When Thanatos first appears to help Zagreus in his battle to escape the Underworld, he readily helps him to beat that chamber. In the conversation afterward, however, he appears to be hurt by Zagreus leaving and trying to escape the Underworld without giving a single word to him.
In defense of Zagreus, Thanatos had been away for a long time, and nobody was quite sure when he would get back. In support of Thanatos, however, that’s just not cool, Zag.
He could have left a note or something. Even still, Zagreus slowly makes it up to Thanatos, and the two have the chance to have a closer relationship than ever.
If you’re having a hard time getting to that point, however, this guide with assuredly help you get there and even help you understand just who Death Incarnate is along the way.
Warning: This Thanatos Hades guide contains some spoilers for Hades.
Flashes before Your Eyes
Thanatos, lovingly nicknamed “Than” by Zagreus, is the biological child of Nyx and the older twin brother of Hypnos, the Embodiment of Sleep. Charon, the boatman of the river Styx, is his older brother. Chaos is his grandparent, though Thanatos never has any direct interaction with them in-game.
He’s childhood friends with Zagreus, and depending on how you play the game, he can be a potential lover too. After meeting him for the first time, he can occasionally appear in the chambers and compete with you for the most kills.
He can come off as aloof and solemn, but he is not used to interacting with the living. He tends to show his care through his actions. He does not have a close relationship with many inside of the House of Hades or outside of it. He is closest to Nyx, Hypnos, Zagreus, and Megaera.
Death Incarnate: Details
Thanatos wields a large scythe with a blinking eye, similar to the Chthonic Keys. At his side is holstered a smaller sword, also adorned with a similar eye at the hilt. He wears a black, draping chiton with gold accents, the extra fabric thrown over his shoulder. Underneath, Thanatos keeps it simple with black pants. He wears a golden mantle with wings off to the right side.
Similar to Zagreus, Thanatos wears shin guards with skulls at the knees, though to keep with his aesthetic, Than’s are gold. He also wears a golden bracer on his left hand with a full gauntlet, complete with another skull on the back of his hand, on the right. He keeps his white hair short and always wears the hood that is seemingly attached to his mantle.
Thanatos can be rather stoic and solemn in his demeanor, though he is persistently worried about his place in the House of Hades and continuing to hold his position. Regardless, he has a soft spot for Zagreus and continues to help him, damned any consequences (even if he never experiences any in-game).
He has a difficult time expressing affection or care and can come off as harsher than intended, though throughout the game, you learn that Thanatos shows how he cares for those around him through his actions instead.
His job title and position in the House of Hades is as Death Incarnate. Thanatos arguably takes his job far more seriously than everyone else, Nyx and Achilles aside. Thanatos is often away for longer stints of time in the mortal realm, though he has made it clear to Zagreus that he does not enjoy being on the surface (mostly because of the sun).
When you start the game, Thanatos is currently away in the mortal realm to fulfill his duties as death incarnate. As Hypnos and Zagreus speculate, this is probably because of a long and ongoing war between the mortals.
Thanatos is officially described as Zagreus’s childhood friend and seems to be closer to him than other members of the House (seconded only by Nyx). He will make some comments throughout the game about having met Persephone prior to her return to the House. This technically implies that Thanatos is older than Zagreus or at the very least, has encountered her on the surface.
Caring under the Guise of Competition
Unlike his older brother, Charon, you will never actually fight Thanatos. Instead, you can battle alongside him and compete for the most kills. In this battle, Thanatos has a few signature moves that can easily decimate Zag’s kill count if you aren’t careful. So long as you can match or exceed his kill count, however, Than will give you a Centaur Heart at the end of the battle.
There are only a handful of moves that Thanatos can do, but they are incredibly strong, dealing 9999 damage. These moves instantly kill anyone he has marked. If you are in Elysium, it will even kill the little eye souls that pop out of some of the enemies. The two moves he has are An Area of Effect Move and the Marked move.
With the AoE move, Thanatos creates a very large purple circle on the ground. Any foes caught in that circle when it triggers after a delay are instantly killed.
With the Marked move, a floating purple scythe symbol appears above the chosen enemy’s head, and after another brief delay, it will instantly kill them.
If you are trying to beat Thanatos refer to the following point system. Everything counts as one point unless otherwise stated.
If a Flame-Wheel self-destructs, it will not give you or Than any points.
