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"The Thief’s Downfall! It washes away all enchantment, all magical concealment! They know there are impostors in Gringotts, they have set off defences against us!"

The Thief's Downfall (incantation unknown) was one of the many defensive enchantments employed at Gringotts Wizarding Bank.[1]



The trio and Griphook going through the water

The Thief's Downfall had the appearance of a waterfall, which fell directly over the tracks used by the mining carts of Gringotts. Its purpose was to wash away any concealment or enchantments (including the Imperius Curse) that were being used by the occupants of any mining cart that ran through it, as well as causing the cart to derail and crash, preventing the thieves from progressing any further. However, it only seemed to affect magic that had been cast upon something else that the waters have run upon, since Hermione Granger was able to cast a Shield Charm directly at the waterfall, re-directing its running waters elsewhere.[1]

Known uses[]

On 1 September 1890, Professor Eleazar Fig and the new fifth-year student managed to enter Gringotts via a series of ancient magic traces only the student could see, and were taken down to Vault 12 by a goblin banker. During their cartride, they passed under the Thief's Downfall, where Fig explained its purpose to his student. When questioned if he'd experienced the waterfall before by the goblin, Fig claimed to have only heard of it.[2]


Ron and Hermione after their disguises had been washed away

During their 1998 break-in at Gringotts when they attempted to access the Lestrange vault, Harry Potter, Ron Weasley, Hermione Granger, and Griphook the goblin encountered this spell. As observed, the waterfall removed all the effects of the Polyjuice Potion from Hermione, a number of transfiguration spells from Ron and lifted the Imperius Curse Harry had placed on Bogrod the goblin. Furthermore, the water knocked the cart off course and, was it not for a Cushioning Charm Hermione produced at the last second, all the occupants of the cart would have almost certainly been killed.[1]

Behind the scenes[]

  • The Thief's Downfall had no effect on the Invisibility Cloak worn by Harry. This was probably something to do with it being the Cloak of Invisibility, a Deathly Hallow rather than an ordinary Invisibility Cloak.
  • It also spared Hermione's beaded handbag, which would have probably burst should Hermione's Undetectable Extension Charm be lifted. This may have had something to do with the "Undetectable" part of the charm, which hides the charm itself. Therefore, it is only logical that if Thief's Downfall did not detect the charm it would not have lifted it.

In the film, after going through the Thief's Downfall, the cart stops and activates an alarm

  • In the novel, the cart derails after passing through the waterfall. In the film, the cart slows to a stop, an alarm is activated, and the cart's seats drop out from under the passengers.
  • Carts probably derail after running through Thief's Downfall because the carts themselves are probably charmed to both keep the cart running until it reaches its destination and keep the cart rooted to the rails and the occupants inside the cart despite the many high-speed twists (some of which invert the cart briefly) it runs through.[3]
  • Quirinus Quirrell may have been required to bypass this during his break-in of the bank with Lord Voldemort.
  • This spell may be related to the General Counter-Spell and/or the Revelio Charm, given the similarity in its effects.


Notes and references[]