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Why Does Voldemort Want To Kill Harry Potter?

 Ralph Fiennes as Voldemort.
Ralph Fiennes as Voldemort.

There are a major franchises, and then there's Harry Potter. Generations have grown up with the Wizarding World, starting with J.K. Rowling's novels and then extending to the beloved Potter film franchise  (which can be streamed with a Max subscription ), theme park attractions, and even a Broadway play. Plus, there's an upcoming  Harry Potter TV show  on the way. But despite just how a part of popular culture Potter is, some fans have lingering questions. Like why the heck does Voldemort want to kill Harry so damn badly throughout the series?

Sure, He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named is a stone cold killer throughout the Harry Potter franchise, but he's always got a method to his madness. Ralph Fiennes played Voldemort  to pitch perfection in the movies, so he might be an expert in the character's motivations... Still, I'll explain the nitty gritty and lore that explained why Voldemort was so focused on Harry for all those years.

Daniel Radcliffe in Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone.
Daniel Radcliffe in Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone.

Voldemort's History With Harry's Family

When Voldemort was at the height of his power, the Wizarding World was a dark and dangerous place. As the First Wizarding War raged on, folks including the OG Order of the Phoenix fought against the Dark Lord and his Deatheater followers. James and Lily Potter were part of that group of rebels, and soon became an an enemy of Voldemort.

Throughout a number of years of resisting the Dark Lord, Lily and James defied Voldemort three different times, the first of which is when they refused to join him and his evil forces. This number of encounters would end up being a super important aspect of their conflict, and is directly connected to why the iconic villain ended up fixating so much on the Potters, and in particular Harry himself. Buckle up, because this is where things get wild.

Ralph Fiennes as Voldemort casting a spell in Harry Potter and The Deathly Hallows Pt. 2
Ralph Fiennes as Voldemort casting a spell in Harry Potter and The Deathly Hallows Pt. 2

The Prophesy That Doomed The Potters

Voldemort was always worried about potential threats, and a prophesy that was made about him proved to be his primary motivation in terrorizing Harry and his family. Sybill Trelawney made a magical prediction about who might be capable of defeating the Dark Lord. It read:

The one with the power to vanquish the Dark Lord approaches... Born to those who have thrice defied him, born as the seventh month dies... and the Dark Lord will mark him as his equal, but he will have power the Dark Lord knows not... and either must die at the hand of the other for neither can live while the other survives... The one with the power to vanquish the Dark Lord will be born as the seventh month dies.

This is a prophesy that shook Voldemort to his core, and ended up dictating his violent actions in 1980. The prophesy was witnessed by Dumbledore himself, foretelling the birth of a boy who would be capable of ending Voldemort. The specifics of the prophesy, especially about  the boy being born to those who "thrice defied" the Dark Lord pointed to two families in particular: The Longbottoms and the Potters.

harry and hermione in godric's hollow
harry and hermione in godric's hollow

Godric's Hollow

As a result of their defiance against Voldemort, as well as the prophesy that their son might be capable of defeating him one day, The Dark Lord made a swift and violent strike against the Potter family. This is the part that even more casual Harry Potter fans know, especially as we saw flashbacks of the event during various points in the movie franchise's run in theaters.

After the Potters' location was given to Voldemort by Peter Pettigrew, the evil villain showed up at Godric's Hollow in 1981 to personally dispose of the pair of rebels. First, James faced Voldemort personally, but unfortunately he didn't have his wand on hand and quickly fell to the killing curse. After that Voldemort found Lily, who died protecting Harry and who unknowingly protected him from the Dark Lord with her magic. That's where Voldemort failed to kill Harry, and gave Daniel Radcliffe's signature character his lightning bolt scar. And just like that, the Boy Who Lived became a nickname for the young child.

Harry Potter and Voldemort in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2.
Harry Potter and Voldemort in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2.

Voldemort's Obsession With Harry

Voldemort didn't fully perish when his killing curse rebounded off of Harry on that fateful 1981 day in Godric's Hollow. Instead he was disembodied, eventually becoming a parasitic host on the back of Professor Quirrell's head. During the years of peace and quiet in the Wizarding World, he plotted and obsessed over the young boy who somehow managed to vanquish him. He would remain singularly focused on Harry throughout the Harry Potter franchise, both on the screen and on the page. Not only for revenge, but also because he still feared that same prophesy.

The Dark Lord used various followers to try and get to Harry, including using Tom Riddle's diary to possess Ginny Weasley and release a Basilisk into the halls of Hogwarts. He wouldn't be able to fully recover and have his own body until the events of Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, where Pettigrew did a dark spell to revive him.

Daniel Radcliffe in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 1
Daniel Radcliffe in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 1

Harry Was Voldemort's Last Horocrux

Voldemort was so obsessed with avoiding death (rightfully so, considering a baby Harry nearly killed him) that he used dark magic to create a series of Horocruxes. The final books and movies follow Harry and his friends as they try to collect and destroy them, finally opening the door for the Dark Lord to be killed for good.

But, there was one wrinkle that the noseless villain didn't consider: that his attempt on Harry's life actually bonded him forever with the Boy Who Lived. In fact, Voldemort unknowingly put some of his life force into Harry in this moment, making the future Gryffindor into yet another Horocrux. This means that in order for Voldemort to perish for good, Harry would have to die.

That's exactly what happened during the Battle for Hogwarts, where Voldemort and Harry ended up meeting in the Forbidden Forest. Luckily Harry would end up miraculously surviving, and would engage in combat against the Dark Lord one more time.

In the end, Voldemort's obsession with Harry was his undoing. If he let Harry survive and simply took him prisoner, there would be no way for him to be killed forever. And, the prophesy was ultimately true, as both Harry and Neville had key parts to play in that final battle.

The Harry Potter franchise is streaming on Max, which is also the home of the Reunion Special and forthcoming TV series. In the meantime, check out the 2024 movie release dates.