Is Dumbledore Dead?

Three of the most intensely debated questions surrounding Half-Blood Prince and Book 7 are “Is Harry a Horcrux?”, “Will Harry Die?”, and “Is Dumbledore Dead?” This essay (and it certainly must be essay-length) will examine the third question.

The question is more intriguing than I imagined it to be. After expressing absolute certainty that Dumbledore was dead, the reading of a few theories forced me to at least reconsider. I will present four different views on the death of Dumbledore. Two views argue that Dumbledore is dead, two that he is not. I’ll leave counterarguments to you in the comment thread.

Dumbledore is Dead

This view needs two variations, though they amount to the same thing. Really, the variations depend entirely on your view of Snape (indeed, it has become impossible to think of the one apart from the other at this point in the series).

Let’s first look at some general support for Dumbledore’s being dead.

  • J.K. Rowling has called death the “most important theme” of the series. She’s not interested in trifling with the subject, and has been very clear that a dead person cannot come back to life in the Wizarding World. This is not enough to prove him dead, but we must consider this: Would Rowling put us through the death, funeral, and grieving of one of the most beloved characters of the series only to say, “Woops! Just kidding! Not dead!”? It’s hard to fathom, though possible, I suppose.
  • Dumbledore’s views on death seem to mean he is ready and willing to accept it when the time comes. His death is foreshadowed over and over during the trip to the cave, and in particular when he explains that Harry is more valuable than he is.
  • Fawkes’s lament is almost unexplainable if Dumbledore is not really dead. I’ve yet to read a satisfactory explanation for why Fawkes would be singing his lament song.
  • The portrait in the Headmaster’s Office doesn’t make a lot of sense if Dumbledore is alive.

With these in mind, let’s explore the options.

Option #1: Dumbledore is dead, because Evil Snape killed him. This is by far the clearest, face-value reading of the text. Dumbledore trusted Snape; Harry and many others did not. According to this view, it was a mistake for Dumbledore to trust Snape as he did, and on the astronomy tower, Snape revealed his true loyalties, murdering the Headmaster. And after all, Harry was right about Malfoy; why not about Snape also?

In favor of this view, we have a large amount of evidence from Half-Blood Prince. In the first place, you have the Unbreakable Vow and the rest of the dialogue at Spinner’s End. Rowling basically begins her novel with Snape’s point by point refutation of most of the “Snape is Good” arguments. Snape’s past as a Death Eater, as well as his year teaching Defense Against the Dark Arts, do not work in favor of a Good Snape reading. Nor his ostensible attempts to help Draco throughout the year.

Jeremy has given us an excellent and plausible version of this argument: Snape was torn between the good and bad sides, and ultimately chose the wrong one on the Astronomy Tower. This view takes into account the canonical evidence we have for Snape’s goodness and badness, and ultimately results in a vote for “bad.” Essential to the argument is the fact that one must actually “mean it” when attempting to perform an unforgiveable curse. Had Snape just been pretending or killing Albus on his orders, it would be hard to imagine a “good” Snape conjuring up an actual hatred for Albus and an enjoyment in killing him.

This view also takes into account Harry’s idea that Dumbledore didn’t want Snape to have the DADA job, because it would entice him back toward the Dark Side. Perhaps he was right, after all.

Option #2: Dumbledore is dead, and Good Snape killed him. In this version, Dumbledore is still quite dead, but when Snape killed him, it was on Dumbledore’s orders. There are a few important aspects of this theory.

“Stoppered Death” – Cathy Leisner’s “Stoppered Death” theory has been given much attention, and perhaps rightly so (see the relevant sections in this essay by Granger). It has been noted that Snape’s first potions lesson was referenced at least six times in Half-Blood Prince, including the bezoar incident. “Stoppered Death” theory argues that Dumbledore suffered an injury that would have led to his death when he destroyed the ring horcrux, if not for Dumbledore’s “prodigious skill and Snape’s timely action” (HBP-23). Snape’s “timely action,” it is argued, was to put a “stopper” in Dumbledore’s inevitable death. In that case, when Snape pulled the trigger on Dumbledore on the tower, Dumbledore was pretty much dead already – his death had just been delayed a bit.

