Film / Doctor Strange
aka: Doctor Strange
"Forget everything that you think you know."
Karl Mordo

Doctor Strange is a 2016 American superhero film based on the Marvel Comics character of the same name, and the fourteenth film entry of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. The film is directed by Scott Derrickson and written by Jon Spaihts and C. Robert Cargill, with some additional material by Dan Harmon added during reshoots.

Its story revolves around Doctor Stephen Strange, a brilliant neurosurgeon whose career is ruined after a car accident causes irreparable nerve damage in his hands. Searching for a means to cure himself, Strange comes across a mysterious practitioner of mysticism called the Ancient One, who offers to help Strange in exchange for him becoming their latest disciple in a Secret War against the supernatural evils of the universe.


Previews: Trailer 1, Trailer 2

Not to be confused with Doctor Stranger.

Character tropes go on to the Characters Sheet.

Doctor Strange provides examples of:

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    Tropes A to L 
  • Acid-Trip Dimension: As the Ancient One is very proud of mentioning and showing to Strange first-hand, a LOT of alternate dimensions would not look out of place in an LSD trip. The Dark Dimension in particular appears in all its classic psychedelic glory. This is lampshaded by Strange asking the Ancient One what was in the tea he just drank after seeing that.
  • Action Prologue: The Ancient One demonstrating her Reality Warper powers when fighting Kaecilius and his mooks in the streets of New York.
  • Actually Pretty Funny: Wong consistently fails to find humor in Strange's jokes. But the Bond One-Liner after defeating Kaecilius in the climax causes him to burst out laughing, earning him surprised looks from Strange and Mordo.
  • Actually, That's My Assistant: Strange meeting the Ancient One initially mistakes one of the other masters as the Ancient One. He seems to have been placed there to intentionally force this, since the real Ancient One then thanks him and he walks out.
  • Adaptational Badass:
  • Adaptational Heroism:
    • Baron Mordo is traditionally portrayed as Strange's rival and enemy. Here, he seems to be his friend, mentor and ally instead. The end of the film and the second post-credits scene, however, show pretty clearly that his disillusionment with the Ancient One and Strange's willingness to bend the rules and use forbidden magics will lead him down darker paths in future. Just look at what he does to Pangborn...
    • In ''Doctor Strange: The Oath", Nicodemus West is the big bad, but here is just another well-meaning doctor.
    • A minor example: Dr. Strange in the beginning seems much more approachable than his comics counterpart, even letting a patient's relative hug him. In the comics he made it clear that he didn't care about his patients once they were cured. He doesn't properly start acting like Doctor Strange until after his accident.
  • Adaptational Wimp:
    • Nicodemus West, who was a fellow student of the Ancient One in the comics and a skilled fighter.
    • While still powerful, the Eye of Agamotto is drastically nerfed for the film. Its powers are also limited to time manipulation, whereas the comics version of the Eye can do anything. The comics version also doesn't rely on an infinity stone for its power. Granted, it's possible that it has other abilities and time magic is simply the only one Strange got the chance to read up on.
  • Added Alliterative Appeal: Lampshaded by Strange in-universe.
    Mordo: There are many relics. The Wand of Watoomb. The Vaulting Boots of Valtorr.
    Strange: Really just roll off the tongue, don't they?
  • An Aesop:
    • Fittingly for a character so steeped in Eastern mysticism, the film ends with a strong Buddhist message about not clinging to the past and letting time progress naturally, even if it means you have to go forward with a crippling injury, reach the end of your life, or give up your Evil Plan in order to get out of an endless time loop an annoying sorcerer has trapped you in.
    • The movie discourages reckless driving - there's even a quick message urging viewers to drive responsibly at the end of the credits.
  • Alien Geometries: In the Mirror Dimension, sorcerers can ignore certain laws of physics, enabling them to run up walls and jump large distances. However, those who tap into energies of the Dark Dimension can weaponize the environment in the Mirror Dimension, twisting it into impossible shapes, including building or entire rooms that shift like a kaleidoscope, creating hallways with infinite depth, and wrapping the entirety of New York City around giant floating cubes. One of the most alarming things to the Ancient One is that Kaecilius can do it in the real world too.
  • All Your Base Are Belong to Us: Kaecilius' plan to call forth the Dark Dimension is to systematically destroy the three Sanctums of Agamotto, in London, New York and Hong Kong, to bring down the protective spell surrounding Earth. The London and Hong Kong Sanctums quickly fall to his assault, the New York Sanctum is heavily damaged in his duels with Strange, but still standing, and the Hong Kong Sanctum is rebuilt by Strange's intervention with the Eye of Agamotto.
  • Ancient Artifact: Many Relics in Kamar-Taj are pretty old, but the most ancient is the Eye of Agamotto, which was created by the first sorcerer, Agamotto, using the Infinity Stone of Time. It can manipulate the stream of time.
  • And I Must Scream:
    • Strange, by the end, is willing to endure an eternity of torture at Dormammu's hands, betting that Dormammu will tire of the entrapment before Strange. He's proven right and they agree to end the loop.
    • One of the conditions of Strange's bargain is that Dormammu leaves Earth for good, and takes Kaecilius and his Zealots with him to the Dark Dimension. Strange tells them they're getting eternal life as they wanted, and they're not gonna like it — from what we see, the flesh gets flayed from their bodies as they eternally and helplessly spin through the Dark Dimension.
  • Another Dimension: This film introduces the concept of the infinite Multiverse to the MCU, with an infinite number of dimensions and worlds filled with infinite horrors, threats, powers and mind-bending physics galore. The Ancient One quite literally sends Strange flying head-first into the weirdness of the Multiverse in their first meeting to rather thoroughly cure him of his skepticism.
  • Arbitrary Skepticism:
    • Strange is oddly skeptical of magic in a world where the existence of superhumans, aliens, killer robots, psychics and Norse gods is public knowledge.
      Dr. Stephen Strange: I don't believe in fairy tales about chakras, or energy, or the power of belief.
    • After Strange explains to Christine what happened to him after they meet again - with him in his full sorcerer regalia - she's skeptical and convinced he's joined a cult, despite his astral form advising her on a medical procedure to save his life not five minutes earlier.
    • Strange gets irate when The Ancient One starts talking about "reorienting the spirit" even though Pangborn told him flat-out that the person he was sending him to didn't cure him with medicine or science.
  • Arc Symbol:
    • The Seal of Vishanti, which appears on the Eye of Agamotto Strange wears around his neck and on the large circular window in the Sanctum Sanctorum.
    • The red symbol from The Book of Cagliostro, which marks spells and people drawing upon the Dark Dimension.
  • Arc Welding: Much like Guardians of the Galaxy, while the film does not have many connections to The Avengers, it does end up having one really big one, namely the reveal of another Infinity Stone. Also, the first stinger is basically a teaser for Thor: Ragnarok.
  • Artistic License – Medicine: There were a few glaring errors with the medicine depicted in the film.
    • Stephen Strange is first introduced while scrubbing for surgery. He meticulously washes his hands, dries them with a sterile towel and dons a sterile gown - all very accurate. He then reaches up with his cleaned hands and ties on his non-sterile face mask, contaminating his hands. In real life the face mask is either put on before starting to scrub, or is tied on by another person.
    • When Strange goes into cardiac arrest after being stabbed, he flatlines. Christine revives him by shocking him with a defibrillator, which only works on very irregular heartbeats. Possibly justified, as magic was involved.
    • In the aforementioned scene Dr. Strange goes into cardiac arrest in, at a certain point he "astral-projects" his soul out of his body, which makes Christine who's operating on him, freak out, scream, and touch her face-mask. In a real-life surgical situation, her touching this non-sterile material would have necessitated her doing the whole scrubbing procedure again, but she continues to work after getting contaminated.note 
    • Medical school and medical laws are extremely insistent that doctors should never treat anyone who's a personal friend or relative, let alone a romantic interest, because by definition you can't properly medically assess, let alone treat, anyone you have a more-than-professional interest in. Christine's medically treating Dr. Strange, who's not only a co-worker she's close to but actually an ex-lover, crosses all the lines and all the codes medical doctors are held up to. For that matter, Strange probably wouldn't be allowed to take part in operating to try and save the Ancient One, even if he's only observing or giving advice, since he's clearly emotionally attached to her.
    • Christine, a surgical specialist doctor, is shown to wear nail polish and ear rings. Rules for surgical personnel are very strict in that you can't wear any jewelry, especially ringsnote , and no nail polish. The ear rings would probably be a grey area, but still, the nail polish alone would disqualify her to be a surgeon in real life.
    • After being stabbed in the attack on the Sanctum Sanctorum, Strange develops pericardial tamponade (for laypersons, this means the injury has caused bleeding into the lining of the heart which has compressed the heart enough that it cannot pump blood properly). Christine correctly administers emergency treatment by draining the blood with a needle and syringe, but is then shown merely stitching up the skin under local anaesthetic. An injury of that severity would need a far more extensive surgery to repair, which would need to be carried out by a cardiothorasic specialist surgeon under general anesthetic. It's lampshaded when Christine tries to get Strange back onto the gurney and get him further treatment, but he waves her off and leaves, mostly living, and it's heavily implied Strange just did what Pangborn did: channel magic into himself.
