Those Time Travel Paradoxes (Harry Potter and The Prisoner of Azkaban)

Back to ruminating over time travel plots. This time over a movie that is in one of my favorite franchises, Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban. I am assuming that readers of this post (Potterheads) are familiar with the story, especially when the time turner is used.

Some of the main events of the time turner sequences follow (roughly):

  1. Harry, Ron and Hermione (HHR) are at Hagrid’s before Buckbeak is “sentenced to death”
  2. A “mysterious” object breaks the vase on Hagrid’s table, and another hits Harry on the back of the head
  3. Dumbledore and the Minister of Magic approach and HHR sneak through the back and hide behind the pumpkin patch
  4. Hermione hears a twig crack in the forest behind them and dismisses what she thought caused the noise when Harry and Ron question her
  5. They run up the hill towards Hogwarts and hear an axe hitting against an object; presumably Buckbeak
  6. Later on Sirius Black appears at the Whomping Willow
  7. After coming out of the shrieking shack Lupin turns into a werewolf after seeing the full moon
  8. After a fight with Sirius, HRR and Snape, werewolf Lupin hears a howl and runs towards it
  9. Some events later, Harry and Sirius find themselves by a lake and are attacked by Dementors
  10. Harry sees a patronus across the lake, which saves him, and passes out (Harry believes it was his father)
  11. Harry then wakes at the infirmary and is instructed at the infirmary to save Buckbeak and Sirius (Sirius is detained in the Hogwarts cells)

The events of time turning Hermione and Harry (HH):

The stone that broke the vase and hit Harry in the back of the head was thrown by Hermione. The crack heard by Hermione (2) was actually future Hermione stepping on a twig. The axe in (5) was smashed against a pumpkin not Buckbeak, Harry and Hermione stole Buckbeak and snuck him into the forest. The howl that werewolf Lupin heard (7) was Hermione. The patronous that Harry saw (10) was his future self. They fly on Buckbeak to break Sirius out of the Hogwarts cells. Harry and Hermione appear back at the infirmary (11).

This is one of my favorite sequences in the movie, but again I had one problem with it. If the theatrical versions of Hermione and Harry (theatrical versions meaning the Hermione and Harry we followed throughout the storyline) never used the time turner at (11) wouldn’t Buckbeak still be saved? Wouldn’t Buckbeak be free even if the Hermione and Harry we followed throughout the movie never touched the time turner? My questioning from this derives from when the audience, and readers, were unsure what caused events 1-11. But after Hermione and Harry use the time turner, it becomes apparent that the events of 1-11 were in fact caused by Heroine and Harry. Therefore there was always a Hermione that hit Harry in the back of the head, a Hermione and Harry who set Buckbeak free, a Hermione who howled (8), a Harry who performed the patronous and etcetera. Therefore when HHR thought Buckbeak was dead, as did the audience/readers, he was not because there was always a HH who set Buckbeak free.  Wasn’t there?

A common debate is that HH had to use the time turner in order to save the Buckbeak that they thought was dead. If this is true, that means the first time we hear the axe (5) Buckbeak was in fact dead. Correct? This theory, therefore, obliterates the idea that there wasn’t an existent HH who saved Buckbeak but that the theatrical versions of HH were the sole reasons why Buckbeak is alive. If this is true, what broke the vase and hit Harry in the head in (2), what was the noise that Hermione heard in (4) who/what howled in (8) and who used the patronus in (10) to save Harry and Sirius? This is the major hole in the time travel of this movie. I really enjoyed the sequence of events but I always grow discouraged with Harry and Hermione’s timeline. If the answer is truly that there was always a HH who always existed then was there really any need for the HH we followed throughout the movie to use the time turner?

If someone truly knows what or who caused these events please help, I have been in questioning  for over a decade now….

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5 thoughts on “Those Time Travel Paradoxes (Harry Potter and The Prisoner of Azkaban)

      1. That’s basically the most reason why I loved this particular chapter of the series! I was stunned by how smart JK had sewn the storyline— something that I wish I have to as an aspiring writer.

        Liked by 1 person

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