Follow TV Tropes


Series / Loki (2021)

Go To

Spoilers for all Marvel Cinematic Universe works preceding it will be left unmarked.
Loki’s time has come.note 

"You ridiculous bureaucrats will not dictate how my story ends!"


Loki is a superhero Science Fantasy thriller / Fantastic Noir series spinoff of the Thor film franchise, based on the Marvel Comics character of the same name. The series is the 26th overall entry of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, the 3rd installment of the MCU's Phase 4, and the 3rd live-action series to be developed by Marvel Studios for Disney+. Michael Waldron serves as showrunner, while Kate Herron (Sex Education) directed the entire first season with Tom Hiddleston himself serving as an executive producer.

Set after the events of Avengers: Endgame, the series follows the Alternate Universe Loki (Tom Hiddleston) note , who escaped with the Tesseract/Space Stone after the Battle of New York. He gets arrested, then forcibly recruited, by the Time Variance Authority, an organization that exists outside of the flow of time and is dedicated to preserving the Sacred Timeline, to help them stop another version of himself that's been antagonizing and massacring their agents, who could potentially threaten reality itself if left unchecked. If that sounds a little confusing, don't worry: Loki's just as confused. But he's determined to turn this to his advantage.


At least until he manages to track down his evil variant. Then things get even more complicated.

Other cast members include Owen Wilson as Mobius M. Mobius, Gugu Mbatha Raw as Judge Renslayer, Sophia Di Martino as Sylvie Laufeydottir/The Variant, Wunmi Mosaku as Hunter B-15, Tara Strong as the voice of Miss Minutes, and Sasha Lane as Hunter C-20. Richard E. Grant and Jonathan Majors guest star.

The first season made its debut on Disney+ on June 9, 2021, airing for six episodes through July 14. Additionally, the first season is being treated as the second part of a spiritual tetralogy with WandaVision, Spider-Man: No Way Home, and Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness, with the events of the season finale helping to set up the events of the latter two. It also links directly to What If…? and sets up plotlines expected to get paid off in Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania.


A second season has been confirmed to be in development, making it the first live-action Marvel Studios series for Disney+ to have a multi-season run.note  Kate Herron will not return as director for the second season, having only been committed to the first season, and Justin Benson and Aaron Moorhead will take her place for the majority of the episodes.

Previews: Teaser. Trailer 1

Loki contains examples of:

