Peter Pettigrew may not be the #1 despised villain in the Harry Potter universe; that coveted title likely goes to one Dolores Umbridge, if not Voldemort himself. He is pretty much disliked by all, however, and he deserves most of the backlash that's aimed at his little rat form. Wormtail began his career at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry as a skittish, yet cunning, young man who saw opportunities and took them. He really didn't change all that much over the years, but merely shifted from a hero worshiping Sirius Black and James Potter to yanking onto the coattails of Voldemort.
As a rat, it's fitting that Peter's often misunderstood. Rats are clean, intelligent beings, and as bad as Wormtail is, he's also got a keen mind. Even if he looks like a ditz, he sure knows more about self-preservation than many other person in the series. Why else is he nearly the last Marauder standing? He's not honorable and he's not a good person by any means, but Peter Pettigrew is resourceful and clever, qualities that he seems to only employ in ensuring his own survival. There are plenty of other things people get wrong about Wormtail, too. He may be a wicked henchmen, but does he truly share the same core beliefs as Voldemort's Death Eaters? And as spineless as he seems, he's committed some of the boldest actions in the series.
From his age, to his status as Ron's beloved pet, here are 20 Things Everyone Gets Wrong About Wormtail.
20 Fred And George Didn't Know Wormtail Was In Ron's Room Every Night
One of the biggest “Gotcha!” moments of the Harry Potter franchise that fans love to cite is the fact that the Weasley twins never noticed Wormtail was in Ron's room every night when they looked at the Marauder's Map. Some fans think it's nuts that they wouldn't ask questions about a notoriously deceased grown man in their brother's room while others, who concede that the twins probably didn't know who Peter was, think it's awesome they likely figured it was another student and never heckled their brother over his hidden friend.
The truth is, as the twins solemnly swore they were up to no good, they likely never even thought to check on little Ronnie-kins. That, or Peter's name showed up as “Wormtail” and they thought it was someone's nickname or pet.
19 He Didn't Get Away With Picking On Snape
While most of the Marauders got away with teasing Severus Snape as a child (and later as a teenager), like Sirius Black, Peter Pettigrew did not escape Snape's wrath unscathed. Although Snape made it difficult for Sirius while working with him at 12 Grimmauld Place, at least Harry's godfather never had to be Snape's own personal slave. That's the fate that awaited Peter Pettigrew once Voldemort was back in power.
As Snape ordered Wormtail around in front of other Death Eaters, the embarrassment that Pettigrew felt likely mirrored the sweet taste of revenge that Snape experienced while having the former Marauder at his beck and call. To be fair, it could be argued that Snape got his retribution on all four of the Marauders, as he also provided information that led to James Potter's execution.
18 He's Not Always Violent
Most Death Eaters have a taste for violence, but Wormtail is a different breed of lackey. Many fans believe that Wormtail is just as violent as the typical Death Eater; he did take out a dozen muggles in broad daylight to frame Sirius Black, the very best friend he'd idolized for years. The thing is, Wormtail just doesn't have the stomach for violence most of the time.
Not only is he reluctant to get his hands dirty, but he even timidly suggests less violent means when accomplishing Voldemort's goals. Most of his jobs are of the caregiving and spying variety. Even when he ended those muggles, it was through an explosive blast and not an intentional spell like Avada Kedavra, where you need to mean it to make it work.
17 He's Also Not As Cowardly As He Seems
Books always warn us that nothing is ever what it seems, and although Peter Pettigrew seems like a pretty cowardly villain, he was actually brave enough to even land a spot in Gryffindor. Not only does he help Voldemort recover, bringing him back from Albania and milking Nagini to feed him, but he even loses his hand in service to his master. Make no mistake, it's all in service to his own selfish desire to stay alive, but each act took guts.
Peter is the only Death Eater that we know of who was sorted into Godric Gryffindor's house, which perhaps may refer to his character's deeper traits as opposed to his intense desire to join the popular crowd.
16 His Age
Like most of the Marauders, Peter Pettigrew has a different age in the films than he does in the books. He and his friends should have only been about 35 years old in Prisoner of Azkaban, but they were portrayed by actors a decade older, making them all appear much older as well.
To be fair, each of the Marauders had good reason to have aged prematurely: Sirius Black spent 12 years in Azkaban (the Wizarding prison), and Remus Lupin, a werewolf, experienced painful monthly transformations, leaving him scarred and more haggard-looking. Pettigrew himself should be a bit worse for wear after living as a rat for 12 years, but we doubt that it would have aged him by 10 years. If anything, having the Weasleys care for him during all that time should have kept him fairly healthy.
15 He's Not Ron's Pet By Accident
Would you choose the home of poor wizards with a bunch of rowdy kids for your place of residence if you were a rat? On purpose? Absolutely not. Between the wild Weasley twins, the antics of your average child learning how to care for a pet combined with accidents that happen as young wizards become acclimated with magic, not to mention the lack of the luxury and safety of being, say, a spoiled muggle's pet, it would seem like an unfortunate twist of fate.
