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EXPECTO PATRONUM!
"I don't go looking for trouble. Trouble usually finds me."
Harry Potter
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Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban is the third Harry Potter book. Published July 8, 1999, this was the last book published separately in the US and UK and the last "quiet" release of a Harry Potter book. It is also often considered the point at which the series Grew the Beard.

Sirius Black has escaped from Azkaban, the wizarding prison. In response, the Ministry of Magic sends Dementors, a Black Cloaked race of dreadful creatures who guard Azkaban, to guard Hogwarts and their Emotion Eating powers seem to affect Harry especially. Remus Lupin, meanwhile, makes his first appearance, taking on the dreaded Defence Against the Dark Arts post.

The book's popularity may be partially due to the introductions of Sirius and Lupin, whom some fans consider to be two of the coolest characters in the series. It also marks the point where the books started to become more serialized with each ending setting up the next one (the first two books were largely self-contained stories whose events did not significantly influence the progression of the series' overarching plot). It also has, quite possibly, the most complicated plot of the entire series, drawing in characters and events from all over the place; the Prisoner of Azkaban is obviously important, but the way he is important zig-zags several times over the course of the novel, and the same thing happens to a lot of other characters. The result is that, by the end of this book, the story's landscape has irrevocably changed ... and readers know that things are going to get really interesting from now on.

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Followed by Harry's fourth year at Hogwarts, in Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire. The film adaptation was released in 2004.


I solemnly swear that these tropes are up to no good:

  • 13 Is Unlucky:
    • Sirius Black's last crime before being imprisoned was the murder of thirteen people. Fridge Brilliance kicks in when you think of the thirteenth "victim", Peter Pettigrew.
    • Trelawney brings this up during the Christmas feast, claiming that "the first to rise will be the first to die". Harry and Ron get up at the same time.
      "My dears! Which one of you left his seat first? Which?"
      "Dunno," said Ron, looking uneasily at Harry.
      "I doubt it will make much difference," said Professor McGonagall coldly, "unless a mad axe-man is waiting outside the doors to slaughter the first into the Entrance Hall."
      • It turns out that Trelawney was unintentionally right, as Pettigrew, as Scabbers, was in Ron's pocket, making him the thirteenth person. And then Dumbledore stands up before Harry and Ron do.
  • Actually Pretty Funny:
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    • McGonagall invokes this a few times when she sees that Trelawney is scaring Harry with predictions about his death, to show that she thinks Divination is bunk. At her first Transfiguration class and Harry reveals that Trelawney predicted he had a death omen, the professor snarks that Harry seems to be in good health so he still has to do his homework. If he does die, then she won't require him to hand it in for grading. Despite himself, Harry laughs in relief. Later, she makes a similar joke when Trelawney says that 13 Is Unlucky at the Christmas feast table, just after Harry and Ron stand up. Everyone except Trelawney chuckles.
    • Lupin says that you have to fight a Boggart this way when they summon your worst fear. Laughter is the opposite of fear, so if you find a way to make people laugh at a Boggart, they lose their power. Harry notes that there is one drawback: when there is no way to make the fear less scary. Lupin has a plan B for that: teach Harry how a Boggart can help him work on his Patronus spell.
    • The Gryffindors laugh at Malfoy's ill-advised attempt to prank Harry by having himself, Crabbe, Goyle, and Marcus Flint dress up as Dementors during the match with Ravenclaw. Harry cast a Patronus strong enough to knock them all over, which made the crowd realize they were fakes. McGonagall is the only one to take the prank seriously, giving the lot detention and deducting fifty points from Slytherin. Harry finds it hilarious because according to Lupin, he "gave Mr. Malfoy quite a fright" and Malfoy gets tangled up in the robes since he was standing on Marcus's shoulders. Lupin is also amused while praising Harry for his technique. It's implied that thanks to this prank, Harry figured out how to defeat a Boggart that takes a Dementor's form.
  • The Alcatraz: Azkaban, which was first mentioned in Book 2, is a prison for witches and wizards considered inescapable thanks to being patrolled by Dementors, ghostly jailors that feed on positive emotions, thus literally preventing prisoners from hoping to escape. The titular prisoner is able to partially resist them by transforming into an animal.
  • Amusing Injuries: Largely averted (as Ron and Draco are both seriously injured by the Whomping Willow and Buckbeak respectively) but briefly played straight when, on Christmas morning, after Crookshanks once again goes for Scabbers, Ron tries to kick Crookshanks, but misses and hits Harry's trunk instead.
  • Analogy Backfire: Ron and Hermione defy the prospect of this. There are two Noodle Incidents they mention while reading for precedent to get Buckbeak acquitted. In both cases, the magical creature was found guilty at its trial.
  • Anxiety Dreams: Harry has these whenever Dementors are around.
  • Arc Villain: Subverted. Sirius is built up as the main antagonist, but he's a good guy. The real villains, ironically, are the Dementors, the ones guarding the titular prisoner. And Pettigrew.
  • An Arm and a Leg:
    • The reason the last Care of Magical Creatures teacher retired, freeing the job up for Hagrid.
    Dumbledore: I am sorry to say that Professor Kettleburn has retired from his post at the end of last term, in order to enjoy more time with his remaining limbs.
    • Discussed; Hagrid says that if he had cornered Sirius Black before Pettigrew did, he would have "ripped him limb from limb."
  • Armour Piercing Response: When it appears to Hagrid that Harry and Ron care more about broomsticks and rats than they do about Hermione, he brings it to their attention when they talk about Buckbeak and the fiasco at trying to get an appeal. Their response? They feel highly uncomfortable about the subject. Hagrid even tells Ron that Hermione was worried sick about him after Sirius Black attacked Ron, in spite of their feud over Crookshanks and Scabbers.
    Hagrid: But, I gotta tell yeh, I thought you two'd value yer friend more'n broomsticks or rats. Tha's all.
  • Armour-Piercing Slap: Hermione gets fed up with Malfoy mocking Hagrid (though lack of sleep has amplified her temper) so she smacks him right across the face. Malfoy is so stunned that he runs away. The film changes it to her threatening him with her wand, and then punching him on the nose.
  • Awful Truth: Done twice, first with the story Harry overhears about how Sirius betrayed Harry's parents and isn't just an insane criminal, then the real truth of Peter's even crueller betrayal. Whether the real truth is slightly better or slightly worse is debatable. On one hand, the traitor wasn't James' best friend, and said best friend is still alive. On the other hand, not only did Peter betray the Potters and murder a dozen innocent people, he framed Sirius for his crimes and got to live happily at the Weasleys' for twelve years.
  • Barred from the Afterlife: It's implied that this is the fate of victims of the Dementor's Kiss, since their souls are devoured by the Dementors and forever lost.
  • Berserk Button:
    • Harry reacts furiously to taunts about his parents from first Aunt Marge and then Snape.
    • When Snape calls Hermione an insufferable know-it-all, Ron lashes out at Snape, despite having himself insulted Hermione thusly.
    • Don't call Hagrid pathetic in front of Hermione, unless you're looking for a slap in the face.
    • Do not venture out of Hogwarts to see Hagrid, especially if you're Harry and have a known murderer out to get you.
    • This book shows us how McGonagall reacts to someone deliberately pulling off foul play in Quidditch. TWICE.
  • Beware the Nice Ones: Remus Lupin. At the climax of the book when he and Sirius confront Peter with the evidence of his betrayal, Sirius asks him casually, "Shall we kill him together?" and Remus simply answers "Yes, I think so." He then tells Peter that he should have known the two of them would kill him if he were to betray James.
  • Big Bad Ensemble: The Dementors and Peter Pettigrew.
  • Big Friendly Dog: Black's Animagus form. It's appropriate, since he was Good All Along and stayed loyal to his original cause.
  • Big "NO!": Ron when Sirius breaks into the boys' dormitory to murder Pettigrew and Ron thinks Sirius is after him. His scream prior to invoking this trope takes up an entire line on the page.
  • Big "SHUT UP!": Harry yells this at Snape in the latter's office when he keeps insulting James. He does it again when Snape asks him to repeat what he just said ("What did you say to me, Potter?" "I told you to shut up about my dad!").
  • Big "WHAT?!": Harry gets two.
  • Bittersweet Ending: In a departure from the unambiguously Happy Endings of the first two books. Sirius proves his innocence to Harry, Ron, Hermione, Lupin, and Dumbledore, but is forced to go on the run with Buckbeak when Pettigrew escapes. Additionally, Lupin is forced to resign when the school discovers he's a werewolf and Harry worries about Trelawney's prophecy and the consequences of sparing Wormtail potentially bringing Voldemort back. Depressed about the prospect of continuing to live with the Dursleys instead of his godfather, Harry cheers up when he gets a letter from Sirius and is glad that he now has someone who he can consider real family.
  • Bookends
    • The first and last chapters are called "Owl Post" and "Owl Post Again", respectively.
    • Lupin's first lesson for the third-years is about the Boggart. For his final exam near the end of the school year, Lupin sets up an obstacle course of magical creatures, ending with a Boggart confrontation.
  • Book Snap: Hermione does this and storms off to another class when Ron makes an Innocently Insensitive remark. This leaves Harry and Ron confused, since they don't know that she's using a Time-Turner to attend multiple classes.
  • Brain–Computer Interface: Magical equivalent with the Firebolt seeming to respond to Harry's thoughts instead of his grip.
  • Breather Episode: Can be considered this compared to The Chamber of Secrets. Apart from the Dementors and Sirius Black supposedly attacking the school, the stakes this time aren't quite as high as they used to be. It helps that this is the only book where Everybody Lives. The tradeoff, however, is that this book delves into the characters' darker sides (such as Snape's increasingly unhinged behaviour, corruption in the Ministry, and Harry's grief over his parents), which carries over to the other books.
  • Brick Joke:
  • Broken Win/Loss Streak: Harry loses a Quidditch match for the first time ever because the Dementors invaded the pitch.
