I went through the last book, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, yesterday and a question popped in my mind: Does Death, the supposed creator of the Deathly Hallows, really exist in the Harry Potter universe? Dumbledore thought otherwise and I am with the same school of thought. By the way who created the deathly Hallows actually?


1) Why were the brothers so sure that the hooded figure was death(couldn't it be a more powerful wizard playing with them)

2) Couldn't, Beedle and the brothers create this story?

  • What do you mean by “death”? Do you mean the figure who supposedly created the Deathly Hallows, or the end of life?
    – alexwlchan
    Commented Apr 22, 2014 at 12:55
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    @alexwlchan Pretty sure they mean Death (with a capital D), the supposed creator of the Deathly Hallows. At the very end when Harry is talking to Dumbledore in "King's Cross" Dumbledore says he doesn't think it was actually Death who created them, that was just part of the mythology that formed around them. Commented Apr 22, 2014 at 12:57
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    Oh for... Death with a capital D is almost always the anthropomorphic figure, death with a small d is the cessation of life.
    – JohnP
    Commented Apr 22, 2014 at 14:31
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    Guys, if you are curious as to Tom's reason to believe that Death cannot exist, you can refer to this brief chat we had: chat.stackexchange.com/rooms/14067/…
    – Saturn
    Commented Apr 22, 2014 at 15:25
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    @Voldemort "And if they downvote you, then they must explain why. And if they don't explain why, we can report them for trolling." No you can't. There is absolutely no requirement to explain downvotes. Commented Apr 22, 2014 at 15:33

3 Answers 3


There is no proof whatsoever that Death exists in Harry Potter as a character.

  1. The only time Death is mentioned is in a folk fable, collected with OTHER made-up fables into a fiction book called "Tales of Beedles the Bard".

    To assume that Death existed in Potterverse merely because of that is equivalent to assuming Snow White or Seven Dwarves existed in our universe based on reading Brothers Grimm book.

    Or, for a Potter in-universe example, look at Lockhart's books.

    Granted, there's no proof Death doesn't exist; but Occam's Razor says that option should be rejected in favor of a more rational one.

  2. The artifacts which are attributed to be "made" by death are not a good proof either:

    • Albus Dumbledore, the most noted, wise and learned wizard in-Universe, explicitly states that this is unlikely.

      “So it’s true?” asked Harry. “All of it? The Peverell brothers—”
      “—were the three brothers of the tale,” said Dumbledore, nodding.
      “Oh yes, I think so. Whether they met Death on a lonely road . . . I think it more likely that the Peverell brothers were simply gifted, dangerous wizards who succeeded in creating those powerful objects. The story of them being Death’s own Hallows seems to me the sort of legend that might have sprung up around such creations.

    • The artifacts themselves can clearly be explained as "feasible" according to in-universe rules:

      • Invisibility cloak: it's not really "more perfect" than other cloaks. Yes, it doesn't get damaged with time - but neither do many other magical objects, like Hogwarts itself. Yes, it conceals other people aside from the owner, but it's not really THAT much of a "magical" leap from hiding only the owner.

        It doesn't have any other differences from "normal" invisibility cloaks, and there's zero in-universe evidence that it hides the owner from "Death" (the only reason Harry survived wasn't the cloak - which he wasn't wearing anyway - it was the fact that Voldemort took Harry's blood into his body).

      • The Elder Wand isn't shown to exhibit any supernatural abilities outside the fable. The only known time its owner dueled using the wand where the wand mattered, the owner LOST (Gellert Grindewald vs Dumbledore).

        What must strike any intelligent witch or wizard on studying the so-called history of the Elder Wand is that every man who claims to have owned it has insisted that it is “unbeatable”, when the known facts of its passage through many owners’ hands demonstrate that not only has it been beaten hundreds of times, but that it also attracts trouble as Grumble the Grubby Goat attracted flies. (Albus Dumbledore's comments in his copy of Tales of Beadle the Bard)

        The only "special" ability of the wand was to repair Harry Potter's wand that Olliewander pronounced unfixable. Hardly something worth assuming that the object was made by Death.

      • "Resurrection" stone. Its effects are similar to Priori Incantatum, and thus again don't require any supernatural "Death" magic as explanation.

