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Credence Barebone transforming into his Obscurus form

"Before wizards went underground, when we were still being hunted by muggles, young wizards and witches sometimes tried to suppress their magic to avoid persecution. So instead of learning to harness or to control their powers, they developed what was called an Obscurus."
Newt Scamander's explanation of an Obscurial[src]

An Obscurial was a young wizard or witch who had developed a dark parasitical magical force, known as an Obscurus, as a result of their magic being suppressed through psychological or physical abuse.[1]

According to Albus Dumbledore, an Obscurial could possibly be healed by replacing their feelings of alienation, which ultimately created their Obscurus, with a sense of belonging.[2]


Credence Barebone in his transformed Obscurial form loose in Time Square

"It's an unstable, uncontrollable dark force that busts out and attacks, and then vanishes."
Tina Goldstein[src]

When a magical child was forced to repress their talent through physical or psychological abuse, they developed a parasitical magical force inside of them called an Obscurus, resulting from their strong emotions of distress.[1]

An Obscurial might lose control when they reached their emotional and mental breaking point, releasing their Obscurus as an invisible (or nearly invisible) destructive wind. In extreme cases, they might physically transform into an Obscurus.[1]

When an Obscurial released the Obscurus within, their eyes became pure white and their physical form vibrated and became distorted. While the Obscurus was invisible, the Obscurial could physically interact with the world without making physical contact, though the ability was uncontrolled and triggered by the host's distress, anger, or other intense emotions. This notably damaged structures and objects near the host.[1]

Children possessed by an Obscurus almost always died before their tenth birthdays, but as exemplified by Credence Barebone, a wizard or witch with tremendous latent powers could survive longer. Ariana Dumbledore also survived for a number of years further. When the child died, the Obscurus vanished along with them, though Newt Scamander successfully kept one alive when its host died by encasing it in a magical bubble. It seemed that Obscurials couldn't be killed in Obscurus form; the Obscurus might be shattered temporarily, but the Obscurial themselves would still be alive if Credence was anything to go by. However, he was only one example and was stated to be unusually powerful.[1]

However, even if an Obscurial survived past their tenth birthday, their nature would slowly poison and kill them. Dumbledore, having witnessed this with Ariana, told Newt that "every time it grew darker, it began to poison her." As a result, Dumbledore recognised the signs of Credence's nature slowly killing him and he told Newt that Credence couldn't be saved. As he had previously believed Credence could have been saved had he been given enough love, this indicated that at its earliest stages, it would have been possible for the power of love to cure them of their obscurus, but at a certain stage, a wizard/witch with an obscurus will no longer be able to be saved.[3]

As seen with Credence, Obscurials were still capable of expressing their natural magical abilities, although this appeared to be rarely accomplished as Credence was the only one known to have done so. Despite no longer suppressing his magical nature, Credence also retained his Obscurial abilities and Obscurus and was capable of utilising both in battle.[3]


In ancient times, when wizards were hunted by Muggles, Obscurials were more common. However, when the wizarding world and the Muggle world separated with the development of the International Statute of Wizarding Secrecy, the trend dropped as children were no longer forced to hide their true nature among their own.[1] They could be taught to accept and control their powers without suppressing them.

Ariana Dumbledore became an Obscurial following an attack by three Muggle boys on her. Although Ariana lived to age fourteen, her Obscurial nature slowly poisoned her to death and her family could do nothing to ease her pain. Ariana was eventually killed while trying to intervene in a duel between her brothers and Gellert Grindelwald.[3]

In 1926, approximately three months before his trip to New York, British Magizoologist Newt Scamander discovered an 8 year old Sudanese Obscurial during a study of African magical creatures. The girl had been trapped and severely abused by fearful muggles, causing the development of her powers.[4] Newt attempted to help her and succeeded in separating the Obscurus from its young host, but the girl didn't survive.[4] However, he did manage to magically preserve the Obscurus.[5] She represented the first documented case of an Obscurial in centuries.[4]

Obscurus attack at New York

Obscurials were believed to have completely disappeared from the United States of America by 1926, according to Seraphina Picquery. To the knowledge of the International Confederation of Wizards, an Obscurus had not existed in the United States for over 200 years.[6] However, that same year a young wizard named Credence Barebone was revealed to be an Obscurial, and went on a destructive rampage that caused significant damage to the city, also causing a major breach of the Statute of Secrecy.[7]

Credence's obscurial form being destroyed

Newt's experiences in Sudan allowed him to correctly identify Credence as an Obscurial. He attempted to help the ailing young man but was thwarted by interference by MACUSA Aurors and Gellert Grindelwald, then disguised as MACUSA agent Percival Graves. They attacked Credence, who was apparently destroyed. However, Newt's subsequent actions did reveal Grindelwald's identity and erased the memories of New York's muggle population, ending the Statute of Secrecy crisis.[1]

Credence survived and sought to learn his true heritage while Grindelwald sought to use him against Albus Dumbledore. Grindelwald eventually revealed Credence's true identity as Aurelius Dumbledore and helped him learn to express his magic, although Credence remained an Obscurial.[8] Credence became able to use both his innate magical powers and his abilities as an Obscurial, making him a powerful force. By the 1930s, however, Credence's nature as an Obscurial was slowly poisoning him to death which Dumbledore recognised from his experiences with Ariana, Credence's aunt.[3]

Known Obscurials

Person Notes
Sudanese girl A young girl who was persecuted by her village because she exhibited magical abilities. She died when she was eight years old, with Scamander preserving her Obscurus before her death.[1]
Ariana Dumbledore A young girl who became an Obscurial because of the suffering that she suffered at the hands of three Muggle boys. The Dumbledore family concealed Ariana's true nature, but she was accidentally killed during a duel between her brothers and Gellert Grindelwald.[3]
Credence Barebone Regularly beaten and psychologically abused by his adoptive mother Mary Lou Barebone, who hated magic. He was eventually consumed by his Obscurus and went on a rampage which destroyed large parts of New York.[1] He miraculously survived the incident.[2] However, by the 1930s, his nature was slowly poisoning Credence to death.[3]

Behind the scenes

  • Many have wondered why Harry Potter did not develop an Obscurus, or become an Obscurial. On her official website F.A.Q., author J. K. Rowling answered: "An Obscurus is developed under very specific conditions: trauma associated with the use of magic, internalised hatred of one's own magic and a conscious attempt to suppress it. The Dursleys were too frightened of magic ever to acknowledge its existence to Harry. While Vernon and Petunia had a confused hope that if they were nasty enough to Harry his strange abilities might somehow evaporate, they never taught him to be ashamed or afraid of magic. Even when he was scolded for 'making things happen', he didn't make any attempt to suppress his true nature, nor did he ever imagine that he had the power to do so."[9]
  • Due to Ariana being an Obscurial, her interactions with a young Grindelwald could explain why the Dark Wizard was later so interested by the power of an Obscurus or Obscurial. Ariana also lived longer than the average Obscurial, having died at the age of 14, whereas most documented Obscurials (with the exception of Credence Barebone) didn't live past age 10.
    • This made her one of two in her family, due to Credence Barebone being Ariana's nephew.


Notes and references