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Characters / Marvel Comics: Thanos
aka: Thanos

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Notable Aliases: The Mad Titan

First Appearance: The Invincible Iron Man #55 (February, 1973)

"I am Thanos of Titan. I have conquered worlds. I have bent reality around my will. Men cower at the mere mention of my name. And now... now you have imprisoned me... mocked me... disrespected me. And here you stand, ready to take advantage to my condition. Ready to finish me. Well, if I am to fall, I will die showing you all that Thanos will not be disrespected. Thanos is still a conqueror. Thanos is still a warrior. Thanos is still a god. And you will either bow or be broken."
Thanos, Thanos vol. 2, #6

The Mad Titan. The Outcast. The Galactic Conqueror turned Avatar of Death.

The inevitable.

Thanos is a supervillain created by writer-artist Jim Starlin, 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 rulers of the Titans: A'Lars, 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. These and more would be involved in stopping him from obtaining the Cosmic Cube and from using 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. This, 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 is 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 returned anyway.

After that, he 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 2021, he returned as a key antagonist for his extended family in a soft reboot of Marvel's Eternals comics.

In other media, Thanos has also shown up in the Silver Surfer: The Animated Series 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 (2015) animated series.

In the Marvel Cinematic Universe, Thanos is the main antagonist of the Infinity Saga, comprising Phases One through Three. He made a surprise appearance in The Stinger of The Avengers, where he was revealed as the mastermind behind Loki's plan to conquer Earth (portrayed there by Damion Poitier), and later appeared in Guardians of the Galaxy, Avengers: Age of Ultron, Avengers: Infinity War, and Avengers: Endgame, portrayed by Josh Brolin.

Thanos has appeared in:

Comic Books

Film - Live-Action


  • Thanos: Death Sentence

Video Games

Western Animation

Thanos provides examples of:

