Harry Potter: The 7 Dumbest Things Dumbledore Ever Did
GameSpot may receive revenue from affiliate and advertising partnerships for sharing this content and from purchases through links.
Is Dumbledore really just an ***hole?
With Fantastic Beasts 2 showing us a young Albus Dumbledore, now played by Jude Law, people are once again being treated to more screen time with one of the most beloved characters of the Harry Potter saga. And that means we get to see more of his seemingly endless bad decisions.
Law is now the third actor to play the famous Professor Albus Percival Wulfric Brian Dumbledore in nine films. He is considered to be one of the greatest wizards to ever live, and the best headmaster Hogwarts ever had. It is telling that to this day, people still refer to Dumbledore’s death in the main Harry Potter series as one of the biggest spoilers of the 21st century.
But once you start looking closely, you realize Dumbledore was not only a flawed character, but kind of a terrible headmaster. The Harry Potter series had plenty of characters that audiences loved despite their flaws, but it is safe to assume that when you are about 100 years old, you should be wise enough not to make these simple but atrocious mistakes. Here are the seven worst decisions ever made by Dumbledore.
Warning: this list is based entirely on the films. We know the books offer more details, but after the endless retcons of Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald, who knows how long they'll even remain canon?
1. Leaving a baby on a doorstep
Sure, we know Harry had to go live with his abusive relatives because of a protection spell. That is perfectly fine. But did Dumbledore have to leave a baby on a doorstep?
Wizard-Hitler was defeated mere hours ago, and you have the most important one-year-old in the entire magical community in the UK, and your best idea is to leave him on a doorstep in the middle of England? In November? Worse than that, he leaves Harry with only a letter meant to explain the entire thing to his new guardians. Couldn’t he call the Dursleys in advance to warn them, or at the very least knock on the door and make sure the infant doesn’t freeze to death? Petunia Dursley’s sister was just murdered, and she now has to take care of her son, and she finds out via a letter? Come on!
And while we're on this, we know Harry was safest with the Dursleys, but why didn’t anyone make sure Harry knew about his parents before he was 11? Was sending 11,000 letters all at once really the best way for him to find out about this whole magical world? You could have sent someone to educate him, or at least check on him every couple of years, Albus!
2. Not doing background checks on his teaching staff
Schools in the wizarding world must really be short on funds, because there is no justification for the endless parade of criminals, murderers, and literally Voldemort that get hired every year at Hogwarts. In The Chamber of Secrets we meet Gilderoy Lockhart, a guy famous for his books describing his endless and incredible exploits--that end up being completely fake. While every student (and Ron’s mom) are fooled by him, it should be expected that the greatest wizard alive would be able to see that the guy is bluffing. Except even as school begins and the students notice Lockhart’s incompetence, Dumbledore does nothing. Either he didn’t know or couldn’t care less about his student’s education.
Then he did it again when he didn’t notice a teacher that he hired was actually an escaped Azkaban prisoner in makeup. Are there really Polyjuice potion detectors at Hogwarts?
Even worse is the case of Quirinus Quirrell, the quiet and shy Defense Against The Arts teacher in the first film. It is eventually revealed that Quirrell is not only a Death Eater, but is literally a human host to Voldemort, who resides on the back of his head. Again, either Dumbledore had no idea that wizard-Hitler was under his nose for a year, or he knew and didn’t care. Are there even job interviews in Hogwarts? Because Dumbledore seems to be really bad at judging people, or is the biggest troll who ever lived and just wanted to torture his students for a joke. Either way, it doesn’t bode well for the old headmaster.
3. Having a clear bias towards Gryffindor
While the films don't give as much importance to the annual House Cup as the books do, it is made clear that doing good things will award points to your house and breaking the rules will deduct them. Except Dumbledore doesn’t abide by rules or logic, and just gives the exact amount of necessary points to have Gryffindor win every single year.
Imagine being a Slytherin kid. You worked hard, and the headmaster gives the announcement that your house finally won the cup. Sure, the Gryffindors are sad, but you’ve earned this. Then along comes Dumbledore, year after year awarding Gryffindor an arbitrary number of points to ensure they win no matter what. It's one thing to give points to Harry and company for doing Dumbledore’s job for him and saving the school from an evil wizard or a killer snake over and over. But to do it right in the middle of the awards ceremony? That’s an incredibly cruel thing to do.
4. Not using the time-turner for anything useful
This one is a bit of a nit-pick, since time-traveling always comes with the possibility of breaking the time continuum. But it is worth mentioning that the one time the franchise touched on the subject, it was because Hermione needed to take some extra subjects. Really? And nobody even thought about bringing the time-turner up ever again? Plenty of things went tragically wrong at Hogwarts over the year, and Dumbledore could have fixed any of it at any point. Instead, he allowed an over-achieving student to use time travel to take too many classes, to the detriment of her own well-being.
5. Letting Harry compete in the Triwizard tournament
While the film makes it clear that entering one’s name into the Goblet of Fire was a binding magical contract, they mention that no underage students could apply. So then why does Dumbledore allow Harry to continue competing in the life-threatening tournament knowing full-well that he needs to be alive to fight Voldemort? Harry entered on a technicality at best, and Dumbledore could have very easily put his foot down and declared that Harry broke the rules, and thus won't be competing.
It was clear that Harry didn’t enter his name himself. We assume Dumbledore at least did some investigating, but why not stop the games while you find out what is happening? But no, he just sits back and enjoys the carnage, which actually ends in the death of another student. Hooray?
6. Never telling Harry anything useful until it was way too late
It could be argued that Dumbledore just wanted to preserve Harry’s innocence and keep him happy for as long as he could. But boy did that backfire. Not telling Harry that he was always meant to die is one thing, but Dumbledore ignored him for all of The Order of the Phoenix. He claims it was because he suspected Voldemort was able to read Harry’s mind, but why couldn’t he have another teacher just say: “Hey Potter, the headmaster isn’t ignoring you, he’s worried about this…”? On the surface it could have seemed a good idea to Dumbledore, but there were a million better ways to go about it.
In that same year, he tried to have Snape teach Harry how to close his mind from Voldemort yet did nothing once that proved to be a failure. He knew how much they hated each other and didn’t think of asking anyone else for help. And on that same note, he knew for years that Harry was part of a prophecy that stated he is the only person capable of killing Voldemort, so they would eventually face each other. But in Dumbledore’s mind, preparing Harry to be able to duel another wizard was not worth it. At no point did he think of making Harry take extra classes or anything that could help him defeat Voldemort, on top of constantly hiring the worst possible teachers for many school subjects.
7. Making a zoologist fight wizard-Hitler for him
Fantastic Beasts 2 should have really been titled “The Crimes of Dumbledore.” Whose brilliant idea was it to ask Newt Scamander, an introverted zookeeper, to fight the most dangerous wizard of his day? The Crimes of Grindelwald gives a more concrete reason why Dumbledore can’t fight himself, but it never explains why the person you call to fight the Nazi wizard is Newt “I have a suitcase full of animals” Scamander--at least not in a satisfactory way.
Is there literally no other person capable of doing magic who is better equipped to fight an evil wizard than a guy who collects magical Pokémon? Newt gave no indication in the first film that he was at all special, so why does Dumbledore ask him specifically to fight on his behalf? Dumbledore essentially tells Newt he's confident that he'll do the right thing, but is Newt really the only person Dumbledore knows in the entire wizarding community with a moral compass? That's not plausible at all. Once again, the only reasonable explanation seems to be that Dumbledore just likes to put people in dangerous situations and laugh about their misfortunes.