Thrilling though their lives might have seemed as young boys, the Marauders of the Wizarding World of Harry Potter went on to live dark and troubling lives. James Potter was killed by Lord Voldemort, Peter Pettigrew joined forces with Voldemort to aid in James’ death, Remus Lupin was plagued with lycanthropy, and Sirius Black…well, he arguably had it the worst. He was wrongfully accused of killing James, his best friend, was sent to prison for twelve years, and despite his best efforts to abandon his racist, cold-blooded family, he was considered an international threat until the day he was murdered by his own cousin.
That said, Sirius Black led as respectable a life as anyone in his situation could have possibly led. Despite the trail of tragedies that he dragged around like anchors until the day he was killed, he was loyal to his cause and to his friends. He was a man with a soured reputation, but unstoppable willpower. No matter how defeated the world continued to leave him, he persevered. Still, there’s more to him than most readers and audiences might actually know. So, while raising a glass of warm butterbeer to this esteemed wizard, read on to discover 15 Things You Didn’t Know About Sirius Black.
15. Helped Create The Marauders Map To Help His Friend Endure His Werewolf Transformations
Even though it’s safe to say that the Marauders (James Potter, Sirius Black, Remus Lupin, and Peter Pettigrew) took advantage of their magical map of Hogwarts, the map was created for a reason. Its purpose, aside from helping them sneak around at their leisure, was specifically to help Lupin anytime there happened to be a full moon. Being a werewolf, self-control wasn’t exactly his forte, so his friends put their heads together to create a means for momentary escape.
In their eyes, the Shrieking Shack seemed to be the best hideout for Lupin to lose himself in anytime his lycanthropic tendencies took over, so they went right ahead and used some magical parchment to give him a leg-up on his curse. Seeing as they couldn’t do much to affect the actual beast within, they did their best to, at the very least, cage the beast itself.
14. His Parents Hated Him
Aside from how most of the Wizarding World views him, Sirius Black is a lovable character. He was brave and loyal, if not rough-around-the-edges (though one could blame wrongful imprisonment in a maximum security penitentiary for that). Still, his positive attributes didn’t help him when it came to his family. A stuffy, stuck-up bunch, the rest of the Blacks hated him. He was the black sheep (no pun intended) in his family, and they had no trouble reminding him that he stuck out like a sore thumb.
Still, the only reason this was the case was on account of where his loyalty stood. While the rest of his family was busy saluting all of the pure-blood wizards of the world, Sirius was rooting for the underdogs (his animagus was a dog itself, but again, no pun intended). Still, no matter how difficult his family might have made his life, Sirius was serious about standing on the right side of history — and at this point, pun may as well be intended.
13. He Has A Tattoo Of The Alchemical Symbol For The Gray Wolf
On some film sets, the props are random at best. Even though certain objects may look substantial on the outside, they may be nothing more than pieces of cardboard underneath. That being said, the creators of the Harry Potter franchise took their roles seriously, even when it came down to details like hard-to-spot tattoos.
When Sirius Black first shows up in Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, his ragged outfit shows off quite a bit of skin, as well as quite a few tattoos. However, they’re not just random markings that one of the makeup artists thought might look cool. They actually have meaning. One of his tattoos is even the alchemical symbol for Gray Wolf, which could very well tie into the fact that his animagus is a black dog. While it’s not directly related to wolves (nor is his animagus gray), it still goes to show the lengths to which the film series’ creators went in order to create this imaginary world from the ground up. They could have just as well scribbled any old design that was simply camera-friendly, but they didn’t. Instead, they preferred doing the character (and the series itself) justice.
12. His Family Tree Sports Some Disturbing Edits
It’s safe to say that the Black family wasn’t the nicest wizarding family around. In fact, magical or not, they were more or less rotten to the core, save for Sirius. They were devoted to their kin, but at the same time, were you to soil their family name (that is to say, were you to bring along anyone who wasn’t pure-blooded), consider yourself exempt from all future Black festivities.
Instead of slapping you or any family members on the wrist for marrying a muggle or half-blood, for example, they would write you off completely. In the family, this disownment is displayed in the form of physically burning one’s face off of a tapestry that revealed the family tree. As is the case with most other pure-blooded wizards and witches within Jo Rowling’s Wizarding World, inbreeding is more or less the norm, and if you break tradition, you’re officially cut off. For life. Sirius, however, was disowned for other reasons. He simply disagreed with pretty much everything that they stood for.