    • Strange's insistence notwithstanding, no way in hell would any ER allow a patient with an open chest wound to be treated by a single physician, and his first dramatic entrance would generate easily as much interest as his second one with the Ancient One.
  • Astral Projection: As with the comics, it is present here. This is one of the Sorcerers' main skills: being able to project their astral forms out of their bodies. Strange, The Ancient One and even Kaecilius's mook Lucian use it. In fact, most of the fight between Strange and Lucian is between their astral forms.
  • Audience Surrogate: Christine Palmer has been described as a viewpoint character for the audience, as she is a normal surgeon that knows Strange both before and after his transformation.
  • Back from the Dead: At the end of the film, Strange has to turn back time to help rescue the citizens killed in the Hong Kong Sanctum's destruction, including Wong.
  • Bait and Switch:
    • Upon arriving at the dojo, Strange sees an old, bearded Asian man and assumes that he's the Ancient One. Seconds later, he's greeted by the real one, who reveals that the man is just another Master.
    • The Ancient One offers to teach "broken people" magic that they can use to heal themselves, but withholds the true purpose of sorcerers until later when she tries to get them to join the fight against extra-dimensional threats. This worked on Mordo, but not Pangborn; her offer to make Strange "master" of the NY Sanctum was a presumptuous and clumsy attempt, but was smoothed over in their final conversation.
  • Beard of Sorrow: The clean-shaven Strange grows a messy beard after his hands are ruined and he loses his career, and trims it back to a well-kept goatee after finding new purpose as a sorcerer. Justified insofar as his ruined hands prevent him from shaving, at least with a traditional razor.
  • Be Careful What You Wish For: The Zealots get their eternal life, but it's implied to be far from the paradise they thought it to be. Strange even lampshades this, as their flesh disintegrates and they're dragged into the Dark Dimension.
  • Be Gone Bribe: Played with in The Stinger. Strange, rather understandably, does not like Asgardians hanging around New York. So when Thor assures him that they'll leave (promptly) once they find Odin, he agrees to help.
  • Berserk Button: A bit subtle, but you'll notice that The Ancient One really doesn't like being talked back to. When she and Strange first met, he took his time to tell her that he thinks that she and everything she stands for is bullshit, which results in her forcibly showing him the way, then refusing to teach him when he finally does believe. Later, when Strange realizes that she's drawing her immortality from the Dark Dimension, he calls her out on it, at which point she tells him to choose his words carefully.
  • Big Applesauce: NYC is the location of one of the Sanctums, and is warped into a kaleidoscopic sauce of Alien Geometries and Escher-esque Bizarrchitecture.
  • The Big Damn Kiss: Subverted. Strange sincerely apologizing to Christine about the Jerk Ass he was seems to set up one of those. Instead, she just gives a Last Kiss on his cheek and leaves.
  • Big "NO!": Kaecilius when Strange uses the Eye of Agamotto to trap him into a building while reversing time.
  • Bittersweet Ending: Strange managed to repel Dormammu and Kaecilius away from the earth dimension and receives a new career as a protector of dimensions, but the Ancient One is killed in battle, and Mordo, having been disillusioned by the Ancient One's breaking of the same rules she laid down for her acolytes, is now showing signs of becoming a Knight Templar as he strives to kill other sorcerers and/or steal their power.
  • Black and White Insanity: One of the lessons of this movie is that rules sometimes must be broken for the greater good. Mordo's main character flaw is that he's a firm believer in Black and White Morality, and refuses to grasp that Strange using the Eye of Agamotto and the Ancient One using Dormammu's power to retain her life were done for the greater good, resulting in him becoming disillusioned and starting to purge sorcerers he deems "unworthy" of their power, such as Pangborn, who only used his magic to keep himself walking.
  • Bloodless Carnage: When the librarian is decapitated in the opening scene, there is no blood. In real life, blood tends to spray a bit when someone's head is quickly removed.
  • Body Motifs: Hands, specifically Strange's. His introductory scene is heavily focused on them, his trip to Kamar-Taj is to cure them, the Ancient One sends him to a flesh-like dimension of grasping hands, and he often ponders them when in thought or troubled.
  • Bond One-Liner: "You should have stolen the whole book because the warnings... the warnings come after the spells." (Cue Wong laughing at this).
  • Boss in Mook Clothing: One of Kaecilius's Zealots who fights with Strange in the New York Sanctum, a sleeveless man named Lucian, is no mere minion. He's one of the best hand-to-hand fighters in the film, giving Strange a good beating every time they meet, badly injuring him close to the fight's end. Nothing ever stops him from chasing Strange, not even being stranded in another dimension, or Strange's Cloak of Levitation keeping him busy while Strange hurries to the hospital; he still manages to channel his astral form, follow Strange, and continue to fight. It takes repeated supercharged defibrillator shocks from Christine to literally explode his soul, finally killing his physical form for good.
  • Break the Haughty: The basic premise. Stephen is put through the ringer in the first third of the film, curing him of his arrogance enough (though not completely) to beg the Ancient One to teach him, after having previously vehemently denied their powers.
  • Brick Joke:
    • Strange wonders if Wong will ever laugh. He does by the end of the film.
    • Tying into it, Strange makes a comment about Di Cagliostro needing warnings before its spells. At the end of the movie, he turns this into a Bond One-Liner after Kaecilius learns that the book features the warnings after the spells.
    • Strange, while trying to get a reaction from Wong, references several other figures who, like him, have Only One Name; one of these figures is Beyoncé. In the very next scene, Wong is seen listening to her music while Strange is busy taking books from Kamar-Taj's library.
    • Strange injures his hands as a result of distracted driving early in the movie. Nearly two hours later, at the very end of the credit roll with about a minute of film remaining, there is a warning against distracted driving.
  • Broken Pedestal: Strange and Mordo are severely disillusioned when they learn the Ancient One was channeling Dormammu's power to sustain herself. Strange comes to realize that she was doing what he'd always argued in favor of, bending or breaking rules when necessary. Mordo can't accept that.
  • The Cameo:
    • Besides the inevitable "Staneo", Strange has a conversation with Thor in The Stinger, setting up his possible involvement in Thor: Ragnarok.
    • There's also the unnamed cameo of Tina Minoru from Runaways.
  • Career-Ending Injury: Strange's hands are crushed in a car accident and rescue comes so late that the golden hour for repairing nerve damage passes before he can be taken to a hospital. The irreparable nerve damage, coupled with the crushed bones and metal splints needed to repair those, leave him with a severe tremor and loss of dexterity that costs him his career as a surgeon.
  • Central Theme: The film heavily focuses on themes based around time. Strange has a large collection of watches, and he keeps one with him (the one that broke in the car crash) during his time at Kamar-Taj. Then there's the Eye of Agamotto, which can bend time itself through the power of the Time Stone. The Ancient One speaks of foretelling the future (many futures) and is unaging. At the end, Strange uses the Eye's time-tampering abilities to undo the destruction of Hong Kong, as well as outsmart Dormammu with a "Groundhog Day" Loop.
  • Chain Pain: Mordo's main weapon, the Staff of the Living Tribunal, is able to separate into a whip-like chain of magical energy.
  • Chekhov's Gun:
    • Mordo's Vaulting Boots of Voltarr. They're the reason he's able to survive all of the falls in the main fights, since he lacks the Cloak of Levitation.
    • The fact that the Book of Cagliostro puts the warnings after the spells means that the pages Kaecilius stole didn't include the warning. This comes back to bite him tremendously.
    • Strange is warned that fiddling around with the Eye of Agamotto can cause him to get stuck in time loops. He remembered this, because he put himself into a time loop in order to also trap Dormammu in one.
  • Circling Monologue: Kaecilius and The Ancient One circle around another on a platform during their final confrontation.
  • Comic-Book Movies Don't Use Codenames: Mordo uses the title of Baron Mordo in the comics, as he was Transylvanian nobility, but that doesn't seem to be the case in the movie, where he just goes by his name, Karl Mordo. He's addressed as Mordo by the rest of characters.
  • Composite Character:
    • Early reports suggest that Baron Mordo will be "an amalgamation of several characters in the Strange canon," though, aside from Baron Mordo, which ones are unknown.
    • Likewise, Mads Mikkelsen has gone on record stating Kaecilius is based off a number of classic Doctor Strange foes.
    • Christine Palmer is used here as a supporting character, incorporating hints of her fellow Night Nurse, Linda Carter, who is the one with ties to Doctor Strange in the comics.
    • Much like the Cosmic Cube and the Space Stone, the Eye of Agamotto contains the Time Stone.
  • Continuity Nod:
    • An aerial shot of New York City shows Avengers Tower.
    • Doctor Strange is offered a patient who suffered intense spinal damage while testing a suit of power armor; it seems people are still attempting to recreate the Iron Man technology, as in Iron Man 2. It's also averted in that the patient in question — an "Air Force Colonel who crushed his spine in an experimental armor" — seemed like a pretty clear reference to War Machine's fate in Captain America: Civil War, but it's been confirmed he isn't Rhodey.
    • The file about Pangborn's injury is from Metro-General Hospital; the hospital is featured in Daredevil, Jessica Jones and Iron Fist (2017).
