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Comic Book / Doctor Strange

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Just another day at the office for the Sorcerer Supreme.
"I have been accused of being unrelenting. Merciless. Perhaps I am. For I have looked into that heart of darkness. I know the chill of evil. I have clearly seen that, no matter what, sometimes the night cannot be kept at bay. So I carefully choose my battles. I fight those I can win. And make sure the ones I can't win are worth dying for.
Dr. Stephen Strange, Shadows and Light vol. 1 #2

Doctor Stephen Vincent Strange is Master of the Mystic Arts and the Sorcerer Supreme of the Marvel Universe, which means that he is in charge of protecting it (mostly from powerful supernatural menaces). Strange first appeared in Strange Tales #110 (July, 1963), created by Stan Lee and Steve Ditko. He has been appearing ever since, featured as a star of his own series, in team books, and as a frequent guest star in other people's titles. His story has been adapted into a live-action Made-for-TV Movie, an animated DVD movie and is part of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, with the character being first introduced in his first feature film adaptation.

In the comics, Dr. Stephen Strange was a famous surgeon who lost his operating skills after his hands were injured in a car crash. Obsessed with finding a cure, Strange sought a "miracle worker" in Tibet: the Ancient One, who is actually the current Sorcerer Supreme. After passing a subtle test of worthiness, Strange was accepted as the Ancient One's student — in place of his former one, Baron Mordo, who would become Strange's enemy. Dr. Strange returned to New York with the new mission of using his magical powers to secretly protect people from supernatural evil; Wong, a Tibetan servant, accompanied him upon his return. After the Ancient One's death, Strange gained the title of Sorcerer Supreme. Amongst Strange's most famous adventures were preventing the evil Dormammu from conquering Earth and falling in love with Dormammu's niece Clea (who eventually came to Earth to live with him as his apprentice — and lover).

Despite having his series canceled years ago, Strange is still a recurring character in the Marvel Comics universe. He has starred in many Defenders stories and has guest-starred in many other comics, usually to help out other heroes against magical menaces. He is a long-time ally of The Avengers and has had an on-and-off membership in the New Avengers (currently 'off' — officially. Unofficially, still very much 'on'). In 2011 he was involved in the Fear Itself storyline with several of his old Defenders teammates — this reunion prefigured a revival of the Defenders title in late 2011 to deal with the threat of Nul, Breaker of Worlds, one of the entities empowering the Serpent's "Worthy." He stood with the Avengers in Avengers vs. X-Men. He also has a role behind the scenes as one of the "Illuminati" — a secret group of high-powered figures who try to deal with problems without the rest of the Marvel Universe becoming aware of it.

In 2011 he joined the roster of Ultimate Marvel vs. Capcom 3, to the delight of many, and would return for Marvel vs. Capcom: Infinite in 2017. In 2012 he became part of the roster of heroes in the Facebook Marvel: Avengers Alliance game.

In 2009 he stepped down from the office of Sorcerer Supreme, feeling that he had become compromised after resorting to Dark Magic to save himself and the New Avengers. The office passed to Brother Voodoo, who died three years later, leaving Strange to face the wrath of Jericho's brother Daniel. He regained his title in November, 2012, after defeating Daniel and showing that he could handle dark magic to protect his friends without letting it control him.

He should not be confused with Dr. Strangelove, or Professor Hugo Strange, the Batman villain. (Stephen's popularity, in fact, seems to have been a driver for Hugo being largely sidelined by DC for decades; Batman: Arkham City is the first time Hugo's gotten major attention in a long, long time.)

Doctor Strange was the unofficial inspiration for the lead character in Doctor Mordrid, who was made into a Captain Ersatz to avoid legal issues. The good doctor joined the Marvel Cinematic Universe with Doctor Strange (2016) as part of Phase 3, on October 5th, 2016, portrayed by Benedict Cumberbatch.

    Main Comics 
  • Strange Tales vol 1 #110-111, 114-169 (1951)
  • Doctor Strange vol 1 #1-26 (1968)
  • Marvel Premiere #3-14 (1972)
  • Doctor Strange vol 2 #1-82 (1974)
  • Strange Tales vol 2 #1-19 (1987)
  • Doctor Strange, Sorcerer Supreme #1-90 (1988)
  • Doctor Strange vol 3 #1-4 (1999) - mini-series by Dan Jolley
  • Strange vol 1 #1-6 (2004) - mini-series by J. Michael Straczynski
  • Doctor Strange: The Oath #1-5 (2006) - mini-series by Brian K. Vaughan
  • Strange vol 2 #1-4 (2010) - mini-series by Mark Waid
  • Doctor Strange vol 4 #1-28 (2015)
  • Doctor Strange and the Sorcerers Supreme #1-12 (2016)
  • Doctor Strange / Punisher: Magic Bullets (2016)
  • Doctor Strange vol 5 #1-22 (2018)
  • Doctor Strange: Damnation #1-4 - crossover mini-series by Donny Cates
  • Dr. Strange, Surgeon Supreme #1-6 (2019)
  • The Death of Doctor Strange #1-5 (2021)
  • Strange (2022) #1-10 (2022-2023)
  • Doctor Strange vol 6 (2023)

    One-Shots and Graphic Novels 
  • Marvel Graphic Novel #23 (1986) - Doctor Strange: Shamballa by J.M. DeMatteis and Dan Green
  • Doctor Strange and Doctor Doom: Triumph and Torment (1989) - graphic novel by Roger Stern and Mike Mignola
  • Doctor Strange: What is it That Disturbs You, Stephen? (1997) - a one-shot by Marc Andreyko and P. Craig Russell
  • The Mystic Hands of Doctor Strange (2010) - black-and-white 48-page anthology with stories by Kieron Gillen, Peter Milligan, Ted McKeever, and Mike Carey
  • Doctor Strange: Season One (2012) - graphic novel retelling of Doctor Strange's origin by Greg Pak and Emma Rios
  • Doctor Strange: The Best Defense (2018) - part of the Best Defense crossover
  • Doctor Strange: The End (2020) - one-shot showing a possible ending to Strange's story by Leah Williams and Felipe Andrade

    Team Books 
  • The Defenders vol 1 (1972)
  • The Secret Defenders #1-25 (1993)
  • The Defenders vol 2 #1-12 (2001)
  • The Order vol 1 #1-6 (2002)
  • Defenders vol 3 #1-5 - mini-series
  • New Avengers vol 1 (2005) and vol 2 (2010) - occasional team member
  • Fear Itself: The Deep #1-4 (2011)
  • Defenders vol 4 #1-12 (2012)
  • Defenders vol 6 (2021)

Doctor Strange contains examples of:

  • Above Good and Evil: Morality is explicitly not a factor when a new Sorcerer Supreme is chosen. Nonetheless, Doctor Strange is determined to prevent the station and its associated power from falling into the wrong hands.
