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Harry Potter – Horcruxes explained

Voldemort tried his best to survive the Harry Potter movies, with some horrifying dark magic. If you want to know how he did it, check out Horcruxes explained.

Harry Potter - Horcruxes explained

Baddies don’t come much more malevolent than Lord Voldemort. As played by Ralph Fiennes on the big screen throughout the noughties, the master of the Death Eaters often appeared unkillable. And, for most of the series, he was effectively immortal. The reason for that? Horcruxes. Let us explain.

In the Harry Potter series, Voldemort managed to cheat death for years because, like all of the best villains, he had a backup plan. The final few of the Harry Potter movies in order focused on the heroic Harry Potter characters as they attempted to track down Horcruxes – the magical MacGuffins keeping old Voldy alive. Wands at the ready because this is about to get seriously dark. There’s a reason they don’t teach you about this stuff at Hogwarts.

What are Horcruxes in Harry Potter?

A Horcrux is a magical object into which a dark wizard has put part of their soul in an attempt to become immortal. In order to make one, you have to commit murder.

Harry Potter viewers learned about Horcruxes in the sixth movie when Professor Slughorn – via Harry Potter cast member Jim Broadbent at his most avuncular – revealed that he told a young Tom Riddle about this obscure branch of dark magic.

Slughorn had been convinced that they were having a theoretical discussion, but the future Voldemort was making very real plans to surpass all other Harry Potter villains.

Tom Riddle's diary was one of Voldemort's Horcruxes

If a wizard has part of their splintered soul secured as a Horcrux, they cannot be completely killed until the Horcrux has been destroyed. That is how Voldemort survived the rebounded Avada Kedavra curse from the night he tried to kill the infant, Harry Potter.

Unfortunately for our heroes, there were only a few ways to properly destroy a Horcrux. Basilisk venom could do the job, which meant that the sword of Godric Gryffindor – infused with venom after Harry used to kill the Basilisk – was also suitable. Certain curses, such as Fiendfyre, could also destroy a Horcrux, as could Avada Kedavra – one of the most unforgivable of Harry Potter spells.

Horcruxes explained - Bellatrix and Voldemort

What were Voldemort’s Horcruxes in Harry Potter?

Voldemort had six intentional Horcruxes and accidentally turned Harry Potter himself into his seventh Horcrux.

The first of Voldemort’s Horcruxes showed up way back in Chamber of Secrets – one of the best movies in the franchise. Tom Riddle’s school diary, which had been in the possession of one of the most trusted Death Eaters Lucius Malfoy, was ultimately destroyed when Harry stabbed it with a Basilisk fang. At the time, nobody knew it was a Horcrux.

In Half-Blood Prince, Dumbledore discovered that a cursed ring belonging to Voldemort’s grandfather, Marvolo Gaunt, was a Horcrux. The conclusion of that movie followed Dumbledore and Harry’s attempt to retrieve a locket owned by Hogwarts founder Salazar Slytherin.

Dumbledore played a key role in getting rid of Voldemort's Horcruxes

That locket was a decoy, but the real one showed up in Deathly Hallows Part 1. A treacherous bank heist at Gringotts in Deathly Hallows Part 2 led to the recovery of a cup belonging to Helga Hufflepuff. Then, the group found the fifth Horcrux at Hogwarts when they located the lost diadem of Rowena Ravenclaw.

At the time, the heroes believed that Voldemort’s snake, Nagini, was the final Horcrux. And, of course, the bald baddie wasn’t letting that serpent out of his sight.

With things looking bleak, Harry headed to the Forbidden Forest to face Voldemort. He took the Killing Curse head-on but somehow survived. After an afterlife chat with Dumbledore, he discovered that he had become an accidental Horcrux on the night his parents were killed.

Nagini was a Horcrux in the Harry Potter movies

But that Horcrux was now dead and, when the ever-brilliant Neville Longbottom managed to behead Nagini during the Battle of Hogwarts, Voldemort became a mortal man again. When he finally got a lecture on wand-lore from Harry – are these the best fantasy movies ever to end with a quasi-legal technicality? – he was powerless to resist his eventual demise.

Complete list of Voldemort’s Horcruxes in Harry Potter:

  • Tom Riddle’s diary
  • Marvolo Gaunt’s ring
  • Salazar Slytherin’s locket
  • Helga Hufflepuff’s cup
  • Rowena Ravenclaw’s diadem
  • Nagini
  • Harry Potter

Ron Weasley destroyed one of the Horcruxes in Harry Potter

Who destroyed Lord Voldemort’s Horcruxes in Harry Potter?

All seven of the Horcruxes in Harry Potter were ultimately destroyed, but Harry can’t clame credit for destroying any more than one of them. He’s slacking as far as we’re concerned. In fact, every Horcrux was destroyed by a different person.

Harry did get to destroy Riddle’s diary, stabbing it with a basilisk fang way back in Chamber of Secrets. The ring was next to go, taken out by Dumbledore with the venom-infused sword of Gryffindor. Then Ron Weasley and Hermione Granger got their chance, with Ron using the sword to break the locket and then securing a basilisk fang for Hermione to use on the cup.

Then, things get messier. It was probably an unwitting Vincent Crabbe who destroyed Ravenclaw’s diadem after losing control of his Fiendfyre in the Room of Requirement. We’ve already mentioned Neville’s sword-swinging heroism against Nagini, and it was Voldemort himself who cast Avada Kedavra on Harry to kill off the Horcrux he never knew he had.

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For more from the Wizarding World, check out our guide to the Harry Potter TV series release date, as well as possible new movies with the Harry Potter and the Cursed Child release date and the Fantastic Beasts 4 release date.

You can also find out why Hermione overshadows Harry Potter, learn about the Harry Potter monster too terrifying for the movies, and find out why Daniel Radcliffe wasn’t a fan of Quidditch.

The creator of the Harry Potter series, JK Rowling, has made a number of transphobic remarks on social media in recent years. If you’d like to learn more about transgender equality or lend your support, here are two charities we encourage you to visit: the National Center for Transgender Equality in the US and Mermaids in the UK.