The title is extremely vague, because this question contains HEAVY spoilers for Avengers: Infinity War, specifically the very last scenes of the movie. I can't reasonably put the entire question in spoiler tags, so consider this your warning.

At the end of the movie, Thanos pretty much wins. He gets all the Infinity Stones, Gamora and Vision have been brutally murdered, and the rest of the cast completely beaten. Nobody could stop him. So he executes his plan.

As far as I know (unless I missed something), his plan is to eradicate exactly half of all mortals in the universe, and from his own words, in a fair lottery (random chance), without taking into account a person's wealth, social status, or anything else. Pure chance decides whether you are sacrified for the greater good or live through this greater good (according to him).

During the movie, Thanos and one of his underling (Ebony Maw) say themselves that being sacrified is an honor and should be appreciated. As you would expect, most people do not appreciate being sacrified.

At the end of the movie, Thanos uses all 6 stones to do a finger snap, deleting half the universe.

The question is: Did he exclude himself from the targets? Was there a 50% chance that Thanos himself would disappear right there?

As far as I know, this is not explicitly answered in the movie itself. I am looking for similar situations in the comics (or in the movie if I happened to miss something) where you could know, or have an educated guess, as to Thanos being the kind of person who follows through to the end, even if it means dying, or the kind of person who gets scared of death when it comes down to it, and comes off as an hypocrite.

Some people also mentioned his "deal" with Strange would make him spare Tony from the snap too. I'm also wondering about that, if there is a link between the two, but it's not the focus of the question.

The reason I'm wondering is that Thanos seems to me like a very extreme utilitarist. Even though he might be wrong about the value of his plan (Do the remaining half really become happy?), in-universe it seemed successful at least once (Gamora's home planet), so his reasoning is not bad, even if the premise might be horribly flawed. Excluding himself from the snap would make it into a straight villain, while considering himself equal to the rest would make him into a wannabe hero with very very evil methods. This makes a huge difference in the interpretation of the movie and his character.

  • 8
    I would assume he excluded races he already culled, like Gamora's, and races that already been destroyed through the kind of things he wants to prevent, like his own (and thus himself) Commented Apr 30, 2018 at 20:50
  • 5
    I came here because I misread as 'Theranos'...
    – smci
    Commented Apr 30, 2018 at 22:28
  • 16
    In the comics, he is not afraid of Death... rather the opposite.
    – Nacht
    Commented Apr 30, 2018 at 22:42
  • 5
    Related - 5 of the 6 Avengers on Thanos's home planet at the time end up getting disintegrated. And presumably it would have been 6 of 6 had Strange not made the deal for Stark's life. The odds of this happening by chance are low (not impossibly low, just low), so is it possible that Thanos allowed himself some personal discretion in directing who would (or would not) be killed?
    – aroth
    Commented May 14, 2018 at 3:01
  • To expand on @Nacht 's comment - in the comics, Thanos kills half the universe as a tribute to Death (the embodiment of the concept), whom he loves. So, there's no real need of fairness. In fact, as illustrated, we see Thanos with a starfield behind him; he snaps his fingers, and the starfield in the left half of the panel is gone. Later info does seem to indicate that some (but not all) super-heroes (mostly from Earth) have disappeared.
    – RDFozz
    Commented Dec 3, 2018 at 22:03

6 Answers 6


Let us consider the plan Thanos said or at-least what I heard:

He wanted to eradicate half of everyone from every planet.

Now let us consider Thanos himself... he is the last surviving Titan from the planet well Titan. So he can be justified for surviving since he is the last Titan and half of 1 rounding-off is well one...

From the director's surprise visit to Iowa City high school:

Thanos was apparently a part of selection and he happened to be in living end...

You can ask if he allowed himself to be apart of that random process. He does have a very interesting look on his face. When we come back to him after the snap before he disappears, a look of surprise.

