At least some content in this article is derived from information featured in: Hogwarts Legacy & Harry Potter: Magic Awakened & Harry Potter: Hogwarts Mystery.
Professor Cuthbert Binns was a wizard and History of Magic professor at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. He owned an office in the main castle and Classroom 4F on the first floor to teach in. He taught until a very old age, when he fell asleep in the staff room and died in slumber. Afterwards, he became a ghost who continued to teach, droning on about various Goblin Rebellions and giant wars to bored, sleeping students.
Professor Binns's lessons were regarded as some of the most boring at Hogwarts, and only once in known history did he talk about something not strictly factual. During the 1991–1992 school year, he taught his first-year students about numerous historical personalities such as Uric the Oddball and Emeric the Evil, whom the class always got confused with.
The following academic year, he relayed the legend of the Chamber of Secrets to his second-year class, but only after every student in the class showed complete and utter interest, despite initially stating the legend of the Chamber to be unimportant.
Cuthbert was born into the Binns family, with Mr Binns as his father. It was said that his father always used to say something to him, but Cuthbert fell asleep in the middle of his sentence before he could say what it was.
Career at Hogwarts
- "Professor Binns opened his notes and began to read in a flat drone like an old vacuum cleaner until nearly everyone in the class was in a deep stupor, occasionally coming round long enough to copy down a name or date, then falling asleep again."
- — Description of Binns's tedious and boring classes[src]
Cuthbert came to Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry and applied for the post of Professor of History of Magic, which he was granted. Cuthbert - now known as Professor Binns - was given Classroom 4F on the first floor near a mossy courtyard to teach in, as well as an office in the fifth-floor corridor.
His lessons were known to be the most boring in all of Hogwarts; he read from his never-ending collection of notes, and his students, whom he never paid any attention to, would fall asleep listening to his droning, reedy voice, eventually waking up to copy down a name or date, but falling asleep again.
Later years and death
- "Professor Binns had been very old indeed when he had fallen asleep in front of the staff-room fire and got up next morning to teach, leaving his body behind him."
- — Harry Potter recounting the story of Professor Binns's death[src]
Professor Binns was still teaching well into his elderly years at Hogwarts, still lecturing students in History of Magic. Now so old that he looked like a wrinkled tortoise, Binns went down to the staffroom on the ground floor and went to sleep in front of the fire. However, he died in his sleep and, when he got up to teach his next class, he was a ghost. Regardless, he did not seem to notice, though he did begin to fly into his classroom through the blackboard, but his lessons were still just as boring as ever. It was said the most exciting thing that happened in his class was when he entered through the blackboard.
Late 19th century
During the 1970s, Professor Binns taught James Potter, Lily Evans, Peter Pettigrew, Remus Lupin and Sirius Black. For unknown reasons, Binns gave one of his Chocolate Frog Cards, that of Circe, to James Potter, which later fell into the hands of Quirinus Quirrell who put it into his vault, number 998.
1986–1987 school year
During the 1986–1987 school year, Professor Binns was approached by Jacob's sibling and Penny Haywood at his desk in the History of Magic Classroom while asleep, in order to ask him information about the famous Ancient Greek witch Circe. After being awoken by them, he was confused and thought he was teaching a class about Emeric the Evil, and thought Jacob's sibling was present for an exam, and then fell asleep again. When they woke him again, Binns told Jacob's sibling in response that he given a lesson about Circe earlier that decade, and said his notes on Circe on his desk were very disorganised, to which Jacob's sibling and Penny organised for him. After agreeing to let them take his notes on Circe, he remarked her found Circe's use of the the human to pig spell the most fascinating aspect about her, before falling asleep again.
1988–1989 school year
In the 1988–1989 school year, one of the groups Binns taught had sixteen fifth-year students which included Jacob's sibling, Nymphadora Tonks and Charlie Weasley. As always, these classes were seen as boring by most students. Sometimes Tonks used her Metamorphmagus ability to transform into Binns in order to make lessons more interesting. Most of the time, Binns did not pay attention to the class, leading to students doing activities such as tasting confectionery or playing Exploding Snap. He even fell asleep himself sometimes in a middle of a sentence.
Sometimes during class, Rowan Khanna took over during Binns's frequent naps and inattention. Rowan actually enjoyed the topic and aspired to be a professor after graduation. They considered the class one of their favourites, partly because these unofficial lectures allowed them to practice their teaching technique.
