Essay: Harry Potter Death Toll
Kelly M. Grosskreutz
This list contains spoilers for the first five Harry Potter books and some speculation for the final two. You have been warned. Do not repost anywhere without the permission of the author! Do not repost anywhere without the permission of the author!
As people may have guessed about me, I am an avid reader. I have been reading constantly ever since I first learned how. In all those years, one of the things I have come to notice in books is that, if there is no dead body, there is a very good chance that the character who is said to be dead just may not be. When it comes to J. K. Rowling's Harry Potter series, I think a corollary can safely be applied: If one of the characters can verify that s/he saw either the death itself or the dead body afterward, then we can safely assume that the deceased character is truly dead. With this in mind, I seek to compile a list of all of those who have either died or have been said to have died in the seires, and take a closer look at their deaths to see if we truly have seen the last of these people. Please email me if you have any comments on any of this material or if I have forgotten someone.
Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone
James and Lily Potter - Could also be called the Most Discussed Death. People are unsure about the circumstances, all the events leading up to it, even if they were truly Lily and James. What do we have as proof that they perished, and that the deceased are who we are told they were?
First, we have plenty of characters who say they are dead. Sirius, Hagrid, and Dumbledore all verify it. Hagrid was first on the scene. In the books, he says he pulled Harry out of the ruins. He never mentions dead bodies, but he says they are dead. Sirius showed up at the house not much later. He got to see the house and the scene around the area, and even had the time to take a closer look once Hagrid left with Harry. Sirius, one of James's best friends, has no doubt in his mind they are dead.
Granted, neither Hagrid nor Sirius ever says anything about looking upon any bodies, but in my mind, that is the only way they could say without any doubt at all in their minds that James and Lily were dead. Sirius, in particular, would be looking for any slender glimpse of hope that either might live, and if he hadn't seen a body, he'd be going on about how maybe they escaped to this day. Therefore, I conclude that there were bodies there, and Hagrid and Sirius saw them. Dumbledore also says they are dead. I am unsure exactly how he came to that conclusion. The two obvious ones are that either Hagrid told him what he'd seen when he went to the house, or Dumbledore visited there himself. Knowing Dumbledore, I can see him going to the house himself at some point, just to see what had happened with his own eyes. And we can't forget that he thought highly of James and Lily. He seemed to like them, and their death was a blow to him on more than one level. All of this goes towards how we can be pretty sure that two people died there, but how do we know for sure that it was James and Lily? Some people are backing a theory that has even seen its time in print in Unofficial Harry Potter guides, and that theory is that James and Remus Lupin switched places at the last minute. Meaning that the man who died that fateful night was Remus Lupin, and James Potter is the one whom everyone is now calling Lupin.
Here are some arguments to debunk this theory. First, we can be sure they weren't using Polyjuice Potion. As we have seen many times, Polyjuice Potion has to be taken every hour on the hour or else the drinker will turn back to his/her normal appearance. Going back to Lupin assuming James's identity (I presume with Lily's knowledge), and saying that Lupin had taken a swig two seconds before Voldemort came knocking at the door, I would think that the bodies weren't removed from the wreckage immediately. People kept showing up, the Muggles probably got involved somehow, and there'd be a lot of snooping around and marking where things were lying before the bodies were finally taken away. Probably longer than an hour. And no one mentioned that the male they pulled out of the wreckage was not the same male that was originally found to be there. Another thing that could back this up is my belief that Dumbledore showed up at one point. I don't think he showed up right away since he didn't encounter Sirius or Hagrid there. He never mentioned the body transforming. Granted, this could be something he has chosen not to tell yet so as not to compromise James lurking around as Lupin, but more on this in the next paragraph. Which brings me to my second reason why James and Lupin didn't switch. Lupin is a werewolf. He transforms into a wolf at the full moon. Somehow, I don't see James and Lupin so intent on switching identities (through some other method than Polyjuice Potion) that James would ask Lupin to bite him or see to it that Lupin did it. Nor do I see Lupin ever agreeing to inflict his curse on another living soul, especially on a man he calls friend. Unless James was bitten by another werewolf, I don't see this happening. Nor do I think he could change himself into one, since Lupin's transforming into a wolf seemed painful, longer, and more complicated than Sirius's changing himself into a dog.
The final reason I have for why this did not happen is shown us at the end of Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire. Voldemort and Harry duel and cast spells at the exact same moment. Their wands join. Harry ends up forcing Voldemort's wand to regurgitate all the spells it had cast for a certain period of time. Two of the people that emerge from Voldemort's wand are James and Lily. Yes, the book had them come out of the wand in reverse order, but it was still James who emerged. If it had been Lupin Voldemort had killed, even a Lupin transfigured to look like James, it would still have been Lupin who emerged. It was James. James Potter is dead, and that's all there is to it.
