What would any hero be without their villains? One of the things that made Harry Potter such a global phenomenon was J.K. Rowling’s incredible cast of villains. From the nebulous Severus Snape, to the psychotic Bellatrix Lestrange to He Who Must Not Be Named himself, Rowling had a knack for creating compelling characters that you love to hate. But there’s more to this incredible rogues gallery than meets the eye—read on to discover more about the villains of the Wizarding World.
Harry Potter Villain Facts
1. I’ve Always Been Here!
It turns out that Gellert Grindelwald was name-dropped in the very first Harry Potter book. While it’s just a brief mention, he is named when Harry Potter has a Chocolate Frog and reads the card that comes attached to it. The card, describing Albus Dumbledore, hints at Dumbledore’s legendary duel with Grindelwald, which wasn’t dealt with more completely until six books later. Now that’s what we call foreshadowing.
2. Senior Citizen
According to the books’ canon, Grindelwald was born in 1883 and died in 1998, making him around 115 years old.
3. Circumstances of Introduction
Grindelwald first met Albus Dumbledore when the two of them were teenagers. Dumbledore had come home to Godric’s Hollow while Grindelwald was staying in England for a time with his great-aunt Bathilda Bagshot.
4. Seeking Iggy’s Grave
Grindelwald had ulterior motives for going to Godric’s Hollow, as this was where Ignotus Peverell had been buried. Ignotus was one of the three brothers who were credited with being the first owners of the Deathly Hallows. In the case of Ignotus, he was the owner of the Invisibility Cloak.
5. What Goes Around Comes Around
One of Grindelwald’s actions during his reign of terror was to build the wizard prison Nurmengard for his enemies. After he was defeated, he became its prisoner. Oh, the irony.
6. Magic Is Might
Grindelwald’s duel with Dumbledore took place in 1945, and, according to Rowling, that is no coincidence. Grindelwald’s ideas were intentionally designed to be similar to Adolf Hitler’s visions. Safe to say we can expect some very interesting films on the horizon in the Fantastic Beasts franchise.
7. Irredeemable Villain?
Although the Harry Potter films portray Grindelwald willingly telling Lord Voldemort where to find the Elder Wand, this wasn’t the case in the books. In what is arguably one of the more underrated moments in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, the aging, emaciated Grindelwald mocks Voldemort’s quest for the Elder Wand, refusing to help him and daring Voldemort to kill him.
This ties in with a scene where Dumbledore reflects that Grindelwald expressed remorse for his crimes during his final years.
8. I Like Your Thinking!
It’s not hinted at much in the books, but Grindelwald managed to turn a 17-year-old Dumbledore onto the idea of wizards ruling Muggles for the greater good. After Dumbledore graduated from Hogwarts, he had to go back to his home and look after his sister, Ariana. Going from Hogwarts to be a stay-at-home caretaker did nothing to encourage Dumbledore’s mind—until he met Grindelwald.
Their equally gifted minds rejoiced at meeting each other, and Dumbledore was only too receptive to ideas that he later found appalling and evil.
9. Things Fall Apart
Grindelwald’s schemes with Albus Dumbledore led to a confrontation between himself and Dumbledore’s brother, Aberforth. Aberforth accused Albus of neglecting his family, and Grindelwald reacted with violence when his plans were blocked. A duel took place, with Grindelwald using the Cruciatus Curse on Aberforth, even as Albus intervened.
During the scuffle, someone’s spell went awry and killed Albus’ sister Ariana. Grindelwald fled England immediately, leaving Albus paralyzed with guilt over which person’s spell might have killed his sister.
10. Unlikely Passions
When J.K. Rowling hosted a book reading in Carnegie Hall in 2007, she revealed that Dumbledore hadn’t just been convinced by Grindelwald’s ideology when they were teenagers, he’d fallen completely in love with Grindelwald. Rowling even compared Dumbledore’s feelings for Grindelwald with Bellatrix Lestrange’s feelings for Lord Voldemort.
11. Missed Opportunity
Sadly, for those of us who would love to see this kind of relationship, Rowling has maintained that Dumbledore’s passion for Grindelwald was one-way. Grindelwald never reciprocated Dumbledore’s feelings, dooming their possibly complex and interesting relationship to fanfiction stories.