11. His Cousin, Andromeda, Is Nymphadora Tonk’s Mom
The Wizarding World is small enough as it is, so wizards and witches are bound to be related to each other — especially if witches and wizards marry among their own kind. So, while it shouldn’t come as much of a surprise that one notable character within the Harry Potter series is related to another notable character, that doesn’t change the fact that it’s still interesting — if not unexpected.
Sirius Black and Nymphadora Tonks don’t seem as though they would have anything in common, aside from their loyalty to the good guys and fondness for Remus Lupin, but it turns out that they’re actually related by blood. His cousin, Andromeda Black, is Tonk’s mom, which would make them first cousins once removed. While it’s not the focus of anyone’s attention in the series, it’s still an interesting enough connection for Potterheads and fans of fictional ancestry alike.
10. He’s The Third “Sirius” In His Family
Even though Sirius Black may seem like a one-of-a-kind sort of character, it turns out that he’s actually one of three within his familial clan. Throughout his thick and deep genealogy, there have actually been two other Sirius Blacks before he was ever even born; though it’s safe to say that this particular Sirius was the best and most interesting of the bunch.
The history books don’t have much to speak of when it comes to Sirius Black I, seeing as he died when he was only eight-years-old. Then again, there isn’t much that can be said of Sirius Black II, either, as Jo Rowling never spent much time detailing what he ever amounted to when he was alive (which was between 1877 and 1952). At the end of the day, though, the Sirius Black who befriended James Potter and became the godfather to Harry Potter may not be the first of his name, but he’s certainly the most interesting — despite what the rest of his family might have anyone believe.
9. In Astronomy, “Sirius” Refers To The Brightest Star
The Astronomy Tower isn’t the only significant bit of astronomy worth mentioning in the Harry Potter series. It turns out that Sirius Black himself has direct ties to astronomy, seeing as his name refers to “the brightest star.” Whether Rowling did this on purpose remains to be seen, though it would certainly make sense if she did.
Among all the other members of his family, Sirius definitely stands out. While they’re all shrouded in darkness (“Black”), he’s the shining outlier standing out among the others. That didn’t do him many favors growing up, as his family made his life a living hell, but it did his legacy quite a bit of justice. Whether or not this connection is as concrete as it might seem, it’s safe to say that it fits regardless.
8. He’s Related To Both The Malfoys And The Weasleys
Even though Sirius himself pointed out to Harry that certain wizards and witches are bound to be related to each other in some way or another, it’s strange to consider the fact that Ron Weasley and Draco Malfoy could possibly be related. Nevertheless, that’s exactly the case.
In fact, tying back to Sirius Black’s dense bloodline, his family tree (were certain names not burned away) goes so far as to not only include the Malfoys, but the Weasleys as well. Arthur Weasley is actually Sirius’ second cousin once removed. On the surface, they may not seem like there’s a single connective tissue to speak of, but when it comes to their values, the two are really one and the same. As for his ties to the Malfoy family, Narcissa Malfoy is a Black by birth, so in turn, Draco and Sirius are related by blood — troubling though that may seem.
7. His Godfather Status Is More Interesting Than It Seems
If you’re at all familiar with Harry Potter, then you’re well aware that Sirius Black is Harry Potter’s godfather. That said, his status as “godfather” is far more interesting than it seems, as there’s more to it than meets the eye.
By Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows‘ epilogue, readers are introduced to Teddy Lupin, Lupin and Tonks’ son. Just like Harry, Teddy lost both of his parents, and just like Harry, he’s presented with a godfather who fought alongside his father. What’s especially interesting is the fact that Sirius is also related by blood to Teddy (he’s his second cousin once removed). So, there is basically a web of ties between Sirius, Harry, and Teddy, and it all revolves around godfathers, creating a perfect circle, albeit one around unfortunate circumstances.
6. He Comes From Quite A Bit Of Money
When readers/audiences first meet Sirius Black, he’s not exactly a sight for sore eyes. Still, that’s not to say that the rags reflect the man. After all, before he landed himself in Azkaban (by no fault of his own, mind you), he had grown up among quite a dapper bunch — albeit a dapper and mostly horrible bunch. So, by the time you see him clean up after Prisoner of Azkaban, it’s no wonder he’s dressed to the nines. He’s merely representing the one part of his bloodline that wasn’t pure ugliness.
What’s more is that ends up leaving all of his leftover wealth (including his home, 12 Grimmauld Place) to his godson, Harry. For this, he has his Uncle Alphard to thank, according to a brief info drop in The Order of the Phoenix. So, what’s the moral of the story? Just because the wanted man who broke out of prison looks worse for wear doesn’t mean his bank account isn’t busting at the seams.
5. His Constellation-Themed Name Is Common In His Family
Even though the Blacks weren’t the most pleasant bunch, they have an interesting pattern in their first names. For the most part, members of the family are named after constellations. As was mentioned earlier, Sirius is named after a constellation, but so were Andromeda and Cassiopeia, among others. While Jo Rowling may have only named other members of the Black family after constellations to create a pattern, the reason she went in this direction with Sirius was simple enough.
Sirius, the star, exists in a constellation that directly relates to Sirius. And what constellation might that be? Canis Major (aka the Great Dog). Seeing as he literally transforms into a dog, this name couldn’t be more fitting. Thankfully, he wasn’t named after the constellation, Puppis, as that one literally translates to “Poop Deck.” His legacy would have, indeed, been quite different…
4. J.K. Rowling’s Mini Adventure Starring Sirius Black and James Potter May Be Lost Forever
Having heard so much about the adventures that Sirius and his crew of fellow Marauders went on when they were younger, it would make sense that some readers might feel a bit robbed. An entire era of Harry’s father and his friends very much exists, in significant detail, though it exists only in the mind of its creator, J.K. Rowling. So, feeling their pain, Rowling did every Potterhead a favor by releasing an incredibly short story depicting a sort of mini-adventure between Sirius and James Potter. It’s brief, it gets right to the point, and it’s mostly just a snippet of action highlighting their rebellious and often reckless lifestyles.
At a mere 800 words, Rowling wrote the story for charity, and it managed to pull in quite a bit of money (roughly $32,000). Sadly, that story has since been stolen, and Rowling herself has asked fans to not purchase it.
3. Black Family Members Don’t Typically Live Long Lives
There is a fair amount of gloom surrounding the Black family. Even though they considered themselves to be the ripest of all other wizarding clans, their life expectancies didn’t seem to share that same mindset. In fact, few members of the Black family even lived long enough to truly appreciate the splendors of life.
Through information from J.K. Rowling herself, it turns out that Sirius Black’s early death should not have come as much of a surprise, especially when you take into account the fact that the average life expectancy in the Black family is around 59 years of age. In fact, if you pay attention to the details on the Black family tapestry, you’ll notice that very few members of the family live past this age. So, is the family cursed? Or did most of them simply “have it coming?”
2. Gary Oldman Wasn’t The First Choice For The Role
Gary Oldman makes a perfect Sirius Black, does he not? Well, as perfect a casting choice as he may be, he wasn’t the first actor considered for the role. Turns out that Robson Green was being eyed for the role, and might have nearly gotten it had director Alfonso Cuarón not stepped in.
Back before Chris Columbus gave up his directorial duties following The Chamber of Secrets, he wanted Green to play the role of the wrongly convicted wizard. Cuarón, however, had someone else in mind (future Gotham Police Commissioner Jim Gordon). So, with no other choice but to hand the final decision over to Cuarón, Columbus’ pick sadly never got the opportunity to show his stuff in the Potterverse. Oldman was ultimately cast, and Green remained in television, mostly, a medium in which he’s crafted an understated but illustrious career.
1. He Is Related By Blood To Delphini Diggory
Even after the Harry Potter novels reached their conclusion, J.K. Rowling was far from finished with the series. When she returned, it was in the form of Harry Potter and the Cursed Child, a play depicting life surrounding Harry Potter and his family, taking place 19 years after The Deathly Hallows. In this story, audiences meet Delphini Diggory, who just so happens to the daughter of (SPOILER) Bellatrix Lestrange and Voldemort. Even though Sirius and Delphini (or Delphi, as she’s referred to in the play) never meet, that’s not to say they aren’t connected.
Bellatrix is his cousin, that would make Sirius and Delphi related by blood, which in turn makes draws him even closer to Voldemort’s genealogy. While a familial connection to the Dark Lord isn’t exactly something most people aspire towards, Rowling swore she had revelations to drop with this new story of hers, and that’s precisely what she ended up doing.