    open/close all folders 
    Tropes A-F 
  • The '70s:
    • For whatever reason, the dominant aesthetic of the TVA is based on styles from the 1970s, from its decor to its tech.
    • This show also reveals that Loki was the one behind the D.B. Cooper incident in 1971, having taken the alias and pulled off the heist after losing an unspecified bet with Thor.
  • Aborted Arc: At the end of the second episode, Sylvie manages to bomb the Sacred Timeline with hundreds of Reset Bombs, causing a panic in the TVA as the timeline branches frantically. By the time we catch up with the TVA again in the fourth episode, everything is back to normal. Justified, though: the point of the bombs was to create a panic and get all the TVA agents and hunters out pruning branches, leaving the Time-Keepers vulnerable. It works perfectly, but Loki gets in the way and stops the assassination attempt. The TVA is functionally infinite, after all: they can handle a little crisis. The crisis at the end of the season, on the other hand…
  • Absurdism: In the beginning, Loki is apprehended by a massive bureaucratic organization, the TVA. The Kafkaesque processing he then goes through is initially Played for Laughs, with him having to take a ticket for a waiting queue in an empty room, to interact with a robot that nullifies his clothes and a scanner that captures an image of his "soul" and to sign a printout of everything he's ever said. Loki keeps calling out the absurdity of what's going on. He is then sentenced by a Kangaroo Court for something that can barely be considered a crime, and forced to watch his past and future via a Chronoscope. From here on, the series delves into Existential Horror and stays there until the end, with occasional detours like Pompeii where the meaninglessness of existence is again celebrated rather than Played for Drama.
  • Achievements in Ignorance: Sylvie's ability to "enchant" people is something that she learned to do entirely on her lonesome, and is something that Loki doesn't know how to do yet despite being taught magic by his mother since he was a child.
  • Adaptation Distillation: The plot elements of Loki exploring the redemption of his character, his past and future, a sympathetic antagonist that is another version of him, all at the behest of a trinity of authority figures that want to enforce his destiny as a villain intended to fail for the happy ending are all congruent to Loki: Agent of Asgard.
  • All Crimes Are Equal: The TVA enforces the continuity of the timeline with no regard to intent or scale. Loki making off with the Tesseract is treated with the same seriousness as whatever some trust fund kid did. Miss Minutes' presentation even states it doesn't matter what the variation is, whether it be causing a war or just being late to work.
  • The Alleged Expert: The TVA is supposed to be the ultimate authority on time travel and the Sacred Timeline but its agents are on strict need-to-know so even senior agents like Mobius do not really understand how Nexus events truly work. They rely on their supposedly advanced technology to give them information without fully understanding what the information actually means. Loki quickly figures basic Loophole Abuse that Mobius thought was impossible. There's also the fact that most of the TVA's agents and employees are variants themselves, without any of them aware of this due to their memories being suppressed. Furthermore the "all-knowing" Time Keepers are just robots and not the omniscient god-like beings TVA propaganda portrays them as.
  • Alliance of Alternates: The show deconstructs this with both Loki and He Who Remains, as it shows that certain aspects of one's personality make collaborating with yourself quite difficult. In particular...
    • Episode 5 shows a group of Lokis lead by a President in the Void, who all predictably end up backstabbing each other due to their narcissistic need to be the one in control of everything.
    • When He Who Remains first discovered the multiverse, he and several of his Variants formed one of these. Unfortunately, more malevolent versions of himself appeared and the alliance devolved as each Variant prioritized protecting their own timeline.
  • Alternate Self:
    • The series opens on the Avengers: Endgame scene where the Avengers inadvertently set the Alternate Universe Loki free when looking for the Space Stone at the time of the Battle of New York, with him using said Infinity Stone to escape. It then shows that Loki landed in the Gobi desert, where he is apprehended by the Time Variance Authority. They label him Variant L1130.
    • Another iteration of Loki is the Big Bad of the show, ambushing TVA squads and stealing their Reset Charges, which they use to bomb the Sacred Timeline. This Variant turns out to be a female version of the God of Mischief who calls herself Sylvie. And also not the true Big Bad, as she's totally justified in rebelling against the TVA.
    • Apparently alternate Loki Variants are, if not the single most common Variant the TVA encounters, it's pretty close. Mobius shows images of one that has blue skin like a Frost Giant, one that looks like the Hulk, and one that won the Tour de France.
    • In The Stinger of the fourth episode, Loki ends up encountering some of the pruned Variants of himself, after he too was pruned. One of them is much older and wearing a classic comics outfit, one of them is black and wields a hammer, one of them is a kid, who's also carrying a version that is an alligator wearing a horned helmet. The following episode shows a small army of Lokis, led by one who resembles the character's appearance during Vote Loki.
    • The season finale reveals that the TVA was founded by a single Earth scientist living in the 31st century, who decided to take matters into his own hands after a war of multiversal destruction was launched between his own alternate universe counterparts.
  • Alternative-Self Name-Change: To distinguish the rogue Variant of Loki that the TVA has been hunting for from all the other Loki Variants (including the main character of the show), this rogue Variant is simply referred to as "The Variant". They later would reject being called "Loki" and instead ask to be called "Randy" after seeing a nametag from a person they possessed, although that doesn't stick. She would later ask to be called "Sylvie".
  • Alternate Universe: The TVA's purpose is to prevent this, "pruning" any event which could branch into a new timeline that deviates from the Sacred Timeline. In the season finale, the timeline branches uncontrollably after Sylvie kills He Who Remains — although interestingly, the timeline had already begun to branch some time before that, after, as He Who Remains said, "the threshold" was crossed.
  • Ambiguously Human: The TVA's staff look human with no alien characteristics to them, but their civilization is beyond the universe's timeline, they have access to science and power that nullifies magic and renders Infinity Stones useless (to the point where they use them as paperweights). One of their minute men is capable of fighting Loki hand to hand (who, as a Jotunn, is stronger than non-enhanced humans) and one of their desk jockeys doesn't know what a fish is, having spent his whole life behind a desk. It's less ambiguous once Sylvie reveals they're all Variants.
  • And Starring:
  • Anthropic Principle: It's revealed in the second episode that Nexus events must be dealt with in "real time" from the TVA's perspective, because branching timelines are inherently chaotic and unpredictable. Of course, if it were possible for the TVA to erase these branch timelines before they even manifested, there wouldn't be a story in the first place.
  • Arc Words: For Loki, "Glorious purpose"; for agents of the TVA, "For all time, always".
  • Artistic License – History: Loki's D.B. Cooper stunt is shown to have occurred on a clear day in this show's first episode. In Real Life, while Cooper did board the plane in the afternoon, much of the actual hijacking took place in the middle of the night. Loki also speaks with his natural English accent during the event, whereas the real Cooper spoke in a Midwestern American accent.
  • Art Shift: The video hosted by Miss Minutes is done entirely in retro-style 2D animation, similar to the title sequence of the second episode of WandaVision.
  • Aspect Ratio Switch: The series is mainly presented in cinematic widescreen. In "Glorious Purpose", Miss Minutes' informational film is presented in 4:3 fullscreen while Loki's leap from N467US as D.B. Cooper is presented in 1.85:1 to show more of the sky.
  • Background Halo: In the first poster for the show, a golden clock frames Loki's head like a halo, while glowing hour and minute bars and multiple clock hands act as rays. Loki is a Norse god, but not a benevolent one, so he also sports a Kubrick Stare and a smirk. All characters later get similar posters, even Alligator Loki.
  • Badass Boast: Loki makes one while fixing Mobius's tie:
    Loki: It is adorable that you think you could possibly manipulate me. I'm ten steps ahead of you.
  • Badass in a Nice Suit:
    • Loki wears one of the TVA's brown government suits, complete with the word "VARIANT" written on the back in big orange letters.
    • Loki sports a business suit, complete with Sinister Shades, when he's playing the role of D.B. Cooper. He did this after losing a bet with Thor.
    • His variant's "Vote Loki"-inspired outfit in episode 5 also qualifies.
  • The Bad Guy Wins: He Who Remains may have been killed by Sylvie, but this just allows another Kang Variant to take over the TVA.
  • Bait-and-Switch: Sylvie's plan to bomb the Sacred Timeline is this both in and out-of-universe. It's easy to conclude, following Episode 2's Cliffhanger, that the bombing will result in multiple new timelines, and that her plan is to achieve just that... but in fact the TVA manage to fix the damage in a matter of minutes. Sylvie's actual goal is to kill the Time-Keepers, and the bombing was merely a distraction to keep the TVA busy while she infiltrated their headquarters in search of them.
  • Because Destiny Says So:
    • According to the members of the Time Variance Authority, the wise Time Keepers dictate the proper flow of time, and thus the fate of all living beings. Loki with his Screw Destiny attitude calls it absurd. In fact, it's entirely possible for people to deviate from the proper timeline, without even realizing they've done so, but the TVA is quick to stamp such variants out so the timeline continues along its predetermined path.
    • The TVA didn't interfere with the Avengers' time heist for this reason.
  • Beware the Silly Ones:
    • Loki likes to present himself as a "mischievous scamp" but if you start falling for this, he will use it against you. On the other hand, Loki's comedic level of arrogance is the main reason why he tends to fail in his schemes.
    • When we are shown other Loki Variants, we quickly learn that the more silly ones are the more dangerous ones. Kid Loki actually managed to kill Thor. Alligator Loki will bite your hand off if you are not careful. Classic Loki's silly costume and depressed attitude hide a magic user of enormous power.
    • Averted with Sylvie, a Loki Variant who is always serious and thus more effective and dangerous than the other Lokis.
    • He Who Remains acts quite eccentric, playful and hedonistic but he's the creator of the Sacred Timeline and TVA and successfully manipulated Loki and Sylvie into following the path he set out for them, knowing that it would end in him either retiring or being killed and unleashing his more dangerous Variants and beginning a new Multiversal War.
  • Bewildering Punishment: What the TVA's reaction to "crimes against sacred timeline" amounts to, given no one has any means of knowing when they're committing one or that such a crime exists in the first place. The people being processed often have no idea what they even did.
  • BFG: There's a Determined Homesteader-type woman on Lamentis who's defending her house with one. Presumably it's jerry-rigged from mining equipment since it lets out nonlethal but pretty painful concussive blasts.
  • Big Bad: The leader of the TVA, He Who Remains, a Variant of Kang the Conqueror. He has created an oppressive system that brainwashes or kills Variants, and restricts free will, even if he acted in the name of greater good.
