Some content in this article is derived from information featured in Harry Potter and the Cursed Child, and, as such, spoilers will be present.
- "The Polyjuice Potion, which is a complex and time-consuming concoction, is best left to highly skilled witches and wizards. It enables the consumer to assume the physical appearance of another person, as long as they have first procured part of that individual's body to add to the brew (this may be anything — toenail clippings, dandruff or worse — but it is most usual to use hair). The idea that a witch or wizard might make evil use of parts of the body is an ancient one, and exists in the folklore and superstitions of many cultures. The effect of the potion is only temporary, and depending on how well it has been brewed, may last anything from between ten minutes and twelve hours. You can change age, sex, and race by taking the Polyjuice Potion, but not species."
- —Description of Polyjuice Potion[src]
Polyjuice Potion is a potion that allows the drinker to assume the form of someone else. It's a complicated and challenging potion that even adult witches and wizards struggle to brew correctly.. The potion is incredibly advanced and has two separate parts that contain steps for each part, when brewing is complete the potion has to stew for a month before usage.
While it can account for both age and gender, Polyjuice Potion cannot be used for a human to take an animal form, nor can it be used on non-humans or half-humans.
Notably, the Polyjuice Potion was used many times in the events leading up to, and during, the Second Wizarding War (and possibly the First Wizarding War, although there are no documented instances of it). The potion also played a crucial role for Harry Potter, Hermione Granger, and Ron Weasley in their second and fourth years. It was also used in Draco Malfoy's plot to smuggle Death Eaters into Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry in 1997, in the Battle of the Seven Potters, and in Harry, Ron and Hermione's Infiltration of the Ministry of Magic and their break-in of Gringotts Wizarding Bank in 1998.
Polyjuice Potion is among the products sold by the Apothecarium of Horace E. F. Slughorn.
- "The recipe can be found in Moste Potente Potions, which is housed in the Restricted Section of the Hogwarts library. It is a very complicated potion and requires ingredients such as lacewing flies, leeches, fluxweed, knotgrass, powdered horn of a Bicorn and shredded skin of a Boomslang as well as a bit of whoever the drinker intends to turn into."
- —Preparations needed to brew the potion[src]
Independent of its actual brewing process, the Polyjuice Potion requires a good deal of preparation prior to making it. For example, the lacewing flies must be stewed for twenty-one days prior to making the potion, and only fluxweed picked at the full moon is acceptable. The total process takes approximately one month to complete.
Part 1, step one
- Add 3 measures of fluxweed to the cauldron (must have been picked on a full moon).
- Add 2 bundles of knotgrass to the cauldron.
- Stir 4 times, clockwise.
- Wave your wand then let potion brew for 80 minutes (for a Pewter Cauldron. A Brass Cauldron will only require 68, and a copper one only 60.)
Part 1, step two
- Add 4 leeches to the cauldron.
- Add 2 scoops of lacewing flies to the mortar, crush to a fine paste, then add 2 measures of the crushed lacewings to the cauldron.
- Heat for 30 seconds on a low heat.
- Wave your wand to complete this stage of the potion.
Part 2, step one
- Add 3 measures of boomslang skin to the cauldron.
- Add 1 measure of bicorn horn to the mortar, crush to a fine powder, then add one measure of the crushed horn to the cauldron.
- Heat for 20 seconds at a high temperature.
- Wave your wand then let potion brew for 24 hours (for a Pewter Cauldron. A Brass Cauldron will only require 1224 minutes, and a copper one only 18 hours.)
Part 2, step two
- Add 1 additional scoop of lacewings to the cauldron.
- Stir 3 times, counter-clockwise.
- Split potion into multiple doses, if desired, then add the pieces of the person you wish to become.
- Wave your wand to complete the potion.
A piece of the person who is to be imitated — usually hair, but toenail clippings, dandruff, or worse can be used — is needed for the transformation; apparently, the person must be alive when the piece is taken, as Barty Crouch Jr kept Alastor Moody alive to continue harvesting his hair.
