Why Does Harry ALWAYS Use Expelliarmus? (5 Reasons)

It is not known precisely who created the Disarming Charm. Some wizarding historians claimed that it may have been invented by Merlin himself, while others claimed that its first widespread use was in Madagascar in the 11th century.

Even if any of this is true, the fact remains that it was not very popular until 1379, when Elizabeth Smudgling — the most likely inventor, in the opinion of Miranda Goshawk — used it in a duelling contest in Dartmoor.

The Disarming Charm (Expelliarmus) was a charm that forced anything that an opponent was holding to fly out of their hand. When duels were being fought, it was common for opponents to lose their wands due to this spell.

Expelliarmus, or the Disarming Charm, is roughly translated as ‘to drive out a weapon’, and that is what it does: it forces the subject to drop whatever they are holding. The most common weapon used in duels is a wand, and Harry definitely took that to heart in his combat with it.

In almost every duel that Harry was involved in, he seemed to always be using Expelliarmus. In fact, throughout the course of the books (and movies), Harry has used ‘Expelliarmus’ 36 times!

Why was this his favourite spell? Here’s what you need to know.

Source: Pottertalk

Although this is a powerful spell used to disarm your opponent, Harry was repeatedly advised to change his approach since disarming Death Eaters alone would not be sufficient to win.

In fact, Remus Lupin almost sounded appalled when Harry mentions he used Expelliarmus on Stan Shunpike because as per Harry’s defence, he felt Stan was under the influence of the Imperius Curse. Lupin clearly felt Harry should have used Avada Kedavra or Stupefy (if Harry wasn’t prepared to take a life):

“Lupin looked aghast.

‘Harry, the time for Disarming is past! These people are trying to capture and kill you! At least Stun if you aren’t prepared to kill!’

‘So you think I should have killed Stan Shunpike?’ said Harry angrily.

‘Of course not,’ said Lupin, ‘but the Death Eaters – frankly, most people! – would have expected you to attack back! Expelliarmus is a useful spell, Harry, but the Death Eaters seem to think it is your signature move, and I urge you not to let it become so!”

Harry Potter and The Deathly Hallows   

Why does Harry always use Expelliarmus?

Here are 5 main reasons why Harry uses the Expelliarmus spell:

#1 Creature of Habit and Signature traits

Harry Potter Fandom commentator @RyanTay mentions that Expelliarmus “is his (Harry’s) signature spell and would thus be his natural response to any attack”

You can find out more about spells and the 4 other different terminologies here.

Let us dig into this theory a little deeper, shall we?

In this case, Expelliarmus would be his natural response to an attack since it is his signature spell. To put this theory into practice, let us say there is a person A.

Now if person A were to be trained in using a ‘Disarming Charm’ of any kind when he or she first started Wizarding training, this would be what he/she is most comfortable using because it is first nature to turn to your strong suit. 

After extensive training to use the Disarming Charm, it is most natural for person A to use his or her most familiar weapon, if he or she were attacked or under attack.

As such, the disarming charm is most likely to be used a lot, far more than any other attack, by person A when facing someone in a fight.

#2 A Strong and Reliable Defence Mechanism

On a contrasting note, Harry Potter Fandom user @TopHatRat speculates that Expelliarmus (along with all other disarming spells used) are just a channelling mechanism for the ability and strength of a Witch or Wizard against the threat of death. 

Similar to a ‘fight or flight’ response, the charm used is solely dependent on the Witch or Wizard’s will to defend and fight. Additionally, it was also noted that this could be a possible means of guaranteeing that the opponent is disarmed and will therefore buy the caster enough time to recuperate as opposed to being attacked again instantly.

You can find out why Voldemort wanted to kill baby Harry in the first place here.

#3 Fear of becoming Voldemort

@numaroth from StackExchange argues this was a pure deviation from the ‘original’ plan and a common nature Harry seems to exhibit throughout the course of the series. This was predominantly from his willingness to disarm and not harm in order to stray his actions from Voldemort’s.

We can only speculate at this point; however it seems his hesitancy to use more damaging spells stems from his need to prove to the Wizarding World (and himself) that he is not like Voldemort and will never beif he can help it.

Quora user @PurnabhishekMuppala agrees with this theory as well. Quoting Harry from the Order of the Phoenix “I won’t blast people out of my way just because they’re there… that’s Voldemort’s job.” – psychologically speaking, we as human beings are hyper-aware of our actions when we actively try to disassociate ourselves from a particular person and/or trait.

