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I didn't mean to! The Dark Lord. You have no idea the weapons he possesses!
~ Peter Pettigrew's confession.
It turned out that he was a better wizard than they knew.
~ J.K Rowlings describes Pettigrew's skills
Bone of the father unwillingly given. Flesh of the servant willingly sacrificed. And blood of the enemy forcibly taken. The dark lord shall rise again.
~ Peter Pettigrew's resurrection spell performed for Lord Voldemort.

Peter Pettigrew, also known by his nickname Wormtail, is a major antagonist in the Harry Potter franchise, making his debut as the main antagonist of Prisoner of Azkaban, the secondary antagonist in Goblet of Fire, and later as a supporting antagonist of Half-Blood Prince and Deathly Hallows. He was originally one of James Potter's friends, but later joined the Death Eaters and betrayed James and Lily Potter in the process, thus framing their best friend Sirius Black for the crime.

He is portrayed by Timothy Spall.

History

Early life

Peter Pettigrew was born on May 14, 1960 somewhere in the British Isles, to a family of witches and wizards of low class in Muggle (non-magical) society, and raised in poverty under the watchful eye of his mother. His father kept him in his shadow by harshly criticizing his son for his fear and lack of capability to live up to his family's honor. Despite his parents' open hostility toward him, this lack of love largely shaped Pettigrew's paranoid self-confidence and desire of looking up to those more caring and powerful, yet misguided as him later in life.

By the start of his first year at the major wizarding school up in Scotland, called Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, Pettigrew was at first decided to be sorted into Slytherin due to his resourcefulness, but was sorted into Gryffindor instead due to the Sorting Hat sensing some potential in him rather than any actual inborn courage, a trait that the nervous young wizard may have never lived up to. Aside from his timid outlook, though, he gained great friendship with many fellow Gryffindors whom he idolized for their popularity and talent, including the gang of them that he joined known as the Marauders (consisting of James Potter I, Sirius Black and Remus Lupin), eventually latching himself onto them as if they were like cousins. After their discovery of Lupin's status as a werewolf inhabiting the mysterious Shrieking Shack in the nearby village of Hogsmeade that they nicknamed "Moony", Pettigrew studied in his third year with Potter and Black about secretly (and illegally) becoming Animagi (witches and wizards capable of morphing into animals at will), allowing them to support Lupin himself by safely accompanying him during his monthly transformations and keeping him under control. Pettigrew took the Animagus form of a fat gray rat with a wormy tail, from which his nickname "Wormtail" was derived, while Potter and Black took the Animagi forms of a tall red stag with pronged horns (Prongs) and a shaggy black dog with padded feet (Padfoot). In addition, the four friends allowed themselves to see where everyone in the Hogwarts castle was at a given time by creating their own map of the school that they labeled the "Marauders' Map", which made sneaking around and avoiding teachers much easier.

Although seen as a stupid and foolish boy later on, Pettigrew continued hero-worshipping Potter and Black as the latter two grew immensely popular, and lived vicariously through joining them in their trouble-making accomplishments. Many of the teachers, including Hogwarts headmaster Albus Dumbledore and his deputy headmistress, Transfiguration professor Minerva McGonagall, showed little respect for his intelligence and behavior while finding him around troublemakers, and the harsh pressure McGonagall put him under during their student-teacher relationship made Pettigrew a less than average student incapable of standing up for himself. During his fifth year, a mutual hatred sprang up between Potter and an unpopular Slytherin student, Severus Snape, who bestowed a life-long grudge upon Black and Lupin for supporting Potter but viewed Pettigrew with even more scorn than the other three because of his pitiful ineptitude. Though he would not have been likely to cross a wizard so skilled and powerful without either of his two classmates backing him up, Pettigrew himself often tagged along in helping Potter and Black bully the annoyed Slytherin out of boredom. However, this campaign of ill treatment inadvertently came into ruin end when a Muggle-born Gryffindor whom Snape loved since childhood, Lily Evens, tried to defend her boyfriend, only to part ways with him and begin to date (and later marry) Potter after Snape inadvertently let slip the foul name for Muggle-born (Mudblood). This incident almost turned against the Marauders to get them expelled when Snape noticed Lupin disappearing during the full moon, and hoped to find out his secret. Seizing this opportunity to play a prank on him, Black informed Snape how to get past the Whomping Willow's branch defenses and enter the tunnel underneath the tree leading to the Shrieking Shack. When Potter found out what trouble his best friend got them into, Pettigrew watched nearby as the former went after Snape and saved him by pulling out of the tunnel, but not before Snape glimpsed Lupin finishing his transformation in the shack. Dumbledore swore all four boys (Pettigrew, Potter, Black and Snape) to keep such discovery a secret, but Lupin's supposed true nature was clear to Snape. By the start of his seventh year, Pettigrew went separate ways with his family and made a home for himself when his father died, since there was still little money to support himself. This left the weak wizard to fend for himself once a day, notably by stealing from his Muggle neighbors or other locals far and wide.