12. Time to Fight
Grindelwald’s rise to power was aided by the refusal of Albus Dumbledore to face him directly. This was due to their shared past, but also Dumbledore’s fear that Grindelwald knew which of them had killed Ariana, and he was terrified of what the answer to that question might be. Ultimately, though, Dumbledore did go and face Grindelwald.
The resulting duel became the stuff of legends, and ended with Dumbledore triumphant, taking the Elder Wand for himself, and Grindelwald being imprisoned.
13. You Can’t Sit With Us
The werewolf Fenrir Greyback is a particularly unsettling character in Harry Potter and the total opposite of mild-mannered Remus Lupin. Greyback positions himself near humans during the full moon in order to do maximum harm, and even attacks when he is not in werewolf form. He naturally sides with Voldemort and does his bidding, but he isn’t allowed to become a full Death Eater.
Why? His werewolf blood makes him “impure” in the group’s eyes—but that doesn’t stop them from using him as an agent of violence and terror.
14. Adept Mind Reader
Although Professor Snape tried to teach Harry how to block his mind from Voldemort using Occlumemency, our great hero pretty much flunked those lessons. Draco Malfoy, however, had no such trouble, and is shown throughout the series to be good at shielding his thoughts. He had an advantage: Slytherins are often good Occlumens, and he was also taught by his aunt, Bellatrix Lestrange.
15. No Tan for You
Tom Felton, who plays Draco in the film versions of Harry Potter, wasn’t allowed to tan while playing the pasty Malfoy. He also had to dye his hair an astounding 18 times to keep those white platinum blond locks—his natural hair color is light brown or dark blonde. After the final movie came out, Felton was back to enjoying his time in the sun.
Tom Felton revealed that the most disturbing piece of fan mail he ever received was an American man who wanted to adopt him. The fan sent over a full binder of adoption papers to be signed and wanted him to change his name to Draco and divorce himself from his parents so the actor could come live with him.
17. Deep Roots
Draco’s family is powerful, rich, and influential in the wizarding community—and its members have had a lot of time to cement their position. The Malfoys have been in England since 1066: their ancestor, Armand Malfoy, was a friend and confidant of William the Conqueror and provided magical services to the king.
18. Snitches Get Stitches
Durmstrang Headmaster Igor Karkaroff is a bit of a fair-weather friend: In the trials following the First Wizarding War, he betrayed his fellow Death Eaters by giving up their names in exchange for freedom. During Voldemort’s second rise to power, Death Eaters tracked Karkaroff down and killed him.
19. From Hufflepuff Hero to Killer
Cedric Diggory’s claim to fame in the series is being the “real” Hogwarts champion during the Triwizard Tournament, being very handsome, and becoming one of the first victims of Voldemort’s wrath after he returns to physical form. The Cursed Child reimagines a reality where Cedric lived but lost the Tournament, then grew into a bitter and angry man who becomes a Death Eater and kills Neville Longbottom. What a twist!
20. Skeletons in The Pink and Fluffy Closet
One of the cruelest villains in the whole series, Dolores Umbridge, is a half-blooded witch. After her parents split, her Muggle mother took her Squib brother back to the non-magical world and Dolores never spoke of that side of her family again.
21. Build Your Own Family Tree
Dolores Umbridge went to extreme lengths to hide her “lowly” heritage. As her career in the Ministry of Magic rose, she paid her father, who was a low-level employee in the Department of Magical Maintenance (he was a janitor), to stay away from public life. She would claim her father was dead and also a member of the esteemed Wizengamot court.
22. Just Like Bart
The Crouch family was one of the oldest pureblood lineages in Great Britain, but their status took a slide because of their involvement with Voldemort in the First Wizarding War. Barty Crouch Sr. was the Head of the Department of Magical Law Enforcement until he gave his son, Barty Jr., a life sentence for his Death Eater crimes.
Eventually, Jr. would kill his father, and received the Dementor’s Kiss as a result, meaning the family went completely extinct in 1996.
