James Potter Character Guide

Latest posts by Lacey Jackson (see all)

James Potter was the father of the famed Harry Potter. James attended Hogwarts the same as his son, played Quidditch, and was in Gryffindor. He also joined the fight against Voldemort straight out of high school by becoming a member of the Order of the Phoenix. Though he defied Voldemort three times, he was eventually killed by Voldemort protecting Harry. 

Any real fans know that he believes his father is a saint for most of Harry’s young life. If my cheating, lying, alcoholic late aunt is an indication, everyone is remembered fondly in death. It’s similar to how we mollycoddle people who are hurt or sad; you suddenly decide that nothing is wrong and that long chat you wanted to have about bad behavior can wait. James Potter seems to embody this: in death, he is remembered by all as a brave man who boldly fought against Voldemort and died to protect Harry.

But as the series goes on, James is revealed to Harry (and us) be just like everyone else: kind of a prat in school, immature, and only faithful and kind to those who likes. In fact, he is a bit more of a prat than your average kid (at least the average at my high school), always picking on other students just for fun and particularly exerting his anger and bottled teen angst on Severus Snape.

James Potter Quick Facts

Full Name James Potter I
Birth Date March 27, 1960
Birth Place Great Britain
Nick Name Prongs
Death Date October 31, 1981
Age When Series Starts Deceased
Zodiac Sign Aries
Siblings None
Children Harry Potter
Partner / Spouse Lily Evans
Most Memorable Moment Dying to try and save Harry’s life
Magical Heritage Pureblood
Hogwarts House Gryffindor
Wand 11 inch, Mahogany, unknown core material
Patronus Stag
Actors Who Played Adrian Rawlins
  Robbie Jarvis (teenage James)
  Alfie McIlwain (child James)
Last Updated May 20, 2022

James Potter Birthplace

James Potter Character Guide
Image from Wiki Fandom

James Potter was born in Great Britain. Given that his family lived in Godric’s Hollow, I like to believe he was born at home in Godric’s Hollow. 

James Potter Parents

James was born to Fleamont and Euphemia Potter on March 27, 1960. The couple were quite elderly and had given up all hope of being able to conceive a child when at the last minute, they had James. 

James Potter Physical Traits

James Potter was described as a thin, tall, black-haired man who wore glasses and had untidy hair that stuck up in the back just like Harry Potter’s did. 

James Potter Early Life

James Potter grew up in a loving and supportive family. When Sirius Black recounted having left his family at the age of 16 to Harry Potter, Harry asked where Sirius went. Serious explains that he was always welcome at the Potters. He stayed with them for a year until he was old enough to get his own apartment, but even then, he still came back every Sunday for a family meal. Clearly, James had parents who not only loved him unconditionally but supported his friends and loved them just as much as their own son. 

James Potter Hogwarts Years

James Potter Character Guide
Image from Wiki Fandom

James started his time at Hogwarts, making friends with Sirius Black and discussing his views on how Slytherin house was the worst and Gryffindor was the best. He was immediately placed in Gryffindor alongside his new friend Siri is black, and his soon-to-be wife, Lily Evans.

During his early years at Hogwarts, James Potter demonstrated himself to be a clever and talented wizard, but mostly a mischievous one. He was always arrogant, roaming the halls and jinxing anyone who got in his path for fun. Even though he was a pureblood wizard, he didn’t appreciate the prejudices toward creatures like werewolves or Muggles. Severus Snape once referred to James as lazy. Given how truly talented he was, it seems that Snape was probably right.

I think James was lazy and bored with most of his school work. I think James was burdened with exceptional talent. Rather than apply it to his schoolwork, he only applied it to things that were of interest to him, like the Marauder’s Map or Transfiguration to help a friend. Once he dedicated himself to something, he proved exceptional talent ran in his veins. Again, if he hadn’t died protecting Harry, he might have gone on to do something amazing, or he might have spent most of his life bored and still teasing others.

While James was at Hogwarts, he was a true and loyal friend. This was demonstrated by his having spent three years learning how to transform himself into an animagus to support his friend Remus Lupin. Remus remarked that James had been one of the smartest students of that time, learning how to transfigure and produce a corporeal Patronus. Harry Potter watched his father casually complete his exams with boredom in a memory. 

