Comic Book / Thanos

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Are you really certain you want to stop him? What makes you think you can?

"Am I not Thanos?! Did I not butcher the woman who gave me birth, who forced me into this hell called life? Is not the wake of my passing crimson with the blood of my enemies and allies alike?! Death is with me every second of the day!"
Thanos, The Infinity Gauntlet #2

Thanos is a supervillain appearing in comic books published by Marvel Comics. First appearing in Iron Man vol. 1 #55 (February 1973), Thanos the Mad Titan has become one of Marvel's most iconic - and dangerous - supervillains. Whereas the heroes of Earth have to put up with the likes of Doctor Doom and Magneto, Thanos proves to be a constant threat to, well, the entire universe. Yes, all of it.

Born on Titan, moon of planet Saturn, home to the Titans, a faction of Eternals that left the Earth thousands of years ago. Thanos is one of two sons of the the rulers of the Titans: Alars, also known as Mentor, and his wife, Sui-San. However, he was born a mutant, which gave him an appearance closer to Deviants, the Eternals' sister race and sworn enemies. This made his life miserable, gave others reason to bully him, while his brother, Eros, was loved by all. On the other hand, the mutation also granted him vast strength and durability, far greater than any of the other Titans; and his ability to wield cosmic energy was second-to-none.

Claimed his first victim at the age of eight, which first introduced him to the love of his life, Mistress Death. Infatuated, it became Thanos's obsession to win over her black heart, which generally resulted in more killing. The Titans naturally didn't take kindly to this, and exiled him after he tried and failed to kill his dad and take over the throne. They probably regretted not giving him his wish and uniting him with his one true love later since after traveling the Universe and claiming all power within his reach, he returned to Titan and let them have a taste of his nuclear revenge, killing all but a few survivors - his mom being among the dead.

After setting up shop on the nearby Earth, he would inadvertently create two of his life-long enemies, including his arch nemesis: Drax the Destroyer. After possibly being spotted by a human family, he killed them, only for the sole survivor to become Moondragon and her father to be turned into Drax. Imprisoning Drax, he caught the attention of Iron Man, who answered his calls for rescue. Earth has also provided him with a number of other of his regular foes, including Adam Warlock, the Silver Surfer, and Captain Mar-Vell (not that one, mind you). These and more would be involved in stopping him from obtaining the Cosmic Cube and from using the the six Infinity Gems (Then known as the 'Soul Gems') in a quest to destroy all the stars in the galaxy in his latest scheme to win over the heart of Mistress Death.

And then he died at the hands of Adam Warlock, staying dead between 1977 and 1990, when Death brought him back to life more powerful than ever in a mission to kill half of all life in the universe in the name of keeping the balance. Crafty as he was and eager to be Death's equal rather than her servant, Thanos put the six Soul Gems back together, renamed them the Infinity Gems, and created the Infinity Gauntlet in order to gain omnipotence. Ironically, this backfired by making him superior to Death, who then rejected him because of it. Driven to impress her, Thanos used the Gauntlet to try to prove himself worthy, eventually becoming the very personification of The Universe itself. Which, ironically again, was what defeated him, since it left his body unoccupied and giving his remaining foes the opportunity they needed to reclaim the Gauntlet.

Arguably giving up his old ways, Thanos made peace with Adam Warlock and joined the Infinity Watch in order to guard one of the gems, trusted to do so specifically because Adam knew that Thanos' experience with them showed him that possessing the Gauntlet would not give him what he wanted. They worked together and with others to fight against Adam Warlock's good and evil sides, Magus and Goddess.

In time, Thanos would return to his old ways and switch intermittently between hero and villain, until his next big appearance in the pages of Annihilation. Teaming up with Annihilus in his war against the Universe, Thanos was killed by Drax. Only to then be resurrected soon after for The Thanos Imperative in order to save Death from the threat of the 'Many-Angled Ones', interdimensional invaders from another universe known as the Cancerverse where nothing was able to die. A problem that, with Death's help, Thanos managed to fix. Naturally, he got angry after Death turned her back on him after it was all said and done, forcing Nova and Star-Lord to hold him back (with the help of a near-dead Cosmic Cube) to keep him from escaping back to their universe and killing everyone.

But of course, you can't keep a good megalomaniac villain like Thanos down for long, and he's returned once more anyway.

Recently, he has once again teamed up with his recently resurrected frienemy, Adam Warlock, to try to stop Annihilus and Mephisto from triggering the cessation of all of reality.

In other media, Thanos has also shown up in the Silver Surfer and The Super Hero Squad Show animated series, though with Death being replaced by Chaos in the former. He also appears as the Big Bad of Season 2 in Avengers Assemble and the Guardians of the Galaxy animated series.

In film, Thanos made a surprise appearance in The Stinger of The Avengers, where he was revealed as the mastermind behind Loki's plan to conquer Earth. He then appeared in Guardians of the Galaxy, Avengers: Age of Ultron and later the Avengers: Infinity War duology, portrayed by Josh Brolin.

Notable comics with Thanos:

  • The Life and Death of Captain Marvel(1973-1982)
  • Warlock by Jim Starlin(1975-1977)
  • Silver Surfer: Rebirth of Thanos(1990)
  • Thanos Quest(1990)
  • The Infinity Saga(1991-2003):
    • The Infinity Gauntlet
    • Infinity War
    • Infinity Crusade
    • Infinity Abyss
    • Marvel Universe: The End (Not in continuity according to Marvel's executive editor Tom Brevoort)
  • Celestial Quest
  • Thanos (12-issues limited series, 2004-2005)
  • Annihilation(2005-2007)
  • The Thanos Imperative(2010)
  • Thanos Rising(2013)
  • Infinity(2013)
  • Thanos: A God Up There Listening
  • The Infinity Revelation
  • The Infinity Relativity
  • The Infinity Finale
  • Thanos (2016)

Film

Novels
  • Thanos: Death Sentence

Video Games

Western Animation


Thanos provides examples of:

