Twenty-two years ago today, Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban was published. The third book in the Harry Potter series follows Harry during his third year at Hogwarts. The notorious murderer Sirius Black has escaped from Azkaban after being imprisoned for twelve years. Believed to be the loyal servant of Lord Voldemort, Black was sent to Azkaban after killing thirteen people with one curse. Before escaping, in his sleep Black has overheard muttering, “He’s at Hogwarts…he’s at Hogwarts,” creating the notion that Black is determined to find Harry Potter, the boy who stopped the Dark Lord. Although Harry feels the happiest at Hogwarts, he might not be safe for much longer as the threat of Sirius Black looms in closer and closer.
To celebrate the twenty-second anniversary of Prisoner of Azkaban, let’s reflect on fifteen of the most important and unforgettable moments from the book!
1. Aunt Marge
When Uncle Vernon’s sister comes to visit the Dursleys, she treats Harry horribly and berates him every chance she gets. After she starts disrespecting Harry’s parents, Harry becomes so angry he accidentally causes Aunt Marge to swell up like an enormous balloon and float away. While this scene is traumatic for the Dursleys, it’s hilarious for readers!
2. Dementor on Hogwarts Express
On the way to Hogwarts, the Hogwarts Express randomly stops on the tracks before reaching the school. The temperature drops significantly and all the windows darken. A cloaked figure appears at the door of Harry’s compartment; Harry hears the voice of someone screaming, all while experiencing an intense cold and suffocating feeling. When he comes to, he learns the creature was a Dementor, instructed to search the train for Sirius Black, the escaped Azkaban prisoner who wants to kill Harry.
3. The Grim
During the third-year’s first Divination lesson with Professor Trelawney, she teaches them how to discern their fortunes by reading tea leaves. However, she startles when she reads Harry’s leaves, as they portray the sign of the Grim, an omen of death. This instance is even more serious to Harry as he previously saw a Grim the night he blew up Aunt Marge.
In the Wizarding World, a boggart takes the form of whatever a witch or wizard fears the most. During the third-year’s Defense Against the Dark Arts lesson with Professor Lupin, Neville Longbottom’s boggart turns into Severus Snape. To counter a boggart, the person must cast the incantation “Riddikulus.” To the amusement of everyone, Neville’s boggart changes into Snape wearing his grandmother’s clothing.
5. The Fat Lady Goes Missing
After the Halloween Feast, Harry, Ron, and Hermione return back the Gryffindor Common Room, but neither they or the other students are able to enter. The Fat Lady, who allows the students to enter with the Gryffindor password, has gone missing from her painting. The canvas of her painting has been slashed and torn up. When Dumbledore arrives, he learns from Peeves the Poltergeist that Sirius Black attempted to enter the Common Room, but the Fat Lady wouldn’t let him. This event forces the Hogwarts professors to search the entire castle for Black, while the students speculate about how he even got into Hogwarts in the first place.
6. Snape’s Werewolf Lesson
After Professor Lupin falls ill and is unable to teach Defense Against the Dark Arts, Snape temporarily takes over. He dismisses the class’s reluctance to learning about werewolves, as that lesson was not what they were learning about with Lupin. Not only is this short moment in the book an important moment of foreshadowing for later events, it also provides Potter fans with one of the most iconic, most-used lines in the entire seven-book series: “Turn to page 394.”
7. Harry Receives the Marauder’s Map
After Ron’s twin brothers Fred and George find Harry by himself after his friends go to Hogsmeade, they gift him with the Marauder’s map, a magical map that shows the entirety of Hogwarts, where people are in the castle, and a series of secret passageways to Hogsmeade. The map is one of the most iconic pieces of magic in the Wizarding World and Harry consults it/utilizes it frequently throughout the remaining four Harry Potter books.
8. In the Three Broomsticks
After Harry sneaks into Hogsmeade in his Invisibility Cloak, he, Ron, and Hermione enter the Three Broomsticks and end up sitting (hidden) near the Minister of Magic, the bar maid Rosmerta, and a few Hogwarts professors. The group ends up talking about Sirius Black, which leads to Harry learning three important pieces of information: 1. Harry’s father, James, was close friends with Sirius while they were at Hogwarts, 2. Sirius Black is Harry’s godfather, and 3. Black turned against the Potters to support Voldemort and killed his schoolmate Peter Pettigrew, who supposedly tried to come after Black after Voldemort killed Harry’s parents.
9. Patronus Lessons
Since Harry is so vulnerable to dementor attacks, Lupin agrees to teach him how to defend himself from the creatures. It in these lessons that Potter fans first learn of Patronuses and the spell “Expecto patronum.”
10. Sirius Black
Harry finally comes face-to-face with the man he’s heard about all year. The man who Harry believes wishes to murder him. Black admits he had a part to play in the death of Harry’s parents, but urges Harry to let him tell the whole story. Just when Harry’s ready to attack Black, Lupin shows up, but embraces Black like the old friends they actually are. Growing more confused by the minute, Harry, Ron, and Hermione demand to know the truth about who Black is and why Lupin is defending both of them.
11. Peter Pettigrew
After some (much-needed) explanations, Sirius Black and Remus Lupin convince Harry to let them reveal Peter Pettigrew’s identity. For twelve years, Pettigrew has been hiding himself, disguised as Ron’s pet rat Scabbers. Harry learns that Pettigrew was friends with his father, Sirius, and Lupin while they attended Hogwarts. Although he initially tries to deny it and make up excuses, he admits that he was the one who actually betrayed Harry’s parents to Voldemort, not Sirius.
After Harry, Ron, Hermione, Sirius, Lupin, Pettigrew, and Snape emerge from the Shrieking Shack/Whomping Willow, it’s late into the evening. Professor Lupin begins to transform into a werewolf, endangering the group as he will no longer recognize them. Sirius decides to fight Lupin in his Animagus form, the black dog that looks like a Grim. During this moment, Pettigrew transforms himself back into a rat and escapes.
13. The Kiss
After Sirius is injured by Lupin during their fight as dog and werewolf, Sirius staggers down to a lake. Harry follows him, but he’s not the only one. A swarm of dementors close in on Harry and Sirius; Harry cannot protect themselves from so many of the vile creatures. They perform the Dementor’s Kiss on Harry and Sirius, causing both to pass out.
Harry and Sirius are brought back to Hogwarts after the Dementor’s Kiss. Sirius is imprisoned and awaits returning back to Azkaban. Harry, Ron, and Hermione try to convince Dumbledore that Sirius is innocent of the crimes he’s been accused of. While Dumbledore believes them, he knows they cannot prove it. He hints to Hermione that what they need is “more time.” Hermione then confesses to Harry that she’s been using a Time-Turner all year to keep up with her rigorous class schedule. With the Time-Turner, they could go back in time and change the course of events from the evening to save Sirius.
15. Saving Buckbeak and Sirius Black
Using the Time-Turner, Harry and Hermione go back in time to free Buckbeak while Dumbledore, Cornelius Fudge, Hagrid and Buckbeak’s executioner are in Hagrid’s hut. Hours later, after the events of the Shrieking Shack unfold, Harry manages to save his other self and Sirius at the lake when being attacked by dementors. Harry and Hermione help Sirius escape into the night on Buckbeak.