Dr.Strange and the Ancient One

In Doctor Strange (2016) there is a scene between the Ancient One and Dr. Strange with the following dialogue:

Ancient One: I've spent so many years peering through time, looking at this exact moment. But I can't see past it. I've prevented countless terrible futures and after each one there's always another, and they all lead here ... but never further.

Dr. Strange: You think this is where you die.

Does this mean the wielder of the Time Stone can't see past their own death?

If thats' the case, how can Dr. Strange see what's happening after Thanos' finger snap (I'm assuming that everything that happened was part of the one winning scenario)?

Does Dr. Strange actually live through 14 million possible futures, or is he just running "simulations"? How can he know how things continue after he is gone, or is he just making educated guesses?

My Question:

  • Can Dr. Strange do what the Ancient One couldn't: see beyond his own death?
  • 8
    "If thats' the case, how can Dr. Strange see what's happening after Thanos' finger snap (I'm assuming that everything that happened was part of the one winning scenario)?" Because he comes back later, clearly.
    – JAB
    May 4, 2018 at 21:45
  • @JAB - I did wonder if this is a hint that Dr. Strange is trapped in the Soul Stone and therefore technically not dead. - But, what if there is a scenario in which he dies the old fashioned way (no Soul Stone), how would he know that it's a no-win scenario if he can't see past his own death?
    – Oliver_C
    May 4, 2018 at 22:03
  • 1
    @Oliver_C He wouldn't, but he also wouldn't know that it's a winning scenario, so it wouldn't invalidate his statement that he only saw one scenario in which they won. May 4, 2018 at 22:07
  • 3
    I would phrase it as the wielder can not see beyond their ultimate death. If the wielder dies and is brought back to life, then I would assume they could see the future beyond that temporary death. If this assumption is true, then Dr. Strange has died; but he will be brought back to life. May 4, 2018 at 22:27
  • 1
    @AnthonyGrist - You are right, but that makes it kind of a dick move. Why tell everyone there is only one winning scenario, even though there might be many more. The others don't know that he only counts scenarios in which he himself survives. Why crush their hopes like that ;-)
    – Oliver_C
    May 4, 2018 at 22:29

3 Answers 3


I can't back this up or anything, but I think it has to do with the fact that Strange can use the Time stone, while the Ancient One can't.

The Ancient One was powerful, but she just guarded the stone in the sanctuary, she didn't/couldn't use it while Strange could. So I'm guessing that the Time stone is the key here and it could probably grant Strange insight in the future further from the moment of his death.

  • 5
    This makes sense to me. The Ancient one pulled magic from Dormammu’s dimension, and possibly was able to see some of the future using the same magic. The time stone/Eye of Agomotto is a different beast that Strange has the power to effectively use. It’s also worth noting that Strange may not technically be dead. Simply trapped in the Soul Gem or whatever potentially reversible fate half the universe suffered.
    – Zip Zap J
    May 6, 2018 at 13:45
  • The Ancient One was the Sorcerer Supreme, I'd imagine having the knowledge and skill to use the Time Stone is a requirement for that. - It also seems to make sense to limit the use with one's death. Otherwise, from which perspective would you see things once you die? Dr. Strange died on Titan, how can he see what's happening on Earth? The Time Stone can be used to travel through time, not space. How can he even use the Time Stone after his death?
    – Oliver_C
    May 8, 2018 at 16:27
  • 1
    @Oliver_C Well we didn't actually see her use it. And from the movie I got the impression that the Time stone was this forbidden and guarded thing that no one was suppose to touch and no one really knew how to use. Just my impression... Well it wouldn't make sense if he could only see the future on Titan or the place he's currently at and nothing else. He's using it while still alive to see stuff after his death. He's seeing many different futures and changes the parameters that could affect the final outcome to see them like "what if this happened..."
    – Plexus
    May 8, 2018 at 17:16
  • @Oliver_C His life is also a parameter but he can probalby see that in that future he died and then the folowing events. You are bascaly asking what is Strange seeing while seeing the futures. This is my guess of that, but I don't really know if the guys at Marvel even know.
    – Plexus
    May 8, 2018 at 17:19
  • 1
    @Plexus - I think we have only seen Dr.Strange rewind or fast forward "his" time, so he can only see what's around him. If the Time Stone allowed him to see anything anywhere, then he'd be omnisicient. - And Dr.Strange gave the Time Stone to Thanos, so if he doesn't possess the stone anymore, how can he keep fast forwarding "his" time? How can he go past the time in which he no longer has the Time Stone. This is similar to the death problem, once "his" time comes to an end, how can he keep fast forwarding?
    – Oliver_C
    May 9, 2018 at 14:37

The other answer is legit and could be right, but I have a different take on this.

The Ancient one said to Dr. Strange in that same conversation that she saw his future, or more accurately, his possibilities. She also said that only with Mordo that he stood a chance against Kaecilius/Dormammu. Those two statements strongly suggest to me that she could see past that moment in other people's futures, she just can't see her own future past that moment, despite looking many times, perhaps, (just maybe), 14,000,605 times. ;-)

It's unclear whether Dr. Strange really had any skills that the Ancient One didn't. He may not have been able to view past his own death either, though his statement to Tony "There was no other way", suggests that he did see past that moment in other people's futures. So I would say the skills are the same, not different because of the time stone.

But only the writers know for sure. :-)


Does this mean the wielder of the Time Stone can't see past their own death?

We cannot be sure but it seems a logical assumption to make, based on the fact that the Ancient One is not able to see past her death. Although we do not know if Dr Strange can, we have not been given any reason to think that the rules are different for him.

Can Dr. Strange do what the Ancient One couldn't: see beyond his own death?

No, and yes.

I think it is logical to think that the only reason Dr Strange is able to see past his own death, is because he didn't stay dead.

Think of this as an example: it is not clear if Dr Strange actually died on the operating table for a brief period in his origin film, before being revived. However, let's assume for a moment that he did - would you expect that he would not be able to see the future past that point? No, of course not, because he still had a future to see.

It is not the momentary act of dying which prevents the stone wielder from seeing their future, but instead, it is the eternal cessation of living.

When he looked at every possible outcome, the ones where he could not see anything after his death on Titan, he would chalk up as losses, because it meant that he was never revived.

A Note On @Plexus Answer

@Plexus answer asserts that the Ancient One cannot use the Time Stone. While this is possible, I think it's unlikely. It is clear that the Ancient One can see into the future and manipulate time. We are not given any reason to assume that she uses any magic other than the Time Stone to do that.

Also, Banner goes to collect the Time Stone from the Ancient One, she is wearing it - presumably so that she can use its powers if she needs to. You could argue that she was wearing to ensure its protection. However, if that were the case, it would be logical to think that she would always keep it with her. However, when Dr Strange is studying, it is kept in the Sanctum, and Wong acts as though it is always kept there. That leads me to believe that it was normally kept in the Sanctum except when the Ancient One might need to use it.

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