It's a widely accepted theory that Harry's sacrifice for everyone fighting with him gave them a protection against Voldemort. Why would Voldemort create such a situation like that, keeping in mind that he was the one who magnified his voice and basically told Harry to come sacrifice himself? Voldemort expected Harry to do it, Voldemort knew Harry was pretty selfless, so why would Voldemort give everyone a nonstrategic advantage?

3 Answers 3


It never actually happened before Harry.

Though it is mentioned that a sacrificial protection magic is known to exist, Harry is the only one to ever actually have it cast upon him (until he casts it by his sacrifice) and to have survived the Killing Curse.

“The nature of that prophecy is unknown, although speculation is rife that it concerns Harry Potter, the only person ever known to have survived the Killing Curse, and who is also known to have been at the Ministry on the night in question.”
- Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, Chapter 3 (Will and Won’t)

When teaching Defense Against the Dark Arts, “Moody” also referenced Harry’s unique status.

“Moody swept the dead spider off the desk onto the floor.

‘Not nice,’ he said calmly. ‘Not pleasant. And there’s no counter-curse. There’s no blocking it. Only one known person has ever survived it, and he’s sitting right in front of me.”
- Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, Chapter 14 (The Unforgivable Curses)

Furthermore, JKR specifically stated in an interview that Harry was indeed the first person to survive the Killing Curse because someone else died for him, and that Lily did not know she was giving Harry a chance to live. JKR also stated that no one knew it could happen.

MA: Did she know anything about the possible effect of standing in front of Harry?

JKR: No - because as I've tried to make clear in the series, it never happened before. No one ever survived before. And no one, therefore, knew that could happen.

MA: So no one - Voldemort or anyone using Avada Kedavra - ever gave someone a choice and then they took that option [to die] -

JKR: They may have been given a choice, but not in that particular way.
- The Leaky Cauldron and MuggleNet interview (July 16th, 2005)

Therefore, with the phenomenon so barely understood to begin with, it would be extremely difficult for Voldemort to predict that Harry could do the same thing for everyone at Hogwarts.

The situation then was entirely different.

Additionally, the two situations were not quite comparable. Voldemort did realize that he was mistaken in overlooking the effect her sacrifice would have had, so he was willing to acknowledge his mistake and attempt to learn from it.

“You all know that on the night I lost my powers and my body, I tried to kill him. His mother died in the attempt to save him – and unwittingly provided him with a protection I admit I had not foreseen … I could not touch the boy.’

Voldemort raised one of his long white fingers, and put it very close to Harry’s cheek. ‘His mother left upon him the traces of her sacrifice … this is old magic, I should have remembered it, I was foolish to overlook it … but no matter. I can touch him now.” - Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, Chapter 33 (The Death Eaters)

However, Lily’s sacrifice for her child and Harry’s refusal to let anyone else die for him are not really comparable. When Voldemort attempted to kill Harry and Lily sacrificed herself for him, she was clearly sacrificing herself out of a deep love for Harry specifically - a mother’s love for her child. She would have rather taken anything instead of her child’s death.

He forced the door open, cast aside the chair and boxes hastily piled against it with one lazy wave of his wand … and there she stood, the child in her arms. At the sight of him, she dropped her son into the cot behind her and threw her arms wide, as if this would help, as if in shielding him from sight she hoped to be chosen instead …

‘Not Harry, not Harry, please not Harry!’

‘Stand aside, you silly girl … stand aside, now …’

‘Not Harry, please no, take me, kill me instead –’

‘This is my last warning –’

‘Not Harry! Please … have mercy … have mercy … Not Harry! Not Harry! Please – I’ll do anything –’

‘Stand aside – stand aside, girl –’

He could have forced her away from the cot, but it seemed more prudent to finish them all …

The green light flashed around the room and she dropped like her husband.
- Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Chapter 17 (Bathilda’s Secret)

It would be very difficult for Voldemort, or anyone else, to believe that Harry’s unwillingness to let anyone else die for him would have the same effect as Harry’s mother’s love for him as her child. While Harry valued the lives of those fighting for Hogwarts, he almost certainly did not feel the same depth of love for each one of them as his mother would have felt for him. It would not be particularly reasonable to assume from the experience of Lily’s sacrifice that Harry would be able to do the same thing for those fighting in the war alongside him.

