On his quest to gather the Infinity Stones, Thanos admitted there was one cosmic being he never wanted to kill. In Thanos Quest by Marvel Comics, when the Mad Titan sought out the Time Stone, he admitted he didn’t wish to harm the Gardener, who possessed the gem, asking the Elder of the Universe to reconsider fighting him and just relenting and giving it to him instead. The Gardener refused, as Thanos killed him despite revealing he respected him and didn’t want to.
In Thanos Quest #1 by Jim Starlin, Ron Lim, John Beatty, Tom Vincent, and Ken Bruzenak from Marvel Comics, the titular villain went after the Elders of the Universe to gain each of the Infinity Stones as a precursor to snapping half of all life from existence. When he reached the Gardener, Thanos told him he admired his garden and respected him. However, after touring the garden, Thanos shared he needed the Time Stone to continue his mission. The Gardener said he wouldn’t give it up with a fight, as Thanos hoped he’d reconsider. Before killing him, Thanos told the cosmic being he wished him “no harm” and even apologized for his actions after his death.
Thanos Never Wanted To Kill The Gardener
Ultimately, Thanos’ encounter with the Gardener showed how much he respected the cosmic being, as it was never his desire to kill him. Compared to the other Elders of the Universe he sparred with, which included trapping the Grandmaster in one of his own games while taking the Mind Stone, using the Time Gem to transform the Runner to over 1,000,000 years old before stealing the Space Gem, and leaving the Champion floating and stranding in space, Thanos really didn’t want to kill the Gardener – but his mission forced his hand.
While Thanos wanted to gain Death’s love, he still appreciated life and the beauty the Gardener created and nurtured was something even the Mad Titan was impressed by. It’s partly why Thanos found peace on a farm after the events of The Infinity Gauntlet. The Gardener was one character Thanos never meant to kill, even trying to reason with the Elder of the Universe before taking his life. Considering Thanos’ many murders, it’s one of the rare times he preferred not to kill someone who had what he wanted – in this case, the Time Stone.
Thanos saw the Gardener as a cultured person he admired as what he’d accomplish with the Time Stone impressed him. But, with the Mad Titan’s quest so focused on attaining Death’s love by any means necessary, he believed he had to kill the Gardener even if he respected him and regretted doing so. It’s one of the few times Thanos didn’t immediately embrace his brutal nature and a moment he likely wasn’t proud of.