Follow TV Tropes


Characters / Harry Potter: Albus Dumbledore

Go To

Main Character Index | The Trio | Harry James Potter | Ron Bilius Weasley | Hermione Jean Granger | Hogwarts Students | Gryffindor | Slytherin | Ravenclaw | Hufflepuff | Hogwarts Staff | Albus Dumbledore | Severus Snape | Ministry of Magic | Order of the Phoenix Members | Death Eaters | Lord Voldemort | Muggles | Magical Beings | Animals and Pets | Other Characters | Fantastic Beasts | Hogwarts Mystery | Other Canon

Albus Percival Wulfric Brian Dumbledore
"Soon we must all face the choice, between what is right and what is easy."
Click here to see his younger self 

Portrayed by: Richard Harris (Films 1-2), Michael Gambon (Films 3-onward), Toby Regbo (young), Jude Law (The Crimes of Grindelwald), Barry McCarthy (Harry Potter and the Cursed Child, first West End run), TBD (Cursed Child, first Broadway run)

Voiced by: Ichirō Nagai (Japanese), Toshiyuki Morikawa (Japanese/young), Claudio Rodríguez (European Spanish), Cesar Arias (Latin American Spanish. Harry Potter films), Sergio Gutiérrez Coto (Latin American Spanish, The Crimes of Grindelwald) Marc Cassot (French, Harry Potter films), Alexis Victor (French, The Crimes of Grindelwald), Lauro Fabiano (Brazilian Portuguese, Philosopher's Stone-Deathly Hallows Part 1), Mauro Ramos (Brazilian Portuguese, Deathly Hallows Part 2), Alexandre Moreno (Brazilian Portuguese, The Crimes of Grindelwald'')


Appears in: Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them (mentioned only) | Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald | Philosopher’s Stone | Chamber of Secrets | Prisoner of Azkaban | Goblet of Fire | Order of the Phoenix | Half-Blood Prince | Deathly Hallows | Cursed Child | Hogwarts Mystery

"It is our choices, Harry, that show what we truly are, far more than our abilities."

Headmaster of Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, and considered to be the modern Merlin in terms of his magical ability. Like any good old, wise guy, he's extremely vague about everything important he says; he is also humorously eccentric. Founded the Order of the Phoenix, the organization that spearheads the fight against Voldemort; most of the characters in the series are personally loyal to him.

Enjoys tenpin bowling, lemon sherbets, chamber music and a nice view of London from up high. Born in 1881, which ironically makes him born in the zodiac year of the Metal Snake.