  • Acid-Trip Dimension: Many of the dimensions Strange travels through as part of his duties, but especially the Dark Dimension.
  • Added Alliterative Appeal:
    • Stephen Strange, the Sorcerer Supreme, resident of the Sanctum Sanctorum (and Master of the Mystic Arts).
    • Pretty much any item and entity he calls upon will be alliterative. This was taken to its most ridiculous extremes in the "Eighth Day" crossover, in which a number of people were empowered by the Octessence, eight principalities typically invoked by Dr. Strange. All of them were empowered by alliterative items, such as the "Blinding Brazier of Balthakk". Not surprising when you consider who his original writer was.
  • The Ageless: He is immortal ever since he and Death came to an understanding. Though he can still die, Death now may only come "from without," and not from within. Canonically he was born in 1930 and only returned to America after completing his training in the 1970s, spending decades as a mystical consultant until the debut of the Fantastic Four.
  • The Alcoholic: In some depictions he was prone to alcohol abuse as a surgeon, either during or just after the car accident that ruined his hands.
  • Aliens Speaking English: So many dimensional overlords like Dormammu speak english for some reason, some times it’s explained other times it's not.
  • All Your Base Are Belong to Us: His Sanctum Sanctorum has been jeopardized, destroyed, erased from existence, etc. almost too often to count. He always repairs the damage and moves back in.
  • Almighty Idiot: In one arc, Strange destroyed a primordial entity of Chaos by assuming its power, killing it — and then killing himself. This led to him briefly becoming an all-powerful transcendent being with no ego or identity. Ironically, it was one of Strange's old enemies who dragged him back into the "illusion" of self.
  • Alternate Company Equivalent: To DC Comics' Doctor Fate, the most powerful magic user in his universe.
  • Amulet of Concentrated Awesome: Doctor Strange has a few, though historically the Eye of Agamotto is by far his most famous.
  • Anti-Magical Faction: The Empirikul are a zealous Mage Killer faction with a religious devotion to destroying all magic throughout the multiverse. They accomplish this through the use of Anti-Magic technology which leaves the realities they 'purge' grey and sterile.
  • Arbitrary Skepticism: Justified example: in one issue, Strange and his friend Sara Wolfe meet Akira Nitobe, a master of "kiai-jitsu", or manipulating "ki" energy via the voice. Initially Strange is skeptical, which amuses Sara:
    Sara Wolfe: You, of all people, being skeptical of paranormal powers?
    Doctor Strange: Ah, but of all people I know how many pretenders and how few true practitioners of "paranormal arts" there are.
  • Arch-Enemy: Originally Baron Mordo, but Dormammu took the job quickly, with their history being extremely personal and long-lasting; Dormammu also became an Evil Uncle of sorts after Stephen's marriage to Clea. Mephisto has also been a frequent adversary to Strange, who's been a thorn in his side for years and the latter has even battled him in his own realm. Though given who he is, Mephisto is virtually everyone's nemesis and Dormammu remains Strange's most bitter enemy.
  • The Archmage: As the "Sorcerer Supreme", Strange is the Earth's most powerful wizard and the designated Big Good regarding magical dangers.
  • Artifact of Hope: The Book of Vishanti is supposedly the greatest grimoire of White Magic spells one could possibly procure. It was dictated by the Vishanti — a trio of gods that give Doctor Strange his magical power — and written by many other great sorcerers across history.
  • Back from the Dead: In the comics, Strange has been resurrected at least once. This is later referenced when Rick Jones consults the Doc on bringing Marlo Chandler back to life. Concerned for Rick's sanity, Strange tries to talk sense into him. Rick counters with "Who in this room has been dead before?" Wong, Strange, and Rick himself all raise their hands.
  • Ascend to a Higher Plane of Existence: The eventual fate of the Ancient One, who became one with the universe after his death. Broadly hinted to be Strange's destiny as well.
  • Astral Projection: This is an incredibly dangerous spell that leaves the body vulnerable and is fatal after 24 hours. Strange barely even hesitates to use it. In fact, it's one of his signature moves. Inevitably, someone who sees his astral form will mistake him for a decedent, so he has to emphasize that he's An Astral Projection, Not a Ghost. Of course, he never makes that mistake himself.
  • Badass Longcoat: In "War of the Gems" he reconfigured the Cloak of Levitation into a red coat. He wore a trenchcoat or duster in New Avengers. His look in the new Defenders title includes a tight jacket with a cutaway or tail, retaining the 'cool billow' aspect of this trope.
