ep 222

Episode 222: Tom Riddle – Train Ride of Insanity

The single most evil wizard of all time wasn’t born evil. Or, was he? What made him tick? Grab your history book and join hosts Rosie, Kristen, Kat, and guest Grace for an in-depth dive into the psyche of Tom Marvolo Riddle.

On Episode 222 we discuss…

→ Born of the Love Potion
→ Life at the Orphanage
→ Could Dumbledore have saved him?
→ Tom at Hogwarts
→ Becoming The Dark Lord
→ Horcruxes and The First War
Join us in Diagon Alley on September 1st!

To listen to the show, simply click the player below or direct download the episode. You can also subscribe to us on iTunes. For more information about the podcast and to find out how to be on the show, check out our Be On The Show! page.

Skype users can send us a message to username AlohomoraMN. And as always, be sure to continue the discussion below!

Listen Now: | Download


RECAP: EPISODE 221

On this recap we discuss…
→ Harry’s uncharacteristic naivety?
→ Mirror Rooms – The Chamber of Secrets and Room of Requirement
→ What really happens to Vanished bodily waste?
→ The Weakness of Voldemort
→ MemoryMort

Listen Now: | Download

  • DisKid

    I want to touch on Tom Riddle on what the impact the love potion and not being raised by his mother had on him. We do know that part of the reason Tom turned out the way he did was due to being conceived on a love potion as JK Rowling confirmed it. However, she also confirmed things would have been different had his mother raised him.

    This implies to me that the love potion causes birth defects. Even though Merope was not actually consuming the love potion herself, it’s so powerful that getting a whiff of it may be enough to cause birth defects much like taking a whiff of paint while a woman is pregnant even if she doesn’t actually consume it. In other words; it does seem Tom was always going to have a defect no matter what as he was, essentially, drugged in the womb not during the entire pregnancy.

    Since it seems to imply the birth defect is the inability to feel love, it’s probably a good bet he would always be, at the very least, a jerk. He may have even still been a psychopath as a trait of psychopaths is they have trouble feeling love, if they ever feel it. However, if Merope had raised him, perhaps he would not have been a psychopath who kills people. Despite what movies and media make you think; not all psychopaths are killers. The ones who don’t kill are often not good people who usually manipulate others, lie, and/or cheat to get what they want without caring if they hurt anyone’s feelings or put them in a bad position. They even *can* fall in love, it’s just doesn’t come to them so simply. Perhaps Tom was destined to be a psychopath due to side effects of a love potion, or at least a jerk, but he wouldn’t have been a killer had his mother raised him and he may have even felt love at some point in his life. Perhaps his mother would have been one of the few, if not only, person he loved in his life had she raised him.

    A path he could have taken is he could have been the next minister of magic who manipulated his way there and would try to take over Hogwarts and the wizarding world with whatever views he would have held had Merope raised him. Which possibly would have still been a dislike for muggle-borns given her family. Which does lead to another question I wish you had discussed on this episode: would he still have been the heir of slytherin had Merope raised him? I’ve already discussed too much to get into that, but that’s something I definitely wish had been discussed!

    • Slughorn’s Trophy Wife

      Maybe I am misreading you but I feel like you may be getting psychopaths and sociopaths confused. They are very different disorders. Have you ever watched the show Dexter? He was a sociopath who was taught to use his disability for good.

      I’ll repeat what I said to Lisa above:
      By definition a psychopath is: a person suffering from chronic mental disorder with abnormal or violent social behavior. Sociopaths are the ones who can’t tell right from wrong and have no feelings. Tom had many feelings…they were just all negative ones.

      • DisKid

        Nope, don’t have them confused at all. Psychopathy/Sociopathy study was a requirement on my studies of children who kill and mass murderers. Fun fact on Dexter: many psychiatrists/psychologists across the world are still debating whether or not Dexter is a psychopath or sociopath. I can’t quite decide myself, I think because the show mixed traits of them together.

        The definition you have on psychopathy, I’m guessing you got that from google? In general, google is a pretty accurate source of definitions. In the case of psychopathy, it’s not. Google is using that definition of psychopath from the Oxford Dictionary who, even though that definition has been dismissed by psychologists/psychiatrists, continues to use a very outdated definition of psychopath as they don’t actually dig into these definitions they just go by what they are told and once upon a time that was the definition of a psychopath. That definition is no longer supported by the American Psychological Association, the American Psychiatric Association, The British Psychological Society, nor the Royal College of Psychiatrists.

        Not to say they agree with each other on every detail of psychopathy, as it’s still a relatively new study they are still learning a lot about, but they do widely agree psychopathy is a personality disorder, they don’t have empathy for others but do have feelings towards themselves, they are socially manipulative, and they are not all violent but they are more likely to be violent. One phrase that used to be drilled into me was: “Not all psychopaths are serial killers, but all serial killers are psychopaths.”

        The difference between it and sociopathy is actually quite complicated, hotly debated, and I wouldn’t be surprised if they just do away with separating them one of these days when it’s further studied. It’s often diagnosed as: Anti-Social Personality Disorder these days as the terms psychopath and sociopath have become so complicated when it comes to differences.

        If it’s a topic that interests you; there’s many scholarly journals about anti-social personality disorder/psychopathy/sociopathy, and even some books that have been made available for read online. Just avoid any written before 2005 I would say and you’ll find how it’s viewed today.

        • Slughorn’s Trophy Wife

          Thanks for the clarification! I often got the two confused in my past and thought I had ahold of the differences. I see now that the terms and disorders are still undergoing change in the Psychiatric/Physiologic world and I have not been keeping up with it. Thanks for the education :)

          • DisKid

            It’s no problem! Honestly, the media doesn’t help with these two terms at all so most people get confused when it comes to them :)

    • ThatTimeRemusWaddiwasiedVoldy

      As far as I’m aware, Rowling stated that Voldemort’s conception under the love potion and his inability to feel love were merely symbolic. I haven’t seen anything directly from her that says the love potion itself affected how Voldemort turned out. It is an interesting idea though. However, I also think that if it were true, this would imply that children born under circumstances of coercion or rape would have something innately “wrong” with them. I find that incredibly problematic.

      • DisKid

        She did indeed say it was symbolic, however, she also said it was prejudicial to him in being born which did imply to me that he was developmentally predisposed to have issues with feeling love upon birth. I took her to be saying both nature and nurture played a part in who he is. Especially since Harry was raised in a terrible environment, but he’s never had problems with feeling love, and I feel like to her a key difference between those two is Harry was not conceived under a love potion.

        Certainly people can disagree with me, as she could have only meant environmentally rather than developmentally in the brain when it comes to prejudicial. But because she did say it was prejudicial at birth, I like to think she meant the love potion and not the coercion itself as that’s a problem. If the love potion is only symbolic, and not equal to a drug which had an effect on the development of his brain, that seems extremely problematic as then she’s getting into a very real issue in the muggle world.

        If it’s only symbolic and he wouldn’t have been that way at all if Merope had raised him; that sends a really bad message to the many children who were conceived under coercion, were given up by their biological mother, and either raised in the broken foster care system or were adopted by abusive guardians like the Dursley’s. If the love potion has something to do with it as well, that’s much less problematic as that’s equal to a toxic chemical having a profound effect on the development of his brain as that can happen in real life and isn’t standard of coerced conception.

        I feel like she would want to avoid problematically making it solely nurture as there’s too many people who were conceived and grew up like Tom did who have never had trouble feeling love. If she were to say to love potion caused an issue with the development of his brain and his upbringing made it worse that’s a much better message. Then by saying “prejudicial” that wouldn’t be saying it’s solely the coercion that played a factor, it’s the drug she used for coercion plus the fact that he was raised in a terrible environment.

        • Slughorn’s Trophy Wife

          The exact quote is:

          “J.K. Rowling: It was a symbolic way of showing that he came from a loveless union — but of course, everything would have changed if Merope had survived and raised him herself and loved him.”

          That leads me to believe that it was nurture, not nature, that had ‘everything’ to do with how he turned out. I’m not sure why you think that is problematic with the real world. Nurture is extremely important in a child’s development, no matter how they were conceived. Harry was deeply loved for the first 15 months of his life and that made a huge difference between himself and Voldemort.

          • DisKid

            I would agree with you, if the quote ended there. She further went on to say, in the same interview when she was questioned about the love potion, that it being coercion “there can’t be any more prejudicial ways to enter the world than as the result of such a union”. Saying he entered the world prejudicially lead me to believe Tom was already harmed at birth, meaning nature. And, perhaps I’m trying to defend Jo too much, but I just simply didn’t believe she would mean to imply children born of rape are prejudicially harmed at birth. So I interpreted it to mean the love potion is what harmed him. If she did mean it was the rape alone….I would keep that under wraps if I were her!

            I also went by some evidence in the Half-Blood Prince novel when Dumbledore was at the orphanage and Mrs. Cole told Dumbledore that Tom was a pretty unusual baby. This also leads me to believe he already had a different brain at birth as she basically said he didn’t act like a typical baby which I’m sure that orphanage got a lot of over the years.

            I think it’s problematic because if JK Rowling is saying that he was, basically, a monster solely due to his upbringing; she’s sending a pretty nasty message to the real life Tom Riddle’s out there. Yes, nurture is very important to the development of a child. No doubt about that. However, the reason why many psychologists/psychiatrists also believe there’s nature involved along with it is because most children who grow up with the same upbringing as Riddle do not turn into the monster Riddle turned into.

            I see it as problematic because if she is saying it’s all nurture by him coming into this world as a product of rape and him having a bad upbringing; she is giving off the wrong message to individuals who grew up in this same scenario. Not to mention, she’d still have explaining to do as most children who do grow up like this do not turn into unempathetic cold-hearted people. She’d have to answer why Tom was different from others. His birth and upbringing is, unfortunately, not unique both for his time or modern times. Only difference is his birth did involve a love potion.

            Now if she’s saying it also had to do with the fact that his brain didn’t develop properly due to a love potion, which I did interpret both due to Mrs. Cole’s comment and her quote on him being born prejudicially, that’s different as it sends a better message to individuals on both ends. It sends a message to people born into Tom Riddle’s situation that just because their upbringing was broken, doesn’t mean their brain is wired broken as well. It also sends a message to individuals who may have been born with a birth defect caused by a toxin, such as love potion, that it’s not the only thing that defines them either especially if they had somebody who loved them growing up. In other words; she’d be saying the way you turn out to be isn’t black or white due to how you were born or the way you were raised. It’s a combination of the two.

            Of course, she hasn’t really touched too deeply on what love potions can do to somebody so she may very well be a believer in nurture alone. Which is why I said anyone’s free to disagree with me. If she is a nurture believer, I do hope she realizes how problematic this can be and clarifies it very well before digging herself into a hole. I remember there was controversy with that interview when she first said it because of this.

            My question for her afterwards, if she said that, would be did the other babies in the orphanage who were born almost the same way as Tom aside from the love potion (I.E. an act of coercion and raised in the orphanage which wouldn’t be unheard of for London orphanages at this time) did they grow up to be “monsters” as well. If she said no, which she probably would, I would ask why. I can’t imagine she wouldn’t say something next that would imply Tom was born differently.

            I’d really love for her to dig deeper into love potions as we don’t seem to know as much about their effects despite how important they are to the series.

          • Slughorn’s Trophy Wife

            “Saying he entered the world prejudicially lead me to believe Tom was already harmed at birth, meaning nature.”

            I guess I’m not reading that quote the same way you are. I did come across it yesterday but the only meaning I derived from it was that there was no worse way to enter the world and it was very sad. I didn’t take it to mean that it had any direct bearing on Tom’s nature, so I don’t take it a step farther and think children that are products of rape have something “bad” programmed into their DNA as you seem to be saying Jo is implying.

            All Mrs. Cole said about him as a baby was that he hardly ever cried. It’s a bit odd but not so odd. If he were levitating in his crib on the other hand…that would be odd.

            The reason Tom turned out to be a psychopathic killer and other children like him did not? Individuality.

          • Right. What the quote means is that Tom was a child of rape. What worse way is there to enter the world that can possibly be more harmful to an infant? You, as an infant, are born to at least one parent who doesn’t want you and another who forced the first to have you. That is so wrong on many levels.

          • DisKid

            That’s why I said anyone’s free to disagree with me as “prejudicial” can have more than one meaning. One of those meanings is harmful or causes harm. That’s the meaning I took from it. Especially when Mrs. Cole mentioned him as a baby.

            Levitating in his crib I would have just brushed off because he’s a wizard lol I’m kind of surprised he never did something like that since he was shown to have more control over his magic than usual.

            You’re brushing off a baby hardly ever crying as if it’s not something to raise eyebrows. That *is* something to raise eyebrows, even in real life. Sure you’ve got babies that are quieter and only cry when their needs need to be met, but given how often babies do have needs that need to be met; a baby that rarely cries is pretty odd. Pretty sure Jo would have known this as she had three kids by the time she wrote this book. She knows they cry a lot given their small stomachs, out of whack digestion, ect. So far, in every case I’ve seen where an infant is rarely crying, there is something different about their brain. In one case, it turns out the baby had a stroke after birth and the doctors missed it until the mother noticed the baby wasn’t crying for food as often as babies are supposed to be hungry.

            I know you can’t answer this, neither can I, as we’re not JK Rowling lol but why was Tom the only one who had individuality? That’s not an uncommon trait. Particularly to someone brought up in an orphanage who’s taught to fend for themselves at a young age. That’s why I said if it is nurture alone, she has a lot of explaining to do!

          • Slughorn’s Trophy Wife

            I wasn’t using individuality as a trait. I simply meant that he was a unique individual, as we all are :)

            I would have found the crying thing more odd if she’d said he never cried. But some babies are simply less fussy than others. And since witches and wizards seem to have superior bodies to Muggles, his lack of crying could simply be attributed to that. Mrs. Cole was used to Muggle babies – not magical ones. Perhaps all magical babies cry less than their Muggle counterparts.

          • DisKid

            That honestly wouldn’t be good enough lol. She would have to explain exactly why Tom was so different from other kids in his situation who didn’t turn out like that if it’s all nurture alone. I know you don’t have the answer to that though, only JK Rowling knows that if she thinks nurture caused it completely.

            A baby hardly crying is very odd. Crying is the only way they know how to survive. Even less fussy babies cry more than a parent wants them too, especially at night lol the fun times! That is an interesting theory though that magical babies cry less than muggle babies. I would love to know if that’s the case! If they’re born with bigger stomachs, more in control of their bowls, get sick less, need less attention. If that is so, don’t we all wish we had a magical baby!

    • I do not believe a love potion causes birth defects. The potion messes with someone’s head, right? It causes the drinker to fall in-love with another person, only while the effects of the potion are in action. As soon as the potion’s effects wear off, the drinker looses all that infatuation. This is something that messes with the head. How would the potion effect the sperm of a man? Why would the sperm be effected and pass on some “love lacking” defect onto a child? That just doesn’t make any sense.

      Nature vs Nurture is a tough discussion. But Riddle is the heir of slytherin. He can naturally speak to snakes without ever having to learn that language from somebody else. He just knows how to do it. There is magic or genetics in him from his Slytherin ancestry, combined with incest no doubt, that created the child he was. A potion didn’t have any effect on him.

      • DisKid

        You missed a part of my post apparently! Lol. I never said or even meant to imply it was the sperm that caused birth defects. I agree with you, that wouldn’t make any sense! I compared love potion to a toxic chemical like paint where, if a woman gets a whiff of it while she’s pregnant, that can cause birth defects to her baby. She doesn’t have to ingest it, all she has to do is inhale it.

        Incest I have no doubt also caused problems as his family had problems to begin with! Him being the heir of slytherin I do wish had been discussed as I do wonder if he still would have been the heir of slytherin had Merope raised him.

        • Slughorn’s Trophy Wife

          Erm…where are you getting your paint sniffing info from? I have never heard of a woman taking one whiff of paint and it affecting her unborn child. Do you know how many nurseries mothers paint while they’re pregnant?

          Now regular alcohol, cigarette, caffeine and/or drug ingestion during pregnancy – that’s a thing. But Merope wasn’t taking the love potion. And Slughorn let a class full of teenagers inhale the scent of it. If love potion scent inhalation were dangerous to development, I don’t think he’d be pulling it out for a bunch of kids to whiff.

          I definitely agree that incest and Slytherin ancestry had effects on Tom.

          • DisKid

            I didn’t mean one whiff of paint alone, because I assumed Merope would have gotten several whiffs of the love potion as we don’t know how many times she had to give it to Tom to keep him going. Especially during the early pregnancy, but I think it’s safe to assume she got more than one whiff. I got my information from the American Pregnancy Association. They actually have a whole article about precautions to take while painting and recommend to have somebody else do it for you.

            If you’re wondering where I think she got the whiff from, it’s by brewing it. She can’t just make it appear out of thin air lol she has to make it!

            The teenagers are already mostly developed, just have the frontal lobe left to develop all the way, so it’s safe to say he probably figured they were fine…..if he even knows about it if it does cause development issues. If love potion does cause problems with development, I’m not sure how much the wizarding world knows about it. The fact that love potions are even legal at all makes me a little iffy when it comes to what the wizarding world’s view on love potions is.

        • While I see what you mean, Merope wasn’t the one inhaling any toxic chemicals. Tom was. This is why I brought up sperm. How else would the defects be passed into Tom?

          I don’t recall off the top of my head, but did Merope have her son after Tom left her? Was she still with Tom for the 9 months that their child was being developed? If not, then there is also a ton of stress and depression affecting the developing baby Voldemort. Love potion shouldn’t have any magical effect on a developing child.

          • DisKid

            So you don’t think she wasn’t inhaling any of the toxic fumes at all while she was brewing it and putting it into his drinks? That’s where I figured she’d get a whiff of it. She’s gotta breathe while brewing I assume! lol.

