|Also known as||
James Potter (27 March, 1960 – 31 October, 1981), also known as Prongs, was a pure-blood wizard and son of Mr. and Mrs. Potter. He attended Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry from 1971 to 1978, and was sorted into Gryffindor house. There he became best friends with Sirius Black, Remus Lupin, and Peter Pettigrew; together they created the Marauder's Map. Also during this time, James played Chaser for his house's Quidditch team.
During his seventh year, James was appointed Head Boy and began dating Lily Evans, whom he later married. Together, they had a son named Harry. James, Lily, and their friends all fought in the First Wizarding War as members of the Order of the Phoenix; he and his wife defied Lord Voldemort three times. However, James and Lily Potter were forced to go into hiding after a prophecy was made concerning Voldemort and their infant son. Tragically, James and Lily were betrayed by one of their friends, Peter Pettigrew, to Voldemort. James was murdered by Voldemort in 1981, along with his wife, while they were trying to protect their son. James briefly appeared again through the Resurrection Stone for Harry, along with Lily, Sirius, and Remus in 1998.
- 1 Biography
- 2 Physical appearance
- 3 Personality and traits
- 4 Magical abilities and skills
- 5 Relationships
- 6 Behind the scenes
- 7 Appearances
- 8 Notes and references
James Potter was born into a pure-blood wizarding family of considerable wealth. Both his parents were elderly, even by wizarding standards, and both died under normal circumstances between 1975 and 1981. Because he was their only child, arriving later in their lives, James's parents pampered him a great deal, so he grew to be arrogant, boastful, and proud, but deep down a good person.
James started to attend Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry in 1971 and was Sorted into Gryffindor house. While there, he befriended Sirius Black, Remus Lupin, and Peter Pettigrew, and together they called themselves the Marauders.
Though more mischievous than diligent, James was a very clever student. At some point, he became Chaser for his house's Quidditch team, and he was entirely aware of his talent. He was something of an obnoxious youth for the majority of his time at school; he liked to show off and was exceptionally self-confident. He habitually ruffled his hair to make it even untidier, to look as though he'd just got off his broomstick, according to Lily Evans.
James also had a habit of hexing innocent students for no other reason than because he could, especially Severus Snape, a Slytherin in the same year. James and Snape had a strong rivalry throughout their time at Hogwarts. Remus and Sirius later explained to Harry that the reason this rivalry began was due to Snape's jealousy over James's talent at Quidditch and his popularity, as well as Snape's interest in the Dark Arts, which James despised. However, it was later revealed that James and Sirius had insulted Snape from the moment they met him in their first year on the Hogwarts Express. Snape followed the Marauders around, looking for reasons to get them expelled. James, in turn, used the hexes Snape himself had made up against him.
- Lily: "You think you're funny, but you're just an arrogant, bullying toerag, Potter. Leave him alone."
- James: "I will if you go out with me, Evans. Go on, go out with me and I will never lay a wand on old Snivelly again."
- Lily: "I wouldn't go out with you if it were a choice between you and the giant squid!"
- — James and Lily in their fifth year[src]
James spent the majority of his academic career chasing after Lily Evans, an attractive fellow Gryffindor whom he called by her surname. Lily was perhaps the only student in the school, aside from Snape, who was completely unimpressed by James, considering him arrogant and obnoxious. She once ordered James to quit hexing Snape, and James said, "I will if you'll go out with me, Evans." When James took the curse off Snape, Snape called Lily a "Mudblood." James yelled at him to apologise, but Lily said James was as bad as he was, and would choose to go out with the Giant Squid over him, and that he made her sick. Snape's friendship with the vivacious and pretty Lily may have sparked envy in James and further fueled their enmity.
- "Sometimes you remind me a lot of James. He called it my "furry little problem" in company. Many people were under the impression that I owned a badly behaved rabbit."
