At least some content in this article is derived from information featured in Harry Potter: Puzzles & Spells, Harry Potter: Magic Awakened, Harry Potter: Wizards Unite, and Harry Potter: Hogwarts Mystery.
Sir Nicholas de Mimsy-Porpington, known after his death as Nearly Headless Nick, (d. 31 October, 1492) was a wizard who attended Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry and was Sorted into Gryffindor House. He was a wizard of the royal court as an adult. He was executed by an improper decapitation, after he had a magical mishap with Lady Grieve, in which he tried to straighten her teeth but it backfired and she grew tusks. Since then, he became the resident ghost of Gryffindor Tower at the Hogwarts Castle.
- 1 Biography
- 2 Physical appearance
- 3 Personality and traits
- 4 Magical abilities and skills
- 5 Etymology
- 6 Behind the scenes
- 7 Appearances
- 8 Notes and references
- 9 External links
- "I hope I, Sir Nicholas de Mimsy-Porpington, have never been guilty of cowardice in my life! The noble blood that runs in my veins —"
- — Sir Nicholas relays some information on his past[src]
When he turned eleven, Nicholas attended Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, where he was sorted into Gryffindor. It is unknown at which subjects he excelled in, but he was apparently poor in Charms.
Sir Nicholas met Lady Grieve while strolling in the park on the evening of 30 October, 1492. He was certain he could straighten her crooked teeth, but his attempt to do so backfired, causing her to grow a tusk.
Sir Nicholas was immediately taken into custody and sentenced to death as a result of this mistake. Before being locked in a dungeon, his wand was taken from him, thus preventing him from using magic to escape. Throughout the night he cried that he would soon undo the damage done to Lady Grieve.
A priest came to Sir Nicholas's cell to comfort him and escort him to the execution site at dawn the following day. He became a "gibbering wreck" when the executioner told him to kneel before the block. However, the executioner's axe was blunt, as the grindstone used to sharpen it had been misplaced. Thus, it took forty-five hacks to kill Sir Nicholas and even then his head was only partially severed. Naturally, these acts of betrayal and idiocy alone were not enough to condemn Sir Nicholas to such a brutal death, but the rampant acts of previous juvenile encounters led to an unsympathetic public.
Albus Dumbledore explained in his notes on "The Wizard and the Hopping Pot" that Muggle executions of wizards such as Sir Nicholas were rarely successful, given that wizards could magically protect themselves and escape. Sir Nicholas had his wand taken away, however, thus was unable to leave his dungeon cell.
- "I was afraid of death. I chose to remain behind. I sometimes wonder whether I oughtn't to have... well, that is neither here nor there... in fact, I am neither here nor there... I know nothing of the secrets of death, Harry, for I chose my feeble imitation of life instead."
- — Sir Nicholas explaining how he chose to remain among the living[src]
Sir Nicholas chose to linger as a ghost rather than "go on", because, by his own admission, he feared death. He became the resident ghost of Gryffindor Tower at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry and would spend his life after death there. "Nearly Headless Nick", as he was called by the majority of the student body, was always happy to point new Gryffindors in the right direction when late to class.
1985–1986 school year
He was preparing for the party when Erling arrived at Hogwarts. Since they shared the same deathday, Jacob's sibling and the Fat Friar suggested the two celebrate together, but it got rejected by Erling.
This collision gradually escalated to a strife in which Sir Nicholas attempted to sabotage Erling's party by preserving the food which was intended to be spoiled. This act, planned and committed by Sir Nicholas, Jacob's sibling and Merula Snyde, was discovered by Professor Sprout, who later ordered Sir Nicholas to give his food to Erling and help with Herbology classes. However, upon seeing Erling's pompous attitude, he decided to carry on throwing his party despite the lack of food.
