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Harry Potter: How The Prisoner Of Azkaban Foreshadows Dumbledore's Death

Throughout the "Harry Potter" novels, series author Joanne Rowling loves herself a bit of foreshadowing — and as it turns out, she forecasted the death of Albus Dumbledore (played in the films by Michael Gambon) as early as the third movie and book, "Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban."

Dumbledore doesn't die until "Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince," the sixth book and film, but a tiny little moment in "Prisoner of Azkaban" tells us that Dumbledore will meet an untimely end before other major characters in this specific scene. This Reddit thread breaks down the Christmas dinner that directly foreshadows Dumbledore's death, and it all comes back to a seemingly flimsy prediction made by Hogwarts' Divination teacher, Professor Trelawney (Emma Thompson).

As u/xAnuq posted, "So we all know Dumbledore dies in the sixth movie. But there are hints that his death was already spoiled in the third movie. There is a christmas dinner with various people involved. Finally Sibyll Trelawny joins the party. Before she sits down she is frightened because there are already 12 people sitting at the table and 13 people sitting at the same table brings misery. She does not sit down and [mentions] that the first of those 13 persons to stand up would die."

They continued, "In order to calm her, Dumbledore stands up and leaves the table. But we later get to know that Ron's rat was just Peter [Pettigrew] who [transformed] himself. Knowing that Ron carried his rat in his pocket most of the time, that'd mean there were already 13 people at the table. As Dumbledore leaves as the first of those 13 people, his fate was sealed."

The film version of Prisoner of Azkaban has another hint about Dumbledore's demise

Elsewhere on the thread, another enterprising Redditor pointed out that in the movie version of "Prisoner of Azkaban," there's actually a second hint about Dumbledore's eventual death. Throughout the book and movie, Harry feels the presence of Azkaban's dementors — joy-stealing creatures who guard the wizarding prison — more strongly than most, thanks to his traumatic past. u/sznelly31 made a connection between the aftermath of a scene where Harry falls from his broom during a Quidditch match and the fact that Dumbledore later dies at the top of Hogwarts' Astronomy Tower. 

"There IS a reference to Dumbledore's death in the third movie that is NOT a scene in the book!" they wrote. "After the quidditch scene, when Harry gets chased around the pitch by the dementors and eventually falls off his broom, there's a scene in the hospital wing. The screen is black because Harry's still passed out, but we can hear Ron and Fred/George's voices."

In the scene, Harry's best friend Ron Weasley (Rupert Grint) points out, "Looks a bit peaky, doesn't he?" His brother, Fred Weasley (James Phelps), replies, "Peaky? What d'you expect him to look like? He fell fifty feet," and his twin George (Oliver Phelps) adds, "Yeah, c'mon, Ron. We'll walk you off the Astronomy Tower and see how you come out looking." Dumbledore eventually dies atop that tower and falls to the ground in the process.

What happens to Dumbledore, specifically?

What happens to Dumbledore at the top of that Astronomy Tower, precisely? After he and Harry return from hunting for one of Voldemort's (Ralph Fiennes) Horcruxes — a piece of the Dark Lord's soul split off and contained in a magical artifact — Dumbledore is severely weakened, and the two are confronted with the Death Eaters' Dark Mark hanging above the wizarding school. They make their way to the top of the tower only to find several Death Eaters as well as the school's potions master, Severus Snape (the late Alan Rickman), with whom Dumbledore quietly pleads. Rather than letting Draco Malfoy (Tom Felton) kill the headmaster on Voldemort's orders, Snape does the deed instead, casting the Killing Curse as the wizened old wizard falls from the tower... and Harry watches helplessly.

Of course, it turns out that Dumbledore and Snape were quietly working together and that Dumbledore was terminally ill, but in the moment, it's one of the franchise's most upsetting moments. Apparently, both Rowling and the filmmakers felt like they could plant the seeds for this tragic event, and as a result, you can spot now-conspicuous hints about Dumbledore's demise as early as "Prisoner of Azkaban."