- Voldemort is one of the most complex characters in the “Harry Potter” series, so ever superfans may not remember everything about him.
- The name Tom Riddle was inspired by a real person, and the name Voldemort has a significant meaning.
- Voldemort made Harry Potter the “chosen one,” but it could have been another Hogwarts student.
- When he was at Hogwarts, Tom Riddle was a gifted student, and he wanted to become the school’s Defence Against the Dark Arts professor.
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The “Harry Potter” series is one of the most popular franchises of all time, but even the biggest fans may not know everything about Tom Riddle, also known as Lord Voldemort, the Dark Lord, and He Who Must Not Be Named.
Prior to using her platform to spread transphobic messages, the series’ controversial author J.K. Rowling was known to use Twitter, interviews, and the official Wizarding World website to expand the “Harry Potter” canon by sharing new information about characters and plotlines beyond the seven books.
With all of that content, even the most dedicated of fans may have missed a few details.
Here are 18 little-known facts about Voldemort that even die-hard “Harry Potter” fans may have missed:
The names Tom Marvolo Riddle and Voldemort have significant meaning.
Names often have deeper meanings in the “Harry Potter” universe, and Voldemort is no exception. The phrase “vol de mort” means “theft of death” or “flight of death” in French, which is an apt description of his main goals throughout the series.
The villain’s name remains Voldemort in the different translations of the books, but since the letters of his given name, Tom Marvolo Riddle, must rearrange to spell the phrase “I am Lord Voldemort” in order to fulfil a major plot point, his name varies throughout the translations.
For example, in the French translation, his given name is Tom Elvis Jedusor in order to rearrange to “Je suis Voldemort” – which means “I am Voldemort.”
Tom Riddle’s name was based on a real person.
Authors often use the world around them as inspiration for characters and plot points. One such source of inspiration for “Harry Potter” was a cemetery in Edinburgh, Scotland.
According to the BBC, the names of characters including Minerva McGonagall, Alastor Moody, and Tom Riddle were inspired by headstones in Greyfriars Kirk graveyard.
He wanted to be the Defence Against the Dark Arts professor at Hogwarts.
Tom Riddle applied for the Defence Against the Dark Arts positions twice – once when Armando Dippet was headmaster of Hogwarts and once when Albus Dumbledore took over.
He was turned down by Dippet due to his young age, and by the time he asked Dumbledore several years later, the headmaster could see his evil intentions.
After he was passed over the second time, Voldemort placed a jinx on the position that prevented any teacher from holding the job for more than a year.
The Riddles and the Potters are distantly related.
Many readers probably remember that Harry Potter is a descendant of the Peverells, a family famous for their possession of the three Deathly Hallows.
In the seventh book, we learn that Harry is a descendent of Ignotus Peverell when he discovers the true origins of the invisibility cloak his father passed down to him.
But fans may not have caught that Tom Riddle is also a direct descendent of that same family. The Gaunt family on his mother’s side can be traced back to Cadmus Peverell.
Cadmus was the original owner of the resurrection stone, which was eventually passed down in ring form to Tom’s grandfather Marvolo Gaunt and his uncle Morfin Gaunt before Tom stole it. The later generations of the family, however, did not know that the ring contained the stone.
More than one actor played Voldemort in the films.
Although Ralph Fiennes is the actor most commonly associated with Lord Voldemort, he didn’t take on the role until “Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire.”
In “Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone” viewers see Voldemort, portrayed by Richard Bremmer, attached to the back of Professor Quirrell’s head. The actor is credited as “He Who Must Not Be Named” in the first film.
It seems that Voldemort’s parents never really loved each other, which may have eventually led to his demise.
Tom Riddle’s mother, Merope Gaunt, lived a life of tragedy and abuse.
According to Dumbledore, she became so desperate to leave that life behind that she put a wealthy muggle, Tom Riddle Sr., under a love spell so he could take her away from her father and brother. It was under that spell that Tom Sr. married Merope and Tom Jr. (Voldemort) was conceived.
When the effects of the potion wore off, Tom Sr. left her and she felt she had no choice but to leave their child at a Muggle orphanage.
Love conquering all is a major theme of the series, and this backstory makes it clear that there was never love in the villain’s life, making it exceedingly difficult for him to succeed.
As a boy, he tested his powers on other children at the orphanage.
Tom Riddle’s evil nature was apparent from a young age.
In “Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince,” we learn through Dumbledore’s memory in the Pensieve that Tom was testing out spells on unsuspecting children at the orphanage where he was raised.
The book references one specific event during which he took two children into a cave and did something so terrible they were never able to speak of it again. The cave evidently left a lasting impression on Voldemort, seeing as it also became a Horcrux hiding place.