This loyalty also helped him pass his O.W.L.s when he demonstrated great transfiguration skills during his fifth year. He helped brew an animagus potion, too, meaning he was later able to pass Potions with flying colors. James descended from a long line of gifted wizards who created potions like the Pepper-Up Potion used at school when kids were feeling under the weather and Skele-Grow, which helped regrow bones (like those Harry Potter had broken during a Quidditch match). This heritage contributed largely to James’ abilities in school. Had he not died early, he would have gone on to become a great wizard. 

He was also quite good at charms, something that helped him create the Maurader’s Map. This map was used throughout his time at Hogwarts to check on people’s whereabouts and sneak out of the castle. 

James was known for bullying for the majority of his years at Hogwarts. He bullied just about anyone he thought was weak, no matter how innocent they were, but he picked on Severus Snape the most. He used many hexes and spells to bully Snape in front of as many people as he could, including Levicorpus. 

James Potter After Hogwarts Years

James Potter Character Guide
Image from Wiki Fandom

When James left Hogwarts, he married Lily Evans soon after and had Harry Potter. He and Lily joined the Order of the Phoenix. Once Lily was pregnant, they went into hiding. Dumbledore knew the prophecy relating to Voldemort and therefore knew that the child of James Potter and Lily Evans and the child of Mr. and Mrs. Longbottom would be at risk. Both couples gave birth at the same time, the Potters giving birth while still in hiding. I like to imagine that she gave a tub birth at home while James crouched next to her, and the members of the Order popped by one by one to check on them over the coming weeks. 

They had defied Voldemort three times and were in need of extra protection now that Voldemort was trying to kill them and their son. Dumbledore assumed that one of the members of the Order was a spy and couldn’t be trusted. Lily and James Potter decided to make Sirius Black their Secret Keeper so that they and their location could be kept safe. Still, it was Sirius Black who, at the last minute, decided to make Peter Pettigrew The Secret Keeper.

This decision was made because Lord Voldemort would likely suspect Sirius Black, a Secret Keeper, over Peter Pettigrew. No one knew that Peter Pettigrew was actually the spy in question. He was the one who relayed the information to Voldemort and made it possible for Voldemort to find and kill Lily and James Potter.

They died at Voldemort’s hand on October 31, 1980. Games have been sitting on the couch with his wand on the other side of the room while Lily was playing with Harry Potter and Harry’s new toy broomstick, which he was using to chase the cat. When bold amort broke through the barrier and blasted open the front door, James instructed his wife to take Harry and hide while he tried to face Voldemort head-on with no wand. He was killed instantly. 

Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone

James Potter Character Guide
Image from Wiki Fandom

When Harry Potter first received his invisibility cloak at Christmas, he used it to search in the restricted section of the library but found himself in front of the mirror of Erised (Desire, spelled backward). It was here that he saw James Potter for the first time.

Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban

James Potter Character Guide
Image from Wiki Fandom

When dementors were at Hogwarts, they affected Harry worse than other students (though presumably not Luna). When they were near, Harry re-lived his mother and father being killed. While he didn’t see James killed during the dementor attacks, he could hear it. 

Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire

When Harry was transported to the graveyard and Voldemort came back to power officially, the ensuing duel caused a curious thing: the wands forced Priori Incantatem, regurgitating the previous magic done by Voldemort’s wand. The last things Voldemort does include killing Cedric, Frank, Bertha, Lily, and James. When the duel began, Harry Potter saw an echo of James and Lily come out of the wands. James and Lily, along with Cedric, Frank, and Bertha, all created a bubble that surrounded the two and prevented the Death Eaters from getting close.

The group of echoes continued to move in a circle around the pair, whispering encouragement to Harry and whispering negative things to Voldemort. At the very last minute, it was James Potter who, with his wife, informed Harry that when the connection was broken, they would give him just a few seconds’ head start to get away and get back to the port key. The moment the connection was broken, all of the echoes rushed forward. It surrounded Voldemort so he couldn’t see what was going on, and he couldn’t go after Harry.

Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix

During his occlumency lessons, Harry was disgusted with his father for the first time, having seen a clip of him bullying Snape. He was so upset by this that he found a way to risk severe punishment by breaking into Umbridge’s office to use her fireplace to contact Sirius. It was so unexpected that Remus and Sirius Black assumed something had gone horribly wrong and tried to explain away the bad behavior Harry had witnessed by remarking that James had been “young.” Harry didn’t appreciate this explanation because his father had been the same age he was currently. He never bullied anyone like that and attested to the people at school who did. 

