Character:James Potter

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James Potter
Nicknames and aliases Prongs
Birth March 27, 1960
Death October 31, 1981
Parents Charlus and Dorea Potter
Spouse Lily Potter
Child Harry Potter
Blood status Pure-blood
Wand mahogany; eleven inches; pliable; excellent for Transfiguration
Appearance tall, lanky; messy black hair; hazel eyes
School Hogwarts
House Gryffindor
Hogwarts achievements Head Boy
Special abilities Animagus, excellent Chaser and brilliant student
Allegiance Order of the Phoenix
Other affiliations The Marauders and Gryffindor Quidditch team
Portrayer in the movies Adrian Rawlins (adult) and Robbie Jarvis (teenager)
First appearance in canon The Boy Who Lived (PS) (mention); The Mirror of Erised (PS) (in the Mirror); The Patronus (PA) (voice); Snape's Worst Memory (OP) (appearance)

James Potter is the deceased father of Harry Potter and husband of Lily Potter. He was a Marauder and a member of the Order of the Phoenix until his untimely death at the hands of Lord Voldemort on October 31, 1981.



James; fanart by LadyBelial.

James was tall, lean, and had jet-black hair that stuck up in the back and was constantly untidy—a characteristic James worsened by constantly running his hand through it to make it look as if he'd just dismounted from a broomstick (OP28). He had hazel eyes and wore round-framed glasses (DH10). James was also probably physically fit, as he played Chaser for the Gryffindor Quidditch team while he was in school.

James' son Harry is, physically, almost a carbon copy of his father. References to James most often refer to the similarity between his and Harry's appearances. For example, when the Advance Guard rescued Harry from the Dursleys' before his fifth year at Hogwarts, Kingsley Shacklebolt commented, "[Harry] looks exactly like James" (OP3). The main difference between the two is that Harry has his mother's green eyes, contrasting with James' hazel. James also had a slightly longer nose and, naturally, lacked Harry's famous lightning-bolt scar (OP28).

It has been suggested that, because Harry and James looked so alike, Sirius Black, James' best friend, saw Harry as a replacement for his dead friend. (OP9)


James was a brave Gryffindor and a very loyal friend. He did not, for example, abandon Remus Lupin after discovering that he was a werewolf. He was very close to his three best friends from school: Sirius Black, Remus Lupin, and Peter Pettigrew. The four were often involved in some sort of mischief, and eventually adopted the title of "Marauders". They were regulars in Argus Filch's files of "wrongdoers and punishments" (HBP24). As a Gryffindor, however, James was highly prejudiced against Slytherins; he disdained the House before he even reached the school (DH33).

In addition to being adept at getting into trouble, James was also exceptionally bright, and was considered one of the smartest students in his year (PA10). James also appeared to have been especially skilled in Transfiguration, as his wand was excellent for the subject (PS5); additionally, he achieved human transfiguration at a very young age. He was a gifted flyer, and was on the Gryffindor Quidditch Team while he was in school (PA14). In his seventh year, James was made Head Boy alongside Lily Evans, showing that he must have been an excellent student (PA5).

However, James was also very arrogant while in school, probably because of his abilities and popularity. As the only child of wealthy wizarding parents, he was also well-cared for and rather spoiled, which may have also contributed to his manner (DH33). He also found great amusement in jinxing other students, especially Severus Snape, with whom he had an intense, deep-seated enmity. A great deal of James and Snape's mutual dislike was attributable to the competition between the two for the affections of Lily Evans, whom both fancied—and, eventually, loved (BLC). Snape also disliked James' arrogance, claiming that James strutted around the school for his admirers, and that he obviously enjoyed the attentions and idolization of others, particularly Peter Pettigrew (PA14, OP28). However, James matured by the time he was in his Seventh Year and "deflated his head a bit" (OP29).


Little mischieviousJames, fanart by Elspethelf.

James Potter was born on March 27, 1960 to wizarding parents. It is speculated, though not confirmed, that his parents were Charlus and Dorea Potter, who appear on the Black Family Tree. He was a pure-blood, but was not prejudiced by blood. J. K. Rowling has said that James, being born late in his parents' lives, was treated as an "extra-special treasure," which implies that he had a rather comfortable, perhaps spoiled, upbringing. He was an only child.

James' parents died of natural causes, as they were very old, in wizarding terms. The date of their death is unknown, though they must have lived past James' sixth or seventh year, as they took in Sirius Black after he ran away from home in the summer of his sixth year (OP6). They did not outlive their son, as the Dursleys were Harry's only living relatives after his parents' deaths.


Lily Evans and James Potter. Drawing by queenofserpents.

Upon entering Hogwarts, James was sorted into the Gryffindor House, along with the rest of the future Marauders.

James' best friends at Hogwarts were Sirius Black, Remus Lupin, and Peter Pettigrew; the four called themselves "Marauders" during their time at Hogwarts [1]. These friendships lasted for all of James' life. The group had a knack for getting into trouble, and were constantly caught by Filch during their years at school, which was possibly why Filch kept such a careful eye on Harry. They have been likened to Fred and George Weasley. The Marauders' havoc was no doubt aided by James' Invisibility Cloak, which he left in Albus Dumbledore's possession shortly before his death.

James also seems to have had a profound impact on the staff of Hogwarts; all of his teachers remember him and Lily fondly, and several show great emotion when reminded of the Potters. At some point, probably during his school years, James befriended Rubeus Hagrid, a relationship which he presumably maintained until his death.

With the exception of Peter Pettigrew, the Marauders were very intelligent and performed several magical feats, though many of their deeds were secret.

Becoming Animagi

Prongs, fanart by Makani.

During school, Remus Lupin tried to keep his lycanthropy secret from his friends, making excuses about his monthly disappearances, but the rest of the Marauders were soon able to figure out the true nature of their friend's ailment. However, as they were loyal friends, James, Sirius, and Peter refused to desert Remus; instead, they found a way to help their friend. Realizing that werewolves' bites only affect humans, they worked for the better part of three years to become Animagi. With James and Sirius helping Peter along the way, the three were finally able to transform in their fifth year of Hogwarts. Using James' invisibility cloak, they were able to be with Remus in their Animagi forms during the full moon. They went on regular full moon excursions, during which they explored Hogwarts and the surrounding area, which would later go into the creation of the Marauder's Map.

James' animagus form was a stag, which earned him the nickname "Prongs." As a large animal, Prongs was able to keep Remus in check during the full moon. This is notably the same form that Harry Potter's Patronus takes.

It should be noted that becoming an Animagus is a very difficult task that many grown wizards cannot achieve, requiring significant talent in Transfiguration.

The Marauder's Map

The Marauder's Map is a magical layout of the Hogwarts castle and grounds, including all hidden passages and rooms (with the exception of the Room of Requirement), along with instructions on how to access everything. The map also has labeled dots representing every person on the Hogwarts grounds—and it never lies . The Marauders put in a bit of their personalities, as well; When Snape attempted to open the map with the wrong password, the four insulted the professor. (James' message stated, "Mr. Prongs agrees with Mr. Moony, and would like to add that Professor Snape is an ugly git" (PA14).) They signed the map with their nicknames, "Moony, Wormtail, Padfoot, and Prongs," and sealed it with passwords. To access the map, one has to touch the parchment and say, "I solemnly swear I am up to no good"; to wipe the parchment clear (and maintain its secrecy), one says, "Mischief managed," and the map resembles an old piece of parchment.

The map was confiscated by Filch before the four graduated and labeled as "highly dangerous," although it is unlikely that the caretaker, as a Squib, was able to work it. Fred and George Weasley later stole the map from Filch, and eventually passed it on to Harry Potter.


Lily and James, fanart by Makani.

It was also at Hogwarts that James met his future wife, Lily Evans. The two met on the Hogwarts Express in their first year; James, having insulted Snape, who was Lily's friend, instantly gained Lily's dislike. Lily, too, was Sorted into Gryffindor, and it seems that the two did not get on well for several years; Lily, like Snape, thought he was arrogant and disliked his constant hexing of their fellow students. She did, however, recognize that James' activities, harmful though they may have been, were not evil, unlike those of such future Death Eaters as Avery and Mulciber (DH33).

In their fifth year, James expressed an interest in Lily. However, she disliked him intensely, and was not afraid to tell him so. At one point, she told him that she would rather go out with the Giant Squid (OP28). At the same time, however, her friendship with Snape was disintegrating; by the end of their fifth year, it had completely fallen apart, thus freeing her from Snape's prejudiced comments (DH33). Additionally, James matured, and in their seventh year, Lily agreed to go out with him (OP29).

After Hogwarts

James Potter playing with baby Harry. Fanart by reallycorking.

Not long after leaving Hogwarts—likely within a year or so—James married Lily. On July 31, 1980, Lily gave birth to their only child, Harry. Sirius, as James' most trusted friend, was both his best man and Harry's godfather. The couple moved to Godric's Hollow by July 1981, where they lived until their deaths (DH10).

As James inherited a great deal of money from his parents, he did not need to have a well-paid job (AOL); however, he, along with Remus, Sirius, Peter, and Lily did plenty of work for the Order of the Phoenix. At some point, likely prior to Lily's pregnancy and after their graduation from Hogwarts, James and Lily defied the Dark Lord three times, in accordance with the Prophecy (OP37).

It is unknown if Dumbledore told Lily and James about the Prophecy; he did, however, inform them that they were targets and suggested they go into hiding. By July 1981, the couple had restricted their actions and company, and the inaction frustrated James (DH10). Some time in the fall of 1981, they decided to use a Fidelius Charm for protection. Despite warnings of a traitor close to them, James and Lily rejected Dumbledore's offer to be their Secret Keeper and instead chose Sirius. At the last minute, however, fearing others would see him as the obvious choice for Secret Keeper, which would potentially jeopardize the intended secrecy of the charm, Sirius convinced James and Lily to make Peter Pettigrew the Secret Keeper instead, telling no one about the replacement (PA18).