  • Battle Butler: Wong. Not only does he act as Strange's bodyguard, he is Strange's martial arts sifu (master), and keeps Strange's own Kung-Fu Wizard skills sharp.
    Thug: Now give us everything you've got!
    Wong: I offer nothing less.
    [cue beatdown]
  • Big Bad Duumvirate: When Baron Mordo first teams up with Dormammu, this is what he thinks has happened...but as Dormammu constantly reminds him, what actually happens is that Mordo is Demoted to Dragon. Mordo resists the idea at first, but eventually gives in, calling Dormammu master and trying to keep favor with him.
  • The Blacksmith: After journeying to outer space and learning alien magic, including dwarven runework, Doctor Strange has his own forge to make new weapons and artifacts.
  • Bound and Gagged: He cannot use magic if his hands and voice are restrained. (Granted, getting him into this condition will not be easy...)
  • Boxing Lessons for Superman: He took up the study of the martial arts as well as the mystic, realizing he needed to know how to defend himself physically.
  • The Bus Came Back: The 2016 comic brings back notable figures from Marvel history:
    • Chondu the Mystic, who appeared in 1960 as a criminal magician, has now reformed and runs a bar for mages.
    • Monako Prince of Magic, who appeared in 1940 in Timely Comics (preceding Marvel), appears as a veteran magician.
    • Casey Kinmont, who had briefly appeared as a sidekick to Dr Strange in 2010, returns for another brief appearance.
    • Doctor Druid, Strange’s acquaintance, is set for a return in 2020.
  • Canon Discontinuity: Much of the latter parts of Strange's second series seems to have gone by the wayside, including the existence of his extended family, his bloody feud with Wong, Mordo's redemption and subsequent death, and the thousands-year-long War of the Seven Spheres.
  • Can't Stay Normal: He has tried at least once to walk away from magic and become an ordinary doctor. It never sticks.
  • Cast from Lifespan: The 2015 Jason Aaron run has the Sorcerer Supreme teach a lesson that a normal punch inevitably takes a toll on the one who threw it, and so does casting a spell. In the present, the story shows Stephen dealing with a destroyed digestive tract from all the spellcasting, and Wong has to prepare food that looks like rejects from a tentacle hentai story (and doesn't taste any better) because it's all that his system will accept.
  • The Chessmaster: At times he cannot fight the enemy directly, so he recruits heroes and sends them to deal with the threat. In particularly jerkish moments, he neither asks their permission first nor thanks them afterward, but he'll usually apologize and explain if called on it. This is taken to the extreme in a recent Defenders one-shot, where a time-displaced future Strange sends his astral projection back in time with a devastating snowball of consequences, all for the intended purpose of altering an alien's travel trajectory a few degrees.
  • Clarke's Third Law: Doctor Strange and the Sorcerer's Supreme deals with a conflict involving an obscenely powerful artifact known as the Word of God that turns out to be highly advanced, extradimensional alien technology that looks and behaves exactly like a spellbook.
  • Clothes Make the Legend: The red cloak, blue tunic with a demon symbol, black leggings, and yellow sash and gloves carry over into almost all depictions of Strange. Alternate universe characters shown to have assumed the role of Sorcerer Supreme (e.g. Clea, Wiccan) often wear the same ensemble.
  • Create Your Own Villain: In order to pay the price for using his magic without straight-up killing himself, Dr. Strange and Wong created an entity that would absorb all of the pain he would suffer otherwise. That entity ended up becoming Mr. Misery, an Eldritch Abomination that has never known anything but pain and suffering, so when it gets loose...
  • Collector of the Strange: Over his career he has amassed a number of mystical artifacts, including several trophies that imprison old enemies. When he was forced to destroy his collection to prevent Urthona from using it, it loosed so much evil that he had to devote his complete attention to bottling it up again.
  • Comes Great Responsibility: He does have a manservant, a nice house, and no qualms about magicking up money, but this is mostly because his duties are so all-encompassing that he doesn't have time to worry about the mundane.
  • Continuity Snarl: Dr. Strange and the Sorcerers Supreme mini raised several questions about the Ancient One's tenure as Sorcerer Supreme thanks to introducing former Sorcerers Supreme that overlap the time period he was said to have held the role in previous stories.
  • Cosmopolitan Council: The Illuminati (which in Marvel is a secret hero group, to which Strange belongs). It is composed of high-ranking representatives from the various power factions in the Marvel universe (mutants, science, magic) instead of representatives of nations.
  • Cosmic Horror Story: Most of the good doctor's enemies would fit in one, or have them told either in flash backs or in Story Boarding The Apocalypse.
  • Dark Messiah: Kaluu, an old rival of the Ancient One, becomes this during the "black magic" Strange Tales story of the 80's, telling Strange that if he wants to save the world from an invasion of demons he's got to be willing to do anything, such as ignoring individual lives in danger, or even be willing to sacrifice the occasional innocent if that's what it takes to give him enough power. Once the world is saved, however, he helps Stephen's other allies bring him back to the light, and explicitly admits that while Earth might need someone like him, it's probably for the best if Strange stays with white magic from now on.
  • Deadpan Snarker: Many of Strange's writers, like Roy Thomas, have Strange recurrently engage in dry sarcasm, especially when involved with more traditional superheroics. More than once he's implied that, after all the time battling monsters that want to devour the universe or corrupt the souls of humanity, he finds battling bank-robbing supervillains relaxing and finds it a happy side-effect of his time with teams like the Defenders.
  • Deflector Shields: Dr. Strange is protected by a mystical shield that can withstand attacks from beings like Galactus, Dormammu and Shuma Gorath. Depending on the Writer, it either functions automatically or he has to summon it. He can also call up the "Shields of the Seraphim" for added protection.
