WARNING: Spoilers are unmarked.
- While Harry obviously has the hardest time of the Trio (in dealing with the fact that a mass murderer is out to get him and said murderer was his parents' best friend), Ron and Hermione don't have it great, either. Ron is dealing with the fact that his pet rat Scabbers (unaware of his actual identity) is supposedly dying, something he doesn't get much sympathy for. Hermione, meanwhile, has been taking more lessons than usual and she's no doubt struggling under all the pressure; it's frankly a miracle she's still sane by the end of the year!
- Plus, Ron discovers that, all this time, his beloved pet is secretly Peter Pettigrew, a horrible, horrible man.
- When Harry realizes what his Patronus is.
- "Prongs rode again last night."
- Yet another tear-jerky item regarding the Patronus comes at the climax of the story: Harry, after the time jump, sees himself and Sirius being overwhelmed by the Dementors, and Harry is waiting for his father to come and save him. He realizes his dad isn't coming and casts the Patronus himself. It's a really powerful scene with that in mind.
- A rather subtle but effective moment comes when Harry catches himself almost hoping to be overwhelmed by a Dementor since, horrible as the experience is, it's the only time he's ever heard his parents' voices.
- Mind you, this becomes Fridge Horror when you learn that Harry has a piece of Voldemort inside him and realize that it isn't Harry's memory of his father telling Lily to take their son and run, and neither is the one of Lily screaming...it's Voldemort's.
- Another somewhat subtle one is when Harry is learning how to cast the Patronus Charm and can't focus on a happy memory hard enough, he's struggling to find a happier memory each time until finally he ends up thinking that if something simple but happy can't help him, nothing will.
- During Harry's first tutoring session with the Boggart!Dementor, Harry hears his mother and father's voices for the first time in a decade. When Harry tells Lupin about it, Lupin freezes and whispers "You heard James?" He must have missed his best friend so much.
- To go with the above, early in the book, Lupin stops Harry from facing the boggart on the assumption that it will take the form of Voldemort. He nonchalantly states that such a thing would cause quite a ruckus and would thus not be a good idea. However, Harry greatly resembles his father James, Lupin's best friend...whom Voldemort murdered. It's quite likely that Lupin jumped in as quickly as he did because he was also trying to prevent himself (and possibly others) from having to see what would essentially be a near-reenactment of the night James Potter died.
- Hagrid losing his confidence because of the incident with Buckbeak.
- Even worse is how Malfoy did it on purpose!
- J. K. Rowling intended the Dementors to represent clinical depression, so the description of Hagrid in Azkaban becomes especially harrowing. He wasn't there for very long, but the presence of the Dementors made him relive his worst memories: The death of his father, the abandonment of his mother, being expelled from Hogwarts, etc. It wasn't until he left that he returned to his usual jovial self. His terror of the place partly informs why he doesn't just help Buckbeak escape into the wild.Hagrid: I can't ever go back to Azkaban...
- It can't possibly be understated how out of character this is for Hagrid. Hagrid is the wizard world's Friend to All Living Things, a kind optimist with a heart almost bigger than himself, and will not let harm come to his creatures, even if those creatures are actively dangerous. In fact, it was that very tendency (along with a bit of Fantastic Racism) that got Hagrid framed and expelled from Hogwarts. But he sounds completely broken when mentioning what that place is like and what it does to your psyche, and is willing to take this one on the chin because Azkaban is that horrible a place.
- Buckbeak almost being executed by the Ministry of Magic, especially with Hagrid's friends nearby and powerless to help. Thankfully, they do end up being able to stop it.
- The opening line of the chapter where Scabbers is presumed to have been killed by Crookshanks, where Hermione and Ron's anger at what they see as the other being at fault makes Harry genuinely fear they will never reconcile.It looked like the end of Ron and Hermione's friendship. Each was so angry with the other, Harry couldn't see how they were ever going to make it up.
- Harry's Hope Spot when Sirius tells Harry he's his godfather and offers him the chance to move in with him, just to have it snatched away. For a brief moment, it seemed his dreams were coming true and he could leave the Dursleys, just for reality to come back. No wonder he was so despondent despite saving Sirius and Buckbeak's lives.
- Lupin leaving, especially when you consider just how many jobs he must have lost in this same way. No matter how good he is at the job or how well-liked he is by his co-workers or pupils, it always comes down to how long he can keep his condition a secret. All it takes is one person letting slip the fact that he's a werewolf, and he's fired/has to quit because of Fantastic Racism.Lupin: Well...let's just say I'm used to it.
