Sirius Black is one of the iconic characters of Harry Potter. Although he’s not the main character and is only actually featured in three books out of seven (or four, if you count his sort-of ghost appearance), he played a driving force in the story. Prisoner of Azkaban, especially, was all about him.
Most of his life, however, took place before the books even began, which means certain things about Sirius are often missed and forgotten. It’s a shame since this character with such a complex family history and charismatic personality is so awesome. So what are some of those lesser-known facts about this iconic character?
10. He Ran Away From Home
It’s a common misconception that Sirius was kicked out of his home when he was still in Hogwarts and therefore had to go and live with James Potter, his best friend at the time. It’s easy to mistake what happened for Sirius having been kicked out since we know his mother especially was truly awful, but he wasn’t actually kicked out at all... He chose to run away at the tender age of 16.
What pushed him to his breaking point is unclear, but it’s safe to assume that the Black family was pretty awful to live with and his mother was most likely abusive. Sirius deserved better.
9. He Was Imprisoned At 22
In the movies, Sirius is played by Gary Oldman, who is a fairly old actor. Since Sirius appears to be in his 40's or even 50's by the time the movies roll around, and he was imprisoned 10 years before Harry started Hogwarts, it might seem to some as if he was in his late 30's when he went through this trauma.
But the truth is, Sirius was only 22 years old when he was thrown in Azkaban. The Marauders went through the war very young, which is a tragedy that isn’t made clear enough. James and Lily died when he was only 22, somehow making his story a lot worse.
8. He Was Super Intelligent
The movies also never quite emphasize just how intelligent Sirius was, meaning this often gets forgotten. For one, he became an Animagus, which is something most people could never do; we know of very few in the series, and they tend to only be the best of the best. Sirius not only managed to do this, but he did it while still in Hogwarts, meaning that his skill as a wizard—even as a student—must have been incredible.
He was also said to have done well in his exams without putting too much effort in, meaning he was just naturally very clever.
7. He Wasn’t Interested In Romance
Even in the books, no canon romantic interest is ever specified for Sirius. When Harry sees him in Snape’s Pensieve, a girl is eyeing him hopefully and he doesn’t even seem to notice. Since he was 15 in this memory, it seems strange that his hormones weren’t driving him crazy. This, in combination with him never having a girlfriend that we know of, has led many fans to speculate he might have been homosexual or asexual.
J.K. Rowling was particularly ambiguous about this when asked on Twitter, too, which is a shame, as some more LGBTQA+ rep in the series would be awesome — even if it is added retroactively.
6. His Animagus Form Was Enormous
Sirius’ Animagus form is a dog, hence the nickname Padfoot. The dog we see in the movies looks like a shaggy crossbreed, a little different from a real dog but definitely recognizable — and around the same size.
In the books, however, his dog form is being described as the size of a bear which makes him instantly more terrifying. No wonder Harry thought he was seeing the Grim at the sight of him, and no wonder Ron was injured having been dragged off by him! Sirius doesn’t do things by halves, so even his Animagus form was monstrous and horrifying. How he managed to slip through the bars at Azkaban in that form, we’ll never know.
5. He Tried To Kill Snape
He wasn’t all good, though. Sirius played a so-called prank on Severus Snape that might have killed him. He led him to the Whomping Willow, sick of his nosiness, where he knew Remus Lupin would have transformed into his wolf form. Not only was this exceedingly dangerous for Snape, who might have died, but it let Remus’ secret out which was extremely disloyal.
Fortunately, James had the sense to stop Snape before he got too close and forced him to turn back, but it’s a horribly clear sign that Sirius wasn’t all sunshine and rainbows. It must have been the family’s influence.
4. …And, Overall, Wasn’t A Very Nice Student
Although the attempted murder was an extreme incident, it wasn’t really an isolated one. Because Sirius is a good guy in the books, it’s easy to think of him fighting the war against Voldemort and think he was a good, pure person; but if you remember Order of the Phoenix and the flashbacks Harry saw through Snape’s Pensieve, you’ll know this wasn’t true.
He was a fairly relentless bully in his youth and although one might argue that Snape deserved it for the blood prejudice and darkness he showed, Sirius was far from noble when it came to joining in with James’ abuse.
3. He Wasn’t The Only Black In His Generation To Be Disowned
Sirius wasn’t the only oddball in the Black family to be burned off the family tree. Bellatrix and Narcissa, his cousins, had a sister named Andromeda who ran off with a Muggle-born, Ted Tonks — and these are the parents of Nymphadora Tonks. It’s unclear if Andromeda was against their blood supremacist ways or simply fell in love with someone she might have considered beneath her, but as she was later helping out with the Order, it’s safe to assume she didn’t hold many of the Black family values.
At least Sirius had some company in being a Black family outcast.
2. He’s Closely Related To The Weasleys
Pure-bloods often have strange relations that might not be expected — even Harry and Voldemort are distantly related! But what you might not have thought of is that Sirius is actually more closely related to the Weasleys than fans realize. Arthur Weasley is his second cousin once removed and considering all of the characters in the series, this is a pretty close relation.
It’s never really mentioned in the books or the movies, but with all of the comprehensive family information J.K. Rowling has provided, it’s really easy to put the pieces together. The rest of the Black family probably aren’t too happy to be so closely related to blood traitors, though.
1. He Really Did Laugh When Peter Escaped
When Sirius was painted as a villain for most of the third book, the story went that when he tracked down Peter and "killed" him in an explosion, he was laughing when the Ministry found him. It’s taken as a sign of his insanity and his evil.
Fans mostly assumed when Sirius was proven innocent that this story was wildly exaggerated and, as Peter had just escaped, he couldn’t have been laughing. J.K. Rowling, however, later confirmed that he was indeed laughing because he had just lost everything, and the noise was far more hysterical than it was joyful.