  • Deliver Us from Evil: Sadly averted with Umar. In fact, having originally been an energy being from a realm with no matter, whose attraction to having a physical body in a material world was portrayed much like a fetish, the experience of actually physically giving birth drove her temporarily insane and still inhibits her from returning to her original form.
  • Demoted to Extra: After the loss of his own title series, Strange was basically demoted for most of the 2000s. J. Michael Straczynski was supposed to write a regular Dr. Strange book, but for whatever reason the book never materialized, so Straczynski compensated by making Strange a supporting character in the Spider-Man book instead, suddenly being Spider-Man's closest superhero ally over Peter's more long-standing friendships, like with Daredevil and the Fantastic Four. It got to the point where Spider-Man fans groaned whenever Spidey came across some sort of mystical phenomena, knowing full well that he was going to make yet another trip to the Sanctum Sanctorum for help.
  • Dented Iron: Turns out that one really can't be a Squishy Wizard in Marvel. Channeling the dark arts will alter your innards and will kill weak people who try it for long enough period of time. Dr. Strange has methods to reduce the effects and he's tough as nails, but he still has to go through a regular routine of getting pus drained out of internal boils, ulcers treated, et cetera.
  • Depending on the Writer: No one has ever been able to decide exactly how damaged Strange's hands are after the accident. Some writers give him impairments of varying severity to his dexterity, some have him regain the injuries if he begins to heal, and some say that Strange's hands are perfectly fine, and that he doesn't return to surgery due to issues more relating to his ego or morality than physicality.
  • De-power: Zigzagged. His most powerful spells draw on the energy of divine beings, so he can't technically lose those unless he also loses the favor of that deity. On the other hand, Astral Projection, Psychic Powers, the ability to manipulate the magical energy of the universe, and the ability to steal another's magic through sheer force of will have been implied to be his own personal powers. He does rely heavily on artifacts like the Eye of Agamotto to help him use those abilities effectively, so his loss of the Eye and the special patronage of the Vishanti would count as a functional de-powering.
  • Discard and Draw: Has happened a few times, leading him to explore white magic, black magic, elemental magic, a bizarre discipline called 'catastrophe magic,' and others.
  • Does Not Like Guns: The nerve damage in Strange's hands prevents him from having steady aim. After struggling to fire a gun in "The Oath", he expresses his distaste for firearms.
  • Doppelgänger Attack: A common tactic of his in his classic days was creating numerous false images of himself and concealing his true self, distracting his opponents long enough to slip away and prepare a new tactic. Additionally, if he sensed he was about to fall prey to a trap, he would leave a copy behind to take the brunt of his foe's attack and allow them to waste their energy before revealing the deception.
  • Dr. Jerk: Strange's backstory. Before he became a sorcerer, he was one of the most skilled surgeons in the world and had the clout to charge his own exorbitant fees, turn away patients who couldn't afford to pay, and walk out on colleagues. The animated movie gives him a literal dead little sister to give him a Freudian Excuse.
  • Dysfunctional Family: Clea is the daughter of Umar and thus the niece of Dormammu. For a while, Clea and Dr. Strange were considered common-law husband and wife, thus making two of Strange's greatest enemies some of his in-laws. And then Baron Mordo became Umar's consort.
  • Enemy Mine: He will work with anyone in the name of good. In one mini, he joined forces with Doctor Doom.
  • Epunymous Title: Dr. Strange debuted in the Strange Tales comic series.
  • Evil Is Not a Toy: During World War Hulk, Strange allowed himself to be possessed by the demonic entity Zom. A later storyline revealed that he had continued to borrow from Zom to bolster his fading magics. Both times the power used him far more than he used it.
  • Expose the Villain, Get His Job: How he became The Ancient One's apprentice. The Ancient One already knew that his current apprentice was plotting to betray him, but he let Strange discover Mordo's treachery to see what he would do.
  • Eyepatch of Power: He had one for a while as part of a retool into a "grittier" character.
  • Face Death with Dignity: Wong in Doctor Strange: The Oath when he discovers he has an inoperable brain tumor. Doc's not having it.
    Wong: Journeys only find meaning at their destinations. I am fully prepared to reach my final—
    Doctor Strange: Oh, shut up with that Zen crap.
  • Fantasy Kitchen Sink: Demon lords, dimensional overlords, witched, fairies, zombies, Eldritch abominations, gods pretty much the whole package.
  • Fate of the Frankensteins: An issue of Dr. Strange: Sorcerer Supreme reviews the entire history of the Frankensteins in the Marvel universe, including clarifying a few facts left unclear by earlier stories.
  • Fight Dracula: They've met several times, and fought throughout an entire arc when Strange wiped out every single vampire in the entire Marvel universe with a Chekhov's Gun from Dracula Lives!. This was due to The Comics Code banning vampires from comics for a few years. When the ban was lifted, the vamps came back.
  • Find the Cure!: He has been called upon to find magical cures for ailments which are beyond modern medicine.
  • Fingore: Strange's hands were badly injured in the car crash, and though they outwardly appeared to heal, nerve damage meant he could never safely operate again. Different writer-artist teams may or may not make his impaired dexterity obvious, and a few particularly sadistic ones have had his hands damaged again. Others have said that his hands have fully healed and there's nothing physically wrong with them, it's his confidence, and more specifically, his ego that was devastated.
  • Flying Firepower: Often. Initially he needed his Cloak of Levitation to fly, but writers have shown him flying without it, particularly in Avengers vs. X-Men.
  • Friend-or-Idol Decision: In the Doctor Strange: The Oath comic book miniseries, Strange has to decide between taking the panacea to his home to mass-produce a universal remedy; or using it to cure Wong, who is at death's door. He ultimately chooses to save his friend's life.