Albania was an important place to Voldemort before he hid there in the wake of the First Wizarding War.
Most fans probably remember that the bodiless remains of Voldemort hid in an Albanian forest to regain strength after he was defeated by baby Harry in the First Wizarding War.
He also returned to the same forest after his host body, Professor Quirrell, was killed in “Sorcerer’s Stone.”
Although it is never exactly revealed why Voldemort chose that location as a hiding place, it does hold a certain significance to him. The first time visited Albania his mission was to retrieve the lost diadem of Rowena Ravenclaw – which her daughter Helena had revealed to be hidden in a forest there – in order to create one of his seven Horcruxes.
A Horcrux is a powerful, dark object that contains a piece of a witch or wizard’s soul and keeps that soul fragment alive regardless of their body’s fate.
Voldemort made his first Horcrux by killing Moaning Myrtle while he was a student at Hogwarts.
Making a Horcrux is a dark form of magic that requires a witch or wizard to take another’s life.
Tom Riddle created his first Horcrux by killing his fellow Hogwarts student Myrtle Warren, who’s known as Moaning Myrtle.
After the murder, the part of his soul that split entered a diary that eventually possessed Ginny Weasley and made her reopen the Chamber of Secrets at Hogwarts during Harry’s second year.
Nagini was integral to Voldemort’s return to power.
Nagini was the longtime serpent companion of Voldemort.
Though the exact date and location of their meeting are unknown, we do know that she was with him when he was regaining strength in Albania. Her venom was also part of a potion brewed by Peter Pettigrew that helped sustain his bodiless form.
Eventually, the snake became Voldemort’s final Horcrux after the murder of Bertha Jorkins.
He created an army of corpses by murdering Muggles.
The books reveal that an Inferius is a corpse that’s been reanimated by dark magic.
Fans may recall the scene in “Half-Blood Prince” when a swarm of Inferi surrounds Dumbledore and Harry in the cave as they try to retrieve the locket Horcrux.
What they may not know is that Voldemort created the majority of his army of Inferi by murdering vulnerable Muggles and reanimating their corpses.
Voldemort ultimately decided that Harry Potter was “the chosen one.”
As we learn in “Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix,” Sybill Trelawney made a prophecy that only a child “born to those who have thrice defied him, born as the seventh month dies” would have the power to vanquish Lord Voldemort. But the identity of that child was not always clear.
Both Harry Potter and Neville Longbottom fit that description, but Voldemort ultimately decided to go after Harry, who was a half-blood like himself, cementing Harry’s fate as “the chosen one.”
He had a daughter with Bellatrix Lestrange.
In the stage play, “Harry Potter and the Cursed Child” – which became part of the “Harry Potter” canon in 2016 – we learn that Voldemort and Bellatrix Lestrange had a daughter together named Delphini.
The exact date of Delphini’s birth is still a bit of a mystery, but she must have been born sometime between Bellatrix’s escape from Azkaban in “Order of the Phoenix” and the Battle of Hogwarts in “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows” – during which both Voldemort and Bellatrix died.
The Death Eaters were almost called the “Knights of Walpurgis.”
During his school years, Tom Riddle formed a group of friends he was able to manipulate to do his bidding. Many of these friends went on to become his loyal band of Death Eaters during the First Wizarding War and beyond.
In an interview with the BBC, Rowling revealed that she had originally planned to call the group the “Knights of Walpurgis.” After all these years, she’s even kept a scrap of paper referencing that name in case she ever decides to use it.
Tom Riddle was a brilliant student.
There may not be many positive things you can say of Tom Riddle/Lord Voldemort, but he was a very gifted student.
He was skilled at Legilimency and Occlumency, received top marks in his class, earned a Medal for Magical Merit, and was even made Head Boy in his seventh year.
He probably could’ve gotten a job at the Ministry of Magic.
As one of the top students in his class, Tom Riddle was bound to have many opportunities presented to him after finishing at Hogwarts.
In his final year, Professor Slughorn offered to set him up with job interviews by using his connections at the Ministry of Magic.
Instead, after getting rejected for the Defence Against the Dark Arts position at Hogwarts, Riddle went to work at Borgin and Burkes antique shop. It was this job that gave him the opportunity to acquire both Salazar Slytherin’s locket and Helga Hufflepuff’s cup, which he turned into Horcruxes.
His greatest fear was his own death.
Boggarts are magical shape-shifters that transform into whatever a witch or wizard fears the most.
Even without this insight, it is clear that Voldemort does everything in his power – including fragmenting his soul seven times – throughout the series to live up to his name and beat death.