The main antagonist of the Harry Potter series is Lord Voldemort, who is far from a generic villain. The character was given his own fleshed-out background that made fans see him as Tom Riddle, the identity he had been born with, along with the circumstances of his birth and why Voldemort became the fiend he ultimately was. Having been the son of muggle Tom Riddle Sr. and witch Merope Gaunt, who had tricked the former into marrying her through the use of a love potion, Voldemort's future was always destined to take a dark turn.
To truly understand the character, though, it's best to take a trip through his entire timeline to see where he started, how he rose to power, and the way is eventual defeat came about.
1944: Tom Meets With The Grey LadyPhoto: Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows - Part 2 / Warner Bros. Pictures
On 1st September 1944, Tom begins his seventh and final year at Hogwarts and is made Head Boy of the school.
In the same year, he learns the existence of a diadem that belonged to Rowena Ravenclaw along with finding out that the Grey Lady is the ghost of Rowena's daughter Helena. Using his charismatic persona, Tom is able to charm the Grey Lady into revealing the location of the diadem that she had hidden.
1945: Tom Applies For A Job At Hogwarts But Is RejectedPhoto: Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets / Warner Bros. Pictures
In June 1945, Tom graduates from Hogwarts with honors and instantly asks Headmaster Dippet for a job at the school as the Defense Against the Dark Arts teacher. However, owing to the age limit for a teaching position at Hogwarts, Professor Dippet rejects Tom's application and encourages him to apply again in a few years. Shortly after, he kills an Albanian peasant to turn Rowena Ravenclaw's diadem into a Horcrux.
In the same year, rather than entertain offers to work at the Ministry through Professor Slughorn's sources, Tom opts to work as an assistant at Borgin and Burkes shop at Knockturn Alley as a way to learn more about the Dark Arts and acquire powerful magical heirlooms.
1956: - Tom Acquires Helga Hufflepuff's Goblet And Salazar Slytherin's LocketPhoto: Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince / Warner Bros. Pictures
In 1956, while still working at Borgin and Burkes, Tom befriends Hepzibah Smith, a wealthy old witch who is a descendent of Helga Hufflepuff's. Hepzibah falls for Tom's charms as many others before her and decides to impress him by showing her possession of Helga Hufflepuff's goblet that had been passed down generations. She also reveals her purchase of Salazar Slytherin's locket that Merope had sold to Borgin and Burkes. Tom, convinced that the locket was his right as a descendent of Slytherin, and out of his own need for the goblet, poisons Hepzibah Smith to claim the artifacts.
Around that time, Tom implants a false memory on Hepzibah's house-elf Hokey, who confesses to the Ministry that she committed the murder. Soon after, Tom quits his job at Borgin and Burkes.
1957: Tom Riddle Officially DisappearsPhoto: Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets / Warner Bros. Pictures
In 1957, Tom uses the murder of Hepzibah Smith to turn Huffelpuff's goblet into a Horcrux and later kills a Muggle tramp to do the same with Slytherin's locket. He seemingly spends the next decade travelling the world to learn all kinds of dark magic, commit acts of terrible cruelty, and undergoes magical transformations. The creation of so many Horcruxes also change his appearance to the point where he becomes unrecognizable and loses all of his natural handsome features. By this point, he openly begins referring to himself as Lord Voldemort, signalling the end of Tom Riddle.