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In the Battle of the Seven Potters (Chapter 'Seven Potters' in "Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows"), 6 people (Ron/Fred/George/Hermione/Fleur/Mundungus) take the Polyjuice Potion to act as decoys for Harry.

Wouldn't it have made more sense for Harry to have taken the Polyjuice Potion to turn to some low-profile character instead, to escape the Dursleys' residence?

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    Yes.​​​​​​​​​​​ Jan 12, 2013 at 23:21
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    Potter was a hero with a lot heart... but not so much on the brains! Jan 13, 2013 at 17:34
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    @MarkRogers: It wasn't Harry's plan, so let's not disparage him for it.
    – Adam V
    Jan 14, 2013 at 19:09
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    Related: movies.stackexchange.com/q/18987/49.
    – TARS
    Jun 12, 2015 at 12:03
  • @MarkRogers: He was just 16 years old with so much of burden.
    – captainsac
    Jul 3, 2015 at 9:53

3 Answers 3

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The point was to confuse the enemy because of all of the Potters, if there had been no Potters then it is likely that the enemy would have simply attacked everyone equally, instead of chasing after whichever Potter they thought was the "real" one.

Mundungus gave them the idea to have seven Potters via Polyjuice Potion through the manipulation of Snape because Snape knew that he would have to tell Voldemort the exact time that Harry would be taken away from the house. Had there not been seven Potters..., a fact that the Death Eater's were surprised about:

"...They didn't know there would be seven Harrys, that confused them the moment we appeared..."

...then the enemy would not have been confused and the events might not have been as fortuitous as they were.

Remember too, Dumbledore told Snape to manipulate Mundungus into giving the idea as his own for seven Potter's specifically to ensure Harry's safety:

"...you must plant the idea of decoys; that, I think, ought to ensure Harry's safety. Try Confunding Mundungus Fletcher."

Now Snape was head to head with Mundungus in an unfamiliar tavern, Mundungus’s face looking curiously blank, Snape frowning in concentration.

“You will suggest to the Order of the Phoenix,” Snape murmured, “that they use decoys. Polyjuice Potion. Identical Potters. It’s the only thing that might work. You will forget that I have suggested this. You will present it as your own idea. You understand?”

Edit: If you meant that they still should have had seven Harrys, only that Harry not be one of them that ends up even worse for protecting Harry. The whole point was to protect Harry and since everyone else there could have been killed by any random Death Eater with impunity, disguising him as an "ordinary" person would not have helped. Harry was the only one that the Death Eaters were given specific instructions not to kill (in order to leave him for Voldemort). It would have put him in more danger if he was disguised as someone else, as he would have been one of the "expendable" (in the eyes of the DEs) members of the Order.

If anything the best plan of action may have been to disguise everyone as Harry, at least that way there would be confusion, and the Death Eaters would be hesitant to kill any of the Order rather than just the Harry impostors. However again, if that was the case they likely would have provided equal (or near to equal) coverage of everyone, rather than attacking the pair with the most experienced Auror's first (something that the Order members specifically counted on).

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    I don't think the OP is suggesting there be no Harrys, merely that Harry himself not be one of them.
    – Martha
    Jan 12, 2013 at 20:15
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    They did attack all the Potters equally. So I think that contradicts this answer right from the outset. All things considered, this is one of the minor errors in the books so I don’t think a compelling in-Universe explanation exists. Jan 12, 2013 at 23:22
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    @KonradRudolph The Death Eaters specifically avoided attacking Potters (as far as killing goes), and Voldemort only chased the Potters that he suspected of being the real one.
    – NominSim
    Jan 13, 2013 at 2:48
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    @NominSim To be fair, if there wasn't any Potters, and they knew that Harry was someone else, wouldn't they be unwilling to attack anyone, risking the wrath of Voldemort?
    – Anoplexian
    Apr 8, 2016 at 16:58
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    @Anoplexian Not necessarily. You have 7 potters, I can understand assuming one of them is the real potter as you know magic was used to change appearances. You have 0 potters, you think they are all a distraction and potter is driving away in a car. Might as well kill them all. Apr 8, 2016 at 17:06
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Note the following passage:

"I've toldjer, I'd sooner be a protector," said Mundungus.

