I was thinking maybe a picture of the moment that Harry showed Peter mercy choosing not to let Sirius and Lupin kill him would be good here. --BachLynn23 17:24, July 26, 2010 (UTC)

Go for it. Yatanogarasu 17:31, July 26, 2010 (UTC)
I thought I had a picture of both Harry and Peter, when Peter was begging Harry to save him in the shrieking shack, but I can only find the picture of Peter by himself begging Harry, if anyone has a picture of this event with both Harry and Peter in it go ahead and change it. --BachLynn23 18:39, July 26, 2010 (UTC)

Magical bond?

The following statement by JKR calls into question whether a life debt is actually a magical bond:

"When Dumbledore said to Harry, Voldemort won't want a close associate who is in your debt, I wasn't implying by that there was any kind of magical bond there. It was more that Dumbldore's extensive wisdom and knowledge of human nature, he knew as Harry later thinks in book seven, he knew that Pettigrew would react a certain way to having saved his life."

Should we interpret this as inconsistency on JKR's part, or indication that life debts are merely a wizarding custom that relies not on magic, but on social expectation? Starstuff (Owl me!) 17:56, December 2, 2010 (UTC)

It is hard to tell since we have so few examples in the text. --JKochRavenclawcrest(Owl Me!) 18:00, December 2, 2010 (UTC)

How can Ginny not owe Harry one?

Whether or not J.K. Rowling said Ginny does not owe him a life debt, Harry still saved her life. He fought tooth and nail to get down their and save her and by saying she doesn't owe him one feels like you're trying to diminish that. Because how could she not?! I think J.K. might have been mistaken. Why wouldn't she? I mean, if Jo said, "Uh...Harry didn't really kiss Ginny in HBP" would we believe her just cause she said it when we KNOW Harry kissed her? Of course not! So, can I put it back on there? ---General Ironbeak, April 19 2011

It's not as cut-and-dry a matter as if Rowling stated there was no Harry-Ginny kiss in HBP. If she did, we could point to the scene in the book, and easily rule she'd gotten her facts mixed up and misspoken.
But how life debts work, exactly, has never been fully explained, either in the books or by JKR in an interview. There's no way of determining whether Ginny not owing Harry for her rescue in the Chamber of Secrets is an inconsistency because canon simply isn't clear enough about what a life debt is. It's possible young children rescued from peril aren't held to a life debt in the same way juvenile offenders aren't charged as adults. Or that one must see, and be able to identify, one's rescuer in order to owe a life debt to them (Ginny was unconscious when Harry rescued her, whereas Pettigrew was awake, and so presumably was Snape). It's logical to conclude that there are more parameters involved in incurring a life debt than simply being rescued, because it's such a potent thing, and could be abused or even faked if safeguards weren't in place.
I do hope we get some clarification on life debts from The Scottish book, but until then, JKR has said Ginny doesn't owe Harry a life debt, and per HP Wiki policy, "Rowling's Word is Law." Starstuff (Owl me!) 08:21, April 20, 2011 (UTC)
But that doesnt diminish the fact that Harry rescued her and risked his his life in doing so, does it? Cause that's what was bothering me.
Ugh........ i agree with what eveyrone else said. JKR never explained at all what it means to "save someones life(like you never actually know whether this guy was the reason of that guy not dying - especially in certain situations when it becomes very vague). In fact, JKR sucks, she didn't expalin any of the plotholes not even the very important horcruxes - it doesn't make sense at all since when you use up a horcrux it should be gone. Now, let me emphasize(f---? that's usually the way actually lol) about "saving someone else is toovauge). Consider me eating a orange. say, sirisu was about to kill peter pettigrew. Let's say he didn't suceed.Now say, we clone the universe - in this universe everything is the same - sirisu is still trying to kill peter. I lied - not EVERYTHING. the only thing that's differnet is that i didn't eat a orange. sirius DID suceed in this "virtualy universe". does that mean me eating the oragne is the cause of peters life beings saved? —The preceding unsigned comment was added by (talkcontribs).
One thought I'd like to point out to this argument, which seems lost above: JK did this interview after HBP was printed, and said, "No, not really," instead of a flat "No, never." Technically, her wording and timing could be taken as meaning that Ginny didn't owe Harry at this point in the story. It might be splitting hairs, but one could say that somehow it was resolved before the seventh book, perhaps during some battle (especially the Ministry or Astronomy Tower battles) or even more indirectly due to a positive effect on Harry's morale/psyche. Food for thought at least, and a potential question for a future interview if anyone ever gets the chance. 07:38, May 12, 2013 (UTC) 
I would just like to point out that, in both the case of James saving Severus and the case of Harry saving Peter, the party doing the saving had a clear and valid option of not saving the other person - in both cases the consequences of not saving the other person are potentially just as valid as the consequences of saving the other person. James could have easily stood aside and let Severus be attacked, citing "I wasn't there, so I couldn't have stopped it", and Harry could have just as easily stood by and let the Marauders do their thing (which in hindsight may have saved them a lot of headaches in the long run as they would have been able to produce an intact-and-marked-yet-dead Peter to the ministry) It's probably this particular qualification that precludes the Basilisk Incident from qualifying, as Harry really doesn't have much of a say in the matter anyway and if Ginny isn't saved, there goes Hogwarts. Raekuul (talk) 01:20, September 22, 2014 (UTC)

Healers and Aurors

It's just came to me that if the parameter for a life debt was 'saving the life of...', no matter how vague and or loose the wording, then loads of people must be owing a life debt to healers or aurors. Aren't these the ones supposed to be in charge of saving or protecting lives? How does a bond not form with them?

jeun 21:01, March 20, 2012 (UTC)

Life debt between Harry Potter and Draco Malfoy

Below, I share some thoughts with you all, which I had about the possible life debt magic between Harry Potter and Draco Malfoy. These thoughts are just about what I have seen in the movies and not about what is in the books series. If the Wikia community agree, it could be added something of this to the text.