  • Contrived Coincidence: Doctor Strange visits the same physical therapy clinic that was attended by Pangborn and it is his story of miraculous recovery from a therapist know about his case and personally witnessed his recovery that Strange learns about Kamar-Taj. If these coincidences bother you, then imagine that the therapist researched the subject just to prove Strange's "arrogant ass wrong".
  • Cool Car: Strange's Lamborghini, which of course gets wrecked as part of his origin story.
  • Cool Sword: The Zealots are able to conjure up ghostly, wraith-like swords as their main weapons in close combat.
  • Create Your Own Villain: When Strange assumes a certain aspect of the Ancient One to be true, based on what he learned while testing the Eye of Agamotto and educated conjecture, and then voices that theory to her in Mordo's presence, it plants the seeds of doubt in Mordo's mind. The assumed aspect is that the Ancient One draws on the Dark Dimension to power her longevity. When Mordo sees the same symbol on her forehead as Kaecilius's, it destroys his faith in her as The Paragon. Further, his usage of a forbidden ritual is completely unacceptable to Mordo, and he comes to see sorcerers as arrogant mavericks flaunting the laws that were written to protect everyone from, say, getting horribly maimed by breaks in time and space.
  • Cue the Falling Object: After Strange shocks Christine with his astral form, the hospital around her is plagued by what looks like a poltergeistnote , and magic being proven true by a portal, she is scared witless by a broom falling to the floor.note 
  • Curb-Stomp Battle:Defied. Doctor Strange vs. Dormammu. The latter destroys the former with little effort so many times it becomes akin to The Many Deaths of You, thanks to a "Groundhog Day" Loop intended to keep Dormammu as trapped in time until he gives in to Strange. Strange essentially ends up winning the battle by annoying Dormammu until he submits.
  • Curse Cut Short: Right before Strange is crushed by a rock he tries to curse.
  • Dangerous Forbidden Technique:
    • The Eye of Agamotto's control over time is very useful but stated by Wong and Mordo to cause fracturing of the timelines if misused, or potentially trapping the user in a "Groundhog Day" Loop.
    • Drawing power from the Dark Dimension is forbidden due to its corruptive influence.
  • Darkest Hour:
    • Strange's happens when the Ancient One refuses to teach him and kicks him out of Kamar-Taj, as he has no other hope and no money to leave Nepal. After Mordo notes that the man has been sitting by the door and waiting (well, begging) to be let in for over five hours, the Ancient One eventually relents.
    • Earth as a whole undertakes one when Kaecilius and the zealots launch their assault on the Hong Kong Sanctum. Between their powers being amplified by the Dark Dimension, and Strange and Mordo arriving too late, the path is opened for Dormammu to invade; only by using the Eye of Agamotto to reverse time are things able to turn around.
  • David vs. Goliath: All the way throughout the movie, Kaecilius and his Zealots are far above Strange as far as training and magic skill goes, and he has to use his wits (or the Cloak of Levitation) to barely stand a chance. It goes Up to Eleven at the end: Dormammu is so beyond Strangenote  that even with the power of the Eye of Agamotto, Strange is only a nuisance.
  • Deal with the Devil: Funnily enough, this is part of how Strange defeats Dormammu. He traps Dormammu in a time loop, and forces him to make a deal that's heavily in Strange's favor just so Dormammu can get out of it.
  • Death Is Cheap: Strange dies a thousand cheap deaths while caught in an infinite time loop during his confrontation with Dormammu.
  • Destroy the Product Placement: Strange drives a Lamborghini Huracán Coupé, then wrecks it while driving recklessly in a career-ending accident. Amusingly, the Lamborghini website includes an entire page of breathless praise for the car's appearance in the film and as a turning point in the plot, without once mentioning what that role is.
  • Did Not Get the Girl: In an unusual twist for Marvel movies, Christine turns Strange down after the Ancient One dies. The damage Strange had done previously was too much, and even after he sincerely apologizes and becomes a better person, it's clear that it's too late for their relationship to recover. She gives a Last Kiss to Strange before leaving.
  • Didn't See That Coming: The Dark Dimension is literally timeless. So, when Strange brings along a Time Gem to trap them in a "Groundhog Day" Loop for eternity, Dormammu not only has no way to stop it, but couldn't even comprehend what was happening until Strange explained it to him.
  • Did You Just Scam Cthulhu?:
    • Strange sends Dormammu — the eldritch ruler of the Dark Dimension — packing by using the Eye to trap him in a time loop until the abomination begs for release via a very one-sided bargain in Strange's favour.
    • Similarly, The Ancient One spent centuries siphoning energy and immortality from either Dormammu's dimension or Dormammu himself, and then used it to bar him (and other extra-dimensional entities) access to Earth.
  • Dimension Lord: Dormammu, the ruler of the Dark Dimension, who is essentially omnipotent. This trope works against him, as Strange defeats him by using time magic, something that doesn't exist in his domain and thus Dormammu has no counter or power for it.
  • Disability-Negating Superpower: Pangborn managed to throw off his full body paralysis by channeling energies through his body.
  • Don't Try This at Home: Strange notes though the Book of Cagliostro has one of these warnings, it would be more sensible if it was written before the Dangerous Forbidden Technique as opposed to after. He invokes it in his Bond One-Liner.
  • Don't You Dare Pity Me!: Strange tells Christine this when she tries to comfort him after the accident. He doesn't want to be one of her "sob stories".
  • Doppelgänger Spin: In the Final Battle, Dormammu fires a laser beam right into Strange, but then the doctor pops up about twenty feet away. Dormammu suspects the Strange character he hit with the laser is an illusion, and upon hearing the new Strange say "this is real," he assumes this one isn't a projection and attacks him. In fact, none of them are illusions and it's real every time.
  • Dragged Off to Hell: The ultimate fate of Kaecilius and his followers; Strange forces Dormammu into making a deal with him, and part of that deal is dragging them off to the Dark Dimension.
  • Drives Like Crazy: Strange. Between checking his phone while at the wheel, overtaking on blind corners, and speeding in terrible weather conditions, the plot-triggering car crash is more or less entirely his own fault. The end credits even include a disclaimer to the effect of "Driving while distracted is extremely dangerous".
  • Dwindling Party: Kaecilius starts the film with about a dozen followers, but all but four of them are slaughtered by the Ancient One in the film's opening, and by the end of the film he is only left with two.
  • The Dying Walk: The Ancient One. As they lay dying on the hospital table they project their astral form out and float to a nearby balcony so they can admire the thunderstorm, as well as stringing out a few seconds into a few minutes so they can watch the snow fall. They also use the time to give some final advice and encouragement to Strange.
  • Early-Bird Cameo:
    • When the Ancient One sends Strange's astral body on a trip through dimensions to prove to him that magic is real, he comes face to face with Dormammu for a short second before being pulled back.
    • The Cloak of Levitation flies up as if in interest when Strange passes it by while exploring the New York sanctuary.
    • One of the weapons seen resembles The Staff of One, which is normally wielded by Nico Minoru from Runaways. The wielder seen, while uncredited, is Tina Minoru (Nico's mother). Runaways is slated to be adapted as a TV show sometime soon.
  • Eldritch Abomination: The Ancient One explains that the multiverse is filled with many wonderful and benevolent things, but also plenty of these. Dormammu is one such being, being described as older than time and full of ravenous hunger. When finally seen, his body is constantly rippling and shifting, and the way he's rendered gives the appearance he's part of the Dark Dimension itself. According to Word of God, the form we see is him mimicking Strange, as he has no actual form of his own. The protagonist's actor even voices him!
  • Eldritch Location: The whole Multiverse is full of other worlds that love to rip our laws of physics apart into little bits. Every single alternate dimension shown in the film has its own absolutely wacky laws of nature and reality and visual aspects that are completely alien to our human minds.
  • Empathic Weapon: The Cloak of Levitation definitely has a personality of its own, and assists Strange of its own volition. It is implied that many, or maybe all, magical artifacts work this way; Mordo, while demonstrating the Staff of the Living Tribunal and the Vaulting Boots of Voltarr, mentions that a relic decides when its wielder is ready to use it.
  • Enlightenment Superpowers: Magic in this film has four main uses: Astral projection, healing your own injuries, opening portals to teleport to other places and conjuring weapons. The first two of those are derived from the user learning his own potential and require focusing all the user's magic. The other two are some sort of magic that allows the user to manipulate the Mirror Dimension.
  • Eureka Moment: Kaecilius marvels at how the Dark Dimension is a place "beyond time". Conveniently enough, Strange has the time-controlling Eye of Agamotto a.k.a. the Infinity Stone of Time.
  • Even Evil Has Loved Ones: A prelude comic reveals that Kaecilius joined the Ancient One's disciples in an effort to reunite with his deceased wife and son, and turned on her when she refused to grant him sufficient knowledge of how to do so.
  • Evil Is Petty: The three thieves in Nepal rob a desperate, crippled man for his last possession: a watch. A very expensive watch, but still, a watch.
  • Evil Sorcerer: Kaecilius, a Sorcerer who seeks to open our universe to other dimensions, and with it all manner of an Eldritch Abomination.
  • Expository Hairstyle Change: Strange cuts his shaggy hair and trims his beard when becoming a disciple of The Ancient One.
  • Eye Scream: Downplayed, in that nothing happens to their actual eyes, but all the skin around the eyes of Kaecilius and his followers dies and dries and flakes away, leaving shiny, purple, very sore-looking flesh underneath.
