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As we are on the subject of lies in Harry Potter,

We know that Albus and Aberforth grew up with lies and deceit, and Albus was a natural. In the last book Aberforth also asks Harry whether Dumbledore has always been truthful to him, at which point Harry also hesitates to say yes (or was it that he lies and says yes? I can't quite remember. Non-the-less, it further points out Dumbledore is never truthful.)

However, I can't recall any situation during the books in which Dumbledore outright lied to him. There are many cases where he withholds the truth, or does not tell people everything, but did he ever outright lie to Harry? In general, on what occasions has he told a white lie to someone during the Harry Potter books?

PS: I am not counting the moment when he says he sees a pair of new socks in the Mirror of Erised. We are only led to suppose that this is false based on Harry's educated guesses.

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  • 3
    Related, not a duplicate: scifi.stackexchange.com/questions/112540/…
    – Rand al'Thor
    Jun 24, 2016 at 4:10
  • 4
    This is a really excellent question, can't wait to see the answers. Reminds of the Obi-Wan's Lies question. Jun 24, 2016 at 4:43
  • 1
    Can we please be nicer to Dumbledore than some users were on the Obi-Wan question? That Obi-Wan question was so unfair. :/
    – RedCaio
    Jun 24, 2016 at 4:55
  • @Randal'Thor can we Slytherincess dissect every Dumbledore line!!!???
    – Skooba
    Jun 24, 2016 at 17:23
  • @Skooba - Well, you do have me! I looked at every Dumbledore line for my answer.
    – Adamant
    Jun 27, 2016 at 3:53

3 Answers 3

26

At least 18 times

First, let us note that Dumbledore is a very deceptive individual. Thus he undoubtedly has lied many more times than documented in the main series.

"Oh, did he now? And did he tell you everything, was he honest with you?”

Harry wanted him with all his heart to say “Yes,” but somehow the simple word would not rise to his lips.

Aberforth seemed to know what he was thinking.

“I knew my brother, Potter. He learned secrecy at our mother’s knee. Secrets and lies, that’s how we grew up, and Albus. . . he was a natural.”

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows

Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone

She threw a sharp, sideways glance at Dumbledore here, as though hoping he was going to tell her something, but he didn't, so she went on. "A fine thing it would be if, on the very day YouKnow-Who seems to have disappeared at last, the Muggles found out about us all. I suppose he really has gone, Dumbledore?"

"It certainly seems so," said Dumbledore. "We have much to be thankful for. Would you care for a lemon drop?"

Dumbledore is, at best, being extremely misleading here. He himself believes that Lord Voldemort survives in disembodied form, and is not "really gone."

"It's just astounding... of all the things to stop him... but how in the name of heaven did Harry survive?"

"We can only guess," said Dumbledore. "We may never know."

Probably a lie. Dumbledore likely knew at this point that Harry survived because of Lily's sacrifice. That is, after all, why he left Harry with the Dursleys.

"Exactly," said Dumbledore, looking very seriously over the top of his half-moon glasses. "It would be enough to turn any boy's head. Famous before he can walk and talk! Famous for something he won't even remember! Can't you see how much better off he'll be, growing up away from all that until he's ready to take it?"

Dumbledore does not believe that Harry will be better off with the Dursleys; he left Harry there because of the blood protection afforded by Lily.

"What do you see when you look in the mirror?"

"I? I see myself holding a pair of thick, woolen socks."

This is a lie. As indicated in this answer, J.K. Rowling has explicitly confirmed what Dumbledore sees when he looks into the Mirror, and it is not a pair of socks.

Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets

Dumbledore was surprisingly honest in this book. I could not find any untruths he told anyone in Chamber of Secrets.

Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban

Professor Trelawney ignored her. Eyes open again, she looked around once more and said, "But where is dear Professor Lupin?"

"I'm afraid the poor fellow is ill again," said Dumbledore, indicating that everybody should start serving themselves. "Most unfortunate that it should happen on Christmas Day."