  • Above Good and Evil:
    • As a firm believer of moral nihilism, he is less concerned with good and evil and more with "How many can I murder to get Death to love me"?
    • More like "Outside Chaos And Order". Thanos' actions are clearly evil, but attempts to place him in either camp fail because Thanos is always an individual.
  • Achilles' Heel: Oddly enough, he's probably his own weakness - for all his ambition, he subconsciously knows he doesn't deserve to win. This prevented him from keeping the omnipotent powers he would gain for more than a few issues.
  • Actually a Doombot: The Thanosi, identical (but varying in power from less to more powerful) clones Thanos created of himself. They were cooked up by Jim Starlin as a way to explain away any out-of-character moments Thanos had suffered under other writers.
    • In his first appearance, Thanos is seemingly defeated...but it turns out to be a robot duplicate.
    • Silver Surfer once seemingly killed him, only for the end of the issue to reveal that he'd actually killed a member of Nebula's pirate crew who'd been surgically altered to resemble Thanos.
    • In Thanos Quest he sent a robot duplicate of himself to fight the Grandmaster in a dangerous virtual reality game.
  • Aesop Amnesia: Thanos was ostensibly supposed to have stopped being a genocidal villain at the end of Infinity Gauntlet, when he learned that Death will never truly love him and that not even omnipotence will make him happy, but in some future stories not written by Starlin, he seems to have completely forgot about that. See Character Development below.
  • Affably Evil: He always speaks in a well-reserved manner, and towards people he is fond of (like Drax for killing him, Adam Warlock, Captain Marvel and of course Mistress Death), he shows some honest Pet the Dog moments.
  • A God Am I: Used to have a God Complex during his days of universal conquest and delivered some pretty delusional (but awesome) speeches when he got ahold of the Cosmic Cube and the Infinity Gauntlet.
  • Aloof Ally: After Infinity Gauntlet, he often played that role to Adam Warlock's Infinity Watch, Silver Surfer and the Secret Defenders.
  • Alternate Company Equivalent/Expy: To Darkseid. According to Jim Starlin Thanos was inspired by the New Gods - but originally he looked like the character Metron. Editor Roy Thomas told Starlin: "If you’re going to steal one of the New Gods, at least rip off Darkseid, the really good one!". Although Thanos' Space Thrones can be seen as a nod to Metron's Mobius Chair.
    • However, as this article points out, the similarities between Darkseid and Thanos as characters are only superficial as Starlin developed Thanos with different motivations and personality.
  • A Mind Is a Terrible Thing to Read: Monica Rambeau once ended up inside his mind. The sheer horror she experienced in there drove her back out again.
  • And I Must Scream:
    • His first death, which involved him being turned into solid granite by the spirit of Adam Warlock. Master Order even remarked that Thanos would be forced to spend the rest of eternity lamenting his wasted life and silently weeping over his failure to win Death's love.
    • Threatened with eternal life by being stuck at the bottom of a gravity well when he came back to life but couldn't be killed and started attacking the Guardians of the Galaxy. It was enough to snap him out of a weeks-long state of Unstoppable Rage.
    • At the end of Infinity, he was trapped in a state of "living death" by Thane.
  • Antagonist Abilities: On paper, Thanos is the perfect antagonist for a large scope cosmic story and a variety of powerful heroes. In addition to his great strenght and durability that rivals the likes of The Hulk, if not more, he has a very sharp intellect that allows him to outsmart the heroes and even cosmic entities when melee combat isn't a suitable option, in a similar style to Doctor Doom. He then becomes pretty much a Hopeless Boss Fight when he gets some cosmic macguffin like the infinity gems.
  • Anti-Villain: Post The Infinity Gauntlet, some would argue that for a while he became somewhat of a Noble Demon. note  This varies wildly depending on who is writing him, as many writers still depict him as an traditional Evil Overlord.
  • Arch-Enemy: To Drax the Destroyer, Moondragon, Captain Marvel and sometimes, Adam Warlock. And maybe the Silver Surfer too. He's also a fairly constant foe of the entire Marvel Universe... including himself.
    • He also has a strong hatred of Deadpool (hey, who doesn't?) since he managed to actually attract Death's affections while he has always failed.
    • He has become this to the Guardians of the Galaxy since Thanos Imperative.
  • Archnemesis Dad: He has recently become this to his adoptive daughter Gamora and his biological son Thane.
    • Thanos himself has one in his father Alars/Mentor of Titan.
  • Art Evolution: As seen on this page Thanos was much slimmer in his earliest appearances.
  • Awesomeness by Analysis: Tends to gather information about heroes and villains before fighting them, like when he cracked Tyrant's computers to reveal his backstory as a rogue creation of Galactus, and also when he sent a few of his Thanosi clones after Ka-Zar, Thor and Mantis' son Quoi to test their abilities before deciding that the clones were too dangerous.
  • Ax-Crazy: Depending on the Writer.
  • Badass Boast:
    • "You address omnipotence. Tread carefully."
    • Another one, from Infinity Crusade: "Even devils should beware when bargaining with Thanos of Titan."
    • He tried this towards Doctor Doom at the end of Secret Wars (2015). Doom responded by relieving him of his spine.
  • Badass Bookworm: Being the son of the leader of a Proud Scholar Race has led Thanos to become an expert in many scientific fields as well as being adept in mysticism.
  • Badass Teacher: Regardless on how he treated Gamora throuought her childhood and teenage years, he still trained her into becoming the Deadliest Woman in the Galaxy.
  • Bald of Evil: Theres no single hair on his purple head.
  • Bash Brothers: He and Adam Warlock are frequently fighting together when theres a big cosmic threat.
  • Battle in the Centre of the Mind: Back in the 70's, in Captain Marvel, he had one with Drax the Destroyer and Moondragon. With rather mind-screwy effects.
  • Beyond the Impossible/Deader Than Dead: After becoming an avatar of Death, he gained the ability to permanently kill creatures who are explicitly immortal, as shown in the Thanos Imperative.