  • Bully Bulldog: Aunt Marge breeds them as pets. Ripper used to chase Harry around when he was little.
  • Bullying a Dragon: When the Care of Magical Creatures class is introduced to Buckbeak, Hagrid establishes that hippogriffs are very proud creatures that get very hostile with anyone who insults them. After Harry earns Buckbeak's respect, Malfoy becomes jealous and calls the hippogriff a "great, ugly brute", promptly getting himself injured in the process.
  • Burn the Witch!: Harry's over-the-summer essay for History of Magic is about how pointless medieval witch-burnings were, since the few times the victim was a wizard and not a poor ordinary Muggle, they could simply cast a Flame-Freezing Charm and pretend to be suffering. They go on to mention that some witches and wizards allowed themselves to be caught and burned multiple times because they liked the fact that it felt like being tickled.
  • Care-Bear Stare: The Riddikulus spell has this effect on Boggarts, as does Expecto Patronum on Dementors.
  • Cassandra Truth:
    • Due to the convoluted truth of what really happened the night of the climax, Harry has a hard time convincing anybody. Also done comically, as Trelawney doesn't believe a prophecy that she herself just spoke.
    • Ron buys Harry a Sneakoscope, which is basically a Dark wizard-detector. Harry thinks it's broken as it's constantly going off, none of them realising that it only sounds when Scabbers is around because Scabbers is actually Peter Pettigrew, who divulged James and Lily's whereabouts to Voldemort, in Animagus form.
  • Cats Are Mean: Ron firmly believes this because of Crookshanks' constantly targeting Scabbers, not realizing Sirius has been talking to Crookshanks, and that Crookshanks senses that Scabbers is not what he seems.
  • Cerebus Syndrome: Notably, this is the first book to go into detail about Lily and James Potter's deaths. Additionally, the Dementors are In-Universe Nightmare Fuel Station Attendants par excellence, and the scene of a knife-wielding Sirius Black breaking into the Gryffindor boys' dormitory is pretty scary as well.
  • Chekhov's Classroom: McGonagall mentions in the middle of a scene focused on Professor Trelawney's dubious oracular record the fact that there are wizards known as Animagi who can transform themselves into animals (of whom she is one of only seven registered in Britain in the last century). Towards the end of the book, it is revealed that Sirius Black is an Animagus, as were Peter Pettigrew and James Potter.
  • Chekhov's Gun: The series has its own page.
  • Chekhov's Gunman: This book marks the introduction of the Hufflepuff and Ravenclaw Seekers, Cedric Diggory and Cho Chang, both of whom will go on to have important roles in the next two books.
  • Chekhov's Time Travel: When it is revealed that Time-Turners exist (upon Hermione taking all the possible electives in her third year), it suddenly becomes necessary to use to disguise the group's actions, and to deliver Harry to the lake, to save himself from the Dementors, though he'd thought it was his father.
  • Chewing the Scenery: Ron's reaction (an Overly Long Scream and a Big "NO!") when he wakes up to find Sirius Black holding a knife and standing over him, trying to attack Scabbers/Pettigrew.
  • Classified Information: The locations of the Marauders. When Harry first sees the Marauder's Map in the possession of Fred and George, he isn't shown on the map, but once he is holding the map he is shown on it. He still does not seem to see the original Marauders on it, even when one is in his dorm. (This is different from the movie.)
  • Cold Flames: It's mentioned that ancient witches burned at the stake would use a flame-Freezing Charm so that the fire would just give a tickling sensation instead of burning them.
  • Contempt Crossfire: Harry puts himself between Sirius Black and Peter Pettigrew, when Sirius tries to murder Peter to avenge the murders of Harry's parents and Sirius' imprisonment. Harry does this not because he has any sympathy for Pettigrew (he rejects his snivelling attempts at gratitude), but because he wants to think that his father wouldn't have approved of his friends killing each other (besides which, leaving Pettigrew alive to face trial is a Cruel Mercy).
  • Contrived Coincidence:
    • Had Buckbeak's execution not been scheduled for sunset during a full moon, Pettigrew would have been arrested and Sirius cleared, completely changing the arc of the next four books. Lupin probably would have also remained teacher, since Snape wouldn't have found Sirius while trying to bring Lupin his Wolfsbane Potion and ultimately outed Lupin as a werewolf out of spite. This is especially funny when it's revealed, three books later, that Voldemort cursed the Defence Against the Dark Arts position. So, this curse ultimately enabled Voldemort to make a new body.
    • The only reason that Sirius even breaks out of Azkaban in the first place is that: (A) the Weasleys win a Ministry lottery; (B) this is apparently front-page news to the editors of The Daily Prophet; (C) Ron has Scabbers in the picture; and (D) Cornelius Fudge just happened to be carrying that exact issue of The Daily Prophet when he visits Black's cell.
    • Harry just happens to get his hands on the Marauder's Map the very same year that one of its creators is teaching at Hogwarts. The other three were his own departed father, Ron's rat, and lastly, the eponymous prisoner of Azkaban.
  • Cool Car: The cars provided by the Ministry of Magic to escort Harry and the Weasleys to King's Cross. They're described as having similar capacity to the Ford Anglia (and look better), slipping through gaps where ordinary cars couldn't, and always finding themselves at the front of traffic.
  • Cool Teacher: Lupin effortlessly puts Peeves in his place, tries to help Neville face his fear of Snape, and tutors Harry on how to repel emotion-eating monsters.
  • Covert Pervert: A History of Magic contains an amusing little anecdote: witches and wizards who were caught and burned at the stake cast a charm that would protect them from the fire while all they felt was a gentle tickling sensation. Wendelin the Weird enjoyed it so much that she allowed herself to be caught forty-seven times. Yep, she definitely enjoyed it.
  • Cruel Mercy: Harry asks Sirius and Lupin to spare Pettigrew's life, but not because he feels sorry for him; he just doesn't want them to become murderers. "He can go to Azkaban. If anyone deserves that place, he does."
  • Curse of the Pharaoh: Ron goes to Egypt and visits a series of ancient Egyptian tombs, which are full of the mutated corpses of Muggle (non-magical) explorers who died of curses. Apparently the (wizard) emperors back in the day put crazy curses on their tombs to keep out sacrilegious Muggles.
  • Damned by Faint Praise: Peter inadvertently does this to himself, begging Ron for mercy on the grounds that "I was your rat ... I was a good pet." Sirius retorts, "If you make a better rat than human, it's not much to boast about, Peter."
  • Darker and Edgier: Although the previous novel had some darker elements, the series takes on a more serious and mature tone in this instalment as it goes into detail about how Harry's parents died. It also explores Harry's darker emotions over his parents' deaths, as well as his darker side, when he attempts to murder Black. The Dementors are genuinely terrifying as they suck people's souls: a Fate Worse than Death. The Shrieking Shack encounter is rather intense with the aforementioned murder attempt, Harry and his friends disarming Snape at the same time, knocking him out, Snape's rather unhinged behaviour to the point where he was willing to have the Dementor's Kiss performed on Sirius due to their school rivalry, and Sirius and Lupin nearly murdering Wormtail. And it concludes on a Bittersweet Ending, in which despite Harry and Hermione rescuing Sirius and Buckbeak from the Ministry and the Dementors, Harry can't live with Sirius and leave the Dursleys because he is still on the run. Lupin is forced to resign when he is exposed as a werewolf, and Wormtail, who actually betrayed Harry's parents to Voldemort and killed those twelve Muggles, gets away with it — so Sirius can't clear his name and Voldemort returns in the next book, thus fulfilling Trelawney's prophecy. Compared to the all-out happy endings of the first two books, this prepared the tone for the much darker later books.
  • Dark Is Not Evil: Sirius Black, who turns out to be innocent of the murder of thirteen people, and is not after Harry. He's after Peter Pettigrew, who framed him for said murder and betrayed Harry's parents to Voldemort.
  • Deadpan Snarker: McGonagall kicks it up a notch from usual in this book, usually in regards to Divination and Professor Trelawney.
    [After noticing her Transfiguration class is acting strangely, asking them what the problem is, and being told they just came from their first Divination lesson]: "Say no more. So tell me, which one of you will be dying this year?"
    [After Harry tells her that Trelawney predicted his death that year]: "You look in excellent health to me, Potter, so you will excuse me if I don't let you off homework today. I assure you that if you do die, you need not hand it in."
  • Deep Breath Reveals Tension: Harry takes deep calming breaths during a pause when Snape is interrogating him about being in Hogsmeade, and finds the Marauder's Map.
  • Developers' Foresight: In-Universe. The Marauders evidently anticipated Snape one day getting hold of their Map and charmed it to insult him if he ever identified himself when trying to open it. This failsafe kicks in about twenty years later.
  • Diabolus ex Machina: Everything seems to be headed for a happy ending. Harry learns that Sirius was not the one who betrayed his parents to Voldemort, they have the actual traitor Peter in their custody, and Sirius offers to let Harry live with him and escape the Dursleys after he has been cleared of the crimes against him. Then the clouds in the sky part, revealing a full moon, and Lupin hasn't taken the potion that allows him to keep his mind as a werewolf that night...
  • Didn't Think This Through: Hermione signs up for every single extra class offered in her third year but doesn't seem to have considered that she not only has to attend the classes, she'll need to do the homework, studying and exams for each one as well. Even when she's employing time-travel to meet all her deadlines, she gets incredibly stressed out and nearly has a breakdown.
  • Dirty Coward: The Potters' Secret-Keeper, Peter Pettigrew, betrayed them to Voldemort.
  • Disappointed in You: Lupin to Harry, making him feel a lot worse than he did when Snape was the one getting him into trouble.
    Lupin: Your parents gave their lives to keep you alive, Harry. A poor way to repay them — gambling their sacrifice for a bag of magic tricks.
  • Doctor's Orders: Madame Pomfrey asserts herself quite strongly, if not always successfully, when authority figures want to speak to students in her care.