Stating that although the tactic can be perceived as naïve and impractical in the real world, we can only speculate that killing or taking a life is not something Harry will ever want to do. The key takeaway from this user’s point of view can be summarised as: 

  • Expelliarmus is to Harry as Avada Kedavra is to Voldemort
  • Despite Lupin clearly stating distaste for Harry choosing to use this spell, Harry continues to use it based on instinctual familiarity 
  • And the most heavily emphasised; “Voldemort was a killer/ Harry was not” and this was a distinction and fundamental ground Harry continues to stand on; whereby killing will not become first nature to him (like it has become to Voldemort) – in an internal struggle between kill or be killed; Harry’s aligns himself with disarm.

#4 Lack of Experience and/or Knowledge on Alternative Spells

Quora users @FaridDamasio and @JakobSinčič have drawn the conclusion that whilst Harry is a gifted Wizard, he is not well versed in Spells (as can be expected from an average student).

Therefore, his vocabulary was only ever limited to a handful of spells and even further limited to having experience using only a fraction of them. Expelliarmus was a spell that was taught, learned, seen in action and used. 

 To summarise, the users have boiled Harry’s use of this spell down to two reasons:

  • The first: It worked under the given circumstances – In both instances, Harry has had a 100% success rate of surviving Voldemort’s attempts at taking his life. 
    • The first instance was during the Battle of the 7 Potters in Goblet of Fire, 
    • and the second being during the Battle of Hogwarts in the Deathly Hallows.
    • The logic essentially is that Harry would rather be safe than sorry.
  • The second: It guaranteed a result that was in Harry’s favour – Harry was able to defend himself and those around him without having to resort to using the ‘Unforgivable Curses.’ The idea of being able to protect without compromising his morals is understandably a noteworthy reason to turn to a disarming charm.

#5 He wanted to be Closer to James Potter

Although this theory is not widely spoken of, we see James Potter using this spell twice on Snape during one of Snape’s Occlumency lessons with Harry.

The first being when “Snape’s wand flew twelve feet into the air and fell with a little thud in the grass behind him.” And the second where it was used to disarm Severus Snape while bullying him after an O.W.L. exam.

Harry’s parents were taken away from him in what can only be described as a ‘traumatic’ turn of events. Undoubtedly looking for any small means of being close to them (similar to Harry choosing to wear his father’s glasses) he might have adopted using this charm as a means of being close to him by mimicking his actions. 

When did Harry learn Expelliarmus?

An Unlikely Teacher

A spell that would define Harry was learned during Professor Gilderoy Lockhart’s short-lived Duelling Club. (Of course) not from Lockhart, but from Snape. We were familiar with Snape in the second year as the bad-tempered Potions Master who supposedly hated Harry, but it’s interesting to think that he taught Harry the spell that ended Voldemort’s reign.

Even though Lockhart seemed like a ‘bumbling idiot’, here’s the reason why he’s actually from the Ravenclaw house!

Learning to Disarm

There is a lot to learn about spells. Even Hermione struggled with her Patronus when she used it in the first Triwizard task!

You can find out more about why a Patronus is so hard to cast here.

It could explain Harry’s confidence in using Expelliarmus in challenging situations because he quickly developed an aptitude for the tool.

As soon as he learned Expelliarmus, Harry used it to regain Tom Riddle‘s diary from Draco Malfoy and to disarm Lockhart, plus he spent hours practising it in the second year, becoming very proficient.

However, it wasn’t until Harry turned Expelliarmus against Voldemort that it began to become associated with him – and that is where the danger lies, as Lupin later suggested (that we covered above). 

Disarming the Dark Lord

Hermione and Ron listed all the numerous times’ Harry defeated Voldemort offhandedly, so Harry challenged them:

“I got through it all because – because help came at the right time, or because I guessed right – but I just blundered through it all, I didn’t have a clue what I was doing…”

Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix

It was a case in point at that moment in the graveyard. In the course of Voldemort’s forceful duel with Harry, Expelliarmus came to Harry’s mind. Despite being surrounded by Death Eaters and Voldemort prepared to kill him, he was aware a Disarming Charm wouldn’t get him very far, but it was all he had – that, and his refusal to die without at least trying.

His guess was right, though his failure to disarm Voldemort was more due to Priori Incantatem than to him. Harry puts it best when he says he ‘blundered through, helped by the shadowy echoes of Voldemort’s victims‘.


During the Death Hallows Battle of Hogwarts, Harry’s signature spell was used with defiance in the final battle. Despite his experience, he was still speculating about the Elder Wand, based on the assumptions we touched on above.

At the very end, when he shouted, ‘Expelliarmus!’ as Voldemort screamed, ‘Avada Kedavra!’, his actions echoed what he had told Lupin (and himself) in the very beginning: the bloodshed must be ended, and not created.

Voldemort’s signature spell was Avada Kedavra. Harry’s was Expelliarmus. We know which we prefer!

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Maariyah Bhari

For the love of written words, a cathartic release for me has always been writing. I have over 8 years of writing experience and two degrees in business.

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