- —Remus on James's attitude towards his lycanthropy[src]
As second years, James, Sirius, and Peter figured out that Remus was a werewolf. Rather than abandoning him (James, in particular, insisted this monthly hazard did not mean Remus was truly abnormal), they spent three years learning to become Animagi in order to accompany Remus in his transformations. In his fifth year, James managed to perfect the transformation and become a stag Animagus, which earned him the nickname "Prongs."
James presumably collected Chocolate Frog Cards, as, at an unknown time, the History of Magic teacher, Professor Cuthbert Binns, gave him the Circe card, which later came into the possession of Quirinus Quirrell, who kept it in Gringotts Wizarding Bank in Vault 998.
At some point in their school career Snape, who was very interested in where Remus went every month, saw Madam Pomfrey and Remus going to the Shrieking Shack using a secret passage under the Whomping Willow. Sirius had, for reasons unknown, told him that the trick to getting past the Whomping Willow was to poke the knot at the bottom. Snape followed Sirius's directions, and was nearly at the Shrieking Shack when James pulled him back. At great risk to his own life, James saved Severus from certain death at the claws of a werewolf. For this moment James had overcome his immature ways, though it's not known if this was a pivot point to the changes he made that won him Lily. Snape, however, adamantly refused to believe that James would have done him a favour, thinking that James only saved him in order to avoid expulsion, and despised being in his debt.
At the age of sixteen, James's parents allowed Sirius to move in with them so he could escape his own horrible family, and Sirius soon became an unofficial member of their family. By his seventh year, James had lost the less savoury aspects of his personality, and was even appointed Head Boy, despite the fact that he had not been a prefect. He also finally managed to impress Lily Evans, and began dating her at this time. He stopped hexing bystanders for fun, though he still hexed Snape, because Snape never lost an oppourtunity to curse him.
First Wizarding War
- "…I think you’re like James, who would have regarded it as the height of dishonour to mistrust his friends."
After graduation, at only eighteen years old, James married Lily, and Sirius was best man at the wedding. The three of them, along with Remus and Peter, joined the Order of the Phoenix, in the fight against Lord Voldemort and his Death Eaters. In 1977, he and Sirius were involved in a motorbike chase with two Muggle policemen. Although the chase started off as a bit of fun, it turned slightly more serious when the pair were attacked by three men on broomsticks. Sirius and James used their wands to raise the police car that had been chasing them, and their attackers crashed into it. During the course of the next three years, James and Lily defied the Dark Lord three times, as the war continued. The first was when they refused to join Voldemort's side when he attempted to recruit them.
James inherited vast fortunes from his affluent parents, and was able to comfortably support his family without the need for a paying job, meaning that Aunt Petunia's supposed lie about him being unemployed was true, although not because he was a drunk. James also used his wealth to support Remus, who was unemployable due to his status as a werewolf.
On 31 July, 1980, Lily gave birth to their son Harry James Potter, but it wasn't long before Albus Dumbledore found out that they were in grave danger. Young Harry had become a target of Lord Voldemort, because of a prophecy concerning the one who could ultimately defeat him for good. Voldemort had learned of the prophecy through his follower, an old enemy of James, and the former best friend of Lily, Severus Snape. In October of 1981, Dumbledore told the Potters that their best chance of remaining safe against Voldemort was the Fidelius Charm. James insisted on using Sirius as their Secret-Keeper, even though Dumbledore himself had offered to fill the position.
Hiding and death
Sirius, however, had a different plan. He convinced James and Lily to use Peter as their Secret-Keeper, with Sirius as a decoy. They agreed and the charm was cast in secret, but this attempt at a double-bluff ended in tragedy. The only people to know about the switch were James, Lily, Sirius, and Peter; even Albus and Remus were kept in the dark. Less than a week later, Peter betrayed Lily and James to Voldemort.