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  • 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.
  • Abstract Apotheosis: In Jim Starlin's run on Captain Marvel, where he absorbed the power of the Cosmic Cube and became a giant, transparent floating head in the sky and later in Infinity Gauntlet, where he became one with the universe itself after defeating Eternity.
  • Abusive Parents: Infinity claims he has (well, had) dozens of kids out there, and spends his time hunting them down to murder them all. And then there's Nebula, who claims to be his granddaughter. Thanos takes malicious glee in mutilating her, then killing her, then resurrecting her as a zombie with just enough consciousness to know what's happening to her.
  • 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.
  • Acid-Trip Dimension: Thanos sent Drax into one of those, during their Battle in the Center of the Mind, by using the Time Mind Sync Warp.
    • Jim Starlin loves this trope. Trippy reality warping dreamscapes tend to pop up frequently in his Thanos stories.
  • 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. Jim Starlin further stated that there are actually three Thanos in the Marvel Universe: the 1970s Thanos from the Marvel Universe, before he got the Infinity Gauntlet. Then there are the Thanos stories he is telling. And finally, there is the Thanos that appears in the mainstream Marvel stories. All three seem to coexist easily enough.
    • 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.
    • The Thanos who appears in the alternate future series Cyberspace 3000 is actually a robot serving the ancient being called Gamble.
    • In Thanos Quest he sent a robot duplicate of himself to fight the Grandmaster in a dangerous virtual reality game.
  • Adaptational Nice Guy: In the Cinematic Universe, he is a full-on Well-Intentioned Extremist who kills in the name of avoiding an overpopulation crisis, instead of being in love with Death or wanting to take over the universe.
  • Adaptational Wimp: In the game Guardians of the Galaxy: The Telltale Series. In the comics, especially the ones written by his creator, Jim Starlin, Thanos is strong enough to quickly subdue powerful hero teams like the Avengers and the Annihilators even without the use of mystical Macguffins and he also prefers using his cunning than just brute force. In the game he struggles fighting the Guardians, has a sloppy and unrefined fighting style and he's killed by Rocket's laser cannon.
  • 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, Gamora, 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.
  • A Lighter Shade of Black: Thanos ends up appearing as this when confronted with universe ending threats like Akhenaten, Annihilus, Lord Mar-Vell and God Emperor Doom to the point the heroes are willing to team up with him in order to save the universe.
  • 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: invoked To Darkseid. According to Jim Starlin, Thanos was inspired by the New Gods — but he originally 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!". However, 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.
    • The 2016 series introduces the God Quarry; a place at the edge of the universe that offers god-like power but petrifies those who fail to achieve it, with all the failures on display. It's largely comparable to the Source Wall.
    • The Ultimate Universe on the other hand runs headlong into the Darkseid parallels; giving him despotic control over civilizations with his children and brainwashed enemies as his main enforcers as he seeks an artifact of ultimate cosmic power to subjugate the universe. He even gets expies of New Genesis and the Forever People to oppose him.
  • A Mind Is a Terrible Thing to Read: Monica Rambeau once ended up inside his mind, not to learn anythnig but to microwave it, but since Thanos is stronger than her, smarter and manipulate the molecules that make up his own body, her attack was nullified, to put it lightly. 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 strength 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 Plot Device like the Infinity Gems.
  • Antagonistic Offspring:
    • The Rot, the main antagonist of Avengers: Celestial Quest, the child of Thanos and Lady Death, and Eldritch Abomination extraordinaire, though Thanos wasn't aware of its existence at first and he sent one of his Thanosi clones to help Death and the Avengers to deal with it instead of meeting it in person.
    • Infinity introduced Thane, Thanos' half-Inhuman son. After harnessing the power of the Phoenix Force, Thane managed to depose his father and take over as the new ruler of the Black Quadrant for a time.
    • Thanos himself is one to his father Alars/Mentor of Titan. He goes around the cosmos committing atrocities partly to hurt his father, at least before he finally killed him.
  • Anti-Villain: Post Infinity Gauntlet, some would argue that for a while he became somewhat of a Noble Demon or even an Anti-Hero. note  This varies wildly depending on who is writing him, as many writers still depict him as a traditional Evil Overlord.
  • Archnemesis Dad: To his adoptive daughter Gamora and his biological son Thane.
  • Art Evolution: As seen on this page Thanos was much slimmer in his earliest appearances.
  • Ascended to a Higher Plane of Existence: In Infinity Gauntlet, after defeating Eternity, who is the living embodiment of the universe, Thanos leaves his physical body to become an astral entity and one with the universe itself. This, however, gave Zombified Nebula the opportunity to take the Gauntlet with the Infinity Gems for herself.
  • Assimilation Plot: A multi-arc plotline written by Jim Starlin had Thanos being controlled by his future self to use a Cosmic Keystone to absorb every cosmic entity, including Death and the Infinity Stones, and become all that is. The threat is serious enough that the Living Tribunal gets involved, unlike with the Infinity Gauntlet.
  • 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.
  • Author Appeal: Starlin really likes to put weird and trippy creatures and dimentions in his Thanos stories along with various reterences to New Age philosophy.
  • Ax-Crazy: Depending on the Writer.
  • Badass Armfold: A frequent pose of his.
  • 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 Finger Snap: Thanos, at the very peak of his godlike powers, makes half the Universe's population vanish in Infinity Gauntlet by snapping his fingers. In some of the supplement comics, snapping his fingers is the most common way that he uses the Infinity Gauntlet also.
  • 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.
  • Bad Future: In his 2016 miniseries, there is one possible future where he succeeded in wiping out all live in the universe and crowning himself as King Thanos, the ruler of nothing. The few living survivors are Silver Surfer (now dubbed the Fallen One), an elder Incredible Hulk that has been enslaved and abused by Thanos, and Frank Castle who has been turned into a Ghost Rider and later a Herald of Galactus. When present-day Thanos is brought into this world and forced to kill his elder counterpart, he becomes disgusted with the way he begs to be killed so he can be united with his beloved Death that Thanos goes back in time and vows to never allow this future coming to pass, erasing King Thanos out of existence.
