Lord Voldemort of Harry Potter fame naturally qualifies as an Evil Overlord, so I thought I'd take a look at how Lord Voldemort is doing in terms of the Evil Overlord list.
Please note, there are Spoilers in the text below. I wrote the fist version of this when My wife and I had read a little over half the seventh book. Now that we've finished it, I've been updating it as things occurred to me.
Feel free to leave whatever comments you want, as anyone reading this post has already been warned of impending spoilers.
I'll only mention the Evil Overlord items that are relevant to the Harry Potter story, but I'll stick to the numbering in the original.
1. My Legions of Terror will have helmets with clear plexiglass visors, not face-concealing ones.
This isn't a critical issue for Voldemort, as Pollyjuice Potion is a far more effective disguise than stealing a Death eater cloak. On the down side, it gives the Death Eaters a false sense of anonymity, when a simple gust of wind can blow the hood back.
4. Shooting is not too good for my enemies.
Lord Voldemort has, since the end of "Goblet of Fire" insisted that only HE may kill Harry Potter, and that he needs to be captured alive. Even before this was a formal order he made it clear to the few underlings who knew of his whereabouts that he was the only one allowed to kill Potter. This is, of course, an idiotic and self destructive notion which I'll come back to later. I comment on it here, because Voldemort has made it clear that killing Harry Potter is a treat reserved for Voldemort himself, thus making Harry Potter too good for death at the hand of a mere underling.
5. 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.
Ahh, the Horcruxes. The Diary was casually handed to Lusious Malfoy who got it destroyed in an attempt to attack the Weasleys. Another, the Locket, was hidden in a deep dark cavern guarded by various spells and magically controlled undead. Then there's the fact that he seems to have made a SNAKE another Horcrux.
Which Horcrux looks like it'll be the safest, and thus the hardest to get at?
The one that's been hidden in a vault in the Wizard bank. Even then, it would be PERFECTLY safe if Voldemort had put it in an obscure vault under an assumed name, as opposed to handing it to Bellatrix, his most loyal, yet excitable and unstable servant. Her panic caused Harry to learn a Horcrux was stored in her vault.
Even then, if Voldemort and company had not been abusing the Goblins, Harry wouldn't have a disgruntled and tortured Goblin as an ally in trying to break in and steal the Horcrux.
As Jundland points out in the comments below:
Even in spite of entrusting it to the Lestranges, and mistreating the Goblins, the Horcrux might still have been safe if it were not for the fact that it violates Rule Five by being guarded by a Dragon. It should be noted that it was the dragon itself that allowed Harry and Hermione to escape the vault with the Horcrux.
This is an excellent point that I had not noticed before. It's probably safe to assume that a Dragon would not have been used to guard the vault had the Horcrux been placed in an obscure vault under an assumed name. Voldemort pretty much ignored rule 5 all around. Had he taken more sensible care of his Horcruxes he would have remained virtually immortal.
6. I will not gloat over my enemies' predicament before killing them.
Voldemort not only gloated over Harry at the end of "Goblet of Fire" he waited until his followers had been gathered to kill him as part of a spectacle. The SMART thing to do would have been to Kill the unarmed and still bound Harry the moment he had a new body, and showed off the corpse to his Death Eaters when they showed up.
7. When I've captured my adversary and he says, "Look, before you kill me, will you at least tell me what this is all about?" I'll say, "No." and shoot him. No, on second thought I'll shoot him then say "No."
WHAT possessed Voldemort to spend time Monologuing to Harry after he'd already used his blood to create a new body?
10. I will not interrogate my enemies in the inner sanctum -- a small hotel well outside my borders will work just as well.
Using the Malfoy house as a base of operations, AFTER the Malfoys had already failed him numerous times (More on that later) and using their cellar to interrogate, torture and hold prisoners proved unwise, in part because it meant all his prisoners were in one place, and thus rescued in one fell swoop.
