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

The Memory Charm (Obliviate), also known as the Forgetfulness Charm,[1] is a charm that can be used to erase specific memories from an individual's mind. It is different from the charm that creates false memories[2].


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.[1]

These spells are used routinely by the Ministry of Magic as they work to keep the wizarding world a secret from the Muggles.

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 Britain.[3]

They are used if a Muggle sees a dragon and after an enchanted item falls into Muggle hands.

So many Muggles have seen the Loch Ness Monster that the Ministry of Magic has been unable to perform Memory Charms on all of them.


Memory Charms are generally intended to erase a specific memory. They are regularly used if a Muggle witnesses something related to the wizarding world; the Ministry of Magic have Obliviators to remove their memories of the event, such as if a Muggle saw a dragon.[4] Occasionally, the mass use of Memory Charms is necessary to cover up major incidents that violate the Statute of Secrecy, such as the Ilfracombe Incident.

Some Muggles do slip through the cracks in these situations, according to Blenheim Stalk in Muggles Who Notice.[5] When particularly intense memories need to be erased, it often leaves the victim disoriented for a short period of time, as happened with the Roberts family after the Quidditch World Cup in 1994.

The venom of the Swooping Evil has powerful obliviatory 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.[6]


Gilderoy Lockhart attempting a Memory Charm with a broken wand, which resulted in a backfire that destroyed his own memories instead

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

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. He thereafter became a permanent resident in the Janus Thickey Ward of St Mungo's.[7] 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.

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 was too strong, and thus it damaged her memory permanently, making her chronically forgetful about other things as well.[8]

Breaking the Charm

Memory Charms can 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.[8]

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.[9] This may 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 doubtful that St Mungo's Hospital for Magical Maladies and Injuries would commit crimes against humanity just to recover Lockhart's 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.

It is very probable that there is a specific counter-charm for the Memory Charm, as long as the charm is 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."
Marge Dursley had to have her memories modified[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.[5]
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.[6]
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, which saw escaping Erumpent.[6]
Jacob's sibling Merula Snyde To erase the memory of when she spied the animagus conversation between Jacob's sibling and Talbott Winger and discovered his secret.[10]
Peter Pettigrew Jacob's sibling After revealing himself to Jacob's sibling, Pettigrew erased their memory in order to keep his secret safe.[11]

Gilderoy Lockhart

Several Witches and Wizards 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.
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.
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.[7]
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.[8]
Ministry Obliviators Mr Roberts To keep the family unaware of the 1994 Quidditch World Cup occurring near their campground, and after the family was attacked by Death Eaters.[8]
Mrs Roberts
Roberts 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.[12]
Kingsley Shacklebolt Marietta Edgecombe Marietta was prevented from talking about secret Dumbledore's Army meetings in 1996.[13]
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.[9]
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.[9]
Omar Abasi Laura Thorn Laura's memory was wiped after she found out about a Mountain Troll inadvertently transported from the Alps to London.[14]
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.[14]

Attempted uses

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.
When Newt intended to cast the spell a second time, Tina Goldstein told him that he was needed as witness.
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.[3]
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.[7]
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"[16].

It may be derived from the Latin term oblivio, which also means "to forget"

Behind the scenes

  • 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.[9] However, J. K. Rowling has said this was a different charm,[2] which alters memories rather than removes them.
    • Despite Rowling's statement that the charm Hermione used on her parents was not the same, in the Part 1 film adaption, Hermione uses the actual Memory Charm to eradicate her mother and father's memories of her.
      • 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.
  • In the W.O.M.B.A.T.'s on J. K. Rowling's Official Website, it is referred to as the Forgetfulness Charm.
  • As Bertha managed to remember about Barty Crouch Jr 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 Italian it is used 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.


Notes and references

Charms (class)
PS Wingardium Leviosa feather.gif
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 · Unidentified male Charms Professor
Textbooks Achievements in Charming · Extreme Incantations · Quintessence: A Quest · The Standard Book of Spells
Charms studied at Hogwarts
Ascendio · Banishing Charm (Depulso) · Blackboard Writing Spell · Blue sparks · 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 (Theortically) · Eradication Spell (Deletrius) · Engorgement Charm (Engorgio) · Extinguishing Spell · Exploding Charm (Bombarda) · 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 · Knitting Charm · Knockback Jinx (Flipendo) · Leg-Locker Curse (Locomotor Mortis) · Levitation Charm (Wingardium Leviosa) · Locking Spell (Colloportus) · Locomotion Charm (Locomotor) · 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 Scouring Charm (Skurge) · Softening Charm (Spongify) · Spell for growing legs · Substantive Charm · Summoning Charm (Accio) · Tickling Charm (Rictusempra) · Unlocking Charm (Alohomora) · Vinegar into Wine · Wand-Extinguishing Charm (Nox) · Wand-Lighting Charm (Lumos) · Lumos Maxima · Water-Making Spell (Aguamenti)
The Standard Book of Spells
Book of Spells 1.png
Grade 1 · Grade 2 · Grade 3 · Grade 4 · Grade 5 · Grade 6 · Grade 7
Charms included in the series: Dancing Feet Spell · Disarming Charm · Engorgement Charm · Fire-Making Spell · Freezing Charm · General Counter-Spell · Levitation Charm · Locking Spell · Memory Charm · Mending Charm · Nonverbal spell · Severing Charm · Skurge Charm · Softening Charm · Substantive Charm · Summoning Charm · Tickling Charm · Unlocking Charm · Wand-Lighting Charm