  • 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 Center 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.
  • 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.
  • Brainy Baby: Cosmic Ghost Rider shows he was fully cognizant as an infant. Enough to talk and act on his own.
  • Breaking the Fourth Wall: A single panel in "The Infinity Ending" where Thanos is describing his omniscience and omnipresence shows someone reading "The Infinity Ending" comic.
  • 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.
  • Break the Haughty: Pretty much Thanos' history from the 70's to The Infinity Gauntlet has been a long Break the Haughty phase for him. First he becomes an astral being after getting the power of the Cosmic Cube only for Captain Marvel (Mar-Vell) to smash the unguarded Cube, thus depowering him and giving him the first humiliating defeat of his life. Then he gets turned into a crying statue by Adam Warlock, but he's much later brought back to life by Mistress Death, thus giving him the hope of winning her love by wiping out half of the population of the universe with the Infinity Gems. But getting the gems after defeating the Elders of the Universe proved to be a hollow victory, as Mistress Death still refuses to speak to him since he became superior to her with his new powers. In Infinity Gauntlet, Thanos still tries to convince Death to love him, but in the middle of the cataclysmic fight with the cosmic entities, she turns against him despite all the things he did for her and Nebula steals the gauntlet from him, regressing Thanos back to square one and forcing him to team up with the heroes to stop Nebula, but not before being verbally owned by Adam, who tells Thanos that deep down he wants to be defeated because he doesn't deserve the immense power of the cosmic macguffins. And thus Thanos decides to give up his life of death and destruction in the pursuit of love and power, and he became a lonely farmer.
  • Bring It: The cover of issue #4 of Infinity Gauntlet is simply Thanos standing in the middle of space saying:
    Come and get me!
  • The Bully: He has been tormenting a human man every year on his birthday since he was born just for kicks. This ranges from scaring him when he was young to killing people he knows or destroying the neighborhood he lives in.
  • 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 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 ambiguous 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.
  • The Comically Serious: Mostly when he interacts with Pip the Troll.
  • Complete Immortality: He gained this after becoming an avatar of Death. Even Drax vaporising him didn't stick for more than a minute. It's worn off after his return in 2012.
  • Cold Ham: Thanos when he's written by Starlin talks with grandiloquent and poetic words while also using the reserved tone and manners of a professor talking to his students.
  • Continuing is Painful: He has, to his detriment, been cursed with Resurrective Immortality which not only barred him from Death but caused him to agonisingly regenerate whenever he is killed or injured.
  • Cool Starship: His personal H-shaped starship Sanctuary.
  • Cowardice Callout: He has given Spider-Man a couple such Callouts under suspiciously similar circumstances twice:
    • Thanos invites Spider-Man to challenge him, but Spidey, overcome with sheer terror at facing someone who can fight the Avengers solo, flees instead. Outraged at this show of cowardice (especially because Mar-Vell, who found himself taken by surprise and was totally alone, fought to the bitter end), Thanos calls Spider-Man a disgrace and orders his followers to hunt him down, no longer interested in dirtying his hands against such a foe. Spidey fully intends to just hide out until reinforcements show up until he realises: a) nobody's coming and b) since he's the only one left he has a responsibility.
    • Marvel Two-In-One Annual Vol 1 Issue 2: When Thanos invites Spider-Man to try his luck fighting him (after Thanos has just dispatched the Thing), the wall-crawler flees in a blind panic. Outraged at the show of cowardice (among other things, Spidey was leaving his friend behind to save himself), Thanos orders his forces to pursue the hero, again not wanting to dirty his own hands with so unworthy a foe. Spider-Man admits that Thanos is right (because he's terrified out of his wits), but manages to rally by reminding himself that he's the only one left to fight, returning and freeing the others.
  • Cuckold Horns: His pointy cowl gives off this imagery as Death often tires of his desperate lovelorn nature and seeks intimacy with other beings, having once deeply kissed Captain Mar-Vell upon his demise while they were right in front of Thanos.
  • Crazy-Prepared: Comes with being a cosmic-scale Super-Genius.
  • Curb-Stomp Battle: With or without gaining some vast power, Thanos dishes out a number of these.
    • A confrontation with the Silver Surfer led Thanos delivering a No-Holds-Barred Beatdown.
    • When the assembled heroes (and Doctor Doom) came to face him in The Infinity Gauntlet, Thanos froze them in time before they could lift a finger against him. Even when cut himself off from the omniscience granted by the Infinity Gauntlet, they still only managed a couple hits on him before he killed them all.
    • Dished one against the Avengers in Infinity with the aid of the Black Order. Hulk attempting to attack Thanos gets him punched through several buildings. Thor hits Thanos a lightning strike, after which Thanos dares him to hit him again. Thor keeps hitting him, but Thanos shrugs it all off before smacking him to the ground. He would have killed them if Thane didn't intervene.
    • Beat Beta Ray Bill and Ronan the Accuser in quick succession. The latter attempted to strike him when his back was turned, but his hammer had no effect, after which Thanos broke it and pummeled Ronan.
  • 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.
  • Deadpan Snarker: Thanos expresses incredulity that Adam Warlock allowed Pip the Troll a spot on the Infinity Watch and the Space Gem. Later, when they are relieved of their gems, Pip reveals that he hides it between his toes. Thanos comments that few would dare to look there.
  • Deal with the Devil: Thanos makes one with Mephisto in order to stop the goddess in Infinity Crusade. Thanos eventually scams Mephisto at the end of the story. "You wanted a cosmic cube but didn't specify it had to be functioning..." This leads to a Badass Boast from Thanos: "Even devils must be careful when making a deal with Thanos of Titan."
  • 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 similar to the Hulk, while other artists like Ron Lim draw him with a size and proportions similar to those of a human.
  • Depending on the Writer: How he's written from comic to comic is almost never consistent. Jim Starlin portrays him as a great intellect who is greatly aware of the real workings of the universe; 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 and deluded mass-murdering pirate 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 all-purpose cosmic villain, and some like to write him doing incredibly petty things For the Evulz.
