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Villain Overview

Remus Lupin: You sold James and Lily to Voldemort, didn't you?
Peter Pettigrew: I didn't mean to! The Dark Lord. You have no idea the weapons he possesses! Ask yourself, Sirius; what would you have done? What would you have done?
Sirius Black: I would have died! I would have died rather than betray my friends!
~ Peter Pettigrew's confession.

Peter Pettigrew, also known by his nickname Wormtail, is a major antagonist in the Harry Potter franchise. He made his debut as the main antagonist of Prisoner of Azkaban, the secondary antagonist of Goblet of Fire, a cameo character in Order of the Phoenix, a minor antagonist in Half-Blood Prince, and a supporting antagonist in Deathly Hallows. He initially appeared in Philosopher's Stone and Chamber of Secrets, disguised as Ron Weasley's pet rat Scabbers.

He was originally one of James Potter's friends alongside Remus Lupin and Sirius Black, but later joined the Death Eaters and betrayed James and his wife Lily to Lord Voldemort out of cowardice. He then murdered 12 Muggles before hiding for a little over a decade in his animagus form of a rat, framing Sirius for his crimes.

He was portrayed by Timothy Spall, who also played Beadle Bamford in the 2007 live-action film adaptation of Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street and Dragon in Magic Light Pictures' adaptation of Room on the Broom.

Personality

Peter Pettigrew was truly a coward at heart. Despite being classified as Gryffindor, he lacked true bravery, perhaps proving that the Sorting Hat saw potential in him rather than any real innate courage, a potential which he never achieved. Because of his cowardice, Peter was also an opportunist, looking always at people stronger and braver than him. Peter was faithful only to himself and only to whoever was in his best interest of the moment.

When he was a comrade of Sirius and Lupin, he idolized them and lived vicariously through their achievements, as well as joining them in bullying other students, such as Severus Snape, whom he would not have been likely to bully without James and Sirius to support him. Because of the huge difference in talent, bravery and popularity, Peter was considered more of a retreat than an equal. However, the three Marauders loved Peter as a friend and a brother, which made James' betrayal particularly bitter. Pettigrew defected from the Order of the Phoenix and betrayed his closest friends to Lord Voldemort when his life was threatened, showing selfishness and disloyalty at the core of his being. Even Voldemort looked at him with disdain; the only reason why he kept Wormtail alive is that he sometimes proved useful.

However, despite being cowardly, he was not stupid, being cunning enough to escape his former friend Sirius after Voldemort's first defeat, framing him for his crimes and simulate his own death while killing twelve people with a curse, living for years in his Animagus form. He also had manipulative skills, as he manipulated Bertha Jorkins to accompany him, Jorkins being unaware Pettigrew brought her to Voldemort. Peter had a ruthless side to himself, not hesitating to kill Cedric Diggory with the Killing Curse. In moments of desperation, Pettigrew was ready to amputate his own limbs to serve his purposes, such as his finger to simulate his death, and his hand to revive Voldemort, in the promise of a worthy reward.

In the books, despite his treacherous and cowardly nature, Pettigrew was remorseful for betraying his friends, and he hesitated to kill Harry when he was reminded of his life debt in 1998. He also suggested that Voldemort should find another enemy to use for his rebirth, although when Voldemort began to suspect that he valued Harry Potter, Pettigrew quickly declared that Harry meant nothing to him. This suggested that he may have consciously felt gratitude to Harry for saving his life. Pettigrew also realized and admitted that he was a coward saying that he had never been as brave as Sirius, Remus and James. Although he values his own life more than that of his friends, Pettigrew felt guilty for betraying Lily and James, but did not have the bravery to admit his betrayal until he was forced to do so, or to turn against Voldemort. Sadly, he died being known as a cowardly traitor and never got any chance to make amends for what he did.

In the movies, Pettigrew is portrayed as being slightly more sinister, less cowardly, and somewhat sadistic. In the Prisoner of Azkaban, immediately after being disarmed by Harry, he gives a cruel smile and sarcastically waves goodbye before transforming for his escape. In the Goblet of Fire, he smiles ominously at Frank Bryce (presumably with intent of attacking him) as Voldemort orders him to step aside and let the Dark Lord finish off the unfortunate Muggle caretaker. Unlike the books, it's never indicated if he feels any remorse for his actions. It's also unknown what happened to him after Deathly Hallows: Part 1, either Dobby killed him or just knocked him unconscious. If the latter occurred, he was either killed by Voldemort, or spent the rest of his life in Azkaban.

Trivia

  • While Peter Pettigrew is Pure Evil in the film, his book version is remorseful and insecure so his book version is not Pure Evil.
  • The reason why the film producers didn't give Peter Pettigrew an on-screen death was because they were worried that his canon death of being strangled by his own hand in the books would be too violent for the film and would result in an R-rating. It is implied that either Dobby killed him or one of the Death Eaters did offscreen for his failure. It is also entirely possible that he survived the war and finally went to Azkaban for his numerous crimes.

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