Before this final ingredient is added, Polyjuice looks like thick, dark mud that bubbles slowly. When the piece of the person to be imitated is added, however, the potion changes colour; it seems to react according to the nature of the person to be imitated, once even described as the 'essence' of the person. Good-hearted people result in more attractive colours and tastes, while mean people cause the opposite effect. Harry Potter's was a pure golden colour, whereas Gregory Goyle's tasted like "overcooked cabbage" and "looked like bogies", Bellatrix Lestrange's tasted "disgusting, worse than Gurdyroots" and Mafalda Hopkirk's was a pleasant heliotrope colour. It is likely that the taste differs from potion to potion.
- "Immediately, his insides started writhing as though he'd just swallowed live snakes — doubled up, he wondered whether he was going to be sick — then a burning sensation spread rapidly from his stomach to the very ends of his fingers and toes — next, bringing him gasping to all fours, came a horrible melting feeling, as the skin all over his body bubbled like hot wax — and before his eyes, his hands began to grow, the fingers thickened, the knuckles were bulging like bolts — his shoulders stretched painfully and a prickling on his forehead told him that his hair was creeping down toward his eyebrows — his robes ripped as his chest expanded like a barrel bursting its hoops — his feet were agony in shoes four sizes too small —"
- —Description of the feeling of drinking Polyjuice Potion[src]
The effects of a single dose last anywhere from ten minutes to twelve hours, depending on how well the potion has been brewed. Continued drinking prior to the transformation wearing off extends the form's duration until the next dosage is required. The complicity of the potion is such that the one Hermione brewed in her second year only lasted one hour per dosage. The effects can be removed prematurely by certain magical defences, such as the Thief's Downfall. It also does not fool the Marauder's Map.
If a person dies while under Polyjuice Potion, as Mrs Crouch did, then they will retain the form of whoever they have transformed into, rather than reverting back to their original shape (although it may be possible that the effects of the potion has not worn off at the time of her death and burial, as she was careful in taking it to the end, and Barty Snr could not retrieve his wife's body in fear of exposing the jailbreak, possibly meaning her body reverted after her burial).
Polyjuice can be used by a person to transform into someone of the other sex. It appears to adapt to account for the age of the person being turned into, as well as any injuries they have acquired, as Barty Crouch, Jr needed a magical eye and wooden leg when he used the potion to turn into Alastor Moody. In addition, congenital conditions of the person will apparently be replicated, as Hermione Granger required spectacles to see clearly after turning into Harry Potter.
The potion is complicated and can go awry. For example, when Hermione brewed Polyjuice in her second year, she intended to take the form of Millicent Bulstrode, but she mistook a cat's hair for Millicent's. The resulting potion caused Hermione to partially transform into a cat. As the Polyjuice Potion cannot be used to successfully transform into an animal, Hermione's change did not reverse after an hour. She went to the Hospital Wing and did not recover until after the winter holidays.
Search for the Heir of Slytherin
- Hermione Granger: "There might be a way. Of course, it would be difficult. And dangerous, very dangerous. We'd be breaking about fifty school rules, I expect… What we'd need to do is to get inside the Slytherin common room and ask Malfoy a few questions without him realising it's us."
- Harry Potter: "But that's impossible."
- Hermione Granger: "No, it's not. All we'd need would be some Polyjuice Potion..."
- — The trio planning to use Polyjuice to interrogate Draco Malfoy[src]
In their second year, Harry Potter, Ron Weasley, and Hermione Granger came to suspect that Draco Malfoy was the Heir of Slytherin. To investigate this, Hermione suggested the use of Polyjuice Potion to enable them to take on the form of Slytherin students and question Malfoy. Masterminding the effort, Hermione obtained the advanced potion's recipe (by getting Professor Lockhart to sign a note authorising her to borrow the book Moste Potente Potions from the library's Restricted Section), pilfered two of the rarer ingredients from Snape's cupboards, and undertook the complex and lengthy brewing of the base Polyjuice Potion.
She also directed how the trio were to acquire the final ingredients — hair from their targets — as well as clothing to complete the disguise. Ultimately, however, though Harry and Ron successfully assumed the appearances of Goyle and Crabbe respectively, Hermione's own attempt to take on the guise of Millicent Bulstrode went awry when Hermione used a cat hair that she had mistaken for Millicent's hair from a hair brush.
Barty Crouch Jr
- Seamus Finnigan: "What's that he's drinking, do you suppose?"
- Harry Potter: "I don't know, but I don't think it's pumpkin juice."
