One thing that I've often gotten frustrated about in the Harry Potter movies is how simple it would be to petrify people in order to bring them to justice.

Why is the petrifying curse so rarely used despite being so handy? Especially in Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, where Pettigrew's "still being alive situation" could have saved Sirius's life and made him a free man.

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    @Mithrandir He's probably asking about the Full Body-Bind Curse, Petrificus Totalus. – Anthony Grist Jan 16 '17 at 21:50
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    @AnthonyGrist Ah, I was thinking like the Basilisk :P – Mithical Jan 16 '17 at 21:50
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    @Mithrandir Right, my initial reaction having just read the question title was "Well, the basilisk is dead, and it would be horrendously irresponsible (even by Hogwarts standards) to do so anyway." – Anthony Grist Jan 16 '17 at 21:51
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    @Paperplane They thought that two fully qualified wizards (Sirius and Lupin) plus Harry and Hermione were capable of keeping Peter under control, without the need to petrify him (which would have made him considerably harder to extract from the Shrieking Shack and Whomping Willow). They just didn't factor in Lupin forgetting to take his Wolfbane Potion and transforming once they reached the Hogwarts grounds. – Anthony Grist Jan 16 '17 at 22:10
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    Besides, the preferred form of subduing someone (for whatever reason) is the Stunning Spell. The advantage of this is that it renders a person unconscious, as opposed to the Full Body-Bind, which might allow someone skilled at non-verbal or wandless magic to cast a spell, as well as allowing the person thus subdued to see and hear normally, and thus perceive things that their captors might not want them to. – Adamant Jan 16 '17 at 23:17

In the books they chain him to Lupin and Ron:

Black conjured heavy manacles from thin air; soon Pettigrew was upright again, left arm chained to Lupin's right, right arm to Ron's left.

Harry Potter and The Prisoner of Azkhaban, chapter 19

He also had no wand and there were two adult wizards + Ron, Harry and Hermione to constrain Peter if necessary.

All in all - they considered it safe just to chain Peter and let him walk instead of using some kind of immobilizing charm.

The events just turned ugly when Lupin transformed which allowed Peter to grab his wand and flee.

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    It was utterly thoughtless of them to think that chains would have any effect. Sirius and Lupin both have intimate knowledge of how Metamorphmagi work (Sirius is one, ferchrissakes), and they know that a wand is not needed. Transforming and trying to escape as a rat was the obvious thing for Pettigrew to do, and the others were complete idiots for not considering this. But then, plot must advance… – Janus Bahs Jacquet Jun 10 '17 at 10:37
  • @JanusBahsJacquet Animagi, not Metamorphmagi. – cst1992 Sep 16 '17 at 19:43
  • @cst1992 Er, yes. Quite. Odd brain fart, that. – Janus Bahs Jacquet Sep 16 '17 at 19:44

There isn't a specific spell to petrify someone. In the previous films the people who were petrified were done so by the Basilisk and had to be cured by a potion from mandrakes.

There are spells such as Petrificus Totalus which is a body-bind curse.

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    Petrificus Totalus. That's what OP meant. – TGar Jun 10 '17 at 8:29

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