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It seems like it would be a very helpful device.

Why was it never used again, regardless of the purpose?

  • 2
    See also the later question scifi.stackexchange.com/questions/11946 – b_jonas May 18 '12 at 19:46
  • See also the same question on Movies & TV SE: movies.stackexchange.com/questions/124 Why does Harry only make use of time travel in The Prisoner of Azkaban? – b_jonas May 2 '14 at 17:50
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    In the original novels it was a Time Turnip, and I guess it just went off, or turnips were out of season. – Gaius Jan 16 '16 at 23:14
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    Doesn't seem duplicate of cited VTC reason, as that's more specific to major events. This is more simply WHY wasn't it used again at all. – Meat Trademark Jan 24 '16 at 11:13
  • My answer contains WoG information from Pottermore, if you like that better. – ibid Apr 10 '16 at 4:08
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The Ministry regulates their control and usage, to stop people mucking about with them. When the Time-Turner is first introduced, Hermione tells us that

Professor McGonagall made me swear I wouldn’t tell anyone. She had to write all sorts of letters to the Ministry of Magic so I could have one. She had to tell them that I was a model student, and that I’d never, ever use it for anything except my studies.

Prisoner of Azkaban, chapter 21 (Hermione’s Secret)

From this, we can assume that the majority, if not all, Time Turners were under Ministry license and control. (It’s possible one or two might be elsewhere, cf. unregistered Animagi). They’re obviously a subject of intense research in the Dept. of Mysteries, as we see in OotP. In the battle to escape, the Ministry stock is apparently destroyed:

The baby-headed Death Eater was screaming and banging into things, toppling grandfather clocks and overturning desks, bawling and confused, while the glass cabinet that Harry now suspected had contained Time-Turners continued to fall, shatter, and repair itself on the wall behind them.

Order of the Phoenix, chapter 35 (Beyond the Veil)

Hermione confirms this in the beginning of HBP, when explaining to Hagrid why the trio didn’t take Care of Magical Creatures:

“Ar, I always knew yeh’d find it hard ter squeeze me inter yeh timetables,” he said gruffly, pouring them more tea. “Even if yeh applied fer Time-Turners—”

“We couldn’t have done,” said Hermione. “We smashed the entire stock of Ministry Time-Turners when we were there in the summer. It was in the Daily Prophet.”

Half-Blood Prince, chapter 11 (Hermione’s Helping Hand)

So that explains why the Time Turner couldn’t be used again, from a practical standpoint.


What follows is definitely an out-of-universe explanation, but I include it because I think that it’s interesting.

In many ways, once we know about Time Turners and Voldemort is back, we need to write them out of the story. They’re an insanely useful tool to have in a wizarding war: you could pre-empt and warn yourself of any duel or attack, wipe your opponents from existence or look forward to see the result of a plan. Introduce time travel, and everything becomes very complicated. (That's not to say that you couldn't make a good story from that; indeed, something like Doctor Who thrives on that, but it doesn't fit in Harry Potter.)

For example, you could go back in time and multiply yourself in a duel. Even Dumbledore would stand little or no chance if facing ten Voldemorts. Sure, there are laws governing their use, but Voldemort would be unlikely to pay attention to them. (Plus, he controls the Ministry, so he could repeal them if he really wanted.) Once Voldemort obtains a Time Turner, things go downhill fast for the Order. We remedy the potential damage time travel causes by destroying them entirely.

It's possible that any Time Turners not stored at the Ministry were later destroyed separately, for that reason: to stop Voldemort getting his hands on them. And while the Ministry might have been able to create new ones, they may have chosen not to, for the same reason. Or perhaps, behind closed doors, they might have been working on it, even if it never came to fruition.

Time travel provides a very deus ex machina solution, and had to go. It just so happened that Neville was the way that they went.


Finally, there was another Sci-fi SE question about nine months ago about the use of Muggle weapons that's worth reading. The questions are broadly linked. Introducing guns and/or time travel to Harry Potter would have ruined the atmosphere.

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    Great answer! +1 -- Here's a link to a pretty thorough essay on time travel in Potterverse if you're interested: sugarquill.net/index.php?action=gringotts&st=timetravel – Slytherincess Jan 8 '12 at 15:13
  • You're very welcome! I am always fascinated by the mechanics and rules of Potterverse :) – Slytherincess Jan 9 '12 at 1:31
  • It doesn't fit Harry Potter. I agree, but I think Dumbledore had a quote about eating one's words that might be needed now. :) – Adamant Jul 31 '16 at 7:16
  • deus ex machina .. Nice choice of words!! – CCCC Aug 22 at 16:15
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Quoting from Rowling's Pottermore article on Time Turners: (one of the many parts not carried over to the new Pottermore)

I solved the problem to my own satisfaction in stages. Firstly, I had Dumbledore and Hermione emphasise how dangerous it would be to be seen in the past, to remind the reader that there might be unforeseen and dangerous consequences as well as solutions in time travel. Secondly, I had Hermione give back the only Time-Turner ever to enter Hogwarts. Thirdly, I smashed all remaining Time-Turners during the battle in the Department of Mysteries, removing the possibility of reliving even short periods in the future.

  • Her comments, in the article you shared, give so much clarity to this question. She herself realised that having a Time-Turner would be such an easy fix (that it had to removed from the subsequent parts of the series) when she says - "I went far too light-heartedly into the subject of time travel in Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban. While I do not regret it (Prisoner of Azkaban is one of my favourite books in the series), it opened up a vast number of problems for me, because after all, if wizards could go back and undo problems, where were my future plots?" – CCCC Aug 22 at 16:45
6

All the Time-Turners, which the Ministry of Magic had full control over, were destroyed in the Battle of the Department of Mysteries in Order of the Phoenix.

Harry stuck his head out of the door and looked around cautiously. The baby-headed Death Eater was screaming and banging into things, toppling grandfather clocks and overturning desks, bawling and confused, while the glass-fronted cabinet that Harry now suspected had contained Time-Turners continued to fall, shatter and repair itself on the wall behind them.

Order of the Phoenix - Page 700 - British Hardcover

Time-Turners at the Leaky Cauldron

  • Very interesting! Couldn't they just make more? Hermione says they got rid of their entire 'stock', presumably the ones that broke in OotP, were there no replacements? – AncientSwordRage Jan 7 '12 at 22:14
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    It seems reasonable to assume that creating a Time-Turner is both difficult and dangerous; seems likely that any wizards capable of doing it were far too busy following Voldemort's public reappearance. – Tynam Jan 7 '12 at 22:26
4

It was!

The other answers do a very good job of explaining the plentiful dangers of using Time Turners for serious things: erasing people from existence, damaging time itself, and so forth.

From Harry Potter and the Cursed Child:

SCORPIUS: Have you heard me, Albus? This is bigger than you and your dad. Professor Croaker’s law — the furthest someone can go back in time without the possibility of serious harm to the traveler or time itself is five hours.

They do make another appearance, though.

In Harry Potter and the Cursed Child, not one but two Time-Turners are integral to the plot.

They were utilized several times, with various effects:

Albus and Scorpius used them to try to right Cedric's death, while the main antagonist, Delphini, tried to save Lord Voldemort.

  • 1
    You may also want to note that these were "advanced" time turners. – Valorum Jul 31 '16 at 9:27
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    @Valorum - They were indeed. – Adamant Jul 31 '16 at 9:29
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Because in the 5th book, The Order of Phoenix, in the epic battle that took place in the Ministry, all the time turners were destroyed.

0

I reason that as the time turners were stored in the department of mysteries, they may well have been the invention of a very intelligent wizard or witch. Making replicas possibly involved knowledge that was elusive to even the greatest wizards or witches of that age, hence a mystery.

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