- “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.”
- ―Gellert Grindelwald
Gellert Grindelwald (c. 1883 – March, 1998) is a Dark wizard who, on a list of "Most Dangerous Dark Wizards of All Time," would be second only to Voldemort, according to Rita Skeeter's book The Life and Lies of Albus Dumbledore. His name is first mentioned in Philosopher's Stone on a card which notes that Dumbledore defeated Grindelwald in 1945. Grindelwald is portrayed by Jamie Campbell Bower, by Michael Byrne and by Johnny Depp during the Wizarding World film franchise. He's also portrayed by Colin Farrell as Percival Graves.
Grindelwald was a driven, charismatic, determined and brilliant individual, even in his youth. Albus Dumbledore himself confessed that Grindelwald was extremely charming, so much that it had induced him to fall in love with him, and it was partly the reason Dumbledore had been initially blind to just how dangerous Grindelwald truly was. His attraction to the Dark Arts was not necessarily malevolent in its initial stages, but was more of a personal interest that swelled over time in Durmstrang, a school that was rather notorious for its acceptance and study of the Dark Arts. During his formative years, Grindelwald also proved himself highly intelligent, magically talented, idealistic, as well as ambitious to the point of ruthlessness, with a ferocious temper: 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, showing his willingness to cause pain to people who challenged him. Grindelwald resorted to physically striking Credence Barebone when he grew impatient with the boy, briefly shedding the soft and comforting façade that he adopted earlier. Later when Grindelwald duelled Newt Scamander he swiftly overpowered his opponent but opted to incapacitate him through bolts of lightning from the tip of his wand as a manner of torture as opposed to killing him outright. Dumbledore himself expressed horror in what Grindelwald truly was, stating that he had always (unconsciously) sensed something dangerous in him.
As a revolutionary operating outside the law, Gellert Grindelwald grew to become a man who lived in service to his ideals and, as he saw it, in humanity, and was fully convinced that his revolution to bring wizardkind out of hiding and "rise up and take [their] rightful place in the world", above the non-magical population, was truly For the Greater Good, and would bring order, purpose, and direction to the world and benefit of mankind in the long run, and tirelessly endeavoured to fulfil this vision. While both willing and capable of achieving his own ends by force, he also knew better than to presume, for all his power, that he could take on the whole world by himself and possibly come out on top. As such, he relied equally much on his genius-level intellect and undeniable flair for strategy and tactics. Aside from his ability to create carefully-woven plans to achieve his goals, Grindelwald was clever and composed, as well as a persuasive orator: He had a high command of the art of public speaking, allowing him to mystify and terrify his audiences, allies and enemies alike, inspiring loyalty with each word and gaining widespread following for his cause, whom he affectionately referred to as his as "brothers and sisters" and called "friends". When appearing in front of an audience at a rally, he was treated almost as a revered celebrity, such was his charisma. He also recognised that while a brilliant wizard, he was not infallible, and openly confided in a carefully selected group of six acolytes that constituted the innermost circle of the army of Dark witches and wizards that he marshalled to his side.
He could also work very independently when he had to, however, such as when he seemingly single-handedly infiltrated MACUSA and was able to mimic the personality of Percival Graves for some time without arousing suspicion — the only time he truly aroused anyone's suspicion was when he interrogated Newt Scamander and labelled the Obscurial as 'useless', which roused Scamander to angry disbelief and appeared to baffle former Auror Porpentina Goldstein. Thus, Grindelwald either lapsed in his facade at this point, or incorporated his own ruthlessness and calculative nature into that of Percival Graves; he was quick enough to quell Newt's realisation by sentencing both him and Goldstein to death before the conversation could go any further. However, other than this, Grindelwald showed himself to be a master manipulator — 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. Even after it became clear that Credence, as an Obscurial, was extremely powerful and phenomenally dangerous, Grindelwald calmly continued to try and exploit him, and was outraged when the MACUSA President opted to have her Aurors seemingly destroy him. Grindelwald was idealistic to an extreme, having absolutely no complaints about the murder of hundreds of innocent people as long as that accomplished his long-term goals. Indeed, Grindelwald's idealism even prompted him to truly break his disguise in New York, expressing his disgust for being forced to hide from Muggles, and then proceeding to attack the MACUSA Aurors who had seemingly killed Credence. Even then, however, his anger was not expressed on his own behalf, but rather on that of the cause he was fighting for, which more or less spurred his life and deeds. Grindelwald spoke scornfully towards President Picquery when she insisted the Obscurial's destruction was on her orders, mocking the fact that history would note this, and that it wasn't right. He noticeably paused before engaging the Aurors, indicating that he couldn't see any other way out of it. And throughout all of this, he maintained a stern pride in his own skill: Even as he was apprehended by the Aurors after Newt Scamander had attacked and subdued him from behind, Grindelwald was unfazed, and simply questioned President Picquery's ability to contain a wizard of his reputation and power. He did not even blink when faced with the President, fixing her with a fierce stare until she was out of his sight, showing Grindelwald's unwillingness to show fear to his enemies.
