Listen to me, the disapproval of cowards is praise to the brave. Your name will be written in glory when wizards rule the world.Gellert Grindelwald explaining his ideology to Gunnar Grimmson.
For the greater good.Grindelwald's motto.
Gellert Grindelwald is the overarching antagonist and pivotal background character in the Wizarding World franchise. He appears as a minor character in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 1 and the main antagonist of the Harry Potter prequel series Fantastic Beasts.
He was an old friend and lover of Albus Dumbledore before his downward spiral into villainy, resulting in him becoming his arch-nemesis, and was considered to be one of the most powerful and dangerous Dark Wizards of all time, with Lord Voldemort considered to be the only one able to surpass him.
Believing that wizardkind was oppressed by the non-magical, Grindelwald sought to establish a new world order in which Witches and Wizards ruled over Muggles, claiming that his actions were "for the greater good". Over time, he managed to get a following that would serve as advisors and enforcers of his cause.
- In his youth, Grindelwald was portrayed by Jamie Campbell Bower, who also played Vecna in Stranger Things and Caius in Twilight.
- In his old age, he was portrayed by Michael Byrne, who also played Colonel Vogel in Indiana Jones in the Last Crusade.
- In his prime, he was portrayed by Johnny Depp in the first two films, who also played John Shooter in Secret Window, Sweeney Todd in Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street, John Dillinger in Public Enemies, The Wolf in Into the Woods and Lanfranco Cassetti in Murder on the Orient Express. From the third film and onwards, he was portrayed by Mads Mikkelsen, who also played Le Chiffre in Casino Royale, Captain Rochefort in The Three Musketeers, Hannibal Lecter in the NBC television series Hannibal and Kaecilius in Doctor Strange.
- Additionally, under his disguise as Percival Graves, he was portrayed by Colin Farrell, who also played Bullseye in Daredevil, Bobby Pellitt in Horrible Bosses, Jerry Dandridge in the Fright Night remake, Carl Hauser in the Total Recall remake and Oswald Cobblepot in The Batman. Depp and Farrell both also played versions of Tony Shepard in The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus.
Gellert Grindelwald was educated at the Durmstrang Institute, a reputed school of wizardcraft in Northern Scandinavia, rather infamous for its tolerance towards the Dark Arts, but was expelled when he was 16 years old due to his unethical experiments and near fatal attacks on other students, which was a foresight to the destructive dark magic abilities he would acquire in the future.
Keenly interested in history, lore, and the powerful mystique of magical artifacts, Grindelwald became fascinated with the Deathly Hallows, to the point of appropriating their runic symbol as his emblem and irremovably engraving it on the walls of Durmstrang prior to his departure.
Relationship with Dumbledore
After expulsion, Gellert's quest for information about the Hallows led him to Godric's Hollow, England, where Ignotus Peverell, said to have been the first owner of Death's Cloak of Invisibility, had been laid to rest. Conveniently, his great-aunt, acclaimed wizarding historian Bathilda Bagshot, lived there and provided a place for him to stay, complete with a treasure trove of books and documents and a minimum of supervision. It was in Godric's Hollow in late 1898 or early 1899 that Grindelwald met and befriended Albus Dumbledore.
The two teenagers had a lot in common: they were class-topping intellectuals and talented young wizards who were idealistic and ambitious. Albus, who felt trapped in a boring town out of familial obligation, gained a glamorous and attractive connection to the excitement of faraway places and things in Gellert. Gellert, an ego case, gained a powerful ally, complete with stimulating conversation, who didn't threaten his sense of control. It is clear that the pair were very close and the friendship was genuine on both sides, even as close as a romance bonded. They shaped one another's ideas, powers, as well as destinies from that day forth.
They also shared two preoccupations. The Deathly Hallows held their fascination for many shared reasons, but their most fundamental reasons they did not quite have in common. Gellert wanted (together with his friend) to acquire all three and wield the power of the Master of Death.
They also dreamed of overturning the Statute of Secrecy and creating a new order in which wise and powerful wizards and witches were the benevolent overlords of their world, including Muggles. Again, Dumbledore's reasons were subtly different from Grindelwald's, because as a young man, Dumbledore had witnessed and been powerless to stop a group of Muggle boys tormenting his younger sister Ariana, to the point that the sweet-natured girl suffered an emotional breakdown and her repressed magic became dangerously unstable.
Dumbledore's father was sent to Azkaban for taking revenge on the Muggle boys and his mother was killed in one of Ariana's accidents. He wanted power to protect his loved ones (and by extension the whole world) against cruelty and xenophobia like that shown by the Muggles. They coined the phrase that would become Grindelwald's slogan and the justification for his moral indiscretions and atrocities: "For the Greater Good".
The friends' plans to leave Godric's Hollow, acquire power, and begin their revolution turned serious. When Dumbledore's brother Aberforth became aware of this in the summer of 1899, he was disgusted with Albus' ambition, but was concerned about it as well, knowing that he and Ariana would need to be brought along as she would not receive the care and attention she needed to keep her stable. The tense situation boiled over into a confrontation and Grindelwald, enraged, inflicted the Cruciatus Curse on Aberforth.
