I realized I had this question at the very end of answering the following:

So I'll just use the example there, wall of light for my example here.

Say wall of light is cast on somebody, they are blinded for 1 minute, but then the caster of wall of light drops their concentration on the spell while their target remains blinded. Can that target then be targeted with dispel magic? The dispel magic spell states:

Choose one creature, object, or magical effect within range. Any spell of 3rd level or lower on the target ends. For each spell of 4th level or higher on the target, make an ability check using your spellcasting ability. The DC equals 10 + the spell's level. On a successful check, the spell ends.

And, to me, there is a magic effect in range: the blinded effect from wall of light but what is unclear to me is whether that counts as "any spell of [X] level or lower". The spell already ended, so what happens in this case?

We already have a similar question:

But I believe the case of haste is a bit exceptional in that its effect only occurs once the spell ends and things like this can occur before the spell ends and then continue afterwards.


2 Answers 2


In general, a spell effect that can be ended by Dispel Magic is one that is tied to the spell's duration.

Taking an example from another spell - Blindness and Deafness - the spell duration is 1 minute, and the effect itself is tied to the duration of 1 minute. Therefore, you could dispel it and end the effect.

In the case of Wall of Light, the 1-minute duration of the blindness is an effect of interacting with the spell - and not tied to the spell's duration. So dispelling the Wall of Light would not end the effect (For the same reason, dropping concentration also does not end the effect).

For that reason, you cannot dispel the 'blindness' effect of the spell, even if the spell has already ended. It is an effect that the affected creature has on them, and not subject to being dispelled. While dispel magic can target spell effects, its effect is ultimately to only end spells.

  • \$\begingroup\$ "a spell effect that can be ended by Dispel Magic is one that is tied to the spell's duration": is this written somewhere in the manuals or it is deduced by Dispel Magic's description? \$\endgroup\$
    – Eddymage
    Mar 29, 2021 at 15:37
  • 4
    \$\begingroup\$ @Eddymage I believe it's deduced from the fact that dispel magic only ends spells and not, generally, spell effects, despite the latter being a valid target; as Zibbobz says, if the blindness isn't ended by the spell ending (via concentration ending, the spell running out of time, etc.) as per this question, then dispelling can't do anything, because dispel magic only ends spells. \$\endgroup\$
    – CTWind
    Mar 29, 2021 at 15:51
  • \$\begingroup\$ @CTWind Yes, that is exactly what I was preparing to say. \$\endgroup\$
    – Zibbobz
    Mar 29, 2021 at 15:57
  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ @CTWind Yep, the deduction seems reasonable, even if I am not entirely sure of it is correct. As you said the very first sentence of Dispel magic says "Choose one creature, object, or magical effect within range" and the magical effect must come from a spell. Moreover, this distinction betweel "ending a spell" and "ending a spell's effect" leads to something that does not convince me so much (have a look at the comment under Thomas's answer). \$\endgroup\$
    – Eddymage
    Mar 29, 2021 at 15:58
  • 3
    \$\begingroup\$ @Eddymage It is a fair concern - it's not entirely clear either if the blindness that is caused by Wall of Light is a 'magical effect' either - or if it is simply the cause of being blinded by light, the same way a Fireball's damage is not a 'magical effect', but the cause of being burned. The latter is pretty clear-cut though, but the former (the Wall of Light blindness effect) does have some room for alternate interpretation. \$\endgroup\$
    – Zibbobz
    Mar 29, 2021 at 15:59

Only if dispel magic is cast at 4th level or higher.

Dispel magic at 3rd level can only end spells:

Any spell of 3rd level or lower on the target ends.

In contrast, dispel magic at 4th level or higher ends spell effects:

When you cast this spell using a spell slot of 4th level or higher, you automatically end the effects of a spell on the target if the spell’s level is equal to or less than the level of the spell slot you used.

Once the spell has ended, there is no spell to end, so dispel magic at 3rd will have no effect. But at 4th level or higher, it can end the effects of a spell.

Is it inconsistent? Obviously, but I have ruled it this way in the games I run, and my players have generally preferred it this way: this makes upcasting the spell better, beyond just the "automatically succeed" effect given by upcasting.

Keep in mind, it is still up to the DM to decide if a particular effect is a valid target for dispel magic: When can a magical effect be targeted with the dispel magic spell?

  • 6
    \$\begingroup\$ Imma try to get ahead of comments being recurred; Disagreement with the internal logic of an answer is best covered via votes. The querent is aware of the disagreeability (I'll leave acknowledging that up to them), so discussion on the consequences is better kept to chat (we have some in general starting here) \$\endgroup\$
    – Someone_Evil
    Mar 29, 2021 at 20:01

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