Halfway through his party in the Deathday Ballroom, the Fat Friar brought him to see Erling in the courtyard. Seeing as neither of their parties were going well, with Sir Nicholas' no food and Erling's requirements not fulfilled, the Fat Friar suggested once again that the two hold a party together. Sir Nicholas eventually agreed and cleared out space in the ballroom to allow Erling and his guests to join the party.
1991–1992 school year
- "So — new Gryffindors! I hope you're going to help us win the house championship this year? Gryffindors have never gone so long without winning. Slytherins have got the cup six years in a row! The Bloody Baron's becoming almost unbearable — he's the Slytherin ghost."
- — Sir Nicholas regarding Gryffindors loss of the Quidditch Cup[src]
On 1 September, 1991, Sir Nicholas, the Fat Friar and the other ghosts had an argument on whether Peeves should be allowed to attend the Start-of-Term Feast or not. Sir Nicholas was of the opinion that the poltergeist gave the ghosts a bad name with his misdoings, while the Friar wanted to "forgive and forget". During this discussion, the ghosts passed through the Chamber of Reception, in which the first years were waiting for the start of the Sorting ceremony. Sir Nicholas was surprised to see the newcomers.
At the feast, Sir Nicholas sat opposite Harry Potter and patted his arm when the latter was Sorted into Gryffindor. He later introduced himself and showed the result of his botched beheading: his nearly chopped neck, when Seamus Finnigan wondered how could someone be Nearly Headless.
1992–1993 school year
- "Half an inch of skin and sinew holding my neck on, Harry! Most people would think that's good as beheaded, but oh, no, it's not enough for Sir Properly Decapitated-Podmore."
- — Nick bitter at his rejection by the Headless Hunt[src]
In 1992, Sir Nicholas tried to join for the Headless Hunt, although his application was denied by Sir Patrick Delaney-Podmore, who only accepted huntsmen "whose heads have parted company with their bodies". Nick was embittered that "half an inch of skin and sinew" connecting his head and neck was not good enough to qualify as "beheaded".
After Harry Potter returned to the Castle after a rainy Quidditch practice on 24 October, 1992, Argus Filch took him to his office in order to fill in a write-up in which Filch accused Harry of "befouling the castle" with mud. Sir Nicholas convinced Peeves to smash the school's Vanishing Cabinet over the office as a distraction. Nicholas later invited Harry Potter to his upcoming five-hundredth Deathday Party, in order to try and convince Sir Patrick to let him join the Headless Hunt.
In the evening of 31 October, Harry Potter, Ronald Weasley and Hermione Granger went to Sir Nicholas's Deathday Party. Sir Nicholas greeted the attendees at the entrance of the dungeon in which the party was held. The trio did not find this party fun in the least and were eager to leave. The trio was also disgusted by the rotten and mouldy food that was present. The Headless Hunt arrived at the party at the time for Sir Nicholas speech and became the centre of attention, as they began a match of Head Hockey leaving the embittered host ignored.
Also Sir Patrick Delaney-Podmore, the leader of the Headless Hunt managed to offend Sir Nicholas by pointing out that he was not properly decapitated, but the other guests found him quite amusing. This left Sir Nicholas humiliated and embarrassed for the remainder of his party. It is unknown what happened after the trio left, but it can be assumed that the party did not get any better for Sir Nicholas. Later that same evening, a message was left on one of the Castle's walls, announcing the opening of the Chamber of Secrets and Mrs Norris, Argus Filch's cat, was found petrified.
Later in the year, on 18 December, 1992 Sir Nicholas was petrified on one of the Castle's corridors, along with Justin Finch-Fletchley. Sir Nicholas inadvertently saved Justin's life by taking the brunt of the Basilisk's otherwise-lethal gaze, with Justin seeing the basilisk through Nick rather than being directly exposed to its vision. Nick received the full blast of its power, but as a ghost it was naturally impossible for him to die again.