Albus moved to defend his brother, igniting a vicious three-way duel in which Ariana was accidentally killed. Aberforth and Albus were devastated. Apparently, although he didn't give her much attention, Grindelwald still felt remorse, as he had truly considered Albus a friend and was willing to tolerate and bring her with them. Unwilling to face Albus, he fled the country and received putative blame for Ariana's death, thus confirming his place on the wrong side of the law and touching off his career as a Dark revolutionary, which would last until 1945.
Following his acquisition of the Elder Wand, Grindelwald began amassing an army of followers. Eventually he and his legions of "fanatics" launched several devastating attacks across Europe, committing mass-slaughter, and garnering international attention from wizarding authorities. Several of the attacks also drew the attention of the Muggle world, risking exposure and war. In response to Grindewald's actions an international wizardhunt ensued, and was reported on in periodicals such as the Daily Prophet and the The New York Ghost
At some point Grindelwald was almost captured, but was able to evade his pursuers, and disappear. Magical Congress of the United States of America President, Seraphina Picquery would later lay the blame for Grindelwald's escape on Swiss delegate Heinrich Eberstadt, claiming that he had let the dark wizard "slip through his fingers".
Fantastic Beasts and Where To Find Them
Unbeknownst to Picquery, Grindelwald had already infiltrated MACUSA by assuming the identity of her right-hand man Percival Graves. Grindelwald believed the mysterious attacks occurring in New York City to be the work of a powerful Obscurial, which he felt would be a great asset for his plans of world domination. Using his disguise as Graves, Grindelwald came into regular contact with Credence Barebone, whom he believed to be connected to the Obscurial due to a vision he received. Believing Credence was an orphaned Squib, Grindelwald pretended to be his father figure and manipulated him into helping him find the Obscurial with the promise of protecting him from his abusive adoptive mother and teaching him magic.
During this time, Grindelwald (as Graves) arrested Newt Scamander, whose escaped beasts were believed by MACUSA to be the cause of the Obscurial's attacks. During his interrogation, Grindelwald discovered the Obscurus within Newt's suitcase, and in an effort to hide his tracks, had him and Tina Goldstein sentenced to death. Afterwards, he approached Credence after Mary Lou Barebone was killed by the Obscurial and had him track down his adoptive sister Modesty Barebone, believing her to be the source of the Obscurial. Once they found Modesty, Grindelwald cruelly rejected Credence, as he had no further use of him.
Will we die, just a little?Grindelwald's last words before he is taken.
This angered Credence, who then revealed that he was the Obscurial, much to Grindelwald's surprise. Grindelwald attempted to convince Credence that he had nothing to fear any more and to join his ranks, but this further angered Credence, who began rampaging through the city. After the Obscurial's death at the hands of the Aurors, Grindelwald was apprehended by Newt, who then revealed his real identity.
Massing his forces: Crimes of Grindelwald
Grindelwald eventually established a prison, Nurmengard in Austria, to serve as a headquarters for himself and his followers, apparently sufficiently impregnable that he was later imprisoned in it, inaccessible to his former supporters and breached only by Voldemort. Not much is yet known about the "for the greater good revolution", but in the flashbacks of the beginning of the first Fantastic Beasts film, we see he killed a large group of Aurors with a single curse while he was in Switzerland and he apparently caused an explosion at an as of yet unspecified location that appeared to kill many Muggles and Wizards alike.
He eventually established a following of devoted acolytes which he used to carry out his various dirty work, such as 6 months after his daring escape from MACUSA with the help of newly defected Abernathy, he and the rest of his followers, including his loyal lieutenant Vinda Rosier, killed a wealthy Muggle family in Paris and established a temporary headquarters in the now vacant Mansion. Later, when he calls his followers and any who sympathized with his cause to meet at the Lestrange family tomb, he showed them his vision of the future horrors of WWII, which managed to convince a large number of wizards to join him, including the usually sweet and pure-hearted Queenie Goldstein and Credence Barebone, before killing Leta Lestrange with blue Fiendfyre and setting it loose upon Paris before disapparating back to Nurmengard. There, he reveals to Credence his true identity as Aurelius Dumbledore, which he supposedly confirms with the presence of a Phoenix, an animal closely associated with the Dumbledore family and gifts the boy with a wand of his own. He then witnesses Aurelius focus his power to destroy a mountain and simply smiles as he promises Aurelius they would "remake this world."
At some point in the future he murders Viktor Krum's grandfather, and presumably there were many others. As of yet no other information is available about the events that transpired during his reign of terror across continental Europe but as more films are released in the Fantastic Beasts series, so too will be more information of the various crimes and acts of terror he has committed in his lifetime.
Battle Against Dumbledore
In 1945, at the height of his power, his former friend Dumbledore confronted him due to the cries of the public and defeated him in what became known as a legendary duel. Albus Dumbledore hesitated to confront Grindelwald, despite the belief held by many, including quite possibly both men themselves, that he was the only wizard skillful enough to stop his former friend. His reasons for hesitating may have included residual affection for his ex-flame, residual sympathy for his revolutionary goals, or shame over his role in shaping Grindelwald's revolution, but the reason Dumbledore himself gave Harry was that he was afraid Grindelwald knew better than he did who exactly was responsible for killing Ariana and he didn't want to find out. But Dumbledore, at this point about 63 years old and Head of Transfiguration at Hogwarts, was finally importuned by people who suffered from his former friend's actions to move against him. Eyewitnesses stated that it was the greatest duel ever fought between wizards. Dumbledore bested Grindelwald, becoming the master of the Elder Wand. He was convicted and imprisoned in the topmost cell of Nurmengard, where he spent the rest of his life until his murder by Voldemort.