There is a strong parallel here to what Dumbledore told Harry about Nicholas and Perenelle Flamel at the end of Philosopher’s Stone. He told Harry, during his first great lesson about death, that the Flamels had enough elixir to set their affairs in order before dying. That’s a brilliant set-up to the “stoppered death” theory, in which Dumbledore used the potion long enough to discover what he needed to about Voldemort and pass the information along to Harry, i.e., set his affairs in order.

The Unbreakable Vow is the next important part of this theory. We know, of course, about the vow Snape made with Narcissa. We also know about an argument between Snape and Dumbledore, in which Snape felt Dumbledore was asking too much of him. According to this theory, Dumbledore was explaining to Snape that he was going to have to eventually kill him, in order to maintain his cover. In fact, the move of Snape to DADA teacher fits this whole theory perfectly. Think about it: the DADA position is cursed, so that no one would be able to stay in that position more than one year. Dumbledore is on death’s doorstep, “stoppered” by Snape, and he now knows about the Draco plot and the unbreakable vow. It is therefore inevitable that the attempt on Dumbledore’s life would occur in that year, and Snape would have to fulfill his vow. So Dumbledore moves him to DADA teacher, since he would only make it a year anyway. In short, Dumbledore uses Voldemort’s own curse against him to protect his spy.

There are two variations about what happened on the Astronomy Tower, then. The face value reading is simply this: Snape killed Dumbledore with the Killing Curse, just as it appeared. But I think Jeremy’s point that you’ve got to “mean” it should be taken into account, and the odd way that the AK curse acted (detailed below) must also be answered.

So another reading might go this way: Snape shows up on the tower. The weakened Dumbledore says, “Severus…please,” and with Legilimency is telling Snape, “It’s time. You have to maintain your cover. You have to kill me.” Snape, however, entirely loyal to Dumbledore, is unable to really “mean” an AK curse against him. So he casts Avada Kedavra, which produces a green light but has barely any power to it, and non-verbally casts Expelliarmus, knocking Dumbledore off the tower. The weakened Dumbledore dies as a result of the fall, not the Killing Curse.

I’m sure there are other variations. The death of Dumbledore seems so certain, however, that I’ll spend the remainder of this present work presenting the alternative theories. Let’s move on to faked deaths, polyjuice potions, and all sorts of fun speculation.

Dumbledore is not Dead

Shortly after the release of Half-Blood Prince, was launched. Dave Haber pointed to many of the irregularities surrounding Dumbledore’s death. These have spawned a variety of “what really happened that night” theories that cannot simply be pushed aside. First, let’s look at Haber’s evidence; then we’ll explore two potentially worthy theories. [I will only be including evidence that I think convincing. Fawkes not attempting to save Dumbledore, for example, is quite inconclusive, in my opinion]. There are two pieces of evidence in particular that are worth our time; the others are helpful to the theory, but this is the bare minimum that we need to establish doubt about Dumbledore’s death.

UK vs. US versions – This one is interesting: The US version contains a fascinating line that does not appear in the UK version. As Dumbledore is trying to spare Draco by convincing him to come to the “right side,” and the Order can hide him, the US version contains this cryptic line: “He cannot kill you if you are already dead.” Dumbledore then explains to a US audience that Voldemort probably expected Draco to die in the attempt anyway. Apparently, Dumbledore had “fake death” on the brain that night on the tower; this at least reveals that he has the capacity to fake a death quite convincingly.

Avada Kedavra and the Slow Fall– When Harry hears “Expelliarmus!” and is frozen moments prior, he is confused, because expelliarmus is not a freezing charm. This could be JKR’s “subtext” clue to be looking for spells and curses that don’t act right during this scene. Any way you look at it, the AK curse behaved very strangely on the Astronomy tower. In every other example (except Harry, of course), a green jet of light hits the victim, felling him immediately. Not so with Dumbledore. Read the description for yourself:

A jet of green light shot from the end of Snape’s wand and hit Dumbledore squarely in the chest. Harry’s scream of horror never left him; silently he was forced to watch as Dumbledore was blasted into the air. For a split second, he seemed to hang suspended beneath the shining skull, and then he slowly fell backward, like a great rag doll, over the battlements and out of sight. (596)

Weird, huh? The “slow fall” is particularly interesting. Why would an AK curse cause a “slow fall”? Why would it even lift the victim into the air and cause him to hang suspended? Very odd indeed. We do, of course, have an interesting precedent for what might have happened: When Harry fell off his broom in PoA, Dumbledore rushed to the field and slowed his fall down. Was there someone on the ground slowing his fall? Was a still-alive Dumbledore slowing his own fall? Did Snape cast another spell non-verbally that merely dumped Dumbledore slowly over the battlements and set him down peacefully on the ground? Let’s explore some theories.

Option #1 – Dumbledore is not dead, because he planned, with Good Snape, to fake his own death. Why would he do this? To be able to hunt down Voldemort’s horcruxes in secret, of course (not that Dumbledore will do the actual work; that’s Harry’s job. But you’ve got to admit he’d be invaluable behind the scenes). In this theory, Snape and Dumbledore had planned this all along, at least after the Unbreakable Vow was made. This would even better help us to understand Dumbledore’s implicit trust in Snape, and it would explain the odd way the curse acted and the slow fall. Snape didn’t kill Dumbledore with an AK curse; he cast a weak AK curse that wouldn’t have killed a mosquito (because he didn’t mean it), and nonverbally cast another to levitate him and set him down on the ground (or perhaps someone else in on the scheme – Hagrid? – was at the bottom of the tower, slowing the fall).

What about the body, then? Consider for a moment the Draught of Living Death, a potion mentioned in Snape’s first potions lesson way back when (and we’ve already seen the importance of various elements of that lesson). The Draught of Living Death, which puts one in an incredibly deep sleep, would do the trick for a faked death. We’ve seen almost everything else from the first potions lesson used, and it’s rare that JKR throws details like that out without following up on them (consider, for example, the use of the potions mentioned in Slughorn’s first potions class – all were used in the plot except veritaserum, which got plenty of use in previous books).

Let’s revisit the US textual difference now. How exactly was Dumbledore going to pull off his offer to convince the world that Draco was “already dead,” so he could hide him? Could it be that Dumbledore was carrying in his cloak a bottle of the Draught of Living Death, ready for the moment when he would have to fake his own? According to this theory, that would make a lot of sense.

If Albus was carrying this draught on him, then during or at the end of the slow fall, he drank the potion, and everyone who came near him would have thought him dead. Hagrid, of course, collected the body, and the next time we see the body, who has it? Hagrid. You can probably imagine the scene when Dumbledore wakes up in Hagrid’s care and explains that the death was a setup and that Hagrid would have to play along to help defeat Voldemort (if, of course, Hagrid wasn’t already in on it; and he might have been. He is the only other person in the series, along with Snape, that Dumbledore explicitly claims to trust with his own life). Hagrid, of course, cares for the body until the funeral, and then we get that weird fire and phoenix thing happening at the funeral’s end (all evidence destroyed!).

For an in-depth version of this particular theory, see Joyce’s (Red Hen) Loyaulte Me Lie. I think this theory has its weaknesses, but it does answer some objections that might have sprung to your mind reading this, and it also attempts to tie in the whole prophecy mess (though that’s where I most strongly disagree with Joyce, who thinks Dumbledore manipulated and brought about Voldemort’s reaction to the prophecy in the first place; but the essay is still worth the read).

Option #2 – Dumbledore is not dead, because Slughorn stood in for Dumbledore on the night in question and faked the death scene. I recall reading the cave scene and finding one particular word that Dumbledore says to be out of place: “Oho!” That’s a Slughorn word, I thought. Didn’t sound quite right. Quirky mistake on Rowling’s part, I thought.
Sally Fallo (AKA Gumshoe) of Leaky Cauldron has constructed an interesting theory that the person who went to the cave with Harry that night was not Dumbledore, but Slughorn using Polyjuice Potion. (My link to this essay seems to be broken, and I can’t find the original one I used; 10 points to the house of the person who can locate it for me. Update: Found it! 10 points to me, I guess). Before you roll your eyes and think that I’ve let this blog be taken over by the crazy theories, consider the possible inspiration for Horace Slughorn: a magician named “Horace Goldin.” Since I have the essay before me, but not the original link, I’ll quote a length the relevant sections.

