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What Did Voldemort Look Like Before He Died?

What Did Voldemort Look Like Before He Died?

Voldemort, born as Tom Marvolo Riddle, is the central antagonist in J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter series. His journey from a gifted young wizard to the most feared Dark Wizard of all time is a central plot point in the series.

In his quest for immortality and absolute power, Voldemort undergoes a dramatic physical transformation that serves as a visual manifestation of his increasing malevolence and detachment from humanity.

From a handsome and charming young man, he turns into a creature with a terrifying, snake-like appearance – a stark contrast to his former self. This transformation in appearance is not merely cosmetic, but rather symbolic of his descent into darkness, as he forsakes his humanity for power and immortality.

Early Life (Tom Riddle)

Tom Riddle from the Diary
Tom Riddle

Tom Marvolo Riddle, who would later become known as Lord Voldemort, was noted for his handsome features during his early life. He was described as tall and pale with jet-black hair, a sharp, aquiline nose, and fine bone structure that gave him an aristocratic and somewhat intimidating presence. His eyes, a deep, dark shade of blue, were characterized as being powerfully mesmerizing.

Riddle’s charm and good looks played a significant role during his time at Hogwarts. He was able to win the trust of many teachers and students, using his charismatic persona as a facade to hide his darker intentions.

Tom Riddle Plot to open the Chamber of Secrets
Tom Riddle Plot to open the Chamber of Secrets

Despite his handsome appearance, there were moments when his features would twist into a cruel semblance, offering a glimpse of the malevolent character he would eventually fully become.

Transformation Begins

Tom Riddle and Professor Slughorn
Professor Slughorn and Tom Riddle

Voldemort’s transformation began in earnest when he started creating Horcruxes using the knowledge he had gained from Professor Slughorn, objects in which he stored parts of his soul to gain immortality. Each Horcrux created represented an act of murder, a dark magic that required the splitting of the soul. This process had a profound effect on Voldemort, both on his psyche and his physical appearance.

After the creation of his first few Horcruxes, subtle changes in Voldemort’s appearance were noted. His handsome features started to twist and distort, his eyes darkened, and his skin grew paler. As he continued to make more Horcruxes, the changes became more drastic. His eyes took on a serpentine red glow, his nose flattened and slit into a snake-like form, and his fingers elongated, lending a skeletal quality to his hands.

These transformations were so drastic, that in “Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince,” Dumbledore remarked to Harry:

“There was no hope of stealing the locket and the cup discreetly; he knew that he would have to break cover, at least to that extent. And so he was glad to find that his looks were changing… It was as though his features had been burned and blurred; they were waxy and oddly distorted, and the whites of the eyes now had a permanently bloody look…”

Dumbledore to Harry in Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince

His appearance became a testament to the extreme lengths he was willing to go in his quest for immortality and power. By the time he had created his final Horcrux, Voldemort no longer resembled the charming boy from Hogwarts. Instead, he had transformed into a creature both feared and reviled, a true embodiment of his chosen name, the Dark Lord.

Full Transformation (Voldemort)

Voldemort killed Harry’s parents, Lily and James Potter, after he had made most of his Horcruxes. By the time he attacked the Potters on October 31, 1981, Voldemort had already created six Horcruxes: Tom Riddle’s diary, Marvolo Gaunt’s ring, Salazar Slytherin’s locket, Helga Hufflepuff’s cup, Rowena Ravenclaw’s diadem, and a part of his soul had also unintentionally been enclosed within Nagini, his pet snake.

When Voldemort tried to kill baby Harry with the Killing Curse, it backfired due to the protective charm left by Lily Potter’s sacrifice. Voldemort’s body was destroyed, but his disembodied soul survived due to the Horcruxes he had made. The unintended consequence of this event was that a fragment of Voldemort’s soul latched onto the only living thing in the room, Harry, thereby making Harry an unintentional Horcrux.

Voldemort existed in a formless state for many years until his faithful servant, Wormtail, revived him. Before his revival, Voldemort attached himself to the back of Professor Quirrell during the 1991-1992 school year in “Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone”.

Quirinus Quirrell
Quirinus Quirrell

Quirrell had taken a one-year sabbatical in 1990 to gain first-hand experience in the Dark Arts, and during his travel, he ran into Voldemort, who was inhabiting a forest in Albania. Voldemort, who was weak and formless at the time, took the opportunity to take over Quirrell’s body, appearing as a face on the back of Quirrell’s head.

Quirrell and Voldemort

Voldemort used Quirrell to try and steal the Philosopher’s Stone from Hogwarts, hoping to use it to restore his body to full strength. However, their plan was thwarted by Harry Potter at the end of the school year, and Quirrell died when Harry touched him, due to the protective magic of love that Lily Potter had left in Harry.

After the events of “Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone,” where Quirrell dies and Voldemort’s formless spirit flees, Voldemort hides in the forests of Albania. It’s here where he encounters Wormtail, who was in hiding after betraying Sirius Black. This occurs in “Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban.”

Lord Voldemort in weakened state

In “Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire,” Wormtail and Barty Crouch Jr. kidnap the wand maker Ollivander and force him to make a new wand for Voldemort. Wormtail then performs a ritual (using his own hand, Tom Riddle Sr.’s bone, and Harry’s blood) to give Voldemort a new body, fully reviving him. This event marks the beginning of Voldemort’s return to open power.

After his resurrection, Voldemort’s appearance further deviated from that of a typical human. His skin turned as pale as a skull, his eyes became red with cat-like slits for pupils, and his nose morphed into snake-like slits, symbolizing his affinity for serpents and dark magic.

His body was tall and thin, almost skeletal, and he was completely hairless. This horrifying change was not only physical, it was also a symbolic representation of his detachment from humanity. His disfigurement signified his internal corruption and paralleled his moral degradation as he relentlessly pursued power and immortality, discarding his humanity along the way.

Lord Voldemort, the main bad guy in the Harry Potter movies and books

Read more: A comprehensive look at why Voldemort doesn’t have a nose.

Symbolism of Appearance

His snake-like appearance parallels his affiliation with Slytherin and the serpent Nagini, as well as representing his devious, dangerous nature. His red eyes and flattened nose further emphasize his inhumanity, reinforcing the theme of his moral corruption and his self-inflicted loss of human empathy.

The extreme physical changes induced fear in his followers, demonstrating the level of terror he incites in those around him. His appearance was a direct reflection of the monstrosity that resided within, underlining the corruptive influence of power when pursued without regard for others.

Read more: Harry Potter Wands List with Images and Stats