23. A True Dark Arts Master
So much of the series focuses on Severus Snape’s ties to Voldemort and his disdain for Harry Potter, but this guy also has some serious magical skills. Snape invented (to just name a few) a nonverbal spell, Levicorpus, that can lift people up by their ankles, a counter curse spell to Levicorpus, and a violent spell that can slash through opponents called Sectumsempra—a spell that Draco Malfoy learned about the hard way.
Uh, those definitely sound like dark arts to me.
24. Soft and Greasy
The two words used most often to describe Snape throughout the books are “Cold” and “Dark.” Runners up include “Soft” and Greasy.” Not exactly the adjectives I’d want, but hey, if the shoe fits.
25. Death by Toenail
One of Snape’s weirder spell inventions? He created a spell (a hex really) that caused toenails to grow long incredibly quickly. Now, what would you need that for?
26. Change of Scenery, Change of Clothes
Lily Evans was the only bright spot in Snape’s young life. His parents fought constantly, and many fans believe that he was likely abused as a child. His family struggled financially, and Snape was forced to wear poorly fitting, mismatched clothes. As such, he could not wait to leave this behind for Hogwarts every year.
He would immediately change into his robes upon boarding the Hogwarts Express, glad leave his shabby Muggle clothes behind.
27. Young Master
It should come as no surprise to anyone, but the Half-Blood Prince was a remarkably talented wizard, especially when it came to potions. In fact, young Snape was appointed Hogwarts’ potions master by September of 1981, when he was just 21 years old.
28. Dark Prodigy
Despite growing up in the Muggle world, Snape was already a talented young wizard by the time he arrived at Hogwarts. Sirius Black once remarked that young Severus knew how to perform more curses upon his entry to the school than most students knew after seven years of training.
29. Pain Begets Pain
Snape’s tragic story is painfully similar to that of many real-life bullies. When he arrived at Hogwarts, he was almost instantly singled out for torment by James Potter and Sirius Black. His victimization led him to fall in with similarly cruel Slytherin students, and he became a terrible bully himself—eventually ending up as a Death Eater.
30. Hidden Letters
Two years after Alan Rickman’s death from pancreatic cancer, a collection of his personal letters was put up for auction. Together, the papers were valued at £950,000, and among correspondences with Bill Clinton, Tony Blair, and Prince Charles, there were also several never-before-seen letters that shed new light on the actor’s experience playing Snape.
One letter that stood out was from David Heyman, who produced the Harry Potter films. He wrote, “Thank you for making HP2 a success. I know, at times, you are frustrated but please know that you are an integral part of the films. And you are brilliant.” This instantly led to speculation as to what made Rickman so frustrated during filming.
32. Mass Appeal
Fortunately, delving deeper into the cache of letters reveals the source of some of Rickman’s frustrations. In a note written during the filming of The Half-Blood Prince, Rickman said, “It’s as if David Yates has decided that this is not important in the scheme of things i.e. teen audience appeal,” referring to the darker aspects of Snape’s past (such as the abuse he received at the hands of his father).
When Rickman first took the role of Snape, the ending of the book series had not yet been revealed. So, to make sure that he could best portray the complicated character, J.K. Rowling revealed a key piece of information about the character to him. Rickman died never revealing what that piece of information was, but Rowling eventually let fans in on the secret.
She told him what lies behind the word “Always.” That Snape would always love Lily Potter. That he would always protect Harry. That nothing in the world, no amount of torment or danger, could change that. So while audiences were left guessing as to Snape’s allegiances until the final film, the actor himself knew all along.
34. Trust Me, I Know
The fact that Rickman knew more about his character than anyone else made for an interesting dynamic between the actor and his directors. There would be times where a director would tell Rickman to do something, and he would respond by saying, “No, I can’t do that—I know what is going to happen and you don’t.”
35. Hagrid Gets Revenge
We first meet Walden MacNair in Prisoner of Azkaban when he is sent to execute Hagrid’s beloved pet hippogriff Buckbeak. This secret Death Eater is enraged when Buckbeak disappears and he is robbed of his chance to kill the creature, revealing a bloodthirsty and cruel nature. During the Battle of Hogwarts, we see MacNair one more time—when Hagrid throws him clear across a room.