First, note the name similarities that suggest a bit more than coincidence:

Quite similar to Rowling’s descriptions of Slughorn, Goldin was pompous and extremely nimble-fingered, “an unlikely figure for a magician…, round and fleshy, with an oversized nose and thinning hair” who nonetheless “had mastered the dashing, graceful gestures of a swashbuckler.” (Steinmeyer, 284) Horace Goldin developed a silent and fast-paced routine, reminiscent of Slughorn’s two-minute staged death. As a novice, Goldin idolized a more seasoned magician called the Great Albini (how similar to “Albus”). Goldin had a framed portrait of Albini he’d prominently displayed; one evening after a particularly strong performance from Goldin, Albini called on him and taught him the secret of his famous Egg Bag trick, then signed the portrait. (This trick was attributed to a conjurer with another familiar name, Isaac Fawkes, in 1736, according to Edmonds, p. 43)….It should also be noted that Goldin had a big act called “The Tiger God” that he toured extensively, the star of which was his pet tiger named Lily.

Given the name parallels, there seems to be a fairly decent chance that this is the inspiration for Slughorn’s character. (And if Slughorn had a portrait of Dumbledore, that might explain the one in the Headmaster’s office after he “dies”!) What is significant about Goldin is one of his acts, described by an observer:

Milbourne Christopher says of Horace Goldin in The Illustrated History of Magic: “I met Horace Goldin in London in the fall of 1936. At sixty-two he was stout, wore his reading glasses on a black ribbon around his neck, and carried a cane. The tiepin in his cravat sparkled with the jewels he had received from Kings and Queens… ‘Confidentially,’ he said, ‘I have the best act in the world. You must see it as my guest.’ I accepted his invitation…I sat in the front row…Albini’s ‘Egg Bag,’ to which Goldin had added various comedy touches, delighted the audience…Before the curtains closed, Goldin caught a bullet fired at him from a rifle, on the china plate he held in front of his chest.” (315-16) Goldin was noted for this trick, and coincidentally (or not), Dumbledore’s hand is over his chest during the entire tower scene.

Sally’s essay is much more elaborate than this and provides more evidence, some circumstantial, some solid, and some that is a bit of a stretch. Nevertheless, the connections above seem enough to put the theory in the “plausible” list. And think of the genius of the theory as it relates to the potions discussion above. If it was Slughorn who took Harry to the cave and faked the death on the tower, it’s quite possible that we had a night full of potions used by the Potions Master. Many have speculated that Dumbledore used a bit of Felix Felicis that night, which would have explained why he had such an easy time figuring out the cave’s traps and perhaps his youthful energy upon jumping into the water. Obviously, Polyjuice Potion would have to be used. And finally, the Draught of Living Death after the fall over the battlements. Could turn out to be a really brilliant twist.


“Conclusion” is perhaps too strong a word. JKR has left us with enough mystery to have smart readers constructing radically different, yet equally viable theories. Personally, I’m torn. The evidence is inconclusive; none of the theories are so much stronger than another that it’s the clear winner. There may be other great theories out there.

Dumbledore has been my favorite character of the series. Sure, I’d love to see more of him…but I’m not sure I want Dumbledore to be the kind of person who would fake his death and deceive the wizarding world like that. At the same time, Rowling has surprised us with great storytelling, and she might just be able to pull off something like that.

I’m sure I’ve missed points of each argument, and I’m sure you’ll see objections to each. I’ll take them up and expand the theories in the comments.

33 thoughts on “Is Dumbledore Dead?

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  2. Hey Travis,

    Great post on the options. I for one am still of the mind that Dumbledore IS dead, but some of the ideas you threw out in the “Dumble is not dead” options were intriguing. I think that if Good Snape killed him, he did NOT use the Avada Kedavra, only said that, and non-verbally he expelliaramus’ed him and made him slowly fall, at the same time undoing the “stoppered death” that he had administered the previous summer. I just think it makes the most sense– but you’re right– Rowling could surprise us. Thanks for making me want to re-read all the books again to look for clues from earlier works.

  3. I don’t think Rowling will bring Dumbledore back because it’s seems like such a cheat (such as that one season of Dallas just being a dream. LAME!) I’m of the group that thinks Dumbledore was already dead, or on his way to inevitable death, after getting the ring.

    That said, there is more than enough weird stuff going on around his death, there’s got to be something more than what we ostensibly saw. I certainly took Dumbledore’s plea as a cry for Snape to protect Draco and to finish the job, but what about his funeral and that weird fall from the tower?

  4. Allison, if pressed on the issue, I’d commit myself to pretty much the same option you just laid out.

    meep, having Dumbledore come back could potentially not be cheesy. JKR is probably a good enough storyteller to pull it off. I mean, Dumbledore’s death itself was easy enough to predict; it’s pretty standard fare that the wise old man dies so the hero goes alone. But having Snape pull the trigger? She took an old motif and told it in an excellent way.

