No true villain is born to be evil. Instead, they're hardened from life experiences that provide them a much different perspective on how the world works. This motivates them to go to ridiculous extremes at the expense of other people's lives. This doesn't justify their actions, but it instead gives an interesting look at how they function.
Keep this in mind as we explore more about the Harry Potter villain, Lord Voldemort. Throughout his involvement in the series, it was clear that this sadistic overlord had some traumatic things happen to him early on in life that helped shape him into the tyrant he eventually became.
Throughout his life, he had the odds stacked against him. These small factors weighed in how he carried himself, and he slowly began showing signs of his true, dark nature. He poisoned the lives of those he touched and destroyed just about anything that tried to oppose him. Despite the attempts of a few people to help him, Voldemort continued on this path to control the entire Wizarding World.
To gain a better understanding of this dark wizard, we're going to take a look into his disturbing past. I must warn you that some of this knowledge is quite unnerving to hear and speaks volumes about his character as we understand him. Consider yourself forewarned.
Here are 15 disturbing secrets you didn't know about Lord Voldemort's past.
15 Inbred Family
We all know that Voldemort is an heir of Salazar Slytherin, but his lineage is a bit more complicated than that. Many of his ancestors felt that it was necessary to breed with their relatives in order to keep the bloodline pure and untainted. Unfortunately, with any situation like this, there are extreme consequences that grew to bite all of wizardkind in the back.
In Voldemort's case, the members of his family were insane and unfeeling as a result of being inbred. Many of them grew to become sadists themselves and brought more harm than good into the world. Combining this poisoned mental state with the genetics of Salazar Slytherin, and you've got the makings of the most dangerous wizard of all time.
14 Born Out of a Love Potion
Wizards have some of the most powerful abilities known to mankind, and many of them used these powers for their own gain. Take Voldemort's mother, Merope Gaunt, for example. Despite being part of a wizard family, she was referred to as a squib because her magical powers were deeply suppressed due to a lifetime of abuse. Still, she had plenty of knowledge about the Wizarding World and used this when she met Tom Riddle Senior.
Wanting a relationship with the man, she tricked him into drinking a love potion, and the two formed a connection after that. During their relationship, she became pregnant with the boy who would be known as Tom Riddle Jr. It has been suggested that Voldemort is incapable of love because he was born out of a manufactured love potion.
13 He Wasn't Supposed to Be Born
Despite the craziness that went on through Voldemort's ancestors, there was one who had it together (at least to some degree). Rionach Steward was a descendant of Slytherin and hated every minute of it. She felt that Slytherin was a malicious wizard and was ashamed to even be related to him. She was even able to speak Parseltongue but feared that ability in and of itself.
As she lived out her life, Rionach decided that she would never marry or have children as a means of getting rid of the bloodline of Slytherin. She feared that continuing the genetics of a dark wizard would create more dark wizards. Unfortunately, she was unaware of other relatives she had in England, where the Slytherin bloodline continued to live on.
12 Abandoned By His Father
Backtrack to the relationship between Merope Gaunt and Tom Riddle Sr. After giving him the love potion, the two of them began a relationship, and Merope became pregnant with Tom Riddle Jr. As this stage of their lives progressed, it's assumed that she stopped using love potions on Tom in the hope that he had actually grown to love her.
That said, when he gained the full knowledge that he had been tricked and had a child on the way, he grew upset and abandoned them both. This left Merope devastated and weak and left Tom Riddle Jr. without a father before he was even born. Perhaps if he had stayed, the child would have turned out much differently as he grew up.
11 Mother Died During Birth
As if being abandoned by his father wasn't bad enough, Merope had a few complications while she was pregnant with Tom Riddle. When she was beginning to birth the young boy, she went to Wool's Orphanage and had them help her deliver the child. She successfully gave birth to a healthy young boy, but the strain on her body was too much, and she died shortly after.
This means that in his very first moments, Tom Riddle never had anyone. The orphanage was all he knew for as long as he could remember. No doubt, this fed into his isolated demeanor and gave him a lot more time to think about what he was capable of and what he wanted to do with his life.
10 Hung a Rabbit as a Child
Growing up in the orphanage, Tom Riddle was never told of his mother's true heritage, but it wasn't long before he discovered that he had some unique abilities. As a matter of fact, he was much more capable in wizardry at his age than most children -- he even learned how to control these abilities very early on. He could cause pain to others when he desired and even manipulate animals.
Unfortunately, this made him dangerous to fight with. There was another young boy who teased Riddle. He responded by manipulating the boy's rabbit and hanging it from the rafters. No doubt, this was a traumatic experience for the boy who fought with Riddle and let the people running the orphanage know that there was something very different about Tom.
9 Silenced Other Orphans
When I say "silenced other orphans," I don't mean that he killed them. I mean he literally silenced them.
As Tom got older, he became more excellent in his magical powers. Being a young kid, he was also eager to show others the fantastic things he could do. Yet, Tom was no ordinary child and took the opportunity to strike fear into the hearts of the other orphans.
One fateful day, he lured two other orphans into a cave. Tom then performed a magical act so horrifying that the orphans became silent and were never the same for the rest of their lives. It's never stated exactly what Tom did to scare them so badly, but whatever it was, the orphans were going to remember it for the rest of their lives.
8 He Hated His Name
Due to his unique abilities, Tom Riddle eventually received a visit from Albus Dumbledore. It was there that the Hogwarts professor picked Riddle's brain to get a sense of who he was. Riddle revealed there that he always had a desire to be different from the rest of society, and this fueled an interesting hatred for his own name.
Tom Riddle despised his first name because it was so common. He wanted to be referred to as something unique to him. This desire would eventually lead him to change his name after he delved into the Dark Arts for nearly a decade. He wanted something immortal that would cause anyone who opposed him to tremble. As we can all testify, he succeeded in spades. The Wizarding World dared not speak his name.
7 He Scared Dumbledore
When Dumbledore met Riddle for the first time, he knew that even among wizards, the young boy was very different. Right off the bat, it was clear that Riddle had no problem using his powers whenever he saw fit, and this scared Dumbledore to his very core. When a wizard gets so comfortable using his or her powers from a young age, it's almost never a good sign.
Because of this, Dumbledore took it upon himself to watch the young Riddle as he attended Hogwarts and grew older. Dumbledore also made it a special point to talk to Riddle about the rules of the Wizarding World and how the Ministry of Magic wasn't afraid to punish those who disobeyed the magical law. Unfortunately, Riddle wasn't very frightened.
6 Had His Own "Dursley Family"
Throughout the Harry Potter series, there are numerous comparisons made between Harry and Voldemort. Yet, the two of them chose different paths and became great in their own right. Like Harry, Voldemort had his own version of the Dursley family, who provided a lot of troubles for him when he wasn't at Hogwarts.
Every summer, Riddle would go back to the orphanage. However, word started to get out that he was becoming stranger with age. Because of this, many of the other kids despised Riddle to his core, and he simply felt that he was misunderstood. However, this hatred was not unprecedented. Many of the kids hated him because they were terrified of him and what he could do.
5 Manipulated the Hogwarts Staff
When Tom entered Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, he knew that his sadistic demeanor wouldn't get him anywhere. Because of this, he created a persona for himself that he would use while he was at the school. He viewed this side of himself as "poor, but brilliant, parentless but brave, a school prefect, a model student."
As you might expect, this facade had every teacher in the school fooled except for one: Albus Dumbledore. He was the one who remembered seeing Tom's strange actions in the orphanage and wasn't ready to fully trust his change in character. Riddle became furious at this and felt that revealing his character to Dumbledore in the beginning was a huge mistake.
4 Started the Death Eaters in Hogwarts
It wasn't long before Tom began throwing together his followers, and it all started at Hogwarts. Tom, in a reasonable decision made by the Sorting Hat, was placed in Slytherin House. It was there that he made a lot of friends. However, it would be a disservice to call them friends. They were simply pawns that Riddle was using to accomplish his goals. Nonetheless, they followed his orders and looked to him as the leader.
Before they all left Hogwarts, many of these other witches and wizards referred to Riddle as Lord Voldemort. While the group eventually fell apart after Tom had left Hogwarts, a good chunk of them went on to become the first Death Eaters, thus establishing one of the more dangerous cults of the Wizarding World.
3 Received a Trophy for Services to the School
Riddle was so good at manipulating the staff at Hogwarts that it was scary. Not only was he revered by all of the faculty (save Dumbledore), he was even made a school prefect and eventually Head Boy. Yet, he used these positions to further his goals and set his sinister plots in motion.
One of these plots involved the famous opening of the Chamber of Secrets, where he tamed the Basilisk and unleashed it on the school. After the school was shut down temporarily, Tom tried to stay behind so that he could seal the entrance and lock the Basilisk inside (so that he wouldn't be caught). Yet, he was denied this entrance and decided to frame Hagrid and Aragog. Despite Hagrid's clean track record, he was expelled, and Tom received a trophy for Special Services to the School.
2 Slaughtered His Entire Family
During his later years at Hogwarts, Riddle became extremely curious about his heritage. He made a trip to Little Hangleton to try and get more information. At this time, he was convinced that his mother was a Muggle and his father was a wizard (due to her being the one that died). When he got there, he met his uncle and found out some interesting news.
He was told the truth that his father was the rich Muggle, and his mother was a witch. This angered Tom so much that he stole his uncle's wand, went to his father's house, and killed everyone that lived there (his father and both his grandparents). Then, he manipulated his uncle's memories so that he would be the one to go to Azkaban Prison and Tom would leave as an innocent.
1 Cursed the Defense Against the Dark Arts
One of the more frustrating parts of the Harry Potter series is that Hogwarts isn't able to keep a Defense Against the Dark Arts teacher for more than a year. As it turns out, this wasn't poor writing on Rowling's part. This is a result of a curse that Voldemort placed on the school.
Shortly after graduating, he wanted the Defense Against the Dark Arts position so that he could recruit more followers for a dark wizard army as well as learn the ins and outs of the school. After being denied, Tom went on a journey for over a decade. When he returned, he was no longer the handsome boy he had once been but a sinister, disfigured wizard going by the name of Voldemort. Despite this, he approached Dumbledore to get the position at Hogwarts but was denied again. After that point, Hogwarts hadn't been able to keep a teacher in that spot for over a year.
Source: Harry Potter, Pottermore