  • Big Bad: One of the biggest in the entire Marvel Universe. When he's scheming, you know for sure a catastrophe is about to follow. More then once, the entire MU (including the villains) has teamed up to stop him.
  • Big Damn Villains: During Starlin's Adam Warlock story, when all hope seems lost for the titular hero to stop Magus and become him in the future, Thanos enters the scene to help Warlock defeat Magus, not for any benevolent intention, mind you, but for a pragmatic desire of eliminating a powerful threat to his plans.
  • Blood Knight: He's more subtle about it than most examples but its there. He never misses the opportunity of fighting a cosmic heavyweight like Tryco Slatterus AKA the Champion of the Universe, Tyrant or even Odin himself. He often fights with a slasher smile on his face and pretty much the reason he decided to help the space heroes fighting Tyrant is because he got bored fighting an army of aliens by himself.
  • Born Winner: Eternals tend to be born winners with their lifespans of thousands of years and mystical abilities, but Thanos takes it even further thanks to his mutation.
  • Breakout Villain: It might be hard to believe, but Thanos was originally something of a Filler Villain. Jim Starlin was offered to do an issue of Iron Man, and he introduced Thanos as the villain of a story that was self-contained but also open-ended. When Starlin went on to write other comics he brought back Thanos and eventually made him into what he is today.
  • Butterfly of Death and Rebirth: Both Ahkenaten and his own doppleganger became butterflies after he slew them.
  • Byronic Hero: A villainous variation from Marvel like Doctor Doom and Magneto. After The Infinity Gauntlet affair and other bids for absolute power, Thanos of Titan often broods on the circumstances that led him to failure and plans his next attempt to take over the universe, destroy it, and woo the Anthropomorphic Personification of Death herself or become a morally ambiguos hermit who occasionally helps his Friendly Enemy Adam Warlock saving the universe. He's also an outcast from his homeworld, he's intellectually gifted and he doesn't care about anything beyond his private passions.
  • Cain and Abel: The Cain to his Brother Eros/Starfox's Abel, not that Eros is a great example of virtue though.
  • Call to Agriculture: Has confessed a certain fondness for the simple life of a farmer, and sometimes indulges in this after his more grandiose schemes unravel.
    • In a What If issue, this is Thanos' final fate after losing the Infinity Gauntlet.
      • It's implied several times that this will always be his final fate. At the very end of the universe he is alone, tending a small farm until oblivion finally takes everything.
    • Thanos has two endings in Marvel Super Heroes, and the player gets to decide if he goes on to conquer the universe, or give it all up and just be a farmer.
  • Challenge Seeker: The reason why he went after Tyrant in the Cosmic Powers miniseries.
  • Character Development: At least in theory. Jim Starlin, the creator, had Thanos abandon his Universal conquest/genocide plans long ago, but other writers usually tend to ignore this. One of the reasons why those instances are mostly retconned whenever Starlin returns to the character.
  • Characterization Marches On: In his earliest appearances, he's more of a Galactic Conqueror with Death at his side than the true nihilist he later became; it's only after "she" abandons him following his first defeat that he begins actively seeking her favor with schemes to change the ratio of life and death in the universe. Heck, Death was only introduced in Thanos's second appearance.
  • The Chessmaster: On a galactic and sometimes universal scale.
  • Combat Pragmatist: When he is outclassed by his opponents, he oftens comes up with other ways to win, for example in his battle with the Champion of the Universe. He provoked him, and made him accidentally destroy the planet they were fighting on in the end, which left him helplessly floating in space.
  • Complete Immortality: He gained this after becoming an avatar of Death.
  • Cool Starship: His personal H-shaped starship Sanctuary.
  • Crazy-Prepared: Comes with being a cosmic-scale Super-Genius.
  • Cursed with Awesome: While his mutation led to him being treated like crap during his childhood, it also granted him power far superior to the other Titanian Eternals. He also had the good fortune of falling in love with an entity who couldn't really care less about looks (Death).
  • Dare to Be Badass: In Secret Wars (2015), Thanos gets himself captured and sent to the Shield, which he finds out to be Ben Grimm. He inspires the hero by revealing that he isn't serving God-Emperor Doctor Doom, he's being beaten by him by living on his knees. This is enough to rouse up the hero and take the fight to him.
  • Death Is Cheap: One can not stay dead if Death needs them alive...
  • Death Seeker: If only because it's the best way for him to be united with his true love - which just happens to be Death herself. When he was brought back after Annihilation, he was furious enough to wreck a planet in hours. When it was made clear he couldn't die at all afterward, he nearly went on an omnicidal rampage.
  • Defeat Means Respect: After being defeated by Captain Mar-Vell during the Cosmic Cube story, Thanos had genuine respect for the Kree hero, to the point of appearing in a vision to help him accept his Death by Cancer with one last fight.
  • Deflector Shields: In addition to his already nigh-invulnerable body, he has invented several kinds of Force Fields to become even more untouchable, the most powerful version was durable enough to take 2 shots from Galactus himself until it broke.
    • The Titan has other uses for his shield technology. At one point he used one to separate Beta Ray Bill from his mystical hammer by putting a small force field around it.
  • Depending on the Artist: His size and proportions vary depending on who is drawing him. For instance, Mike Deodato draws him with a very squat, blocky physique and a towering height, while other artists like Ron Lim draw him with a size and proportions similar to those of a human.
  • Depending on the Writer: Jim Starlin tries to portray him as a great intellect who is greatly aware of the real workings of the universe (whether it succeeds, or Thanos is simply a Black Hole Sue Villain Sue relying on Mc Guffins and Idiot Balls is up to personal interpretation); Ron Marz and Keith Giffen try to stay in line with his post-Infinity Gauntlet characterisation, writing him as a neutral force who acts out of curiosity and self-preservation; Jason Aaron's Thanos Rising, at the other end of the scale, suggests that he's simply a very powerful Serial Killer and even that his initial visions of death were ambiguously hallucinations rather than the real thing. Most other writers simply use him as an especially scary cosmic villain.
