The Harry Potter film series came to an explosive conclusion in 2011, with Harry finally defeating Voldemort. And there were many revelations too: we learned that Snape had been working as a double-agent the whole time, loyal to Dumbledore; that Harry was one of the seven Horcruxes; and that he was also able to survive the Killing Curse during the Battle of Hogwarts.
It's that last part, though, that even to this day confuses some fans. Naturally, many assume that Harry was able to survive the Killing Curse because the spell only destroyed the part of Voldemort that lived inside him – the Horcrux. But that's only half the reason. The answer is in the title of the story itself – Deathly Hallows. So, the question is: Is Harry Potter the Master of Death?
Don't worry – we don't expect you to re-read The Tales of Beedle the Bard, which first appeared as a fictional book in Deathly Hallows but has since been re-adapted into a real one. And you don't need to stream the entire Harry Potter movie series online or re-visit the epic last book, either. We've got you covered, in plain and simple Muggle terms.
What are the Deathly Hallows?
In Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part I, we learn all about the three Deathly Hallows. They are the Elder Wand, the Invisibility Cloak, and the Resurrection Stone. Hermione reads to Harry and Ron a story from The Tales of Beedle the Bard, book witches and wizards grow up with, which contains a number of Wizarding World fairy tales, one of them being The Tale of the Three Brothers.
As that story goes, three brothers reach a river too dangerous to cross, where they forge a bridge out of magic. Feeling cheated, Death appears, who tricks the three men into thinking they have been clever to evade him, and offers each of them a prize: the most powerful wand in existence; a stone that can bring back loved ones; and his own cloak, which allows him to go unseen.
At this point in Deathly Hallows, Voldemort is hunting the Elder Wand, which he knows Dumbledore won from dark wizard Grindelwald long ago. Harry realizes what Voldemort is up to, but at the end of Part I, Voldemort finally acquires it from Dumbledore's tomb, with which he intends to kill Harry.
Harry, however, is still in possession of the Invisibility Cloak, which he has owned since Sorcerer's Stone after Dumbledore gave it to him, while the Resurrection Stone is hidden inside Harry's Golden Snitch, which is posthumously gifted to him by Dumbledore.
What happens if you have all three Deathly Hallows?
Being in possession of just one of the Deathly Hallows gives one great advantage over Death: the Elder Wand makes you the most powerful witch or wizard in existence; having the Resurrection Stone allows you to call upon deceased loved ones from beyond the grave, and the Invisibility Cloak gives you the power to go through the world ‘unseen' by Death. But it is said that anyone who has ever been in possession of all three Deathly Hallows becomes the ‘Master of Death.'
By the end of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part II, we know that Harry has been the owner of all three: he was given both the Invisibility Cloak and the Resurrection Stone by Dumbledore, and he won the Elder Wand from Draco Malfoy – before even Voldemort assumed control of the wand for his final showdown with Harry during the Battle of Hogwarts - making Harry the owner of the wand.
This makes Harry the true owner of the Elder Wand, and also explains why it never worked properly for Voldemort. And, in case you're wondering, the reason Voldemort isn't going after all three Deathly Hallows is that he is unaware of them. Like Harry, he has raised a Muggle and isn't familiar with Wizarding World stories like The Tales of Beedle the Bard. Had Voldemort have known about them, he may have made efforts to seek all three (the same can be said about a Time-Turner). With that said, he had already made plenty of insurances to become immortal, including his precious Horcruxes.
What is the Master of Death?
The Master of Death is someone who possesses all three of the Deathly Hallows at the same time. But it is believed that being the Master of Death doesn't grant one immortality, but that it is rather a title one carries, having accepted death – which in itself is a form of defeat, and also a form of immortality, depending on your perspective. This is what Dumbledore says of becoming Master of Death: "The true master does not seek to run away from Death. He accepts that he must die, and understands that there are far, far worse things in the living world than dying."
But then it's no surprise Dumbledore knows so much, having been in possession of all three Deathly Hallows himself throughout his life. During their youth, Dumbledore and dark-lord-to-be Gellert Grindelwald became obsessed with finding and uniting the three Deathly Hallows and becoming Masters of Death.
So is Dumbledore a Master of Death? After all, he too previously owned all three Deathly Hallows – he borrowed the Invisibility Cloak from James Potter, he came upon the Resurrection Stone which, like the cloak, he later gives to Harry, and he was the owner of the Elder Wand. In that case, is Dumbledore really dead? Well, that requires its own in-depth analysis.
Related: Why Didn't Harry Potter Die: As a Baby, When Voldemort Killed Him, When Voldemort Died, and From the Basilisk Explained
Is Harry Potter immortal?
First of all, while we know that Harry is the Master of Death, it's worth noting that he breaks the Elder Wand at the end of Deathly Hallows, and casts the pieces into a canyon near Hogwarts, realizing that such a powerful object is too dangerous to keep, and with no desire himself to be the most powerful wizard alive. While a noble act, does this strip Harry of his title ‘Master of Death? No, it doesn't. We must also remember that, after recalling his loved ones in the Forbidden Forest before he faces Voldemort, he drops the Resurrection Stone, seemingly uninterested in keeping it any longer, with no further use for it.
This act represents a bold step Harry is about to make, which is facing and accepting his death at the hands of Voldemort. And only in accepting death does Harry become the true Master of Death. And when you add the fact that he doesn't care for Elder Wand either, this only strengthens his case. So it doesn't really matter that he casts aside both the Resurrection Stone and the Elder Wand- the point is that Harry owned all three Deathly Hallows simultaneously, and accepted death at the same time.
Either way, Harry survives Voldemort's Killing Curse – which is otherwise impossible for any witch or wizard. So, however, you choose to look at it, and for whatever reason Harry earns that power, whether it's because he has owned all three Deathly Hallows, accepted death, or all of the above, he is the Master of Death. Or, perhaps more fittingly, the Boy Who Could Not Be Killed. But is he immortal? It's unlikely we'll ever get a real answer, but it looks like the evidence is already there. He defeats death – both literally and figuratively. He survives Voldemort's Killing Curse because he is the Master of Death.
With all that said, will Harry Potter live forever? In Cursed Child, Harry Potter is 19 years older than he was when he left Hogwarts, so we know that he ages just like everyone else. But that doesn't really prove anything. Perhaps then, a future Harry Potter movie may reveal that the Boy Who Lived is actually the Boy Who Lives Forever. But for now, we'll have to make do with Fantastic Beasts 3, which releases on July 15, 2022. And in the meantime, we also have the open-world game Hogwarts Legacy to look forward to this year.