Harry Potter chose to come back from the dead because he was the master of death. But how could he be the master of death as he never had the Elder Wand?

If Harry could come back does that mean that Dumbledore could come back from the dead too? Why/why not?

After all, Dumbledore did have the three Deathly Hallows. He owned the Elder Wand and the Resurrection Stone and the Cloak of Invisibility. He passes the Cloak to Harry, but he still owned it: you can give something to someone but you are still the owner of it.

So when you die as the master of death you have a choice to come back. Dumbledore died as master of death but he never came back.

Does that means that Dumbledore did not choose to come back or that he cannot and the Deathly Hallows don't work like this?

  • 8
    Even if, as the answers below have debunked, this was the way the Hallows worked, Dumbledore never owned all three of them at the same time. The Resurrection Stone was never in his possession while he had the Invisibility Cloak. At best he had united two of the three at different times.
    – vynsane
    Jan 2, 2018 at 14:31
  • 1
    Dumbledore could also come back as ghost (Recall Prof. Binns), but he was a selfish man.
    – user931
    Jan 2, 2018 at 23:28

5 Answers 5


There are many fundamental errors in your question itself. I really suggest you go back and read the books because your understanding of both the Hallows and Harry's resurrection is wrong.

Firstly, Harry was the owner of Elder Wand having won it from Draco Malfoy when he escaped from Malfoy Manor. Draco became the owner of Elder wand when he disarmed Dumbledore at the end of Half-blood Prince. Both these points are explained in the book.

Next, Dumbledore never owned the invisibility cloak, it belonged to James Potter. Dumbledore merely borrowed it to examine suspecting that it was one of the Hallows. After the death of the Potters he simply kept it till the time Harry came to Hogwarts and then passed it to Harry during his first year telling him that the cloak had once belonged to his father.

And most important, Harry did not come back from the dead because he was able to unite the Hallows. He came back from the dead because when Voldemort cast the killing curse on Harry, he killed a part of his own soul which was living inside Harry (as Harry was the Horcrux which he never intended to make).

Even if a person can unite all the Hallows I don't think they gain the ability to come back from the dead. As it is explained in the books, Hallows were just very powerful magical objects created by Wizards and the whole lore about possessor of Hallows being "Master of Death" was just a fairytale which was based on these powerful magical objects.

“So it’s true?” asked Harry. “All of it? The Peverell brothers—”

“—were the three brothers of the tale,” said Dumbledore, nodding. “Oh yes, I think so. Whether they met Death on a lonely road . . . I think it more likely that the Peverell brothers were simply gifted, dangerous wizards who succeeded in creating those powerful objects. The story of them being Death’s own Hallows seems to me the sort of legend that might have sprung up around such creations.

“You. You have guessed, I know, why the Cloak was in my possession on the night your parents died. James had showed it to me just a few days previously. It explained so much of his undetected wrong-doing at school! I could hardly believe what I was seeing. I asked to borrow it, to examine it.”

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Ch 35: King's Cross

The reason why Harry didn't die was also explained by Dumbledore. The reason for it wasn't the Hallows, even though Harry was the owner of all three Hallows by the time he went to the forest to face Voldemort.

“But you’re dead.” said Harry.

“Oh yes,” said Dumbledore matter-of-factly.

“Then . . . I’m dead too?”

“Ah,” said Dumbledore, smiling still more broadly. “That is the question, isn’t it? On the whole, dear boy, I think not.”

“But . . . ” Harry raised his hand instinctively towards the lightning scar. It did not seem to be there. “But I should have died—I didn’t defend myself! I meant to let him kill me!”

“And that,” said Dumbledore, “will, I think, have made all the difference.”

“I let him kill me,” said Harry. “Didn’t I?”

“You did,” said Dumbledore, nodding. “Go on!”

“So the part of his soul that was in me . . . ”

Dumbledore nodded still more enthusiastically, urging Harry onward, a broad smile of encouragement on his face.

“. . . has it gone?”

“Oh yes!” said Dumbledore. “Yes, he destroyed it. Your soul is whole, and completely your own, Harry.”

“But if Voldemort used the Killing Curse,” Harry started again “and nobody died for me this time—how can I be alive?”