Professor Quirrell - The first person we actually get to know in the series that is said to have died. The last time we see Quirrell, he is described as shrieking terribly and trying to get away from Harry as Voldemort yells at Quirrell to kill Harry. Harry feels his arm wrenched away from Quirrell, then that's all he remembers until he wakes up in the hospital wing. Dumbledore later says that Voldemort left Quirrell to die. He also says it's a good thing he showed up when he did, because if he had been much later, Harry himself would have died. I conclude from this that Quirrell is dead. If Harry was close to death when Dumbledore showed up, and Harry was only suffering the same effects that Quirrell was experiencing, then we can conclude that Quirrell was also close to death. Voldemort, having no more use for Quirrell, left him. It is unknown how dependent Quirrell's body was on Voldemort being a part of him at this point, but perhaps Voldemort's yanking himself out of his symbiotic relationship with Quirrell was enough to push Quirrell over into death. Or maybe both Harry and Quirrell were weakened enough by their struggle that they both would have died, but Harry was given medical treatment and Quirrel wasn't, or Harry just received it quicker. Regardless, Dumbledore saw Quirrell's dead body, so we can be pretty sure we won't be seeing him again in the series.
Nicolas and Perenelle Flamel - At the end of this book, we are told that the Sorcerer's Stone (or Philosopher's Stone for non-Americans) has been destroyed. The Flamels had enough elixir left to put their affairs into order, but then they would die. We do not know how much elixir they had, or how long they truly have left to them. We know that they will die eventually, but won't we all? I don't think we've seen the last of these two, and since Nicolas is a friend of Dumbledore's, there's a good chance he might show up before this series is over.
Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets
Moaning Myrtle - No, this entry isn't here so I can try to claim she is alive. She is here mainly for completeness, since this book goes on at great length about her being dead and the last vicitm of the basilisk. I believe we can safely say that all of the ghosts are truly dead. Myrtle is the first one we can be 100% sure has died because not only was there a body (that we even get to see to some extent in the movie), but her ghost still haunts the girl's bathroom.
Mr. Hagrid - Hagrid's human father. No reason to disbelieve Hagrid when he says his father died during his second year at Hogwarts.
Mrs. Riddle - All we know about her is that she is a descendant of Salazar Slytherin, and that she died after giving birth to her son after her husband abandoned her upon finding out she was a witch. She presumably lived long enough to name her son, then died. Although we only hear of this story through Riddle, who most likely heard of it from the orphanage that raised him, I don't see any reason to think he is lying about her death or that she is anything other than dead. What I do wonder, though, is how Riddle found out about the rest of his heritage. I have problems thinking that Mum Riddle told the Muggle orphanage that her bloodline could be traced all the way back to Salazar Slytherin. Maybe she lived long enough to write her son a letter that explained his heritage and told the orphanage to give it to him when he reached a certain age.
Tom Marvolo Riddle - In this entry, I mean the one that lived in the diary. Harry stabbed a poisoned fang through Riddle's diary, which destroyed the book and presumably the memory. But what does this mean? We know that when Tom was sixteen, he found a way to magically transfer, as he puts it, a memory of his sixteen year-old self to a diary. Did he sort of leave an imprint of himself, cloning himself as he was at that very moment so that it would stay forever unchanging in the diary? Or is it somewhat reminiscent of a Pensieve, where he would take lots of strands of silvery stuff and transfer it to the diary? For the purposes of the rest of this section, I'm going to say it was closer to the former. In either case, does the Riddle that grew up to be Lord Voldemort now have a hole in his memory where his sixteen year-old self was because he put it in the diary? Does he still retain the knowledge of what transpired when he was sixteen, like the expulsion of Hagrid and how to open the Chamber of Secrets, but just not the feelings and everything else that would help one to relive that moment in one's mind? Did Voldemort still retain any connection at all to the diary persona, meaning is he aware of what his diary persona may be up to? How dead is this memory of Tom Riddle?
I ask mainly because of events that transpired at the end of Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets. Riddle seems to know that his non-diary self went on to become Lord Voldemort and a bunch of other things. Most likely, this is because Ginny told him, but was Ginny his only source? Did Lucius ever do any writing in the diary? Or does Riddle have some sort of a connection to Voldemort and knows some of the things that's been going on in his life? Also, Riddle asks Harry how he survived Voldemort. Harry tells him what Dumbledore has told him, and Riddle goes on about how he understood that Lily's death could be a powerful countercharm. Dumbledore has said somewhere during the course of this series that her love is what saved Harry, and that Voldemort never gave that any consideration because he didn't understand love. In a sense, he underestimated it. Riddle, however, seems to at least intellectually understand what happened. In Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, Voldemort makes a comment about wanting the protection that Harry carries in his blood. Did Voldemort come to this understanding himself, or did he pick this up through a link with the diary Riddle?