Following his graduation from Hogwarts, Pettigrew eventually joined his fellow Marauders in the Order of the Phoenix, a secret society founded by Dumbledore to stand up against the tyrannical rise of the psychopathic dark wizard Lord Voldemort, who aimed take over the wizarding world with a large conflict against its social order and shape it in his supremacist views with the aid of an army of followers which he named Death Eaters. At some point during this war, however, the timid wizard began working as a spy for Voldemort within the Order's ranks, having come to the belief that nothing could be gained from opposing the dark lord. Due to being considered a low-ranking soldier for his cowardice and general lack of usefulness, many Death Eaters held little respect for Pettigrew and suggested that he would most likely betray their master if his fear of them went too far. When Voldemort learned of a prediction regarding his own destruction at the hands of a child born at the end of July in 1980 to those who defied him three times and lived, he came to learn of two boys who matched the description, the most probable of which was believed to be James and Lily Potter's then-unborn son Harry Potter. Dumbledore eventually learned of the dark wizard marking the Potters for death as a result, and had the family go into hiding and keep their heads low enough for Voldemort via the legendary Fidelius Charm, which the father insisted that a godfather of Harry's like Black should be the Secret-Keeper of. Black, however, believed that such a move would be too obvious for the Death Eaters and suggested that a "weak, taint-less thing" like Pettigrew should be selected as their Secret-Keeper instead, to which they agreed. As the result for being a Death Eater spy, Pettigrew betrayed the Potters' whereabouts a week after the Fidelius Charm was performed, and Voldemort went out to rectify the odds that had so unexpectedly been stacked against him on Halloween night a year later, but the eradication of the Potters had not went as smoothly as they had anticipated. Having murdered and simply stepped over the bodies of the parents, the psychopathic wizard prepared to kill the son as vowed only for his Killing Curse to rebound back at himself and obliterate his body, leaving his army shocked and distraught, as well as making Harry famous for being the first to ever survive one of the Unforgivable Curses.

Upon arrival at the wreckage of the Potter cottage in the wizard-famous West Country village of Godric's Hollow, Pettigrew deduced what happened and took Voldemort's wand (which he found among the rubble), hiding it in an undisclosed location out of fear of the British Ministry of Magic discovering his treason through inspecting it. Apart from the Potters, though, the only other person who knew that Pettigrew was the family's Secret Keeper was Black, who realized what the former wizard must have done after finding his home empty with no signs of a struggle. After tracking him down all night in hopes of avenging his friends, Black luckily found the alleged traitor being hunted down on a London street by a mob of Muggle locals for some unspecified crime. As part of his bluff to get away, Pettigrew screamed that it was Black who betrayed the Potters and (quickly pulling his wand out from his back pocket before his wizard opponent could draw his) killed twelve of his Muggle pursuers by blowing up the street with a Blasting Curse, creating a crater large enough for the sewer pipes underneath to show. Then, in the midst of the destruction, he faked his own death by cutting off one of his fingers and leaving it at the crime scene as he turned in to his Animagus form and fled into the sewer pipe. Black was thus left framed for Pettigew's Death Eater activities when the surviving Muggles who witnessed the event swore that to the Ministry that they saw him murder Pettigrew along with the twelve other victims on the spot and had their memories modified with an excuse from the Muggle-Worthy Excuse Committee that a gas-leak occurred before they could remember what really happened, and was sentenced to life in the wizard prison Azkaban without a trial. Pettigrew himself, on the other hand, was unjustly awarded the Order of Merlin First Class for his "confrontation" with his old friend, which, along with the finger they recovered, was posthumously given to his mother. As time passed, due to misconceptions, most of the wizarding community theorized that Black drew his wand and killed Pettigrew before the other had a chance of even drawing. Even the other remaining Marauder, Lupin, believed it was Black who betrayed their brotherhood.

