We are independent & ad-supported. We may earn a commission for purchases made through our links.
Advertiser Disclosure
Our website is an independent, advertising-supported platform. We provide our content free of charge to our readers, and to keep it that way, we rely on revenue generated through advertisements and affiliate partnerships. This means that when you click on certain links on our site and make a purchase, we may earn a commission. Learn more.
How We Make Money
We sustain our operations through affiliate commissions and advertising. If you click on an affiliate link and make a purchase, we may receive a commission from the merchant at no additional cost to you. We also display advertisements on our website, which help generate revenue to support our work and keep our content free for readers. Our editorial team operates independently of our advertising and affiliate partnerships to ensure that our content remains unbiased and focused on providing you with the best information and recommendations based on thorough research and honest evaluations. To remain transparent, we’ve provided a list of our current affiliate partners here.

In Harry Potter, what is a Death Eater?

Mary McMahon
Updated May 23, 2024
Our promise to you
Language & Humanities is dedicated to creating trustworthy, high-quality content that always prioritizes transparency, integrity, and inclusivity above all else. Our ensure that our content creation and review process includes rigorous fact-checking, evidence-based, and continual updates to ensure accuracy and reliability.

Our Promise to you

Founded in 2002, our company has been a trusted resource for readers seeking informative and engaging content. Our dedication to quality remains unwavering—and will never change. We follow a strict editorial policy, ensuring that our content is authored by highly qualified professionals and edited by subject matter experts. This guarantees that everything we publish is objective, accurate, and trustworthy.

Over the years, we've refined our approach to cover a wide range of topics, providing readers with reliable and practical advice to enhance their knowledge and skills. That's why millions of readers turn to us each year. Join us in celebrating the joy of learning, guided by standards you can trust.

Editorial Standards

At Language & Humanities, we are committed to creating content that you can trust. Our editorial process is designed to ensure that every piece of content we publish is accurate, reliable, and informative.

Our team of experienced writers and editors follows a strict set of guidelines to ensure the highest quality content. We conduct thorough research, fact-check all information, and rely on credible sources to back up our claims. Our content is reviewed by subject-matter experts to ensure accuracy and clarity.

We believe in transparency and maintain editorial independence from our advertisers. Our team does not receive direct compensation from advertisers, allowing us to create unbiased content that prioritizes your interests.

One of the important themes of the Harry Potter novels is the idea of good versus evil, personified by the battle between Harry Potter and Lord Voldemort. Each individual has a following of individuals that support his cause: in the case of Harry Potter, these individuals comprise most of the wizarding world, fighting to avoid takeover by Voldemort. Lord Voldemort, however, has a select band of witches and wizards known as Death Eaters to carry out his wishes and support his aim of eventual domination of wizarding society. In order to be considered a Death Eater, someone must be loyal to Lord Voldemort, and willing to commit acts of terror on his behalf. Furthermore, once accepted as a Death Eater, an individual cannot remove him or herself from the organization except by death.

The exact number of people known to be Death Eaters is unclear in the books, although it sounds like a small group. Lucius Malfoy is known to be a Death Eater, along with other members of pure blood families, and many children of Death Eaters attend Hogwarts. Many of these children are in Slytherin House, but J.K. Rowling has indicated that other houses may contain the children of Death Eaters as well, suggesting that Voldemort's organization may be extremely widespread. There are also indicators that the Death Eaters may be a worldwide organization, given the membership of Igor Karkaroff, and the foreign names of some other Death Eaters.

It is assumed that a wizard or witch must be a pure blood in order to be a Death Eater, because Voldemort wants to eliminate families with muggle heritage, even though his own father was a muggle. Certainly, most of the Death Eaters take pride in being pure blood wizards, and look down upon wizards of mixed blood. It is also suggested that being a Death Eater is accompanied by being evil, because the Death Eaters regularly carry out acts of terror including murder and torture for amusement. Many muggle killings are linked with the Death Eaters, who are seen tormenting a muggle family in Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire. Most of the Death Eaters have also performed Unforgivable Curses, and have spent some time in Azkaban, the wizarding prison, as a result. A certain twisted sensibility may be required in order to be a successful Death Eater.

The Death Eater uniform appears to be a hooded black robe and a white or silver mask obscuring the upper portion of the face. In addition, every Death Eater wears a brand of the Dark Mark, Voldemort's symbol, on his or her arm. Voldemort can use the Dark Marks to communicate with his followers, as they will turn black when he requires their presence. The Dark Mark combines two symbols associated with Voldemort: a grinning skull and a snake, and is also used to mark homes which have been visited by the Death Eaters, in the form of a large illuminated Dark Mark which will hover over the location.

Language & Humanities is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
Mary McMahon
By Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a Language & Humanities researcher and writer. Mary has a liberal arts degree from Goddard College and spends her free time reading, cooking, and exploring the great outdoors.

Discussion Comments
By bythewell — On Mar 03, 2014

@clintflint - Well, I mean, House Black managed to produce the most rabid female death eater, (Bellatrix) but they also produced Sirius and his brother, who ended up as heroes, even though his brother might have been somewhat reluctant.

I actually thought Rowling was pretty good at showing that families don't always follow the same route and that no one is pure evil. It's difficult to really write this kind of story without having a group of people willing to follow an evil leader.

And, honestly, there are always people willing to do that, even in reality. We might think it seems unrealistic because we're reading about both sides, but when you are living it with limited information, you might be surprised what choices people make.

By clintflint — On Mar 02, 2014

@pleonasm - Actually I wish she had gone a bit further with that. I mean, the Slytherin House seemed to be almost uniformly on the side of the Death Eaters even though there was no reason for them to think that Voldemort was necessarily going to win. He had been beaten back over and over, after all, by Albus Dumbledore. Slytherin was supposed to be ruthless and I would have thought that would apply to Voldemort as well.

But then, I guess most of the people we saw from the House were children and they are strongly influenced by their parents, who might have had complex reasons to be on the side of evil.

By pleonasm — On Mar 01, 2014

I liked the fact that Rowling decided not to make Death Eaters uniformly evil towards the end. I mean, Snape was a Death Eater, but he changed sides and Lucius and Draco were also fairly reluctant towards the end.

It showed that they were well rounded characters and weren't just evil for the sake of being evil.

Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a...

Learn more
Language & Humanities, in your inbox

Our latest articles, guides, and more, delivered daily.

Language & Humanities, in your inbox

Our latest articles, guides, and more, delivered daily.