Loki stands with a microphone, with Mobius, B-15, Sylvie, Casey, and O.B. behind him.

What Is Marvel’s TVA? The Time Variance Authority, Explained

For all time. Always.

With Loki season 2 streaming on Disney+, the Time Variance Authority is back and weirder than ever. But what is the TVA, exactly? What goes on at that place? How has it changed between Loki season 1 and 2? Here’s what we know!

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What is the TVA? The TVA in Loki season 1

The TVA, a vast city that stretches on forever, filled with statues and futuristic buildings.
Disney+

At the beginning of Loki, Loki steals the tesseract and uses it to escape the Avengers. Thinking he’s free, Loki is surprised to see a door open out of thin air and armed soldiers come out. The soldiers, known as minute men, tell him he’s under arrest for crimes against the Sacred Timeline. Thus we meet the TVA.

As the sentient clock Miss Minutes explains in a Hannah-Barbara-inspired introductory cartoon, the TVA is charged with keeping all of existence confined to one single timeline, instead of branching into a multiverse. According to the TVA, the previous multiverse was nearly annihilated in a cataclysmic war, as each timeline destroyed the others in their bids for supremacy. With everything limited to one single time stream the TVA calls the Sacred Timeline, though, the universe is kept safe.

How does the TVA do it? In season 1 we learn that each time someone does something that veers from their predetermined course, they create a “nexus event,” which triggers the creation of a new timeline. The TVA prunes that timeline like a wayward tree branch, and puts the hapless offender, called a “variant,” on trial.

The TVA is ruled by a trio of beings called the Time Keepers. However, as we find out in Loki, not everything is as it seems.

What’s really going on at the TVA?

A robot with four arms and a round face made up of two square lights and a line.
Disney+

This section contains spoilers for Loki season 1.

In the final episodes of Loki, we get two major revelations about the TVA. First, variants don’t just get pruned after their trials (after all, that would make the trial itself pretty pointless—why not just prune them along with the rest of their timeline?). Instead, they get brainwashed into becoming TVA agents themselves. TVA employees think they were created by the Time Keepers, but in reality, they’re all variants, plucked from their timelines.

The second revelation is that the Time Keepers aren’t real at all. The TVA is actually controlled by a man called He Who Remains, who explains to Loki and Sylvie that it was his own variants who waged the war that almost destroyed the multiverse. He Who Remains created the TVA to prevent it from happening again.

The TVA in Loki season 2

In Loki season 2, He Who Remains is dead, the multiverse has been freed, and the TVA workers know that they’re variants. As B-15 wonders in season 1, what happens now?

In season 2, we learn that the TVA doesn’t just maintain the Sacred Timeline by pruning branches. According to Ouroboros (Ke Huy Quan), the TVA employs a huge device called the Temporal Loom to weave the strands of raw time into the Sacred Timeline. When the remaining TVA leaders realize that pruning realities is tantamount to genocide, they give the order to stop doing it. The problem, though, is that the newly branching multiverse threatens to overload the loom, trigger a meltdown, and destroy the TVA.

What will happen if the TVA is destroyed? It’s not clear, but Loki implies several times that it will destroy the multiverse, presumably by allowing the multiversal war to occur.

The TVA in the comics

In a comics panel, Mobius walks through a futuristic office environment with floating desk.
Marvel Comics

Like most things in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, the TVA in Loki is based on the TVA in the original comics. However, there are a few key differences. In the comics, the TVA doesn’t prune all variant timelines, although it has the power to delete realities. Instead, it keeps track of wayward time travelers, preventing them from damaging various timelines. He Who Remains controls the organization, but the Time Keepers are real. The TVA in Loki is a loose adaptation.

Where is the TVA located?

The TVA exists outside of space and time, from a vantage point where its agents can monitor the entire timeline and work for eons without aging or even needing to sleep.

In the comics, the TVA can be found in the Null-Time Zone. We don’t know where exactly the MCU’s TVA is, but a popular fan theory posits that it’s in the Quantum Realm, a microscopic universe with ties to one of He Who Remains’s alter egos, Kang the Conqueror.

The TVA sounds cool! Where can I catch it?

The TVA is an authoritarian, genocidal organization! They destroy entire realities! They eliminate free will for all sentient beings! But they do have a snappy aesthetic. You can find the TVA in Loki seasons 1 and 2, both streaming on Disney+. If that’s not enough TVA for you, rumor has it that the organization may play a role in the upcoming Deadpool 3.

(featured image: Marvel Entertainment)


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Author
Julia Glassman
Julia Glassman (she/her) holds an MFA from the Iowa Writers' Workshop, and has been covering feminism and media since 2007. As a staff writer for The Mary Sue, Julia covers Marvel movies, folk horror, sci fi and fantasy, film and TV, comics, and all things witchy. Under the pen name Asa West, she's the author of the popular zine 'Five Principles of Green Witchcraft' (Gods & Radicals Press). You can check out more of her writing at <a href="https://juliaglassman.carrd.co/">https://juliaglassman.carrd.co/.</a>