  • De-power: Thane uses the power of the Phoenix to do this to Thanos in Thanos #6.
  • Determinator: Thanos doesn't quit. Best shown in his fight with Odin. The two didn't get to finish but Thanos was the one who looked worse off by the end of the fight, but despite his injuries he still stayed on his feet.
  • 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.
    • Thanos was also instrumental in the defeat of Lord Mar-Vell and the Many-Angled Ones in The Thanos Imperative.
  • 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."
  • Distaff Counterpart: Believe it or not, Thanos uses the Infinity Gauntlet to create a female version of himself in the form of Terraxia in an attempt to goad Death into jealousy (Death is unimpressed as usual). She apparently has all of his (non-Infinity Gauntlet) powers as well, in that she is easily able to slay Iron Man and Spider-Man. Of course, Thanos forgot the Required Secondary Power of breathing in space and she's killed when Nebula sends the two into exile in deep space just a few issues after he created her.
  • Does This Remind You of Anything?: The climax of the Loose Canon Marvel: The End involves a Deconstruction of Death Is Cheap. The multiverse (read: the writers) resurrects heroes because it needs them to safeguard against its end, problem is this phenomenon weakens the integrity of the multiverse hastening its eventual death. When Thanos achieves ultimate power over the entire multiverse he expends it all, along with his own existence, to correct these errors, making all deaths from then on permanent.
  • 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 Dark Side: His usual cold and collected manners starts to go away once he gets powered up by an Artifact of Doom.
  • Drunk with Power: A downside to the Infinity Gauntlet is that omniscience can overwhelm the user, making them, to the very least, prone to errors in judgement. This made him easier to manipulate, and fight the Avengers while voluntarily underpowered, allowing Adam Warlock to simply wait for him to raise his hand to buzz by with the Silver Surfer and simply grab the gauntlet off of him. Mephisto was doing essentially the same thing, but biding his time for an opportunity. Neither worked, but after the fight, Thanos recreated his mind as a cosmic entity, but leaving his body where he sat with the gauntlet still on. This allowed Nebula to simply take it off of him and become the new bearer. Omniscience was even harder on her, making her even more prone to lapses in judgment, but more than compensated by being all-powerful. When she first had it, Warlock was fearful that the power would be so overwhelming that she might be Driven to Suicide, possibly ending the universe with herself, but it turns out his fears were unfounded.
  • 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.
    • Though Cosmic Ghost Rider shows his first reaction to a stranger in his room as a baby is to jump out of his crib with a knife aimed at their head.
  • Even Evil Has Standards: He may be the harbinger of Death and her lover, but he is not okay with Omnicidal Maniacs who want to destroy everything so they can be the only ones living.
  • Even More Omnipotent:
    • The six Infinity Gems assembled into the Infinity Gauntlet grants the wielder omnipotence when worn. More omnipotence than even, say, Eternity the Anthropomorphic Personification of the universe itself or all of the other Cosmic Beings of the setting combined. This becomes a plot point, because Thanos, the wielder of the gauntlet, is tricked into thinking that the only way to effectively dominate the universe is turn himself into the universe. But the second he does, Nebula takes the gauntlet from his now-abandoned body and becomes the new big bad.
    • Downplayed with The Heart Of The Universe. It was meant for Akhenaten, who used it to drive off all Earth gods who dared oppose him but Thanos wrest it away from him and became more powerful with The Heart than Akhenaten ever was. Thanos was so powerful not even The Living Tribunal could stop him...however The Heart Of Universe still only affected THAT universe, Marvel Comics is a multi universal setting, and Tribunal is a multiversal entity, so it really just amounted to Tribunal being forced to give up what was ultimately a small part of his domain.
  • Evil Cannot Comprehend Good
    • One of his biggest faults that keeps him from truly wooing Death: he can't comprehend that without life there cannot be death, and therefore she cares little for mass murder, so his attempts to woo her will never succeed. Ironically the one time he did understand it was one of the few times she actually gave him the time of day.
    • Retcon: Later writers overlook or ignore the fact that Thanos wasn't trying to impress Death by killing half the universe. Death herself ordered him to do it. The reason she gives him the cold shoulder afterwards is because of how he did it, not because she didn't want him to do it.
  • 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.
    • Every year he makes it a point to torment this random guy on his birthday. Y'know, for funsies.
    • Seeing that Death was attracted to Deadpool, Thanos cursed Deadpool with eternal life to ensure he could never be with Death.
    • Thanos deliberately helped an old lady cross the street in order to prevent a woman called Stephanie Kircher, who has the potential to cure all diseases, end world hunger and create universal peace, from doing anything of note in her life. When Stephanie eventually ends up on her deathbed, Thanos comes into her hospital room and gives her visions of everything she was meant to do in life, rendering her last moments a depressing realization that Thanos essentially stole her life from her.
  • 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 prefers science the power cosmic, but knows the mystic arts well and 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.
  • Expy:
    • Thanos was based on DC Comics' Darkseid — his creator has admitted it, though the two characters don't have much in the way of similar goals: Darkseid wants to rule the universe, while Thanos is generally only interested in killing everyone in it in order to impress Death.
    • Jim Starlin's original intention was to base him on Metron, another one of Jack Kirby's New Gods, until editor Roy Thomas convinced him to rip-off Darkseid instead. There are a few elements of Metron, however, as the design of his original helmet and his hovering throne, similar to Metron's Mobius Chair.
  • 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.
  • Fate Worse than Death: What he considers life. At the end of Infinity he is immobilized in a state of Living Death, until Namor freed him.
  • 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.
  • Formerly Fat: At some point in his teen years in The Infinity Ending, Thanos is depicted as notably chubby.
  • 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.
  • Future Me Scares Me: He's never been fond of any of the "future" versions of himself that he's encountered, as they've either strayed from his overarching goals or accomplished them in a way that has rendered them slovenly and wretched.

