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Is Dumbledore Really Dead?

Mary McMahon
By
Updated May 23, 2024
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Readers of Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince were dismayed by the apparent death of Albus Dumbledore, Headmaster of Hogwarts, Chief Mugwump of the International Confederation of Wizards, and Chief Warlock of the Wizengamot. He is a crucial character in the Harry Potter books and in the development of Harry Potter himself. The wizard seems to have an unerring instinct for sources of danger, and wisely guides the other characters through perilous situations.

Dumbledore's death scene on top of the astronomy tower and subsequent funeral did leave many readers wondering if he was actually, in fact, dead. Many readers feel that a wizard with the strength and powers of Dumbledore could not possibly be killed, and may be faking his own death for reasons of his own which would become apparent in the next book, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows. Much to the disappointment of readers, J.K. Rowling has said that Dumbledore is in fact dead. Since he has mentioned that “to the well organized wizard, death is but the next great adventure,” perhaps his death is not as awful as readers think it is.

The death scene clearly suggests that Dumbledore did, in fact, die. The primary evidence for this is that the spell which bound Harry Potter into place was released when Dumbledore fell from the tower. Given existing evidence about how spells work, Dumbledore would had to have died for the spell to be lifted, unless another character, such as Severus Snape, knew that Harry was on the tower and performed a non-verbal spell to release him to trick Harry, and readers, into thinking that the wizard is dead. Furthermore, when Harry enters the headmaster's office after his apparent death, Dumbledore has appeared in the portraits of headmasters past, who presumably are all dead.

Some readers have argued that Dumbledore consumed the Draught of Living Death, which made him appear to be dead. During the climactic scene at his funeral when Fawkes, his phoenix, flies overhead and his tomb catches fire, perhaps Dumbledore escaped with Fawkes to safety. The fact that his tomb changes shape, concealing the evidence of a body, does lend credence to this theory. When this was brought up with Rowling, she merely repeated that Dumbledore was truly dead. Since she seems unlikely to allow his body to be used as an Inferius, one can assume that his body is inside his tomb.

What Rowling did not say whether or not Dumbledore would come back in the final book. Previous books have shown that the portraits of famous witches and wizards seem to have a bit of their spirit as well. In those books, readers have seen the wizards in the portraits offering advice or spying on remote locations through other portraits of themselves. The portraits are not quite ghosts, yet not quite alive, either. It seems probable that Dumbledore will speak to characters through his portrait, perhaps offering guidance and suggestions, just as he did of old, although he will not be able to physically assist Harry in his quest to defeat Voldemort. Some readers are also hoping that they will find out what Dumbledore sees in the Mirror of Erised, as most suspect that it is not, in fact, socks.

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 anon163526 — On Mar 28, 2011

Even though evidence tells you that dumbledore is dead, i refuse to believe it because such a great wizard --almost undefeatable -- cannot die that easily. Also he and Snape were in a master plan to protect harry.

By anon160928 — On Mar 17, 2011

He has to be dead or Snape would have died because of the unbreakable vow. Duh!

By anon151106 — On Feb 09, 2011

i think he is still alive. when i saw the movie, i cried that dumbledore died. it's so hard to believe but i think he's alive!

By anon128551 — On Nov 19, 2010

if the books says he is dead, he must be dead, unless the director of the movie wants to create a kind of else-world story where Dumbledore is alive.

By anon127867 — On Nov 17, 2010

As said by Mr. Weasley and Professor (I don't remember) Dumbledore trusts Snape. I believe this is just a ploy to get close to Voldemort. I believe Snape will be a good guy in the end, otherwise they would have killed him.

By anon125181 — On Nov 08, 2010

Dumbledore won't appear in the deathly hallows 1. I saw it, but i like to think that all his strength will join harry's magic somehow.

By Siddharth Rishav — On Nov 02, 2010

i don't think that dumbledore really dies because the chant which cursed dumbledore made him fall down from the tower, whereas the same curse on Sirius Black made him die and turned him into smoke. --SIDDHARTH

By Niskd1 — On Jul 02, 2010

In the books, he clearly dies. If he is in the movies, then they are different from how it really is.

By anon93112 — On Jul 01, 2010

Obviously he is not dead as he is appearing in the next two installments of Harry Potter. The deathly hollows part 1 and 2.

By Niskd1 — On May 13, 2010

He can die. He is dead. Period.

By anon79370 — On Apr 22, 2010

he cannot die. period.

By anon72079 — On Mar 21, 2010

what about the bird? my aunt said that the bird is alive and so he should be too.

By anon60600 — On Jan 14, 2010

he is alive, snape is not really bad, and harry will defeat the unmentionable.

By anon57588 — On Dec 24, 2009

he's dead. I read the book!

By anon56110 — On Dec 12, 2009

You know how you feel when you completely love a character and then they kill him off. Totally ruined Harry Potter for me.

By anon55233 — On Dec 06, 2009

"He might not be completely dead. He might be like Tom Riddle and split himself so unless they killed the other half he could still be alive."

that would have required dumbledore to kill someone. i don't think he did that.

By anon47404 — On Oct 04, 2009

"Dumbledore's death scene clearly suggests that he did, in fact, die. The primary evidence for this is that the spell which bound Harry Potter into place was released when Dumbledore fell from the tower. Given existing evidence about how spells work, Dumbledore would had to have died for the spell to be lifted." O.K. I, on the other hand, believe that the primary evidence for his death was that he was hit by a killing curse, fell off a tower, and then has a funural involving his body. People and their denial about the death of fictional characters. I'm in love with dumbledore as well (not quite as much as ginny though. i'm sorry I had to metion this. but I love ginny. a lot) But none the less, it's pretty obvious that he died. :)

By anon40048 — On Aug 05, 2009

He might not be completely dead. He might be like Tom Riddle and split himself so unless they killed the other half he could still be alive.

By anon39994 — On Aug 05, 2009

i don't really think that he is dead. he can't be. The film to this book has just been released and it said snape is the half blood prince and i think he faked the spell or something so Draco Malfoy didn't die. Snape is also one of Dumbledore's friends. he would never kill him. Also Snape said something to Dumbledore like 'don't you think that you take too much for granted?' which must mean Snape is a double agent.

By anon39100 — On Jul 30, 2009

i really don't think he is really dead. I think he is faking it because a) when anyone dies you always see their 'spirit' or 'ghost' rise up into the air and disappear and b) he kept saying "I know what i'm doing" lots of times, so he must have had a plan all along.

Anyone agree?

By anon36928 — On Jul 15, 2009

dumbledore is dead. he was killed by avada kedvadra, which is unshieldable. he then fell off the astronomy tower which is a good 200 ft. face it the old and greatest wizard is and will always be dead

By anon4331 — On Oct 14, 2007

I knew he would come back in some way! Just like Gandalf!

By anon2672 — On Jul 20, 2007

My first question is

1.Is harry james potter is seventh horocrux?

2.Has dumbledore given him protection of love on dying as his mother has did so before?

3.I just don't understand what the prophecy actually means ?

Mary McMahon

Mary McMahon

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

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