Dr. Strange uses the Time Stone to see like a lot of possibilities (don't remember exact number) and says that, in only one of them do the Avengers win.

When Thanos is about to kill Iron Man, Dr. Strange agrees to give the Time Stone.

Later, just before Dr. Strange dies he says, "this was the only way". This being giving Thanos the Time Stone.

If Dr. Strange knew that giving the Time Stone to Thanos was only way then why did he put up a fight with Thanos?

I have a theory, perhaps he wanted to save Iron Man.

The dwarven blacksmiths followed Thanos orders. Still he killed all but one. If Dr. Strange would have directly given him the Time Stone, Thanos still could have killed all the heroes on Titan that time.

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    @JigarGandhi We don't put the question body behind the spoiler block as long as the title is spoiler free. After that, read it at your own risk.
    – A J
    Commented Apr 28, 2018 at 18:47
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    @DannyRodriguez He crumbles to dust like the rest of those who are eliminated by Thanos' Infinity finger-snap
    – TylerH
    Commented Apr 30, 2018 at 18:24
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    Concerning the last paragraph, the dwarves were killed in the past, and Dr. Strange looked for futures where Thanos loses. Not sure he knows about the dwarves' fate
    – Taladris
    Commented May 2, 2018 at 13:53
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    Anyone who has played Life is Strange will be smugly rubbing their chins in understanding at this turn of events....
    – user43022
    Commented May 4, 2018 at 7:08
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    My theory is that Thanos winning is the one way to have humanity survive, i.e. Dr. Strange saw into the far future where all humans are extinct, not near future where only the Avengers are killed. Naturally, nobody else would agree with that, so he had to hide that fact and find an excuse to give the stone to Thanos. Commented Mar 3, 2019 at 11:42

9 Answers 9


It might be explained in the sequel of this movie, but till then there is a simple explanation.

As you mentioned that he wanted to save Iron Man, it is possible that Dr. Strange gave the Time Stone to Thanos to spare Tony's life because he saw something important. If we go a bit behind in the movie, we saw that Dr. Strange saw a millions futures and there was only one which they could win in.

Though we don't know what exactly Dr. Strange saw in those future, it's possible that he saw something, something important, related to Iron Man, which could give them a chance to fight again and help them win the battle against Thanos.

Update: and in the Endgame, as mentioned in my other answer,

He must have seen that Tony will be the one who will invent the time travel formula and build a second Infinity Gauntlet (of course with help of Professor Hulk) and will then snap Thanos and his army in Endgame.

Even when Iron Man asks Strange if this is the future where they win, Dr. Strange says,

If I tell you what happens, it won't happen.

They have to keep the fight going as per that win future Strange saw.

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    Everything is hypothesis till the next movie comes but, I would like to bet on this "it's possible that he saw something, something important, related to Iron Man, which could give them a chance to fight again and help them win the battle against Thanos" Commented Apr 29, 2018 at 17:51
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    I agree with this. Dr Strange is playing the long game and sees the future into the next film and that Stark is the person who is absolutely key to the survival of the team (and the other half of the universe in general), so ensures Stark's immunity before giving himself up.
    – user43022
    Commented May 4, 2018 at 7:04
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    Keep in mind that when Strange looks at all of these futures, he presumably can also see EVERYTHING that happens leading up to it. This includes fighting Thanos before eventually giving up the stone to save Stark. In the single winning-future that he saw, it required the fight to go exactly as it did.
    – Zip Zap J
    Commented May 4, 2018 at 13:40
  • The "future where they win" of course being the future where Tony chooses to commits suicide in order to save half the people in the universe. This isn't exactly a happy message.
    – Graham
    Commented Apr 1, 2021 at 9:07

He watches several million outcomes and determines that only one path to victory exists.

Presumably he will have seen the exact sequence of events that need to occur for things to work out in their favour, which will likely have included the fight with Thanos itself.

It may become clearer in the sequel how things work themselves out, but possibly the way Strange held onto and then gave up the stone will prove in some way key to the final resolution (perhaps even just that Tony Stark is needed to win the day in the end)

Edit after Endgame release:

Tony Stark was indeed absolutely key to the one in 14,000,605 possible futures viewed by Dr Strange, for a few reasons:

  1. Tony was the only person who could have figured out the "time travel GPS" device
  2. Tony was the one who realised that they could gain more Pym Particles and the Tesseract by jumping to 1970 after the problems collecting it in 2012
  3. Tony designed and built the new gauntlet using his nanotech
  4. Tony was the one who performed the final snap to destroy Thanos and his army

Doctor Strange's actions indicate two priorities, based on his analysis of possible futures

STRANGE : I went forward in time... to view alternate futures. To see all the possible outcomes of the coming conflict.

QUILL : How many did you see?

STRANGE : Fourteen million six hundred and five.

STARK : How many did we win?

STRANGE : ...One.

Priority One: Save Tony Stark

At the outset, Doctor Strange is unimpressed by Stark and indicates that his priority is the Time Stone.

STRANGE: [to STARK] If it comes to saving you, or the kid, or the Time Stone, I will not hesitate to let either of you die.

However, Doctor Strange completely reverses this after his analysis of possible futures and the subsequent battle with Thanos.

