Why Did Voldemort Kill Harry’s Parents?


  • The reason Voldemort targeted Harry and killed his parents was due to a prophecy that predicted his downfall.
  • The prophecy mentioned that the person who could vanquish Voldemort would be born in July to parents who had defied him three times and would have powers that Voldemort could not understand.
  • Voldemort chose to mark Harry as his equal and tried to kill him as a baby because he believed Harry would be his ultimate downfall.

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The Harry Potter franchise starts with Voldemort killing Harry’s parents, James and Lily Potter, but it isn’t until Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix that the audience finds out the reason behind this. The titular wizard of the Harry Potter series became renowned, in part, due to his signature lightning bolt scar, both within the Wizarding World and in pop culture. He earned that telltale scar the night he survived an assassination attempt by one of the evilest wizards who has ever lived.

What’s more, Harry is the only known person to ever survive the Avada Kedavra that Lord Voldemort cast against him that terrible night, which made him famous in magical society, earning the epithet “The Boy Who Lived.” Not only did Harry survive, but, that same night, the 15-month-old brought Voldemort’s reign of terror to a temporary end. However, Harry’s parents were killed before Voldemort attempted to murder Harry. However, why did Voldemort target Harry, and murder his parents? The answer is both simple and complicated: It was because of a prophecy.

Updated on October 8, 2023, by Andrea Sandoval: The moment Lord Voldemort decides to kill Harry Potter and his parents not only triggers Harry’s heroic journey but also puts in motion a series of events that end with Harry’s destiny being tied to that of the Dark Lord. We updated this article to include more information about the prophecy that ended with Harry’s parents being killed.

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The Prophecy that Motivated Voldemort to Kill Harry’s Parents

Sybill Trelawnemy seeing the future in the Harry Potter franchise

Severus Snape told Voldemort of a prophecy that predicted his downfall. Before Harry’s birth, Hogwarts Headmaster Albus Dumbledore conducted an interview at The Hog’s Head Inn with Sybill Trelawney for the position of Divination professor. Dumbledore initially was unimpressed with her apparent lack of talent, but then something strange overtook her. Trelawney was struck by a true vision of the prophecy in which she revealed what would cause the downfall of Lord Voldemort. However, Dumbledore was not the only one to hear this prophecy, although he was the only one to experience it in full.

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…

Prior to joining Dumbledore’s side, Severus Snape was a Death Eater in Voldemort’s inner circle, and he overheard part of the prophecy and shared it with his master. Since Lord Voldemort only heard the last part of the prophecy, he interpreted it to mean that Harry was destined to destroy him, and so he set out to find and kill him while he was a baby and, presumably, not yet a threat. There are some key elements of the prophecy: first, it mentions Voldemort’s downfall will come at the hand of a person born in July, whose parents had defied the Dark Lord three times. This person also has power Voldemort can’t understand. Voldemort also will be the one to choose his foe, and one of them will kill the other.

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Why Voldemort Wanted to Kill Harry Potter

Voldemort confronts an infant Harry in the Attack at Godric's Hollow

Even though Voldemort now knew that there would be a wizard capable of defeating him, nothing in Trelawney’s prophecy specifically refers to the Potter family. Yes, James and Lily had defied Voldemort three times, and their son was born in the summer, but they weren’t specifically named. The prophecy could have referred to a different baby, and a different family altogether: the Longbottoms. Frank and Alice Longbottom defied Voldemort three times, and Neville Longbottom was also born at the end of July.

However, the complicated part of the prophecy is how it requires a certain level of self-fulfillment. Voldemort will mark the chosen one as his equal, meaning that in order for the prophecy to come true, Voldemort will select his own worst enemy. That is significant, because it means Harry isn’t chosen by destiny but, instead, by Voldemort himself. Voldemort respected Harry’s parents’ skills and considered their son a more dangerous threat than Neville. Harry’s parents were betrayed by Peter Pettigrew, who gave Voldemort their address. Voldemort immediately murdered James Potter but gave Lily the choice to live. Lily’s sacrifice protected Harry from the Avada Kedavra, and Voldemort ended up fulfilling the prophecy by literally marking Harry as his equal with the lightning scar and also giving him the powers to eventually defeat him.

Voldemort chose Harry because he saw more of himself in Harry than he did in Neville. Voldemort despised his own parents because his father was a muggle and his mother was unexceptional and, in his eyes, pathetic. He hid his half-blood status from his friends and followers, but he saw that Harry’s mother was muggle-born — no better than a muggle in his eyes — and saw a vision of himself, a power from the half-blood status with which they were connected. Voldemort chose Harry over Neville because he believed Harry would be his ultimate downfall. That led directly to the death of James and Lily, who sacrificed themselves trying to save their son’s life, who would eventually defeat Lord Voldemort once and for all.

Every one of the eight Harry Potter films is available to stream on Max.

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