One of the most powerful potions in the Harry Potter universe seems to be heavily underused: Veritaserum, and here’s why it can’t be used freely.
There are many elements from the Wizarding World introduced in the Harry Potter series that would make many processes a lot easier, such as the Veritaserum potion, which for some reason isn’t used for actually useful things, like solving crimes. In 1997, readers were introduced to the Wizarding World, its most notable characters, places, spells, objects, and more in the novel Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone, the first entry in what would become a series of seven books. The novels told the story of “the boy who lived” and his years-long battle against Lord Voldemort, the darkest wizard of all who had some truly evil plans.
The Harry Potter book series was a big phenomenon and built a solid fanbase around the world. This success allowed the novels to make the jump to the big screen between 2001 and 2011, with the final book, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, being split into two movies. The Harry Potter saga was pretty loyal to the source material, even if some characters and events had to be left out, but bringing the stories to the big screen also highlighted some problems and inconsistencies within the Wizarding World, such as the purpose and uses of the Veritaserum potion.
The Wizarding World is full of interesting and powerful potions, and Veritaserum is one of the most powerful ones. This potion forces the drinker to answer any questions put to them truthfully, though there were some methods of resistance, such as drinking an antidote and using Occlumency, a technique used to close one’s mind against Legilimency, which is the act of magically accessing a person’s mind. Veritaserum first appeared in Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, where Snape threatened to use it on Harry as he suspected he had been stealing his supplies and later when it was used on Barty Crouch Jr, who was disguised as Alastor Moody. The potion was used a couple more times in the novels and movies, but as it turns out, all these were illegal as its use is strictly controlled by the British Ministry of Magic, and so can’t be used in truly useful situations.
Many Harry Potter fans have argued that Veritaserum could be very useful in situations like interrogating murder suspects and other criminals, which could save innocent lives. Some have even pointed out that it should have been used on Sirius Black when Peter Pettigrew framed him for the murder of many muggles, which is why he was sent to Azkaban. Giving him the serum could have spared him the torturous time in Azkaban, and the truth about Pettigrew’s betrayal could have come to light a lot sooner. However, the main reason for the Ministry of Magic to control the use of this potion is its unreliability, as many wizards and witches can be trained to resist the effects of the serum, thus it can’t be used as definitive proof of guilt or innocence.
Another reason was that the victim can share what they believe to be true but isn’t really it, putting into question their sanity and perception of reality. J.K Rowling added that Veritaserum works best when used on “the unsuspecting, the vulnerable, and those insufficiently skilled to protect themselves”, and that it isn’t infallible. She added that, had Sirius Black been given the potion to testify to his innocence, he would have still been found guilty under the excuse of him using some trick to be immune to it. Although it has some points against it, Veritaserum could have still been very useful in many cases seen throughout the Harry Potter series, but ultimately, even the Wizarding World has its own rules.