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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 The Prisoner of Azkaban, the secondary antagonist of The Goblet of Fire, a cameo character in The Order of the Phoenix, a minor antagonist in The Half-Blood Prince, and a supporting antagonist in The Deathly Hallows. He initially appeared in The Philosopher's Stone and The 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 twelve 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, who 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 his betrayal of James 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 films, 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.

Trivia

  • 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's implied that either Dobby killed him or Voldemort did offscreen for his failure. It's also entirely possible that he survived the war and was sentenced to Azkaban for life for his numerous crimes.
  • Whilst the film version is completely irredeemable with nothing preventing that, the book version shows genuine remorse for his actions, is tragic, shows insecurities and was unfairly killed by Voldemort for his refusal to kill Harry.
  • He is the only Death Eater to be in the house of Gryffindor, while the others were in Slytherin.

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See Also
Adventure Time Villains | Amblin Entertainment Villains | Aquaman Villains | Archieverse Villains | Arkhamverse Villains | Arrowverse Villains | Batgirl Villains | Batman Villains | Batman Beyond Villains | Batwoman Villains | Ben 10 Villains | Birds of Prey Villains | Black Lightning Villains | Blue Beetle Villains | Blumhouse Productions Villains | Captain Planet Villains | Catwoman Villains | Cats & Dogs Villains | Cartoon Network Villains | Christopher Nolan Villains | Constantine: The Hellblazer Villains | Danmachi Villains | DC Animated Universe Villains | DC Animated Movie Universe Villains | DC Extended Universe Villains | DC Super Hero Girls Villains | DC's Legends of Tomorrow Villains | Doom Patrol Villains | Dune Villains | Eraser Villains | Flash Villains | Game of Thrones Villains | Gotham Villains | Green Arrow Villains | Green Lantern Villains | Gremlins Villains | Hanna-Barbera Cinematic Universe Villains | Harley Quinn Villains | Harry Potter Villains | Injustice Villains | Justice League Villains | Justice League Dark Villains | Justice Society Villains | Laika Villains | Legendary Entertainment Villains | Legion of Super-Heroes Villains | Lethal Weapons Villains | Loonatics Unleashed Villains | Looney Tunes Villains | Lucifer Villains | Mad Max Villains | Melanie Martinez Villains | Middle-Earth Villains | MonsterVerse Villains | Mortal Kombat Villains | New Line Cinema Villains | Pacific Rim Villains | Peacemaker Villains | Pokémon Villains | Powerpuff Girls Villains | Primal Villains | Regular Show Villains | Rick and Morty Villains | Robin Villains | Robot Chicken Villains | Rush Hour Villains | Samurai Jack Villains | Sesame Street Villains | Scooby-Doo Villains | SHAZAM Villains | Sherlock Holmes Villains | Smallville Villains | South Park Villains | Space Jam Villains | Static Shock Villains | Steel Villains | Stephen King Villains | Steven Universe Villains | SWAT Kats Villains | Suicide Squad Villains | Supergirl Villains | Superman Villains | Swamp Thing Villains | Syfy Villains | Teen Titans Villains | Telltale Batman Villains | Terminator Villains | The Banana Splits Movie Villains | The Conjuring Villains | The Hangover Villains | The LEGO Movie Villains | The Matrix Villains | Tim Burton Villains | Tiny Toon Adventures Villains | Tom and Jerry Villains | TMNT Villains | Watchmen Villains | Wild Wild West Villains | Wonder Woman Villains | Xiaolin Showdown Villains | Yu-Gi-Oh! Villains | Young Justice Villains

           HarryPotter.png Villains

Death Eaters
Lord Voldemort | Barty Crouch Jr. (Warner Bros.) | Bellatrix Lestrange | Corban Yaxley | Alecto Carrow | Amycus Carrow | Antonin Dolohov | Augustus Rookwood | Walden Macnair | Thorfinn Rowle | Evan Rosier | Cedric Diggory | Fenrir Greyback | Pius Thicknesse | Avery II

Death Eater defectors
Severus Snape | Regulus Black | Draco Malfoy | Lucius Malfoy | Igor Karkaroff | Peter Pettigrew | Stan Shunpike

Death Eater Supporters
Quirinus Quirrell | Dolores Umbridge | Snatchers (Scabior) | Gregory Goyle | Vincent Crabbe | John Dawlish | Kreacher

Hogwarts Staff
Severus Snape | Barty Crouch Jr. (Warner Bros.) | Alecto Carrow | Amycus Carrow | Quirinus Quirrell | Dolores Umbridge | Gilderoy Lockhart | Argus Filch | Salazar Slytherin

Muggle-Born Registration Commission
Dolores Umbridge | Corban Yaxley | Albert Runcorn | Mafalda Hopkirk

Gellert Grindelwald's Alliance
Gellert Grindelwald | Credence Barebone | Vinda Rosier | Queenie Goldstein | Gunnar Grimmson | Abernathy | Krall | Carrow | Nagel | Krafft | MacDuff | Helmut | Anton Vogel | Karl

Other Wizards & Witches
Morfin Gaunt | Marvolo Gaunt | Merope Gaunt | Cornelius Fudge | Herpo the Foul | Merwyn the Malicious | Ekrizdis | Delphini | R | Rita Skeeter | Patricia Rakepick | Rufus Scrimgeour | Merula Snyde | Ismelda Murk | Emily Tyler | Gormlaith Gaunt | Corvus Lestrange | Raczidian | Erkstag Warden

New Salem Philanthropic Society
Mary Lou Barebone | Credence Barebone

Creatures
Basilisk | Acromantula (Aragog & Acromantula Colony) | Dementors | Centaurs | Giants | Inferi | Nagini | Mountain Troll | Gnarlak | Griphook | Manticores (Manticore Queen)

Tales of Beedle the Bard
Charlatan | Death | Warlock

Muggles
The Dursleys (Marge Dursley) | Tobias Snape

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