While the Fantastic Beasts franchise seemingly follows the adventures of mazoologist Newt Scamander, many fans speculate that the series has a lot to do with Lord Voldemort. Back in 2016, Vanity Fair even wondered whether the film series was secretly setting itself up as a “Voldemort origin story.”
Voldemort’s personal timeline aside, the upcoming movie, Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald, is set to unpack the origin story of the Dark Lord’s most loyal companion, Nagini. On Twitter, Rowling confirmed that Nagini was initially a woman with a blood curse, which eventually caused her to turn into a snake. However, a Reddit user named soupycutie posits a theory that there’s even more to Nagini’s story.
The theory suggests Nagini is actually Voldemort’s mother, Merope Gaunt.
The theory hinges on Nagini’s role in Fantastic Beasts and also on what we know about Voldemort’s mother from Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince. Based on the upcoming movie, we know that Nagini works at Circus Arcanus, a traveling circus and freak show. It appears her blood curse hasn’t fully taken effect in Crimes, and she can transform from a human into a snake—and back again—at will.
The Redditor’s theory points out that in Half-Blood Prince, Mrs. Cole—the woman who ran the orphanage where Dumbledore found Tom Riddle—said, “We wondered whether she [Riddle’s mother] came from a circus.” Mrs. Cole also noted Merope’s unsettling appearance.
“So this could be a coincidence, but it seems Rowling may already have had the idea that Merope/Nagini was part of the Circus Arcanus. Perhaps Merope was looking ugly due to her upcoming permanent transformation into a snake,” soupycutie writes.
Perhaps Merope—in her snake form as Nagini—found her way back to an adult Voldemort. The theory also goes on to remind readers of Nagini’s crucial role in “rebirthing” Voldemort in Goblet of Fire, even likening the venom Voldemort drinks during the ritual to “mother’s milk.” This also could explain why Voldemort looks so snake-like after his return.
It’s an inspired theory, but a highly unlikely one.
For starters, there are a few timeline issues, most of which will likely become clearer when Crimes actually hits theaters. And while Rowling has revealed a few details about the blood curse on Twitter, we don’t actually know much about it, leaving a lot of room for idle speculation. Not to mention Claudia Kim— the actress who plays Nagini—doesn’t seem to look anything like the woman described in Half-Blood Prince.
Also, we’re fairly sure Mrs. Cole witnessed Merope Gaunt die. Sure, there could have been some magic involved, but as Dumbledore reminded Harry in Half-Blood Prince, at this particular point in her tragic life, Merope was either purposefully not using magic or her grief over Tom Sr.’s abandonment interfered with her abilities.
And as Nerdist pointed out, Half-Blood Prince makes it clear that Voldemort’s appearance began deteriorating as his use of Dark magic intensified—specifically as he began making his Horcruxes…which is a much simpler explanation for his snake-like appearance.
While we definitely admire this in-depth theory, it seems highly doubtful—at least right now—that Nagini and Voldemort were anything other than two very close beings. But if there’s one thing Rowling has taught us over the last decade, anything is possible. Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald hits theaters November 16th.