He did not understand that type of magic.

In addition to the fact that it would be exceedingly difficult for anyone to predict that Harry could cast a protection charm on all those fighting alongside him from the existing knowledge of sacrificial protection, Voldemort did not understand the types of magic reliant on love as well as other types of magic, as he did not understand love itself.

“You won’t be killing anyone else tonight,’ said Harry as they circled, and stared into each other’s eyes, green into red. ‘You won’t be able to kill any of them, ever again. Don’t you get it? I was ready to die to stop you hurting these people –’

‘But you did not!’

‘– I meant to, and that’s what did it. I’ve done what my mother did. They’re protected from you. Haven’t you noticed how none of the spells you put on them are binding? You can’t torture them. You can’t touch them. You don’t learn from your mistakes, Riddle, do you?”
- Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Chapter 36 (The Flaw in the Plan)

As Dumbledore explains to Harry, Voldemort does not usually consider it worthwhile to understand what he does not value, so he would not have a particularly in-depth knowledge of those areas.

“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)

Dumbledore further explains that Voldemort specifically did not understand the power of Harry’s mother’s sacrifice, which also led him to believe taking Harry’s blood would strengthen him rather than have the unintended consequence of tying Harry to life. Therefore, while Dumbledore was still able to make reasoned guesses as to what the effects of this sacrifice protection would be, Voldemort may be less able to make similarly accurate predictions of its effects.

“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. If he could only have understood the precise and terrible power of that sacrifice, he would not, perhaps, have dared to touch your blood … but then, if he had been able to understand, he could not be Lord Voldemort, and might never have murdered at all.”
- Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Chapter 35 (King’s Cross)

The unintended consequences of his calling Harry to come meet his death was a result of further inability to predict the effects that the sacrifice would have.

  • 7
    So basically Dumbledore was just postulating a wild theory when he talked about Voldemort 'not knowing that kind of magic' and that it was 'very old magic'. For all he knew it could've been a brand new type of magic invented by Harry's mom by her sacrifice.
    – TylerH
    Commented Apr 21, 2020 at 13:09
  • 2
    @LeosLiterak - Its a 5-syllable phrase you have to get out, which means its possible to interrupt if the target has their wand out and is ready for it. I seem to remember at least one case in the books where that happened, and I think someone who was dueling managed to physically dodge it.
    – T.E.D.
    Commented Apr 22, 2020 at 17:21
  • 2
    Also, Dumbledore managed to physically block it with a magically animated statue.
    – T.E.D.
    Commented Apr 22, 2020 at 17:28
  • 1
    This cleared things up - although I certainly am late, (I forgot to check this), thanks for the answer!
    – John Lucas
    Commented May 9, 2020 at 21:28
  • 1
    @JohnLucas You’re welcome, I’m glad it explains things well!
    – Obsidia
    Commented May 9, 2020 at 23:17

Because Voldemort is arrogant, and he never learns from his mistakes. Plus, he never fully understood what love meant, and the powerful things it could do.

He didn't even notice that Harry had given the Sacrificial protection to everyone with his sacrifice until Harry himself told him so.

‘You won’t be able to kill any of them, ever again. Don’t you get it? I was ready to die to stop you hurting these people –’ ‘But you did not!’

Rowling, J.K.. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows (p. 604). Pottermore Publishing. Edición de Kindle.

‘Is it love again?’ said Voldemort, his snake’s face jeering, ‘Dumbledore’s favourite solution, love, which he claimed conquered death, though love did not stop him falling from the Tower and breaking like an old waxwork?

Rowling, J.K.. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows (p. 604). Pottermore Publishing. Edición de Kindle.


Voldemort spelled out the basics of his philosophy the first time he spoke to Harry:

There is no good or evil, there is only power and those too weak to seek it.

Although he may have used verbiage that made it sound like he was asking Harry to sacrifice himself, he did not see his demand that way, but rather as a demand that Harry surrender, which in Voldemort's book is the supreme act of weakness.

Furthermore, he likely believed that by using Harry's love for his supporters as the means of goading him into surrendering, he was confirming that love is weak.

Worst case of sour grapes, ever.

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