Monkstanley · Orabella Nuttley · Mnemone Radford · Scarpin · Elliot Smethwyck · Felix Summerbee · Violeta Stitch
Professors Fortinbras · Filius Flitwick · Abraham Ronen · Unidentified male professor · Unidentified medieval professor
Textbooks Achievements in Charming · Extreme Incantations · Quintessence: A Quest · The Standard Book of Spells
Charms studied at Hogwarts
Anti-Alohomora Charm · Ascension Charm (Ascendio) · Banishing Charm (Depulso) · Blackboard Writing Spell · Blue sparks · Bombardment Spell (Bombarda) · Box Blasting Charm (Cistem Aperio) · Bubble-Head Charm · Cheering Charm · Cleaning Charm · Colour Change Charm (Colovaria) · Confundus Charm (Confundo) · Counter-charm for hiccoughs · Dancing Feet Spell (Tarantallegra) · Descendo · Disarming Charm (Expelliarmus) · Disillusionment Charm · Drought Charm · Entrancing Enchantments (theoretically) · Eradication Spell (Deletrius) · Engorgement Charm (Engorgio) · Extinguishing Spell · Fire-Making Spell (Incendio) · Freezing Charm (Immobulus) · Freezing Spell (Glacius) · Full Body-Bind Curse (Petrificus Totalus) · General Counter-Spell (Finite Incantatem) · Gouging Spell (Defodio) · Growth Charm · Ice Jinx · Impervius Charm (Impervius) · Knitting Charm · Knockback Jinx (Flipendo) · Leg-Locker Curse (Locomotor Mortis) · Levitation Charm (Wingardium Leviosa) · Locking Spell (Colloportus) · Locomotion Charm (Locomotor) · Lumos Solem Spell (Lumos Solem) · Mending Charm (Reparo) · Memory Charm (Obliviate) · Muffliato Charm (Muffliato) · Nonverbal spells · Pack Charm (Pack) · Red Sparks (Vermillious) · Reductor Curse (Reducto) · Scouring Charm (Scourgify) · Seize and pull charm (Carpe Retractum) · Severing Charm (Diffindo) · Shrinking Charm (Reducio) · Silencing Charm (Silencio) · Slowing Charm (Arresto Momentum) · Skurge Charm (Skurge) · Softening Charm (Spongify) · Spell for growing legs · Substantive Charm · Summoning Charm (Accio) · Tickling Charm (Rictusempra) · Unlocking Charm (Alohomora) · Vinegar to wine spell · Wand-Extinguishing Charm (Nox) · Wand-Lighting Charm (Lumos) · Lumos Maxima · Water-Making Spell (Aguamenti)
The Standard Book of Spells
Book of Spells 1
Grade 1 · Grade 2 · Grade 3 · Grade 4 · Grade 5 · Grade 6 · Grade 7
Charms included in the series: Dancing Feet Spell (Tarantallegra) · Disarming Charm (Expelliarmus) · Engorgement Charm (Engorgio) · Fire-Making Spell (Incendio) · Freezing Charm (Immobulus) · General Counter-Spell (Finite Incantatem) · Levitation Charm (Wingardium Leviosa) · Locking Spell (Colloportus) · Memory Charm (Obliviate) · Mending Charm (Reparo) · Nonverbal spell · Severing Charm (Diffindo) · Skurge Charm (Skurge) · Softening Charm (Spongify) · Substantive Charm · Summoning Charm (Accio) · Tickling Charm (Rictusempra) · Unlocking Charm (Alohomora) · Wand-Lighting Charm (Lumos)