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Lord Voldemort and the Evil Overlord List:

NOTE: This post has possible indirect spoilers for the Harry Potter series, including one that relates to Book 7.

Many fictional Dark Lords have met an untimely demise because they failed to follow the common sense rules of the Evil Overlord List. Now that the Harry Potter series has reached its end, we can determine how well Lord Voldemort followed the advice of the List. Overall, not too badly. However, he might have done better if he paid more attention to the following suggestions:

4. Shooting is not too good for my enemies.

6. I will not gloat over my enemies' predicament before killing them.

11. will be secure in my superiority. Therefore, I will feel no need to prove it by leaving clues in the form of riddles or leaving my weaker enemies alive to show they pose no threat.

78. I will not tell my Legions of Terror "And he must be taken alive!" The command will be "And try to take him alive if it is reasonably practical."

Alan K. Henderson (mail) (www):
There should be a rule on how to keep meddlers from discovering your Horcruxes, or finding out that you have them in the first place.
7.22.2007 3:10am
Dave Hardy (mail) (www):
I will not tell my Legions of Terror "And he must be taken alive!" The command will be "And try to take him alive if it is reasonably practical."

Better yet, "just snuff the SOB." As an Englishman said in the 17th century, when politics was still a very risky business, "stone dead hath no equal."
7.22.2007 3:26am
NYU 3L:
You forgot:

34. I will not turn into a snake. It never helps.

38. If an enemy I have just killed has a younger sibling or offspring anywhere, I will find them and have them killed immediately, instead of waiting for them to grow up harboring feelings of vengeance towards me in my old age. Technically not Voldemort's mistake but Bellatrix's, but still...
7.22.2007 3:43am
Skuld (www):
You also left out:

13) All slain enemies will be cremated, or at least have several rounds of ammunition emptied into them, not left for dead at the bottom of the cliff. The announcement of their deaths, as well as any accompanying celebration, will be deferred until after the aforementioned disposal.

36) I will not imprison members of the same party in the same cell block, let alone the same cell. If they are important prisoners, I will keep the only key to the cell door on my person instead of handing out copies to every bottom-rung guard in the prison.
7.22.2007 4:18am
Jim at FSU (mail):
If you treating the horcruxes as one might treat the phylactery of a D&D Lich, the rules for his dealing with them seem obvious.

For example, wouldn't it make a ton more sense to never even mention that they exist and to hide them in the bowels of the earth rather then hiding them in plain view like so many autobots? Considering that Voledmort would just outlive all his enemies so long as the objects containing his soul remain intact, doesn't that suggest a logical course of action not involving confrontation? It is very odd that someone with Voldemort's potential longevity would choose to accomplish his aims through violence rather than through political and bureaucratic maneuvering.
7.22.2007 5:08am
Gary McGath (www):
Here's a new rule for Voldemort: If I have a mind-control spell and a torture spell available to me, and I'm questioning someone with important information, I should use the mind-control spell, even though torture is more fun.
7.22.2007 10:11am
Sean O'Hara (mail) (www):
The worst part of the new book (spoiler ahoy!) is that Harry's picked up the habit of violating Rule 6 (I will not gloat over my enemies' predicament before killing them) from him. And Voldiepants is too dumb to use it to his advantage.
7.22.2007 10:34am
JBX:

4. Shooting is not too good for my enemies.

6. I will not gloat over my enemies' predicament before killing them.

11. will be secure in my superiority. Therefore, I will feel no need to prove it by leaving clues in the form of riddles or leaving my weaker enemies alive to show they pose no threat.

78. I will not tell my Legions of Terror "And he must be taken alive!" The command will be "And try to take him alive if it is reasonably practical."


The enemies of Austin Powers, Batman, Superman, and many other fictional heroes would do well to heed the same advice.
7.22.2007 11:57am
Just Dropping By (mail):
There should be a rule on how to keep meddlers from discovering your Horcruxes, or finding out that you have them in the first place.

That would seem to arguably fall within the scope of No. 5 on the list:

"The artifact which is the source of my power will not be kept on the Mountain of Despair beyond the River of Fire guarded by the Dragons of Eternity. It will be in my safe-deposit box. The same applies to the object which is my one weakness."
7.22.2007 12:02pm
SG:

That would seem to arguably fall within the scope of No. 5 on the list:

"The artifact which is the source of my power will not be kept on the Mountain of Despair beyond the River of Fire guarded by the Dragons of Eternity. It will be in my safe-deposit box. The same applies to the object which is my one weakness."


To be fair, one of them was kept in a safe-deposit box...
7.22.2007 12:59pm
Bill Woods (mail):
... And V saw the risk of relying on one.
7.22.2007 1:13pm
EnlightenedDuck:
The taken alive order was actually quite reasonable. There was something strange in Voldemort's interaction with Harry, and he wanted to understand it. That, and somebody else succeeding where Voldemort failed would be a threat to his power.

Note that he did achieve power through beuracratic manuevers. When did he gain power through direct confrontation?

Note that the hiding places of every Horocrux other than Nagini was in an out-of-the way place, not the Mountain of Doom. Nobody should have known about the lake. Hogwarts is a secure place, and it was an innocous item in a pile of junk in a place almost nobody knew of. The diary with the Malfoys was the least well guarded inanimate object, and a random item with your loyal followersfollows rule 5.

Voldemort does shoot his enemies. He doesn't shoot them again, but does have a trusted follower verify that they are truly dead. And when does he intentionally leave weaker enemies alive to gloat? Note that he doesn't want to kill wizards, especially purebloods (e.g. Neville). He sees them as valuable followers. What is more, by not killing them, he hopes to help other wizards reconcile themselves to his rule. A smart move. Finally, note that at the climax, his spells were strangely ineffectual, and he hadn't noticed this.

Torture vs. mind control is a good point, though. How much time could he have saved if he had controlled the wand-makers instead of torturing them? Then again, would this have changed the time-line at the end?
7.22.2007 2:23pm
markm (mail):
13) All slain enemies will be cremated, or at least have several rounds of ammunition emptied into them, not left for dead at the bottom of the cliff. The announcement of their deaths, as well as any accompanying celebration, will be deferred until after the aforementioned disposal.

Beheading works well, too (except for demons of Lorn's clan in the TV series Angel). Ghenghis Khan, who once escaped after being captured by his enemies due to their violation of at least one of the rules, was a strong believer in decapitation, and I doubt it was just because of an aesthetic liking for pyramids of skulls. Each pyramid represented a whole lot of enemies that were certainly not going to trouble him again...
7.22.2007 2:40pm
Schorsch (mail):
This is part of the genius of Joss Whedon: He's geek enough to recognize these tired old tropes and avoid them, often pointing out when he does so. C.f. in _Serenity_, when the Operative says "I am unarmed," Mal just shoots him. Priceless.

-=sch=-
7.22.2007 2:52pm
Baronger (mail) (www):

The artifact which is the source of my power will not be kept on the mountain of despair beyond the river of fire guarded by the dragons of eternity. It will be locked up in my safe-deposit box. The same can be said for the artifact that is my one vulnerability.


To be fair Voldemort was never in Gringotts, and probably didn't know they had a dragon guarding it. But yes I thought of the list, when we find out about the safe deposit box.
7.22.2007 2:54pm
JoshL (mail):

To be fair Voldemort was never in Gringotts, and probably didn't know they had a dragon guarding it.


You evidently missed the theft attempt in the first book, which was mentioned at least once in DH as well.
7.22.2007 3:10pm
scote (mail):

The worst part of the new book (spoiler ahoy!) is that Harry's picked up the habit of violating Rule 6 (I will not gloat over my enemies' predicament before killing them) from him. And Voldiepants is too dumb to use it to his advantage.

Indeed, when surprised or angry many of the good guys in HP have that annoying habit of yelling useless objections like, "NOOOOOO" or when they could be yelling spells. Fortunately, the villains seem to suffer the same problem.
7.22.2007 4:39pm
Ella (www):
I'm surprised the list leaves out one of the most important rules - Ignore all prophecies that predict your doom. Your efforts to outsmart the prophecy have already been factored in. You will only hasten your downfall by reacting. Just ask Oedipus's father.
7.22.2007 6:54pm
JonBuck:

This is part of the genius of Joss Whedon: He's geek enough to recognize these tired old tropes and avoid them, often pointing out when he does so. C.f. in _Serenity_, when the Operative says "I am unarmed," Mal just shoots him. Priceless.


I just think of the scene in the pilot when the secret policeman is holding River hostage. Mal et al walk in, the policement starts making demands, but before he can finish, Mal shoots him and they throw the body out the front.
7.22.2007 7:15pm
theobromophile (www):
Spoiler for book 7:

You forgot #42: When I capture the hero, I will make sure I also get his dog, monkey, ferret, or whatever sickeningly cute little animal capable of untying ropes and filching keys happens to follow him around.
7.22.2007 8:24pm
EnlightenedDuck:
RE: #42 - except do note that the "sickingly cute" individual in question did not belong to Harry, nor was he following him around at the time. That mistake was more of the seperate cell block variety, and the necessity of seperating heroes from their personal effects.
7.22.2007 8:31pm
Malvolio:
34. I will not turn into a snake. It never helps.
That was me! That was my personal contribution to the Evil Overlord's List. My proudest achievement. Sad to say.
7.22.2007 9:30pm
theobromophile (www):

RE: #42 - except do note that the "sickingly cute" individual in question did not belong to Harry, nor was he following him around at the time. That mistake was more of the seperate cell block variety, and the necessity of seperating heroes from their personal effects.

Not sure if it would have helped Harry to be separated from his personal effects, as he theoretically could have summoned Kreacher. Dobby did not "belong" to him in the wizard sense of the world, but felt an intense loyalty to him nevertheless.
7.23.2007 2:11am
Ian Argent (mail) (www):
Note that most of the breaches of the Rules for Evil Overlords in re holding prisoners happen at the hands of the minions, who, while loyal, aren't exactly swift on their feet. And they get punished for it, too.

Also, it seems that Imperius may be a great way to get people to do things, it's not such a great way to gather information from them, and it does seem to require a rather lot of forethought on the controller's part.
7.23.2007 11:12am
abb3w:
Probably wouldn't have made much difference, however he also violated:

32. I will not fly into a rage and kill a messenger who brings me bad news just to illustrate how evil I really am. Good messengers are hard to come by.

64. I will see a competent psychiatrist and get cured of all extremely unusual phobias and bizarre compulsive habits which could prove to be a disadvantage.


In defense of that poor idiot VoldeTom, I will point out that internal chronology (clearly locked down by the exact death date of Harry's parents given in Book 7) establishes the books taking place 1991-1998. However, the Evil Overlord List only began development in 1994, and was first published on the WWW in 1996. Furthermore, given his prejudices, the low quality of available sites in those days, and the limited reliability of search at the time, he doubtless dismissed the Web as Muggle foolishness and a complete waste of time (see Rule 100).

As such, it's not utterly unreasonable that he didn't follow what I consider the most important "Zeroth Rule" implied by the Evil Overlords list — "I will read the Evil Overlord's List regularly to make sure I am not doing something lethally stupid".
7.23.2007 1:31pm
Kenvee:

I just think of the scene in the pilot when the secret policeman is holding River hostage. Mal et al walk in, the policement starts making demands, but before he can finish, Mal shoots him and they throw the body out the front.


Or how about the scene in "Train Job" at the end when Mal makes a long speech to the badguy about how they're returning the money for the job they didn't do, they're square, everything's hunky-dory now. Badguy immediately retorts with another speech about how he can run, but they'll never stop chasing them, this isn't over!! Mal replies "darn". . . and kicks him into the ship's engine, then gives the speech to Badguy2, who wisely agrees.

That was the moment that had me falling in love with Firefly.
7.23.2007 2:12pm