When the Dark Lord arrived at Godric's Hollow on 31 October, James told Lily to take Harry and run, and stood to face the darkest wizard in a century on his own in order to give his wife and child time to escape, but leaving his wand in the living room, where he had been entertaining his young son with it. Voldemort murdered him with the Killing Curse.
After James's and Lily's deaths, their son was raised by Lily's unloving sister, Petunia Dursley, and her grumpy husband Vernon, along with their glutton of a son Dudley. Despite not remembering his parents, Harry held them in high esteem. This faltered slightly where his father was concerned, when he learned that James had been something of a bully in his youth, witnessing a memory of Severus Snape's, in which James and Sirius picked on and humiliated Snape simply because they were bored. Snape, who switched sides after Lily's death and became Potions professor at Hogwarts, treated Harry with disdain throughout his academic career, perceiving him to be "arrogant as his father, a determined rule-breaker...attention-seeking and impertinent."
Harry saw a vision of his parents in the Mirror of Erised in 1991 . Three years later, during his battle with Voldemort in 1995, the Priori Incantatem effect took place, and James and Lily emerged from Voldemort's wand . In 1996, Harry also witnessed a memory of James humiliating Snape back when they were students.
In 1998, Harry learned he was a Horcrux of Voldemort's, and walked toward his death in the Forbidden Forest. Upon entering, he used the Resurrection Stone to summon James and others who had perished in the war against Voldemort. James and Lily told Harry that they were tremendously proud of him, proud of his outstanding courage and strength, and assured him that they would stay with him until the very end. Harry described their very presence as his courage, the reason he was able to keep putting one foot in front of the other, with Lily smiling at him, and James nodding in encouragement. He eventually named his eldest child after his father. James would gain two more grandchildren in Albus Severus and Lily Luna Potter. 
James was a tall, thin man who wore glasses, with hazel eyes and untidy black hair that stuck up at the back. During his Hogwarts years, he had an indefinable air of having been well cared for and even adored. His son, Harry, was constantly noted to look very much like him, having the same untidy hair and eyesight, but the shape and colour of his eyes were identical to those of his mother's.
Personality and traits
James was a clever and talented wizard, but very mischievous when he was younger. He could be arrogant and boastful, and even bullied other students on occasion, particularly his long-time rival, Severus Snape. However, he ultimately grew out of this, losing some of his arrogance and becoming enough of a responsible student and leader to be Head Boy in his final year, and later a member of the Order of the Phoenix; though he never entirely lost his rebellious side, it was clear James left Hogwarts a much more mature person than he had been upon entering it. James died bravely sacrificing himself for his family, showing that he was a true Gryffindor. Despite being a pure-blood, James disagreed strongly with the concept of blood purity, and was disgusted with any prejudice towards Muggle-borns. In addition, he was not prejudiced against werewolves, such as one of his dearest friends, Remus Lupin.
Magical abilities and skills
The fact that both James and Lily were once asked by Voldemort to join his Death Eaters shows that he, like his wife, was a considerably powerful and skillful wizard, being able to catch the eye of the most dangerous Dark wizard in history. One of his dearest friends, Remus Lupin, also stated that he had been one of the cleverest Hogwarts students of his time.
- Animagus: James was able to become an Animagus at the early age of fifteen, assuming the form of a stag.
- Duelling: James was a skilled duellist, even able to defy Voldemort himself three times. Along with his best friend, Sirius, he humiliated his rival, Snape, who was an exceptionally talented wizard even in his youth. However, when James and Voldemort met for the fourth time, he was killed quickly due to the fact that he did not have his wand.
- Quidditch: James was a skilled Quidditch player, playing Chaser for the Gryffindor Quidditch team during his school years. He was noted to have excellent reflexes, as seen when playing with a Snitch he'd taken from the Quidditch supplies.
- Patronus Charm: James was able to conjure a corporeal Patronus whose form was identical with his Animagus form, a stag. His Patronus was the male counterpart of Lily's which was a doe.
