At the end of Doctor Strange,

Strange traps Dormammu in a time loop, and only agrees to release him once Dormammu agrees to leave Earth forever with Kaecilius and his followers.

So I was thinking about this scene, and my friend told me that there's a way to escape, it's just that Strange shouldn’t be killed? Would that be a better option for Dormammu?

  • 1
    Spoilers! Be kind....
    – Paulie_D
    Oct 31, 2016 at 15:55
  • The loop wasn't dependant on Strange dying, so that wouldn't have worked, no. Oct 31, 2016 at 16:11
  • Awesome! Thanks mates!
    – Furchamps
    Nov 1, 2016 at 11:29
  • What I wondered during that scene is why he didn't just knock Strange out. That seemed to be able to disrupt the spell in previous scenes. Nov 5, 2016 at 22:34
  • Bear in mind that this is all new and strange (lol) to Dormammu; dormammu was quick to anger and didn't take the loss well.
    – Möoz
    Feb 10, 2017 at 2:19

2 Answers 2


We have no reason to believe that the time loop was dependent on Doctor Strange dying. It's possible that if Dormammu did not kill Doctor Strange, that a second Doctor Strange would come into view, or perhaps it would jump back in time and the current Doctor Strange would disappear (More likely in my opinion since we don't see several dead Doctor Strange bodies piling up). We can't know 100% for sure because Dormammu is quick to kill and the bargain, when it was made, was made fairly quickly.

Also possible, is like many things in this movie, it may be a simplified representation of what actually happened, since they can't show movies in true 4D yet.

  • 9
    the whole concept of a 'dimension outside of time' is never going to portray accurately, since time exists and any actions in the movie take place in it. stuff moves around in the dark dimension, Dormammu 'does' stuff... how is there no time? makes no sense. They kinda made it work in DS9 with the Prophets, but the main issue remains
    – Derek
    Nov 6, 2016 at 7:51
  • 3
    "the bargain was made fairly quickly"... For all we know, Dormammu may have been killing Strange for 50 years before accepting the bargain. Nov 8, 2016 at 13:23
  • 1
    @ArturoTorresSánchez I meant the actual bargain itself. If the actual bargain itself took too long, he might have disappeared before it was finished. Again, the scene was likely a simplification of what actually happened.
    – Goose
    Nov 8, 2016 at 14:08
  • 1
    The argument reminds me of this one ST:VOY episode with the case of 'Suicide-Q', where they enter the Continuum and are surprised that it looks like something they know, only to be told that it is a representational picture actually made for them to be comprehendable. Nov 14, 2016 at 19:00
  • “they can't show movies in true 4D yet” — I beg to differ! (I really don’t.) Feb 10, 2017 at 9:10

There's a flaw in your friend's suggestion: Leaving Doctor Strange alive couldn't mean he would have to die a natural death. He could reverse his ageing processes to become young again and again (while screwing Dormammu). And, he had no reason to hesitate because it wasn't his dimension (no breaking of natural law) when he had already used it in his dimension.

In case of his natural death, he would have returned again because time loop was supposed to restart upon his death (which should be any death).

However, I still believe that there was a way out: All Dormammu needed was to knock Doctor Strange unconscious. Just before the time loop scene, when Doctor Strange knocked down to ground, the time reversal stopped. It means that Doctor Strange was consciously controlling the Eye of Agamotto. Knocking him unconscious should have worked. In fact, in the last loop, when Doctor Strange was just knocked, he did saw the green holographic rings over his arm. I believe, he saw it to make sure that the time loop was still ON.

Conclusion: Doctor Strange just fooled Dormammu by making him believe that there wasn't a way out when in fact there was an easy way out. But, Dormammu type powerful creature might not understand it which seemed to operate as binary switch: Either kill or don't kill.

  • “time loop was supposed to restart upon his death” — source? Jan 4, 2019 at 10:20
  • @PaulD.Waite youtu.be/tZyUxqBvMBE See for yourself.
    – Ragnarok
    Jan 4, 2019 at 16:21
  • Strange doesn’t say anything about the time loop restarting upon his death. He just says it’s a time loop that Dormammu is trapped in, unless Strange decides to release it. Jan 4, 2019 at 22:44
  • @PaulD.Waite I said see, not listen. Carefully see when the time loop restarts.
    – Ragnarok
    Jan 5, 2019 at 1:01
  • Believe it or not, I actually noticed that, even without looking that carefully! It’s possible that Strange’s death causes the time loop to restart, but it’s equally possible that the filmmakers just aren’t showing us Strange lying dead there for however long it takes to restart on its own (for whatever “however long” means in a dimension with no time). Presumably it does restart without Strange’s death; if not, Dormammu could destroy the earth just by not killing Strange, which seems a bit risky. Jan 5, 2019 at 11:19

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