Why did Thanos slaughter half the population of the

Asgardian survivors

at the beginning of Avengers: Infinity War? I understand that he believes half the population of the universe needs to be sacrificed in order to ensure there are enough resources to go round but the

Asgardians have just had their home planet blown up and over half their population destroyed by Hela.

So is there an explanation for why he killed half of them?

  • 1
    Did he know about the events prior to IW? Even if he did these now have to find refuge somewhere else where they'll use up resources, best to half them so they don't use up too much. Lastly, did he only kill half? I remember the whole ship blowing up, seems to me he likely killed them all.
    – TheLethalCarrot
    Sep 18, 2018 at 10:33
  • Some were definitely missing, the directors confirmed that Valkyrie was still alive. This leads me to believe there may be other survivors.
    – Chris S
    Sep 18, 2018 at 10:34
  • You're right I just read that... though it isn't confirmed if he let the survivors live or that they just managed to escape.
    – TheLethalCarrot
    Sep 18, 2018 at 10:37
  • It could be that they escaped although this doesn’t fit in with what we saw of Thanos in the rest of the movie. He doesn’t kill for no reason, he only kills if he is forced to or if it’s in pursuit of his goal of halving the population of the universe. For example he could have easily killed Starlord, Drax and Mantis during the showdown at Knowhere, but he just disarmed them.
    – Chris S
    Sep 18, 2018 at 10:40
  • 4
    Perhaps his nickname "The Mad Titan" is some sort of clue to his actions.
    – Valorum
    Sep 18, 2018 at 10:48

3 Answers 3


I there is a misunderstanding here...

Thanos wasn't killing the Asgardians as part of his culling process or at least that is not his primary reason.

He was looking for the Tesseract which he knows the Asgardians have.

Certainly Ebony Maw does the speech about being saved by Thanos

Hear me, and rejoice. You have had the privilege of being saved by the Great Titan. You may think this is suffering. No...It is salvation. Universal scales tip toward balance because of your sacrifice. Smile...For even in death, you have become Children of Thanos.

BUT....Thanos reveals his intentions..

I know what it's like to lose. To feel so desperately that you're right... yet to fail, nonetheless. [grabs Thor by the head.] It's frightening. Turns the legs to jelly. I ask you, to what end? Dread it. Run from it. Destiny arrives all the same. And now, it's here. Or should I say...I AM.

The Tesseract, or your brother's head. I assume you have a preference.

So clearly Thanos knows that the Tesseract is on board, he's not even the slightest bit fooled or convinced when Thor tells him that it was destroyed on Asgard.

  • I agree that his primary objective was to get the Tesseract, however, why did he not slaughter all of the Asgardians instead of leaving half of them go? Thor states "Thanos killed half my people". Surely if he was just here for the Tesseract, he'd kill them all? He also leaves Thor survive which if being artsy, one could argue is the physical representation of the half (brothers). I think this points to every world/civilization needs to be halved.
    – E_McAndrew
    Sep 18, 2018 at 16:22
  • Is there any indication that that Thanos has "let anyone go"....We know some escaped but that's not the same thing as letting them go. Also, being thrown into space after being blown up is not "letting Thor survive".
    – Paulie_D
    Sep 18, 2018 at 16:27
  • It's a bit vague certainly, but the fact that he destroys the ship and leaves Thor to float in space in my mind show he spares him (somewhat). Thanos and co surely knew he was capable of surviving, it's highlighted by the fact we see Thanos physically kill Loki and Heimdall. It also seems unlikely that the Asgardians would have fled (particularity the friends Thor makes in Ragnorak).
    – E_McAndrew
    Sep 18, 2018 at 16:31
  • We have confirmation that the Asgardian population was also affected during the snap, and that Valkyrie and Sir were among those snapped away, so they've effectively had their population eighthed over the course of Ragnarok and Infinity war.
    – AAlig
    Jan 28, 2019 at 18:37

Thanos does not care if a population is already at equilibrium or is even using less resources than they produce. His stated goal is "to wipe out half the universe"(Gamora- Infinity War), not "set the universes population to half of the universes population as of time X". He would not care that the population has been halved, if he wasn't the one responsible.

Sidenote: He also doesn't seem to care about or honor the "half" rule when he deals with the dwarves on Nidavellir, so the 50% rule may be a vast simplification of what he actually wants.

  • 1
    Raises some interesting points about this scenario, which are probably too complicated for a comic book plot,but should be seriously considered by any "Thanos did nothing wrong" advocates who are taking their position in any way seriously. Sep 18, 2018 at 13:31

Thanos' stated goal is a 50% reduction of the universal population. He believes the universe is overpopulated and not sustainable. The population of a single planet 'pre-snap' is not even a blip on the scale as far as he's concerned. He doesn't care about such trivialities. He killed the Asgardians who opposed him while taking over the Asgardian ship to recover the Space Gem (Tesseract) only because they were in his way. Those who fled and were no longer a threat to his plans so he simply let them go. They were no longer in his way. In the MCU he's not presented as a sadist or cold blooded killer, only as one on a mission to balance the universe as he sees it should be balanced and the will to carry that out.

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