  5. Well, I’m convinced Dumbledore is dead and offer the following comments:

    One of the Dumbledore is dead arguments
    is that there were four seasoned Death Eaters on the Tower witnessing Snape, and none of them found anything strange about Dumbledore’s body’s reaction to the AK. If Snape acted to protect his credentials as a DE, then he couldn’t fake an AK in front of people who know what an AK does.

    I’ve looked over all sorts of secondary effects of different spells. The Impediment curse sometimes merely freezes the target without causing them to fall over (as when the members of the DA practiced this spell on each other), but sometimes it’s thrown with enough power that it lifts the target off the ground (Harry’s Impedimenta against Amycus in HBP28). So just because we’ve seen Frank Bryce’s body’s reaction to the AK doesn’t mean that’s the only possible bodily reaction to this curse.

    The AK kills instantly. We’ve only seen one person actually get hit with an AK (Frank Bryce); he had been standing up and he crumpled to the floor when the AK hit him. Harry’s hands were over his face when Cedric was AK’d but Cedric had been standing next to Harry when he got hit, and when Harry looked at his body, Cedric was on his back in a spread-eagled position. He hadn’t crumpled like Frank Bryce. If you are standing up and are hit with an AK that kills you instantly with no secondary effects, and you crumple, your legs will buckle and throw your upper body forward, not backward. If Cedric had merely crumpled, he wouldn’t have ended up on his back with his arms and legs fully extended; ergo, he was thrown in the air and his limbs were flailing (like a rag doll). Also, Dumbledore’s body was described as being supine in a spread-eagled position, which is a pretty strong descriptive link to the AK’d Cedric Diggory’s dead body.

    There isn’t a single instance in the books of anyone’s casting a verbal spell that was trumped by a simultanously cast non-verbal spell, and Rowling wouldn’t cheat by throwing in a resolution that we’ve never seen. She’s playing by the rules, so she can’t fire a gun without showing us the gun first. That’s the problem I have with Red Hen’s magical, invisible shield that blocks the AK thrown at Dumbledore. We’ve seen an AK cast at Harry hit and crack a gravestone he ran behind, but that’s not showing us a gun. That’s saying, well, no I didn’t show you a gun, but I showed you a thin metal tube, and my brilliant character made it into a gun without my telling you. That would be a cheat, and Rowling wouldn’t do it. She tricks, but she doesn’t con, and we’ve been told over and over that you can’t block an AK. Plus, would Dumbledore know about this magical protective device when no one else in the magical world knows about it? Would Dumbledore not have shared it with his OotP colleagues and aurors like Moody?

    Dumbledore’s death was surreal for Harry, and the narrator described Dumbledore as “seeming” to hang for a split second before slowly falling like a rag doll. It took Harry a minute to realize that he wasn’t jinxed anymore, but that horror and shock had been paralyzing him, so Harry’s senses were confounded by what happened. A short time later, Harry and Hagrid were described as moving “dreamlike” toward Dumbledore’s body.

  6. Yeah, I’m am pretty sure that Dumbledore is dead. Thats not only because of the evidence at the tower, but I also think that he WAS GOING TO DIE ANYWAY. HE knew that he was going to die. Thats why he made the effort to tutor Harry in the importance of the horcruxes and actually made him follow him to the caves…. Dumbledore knew that he was going to die, and had to make sure that Harry was fully tutored. However, there may be two reasons for this. The first one I have considered is the ring. THe ring obvioulsy caused some serious damage to him. You can obviously remember that he wore the ring for some time after he got injured. I don’t think that it’s becuase he had any affection for the ring. Instead, I think that keeping the ring on was what was keeping him alive, for some reason, which we won’t know until book 7
    The other reason is that he had decided to allow Draco to kill him in order to save/turn Draco. This may also be important as to why Snape left with Draco, for some reason he may be more important than we have seen. Comments are welcomed.

  7. My take is that it was the curse upon the ring that effectively ended Dumbledore’s life, not the ring itself. Dumbledore only wore it to impress Horace Slughorn (and the stone was cracked, so it was already Horcrux-less). He did take the ring off because Harry saw it on a desk in Dumbledore’s office once, but the next time he looked it was gone.

