In the MCU, the Time Stone allows the user to travel through and freeze time.

In Infinity War, why didn't Doctor Strange use it to go back to each stone's location before Thanos got them and take them? Or, at the very least, why didn't he go back before the failed attempt to steal the Gauntlet from Thanos and warn them that they would fail?

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    We can only assume that in the 14 million possible futures he foresaw that this path is the only one that leads to the eventual victory.
    – Virusbomb
    Apr 30, 2018 at 19:49
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    Is there any in-movie evidence that the time stone allows the user to travel through time arbitrarily? As far as I remember, it's only shown to have a quite local effect, reversing an object's state through time, or putting individuals in a time loop.
    – MikeFHay
    May 16, 2018 at 15:32
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    @MikeFHay He completely halts and rewinds time over at least a large neighborhood of the Hong Kong sanctuary. It's not clear if it's halted/rewound on the whole of the earth/solar system/galaxy/universe/multiverse/whatever, though. Like most things that involve time-shenanigans, including FTL, the mechanics are played fast-and-loose with as few details provided as possible. Jul 3, 2018 at 6:34
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    Why didn't Gandalf have the eagles drop the One Ring into the chasm of Mt. Doom instead of sending two juvenile halflings walking alone into Mordor with it? Mar 4, 2019 at 4:34
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    For the record, there's been no indication that the Time Stone is capable of time travel. It's only been shown manipulating time by "rewinding", "pausing", and f"ast-forwarding", plus creating time loops when in the Dark Dimension (which does not have a concept of time).
    – DanDoubleL
    Oct 29, 2019 at 18:09

4 Answers 4


In universe, because Dr. Strange saw all 14+ million possible futures and there was only one that led to victory for the Avengers and co--the one he took. Presumably taking any other path, including going back to warn the others, would lead to one of the futures wherein Thanos "won" forever. He says as much to Tony near the end: "It was the only way."

Out of universe, because a movie where Dr. Strange fixed all the problems via time travel would be pretty boring and wouldn't feature the rest of the cast in any meaningful way. ;)

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    But couldn't it be possible that Doctor Strange was only examining paths from the present one? If he had backtracked sufficiently he could have potentially eliminated the chance for Thanos to even learn of the stones
    – user189728
    Apr 30, 2018 at 19:52
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    @user189728 Considering Dr. Strange has power over time and has used this offensively many times before, it would seem strange to me if he was only examining paths from the present one. He knows that he has the ability to alter the time stream, so I presume he was considering those possibilities as well in his 14 million options.
    – Kitkat
    Apr 30, 2018 at 20:02
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    I find this answer unsatisfying. Saying "Strange foresaw that plan wouldn't work" still leaves the question of why it wouldn't work.
    – MikeFHay
    May 16, 2018 at 15:33
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    @MikeFHay The only explanation given in the film is that Dr Strange foresaw one path to victory. If you don't like that explanation, you'll have to take it up with the script writers.
    – DoubleD
    Jun 12, 2018 at 18:07
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    Explaining why 14+ million possibilities wouldn't have worked, would have made for a very long, very boring movie.
    – Elezar
    Jun 26, 2018 at 23:28

My theory is that he actually DID use the time stone to go in the future where they won and gave him the future time stone while he still has the real time stone. Let me remind you that he didn't disappear and he saw over 14 million outcomes of this situation. He knew what he needed to do to win and that's exactly what he was doing. ^~^

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    Whoa, that’s actually pretty crazy. But given that he turned to Black Ash, where did that stone go?
    – user189728
    Aug 6, 2018 at 21:59

They explain in Endgame that time travel does not work like Back To The Future where if you change the past, the changes are reflected in your present.


In Thor: Ragnarok Dr. Strange was expecting Thor. Meaning he did see the future.

Question is if that is the case he must have been aware of Thanos.

To your question Strange has seen only 14 million of possibilities in a short time period. Only one will give him success so perhaps he wants to avoid changing the past and wants to shape the future.

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    I think Dr Strange was expecting Thor because his father was on Earth (in exile). May 1, 2018 at 16:01

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