Pettigrew went into hiding as a rat immediately afterwards in hopes of avoiding other Death Eaters, for he was afraid that many of them believed that he had betrayed Voldemort (since the dark wizard met his downfall on his information), and by staying with a wizard family, he would keep up on current news until he felt it was safe to return to his master. While looking for such a family to take him in, he luckily came in possession of Percy Weasley, who kept him as a pet and named him 'Scabbers' due to his mangy appearance, and remained in his custody until getting passed down to Percy's younger brother Ron. As such, it was made clear that Scabbers was an extraordinary rat, for he was unusually old for a rat of his species (which had a life expectancy of 3 years) because of continuing to live with the Weasley family for much longer. Although many of his former Death Eater comrades avoided Azkaban by claiming to be under the Imperius Curse, they all became unmotivated to return to their master or kill Pettigrew if his continuing existence became known. The most prominent evidence for their initial disinterest in revisiting their past and lack of faithfulness to Voldemort himself was how each Death Eater disregarded rumors of the Dark Lord’s survival as wishful thinking and instead took interest in potentially allying himself with the very person who had brought about his former master's downfall. Pettigrew thus began to hear many different theories regarding how Harry Potter survived the Voldemort's attack being made, the most persistent of them being that the boy himself was a great dark wizard. This assumption was one the frightened Animagus found hard to prescribe, but took comfort in such possible thought that he one day might get a second chance of world domination if he had Harry not only help return Voldemort to power, but also train him to become another, and greater, pure-blood champion. Because Ron eventually would eventually become best friends with Harry at Hogwarts, Pettigrew took it as an opportunity for himself to capture the young Potter and bring him to Voldemort as a welcome-back gift, which would dissuade the other Death Eaters from ever daring to claim him a traitor. But he never took this action during his time as Ron's pet, for Voldemort was not strong enough to protect him. Ron generally thought Scabbers as useless at first, since all the rodent did was eat and sleep. However, the boy did show his affections for the rat because of a strong sense of ownership and was very fond of him, thus keeping a promise to his family to always have company in such a long-living pet.

Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban

12 years later, when Ron returned with Scabbers from his second year at Hogwarts, his father Arthur Weasley, the Head of the Ministry of Magic's Misuse of Muggle Artifacts Office, won a Grand Prize Galleon Draw for seven hundred galleons held by the Daily Prophet wizarding newspaper for his campaign of raids on several wizarding households to confiscate dark or illegally enchanted objects. The Weasleys used the money to take the family on one-month vacation in Egypt, where their oldest son Bill was working as a Curse Breaker for the Gringotts wizarding bank, yet used spared amount of which he used to buy a new wand for Ron, whose previous wand was broken by the Whomping Willow the year prior and has been backfiring on him since. The trip was enough to put Pettigrew under hard stress despite Ron calming him for it, but he was able to get through the picture taken on this vacation with the Weasleys, which was printed on the front page of the mid-summer's Daily Prophet edition.

The timid rat Animagus assumed that no one would even conclude who he could be in human form when he returned with Ron to England for the redhead's third school year with Harry and their Muggle-born friend Hermione Granger, but was proven wrong. Eventually, the news of the trip reached within the walls of Azkaban, where Sirius Black was able to receive an issue of the Prophet from Minister of Magic Cornelius Fudge during an inspection of the penitentiary, and recognize Pettigrew's animal form in the picture when the article told him how long the Weasleys kept this rat and saw a toe missing on Scabbers' front paw. Panicking and becoming thin at the realization that Pettigrew was grasping the opportunity to bring Harry to Voldemort if news that the dark wizard was regaining strength reached his ears, the convicted dog Animagus escaped in his animal form (now thin enough to squeeze through the prison bars) and swam across the North Sea to mainland, bent on getting the traitor away from his godson. The Weasleys soon learned of this breakout once they arrived home as the bad news drove the wizarding community on high alert in their belief that Black planned to murder Harry in a mad attempt to bring Voldemort back. At that point, Scabbers began to become thin himself, which Ron thought at first was due to the stress of the trip, and then fear of Hermione's new cat Crookshanks, who saw that Pettigrew was not actually a rat, while Harry thought that he was finally reaching the end of his lifespan. In reality, Pettigrew was actually agitated by the news of Black's escape from Azkaban, afraid that he would find his treacherous former friend and finally avenge the Potters. While aboard the Hogwarts, he and the trio shared their compartment with Lupin, who was recently appointed the school's new Defense Against the Dark Arts professor and luckily did not recognize Pettigrew in his animal appearance as he was blinded by the belief that none of his friends would want to hide

