Peeves the poltergeist very rarely takes commands from anyone. However, he does listen to the Bloody Baron. What's the story behind this?

Let me summarize some of what we know about Peeves.

We learn that the Baron is the only one who can really control Peeves in Philosopher's Stone chapter 7, when we first meet Peeves, and Percy Weasley says

‘You want to watch out for Peeves,’ said Percy, as they set off again. ‘The Bloody Baron's the only one who can control him, he won't even listen to us Prefects. […]’

This later becomes a plot point: in PS chapter 16, Peeves catches the trio under the Invisibility Cloak, but Harry gets rid of him by pretending to be the Bloody Baron. Peeves is apparently terrified of having insulted the Baron (“almost fell out of the air in shock”), and leaves.

We know Peeves cooperates with Filch to catch students out of bed, and with the Weasley twins to wreak havoc in the castle and annoy Umbridge, but he does this in his own interest, enjoying what he does, and isn't actually controlled by Filch or the Weasleys.

Professors like McGonagall and Lupin and probably Dumbledore do sometimes have some authority over Peeves, see eg. PS. chapter 9 when McGonagall orders Peeves out of a room. This could be because they are powerful enough magic users to do magic on Peeves if he doesn't obey. Also, Peeves is very connected to Hogwarts, as we can see in Deathly Hallows, so that might be why he respects the authority figures of Hogwarts somewhat. Peeves thus tries to mostly stay out of their ways unless necessary, but it doesn't look like he's as terrified of them or respectful to them as he is to the Baron.

In PS chapter 7, the House ghosts are arguing about Peeves, mentioning things like “haven't we given Peeves all the chances he deserves?” and that “he gives us a bad name.” I think there's a possibility that any ghost has some way to interact with Peeves and control him more easily than the students, and the Baron just uses this in the most skilled way among the ghost, or is the only really terrifying personality among them.

Now a few facts about the Baron. We know his story. In short, he was a liege of the Hogwarts founder Rowena Ravenclaw, and the lover of her daughter Helena. Rowena Ravenclaw had sent him after Helena, who wouldn't return with him, so the Baron killed the girl in a rage, then committed suicide. As a ghost, he wears the chains and the blood as penance.

We don't know everything though, as the story doesn't explain why he became the Slytherin house ghost if he was a liege of Ravenclaw. (The Grey Lady is Helena, the daughter of Ravenclaw, and the Fat Friar claims that Hufflepuff was his former house, which explains how they got associated with their houses.)

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    The Baron could have been a member of Slytherin and still in love with Helen. Cross-house romances aren't unknown (hello, Harry and Cho!).
    – dlanod
    Commented May 13, 2012 at 22:25
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    The Baron was in love with Helena, but there's never any mention of them actually being lovers; his love seems quite unrequited, in fact, and it's probably that which drove him into the rage that ended in him killing her when she refused to go anywhere with him. He was likely sent specifically because of his feelings for her rather than any other association with Ravenclaw. Commented May 13, 2012 at 22:26
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    Rowena Ravenclaw was a witch, not a wizard. Commented May 14, 2012 at 0:49
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    Because he's Bloody Scary. (Sorry, couldn't pass up that one.) Commented Aug 10, 2014 at 13:23
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    “The story doesn't explain why he became the Slytherin house ghost if he was a liege of Ravenclaw” — We don’t know that he was a liege of Ravenclaw, do we? The only thing I can find in the book is, “She sent a man who had long loved me, though I spurned his advances, to find me. She knew that he would not rest until he had done so”, which to me doesn’t imply that the Baron was Rowena’s liege, just that Rowena knew he loved Helena and would do whatever it took for her. Commented Feb 29, 2016 at 7:22

5 Answers 5


While this doesn't answer directly, JKR very clearly indicated that Bloody Baron's influence on Peeves does NOT have anything to do with the story of Baron and Helen.

Camille: What or who is peeves exactly, is he linked with the blood barons story?
J.K. Rowling: No, Peeves is not linked to the bloody Baron’s story.
J.K. Rowling: He is a spirit of chaos that entered the building long ago and has proved impossible to eradicate!

(src: J.K. Rowling Interview; The Deathly Hallows Web Chat; July 2007)

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    Hmmm… well, she has said that Peeves as such is not related to the Baron’s back story, which we know to be true (he had nothing to do with the Baron going to Albania and killing Helena Ravenclaw). She hasn’t, to my knowledge, said anything about whether the Baron’s influence over Peeves has anything to do with his back story. Commented Feb 29, 2016 at 7:20

Here's a little more information about Peeves and who can and cannot control him. Allegedly, Peeves answers to Dumbledore:

ES: Why does Dumbledore allow Peeves to stay in the castle?

JKR: Can't get him out.

ES: He's Dumbledore: he can do anything!

JKR: No, no, no, no, no. Peeves is like dry rot. You can try and eradicate it. It comes with the building. You're stuck. If you've got Peeves, you're stuck.

ES: But Peeves answers to Dumbledore -

JKR: Allegedly.

MA: Allegedly?

JKR: Yeah. I see Peeves as like a severe plumbing problem in a very old building, and Dumbledore is slightly better with the spanner¹ than most people, so he can maybe make it function better for a few weeks. Then it's going to start leaking again. Would you want Peeves gone, honestly?

MA: If I was Harry I might, but as a reader I enjoy him. I enjoyed him most when he started obeying Fred and George at the end of Book 5.

