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Lord Voldemort

Lord Voldemort (/ˈvoʊldəmɔːr/,[1][2] /-mɔːrt/ in the films; born Tom

Marvolo Riddle) is a fictional character and the main antagonist in
J. K. Rowling's series of Harry Potter novels. Voldemort first
appeared in Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone, which was
released in 1997. Voldemort appears either in person or in
flashbacks in each book and its film adaptation in the series,
except the third, Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, where
he is only mentioned.
Lord Voldemort
Harry Potter character

Ralph Fiennes as Lord Voldemort in

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows – Part 1.

First appearance Harry Potter and the Philosopher's


Last appearance Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows

Created by J. K. Rowling

Portrayed by Ralph Fiennes, as the Dark Lord finally

resurrected from HP4 to the end of
the film series in HP7 – Part 2
Frank Dillane, as a fifteen-year-old in
Hero Fiennes-Tiffin, as an eleven-year-
old in HP6
Christian Coulson, as a sixteen-year-
old in HP2
Ian Hart, voice in HP1
Richard Bremmer, non-faced in HP1

Voiced by Eddie Izzard, The Lego Batman Movie

House Slytherin

Full name Tom Marvolo Riddle

Voldemort is the archenemy of Harry Potter, who according to a
prophecy has "the power to vanquish the Dark Lord". Nearly every
witch or wizard dares not utter his unmentionable name, and
refers to him instead with such expressions as "You-Know-Who",
"He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named" or "the Dark Lord". Voldemort's
obsession with blood purity signifies his aim to rid the wizarding
world of Muggle (non-magical) heritage and to conquer both
worlds, Muggle and wizarding, to achieve pure-blood dominance.
Through his mother's family, he is the last descendant of wizard
Salazar Slytherin,[3] one of the four founders of Hogwarts School
of Witchcraft and Wizardry. He is the leader of the Death Eaters, a
group of evil wizards and witches dedicated to ridding the
Wizarding World of Muggles and establishing Voldemort as its
supreme ruler.

Character development
In a 2001 interview, Rowling said Voldemort was invented as a
nemesis for Harry Potter (the protagonist of the novels), and she
intentionally did not flesh out Voldemort's backstory at first. "The
basic idea [was that Harry] didn't know he was a wizard ... And so
then I kind of worked backwards from that position to find out
how that could be, that he wouldn't know what he was. ... When he
was one year old, the most evil wizard for hundreds and hundreds
of years attempted to kill him. He killed Harry's parents, and then
he tried to kill Harry—he tried to curse him. ... Harry has to find out,
before we find out. And—so—but for some mysterious reason the
curse didn't work on Harry. So he's left with this lightning bolt
shaped scar on his forehead and the curse rebounded upon the
evil wizard, who has been in hiding ever since."[4]

In the second book, Rowling establishes that Voldemort hates

non-pure-blood wizards, despite being a half-blood himself. In a
2000 interview with the BBC, Rowling described Voldemort as a
self-hating bully: "Well I think it is often the case that the biggest
bullies take what they know to be their own defects, as they see it,
and they put them right on someone else and then they try and
destroy the other and that's what Voldemort does."[5] In the same
year, Rowling became more precise about Voldemort. She began
to link him to real-life tyrants, describing him as "a raging
psychopath, devoid of the normal human responses to other
people's suffering".[6] In 2004, though, Rowling said that she did
not base Voldemort on any real person.[7] In 2006, Rowling told an
interviewer that Voldemort at his core has a human fear: the fear
of death. She said: "Voldemort's fear is death, ignominious death. I
mean, he regards death itself as ignominious. He thinks that it's a
shameful human weakness, as you know. His worst fear is

Throughout the series, Rowling establishes that Voldemort is so

feared in the wizarding world that it is considered dangerous even
to speak his name. Most characters in the novels refer to him as
"You-Know-Who" or "He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named" rather than say
his name aloud. In Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, a "taboo"
spell is placed upon the name, such that Voldemort or his
followers may trace anyone who utters it. By this means, his
followers eventually find and capture Harry and his friends Ron
Weasley and Hermione Granger. In the second book, Rowling
reveals that I am Lord Voldemort is an anagram of the character's
birth name, Tom Marvolo Riddle. According to the author,
Voldemort's name is an invented word.[9] Some literary analysts
have considered possible meanings in the name: Philip Nel
believes that Voldemort is derived from the French for "flight of
death",[10] and in a 2002 paper, Nilsen and Nilsen suggest that
readers get a "creepy feeling" from the name Voldemort, because
of the French word "mort" ("death") within it and that word's
association with cognate English words derived from the Latin

Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone
Voldemort on the back of Professor Quirrell's head in Harry Potter and the
Philosopher's Stone

Voldemort makes his debut in Harry Potter and the Philosopher's

Stone. In this story, Rowling introduces him as the Dark Lord who
murdered Harry's parents, James and Lily, but as a result of his
mother's love and willingness to sacrifice herself for him, baby
Harry survives when Voldemort tries to murder him with a Killing
Curse. Voldemort is disembodied, and Harry carries a mysterious
scar on his forehead as a result. In the book, Voldemort
unsuccessfully tries to regain his dissolved body by stealing the
titular Philosopher's Stone. To achieve his objective, Voldemort
uses Professor Quirrell's aid by latching onto the back of Quirrell's
head. However, at the climax of the book, Harry manages to
prevent Voldemort from stealing the stone.

Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets

In the second instalment, Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets,

Rowling introduces Tom Marvolo Riddle, a manifestation of a
teenage Voldemort that resides inside a magical diary found by
Ginny Weasley. In this book, Ginny is written as a shy girl with a
crush on Harry. Feeling anxious and lonely, she begins to write into
the diary and shares her deepest fears with the sympathetic Tom.
However, at the climax of the story, when Riddle rearranges the
letters in his name to write "I am Lord Voldemort", Riddle is
revealed as a magical manifestation of the boy who would later
grow up to become the Dark Lord. Riddle states he has grown
strong on Ginny's fears and eventually possesses her, using her as
a pawn to unlock the Chamber of Secrets, whence a basilisk is set
free and petrifies several Hogwarts students. Harry defeats the
manifestation of Riddle from the diary and the basilisk.[12] In Harry
Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, Albus Dumbledore reveals to
Harry that the diary was one of Voldemort's Horcruxes.

Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban

Voldemort does not appear in the third book, Harry Potter and the
Prisoner of Azkaban, either in person or as a magical
manifestation. He is, however, heard when Harry passes out from
the harsh effects of a Dementor. Towards the end of the story
Sybill Trelawney, the Divination professor, makes a rare genuine
prophecy: The Dark Lord lies alone and friendless, abandoned by his
followers. His servant has been chained these twelve years. Tonight,
before midnight, the servant will break free and set out to rejoin his
master. The Dark Lord will rise again with his servant's aid, greater
and more terrible than ever before. Tonight... before midnight... the
servant... will set out... to rejoin... his master...[13] Though it is
initially implied that the prophecy refers to Sirius Black, the book's
ostensible antagonist, the servant is eventually revealed to be
Peter Pettigrew, who, for the 12 years since Voldemort's fall, has
been disguised as Ron's pet rat, Scabbers.
Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire

In the fourth instalment of the series, Harry Potter and the Goblet
of Fire, Voldemort appears at the start and the climax of the book.
Rowling lets many seemingly unrelated plot elements fall into
order. It is revealed that Voldemort's minion Barty Crouch Jr,
disguised as Hogwarts professor Mad-Eye Moody, has
manipulated the events of the Triwizard Tournament in Harry's
favour. Voldemort's goal is to teleport Harry under Dumbledore's
watch as a reluctant participant to the Little Hangleton graveyard,
where the Riddle family is buried.[14] Harry is captured and, after
Pettigrew uses Harry's blood to fulfil a gruesome magical ritual,
Voldemort regains his body and is restored to his full power.[15]
For the first time in the series, Rowling describes his appearance:
"tall and skeletally thin", with a face "whiter than a skull, with wide,
livid scarlet eyes and a nose that was as flat as a snake’s with slits
for nostrils".[14] Rowling writes that his "hands were like large, pale
spiders; his long white fingers caressed his own chest, his arms,
his face; the red eyes, whose pupils were slits, like a cat's,
gleamed still more brightly through the darkness".[14] It was
revealed that, while in Albania, Pettigrew had captured the
Ministry of Magic official Bertha Jorkins, who was tortured for
information about the Ministry.[16] After they learned that Barty
Crouch Jr, a faithful Death Eater, had been smuggled out of
Azkaban and was privately confined at his father's house, they
killed her. With Pettigrew's help, Voldemort creates a small,
rudimentary body, corporeal enough to travel and perform magic,
and formulated a plan to restore his own body by capturing Harry.
A portion of the plan had been overheard by Frank Bryce, a
gardener, whom Voldemort then killed.[16] Voldemort then
completes his plan and returns to life in his full body as a result of
the ritual with Harry's blood. He then summons his Death Eaters
to the graveyard to witness the death of Harry as he challenges
Harry to a duel. However, when Voldemort duels Harry, their
wands become magically locked together due to the twin Phoenix
feather cores of the wands. Because of a phenomenon later
revealed as Priori Incantatem, ghost-like manifestations of
Voldemort's most recent victims (including Harry's parents) then
appear and distract Voldemort, allowing Harry just enough time to
escape via Portkey with the body of fellow-student, Cedric
Diggory, who was murdered by Pettigrew on Voldemort's

Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix

Voldemort appears at the climax of the fifth book, Harry Potter and
the Order of the Phoenix, having again plotted against Harry.[18] In
this book, Harry goes through extreme emotional stress, and
according to Rowling, it was necessary to prove that Harry is
emotionally vulnerable and thus human, in contrast to his nemesis
Voldemort, who is emotionally invulnerable and thus inhuman: "
[Harry is] a very human hero, and this is, obviously, there’s a
contrast, between him, as a very human hero, and Voldemort, who
has deliberately dehumanised himself. […] and Harry, therefore, did
have to reach a point where he did almost break down."[19] In this
book, Voldemort makes liberal use of the Ministry of Magic's
refusal to believe that he has returned.[17] Voldemort engineers a
plot to free Bellatrix Lestrange and other Death Eaters from
Azkaban and then embarks on a scheme to retrieve the full record
of a prophecy stored in the Department of Mysteries regarding
Harry and himself. He sends a group of Death Eaters to retrieve
the prophecy, where the Order of the Phoenix meets them. All but
Bellatrix are captured, and Voldemort engages in a ferocious duel
with Dumbledore. When Dumbledore gets the upper hand,
Voldemort attempts to possess Harry but finds that he cannot;
Harry is too full of that which Voldemort finds incomprehensible,
and which he detests as weakness: love. Sensing that
Dumbledore could win, Voldemort disapparates, but not before
the Minister for Magic sees him in person, making his return to life
public knowledge in the next book.

Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince

Voldemort does not appear in Harry Potter and the Half-Blood

Prince, although his presence and actions are felt: he once again
declares war, and begins to rise to power once more. He murders
Amelia Bones of the Department of Magical Law Enforcement,
and begins to target members of the Order of the Phoenix,
including Emmeline Vance.

Rowling uses several chapters as exposition to establish

Voldemort's backstory. In a series of flashbacks, using the
pensieve as a plot device, she reveals that Voldemort was the son
of the witch Merope Gaunt and a Muggle called Tom Riddle.
Riddle abandoned Merope before their child's birth, soon after
which Merope died, just hours after giving birth.[20] After living in
an orphanage, young Riddle met Dumbledore, who told him he
was a wizard and arranged for him to attend Hogwarts.[21] Riddle
was outwardly a model student, but was in reality a psychopath
who takes sadistic pleasure in using his powers to harm and
control people. He eventually murdered his father and
grandparents as revenge for abandoning him.[22] The book also
discusses Riddle's hatred of "Muggles", his obsession with
Horcruxes, and his desire to split his soul to achieve
immortality.[23] Rowling stated Voldemort's conception under the
influence of a love potion symbolises the prejudicial
circumstances under which he was brought into the world.[24]

In the main plot of the book, Voldemort's next step is to engineer

an assault on Hogwarts, and to attack Dumbledore. This is
accomplished by Draco Malfoy, who arranges transportation of
Death Eaters into Hogwarts by a pair of Vanishing Cabinets, which
bypass the extensive protective enchantments placed around the
school.[25] The cabinets allow Voldemort's Death Eaters to enter
Hogwarts, where battle commences and Dumbledore is cornered.
Hogwarts professor (and re-doubled agent) Severus Snape uses
the Killing Curse against Dumbledore when Draco could not force
himself to do so.[25]