  • 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.
  • Gender-Blender Name: His mother would have named him Dione had she not gone insane.
  • Genius Bruiser: Right up there among both the brightest minds and strongest bodies in the Marvel Universe.
  • 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.
  • Greater-Scope Villain: In the Marvel Cinematic Universe (up until Avengers: Infinity War, in which he takes the role of the Big Bad), and of the Red Skull in Avengers Assemble.
  • Grievous Harm with a Body: He turned Spectrum (Monica Rambeau) into eye beams to beat Blue Marvel(Adam Brashear) with.
  • 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 that 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: 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.
  • Hoist by His Own Petard: Thanos gets so much power with the Gauntlet that he takes Eternity's place as the incarnation of the universe, but that also means his physical body becomes an empty husk that can be easily separated from the Gauntlet.
  • 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. Contrary to popular belief Starlin is willing to let Thanos get smacked around a little or even look foolish, moreso than a lot of other Marvel writers, but the various other Marvel writers will let Thanos lose to things that are not his own doing nor Adam Warlock's, which are the only things that can ultimately defeat Thanos under Starlin.
  • 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.
  • It Amused Me: Why did he side with Annihilus during Annihilation? He was bored and wanted to see what would happen.
  • 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 hundred 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 of course. He's butchered countless innocent people across the universe for his own sick enjoyment. And he makes sure to kick the smaller dogs as well, like this story where he makes a point to ruin a single human's life every birthday.
    • Needlessly bullying Spider-Man, who was trying to save a little girl, is what causes one of their breakups after one of the rare times Thanos got Death on a date.
  • 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.
  • Know When to Fold 'Em: Due to his devious and calculating mind, Thanos knows when a risk or setback is too great and it's a better time to retreat. There are also certain opponents he would rather avoid, if at all possible (such as The Hulk); although he has the power to put of a fight or even defeat them, sometimes it's just not worth the time or risk. However, Pride or anger can sometimes get the better of him.
  • 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.
  • Last-Second Chance: Carol Danvers/Captain Marvel visits an alternate reality where Thanos the Just seeks out the reality gem to wipe out all criminals forever. He broadcasts one last warning though, in hopes that his renegade Space Pirate daughter Gamora will turn herself in and repent.
  • Laughably Evil: He has his moments:
    • 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.
    • Some of his evil actions are so insanely petty that they're utterly hilarious, such as the time he went out of his way to torment a random man on each of the man's birthdays.
  • 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.
  • Love Makes You Crazy / Love Makes You Evil: The lengths Thanos is willing to go to win Death's favor are truly mind-boggling. And every time she turns her back on him, it only gets worse.

