Frank Bryce (August, 1917—20 August, 1994) was a Muggle who lived in the village of Little Hangleton, England. After serving in the Second World War, he returned to Little Hangleton and became the gardener for the Riddle family. He was the prime suspect of the Riddle murders, a crime he did not commit. Two unidentified families lived at the house, but neither stayed long. A wealthy man owned the Riddle house during Frank's last days, although he didn't live at the house, being said to keep it "for tax reasons." Shortly before his seventy-seventh birthday, he was murdered by Lord Voldemort after Nagini told Voldemort Bryce was overhearing him discussing his plans to murder Harry Potter with Peter Pettigrew.
Second World War
In 1939 the Second World War started. Frank Bryce, a twenty-two year old man at the time, was called to military service. During the war, his leg was wounded and remained very stiff until his death. He left the service prior to the end of the war, presumably because of his leg. Bryce was already back in Little Hangleton by 1943, sometime prior to the deaths of the Riddle family.
Gardener for the Riddles
Frank returned to Little Hangleton with a stiff leg and a great dislike of crowds and loud noises. Frank started working for the snobbish Riddle family, as a gardener. He worked full-time; he was given a small cottage in the Riddle's property.
The Riddle murders
In the summer of 1943, sixteen-year-old Tom Marvolo Riddle, came to Little Hangleton in search of his family. Upon learning of his father's actions toward his mother and himself from his uncle, he decided to murder his father. That same evening, Frank Bryce, a twenty-six year old man, saw Tom Marvolo Riddle climbing the hill towards the Riddle House. The next morning, a maid found Thomas Riddle, Mary Riddle and Tom Riddle dead in the Riddle House's drawing room. The local villagers suspected Bryce, and he was taken by the police in the neighbouring Great Hangleton to be questioned, given that he had the only key to the mansion. Though Bryce explained that the last person he saw near the Riddle House was the dark-haired boy, nobody else had seen him and was sure that Bryce invented him. However, the report on the Riddles' bodies was unable to determine the cause of their death, and Frank was released due to lack of evidence, although he was still widely suspected by his neighbours.
After the murders
Frank had no family, and continued to live a solitary, disconnected life in his small cottage on the Riddle House grounds. He continued to be paid as the gardener by the house's succession of owners. As he aged, he was plagued by the pain in his leg, and by the vandalism of local boys, which he suspected was motivated by the belief that he was a murderer. The boys would usually throw rocks into the Riddle House and trample or ride their bicycles on the flowerbeds that Frank worked hard to keep smooth, then flee when Frank tried to pursue them unsuccessfully due to his injured leg.
One night, in the summer of 1994, Frank Bryce, now nearing his seventy-seventh birthday, woke up from the pain in his leg, and saw a light in the Riddle House, and he assumed the local boys had broken in and set fire to it. Not having a telephone or trusting the police since his arrest, Frank went to investigate and was surprised to see not vandals, but Lord Voldemort, hidden from view, and his servant Wormtail, discussing on taking Harry Potter's life. Going very deaf from old age, he listened with his better right ear, and though confused with terms such as "Muggles" and "Quidditch," he thought they must be code, and he figured enough to learn that the master had killed a woman with amusement, and plotting more. Frank thought he must report this to the police at once, but encountered with Nagini before he could flee.
- "He was screaming so loudly that he never heard the words the thing in the chair spoke as it raised a wand. There was a flash of green light, a rushing sound, and Frank Bryce crumbled. He was dead before he hit the floor."
- —Description of the murder for Frank Bryce.[src]
When Nagini discovered Frank and reported to Voldemort, the Dark Lord welcomed the gardener into the room. In a failed attempt to bluff his way out, Frank's deception saying that his wife would notice his disappearance was seen through by Voldemort, and that nobody knew he was there. After challenging Voldemort to show his face "like a man," Frank was horrified to see a mutilated body in the chair, and was screaming so loud that he never heard the incantation of the Killing Curse that took his life.
- "He was a real wizard, then? Killed me, that one did... You fight him, boy..."
- —Frank Bryce's echo on Voldemort, encouraging Harry.[src]
Roughly a year later, after Voldemort's rebirth, Frank's shadow reappeared in the Priori Incantatem caused by the duel between Harry Potter and Voldemort.
Frank then realized that Voldemort was indeed a wizard, and supported Harry to defeat the Dark Lord in revenge for his demise. He, and the other echoes, helped Harry escape by distracting Voldemort.
Personality and traits
Frank is described to have a "horrible temper" since he was a child. He was not very sociable; according to the Riddles' cook he "never wanted to mix". After his experiences during the War, he developed a great dislike of crowds and loud noises. When the time finally comes to take action, he manages his fear much easier; in 1994, despite being terrified of the murderer who is standing besides a door in the Riddle House, he confronts him, when he was caught eavesdropping. Upon his temporary return to Earth during the duel between Harry and Voldemort he seemed to have a dry acceptance of his death. Bryce supported the former despite never meeting him before, while distracting the latter in revenge for killing him.
Behind the scenes
- Frank was portrayed by Eric Sykes in the film adaptation of Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire.
- Frank is one of only five characters in the Harry Potter book series whose thoughts have been disclosed by the narrator, the others being Harry Potter, Vernon Dursley, Narcissa Malfoy, and the British Prime Minister.
- Albus Dumbledore incorrectly suspected that Frank's death was used by Voldemort to turn Nagini into his final horcrux, but it was officially stated that Bertha Jorkins' death was used instead. However, as Bertha was omitted from the films (and she did not appear in the stream of people who appeared in the Priori Incantatem), Frank's death might have been used instead in the film timeline. However, this still leaves in question how Voldemort knew about the Triwizard Tournament. So Bertha may have been present offscreen, but not killed with Voldemort's wand, perhaps by Nagini instead.
- Frank Bryce's role in the story is replaced by a milkman in LEGO Harry Potter: Years 1-4.
The name "Frank" comes from a Germanic name which referred to a member of the Germanic tribe, the Franks. The Franks settled in the regions now called France and the Netherlands in the 3rd and 4th century. They derived their tribal name from the name of a type of throwing axe that they used. The name was brought to England by the Normans. Notable bearers include author L. Frank Baum (1856-1919) and architect Frank Lloyd Wright (1867-1959).
- Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire (First appearance)
- Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire (film) (Appears in vision(s))
- Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince (Mentioned as "old Muggle man")