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    Real Fans Will Recognize Every Tom Riddle Moment From The "Harry Potter" Books

    He-who-must-not-be-named? Okay, Tom.

    Voldemort gets all the glory, but what about the boy behind the infamous wizard?

    You-Know-Who. The Dark Lord. We love a villain with a good identity crisis. There's a decent amount of Tom Riddle in the Harry Potter movies, but we all know who the real fans are. To really get to know this brooding little psychopath, let's crack open everyone's favorite childhood book series and get to know Tom Marvolo Riddle.

    1. Tom Riddle's diary (Chamber of Secrets)

    Harry discovers Tom Riddle's diary
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    Tom Riddle's name first appears in Chamber of Secrets. After Moaning Myrtle complains about someone throwing a book through the top of her head, Harry finds a diary labeled "T.M. Riddle." Ron recognizes the name from his time spent polishing medals, and Harry feels like Riddle is "a friend he’d had when he was very small, and had half-forgotten." After learning little else about T.M. Riddle other than the fact that he won several awards, Harry finally decides to write in the diary. While sitting on his four-poster, the ink Harry puts on the page disappears, and Tom Riddle writes back. 

    2. Harry learns the truth about Hagrid and Aragog (Chamber of Secrets)

    Tom Riddle confronts Hagrid
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    After getting pulled into Tom Riddle's diary to witness past events, Harry begins to learn more about the mysterious boy and the Chamber of Secrets. This is our first real introduction to Voldemort as more than just the big bad villain. The very first thing Harry learns is that Tom Riddle is an orphan, desperate to stay at Hogwarts over the summer rather than return home. We also discover Riddle had a muggle father and a witch mother.

    Of course, the main plot of Chamber of Secrets deals with the Chamber itself. Harry follows Riddle as he confronts a young Hagrid and accuses him of unleashing his "monster" on the school. At this point in the Harry Potter timeline, Riddle has already killed his father and grandparents, possibly created his first Horcrux, and had the conversation with Professor Slughorn that we'll cover in #10. But J.K. Rowling decided that our first impression of Riddle should be as an orphan like Harry, and potentially a hero.

    3. When Harry met Tom in the Chamber of Secrets (Chamber of Secrets)

    Tom Riddle reveals he is Voldemort
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    If anyone was fooled by Tom Riddle's "heroics" in the diary scene, they were proven wrong by the end of Chamber of Secrets. But really, who could believe Hagrid would be the bad guy of any story? In the Chamber, Harry learns a neat new anagram spell and also that he's been pen pals with a homicidal maniac. Tom Riddle may or may not have already created his first Horcrux at this point, but we won't learn that until Half-Blood Prince. This makes Tom Riddle's diary the first Horcrux both we and Harry encounter, and of course the first he destroys. There's also a snake. 

    4. The tale of Tom Riddle Sr. and Merope Gaunt (Half-Blood Prince)

    The tomb of Thomas Riddle Sr.
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    Tom Riddle isn't mentioned at all in Prisoner of Azkaban. In Goblet of Fire, the Riddle house, Tom Riddle Sr.'s grave, and even Voldemort make an appearance, but not Tom. In Order of the Pheonix, the only time Tom Riddle gets brought up is when Harry is being moody and reminding himself that he does all the hard work. The sixth book in the Harry Potter saga isn't called the Half-Blood Prince just because it's a badass name. It does some major lifting when it comes to the life and times of Tom Riddle. This is all to say that the next seven Riddle moments are all from Half-Blood Prince, so strap in.

    The House of Gaunt was an ugly little place where the last living heirs of Salazar Slytherin lived. Marvolo, Merope, and Morfin Gaunt were not exactly the Brady Bunch, but Merope did have one pleasure. She would watch a handsome young man named Tom Riddle (Sr.) ride by the window. After her brother Morfin hit Riddle with a hives jinx, the Ministry of Magic got involved. A fight broke out, after which Marvolo and Morgin were taken to Azkaban. Free at last, Merope tricked Riddle into marrying her. Dumbledore believes she used a love potion, and I tend to agree with the man. About a year later, little Tommy Jr. was born.

    5. The cave (Half-Blood Prince)

    The cave Tom Riddle takes his first victims to
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    The cave is featured much more prominently when Harry and Dumbledore travel there to retrieve Salazar Slytherin's locket. But I want to talk about one of the earliest Tom Riddle moments we ever get a glimpse at. This is a story that Mrs. Cole tells Dumbledore just before he meets Tom Riddle for the first time at the orphanage. Tom Riddle takes two other kids — Amy Benson and Dennis Bishop — into a cave while on a field trip. Tom and the other kids were likely around 10 years old. 

    Whatever happened inside the cave, Amy Benson and Dennis Bishop "were never quite right after." It's a small story, but to me it's one of the most chilling. Why? Because we never learn what happened to the children in the cave. With Tom telling Dumbledore things like, "I can make them hurt if I want to," Rowling lets our imagination do the work. What would an extremely powerful and unstable 10-year-old wizard do in a sea cave with two kids he didn't like? According to Tom Riddle, they were just exploring.