11. I 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.
What's up with locking enemies away in the Wizard Prison instead of just killing them? Voldemort himself greatly reinforced his ranks with a mass breakout from Azkaban. Why didn't it ever occur to him that his enemies could potentially do the same? Azkaban is NOT a secure location for prisoners, in part because the loyalty of the Dementors turns on a dime.
He clearly saw Lovegood as enough of a threat to hold her at the Malfoy's instead of the Wizard prison, why didn't he kill her? She may be a bit nutty, but she's already confronted Death Eaters, has proven herself more than a match for some of them and is intensely loyal to Harry Potter. She's part of the inner circle that would probably die to save or aid him.
On the same note, Ginny and Neville were not just permitted to live, but allowed to return to Hogwarts!
Voldemort put a lot of faith in reducing Potter's support in the Wizard world at large, but by and large left his most loyal allies alone and well placed as long as possible.
As for the "Clues" portion of the rule, WHY did Voldemort make his Horcruxes out of significant objects hidden in personally meaningful locations? If he'd chosen random, yet durable objects in random yet safe locations no one would have a chance at tracking any of them down.
What if he'd made the Whomping Willow a Horcrux?
How about a statue in a park that had no connection to him?
What about a museum owned painting by an artist to which Voldemort has no known connection or particular feelings?
Better yet, most colleges have a large block of granite that it's traditional for the students to cover with Graffiti. Pick a random yet stable school on the Western US with such a tradition and make THAT a Horcrux.
If there'd been no pattern or connection, the Horcruxes would have been impossible to track down.
12. One of my advisors will be an average five-year-old child. Any flaws in my plan that he is able to spot will be corrected before implementation.
Such an adviser would no doubt have noticed many of the flaws discussed here. A five year old would, for example, know better than to go gallivanting around the world seeking a mythical super-wand while leaving orders that nothing save Harry Potter's capture was severe enough to warrant contacting him. Voldemort has a lot of dangerous enemies who could destabilize and collapse his regime, and he ignores them at great peril.
16. I will never utter the sentence "But before I kill you, there's just one thing I want to know."
Why bother learning the secret of Harry's "I can't touch him without searing pain" power if you can just have an underling run him through with a sword? To Voldemort's credit, he did just up and "Kill" Harry when he met him in the Forbidden Forest, but he never would have been in that situation if he'd kept his ego in check.
17. When I employ people as advisors, I will occasionally listen to their advice.
This is probably Vodemort's biggest weakness. Not only does he have no advisers, but his followers are tortured if they contradict his ideas or recommend alternatives. This "My way or torture" management technique is self defeating. There are numerous examples throughout the book where critical flaws are noticed by followers yet never really addressed because doing so would incur the wrath of Voldemort.
18. I will not have a son. Although his laughably under-planned attempt to usurp power would easily fail, it would provide a fatal distraction at a crucial point in time.
19. I will not have a daughter. She would be as beautiful as she was evil, but one look at the hero's rugged countenance and she'd betray her own father.
Voldemort has gotten these two points right, I'll grant him that.
20. Despite its proven stress-relieving effect, I will not indulge in maniacal laughter. When so occupied, it's too easy to miss unexpected developments that a more attentive individual could adjust to accordingly.
In Voldemort's case, it also means Harry gets to SEE what has Voldemort so giddy. Tipping off your most dangerous enemy is generally a bad idea.
21. I will hire a talented fashion designer to create original uniforms for my Legions of Terror, as opposed to some cheap knock-offs that make them look like Nazi stormtroopers, Roman footsoldiers, or savage Mongol hordes. All were eventually defeated and I want my troops to have a more positive mind-set.
Black Cloaks and Hoods are the Death Eater uniform. Sorry Voldemort, but do you REMEMBER what happened to the Nazgul? The Druids are extinct too, and every Satanic cult destroyed when their sacred artifact was compromised used the same depressing, unoriginal uniform. Yes, dressing like Death is intimidating and all that, but those hoods really limit visibility.
22. No matter how tempted I am with the prospect of unlimited power, I will not consume any energy field bigger than my head.
Or split my soul into seven fragments, when there's all sorts of dire warnings about how unstable you'll be if you just split it in half.
He ventured "Further than any Wizard has gone" in his quest for immortality, and in the process ended up binding his soul to that of the child prophesied to destroy him. Let's take stock of what Voldemort accomplished by making so many Horcruxes, and by creating a new body for himself.
He accidentally made Potter a Horcrux. This meant Potter had TWO souls, and as a result was able to use this to survive the "Killing Curse" at the end of Book Seven.
By planing a piece of his soul in Potter, he gave Potter the ability to talk to snakes. If Potter had lacked this ability, Voldemort would have returned to power in Book 2, as Potter's ability to speak to snakes was crucial to his defeat of Voldemort.
He connected his mind to Potter's to the point where Potter could occasionally see through Vodemort's eyes. While this worked to Voldemort's advantage during "Order of the Phoenix" it allowed Harry to keep tabs on Voldemort throughout Book 7.
23. I will keep a special cache of low-tech weapons and train my troops in their use. That way -- even if the heroes manage to neutralize my power generator and/or render the standard-issue energy weapons useless -- my troops will not be overrun by a handful of savages armed with spears and rocks.
ALL the characters are guilty of this one. Does ANYONE have a backup plan for what to do if they lose their wand? Bellatrix thought to keep a silver dagger handy, but that seems to be about it. The book would have been very different if Harry had gotten hold of a six shooter and 40 rounds of ammo. Imagine for a moment The climatic battle at Hogwarts with the small twist of Fred in one of the towers with a sniper rifle, a scope and some relevant training.
24. I will maintain a realistic assessment of my strengths and weaknesses. Even though this takes some of the fun out of the job, at least I will never utter the line "No, this cannot be! I AM INVINCIBLE!!!" (After that, death is usually instantaneous.)
This gets back to the little "Duel" Voldemort set up with Potter at the end of "Goblet of Fire." He broke a LOT of the Evil Overlord rules that night. He overestimated his power, underestimated Potter and ended up humiliated in front of his followers.
Then there's his refusal to take other forms of magic seriously. This lead to his defeat when he tried to kill the infant Harry. He further compounded this error when he invited Harry to sacrifice himself to save the rest of the combatants at Hogwarts. Despite spending over a decade without a body because of the magical consequences of such a sacrifice, he allowed himself to be rendered incapable of killing any of the Hogwarts combatants Harry "died" to protect.
His arrogance also lead him to conclude that no one could POSSIBLY find the Room of Requirement, even though there were already generations of hidden junk in the room long before Voldemort hid the Diadem there. Ron commented on this absurd bit of ego while searching for the Diadem.
A realistic, low ego assessment of his capabilities would have allowed him to avoid most of these defeating situations.
27. I will never build only one of anything important. All important systems will have redundant control panels and power supplies. For the same reason I will always carry at least two fully loaded weapons at all times.
Two Words: Spare Wand
Two More Words: Hip Holster
Put it together, and you have a spare wand in a hip holster, preferably under your pants so it's unlikely to be found in the shoddy searches done by villains in the Potter Universe.
At least he thought to make backup Horcruxes, even if he did a terrible job hiding them.
29. I will dress in bright and cheery colors, and so throw my enemies into confusion.
Lovegood does this, and is constantly underestimated by her enemies as a result. The idea has value.
30. All bumbling conjurers, clumsy squires, no-talent bards, and cowardly thieves in the land will be preemptively put to death. My foes will surely give up and abandon their quest if they have no source of comic relief.
Gee, who fits this description? Oh yes, Nevill and Lovegood, two people who ended up being badasses by the end of book 6. Nevill ends up leading the resistance at Hogwarts in Book 7 and is the one who destroys the last Horcrux.
Don't forget the Weasley twins. While far from no-talent, they ARE Comic relief, and their joke products have proven to be essential adventuring gear.
