Harry Potter Books Wikia

James Potter was a character in the Harry Potter books by J.K. Rowling.

James was the father of Harry Potter and the husband of Lily Potter. He fought in the First Wizarding War for the Order of the Phoenix. He was killed by Voldemort trying to protect Lily and their son.


Early life

James was born to Mr Potter and Mrs Potter in March 1960.[1] He was their only child because he was born later in their lives when they were elderly even by wizarding standards. He was treasured and indulged when he was growing up.[2] A family heirloom (a Cloak of Invisibility) which belonged to their ancestor, Ignotus Peverell was passed to James at an unknown point. He would use it to sneak around when he was attending Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry.[3]

Hogwarts years

In September 1971, James began attending Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. He befriended Sirius Black when they were on the train. Lily Evans and Severus Snape sat in their compartment too, but they started bullying Snape when they found out he wanted to be in Slytherin. James wanted to be in Gryffindor and he was Sorted into the House by the Sorting Hat. He and Sirius later befriended Remus Lupin and Peter Pettigrew.[4]

James was a smart and popular student, and talented at Quidditch. He was the Chaser for the Gryffindor Quidditch team and Professor McGonagall thought James was excellent.[5] But even though he was popular, he broke school rules and he loved pranking and bullying other students.[6] James and Sirius developed a brotherly bond, and used to go to the Three Broomsticks Inn where their antics tended to leave Rosmerta laughing.[7]

The Marauders

When he found out in their second-year that Remus was a werewolf, he began the process of turning Animagus to join him and support him during transformations. He trained for three years until he was able to transform into a stag. James, Sirius, Remus and Peter spent a lot of time exploring the school and grounds by doing so, and invented the Marauder's Map to help them sneak around unnoticed. James was given the nickname "Prongs".[8]

However, James was arrogant to the point that "criticism bounced right off him". He hexed students for the fun of it, arrogantly ruffled his hair so it looked untidier than it actually was, and took a Golden Snitch around with him. He had a crush on Lily Evans, but she was immune to James's charms because she found the bullying and arrogance very unattractive.[6]

James and Sirius had continued bullying a Slytherin student, Severus Snape since their first-year. Lupin knew he should have stopped it, but he was feeling too indebted to James and Sirius for their friendship. He and Sirius tormented Snape for years, attacking and taunting him whenever they could, calling him "Snivellus".[4] James thought Snape loved Lily and he found their friendship annoying because he had developed a crush on her too[9], and Snape developed an interest in the Dark Arts which James didn't like.[10]

In an Ordinary Wizarding Level examination, he wrote Lily's name in a love heart.[6] When the examination was over, he saw that Sirius was bored so he decided to taunt and hex Snape for fun. Snape was used to their taunting and he knew what they wanted to do, so he jumped up at the sound of their voices. He grabbed a wand, but James used the Disarming Charm and Impedimenta first. They taunted Snape until Lily asked James to stop, and he said he would if Lily went out with him, but Lily told him she would not date him "even if it was a choice between [him] and the Giant Squid".[6]

Snape broke free of the hex and began fighting back, but James further humiliated Snape by hanging him upside-down, planning to strip him of underwear. Lily begged James to stop again, demanding he let Snape down and she put her wand out at James. He gave up and let Snape down, but he kept taunting him by calling him Snivellus and telling him he was lucky that Lily helped. Snape was very embarrased by her helping him because he didn't want her to fight for him. He called her "a Mudblood", telling her not to help.[6] James demanded Snape say sorry to her. Lily told Snape that she wouldn't help again and their friendship was over. James told her he would never call her that, but Lily told him he was bad too because he was an arrogant bully who sickened her. James turned on Snape again when she was gone.[6]

To support Remus, James and their fellow Marauders continued to go to the Shrieking Shack in Animagus form to keep him company. They began to get very confident about keeping a werewolf in check. Lupin's mind turned into less of a beast in their company, and because he and Sirius were large creatures, they could stand up to a werewolf if needed. They dangerously started to wander school grounds and the nearby village, instead of just staying in the Shack. Lupin nearly got away a few times, but they found it very funny.[3]

Snape saw Lupin being taken to the Whomping Willow one evening and was curious to know why. Sirius started to get annoyed at how curious he was. He decided to tell Snape how to tap a knot in the tree to get past it. Snape entered the passageway to the Shrieking Shack, not knowing he was headed straight towards a werewolf and into danger. James found out, and saved Snape's life by pulling him back. Snape thought James had intended to kill him too[11] and just had cold feet.[3] He was now indebted to James, which he found hard to bear.[12][13]

By their seventh-year, James had started to change, and Lily began to change her opinion of him. Both she and James were Head Boy and Head Girl. She finally agreed to date.[10]

In 1977, he and Sirius were pursued by Muggle police in a motorbike chase. It was intended to be fun but they were suddenly pursued by three people on broomsticks. James and Sirius raised the police car with their wands and caused their broomstick pursuers to crash into it. The police trapped them in a corner, but they shocked the police by using their flying motorbike to escape.[14]

First Wizarding War

James graduated in June 1978 and at the age of 18, he married Lily Evans in a small service. Sirius was best man at the wedding.[7] He, Lily and the other Marauders joined the Order of the Phoenix to combat Voldemort and the Death Eaters when the First Wizarding War was in full swing and Voldemort was at the height of power.[15] James and Lily escaped Voldemort three times.[16]

In 1979, Lily fell pregnant with their first child and they spent less time being actively involved in the First Wizarding War. James had lost both parents to a wizarding illness and inherited their fortune. He didn't need a job to support Lily, and he was able use it to support Remus, who was unemployable because he was a werewolf.

In hiding

In 1980, Harry was born and he and Lily held a Christening and chose Sirius to be godfather.[7]

In 1981, Voldemort began searching for Harry because he had heard a prophecy about how he could one day have a power to defeat him. James and Lily had to go into hiding for Harry's safety, and Dumbledore advised they choose a Secret Keeper to enact a Fidelius Charm. They had to choose wisely because he suspected a person close to them was a spy for Voldemort. Dumbledore offered to be their Secret Keeper, but James declined.[7]

James wanted Sirius to be their Secret Keeper, but he suggested it was too easy to guess they would choose him because of how close they were. He instead suggested they use Peter, having suspected Lupin was a spy. He and Lily enacted a Fidelius Charm, telling Peter they were hiding in Godric's Hollow. They were wrong to trust Peter because he was the spy, and he told Voldemort less than seven days later.[7][17]


James was killed by Voldemort first when he got to Godric's Hollow. James was fighting when he shouted to Lily who it was, telling her to take Harry and run. He fought bravely but was soon killed.[18] Lily was killed a short time later, but Harry lived.[19]

The family were celebrated the next day in the wizarding world. Harry was taken by Rubeus Hagrid to be raised by Petunia. Petunia was unhappy because she didn't want to be connected to the wizarding world. She thought James was Lily's "good-for-nothing husband"[19], and she and Vernon raised Harry to have no knowledge about the wizarding world. Petunia would tell Harry that Lily and James died in a car accident and he would only find out the truth many years later. Harry was told by Rubeus Hagrid on Harry's eleventh birthday.[20]

At one point, he gave the Cloak of Invisibility to Dumbledore for safe-keeping shortly before he was killed and he kept it until he could give it to Harry ten years later.[21]


James was tall and thin, and he had untidy, black hair which stuck up at the back. He had to wear glasses.[21]

Notes and sources