    6. Albus Dumbledore meets Tom Riddle (Half-Blood Prince)

    Albus Dumbledore meets young Tom Riddle
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    Once Mrs. Cole gives Dumbledore the delightful tale about the sea cave, she introduces him to Tom Riddle. Dumbledore tells Riddle about Hogwarts, and proves that he's a wizard by setting Tom's wardrobe on fire. The very thing Tom Riddle responds positively to is Dumbledore's wand, which is an obsession that doesn't change much throughout Tom's life. After admitting to have stolen other kids' possessions, Dumbledore warns Riddle that he'll be held to a higher standard at Hogwarts. Just before he leaves, Tom mentions that he can speak to snakes. Dumbledore hesitates for a moment, then casually comments that the power is not unheard of. As far as life-changing moments in Tom Riddle's life go, this one is possibly the most crucial.

    7. Tom's first few years at Hogwarts (Half-Blood Prince)

    A young Tom Riddle
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    The ultimate "it's not a phase" kid, Tom Riddle starts at Hogwarts. He learns to control his anger, turning it into cruel manipulation and a thirst for knowledge. The friends he makes at school become some of the first Death Eaters later on, and I want to say he was in house...Slytherin? Despite all the evil vibes, Riddle played the part of a prefect and a model student expertly. Of course, it didn't hurt that he was a brilliant wizard. But his fascination with the Dark Arts only grew, and he learned about the Chamber of Secrets his very first year. 

    8. Tom murders his father and grandparents, creating his first Horcrux (Half-Blood Prince)

    A horcrux
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    Four years after starting at Hogwarts, Riddle tracks down the Gaunt shack and meets his uncle Morfin. Disgusted by his own family and the fact that his father abandoned him, Tom goes to the Riddle house and murders his father and grandparents. He also steals Marvolo Gaunt's ring from Morfin, using the murders to create a Horcrux. Now, whether Tom Riddle's diary or Marvolo Gaunt's ring is Riddle's very first Horcrux is still up for debate. Dumbledore seems to refer to the diary as Riddle's first Horcrux, but the murder of his family takes place before Riddle kills Moaning Myrtle (the act that turns the diary into a Horcrux). 

    Whichever came first, Riddle steals the ring and kills his family before he asks Professor Slughorn about Horcruxes. So it's unclear just how much Riddle knew about them when he first split his soul. After framing Morfin Gaunt for the murders, Riddle returns to Hogwarts and proudly wears Gaunt's ring.

    9. Asking Professor Slughorn about Horcruxes (Half-Blood Prince)

    Tom Riddle asks Professor Slughorn about Horcruxes
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    “Sir, I wondered what you know about … about Horcruxes?” It's unclear just how much Riddle knew about Horcruxes when he talked to Professor Slughorn (considering he could've been wearing one on his finger at the time). However, he certainly didn't know that splitting your soul into seven pieces was the best way to go about it. Thanks, Slughorn.

    Riddle is becoming used to getting away with murder, but he's still acting like the perfect student. Harry even takes notice of it: "...the hesitancy, the casual tone, the careful flattery, none of it overdone." Roughly a year after this talk with Slughorn, Riddle finally manages to open the Chamber of Secrets and frames Hagrid. Two years after that, he graduates Hogwarts and applies to teach Defense Against the Dark Arts. However, the headmaster at the time, Armando Dippet, denies Riddle the position.

    10. The murder of Hepzibah Smith (Half-Blood Prince)

    The Hufflepuff cup
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    After graduating from Hogwarts and being turned down for a teaching gig by Headmaster Dippet, Tom Riddle started working at Borgin and Burkes. Well, he popped off to Albania to snag a third Horcrux first, but then he made good friends with Hepzibah Smith. And wouldn't you know it, Hepzibah just so happened to be a descendant of Helga Hufflepuff. Riddle murdered Hepzibah Smith, stealing Salazar Slytherin's locket and Hufflepuff's cup from her and creating two more Horcruxes.

    11. Riddle reapplies at Hogwarts (Half-Blood Prince)

    Voldemort screams
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    "Whoa, look like shit." 

    —Dumbledore, probably

    After Headmaster Dippet denied Riddle the job of Defense Against the Dark Arts, he suggested that Tom reapply later. Dumbledore did not like this, and he still didn't like it when Riddle came back over 20 years later. Though, this is the last scene where we can really call him Tom Riddle. By now, he demands to be called Voldemort, and he is hardly recognizable as the brilliant yet troubled boy Dumbledore met years ago. 

    Asking for the same job, Dumbledore doubts that Riddle seriously believes he has a shot at the job. Of course, we realize later that Riddle simply wanted to hide Ravenclaw's diadem in the Room of Requirement. And, of course, he couldn't leave without casting what might be the most specific, petty, and downright hilarious curse in the entire book series: no professor can last more than one year in the Defense Against the Dark Arts position. Let it go, man.

    12. The final battle (The Deathly Hallows)

    Voldemort battles Harry Potter
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    Okay, I know I said that after he reappears at Hogwarts, Tom Riddle fully transforms into Voldemort. But the name "Voldemort" was always about power. Riddle hated his father's name and wanted a title that would strike fear into peoples' hearts. A name so imposing, people would be afraid to use it. The Horcruxes, the army, the need for purity, it was all to bury the identity of Tom Riddle Jr. After Harry destroys all the Horcruxes, Voldemort is stripped of his power. He isn't as scary, and he isn't as strong. So it's only fitting that Rowling has Harry call him by his real name in their last duel.

    "I know things you don't know, Tom Riddle," Harry says. And when he dies, it's not the Dark Lord or He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named who falls. "Tom Riddle hit the floor with a mundane finality, his body feeble and shrunken, the white hands empty, the snakelike face vacant and unknowing." 


    What do you say? Was the diary or the ring the first Horcrux? Let me know in the comments!

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