Dr. Strange made a deal with Dormammu: he would break the time loop he trapped himself and Dormammu in, in exchange Dormammu has to leave earth alone and take his zealots with him.

Why would a powerful (and evil) being like Dormammu honor his part of the deal? What is there to stop him from just going "Psych! I'm taking earth now, nomnomnom" after Dr. Strange broke the time loop? Seems awfully nice for such a twisted creature.

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    His alignment is Lawful Evil :P – BlueMoon93 Nov 15 at 11:04
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    He's only "evil" by our standards. Like Galactus, it's just their nature of being that means we'd rather they stop consuming everything thankyou very much. – OrangeDog Nov 15 at 12:24
  • @OrangeDog Dormammu is far closer to our definition of evil than Galactus. He doesn't have to be destructive to continue existing. – Nacht Nov 15 at 22:01
  • Not much evidence for it, but I really like the fan theory that because Strange was getting better and better (after having thousands of deaths), Dormammu took the deal before Strange became too strong. – Lynx Brutal Nov 16 at 16:07
up vote 49 down vote accepted

Dormammu got tired of that time loop Dr. Strange created.

If he didn't keep his promise, it's a matter of time Dr. Strange will again bind him in the loop. Remember Strange still has the Time Stone. Dormammu was exhausted so he couldn't risk to get in the time loop again.

In the time loop, he wasn't able to figure it out how he kept coming back after dying so many times. So, it wasn't wise to break the promise until he finds a way to break Strange's magic.

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    +1 for pointing out the persistent threat of the time loop if Dormammu went back on his word. The time loop may have held a certain terror for the 'timeless' Dormammu. – EleventhDoctor Nov 15 at 14:00
  • Actually, based on the events depicted in Avengers: Infinity War, Strange no longer possesses the Time Stone. – stancial Nov 15 at 17:04
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    @stancial: Don't go spreading that around! You want Dormammu to come back? – Michael Seifert Nov 15 at 17:11
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    @stancial I know. But we're talking about Doctor Strange at the moment. – A J Nov 15 at 17:12
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    @stancial I doubt Dormammu would want to fight Thanos either. Given that Thanos only wanted to kill off half of the life in the universe, not all of it, he'd certainly be opposed to Dormammu. – JAB Nov 15 at 21:04

Because he is man of his word and have moral code like his comics counterpart Strange Tales No. 127:

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STRANGE: He is evil, true…but only by our human standards. According to his own lights, he has his own moral code!

Taken from similar question from sister-site.

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    We need a r/dormammudidnothingwrong now. All there MCU villains are so good morally – KharoBangdo Nov 15 at 11:21
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    Why does Dormammu look like a half open flaming green banana? – noClue Nov 15 at 16:52
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    @noClue Same reason Dr. Strange has a cone of shame instead of a collar. – Nic Hartley Nov 15 at 20:17
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    @KharoBangdo: This was one of the distinctions of the Marvel Villains of the Silver Age over the DC Rogues Gallery. Their "villainy" was more of a shade of grey than Black and White. Consider Magneto vs. Xavior, where the latter believes that humanity will overcome it's mutant prejudices and the former was a victim of another bigotry, one of the worst examples, and has no intention about being twice victimized. – hszmv Nov 15 at 22:02
  • @AnkitSharma except that he's only just barely by the slimmest meaning a man of his word, since he still plans revenge on Strange through Mordo and is very active in pushing Mordo along. I've always put this one down to plot convenience rather than character-revealing. You could also see it as an ego thing - he doesn't want to look weak by going back on his own word. – Nacht Nov 15 at 22:03

Creatures that exist outside of time "proceed" differently than we do

Dormammu exists outside of time, so his way of thinking and making decisions must be different from ours. The closest parallels in our world (so to speak) are angels and fallen angels, and you might not be surprised to know that some major theologians have weighed in on the topic of the angelic intellect. While we mortals have a discursive rationality, proceeding from one thought to the next in succession, angels are said to have an intuitive rationality, perceiving and deciding everything they're ever going to perceive and decide simultaneously, once and for all. Or at least, because they are outside of time, so it would appear to those of us bound by time. Incidentally this is why we know the devils won't change their minds about their rebellion against Heaven... they don't reason step-by-step the way we do.

In Dr. Strange, Dormammu doesn't really proceed step by step through his plan to dominate the multiverse. His actions may appear sequential to us, because we perceive things unfolding in time. But in fact from Dormammu's perspective his entire rise and (hopefully) fall is seen in one instant. Being pulled into a time loop must have been extremely disorienting for Dormammu. During that segment of his existence, Dormammu could not "see" the consequences of his attempted actions. Dormammu would not have any experience in planning or strategizing because he had always perceived his choices and their outcomes simultaneously. This seems to me to make it unlikely that Dormammu would have the cunning to plan a deception. Remember, Dormammu would never before even have had the occasion to use imagination.

So here's the main point: when Dormammu decided to take Strange's deal, as soon as Strange released him from the trap, that decision was "locked in" as it were, part of the makeup of Dormammu's timeless mind. He would not be able to "change his mind"... He's just not made that way. Moreover, he probably wouldn't have planned a double-cross during the time loop, because he neither had the experience nor the developed imagination to make such a plan while blind to the future.

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    This is a terrible answer. Just because Dormammu doesn't make his decisions step by step, doesn't mean that he must "lock in" the decision to honour his deal with Doctor Strange. He doesn't have to that. What if he just "locked in" the decision to NOT honour the deal but PRETEND that he was honouring it by lying to Doc Strange? – SAK Nov 18 at 14:05
  • Added more on why Dormammu wouldn't have likely been able to plan a deception while blind to the future. – Joe Nov 19 at 14:25

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