11 Things That Make Absolutely No Sense In Loki

The first season of "Loki" is an intricate time travel tap dance, with everyone swaying to the tune of He Who Remains. But even with its deft plotting, smooth continuity, and lots of exposition (thank you, Jonathan Majors), "Loki" Season 1 left viewers with several questions.

While the meat of "Loki" is absolutely sound, a few details don't add up without doing some mental gymnastics. Some of these conundrums could be easily explained in Season 2, or in a future Marvel project (looking directly at you, "Dr. Strange in the Multiverse of Madness"), but for now there's just not enough on screen to provide a definitive answer. For answers, we look to the time-tested tradition of the Marvel No-Prize, an honor awarded in the comic books' letters column when a reader could explain away a continuity error (with, hopefully, a reason more compelling and interesting than "He Who Remains arranged it that way").

Settle in as we explore the "Loki" timeline and hand out a few No-Prizes of our own — these are the "Loki" details that leave more questions than answers.

All the TVA agents are human

If the TVA is responsible for policing all of time and space, it stands to reason that there should not only be more non-human variants lurking in the background, but non-human TVA agents as well.

Because the majority of the action in "Loki" takes place on Earth (or on planets inhabited by humanoid off-worlders), it is possible that we're seeing a section of the TVA designed specifically to deal with Earth and Earth-like civilizations. The TVA isn't concerned with its agents' anachronistic dress, understanding that most bystanders will stare with confusion at futuristic SWAT gear, but will withhold comments (unless the TVA shows up at a Renaissance Faire). Green and blue skin and extra appendages, though? Make way for some alarm.

From a tactical standpoint, it makes sense that TVA agents would be sent to deal with infractions where their species will blend in. But why aren't there also Kree or Titan or vampire TVA agents in the background? After all, Mobius says they've brought in all these different species in the past. Sadly, Earthlings, the No-Prize answer may lie in the fact that all TVA agents are mind-wiped variants. Maybe human minds are just easier to control than those of our alien brethren.

Few of the Loki variants in the Void look like Tom Hiddleston

While the variety of Loki variants in the Void is delightful and refreshing, it also defies some of the logic of how things work.

Put aside the fact that Loki is a shapeshifter, and recall that Loki tends to default to one form (ie, Tom Hiddleston). The purpose of the TVA is to create a singular timeline that always leads to the same events. Assuming variations in Loki's appearance are indicators of how far the timeline has diverged, the variants closest to the Sacred Timeline would look like Tom Hiddleston's Loki. Those versions would essentially be "younger," having been pruned more recently, and thus would have spent less time in the Void, and would be less likely to have been consumed by Alioth. Therefore, variations of Tom Hiddleston's Loki should outnumber the other versions — but most of the variants look nothing like him.

One explanation for why a greater variety of Lokis exist in the Void than you'd expect could be that the "superior" Loki isn't the Tom Hiddleston flavor. Perhaps the older versions are more robust and more resilient, and they've been able to outmaneuver Alioth for longer, while the versions closer to the MCU's Loki Laufeyson succumbed faster to the smoke monster. He Who Remains has been slowly whittling Loki into a supporting character, so perhaps it's the leading Lokis who have been able to survive the Void.

He Who Remains didn't tell the TVA where to find Sylvie

As arbiter of the Sacred Timeline and author of the MCU, He Who Remains should have been able to direct the TVA to Sylvie's exact location. He has a script of his encounter with Loki and Sylvie in the Citadel at the End of Time, thus proving his omniscience, so why didn't he tell the TVA where to track down the timeline-bombing variant?

On one hand, it could be as simple as He Who Remains biding his time. His one strength (aside from being a conqueror of Kangs) is that He Who Remains' million lives granted him great patience. Sylvie must have hidden in apocalypses for hundreds of years, given her assertion that she was pruned before our Loki even existed. Being able to look at the whole plan, Kang may have immediately identified Sylvie as a possible successor to his throne, and thus withheld information from the TVA to ensure that she had time to develop into a credible threat.

On the other hand, perhaps the apocalypses really did hide Sylvie — not just from the TVA's instruments, but from He Who Remains as well. With the Sacred Timeline in flux, constantly being sculpted and formed and restrained, he might not have known where Sylvie was hiding until Loki made the discovery. He Who Remains specifies that he knows what happened between the two variants on Lamentis-1, but he doesn't mention any of the other apocalypses, so we don't know how far his omniscience really extends.

Old Steve Rogers's face got pruned instead of his existence

"Loki" director Kate Herron theorized in an interview with The Direct that the TVA likely pruned Peggy Carter and Steve Rogers after Steve decided to remain in the past. While this makes sense within the context of "Loki," how was Old Steve able to pass the shield on to Sam Wilson?