STRANGE: [to THANOS] Spare his life and I will give you the Stone.

Priority Two: Surrender the stone to Thanos, without giving any clue that he intends this all along

Doctor Strange declines to use the Time Stone in battle against Thanos, despite having clear opportunity to do so. Strange's only realistic hope of victory in battle was to match his Stone against Thanos' collections of Infinity Stones, and Thanos even notes the decision in passing.

THANOS: [to STRANGE] You’re full of tricks wizard. But you never once used your greatest weapon...

There are a number of analyses on the Internet that back up this summary:

  • Why Doctor Strange Definitely Needed To Make That Terrible Trade In Avengers: Infinity War from CinemaBlend
  • If Doctor Strange's goal was to get Thanos to let his guard down, he succeeded from ScreenRant
  • The secret plans of Doctor Strange from Forbes
  • etc.

I agree with AJs answer, though I also wanted to add that Strange's plan may have been as simple as delaying Thanos for a certain length of time, giving the people back on Earth time to get into the right places. He held back Thanos as long as he could, and only then gave Thanos the Stone. Again, it's probably going to be unclear what the plan is until Avengers 4


I might be wrong here but I think it all goes back to the past:

All those who were killed by the gauntlet where not in the Avengers' 2012 New York battlefield. The remaining heroes (Thor, Iron Man, Captain America, Black Widow, Hulk) are still alive and Hawkeye is yet to be seen. There is no way he will he left behind. Nick Fury at that time was on the battleship not on the battlefield, and as for Loki, he was not killed by the curse of gauntlet but by the hands of Thanos.

Additionally, Dr. Strange would have given up the time stone for something he saw in time, likely involving Iron Man and co.

Checkout the Stark technology, B.A.R.F

Tony Stark used B.A.R.F to revisit the memory of seeing his parents Howard and Maria alive for the last time so it might be used to senD some sort of signal to avengers in the past or something. The main plot is that the Avengers can use B.AR.F. to play with the time. Additionally, there are some leaked photos of Avengers 4 that show

heroes wearing old costumes.

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    Avengers can use B.AR.F. to play with the time is there any evidence in MCU that B.A.R.F. can be used to communicate across time? Commented May 1, 2018 at 15:22

The battle and its outcome--Strange giving the stone to Thanos, and perhaps even the dejection that Tony feels--are a prerequisite for the Avengers' eventual victory in the future seen by Strange.

While thinking about this I also came up with the following life guideline: Don't ask why the man who sees the future does what he does; you'll find out soon enough.


There is one additional possibility on the other fork of this decision tree.

Strange may have seen the successful outcome, and may have realized that they have failed. For example, maybe the outcome depended on Starlord keeping his temper in check. Since Strange now knows that they have failed, and that Thanos will succeed, he may be acting to simply maximize the number of heroes who survive the fight, as the remaining half of the Earth's population will still need heroes.

  • Possible, but unlikely given what he actually gives as the reason. If this were the case, there's no reason for him to be cagey — just say so. It's what Thanos probably assumes anyway.
    – mattdm
    Commented May 17, 2018 at 21:48
  • Also I think unlikely due to Dr. Strange's ego.
    – mattdm
    Commented May 17, 2018 at 21:48

I have a theory, that revolve around the idea that Thanos failed to snap correctly.
Yes he failed !
How did he failed ?

Thanos promised that everyone will die in an instant, without suffering.
Was it the case ? No ! Not only not everyone died at the same time (Peter died before Strange for example), but more importantly, the death was not instantaneous. And this does not fit the mercy killing.
Was Peter suffering physical or psychological, the jury is still out. It does not change the fact that seeing yourself slowly fading away can be traumatizing, even if only for a few seconds.
But more importantly, it gave enough time to Fury to call Captain Marvel.

But why did Thanos failed ?
May be it's related to the fact that he had a big weapon embedded in his chest at the moment of the snap, it tends to impede concentration.

If they didn't fight, even if only for a few minutes, all the event chain would have changed, and Thanos would have been able to snap his fingers while fully concentrated.

What it would have changed ?
Well, If I have full power over mind, soul and time, and wanted to kill half of the universe, I would not only kill people. I would retcon it so that no-one will remember what happened. So that no one will suffer even from the loss of a loved one.
So no one will even know that I have killed half the universe (So no-one will try to revert it).
But it will be difficult, I will need to concentrate hard.

I don't remember if the Gauntlet was broken before the snap, because of Thor attack, giving another reason why it did not work exactly as intended, or after, confirming that Thanos did not use it properly.
But in both case, it confirm that it's Thor timely intervention gave a chance of saving the day.

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    This all seems fine, as theories go, but... how does it relate to the question?
    – mattdm
    Commented May 18, 2018 at 16:41
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    @mattdm : it relates in the sense that they had to fight to give time for Thor to get the weapon, and to be in place to strike Thanos.
    – dna
    Commented May 18, 2018 at 17:16

Because he might have seen iron man play an important role in the future. Or.. bcuz in the last two avengers iron man was the one who saved earth. Let me recall, Avengers: threw the nuke through the portal by risking his life. Avengers age of ultron: saved earth by exploding sokovia in the air with the help of thor.

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