34

From a comment in another question:

One should never assume that any given statement by Voldemort is truthful. Indeed, because he deliberately spews lies and distortions all the time, one should be ready to assume that the exact opposite of what Voldemort is saying may be the truth.

Seems obvious right? He certainly seems to be a sociopath, and lying is a component of that diagnosis, however, in thinking about when we actually see Voldemort communicate, does he in fact, ever lie - especially to Harry?

The only time I can think that we see an actual lie is in Chamber of Secrets, but that is technically Tom Riddle, not the fully realized Voldemort (even though, yes, he had taken on the name)

  • 9
    There was that one time he made Harry think he'd captured Sirius and was torturing him in the Department of Mysteries... or something like that, if I had the book on hand I'd write a full answer but as it is I can't fully remember. – DaaaahWhoosh Jun 23 '16 at 14:00
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    The purposes of argument, I'd consider that lying. Deceiving = lying – NKCampbell Jun 23 '16 at 14:04
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    pretty sure lying is the least of Voldemort's sins. – Nu'Daq Jun 23 '16 at 14:10
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    Voldemort's regime definitely had a full-throated propaganda department going. That Muggleborns "steal magic," that Harry killed Dumbledore, that Rufus Scrimgeour "resigned," all lies. Voldemort certainly okayed all those lies, and may have even directly come up with them for all we know. – TenthJustice Jun 23 '16 at 15:30
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    I'm reasonably sure that Tom Riddle lied when Hagrid and Aragorn got the blame for the murder of the muggle-born girl. – Xandar The Zenon Jun 23 '16 at 23:52
65

From Chapter 33 of HP7, "The Flaw in the Plan":

Voldemort and company, with Hagrid carrying supposedly-dead Harry, approach Hogwarts in full victory mode. After the defenders come out of the castle and line up facing the Death Eaters, Voldemort announces to the defenders that

"He [Harry] was killed while trying to sneak out of the castle grounds," said Voldemort, and there was relish in his voice for the lie, "killed while trying to save himself."

Obviously, JKR wants to make sure that readers note that Voldemort is lying. In this instance, the purpose of the lie appears to be to deceive and further demoralize the defenders of Hogwarts.

Two more examples of significant lies, revealed in HBP:

  1. An act of deception following Voldemort's murders of his own father and paternal grandparents, viz., placing a memory charm on Morfin Gaunt (Voldemort's maternal uncle) so that Morfin would "confess" to having committed the murders of the three Riddles.
  2. Another act of deception following Voldemort's murder of Hepzibah Smith and the thefts of Helga Hufflepuff's cup and Salazar Slytherin's locket, viz., disguising the murder as an accidental poisoning committed by Hepzibah's aging house elf Hokey.
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    Can't believe I forgot about that! – DavidS Jun 23 '16 at 16:26
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    Me too! So that makes two direct lies, now? One in PS, one in DH? It'll be interesting to see if anybody finds any others. – DisturbedNeo Jun 23 '16 at 16:35
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    @DisturbedNeo I'm reasonably sure that Tom Riddle lied when Hagrid and Aragorn got the blame for the murder of the muggle-born girl. – Xandar The Zenon Jun 23 '16 at 23:51
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    @XandarTheZenon - I assume you meant to "Aragog", not "Aragorn", right? :-) – Mico Jun 24 '16 at 5:02
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    @Mico His hunt for Gollum took him a looooooooong way from Middle Earth XD – DisturbedNeo Jun 24 '16 at 9:02
39

He lies the very first time he meets Harry in PS. Harry calls him out.

"Don't be a fool," snarled the face. "Better save your own life and join me... or you'll meet the same end as your parents.... They died begging me for mercy..."

"LIAR!" Harry shouted suddenly.

Quirrell was walking backward at him, so that Voldemort could still see him. The evil face was now smiling.