- Transfiguration: James's wand, a pliable, eleven-inch-length of mahogany, was said to be excellent for Transfiguration. He was also able to achieve Animagus transformation at the age of fifteen, a testament to his extraordinary talent in the subject, given that the Animagus transformation was a very difficult branch of magic which, as Remus put it, could go "horribly wrong".
James was born into a very wealthy, pure-blood family. He had an excellent relationship with his parents, who loved him very much. His father was sorted in Gryffindor, and used to tell him about how the house prized bravery and boldness above all other qualities. James's parents were on the older side when he was born, and died before he was killed in 1981.
While at Hogwarts, James became the very best of friends with Sirius Black, Remus Lupin, and Peter Pettigrew, and the group called themselves "the Marauders". He met Sirius on the Hogwarts Express in their first year, and they seemed to bond quickly. In their second year, when the group discovered that Remus was a werewolf, they refused to ostracise him, as most would, instead learning to become Animagi in order to keep him company during his transformations. James insisted that Remus was not abnormal because of his condition, and later used his wealth to support Remus when anti-werewolf legislation made it difficult for him to get a job. The four friends enjoyed untold popularity while at school, and particularly liked playing pranks together; they also invented the Marauder's Map, and all joined the Order of the Phoenix after graduating from Hogwarts.
Although he was very close to all of his friends, James was probably closest to Sirius, whom he loved as a brother and who moved in with James and his parents after running away from home at age sixteen. James also chose Sirius as his best man at his wedding to Lily, as well as his son's godfather. When the Potters became Lord Voldemort's targets in 1981, James was adamant about Sirius being their Secret-Keeper, though he agreed to Sirius's plan to make Peter the Secret-Keeper instead, to throw off the enemy. James's unshakable trust in his friends would be his undoing, as Pettigrew betrayed him, his wife and his son to Voldemort, something Sirius and Remus later attempted to kill him for, only to be stopped by Harry, who thought that his father would not want his best friends to become killers just for a traitor. Dumbledore later assured Harry that his belief had been right, saying that he knew James very well, both at Hogwarts and later, and he was perfectly sure that James would have saved Pettigrew as well.
The ending to the three Marauders who had stayed true to their friendship to the very end - James, Sirius, and Remus - was bittersweet: though they all lost their lives to the two wizarding wars, it can be theorised that they were reunited in death, never to be parted again.
- Lily: "You're as bad as he is..."
- James: "What! I'd NEVER call you a — you-know-what!"
- Lily: "Messing up your hair because you think it looks cool to look like you've just got off your broomstick, showing off with that stupid Snitch, walking down corridors and hexing anyone who annoys you just because you can — I'm surprised your broomstick can get off the ground with that fat head on it. You make me SICK."
- — Lily Evans to James after a row involving Severus Snape[src]
James's relationship with Lily Evans was initially a rocky one. While James was a popular student and talented Quidditch player, well-liked by most, Lily was unimpressed with him; this had to do with James's hostile relationship with her best friend, Severus Snape, and because of James's bad habit of hexing innocent students just for the fun of it. James developed romantic feelings for Lily by his fifth year, and was always going out of his way to try to impress her, only to end up making a fool out of himself most of the time, and she still regarded him as an arrogant bully, treating him with absolute disdain. In their seventh year, however, Lily was finally willing to go out with James, after he smoothed out and stopped hexing people for the fun of it. The two were Head Boy and Head Girl at Hogwarts, and married soon after graduation. James and Lily were both members of the Order of the Phoenix, and together defied Voldemort himself three times. Their son, Harry, was born in 1980.
James met Severus Snape on the Hogwarts Express in their first year at Hogwarts, and the two immediately got off on the wrong foot. James scoffed at Snape's desire that he and Lily Evans would be Sorted into Slytherin house, while Snape sneered at James's hope that he would follow his father's footsteps and end up in Gryffindor. He and Sirius bestowed the mocking nickname of "Snivellus" on Snape at this first meeting.