Later during this school year, Jacob's sibling, Bill Weasley and Merula Snyde went to Binns in his classroom to ask him for help finding Peeves. He agreed to tell them about purely the facts about Peeves and poltergeists, but ended up talking about goblin rebellions instead, meaning he was not much help to them.
When preparing to enter the Buried Vault, Jacob's sibling went to Binns along with Bill Weasley and Merula Snyde again in order to learn about dragons. Later, the three, along with Patricia Rakepick, Ben Copper and either Charlie Weasley or Penny Haywood went to Binns to learn about Portkeys.
1989–1990 school year
During the 1989–1990 school year, Jacob's sibling spied on Professor Binns being spoken to by Madam Pince in the History of Magic classroom under their invisibility cloak. Pince had to wake Binns up from his sleep at his desk to talk to him.
During this year, Binns attended the memorial ceremony for Rowan Khanna held in the Great Hall, following Rowan's death. Sir Nicholas also took over a portion of Binns's History of Magic classes, helping him teach sixth-years about ancient runes.
1990–1991 school year
During the 1990–1991 school year, Professor Binns was contacted by Alastor Moody to ask him to give Jacob's sibling and Nymphadora Tonks a special lecture about Azkaban, in preparation for their upcoming visit there. However as he began to inform the students about Azkaban, he fell asleep at his desk.
1991–1992 school year
During the 1991–1992 school year, Professor Binns gained the famous Harry Potter as a student. However, Binns did not notice his legendary pupil, since he did not pay any attention to his class as he read through his notes, expecting them to copy down bullet points. That year, Binns taught his first-year students about historical figures such as Uric the Oddball and Emeric the Evil, whom his students always got confused with. Harry also said that he considered History of Magic to be "easily the most boring lesson" in the school. However, Binns also gained a gifted student, Hermione Granger, who alone seemed to be immune to the soporific effects of his lectures, as she listened and took notes seriously.
1992–1993 school year
- Hermione Granger: "I was wondering if you could tell us anything about the Chamber of Secrets?"
- Professor Binns: "The story goes that Slytherin had built a hidden chamber in the castle, of which the other founders knew nothing. Slytherin, according to the legend, sealed the Chamber of Secrets so that none would be able to open it until his own true heir arrived at the school. The heir alone would be able to unseal the Chamber of Secrets, unleash the horror within, and use it to purge the school of all who were unworthy to study magic."
- — Professor Binns recounting the legend of the Chamber of Secrets[src]
The following year, the Chamber of Secrets was reopened and Mrs Norris, Argus Filch, the caretaker's pet cat, was petrified by Salazar Slytherin's Basilisk. Regardless, the school ran as normal and one of Professor Binns's homework he gave out just after the attack was a three-foot essay on The Medieval Assembly of European Wizards. While lecturing his second-year students on the International Warlock Convention of 1289, Hermione Granger raised her hand and asked about the legend of the Chamber. Despite initially refusing to grant her wish, he relayed the legend after she got him to admit that legends often had some basis in fact, and seeing the unusual amount of interest and attention his class were giving him.
After reciting the story, each of his pupils argued against his belief that there was no Chamber, but he put a stop to them and their theories and, within five minutes, had bored them to sleep with his lecture. Later on in the year, he was visited by the Deputy Headmistress, Minerva McGonagall, who told him that Harry Potter and Ron Weasley would be absent from his History of Magic class due to their visit to the petrified Hermione Granger.
1993–1994 school year
During the 1993–1994 school year, Professor Binns continued to teach Harry Potter and his classmates. As preparation for the school year, Professor Binns set his third-year students an essay titled Witch Burning in the Fourteenth Century Was Completely Pointless — discuss, over the 1993 summer holidays.
1994–1995 school year
The following academic year, Professor Binns gave his fourth-year students a huge workload of writing an entire composition every week, in preparation for their Ordinary Wizarding Level examinations in their next year.
Since Harry Potter had been chosen as a champion for the Triwizard Tournament, he was exempt from the End-of-Term Exams, and so, paid less attention to Binns than usual and spent the time looking up fresh hexes for the Triwizard Tasks. It was known that one History of Magic lesson was two classes before the First Task of the Triwizard Tournament, followed by Transfiguration with Minerva McGonagall.