“I think you know,” said Dumbledore. “Think back. Remember what he did, in his ignorance, in his greed and his cruelty.”

“He took my blood.” said Harry.

“Precisely!” said Dumbledore. “He took your blood and rebuilt his living body with it! Your blood in his veins, Harry, Lily’s protection inside both of you! He tethered you to life while he lives!”

“I live . . . while he lives! But I thought . . . I thought it was the other way round! I thought we both had to die? Or is it the same thing?”

“You were the seventh Horcrux, Harry, the Horcrux he never meant to make. He had rendered his soul so unstable that it broke apart when he committed those acts of unspeakable evil, the murder of your parents, the at- tempted killing of a child. But what escaped from that room was even less than he knew. He left more than his body behind. He left part of himself latched to you, the would-be victim who had survived.

“He took your blood believing it would strengthen him. He took into his body a tiny part of the enchantment your mother laid upon you when she died for you. His body keeps her sacrifice alive, and while that enchantment survives, so do you and so does Voldemort’s one last hope for himself.”

“Without meaning to, as you now know, Lord Voldemort doubled the bond between you when he returned to a human form. A part of his soul was still attached to yours, and, thinking to strengthen himself, he took a part of your mother’s sacrifice into himself.”

Harry sat in thought for a long time, or perhaps seconds. It was very hard to be sure of things like time, here.

“He killed me with your wand.”

“He failed to kill you with my wand,” Dumbledore corrected Harry. “I think we can agree you are not dead.

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Ch 35: King's Cross

  • But about Dumbledore having the cloak to do whatever he want to do, Why he wanted it if he can become invisible without an invisiblity cloak? Jan 2, 2018 at 8:48
  • 5
    @MohammedAlhanafi That is also mentioned in the book. He wanted the clock only to examine it since he suspected it was a Hallow. I will edit my answer to include quote from the book.
    – dobby
    Jan 2, 2018 at 8:50
  • 24
    @MohammedAlhanafi That's not the point at all. Dumbledore never wanted to be possessor of Hallows to be invincible or defeat death, not even when he was 17 and dreamed about Hallows with Grindelwald. He was perfectly okay with dying and had even planned it a year before his death along with Snape.
    – dobby
    Jan 2, 2018 at 9:10
  • 13
    @MohammedAlhanafi ok. I got your question. But being the most powerful wizard does not mean you know everything. Wandlore is a branch of magic which needs to be studied, not everyone knows about it. Even Voldemort who was most powerful dark wizard of his time knew nothing about wand making as it is very clear from the last book.
    – dobby
    Jan 2, 2018 at 9:30
  • 3
    This answer is mostly right, but I'd argue misses the main point: Harry's not dead. Dumbledore is. No one comes back from the dead in HP. Thus all the effort to avoid death in the first place. Jan 3, 2018 at 16:59

he passes the cloak to harry but he still own it

No, Dumbledore never owned it. Harry's father owned it, and and passed it along with everything else to Harry. Dumbledore was simply in possession of it because he had borrowed it before Harry's parents were killed.

I don't have the exact quote, but in another part of the book Dumbledore mentioned that the cloak would never have worked as well for Dumbledore as it did for Harry/James, because the cloak belonged to Potters.

he is the master of death but he is never have the elder wand.

He wasn't in direct possession of it, but via some convoluted stuff Harry was the 'owner/master' of the wand since Draco defeated Dumbledore, and Harry defeated Draco.

There is also the bit in the Platform 9 3/4 where Dumbledore mentioned that a big part of Harry's ability to not die from the curse was related to Harry's willingness to sacrifice himself for others. Harry chose to walk out to the forest, knowing that he would probably be killed. Dumbledore was never in a position where he owned all three items at the same time and had that choice to make.

