In Doctor Strange we see that the Masters of the Mystic Arts can see into the past and the future, and we know that the Ancient One was able to see into the future as well, but only up to her death. She said herself that in all the possible futures she was never able to get past that point.

So if this is true for the Ancient One, then how did Doctor Strange figure out how Thanos was gonna die/everyone would stay alive in the end if he died before it happened? Does it have something to do with directly using the Time Stone?

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    Hi, welcome to SF&F! I hope you get an answer to this question, but it might be hard to answer based on what is officially (canonically) already known from the movies. If you would consider answers based on comics as well, you might note that in your question.
    – DavidW
    Commented Mar 27, 2019 at 15:38
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    IIRC a very similar question, if not an exact duplicate already exists (though maybe on movie.se). Found the duplicate Commented Mar 27, 2019 at 15:39
  • I found that question actually and while I think this question was pretty similar to it, I actually prefer the accepted answer here. I somehow missed that you can see others futures as well not just your own with the time stone lol.
    – B. Lalonde
    Commented Mar 27, 2019 at 16:18
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    I am guessing… magic.
    – Lexible
    Commented Mar 28, 2019 at 0:40
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    I don't see the issue: Dr. Strange kept looking through futures until he found one where he could actually see past the snap. Granted, there was a gap of 5 years there that he couldn't see, but that was better than all the other futures where it was snap-and-then-nothing.
    – Martha
    Commented May 22, 2019 at 19:34

2 Answers 2


There doesn't seem to be any contradiction with what we see Doctor Strange do and the quote by The Ancient One. This is the conversation in Doctor Strange:

The 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.

Strange: You think this is where you die.

The Ancient One: You wonder what I see in your future?

Strange: No. Yes.

The Ancient One: I never saw your future, only its possibilities. You have such a capacity for goodness. You've always excelled, but not because you crave success but because of your fear of failure.

Doctor Strange

The Ancient One is looking into her future and can't see past the point where she dies for her own future. However, she can see past the point in Doctor Strange's future and see his possible futures. This is in line with what we see him do in Avengers: Infinity War in that he looks into the possible futures for the whole team and how they win not necessarily his own future.

Doctor Strange: [panting] I went forward in time to view alternate futures. To see all the possible outcomes of the coming conflict.

Peter Quill: How many did you see?

Doctor Strange: 14,000,605.

Tony Stark: How many did we win?

[Strange stares intently at Tony for a moment]

Strange: [pause] One.

Avengers: Infinity War

It's also worth noting that Strange uses the Time Stone to see into the future whereas it appears that The Ancient One doesn't use it and so this likely plays a part in it too.

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    I'd quibble slightly on the last observation. The Ancient One didn't have the Eye of Agamotto (Time Stone) when this conversation took place, but if anyone could "check it out of the library" for her own meditations over the years, that person would be the Ancient One.
    – Blaze
    Commented Mar 27, 2019 at 16:08
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    @Blaze Been a while since I watched Doctor Strange but I had the impression she didn't/wouldn't use it. Could be wrong though, In either case, however, it is mainly a side point here.
    – TheLethalCarrot
    Commented Mar 27, 2019 at 16:12
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    I would hazard a guess that the first time they found the time stone, they tried using it, realized what it was (and subsequently researched the other infinity stones as well), and then agreed that it was too dangerous in anyones hands so they just kept it locked up/guarded it.
    – B. Lalonde
    Commented Mar 27, 2019 at 16:21
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    At least in the comics, the soul stone is known to hold the Soul World, a mini universe inside the stone. If the cinematic universe follows that lead, I (and a lot more people) guess the poeple who were turned to dust are actually inside the stone and not really dead. Thus, Dr. Strange wouldn't be dead and there would be no contradiction. Commented Mar 28, 2019 at 5:40
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    Humourous Plot Twist: Dr Strange only considers it a winning scenario if he's alive - there were 14,000,604 scenarios where the Avengers win, but he dies.
    – Dave
    Commented Mar 28, 2019 at 10:13

It's not difficult at all. See, when Dr. Strange returned after Hulk had a conversation with Captain America that they have to return the Stones from where they brought those. Again Ant-Man suggested that the van had a way to the Quantum Realm. And assuming Hope, Hank and Janet were snapped before Doctor Strange and he had seen that, it's the same van in which Scott got trapped.

So being as smart as he is, I guess he can put easily two plus two together to figure out what the Avengers planned in that timeline. And how did he know about 5 years having passed? Not difficult at all, because once he was resurrected from the snap, he could easily see for one or two weeks ahead and surely he will find a hint that 5 years has been passed.

Even if he was only able to see the time duration when he was alive it's not difficult at all to figure out the strategy and course of actions of the Avengers.

  • I took the liberty of editing out the commentary on the Ancient One as it's not relevant to the question and is more chatty than answers. If you disagree with my edit, you canedit your post further.
    – Jenayah
    Commented May 22, 2019 at 19:56

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