While If there's only one timeline, how could Doctor Strange have seen 14 million of them? was theoretical (people commented Doctor Strange may have seen only potential timelines), if there is only one true Sacred Timeline according to the Time Variance Authority (TVA), then why did the Ancient One clearly state exactly the opposite about her actual timeline?

The Infinity Stones create what you experience as the flow of time. Remove one stone and that flow splits. Now, this may benefit your reality but my new one, not so much. In this new branched reality, without our chief weapon against the forces of darkness, our world will be over run. Millions will suffer. So, tell me Doctor, can your science prevent all that?

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    Again we don't know that the TVA's "Sacred Timeline" is what they say it is. There is significant expectations that the TVA is a front for Kang. I don't think that there will be answer to this until Loki has completed it's run.
    – Paulie_D
    Jun 18, 2021 at 18:18
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    and as was commented elsewhere "It's not that there's only one possible future; it's that there's only one possible future that the TVA deems correct else it will step in to put things back how they should be."
    – Paulie_D
    Jun 18, 2021 at 18:20
  • About the first comment, I can't tell of course. But as for the second one, I guess I somehow expect the Ancient One to know that...
    – LWC
    Jun 19, 2021 at 19:20
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    Aye, you've got to remember the context of what we've seen. Everything the Ancient One says is true, time will branch if that happens. However, everything that we see in Loki is also true and they're not independent of each other. Remember we've also seen branching timelines in Loki. It's just the the TVA exists to remove branching timelines that they deem to be incorrect. Jun 21, 2021 at 8:42
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    @Joachim she describes it's completely possible to have more than one timeline. The only thing that bothers that bothers her is the lack of time stone for defence.
    – LWC
    Jun 30, 2021 at 17:34

2 Answers 2


What she was saying is not incongruent with the TVA. Without the TVA there could be millions of timelines, right? The TVA just enforces the 'main' one (whatever they determine that is). When you mess with time you create the potentials for variants - the Ancient One was essentially saying that when you take out the time stone then the Hulk would be creating a variant timeline; her new one since, presumably, she knows how her timeline is supposed to go. She's supposed to deliver the time stone to doctor strange and then die in the hospital.

Doctor Strange saw 14 million potential timelines. He didn't have access to know which was the 'official' TVA timeline - which is presumably the one that occurred in End Game - he just saw 14 million variant potentials.

  • As mentioned, it's a different question (variant) than Doctor Strange's. She sounded like having a secondary timeline is perfectly acceptable except not having protections in it due to the missing time stone.
    – LWC
    Jun 29, 2021 at 18:24
  • There could be different timelines. The TVA enforces the 'main' one, whatever they deem that one to be. You're assuming the Ancient One knows of the TVA and what they consider is the 'main' timeline. Another thing to consider is this, why would the Ancient One care about what the TVA considers the 'correct' timeline? Jul 1, 2021 at 21:59
  • Yes, I expect someone called "the Ancient One" to know about TVA. And if she does know, that's what she should be scared of, as her new timeline is likely to get erased.
    – LWC
    Jul 2, 2021 at 8:15
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    Why? Seriously, why would she know about them? Especially since magic works differently in the TVA and they can wipe people's minds and disintegrate people. Jul 2, 2021 at 13:21

Infinity stones are very capable of creating branched timelines.

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The TVA has a desk draw filled with a host of infinity stones, presumably from pruned timelines where they were used for the wrong purpose. Timestones are very able to generate variant energy and create new timelines if used for the wrong purpose due to their immense power, like the other infinity stones. As such, the timestone being able to simulate these other timelines it could create is a pretty understandable power.

If he did create these timelines then he would be pruned, but he has the freedom of choice to create them. The infinity stone isn't necessarily able to predict well the actions of the TVA since their home is immune to its powers and so he might not see himself being pruned.

The Ancient One may well have some idea about the TVA.

The Loki writers hinted she did.

"We don't really know. It would be interesting if they did," Waldron told The Direct. "I think what we see with the TVA is, whereas the folks at Kamar-Taj are dealing things in a magical way, the TVA is paperwork. It's bureaucracy. It appears to be a little more science-based."

If she did know about them, her statement is accurate. Their branch may be pruned by the TVA, and millions would suffer.

She doesn't necessarily know the full picture. She sees things from a magic side of things, which may well carry hints, but not all of the picture. -- Doctor Strange.

The Ancient One: Each of those maps was drawn up by someone who could see in part, but not the whole.
Dr. Stephen Strange: I spent my last dollar getting here on a one-way ticket, and you’re talking to me about healing through belief?
The Ancient One: You’re a man who’s looking at the world through a keyhole, and you spent your whole life trying to widen that keyhole. To see more, know more. And now, on hearing that it can be widened in ways you can’t imagine, you reject the possibility?

In Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness we may see how much they know about the TVA. What they do know will likely be mystical, not scientific.

  • "Their branch may be pruned by the TVA, and millions would suffer." - she stated millions would suffer but not because of this reason.
    – LWC
    Jul 4, 2021 at 18:54
  • Sure, she didn't state why people would suffer, but there's no disagreement between her statement and the existence of the TVA. She stated an incomplete truth, but a truth.
    – Nepene Nep
    Jul 4, 2021 at 19:46
  • She did state why people would suffer - because her specific timeline won't have the time stone for protection. It's a whole other reason.
    – LWC
    Jul 4, 2021 at 22:22
  • Which is accurate. If the time stone is in the wrong place, variance energy would spike as events changed massively. Anyone who should have been stopped by the time stone wouldn't be, increasing variance energy.
    – Nepene Nep
    Jul 5, 2021 at 5:53

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