JKR: Yeah, that was fun. I enjoyed that. That was satisfying. [Laughter]


Well, the Bloody Baron was a violent man who killed Helena Ravenclaw because she did not wish to... liege? ...with him. His entitlement to possess Helena Ravenclaw superseded her right to live in this mind -- he was not a good man, his remorse and suicide aside. To answer your question about Peeves, though, I personally cannot find any definitive statement in canon or from J.K. Rowling that directly explains why the Bloody Baron is able to exert some control over Peeves.

Nor is it specifically explained anywhere why the Bloody Baron is Slytherin's ghost (that I can find), but why shouldn't he be Slytherin's ghost? Slytherin's ghost had to be the spirit of someone, and there's no indication in the books that a potential romance or romance is restricted to a person becoming involved with another member of one's particular house: Harry/Cho; Ginny/Michael Corner (Ravenclaw); Andromeda Black Tonks (Slytherin)/Ted Tonks (Hufflepuff); Tonks (Hufflepuff)/Lupin(Gryffindor); Snape/Lily; Percy/Penelope Clearwater (Ravenclaw); Cedric/Cho; Hermione/Krum (Durmstrang); Neville/Hannah Abbott (Hufflepuff); Etc.

¹Spanner is a British term that means "wrench". I'd never heard this term before.

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    I've always called it a "pipe wrench." :) Commented May 14, 2012 at 1:15
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    @GabeWillard Looks like a pipe wrench is what you need to work on a toilet flange, and "spanner" and "pipe wrench" are the same thing.
    – Izkata
    Commented May 14, 2012 at 1:33
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    It's fair to say I did not research "spanner" extensively, LOL! :D Commented May 14, 2012 at 2:09
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    Primarily, a 'spanner' is just the generic UK term for a Wrench; there are types (open ended, ring, monkey, etc.), but it's just a wrench. See Wikipedia on The Wrench or Wiktionary on Wrench.
    – K-H-W
    Commented Mar 10, 2014 at 3:29
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    Must be U.S. regional, because I've never heard it called a toilet flange in either Northeastern or Southwestern U.S. A spanner is called a wrench in Texas. Commented Jan 23, 2015 at 20:52

Peeves seems to be, quite simply, scared of the Bloody Baron.

Peeves most likely listened to the Bloody Baron because he was scared of him. Though the Hogwarts ghosts are nowhere near as mischievous as Peeves and therefore unlikely to do anything that would anger him like Peeves would, they also seemed to be off-put by his presence.

“Harry wasn’t surprised to see that the Bloody Baron, a gaunt, staring Slytherin ghost covered in silver bloodstains, was being given a wide berth by the other ghosts.”
- Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, Chapter 8 (The Deathday Party)

The Bloody Baron seems to be the most “frightening” of all the ghosts at Hogwarts, even to the other ghosts. Therefore, it’s logical that of all the ghosts, Peeves would be the most afraid of him. In addition, the Bloody Baron was one of the least patient ghosts with regard to Peeves’s antics, and was also known to have a short temper. So, the Bloody Baron, being both scary and impatient with Peeves, would logically be the one Peeves was most afraid of.

“Peeves, of course,’ said Nearly Headless Nick, shaking his head, which wobbled dangerously. He pulled his ruff a little higher up his neck. ‘The usual argument, you know. He wanted to attend the feast – well, it’s quite out of the question, you know what he’s like, utterly uncivilised, can’t see a plate of food without throwing it. We held a ghosts’ council – the Fat Friar was all for giving him the chance – but most wisely, in my opinion, the Bloody Baron put his foot down.”
- Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, Chapter 12 (The Triwizard Tournament)

The JKR Pottermore writing on Peeves somewhat confirms this - it says that Peeves would generally listen to the teachers, and was afraid of the Bloody Baron.

Peeves does recognise authority of a sort. Though generally unimpressed by titles and badges, he is generally amenable to the strictures of the teachers, agreeing to stay out of their classrooms while they teach. He has also been known to show an affinity for rare students (notably Fred and George Weasley), and is certainly afraid of the ghost of Slytherin, the Bloody Baron.

So, it seems it’s simply that the Bloody Baron scares Peeves, and Peeves listens due to his fear.


In short, Peeves didn't listen to many people, because he's a specter and can't be harmed so he's free to keep up his shenanigans all he pleases. He honored the Weasley twin's request to "give em hell" because they were kindreds in their love of mischief and he saw their defiance against Umbridge as an act of valor.

He more than likely listens to the Baron for different reasons: he's also a specter so he could and probably WOULD harm Peeves, which is supported by his previous history with the Ravenclaw ghost.

  • Peeves is a Poltergeist; the Bloody Baron is a ghost. The two are quite different in the HP universe
    – Au101
    Commented Sep 12, 2015 at 20:35

Maybe Peeves once Made Bloody Baron annoyed, and the retribution that the latter did to former was enought to make Peeves terrified of Bloody Baron forver. It was shwon in the seventh book that Hogwarts ghosts can interact physically with people, Nearly headless Nick touched Harry's hands and lift them a bit. Só its plausible Baron hurt Peeves to point of make the latter permanntly traumatized.

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    Do you have any evidence to support this speculation?
    – Blackwood
    Commented Jul 9, 2016 at 18:10
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    Welcome to SFF. This seems like speculation. Please see our Tour page to see the kind of answers we are looking for.
    – Skooba
    Commented Jul 9, 2016 at 18:41

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