In Order of the Phoenix, Voldemort wants to access the prophecy. It can only be taken from its shelf by Harry or Voldemort.

The reason he uses a "complicated plan" (using the connection between his and Harry's minds to let him come, sending Death Eaters to watch the prophecy then get it from Harry...) instead of coming and getting it himself is that he wants to keep his return secret as long as possible:

"Why couldn’t he come and get it himself?”
“Get it himself?” shrieked Bellatrix on a cackle of mad laughter. “The Dark Lord, walk into the Ministry of Magic, when they are so sweetly ignoring his return? The Dark Lord, reveal himself to the Aurors, when at the moment they are wasting their time on my dear cousin?”
(Order of the Phoenix, Chapter 35, Beyond the Veil)

I understand why he doesn't want to be seen at the Ministry.

But if a group of Death Eaters (some of them on the run from Azkaban, others supposedly innocent and distinguished members of the wizarding society) can come discreetly to the Ministry, stand there a few hours and leave without having been seen/recognized (actually, they were NOT discreet, but that was the plan)...
Surely a single wizard, one of the most powerful of all times, can also do so? (and maybe with a more effective result...)

So if Death Eaters could come to the Ministry of Magic discreetly, why couldn't Voldemort?

  • 5
    Having Death Eaters, at least the "supposedly innocent" batch, coming discreetly and standing around the MoM wouldn't totally destroy the idea that Voldemort had returned. Having V himself drop by, on the other hand... May 12, 2016 at 14:47
  • 2
    The idea that Voldemort had not return you mean ? - sure if he was seen there... so long for the secret return. But he's probably good enough on charms transfiguration and everything to come without being seen (like bellatrix and her friends did)...
    – LilyM
    May 12, 2016 at 14:50
  • 3
    As it happens, he did do almost just that. If Dumbledore hadn’t been there to have a rather spectacular little showdown with him in the Atrium, he would have gotten in and out again with no one even realising he was there (apart from Bellatrix, of course). May 12, 2016 at 15:46
  • 3
    Death Eaters are expendable. Voldemort isn't. May 13, 2016 at 1:23

2 Answers 2


It's basically just risk/reward analysis.

Yes, presumably, the chances of Voldemort being seen are small (I'm not sure I agree with that, but that's not proven either way in canon, being a counterfactual).

But the downsides of him being seen are very very big, and - trivializing details - the overall risk is measured by multiplying probability by magnitude of downside. Due to the magnitude of downside, the risk was still too big for him to bother taking when a less risky alternative existed.


He could have, but why would he risk revealing himself to the Ministry by doing it himself?

The Dark Lord had a good plan. Trick Harry into getting the prophecy, and letting the Death Eaters bring it back. Why would he risk going to the Ministry himself when they were completely oblivious to his return? If he had been seen, it would have ruined his chances of being able to build up his power without much of anyone knowing, which was working quite well for him.

Although he probably would be able to slip in an out of the Ministry without being noticed, on the slim chance he was, it wouldn't have made sense for him to take the risk of possibly revealing himself to the Ministry. If he was seen in the Ministry, they would have had no choice but to accept that he had returned. With hardly anyone in the wizarding world thinking that he was back, he could quietly build up his influence without finding much opposition. Even a small chance at that happening wouldn't be worth it, especially if he could find a way of doing it without taking the risk of being revealed.

The Dark Lord would be more willing to have a few of his followers spotted than risk being seen himself. Besides, even if they did see the Death Eaters breaking into the Ministry, it wouldn't necessarily make them believe that the Dark Lord himself was back, especially when they were all too happy to let themselves believe that he wasn't.

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.