  • Face Death with Dignity: A downplayed example. The Ancient One slows down the passage of time to milk her last moment on Earth for everything it's worth, but beyond that, she shows no resistance towards her impending demise.
  • Face–Heel Turn: Mordo's inability to reconcile his unwaveringly lawful tendencies with Strange and the Ancient One's willingness to bend the rules when required and violate the laws of nature — which is meant to be a big no-no — as well as his Broken Pedestal when Strange reveals that the Ancient One's immortality comes from the forbidden magics of the Dark Dimension set him on darker paths.
  • Facial Horror: The skin around the eyes of Kaecilius and his followers are all crumbling off, revealing burnt purple-black flesh underneath that give the impression, on first glance, that their eyes may have been magically burnt out. This foreshadows their ultimate transformation into Dormammu's minions, the Mindless Ones. Kaecilius also has a brand burned into his forehead. The Ancient One has the same brand thanks to the fact that she draws her immortality from the Dark Dimension.
  • Fingore: Strange's hands are crushed in his car accident, which costs him his medical career. He has rather prominent scars on the backs of his fingers from where orthopedic surgeons had to operate and then drill in splints to immobilize his hands.
  • Foreshadowing:
    • After first using the Eye of Agamotto, Strange is warned that recklessly manipulating time could result in him being trapped in a time loop. At the end of the film, he uses this aspect of the Eye's power to trap Dormammu and force him to agree to his deal.
    • As the Ancient One manipulates the environment in the Mirror Dimension to attack Kaecilius and his followers, Kaecilius declares her a "hypocrite". Later, during a conflict with Kaecilius, Strange takes the fight into the Mirror Dimension, where Mordo warns that Kaecilius and his followers can weaponize the environment. Revealing that the Ancient One was using magic she had trained Mordo and the others to fight against.
    • The Ancient One telling Mordo that inner demons never die when he says that he slew them. Hinting towards Mordo's eventual Face–Heel Turn.
    • When Strange first tries the Time spell, he moves a single apple back and forth, back and forth, through time. At one point, he pushes the apple too far into the future, and it starts to turn black. This is what happens to Kaecilius after Strange's bargain. It also foreshadows the time loop itself.
    • Strange's last memento of his old life is a watch, and he's willing to risk bodily harm to protect it. It ends up broken anyway. Christine gave to him when they were dating. It shows that he can care about someone other than himself, and foreshadows that he'll end up breaking time over it and the fact that they don't get back together.
    • When The Ancient One meets Strange, she touches the chakra/chi point in his forehead, and tells him "Open your eye", referencing the "Third Eye" spiritual concept. Of course, he ends up using the Eye of Agamotto, which opens when it's in use.
    • When Kaecilius meets Strange, he acts like he doesn't understand his name, in a bit of "Who's on first?"-style banter. The Ancient One also keeps calling Strange "Mr" instead of "Dr", and it turns out they're not so different.
    • Mordo says he would kill without hesitation to protect the universe. Even if he's killing other sorcerers, it turns out.
    • At the end of the Batman Cold Open, we see a passerby staring at The Ancient One's face. If you look closely, you can see that she's staring at TAO's brow, where the Dark Dimension symbol is probably still burning.
    • Strange wakes up after surgery to see the results of the operation on his hands, and says "I could have done better". One of the first bits of magic he learns is astral projection, which lets him supervise his own surgeries.
  • Funny Background Event:
    • While Wong is busy studying in the library, Strange is shown taking books from the shelves behind him using portals and disappearing when Wong turns around to look.
    • As Strange, bleeding to death, struggles to open a portal to the Hospital, the Cloak of Levitation ceaselessly bashes Lucian's head against everything.
  • Fun with Homophones: When Kaecilius misunderstands Strange's attempt to make him call Strange by his proper appellation, although he may just be trying to get under the good Doctor's skin.
    Kaecilius: We have not met, Mister...
    Dr. Stephen Strange: Doctor!
    Kaecilius: Mister Doctor?
    Dr. Stephen Strange: It's "Strange!"
    Kaecilius: Maybe, who am I to judge?
  • Gender Flip: The Ancient One is male in the comics, but played by actress Tilda Swinton in the film.
  • Genre Savvy: Strange doesn't even think about accepting Kaecilius' offer to join him because he's such an obvious bad guy.
    Strange: Come on! Look at your face!
  • Geometric Magic: The Instant Runes take the form of patterns of geometric shapes, especially squares and circles. This initially makes magic difficult for Strange, who can't draw out the runes with his crippled hands. This is subverted, however, when Strange complains to the Ancient One that his hands make it too hard for him, and she responds by requesting a flawless demonstration from a master who is missing his entire left hand.
  • God Test: When Strange believes The Ancient One is talking hocus pocus, she gives him a taste of her ability to go through dimensions which sweeps him off his feet.
  • Gone Horribly Right: At the end, Kaecilius and his disciples do get their desire for immortality as "part of the one". As Strange points out, they really won't enjoy it.
  • Gravity Screw:
    • Kaecilius and his mooks can defy gravity which they demonstrate during their Hallway Fight with Strange at the New York sanctum.note 
    • Dr Strange later obtains this power thanks to his Cloak of Levitation.
  • "Groundhog Day" Loop: Mordo and Wong criticize Strange for meddling with the Eye of Agamotto for many reasons, one of which is that it could have trapped Strange in a never-ending time loop. Strange forces Dormammu to retreat and take Kaecilius and his lackeys with him by trapping him in one.
  • Hallway Fight: Strange fights Kaecilius's mooks in a hallway at the New York sanctum.
  • Handicapped Badass:
    • One of the masters in Kamar-Taj is outright missing a hand, yet is still able to perform the magic the others can. This is used by the Ancient One to motivate Strange when he says he can't use magic because of his hands.
    • Strange himself zig-zags the trope. His hands are certainly useless for a great many tasks (if his attempts to shave and write his own name are any indication), and he at first has great difficulty with magic because he can't replicate the hand gestures precisely, but the Ancient One shows him that the gestures are not as important as the spirit, and Strange becomes better as he gains confidence. Even so, his lack of manual dexterity becomes more and more of an Informed Flaw as the film goes on, as he's shown making more precise movements without much hesitation. The Ancient One does mention that magic can be used to "reprogram" the body's cells to heal, and Pangborn has overcome his own crippling injuries by constantly channeling his magic through his body, which may partially explain the increase in Strange's ability to use his hands.
  • Hard Work Hardly Works: Averted big time; When Strange asks the Ancient One how he gets to where she is, she asks how he became such a successful surgeon, Strange's reply was "Study and practice, years of it." Her knowing look tells him her answer to his question is exactly the same. Immediately after, Stephen hits the books hard. The ensuing Training Montage is implied to compress several months. Even then, he can barely use the most basic spells and is still all but helpless against Kaecilius and his Zealots, only surviving thanks to the artifacts in the New York Sanctum — that he has no idea how to use — meaning it's mostly dumb luck and intervention by the Cloak of Levitation that saves him from certain death.
  • Heads I Win, Tails You Lose: Strange's final bargain with Dormammu is this. Either he traps Dormammu with him in a timeloop forever, or Dormammu relents and gives Strange what he wants.
  • Heroic Sacrifice: In the final battle, Strange traps himself and Dormammu in a "Groundhog Day" Loop in which Dormammu brutally kills him over and over again, because so long as the loop continues, Dormammu is unable to harm anyone other than Strange. He ends up making the ultimate sacrifice at least a dozen times before Dormammu gives up and agrees to leave.
  • Hopeless Boss Fight:
    • Mordo and Strange vs. the zealots in the Mirror dimension. While they can't destroy the Sanctum, they're even more dangerous there. Cue Mordo and Strange running for their lives.
    • The Final Battle is this on both ends: Strange has no chance of beating Dormammu... but because of the "Groundhog Day" Loop, Dormammu can't win either since every time he kills Strange, time just bounces back to the start.
  • Hunter of His Own Kind: In the stinger, we learn that Mordo has taken it upon himself to eliminate sorcerers from the world after being disillusioned by the Ancient One and Strange bending the rules.
  • Hypocritical Humor: Defied. The only hypocrisy in the movie (namely, the Ancient One using power from the Dark Dimension) is not played for humor at all. And Kaecilius admits that he is in no position to say that Mister Doctor is Strange.
  • Idiot Ball: Despite being otherwise clever and vastly intelligent, Stephen has two moments of this.
    • The car crash, since he isn't paying attention to the road, speeding in a terrible weather condition and overtaking on blind corners.
    • In Nepal, when three thugs corner him and demand his watch, he responds by punching one of them. With his ruined hands.
  • I'm a Doctor, Not a Placeholder:
    • Strange all but screams this once he realizes that his mystical training has essentially drafted him into a war against supernatural evil. Deep beneath his arrogance, he truly believes life is sacred, healing the sick is holy and that taking life is an unforgivable sin. Realizing he's killed one of Kaecilius' goons gives him a Heroic B.S.O.D..
    • Strange invokes this directly in the "Civil War Cure" ad, where he says he can't do anything about Bucky's arm because "I'm a doctor, not a mechanic."