  • Does This Remind You of Anything?: Some fans interpreted Lupin's werewolf condition and the wizarding community's reactions to it as a social commentary on living with HIV. J. K. Rowling herself claimed later on in 2016 that this had been intentional.
  • The Dog Was the Mastermind: Scabbers, Ron's pet rat, who has been around since the first book, who seems to be involved in a minor subplot regarding Hermione's new cat, is secretly a not-so-dead Peter Pettigrew, the real villain of the book.
  • Dragon Rider: Harry has a nightmare before a Quidditch match that the Slytherin team are playing on dragons instead of brooms.
  • Dragon Their Feet: The wizarding public's general opinion of Sirius Black; the day after Voldemort's downfall, he was outed as a Death Eater, killed thirteen people (twelve Muggles, plus the wizard trying to apprehend him), then was caught. It turns out that The Dragon was in fact Pettigrew, who ultimately goes on to help resurrect Voldemort.
  • The Dreaded: The guards of Azkaban, the Dementors. This book shows us exactly why they are rightfully feared by most of the wizarding world.
    • Sirius Black throughout the book. He's described as having been Voldemort's most dangerous follower who fooled and spied on the good side when Voldemort was powerful. We learn that he sold Harry's parents out to Voldemort, murdered thirteen people with one curse, wasn't affected by Dementors, became the first person to break out of Azkaban, and apparently knows how to sneak into Hogwarts undetected. Until we learn that he was framed and had sympathetic motives for his actions throughout the book.
  • Drowning My Sorrows: When Harry, Ron, and Hermione go to see Hagrid after their first Care of Magical Creatures class, Hagrid is doing this out of gloominess due to Malfoy taunting Buckbeak, which resulted in Malfoy's arm being injured. He is however still lucid enough to yell at Harry for being out while a murderer is said to be after him.
  • Dungeon-Based Economy: Implied. Ron offhandedly mentions in a letter to Harry that his eldest brother, Bill, makes his living breaking curses on Egyptian tombs for Gringotts Bank (implying that Gringotts then mines the grave goods).
  • Dustbin School: The Dursleys want Harry to say to Aunt Marge that he attends Saint Brutus's Secure Centre for Incurably Criminal Boys.
  • Dying Moment of Awesome: After Lord Voldemort killed James and Lily Potter, Peter Pettigrew exposed Sirius Black's treachery and attempted to duel him at the cost of his life. Or so everybody thought, until the events of this book. In fact, he orchestrated what looked like his death, lived as a rat for twelve years, and left Sirius to be Arrested for Heroism.
  • Dynamic Entry: Lupin busts the door open — "EXPELLIARMUS!" The book specifically states that his spell creates a shower of red sparks.
  • Early-Bird Cameo:
    • Cedric Diggory is introduced as the Hufflepuff Quidditch team's Seeker. He'll become more important in the next book.
    • Cho Chang also makes her debut here as the Ravenclaw Quidditch team's Seeker, and it's hinted that Harry has feelings for her. Over the next two books, she becomes Harry's official crush, and he briefly dates her in fifth year.
    • Walden Macnair, the Ministry's executioner of "dangerous" magical creatures, reappears in the next two books and briefly in the final one. He was a Death Eater and returns to the fold after Wormtail resurrects Voldemort.
  • Emotion Eater: The Dementors.
  • Empty Shell: The result of the Dementor's Kiss. Lupin uses those exact words to describe it — the victim loses all memory and sense of identity while their body continues to work on automatic.
  • Entertainingly Wrong:
    • Before escaping, Sirius was heard muttering to himself in Azkaban "He's at Hogwarts" over and over again. When he escaped, everyone assumed he wanted to kill Harry, considering he was imprisoned for betraying Harry's parents to Voldemort. He never planned to kill Harry — if anything, he was planning to save Harry. The "he" that Sirius kept muttering about referred to Scabbers, Ron's rat, or rather Peter Pettigrew, an Animagus who could transform into a rat and was the one who really betrayed Harry's parents to Voldemort.
    • When Lupin arrives in the Shrieking Shack and embraces Sirius, Hermione immediately accuses him of being Evil All Along and that he has been helping Sirius break into the castle to kill Harry because he's a werewolf. Lupin tells her she only got one of of three right. While he is a werewolf, he has not been helping Sirius and he certainly doesn't want Harry killed. He's actually realized that Sirius is after Peter Pettigrew.
  • Everybody Lives: Along with Chamber of Secrets, the only book in the series where no character dies (though several characters die in the Backstory).
  • Everything Except Most Things: Percy tries to cheer Harry up about not being able to go to Hogsmeade by telling him it's not as impressive as everyone says, aside from Honeydukes and several other locations.
  • Evil Former Friend: Peter, who was friends with James, Sirius, and Lupin when they attended Hogwarts two decades before Harry.
  • Evil-Detecting Dog: Crookshanks. It's no mere Animal Jingoism that has him going after Scabbers all year — he knows the rat is a traitorous Animagus. Similarly, he trusts Sirius immediately, knowing he only has Harry's best interests at heart. At the end of the book, Ron invokes this with the owl Sirius buys him, by holding Pigwidgeon in front of Crookshanks' face and seeing if he reacts, and the cat's purring is taken as confirmation that the owl is perfectly normal. J. K. Rowling later gave Word of God that Crookshanks is half-Kneazle, a magical cat-like animal that can tell if someone is untrustworthy.
  • Evil Is Petty: When Aunt Marge berates Harry about his "useless" parents, she asks Vernon what job Harry's father had. Despite clearly being nervous that Harry might get mad and use magic, Vernon can't help himself and states that James was unemployed, giving Marge more ammo that pushes Harry over the edge (technically, this is true — James didn't have a proper job when he died — but that's largely because he was committed full-time to the war against Voldemort and his family's inheritance was enough to keep his family going).
    • Walden Macnair was clearly angry upon Buckbeak's escape, to the point of swinging his axe into a fencepost. He had no personal gain (other than his apparent friendship with Lucius Malfoy) and likely got paid for his services regardless. This hints at his true allegiance and that his sinister nature goes beyond Just Following Orders.
  • Exactly What It Says on the Tin:
    • Hagrid sees nothing wrong with assigning The Monster Book of Monsters as required reading for Care of Magical Creatures. You have to tame the book before you can open it, and it is absolutely feral until you do.
    • The manager of Flourish and Blotts really doesn't like these books, given they bite. But it's better than The Invisible Book of Invisibility, which cost a fortune and they never found.
  • Exhausted Eyebags: Hermione develops shadows under her eyes due to the extreme workload she has.
  • Extreme Mêlée Revenge: When Harry first meets Sirius, Harry becomes so enraged that he forgets all about magic, forgets that Sirius is supposedly a powerful Dark wizard trained by Voldemort himself, forgets that Sirius is holding three wands, and forgets that Sirius is also older, larger, and stronger. Harry charges Sirius down and nearly suffocates him.
  • Face/Heel Double-Turn: Throughout most of the story, Sirius Black is painted as an unrepentant mass murderer who betrayed Harry's parents and then killed his good friend Peter Pettigrew. Come the confrontation under the Whomping Willow, Black pulls a Good All Along Heel–Face Turn by revealing that he only went to Hogwarts to protect Harry and played no part in his parents' murder. At the same time, Pettigrew pulls an Evil All Along Face–Heel Turn when it's shown that he's been hiding as Ron's pet rat Scabbers for years, and that he sold Harry's parents out to Voldemort.
  • Faint in Shock:
    • When the Dementors board the train, Harry relives the death of his mother, (he even hears her screaming) and faints when they search his compartment.
    • Later, when the Dementors attack him during the Quidditch match, he falls from his broom.
    • He also faints when trying to defend his godfather, Sirius Black, from them, and casts his first proper Patronus to ward them off.
  • Fake Kill Scare: At one point, Harry, Ron, and Hermione hear what they think is Buckbeak being executed. It turns out to be the executioner driving his axe into the fence after time-travelling Harry and Hermione help Buckbeak escape.
  • Faking Another Person's Illness: When he attended Hogwarts, Lupin would often claim his mother was ill as an excuse for his frequent absences, since he didn't want anyone finding out that he was a werewolf and needed to be away from the school during his transformations. James and Sirius found out anyway.
  • Fantastic Aesop: Don't use time travel to take multiple classes at once or you'll exhaust yourself.
  • Fantastic Time Management: Hermione uses multiple-times-daily time travel to take more classes than would be otherwise possible.
  • Fate Worse than Death: The Dementor's Kiss sucks out victims' souls while leaving them otherwise alive. Harry feels that Sirius Black deserves it for betraying his parents to Voldemort.
  • Finger Snap Lighter: When the train comes to a halt as the Dementors come to search it, Lupin lights the dark train car by snapping his fingers to summon a flame.
  • Fingore: The largest part of Peter Pettigrew the Ministry found after his presumed death was his right index finger. Pettigrew performed this on himself before transforming into a rat. As a side effect of this, Scabbers has one toe fewer than he should.
  • Foreshadowing: Has its own page.
  • Forgiveness: At the climax of the story, Remus and Sirius both ask for, and receive, forgiveness for suspecting each other of having been The Mole in the Order of the Phoenix.
  • Forgot About His Powers: Pettigrew transforms back into a rat to escape at a convenient moment. Sure, the Power Trio don't know Summoning Charms yet, but Sirius likely does. He could perhaps have found a couple of seconds to Summon Pettigrew and hand him off to Harry or Hermione if he tried.
  • Forgotten Phlebotinum: Cracked wondered why Sirius had to go to jail when Veritaserum, Pensieves and Legilimency exist.note 
  • Fridge Horror: In-universe, Ron has this reaction to discovering Scabbers' true identity as the Evil All Along Peter Pettigrew.
    Ron: I let you sleep in my bed!
  • A Glass in the Hand: After one jibe too many about his family, Harry makes the glass Marge is holding shatter. She assumes that she was gripping it too hard, having done the same thing before.