- "James always suspected Snape harboured deeper feelings for Lily, which was a factor in James’ behaviour to Snape."
- —J. K. Rowling on why James particularly hated Snape.
This enmity would continue for the rest of their school years, and, on Snape's part, well after James's death. According to Sirius, Snape envied James's popularity and Quidditch talents, and always tried to get him and his friends in trouble, while James despised Snape's fascination with the Dark Arts. Although James disliked and even outright bullied Snape at times, he also risked his life to save Snape, when Sirius played a potentially lethal prank on him by sending him to the Shrieking Shack when Remus Lupin was there transforming. Apparently, though James loathed Snape intensely, he never wanted him dead. However, Snape despised being in James's debt and felt, even twenty years later, that James only saved him to avoid expulsion. Most of his dislike of James's son Harry was motivated by seeing his old rival in Harry, as well as a constant reminder that Lily had loved another man.
James and Lily loved their son very much, and sacrificed themselves in order to save him when he was just a year old. Harry regarded his parents with great reverence, and fiercely defended their memories. In 1995, he punched Draco Malfoy for insulting his mother, and he frequently became furious with Professor Snape, who taunted Harry that James was not the great man others made him out to be. Snape was, to Harry's horror, proven right in the spring of 1996, when Harry accidentally witnessed James bullying Snape in one of his memories during Harry's Occlumency lessons, via Albus Dumbledore's Pensieve. However, Remus and Sirius assured him that his father was no longer the bully that he once was, having matured and changed his ways, or he would never have become Head Boy, and his mother would have never agreed to go out with him, let alone fall in love and marry him. Albus Dumbledore always maintained that Harry's love for his parents was his greatest power.
The few times Harry ever saw his parents were through pictures given to him by Rubeus Hagrid, a vision within the Mirror of Erised, spectral forms which came out of Voldemort's wand during Priori Incantatem, stored memories within the Pensieve, and again as spectral forms when he "recalled" them during the Battle of Hogwarts, by using the Resurrection Stone. His spirit was described as "exactly the same height as Harry. He was wearing the clothes in which he had died, and his hair was untidy and ruffled, and his glasses were a little lopsided, like Mr. Weasley's, a loving smile on his face". Both James and Lily told their son that they were tremendously proud of him, for being so brave and strong despite all the pain and suffering he had to endure, and provided him with the support he needed to sacrifice himself to Voldemort.
Harry eventually named two of his children after his late parents.
James always had a good relationship with Albus Dumbledore. Dumbledore was the Headmaster of Hogwarts at the time James attended the school, and he became very fond of James, knowing that, despite his being an arrogant, highly mischievous trouble-maker, he was also a kind-hearted, good-natured person. They both became members of the Order of the Phoenix during the First Wizarding War, and fought in several battles together. Dumbledore also attempted to protect James and Lily from Voldemort, who was out to kill their son, by offering to be their Secret Keeper. However, the role of Secret Keeper went instead to Peter Pettigrew, which turned out to be a fatal mistake, as Peter was, unbeknownst to them, a spy for Voldemort. When James and Lily were killed by Voldemort, Dumbledore was devastated. He later became a mentor of James's son, and they shared an intimate relationship, more like a grandfather and his grandson, rather than a headmaster and his pupil. Dumbledore often sympathised with Harry about the grief and loneliness caused by his parents' death, and would comfort him at times when he really needed it. He also firmly believed and emphasised many times that Harry's love for his parents, James and Lily, was the reason why he had a power stronger than Voldemort's.
