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Draco and Lucius get super angry and over dramatic about Buckbeak hurting Draco’s arm and tried to get Hagrid fired and Buckbeak killed as punishment in Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban. They did nothing about Mad-Eye Moody (Barty Crouch Jr.) transfiguring Draco into a ferret as a punishment for being rude to Harry in Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire. I understand that they might be in on the plan or scared of Mad-Eye (the real one) but is there a canonical reason for the different reactions to these events?

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    Two theories: either they were more afraid of Moody than they were of Hagrid, or Lucius knew of Crouch Jr.'s plan and didn't want to interfere with it. No idea which one it actually was, though. – DaaaahWhoosh Aug 26 at 20:05
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    @DaaaahWhoosh Theory Three: Given the hidden room of dark objects under his dining room (as per The Chamber of Secrets), giving "Mad-Eye" Moody an excuse to visit Malfoy Manor to "discuss Draco's behaviour and suitable punishments" might be inadvisable – Chronocidal Aug 27 at 8:52
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    I've edited this so the title is a bit more concise and the body wasn't pretty much all one long sentence. Feel free to roll back if you disagree with my changes however. – TheLethalCarrot Aug 27 at 10:09
  • Unlike Hagrid, Moody was a powerful person with worldwide recognition. It was easy for Malfoys to act against Hagrid. Had it been Moody, Malfoys themselves might find themselves in trouble for possession of dark artifacts and so. – Captain Cold Aug 29 at 5:31
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Because Draco didn't tell him.

Draco threatened to tell Lucius, to which Moody replied:

"Oh yeah?" said Moody quietly, limping forward a few steps, the dull clunk of his wooden leg echoing around the hall. "Well, I know your father of old, boy... You tell him Moody's keeping a close eye on his son... you tell him that from me..."

-Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, Chapter 13: Mad-Eye Moody

Remember, in the book, only Voldemort (and maybe Wormtail) knows who Moody really is, so the Malfoys would have every right to be a bit nervous that Draco (and therefore Lucius) had drawn the attention of one of the greatest Aurors. In this case, it seems like Draco just kept his mouth shut not to further irritate Moody and put his father into danger.

Moody is effectively saying "Yeah... Go ahead and tell him. Also be sure to tell him that it was me who did it. I know who you are and I know who he is... and what he was. Go ahead and pick a fight with me."

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    Alternately, he might have told his father and his father didn't choose to do anything at the time. Moody has enough of a reputation that even Lucius would have been hesitant to go up against him. – Allan Mills Aug 26 at 22:46
  • Ok but what if Lucius was in on the plan but was still angry about transfiguration being used on his child? – KansasMonkey Aug 27 at 1:03
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    We know Lucius wasn't in on the plan because of the scene in the cemetery – NKCampbell Aug 27 at 2:16
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    @KansasMonkey as far as all the death eaters knew, Lucius had given up on Voldemort, so they couldn't trust him with knowing the plan. The only death eaters who did were Wormtail and Crouch Jr. – marcellothearcane Aug 27 at 4:43
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    @marcellothearcane Precisely. This was also the stated reason for Lucius palming off the diary, contrary to his orders, because he never expected to be receiving any further commands from his (then) former master. – DoctorPenguin Aug 27 at 10:26
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NKCampbell's answer already addresses the second event, but doesn't touch on the first:

Why did Draco and Lucius get super angry and over dramatic about Buckbeak hurting Draco’s arm and tried to get Hagrid fired and Buckbeak killed as punishment

Hagrid is a half-giant. It's unsurprising that Lucius should seize on any excuse to get him fired.

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    Plus he's an easier target. Malfoy Snr wouldn't waste his reputation on a losing battle. – Möoz Aug 27 at 10:02
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    You'd think that Lucius would also jump at the chance to get an Auror fired as well though considering who he is... – TheLethalCarrot Aug 27 at 10:11
  • @TheLethalCarrot But Moody was there as a favor from Dumbledore and Lucius would not be all that well liked in the school's board after his actions in book 2. – ratchet freak Aug 27 at 12:25
  • @TheLethalCarrot, ratchet freak, the first sentence makes explicit the context of this answer. Lucius didn't respond to an event he never found out about, whether or not he would want or be able to get Moody fired is 100% irrelevant. – Peter Taylor Aug 27 at 12:39
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    pointing out Malfoy's racism re: Hagrid - I like it. You've got my upvote for adding a useful character point that does address part of the question asked – NKCampbell Aug 27 at 13:04
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Goblet of Fire was a pretty poor time for petty political power plays.