  • Bilingual Bonus:
    • Loki's Latin speech deviates from the English subtitles. Instead of simply saying "volcano" he actually does some lengthy explaining that the mountain has been accumulating fire for a while and is now going to spill it on his listeners.
    • Loki's "Asgardian" song in episode 3, "Jeg saler min ganger", is actually Norwegian. A full translation is on the Quotes page. The part he sings while looking at Sylvie is about longing for home and a fair maiden there.
  • Blue-and-Orange Morality: Mobius says that what the Time-Keepers allow in the timeline isn't based on moral approval or disapproval but does not elaborate further.
  • Bookends: One of the first things Loki hears in the series is "Who are you?," said to him by Mongolians in the Gobi desert. The last line in the finale is "Who are you?", said to Loki by Mobius. Who Loki truly is is the driving question of the series.
  • Boxed Crook: Mobius M. Mobius recruits Loki to stop an alternate version of himself that's been killing TVA agents across time.
  • The Cameo:
    • This series marks Stan Lee's first posthumous cameo in the MCU. He's shown on a mural in the TVA's courtroom.
    • Chris Hemsworth has an uncredited cameo in Episode 5 as the voice of Throg.
    • Jonathan Majors also has an uncredited cameo, as the voices of the Time-Keepers.
  • Casting Gag:
  • Canon: In-Universe. He Who Remains through the Time-Keepers dictates the narrative of the Sacred Timeline, and the TVA enforce it.
  • Celestial Bureaucracy: The TVA is a combination of agents, hunters, and office workers who protect the Sacred Timeline. Those who deviate from the Sacred Timeline, "Variants", are brought before them and have to undergo a long bureaucratic process before they can receive judgment and either be "reset" (with their memories erased) or "pruned" (sent to the Void to die).
  • Central Theme: Multiple facets of determinism versus free will are explored over the series.
    • While it is established that Earth-199999 operates on a Multiple-Choice Future system, spontaneously generating alternate timelines, the TVA's job is to enforce a Hard-Deterministic single general timeline by "resetting" Alternate Timelines and arresting whoever is responsible for spawning them, or "variants".
    • Loki himself finds the TVA's show of force and the alleged Time Keeper's omnipotent authority to be inherently offensive, believing that he alone is the master of his own destiny, a sentiment that his alternate counterpart shares with him with her acts of temporal terrorism. Leaders of the TVA believe that free will either should be restricted as Necessarily Evil to combat the violent nature of certain individuals, or does not exist at all unless the person is in charge.
    • The TVA justifies its existence and The Evils of Free Will due to a war that crossed the entire multiverse, and nearly wiped out all nearby realities and timelines. The founder of the TVA ultimately pitches this to Loki and Sylvie - they can either kill him and free the multiverse to propagate on infinite branching timelines that will go to war again, or they can replace him and maintain order.
    • The first couple of episodes revolve around the question of whether Loki is capable of growing beyond his seemingly inherent Chronic Backstabbing Disorder, and learn to truly trust and be trusted.
    • Loki and the fugitive variant Sylvie are forced together at first, work together later, and eventually come to blows because the fugitive has come to embody Loki's biggest trust issues, and Loki was pulled out of the timeline at a point where he betrayed literally everyone who ever cared about him. Loki even lampshades this while appealing to the hope they can break from their given character archetypes.
      Loki: Because you can't trust and I can't be trusted.
    • In the later half of the series once the truth about the TVA and its members starts coming out, Mobius and Renslayer take up opposing positions over whether they should continue as they have for the past untold eons, or find new paths for themselves.
    • The TVA selectively enforce the "Humans Are Bastards" worldview by assigning the role of a villain to some characters on the Sacred Timeline, Loki being one of them, in order to maintain the overall narrative and ensure Character Development for the rest. Mobius, Ravonna and other Loki variants in the Void tell Loki that he is by nature bound to Chronic Villainy. And then Loki does change for the better, proving that "you can be whoever, whatever you want to be, even someone good" if you only choose to. In the end, Loki meets He Who Remains, who believes that the evil and power-hungry nature of his Variants can't be helped, and they will inevitably start a multiversal war and doom the universe if left unchecked. He has founded the TVA to restrict free will and prevent said war from happening. Their conflict boils down to the centuries-old philosophical dispute with the protagonist implicitly siding with Rousseau and the antagonist siding with Hobbes, without any clear winner.
  • Changed My Jumper: Whenever someone from the TVA goes to the past, they don't change into period appropriate clothes but just keep wearing their regular outfits and uniforms. Justified, since the timelines where they visit are usually meant to be reset anyway.
  • Changed My Mind, Kid: In episode 5, the variant Lokis from the Void decline to take part in Loki and Sylvie's plan to confront Alioth, saying they'd rather go on surviving. They leave, and Loki and Sylvie start their attempt. Just as it looks like it's about to fail, one of the other Lokis — the one whose defining characteristic is that he always chose running away and surviving — returns and performs a Heroic Sacrifice to help them succeed.
  • Character Title: The series following the character Loki is also named Loki.
  • Chekhov's Gun: The pen shown in Ravonna's office in episode 2 is a clue to her true identity. In episode 6, it is revealed that she was a school principal, with the name of the school written on that pen.
  • Chronic Backstabbing Disorder:
    • Loki's history of constant betrayals gets lampshaded in the second episode.
      Loki: You can trust me.
      Mobius: Loki, I've studied almost every moment of your entire life. You've literally stabbed people in the back like fifty times!
      Loki: Well, I'd never do it again!
    • Brought to its logical conclusion in the fifth episode, "Journey Into Mystery", when Boastful Loki betrays Kid Loki, Alligator Loki, and Classic Loki, only for him to be betrayed by President Loki, who in turn is betrayed by his army of Lokis, all in an attempt to claim rulership of the Void. Our protagonist Loki, who has undergone Character Development and moved past it, is left to watch in helpless embarrassment.
    • Discussed between Loki and Sylvie in the season 1 finale. They both find themselves on opposite sides of a choice they are forced to make, because Sylvie is incapable of trusting anyone, and Loki is inherently untrustworthy. They end up splitting ways over it.
  • Chronoscope: The TVA has a device that projects an image of a person's timeline, past and future, which Mobius uses to show Loki glimpses of his prime self's future. Loki then uses it to see further, up to witnessing his own death at the hands of Thanos in Avengers Infinity War.
  • Clarke's Third Law: Upon seeing a grand view of the sheer scale of the TVA's home dimension, Loki confusedly states that he thought there was no magic here. Mobius just smiles and states "There isn't". Loki is disbelieving that the TVA could build and maintain everything that they have without any magic.
  • Cliffhanger: Season 1 ends with Loki returning to the TVA, only to find it changed, with Mobius no longer remembering him and the effigies of the Time Keepers replaced with those of Kang.
  • Color-Coded for Your Convenience: The TVA's employees all wear brown government suits to make it easier to identify them. Meanwhile the inside of their headquarters is illuminated with bright orange and gold colors.
  • Composite Character: Sylvie is a reimagined version of Enchantress (her name being in reference to Sylvie Lushton, the second Enchantress), combined with aspects of Loki's "Lady Loki" incarnation.
  • Continuity Nod:
    • The shot of Loki twirling his daggers is similar to a shot of him doing it which appeared in the trailer for Thor: Ragnarok but was cut from the film itself.
    • In Avengers: Endgame, the Ancient One warns Professor Hulk that making any dramatic changes to alternate timelines will cause reality to branch off down a new path, which is potentially a darker path (e.g.: without the Time Stone, Doctor Strange wouldn't be able to convince Dormammu to leave Earth alone). This series establishes that the TVA exist to prevent precisely this from happening, and Loki is one of those branches that they show up to cut off.
    • When Mobius acknowledges that Loki doesn't trust very many people, the latter retorts "Trust is for children", much like Natasha Romanoff responded to Loki's quip that she was in love with Clint Barton in The Avengers. Since this was less than a day ago from his perspective, he may even be quoting her.
    • Loki receives glimpses of future events from Mobius detailing what becomes of him in Thor: The Dark World, Thor: Ragnarok, and Avengers: Infinity War via the TVA's Chronoscope. The moment when he realizes that him leading Malekith and Kurse to where the Aether is would lead to Frigga's death, he isn't pleased with the end result in the slightest. At the same time, however, he's also touched by Thor's and Odin's comments of him in Ragnarok, even smiling in the process. He's also terrified that he's really destined to die at Thanos' hands.
  • Cop Killer Manhunt: The beginning of the series revolves around a rogue Loki Variant killing TVA Hunters and Minutemen. Agent Mobius recruits Loki to help find the killer.
  • Crapsack World:
    • Lamentis-1 is an alien moon on the brink of complete destruction in 2077, where the poorer citizens of the world are left to die an agonizing death while the wealthier ones get to go a place called the Ark to live the rest of their days. The Ark itself is destined to be destroyed and kill everyone on it anyways, which Loki and Sylvie witness firsthand.
    • The place beyond time where pruned individuals go to isn't much better. Imagine Sakaar from Thor: Ragnarok, but with a giant cloud of death replacing the Grandmaster's gladiator games and palace, and you've basically described the place in full. It's also swarming with Loki variants who are all trying to backstab each other to gain control of what little there is to rule, with the exceptions of Classic, Kid and Alligator Loki.
  • Creative Closing Credits: The show's end credits show different things within the TVA, such as their propaganda, equipment and case files. When each text of credits appear, they are briefly shown out of order and sometimes have its letters flipped or enlarged, before reasserting itself back to normal. The TVA logo is also included alongside it, often as an outline. Certain changes can be seen in the end credits sequence between episodes; specifically, the productivity posters in a locker during the "Costume Design" credit, and the mugshots for the "Casting" credit.
    • The credits for Episode 3-5 doesn't have the distorted text effects; they fade in and out normally.
    • Like WandaVision and The Falcon and the Winter Soldier the section showing the show's starring cast only shows the names of the actors whose characters appeared in that episode and like in the latter, the names only show in the respective sections (i.e. Sophia Di Martino's credit being shown in the section with the water cooler in from the second episode onwards).
  • Credits Jukebox: The ending credits theme always changes with each episode. Episode 1 ends with the show's opening theme, Episode 2 ends with a track that plays in the episode (specifically, the one that accompanies the Haven Hills/Roxxcart scenes), Episode 3 ends with Bonnie Guitar's cover of "Dark Moon", and Episode 4 ends with Brenda Lee's "If You Love Me (Really Love Me)". Episodes 5 and 6 return to using original soundtracks; the latter in particular uses a Dark Reprise of the show's opening theme.
