My recollection is that, in the Prisoner of Azkaban movie, Harry, Hermione, and Ron see Buckbeak being executed, before

travelling back in time to prevent it.

However, this didn't happen in the book, and the idea that they saw something that was later changed to never have happened is inconsistent with other scenes, e.g., Hermione being hit by a stone that it turns out was thrown by her future self, or the whole business with the Patronus.

So did Harry, Hermione, and Ron really see Buckbeak executed in the movie? If so, how can that scene be reconciled with the other ones?

  • 2
    Cursed Child is stupid in terms of time travel actually Commented May 26, 2017 at 16:41
  • But only in the movies, not the books I see. The books are largely self consistent Commented May 26, 2017 at 16:45
  • voted to close because the question is based on an incorrect premise
    – NKCampbell
    Commented May 26, 2017 at 17:44
  • 7
    @NKCampbell I always assumed that the correct course of action in case of incorrect premise in the question was to correct the premise in an answer. Commented May 26, 2017 at 17:46
  • You might want to look at our [harry-potter] + [time-travel] questions, there may be something you will find even more helpful. Commented May 26, 2017 at 17:47

3 Answers 3


The film script indicates that not only do we (the audience) not see the execution, but that the trio can't see it either. Their eye-line was obscured by a stand of trees.

The crows SHRIEK excitedly and the Executioner separates from the others, disappears behind



All goes very still. The wind loses its voice...


Sunlight kicks off the axe as it rises over the trees,



The ax hangs seemingly forever, etched against the sky, then drops from sight. A SICKENING CHOP! fouls the breeze and Ron and Harry stare toward the trees in numb disbelief.

enter image description here

In the book, Hermione. Ron and Harry exit the scene (stage left) and are quite far away when the execution takes place. They hear it but they don't see it.

They walked forwards; Harry, like Hermione, was trying not to listen to the rumble of voices behind them. Ron stopped again.
‘I can’t hold him – Scabbers, shut up, everyone’ll hear us –’
The rat was squealing wildly, but not loudly enough to cover up the sounds drifting from Hagrid’s garden. There was a jumble of indistinct male voices, a silence and then, without warning, the unmistakeable swish and thud of an axe. Hermione swayed on the spot.
‘They did it!’ she whispered to Harry. ‘I d-don’t believe it – they did it!’

Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban - CHAPTER SIXTEEN – Professor Trelawney’s Prediction

  • Great work getting the script. I watched the thing and ur ryt. Commented May 27, 2017 at 9:39
  • @ThePoltergeist - Cheers. I felt that this question deserved a more definitive answer. Simply looking at the film doesn't tell you what the characters can see
    – Valorum
    Commented May 27, 2017 at 9:53

If I remember correctly, they did not see Buckbeak executed, in the book or in the movie. They were watching from the top of a hill, so they couldn't see clearly; what they actually saw was the executioner angrily splitting a pumpkin in two after finding Buckbeak missing. Of course, they didn't know that at the time.

EDIT: I just rewatched the scene on my laptop. All we see is the trio at the top of the hill, then the executioner walks forward, then a close-up of him raising and lowering his axe. Then, we see a wider shot of the actual "execution", but it's blurry and partly obscured by a tree, so we don't actually see Buckbeak killed. Unfortunately, I can't find a video online. Feel free to edit if you find one.

  • 1
    This is what I thought I remembered as well. From where they were they couldn't see Buckbeak, only the axe swinging down, and they drew their conclusions from that.
    – Mwr247
    Commented May 26, 2017 at 16:47
  • In the book, they decide not to watch and that's that. In the movie, I am not so sure. I think they watch Buckbeak die Commented May 26, 2017 at 16:51
  • 2
    @ThePoltergeist But we the viewer see from their perspective as the axe swings down, where Buckbeak is presumably behind a pile of pumpkins, completely obscured.
    – Mwr247
    Commented May 26, 2017 at 16:52
  • 1
    Am not sure I remember that. But If that is the case, the question is baseless Commented May 26, 2017 at 16:59
  • I rewatched the scene and have edited to add a bit more detail. Commented May 26, 2017 at 17:20

If you rewatch the first scene of buckbeak being executed you can see it’s identical to the second scene when hermione and Harry time travel. Albus is telling the executioner his services are no longer needed. Albus and Hagrid head into hagrid’s hut for a nice large brandy and a crow lands on Fudge’s hat. The executioner merely chops a pumpkin out of anger, for he can’t kill the innocent animal, the executioner being a death eater and all. Harry and Hermione go on to avoid werewolf lupin where buckbeak alive and well saves them from the werewolf, poor lupin. And Harry goes on to form a corporeal patronous technically twice in his mind, at a very young age, and they fly off on buckbeak after breaking Sirius from his confines in hogwarts. So technically buckbeak never dies, it would probably work like back to the future, if buckbeak did originally die, nobody would remember it that way anyways because of Hermione and Harry’s successful rescue of buckbeak and Sirius through time travel. Remember what Doc was always saying to Marty in Back to the Future...you’re not thinking 4th dimensionally. So the answer is, no, nobody ever saw buckbeak executed, because he never was.

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