Justin was then carried up to the hospital wing by Professor Flitwick and Professor Sinistra, but nobody seemed to know what to do for Sir Nicholas. This could have been the first time that a ghost was petrified, as Petrification does not seem to be something that happens often, seeing as it is incredibly advanced Dark Magic. In the end, Professor McGonagall conjured a large fan and gave it to Ernie Macmillan with instructions to waft the ghost up the stairs, most likely towards the hospital wing.
By the end of the year, Professor Sprout's Mandrakes had fully matured and were used to make a Mandrake Restorative Draught which was administered to revive all those who had been Petrified, including Sir Nicholas. The method by which the draught was administered to Sir Nicholas is unknown. He was later seen in the Great Hall at the End-of-Term Fest greeting Hermione after she was revived. He was not present in the Great Hall when Hagrid returned to the school after his stint in Azkaban.
1993–1994 school year
- "The feast finished with an entertainment provided by the Hogwarts ghosts. They popped out of the walls and tables to do a bit of formation gliding; Nearly Headless Nick, the Gryffindor ghost, had a great success with a reenactment of his own botched beheading."
- — Description[src]
During the Hallowe'en feast on 31 October, 1993, the school ghosts provided the entertainment, as they did a bit of formation gliding. On his five-hundred and first Deathday, Sir Nicholas hosted a reenactment of his own beheading, which was deemed a success.
1994–1995 school year
- "You're lucky there's a feast at all tonight, you know. There was trouble in the kitchens earlier... Peeves, of course. The usual argument, you know. He wanted to attend the feast — well, it's quite out of the question, you know what he's like, utterly uncivilised, can't see a plate of food without throwing it."
- — Sir Nicholas tells the trio of the ghost council about Peeves[src]
In the afternoon of 1 September, 1994 the Hogwarts ghosts gathered to decide whether Peeves should be allowed to attend the Start-of-Term Feast. The Fat Friar wanted to give him another chance, but both Sir Nicholas and the Bloody Baron decided against it. As a result, Peeves wreaked havoc in the kitchens, spilling soup all over the place and scattering pots and pans everywhere. At the Start-of-Term Feast, Sir Nicholas let this incident slip at the Gryffindor table, shocking Hermione Granger that "slave labour" made their dinner.
1995–1996 school year
- Sir Nicholas: "Wizards can leave an imprint of themselves upon the earth, to walk palely where their living selves once trod. But very few wizards choose that path."
- Harry Potter: "Why not? Anyway — it doesn't matter — Sirius won't care if it's unusual, he'll come back, I know he will!"
- Sir Nicholas: "He will not come back. He will have... gone on."
- — Discussion about death and how to become a ghost[src]
At the Start-of-Term Feast in 1995, Harry Potter, Ronald Weasley, Hermione Granger, and Neville Longbottom found seats together about halfway down the table, between Sir Nicholas and Parvati Patil and Lavender Brown. As the Sorting Hat sung a song warning students to stand together, Sir Nicholas told them that the Hat gave warnings at times when it detects periods of great danger for the school and that peaceful cooperation between the Houses is the key. Ron ended up saying Sir Nicholas was terrified of the Bloody Baron, annoying the ghost.
A week later on 7 September, Sir Nicholas looked for the Bloody Baron to see if he could dissuade Peeves from dropping a bust of Paracelsus on top of anyone who passed the corridor in which the bust stood.
On 20 November, 1995, Harry Potter, Ronald Weasley and Hermione Granger, while on their way to visit Rubeus Hagrid after his return, crossed paths with Sir Nicholas, who was gliding along absent-mindedly humming something that sounded like Weasley is Our King.
After Sirius Black, Harry Potter's godfather, was murdered at the hands of Bellatrix Lestrange during the Battle of the Department of Mysteries on 18 June, 1996, Harry asked Sir Nicholas if he could return as a ghost. Sir Nicholas explained to him that only a wizard afraid of death might choose to become a ghost and that a person like Sirius would not do something like that. Nicholas apologised that he could not be of more help to Harry and departed for the End-of-Term Feast.
