Horcruxes are one of the darkest uses of magic explored in the Harry Potter series. Voldemort split his own soul into pieces to ensure his own immortality, allowing him to survive his first death when his Killing Curse backfired from infant Harry. Throughout the series, Horcruxes became an increasingly important part of the narrative, since all of Voldemort's Horcruxes had to destroyed in order for Voldemort to die once and for all.
Given how important Horcruxes are to the story of Harry Potter, it is curious how little is really known about them. The information revealed in the series is limited and often vague, leaving many mysteries about Horcruxes, their history, their powers, and the methods of their creation and destruction.
Information from J.K. Rowling and other behind-the scenes sources may finally put some of these mysteries to rest, but they also create new questions. More information has been revealed about how Horcruxes work, the exceptions to their rules, and the history of how Horcruxes came to be.
Horcruxes have been around much longer than Voldemort, and they work in unexpected ways throughout the series. Rowling has revealed many details of how these items came to be in the wizarding world and the secrets behind them.
Here are the 15 Things You Didn't Know About Horcruxes In Harry Potter.
15 Voldemort was not the only wizard to make one
Voldemort used Horcruxes to great success, but he was not the first or only wizard to have used them. The first Horcrux was created by Herpo the Foul, an Ancient Greek wizard and one of the earliest known Dark Wizards. He most likely invented the process for creating a Horcrux, and he shared Voldemort's snake-like features.
The resemblance is not the only thing he shared with Voldemort, though. Herpo the Foul also bred the first Basilisk, and he was one of the earliest known Parselmouths.
These qualities associate him with Salazar Slytherin, likely making Herpo the Foul one of Salazar's ancestors, which would also make him one of Voldemort's ancestors. It is currently unknown if or how Herpo's Horcrux was destroyed or how he died, and it is possible he is still alive, at least as a spirit.
Although Voldemort did not make the first Horcrux, he may be the only wizard to successfully create more than one Horcrux.
14 Dumbledore was wrong about how to create them
In order to create a Horcrux, a murder must be committed. According to Dumbledore, Voldemort was using significant deaths to create his Horcruxes. Dumbledore based this idea on the two Horcrux-related murders he knew nothing about.
The first was the murder of Moaning Myrtle, which created the diary Horcrux. The second was the murder of Voldemort's father, Tom Riddle, Sr., which created the Gaunt ring Horcrux.
However, given the rest of the history of Voldemort's Horcruxes, Dumbledore was mistaken that the murders needed to be significant. The Slytherin locket Horcrux was created with the murder of a Muggle tramp, and the Ravenclaw diadem Horcrux was created with the murder of an Albanian peasant. Dumbledore was working with incomplete information and drew incorrect conclusions about how Horcruxes are created.
13 There may be other ways to destroy a Horcrux and its creator
Throughout their hunt, Harry, Ron, and Hermione go to great lengths to destroy the Horcruxes, mostly using Basilisk fangs and the Sword of Godric Gryffindor, but these methods may not be only way to destroy a Horcrux.
The Killing Curse may be effective against Horcruxes, since the Horcrux in Harry was destroyed by it. Since the Killing Curse requires dark intentions, it is possible that Harry, Ron, and Hermione were not capable of using it to destroy the Horcruxes.
It is also unknown whether a wizard with Horcruxes could be killed by falling through the Veil, the barrier between the living and the dead that claimed Sirius Black. There may be other methods to destroy a Horcrux and its creator that were not explored in detail in the series.
12 Riddle's diary was inspired by J.K. Rowling's sister
Both Ginny Weasley and Harry Potter were caught up in the responses from Tom Riddle's diary in Chamber of Secrets. The diary that talked back when Ginny confided in it was a disturbing element of Voldemort's plan. J.K. Rowling based this creepy idea on her own sister's diary.
Rowling explained, "My sister used to commit her innermost thoughts to her diary. Her great fear was that someone would read it. That's how the idea came to me of a diary that is itself against you. You would be confiding everything to pages that aren't inanimate."
Rowling added, "Now, the diary to me is a very scary object, a really, really frightening object. The power of something that answers you back... and you don't know who is answering you. And so that was always a very scary image to me, in the book, and I thought it worked very well in the film. You could understand when he started writing to see these things coming back to him, and the power of that, that secret friend in your pocket."
