There are multiple scenes in the PoA movie where Harry and Ron are startled by Hermione "appearing from nowhere" to chime in during a lesson. They would ask her where she came from, and she never gave an honest answer. It is later explained that she was able to do this by using her Time Turner.

My question is, why did she always only go back far enough to join in the middle of a lecture? Why not give herself enough time to get to the door when the classes started, or even to walk with Ron and Harry? Is there any reason why Hermione chose to always be late while time traveling?

  • 2
    Arrived late in what timeline ;) consider she was doing double+ things than Harry and Ron it is understandable she took some time to move between classes. Plus, maybe she (as a smart witch) wanted to mess as little as possible with time.
    – DarkCygnus
    Sep 6, 2017 at 16:55
  • 24
    I think that she did that to avoid (1) clashes with her other self, which, according to Dumbledore, could produce a disaster, (2) with Ron and Harry who could suspect her more than they already did, and discover her secret.
    – TimSparrow
    Sep 6, 2017 at 16:58
  • 20
    @TimSparrow Avoiding Harry and Ron doesn't require her to arrive in the middle of lessons, though (and, indeed, in the books she doesn't - this is just another case of the movies messing with things for no reason). She knows exactly where they'll be during that hour period because she's already been there with them. Sep 6, 2017 at 19:49
  • 4
  • 2
    @simpleuser In the book, she's always shown leaving lessons with Harry and Ron, then hurrying up to them after having been "right there". That suggests that she's taking her lessons with them, and then turning back time to attend her other lessons that occur in the same timeslot. That's the smart thing to do, since she spends most of her time with Harry and Ron, and therefore it's most beneficial to know where they'd been for the hours she's repeating. Sep 7, 2017 at 20:07

4 Answers 4


The Time-Turner only allows you to travel back by multiples of 60 minutes.

The smallest unit of time that you can go back by using the Time-Turner is one hour. The next option after that is two hours. The Time-Turners have no capability to travel by units of time which are smaller than one hour. Time travel is done in multiples of one whole hour. That's just the way it works.

So, for instance, using three turns...

"I am going to lock you in. It is -" he consulted his watch, "five minutes to midnight. Miss Granger, three turns should do it. Good luck."
(Prisoner of Azkaban, Chapter 21, Hermione's Secret).

...takes you back exactly three hours...

"We've gone back in time," Hermione whispered, lifting the chain off Harry's neck in the darkness. "Three hours back..."
(Prisoner of Azkaban, Chapter 21, Hermione's Secret).

Similarly, JK Rowling has added information on Pottermore which says that Time-Turners are powered by magic that works one [exact] hour at a time.

According to Professor Saul Croaker, who has spent his entire career in the Department of Mysteries studying time-magic:
"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."
(Pottermore, "Time-Turner").

Therefore, if Hermione comes out of her lesson at 11:58 then the latest that she can travel back to is 10:58. The next-latest option is 09:58. She cannot travel back to, say, 10:45. If she were to go back to 09:58 then that would leave her with a whole hour to kill. What's the point in that?

Consequently, in the books she travels back exactly one hour each time. She then has to rush to make up for the time that she spent finding a discrete place to use the Time-Turner. That's why she was always late or in a hurry. In addition, she may well have had further to travel between her lessons than Harry and Ron did - or the travel time which is factored in for other students isn't for Hermione because of her unusual timetable.

All this assumes hour-long lessons, which runs contrary to the running hypothesis that Hogwarts lessons seem to last 45 minutes. However, if we assume the timetables give 45 minutes teaching time and 15 minutes for students to travel between lessons then lessons would still be spaced at hour-long intervals. Which means that the one hour that the Time-Turner gives Hermione for moving between classes is sufficient, if only just.

In fairness to Hermione, she wasn't in the habit of walking into lessons halfway through. She was just often flustered and out-of-breath when she had no obvious reason to be.

Movie answer

The books are consistent that one turn equals one hour of time travel. Alas, the movies are less consistent and since the question cites the film I thought I'd answer in relation to that. In the film, Dumbledore still locks them in the hospital wing at midnight.