In the movie Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 1, during the Skirmish at Malfoy Manor, Bellatrix Lestrange and Lucius Malfoy press Draco Malfoy to confirm that it was indeed Harry Potter (who at that moment was disfigured because of a Stinging Jinx which Hermione Granger had conjured/shot on Harry to try to disguise his identity) who had been captured by Snatchers. Despite the Harry’s look to confirm his identity and Draco Malfoy seems to realize this, Draco hesitates to confirm that it was Harry Potter indeed, thereby, he saves the life of his "enemy". (Probably, this hesitation already is an effect/consequence of what Albus Dumbledore said to Draco Malfoy in the Astronomy Tower during the Battle of the Astronomy Tower at Hogwarts, minutes before the director of the school of magic have been murdered by Severus Snape shooting the Killing Curse.) Because of this, Harry seems to have become "indebted" to Draco for have saved his life, creating a life debt magic and a bond between them. This may explain why, despite Draco have triggered an attack on Harry, Ron and Hermione, still, Harry decides to save Draco's life and who else was with him (Blaise Zabini and Gregory Goyle, who was not saved just because he already was dead at that moment). This actually happened when, in the film Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2, during the Battle of Hogwarts, on the conflict in the Room of Requirement, Harry could not let Draco die burned by the fire created when Gregory Goyle cast the Fiendfyre spell (this event happened in the movie version, as the version of the book looks like it was Vincent Crabbe who cast this spell), killing himself and burning everything that was inside the Room of Requirement. At that moment, besides Harry have saved Draco, he also saved Blaise Zabini, and Gregory Goyle was not saved only because he was killed minutes earlier.

Andre G. Dias (talk) 01:02, November 13, 2014 (Brazil)

I credit the rescue in the Room of Requirement more to Harry's "Saving People Thing" than to any sort of life debt between them. It's also a bit more complex than that - the Malfoys have been having feelings of doubt since at least as early as the death of Scrimgeour, if not since the fiasco at the Ministry. Remember during the meeting at the beginning of Deathly Hallows, Riddle points out that the Malfoys aren't exactly thrilled to have the Chief Death Eater in their home. Still, I can see a life debt forming out of the events in Wiltshire since Draco had the choice to outright confirm that it was Harry. Raekuul (talk) 12:56, November 13, 2014 (UTC)

Criteria for Life Debts

I think to form a life debt, a few criteria have to be met. Below are a few thoughts on life debts and potential life debts throughout the series.

When Harry 'saves' Ginny in the Chamber of Secrets, he isn’t really saving her, he’s saving himself. If he hadn’t stopped Tom Riddle, he would have died. In order to stop Tom Riddle, he needed to cut the source of his power, which at that point was Ginny. Ginny’s life was saved as a consequence, not as a purely unselfish main objective.

When Harry saves Peter Pettigrew’s life, a true life debt is formed. Harry has a clear choice, and he makes it willingly, with no coercion or threats to his person if he doesn't. What’s more, Harry would feel no remorse if Wormtail were to die. The only reason he spares him is out of honour and nobility [this perhaps could give a life debt a sort of noble connotation]. Perhaps to form a life debt, it needs to be a true act of mercy. Perhaps you must be truly willing to allow that person to die, but consciously choose not to.

This would explain why Healers and Aurors don’t form life debts, or why they don’t seem to form between friends, family, and lovers. They would feel guilty if they allowed those deaths. Perhaps they take a cleverly worded oath that prevents life debts from forming. An oath might act as a form of coercion, i.e. an Auror or Healer is obligated to save your life, and therefore isn’t truly choosing to out of their own free will.

Perhaps this explains Snape's anger regarding the life debt Dumbledore claims he owes [I say claims because it wouldn't exactly be the first time the Headmaster's lied to Harry]. In Prisoner of Azkaban, Snape says James saving his life wasn’t an act of heroism, but rather an attempt to save himself from expulsion and liability. Perhaps this wasn’t a true life debt, as James’ motive was self-serving. Perhaps Snape felt James was unworthy of the noble connotations surrounding a life debt, especially if one wasn’t actually formed. Snape does acknowledge his life was saved that day, but the debt he feels may be one borne of pride, not a magically binding one.

It’s always made me wonder about the circumstances surrounding the troll incident in their first year. Harry and Ron inadvertently lock Hermione in the bathroom with the troll, then make the choice to go back and save her. While it seems unlikely that a life debt would form, there’s still the potential for it depending on Ron and Harry’s mindset. Ron truly didn’t like her—perhaps not to the point he wouldn’t feel guilty if she died, but perhaps enough to make his only motivation for saving her a chance to play hero and claim a bit of glory for himself. Knowing Ron’s deepest desires and insecurities, it’s plausible, and even Harry makes a mention of a hope to gain fifty points from their heroic act. Harry, of course feels a moral obligation to save her, which is made quite clear in the text, but Ron’s thoughts on this are less clear, needing to be reminded by Harry that they were the ones who put her in danger in the first place. I’ve always got the impression Ron seemed to think she owed them something after all was said and done. Ron and Hermione have a very strange relationship throughout the entire series, and I’ve often wondered if there wasn’t some sort of compulsion on Hermione’s part to please Ron.Witchhazelmoon (talk) 00:13, August 14, 2016 (UTC)

Life debt is never mentioned in the movies

In the movie Peter Pettigrew wasn't genuinely grateful to Harry and there was no bond between them.Kintobor (talk) 19:20, March 28, 2019 (UTC)Kintobor

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