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In Goblet of Fire, during the opening feast, only Hagrid and Dumbledore clap for Moody when he is announced as the new Defense Against Dark Arts teacher.

It was usual for new staff members to be greeted with applause, but none of the staff or students clapped except for Dumbledore and Hagrid.... Everyone else seemed too transfixed by Moody's bizarre appearance to do more than stare at him.
Goblet of Fire, chapter 12

How come even the more experienced teachers like McGonagall and Flitwick didn't clap for Moody? Surely they knew of his legendary reputation? And surely McGonagall was too dignified to stare at a new teacher, regardless​ of his appearance, knowing that it may be impolite? A possible explanation is that they were taken by surprise, but even then, not clapping is odd for them. Plus, isn't it likely that Dumbledore informed them about the new appointment? Could someone please give me an in-universe explanation for this?

  • I think it just highlights just how unusual hios appearance was and just how suprised they were. Dumbledore is, well, Dumbledore, and Hagrid has never given much for appearances, anyways. – Polygnome Jul 10 '17 at 7:47
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    Everyone else seemed too transfixed by Moody's bizarre appearance to do more than stare at him. – Hugh Jul 10 '17 at 7:49
  • Thanks to whoever put my post right! How is it done, anyway? – Harry Weasley Jul 10 '17 at 7:59
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    There's an edit link under your question, above the comments :). Welcome! You may find the tour useful, as well as How to Ask. ^_^ – Mithrandir Jul 10 '17 at 8:03
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The best we can get is what was already stated in the question:

Everyone else seemed too transfixed by Moody's bizarre appearance to do more than stare at him.
Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, chapter 12

It's possible that the staff does not know of new appointments; consider Snape's reaction to Lupin in The Prisoner of Azkaban - it's not a given that all the staff know of new appointments. And even if they did, they could also be taken off guard by his appearance even if they were expecting it. Even if they knew that he was going to be the teacher, there's nothing to say that they met him before. So we'll have to go with what's written: they were shocked by his appearance.

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    That, @Mithrandir , partly explains the thing, but it's still hard to see why McGonagall didn't clap! – Harry Weasley Jul 10 '17 at 8:21
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    Well, he did burst into the Hall in the middle of the announcement, interrupting Dumbledore, and generally causing a giant distraction. I guess that she's as taken off guard as everybody else. – Mithrandir Jul 10 '17 at 8:27
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    Well, @Mithrandir , this seems to be the most reasonable answer I've seen! Wish I could upvote it, but I've got only 11 reputation points. Thanks! – Harry Weasley Jul 10 '17 at 8:37
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    Backing up the assertion about the staff not knowing of new appointments, the DADA position was notoriously hard to fill, and took longer every year to find a new professor. Most years, it was left to someone Dumbledore used a personal favor to fill. For example, remember in Half Blood Prince, it took until about a week before the semester started for him to convince Slughorn to take the position of Potions Professor. – krillgar Jul 10 '17 at 14:25
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    @HarryWeasley You have enough reputation for upvotes now I think. :) – Bellatrix Jul 10 '17 at 18:03
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Moody is considered having a few loose screws after his long career as an auror, as in seeing even the most innocent objects as traps set by dark wizards to take him out. Has quite a reputation, just consider how the Weasleys talk about him:

“Mad-Eye Moody?” said George thoughtfully, spreading marmalade on his toast. “Isn’t he that nutter—” “Your father thinks very highly of Mad-Eye Moody,” said Mrs. Weasley sternly. “Yeah, well, Dad collects plugs, doesn’t he?” said Fred quietly as Mrs. Weasley left the room. “Birds of a feather…” “Moody was a great wizard in his time,” said Bill. ~Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire - The Triwizard Tournament

...so it might be McGonagall wasn't that thrilled to have him as a teacher, considering it one of the more crazy ideas of the headmaster. Also it's entirely possible that secretive and perpetually busy Dumbledore hasn't shared the name of the new teacher, just that he found one, so Minerva may have been taken by surprise and was just considering the implications of Dumbledore setting a paranoid ex-auror nicknamed Mad-Eye loose on the kids.

Besides, Moody's appearance is unusual and frightening and his entrance was impressive, so (except for Dumbledore who invited him and for Hagrid, who remains unfazed faced with dragons and three-headed dogs) it's reasonable that others needed time to collect their wits.