1995–1996 school year
- "Today, they suffered three quarters of an hour's droning on the subject of giant wars. Harry heard just enough within the first ten minutes to appreciate dimly that in another teacher's hands this subject might have been mildly interesting, but then his brain disengaged, and he spent the remaining thirty-five minutes playing hangman on a corner of his parchment with Ron, while Hermione shot them filthy looks out of the corner of her eye."
- — Professor Binns's first class of the new term[src]
For one of his first classes of the 1995–1996 school year, known to be a Monday, Professor Binns lectured his fifth-year students on wars caused and participated in by giants, which would have been interesting had it been taught by a more engaging teacher. After an hour of lecturing, Binns left the classroom through the blackboard. He had another History of Magic class the following Monday, just after Dolores Umbridge's appointment as the High Inquisitor of Hogwarts, which was noted to be just as boring, drowsy and depressing as the last.
That year was the year of his students' Ordinary Wizarding Level examinations, and he made his students write down notes for them to revise from for their exams. It was unknown if Umbridge inspected Binns's classes that year, as she was not present during Harry's lectures.
1997–1998 school year
During the 1997–1998 school year, Voldemort had seized control over Hogwarts. It was unknown how this affected Professor Binns or if he took any part in the Battle of Hogwarts against the Death Eaters.
After the war (1998-)
It is likely that Professor Binns continued his long tenure as Professor of History of Magic after the war. However, there was a visiting History of Magic Professor, Jakub Gorski, in 2009, and it is unknown if Binns continued to teach alongside him or not. It's unknown what happened to Binns after this, especially because, as a ghost, his existence was endless.
- "Professor Binns paused again, pursing his lips, looking like a wrinkled old tortoise."
- — A brief description of Professor Binns[src]
Professor Binns, as being a ghost, was described as looking ancient and shrivelled, and looked a little like an old tortoise when he pursed his lips. He wore glasses, which were small and thick, and had a dry, reedy voice that sounded a lot like an old vacuum cleaner, droning on and on.
Personality and traits
Professor Binns did not display much of a personality, as all he did was read his notes in a droning voice to his students, while oblivious or disinterested about how everyone simply dozed off from boredom. However, it can be seen that he was very impatient and did not take the liberty of learning his students' names, calling Hermione Granger "Miss Grant", Parvati Patil "Miss Pennyfeather", Seamus Finnigan "O'Flaherty" and even the famous Harry Potter "Perkins". It's possible he was actually calling them by the names of previous students from years ago, possibly due to senility as he was very old at the time of death. Binns was also shown to be a firm disbeliever in legends and mythology, dedicating his studies and lectures on "solid, believable fact". He was said to have a drawling monotonous voice, which most of his students become quickly bored with.
Magical abilities and skills
- History of Magic: Being the Professor of History of Magic at Hogwarts, he was an authority in and thoroughly knowledgeable of magical history, teaching the subject for more than a century at Hogwarts School, with his rich and varied historical knowledge spanning much of wizarding history.
- Magizoology: Binns was shown to be knowledgeable in the study of magical creatures, as he had knowledge about the traits of several different breeds of dragons.
- Wandlore: Binns was knowledgeable about the history of wandlore, which he taught to sixth-years in History of Magic.
- Study of Ancient Runes: Binns was knowledgeable in the field of ancient runes, as he taught sixth year History of Magic students about the history of ancient runes, during the 1989–1990 school year at Hogwarts.
- Alchemy: Binns was also knowledgeable about the history of Alchemy in Medieval Europe, which he taught to seventh-years in History of Magic.
- Teaching skills: Binns must have proven himself to have been an adequate teacher to have acquired his position at Hogwarts as a Professor whilst he was alive. However, his teaching after his death had proven to be ineffective, as he simply read notes in a droning manner that lulled many students to fall asleep. His unenthusiastic manner of communications, lack of interest in his students' attention, and his refusal to delve into what he considered to be myth, greatly hampered his skills in delivering information to his class and keeping them interested in his subject.
- Office: While teaching at Hogwarts, Binns had an office on the fifth floor.
- Books: Binns owned several books, including a Draconifors spellbook, Great Wizarding Events of the Twentieth Century, and several other books.
- "Binns" is from "binoculars", a slang term for spectacles. Notice that Professor Binns wore very thick glasses.
- A bin is a large storage container. A dustbin is British English for a garbage can. This boring professor could be described as a ghostly storage for information that many Hogwarts students view as rubbish.
Behind the scenes
- Professor Binns does assign homework and essays, though as he is a ghost it's unknown how he is able to mark them. Given this, it is possible he has a student assistant, like the ones in Music and Muggle Studies. Alternatively, he might be in possession of a quill that he can tell what to write and therefore does not need to actually touch it to grade papers.
- Binns has not appeared in any of the films nor the PC games. His explanation in Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets of the legend of the Chamber of Secrets is instead given by Professor McGonagall in the film and Professor Flitwick in the PC game.
- In the videogame Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, there is one History of Magic classroom featured on the Fourth Floor corridor. Professor Binns, however, is never seen in the game.
- The only video games Professor Binns has made an appearance (so far) are the Game Boy Color adaptations, LEGO Harry Potter: Years 1-4 and Harry Potter: Hogwarts Mystery, although he was mentioned in the Order of the Phoenix video game. On the Game Boy Color versions Binns has a tendency to fall asleep during lectures and to forget about things.
- Professor Binns' first name only appeared on a list of the Hogwarts professors which was released on J. K. Rowling's official site.
- Professor Binns is seen in the book series as a stereotyped old man; he forgets things seconds after hearing them, has a slow droning voice, and gets irritable at times.
- As Binns became a ghost, he can no longer move beyond the veil, and will remain earthbound for all eternity. This means that unless he resigns or is sacked, he would be the History of Magic teacher forever.
- Since Binns died in the staffroom, and continued on as if nothing happened, it can be assumed that he feared death (or what lies beyond the veil). Perhaps teaching was what Binns wanted to do, for literally all eternity.
- In "Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey" ride in Orlando Florida, Dumbledore mentions that Professor Binns will be giving the audience a lecture entitled Hogwarts Through the Centuries and that it will be "...long". Harry, Ron and Hermione sneak the audience out of the Defence Against the Dark Arts Classroom before Professor Binns shows up.
- In Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, Binns states, "There is not a shred of evidence that Slytherin ever built so much as a secret broom cupboard!" Ironically enough, there is a secret broom cupboard in Hogwarts: the Weasley twins told Harry that when they were running away from Filch once, they took refuge in a broom cupboard, which was later revealed to be the Room of Requirement.
- According to the Prisoner of Azkaban transcript on thepensieve.org, Professor Binns makes an appearance in the film, as a ghost who reports to Dumbledore shortly after "The Flight of the Fat Lady." However, if this is true, none of Binns' more memorable traits are portrayed in the films.
- Binns' recollection of his father strongly suggests that not only did he pick up his droning style of speech from him, but that like his own students, it put Binns himself to sleep from boredom.
- In the 1989–1990 school year as seen in Harry Potter: Hogwarts Mystery, Binns asked his sixth-year students (aged 16 or 17) whether they have served in the First World War, despite that one must be 18 to enlist (although many boys in real life have served by lying about their age). This would indicate that Binns had been teaching since at least 1918, and his memory had not moved on since then.
"The most productive ghost at Hogwarts is, of course, Professor Binns, the old History of Magic teacher who fell asleep in front of the staff-room fire one day and simply got up to give his next class, leaving his body behind. There is some debate as to whether or not Professor Binns realises he is dead. While his entrance to lessons through the blackboard is vaguely amusing the first time students see it, he is not the most stimulating teacher.
The inspiration for Professor Binns was an old professor at my university, who gave every lecture with his eyes closed, rocking backwards and forwards slightly on his toes. While he was a brilliant man, who disgorged an immense amount of valuable information at every lecture, his disconnect with his students was total. Professor Binns is only dimly aware of his living students, and is astonished when they begin asking him questions."
- Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone (First identified as Professor Binns) (First appearance) (Appears as a ghost or a spirit)
- Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone (video game) (Appears as a ghost or a spirit) (GBC version only)
- Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets (Appears as a ghost or a spirit)
- Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets (video game) (Appears as a ghost or a spirit) (GBC version only)
- Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban (Mentioned only)
- Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire (Appears as a ghost or a spirit)
- Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix (Appears as a ghost or a spirit)
- Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix (video game) (Mentioned only)
- Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows (Mentioned only)
- What was the Name of that Nymph Again? or Greek and Roman Studies Recalled (Mentioned only)
- The Wizarding World of Harry Potter (Mentioned only)
- LEGO Harry Potter: Years 1-4 (Appears as a ghost or a spirit)
- LEGO Harry Potter: Years 5-7 (Appears as a ghost or a spirit)
- J. K. Rowling's official site (First identified as "Cuthbert" Binns)
- Pottermore (Appears as a ghost or a spirit)
- Wizarding World (Appears as a ghost or a spirit)
- Harry Potter: Hogwarts Mystery (Appears as a ghost or a spirit)
- Harry Potter: Wizards Unite (Mentioned only)
- Harry Potter: Magic Awakened (Mentioned only)
- Hogwarts Legacy (Appears as a ghost or a spirit)
Notes and references
- Professor Cuthbert Binns was already dead when he taught an unidentified student in 1890.
- Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone, Chapter 8 (The Potions Master)
- "World Exclusive Interview with J K Rowling," South West News Service, 8 July 2000 - "Hogwarts just serves Britain and Ireland."
- Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone (video game) - GBC version
- Image url of https://www.pottermore.com/image/the-legend-of-the-chamber-of-secrets - "CuthbertBinns_PM_B2C9M1_CuthbertBinnsTeachingAboutTheChamberOfSecrets_Moment.jpg"
- Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, Chapter 9 (The Writing on the Wall)
- Hogwarts Legacy
- Harry Potter: Hogwarts Mystery, Year 3, Side Quest "Flume's Clues"
- Harry Potter: Hogwarts Mystery, Year 5, Chapter 3 (Detention Before Extension) - History of Magic Lesson "Medieval Assembly of European Wizards"
- Harry Potter: Hogwarts Mystery, Year 5, Chapter 5 (Penny, Portraits, Peace, and Pressure) - History of Magic Lesson "Giant Wars"
- Harry Potter: Hogwarts Mystery, Year 5, Chapter 11 (Mundungus Fletcher) - History of Magic Lesson "Goblin Rebellion of 1612"
- Harry Potter: Hogwarts Mystery, Year 5, Chapter 15 (Secrets and Lies) - History of Magic Lesson "International Statute of Secrecy"
- Harry Potter: Hogwarts Mystery, Year 5, Chapter 19 (The Unforgivable Curses) - History of Magic Lesson "Witch Hunts of 14th Century"
- Harry Potter: Hogwarts Mystery, Year 5, Chapter 28 (About Merula) - History of Magic Lesson "Werewolf Code of Conduct"
- Harry Potter: Hogwarts Mystery, Year 5, Chapter 32 (The Trouble With Ben) - History of Magic Lesson "International Warlock Convention of 1289"
- Harry Potter: Hogwarts Mystery, Year 6, Chapter 5 (Wherefore Art Thou, Weasleys?) - History of Magic Lesson "Uprising of Elfric the Eager"
- Harry Potter: Hogwarts Mystery, Year 5, Chapter 21 (The Search for Peeves)
- Harry Potter: Hogwarts Mystery, Year 5, Chapter 27 (A New Danger)
- Harry Potter: Hogwarts Mystery, Year 5, Chapter 29 (Final Preparations)
- Harry Potter: Hogwarts Mystery, Year 6, Chapter 12 (Now You See Me)
- Harry Potter: Hogwarts Mystery, Year 6, Chapter 19 (A Farewell To A Friend)
- Harry Potter: Hogwarts Mystery, Year 6, Chapter 28 (Moving On) - History of Magic Lesson "Ancient Runes"
- Harry Potter: Hogwarts Mystery, Year 7, Chapter 35 (The Auror Programme)
- Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, Chapter 16 (The Chamber of Secrets)
- Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, Chapter 1 (Owl Post)
- Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, Chapter 12 (The Patronus)
- Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, Chapter 15 (Beauxbatons and Durmstrang)
- Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, Chapter 20 (The First Task)
- Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, Chapter 31 (The Third Task)
- Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, Chapter 12 (Professor Umbridge)
- Harry Potter: Magic Awakened
- Harry Potter: Hogwarts Mystery, Year 6, Chapter 2 (Curses and Prophecies) - History of Magic Lesson "History of Wandlore"
- Harry Potter: Hogwarts Mystery, Year 7, Chapter 10 (The Wampus Cat's Out of the Bag) - History of Magic Lesson "Alchemy in Medieval Europe"
- Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets (video game) - GBC version
- Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban (video game) - Console version
- Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, Chapter 38 (The Second War Begins)
- Harry Potter: Hogwarts Mystery, Year 6, Chapter 33 (Imitation Game)
- Writing by J. K. Rowling: "Hogwarts Ghosts" at Wizarding World