  • De-Power: Thane uses the power of the Phoenix to do this to Thanos in Thanos #6.
  • Did Not See That Coming:
    • Every time he was winning he ended up getting undercut by his own arrogance or self-doubt. In the Infinity Gauntlet story, he didn’t take into account that his zombified niece Nebula could just take the Gauntlet off his body when he went astral and became God. Previously he had owned an omnipotent Cosmic Cube and threw it away when he thought he had drained it (he hadn’t), and it got destroyed by Captain Mar-Vell. Every time he was defeated Thanos was his own undoing, and eventually his enemy Adam Warlock realized the Mad Titan undercut all of his own plans due to self-doubt and anxiety.
  • Did You Just Punch Out Cthulhu?: In the Samaritan miniseries, he managed to win against a female incarnation of the Beyonder. It was still a very difficult fight for Thanos though.
  • Did You Just Scam Cthulhu?: Yes, even some cosmic entities aren't immune to his schemes. Just ask the In-Betweener and Mephisto.
  • Disappeared Dad: Often left the women he would sleep with in the middle of the night, leaving them with only the baby to take care of and the hope of him coming back. He eventually came back to them, but with a different woman and entrance.note 
  • Dissonant Serenity: His response to getting his heart punched out by Drax? "Interesting."
  • Dramatically Missing the Point: The notion that killing people will never get Death to love him doesn't ever seem to have crossed his mind.
  • The Dreaded: Given the things he's done, it's understandable that people freak out on seeing him.
  • Drunk On The Darkside: His usual cold and collected manners starts to go away once he gets powered up by an Artifact of Doom.
  • Early Installment Weirdness: He had a much slimmer build in his first appearance, and sported a different costume that looked way more like Darkseid's. His brother and father also had purple skin like his, implying that this appearance was normal for Titans. It was only later established that Thanos' purple skin was a mutation caused by his Deviant genes.
  • Enemy Mine: He isn't above teaming up with his foes against other enemies as long as it situation suits him. He was even a member of the Secret Defenders for an arc.
  • Enemies with Death: Those who are, are enemies with him. The Many-Angled Ones discovered this the hard way. So did Death-God Walker, who desired to take her role.
  • Energy Absorption: A trait common to all the Eternals of Titan. Thanos has just managed to master this power to a level beyond that of even his kin.
  • Enfant Terrible: Didn't become one until after his traumatic event in the cave he went in with his friends. Before that, he was a kind child with a creepy fascination with corpses but would get sick when dissecting organisms for study.
  • Even Evil Has Standards: He may be the harbringer of death and her lover but he is not okay with Omnicidal Maniacs that want to destroy everything so they can be the only ones living.
  • Evil Genius: Let's see...mastered every science in the universe from an early age? Check. Centuries of dabbling in the occult? Check. Unlocked the DNA of Galactusnote  and made a hybrid clone of themselves, just to show he could? Check.
  • Evil Is Petty: Thanos once tracked down a flower that was the last of its kind, worshipped by locals as a source of hope, and killed it. Why? Because it brought people hope.
    • During this he also tried to toss a mother and child off the mountain the flower was kept on, even though they were just bystanders.
  • Evil Mentor: To his adoptive daughter Gamora of course.
  • Evil Overlord: Yes and no. Under Starlin, Ron Marz and Keith Giffen, Thanos is never shown interested in ruling or conquering others aside for an army of mercenaries he had in the 70's. However, he has been written more like a straight example since Hickman's Infinity storyline.
  • Evil Plan: All he really wants is the love of Mistress Death. However, this being Mistress Death...
  • Evil Sorcerer: He is one of science and cosmic energy, but is obviously not a Squishy Wizard.
  • Evil Sounds Deep: In the MCU as he's played by Josh Brolin. Oddly averted in the Silver Surfer cartoon.
  • Evil Versus Evil: He has fought against other cosmic villains like Magus, Tyrant, Walker and Akhenaten.
  • Evil Versus Oblivion: Thanos has occasionally teamed up with heroic characters to stop universe ending threats.
  • Exact Words: Thanos always holds to a bargain. And if he has full faith that the other person making the bargain is going to treat him fairly (such as Adam Warlock), then he'll similarly uphold both the word and the spirit of the deal. However, he's no idiot, and he'll readily stick to his very precise wording if he anticipates a trap of some sort. Most notably, Mephisto discovered this when he made a deal to get a Cosmic Cube from Thanos.
  • Expendable Clone: Jim Starlin tends to retcon any perceived slights to Thanos' greatness at first opportunity through various clones to have suffered any defeats that Thanos experiences. Dan Slott has even gone so far as to debate the point with himself. In one story Slott let Squirrel Girl beat Thanos, with the Watcher confirming that it was the real deal, but in a later She-Hulk story it was established that it might or might not have been a clone after all.
  • Eye Beams: One of his more potent ways of channeling cosmic energy.
  • Failure Is the Only Option: He's doomed to never enjoy long-term success or satisfaction in anything since deep down, he doesn't believe he deserves it.
  • Fairy Companion: Had a partner in Skreet the Chaos Mite for a time before being killed by Drax.
  • Five-Bad Band: The Black Order:
    • Big Bad: Thanos
    • The Dragon: Corvus Glaive
    • The Evil Genius: Supergiant
    • The Brute: Black Dwarf, Proxima Midnight during his absence (when he is back she does Co-Dragons with Corvus)
    • The Dark Chick: Ebony Maw (male variant)
      • For the Thanosi from Infinity Abyss we have:
    • Big Bad: Omega (Thanos/Galactus hybrid) the most powerful of the Thanosi and the last one faced by the heroes.
    • The Dragon: X (Thanos/Charles Xavier hybrid) The strategist of the Group and the one who calls the shot when Omega is not around.
    • The Brute: Warrior (Thanos/Gladiator hybrid) The muscle of the Thanosi, who is also dimwitted and quick to anger.
    • The Evil Genius: Mystic (Thanos/Doctor Strange hybrid) The resident magic expert.
    • The Dark Chick: Armour (Thanos/Iron Man hybrid) The more active and emotional of the Group and also the first one to be defeated.
  • Fate Worse Than Death: What he considers life. At the end of Infinity he is immobilized in a state of *Living Death*
  • Foil: To his brother Eros, as he's handsome and a Wise Guy but not very strong while Thanos is deformed and a Straight Man but very powerful. Also Eros tends to hit on every super heroine he meets while Thanos is only faithful to Mistress Death. Eros is a C-list member of the Avengers at best while Thanos is one of the team's most fearsome foes. As one commenter puts it: It speaks a great deal about comic book creators' ideas that while Mr. Stony Faced Death Urge is a major character while Mr. Winning Smile Life Urge is a D-lister with a date-rapey undercurrent.
  • For the Evulz: Once orchestrated a situation where his brother was held for trial, and sent his clone with modified memories to convince everybody it was he who made Thanos fall in love with Death, thus making him responsible for all of Thanos's crimes. She-Hulk traveled into the clone's mind to discover it was a lie and that he did all of it not because of revenge, but for pure entertainment. It didn't go well for the clone.
  • Friendly Enemy: Adam Warlock has helped thwart Thanos' plans countless times...but may also be the only real friend he has.
  • Friend to All Living Things: Even though at an early age, Thanos was drawing pictures of the corpses of the creatures around him, he befriended and refused to eat any of the creatures in the cave he was stuck in for many days. That is, until he found out that they killed and ate his Eternal friends who came with him to the cave and was blamed for it.
  • Galactic Conqueror: His reputation as one can even intimidate entire planets into giving in to his demands as shown in Infinity.
  • Gambit Roulette: Deceiving and planning on the scale he's known for, especially where such pseudo-omniscient beings as Galactus and Eternity are involved, naturally requires this trope.
  • Genius Bruiser: Right up there among both the brightest minds and strongest bodies in the Marvel Universe.
  • Greater-Scope Villain: In the Marvel Cinematic Universe, and of the Red Skull in Avengers Assemble.
  • Godzilla Threshold:
    • His role in The Thanos Imperative is being escorted by the Guardians of the Galaxy to the Cancerverse, with the heroes being forced to help him since, as an avatar of Death, he's the only one who can defeat the Many Angled Ones. Peter Quill even remarks during their trip that unleashing Thanos on the universe couldn't really do anything worse to it than the locals already had.
    • In Marvel vs. Capcom: Infinite, the heroes are forced to ask for his aid after it was demonstrated that Ultron-Sigma was more of a danger than they could hope to handle.
  • Hand Blast: His most common method of channeling cosmic power. He can make them powerful enough to knock Galactus off his feet and break his helmet.
  • Hannibal Lecture: Does one to Norrin Radd in Silver Surfer #50, exploring his past and claiming that deep down he's not a much better individual than he is due to Norrin being apathetic to his father's suicide.
  • Heel–Face Revolving Door: Will ally himself with forces of good if it serves his own interests.
  • Hero Killer: It's easier to name what heroes Thanos HASN'T managed to kill, considering he killed THE ENTIRE UNIVERSE once. In fact, the events of Civil War II, including the conflict between Iron Man and Captain Marvel, are kicked off by Thanos killing War Machine and critically wounding She-Hulk.
  • Heroic Sacrifice: At the end of Marvel Universe: The End, he restores the universe and wipes himself from existence in the process. He got better.
  • His Own Worst Enemy: Ultimately, Thanos can never make himself truly unbeatable no matter how much power he obtains for one simple reason: deep down he knows he's not worthy of ultimate power and subconsciously desires to lose, so he will always provide a way for him to be defeated.
  • Idiot Ball: Under Starlin's pen, any hero, villain, or even cosmic entity, except Warlock and Mar-Vell, tends to suffer from this, to underline how awesome Thanos is.
  • If I Can't Have You...: Has admitted to being jealous of Death's other paramours. Jealous to the point that, after discovering she had developed feelings for Deadpool, he cursed him with immortality just to keep him away from her.
  • Invincible Villain: This only applies when Starlin writes Thanos, other writers tends to make him more vulnerable and less smart. The most clear example of this is Brian Bendis' run on Avengers Assemble, Civil War II and the last issue of his run on Guardians of the Galaxy, where Thanos gets punched around by a large variety of heroes, even those that really aren't heavy hitters, like Iron Fist and Rocket Raccoon.
  • Irony: In relation to the above, Death did the same to Thanos. Temporarily.
    • After spending so much time being an Omnicidal Maniac, Thanos ends up reviving the universe at the end of The End. He even lampshades it.
  • Just Toying with Them: At one point during the Infinity Gauntlet storyline, he turned off the sensory input from the Gems that provided any in order to give his opponents a tiny chance of success in order to impress Mistress Death.
  • Karma Houdini: Almost all the time under Jim Starlin. He killed over a 100 people on his own planet, razed several galaxies and then ultimately half the Universe, and didn't suffer any real consequences. (if you don't count Death refusing to love him or being immensely fickle)
  • Kick the Dog: But off course.
  • Klingon Promotion: During his tenure as a pirate, he became a leader when his predecessor tried to kill him for not murdering anyone in their many acts of pillaging. He cut him up to pieces without realizing it and was hailed by his fellow pirates.
  • Kryptonite Factor / Man of Kryptonite: Drax the Destroyer in his latest incarnation (since Annihilation, to be precise).
  • Large Ham: If the odd way his speech bubbles are drawn and his grandiloquent words didn't tell you.
  • Laughably Evil: In the infamous Thanoscopter story, where he acts like the villain of a Hanna & Barbera cartoon and ends up being arrested by two regular human police officers.
    • His interactions with Mistress Death in Infinity Gauntlet are quite humorous.
  • Lonely at the Top: Thanos attempts to impress Lady Death by collecting the six Infinity Gems, and with them becoming her equal so she will finally speak to him. However, after he succeeds she still remains silent, one of her servants explaining that by becoming all-powerful he is now her superior.
  • Machiavelli Was Wrong: Thanos once made a Christmas party for Gamora when she was a child in order to make her a more loyal and effective assassin.
  • Mad Love: What other trope could describe his relationship with Lady Death?
  • Mad Scientist: He's not called "The Mad Titan" for nothing.
  • Manipulative Bastard: Thanos tends to be wise, strategic and cunning, manipulating many characters from earth heroes to some of the cosmic entities. This is especially true when Starlin writes him. Other Writers have him rely more on brute force.
  • Manly Tears: At the conclusion of the Thanos Quest mini-series, after realizing his plan to win Death's love has backfired.
  • Meaningless Villain Victory: He gets all the Infinity Gems in Thanos Quest, only to find out that Death still refuses to talk to him because with his new powers he's not her equal but her superior.
  • Mighty Glacier: Subverted; he looks like one, and he's as strong as one, but he has very fast reflexes and is an experienced fighter. Most of the time he just stands still and takes the attacks his opponents throw at him, not because he can't dodge them, but because he doesn't need to.
  • Mutants: His mutation is the reason for both his physical deformities and his vast strength.
  • Names to Run Away from Really Fast: His name is Greek for 'death'.
  • Nigh-Invulnerability: As an Eternal, he has complete control over every last molecule in his body and thus is very hard to hurt. A few feats of him include the following
    • An attack from an angry Silver Surfer directly to his face did accomplish next to nothing.
    • He was completely unfazed by the effects of Reality Warping.
    • He's also able to take a full-blown shout from Black Bolt right in the face. Black Bolt's whispers can demolish buildings. All the shout did was destroy his armor and make him bleed.
    • He even took blasts from Odin and Galactus and managed to live.
  • No-Holds-Barred Beatdown: Is quite fond of delivering these. Just ask the Silver Surfer.
  • Non-Linear Character: The Infinity Gems, specifically the Time Gem which has the power to see in the past and in the future, allowed Thanos to become this and being able to interact with his past self in the Thanos Annual.
  • No Man Should Have This Power: Unconsciously, he doesn't believe he deserves the power provided by the various Macguffins he gets, as explained by other tropes on the page.
  • Not So Different: When Thanos and Annihilus met, they both realised they had common ground (their relationship with Death).
  • Odd Friendship: With Adam Warlock since the end of Infinity Gauntlet.
  • Offing the Offspring: Sui-San, his mother, tried to kill the newborn Thanos the first time she laid her eyes on his deformities, seeing in them his future of being an Omnicidal Maniac. A'Lars, Thanos' father, prevented her from doing so, seeing great potential in him as a mutant Eternal. Thanos has also hunted down and murdered the many children he sired across the galaxy and the primary reason he attacked Earth during Infinity was to kill Thane, his Inhuman son.
    • When Nebula claimed to be Thanos' granddaughter, he responded by trying to kill her.
    • He also helped Warlock, Gamora, Spider-Man and Genis-Vell destroying the Thanosi clones he created.
  • Omnicidal Maniac: Includes his days as wielder of the Infinity Gauntlet and prior to them. He returned to this mindset after being brought back to life during the "Cancerverse" invasion, and has switched back and forth depending on the writer ever since.
  • Omnidisciplinary Scientist: Could give Reed Richards a run for his money on this department.
  • One-Man Army: With the super strenght and strategic tendencies that he has, its no wonder he can defeat large numbers of enemies by himself, as shown in the first issue of the Cosmic Powers miniseries where he effortlessly wiped the floor with an army of alien warriors.
  • Opening a Can of Clones: As mentioned above, because he didn't like how other writers ignored Thanos development from villain to anti-hero after the Infinity Gauntlet, Jim Starlin introduced the Thanosi clones in Infinity Abyss to retcon Thanos purely villainous appearances in Ka-Zar, Thor and Avengers Celestial Quest
  • Pet the Dog: Has at least some fondness for his adopted daughter, Gamora. She was a means to an end against the Magus however, and Thanos was perfectly willing to kill her.
  • Physical God: More so than his fellow Titan Eternals thanks to the mutation that granted him a Deviant-like appearance. Even without powerful artifacts like the Infinity Gauntlet and the Cosmic Cube he is still one of the most dangerous beings in the Marvel verse.
  • Pinball Protagonist: His backstory comic, Thanos Rising, spends much of each issue acting on suggestions from Death, who is constantly nagging him to commit murders. Even when he becomes a space pirate captain, it's because he accidentally won a duel with the old captain. He swings a sword with his eyes shut and kills him without meaning to, and so gains authority by sheer accident.
  • Purple Is Powerful: He's purple and he has beaten plenty of Marvel's heavy hitters.
  • The Quest: The Thanos Quest that is.
  • Quirky Miniboss Squad: The Black Order, and prior to them, Zodiac.
  • Rage Against the Heavens: His fight with the cosmic entities in The Infinity Gauntlet.
  • Reality Warper: Became this when he had the Cosmic Cube, the Infinity Gems and the Heart of the Universe.
  • Really Gets Around: In his younger years. Not for the pleasure, mind you, but to find satisfaction in the act of love along with many other goals to find his purpose in life. That is, before he settled with Death.
  • Red Baron: The Mad Titan.
  • Remember the New Guy:
    • Infinity introduced the Black Order, the top generals in Thanos' army. Despite this, they're treated like they've always been there, with Supergiant even mentioning that she first encountered Thanos when she was in an orphanage as a young child. The A God Up There Listening mini-series also depicted them in a flashback story, showing them fighting alongside Thanos against Ego the Living Planet.
    • The 2016 Jeff Lemire introduced the Black Quadrant, Thanos' moon stronghold. Again, it's treated like it was always there, even though it'd never been seen or mentioned before this.
  • Retcon:
    • Because he didn't like what other writers did with Thanos, Jim Starlin has often done this. See Actually a Doombot above.
    • On the flipside, Thanos Rising retcons many of the details of Thanos' origin that Starlin had established in the 2004 Thanos solo series. Among other changes:
      • In Starlin's origin, Thanos was treated like an outcast and discriminated against because of his Deviant appearance. Rising instead shows that Thanos had many friends as a child and was indeed quite popular, with his gradual withdrawal from society being of his own volition.
      • Starlin's origin states that Thanos first encountered Mistress Death as an adult while exploring the ruins of an ancient temple. In Rising, Death actually seeks out Thanos and approaches him at school while he's still a child.
      • A major part of Thanos' original Start of Darkness was that his father exiled him from Titan for performing forbidden experiments that resulted in the deaths of some of the test subjects. In Rising, Thanos actually flees Titan as a teenager after killing his mother.
      • Starlin's origin suggested that Thanos had a fairly good relationship with his mother, as she only died when he destroyed Titan years later, and Thanos even says she was the one member of his family he might actually have spared. In Rising, they have an antagonistic relationship literally from day one, with his mother trying to kill him as soon as he's born.
  • Resurrected for a Job:
    • In Silver Surfer #34, after 8 years of absence in comics, Mistress Death ressurects Thanos to ask him to fix a cosmic inbalance by Killing half of the population of the universe.
    • And again in The Thanos Imperative, where Death brought him back as a Batman Gambit to destroy the Cancerverse.
  • Sadist
  • Self-Made Orphan: Kidnapped and vivisected his mother as a young man in Thanos Rising, and killed his father with a single blow years later in the 2016 Thanos series.
  • Serial Killer: In his younger years, mostly as practice for his omnicidal tendencies as an adult.
  • Slasher Smile: with shades of Smug Smiler.
  • Sliding Scale of Villain Effectiveness: Thanos is in the High category, as he usually gets portrayed as the biggest and baddest bad of all Big Bads in the Marvel Universe. This is really true when Jim Starlin writes him, as Starlin portrays Thanos as a character who is, for all intents and purposes, unstoppable—except for a subconscious desire to be defeated.
  • Smug Super: And unfortunately for the cosmos, he has the power and wits to back it up.
  • The Sociopath: Apathetically butchered over a hundred people on Titan.
  • Space Elves: The Eternals of Titan tend to fit the trope: Long-lived, scholarly, reclusive, ancient, mystical, powerful and usually robed.
  • Space Pirates: Was a member of a crew of them during his youth.
  • Stable Time Loop: Thanos Annual #1 reveals how Thanos survived his crushing defeat at the end of his first encounter with Captain Marvel and the Avengers. It turns out a despondent Thanos was taken to Mephisto's realm and nearly destroyed, only for a future avatar of Thanos (created during the period where he had the Infinity Gauntlet) to arrive and rescue him. The avatar then showed Thanos glimpses of the future and what was in store for him, instilling in him a subconscious drive to rebound from this defeat and set his sights on the Infinity Gems.
  • Stalker With a Crush: To Death. The entity even described him as a creepy stalker during the wedding of Rick Jones.
  • Story-Breaker Power: You think him with the Infinity Gems was bad? The Heart of the Universe is even worse. The difference between that and the Infinity Gems is minor but huge at the same time as it allowed him to absorb the entire universe into one singularity and then recreate it after having a change of heart.
  • Straw Nihilist: He is a nihilist in most incarnations.
  • Sufficiently Advanced Aliens: Comes with being an eternal who descended from Kronos.
  • Superior Successor: His son Thane in all respects. One hand can rewrite reality. The other hand can trap anyone in "living death" including Thanos. And under the tutelage of Ebony Maw, he may very well become a worse monster than Thanos ever was.
  • Super Strength: You better believe it. He destroyed a planet as a side effect of his battle with Drax, he nearly beat the Silver Surfer to death, and managed to stand up to Odin for a little while before being beaten.
  • Super Weight: A level 5, who has defeated various heavyweights. With the Cosmic Cube he was a Level 6, and with the Infinity Gauntlet a high Level 6. With the Heart of the Universe (which is non-canon by now) he became an even higher Level 6, capable of even absorbing the Living Tribunal.
  • Super Wheelchair: His space throne is capable of travelling through both space and dimentions has seen in Thanos Quest.
  • Take a Level in Badass: This is practically his gimmick and outside of losing reality warping artifacts like the Infinite Gauntlet, he's typically not subject to Power Creep, Power Seep. He started life off as an especially powerful Eternal from Titan, albeit a mutant freak version. This just meant he was bigger, stronger and a whole lot uglier than many others from that race. Using bionics and black magic, he became one of the rare Class 100 muscle-men in the Marvel universe. After he got his hands on a Cosmic Cube, he used it to have the strength to match an angry Hulk and his cosmic energy powers and invulnerability went up tremendously. And he never lost this level of power even after getting petrified and losing the Cosmic Cube. Later he becomes an Avatar of Death and gains true immortality (Eternals from Titan just have long life-spans, which is why his dad Mentor looks like a rancid old fart) and a further heightening of all his powers and stats. This largely stuck and allowed him to squish a squad of Thors in the Secret Wars (2015) comic.
  • Taken for Granite: His first death involved him being turned into solid granite by Warlock's spirit.
  • Telepathy: To which offensive degree varies, but his defensive capabilities are almost unmatched. He has casually and repeatedly repelled telepathic assault from powerful psychics such as Moondragon, Mantis or Cosmo, sometimes even simultaneously.
  • Throw the Dog a Bone: His decision to sacrifice his existence in order to restore the universe in Marvel Universe: The End is rewarded with the one thing he has always wanted - a kiss from Mistress Death.
    • Also later in Annihilation when he gets to be together with Death after being killed by Drax.
  • Token Evil Teammate: He was briefly part of Adam Warlock's Infinity Watch and was a member of the Secret Defenders for an arc.
  • Trojan Prisoner:
