Shadowhunters is an action-packed show, there is no denying it. However, the action is not the only thing packed tightly together. More often than not, things get a little blurry time wise. Interviews with the cast make it clear that very little time has passed, while a lot has happened.
However, how much little time has passed exactly? The stakes are high at every turn but so is our curiosity. How long has it been since Clary found out about her angelical origins? What old exactly is Alec and Magnus’ relationship? For how long is Luke the Alpha?
Without further ado, let’s do this. This article will cover only the timeline of Season 1. For Season 2, please check out this article.
First of all, it’s important to set clear references points. The first season starts with Clary’s eighteenth birthday. According to the Mortal Instrument’s Wikia page, Clary was born on August 23rd. That fixes the starting date of the show.
We also know that Season 1 lasts for nineteen days. Therefore, the season started on Aug 23rd and ended on Sep 10th. Using these two dates as a reference, the timeline should look something like this:
The Mortal Cup (1×01): Aug 23rd to Aug 25th
The pilot starts on August 23rd and lasts for the expense of four days, ending on the evening of August 25th. We know this because we accompanied Clary’s life. She spends her birthday doing the last interview for her college application and then goes to Pandemonium at night to celebrate her birthday.
After witnessing the Lightwood trio fighting a demon, Clary goes back home and then ends up at Luke’s police station at 2am on the 24th. Clary manages to get back home and is attacked by a demon. After Jace saves her, he takes Clary to the Institute, where she remains unconscious and healing, only answering Simon’s call “two days” after her disappearance on the night between the 23rd and the 24th.
The Descent into Heel Isn’t Easy (1×02): Aug 25th to Aug 26th
Episode 1×02 starts on the evening of the 25th. Simon comes to the Institute at that point and he and Clary have a discussion about her sanity before Izzy distracts him. They also eat breakfast together. The next action scene is of Luke burning down Jocelyn’s apartment. However, before that, there is a quick shot of day light and then one of New York at night. I believe that symbolizes a day went by and we are now on the night of the 26th.
During that night, Dot goes to Magnus and is kidnapped by Circle members. The shadowhunters then spend the night at the City of Bones and Clary finds out Valentine is her father. By the end of the night, Simon is taken by the vampires. Raphael tells the shadowhunters he will trade Simon by the Cup.
Dead Man’s Party (1×03): Aug 26th
This is when things start to get confusing. There isn’t a clear passage of time, as all scenes are shot either at night or inside a lit-up place. However, the Lightwoods and Clary come to Simon’s rescue at night time and leave during the following morning.
I’ve chosen to assume that was still on the night of 26th because the shadowhunters’ plan of action was quick to happen. Izzy went to gather information on how to get inside Hotel DuMort while Alec and Jace found unsanctioned weapons. The four shadowhunters arrive at DuMort at night, but while they were in there, dawn broke and it happened fast. If not, Alec wouldn’t have been able to kill the vampire holding Clary with sunlight. We end this episode on the morning of the 27th.
Raising Hell (1×04): Aug 27th to Aug 28th
Episode 1×04 spreads through two days. After Clary wakes up from her nightmare, she asks Simon if he shouldn’t be in the infirmary. That indicates some time has passed since they arrived from Hotel DuMort. Alec and Hodge are still sleeping too and there’s a scene of Alaric taunting Luke for eating teriyaki at 9 am. Furthermore, Izzy found the pamphlet of the downworlder rave during a surveillance of downworlders, which presumably happened in the last couple of days. All that indicates at least a day has passed.
The party happens at night and then the shadowhunters go after Magnus at his lair. The episode ends on the early morning of the 28th, before sunrise.
Moo Shu to Go (1×05): Aug 28th
2×15 picks up right after the end of the last episode, judging by Clary’s clothes. She tells Jace about her vision of Valentine. This is the episode where Maryse arrives and sends Izzy and Jace to talk to Meliorn while Alec is supposed to babysit Clary.
Which means there are shots outside in daylight as Clary runs away from the Institute and Simon and she are kidnapped by the werewolves. They are rescued by the Lightwood and Luke at night time on the same day.
Of Men and Angels (1×06): Aug 28th
This is probably the most confusing episode of the season, time wise. Simon, Clary, and Jace arrive at Magnus’ with a dying Luke still on the night of the 28th, judging by the urgency of Luke’s wounds.
Somehow, the entire episode lasts for just a couple of hours as Magnus helps Luke recover from his wounds while Alec and Izzy deal with Maryse at the Institute. There are many scenes on the outside, but all of them happen at night. And what a long night at that.
Major Arcana (1×07): Aug 29th
Episode 1×07 starts in the morning of the 29th, as evidenced by Maureen and Simon’s scene. The day passes by as Clary, Alec, Izzy, and Jace extract the tarot card in which the Mortal Cup is hidden from Luke’s precinct. Simon spends the day at home and goes to Hotel DuMort at night, when he is killed by Camille.