In 1998, 53 years after his defeat, Grindelwald was slain in his prison cell by Lord Voldemort, who was searching for the Elder Wand as part of his plan to seize control of the Wizarding World. It was only during the confrontation in Grindelwald's cell that Voldemort learned Albus Dumbledore had claimed the wand long ago. Grindelwald showed no fear during this confrontation, saying he welcomed death. An enraged Voldemort then ended Grindelwald's life with the Killing Curse.
Grindelwald was charming, brilliant and enthusiastic as a young wizard. His attraction to the Dark Arts, noted previously, was predictable given his personality and background, and partially malevolent in its initial stages, although initially more in self-interest.
He was highly intelligent, magically talented, idealistic, as well as ambitious to the point of ruthlessness, with a vicious temper: for example, when Aberforth Dumbledore challenged his and Albus's plans and tried to convince his brother to abandon them, Grindelwald "lost control" and used the Cruciatus Curse on Aberforth. This displays that Grindelwald was not only fully willing to cause pain to those who oppose him, but he also was capable of taking enjoyment in it. This remained as he grew to adulthood, although it was tempered with remarkable self-control: he showed outright anger at Tina for interrupting his attempts to persuade Credence to join him, but restrained himself enough to not waste time trying to kill her, instead pursuing Credence to continue his goal, and did not allow his rage to cloud his dueling prowess when fighting Newt, swiftly besting him and not allowing him a chance to retaliate as he furiously bombarded him with lightning curses to kill him, unrelenting until Credence attacked him.
This was exemplified when despite his utter rage of the injustice MACUSA treated Credence with, Grindelwald once again remained focused on defeating the Aurors, showing his capability to control his emotions, which he would have done with ease had Newt not interfered; he even seemed to have been willing to avoid confrontation until the shield was reinstated and he had no other choice. When Leta deceived and destroyed his Skull-Hookah, he was so outraged that he killed her and then unleashed the fire on Paris.
While arrogant and self-centered, Grindelwald was capable of recognizing talent in others and forming close attachments to others. He had very little patience for those he considered to be below him. While he considered and treated Albus Dumbledore as an equal, he was dismissive of the less talented Abelforth and the permanently damaged Ariana. Also evidenced further was while Grindelwald praised the tremendous power of Credence Barebone as an Obscurial, he initially callously dismissed him as he believed him to be a Squib, implying that Grindelwald had a weakness for jumping into conclusions when he had thought it to be clear. He also appears to value power and skill as he questioned why Newt was favored by Albus, as he apparently saw Newt as only a mediocre wizard, and thus unworthy of having the favor of someone as powerful and great as Dumbledore.
There is evidence that Grindelwald regained some perspective after his downfall. When Grindelwald faced certain death at the hands of the only Dark Wizard to ever be considered more powerful and dangerous than himself; he was openly defiant and even mocking, goading Voldemort into killing him. Indeed, he seemed to exhibit a grotesque remnant of the "merry, wild" temperament of his youth. His last words consisted of the dressing-down of Voldemort and a rather demonstrative outlook on "the next great adventure" seems clear in its connection to his old friend, Albus Dumbledore.
Perhaps due to his great skill and beliefs in his own superiority, Grindelwald was almost fearless. This is best shown during his aforementioned encounter with Lord Voldemort where he neither feared the Dark Lord's power or the likelihood of death. His nearly complete lack of fear was shown by the fact that he was unfazed when captured by MACUSA despite their tendency to execute captured criminals. Even in conditions when he felt fear, Grindelwald could still display a remarkable amount of calmness, as he confidently and calmly tried to recruit Credence in his phenomenally dangerous Obscurial form.
The only one Grindelwald did seem to have genuine fear of appears to be Albus Dumbledore, as he quickly fled the scene after Ariana was killed trying to intervene in a duel he started, and later in life when he refrained from attacking England despite his possession of the Elder Wand out of fear of his former friend. Dumbledore himself later told Harry that he believed that Grindelwald feared the possibility of dueling him.
Although arrogant, Grindelwald, being such an intelligent and, albeit perversely, wise man, fully recognized that although he was most likely the most powerful wizard of the time, the only possible contender being Dumbledore, he would not be able to win against the world on his own, and henceforth, he relied just as much on his strategical and charismatic leadership skills, raising an entire army in his revolution and creating carefully-woven plans for success in his goals often, as well as being able to see and use the emotions of others to get them to join him. His cleverness and persuasive tongue, as well as emotional perception, made him perhaps the most skilled orator and tactician the series had ever seen, possibly surpassing his successor Lord Voldemort in terms of sheer cunning, as he was not blinded by feelings of superiority and fully willing to rely on allies. Treated as a celebrity by the audience of his rally as he affectionately called his supporters "brothers and sisters", Grindelwald successfully used the discontent of those members of the Wizarding World that harboured anti-Muggle sentiments very strongly as a case for his cause, while making the Aurors, the actual noble defenders, look like the tyrannical ones, along with the knowledge of the impending World War II to near-entirely convince all of his audience to join him, showing how far his mastery of public speaking extended, being able to mystify and terrify any individual, even those who ultimately chose to not join him, inspiring fanatical loyalty in each word he said to gain global support.
Grindelwald was also fully capable of applying this to individual persons as he could easily tell the most prominent emotions and desires of individuals to use to his advantage: He effortlessly exploited Credence Barebone by appealing to the boy in a way nobody else tried to and offering to accept the boy into his ranks and later on successfully turned him to his side by promising him knowledge and purpose, even overpowering the boy's friendship with Nagini. He also effortlessly persuaded the peaceful, kind, and compassionate Queenie Goldstein to join his cause by promising to abolish such laws as Rappaport's Law, thus promising to bring Queenie and others a newfound freedom to love whomever they please, taking advantage of the latter's desperation to be with Jacob to the point even Jacob himself was unable to persuade Queenie not to join him.
In addition to this, he was able to operate very independently if needed, as he single-handedly infiltrated the MACUSA, and was able to mimic the personality of Percival Graves for an extended period time without arousing suspicion. Even at times when he made an error, Grindelwald could mostly deal with them with his composure and swift ability to make judgements, as he soundly recognized Newt had come to suspect his identity, and sentenced him and Tina to death to cover his tracks before quickly continuing to try to persuade Credence to join him after learning he was the Obscurial calmly despite his phenomenal power and anger.
Despite all his evilness, Grindelwald was ultimately a lesser villain in comparison to Lord Voldemort. Unlike Voldemort's self-serving actions motivated by his extreme egomania and pure bigotry, Grindelwald did what he genuinely believed was best for the Wizarding World.
Unlike Voldemort's utter hatred for and complete devotion to the eradication of all non-magical individuals, Grindelwald was more benign in that he only ever desired to conquer them, considering them foolish and arrogant beings who needed to be shown the way, and despite his ruthlessness towards Muggles, he did believe that they would benefit under magical rule. He also admits that while he believes muggles as beasts of burden, he states that it is a necessary one, even reminding Vinda Rosier that they will not massacre all of them as they are not merciless and only want freedom to be themselves. He also claimed to the witches and wizards who attended his rally that Muggles in his eyes had worth and value, and were not lesser, only different. Unlike his followers, who are shown to be sadistically enjoying killing a muggle couple in Paris, despite ordering it to commandeer their house as a base, Grindelwald showed no pleasure at all, retaining a somber demeanor, indicating while he was more than willing to kill muggles, he didn't take it to where he sadistically felt joy and when they heard the muggle baby in the other room, while allowing one of his followers to kill the child, he lingered for a while, seeming to indicate some remorse in killing the innocent baby.
In stark comparison to Voldemort's treatment of his Death Eaters, where he faked compassion that could quickly turn into ruthless torture and demands of them should they fail and refusal to change his mind even if they disagreed as well as secrecy, Grindelwald seemed to genuinely value his followers and willing to reward them and has also shown actual consideration of their feelings and trust of them: he went out of his way to rescue Abernathy even though he could have just apparated away after they took him and afterwards restored his tongue and praised him for his loyalty. When interacting with his acolytes, Grindelwald treated them with genuine respect and like equal partners instead of mere soldiers and had no reservations handing out important assignments to his followers with complete faith in their ability to set the path for Credence to join him. That said, whether he truly respects and values them or only acts like he does to secure their loyalty has yet to be determined.
By his last days, Grindelwald seemed to have contemplated on his actions and began feeling remorse for them, enough so that when Voldemort came, Grindelwald denied ever having the Elder Wand in an attempt to redeem himself and he seemed to show his care for Dumbledore by not telling him that it was in his grave, proving he retained some respect and affection for Dumbledore despite his old friend turned enemy being the reason for his defeat.
Grindelwald was an outstandingly talented wizard beginning in his youth while still a student at Durmstrang, where he excelled in various fields of magic, and according to Rita Skeeter, showed himself to be precociously brilliant as Albus Dumbledore, who was considered by his friend Elphias Doge to be the most brilliant student Hogwarts had ever seen, in terms of magical ability in their youth, inducing the two young men to quickly befriend one another. As an adult, Grindelwald was a terrifyingly powerful and accomplished sorcerer of near unrivaled skill, and was feared by much of the Wizarding World during his reign of terror in the Global Wizarding War and was considered to be the one of most powerful and dangerous dark wizards of all time, his already extraordinary powers being enhanced by his mastery of the Elder Wand, allowing him to perform spells that would be more powerful than normally magically possible. Henceforth, Grindelwald successfully terrorized much of the Wizarding World, defeating so many in his reign of terror, that Dumbledore eventually was deemed by the British Ministry of Magic to be the only wizard who could possibly stand any chance of defeating Grindelwald, with even those who despised Dumbledore, such as Torquil Travers, admitting such. Indeed, Grindelwald claimed that Creadence was the only entity alive who could kill Dumbledore. In the end, Grindelwald's power proved to be great enough that Dumbledore, despite his strong desire not to engage Grindelwald, was eventually forced to take action, with the whole world having considered Dumbledore as the only one who had a chance of defeating him. Indeed, although he was ultimately defeated, during their magical combat, it was said that their power and skill were at such standards that none had ever seen before in the history of wizardkind and their duel went down as the greatest duel ever fought between two wizards, being such a significant battle that it was said to rival events as grand as the establishment of the ISS and the defeat of Lord Voldemort, with Dumbledore himself acknowledging Grindelwald's power rivaled his, at least with the Elder Wand, and Dumbledore was only a shade more skillful, indicating that Grindelwald must have pushed Dumbledore to his absolute limits, even if he was ultimately defeated. Overall, he can be considered the second most powerful dark wizard in the series and easily one of the most powerful wizards in history.
