At least some content in this article is derived from information featured in Harry Potter: Puzzles & Spells, Harry Potter: Wizards Unite, and Harry Potter: Hogwarts Mystery.
The British Ministry of Magic encased an Hour-Reversal Charm in the time turners they created, for additional stability. The number of times one turned the hourglass corresponded to the number of hours one travelled back in time. However, they can only stay in the past for five hours at a time, without the possibility of serious harm to the traveller or to time itself.
However, by 2020, two other "true" kind of time-turners were created. The prototype only let the time traveller stay in the past for five minutes, while the improved model let them to stay in the past for as long as they wanted, and return to the future when wanted.
- "Hermione's immense workload finally seemed to be getting to her. Every night, without fail, Hermione was to be seen in a corner of the common room, several tables spread with books, Arithmancy charts, rune dictionaries, diagrams of Muggles lifting heavy objects, and file upon file of extensive notes; she barely spoke to anybody and snapped when she was interrupted."
- — Hermione's workload due to her Ministry Time-Turner[src]
Hermione Granger received one from Professor McGonagall in 1993, so that she could attend more classes in her third year than time would allow. Since McGonagall made her swear to not tell anyone about it, she did not mention it to Harry Potter or Ron Weasley until the end of the school year, when she and Harry used it to travel back in time and save Sirius Black and Buckbeak from certain death. Special permission from the Ministry of Magic had to be sought to allow Hermione to use one, but her academic record ensured that permission was given.
Hermione found her third year stressful with the extra class load, and therefore decided to drop Divination, which she despised, and Muggle Studies, which she did not find very useful, given that she was a Muggle-born. This allowed her to have a normal schedule once again, and she returned her Time-Turner. Ron was disappointed that Hermione did not tell her friends about it, despite her promise to McGonagall.
The entire stock of Time-Turners, located in the Time Room, in the Ministry of Magic were rendered useless during the Battle of the Department of Mysteries in 1996. While not "destroyed" per se, due to the way one of them fell when their counter was knocked over, the entire stock was trapped in an endless loop of falling over, un-falling, and then re-falling, in an endless cycle for all eternity, and are thus unable to be used. However, it is possible that other countries around the world would be willing to lend their own Time-Turners to the British government if asked.
- "And there is a giant whoosh of light. A smash of noise. And time stops. And then it turns over, thinks a bit, and begins spooling backwards, slow at first ... And then it speeds up."
- — The workings of a time turner[src]
By August 2020, Theodore Nott, while working for Lucius Malfoy, created a prototype of a time-turner, presumably in the hope of saving Voldemort from his fate. The prototype only let the time-traveller stay in the past for five minutes, although they could travel as far back as they wanted.
Nott eventually created a better and improved model, which let the time-traveller stay in the past for as long as they wanted. They could also use the device to return to the future when needed. While Malfoy kept the improved model, which was eventually passed down to his son, Nott kept the prototype. Even though they both owned something which could be used to save Voldemort, neither of them tried.
In August 2020, Harry Potter, in his capacity as the head of the Department of Magical Law Enforcement, retrieved the previously unknown Time-Turner at the home of Nott. Being a "true" Time-Turner, it had the potential to cause catastrophic effects on time, and Nott was arrested for creating such a dangerous device.
Although it was hidden in the office of Minister for Magic Hermione Granger, it was later stolen by Albus Potter and Scorpius Malfoy, who intended to use it in order to save Cedric Diggory and return him to his father. They created a disastrous sequence of events and alternate realities, finding that they could only stay in the past for five minutes. They managed to correct events and set time right with the help of the alternate Hermione, Ron Weasley and Severus Snape.
When they were were abducted by Delphini, she used the time-turner to travel back to October 1981 to save her father. She then destroyed it to ensure she would not be forced to return to the present via the five minute restriction.
However, in the present, Draco Malfoy revealed he had the improved Time-Turner from his father, that would allow him to stay in the past for as long as he wanted; he had always had to resist the urge to use it to see his deceased wife one more time. Along with Harry, Ron, Ginny and Hermione, they travelled back in time with help from a message sent by Albus in the past. They stopped Delphini by the combined might of both generations, and then returned to the future.
Time-Turners that were issued by the Ministry of Magic have an Hour-Reversal Charm placed onto them. They had a limit of travelling back a maximum of five-hours, which is the determined safety limit to the person and the fabrics of time.