- — Witnessing Crouch drinking from the hip flask[src]
When Barty Crouch Jr was sent to Azkaban for life by his father, his mother requested that her husband allow her to switch places to save their son. Barty Crouch Snr agreed to the switch out of love for his wife. The switch was made with Mrs Crouch and Barty Jr each taking a dose of Polyjuice Potion with each other's hair. Mrs Crouch was careful in drinking her remainder of the potion, until she died, so she could keep the prisoners fooled by maintaining her false appearance.
Between September of 1994 and June of 1995, Barty Crouch Jr used Polyjuice Potion to take on the appearance of Alastor "Mad-Eye" Moody, Hogwarts' new Defence Against the Dark Arts professor, in order to enter Harry Potter into the Triwizard Tournament as part of Lord Voldemort's plot to return to power. Throughout the year, Crouch stole the potion's ingredients from Severus Snape's cupboards, leading Snape to suspect that Harry himself was behind the theft; he drank the potion periodically from Alastor Moody's hip flask, to prevent suspicions. In regards to the piece of the person he was impersonating, he also kept the real Moody within easy reach as a prisoner in his own trunk, as the potion could not impersonate deceased people. Later that year, when Crouch cornered Harry, he forgot to take the potion in excitement (ran out of it in the film version), and was eventually exposed.
Plot against Dumbledore
After Horace Slughorn showed a cauldron of the Polyjuice Potion to his first N.E.W.T. Potions class, Draco Malfoy stole some, and forced Gregory Goyle and Vincent Crabbe to use it continuously throughout the 1996–1997 school year. They would stand watch outside the Room of Requirement disguised as young girls, while Malfoy repaired a Vanishing Cabinet inside, as part of his assignment to assassinate Albus Dumbledore and let Death Eaters into Hogwarts.
Battle of the Seven Potters
The Order of the Phoenix made use of Polyjuice in 1997 in order to safely remove Harry Potter from 4 Privet Drive before his seventeenth birthday. Six people — Hermione Granger, Ron Weasley, Fleur Delacour, Fred and George Weasley, and Mundungus Fletcher — impersonated Harry in order to act as diversions when they were ambushed by Death Eaters despite Harry's initial protests. Soon after, Harry himself used it to disguise himself as "Barny Weasley" at Bill Weasley and Fleur Delacour's wedding.
Infiltration of the Ministry of Magic
The trio used Polyjuice that they stole from Moody to infiltrate the Ministry of Magic to search for Salazar Slytherin's Locket in September of 1997. Dolores Umbridge a high-raking Ministry official was in possession of the item. Harry, Ron, and Hermione disguised themselves as Albert Runcorn, Reginald Cattermole, and Mafalda Hopkirk, respectively. The plan, although full of mistakes and not as well thought out as previously believed, proved to be successful as the trio accomplished their mission. They retrieved the locket and escaped the Ministry with minimum injuries.
- "Bellatrix Lestrange was striding across the lawn toward them, accompanied by Griphook... Though Harry knew it was Hermione, he could not suppress a shiver of loathing."
- —Hermione disguised as Bellatrix[src]
The following year, Hermione used the remaining Polyjuice Potion again as part of the trio's plan to break in to Gringotts in order to retrieve Helga Hufflepuff's Cup from the Lestrange Vault. Using a strand of Bellatrix Lestrange's hair that had fallen on her sweater while Bellatrix interrogated her at Malfoy Manor, Hermione assumed her form. However, there wasn't enough, so Ron had to simply use cosmetic design to disguise himself. The effects of the potion were washed away by the Thief's Downfall at the bank.
The lack of suspicion in anyone in all these incidents leads one to the understanding that Polyjuice Potion is very uncommon. Granted, Severus Snape knew someone was stealing the ingredients from his cupboards and suspected Harry Potter, but that is more indicative of Snape's eagerness to blame Harry for anything than any actual guilt.
2020 Ministry theft
Albus Potter, Scorpius Malfoy, and Delphi used Polyjuice Potion to disguise themselves as Ron Weasley, Harry Potter, and Hermione Granger respectively and sneaked into the Ministry of Magic. Albus, as Ron, convinced Hermione to go elsewhere while they searched her office for a Time-Turner. Solving a series of puzzles from Hermione's bookcase, they finally discovered and stole the Time-Turner.