- Magic Mastery: Grindelwald was noted to be extremely talented and prodigiously skilled while still a student of Durmstrang Institute, showing himself to be quite precociously brilliant as Dumbledore, which induced the two young men to quickly befriend one another in their youth. As an adult, Grindelwald was considered to be one of the most powerful Dark Wizards of all time and feared by most of the Wizarding World to the point of being considered unstoppable. With the Elder Wand enhancing his already terrifying ability, Grindelwald successfully terrorized much of the Wizarding World, defeating so many in his reign of terror, that Dumbledore eventually was deemed by the British Ministry of Magic to be the only wizard who could possibly stand any chance of defeating Grindelwald, with even those who despised Dumbledore, such as Torquil Travers, admitting such. Indeed, Grindelwald claimed that Creadence was the only enity alive who could kill Dumbledore. In the end, Grindelwald's power proved to be great enough that Dumbledore, despite his strong desire not to engage Grindelwald, was eventually forced to take action. Dumbledore himself described Grindelwald as being as powerful as he is and only a shade more skillful.
- Dark Arts: Grindelwald was exceptionally talented in the Dark Arts and possessed a passion for it even from a young age. Even when he was still only a student of Durmstrang, Grindelwald's experiments in the Dark Arts were already very dangerous, even nearly fatal to the fellow Durmstrang students he attacked; eventually his "twisted experiments" became too dangerous for even Dumstrang's tolerant outlook on the Dark Arts, resulting in his expulsion. Even While still seventeen, Grindelwald was already adept at casting the extremely powerful Cruciatus Curse, which was one of the three Unforgivable Curses and required a considerable level of magic, notably using it against Aberforth Dumbledore. By the time he became an adult, Grindelwald was widely considered to be one of the most powerful practitioners of the Dark Arts. While impersonating Percival Graves, Grindelwald displayed the ability to cast a curse that emitted a bolt of lightning, which inflicted immense pain on those hit by it, which Grindelwald used to torture Newt Scamander. Grindelwald was also capable of casting an extraordinarily powerful dark magic fire spell that he was able to control an extraordinary degree, effortlessly killing Aurors in mid-apparition and it was far more powerful than Fiendfyre and with the potential to destroy all of Paris had it not been contained.
- Charms: Grindelwald was extremely skilled in charms. Albus Dumbledore claimed that when he was still seventeen, Grindelwald could already cast a Disillusionment Charm strong enough to effectively render himself invisible without needing to use an invisibility cloak just like himself, which is a tremendous feat, implying Grindelwald's mastery of Charms was comparable to him, who was so masterful in Charms he was considered the Grand Sorcerer. As such, the Cloak of Invisibility would be the Hallow that Grindelwald was least interested in, and continued his search for it only because the Cloak completed the trio of legendary artifacts. During his time impersonating Graves, Grindelwald was able to effortlessly use the Summoning and Levitation Charms to great effect wandlessly and non-verbally, pulling Newt's suitcase and the magical orb containing an Obsurus from Newt's case to himself and levitating a car all with mere hand gestures without any strain. While escaping his Incarceration Carriage, Grindelwald used various charms to quickly defeat the Aurors without once speaking a word, manifesting several snakes with heads and ropes to hurl the Aurors out and quickly filling the carriage with sufficient water to nearly drown all inside. After the MACUSA cut out the imprisoned Grindelwald's tongue, he was able to return his ability to speak by giving himself a new tongue, and conjuring a new forked tongue for his new ally Abernathy. Later, Grindelwald used his skull-hookah to conjure up detailed projected images of Credence Barebone and the latter's Obscurus, for his acolytes to see. Grindelwald also displayed phenomenal mastery over the Shield Charm, and proved himself capable of repelling a barrage of spells fired at him by around thirty trained Aurors simultaneously with relative ease. While using the Elder Wand, he was capable of casting an incredibly complex modified fiery version of the Shield Charm, which conjured an incredibly powerful protective ring of fearsome blue fire around the caster, making it so that anyone loyal to Grindelwald could enter the flame circle unharmed, while those who were disloyal or inadequately loyal (such as Krall) disintegrated instantly when touched by the flames.
- Healing magic: Grindelwald had a high understanding of healing charms, being able to heal the cuts on Credence Barebone's hands by simply touching them.
- Transfiguration: Grindelwald was exceptionally proficient in Transfiguration, even at the highest levels, such as Human Transfiguration. His skills in Human Transfiguration was sufficient to transform himself to assume the identity of Percival Graves for an extended period of time without raising suspicions. Grindelwald was also highly proficient at Conjuration, capable of effortlessly instantly conjuring not only snakes with heads, which he did to force the Aurors off the carriage, but even a tongue for Abernathy.
- Apparition: Grindelwald was extremely skilled in Apparation, comparable to Dumbledore, as he can apparate silently too. He was capable of Apparating with pin-point precision and speed, as shown by how he had little trouble avoiding the violent attacks of Credence's huge Obscurus by rapidly apparating, and he easily apparated to the bottom of his speedily flying Incarceration Carriage, while disguised as Abernathy.
- Divination: Grindelwald was a Seer of extraordinary power and unlike most seers like Sybil Trelawney, he was also considerably knowledgeable and well-versed in the magical art of Divination that allowed him to successfully retain consciousness while receiving his visions and accurately interpret them as well as even craft an artifact in the form of a skull-hookah capable of enhancing his visions and showing them to others. He had a vision of a powerful Obsurus and could identify the meanings of the vision enough to foresee that Credence Barebone was related to said Obscurus but due to his belief that no Obscurus was ever meant to survive into teenage hood, he was unable to predict Credence was the Obscurus. He was so powerful that he was even able to foresee the Second World War in detail ten years before it began and was able to use his skull-hookah to project fearsome images of the future Blitzkrieg and Holocaust for attendees of his rally to see.
- Occlumency: Grindelwald was an incredibly accomplished Occlumens, being able to fully conceal his thoughts from the exceptionally talented Legilimens Queenie Goldstein while under the guise of Percival Graves. He also was capable of using a convincing form of Occlumency that would made a Legilimens attempting to read his mind see faux thoughts, as shown while turning Queenie to his side, he concealed his ulterior motives from her regarding the subjugation of the non-magical population, with promises of granting her the freedom to marry and be with the No-Maj Jacob Kowalski. Even in his older days, and having been imprisoned for fifty-three years in Nurmengard, Grindelwald remained very proficient in the art, as even Lord Voldemort himself (who Snape claimed was the most accomplished Legilimens the world had ever seen) was unable to penetrate Grindelwald's mind to gain information in his search of the Elder Wand.
- Wandless and Nonverbal Magic: Grindelwald was exceptionally skilled in both wandless and nonverbal magic, either of which is highly advanced and often difficult to perform even individually, making Grindelwald's prowess all the more impressive, as he could easily perform both simultaneously. Grindelwald also displayed an exceptional amount of proficiency in Telekinesis above Voldemort's own. In 1926, Grindelwald Summoned Newton Scamander's wand and suitcase over to him, both with a silent wave of his hand. Grindelwald also wandlessly lifted Newt Scamander from the ground from across the room and then made him, Porpentina Goldstein and Jacob Kowalski simultaneously drop to their knees with their arms locked behind against their backs. When he interrogated Newt soon thereafter, he summoned the protective orb containing an Obscurus by silently gesturing it forth. He later saved the life of Credence Barebone from an oncoming train in the New York City Subway by hurling him sideways off the tracks with a wave of his wand. He was even able to send an automobile flying across a street at Tina Goldstein with a silent wave of his hand. By using only silent hand gestures, he generated forceful shockwaves to move and otherwise exert force on people and objects. He was able to break apart the ground by sending a shockwave rippling through it, notably performing this on the train tracks Newt Scamander was standing on to knock him down. Grindelwald even easily overpowered around twenty Aurors simultaneously without speaking a single incantation. Grindelwald also healed the cuts on Credence's hand by silently running his own over it. While escaping his Incarceration Carriage, Grindelwald effortlessly disarmed all of the accompanying Aurors inside the carriage of their wands, and made all of those wands hover in air, while pointing at the Aurors. He very quickly defeated all of the remaining Aurors (along with Head of Incarceration Rudolph Spielman) by non-verbally using the Elder Wand, and sent Spielman's wand flying closer to the latter with a clasp of his fingers, while both Spielman and the latter's wand were quickly falling from the prison carriage. Grindelwald later used his skull-hookah to non-verbally project detailed images of Credence Barebone and the latter's Obscurus, and, during his rally, Grindelwald non-verbally used the skull-hookah again to project images of the Muggles' future Second World War, and later even non-verbally generated tremendously powerful blue fire from the Elder Wand.
- Dueling: Gellert Grindelwald was a duelist of terrifying, almost unrivaled skill. Having received thorough training in dueling and all manner of martial magic during his schooling at Durmstrang Institute, Grindelwald was able to hone his skills to match his extraordinary high potential, becoming a fully confident, focused, disciplined and versatile master of combative sorcery, his reactions "marvelous, astounding". Though quite capable of performing magic of tremendous and destructive power, as seen in how he made short work of the five European Aurors who were searching for him with a huge white fiery blast, he generally seems to prefer to engage his adversaries in a more traditional and formal manner, and thereby defeating his foes in a more "fair fight". Grindelwald thus showed a surprisingly defensive dueling style compared to the aggressive dueling style of Lord Voldemort, deflecting his opponents' efforts to subdue him, and slowly advancing upon his foes, before delivering the crushing blow, in order to take in the awe with which they observe the tremendousness of his magical power. Even as a teenager, Grindelwald was already highly proficient in martial magic, having effortlessly overpowered and Stunned Gregorovitch, efficiently enough to master the Elder Wand in an instant, and later even held his own against Albus and Aberforth Dumbledores simultaneously during their three-way duel when they were all in their late teens. As an adult, armed with the Elder Wand, Grindelwald's dueling skills made him look almost undefeatable in a duel, as he defeated and killed many powerful witches and wizards during his reign of terror in the Wizarding World. He also presumably easily overpowered the extremely accomplished Percival Graves, so he could disguise himself as him and infiltrate MACUSA. While impersonating Graves, Grindelwald still displayed tremendous dueling skill, winning every single one-on-one duel (swiftly besting and torturing Newt Scamander, and easily fending off former Auror Tina Goldstein), and upon being unmasked, Grindelwald not only fended off more than twenty highly-trained MACUSA Aurors simultaneously with relative ease, seamlessly switching between offence and defense to both repel and attack his opponents, but he also quickly started to overwhelm his opponents with little difficulty (quite possibly he would have eventually defeated them all had Newt not restrained him from behind). Grindelwald later single-handed escaped from captivity, effortlessly defeating many broomstick-mounted Aurors, and previously soundly defeating the Head of Incarceration Rudolph Spielman and his men in order to take control of the carriage, while simultaneously directing the Thestrals pulling his Incarceration Carriage. Grindelwald also effortlessly overwhelmed the combined might of Leta Lestrange, Head Auror Theseus, and Newt Scamander with little effort, even deflecting a spell from Leta while he had his back to her and then swiftly killing her, previously having killed several Aurors just as they were about to apparate with ease. In Bhutan, he fought Dumbledore for a second time in a brief but extremely ferocious duel, which ended in a stalemate. During his reign of terror, Albus Dumbledore was considered Grindelwald's only possible equal and superior and this made much of the Wizarding World demand Dumbledore fight Grindelwald, even those who despised Dumbledore were willing to admit and push Dumbledore into fighting Grindelwald. Indeed, Dumbledore was eventually forced to take on Grindelwald despite his strong hesitance and although he was ultimately defeated in their confrontation, Grindelwald had notably managed to put up a considerable enough of a fight that it was considered by all who witnessed it to be the greatest duel in history and Dumbledore acknowledged he was as powerful of a duelist as Grindelwald and only a "shade more skillful".
- Elemental Magic Mastery: Grindelwald was extremely accomplished with the manipulation of the elements, particularly fire, lightning, and water, and his mastery apparently could be comparable with even Albus Dumbledore's own. While fighting off 5 European Aurors send after him, Grindelwald incinerated them with a single huge white fiery blast. In his brief duel with Newt Scamander, Grindelwald repeatedly used lightning-based spells to quickly overwhelm his foe, first casting a shock-wave of blue electricity capable of collapsing the ground, and then rendering Newt helpless with several consecutive bolts of blue lightning. While escaping his flying Incarceration Carriage, Grindelwald easily generated and fired massive lightning bolts with pin-point accuracy to shoot down all of the broomstick-mounted Aurors and quickly filled the inside of the carriage with vast amounts of water, nearly drowning all those inside. Later, when fending off Theseus Scamander and his Aurors, Grindelwald conjured a large ring of tremendously powerful blue fire, which he was able to easily manipulate with pin-point precision, precisely casting several columns of blue fire to easily kill many Aurors, even slaying them mid-Apparition. Indeed, this blue fire, while similar to Fiendfyre, far surpassed the latter's power, as it would have destroyed the entirety of Paris had it not been contained just in time. He later on effortlessly conjured a small but sufficiently potent blaze to accelerate the growth of a phoenix from his bare hands.
- Leadership Skills: Grindelwald was an extremely skilled leader. During his younger days, he was already an outstanding leader, having been fully confident that together, he and Dumbledore could start his revolution to conquer the Wizarding World and Muggle World. As an adult, Grindelwald proved his leadership expertise by having quickly managed to single-handedly found and lead a vast army of allies and acolytes during a horrific For the Greater Good revolution so effectively, that he successfully sparked the Global Wizarding War across much of the Wizarding World, and very nearly conquered the magical community, to the point that Albus Dumbledore ultimately saw the need to personally confront and fight Grindelwald, as even Dumbledore's attempts to offer his leadership expertise had proved futile. While disguised as Percival Graves, Grindelwald demonstrated his leadership expertise again by taking over the latter's high-ranking positions in the MACUSA as an Auror, the Head of the Department of Magical Law Enforcement, and the Director of Magical Security, doing so for an extended period of time without even President Picquery suspecting anything, meaning he must have did the job very well.
- Charisma: Even as a young man, Grindelwald was highly talented in manipulating others, such that he was able to manipulate the extremely intelligent and perceptive Albus Dumbledore into agreeing to his ideas of For the Greater Good revolution, and only Aberforth's timely intervention stopped Albus. As an adult, Grindelwald's skills in manipulating others grew even further, with Theseus Scamander describing him as a "charismatic blighter" and Grindelwald successfully convincing numerous wizards and witches to join his cause during rallies, with Grindelwald receiving a standing ovation at his Paris rally, being worshipped as a hero by his fanatical followers. He was also able to effortlessly manipulate Credence Barebone into trusting him by looking as a kind mentor to him in the "Percival Graves" disguise, to the point that Credence was completely unaware that Grindelwald was merely using him. He was also shown to be confident that he could eventually get Credence in his Obscurus form to listen to him, which made him enraged when he was seemingly destroyed by MACUSA Aurors. Indeed, despite previously angering Credence, and despite Nagini's attempts to stop Credence, Grindelwald was able to ultimately manipulate the young man to his side by promising to reveal Credence's true heritage to him as Aurelius Dumbledore, and finally gifting Credence with a proper wand, thus finally succeeding in persuading Credence to attempt to kill Albus Dumbledore for him. Grindelwald was even able to persuade the kind-hearted and compassionate Queenie Goldstein of house Pukwudgie, promising to provide Queenie with the freedom to love and marry Jacob Kowalski, as well as to provide that freedom to others, which was such a persuasive offer, that even her beloved Jacob was unable to dissuade his girlfriend. During his Paris rally, Grindelwald succeeded in convincing almost all of the many attendees to join his cause, who immediately went to spread his propaganda across the Wizarding World at his behest, after a young British Auror in Theseus Scamander's squad killed one of them. During his time in prison, the MACUSA was forced to cut out Grindelwald's tongue, as he kept convincing his jailers to join his side, notably thus swaying the formerly loyal MACUSA employee Abernathy.
- Superb Physical Conditioning and Hand-to-Hand Combat skills: Despite being an old man already during his revolution, Grindelwald was still considerably powerful physically and quite accomplished in hand-to-hand combat. He was able to effortlessly overpower the also physically fit Spielman, quickly overtaking him in close quarters combat and managing to easily drag and lift Spielman with a single hand. His agility and speed was enough to be capable of swiftly climbing atop his flying prison carriage after Apparating right under it, and easily maintaining balance on top of the carriage, despite its very swift flight through heavy rain. Despite physically degrading while imprisoned in Nurmengard, Grindelwald still survived in that prison for 53 years, until Lord Voldemort finally arrived and killed him.
Kill me, then! You will not win, you cannot win! That wand will never, ever be yours!Grindelwald taunting Voldemort, shortly before his death.
A law that has us scuttling like rats in the gutter! A law that demands that we conceal our true nature! A law that directs those under its dominion to cower in fear lest we risk discovery! I ask you, Madam President — I ask all of you — who does this law protect? Us? Or them? I refuse to bow down any longer.Grindelwald, disguised as Percival Graves, explaining his motives.
Will we die, just a little?Gellert Grindelwald.
Mr. Scamander, do you think Dumbledore will mourn for you?Grindelwald taunting Newt Scamander.
- In the first part of the film adaptation of the final book, for sake of sparing time, Grindelwald does not redeem himself as he does in the book, as he tells Voldemort where to find the Elder Wand. Though his death is not made obvious, there is a flash of light as Voldemort Disapparates that could have been the Killing Curse.
- While Grindelwald is described as being blue eyed in the Fantastic Beasts screenplay, the film and merchandise shows him to have Heterochromia iridium, his right eye being light blue or grey, and his left eye being dark, possibly black.
- Both Johnny Depp and Jamie Campbell Bower starred in Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street (2007) as Benjamin Barker and Antony Hope along with Alan Rickman (who played Severus Snape) as Judge Turpin.
- Albus Dumbledore defeated Grindelwald in 1945, the same year the Axis-powers were defeated in WW2.
- Although Grindelwald possesses some of Adolf Hitler's personalities, his own personality is modeled after Benito Mussolini.
- According to Rowling, Grindelwald is a sociopath who we see kill lightly and cold-bloodedly.
- Grindelwald inspires an almost cult-like devotion in his followers. It's very easy, as an outsider, to say 'bad'. We have a tendency to simplify; if we look at what he's saying and analyze it, it does fall apart. However, if you're not paying a lot of attention to the substance, and the inherent contradictions in what he's saying, it sounds very seductive, very plausible, and can persuade people that you or I might consider good people.
- In early November 2020, Johnny Depp announced that Warner Bros. requested him to resign from playing Gellert Grindelwald in the next Fantastic Beasts sequels. Depp agreed, and it was subsequently announced that Mads Mikkelsen would take over the role.
- It was revealed by J. K. Rowling during a tour in 2007 that Albus Dumbledore was homosexual and harboured romantic feelings for Grindelwald. Although she did not initially comment on Grindelwald's sexuality, Rowling later stated in a interview with Melissa Anelli in the enhanced edition of Harry a History that she felt, because Grindelwald was a user and a narcissist, he most likely manipulated Dumbledore's feeling to achieve his own goals. She said that she “[did not] think“ that someone like Grindelwald would reciprocate Dumbledore’s feelings. This left fans wondering about the true nature of their relationship for years. Finally, in 2018, on the Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald digital bonus features, J.K.Rowling clarified Albus Dumbledore and Gellert Grindelwald's relationship: "Their relationship was incredibly intense. It was passionate and it was a love relationship. But as happens in any relationship....... one never knows really what the other person is feeling. You can't know. You can believe you know. So I'm less interested in the sexual side though I believe there is a sexual dimension to this relationship than I am in the sense of the emotions they felt for each other which ultimately is the most fascinating thing about all human relationships."
- When questioned on Grindelwald compared to Voldemort, the Fantastic Beasts cast believed Voldemort was far more evil than Grindelwald, as Zoe Kravitz noted she thought Grindelwald was more complicated than Voldemort while Alison Sudol stated she thought Grindelwald was more evil and Dan Fogler being unsure. When asked who will win in a duel, while Zoe Kravitz said Voldemort, Callum looked unsure and stated "but Harry took him down." and while most of the cast believed Grindelwald would easily win in a fist fight as his body was far more well-built and fit than Voldemort, and Katherine Waterston said she thinks Voldemort would fight dirty and win.