In The Chamber of Secrets, Lucius Malfoy makes a serious attempt to remove Dumbledore from Hogwarts, and it backfires pretty spectacularly. Dumbledore remained in power, Lucius lost his seat on the Board of Governors (and his house elf!), Lucius is tagged by Dumbledore as possessing a powerful artifact of Voldemort's (even if he can't prove it), a powerful Slytherin secret in Hogwarts is destroyed, a powerful Gryffindor secret is found, etc, etc.

All in all, things went poorly.

Hagrid, as Lucius's scapegoat of choice, played a role (albeit a small one) in this disaster. So when an opportunity for petty revenge fell in Lucius's lap, he seized it. It's not much, but it was a way for Lucius to thumb his nose at Dumbledore, so he took it.

Sirius's escape didn't bother him. I don't know if Lucius knew that Sirius was innocent, but either way there was no particular reason to expect that his target was Draco, who is really the only person at Hogwarts that Lucius cares to protect from harm. The dementors were equally unlikely to bother Draco. So Lucius was free to pursue his petty revenge without worry.

The atmosphere around The Goblet of Fire was very different.

First off, the presence of the Triwizard Tournament meant that Hogwarts was under international scrutiny. High levels of scrutiny are not a good atmosphere for petty tricks.

Furthermore, Moody's appearance at all was a power play of Dumbledore's own. You don't hire a PTSD-ridden paranoid retired special forces agent to teach high school students because you think it will give the students a nice educational year. Dumbledore bringing Moody on campus was a sign that Dumbledore was expecting trouble. When Dumbledore is expecting trouble is not a good time to be causing trouble.

Finally, the signs of Voldemort's return were all over the place. The Dark Mark at the World Cup and the strengthening of the Dark Mark on his arm would have signaled to Lucius that Voldemort was preparing a play of his own.

All in all, this seemed like an excellent year to keep your head down and not make any waves.

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    Generally this is a good answer, but you have too much common sense in the paragraph about moody as a teacher. Hiring questionable (for the readers) teachers was just how dumbledore (or maybe the wizard world) roled. Common sense has little place in how the HP Universe works. – Kami Kaze Aug 29 at 10:39
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    @KamiKaze The sentiment this comment expresses is criminally underrated. Things don't make sense in HP because they are written poorly, no other explanation needed. – GreySage Aug 29 at 22:54
  • It's true that Dumbledore isn't exactly famous for his rational hiring practice. But I'd swear that there was a line in the book referencing Moody's presence as a sign that Dumbledore was worried. – Arcanist Lupus Aug 30 at 0:07
  • @GreySage Written poorly in the sense of internal logic and world building for sure. Arcanist I do not challenge the fact, that this might be his reason. I do not remember (not an HP-expert) if there were critical voices about Moody as a teacher beforehand. For me it seemed more like that it will just be another strange teacher for the dark arts. – Kami Kaze Aug 30 at 7:06
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If you look at the different situations. There is a massive difference in control, and actual danger. To the point where, even if he did talk to his father about being turned into a ferret. I seriously doubt Moody would've gotten more than a warning.

The transfiguring into a ferret is a spell used by the teacher of the Dark Arts as punishment. Yes it might've been unorthodox but at least it was a controlled and conscious decision with minimal risk.

The situation with Buckbeak is different. This is a teacher who let a kid get hurt whilst giving his first class. And if you look at how it happened it's not actually that weird that Lucius/Malfoy wanted to get him fired.

(Emphasis mine) It happened in a flash of steely talons; Malfoy let out a high pitched scream and next moment, Hagrid was wrestling Buckbeak back into his collar as he strained to get at Malfoy, who lay curled in the grass, blood blossoming over his robes.

I’m dying!’ Malfoy yelled, as the class panicked. ‘I’m dying, look at me! It’s killed me!’

‘Yer not dyin’!’ said Hagrid, who had gone very white.

‘Someone help me – gotta get him outta here –’ Hermione ran to open the gate while Hagrid lifted Malfoy easily. As they passed, Harry saw that there was a long, deep gash in Malfoy’s arm; blood splattered the grass and Hagrid ran with him, up the slope towards the castle.

Very shaken, the Care of Magical Creatures class followed at a walk. The Slytherins were all shouting about Hagrid. ‘They should sack him straight away!’ said Pansy Parkinson, who was in tears.

Honestly while the situation ended up being reasonably fine, it was just a gash on his arm. But if that was a hit on his neck or if Hagrid wouldn't be able to control Buckbeak. Malfoy could've been seriously maimed or dead. That's more than enough leverage to actually try and get Hagrid fired and Buckbeak killed.

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    Sounds like pro-Slytherin propaganda :) – Möoz Aug 27 at 10:03
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    @Möoz not really, no, unless you buy very much into pro-Hagrid propaganda. As far as I remember, even Harry and Ron later on realize Hagrid was a disaster as a teacher, and while Hogwart's is a curiously do-or-die place compared to general Muggle schools, teachers are, by and large, expected to not to put pupils in mortal danger, at least, not unintentionally. – Gnudiff Aug 27 at 12:31
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    @Gnudiff Professor Hagrid provided clear, concise safety instructions for the pupils to follow (which is more than Professor Snape is ever shown giving!) Draco ignored these, and rescued by Hagrid's quick actions. This unfortunately had a negative impact on his confidence, and thus on his teaching. Similarly, in a UK Chemistry class (about pigments, dyes, and mordents) we made a mononitrotoluene compound. We were very carefully drilled on procedure, to ensure that no one accidentally made trinitrotoluene instead, and horsing about like Draco would have meant being kicked out of the class. – Chronocidal Aug 27 at 15:13
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    @Chronocidal Are you serious? What year was that? If you really did have a teacher that just trusted a bunch of 13-year-olds to not make TNT, that would indeed justify a firing. Hagrid was wildly irresponsible for putting a bunch of kids in a situation where they could be killed, and "but they'll be safe if they just listen to instructions" is not much of a defense when we're talking about 13-year-olds. – Acccumulation Aug 27 at 21:12
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    @Acccumulation That was in sixth-form, so 16-17 year olds who had opted to study Chemistry for A-Level. Of course, by that point, we were also working with concentrated acids and various other toxic chemicals - all as part of the coursework laid down by the Exam board. From the opposite approach - are you suggesting that 13 year olds should be banned from playing football in PE, because you can't trust them not to kick each other in the head? "Be polite", and "don't be cruel" aren't exactly taxing instructions - most of us could manage that by 7, let alone 13 – Chronocidal Aug 28 at 7:52
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There are really good points in the previous answers and comments, but I think some are still left.

Buckbeak

As Peter rightly explains, Lucius would be motivated by racism. But through Hagrid, he wants to attack Dumbledore similarly to what he did the previous year. And it is also very likely that he wants to get some revenge for the end of the Chamber of Secrets.

Moody

It was not established for sure whether Draco did tell his father about it. But compared to the previous case, it was a really humiliating situation for Draco. And in front of a large section of the school. And he was eventually saved by McGonagall, not a person he would be so keen to recognise. Plus it is likely that he was simply scared of Moody.

If he still went through, Lucius might have considered the following points:

  • While the credibility of Hagrid was never brilliant, Moody is famous and well listened,
  • He could not get to Dumbledore through Moody, and would not have that much to profit from it (generally up to that point, Lucius had always been less emotional than Draco),
  • The two previous years have tarnished his own position and he might want to play cautiously until the next big organised thing. Not playing so much solo.
  • It has been established (mostly in the books, though), that Lucius had a collection of illegal Dark Artifacts. He tried to get rid of them, but could not do it so easily. He most certainly did not want to attract too much attention from the Aurors, and less so to the most famous of them.
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Because Lucius is a bully and a coward

Buckbeak, Hagrid and, by proxy, Dumbledore could be pursued through the law because they play by the rules.

"Mad-eye" Moody was a rogue element and potentially very dangerous - pick on him and he's likely to retaliate in ways that might not be, strictly speaking, legal.

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    More to the point, Hagrid and Buckbeak had no standing in the political arena and wouldn't be able to defend themselves, and Dumbledore could be relied on to "fight like a gentleman" according to the rules even if Lucius cheated and bribed. He could seek Buckbeak's destruction without having to fear the consequences. Moody was an Auror who had survived more attacks than Lucius has had hair treatments and would not only not play fair, his response would be massively disproportionate... – Shadur Aug 29 at 9:47

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