We see in the Chamber of Secrets when Tom Riddle summons the Basilisk, he looked at the Basilisk's eyes directly.

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So are they immune to the effects, or is it just the controller?

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    Riddle is a phantom and Harry didn't see the eyes (Fawkes plucked its eyes out)
    – NKCampbell
    Apr 20, 2017 at 14:05
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    @NKCampbell - except that the eyes had been shown to partially work on the insufficiently living (Nearly Headless Nick). So this is actually a better Q than the usual.
    – Radhil
    Apr 20, 2017 at 14:07
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    Riddle is less real than even NHN in this case. That's the whole point of his plan
    – NKCampbell
    Apr 20, 2017 at 14:12
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    Is the basilisk stare even something that's automatic or does the basilisk have to actively concentrate on using that power. If so then it could just not be using it when looking at Riddle.
    – Forral
    Apr 20, 2017 at 14:14
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    NHN is a ghost. Riddle is some kind of Horcrux Entity, which we know can be destroyed by Basilisk Venom, but apparently can't be destroyed by a Basilik's stare. Apr 20, 2017 at 14:36

4 Answers 4


There's no canon proof either way. Even if they aren't, there’d be ways around it.

  • They’d know that the looking into the eyes of the basilisk can kill, so they'd be careful not to.

    Most of the basilisk victims were probably caught off guard by the presence of a basilisk. The Parselmouth controlling it would both know of its existence, and that its stare is deadly. So, if they can be killed by it, they'd probably be careful not to look into its eyes. That should be easy enough. A basilisk is very large, so even if they need to look at it, they can just look somewhere else. In addition, presuming basilisks have functional eyelids, if there's a chance that they might look at its eyes accidentally, they can just tell it to close its eyes.

  • It's possible the basilisk can control if its stare kills, and not use it on the Parselmouth.

    There's no canon information available on whether the basilisk is actually trying to kill each of its victims. We do know, however, that each of its victims are people who Tom Riddle would have wanted dead. No one died who Tom would have wanted to remain living. It's at least possible that the basilisk has to actually be trying to kill someone with its stare for it to work. In that case, the Parselmouth would be completely safe, once it's not intending to kill.

  • Tom, at least, was only a memory, so the stare of a basilisk might not have any effect on him.

    As for how it could work on a ghost and not on him, he says himself that he was less than a ghost when his Horcruxes were the only thing keeping him alive.

    "I was less than spirit, less than the meanest ghost... but still I was alive."
    – Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, Chapter 33 (The Death Eaters)

  • When Harry looks at the basilisk, Fawkes had already torn out its eyes.

    Harry's ability to look at the basilisk is irrelevant to his ability to speak Parseltongue. A basilisk can kill with its stare, but that's presuming it has eyes. No eyes, no stare. That's almost certainly why Fawkes tore out its eyes to begin with. The phoenix isn't a characteristically violent creature, and neither is Fawkes specifically. The logical explanation for him resorting to violence like eye gouging would be to neutralize the basilisk's most powerful weapon.

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    Which leads to the next question...wouldn't Fawkes have needed to look at its eyes to pluck them out?
    – T.E.D.
    Apr 20, 2017 at 21:42
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    +1. I especially like your second bullet-point; I'd always wondered how Riddle managed to specifically kill just the Muggle-borns, and your suggestion would resolve that nicely.
    – ruakh
    Apr 20, 2017 at 22:39
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    @T.E.D. Not necessarily. If you and I are wrestling, I can probably poke you in the eyes even with mine closed. Fakes could have used peripheral vision or come up from an oblique angle. Lots of options.
    – mbm29414
    Apr 20, 2017 at 23:24
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    @T.E.D.: Phoenix tears are the antivenom to Basilisk venom. I would presume that Phoenixes are immune to the deadly stare as well. Apr 21, 2017 at 6:50
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    "Presuming basilisks have functional eyelids..." -- snakes don't have eyelids, and presumably the basilisk wouldn't either.
    – Scimonster
    Apr 21, 2017 at 10:43

The creation of Basilisks has been illegal since medieval times, although the practice is easily concealed by simply removing the chicken egg from beneath the toad when the Department for the Regulation and Control of Magical Creatures comes to call. However, since Basilisks are uncontrollable except by Parselmouths, they are as dangerous to most Dark wizards as to anybody else, and there have been no recorded sightings of Basilisks in Britain for at least four hundred years.
Fantastic Beast and Where to Find Them (2001 textbook) - Basilisk

I see two ways to interpret this statement:

  1. since Basilisks are uncontrollable except by Parselmouths, they are as dangerous to most Dark wizards as to anybody else

    The only advantage of a Parselmouth is their ability to control a basilisk, not being immune to its effects.

