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  • Sirius shows exactly why he was the right person to be Harry's godfather - he breaks out of Azkaban, a supposedly inescapable prison, because a murderer is going to be near his godson. This whilst being severely affected by the dementors, emaciated, probably out of practice magically, and something which required him to swim from an island in the middle of the ocean to the mainland while in the form of a dog.
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  • Harry (accidentally) inflating Aunt Marge after she insults his dead parents by calling them useless drunks.
  • Snape calls Hermione "an insufferable little know-it-all" when she answers a question out of turn. Harry acknowledges almost everyone in the class thinks Hermione is indeed a know-it-all, but Snape was totally out of line for calling her that. Ron gets detention for calling him out on it, but it's the principle of the thing.
    "You asked us a question and she knows the answer! Why ask if you don’t want to be told?
  • Hermione slapping Draco in the face for making fun of Hagrid, who was crying over Buckbeak beung sentenced to death. Little twerp had it coming for a long time... And then driving Draco (who, remember, never hesitates to toss a taunt or racial slur her way) into full retreat by merely pulling out her wand. It suddenly occurred to him that he's just pushed the most talented witch in the school one inch too far. And to make it better, she outsped Harry and Ron who were charging to do the same.
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  • Ron has had his leg broken by a deranged murderer (he is led to believe) and can basically be defeated by a stiff wind. So he tells that same murderer, while standing on said broken leg, probably through excruciating pain, placing himself between them, if he wants Harry, he'll have to go through him. Steve Kloves can be safely ignored on this front: Ron is Harry's man, through and through. An easily missed example of this is when the Grim, really Sirius, attacks Harry, Ron, and Hermione to get at Pettigrew. Out of the three, Ron has been the most superstitious about the Grim throughout the whole book. So what does he do when he sees a massive dog that looks like a Grim attack Harry? He instantly gets to his feet and pushes Harry out of the way, letting the Grim take him instead.
  • Expecto Patronum! A lone, small, underfed 13-year-old boy against more than a hundred soul suckers. The lone, small, underfed boy wins.
  • The second and third Quidditch matches. Oliver finally gets to finally hold the award he has wanted and been denied every book previously.
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    • Also, in a moment unfortunately cut from the movie, Harry's Patronus flattening Draco and his cronies when they made the mistake of disguising themselves as Dementors to scare him.
  • The entirety of the Shrieking Shack scene.
    • Harry, Ron, and Hermione actually physically subdue Sirius.
    • "The Marauder's Map never lies. Peter's alive, Harry. Ron's holding him."
    • "I want to finally commit the murder I was imprisoned for!"
    • "If you want to get to Harry, you'll have to go through me!"
    • "YOU'RE PATHETIC!"
    • "THEN YOU SHOULD HAVE DIED! DIED RATHER THAN BETRAY YOUR FRIENDS, AS WE WOULD HAVE DONE FOR YOU!"
  • Boy scouts they weren't, but the Marauders - a bunch of teenagers not much older than Harry and his friends were at the time of this book - not only learned the highly advanced process of becoming Animagi for the sake of a friend, (to have an idea how difficult that is, registered Animagi in their century were less than twenty) but also created a detailed map of the near entirety of Hogwarts Castle that is also capable of tracking the location of any person that sets foot there. It's stated to work well enough that Harry can use it nearly twenty years after its creation... and implied to still work just as well after nearly another quarter-century, at which point Word of God says Harry's son (fittingly named for two of the Marauders) takes the map for himself. The fact that they innovated such a powerful magical artifact at probably around 14-15 years old (they completed their transformations in their fifth year which took them three years to prepare which meant they started in Year 2-Year 3) speaks to some great talent. Death can't see anyone under the Invisibility Cloak. The Marauder's Map can.
  • Lupin's first class is a Moment of Awesome Teaching, simultaneously educating the students about a monstrous threat, giving all the Gryffindors a bonding experience, re-invigorating interest in a course that'd been sold woefully short by its last two instructors, and helping kick-start Neville Longbottom's developing self-confidence in future books.
  • Though an Offscreen Moment of Awesome, Lupin driving off the Dementors and wandlessly conjuring fire is awesome in its own quiet way.
    • In hindsight, Lupin driving off a dementor with an incorporeal patronus. Harry Potter produces what may be he most powerful patronus of his class year, but even his is useless against an imitation of a dementor in its incorporeal form. The teachers are appropriately on another level entirely.
      • There is also him mouthing off to the dementor
      None of us are hiding Sirius Black under our cloaks.
  • Though there's not denying that his actions were loathsome, the fact that Peter Pettigrew was able to spy for Voldemort and the Death Eaters without suspicion is pretty awesome. Even Dumbledore himself didn't seem to suspect him.
  • While it came for naught due to Marge's visit becoming a disaster, Harry straight up blackmailing Uncle Vernon into signing his Hogsmeade form in exchange for sticking with the lies they have told her about him. Its extremely satisfying especially when you realize that this is one of the few times Harry own his own, without anyone else to assist, is getting back at the Dursleys for their abuse, and with just his wits and not magic. Vernon reluctantly agrees to sign the form if Marge's visit goes well. This bit is extremely sweet:
    Harry: What if I accidentally let something slip?
    Vernon: You’ll get the stuffing knocked out of you, won’t you?
    Harry: Knocking the stuffing out of me won’t make Aunt Marge forget what I could tell her.
  • Harry terrifying the Dursleys by telling them he has a godfather who is a convicted murderer.
Movie
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EXPECTO PATRONUM!!
  • Harry arrives at the Leaky Cauldron and Tom, the Inkeeper, mentions that Hedwig arrived "not five minutes before yourself"; as far as we're aware, Hedwig was in a cage the last time we saw her. So, she's gotten herself out of the cage, out of a room with a closed window and all the way to London in a period of about fifteen to twenty minutes. Who's a good Owl?
  • Instead of slapping Draco, Hermione straight-up punches him.
    • "You foul, loathsome, evil little cockroach!"
    • Even more awesome considering Harry and Ron had just talked her out of hurting Draco (she had him at wandpoint). She calms down, turns his back on him, Malfoy almost immediately recovers his smug look, and then she turns right back around to clock him right in the face. Malfoy's head even seems to bounce off the brick wall behind him!
      Hermione: That felt good.
      Ron: Not good...brilliant!
    • What's more awesome is that the punch fazed Malfoy so much, that he and his colleagues immediately booked it. Malfoy then looked back at Hermione donning a look of terror. If that's not awesome, what is? This moment is now easily one of the most iconic of the films.
  • Snape gets one he never got in the books. Runs out of the Whomping Willow, fuming about Harry's unprovoked attack on him, sees a werewolf about to eat them, and his first gut response is to stand between the kids and the wolf. Not bad, Snape, not bad at all. His getting Remus sacked the next morning doesn't seem that spiteful when you consider this scene: it no doubt reminds him of what happened when he was at Hogwarts, and all he's thinking is "there go the bloody Marauders, putting students in danger again."
    • If you pay attention to his face the moment he shields Harry, Ron and Hermione, you can sees he's almost as alarmed as they are by the werewolf. The last time he was this close to a fully-transformed werewolf he was only a few years old than the students and it probably was just as frightening an experience. Yet he doesn't move, even when the werewolf is almost right on top of him.
  • When Buckbeak attacks the werewolf to defend Harry and Hermione and quickly scares it off! In the novel Hagrid worries outloud about whether Buckbeak encountered the werewolf during its escape. It turns out Hagrid had nothing to worry about.
  • And not long before, Hermione piecing together three or four small bits of information not once, but twice, both in the span of seconds, to create a Stable Time Loop and ensure that what needs to happen happens.
    • Once, when she beans Harry with an odd-shaped rock she remembers seeing to make him realize that they're about to get caught so they'll leave Hagrid's hut.
    • And then distracting the werewolfed-out Lupin with a fake call to get him to come towards them instead, because they're in exactly the right place at the right time and a werewolf only responds to the call of another werewolf.
      Hermione: Saving your life!
  • Hermione using the spell 'Bombarda' to dramatically break open Sirius's cell. Bonus for accompanying awesome music.
  • Sirius whooping as he, Harry, and Hermione fly away from his cell on Buckbeak.
  • The entire time-travel sequence. Not only do they save Sirius, not only do they save Buckbeak, but they save themselves — Harry by using a Patronus to protect himself and Sirius from Dementors, and Hermione by distracting a transformed Lupin (with a wolf call) from attacking Harry, Ron, Snape and herself. All without being seen. More than one innocent life spared, indeed!
  • Harry delivering a Big "SHUT UP!" to Aunt Marge who cruelly badmouths Harry's dead parents right in front of him. Laser-Guided Karma kicks in when Harry causes her to inflate like a zeppelin and send her floating into the skies above!
    • What makes it even more awesome is that Harry doesn't even lift a finger to do this. He gives his aunt exactly what she had coming to her through nothing but raw anger.
    • Bonus points for telling Vernon straight to his face that he won't restore her to normal and frightens him when he whips out his wand. Harry has made clear he's no longer taking their abuse sitting down, and spells out to them Screw This, I'm Outta Here!.
  • Harry's flight on Buckbeak. Especially the moment when they're flying over a lake and Harry sits up, spreads his arms out, and whoops in joy! Particularly since in the book Harry doesn't enjoy the flight (which is depicted as short, stilted and awkward) at all. It's nice to see him having a chance for a bit of fun.
  • As Sirius is explaining to Harry, Ron and Hermione that Pettigrew is alive, he points at Scabbers and says "right there!"; before Sirius has even said it, Lupin is giving one very scary look at said rat.
  • Normally, according to J.K. Rowling, it takes exceptionally powerful magic to keep working after the caster is dead (hence why Neville's parents are still insane after Bellatrix Lestrange dies). The Marauders are all dead by the end of the series, but the map is still working. Talk about some power...
  • A Meta example: the extremely minor scene when MacNair, the executioner, eerily grins at Harry when he passes by. Goblet of Fire reveals MacNair to be a Death Eater, adding a new level of depth to the tiny, otherwise inconsequential scene. While MacNair never does anything else in the series notable besides preside over Buckbeak's execution, it's a very coy, Shown Their Work type of Foreshadowing that must be given credit, and may have been unintentional!
  • Another Meta example: Prisoner of Azkaban is the second highest-rated film in the franchise according to both Rotten Tomatoes (92%) and Metacritic (81%). It's almost even with the number one spot: Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2 (RT 96%, MC 87%).
  • And a third, anyone? Gary Oldman, David Thewlis, Alan Rickman and Timothy Spall were all in one room together. How did the cameras not explode from the sheer awesomeness?
  • Kudos to Emma Watson, that is one fucking loud, long scream she manages when flying on Buckbeak! How the hell she managed that without actually being scared, we'll never know.
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