  • Golden Mean Fallacy: Lupin explains that this is one of the advantages to tackling a Boggart in groups. It might try and combine two people's fears and end up with something a lot less scary than either of them.
  • Gone Horribly Right:
    • The purpose behind telling no one that the Potters' Secret-Keepers were switched to Peter Pettigrew was to make sure everyone went after Sirius Black. It worked.
    • Played for Laughs earlier with regard to The Invisible Book of Invisibility. They cost Flourish & Botts a fortune and were never found.
  • Grand Finale: For the original Gryffindor Quidditch team, as Oliver Wood leaves after this year. This time they manage to win the Cup. It's also the last time Quidditch is a major part of the plot, as this was around when Rowling tired of writing Quidditch scenes, with books four through seven coming up with ways of preventing Harry from getting on the pitch — or broomstick, in this case.
  • Greater-Scope Villain: This is the only volume in the series where Voldemort doesn't make an appearance in any way and is only mentioned. The only other book in which Harry doesn't personally interact with him is Half-Blood Prince, though he appears in certain people's memories. He still ultimately drives the plot, since Pettigrew gave up the Potters to him in the war he started.
  • Hate Sink: Snape is at his most detestable in this novel. With very little of the Deadpan Snarker on display, sadistically torturing Neville openly in class, insulting another teacher publicly in front of his students, and in the end gleefully looking forward to feeding a man to Dementors even when he was willing to come quietly and requested a fair hearing. When it's clear that he won't listen to reason, the trio resort to knocking him unconscious. After the climax, he gets in one last act of spite by outing Lupin as a werewolf (which he had already tried, more subtly, at least once earlier in the year).
  • Having a Blast: Not Black but Pettigrew blew up a street full of Muggles with magic.
  • Hellhole Prison: Azkaban, not only a place of confinement considered impossible to escape, but with Dementors that drain the inmates of any sort of happiness, hope, or will to escape.
  • Hellhound: The Grim, a giant dog Trelawney purports to read in Harry's tea leaves, is said to be an omen of death. Harry's first in-person sights of Sirius Black also make him out to be this.
  • Heroic Self-Deprecation: In the climax, Lupin acknowledges that what Snape said about him not being trustworthy was Metaphorically True. He noted that he was grateful to Dumbledore for giving him the chance to study at Hogwarts and could never admit that his friends became illegal Animagi and risked their lives for him and lied to Dumbledore for over seven years. He says he hoped that Sirius had tried to get in via Dark Arts rather than his skills as an Animagus.
  • Hijacked by Ganon: Subverted. Everyone said Sirius Black was a Death Eater, so an appearance of Voldemort was expected. It's the only book not to feature Voldemort in any way, shape, or form (although he only appears in memories in the sixth), replaced instead by Sirius Black, or more accurately, Peter Pettigrew.
  • Hitler Ate Sugar: Harry says that he'll never use a Nimbus 2001 just because Draco Malfoy has one.
  • Honour Before Reason: Oliver Wood refuses Cedric Diggory's offer to replay the Gryffindor-Hufflepuff Quidditch game. Note that Cedric is the one making the offer even though he won, and the outcome was affected by something outside the normal parameters of the game (Harry was incapacitated by a Dementor attack).
  • Hope Spot: After convincing Harry of his innocence in the deaths of James and Lily, Sirius offers to adopt Harry formally once he is officially acquitted, and Harry enthusiastically agrees. This marks a brief moment of happiness for Harry, since it means that he won't have to return to the Dursleys anymore. Unfortunately, circumstances keep them from clearing Sirius' name, and he has to go on the run again. Tellingly, this is the "memory" that Harry uses to conjure a Patronus to protect himself and Sirius from the Dementors, and fails.
  • Horror Doesn't Settle for Simple Tuesday: Sirius breaks into Hogwarts on All Hallows' Eve, acting violently when the Fat Lady refuses to let him into Gryffindor Tower. This is the third and final time something happens on Hallowe'en that poses an existential threat to Harry while he is at Hogwarts (after the troll and Mrs. Norris being petrified). Hermione, presuming that Sirius lost track of time, even points out how lucky it is that he coincidentally broke in while all the students and professors were occupied with the Halloween Feast. In light of The Reveal, it's likelier that it was entirely intentional — Sirius picked that day because no students would be in the tower, only certain traitorous wizards posing as pets. And because Lupin would be confined to his office under Wolfsbane.
  • Hypnosis-Proof Dogs: Sirius is able to shift into his dog form to escape Azkaban because Dementors don't affect Animagi as much as they do humans. The Dementors themselves aren't able to notice this as they simply believe his dog mind is Sirius being driven mad.
  • Hypocrisy Nod: While Hagrid calls out both Ron and Harry for ostracizing Hermione because of the Firebolt and Scabbers supposedly being eaten, he also says wisely that people can get protective of their pets, sometimes to Honour Before Reason levels. Buckbeak is spending time with him because Hagrid is trying to save his life.
  • Hypocrite:
    • Draco Malfoy continually mocks Harry for passing out while in the presence of the Dementors even though, as Fred and George reveal, he reacted to their invasion of the Hogwarts Express by running and hiding in the twins' compartment while nearly wetting himself in terror.
    • Lupin is appalled that Harry never told a teacher about the Marauder's Map, given how useful it would be to catch Sirius or how useful it would be to Sirius if he found it. Yet Lupin never bothers telling Dumbledore (or indeed, anyone except Harry, Ron, and Hermione) that Sirius is an Animagus and knows about the tunnel from the Shrieking Shack onto Hogwarts grounds. In Lupin's defence, he was using the Map to find and track Sirius, and later Peter Pettigrew.
  • Hypocritical Heartwarming: When Snape takes over Defence Against the Dark Arts for Professor Lupin when he's ill, Snape devotes the entire class solely to making Lupin look bad by asking them questions they aren't supposed to cover for several months in the hope that nobody will be able to answer them, and ignores Hermione because obviously she'd know. When Hermione then speaks out of turn and starts trying to answer the question, Snape interrupts her and takes five points from Gryffindor "for being an insufferable know-it-all", an action that instantly enrages every single student in the class, even though all of them had called Hermione a know-it-all themselves at some point before. Compounding the effect, the angriest is Ron, who (the narration explicitly points out) calls Hermione a know-it-all at least twice a week. Of course, there is a world of difference between saying that to a peer and a teacher saying that to a student.
  • Idiot Ball:
    • James, Sirius, and Lupin not realising that Peter was The Mole for Voldemort and his followers despite being the perfect suspect. Lampshaded by Sirius, who says he'll never understand why he didn't realize it from the beginning.
    • Lupin forgets to take his Wolfsbane Potion on the night of Buckbeak's execution. In particular, Snape specifically mentions that he had come looking for Lupin because he forgot to take his potion, and Lupin is present when Snape says this, but even this isn't enough to jog Lupin's memory and make him go running back to his office to take it. The consequences of this are pretty dire for all concerned: they lead to Pettigrew's escape, Voldemort's return, and Lupin, Sirius and Snape's deaths.
  • I'll Kill You!: Harry threatening to kill Sirius.
  • I'm Standing Right Here: During her visit to Privet Drive, Aunt Marge makes several disparaging remarks about Harry and his parents while sitting at the same table as Harry. Harry spends most of the week trying his hardest to think about anything else.
  • Inflating Body Gag: At the beginning, Harry accidentally casts a spell that makes Aunt Marge inflate and fly away. Fudge solves the matter by sending out the Accidental Magic Reversal Squad to deflate her and Obliviate her memory.
  • Instant Expert: Harry conjures the Patronus Charm, one of the most difficult spells known to wizardkind, after relatively little coaching.
  • Intellectual Animal: The Wolfsbane Potion sort of invokes this. A werewolf who drinks it can keep their mind human when transformed, but without it in their system, the animal part takes over completely.
  • In-Universe Factoid Failure: Snape identifies the kappa as from Mongolia. Spinoff Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them correctly identifies the Kappa as from Japan, with a note from Harry snarking that Snape hasn't read the book.
  • Invisible to Normals: Lupin specifies that while Muggles can't see Dementors, they can feel their depression-inducing effects.
  • Invisible Writing: Fred and George introduce the Marauder's Map, which shows not just a map of Hogwarts, but also the footsteps of all the people within it. It looks like just an empty sheet of old parchment, unless you know the charm for activating it. It's also charmed to insult Snape if he specifically tries to use it.
  • It's All My Fault
    • Sirius doesn't deny that he got Harry's parents killed, since he convinced them to make Pettigrew the Secret Keeper, which no one else knew, and led to Voldemort finding the Potters. As he puts it in a choked voice, "I as good as killed them."
    • Harry is depressed when he realises that due to his Cruel Mercy to Pettigrew, the latter escaped and is likely going to find Voldemort. Although Dumbledore tells him that prophecies are inexact, he's still confused about it.
  • It Was a Gift: The Firebolt and Pigwidgeon, to Harry and Ron respectively, both from Sirius Black.
  • I Will Tear Your Arms Off: Hagrid says that had he known of Sirius' apparent role in the Potters' death, he would have ripped him limb from limb. Considering how huge and strong Hagrid is, a threat like this should be taken very seriously.
  • Jerkass Has a Point:
    • While Snape refuses to believe that Harry isn't an arrogant glory hound, he is right to call Harry out for sneaking out of Hogwarts to have fun at Hogsmeade even when everyone up to and including the Minister for Magic is trying to keep him safe from a killer who broke out of Azkaban. Lupin later tells Harry the same thing.
    • Malfoy makes the valid point that assigning thirteen-year-old children a school book that bites, and simply expecting them to figure out that you open the book by stroking the spine, is incredibly irresponsible and unprofessional.
    • Malfoy’s parents aren’t out of line for being upset that their son was put in the prime position to get hurt by Buckbeak. Even if it is Malfoy's own fault he got attacked.
    • Uncle Vernon voices some of his characteristic views when the Muggle news reports on the escaped prisoner Sirius Black, but he's not wrong to complain that the report never says from where this prisoner escaped. After all, Sirius could be approaching their neighborhood and everyone would be unaware of the threat and indeed, he was just then in the neighbourhood in Animagus form.
  • Just in Time: Harry and Hermione send themselves three hours into the past at the end to save Buckbeak and Sirius, but they need to get back to the hospital wing at just the moment they sent themselves back in time, otherwise Dumbledore will lock them out and the plan will be exposed. Luckily, they manage to get back there just as Dumbledore is closing the door to lock it.
  • Karma Houdini:
    • Peter. At no point during the story is he in Azkaban, where by rights he should be for his crimes. In the climax, Hermione, Harry, Ron, Lupin, and Sirius are about to deliver him to justice, but he exploits the distraction caused by Lupin's werewolf transformation to escape and start his search for Voldemort, which he does in a matter of weeks as revealed at the beginning of Goblet of Fire.
    • Draco also gets away with all the trouble he and his father caused to get Hagrid sacked and having Buckbeak executed. Justified since he’s the son of a wealthy family and the Hogwarts staff can't punish him too harshly. Also Downplayed in that Draco may not get punished for his plot to sack Hagrid, but still, Harry humiliates him in a mud ball fight in front of the Shrieking Shack and Hermione slaps him hard.
  • Kick the Dog:
    • It's bad enough that Snape belittles and insults Neville in his own classes, but to have a small rant decrying him as useless to another teacher is beyond cruel. It earns him a Death Glare from Harry.
    • Before that, Snape responds to Neville screwing up a potion by telling him to fix it... because at the end of the class, Snape will feed the potion to Neville's pet toad, Trevor. Bear in mind, if Neville got it wrong, which Snape clearly expected him to do, Trevor would have been poisoned, meaning Snape basically tried to kill a student's beloved pet for not being good at his subject. And, when Neville manages to get it right, Snape takes off points because Hermione helped him.
  • Kick the Son of a Bitch: Sirius claims that Snape deserved the nasty prank that nearly got Snape killed, namely seeing werewolf Lupin. Snape begs to differ.
  • Know-Nothing Know-It-All: Snape has a moment of this when substituting for Lupin, claiming that the Kappa is more commonly found in Mongolia when it's actually Japanese. This gets followed up on in Fantastic Beasts: "Snape hasn't read this."
  • Large Ham: Sir Cadogan, the man whose portrait temporarily replaces the Fat Lady.
  • Laughing Mad: When Sirius was caught shortly after Voldemort's fall, he was found laughing next to a crater where he had killed Peter Pettigrew and many Muggles, apparently cracked after his master Voldemort was defeated. Except we learn that Sirius was never a traitor. He had intended to kill Pettigrew, but that was because Pettigrew was the actual traitor who caused James and Lily's deaths. Then Peter faked his death, killing twelve Muggles in the process, and framed Sirius for it. His life having collapsed around him, all Sirius could do was sit there and laugh until the Ministry came to arrest him.
  • Lawful Stupid: Sir Cadogan, while filling in for the traumatised Fat Lady as guardian to Gryffindor Tower, allows Sirius to break into a tower full of sleeping children simply because Sirius has Neville's list of Gryffindor common room passwords. He's immediately fired for this and McGonagall has to convince the Fat Lady to return to her old job, which she does on the condition that two security trolls guard her at all times.
  • Licked by the Dog: After the fiasco that arose from Crookshanks chasing down Pettigrew in rat form, Ron invokes this by testing the new owl that Sirius sent him on the cat. Crookshanks approves.
  • Loose Floorboard Hiding Spot: During the summer term with the Dursleys, Harry uses a loose floorboard under his bed to hide his school supplies and birthday presents.
  • Long-Lived: Scabbers. Justified as he's the human wizard Peter Pettigrew in disguise.
  • Love at First Sight: During the Quidditch match against Ravenclaw, Harry is instantly smitten with Cho Chang, Ravenclaw's new Seeker. Chang will date Cedric Diggory (also first introduced in this book) in Goblet of Fire and eventually become the first love interest for Harry in Order of the Phoenix. In fact, the comments about Cho are the very first signs of Harry’s growing sexuality.
  • Magic Is Mental: Two spells introduced require the caster to think certain things ... in a situation which does not encourage the sort of thoughts that are required.
    • Riddikulus (used to fight Boggarts, creatures that turn into your worst fear) requires the caster to think of something funny happening to what they're afraid of.
    • Expecto Patronum requires them to focus on a happy memory to repel the happiness-eating Dementors.
  • The Marvellous Deer: When Harry successfully produces a full Patronus, it takes the shape of a stag. Specifically, that of his father, who became an Animagus and could turn into a stag.
  • Mirthless Laughter: When people are telling Harry about Sirius Black's crime of having killed a street full of Muggles, they make sure to point out the fact that he stood there laughing afterwards as further proof of just how off-the-rails he is. As we learn by the end of the book, it was actually Peter Pettigrew who killed all those people, then used his Animagus power to transform into a rat and flee the scene, leaving Sirius to take the blame. J.K. Rowling has clarified in interviews that Black's laughter was this type of laughter, evoked by the sheer insanity of the situation.
  • Misapplied Phlebotinum: When Snape tries to command the Marauder's Map, it insults him using the personalities of its creators. This feature never comes up again, you'd think Harry would want to talk to his father.
  • Moment of Weakness: Harry blowing up Aunt Marge ... no, not in the explosive sense.
  • More Hero Than Thou: Crookshanks tries to protect Sirius by leaping between him and Harry, so that any spell would take them both; Sirius tries to protect Crookshanks by pushing him out of the way, to avoid the spell.
  • Motive Misidentification:
    • Everyone believes that Sirius Black escaped from Azkaban prison and travelled to Hogwarts to kill Harry. It turns out he actually broke out to protect Harry because he discovered that Peter Pettigrew, the true culprit in the selling of Harry's parents to Voldemort who framed Sirius for it, has executed a Masquerade as Ron's pet rat Scabbers and is waiting for the right moment to bring Harry to Voldemort.
    • Harry and company think Snape is so determined to bring Sirius to the Dementors just because he's been holding onto a grudge for what Sirius did to him back in their school days. By the seventh book, it becomes clear that the real reason is that he believes that Sirius was the one who revealed Lily's location to Voldemort, which resulted in her death.
    • Snape's increased dislike of Lupin is believed to be Snape just being increasingly fed up with not being offered the position himself. It's actually because Lupin is a werewolf and former classmate of Snape's with whom he has an unpleasant history.
    • Harry assumes that Snape's complete freak-out in the climax is because Sirius and James bullied him at school. However, it's really more because Snape assumes like everyone else that Sirius betrayed Lily and James, so he thinks he's coming to face with the man who he thinks directly caused Lily's death with their old animosity only coming second after this. This is the first implication of Snape's feelings for her in the story, which are later further implied in Order of the Phoenix and then outright confirmed in Deathly Hallows.
  • Must Make Amends: A minor sort; since Sirius knew that because of him, Ron no longer has a rat, he purchases Pigwidgeon and gives it to the latter.
  • My Friends... and Zoidberg: Oliver Wood does it to himself, when he lists the members of the Gryffindor Quidditch team: "We've got three superb Chasers [Katie Bell, Angelina Johnson, and Alicia Spinnet]. We've got two unbeatable Beaters [Fred and George Weasley]. And we've got a Seeker who has never failed to win us a match [Harry]! [After a long pause in which he realises he's forgotten himself] And me." This leads to a rather heartwarming moment when Fred and George lead the team in saying that they consider him a great Keeper.
  • Narrative Profanity Filter:
    • During a Quidditch match against Slytherin, Lee Jordan swears so badly that Professor McGonagall tries to tug his megaphone away from him.
    • Ron after Snape gives him detention where he had to scrub the bedpans in the hospital wing:
      “D’you know what that —” (he called Snape something that made Hermione say “Ron!”)
  • Never My Fault: Lucius Malfoy helps Draco lobby to get Buckbeak executed after the Hippogriff slashes Draco's arm. He only did that, however, because Draco ignored Hagrid's explicit instruction never to insult Buckbeak and called him a "great ugly brute".
  • Never the Selves Shall Meet: Subverted, sort of, when Harry realises the person who had cast the Patronus to save him, Sirius, and Hermione from the Dementors was not his father, but himself. Otherwise played straight when Hermione tells Harry they can't talk to their past selves as they'll probably be mistaken for villains using polyjuice potions to mimic Harry and Hermione.
  • Nice Job Breaking It, Hero: Harry's decision to spare Wormtail's life starts a chain reaction that leads to Voldemort’s return and basically the plots of books four to seven. Though Dumbledore tells Harry that prophecies are so inexact, and something similar might have happened without Harry's help.
  • Nightmare Retardant: In-universe example: the Riddikulus spell involves making your worst fear funny.
  • No Communities Were Harmed: As you might have guessed, Azkaban takes major pointers from Alcatraz.
  • Non-Appearing Title: This is the only book of the original septology that doesn't have a Title Drop — the phrase "prisoner of Azkaban" is never used anywhere in the narration or the dialogue. It's also one of only two books not to have a titular chapter, the other one being The Philosopher's Stone.
  • Nose Shove: When Lupin finds Peeves stuffing a keyhole full of chewing gum, he casts a spell to make it fly up his nose.
  • No Sympathy for Grudgeholders: Harry has none for Snape whatsoever, and for good reason. Snape goes out of his way to belittle and insult James (to Harry's face, for the first time in the series, no less), who saved Snape's life from a fully transformed Lupin, and Snape says that if there had been justice, James would have been expelled for his actions. (He does make a case that it wasn't an "act of glorious heroism.") Of course, Snape then outs Lupin as a werewolf, which forces the latter to resign at the end of the school year.