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.
Voldemort just pisses all over this one. He tortures and kills his own minions all the time. The behavior does NOT encourage loyalty. I suspect this is one reason Draco Malfoy turns against the Dark Lord in the end.
33. I won't require high-ranking female members of my organization to wear a stainless-steel bustier. Morale is better with a more casual dress-code. Similarly, outfits made entirely from black leather will be reserved for formal occasions.
I'll grant Voldemrt this one as well. While the uniforms are just a cloak and a hood, everyone wears one.
34. I will not turn into a snake. It never helps.
Most of Voldemort's shenanigans with his pet snake and Horcrux Nagini fall into this category. While a useful intimidation tool, Nagini has failed to kill Mr. Weasley and Harry Potter. While the Godrick's Hollow attack did cost Harry his Wand, that was sheer luck. The damage was done by Granger's misfired spell, not the snake.
35. I will not grow a goatee. In the old days they made you look diabolic. Now they just make you look like a disaffected member of Generation X.
I'll admit, the "white Corpse with no nose and red snake eyes" look is rather sinister and intimidating. He got this one right too.
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.
Again, we come back to the use of the Malfoy's Cellar as a make shift prison cell. All it took was one House Elf to free all the prisoners.
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.
In all fairness to Voldemort and company, they were TRYING to do this when Harry inexplicably survived. However, they're cracking down on Muggel born wizards, but leaving their kids free if they were the result of marrying a pure or half blood. This is not a good long term strategy as it's breeding a generation of rebels who will oppose them if they remain in power long enough.
39. If I absolutely must ride into battle, I will certainly not ride at the forefront of my Legions of Terror, nor will I seek out my opposite number among his army.
This gets us back to Voldemort's silly "Only I can kill Harry Potter" rule. At least he had the sense to hang back and hide in the Shrieking Sack for the first few rounds of the siege on Hogwarts.
40. I will be neither chivalrous nor sporting. If I have an unstoppable superweapon, I will use it as early and as often as possible instead of keeping it in reserve.
Again, we get to one of the few points where Voldemort gets it right. That Killing Curse gets a LOT of use in battle.
41. Once my power is secure, I will destroy all those pesky time-travel devices.
Not needed, as the Time Turners are already destroyed.
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.
How many House elves does Harry have? Two? One loyal out of duty the other just plain loyal. Harry would have been doomed without their aid.
44. I will only employ bounty hunters who work for money. Those who work for the pleasure of the hunt tend to do dumb things like even the odds to give the other guy a sporting chance.
Greyback dances on the edge of this territory, but by and large Voldemort gets this one right too.
45. I will make sure I have a clear understanding of who is responsible for what in my organization. For example, if my general screws up I will not draw my weapon, point it at him, say "And here is the price for failure," then suddenly turn and kill some random underling.
Voldemort tends to use a "Spray and Pray" strategy with punishment. Everyone gets tortured, even if the fault really lies with only on or two people.
46. If an advisor says to me "My liege, he is but one man. What can one man possibly do?", I will reply "This." and kill the advisor.
Voldemort doesn't really ALLOW advice, so this really doesn't come up.
47. If I learn that a callow youth has begun a quest to destroy me, I will slay him while he is still a callow youth instead of waiting for him to mature.
Again, Voldemort TRIED to do this with Harry, which is where this all started in the first place. He got this one right. He FAILED, but he tried and keeps trying.
48. I will treat any beast which I control through magic or technology with respect and kindness. Thus if the control is ever broken, it will not immediately come after me for revenge.
The poor treatment of the House Elves and the Goblins has come back to bite wizards on both sides.
49. If I learn the whereabouts of the one artifact which can destroy me, I will not send all my troops out to seize it. Instead I will send them out to seize something else and quietly put a Want-Ad in the local paper.
That artifact is Harry Potter, and we've already seen how poorly he managed that enterprise.