  • Friends Are Chosen, Family Aren't: Clea loves Strange and generally gets on fine with other humans. Her family, on the other hand, are ... several orders of magnitude beyond "annoying".
  • Functional Magic: As Master of the Mystic Arts, he uses or has used everything on the list except Magic Music (possibly because he's never been shown to be musical; more likely because it wouldn't translate well into the medium of comic books).
  • Genre Throwback: It's been observed that many Strange stories resemble less Marvel superheroics, and more of the horror stuff they were doing in the 50s.
  • Godzilla Threshold:
    • In one memorable multi-part storyline from the late 60's, he went through a whole chain of these; to defeat Dormammu's sister, Umar, he had to free the awesomely powerful demon Zom; to defeat Zom, he had to yank out some of its hair, which spread evil magic all over the world and also summoned the Living Tribunal, who threatened to destroy Earth unless Strange could remove all the evil magic he had unleashed; to gather together all the evil magic, he had to give it all to Baron Mordo, giving him a tremendous power-up; to defeat the empowered Mordo, he had to use an Artifact of Doom given to him by the Obviously Evil entity Nebulos, which gave all the evil power to it instead. Finally, he aided the Living Tribunal in defeating Nebulos, and the Tribunal then declared Earth was safe, ending the chain.
    • He invoked Zom again (technically a fragment of Zom's essence) in World War Hulk as a last-minute desperation move. It didn't work, and the fallout led him to give up the position of Sorcerer Supreme for a while.
  • Good Is Not Soft: He'll attempt to Save the Villain on occasion, but if someone has nothing but bad intentions and/or is threatening the world or someone he loves, he will show no mercy.
    • In The Oath, upon learning that due to an extensive cover up, the man who shot him will never be able to be convicted in a court of law, Strange banishes him to another dimension, flat out telling his allies that he has neither the time or the patience to worry about due process.
    • In New Avengers, he invokes a spell which destroys the spirit of Daniel Drumm. (Granted, he more than had it coming.)
  • Good Old Fisticuffs: Dr.Strange vs Korvac, in the latter's first appearance. When his spells failed, Doc just decided use his fists.
  • Guile Hero: By necessity against unspeakably powerful entities. He could never hope to take them by force, so he has to use his wits, be creative, and exploit any weaknesses they might have.
  • Healing Magic Is the Hardest: Potentially, it seems. Other than the rumors of healing that brought Strange to the Ancient One's doorstep, the ability of magic to heal is almost never addressed. Perhaps to show an in-universe reason why not, as of the comic #19 (2019), Stephen has healed his hands — but what it took was a Deal with the Devil with an Eldritch Abomination named Channok, Keeper of Forbidden Spells. Channok had a tome called "The Book of Even Odds" with the spell "Uthurvan's Invocation" a spell no one tried for a millennia. With good reason, it could cure Strange's condition or it could permanently remove his powers and make the Earth dimension vulnerable without a Sorcerer Supreme. It worked, but in an agonizing way. The spell vaporized Stephen's hands and bit by bit rebuilt them until he had brand-new hands. Funnily enough, the movie features a little more magical healing, but it's still shown as severely limited.
  • Hijacked by Ganon: Subverted in The Oath; Strange initially suspects Baron Mordo to be behind the events, and later seems to meet Nightmare and Dormammu in collusion, but none of them are responsible. An original character ends up being the Big Bad.
  • Horror Hunger: In the Aaron run, Dr. Strange's biology is so changed by otherdimensional energies, that normal food can't sustain him and it all tastes like ash now. Instead he needs to eat the cooked body parts from Eldritch Abomination, dead souls and alien animals. They taste horrible but provide him with the energy to cast his spells. This will be the fate of any sorcerer over a long period of time. Note that nobody has paid attention to that since Aaron left the book.
  • The Illuminati: He is a member of a group by that name with Iron Man, Reed Richards, Professor Xavier, and others. Zigzags the trope, since they are all heroes but they have done some morally questionable acts in the name of saving the world. Strange appears to consider his involvement with them a necessary evil.
  • Indy Ploy: When written well, this is his signature ability — the creativity to evaluate the situation in an instant and turn it around with the right spell, use of his artifacts, or words.
  • I Want My Beloved to Be Happy: Clea left Strange when she became aware of Morgana Blessing, a woman who had loved Stephen in every single one of her past lives. It was a bitter irony that Stephen had little to no interest in Morgana at all, except as a friend, and both then and now considers Clea the only one for him.
  • It's Not You, It's My Enemies: He tried to beg out of New Avengers membership because Daniel Drumm had sworn vengeance on him. Luke Cage reminded him that this sort of thing happens routinely to superheroes.note 
  • Keeping the Handicap: In some versions, Strange never healed his hands though he had an opportunity to do so. Presumably this symbolized that he overcame his egotism, and also because he didn't need them healed to do his magic.
  • The Kindnapper: Silver Dagger, of the Well-Intentioned Extremist variety. He 'rescued' Clea from Strange once and was perplexed at her 'ingratitude.'
  • Klingons Love Shakespeare: One demon that was laying in wait for Stephen passed the time by listening to the Synchronicity album by The Police.
  • Kung-Fu Wizard: He's a trained martial artist. Although his skills don't come close to those of fellow superheroes like Iron Fist, he can still hold his own in a physical fight.
  • Laser-Guided Amnesia: On occasion he will make people forget specific bits of information they're better off not knowing.
  • Laser-Guided Karma: To escape assault from the magic-hating Empirikul, Dormammu sold out Shuma-Gorath, whom the Empirikul REALLY hated since it was his cult that murdered his family. When he confronted Dr. Strange after the Empirikul's defeat, Strange teleported him right into the tentacles of the injured, but still deadly and VERY ANGRY Shuma-Gorath.
