In Order of the Phoenix, while Umbridge thinks Harry is under veritaserum effect, she asks him where Sirius is hidden.


  • If she stills thinks Sirius is guilty and wants to kill Harry
    • She should have interpreted Sirius using floo powder to get into Gryffindor Common Room as an attempt to kill Harry.
    • Harry should have no idea where Sirius is, so there is no point in asking it.
  • If she thinks Sirius is innocent, and a friend of Harry
    • She should have interpreted Sirius using floo powder to get into Gryffindor Common Room as an attempt to talk with Harry.
    • Harry may know where Sirius is.
    • There is no point in attempting to capture Sirius if he is innocent.

So neither option makes sense to me. Why did she ask that question?

  • 14
    The problem, I think, is with your last bullet point, "there is no point in attempting to capture Sirius if he is innocent." Umbridge is all about the letter of the law, the spirit be damned: in her mind, Sirius needs to go back to Azkaban for the simple reason that he escaped from it. Whether he should have been there in the first place never even enters the equation.
    – Martha
    Commented Jul 22, 2014 at 1:47

4 Answers 4


One word: scapegoat. Even if she knew Sirius was innocent, she and the ministry still kept the hunt for him. Remember that at this time the ministry is steadfastly denying Voldemort's return. Acknowledging Sirius' innocence means admitting those murders were committed by someone else, at the command of You Know Who. In fact it is even likely that Umbridge and the ministry came to the conclusion that Sirius was innocent, and kept up the search for him for purely propagandistic reasons.

  • 4
    Are you saying the ministry was aware that Voldemort had returned? I always though they denied it because they really wanted it to be a lie, so they stupidly though it was a lie.
    – Oriol
    Commented Jul 22, 2014 at 14:03
  • Either that or they actually knew and he was a scapegoat. Either way this covers both alternatives you described.
    – andrepd
    Commented Jul 22, 2014 at 21:58

There's another assumption in this question I'd like to address - you assume that there are only two possibilities, that Sirius is innocent and therefore Harry's friend, or that he is guilty and therefore Harry's enemy.

There is a third possibility, and if Umbridge is even a little bit paranoid then it makes sense to consider - maybe Sirius is guilty, but Harry doesn't know, and is being led along by a Sirius who wants to manipulate him. Or worse - maybe Harry has fallen into the dark arts, and is in league with Sirius.

If we assume Voldemort has not returned, which is the assumption Umbridge is working under, we can assume that Harry's very dangerous belief that he has returned may have been planted in his head, by the one person who would want Harry to believe anything but 'the truth' that Sirius killed his parents - Sirius himself.

  • +1 Good point. I didn't consider that if Sirius was guilty, he could change his mind and decide to manipulate Harry instead of killing him. Pretty reasonable Umbridge thought that.
    – Oriol
    Commented Aug 20, 2014 at 16:06

I think your assumptions are flawed - Umbridge has no reason to think Harry doesn't know where Sirius is - he is after all his rightful Godfather. So she has every reason to think he'd have a clue as to where he's hiding.

Your other assumption, that Umbridge is acting in Harry's best interests, is also flawed. She is show throughout the book to have more interest in keeping th order of the law than in the best interests of the student, and at best she has in mind her own 'best interests' that don't always (Read: Never) intersect with what would actually be good for the student body.

Plus, knowledge of where Sirius is would be invaluable to a Ministry that has been hunting him down, which would put her in very good standing with them.

In short, she has no reason to think Harry is clueless, and no reason to treat him kindly in the first place, but every reason to try to get this information out of him to get in good with the Ministry.


Well Umbridge's character later shows how she doesn't really care about what is right and wrong, when she helps to try and eliminate "Mudbloods." Therefore even if she knows Sirius is innocent, she wouldn't care because the rest of the wizarding world believes that he is guilty. So if she could somehow get Sirius and turn him in, it would help her ranks at the Ministry and also turn her into a kind of "hero."

  • In addition, it would help Fudge, who was under some pressure as well, if the escaped prisoner was caught on his watch.
    – Adam V
    Commented Jul 22, 2014 at 23:33

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