36. To No Avail
When Death Eaters Barty Crouch Jr. and the Lestranges—Bellatrix, Rodolphus and Rabastan—tortured Neville Longbottom’s parents Alice and Frank, they didn’t know that their savage and non-stop use of the cruciatus curse actually could never have given them what they wanted. The torture took place after the fall of Voldemort, and the four Death Eaters responsible were trying to locate their master.
Frank and Alice Longbottom were completely unaware that Voldemort had fled to Albania, nor the nebulous state that he’d been reduced to, so even if they’d wanted to share information, they had nothing to give.
37. Mama’s Magical Boy
The egotistical and ill-fated Gilderoy Lockhart is a half-blood, born to a witch mother and Muggle father. He is also the only one of their three children to inherit magical power, as his two older sisters were both born Squibs. As a result, Lockhart’s mother openly loved him most of all the children.
38. Pure Blood Only
Salazar Slytherin was obsessed with pure-bloods, and even the Sorting Hat admits that wizard-born blood is a factor in its Sorting of a student into the mean, green House. Nonetheless, technically anyone displaying the qualities Slytherin broadly valued—cunning, resourcefulness, and ambition—may be sorted into Slytherin. It is, however, very rare for Muggle-borns to end up as Slytherins.
39. Bad Reputation
While it is not known exactly how many dark wizards and witches came out of Slytherin before Tom Riddle started school, we do know Riddle recruited his Death Eaters primarily from Slytherin. If we take Ron Weasley at his word, “There’s not a single witch or wizard who went bad who wasn’t in Slytherin.” Granted, that doesn’t mean there aren’t good wizards in the house! #NotAllSlytherins
40. Patron Ghost’s Dark Side
Slytherin’s house ghost, the Bloody Baron, has a fittingly bloody backstory. He stabbed himself to death in remorse shortly after he brutally murdered Rowena Ravenclaw’s daughter, Helena. He was in love with her, but after one too many rejections he killed her in a fit of rage, then turned his sword on himself. The two (Helena is the Grey Lady who roams for Ravenclaw House) have haunted Hogwarts ever since. Twisted Romeo and Juliet anyone?
Salazar Slyterin’s’s locket went through quite an odyssey before it landed in Tom Riddle’s hands. A family locket, it was handed down the Slytherin line until it ended up in the Gaunt family. Merope Gaunt—that is, Voldemort’s mother—stole the locket from her father and sold it to Caractacus Burke; the witch Hepzibah Smith then ended up buying it from Borgin and Burkes.
Smith made the mistake of showing the locket to Riddle (who worked at the store at the time), and she was found dead just days later, while Riddle went off with his birthright and shiny new Horcrux.
Bellatrix Lestrange was born to Cygnus Black III and Druella Black, the eldest girl of three sisters, the other two being Andromeda and Narcissa.
43. Exclusive Membership
In the world of the Harry Potter franchise, there is a list of pure-blood wizarding families known as the “Sacred Twenty-Eight.” These 28 families all managed to remain completely pure-blood into the 1930s (or else they’d disown those relatives who disobeyed). Bellatrix is a member of the Sacred Twenty-Eight on both sides of her family, and even under her married name (Lestrange) she is a pure-blood as well.
We all know how seriously Voldemort took pure blood.
44. School Days
According to Sirius Black, Bellatrix was part of a gang during her studies at Hogwarts that later joined the ranks of the Death Eaters. Among the others in that gang were other future Death Eaters, like Evan Rosier and Severus Snape.
45. Taking Grudges Too Far
While Bellatrix and her sister, Narcissa, married into other pure-blood families, their other sister, Andromeda, married a Muggle-born wizard named Ted Tonks. Sirius would declare that Andromeda was disowned for doing so, and Bellatrix would later claim that she (along with the rest of her family) hadn’t even spoken to or seen Andromeda since she’d gotten married.
That is one incredibly strict and unloving family.
46. It’s Time to Duel!
J.K. Rowling frequently acknowledges that Bellatrix is the most skilled fighter of the Death Eaters. She defeats highly trained Aurors like Kingsley Shacklebolt and Nymphadora Tonks in combat. Even during the Battle of Hogwarts, she is able to fight off Hermione, Ginny Weasley, and Luna Lovegood simultaneously.