  • Legacy Character:
    • In the Ultimate Universe, Strange had a son with Clea, who was also "Doctor Strange" (until his death in "Ultimatum") despite never having earned a doctorate.
    • Doc Magus, implied to be Stephen's son, also takes on the title in Marvel Comics 2.
    • The title of "Sorcerer Supreme" is a sort of legacy position, but it is usually passed from master to disciple, not through blood relatives.
  • Levitating Lotus Position: Used by Doctor Strange for purposes of study, meditation, and sometimes Astral Projection.
  • Logical Weakness: He's limited by his physicality: he uses his hands and voice to cast nearly all of his spells, and he can get tired, hungry, or distracted like anyone else.
  • Magic A Is Magic A: Attempted, but never successfully established for any length of time. The limits of what magic is capable of and what Strange himself can do vary greatly from writer to writer and arc to arc, perhaps even more than usual for comics.
  • Magic Versus Science: The entire premise of Jason Aaron's "Last Days of Magic" arc, where Strange and Earth's other magic-users come under siege from the Empirikul, an army led by the Imperator that worships science and seeks to purge out all magic in the universe.
  • Magical Gesture: Spell-casting for Strange involves special hand positions. He often uses the mano cornuta or "horns" gesture made by folding the two inner fingers down. Currently provides the page image.
  • Magical Incantation: Usually, but not always, required for him to work magic. More complicated spells seem to require longer incantations, which often rhyme.
  • Mark of the Supernatural: A streak of white hair at each temple. Originally a sign of age, but increasingly they seem to indicate that he commands arcane power.
  • Martial Pacifist: He prefers not to fight if it can be avoided.
  • Merlin and Nimue: Clea, Strange's best disciple, was also the woman he loved most; at one point they were considered common-law husband and wife. In Earth X, she betrayed and killed him before the story began, putting the final touch on the traditional depiction of this relationship.
  • Mighty Whitey: It takes Strange only a short time (an indeterminate handful of years) to surpass all The Ancient One's other students. Some writers retcon him into the Chosen One and claim the master was aware of his potential long before he actually came to Tibet. Mordo, the master's second-best student, was also Caucasian, hailing from somewhere in Transylvania.
  • Mind Rape: The Eye of Agamotto, used as a weapon, will forcibly show someone the truth, with devastating results. Strange used it to subdue the rampaging Scarlet Witch during her breakdown. He has also used the Images of Ikkon to send Galactus into a Heroic BSoD (by projecting images of the billions (if not trillions) of sentient beings he's killed into his mind).
  • Mistaken for Gay: Happens no fewer than three times in The Oath, where everyone and their mother seems to assume that Strange and Wong are a couple.
  • Multiple-Choice Chosen: When Doctor Strange loses the right to be the Sorcerer Supreme due to his actions during World War Hulk (long story), he knows that there are several possible candidates to be the next Sorceror Supreme (he even shows the Avengers their images). The Eye of Agamotto has vanished and will go to the candidate, and Dr. Strange must find and train him or her.
  • My Greatest Failure: He blames himself for certain events which went down on his watch (particularly House of M and its aftermath), believing that the Sorcerer Supreme has that office to prevent exactly that sort of thing.
  • My Significance Sense Is Tingling: Strange's presence is one of the standard indicators that something big is going down in the Marvel universe. He may not do anything about it, but he'll know.
  • Mythology: Strange comes with his own assembly of arcane deities and supernatural entities from whom he draws power.
  • Neutral No Longer: His backstory. The clear and obvious existence of evil magic is what convinced him that 1) Magic is real, and 2) Good people need to learn magic too, so they can fight back.
  • New Powers as the Plot Demands: One of the reasons he's not used as often as other heroes outside his own series: Doctor Strange can, potentially, do ANYTHING. He's basically only limited by the power of his imagination, so pretty much any plot could easily be solved by him, eliminating any drama.
  • No Celebrities Were Harmed:
    • Steve Ditko's Strange looks a lot like Vincent Price (once he lost the Asian features), something most artists afterwards don't seem to realize.
    • Stuart Immonen's version in New Avengers looked a lot like Tom Selleck — likely influenced by Strange's 1980's depictions, who likewise looked like Selleck.
  • Occult Detective:
    • Strange occasionally takes on this role. More than one plot has centered around him investigating supernatural problems brought to him by clients.
    • As one advertisement once said, "If he has to make a house call, you're already in trouble."
  • Oh, Crap!: Says those words exactly while getting unexpectedly sucked into another dimension. The rulers of the dimension seem to find this amusing.
    "Oh...crap," Stephen? Such a mundane utterance from the Sorcerer Supreme! I'd expected "By Cyttorak's Crimson Bands!" or "Vipers of Valtor!" or — what is your other favorite? — ah, yes "Shades of the Seraphim!" But..."Oh...crap"? Most unimaginative.
  • Oh, My Gods!: He has a lot of occult deities to call upon, particularly the Mother/Father/Child trinity of Oshtur (the Omnipotent, and elder goddess and sister of Gaea), Hoggoth (the Hoary, an elder god that long outlived his worshippers) and Agamotto (the All-Seeing, who was born mortal and ascended, becoming the first Sorcerer Supreme and inventing many forms of sorcery along the way), known collectively as the Vishanti.
  • Older Than They Look: According to the Marvel: The Lost Generation limited series, Strange's origin story predates the Fantastic Four's by decades; in other words, he has not been subject to Comic-Book Time, and his origin actually did happen in the 60's, or likely even earlier. Thanks to his magic, he looks much younger than he is.
  • Oracular Head: Strange's animated head in the miniseries Marvel 1602, taking advantage of a cannot-speak-of-this-while-alive loophole.