    open/close all folders 

  • 100% Adoration Rating: Dumbledore is arguably the most beloved headmaster in all of Hogwarts' history and you'd be hard pressed to find anyone in school walls willing to say a bad thing about him. Even Slytherin students will acknowledge respect for Albus' career and skill as a wizard. As a leader in the overall wizarding community he's also so widely respected that he was offered the post of Minister of Magic three times. Downplayed in Order of the Phoenix due to the smear campaign conducted against him by the Ministry of Magic but he regains his popularity when the Ministry is forced to admit that he was telling the truth about Voldemort's return.
  • The Ace: He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named is so successful that a secret society of wizards risks their world to publicly celebrate his defeat and so powerful that no one, even the stern and mysterious Professor McGonagall, is brave enough to say his name — except for Albus Dumbledore, his only equal for power and brilliance. Harry learns about him from the praise of the first wizard he meets, a trading card about Dumbledore, and the glowing review of an older student (albeit with the caveat that yeah, he is a bit mad). Everything that follows demonstrates that if anything, he surpasses his reputation, comfortably duelling the younger and equally powerful Voldemort to a standstill in the Department of Mysteries, forcing him to resort to trying to possess Harry, and ultimately out-smarting him from beyond the grave. However, under the surface, he's got plenty of issues and flaws.
  • Actor Swap: Portrayed by Richard Harris in the first two films, and subsequently by Michael Gambon after Harris' passing from Hodgkin's disease.
  • Adaptational Wimp: The film version of Dumbledore proves to be much less powerful than his book self while duelling Voldemort in the Order of the Phoenix. The film choreography implies Dumbledore is actually struggling to hold his own, as he grimaces and covers down often, looks downright scared at Voldemort's fiery snake, and even gets knocked down by a spell at one point. Their duel also ends in kind of a cautious stalemate, as Voldemort teleports away by his own decision and leaves both Harry and Dumbledore looking tired and impressed by his power. In stark contrast, the book version of Dumbledore seems to be almost toying with Voldemort: he perfectly counters all of his spells while looking relaxed, allows himself to taunt Voldemort and try to catch him alive instead of going all out, and ultimately forces the dark wizard to resort to trying to possess Harry in order to escape from a decisive binding spell, before finally cutting and running.
  • Adaptation Personality Change: From the fourth movie onwards, his film portrayal becomes quite hammier than his book self, as well as generally more emotional and flappable. Contrary to popular belief, this change didn't come immediately at the point Michael Gambon took over the role, as he still acted a bit more like the serene, poised book Dumbledore in his debut at the third movie - though it can be debated that it was certainly Gambon's acting style, much more extroverted than Harris' candid delivery, which ended up influencing the character into that form. In later films, likely as a response to the backlash, Gambon played Dumbledore much close to the book self.
  • Ain't Too Proud to Beg: Subverted. He wasn't begging for his life as Snape was about to kill him; he was asking Snape to Mercy Kill him.
  • Aloof Big Brother: Make no mistake, Dumbledore loved his brother and sister, and cared for them, but was also emotionally distant due to his brilliant mind. He could also be neglectful whenever he got carried away with his studies. Then Grindelwald came along and made things worse. While Dumbledore ultimately chose his family over Grindelwald when push came to shove, it was too late — Ariana died, and his relationship with Aberforth was strained for decades. One of Dumbledore's biggest regrets (if not the biggest) was that he wasn't a better brother to his siblings.
  • Anti-Hero: Early on, he has shades of being a minor, Classical Anti-Hero, reflecting a mysterious past and questionable decisions. He's eventually revealed to be a Pragmatic Hero, at least in his youth, with ideas of a "greater good" that were mostly discarded in his adult life; he also does a fair bit of manipulation throughout the series proper that is revealed in later school years.
  • The Archmage: We never see him lose a fight, even outnumbered. While there are a lot of brilliant characters in the series, Dumbledore is strongly implied to be the brightest of them all. While a student at Hogwarts, he won just about every honor imaginable. He also demonstrates brilliance in understanding people, long term strategy, politics in addition to a sizable academic knowledge in magic in all its branches.
  • Awesome Mc Coolname: Has a variety of awesome names.
  • Backported Development: Both actors have scenes that take place before the first film, creating a timeline that would imply Dumbledore switched between his two forms multiple times.
  • Bad Powers, Good People: Dumbledore is skilled in dark, forbidden schools of magic including curses and Legilimency. This doesn't diminish Dumbledore's position as the Big Good.
  • Badass Baritone: Michael Gambon's portrayal gives him this.
  • Badass Beard: A long, silvery Wizard Classic beard and he's one of the most powerful wizards alive. It's much shorter in Fantastic Beasts but still counts.
  • Badass Bookworm: Dumbledore's spectacles and wizened beard communicate his scholarly nature, but in Goblet of Fire, these traits make it quite the shock for Harry to see him blow a door open and command an interrogation of a dark wizard with absolute resolve.
  • Badass in Charge: Dumbledore was considered by many to be the most powerful wizard of his time, and his extraordinary powers were admired and feared by even others of outstanding magical talent. Even the Dark Lord Voldemort, who thought himself as the greatest and strongest wizard of them all, had acknowledged that Dumbledore was a very great wizard and secretly feared him. Even though Dumbledore's abilities, while still comparable with Voldemort, had been somewhat diminished since his legendary defeat of Gellert Grindelwald due to old age. However, his skill and experience is such that in the duel at the Department of Mysteries, he effortlessly counters Voldemort's every spell, taunting him in the process, and ultimately forces him to cut and run.
  • Batman Gambit: His ultimate plan to defeat Voldemort hinges on manipulating Voldemort's personality, teaching Harry to do the same, and - more controversially - manipulating Harry by using his nature against him.
  • Be Careful What You Wish For: In his youth Albus bitterly resented having to squander his prodigious talents - as he saw it - to take care of his brother and mentally ill sister and wished to be able to use his potential. He ends up no longer having to take care of Ariana when she dies in the three way duel between Albus, Aberforth and Grindelwald, made worse by the fact that Albus himself may have killed her. This ended up snapping him out of his Well-Intentioned Extremist phase and Aberforth later bitterly lampshades how this event supposedly made Albus "free." Harry instead reveals to Aberforth the effects of the Drink of Despair and how Ariana's death was never what Albus wanted.
  • Belated Backstory: Most of the important parts of his personal history aren't revealed until the seventh book, months after his death.
  • Berserk Button: Anyone threatening students. In book 6, when Harry implies Dumbledore left the students at Hogwarts unprotected.
    ''‘Enough,’ said Dumbledore. He said it quite calmly, and yet Harry fell silent at once; he knew that he had finally crossed some invisible line. ‘Do you think that I have once left the school unprotected during my absences this year? I have not. Tonight, when I leave, there will again be additional protection in place. Please do not suggest that I do not take the safety of my students seriously, Harry.’'
    • Furthermore, the only time we ever see Dumbledore get angry at Umbridge-a Sadistic Teacher who represents the regime that have been slandering him for months, and who is slowly taking over his school-is when she manhandles Marietta.
    I cannot allow you to manhandle my students, Dolores