  • 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.
    • After stealing The Heart Of The Universe from Akhenaten Thanos beats all opposition, including the living tribunal and earns the love of Mistress Death. But Thanos discoverse Death loves him in the manner a faithful worshipper loves a god, rather than the romantic way a wife loves her spouse. This causes Thanos to become disgusted with himself, and the Heart, toss it out, and undo enough of what he did so that he still has a chance of making Death willingly fall in love with him in the way he loves her.
  • 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'.
  • Nemesis Magnet: Thanos is the Arch-Enemy to Drax the Destroyer, Moondragon, Captain Marvel, 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 Deadpool 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.
    • Also to Frank Castle of a dead alternate future.
    • His MCU counterpart more-or-less became Iron Man's arch-nemesis — ironic, given that his 616 self first appeared opposing Iron Man (though the comics haven't really made the two enemies since then).
  • 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 plot devices he gets, as explained by other tropes on the page.
  • No-Sell: Against most opponents, Ghost Rider's Penance Stare is enough to cause them to go mad, die in agony, or both. Against Thanos? Just some light contemplation before breakfast.
  • "Not So Different" Remark: When Thanos and Annihilus met, they both realised they had common ground (their relationship with Death).
  • Obviously Evil: Large, towering, almost entirely dark eyes, worships Death, called Thanos? Yeah. Actually gets pointed out by Maximus the Mad during a team-up.
  • 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 strength and strategic tendencies that he has, it's 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.
  • Other Me Annoys Me: Doesn't get along with himself very often. In keeping with the above flaw that prevents him from holding onto power, any potential future self that is exponentially more powerful than he presently is often erase themselves by involving him in their plans by informing him of his future. He very often cannot stand how his future turns out and invariably schemes to make sure it doesn't happen.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Redemption Rejection: Once his subconcious self loathing bubbled up to the surface, causing Thanos to realize what he didn't like about himself and try to change, settle down, attempt to start a family...but then he managed to suppress those feelings because he dediced killing things was more fun and returned to form.
  • 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.
  • Resurrected for a Job:
    • In Silver Surfer #34, after 8 years of absence in comics, Mistress Death resurrects 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.
  • Rogues' Gallery Transplant: Originally he was just a one-off Iron Man baddie. Jim Starlin brought him back for his run on Captain Marvel, and this snowballed into Thanos becoming one of the premier threats to the Marvel Universe, cosmic or otherwise. Ironically, his MCU counterpart would eventually become Iron Man's arch-nemesis more or less, bringing it full-circle.