Pettigrew, however, was the Death Eater, and he wasted no time in betraying the couple to Voldemort. On October 31, 1981, about a week after the charm had been performed, the Dark Lord came to the Potters' house in Godric's Hollow and killed both Lily and James. James died first, in a vain attempt to "hold [Voldemort] off"; he had not even grabbed his wand before running to face the Dark Lord (DH17). Lily was killed second, protecting her son, and inadvertently gave her son the protection that caused Voldemort's downfall and ended the First War (PS17).

James was buried beside with wife in Godric's Hollow; their headstone reads, "The last enemy that shall be conquered is death" (DH16). The house in which they made their final stand, part of which was destroyed by Voldemort's rebounded Killing Curse, has been preserved as a monument to them, invisible to Muggles (DH17). There is also a memorial to those who died in the First War in the town, located in the center of the village square, which shifts between the shape of an obelisk covered in names and a statue of James, Lily, and Baby Harry (DH16).

Appearances in the Books

James and baby Harry, fanart by Elspethelf.

The Dursleys, in their attempt to hide Harry's wizarding heritage and "stomp out" his magic, told him that his parents had died in a car crash. Hagrid, however, tells Harry the truth when he comes to give the boy his Hogwarts letter (PS5). Harry first sees James in the Mirror of Erised, where he notices the similarity between their appearances. In the Mirror, James has arm around Lily, and they are smiling lovingly at their son, surrounded by other members of their family (PS12). James is also mentioned throughout the book by various characters, including Dumbledore and Hagrid. At the end of Harry's first year, Hagrid gives Harry a photo album containing pictures of James and Lily which the gamekeeper obtained

In Harry's third year, James' friendship with Sirius assumes a position of primary importance in Harry's life, as Sirius escapes from Azkaban, and most people, believing Sirius to have been the Death Eater traitor, believes that he wants to kill Harry. For the first time, Harry hears stories of his father's Hogwarts years, as well as the story of the Fidelius Charm, and learns of the relationship between James and Sirius. When confronted by Dementors, Harry hears his parents' last moments—his worst memories. Harry also meets Remus, Sirius, and Pettigrew for the first time, from whom he learns a great deal about his parents, particularly James. Remus tells Harry of the truth of Lily and James' death, as well as . While in the Shrieking Shack, Remus explains the story of how James and his friends became Animagi. Most importantly, Remus explains the incident where James saved Snape's life. (Sirius gave Snape directions to find Remus under the Whomping Willow during the full moon. Risking his own neck, James pulled Snape out from under the Willow before he could be hurt. If not for James, Snape would have died (PA18).)

The next time James appeared was when Harry and Sirius were saved from a hoard of dementors by a silvery stag Patronus. Harry initally thought that James was the one who had cast it, and was convinced that James had been standing across the lake at the time. When Harry went back in time with Hermione's time turner and cast the spell himself, he realized that James hadn't there at all. Later, however, Dumbledore spoke to Harry and told him, "Your father is alive in you, Harry, and shows himself most plainly when you have need of him. How else could you produce that particular Patronus? Prongs rode again last night" (PA22).

The next important appearance made by James was in Harry's fourth year. When Harry's and Voldemort's wand connected with the Priori Incantatem, all of the people Voldemort had killed with that wand burst forth from its tip. Along with Lily's spirit, James told Harry to go and run for the Portkey while the spirits made time for him.

In his fifth year, Harry got a real idea of what his father was like when he was young. Harry followed James around in Snape's Pensieve during Snape's Worst Memory, and later, Remus and Sirius talked to Harry and insisted that James really was a good person, despite how idiotic he might have been at the time.


  • James' first wand was a pliable, eleven-inch mahogany wand, good for Transfiguration. He bought it at Ollivander's in Diagon Alley (PS5).
  • Though Harry survived Voldemort's Killing Curse because Lily had died to protect him, James' dying to protect his family did not have the same effect; this was because Voldemort gave Lily the choice to live, while James had no choice, and so did not invoke the principles of ancient magic which saved Harry.


James is often characterised in fanon as an arrogant git who cares nothing of anything but himself, and, though he claims to love Lily 'more than life itself,' seems merely to love stalking her or obsessing over her. And then, suddenly, he stages a personality turn-around in seventh year; now, he is a mature Head Boy whose favorite pastime is tutoring first years and being an all-around wonderful person and sweetheart. Though these characterisations may have their bases in canon, James was not such an extreme character.

James is often portrayed as being brilliant in Transfiguration, and sometimes in fanon he tutors Lily in this subject and she in turn tutors him in Charms.

Things to Avoid

  • Yes, James played Quidditch and he loved it, but being Quidditch Captain was not what his life revolved around.
  • James was extremely intelligent, but he was not light years ahead of Lily in terms of magical knowledge; he most likely did not care about being the best in all his classes--though he undoubtedly did well in them--because this level of commitment would not be conducive to other endeavors, such as becoming an Animagus or creating the Marauder's Map.








External links

Wikipedia has an article about James Potter.
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