Cookies help us deliver our Services. By using our Services, you agree to our use of cookies. Learn More.

The Truth About The Defense Against The Dark Arts Curse In Harry Potter

Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry can be a pretty crazy place for students and teachers alike ... but you might not know that one of the staff positions is actually cursed.

Throughout Harry Potter's (Daniel Radcliffe) time at Hogwarts throughout the Harry Potter books and films, it starts to seem a bit odd when every single year he and his fellow classmates end up with an entirely different professor for their Defense Against the Dark Arts course. During their first year, they're taught by the twitchy, squirrelly Professor Quirrell (Ian Hart) — who, as it turns out, is playing host to Voldemort's vengeful spirit. Unfortunately, Gilderoy Lockhart (Kenneth Branagh), a boastful and (fraudulently) famous wizard, isn't much better during their second year, but conditions improve vastly with Remus Lupin (David Thewlis) in their third year.

After Lupin is outed as a werewolf, he's replaced by famed Auror Mad-Eye Moody (Brendan Gleeson), who seems like an excellent teacher until it's revealed he's a Death Eater in disguise. However, the worst is yet to come with Dolores Umbridge (Imelda Staunton) — who, between refusing to teach students and physically torturing them during detentions, is definitely the worst. In Harry's sixth year, Potions master and Harry's nemesis Severus Snape (Alan Rickman) steps into the role, but when Voldemort takes over the school, he ultimately installs Death Eaters to do the job.

Fans of the Harry Potter films might wonder why Hogwarts endures such a revolving door of Defense Against the Dark Arts teachers while other positions stay stable — but if you've read the books, you know why. Here's the truth about the Defense Against the Dark Arts curse in Harry Potter.

The Defense Against the Dark Arts job at Hogwarts carries a curse

If you've only seen the Harry Potter films and haven't read the books, you likely have no idea why Harry and his classmates go through so many Defense Against the Dark Arts teachers. However, in Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, Harry's mentor and Hogwarts headmaster Albus Dumbledore (played by Richard Harris in the first two films, and Michael Gambon in the remaining six) tells Harry the real reason.

Throughout Half-Blood Prince, Harry and Dumbledore investigate several memories that weave together the entire story of Voldemort's life before he became the Dark Lord. One of the many scenes that didn't make it into the film is a brief one where Tom Riddle, who has only recently started going by Voldemort at this point, visits Dumbledore at Hogwarts looking for a job. Specifically, he wants to teach Defense Against the Dark Arts, and when Dumbledore refuses, Voldemort seems to accept the decision ... but he leaves behind a parting gift: a curse. 

As Dumbledore tells Harry in the book's 20th chapter, "Oh, he definitely wanted the Defense Against the Dark Arts job [...] The aftermath of our little meeting proved that. You see, we have never been able to keep a Defense Against the Dark Arts teacher for longer than a year since I refused the post to Lord Voldemort."

The Harry Potter films — without this small yet crucial scene — will be available to stream on Peacock soon.