Lupin was not ill: he was sitting in his office in the form of a wolf.

"YOU DON'T KNOW POTTER!" shrieked Snape. "HE DID IT, I KNOW HE DID IT—"

"That will do, Severus," said Dumbledore quietly. "Think about what you are saying. This door has been locked since I left the ward ten minutes ago. Madam Pomfrey, have these students left their beds?"

"Of course not!" said Madam Pomfrey, bristling. "I would have heard them!"

"Well, there you have it, Severus," said Dumbledore calmly. "Unless you are suggesting that Harry and Hermione are able to be in two places at once, I'm afraid I don't see any point in troubling them further."

While not a direct untruth, this statement nonetheless contains a highly false implication.

Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire

“Dumbly-dorr must ’ave made a mistake wiz ze line,” said Madame Maxime, shrugging.

“It is possible, of course,” said Dumbledore politely.

Though Dumbledore is explicitly described as being polite here, this is nonetheless a lie. Not only is Dumbledore almost certainly too skilled to make a mistake with the line, but it was working very well earlier, as illustrated by various underage students sprouting beards.

Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix

“Oh, can she tell us about six months’ worth of meetings?” said Dumbledore, raising his eyebrows. “I was under the impression that she was merely reporting a meeting tonight.”

Dumbledore was not under that impression: he had no reason to think that Marietta Edgecombe had not been attending meetings all year.

"You?” he whispered, stamping again on his smoldering cloak.

“That’s right,” said Dumbledore pleasantly.

“You organized this?”

“I did,” said Dumbledore.

“You recruited these students for — for your army?”

“Tonight was supposed to be the first meeting,” said Dumbledore, nodding. “Merely to see whether they would be interested in joining me. I see now that it was a mistake to invite Miss Edgecombe, of course."

Marietta nodded. Fudge looked from her to Dumbledore, his chest swelling. “Then you have been plotting against me!” he yelled.

“That’s right,” said Dumbledore cheerfully.

Needless to say, despite the name, Dumbledore had nothing to do with the founding of Dumbledore's Army, nor was he plotting against Cornelius Fudge.

“It is time,” he said, “for me to tell you what I should have told you five years ago, Harry. Please sit down. I am going to tell you everything."

Despite his equivocating over this in the later books, he emphatically did not tell Harry everything! He omitted any information about Voldemort's Horcruxes, which he was fairly certain about by then. He forgot to tell Harry that Harry himself was a sort of Horcrux, which was also very relevant. He also neglected to mention that Voldemort might be tied to Harry by having used his blood to reconstitute his body. Finally, he did not mention Snape's role in the deaths of Harry's parents.

Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince

He had pointed with his injured hand.

"Professor, what happened to your ... ?"

"I have no time to explain now," said Dumbledore. "It is a thrilling tale, I wish to do it justice."

While the tale may well be thrilling, Dumbledore certainly has plenty of time. He simply does not wish to explain at the moment.

"You said, at the end of last term, you were going to tell me everything," said Harry. It was hard to keep a note of accusation from his voice. "Sir," he added.

"And so I did," said Dumbledore placidly. "I told you everything I know.

This is pretty exactly as false now as when Dumbledore first said it, in Order of the Phoenix.

"Here," said Dumbledore, waving his wand once as he passed her the piece of paper, "I think this will make everything clear."

If by "make everything clear" Dumbledore means "I'll Confund you" then yes. Otherwise, no.

"You have — inadvertently, I am sure — been using your powers in a way that is neither taught nor tolerated at our school."

From Dumbledore's previous conversation with Miss Cole, he must be very much aware that Tom Riddle has been using his powers very intentionally, not "inadvertently": using them to, as he says "to frighten, to punish, to control."

