Harry Potter: The Basilisk Never Killed Anyone - Theory Explained

The Basilisk terrorized the students of Hogwarts in the Harry Potter series, but it might not have truly killed anybody, according to one theory. Throughout Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, Hogwarts students (and even a ghost) are found petrified by the beast, but one student was said to have been truly killed by it during Tom Riddle’s fifth school year. A technicality and connection to Riddle’s quest for immortality, however, may indicate that this student wasn’t actually killed by the Basilisk at all.

Hogwarts was founded by four prominent witches and wizards, each of whom gave their name to the four Hogwarts houses. Salazar Slytherin had a notable hatred of Muggles and witches and wizards whose blood wasn’t “pure,” causing friction between him and the other three founders. Slytherin built the Chamber of Secrets to house his Basilisk in the hopes that she’d kill all Muggle-born students one day. Tom Riddle, a.k.a Voldemort, opened the chamber when he was a student and again later via his diary, which was also one of his Horcruxes.

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A Basilisk is a giant serpent with deadly fangs whose venom is powerful enough to destroy even a Horcrux. Most notably, looking directly into a Basilisk’s eyes is instantly fatal. An indirect Basilisk gaze, however, would only cause petrification. Myrtle Warren, a.k.a “Moaning Myrtle” allegedly died by looking into the Basilisk’s eyes, but it's actually possible that she too was only petrified. Myrtle saw the Basilisk through her glasses, which could technically make her view indirect, leaving her petrified. Tom Riddle could then, in turn, have murdered her as part of his Horcrux ritual. This theory makes sense when one considers that he’d begun creating Horcruxes during his time as a student.

Horcruxes were among the most reprehensible forms of Dark Magic in Harry Potter, with their creator murdering people in cold blood to split their souls before bonding their soul fragments with an object of importance. Tom Riddle, desiring immortality, created seven Horcruxes, including his diary, which was featured prominently in Chamber of Secrets. Moaning Myrtle may have been his first victim, allowing him to make his diary his first Horcrux.

Myrtle was a Muggle-born student, and Tom Riddle, like his ancient ancestor, Salazar Slytherin, was violently prejudiced against Muggle-born wizards and witches. This hatred was not only one of Riddle’s primary motivations in his attempted conquest of the Wizarding World but also a key factor in many of his murders when creating Horcruxes. Riddle’s other victims included his father and paternal grandparents, all of whom were, ironically, Muggles.

Although Myrtle was viewing the Basilisk through transparent lenses, they’d still protect her from the beast’s deadly gaze. Colin Creevey, for instance, was only petrified and he looked directly at the Basilisk through a camera lens. If the Basilisk never truly killed anybody in the Harry Potter books and films, including Myrtle, her death could be used by Tom Riddle to form his first Horcrux, upending many readers' and viewers' assumptions about the giant snake.

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