The kids seemed to be especially impressed by Moody's scars and his fake eye - after all, they are living in a society where most things can be healed and mended easily, there are not even wizards with a missing tooth or such, so to see a man marred by dark curses can be very shocking:

“What happened to him?” Hermione whispered. “What happened to his face?” ~Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire - The Triwizard Tournament

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    Doesn't your answer, @R. Skeeter , point to the fact that most people of the older generation respected Moody? Plus, McGonagall is too dignified to not clap, however odd the new hire looked. – Harry Weasley Jul 10 '17 at 8:15
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    @HarryWeasley teaching your kids good manners so they wouldn't badmouth ppl isnt the same as respecting and trusting those people. In this case the weasleys respected the wizard Moody was in his time. all in all Moody doesn't get much character development in the fouth book, but we know when 'professor Moody' transfigured, tortured and publicly shamed Draco no one got suspicious, which can say a lot about what ppl thought of 'mad eye Moody' – user68762 Jul 10 '17 at 13:14
  • @HarryWeasley, perhaps she didn't want to encourage the bad manners of bursting in and interrupting Dumbledore. Or perhaps she was too transfixed by Moody's bizarre appearance to do more than stare at him. – Wildcard Jul 10 '17 at 20:10
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That was Moody's entry to the great hall. He was sniffing the food that all others teachers were eating. I am sure that can surprise anyone who don't know him.

The stranger sat down, shook his mane of dark gray hair out of his face, pulled a plate of sausages toward him, raised it to what was left of his nose, and sniffed it. He then took a small knife out of his pocket, speared a sausage on the end of it, and began to eat.

and then stories like such used to appear in Daily Prophet

Mr. Weasley appears to have rushed to the aid of “Mad-Eye” Moody, the aged ex-Auror who retired from the Ministry when no longer able to tell the difference between a handshake and attempted murder. Unsurprisingly, Mr. Weasley found, upon arrival at Mr. Moody’s heavily guarded house, that Mr. Moody had once again raised a false alarm.

and that's what common people think about him

“Yeah, probably,” said Ron. “But Dumbledore’s always done things his way, hasn’t he, and Moody’s been getting in trouble for years, I reckon. Attacks first and asks questions later — look at his dustbins.

Even foreigners don't have nice views about him

“We all know Professor Moody considers the morning wasted if he hasn’t discovered six plots to murder him before lunchtime,” said Karkaroff loudly.

So, I don't think many people will clap for a guy with such reputation lately.

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    That, @Dheeraj Kumar , doesn't properly explain why the teachers, who knew of Moody's good reputation, didn't clap for him. – Harry Weasley Jul 10 '17 at 8:18
  • see it like this that a reputed police officer some 20 years ago is lately in trouble for alleged fake-encounters. Other teachers weren't as insightful as Dumbledore. Most of them highly relied on Daily Prophet for their news. And with reporters like Reeta Skeeter, they were being fed totally wrong reputation of Moody. – Dheeraj Kumar Jul 10 '17 at 8:25
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    @DheerajKumar what's wrong wirh5 Rita Skeeter's reports? They are completely objective :-) – user68762 Jul 10 '17 at 13:21
  • @R.Skeeter: yeah, completely objective and far from reality. :-P – Dheeraj Kumar Jul 10 '17 at 13:45
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    @Bellatrix dear Bella, let's not concern ourselves with the lesser minds among the masses... – user68762 Jul 11 '17 at 16:45
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Only Hagrid and Dumbledore knew him enough to overcome his bizarre appearance. Only they knew him from the Order of Phoenix. Others can only see how bizarre he is and don't know how awesome his skills are.

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    Was Hagrid in the Order of the Phoenix? I'm not too sure. – F1Krazy Jul 10 '17 at 12:32
  • Is there any evidence that McGonagall or other professors weren't aware of his appearance? – Edlothiad Jul 10 '17 at 12:32
  • @F1Krazy I think he was. He got baby harry out of the wreck in godric hollow. Dumbledore wouldn't have assigned him such a work if he wasn't from the order. – aniztar Jul 10 '17 at 12:35
  • @Edlothiad Among the other professors only McGonagall and Snape were in the order. Snape is too sulky to clap. I actually would have expected McGonagall to clap. Not sure why, now that you mention. – aniztar Jul 10 '17 at 12:38
  • Maybe consider looking into why McGonagall hand't clapped. That would be an interesting addition. – Edlothiad Jul 10 '17 at 12:39

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