Six of the Most Useless Spells Taught at Hogwarts
I’ve often been asked to choose one Harry Potter spell to use in my everyday life, and it’s a hard choice. There are a lot of spells that would be helpful on a daily basis: the Mending Charm (Reparo), the Summoning Charm (Accio), the Unlocking Charm (Alohomora), the Wand-Lighting Charm (Lumos), and even the Disarming Charm (Expelliarmus). However, a lot of the spells taught at Hogwarts are just downright useless and amazingly absurd. Here are some of my favorites.
1. Cartwheeling Eggcups
Now, if I could ask you to take this eggcup and make it do some cartwheels for me…” (OotP 713)
Not only does Harry have to learn this spell, but it’s also the first one he is asked to perform during his Charms OWL. I’m not even sure what a cartwheeling eggcup would look like. Does it sprout arms and legs? Does it just spin across the table? I don’t know why you would need to prove that you could do this spell in order to continue to NEWT-level Charms, but maybe the examiners just want some entertainment while they’re administering exams.
2. Giving Teacups Legs
He and Ron both tapped the teacups they were supposed to be charming with their wands. Harry’s sprouted four very short legs that would not reach the desk and wriggled pointlessly in midair. Ron’s grew four very thin spindly legs that hoisted the cup off the desk with great difficulty, trembled for a few seconds, then folded, causing the cup to crack into two.” (OotP 679)
Even if your teacup did have legs of the right length and thickness, what would you do with your walking teacup? Have it follow you around the house? Take a stroll across the table to your lunch companion because you’re too lazy to reach over and hand them their tea? I’m not saying that wouldn’t be fun, but I’m not sure it’s worth reviewing for your OWL exams.
3. Hedgehog to Pincushion
I might remind you that your pincushion, Thomas, still curls up in fright if anyone approaches it with a pin!” (GoF 233)
Now, do wizards even use pincushions? I just imagined them doing all their sewing by magic, maybe conjuring some pins out of midair when they need them. But I suppose there must be some times when you need to give an old Muggle lady a birthday present and all you have in your house is a hedgehog.
4. White Rabbits to Slippers
Harry looked down at the pair of white rabbits he was supposed to be turning into slippers. What had he learned so far this year? He couldn’t seem to think of anything that would be useful in an exam.” (CoS 284)
Harry seems to understand what Professor McGonagall has failed to: Rabbits turning into slippers is probably not the most useful thing to be tested on in an exam. What I find so hilarious about all the animals being transformed into objects is the assumption that you are more likely to have two white rabbits on hand than a pair of slippers. But I suppose for times when that is the case, this would be a useful spell.
5. Teapot to Tortoise
Hermione irritated the rest by fussing about how her tortoise had looked more like a turtle, which was the least of everyone else’s worries.” (PoA 317)
I would imagine that in most situations (especially in England), a teapot would come in handy a lot more than a tortoise would. But I suppose there must be some moments when you just really need a tortoise on hand…
6. Owl to Opera Glasses
[…] turning a page of Intermediate Transfiguration and glaring at a series of diagrams showing an owl turning into a pair of opera glasses.” (OotP 705)
This is my favorite spell of the group. I had never before imagined wizards at the opera (are there wizarding operas? Or are they going to the Muggle operas?), but now I’m picturing Harry watching opera with Hedwig, realizing he can’t see what’s happening onstage, and surreptitiously turning her into a pair of opera glasses. I don’t think Hedwig would be too pleased about that!
Although in general Hogwarts prepares its students more for everyday life than schools in the Muggle world do, wizarding education still involves learning useless, obsolete information. Even so, I think we’d all much rather be learning how to make eggcups cartwheel than taking Algebra or Latin.