            Yes it was after Tom left her. It doesn’t say how far along she was when he left her, but probably either in the 1st trimester or early in the second.

          • Slughorn’s Trophy Wife

            Ok, I see what you’re getting at now. But since we have so little information on the love potion used (whether she purchased it or made it herself…and if she made it herself, what type it was) I don’t think there’s any way to know. And do we actually know that she used a love potion at all? Wasn’t that another of Dumbledore’s guesses? Couldn’t she just as easily have Imperiused him instead?

          • DisKid

            I agree, we don’t know for sure. JK Rowling is the one that has that information. I think we can safely say she used a love potion. When JK Rowling was asked about it in that interview, she pretty well confirmed it was a love potion that was used. I think if she had used the imperio curse instead of a love potion, she would have said something when asked about Merope using a love potion

          • Slughorn’s Trophy Wife

            Right! The quotes we’ve been discussing this whole time! No idea why my brain suddenly blanked on that…lol 😀

          • DisKid

            Happens to all of us! lol

          • Wait, this is what you are basing your theory on? The idea that Merope may have been inhaling fumes from a potion?

            Considering that the potion is one of love, which cause infatuation, I cant imagine the fumes causing harm in the way that drugs, cigarettes, or alcohol would. Not only that, but it’s just a huge stretch.

          • DisKid

            Doesn’t seem like a stretch to me at all since it’s pretty well known that it is a dangerous, powerful potion. I’m surprised, kind of like the hosts, that it’s even legal. It’s basically a drug that messes with your brain making you extremely obsessed, that’s a lot of neurological waves at work being messed around with in order to cause that. I don’t think it’s a stretch at all to think it could cause neurological problems to a baby’s brain being developed in the womb, particularly in the 1st trimester during it’s most crucial development time. Especially since it is shown that even the fumes alone cause attraction, so you don’t have to take it in order to feel some effects. The fumes being inhaled into a woman’s body and her unborn child getting a whiff of it; I don’t see it as a stretch at all since that can happen in real life to developing babies with toxic fumes. I really wouldn’t underestimate that potion when it comes to what it can do. I would be very afraid of it if it was actually invented!

          • Slughorn’s Trophy Wife

            Have you ever seen Willow? I keep thinking about the Dust of Broken Hearts during these conversations…lol. Though that did induce memory loss and was used for much more humorous means in the plot.

          • Slughorn’s Trophy Wife

            That’s a very good point about stress and depression affecting the developing baby! I hadn’t considered that before but it’s very true.

  • travellinginabluebox

    Just a quick comment on the time frame mentioned for the first Voldy war. In Philosopher Stone, first chapter “The boy who lived” Dumbledore says: “You can’t blame them. We’ve had precious little to celebrate for eleven years.” So I would assume the first war lasted for 11 years.

    • frumpybutsupersmart

      Agreed. If Voldemort asked for the DADA job in 1971 (though I’m not sure where that date comes from?), then he would already have started making a name for himself in the magical world by that point, if only for his extreme rhetoric.

      • Kat

        That date comes from when Lupin started at Hogwarts, because DD became Headmaster just before.

        • frumpybutsupersmart

          Oh of course! I can’t believe I didn’t think of that!

    • Slughorn’s Trophy Wife

      Yeah, I didn’t think he left Hogwarts after being denied the job and immediately began the war.

  • frumpybutsupersmart

    Concerning the discussion about love potions, I want to point out that, to my knowledge, memory loss isn’t one of the side effects. After Ron takes the antidote, he doesn’t need to be told exactly what transpired; it’s more like he realises it with a sense of dawning horror. I think it’s likely that Tom Sr knows exactly what happened during his few months as Merope’s slave.

    In addition, as far as I know, there is no mention of any Ministry restrictions on love potions. The only rule we get in-text is Dumbledore saying that Filch has blanket-banned anything from Weasley’s Wizard Wheezes, which happens to include their range of love potions. Love potions bought anywhere else would be perfectly fine to have at Hogwarts. Honestly, it’s terrifying that there are no laws about them.

    • ThatTimeRemusWaddiwasiedVoldy

      Agreed that love potions are a terrifying thing to have about without any restrictions. I get the feeling that Jo wrote about them without really considering the larger implications and the parallel with date-rape drugs. It seems like she intended them to be an element of humor- someone temporarily goes all soppy with affection towards someone else- without really addressing the huge problem of their effect in terms of consent. Sure, we get what Merope does to Riddle Sr. but it is almost approached as just run-of-mill deception, rather than all out rape, which is most definitely the circumstance of Tom’s conception. It’s quite a shocking thing to find in a “children’s” series.

    • I wish this point was brought up in the discussion. To lose memory after taking the potion is such a cop-out.

  • frumpybutsupersmart

    I want to talk about whether or not Myrtle’s death was in fact a murder on Tom’s part, rather than a more-or-less accidental death cause by the basilisk. It’s important to remember that there had definitely been multiple attacks on students – diary!Riddle tells Harry as much, and in the memory Harry falls into, Tom and Dippet discuss the attacks in plural. From what is said in CoS, what happened in 1943 is more or less exactly what happened in 1993. So, Tom had clearly been trying to murder muggle-borns for the entire school year, and it just so happened that Myrtle was the first one that he actually managed to kill instead of petrify. I think that’s why it counts as a murder against Tom’s soul. The murder may well have been opportunistic inasmuch as Myrtle may just have been in the wrong place at the wrong time; however, the only reason Tom was bringing the basilisk out of the Chamber in the first place was so that it would go kill people. She may not have been his premeditated target, but she was the closest muggle-born he could find, so he killed her.

    • DisKid

      I agree! I think it also has to do with the fact that soul splitting does seem to be psychological. It seems to be the splitting of the soul comes from your brain saying that you murdered somebody, you did it on purpose, you’re a cold-blooded killer. I base that on the conversation between Snape and Dumbledore when Dumbledore told Snape to kill him so Draco’s soul would not split. Snape said “What happened my soul?” then Dumbledore tells him “Only you know if it will split your soul to save a man from humiliation and suffering.” Basically saying Snape’s soul should be fine because Dumbledore’s death would be more of a mercy killing, not an execution. What Tom did was an execution. He brought the basilisk out to kill somebody solely for being a muggle born and that’s exactly what it did. He was responsible for it and he knew it.

      • frumpybutsupersmart

        Yes exactly! I love that conversation with Snape and Dumbledore, because I love how subjective magical laws can be.

  • Lisa

    If being conceived under a love potion makes one incapable of love then plenty of witches and wizards must have been incapable of love. I mean, I doubt Tom was the only child conceived under love potion considering how common love potions are.

    • Slughorn’s Trophy Wife

      I do think the love potion may have had something to do with his psychopathy but psychopaths are not incapable of love. By definition a psychopath is: a person suffering from chronic mental disorder with abnormal or violent social behavior. Sociopaths are the ones who can’t tell right from wrong and have no feelings. Tom had many feelings…they were just all negative ones.

      Also, perhaps the love potion pregnancy has a more profound effect when used on a Muggle, especially long-term?

      • Lisa

        I wasn’t referring to him being a psychopath (although he definitely is one) I was just extending JKR’s statement about his inability to love to what I think is its logical conclusion: if love potions damage a child’s ability to love then many magical children must be incapable of love. Of course that doesn’t necessarily make them evil because you can be incapable of love and not desire to hurt or dominate people.
        As for whether it was relevant that Tom Sr was a Muggle, I have no idea. It’s possible but she didn’t say anything about that.

        • Slughorn’s Trophy Wife

          Maybe there’s a different quote I don’t know about. This is the one I found:

          Q: How much does the fact that Voldemort was conceived under a love potion have to do with his inability to understand love is it more symbolic?

          J.K. Rowling: It was a symbolic way of showing that he came from a loveless union — but of course, everything would have changed if Merope had survived and raised him herself and loved him.

          It doesn’t say that he was unable to love.

          • Lisa

            Everyone seems to have interpreted that quote as if it means that he cannot love because he was conceived through a love potion, instead of seeing it as symbolic. It’s one of those fandom myths I guess. I doubted this quote even existed and was gonna look for what exactly she said about Tom and love potions but now you found it instead. My original comment was based on what everyone else was saying about how being conceived under a love potion takes away someone’s ability to love. But I’m glad to see what JKR said is actually a bit different.

          • Fandom myth is a good way to put it. It probably started as an exciting theory that somebody thought up and shared online and then everybody just liked it so much it became common head cannon!

  • daveybjones999 .

    I think the reason that you thought up for why Tom is considered responsible for the killing the Basilisk did, is correct. In college I took an introduction to criminal law class and one day we talked about what happens when pets commit crimes. The example used was that if a man trains a monkey to break into a house and steal something from the owners, the man is criminally culpable for the crime the monkey commits. So the man would be arrested for breaking and entering and theft, not the monkey. So therefore, since Tom was the one commanding, or training the Basilisk to kill people, he would be criminally culpable for the murder, and not the Basilisk.