  • 1
    Dumbledore was the owner of the Elder Wand, from the time he defeated Grindelwald and won its ownership till Half-Blood Prince when he was disarmed by Draco. Its not like he was never in direct possession of it.
    – dobby
    Jan 2, 2018 at 8:49
  • 2
    @dobby In "He wasn't in direct possession of it", "he" refers to Harry, not Dumbledore. At the time when Harry "conquered the death" and returned from limbo, Harry haven't had hold Elder Wand for one second of his life. He started possessing physical object only after last duel with Voldemort. Jan 2, 2018 at 13:09
  • 2
    @MirosławZalewski Draco became the owner of the wand when he disarmed Dumbledore at the end of Half-Blood Prince. Then the wand was buried with Dumbledore but Draco remained its true owner since nobody won the wand from Draco. Draco went about using his old wand but he was the true owner of Elder wand. Then Harry won that wand from Draco when he escaped from Malfoy Manor and took Draco's wand. That's why he was the owner even before actually possessing the wand. That's why the wand never properly worked for Voldemort.
    – dobby
    Jan 2, 2018 at 13:28
  • 5
    And in addition to never owning all three parts of the Deathly Hallows... Dumbledore was also never a horricrux. Those points are the... crux... of the story.
    – WernerCD
    Jan 2, 2018 at 13:50

Dumbledore was never the master of death.

At the time he was in possession of the Elder Wand and the Resurrection Stone, Harry was in possession of the Cloak of Invisibility.

Harry was not the master of death when he 'died', as he did not possess the Elder Wand. There is no concrete answer as to why Harry survived. Most theories center around either the Horcrux inside Harry being killed instead of him, or Harry having the allegiance of the Elder Wand when it struck him down.

  • 1
    The reason Harry doesn't die is clearly explained by Dumbledore. It was because Voldemort used Harry's blood to build his body and he made sure while he lives Harry will too. So when Voldemort caste the killing curse he ended up killing the part of his soul which was inside Harry. And when Harry "Died" he was already the owner of Elder wand. I have added the quote from the book in my answer.
    – dobby
    Jan 3, 2018 at 7:25

Dumbledore was dead. Harry wasn't. That's established by the text itself:

“But you’re dead.” said Harry. “Oh yes,” said Dumbledore matter-of-factly. “Then . . . I’m dead too?” “Ah,” said Dumbledore, smiling still more broadly. “That is the question, isn’t it? On the whole, dear boy, I think not.”

Harry came back from "King's Cross", not the dead. Dumbledore, who was, in fact, dead could not return from "King's Cross" because he was only present in Harry's mind's version of King's Cross.

The book is also clear that it's all going on in Harry's head.

Of course it is happening inside your head, Harry, but why on earth should that mean that it is not real?

Like so many other times in the books Dumbledore was clever and made very well educated guesses. He was pretty sure that Harry was a horcrux that would have to be destroyed. He also knew Harry would chose death over allowing his friends to be hurt. When he said that the experience was "real" but still all in his head I always assumed he meant that Dumbledore was present in some real, but magical way.

He was after all the most powerful wizard in the world and spells can behave and converse like real humans (see Tom Riddle's horcrux/memory in CoS, the portraits around Hogwarts, howlers etc.). While 100% theoretical I see two possibilities:

  1. It's not at all unreasonable to guess that he cast a spell to cause Harry's experience 'upon destruction'.
  2. Memories are powerful in real life and especially in the HP series. Memories of the most powerful wizard in the world occurring during a near-death experience where your soul/body is being separated from the second-most-powerful wizard the world might have side effects like we see in the book.

Basically: Dumbledore can't come back because he's present, but not really there.


Even if Dumbledore would be able to come back, he wouldn't. This is one of the primary points of the books.

Although I agree with the other answers that the questioner seems to have misunderstood the Hallows, I want to point out that even if Dumbledore would have been able to come back, he wouldn't.

The primary theme of Harry Potter is about overcoming the fear of death:

Death is an extremely important theme throughout all seven books. I would say possibly the most important theme. (Accio-quote)

Voldemort's main personality trait, and the one that defines him the most, is his fear of death.

Voldemort's fear is death, ignominious death. I mean, he regards death itself as ignominious. He thinks that it's a shameful human weakness, as you know. His worst fear is death, but how would a boggart show that? I'm not too sure. I did think about that because I knew you were going to ask me that.

“There is nothing worse than death, Dumbledore!” snarled Voldemort.

This is also his greatest weakness:

“Your failure to understand that there are things much worse than death has always been your greatest weakness—”

In fact all the bad guys primary traits seem to be based on fear of death

Death Eaters


Only innocent lives, Peter!” “You don’t understand!” whined Pettigrew. “He would have killed me, Sirius!”