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows

James Potter Character Guide
Image from Wiki Fandom

When Harry Potter learned of the Deathly Hallows and learned of his ultimate fate from Severus Snape, he used the Resurrection Stone when he walked into the Forbidden Forest and turned himself over to Voldemort. The resurrection Stone summoned the people close to him who had previously died, including James, Lily Potter, and Sirius Black. They answered his questions about death, gave him courage, and told him how tremendously proud they were of everything he had done. They stayed with him until the very end. Harry later named one of his sons after his late father. 

James Potter Family 

James Potter Character Guide
Image from Wiki Fandom

James Potter met Lily Evans during their first year at Hogwarts. Lily was sharing a compartment with Snape when James and Sirius Black started making fun of them, prompting Lily to leave with Snape. Things didn’t get much better for the two of them thereafter. James and Severus Snape never seemed to like each other, which caused friction for James and Lily seeing as Severus Snape was her best friend. James would regularly hex Severus as well as other innocent students just for the fun of it.

By his fifth year at Hogwarts, he had developed romantic feelings for Lily. He even took to doing the quintessentially female act of writing their initials in hearts on his papers. She still didn’t appreciate his arrogant bullying and showed nothing but to Staind. After he stopped hexing people for the fun of it, although he still hexed Snape just when she wasn’t around, Lily thought he had changed. When the pair was made Head Boy and Head Girl by their seventh year, they soon struck up a relationship and married almost immediately after graduation.

They joined the original Order of the Phoenix and defeated Voldemort three times. They had their first and only child, Harry James Potter, on July 31, 1980, and both passed away the night of October 31 that same year. After his death, James Potter continued to support his son through memories and echoes, showing up in the mirror of Erised and being regurgitated from Voldemort’s wand, and showing up when Harry went to sacrifice himself using the Stone from the Deathly Hallows. Albus Dumbledore maintained that the love James had for his son was one of the most powerful forms of magic. 

I never understood the whole Lily Evans and James Potter love story. I can appreciate that sometimes kids act out against the people they have crushes on or pretend to dislike them. Still, there didn’t seem to be any real connection between them, secret or otherwise, save for one hint of a smile Lily almost shared when James was tormenting Snape. I would like to believe she was the kind of person who didn’t appreciate bullying in any form and, therefore, wouldn’t have smiled even a little bit. Then suddenly, we cut to the right, and I mean right, after high school, and they are happily married with a baby. Sure, because many couples I know have had a successful, long-term marriage getting hitched and pregnant straight out of high school. Oh, wait… 

I really don’t appreciate James at all, to be honest. He seemed like everything Snape called him: spoiled, swaggering, strutting, arrogant. Ok, sure, he must have been brave to be put into Gryffindor. He joined the first Order of the Phoenix against Voldemort and dark magic, but his redeeming qualities stop right there. At least Sirius was handsome and arrogant. When members of the Order continually explain away James’ bad behavior because of age, I am right there with Harry thinking, “I was that age too, and I wasn’t a total prat!”

Remember, too, that even Snape made mistakes when he was young, and he was stupid and immature. Still, Snape had an awful childhood, so he had to process that trauma and overcome it in adulthood (like we all do), then he made amends for his mistakes. James was just an arrogant toerag with a loving, supportive family and no trauma to speak of. Lily was right the first time. 

James Potter’s Magical Abilities and Special Skills

James Potter Character Guide
Image from Wiki Fandom

All of James Potter’s magical dueling skills he applied to bully Snape in school also translated to his work with the Order of the Phoenix. He was able to use disarming charms and impediment jinxes in battles during the First Wizarding War. 

He was accomplished not just at dueling but at potions, charms, and transfiguration. He took three years to learn how to transform himself (and his friends) into an animagus. The potions and charms involved in this transfiguration are so difficult that it is heavily regulated by the Ministry of Magic because a lot can go wrong. Still, he pulled it off around the age of 15. 

As a chaser, he was very good at flying. One of the compliments Harry received the most while at school was how exceptional he was at flying and how very much like his father he was. 

James Potter Possessions 


James Potter Character Guide
Image from Wiki Fandom

Harry Potter’s family had left him what is referred to as a small fortune. When Harry went to his vault at Gringotts Bank, he found mounds of gold coins and columns of silver. In a piece later penned, J.K. Rowling gave a backstory to Harry Potter’s family, which explains that his ancestors invented many of the potions used in the series, like Skele-gro and Pepper up Potion, and later, Sleekeazy’s Hair Potion, contributing to a large fortune.

