- Wormtail’s death in the Harry Potter books was a deserved fate for his betrayal, foreshadowed throughout the series.
- Wormtail’s demise came at the hands of his own metal hand, a punishment Voldemort had secretly placed there as a warning.
- The movies changed Wormtail’s ending, leaving it ambiguous and robbing the character’s arc of resolution.
Wormtail’s silvery hand was his doom in Deathly Hallows—a moment that had been previously foreshadowed in the Harry Potter series. Peter Pettigrew’s death, which was left out of the Harry Potter movies, was certainly deserved since it had been his betrayal that led to the Potters’ murders. Harry reflected after the man fell at Malfoy Manor that Dumbledore had warned him something like this would happen back in Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban when Harry shared his regret over letting the traitor live. However, it was a subtle moment in Goblet of Fire that truly revealed how Wormtail would die.
In Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, Harry learned that Peter Pettigrew, who had been called Wormtail by his fellow Marauders, had been the one to tell Lord Voldemort where the Potters were hiding. Despite this, the Boy Who Lived didn’t believe that his father would have wanted Sirius Black and Remus Lupin to murder their old friend. Harry demanded that Wormtail’s life be spared, and this decision ultimately led to the traitor’s escape. Still, Dumbledore told Harry that the subtler powers of magic would ensure that the life debt would be paid, and at the end of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, it was.
Though the Harry Potter movies skipped it over, the books saw Peter Pettigrew die a rather gruesome death at Malfoy Manor in Deathly Hallows. When Harry, Ron, and the others attempted to escape the cellar, Wormtail came down to investigate. He and Harry fought each other for possession of his wand, but the silvery metal hand that Voldemort had given Pettigrew as a reward for helping him regain a body was too strong for the Boy Who Lived. As Wormtail attempted to choke him, Harry reminded his father’s old friend that he had once saved his life. For just a moment, this fact caused him to slacken his hold on Harry—and that’s what did it.
The moment that Pettigrew began to show mercy toward Harry and loosen his grip, he seemed to lose control of the silvery hand. The metal limb turned on its ower, grasped his neck, and Wormtail began to suffocate himself instead. Harry and Ron attempted to stop him, but the powerful metal would not give. As Wormtail lay dead on the floor, Harry remembered how Dumbledore had predicted that the man’s owed life debt would one day be to Harry’s benefit. What he didn’t realize was that, years before, he had witnessed Voldemort subtly warn Wormtail that the metal hand would punish any form of treachery.
Voldemort Secretly Warned Wormtail Of His Fate In Goblet Of Fire
Wormtail was neither powerful nor particularly clever, which is why he constantly depended on the strength of others for protection. After his identity had been discovered in Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, he had nowhere left to run besides Voldemort’s side. Therefore, if it weren’t for Pettigrew, the Dark Lord never would’ve regained a body. Voldemort recognized this, and as a reward, he replaced the hand his servant had sacrificed with one made of silver. Still, Voldemort never gave gifts out of kindness—the Dark Lord had intended the hand to punish Pettigrew if he was ever disloyal, and he said as much at the end of Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire.
When Voldemort gave Wormtail the silver hand, he said the line, “May your loyalty never waver again, Wormtail.” Though this didn’t seem important at the time, the fact that the hand turned and murdered Pettigrew the moment his loyalty “wavered” indicates that this wish had been a warning. The Dark Lord was fully aware of his servant’s shortcomings and took precautions. The silver hand had been an insurance policy, ensuring that the treacherous Wormtail would never survive another betrayal against his master.
Why Voldemort Never Truly Trusted Wormtail (Despite His Service)
The fact that Voldemort hid a curse within Peter Pettigrew’s hand proves that he never fully trusted his servant—and this was likely wise. Wormtail had joined the Death Eaters of Harry Potter after betraying his childhood best friend, something that even Voldemort could appreciate was despicable. Though the ex-Marauder had expected this to earn him respect among the Dark Lord’s forces, he was never truly embraced as one of them. The Death Eaters may have been villains, but they still adhered to a certain code. They considered themselves better than the rest of the wizarding world, and a traitor is a traitor, no matter which side they had betrayed.
Still, Voldemort knew that Pettigrew’s service had been invaluable. At the graveyard in Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, the Dark Lord announced that Wormtail had been the only one (aside from Crouch Jr) to seek him out but that it had been out of the selfish need for protection, not loyalty. This gave Voldemort a reason to demonstrate his benevolence and show his followers what serving him could offer. But, with no real reason to trust Wormtail, the Dark Lord created a gift that would also demonstrate how he wasn’t someone to be taken for granted.
The Harry Potter Movies Drastically Changed Wormtail’s Ending
Peter Pettigrew’s death in Harry Potter meant the resolution of a character arc that had stretched across the majority of the series, but the movies still left it out. Of course, the movies had also left out Dumbledore’s opinion about Wormtail’s life debt, as well as Voldemort’s subtle line about the man’s loyalty. Therefore, a death scene like the one in the Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows book wouldn’t have been quite as impactful. Still, the movies left the character’s ending frustratingly ambiguous.
In the Deathly Hallows Part 1 movie, Pettigrew was almost comically knocked unconscious by Harry and the other prisoners of the cellar, after which he was never seen again. It’s likely that the screen adaptation was trying to focus all the emotional weight on the scenes of Hermione’s torture and Dobby’s rescue and death, so there simply wasn’t room for Wormtail. Still, considering the character’s serious betrayal of Lily and James in Harry Potter, the film franchise might have found a way to bring his story some resolution. Perhaps future adaptations can give Wormtail’s death, along with the several layers of subtle foreshadowing, the time and attention it deserves.