Harry Potter And The Prisoner of Azkaban Ending Explained (2023)

The ending of Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban offers one of the biggest twists the franchise has ever seen. After his heroics in Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, the third film gets a lot darker as it experiments with a mix of genres (including a sci-fi, time traveling storyline and a few horror components, which sees a chilling conspiracy unfold and a huge confrontation in a haunted house). With Harry, Hermione, and Ron also entering their third year of Hogwarts, they are faced with new foes and uncover a ton of secrets that set up the upcoming battle between good and evil.


The film ends on a dramatic note as the questions surrounding Sirius Black and Peter Pettigrew's identities are answered, presenting characters that will be of major importance in the franchise's future: Sirius Black is Harry's godfather and a precious ally, Remus Lupin is a mentor Harry can absolutely count on, and Peter Pettigrew is a treacherous villain who joins forces with Voldemort. Moreover, the ending takes advantage of other important elements that will appear multiple times throughout the Harry Potter movies, such as Patronuses and Dementors. Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban might not be full of action as the others, but it doesn't make it any less compelling.

What Happens In The Harry Potter And The Prisoner Of Azkaban Ending (& Why) - Explained

Harry Potter And The Prisoner of Azkaban Ending Explained (1)

A succession of chaotic events is triggered when Ron's pet rat, Scabbers, bites him and runs away after Buckbeak's execution. As The Golden Trio follows, they are intercepted by the large black dog Harry saw at the beginning of the movie, who drags Ron down the hole that leads to the Shrieking Shack. It is here that the trio discovers the black dog is Sirius Black's Animagus form and that Peter Pettigrew is alive and has been hiding at Hogwarts all this time (leading to the first twist of many when Sirius casts a spell upon Scabbers, revealing that the rat is actually the Animagus form of Peter Pettigrew).

(Video) Harry Potter 3 (2004) Movie Explained | Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban Movie Explained

With all these characters in the room, shocking truths become to unravel, starting with the revelation that Pettigrew was the one responsible for Harry's parents death, framing Sirius for his crimes after faking his own death and disguising himself as a rat this whole time. Escorting Pettigrew back to the castle to disclose Sirius' innocence to everyone, the full moon rises and summons Lupin's werewolf curse, causing Pettigrew to escape and Sirius to be sentenced to the Dementor's kiss. What could be the most tragic ending possible to the film gives way to a surprising twist: Hermione has a Time-Turner.

With Dumbledore's indirect permission, she returns with Harry back to that same evening hoping to change the events of that mournful night and prove Sirius Black's innocence. Together they set Buckbeak free and then part ways so Hermione can distract the werewolf while Harry attempts to save Sirius from the Dementors, doing so with a powerful Patronus spell. Although Harry and Hermione don't manage to clear Sirius' name, they succeed in freeing him from his cell and offering an escape route with Buckbeak. With Lupin forced to resign after his lycanthropy is exposed, the film ends on a bittersweet note but sets up the path for new characters in the franchise.

Who The Marauders Are, Explained

Harry Potter And The Prisoner of Azkaban Ending Explained (2)
(Video) The Prisoner of Azkaban Film: A Cinematic Masterpiece (Video Essay)

Understanding the Marauders' backstory is crucial to interpret the character dynamics that take place in the ending of Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban (even though the film doesn't take nearly as much attention to details as the books to the group of friends that ruled Hogwarts in the '70s). The Marauders consisted of four Gryffindor students: James Potter, Sirius Black, Remus Lupin, and Peter Pettigrew. The four were inseparable friends, but a dark secret had the potential to ruin their dynamic together: Lupin was already suffering from lycanthropy by the time, and the truth about him could cause the group to splinter.

What actually happened, however, was an intricate plan orchestrated by the four to help Lupin come to terms with his condition. James, Sirius, and Peter gradually learned how to become Animagi, turning into animals alongside Lupin's werewolf form to assist him during his transformations. James' Animagus form was a stag, Prongs (just like his and Harry's Patronus), Sirius was a black dog, Padfoot, Peter a rat, Wormtail, while Lupin's nickname ended up being Moony. Turning into Animagi wasn't the only major feat of the Marauders, given that the four would soon create the Marauder's Map (a valuable object that came in handy to Harry in the third film).

The Marauder's Map summarizes the group's rebellious manners, but the Marauders were also famous for being mean to other students, especially James and Sirius. While Lupin never joined them in their more spiteful pranks, he revealed to Harry he regretted never trying to stop them. One of the students that suffered the most from the Marauders' pranks was Snape, leading up to a long-term rivalry between Snape and Potter, which passed on to Harry. Despite the ups and downs, the bond that tied the Marauders was more powerful than friendship, which explains why Sirius ended up leaving his pure-blood family behind and moving to James' house as an adopted brother.

Why Peter Pettigrew Betrayed James and Lily Potter

Harry Potter And The Prisoner of Azkaban Ending Explained (3)

The long-term friendship of the four Marauders had everything to last longer if it wasn't for Voldemort. James married Lily when he was only 19 and named Sirius as Harry's godfather. The four Marauders continued to support each other and eventually joined the Order of Phoenix to fight against Voldemort. However, Peter Pettigrew betrayed the group when he realized Voldemort's growing strength and ultimately gave up James and Lily's location, framing Sirius for the crime, and forging his own death. Given their history, this was a devastating way for the Marauders to end their friendship and no character was ever the same after this.

(Video) Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban in Minutes | Recap

How Does Time Travel Works In Harry Potter And The Prisoner Of Azkaban

Harry Potter And The Prisoner of Azkaban Ending Explained (4)

When fans thought things couldn't get more complicated in the film, time travel is introduced to Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban. Foremost, it's important to notice that Hermione would never have used the Time-Turner if Dumbledore hadn't given her permission to do so, but Sirius Black's unfair sentence to the Dementor's Kiss poses a valid motivation to go back in time and do things differently. The number of turns Hermione turns the Time-Turner's hourglass corresponds to the number of hours she would travel back in time. Aware that traveling too long back in time could cause serious harm to Harry and her, Hermione went back three hours.

Time travel in Harry Potter is different from what sci-fi fans might be used to. In Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, traveling back in time doesn't seem to interfere with the regular course of events since two different "pasts" occur simultaneously, being it all just a matter of perspective. The best way to understand that is by taking the key moments that, technically, happened before Hermione and Harry even went back in time, such as Harry seeing his father's Patronus in the lake, which turns out to be himself from the future casting the Patronus spell. Another example is Hermione’s shouting distracting Lupin’s werewolf form from the group.

(Video) The Prisoner of Azkaban DOESN'T Make Sense (Harry Potter Explained)

How Harry Potter And The Prisoner Of Azkaban Ending Sets Up The Franchise's Future

Harry Potter And The Prisoner of Azkaban Ending Explained (5)

Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban works pretty much as an extension of the narrative, taking its time to explore key points that will return with a higher importance in the future. Unlike the previous two movies, the third doesn't have a neat beginning, middle, or end but rather a succession of events that unravel around the figure of Sirius Black and the mysterious figures that lurk in the corridors of Hogwarts. Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban introduces not only one but two fan-favorite characters that will represent important allies and even father figures to Harry: Sirius Black and Remus Lupin.

The two characters are revealed to be long-term friends at the end of the film and return as key members of the Order of Phoenix in the future. Peter Pettigrew becomes a major antagonist in Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, working alongside Barty Crouch Jr. to ensure Lord Voldemort's successful return. The concept of Patronuses and the Patronus charm itself taught by Lupin is also a recurring element of the franchise, representing one of the most effective protective spells while also saying a lot about each character's psyche, which is evident in Dumbledore's Army, established in the fifth movie.

(Video) Harry Potter and Prisoner of Azkaban | Full Movie | Explained in Hindi

The Dementors are also minor antagonists in Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, and although they don't return to the franchise as enemies, they add a whole new terrifying atmosphere to the story. The guards of Azkaban and mysterious creatures that prey on human happiness, Dementors won't stop attacking Harry, later returning in Harry Potter and the Order of Phoenix to almost take Dudley with them. The Dementors often affect the narrative indirectly such as in Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, when Barty Crouch Jr. is sent to receive the Dementor's kiss, the maximum penalty in the Magic world, which consists of Dementors sucking out someone's soul.

More: Harry Potter And The Goblet Of Fire Ending Explained


1. Everything Wrong With Harry Potter & The Prisoner Of Azkaban
2. Every Single Difference Between the Prisoner of Azkaban Book & Movie (Harry Potter Explained)
3. Harry Potter & The Prisoner of Azkaban: Why It's The Best
4. 7 Secrets You Missed in Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban
(Film Forlan)
5. Why Prisoner of Azkaban's Score is the Best in the Series
(Listening In)
6. Movie Spoiler Alerts - Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban (2004) Video Summary
(Movie Spoiler Alerts)
Top Articles
Latest Posts
Article information

Author: Allyn Kozey

Last Updated: 01/14/2023

Views: 5988

Rating: 4.2 / 5 (43 voted)

Reviews: 82% of readers found this page helpful

Author information

Name: Allyn Kozey

Birthday: 1993-12-21

Address: Suite 454 40343 Larson Union, Port Melia, TX 16164

Phone: +2456904400762

Job: Investor Administrator

Hobby: Sketching, Puzzles, Pet, Mountaineering, Skydiving, Dowsing, Sports

Introduction: My name is Allyn Kozey, I am a outstanding, colorful, adventurous, encouraging, zealous, tender, helpful person who loves writing and wants to share my knowledge and understanding with you.