  • Not Helping Your Case:
    • Sirius invokes this so many times that Dumbledore lampshades it at the end, saying that he "has not acted like an innocent man" in his quest of Revenge Before Reason. Among his List of Transgressions while trying to find Pettigrew at Hogwarts: Slashing the Fat Lady's portrait after she refused to let him in, breaking into Gryffindor Tower with a knife and shredding Ron's curtains after finding Pettigrew gone, later dragging an injured Ron by the leg through the Whomping Willow passageway, and disarming Hermione and Harry while saying "There will only be one murder here tonight."
    • Crookshanks was attacking Scabbers because he realized that the rat was an Animagus,and an untrustworthy one at that. He made a bad first impression on Ron by attacking his pet while the latter was getting a medical exam, and clawing Ron up in his attempt to grab the rat. Sirius reveals that Crookshanks was able to talk to him, enough to convey the gist of the situation. Rather than try to tell Professor McGonagall, who's also an Animagus and able to turn into a cat, Crookshanks spends most of the year trying to catch Scabbers, with Ron noting that Crookshanks definitely has a vendetta and it isn't normal cat behaviour.
  • Obvious Judas: In-Universe, Sirius considers himself and the rest of those fighting against Voldemort to be idiots for not realizing that Pettigrew was the spy, since he was a coward who always sought protection from those stronger than him.
  • Oh, Crap!:
    • The Dursleys of all people react like this when Aunt Marge begins badmouthing Harry's parents. Mostly in fear of how Harry will react in his increasingly-less-Tranquil Fury.
    • Harry after he's run away from the Dursleys and realizes that he's now a magical fugitive for blowing up his aunt. As he tells Ron and Hermione later, he thought he was going to be arrested.
    • Hermione when Ron shows her faked evidence that Crookshanks has eaten Scabbers, the blood on the sheets.
    • After Ron wakes up to find Sirius Black standing over him with a knife in hand, McGonagall finds out that Sirius was able to get into Gryffindor Tower because he had a piece of paper with that week's passwords on it. In a shaking voice of Tranquil Fury, McGonagall asks who wrote down the passwords for that week and mislaid them. There's a small squeak from a terrified Neville as he raises a shaking hand. (As it's later revealed that Sirius used Crookshanks to filch the list from Neville's bedside table, this is quite unjust, but as Neville is always mislaying things, even he assumes that he really did lose it.)
    • Neville, again, when he receives a Howler from his grandmother as a result of this. Ron tells him to run for it, and Neville does, so the Howler goes off in the Entrance Hall instead.
    • Sirius, when Snape rather smugly tells him that he'll get the Dementor's Kiss.
    • Pettigrew in rat form as Sirius lunges for him in the Shrieking Shack. When forced back into human shape, he's squeaking the whole time and trying to beg for his life.
    • According to Lupin, Malfoy's reaction when during the Gryffindor-Ravenclaw Quidditch match, Harry shot a Patronus at him while he was dressed as a Dementor.
    • Harry has one when, while using the Time-Turner and seeing Lupin transform into a werewolf, he and Hermione have to move, and fast, because werewolf-Lupin is about to run into the Forest, straight at them. When he tells Hermione this, she has one too. Not only because of how they can't be seen, but, more obviously, a werewolf is about to come running straight at them.
  • OOC Is Serious Business:
    • As if to emphasize the importance of doing well on the O.W.L.s, notorious class clowns and Brilliant, but Lazy students Fred and George Weasley are shown actually studying for the upcoming exam.
    • Usually whenever Snape gets angry, he speaks in a Tranquil Fury that instantly shuts people up. After Sirius escapes on Buckbeak the hippogriff, he's ENRAGED, and it's quite possibly the first time we see him shouting. As far as he knows at this point, the man who betrayed Lily to her death has escaped again.
    • Minor one but when Aunt Marge begins asking about the Potters, Harry notes that Dudley has stopped eating, having noticed the brewing tension in the room.
  • Our Gryphons Are Different: Buckbeak is the hippogriff variant with the front legs, wings, and head of a giant eagle and the body, hind legs and tail of a horse. Can be ridden as a steed if approached respectfully but will attack anyone who insults them as Malfoy finds out.
  • Our Manticores Are Spinier: When looking up ways to save Buckbeak, the gang find that a Manticore savaged someone in 1296. It managed to escape execution because it was too ferocious to be captured.
  • Our Ogres Are Hungrier: Hermione says that she and Ron thought they saw one in The Three Broomsticks. Their only mention in the series.
  • Overly Long Scream: Ron uses up two whole lines of text to scream "AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAARRRRRRRRRGH! NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!" after he wakes up to find Sirius Black standing over him with a knife.
  • Pacifism Backfire: Harry doesn't want James' two surviving best friends to murder (i.e., commit violence on) their Evil Former Friend. So, he convinces them to stand down and help him take the traitor to the Dementors (which is their raison d'être). Peter escapes.
  • Perspective Flip: In-Universe, this is why Hermione signed up for Muggle Studies even though she grew up living with them. She thought it would be fascinating to learn about the things she already knows about through the perspective of wizards.
  • Pet the Dog:
    • Push Away the Cat. When Sirius tries to prevent Crookshanks' Taking the Bullet for him.
    • Snape explains away the trio knocking him out by saying that Sirius must have Confounded them. He had a prime opportunity to get them expelled or worse and instead just tries to get Harry in trouble for things he can legitimately prove. Once Sirius escapes, however, all bets are off.
  • Playing Sick: It's strongly hinted that Draco's arm has healed by the time of the lead up to the first Quidditch game of the year, given how performatively he complains about its condition and that he finally dispenses with his bandages after Hufflepuff beats Gryffindor, engaging in Unsportsmanlike Gloating about the outcome.
  • Plot Hole: How did Fred and George know how to work the Marauder's Map? Rowling later Hand Waved this on the Pottermore website, revealing that the map identified them as fellow troublemakers and gave them hints until they could figure out how to operate it.
  • Poor Communication Kills: At the end of the book, things might have gone better if Sirius would have bothered to state whom he planned to kill. Harry, Ron, and Hermione were sure he meant Harry, and his vague wording about being there to kill someone certainly didn't help. Though it's a bit justified considering he was certainly a bit unhinged from his time in Azkaban and his revenge was so close at hand. In the same vein, Lupin might have calmed the situation down if he hadn't danced around why Sirius was there for so long, though he did at least convince Sirius that the kids needed to know why he was really there.
  • Power Incontinence: What happens when thirteen-year-old witches and wizards lose their temper.
  • Prized Possession Giveaway: Fred and George Weasley give Harry the Marauder's Map so he can sneak into Hogsmeade without permission. It's an exhaustively detailed map of Hogwarts showing all the secret passages, as well as moving ink dots revealing where people are. In all, it's the single greatest aid to rule-breaking imaginable, and Fred and George have put it to great use over the years, so it means a lot to them.
    Fred: It's the secret to our success.
    George: It's a wrench giving it to you... believe me...
    Fred: But we've decided your needs are greater than ours. George, if you will.
    George: "I solemnly swear that I am up to no good."
    Harry (reads the appearing words): "Messrs. Moony, Wormtail, Padfoot and Prongs... are proud to present the Marauder's Map."
    George: We owe them so much.
  • Properly Paranoid: Snape has no idea how Sirius escaped, but still swears up and down to Fudge that "THIS HAS SOMETHING TO DO WITH POTTER!" despite having no proof at all. While he may never prove it, he's not wrong...
  • Prophecies Are Always Right: Myth Arc-relevant prophecies, anyway. After Harry takes his Divination exam, Trelawney predicts that that night, before midnight, Lord Voldemort's most faithful servant, a man imprisoned for twelve years, will set off on a quest to find and revive him. Peter Pettigrew reveals himself to Harry and the reader two chapters later and goes off in search of Voldemort two chapters after that.
  • Punctuated! For! Emphasis!
    • Done by Ron in the first chapter when yelling down the fellytone at Uncle Vernon: "I — WANT — TO — TALK — TO — HARRY — POTTER!" and "I'M — A — FRIEND — OF — HARRY'S — FROM — SCHOOL—".
    • Ron does it on Christmas morning when Crookshanks tries to get Ron (or rather, Scabbers/Pettigrew) again: "GET — HIM — OUT — OF — HERE!"
    • A furious Snape does it again in the final chapter: "THIS — HAS — SOMETHING — TO — DO — WITH — POTTER!"
  • Quintessential British Gentleman: Fred and George talk like two of these to make fun of Percy awkwardly forcing politeness when greeting Harry.
  • The Quisling: In The Reveal, Peter Pettigrew is found to be one.
  • Rage-Breaking Point: Sirius is just barely holding back his anger towards Pettigrew when they're in the Shrieking Shack. Then, when the latter starts begging Harry for mercy and talks about James, Sirius absolutely loses it.
    Sirius: HOW DARE YOU SPEAK TO HARRY?! HOW DARE YOU FACE HIM?! HOW DARE YOU TALK ABOUT JAMES IN FRONT OF HIM?!
  • Rage Quit: Hermione in Divination. And it is awesome.
  • Reading Tea Leaves: In Professor Trelawney's first Divination class, she has the students read each other's fortunes through tea leaves. Trelawney reads Harry's cup and sees a falcon (a deadly enemy), a club (an attack), a skull (danger), and the Grim, a spectral dog considered an omen of death.
  • Reasonable Authority Figure: Professor Lupin, who, among other things, lies to Snape in order to rescue Harry and then proceeds to berate him in private because his actions could indeed have endangered himself or other people.
  • Red Herring:
    • Everyone believes that Sirius escaped Azkaban to kill Harry. His target was somebody else entirely.
    • Hermione gets a new pet cat in the same book where we learn about a sub-class of wizards who can become animals at will; for most of the book, Ron is constantly suspicious of said cat after he tries to eat Scabbers, several characters note that he seems oddly intelligent for a common housecat, and Hermione's insistence on defending her new pet seems to be a natural set-up for a Devil in Plain Sight plot. The disguised Animagus is actually Scabbers, who has been Ron's pet since the first book. Crookshanks is just an unusually intelligent Evil-Detecting Cat who was on to Scabbers from the outset but knew that Sirius was trustworthy, whether in dog or human form.
  • Reverse Relationship Reveal: Harry and the wizarding world at large believe that Sirius Black betrayed Harry's parents to Voldemort and that Peter Pettigrew confronted him in anger and grief, and that the former killed the latter. As it turns out, Pettigrew was the one who betrayed the Potters, and when Sirius confronted him, he faked his own death.
  • Right for the Wrong Reasons: When Harry gets a Firebolt broomstick for Christmas with no card saying who it's from, Hermione assumes Sirius Black sent it and jinxed the broom so it would kill Harry when he rides it. Sirius was the sender, but he didn't jinx it. He sent it to Harry to make up for the thirteen years' worth of Christmas and birthday gifts he didn't get from Sirius since he was locked up in prison.
  • Rule of Three: Since Harry has Hedwig and Ron has Scabbers, it was really only a matter of time before Hermione got an Loyal Animal Companion of her own. Subverted: Ron also loses Scabbers by the end of the book, and he turns out to have been a disguised Animagus all along. That said, he does receive a pet owl at the end of the book, reinforcing this for now.
  • Rushed Inverted Reading: When Hermione tells Professor McGonagall about Harry getting a Firebolt for Christmas and then the teacher goes to confiscate it temporarily so it can be checked for jinxes and hexes (on the chance that Sirius Black sent it), Hermione hides her face behind a book that she holds upside down.
  • Save Our Students: The previous Defence Against the Dark Arts teachers we saw, Quirrell and Lockhart, were both lacklustre and were not known to have taught their students anything of use, making the subject a joke with the students. Enter Professor Lupin, who proves to be a highly competent expert who teaches the Hogwarts students everything they need to know about dealing with Dark creatures. With him teaching, DADA quickly becomes almost everyone's favourite subject, with only Draco and his cronies daring to disparage him.
  • "Scooby-Doo" Hoax: Draco and his cronies disguise themselves as Dementors in an ill-advised attempt to make Harry fall off his broom. They themselves fall over and get tangled in their robes when Harry casts a Patronus at them. Professor Lupin is amused with Draco's struggle, while McGonagall is furious with him and the other Slytherins for their attempt to sabotage Harry.
  • Screw the Rules, I Have Connections!: This is how the Malfoys get the charges against Buckbeak to stick, despite Hermione and Ron's research. Fudge is convinced that Buckbeak is a "mad Hippogriff" and thus it is necessary to Shoot the Dog.
  • Screw This, I'm Outta Here!: Harry to the Dursleys after he blows up Marge. Shame it didn't take.
  • Secret-Keeper: Trope Namer,invoked courtesy of the Fidelius Charm.
  • Secret Secret-Keeper: Hermione figured out Lupin's "condition" before any other character and kept it from the others, including Lupin himself, until she came to the belief that he was an accomplice to Sirius Black. She even thought the teachers were unaware.
  • Secret Underground Passage: Harry uses one to sneak into Hogsmeade. We later find that Lupin used one to hide out in the Shrieking Shack during his werewolf transformations.
  • See the Invisible: Dementors are technically blind but can sense Harry's emotions from under his Invisibility Cloak as easily as a visible person. Meaning Harry has to use secret passages to sneak into Hogsmeade as Dementors guard the gates.
  • Sequel Hook: The prophecy.
  • Sham Supernatural: Draco Malfoy and his buddies pretend to be Dementors in order to scare Harry (who's extremely afraid of them) during a Quidditch match. They have no idea that Professor Lupin has been teaching Harry how to cast a Patronus (which repels Dementors), and he blasts them with a powerful one that leaves them in a crumpled mess on the ground.
  • Shout-Out: "Cockroach Cluster" originally comes from a Monty Python sketch.
  • Sickening "Crunch!": Happens when Ron is dragged into the roots of the Whomping Willow by Sirius in dog form. Ron hooks one leg around a root to stop himself being dragged in. Cue this trope when his leg breaks.
  • Speak Ill of the Dead: Harry endures a week of Aunt Marge insulting him, but snaps when she starts on his parents. When Snape learns he's been in Hogsmeade, something similar happens — Harry stays quiet when Snape insults him, but explodes when Snape starts badmouthing his dad.
  • Stable Time Loop: In the climax, Harry and company are saved from the Dementors by Harry's own future self, allowing the "present" Harry to go back in time and repeat what he's already seen.
  • Stab the Salad: Buckbeak's "death".
  • Stealth Insult:
    • Aunt Marge, who is a professional dog breeder, refers to bitches when talking about Harry's mother.
      "You see it all the time with dogs. If there's something wrong with the bitch, there'll be something wrong with the pup—"
    • She might be using "pup" as a double entendre as well. "Pup" can mean "a cheeky or arrogant boy or young man", which would fit Marge's view of Harry.
  • Stealth Pun:
    Hermione: I think Divination seems very woolly. A lot of guesswork, if you ask me.
    Ron: There was nothing woolly about the Grim in that cup!
    Hermione: You didn't seem quite so confident when you were telling Harry it was a sheep.
  • Steven Ulysses Perhero: Many instances throughout the series, but this book introduces two particularly good examples: the werewolf Remus Lupin (Romulus and Remus were humans raised by wolves in Roman mythology; "lupine" means "wolf-like") and Sirius Black (Sirius is another name for the Dog Star; he transforms into a black dog).
  • Superior Successor: Ron hopes his new owl will be this as a pet relative to Scabbers. While they have some growing pains together, he is.
  • Surprisingly Realistic Outcome:
    • After the events in the Shrieking Shack, Harry and Hermione wake up in the hospital wing and learn that Sirius has been captured and will be given the Dementor's Kiss. They tell Dumbledore that Pettigrew committed the crimes attributed to Sirius, expecting that he will be able to save Sirius. Fortunately, Dumbledore believes them; unfortunately, he tells them that Snape has already convinced Fudge that Sirius altered their minds (and their story would be dismissed as a Cassandra Truth anyway because they're underage), the Ministry won't listen to Lupin because of widespread anti-werewolf prejudice and the fact that he was Sirius' childhood friend, and that without Pettigrew, they have no hard evidence to convince the Ministry otherwise. This forces Harry to realize that Dumbledore isn't an all-powerful figure who can instantly solve any problem brought to his attention. And then Dumbledore provides a solution anyway by telling them where Sirius is being held and how to save him.
    • At the start of the school year, Hermione decides to take not just more classes than are usual for a third-year student, but every one offered at Hogwarts, enough that she requires a time-travel device to attend them all. She soon finds herself swamped with an incredible amount of homework, and is badly stressed by the sheer amount of studying she has to put in to keep up (and her arguments with Ron and Harry surely don't help). She even forgets to attend one class, because she's so busy (and scheduling her day with time travel) that it slips her mind. She finally decides to drop her extra classes at the end of the third year and return to a normal schedule by the beginning of the fourth. Every person has a limit to how hard they can work, no matter how smart and studious they are.
  • Taking the Bullet: Crookshanks leaps on Sirius in a manner that any spell directed at Sirius will hit him.
  • Talking in Your Sleep: The Azkaban guards overheard Sirius Black saying in his sleep: "He's at Hogwarts..." and so are deployed there to protect it. He's talking about Peter Pettigrew, not Harry.
  • Temporal Duplication: Thanks to the Time-Turners, for some hours, there are two Harrys and Hermiones each, and the slightly-older Harry ends up rescuing his younger self from the Dementors.
  • Temporal Suicide: While using the Time-Turner, Hermione has to keep Harry from meddling with their past events, explaining that some time-travelling wizards have even killed/been killed by their past or future selves.
  • Time and Relative Dimensions in Space: The time turner takes the travellers to where their past selves were about to be. Given that this isn't Mental Time Travel, Harry and Hermione have seconds to hide from their past selves.
  • Time Travel: The Time-Turners.
  • Time-Travellers Are Spies: Hermione uses this to justify Never the Selves Shall Meet saying she and Harry's past selves will probably think they're Death Eaters disguising themselves with polyjuice potions.
  • Time-Travel Tense Trouble: The final part of the book has this with Harry, Hermione, and Dumbledore.
  • Timey-Wimey Ball: Largely averted, but there is one slight inconsistency. Hermione mentions that many wizards who have abused time travel ended up "killing their past or future selves." The immutable timeline model used should logically preclude killing your past self (although not killing your future self). Perhaps Hermione is mistaken, or exaggerating. Or she's referring to the very first time someone goes back in time. Being a stable time loop, there has to be a time where they go back. Then they panic and kill their past self, since there are two of that person in the time period. Someone else could easily see someone kill themselves, then see the killer vanish and report it.
    • Harry and the Dementors have a perfect Stable Time Loop. We don't know if the gang had stuck around to watch Buckbeak's execution if they'd have seen him being rescued by Harry and Hermione from the future or if there was an original timeline where he died. It's worth noting that Harry Potter and the Cursed Child shows Time-Turners changing the past fairly easily.
  • Toilet Humour: For Ron speaking out against Snape when he covers Lupin's class in chapter nine, Snape gives him detention. Namely, he has to clean the hospital wing's bedpans, without magic. Understandably, Ron is furious.
  • Too Dumb to Live:
    • Malfoy insults Buckbeak after Hagrid specifically warned the class. Even if he was trying to get Hagrid in trouble, at which he succeeded brilliantly, he's lucky that his arm (much less his head) didn't get torn off when it happened, or Madam Pomfrey would have had to bring out the Skele-Gro.
    • Harry himself defies this when Mr. Weasley asks him to promise not to "go looking for Black."
      "Why would I go looking for someone I know wants to kill me?" said Harry blankly.
    • Later on it is played hilariously straight, as he feels an urge to go looking for Sirius after he finds out some of the Awful Truth. He ends up hating Sirius so much that, when they meet at the end of the book, Harry charges at him and tries to choke him with his bare hands, forgetting that he was unarmed, much weaker than Black, and that Black had several wands on him at the time. Luckily for him, Sirius is there to protect Harry, not kill him. (In all fairness, Harry has so many people after him that if he wants to go looking for someone who wanted to kill him, he doesn't have to go very far.)