  • The Cretaceous Is Always Doomed: Invoked by The Variant, who, as our main Loki deduces, is able to avoid attracting TVA attention by hiding at apocalyptic moments in time — you can't alter the timestream enough to make a difference if everyone you're affecting is already about to die regardless. Loki and Mobius test this by visiting Pompeii just as Mount Vesuvius erupts. It's later shown the TVA itself invokes this by sending everything from the errant timelines they "prune" to an apocalyptic event at the "end of Time", where they are devoured by Alioth.
  • Cut-and-Paste Note: The logo for the series is presented using various typefaces for each letter rather than a single one as a nod to either Loki's abilities or to the show's concept of Variants. This also applies to the title logo at the end of the trailers and within the show's episodes; in the trailers, each letter cycles through different typefaces and colourations at random intervals before they settle on the 'official' forms, while in the episodes themselves, the letters cycle through various typefaces and letter-like symbols simultaneously, and only in the opening version do they settle on the official letters (albeit in stylized forms). Of particular note is that, in the official logo, the 'O' and 'I' come from the same typeface and that the latter is actually a lower-case 'L' in that specific typeface (though in the episodes themselves it is modified to look like a capital 'I').
  • Darker and Edgier: Loki starts off with a decidedly quirky and weird vibe, but as the series ramps up and the stakes increase it slowly settles into a much more unsettling, downbeat, and bleak tone compared to the of the MCU. By the end of the first season, its elements of cosmic horror firmly establishes Loki as the darkest entry in the MCU yet, even when compared to the likes of Avengers: Infinity War and WandaVision.
  • Dark Reprise: The show's main theme, "TVA", receives an intense and ominous arrangement for the end credits of the final episode, which is a reflection on the state of the TVA after He Who Remains dies and Kang takes over.
  • Deadly Euphemism: "Pruning", which obviously alludes to the TVA's practice of trimming off variant timelines like they were pruning a tree, but can extend to anything from disintegrating people to bombs that "reset" the timeline and presumably wipe realities. It turns out that "pruned" people and things wind up in another dimension... but this location is plagued by a being called Alioth who does permanently wipe whatever it eats from existence.
  • Disc-One Final Boss: Sylvie, the Loki Variant that our Loki is brought in to help hunt, is set up as the Big Bad of the show. However, it turns out that she's fully justified in rebelling against the TVA, which proves to be a fascistic organization that brainwashes its own agents - primarily operated by Ravonna Renslayer, and whoever is actually pulling the "Time-Keepers" strings.
  • Doing In the Scientist: Loki openly refers to his powers as magical in this series, a subject the MCU has danced around in the past.
  • Downer Ending: The Bad Guy Wins at the end of the first season. Sylvie, desperate for revenge, kills He Who Remains despite his warnings that other, more malevolent Variants of himself will emerge from alternate timelines and cause another Multiversal War. Loki finds himself in a version of the TVA where nobody remembers him and the final shot of the season is Loki staring in horror at a statue of Kang the Conqueror. Roll credits.
  • Dramatic Irony:
    • In Episode 4, Loki is stabbed in the back similar to how he himself stabbed Coulson in The Avengers.
    • In Episode 5 Sylvie actively mocks Loki when she hears his half-baked plan to kill Alioth, preferring to instead enchant it to accomplish their goals. In the Season 1 Finale Sylvie goes in to kill He Who Remains to complete her vengeance, refusing to listen to any opposition from Loki or even consider enchanting He Who Remains as her magic still worked in the space and he was no longer omniscient and was vulnerable.
  • Dutch Angle:
    • In Episode 5, an establishing shot of the TVA is tilted to the side, with the camera slowly rotating. This helps establish it as alien and uncanny.
    • In Episode 6, the same effect is used for the establishing shot of the interior of the Citadel at the End of Time.
  • Earth Is the Center of the Universe: Justified. For their motto of protecting "All Time. Always.", the TVA seems disproportionally interested in what is happening on Earth, and the only alien planets showing up on their screens are the ones who have interacted with Earth in recent history. This however makes sense because the true purpose of the TVA is to stop Variants of Kang from emerging. Since he was born on 31st century Earth, only the Nexus events that either happen on or otherwise affect his planet could have any effect on his personal timeline.
  • Easter Egg:
    • The 5th episode: "Journey into Mystery" is just rife with these that also double as either Continuity Nods, Mythology Gags, Shout Outs or even Historical InJokes.
      • The large three-masted wooden shipwreck shown could be Christopher Columbus' flaship: Santa Maria, which had reportedly sank down into the bottom of the ocean and was the target of modern shipwreck-hunting but it's still unrecovered.
      • While the Loki variants are leading L1130 to their hideout, they pass by a wreck of the infamous Thanos Copter.
      • During an aerial shot, one can catch a glimpse of a giant ruined Yellowjacket helmet lying around in the Void.
      • One of the buildings in the Void is the destroyed remains of the Sanctum Sanctorum.
      • The number plate of the pizza delivery car that Mobius drives is "GRN•W1D", which is a reference to Mark Gruenwald, a Marvel artist and the person Mobius was based on.
      • Speaking of the vehicle, a battered pizza-delivery vehicle is also a very frequent Easter Egg in films from Pixar.
      • Buried underneath the ground is not only a small Mjolnir but Throg stuck in a jar and trying to reach for it.
      • The bowling alley hideout used by Kid Loki and his fellow variants has a Polybius arcade machine, which can be seen a few shots. Notably behind Classic Loki while he's sitting and speaking.
      • The juice box Kid Loki drinks from during a toast is none other than the Hi-C Ecto-Cooler juice drink.
      • Speaking of drinks, the Loki's are drinking Roxxiwine, presumably coming from Roxxmart.
      • While Kid, Alligator and Classic Loki lead L1130 and Sylvie to Alioth, Ronan's broken ship: Dark Aster and a wrecked Helicarrier are seen in the distance.
      • Red Skull’s plane can also be see in the Void
      • There is also a large statue head of the Living Tribunal shown when Loki and Sylvie face off against Alioth.
      • An alternate timeline versions of the pyramids of Giza and the Sphinx appear in the Void, with the latter having its nose still intact.
    • As confirmed by the VFX supervisor, the ship that can be briefly seen in the opening scene of episode 6 belongs to the Collector. It was previously seen in Avengers: Infinity War on Knowhere. The fate of the Collector after Thanos found him was unclear when the show was released.
  • Existential Horror: In the story where everybody's role and fate was preordained by a Deity of Human Origin, and the TVA workers were brainwashed and robbed of their memories and former lives for a purpose unknown to them, all characters are faced with the fact that their life goals are meaningless and absurd and react to it with varying degrees of angst, ranging from emotional breakdowns (Loki has a Cry Laughing Mad breakdown, Hunter C-20 enters a catatonic state, endlessly repeating "it was real," Hunter B-15 cries in the rain when shown her past and says in a tiny voice that she looked happy) to quiet acceptance (Mobius) to vehement denial (Sylvie refuses to believe He Who Remains and kills him; when she realizes that he did tell her the truth, she is reduced to sitting on the floor and sobbing all alone; Ravonna decides that her life's work couldn't have been for nothing and the masquerade must be upheld at any cost).
  • Expendable Alternate Universe: The TVA, in order to maintain a single timeline, regularly "reset" any newly created branching timelines from existence. The individuals who are deemed responsible for the alternate timeline are branded as "Variants" and are treated as time criminals. They are arrested and put through an humiliating processing before being put before a judge to be declared guilty and get sentenced, if they're not already vaporized, a.k.a. "pruned" before that point for not cooperating. The pruned Variants, along with whatever objects and people that were in the now-reset branched timelines, are transported into the Void at the end of time and left to die, although some Variants end up being mind-wiped and being recruited as TVA agents instead.
  • Fantasy Gun Control: Despite the TVA having 31st century tech and trophies from other epochs and timelines, nobody has a firearm. The only time where guns show up is in the episode taking place on Lamentis 1 with a sequence where Loki and Sylvie get blasted with a Ray Gun from a homesteader and the presence of rifle-toting guards who never use them.
  • Flaming Sword: In the fifth and sixth episodes, Loki is armed with a flaming short sword, a gift from the Kid Loki variant, which is a version of his sword from the Norse mythos, Lævateinn.
  • First-Episode Spoiler: Loki is recruited to stop another version of himself antagonizing the TVA.
  • Foreshadowing:
    • When Loki is being processed, one of the machines is said to disintegrate anyone who's a robot. Episode 4 reveals that the Time Keepers are robots.
    • In Episode 2, Mobius reveals that he loves jet skis, though he's never ridden one. Loki is also seen reading one of Mobius' magazines on jet skis. Episode 3 reveals that all the TVA employees are brainwashed Variants, hinting that Mobius's jet ski dreams are likely to be memories from his pre-TVA life, which Mobius himself brings on in episode 4.
    • In episode 3, Loki says that getting rid of the TVA will only create a vacuum of power and implies that nothing good will come of it. This is precisely what happens in the finale when Sylvie kills the true leader of the TVA, He Who Remains and allows his more evil variant to start his multiversal conquering.
  • Forgot About His Powers: Besides his magic being dampened when at the TVA headquarters, throughout the show Loki seems to forget that he has Super Strength close to that of Thor. It is unclear whether the Time-Keepers also possess Super Strength or whether his own strength is suppressed along with the rest of his powers. However, even when his magic returns outside the TVA, his strength does not (which has the unfortunate collateral of making Captain America, who fought him in the beginning of The Avengers, looking physically weaker than guards on Lamentis). Justified, though: people on Lamentis-1 are Kree who are known to have superhuman strength in comparison to earth humans.
  • The Four Loves: The titular character learns all four in order, climbing a moral ladder of sorts. In the first episode, he expresses love for his family ("storge") when he watches the film with Frigga, Odin and Thor. The second episode shows his growing friendship ("philia") with Mobius. He meets Sylvie in the third episode, and by the fifth episode, they've developed romantic feelings for each other ("eros"). In the finale, he drops his weapon and stands in Sylvie's way defenseless to prevent her from making a wrong choice. He tells her that the only thing he wants is for her to be ok, which is an expression of selfless love ("agape").
  • Freeze-Frame Bonus: In one of the scenes briefly shown in the teaser, letters "LXXIX" are written on the wall behind Loki. This means "79", the year when Mount Vesuvius erupted and destroyed the Roman city of Pompeii.
  • Funny Background Event: Episode 6 has The Big Damn Kiss, complete with orbiting camera... which gradually reveals He Who Remains in the background watching in a Palm-on-Cheek Pose.
  • Future Food Is Artificial: One of the anachronistic objects that the TVA agents confiscated is a pack of "Kablooie" brand chewing gum, sold around 2047-2051. The packaging promotes that it has an artificial "blooberrie" flavor.
  • The Future Is Noir: The TVA locations, such as the courtroom, the time theater or the endless corridors, are all submerged in half-shadow.

    Tropes G-O 
  • Great Offscreen War: Miss Minutes' instructional video informs that the TVA was created in order to reorganize the multiverse into a single timeline after an all-out war between universes broke out. In the final episode, He Who Remains, who founded the TVA, confirms that this is indeed the case, each universe being spearheaded by variants of himself during the multiversal war.
  • Grey-and-Gray Morality: As Loki puts it, "No one bad is ever truly bad, and no one good is ever truly good." Fitting for this setting with anti-heroes, anti-villains, Necessary Evil and Well-Intentioned Extremist characters all in play. He Who Remains agrees, or at least says as much for himself, Loki and Sylvie, remarking that they're all villains with lengthy rap sheets.
  • "Groundhog Day" Loop: In the fourth episode, Loki is trapped in a memory of his past where Sif is reprimanding him for cutting off her hair. He initially doesn't think much of it, as he later has a bath and drinks some wine, but he realizes that the situation loops.
  • Hand Blast: Loki shooting a blast of green energy in combat. He hasn't used this ability in any of his previous appearances.
  • Heroic BSoD: For...a certain definition of 'heroic' that might fit Loki at least. Finding out that the TVA casually neutralized Infinity Stones to the point of many rank-and-file clerks using them as paper weights hits Loki hard. It's when he realizes just how powerful and significant the TVA is and how little power he has there.
  • Heroic Sacrifice: In Episode 5, Classic Loki buys time for Sylvie and Loki to prepare an enchantment by raising an illusion of Asgard and faces his death with a smile on his face after finally doing something selfless.
  • Hidden Villain: The Big Bad of the series is not revealed until the final episode.
  • Historical In-Joke: In the first episode, it is revealed that Loki was D.B. Cooper, or at least Earth-199999's version of him, the infamous mystery man who hijacked a plane, got two hundred thousand dollars in ransom money, and parachuted off the plane, with only a few stray burned bills ever found. As he jumped out, Loki was picked up by the Bifrost, at which point some of the bills in his bag were scattered and singed by its heat.
  • Homage Shot:
    • In Episode 3, Sylvie is shot in the chest and sent flying out of a trailer home. The framing of the shots references Bud doing the same to the Bride in Kill Bill Volume 2.
    • Episode 6 opens with an epic universal pullback accompanied by various voiceovers and songs from significant events across the MCU, very similar to the opening shot of Contact.
  • Hurricane of Excuses: Ravonna throws these out at Mobius in an attempt to divert him from thinking too much about the Loki/Sylvie situation, but he sees right through them.
  • Hypocrite Has a Point: The things Loki claims to have deduced about the TVA in the first episode turns out to be, by his own admission, things he knows to be true about himself. However, by the end of the season, it's clear that he nonetheless wasn't entirely wrong about them.
  • I Just Want to Be Loved: In episode 1, despite his claims of wanting to rule the Nine Realms, Loki breaks into Tears of Joy after seeing his future in Thor: Ragnarok where both his father Odin and brother Thor acknowledge him and tell him they love him.
  • In the Hood: At the end of the first episode an eerie figure in a dark cloak with the hood drops a lantern at night and starts a fire, killing another TVA team. The identity of the figure remains concealed by their hood, but is implied to be a Loki Variant. In the second episode, she takes her hood off, revealing her to be a female variant of Loki.
  • In Spite of a Nail:
    • Loki discovers that this trope can be used to avoid detection by the TVA. You can change events in the timeline as long as these changes do not propagate and affect key events in the Sacred Timeline. The easiest way to achieve this is to interact with people and places that will soon be destroyed in some form of natural disaster.
    • Sylvie was born as a female Loki but that in itself did not cause a Nexus Event despite seemingly being a major deviation from the Sacred Timeline. It took many years before she did something that finally changed events enough for her to be noticed by the TVA. The kicker is that, when she's arrested by the TVA and questioned by Renslayer, Sylvie demands to know what, exactly, said nail was- and Renslayer claims it's been so long that not even she can remember anymore.
    • Similarly, Classic Loki managed to escape from his fated death at the hands of Thanos and lived in self-imposed exile for thousands of years without creating a Nexus Event. Only when he finally gave into loneliness and attempted to leave the planet to see Thor did he attract the TVA's attention.
  • Insult Backfire: In the first episode, Loki ends up being more offended by Mobius's amusement at his insult of the TVA than Mobius is of the insult in the first place.
    Loki: The Time-Keepers have built quite the circus. And I see the clowns are playing their parts to perfection.
    Mobius: Big metaphor guy. I love it. Makes you sound super smart.
    Loki: I am smart.
    Mobius: I know.
    Loki: Okay.
    Mobius: Okay.
  • Insistent Terminology:
    • Whenever the TVA operatives disintegrates a target with their batons or resets a timeline with their Reset Charges, they always refer to this as process as "pruning"—not the straightforward "killed"/"deleted". The reason for this becomes more apparent when, at The Stinger of Episode 4, the freshly pruned Loki wakes up in another dimension confronted by more Variants of himself, who were also pruned by the TVA before him.
    • Loki consistently refers to the Timekeepers as "lizards".
  • Interface Spoiler: The thumbnail for the third episode prominently features Loki alongside Sylvie, whose identity was the big reveal at the end of the second episode.
  • Internal Deconstruction: As part of Episode 1's interrogation, Mobius analyzes all of Loki's lifetime and points out that Loki is not "the God of Mischief" because all he does is lose, and little of what he does is mischievous. Far from being burdened with "glorious purpose", he is destined for nothing more than unintentionally inspiring his enemies to be great.
  • Instructional Film: Episode 1 has a short, retro, cartoonish film in Deliberate VHS Quality where Miss Minutes explains what happens when someone (a Variant) deviates from the path created by the Time Keepers, how the TVA staff fixes this error, and what happens to these Variants after the TVA catches them.
  • Ironic Echo:
    • In episode 1, after seeing that only after abandoning his Anti-Villain ways did he get anything he ever really wanted, and even then he's "destined" to get killed in front of his brother Thor, Loki ruefully repeats his Motive Rant line from The Avengers (2012) about being burdened with "glorious purpose".
    • These are also the last words of Classic Loki, who sacrifices himself by distracting Alioth so that L1130 and Sylvie can successfully enchant him.
      Classic Loki: Glorious purpose!
  • Irony: The employees at the TVA who look at Variants with disdain are all Variants themselves.
  • It Began with a Twist of Fate: The Time Variance Agency's purpose of preventing all changes to the Sacred Timeline includes hunting any divergence, not matter how small, as long as it has important consequences. Their Instructional Film gives the example of how arriving late for work can be enough to cause a branch in the Sacred Timeline, and mark the person responsible as a Variant to be pruned.
  • Jerk-to-Nice-Guy Plot: Plot of season 1 revolves around Loki, an Ex-Big Bad of The Avengers, realizing the error of his ways and struggling to become a better person.
  • Join or Die: In episode 1, Mobius presents Loki with the choice of either helping the TVA to catch "an even greater threat", or being found guilty of crimes against the sacred timeline and being deleted from reality.
  • Kangaroo Court: Judge Renslayer's trial. Sure, you could plead not guilty... but the fact that the TVA has apprehended you, when they know how the timeline is meant to go and how you didn't align yourself with that, means they've already made up their minds.
  • Laughing Mad: Upon witnessing his movie timeline in the first episode, Loki breaks into uncontrollable laughter (while also appearing to be on the verge of tears).
  • Lawman Baton: TVA officers carry batons which they can use to immobilize targets by altering their flow of time or disintegrate them.
  • Logo Joke: The usual Marvel Studios logo at the beginning of each episode is tinted green and gold on a black background instead of the usual silver on red background, a nod to Loki's colour motifs.
    • This trope is taken Up to Eleven in Season One's finale episode, where everyone that appears on screen (be it the characters fading in during the first half, or during the fly-by of the scenes playing within the Marvel Studios logo in the second half) get to say something in relation to their character/most iconic moment, while a snippet of the song "It's Been a Long, Long Time" (the song that played at the end of Avengers: Endgame) plays throughout the logo sequence. This segues into the Cold Open where you start to hear literally everything- be it quotes from historic figures or real-life songs that were used throughout the MCU's history, due to Loki ending up at The End of Time itself.