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows

In Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Voldemort furthers his

quest for ultimate power. He disposes of the Minister for Magic
and replaces him with Pius Thicknesse, who is under the Imperius
Curse.[26] Establishing a totalitarian police state, he has Muggle-
borns persecuted and arrested for "stealing magic" from the "pure
blood" wizards.[26] After failing to kill Harry with Draco's father
Lucius Malfoy's borrowed wand (to avoid the effect of Priori
Incantatem),[27] he goes on a murderous search for the Elder
Wand, the most powerful wand ever created, seeing it as the
weapon he needs to overcome Harry's wand and make him truly
invincible. He goes on a quest that takes him out of the country to
Gregorovitch's wand shop, where he kills the old wandmaker.[28]
His journey also takes him to Nurmengard, the prison where
Gellert Grindelwald is kept, and he kills Grindelwald as well. He
finally locates the Elder Wand and steals it from Dumbledore's
Later, Voldemort finds out that Harry and his friends are hunting
and destroying his Horcruxes when informed of their heist on the
Lestranges' vault at Gringotts in search for Hufflepuff's Cup.[29]
After offering the occupants of Hogwarts mercy if they give up
Harry, he assembles a large army and launches an invasion of the
castle, where Harry is searching for Ravenclaw's Diadem.[30]
Voldemort orders his pet snake Nagini to execute Snape, believing
it would make him the true master of the Elder Wand, since Snape
killed Dumbledore.[31] He then calls an hour's armistice, in
exchange for Harry.[32] When Harry willingly walks into
Voldemort's camp in the Forbidden Forest, Voldemort strikes him
down with the Elder Wand.[32] However, the use of Harry's blood to
resurrect Voldemort's body proves to be a major setback: while
Harry's blood runs in Voldemort's veins, Harry cannot be killed as
his mother's protection lives on now in Voldemort too. Instead,
Voldemort destroys the part of his own soul that resides in Harry’s
body. Voldemort forces Rubeus Hagrid to carry Harry's apparently
lifeless body back to the castle as a trophy, sparking another
battle during which Nagini, his last Horcrux, is destroyed by Neville
Longbottom. The battle then moves into the Great Hall, where
Voldemort fights Minerva McGonagall, Kingsley Shacklebolt, and
Horace Slughorn simultaneously. Harry then reveals himself and
explains to Voldemort that Draco became the true master of the
Elder Wand when he disarmed Dumbledore; Harry, in turn, won the
wand's allegiance when he took Draco's wand. Refusing to believe
this, Voldemort casts the Killing Curse with the Elder Wand while
Harry uses a Disarming Charm with Draco's, but the Elder Wand
refuses to kill its master and the spell rebounds on Voldemort
who, with all of his Horcruxes destroyed, finally dies. His body is
laid in a different chamber from all the others who died battling

Rowling stated that after his death, Voldemort is forced to exist in

the stunted infant-like form that Harry sees in the King's Cross-like
Limbo after his confrontation with Voldemort in the Forbidden
Forest. Rowling also mentioned that, despite his extreme fear of
death, he cannot become a ghost.[34]

Harry Potter and the Cursed Child

In Harry Potter and the Cursed Child, it is revealed that Bellatrix

gave birth to Voldemort's daughter Delphi in Malfoy Manor before
the Battle of Hogwarts. Twenty-two years later, Delphi poses as
Cedric's cousin and manipulates Harry and Ginny's second son
Albus Severus Potter, his friend, Draco and Astoria Greengrass's
son Scorpius Malfoy into stealing a prototype Time Turner with
which she hopes to resurrect her father. Using the Time Turner,
Scorpius accidentally creates an alternative timeline where
Voldemort killed Harry at the battle and now rules the wizarding
world. In an attempt to achieve this future, Delphi travels to
Godric's Hollow on the night Voldemort killed Harry's parents,
hoping to avert the prophecy that led to her father's downfall. After
receiving a message from his son, Harry, together with Ron,
Hermione and Draco (who by now has become friends with Harry
after they join forces to save their respective sons) transfigures
himself into Voldemort so that he can distract Delphi, allowing
them to overpower her. The real Voldemort kills Harry's parents as
prophesied, and Delphi is sent to Azkaban.

Portrayals within films

Young Tom in his fifth year at Hogwarts as played by Christian Coulson in Harry
Potter and the Chamber of Secrets.

Voldemort appears in seven Harry Potter films, namely Harry

Potter and the Philosopher's Stone, Harry Potter and the Chamber of
Secrets, Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, Harry Potter and the
Order of the Phoenix, Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, Harry
Potter and the Deathly Hallows – Part 1 and Harry Potter and the
Deathly Hallows – Part 2. Several actors have portrayed him in his
varying incarnations and ages.

In Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone, Voldemort's

manifestation is as a face on the back of Quirrell's head, an effect
achieved by computer generated imagery. Ian Hart, the actor who
played Quirrell in the same film, provided the voice and the facial
source for this character. Voldemort also appears in a scene in the
Forbidden Forest where he is seen drinking the blood of a unicorn.
As Voldemort's face was altered enough by CG work, and Hart's
voice was affected enough, there was no confusion by Hart's
playing of the two roles. In that film, he was also shown in a
flashback sequence when he arrived at the home of James and
Lily Potter to kill them. In this scene Voldemort is played by
Richard Bremmer,[35] though his face is never seen. His next
appearance would be in Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets
as the 16-year-old Tom Marvolo Riddle (portrayed by Christian

Ralph Fiennes portrays Voldemort from Goblet of Fire to Deathly Hallows Part 2.

In Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, Voldemort is initially only

heard, possessing the scratchy, weak voice heard in the first film.
By the film's climax, however, he appears in his physical form for
the first time, played by Ralph Fiennes. As in the book, Voldemort
is shown clad in dark black robes, being tall and emaciated, with
no hair and yellowish teeth; his wand has a white tone and the
handle appears to be made of bone; his finger nails are long and
pale blue while his toe nails appear to be infected. Unlike in the
book, his pupils are not cat-like and his eyes are blue, because
producer David Heyman felt that his evil would not be able to be
seen and would not fill the audience with fear (his eyes do briefly
take on a snake-like appearance when he opens them after
turning human, but quickly turn normal). As in the book, the film
version of Voldemort has snake-like slit nostrils with the flesh of
his nose significantly pressed back. Ralph Fiennes' nose was not
covered in makeup on the set, but was digitally removed in post-
production. In this first appearance, Voldemort also has a forked
tongue, but this element was removed for the subsequent films.

Fiennes stated that he had two weeks to shoot the climactic

showdown scene where he is gloating over a terrified Harry,
played by Daniel Radcliffe. Fiennes said with a chuckle: "I have no
doubt children will be afraid of me now if they weren't before." In
preparation, he read the novel Goblet of Fire, but jokingly
conceded: "I was only interested in my scene, and I had to go
through thousands and thousands of other scenes which I did,
dutifully, until I got to my scene and I read it many, many, many,
many, many times and that was my research."[36] Fiennes reprised
his role as Voldemort in Harry Potter and the Order of the
Phoenix[37] and Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows – Part 1 and
Part 2.

Fiennes's nephew, Hero Fiennes-Tiffin, portrayed Tom Riddle as a

child in Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince. By the time filming
arrived Christian Coulson was 29, and not considered suitable to
return as the adolescent Riddle. Thomas James Longley was
originally scheduled to take over the role, but last minute
renegotiations saw Frank Dillane cast instead.[38][39]

Outward appearance

After he regains his body in the fourth book, Rowling describes

Voldemort as having pale skin, a chalk-white, skull-like face,
snake-like slits for nostrils, red eyes and cat-like slits for pupils, a
skeletally thin body and long, thin hands with unnaturally long
fingers.[14] As mentioned in the first chapter of the seventh book,
he also has no hair or lips. Earlier in life, as seen through
flashbacks contained in the second and sixth books, Tom Marvolo
Riddle was handsome[21] and tall with pale skin, jet black hair, and
dark brown eyes. He could charm many people with his looks. The
transformation into his monstrous state is believed to have been
the result of creating his Horcruxes and becoming less human as
he continued to divide his soul.[23] In the films, Voldemort's eyes
are blue with round pupils.

Rowling described Voldemort as "the most evil wizard for

hundreds and hundreds of years".[4] She elaborated that he is a
"raging psychopath, devoid of the normal human responses to
other people's suffering", and whose only ambition in life is to
become all-powerful and immortal. He is also a sadist who hurts
and murders people—especially Muggles—just for pleasure. He
has no conscience, feels no remorse, and does not recognise the
worth and humanity of anybody except himself.[40] He feels no
need for human companionship or friendship, and cannot
comprehend 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
also stated that Voldemort is "incredibly power hungry. Racist,
really",[41] and that if Voldemort were to look into the Mirror of
Erised, he would see "Himself, all-powerful and eternal. That's
what he wants."[42]

Rowling also stated that Voldemort's conception by influence of

Amortentia—a love potion administered by his mother, a witch
named 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".[24]

Like most archetypical villains, Voldemort's arrogance leads to his

downfall. He also suffers from a pathological fear of death, which
he regards as a shameful and ignominious human weakness.
However, while he had many traits of a megalomaniac, he did not
have all, as one common trait associated with megalomania and
narcissists was shifting blame. Voldemort admitted he paid an
expensive price in attacking the parents of Harry Potter, and
carefully studied what went wrong when reorganizing his Death
Eaters, ultimately placing the blame upon himself. According to
Rowling, his Boggart would be his own corpse.[43] Rowling also
said that the difference between Harry and Voldemort is that
Harry accepts mortality, and thus Harry is in the end stronger than
his nemesis.[24]

Magical abilities and skills

Throughout the series, Rowling establishes Voldemort as an

extremely powerful, intelligent, and ruthless Dark Wizard. He is
known as one of the greatest Legilimens in the world and a highly
accomplished Occlumens; he can read minds and shield his own
from penetration. Besides Dumbledore, he is also the only wizard
ever known to be able to apparate silently. Voldemort was also
said to fear one wizard alone, Dumbledore.

