Harry defeats Voldemort-possessed Quirrell by touching him. Dumbledore's explanation of this is:

D: Harry, do you know why Professor Quirrell couldn't bear to have you touch him? {Harry shakes his head.} It was because of your mother. She sacrificed herself for you, and that kind of act leaves a mark. {Harry touches his scar.} No, no, this kind of mark cannot be seen. It lives in your very skin.

H: What is it?

D: Love, Harry, love.

So why didn't Harry just go around touching every bad guy he met? And what would be the bad-ness threshold that would make his touch deadly? Was Draco Malfoy bad enough? What about Crabbe and Goyle? Or was his touch only deadly to Voldemort (or Quirrell) in particular?

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    Because not every bad guy is Voldemort, with whom Harry had the connection. – Jack B Nimble Sep 23 '13 at 16:16
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    Brilliant question! I was struggling to stop giggling at work when I read it, and had to run to the toilet to laugh, because people were starting to stare at me. Questions like this should have a NSFW tag! – Shantnu Tiwari Sep 24 '13 at 8:51
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    On a related note, what is the antonym of "pedophile" – KharoBangdo Sep 24 '13 at 9:20
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    @KharoBangdo: I'd ask that on english.stackexchange.com if you wanted an answer :-) – Jeff Sep 24 '13 at 13:49
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    Because it's creepy, violates basic human rights and it's unsanitary – djm Dec 4 '18 at 13:52

Harry was able to defeat Quirrel by physical contact because he was protected by his mother's love.

Dying to protect Harry gave him a specific protection against Voldemort, which is why the Killing Curse rebounded.

After not-dying (due to Horcrux), Voldemort was rendered into a wraith - he was "less than a ghost". He possessed Quirrel and was sharing (and possibly controlling) his body.

This protection made Harry immune to Voldemort's magic, and made his touch painful and lethal to Voldemort.

Since Voldemort shared Quirrel's body, Quirrel was similarly vulnerable to Harry's touch.

In book 4, when Voldemort was reborn (using Harry's blood) he internalized this ancient magic, and was thus not vulnerable to Harry's touch.

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    May be OP hasn't read the books. That quote looks like it might be from a movie – user13267 Sep 23 '13 at 17:07
  • Specifically, it is from the movie script transcript at this page (Or at least this matches it, the same transcript may be at numerous pages on the web): tomfeltonandmore.tripod.com/home/id9.html – JohnP Sep 23 '13 at 17:17
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    Sorry, I should have made it clear that I haven't read the books. The observation and the quote are from the movie. I understood that the self-sacrifice-as-protection was a big plot element (particular in the climax of the last book), but Dumbledore did such a bad job explaining it (in the movie at least) that it wasn't completely clear what the limits of the protection were. – Plutor Sep 24 '13 at 13:45
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    @Jeff I think that there's a scene shortly after Voldemort gets his body back, he touches harry to prove he's no longer vulnerable. – Parrotmaster Dec 4 '18 at 14:16
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    additionally, to go w/ the premise of the question - Harry is never in a position to 'touch' a main villain again. In book/film 2 - Riddle is a ghost and Potter can't exactly reach out and tag the basilisk, in 3, Black has him at arms length when they are in the same room, in 4, well...that's when things go badly for the blood charm anyway – NKCampbell Dec 4 '18 at 14:18

Harry always had a hard time just out right Killing anyone. Even when he killed Quirrell it was more of an accidental nature. He stumbled on it. I'm guessing that more than likely there are two reasons.

  1. It wasn't in his nature
  2. Voldemort was incapeable of loving anything he didn't even love his own parents. Not all bad guys are incapeble of love. They just prefer to do bad things.

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