    Snape kept Dumbledore going after Dumbledore’s encounter with the curse upon the ring by using a Stoppered Death potion that suspended Dumbledore’s death temporarily (my guess is a year, and he was 11 months into it when he decided to go to the cave.) Are you familiar with Cathy Leisner’s “Stoppered Death” theory?

    And I think the poison in the cave was lethal and had no antidote even though it wouldn’t kill instantly. When Hermione saw Dumbledore’s hand at the beginning of HBP, she mentioned wounds that can’t be cured (from old curses) and poisons that have no antidote. Much later in the book when Harry again asked about Dumbledore’s hand, he told Harry that indeed there had been a terrible curse upon the ring and that if not for Snape’s timely actions, he would be probably be dead. I’m betting that Hermione’s remark was also a foreshadowing that the poison in the cave did not have an antidote.

    So I agree that Dumbledore was going to die shortly from the combined effects of the curse on the ring, the wearing off of the Stoppered Death potion, and the poison in the cave.

  8. Ok, I pretty much agree with you that it was probably a curse on the ring, I really didnt mean the ring itself caused Dumbledore’s death. Keep it coming Felicity, I have read the stoppered death theory, but I probably just need to review it. Anyone else has their take on this?

  9. Alright, since everyone so far is a “Dumbledore is dead” believer, I’ll play some devil’s advocate.

    Felicity – you wrote:
    There isn’t a single instance in the books of anyone’s casting a verbal spell that was trumped by a simultanously cast non-verbal spell, and Rowling wouldn’t cheat by throwing in a resolution that we’ve never seen. She’s playing by the rules, so she can’t fire a gun without showing us the gun first.

    I’m not sure I buy this reasoning. We have been shown the gun; the gun is “non-verbal spells.” We just haven’t seen it used in any kind of significant way yet. That’s what makes the idea attractive. In Janet’s terms, we’ve got the set-up, but not the payoff yet. This might just be the payoff.

    I think if there is any “magical protective device,” it fits the Polyjuiced Slughorn theory better, because of the real-life Horace parallel.

    Ok, back to not being devil’s advocate:

    Excellent, excellent catch in your reference to Hermione’s words about curses and potions with no remedies. I’ve been through that three times and missed it every time. It’s got to be more than coincidence that it was the pairing of a curse and potion that finally finished Dumbledore.

  10. Hi, Travis.

    Thanks for the plug.

    “We have been shown the gun; the gun is “non-verbal spells.” We just haven’t seen it used in any kind of significant way yet. That’s what makes the idea attractive. In Janet’s terms, we’ve got the set-up, but not the payoff yet. ”

    We’ve certainly been shown non-verbal spells, and I wouldn’t discount this explanation: that after firing the AK at Dumbledore, Snape non-verbally held his body up and then slowed its fall over the ramparts. This could even have been done subconsciously, harking back to book 1 when Hagrid asked Harry if he’d ever “made things happen” when he was angry or upset.

    But casting a non-verbal and a verbal at the same time has not been set up. And having a non-verbal override a verbal when both are attempted at the same time is absolutely not set up. The set-ups are for verbal or non-verbal castings, not both at the same time.

    I can see why people would want Dumbledore to be alive, but for me there are too many very, very canonical objections to it.

  11. I guess part of it depends on which theory we’re working with. I think a verbal + nonverbal spell fits into the “Good Snape Killed Dumbledore” theory as well, because of the whole “You have to mean it” objection brought up by Jeremy Abel.

    I’m just not sure there’s anything canonical that would forbid the possibilty of simultaneous verbal and non-verbal spells (or at least one following immediately after the other).

    I see what you’re saying about the setups being for one or the other, but I’m not sure it would is enough of a “payoff” to simply say, “we have nonverbal spells now.” It’s got to hit a crucial plot point somewhere, and somewhere unexpected. The Lightning-Struck Tower scene is at least a possibility in my mind.

  12. I myself being a fan of the “Dumbledore is NOT Dead” theories, was surprised that no one had come across this little tidbit of information;

    We all know how J.K. Rowling said that Dumbledore was dead, and not to expect him to come back to life, but she never said WHICH Dumbledore was dead. Many readers forget about the Headmaster’s brother, Aberforth Dumbledore.

    That’s all I have to say on the subject.

  13. Koriann, actually, I’ve heard that theory before. It doesn’t work for lots of reasons, but keep in mind she said “Dumbledore” wouldn’t “do a Gandalf.” There is no possibility of Aberborth “doing a Gandalf,” since Aberforth never died.