"I am glad to see you appreciate the magnitude of the problem," said Dumbledore calmly. "But firstly, no, Harry, not seven Horcruxes: six. The seventh part of his soul, however maimed, resides inside his regenerated body. That was the part of him that lived a spectral existence for so many years during his exile; without that, he has no self at all.

This is all lies. Though J.K. Rowling has said that Harry is not technically a Horcrux, Dumbledore nonetheless referred to him as such. Even if we admit the possibility that Dumbledore is speaking only of Horcruxes that Voldemort directly "made," as opposed to accidental ones, he is still talking about where the "seventh part" of Voldemort's soul resides, while knowing full well that there were more than seven.

'But as for being about to kill me, Draco, you have had several long minutes now. We are quite alone. I am more defenceless than you can have dreamed of finding me, and still you have not acted ...'

Draco and Dumbledore are not alone. Harry is standing under the Invisibility Cloak mere feet away.

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows

This is the book in which so many of Dumbledore's lies and half-truths are revealed. Besides that, he is of course dead, and thus cannot lie very much. Nonetheless, there are a few:

“Did you think that breaking the ring would break the curse?”

“Something like that. . . I was delirious, no doubt. . . ” said Dumbledore. With an effort he straightened himself in his chair. “Well, really, this makes matters much more straightforward.”

At this point, Snape does not know about Voldemort's Horcruxes. Dumbledore was not trying to break the curse by breaking the ring, he was trying to destroy Voldemort's Horcrux. He also certainly was not delirious.

“So the boy. . . the boy must die?” asked Snape quite calmly.

“And Voldemort himself must do it, Severus. That is essential.”

Dumbledore does not believe that Harry must die. He thinks it very possible that his connection with Voldemort, through Harry's blood, may save the latter from death (as indeed happened).

The Tales of Beedle the Bard

The irony is that a curious legend has grown up around this story, which precisely contradicts the message of the original. This legend holds that the gifts Death gives the brothers – an unbeatable wand, a stone that can bring back the dead, and an Invisibility Cloak that endures for ever – are genuine objects that exist in the real world. The legend goes further: if any person becomes the rightful owner of all three, then he or she will become “master of Death”, which has usually been understood to mean that they will be invulnerable, even immortal.

We may smile, a little sadly, at what this tells us about human nature. The kindest interpretation would be: “Hope springs eternal”

In spite of the fact that, according to Beedle, two of the three objects are highly dangerous, in spite of the clear message that Death comes for us all in the end, a tiny minority of the wizarding community persists in believing that Beedle was sending them a coded message, which is the exact reverse of the one set down in ink, and that they alone are clever enough to understand it.

Their theory (or perhaps “desperate hope” might be a more accurate term) is supported by little actual evidence.

Dumbledore personally knows this theory to be absolutely true, and as such is lying to all his witch and wizard readers.

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  • May I welcome you back to the Chatroom?
    – bleh
    Jun 25, 2016 at 3:06
  • Welcome back, and very nice answer!
    – Rand al'Thor
    Jun 25, 2016 at 11:41
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    18 votes for 18 lies. +1. :) However, a great number of these are not lies, but are in fact literal truths. For instance, the very first two: "It certainly seems so" is a truthful statement; it does seem so. It doesn't answer the question definitively, but that's besides the point. Regarding "we can only guess," at what point does Dumbledore's theory (i.e. guess) become a proven fact? Some few of these are outright lies, however, such as the bit about the socks.
    – Wildcard
    Dec 10, 2016 at 20:23
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    Most of these are right, but I think Professor Dumbledore was delirious when he uncovered the ring, because he recognized it as one of the Hallows he had long sought.
    – b_jonas
    Jan 4, 2017 at 12:12
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    Also, I think having to transform to a werewolf does count as being ill, so that one isn't a lie either.
    – b_jonas
    May 11, 2017 at 15:09
3

Dumbledore lied to Minister Fudge in OoP

From OoP, chapter 28

'Dumbledore's Army, Cornelius,' said Dumbledore, still smiling as he waved the list of names before Fudge's face. 'Not Potter's Army. Dumbledore's Army.'

'But - but -' Understanding blazed suddenly in Fudges face. He took a horrified step backwards, yelped, and jumped out of the fire again. 'You?' he whispered, stamping again on his smouldering cloak.

'That's right,' said Dumbledore pleasantly.

'You organised this?'

'I did,' said Dumbledore.

'You recruited these students for - for your army?

'Tonight was supposed to be the first meeting,' said Dumbledore, nodding. 'Merely to see whether they would be interested in joining me. I see now that it was a mistake to invite Miss Edgecombe, of course.'

Marietta nodded. Fudge looked from her to Dumbledore, his chest swelling.

'Then you have been plotting against me!' he yelled.

'That's right,' said Dumbledore cheerfully.

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  • I'll add that he arranged Mrs. Figg's testemony as well, where she lied about being able to see Dementors. Jun 24, 2016 at 17:14
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    I don't think we can be certain about the Mrs Figg one though
    – user13267
    Jun 24, 2016 at 17:22
-1

At least one time

The whole story about Dumbledore taking a broom to London in response to receiving an owl from the Ministry of Magic doesn't jibe with Hermione and Ron's description of what happened after they got out of the Hogwarts dungeons at the end Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone. Dumbledore says to Harry that Hedwig must have crossed in the air with him, but we learn from Hermione that she never sent an owl to Dumbledore, because by the time she and Ron got out of the dungeons, Dumbledore was right there, and knew or suspected Harry had gone to find the Stone. Dumbledore almost certainly didn't take a broom to London. Either he traveled by a faster method than broom or, more likely, never left Hogwarts in the first place, because he was using Harry to expose Quirrel/Voldemort. Either way, his statement to Harry that the message imploring him to return to Hogwarts must have crossed in the air was untruthful, because Dumbledore was never in the air.

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    Hi, welcome to the site. Do note however that the question asked how many times Dumbledore has outright lied to anyone, so an answer to that question should include a total number, and some evidence to support that number, rather than focusing on one specific instance of Dumbledore lying. Mar 25 at 22:59
  • Cool, a "welcome" to the site from someone with 60k reputation that is actually a castigation, and one not uniformly applied within this thread. No, I'm going to trust that a reader of this thread is capable of counting. I don't know how many times Dumbledore lied to Harry and there is no simple answer, so it would be fruitless to give a number. Instead, I was adding to the discussion given by Adamant and David Banner. But since you asked so nicely, with a "please" and everything, I will add a numeric quantification. I trust you will find it helpful.
    – Robert K S
    Mar 27 at 0:40
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    It was both a welcome and an attempt to offer guidance as to how your answer could be improved. This isn't a discussion forum like many other sites, so an answer shouldn't serve as an addendum to previous answers. Rather, each answer should attempt to directly and fully (insofar as is possible) answer the question being asked, with supporting evidence, to demonstrate that the answer is based on facts rather than opinions. Mar 27 at 1:00
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    I'm saying this to you specifically, because as a new poster, your answer came up for review in the site's review queues, and I dealt with that particular review. I wasn't active here in 2016 when David Banner's answer came up for review. I suppose I could unilaterally 'review' his answer six years after the fact, but he's an experienced poster by now (registered longer than I've been), so there's probably not much I can tell him about the site that he doesn't already know. Mar 27 at 1:01
  • That's fine, but there's no ignoring the reality that the system creates a thread of responses, and it would be fruitless for a newcomer to the conversation to recapitulate an earlier answer just to justify a new answer. What you are suggesting is that if I agreed with everything in the original "at least 18 times" answer by Adamant and merely wanted to supplement it, I would need to copy/paste, paraphrase, or incorporate by reference all of Adamant's content in order to justify an "at least 19" response? That does not seem like a sensible use of the system.
    – Robert K S
    Mar 27 at 15:05

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