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    Doesn't Occam's razor actually suggest that the among competing hypothesis, the one with the fewer assumptions is the one that's should be selected? Commented May 16, 2014 at 13:09
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    @DoctorWho22 - exactly. And "Death being a real character" is a pretty huge assumption (as opposed to a fairly unambitious one of "there were 3 skilled wizards" - heck, there were wizards who created Room of Requirement, after all). Commented May 16, 2014 at 13:15
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    @DoctorWho22, Occam's razor may be described as "fewest", but really could be described "least" amount of assumption, or the simplest solution. A lot of things could be explained by extreme assumptions that are still technically few in number, but that doesn't really cut it. Commented Sep 20, 2014 at 5:26
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    I don't know, I feel as though in a series where magic is a force that is prominent and natural, it isn't really a stretch to say that there may be a physical manifestation of Death. Commented Sep 22, 2014 at 20:12
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    "Or, for a Potter in-universe example, look at Lockhart's books." The creatures Lockhart wrote about defeating were real, though. It just wasn't Lockhart that defeated them.
    – JAB
    Commented Sep 12, 2017 at 17:13

Death himself might possibly exist because supposedly Beedle the Bard witnessed The Peverell brothers defy Death. After seeing the brothers cross a treacherous river using magic they were confronted by Death who then gave them the Deathly Hallows.


The being known as Death is the embodiment of the universal phenomenon marking the end of physical life, and may or may not literally exist. The best–known account of the entity is known as "The Tale of the Three Brothers", and was made famous Beedle the Bard. According to this story, he was the one who witnessed the three Peverell brothers defy him by successfully crossing a deadly and dangerous river using magic.

Quotes from the book

“There were once three brothers who were traveling along a lonely, winding road at twilight. In time, the brothers reached a river too deep to wade through and too dangerous to swim across.. However, these brothers were learned in the magical arts, and so they simply waved their wands and made a bridge appear across the treacherous water. They were halfway across it when they found their path blocked by a hooded figure.

And Death spoke to them. He was angry that he had been cheated out of three new victims, for travelers usually drowned in the river. But Death was cunning. He pretended to congratulate the three brothers upon their magic and said that each had earned a prize for having been clever enough to evade him."

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Chapter Twenty-One

Now the reason in this story that Death created the Hallows to begin with was to claim the wizards that cheated him from claiming them.

The oldest brother was claimed after he defeated a wizard in a duel then boasted in an inn, in which at night he was killed by somebody who wanted the wand.

"That very night, another wizard crept upon the oldest brother as he lay, wine-sodden, upon his bed. The theif took the wand and, for good measure, slit the oldest brother’s throat.

And so Death took the first brother for his own."

The second brother killed himself after discovering that though he could bring back the woman that he wanted to marry she was not supposed to be in this world and was cold and suffering.

"Yet she was sad and cold, separated from him as by a veil. Though she had returned to the mortal world, she did not truly belong there and suffered. Finally the second brother, driven mad with hopeless longing, killed himself so as truly to join her.

And so Death took the second brother for his own."

The last and youngest brother lived to old age because he hid from Death, then gave the cloak to his son and joined Death.

"But though Death searched for the third brother for many years, he was never able to find him. It was only when he had attained a great age that the youngest brother finally took off the Cloak of Invisibility and gave it to his son. And then he greeted Death as an old friend, and went with him gladly, and, equals, they departed this life.”

The only reason I think it might be plausible that Death exists is in this story each Brother was given an item that would eventually lead them to their death so that Death would claim them.

On the flip slide there is no concrete evidence that Death exists as a physical manifestation. The only thing that can be said is that Dumbledore thought that the brothers themselves created the artifacts and that the story was embellished.

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    Dumbledore thought that it was a cock and bull story
    – Tom Lynd
    Commented Apr 22, 2014 at 13:23
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    Apart from the brothers, nobody was the witness...
    – Tom Lynd
    Commented Apr 22, 2014 at 13:31
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    @Voldemort Dumbledore think so, and his guesses are almost always right,thats why
    – Tom Lynd
    Commented Apr 22, 2014 at 14:19
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    Hogwarts does possibly exist because supposedly J.K. Rowling witnessed the events described there. Though my money is on her making it all up, as did Beedle the Bard (or more likely people who invented the tales that he collected ala Brothers Grimm) Commented Apr 22, 2014 at 15:50
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    I would just say that just because one character said that he thinks X character made up the story then it doesn't mean that the story might not be true. Hell look at all the people in Harry Potter who thought that Harry was crazy because he believed that Voldemort was still around.. Commented Sep 22, 2014 at 20:24

Disclaimer: This is an addition rather than stating that Death exists or does not exist. From canon I don't think we can conclude that Death exists. However I just saw something interesting on Pottermore (it seems maybe the article is new or at least it is to me) and something about Dumbledore particularly.