  • Out of Time, Out of Mind: Strange spent 5000 years in another dimension and returned after four months of "real" time, having aged only a year.
  • The Paragon Always Rebels: In most depictions, Mordo was the Ancient One's best student before Strange came along.
  • Patron God: Strange derives many of his spells and magical powers from the Vishanti, a trio of extradimensional deities of unfathomable power. It's through their patronage that he's able to obtain relics like the Eye of Agamotto, which grants him telepathy, the ability to see through illusions, and playback recent events for investigative purposes. In addition, he invokes their name in his spells, such as the Hand of Hoggoth or Oshtur's Lance.
  • The Perils of Being the Best: Strange owes his long tenure as Sorcerer Supreme to the fact that the few who are actually skilled enough to challenge him also tend to be wise enough to realize how badly it would suck to actually have his job, which entails fighting potentially world-destroying threats on a daily basis. Strange once faced a challenge from a young man who was convinced that he was ready to become the Sorcerer Supreme and, not wanting to hurt the kid, allowed him to think that he'd won... then gave the lad a simulation of all the shit he deals with on a normal day. The poor sod lasted only a few minutes before freaking out and begging Strange to take the job back.
  • Pimped-Out Cape: One of the most famous examples, though it's the high collar with its two winglike projections which is really his icon.
  • Play-Along Prisoner: A fellow sorcerer supposedly traps Strange in a magical energy prison. Strange stays "trapped" just long enough to listen to the villain's Motive Rant before easily walking through the bars.
    Nicodemus: could break out all along?
    Strange: (smashes Nicodemus' face into a mirror) Excellent observation, you obscenely rank amateur.
  • Post-Modern Magik: In the 2018 series Strange meets the alien Pkzkrfmknna, Kanna for short, who is an arcanologist, a student of magic. Her knowledge is deep enough that she can replicate magical spells with completely scientific substitutes and regularly uses a "wrench wand" for mechanical repairs.
  • Post-Victory Collapse: Extreme magical exertion is hard on him, and the effort required to win a battle can bring on anything from momentary dizziness to coma.
  • Power Floats: He has no difficulty sitting cross-legged on about four feet of empty air, even without his Cloak of Levitation.
  • Precision F-Strike: One memorable moment in The Oath.
    By the Hoary #%*-ing Hosts!
  • Pride Before a Fall: His backstory. He's come a long way since, though Pride still seems to be his besetting sin.
  • Primary-Color Champion: A blue tue tunic, a yellow belt, and a red cape with gold lining and clasp.
  • Progressively Prettier: He started as a somewhat gaunt older man with slanted eyes, progressed into a conventionally-handsome Western man, transformed into something that was almost Bishounen, and eventually settled as an ordinary-looking (but still more attractive than average) man in his mid-forties.
  • Prophecies Rhyme All the Time: Strange's longer spells must rhyme - and in the early years, they all scanned to the first few lines of "Battle Hymn of the Republic".
  • Psychic Powers: Telepathy, telekinesis, others. Dr. Strange once bested Moondragon while she was in possession of the Mind Gem.
  • Psychological Torment Zone: One weapon of his enemies'. D'Spayre once caught him in one so painful that he nearly took his own life. Break Them by Talking is another of D'Spayre's favorite weapons. He's so good at it that, again, he came within seconds of convincing Strange to kill himself. Yes, he's nearly done it twice.
  • Reality Warper: At full power, and with great effort, he can bend the laws of physics to accomplish anything. But he's more often seen keeping an eye on the fabric of reality to make sure no one's messing with it, as part of his duties as Sorcerer Supreme/Master of the Mystic Arts.
  • Role Called: Strange Tales was eventually renamed Doctor Strange.
  • Sacrificial Planet: Subverted in a Story Arc from the 1970s, wherein the villain Nightmare manages to destroy the Earth at the beginning and the story is about trying to bring it back, or at least get Earth recreated anew.
  • Scars are Forever: Depending on the Artist, Stephen's hands may still be heavily scarred, with the implication that he wears his gloves to hide them.
  • Secret Identity: During the brief period, he had a different appearance as "Doctor Strange" and a civilian identity known as "Stephen Sanders."
  • Secret-Keeper: As a member of the Illuminati. For a time they were the secret custodians of the Infinity Gems (he had the Soul Gem). Then he was summoned by Black Panther to be party to his secrets — incursions, the Great Destroyer, and the very real possibility that he'll have to destroy alternate-universe Earths if he wants his own to live.
  • Secret Test of Character: When Strange sought the help of the Ancient One to heal his hands, the latter sensed his selfish motives and refused, though he proposed that Strange become his student and find the cure within himself. Strange called him a fraud and would have left right then if not for a sudden blizzard. While confined to the building, Strange discovered one of the other students, Mordo, plotting to kill the master. When he tried to warn the Ancient One, Mordo cast a spell on Strange that rendered him unable to speak of this. Strange then decided to become the Ancient One's student, thinking that by learning magic, he would be able to stop Mordo. The Ancient One then revealed he knew about Mordo's plans all along and accepted Strange as his apprentice, now knowing he was capable of acting selflessly. Subverted in the same story, as the Ancient One made the offer a second time (and Strange accepted) once he knew all the facts.
  • The Shangri-La: Kamar-Taj, where Strange learned the mystic arts, is a hidden land in the Himalayas.
  • Ship Tease: There have been hints of sexual attraction between Strange and Ms. Marvel (mutual), the Scarlet Witch (his side), and Dead Girl of X-Statix (sort of mutual but mostly her side).
  • Shoot the Dog: There is nothing he wouldn't do to protect the Earth and those he loves. Case in point...
    • He murdered the Ancient One to prevent Shuma-Gorath from entering their world.
