The Harry Potter and Fantastic Beasts movies may paint him as a hero, but secretly, Dumbledore is actually a villain. It’s a well-established fact that Albus Dumbledore is one of the most powerful people in the Wizarding World. Multiple movies in the universe’s two franchises have clearly stated as much, so it’s hard to argue against. However, there’s a vague assertion that Dumbledore is a paragon of wizardly virtue that protagonists Newt Scamander and Harry Potter admire deeply, and this skims over the character’s true nature.

In Fantastic Beasts, the safety of the human world is threatened by the dark wizard Grindelwald. When young magizoologist Newt Scamander finds himself embroiled in Grindelwald’s schemes to ignite a war between the magical and non-magical populations, Dumbledore steps in. Acting as Newt’s mentor, Dumbledore works to keep the peace between the two societies. So far, so good.

In Harry Potter, the titular wizard is pitted against the man who murdered his parents. Again, Dumbledore is the mentor to the younger protagonist, and again, he has a connection with the main antagonist. It’s a curious pattern, and it’s one that subtly defines the powerful older wizard. Despite the movies portraying Dumbledore as a hero, he’s far from it. In fact, Dumbledore is a villain.

Dumbledore Once Worked Against Muggles With Grindelwald

Jude Law as Albus Dumbledore pointing a wand at Mads Mikkelsen as Gellert Grindelwald

Firstly, it’s important to remember that Dumble once worked alongside Grindelwald. In fact, the movies even imply that Dumbledore was once every bit as anti-muggle as the franchise’s antagonist. The pair once shared a romantic connection that saw Dumbledore take a fierce stance against the non-magical population.

Despite being a key plot point, the movies largely gloss over Dumbledore and Grindelwald’s connection. Fantastic Beasts: The Secrets of Dumbledore even focuses on the pair’s bond, but somehow manages to paint Dumbledore in a sympathetic light. Remembering that Dumbledore was once as much of a magical fascist as Grindelwald or Voldemort is key to understanding what makes him a villain, but it’s also something that the movies don’t want to examine too closely.

Dumbledore Saw Tom Riddle’s Dark Potential – And Let It Happen Anyway

Michael Gambon as Albus Dumbledore talking to young Tom Riddle in an orphanage

Perhaps the most morally ambiguous piece of evidence for Dumbledore’s villainy is his treatment of young Tom Riddle. Riddle eventually grows into the dark wizard Voldemort, and Dumbledore shares his memory of first meeting him with Harry. In their first interaction, Dumbledore recognizes the darkness inside Riddle but chooses to give the boy an opportunity to learn magic anyway. Commendable – at least, at first.

Once Riddle arrives at Hogwarts, Dumbledore continues to see Riddle’s dark streak develop. However, instead of taking the young orphan under his wing (like he later does with Harry), he leaves him to his inner darkness. This neglect is ultimately what causes Riddle to become Voldemort – there’s no one to teach him that his views about muggles are wrong, so he continues to hate them. Still, given Dumbledore’s own history with muggles and magical supremacy, maybe he did mentor Riddle after all… just not in a good way.

Dumbledore’s Treatment Of Harry Proves That He’s A Villain

Daniel Radcliffe as Harry Potter standing with Michael Gambon as Albus Dumbledore

Though his neglect of Riddle may have been the catalyst for his dark future, Dumbledore’s attitude towards Harry Potter is arguably worse. First, Dumbledore abandons the boy with an abusive family that doesn’t respect the magical world. Then, he drip-feeds him whatever information he deems necessary over a period of years. (He later admits that this was an act of pure manipulation.) He repeatedly places Harry in harm’s way, all of which is in the name of stopping Voldemort. Considering that Voldemort may only be evil because Dumbledore refused to help him, this all looks pretty bad.

What makes Dumbledore so awful is that he repeatedly manipulates those around him. He’s happy to side with Grindelwald at first, then stops him with extreme prejudice after changing his mind. He refuses to help young Tom Riddle, then later enlists another orphan to kill him when he realizes his mistake. He rarely owns up to his own mistakes in any real way, and certainly isn’t forthcoming about them. Most importantly, Dumbledore is happy to act as a role model to impressionable young wizards, then twists their purpose to his own ends without even a shred of remorse. Albus Dumbledore may be incredibly powerful, but he’s far from a hero – he’s actually a villain.