Chapter 33 of Deathly Hallows tells us all that we really need to know about Dumbledore's plan to make sure that once Voldemort dies, he stays dead. However, I can't find anywhere in the series that tells us how Dumbledore planned to have Voldemort killed in the first place. We already know from chapter 35 of Deathly Hallows that what we see happen with the Elder Wand wasn't a part of Dumbledore's plan and I can't think of anyone who would've had a good shot at beating him fair and square, so what was the plan?

  • Once his horcruxes are destroyed, he's merely a powerful wizard.
    – Valorum
    Commented Dec 30, 2020 at 14:30
  • 1
    @Valorum And going by the last war, I guess that it'll take about a decade to solve that problem?
    – J. Mini
    Commented Dec 30, 2020 at 14:33
  • 2
    Sure, but at least your enemy isn't immortal
    – Valorum
    Commented Dec 30, 2020 at 15:28

3 Answers 3


Yes, he had a plan, but it was not always the same plan.

Dumbledore's first goal was always to eliminate Voldemort's Horcruxes, since he was well aware that, once these were destroyed, anyone could kill Voldemort, at least in theory. A Dark Lord who can be downed by a stray spell from an Auror is far less dangerous than one who can resurrected by his followers as many times as necessary. It is true that Voldemort and his Death Eaters fought the entire Ministry of Magic in the first war, and were winning, but the fact that Voldemort escaped unscathed from most of those battles was, if not really coincidence, certainly not an inevitability. We saw that three skilled magic-users could give him quite a hard time in Deathly Hallows. Dumbledore was, of course, aware of the diifficulty:

"Yes, I think so," said Dumbledore. "Without his Horcruxes, Voldemort will be a mortal man with a maimed and diminished soul. Never forget, though, that while his soul may be damaged beyond repair, his brain and his magical powers remain intact. It will take uncommon skill and power to kill a wizard like Voldemort even without his Horcruxes."

Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince

I have no doubt that initially, he planned to try to kill Voldemort himself, once all the Horcruxes were eliminated.

‘You do not seek to kill me, Dumbledore?’ called Voldemort, his scarlet eyes narrowed over the top of the shield. ‘Above such brutality, are you?’

‘We both know that there are other ways of destroying a man, Tom,’ Dumbledore said calmly, continuing to walk towards Voldemort as though he had not a fear in the world, as though nothing had happened to interrupt his stroll up the hall. ‘Merely taking your life would not satisfy me, I admit –’

Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix

Merely taking his life would not satisfy him, because he needs to destroy the Horcruxes first. However, whatever Voldemort says with regard to the nonlethal spell that Dumbledore used there, the latter is clearly not making much of an effort to avoid killing the former in the battle: he tries to suffocate him under a mass of water, wrap him in a rope of flame, and more. Besides, when Snape first betrayed Voldemort to Dumbledore, he was afraid that he would kill him, suggesting that he had been willing to use lethal force against the Death Eaters in the first war.

Dying was not on Dumbledore's to-do-list until near the beginning of the sixth book, when his carelessness with the Resurrection Stone left him with a debilitating and inevitably fatal curse. Naturally, Dumbledore himself, with the appropriate backup, would have had by far the best chance of defeating Voldemort once the Horcruxes were destroyed.

After Dumbledore contracted the curse, his original plan became untenable, so he moved onto another one. Perhaps the querent thought Dumbledore did not plan for Harry to survive, but that is incorrect. He did not plan for Harry to get the Elder Wand, but Harry's survival would have been assured by Voldemort having taken his blood:

“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!”

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows

Dumbledore had known, or strongly suspected this, since the fourth book: that is why he had a "look of triumph" in his eyes when Harry explained to him that Voldemort had taken his blood.

Now, Dumbledore knew that Harry would survive, and he did believe that Harry had the power to take on Voldemort. Right after the first quote that I mentioned, Dumbledore says that Harry does have uncommon skill and power, particularly insofar as his ability to love provides him with a strong weapon against Voldemort—in fact, based on the way Dumbledore described his protection, it is possible that Voldemort or anyone else would have been incapable of killing him permanently as long as Voldemort was alive.

In addition, love is the basis of many other types of powerful magic, but even setting that aside, Harry is rather skilled at Defense Against the Dark Arts, by which I mean that he appears to be the best witch or wizard of his generation in that regard: he got an Outstanding when Hermione received an Exceeds Expectations, and his ability to produce a corporeal Patronus at 13 was little short of extraordinary. With more practice, he could have been a formidable opponent on the basis of skill alone.

In the end, though, I think there was some degree of desperation or hope in Dumbledore's plans near the end. He did not know for certain that anyone could kill Voldemort, not to mention defeat his Death Eaters, once all of his Horcruxes were destroyed, but he knew that they would at least have a chance. Eliminating Voldemort's immortality was the top priority.