It wasn't. Peter certainly picked the Weasley clan not only because they are a family who would never associate with Death Eaters, giving him an increased chance of safety, but because he could remain in the loop with Wizarding news, too. This allowed the opportunist to bide his time and plot out his actions.
14 He's The Reason Voldemort Came Back To Power
Many fans chalk Peter Pettigrew up as a minor, annoying, whiny character who causes inconveniences and is the reason why Sirius can't go outside to bark at the mailman. Not so; Wormtail was even more of a player in the rise of Voldemort's power than Severus Snape, Lucius Malfoy, or Bellatrix Lestrange combined.
As soon as Wormtail heard that Voldemort was alive in Albania, he made his way there and not only convinced the Dark Lord to take him back into the Death Eater fold, but pledged to bring him back to health and serve him forevermore. Without Wormtail's nursing of the weakened Dark Lord, there might not have even been a Voldemort to battle in the first place.
13 He's Not As Bad At Magic As We Think
It's often assumed that Wormtail is three portkeys short of being a squib, with Professor McGonagall in particular asserting that the “lump of a boy” was foolish, and that he wasn't as adept at magic as his peers. Even Voldemort found him to be the weakest of his lackeys, and there's no way Peter would have managed to become an Animagus without the assistance of his friends. Wormtail's also not a very honorable dueler, striking while his opponent is unaware due to his inferior skills.
While that's all true, we can't ignore that Wormtail has managed some pretty impressive magic all by himself. He did pull off a spell that took out a dozen muggles that left Sirius Black to take the blame. That's no small feat.
12 He Wasn't Originally A Death Eater
Wormtail doesn't have any true loyalties to anyone other than himself. That's why it should come as no surprise that he wasn't always a Death Eater, but originally joined the Order of the Phoenix instead. His joining likely had more to do with simply wanting to be with friends who loved and protected him than anything else.
Once Peter discovered that he would be useful to an even bigger foe on the block, Lord Voldemort, he quickly changed sides. We may never know how much conflict, if any, he felt over the decision, but we do know that Pettigrew would always choose the side that appeared to be on the winning team, not to mention the one that promised him the most safety.
11 He Probably Does Regret Giving Up The Potters
Many Potter fans wish for a Marauders series portraying a different time at Hogwarts, and if we are ever lucky enough to have that wish come true, perhaps we'll discover how Wormtail felt when he betrayed his friends to Voldemort. Even without that information, we can assume that he probably does regret giving up the Potters to the Dark Lord.
Even if Peter doesn't feel guilty over his involvement in his friends' demise, he surely regrets having to live and work for the Death Eaters, who all treat him much more poorly than his friends ever did. At least the Marauders, and surely Lily, all treated him like a human being, and once Peter was in thick with Voldemort, he must've had some regrets.
10 Peter Can Communicate With Other Rats
The rules of Animagi aren't clearly defined, thanks to such little time they've been given in the books and films. Even Rita Skeeter's Animagus was deleted from the movies, much to the despair of fans who missed that clever Hermione plot, along with her eliminated S.P.E.W. leadership. While we'd love a Marauders movie to help answer our questions, there are a few guesses we can infer based on characters like Pettigrew.
Wormtail can communicate with rats. We know this because he heard about Voldemort's survival in Albania through the rat grapevine. In another messed up turn of events, it's not only because of his fellow rats that Wormtail could even locate the Dark Lord, but it's because of his Marauder friends who made him an Animagus that he was able to do so in the first place.
9 His Cursed Hand Led To His Demise
In both film installments of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Peter Pettigrew's fate is left uncertain, with many movie fans wondering not only why he wasn't present during the Battle of Hogwarts, but what in the name of Merlin happened to him in the first place. In the book, we witness a dark comeuppance for the Wizarding's worst Benedict Arnold: his own hand makes him off himself in a moment of defiance.
Taking out yourself against your own will has to be an unfortunate way to go, and it's clear that the magical hand Voldemort made for Pettigrew was cursed to prevent him from turning traitor against his master. Voldemort likely suspected Pettigrew would defy his orders at some point and built in the macabre fail safe as a consequence.
8 He's Not An Incompetent Wizard
We'd like to think that Wormtail is very incompetent based on his actions and begging for Hermione, Ron, and Harry's help, but in reality, he's not as incompetent as he might seem. To some, living as a rat for 12 years seems like a really questionable thing to do, especially if you could master a few protective spells to conceal yourself or even manage to travel as a rodent until you get somewhere safe. But, it could also be seen as the ultimate cunning act of self-preservation.
Wormtail is also one of the wizards who captured Mad-Eye Moody, one of the greatest Aurors of all time who shouldn't have been so easily taken. To get the upper hand on such an experienced and paranoid law enforcement officer takes a fair amount of skill.
7 He Probably Doesn't Belong in Gryffindor
If the Sorting Hat takes five entire minutes to select which Hogwarts House you belong in, chances are that you could easily belong in another house completely. We could easily picture Wormtail chanting, “Gryffindor, Gryffindor!” while the Sorting Hat mused, “Hmm, but you stink of Slytherin, so...” Like Harry told his son, Albus, the hat does take your desires into consideration, so it's likely that it went with Wormtail's feelings instead of his true house, which is why he's the only Gryffindor we know of who became a Death Eater.
Pettigrew so desperately wanted to be included with the Gryffindors because he'd just met Sirius Black and James Potter, who were easily the most popular boys at school and would undoubtedly offer him the most prestige and protection. Also, both Sirius Black and Remus Lupin would have alphabetically been sorted prior to Pettigrew.
6 He Knew He Was Biding His Time With The Weasleys
Many fans are under the impression that when Wormtail fled and went into hiding as the Weasley family pet, it was completely out of fear and that he'd planned to simply hide forever. However, the fact that Pettigrew took Voldemort's wand and hid it for safekeeping all those years proves differently. He knew that his master would one day return to power and that if he were the one to restore the dark wizard's beloved phoenix-tailed wand to him, he would likely gain the Dark Lord's favor.
This makes Pettigrew a far less sympathetic character. While he likely still very much feared Voldemort and his Death Eaters, he still hatched some schemes of his own all the while.
5 He Gave His Life To Save Harry's
When Dumbledore informed Harry that when the young wizard spared Wormtail from pushing up daisies at the hands of his godfather, Sirius Black, and beloved Defense Against the Dark Arts teacher, Remus Lupin, Wormtail would then owe Harry a life debt, we all knew it would come into play later.
“Pettigrew owes his life to you. You have sent Voldemort a deputy who is in your debt... When one wizard saves another wizard's life, it creates a certain bond between them... and I'm much mistaken if Voldemort wants his servant in the debt of Harry Potter,” the Headmaster had said. “This is magic at its deepest, it's most impenetrable, Harry.” This is exactly what happens when Pettigrew allows Harry to escape at Malfoy Manor as he is compelled by his bond to save Harry, and it cost him his life in the end.
4 He's Not As Rat-Like In The Books
The ratification of Peter Pettigrew for the Harry Potter films was a bit too much, don't you think? In the books, we did see an old man with a slightly pointed nose, squeaky voice, and watery eyes. His voice was even squeaky like a rat's in the series. When Wormtail is revealed in the film Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, however, there's no doubting that he was ever a rat.
Director Alfonso Cuarón added a lot of detail to Pettigrew to make him much more rat-like, from ratty hair, extra hair hanging from his knuckles and nostrils, and even big rat-like teeth. He didn't want the audience to doubt that Peter had been a rat for the last 12 years of his life, or how unsightly he was as a human to boot.
3 He's Not As Dumb As We Think
An unfortunate side effect of being an unattractive character, particularly if you're a portly fellow, is that people often assume that you're not too bright. Fat phobia is one of the last accepted prejudices of our time, and while we hope it won't be forever, Wormtail is a casualty of the stereotype. However, Peter Pettigrew is one sharp rat. Just because he doesn't care who he takes out doesn't mean he's not cunning.
Peter got in with the popular crowd on purpose to stay safe at school and not make himself the target he knew he'd be otherwise. He constantly chose the side that would keep him safest, even nursing Voldemort to health, hoping he'd be protected forever as a result. How was Wormtail not in Slytherin again?
2 Voldemort Never Respected Him
Even if Voldemort found every one of his Death Eaters disposable according to his needs at the time, he usually, albeit marginally, respected each one based on their merits, which usually amounted to their pure-blood lineage, dislike for muggles, and willingness to do his dirty work. Despite the fact that Wormtail is one of his most loyal servants, bringing him back to life when the rest of his Death Eaters remain in hiding, he doesn't extend this respect toward Peter, despising him all the while.
Voldemort's disdain for Pettigrew is out of disgust for him as a person: he doesn't see him as a pure-blooded ally who believes in the cause, but as a weak coward who only joined for protection. He's still very much willing to use Wormtail, but he couldn't care less if his life is lost.
1 He Didn't Care About Purity
Prior to seeing Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald, most of us chalked Death Eaters up as having a dislike for those who weren't pure-bloods, but after seeing so many people flock to the charismatic leader, we all went, “Ohhh, so that's what happened...” A sinister, powerfully outspoken leader latches onto your insecurities and promises you a better future.
That's exactly why Wormtail joined Voldemort. He didn't give two tail twitches about the purity of anyone's lineage or else he sure wouldn't have lived with the biggest muggle-lovers in the Wizarding World, the Weasleys. His actions in becoming a Death Eater were completely out of self-preservation and fear as he simply didn't want to lose his own life, so he joined them even though he didn't subscribe to their beliefs.
What else did you notice about Wormtail in the Harry Potter series? Let us know in the comments!