  • Beware the Nice Ones: He's extremely powerful. And while he's usually a very friendly person, anyone who's ever seen him truly angry was terrified at the sight. On the "list of things you do not fuck with if you wish to live", Dumbledore takes the top spot easily.
    At that moment, Harry fully understood for the first time why people said Dumbledore was the only wizard Voldemort had ever feared. The look upon Dumbledore's face as he stared down at the unconscious form of Mad-Eye Moody was more terrible than Harry could have ever imagined. There was no benign smile upon Dumbledore's face, no twinkle in the eyes behind the spectacles. There was cold fury in every line of the ancient face; a sense of power radiated from Dumbledore as though he were giving off burning heat.
  • Big Good: Head of the school, known as the most powerful wizard of the age and the only one Voldemort feared, and an important mentor figure.
  • Broken Ace: He is talented, powerful, and famous bordering on revered for defeating Grindlewald and leading the fight against Voldemort, both of whom are said to have only feared him out of all wizards. As the books go on, it becomes clear that he's also a deeply lonely man whose intelligence does not prevent him from making emotional mistakes. The "broken" part really kicks when his Dark and Troubled Past is revealed in book seven.
  • Broken Pedestal: Harry respects him far less after Rita Skeeter reports his youthful wizard supremacism.
  • Bunny-Ears Lawyer: Aside from the frequent plans that usually involved him appearing to do absolutely nothing (getting the school temporarily closed down in Chamber of Secrets or getting removed from power in Order of the Phoenix), the opening of Philosopher's Stone contrasts his amazing reputation with his inexplicable quirks.
    Dumbledore: Nitwit! Blubber! Oddment! Tweak!
    Harry: Is he — a bit mad?
    Percy: Mad? He's the greatest wizard in generations! But yes, he is a bit mad.
  • Benevolent Boss: To such an extent that even Jerkass characters like Snape and Filch genuinely like him. He's also kind enough to employ Dobby despite him being a house elf and pays him a far bigger salary than he expected.
  • The Cassandra: The Ministry of Magic declines to believe Dumbledore's claim that Voldemort has returned, and instead raises his sanity into question, claiming that he'd gone senile due to old age.
  • Celibate Hero: He hasn't pursued romance since his young heart was broken.
  • The Chains of Commanding: Dumbledore is greatly burdened by this. Being so much smarter than everyone around him means he's not only lonely but can never not treat people on a need-to-know basis, which might or might not work in the way they expect it. Even someone like Snape, despite his considerable sacrifices is only given a piece of Dumbledore's great plan, offended that he'd rely so obviously on a boy who's not skilled or disciplined, Dumbledore justifies this on pragmatic grounds of withdrawing the most sensitive information from the person with the most precarious position.
  • The Chessmaster: Just about everything in the overarching plot of the series happens thanks to his plotting and machinations. Luckily, his ultimate goal is good and he more guides Harry than manipulates him, but he crosses more than a few moral lines in his plans (including part of his plan to destroy Voldemort involving Harry's sacrifice. If Voldemort hadn't used Harry's blood to regenerate and the Elder Wand plot had not worked out as it did, Harry would have truly died in book seven. Though, as soon as he found out about these, Dumbledore did change his plans to make sure that Harry would be able to survive his "death." However, it still may have been unsuccessful, because Dumbledore only made a guess that the Horcrux inside Harry would be killed instead of Harry himself. He was right but it could have turned out for the worst, as he states).
  • Cloud Cuckoolander: Difficult to tell how much is Obfuscating Stupidity.
  • Coconut Superpowers: The sixth book mentions that his lack of special effects when casting spells is because he has better control.
  • Coffin Contraband: Dumbledore has the Elder Wand buried with him in a sarcophagus, figuring that barely anyone in the Wizarding world would recognize the artifact's significance even if they found it, much less think to check this particular coffin for this particular item. It doesn't work.
  • Cool Old Guy: Extremely old but amazingly affable and friendly to nearly everyone he meets.
  • Cool Teacher: Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald shows he was this when he actually taught. His lessons are shown to be both informative and enjoyable, with the students giving him their full attention and participation. When the Ministry comes to confront him, one of his students preemptively defends him by telling them he's the best teacher the school has.
  • The Corruptible: Dumbledore stayed away from positions of power to avoid becoming a tyrant.
  • The Corruption: In a biological example the curse of Marvolo's ring has this effect on Dumbledore. In a bit of Fridge Brilliance the effect of the curse is very similar to the effects of severe necrosis (premature death of cells) and rhabdomyolysis (death of muscle tissue throughout the body) after a venomous snake bite. Given Voldemort's fondness for snakes this may not have been an accident.
  • Crazy-Prepared: Combined with Indy Ploy, he doesn't know if something crazy will happen like getting assassinated for sure but he has a contingency plan in case namely having Snape kill him as part of a deception. It helps that he was dying already at the time.
  • Cruel and Unusual Death: Defied. He knows that if Marvolo Gaunt's cursed ring doesn't do it, then one of Voldemort's sadists will, so he orders Snape to give him a quick and clean death.
  • Cuckoosnarker: Goes hand-in-hand with his Cloud Cuckoolander personality, especially in the first few books. Once the series progresses, however, he tends to up the snark and drop the cuckoo.
  • Cynicism Catalyst: Inverted — he was going through a Well-Intentioned Extremist phase before the death of his sister Ariana snapped him out of it.
  • Dark and Troubled Past: Dumbledore went through the following events in his lifetime:
    1. his sister was rendered magically unstable due to being attacked by three Muggles
    2. his father was sent to prison for attacking said Muggles,
    3. his mother was accidentally killed by his unstable sister,
    4. he then neglected said sister and spent all his time planning a takeover of the Muggle world ‘for the greater good’ with his alleged crush Gellert Grindelwald, and
    5. he might have accidentally killed his sister in a three-way duel with his brother and Gellert Grindelwald. (What he did while infatuated with Grindelwald effectively turned him celibate).
    6. And there's still the yet-to-be-resolved issue of his (possible) other brother.
  • Defiant to the End: When surrounded by Death Eaters at the end of book 6, weakened and wandless, Dumbledore continues to make light conversation with them, even throwing a few barbs their way, such as implying that the Carrows will be lucky if they reach old age. Subverted when he starts begging to Snape. Double subverted when we learn later he was begging Snape TO kill him as they previously had agreed.
  • Determinator: He does everything in his power to help defeat Voldemort by manipulating Harry into letting Voldemort kill him, thus destroying Voldemort's final Horcrux.
  • Deuteragonist: Is this for the final book, despite him being a Posthumous Character. It is essentially a Sidelong Glance Biopic of his life and all his choices, helping us understand his character, his philosophy and his worldview, with himself as the pivot that connects the entire story.
  • Didn't See That Coming: A master of long-term convoluted planning, not much surprises Dumbledore or leaves him unprepared but finding the Resurrection Stone, the final Deathly Hallow from a quest he abandoned nearly a hundred years in the past in literally the Last Place You Look completely left him free of his senses, causing him to make a rare mistake that starts the endgame of the series.
  • Does Not Like Spam: He avoids Berty Bott's Every-Flavor-Beans after eating a vomit-flavored one in his youth. The one time he tries giving them a chance after that, he gets earwax.
