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Tom Marvolo Riddle
Biographical information

December 31, 1926, Wool's Orphanage, London[HP6]


May 2, 1998, Hogwarts Castle's Great Hall (aged 71)[HP7]

Blood status


Also known as
  • Lord Voldemort
Physical information




Hair colour
  • Black (later bald)
Eye colour
  • Brown (later red)
Skin colour
  • Light (later white)
Family information
Family members
Magical characteristics

His own corpse


Assistant at Borgin and Burkes (formerly)



Rubeus Hagrid: "It begins, I suppose, with - with a person called - but it's incredible yeh don't know his name, everyone in our world knows -"
Harry Potter: "Who?"
Rubeus Hagrid: "Well - I don' like sayin' the name if I can help it. No one does"
Harry Potter: "Why not?"
Rubeus Hagrid: "Gulpin gargoyles, Harry people are still scared. Blimey, this is difficult. See, there was this wizard who went bad. As bad as you could go. Worse. Worse than worse. His name was ..."
Harry Potter: "Could you write it down?"
Rubeus Hagrid: " Nah - can't spell it. All right - Voldemort."
Harry Potter: "Voldemort?"
Rubeus Hagrid and Harry Potter[src]

Tom Marvolo Riddle (December 31 1926 - May 2 1998), later known as Lord Voldemort, was the most powerful Dark Wizard in the history of the wizarding world. He was born to Tom Riddle Sr., a wealthy Muggle who abandoned his wife and unborn child, and Merope Gaunt, a pure-blood witch descended from Salazar Slytherin who died shortly after childbirth. Born and raised in a dreary London orphanage and educated at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, Tom was an exceptional pupil, being both a Prefect and Head Boy. Very few of the staff could have suspected his true nature, which manifested itself in several nasty instances during his adolescence of which Tom was never proven guilty, notably the opening of the Chamber of Secrets and the murder of the Riddles. After leaving school, Tom briefly worked for Borgin and Burkes before disappearing for a long time. He absorbed himself completely into the Dark Arts, and underwent many extreme magical transformations, including the creation of several Horcruxes. He assumed the alias Lord Voldemort and gathered an army known as the Death Eaters, planning to take over the wizarding world and achieve immortality. This would result in two wars and a great many deaths, until Voldemort was finally defeated by Harry Potter during the Battle of Hogwarts.


Early Life

"I can make things move without touching them. I can make bad things happen to people who are mean to me. I can speak to snakes too. They find me...whisper things."
—Eleven-year-old Tom Riddle to Albus Dumbledore[src]

Tom Marvolo Riddle, was born on New Year's Eve, 1926 in an orphanage in London. His pure-blood mother, Merope Gaunt, a direct descendant of Salazar Slytherin, died shortly after his birth. Before she died, she named the child after his father, Tom Riddle Sr., and Marvolo Gaunt, her father. Tom Riddle Sr. was a wealthy Muggle living in the village of Little Hangleton who was tricked into a relationship with Merope through use of a Love Potion.[1] After a time, it is thought that Merope discontinued her use of love potions on Tom, in the hopes that he had really fallen in love with her. To Merope's great sorrow, he abandoned her and their unborn child.[2]

Tom Riddle grew up in a dingy orphanage, completely unaware of his wizarding heritage. He did have some grasp on his abilities beyond that of normal magical children of his same age, however, as well as an unusually high degree of control over them. Tom could move objects with his mind and cause them to travel floating wherever he wished, manipulate animals and creatures as he wished, speak Parseltongue, and use his power to inflict harm on other orphans. After getting into a fight with one boy, he used his powers to hang the boy's rabbit from the rafters. On one occasion, he took two orphans, Dennis Bishop and Amy Benson, into a cave, where he performed an act so horrifying that the two orphans were traumatised into silence. Young Tom Riddle also stole from fellow orphans and hid their possessions in his cupboard like trophies.

When Tom was eleven, Albus Dumbledore, a professor at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, talked to Mrs. Cole first, who informed him of how unusual Tom was, sharing tales of his extraordinary influence over the other children. When Dumbledore was at last introduced to the boy, Tom at first believed him to be a doctor or psychiatrist of some sort, come to take him to an asylum. He was convinced after Dumbledore demonstrated his power by using a Flame-Freezing Charm on Tom's cupboard, and when he revealed that Hogwarts was a school for people with magic, which Tom realised his abilities were.

Young voldie

Tom Riddle at eleven years old.

"His powers...were surprisingly well-developed for such a young wizard and — most interestingly and ominously of all — he had already discovered that he had some measure of control over them, and begun to use them consciously...they were not the random experiments typical of young wizards: He was already using magic against other people, to frighten, to punish, to control."
Albus Dumbledore on Riddle's abilities as a child[src]

Tom's abuse of his wizarding powers alarmed Albus. He resolved to keep a close eye on him, "something I should have done in any case, seeing as he was alone and friendless." Dumbledore also warned Tom that at Hogwarts he would be introduced to the laws that controlled the usage of magic in the wizarding world, and that law-breakers were punished with severity. Riddle's demeanour changed after Dumbledore reprimanded him; he became more guarded and shielded his reactions. Dumbledore provided Riddle with enough information to find Diagon Alley and Platform Nine and Three-Quarters. Riddle bought some second-hand robes and spellbooks for himself, along with his wand-thirteen and a half inches; yew; phoenix feather core—at Ollivanders. Mr. Ollivander later said that the wand was very powerful; Voldemort was very pleased with it until the wand failed him during his confrontation with Harry Potter in the Little Hangleton Graveyard, many years later. Riddle also mentioned that he was a Parselmouth, which surprised Dumbledore.

Hogwarts Years

"Hogwarts was the first and best home he had known. He and Voldemort and Snape, the abandoned boys, had all found home here..."
Harry Potter's thoughts on Hogwarts[src]
Riddle questions Slughorn

Tom Riddle questioning Horace Slughorn on Horcruxes.

Tom was educated at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry from 1938 to 1945, and was placed in Slytherin House, a nod to his ancestor Salazar Slytherin himself. During summer breaks, he was forced to return to the Muggle orphanage, which he despised and dreaded more than any other place on earth.

Tom described the way he was seen as "poor, but brilliant, parentless, but so brave, a school Prefect, a model student."[3] This opinion was also shared by the professors, including Horace Slughorn, who was taken in by Tom's charisma and who taught him about Horcruxes. The sole exception to this was Albus Dumbledore, who was, at that time, Professor of Transfiguration. Dumbledore remained suspicious about Tom's true nature; Tom, in turn, despised and feared Dumbledore.[2]

Tom became obsessed with his heritage and began researching it with an insatiable hunger. He learned of his Slytherin ancestry, discovered the existence of the Chamber of Secrets under Hogwarts, and tamed the basilisk which dwelt within. As the Heir of Slytherin through his mother's family, Tom was able to open the Chamber Slytherin had left behind in order to "purge the school of all those who are unworthy to study magic" - in Tom and Slytherins's eyes, Muggle-borns.[3]

The basilisk injured many at Hogwarts in 1943. The last victim was a student named Myrtle, who was killed in the girls' bathroom when she saw the basilisk's yellow eyes. Hogwarts was to be closed, but Tom did not want to return to the orphanage. To keep the school from shutting down, he framed fellow student Rubeus Hagrid and his pet Acromantula, Aragog. Tom convinced then-Headmaster Armando Dippet that Aragog was the monster that had terrorised the school. Hagrid was expelled, and Tom received an engraved trophy for Special Services to the School.[3]

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, the very first of 7 Horcruxes hoping it would one day lead someone to finish Salazar Slytherin's "noble work."

While researching his heritage, Riddle focused solely on who his father was, thinking him to be the magic parent, as he felt his mother couldn't have been a witch if she had died. He searched for his father's name in the school trophy room, in the records of Hogwarts prefects and in records of wizarding history, but found nothing to suggest his father had even attended Hogwarts. It was around this time that Tom Marvolo Riddle gave himself the alias "Lord Voldemort," to spare himself of the reminder of his "filthy Muggle father."

First time

Tom Riddle creates his first Horcrux.

Tom Riddle: "Could I ask you something?"
Horace Slughorn: "Ask away m'boy, then, ask away..."
Tom Riddle: "Do you know anything about - about Horcruxes?"
— Tom Riddle and Horace Slughorn discussing Horcruxes in Slughorn's fake memory[src]

Little Hangleton

In the summer of 1943, Tom went to Little Hangleton to learn about his mother's family. While there, he met his uncle Morfin Gaunt, who thought that this stranger looked "mighty like that Muggle", Merope's husband, Tom Riddle Sr. Morfin Gaunt told Tom the story of his Muggle father, which infuriated Tom to the point of seeking revenge. Tom went to the Riddle home and murdered his father, grandfather, and grandmother with the Killing Curse, Avada Kedavra. He covered up his crimes by altering Morfin's memory, causing him to believe that he was the killer. When the Ministry of Magic investigated the crime, Morfin - who had previously served three years in Azkaban for using magic in front of and against Muggles - freely admitted to it and was sentenced to life imprisonment in Azkaban. Tom took the family signet ring from Morfin and wore it like a trophy at Hogwarts.[2]

During Tom's last year at Hogwarts, he was Head Boy and he received a medal for magical merit. He was one of the most brilliant students ever to attend Hogwarts. Shortly before graduating, Tom charmed the spirit of Helena Ravenclaw, more commonly known as the Grey Lady and the ghost of Ravenclaw House, into revealing the location of Rowena Ravenclaw's Diadem. Tom sought to transform this diadem into another Horcrux.[4]

After Hogwarts

After graduating, Tom asked Armando Dippet for a chance to teach Defence Against the Dark Arts, but was deemed too young. Tom then presumably traveled to the far-flung forest in Albania about which Helena Ravenclaw 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, to the disappointment and surprise of many. He set to persuading witches and wizards to part with their valuable magical heirlooms—a job at which he was very good.[2]

At this time, Tom befriended a wealthy, elderly witch named Hepzibah Smith. Hepzibah showed Tom her two most valuable treasures: Salazar Slytherin's Locket and Helga Hufflepuff's Cup. Tom killed Hepzibah to steal these objects and vanished without a trace. He covered his tracks well by implanting another false memory into an innocent bystander-Hokey, Hepzibah's house-elf. Hokey admitted to accidentally putting poison into Hepzibah's cocoa, which was believed, as Hokey was elderly herself. Meanwhile, Tom resigned his post at Borgin and Burkes and fled with the cup and locket, subsequently turning them into two more Horcruxes.[2]

Tom disappeared for many years. He slipped deeper into the Dark Arts, travelled extensively, consorted with disreputable people, and underwent many dangerous magical transformations. At some point, Tom appealed once more to the Headmaster of Hogwarts, who was then Albus Dumbledore, for the position of Professor of Defence Against the Dark Arts. His true desire was to learn Hogwarts' secrets and recruit followers. Dumbledore denied him the position, suspicious of his intentions. The position was thenceforth cursed by Tom Riddle; teachers only held the position for a year, afterwards suffering some terrible fate or humiliation that caused them to leave the position.[2]

Tom's visit to Hogwarts was not fruitless, however; he used the opportunity to hide Rowena Ravenclaw's Diadem in the Room of Requirement, where he believed it would never be found. He held onto the diadem for a decade before hiding it at Hogwarts.[4]

The Rise of the Dark Lord

In the 1970s, Lord Voldemort, as he was now exclusively called, had gathered a following of witches and wizards who called themselves, collectively, Death Eaters[5]. Some were supportive of his cause to dominate Muggles and Muggle-borns, others were greedy for power, and yet others joined the Dark Lord out of fear. Voldemort considered them more like servants than friends or family. They freely used the Unforgivable Curses and killed mercilessly and indiscriminately.

Lord Voldemort began taking advantage of the wizarding world's greatest weakness: the beings and creatures that they had outcast. The Dark Lord recruited giants, who had long ago been driven by wizards into the mountains, and werewolves, who were persecuted by most witches and wizards. Many feared the goblins would also join him, as they were restricted from wand use, but it never happened. Aurors were authorized to use Unforgivable Curses on Death Eaters without warning, and suspects were sometimes handed over to the Dementors without a Wizengamot trial. Many innocent people were locked away. For many years after, people were even afraid to speak his name, and he was referred to as "You-Know-Who" or "He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named."

Under the staunch protection of Albus Dumbledore, the only person Lord Voldemort truly feared, Hogwarts remained a safe place of learning. The Order of the Phoenix was created by Dumbledore at this time to fight against Voldemort.[6]

First Fall from Power

At the height of his power in 1979, a prophecy was given by Sybill Trelawney to Albus Dumbledore which predicted the fall of the Dark Lord. This prophecy was given in the Hog's Head Inn during an interview for the position of Professor of Divination.[6]

"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 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..."
Sybill Trelawney[src]

Voldemort murders Lily Potter—his biggest mistake.

This prophecy was overheard by Death Eater and informant Severus Snape.[2] According to Dumbledore, Snape only heard half of the prophecy and was then thrown out by the barman, Aberforth Dumbledore. He relayed to Lord Voldemort what he had heard, not realising that he missed an important part of the message.[6]

Trelawney's description of the night's events was a bit different however, as she stated that after feeling "ill", Aberforth burst into the room with Severus Snape. This is in contrast with Dumbledore's description of events. In any case, Voldemort was threatened, and sprang into action to prevent the fulfillment of the prophecy.

There were, at the time, two babies to whom the prophecy could refer - Harry Potter, the half-blood son of James and Lily Potter; and Neville Longbottom, the pure-blood son of Alice and Frank Longbottom. Both families had sought to thwart Voldemort three times, and both families were members of the Order of the Phoenix. Both children in question were born at the end of the seventh month, July. Voldemort chose to target Harry instead of Neville; Dumbledore suspected this was because Harry shared a similar family heritage with Voldemort, both of them being half-bloods.[6]

The Potters went into hiding, but were betrayed by their friend and Secret-Keeper, Peter Pettigrew.[7] Voldemort murdered James and Lily, but when he used the Killing Curse on Harry, it rebounded and destroyed his powers. This happened because Lily sacrificed herself to protect her son, creating a powerful defence of ancient magic around Harry which protected him for many years.[8]

After Lord Voldemort's first fall from power, the Death Eaters dispersed and attempted to return to normal life. Many claimed they had been under the Imperius Curse, while others stayed true to their master and continued his work, most notably the Lestranges, who were eventually taken into custody, convicted at a trial, and imprisoned in Azkaban.[9]

Missing Years

"I was ripped from my body, less than spirit, less than the meanest ghost, but still, I was alive."
—Lord Voldemort[src]

Lord Voldemort lost his physical form and was weak and powerless, but he remained alive. The Horcruxes he had created kept his soul bound to the physical world.[2] He retreated to the forests of Albania, where he had previously found his fifth Horcrux, The Lost Diadem of Ravenclaw, and waited for his faithful Death Eaters to find him, but many of them now believed him dead, and those still faithful to him were either dead or in Azkaban. He gained physical form by inhabiting snakes, which never lived long.[8]

Search for the Philosopher's Stone

"There is no good and evil, there is only power...and those too weak to seek it."
—Voldemort speaking through Quirrell[src]

In 1991, Voldemort formed a plan to regain his body. Hogwarts Professor Quirinus Quirrell had made a voyage to Albania, where his foolish and gullible mind was vulnerable to Voldemort. He latched onto Quirrell's body and came back to Hogwarts with him. Voldemort ordered Quirrell to drink the blood of unicorns in the Forbidden Forest so he could gain power. He ordered Quirrell to steal Nicolas Flamel's greatest alchemical compound, the Philosopher's Stone, from a vault in Gringotts Wizarding Bank so he could make the Elixir of Life. Voldemort discovered the Stone had been removed earlier that same day, and through Quirrell's connections at Hogwarts, learned it was hidden at the school.[8]

Voldemort drinking blood

Voldemort drinking Unicorn blood in the Forbidden Forest.

The same year that Voldemort set to the task of stealing the Philosopher's Stone, Harry Potter began his first year at Hogwarts.

There were many barriers protecting the Stone. Quirrell had to trick Rubeus Hagrid, who was then the Hogwarts Gamekeeper, into telling him how to get past the three-headed dog Fluffy. To do this, he enticed Hagrid into a card game with the wager of a dragon egg.[8]

Severus Snape, who had switched sides near the end of the First Wizarding War and become professor of Potions, was suspicious of Quirrell and hounded him relentlessly. When Quirrell released a troll in the Hogwarts dungeons as a distraction, Snape blocked him off.[8] Voldemort was not to be stopped, however, and ordered Quirrell to send a fake letter to Dumbledore, asking him to go to the Ministry of Magic. Voldemort moved forward with his goal, moving through the security barriers to the Mirror of Erised. Quirrell saw himself presenting the stone to his master, but could not figure out how to get it. It was only when Harry Potter arrived, believing he was protecting the Stone from Severus Snape, that Voldemort saw a way to get it. Dumbledore would later say, "Only those who wanted to find the stone, but not use it, could get it from the mirror." Voldemort figured this out, and Quirrell attacked Harry. When he touched Harry, however, his hands blistered and burned. Harry placed his hands on Quirrell's face, severely injuring and eventually killing him. Lord Voldemort's soul fled, once more without a body.[8]

Riddle soul

Voldemort's mangled soul.

Re-opening the Chamber of Secrets

Lord Voldemort returned to the Albanian forest, weaker than ever. He had to wait yet again for someone to help him.

Sometime before 1992, Lucius Malfoy came into possession of Tom Riddle's Diary. This was the self-same diary created by Tom Marvolo Riddle as a boy in the 1940s. Malfoy planted the diary on eleven-year-old Ginny Weasley, who brought it to Hogwarts. She began writing in it, and found that a sixteen-year-old Tom Riddle was answering. She found comfort in the diary, not knowing she was being manipulated. The diary slowly drained the life and energy from Ginny, transferring it to itself. Under the diary's control, Ginny re-opened the Chamber of Secrets and released the basilisk, which petrified several students. While possessed, she also killed Hagrid's roosters and wrote threatening messages on the school corridors in rooster blood. Ginny became upset and confused, knowing that the diary was doing something to her, and tried to flush it down the toilet in Moaning Myrtle's bathroom. Harry Potter and Ron Weasley accidentally stumbled upon it, and Harry began communicating with the diary.[3]

Harry: "You. You're the Heir of Slytherin. You're Voldemort."
Tom Riddle: "Surely you didn't think I was going to keep my filthy Muggle father's name? No. I fashioned myself a new name, a name I knew wizards everywhere would one day fear to speak, when I became the greatest sorcerer in the world!"
Harry: "Albus Dumbledore is the greatest sorcerer in the world!"
Tom Riddle: "Dumbledore's been driven out of this castle by the mere memory of me!"
— Tom Riddle and Harry Potter in the Chamber of Secrets[src]

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 written in the diary, or what she had done while under its influence. When Voldemort was ready to take his physical form from Ginny's life, the diary lured her into the Chamber of Secrets. Harry found Ginny in time and destroyed the basilisk with Godric Gryffindor's Sword. Fawkes also arrived, summoned by Harry's loyalty to Dumbledore. Harry used the basilisk's fang to stab the diary, thinking it would destroy its power.[3] Not only was the diary destroyed, but Harry also unknowingly destroyed one of Voldemort's Horcruxes.[2]

Tom Riddle memory

Sixteen year-old Tom Riddle at the time he opened the Chamber of Secrets.

Return to Power

Voldemort was still very weak when, in 1994, his servant Peter Pettigrew, a.k.a. Wormtail, was milking venom from Nagini the snake to sustain him. Pettigrew, who had faked his death years earlier and hid from authorities in his Animagus form of a rat, had returned to his master and was helping him regain a physical body. Together, they built a rudimentary body that Voldemort used for travel and performing magic.[9]

Pettigrew lured Ministry official Bertha Jorkins to Lord Voldemort in his forest hideout in Albania. He used magic to glean information about the Triwizard Tournament from Jorkins. Before killing her, Voldemort was surprised to find that someone else had put a Memory Charm on her and interrogated her to find the whereabouts of a loyal Death Eater, Barty Crouch Jr., who had been imprisoned in Azkaban and was thought to be dead. Voldemort uncovered that Barty Crouch Sr. was concealing his son at his home after helping him escape prison. Jorkins had stumbled upon Barty Jr. at his house, and Crouch Sr. placed a Memory Charm on her so that she would not report it.[9]

Returning to the Riddle House in Little Hangleton, the site of his very first murder, Voldemort also killed Riddle groundskeeper Frank Bryce for overhearing their plan to crash the Triwizard Tournament. They went to the Crouch estate where Voldemort placed Crouch Sr. under the Imperius Curse and freed Crouch Jr..[9]

Voldemort snarl

Lord Voldemort returned to power

Voldemort ordered Crouch Jr. to capture Alastor Moody, the new Defence Against the Dark Arts Professor at Hogwarts. Crouch Jr. and Peter Pettigrew did so, and created Polyjuice Potion which Crouch Jr. used to impersonate Moody for the entire school year. He influenced the Tournament for months, ensuring that Harry would be the one to get to the Triwizard Cup first which, unbeknownst to anyone, was a Portkey. Harry, in the spirit of sportsmanship, requested Cedric Diggory to tie with him for the win. When they both touched the Portkey, they were transported to a cemetery in Little Hangleton where Wormtail and Voldemort were waiting. Pettigrew murdered Cedric with the Killing Curse and used Harry's blood in a ritual for his master's rebirth.[9]

"Bone of the father, unknowingly given, you will renew your son. Flesh of the servant, willingly given, you will revive your master. Blood of the enemy, forcibly taken, you will resurrect your foe."
Peter Pettigrew[src]

Voldemort regained his new body, identical to his old one and summoned his Death Eaters. Those who were perhaps most loyal to him, save for those who willingly went to Azkaban in his name, appeared. Voldemort mocked and humiliated Harry, and attempted to kill him, but their twin-core wands became locked in Priori Incantatem.[9]

People who had been killed by Voldemort's wand came out as spectral visions. First Cedric Diggory, then Frank Bryce, followed by Bertha Jorkins, and James and Lily Potter. They encouraged Harry, while distracting Voldemort. Harry pulled away and had enough time to grab Cedric's body and the Triwizard Cup to return to the Hogwarts grounds. Voldemort now had some of his followers, but Barty Crouch Jr. had been discovered, and was subjected to the Dementor's Kiss before he could be tried before the Wizengamot.[9] Thus, the only knowledge of Voldemort's return was Harry's word, which was vigorously disputed by the Ministry. Voldemort was able to grow in power in secret.[6] However, there appear to be other ways to prove Voldemort's return, Harry could extract his memory of the graveyard into a Pensieve, The Ministry could subject Harry to Veritaserum and ask him, or they could perform Legilimency on him. The reason as to why none of this is even mentioned is unclear, but most likely the ministry (Cornelius Fudge in particular) didn't want to be proven wrong. The reason for this is because otherwise that means the horror from the first attempt will happen again and this time be unstoppable.

Battle for the Prophecy

Lord Voldemort: "You are so weak, Harry Potter..."
Harry Potter: "You're the weak one! You've never known love, or friendship. And I feel sorry for you."
— Voldemort and Harry discussing the concept of being weak [src]

In 1995, Dumbledore reconvened the Order of the Phoenix once more, using Sirius Black's family home at 12 Grimmauld Place as headquarters. Harry Potter, Hermione Granger and Ron Weasley set up a similar organization at Hogwarts called Dumbledore's Army, which was originally created to thwart the Ministry's meddling at the school under Dolores Umbridge.[6] was unable to get into the Department of Mysteries. His next attempt was to use the Imperius Curse on an Unspeakable named Broderick Bode. He was ordered to retrieve the prophecy, but was seriously injured in the process and was put into a permanent ward at St Mungo's. From this, Voldemort learned that the only people who could retrieve a prophecy are the people who are included in the prophecy. He could not risk going into the Ministry himself, so he used a telepathic link through Harry Potter's scar to cause him to go there instead.[6]


Lord Voldemort during the Battle at the Department of Mysteries.

Voldemort was now after the aforementioned prophecy housed in the Department of Mysteries, wanting to hear the whole of it. At this time, many of Voldemort's most loyal Death Eaters, such as Bellatrix Lestrange, escaped from Azkaban and returned to his side.[6]

Voldemort's first attempt at securing the prophecy was to have Lucius Malfoy put Order member Sturgis Podmore under the Imperius Curse and send him to take the prophecy. However, Members of Dumbledore's Army, including Harry, Hermione, Ron, Luna Lovegood, Ginny and Neville Longbottom went to the Department of Mysteries seeking to rescue Sirius Black, who they believed to be trapped there. Harry wound up retrieving the prophecy from its shelf. At once, Death Eaters appeared, demanding Harry hand over the prophecy. The six D.A. members fought back, and during the battle that ensued, the prophecy was destroyed. Voldemort was forced to come to the Ministry, but upon learning of its destruction he tried to kill Harry.[6]

Albus Dumbledore: "It was foolish of you to come here tonight, Tom. The Aurors are on their way."
Lord Voldemort: "By which time I should be gone, and you shall be dead."
— Dumbledore and Voldemort before the Duel in the Ministry Atrium[src]

His attempt was foiled by Albus Dumbledore, and a fantastic duel ensued. The duel came to a draw when Voldemort attempted to possess Harry instead, hoping Dumbledore would kill Harry in an attempt to destroy him at last, but Harry's heart, full of grief over the loss of his godfather Sirius, was able to force Voldemort out of his mind. Voldemort fled when Minister for Magic Cornelius Fudge and other Ministry officials arrived. Voldemort's cover was blown and many of his Death Eaters, including Lucius, were taken into custody and sent to Azkaban.[6]

Open War

You will lose everything...

Voldemort, after being forced out of Harry's mind.

Harry: "You're the weak one. And you'll never know love, or friendship....and I feel sorry for you."
Voldemort: "You're a fool, Harry Potter. And you will lose...everything."
Harry Potter and Lord Voldemort[src]

With Voldemort no longer needing to keep his actions silent, the Second Wizarding War had begun. The Dementors left Azkaban to side with the Dark Lord, who could offer them more scope for their powers. As a result, there were many attacks by the monsters. Mass Muggle killings, as well as the destruction of bridges, were rampant. What was claimed to be a hurricane to the Muggle world was in fact a rampage by the giants, whom Voldemort had drawn into allegiance. Voldemort himself dueled and killed Amelia Bones, the head of the Department of Magical Law Enforcement, who was described as having put up a good fight against him and as one of the greatest witches of the age.[2]

In 1996, Draco Malfoy was inducted as a Death Eater, as Voldemort required a spy within Hogwarts. He ordered Draco to kill Albus Dumbledore, for he wished to punish Lucius Malfoy for his failings by giving his son a task he could not do. If Draco failed, he would meet terrible consequences. However, Draco was able to sneak a group of Death Eaters into Hogwarts through a pair of Vanishing Cabinets that connected Borgin and Burke's with the Room of Requirement. The first Battle of Hogwarts ensued.[2]

Voldemort's plans were carried out when Severus Snape used the Killing Curse on Albus Dumbledore. Although the Death Eaters fled Hogwarts, the intrusion of Hogwarts Castle signified that there was no longer a single place safe from the Dark Lord.[2]

Voldemort then took over Malfoy Manor as his headquarters. During the summer of 1997, he captured the Hogwarts Professor of Muggle Studies, Charity Burbage, and killed her before feeding her to Nagini. He also imprisoned and interrogated the kidnapped wandmaker, Ollivander, about why his wand could not duel against Harry Potter's wand. Ollivander revealed that their wands shared the same core, and would not work properly against each other. This came as a great relief to Voldemort, who worried that Harry had escaped from him in the graveyard by superior skill. Ollivander told Voldemort that he merely needed another's wand, and so he took Lucius Malfoy's.[4]

"I have been careless, and so have been thwarted by luck and chance, those wreckers of all but the best-laid plans. But I know better now. I understand those things that I did not understand before. I must be the one to kill Harry Potter, and I shall be."
—Lord Voldemort to his Death Eaters in 1997[src]

When Harry Potter left 4 Privet Drive for the final time, Voldemort flew to the scene with his Death Eaters to fight the Order of the Phoenix. In the ensuing battle, Voldemort murdered Alastor Moody. When he attempted to attack Harry, Harry's wand reacted in a bizarre way, releasing golden fire at him and destroying Malfoy's wand. Before Voldemort could react, Harry reached the protection of the home of Ted and Andromeda Tonks, and Voldemort was forced to retreat.[4]

Nagini voldemort

Voldemort and Nagini.

Voldemort returned to his headquarters at Malfoy Manor and tortured Ollivander with the Cruciatus Curse. Ollivander told him truthfully that never in wandlore has he ever heard of such thing happening between two wands. Voldemort ordered Ollivander to tell him everything he knew about legendary wand known as the Elder Wand, otherwise known as the Deathstick or the Wand of Destiny.[4]

Ministry Take-Over

"The Ministry has fallen. Scrimgeour is dead. They are coming."
—Kingsley Shacklebolt warning the Order of the Phoenix about the Fall of the Ministry of Magic in 1997[src]

Shortly after this, the Ministry of Magic was compromised and fell to the power of Voldemort when Minister Rufus Scrimgeour was murdered. News of this came to the Order of the Phoenix during the wedding of Bill Weasley and Fleur Delacour at the Burrow. Voldemort established a totalitarian police state, with Pius Thicknesse, under the Imperius Curse, serving as a puppet Minister for Magic and Death Eater Yaxley as the head of the Department of Magical Law Enforcement. The Muggle-Born Registration Commission was created to round up Muggle-borns and imprison them in Azkaban.[4]


Voldemort while inside Harry's body

In the meantime, Voldemort traveled to Germany to seek out the acclaimed wandmaker Gregorovitch and obtain the Elder Wand. Eventually, after murdering people who got in his way, Voldemort found him, but was informed that the Wand had been stolen. Voldemort performed Legilimency on Gregorovich and saw the memory of the young blond boy who stole the Wand. Voldemort demanded to know the identity of the thief, but when Gregorovich didn't know it, Voldemort killed him.[4]

Shortly after this, Nagini summoned Voldemort to Godric's Hollow, where Harry and Hermione were investigating the circumstances around the Potters' deaths. Harry and Hermione barely managed to escape. However, Voldemort found a picture of the aforementioned blond boy at the home of Bathilda Bagshot; this boy turned out to be none other than the Dark Wizard Gellert Grindelwald, whom Albus Dumbledore defeated in the 1940s.[4]

Voldemort broke into the prison Nurmengard, where Grindelwald was being held, and demanded to know the location of the Elder Wand. Grindelwald baffled Voldemort by being completely unafraid of him and saying that he welcomed death.

"Kill me then, Voldemort!... That wand will never, ever be yours!"
—Grindelwald and Voldemort confronting in Nurmengard[src]

However, Voldemort deduced that Dumbledore, who had defeated Grindelwald, had the Wand. He killed Grindelwald, and stole the Elder Wand from Dumbledore's tomb.[4]

Final Battle

Following this, Voldemort was informed by several goblins from Gringotts that Harry and his friends had successfully robbed the Lestrange's vault. This caused Voldemort to panic, and when he was informed that a small golden cup had been stolen, he was enraged. He realized at that moment that Harry was hunting his horcruxes, but he couldn't figure out how he had discovered his secret when he never told anyone (In truth, Dumbledore and Harry had worked out, from studying Voldemort's past that Voldemort had created horcruxes, and also what the horcruxes were). Voldemort listed all the locations of his horcruxes in his mind, unaware that Harry was connected to his mind at the time, and unwittingly revealed that his last horcrux was at Hogwarts.[4]

Following these revelations, Voldemort went to check out the Gaunt Shack and the Cave, returned to Hogwarts. By the time he got there, the residents had already ousted the Death Eaters teaching there and had begun preparing a defence against him. He rounded up his entire army of Death Eaters, giants, Dementors and Acromantula, and requested the Hogwarts community hand over Harry Potter. When, an hour later, they had not done as he had ordered, Voldemort commanded his army to fight the Aurors, professors, and students who were still in the castle. Voldemort himself was not present at the battle; he was investigating why the Elder Wand did not work any differently from his old wand. He came to the conclusion that it needed to accept him as a master, and ordered Nagini to murder Severus Snape, believing this would solve his problems. [4]

"If you continue to resist me, you will all die, one by one. I do not wish this to happen. Every drop of magical blood spilled is a loss and a waste... I command my forces to retreat immediately. You have one hour... I speak now, Harry Potter, directly to you... I shall wait for one hour in the Forbidden Forest. If, at the end of that hour, you have not come to me, have not given yourself up, then battle recommences. This time, I shall enter the fray myself, Harry Potter, and I shall find you, and I shall punish every last man, woman, and child who has tried to conceal you from me. One hour."
—Voldemort announcing the one-hour ceasefire during the Battle of Hogwarts[src]

Voldemort then called 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, the scar on his forehead, which was formed when Voldemort failed to kill him in 1981. When Harry met Voldemort, Voldemort used the Killing Curse on him almost immediately, but only destroyed the Horcrux, rendering his scar "normal". What was not revealed to Voldemort was that when he used Harry's blood three years prior to gain himself a new body, the blood passed Harry's mother's protection to Voldemort and anchored Harry to the living world through Voldemort. Harry was merely knocked to the ground and feigned death. Voldemort, as a result of destroying his soul shard in Harry, was also knocked out.[4]

Voldemort marched to Hogwarts, proclaiming the death of Harry Potter and his victory. Neville Longbottom, instead of surrendering, charged at Voldemort. After Neville refused to join him, Voldemort placed a Full Body-Bind Curse and the Sorting Hat on him and set the hat on fire to make an example of him. But at that moment, reinforcements for those resisting him arrived. Neville was able to throw off the curse and pulled the sword of Gryffindor from the Hat, and used it to decapitate Nagini, destroying the last remaining Horcrux. Enraged, Voldemort attempted to kill Neville, but Harry, now beneath his Invisibility Cloak interfered and cast a Shield Charm between them.[4]


Bellatrix and Voldemort

During the second round of the Battle of Hogwarts, Voldemort tried to strike down everyone within his reach and his weakened army forced its way into Hogwarts. In the Great Hall, his army was gradually cut down as Voldemort fought Horace Slughorn, Minerva McGonagall and Kingsley Shacklebolt all at once. When Bellatrix Lestrange, his last, best lieutenant, was killed by Molly Weasley, Voldemort turned his wand on her in rage. At that time, Harry revealed himself to be alive by casting a Shield Charm to protect her, and the pair faced each other in the Great Hall.[4]

Harry Potter: "There are no more Horcruxes. It's just you and me. Neither can live while the other survives, and one of us is about to leave for good. . . ."
Voldemort: "One of us? You think it will be you, do you, the boy who has survived by accident, and because Dumbledore was pulling the strings?"
Harry Potter: "...You won't be killing anyone else tonight. You won't be able to kill any of them ever again."
— The final confrontation between Lord Voldemort and Harry Potter[src]
Here, Harry mentions that by willingly sacrificing himself to Voldemort, he has protected everyone he loves in Hogwarts with the same magic his mother created when she died for him. Whether or not this is the case is never actually proven, although it could explain why no-one is killed by Voldemort after his triumphant parade from the forbidden forest up to this point - an extremely unlikely factor had that protective magic not been in place.