Part of that inheritance also included the invisibility cloak which Albus Dumbledore had taken from James while James was still alive in order to verify that it was one of the Deathly Hallows. According to the backstory of Harry Potter’s family, one of his late relatives married a woman named Iolanthe Peverell, who came from Godric’s Hollow. She was the granddaughter of Ignotus Peverell. Since the family had no male heirs, she was the eldest of her generation and inherited the invisibility cloak. As was tradition, the cloak was passed to the male heir in each generation and had to be kept a secret.

Two-Way Mirror

James Potter Character Guide
Image from Wiki Fandom

James Potter owned a two-way mirror. During his time at Hogwarts, he used it to communicate with Sirius Black when they were in separate detentions. Incidentally, this brings up what is clearly an error in the books. Sirius Black has two-way mirror pieces, including those formally belonging to James Potter. At the beginning of Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, he gives Harry his father’s mirror. He reminds him that he can use it at any time to contact Sirius Black. That mirror goes unused and undiscussed. In fact, Harry doesn’t even open it.

Instead, Harry spends hundreds of pages trying to find secret ways to get into contact with Sirius Black to talk to him about things he has seen, things going on at Hogwarts with Dolores Umbridge, and verify whether or not he was kidnapped and tortured by Lord Voldemort. In fact, not using the mirror is what resulted in Dumbledore’s Army flying to the ministry of Magic on a rescue mission.

This rescue mission ended with Sirius Black’s death. The two-way mirror doesn’t come up again until Harry is off searching for Horcruxes. Harry finds it at the end of the book and tries to look for Sirius briefly before following Nearly Headless Nick around the hallways asking whether serious had moved on. Honestly, I think J.K. Rowling completely forgot about the mirror when she finished the book. Then when someone pointed it out, she shoehorned it in at the last minute. Then she tried to make up for this by using it in the Deathly Hallows as a way for Dobby to rescue the group.

Marauder’s Map

James Potter Character Guide
Image from Wiki Fandom

The Marauder’s Map shows every classroom, hallway, an inch of the grounds, secret passages, and people at Hogwarts. The only thing it doesn’t show is the room of requirement and the Chamber of Secrets. The Marauder’s Map was magically created by James Potter and his friends, so at any given time was technically the possession of all four. 

James Potter Wand

James Potter had a mahogany wand, 11 inches long. The core material is unknown. When Harry went back into Snape’s memories, he saw his father taking O.W.L.s. He learned that James’ wand was pliable and excellent for transfiguration work. 

James Potter Trivial and Fun Facts

James Potter Character Guide
Image from Wiki Fandom

In 2008, J.K. Rowling hand wrote a prequel to Harry Potter, which consisted of an 800-word short story pertaining to James Potter and Sirius Black getting into hijinks. It was sold at an auction alongside 12 other pieces and earned more money than all the other twelve combined. Sold to a Toyko buyer, the piece was stolen in England during a robbery. She sent out tweets urging fans not to buy it, no matter how big a fan they were. No one has seen it since, and there are no other copies out there.

James and Harry Potter both have jet black hair in the books, but that was changed to brown in the films. 

In an interview, Rowling said that James Potter played chaser on his Quidditch team, but it said he was a seeker like Harry in the films.   

James Potter Appearances in Books 

James Potter appeared in the following books:

  • Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone 
  • Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets 
  • Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban
  • Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire
  • Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix
  • Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince
  • Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows

James Potter Appearances in Films

James Potter appeared in the following films:

  • Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone 
  • Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets 
  • Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban
  • Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire
  • Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix
  • Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince
  • Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows – Part 1
  • Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows – Part 2

James Potter Quotes

James Potter Character Guide
Image from Wiki Fandom

James standing up for Lily when Snape called her a mudblood:

James Potter: “Apologise to Evans!”

Lily Evans: “I don’t want you to make him apologise. You’re as bad as he is….”

James Potter: “What? I’d NEVER call you a — you-know-what!”

Harry saving Peter Pettigrew because of James:

Peter Pettigrew: “Harry! You — thank you — it’s more than I deserve — thank you —”

Harry Potter: “Get off me. I’m not doing this for you. I’m doing it because — I don’t reckon my dad would’ve wanted them to become killers — just for you.”

Lily Evans snapping at James at Hogwarts:

“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.”