  • Took a Level in Badass: Harry learns the Patronus Charm in this book, a difficult defensive spell, thus signalling the beginnings of him becoming an expert in magical combat against Dark creatures. To the point where, in Book 5, he gets an Outstanding on his DADA OWL exam, the only subject in which he bests Hermione.
  • Too Kinky to Torture: The History of Magic textbook says that witches burned at the stake could enchant the flames to make them tickle rather than burn and that a witch called Wendelin the Weird enjoyed it so much, she deliberately got caught 47 times in different disguises.
  • Totem Pole Trench: Totem Pole Dementor Cloak, actually: a collaboration between Malfoy, Flint, Goyle, and Crabbe.
  • Tranquil Fury:
    • Harry when he finally comes face to face with Sirius and thinking that not only does Sirius want to kill him, but led Voldemort to his parents, resulting in their deaths. He's wrong on both counts.
    • Professor McGonagall when she finds out someone wrote down the passwords for Gryffindor Tower and left them lying around (although actually Neville didn't, and no one knew Sirius was able to ask Crookshanks to slip the list to him in his Animagus form), which resulted in Sirius being able to get into Gryffindor Tower. Justified because at this point, everyone still thinks Sirius was after Harry.
  • Tricked Out Time: The climax comes with Dumbledore tasking Harry and Hermione (Ron broke his leg) with doing this to save Buckbeak (executed earlier that day) and Sirius (imprisoned) despite their interference already having happened and needing to remain hidden so as not to scare their past selves. They lead Buckbeak into the Forbidden Forest before the executioner came out of Hagrid's hut; because their past selves had to run away before the officials saw them, they didn't see Buckbeak's death and only heard what they thought was the executioner cutting off Buckbeak's head, when what actually happened was the executioner taking out his frustrations on an inanimate object.
  • Trick Twist: And how!
  • Turn Coat: Peter, textbook.
  • TV Telephone Etiquette: When Ron calls to try to talk to Harry, Vernon tells him that there is no Harry Potter there, to never contact him again or come near his family, and "throws the receiver back onto the telephone as if dropping a poisonous spider." But given that it's Vernon and that Ron was shouting, not knowing how to use a "fellytone" properly, it's pretty much to be expected.
  • Ultimate Final Exam: Professor Lupin has his pupils go through an obstacle course involving magical creatures for their final Defence against the Dark Arts examination — the last creature being a Boggart. Unlike most examples of this trope, there's at least a teacher around to step in if things get out of hand.
  • Undisclosed Funds: The new bleeding-edge Firebolt racing broom is listed as "price on request", which Harry interprets as 'more than he can realistically afford' — he speculates that he could pay for it, if he emptied his Gringotts vaults completely, but then he'd have nothing left to pay for schooling.
  • Undying Loyalty: Sirius and Lupin are furious that Peter did not have this to James, because they would have, not only to James, but to Peter as well. A sacrifice that wouldn't even be necessary if he didn't choose to change his alignment for real.
    "You don’t understand!" whined Pettigrew. "He would have killed me, Sirius!"
    "THEN YOU SHOULD HAVE DIED!" roared Black. "DIED RATHER THAN BETRAY YOUR FRIENDS, AS WE WOULD HAVE DONE FOR YOU!"
  • Unsportsmanlike Gloating: In a rare case where someone who wasn't playing in the game concerned, Malfoy indulges in it after Hufflepuff beats Gryffindor at Quidditch because the Dementors knocked Harry out and nearly killed him.
  • The Victim Must Be Confused: When Harry, Ron, and Hermione try to explain to Snape that Sirius isn't a Death Eater and that he is not holding them hostage, Snape proclaims that they must have been put under the Imperius Curse and tries attacking Sirius.
  • The Villain Must Be Punished: Discussed in the conclusion. Sirius becomes furious that Harry would let Pettigrew go instead of letting Sirius kill him, reminding Harry that the entire reason Harry is an orphan in the first place is Pettigrew selling out Harry's parents to Voldemort. Harry agrees, but says killing him isn't what his father would have wanted and letting him go is more of Cruel Mercy. Dumbledore also says Harry did the right thing even though it resulted in Pettigrew's escape, as this has created a magical bond between Harry and Pettigrew that backfires on Voldemort later.
  • Villainous Breakdown: Snape completely loses it once Sirius escapes.
  • Villains Want Mercy: Peter begs Ron, Hermione and Harry to protect him from Sirius and Remus (after he fails with his begging with them). Harry gives it to him, but only because he does not want Sirius and Remus to become murderers and because bringing Peter back alive will exonerate Sirius.
  • Wardrobe Flaw of Characterization: When Remus Lupin is first introduced it's mentioned that his clothes and luggage bear signs of frequent repair, establishing him as a somewhat shabby and hard-used character.
  • Was Too Hard on Him: McGonagall regrets having been so stern with Peter Pettigrew, given what happened to him. If only she knew...
  • Weaksauce Weakness: Boggarts are defeated by laughter.
  • Weirder Than Usual: Harry and Dumbledore regarding Trelawney. When the Eccentric Mentor has to ask "Stranger than usual, you mean?", you know it must be weird.
  • Wham Line:
    • When the Trio overhears Madame Rosmerta, Fudge, and a few Hogwarts staff discussing Sirius Black in his school days:
      McGonagall: You say you remember him at Hogwarts, Rosmerta. Do you remember who his best friend was?
      Rosmerta: Naturally. Never saw one without the other, did you? The number of times I had them in here —
      ooh, they used to make me laugh. Quite the double act, Sirius Black and James Potter!
    • Later, near the climax, when Sirius reveals something quite shocking about Scabbers.
      Lupin: [Scabbers is] a wizard.
      Sirius: An Animagus. By the name of Peter Pettigrew.
  • "What Do They Fear?" Episode: Lupin gives the class a practical lesson in dealing with the shape-shifting Boggart. He does not let Harry try it for fear of it turning into Voldemort and causing a panic.
    • Hermione is also, albeit not as consciously, denied the same opportunity. She reveals her own fear after succumbing to the Boggart in her exam: failure.
  • What Happened to the Mouse?: It's never properly explained how Sirius gets into and out of the castle. It's implied that he got onto the grounds through the Whomping Willow, but that still leaves the castle security (ghosts, Filch, etc.). And Ron points out that Honeydukes probably wasn't broken into because they would have heard about it. The most likely scenario is that he went into the candy shop as a dog when no one was watching, but even then, he didn't have a wand to tap the one-eyed witch's statue.
  • What the Hell, Hero?:
    • Ron constantly warns Hermione to stop her cat from eating Scabbers, getting irritated when she doesn't take his concerns seriously, and it seems that Crookshanks can understand human speech when Ron mentions where Scabbers is. Crookshanks turns out to be Properly Paranoid about Scabbers being an Animagus named Peter Pettigrew, but Ron couldn't have known that.
    • Harry and Ron call out Hermione for telling Professor McGonagall about the Firebolt, thinking Sirius might have sent it, without even mentioning the possibility to Harry after he rolls it out. Oliver Wood even points out the improbability that Sirius, as a wanted fugitive, could just walk into Quality Quidditch Supplies and buy the most expensive broomstick on display. Weirdly, Both Sides Have a Point: Sirius easily purchased and sent the Firebolt to Harry because Gringotts goblins have much laxer oversight standards than wizards. So he could have cursed the broom had he wanted to. The real issue, of course, is that Hermione didn't tell Harry and Ron about the dangers (though they should probably have tried to work it out for themselves) and merely went and warned their Head of House without telling them.
    • Nicely averted by Hagrid when he addresses Harry and Ron alienating Hermione for the latter half of the book. He tells them he isn't blaming them per se, just that he believes they should value friendship over "broomsticks and pets." Coming from someone who considers some of his pets his best friends, it's a bit ironic.
    • Both Snape and Lupin to Harry for sneaking into Hogsmeade, thereby disregarding all the effort everybody is making for his safety, as well as gambling the sacrifice his parents made. It's definitely more justifiable from Lupin, who was one of James' friends. It's less so from Snape, who uses this as another chance to make cheap shots about James.
    • Later, Hermione to Lupin when she suspected him of having helped Sirius into Hogwarts, even though she was wrong.
  • Wrecked Weapon: "Weapon" isn't the exact term, but this is roughly what happens to Harry's prized Nimbus 2000. After he falls off, it flies into the Whomping Willow. It's returned to Harry as a small pile of splinters.
  • Writers Cannot Do Math: Originally in the first book, it was said that Marcus Flint was a sixth-year, which means he should have graduated in the second book. He’s still at school and on the Slytherin Quidditch team here. However, the math goof has been edited in newer editions, by making Flint a fifth-year in the first book instead.
  • Wronski Feint: A variant. Harry fakes seeing the Snitch to trick Cho into flying the wrong direction (this lacks the large solid object to truly be considered a feint).
  • You Already Changed the Past: The Stable Time Loop. Which renders all those fanfics in which the characters Peggy Sue themselves back in time to fix things all the more incompatible with the canon.
  • You Can't Fight Fate: Trelawney makes her first (on-page) accurate prediction, and it comes to pass exactly as she said it would, leading to idea that prophecies exist and are immutable. We'll later learn that it's not quite so simple.
  • You Dirty Rat!: Peter's Animagus form, full stop. One has to wonder how James, Sirius, and Lupin didn't get suspicious about this, especially since an Animagus form is automatic and cannot be chosen by the wizard. Sirius himself says he'll never understand why he didn't realize Peter was the spy from the beginning.
  • You Know the One: The Dementors are referred to as "the Azkaban guards" at first, leaving their exact nature ambiguous to the reader until Harry first gets to see them. Afterwards, everyone just calls them what they are.


Alternative Title(s): Prisoner Of Azkaban

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