"How touching..." it hissed. "I always value bravery... Yes, boy, your parents were brave.... I killed your father first; and he put up a courageous fight... but your mother needn't have died... she was trying to protect you.... Now give me the Stone, unless you want her to have died in vain."

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    well.....sorta. In book 3, when Harry was being affected by Dementors, didn't Harry hear Lilly pleading with Voldemort to not kill Harry? Granted, that is an Kenobi-esque truth but still... (I've got to get the digital copies - too much hassle to go grab each book and filp through) – NKCampbell Jun 23 '16 at 14:46
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    @NKCambell I suppose that's correct...from a certain point of view. Still, Voldy's smile indicates (to me, at least) that he was well aware he was Kenobi-ing. – DavidS Jun 23 '16 at 14:56
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    @NKCampbell Given Voldemort's "yes, boy", it sounds to me like even he agrees that "they died begging me for mercy" was a lie. – Kyle Strand Jun 23 '16 at 15:38
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    @NKCampbell: She was pleading not to kill Harry. If she begged for mercy, it wasn't for herself. – sampathsris Jun 24 '16 at 12:15
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    Seems like a half-truth here. Yeah, technically Lilly was begging for mercy, but not mercy for herself like Voldemort seems to imply. – EJS Jan 23 '18 at 22:19
16

Voldemort lied to Professor Slughorn about his intentions to make horcruxes, which we see in Slughorn's memory in the pensieve.

Slughorn looked deeply troubled now: he was gazing at Riddle as though he had never seen him plainly before, and Harry could tell that he was regretting entering into the conversation at all.
"Of course," he muttered, "this is all hypothetical, what we're discussing, isn't it? All academic..."
"Yes, sir, of course," said Riddle quickly.
Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince Chapter 23: Horcruxes

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    that's a good one but I think it falls under the 'technically Tom Riddle, not the fully realized Voldemort (even though, yes, he had probably taken on the name)' – NKCampbell Jun 23 '16 at 18:17
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    @NKCampbell: I'm not sure what the difference is. Your exception seems to be focused on Diary Tom. – Ellesedil Jun 23 '16 at 18:32
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    Slughorn wins the nose length on that one, Riddle comes in a distant second – sq33G Jun 26 '16 at 19:18
15

The only time I can think of in which Lord Voldemort directly lied to somebody was when he used legilimency to plant the fake vision of Sirius' capture in Harry's mind in OotP. And even then, that's not a direct quote, just an action. Though, I feel I should mention that in CoS, Tom Riddle in a sense IS Lord Voldemort, because Tom Riddle is the manifestation of the piece of Voldemort's soul that resides within the diary. So technically, you could say that, including the CoS lie, he has lied twice. Which isn't much, when you think about it. Although:

Dear Voldemort, A couple of lies would take care of that. Sincerely, Pinocchio.

Maybe if he had lied more, he'd still have a nose XD

EDIT: Upon further research, I have found a small section in Philosopher's stone, https://expatronum.wordpress.com/2010/09/11/the-life-and-lies-of-albus-dumbledore/ in which Voldemort tells a couple of small lies in an attempt to flatter Harry into handing over the stone. I'll keep looking and see if I can find any more examples, but honestly, looking for "Voldemort" and "Lie" always brings up the "Why didn't Voldemort know Narcissa was lying?" question, so finding what we're looking for is actually quite difficult.

Honestly, I just feel like Voldemort is very particular with his words, in such a way that you can't generally say outright that he's lying, but at the same time you can never be sure he's really telling the truth. Much in the same way that Dumbledore speaks, which I think draws a nice little parallel between the two characters.

I also feel like I should mention that, during my research, before finding pages containing direct quotes from both books and movies, I found a "VoldemortxReader" fanfiction in which Voldemort was cheating and lying about it. That's how little he really lies in the franchise. He lies more in fanfiction.