  • Immortality Immorality: Living forever is treated as something very morally ambiguous. In order to do so, one needs to interact with the Dark Dimension, an evil universe which intends to assimilate Earth and eventually all dimensions into it. The Ancient One does this on a small-scale, which seems harmless until Kaecilius catches wind of it and begins a murder spree in an attempt to have all of Earth consumed by the Dark Dimension.
  • Impaled with Extreme Prejudice:
    • Daniel Drumm gets stabbed by Kaecilius's magical spear after the latter enters the New York Sanctum.
    • Strange is stabbed in the same way and has to teleport to Christine for emergency surgery.
    • The Ancient One gets nailed in the same way as those two, then falls roughly thirty stories. Even Christine leading a full team of surgeons can't deal with that.
    • One of the many, many ways Dormammu likes to kill is by throwing a volley of spears through his victim's body.
    • Wong suffers this before Strange's rewind of time outside the Hong Kong sanctum restores him to life.
  • Insistent Terminology: As he will constantly remind you, Stephen Strange is a doctor thank you very much. Not Mister, not Master... Doctor Strange.
  • Instant Runes: Sorcerers create glowing symbols in geometric patterns when they use magic, as a focusing mechanism for their spells. By default, they take on an amber hue, but channeling power from alternative sources can alter the color; spells involving the Dark Dimension turn red, while the Eye of Agamotto's energy imbues them with its characteristic shade of green.
  • Invisible to Normals: While the Ancient One seems able to see Strange's astral body when it's out of his physical one, Christine is incapable of that unless he explicitly addresses her.
  • Invulnerable Knuckles: A rare aversion, and here entirely justified as Strange's hands are still basically destroyed when he tries a punch. During the final fight, he lands a punch or two and it doesn't hurt him, so maybe his hands are healing, although the end scene shows the trembling continues.
  • Ironic Echo:
    • When Strange tries the forbidden timewarp spell, he gets berated by Mordo and defends himself by saying that they should have put the warnings before the spells. At the end when Kaecilius gets his wish for eternal life granted and gets dragged into the Dark Dimension, Strange comments:
    "Yeah, you know, you really should have stolen the whole book because the warnings...beat... the warnings come after the spells."
    • "specks in an indifferent universe".
  • Kick the Dog:
    • At the start of the film Strange is asked to help a man with a broken back, but he arrogantly refuses the case. He also refuses a case involving an elderly woman, because the odds of success are low enough it'll "ruin his record."
    • Strange goes off on Christine pretty viciously after yet another rejection for an experimental medical technique.
    • At the end of the film, Mordo takes away Pangborn's ability to walk, since he's become disillusioned with sorcery.
  • Kick the Morality Pet: After the car accident when Strange is frustrated about his injuries, he evicts Christine from his home while she had nothing but cared for him.
  • Killed Offscreen: In the finale of the film, Strange and Mordo discover that Wong and countless other civilians are dead due to Kaecilius's actions. Thanks to Strange using the Eye of Agamotto, it doesn't last.
  • Kirk Summation: When Kaecilius tries to convince Strange of the rightness of his cause, Strange admits he has a compelling argument — except a) he just saw him kill a guy, and b) working for Dormammu can't be all that beneficial if facial disfigurement is part of the package.
  • Laser-Guided Karma:
    • When driving a car right before his incident, Strange decides not to take on a particular patient because she's likely to be a failure and he doesn't want to damage his reputation. Later, his colleague refuses to take on his case for the very same reasons.
    • Subverted with Pangborn. When Strange hears about his seemingly miraculous healing and goes to ask him about it, the man mentions sourly that he was Strange's prospective patient, but was turned away for the same reason as above. However, seeing that Strange is seeking the same healing, he directs him to Kamar-Taj.
  • Last Kiss: At the end, Christine gives Strange a final kiss on the cheek before leaving him.
  • Leaning on the Fourth Wall:
    • Mordo saying "Forget everything you think you know" can easily be directed as much to longtime readers of Dr. Strange comics as it is to Stephen himself. Up to this point, the movie has been a largely faithful adaptation of the origin story from the 1960s. However, the moment Strange and Mordo step through the door after having said this marks the beginning of the more notable departures from the source material.
    • It could also be addressed to fans of the MCU as prior films (Thor in particular) tried to skate around mysticism and magic by explaining the supernatural as an advanced form of physics or science. One of the very first things the Ancient One says is how not everything is a science or a formula that man can just make sense of. And it only dives further into true magic from there.
  • Legacy Character: Kevin Feige has stated that, within the MCU, there have been several bearers of the Ancient One moniker, the current one being the latest to hold the title.
  • Let's Get Dangerous!: The moment where Strange puts the Cloak of Levitation on by his own (instead of it putting itself on) and then flips the collar high, the audience knows that he has committed to becoming a superhero. Then the cloak ruins the moment hilariously by trying to wipe the tears from Strange's face on its own.
  • Little "No":
    • The Ancient One's initial response to Strange's request to teach him.
    • Kaecilius also lets one out when Strange starts using the Eye of Agamotto to rewind time and fix the Sanctum that he and his followers had just destroyed.
  • Logical Weakness: Time doesn't naturally exist in the Dark Dimension. As such, when Strange traps Dormammu in a "Groundhog Day" Loop, he finds the entire concept of time incomprehensible (mistaking it for illusion) and maddening; and since he has no dominion over time despite his immense power, he's powerless to escape the loop and must bargain with Strange to free himself from it.
  • Lovecraft Lite: A splinter group of magic-users are helping an extra-dimensional Eldritch Abomination to swallow up Earth... but then Strange traps it into a "Groundhog Day" Loop and will only release it if it agrees to leave Earth alone.

    Tropes M to Z 
  • Mage in Manhattan: In the Action Prologue, when Kaecilius and his mooks open the gates of the New York sanctum and enter the streets.
  • Magic A Is Magic A: Sorcerers channel power from other planes of existence, and some planes are more vulnerable to the energy of other dimensions (i.e someone who draws power from the Dark Dimension can bend the Mirror Dimension easily and can manipulate planes beyond it). Sorcerers can imbue power into mystic objects, like Mordo's Staff of the Living Tribunal, but can also utilize non-mystic but powerful objects like an Infinity Stone.
  • Magical Defibrillator: As stated above, when Stephen must undergo defib, he asks Christine to amp up the potency, which ends up transferring energy to his astral form and gives him an edge against Lucian.
  • Magical Gesture: Played with. Sorcerers generally make particular gestures when wielding magic, but it's not really necessary — Strange can't duplicate the fine maneuvers because of the damage to his hands, but the Ancient One shows him that one of the masters is channeling the power just fine with only the stump of a wrist.
  • Magic Staff: A lot of Kamar-Taj's Relic weapons come in the form of staffs imbued with magic energy, like Mordo's Staff of the Living Tribunal.
  • Magic Versus Science: Surprisingly Defied. The Ancient One makes a point of explaining magic in scientific terms to Strange, such as comparing spells to programs and explaining how Pangborn healed his injuries in medical terms that Strange is familiar with. Likewise, at no point does she belittle Strange's scientific knowledge, instead calling it a "piece" of the greater whole. Of course, there's the fact that sorcerers have no issues with using modern technology; the password for Kamar-Taj's Wifi is "Shamballa". Strange even takes full advantage of this when a Zealot attacks him while Christine is treating him for a chest wound; upon realizing that the Magical Defibrillator hurts an enemy he's dueling even more than him, he has Christine up the voltage and shock him again in order to secure victory.
  • Manly Tears:
    • Kaecilius tears up as he espouses his ideology to Strange, explaining his actions as fighting back against the cruelty of time and death, and it's clear that his worldview is rooted in pain and sorrow.
    • Strange cries after the Ancient One dies and he says goodbye to Christine.
  • The Many Deaths of You: In the film's climax, while Strange traps himself and Dormammu on a "Groundhog Day" Loop, he is killed repeatedly and in various ways before the Dark Dimension ruler caves in.
  • Masquerade: Strange discovers that there is an entire secret world of supernatural evils and mystic arts hiding right under our noses even to this day. This is justified as the real purpose of the mirror dimension, and even the collateral damage in the final fight gets reversed through time along with Muggle memories, though there's the question of how they cover up The Ancient One being seen falling to her death in New York in daytime.
  • Mentor Occupational Hazard: The Ancient One is mortally wounded by Kaecilius, and dies despite the efforts Strange and Christine make to save her life. The lack of a Sorcerer Supreme means that Strange has to get creative for the final battle.
  • Mind Screw: Though sorcerers need to follow specific rules of casting mystic arts, no other laws of reality or the mind need apply to them. This is lampshaded by the Ancient One.
    Dr. Stephen Strange: This doesn't make any sense.
    The Ancient One: Not everything does. Not everything has to.
  • Mistaken for Servant: When entering Kamar-Taj, Strange immediately pegs an Old Master with a Wizard Beard for the Ancient One, and completely fails to pay attention to the bald woman serving him tea.
  • Moral Dissonance: After killing one of Kaecilius' henchmen, Strange is left suffering from a Heroic B.S.O.D. over the fact that he took a life, and then fervently argues with Mordo against killing people. Yet, by the climax of the movie, he has no problem subjecting Kaecilius and his men to a Fate Worse Than Death by letting them be sucked into the Dark Dimension by Dormammu and suffer for the rest of eternity. So, killing is bad, but subjecting people to a Fate Worse Than Death is okay?