He demonstrated manipulative skills and the willingness to use them for his own purposes. Judging by Aberforth's testimony, he had little interest in, or patience with, those he considered beneath him. He considered Albus Dumbledore an equal and praised the tremendous potential of the Obscurial Credence Barebone, for instance, but was dismissive of the less talented and intelligent Aberforth, the permanently damaged Ariana, and also, initially, Credence, whom Grindelwald initially callously discarded when he seemingly became no longer useful, mistakenly believing Credence to be a Squib, whom it would be impossible to magically train. In addition, while disguised as Percival Graves, Grindelwald questioned Newt Scamander in an interrogation as to why Dumbledore would have such faith in Newt, indicating an interest in further understanding both Dumbledore and Newt's abilities. Grindelwald's dismissal of Credence as a Squib suggested that Grindelwald, in his (somewhat arrogant) awareness of his own brilliance, was so secure in his own judgement as to having grown a weakness for jumping to conclusions.
His actions did have limits, however - Grindelwald's decision to stun, not kill Gregorovitch, when he acquired the Elder Wand from the latter, hints at a willingness not to kill simply as a matter of course. However, this might have been a calculated decision, perhaps considering that people were more likely to give credence to Gregorovitch's claims that he'd had the Elder Wand if he was murdered, as that was the traditional method of passing it on. Also, part of his motivation for refusing to give Voldemort any information about the Elder Wand may have been a desire to prevent Dumbledore's tomb from being desecrated, or even out of remorse for his own crimes. Alternatively, he may have merely wanted to taunt Voldemort, though Harry Potter and Dumbledore himself both suspect the former two reasons to be more likely.
Grindelwald is also proven to be capable of fear, judging from the fact that he fled in fear of his life after the intense duel between himself, Dumbledore, and Aberforth that resulted in Ariana's death, and how he resorted to being more cautious around Credence upon realising that he was the Obscurial (in the knowledge of how dangerous and volatile Obscurials were), and never attempting to extend his power to Britain for fear of facing Dumbledore (most likely due to the circumstances of their last encounter, and the fact that he recognised how powerful Dumbledore was). Not only does this suggest that Grindelwald was actually capable of contemplating somebody being more powerful or dangerous than him, but that he was capable of respecting Dumbledore in his fear of him. Near the end of his life, however, Grindelwald had reportedly taken the time to reflect on his past misdeeds as he sat alone in the wizarding prison of Nurmengard, and apparently expressing remorse for his crimes he had committed during his attempted rise to power over the magical and non-magical worlds.
When trapped and unarmed, Grindelwald faced certain death at the hands of the only Dark Wizard to ever be considered possibly even more dangerous than himself, he was openly defiant and even mocking, goading Voldemort into killing him by saying that he welcomed death, but that it would not "bring him what [he] seek" and saying there is so much he "doesn't understand". 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 enthusiastic outlook on "the next great adventure" seems clear in its connection to his old friend, Albus Dumbledore.
As a young man, Grindelwald had golden blond hair and a "merry, wild" face. Harry Potter thought he had "a Fred and George-ish air of triumphant trickery about him".
While he was middle aged, Grindelwald's hair was pale blond and shaved on the sides of his head giving him a sleek look; he also had a thin white moustache. His right eye was grey, while his left was dark, and his face was pale.
Near the end of his life, when Voldemort found him at the top of Nurmengard, Grindelwald was severely emaciated - a frail skeletal figure with a skull-like face, great sunken eyes, wrinkled cheeks, and most of his teeth were gone.
As Percival Graves
Percival Graves was an Auror, Director of Magical Security and head of MACUSA's Department of Magical Law Enforcement.
At some point prior to 6 December 1926, his identity was assumed by Gellert Grindelwald using Human Transfiguration. It is unknown if he was killed or kept in captivity during this time. When Gellert Grindelwald Transfigured himself into Percival in December 1926, he was described as an early middle-aged, good-looking man, wearing elegant clothes.
When Gellert Grindelwald Transfigured himself into Percival in December 1926, he was described as an early middle-aged, good-looking man, wearing elegant clothes.
As the Director of Magical Security, Percival Graves was likely highly professional and determined. As the Director of Magical Security, tasked with the protection of the North American wizarding community, Graves was likely very responsible and brave as well, with President Picquery trusting him as her right-hand man. While Gellert Grindelwald impersonated Graves, he displayed a prim, serious, and ambitious personality, without arousing anyone's suspicions, implying that this was in line with the real Graves' personality. However, when Grindelwald ordered Newton Scamander and Tina Goldstein to be swiftly executed without a trial, this shocked Tina, which implies that the real Graves, while strict, was not a cruel man.
Gellert Grindelwald was born around 1883. He was educated at Durmstrang Institute, where he excelled at magic and absorbed much of the strength-obsessed and Dark Magic-flavoured school culture. An extremely talented wizard with an attractive, winsome personality and a "merry, wild" disposition, Grindelwald felt the attraction of the Dark Arts. Keenly interested in history, lore, and the powerful mystique of magical artefacts, Grindelwald became fascinated with the Deathly Hallows, to the point of appropriating their runic symbol as his own personal emblem and engraving it on the walls of Durmstrang prior to his departure. Dumbledore noted to Harry that 'twisted experiments' had been the reason for his expulsion from Durmstrang before graduating.
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 the summer of 1899 that Grindelwald met and befriended Albus Dumbledore. The two teenagers had a lot in common: they were intellectuals and top-of-the-class talented young wizards who were idealistic and ambitious. It is clear that the pair were very close and the friendship was genuine on both sides. They shaped one another's ideas, powers, as well as destinies from that day forth.
The pair shared two preoccupations: The search for the Deathly Hallows held their fascination with the goal of acquiring all three and wield the power of 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. Dumbledore coined the phrase "For the Greater Good" that would be used to justify the necessary use of force required to achieve their goals, and Grindewald would later adopt as his slogan.
However, Dumbledore's motivations and intentions were different from Grindelwald's: 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. He viewed the Resurrection Stone as a way of returning his parents to life, and relieving him of his new familial obligations, while Grindelwald viewed it as a tool to amass an army of inferi.
The friends' plans to leave Godric's Hollow, acquire power, and begin their revolution turned serious in the summer of 1899. When Dumbledore's brother Aberforth became aware of this he was disgusted with Albus's 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 killed. Aberforth and Albus were devastated. Grindelwald 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.
Rise to power
Grindelwald delved into his research on the Deathly Hallows and uncovered the location of the Elder Wand. Rumours had been circulating that the renowned wandmaker Gregorovitch had the wand and was trying to duplicate its properties. Grindelwald broke into Gregorovitch's workshop, lay in wait for the wandmaker, stunned him, and stole the wand, thereby becoming its new master. Grindelwald's research may have uncovered this unconventional path to ownership of the wand as the common interpretation was that ownership passed only by murder.
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 Heinrich Eberstadt, claiming that he had let the dark wizard "slip through his fingers".
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 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 the 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 Obscurus. Once they found Modesty, Grindelwald cruelly rejected Credence, as he had no further use of him. 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. When Grindelwald, Newt, and Tina were finally close to calming down Credence, President Picquery and her other Aurors appeared on the scene, and she orders them to attack the Obscurus. With Credence being seemingly destroyed at the Aurors' hands, Grindelwald was so beside himself with rage, that he, lead by his extreme idealism, began to break his disguise, expressing his utter disgust for being forced to hide from the No-Majs. Picquery subsequently ordered the other Aurors to bring "Percival Graves" in, but Grindelwald, no longer suppressing his tremendous magical prowess, gave battle against all of the Aurors simultaneously (much to the President's shock and dismay), and gradually brought them down one after the other, until Newt finally managed to catch him off-guard with his Swooping Evil and restrained Grindelwald's hands from behind, while Tina used a Summoning Charm to take Grave's wand. Newt casted the Revelio Charm, making Grindelwald's disguise fade away, revealing his true face. Even apprehended however, Grindelwald was unfazed, arrogantly questioning President Picquery's ability to contain a wizard of his reputation and power. As he was lead away, Grindelwald met Newt's gaze and mysteriously asked the latter: "Will we die, just a little?"
Grindelwald eventually escaped the MACUSA and established a prison, Nurmengard, to serve as a form of containment for his enemies.
Escape from MACUSA and search for Credence
Six months after Grindelwald was captured by Newton Scamander, he was supposed to be transported from MACUSA's prison to Europe by Rudolph Spielman and Aurors to answer for crimes he committed. Because of his gift of persuasion, he had his tongue removed, as several guards had sided with him. Unbeknownst to Picquery, Spielman and others, Abernathy, MACUSA's employee, was one of Grindelwald's acolytes. A few moments before escorting the dark wizard, Abernathy went to Grindelwald's cell and they both assumed each other's identity. When the flying carriage with Abernathy (as Grindelwald) set off, Grindelwald (as Abernathy) apparated onto the carriage and killed the Aurors escorting the carriage. Later, he entered the carriage and threw Spielman into the New York's waters, before flying to Europe with his lieutenant.
Three months later Grindelwald, alongside his acolytes, travelled to Paris to search again for Credence Barebone, who had survived the battle in New York, in order to utilise his abilities to kill Albus Dumbledore. He ordered his subordinates to kill the unknown couple and their small child in order to take over their apartment as a temporary headquarters. During this time, Grindelwald urged Queenie Goldstein and Grimmson, the bounty hunter, to join his cause, which worked on Queenie due to her relationship with No-Maj Jacob Kowalski. Grindelwald ordered Grimmson to kill Irma Dugard, to keep Credence's identity a secret from him. Grindelwald himself later found Credence and offered him a chance to find out his true parentage, and gave him a map to the cemetery of Pere Lachaise.
On that same day, Grindelwald called a meeting for his followers in the Lestrange family Mausoleum. There, he gave a rousing speech, in which he shared his idealist perspective of Muggles, as well as his vision of the future, which holds another great and terrible war, with images of the London Blitz and Hiroshima punctuating his rhetoric. Openly recognising the battalion of Aurors that had infiltrated the rally, Grindelwald commanded his followers to Disapparate from the scene while he faced off against the Aurors. When Theseus Scamander set his men on Grindelwald, he conjured a circle of protective fire around himself, and added an enchantment designed to test the loyalty of his followers: those who entered with complete fidelity and believed in his cause would survive; those who did not, would be engulfed and perish. Abernathy, Vinda Rosier, Credence and Queenie joined Grindelwald into the circle and apparated, while many of the Aurors died either fleeing or fighting when Grindelwald manipulated the fire to work as a weapon as well, sending balls and bursts of black fire towards them enemies, killing them. Ultimately, about half a dozen of the fifty Aurors Theseus had brought along accepted his offer and joined him in the circle as well. Then Grindelwald, mocking Newt by asking whether he thought Dumbledore would mourn for him, battled him and Theseus Scamander. Leta Lestrange screamed to him to stop, so he did it and he offered her to join his ranks. She refused, however, and cast curse that blasted to pieces and utterly destroyed his hookah and attacked him, only to be killed by the Dark wizard in retaliation. Having struck down Leta, Grindelwald let out his fury over losing such a valuable tool by unleashing the deadly blue fire, and letting it run rampant, intent on the destruction of the entirety Paris, and all of his present along with it, before he departed the scene.
Sometime later, at Nurmengard Castle, Grindelwald spoke with Queenie about Credence. Then he revealed to Credence that the baby bird he has been caring for is actually a phoenix. According to legend, a phoenix will appear to anyone of a certain wizarding family in dire need. Grindelwald then presented him with a wand, as well as his birth name: Aurelius Dumbledore.
Fall from power and imprisonment
Albus Dumbledore hesitated to confront Grindelwald, despite the belief held by many, including quite possibly both men themselves, that he was the only wizard skilful enough to stop his former friend. 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, and imprisoned him in the topmost cell of Nurmengard.
Fifty-three years after his defeat, Grindelwald was slain in his prison cell by Voldemort, who was searching for the Elder Wand for himself. 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, taunting Voldemort by name and laughing at his desire for the wand. Voldemort ended Grindelwald's life with the Killing Curse in the spring of 1998.
Powers and abilities
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 was a dedicated and immensely skilled user of the Dark Arts, marked as the best student in the school's history. As an adult, Grindelwald was an extremely powerful and accomplished sorcerer of near unrivalled 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 nigh-unstoppable. He was considered by many to be one of the most powerful and dangerous dark wizards of all time, with only Lord Voldemort, who arrived a generation later, being deemed more dangerous than Grindelwald. As a former master of the Elder Wand, Grindelwald's already formidable magic was further enhanced by the artefact's legendary powers, allowing him to perform spells that would be more powerful than normally magically possible. Even Albus Dumbledore, possibly the most powerful and skilled sorcerer of all time, considered Grindelwald to be just as powerful as himself, and only "a shade" less skilled.
- Magical Mastery: Grindelwald was noted to be extremely talented and prodigiously skilled while still a student of Durmstrang Institute, being acknowledged as the best student the school ever had, and his magical mastery was considered to match that of Albus Dumbledore, which induced the two young men to quickly befriend one another in their youth. As an adult, Grindelwald was considered to be the most powerful Dark Wizard of all time (with only Voldemort, who emerged years later, being deemed to be able to possibly surpass him) and feared by most of the wizarding world. With the Elder Wand enhancing his already tremendous ability, Grindelwald successfully terrorised much of 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 Torquil Travers, who despised Dumbledore, adamantly attempting to persuade him to fight Grindelwald as a result. Indeed, Grindelwald believed himself to be the only wizard capable of killing Dumbledore, had it not been for the past blood pact between them. 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. While he was ultimately defeated by his old friend in a duel of legendary proportions, it must be noted that he had proven capable of holding his own well against Dumbledore, with Albus himself later admitting that he had been only "a shade more skillful" than Grindelwald, and admitting that in terms of power, they were both evenly matched, which could imply that Grindelwald was even more formidable than Voldemort and only less evil.
- Intellectual genius: Grindelwald was not only a great wizard, but also possessed an incredible level of intellect, as he was considered to be as intelligent as Albus Dumbledore, who was considered the most brilliant student at Hogwarts's history when both of them were seventeen. Indeed, Grindelwald and Dumbledore's intellects were so complementary to one another, that, according to Bathilda Bagshot, even after spending an entire day in intellectually stimulating discussions with Grindelwald, Dumbledore would still unexpectedly send Grindelwald messages by owl right after sudden ideas struck him, with him having to let Grindelwald know of them immediately. As an adult, Grindelwald became an exceptional strategist and tactician, with his strategical and tactical expertise displayed by his ability to start a massive revolution on his own, gathering a large amount of followers and being able to unstoppably rise to power steadily, with only Dumbledore's mechanizations preventing him from conquering the wizarding world but even then, over time Grindelwald forced Dumbledore to resort to personally confront him as he steadily began overwhelming his former friend's indirect attempts. Displays of his uncanny ability to create complex and carefully-woven plans to achieve his goals was shown when he managed to think his way out of his blood pact with Dumbledore by having Credence kill Albus for him and he also formulated a master plan to investigate unhindered the Obscurus attacks of New York by subtly apprehending President Picquery's right-hand man Percival Graves and infiltrating the MACUSA by assuming his identity. Grindelwald also proved to be a consummate actor, multitasker and investigator, as during his time disguised as Graves, Grindelwald was able to perfectly mimic his personality and American accent and limit his magical abilities to be only on par with him as well as convincingly and effectively carry out his many duties as an Auror, the Head of MACUSA's Department of Magical Law Enforcement, and the Director of Magical Security, while also gradually managing to locate the rampaging Obscurial, all without arousing suspicion. Grindelwald was also an outstandingly skilled orator, having complete calmness and full capability in delivering convincing speeches to others to persuade them to join his cause and being fully capable of applying persuasively terrifying provocations, as shown by how in his rally, Grindelwald succeeded in convincing almost all who attended his speech into joining his cause and even Jacob Kowalski, a veteran of First World War, still found Grindelwald's speech to be extremely powerfully persuasive.
- 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 time in prison, the MACUSA had to cut Grindelwald's tongue, as he kept convincing his jailers to join his side, notably thus swaying the formerly loyal MACUSA employee Abernathy. Indeed, only people with truly incorruptible moral codes, or with an acceptance of their past sins, were able to resist Grindelwald's silver tongue, with such individuals being Newton Scamander, Theseus Scamander, Jacob Kowalski, Leta Lestrange, and pre-Horcrux Nagini.
- Leadership skills: Grindelwald was an extremely skilled leader, having lead a vast army of allies and acolytes during a horrific For the Greater Good revolution that sparked the Global Wizarding War across much of continental Europe. While disguised as Percival Graves, Grindelwald demonstrated his leadership expertise 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.
- Dark Arts: Grindelwald was incredibly talented in the Dark Arts, and possessed a lethal passion for them even at a young age. Even when he was still only a student of Durmstrang Institute, Grindelwald's experiments in the Dark Arts were already very dangerous, even nearly fatal to the fellow Durmstrang students he attacked, and eventually, his "twisted experiments" became too dangerous for even Dumstrang's tolerant outlook on the Dark Arts, resulting in his expulsion. While seventeen, Grindelwald was already adept at casting the extremely powerful Cruciatus Curse, which was one of the three Unforgivable Curses and required an immense level of magical potential, notably using it against Aberforth Dumbledore. By the time he became an adult, Grindelwald was widely considered to be the second most powerful Dark Arts practitioner in history, with the wizarding world considering Lord Voldemort to be the only one who possibly surpassed him in 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.
- Elemental Magic Mastery: Much like his former friend Albus Dumbledore, Grindelwald was extremely accomplished with the manipulation of the elements. While fighting off 5 European Aurors send after him, Grindelwald incinerated them with a white fiery blast. In his brief duel with Newt Scamander, Grindelwald repeatedly used lightning-based spells to quickly overwhelm his foe, first casting a shockwave of blue electricity capable of collapsing the ground, and then rendering Newt helpless with several consecutive bolts of blue lightning. While escaping his flying prison carriage, Grindelwald generated massive lightning bolts to shoot down all of the broomstick-mounted Aurors and drowned Spellman in a vast amount of water, quickly killing him. Later, when fending off Theseus Scamander and his Aurors, Grindelwald conjured a large ring of tremendously powerful blue fire, which he was that 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.
- Duelling: Gellert Grindelwald was a duelist of terrifying, almost unrivalled skill. Having received thorough training in duelling 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 duelling style compared to the aggressive duelling 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 duelling 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 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 duelling 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 defence 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 escaped from captivity, easily defeating many broomstick-mounted Aurors while simultaneously directing the Thestrals pulling his prison carriage. Grindelwald later effortlessly fended off 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. Ultimately, as a testament to his immense duelling skills, Grindelwald was even able to go toe-to-toe with Albus Dumbledore, indeed, their legendary duel has entered history as possibly the greatest duel ever fought between two wizards, although he was ultimately defeated due to being "a shade" less skilled of a duelist than Dumbledore, which ended his reign of terror and led to his final imprisonment in his own prison, the fortress of Nurmengard.
- Charms: Grindelwald was incredibly skilled and powerful 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, which is a tremendous feat. 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 artefacts. Grindelwald also displayed outstanding 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 version of the Shield Charm, which conjured an incredibly powerful protective ring of fearsome blue fire around the caster, made it so that anyone loyal to Grindelwald could enter the flame circle unharmed, while those who disloyal disintegrated instantly when touched by the flames, while also using these blue flames to effortlessly kill several Aurors in mid-Apparition. Overall, this blue fire was even more powerful than Fiendfyre, as it would have destroyed all of Paris had it not been contained in time by the combined might of Nicolas Flamel, Newt Scamander, Theseus Scamander, Tine Goldstein, and Yusuf Kama.
- Care of Magical Creatures: Grindelwald was considerably knowledgeable and skilled in interacting with at least dark creatures, having managed to tame several monsters that he used during his Global Wizarding War, notably his pet lizard. Grindelwald was also able to mount the Thestrals of his prison carriage, directing them, while simultaneously defeating many broomstick-mounted Aurors.
- Healing magic: Grindelwald had an immense understanding of healing charms, being able to heal the cuts on Credence Barebone's hands wandlessly and nonverbally, by simply touching them.
- Transfiguration: Grindelwald was incredibly proficient in the field of Transfiguration, and his ability and knowledge on the area of Human Transfiguration was sufficient to transform himself into an exact replica of Percival Graves for an extended period of time without his disguise fading, without him needing any Polyjuice Potion.
- Apparition: Like most adult wizards, Grindelwald was able to Apparate. However, he is capable of Apparating with greater speed and precision, allowing Grindelwald to dodge the violent attacks of Credence's huge Obscurus with relative ease, and to later Apparate to the bottom of his speedily flying prison carriage, while disguised as Abernathy.
- Occlumency: Grindelwald was an incredibly accomplished Occlumens, being able to fully conceal his true thoughts from the exceptionally talented Legilimens Queenie Goldstein while in his Percival Graves disguise, and later while turning her to his side. Even in his older days and having been imprisoned for many years in Nurmengard, Grindelwald remained very proficient in the art, as even Lord Voldemort himself, who was reputed to be the most accomplished Legilimens alive, was unable to penetrate Grindelwald's mind to gain information in his search of the Elder Wand.
- History of Magic: Grindelwald had excellent knowledge of magical history and lore, with particular specialisation in the portions of it that pertained to powerful magical artefacts, such as the Deathly Hallows and Wandlore. For example, he knew that Ignotus Peverell, owner of the Cloak of Invisibility, had been laid to rest in Godric's Hollow. He also was aware that in order to become the master of the Elder Wand, he needed to not only steal it, but he also had to defeat it's previous owner.
- Divination: Grindelwald was a Seer. He had a vision about the existence of a powerful Obscurial linked to Credence Barebone. However, Grindelwald is seemingly not an expert in this magical field, as he initially misinterpreted his vision, believing that Credence would lead him to the Obscurial child while in fact, Credence was the Obscurial himself. It should be noted, however, that Credence is the only known Obscurial ever to have survived past the age of 10, so Grindelwald could possibly not have anticipated this. Indeed, while possibly not an expert in Divination, Grindelwald's raw Seer power was extreme, to the point that 12 years prior to the Muggles starting the Second World War, Grindelwald predicted it in detail, 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. At the end of his life, Grindelwald claimed that he knew that Lord Voldemort would come to him in Nurmengard, which might be another instance of Grindelwald's Seer foresight.
- Wandless and Nonverbal magic: Grindelwald was incredibly skilled in both wandless and nonverbal magic, either of which is advanced and often difficult to perform even individually, making Grindelwald's prowess all the more impressive, as he usually performed both simultaneously. In 1926, Grindelwald swiftly 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, without a silent hand gesture. When he interrogated Newt shortly thereafter, Grindelwald 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. Grindelwald 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, Grindelwald generated forceful shockwaves to move and otherwise exert force on people and objects, notably being able to break apart the ground by sending a shockwave rippling through a street, and later performing this on the train tracks Newt Scamander was standing on, to knock him down. Grindelwald later fended off 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 prison carriage, Grindelwald simultaneously 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 subsequently defeated all of the remaining Aurors by nonverbally using the Elder Wand, and during his rally, nonverbally projected Second World War images from his skull-hookah, and even nonverbally generated tremendously powerful blue fire from the Elder Wand.
- Gellert Grindelwald's wand: Grindelwald's original wand, notably used by him to permanently carve the Deathly Hallows symbol into the wall of Durmstrang Institute, and later used in the three-way duel between himself, Albus and Aberforth. Grindelwald's last known use of his wand was to stun Gregorovitch and attain mastery over the legendary Elder Wand.
- Percival Graves's wand: While infiltrating the MACUSA in the guise of Percival Graves, Grindelwald wielded Graves' wand against many MACUSA employees. It is unknown how exactly he acquired it nor if he mastered the wand. He lost the wand when Tina Goldstein used a Summoning Charm to disarm him of it.
- Elder Wand: Grindelwald wielded this wand, the most powerful wand in existence, known also as the "Wand of Destiny" or the "Deathstick", and one of the Deathly Hallows. He attained mastery of it after stunning Gregorovitch, but Grindelwald ultimately lost it at the end of his legendary duel with Albus Dumbledore.
- Gellert Grindelwald's necklace: Grindelwald possessed a necklace with a pendant of the Deathly Hallows sign, which Grindelwald gave to Credence Barebone, who could summon Grindelwald by touching it.
- Gellert Grindelwald's skull hookah: Grindelwald used this enchanted water pipe. The hookah, or the drug that is smoked, enhances Grindelwald's visions of the future.
Differences from the source material