- The fact that James and Lily were killed by Voldemort because Peter Pettigrew, one of James' best friends since his first year at Hogwarts, decided to betray them. Then Pettigrew decided to fake his death and frame Sirius for his crime once it led to Voldemort's downfall and Sirius had to spend most of his life in prison for something he didn't do while Remus went on thinking all of his friends were dead. No wonder Sirius and Remus wanted to kill Pettigrew."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!"
Sirius: I as good as killed them.
- What happened from Sirius' point of view. He convinced James and Lily to use Pettigrew as Secret Keeper as Sirius would have been the obvious choice in the eyes of their enemies, then he hears of Voldemort's attack. He hurries there, only to find the house in ruins. Pale and shaking, he is comforted by Hagrid, only to then be told he cannot have the orphaned Harry. Then Sirius, obviously planning either to die or to go to Azkaban, leaves his motorbike behind to make Pettigrew pay for what he's done, only for Pettigrew to frame him, leaving everyone to think it was Sirius who betrayed Lily and James.
- Sirius having to admit to Harry that, even though he didn't betray them, he still played a significant role in James and Lily's deaths by convincing them to make Pettigrew the Secret Keeper. The poor guy not only contributed to his best friend and his wife getting killed, but he also has to tell his godson that if it weren't for him, Harry wouldn't be an orphan.
- A small part. Why did Sirius convince Peter? Because as James' best friends, Sirius knew the Death Eaters would consider him to be the obvious candidate, putting the secret in danger if he is picked, so he needed someone else... but he suspected Lupin (aka the second likeliest/closest candidate) which is why he didn't promote Lupin or tell him about the switch until over a decade later. And Lupin admits he suspected Sirius as well when they mutually forgive each other.
- Harry confronting Sirius when he still thinks the latter is the one who betrayed his parents becomes this even moreso when keeping in mind just how much Harry looks like his father. To Sirius, who spent twelve years in Azkaban mourning two of his best friends, holding himself accountable for their deaths, and suffering some degree of Sanity Slippage, it would seem like James himself is the one furiously blaming him for causing his and Lily's deaths.
- Remus and Sirius are about to kill Pettigrew. It's only because Harry interrupts that they stop. Are they seeing Harry or, in that moment, do they see his father?
- A small Fridge Horror one regarding Ginny during the first Dementor attack on the train: Remember afterwards when she is shown to be "looking almost as bad as Harry felt" and starts crying? The attack most likely forced her to relive her ordeal with Tom Riddle's diary from the year before.
- Harry cries for the first time ever, seeing he hadn't cried in the books yet even, aside from drying his eyes around Dumbledore and Lupin.Harry: He was their friend...and he betrayed him... HE WAS THEIR FRIEND!
- Made even worse that Harry practically wishes death on his godfather for something he didn't do (betraying and killing his parents).
- Gary Oldman's portrayal of Sirius is looked on, by some, as rather Narmy. However, when he screams "I DID MY WAITING! TWELVE YEARS OF IT! IN AZKABAN!", it becomes clear how broken Sirius is.
- Lupin's wolf form starts whimpering and giving Hermione an exceedingly pitiful look before fully succumbing to his feral state and howling furiously. It's almost as though, for a brief moment, the kindly teacher is aware of what he's become and truly regrets what he's about to do to three of his students.
- Also before the transformation, Sirius is seen holding Lupin and anxiously asking if he took his medication and trying to soothe him. It feels like a good friend trying to help their own friend through a medical episode or attack, hoping it's not fatal.
- Sirius lunges at the Werewolf!Lupin with such a force that Werewolf!Lupin is knocked off his feet. Has Sirius ever had to do this before whenever Remus got out of line?
- Lupin leaving because of his condition, especially when he says he's used to it.
- Harry's learning of the Patronus (or rather, his initial struggle to do so) is sad in a way that's so obvious that it's almost subtle. Especially in the film, where Harry fails the first time and Lupin asks him what happy memory he chose to try to power the Patronus. Harry responds with his first memory of riding a broomstick and Lupin says that it wasn't "nearly strong enough." But until Harry finds the loophole (the memory doesn't always have to be real; it can be a positive hope, dream, or the like), that's literally the best he can come up with up to that point.
- Not necessarily the best he has (he could probably think of his friends, and it would be strong enough in time), but what's sad is that the happiest thing he can come up with is something that he can't even really remember, can't tell if it's even real: His parents doing nothing but talking. Now that is the Tear Jerker. How often he must have yearned for them, like any orphan (or even anyone, when their own parents die)...