In the final book, Voldemort flies unsupported, something that

amazes those who see it.[27] Voldemort, like his ancestral family,
the Gaunts, is a Parselmouth, meaning he can converse with
serpents. This skill was inherited from his ancestor, Salazar
Slytherin. The Gaunt family speak Parseltongue among
themselves. This highly unusual trait may be preserved through
inbreeding, a practice employed by the Gaunt Family to maintain
their blood's purity. When Voldemort attempts to kill Harry his
ability to speak Parseltongue is passed to Harry through the small
bit of the former's soul. After that bit of soul is destroyed, Harry
loses this ability.[44] In a flashback in the sixth novel, Voldemort
boasts to Dumbledore during a job interview that he has "pushed
the boundaries of magic farther than they had ever before".[45]
Dumbledore states that Voldemort's knowledge of magic is more
extensive than any wizard alive[46] and that even Dumbledore's
most powerful protective spells and charms would likely be
insufficient if Voldemort returned to full power. Dumbledore also
said that Voldemort was probably the most brilliant student
Hogwarts has ever seen.[12] Although Voldemort remains highly
accomplished and prodigious in skill, he is enormously lacking
and highly inept in the most powerful magic, love. This inability to
love and trust others proves to be Voldemort's greatest weakness
in the series. Voldemort initially voices scepticism that his own
magic might not be the most powerful,[45] but upon returning to
power, he admits to his Death Eaters that he had overlooked the
ancient and powerful magic which Lily Potter invoked and that
would protect Harry from harm.[47]

On her website, Rowling wrote that Voldemort's wand is made of

yew, whose sap is poisonous and which symbolises death. It
forms a deliberate contrast to Harry's wand, which is made of
holly, which she chose because holly is alleged to repel evil.[48]

Rowling establishes in the books that Voldemort is magically

connected to Harry via Harry's forehead scar. He disembodies
himself when his Killing Curse targeting Harry rebounds on him,
leaving the scar on Harry's forehead. In the books, and to a lesser
extent in the films, Harry's scar serves as an indicator of
Voldemort's presence: it burns when the Dark Lord is near or when
Voldemort is feeling murderous or exultant. According to Rowling,
by attacking Harry when he was a baby Voldemort gave him "tools
[that] no other wizard possessed—the scar and the ability it
conferred, a magical window into Voldemort's mind".[49]

According to Rowling, the 't' in "Voldemort" is silent,[1] as it is in the
French word for death, "mort".[2] Jim Dale pronounced it so in the
US audiobooks that came before the release of the film version of
Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone, where the characters
pronounced the "t". After this, Dale changed his audiobook
pronunciation accordingly.[50] For all the UK audiobooks Stephen
Fry pronounced the name including the "t".[51][52]

Family tree

Note: The names 'Thomas' and 'Mary' Riddle are taken from the
films, and Delphini appears only in the Cursed Child play. The Potter
Family is not shown.

Voldemort family tree

Salazar Slytherin The Pev





Thomas Riddle Mary Riddle Marvolo Gaunt






Tom Riddle Sr. Merope Gaunt Morfin Gaunt





Tom Marvolo Riddle Bellatrix Lestrange




Delphini Har


Riddle family
The Riddle family, an old gentry family, consisted of old Thomas
and Mary Riddle and their son, Tom Riddle, Esq. They owned over
half of the valley that the town of Little Hangleton lay in, and
Thomas was the most prominent inhabitant of that town. They
lived in a large house with fine gardens, but were unpopular
amongst the local residents due to their snobbish attitudes. Tom,
apparently the only child of Thomas and Mary, indulged in the
typical pursuits of the upper class in the first half of the twentieth
century, socialising with attractive women of his class, riding
horses, and enjoying his status in the town.

Rowling revealed in Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince that

young Merope Gaunt made efforts to get as close to Tom as she
could, peering at him through the windows and bushes at every
opportunity. Morfin noticed his sister's affection for Tom and
hexed him as he rode by, covering him in hives. This breach of
wizarding law, and the ensuing violent struggle with Ministry of
Magic officials, led to Marvolo and Morfin being imprisoned in
Azkaban. As surmised by Dumbledore, once Merope was alone
and no longer dominated by her father, she could make her move
for Tom. Merope offered Tom a drink laced with a love potion as
he rode by one day without his attractive companion, Cecilia. He
became infatuated with Merope and they eloped. Within three
months of the marriage, Merope became pregnant. Merope
decided to stop giving Tom the love potion, having come to the
belief such enchantment of a man was tantamount to slavery. She
also revealed her witch status to Tom, believing either that he had
fallen in love with her on his own or he would at least stay for their
unborn child. She was wrong, and Tom quickly left his pregnant
wife and went home to his parents, claiming to have been
"hoodwinked" and tricked into marrying Merope.[20] Tom Marvolo
Riddle, their son, was born on 31 December 1926[53] and was left
to grow up in an orphanage, as Merope had died soon after giving

Readers first learn about the doom of the Riddles in the beginning
of Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire. Tom Riddle, Esq. and his
parents were murdered by Tom Marvolo Riddle. The Riddles'
gardener Frank Bryce was blamed for the murders in the Muggle
world,[16] though he was never charged or tried, while in the
wizarding world Morfin Gaunt was framed for them[22] and died in
Azkaban prison.

In the film adaptation of The Goblet of Fire, Voldemort's

grandparents were given the names Thomas and Mary Riddle.

Gaunt family

Most of the exposition of the House of Gaunt's background

occurs in Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, through the
medium of Dumbledore's Pensieve. The Gaunts were once a
powerful and influential family, and are the last known
descendants of Salazar Slytherin. However, an infamous vein of
mental instability and violence that was reinforced by cousin
marriages intended to preserve the pureblood line had reduced
them to poverty and squalor, as shown in the Pensieve's "memory"
that Harry and Dumbledore witnessed. Like Salazar Slytherin, the
Gaunts spoke Parseltongue. At the time of the story, the Gaunts
owned hardly any assets save for a ramshackle shanty in Little
Hangleton, which stood in a thicket in a valley opposite the Riddle
House. Like the Riddles, the Gaunts were also unpopular with the
local residents, but for the opposite reason; their squalor was
looked down upon and the vicious behavior of the Gaunt men
earned them a reputation for being vulgar and intimidating.[20]

Marvolo Gaunt was the last Gaunt family patriarch. He was

sentenced to a short term in Azkaban for his and his son's assault
upon a Ministry of Magic official; this affected his health and he
died soon after returning home. His signet ring passed to his son,
Morfin Gaunt, who was convicted of assaulting a Muggle, and
later died in Azkaban, convicted this time as a party to the murder
of Tom Riddle Sr and Riddle's parents by his nephew.[22] The real
culprit was discovered much later by Dumbledore, who visited
Morfin in Azkaban to gather information about Voldemort. After
Dumbledore successfully extracted Morfin's memory of his
encounter with his nephew, he tried to use the evidence to have
Morfin released, but Morfin died before the decision could be
made. Morfin being the last male Gaunt, the House of Gaunt
ended with his death.

Merope Gaunt (/mɛˈroʊpi/) was the daughter of Marvolo, sister of

Morfin. Harry's first impression of her was that she looked "like the
most defeated person he had ever seen", probably because she
lived in raggedness, squalour, and abuse. She married Tom Riddle
Sr and became pregnant within three months of the wedding.[20] It
is suggested that she tricked her husband into loving her by using
a love potion, but when she became pregnant, she chose to stop
administering the potion. It is implied that Merope had grown tired
of living the lie and thought that her husband might have grown to
love her, or that he might have stayed for the sake of their unborn
child; however, he left her. Desperate, Merope wandered through
the streets of London. The only thing she had left was the heavy
gold locket that had once belonged to Salazar Slytherin, one of her
family's most treasured items, which she sold for a small amount.
When she was due to give birth, she stumbled into a Muggle
orphanage, where she gave birth to her only son, Tom Marvolo
Riddle. She died within the next hour.

Gormlaith Gaunt was a 17th-century descendant of Salazar

Slytherin, and like Salazar, a Parselmouth. Her wand was that
which once belonged to Salazar himself. Educated at Hogwarts,
Gormlaith lived in Ireland in the early 1600s. In about 1608,
Gormlaith killed her estranged unnamed sister, and her sister's
husband, William Sayre (a descendant of the Irish witch Morrigan),
and kidnapped their five-year-old daughter, Isolt Sayre, raising her
in the neighbouring valley of Coomcallee, or "Hag's Glen", because
she felt that her parents' association with Muggles would badly
influence Islot. Fanatical and cruel, Gormlaith used Dark magic to
isolate Islot from others, forbade her a wand, and did not allow her
to attend Hogwarts as she herself had, disgusted that it was now
filled with Muggle-borns. After twelve years with Gormlaith, Islot
stole Gormlaith's wand and fled to the Colonies and settled in
Massachusetts, where she founded the Ilvermorny School of
Witchcraft and Wizardry. When Gormlaith learned of the school,
she pursued her niece in Massachusetts, where she was killed by
Isolt's friend, William the Pukwudgie, with a venom-tipped

The Gaunts, including Voldemort, are distantly related to Harry

because they are descendants of the Peverell brothers.[55]

Several people have drawn a parallel between Voldemort and
some politicians. Rowling has admitted that Voldemort was "a
sort of" Adolf Hitler, and that there is some parallel with Nazism in
her books.[56][57] Rowling also compared Voldemort with Joseph
Stalin, with whom he shares several traits, including that of
renouncing his family name in favour of one which would invoke
fear and strength.[58] Alfonso Cuarón, director of Harry Potter and
the Prisoner of Azkaban compared Voldemort with George W.
Bush and Saddam Hussein, as the two of them "...have selfish
interests and are very much in love with power. Also, a disregard
for the environment. A love for manipulating people."[59] Andrew
Slack and the Harry Potter Alliance compare media consolidation
in the US to Voldemort's regime in Deathly Hallows and its control
over the Daily Prophet and other media saying that "Once
Voldemort took over every form of media in the wizarding world,
Dumbledore's Army and the Order of the Phoenix formed an
independent media movement called 'Potterwatch'. Now the HP
Alliance and Wizard Rock have come together to fight for a
Potterwatch movement in the real world to fight back against Big
VoldeMedia from further pushing out local and foreign news,
minority representation, and the right to a Free Press."[60] Julia
Turner from Slate Magazine also noted similarities between the
events of Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince and the current
War on Terror. She said that Voldemort takes up terrorism by
destroying bridges, murdering innocents, and forcing children to
kill their elders.[61]

Voldemort has also been compared with other characters within

fiction, for example Sauron from The Lord of the Rings; they are,
during the time when the main plot takes place, seeking to recover
their lost power after having been considered dead or at least no
longer a threat, and are also so feared that they are sometimes

IGN listed Voldemort as their seventh favourite Harry Potter

character, calling him "truly frightening".[63]

In 2014, ranked him #7 on their "Top 10 Harry

Potter Characters" list, while they ranked him #1 on their "Top 10
Most Evil Harry Potter Villains" and "Top 10 Most Gut-Wrenching
Harry Potter Deaths" lists two years later.

In popular culture
Several campaigns have used Voldemort to compare his evilness
to the influence of politicians, large media and corporations. "Lord
Voldemort" is a nickname sometimes used for Peter
Mandelson.[64] Voldemort is also a recurring theme among wizard
rock bands. Voldemort Can't Stop the Rock! is the second album
from Harry and the Potters, and the character is mentioned in
songs such as "The Dark Lord Lament" and "Flesh, Blood, and

Voldemort has been parodied in various venues. In The Simpsons

13th season's premiere, "Treehouse of Horror XII", Montgomery
Burns appears as Lord Montymort.[65] A parody of Voldemort
appears in The Grim Adventures of Billy and Mandy as Lord
Moldybutt, an enemy of Nigel Planter (a parody of Harry).[66]
Voldemort also appears in the Potter Puppet Pals sketches by Neil
Cicierega. One of the episodes including him was the seventeenth
most viewed video of all time as of 2008 and the winner for "Best
Comedy" of the year 2007 at YouTube.[67]

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.[68] 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
Alan Moore's League of Extraordinary Gentlemen: 1969, a young
Tom Marvolo Riddle (introduced as "Tom", whose middle name is
a "marvel" and last name is a "conundrum") appears, and becomes
the new avatar of Oliver Haddo at the story's conclusion.[69] In A
Very Potter Musical, Voldemort is played by actor Joe Walker.

Voldemort also appeared in the 2012 Summer Olympics opening

ceremony in London as an inflatable representation of children's
literature villains, alongside The Queen of Hearts, Captain Hook,
and Cruella de Vil.[70]

Outside of the Harry Potter video games, Voldemort is also

playable in Lego Dimensions, with archive audio of Ralph Fiennes's
portrayal in the films used for his voiceovers. Voldemort also
appears in The Lego Batman Movie voiced by Eddie Izzard as one
of the prisoners in the Phantom Zone that the Joker recruits to
take over Gotham City.

A 2018 Italian fan film titled Voldemort: Origins of the Heir depicts
the story of Tom Riddle's rise to power.[71][72]

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External links
Book: Harry Potter

Tom Riddle on Harry Potter Wiki, an external wiki

Lord Voldemort at Harry Potter Lexicon

Wikiquote has quotations related to: Lord Voldemort

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