"Shut it," growled Moody. "As I've already told you, you spineless worm, any Death Eaters we run into will be aiming to capture Potter, not kill him. Dumbledore always said You-Know-Who would want to finish Potter in person. It'll be the protectors who have got the most to worry about, the Death Eaters'll want to kill them."
Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Chapter 4: The Seven Potters

It was well-known to the Order that Voldemort did not want Harry killed by anyone other than himself. On the other hand, he has no problem with his Death Eaters killing everybody else in order to get to Harry. Therefore, if Harry was disguised as a not-Harry, he would actually be in more danger than all of the fake Harry's since the Death Eaters would aim specifically for him and the other protectors first. It was much safer for him to be one real Harry with six fake Harry's just to confuse the enemy.

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    Why would Harry be one of the protectors rather than, say, transfigured into a housecat with a timed port key collar? Even if the Death Eaters were checking for that -- unlikely since they were relying on visual identification -- they would be confused by the six or seven Potters leaving at the same time.
    – dhasenan
    Jan 12, 2013 at 23:01
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    Given this, it seems the ideal plan would have been for everyone to polyjuice themselves into Harry. It would've made it obvious to the Death Eaters that the Order expected an attack, but the Death Eaters would not have dared kill anyone. (It's been a while since I read the book, but I believe the plan as enacted was based on at least some people pretending to know less than they actually knew, and I don't know if the "everyone is Harry" variant would've made that possible.)
    – Martha
    Jan 21, 2013 at 21:32
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    @dhasenan Polyjuice Potion doesn’t work with animals. He’d have to transform into a person. Feb 22, 2016 at 13:29
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    @Janus Bahs Jacquet: And transfiguration (as suggested by dhasenan) would have needed a spell, which would have triggered the Trace.
    – chirlu
    Feb 22, 2016 at 15:44
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Of course that would've made more sense. It would've been even easier for Harry to just put on the old invisibility cloak, walk a couple of miles down the road, meet up with Mad-Eye, and catch a portkey. At the very least, you could use the polyjuice potion in combination with disillusionment charms on everyone (it was good enough in Order of the Phoenix, after all).

Alas, everyone in this series suffers from a little bit of a Dr. Evil syndrome and insists on making things far too complex. Heck, in Goblet of Fire, wouldn't it have been easier for the imposter Moody to just invite Harry to have a cup of tea and make the cup a portkey?

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    Yes! Haven't heard it called Dr Evil syndrome before, but that describes it perfectly! That plan was so unnecessarily complicated.
    – NiceOrc
    Apr 21, 2013 at 2:32
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    In the case of the Goblet of Fire they wanted to make it look like an accident. It would be much less suspicious if Harry died in a dangerous maze than in the office of a teacher.
    – vsz
    Jun 29, 2014 at 11:45
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    I always thought that as the series got more popular that 1. The Editor was afraid to reign in Rowling 2. Rowling was just too powerful at that stage and pushed everything through. The series latter books became bloated and over complicated
    – user001
    Feb 22, 2016 at 11:50
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    Voldemort likes the dramatic showdown. That's why he makes his horcruxes famous artifacts, not a stone thrown into the Pacific ocean or the Voyager spacecraft. Turning Harry's greatest moment of triumph (winning the Triwizard Tournament) into his death seems like the sort of idea he would like. Mar 19, 2016 at 17:31
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    @DavidStone Or for that matter, something with a high enough melting point dropped into the Earth's mantle through a volcano, something teleported to an arbitrary location deep underground, or something invisible set drifting randomly through the upper atmosphere. =P Apr 8, 2016 at 21:13

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