    • Slughorn’s Trophy Wife

      Nice comparison there! I like it :)

    • Not just pets though, but if somebody shoots and kills another person, who did the murder? The shooter or the gun? Who was responsible for taking a life? Of course it was the shooter, he pulled the trigger. Tom released the snake. Tom pulled the trigger

  • Al

    A thought came to me when you guys mentioned how Tom Marvolo Riddle was just born with his name and his life (hence he is afraid of death).

    To grossly over extrapolate things, you could say Tom did to his name what he went on to do to his life (or rather his soul).

    That is to say he broke it up and contorted it into something unnatural under the false pretence that it improved him.

    If you imagine ‘Tom Marvolo Riddle’ as equating to ONE name (one full name) Tom broke up the letters to not merely create a new name for himself (Voldemort) but a full on title and declaration of that title (‘I AM LORD Voldemort’).

    Grammatically speaking he turned a name into a full on sentence, which is not what a name is ‘supposed’ to be like. Much like the soul is not supposed to be ripped apart.

    Running with this further, he also turned three words into four much as he divided his soul. But at the same time this made him ‘lesser’. Under his new guise his name boiled down to just ‘Voldemort’ or at most ‘Lord Voldemort’ (even then, that’s an illegitimately created title). So the three words of his full name became just 1 or 2 words, much as his soul ultimately becomes ‘lesser’ from creating the Horcruxes.

    You could even extend that to the fact that as ‘Voldemort’ or ‘Lord Voldemort’ he’s lost some letters in his name (in both cases he’s at least lost ‘I’, ‘A’ and ‘M’). Or if you really wanted to push it you could argue the loss of those letters is symbolic of him discarding essential notions of life and magic (such as love) in his quest to become immortal, but winding up again lesser for it.

    Finally the contorting of his name is in his mind making him more than what he was, and better than everyone else, but when you really think about it and take things at face value it really doesn’t.

    Whilst Voldemort destroyed his soul because it made him beyond human, it really just turned him into something far less and in the harsh light of day, a truly pathetic jerk who is just unfulfilled and angry.

    Similarly Voldemort contorting his name as a teenager into ‘I am Lord Voldemort’, insisting his friends call him that and then keeping that name well into his maturity when you think about it doesn’t make him look grandiose but at best just pretentious and at worst…childish.

    It’s something a teenager who wants to showcase how ‘hardcore’ and ‘bad ass’ they were would do. Even the adoption of a name which is symbolic because it has another meaning in another language is like something a teenager would think was ‘totally KEWL you guyz!’ This is somewhat compounded by the fact that it was a name derived from French, which is not only the most taught language in British schools but is also stereotypically viewed as ‘sophisticated’. So it’s like teenage Tom Riddle in his bedroom was writing in his diary trying to rearrange his name into something sophisticated.

    And now I’m wondering if Tom actually opted for a name derived from French because he couldn’t figure out something ‘kewl’ in English out of his name.

    “Curses I can’t get Lord Muggleslaughter Pwnage” out of my name. Maybe if I include all the letter s of ‘Thomas’ then I could…damn it no!…eh…maybe if I make some of it another language that’ll work. Yeah, that’ll be awesome! And I’ll make like I always meant to do that! Radical dude!”

    …It may not have happened exactly like that though…

    My point is Tom Riddle decided he’d be way more bad ass if he turned his name into an anagram for a declaration of his elitism and triumph over death.

    Meanwhile Harry James Potter and everyone else just went along in life with the regular unpretentious names they always had (or in the cases of Dumbledore and Harry and Malfoy’s kids, lumbered with at birth). Unlike Voldemort they didn’t have that same set of insecurities.

    • Slughorn’s Trophy Wife

      ““Curses I can’t get Lord Muggleslaughter Pwnage” out of my name.”

      LMAO!!! 😀 😀 😀

      I love this post.

    • Rosmerta

      Great analogy All! Who wants their teenage dreams & wishes as they mature anyway?!

      • Al

        I mean I do still aspire to become Batman someday but that’s just me…

  • Slughorn’s Trophy Wife

    Here are the notes I wrote on my phone while listening to this episode on a plane ride…lol

    If wizard’s names are recorded the moment they’re born, why didn’t a wizarding family track down and adopt Tom Riddle?

    Or if wizards (like Dumbledore) can inherently “sense” magic, why don’t some search orphanages on a regular basis looking for magical children?

    If Myrtle had not stayed on as a ghost, would Tom perhaps have vanished her dead body and continued experimenting with the Chamber/basilisk? Did she come back immediately? I think her death was a complete accident. In COS he says he didn’t try to reopen the Chamber because Dumbledore was keeping an annoyingly close eye on him after that. But if nobody knew that Myrtle was dead, he could have kept at it. Students mysteriously disappearing from Hogwarts isn’t THAT uncommon we know.

    Does anybody else wish someone could have extracted Tom’s memories before he was killed? I’d love to hear what he said to his father and grandparents before killing them.

    Up until listening to this episode, I thought perhaps Tom Senior felt bad for leaving Merope and his unborn child and that’s why he stayed with his parents and never remarried. But seeing it through the eyes of the rape and abuse he suffered at Merope’s hand, I agree with y’all that he was traumatized by those experiences and probably was never “quite right” again. I feel quite bad for him really.

    Were none of the Death Eaters the same age/generation as Tom? What happened to his classmate friends/followers?

    No speculation on what happened to Tom Riddle’s body when his killing curse rebounded? Disappointed 😛

    And I meant to ask this on the previous episode but I’ll ask it now. COS Chapter 17, page 315 (US edition), when Fawkes shows up, I found this to be an interesting line:

    “That’s a phoenix…” said Riddle, staring shrewdly back at it.

    Does this mean that Fawkes was not around during Tom’s years at Hogwarts? He doesn’t seem to know that Dumbledore had a phoenix or he would have said, “That’s Dumbledore’s phoenix”…don’t you think? Perhaps Fawkes doesn’t come into Dumbledore’s life until much later than I assumed.

    Great episode!! 😀

    • ThatTimeRemusWaddiwasiedVoldy

      In Slughorn’s memory, Avery and Lestrange are both named as two of the boys in the Slug-Club meeting with Riddle. So we know they at least were of his generation and stuck around to become Death Eaters.

      • Lisa

        Also, Dolohov is mentioned by Dumbledore as one of Tom’s “comrades” who accompanied him to his job interview. We don’t know if it’s the same Dolohov we meet in OotP, it could be a son of his. Likewise with Avery and Lestrange- I think the people in OotP were the sons of Tom’s “pals”. It makes me wonder how Voldemort could keep his true identity a secret if the fathers of some of his current DEs went to school with him and therefore know his real name and presumably also his less-than-noble background.

        • Slughorn’s Trophy Wife

          Yeah, I get the impression that they were his classmates’ sons as well – especially since Tom was 71 when he died and none of the Death Eaters described in the books or depicted on the screen seem anywhere near that old. Maybe Avery, Lestrange and Dolohov Senior were killed in the first Wizarding War?

          He openly discusses his less-than-noble background with his Death Eaters in GOF so I guess he’s not too concerned with keeping his heritage secret.

          • Feminist_Cat

            Since wizards don’t seem to have the same kind of lifespan as muggles, I always assumed those classmates were his future Death Eaters, not their children. The LeStrange mentioned could be Rabastan, to make it so Rodolphus was still around Bella’s age.

          • frumpybutsupersmart

            I always thought of Bellatrix’s marriage as more or less arranged, as she’s clearly in love with Voldemort. Since pure-blood families seem to be so old-fashioned, I’m sure an age gap of ten years or more wouldn’t be a bother to them. And anyway, Bellatrix was born in 1951 (according to the Black Family Tree), so she’s already nine years older than Sirius and his cohort. If Rodolphus was maybe ten years younger than Rabastan, and Rabastan is around Voldy’s age, that’s roughly a 15-year age gap, which, while creepy, was pretty much normal 200 years ago – their families probably wouldn’t bat an eye.

    • Loves these questions!

      • Slughorn’s Trophy Wife

        Thanks! My curiosity is never quelled…lol

    • On why nobody went to adopt Tom. I suppose there may be a few reasons why nobody adopted Tom. For starters, Dumbledore is able to invite Tom to Hogwarts, so Tom isn’t lost to the wizarding world. His location is known by someone somewhere. If word got out that he was a descendant of the Gaunts, then I imagine wizards would want to stay away. They were such despicable people. Also, it was probably hard to raise a family in those times. The 30s England, with the Great Depression and aftermath of war and Grindewald’s war, I would guess that most people were not in a position to take on an extra child.

      • Slughorn’s Trophy Wife

        Those are all good points. Though it took Dumbledore doing a lot of digging to find out he was related to the Gaunts, so I’m not sure that would have been an issue. Come to think of it, are there ANY adopted magical children mentioned in HP (other than Harry…sort of)?? That seems like quite an oversight. Surely it happens from time to time. And honestly, if magical adopting families were lacking, I’m surprised the Ministry never set up a special orphanage for magical children. They wouldn’t be taught magic until they got to Hogwarts but they would be raised knowing what they are and adult witches and wizards would be looking out for them.

        Magical foster care and adoption would, of course, be ideal. But a magical orphanage would at least be a step in the right direction – especially after Dumbledore hears how Tom traumatized some of the other children with his magic – you would think he would want to keep that from happening again. And the Ministry should be concerned about such children breaching the Wizarding Secrecy Act as well, come to think of it. Kudos to the wizarding world for apparently curing infertility but obviously there are still magical kids who need loving homes. Perhaps this was an intentional or non-intentional commentary by Jo on how the world at large typically views adoption to be the duty of the infertile – not something that child-bearing people should also consider.

        Or perhaps, because the wizarding community is so much smaller than the Muggle community, this really is a rare occurrence and there wouldn’t be enough children to warrant an orphanage. But if that’s true, it brings me back to…why did nobody adopt Tom Riddle? Surely there is at least one Molly-Weasley-type for every generation and if they were asked to take him in, they would with open arms. The Ministry could even pay the family if it were needed, as is done in American foster care.

        • I really don’t know my history, so everything I’m saying is a guess. Because this is during a time of war, I would just guess that there were far too many children in need of care. I just don’t imagine adoption back then being what it is today. People just cared less in general?

          • Slughorn’s Trophy Wife

            I’m sure you’re right re: adoption rates dropping dramatically during wartime. My post was stream-of-consciousness so I apologize for it jumping all over the place :) By the end of it, I think I had convinced myself that because wizards are a minority compared to Muggles, there wouldn’t be many of them in need of adoption – especially since it seems family members and god parents take in most magical children who end up parentless (like Neville and Teddy). So after thinking it through more, it ended up solidifying my initial question of: why didn’t a wizarding family adopt Tom Riddle? Most likely, he was the only magical child in an orphanage in the UK at the time. So surely there was at least one family with the desire and resources to take him in.

          • frumpybutsupersmart

            If we consider the magical world to be like a country town (around 3000 people – Jo said it in an interview in ’05, but we all know numbers aren’t exactly her thing), there would be a real sense of community to it. Like you said, TrophyWife, I think there wouldn’t be any need of adoption, because family members tend to stick together more (especially as magical people can’t exactly be completely themselves around most Muggles).

            However, I don’t think someone would have taken in Tom, because the Gaunt family seems to have slipped through the cracks of magical society. They have no friends, they’re incredibly insular, no one seems to know or care who they are. There was no one for Merope to fall back on when her father and brother went to Azkaban, so she depended on someone she coerced into loving her, and when he left, she was completely isolated. In the end I think you’re right, TrophyWife – there may very well have been a family (or a gay couple!) more than willing to adopt a magical baby, but no one actually knew about the magical baby.

            TL;DR Merope didn’t have family to fall back on, magical social services are terrible because most magical people don’t need them; therefore, Tom was just forgotten about.

          • Slughorn’s Trophy Wife

            Whoever is the keeper of “the book” the children’s names are put down in the moment they’re born (ostensibly) is a slacker 😛

            The Ministry needs to have a version of the X-Men’s Cerebro that they can go into and see/find all of the witches and wizards in their domain. If every area of the world that had the equivalent of a Ministry of Magic/MACUSA had a Cerebro, they would have been able to find Voldemort, Grindelwald and other hiding/missing witches and wizards too!

            Also all of a sudden wondering…since Merope didn’t have anyone to fall back on, why did she go to a Muggle orphanage to have her baby? Why not go to St. Mungo’s or hell, the middle of Diagon Alley! Then a wizarding family would have taken him for sure. We know she made her way to Borgin and Burkes to sell her locket, so it’s not as though she didn’t know those places existed.

            UGH! WORST MOTHER OF THE YEAR AWARD FOR 1926!

          • frumpybutsupersmart

            Now I’m just imagining a benevolent Charles Xavier looking for all the wizard kids as a favour to Dumbledore or something 😛

            It’s possible that Merope just knocked on the first orphanage she saw when she started going into labour. Other than that, I don’t really know why she wouldn’t go to St Mungo’s – unless she really didn’t know about it? She knew Diagon Alley was a thing, but it’s not like Marvolo would have taken her for checkups or anything as a kid, right?

          • Slughorn’s Trophy Wife

            Hah! Charles Xavier and Dumbledore would’ve been great pals! 😀 I mean really, isn’t magical ability a genetic mutation? Wizards just happen to look normal and be able to learn/harness many powers as opposed to the X-Men who are sometimes physically different and have one major power (though I know some have more than one). That would be such a fun cross over 😀

            I can understand her not knowing about St. Mungo’s but if she’d gone to Diagon Alley in labor, I’m sure someone would have taken her there. I don’t remember exactly where St. Mungo’s is, but I don’t think it’s far from there.

          • frumpybutsupersmart

            Yeah, they’re both in London, it can’t have been that far – Diagon Alley is on Charing Cross Road (which, admittedly, is a very long road), and St Mungo’s is “in the very heart of London”. Merope probably just didn’t think it through.

    • frumpybutsupersmart

      I don’t think Tom could have just Vanished Myrtle’s body and gotten away with murder. Students really don’t disappear from Hogwarts – it is a school, after all, and the teachers still have duty of care over the students. McGonagall, for instance, would have noticed if one of her students just stopped showing up for class. In reality, the only teacher I can see not noticing if their students had vanished is Binns. There’s no way a student can just disappear without a single student or staff member noticing and wondering why.

      • Slughorn’s Trophy Wife

        Montague vanished for months when the twins pushed him into the vanishing cabinet (before it was placed in the Room of Requirement) and nobody seemed to care at all. And Myrtle was not a beloved individual. I honestly think it would have taken quite awhile for anyone to notice or care that she’d gone missing.

        • frumpybutsupersmart

          Montague actually only disappeared for one day. The Weasley twins shove him in the Vanishing Cabinet and set off their Wildfire Whiz-Bangs; then the next day is the day where Harry has Occlumency with Snape and Malfoy bursts in because Montague’s been found in a toilet. And the way he said it – “They’ve found Montague, he’s turned up jammed inside a toilet”, rather than “Montague’s stuck in a toilet” – tells me that the teachers definitely noted his absence. I just don’t think there’s a way that an adult can just fail to notice a child under their care vanishing.

          • Slughorn’s Trophy Wife

            Ohhh, my bad. I was remembering how the event affected him for months and got that confused with how long he was actually gone for. In that case, yeah, the teachers would have noticed Myrtle go missing. It is still rather bewildering that nobody bothered to ask her how she died until Harry did…lol

          • frumpybutsupersmart

            I’m so surprised that no on actually thought, “Hey, let’s go ask this murdered girl what murdered her, that might solve the mystery!” It’s not like she was keeping the information close to her chest or anything, she told Harry as soon as he asked. It’s a serious oversight on the part of every single adult involved in that case (Dippet, the teachers, the board of governors, the Ministry, etc.).

            It’s possible that Jo was making a similar, though perhaps more subtle, point about people ignoring what they don’t value (similar to how Voldemort didn’t value house-elves’ magic and didn’t realise that Kreacher would escape, which led to Regulus turning against him). Maybe the adults don’t really take ghosts seriously, so they just sort of disregarded Myrtle completely. Or maybe it was to do with the fact that she was a teenage girl – a demographic that is often viewed unfairly by society at large.

  • SpinnersEnd

    THANK YOU, KAT! For mentioning that Slughorn points out that Amortentia is the most dangerous potion he shows the students. The idea of a love potion has always terrified me. It’s essentially a date-rape drug. It takes away your ability to consent to having a relationship, whether emotional or physical.

  • ThatTimeRemusWaddiwasiedVoldy

    I never got the feeling that Tom was abused by his caretakers in the orphanage. Bullied by other kids, sure, but I don’t think the text gives any evidence that that Tom or the other children were being mistreated by Mrs. Cole and her staff.

    In the memory of Dumbledore’s visit to the orphanage, we first meet Mrs. Cole and she is described as appearing “more anxious than unkind”. We learn that they are treating some of the children for chicken pox. It seems that she is stressed yes, but not that she doesn’t care for their welfare, as she instructs a girl to go care for the children while she meets with Dumbledore. She also takes care to verify who Dumbledore is and what he wants with Tom. She is cautious about just handing him over to a complete stranger, which I take as an indication of caring for the child’s well-being. We also learn from her that Tom seems to frighten the other children. Why would someone who allows abuse to occur in her orphanage be concerned that the children are afraid of one of the others?

    The last bit of evidence we get about how the children are treated is Harry’s observation that they “looked reasonably well-cared for, but there was no denying this was a grim place in which to grow up”. To me, along with the descriptions of the orphanage and the people in it, this gives the impression that while it isn’t exactly a fun place to be, the children are being given proper care. It is a dull and shabby place, and the children don’t have much, but their needs are being met, the sole exception being the unconditional love of an actual parent. I think the inclusion of this line is specifically meant to show that the children, while not in an ideal situation, are not in a neglectful or dangerous environment. It seems Mrs. Cole’s concern with Tom is that he does seem to be disrupting that sense of safety for the other children. I just don’t think these descriptions and attitudes would be present if this were a place where child abuse were taking place, at least not in the context of Jo’s writing.