There is apparently a theory about Death being Dumbledore. This is what Pottermore has to say:

Dumbledore is a huge part of J.K. Rowling’s favourite fan theory

When asked about her readers’ ideas, J.K. Rowling referred to the theory about the Peverell brothers, who, according to the legend, each received a Hallow for cheating death. The theory stands that Voldemort was the eldest brother, who was murdered after seeking power with the Elder Wand. Snape was the middle brother, who pined after a dead girl he once loved, and eventually died to join her; while Harry was considered to be the youngest brother, who greeted ‘Death as an old friend’. Since Dumbledore was the one waiting for Harry after the piece of Voldemort inside him was destroyed, one fan suggested that Dumbledore was Death in the tale. Referring to this concept after a fan asked her about her favourite theory, J.K. Rowling tweeted: ‘Dumbledore as death. It's a beautiful theory and it fits.’

So although it's not actually how she meant it to be it is a theory she thinks is beautiful and fits - despite the fact it would be post factum.

Okay but the question is does it work with Dumbledore for Severus and Voldemort too? Certainly it fits for Harry but what about Voldemort?

Voldemort tries to cheat Death (not thinking of Horcruxes here) by obtaining the Elder Wand but what happens? It's not properly won and taking it from the grave is sort of like being handed the wand as if it had no master before (only that in this case the Elder Wand did have a master - Harry - and by not being master Voldemort's curse would backfire on him). And whose grave is it? Dumbledore's. Of course at that point the Elder Wand had already changed loyalty but Dumbledore also spent years working on how to end Voldemort for all: that Voldemort would have Dumbledore killed (even though Dumbledore asked Severus to do so rather than Draco) and then think of using Dumbledore's last wand is as if Dumbledore brought about Voldemort's downfall - with Dumbledore's wand, the Elder Wand.

And what about Severus? Well of course he never held (I don't think so anyway) the Stone (only Hallow he's touched I believe is the Cloak and only temporarily when Harry left it outside the Whomping Willow in PoA) but certainly Severus pined after a girl (who would only live a few short years of adulthood, marry Severus's bully - but Severus still loved her 'Always'). Although in the tale the brother actually was to marry the woman but for an untimely death it could be said that Severus's tendency to Dark magic was not only the cause of Lily's death (indirectly) but also the cause of death of their friendship breaking apart. I can't quite put together how the Resurrection Stone applies here except that Severus would rather be dead; however he spends the rest of his life at great risk trying to take down Voldemort and simultaneously protect Harry as best he can. But if we think about Dumbledore being Death Severus died carrying out what Dumbledore demanded (and Severus also delayed the curse on the ring) and trying to make amends to his actions. It's not to say that Severus would rejoin Lily in that way (but who knows?) but he would at least no longer be tormented in the world. And being able to give Harry his memories meant he could finally show Harry how much he loved his mother and how complicated he was.

This doesn't imply that Death is real because Dumbledore wasn't alive at the time at the very least; but it's a nice way to imagine it and the imagination is what makes reading so wonderful and unique: we can interpret words whatever way we want and for fiction it needn't matter if one interpretation is correct as long as the reader enjoys it (try telling others that they're wrong is different however and it also contributes to taking away the magic of imaginations). And Rowling loves this theory, says its beautiful and even fits.

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    As a side mention, the theory is unrelated to the question. It's about the analogy between the figures of Deathly Hallows and those mentioned in the tale. Even if Dumbledore is analogous to Death from the tale, that makes zero statement in either direction on whether Death exists as a character (except maybe "it's not supposed to matter").
    – Egor Hans
    Commented Mar 17, 2021 at 9:43
  • @EgorHans Unrelated? Sure. Uninteresting? No. Maybe it'd be more useful as a comment but it's too long for a comment and it complements the answer.
    – Pryftan
    Commented Jun 4, 2023 at 20:31

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