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The Most Terrible Things Doctor Strange Has Ever Done

Doctor Strange has been one of the most fascinating characters in Marvel Comics ever since he exploded onto the scene in the pages of "Strange Tales" #110 in 1963. Conceived by legendary comic book creators Stan Lee and Steve Ditko, the character starts out as Dr. Stephen Strange, a brilliant but arrogant surgeon who only cares about his reputation and wealth. His medical career ends abruptly when a car crash severely damages his prized hands, leaving him unfit to perform surgery ever again. 

Desperately in search of a cure for his broken hands, Strange travels to the Himalayas to find a hermit called the Ancient One, said to have magical abilities. Strange becomes an apprentice of the Ancient One, gradually deviates from his selfish quest to resume his work as a surgeon, and becomes a master of the mystic arts to protect the world from otherworldly threats.

While never quite as popular as other Marvel characters like Spider-Man, the Avengers, or the X-Men, Doctor Strange has always endured throughout his numerous solo and team-up series over the years. The character's notoriety bounced up to household name status in 2016 upon the release of the Marvel Studios film, "Doctor Strange." Perfectly portrayed by Benedict Cumberbatch, the character has appeared in numerous other beloved Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) films released in the years since, with "Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness" on deck for release in May of 2022. 

Doctor Strange — both the comics and film versions — may have largely left his egotism in the past, but he's definitely done some pretty terrible things on the page and on the big screen.

He caused the car accident that ruined his hands

In 2016's "Doctor Strange," Stephen Strange invites his ex-girlfriend Dr. Christine Palmer (Rachel McAdams) to a speech he's going to give later that evening at a Neurological Society dinner. However, Palmer refuses to attend, saying that she never enjoys these events, as they are always about him.

Rejection does nothing to diminish Strange's ego. He spruces himself up with a swanky tux and an expensive watch, and hits the road. While driving around town without a care for any of the speed limit signs or right of way rules, Strange receives a call from a colleague about potential patients to operate on. Our eventual hero casually turns down subjects he believes aren't worth his time or talent, until a patient with an electronic implant in her brain designed to manage her schizophrenia piques his interest. As he glances down at her X-rays sent by his colleague, Strange loses control of his speeding car and drives off a cliff into a river. 

Especially for such a supposedly brilliant intellect, this was a phenomenally stupid thing to do. Strange is extremely lucky he didn't kill anybody in that accident. You don't need a doctorate to know not to look at complex X-rays while driving.

He's a jerk to Christine when she tries to be there for him

After his fateful car accident in "Doctor Strange," Stephen Strange is hospitalized with numerous severe injuries, particularly in his hands, which are damaged so badly that his career as a surgeon appears to be over. Strange is so desperate to restore his hands that he undergoes numerous experimental surgical and rehabilitation procedures, but none of them are successful. This leaves Strange in a state of deep despair; his hands were what made him so famous and respected.

Christine Palmer, familiar with Strange's arrogance due to their erstwhile period of romantic involvement, attempts to cheer him up and be there for him in his difficult time. While visiting him in his apartment, she suggests that he give up his search for a miracle cure and find something else to live for. Strange rejects her advice, and angrily reasserts that becoming a surgeon again is the only thing that matters to him, completely disregarding her patience and sympathy. Hurt by his selfishness and mania, Christine leaves.

While the two are no longer dating, Christine has proven herself to be one of the only people in Strange's life who sees past his arrogance and recognizes the good in him. At this point in his story, Strange is too self-absorbed to see how much she cares about him.

Tony Stark talks Strange into 'bringing the fight' — and the Time Stone — to Thanos

Released in 2018, "Avengers: Infinity War" sees Thanos' Black Order show up on Earth to take the Time Stone, which is in Doctor Strange's possession upon their arrival. Ebony Maw attempts to pull the gem out of Strange's necklace, but Strange has a spell set up to prevent access to the Time Stone for anyone aside from himself. To get around this, Maw captures Strange and takes him to Thanos' ship. 

At the ship, Maw tries to torture Strange into giving up the powerful shiny rock, but Strange resists. Luckily, Iron Man and Spider-Man manage to sneak into the ship, shoot Maw into space, and rescue Strange.

Strange and Stark, unfortunately, are two of the most arrogant heroes on Earth, so naturally they don't agree about their next steps. Strange believes that they should head back to Earth and regroup with the other heroes, whereas Stark believes that they should take the fight to Thanos himself while they have the element of surprise. Strange reluctantly agrees. 

Of course, anyone who's seen "Avengers: Infinity War," knows the battle on Titan does not end well. Even with the combined forces of the Guardians of the Galaxy, the good guys aren't enough to wrench the Infinity Gauntlet away from Thanos, or stop him from ultimately snapping away half of all life in the universe.

Was Strange correct in thinking heading back to Earth was a better idea? We'll never know, because he went along with Stark's plan that resulted in terrible tragedy.

His spell in 'Spider-Man: No Way Home' is extremely stupid

Following the events of 2019's "Spider-Man: Far from Home," Peter Parker (Tom Holland) suddenly has to deal with the fact that everyone knows he's Spider-Man. This new status quo has completely upturned not only his life, but the lives of those closest to him.

Desperate for a solution in 2021's "Spider-Man: No Way Home," Peter turns to Doctor Strange, who proposes conducting a spell that would make everyone forget Peter Parker and Spider-Man are the same guy. Wong (Benedict Wong) warns Strange that this is a dangerous spell, but Strange assures him that he can handle it. However, considering Strange is agreeing to conduct a spell on behalf of a teenager with limited experience in thinking things through, perhaps he should've taken Wong's advice. 

In the middle of the spell, Peter remembers there are a few people in his life who he wants to be excluded from the spell and continue to remember that he's Spider-Man. This throws off Strange's concentration. The confusion results in a broken spell that doesn't make anyone forget who Spider-Man really is, but does bring everyone who knows Spider-Man's real identity from other universes – including some incredibly dangerous villains — into the MCU timeline.

Strange agrees to help Parker because he genuinely feels bad for him, and trusts him due to their experience saving the world together. Still, this spell clearly needed more consideration.

Some journalists called him a charlatan, so Strange banished them to hell

Just like his portrayal in the MCU, the comic book version of Doctor Strange can be an arrogant, petty guy now and again. He didn't truly start to learn humility until he had been acquainted with the mystic arts for a good while.

A perfect example of just how much of a jerk Strange can be unfolds in "Strange Tales" #129 from 1965. A talk show offers Strange the opportunity to appear on the air and discuss whether magic is real. Instead of arriving in person with evidence of the mystical, Strange sends an ancient relic for a panel of journalists to examine. The relic transports them to a monstrous plane of existence ruled by an evil wizard named Tiboro. After he's gotten his jollies, Strange arrives to defeat Tiboro and bring the journalists back to reality.

This was a particularly nasty prank. All Strange needed to do to prove magic exists was show up at the TV station, pull a few rabbits out of a hat, and call it day. Better yet, he could have refused to go on the show at all, and simply let mankind believe that magic doesn't exist while keeping the world safe from magical threats, like a true hero.

We'll give Strange a few points for wiping the journalists' memories of their traumatic trip, but this was still a mean-spirited thing to do.

He taught Doctor Doom magic

In the 1989 graphic novel, "Doctor Strange & Doctor Doom: Triumph and Torment," the Aged Genghis — an elderly sorcerer who sometimes pops up in Doctor Strange stories — oversees a magic contest in which many of Earth's strongest mystics participate. Among others, these contenders include Strange and Doctor Doom, one of the Fantastic Four's oldest enemies. 

Strange comes in first; Doom comes in second. However, as per the rules laid out by the Aged Genghis, whoever wins the tournament must perform a favor to the runner-up. Doom already has a favor in mind — Strange must help Doom rescue his mother's soul, which is trapped in hell with Mephisto. 

In order to fulfil this obligation, Strange must train Doom to get his mystical skills on a level where he can put up a proper fight against Mephisto, essentially making an already-powerful villain even more dangerous. This extremely odd couple make their way to Mephisto's domain, and while the malevolent demon gives them hell (figuratively and literally), the two Doctors ultimately succeed.

Strange didn't have much choice in this matter. Breaking the competition rules would've led to considerable chaos. While Doom's quest is largely driven by honor and compassion, Strange still should've found a way to live up to his side of the bargain without letting Doom in on any magical secrets. In the years following the events depicted in "Triumph and Torment," Doom has used the magic he learned from Strange to plague the Marvel Universe.

He's a member of a planet-killing secret society

Throughout an era of comics, Doctor Strange is part of a clandestine society of superheroes, in which each member represents a different group or population. This self-described "Illuminati" meet and exchange information for keeping the world safe. Other members include Black Bolt of the Inhumans, Reed Richards of the Fantastic Four, and Iron Man of the Avengers. While the Illuminati are on the side of the good, they've made some morally questionable decisions.

One of those is depicted in writer Jonathan Hickman's "New Avengers" series, which began its run in 2013. In the story, Doctor Strange and the Illuminati contend with "incursions" — incidences of Earths from alternate universes colliding and destroying each other. The team fends off the first incursion into their Earth with the Infinity Gauntlet, but almost all of the Infinity Stones are destroyed in the process. The group is left at a loss for any means of preventing future incursions. 

They decide that the only option at their disposal is to destroy any planet that's on its way to an incursion with their own. Mister Fantastic and Iron Man develop a high-tech planet-destroying weapon, while Doctor Strange does his part by exploring dark and forbidden magic — not to save these other planets, but to end them.

While it's important to recognize that Doctor Strange and the Illuminati had an extremely short amount of time to save their Earth, surely the most brilliant minds in the Marvel Universe could've found a more humane way to go about it.

His secret society voted Hulk off the island ... of Earth

After the Hulk goes on a rampage in Las Vegas that leaves massive damage and many dead in its wake, S.H.I.E.L.D. Director Maria Hill turns to Iron Man for a solution to the green giant's routine blowups. Iron Man presents Doctor Strange and the rest of the Illuminati with the idea of launching the Hulk into space; specifically, so he can live on an apparently deserted planet. Everyone agrees except Namor, who believes the group is in no position to simply banish a fellow hero to space. Namor argues that they should focus on curing Bruce Banner of his condition instead, and warns that if the Hulk is shot into space against his will, he'll inevitably come back to Earth to get revenge. Despite Namor's protest, Strange and the Illuminati trick Banner into entering a ship, and launch him on a journey into the cosmos.

Are we to believe that Strange, for all his abilities, couldn't conceive of a better way to prevent the Hulk from killing innocents? Not only is this plan morally questionable, but it doesn't even work. Just as Namor predicts, it's payback time when Hulk returns to Earth in the 2007 event, "World War Hulk." 

He cherry-picked memories out of Captain America's brain

Steve Rogers has never been considered a brainiac — at least not compared to the likes of Reed Richards. Nevertheless, his terrific tactical abilities and strong moral compass initially makes him a valuable addition to the Illuminati, as depicted in Jonathan Hickman's "New Avengers" series.

However, it isn't long before Captain America's integrity gets him ousted from the Illuminati and subjected to a memory purge courtesy of Doctor Strange. 

After the team stops the first incursion from obliterating Earth, they conclude that more incursions are imminent, and that the only way to save their planet is by destroying the other planets on track to collide with their own. Cap, as you might expect, refuses to go down such a morally gray path, believing that destroying planets is what supervillains do. Because the Illuminati recognize Cap will never go along with their plans, Doctor Strange wipes his memories of the group, along with any knowledge of their existence.

It's bad enough that Strange is an accomplice in such a diabolical scheme; ignoring and erasing the memory of the one person who believes in a better way is especially terrible.

Strange resorted to using demonic energies against the Hulk

Following his banishment by the Illuminati, Hulk returns to Earth from the distant planet Sakaar, stronger than ever. Once he arrives on Earth, Hulk beats up many heroes to exact revenge for what the Illuminati did to him.

When the Hulk turns his sights on Doctor Strange, the Sorcerer Supreme — who knows he can't compete with the green giant's brute strength — employs forbidden magic to merge with his old enemy Zom. Unfortunately for the master of the mystic arts, Hulk makes the Strange-Zom hybrid look like a pushover, and Zom is so frightened that he rushes out of Strange's body to return to his own realm, where it's safe.

During this period in the comics, Strange isn't the most principled superhero in the Marvel Universe. Fusing with a longtime nemesis like Zom is an incredibly reckless move and, like the original plan of exiling Hulk to space, doesn't even pan out. 

However, Strange deserves some credit. Following his fiasco with the Hulk (as well as some other troubling choices he's made by that point),  Strange gives up the title of Sorcerer Supreme to Brother Voodoo, as seen in "New Avengers" #54.