    • Slughorn’s Trophy Wife

      This would aline with her Lumos work as well. Children develop better if they are given individual care from a parental figure than if they’re raised in an institution. They don’t have to be abused to suffer developmental consequences.

      • ThatTimeRemusWaddiwasiedVoldy

        Yes, very well said.

    • Rosmerta

      Yes, I agree, there is no evidence of abuse. Although to some degree, all the children would have been institutionalised. I think there may be been some confusion too with (mainly Catholic) orphanages or institutions​ where unmarried girls went to have babies and were kept in appalling circumstances (see film Vera and many more) The evidence that Tom was an unusual child stems even from babyhood.

  • Horned Badger

    Whoa! So last week on Mugglecast there was a conversation about whether or not it’s possible that Dumbledore stripped Grindelwald of his magic when he defeated him. Just listening to the Alohomora recap episode 221, the theory a fan posited relating to the Diary Horcrux stealing Ginny’s magic made me think that this could be an instance in the HP books giving evidence for the idea that magic can be transferred, removed, or stolen! Thoughts?

    • frumpybutsupersmart

      Honestly, I strongly disagree with the idea that it’s possible to strip a magical person of their powers. I think that the concept of a ‘life force’ is very different than whatever it is that allows magical people to generate and channel magic. To my view, it’s more an innate genetic thing, like having blonde hair or being really tall. So it would be possible to drain someone’s energy and transfer it to yourself; less possible to take away someone’s ability to do magic. (Plus, if that’s how Fantastic Beasts ended, it would feel too much like Avatar: The Last Airbender for me! It totally worked in that show; not sure it would work here.)

      • Horned Badger

        Lol great comparison and I totally agree. Just thought the parallel was interesting. But I don’t see a huge disconnect between someone’s life force and their magic. It would imply that someone can’t be separated from their magic without being killed. So, this doesn’t work with Grindelwald, but in the context of just Ginny give the diary life I think ti could still play.

  • Minerva the Flufflepuff

    Hey Grace, you’re one of my favourite ever guest hosts, I enjoy every episode you’re on and they should totally give you a job 😉
    Creep over.

    • She really is. She was the one on the Horcrux episode right? The Horcrux episode was one of the best ever and this one was excellent as well!

  • Christine Sarena

    I wonder why Tom’s murders in the Riddle house (in a Muggle House) as an underage wizard where not detected by the Ministry (like Harry’s Hover charm and his Patronus in book 5) . AND these were all Avadra Kedavra (!!) and Unforgivable Curses, which are sentenced with a lifetime in Azkaban (how is this in case of kids of 15, are they also going to Azkaban?)……Maybe someone explained already, but didn’t notice?
    Or if by chanceTom’s wand had been inspected in Hogwarts by Priori Incantatem, all the murders would have come to light…!?

    • Slughorn’s Trophy Wife

      They knew Morfin lived nearby and he confessed to the murders. Maybe Tom even used Morfin’s wand.

      • Silverdoe25

        I think he did use Morfin’s wand!

      • frumpybutsupersmart

        Yes, he definitely used Morfin’s wand. The Ministry arrested Morfin because 1) his wand was the murder weapon; 2) Morfin had a clear memory of committing the murders (though this was planted by Tom); and 3) Morfin had previously attacked Tom Sr. I don’t understand why Tom’s Trace didn’t alert the Ministry, though …

        • I don’t think the trace is on the wizard himself, but on the household. That is why Harry gets in trouble for Dobby’s magic. If magic is detected in a place where it’s not supposed to be used, they just assume it’s the underage wizard doing the magic.

          The Weasley children most definitely get away with using magic outside of school. They probably don’t have a trace on them

          • ousley

            I always took it as a “wizard child living with Muggles” trace; there shouldn’t be magic detected in that space… Except we also see quite a few wizards use magic at the Dursleys without further trouble. So who knows.

      • Christine Sarena

        Yes indeed, still even though if Tom used Morfin’s wand, I wonder how and if the spells an underage wizard casts outside school are detected.
        Dobby cast the Hover charm at the Dursley house in book 2 and the Ministry registered the charm, supposing it was Harry, and there was not even a wand involved, so if Tom cast the killing curses it should have been noticed in the same way?

        • frumpybutsupersmart

          See, this confuses me too. My understanding is that the Ministry is alerted every time someone in the vicinity of an underage magic-user actually uses magic. That’s why Harry got blamed for Dobby’s Hover Charm – Dobby was close enough to Harry that Harry’s Trace sensed it and alerted the Ministry. The Ministry doesn’t know *who* did the magic, and since Harry is the only wizard living in the house, he gets the blame. So it makes no real sense that the Ministry in the 1940s wouldn’t have thought, “Hey, why is there an underage wizard hanging around Little Hangleton?” Because there aren’t any magical families there that we know of, so why would there be a Trace there?

          Anyway, thinking harder about it, there are several options.
          1) Jo just forgot about the Trace. Unlikely, but possible maybe?
          2) Jo hadn’t figured out in her head how the Trace worked yet, as it isn’t mentioned by name until DH. Also unlikely, knowing how far ahead she plans.
          3) Tom actually knew of a way to “deactivate” his Trace in order to commit the murders without anyone knowing he’d been there.
          4) Tom was over the age of 17 when he murdered his Muggle family. I haven’t read HBP in over two years, so I’m a bit fuzzy on the timeline; please correct me if I’m wrong, but I don’t think there are real, solid dates given, or even something that we can extrapolate from.
          5) The Trace hadn’t been invented yet. Personally I think this is highly unlikely; I think it was likely that the Trace was invented around the time that the International Statute of Secrecy was implemented, to assist magical governments with keeping tabs on magical kids who can’t control their powers.

          I think 3 or 4 is most likely, but someone should definitely ask Jo this on Twitter or something.

          • Christine Sarena

            I agree with your comment and like options 1-5. Obviously Tom was in his 5th year (mentioned in Episode 222) in Hogwarts when he murdered his father and grandparents, so under the age of 17. I think Tom found a way to “deacivate” his trace, as you called it.

          • frumpybutsupersmart

            That’s what I get for slacking off on rereads 😛 And apparently not paying attention during the episode. Busy year for Tom though – opens the Chamber of Secrets and commits murder during school term, then takes a nice break over the summer with a little patricide.

          • HowAmIGoingToTranslateThis

            one more option: the person responsible in the ministry wasn’t paying attention to the location when the trace alerted them that unforgivable curses had been used around an underage wizard, because they were distracted by the nature of the curses. The magical community in Britain was not affected as much by Grindelwald’s attacks, so unforgivable curses were not used as often as we see them used in the wizarding wars. Three death curses in a row in a muggle area, the ministry employee on duty that day must have freaked out.

  • Christine Sarena

    If Karma is a fact, meaning that the soul is reborn on the material plane for many many lifetimes to reach perfection, the soul is attracted to parents and invironment where his it finds opportunities to learn the next life-lessons. That means that Tom was born to Tom sen. and Merope because of his own actions in the past (past lifetimes). The circumstances under which he was conceived and born might look bad from the outer view, but still presented a whole variety to choose from. In Tom’s case, he chose the dark side.

  • Something I brought up in another comment that I believe is important to discuss when looking at Tom Riddle.

    Riddle can talk to snakes. We know that this means he is a Parselmouth. What is interesting about this is that most children need to learn how to speak from other people. Nobody is there teaching Tom to speak Parselmouth. This is some sort of genetic attribute passed down as a result of simply being an heir to Slytherin. This is a big deal! We question why Tom is such a strange child. Is it because he was conceived under a love potion? No, that doesn’t make any sense. Tom is a Slytherin! He has inherited some sort of genetic skill to speak to snakes. What else could he have inherited from his ancestry? As a baby, he barely cried. Is the Slytherin family so proud of themselves that they refuse to show weakness, even as infants? Is that a genetic property that could be passed on, just as speaking to snakes somehow is?

    I think that his ancestry and the effects that it has on him is an important discussion left out of the episode.

    • Slughorn’s Trophy Wife

      Oooo, I like this line of thought! Plus, the fact that Merope was the product of near-incest herself…maybe that warped the “Slytherin genes” even further? As a reminder from HBP:

      “Marvolo, his son, Morfin, and his daughter, Merope, were the last of the Gaunts, a very ancient Wizarding family noted for a vein of instability and violence that flourished through the generations due to their habit of marrying their own cousins.”

      We know that not all descendants of Slytherin were strange or evil. We have Isolt Sayre and her mother as an example of that. But like Slytherin house itself…while not all sorted into Slytherin are evil…it does appear that the majority of them are jerks.

      • You just keeping bringing up great points! Do you believe the love potion had any effect on baby Voldemort? I think the ideas we have both shared are plenty to explain why Tom was such an odd child and why he might not have the ability to love. The love potion doesn’t have to be a part of it. It was a device used on Tom’s father, not on Tom himself.

        • Slughorn’s Trophy Wife

          I agree with you that the love potion had no effect on Tom. I think you’re right that we’ve shown that he already had enough strikes against him that effects from love potion are unnecessary to explain his psychosis. And according to Jo, the biggest strike was Merope dying and not raising and loving him herself.

  • Where is the list of upcoming episodes?

    • ThatTimeRemusWaddiwasiedVoldy

      If you go to the Be On the Show page, there is a list of upcoming topics to select. I don’t know if they are listed somewhere else as well though.

  • Stephen Hauser

    loved the show and totally died laughing when you kept mentioning Tom Riddle going shopping for items. When you mentioned Tom Riddle already having the built in community waiting for a leader to take their ideology one step further. It reminded me of Adolf Hitler, anti-semitism was already present in Germany prior to him gaining power. Hitler tapped into that anti-semitism and sadly the rest is history. You could use the same example with the current US president Donald Trump, he tapped into the populism and anti-government feeling amongst the population and rode it to the white house. Just a few thoughts, love the show and keep it up.

  • frumpybutsupersmart

    I had a thought while listening, when the hosts were discussing Grindelwald in relation to Voldemort. It made me think of how charming and charismatic both of these villains are, and that while Tom charmed every teacher at school, Dumbledore never fell for it – probably because he’d already been taken in once by a charming sociopath …

    • Slughorn’s Trophy Wife

      Good catch!

      • frumpybutsupersmart

        Thanks! 😀

  • DoraNympha

    Thank you! Love potions are NOT some cutsey potion, I’m so horrified by how it’s shown in the books most of the time! Plus, have you noticed it’s always girls that resort to it? It’s a date rape drug, isn’t it kind of a misrepresentation of how that goes in real life? Women are more often victims of those rather than users, it’s odd that in fairy tales and HP it seems to be a girls’ thing, in the shop and in GoF and HBP too. (Or was that Fred and George’s way of discouraging boys from buying the stuff? Since most would not want to buy a girly-pink potion bottle from the WonderWitch section?)

    • frumpybutsupersmart

      Yeah, and apparently Molly made a love potion when she was a teenager?! In PoA, she’s telling Hermione and Ginny about it and “all three of them were rather giggly”. This is really not something to giggle at!

      • Slughorn’s Trophy Wife

        I’d forgotten about that! Shame shame Molly!

    • What is Rowling trying to say with love potions? Women are desperate for love while men are not? Women are crazier when it comes to love?

      • DoraNympha

        We are, didn’t you know? And we all like pink stuff. That’s why Fred and George market love potions that way. It’s just a fact that all women like pink and would use love potions to get their crush to like them. Duh.

        And the consequences? Voldemort, of course.

      • Slughorn’s Trophy Wife

        Obvi! Boys only care about Quidditch! lol

    • ousley

      I’ve always found the “love potion” thing quite odd too. In the context of the usage in the school, I think it’s meant to be silly and cutesey crushes without any sexual assault involved. But in the context of using it on someone for years and raping them while they’re under the influence (and forcing them to sire an unwanted child)… That’s disturbing and a whole different level.

      She handles the subject of rape much differently in her Galbraith works. She clearly understands the unfortunate after effects of rape, the PTSD thereof, the feelings of the victim that never fully go away, that can come to mind at unfortunate times.

      It’s an odd progression in her writing, but it seems she has definitely made an effort to portray it as a very serious subject now.

  • frumpybutsupersmart

    Rosie – just wanted to say that A Little Princess was one my favourite novels when I was a kid (still is!) and I LOVED the reference 😀

    • Slughorn’s Trophy Wife

      And it’s an EXCELLENT Shirley Temple movie 😀

  • DoraNympha

    The orphanage doesn’t necessarily have to be in Vauxhall because little Riddle says he knows his way around London alone.

  • ousley

    For some reason, I had never really thought about the fact that Tom would have graduated around the time that Grindelwald was defeated. The final Fantastic Beasts movie should have a Marvel-style after-credits scene that’s Tom on the Slytherin common room writing “Tom Marvolo Riddle” with his wand and rearranging it to “I Am Lord Voldemort” and a red glimmer in his eyes.

    • Rosmerta

      Like this, just a little nod – unless Tom did meet Grindelwald?!

    • That would be a great little tease. Unfortunately, based off of the quality of the first Fantastic Beasts movie, we will probably get a convoluted little story involving young Riddle and Grindewald having some sort of relationship. Teacher to Student. This will somehow explain why Tom is so “odd.” and it will be horrible.

    • Slughorn’s Trophy Wife

      OMG ousley!!! Now I want this SO BAD and will be disappointed if it doesn’t happen!! LOL

      • ousley

        If they do, y’all are my witness that I came up with it and I’ll share some of the money I get from selling out of court with WB. 😉

  • Rosmerta

    Awesome episode and comments as usual! Alohomora fans are amazing!
    Just a couple of points that I haven’t seen in the comments so far
    1. Timeline
    On the podcast, you talked about Dumbledore still being affected by his disastrous relationship with Grindelwald, but wasn’t that years before? When D&G where teenagers? And Dumbledore is in his 40s when he visits Tom at the orphanage
    2. Where did Tom live after leaving Hogwarts? Above the Borgin & Burke’s shop?!
    3. Why did he take so long in Albania/Romania (which was it?!) 10 years…he could have recruited a whole European army! Did he visit Grindelwald abd use his charm to get tips on world domination?!

    • frumpybutsupersmart

      With regard to Dumbledore still being affected by his relationship with Grindelwald – you have to remember that it affected him for the rest of his life. His guilt over being the indirect (and possibly direct) cause of his sister’s death wasn’t something he ever got over. He refused to have a romantic relationship with anyone ever again, just in case he got blinded by affection; and was still very closed-off and private when it came to close friendships. He doesn’t seem to have many close friends, only pawns that he uses for his Plan. I think only McGonagall (and maybe Newt, given the new intro to Fantastic Beasts) ever knew exactly what happened with him and Grindelwald and his siblings. That relationship and its costs scarred him for life, so it’s not surprising that he was still being affected thirty years after the fact.

      • Slughorn’s Trophy Wife

        In 1938, Dumbledore still had not faced nor defeated Grindelwald. So I think it was still affecting him on a daily basis pretty hard.

    • When Voldemort kills Grindewald in Book 7, Grindewald withholds the information that Voldemort is after. Grindewald is protecting Dumbledore/the world in this moment. I don’t think the 2 dark wizards ever got together before this.

    • Silverdoe25

      Thank you for bringing up this point about the disastrous Dumbledore/Grindelwald relationship. I do understand that Albus was affected by Ariana’s death for the rest of his life, but 30+ years have passed since the actual event. He knew Grindelwald for “a couple of months” while he was 17. By the time he visits Tom in the orphanage, he is nearly 50. While I agree that Dumbledore wasn’t as nurturing toward Tom as he could have been, I can’t subscribe to the notion that he’s still angry. It seems like ever since Fantastic Beasts, people seems unsure of where to place Ariana’s death in the timeline. Maybe Dumbledore just drew the short straw and had to run around to all the Muggleborns that year in order to introduce them to the magical world. Really cuts into your summer vacation!

    • Lisa

      IIRC he hid in Albania when he was only a spirit so he wouldn’t have had the energy to raise an army. Not to mention that he had to keep a low profile because as he says himself the Aurors were still looking for him.

      • Rosmerta

        Not the post James/Lilly murder, before then – what happened after he left Borgin & Burke’s? Circa 10 years to find the diadem?

        • Lisa

          I don’t think he was in Albania then. At least I don’t remember that. But at that point he still wanted to pretend to be a decent guy because when he asked Dumbledore for the teaching post there were only rumors about his misdeeds, nothing confirmed. He wasn’t a Dark Lord yet.

          • Rosmerta

            My mistake, I thought there was some doubt about missing time in Europe, after visiting Hogwarts? Will have to relisten to podcast (not a chore!)

          • Slughorn’s Trophy Wife

            The diadem was hidden in Albania, so he spent time there before and after killing the Potters. It’s hard to imagine it taking him 10 years to find it but it was hidden in a tree of all places…couldn’t have been easy.

          • Rosmerta

            True but you’d think Rowena would have chosen a significant one!

          • Slughorn’s Trophy Wife

            Actually it was her daughter, Helena, who hid it after running away from her mother (and stealing the diadem from her). Rowena and Helena were from Scotland so I have no idea why she ran away to Albania but the Bloody Baron caught up with her there and killed her. Though, I’d forgotten that Helena’s ghost told young Tom Riddle where it was hidden. Maybe she wasn’t very specific though. I imagine there are many trees in Albania 😉

          • Rosmerta

            Thank you, I stand corrected. And yes, why Albania?!

  • frumpybutsupersmart

    About the discussion on Voldemort’s looks and his deliberate self-mutation – I wanted to say that he probably stopped caring about being able to manipulate people once he got powerful enough to coerce them instead. We know he doesn’t value love as an emotion so why bother looking good so that he himself is beloved? He thinks that fear of someone is a much better way to inspire loyalty than love, which is what ultimately caused his downfall.

    Also, to your talk about whether Tom was abused and that’s why he doesn’t desire a physical relationship – plenty of people don’t desire sex or relationships without any past trauma in their lives. He was probably just asexual. This could also go back to the fact that his mother died because of her unrequited love. He saw love as a weakness that can be exploited by enemies (as he himself does on multiple occasions), and refused to indulge in anything that could weaken him.

    PS – I hope you guys pick a happy chapter next time, cause the last few episodes have been super-serious!

    • Lisa

      Agreed that he stopped trying to charm people once he became powerful. That was just something he used as a teen when he didn’t have that much power especially over authority figures such as teachers or care-takers (since we know he wasn’t exactly charming to the other kids…).

      I don’t think we have enough info to say he doesn’t desire a physical relationship. There’s no mention in the books of anyone’s sex life especially as teenagers so there would be no point to Dumbledore showing Harry a memory where a girl shags Tom in the Slytherin dorm. Not to mention how creepy that would be… I think he would see sex as power, definitely, and not as a weakness. We’re told he was a very good looking boy as a teenager and I’m sure he got plenty of attention from the ladies. I would imagine that plenty of rumours would start going around if he himself never gave these girls any attention. I can see him having sex just to see what the fuss is all about, or in order to dominate someone, or just because it would raise too many suspicions not to do it.

      • frumpybutsupersmart

        These are great points and I actually think you’ve changed my mind lol. I can totally see him being the kind of douche who sleeps with someone then just sneers at them the next time he talks to them.

        • Sex is an activity. It’s like playing a sport. There does not have to be any love involved. It’s just something you do. Recreation. Do we think Voldemort ever played Chess? Ever read fiction? I’m sure he had instinctual desires to procreate. He just never loved the person he was bumping uglies with.

  • So there is still disagreement on how much soul is in each horcrux?!? I’d just like to say that Kat’s theory doesn’t sit well with me. I don’t see why splitting a soul would mean you are splitting it in half each time, leaving a measurable portion in each object. We are talking about a soul here, not a pizza. What reason do we have to suspect that this is how making a horcrux works? A soul is magical. I think we should observe it, not as a physical object, but something fluid and non-existant. You would not be able to physically hold a soul in your hands. It’s there, we all have a soul, but it’s not something we can touch.

    Killing is the act that splits the soul. Snape kills Dumbledore, so in theory Snape’s soul is split. But Snape doesn’t crate a Horcrux. Snape has a damaged soul, but is it split in half? 2 even portions of soul rolling around inside Snape? I just don’t think so. I would think that instead Snape just has a damaged soul. I mean, what being or magic is sitting there measuring out precisely half of a soul?

    • ousley

      I picture it like the evil murder version of putting a thought in the pensive. The original person would still have their soul; a sort of metaphysical piece or copy exists in the horcrux and has the ability to become a full piece of the host again. It isn’t a measurable or physical piece of soul.

      Basically he’s backing up his hard drive with the ability to put the files back on the original.

      • Yes! I think this is pretty much what I was thinking as well. You just said it much better!

        • Silverdoe25

          I have never subscribed to the fractional tearing of the soul. I think the idea must have come from the text stating that his soul was “split”. I more pictured some it it being ripped off each time, but not a measured amount.

          • HowAmIGoingToTranslateThis

            that’s what I picture, too, I prefer to call it the candy-floss theory.

  • HowAmIGoingToTranslateThis

    I’ve wondered if any of the witches and wizards in minor roles we encounter in the books have ever had the DADA teaching post during the time the curse on the position was active.

    Amelia Bones would certainly have been capable to do the job, the author of “The dark forces – a guide to self-protection” Quentin Trimble might have spent a year teaching, or Dawlish, before he got accepted in the auror departmen.

  • HowAmIGoingToTranslateThis

    On the discussion where Tom got the idea from, that a person who is magical can be immortal: Was he introduced to any religious beliefs? He may have learned about them through the orphanage staff or at school, and there are interesting ideas and stories about superhuman powers, life after death and resurrection to be discovered in most of the widely practised religions in Britain.

    • Rosmerta

      Not sure about Tom’s religious education, although it’s possible the orphanage was a traditional Christian one. The most obvious immortal is Nicholas Flammel, though he may not have known about him earlier, otherwise why not simply steal the philosopher’s stone?

      • frumpybutsupersmart

        I think he probably would have learned about Nicholas Flamel sometime during the course of his education. But as for why he didn’t steal the Philosopher’s Stone – Harry asks Dumbledore that question in HBP. Dumbledore says that Voldemort would have been repulsed by the idea of being dependent on something else for his immortality, because he thinks that trusting anyone or anything other than himself is a stupid move. He would have to have kept drinking the Elixir of Life; whereas, with Horcruxes, he could stick them somewhere out of the way, somewhere he could protect with all his magical ability (which of course no one could ever get through, because Voldemort is the best wizard ever /sarcasm), and pretty much forget about them.

        • Rosmerta

          Yes, sorry I had forgotten that. But it does as add to the complication of the character, thelat he’d rather live half lives rather than a happy on. No happy ever after for Voldemort, definitely quantity cover quality of life.

  • Al

    “There’s no point being grown-up if you can’t be childish sometimes.” -The Fourth Doctor

  • BloodCharm

    Off-Topic Question:

    I’ve been wondering this for awhile- Were the 10 high security prisoners(Bellatrix, Rodolphus, Robustan, Rookwood, Travers, Mulciber, Dolahov, and three more who are not officially revealed) the only remaining Death Eaters in Azkaban at the time of their escape? We’ve heard from many characters such as Sirius, Ron, and Dumbledore that many people have died there and it’s highly possible that the Death Eaters were largely eradicated during the war itself by Aurors killing the Death Eaters and then when they were imprisoned, died under the Dementors influence. However, Voldemort states in Goblet Of Fire that Azkaban will be liberated and that he will have all his devoted supporters returned to him. Also, Dumbledore states that if Fudge doesn’t release Azkaban from the Dementors, then his supporters will be released and with their support as well as the Dementors support, that he will have a difficult job in stopping Voldemort from taking control of the Wizarding world the way he did 20 years earlier. With only about 30 or more Death Eaters having returned to him in Goblet)check the chapter “Priori Incatetem”), it seems that that Dumbledore and Voldemort both know that with Azkaban liberated, Voldemort’s Death Eaters will be strengthened mightily. With only 10 prisoners released(and we don’t even know how they were released for sure), it seems to me that there would be more Death Eaters still alive in Azkaban upon Voldemort’s return and the escape in January of 1996. What do you think?

    • Lisa

      There might have been DEs who died in Azkaban. I mean why not? It’s not uncommon for people to die in there as Sirius says so some of the dead inmates could have been Death Eaters. We know Rosier was killed by Moody for resisting arrest so he never even made it to Azkaban. Others might have died in jail. But I don’t think any DEs died from the end of GoF to the escape. I think the Death Eaters that Dumbledore was talking about were the ones we got to meet in OotP. Yes, there were only ten of them but they seem to have been the most dangerous and powerful, especially Bellatrix and Dolohov (but probably also Mulciber and Travers, since they’ve also committed some pretty infamous murders).

    • There were only something like 12 Death Eaters in total anyway. Voldemort had many followers, but the movies make it look like he had an army of Death Eaters. Truly, he only had a handful of people who were branded with the mark.

      The mark was a very unknown thing too. If you revisit the later chapters in Goblet of Fire this is all pointed out. I hadn’t realized this until just a few years ago.

  • Merlin’s Baggy Y-Fronts

    I am fascinated by Rosie’s idea that Tom may have murdered Hepzebah out of pain and outrage for his mother when she was in a time of great need. Like Kat, I also assume that he felt Hepzebah stole what was rightfully his, which probably stemmed from an underlying assumption that he is 100% self-interested and malicious to his core from birth. Though I suspect many people might also feel that way about him, I do not actually believe that anybody could be born this way. Just because a person cannot feel love does not mean that he is inherently evil. It doesn’t necessarily mean that a young Tom Riddle never longed for parents or wouldn’t realize that it was immoral of Hepzebah to exploit Merope.

    This also makes me wonder about the personality of Tom Riddle Sr (before his mind was addled by Merope’s love potion). There’s the well-known nature-vs-nurture debate about a person’s development. I don’t doubt that Tom had a hard childhood in the orphanage. However, there is actually a body of research done on twins separated at birth (so that the “nurture” factor is not confounding) which implies that personality is highly genetic. Not to say, of course, that your personality is completely dependent on DNA and you have no choice in how you turn out. However, you are probably more predisposed to certain traits and behaviors. Sure, he comes from Slytherin, but that’s several generations back. We know the Gaunts are terrible, though we actually don’t know that much about Merope’s personality. What about Tom Riddle Sr.? We know almost nothing about his disposition. What if, in addition to looks, Tom also inherited his intelligence, determination, power-hunger, self-righteousness, wrath, etc. from his father? Without the ability to love, perhaps Tom was more likely to succumb to personality traits he inherited, and I’d actually love to know more about what Tom Riddle Sr was like.