In the world of Harry Potter, Albus Percival Wulfric Brian Dumbledore is the heart and soul of the resistance against Voldemort. Even in death, he inspires the Order of the Phoenix to keep fighting, putting people in place to help each other at the right time. He is brilliant, thoughtful, and always about ten steps ahead of everyone else. When he took over Hogwarts, he made it the safest place in the Wizarding World, and even after Voldemort's fall he kept his promise to the school to oversee its continued safety and freedom to educate without the Ministry of Magic's interference.
But, like all people, Dumbledore isn't perfect. He has his failures, but fortunately he's often humble and self-aware enough to recognize them himself. Sometimes, he's simply too late though. Here are 10 things about Dumbeldore that don't age well.
10 Leaving Voldemort’s Jinx in Place
Voldemort apparently jinxed the Defense Against the Dark Arts position after he applied for it as Tom Riddle and was denied. In Half-Blood Prince, Dumbledore says he thinks Riddle came to Hogwarts for something else, and just used the job application as an excuse. But he much have taken the rejection pretty hard, because he cursed the job so that anyone who holds it only can for a year, and everyone who held it was either in mortal danger, driven insane, or died.
Dumbledore must have realized this at some point. Theories say that Voldemort was born in 1926, so he would have been graduating Hogwarts by 1943. He must have returned to Hogwarts and applied sometime between then and 1950. Half-Blood Prince took place in 1996, so Dumbledore had 46 years or more to notice this curse in place. Why didn’t he simply remove it instead of allowing?
9 Letting Snape Bully the Students
Dumbledore didn’t often tolerate a lot of pointless cruelty from people—that’s why he banned corporal punishment at Hogwarts when he became Headmaster. So it makes his blind eye toward Snape’s constant bullying of students both surprising and awful. Snape openly hated many of the Gryffindors, but especially students like Neville Longbottom.
Snape probably resented Longbottom so much because Neville could have been the other Chosen One. Voldemort could have gone after Alice and Frank instead of Lily and James, which would mean Lily would have survived the Wizarding War (probably). Since all Snape really wanted was for Lily to be safe, he probably can’t help but wish that it had been Neville’s family that died that night, not Harry’s.
Nevertheless—Dumbledore allowing it to continue is awful, and hasn’t aged well.
8 The Series of Dangerous Detentions at Hogwarts
Yes, Dumbledore did ban corporal punishment at Hogwarts. “There will be no more hanging students by their thumbs, Filch,” we can imagine him saying. Good for him. But the detentions that left range from somewhat strange to incredibly dangerous, and it’s strange that he allowed them all.
Cleaning the plaques in the trophy room? Fine. Traipsing into the Forbidden Forest at night to search for something desperately cruel that’s killing unicorns, armed only with a cowardly dog and Hagrid, who is technically not allowed to perform magic? What were you thinking, Dumbledore?
We see in the series that Dumbledore was often away or locked in his tower studying things. It’s possible he didn’t know this was happening, which makes it worse.
7 Not Checking In With Harry at the Dursley’s
After Dumbledore abandons Harry on a doorstep (also not great, though a charming start to a fictional series), we’re given to believe he simply ignores Harry’s existence for the next ten years. Sure, Mrs. Figg lives down the street and she sometimes babysits Harry, but she doesn’t know how far the abuse goes inside Harry’s home.
Why didn’t Dumbledore pop over once in a while? Sure, no one expects people to be abusive to their nephew, but McGonagall even warned him that the Dursleys were awful that first day! He couldn’t check in even once?
6 Setting the Golden Trio Up to Struggle
Dumbledore knew he was going to die in Half-Blood Prince. We see that in Snape’s memories. So why not set Harry, Ron, and Hermione up better? I mean, the things he bequeaths them in his will are cool, but are they useful to their mission? He apparently knew Ron would get frustrated and leave Harry and Hermione; instead of talking with Ron like a normal human adult, he gave Ron a lighter? That tunes in when people mention his name? Come on now, Dumbledore should have done better than that.
He really expected these teens to do a lot of fast and difficult “growing up” without much guidance.
5 Not Teaching Harry Occlumency Himself
Dumbledore admitted at the end of the Order of the Phoenix that he should have taught Harry occlumency himself. He admits that putting Snape in charge of those lessons made it next to impossible for them to be successful.
There’s a theory to be had here—did Dumbledore want the lessons to go poorly because he knew Harry would need to see into Voldemort’s mind in the end? Did he want pair Harry with Snape so Harry could learn the truth about his parents? Maybe JK Rowling needed the plot device for Harry to reckon with the concept of legacy.
Regardless of the literary theories, Dumbledore didn’t help when he could have and should have.
4 Argus Filch’s Role at Hogwarts
It’s a special kind of cruel irony that Filch’s main duties were cleaning the castle when he was a Squib. After all, there are so many cleaning spells that witches and wizards have come up with that would have made keeping the castle clean a breeze for anyone else. We see Molly use so many even just during our brief moments at The Burrow.
It’s possible that Dumbledore brought Filch on so that Filch could stay in the magical world instead of having to live life in the muggle world, but he probably could have found a different job for him.
3 Leaving Sirius in Azkaban
The evidence that led to Sirius’s conviction is not airtight, but it’s convincing. Everyone believed he would be the Potter’s Secret Keeper. He was found having committed a rampage, clearly suffering some kind of breakdown after the shock of their deaths. Everyone even thought he’d killed Peter Pettigrew.
But couldn’t Dumbledore have performed Legilimency on Sirius to see his memories of that day before he was sent to Azkaban? As a member of the original Order of the Phoenix and the closest friend of the family Voldemort was directly after, Sirius and Dumbledore would have been in close contact! Obviously, Legilimency isn’t a foolproof method either as people can edit their memories false memories, but Dumbledore is known to be skilled enough to see that. Why did he let Sirius be driven insane for 12 years when he would have known better than anyone how much Sirius loved the Potters?
2 His Treatment of His Family
In his old age, Dumbledore is a general for the good side. A brave and brilliant fighter of Voldemort and all that is evil. Unfortunately, he had a darker youth. It’s understandable that a brilliant young man fresh from Hogwarts would want to do his own thing instead of be trapped in a small town to care for an ill sibling. It’s a bit selfish, but understandable.
However, his friendship with Gellert Grindelwald led directly to the death of his youngest sister Ariana. Though her death was an accident, and it was probably what spurred Dumbledore to detach himself from Grindelwald and pursue good for the rest of his life, his treatment of Aberforth thereafter is not great. It seems the two never repaired their relationship, and Dumbledore doesn’t seem to have any contact with him.
1 Sequestering Himself From the School
Despite being the Headmaster, we don’t see much of Dumbledore throughout the series. He’s a sort of benevolent character on high, one who is never quite reachable. Harry is often desperate to talk to him, only for Dumbledore to be impossible to find.
That’s terrible. Dumbledore is not as involved in the day-to-day functions of Hogwarts as one might hope. Do any of the teachers have a boss, really? Is that why Gilderoy Lockhart got away with being useless for a year? Is that how Snape managed to bully the students? We’re never eager to agree with Lucius Malfoy, but maybe Dumbledore really wasn’t the best choice for Headmaster.