1996–1997 school year
- "There has been much talk on that very subject even amongst the ghosts. I am considered something of a Potter authority; it is widely known that we are friendly. I have assured the spirit community that I will not pester you for information, however. 'Harry Potter knows that he can confide in me with complete confidence,' I told them. 'I would rather die than betray his trust'."
- — Sir Nicholas' loyalty to Harry Potter[src]
With the rumours of Harry Potter's status as the 'Chosen One' following the Battle of the Department of Mysteries, Sir Nicholas noted during the Start-of-Term Feast, on 1 September, 1996, that his friendship with Harry had increased his own reputation among the other ghosts as a possible source of information. However, Nicholas openly stated his loyalty to Harry and his refusal to pester him for information.
On the early hours of 22 April, 1997, the Bloody Baron saw Albus Dumbledore return to the Castle from one of his missions to find Voldemort's Horcruxes and reported it to Nicholas de Mimsy-Porpington. Sir Nicholas later told this to Harry Potter.
Albus Dumbledore, headmaster of Hogwarts, was killed at the hands of Severus Snape in the former's plan on 30 June, 1997. The Hogwarts ghosts were known attendees of his funeral in early July; this likely included Sir Nicholas.
1997–1998 school year
On 1 August, 1997 the Ministry of Magic was taken over by Lord Voldemort's Death Eaters. By 1 September, 1997, Severus Snape was made headmaster of Hogwarts while his fellow Death Eaters, Alecto Carrow and Amycus Carrow became the Muggle Studies and Defence Against the Dark Arts teachers respectively.
The Carrows were put in charge of all discipline and punishments, which were violent. It is likely that Sir Nicholas, as did the Heads of House, tried to protect the pupils from Alecto and Amycus.
On 2 May, 1998, the Battle of Hogwarts ensued after Voldemort learned Harry Potter was in the premises. The ghosts, including Sir Nicholas, attended a gathering in the Great Hall, in which Professor McGonagall gave instructions on evacuation of underage students and Kingsley Shacklebolt organised the participants for battle. Harry Potter, needing information on the whereabouts of Rowena Ravenclaw's Diadem, asked Nick who the ghost of Ravenclaw Tower was. Although he was initially slightly hurt that Harry needed another ghost rather than him, he pointed her to him. Later on, the ghosts gathered at the Great Hall, joining the mass mourning over the fallen.
When the Second Wizarding War comes to an end, it is highly likely that the ghosts (including Sir Nicholas) celebrated Harry's victory and Voldemort's demise.
- "Pearly white and semitransparent, Nick was dressed tonight in his usual doublet, but with a particularly large ruff, which served the dual purpose of looking extra-festive, and insuring that his head didn't wobble too much on his partially severed neck."
- — Description[src]
As a ghost, Sir Nicholas was pearly-white and slightly transparent. He would usually sport a ruff, which would ensure his partially severed head stayed in place, as well as tights, a pair of breeches, a doublet or, occasionally, a tunic. He had a preference for extravagant plumed hats. He also sported long curly hair, and a small moustache and goatee. He carried himself in a prim fashion and spoke in an airy, delicate tone.
Personality and traits
- Ronald Weasley: "I know who you are! My brothers told me about you — you're Nearly Headless Nick!"
- Nicholas de Mimsy-Porpington: "I would prefer you to call me Sir Nicholas de Mimsy —"
- Hermione Granger: " Nearly Headless? How can you be nearly headless?"
- Nicholas de Mimsy-Porpington: "Like this."
- — Sir Nicholas shows the Gryffindor first-years his poorly chopped neck[src]
Sir Nicholas was affable, kind, and always willing to lend a hand to Harry Potter and other fellow Gryffindors whenever they needed it. Nicholas apparently enjoyed eating during his lifetime, as after his death he spent the feasts at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry looking wistfully at the food. Sir Nicholas was polite and delicate, staying away from potentially indiscreet questions and sensible about the fact that he was no longer living.