    • He destroyed his home and all of his treasured artifacts to prevent Urthona from using them. And then was forced to go on a canine shooting spree under the instruction of Kaluu, culminating in his own suicide after defeating Shuma-Gorath again.
    • In Hickman's New Avengers, Strange erases Captain America's memories to get him out of the group and open the possibility of darker solutions to their current problem.
  • Silver Bullet: A silver bullet fired from the Walther P-38 which Hitler used to commit suicide managed to get through Strange's mystical defenses and nearly killed him.
  • Sliding Time Scale: One of the few characters in the Marvel Universe who is immune. According to Roger Stern and John Byrne's Marvel: The Lost Generation limited series, his origin actually did happen in the Sixties, or perhaps even earlier.
    • As Sorcerer Supreme, he has eternal youth and is locked in his forties, although he's chronologically twice that age.
    • Potentially retconned after the events of Secret Wars 2015. When asked how long he's been practicing magic, he answers "about a decade."
  • Stealth Pun:
    • For a time, Strange took on Rintrah, a green minotaur-like being, as his apprentice. A greenhorn.
    • Strange is a literal Super Doc, being a doctor with superpowers.
  • Steven Ulysses Perhero: His given name is Stephen Strange, and his title is real too.
  • Super Doc: In New Avengers, he has done everything from giving an injection to delivering a baby.
  • Superhero Sobriquets:
    • Sorcerer Supreme, Master of the Mystic Arts. Clea was sometimes called the Mystic Maiden. Luke Cage attempted to saddle him with "the Magic Avenger" when he officially joined the New Avengers. Oh, and to the "savage" Hulk, he will always be "Dumb Magician."
    • For some reason his rogues' gallery tend to villain versions of The Adjectival Superhero: The Dread Dormammu, the Unspeakable (or Unrelenting) Umar...
  • Supernormal Bindings: Uses the "Crimson Bands of Cyttorak" spell to tie up superpowered evildoers, and the Hulk when he's rampaging..
  • Super Weight: Level 5 or level 6 Depending on the Writer. To be expected when you've been called upon for aid by the manifestation of the universe itself. Returned to level 6 after selling his soul for the power of a god.
  • Thematic Rogues Gallery: Most of Strange's enemies are sorcerers or demons. Strange is too absurdly powerful to fight non-Eldritch Abominations or other Super Super threats, most of the time.
  • Third Eye: The Eye of Agamotto. By itself it sends out a beam of light that reveals the true nature of something; when Strange looks through it, it mystically attaches to his forehead.
  • Time Master: Dr. Strange can stop and reverse time at will.
  • Time Travel: An older feat, Dr. Strange traveled back in time to witness the birth of the Earth.
  • Tongue-Tied: When Stephen Strange first met the Ancient One and his disciple Baron Mordo, he learned that Baron Mordo was trying to kill his mentor. Mordo cast a spell on Strange that made it impossible to reveal the truth to the Ancient One. When Strange instead asked the Ancient One to accept him as a student, the Ancient One immediately broke Mordo's spell on Strange, revealing that he had known of Mordo's treachery for some time but kept him as a student so he could keep an eye on him.
  • To the Pain: A lot of his enemies enjoy describing the horrible things they're going to do to him. Some of them are foolish enough to do it before he's even securely in their grasp, giving him enough time to plot a way to escape.
  • Too Clever by Half: D'Spayre's main flaw. He is extraordinarily good at convincing even superheroes that life is pointless and suicide is the best option; but he'll almost always overplay his hand and say or do something that backfires and helps the heroes find the light again.
  • Trauma Conga Line: In recent times, Strange has had a terrible time even for his standards. There was the Imperator who decimated magic, then while everyone was trying to rebuild the magical world Dr Strange’s rogue gallery mobilized to kick him when he’s down, then Loki stole his position as Sorcerer Supreme, then the Accountant took away his magical ability, then he had to deal with Galactus consuming magic (which threw the universe out of balance)...
  • Villainous Incest: Baron Mordo has a daughter by his half-sister.
  • We Help the Helpless: Even heroes have to eat, and so sometimes the good Doctor will investigate cases for hire (Depending on the Writer — sometimes he simply conjures up money whenever he needs it, so we assume he does this pro bono... or perhaps for light entertainment).
  • Who You Gonna Call?: If you're a New York superhero and you're facing the supernatural, you'll be so glad that Stephen Strange hangs his shingle in Greenwich Village.
  • Withholding the Cure: The major plot of Doctor Strange: The Oath involves Timely Pharmaceuticals interfering with Doc's efforts to save Wong's life because the magical elixir he's retrieved can cure all diseases — and put them out of business. Worse; it's implied this isn't the first time they've done something like this.
  • Wizarding School: Dr Strange is to open Strange Academy, a school for magical children to learn to use their powers responsibly, in 2020.
  • Wizards from Outer Space: What the Mark Waid run in 2018 was about. Iron Man convinced Stephen to look at other planets as a source of other magic and resources, Stephen takes this to heart and travels throughout the galaxy instead of his usual travels to other dimensions. Prior to that, Stephen has encountered wizards from alien planets that are within the Earth's dimension, including the Dire Wraiths.
  • Wizards Live Longer: Strange is functionally immortal, and his mentor lived to be over 600.
  • The World Is Not Ready: Played with in Doctor Strange: The Oath. West and Timely Pharmaceuticals claim that the panacea must be destroyed to ensure the natural evolution of medical science, but it's blatantly obvious that they have ulterior motives: The existence of a universal remedy would logically put all drug companies out of business; while West himself rejects magic due to his own incompetence with the mystical arts accidentally leading to one of his patients' death.

Alternative Title(s): Dr Strange, Doctor Strange Strange Tales