47. Must Have Had a Great Honeymoon
According to J.K. Rowling, the marriage between Bellatrix and Rodolphus Lestrange was “loveless,” as Bellatrix only felt any true devotion to Voldemort. Bellatrix had only gotten married out of a sense of duty to marry well.
Ouch. Sorry Rodolphus. Turns out that Voldemort isn’t just an absolutely evil, genocidal maniac… he’s also a bit of a homewrecker.
48. I Don’t Like Him
Despite her having attended school with Severus Snape and having been a Death Eater alongside him for years, Bellatrix grew to hate and distrust Snape as being unworthy of Voldemort’s trust. She despised him for defecting to the enemy when Voldemort disappeared. She also considered Snape’s half-blood status to be a sign of his inferiority, and his inability to have killed Harry Potter in all the years that he was a teacher at Hogwarts proves his weakness and lack of devotion to the Death Eaters’ cause.
And in the end, we suppose, she was right all along. Snape did turn out to be on the other side all along. Good news for the good guys that Beletrix never managed to convince Voldemort to give up on Severus.
49. Kill Count
When it comes to killing off beloved characters, Bellatrix is responsible for two of the saddest send-offs in the Harry Potter series. In Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, she kills her cousin, Sirius Black, in front of his own godson. In Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, she throws the knife that kills Dobby, the loyal house-elf.
As if she needed to be more hateable.
50. Where Are All the Bad Girls?
Bellatrix Lestrange was the first female Death Eater introduced in the Harry Potter series, books or movies. The only other confirmed female Death Eater is Alecto Carrow.
51. Love Lost
Interestingly, a rather well-known love triangle is hidden within the casting of the Harry Potter film series. Bellatrix is played by Helena Bonham Carter, who had previously had an affair with Kenneth Branagh, who played Gilderoy Lockhart in the second Harry Potter film. This affair led to the end of Branagh’s marriage to Emma Thompson, who also appeared in the film series as Sybill Trelawney.
52. Surprising Fate
Bellatrix’s ultimate fate in the story is death during the Battle of Hogwarts after a fierce duel with Molly Weasley. According to J.K. Rowling, she always intended for Molly to kill Bellatrix, giving two reasons for her choice. Firstly, Molly killing Bellatrix would show the victory of maternal and romantic love against obsessive love (i.e. Bellatrix’s feelings for Voldemort).
Secondly, it would show that just because Molly is a very family-focused woman doesn’t mean that she wouldn’t be able to hold her own in a fight.
53. Did J.K. Write That??
According to Harry Potter and the Cursed Child, Bellatrix secretly had a daughter with Lord Voldemort during their time at Malfoy Manor. Whether you decide this is canon or not is your decision, to be honest, since it does seem rather uncharacteristic of Voldemort to care about anyone enough to procreate with them.
54. From A to B
As it’s revealed in the books, as scary as Bellatrix is, she’s terrified of one wizard: Dumbledore. She flees from him during the battle in the Department of Mysteries, recognizing him as her superior in magic.
55. She Might Have Had a Chance
Despite this hesitancy to openly confront Dumbledore, though, Bellatrix is the only person in the book series, apart from Voldemort, to successfully block one of Dumbledore’s attacks.
56. Innocent Cruelty
According to Helena Bonham Carter, her performance as the crazed Bellatrix was inspired by the savagery of children “before they get civilized.” No doubt parents reading this article are nodding their heads sagely in agreement.
57. Unexpected Swear
As fans of Harry Potter will remember, the seventh book and the last movie in the series featured Bellatrix’s battle with Molly Weasley. The battle between them begins when Bellatrix attempts to kill Ginny, only for Molly to scream “Not my daughter you b****!” Not only was this the first use of the word as a curse in the Harry Potter series, but novelist Stephen King later commented that it had been “the most shocking [use of the word] in recent fiction.”
58. Silver Medal?
Originally, the character of Bellatrix was meant to be played by actress Helen McCrory when she made her debut in Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix. However, McCrory became pregnant and had to drop out of the movie. However, she eventually returned to the film franchise when she was cast as Narcissa Malfoy, Bellatrix’s sister.
59. Happy New Year
Tom Marvolo Riddle was born on December 31, 1926, and I bet his New Years resolutions always had something to do with the dark arts.
60. With a Name Like That, She Has to be Evil
Voldemort comes from a long line of evil, sadistic witches and wizards. Not only was he descended from Salazar Slytherin, another of his ancestors was a sinister witch named Gormlaith Gaunt. Living in the 1600s, Gormlaith killed her her sister and her Sister’s husband, then kidnapped their five-year-old daughter, Isolt.
61. A Piece of History
Unlike so many stories from Voldemort’s family history, the tale of Isolt and Gormlaith has a (somewhat) happy ending. After over a decade of mistreatment from her aunt, Isolt stole Gormlaith’s wand and fled to the New World, where she founded the Ilvermorny School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, the American equivalent to Hogwarts.
62. Pukwudgie Pride
Gormlaith would eventually meet her end while seeking revenge on her niece. She traveled to the New World in search of Isolt, but she ended up getting more than she bargained for—she was killed when Isolt’s friend, William the Pukwudgie, shot her with a venom-tipped arrow. For his heroics, one of Ilvermorny’s four Houses was named after William.
While adult Voldemort was played by Ralph Fiennes, one of the young versions glimpsed in Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince was played by Fiennes’ nephew, Hero Fiennes-Tiffin. Director David Yates chose the actor not just because of the name, but because of his resemblance to Ralph.
Although Voldemort was pretty big on the supremacy of purebloods, he was actually half-blood. He had one muggle parent, but told his followers and the world that he was a pure-blooded descendant of Salazar Slytherin.
65. How Can I Help You?
At one time, if you walked into Borgin and Burke’s magic shop, you would have been greeted by Riddle’s (less reptilian) face. Riddle worked at the shop during his teens and offered great customer service, while also using the knowledge he acquired to locate magical items. Some of these items later became his Horcruxes.
We all have some conflict with family sometimes, but not as much as Riddle had with his distant cousin, Harry Potter. Riddle was related to Cadmus Peverell, one of the three brothers who were given the Deathly Hallows: the Elder Wand, the invisibility cloak and the resurrection stone. Cadmus received the resurrection stone, while the brother who receives the invisibility cloak, Ignotus, is related to Potter.
Then again, J.K. Rowling has also confirmed that “nearly all” wizarding families are related to the brothers if you go back far enough.
67. Owner of a Lonely Heart
Tom’s wizard mother, Merope Gaunt, used her wizarding prowess to put Tom’s dad, Tom Riddle Sr., under her spell. Literally. The spell (or love potion, to be specific) required continuous doping and Merope eventually slipped up out of guilt, leading to Mr. Riddle coming to his senses. Soon after, he walked out, taking most of the family’s money with him.
Merope gave birth to young Tom at an orphanage and then died one hour later from complications of childbirth.
68. Goody Two Shoes
Riddle served as a prefect during his time at Hogwarts, outwardly coming across as a model student. Meanwhile, he schemed for ways to get more power and manipulate professors, such as the manipulation that led Professor Slughorn to tell him about Horcruxes.
69. You Mad Bro?
It was Riddle’s uncle, Morfin Gaunt, who let it slip that Riddle’s dad was a muggle. How did Riddle respond? He killed his dad, and his dad’s parents. He then framed his uncle for the murders and had him sent to Azkaban. His uncle couldn’t really protest, since Riddle fiddled with his memories.
70. Keep it in the Family
As Game of Thrones has taught us—thanks, Cersei—the desire to keep a bloodline pure can lead to incest. In the case of Riddle, the Gaunt family was very close. Although Riddle wasn’t directly a result of incest, his mother’s bloodline has generations of it going back.
So your parents are gone and you’re in an orphanage. Do you try to make friends or do you torture the kids around you? If you’re Tom Riddle, you do the latter. Riddle’s antics included using his parseltongue to creep people out and hanging another orphan’s pet rabbit. Riddle also took two orphans, Amy Benson and Dennis Bishop, to a cave and did some unethical things that have yet to be confirmed.
Fan theories abound about the specifics, but as of yet, Rowling has never revealed what happened on that dark day.
72. In the Beginning
The Death Eaters began as Slytherin bullies that Riddle recruited. The group helped Riddle gain more influence in Hogwarts. The early group also served as underlings that could carry out acts that Riddle needed to distance himself from in order to maintain his teacher’s pet image.
According to J.K. Rowling, the T in “Voldemort” is supposed to be silent. Rowling dropped the news back in 2015. There are public examples of her saying the dark lord’s name like everyone else does, but Rowling says she only pronounces the T when engaging with fans.
Riddle excelled as a student at Hogwarts, becoming “the most talented’ student according to some sources. Riddle also got an early start on the dark arts. He created his first Horcrux when he was 16 years old.
75. Mr. Worldwide
It’s pretty common knowledge that Tom Marvolo Riddle is an anagram for the phrase “I am Lord Voldemort.” What’s more interesting is that this remains true for all sixty-eight languages the book has been translated in. Different languages might give Riddle different names, but they do so specifically to keep the anagram.
For example, the Dutch is Marten Asmodom Vilign and “Mijn Naam (my name) is Voldemort.” In the Dutch case, the last name of Vilign also means “evil.”
76. The Departed
J.K. Rowling looked beyond for inspiration for her character’s names. Specifically, some of them came from Edinburgh’s Greyfriars Kirk churchyard. Tom Riddell died when he was 72, while Tom Riddle died when he was 71. Fans began to leave flowers at Riddell’s grave following the revelation.
77. Bad Roommate
Moaning Myrtle has Riddle to thank for her death, since he is the one who opened the Chamber of Secrets and let the basilisk out while he was a student at Hogwarts.
78. Too Close
Remember that awkward hug Voldemort shares with Draco? Not scripted. Ralph Fiennes improvised.
79. Fifteen Minutes of Fame
Christian Coulson, who portrayed Riddle in The Chamber of Secrets, went through a six-month long audition process. The time was made worse by the hectic filming schedule, since the first film was being filmed during the audition process. Coulson says the original slate had thousands of potentials, which eventually got narrowed down to three, and then to one.
Coulson’s 15-minute scene then took seven weeks to film.
80. Method Acting
Coulson’s upbringing actually had some surprising parallels with Riddle’s. The actor went to a “Hogwarts-y” boarding school and also relates to feeling like an orphan while at the school since his parents were abroad. Coulson also says he had the outward appearance of a model student while also being quite mischievous.
Coulson doesn’t give specifics on the mischief but hopefully it wasn’t as bad as Riddle’s.
81. Cut Down
Like the book, the Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince film was supposed to show all of Dumbledore’s memories about Riddle. According to screenwriter, Steven Kloves, the director insisted on trimming them down because he wanted to focus on Voldemort’s rise to power, without getting hung up on his past as Riddle.
82. Tom Bates
Although Riddle is obviously a violent, angry fellow, there is also evidence to support the claim he is a serial killer. Serial killers have very specific tell-tale signs, and Riddle actually fits most of them. There is the obvious lack of empathy, violence, and feeling of superiority. Then there’s also his tendency to take trophies from his victims and his harming of animals.
83. Not Quite My Tempo
Eddie Redmayne, who now plays Newt Scamander in the Fantastic Beasts series, auditioned for the part of Tom Riddle in The Chamber of Secrets. He was rejected after reading one line.
When a young Dumbledore visits Riddle in the orphanage in The Half-Blood Prince, there are seven stones lined up on Riddle’s windowsill. The number is the most powerful in magic in the Potterverse, and also coincides with the pieces of Riddle’s soul.
85. Nailed It!
Ralph Fiennes knew his Voldemort makeup was on point when he made a child cry. Allegedly, the child of a script supervisor was reduced to tears when Fiennes walked past him.
86. Thanks Dad
Although Tom Riddle did everything to disown his muggle father, he still needed a bone from his dad to get his body back. He also tied Harry Potter to his dad’s grave shortly after returning.
87. Thanks for the Memories
After shipping his uncle off to Azkaban, Riddle also took his family signet ring. The ring was a trophy of his crime, and later served as a Horcrux.
88. Home Sweet Home
Tom’s mother Merope Gaunt grew up in a rundown cottage. The space was shared with her dad, Marvolo, and her Uncle Morfin. The abuse she suffered at the hands of her housemates, along with the poverty, probably contributed to her decision to bewitch a muggle and run away.
89. Good Deal
Although Riddle was a handful as he got older, he was apparently an angelic baby. Mrs. Cole, the head of the orphanage, notes that Riddle rarely cried when he was a wee lad. You’d think he would have been adopted out.
90. No Thank You
Riddle earned an award for Special Services to the School during his time at Hogwarts. Surprisingly, the award is still on display in the trophy room: Ron had the pleasure of cleaning it during detention in The Chamber of Secrets.
Harry and Ron discover one of Voldemort’s Horcruxes hidden in a cave. This is the same cave where Riddle earlier traumatized two of his orphanage peers. This fit in with Dumbledore’s belief that Riddle would use items and locations of special significance when creating and hiding his Horcruxes.
92. Coincidence, I Think Not!
The name Riddle adopted later in life, literally means “flight from death” in French. Vol (flight), de (from), mort (death). “Vol” can also mean theft.
93. Unite the Seven
According to Potter lore, Riddle was the first wizard to use more than one Horcrux, splitting his soul into seven pieces. Creating a Horcrux also requires an act of murder, which Riddle took care of in spades.
94. Shouldn’a Said That
Riddle and Hagrid both attended Hogwarts at the same time. Riddle also framed Hagrid for opening The Chamber of Secrets. Hagrid was expelled, his wand was broken and he was forbidden from using magic.
Riddle is the last descendant of Salazar Slytherin, meaning the bloodline dies with him since he didn’t have children. That is, unless you count The Cursed Child (I don’t).
Apparently, Riddle was complimented on his Halloween costume by a child once. This happened when Riddle was on his way to kill Harry’s parents. In a rare act, Riddle didn’t bother killing the child who insulted him.
97. That Guy Is Poison
Harry and Riddle both share wands with a phoenix feather core, but the types of wood are different. Harry’s wand is made from holly, which is traditionally believed to repel evil. Riddle’s wand uses yew wood, and yew sap is poisonous.
98. Professor Riddle
Riddle originally wanted to teach once he graduated, specifically for Defence Against the Dark Arts. The headmaster at the time, Armando Dippet, declined due to Riddle’s age, and it was probably a good call. When Riddle returned up ten years later to try again, Dumbledore shut him down quick. However, ever since that day, the school was unable to keep a Defence Against the Dark Arts teacher for more than a single year.
This eerie “coincidence” is largely assumed to be a curse that Voldemort cast on the position out of spite for his rejection.
99. Dark Plans
Some fans have come up with a theory that the curse on the Defence Against the Dark Arts position at Hogwarts was actually an ingenious plan by the Dark Lord. Yes, he was bitter that he wasn’t allowed to take up the post, but that’s not the only explanation for the curse—he also may have created it to ensure that young witches and wizards would be ill-prepared to face him as he rose to power. The constantly shifting cast of characters meant that no single, good teacher could get a foothold, so the students wouldn’t be properly trained in combatting the dark magic of Voldemort and his followers.
100. Kray Kray
The idea behind someone being so feared that no one wanted to utter their name comes from real English history. Rowling used the notorious English gangsters the Kray twins as inspiration, since their reputation allegedly led to people avoiding using their names.
A man willing to use Horcruxes clearly wants to avoid death. J.K. Rowling has said that Tom Riddle’s boggart would likely be his own lifeless corpse. Sweet dreams.
102. What is Love?
Riddle was conceived while his dad was under the influence of a love potion. Aside from a range of issues that come with parental abandonment, Riddle is also physically incapable of understanding love, due to his mother’s tampering with his dad.
103. Garden of Evil
Voldemort left an enormous pile of bodies behind him in his rise to power, but one of his most tragic victims was one that he left alive. After he killed his muggle father and grandparents, their gardener, Frank Bryce, was accused of the crime. Since there was no evidence (the Killing Curse does not leave a mark, so the Riddles’ deaths could not be proven as murder), Bryce was never convicted.
However, just because he got off, that doesn’t mean he didn’t suffer for the crime. The World War II veteran was cast out of the community, and he was forced to spend the rest of his life as an outcast, living by himself, tending the grounds of the people he’d wrongly been accused of killing. Of course, Voldemort would eventually return to finish the job, killing Bryce in The Goblet of Fire.