We know that Voldemort is VERY good at seeming all sugar and spice and everything nice when he wishes to (Hepizbah Smith, Headmaster Dippet, Gray Lady).

This makes perfect sense, since such an ability is a typical trait for sociopaths [citation needed].

Most criminal bosses and historical bad guys seem to always practice charisma on their followers, not just constant bullying and threats (for a quintessential portrayal, look no further than "The Godfather").

  1. Does Voldemort ever practice similar "charismatic leader"/"charmer" techniques on his followers?

  2. If not, why is it that he never (or seemingly almost never) does, and treats ALL of them 100% of the time as a ruthless bully?

  • Yeah. Voldemort is the less credible character of HP. He's nothing like the evil leaders in real history.
    – user8252
    Feb 1, 2013 at 1:08
  • @ALS - JKR is not very good with tactics. Feb 1, 2013 at 1:09
  • @ALS...Voldemort strikes me as very similar to Hitler in personality; notably the charisma, public speaking skills, ability to manipulate others to his own ideals...even the fact that both were actually fathered by members of the communities which they later fought to destroy...in fact of all the characters he may be the most credible...
    – NominSim
    Feb 1, 2013 at 2:33
  • Being "nice" is subjective. Also, the only knowledge of his pre-HP timeframe self is somewhat of a charismatic person. Refer to his early interaction with teachers while attending school. @NominSim I feel Voldemort is a weak, somewhat unbelievable character. I don't see his motivation. Feb 1, 2013 at 20:14
  • I think the way he "hooks" them initially has more to do with the overall philosophy (wizard superiority and might over muggles and non-purebloods) than charming them. He's probably eloquent, persuasive, and charismatic in that way. But then once they're in, they're in for life, and then can be bullied and coerced into doing what he thinks they should. Kind of like a combination of mafioso and Magneto.
    – cashnwho
    Feb 7, 2013 at 16:32

3 Answers 3


I assume he did practice being nice to his followers, not nice as in a sycophantic way as he did towards his teachers at school or Hepzibah Smith, but in a way as not being ruthlessly assaultive. However we are never shown this side of Voldemort in the books, as most of the narrative takes place from Harry's perspective, and in those rare occasions when we do get it from a perspective of Voldemort when he is alone with few individuals, it is only during a time when he wants to punish someone or is angry at something, as Harry can see through Voldemort's eyes only when he is feeling a particularly strong emotion such as anger.

However Dumbledore has stated that many of his followers claim themselves to be the one most trusted by him, his chief "right hand man". This is also shown to us in some occasions, such as Bellatrix or Barty Crouch Jr. claiming to be the most trusted Lieutenant of Voldemort. So when he has to deal with them personally, he probably does make them feel like they are the only one he trusts and considers to be the most faithful follower. The books just don't narrate this to us through Voldemort's perspective when he is actually doing it, as they need to create a ruthless tyrant personality for Voldemort in our minds


Voldemort is called the 'Dark Lord' for a reason and being nice is not a part of it. He is the leader of the Death Eaters and those unholy Dementors. But what makes him what he is? Fear! Fear is what keeps his men loyal to him. Fear is what makes them obey him, no matter what. And unless he is mean and bullying, he won't make much of an impression as the Dark Lord. Obviously, Voldemort cannot afford to lose his charm by doing something trivial such as being nice.


The Dark Lord rewards his followers for loyalty and serving well.

Though the Dark Lord may not act ‘nice’ towards his followers, he does promise to reward them for serving him well or remaining loyal to him. Despite his displeasure at Wormtail’s true motivation to return to him, he rewards Wormtail with a new hand for his help recreating a body.

“Wormtail here has paid some of his debt already, have you not, Wormtail?’ He looked down at Wormtail, who continued to sob. ‘You returned to me, not out of loyalty, but out of fear of your old friends. You deserve this pain, Wormtail. You know that, don’t you?’

‘Yes, master,’ moaned Wormtail, ‘please, master … please …’

‘Yet you helped return me to my body,’ said Voldemort coolly, watching Wormtail sob on the ground. ‘Worthless and traitorous as you are, you helped me … and Lord Voldemort rewards his helpers …”
- Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, Chapter 33 (The Death Eaters)

He also plans to reward the Lestranges for their refusal to renounce him and unwavering loyalty to him, saying they’ll be highly honored once he gets them out of Azkaban.

“The Lestranges should stand here,’ said Voldemort quietly. ‘But they are entombed in Azkaban. They were faithful. They went to Azkaban rather than renounce me … when Azkaban is broken open, the Lestranges will be honoured beyond their dreams.”
- Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, Chapter 33 (The Death Eaters)

Since the Death Eaters typically follow him either because they believe in his plan for the wizarding world, enjoy committing violent acts in his name, or fear him, this seems to be enough. The true believers eagerly anticipate their honor, those who enjoy the violence consider the freedom to do it a reward in itself, and those who serve him out of fear are already motivated by their own fear.

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