    Also, the “Dumbledore is definitely dead” comment came in the context of a question about Snape’s killing Dumbledore. So Rowling would have to have lied in response to the question if she had been referring to Aberforth.

  14. I would just like to comment that a possible explanation for Fawkes crying over Dumbledore’s body would be the fact that phoenix tears heal. As regarding the general debate, having closely read, I can’t help thinking there are just too many inconsistencies for him to be actually dead.

  15. Nessie, Phoenix tears heal, but there is nothing to suggest that they bring the dead back to life. If Avada Kadavra did not kill Albus Dumbledore (and I’ve yet to hear a convincing argument to the contrary) then it is safe to assume that the fall from the Astronomy Tower would have. Phoenix tears have no power to alter that.

    I don’t know when you read anything at – it has been a pointer to another site for some time. However JK Rowling stated point blank in August 2006 in front of a packed auditorium in New York, that “Dumbledore is definitely dead” and she went on to scuttle any theories about him coming back to life be stating that we should not expect him to “do a Gandalf”.

    So, in fact, there would be too many inconsistencies if he were to *not* be dead now that the author has stated unequivocally that he is. Unless of course you are one of those who does not believe her, in which case *anything* is possible and I guess even book 7 itself won’t convince you. 😉

  16. One thing that I keep coming back to is Tonks. She is a metophoris (sp?) We know there are others, but have not met one yet. She has not used her ability in a significant way in the books, yet. We don’t usually get information on magic that we don’t need. Could someone who is a metophoris have disguised themselves as Dumbledore or someone else?

  17. That would be “metamorphagus”, Rhondy.

    But as regards someone disguising themselves a someone else, while we don’t know to what extent that’s possible for a metamorphagus, we do know that any accomplished wizard can do it with Polyjuice potion. So most of the theories around which have someone impersonating Dumbledore depend on the availability of large quantities of Boomslang skin, rather than the availability of metamorphagi. 😉

  18. SB,
    Wouldn’t a metamorphagus be someone who changes what they eat?

    Metamorphmagus is the mage who changes.


  19. Hi Matthew,
    You’re quite right. Thanks for catching that!

    Mind you, I do have every confidence that the metamorphmagus Nymphadora Tonks *regularly* changes what she eats! 😀 😕

  20. Do you guys think Dumbledore will stil communicate with Harry through the chocolate frog cards and though his painting in the headmaster’s office?

    I believe he is in fact dead but will have a huge role in book 7.

  21. Nick,
    I don’t think Dumbledore will be communicating to Harry through those mediums. I believe we will hear from the portrait but it will be saying Dumbledoreisms not giving advice- except good, general advice.

    That being said, I think you are absoulutely correct that the role of Dumbledore in the final book will be great. His influence will be felt throughout. Has he bequethed any items to Harry- The Pensive and a collection of memory bottles?


  22. In book 5, Dumbledore said he did not care if The Ministry removed him from the Wizengot(spelling) as longthey kept him on the chocolate frog cards. I feel the cards will be an important way of Dumbledore keeping an eye on situations away from his office in the final book. Is it the spirit of Dumbledore in the painting? How exactly do they work?

    Sorry for the poor typing job in my previous post, I did not spell check and that was the result 🙂

  23. i loved dumbledore i thought he was great to harry! he ment everything to him!:)
    i bet harry has two souls one is his and the other is apart of voldemort?

  24. could it be that Dumbledore can’t get killed?… i mean.. could he have had a horcrux for himself?… i don’t know the place they went to… how could he possibly know were ti go and find a horcrux?… i don’t know… maybe the horcrux that he found was his…

    but that is just my crazy babling xD

  25. Snape had to swear otherwise, he would have lost trust if the dark lord found out. Snape killing Dumbledore saves Malfoy’s innocence. It appears Snap knows when the time comes to destroy the dark lord, Harry will need him. The closer Snape is to the dark lord, the better he can help serve the over all purpose of helping Harry put an end to it all.

  26. Fashionably late here… but just came upon this post. Interesting to read your theories, even knowing the outcome. It just reminds me of the many directions of equal intrigue which Rowling could have taken.

    Reflecting back, Rowling didn’t fake us out on a death, have anyone linger, or bring anyone back from the dead. Except Harry, I guess. If you believe he died… I guess that’s a whole other point of debate.

    Anyhow, I enjoyed your post! 🙂

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