Dumbledore is described as the only one whom Voldemort feared. Did he kill any Death Eaters, or anyone else for that matter?

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    I feel like inspiring fear by killing people is more along the lines of Voldemort than Dumbledore. – Misha R Apr 29 '18 at 3:41
  • Voldemort is hundreds of thousands of years old. Odds are that in all that time he would have killed someone by accident, so the answer is "probably, yes." – Darth Egregious Apr 30 '18 at 15:16
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    @DarthEgregious Voldermort is younger than Dumbledore who is said to be between 100 and 200 years And the question is about Dumbledore not Voldemort – AidanO Apr 30 '18 at 15:37
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    @DarthEgregious Where are you getting this? – Misha R Apr 30 '18 at 16:04
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    @Pryftan, sure, the mix up of the two characters, was probably just a mix up. I probably wouldn't have responded except for the "hundreds of thousands of years old" part. Neither of them are any where near that age. – AidanO May 1 '18 at 10:30

We don't know for sure.

There's never any confirmed canonical instances of Dumbledore killing anyone, nor any confirmation in canon that he never did. However, there are various pieces of evidence supporting each side.

Evidence for YES

  • The following exchange between Dumbledore and Harry (emphasis mine) suggests that Dumbledore might have killed, presumably Death Eaters, in the past.

    "Of course you were," said Harry. "Of course - how can you ask that? You never killed if you could avoid it!"

    "True, true," said Dumbledore, and he was like a child seeking reassurance.

    -- HP and the Deathly Hallows, Chapter 35: "King's Cross"

    See also TheDarkLord's nice and exhaustive answer to the related question According to canon, did Dumbledore ever use an Unforgivable curse? (where I came across this quote).

  • When Snape comes to Dumbledore in the meeting that leads to him changing sides, he begs Dumbledore "don't kill me". See also Why would Dumbledore have killed Snape, and where was the light coming from? ... however, this doesn't necessarily reflect Dumbledore's natural reaction more than what Death Eater Snape thought he might do. As I said over there:

    If the situations had been reversed - if Voldemort had met a lower-ranking member of the Order of the Phoenix - the outcome would most probably have involved the words "Avada" and "Kedavra" coming from Voldemort's lips. Of course Dumbledore would have been less quick to jump to the killing option, but it's questionable whether Snape would have understood this: hanging out with Death Eaters for so long, he might have forgotten how decent people behave.

Evidence for NO

  • Dumbledore didn't kill Grindelwald. Regardless of his personal feelings towards his enemy which might have prevented him from wanting to kill him, the fact remains that he was able to disarm and defeat this incredibly powerful wizard without killing him. If he could do that to Grindelwald, he could probably also do it to all the Death Eaters he encountered. Perhaps he never needed to kill anyone, but could instead defeat them without taking their lives. And as Harry said in the quote above, he wouldn't have killed without need.

  • In the few cases we know about in detail where Dumbledore has gone toe-to-toe with Death Eaters or even Voldemort himself (in particular, the battle in the Department of Mysteries), there were no confirmed deaths of bad guys. Dumbledore and the Order were able to defeat quite a number of Death Eaters without killing them.

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    I would also like to add though that that was just a way for Harry to say that he never intended to or wanted to kill anyone; the fact Dumbledore confirms that doesn't at all suggest he did kill anyone. We must remember too that Harry didn't even know Dumbledore's long history did he? So he could have been - and arguably he was - saying it simply because he respected the man greatly. That to me means there isn't any implication whatever that Harry thought or would believe that Dumbledore had killed someone. – Pryftan Apr 29 '18 at 22:30
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    Additionally, one thing that is for certain is that he was 1/7th responsible for killing Voldemort, if destroying a portion of another's soul is equivalent to killing. – David Scarlett Apr 30 '18 at 6:44
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    There's also evidence for "Don't know", in Ariana. – Reinstate Monica Apr 30 '18 at 11:29
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    I would take the bolded statement in your first quote to be fairly strong evidence that he had killed, but did so only out of the absolute necessity of self-preservation. However, as you mention, there's no absolute proof that this is the case. – FreeMan Apr 30 '18 at 14:25
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    @FreeMan Out of context I'd agree with your interpretation of that quote. But since it comes from Harry, from whose PoV we've seen most of the story, and we don't know of Dumbledore killing anyone ... well, see Pryftan's comment above. It's more a statement of "don't worry, Headmaster, you're a good guy" than a rigorously pedantic statement of truth. – Rand al'Thor Apr 30 '18 at 16:33

It doesn’t seem likely he ever killed, not after Ariana’s death.

After Dumbledore thought he killed his sister, he tried very hard to stay on the “right” side of things, choosing to teach instead, and rarely involved himself in actual combat. He worked against the Dark Lord, but not directly in battle normally.

When we do see him in combat, he never seems to aim to kill or seriously injure. He didn’t kill Grindelwald, of course, but that in itself doesn’t prove he’d never kill anyone - Grindelwald was his old friend (and crush according to a JKR interview) so he might feel more sympathetic towards him. However, at the Department of Mysteries, he doesn’t try to kill Bellatrix, he traps her under a statue instead, and he doesn’t seriously injure her either.

“Voldemort raised his wand and another jet of green light streaked at Dumbledore, who turned and was gone in a whirling of his cloak. Next second, he had reappeared behind Voldemort and waved his wand towards the remnants of the fountain. The other statues sprang to life. The statue of the witch ran at Bellatrix, who screamed and sent spells streaming uselessly off its chest, before it dived at her, pinning her to the floor.”
- Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, Chapter 36 (The Only One He Ever Feared)

She was certainly a dangerous Death Eater, and Dumbledore didn’t have any special attachment to her like he did with Grindelwald, so if he was willing to kill Death Eaters, she’d be a likely candidate. She was both powerful and extremely loyal - she’d be one of the Death Eaters who’s most lethal and least likely to change sides. He could have done more harm or killed her if he’d wanted to, but he didn’t. (He also doesn’t try to kill the Dark Lord but that’s most likely because he knew of the Horcruxes).

Since he didn’t kill her, I highly doubt he’d be willing to kill other Death Eaters, who were most likely less powerful than her and easier to take down nonlethally. It’s hard to imagine after him not killing her or really hurting her that any situation where he’d be willing to kill.

He may have accidentally killed Ariana, but it’s unclear.

Dumbledore blamed himself for his sister’s death, but it’s unclear who actually cast the spell that did it (and Fantastic Beasts may reveal a different reason for her death). He certainly blamed himself for it, though. He considered himself to blame for the circumstances of her death, and didn’t know who killed her but was terrified he might find out that it was him. Pottermore suggests it was likely Grindelwald, though - absolving Dumbledore from being the one who actually killed her.

The only thing that somewhat implies Dumbledore might have killed at some point seems to be more a matter of phrasing than an actual implication that Dumbledore killed intentionally at any point.

“Was I better, ultimately, than Voldemort?’

‘Of course you were,’ said Harry. ‘Of course – how can you ask that? You never killed if you could avoid it!’

‘True, true,’ said Dumbledore, and he was like a child seeking reassurance.”
- Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Chapter 35 (King’s Cross)

Harry is the one who chooses the phrasing “you never killed if you can avoid it”, to contrast Dumbledore with the Dark Lord, who was certainly willing to kill those who opposed him. It’s true that Harry didn’t say “you never killed”, but wouldn’t have known all of what Dumbledore did, so he couldn’t make a statement like “you never killed” with certainty - he wouldn’t have needed to know of someone Dumbledore killed to choose that phrasing. Once Harry said it, Dumbledore wouldn’t have told Harry that he never killed at all, since he felt responsible for his sister’s death, so he wouldn’t have considered a statement that he never killed to be accurate.

  • Good answer Miss Bella! But I would add that at least when I read the words did someone kill anyone I think of murder; and to me a three-way duel that ends in the death of someone doesn't equate to murder. He certainly was full of grief, blamed himself for the rest of his life, desperately regretted it and wanted to see his family in full. And it must be remembered that he got into the duel to protect Aberforth. So the question is: did any of the three actually intend to kill Ariana? I don't really believe they did intend to - but someone did unfortunately. – Pryftan Apr 29 '18 at 22:28
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    @Pryftan Thanks a lot! :) I don’t think Ariana was really “murdered” either. The only one who’d possibly consider killing her intentionally is Grindelwald, and there didn’t seem to be any reason he would either. It certainly did affect Dumbledore - it led to his unwillingness to take power and is likely why he avoided “questionable” actions later on. It also turned him off ideology like that of Grindelwald quite fully. I’d describe Ariana’s death as an accident, whoever’s spell it was, but I thought it was important to mention since Dumbledore felt like he’d killed someone. – Bellatrix Apr 29 '18 at 22:41
  • He certainly did feel guilty yes. Perhaps even if he wasn't part of the duel he'd feel that way because he saw what Grindelwald was but turned a blind eye out of love (as he admits in Deathly Hallows). Easy enough to do. And he definitely turned away from power refusing the position of MoM more than once. Which goes to show just how terrified of reality and frankly out of his mind Fudge was when he actually believed Dumbledore wanted his position as Minister. And although he wasn't Dolores his passiveness (in that he didn't do anything about Voldemort) caused a lot of suffering... – Pryftan Apr 30 '18 at 22:59

Dumbledore might have accidentally killed Ariana

Dumbledore, Grindelwald and Aberforth got into a three-way duel. Ariana was hit by a stray curse, that killed her.

