At the end of the film Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, after Hagrid returns from Azkaban and Harry gives him a hug, Dumbledore gives him a standing ovation, and soon enough most of the entire hall is up and applauding.

Why is this?

The only thing Hagrid did that year was nearly get Harry and Ron killed by his pet spider, and all that did was confirm what Harry already knew: that Hagrid must have been innocent, so nothing was really gained from his advice to follow the spiders. And on top of all that, most of the students don't really seem to have any kind of relationship with Hagrid, especially not of the level Harry and Co do. So I'm confused as to why everyone decided to cheer for Hagrid's return.

What am I missing?

  • 21
    Because he's Hagrid, and therefore awesome
    – Doctor Two
    Commented Jul 7, 2017 at 17:42
  • 7
    Because regardless of their relationship with him, I'm sure that the studentry are glad that he's been exonerated and released.
    – Valorum
    Commented Jul 7, 2017 at 17:50
  • 11
    @DCOPTimDowd - If someone at your work was released without charge from prison, you'd probably have a brief company announcement to explain why they're coming back (and to explain that they're not a criminal). At the end of that meeting, it's likely that you'd get a round of applause for that person having endured such an ordeal and come through it.
    – Valorum
    Commented Jul 7, 2017 at 18:34
  • 10
    Because they were determined to create the most cringeworthy ending ever in the history of cinema? Commented Jul 7, 2017 at 18:41
  • 6
    Because they wanted to make you clap too. Are you saying that you were not clapping? I was.
    – Bojan
    Commented Jul 7, 2017 at 20:56

3 Answers 3


Several reasons.

Here are some possible reasons any given student might have had to give Hagrid the ovation he got:

1) Because Dumbledore did. When the Headmaster claps, it's considered rude (or even insulting) not to do the same.

2) Because they like him. It's unclear what sort of relationship Hagrid might have with other students, but if I remember correctly, some students are shown to be more enthusiastic in this scene than others-- namely, many of the Gryffindors appear pretty thrilled, while many Slytherins are unfazed.

3) Because one of Hogwarts' own has been exonerated. Even students who had no particular attachment to Hagrid might have recognized that it looks bad on the school to have a staff member in Azkaban; his release reflects positively on the school's reputation.

4) Because being in Azkaban sucks. This might be a bit of a stretch, but it's customary (at least in America) to applaud someone coming out of an ordeal. You see this whenever someone makes an appearance for the first time after a traumatic event, or when an injured player gets on his feet after an in-game injury-- even if it's only to leave the field, and even if he needs help doing so.

  • 5
    I think it's most likely to be #3 but you have my +1 for offering a range of sensible suggestions.
    – Valorum
    Commented Jul 7, 2017 at 18:33
  • 2
    I think it's a 4 and 1 combo. Dumbledore knows it sucked and made sure they clapped. But it could actually be ALL of these at one time. +1 Commented Jul 7, 2017 at 21:59
  • 1
    Probably it's cultural and it depends on where one is from, but the clap seemed just natural for me (#4 reason): also here in Italy when a known member of a community, after recovering from a bad accident, shows up at a meeting where many members have gathered all people gathered there may clap their hands. It's a sort of "collective welcome-back hug" where "single hugging" might be inopportune or impractical. Commented Jul 9, 2017 at 7:43
  • 1
    @DCOPTimDowd In-universe, no. I can't recall any instances of someone being admonished for not clapping along with Dumbledore (or any other Headmaster/mistress). Out of universe-- well I can't find any sources, but it's a custom. (A sort-of related scene from the American show The West Wing can be found here, where the President admonishes a woman for sitting while he addresses her group.) Commented Jul 11, 2017 at 16:11
  • 1
    @DCOPTimDowd - Possibly related example: in the US, when the President makes his annual State of the Union address, many of the points where there are applause are strictly divided; often the politicians of the President's party will give a standing ovation, while the members of the opposing party will either clap politely, or not at all. So, if you don't want to stand in direct opposition to the Headmaster....
    – RDFozz
    Commented Sep 14, 2018 at 16:06

When Professor Moody is introduced at Hogwarts in Goblet of Fire we are told:

It was usual for new staff members to be greeted with applause

Indeed, when Hagrid was appointed as the teacher for Care of Magical Creatures in Prisoner of Azkaban he received a nice amount of applause:

Harry, Ron, and Hermione stared at one another, stunned.Then they joined in with the applause, which was tumultuous at the Gryffindor table in particular.

It thus doesn't seem odd that he would receive applause when he returned from Azkaban in Chamber of Secrets.


It makes sense for Hagrid to be distant considering he was expelled from the school. Dumbledore, understanding Hagrid's deep love and passion for the school, made him gamekeeper.

I believe the moment the students applaud is a show of appreciation for someone who goes above and beyond for the school, but remains largely unseen and unspoken.

Also I'm pretty sure Hagrid was housed in Gryffindor so it wouldn't make sense for Malfoy to applaud with his family connection. However, the rest of Slytherin applaud because they do not have that connection.

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