Another unfulfilling summer passes for Harry Potter under the roof of the Dursleys. On his thirteenth birthday, Vernon’s sister, Marge, cruelly insults Harry and his parents, leading to an enraged outburst that causes her to inflate and float away. Fearing expulsion for using magic outside of Hogwarts, Harry escapes with his belongings.
The Knight Bus, an emergency transport service for stranded witches and wizards, locates and transports Harry to the Leaky Cauldron, where Minister for Magic Cornelius Fudge assures him he won’t be punished. Reuniting with his dearest friends, Ron Weasley and Hermione Granger, Harry discovers that Sirius Black, a convicted supporter of Lord Voldemort, has escaped from Azkaban Prison with the intent of killing him. On the journey to Hogwarts, the Hogwarts Express is intercepted by Dementors, spectral prison guards in search of Black. One Dementor enters Harry’s compartment, causing him to faint, but the new Defense Against the Dark Arts teacher, Remus Lupin, repels it with a Patronus Charm. Upon their arrival at Hogwarts, Headmaster Albus Dumbledore announces the deployment of Dementors to patrol the school until Black is captured.
Rubeus Hagrid is appointed as the Care of Magical Creatures teacher, but his first lesson goes awry when Draco Malfoy provokes a Hippogriff named Buckbeak into attacking him, leading to Buckbeak’s sentence to death at the hands of Lucius Malfoy.
Back at Gryffindor Tower, the students discover the Fat Lady’s portrait has been vandalized, and she reports to Dumbledore that Black has entered the castle. During a stormy Quidditch match, Dementors cause Harry to fall from his broomstick, which is destroyed by the Whomping Willow. Dumbledore uses the Slowing Charm to break Harry’s fall, and Harry later awakens in the infirmary.
Harry is caught by Fred and George while attempting to visit Hogsmeade, but they provide him with the Marauder’s Map. Using the map, Harry sneaks into Hogsmeade and learns that Black is, in fact, his godfather but had revealed the Potters’ whereabouts to Voldemort and murdered their mutual friend Peter Pettigrew.
Determined to protect himself from Dementors, Harry persuades Lupin to teach him the Patronus Charm. After a Divination class, he witnesses Professor Trelawney enter a trance and prophesy the return of the Dark Lord. Meanwhile, during Buckbeak’s execution, Ron’s pet rat Scabbers bites him and escapes, and a large black dog drags both Ron and Scabbers into a hole at the base of the Whomping Willow. This leads them to an underground passage into the Shrieking Shack, where the dog is revealed to be Black, an Animagus who can transform into an animal.
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Lupin appears and embraces Black as an old friend, eventually revealing that he is a werewolf. Snape arrives to apprehend Black but is knocked out by Harry’s Disarming spell. Lupin and Black unveil the truth that Scabbers is, in reality, the Animagus form of Pettigrew, who betrayed Harry’s parents, feigned his own death, and framed Black for his crimes. Turning Pettigrew back into his human form, the group heads back to the castle, but the full moon triggers Lupin’s transformation, and Pettigrew escapes. Black assumes his animal form and battles the werewolf Lupin, who gravely injures Black. Black manages to escape when a distant wolf cry distracts Lupin, causing him to flee.
Harry and Black are then attacked by Dementors until an unseen figure casts a powerful Patronus charm, driving them away. Harry falls unconscious but awakens in the infirmary alongside Dumbledore and Hermione.
With Black captured and sentenced to the Dementor’s Kiss, Harry and Hermione follow Dumbledore’s advice and employ Hermione’s Time-Turner, which she uses to attend multiple classes. They travel three hours back in time and observe themselves reliving the night’s events. They manage to free Buckbeak from his execution. Witnessing the past Harry and Black being attacked by Dementors, Harry rescues them with a Patronus charm and realizes that he was the mysterious figure who saved them earlier. They release Black, who escapes on Buckbeak but remains a fugitive without proof of his innocence. Harry and Hermione return to their own timeline.
Exposed as a werewolf, Lupin resigns from his teaching post and returns the Marauder’s Map to Harry. Black sends Harry a Firebolt broomstick as a gift, which he joyfully takes for a ride.