Tom Marvolo Riddle, later known under his alias Lord Voldemort is the main antagonist of the Harry Potter book and film series. He is the founder and leader of the Death-Eaters, as well as the most dangerous and most powerful dark wizard in the series. He is the arch-nemesis of Harry Potter, having murdered both of his parents, and attempted to murder Harry himself. The magic community often calls him: You-Know-Who or He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named.
He serves as the main antagonist of The Philosopher's Stone, The Chamber of Secrets, The Goblet of Fire, The Order of the Phoenix, The Deathly Hallows Part 1, The Deathly Hallows Part 2 and the unseen overarching antagonist of The Prisoner of Azkaban and The Half-Blood Prince.
- 1 BACKGROUND
- 2 Appearances
- 3 SECOND WIZARDING WAR
Tom Marvolo Riddle was born on New Year's Eve, 1926 in an orphanage in London. He was born to Merope Gaunt, a direct descendant of Salazar Slytherin, and Tom Riddle Sr., a wealthy and extremely snobbish Muggle. Merope magically tricked Tom Sr. into marrying her and kept him under control until she finally let him go, hoping he would have fallen in love with her on his own after, but he abandoned her without second thoughts, desperate and miserable, she died shortly after chosing a name for her newborn son. J.K. Rowling stated that due to the fact that he was born because of a love potion, it made him unable to feel love and made him the monster he was, though it would have been different if Merope survived and loved him.
Tom Riddle grew up in a dingy orphanage, completely unaware of his Wizarding heritage, though he did have a lot of grasp on his abilities beyond that of normal magical children, which he used to harm people he did not like. He was never caught for any of his acts, but was suspected nonetheless. He used fear and manipulation to control his fellow orphans and regularly stole from them, who feared him so much that they refused to share a room with him. Although he was far more intelligent than his peers, he already demonstrated disturbing sociopatic and megalomaniac tendencies.
When Tom was 11, Dumbledore visited the orphanage and invited Tom to attend Hogwarts. Not much else is known of his childhood.
Tom Riddle was educated at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry from 1938 to 1945, and was placed in Slytherin. During summer breaks, he would return to the Muggle orphanage, which he despised and dreaded more than any other place on Earth.
Tom described himself as "poor, but brilliant, parentless, but so brave, a school prefect, a model student." This opinion was shared by the Professors, including Horace Slughorn whom Tom tricked into telling him about Horcruxes. The sole exception to this was Albus Dumbledore, the Transfiguration professor at the time, who still admits that Tom was the most brilliant student Hogwarts has ever seen.
Tom eventually became obsessed with his parentage and began researching it with an insatiable hunger. During his research, he realized his shared heritage with Salazar Slytherin. During this time, Tom relinquished the Muggle name he loathed and began going by the name " Lord Voldemort": an anagram of his given name: "Tom Marvolo Riddle" rearranged giving: "I am Lord Voldemort"
In his 5th year, Tom located the secret entrance to the Chamber of Secrets, and was able to control the Basilisk(the snake-like monster inside) because he was a Parselmouth. Tom turned the beast loose on the school, injuring many. The last victim was a student named Myrtle, who was killed in the girls' bathroom and whose soul later became a lingering ghost in the same restroom by the name of "Moaning". Hogwarts was to be closed, but Tom didn't want to return home. To keep the school from shutting down, he framed fellow student Rubeus Hagrid, who secretly raised Aragog, a baby Acromantula (Giant Spider).
Dumbledore, distrusting Riddle, kept a close watch on him after that. Because it was no longer safe to open the Chamber of Secrets, Tom created a diary to preserve a part of his soul, hoping it would one day lead someone to finish Salazar Slytherin's "noble" work. This diary was one of his seven Horcruxes. At Tom's last year at Hogwarts, he was prefect, Head Boy, and he had received a medal for magical merit.
During the summer of 1943, Tom Riddle went to the small hut where his mother once lived. There he gained information about his mother and father, and then stunned his uncle Morfin Gaunt (the last remaining inhabitant) and implanted a false memory of him killing the Riddle family inside his head. Later that morning, all 3 Riddles were found dead in the drawing room of their home. Investigating wizards learned Morfin's wand was used to commit the murders and he confessed the murders. As for people in Little Hangleton, they grew to blame the Riddles' gardener Frank Bryce.
