When Lucy returns from Narnia after her first visit, her siblings open the wardrobe to confirm her story. However, they find it to be a normal wardrobe.

Why did the wardrobe work the first time, but not the second time?

  • 34
    Aslan determines whether it works or not.
    – BBlake
    Sep 26, 2012 at 18:47
  • 4
    I think in the movie it only works, if you do not intend to go to Narnia. If you want to find the passage it is only a wardrobe.
    – Till B
    Sep 26, 2012 at 19:48
  • IIRC in the book it works every second time they try it. So it alternates.
    – Kevin
    May 19, 2018 at 23:08

2 Answers 2


@TillB is correct, the wardrobe only worked when you didn't expect to anything to be there. It was the same in both the book and the movie.

Here's an excerpt from the book, right at the very end. The bolding is mine, to emphasize what's relevant to the question, but the italics are in the book itself.

And that would have been the very end of the story if it hadn't been that they felt they really must explain to the Professor why four of the coats out of his wardrobe were missing. And the Professor, who was a very remarkable man, didn't tell them not to be silly or not to tell lies, but believed the whole story. "No," he said, "I don't think it will be any good trying to go back through the wardrobe door to get the coats. You won't get into Narnia again by that route. Nor would the coats be much use by now if you did! Eh? What's that? Yes, of course you'll get back to Narnia again someday. Once a King in Narnia, always a King in Narnia. But don't go trying to use the same route twice. Indeed, don't try to get there at all. It'll happen when you're not looking for it. And don't mention it to anyone else unless you find that they've had adventures of the same sort themselves. What's that? How will you know? Oh, you'll know all right. Odd things they say - even their looks - will let the secret out. Keep your eyes open. Bless me, what do they teach them at these schools?"

While it is technically Aslan who pulls the children into Narnia whenever people from our world are needed, he does seem to consistently only do it when we don't expect it.

And this isn't really the ramblings of an old man; the Professor is Digory Kirke from The Magician's Nephew - he was in Narnia while Aslan created that world, got there by way of his uncle's magic rings, and was the one that created the wardrobe from the remains of a tree whose seed was from Narnia. He may not know everything about it, but he does have some experience with magic.

  • I should point out that, though he does have some experience in magic, his own experience is contradictory to how he got there. He gets there by "trying" through the use of the rings.
    – NominSim
    Sep 26, 2012 at 23:35
  • @NominSim It's also more along the lines of "there are rules, magic isn't completely random", like Lucy and the others may have been thinking. They didn't make the connection between wanting to get to Narnia and otherwise, so it would've seemed random to them.
    – Izkata
    Sep 26, 2012 at 23:44
  • 5
    @NominSim: not true. He got to Narnia, specifically, by not trying: he brought the Witch to the Wood between the Worlds and was hoping to take her back to her own world, but entered the Narnia pool by mistake. Sep 27, 2012 at 10:53
  • @DanielRoseman That's why "trying" was in quotes. He wasn't aware of Narnia at the time, but presumably getting to the World between the Worlds would allow travel to any of the worlds linked to by the pools.
    – NominSim
    Sep 27, 2012 at 13:54

Thats not right, look at the facts. Lucy opened the wardrobe once and didn't expect anything to be in it. But another time in the night she opened it again and she knew before what was there from the last time she went to Narnia and when Edmund opened the wardrobe, he had followed Lucy through last time the wardrobe was opened thus he expected something to be there when he opened so from now on I have officially debunked this mythology.

  • While I see your point, one could argue that maybe Edmund didn't actually expect to find something. You know, just his little sister crying while hidden in fur coats, no "special world" of some kind. Then, since he wasn't looking for it, Narnia took him in. EDIT: of course, if you have other instances of such inconsistencies, be sure to add them in your answer :) (preferrably with quotes from the source material to demonstrate your point)
    – Jenayah
    May 20, 2018 at 1:23
  • The second time Lucy went into Narnia, she really did wonder whether the adventure had all been a dream of some kind. She may have hoped to find Narnia again but she wasn't sure; so the Wardrobe let her through. Edmund, meanwhile, had no intention of going to Narnia even if he had believed in it; all he wanted to do was taunt his sister.
    – Wallnut
    Sep 20, 2018 at 8:16

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