The issue never seems to be directly addressed in the books, but in tGoF Voldemort mentions one of his motivations for a public duel with Harry being an intent to show that the "Boy who Lived" was simply lucky and did not provide any substantial opposition to their path to power.

However, in the graveyard Harry resists the Imperius Curse, dodges several of Voldemort's spells, wins a battle of wands, and successfully escapes with a whole horde of the top Death Eaters present.

Voldemort spends time in the next year trying to pull Harry into a trap in the Ministry which requires at least some Death Eaters to be constantly on standby, and despite eventually falling for the trap (months of effort), Voldemort does not obtain his ultimate goal, fails to kill Harry again despite arriving in person, and even exposes himself to the Ministry.

In the Battle of the Seven Potters Harry manages to ward off Voldemort once again due to some wand-lore, but it appears as a bit of particularly powerful magic to outside observers such as Hagrid.

That isn't even mentioning all of Harry's other small victories that might have gotten notice (e.g. gobbing Gringotts and escaping on a dragon). As readers we know that a lot of what Harry does has special circumstance behind it, but to a group of outside observers it seems like elevating him to mythic status could be very possible.

So is there evidence that the Death Eaters have some doubts when it comes to Voldemort's constant attempts to be dismissive of Harry's prowess? Is it possible Harry Potter is seen as an up-and-coming Dumbledore replacement?

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    Well, the occupied ministry does acknoledge Harry as a rallying point for those opposing the new regime (Undesirable #1 and such) and with the exception of a few select Death Eaters like Bellatrix, after Harry disappears from Hagrid's arms just when Neville decaps Nagini, they scramble, so they clearly have lost their faith in their boss...
    – BMWurm
    Commented Mar 31, 2015 at 13:33
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    @BMWurm They did not scramble because they lost faith in their boss, they scrambled because the centaurs were shooting arrows into the Death Eaters' rank. No one but Hagrid realized that Harry was missing. Commented Apr 1, 2015 at 1:41

2 Answers 2


Personally, I think the answer to this lies within the Deathly Hallows book.

At the end of the book, Harry enters the Forbidden Forest, prepared to die at Voldemort's hand. However, something goes wrong after Voldemort casts the Killing Curse, as Voldemort too is knocked off his feet and we, as the readers, are led to believe that he was even possibly knocked unconscious (we don't know the full details of what happened in the forest while Harry was unconscious and talking to Dumbledore).

The first thing Voldemort asks, upon returning to his feet, is if "the boy" e.g. Harry, is dead, but none of his Death Eaters, including Bellatrix seems to be willing to approach Harry. It isn't until Narcissa Malfoy is ordered by Voldemort to check Harry to ensure he is, in fact, dead.

The fact that none of the Death Eaters volunteered to be the one to tell old Voldy the good news, suggests that many of them were indeed afraid that something went wrong, and that Harry was indeed still a threat.

I apologize for not being able to provide page numbers or exact quotes, but I do not have the book with me at the moment.

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    p.581 (British edition), “‘The boy ... is he dead?’ – There was complete silence in the clearing. Nobody approached Harry, but he felt their concentrated gaze, it seemed to press him harder into the ground, and he was terrified a finger or an eyelid might twitch. – ‘You,’ said Voldemort, and there was a bang and a small shriek of pain. ‘Examine him. Tell me whether he is dead.’” Commented Mar 31, 2015 at 22:53
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    I'm not sure we can interpret this that none of them wanted to approach Harry out of fear he might still be alive – perhaps they were just too afraid of Voldemort, in all his madness on that night, to make a step not explicitly ordered by him. But it's definitely a good observation. Commented Mar 31, 2015 at 23:02

The Death Eaters seem to express no doubts about Voldemort's prowess as compared to Harry Potter, almost up to the point of his demise.

In fact, whenever we get an internal description of their feelings, it's usually to simply underscore their sheer terror at his (literally) violent moodswings.

Again, Voldemort looked up at the slowly revolving body as he went on, ‘I shall attend to the boy in person. There have been too many mistakes where Harry Potter is concerned. Some of them have been my own. That Potter lives is due more to my errors, than to his triumphs.’

The company round the table watched Voldemort apprehensively, each of them, by his or her expression, afraid that they might be blamed for Harry Potter’s continued existence. Voldemort, however, seemed to be speaking more to himself than to any of them, still addressing the unconscious body above him.

‘I have been careless, and so have been thwarted by luck and chance, those wreckers of all but the best laid plans. But I know better now. I understand those things that I did not understand before. I must be the one to kill Harry Potter, and I shall be.’ HP:DH

Snape (a known Death Eater) also weighs in on his feelings about the boy;

‘Of course, it became apparent to me very quickly that he had no extraordinary talent at all. He has fought his way out of a number of tight corners by a simple combination of sheer luck and more talented friends. He is mediocre to the last degree, though as obnoxious and self-satisfied as was his father before him. I have done my utmost to have him thrown out of Hogwarts, where I believe he scarcely belongs, but kill him, or allow him to be killed in front of me? I would have been a fool to risk it, with Dumbledore close at hand.’

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    Snape's commentary on the matter isn't really valuable as he has plenty of incentive to obscure the truth in any interaction with a Death Eater. In addition Snape feeling Harry is nothing special is far different as he has actually interacted with him on a regular basis. The question isn't what people close to Harry think, but what people who only have glimpses at Harry believe.
    – Patrick
    Commented Apr 1, 2015 at 11:22
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    @patrick - I was thinking more about the fact that No-one contradicts him, and also about his ability to influence opinion about Harry
    – Valorum
    Commented Apr 1, 2015 at 11:37
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    I think it is safe to say that even if someone believed otherwise they would not argue it openly. However his ability to influence opinion may be important. Snape was obviously depending on Harry to destroy the Horcruxes at the time and had incentive to downplay Harry as much as possible. It may be that without Snape that Harry would have been given a good deal more credit, at least in whispers.
    – Patrick
    Commented Apr 1, 2015 at 12:17
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    The Death Eaters are more scared of Voldemort than they are of Harry, given that the former is usually much closer at hand, and has shown himself to be much more inclined to kill or torture people. But that they regard Harry as a threat seems probable. Don’t forget, some people even believed that he had defeated Voldemort when he was a baby because he was a powerful dark wizard. Then Harry defeats Voldemort in combat (apparently) in GoF, in full view of all the Death Eaters.... No one was going to say anything of course, but they would be exceedingly foolish not to see Harry as dangerous.
    – Adamant
    Commented Jan 16, 2017 at 23:22

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