In Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix chapter 36, we see Professor Dumbledore dueling with the Dark Lord in the Ministry of Magic. From their exchange, it seems that Professor Dumbledore is not fighting to kill.

‘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 nothing had happened to interrupt his stroll up the hall. ‘Merely taking your life would not satisfy me, I admit –’

Why did Professor Dumbledore not try to kill the Dark Lord?

At that time, Professor Dumbledore may have suspected that the Dark Lord has another Horcrux, so he would not truly die, but only become a bodyless spirit. Even so, that would have been a huge setback to the Dark Lord’s plans, as evidenced from Professor Dumbledore’s explanation in Philosopher’s Stone chapter 17.

‘[… Voldemort] is still out there somewhere, perhaps looking for another body to share … not being truly alive, he cannot be killed. He left Quirrell to die; he shows just as little mercy to his followers as his enemies. Nevertheless, Harry, while you may only have delayed his return to power, it will merely take someone else who is prepared to fight what seems a losing battle next time – and if he is delayed again, and again, why, he may never return to power.’

This question may be a special case of Why should the Horcruxes be destroyed first?


1 Answer 1


Dumbledore knew Trelawney's prophecy:

"The one with the power to vanquish the Dark Lord approaches... Born to those who have thrice defied him, born as the seventh month dies... and the Dark Lord will mark him as his equal, but he will have power the Dark Lord knows not... and either must die at the hand of the other for neither can live while the other survives... The one with the power to vanquish the Dark Lord will be born as the seventh month dies..."

Emphasis mine.

Here, the prophecy says that there is one with the power to vanquish the Dark Lord, and that the Dark Lord must die at the hand of that one.

Dumbledore knows he is not the one to kill Voldemort. He even knows that Harry is that one.

Supposing Dumbledore did attempt to kill Voldemort at this time, there are possible consequences:

  • He doesn't know if Voldemort has a contingency plan for his body getting destroyed this time (it may not take another decade for him to come back, especially since he followers now know he can be resurrected)
  • Dumbledore may not be around for the next time Voldemort reappears
  • The circumstances involving Voldemort's next return, and his followers, would change and require new intel (better the enemy you know than the one you don't)
  • He might not be able to kill Voldemort, if the prophecy is literal, and so any killing curses might just miss (and maybe hit someone else)
  • If, at this time, Dumbledore already suspects that Voldemort's use of Harry's blood during his resurrection may be key to Harry living in the end, then he wouldn't want to have Voldemort get a new body because it wouldn't tether Harry to life in their final battle
  • It would require Dumbledore to use killing curses

In short, by not attempting to kill Voldemort at that time, Dumbledore was demonstrating farsightedness and good strategy.

  • Yeah, those sound like possible reasons, but I wonder if they were worth all the lives the war has taken. Do you suppose Peter would have given his other hand for his master?
    – b_jonas
    Jan 4, 2015 at 22:43
  • I further wonder if Professor Dumbledore wanted to avoid everyone finding out about the Dark Lord's Horcruxes, because then he may have made their protection stronger.
    – b_jonas
    Jan 4, 2015 at 22:45
  • They wouldn't have necessarily discovered the Horcruxes, they may have just assumed he was using some dark magic to survive. As for Peter, that was only one method used to bring Voldemort back. He may have had other methods at his disposal, especially if more than just 1 servant aided him.
    – user31178
    Jan 5, 2015 at 0:15
  • "You are putting too much stock in the prophecy!"
    – Bishop
    Oct 25, 2016 at 18:20

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