While this is really something that already makes no sense in "Endgame," it makes even less sense given the world-building introduced in "Loki." Whether Old Steve reunited with his wartime honey and lived an entire second life in the same timeline (the Christopher Markus and Stephen McFeely theory) or in an alternate timeline (the Joe and Anthony Russo theory), it's far from neat and tidy.

Assuming that's actually Steve Rogers at the end of "Endgame" (oh no, what can of worms have I opened?), the one way this makes sense is if Steve Rogers was allowed (by Kang) to live in a branched timeline specifically to let him become old and powerless so that he would not be around to protect the MCU. While this may not bode well for the future, it fits the assertion that everything in the Sacred Timeline is going according to Kang's grand plan.

How does resetting the timeline actually work?

The specifics of how a branch is clipped are clear: The energy from a prune stick or a reset charge shifts all matter it touches to the Void, where it will be consumed by Alioth. How pruning resets the timeline, though, is more of a mystery.

During his first mission with Loki, Mobius explains that the TVA deals with Nexus events in real time. When agents arrive, they arrest the offender and eliminate all the consequences of the variant's actions in linear time. The TVA may do a lot of unfair things, but they're not pulling a "Minority Report" on the Sacred Timeline, arresting criminals before the crime occurs. However, Mobius never articulates how the timeline is reset. Loki quotes the TVA handbook, explaining that pruning the branch allows "time to heal all its wounds." That is a very handwavy statement that doesn't make much sense, especially when so much else about the TVA is precisely defined.

Even a No-Prize answer begets questions. Maybe the reset charges extend backward in time and remove the offending event. But then, what stops the variant from making the same choice again? Does the TVA keep pruning the same event until chaos makes the variant choose "correctly?" What about events that impact multiple locations — like Loki stealing the Tesseract in New York and teleporting to the Gobi Desert? Are teams dispatched to both settings? And how exactly does healing that specific event work?

He Who Remains is responsible for turning variants into TVA agents

The TVA agents are all variants, plucked from the Sacred Timeline and reprogrammed to believe they were created by the Time Keepers. While He Who Remains may have started with hands-on manipulation of the timeline, it's been a long time since he's been directly involved, instead working through the Time Keeper puppets and chilling in his citadel at the End of Time.

The sheer size of the TVA would require some assistance in selecting, mind-wiping, and reprogramming the scores of Minute Men employed at the TVA. And while the mind-wipe goes deeper than what Hydra did to Bucky Barnes as the Winter Soldier, or even the mind control Loki achieved with the Mind Stone, Sylvie was able to break it using enchantments. Given that the mind-wipes are impermanent, someone at the TVA must be in the know, reporting to the Time Keepers or taking care of infractions on their own.

It's possible that He Who Remains was counting on his true believers' blind loyalty, but Judge Renslayer shows how even the most faithful TVA agents respond when shown the truth. When Ravonna Renslayer questioned C-20, the Hunter who remembered that she had a life on the Sacred Timeline, Renslayer was shocked. Her mission shifted from apprehending Sylvie to finding who lied to her about the TVA — and about herself. He Who Remains might play fast and loose with the Time Keepers, but it's hard to believe that he didn't plan for this inevitability.

The Nexus event on Lamentis-1 is a bootstrap paradox

Sylvie Laufeydottir has had a rough life. Because her timeline has been pruned, her very existence is a Nexus event, sending up a smoke flare every time she sets foot outside of an apocalypse. Apocalypses are safe because, if the world is about to end, there's nothing she can do to affect the Sacred Timeline, so it masks her presence. That's why the Nexus event on Lamentis-1 is so striking — and why it might be a bootstrap paradox.

A bootstrap paradox is when a time loop is created for which there is no definable origin — each event in the loop causes the other. The Nexus event on Lamentis-1 can only affect the timeline if the TVA saves Loki and Sylvie. But the Nexus event is what alerts the TVA to where Loki and Sylvie are. So, the TVA can't save them until the Nexus event registers, but the Nexus event can't register until the TVA can save them.

It's possible that Mobius is right and that two variants of the same person falling for each other can break reality so completely that it registers as a Nexus event even during an apocalypse, but that's not really what the TVA monitors. And if Loki and Sylvie falling for each other could break reality in the same way that killing He Who Remains does, why reveal the man behind the curtain instead of giving the two lovebirds a minute to catch their breath and sort out their feelings? Both paths lead back to the multiverse — and one includes much less stabbing.

Loki wasn't "supposed" to steal the Tesseract

During Loki's trial in Episode 1, Judge Renslayer decrees that the Avengers were supposed to go back in time to retrieve the Infinity Stones, but that Loki was not supposed to escape. However, if everything the Avengers do is Sacred Timeline canon, Loki has to steal the Tesseract, forcing Tony Stark and Steve Rogers to improvise their jaunt to New Jersey, 1970. Pruning Loki — correcting the timeline after his escape — potentially erases the Avengers' need to go to 1970 and creates a grandfather paradox, eliminating the event that caused future events (which, of course, is even more confusing, because those future narrative events actually take place in the past; ugh, time travel!).

Loki is actually an unwitting curator of the Sacred Timeline in 2012, sending Steve Rogers into a past where he crosses paths with Peggy Carter, reminding him of how long it's been since he's been with her. Stealing the Tesseract sets up Steve as a time fugitive who stays in the past, getting Steve Rogers out of the way when Kang ascends to power. Remember, the Sacred Timeline has been organized and maintained by He Who Remains, who has grown tired of his "benevolent" ways and has set up a world ripe for his variants to ascend to power. Putting Captain America out commission (as well as Iron Man, whose death was required to defeat Thanos) is all part of Kang's plan — which also means that Loki was supposed to steal the Tesseract, and that his arrest by the TVA is just another manipulation.

The printout of everything Loki has ever said is too short

Regardless of his penchant for speechifying and grandstanding, Loki is over 1,000 years old. Unless he spent a few hundred years under a vow of silence, that stack of paper is much too short to be a record of everything he's ever said.

Math warning! Loki said roughly 1,000 words with just 20 minutes of screen time in "Thor." Even if every page was filled with things Loki said without any context, an average single-spaced page contains about 500 words (disregarding that the printout clearly contains a header and timestamp, taking up more space per page). 1,000 pages allows for about 500,000 words, which would only account for 25,000 minutes, or 417 hours, of Loki's life. Which, as Mobius can attest, is much less time than Loki normally talky-talks.

If we have to No-Prize an explanation for this short stack, we can assume the TVA, with the ability to time travel, also has the power of microprinting and can fit thousands of words on a page (and that the final pages printed on-the-spot are not standard size), or that the TVA has a method of condensing materials so that a stack several thousand pages high appears in a more manageable form. Either way, no on-screen confirmation means that this small stack of paper doesn't currently make sense.

The TVA is on a new timeline at the end of Season 1, even though the TVA exists outside of time

Admittedly, the TVA is built on lies, so it's difficult to know how something works when any information could be false. But the fact that "time works differently" at the TVA, and that Renslayer and Mobius have been friends for eons, means that something about the TVA functions outside the normal flow of time (Earthlings just don't live that long). So, it's hard to figure out how the TVA both exists outside of time and is changed enough at the end of Season 1 that Mobius doesn't recognize Loki.

While a new Kang could've founded a different TVA and given them a different function, different procedures, and a different trajectory, including one that may not have crossed paths with Loki, the most compelling explanation is found in some sleight of hand.

Since the timeline began branching before Sylvie pushed Loki through the time door, Loki may have arrived in a different branch, not the MCU's main timeline (which is Earth-199999, if you're keeping track). After the timeline irrevocably branches, the show cuts to Mobius and Hunter B-15 standing before the Sacred Timeline monitors. A brief exchange shows that they're determined to live within the new chaos. In the next scene, Loki finds Mobius and B-15 in the archives. While they might have had time to change locations, why would they? The easiest explanation: This TVA is not the TVA where Loki started. The first scene is set on Earth-199999, and the second scene is ... somewhere else.

The TVA has trials for Sacred Timeline offenders

Each time a variant is arrested for crimes against the Sacred Timeline, they are dressed in a variant uniform, confirm a record of everything they've ever said, and have their temporal aura registered. After winding their way through a stanchion-lined room, they stand trial before a judge who inexplicably asks how they plead. While the only trial shown in Season 1 is Loki's, and that trial is interrupted, the evidence indicates that all crimes against the Sacred Timeline end in pruning.

Upon arrest, the branching timeline is obliterated, so even if the variants succeed in defending themselves, there's no timeline for them to return to. Therefore, all arrested variants must be pruned (we know they're not working for the TVA, because otherwise it would be common knowledge that at least some TVA agents are variants). The TVA is absolutely a bureaucracy for the sake of bureaucracy, but it's a little surprising that they have trials at all given propaganda posters like the one B-15 reviews in Episode 4: "Did you get them all? Verify through deletion." With so many agents willing to prune any and all offenders, why bother with the song and dance?

We're struggling to come up with a logical reason for all the paperwork, so just remember, anything that doesn't make sense in the MCU can now be explained by a simple sentence: It's been Kang all along.