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The Deathly Hallows Theory That Will Change How You See Dumbledore

Albus Dumbledore, played in the Harry Potter films by both the late Richard Harris and Michael Gambon, might be one of the most fascinating and layered characters in the entire series — and his final appearance has more meaning than you think. Spoilers for the end of Harry Potter to follow!

Dumbledore serves as Harry's (Daniel Radcliffe) primary mentor throughout the series, and in the sixth book and film, Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, the two set off on a hunt for Voldemort's (Ralph Fiennes) Horcruxes — fragments of his soul — so that they can destroy the Dark wizard once and for all. Tragically, Dumbledore dies at the end of the book and the film, leaving Harry on his own to complete the mystery of not just the Horcruxes, but the Deathly Hallows, three mythical magical items that turn their possessor into the Master of Death.

Comprised of the Elder Wand, the Resurrection Stone, and the Cloak of Invisibility, the Hallows, made famous by a story called "The Tale of the Three Brothers" in The Tales of Beedle the Bard, all actually exist — and according to legend, conquering all three give the owner absolute power over Death itself. Though the book never directly confirms this, there's a pretty compelling theory that Harry himself actually achieves this goal by the end of the final book and film, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows. Here's the Deathly Hallows theory that might explain a huge moment with Dumbledore.

Dumbledore's appearance in Deathly Hallows could mean that Harry is the Master of Death

At the end of Deathly Hallows, after learning that he must die at Voldemort's hands in order to defeat his enemy once and for all, Harry walks calmly towards death in the Forbidden Forest, where Voldemort awaits him. Using the Resurrection Stone to summon his deceased loved ones, including his parents, Harry, like one of the story's three brothers, essentially greets Death like an old friend.

However, instead of simply dying, Harry finds himself in a sort of limbo, and he's not alone; Dumbledore is waiting for him. After explaining that sacrificing himself has killed the Horcrux that was housed within Harry, Dumbledore tells Harry that he can either move on or return to the real world so that he can finally defeat Voldemort, who no longer has Horcruxes to protect him.

At first glance, it might seem deeply confusing as to why Dumbledore is waiting in this odd, in-between space, as if he's been there since his own death, but a theory on Reddit could potentially explain everything. Now that Harry has taken possession of the wand, the cloak, and the stone, he has conquered Death itself, and Dumbledore isn't really the deceased headmaster, but the manifestation of Death itself, greeting Harry like an old friend. Since Harry has come to terms with dying, his vision of death is friendly, serene, and welcoming, taking the form of his beloved mentor.

This theory might not be confirmed, but it definitely makes the final scene with Dumbledore make sense. All of the Harry Potter films, including this scene, are available to rent or buy on major streaming platforms now.