    • In Secret Wars 2015, he let himself be taken prisoner at the Shield so he could convince Ben Grimm to attack Doctor Doom.
    • In The Ultimates (2015), after his capture at the start of Civil War II, he manipulated Anti-Man into freeing both of them, before trying to kill the team.
  • Übermensch: He sees himself above good and evil and thinks that everybody would be better off dead.
  • Unexplained Recovery: At the end of The Thanos Imperative, Thanos was stuck in a collapsing dead universe. When he reappeared, there was absolutely no explanation as to how he escaped, or indeed any for the next couple of years. It was finally explained during Original Sin.
  • Unholy Matrimony: With Hela as of Unworthy Thor #5. She promises him everything he has ever wanted in exchange for him helping her take back her kingdom and the two share a passionate kiss.
  • The Unfettered: Whenever schemes, scruples are never a concern of his.
  • Underestimating Badassery: Oddly for all his cunning with everyone else, Thanos does this with his rival Annihilus. Annihilus is the supreme lord of the antimatter universe and has cosmic powers. Thanos knows enough that Annihilus is extremely dangerous and respects the big bug as a heavy-weight. However, he still keeps on underestimating Annihilus's ability to think outside the box and ends up getting a big unpleasant surprise such as when Annihilus turned Galactus into a WMD with Thanos's help and another time in the Hulk vs Thanos miniseries, Annihilus permanently ends up getting the Hulk's size and strength from right under Thanos's nose. Thanos almost did a facepalm, when he saw how Annihilus bulked up.
  • Unstoppable Rage: Thanos did not take kindly to being resurrected. It took several days, and levelling an entire planet (with a population of several million) beforehand, to calm him down.
  • Used to Be a Sweet Kid: Despite his strange appearance, he had a loving father and many friends. He was also sickened when he was first made to dissect something.
  • Villain Ball: Several times has suffered from this at the verge of absolute victory. Adam Warlock theorized that he let himself be defeated, because subconsciously he found himself unworthy of the absolute power he tried to claim.
  • Villainous Breakdown: Had several during The Thanos Imperative, mostly because he was unwillingly resurrected and afterwards confronted with a whole Eldritch Abomination-like universe filled to the brim with what he hates the most: Life.
  • Villainous Crush: In Thanos Rising, when he was a kid, he had an unrequited crush on a friend who was rather vicious for an Eternal. She influenced him into doing things that eventually lead him to become the person who he is in the present. As a young adult, she convinced him kill his previous lovers and children, and told him that she was in fact, Death. At the end of that series, he shows that he eventually got over her. Maybe.
  • Villain Decay: Thanos was a recurring foe for Captain Mar-Vell and rhe Avengers, and was powerful enough to take on multiple teams of superheroes at the same time. Then during the 90's, he started getting Worfed by characters like Thor (who was never able to match Thanos one-on-one previously) and Ka-Zar (who is just a Badass Normal), as well as losing the character development he'd previously gone through and becoming a generic Evil Overlord. This led to Jim Starlin, Thanos' creator, retconning those past defeats and out of character moments by claiming they were simply clones, and that the real Thanos had been been biding his time in the shadows.
    • A similar example happened more recently in stories written by Brian Bendis. See Invincible Villain above.
  • Villain Protagonist: In the series that has him as a protagonist, including both his own self-titled series as well as, arguably, Infinity Gauntlet with Adam Warlock as the other main character.
  • Villain Respect: He is very respectful of Adam Warlock, to the point of considering him his only friend. He also does this to Captain Mar-Vell and Captain America for their unbending bravery in front of impossible odds.
  • Walking The Galaxy: After Infinity Gauntlet, he's often shown wandering through space when he's not attending his farm. The best example of this is Keith Giffen's Samaritan miniseries that protrays Thanos as a sort of pilgrim.
  • What The Hell, Villain?: During Infinity Crusade, Thanos gets called out for allying with Mephisto - not only for Mephisto being a devil (or maybe The Devil), but because Mephisto already tried to betray Thanos during Infinity Gauntlet. However, it turns out that Thanos already anticipated exactly how Mephisto would betray him and prepared everything to thwart Mephisto's plans.
  • Where I Was Born and Razed: One of his major villainous acts was dropping nuclear bombs on his homeworld of Titan.
  • Who Wants to Live Forever?: It makes it difficult to unite with his one true love - Death.
  • Wolverine Publicity: After his appearance in the stinger of The Avengers movie, he has been all over the place in comics, with varying degrees of quality. See Depending on the Writer above.
  • The Worf Effect: On both the giving and receiving end of this_
    • His disembodied spirit blasted Silver Surfer through Death's temple with Surfer commenting that he never felt such power before.
    • He manages to make a fool out of the Champion of the Universe, who, in his first appearance, defeated some of Marvel's strongest superheroes in a boxing match.
    • He managed to stalemate Tyrant, who previously defeated powerful space heroes like Silver Surfer, Gladiator and Beta-Ray Bill.
    • He knocked down Galactus and his helmet with a hand blast.
    • He got reduced to a skeleton by God Emperor Doom in Secret Wars (2015).
    • He gets smacked around by a Hulk-powered Annihilus for a bit in Jim Starlin's graphic novels.
  • Would Hit a Girl: He has zero problems with hurting female characters. The most egregious example is when he ripped one of Moondragon's ears.
  • Xanatos Speed Chess: Is a frequent player of this, especially under Jim Starlin. Usually involves quick changes of alignments (or backstabbing). Even when it backfires, he usually comes out on top (such as during Annihilation. Yes, he got killed, but by that he was finally at Death's side again).
  • Yandere: When Deadpool got together with Death, Thanos cursed him with full immortality so he'd never see her again.
  • You Can't Fight Fate: See Failure Is the Only Option and His Own Worst Enemy above.


Who could have guessed that becoming God would prove to be such a hollow victory?


http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Comicbook/Thanos