In the world of Harry Potter, fans know him by many different names: The Dark Lord, He Who Must Not Be Named, Tom Marvolo Riddle, and others. This evil wizard is, however, best known as Lord Voldemort. From his beginnings as a lowly orphan to the height of his power as a master of the Dark Arts to his ill-fated comeback, here are some facts you may not know about this remarkable literary character.
Tom Marvolo Riddle is actually a half-blood. He was born to the witch Merope Gaunt and a Muggle father, Tom Riddle Sr. Gaunt seduced Riddle Sr. with a love potion.
Through the Gaunt family, Voldemort is actually a direct descendant of Salazar Slytherin, which is likely where he gets his Parseltongue abilities.
Voldemort also developed the unusual ability to possess living creatures, which is a testament to just how powerful of a wizard he is.
22. Romance Gone Wrong
Tom Riddle Sr. left Gaunt once she stopped using the love potion on him. She had stopped because she was now pregnant, and had hoped that he was genuinely in love with her. No such luck, and his Muggle father’s abandonment influenced Voldemort’s own hatred of Muggles.
21. The Only One He Ever Feared
Dumbledore was the only wizard Voldemort was ever afraid of. Even when he was the young Tom Riddle, Dumbledore saw through his facade to what he was: a boy who stole, abused his peers, and desired power above all else.
20. Slug Club
Despite Dumbledore’s misgivings about the orphan boy, Riddle was popular with many teachers. He was even a part of Professor Slughorn’s “Slug Club” of promising students. Of course, Riddle was just using Slughorn in order to find out more about magical secrets—including Horcruxes.
Riddle likely suffers from some form of kleptomania: When Dumbledore meets him at the orphanage, he regularly steals and hides the possessions of his fellow orphans, and Dumbledore has to remind him that this sort of behavior is not condoned at Hogwarts. Indeed, two of Voldemort’s Horcruxes, Slytherin’s locket and Hufflepuff’s Cup, are stolen from Hepzibah Smith, and a third Horcrux, the Gaunt signet ring, is stolen from his uncle Morfin Gaunt. Uh, he also killed both Hepzibah and Morin to get these trophies.
18. Child Prodigy
Voldemort was only 16 when he created his first Horcrux.
17. Magical Psycho
Riddle murdered his father, grandmother, and grandfather after finding out about his half-blood heritage, and he then framed his uncle Morfin (who was a wizard) for the deed, a conviction that sent Morfin to Azkaban for the rest of his life.
16. Looks Are Deceiving
Riddle was Head Boy during his time at Hogwarts, and received the medal for Magical Merit.
After he graduated, Riddle approached the Headmaster to ask if he could stay on and teach Defense Against the Dark Arts. He was turned down; he was too young, and was told he could be considered for the role at a later date. Dumbledore, however, recognized Riddle as a threat, and convinced the Headmaster never to hire him.
14. Day Job
Though he was brilliant and received many offers to work for the Ministry of Magic, Riddle decided to work at Borgin and Burkes after graduation. Why? Well, he could convince wizards to sell him their old magical artifacts and heirlooms. Wonder what he’d need them for…
13. Lucky Number Seven
Voldemort’s seven Horcruxes, in case you lost count, are: his diary, Marvolo Gaunt’s ring, Salazar Slytherin’s locket, Helga Hufflepuff’s cup, Rowena Ravenclaw’s diadem, Nagini the snake, and, of course, Harry Potter himself.
Regulus Black died in his effort to destroy one of Voldemort’s Horcruxes, Slytherin’s locket. It seems Voldemort never found out about this betrayal.
11. No Need for Parseltongue Now
After the fateful night when Voldemort killed the Potters and tried to kill Harry, his physical form was, as we all know, destroyed. But how did he live after this? His ghostly form took up residence in snakes while he nursed his wounds and regained his power. Nonetheless, the creatures weren’t ideal for magic, and his cohabitation with them shortened the reptiles’ life spans.
10. Where We’re Going, We Don’t Need Brooms
Voldemort somehow figured out how to fly without a broom, and even taught Professor Snape how to do it as well. However, this goes against magical law, which states that only objects that have been charmed can levitate. C’mon, though, this is a guy who inhabits snakes.
9. Silent Killer
Voldemort is one of only two wizards who have been known to apparate silently. The other wizard? Albus Dumbledore of course.
It’s a common theme throughout the Harry Potter series that no Defense Against the Dark Arts Professor lasts more than a year, and the job is thought to be cursed. In fact, this curse goes all the way back to when Tom Riddle was refused a job as the Defense Against the Dark Arts professor for a second time, this time by Dumbledore himself.
When he was killed in his final battle with Harry Potter on May 2, 1998, Lord Voldemort was 71 years old.
6. Character Creation
According to J.K Rowling, she did not actually have a complete back story for the character of Lord Voldemort when she first started writing Harry Potter. She wanted readers, like Harry, to slowly discover the truth about who Voldemort was over the course of the series instead of revealing too much at once.
5. You Know Who
In the years during and after Voldemort’s reign, the wizarding community avoids saying his name, calling him “You Know Who” or “He Who Must Not Be Named.” However, although Ron Weasley is poked fun at for often refusing to actually say “Voldemort,” in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Voldemort and his followers are able to magically track down anyone who speaks his real name out loud. So, like, Ron was on to something.
When Ralph Fiennes portrayed the movie version of Lord Voldemort, his nose was actually digitally removed in post-production instead of being covered with makeup.
Voldemort appears for the first time as an entire physical being in Goblet of Fire, and then only in the climax. While doing his research for the scene by reading Goblet of Fire, Fiennes joked that, “I was only interested in my scene, and I had to go through thousands and thousands of other scenes, which I did, dutifully, until I got to my scene and I read it many, many, many, many, many times and that was my research.”
2. Power of Prophecy
While most fans watched in terror as Harry Potter faced one dangerous peril after another, most people don’t realize that the laws of magic ensured the only time Harry’s life was actually in danger was when he was facing Lord Voldemort himself.
Sybil Trelawney’s prophecy made to Albus Dumbledore states that, “”The one with the power to vanquish the Dark Lord approaches… born to those who have thrice defied him, born as the seventh month dies… and the Dark Lord will mark him as his equal, but he will have power the Dark Lord knows not… and either must die at the hand of the other for neither can live while the other survives… the one with the power to vanquish the Dark Lord will be born as the seventh month dies….”
Prophecies are never wrong in the Harry Potter world. They can be misunderstood or misinterpreted, but a true prophecy always comes to be. Therefore, the line “either must die at the hand of the other” ensures that Harry could only be killed by Lord Voldemort himself, and Lord Voldemort could only be killed by Harry.
1. He Knows All
Voldemort is thought to be one of the most talented Legilimens (Legilmency is the magical practice of navigating through another person’s mind and interpreting their thoughts) in the world, and can deftly read the minds of others. He’s also extremely good at Occlumency, and can protect his own mind from being read.
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