Exalted Warriors give two points, but you have to kill both of their forms in order to get both points. Fortunately for you, however, if Thanatos kills one, he only gets one point (because it doesn’t spawn their eyeball soul).
Loving the Personification of Death
Like most characters in the House of Hades, you can give Thanatos gifts, and in turn, he will occasionally return the favor. Upon the first gift, he will give you a Keepsake, and upon giving him his first Ambrosia, you will get a Companion – an amazing gift that only a few Hades characters will give you.
The Pierced Butterfly
The Pierced Butterfly is the first of two gifts that you can get from Thanatos. This Keepsake allows you to deal more damage for each EEncounteryou clear without taking any damage. At one star, it gives +1%; at two stars, +1.5%; and at three stars, +2%. To get this Keepsake, you need to give Thanatos nectar for the first time.
The second gift you can get from Than is a Companion: Mort.
You can use Mort during a battle to help you. He will deal 3500 damage in an AoE after a brief delay, similar to when you fight alongside him. Mort can only be used once per Encounter and up to five times if fully upgraded with Ambrosia. If you get the Night Spindle from the Well of Charon, you can use him slightly more than that.
Mort can’t be used if you’re outside of combat, if you’re currently in competition with Than, or if you’re fighting Hades. However, later on, Hades will let you use Companion Mort against him.
To get Companion Mort, you need to work up to the point where you have a high level of trust with Thanatos, have completed his favor, and subsequently gifted him an Ambrosia.
Such a Romantic
Once you’ve given Thanatos enough Nectar and Ambrosia, completed his favor, and completely leveled up his affinity level, you will eventually trigger a short cutscene. During this cutscene, he and Zag will discuss their relationship, and you can either back off (keep it as a friend) or go to him and start something more romantic. I haven’t been able to forcefully trigger the cut scene, so you’ll have to wait until it happens (which should be soon after maxing out his affinity level).
Be Extra Nice to Him
If you want to do something nice for Thanatos and upgrade the House of Hades a little bit at the same time, you can upgrade the balcony area and give him a little sitting area and a table filled with goodies.
Outside of upgrading his preferred area, you can beat Hades every time Thanatos helps you get through to avoid causing him undue anxiety about helping you, but that one is a bit harder to act on.
A Brush with Death
Thanatos cannot be found most of the time. Instead, it is completely up to him to find you or for random chance to take hold, and he just happens to be in the House of Hades when you get back from one of your runs. However, if you’ve just started your game and you’re waiting for Thanatos to make his first appearance, you’ll have to wait a bit.
On Death’s Doorstep
Thanatos will not make his first appearance until you you have met one of the Fury Sisters, Tisiphone or Alecto. After your hopefully fruitful meeting with either one of them, you need to make it all the way to Elysium’s third chamber in order to have a chance to encounter Thanatos for the very first time. It took almost ten hours of gameplay before I met him, and depending on how quickly you’re making it through your runs, and it could take far longer for you.
Ironically, He Prevents Death (Sometimes)
After meeting Thantaos for the first time, he can appear in any of the chambers unless you’re in the Temple of Styx. Than’s appearances are random chance and cannot be triggered by any specific event. His arrival will be signaled by the toll of a bell and the chamber turning green as he appears in a flash, accompanied by his theme song.
His appearances are dramatic and cannot be missed. It tends to be very difficult to die in the chambers he’s helping you with, considering that you could theoretically just run around and let him kill everything.
Death Is in Your House Now
After Thanatos appears in one of the chambers, there is a small chance that he can show up in the House of Hades afterward. If you’re trying to romance Thanatos, however, remember to save some nectar for him and plan on giving it to him more often in the chambers than you will ever be able to in the House. To find him in the House, all you need to do is dash over to the hall Achilles guards and head down to the balcony. Like others in the House, he prefers to remain in his chosen area while there.
Note: if you talk to Thanatos in the House, he will disappear shortly afterward.
If you have given Thanatos a nectar in the chambers and see him in the House directly after that run, you will not be able to give him another nectar.
Death Is Lonely
When Zagreus begins to grow closer to Than and starts a closer relationship with him, Nyx comments on how she is happy Zag is in her son’s life and how he tends to lead a very solitary life. As such, Thanatos doesn’t have many key relationships with others in the House.