  • Medium Blending: Miss Minutes is evidently a CGI-character. In episode 1, she appears in her own little hand-drawn 2D cartoon to explain the existence of the TVA and the Time-Keepers; in this appearance, she has a cel-shaded look to blend in with the 2D animation). In the second episode, Miss Minutes actually appears as a holographic projection that actively communicates and interacts with Loki as he's studying up on the TVA's work terms, before jumping into a computer of sorts to avoid being hit by Loki's magazine.
  • Meta Fiction: The show features the concept of a "Sacred Timeline" with its canon being overseen and controlled by He Who Remains. Characters in the show discuss tropes and narrative conventions, for instance, the villain always loses in the end and is needed to advance the Character Development of the heroes (episode 1), or The Hero's Journey is needed for said Character Development (episode 6). They also sometimes Break the Fourth Wall — the line "this is fiction" in the finale has a double meaning. In the end, the characters rebel against He Who Remains and one of them, Sylvie, kills him, allowing endless timelines to branch off freely.
  • Meta Twist: MCU is famous for its antagonists being dark copies of its protagonists with similar abilities, so one would expect the Hidden Villain to be an evil Loki Variant. The actual villain turns out to be He Who Remains, a Non-Action Big Bad completely unrelated to Loki. They never fight each other and oppose each other on a more philosophical level instead. Loki and his variants prove that people can change, while He Who Remains believes that his variants are evil by nature and that can't be helped.
  • Mood Whiplash: Unlike most MCU films and series that are prone to undercutting heartwarming moments with comedy, this series often juxtaposes heartwarming moments with heartbreaking ones.
  • The Multiverse: As alluded in the series and further confirmed by Word of God, the multiverse always existed, but the events in it were restricted to just one loose narrative ("The Sacred Timeline") in which there are no Kang variants. In the finale, Sylvie kills He Who Remains and thus allows for the timelines to branch freely.
  • Mundane Utility:
    • The TVA has an assortment of Infinity Stones from different timelines, which have no power in their realm. They sometimes use them as paperweights.
    • In another scene, Loki uses his powers to dry his clothes after walking in the rain.
    • He also conjures a blanket to keep himself warm in episode 5.
  • Musical Nod: In the "Introducing Agent Mobius" clip, Franz Schubert's String Quartet No. 13 in A minor is playing in the elevator, which was also played in The Avengers during the scene where Loki attacks a gala in Stuttgart.
  • Mythology Gag: See here.
  • Narnia Time: Mobius M. Mobius explains that time works differently in the TVA compared to other dimensions. Since their goal is to keep the flow of time, it makes sense.
  • Nature vs. Nurture: There are many Loki variants in the series, and they share little in common apart from snark, love for green and affinity to magic, proving that while nature leaves its footprint, life circumstances play an equally if not more important part in making the person who they are.
  • Never Trust a Trailer:
    • The D.B. Cooper bit and Loki's accompanying line "Brother, Heimdall, you better be ready", one of the last scenes of the initial teaser trailer, don't really feature at all in the actual series. Not only doesn't Loki being D.B. Cooper have anything to do with the story nor is it brought up again after the flashback is shown in Episode 1, but neither Thor nor Heimdall appear at all in the rest of the series (except for footage from previous MCU entries).
    • The trailers imply Loki's recruitment is to fix the damage he caused by stealing the Tesseract and creating a new timeline. In fact, that aberration is fixed within two minutes of the TVA catching him, and the actual threat is another version of him that is maliciously causing aberrations in the timeline and has thus far proven beyond their ability to track.
    • The trailers imply that President Loki is just our Loki in a different outfit. Come Episode 5, and he turns out to be a completely separate Variant.
    • The mid-season trailer has Mobius seemingly berating Loki by saying, "I believed, stupidly, you could be whatever you wanna be, even someone good." This was actually spliced from two different dialogues; the "I believed, stupidly" phrase is taken from Episode 2, when Mobius scolds Loki after a botched mission; while the latter half of the sentence is actually Mobius giving Loki encouragement in Episode 4, after the former learns the truth about the TVA and plans to help Loki out.
    • The trailers had shots of Loki back in the Stark Tower, holding the scepter, and back in Asgard, standing before its throne as its king. These shots coupled with an early poster where "king Loki" is depicted below the protagonist made many viewers believe that in the finale Loki will face his evil Variant. In fact, these scenes are nowhere to be found in the series, and the true Big Bad is a Variant of Kang the Conqueror.
  • Next Sunday A.D.: The second episode has an extended scene in Alabama in 2050. The most futuristic things visible are holographic advertising and a Knightscope security robot. Curiously, the future nearly 30 years from now doesn't look much different from today, and could potentially even have taken place in the past decade or two.
  • No Body Left Behind: The pruning sticks cause their victims to slowly disintegrate into nothingness ,or so it seems. In actuality, its victims are teleported to another dimension - once there however, if they are caught by Alioth then they truly are disintegrated into nothing, as it eats matter and energy.
  • Nothing Is the Same Anymore: If the Marvel multiverse wasn't important before because all individual universes loosely followed the same "canon" (the Sacred Timeline), after the season 1 finale it sure as hell is important now. It doesn't just open the doors for projects like What If? and Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness, it just blows them wide open. Even on the smaller scale for Loki himself: Neither Mobius or B-15 even remember who he is while a variant of Kang rules the TVA.
  • The Nudifier: In the first episode, as he's being processed by the TVA, a huge creepily smiling robot tries to remove Loki's Asgardian garb. When he protests, it vaporizes the outfit right off him, leaving him completely naked and distraught.
  • Omniglot:
    • The TVA know every language throughout all of time, a most necessary skill when their job requires interacting with beings from every conceivable time and place in existence.
    • Loki is not this, but he is close. He can speak English, "Asgardian" (actually real-life Norwegian) and Latin, but not Mongolian. Perhaps he studied Latin when Thor was learning to speak Groot.
  • One-Word Title: The title of the series is just the given name of its main character: Loki.
  • Order Is Not Good: The TVA who represent order and maintain the proper flow of time turn to be an evil oppressive organization that orphans little girls, locks characters in a loop of Chronic Villainy, kidnaps and brainwashes variants into obedient functionalists.
  • Order Versus Chaos: One of the main conflicts of the series. The leaders of the TVA (He Who Remains and Ravonna) are rooting for order, Sylvie is hell-bent on destroying the organization and bringing chaos, and the rest, including the titular character, fall in-between. The final choice He Who Remains offers to Loki and Sylvie is between order and Necessary Evil or chaos, free will and an all-out war.
  • Other Me Annoys Me:
    • "Our" Loki tends to have a poor time getting along with other Variants of himself, especially in episode 5 when he ends up in the Void and has to deal with a horde of Loki Variants.
      Loki: This is a nightmare.
    • That's the very reason why He Who Remains created the TVA in first place: the Multiversal War mentioned in the first episode was actually him trying to get rid of his beligerent, dangerous variations, heavily implied to be the MCU version(s) of Kang the Conqueror, disgusted by the chaos they caused; after he succeeded, he created the TVA to prevent the creation of timeline branches in order to avoid the ressurfacing of such variants.
  • Our Time Travel Is Different: The TVA use glowing portal doors for Instantaneous Time Travel. Their Tempads create these portals, and they can go anywhere in the past or future as well as anywhere in physical space as well. However, branching timelines disrupt their technology, forcing them to enter "the present" for that timeline.
  • Outside Man, Inside Man: Loki ("outside man") and Mobius's ("inside man") dynamic in the show follows this pattern. They work for the TVA and find the hiding spot of the Cop Killer together, Loki follows her through the portal while Mobius is left behind, Loki discovers that she was Good All Along and falls in love with her, both of them are captured, Mobius doesn't belive Loki and has him tortured, interrogated and left to be "pruned". Then Mobius finally discovers the truth and the two form an alliance only for both of them to get "pruned".