Shortly before graduating, Tom used his charisma to charm the spirit of Helena Ravenclaw (more commonly known as the Grey Lady, the ghost of Ravenclaw Tower) into revealing the location of Rowena Ravenclaw's Diadem. Then when he finished his education, he asked Armando Dippet for a chance to teach Defence Against the Dark Arts at Hogwarts, but was deemed too young. After leaving Hogwarts, he presumably traveled to the far-flung forest in Albania about which Helena had told him and retrieved the Diadem. He murdered an Albanian and turned the Diadem into a Horcrux. Upon his return to Britain, he was offered several positions in the Ministry of Magic, but ended up working at Borgin and Burkes for Caractacus Burke, which disappointed and surprised many. His job was to "persuade" people to part with their valuable magical items — a job at which he was very good.
During his time with Borgin and Burkes, Tom charmed a wealthy, elderly lady named Hepzibah Smith. After several visits showed him her 2 most valuable treasures: Salazar Slytherin's Locket and Helga Hufflepuff's Cup. Tom killed her and stole the objects, vanishing without a trace. He covered his tracks well by implanting another false memory into an innocent person, Hokey, Hepzibah's house elf, who admitted to accidentally putting poison into Hepzibah's cocoa. Meanwhile, Tom ran away with the cup and locket and turned them into two more Horcruxes.
Tom disappeared for many years, slipping deeper into the Dark Arts. The more he made Horcruxes, the less human he became and eventually lost all trace of humanity. Tom appealed once more to Albus Dumbledore, now Headmaster of Hogwarts, for the position of Defence Against the Dark Arts professor, in an attempt to learn Hogwarts' secrets and recruit followers. Dumbledore denied him, knowing of his plan. The position has since been jinxed; teachers only held the position for a year until Riddle's death ended the spell. Riddle's visit to request the position was not fruitless, however; he hid Rowena Ravenclaw's Diadem in the Room of Requirement, where he believed it would never be found.
The Rise of the Dark Lord
In the 1970s, Lord Voldemort had gathered a following of witches and wizards, who named themselves the Death Eaters. He then began taking advantage of the Wizarding World's greatest weakness: the beings and creatures that they had outcast. He recruited Giants, Werewolves, Dementors and many others; and used his army to wage war against the Ministry of Magic. At the height of Voldemort's reign of terror (and for many years after), people were so afraid of him that they didn't even dare speaking his name, referring to him as "You-Know-Who" or "He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named."
One of the Wizarding World's few remaining safe places was Hogwarts, which was under the staunch protection of Albus Dumbledore, the only person Lord Voldemort feared. Dumbledore created the Order of the Phoenix to fight against Voldemort, but they were outnumbered and suffered many casualties. In 1979, word came from an informant, Severus Snape, of a Prophecy that predicted Voldemort's downfall:
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…
This Prophecy was made by Sybill Trelawney, during a job interview with Albus Dumbledore for the position of Divination. According to Dumbledore, Snape only heard the part about Voldemort's downfall and to whom it may relate, before being thrown out by the barman. (Aberforth Dumbledore). Frightened, the Dark Lord sprang into action, unknowingly lauching a chain of events that would eventually accomplish the fate he sought to avoid.
Lord Voldemort realized he must kill the 2 babies to whom it could refer — Harry Potter, a Half-Blood, and Neville Longbottom, a Pure-Blood. — For reasons known only to Voldemort himself, he chose to kill Harry instead of Neville. (Dumbledore suspected this was because Harry shared his Half-Blood heritage with Voldemort.) Due to the involvement of Peter Pettigrew, James Potter's friend-turned-Death-Eater, Lord Voldemort learned the Potter family's secret location. Voldemort murdered James and Lily Potter, but when he used the Killing Curse on Harry, it rebounded upon himself, ripping his soul from his body and destroying his powers. Lord Voldemort had been defeated by the one-year-old boy because Lily's love for her son created an invisible and powerful defense in Harry's skin when she died for him.
The Death Eaters were lost. Many claimed they had been under the Imperius Curse, while others stayed true to their master and continued his work, most notably the Lestranges; Bellatrix and her husband, Rodolphus. Eventually, they were all captured and locked away in Azkaban.
Lord Voldemort wasn't dead, however. His Horcruxes kept him alive, although formless and powerless. He retreated to the same Albanian forest he had traveled to find Rowena Ravenclaw's Diadem, expecting one of his faithful Death Eaters to find him and help him. But those still faithful to him were either dead or in Azkaban. He gained a form by inhabiting snakes, which never lived long.
Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone/Philosopher's Stone
Fortunately for Lord Voldemort, Professor Quirrel who was wandering intotheforest while on a vacation and he was able to make him into his follower. In 1991 - 1992, Voldemort ordered Quirrell to steal Nicolas Flamel's Philosopher's Stone from a vault in Gringotts Bank, so he could make the Elixir of Life. However, it had been removed by Hagrid right before Quirrell could steal it. Lord Voldemort then possessed Quirrel and took form on the back of his head, which was concealed by a turban. Quirrell often drank Unicorn blood to sustain his master. Quirrell tricked Hagrid into telling him about Fluffy, the three headed Hound that was the first guard of the Philosopher's stone at Hogwarts. Now all they needed was a way to get into the Forbidden Corridor. Severus Snape was suspicious, however, and when Quirrell let loose a Troll in the dungeons as a distraction, Snape blocked him off. Voldemort had Quirrell send a fake letter to Dumbledore, asking him to go to the Ministry of Magic, then moved on with their plan. They beat their way through the security enchantments and reached the Mirror of Erised. There, Quirrell saw himself presenting the stone to his master, but could not get it. It was only when Harry arrived that they could retrieve the stone, as "only those who wanted the stone, but not use it, could get it from the mirror." Voldemort figured this out, and Quirrell attacked Harry, but when he touched Harry, his hands blistered. Harry placed his hands on Quirrell 's face, severely injuring him. Lord Voldemort's soul fled when Dumbledore barged in, once more without a body.
Harry Potter and the Chambers of Secrets
Lord Voldemort returned to the Albanian forest, weaker than ever. He had to wait for another to help him.
In 1992, Lucius Malfoy placed a diary containing the soul fragments of Voldemort embedded in it into Ginny Weasley's cauldron who brought it to Hogwarts. She came in contact with the 16-year-old-Riddle Horcrux, who feigned to confort her to manipulate her. Riddle's memory learned all he could about his future self's defeat and Harry Potter. He slowly drained the life away from Ginny Weasley, and put her under his control. He made her open the Chamber of Secrets and release the Basilisk, kill Hagrid's roosters, and write threatening messages on the wall in rooster blood. Gradually, Ginny became suspicious, so she threw the diary away in Moaning Myrtle's Bathroom. Harry and Ron accidentally stumbled upon it, and Harry began communicating with Tom.
Tom misled Harry about who opened the Chamber of Secrets, convincing him it was Hagrid. When Ginny saw that Harry had the Diary, she stole it back for she did not want Harry to find out all the things she had done while under its influence. When Tom was ready to take his physical form from Ginny's life, he lured her into the Chamber of Secrets. The switch was almost complete when Harry found them. Tom summoned the Basilisk to kill Harry, but Dumbledore's phoenix, Fawkes arrived and blinded the monster. Fawkes also brought the Sorting Hat, from which Harry withdrew Godric Gryffindor's sword. He killed the Basilisk, then used the Basilisk's fang to stab the Diary, unknowingly destroying one of Lord Voldemort's Horcruxes.
Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire
In 1994, Peter Pettigrew, who had been hidding in his Animagus form of Scabbers, Ron's rat, ever since his Master's defeat, was unmasked and fled, eventually returning to his Master. He milked venom from Nagini the snake to built a rudimentary body that Voldemort could travel and perform magic with. Pettigrew had also captured Bertha Jorkins, a Ministry Official. Peter overheard her talking about a Triwizard Tournament at Hogwarts, and Voldemort used a Memory charm to retrieve the information from her, overpowering the previous Memory Charm cast upon her. He then found out about the whereabouts of a loyal Death Eater, Bartemius Crouch Jr, who Crouch Sr. was forcefully hiding in his home, after freeing him from Azkaban.
Voldemort had Pettigrew carry him to the old Riddle manor house, where they killed the groundskeeper Frank Bryce for overhearing their plan; and then to the Crouch home where they placed Crouch Sr. under the Imperius Curse, freeing Crouch Jr. They returned to the Riddle home, where Voldemort instructed Wormtail and Crouch Jr. to capture Alastor Moody, the new Defence Against the Dark Arts Professor at Hogwarts. Crouch Jr. drank Polyjuice potion with a few hairs of Alastor Moody, and went to Hogwarts to make Harry participate in the Triwizard Tournament. The fake Moody helped Harry through all the challenges, and when Cedric and Harry grabbed the Triwizard Cup (which, unbeknownst to them, was a Portkey), they were transported to outside the Riddle mansion, where Peter and Voldemort were waiting. Pettigrew killed Cedric, and used Harry's blood in a ritual for his master's rebirth. Voldemort regained his body, and called his Death Eaters. Those who were perhaps most loyal to him, save for those who willingly went to Azkaban in his name, appeared.