  • Killing Voldemort permanently requires the destruction of the Horcruxes, so killing him would have satisfied Dumbledore, but was not possible at that time. Don't assume that what he says to an enemy during a fight is true. Even if Voldemort can't kill Harry, he could capture him and leave him to rot in Azkaban, besides it is not sure that Harry would survive a second killing curse. I think the formulation "there was desperation or hope in his plans" is too kind as a description for his actions. He didn't even make sure Harry got the sword.
    – RalfFriedl
    Commented Dec 31, 2020 at 10:20
  • "We saw that three skilled magic-users could give him quite a hard time in Deathly Hallows." - Doubtful, they were under the protection from Harry's sacrifice.
    – J. Mini
    Commented Dec 31, 2020 at 14:33
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    "his carelessness with Slytherin's locket" - Don't you mean the ring?
    – J. Mini
    Commented Dec 31, 2020 at 14:40

There isn't any indication in the books that Dumbledore really had a plan about Voldemort.

There is an indication that Dumbledore had a plan about the elder wand, and that plan didn't work (fortunately).

“I admit that was my intention,” said Dumbledore, “but it did not work as I intended, did it?”

What we know is that that Dumbledore wanted Harry raised like a pig for slaughter. When Snape mentions that, Dumbledore doesn't deny, he just changes the topic.

“I have spied for you and lied for you, put myself in mortal danger for you. Everything was supposed to be to keep Lily Potter’s son safe. Now you tell me you have been raising him like a pig for slaughter —”

That is consistent with how Dumbledore had Harry raised, and he admits that he knew that, even before he placed Harry with his relatives:

“You had suffered. I knew you would when I left you on your aunt and uncle’s doorstep. I knew I was condemning you to ten dark and diffi­cult years.”

Why Dumbledore thinks this is a good idea is not explained. He has a prophecy that states

The one with the power to vanquish the Dark Lord ap­proaches.

But his plan is that the one with the power to vanquish shall not use that power, but he shall let himself be killed.

In a comment, Valorum argues that after the horcruxes are destroyed, he can be killed. But with Dumbledore and Harry gone, and the ministry under his control, he is most likely to die of old age. And Harry would be dead, if not for the ownership of the wand.

We see that Umbridge uses the opportunity to send all muggleborn and halfbloods to Azkaban.

“No, no, I’m half-blood, I’m half-blood, I tell you! My father was a wizard, he was, look him up, Arkie Alderton, he’s a well-known broomstick designer, look him up, I tell you” ...

“Take him away,” said Umbridge.

So it seems Dumbledore had no problem with this development. By the time Voldemort would die, the muggle-born would be all dead, the pure-bloods in charge and the half-bloods would be servants. And after Voldemort's death, there would be no change, because that is exactly what Malfoy and his friends want, and they don't need Voldemort for that.

  • "So it seems Dumbledore had no problem with this development." Actually, there is a lot to indicate that Dumbledore was rather opposed to things like Umbridge and Voldemort running the Ministry of Magic, not least that he dedicated years of his life to avoiding it. He was not exactly chummy with the Malfoys, either. As a side note, where did you get "the half-bloods would be servants"? That is not what happened when Voldemort took over.
    – Adamant
    Commented Dec 31, 2020 at 6:37
  • Also I do not think Voldemort can die of old age....
    – Adamant
    Commented Dec 31, 2020 at 6:57
  • @Adamant Voldemort may or may not die of old age, especially of the only one who can kill him is already dead, but it is the best case scenario of what Dumbledore planned for. Dumbledore may be opposed, but that's what his plans lead to. He was also the one to bring Umbridge back from the centaurs. Halfbloods in Azkaban or as servants, because the pure-bloods need some people to actually work.
    – RalfFriedl
    Commented Dec 31, 2020 at 10:04
  • No they don't, because they can wave their wand and make chores get done, and in any case they enslave house-elves to do precisely that.
    – Adamant
    Commented Dec 31, 2020 at 10:43
  • @Adamant Whether the half-bloods end up in Azkaban or some other lace is really just a minor point. The point is that Voldemort and the pure-bloods would have won the war if everything had gone according to Dumbledore's plan or lack of planning.
    – RalfFriedl
    Commented Dec 31, 2020 at 11:43

To me it is clear that, because he insisted that it is essential that Voldemort kills Harry, he expected that when Voldemort did manage to kill Harry, then because of the fact that Voldemort used Harry's blood, Voldemort himself would also die at the same time. Of course, what actually happened is that, since Harry didn't die, Voldemort survived as well.

  • 1
    I'm not sure this necessarily has to be true. Doesn't he want Voldemort to "kill" Harry to destroy the Not Horcrux and fulfill the prophecy rather than because he thinks they'll both die?
    – TheLethalCarrot
    Commented Dec 30, 2020 at 19:38

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