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    "Dear Voldemort, A couple of lies would take care of that. Sincerely, Pinocchio." - up-vote for this :D – NKCampbell Jun 23 '16 at 14:05
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    Voldemort is too honest to have a nose. Hes brutal and evil - but honest. – Alex Spencer Jun 23 '16 at 14:06
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    Didn't Voldemort say he caught Harry trying to run away? That would have been a lie. – user3294068 Jun 23 '16 at 16:05
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    As he slips further and further into the dark arts, his appearance becomes more serpentine. Voldemort, like a real snake, still has nostrils with which he can smell, he just doesn't have a physical nose that extends out from his face. It's just flat. Given his serpentine nature, he may also have gained the ability to smell with his tongue. (Google how snakes smell if you wanna know how this works) – DisturbedNeo Jun 24 '16 at 9:07
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    @mikeTheLiar - terrible, largely because everyone's too afraid to tell him. So is the way with evil overlords. – Jules Jun 25 '16 at 17:05
3

This was alluded to in the question, but as a teenager, Voldemort/Tom Riddle framed Hagrid for opening the Chamber of Secrets (leading to the latter's expulsion). Technically, the book doesn't actually say that that he lied outright at any point as part of that (he actually may not have technically lied), but he was certainly being highly (and deliberately) deceptive.

In the movie at least, he gave Slughorn some pineapple; when Slughorn asked how he knew that that was his favorite, Tom told him it was intuition. (Presumably, it was actually Legilimency).

One possible example: in the first book, he asks Harry to join him. There's debate about whether this was a real offer or if Voldemort was just trying to manipulate him into giving him the Sorcerer's Stone and planned on killing him right away if he agreed.

Also worth noting: people routinely lie and deceive on his orders (e.g. Barty Crouch Jr. pretending to be Mad-Eye Moody throughout most of the 4th book). Technically, Voldemort himself isn't lying, but he ordered Barty Crouch Jr. to do so, which isn't really all that different.

  • This was mentioned in the question. – ibid Jan 23 '18 at 22:03
  • Of course it was manipulation. And he was lying as part of it. Iirc the book also has Tom give the pineapple. And you could argue that intuition is related to his Legilimency but it could have been something else entirely. I often 'just know' things and I can't rightly explain it other than intuition or some sort of sense. Whether or not Barty Jr. was ordered to 'lie' is whilst interesting to consider doesn't equate to the same. Because Crouch also told lies on his own accord too, didn't he? – Pryftan Apr 15 '18 at 20:18
  • @Pryftan Voldemort placed Crouch in a role where it was his entire role to lie, deceive, and manipulate, though - while Crouch likely told lies of his own accord, too, a good many of his lies were on Voldemort's orders, and ordering someone to lie and deceive for you still doesn't seem all that different than lying yourself to me. With regards to the pineapple, I do agree that it might have actually been intuition, but Tom Riddle's body language in the movie seems to suggest otherwise - his smile really seems like the pleasure of someone who thinks that they're getting away with a lie. – EJS Apr 15 '18 at 20:58
  • @EJS Well many other things in the films were so incredibly wrong - like for all books - that I wouldn't trust them as to be faithful though certainly maybe that's how it was interpreted by the actors/actresses. To me there is a big difference though: he gladly lied; meanwhile you see how Wormtail wasn't exactly eager to do what he was ordered to do. Of course you refer to was it Voldemort lying in those cases but I view it differently than you; that however doesn't mean you're wrong nor does it mean you're right. There isn't right/wrong here I would say. – Pryftan Apr 16 '18 at 23:33
  • @EJS As for intuition one could suggest that it's related to Legilimency in a way. But whether he was practising it or not at the time who knows. I would be surprised however if he wasn't capable of it yet. Dumbledore pointed out that when he first met him he already had a remarkable control of his magic despite not knowing 'magic' was what it was he was capable of. And he also was very influential and manipulative - he already charmed many people including Horace. – Pryftan Apr 16 '18 at 23:34

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