Now that the diary (and the Riddle that lived inside it) has been destroyed, what exactly happens to this memory? Does Voldemort still have any memory of what happened when he was sixteen? Does Voldemort know anything about what happened with Ginny or with Harry and the Chamber of Secrets? Is this memory truly gone?
Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban
Bilius Weasley - Bilius was Ron's uncle. Ron says he died 24 hours after seeing a Grim. No reason really to think Bilius might still be around. Being his uncle, Ron probably attended the funeral or whatever ceremony wizards conduct for the dead.
Peter Pettigrew - Now here is the classic case of someone turning up alive after they were presumed dead. Of course, we didn't have a body, only his robes and a finger. We find out later that Peter himself chopped off his finger so that there would be something left to make people believe he was dead. It is key to note that no one actually could say they "saw" him die. Sirius was the only one on the scene (not counting the Muggles who didn't know what they were looking at anyway), and he never once thought Pettigrew had killed himself. He knew what had happened. Fudge says he was the first one on the scene after the explosion, but he was not there to witness the confrontation between Pettigrew and Black. We had robes and a finger, but no body, and no one who claimed to have actually seen the death or looked upon the body. And that's why we were able to have Peter Pettigrew turn up alive years later.
Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire
Riddle Family - This includes the grandmother, grandfather, and father (Tom Riddle, Sr.) of Lord Voldemort. No doubts at all they're dead, since their bodies were found the next morning and buried. Let's not mention that Riddle Sr's bones played a crucial part in the end of the book.
Bertha Jorkins - Captured by Peter Pettigrew in Albania, brought before Voldemort. After Voldemort was done breaking through her memories and extracting information from her, he killed her. Granted, Voldemort and Peter are not known to be the most truthful of sources, but they are talking amongst themselves and have no reason to lie to each other when they both were there and would know what happened. Plus she comes out of the wand when Harry forces it to regurgitate spells. She's definitely dead.
Frank Bryce - We saw him fall to avada kedavra. He also came out of Voldemort's wand. What more evidence do we need?
Bartemius Crouch, Sr. - The last time we saw him, he was trying to get to Dumbledore. He was fighting off the Imperius Curse with all his might just to get out that he needed to talk to Dumbledore. Harry left Viktor Krum to keep an eye on Crouch while he ran to find Dumbledore. When they reached the site, Crouch is nowhere to be found. Crouch Jr. later claims he killed his father, transfigured his body into a bone, and buried it.
Again, we could question the source's reliability, but he gave this confession under Veritaserum, which is supposed to make a person tell the truth as he knows it. If we wanted to, we could really question if the Veritaserum was real. But keep in mind that Crouch Jr. was given the potion when he was unconscious; only after it had been administered did Dumbledore wake him up. There was no way for him to realize what they were giving him and therefore be able to act like he was under the influence when he really wasn't. Based on this, I conclude that Crouch Sr. will be seen no more.
Bartemius Crouch, Jr. - He is another person that was presumed to be dead at one point but was later discovered to be alive. Unlike Pettigrew, though, Sirius says he watched the dementors bury him. As we find out later, it was actually Mrs. Crouch that was being buried. Two things could account for this. One, the dementors buried her before she had been dead an hour, meaning the Polyjuice Potion had not yet worn off. The other thing is that maybe the Polyjuice Potion had worn off, but Sirius was too far away to see the body clearly and just took it to be Crouch Jr. because it came from his cell and he and his mother looked enough alike to be confused at great distances.
This brings us to Crouch at the end of the book. The Dementor's Kiss has been applied to him. This does not kill the body, but is supposed to suck out a person's soul, leaving behind only the husk. The body of Barty Crouch Jr. may still be alive and functioning, but as of this writing, the soul is gone, leaving him more or less dead when it comes to knowledge and personality and everything else that makes a person a person. Whether this is permanent will depend on if a Dementor's Kiss can be reversed and, if so, if Crouch Jr's body ends up anywhere near a dementor. I wouldn't exactly say this character may never show up again, but where and in what capacity is very much the question here. Of course, if the Kiss is irreversible, I wouldn't expect to see him in the books again, even if he is alive.