The Ministry had a limited quantity which were not easily replaceable. During the Battle of the Department of Mysteries, the Ministry's entire stockpile were destroyed and they were not repaired nor replaced. Hogwarts students can apply for such a Time-Turner in order to take more classes, but they must undergo a large amount of screening process and must follow the most stringent set of rules, such as not abusing its powers nor let any outsiders know about it.
True Time-Turners were created by Theodore Nott while he was working for Lucius Malfoy. There were two in total, and they were not restricted by an Hour-Reversal Charm, allowing one to travel back years or even decades. The prototype was kept by Nott until the Ministry found it following his arrest by Harry Potter. It was made of inexpensive metal and was not the finalised version; although still far more powerful than any Time Turner that had preceded it, the user could only stay in the past for five minutes before being sent back to the present.
However, Albus Potter and Scorpius Malfoy retrieved it and proved (albeit unintentionally), that a person could create enough damage with catastrophic results in such a small window. When Delphi took it, she destroyed it while still in the past, and proved that the device would then allow the users to stay in the past indefinitely.
Nott was arrested when he was found to have created and being in possession of such a dangerous device. When Albus and Scorpius were found using this device, they were very close to being expelled by Headmistress Minerva McGonagall, had she not been understanding enough from her experience with their parents. Nevertheless, she barred them from all future visits to Hogsmeade, cancelled all their Christmas and Easter holidays, and gave them a multitude of detentions, while their parents gave them a severe scolding. Delphi was later arrested for using the device in an attempt to alter the timeline illegally, along with the cold-blooded murder of Craig Bowker Jnr with the Killing Curse.
Lucius kept the second "true" Time-Turner as he enjoyed collecting powerful artefacts. The finalised device gleamed like gold, and was not restrained by a five-minutes duration. By his son Draco Malfoy's belief, Lucius originally commissioned the creation of the Time-Turner wast to save Lord Voldemort from his fate, but ultimately decided not to. He passed the Time-Turner down to Draco, who used it to save Albus and Scorpius by travelling to the past. The device allowed them to return to the future by their own choice, instead of waiting for five minutes. Harry Potter told him that had the Ministry found Draco with the dangerous device, he would be sent to Azkaban for it.
- "As our investigations currently stand, the longest period that may be relived without the possibility of serious harm to the traveller or to time itself is around five hours. We have been able to encase single Hour-Reversal Charms, which are unstable and benefit from containment, in small, enchanted hour-glasses that may be worn around a witch or wizard’s neck and revolved according to the number of hours the user wishes to relive."
- — Professor Saul Croaker[src]
Time-related magic is unstable, and serious breaches in the laws of time result in catastrophic events. Possible scenarios include a wizard or witch killing their past or future selves by mistake, or altering one's life path in such a drastic fashion that it can result in temporal anomalies such as un-births, making it imperative for users to practise discretion and operate in secret lest they encounter their past selves and do irreparable harm. As such, the Ministry of Magic seeks the strictest guarantees if it permits the use of Time-Turners: Time-Turner possession is hedged around with literally hundreds of laws, and the most stringent laws and penalties are in place to prevent their misuse.
The consequences of meddling with time could be as severe as creating an alternate timeline, such as one in which Lord Voldemort was never defeated and still ruled. The person who had used the Time-Turner, however, if still existing, would still have memory of the events of the un-corrupted timeline, but would have to learn secondhand the nature of the changes which had been made.
Behind the scenes
- In the film adaptation of Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, while the importance of not being seen while travelling back in time is stressed, Harry and Hermione pass by the Clock Tower Courtyard while following their past selves. However, the executioner was sitting there, sharpening his axe, so he must have seen two pairs of Harrys and Hermiones. Although it could be explained that he was too focused on sharpening his axe that he did not notice the second Harry and Hermione coming through. In addition, there is also a scene played for laughs where in Ron sees future Harry and Hermione enter the room at the same moment that their past selves disappear to travel back in time.
- In the book, when the Time-Turner is used it takes the person back to the location where they were present at the time they'd gone back to. However, in the film adaptation, when the Time-Turner is used it leaves the person in the same place they were when they turned time back. The GBA video game version has the user appearing at an entirely random place (i.e. Harry and Hermione use it in the Hospital Wing and appear at the Forbidden Forest).
- The possibility of time travel within the Harry Potter universe may seem to allow many plot holes, but characters appear to use them for trivial tasks that have no effect on existence as a whole. The one notable use of a Time-Turner within canon, the Rescue of Sirius Black and Buckbeak, obeys the Novikov Self-Consistency Principle. This theory of time-travel, stating that "Nothing can be changed because anything a traveller does merely produces the circumstances they had noted before travelling," is incidentally reminiscent of J. K. Rowling's employment of self-fulfilling prophecy. However, references to catastrophes that can take place when time travelling (a reference to a wizard travelling to the past and being killed by his past self in Prisoner of Azkaban, or Eloise Mintumble's time-travelling mishap in Pottermore in which several people end up un-born in the present) seem to go against Novikov Principle, indeed creating paradoxes. Harry Potter and the Cursed Child also shows that reckless use of a Time-Turner can result in the creation of an alternate timeline.
- Knowing that time-related magic is unstable, there might be different ways to experience time through magic. This would explain catastrophic events as with Eloise Mintumble, and also paradoxes as result of poorly performed time-related spells.
- When Eloise Mintumble time-travelled and changed things, it was noticed by other witches and wizards from the original timeline who went to retrieve her. When Albus Potter and Scorpius Malfoy time-travelled and changed things, no one from the original timeline knew they could retrieve them. They never mention being able to retrieve them in the same way Eloise was retrieved. It may be a continuity error or they had used a different kind of Time-Turner.
- It is possible that Minerva McGonagall was wearing a Time-Turner in a deleted scene from Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald.
- It is unknown what the effect of excessive Time-Turner use might produce. The user might still age while within an hour produced by the Time-Turner, and if so, then for wizards or witches such as Hermione, constant use might age them faster, adding days, weeks, or even months onto their internal chronological clock. It is also unknown how this applies to later on in life. If Hermione was perhaps a month older by using the Time-Turner during her third year, then biologically her seventeenth birthday might arrive a month earlier than her calendar birthdate might indicate, which might cause the Trace to have been lifted earlier as well.
- In LEGO Harry Potter: Years 1-4, there are grandfather clocks throughout Hogwarts which allow Hermione to use her Time-Turner to transport herself and her teammates back in time to complete certain objectives. One of these includes a mission where Harry and Hagrid hatch Norberta's egg.
- The Time-Turner is one of the many collectables offered by the Noble Collection.
- Hermione Granger's Time-Turner is David Heyman's favourite prop from the films.
- You can hear quiet ticking as a background sound during part of the Time-Turner episode of the film adaptation of Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban.
- In Harry Potter: Hogwarts Mystery, after botching his first date Barnaby Lee, repeatedly commented he wished he had a Time-Turner to redo the evening.
- Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban (First appearance)
- Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban (film)
- Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban (video game)
- Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix
- Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince (Mentioned only)
- Harry Potter and the Cursed Child
- Harry Potter and the Cursed Child (play)
- Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald (Possible appearance) (Deleted scene)
- LEGO Harry Potter: Characters of the Magical World
- LEGO Harry Potter: Years 1-4
- Harry Potter for Kinect (Mentioned and appears on a illustrative photograph)
- The Wizarding World of Harry Potter
- J. K. Rowling's official site
- Wizarding World
- Harry Potter: The Character Vault
- Harry Potter: Hogwarts Mystery (Mentioned only)
- Harry Potter: Wizards Unite
- Harry Potter: Puzzles & Spells
Notes and references
- Writing by J.K. Rowling: "Time-Turner" at Wizarding World
- Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, Chapter 35 (Beyond the Veil)
- Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, Chapter 21 (Hermione's Secret)
- LEGO Harry Potter: Years 1-4
- Harry Potter and the Cursed Child
- This quote comes from the "Harry Potter Sticker Kit", containing a plastic replica of the Time-Turner used on the film.
- Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, Chapter 22 (Owl Post Again)
- Blue Peter (CBBC) interview with JK Rowling, confirming that all the MoM time-turners were destroyed.
- Harry Potter and the Cursed Child, Act Four, Scene Four
- Harry Potter and the Cursed Child, Act Two, Scene Sixteen
- Assuming an average usage of 3 hours per day, 5 days per week, for a period of 9 months, this would add up to approximately 24 extra days.
- See this video