He then tried to kill Harry, but since their wands were made from the same Phoenix's feathers, the core wands connected, and those who were killed by Voldemort's wand came out as spectral beings, including Harry's parents. Harry pulled away, and the beings gave him enough time to grab Cedric's body and the Triwizard Cup to return to the Hogwarts grounds.
Barty Crouch Jr. had been discovered, and was given the Dementors' kiss before he could stand trial, leaving the only knowledge of Voldemort's return as Harry's word, which wasn't taken seriously by most. Due to this, Voldemort was able to operate in secret.
Harry Potter and the Order of the Pheonix
Lord Voldemort kept quiet about his return, and only few believed he was back. Yet Dumbledore started the Order of the Phoenix again, this time with a head start.
In 1995, Voldemort was now after the Prophecy in the Department of Mysteries, to hear the whole of it. Voldemort used the Imperius curse on an Unspeakable: Broderick Bode, and sent him in to get it. However, Bode was seriously injured, and put into a permanent ward at St. Mungo's, where he was eventually murdered by a Devil's Snare plant delivered to his bedside. Voldemort then learned that only the people the Prophecy is about are able to touch it, although understandably he couldn't risk going into the Ministry for fear of exposure. During this period of time, many of Voldemort's most loyal followers, such as Bellatrix Lestrange, escaped from Azkaban and returned to his side.
Eventually he became aware of Harry seeing through his eyes, so he set up a false vision, of Sirius being tortured at the Ministry. Harry, Hermione, Ron, Luna Lovegood, Ginny and Neville went to rescue him, as Voldemort predicted. Now that Harry had gotten the Prophecy, all they needed was to get it from him, but they put up a fight during which the prophecy was smashed.
In the end, Voldemort appeared and tried to kill Harry, but ended up duelling Dumbledore. After a destructive battle with Dumbledore, Voldemort possessed Harry, telling Dumbledore to kill him now, but he fled when Cornelius Fudge and other Ministry officials arrived, now convinced of his return. Many of Voldemort's Death Eaters, including Lucius Malfoy, were incarcerated and sent to Azkaban, though by this time the Dementors had left to side with the Dark Lord.
SECOND WIZARDING WAR
Now that Voldemort no longer needed to keep his actions silent, he waged a second war against the Ministry of Magic. Mass Muggle killings and destruction, were rampant.
In 1996, he made Draco Malfoy a Death Eater, requiring a loyal follower within the school. He instructed Draco to kill Dumbledore, for he wished to punish Lucius Malfoy by giving his son a task he could not do. If he failed, he would meet terrible consequences. In the end, Malfoy was able to sneak a group of Death Eaters into the Castle through a pair of Vanishing Cabinets (the second of which was located in Borgin and Burke's), and the Battle of Hogwarts ensued. Voldemort's plans were carried out, as Severus Snape killed Dumbledore (to save Malfoy, for he had made an Unbreakable Vow with Draco's mother, Narcissa).
Voldemort made Malfoy Manor his headquarters. During the summer of 1997, he captures the Muggle Studies teacher at Hogwarts, Charity Burbage, and kills her before he feeds her to Nagini. He also questioned the kidnapped wandmaker, Ollivander, about why his wand reacted so with Harry Potter's wand. Olivander told him that Voldemort needed another's wand and so he takes Lucius Malfoy's wand.
When Harry is removed for the last time from his Muggle home; Voldemort flies to the scene where his Death Eaters are fighting with Order of the Phoenix airborne. He kills Mad-Eye Moody and then heads straight toward Harry. There Voldemort attempts to duel with Harry, but Harry's wand released a spurt of golden fire at him and destroyed Lucius' wand. (Harry's wand absorbed a fraction of Voldemort's magic during their duel at the graveyard.) Harry managed to reach the protection of Nymphadora Tonks' parents home and Voldemort was forced to retreat.
Angrily, he returned to Malfoy Manor and demanded from Ollivander to answer why Harry's wand yet again reacted towards him, even with a completely different wand. Ollivander told him truthfully that never in Wandlore has he ever heard of such thing happening. Infuriated, Voldemort resolved that he needed the most powerful wand known to man to defeat Harry Potter: the Elder Wand, the Deathstick, The Wand of Destiny. He set out to assume mastery of the Elder Wand, not knowing that it was one of the 3 legendary Deathly Hallows.
During the wedding of Bill Weasley and Fleur Delacour, Kingsley Shacklebolt announced through his Patronus that the Minister for Magic was dead and that the Ministry of Magic had fallen to Voldemort, giving him control over the entire Wizarding England. He establishes a totalitarian police state in its place and has all Muggle-Borns persecuted and imprisoned in Azkaban.
Voldemort traveled to Germany, in search of the wandmaker, Gregorovich. Eventually, Voldemort finally finds Gregorovich, who informs Voldemort that the Wand was stolen from him. Voldemort then performs Legilimency on him and sees a blond young man who steals the wand and disappears in the darkness. Since Gregorovich didn't know who the thief was, Voldemort killed him.
When Harry Potter and Hermione Granger go to Godric's Hollow, they fall into a trap devised by the Dark Lord, who knew that they would go there. Nagini, whom Voldemort had disguised as the historian Bathilda Bagshot, manages to capture Harry, and calls Voldemort. Harry escapes shortly before Voldemort arrives however, and Voldemort finds not Harry, but a picture of the thief at the scene.
Voldemort realizes that the thief is none other than the Dark Wizard Gellert Grindelwald, whom Albus Dumbledore defeated. He breaks into the prison where Grindelwald was being held, where Grindelwald proceeds to tell him that it wouldn't bring about what Voldemort sought, and that there was so much Voldemort didn't understand. Voldemort killed Grindelwald and stole the Elder Wand from the tomb of Albus Dumbledore.
The Battle of Hogwarts
Following this, Voldemort became aware that Harry Potter and his friends are seeking his Horcruxes, and realizes that three of them have been stolen, with another destroyed.
Voldemort returns to Hogwarts following these revelations, to quell a revolution sparked by the arrival of Harry Potter. He rounds up his entire army of Death Eaters, giants, dementors and Acromantulas and, after not receiving Potter, commands them to fight the Aurors, teachers, and students who were of age. Voldemort himself isn't present at the Battle; he is investigating why the Elder Wand doesn't work any differently than his old one. He comes to the conclusion that Severus Snape is the true master of the Elder Wand and orders Nagini to murder him.
Voldemort then calls a one-hour armistice, requesting Harry Potter in exchange for peace and no further deaths. Unbeknownst to Voldemort, Harry carried within him a seventh Horcrux, formed when Voldemort failed to kill him. When Harry meets Voldemort, Voldemort hits him with a Killing Curse almost immediately, but only destroys the Horcrux within, for when Voldemort used Harry's blood in the potion, it kept his mother's protection alive. Harry was knocked to the ground and feigns death.
Voldemort then marched to Hogwarts, proclaiming the death of Harry Potter and his victory. Neville Longbottom, instead of surrendering, charged at Voldemort, and the Battle recommenced.
Neville pulled the sword of Gryffindor from the Sorting Hat and decapitated Nagini with it, destroying the last of Voldemort's Horcruxes. Enraged, Voldemort attempted to kill Neville, but Harry interfered and cast a shield charm between them before the former could raise a wand. Voldemort entered the battle and forced his way into Hogwarts with his army, before getting locked in battle against Minerva McGonagall, Horace Slughorn, and Kingsley Shacklebolt all at once. When he saw Bellatrix Lestrange killed at the hands of Molly Weasley, he turned his wand on her, intending to kill her, but Harry revealed himself then to be alive, forcing the battle to stop, and the pair faced each other in the Great Hall.
When the two men are facing one another, Harry proceeds to tell Voldemort that he has magic that Voldemort knows not and a weapon more powerful than his, in addition to giving Voldemort warning of the fate that lay in store for him if he was unwilling to feel remorse for his actions. Goading him by using his real name, Harry tells him that Snape's loyalty was with Dumbledore all along, that Dumbledore's death was planned and that Snape wasn't the master of the Elder Wand; Draco Malfoy was.
Originally shocked, Voldemort proceeded to tell Harry that it makes no difference, and that after he has killed Harry, Draco could be disposed of. Harry then states that if the Elder Wand is aware that Harry overpowered Draco in Malfoy Manor, then Harry himself is the true master. Refusing to believe this, Voldemort cast the Killing Curse at Harry, but Harry was indeed the master: The Elder Wand refused to kill its master and the spell rebounds, killing Tom Marvolo Riddle once and for all.
After his death, the jinx Voldemort put on The Defence Against the Dark Arts position was broken and the Dark Mark signs Voldemort gave to his minions faded from their arm, reduced into nothing but scars. Since the Horcruxes damaged Voldemort's soul to the point that he couldn't even become a ghost: he is stunted to exist in the baby-like form that Harry saw when he was in limbo, unable to cross over into the afterlife for all of eternity.