Deathly Hallows:

"Perhaps you already know it? You are a clever man, after all, Severus. You have been a good and faithful servant, and I regret what must happen."

"My Lord."

"The Elder Wand cannot serve me properly, Severus, because I am not its true master. The Elder Wand belongs to the wizard who killed its last owner. You killed Albus Dumbledore. While you live, Severus, the Elder Wand cannot truly be mine."

And Voldemort swiped the air with the Elder Wand. It did nothing to Snape, who for a split second seemed to think he had been reprieved: but then Voldemort's intention became clear. The snake's cage was rolling through the air, and before Snape could do anything more than yell, it had encased him, head and shoulders, and Voldemort spoke in Parseltongue.


There was a terrible scream. Harry saw Snape's face losing the little color it had left; it whitened as his black eyes widened, as the snake's fangs pierced his neck, as he failed to push the enchanted cage off himself, as his knees gave way and he fell to the floor.

"I regret it," said Voldemort coldly.

He turned away; there was no sadness in him, no remorse. It was time to leave this shack and take charge, with a wand that would now do his full bidding. He pointed it at the starry cage holding the snake, which drifted upward, off Snape, who fell sideways onto the floor, blood gushing from the wounds in his neck. Voldemort swept from the room without a backward glance, and the great serpent floated after him in its huge protective sphere.""

Regret Websters Dictionary:

to feel sad or sorry about (something that you did or did not do) : to have regrets about (something)

—used formally and in writing to express sad feelings about something that is disappointing or unpleasant

Remorse Websters Dictionary:

a gnawing distress arising from a sense of guilt for past wrongs. http://www.merriam-webster.com/inter?dest=/dictionary/remorse

VM did say twice "I regret it.". Isn't this almost the same as "remorse"? The second time he says "I regret it." to Snape, Snape has already been attacked and is dying.

Why would VM say "I regret it." to a dying man that poses no threat and VM has nothing to gain from anymore?

On the flip side, he says it coldly, and shows no feeling at the gruesomeness of the event.

JKR has stated multiple times that VM has no feelings, or I guess "good" feelings like love, sympathy, compassion, etc. So what is going on here? Is this just inconsistent writing or is there another reason it's written this way?

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    I would think that 'I regret it' means that he doesn't like to lose a 'good and faithful servant'. – Mithrandir May 31 '15 at 5:11
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    JKR has said on multiple occasions that Voldemort lacked the ability to love, not that he lacked feelings all together. She described him as a true psychopath. Psychopaths are certainly capable of experiencing some feelings. Regardless, this question feels nitpicky to me and I'm not convinced it's useful. I mean really -- how could we possibly know what JKR's intentions were behind each individual word? Or how can we know why she chose word A over word B, when we don't know what Word B might have been? One thing she has said she worded "exceptionally carefully" was Trelawney's prophecy. – Slytherincess May 31 '15 at 5:24
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    A sociopath would regret losing a useful tool or pawn, he feels he could still use Snape for other ends. – user16696 May 31 '15 at 6:05
  • I agree with @slytherincess. Voldemort is portrayed as showing a wide range of emotions whereas this question is predicated on the idea that he has no emotions. – Valorum May 31 '15 at 8:45

To quote dictionary.com:

An example is: She regrets that the television show has been canceled. One can also regret a wrong done, as in: He regrets his mistakes. Remorse describes deep regret, involving anguish or guilt and self-reproach or repentance. Remorse is felt by someone for a sin or wrong they have committed.

Remorse is a deep, emotional regret in which one feels personal responsibility to some level. But regret can be as simple as objectively stating a different outcome would have been preferred without admitting any personal responsibility.

It is completely in keeping with Voldemort's character that he would regret the loss of a valuable tool while feeling no emotional remorse about it.


The Dark Lord regretted that he had to lose a faithful servant.

The Dark Lord didn’t want to kill Snape, but not out of any emotional attachment to him - he considered Snape a useful and loyal Death Eater, so he regretted that he had to kill him and in doing so would end up losing someone he found had been quite useful to him.

“Perhaps you already know it? You are a clever man, after all, Severus. You have been a good and faithful servant, and I regret what must happen.”
- Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Chapter 32 (The Elder Wand)

The Dark Lord believed that the only way to master the Elder Wand was to kill Snape - he didn’t actually want to lose a Death Eater who was skilled and he believed to be truly loyal, but he thought it was the only way to master the Elder Wand and be able to defeat Harry Potter.

“While you live, Severus, the Elder Wand cannot be truly mine.’

‘My Lord!’ Snape protested, raising his wand.

‘It cannot be any other way,’ said Voldemort. ‘I must master the wand, Severus. Master the wand, and I master Potter at last.”
- Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Chapter 32 (The Elder Wand)

The Dark Lord saw Snape as a valuable Death Eater so he ideally wouldn’t have wanted to kill him. He knew he needed followers to properly rule the wizarding world, and he didn’t kill indiscriminately. If he could have servants rather than just corpses, he preferred that - he even let the people who were fighting him at Hogwarts have a chance to switch sides and join him rather than just killing him. Snape was a skilled wizard who the Dark Lord believed was already on his side, so although he’d be willing to kill him in order to master the Elder Wand, the Dark Lord would have indeed preferred a way that would let him have both the Elder Wand and Snape still alive to serve him.


I believe it is to show that Voldemort doesn't actually regret killing Snape: he had no trouble killing his own father, after all... However, when you kill a man who has served you for the past thirteen-plus-years, it's possible that even Voldemort felt that he must say something of his passing. Thus an "I regret it", much like a child who says sorry when he doesn't mean it, is a way of him trying to erase his own responsibility in the murder. I feel that's what Voldemort's character is like: he doesn't like getting into trouble.

As a side-note, maybe he regretted killing Snape when, as shown by Harry later on, a simple "expelliarmus!" always works fine ;)

  • I'm not sure I understand what you're saying. Remember he did say it after Snape was helpless and dying. I also never felt like VM didn't want to take responsibility for his actions, to the contrary he loved the attention and notoriety. It also helps in an answer if you add a quote or something from canon to support your assertions. Feel free to edit it if you like. – JMFB May 31 '15 at 21:24

He's clearly lying. It's as simple as that. Notice that while he says he regrets it, he shows no emotion whatsoever. He's just doing the classic sociopath thing of portraying himself as justified and shifting the blame for his actions.

  • Do you have a source for the fact he's showing no emotion? I'm unsure how one would show emotion if no emotion was mentioned by the author. – Edlothiad May 30 '18 at 8:13

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