In the show, variants are first arrested, then their realities are reset, and then they're brought into a court just to be sentenced to be reset ...

Why didn't they just reset realities without arresting and hence everyone and everything including the wanted variant would be reset, without taking the risk of variants running away (since they would be transferred to the Void before even finding out about the TVA)? I mean, they would be reset now or then, Why take the trouble to arrest?

And IF the court could sentence a variant to anything but being reset, what difference did it make? They couldn't give him his life back, since his reality's been transferred to the void. What kind of court does sentence all criminals to one similar punishment?

  • 4
    I don’t have time for an answer but two potential reasons: the TVA consists of variants, maybe they’re arrested in case they want to make one a minuteman. And 2 variants can be useful for other reasons like we see with our Loki.
    – TheLethalCarrot
    Aug 8, 2021 at 15:50

2 Answers 2


It's established in Episode 3 that the TVA staff are actually Variants, taken from branched timelines and given new identities. Renslayer - who acted as the judge in Loki's trial in Episode 1 - appears to be in on this secret, and goes to great lengths throughout the series to ensure it remains secret.

My assumption is that these trials provide an opportunity for the TVA higher-ups to identify individuals who may be useful to the organisation, and to hire them. We see a version of this in Episode 1, with Mobius interrupting Loki's trial in order to bring him on board as a consultant. Pruning Variants immediately would deprive them of that recruiting opportunity.

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    Is Ravonna in on it and knows that she’s a variant? I think it’s left a little ambiguous but I felt she wasn’t.
    – TheLethalCarrot
    Aug 8, 2021 at 15:54
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    But who are these TVA higher ups, if none of them knew they were variants?
    – Wade
    Aug 8, 2021 at 16:02
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    @Wade Yes, that seems like one of the bigger plot holes. If Renslayer is running the place and she doesn’t know the scheme of brainwashing variants, then how does the scheme work? Aug 8, 2021 at 17:00
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    @jeffronicus the TVA operated under the orders of the “Time Keepers”, presumably they gave them the process. They can also clearly reset memories. Something being unexplained doesn’t make it a plot hole especially when reasonable theories can be put forth.
    – TheLethalCarrot
    Aug 8, 2021 at 17:15
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    But still the idea of a trial sentencing people to be reset OR recruited feels weird. I mean their secret would have been out in the open a lot sooner, unless they had erased memory of anyone who had seen the variant in the TVA, and then recruited the variant :))) seems like a lot of effort
    – Puroxana
    Aug 8, 2021 at 19:23

When they attempt to arrest variants, one reason to do so is to get a pulse on why this particular person had gone variant at that time.

Some variants, like Lokis, are expected to be variant just because that's what a Loki is likely to be doing (Their preference for mischief leads them to overwhelmingly be likely to perform something outside of how the Sacred Timeline would like them to work, which is why there are many known Variant Lokis), but when resetting a timeline, they may not necessarily know that this particular person is the source of the timeline splitting; if they're wrong, they need to go back and reset again on a different timeline as a result.

Arresting people and trialing them allows them to verify that, in fact, the person was Variant (i.e. Loki teleporting somewhere with the Tesseract isn't always a Variant approach, given the first Avengers film's usage of it), and whether or not their being Variant is something the TVA should keep a closer eye on. If that person is likely to make that Variant choice in a separate timeline, knowing that they have a history of Variantism would be useful.

The potential for Variants to end up running free after that is a risk, but at that point, would become a known risk.

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    I don't think that's right. They know it's a Variant by seeing the timeline diverge, and then go back once it's reset.
    – OrangeDog
    Aug 9, 2021 at 9:30
  • They know the person they capture is a Variant, and they know what their Nexus Event is, but they don't know what caused the Variant to perform an differentiation of an event such that it made them be Variant enough to cause a Nexus Event. Aug 9, 2021 at 10:03
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    They can tell who variants are by detection variance energy. You see them scanning when hunting for variants and Mobius mentions it at Pompeii. Also the trial doesn't really seem very democratic. I'm a bit dubious to a lot of the points you put forth to be honest.
    – TheLethalCarrot
    Aug 9, 2021 at 12:26
  • It's a high ideal, @TheLethalCarrot, but "democratic" isn't the rule of law everywhere.
    – FreeMan
    Aug 9, 2021 at 16:36
  • @FreeMan maybe calling it an unfair trial would have been better.
    – TheLethalCarrot
    Aug 9, 2021 at 17:27

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