Harry tried to explain to Voldemort that he had magic Voldemort did not have, and a weapon more powerful than his, in addition to warning Voldemort of the fate that lay in store for him if he was unwilling to feel remorse for his actions. Goading him by using his birth name, Harry told him that Snape's loyalty was with Dumbledore all along, that Dumbledore's death was planned, and that Snape was not the master of the Elder Wand; Draco Malfoy was.[4]


Voldemort during his final battle at Hogwarts.

Originally shocked, Voldemort remained unworried because Harry didn't have his original wand and told Harry he would kill him and then dispose of Draco. But Harry revealed that he had already overpowered Draco, so the Elder Wand was now rightfully his. Refusing to believe this, Voldemort fired the Killing Curse at Harry, while Harry countered with his "trademark" spell of Expelliarmus. The Elder Wand refused to kill its true master, and the spell rebounded off Harry's spell, killing Tom Marvolo Riddle once and for all.[4] Tom Riddle's Soul is now trapped in limbo, unable to return as a ghost.

Wizarding and Magical Talents, Gifts, and Powers

Voldemort King&#039;s Cross

Voldmeort demonstrating his power as a Legilimens.

Maic Mastery: Voldemort shows himself capable of holding his own well even against an Elder Wand-wielding Albus Dumbledore. Voldemort claims he has experimented and pushed the boundaries of magic farther than they had ever been pushed. Albus Dumbledore states that Voldemort's knowledge of magic is more extensive than any wizard alive, and that even Dumbledore's most powerful protective spells and charms would not likely be sufficient if Voldemort returned to full power. In the films Voldemort has shown the ability to contain spells and release them in a blast that resembles a shockwave.

Young Tom Marvolo Riddle utilized magic without the use of a wand or even knowing the very existence of magic itself. He had a power to communicate with and control animals and inflict harm on those who oppose or annoy him.[2]


Voldemort demonstrates his power in the Ministry of Magic.

Mastery of Dark Magic: Lord Voldemort along with his mastery of magic in general was the most powerful practitioner of the dark arts in the wizarding world to date. Besides developing dark spells, hexes, charms, and jinxes he has a masterful knowledge of the most unknown and complex magic capable of a dark wizard. Voldemort was a Masterful practitioner of all three Unforgivable Curses. He had a special affinity for the killing curse, having murdered enough people to create an entire army of Inferi.

Telekinesis: Lord Voldemort could enchant objects to travel floating in the air to wherever he wished and move things with his mind. He displayed this ability from even when he was a child in the orphanage.[2]

Legilimency: Tom Riddle is also known as one of the greatest Legilimens in the world, allowing him to delve and peer deep into the minds of others, seeing their deepest thoughts. Voldemort could almost always tell when someone was lying, and was able to use Legilimency to place visions in his victims' minds, such as the one he sent to Harry Potter in 1996.[6] The most remarkable part about this skill was that he seemed to be working on it while he was still a child in the orphanage (as demonstrated when he commanded Dumbledore to stop lying to him). One of the few people who were skilled enough to shield themselves from this, via Occlumency, was Severus Snape.[4]

Occlumency: A highly accomplished Occlumens, Voldemort was thus to shield his own mind from penetration. However, in 1997, he lost control, allowing Harry to see occasionally through his eyes and hear his thoughts.[4]

Flight: Voldemort can fly without support, defying the law of magic that states only objects can fly through use of a flying charm. Voldemort first exhibits the ability to fly while in pursuit of Harry Potter over Little Whinging.[4] However, this could simply have been achieved by charming his clothes. Another possiblity is that he transfigured his body partially into a light substance, as he is described as trailing smoke.

Amplified Voice: Lord Voldemort has the ability to speak over a vast area, sounding (to the recipients) as though he were standing next to them. He does this during the Battle of Hogwarts when he speaks to Hogwarts and the surrounding area of Hogsmeade. This spell has been used by other wizards, but never with such powerful results.[4]

Parselmouth: Voldemort is a Parselmouth, a trait he inherited from his ancestor, Salazar Slytherin.[3] It seems that most of his Gaunt ancestors inherited this highly unusual trait; such traits are commonly passed down through families through inbreeding, a practice employed by the Gaunt family.[2]

Horcruxes: Voldemort is the only wizard explicitly mentioned as having created more than one Horcrux, and thus came closer to becoming truly immortal than any other wizard. These Horcruxes are Salazar Slytherin's locket, Helga Hufflepuff's cup, Nagini, Gaunt ring, Riddle Diary, Ravenclaw's diadem, and Harry Potter himself. [2] (Nicolas Flamel was not truly immortal, for after he stopped drinking his Elixir of Life, he died).[8]

Transfiguration Master: Voldemort transfigured Dumbledore's fire-rope into a black snake during the Battle of the Department of Mysteries.[6] He created an artificial, silver forearm and hand for Peter Pettigrew.[9] What's more, he transformed the corpse of Bathilda Bagshot's into a disguise for his snake, Nagini.[4]

Voldy wand

Voldemort's wand.

Morsmordre: The spell Morsmordre, which summons the Dark Mark in the sky, was of Voldemort's own creation. He and his followers used it to summon a floating, green Dark Mark, usually over the houses of their victims.[9]

Inferi Creation and Control:Voldemort is the only wizard mentioned to have the ability to create and control Inferi, though it is implied that other Dark Wizards, such as Gellert Grindelwald, have used or intended to use them.


The Inferi he created attempting to attack Dumbledore and Harry Potter.

Power of Possession: Voldemort has the power to possess any living creature having complete control over their actions. Once the possession is done the victims will have no knowledge of what happened.

Wandless magic: Aside from Albus Dumbledore, Tom was the only known wizard to have performed a spell wandlessly in the Battle of the Department of Mysteries, where he disarmed Harry Potter with a simple wave of his arm.


"There is nothing worse than death, Dumbledore!"
—Voldemort to Albus Dumbledore[src]

Rowling described Voldemort as "the most evil wizard for hundreds and hundreds of years".[10] She elaborated that he is a "raging psychopath, devoid of the normal human responses to other people's suffering".[11] He feels no desire or need for human companionship or friendship, and is unable to comprehend the idea of love or affection for another. He believes he is superior to everyone around him, to the point that he frequently refers to himself in the third-person as "Lord Voldemort." Rowling alluded to this saying that Voldemort is "incredibly power hungry. Racist, really".[12] Rowling has also stated that if Voldemort looked into the Mirror of Erised, he would see "Himself, all-powerful and eternal. That's what he wants."[13]

Rowling also stated that the fact that Voldemort is conceived under the love potion Amortentia — administered by the witch Merope Gaunt to the Muggle Tom Riddle — is related to his inability to understand love; it is "a symbolic way of showing that he came from a loveless union – but of course, everything would have changed if Merope had survived and raised him herself and loved him. The enchantment under which Tom Riddle fathered Voldemort is important because it shows coercion, and there can’t be many more prejudicial ways to enter the world than as the result of such a union".[14]

Like most archetypal villains(particularly the evil genius archetype) ,Voldemort's arrogance inevitably leads to his downfall. He also suffers from a pathological fear of death, which he regards as a shameful and ignominious human weakness. According to Rowling, his Boggart would be his own corpse.[15] Rowling also said that the real difference between Harry and Voldemort is that Harry accepts that he must die, and thus Harry is in the end (arguably) stronger than his nemesis.[14]

Voldemort is shown to be highly intelligent and charismatic, able to inspire many powerful and influential wizards to follow him as his loyal Death Eaters. He also possesses a dry, cynical sense of humor, usually laughing at the expense of others but also capable of laughing at himself despite his usually narcissistic demeanor.

It is possible that Voldemort's inability to empathize, and his psychopathic nature, is also a result of the instability of his Gaunt heritage, as violence and mistrust were key personalities in his relatives. His arrogance and narcissistic side may have came from his father, a wealthy Muggle who was always snobbish and prideful.



