Why Didn't Dumbledore Try to Use Voldemort's Biggest Weakness: His Memory Loss?

Why Didn't Dumbledore Try to Use Voldemort's Biggest Weakness: His Memory Loss?
Image credit: Warner Bros.

Many Potterheads wonder why it was crucial to destroy the Horcruxes before killing Voldemort. Here’s an even better question: why was it crucial to destroy the Horcruxes at all?


  • Lord Voldemort’s Horcruxes were the main obstacle to defeating him.
  • Realistically, Dumbledore could kill him first and have a much easier time finding Horcruxes.
  • Alternatively, he could destroy Voldemort’s identity and forget about finding Horcruxes at all.

The one thing that made the Harry Potter main plot possible was Voldemort’s near-immortality. The Dark Lord was so terrified of dying that he split his soul into several pieces and hid them — and to get rid of him for good, one had to destroy all those pieces called Horcruxes. Locating them all was the main quest for Harry.

But the thing is, Albus Dumbledore overlooked one very important alternative to hunting down the Horcruxes: hunting down Lord Voldemort himself. Not only was it not necessary to destroy all the Horcruxes before taking down the Dark Lord, but it was also possible to incapacitate Voldemort without even finding his soul pieces.

Method #1: Voldemort First, Horcruxes Second

Why Didn't Dumbledore Try to Use Voldemort's Biggest Weakness: His Memory Loss? - image 1

Let’s quickly recap what happened after Lord Voldemort was destroyed the first time.

As the Killing Curse intended for baby Harry ricocheted and destroyed Voldemort’s own body, he was reduced to “mere shadow and vapor,” as he put it in Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone. His soul, weak and pathetic, was still bound to earth by his numerous Horcruxes…but he didn’t even remember about their existence!

When Harry first meets Voldemort in The Sorcerer’s Stone, the Dark Lord has no idea he created Horcruxes. Indeed, he believes that he needs the unicorn’s blood and the Sorcerer’s stone to survive and create a new body for himself, and he makes no attempts to find his magical anchors — because he lost his memory upon death!

This curious side effect of dying in Godric’s Hollow prevented Voldemort from being revived for over a dozen years. It is only before the events of Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire that the Dark Lord remembers his Horcruxes and puts together a plan to come back to the world of living. For over a decade, he just…exists as a shadow.

In other words, if Albus Dumbledore killed Voldemort’s active body before attempting to find and destroy his Horcruxes, he would’ve had years to do it carefully and with no hassle. Don’t even get us started on all the lives that would’ve been saved.

Method #2: No Voldemort, No Problems

Why Didn't Dumbledore Try to Use Voldemort's Biggest Weakness: His Memory Loss? - image 2

An even quicker though not as ultimate method of incapacitating the Dark Lord requires no messing with the Horcruxes at all. Like our previous idea, this one is also based on messing up Lord Voldemort’s memory — but, unlike the first method, this time, we suggest that it could be damaged for good. Like, his entire memory.

We saw what happened with Frank and Alice Longbottom and Gilderoy Lockhart: their very identities were completely wiped out. In the case of the Longbottoms, it happened due to inhumane tortures; in the case of Lockhart, it was a Memory Charm gone wrong. Either way, these two cases prove that destroying an identity is simple.

Instead of killing Voldemort in his new body and reducing him to a shadow once again (which would give Dumbledore several years of no-hassle search time), what if he captured the Dark Lord and destroyed his very self? Tortures or memory charms, everything could work as long as it left no identity in Voldemort’s monstrous body.

After that, he could be sent to Azkaban or even become a brand-new tourist attraction in St. Mungo’s for all we care. Even when he’d inevitably die of old age and return to his shadow form once again, he wouldn’t have either an idea of who he was or an understanding of how to come back to life. He wouldn’t even want to.

These were two simple ways of incapacitating Lord Voldemort without really worrying about his Horcruxes, and we can’t believe that Albus Dumbledore did not even consider them. These sound way better than his incredibly complex and risky plan.

So, how do we deal with Voldemort?