We know that characters in HP world become ghosts after their deaths if they were scared of death and they have chosen to die.

"I was afraid of death. I chose to remain behind. I sometimes wonder whether I oughtn't to have… well, that is neither here nor there ... in fact, I am neither here nor there ... I know nothing of the secrets of death, Harry, for I chose my feeble imitation of life instead." -- Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, p. 861

This seems to be the case of

Peter Pettigrew

he obviously doesn't want to die, he is scared (at the moment of his death as well as his whole life). He was a rat all his life, I would guess he would be a rat in this decision.

So did he became a ghost? If not, why?

  • 6
    What Nick relates is just one condition among several, or there'd be wizard ghosts all over the place. Also, Pettigrew dies near the end of the series - there's no time in the plot to see if his ghost remains or not.
    – Radhil
    May 31, 2017 at 14:54
  • 3
    Also, I think he was afraid to stay on Earth after all he did...
    – Saphirel
    May 31, 2017 at 15:08
  • This isn't really a duplicate of my question, I was asking about Death Eaters in general, and this one asks about Peter Pettigrew specifically. The answers for him may be different because we know more about him than is able to be said about Death Eaters in general. Each Death Eater would have their own personal reasons for not coming back as a ghost.
    – Obsidia
    Jun 28, 2017 at 22:40

2 Answers 2


Fear cuts both ways. This question covers why none of the Death Eaters came back.

But if you're asking about Peter in particular, there's the manner of his death. It may have been different in the movie, but in the book, because he hesitates to kill Harry, the hand given to him by Voldie chokes him to death.

Now, this was a sort of booby trap laid in place should he ever betray/think of betraying Voldie. Would you really want to come back and face 'ol no-nose after that? In the powerless form of a ghost? Were I a consummate coward, I would most certainly chose the unknowns of death over facing Lord Moldiewarts.

The linked question above covers how powerless ghosts are, relative to wizards. Bottom line, they can't cast spells and ARE subject to magic and wizarding law. (Moaning Myrtle for example, is basically incarcerated in Hogwarts because she stalked someone.)

Do disregard anything Peeves can do, because he's a poltergeist, and doesn't follow the rules the other ghosts have (such as an inability to touch or move objects), but it is important to note that they have very little influence on the physical, and they never cast magic in their new form, which I think is the most important thing to remember.

Reasons why Peter would not.

  • If he dies, he gets out of a bad situation, even if he doesn't know what's next.
  • If Harry wins, his ghost may be punished by the ministry. If Voldie does...eternity is a long time to be tortured when you cannot die.
  • Ghosts don't have power. Whatever you might think of Pettigrew, he was a brilliant wizard, even if it didn't show--the guy became an animagus. Even if he DID have help from his friends, it actually takes some personal power in order to do that. Also, he managed to cover up his own death and fool investigators.
  • 2
    Also, don't forget. Ghosts are forever. I'd be terrified of having to spend eternity here
    – BlueMoon93
    Jun 1, 2017 at 14:45

I think the main point of distinction here is "not wanting to die" vs "being afraid of death". No character in the Harry Potter world "wants" to die, that's what keeps people from doing reckless stuff, such as jumping out the window just for the fun of it, or drinking poison to find out what it tastes like. Pettigrew didn't want to die when he was killed, sure, but neither did Harry when he reached Kings Cross in the last book and was given the opportunity to 'move on' by Dumbledore, and instead he chose to come back to fight Voldemort. Pettigrew was a traitor, but was brave enough to risk the wrath of his friends by giving secret information to Voldemort and was a central DE member (had the dark mark) so I don't think that we can classify him as someone who should have become a ghost for being afraid of death.

The exact process of becoming a ghost in Harry Potter is not clear, and I don't think the way Pettigrew reacted at the moment he was killed can be used as conclusive proof that he should have become a ghost. For example, Myrtle was killed suddenly by the basilisk, she did not show any reaction that would suggest she was afraid of getting killed, but ended up becoming a ghost anyway.

  • 1
    Fear of death is cited as far as the reason for Nearly Headless Nick, but there may, in fact be many reasons for choosing not to move on.Like the Bloody Baron--according to the story Helena Ravenclaw tells, he commits SUICIDE out of guilt for killing her (she doesn't say that she instantly turns into a ghost before he kills himself). Sounds like he may be staying out of guilt. I think the desire or emotion motivating coming back has to be a little unbalanced and abnormal for it to take. Jun 1, 2017 at 15:22
  • Myrtle may have stayed just to bother Olive Hornby. The teacher that's a ghost may have been addicted to routine. Everyone cites fear of death, but I think you are correct and there are as many reasons why as there are ghosts. That's just Nick's explaination. Jun 1, 2017 at 15:24

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.