After reading too much bashing, I decided to ask... Was Voldemort stupid or a genius?

We know the tragic story of Voldemort, and yet after getting great OWL and NEWTS instead of trying to enter the Ministry, somewhere he could get better info, he goes to a pawn shop and it’s a miracle that he found the objects of the founders. He listened to half of a prophecy that says that a destined child could be his downfall and instead of sending lackeys, he goes himself and dies. After 10 years of half-survival, he takes Quirrell’s body, he could have done the same ritual he did in the fourth year to take a body, instead he tries to 'ask around' about the Philosopher’s Stone and increasing the security.

Then after not trusting any of his followers until the fourth year, he suddenly trusts Peter Pettigrew the one that caused his death and that betrayed the Potters before without trusting the other Death Eaters. He makes a plan that could have failed in any moment by Dumbledore discovering that Crouch was Moody, to Moody escaping or Harry dying or not getting the cup at time to put only a couple of ways.

And if we don't talk about the many ways he tortures his Death Eaters to show how he is the boss, the better, yet it made me think, while from a point of view he was lucky, from another point of view he was a genius. I don't want to follow the line of question of the bashing fics because almost half ignore great parts of the story and are mainly to get a laugh but... Did Tom Riddle show any genius aptitude or was he a stupid with too much luck?

  • 1
    there's a few misconceptions in the question such as, Pettigrew didn't cause his 'first' death and Pettigrew was the only death eater to seek him out all those years later. Crouch came a few months after he (Voldemort) had already reestablished with Pettigrew. As to the events of GoF, that's covered a lot around here, suffice to say, Voldemort didn't just want Potter dead, he needed Potter to complete the complex resurrection spell.
    – NKCampbell
    Commented Jan 27, 2019 at 2:43
  • This is quite subjective, what is considered stupid and what is considered smart?
    – Ginge
    Commented Jan 27, 2019 at 3:50
  • 2
    I'm voting to close this question as off-topic because there is no actual problem to be solved: “I’m curious if other people feel like I do.” Commented Jan 27, 2019 at 3:58
  • @EJS Nah, the topic of the question is fantasy, so closing it as off-topic wouldn't make much sense. It's an on-topic opinion-based question.
    – Misha R
    Commented Jan 27, 2019 at 5:32
  • @MishaR The OP appears to be "grandstanding" for his opinion rather than asking an actual question, though. Commented Jan 27, 2019 at 5:37

1 Answer 1


The Dark Lord was quite intelligent.

The Dark Lord was highly intelligent - Dumbledore, who knew him incredibly well to the point of predicting nearly everything he did and thought, said the Dark Lord’s knowledge of magic was perhaps more extensive than any wizard alive.

“I knew that Voldemort’s knowledge of magic is perhaps more extensive than any wizard alive. I knew that even my most complex and powerful protective spells and charms were unlikely to be invincible if he ever returned to full power.

‘But I knew, too, where Voldemort was weak. And so I made my decision. You would be protected by an ancient magic of which he knows, which he despises, and which he has always, therefore, underestimated – to his cost. I am speaking, of course, of the fact that your mother died to save you. She gave you a lingering protection he never expected, a protection that flows in your veins to this day. I put my trust, therefore, in your mother’s blood. I delivered you to her sister, her only remaining relative.”
- Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, Chapter 37 (The Lost Prophecy)

He was intelligent even as a child, and was considered very talented and thirsty by his teachers.

“As an unusually talented and very good-looking orphan, he naturally drew attention and sympathy from the staff almost from the moment of his arrival. He seemed polite, quiet and thirsty for knowledge. Nearly all were most favourably impressed by him.”
- Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, Chapter 17 (A Sluggish Memory)

He also got top grades in every examination he took.

“He reached the seventh year of his schooling with, as you might have expected, top grades in every examination he had taken. All around him, his classmates were deciding which jobs they were to pursue once they had left Hogwarts. Nearly everybody expected spectacular things from Tom Riddle, prefect, Head Boy, winner of the Special Award for Services to the School.”
- Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, Chapter 20 (Lord Voldemort’s Request)

The Dark Lord was skilled in subjects other than magical knowledge and power as well. Though Dumbledore ensured Harry was very well-protected, the Dark Lord was able to devise a plan to capture him despite all of his various protections.

“Use my one faithful Death Eater, stationed at Hogwarts, to ensure that the boy’s name was entered into the Goblet of Fire. Use my Death Eater to ensure that the boy won the Tournament – that he touched the Triwizard Cup first – the Cup which my Death Eater had turned into a Portkey, which would bring him here, beyond the reach of Dumbledore’s help and protection, and into my waiting arms.”
- Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, Chapter 33 (The Death Eaters)

As a teenager, he was able to fool his teachers into believing he was innocent of opening the Chamber of Secrets, as well as frame Hagrid for it and make the teachers believe Hagrid was the one truly behind all the attacks at Hogwarts.

“It was my word against Hagrid’s, Harry. Well, you can imagine how it looked to old Armando Dippet. On the one hand, Tom Riddle, poor but brilliant, parentless but so brave, school Prefect, model student; on the other hand, big, blundering Hagrid, in trouble every other week, trying to raise werewolf cubs under his bed, sneaking off to the Forbidden Forest to wrestle trolls.”
- Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, Chapter 17 (The Heir of Slytherin)

While he was still young and couldn’t rely as much on the fear he causes as the Dark Lord, he was quite persuasive, good at fooling people, making them believe what he tells them and showing a different version of himself - he got the majority of the Hogwarts staff to like him.

“I had advised Armando against the appointment – I did not give the reasons I have given you, for Professor Dippet was very fond of Voldemort and convinced of his honesty – but I did not want Lord Voldemort back at this school, and especially not in a position of power.”
- Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, Chapter 20 (Lord Voldemort’s Request)

So the Dark Lord was indeed quite intelligent. He may have made certain mistakes, but nevertheless, he was still overall far more intelligent than the average wizard.

But, he didn’t know some types of magic.

However, despite his generally high intelligence, there were certain types of magic the Dark Lord was less knowledgeable in, like house-elf magic, as Dumbledore explains to Harry.

“And his knowledge remained woefully incomplete, Harry! That which Voldemort does not value, he takes no trouble to comprehend. Of house-elves and children’s tales, of love, loyalty and innocence, Voldemort knows and understands nothing. Nothing. That they all have a power beyond his own, a power beyond the reach of any magic, is a truth he has never grasped.”
- Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Chapter 35 (King’s Cross)

Though the Dark Lord was quite knowledgeable about magic, there were certain things that he didn’t know.

  • 4
    Well la di da... Madame Lestrange is defending The Dark Lord.. :P :D
    – Shreedhar
    Commented Jan 27, 2019 at 11:19
  • @Shreedhar Indeed I am! :P :D
    – Obsidia
    Commented Jan 27, 2019 at 18:36

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