Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban made a huge reveal: Ron’s pet rat was actually Peter Pettigrew, but this was hinted at a couple of times.
The Harry Potter movies have a lot of moments of foreshadowing and various clues hinting at big events and reveals, among those the true identity of Scabbers, who was Peter Pettigrew in disguise. In 1997, J.K. Rowling introduced readers to the Wizarding World in the novel Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone, the first entry in what would become a series of seven novels telling the story of “the boy who lived” and the darkest wizard of all: Lord Voldemort.
The Harry Potter book series was a big phenomenon, and it didn’t take long for it to make the jump to the big screen. The Harry Potter movie series was released between 2001 and 2011, with the final book, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, being split into two movies. The saga expanded the books’ fanbase and through Harry, the audience learned the basics of the Wizarding World, many of its incredible objects, and a long list of spells, along with some witches and wizards that used these to their advantage. Among those is Peter Pettigrew (Timothy Spall), a former friend of Harry’s parents and loyal follower of Voldemort who spent years disguised as a rat.
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Peter Pettigrew was best friends with Sirius Black, James Potter, and Remus Lupin during their Hogwarts years, and thus was part of the Marauders group. Pettigrew was also a member of the Order of the Phoenix, but he was also a spy for Lord Voldemort and was the one who betrayed James and Lily Potter, leading to their deaths. In a very cowardly move, Pettigrew faked his death and framed Sirius for betraying the Potters, his murder, and that of twelve Muggles, leading to Sirius’ arrest and imprisonment in Azkaban. In Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, it was revealed that Pettigrew had been quite close to Harry for a while as he had been living in his Animagus form as the Weasley’s pet rat, Scabbers – and while this came as a surprise to readers and viewers, there were some hints to the “Scabbers twist”.
First, it’s mentioned that Scabbers had lived for too long, which was very unusual as rats typically have a life span of three years, while Scabbers had been living with the Weasleys for 12 years. In Prisoner of Azkaban, what drives the story is Sirius’ escape from Azkaban, after which it’s noted that Scabbers had been losing weight and began to bald, which was the result of Pettigrew stressing over Sirius’ escape, as he knew well he was going to go after him (and, of course, it didn’t help that Remus Lupin started teaching at Hogwarts that year). Last but not least, Rowling made sure to mention when describing Scabbers that he was missing one of his toes. When Pettigrew faked his death, he cut a finger off and left it behind, so Scabbers having only one toe was the biggest clue to its real identity.
Pettigrew, in Scabbers’ form, faked his death again by biting himself and leaving blood, making Ron believe that Hermione’s cat Crookshanks killed him, but he was actually hiding. After his cover was blown, Pettigrew continued being loyal to Voldemort until his final day, though his demise played differently in the movies. In the book, he strangled Harry with his silver hand, but when the boy reminded him he owed him a life debt, his hand turned to him and strangled him to death; in the movie, however, he was attacked by Dobby, and that was the last time he was seen on screen. The clues to Scabbers’ identity in the Harry Potter series are easy to miss during the first viewing, but they are a lot clearer the second time around.
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