Minerva McGonagall was the Transfiguration Professor and also the Head of Gryffindor House, at the time James was a student. McGonagall was simultaneously fond of, and exasperated with James: she knew that he was a mischievous trouble-maker and often played cruel pranks on some of his school rivals, such as Severus Snape, but she also knew that he was a clever and talented wizard, and essentially a good person; overall, they had a good relationship, which presumably improved significantly after James cleaned up his act, and became worthy of being made Head Boy. During the First Wizarding War, they were both members of the Order of the Phoenix and fought in many battles against Death Eaters. Upon learning of James's and Lily's deaths a few hours after they were killed, McGonagall was devastated, and barely managed to keep her composure. In her later years, she shared quite a close relationship with James's son, Harry.
Order of the Phoenix members
James did have a good relationship with the most members of the Order of the Phoenix, during the First Wizarding War. He might have been friendly with some members, such as Elphias Doge and Alastor Moody, as they were all members during the first war and most likely fought in several battles together. It is possible that James had many other friendships during his time in the Order, but they were unknown; his most famous friendship being the one he shared with the Marauders. The most members of the Order were killed during the Second Wizarding War; only few of them managed to survive.
Behind the scenes
- James is played by Adrian Rawlins in the film adaptations of Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone, Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire and reprised the role for Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows. In the film adaptations of Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban and Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, footage from earlier films was used. In Order of the Phoenix, James was played as a teenager by Robbie Jarvis and as a child by Alfie McIlwain in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2 in flashback scenes. This means the only film adaption which James doesn't appear in is Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince. By an interesting coincidence, Rawlins was also born on 27 March.
- There has been some confusion about whether James played Seeker or Chaser (the books say Chaser, but the movies say Seeker), but in the second Scholastic interview, J. K. Rowling confirmed he was indeed a Chaser. It is possible he could have played both in different years, seeing as he was mentioned to have been playing with a stolen Golden Snitch in Chapter 28 of Order of the Phoenix.
- To date, the Harry Potter Prequel is the only story to feature James while he was alive. All other appearances have either been as an echo or as a flashback.
- In the film version of Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, James is depicted as having brown instead of black hair.
- In the movie adaptations, James appears to be much older than he was intended to be, being only twenty-one years old when he died.
- There has been some speculation that James's parents were Charlus Potter and Dorea Black, who appear on the Black family tree and are said to have had one son, though it has never been confirmed. If they were his parents, this would make James's best friend Sirius Black his first cousin once removed. It would also mean that Harry and his best friend/brother-in-law and wife, Ron and Ginny Weasley, respectively, are third cousins.
- In Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2, a young James is shown without glasses.
- Harry Potter Prequel
- Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone (Appears in flashback(s))
- Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone (film) (Appears in flashback(s))
- Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone (video game) (Appears in flashback(s))
- Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets (Mentioned only)
- Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets (film) (Mentioned only)
- Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban (Appears in flashback(s))
- Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban (film) (Appears in footage)
- Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban (video game) (Mentioned only)
- Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire (Appears as a ghost or a spirit)
- Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire (film) (Appears as a ghost or a spirit)
- Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix (Appears in flashback(s))
- Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix (film) (Appears in flashback(s))
- Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince (Mentioned only)
- Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince (film) (Flashback on Disc 2)
- Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows (Appears in flashback(s)) (Appears as a ghost or a spirit)
- Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 1 (Appears in flashback(s))
- Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 1 (video game) (Mentioned only)
- Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2 (Appears in flashback(s)) (Appears as a ghost or a spirit)
- Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2 (video game) (Appears in flashback(s)) (Appears as a ghost or a spirit)
- LEGO Harry Potter: Years 1-4 (Appears in flashback(s)) (Appears in photographs) (Appears as a ghost or a spirit)
Notes and references
- J.K. Rowling and the Live Chat, Bloomsbury.com, 30 July, 2007
- Leaky Cauldron: 30 July 2007 Webchat with J.K. Rowling
- Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban
- 16 October 2000 Scholastic Chat with J.K. Rowling
- Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix
- Harry Potter Prequel
- J. K. Rowling interview on PotterCast #130
- J.K. Rowling comments at Carnegie Hall
- Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows
- Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone
- Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire
- Black family tree