11 The Horcrux inside Harry could have been destroyed in Chamber of Secrets
In Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, Harry had to face off against the first Horcrux of the series, Tom Riddle's dairy. Harry managed to destroy the Horcrux by stabbing it with a Basilisk fang, but in the process he was bitten by the Basilisk himself. Harry almost died, but was revived by the tears of Fawkes the phoenix.
The power of the Basilisk fang to destroy a Horcrux raises a question as to why the Horcrux in Harry was not destroyed when he was bitten by the Basilisk. J.K. Rowling stated, "He didn't die! That was stated right at the beginning with the Horcrux. The receptacle has got to be destroyed. His body wasn't destroyed. He got a bit poisoned, and then he got the antidote immediately."
If Fawkes has not mended Harry, though, the Basilisk fang might have been enough to irreparably destroy Harry and thus the Horcrux.
10 There were other temporary horcruxes
In the series, there are seven named Horcruxes, including the accidental Horcrux in Harry. According to J.K. Rowling, however, these were not the only Horcruxes in the story.
Professor Quirrell would be considered a temporary Horcrux, although he would not meet the technical definition since he was possessed by the main soul and not created through the usual process. By this logic, anyone or anything that held Voldemort's incorporeal soul was, in fact, a temporary Horcrux.
These temporary Horcruxes held the main part of Voldemort's soul, which made these containers different from other Horcruxes. Voldemort's soul was able to leave Quirrell and exist in a spirit form when Quirrell was killed in the underground chambers. If these temporary Horcruxes are included, it is therefore unknown how many Horcruxes Voldemort had through his life.
9 There was controversy over the film's hunt for them
In the movie adaptions of Half-Blood Prince and Deathly Hallows, Harry, Ron, and Hermione were given almost no information about how to go forward with their hunt for Horcruxes. This created some controversy, as this was a change from the book that required a change to Harry Potter lore. The only Horcrux that they knew to look for was the Slytherin locket.
Since no other Horcruxes were mentioned, the film adaptions had to come up with some way for Harry to know the location of the next Horcruxes. Instead of having prior information, Harry followed the visions he got when he touched a Horcrux, which sometimes revealed other Horcruxes.
Harry was thus able to track the other Horcruxes down using his visions and other such traces of dark magic left by the Horcruxes.
8 Their powers are different in the books and the movies
The Horcrux hunt was not the only significant change to the Horcrux from the books to the movies. In the books, Voldemort could not feel when a Horcrux is destroyed. Voldemort had to check to see if all of the Horcruxes were safe instead of knowing by some psychic connection to them.
This Horcrux power is reversed in the films, as Voldemort can feel when a Horcrux is destroyed. When different Horcruxes are destroyed, Voldemort, Harry, and Nagini all seem to experience the pain of the destruction.
Therefore, the Horcrux creator and all of the other Horcruxes can feel the destruction of any one Horcrux. Both Voldemort's ability to feel the Horcruxes' destruction and the trace of dark magic left by the Horcrux made significant narrative changes to the final films' adaption of the books.
7 Harry should have been able to control the Basilisk
When Tom Riddle turned the Basilisk against Harry in the Chamber of Secrets, he claimed that Harry's parseltongue would of no use against the Basilisk, since the creature was trained to only obey him. This revelation was added for the movie and was not in the books. This statement is somewhat problematic in the story, though.
Since Harry is a Horcrux and contained a piece of Voldemort's soul, Harry should have been able to control the Basilisk. It is possible that this piece of Tom Riddle's soul was as unaware that Harry was a Horcrux as Voldemort was or only said this to convince Harry not to try.
Still, if Harry had attempted to control the Basilisk, he should have been able to do it. It could have made Harry's final battle in Chamber of Secrets much easier.
6 J.K. Rowling knows how to create them, but isn’t telling
In the books and movies, the full process for creating a Horcrux is never revealed. The story reveals that a murder must be committed, spiritually damaging one's soul. The wizard would then perform a spell to extract the damaged portion of their soul and contain the piece in an object. Little is known about the spell or any other steps taken to create the Horcrux.
J.K. Rowling says that she knows the process to create a Horcrux, but she isn't saying anything yet. All she has revealed so far is that a spell in involved and an unspeakable act must be performed.
She was going to reveal the information in the cancelled Harry Potter Encyclopedia-- and may still reveal more details on Pottermore-- but for now it remains a secret between J.K. Rowling and various dark wizards of her creation.
5 There's a wizarding fairy tale about them
In the collection of wizarding fairy tales, The Tales of Beedle the Bard, one fairy tale may relate to Horcruxes more than it seems. The Warlock's Hairy Heart tells the story of a wizard who removed his heart and stored it outside of his body with dark magic.
When he attempts to put the heart back in his body, it is so consumed with dark magic that it drives the wizard into a bestial state.
The ability to remove a heart and store it outside the body is considered impossible in the wizarding world, so this may be a metaphor for creating a Horcrux. Like the story, Horcruxes also remove a spiritually important part of the person and store it outside the body and dehumanize the wizard who uses them.
4 Daniel Radcliffe believes that the Dursleys might have been affected by the Horcrux
One of the most intriguing fan theories about Harry Potter suggests that the Horcrux in Harry affected the Dursleys during the time that he lived with them. Since the locket began to affect Ron, Harry, and Hermione negatively as they stayed in proximity to it, the Dursleys could have been so extremely horrible because they, too, stayed in close proximity to a Horcrux for a prolonged period.
J.K. Rowling has not directly commented on the theory and has revealed other reasons why the Dursleys mistreated Harry, but Daniel Radcliffe believes there may be some truth in the theory.
Radcliffe commented, "It’s definitely interesting because it sort of posits a world where these people only known to be a certain way. Actually if you remove him from the situation, [they] would have been quite a nice, friendly family."
3 Rowling compared creating a Horcrux to nuclear experimentation
J.K. Rowling compared the dangerous process of creating Horcruxes to the experiments of splitting the atom that led to the atomic bomb. Rowling stated about Horcruxes, "Something that people imagined might be able to be done, but couldn't quite bring it off, and then... and then people started doing it with sometimes catastrophic effects."
Rowling apparently considers the process of creating Horcruxes to have similarly grisly results, as well. She commented on creating Horcruxes, "There are two things that I think are too horrible, actually, to go into detail about."
"One of them is how Pettigrew brought Voldemort back into a rudimentary body. 'Cause I told my editor what I thought happened there, and she looked as though she was gonna vomit," she said. She is not sure if these details will ever be revealed.
2 Nagini may have been possessed by Voldemort's soul
Nagini was an extremely reliable minion for Voldemort, often undertaking important missions for him. Nagini seemed unusually intelligent and capable for a snake, even a magical creature from the wizarding world. Nagini could just be an unexpectedly intelligent creature and retained her own intelligence after becoming a Horcrux.
However, Nagini could be more similar to the diary, possessed by a self-aware part of Voldemort, which would explain Voldemort's trust in Nagini's assistance.
Nagini's missions for Voldemort undermine her main purpose of preserving Voldemort's soul, but as a self-aware Horcrux, she could instead have the main purpose of being a special weapon for Voldemort to enact his own plans without putting him in any direct danger, just as the diary was in Chamber of Secrets.
1 They make the soul unstable
The act of making a Horcrux makes the soul unstable, which is what led Voldemort to accidentally create a Horcrux in Harry. The fact that Harry was created by an unstable soul and not by the usual method made Harry different from other Horcruxes.
Rowling explained, “But I think, by definition, a Horcrux has to be made intentionally. So, because Voldemort never went through the grotesque process that I imagined creates a Horcrux, with Harry, it was just that he had destabilised his soul so much that it split when he was hit by the back-firing curse."
"And so this part of it flies off and attaches to the only living thing in the room. A part of it flees in the very close-to-death limbo state that Voldemort then goes on and exists in. I suppose it's very close to being a Horcrux. But Harry was not-- did not become an evil object. He wasn't-- he didn't have curses upon him that the other Horcruxes had," she said.
Can you think of any other hidden secrets about Horcruxes in Harry Potter? Let us know in the comments!