On cue, the MIDNIGHT BELL begins to CHIME... DING!..

They still turn the Time-Turner three times.

DUMBLEDORE: Three turns should do it, I think.

Yet they end up traveling back to 19:30!

HERMIONE: Seven-thirty. Where were we at seven-thirty?
HARRY: Huh? Dunno...going to Hagrid's?

They travel back by four-and-a-half hours. So, as far as the movies are concerned, one turn of the Time-Turner equals...one-and-a-half hours? I can only presume that that's how the film-canon works.

To confuse things more, when Harry and Hermione are running back to the hospital wing the huge clock on the wall has a hand pointing to twenty-past (2:06 below)

I'm assuming this is the second hand (not the minute hand or the hour hand) since it's striking for midnight. But this is also unclear.

Perhaps the confusion about how the Time-Turner works in the movies is due to an attempt by the filmmakers to marry the turns of the Time-Turner (one hour) with the length of the lessons (an hour-and-a-half) - to make them the same length. This may be giving the film-makers too much credit. For whatever reason, though, one turn in the movies seems to equal 90 minutes of time travel.

This would still leave Hermione with the same quandary when it comes to travelling between lessons, however. If anything, she'd be left with less time than she would in the books. If a double lesson is 90 minutes and the Time-Turner sends her back by 90 minutes then that leaves her with next to no time in which to move between classes.

  • 6
    What is the source on this? I don't recall this ever being explicitly stated.
    – amflare
    Sep 6, 2017 at 18:12
  • 11
    Where does it say that only whole turns can be made? Can't there be half turns?
    – Charles
    Sep 6, 2017 at 18:56
  • 14
    @Charles Update: I've found a quote on Pottermore that says Time-Turners are powered by "single Hour-Reversal Charms". Sounds to me like half turns aren't possible. Sep 6, 2017 at 19:37
  • 25
    If she were to go back to 09:58 then that would leave her with a whole hour to kill. What's the point in that? The point could be an hour to do homework or go back a couple extra hours and sleep.
    – krillgar
    Sep 6, 2017 at 22:00
  • 3
    @krillgar: when she is taking several lessons at once, it implies a distinct time travel per lesson, and having an extra hour for each of them or even a couple extra hours would defeat the original purpose of the time travel. She wouldn’t be learning faster in her-own-time, but only appearing to do so in the rest-of-the-world time, while aging significantly faster. That’s not what she wants.
    – Holger
    Sep 7, 2017 at 7:44

Consider she was taking several more classes than Harry and Ron it is understandable she took some time to move between classes and timelines, given that Hogwarts is quite big and it also has its trick to move around (possible delays on moving staircases, some poltergeist trolling, etc.).

Also, as a really smart and keen witch, she surely knows the possible consequences of time traveling, and all the paradoxes that could be triggered. Therefore, she probably wanted to mess as little as possible with time. Besides, she was instructed by Dumbledore on the use of the Time Turner, and was warned not to meet her other selves, nor Harry or Ron's, so these delays helped her prevent that. Also, she surely was instructed to spin the Time Turned a fixed amount of spins, as Dumbledore once said:

Three turns should do it - Dumbledore on Prisoner of Azkaban.

So giving it more spins could have terrible consequences. We also know that Hermione most of the times complies to instructions given to her.

Another thing to consider is that, maybe, those details are more highlighted in the movies, making you more suspicious on those scenes about Hermione's behavior than you would have been by reading the books.

  • Well what do the books say? And if she's in a class without Harry and Ron in one timeline, why would walking with them in the other make a huge difference? She's going to run into them in the second class anyway. Sep 6, 2017 at 17:11
  • 2
    The books do mention some details on Hermione being late, but is not as highlighted as in the Movies. In other words, you can probably see something suspicious with her behavior in the movies, but in the books that suspicious is lost to other details and plot (mainly on Sirius situation).
    – DarkCygnus
    Sep 6, 2017 at 17:13
  • 1
    Regarding your second question, she was also probably trying to avoid contact with other students, not just Harry and Ron, that she shared classes with. She had to be most careful with them, as they would be the first ones to notice strange behavior being her closest friends, but she could not afford to be careless and let other students notice. She was probably being extremely cautious with this situation, reason why she decided to arrive late to avoid this possibilities. I am also sure that time travel surely isn't that precise, as it involves complicated magic.
    – DarkCygnus
    Sep 6, 2017 at 17:16
  • 5
    I thought it was 1 turn = 1 hour, and Dumbledore was just telling her how much time she'd need. Sep 6, 2017 at 17:32
  • 2
    @MissMonicaE you are right, (Spoiler alert!)...The Ministry of Magic encased an Hour-reversal charm to Time Turners to give them more stability. However, that charm is unstable and benefits from containment , so still even when contained it seems that the 1 turn = 1 hour is not exact but rather an approximation. If not, remember what happened to all those Time Turners in Order of the Phoenix when battling in the MInistry? Got stuck in a loop
    – DarkCygnus
    Sep 6, 2017 at 17:44

There's a hard limit of six hours that the time turner can be used each day. Furthermore, using the time turner put Hermione in a constant state of jet lag. The more hours she used it each day, the more severe the jet lag. So she would be not want to use the full six hours unless she really needed to. The books also suggest that they can be used only in integer multiples of an hour, so she wouldn't have the option of just giving herself a few more minutes.

edit: apparently, it's five hours, not six: https://www.pottermore.com/writing-by-jk-rowling/time-turner

  • 2
    Do you have sources for the max limit and the "jet lag" side effect? Sep 6, 2017 at 20:05
  • 3
    I would expect that the jet lag would come from the fact that her body would expect it to be one time, but the sun is in a different place. Eg, if she used for 3 hours, then it would be as if she travelled from New York to Los Angeles: her body would be 3 hours ahead of the actual time.
    – Mike Caron
    Sep 6, 2017 at 20:23
  • @MikeCaron Assumptions are not sources Sep 7, 2017 at 15:55
  • 5
    @docTimDowd... it's not an assumption, it's simple logic! If you travel back an hour in time you are living that same hour again. It's the same effect as traveling to a different time zone or the change in daylight savings. If you normally wake up at 6a.m. and go to sleep at 10 p.m., you have a 16 hour wake cycle. If you time turn 1 hour, it is a 17 hour wake cycle. 2 hours.. 18 hours. That will make you more tired.
    – JoelFan
    Sep 7, 2017 at 18:37
  • 4
    pottermore.com/writing-by-jk-rowling/time-turner‘ "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." As for jet lag, that is an assumption only insofar as I am assuming that muggle physiology applies. It's possible it doesn't, or there is a magical counter to jet lag. If a muggle were to use a time turner for five hours, then their internal circadian clock would be five hours ahead. Sep 7, 2017 at 19:07

As an addition to the existing answers on the (probable) working on the Time Turner itself, consider the logistics of Hermione keeping it a secret by a) not running into herself, and b) not being caught using it or having to explain it.

Let's assume 1-hour increments of both class times and Turner periods for illustration.

Say she does walk into class A with Harry & Ron as her "first" class; how does she then attend class B? She would need to ditch her friends immediately after leaving class A (or leave A early!) to get to class B - and would still be late. This would be even more out of character than slipping in late and walking out with them, and very difficult to cover up. Then, at the end of class B, she would be walking out of that classroom (possibly across the castle) at the exact moment Harry and Ron are looking around for her. How could she explain taking 10-15 minutes every single day to meet up with them again after vanishing?

Add to this the fact that the Turner is (probably) not exact or consistent, and the plot difficulties of the writer in managing their conversations (and not spoiling the plot twist), and it makes far more sense for her to go to class B first, and arrive late to join her friends in class A. As a bonus, they can't ask questions until later, and have to focus (at least a little) on the lesson material instead of what she's been up to.

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.