  • Mundane Solution: For a given value of "mundane", but the problem of the Di Cagliostro's missing pages is solved not by a grand quest, but by Strange realizing that the Eye of Agamotto can take objects back in time, and casting its spell on the book.
  • Mundane Utility:
    • Once Strange learns the Astral Projection technique, he uses it to continue studying while his body is sleeping. This helps him to advance in his magical studies at a much faster pace.
    • Once Strange finally learns to use the Sling Ring properly, he's quick to learn how to abuse it — opening portals to nab books from the Library underneath Wong's nose (including at one point quite literally under his nose).
    • In The Stinger, magic can transform a tea cup into a beer stein and keep it from going empty.
  • Mysterious Protector: How Mordo is introduced to Strange; noticing him from a distance, following him with his hood down and he takes on the three thugs attacking him and dispatches them in a few seconds.
  • Mythology Gag: Has its own page.
  • Near Villain Victory: Kaecilius and his followers have already succeeded in destroying the Hong Kong sanctum by the time Strange and Mordo arrive, clearing the way for Dormammu's absorption of Earth into the Dark Dimension. It's only by Strange's decision to use time magic to reverse the events wrought by Kaecilius that he and Mordo begin to tip things in their favor.
  • Never Trust a Trailer:
    • In the trailers, Mordo delivers the line "there is no other way" to Strange in a stern, yet reassuring tone. In the film, Mordo says it harshly and growling.
    • The trailers also show a figure falling from the sky towards a tesseracted version of New York City. In the movie, there are two figures falling.
    • In a TV spot for the film, Mordo screams after Stephen seemingly betrays him and Wong to join Dormammu. In the film itself, he silently stares as Strange flies away with a broken look of utter despair.
  • No Body Left Behind: Dormammu can shoot a ray of magic that atomizes the bodies of those caught in it.
  • No-Holds-Barred Beatdown: In Nepal, when Stephen refuses to hand his watch to the three thugs ambushing him by punching one of them, they respond by knocking him down and stomping on him. Good thing Mordo steps in.
  • Nothing Personal: Kaecilius has no specific quarrel with Strange and in their first encounter tries to get him to back away.
  • Not So Different: Strange and Kaecilius are noted by the Ancient One to be disturbingly similar: they were broken men that were looking to recover what was taken from them, both of them are arrogant, stubborn, and questioned the Ancient One's teachings a bit too much. It gets to the point where Strange confronts the Ancient One after learning that she draws her immortality from the Dark Dimension, and considers abandoning her teachings. When Strange met the Ancient One for the first time, he insisted that she's just a "tiny speck in an indifferent universe". When Strange accuses Kaecilius of being a murderer, he justifies himself by saying that the people he killed are just "specks in an indifferent universe" in the grand scheme of things.
  • Not What It Looks Like: Strange has problems explaining to Christine that he didn't join a cult — even if he went to the Far East, and followed the instructions of someone named "Ancient One" to "tap into powers I never even knew existed".
  • Offscreen Moment of Awesome: The last stands of the London and Hong Kong Sanctums don't happen onscreen, though judging by the aftermath of the battle in Hong Kong, it was pretty damn epic.
  • Off with His Head!: Kaecilius's first appearance has him behead the previous librarian of Kamar-Taj with magic, dropping his head into an ornate pot.
  • Oh, Crap!:
    • Subverted when Kaecilius spots Strange picking up a glowing chalice during the fight in the New York sanctum; he actually looks terrified briefly, but after a few seconds, says "You have no idea how to use that, do you?"
    • Strange after realizing that pulling Kaecilius and his followers into the Mirror World to prevent them destroying the Sanctum actually makes them a bigger threat.
    • Dormammu is initially confused the second time Strange arrives to bargain with him, then sounds aggravated when he arrives a third time, and shows increasing distress as Strange continues to bargain, despite Dormammu killing him.
    • And then when Dormammu swings either his fist or a giant club down on top of Dr. Strange's head, Strange has just enough to go "oh-" before dying.
  • O.O.C. Is Serious Business: The Ancient One initially spends her time with Strange reminding him that he gave up his life as a surgeon and calling him "Mister", seeming to take some amusement in his frustration, but once Strange has called her out on her usage of Dark Dimension energies in her magics:
  • Ooh, Me Accent's Slipping: Benedict Cumberbatch moves back and forth between a generic American accent and his natural British accent as Doctor Strange. In the climax, it briefly becomes Southern American for some reason (presumably to mess with Strange's opponent).
  • Opt Out:
    • Strange's first reaction when informed that the sorcerers of Kamar-Taj are engaged in a perpetual struggle against Eldritch Abominations from other dimensions is to announce that he wants no part in it.
    • Later, Mordo takes Strange's use of forbidden magic and the Ancient One's drawing from the Dark Dimension as a grave insult and leaves the order of mages.
    • Apparently. Pangborn walked away as well.
  • Our Wormholes Are Different: Sorcerers can form circular portals surrounded by golden flames to teleport halfway across the world in an instant, through the use of an item known as a "sling ring", which fits over his fingers akin to brass knuckles.
  • Outside-Context Problem: How Doctor Strange defeats Dormammu. He brings time into a place where it doesn't exist, and Dormammu has no way of dealing with it.
  • Phantom Zone: The Mirror Dimension looks like the real world on a basic level, but nothing that happens in it can damage the real world and it can't be observed from the outside. In the intro, the Ancient One uses it to fight the Zealots without anyone being the wiser or damaging the surroundings. As an added bonus, a sufficiently skilled magic user has the ability to manipulate it Reality Warper-style.
  • Place Beyond Time: The Dark Dimension, which is how Dormammu can promise eternal life, as time does not affect the residents. This bites him hard when Strange introduces a time loop into the Dark Dimension. Dormammu doesn't know how time magic works — he doesn't even know what time is — so he can't shift himself out of the loop like Kaecilius's zealots are able to do. His options are either killing Strange until he can't bear the suffering, or accepting Strange's bargain. The doctor ends up being more stubborn than the dimension lord.
  • Popcultural Osmosis Failure: Wong doesn't seem to get any of Strange's references to popular Western culture, like Beyoncé, though in the very next scene we hear Wong listening to Beyoncé's "Single Ladies" on his MP3 player.
  • Pre-Mortem One-Liner: Even if Strange is not (directly) causing the death afterwards, "No. I want to bargain."
  • Pride Before a Fall: As with the comics, Strange starts out as an insufferable neurosurgeon before his car accident. Said car accident was caused by him egotistically thinking of another high-profile patient, instead of paying attention to the road.
  • Product Placement: Dr. Strange's Tragic Keepsake is a Jaeger-LeCoultre watch, and his computer of choice is a Microsoft Surface Pro.
  • Properly Paranoid: Pangborn in the second stinger. When Mordo pays him a visit, he grabs a heavy crowbar just in case, even before Mordo starts to show that he's not entirely stable. Ultimately, it doesn't help him, but at least he manages to land a blow.
  • Race Lift:
    • Baron Mordo is white in the comics, but is portrayed by the black Chiwetel Ejiofor.
    • The Ancient One is Tibetan in the comics, but is portrayed by the Caucasian Tilda Swinton here, and is identified in the film as Celtic.
  • Reality Ensues: Has its own page.
  • Reality is Out to Lunch: The Mirror Dimension is a pocket universe, an exact copy of the real world (as the name implies) where, while nothing can be physically affected or interacted with, the laws of physics, space and matter are at the mercy of its inhabitants. Gravity, local architecture, and space can be warped at will to create logic-defying worlds at its inhabitants' whimsy.
  • Red Pill, Blue Pill: Halfway through the movie, Strange is confronted with a choice: regain function in his hands and become a surgeon again or continue down his current path and master magic to become a sorcerer protecting the world from cosmic threats.
  • Red Right Hand: Kaecilius and his followers suffer from increasing deterioration of their faces around the eyes. This is even brought up in the film itself, since Strange points out that the facial disfigurement clearly marks them out as evil.
  • Reimagining the Artifact: Wong, for decades an infamous example of Ethnic Menial Labor in the comics, is given Adaptational Badass treatment as a fellow sorcerer and one of the mentors of Strange.
  • Ret Gone: While such a thing doesn't happen in the film, Mordo and Wong warn Strange that tampering with the Eye of Agamotto can mess with the space-time continuum in a number of ways, one such example being preventing his own birth.
  • R-Rated Opening: A man is strung up and decapitated (albeit with the latter shown only in silhouette) within the first two minutes of the film.
  • Running Gag:
    • Strange keeps on losing his Sling Ring during a fight between Kaecilius and his followers. The first time was with Kaecilius and he manages to steal one from Lucian, Kaecilius's right hand. The second time he loses his sling ring, Strange takes the Ancient One's sling ring as a Tragic Keepsake after Kaecilius kills her.
    • After their initial encounter, Kaecilius carrying on the initial misunderstanding between them by referring to Stephen as Mister Doctor.
    • The warnings for dangerous acts coming after the main material, and that it really should be the other way around. Forbidden magics, distracted driving, etc.
    • In a meta sense, this movie keeps up the running gag of characters having missing limbs or losing limbs in a reference to The Empire Strikes Back that started with Iron Man 3, with Master Hamir having a missing hand and Kaecilius's hand dissolving first as he falls into the Dark Dimension.
  • Sarcastic Confession: When Christine asks Strange what was going on with him at the hospital in his weird dress, he delivers a true while absurdly outlandish sounding summary of events which Christine takes as a joke.
    Christine: Can you tell me the truth?
    Strange: Well, a powerful sorcerer who gave himself over to an ancient entity...can bend the very laws of physics, tried very hard to kill me. But I left him chained up in Greenwich Village...and the quickest way back there is through a dimensional gateway...that I opened up in the mop closet.
    Christine: Okay. Don't tell me. Fine.
  • Save Scumming: Strange manages this in real life using the time magic of the Eye, casting a spell before his confrontation with Dormammu that resets time to that point every time he's killed.
  • Saving the World: What Strange does at the end when "bargaining" with Dormammu, as he convinces him to promise to take his zealots and abandon his attempt, and all future attempts, to assimilate the Earth into the Dark Dimension.
  • Sealed Evil in a Duel:
    • Trapping foes in the Mirror Dimension is mentioned by the Ancient One as a viable tactic to contain and fight threats safely without affecting reality, leaving them trapped if caught without a Sling Ring to escape. Strange tries this on Kaecilius to defend the New York Sanctum, and even gloats about it to his face. Thanks to Kaecilius' increased power in the Mirror Dimension, this quickly backfires.
    • Strange uses the Eye of Agamotto to trap both himself and Dormammu in a never-ending loop of them fighting that resets every time the entity kills him to coerce his foe into surrendering out of fatigue. Dormammu tells Strange that he can't win, and Strange responds that he doesn't have to. He can just keep losing for all eternity and Dormammu will be forced to do nothing but keep killing Strange for all eternity, and thus will be unable to harm Earth.
  • Secret War: In contrast to other conflicts in the MCU, the war between Kamar-Taj and Kaecilius is kept secret from the public. This is possible because most battles are fought in either the invisible Mirror Dimension or the Sorcerers' hidden bases.
  • Sequel Hook:
    • In the final scene, Wong mentions that with news of the Ancient One's death spreading across the Multiverse, certain parties are likely now setting their sights on the Time Stone, leading into Avengers: Infinity War.
    • There is a title card after the second stinger reading: Doctor Strange will return.
  • Set Right What Once Went Wrong: In the climax, Strange and Mordo arrive too late to prevent Kaecilius from destroying the final Sanctum in Hong Kong and allowing Dormammu to unleash his Dark Dimension on Earth, so Strange uses the Eye of Agamotto to reverse time, saving countless civilians and Wong, who had fallen in battle earlier. It partly succeeds, though, as Kaecilius manages to break free and tampers with the Eye, making the time freeze, forcing Strange to Take A Third Option and deal with Dormammu in the Dark Dimension himself.
  • Shadow Discretion Shot: Kaecilius beheading the Kamar-Taj's librarian at the beginning of the film is shown as silhouettes cast on the wall.
  • Ship Tease:
    • The Ancient One holding Strange's hand as her last action before dying can be seen as a one-sided crush on her part. It helps that Strange doesn't come back with his previous girlfriend. Unfortunately there's nothing else to draw from thanks to their circumstances, namely the Ancient One being dead with no means to come back... yet.
    • The relationship between The Ancient One and Mordo is... complicated, to say the least. They seem very comfortable around each other, in a rather intimate way. The Ancient One allows Stephen into Kamar-Taj at Mordo's request and Mordo is always quick to speak highly of her; he also stands between her and Stephen in the NY Sanctum when their discussion becomes heated (on Stephen's part). Their Team Mom / Team Dad dynamic when it comes to Strange and the rest of the students does help at giving this impression, too.
  • Shirtless Scene:
    • Strange appears without a shirt, showing off his muscular build, when he finally trims his scraggly Beard of Sorrow.
    • Mordo also goes without sleeves during his sparring session with Strange, showing large arms usually kept beneath his robes.
  • Shout-Out: Has its own page.
  • Shown Their Work: Because so much of Strange's spellcasting is dependent on gesticulation and finger placement, Cumberbatch mentioned during pre-production that he tried hard to nail every gesture perfectly before starting filming, in order to stay true to the character (and, of course, to prevent fans from dismissing him early on as inaccurate).
  • Sir Not-Appearing-in-This-Trailer: The character of Dormammu was not a part of any advertising leading up to the release of the movie. However, once the movie was released overseas, glimpses of the character were shown in a few television spots.
  • Skeptic No Longer: Strange quickly comes around to the "magic is real" camp after The Ancient One shows him a thing or two (such as punching his astral form right out of his body.)
    Dr. Stephen Strange: Teach me...
  • Something Completely Different: Much like Guardians of the Galaxy before it, this film departs from the political and sci-fi genres seen in most MCU films, instead telling a Fantasy Lovecraft Lite of magic and eldritch terror in modern day. With a beginning fitting into Medical Drama.
  • Spell Book: The Library of Kamar-Taj contains many mystical tomes and volumes, including the restricted Book of Cagliostro, which deals with the manipulation of time, including the spells for drawing energy from the Dark Dimension.
  • Spiritual Antithesis:
    • To Iron Man; both are about brilliant, intelligent, rich, and highly arrogant people who suffer a serious injury that leads them to reevaluate their circumstances and ultimately pursue heroism. However, Tony Stark finds his purpose by channeling his ego creatively and in a way that benefits others, whereas Stephen Strange learns to shed his ego and self-sacrifice. Further, Iron Man is a hero who builds his own identity with science and technology, while Doctor Strange inherits ancient knowledge of mysticism.
    • To Thor; Thor was about a deity traveling to Earth and learning the beautiful mundanity of humanity, while Doctor Strange is about a mortal man who travels to other dimensions and learns about powerful creatures. Thor himself is a mythological character who learns humanity from mortals while Strange is a ordinary mortal man who learns real magic.
  • Standard Bleeding Spots: Strange is bleeding from his eye brow and lip after his melee with Kaecilius and his henchmen.
  • Stealth Pun: Christine made a rule against sleeping with colleagues, and called it "The Strange Policy." Because the man who inspired the rule is named Strange, and because "strange" is another word for sex.
  • The Stinger:
    • Mid-credits stinger: Strange tells Thor that he's keeping watch for individuals or beings who might threaten our world, and that his adopted brother Loki is one of those individuals. When Thor tells Strange he's brought him to New York to look for their father and that they'll leave afterward, Strange offers to help. (It's implied that, like the stinger from Ant-Man, this is a scene lifted straight from a future Marvel movie, specifically Thor: Ragnarok).
    • Post-credits stinger: Mordo confronts Pangborn in his workplace and takes away the magic powers that allowed him to walk again. Pangborn asks Mordo why he's doing this, to which he responds "Because I see now what's wrong with the world. Too many sorcerers."
  • Strategy Schmategy: In his first real magic fight, Strange has very little idea of what he's doing — which is what probably saves him, as Kaecilius is too baffled by his actions to be able to beat him easily.
  • Superhero Movie Villains Die: A rare aversion for an MCU film; as an undying demon lord, Dormammu is still alive and well at the end of the film, and the Zealots who worship him are mostly alive too, though that's only true for a loose definition of life.
  • Superman Stays out of Gotham: The reason the Ancient One and her followers didn't intervene when Loki and the Chitauri invaded New York or when Ultron tried to drop a homemade asteroid on the planet is that they have a different kind of fish to fry.
    Wong: While heroes like The Avengers protect the world from physical dangers, we sorcerers safeguard it against more mystical threats.
  • Supernatural Martial Arts: How a lot of the spellcasting works, particularly in combat, with the sorcerers using magic to generate swords, shields, javelins and whips.
  • Swiss Cheese Security: Any student can walk right up to the Eye of Agamotto at night and swipe it anytime they like, as proven when Strange takes it to try out its power. The assumption must be that no student should know how to even work the thing, while the masters have enough personal discipline to restrain themselves from rash actions.
  • Talking Is a Free Action: Exploited when Kaecilius is trapped in a restraining device that Strange used on him, he goes on a Motive Rant to keep Strange from realizing that he had lost his Sling Ring, and that one of Kaecilius's followers - who Strange thought he already dealt with earlier - has returned and attacks him. It works perfectly, and Strange is critically wounded by an attack he didn't see coming. If the mook was aiming at a more vital part of his body, Strange would have been dead from that one blow.
  • Talking the Monster to Death: Strange's plan to defeat the Dormammu involves strolling right up to him and striking a conversation. Strange traps the demon in a time loop and continues asking him to bargain, until Dormammu becomes frustrated enough to give in and leave Earth alone.
  • The Teaser: The movie opens with Kaecilius and his disciples breaking into the Kamar-Taj's library and stealing a few pages from Di Cagliostro, and then the Ancient One pursuing and fighting them, giving us the first taste of high-level magic before the film introduces Strange.
  • Telescoping Staff: Mordo's Staff of the Living Tribunal is able to extend into a chain of magical energy.
  • Thanatos Gambit: Strange doesn't mind dying for eternity if it's enough to stop Dormammu.
  • These Are Things Man Was Not Meant to Know: Played with. Wong says there is "no forbidden knowledge in Kamar-Taj, only certain practices".
  • These Hands Have Killed: Due to his Hippocratic Oath, Strange is visibly distraught with having had to kill Lucian in their battle.
