Why did Voldemort wait all those years to kill Harry Potter? It would have been a lot easier for him to kill him when he was still a toddler.

The reason why I am asking this

I read only the first novel and saw only 1st, 3rd and 5th part. So I did not know why the heck he waited for so long just to kill a feeble magician!

  • 8
    Did you miss the part where he was a disembodied spirit for almost the whole of the first film?
    – Valorum
    Commented Jul 8, 2016 at 13:06
  • 25
    He did try to kill him when he was still a toddler.... that's what starts the story.
    – Radhil
    Commented Jul 8, 2016 at 13:08
  • 6
    @Valorum What is this 'film' of which you speak? Harry Potter is a series of books.
    – Rand al'Thor
    Commented Jul 8, 2016 at 13:25
  • 5
    I'm not sure why people are voting to close. Terrible questions should be downvoted, not deleted.
    – Valorum
    Commented Jul 8, 2016 at 13:43
  • 3
    14 Voldemort supporters and counting!... Commented Jul 8, 2016 at 14:29

3 Answers 3


Because he was not in any shape to do so, after the first time he tried when Harry was 1 year old (and the Avada Kedavra rebounded on him and destroyed his body).

“Voldemort tried to kill you when you were a child because of a prophecy made shortly before your birth. He knew the prophecy had been made, though he did not know its full contents. He set out to kill you when you were still a baby, believing he was fulfilling the terms of the prophecy. He discovered, to his cost, that he was mistaken, when the curse intended to kill you backfired.
("OotP", Ch 37, "The Lost Prophecy")

“I miscalculated, my friends, I admit it. My curse was deflected by the woman’s foolish sacrifice, and it rebounded upon myself. Aaah... pain beyond pain, my friends; nothing could have prepared me for it. I was ripped from my body, I was less than spirit, less than the meanest ghost... but still, I was alive. What I was, even I do not know... I, who have gone further than anybody along the path that leads to immortality. You know my goal - to conquer death. And now, I was tested, and it appeared that one or more of my experiments had worked... for I had not been killed, though the curse should have done it. Nevertheless, I was as powerless as the weakest creature alive, and without the means to help myself... for I had no body, and every spell that might have helped me required the use of a wand... ("GoF", Ch 33: "The Death Eaters")


Voldemort was unable to kill Harry

After his failed attempt at killing Harry, all of Voldemort's plans, alliances, and support collapsed. He was left with very few resources, and in a state that would not have lent itself well to killing rodents, let alone a wizard protected by Albus Dumbledore.

  • Voldemort himself was a formless, disembodied fragment of soul. He lacked any ability that would enable him to affect the physical world, save one:

    “Only one power remained to me. I could possess the bodies of others.”

    Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire

  • It would have been exceedingly unlikely that Voldemort would have encountered a suitable host, should he have attempted to avail himself of his single remaining means of killing Harry. Even had he made use of this one talent, and attempted to control or persuade some unfortunate wizard into making an attempt on Harry's life, he would not have dared. He feared exposure or capture:

    “But I dared not go where other humans were plentiful, for I knew that the Aurors were still abroad and searching for me.”

    Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire

    He did not attempt to return to Britain until eleven years after his apparent death. Even when he did possess Quirrell, his first goal was always to recover his body. He made only one attempt on Harry's life, probably fearing that being more open would have led to his being captured.

  • He was abandoned by any followers who might have attempted to kill Harry on his behalf, since they all believed him to be dead.

    “I see you all, whole and healthy, with your powers intact — such prompt appearances! — and I ask myself...why did this band of wizards never come to the aid of their master, to whom they swore eternal loyalty?”

    No one spoke. No one moved except Wormtail, who was upon the ground, still sobbing over his bleeding arm.

    “And I answer myself,” whispered Voldemort, “they must have believed me broken, they thought I was gone. They slipped back among my enemies, and they pleaded innocence, and ignorance, and bewitchment....”

    Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire


He did. That is literally the beginning of the Harry Potter story, in either the books or the movies.

The first chapter of the first book is titled "The Boy Who Lived". Voldemort attacks the Potter family, killing James, then Lily, with the intention to kill Harry. That he fails is what drives the plot.

He then spent many years - up until Harry was 14 - existing only as a semi-ghost, in hiding, with no power and few ways to affect anything physical. When he finally does return to power, Harry is already grown, and while he takes the opportunity to try again, his first major objective is figuring out how to get around all the protection Harry has.

  • In spite of the lack of quotations, I like this answer better than any of the others. The first two sentences could just stand alone. It's a question like, "Why didn't Sauron try to get back the One Ring?" :D
    – Wildcard
    Commented Aug 6, 2016 at 5:56

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