he was eventually forced to reveal himself by Sirius Black and Remus Lupin, who were angry for framing the former for the murders. Wormtail told him them that he was forced to do it out of fear for his life, but Remus, knowing it to be a lie, then tried to attack him, but Harry defended him, which Peter replied that he owed Harry a life debt. But, before he can be charged for his crimes, Lupin begins to turn into a werewolf and, amongst the confusion, Wormtail escapes in his rat form.

Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire

After his and Black's escape from Hogwarts, Pettigrew had no choice but to rejoin his master, hoping that his company would protect him from both Black and Lupin. He went to retrieve Voldemort's wand from its hiding place, then traveled to Albania after learning from the rats there of a place in the forest where the creatures feared to travel, due to a dark shadow that resided there taking over and killing them while building up strength. Once nearing his destination, the desperate Pettigrew stopped at an inn on the forest border for some food, where he unfortunately ran into Bertha Jorkins, a Ministry of Magic witch on summer holiday at the same hotel. Although she recognized him, Pettigrew was able to lure her into the forest and overpower her, right before handing her over to Voldemort. Under torture, Jorkins gave them information that helped Voldemort make plans for an attack on Harry, including the Quidditch World Cup being held in England that summer, the Triwizard Tournament that was going to take at Hogwarts in the following school year and the continuing existence of another presumed dead Death Eater: Barty Crouch, Jr., who was smuggled out of Azkaban by his parents and placed under his father's Imperius Curse to stop him from rejoining the dark wizard.

Voldemort killed Jorkins and disposed of her body immediately afterwards.

In the last book within the Harry Potter series, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, he kidnapped Harry and Ron and held them hostage in a dungeon along with several other prisoners. After Harry mouthed off at him, he attempts to kill him but Harry reminds him of the debt he owed him and he hesitates, which makes the silver hand strangle him to death.

Trivia

  • Pettigrew is the true main antagonist of Prisoner of Azkaban because he initiated the plot by framing Sirius Black for the betrayal Harry's parents to Lord Voldemort and murder of twelve Muggles with a single Blasting Curse so that he could fake his own death and hide at Hogwarts in his Animagus form of Ron Weasley's pet rat to keep a close eye on Harry, all for the purpose of until he could bring the boy to Voldemort,
  • WatchMojo.com listed Peter Pettigrew as #5 on their Top 10 "Most Evil Harry Potter Characters" list.
  • He shares a similarity to Renfield. They are both extremely close to their masters and will serve them no matter the cost.
  • He is also similar to Dr. No and Captain Hook. They all lose a body part which are replaced by false parts but their limbs are of different dexterity and strength. Wormtail's silver hand has brilliant strength and possibly dexterity whilst No's hands are extremely strong but lack dexterity.
  • His actor Timothy Spall also plays Nathaniel, Queen Narissa's henchman in Enchanted.
  • He is also similar to Grima Wormtongue. Both have similar names, both are the pathetic henchman of the villain, and also both are presumably killed by a different character in the film than in the book.
           Harry Potter Villains

Death Eaters
Lord Voldemort | Severus Snape | Draco Malfoy | Gregory Goyle | Quirinus Quirrell | Lucius Malfoy | Peter Pettigrew | Barty Crouch Jr. | Dolores Umbridge | Bellatrix Lestrange | Snatchers (Fenrir Greyback & Scabior) | Corban Yaxley | Kreacher | Amycus & Alecto Carrow | Thorfinn Rowle

Other Dark Wizards & Witches
Salazar Slytherin | Marvolo Gaunt | Gellert Grindelwald | Gilderoy Lockhart | Herpo the Foul | Merwyn the Malicious | Ekirzdis | Delphini

New Salem Philanthropic Society
Mary Lou Barebone | Credence Barebone

Creatures
Basilisk | Acromantula (Aragog & Acromantula Colony) | The Dementors | Centaurs | Giants (Golgomath) | Inferi | Nagini | Charlatan