This always struck me as odd in the Deathly Hallows. Yes, Voldemort was wrong in the end thinking that one becomes the master by killing the previous owner. But even acting according to his own theory, he seems to be rather illogical and inconsistent.

This all boils down to his decision to kill Severus Snape (spoilers) in order to, in his mind, become the master of the Elder Wand. So he basically thought Snape was the master because he killed Dumbledore, and by killing Snape he himself would become the new master. But according to his logic, wouldn't every single previous master had to been killed by the next one?

So in order for Dumbledore to become the master, he should have had killed Grindelwald. But Voldemort was perfectly aware that he didn't, Grindelwald was still alive when Dumbledore died. Wouldn't this raise a question in Voldemort's head, that if Dumbledore really were a master of the Elder Wand, shouldn't there be another way to become one? And even more so, even Girndelwald didn't kill the previous master, Gregorovitch.

Then what he thought he was going to benefit from killing Snape? Because, according to his own logic, that one becomes the master of the Elder Wand by killing the previous master, neither Snape, Dumbledore, nor Grindelwald were ever its masters. According to his own logic, Voldemort should have been the master at the moment he killed Gregorovitch himself, yes?

Voldemort doesn't seem to be that stupid to make this kind of logical mistake but this all makes me think that he would have needed a bit of help from Professor Quirrell to get them past the potion riddle during their pursuit of the Philosopher's Stone.

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    I remember reading in another answer for such a question that, from his point of view, killing was the fastest way to become the owner of the wand. So he didn't look further.
    – Clockwork
    Nov 30 '18 at 20:08
  • 2
    Going along with what @Clockwork said, I think he was aware that taking ownership was a matter of defeating the previous owner.... But 'Defeat' could be a nebulous concept -- Death, on the other hand, is fairly certain, and I believe he considered killing someone to automatically count as defeating them.
    – K-H-W
    Nov 30 '18 at 20:11
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    and even more illogical - Voldemort didn't actually kill Snape. It was Nagini - who was then killed by Neville. So - that should actually make Neville Longbottom master of the Elder Wand :D (lol this is a joke of course)
    – NKCampbell
    Nov 30 '18 at 20:31
  • Hmmm. I'm no expert, but it seems to me that this is exactly the kind of logical mistake that otherwise clever people are most inclined to make. Basically just wishful thinking, with a veneer of not-terribly-sound logic on top. But he probably simply didn't know the critical fact, that Dumbledore was defeated by Draco before he was defeated by Snape. If not for that, Voldemort's plan would have worked. Nov 30 '18 at 23:57
  • @HarryJohnston Disagree. Maybe some but not all. You can be extremely clever and also analytical and so see all these things. As for me I don't think Voldemort was being illogical at all; rather he was showing that he was the all powerful, that only he could live forever, he could kill indiscriminately all for the 'greater good' (namely his own almost immortality). Arrogance can appear illogical but is it? It can be but is it always? If Severus had defeated Dumbledore then Voldemort would have become its master, yes? He just did it his way: murder.
    – Pryftan
    Jun 12 '19 at 21:21

The Dark Lord knew killing was the surest way to earn its loyalty.

When the Dark Lord suspected that the reason the Elder Wand wasn’t working as well as it should be for him, he thought that the way to ensure its loyalty would be fully given to him and he’d be sure to become its new master would be to kill Snape. To gain mastery of the Elder Wand, he would need to defeat its true owner, and killing them would seem the ultimate defeat.

“The Elder Wand cannot serve me properly, Severus, because I am not its true master. The Elder Wand belongs to the wizard who killed its last owner. You killed Albus Dumbledore. While you live, Severus, the Elder Wand cannot be truly mine.”
- Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Chapter 32 (The Elder Wand)

As there are cases of wizards who mastered the Elder Wand without having killed its last master, this isn’t strictly true, but killing them makes sure that it should change its loyalty, since its old master no longer exists, and was not just defeated, but defeated permanently. Any other method of defeat leaves a chance that the Wand may remain loyal to its old master and not change its loyalty. Also, many more times than not, the Elder Wand did change masters by its previous master being killed by someone, and there’s no known case that killing the wand’s previous master didn’t work in getting it to change its loyalty to the one who killed them. The legends surrounding the Elder Wand say it passes hands by murder, and though Ollivander says it’s not strictly necessary, it’s proven to work.

“Necessary? No, I should not say that it is necessary to kill.’

‘There are legends, though,’ said Harry, and as his heart rate quickened, the pain in his scar became more intense; he was sure that Voldemort had decided to put his idea into action. ‘Legends about a wand – or wands – that have passed from hand to hand by murder.’

Ollivander turned pale. Against the snowy pillow he was light grey, and his eyes were enormous, bloodshot and bulging with what looked like fear. ‘Only one wand, I think,’ he whispered.”
- Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Chapter 24 (The Wandmaker)

So the Dark Lord would have clear reason to think killing its master was the surest way, and he wouldn’t want to risk not getting its loyalty. He wouldn’t take his chances on attempting to master the Elder Wand by some other way of defeat when the Elder Wand is known to pass hands by murder. He knew that killing Snape would assure him mastery of the Elder Wand, so that’s what he did.

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    Much like a lot of what people in universe who know about the Hallows believe about the Hallows, many took the legends of them as truth, when in fact they were wrong, and Voldemort missing the resurrection stone in his hands is testament to his lack of understanding of them. Solid answer supporting the Dark Lord's ignorance despite his intelligence.
    – Ongo
    Dec 1 '18 at 1:28
  • Another thing to consider: the Elder Wand is one that is most loyal to power. Killing someone removes them from the equation and so by extension the murderer is more powerful - in such a twisted meaning at least.
    – Pryftan
    Jun 12 '19 at 21:23

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