"It was the truth I feared. You see, I never knew which of us, in that last, horrific fight, had actually cast the curse that killed my sister. You may call me cowardly: You would be right, Harry. I dreaded beyond all things the knowledge that it had been I who brought about her death, not merely through my arrogance and stupidity, but that I actually struck the blow that snuffed out her life" -Albus Dumbledore,book 7(Deathly Hallows)

This is corroborated by his brother Aberforth, as well..

" - and I think she wanted to help, but she didn't really know what she was doing, and I don't know which of us did it, it could have been any of us - and she was dead" -Aberforth Dumbledore,book 7(Deathly Hallows)

That being said, Dumbledore hasn't killed anyone intentionally. He didn't kill Grindelwald who was the other likely candidate to have killed Ariana;he only imprisoned him. Even after Sirius' death during the battle at the Ministry, Dumbledore never killed the captured Death Eaters. He trapped them in Anti-Apparation wards, and allowed them to live.

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    This is possible, but Pottermore implies that the true killer was most likely Grindelwald. See this answer on who killed Ariana. – Rand al'Thor Apr 28 '18 at 17:18
  • @Randal'Thor - Why would an article written by the Pottermore Team have any relevance? Those articles are frequently filled with inaccuracies and all evidence shows that the writers don't have any direct contact with JK Rowling. (The one you quote from over there isn't one of the few authored by Rowling.) – ibid Apr 30 '18 at 3:23
  • @ibid To be fair there is the quote: Quite who cast the spell that killed Ariana is unclear, although when Harry meets Albus Dumbledore in King’s Cross after he is nearly killed during the Battle of Hogwarts, the old Headmaster strongly hints that it was Grindelwald who shot the mortal curse. And since Dumbledore was the one who finally confronted him if Dumbledore believes it it's the best we have to consider. Perhaps it could be reworded to say that Dumbledore implies it was most likely Grindelwald and Pottermore references this fact? – Pryftan Apr 30 '18 at 23:02
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    @Pryftan - If it is indeed directly implied in the books than the source is the books themselves. Pottermore (with the exception of the handful of JKR writings hosted there) is a secondary source, and quoting them makes as much sense as quoting an HP wiki editor. – ibid Apr 30 '18 at 23:08
  • @ibid Yes but the point is the statement made by Rand isn't all that wrong here. But even so you're right in that Pm can be a hit or miss with things. Then again one could say that only the things that Rowling confirms 100% (whether taken to the extreme of everything she wrote in the books or just the ambiguous/vague things depends on whom you ask). But it could become ridiculous. – Pryftan Apr 30 '18 at 23:52

Not after he defeated Grindelwald at least

In Limbo Dumbledore said:

I was fit only to possess the meanest of them, the least extraordinary. I was fit to own the Elder Wand, and not to boast of it, and not to kill with it. I was permitted to tame and to use it, because I took it, not for gain, but to save others from it

Meaning he presumably never killed since he's got the Elder Wand.

Probably he has not killed before that either

We do not know for sure, but the most probable situation we can imagine for him to kill would be the war with Grindelwald. And he didn't even killed Grindelwald - the most dangerous of all. More than that - during the war (that was held outside Britain) Dumbledore was evading any participation.

Years passed. There were rumors about him [Grindelwald]. They said he has procured a wand of immense power. I, meanwhile, was offered the post of Minister of Magic... But while I busied myself with the training of young wizards, Grindelwald was rising an army. They say he feared me, and perhaps he did, but less, I think, than I feared him... I delayed meeting him until finally it would have been too shameful to resist any longer. People were dying and he seemed unstoppable, and I had to do what I could. Well, you know what happened next. I won the duel.

So Dumbledore did not participate in that war the way he did in the war with Voldemort and his Death Eaters. Thus he probably didn't happen to kill anyone in that war either.

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