55. The deformed mutants and odd-ball psychotics will have their place in my Legions of Terror. However before I send them out on important covert missions that require tact and subtlety, I will first see if there is anyone else equally qualified who would attract less attention
Again, we get one of the rare instances of Voldemort getting it right. He's handling the Giants, Dementors, Werewolves and many others rather well, even if he treats them as definitively second and third class minions.
56. My Legions of Terror will be trained in basic marksmanship. Any who cannot learn to hit a man-sized target at 10 meters will be used for target practice.
It's amazing how many battles make you wonder if the Death Eaters were trained to shoot by Imperial Storm Troopers or James Bond enemies. The same can be said of the heroes. Nevill seems to be the only consistently good shot, and even then, this skill only surfaces at the end of Book 7 when he's lobbing psychotic plants that capture and strangle anyone they touch.
57. Before employing any captured artifacts or machinery, I will carefully read the owner's manual.
Stealing the Elder Wand from a grave instead of taking it in battle comes back to bite Voldemort in the rear. He "took" the wand without even a superficial understanding of wand lore. As a result, he ends up using a wand against Harry Potter that sees HARRY as its master, and is thus not willing to kill him. If Voldemort had thought to invest in a Glock, he could have pulled THAT out and killed Harry, but that would constitute using Muggle weapons, something Voldemort would never do.
70. When my guards split up to search for intruders, they will always travel in groups of at least two. They will be trained so that if one of them disappears mysteriously while on patrol, the other will immediately initiate an alert and call for backup, instead of quizzically peering around a corner.
"Hey we heard a loud noise from the Cellar where we tossed all our prisoners, including the biggest threat our Dark Lord faces. Let's send the weakest, most pathetic wizard in the group to investigate by himself, and then assume everything is fine based on a verbal assurance, which is easily faked or impersonated."
73. I will not agree to let the heroes go free if they win a rigged contest, even though my advisors assure me it is impossible for them to win.
I count the Duel in "Goblet of Fire" in this category. Harry wasn't supposed to survive, but did.
75. I will instruct my Legions of Terror to attack the hero en masse, instead of standing around waiting while members break off and attack one or two at a time
Again, Voldemort gets this one right, but hampers his troops with that silly "Take Harry alive" rule.
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."
I've already harped on this several times. Voldemort needs Harry dead, and it does NOT have to be Voldemort who does it, prophesy or not.
80. If my weakest troops fail to eliminate a hero, I will send out my best troops instead of wasting time with progressively stronger ones as he gets closer and closer to my fortress.
- Got the Basilisk killed.
- Got the Diary Horcrux destroyed
- Lost their House Elf to Potter, which gave him significant aid.
- Failed on NUMEROUS occasions to kill Potter.
- Needed Snape's help to kill Dumbledore, due entirely to a lack of the proper blood lust.
- Let Ollivander, Lovegood, Ron, Granger, Potter and others escape.
- Didn't detect the fake Griffendor Sword.
- Let Harry know where one of the Horcruxes was hidden by throwing a hissy fit over the sword.
- Failed to retrieve, or even HEAR the prophesy
About the Prophesy: If Voldemort had allowed his minions some leeway in carrying out his orders, it would have been child's play for Malfoy to, in the basement of the Ministry of Magic, smash the prophesy while Harry still held it, listen to it, and then given Voldemort a "silver strand" of memory so he could hear it for himself.
88. If a group of henchmen fail miserably at a task, I will not berate them for incompetence then send the same group out to try the task again.
Again, the Malfoys are smug, arrogant and FAIL at every turn. Their best efforts amounted to Draco being a prat to Harry at School. I'm sure the Dark Lord was REALLY impressed with the "Potter Stinks" buttons.
100. Finally, to keep my subjects permanently locked in a mindless trance, I will provide each of them with free unlimited Internet access.
Voldemort's anti-Muggle stance makes this idea IMPOSSIBLE. I doubt Voldemort even knows the Internet exists. A whole slew of options are thus lost to him.