    Tropes P-Z 
  • Place Beyond Time:
    • The TVA exists outside the normal flow of time, allowing them to monitor the timeline as a whole and neutralize nexus events as they form, regardless of when in the timeline they take place.
    • At the end of the Sacred Timeline is the Void, where time simply ends and nothing matters. The TVA uses it as a dumping ground for the Variants and branching timelines they prune, which are then devoured by Alioth. Alioth itself guards another timeline beyond the Sacred Timeline, where the creator of the TVA resides.
  • Police Brutality: The Time Variance Authority's actions can come across as this, at least to those they handle. The people they arrest are subdued with little explanation or warning, they go through some humiliating processing, and are soon taken before a judge listing their crime. Oh, and if the arrestees don't cooperate with all this, the Hunters will just prune them (as they do the errant timelines). They're even willing to put children through the whole process, like the young Sylvie who was arrested while playing with her toys on Asgard and subjected to the whole terrifying ordeal before escaping.
  • Portal Door: The TVA can create portals through time and space that look like glowing doors. Anyone with a Tempad can do this as young Sylvie figured out.
  • Portal to the Past: The TVA's portals can go anywhere in time and space.
  • Pragmatic Adaptation: The French dub calls the TVA "Tribunal des Variations Anachroniques" (Tribunal of Anachronistic Variations) in order to keep the acronym intact while giving it a similar meaning to the original.
  • Pride Before a Fall: The titular character is introduced as a seemingly sadistic would-be God-Emperor who is captured by the TVA, stripped of his clothes, subjected to tedious processing, found guilty in a Kangaroo Court, and can barely catch a break from this point on to the end of the series, which is also a downer, but is humbled in the process.
  • Production Foreshadowing:
    • The animated intro with Miss Minutes in the first episode talks about the madness of a multiversal war, which is a reference to Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness, the film that was yet to be released when the show came out but shares the lead writer, Michael Waldron.
    • One of the "pruned" Loki variants shown as a hologram by the TVA is huge, hulking Loki in Frost Giant form. One such Loki would appear in the then-upcoming What If?
  • Propaganda Piece: The TVA brainwash their workers, so most episodes feature dystopian posters hanging on the walls, training or explanatory videos, and even statues of the supposed founders of the organization.
  • Protagonist Title: LOKI. Note that there is more than one Loki in this show.
  • Psychological Projection: Many of Loki's criticisms towards humanity and others are revealed to be projections on how he feels about himself. One of those criticisms is how humans always make the wrong decision when given a choice, leading to shame and regret.
  • Putting on the Reich: The TVA's internal security guards guarding the Time Keeper's chambers wear notably fascist looking regalia, sporting all-black instead of the black and brown color scheme of the Minutemen. Their caps, coats, and belt-with-angled-crosspiece designs taken from 1930's Nazi parade uniforms.
  • Recruiting the Criminal: The Time Variance Authority captures Loki after he escapes with the Space Stone in Avengers: Endgame, put him on trial for violating the sacred timeline, and then recruit him because they need his unique perspective in dealing with another version of himself killing their agents.
  • Regional Riff: Natalie Holt's score uses among others Nordic instruments, specifically a Nyckelharpa and a Hardanger fiddle, to reflect Loki's ties to Norse Mythology.
  • Reset Button: The TVA possesses this as an actual, physical device that resets a timeline to its "sacred" course after arresting the variant responsible for the divergence. The Loki Variant (a.k.a. Sylvie) has been stealing them from TVA squads and modifying them to bomb the whole Sacred Timeline.
  • Ret-Canon: The terms "Variant" and "Sacred Timeline" were first introduced in the series, and then used in the comics. Fantastic Four #35 that was released after the series has made them canon to Earth-616 (the Marvel Universe).
  • Retro Universe: The TVA's headquarters is a separate reality unmoored from time, with cutting-edge technology that allows agents to travel through time and space or watch someone's past or future like a movie in a theater. However, it looks like The '70s with their geometric patterns, brown and orange hues and dated-looking devices.
  • Right for the Wrong Reasons: While at his trial, Loki speculates that the Avengers went back in time in order to subvert his rule over Earth, assuming that he emerges victorious after the events of The Avengers. He's entirely correct that they've gone back in time to change their timeline, but it's primarily to undo Thanos's work than anything that's really related to Loki (since he's, y'know, dead).
  • Rubber-Band History: Invoked by the TVA, who constantly change alternate timelines such that they always lead back on the sacred timeline, usually through brute force.
  • San Dimas Time:
    • While the TVA can normally go to any point in the Sacred Timeline freely, variant branch timelines are unstable enough that they are limited to the "present" there.
    • Subverted in the final episode. While Sylvie killed He Who Remains after pushing Loki through the portal, the ramifications take effect before Loki comes out the other side, since the timelines were already starting to branch once the threshold at the end of time was passed.
  • Scenery Censor: When the TVA robot removes Loki's clothes, Loki's groin region is covered by the robot's arm.
  • Screw Yourself: In episode 4, Loki starts falling for Sylvie, an Alternate Self version of him, which is a powerful enough event to create a Nexus Event during an apocalypse. Such a thing of two versions of the same person becoming romantic is such utter chaos and that they not only cause a Nexus Event with a branch timeline that goes almost perpendicular to the Sacred Timeline (something never seen before), but also having the Nexus Event during an apocalypse(which are established as not causing Nexus Events because everything get wiped out regardless of what changes someone makes), which is supposed to be impossible.
  • Series Continuity Error: Sylvie's id in the TVA files Loki looks through is L0852. Sylvie's id in the script shown by He Who Remains is L1190. Either there were two Sylvies who killed TVA cops and stole their reset charges, or the production team made an error.
  • Sequel Hook: Several:
    • Season 1 ends with Sylvie killing He Who Remains, which leads to a new timeline where she unintentionally sent Loki and where nobody at the Time Variance Authority knows him, directly setting up a second season.
    • He Who Remains warns Sylvie that killing him will lead to the rise of hostile variants of himself, some of whom may be far more evil and dangerous than he ever was. The Wham Shot at the end of the episode shows a statue of Kang the Conqueror in the TVA, indicating that he was right. This sets up Kang's role as the antagonist of Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania.
    • Finally, He Who Remains crossing the Threshold (the limit of his future knowledge) with the Lokis causes the Sacred Timeline to splinter, giving rise to the creation of numerous alternate timelines, which sets up the events of What If? and Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness.
  • Shameful Strip: Having captured Loki, the TVA employs The Nudifier robot to remove all his clothes, save for the prisoner collar they've put on him. Loki is not happy about it, but before he has time to react, the floor under his feet collapses and he falls down into another room. Fortunately for him, a TVA prisoner jumpsuit appears on him when he stands back up.
  • Shoulders-Up Nudity: As part of their routine, the TVA vapourize Loki's clothes, leaving him completely naked, but only seen from the waist up.. In previous appearances, as a side character Loki has barely shown any skin, but as the main character in his series, he delivers the Manservice the franchise is famous for.
  • Shout-Out:
    • During prisoner-processing, Loki gets snippy about not wanting to discard his "finest Asgardian leather" outfit.
    • In episode 5, Loki witnesses an entire ship being pruned by the TVA. The name on the ship's side is USS Eldridge — the ship that inadvertently time-travels in The Philadelphia Experiment.
  • Sinister Silhouettes: The teaser gives us a shot of a mysterious redheaded woman sitting on a rock, staring at a dark purple sky. The first official trailer gives us that same shot, but with Loki sitting next to her.
  • Sir Not-Appearing-in-This-Trailer:
    • Richard E. Grant's character is completely absent from both the teaser and the trailer and remains a mystery until the series release. He appears as a Loki variant in The Stinger of episode 4 and in episode 5 is credited as "Classic Loki".
    • Although not obeying this trope to the letter, Sophia Di Martino follows this trope in spirit, only appearing in one wide shot in the final trailer that barely gives any clues to her identity or role, to the point some fans didn't even think it was her at first.
  • Sliding Scale of Free Will vs. Fate: The show is all over the place, because the main conflict is between the characters who want to restrict (the TVA) and allow (the Lokis) the deviations from the Sacred Timeline, i.e. free will. Even worse, in the finale He Who Remains effectively states that before the Threshold there was no free will at all because the entire narrative up to this point was scripted out, including the deviations like Loki's and Sylvie's stories. Which interpretation wins is unclear as of the end of season 1 with its massive Cliffhangers.
  • Sliding Scale of Idealism Versus Cynicism: The show lands in the middle, but makes wide swings left and right. In the end, love simultaneously redeems and can not overcome, and the titular character, a former Anti-Villain who's changed his ways and is a shining example of the fact that Rousseau Was Right, earns a Downer Ending where he's stuck alone in a Crapsack World he's just helped to make worse.
  • The Snack Is More Interesting: In episode 6, when Loki and Sylvie finally get to confront the creator of the TVA face to face, he's holding an apple which he proceeds to casually take bites out of while explaining why he doesn't consider them a threat.
  • So Last Season: The Infinity Stones were the running thread of the MCU for years, being the most powerful objects of any singular universe. This series, which segues into the wider multiverse, casually dismisses them when Loki finds that they're powerless in the TVA's realm, to the point that countless copies from deleted timelines are used as colorful paperweights.
  • Southern Belle: Miss Minutes definitely has the accent for a lady from the American deep South. Doubles as Write What You Know, as Waldron himself comes from the Southern States.
  • Standard Office Setting: Half of the first season is spent inside the TVA headquarters which is a sprawling maze of office desks and archives filled with functionaries, with an open space for ordinary workers and fancy secluded offices for higher-ups. Cue in soul-crushing paperwork, training videos, motivational posters, funny coffee mugs, falling asleep at a desk, canteen talks, negotiations with Da Chief and Interservice Rivalry between Analysts and Hunters typically found in a Police Procedural. The TVA are indeed the time cops, so it figures.
  • Standard Snippet:
    • Classical music playing on a theremin are often heard in scenes set in Ravonna Renslayer's office; in "The Variant", Clara Rockmore's theremin cover of Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky's 18 Morceaux, Op. 72: No. 2 "Berceuse"; while in "The Nexus Event", a theremin cover of Camille Saint-Saëns' "Le cygne" ("The Swan").
    • In Episode 5, a variation on Richard Wagner's Ride of the Valkyries plays as Classic Loki conjures up an exact replica of Asgard to distract Alioth.
  • The Stinger:
    • The first episode has an audible stinger (without any visuals) right at the very end of the end credits. Miss Minutes thanks those visiting the TVA and asks them to not forget to share their feedback on the service.
    • The fourth episode sees Loki ending up in an unfamiliar place in time after being pruned, and encountering multiple other Variants of himself living there.
    • A scene after the credits in the final episode of the first season shows a TVA document of Loki, being stamped with a mark that says "Loki will return in Season 2."
  • Stock Footage:
    • The series opens on the Avengers: Endgame scene in which Loki escapes with the Tesseract during the bungled time heist. However, eagle-eyed viewers will notice that some parts of the scene actually use deleted takes, particularly with Loki's impersonation of Captain America and his wave towards an enraged Hulk.
    • During "Glorious Purpose", footage from Thor, The Avengers (2012), Thor: The Dark World, Thor: Ragnarok, and Avengers: Infinity War is used to illustrate Loki’s past and the correct order of the timeline to him.
  • Stock Unsolved Mysteries:
    • How and why did D.B. Cooper collect a ransom of $200,000 and just disappear shortly after? Turns out that Loki himself was Cooper, who collected that cash due to losing a bet with Thor and used the Bifrost to return to Asgard and pay up.
    • In the fifth episode, one of the alternate timeline objects that the TVA pruned is the USS Eldridge, a US Navy vessel that was said to be subjected to the Philadelphia Experiment, an alleged military experiment in which the ship was rendered completely invisible.
  • Strong as They Need to Be: Just how physically and magically strong is Loki? It seems to wary a lot, with him being slapped around by TVA agents and Sylvie's enchanted humans one moment, and him being able to give Sylvie herself (who can in turn go through TVA agents like tissue paper) a run for her money the next. Likewise, his magic seems to amount to "minor parlour tricks" sometimes and "lifting entire buildings with his mind" the next. There are possible explanations for a lot of it note  but it's never remarked on.
  • Stylistic Suck:
    • The TVA's orientation video begins in the style of an old Filmations superhero series, gradually morphing into something out of a 1950s educational cartoon.
    • When the Time-Keepers are finally revealed in Episode 4, they're badly CGI'd Muppet-like creatures who look very out of place with the amazing special effects usually seen in the show. This ends up being intentional as when Sylvie decapitates one, they're revealed to be nothing more than animatronics, making their shoddy appearance justified.
  • Temporal Mutability: As explained by Miss Minutes, deviating from a set course of events creates branching timelines, but the Time Variance Authority act as Time Police. They enforce time immutability and cut off the branches as soon as they emerge. However, time travel is allowed if it was supposed to happen - basically a Stable Time Loop isn't a problem, but actively changing things is. Ultimately the Time Keepers, heads of the TVA, decide what should happen and what should not.
  • That Liar Lies: When Loki says he doesn't like talking, Mobius retorts (while mimicking a mouth with his hand), "But you do like to lie, which you just did. 'Cause we both know you love to talk. Talky, talky.".
  • Theremin: Natalie Holt's score prominently features a theremin. Both her and director Kate Herron independently from each other decided that it should be included in the score because of its inherent sci-fi sound.
  • This Is Gonna Suck: Said by Sylvie right before she and Loki attempt to hijack The Ark on Lamentis.
  • Tick Tock Tune: "TVA", used as the end credits theme of the first episode, incorporates the sound of clocks ticking, which ties in with the show's time-travel themes. A variant of the track arranged for the opening sequence of each episode has more subdued orchestral arrangement, and thus the ticking becomes more prominent.
  • Time Police: The TVA's (Time Variance Authority) job is to "protect the proper flow of time", and Loki escaping with the Space Stone was an aberration that the TVA has to fix. It's also explained that the Time Keepers founded the TVA to protect a single, unified timeline after a devastating multiversal war. Interestingly it's not time travel itself that is considered a crime — the Avengers' time travel shenanigans are considered to be perfectly fine — it's not following your predestined fate that is considered the crime, even though there's no way for a being not aware of the timeline to know they've deviated from it.
  • Time Rewind Mechanic: Prisoners of the TVA are fitted with Time Twisters, restraining collars that allow the one holding the remote to wind the prisoner backward or forward in their relative timestream, up to the present. This has the effect of teleporting the victim to whatever location they were at the selected moment, without affecting their memories or anything else they interacted with along the way. They primarily use it to yank back prisoners that attempt to run during processing.
  • Title-Only Opening: The opening title of Loki simply consists of the letters making up the name "Loki", constantly shifting between different typefaces before settling on one type for each letter.
  • TV Head Robot: The robot that undresses Loki has a screen head with changing facial expressions.
  • Unflinching Walk: A variant. Loki keeps looking at Mobius, smiling, arms wide open, as a giant ash cloud from a volcanic eruption comes flying up behind him.
  • Unnecessarily Creepy Robot: Loki faces a huge robot that protrudes from a wall and reminds one of a bathysphere with four mechanical arms. It frowns at Loki for resisting, then aims something at him that makes Loki's clothes disappear, to which the robot smiles.
  • Unusual Euphemism: TVA agents who go into the field call their work "pruning", both to refer to the act of clipping branching timelines and vaporizing variants.
  • Urban Legends: In episode 5, the Polybius machine, a fictitious arcade game claimed to cause Brown Note and Mind Manipulation effects to those who played it, can be seen in the Void Lokis' ramshackle lair.
  • Vast Bureaucracy: The TVA is a very large organization. Its staff is watching the timelines, maintaining enormous archives and doing the much-needed paperwork, like printing out everything a person has ever said and making them sign it. When Loki finds a window, the organization's headquarters are shown to be so massive that one can't even see where it ends.
  • Villain Has a Point: He Who Remains was telling the truth in the finale, without a dictator controlling and pruning the timeline a multiversal war is coming. Played with for Loki L1130. He starts off believing The Evils of Free Will apply to everyone but himself and seeks to be a God-King. He moves away from this belief after Character Development from being humbled, both for himself and the timeline as a whole. Loki joins Sylvie's fight to liberate the timeline and stop the TVA. But by the finale he considers that He Who Remains might have a point, and that getting rid of him or the TVA at the moment might not be the best idea.
  • Villain Protagonist: Loki is the main character and viewpoint character of this series, and this version of Loki comes from the immediate aftermath of The Avengers (2012), where he is still a villain and has not experienced any of his later character development towards redemption. Also, considering that this series involves variants of Loki, this trope is played with. The TVA want this Loki's help in catching another Loki who is causing trouble for them. Then both Lokis join forces against the TVA, who is turning out to be villainous itself.
  • Villainous Rescue: "Villainous" in the sense that the TVA are antagonistic to Loki and Sylvie, but by the start of episode 4, the two variants are doomed to die in an inescapable apocalypse event. The two of them hold hands as they await the end, which causes enough of a paradox to draw the TVA's attention, and they are taken back into custody instead of being left to die.
  • Visual Pun: The title sequence consists of Loki's name spelled out in a set of different, rolling fonts; in other words: variants of "Loki".
  • Weapon Twirling: In episode 3, Loki is shown casually flipping his daggers.
  • Well-Intentioned Extremist: Believed by the TVA regarding its mission to prevent any deviations in the timeline, and confirmed by its founder, He Who Remains. He is fully aware that the TVA's methods are brutal and oppressive, but also sincere in his belief that these methods are necessary to prevent the destruction of the multiverse.
  • Wham Episode:
    • Once again, Episode 4. Loki and Sylvie finally reach the Timekeepers and confront them... only to discover, upon beheading one of them, that they're actually just mindless androids being operated by whoever actually created the TVA. Furthermore, the final scene has Loki "pruned", which we've been lead to believe means Cessation of Existence... only for him to wake up in another unknown location, being greeted by multiple other versions of himself.
    • The season one finale provides one not just for the show, but for the MCU as a whole as Sylvie kills He Who Remains, and allows the entire multiverse to branch freely. As a result, a different variant of He Who Remains goes on to become the leader of another timeline's TVA, and this Mobius doesn't remember any of the events within the show.
  • Wham Line: In the last episode, after Loki makes his way back to the TVA and tries to explain everything to Mobius:
  • Wham Shot:
    • An in-universe example: after Casey gives Loki the Tessaract upon threat of death, Loki's gaze wanders to the open desk drawer it was previously stashed in, only to freeze... because he sees dozens of Infinity Stones just laying there. Casey casually tells him that they get a lot of those, and some of the guys even use them as paperweights, indicating that the TVA is on an entirely different level note  and Loki is utterly stunned.
    • In Episode 4, Sylvie uses a thrown sword to decapitate one of the Timekeepers... only for it to start emitting sparks, followed by the other Timekeepers laughing and deactivating like animatronics being turned off.
    • At the end of the first season finale, Loki finds himself back in the TVA and immediately runs to find Mobius and B-15 to let them know what has happened. Then he discovers that not only do they not remember him, but the statues of the three Time Keepers have been replaced by a single statue of a variant of He Who Remains, implied to be Kang the Conqueror.
  • World-Healing Wave: When we finally see a reset charge in action in episode 2, we see that they send out a wave of energy that restores the timeline.
    • In episode 5 we learn that this wave actually sends all the "incorrect" things to the void at the end of time to be devoured by Alioth. Things and people.
  • World-Wrecking Wave: In episode 2's climax, the Loki Variant uses repurposed reset charges to mass-bomb the Sacred Timeline, creating numerous branch timelines that the TVA is scrambling to try and fix.
  • You Are Number 6:
    • TVA's Hunters and analysts are only ever referred to by their designated letter-number code (Hunter B-15, Hunter C-20, Hunter D-90, Analyst 1182-E, and so on).
    • Loki is officially known as Variant L1130 in TVA records.
  • You Are What You Hate: Episode 3 reveals that all the TVA employees are Variants who have had their memories erased by the Time-Keepers, which is ironic because they hate Variants with a passion.
  • You Can't Go Home Again: Loki realizes at the end of the first episode that he can't return to his own timeline. It's already been reset and another version of him is living it.
  • Your Magic's No Good Here: Loki is quite dismayed to discover that his powers don't work in the TVA's dimension, and neither does the power of the Infinity Stones. Mobius implies that this holds true for all magic.
  • Zeerust: The TVA's aesthetic leans on it hard, and the shot of the greater complex would not have been out of place in a movie from the 70s. The production designer acknowledged that they were influenced by Terry Gilliam's Brazil, another movie using archaic, worn-down office furniture to visualize how bloated the bureaucracy is. The production designer also explained that the reason things at the TVA look not only anachronistic but worn down is sort of a parallel to all of the big bureaucratic architecture build in the aftermath of World War II: it was all built in one big burst with no budget limits due to the war, but wasn't regularly updated after that, so that by the 1970s a lot of it was breaking down. Similarly, the TVA was built in the aftermath of the Multi-dimensional War, all in one big burst, but hasn't been regularly upgraded since then.

"Thanks for visiting the TVA! Don't hesitate to let us know how we're doin'!"


Video Example(s):

Alternative Title(s): Loki


Time Variance Authority

Miss Minutes Explains the Time Variance Authority and their duty to protect the sacred timeline.

How well does it match the trope?

5 (7 votes)

Example of:

Main / TimePolice

Media sources: