At the start of Harry Potter and the Philosopher's/Sorceror's Stone Voldemort's Killing Curse backfires

due to Lily's sacrifice protecting Harry from Voldemort.

leaving Harry with his scar

and a loose piece of Voldemort's soul

and Voldemort as a loose soul, self-described as "Less than a ghost". Voldemort was not dead, but had no physical body (until he got better in book 4).

What happened to his body? Did it disappear? Or was it left in the rubble of the house, alongside the bodies of James and Lily?

  • 2
    @DVK that question doesn't address the question here, namely "what happened to the body?". The only mention of that is "his body was destroyed or at least killed," which explicitly avoids this question.
    – Kevin
    Commented Jan 10, 2013 at 14:54
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    The Dark Lord is not dead, he will rise again!
    – Obsidia
    Commented Jul 3, 2017 at 4:18
  • 4
    @Bellatrix: Um...he kinda did? Then got put down hard by a teenaged boy. And you got owned by a soccer mom. Sorry to be the bearer of bad news.
    – Jeff
    Commented Jul 3, 2017 at 14:42
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    @Jeff But look I'm still here! :P Mwahaha!
    – Obsidia
    Commented Jul 3, 2017 at 15:24
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    "due to Lily's sacrifice protecting Harry from Voldemort." is worth a spoiler? It happens right before the first chapter of the first book and half of the books's plot revolves around it. Commented Oct 21, 2017 at 19:12

6 Answers 6


The Body was destroyed or removed from the house, and never seen by the ministry.

In book 4 we find out the ministry presumes Voldemort in exile:

The four of you stand accused of capturing an Auror - Frank Longbottom - and subjecting him to the Cruciatus Curse, believing him to have knowledge of the present whereabouts of your exiled master, He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named

If either party had thought he was dead either the Longbottoms wouldn't have been tortured or that turn of phrase wouldn't have been used.

The only logical conclusion I can come to is that the body was destroyed, either when the house was also destroyed or by someone else shortly after his death.

  • 8
    There's also Hagrid’s words to Harry in the first book, in the hut in the sea (I think?), where he says something like, “Some say he died. Codswallop, if you ask me.” This supports the supposition that there was no body and no actual evidence that he'd died. Commented Apr 5, 2016 at 0:05
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    @JanusBahsJacquet Here is the full quote: ‘But what happened to Vol– sorry – I mean, You-Know-Who?’-‘Good question, Harry. Disappeared. Vanished. Same night he tried ter kill you. Makes yeh even more famous. That’s the biggest myst’ry, see ... he was gettin’ more an’ more powerful – why’d he go? ‘Some say he died. Codswallop, in my opinion. Dunno if he had enough human left in him to die. It obviously implies no body was found at least to public's knowledge.
    – Shana Tar
    Commented Oct 3, 2018 at 17:11

JKR never elaborated on what happened to the corpse, in the books, or any of the interviews based on my searches (admittedly, I didn't check Pottermore).

All we know was that the body was dead, and never mentioned again:

"...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)

There are plenty of fan theories, but none of them have canon confirmation.

The three most popular options are:

  • It was destroyed in the blast that destroyed Potters' home

  • It was found by the Ministry and somehow disposed of (circumstantial evidence of this option is that people celebrated Voldemort's death the next day - and they had to SOMEHOW have known that he was killed, eh? I doubt they would have simply announced his death on a random guess without seeing the body, and there were no living witnesses of the death aside from Harry Potter and in-hiding-assumed-dead-Peter-Pettigrew).

  • Wormtail took care of it (hidden, buried or vanished), at the same time he retrieved Voldemort's wand. (This one seems unlikely, as taking care of a body would require time he didn't have, especially if in a disguise of a rat).


I'm reasonably sure that this question is never explicitly answered either in the books or in the movies. I don't follow any of the JKR fan stuff, so it is possible that she may have said something somewhere - but that strikes me as unlikely.

So, it seems reasonable to guess that "backfire" would mean that Voldemort would have become the victim of his own spell - that his body would have died. All previous victims of Avada Kedavra left a body, so Voldemort's body would have fallen there in the Potter house. Most likely, the body would have been discovered by or turned over to someone from the Ministry of Magic. It would have probably been destroyed, cremated, or buried in an anonymous grave - whatever the MoM does with unclaimed bodies of known criminals.

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    No JKR references I'm aware of. May be Slytherincess knows Commented Mar 20, 2012 at 20:02
  • Even if they would do the cremation in secret, MoM would make sure at least key people of the magical community sees the body. Just think about Saddam Hussain's/Gaddafi's executions. Commented Aug 24, 2017 at 10:54

Dumbledore tells Harry in “The Deathly Hallows”, chapter 35, “King’s cross” that Voldemort left more than his body behind, when he tried to kill you. This implies that Voldemort’s body was left at the Potters’ house, as well as the piece of his soul that latched onto Harry.

An extract from chapter 35 of Deathly Hallows

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    Hi, welcome to SF&F. It is much preferred to actually include the text instead of a picture.
    – DavidW
    Commented Nov 2, 2019 at 1:43

The curse rebounded onto his physical body, and the body vaporized. Voldemort related at the graveyard that this was quite painful.

The body's sudden destruction provided the explosive force that destroyed that portion of the house.

(I know, it's a rather undersized explosion for something that size vaporizing, but, hey, magic.)

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    Do you have the quotes to edit in to back this up?
    – TheLethalCarrot
    Commented Oct 16, 2018 at 12:26

If Scabbers was the one to betray the Potters to Voldemort, and he was there (he did lose a finger), I believe there was a rather weak/loose explaination that he had spirited the body away in The Prisoner of Azkaban. It probably doesn't say, and is just a part that JKK forgot to explain better. But, conjectures nonwithstanding, I think that ratty looking guy (who's name was completely forgettable, evidently) was the culprit of that crime.

So how did rat guy even get to be in the possession of the Weasley's anyhow? Do we start picking up random rats to see if they're wizards?

  • There's no indication that Pettigrew was there, and he lost the finger in his confrontation with Black - he cut or gnawed it off himself so there's be evidence of his death. If you are curious about how Scabbers ended up in the Weasley's possession, why not ask a question?
    – Jeff
    Commented May 7, 2013 at 13:07

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