However, the defining characteristic of the good guys is their willingness to embrace death. This is evident from the first book:

"To one as young as you, I'm sure it seems incredible, but to Nicolas and Perenelle, it really is like going to bed after a very, very long day. After all, to the well-organized mind, death is but the next great adventure. You know, the Stone was really not such a wonderful thing. As much money and life as you could want! The two things most human beings would choose above all -- the trouble is, humans do have a knack of choosing precisely those things that are worst for them."

This is expressed in many other places in the books as well, but here's one of my favorite quotes:


And Snape becomes good only when he seems to embrace death:

“DON’T!” bellowed Snape. “Gone . . . dead . . .” “Is this remorse, Severus?” “I wish . . . I wish I were dead. . . .”

Dumbledore, although never clearly seeming to have fear of death, definitely viewed himself as selfish and wanted to overcome death, and believes that his selfishness may caused him caused him to avoid sacrificing himself to Ariana (in his view):

“I know how you are feeling, Harry,” said Dumbledore very quietly.

That in my mind, is one of the most important overlooked quotes in the book (and one that will be of utmost importance in the Fantastic Beasts movies.) That quote comes right after Harry blames himself for Sirius's death:

It was his fault Sirius had died; it was all his fault.

This means that, Like Harry, Dumbledore as well blamed himself for someone's death, and in the later books, we find out it was Arianna.

“Don’t hurt them, don’t hurt them, please, please, it’s my fault, hurt me instead . . .”

“He thought he was back there with you and Grindelwald, I know he did,” said Harry, remembering Dumbledore whimpering, pleading. “He thought he was watching Grindelwald hurting you and Ariana. . . . It was torture to him, if you’d seen him then, you wouldn’t say he was free.”

All those closest to Albus — and I count myself one of that lucky number — agree that Ariana’s death, and Albus’s feeling of personal responsibility for it (though, of course, he was guiltless), left their mark upon him forevermore.

And we know we why he felt guilty - because he ignored his sister while he tried to overcome death:

“And at the heart of our schemes, the Deathly Hallows! How they fascinated him, how they fascinated both of us! The unbeatable wand, the weapon that would lead us to power! The Resurrection Stone — to him, though I pretended not to know it, it meant an army of Inferi! To me, I confess, it meant the return of my parents, and the lifting of all responsibility from my shoulders. “And the Cloak . . . somehow, we never discussed the Cloak much, Harry. Both of us could conceal ourselves well enough without the Cloak, the true magic of which, of course, is that it can be used to protect and shield others as well as its owner. I thought that, if we ever found it, it might be useful in hiding Ariana, but our interest in the Cloak was mainly that it completed the trio, for the legend said that the man who united all three objects would then be truly master of death, which we took to mean ‘invincible.’ “Invincible masters of death, Grindelwald and Dumbledore! Two months of insanity, of cruel dreams, and neglect of the only two members of my family left to me. “And then . . . you know what happened. Reality returned in the form of my rough, unlettered, and infinitely more admirable brother. I did not want to hear the truths he shouted at me. I did not want to hear that I could not set forth to seek Hallows with a fragile and unstable sister in tow. “The argument became a fight. Grindelwald lost control. That which I had always sensed in him, though I pretended not to, now sprang into terrible being. And Ariana . . . after all my mother’s care and caution . . . lay dead upon the floor.”

Harry on the other hand, is always portrayed as selfless:

“Do not misunderstand me,” he said, and pain crossed the face so that he looked ancient again. “I loved them. I loved my parents, I loved my brother and my sister, but I was selfish, Harry, more selfish than you, who are a remarkably selfless person, could possibly imagine.

Thus, only Harry, who is selfless and pure and has zero fear of death, was able to choose selflessly to live.

But Dumbledore, even if his possession of the Hallows allowed him to choose life, would not have, because he knew inherently that his choice would include some selfishness and desire to live, and thus was not purely selfless. He would have feared making this choice, as he knew himself to be undeserving. Thus he went to the opposite extreme and chose death - by his own hand - through a hallow, to overcome his selfishness.

This is also implied in the tale of Beatle the Bard, that only the brother who made the selfless choice (the cloak) was allowed to survie death, or more so, embrace him like a brother.

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