  • 3
    I had understood that every mortal had 50% chance of being erased, without taking species or planet into account at all (many characters were not on their home planet during the snap, and several of them don't live on it anymore). If your interpretation is true, then every specie that already received the 50% execution manually in the past (Asgardians, Gamora's homeworld, etc) would have been immune to the snap?
    – Kaito Kid
    Commented Apr 30, 2018 at 14:52
  • 2
    @KaitoKid it's truly random per planet, is how I understood it. Each planet has half of its population destroyed. Otherwise, there's no telling whether some planets would have "benefited" from Thanos' actions or not.
    – Knetic
    Commented Apr 30, 2018 at 22:17
  • 3
    @AnthonyGrist Groot is the only one of his kind, too, as far as we know. (Even the Collector hadn't seen one like him before)
    – KSmarts
    Commented May 9, 2018 at 16:43
  • 1
    Also I suppose that for any species which reproduces sexually and which hasn't developed cloning technology yet it would have to leave at least two members alive. Or more if their reproduction is sufficiently similar to humans such that they require a certain number of breeding pairs to maintain a viably diverse gene-pool.
    – aroth
    Commented May 14, 2018 at 3:19
  • 2
    @KaitoKid I do need to confirm something about the outcome of Infinity War, [...] Are half the animals dead? Are half of the horses gone? Half of the ants? To which Kevin Feige responded : Yes! Yes. **All life**.
    – Shane
    Commented Nov 17, 2018 at 2:26

For a utilitarian, ensuring one's survival is often justifiable as a "altruistic" act; if one believes that one's morality is superior to others', then remaining alive to enact it is good.

It seems to me that there are two obvious questions that were never addressed in the film:

How does killing half the population address overpopulation? Eventually, the population will rebound. What then? Will Thanos just keep engaging in occasional cullings?

Given the vast power that the stones give him, does Thanos not have anything he can do to improve quality of life other than killing half the population?

Both of these questions touch on yours. If Thanos is planning on doing future cullings, then obviously he has to stay alive to do so. And if Thanos has some plan beyond the culling, then again he has to stay alive for that. Even if he doesn't have any further plan, he does have to worry about what will happen with the stones if he dies, so he can justify keeping himself alive to make sure the stones aren't "misused".

On top of that, as Thanos' justification was that there were too many people for the available resources, that doesn't apply to him; presumably with the stones, he can provide himself with whatever resources he needs without reducing the amount of resources available for others.

  • 1
    It should be taken into account that Thanos is immortal, so 'staying alive' is not particularly a big concern of his.
    – TylerH
    Commented Apr 30, 2018 at 19:37
  • 13
    @TylerH How is he immortal? I am aware that he is in the comics, but this is closely related to his storyline with Lady Death, which seems completely inexistent in the MCU so far, and nobody mentioned any sort of immortality of his. Thanos himself seems to believe that, had Thor aimed for the head, he would have been killed by the Stormbreaker.
    – Kaito Kid
    Commented Apr 30, 2018 at 19:45
  • Regarding the first question, I might be mis-remembering but I could have sworn Thanos said something about keeping at it as it is needed.
    – Marie
    Commented Apr 30, 2018 at 20:02
  • 4
    @KaitoKid Immortal people can still be injured and bleed, they just can't "die"; it's a grey area even in the comics where they are 'banned from Death's realm'. As for 'aiming for the head', that sounded more like an expression; if you are really thinking about it, Thor should have actually aimed for the arm; no armor preventing the axe from penetrating the flesh and it would have severed his connection to the gauntlet permanently as the gauntlet was left-handed.
    – TylerH
    Commented Apr 30, 2018 at 20:06
  • 2
    I think Thanos' thoughts on how this corrects overpopulation is as follows: all sufficiently advanced, intelligent species that are suffering from overpopulation already have everything they need to control their population except for one thing: the will to kill off a large fraction of the population. This is what killed his planet: a refusal to kill half the people, despite it being the only thing left they need to control the problem and prevent extinction. It's that moral event horizon no species will pass, so he does it for them. Commented Mar 12, 2019 at 9:58

Thanos apparently intended to live

In his speech to Doctor Strange, Thanos refers to the imminent victims of the 'Snap' as 'they', while he envisions himself remaining to enjoy the universal prosperity that Thanos imagines will result from his plan.

THANOS: "With all six Stones, I could simply snap my fingers. They would all cease to exist. I call that... mercy."

STRANGE: "And then what?"

THANOS: "I finally rest. And watch the sun rise on a grateful universe. The hardest choices require the strongest wills."

EDIT: The above answer was also proposed and accepted here.

... and he will need to guard the Time Stone so that what was done cannot be undone

If Thanos includes himself in the 'snap', then it is possible that the Infinity Gems might fall into the hands of one with the power and skill to reverse the effects of the 'snap' on the universe, especially if they have the Time Stone. Indeed, Thanos' actions in Avengers: Endgame bear this out; not long after the 'snap', he destroys all the Infinity Stones, at great risk to himself. He correctly anticipates that Earth's heroes will come after him in an attempt to wrest the gauntlet from him and reverse the 'snap'.

  • 1
    The last point I think is the most important one. He was clearly aware that the people of the universe would not all happily accept his "gift", and that some of them would then attempt to undo it, and that they might succeed if the stones remained. He could not achieve his plan if it remained possible for it to be wholly undone, so he had to have some plan to prevent that, especially if he was forced to do the snap while surrounded by a group of people likely to do just that. There's no known candidate for backup stone-destroyer on his side, so he must have planned to do it himself. Commented May 2, 2020 at 21:34

Thanos needed to survive in order to subsequently destroy the Infinity Stones. If he had disappeared in the snap then someone else would simply have put on the gauntlet and brought everyone back.

Therefore he must have planned to survive so he could remove the only way to undo the snap afterwards. Obviously he did not count on his opponents going back in time to frustrate him.

  • Every victim of the snap had their clothes dusted with them. It wouldn't be hard to imagine that this was a part of the snap on purpose, so that in the event that Thanos gets dusted too, the Infinity Stones are destroyed with him (he is kind of wearing them as clothes right now). On the other hand, if he survives, the stones survive too, giving him a way out of his current predicament (stabbed by Thor). In hindsight, it seems like the Clothes thing may have been much smarter than we thought
    – Kaito Kid
    Commented May 31, 2019 at 11:36
  • @KaitoKid Some items were not dusted, like weapons and other equipment. I suppose you could argue it either way, but even if it was the plan it seems like a big risk of something going wrong.
    – user
    Commented May 31, 2019 at 12:16
  • @KaitoKid As Avengers:Endgame demonstrated, destroying the Infinity Stones with the Infinity Stones is much more difficult than the 'Snap'. It took Thanos several days and personal risk to do it, and the energy released was detected from other planets! Commented Aug 28, 2019 at 13:46

Comics-based Answer

I would say yes, he probably was committed, and that is how to interpret him in the movies, because, in the comics, he is ultimately committed to his goals, even to the point of death. He most likely included himself as a possibility in the Decimation, there was probably a 50% chance of him dying.

However, in the comics, dying is not a big deal for Thanos. He loved (currently I think he is fascinated by Oblivion, as per Civil War II; I'm not sure how his most recent death has changed his view) Death, the Abstract personification of death, and dying simply brings him to her. She in turn "spurns" him, meaning he does not stay dead for long. I put spurns in quotes because it seems that Marvel's current vision of Death and Thanos' relationship is that she is using him; he is essentially acting as her champion and avatar, bringing death to the cosmos, and his love for her is a convenient tool.

So, to say he would die for his goals is not saying much. But he is generally considered a man of his word (though Galactus once called him a renowned liar, so Marvel's writers are not all in the same boat on this) and a man with a sense of honour, twisted as it may be.

  • I don't think you've answered the question as stated inline, which is : "Did he exclude himself from the targets? Was there a 50% chance that Thanos himself would disappear right there?" Commented Oct 19, 2019 at 15:09

From the sense of relieve that he seems to feel after he kills half of the universe, it makes me think that he wasn't sure at all of him surviving. I think he was really committed.

[ And from what other people has answered, it makes no sense that what we see in the movie is him erasing half of everyone in every planet.

Not many humans would die. In a recent study it was calculated that the total weight of the earth's insects is about 17 times greater than the total weight of humans on earth. And insects are much smaller, so just think about it...

It would make much more sense if what we see is the eradication of half of each specie on each planet. And more sense in his ideal, as usually communities are formed by individuals of the same specie, and that would duplicate the available resources of most of the communities.]

What Kaito Kid answered is completely true. Mental note: "Don't post on friday afternoon, better after the weekend".

  • 1
    The number of humans dying wouldn't change, even if the snap took insects into acccount, and even if there were a trillion times more insects than humans. No matter what else dies, 50% of the human population is gone, and the only way to change the final death count for humans is to change the original number of humans. Whether he snaps 50% of each specie or 50% total will, statistically, give the same result number-wise, or at least it is incredibly likely to give an extremely similar result
    – Kaito Kid
    Commented Jan 25, 2019 at 13:26

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .