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Albus Dumbledore was unquestionably a great wizard who held lots of influence in the magical community and was an essential figure in Harry Potter's life. I'm sure if you were to ask any Hogwarts students about him, they would say that he is kind and whimsical. But that doesn't change the fact that he is horrible at making decisions. Throughout the Harry Potter series, Dumbledore makes bad choice after bad choice, both before Harry enters the picture and then long after. I love Dumbledore, but he has a serious problem with his judgment.
Dumbledore is making his big return to the series in Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald -- this time as a younger man played by Jude Law -- and once again recruiting others to fight his battles for him. With that in mind, it's time to look back at some of the more questionable actions of this otherwise awesome wizard. Newt Scamander (Eddie Redmayne) better watch his back, because these are the worst decisions that Dumbledore has ever made, ranked in no particular order.
Leaving Harry With An Abusive Family
Let's start right at the beginning of the series, shall we? After his parents are murdered, baby Harry Potter is left with his only living family, the Dursleys. The Durselys are muggles, hate everything about magic, and treat this orphan boy like dirt, making him famously live under the stairs. Perhaps not physically abusive but definitely emotionally abusive, and it was Dumbledore who decided to leave him there! Rather than leave him with a magical foster family that could teach Harry about his heritage and powers, Dumbledore opted to leave him with these suffocating turds because... he wanted Harry to have humility? I'm sure Harry would have preferred keeping his ego in check over a warm bed.
He Sent Kids To A Nightmare Forest For Detention
Hogwarts is a magical place with lots of wacky, whimsical school traditions like playing flying broom sports games. Like any school, it has to discipline its students occasionally, but unlike a regular school, which just gives detention, Hogwarts sends kids into a dark forest riddled with dangerous monsters. Hogwarts is right next to the Forbidden Forest, which houses plenty of peaceful creatures like unicorns and a bunch of dangerous child-eating ones. First-year students who barely know how to make a feather float are sent there in the dead of night with a groundskeeper who legally can't use magic to protect them. Honestly, it's a great scare tactic, but if your students can get eaten by spiders, it's probably not worth it. As the headmaster, Dumbledore can shut this down anytime. He just doesn't.
He Rarely Closes The School During Dangerous Situations
Teaching students magic is going to come with certain danger, but Hogwarts has danger literally built into its walls. It's the hiding place of the Sorcerer's Stone, a basilisk lives in the plumbing, soul-sucking Dementors hung out there for a while, and it housed a tournament where students could die. Essentially, the majority of Harry Potter's school years could have been canceled if Dumbledore wanted, but Hogwarts administration is weirdly more worried about losing a year of education than students getting hurt. Imagine if an alligator was loose at your school for a week, but your principal was like, "Let's wait until after midterms and see how this plays out." The basilisk petrified a handful of students, but Dumbledore didn't go to the Chamber of Secrets himself to take care of the problem.
Letting Snape Be Mean To Kids
Severus Snape was a complicated guy who had a lot of baggage that he never fully worked out. While the decision to hire Snape as a teacher at Hogwarts is spotty, it wasn't without benefits as Snape did supply info Dumbledore needed. But that doesn't mean Dumbledore had to let Snape be a dick to his students! Snape talked down to his students and straight up insulted them. If Snape taught at a muggle school, he'd be fired for any of the stuff he says to Harry. Dumbledore needed Snape for their plan, but Dumbledore could have told him to chill out. After all, Harry thought Snape was responsible for a bunch of evil schemes because he was such a jerk to him.
He Didn't Pay Enough Attention To Voldemort
Hindsight is 20/20, and there's probably no way that anyone could have foreseen Tom Riddle becoming the most dangerous dark wizard who ever lived, but Dumbledore knew that this kid was sketchy right out of the gate. Tom Riddle was a troubled kid who needed help, and while Dumbledore did what he could, there were a lot of clues that Tom was bad news. There was a major red flag when Tom revealed to Dumbledore -- in their first conversation -- that he can talk to snakes, which typically is not a great sign in the Harry Potter world. Then, Tom opens the Chamber of Secrets, and he's really suspicious about it and frames Hagrid for it. He also tries to learn about immortality from Hogwarts' staff. Tom was doing all this under the radar, but Dumbledore was right there when all of this was happening.
He Hired A Teacher With Voldemort On The Back Of His Head
I would love to hear the explanation for this. Professor Quirrell has Voldemort, the Wizarding World's version of Hitler, literally on the back of his head, and no one realized this because he was wearing a hat? Dumbledore usually knows a lot about what's going on, but this feels like a significant oversight. True, Quirrell was an unassuming man, but this guy was sneaking out and sucking unicorn blood at night! Even though the Defense Against the Dark Arts position is cursed, Hogwarts needs a more rigorous interview process.
He Left Riddles Instead of Instructions
Over the course of the series, it becomes increasingly clear that Dumbledore knows a lot more about what's going on, possessing knowledge of the prophecy and the Horcruxes, to name only two major details. Even after his death, Dumbledore was still finding ways to inconvenience Harry Potter by withholding information. In his will, Dumbledore leaves Harry, Ron, and Hermione each one item that will play a pivotal part in their quest to find the Horcruxes. The problem though is that he doesn't tell them what these items are for or how they work, leaving them to figure it out for themselves. I understand that if Dumbledore just told everyone everything, then that would be boring to watch, but he has to throw someone a bone.
Letting Harry Compete In The Triwizard Tournament
In Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, Hogwarts is host to the Triwizard Tournament, which is already sketchy enough but only wizards who have come of age are allowed to compete. The problem is, Harry Potter ends up getting drafted into the tournament in an elaborate scheme by Voldemort to teleport Harry to his resurrection. The whole situation reeks of foul play, something Dumbledore is aware of, but he ultimately relents to let Harry compete to snuff out the enemy's plan. Doing what the bad guy wants is always a great plan. This one is not entirely on Dumbledore, as there's a magical bylaw that forces Harry to compete, but it feels like they could have gotten Harry out of it if they tried. The whole thing ended with one dead student and one alive Voldemort, so it wasn't a great strategy.