  • Thinking Up Portals: The Sling Rings, brass-knuckle-like Relics, are essential tools of budding sorcerers, allowing them to form dimensional portals at will to anywhere they wish. It's how they get around the world quickly, and is a very powerful getaway method, hence why disabling or stealing a sorcerer's Sling Ring is a very important factor in magic fights.
  • This Is the Part Where...: Happens when Strange kicks Christine out of his flat.
    Christine: There are other things that can give your life meaning.
    Strange: Like what? Like you?
    Christine: This is the part where you apologize.
    Strange: This is the part where you leave.
  • Thou Shalt Not Kill: Strange kills one of Kaecilius's zealots in self-defense during battle and is deeply disturbed by it. As a doctor, he swore an oath to save lives, and applies that idea to super heroics.
    Dr. Stephen Strange: When I became a doctor, I swore an oath to do no harm. And I have just killed a man! I'm not doing that again. I became a doctor to save lives, not take them!
  • Thwarted Coup de Grâce: When Strange crawls helplessly on the floor of the New York sanctum, a mook walks up behind him to perform a Coup de Grâce, but Strange's cape disables him Just in Time.
  • Time Crash: Mordo and Wong warn Strange that toying with the Eye of Agamotto too much may cause time to branch out, essentially creating a whole bunch of these. Strange almost causes this while first playing around with it, but is quickly stopped by Mordo and Wong before anything bad happens.
    Mordo: Temporal manipulations can create branches in time. Unstable dimensional openings. Spatial paradoxes! Time loops!. You wanna get stuck reliving the same moment over and over forever... or never having existed at all?
  • Time Master: The Eye of Agamotto is able to bestow its user with the power to manipulate the flow of time at near will, if sufficiently advanced enough, like Strange. To be clear, the Eye of Agamotto is the Time Stone, a.k.a. an Infinity Stone.
  • To Be Lawful or Good: While Doctor Strange is willing to bend rules for the safety of the world if he needs to, Karl doesn't agree with doing so at all, especially when it comes to manipulating the Laws of Nature and using the power of the Dark Dimension.
  • Took a Level in Badass: Strange himself. Early in the movie, he's instantly beaten by a trio of thugs armed with nothing but their fists and feet. At the very end, he scares away an Eldritch Abomination.
  • Too Spicy for Yog Sothoth: It seems Dormammu, being the lord of a dimension beyond time, space, and death, doesn't know how to deal with the concept of time.
  • Tragic Keepsake: An underplayed example with Strange's wristwatch. It's the only valuable thing left in his possession, and he's very attached to it, even trying to fight against a gang of thugs for it. He keeps it throughout his training, but doesn't wear it, and him putting it on by the end of the film is a sign that he's finally moved past his injury. Another thing is that it is revealed to be a personal gift from Christine, so it also serves as a reminder of their lost love.
  • Training from Hell: A downplayed example. The training regime shown in the film isn't particularly harsh but when Strange keeps on complaining that his trembling hands keep him from casting spells, the Ancient One decides to leave him in the freezing cold of the Himalayas and forces him to open his own portal to get back before he freezes to death. Mordo's terrified expression tells us that this is not the first time she has done something like this, either. Mordo himself is a friendly teacher but still aggressively attacks Strange while the two are sparring, telling him to fight as if his own life depends on it (because someday it might).
  • Trauma Conga Line: Strange's life after his injury. His hands perpetually tremble, he loses his job, then goes through seven very painful and very experimental surgeries to try and regain control over his hands, all of which fail, spends all of his money and then some — even selling off everything in his house except for a few pieces of furniture, then spends what little he has left on a one-way ticket to Kathmandu, and then, as he's looking for Kamar-Taj, he's assaulted for his watch and knocked down. Only the timely intervention of Mordo saves him.
  • Understatement: "This was a mistake." Said by Strange after Kaecilius has transformed New York City into an Escheresque nightmare, thanks to Strange summoning the Mirror Dimension. Topped off by an exasperated stare from Mordo.
  • Unexpected Character:
    • Mads Mikkelsen's character was expected to be an iconic Doctor Strange villain, such as Nightmare or Dormammu. Instead, he's Kaecilius, a servant of Baron Mordo in the comics.
    • Likewise, it was a shock that Rachel McAdams would play Christine Palmer. Many assumed that she would be playing Clea, given the MCU's tendency to use the most iconic Love Interest from the comics.
    • Even though she only appears unidentified in a brief cameo, nobody expected Tina Minoru, a Runaways character (and mother of Nico Minoru), to show up in this movie. Same goes for Daniel Drumm, who is at least tied to the comic book Strange's supporting character Brother Voodoo.
  • Urban Fantasy: The movie tells a Lovecraft Lite of magic and eldritch terror in modern day. Also played for laughs when Mordo hands Strange a piece of paper with the word "Shamballa" written on it after Strange begins his training to become a Sorcerer.
    Dr. Stephen Strange: Well, what's this, my mantra?
    Karl Mordo: It's the WiFi password. We're not savages.
  • Victorious Loser: Strange could never win against Dormammu directly, and indeed is quickly dispatched within moments. That's fine, because Strange has locked them both into a "Groundhog Day" Loop, and he's also completely fine suffering Cruel and Unusual Death over and over and over for all eternity. Eventually, Dormammu caves in first. Also see Xanatos Gambit below.
  • Victory by Endurance: Strange's plan for defeating Dormammu; using the Eye of Agamotto to establish a time loop in the Dark Dimension (where time otherwise does not exist), and challenging him, Strange is able to force Dormammu to destroy only him, sparing the rest of the world. This lasts until Dormammu has had enough and begs Stephen to list his conditions to end the time loop.
  • Villain Has a Point: Mordo is going full Knight Templar on sorcerers, but he isn't wrong that people bending their rules and playing with the natural laws is rife with consequences.
  • Walk and Talk: An early scene shows Strange and Christine walking down the hospital corridor talking about personal matters which lasts for almost a minute.
  • We Can Rule Together: Kaecilius tries to convince Strange to join his side in the New York Sanctum. It's ultimately subverted, as he was only trying to distract Strange so that one of his followers could get a sneak attack in.
  • Wham Line: One revealing the true nature of the Eye of Agamotto:
    Wong: In time, you will learn its secrets. But until then, it's best to leave it here. It's not wise to walk down the street carrying an Infinity Stone.
  • Wham Shot: During her face-off against Kaecilius, the Ancient One is shown with the brand of the Dark Dimension upon her forehead, which challenges not only her earlier words regarding the downsides to immortality, but also Mordo and Strange's faith in her.
  • What Happened to the Mouse?: After the initial battle with the Ancient One, Kaecilius escapes with five Zealots. But then in the scene where they're in the church receiving Dormammu's power, he only has four. Where'd the fifth guy go? Turns out Kaecilius killed him in a Deleted Scene for questioning him and losing faith.
  • Whip It Good: The primary offensive weapon of a sorcerer, particularly Strange himself, is a magic whip of golden energy, which can also double as a lasso. Mordo's staff in particular has the function of extending into a magic chain-whip of sorts.
  • Who's Laughing Now?: After trapping Kaecilius into the Mirror Dimension while in the New York Sanctum, Strange says "Who's laughing now, asshole?" Kaecilius responds, "I am," and proceeds to use his own magic to stop Strange.
  • Who Wants to Live Forever?: The Ancient One heavily implies that magically extending one's life is not a pleasant experience, and definitely does not want anyone else to experience its downsides. Unfortunately, veiling all this in mystical double-talk and never explaining the price of immortality leads to Kaecilius and his followers viewing her as a hypocritical miser. The fact that immortality needs to be borrowed from the Dark Dimension may have something to do with this.
  • Wolverine Publicity:
  • Wrong Genre Savvy: When the Ancient One explains how she healed Pangborn to Strange in a way that he'd understand, he misinterprets this and assumes she's a scientist who has figured out the secret of cellular regeneration and is hiding in Kathmandu to keep her research secret from the medical authorities. She quickly explains to him that he couldn't be further off the mark.
  • Xanatos Gambit: Strange vs. Dormammu. Either Dormammu remains in the "Groundhog Day" Loop killing/torturing Strange, in which case Earth is safe because he's unable to harm anyone other than Strange, or Dormammu retreats, removing the threat he poses to Earth.
  • You Are Not Ready: Even though Doctor Strange is destined for the role of Sorcerer Supreme, there are no shortcuts to mystic power and divine wisdom. He has to put in the work.
    Dr. Stephen Strange: How do I get from here [points to himself] to there? [points to The Ancient One]
    The Ancient One: How did you become a doctor?
    Dr. Stephen Strange: Study and practice, years of it.
    [The Ancient One gives Strange a look, as if to say "exactly"]
  • You Cannot Grasp the True Form: As confirmed by Word of God, Dormammu as he appears isn't what he truly looks like, as he has no real form in his own realm and took on a vague mimicry of Strange's form as an insult.
  • You Can't Fight Fate: Both averted and played straight. The Ancient One is able to look through time, and has been able to prevent all the terrible futures she foresees, but she can only ever see up to a certain point. She believes this is the point at which she will die. She was right.
  • You Have Got to Be Kidding Me!: Dr. Palmer says this late in the movie, when Strange brings a dying wizard to her hospital after Strange's magic had already disrupted her day.