Thanatos has a deep respect for his mother and defers to her when in need of advice or guidance. Nyx, in turn, shows respect for him and encourages him to do his best when he is at work as Death Incarnate.
Thanatos seems constantly worried that Hypnos is going to lose his job in the House. As such, he can come off as very cold, if not outright ignoring him. However, when Hypnos is very obviously at risk of losing his position as an attendant in the House, he begins to encourage him and find a way to help him parse through his work (mostly because he learns Hypnos loves to make lists, especially to organize his time).
After that, their relationship begins to improve quickly. Hypnos also clearly wants to spend much more time with his older twin brother.
- Thanatos: “Hypnos, really, that is the worst idea I think I’ve ever heard. Do you understand how little sense that makes?
- Hypnos: I’m just saying, maybe if you just, I don’t know, had all the mortals die at the same time, it’d save you a bunch of trips, and then we’d have more time to spend together, huh?
Concerning Magaera, Thanatos and her start off as work friends. The two bond over having been tricked previously by Sisyphus and their frustration (and unspoken fondness) for Zagreus. Megaera will later encourage Thanatos to confess his affection to Zagreus if you choose to have Zag pursue a relationship with him. If you also choose to pursue a relationship with Meg at the same time, all three will have a polyamorous relationship.
Read also: Complete Megaera Hades Guide.
No matter how seriously Thanatos takes his job, he has a soft spot for Zagreus and will take the time out of his busy schedule for him. During this time, he often challenges Zagreus to a shade-slay-off under the guise of actually helping him. If Zagreus dies during one of these competitions, he can make a comment that just seems like he’s exhausted, or it’ll be very snarky in a way on Thanatos can be.
He was initially hurt when Zag decided to leave the Underworld and didn’t tell him, but he continues to remain close to the son of Hades.
Master of Dry Humor and Snark
During an Encounter
Among my favorite quotes of what Than can say if you die during the Encounter with him we have:
“You’re dead, Zag.”
“You had this coming.”
“What did you expect.”
“What were you thinking?”
and “Let’s go home.”
Outside of Combat
Beyond that, he often makes snarky comments like: “Still running from yourself, I see. How’s that working out for you?”
Another favorite comment he makes after defeating Hades in a run where he helps you: “You took Lord Hades down… you really did. I’ve never seen him quite like this before. I could scarce believe it when he came up through the Pool of Styx, himself…”
When Zagreus first gives him nectar, he also seems embarrassed by it. “You want me to take that off your hands, fine. But you are taking this from me, and if anybody asks, we’re even. Or scratch that, don’t tell anyone about this, understand?”
Taken by the Styx
Thanatos is possibly one of my favorite characters in Hades. It is absolutely worth it to take the time to find him, and it is, honestly, completely understandable why it takes so long. He has a very time-intensive and work-intensive job. His work means a great deal to him, and he almost constantly seems concerned that Hades is going to fire him or that some other horrible event will happen.
Regardless, he is still so instant in helping Zagreus, and that speaks mountains of how much he cares for the son of Hades. He can seem aloof and almost off-putting when you first meet him, but for me and many others, he quickly became one of the most beloved characters in the series.
Question: Can you have a relationship with Thanatos?
Answer: Absolutely! It’ll take a fair bit of time and gameplay before you can get to that point, and you do have to wait for specific events to trigger (usually by random chance), but it is absolutely possible to have a relationship with Than.
Question: Is Thanatos stronger than Hades?
Answer: Probably not. Thanatos and Hades will never confront each other in combat outside of the times you use Companion Mort to summon Thanatos, so it’s hard to know for certain. Sure, Thanatos can one-shot Exalted Heros in Elysium, but so could Hades, theoretically. For all we know, Hades may also be taking it easy on Zagreus, even during the second phase of the final fight.
Outside of theorization, Hades is still Thanatos’s boss, and he who controls the strongest man in the world, is the most powerful man in the world.
Question: Are Hades and Thanatos related?
Answer: In the way that all Gods and Titans are related, sure. But directly? No, they are not. Thanatos is the son of Nyx, though, in real-world mythology, there are two ideas: He sprang from Nyx (and Nyx alone), or he is the son of Nyx and Erebus.
In-game, as references to Erebus are few and far between, we can probably assume his only parent is Nyx. The most Hades and Thanatos can have as a relationship in-game is as boss and employee.