It's been a while since I read the books, but as I recall the working assumption was that the story of the Deathly Hallows was essentially true. That being the case, all three would have been created by Death himself (herself?), which makes it plausible that they could bypass otherwise immutable rules of magic. This seems supported by the fact that the invisibility cloak and wand work as advertised, with a power that was never since reproduced. So given that the other two hallows appear to work as Death agreed, why didn't the resurrection stone?

The elder wand had a nasty side effect of getting one killed in a duel, but it was the most powerful wand in existence exactly as requested. The cloak would be the one that Death would have the most reason to sabotage, and yet it allowed one brother to escape Death until a time of his own choosing. The resurrection stone should have been the one most easily within Death's power to reproduce, given that he 'owned' or 'claimed' (as I believe the text said) the souls that would be returned by it. So why was the resurrection stone flawed? If Death was able to choose to deny one of the requests then one would think he would fail to provide a working cloak that allowed a mortal to essentially 'defeat' him.

I don't think is a duplicate because I'm not asking if the stone works, as it clearly doesn't, or how the stone works, as has been explained elsewhere. I'm asking why it doesn't work, as it seems logically inconsistent with the other information that we have. If memory serves, the evidence implies that Death had no choice but to honor his offer and craft whatever items the brothers requested, also implies that he had the capability to create items beyond the capability of a mortal wizard, and he by definition has at least some power over the souls of the dead.

  • 3
    Because the description of the stone's effects in the Tales of Beedle the Bard are a fairy tale.
    – Valorum
    Commented Apr 1, 2016 at 20:56
  • 2
    out of universe - JKR didn't want anything to truly evade death.
    – Skooba
    Commented Apr 1, 2016 at 21:03
  • @Richard But even so, it seems like Death had no choice but to grant the requester's desire, and it seems unlikely that one of the brothers would have requested an item with the effects we see the stone having. So even if the actual effect description is lost in the generations of retelling, why would it have ever been requested to have such a useless function? Or are you suggesting the entire "Death" part of the story is a fairy tale? In which case where did these powerful, unreproduceable items come from?
    – Nicholas
    Commented Apr 1, 2016 at 21:04
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    Dumbledore posits that they were made by the Peverell Brothers and that the bit about Death is mere fantasy. Next you'll be telling me that the Warlock really did tear out his heart and keep it in a jar
    – Valorum
    Commented Apr 1, 2016 at 21:10
  • @Richard I thought that part was in King's Cross, in which case it's not made clear if that is really the spirit of Dumbledore or a hallucination conjured up by Harry's mind.
    – Nicholas
    Commented Apr 1, 2016 at 21:19

1 Answer 1


It does.

Then the second brother, who was an arrogant man, decided that he wanted to humiliate Death still further, and asked for the power to recall others from Death. So Death picked up a stone from the riverbank and gave it to the second brother, and told him that the stone would have the power to bring back the dead.

Emphasis mine: as quoted from the Deathly Hallows

Death, that trickster, never said how far from Death they would be recalled, or , more importantly in what form they would be recalled. Technically, they were recalled, exactly as the brother asked.

If you don't buy that solution, let's go back to the old standby: Magic can't bring back the dead. You said in your answer:

been created by Death himself (herself?), which makes it plausible that they could bypass otherwise immutable rules of magic. This seems supported by the fact that the invisibility cloak and wand work as advertised

I am negating that: the wand and the Cloak are precedented magic, they're jsut powerful. Making them is like a very smart human being being born--they can exist, just they are rare and powerful. On the other hand, no magic can bring back the dead fully. Making the ressurection stone is like a Vulcan being born to humans. Bringing the dead back as shadow-thingies is precedented by the Priori Incantatem spell, the Ressurection stone is just more powerful.

  • Thank you. I like your first answer; I think it fits best with the story. I know it's not necessarily supported by canon but I feel like Death wouldn't have been constrained by magical limits that mortals have discovered on their magical abilities, as they only have their own abilities to study.
    – Nicholas
    Commented Apr 2, 2016 at 16:05

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