Bad Blood (1×08): Aug 29th to 30th
Episode 1×08 picks up at the same night (29th), when Raphael brings Simon’s body to Clary and the shadowhunters. Raphael explains Simon has to be buried before the following sunrise. Therefore, only a day passes as Clary debates whether to bring Simon back as a vampire or not.
This is also the episode where Lydia arrives at the Institute. Together with Alec, she investigates a Forsaken attack at the Jade Wolf during the day. It is night time when Alec proposes to Lydia after finding out his parents were Circle members, the Institute is attacked by a Forsaken, and Simon comes back as a vampire.
Rise Up (1×09): Aug 30th to Aug 31th
The timeline of this episode is an utter mess. It only makes sense within the episode if it all happens in one night. However, that is impossible considering the timeline of the season. It is still the night of the 30th when episode 1×09 starts, as a recently-turned Simon is running lose. Clary keeps looking for him while Jace learns the Institute was attacked by a Forsaken. At the same time, Lydia has Meliorn brought in and interrogated.
None of this makes sense, and that’s not even half of the episode. Therefore, I am assuming a day passed by as those things happened. Simon made it home before sunrise and, during the day, Meliorn was interrogated and Lydia decided to take him to the Silent Brothers. Meanwhile, Alec tells his family of his engagement and Clary tracks Simon back to his house with Luke’s help.
At night, Clary and Simon go to Raphael as she is being hunted by the Clave. This is when Lydia scheduled Meliorn’s transfer to the City of Bones. Together, the vampires and the werewolves attack the shadowhunters while Izzy, Clary, and Jace set Meliorn free.
This World Inverted (1×10): Aug 31st
It is day time when episode 1×10 starts, as Meliorn leads Clary and Jace to the portal to the other dimension. It’s safe to assume the episode takes over the day and night of the 31st, as it’s day time when Izzy gets back to the Institute after helping Meliorn escape.
We accompany the passage of time with the scenes with Meliorn. He first opens the portal to the other dimension during the day, but it is night time when he and Jace are attacked by a demon.
Blood Calls to Blood (1×11): Sep 1st
We find Luke and Simon in the Jade Wolf during the day, as Simon has to stay away from the windows. At the same time, Inquisitor Herondale arrives and speeds up Izzy’s trial for that very evening.
We accompany the plan to rescue Jocelyn be thought-out during the day and Alec go to Magnus to act as Izzy’s attorney. At night, the trial takes place. While that is happening, Clary, Jace, and Luke have a go at the Circle members and Valentine reveals himself. He tells Clary and Jace they are brother and sister. Clary is back to the Institute on the same night and the Cup is returned to the Institute.
Malec (1×12): (probably) Sep 7th to Sep 9th
Izzy is almost done preparing the wedding, which means some time has passed. Alec goes to visit Magnus during the day and, some time afterward, Magnus is called into the Institute to discuss the possible warlocks that helped Jocelyn with her sleeping potion. Since Magnus’ visit is around 9 am, those two things did not happen on the same day. It is impossible to know for sure how long has passed between these two scenes. However, judging by Magnus’ discomfort to be in the Institute, it is not a wild guess to place that meeting on the following day after Alec and Magnus’ talk.
A little before Magnus’ consulting visit, Clary calls Simon and asks him to be her date to the wedding. She tells him it will take place on the following night. Therefore, Jace, Clary, and Magnus’ mission to talk to Ragnor most likely happened on the 8th, with the wedding taking place on the night of the 9th.
Morning Star (1×13): Sep 9th to Sep 10th
Everyone is still in their wedding attires, so it’s the same night. Hodge gets to Valentine and he starts to ascend mundanes into shadowhunters. Jace hunts Hodge down until morning comes, while Clary, Simon, Alec, and Magnus go after Camille. It is daytime when they found her at her home.
The season ends at nighttime, with the revelation of Valentine’s army of shadowhunters.
When people say things happened fast, they really mean it. Simon has been a vampire for 11 days, while Clary has been a shadowhunter for around 18 days, counting the first time she was runed. Lydia has been the Head of the Institute for 11 days when the season ended. Luke has been pack-leader for 13 days. Jocelyn was held captive for 10 days and she spent 17 under the effects of the sleeping potion.
Romance wise, there hasn’t been much time since the two main couples got together (and one of them fell apart). Alec and Magnus knew each other for two weeks before their first kiss. Clary and Jace knew each other for even less before theirs; only seven days, one of which Clary spent unconscious and recovering. They think they are brother and sister for a longer period of time than the time between their first and last kiss in the season (a little more than a week versus three days).
All and all, the season moves fast but it makes sense. The driving force of Season 1 is Clary’s search for her mother, which means a sense of urgency fits the genre. If this season could be given a particular genre, it would be a thriller. Therefore, the intensity and quick speed help drive home the theme.