In Avengers: Infinity War, Doctor Strange experiences 14,000,605 timeline scenarios, one of which was a win. Why does he proceed to return back to his origin point so he can say he already did it once, just so he can do the same thing again? It already happened and he was there, why not just stay there instead of going back in time to say his plan that worked works?

There are a couple of explanations I can imagine for this. One is that he just says there was one victory every time and it’s always a lie and the actual first victory was the last time.

The other is that the one victory so far just wasn’t good enough so he tries for a better one and just accepts the final outcome, which may or may not be an improvement to the already established win scenario. If that’s the case then I would expect more experimentation to find better and better scenarios after establishing one baseline strategy that works. In either case, actually, finding incrementally better scenarios sounds like the right way to proceed.

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    if i recall he was never in those timelines, he was looking into them like how The Ancient One could see her end
    – Memor-X
    Commented Aug 19, 2019 at 4:57
  • 1
    Perhaps he did go into those timelines, but by doing so made them the non-victorious timelines?
    – SeanR
    Commented Aug 21, 2019 at 13:51
  • Because the time stone didn't allow him to travel in time, only to manipulate the time and see the future.
    – TK-421
    Commented Aug 23, 2019 at 9:27

3 Answers 3


You misunderstood one important thing: Dr. Strange did not travel through time. He just looked into 14mil different possible futures to see the one scenario where they could win. His body stayed in the present all the time, as you can clearly see during this whole scene.

And even if he would have been able to really travel there: this future would not be possible if he left, as e.g. Thanos getting the Time Stone was one important thing in the plan...

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    There is an interview from the Russo brothers on YouTube youtu.be/-7wgC0-xOZE. Starting at 5:14 they say that Dr Strange had to "physically live and die" in each of those timelines. Commented Aug 20, 2019 at 0:20
  • As the above interview shows this answer is incorrect so -1... not that it'll have much of an effect considering the high score here. (FWIW this would appear to have been the correct answer prior to a few days ago due to the wording in IW [though that could be interpreted both ways: looked and travelled.] but has now been contradicted). Commented Aug 21, 2019 at 9:59
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    @TheLethalCarrot I'm pretty sure that just means he had to experience them as if he was physically embodied as the Steven Strange in each of those timelines; so his mind experienced millions of years of subjective time (or maybe less, if he died immediately in most of them). There's no evidence that his actual body from this timeline travelled to those other ones and then came back here, and it wouldn't make much sense since he was looking at possible futures, not alternate realities where a Steven Strange suddenly appeared from this reality.
    – Ben
    Commented Aug 22, 2019 at 3:04
  • @TheLethalCarrot - While I am aware at how petulant I am about to come across and I ultimately respect the fantastic score that Torsten has attracted with his answer, I am not too proud to admit that I was momentarily miffed after providing the first answer which not only provided a viable explanation regardless of whether he actually lived or just witnessed the scenarios ,my final paragraph was subsequently copied into the accepted answer well after it was posted. Ultimately though, it is just sour grapes on my part as once the OP accepted it the site had done its job ;-D. Commented Aug 22, 2019 at 10:09
  • Did you check the edits of my answer? The final paragraph had been there from the very beginning...
    – Tode
    Commented Aug 22, 2019 at 11:35

I may stand to be corrected as I have only seen Endgame twice back in May, but it seems, especially towards the very climax, that he slightly shepherds the last few moments towards the win, such as his words to Tony - "If I tell you how it ends it may not happen that way" (or something similar) and right at the very end, it seems that both Tony are on the very same page as he gives some sort of wink or encouragement with regard to him making the snap.

He also may have had to return to the starting point in order to be able to surrender the Time Stone and prevent Thanos from killing Tony - regardless of whether he was just observing or actually living (or being snapped out of) the scenarios.

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    His exact words IIRC are: "If I tell you what happens, it won't happen."
    – F1Krazy
    Commented Aug 19, 2019 at 12:48
  • Not to mention that if he hadn't brought hundreds (thousands?) of reinforcements the few avengers there would have died very quickly. Commented Aug 19, 2019 at 18:11
  • 3
    IIRC, the "wink or encouragement" that Dr. Strange provides is him pointing upward with his index finger, as if counting to one. This seems to indicate that this "future", with the remaining Avengers going on the time heist and constructing their own Infinity Gauntlet, was indeed the winning scenario that Dr. Strange saw.
    – TheHans255
    Commented Aug 22, 2019 at 2:47
  • @F1Krazy Yes, which is a modern translation of something that used to be described as "To know the path is to deviate from it"
    – Mast
    Commented Aug 22, 2019 at 6:52

I think you're taking it too literally when they said Dr. Strange has to physically live and die in those timelines. I agree with a previous post that he doesn't actually travel to those timelines. I think what the directors meant was that he wasn't just observing the possibilities; he actually had to go through and experience each and every scenario. So there was no "staying in the winning timeline".

I think your theory of Dr. Strange lying and that we are actually watching the winning scenario is a bit too cheeky and diminishes the dramatic notion of him only finding one scenario in over millions of scenarios.

Same thing with your "trial and error" theory. It lowers the stakes of their situation and I don't think that's what the directors had in mind.


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