  • Sadist: He takes pleasure in tormenting his foes.
  • Science Wizard: Thanos is a genius in virtually all known fields of science having augmented his own physiology and created devices such as a chair capable of time travel and interstellar flight. He has also displayed some knowledge of the mystic arts; he once cursed Deadpool to never die so Deadpool could never be with Death whom Thanos was in love with.
  • 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. But they're Eternals with Resurrective Immortality, so they just keep coming back. When Thanos (finally) discovers this, he is not at all happy.
  • Self Made Super Powers: Thanos uses his considerable intellect to argument his powers through bionic modifications.
  • Sensitive Guy and Manly Man: He thinks he's the Manly Man to Adam Warlock's Sensitive Guy, even revealing to him during the Infinity Trilogy that he always believed Warlock to be "a dandy," but while his rival does spend a lot of time brooding, Thanos is the more overtly emotive and mercurial of the two.
  • 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.
  • Stealth Mentor: Peter David's Captain Marvel run reveals that Thanos previously attacked Ka-Zar and Thor to actually test them to see if they are good enough to help him in his battle against the death god Walker and he teamed up with Mangog because he wanted to study a being powered by a large number of souls like Walker.
  • 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.
    • The Astral Regulator is a step beyond even the Heart of Universe, allowing Thanos to absorb The One-Above-All himself and become everything and everyone in existence.
  • Straw Nihilist
    • He is a nihilist in most incarnations, believing that Life is only suffering and dissapointment while Death is the most honest and peaceful thing there is.
    • Thanos is also contradictory regarding being a Straw Nihilist because he claims to be a hardcore nihilist and yet he loves Death. He also claims to love Death and calls himself her most humble servant but he has done so many things to defy her for his own personal reason. He's arrogant and postures himself as the greatest but he also has a lot of self-loathing. He's also neither completely a hero or a villain, He’s been the good guy as often as he’s been the bad guy so depending the story he can serve as both.
  • 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.
    • Thanos becomes a full-on Level 7 after absorbing both the Living Tribunal and the One-Above-All in Starlin's last comic, The Infinity Ending.
  • 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. He's also dueld Professor Xavier, leader of The X-Men, to a standstill. He's not as powerful as Odin, in this regard, but more practiced and versitile.
  • 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.
  • 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.
    • His first few clashes with the Eternals of earth also went badly. He was on course to kill Ikaris in their first battle, but was deceived and misdirected by Sprite’s illusions. In his next confrontation he was psychically paralysed by Druig, impaled by Thena and Kingo, and forced to flee. And in his third battle, with Sersi, the Forgotten One, Kingo, Thena and Ikaris against him, he was very nearly killed. As the Great Machine’s commentary pointed out, Thanos is a near unstoppable monster... but some of the Eternals have been killing monsters for a million years.
  • 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.
  • The Unfettered: Whenever schemes, scruples are never a concern of his.
  • 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.
  • Unskilled, but Strong: Downplayed In that Thanos is in fact very knowledgeable and practiced in several martial arts, but he tends to default to very open and wide punches because he's used to being so much stronger and faster than most other humanoids, and it makes him look oh so mighty. This results in Gamora kicking his butt in Infinity Watch, though she ultimately can't put him down.
  • 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. It culminates in him deciding to destroy everything when even his Thanatos Gambit to kill the Cancerverse does not cause Death to speak to him.
  • Villain Decay
    • Thanos was a recurring foe for Captain Mar-Vell and the 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.
  • Villainous Rescue: 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.
  • Walking the Earth: 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 The 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 off 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?

Alternative Title(s): Thanos, Thanos 2003, Thanos 2016, Thanos 2019