  • Drama-Preserving Handicap: Falls victim to a curse that disables his primary hand at the beginning of book six. Considering Dumbledore was coming off the a book in which he overpowers Fudge and a contingent of Aurors, subdues the remaining Death Eaters Harry & co. were having a protracted battle with in a manner of seconds, and forces Voldemort to retreat after duelling him to a draw, this was probably needed to keep the tension in his and Harry's adventures.
  • The Dreaded: It's repeatedly stated that he's the only person who Voldemort ever genuinely fears. He was even this to Gellert Grindelwald, who is said to have avoided magical Britain for fear of having to face Dumbledore, who was his only magical and intellectual equal. Ironically, Dumbledore feared Grindelwald far more than the latter feared him, albeit for unconventional reasons. Death Eaters also scatter like roaches when they see him.
  • Eccentric Mentor: He is good at playing crazy while still giving valuable lessons to Harry
    "He's a genius! Best wizard in the world! But he is a bit mad, yes."
  • Even the Loving Hero Has Hated Ones: Dumbledore is never shown to be harsh towards anyone, expressing toward Voldemort and the Death-Eaters in the tower only mild sarcasm. However, in the Goblet of Fire, he shows only harshness toward the fanatical Death Pater, patricidal imposter Barty Crouch Jr.
  • Excellent Judge of Character: Is largely very canny about people and has the ability to discern the quality of their character with very little information, which is particularly notable with respect to characters like Snape, who tend to confound other people's impressions of them. The only notable exception is Grindelwald, whom Dumbledore trusted in his youth but grew up to be an infamous dark wizard.
  • Face Death with Dignity: It took him years but Dumbledore has finally adopted this view, seeing death as an inevitability and not something to fear or run from, in sharp contrast to his younger years when he believed he could overcome it and Voldemort who sees death as his worst fear. He shows no fear when he has to get Snape to kill him and, when Harry sees him in the afterlife, Dumbledore's demeanour shows that he is completely accepting of his fate.
    • This can be seen when Snape grimly tells him that he won't live longer than a year due to the curse of Marvolo's ring. He seems completely unbothered by the news.
  • Face Your Fears: He feared Gellert Grindelwald, not because of the man's magical ability, but because of the possibility that Grindelwald knew the truth of the death of his sister. But when Grindelwald's crimes became too great to ignore, Dumbledore stopped standing on the sidelines, steeled himself, and faced his greatest fear in order to end Grindelwald's reign of terror.
  • Fair for Its Day: In-Universe. While wizard supremacist quotes from his youth bother Harry immensely, it's worth pointing out that his teenage years took place a hundred years ago, in a time of immense, institutionalized racism. With that in mind, his comments may seem extreme, but not malicious.
  • Fatal Flaw:
    • When he was young, Dumbledore had a whopping case of Pride, thinking he could conquer death and all evil if everyone listened to him. He snapped out of it with the death of his sister and spent more than a century deliberately avoiding powerful positions because he didn't trust himself. He refused the position of Minister of Magic multiple times, for instance.
    • Another, much more lasting, flaw is emotional cowardice. Dumbledore frequently admits that his reasons for not sharing vital infomation with Harry are simply that he cannot bear to give Harry yet more bad news after everything he's gone through. Even as a young man, his fear of confronting Gellert Grindlewald again keeps him out of the fight for years, prolonging a war that only ended after Dumbledore took the field because Dumbledore couldn't bring himself to face his former friend.
  • Feeling Their Age: Snape mentions to Bellatrix Lestrange and Narcissa Malfoy during their meeting in Half-Blood Prince that Dumbledore's fight with Voldemort "shook" him and attributes Dumbledore being cursed by Marvolo's ring to his reflexes slowing down. Though due to his position as Dumbledore's mole it's likely Snape was exaggerating this, especially since Dumbledore putting on Marvolo's ring was an emotional mistake more than anything. Plus the fact that he even survived putting the ring on is a testament to Dumbledore's incredible skill as a wizard.
  • Figure It Out Yourself: Harry Potter's interactions with him revolve around measured dispensing and denying of plot critical information — all as a "learning experience".
    • In the sixth book, he admits that this was a bad idea. But even then, he still doesn't tell Harry what a Horcrux is, even though he has excellent reasons to do so (Harry doesn't think finding out about them is that important, if he knew what they were, it might move up his priority list).
    • In the seventh book, he implies to Snape that he kept secrets from Harry so that Voldemort wouldn't know through their Psychic Link but likewise he felt that Harry having to commit a Heroic Sacrifice is not something that he can outright tell him.
  • Fireballs: Shot some at an Inferi trying to drag Harry into the water.
  • The First Cut Is the Deepest: His First Love Gellert Grindelwald was even more of a Manipulative Bastard than he was (in fact, it's safe to say that Dumbldore's manipulative tendencies were actually curbed after Grindelwald), and used Albus's attraction to him in order to chain him by his side. When their friendship fell apart with the death of his sister, Dumbledore swore off love for fear of having to endure such an ordeal ever again and losing sight of what's truly important, such as his moral compass.
  • First-Name Basis: With everyone in the series, barring Hagrid, who nobody calls by his first name — but most notably with a certain Tom "Lord Voldemort" Riddle. Dumbledore makes a point of always calling him "Tom", a name he knows Voldemort loathes, as he refuses to play into Voldemort's obsession with making himself more than a man and to show that isn't frightened of him.
  • Foil:
    • To Voldemort. They're generally considered the two most powerful wizards in history and, like Voldemort, Dumbledore once believed that he too could conquer death due to his outsized ego. But Dumbledore grew out of such a belief, has become aware of his flaws and tried to fight them while Voldemort's pride and belief that he could overcome death only grew until it took over his entire life.
    • Also to Percy Weasley. Like Dumbledore, Percy loved his family but couldn't help but feel like an outsider to them. And part of that was because, again like Dumbledore, he longed for fame and glory and for his abilities to at least be recognized. He even went through with abandoning them in pursuit of that, something that Dumbledore had also planned to do with Grindelwald. Luckily for Percy, he eventually got his head screwed on straight and reconciled with his family before it was too late; Dumbledore, unfortunately, didn't see how foolish he was being until it destroyed his remaining family.
  • Foolish Sibling, Responsible Sibling: Initially played straight with Albus and Aberforth but it ends up being zigzagged and deconstructed. Based on what we know of Aberforth before meeting him, Albus - a brilliant prodigy and revered headmaster of a school - seems to be the responsible sibling compared to the bartender who Albus mentions may not be literate and practiced "inappropriate" charms on a goat. Then in Deathly Hallows we discover how foolish and arrogant Albus was in his youth while Aberforth was the responsible one. Albus, in his youth, was intensely aware of his genius and his great potential, and bitterly resented having to squander his gifts, as he saw it, by taking care of his brother and his mentally ill sister. Aberforth, who is more down to earth and every bit as stubborn as Albus, would have been happy to ditch his formal education and care for Ariana, but Albus put his foot down, meaning that Albus's sense of responsibility was what compelled to be the caretaker to his sister so his brother could finish Hogwarts. In other words, the traits that made Albus such a force for good in the world as an adult did him and those around him great harm in his youth. Albus himself believes Aberforth was the better man, calling him "my rough, unlettered, and far more admirable brother."

  • Gambit Roulette: Way too many of his schemes require exceptionally precise combinations of events and circumstances that can't realistically be predicted. For example, his plan for beating Voldemort would have failed he been a little more thorough with one particular murder. In Order of the Phoenix, his attempt at distancing himself from Harry to ensure that Voldemort cannot get access to his secrets does backfire, leading directly to the death of Sirius Black.
  • Genius Sweet Tooth: He admits to being fond of Muggle sweets not long after he's introduced (he even offers McGonagall a sherbet lemon) and the password to get into his office is always a kind of candy.
  • Gentleman and a Scholar: He remains polite and well-mannered in all situations (even to his enemies), and is a renowned scholar known to have worked with Flamel, credited with the discovery of twelve uses of dragon blood as well as known to speak Gobbledegook and Mermish.
  • Glory Seeker: He was this in his youth with disastrous results. After Albus was bitterly resigned to caring for Aberforth and Ariana after his mother's death, Grindelwald stoked Albus's hunger for power and glory with talk of wizard domination. When these dreams ended in Ariana's death and Albus's estrangement from Aberforth, Albus snaps out of it and instead becomes a teacher to avoid the temptations of power.
  • Good Cannot Comprehend Evil: Downplayed case in his regard with Voldemort. Even after learning of the disturbing amount of magical abuse Tom Riddle has commited at the orphanage, Dumbledore tried not to let this knowledge dissuade him from allowing the young wizard from starting anew at Hogwarts and had hoped that Tom may have seen the error of his ways. Nevertheless, he had resolved to keep a close eye on him from then on.
  • Guile Hero: He's a master manipulator and extremely powerful wizard who nevertheless devotes himself to battling Voldemort and regrets lots of his unavoidable yet harsh decisions.
  • Handicapped Badass: Despite suffering from a year-long death curse that's compounded by a particularly nasty potion, he's still fully capable of fighting an army of inferi in Book 6. (In the film, he does it by conjuring up a freaking firestorm. Goddamn!)
  • Heel–Face Turn: As revealed in Deathly Hallows, Dumbledore actually used to be a wizarding supremacist as a teenager, plotting with Grindelwald to overthrow the Ministry of Magic and conquer the Muggle world. While it's implied that he only believed in this because (per Word of God) he was in love with Grindelwald, it's made clear that he was under no illusions as to Grindelwald's intentions. He ultimately abandoned these plans after Grindelwald attacked his younger siblings, resulting in a duel which got his younger sister, Ariana, killed.
  • Hero of Another Story: His involvement with the wizarding war against Grindlewald. Mentioned briefly in book one, and book seven gives way more importance to Grindelwald.
  • Hero with Bad Publicity: In Order of the Phoenix. Cornelius Fudge, desperate to deny Voldemort's return and convinced that Dumbledore wants to usurp his position, uses Ministry of Magic to wage a smear campaign against him. Among other things he's fired from several political positions and branded as senile and dangerous. Averted entirely by Half Blood Prince when the wizarding world discovers that Dumbledore was telling the truth.
  • Heroic Self-Deprecation: Deathly Hallows very clear that despite his confident and wise demeanour, Dumbledore hates himself on a level that no one else could ever hope to achieve. When Aberforth accuses his brother of being relieved and freed with their sister Ariana's death, Harry flashes back to his memory of Dumbledore after drinking the poison in Voldemort's grave, where he was literally begging his memory of Grindelwald to torture and kill him in place of his siblings, and counter-claims that Dumbledore was never free. Indeed, when Harry meets his mentor again in the afterlife, Dumbledore confesses his status as The Corruptible and was terrified of what he could have done if he had ever had free rein, and laments his many mistakes over the years, both before and after the death of Ariana.
  • Honor Before Reason:
    • In Goblet of Fire, he insists on following the official Triwizard Tournament rules and doesn't give any help to Harry or Cedric, even though cheating is considered an traditional part of the tournament and the other school administrators are actively do so for their champions.
    • He kept his reasons for trusting Snape so much a secret. Specifically, when Harry learns that Snape sold his parents out to Voldemort, Harry asks how Dumbledore could possibly trust Snape after that. Dumbledore does seem conflicted on whether to reveal the truth, but ultimately does not, causing Harry to be infuriated with him and deepening Harry's hatred of Snape.
    • Revealing the Death Eaters murdered Cedric which ruins his reputation just because of his respect for the boy.
  • Horrible Judge of Character:
    • Averted in later life, for the most part, as it's even discussed in the final book that Dumbledore understood almost everybody in a way most others did not. He's also the only person to judge Snape and Riddle for exactly what they are - he's the only character to really judge Snape properly, even if he misleads people on his thought process, and one can surmise that his previous experiences with Grindelwald informed his judgement of the future Voldemort.
    • Played straight with Gellert Grindelwald in his youth. By the time Dumbledore met Grindelwald, the latter had already been expelled from Durmstrang for "twisted" experiments in the Dark Arts. The same Durmstrang that is the only confirmed magical school to teach its students the Dark Arts at all. To a normal person that would be a glaring red flag, but Dumbledore was too happy to have a peer, and later, too in love to care. It's also worth noting that it's implied Dumbledore suspected Sirius Black of being The Quisling when in fact, Sirius's defining character trait was his loyalty to his friends (though given that all the evidence at the time was that this was the case, he can be forgiven in this regard).
    • Has a moment of this coupled with the Idiot Ball in Order of the Phoenix. He assigns Snape to teach Harry Occlumency assuming that, even if Snape hates Harry, he will still put his personal feelings aside for something as important as this. He was dead wrong.
    • In the books, Dumbledore has a reputation among his friends and the wider wizarding world as someone who believes in second chances, helping and befriending outcasts, oddballs and people who are regarded, even by wizarding standards, as freaks. Each one of them ultimately vindicates his trust. It helps that on closer inspection, Dumbledore isn't quite as trusting as he comes off at first.
  • Horrifying the Horror:
    • It's repeatedly stated that he's the one person Voldemort (himself the terror of their entire community) ever feared. Harry only starts to understand why around books four and five.
    • It is also said that Grindelwald also similarly feared nobody except Dumbledore, despite having possessed a wand which was more powerful than any other, to the point that even as he was waging war against the entire Wizarding World, he specifically avoided Magical Britain.
  • Idiot Ball:
    • Dumbledore grabs hold of this during Order of the Phoenix, admitting to Harry that keeping Harry out of the loop was wrong on his part to the point of taking partial blame for Sirius' death.
    • He grabs it even harder between Order of the Phoenix and Half-Blood Prince; putting on Marvolo Gaunt's ring when he knew it was a Horcrux in the hopes of seeing his dead sister again has got to be one of the dumbest things he's ever done in his life, and certainly in the series.
  • Informed Ability: Hogwarts' status as a safe haven is mainly attributed to Dumbledore's hawk-like watch over the place. For all the cunning he displays elsewhere, it's worth noting that, in only six years, two Death Eaters slipped onto the payroll as teachers, one of them lugging around Lord Voldemort himself, Slytherin's monster was unleashed on the grounds and carried out five attempted murders, a hunted (presumed) murderer slipped into the grounds repeatedly, once reaching as far in as the bedside of his presumed target, the horde of Dementors hunting said murderer slipped out of control repeatedly and tried to kill a student, a fascist-racist child torturer was legally instated as teacher and later Headmistress while the staff failed to pose effective resistance, underestimation of Draco allowed a squad of Death Eaters to enter the heart of the castle with only a handful of defenders posted and the yearly near-death situations and almost bi-monthly grievous injuries Harry faces while within the grounds. It's no surprise that Hogwarts' blatant unsafeness is a running joke among the fans. On the other hand, the number of casualties on school grounds during his time as Headmaster can be counted on one hand, so maybe he was doing something right after all.
  • Insistent Terminology:
    • Dumbledore is quite serious about maintaining academic decorum and other norms. When Little Tom Riddle started admitting he was interested in coming to Hogwarts, Dumbledore stated that the package deal involves the little punk calling him Professor. Likewise, Dumbledore always insists that Harry call Severus Professor Snape in his presence. The only time he stops is at the end of Book 6 when Harry brings up Snape telling Voldemort the prophecy, leaving him too shocked to correct Harry.
    • Likewise he always insists that Voldemort be referred to by his name, and insists that Harry do the same at the end of Book 1. Whenever he and Voldemort do interact however, he insists on being on a First-Name Basis as if Voldemort never left Hogwarts.
  • Insufferable Genius: Throughout his youth and occasionally in his older age, too. Dumbledore tries to be humble, but can't help but pat himself on the back occasionally. He's proud of his gambit with the Mirror of Erised calling it one of his better ideas. This is given a darker slant in Deathly Hallows where, during his conversation with Harry in King's Cross, he admits that he resented being forced to sacrifice his grand future and look after his family when his father was imprisoned, and that this resentment was part of the reason he fell in with Grindelwald, who was the only one he could find to match his intellect.
  • Intellectually Supported Tyranny: In his youth, Dumbledore exchanged letters with Grindelwald discussing their plans for Muggle domination. Grindelwald sold Dumbledore on the idea that it would be for their own good, and Dumbledore starting coming around, insisting that the essential point to remember is "For the Greater Good". After what happened to Arianna, Dumbledore snapped out of this and regretted it for all his life, remarking to Harry at once, that when intelligent people make mistakes, they actually can be on a much bigger and dangerous scale.
  • Intelligence Equals Isolation: According to Word of God herself, this is Dumbledore's great tragedy. He's so smart and so far ahead of his field, that he doesn't really have any equal or anyone who he can really relate to, leaving him lonely all his life.
    • He apparently did have a close relationship with his family growing up, at least until the attack on Ariana Dumbledore by three Muggle boys which led to his father getting imprisoned in Azkaban. His only close friend during his Hogwarts years was Elphias Doge, and Aberforth and others dismiss him as more of a sidekick than a true friend. The only person Dumbledore thought of as a romantic prospect, and the only one he ever really bonded with was Gellert Grindelwald, whose mind was the only one as equally brilliant as his, which ended in tragedy for all and shut him in even further, as on top of being hard to relate to, Dumbledore became aware of the dangers of being manipulated through strong attachment.
    • Even years later, Dumbledore, despite surrounding himself with other brilliant minds like Snape and McGonagall, doesn't fully open himself up to even them. Snape, much like Harry, resents how Dumbledore doesn't share everything with him and from the way Dumbledore reacted with surprise about Snape's declaration of his love for Lily, it's clear that even they weren't very close. Only Harry, who he loved as his son, really gets to know the real Dumbledore, to the point that Dumbledore lets his guard down with in their final scene together asking him for forgiveness. Even then, that was in the afterlife where Dumbledore was long dead and had nothing to lose. Dumbledore notes that, of all the people he's met, Harry is the only one who has zero interest in power despite every good Freudian Excuse offered by the world to seek it, and the mind and talent to claim and achieve what he wants. Part of why Dumbledore was willing to let his guard down around him was because he knew Harry would never try to use his faults to manipulate him.
  • Intergenerational Friendship: Dumbledore's dynamic with Harry throughout Book 6 becomes this, more or less dispensing with the Headmaster-Student dynamic. In Half-Blood Prince, he comes to meet Harry personally at Privet Drive, gives him private lessons, openly asks his opinions about his appointees (such as Slughorn) and even confesses to Harry that one of his teachers, Trelawney is indeed a hack that Dumbledore hired because parents insisted and demanded Divination as a subject at Hogwarts, and also for her own good (to protect her from Voldemort finding the prophecy). Before Book 6, Dumbledore at least made a show of upholding teacher-student divides as an academic norm, but in Book 6 and in the case of Trelawney (not Snape incidentally), he does make an exception.
  • It's All My Fault: He blurts this out when drinking the potion in The Half-Blood Prince, although Harry doesn't fully understand what he is referring to at the time. It turns out his brother Aberforth does. It is actually his massive guilt over his sister's death, which he sees himself as responsible for. Learning that his brother had blamed himself all this time, leads Aberforth, who had resented Albus over said death, to have a charge of heart.
  • It's Personal: Pottermore reveals that he was friends with at least two of the wizards and witches that Gilderoy Lockhart wiped the memories of so he could claim their accomplishments as his own. He hired him as the DADA teacher because he wanted to expose him as the fraud he was and vindicate his colleagues.
  • I Was Quite a Looker: An 1899 photograph of Dumbledore with Grindelwald shows that he was quite handsome as a youth.
    • Not to mention, in the Fantastic Beasts movies he's played by Jude Law
  • Keeping the Handicap: He never fixed his crooked nose broken by Aberforth, presumably out of guilt over Ariana's death. It seems to be his life philosophy in general: he didn't remove the scar on his left knee because it's a perfect map of the London underground, and refused to remove Harry's forehead scar:
    Even if I could, I wouldn't. Scars can come in useful. I have one myself above my left knee which is a perfect map of the London Underground.
  • Large Ham: It is necessary for him to be one.
  • Living Lie Detector: He has a way of looking at people that makes Harry feel like he's being X-rayed. Dumbledore later confirms that he's good enough at Legilimency to have a very good idea when someone's lying to him.
  • Long-Lived: He's in his 110s during the events of the books, but still in excellent health.
  • Loophole Abuse: He employs this when urging Snape to promise to end his life, under the guise of doing it on behalf of Voldemort. He makes the distinction that Draco Malfoy killing him would damage the boy's soul, whereas Snape's soul would not be harmed due to merely mercy killing Dumbledore to help him avoid the pain and humiliation of being killed by Fenrir Greyback or Bellatrix Lestrange.
  • Love Hurts: Love has never been kind to Albus Dumbledore. The love of his life manipulated him and basically obliterated his little remaining family (both literally and figuratively). Years later, he had to face said man in an epic duel with the fate of the entire world on the line, with his opponent wielding an unbeatable wand no less. Even after somehow managing to make it through that, and having long since sworn off romantic love, love still manages to hurt him. He's forced to manipulate the boy he loves like a son to his death, with said boy's only hope of survival hinging on an educated guess resulting from a combination of Voldemort's arrogance and ignorance, and pure dumb luck. Rather understandably, Dumbledore hates himself — perhaps far more than anyone else could ever hope to.
  • Love Makes You Stupid:
    • Brilliant as he was, Dumbledore's love for Grindelwald blinded him to the man's true nature, the sheer insanity of what he was suggesting, and eventually destroyed his family. Rather understandably, any thoughts of romance Dumbledore had died after that to avoid these kinds of situations. While that didn't stop him from making emotional mistakes for those who he loved like friends and family, he at least was never at risk of being manipulated like that again.
    • Dumbledore admits to Harry at the end of Book 5 that he kept delaying and continued to delay telling Harry the Prophecy because he cared about him and wanted Harry to have as much of a childhood and teenage life he could possibly have before he bestowed his destiny to him. He also tried to distance himself from Harry in the same book because he was worried that Voldemort, if he figured out that their bond had always been "more than headmaster and student", then Voldemort would try to get to Dumbledore through Harry, by possessing him and daring Dumbledore to kill him by attacking Harry.
    • As he admits at the end of Book 7 that this was the reason why he got cursed by one of Voldemort's horcruxes. Somehow, Voldemort's Ring-Horcrux in the Gaunt Shack was the very Resurrection Stone from the Deathly Hallows quest he had cast aside for decades. Rationally he knew that the ring was cursed by one of Voldemort's spells but emotionally he was worried that breaking the curse could damage the stone's magic and lose him his one chance of seeing Arianna and his mother again, and begging them for forgiveness. He admits that this was incredibly stupid and irresponsible and more or less a "Shaggy Dog" Story since the Resurrection Stone indeed survived the breaking of the curse. He sees the events as proof that he was not worthy of the Hallows and being Master of Death.
  • Manipulative Bastard: Though a largely benevolent version who works tirelessly against the Dark Arts, there's really no excuse for him hiring Gilderoy Lockhart, knowing full well that Lockhart is a fake, solely to expose him as a fraud when he could just as easily have just... told someone. A newspaper, the Ministry. Anyone. Of course, while Dumbledore is one of the most respected wizards in the world, Lockhart is exceptionally popular and covered his tracks very well.
    • As the "Fantastic Beasts" series shows he's not above using his relationship with students for his own ends - he sends Newt to Paris to fight Grindelwald in his stead but not out of cowardice, but because a blood oath prevents him from doing it himself.
  • Mercy Kill Arrangement: When he learns that Lord Voldemort has set Draco Malfoy the task of killing him, he tasks Snape with killing him so Malfoy doesn't have to. Plus, he's already dying from Voldemort's curse on Marvolo Gaunt's ring.
  • Moment of Weakness: He's so overcome by the thought of seeing his family again that he forgets that Marvolo's Ring - containing the Resurrection Stone - is a Horcrux and puts it on. This triggers a deadly curse and only Dumbledore's immense skill and Snape's aid buy him roughly a year to live.
  • Mr. Exposition: He explains the plot in every book.
  • My God, What Have I Done?:
    • His greatest regret was potentially accidentally killing his little sister (its never stated who actually landed the blow). He actually flashed back to that memory when he was drinking the potion in The Half-Blood Prince and begged to be killed in her place.
    • Has hints of this in Order of the Phoenix when he realizes that his attempt at distancing himself from Harry to keep Voldemort from reading the boy's mind and getting information instead led to a horrible loss for Harry.
  • My Greatest Failure:
    • A man as old as Dumbledore has had several, but it's safe to say that Gellert Grindelwald was the biggest mistake of his life. His friendship with Grindelwald led to him neglecting his family and espousing anti-muggle bigotry, culminating in an argument with his brother that ended in a melee between all three men that killed their sister, destroying the Dumbledore family forever. After that, Dumbledore gave up on any ambitions for power that he once had and devoted his life to research and academics. If it hadn't been for Grindelwald and, later, Tom Riddle, he would've happily settled into a quiet life as teacher and then headmaster of Hogwarts.
    • He admits to Harry that giving young Tom Riddle a fresh start at Hogwarts was not the right action to take and he should've told Headmaster Dippet and the rest of the Hogwarts staff about the cruelty and bullying he did at the orphanage. Had they all known, they wouldn't have fallen for his charm and have been able to prevent his transgressions at school. Most notably, Dippet would've realized he was the one behind the Chamber of Secrets opening and Professor Slughorn probably would've seen that his questions about Horcruxes went beyond mere curiosity and refuse to tell him anything.
    • He also harbors a lot of guilt in his not intervening and preventing Harry's neglectful and abusive upbringing under the Dursleys. It's also implied that he regrets that he could not apparently figure out any other way of completely killing Voldemort that didn't involve Harry dying outside of an extremely lucky guess. If there had been a way to get the Horcrux out of Harry and/or destroy it without killing him, he probably would've done it first chance he got.
  • Mythical Motifs: Old, powerful, respected, and wise — it's no surprise that his pet is an elderly phoenix.

  • The Needs of the Many: "For the Greater Good" was the motto of both Dumbledore and Grindelwald when they were younger. After their friendship fell apart, Grindelwald used it as an excuse for the many atrocities he committed in pursuit of his ideals, in order to alleviate his guilt. Dumbledore, however, gave it as the reason for his many manipulations in order to defeat Voldemort, and unlike Grindelwald, it was an unfortunate reality he was forced to accept, something that makes him feel more guilty about those actions even though it's the truth.
  • Nice Guy: Dumbledore is very calm, cordial, kind, courteous and caring towards everybody and is very polite to everyone he meets, including his enemies.
  • Nice to the Waiter: Dumbledore is unfailingly kind and fair to all magical creatures. He offered Dobby the full wages and benefits of a human employee, and the chronically oppressed Centaurs and Merpeople came out to honour Dumbledore at his funeral.
  • No Hero to His Valet: Dumbledore's position as Big Good makes him a beacon of wisdom and hope, who look to him for a chance at stopping Voldemort and leave him beloved and admired worldwide. Except to his younger brother, who knows that when Dumbledore was a young man he almost started a wizard-supremacy movement similar to Voldemort's, and didn't realize it was a bad idea until a fight between Dumbledore, Grindelwald and Aberforth resulted in their sister's death. When Dumbledore's spirit shows up in the last book, he admits that his younger brother, who lived a humble, quiet life as a bartender, was ultimately the better man.
  • No Ontological Inertia: When Harry found that he was free from the body-bind spell Dumbledore cast on him, Harry realized that Dumbledore is dead.
  • Not So Omniscient After All: He admits his wisdom is not as absolute as it often seems.
    "I make mistakes like the next man. In fact, being — forgive me — rather cleverer than most men, my mistakes tend to be correspondingly huger."
  • Obfuscating Stupidity: Never stupidity per se, but he nearly always knows a lot more about what's going on than he lets on. Michael Gambon seemed to be working under the impression that all of Dumbledore's Cloud Cuckoolander qualities are cases of this. Notice in his portrayal that he only pulls out an oddity like enjoying knitting patterns when he's intentionally trying to fool somebody or throw them off their guard.
  • Omniscient Morality Licence: Some of the things he says and does could make him seem like an outright Jerkass, but it's all okay because he knows everything about what needs to happen already.
  • OOC Is Serious Business: Dumbledore is always polite and courteous to friend and foe, even greeting the Death Eaters who arrive to assassinate him in Half-Blood Prince cordially, and he never judges people for their actions or behaviour. The one exception is seen in Snape's memories as Snape fearfully tells Dumbledore that he fears for Lily Evans' life, and that he begged for her to be spared at the expense of her husband and son. Dumbledore disgustedly calls Snape out on being willing to let James and Harry die as long as Snape can have what he wants, outright saying, "You disgust me." Even Harry is startled, having never before heard such contempt in Dumbledore's voice.
    • Likewise, as stated before, Dumbledore is endlessly polite and soft-spoken. However, when Umbridge starts to manhandle Marietta for a confession, he absolutely loses it at her. Granted, he does so without doing more than raising his voice, but his demeanour shifts enough that everybody in the room is instantly, and completely cowed, by his reaction.
  • Overly Long Name: "Albus Percival Wulfric Brian Dumbledore." Note that the only thing that makes "Brian" an Odd Name Out is the fact that it is still in (common) use today. It is an old name.
  • Papa Wolf: Again, he "cannot allow you to manhandle [his] students." Which is a polite way of saying that if you try to hurt his students, he will end you. In The Order of the Phoenix, when Voldemort is about to kill Harry, a very angry Dumbledore emerges from the Floo Network and turns Voldemort's gloating session into a very one-sided fight for his life.
  • Parental Substitute: Acted as a father/grandfather figure to Harry.
  • Passive-Aggressive Kombat: Dumbledore has a certain gift for being scathingly condescending yet perfectly polite at the same time, often seen when dealing with people he dislikes.
  • Platonic Life-Partners: He and McGonagall are incredibly close and have been since he was her teacher, some fifty years before Harry went to school. She’s probably the only person to whom he told the whole truth (well, when he was alive) and it’s not even clear that Aberforth even knows it all. By the time of the books, they’re probably the most important people in each other’s life and she’s one of the only people whom he lets question him.
  • Playing with Fire: Created a wall of fire and shot fire balls to protect himself and Harry from Inferi.
  • Posthumous Character: In the seventh book, where he is given immense Character Development through flashbacks and historical exposition.
  • Pride: He knows just how brilliant he is, and despite attempts to consciously rein himself in, often thinks he knows better than others.
  • The Profiler: He plays this role in analysing Voldemort in the sixth book, carefully going over his past, his upbringing and psychology to figure out how many Horcruxes Voldemort made and which objects he would use to do it. He's quite good at this, but then he did teach Tom Riddle at school. He passes his knowledge and analysis to Harry, who, having lived a similar life to Tom Riddle, comes to understand him even better than Dumbledore did while hunting for the Horcruxes.
  • Putting the "Pal" in Principal: He was the Headmaster of Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry for the entirety of Harry Potter's stay there. He is generally well-liked among the forces of good, his approval rating much higher that Cornelius Fudge when he was running for the position of Minister (despite not running himself), is the only person that Lord Voldemort ever feared and is generally accepted as being the Big Good of the series. As Headmaster, he comes off as a bit of a Cloudcuckoolander, but is all-around a loved and respected member of the staff.
  • Reasonable Authority Figure: He is perhaps too easygoing when it comes to Harry, but considering the trouble he tends to attract, it pays to listen when Harry says basilisks/death eaters/trolls/whatever are mucking about. He's one of the few authority figures in the Harry Potter universe who is consistently not evil and on the ball as far as what's going on, and therefore knows well enough to trust the heroes (and occasionally bail them out of school trouble when it's convenient).
  • Running Gag: Offering people sherbet lemons (lemon drops in the American versions), and setting the password to his office as whatever candy he's fond of at the moment. Which is usually one of the weirder ones, like Cockroach Cluster and Acid Pops.
  • Scratchy-Voiced Senior: In the first two films, courtesy of Richard Harris. After his death, Michael Gambon took over and gave him a much stronger and deeper voice.
  • Screw Politeness, I'm a Senior!: In the sixth book, he is a lot less cheery and slips on his Cool Old Guy image, showing little patience for some of Harry's usual excuses and hi-jinks and no longer playing at false modesty. This is probably due to the fact that he's dying, and knows it.
  • Screw the Rules, I'm Doing What's Right!: Even if the Ministry is being Lawful Stupid, Dumbledore will start and prepare for La Résistance behind their backs. The Ministry, in their paranoia, think he's going to pull a coup d'etat and gathering an army for the same reasons. While willing to take the heat for his students wrongdoing he also has no inclination to "come quietly". It's also implied that he used his time of not being confined to Hogwarts to lay some major groundwork for the Horcrux hunt and the resistance.
  • Screw This, I'm Outta Here!: The Ministry attempts to arrest Dumbledore after he claims responsibility for the creation of Dumbledore's Army to protect its members from the Ministry's wrath. He gets away scot-free, however, with help from Fawkes.
  • Secretly Dying: The Gaunt Ring cursed him before book six, giving him less time to live.
  • See the Invisible: Seems to be able to see Harry when he's wearing his Invisibility Cloak. Word of God says he non-verbally casts Hominem Revelio.
  • Ship Tease: His affection for Grindelwald in Deathly Hallows is meant to show that Dumbledore loved Grindelwald, but his feelings were unrequited. It didn't stop Grindelwald from exploiting them for his own benefit, and it's implied he would've allowed their relationship to deepen into something more if it meant Dumbledore would've become a Big Bad Duumvirate with him. Dumbledore never quite got over him, even after he defeated and imprisoned the man in Nurmengard.
  • Single-Target Sexuality: For Gellert Grindelwald. Unlike most examples, however, it wasn't because Dumbledore was incapable of falling in love again after Grindelwald — he simply chose not to in hopes of avoiding someone manipulating him like Grindelwald had.
  • The Smart Guy: Both in the Order of the Phoenix and in Hogwarts, he's the one with wisdom and intelligence to make decisions.
  • Stealth Mentor: Dumbledore serves as this to Harry, who gradually realizes that a lot of the things he tells him have multiple layers of meaning which only make sense years later. One of the more admittedly dickish aspects of his behaviour is the fact that you can see him carefully preparing Harry for the role of sacrificing himself to Voldemort throughout the books, alternately enabling Harry's reckless curiosity and adventuring, and withdrawing and reeling him in for additional information, much like a director feeding an actor the motivations of his role. Snape gradually picks up on this and gives his mentor a scathing speech.
  • Stealth Pun: The door to Dumbledore's office is adorned with a griffin-shaped knocker. In other words, it's a "griffin door."
  • Sweet Tooth: Implied. Aside from his fondness for sherbet lemons, Dumbledore tends to use the names of different types of candy as passwords for access to his office.
  • Taking the Heat: He claims credit for Dumbledore's Army to protect Harry and the other students from being expelled.
  • Teen Genius: His prodigious magical abilities were apparent even as a teenager.
  • Tender Tears: In the books at least, he tends to well up when someone does something heartwarming, like when Harry shows his fierce support of him or when Snape shows his love for Lily by casting his Patronus.
  • Thanatos Gambit: Apart from sparing him an Undignified Death due to the curse on Marvolo's ring, a secondary reason Dumbledore requested that Snape Mercy Kill him was so that he would further gain Voldemort's trust and confidence from that act, which would better allow him to learn more about Voldemort's plans.
  • Together in Death: Dumbledore's fear of death is undercut by his desire to be with his sister and mother. His death was caused by trying to use the Resurrection Stone to see them again, so one can (morbidly) interpret it as the stone giving him what he wanted after all.
  • Too Clever by Half: Teen Genius that he was, young Dumbledore was an arrogant and controlling young man who was bitter at the world, resentful of how his brilliance was being restricted due to the ills of his family — family that he loved, yes, but was resentful of all the same. Then he met Gellert Grindelwald, and fell for a manipulator even worse than he was, setting off a chain events that destroyed the family he neglected. Dumbledore finally wised up after that.
  • Tragic Hero: In his youth, his love for Grindelwald and lust for power made him help with his plans to rule the world, until his sister was killed somehow during the duel between Grindelwald and the Dumbledore brothers. And a year before he died, Albus had brought upon himself a curse when, in an act of impulsiveness, he had failed to remember that the Resurrection Stone was a Horcrux when he put the ring on, because he wanted to see his dead sister again.
  • Tranquil Fury:
    • Dumbledore goes into a variation of this whenever he disciplines his students — however, instead of quiet anger his attitude is quiet disappointment. In the few times Harry has had to be disciplined by Dumbledore, he believes that he would have preferred him shouting in rage. On rare occasions, however, Dumbledore is capable of going into a tranquil fury which is truly something to behold:
      At that moment, Harry fully understood for the first time why people said Dumbledore was the only wizard Voldemort had ever feared. The look upon Dumbledore's face [...] was more terrible than Harry could have ever imagined. There was no benign smile upon Dumbledore's face, no twinkle in the eyes behind the spectacles. There was cold fury in every line of the ancient face; a sense of power radiated from Dumbledore as though he were giving off burning heat.
    • It is not a good idea to harm Dumbledore's students, but he doesn't have to raise his voice to express it. At the end of the fifth book, with most of Harry's friends injured or incapacitated in the Ministry and Voldemort's return made public, Fudge is quelled by Dumbledore's Death Glare and quiet order to "remove Dolores Umbridge from the school" and to have his Aurors stop chasing Hagrid.
    • He shows no signs of anger, but during his visit to the Dursleys when he calmly describes their appalling treatment of Harry, Harry feels a chill emanating from him and notices that the Dursleys draw closer together as if in fear.
    • When Harry sees Snape's memories in Book 7, among them is Dumbledore disgustedly chewing Snape out for seemingly being willing to let Voldemort murder Harry and James Potter so he can finally have Lily to himself.
  • Troll: His response to Umbridge firing Trelawney is to hire Firenze the centaur (Umbridge fanatically hates centaurs) as an "acceptable" replacement. Firenze is more than acceptable, being a centaur who is very well versed in Divination. Dumbledore is being both a troll, and a good headmaster in making sure his students are getting a good education.
    • Dumbledore spends a chunk of his visit to the Dursleys in Half-Blood Prince doing this, literally forcing the Dursleys to sit down and having drinking glasses bat at their heads. Even Harry gets the sense that Dumbledore is enjoying himself and it also serves as a Take That! against the Dursleys for their treatment of Harry.
    • In Prisoner of Azkaban, at the school's Christmas dinner, he gives Snape a cracker that has Augusta Longbottom's hat inside after the entire school learned that Neville vanquished a Bogart in the form of Snape by putting it in his grandmother's clothing. Snape is clearly unamused. Dumbledore then puts the hat on and wears it for the rest of the dinner.
  • Unreliable Narrator: In Dumbledore's commentary on The Tale of the Three Brothers, he dismisses the existence of the Deathly Hallows and even argues against their existence. He also suggests that the objects are simply figments of Beedle's imagination, created simply to highlight the negative consequences of trying to defy death. However, the epynomous novel reveals that Dumbledore was actually aware that the Deathly Hallows were Real After All, and he handled all three at various points in his life. Dumbledore's misdirection here can be justified in that searching for the Hallows in his youth led him to fall in with Grindelwald and his extremist views, and ultimately caused the death of his sister, Ariana. He would then decide that the Hallows are too dangerous for anyone to possess and use, and dedicate a good portion of his life to ensuring that they do not fall into the wrong hands. It should also be noted that the majority of the wizarding world thinks that the tale is nothing more than a fable and do not believe that the Hallows exist. At best, suggesting that the objects are real would lead to Dumbledore being dismissed as a crank, and at worse, draw unwanted attention to the objects, going against his goal of safeguarding them in the first place.
  • Unrequited Love Lasts Forever: Possibly. While the official reason why Dumbledore became a Celibate Hero is because of Grindelwald's manipulations, it's never been explicitly stated that he fell out of love with Grindelwald — just that he swore off ever falling in love again (after all, being in love with two people isn't that rare). Judging by how he reacted to Harry's speculation that Grindelwald still cared for him, it's likely Dumbledore never fully moved on from Grindelwald romantically.
  • Virtual Ghost: His living portrait displayed within Hogwarts, like the numerous others to the long-dead people they respectively represent, is this, but is only actually shown being conversed with in The Cursed Child.
  • War Hero: He received his Order of Merlin (First Class) for winning the wizarding war against Grindelwald.
  • Warts and All: Over the course of the Deathly Hallows, Harry finds his image of Dumbledore tainted as his mentor's past is exposed, and comes to the startling realization that he never truly knew the man at all. His faith in Dumbledore wavers continuously until the end of the book, where he meets Dumbledore in "King's Cross" (Harry's representation of the afterlife) and hears his side of the story. After that, Harry's faith is fully restored, and while he knows the man he saw as a father was far from perfect, he still loves and admires him all the same.
  • Well-Intentioned Extremist:
    • He manipulates those under his guidance and intended for Harry to sacrifice himself to defeat Voldemort, and he once thought that plotting to Take Over the World would be best for everyone. Granted, he suspected that Harry would probably live, but it was still a big risk. However, he only does this when he realizes Harry may be a Horcrux, and this isn't until much later after he puts Harry with the Dursleys. He was not raising Harry for slaughter, but realized that it was the only way to defeat Voldemort (and this only happened because Voldemort manage to restore his body in the first place). It can be argued that it was Harry's choice to sacrifice himself and that Dumbledore did not manipulate him.
    • It's implied that Dumbledore knew Harry would survive especially when he tells Snape it must be Voldemort to kill him in order to destroy the faux Horcrux that Harry had become. It's likely Harry could have been killed by anybody and the faux Horcrux would have been gone. Dumbledore specified this because he believed Harry could survive if it was Voldemort to be the one to do it because of his connection with Harry's blood. Also Dumbledore believed in choices, and for his gambit to work, a real choice has to be made with full awareness of stakes, which is another reason for his hands-off approach.
    • He's perfectly willing to waste his students educations by hiring a man he knows for a fact to be a fraud solely for the chance to expose said man as such. While certainly an admirable goal, one would think that he could have done that without using his students as pawns.
  • We Used to Be Friends: With Gellert Grindelwald. They used to work together finding the Deathly Hallows; that is, until he and Gellert had a fight with each other that resulted in the death of Ariana, Albus's sister.
  • What the Hell, Hero?:
    • His brother Aberforth and others question the way he uses Harry throughout the series. Snape does a particularly good job of calling him out in one of the memory scenes in Deathly Hallows:
    "I have spied for you, lied for you, put myself in mortal danger for you. Everything was supposed to be to keep Lily Potter's son safe. Now you tell me you have been raising him like a pig for slaughter—"
    • He himself calls out Snape when it turns out that Snape begged Voldemort for Lily's life in exchange for Harry's. See You Monster! below.
    • Harry himself calls him out on his treatment in Order of the Phoenix and posthumously, after reading Rita Skeeter's books is appalled that at his age, Dumbledore was planning to Take Over the World with Grindelwald.
  • Wizard Beard: Classic length of facial hair for the archetypal old wise wizard sage.
  • Wizard Classic: While all male magic users are called 'wizards' in the series, Dumbledore specifically fits the wizard image. He's old, wise, has a beard, wears robes and floppy pointy hats, and lives in his office in one of the tallest Hogwarts towers.
  • The Wonka: Extremely powerful wizard... and more than a little bit quirky. Example: announcing that he'd like to "say a few words" at the opening ceremony, and then saying, "Nitwit! Blubber! Oddment! Tweak!" He's the headmaster for a reason.
  • World's Best Warrior: Considered to be the greatest wizard in the world by almost everyone except Voldemort and his Death Eaters, and even they acknowledge (and fear) his skills.
  • You Make Me Sick: Says "You disgust me" to Snape when he asks Dumbeldore to save Lily Potter from Voldemort.
  • You Monster!:
    Dumbledore: If she means so much to you, surely Lord Voldemort will spare her? Could you not ask for mercy for the mother, in exchange for the son? [...] You disgust me.
    • Dumbledore was once on the receiving end of this from Aberforth Dumbledore: he punched him during the funeral, and later from Severus Snape, who is appalled that Dumbledore has anticipated and prepared and trained Harry to sacrifice himself at the right moment, "like a pig for the slaughter" and justifying it on pragmatic grounds.
  • Your Days Are Numbered: After being affected by the curse of Marvolo's Ring Snape gives him up to roughly a year to live, and that's only after managing to delay the spread of the curse.

How well does it match the trope?

Example of:


Media sources: