At the end of the movie Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part 2:

Voldemort and Harry had their final face off. When Harry won, Voldemort disintegrated.

Why did this happen?

Note that I'm looking for answers consistent with the movies. Information from the books that explain what happened while remaining consistent with the movies is acceptable.

  • 3
    No. Voldemort died because all his horcruxes were gone and he had Avada Kedavra cast on him.
    – user57650
    Jan 28, 2017 at 1:13
  • 1
    @EᴀsᴛᴇʀʟʏIʀᴋ: Yes, all the horcruxes are gone. However, in the movie (which I specified in the q), no spells are cast in the final face off, it's a duel.
    – GreenMatt
    Jan 28, 2017 at 1:46
  • 4
    They get ground up to make Bertie Bott's Every Flavour Beans™
    – Valorum
    Jan 29, 2017 at 0:49
  • 2
    In general, use the movie tag to specify that you aren't looking for the book version. It may also help to add a line saying that you are aware of the books version of the event, bit are seeking for a movie explanation.
    – ibid
    Jan 29, 2017 at 0:56
  • 9
    @GreenMatt - you keep using that word. I don't think it means what you think it means. "Duel" is just a magical fight using spells. What you SEEM to be asking about is "something where 2 wands shoot lazer beams at each other and connect and hold that" - which is still a spell, they just basically did a cool visual for a movie. Jan 29, 2017 at 1:20

5 Answers 5


The old answer based on the books can be found further down. But as GreenMat insists on an answer from the movies I have to say: There is NO logical explanation in the movies for what happens to Voldemort. Neither does the disintegration happen in any other instance of a duel nor is there any spell in the movies that can cause something like this.

The closest thing to the disintegration we get is the effect on Quirrell when touching Harry in the first movie, where something very similar happens.

So a movie- explanation MIGHT be, that it is the protection from his mother that lets the bad guys disintegrate. But still this is inconsistent with the fourth movie, where Voldemort -after getting his new body- can touch Harry without disintegrating.

As you can see in 4th, 5th 6th and 7th movie: whenever Voldemort tries to kill Harry he uses the unforgivable curse number one Avada Kedavra.

It always looks the same (green flash) as the spell in the last duel. And Harry always uses Expelliarmus, the red beam, especially in the duel in the fourth movie at the graveyard.

We also see in the movies that Voldemort is able to do magic without actually saying the words (e.g. when he forces Harry to bow by just pointing his wand at him.

These two facts let us assume, that it was Avada Kedavra again -this time unspoken- in the last duel.

WHY the bounced back spell lets Voldemort disintegrate while normally it "just kills" is not explained but could be made to refer to Quirrell in the first movie.

Answer from the book:

The movies are quite inaccurate in a lot of ways, and this is one of them.

In the books there is no difference between casting a spell and duelling. In the 6th book we learn, that experienced wizards can cast spells by just "thinking" them without speaking them out loud. They learn the "unspoken spells" at school.

It is said in the books that casting a spell without saying it loud gives you an advantage especially in duels, as your opponent cannot prepare for the spell as he doesn't hear it.

In the final duel in the book none of the two uses an unspoken spell: Harry casts his favorite spell "Expelliarmus" while Voldemort uses -guess- "Avada Kedavra". As Harry wins Voldemort's spell bounces back to him and kills him (this is NOT normal in a duel but due to the fact of the Elder Wand's true allegiance).

And no, he does NOT disintegrate, this is made for the effect of it only in the movie.

To answer your question: the loser just experiences the spell the winner cast. Of course a Death Eater might kill the loser with another spell after winning, but that is not part of the duel.

  • 7
    +1 just for the first line ... and the rest of the answer, of course ;-) It's not always expressed so politely.
    – Rand al'Thor
    Jan 28, 2017 at 2:02
  • 1
    Responding by saying the movies are "inaccurate" and then providing an explanation from the books isn't an answer to a question that is specifically about the movies. An answer using information from the books could be acceptable if it explains something that happened in the movies without an explanation and didn't contradict what happened in the movies. However, that isn't what was done here.
    – GreenMatt
    Jan 28, 2017 at 10:35
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    @GreenMatt: I totally disagree. The answer has explained it all. If you asked the question just to know why did this happen in the movies, then the answer is specifically obvious, beacuse most of the movies are nonsense. This site is used for asking canon information which Torsten Link explained very well. We used books here for canon answering.
    – Invoker
    Jan 28, 2017 at 12:51
  • 2
    @BookStriker - If you feel that question is off-topic you can downvote or flag it. (When you get enough rep you can vote to close it.) However, this answer doesn't answer the question that was asked.
    – ibid
    Jan 29, 2017 at 0:50
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    @BookStriker: The question specifically asked about the movie from the beginning.
    – GreenMatt
    Jan 29, 2017 at 12:38

The body he re-built was flawed

The spell used to bring him back:

Bone of the father, unknowingly given, you will renew your son! Flesh of the servant, willingly sacrificed, you will revive your master. Blood of the enemy, forcibly taken, you will resurrect your foe.

While he rebuilt body with the spell, his soul was already broken, several times.

You could interpret the soul as the glue that holds a persons body together, and that once Harry and co destroyed the horcruxes, Voldemorts's body couldn't hold itself together, and so he disintegrates.

Voldemort had already cast one major killing curse (in the forest), which knocked him off his feet. Trying another + no more horcruxes was too much for him.

  • Letting you know the question has be re-worked, in case you want to re-word your answer.
    – GreenMatt
    Jan 30, 2017 at 2:20
  • 1
    Thanks for an answer that works within the context.
    – GreenMatt
    Jan 30, 2017 at 2:21
  • 5
    While this is perfectly fine as an explanation, do you have anything in canon to back this up?
    – Adamant
    Jan 30, 2017 at 7:47
  • 1
    @Adamant I will take a look and put in what I can find
    – Longshanks
    Jan 30, 2017 at 8:27
  • 1
    If splitting one's soul would be a solid process, then there wouldn't be possible unstable side effects. In addition it's not like Voldermort looked very human, another indication of being something other or incomplete. I think this answer makes a great deal of sense. Oct 31, 2018 at 14:44

That scene in the movie makes no sense. It is just an added features and effects the movie, which didn't happen in the book.

Similar to what Torsten Link has answered above which was explained very well: the synopsis that happened in that part of the 8th movie is just a false information, Voldemort just died, but it is the book which where these movies came from, and the book is considered canon since it has every info you need to know and this was the official scenario of J.K's harry potter series.

In the book, they didn't fly in black smoke, which was performed by Voldemort. And before the last duel of Harry and Voldemort started, they still managed to exchange discussions including the true loyalty of Snape and the Elder Wand.

But this is just a recap of what I have read in the book 7. But then, you asked what happens to someone who loses a duel in the movie. And you cited an example of why did Voldemort disintegrate in the 8th movie. In the book, Voldemort was killed by his own spell.

As for what happens to someone who loses a duel, they lost, or sometimes die if and only AK spell hit him/her or something dangerous spell hit him/her. (NOTE: I am not generalizing each and every scenarios that when someone was hit by a dangerous spell it kills him/her) As for what is the reason why did that happen in the movie, because that scene in the movie makes no sense at all.

  • 2
    5 paragraphs to say "... that scene in the movie makes no sense at all."? Which doesn't answer the question anyway
    – GreenMatt
    Jan 29, 2017 at 14:35
  • @GreenMatt: I explained my answer because you think that spellcasting with incantation with a mix of fight and dueling are not the same, the commenters above also reminded you that you keep insisting that they are different so I explained it for you. You asked why did this happen in the movie, because it makes no sense. Doesn't that answer your question if you don't favor the answer of Torsten Link? Maybe you want to take a look at this. scifi.stackexchange.com/search?q=%22the+films+are+nonsense%22
    – Invoker
    Jan 29, 2017 at 21:04
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    The reason why Voldemort disintegrated is because that is just another special effects for the movie. You keep insisting that it is because he lost the duel, when in reality, the books are where they get every single information in the movie.
    – Invoker
    Jan 29, 2017 at 21:08
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    @GreenMatt You ask why Voldemort disintegrates; “there is no adequate explanation for why Voldemort disintegrates” is an answer to the question. It also happens to be the only correct answer to the question. Just like there's nothing to explain why Molly’s curse doesn't kill Bellatrix so much as shatter her like a pane of glass. Jan 30, 2017 at 9:28
  • 1
    @GreenMatt since you asked why did this happen, the reason I said it makes no sense because *the movie is not a very canonized information rather than the books which are officially written by J.K. Rowling. If you will just keep on insisting this part of the movie happened for a reason, then no doubt no answer will testify any proof of why did this happen in a not canonized movie.
    – Invoker
    Jan 31, 2017 at 7:24

Possibly it was a reaction caused by the Dark magic he used.

Though why exactly the Dark Lord exploded as he did in the movie isn’t explained in the movie itself, a similar thing happens to Gormlaith Gaunt, and in her case it was caused by the Dark magic she’d used reacted with the Pukwudgie venom on the arrow she was shot with.

The old witch had indulged in all manner of Dark magic in an attempt to make herself invincible, and these curses now reacted with the Pukwudgie’s venom, causing her to become as solid and as brittle as coal before shattering into a thousand pieces. The Ollivander wand fell to the ground and burst: all that was left of Gormlaith Gaunt was a pile of smoking dust, a broken stick and a charred dragon heartstring.
- Ilvermorny School of Witchcraft and Wizardry (Pottermore)

This is a known case of a Dark wizard disintegrating upon death. The circumstances are a bit different, since the Dark Lord is killed by a rebounding Killing Curse, not Pukwudgie venom, but Gormlaith’s death seems very similar to how the Dark Lord died in the movie. The Dark Lord also had used a lot of Dark magic to make himself more powerful, including the potion that restored him to a body. He’d used much more Dark magic than most Dark wizards ever had, so it’s entirely possible that a Killing Curse hitting him could cause a different reaction than it normally would.


An in-universe explanation is that while the AKC ordinarily leaves no trace of operation on its victim, other than their addition to the Chicago voting rolls, the same curse when rebounded against its caster can have a very different effect. In the books, Voldemort's body exploded at the first attempt to kill Harry.

  • In the first book, the effects are different because Voldermort has already split his soul, and therefore cannot be killed. His body is destroyed, but because of the soul splitting he cannot be killed. As the AKC has never been stopped or blocked before that point, it may have ordinarily just killed him
    – gabe3886
    Feb 15, 2017 at 13:24
  • No need for the political commentary.
    – GreenMatt
    Feb 15, 2017 at 14:24

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