Nicholas showed interest in the lives of the students at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry and took delight in showing off his wound to the dismay of those around him. He was very proud of his bravery and noble heritage, getting easily offended if anyone referred to him as a coward. He was very sociable, being friends with the Grey Lady, Harry Potter, and a number of other ghosts who attended his five-hundredth Deathday Party. He also had a cordial relationship with the Bloody Baron and Sir Patrick Delaney-Podmore. He did not enjoy being known as Nearly Headless Nick, he preferred to be addressed by his full name or Sir Nicholas.
Magical abilities and skills
- Charms: Nick had some skill with charms, although his skills were evidently problematic and in serious need of improvement, considering that when he attempted to straighten Lady Grieve's crooked teeth with a charm, he made her grow tusks instead.
- Study of Ancient Runes: Nick was capable of reading and understanding ancient runes, probably due to his several hundred years of existence. He was thus able to teach his knowledge to help Hogwarts students understand and translate such ancient runes.
Nicholas is from the Greek Nikolaos, "victory of the people." Nick is a jokey, ironic nickname and pun -- one definition of nick is "to cut slightly," and he received more than just a little cut when he was beheaded. Sir indicates he was knighted by a British monarch when he was alive. Porpington is a name Rowling made up and is closest to porpentine, an obsolete name for a porcupine. "Like quills upon the fretful porpentine...": From Shakespeare's Hamlet. Nick can be a prickly-tempered person at times. Mimsy may have come from the same word coined by Alice in Wonderland author Lewis Carroll. It appears in his nonsense poem "The Jabberwocky": "All mimsy were the borogoves..."
Behind the scenes
- In the film adaptations of Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone and Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, Nearly Headless Nick is played by John Cleese.
- In the film adaption of Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone, Hermione Granger, rather than Seamus Finnigan, is the one to ask how he can be "Nearly Headless"
- In the Welsh translation, Nicholas is called "Syr Goronwy ap Gwallter", which literally translated as "Sir Goronwy son of Gwallter", commonly Anglicised as "Walter".
- In Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone, Nick says he had not eaten in nearly 400 years; however, he had, at the time, already been dead for nearly 500 years. In later editions this was changed to "in nearly five hundred years".
- It should be noted that Sir Nicholas's clothes do not match the time period he's said to be from. The ruff, doublet and breeches did not come into fashion until the sixteenth century and are mostly associated with the reign of Elizabeth I. This would be more consistent with earlier versions of Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone in which Sir Nicholas claims to have been dead for four hundred years.
- The Harry Potter time-line is originally based upon Nick's death-day party in Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets. With him having died in 1492 and celebrating his 500th death day, this ostensibly places the novels in the early to mid 1990s. The timeline was later reinforced in Deathly Hallows on James and Lily Potter's graves.
- In the first draft of Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, Nick sang a self-penned ballad explaining how his head had (nearly) come off. There was a priest who comforted him.
- While most of the Hogwarts students call him "Nearly Headless Nick", he prefers the more formal "Sir Nicholas de Mimsy Porpington" or "Sir Nicholas". Harry, however, also calls him Nick. The fact that he prefers to be called Sir Nicholas is only mentioned in the first book and film.
- It is unknown as to how he recovered from petrification by the Basilisk, since he is unable to drink potions.
- In the PS1 versions of the first two video games, he is seen wearing a high hat and his head constantly falls off to the side.
- In the German translation of the second game (PS1 version), Nicholas states that it is his 150th deathday. Which would incorrectly place his death in 1842.
- Sir Nicholas was the first ghost named in the series.
- Sir Nicholas is the only House Ghost who did not live during the founders' time.
- The manner of Sir Nicholas's death may be a reference to Jack Ketch, an executioner in the service of King Charles II, who was infamous for taking multiple attempts to perform his executions.
- Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone (First appearance) (Appears as a ghost or a spirit)
- Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone (film) (Appears as a ghost or a spirit)
- Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone (video game) (Appears as a ghost or a spirit)
- Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets (Appears as a ghost or a spirit)
- Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets (film) (Appears as a ghost or a spirit)
- Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets (video game) (Appears as a ghost or a spirit)
- Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban (Appears as a ghost or a spirit)
- Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire (Appears as a ghost or a spirit)
- Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix (Appears as a ghost or a spirit)
- Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix (film) (Cut from final edit)
- Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix (video game) (Appears as a ghost or a spirit)
- Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince (Appears as a ghost or a spirit)
- Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince (video game) (Appears as a ghost or a spirit)
- Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows (Appears as a ghost or a spirit)
- Pottermore (Appears as a ghost or a spirit)
- Wizarding World (Appears as a ghost or a spirit)
- J. K. Rowling's official site (Mentioned only)
- The Tales of Beedle the Bard (Mentioned only)
- LEGO Harry Potter: Years 1-4 (Appears as a ghost or a spirit)
- LEGO Harry Potter: Years 5-7 (Appears as a ghost or a spirit)
- LEGO Harry Potter (Appears as a ghost or a spirit)
- LEGO Dimensions (Mentioned only)
- Harry Potter Trading Card Game (Appears as a ghost or a spirit)
- Pottermore (Appears as a ghost or a spirit)
- Wizarding World (Appears as a ghost or a spirit)
- Harry Potter: The Character Vault (Appears as a ghost or a spirit)
- Harry Potter: Hogwarts Mystery (Appears as a ghost or a spirit)
- Harry Potter: Wizards Unite (Appears as a ghost or a spirit)
- Harry Potter: Puzzles & Spells (Appears as a ghost or a spirit)
- Harry Potter: Magic Awakened (Appears as a ghost or a spirit)
Notes and references
- Pottermore gives his century of birth as the 15th century (https://www.pottermore.com/features/the-secret-lives-of-the-hogwarts-ghosts). He was already an adult when he died.
- Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, Chapter 8 (The Deathday Party)
- "World Exclusive Interview with J K Rowling," South West News Service, 8 July 2000 - "Hogwarts just serves Britain and Ireland."
- Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone, Chapter 7 (The Sorting Hat)
- Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone (film) - Chapter 13 (Nick and Other Residents)
- The Tales of Beedle the Bard - Albus Dumbledore on "The Wizard and the Hopping Pot"
- "If a teacher is head of a house, can we assume that they were sorted into those houses when they were students at Hogwarts? Is that also true for the house ghosts? So was Snape a Slytherin?" on J. K. Rowling's official site
- Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, Chapter 11 (The Sorting Hat's New Song)
- Extra Stuff - "Nearly Headless Nick" on J. K. Rowling's official site
- Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, Chapter 38 (The Second War Begins)
- Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone, Chapter 8 (The Potions Master)
- Harry Potter: Hogwarts Mystery, Year 2, "DUELLING DEATHDAY PARTIES" Achievement
- Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone (film) - Chapter 15 (New Seeker)
- Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, Chapter 9 (The Writing on the Wall)
- Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, Chapter 11 (The Duelling Club)
- Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, Chapter 16 (The Chamber of Secrets)
- Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, Chapter 18 (Dobby's Reward)
- Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, Chapter 8 (Flight of the Fat Lady)
- Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, Chapter 12 (The Triwizard Tournament)
- Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix (video game)
- Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, Chapter 14 (Percy and Padfoot)
- Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, Chapter 20 (Hagrid's Tale)
- Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, Chapter 8 (Snape Victorious)
- Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, Chapter 23 (Horcruxes)
- Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, Chapter 27 (The Lightning-Struck Tower)
- Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, Chapter 30 (The White Tomb)
- Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Chapter 8 (The Wedding)
- Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Chapter 12 (Magic is Might)
- Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Chapter 29 (The Lost Diadem)
- Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Chapter 31 (The Battle of Hogwarts)
- Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Chapter 33 (The Prince's Tale)
- Harry Potter: Hogwarts Mystery, Year 3, Side Quest "Nearly Headless Nick"
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