James helping protect Harry in the graveyard when Voldemort returns:

“When the connection is broken, we will linger for only moments… but we will give you time… you must get to the Portkey, it will return you to Hogwarts… do you understand, Harry?”

James, teasing Snape after their O.W.L.s:

James Potter: “How’d the exam go, Snivelly?”

Sirius Black: “I was watching him, his nose was touching the parchment. There’ll be great grease marks all over it, they won’t be able to read a word.”

Severus Snape: “You — wait. You — wait….”

Sirius Black: “Wait for what? What’re you going to do, Snivelly, wipe your nose on us?”

James Potter: “Wash out your mouth. Scourgify!”

James Potter dying:

“The green light filled the cramped hallway, it lit the pram pushed against the wall, it made the banisters glow like lighting rods, and James Potter fell like a marionette whose strings were cut….”

Snape speaking ill (or speaking correctly, depending on your view) about James:

Severus Snape: “How extraordinarily like your father you are, Potter. He too was exceedingly arrogant. A small amount of talent on the Quidditch field made him think he was a cut above the rest of us too. Strutting around the place with his friends and admirers… The resemblance between you is uncanny.”

Harry Potter: “My dad didn’t strut. And neither do I.”

Severus Snape: “Your father didn’t set much store by rules either. Rules were for lesser mortals, not Quidditch Cup-winners. His head was so swollen —”


Question: Was James Potter Related to Voldemort?

Answer: Technically yes. James Potter can trace his lineage through marriage back to Ignotus Peverell, one of the three Peverell brothers who possessed one of the Deathly Hallows. The Gaunt family (heirs of Slytherin and maternal family of Voldemort) appear to have come from Cadmus Peverell, the brother who possessed the Resurrection Stone. This means that Harry’s family is technically a distant relative of Tom Riddle. 

Question: Was James Potter Related to Dumbledore?

Answer: James Potter shared a loving, kindly relationship with Dumbledore, like a grandchild to their grandparent. Dumbledore was moved to Godric’s Hollow, where James would later live. And Dumbledore was the owner of the Elder Wand, the third of the Deathly Hallows. However, the Elder Wand was the only one of the three Deathly Hallows, which was not passed down to family members but instead taken by force, so no, James was not a blood relative (distant or otherwise) of Dumbledore. 

Question: How Old was James When he Married Lily?

Answer: 18. Given that wizards come of age at 17, this would mean that he was 1 year older than adulthood.

Question: Did James Potter’s Head of House like Him?

Answer: James Potter was in Gryffindor, who’s head of house was Minerva McGonagall. Even though he did get into trouble a lot and was regularly punished by Professor McGonagall, it seems that she was not only exasperated with him because of his mischievous behavior but very fond of him because of his talent. She seemed to have a good relationship with him, especially after he improved his behavior at the request of Lily Evans. She was devastated and unable to keep her composure for the first and only time throughout the series when she learned that he had died. 

Question: Was James Potter in the Order of the Phoenix?

Answer: Yes, James joined the original Order of the Phoenix. He fought with them during the First Wizarding War, alongside Dumbledore and Alastor Moody. He likely maintained his childhood friendship with Moody, but many of the Order members died early in the fight. In fact, from how it was described, it is unlikely the Order would have won the good fight had Voldemort not accidentally killed himself. 


Research Citations

  • https://www.theguardian.com/books/2008/jun/11/harrypotter.jkjoannekathleenrowling
  • http://www.accio-quote.org/articles/2000/1000-scholastic-chat.htm
  • IMDB. Harry Potter Full Cast. https://m.imdb.com/title/tt0926084/fullcredits/cast
  • Rowling, J.K. Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone. New York: Scholastic, 1999. Print.
  • Rowling, J. K. Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets. New York: Scholastic, Inc., 2000.
  • Rowling, J. K. Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban. New York: Arthur A. Levine Books, 1999.
  • Rowling, J. K. Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire. New York: Scholastic, 2002.
  • Rowling, J. K. Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix. New York: Listening Library, 2003.
  • Rowling, J. K. (2010). Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince. London: Bloomsbury. Chicago (Author-Date, 15th ed.) Rowling, J. K. 2010.
  • Rowling, J.K. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows. New York: Arthur A. Levine Books, 2007.
  • https://www.wizardingworld.com/writing-by-jk-rowling/the-potter-family
Continue reading:

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Scroll to Top