  2. since Basilisks are uncontrollable except by Parselmouths, they are as dangerous to most Dark wizards as to anybody else

    Basilisks aren't dangerous to Parselmouths.


No. Parseltongue is a language, though an inherent one, and as such cannot afford the speaker immunity against the Basilisk. Tom Riddle is a 'ghost' conjured up by the diary - notice that the diary is down in the chamber? This 'ghost' of Riddle cannot be anywhere that the diary isn't, which is why he couldn't get to Harry before he convinced Ginny to throw the diary into the girl's bathroom so he could manipulate Harry into finding it. Meaning that because he is even less real than Nearly Headless Nick, who is momentarily paralysed by the Basilisk's stare, he can look it in the eye and not be affected. Think of it like this, the Tom Riddle we see is a ripple in time, a tiny fold that can interact and even manipulate things around him to a small extent, though he requires a source of power to feed off of, and that is Ginny. The only reason Harry can look the Basilisk in the eye after he'd been chased through those tunnels is because Fawkes tore its eyes out. Without its eyes, the Basilisk cannot use its magic, thus being unable to paralyse or kill anyone with its stare alone, which is why it goes from being passive-aggressive to physical aggression. Think about all the students it paralysed. Why didn't it try to bite them like it did Harry? Because its eyes had done the work. The students wouldn't die right away since they'd all seen the eyes indirectly - mirrors, pools of water, a camera - but like any coma patients, their bodies would eventually starve of nutrients and they'd die, meaning the Basilisk didn't need to actively attack anyone, and why it didn't finish them off by tearing out their throats (that, and it's a kid's book).

Conclusion; neither Tom Riddle, Harry Potter, or any other person who can talk Parseltongue is immune to the stare of a Basilisk. In fact, I'd go as far as to say that it had always been Riddle's plan to use a Horcrux to unleash the Basilisk when he was no longer at Hogwarts, thus removing the risk of it turning on him - he was a Mudblood, after all, and the Basilisk was raised by Slytherin himself to attack any non-purebloods - and that the one previous time it was unleashed was him basically taking it for a test drive.

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    "he was a Mudblood, after all, and the Basilisk was raised by Slytherin himself to attack any non-purebloods." Tom Riddle was a half-blood, not a Mudblood.
    – Kyle V
    Apr 20, 2017 at 15:10
  • Ah, yes, sorry. Apr 20, 2017 at 17:50
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    @KyleV - So you are implying that Potterverse bigots don't use the one-drop rule?
    – T.E.D.
    Apr 20, 2017 at 22:15
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    @T.E.D., don't you remember Harry taunting the Death Eaters about that? Quote is something like, "Voldemort? He's a half-blood, did you know that? Yeah, his mum was a witch, but his dad was a muggle! Or has he been telling you lot he's pureblood?"
    – Wildcard
    Apr 20, 2017 at 23:09
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    "Parseltongue is a language, though an inherent one, and as such cannot afford the speaker immunity against the Basilisk." Why not? Citation needed! The gene combination that allows communicating with snakes could also grant immunity to snake venoms and death stares. I'm not saying that it does, but you'd need proof to discard that possibility.
    – xDaizu
    Apr 21, 2017 at 11:42

The only way this could ever happen is if that Parselmouth, (Tom Riddle, in this case) wasn't completely alive.
Here's why: After Harry had already entered in the Chamber of Secrets attempting to save Ginny, Tom tried to kill him by having summoned the Basilisk out of Salazar Slytherin's mouth, yet he looked straight into those murderous eyes before it attacked Harry, and he survived that because he was only a 'memory, only because he came out of his diary, which was his first-ever Horcrux.
However, if Tom tried to do that when he was a student at Hogwarts, that would've immediately killed him.

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