Mrs. Crouch - She was in ill health when she took Polyjuice Potion and traded places with her son. She was said to have drunk Polyjuice Potion until she died. Sirius watched the dementors bury what he at the time thought to be Barty Crouch, Jr. We see later on that he was very much alive. As one can see above in the section about her son, either the dementors found her right away and were quick to dispose of her remains, or Sirius was just mistaken because he could not see the body that clearly.
Evan Rosier - Rosier was a Death Eater that was killed in a struggle to evade capture by the Aurors that were trying to apprehend him. This name comes up during Karkaroff's trial. We can believe he is dead because Moody verified it. He says that Rosier took out part of Moody's nose before he died. This makes me think that Moody and Rosier were dueling, and Moody came out triumphant.
Wilkes - Sirius says Wilkes was killed by Aurors. This is a second-hand report. Sirius did not see Wilkes killed. Sirius did not kill Wilkes. Sirius did not see Wilkes's dead body afterward. Two things corroborate this report, though. Since Wilkes's death came at the hands of Aurors, there was most likely a body and official records to support this death. Second, when Voldemort convenes his Death Eaters, he says that three of the ones that should be standing in the circle died in his service. He does not come right out and say that Wilkes was one of them, but since Rosier and Wilkes are the only two Death Eaters that anyone has said are dead, it seems pretty safe to say that Wilkes is no longer among the living.
Third Death Eater - Voldemort said that three Death Eaters died in his service. Rosier and Wilkes are the two Death Eaters that were named in Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire that were said to be dead. So who is the third, who saw this person die, and how did this person die? Is this person not important, or is this someone we will learn about eventually?
Cedric Diggory - No brainer. Harry (and the readership) watched him fall to avada kedavra. We saw him come out of Voldemort's wand. A big deal was made out of his body and what should be done with it. As Dr. McCoy on Star Trek would say, "He's dead, Jim."
Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix
Regulus Black - This is one death of which I am suspicious. Here's the quote from Sirius himself, "No, he was murdered by Voldemort. Or on Voldemort's orders, more likely, I doubt Regulus was ever important enough to be killed by Voldemort in person. From what I found out after he died, he got in so far, then panicked about what he was being asked to do and tried to back out. Well, you don't just hand in your resignation to Voldemort. It's a lifetime of service or death." (OotP p. 112 U.S. edition)
First of all, this is a second-hand account. As with Wilkes, Sirius didn't see the death, didn't cause the death, and never saw the body. Unlike Wilkes, though, we don't even know Sirius's source for the information. Who told Sirius? If Voldemort didn't kill Regulus, who did? What happened to his body? Was it returned to his parents? Could Regulus be the third Death Eater? Although, if he was, it would contradict Sirius's story of Regulus wanting out of the Death Eaters, since it sounds like Voldemort's third Death Eater was faithful. Is there more to the Regulus story than we (and Sirius) have been told?
I say there are too many unanswered questions surrounding this death, and speculate that we might not have seen the last of Regulus Black. Or, if we have, we will find out more about how he died and who killed him (could it have been Snape?).
Marlene McKinnon and family - Both Hagrid and Moody say they died. All we really know is that they were killed two weeks after the picture of the original Order of the Phoenix was taken. I think it's safe to say that bodies were found and that they are truly dead. Nothing in this to make me suspicious.
Benjy Fenwick - Moody says all they found of Fenwick were bits and pieces. Are we sure he's dead? All we ever found of Pettigrew were robes and a finger, but yet he lived. Were these little bits and pieces, like a couple of toes and maybe a hand? Or did we have some more telling remnants, like a severed head? This could make a big difference between a potentiall living and a truly dead Fenwick. I wouldn't write him off just yet.
Edgar Bones and family - This is pretty much the same as the McKinnon entry. Moody and Hagrid both mention they're dead. The only difference between the two is we are told Edgar had a sister, Amelia, who survived. Amelia has a daughter, Susan, who is a Hufflepuff in Harry's year at Hogwarts.
Caradoc Dearborn - Vanished with no trace of a body. I wouldn't be surprised to see him pop back up one of these days.
Gideon and Fabian Prewett - Actually, there is more evidence that these two are dead then there is for the McKinnons and the Bones. Moody says it took five Death Eaters and that they fought like heroes. I get the impression that the Prewetts did not fight alone, but that Moody may have been there with them.
Dorcas Meadowes - Moody says that Voldemort killed her personally. How does he know this? He never says if he saw it himself, if reliable intelligence told them that's what happened to her, or anything else, for that matter. Although she probably is dead, I'm not 100% convinced of this.
Mr. and Mrs. Black - We don't know anything about their deaths aside from Mrs. Black dying after Sirius had been sent to Azkaban, but it seems to be common knowledge. Most telling piece of evidence that they are no more is that Sirius, the son they blasted from the tapestry, has complete control of the house, and Sirius says he inherited it after they died. I'm not expecting to see them again.
Mr. and Mrs. Potter - Here I am referring to James's parents. I would have to infer they are dead because Sirius does not mention they are still alive. Since he stayed with them and even lived with them for a time, one would think he would have mentioned to Harry that they were still alive if they truly were. We have also been told many times that Harry's only surviving relatives are the Dursleys. Based on these two things, I think we can safely assume his paternal grandparents are dead.
Mr. and Mrs. Evans - This would be Petunia and Lily's parents. It would be easy to infer these two are dead as well, for many of the same reasons as for James's parents. Petunia never mentions speaking to her parents. Dumbledore has said that Petunia is his only living blood relative (unless you count Dudley). Again, I am willing to assume they are dead. However, I would like to just state I question Dumbledore's asserting that Petunia is his only living relative. In Chapter 1 of Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, we hear mention of a ten year-old boy named Mark Evans. He was one of the boys Dudley had beaten up over the summer. It makes me wonder if he's related to Harry and, if so, how. We might find out in the sixth book since Mark will be turning eleven.
Broderick Bode - His death was reported in the Daily Prophet. An investigation is being done into it. I'm convinced he's dead. If one needs even more convincing, we saw the death being set up with the gift of the potted plant at Christmas.
Fridwulfa Hagrid - Hagrid was told by the giants he went to visit that his mother had died some years ago. This is a second-hand account, as Hagrid did not see the body himself. There is really nothing else one way or the other about Fridwulfa. I place this in the same category as I do Dorcas Meadowes. She might be dead, but there's a chance she could still be around.
Karkus - Hagrid saw his severed head. Enough said.
Sirius Black - Thinking about this death is what prompted me to start this whole project. There are tons of witnesses, so we don't have a second-hand report. We watched it happen. However, we do not have a body. The body disappeared. So, is he dead?
Let's take a close look at this scene. Sirius and Bellatrix are dueling. Sirius ducks Bella's first red light spell. He taunts her, then is hit by a second jet of light. We see his eyes widen in shock, although the laughter has not yet faded. He is still alive at this point. He begins to fall, sinking backward through the veil. As he falls through, his expression changes yet again, going from the shock we saw a moment ago into fear and surprise. This indicates that Bellatrix's spell did not kill him, as his face was quickly changing expression the whole time he was falling up to the time he disappears. Keep in mind, though, that the last expression we do see is fear and surprise, two emotions that are commonly connected to the face of a man who has just realized his moment has come and death has come for him. This would indicate that we see the exact moment that Sirius knows he is going to die, seconds before he passes through the veil.
Immediately after he disappears, Bellatrix lets out a triumphant scream. This is indicative of a woman who knows she has vanquished her foe. She does not expect him to come charging back through the veil. She is not preparing herself for a renewed threat from that corner, but considers it over. We can take this to mean either she believes Sirius to be dead or at least out of the rest of the fight.
Lupin then grabs Harry as he charges towards the veil after Sirius. Lupin refuses to let him near the veil and tells Harry there's nothing he can do, it's too late, Sirius is gone, he can't come back, and he's d-... Lupin is cut off, but it appears that the final word would be "dead." Without that final letter, we can conclude that Sirius is either dead or trapped behind the veil and it's impossible for one to do anything about it (or at least for Harry to do anything).
Harry becomes angry at Sirius for not coming immediately through the veil, for making him wait. Harry then realizes that Sirius has never made him wait, but has always been there for him when he has been in need. Sirius not coming to his aid now is telling.
Dumbledore makes reference to a Death Chamber. It is in this chamber that the captured Death Eaters are being held. This is also where Sirius was when he fell through the veil.
Dumbledore was a witness to Sirius falling through the veil, and he says that Sirius is dead. Dumbledore understands that chamber far better than any of us do. There is no reason for Dumbledore to lie at this point, and watching him with Harry, it seems he would do anything to be able to mitigate some of Harry's pain. If there was any chance that Sirius could still be alive, Dumbledore would have told him so.
One last piece of evidence that points to Sirius being truly dead. His creator, J. K. Rowling, says he is. She is very adamant about it. It is also known she cried when she killed off the person she was planning to kill. No one else in this book was loved enough to evoke that kind of reaction. This is the only person we can see causing that kind of a reaction from his creator.
Sirius Black is truly dead. It is time we all admitted it and carried on.
Copyright July 25, 2003 by Kelly M. Grosskreutz. Please, email me if you have any comments.
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