Voldemort rearranging the letters of his name.

"They do not call me 'Tom' anymore," he said. "These days, I am known as —"
—Lord Voldemort[src]

Voldemort was born Tom Marvolo Riddle, a name he hated, as it came from his Muggle father. He decided to forge his own name, hoping to create a terrifying legacy of his own. He then created the name "Voldemort". At first, this name was used to refer to him or to address him. Later, he became so feared in the wizarding community that nearly everyone referred to him only as "You-Know-Who", "He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named", or "The Dark Lord". Fudge even wrote it to the Muggle prime minister rather than saying it. According to Death Eaters, not pronouncing his name is a mark of respect. On Potterwatch, he was called "Chief Death Eater."

The name "Tom Marvolo Riddle" is an anagram to "I am Lord Voldemort", which is probably where Riddle got the inspiration for the name.

Albus Dumbledore was one of the few who dared refer to him as "Voldemort," although he preferred to use the name "Tom", using the former in conversation, and the latter when addressing Voldemort himself. In ignoring the name Voldemort, Dumbledore disallowed him the intimidation he sought while appealing to what little remained of his former student deep within Voldemort.

After the coup at the Ministry in 1997, the Taboo curse was placed on the name "Voldemort"; speaking the name would summon Death Eaters, Ministry officials, or Snatchers via Apparation. This was used to find those who opposed Voldemort's rule, as only they would dare speak the name. This was how Harry, Ron and Hermione were found at Tottenham Court Road and before being brought to Malfoy Manor. Also, Kingsley Shacklebolt barely escaped Death Eaters when he spoke it.[4]

Possible Etymology

  • Although J. K. Rowling has never quite explained the origins of the name "Voldemort", there are some possible theories. "Mort", or "mortum" is the Latin word for death(which has evolved in many Romance languages as "muerte" or "morte",and the English word "murder" indeed has its origins in the word "mort"). Therefore, while not necessarily true, the possible meaning of the word "Voldemort" may be either "representative of death" or "embassador of death". Another possible etymology is the Proto-Germanic word "evol" (also "yfel", "yfol", "yvol, or "eyvfold", also, the English word "evil" has its roots there), which means "bad" or "evil", and the Arabic word "demuhrt" which means "wizard" or more specifically "dark wizard". Another etymology is the Old Russian word "vuldimortdek", which simply means "dark wizard". Yet, the most accurate etymology of Voldemort would be the French expression "volee de mort" which literally means "flight of death". Or even more accurate, the exact Catalan expression "vol de mort", meaning also "flight of death".
  • "Tom" is diminutive of the name "Thomas" which means infidel or unfaithful, It was used as a formal male given name. It also means "twin."
  • Marvolo implies "marvelous," but also contains the Latin root "volo" meaning "I wish, want, will, ordain, suppose, maintain that, be willing, to mean, signify, or denote." "Volo" also means "to fly, speed, or move rapidly." Tom Riddle can be seen as a character who wants to achieve greatness very quickly. Perhaps from Shakespeare's Twelfth Night character Malviolo. He was a Puritan who could not have fun and sought to stop the other servants from enjoying themselves. He is "sick with self love" and dreams of getting power. He thinks he is better than the others because he believes he is "pure." He is constantly the subject of practical jokes. It is here where the quote "Some are born great, some acheive greatness, and some have greatness thrust upon them" comes from. At the end of the play, he swears revenge on the lot of them.
  • A "riddle" is "a form of word puzzle designed to test someone's ingenuity in arriving at its solution." Riddles were used as a way to both puzzle the audience and teach them to understand poetic language.



"You think I was going to use my filthy Muggle father's name forever? I, in whose veins runs the blood of Salazar Slytherin himself, through my mother's side? I, keep the name of a foul, common Muggle, who abandoned me even before I was born, just because he found out his wife was a witch? No, Harry. I fashioned myself a new name, a name I knew wizards everywhere would one day fear to speak, when I had become the greatest sorcerer in the world!"
Tom Riddle to Harry Potter showing that he was angry to his muggle father.[src]

Tom Riddle grew up in a Muggle orphanage, not knowing any members of his family. His mother, Merope Gaunt, died shortly after giving birth, not even attempting to use magic to save herself in order to raise her child out of depression over her husband abandoning her. Riddle’s father also showed indifference towards his son, as he left his wife while she was pregnant. The two met face-to-face in 1943, when Riddle killed his father and paternal grandparents. Riddle was disgusted by his Muggle relatives, and took on the alias Lord Voldemort partly out of a desire to be rid of his “filthy Muggle father’s name”.

Despite his maternal side of his family being direct descendants of the great Salazar Slytherin, Tom showed disappointment when he saw his uncle Morfin lived in a deplorable state, and was not above framing him for murder and stealing his prized heirloom ring. He also showed initial disgust of his mother, who he thought was a Muggle for unable to survive. However, when he discovered the truth, he killed his own father only to avenge himself, and not his mother.

The only member of his bloodline that Voldemort respects is Salazar Slytherin. Throughout his life, he kept referring his ancestor as "noble", proudly showed his connections to the ancient wizard and full-heatedly support his ideals of blood supremacy. During the near end of the final battle, Voldemort expressed that Hogwarts would no longer need sorting, and Slytherin's emblem, shield and color would suffice, thus attempting to change the historical school that he loved so much in favor of his idol.

Albus Dumbledore


Dumbledore proves to Tom that he is a wizard.

Tom Riddle met Albus Dumbledore at the age of 11, when the professor came to invite him to attend Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. Although initially suspicious of Dumbledore, he was soon awed by his demonstration of magic, which pleased Tom, as it confirmed the suspicions he had long had about being “special”. The boy disturbed Dumbledore, however, when he admitted to being able to hurt people who angered him and to talk to snakes. Even as Tom became a popular student among his peers and professors, Dumbledore remained wary of him. When Riddle, now known as Voldemort, returned to Hogwarts years after graduating to request the Defence Against the Dark Arts position from Dumbledore, now Headmaster, Dumbledore turned him down.

Voldemort: "But nothing I have seen in the world has supported your famous pronouncements that love is more powerful than my kind of magic, Dumbledore."
Dumbledore: "Perhaps you have been looking in the wrong places...,"
Voldemort: "Well, then, what better place to start my fresh researches than here, at Hogwarts? Will you let me return? Will you let me share my knowledge with your students?"
— Voldemort to Albus Dumbledore requesting for the Defence Against the Dark Arts post[src]

Voldemort despised Dumbledore, but he was also the only person he ever feared. In turn, Dumbledore refused to be intimidated by the Dark Lord, referring to him as Voldemort to others and as Tom in conversation, a subtle but steadfast refusal to allow Voldemort to dictate the terms of their relationship and a trait that would later be inherited by Harry Potter. Over the years, he learned about Voldemort’s past, taught Harry Potter about it, and led the efforts against him in the First and Second Wizarding Wars.

Harry Potter

Priori Incantatem

Voldemort and Harry's wands create the Priori Incantatem.

Dumbledore: "You can speak Parseltongue, Harry, because Lord Voldemort ...who is the last remaining ancestor of Salazar Slytherin ...can speak Parseltongue. Unless I'm much mistaken, he transferred some of his own powers to you the night he gave you that scar. Not something he intended to do, I'm sure..."
Harry: "Voldemort put a bit of himself in me?"
Dumbledore: "It certainly seems so."
Albus Dumbledore and Harry Potter after the Chamber of Secrets incident[src]

Simply put, Harry Potter was Voldemort’s mortal enemy. This was the case ever since Voldemort heard part of a prophecy made about the individual with the power to destroy him; two infants met the criteria, but Voldemort considered Harry more of a threat than Neville Longbottom, possibly because Harry was a half-blood like him. In targeting Harry, Voldemort unwittingly “marked him as his equal”, thus sowing the seeds of his own destruction. On October 31, 1981, Voldemort killed Harry’s parents before striking the infant with the Killing Curse. However, because Harry’s mother willingly sacrificed herself for her son, the curse backfired. Voldemort lost his physical body, and unintentionally transferred some of his powers and abilities to Harry, able to speak and understand Parseltongue for example[16], while a piece of his soul embedded itself in a scar on Harry’s forehead, inadvertently making the boy a Horcrux.[17]

Thus, the scar created a connection between Voldemort and Harry. As the former grew closer to regaining a physical body over the year, Harry’s scar began to burn. With the assistance of Barty Crouch Jr and Peter Pettigrew, Voldemort used Harry’s blood in the ritual to regain a physical body in 1995. He then attempted to murder the teenager, but the similarity of their wands created the rare Priori Incantatem effect, enabling Harry to escape. Voldemort made numerous other attempts on Harry’s life in the next few years, notably using his connection to the boy and Legilimency to plant a false vision of Sirius Black being tortured in his mind in order to lure him to the Department of Mysteries. There, a battle ensued, and Voldemort failed to kill Harry again and to obtain a copy of the prophecy made about the two of them.

Harry: "You're the weak one... and you'll never know love or friendship. And I feel sorry for you."
Voldemort: "You're a fool, Harry Potter. And you will lose everything."
Harry Potter and Voldemort in the Battle of the Department of Mysteries.[src]

In his sixth year at Hogwarts, Harry learned about Voldemort’s past from Albus Dumbledore, and was disturbed to notice many similarities between them – they were both half-bloods and orphans with poor childhoods. However, Harry realized that they differed in one very important way – he had the ability to love, while Voldemort did not.

In 1997, the connection between the two grew stronger, and Harry began to see through Voldemort’s senses and into his mind whenever he lost control. He learned that he was a Horcrux, and thus willingly faced Voldemort during the Battle of Hogwarts, not fighting back as Voldemort hit him with a Killing Curse. However, because Voldemort had taken some of Harry’s blood – and thus his mother’s protection – into himself, the curse destroyed the piece of Voldemort’s soul within Harry. Harry survived, and the two faced off one last time. Harry urged Voldemort to feel remorse, to which Voldemort reacted with disdain. He attempted to kill him one last time, but the Elder Wand was loyal to Harry, and thus the Killing Curse backfired on Voldemort. Without his Horcruxes, the curse killed him, once and for all.

Voldemort: "Potter doesn't mean that. Who else are you going to use as a shield today, Potter?"
Harry Potter: "No one. There are no more Horcruxes. It's just you and me. One of us is going to leave for good."
— The final confrontation between Voldemort and Harry at the Battle of Hogwarts[src]

Lord Voldemort and Harry are also related by blood, however distant, due to both of them being descended from the Peverells (Lord Voldemort through the Gaunts and Harry through the Potters). This made the both of them distant cousins.

Death Eaters

"Lucius, my slippery friend. I am told that you have not renounced the old ways, though to the world you present a respectable face. You are still ready to take the lead in a spot of Muggle-torture, I believe? Yet you never tried to find me, Lucius."
—Lord Voldemort to Lucius Malfoy after his return[src]
Death Eaters return

The Death Eaters return to the fold.

Those called Death Eaters were a group of Dark wizards and witches that followed Voldemort, fighting as the elite of his army during both the First and Second Wizarding Wars. However, Voldemort did not did not take kindly to failure or disloyalty of his servents. Therefore, during the time after First Wizarding War, most of them believed him dead and did not try to find him: they had to pay the price. When he summoned them after he regained his body, he tortured them, though he forgave him with the price a thirteen more years of service. The three Death Eaters that Tom thought the most loyal and close were Lucius Malfoy, Bellatrix Lestrange and Severus Snape. During the end of the Second Wizarding War, he seemed to have lost trust with these loyal Death Eaters.

Severus Snape


Severus Snape

"Perhaps you already know it? You are a clever man, after all, Severus. You have been a good and faithful servant, and I regret what must happen… The Elder Wand cannot serve me properly, Severus, because I am not its true master. The Elder Wand belongs to the wizard who killed its last owner. You killed Albus Dumbledore. While you live, Severus, the Elder Wand cannot truly be mine… It cannot be any other way."
—Voldemort just before ordering Nagini to kill Snape[src]

Severus Snape became a Death Eater in the First Wizarding War. He was extremely loyal to Voldemort until he realised that the Dark Lord planned to murder Lily Evans. Severus then asked him to spare Lily, whom he loved dearly, and turned to Albus Dumbledore as well, becoming a spy in exchange for her protection. From that point on, Snape used Occlumency to prevent the Dark Lord from discovering his true allegiance.

After Peter Pettigrew broke the Fidelius Charm cast by the Potters, Lily died and Voldemort disappeared; however, Snape's loyalty did not waver, and he swore to protect Harry from the Dark Lord, honoring Lily's sacrifice.

When Voldemort was reborn and called his Death Eaters to him, Snape did not appear until two hours later. The Dark Lord was suspicious, and feared that Snape had abandoned his service. On Dumbledore's orders, Severus claimed that his delayed return had secured the Headmaster's continued trust. The Dark Lord questioned Snape extensively, and found all his answers satisfactory; Snape was then welcomed back to the inner circle.

Voldemort's trust in Snape was further cemented when the latter murdered Albus Dumbledore; the Dark Lord did not know that Dumbledore had previously arranged the assassination with Snape. Snape then became the Dark Lord's most trusted advisor and was given the position of Hogwarts Headmaster soon afterwards. Unbeknownst to Voldemort, Snape continued to undermine him as much as possible, following Dumbledore's instructions

When Minerva McGonagall began to coordinate the defences of Hogwarts Castle for the impending battle against Voldemort, Snape fled; his master summoned him to the Shrieking Shack soon afterwards. Snape then saw that the Dark Lord had cast special protection around Nagini, and attempted to leave the Shack to give Harry a message from Dumbledore (Dumbledore had instructed Snape that, once Voldemort seemed to fear for Nagini's life, he was to tell Harry that the boy was Voldemort's seventh Horcrux, and therefore had to die).

Dismissing Snape's concerns, Voldemort noted that, since Albus Dumbledore's murder, Snape had become the true master of the Elder Wand. With regret, Voldemort ordered Nagini to kill the Death Eater. Seconds later, after Voldemort left, Snape gave Harry, who had witnessed the scene and entered the room upon Voldemort's departure, several memories that both revealed his true allegiance and passed on Dumbledore's message.

In his final duel against Voldemort, Harry revealed that Snape had been loyal to Dumbledore since Voldemort had targeted the Potters.

Bellatrix Lestrange

Bellatrix dueling

Bellatrix engaging in a battle.

"The Dark Lord will rise again, Crouch! Throw us into Azkaban, we will wait!"
Bellatrix Lestrange proclaiming her loyalty to Voldemort during her trial[src]

Bellatrix Lestrange was among Voldemort’s most loyal and trusted Death Eaters. She was fanatically loyal to him – for example, after his first defeat in 1981, instead of trying to deny her loyalties like many others had, Bellatrix proudly declared that she was his most loyal servant and that he would return. Bellatrix also became outraged if anyone showed Voldemort disrespect, such as when Harry Potter called him by his name in 1996, and once said that if she had sons, she would be proud to give them up to the Dark Lord’s service. Bellatrix was also in love with and sexually attracted to Voldemort. Although he did not reciprocate, being incapable of love, Voldemort nevertheless considered the Lestranges among his best and most trusted servants. When Bellatrix was killed by Molly Weasley during the Battle of Hogwarts, Voldemort was furious, and would have killed Molly if Harry had not intervened.

The Malfoy family

Malfoys pic2

The Malfoys.

"Now, now Draco, play nicely. Mr. Potter! Lucius Malfoy. We meet at last. Forgive me. Your scar is legend. As, of course, is the wizard who gave it to you."
Lucius Malfoy to Harry Potter, pertaining to Voldemort.[src]

Voldemort entrusted Lucius Malfoy with a Horcrux: his diary, which made possible the reopening of the Chamber of Secrets. The Dark Lord was enraged to hear, years later, that the diary had been carelessly handed to Ginny Weasley. Lucius did not know that the object concealed a part of his master's soul; in all likelihood, Voldemort had only told him that the object was enchanted to reopen the Chamber.

Lucius pretended to have been under the Imperius Curse after the Dark Lord's first downfall, and maintained a position of influence with the Ministry of Magic until the Second Wizarding War began. When Voldemort was reborn, he welcomed Lucius to his inner circle, and reprimanded Malfoy for running from the Dark Mark conjured at the Quidditch World Cup.

Lucius quickly began to lose favour, however, after Voldemort heard about the diary's destruction. When the Death Eaters under his command lost the Battle of the Department of Mysteries and failed to retrieve the Prophecy, the Dark Lord was also extremely disappointed; Lucius was sent to prison after the battle and, as punishment for the elder Malfoy's failure, Voldemort gave his son Draco Malfoy the nearly impossible task of murdering Albus Dumbledore, with the expectation that he, too, would fail, and then be punished accordingly by the Dark Lord.

Draco's scheme succeeded, but Voldemort continued to distrust the Malfoys' loyalty. He dwelt at Malfoy Manor for a while, and suspected that the family resented him for it. During his stay at the Manor, Voldemort used Draco as a pawn, forcing him to torture other Death Eaters, which effectively humiliated the Malfoy pride.

The following year, after Harry Potter managed to escape from the Manor, Voldemort tortured Lucius and began to treat him with complete disdain. Malfoy then focused on rescuing his son from Hogwarts during the Battle of Hogwarts between Death Eaters and Order of the Phoenix members at the school, fearing for Draco's life, and seemed to lose all care for the Death Eaters' cause. Voldemort snubbed Lucius' concerns for Draco and jeered that perhaps the teenager had chosen to ally himself with Harry Potter when he did not leave the school with the other Slytherins.

After Voldemort succeeded in casting the Killing Curse on Harry, Narcissa Malfoy was ordered to confirm the death. Harry was alive; however, Narcissa, only concerned for her son, demanded news of Draco from Harry and, upon learning that Draco was alive and well, she lied to the Dark Lord, stating that Harry was dead. She knew she and Lucius would only be able to return to Hogwarts and reunite with their son if they were part of a victory party. This allowed Harry to confront Voldemort for the last time soon afterwards, during which the Dark Lord was killed by a rebounding Avada Kedavra. Narcissa's instrumental intervention ensured that the Malfoys were not convicted for their crimes.

Physical description


Tom Riddle in his youth.

As a child, Tom Riddle was a handsome boy with jet black hair and dark eyes.[3][2] It is said that he bore a passing resemblance to Harry Potter. He grew into a tall teenager with a voice always filled with interest and curiosity - which was a farce to gain respect of teachers at Hogwarts. As he became more involved in the Dark Arts, he grew deathly pale, waxy and his face oddly distorted. The whites of his eyes took on a perpetually bloody look.[2] Through the destruction of his soul and numerous bodily transfigurations from the creation of Horcruxes, he eventually took on the form of a tall, skeletally thin, snake-like man with nearly translucent skin. His dark crimson eyes were set in slits like a cat's; his nose was flat as a snake's; his fingers are unnaturally long, bent like a spider's legs.[9] He took to wearing a black hooded cloak. It is also revealed in the final book that he has no lips.

Behind the scenes

  • Voldemort's real name, "Tom Marvolo Riddle," produces the anagram "I am Lord Voldemort."
  • In the movies, the handle of Voldemort's wand appears to be made of bone.
  • J. K. Rowling revealed that after his death, Voldemort had to exist in the limbo Harry talked to Dumbledore's spirit in, as the crouched human child-like form, and therefore unable to return as a ghost.
  • When Warner Brothers was casting the role for the film adaptation of Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, rumors circulated that both Rowan Atkinson and John Malkovich were considered. Both rumors were proven to be false. The Malkovich rumor is a bit curious since, as an American, he wouldn't have been able to audition to begin with.
  • In 2001, Christian Coulson was cast as Tom Riddle in Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, even though he exceeded the age group Chris Columbus had set for auditions. Ironically, when Coulson later expressed interest in returning for Half-Blood Prince, David Yates felt Coulson was "too old" to play the role again. Frank Dillane was eventually cast in Coulson's place.
  • In the movies, Voldemort has light blue eyes, while they are canonically red as described in the books. The reason why they are light blue in the film is because they would "show more emotion" than if they were red.
  • While "Voldemort" is canonically pronounced without the "t," the letter is pronounced in the film versions.
  • Lord Voldemort's characteristics are like that of Adolf Hitler's: Hitler wanted to purify the human race of "non-Aryan" races, though there are rumors he himself had Jewish ancestry. Voldemort wants to kill anyone who isn't a pure blood yet he was a half blood.
  • In the Chamber of Secrets, Voldemort said that his father abandoned his mother when he found out that she was a witch, when he really left after Merope stopped giving him Love Potions. Of course, this may have been how he saw the events, or an attempt to twist them to justify his hatred of Muggles.
  • Riddle was 16 when he opened the Chamber of Secrets 50 years before the events of Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, making him 66 in that book/movie. Doing the math, in Deathly Hallows during his final duel with Harry, he is 71, which is the reverse of 17, Harry's age at the time.
  • This is compounded by the fact that his original body "died" at the age of 54 when he tried to murder Harry Potter as an infant. Presumably, his resurrection in Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire returned him to his 54 year old body. His soul, however tortured and distorted it finally became, would be 72.
  • While in the 4th movie, he's showed with forked snake-like tongue, in the 5th movie his tongue is normal

In popular culture

Several campaigns have used Lord Voldemort to compare his evilness to the influence of politicians, large media and corporations. "Lord Voldemort" is a nickname sometimes used for Peter Mandleson.[18] Wal-Mart Watch uses parodies of Harry Potter to compare Wal-Mart to Voldemort, calling Wal-Mart "The Dark Lord WaldeMart".[19] There is also a campaign called Stop Big Media by the Harry Potter Alliance, that fights for media consolidation and "for what Harry, the Order of the Phoenix, and Potterwatch did not have: the right to a free press."[20] The campaign is supported by a compilation album entitled "Rocking Out Against Voldemedia", which features 10 songs by ten wizard rock bands. Voldemort is a recurring theme among wizard rock bands. Voldemort Can't Stop the Rock! is the name of the second album from Harry and the Potters, and the character is referred in songs such as The Dark Lord Lament or Flesh, Blood, and Bone.

Voldemort has been parodied in various venues. In The Simpsons 13th season's premiere titled "Treehouse of Horror XII", the character of Montgomery Burns appears as "Lord Montymort".[21] A parody of Voldemort appears in The Grim Adventures of Billy and Mandy as the character of "Lord Moldybutt", an enemy of Nigel Planter (a parody of Harry himself). In these episodes, whenever someone says Lord Moldybutt's name, something unfortunate happens, usually to Moldybutt himself. Voldemort also appears in the Potter Puppet Pals sketches by Neil Cicierega. One of the episodes titled "Trouble at Hogwarts" features Voldemort being killed with machine guns. Another episode, "The Mysterious Ticking Noise", shows Snape, Harry, Ron, Hermione, and Dumbledore being killed by a bomb placed by Voldemort; the episode being the seventeenth most viewed video of all time as of 2008 and the winner for "Best Comedy" of the year 2007 at YouTube.

In Time, Lon Tweeten shows with Continuing the Magic possible future book covers laced with pop culture references. One of them, the "Dark Lord of the Dance", shows Voldemort teaming up with Harry on Broadway. In the MAD Magazine parodies of the films, the character is called "Lord Druckermort," a backwards reference to the magazine's longtime caricaturist Mort Drucker. In Alistair McGowan's Big Impression show, during the sketch called "Louis Potter and the Philosopher's Scone", Gary Lineker appears as the Voldemort figure. In one of the Harry Bladder sketches in All That, Headmaster Pimpell's grotesque pimple turns out to be the head of "Lord Moldyshorts". In Harry Podder: Dude Where's My Wand?, a play by Desert Star Theater in Utah, written by sisters Laura J., Amy K. and Anna M. Lewis, Voldemort appears as Dark wizard Voldie.


Notes and references

  1. [1]
  2. 2.00 2.01 2.02 2.03 2.04 2.05 2.06 2.07 2.08 2.09 2.10 2.11 2.12 2.13 2.14 2.15 2.16 2.17 Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 3.3 3.4 3.5 3.6 Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets
  4. 4.00 4.01 4.02 4.03 4.04 4.05 4.06 4.07 4.08 4.09 4.10 4.11 4.12 4.13 4.14 4.15 4.16 4.17 4.18 4.19 4.20 4.21 Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows
  5. J.K. Rowling said in a 2003 interview the she was originally going to name them "The Knights of Walpurgis".
  6. 6.00 6.01 6.02 6.03 6.04 6.05 6.06 6.07 6.08 6.09 6.10 6.11 Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix
  7. Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban
  8. 8.0 8.1 8.2 8.3 8.4 8.5 8.6 Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone
  9. 9.0 9.1 9.2 9.3 9.4 9.5 9.6 9.7 9.8 9.9 Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire
  10. "J.K. Rowling on The Diane Rehm Show, WAMU Radio Washington, D.C., October 20, 1999". Retrieved on 2007 August 15.
  11. Jeff Jensen (2000-09-07). "Fire Storm". Entertainment Weekly. Retrieved on 2008 April 20.
  12. "A Good Scare". Retrieved on 2008 November 3.
  13. "What Jo says about...Lord Voldemort, aka Tom Marvolo Riddle". Retrieved on 2008 November 3.
  14. 14.0 14.1 "'J.K. Rowling Web Chat Transcript". Retrieved on 2007 August 15.
  15. "Anelli, Melissa and Emerson Spartz. "The Leaky Cauldron and MuggleNet interview Joanne Kathleen Rowling: Part Two," The Leaky Cauldron, 16 July 2005".
  16. Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets: Chapter 18
  17. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Chapter 35
  18. Daily Telegraph page 23, Saturday 20 December 2008
  19. Harry Potter and the Dark Lord WaldeMart.
  20. Rock Out Against Voldemedia
  21. "Treehouse of Horror XII" episode capsule at The Simpsons Archive

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