List of Polyjuice transformations
|Disguised individual||Assumed identity||Date||Flavour/Appearance||Reason|
|Barty Crouch Jr||Mrs Crouch||1982||To switch places with his mother.|
|Mrs Crouch||Barty Crouch Jr||To switch places with her son.|
|Harry Potter||Gregory Goyle||1992||The potion tasted like "overcooked cabbage" to Harry and looked like "bogies", according to Hermione.||To get into the Slytherin common room to spy on Draco Malfoy.|
|Ron Weasley||Vincent Crabbe||The potion was the colour of murky brown. Tasted like bogies.|
|Hermione Granger||Humanoid cat||It turned a sick sort of yellow.||To get into the Slytherin common room to spy on Draco Malfoy, but the hair sample Hermione obtained belonged to Millicent Bulstrode's cat instead of Millicent Bulstrode herself.|
|Barty Crouch Jr||Alastor Moody||1994-1995||Orders from Voldemort||To infiltrate Hogwarts.|
|Vincent Crabbe and Gregory Goyle||Numerous disguises||1996-1997||Orders from Draco||To keep lookout for Draco Malfoy while he worked on fixing the vanishing cabinet inside the Room of Requirement.|
|Ron Weasley, Hermione Granger, Mundungus Fletcher, Fleur Delacour, Fred Weasley and George Weasley||Harry Potter||27 July, 1997||The potion was a "clear, bright gold" in colour and appeared "much tastier" than both Crabbe's and Goyle's.||To transport Harry Potter safely from 4 Privet Drive to The Burrow.|
|Harry Potter||A red-haired Muggle boy||1 August, 1997||As a disguise at the wedding of Bill Weasley and Fleur Delacour.|
|Harry Potter||Albert Runcorn||2 September, 1997||To get in the Ministry of Magic without the use of an invisibility cloak.|
|Hermione Granger||Mafalda Hopkirk||The potion was a "pleasant heliotrope colour".|
|Ron Weasley||Reginald Cattermole|
|Hermione Granger||Muggle woman||December 24th, 1997||To safely navigate Godric's Hollow.|
|Harry Potter||Muggle man|
|Hermione Granger||Bellatrix Lestrange||1 May, 1998||The potion tasted "disgusting, worse than Gurdyroots".||Used to access the Lestranges' vault in Gringotts.|
|Albus Potter||Ron Weasley||1 September, 2020||Used to steal a Ministry Time-Turner.|
|Scorpius Malfoy||Harry Potter||The potion was a "clear, bright gold" in colour.|
The name "Polyjuice" probably comes from the Greek poly, meaning "many". This is supported by the fact that in the Spanish and Brazilian Portuguese translations, it is called, respectively, "multijugos" and "polissuco," both literally meaning "multi juice."
Behind the scenes
- The various adaptations of the series add multiple ingredients not present in the canonical potion recipe, such as Sal Ammoniac, Mercury and Mars, cherries and even urine. Notably, however, the instructions given in the Perfect Potions game in the The Road to Hogwarts Sweepstakes include only those ingredients originally given in the novel.
- Primum ens Melissae is created during the process of brewing this potion.
- Despite its difficulty of brewing and overall rareness of its ingredients, Polyjuice Potion is used and mentioned quite a few times. The Trio uses it numerous times, particularly in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, as do members of the Order of the Phoenix. By the end of the series, almost every single main or supporting character has used it at least once.
- While previous evidence seemed to suggest that the effects of a single dose last for an hour or longer if a larger dose is used, Pottermore indicates that the length of the effect is based entirely on the quality of brewing, ranging anywhere from ten minutes to twelve hours.
- In Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Ron comments "I knew Ginny was lying about that tattoo" after transforming into Harry and observing his bare chest, suggesting that the Polyjuice Potion is capable of replicating cosmetic changes made to a person's body. It is possible, however, that Ron was simply being facetious.
- In the film adaptions in which Polyjuice Potion is used:
- In the film adaptations of Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 1, and Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2, Polyjuice Potion does not cause the drinker's voice to change as well as their appearance. This was most likely done deliberately by the filmmakers to avoid confusing the audience due to the change in appearance. However, Barty Crouch Jr's voice changes to Moody's in Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire (film). However, it is possible he could have just been imitating Moody's voice or there was no need to make this change since the fake Moody was not exposed as Crouch Jr until the end of the film. It does say, however, in the Chamber of Secrets book, that Harry, Ron and Hermione's voices changed after taking it. It also seemed like it was very painful when Crouch changed back (presumably because he was constantly drinking it over the year). Also in the book Crouch was exposed because he forgot to take potion, while in the movie he ran out of potion.
- In Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 1, before the Battle of the Seven Potters, Alastor Moody warns the people taking the potion that it tastes like "goblin piss", suggesting the flavour does not change according to the person intended to be imitated, and that it instead tastes disgusting in the course of the film series.
- In Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 1, Harry and Hermione do not disguise themselves with Polyjuice Potion for their trip to Godric's Hollow on 24 December, 1997.
- In Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 1, Harry does not use the Polyjuice Potion to change into a red haired Muggle boy for Bill and Fleur's wedding, he stays himself.
- In the PlayStation 2, GameCube and Xbox video game adaptations of Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, Draco Malfoy uses the potion to turn into Ron to trick Harry into following him into a trap while trying to find Sirius Black. He even says "Polyjuice Potion......I think we're even now" suggesting that he found out that he and Ron used the potion to disguise as his two lackeys to get into the Slytherin Common Room.
- In LEGO Harry Potter: Years 1-4, Polyjuice Potion is used to turn into any playable character you have unlocked (e.g. if you needed to get into the Slytherin Common Room, you could use Polyjuice to turn into Voldemort, Marcus Flint, or any other Slytherin). It cannot use the potion until the player has completed the third level of The Chamber Of Secrets, "Crabbe and Goyle." Ingredients to make the potion include hair, two cherries, and a green apple. The potion is found rarely throughout the main-story line, but is often found in and around Hogwarts and in Bonus Levels. You know it is a Polyjuice Cauldron because they are the only potion's cauldron that is gold. Outside of Madam Malkin's Robes for All Occasions is one that you do not have to make. This cauldron is here so that the player can test out characters that they have created and/or purchased.
- Polyjuice Potion also returns in LEGO Harry Potter: Years 5-7 wherein it is used in the same manner as it was in the first game. However, in this game Polyjuice Potion can be found in all cauldrons during free-play, and is unlocked after completing the first level of The Deathly Hallows Part 1, "The Seven Potters".
- "I remember creating the full list of ingredients for the Polyjuice Potion. Each one was carefully selected. Lacewing flies (the first part of the name suggested an intertwining or binding together of two identities); leeches (to suck the essence out of one and into the other); horn of a Bicorn (the idea of duality); knotgrass (another hint of being tied to another person); fluxweed (the mutability of the body as it changed into another) and Boomslang skin (a shedded outer body and a new inner).The fact that Hermione is able to make a competent Polyjuice Potion at the age of twelve is testimony to her outstanding magical ability, because it is a potion that many adult witches and wizards fear to attempt."
- Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets (First appearance)
- Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets (film)
- Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets (video game)
- Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban (video game)
- Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire
- Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire (film)
- Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix (Mentioned only)
- Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince
- Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince (film) (Mentioned only)
- Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince (video game)
- Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows
- Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 1
- Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 1 (video game)
- Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2
- Harry Potter and the Cursed Child
- Harry Potter and the Cursed Child (play)
- LEGO Harry Potter: Characters of the Magical World
- LEGO Harry Potter: Years 1-4
- LEGO Harry Potter: Years 5-7
- The Road to Hogwarts Sweepstakes
- Harry Potter: The Character Vault
- Harry Potter: The Creature Vault
- Harry Potter: Hogwarts Mystery (mentioned only)
Notes and references
- ↑ Writing by J.K. Rowling: "Polyjuice Potion" at Pottermore - J.K. Rowling's Thoughts
- ↑ 2.0 2.1 2.2 2.3 2.4 2.5 2.6 2.7 2.8 Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets
- ↑ Pottermore
- ↑ 4.00 4.01 4.02 4.03 4.04 4.05 4.06 4.07 4.08 4.09 4.10 4.11 4.12 4.13 4.14 Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows
- ↑ 5.0 5.1 Pottermore - New from J. K. Rowling - Chapter 12, Moment 2 - Polyjuice Potion
- ↑ 6.0 6.1 6.2 6.3 Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire
- ↑ Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Chapter 5 (Fallen Warrior)
- ↑ Harry Potter and the Cursed Child
- ↑ Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince