Loki ending explained: Who is "He Who Remains" and what that means for the MCU

Loki actor Tom Hiddleston and Sophia Di Martino in episode 6
(Image credit: Marvel Studios)

The Loki ending changes everything. The finale not only dropped a season’s worth of lore into our laps, but also helped set up what could – arguably – be a decade’s worth of Marvel movies and shows. That’s all thanks to one man. And we’re not even talking about Loki.

The final episode was so dense and so jam-packed with universe-altering events and moments that we thought it best to break down everything we’ve learned from the Loki ending. All the knock-on effects are explained below, as are the (possible) answers to any questions you might have. That also includes you-know-who becoming a Thanos-level threat. Or should that be threats, plural? This is… going to get confusing.

And, with Loki season 2 confirmed, we’ll even take a cursory glance at the status of all the major pieces on the board as the biggest, wildest chess game in MCU history gets underway in earnest.

MAJOR spoilers for the Loki finale follow, as well as speculation for what’s to come. You have been warned!

Who is He Who Remains? And where is Kang the Conqueror?

Loki He Who Remains Jonathan Majors

(Image credit: Marvel Studios)

Loki and Sylvie finally uncover who was behind the TVA: He Who Remains, played by Jonathan Majors. I know what you’re thinking – who? After all, it’s not a name that is likely to jump out to even the most ardent of Marvel fans, and most will have been expecting Kang the Conqueror given all the teases leading up to this point. But we’ll get to that.

In the comics, He Who Remains is the creator of the Time-Keepers and the final director of the TVA at the end of time.

In that sense, the MCU version closely aligns with the comic book version. But that’s where the similarities end. After all, it’s only a nickname given to the mysterious man by Miss Minutes. His real identity is much more sinister.

As He Who Remains explains, he (and infinite versions of him) existed in the 31st Century. What follows is an exposition dump that’s important to retrace as it’s likely going to be the touchstone for all the multiversal madness moving forward.

A Variant of He Who Remains was a scientist who discovered the existence of other universes. From there, he connected with other versions of himself (who had invariably learned the same thing) in other universes.

They shared resources – technology, knowledge – but other evil Variants of the scientist tried to conquer the multiple universes. This, in turn, caused a multiversal war.

The first Variant (which is heavily implied is He Who Remains) found Alioth and “weaponized” the beast to end the conflict and isolate what we now know as the “Sacred Timeline”.

He Who Remains, then, is the person who controls and maintains one isolated 'Sacred' timeline. Without him keeping things in check, timelines and universes can branch off, collide, and cause untold levels of chaos as Variants interact and worlds diverge. Unfortunately for He Who Remains (and the MCU), Sylvie kills him.

The impact is instantaneous. Behind He Who Remains’ Citadel at the End of Time, we can see the timelines branching off like never before. Other Variants of He Who Remains are now fair game to enter the MCU’s isolated timeline – and anywhere else for that matter.

One of those is Kang the Conqueror. The time travelling Marvel villain is now set up as a Variant of He Who Remains – and he’s made an immediate impact, showing up as a statue looming over the TVA in the final shot of the Loki finale.

Loki finale statue: What happened to the TVA?

Loki statue Kang the Conqueror

(Image credit: Marvel Studios)

Yep, that’s Kang in charge of the TVA. Don’t believe me? Marvel has just confirmed it. But let’s rewind a bit: what has happened to the TVA? And why doesn’t Owen Wilson’s Mobius recognize Loki?

That’s all because Loki was sent to another timeline, one where Kang rules the TVA. It could even be ‘our’ timeline, with Kang the Conqueror travelling back in time to take over the TVA. Either way, the end result is the same: Loki is burdened with the knowledge of He Who Remains – but no one else is.

Expect a more evil version of the TVA moving forward, with Kang in charge of pruning any threats that could endanger his dominion over time. He’s also going to be the Variant that appears down the line in Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania.

That all amounts to Marvel slyly introducing its next Thanos-level threat via the Loki ending. Kang, after all, wants to rule all of time. That makes the Mad Titan’s universe-halving schemes look like small potatoes. And don’t forget, Kang also likely has several Infinity Stones sitting at the bottom of a cabinet. This guy is about as powerful as they come, plus he’s bolstered with the ability to time travel and connect with other universes. He might not even be the only Kang running around, which is a scary thought.

Where did Judge Renslayer go?

Gugu Mbatha-Raw's Judge Ravonna Renslayer in Loki

(Image credit: Marvel Studios)

Gugu Mbatha-Raw’s Judge Ravonna Renslayer actually gets one of the more low-key departures in Marvel history. No death, no sacrifice, just a woman off in search of free will.

We discover at the beginning of the episode that the pen from Franklin D. Roosevelt High School was a reference to Renslayer’s old life as a principal of a high school. This Variant, though, has grander plans. She tells Mobius as she steps through a portal that she’s off "in search of free will."

The destination is abstract, but her future might not be. Marvel has actually already hinted that Renslayer is going to be a major deal moving forward in the multiverse.

"She wants to [find] who pulled the wool over her eyes. That's what she's going to go out in search of," Loki writer Michael Waldron tells Marvel's site. "She is a scary customer to be out there in the Multiverse. So we'll see what happens."

Watch this space.

What’s next for Sylvie?

Sylvie during the Loki finale

(Image credit: Marvel Studios)

Sylvie has, similarly, reached a crossroads. She killed He Who Remains and is now stuck in the Citadel at the End of Time. What next?

"What she does with [that sadness] is yet to be seen. It’s an interesting place to start another chapter," Sylvie actor Sophia Di Martino says in an interview on the official Marvel site.

That sounds very much like Sylvie will be working and plotting for a way forward. In case there was any doubt, this is very much not the end for the Loki Variant.

How the Loki finale sets up future Marvel movies and shows

Benedict Cumberbatch in Doctor Strange

(Image credit: Disney)

It’s no exaggeration to suggest Loki has set the stage for several years of multiverse-shaped stories in the MCU.

The act of killing He Who Remains has opened the door for the multiverse and, from there, different versions of Marvel’s heroes (and villains) are likely to collide and enter what was once known as He Who Remains’ Sacred Timeline.

First on the list is Spider-Man 3. We know Doctor Strange is appearing, which hints at the multiverse factoring into play (his sequel is called Multiverse of Madness, after all). It’s the rumors that will get everyone talking, though: Tobey Maguire and Andrew Garfield are reportedly returning as Spider-Man – and presumably pulled in from the multiverse. Could it be because of the Loki finale? At the very least, it’s likely to have a serious knock-on effect. You can’t just break time and not expect some seismic paradigm shifts.

Then, Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness is likely to pick up the baton for a spot of temporal and universal shenanigans. Scarlet Witch, too, is returning from WandaVision in that sequel.

Last time we saw her, she was studying the Darkhold and could hear the voices of her ‘children’, Tommy and Billy. Somewhere out there, there’s a universe where they probably exist – and can now be reached thanks to the events of the Loki ending. Wanda is likely going to do anything to meet them – and Doctor Strange might do anything to stop her. Irresistible force, meet immovable object.

But that’s all conjecture and speculation. Nothing has been confirmed in that regard. Kang the Conqueror, however, is coming to the MCU on the big screen in Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania in 2023. Previously, that had only been floated around in industry reports. Now, Marvel has confirmed it for the first time. Whatever Kang (or a version of Kang) does next, it’s clear that Ant-Man is going to get involved.

What could happen in Loki season 2?

Tom Hiddleston in Loki

(Image credit: Marvel/disney Plus)

Then, there’s Loki season 2. The premise of the original series was Loki getting pulled out of time to fix a mistake. Now, he might be the one looking to fix the ultimate mistake – and trying to topple Kang. 

But there are several people standing in his way, not least of which Owen Wilson’s Mobius, who clearly doesn’t recognize the God of Mischief. Loki, for a while, may have to play dumb and do Kang’s bidding as he prunes Variants across multiple timelines. Think Doctor Who mixed with Marvel’s long history of alternate versions of characters and you might, excitingly, be on the right track.

Marvel has also set up Renslayer and Sylvie as factors moving forward. They will each be on their own path to take down Kang and the TVA, while Jonathan Majors’ villain is likely to show up from time to time as he works towards his own unknown endgame.

But that’s a story for another day, another time, and possibly another universe entirely. One thing is for certain: the Loki finale has completely changed the Marvel Cinematic Universe. For the better? Only time will tell.

For a quick guide on Marvel's exciting new future, check out our guide to Marvel Phase 4.

Bradley Russell

I'm the Senior Entertainment Writer here at GamesRadar+, focusing on news, features, and interviews with some of the biggest names in film and TV. On-site, you'll find me marveling at Marvel and providing analysis and room temperature takes on the newest films, Star Wars and, of course, anime. Outside of GR, I love getting lost in a good 100-hour JRPG, Warzone, and kicking back on the (virtual) field with Football Manager. My work has also been featured in OPM, FourFourTwo, and Game Revolution.