‘Harry Potter’: Voldemort’s Death Almost Looked Drastically Different; VFX Went Through ‘Some Crazy Stuff’

In the Harry Potter books penned by J.K. Rowling, Voldemort dies in a very different way than he does in the films’ final installment. What’s more, the designers behind Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows initially had a few other ideas for Lord Voldemort’s death in the movies. Find out exactly how Lord Voldemort’s death differed in the Harry Potter books and films. 

Lord Voldemort during his final battle just before his death
Lord Voldemort (Ralph Fiennes) | Warner Bros. Pictures

Lord Voldemort died in the Great Hall in the ‘Harry Potter’ books 

In Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2, the final battle between Harry (Daniel Radcliffe) and Voldemort (Ralph Fiennes) takes place in the Hogwarts courtyard. Knowing he was the true master of the Elder Wand, Harry cast the Expelliarmus spell to retrieve the wand from Voldemort. When he did, the Killing Curse Voldemort cast rebounded off of Harry, fatally striking Voldemort and killing him.

But in the books, Voldemort died in a very different location. Instead of the courtyard, Harry and Voldemort’s showdown happened in the Great Hall.

As fans pointed out on Reddit, “after the Horcruxes are destroyed, Harry [and] Voldemort duel and Harry gives a speech to Voldemort about love and now he’ll never understand it.” In the end, Rowling described Voldemort’s death like so in the books: “his body feeble and shrunken, the white hands empty, the snake-like face vacant and unknowing.” 

One Horcrux remained as Harry Potter fought Voldemort in the movie

In the Harry Potter movie, all of the Horcruxes weren’t destroyed when Harry and Voldemort started battling, as they were in the books. In the movies, Voldemort had the wear with all to fight Harry. 

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To create suspense, Nagini was still alive when their fight started in the film. When Neville Longbottom killed Nagini with the Sword of Gryffindor, Voldemort was weakened.

This allowed Harry’s spell to overtake Voldemort and retrieve the Elder Wand to stop him once and for all. He disintegrated into ashes — a drastically different and somewhat less dramatic death than what Rowling wrote in her books.

Voldemort’s death almost involved him becoming a tree

As Moving Picture Company VFX supervisor Greg Butler explained to Huff Post, ideas for Voldemort’s death varied. “We went through a whole bunch of concept art,” Butler said. “There’s even some crazy stuff where he becomes this blackened, charcoal-y tree shape that’s growing and then that tree turns to ash and blows away in the wind.” 

It was their goal to create a visual that was unmistakable in letting fans know Voldemort was gone. But it was also about doing the books justice.

“It was important to us, but we knew it was going to be even more important to people who read the books,” said Butler. Ultimately, they decided to go with the disintegration death seen in the movies. 

“[Voldemort’s death] was quiet,” Butler concluded. “It was peaceful. It was physical but also a little magical.”

Some ‘Harry Potter’ fans dislike the way Lord Voldemort dies in the movies 

Despite how much thought Butler and the rest of the people involved in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2 put into Voldemort’s death scene, some fans still prefer what Rowling wrote in the books. “The part that bothers me is how grandiose it is in the movies,” wrote one fan on Reddit. “He disintegrates in front of everyone and they get to celebrate the evil that was vanquished. In the books he just…dies.” 

For this fan and many others, Voldemort dying a death like any other person would have meant more. “It shows after all his scheming, all his evil and cunning and terrible acts, [that] he couldn’t stop the one thing that scared him most, and it doesn’t make a spectacle of it,” they concluded.