- —Yao the Ancient One.[src]
Yao was born millennia ago, in the mystic city of Kamar-Taj, a village in the Himalayas area now known as Tibet. Originally, the youth was a peaceful farmer, like his fellow villagers. As a young man, he protected his village from unjust taxes disguised as the vigilante "Spirit Leopard". He later encountered an older villager named Kaluu. Kaluu shared with the youth his knowledge of magic, and they began exploring the secrets of sorcery together, even learning the secrets of immortality. Together they cast a spell that removed disease, poverty, and suffering from their village and granted its people immortality.
In 1350 A,D,, the Catholic Church made contact with Kamar Taj opening up communication. This lead to the reawakening of Varnae the Vampire who came to Kamar Taj and manipulated Kaluu. Yao wanted to continue to use his magic to help the village, but Kaluu wanted to build a vast empire, and organized the men of Kamar-Taj into an army by magically controlling their minds. Yao attempted to warn the village, but Kaluu used his magic to incapacitate the boy, paralyzing him and setting him on public display. Kaluu began his conquests, and the youth called upon mystical forces while in his paralytic state, ultimately banishing Kaluu to the dimension of Cyttorak. Kaluu's spell additionally revoked the immortality of Kamar-Taj, so Yao sought the Cup of Eternity and thus began aging at a greatly slowed rate.
A young Yao stole a map from the Knights of Never and magically imprinted it on his arm. He tried to escape their fortress, but was eventually caught, beaten, and imprisoned. His punishment for stealing the map was to rot in prison. However the wizard Merlin appeared and rescued the boy. He recruited the young mystic to join other Sorceror Supreme's throughout time to defeat the Forgotten.
Still young, Yao decided to seek out an order of ancient magic users known as the Ancient Ones in order to devote his entire life to their goal of combating evil sorcerers. The youth eventually became even more skilled than his colleagues, and grew in power so great that he was the first mortal of Earth to meet with Eternity, the sentient embodiment of the universe, who presented him with the Amulet of Agamotto and charged him to became the Earth dimension's Sorcerer Supreme. He would later face the extra-dimensional being known as Dormammu who set his eyes on the conquest of Earth.
In his travels, he collected mystical artifacts from across the globe. In 1367 A.D., Plan Chu sought out the aid of the Ancient One, who assisted in bringing the Atlas Foundation the dragon known as Mr. Lao, who was a long time adviser of the Khan Empire. While travelling on a ship to the west he stopped a "Siren" by transforming her into a complete being, "making her soul as beautiful as her physical form." Horrified by the destruction wrought by her actions, she forbade herself from speaking.
In the 15th century, he took on his first pupil; a young man seeking knowledge, who studied him for many years, until he was caught practicing a black rite. He banished him, but allowed him to live becoming a monstrous sorcerer known as Mr. Jip . Long ago, the Ancient One battled against the sorceress Morwen which resulted in her being banished from existence, leaving her soul trapped between dimensions. During his wanderings, Yao discovered the Temple of Cyttorak in Korea and battled the Demon Xorak the Outcast and bound him to the Crimson Gem of Cyttorak.  In 1666 A.D., while in London he succeeded in banishing Dormammu and shielding the Earth against his evil influence, but not before stating the "Great Fire of London".
In 1862, the Ancient One became annoyed by the works of famed naturalist Charles Darwin. After reading the Origin of Species, he brought Darwin to Kamar-Taj to teach him a lesson, that there was more to reality than his science, teleporting him to Earth-95019; a world ruled by monkeys & apes. The Ancient One later encountered the Black Rider when he visited New York City. They teamed up to stop a prostitution ring in Chinatown.
In 1937, Logan met the Ancient One and his young prodigy when they were trying to retieve a mystical box. They were being chased by Japanese soldiers, he defended the pair; allowing them to go about their mission.
Before the war, Heinrich Krowler influenced his grandson Baron Karl Mordo to seek out the Ancient One hoping to gain his knowledge. However the Ancient One realized his need for a successor and agreed to tutor Mordo. Although he recognized Mordo's evil ambitions in his mind, he decided that he could do his best convert Mordo to the service of good, or at least keep him in check. The Highway Man came to the Ancient One and then the Aged Genghis hoping to become immortal, they both rejected his request.
During World War II, the Ancient One encountered Captain America and Sgt. Nick Fury and joined forces to take out the Red Skull, who had stolen a mysterious secret weapon. But when the Nazi booby-triggered a gateway to the Dark Dimension, Cap and Fury found themselves face-to-face with a group of Mindless Ones.
Finding a Replacement
Based out of Kamar Taj, at the age of four, Wong was taken to Kamar Taj to begin his mystical training under the Ancient One. The first born of their family is taken to serve the master. He later met Dr. Anthony Druid. Posing as the High Lama, the Ancient One tested his abilities to pass on his powers to a successor by granting powers to Dr. Druid.  He later learned the truth that he was merely meant to serve as a test for the Ancient One's eventual passing of his powers to his true scuccesor. Daimon Hellstrom also came to the Ancient One to beg for tutelage but was denied as he was waiting for Strange who was destined to be Sorceror Supreme.
Some time later, Dr. Stephen Vincent Strange, M.D., a gifted but arrogant and somewhat amoral surgeon, suffered injuries to his hands in an automobile accident, which inflicted injuries on their network of nerves that prevented him from holding surgical tools with the complete steadiness that surgery requires of its practitioners. After squandering a multimillion-dollar fortune in vain efforts to restore his hands' pre-injury steadiness, the Ancient One in his astral form protected him when he ingested MGH forcing him to restart his heart. Strange later sought the services of the Ancient One for his own purposes.   But he soon found himself attempting to save the Ancient One from a plot that Mordo was attempting to execute. The Ancient One dismissed Mordo but explained that he had used this as a test for Strange, who agreed to stay as the Ancient One's new pupil.Strange trained with the Ancient One for many years teaching lessons and the sacrifice it takes to use magic. During this time Dormammu hapossessed a group of hikers on Mount Everest, and Strange performed his first demonic exorcism when challenged by Dormammu to shoot the body of the hiker he was possessing with a gun. After he completed his training left to set up his own residence at the Sanctum Sanctorum in New York, though he still relied on the Ancient One's guidance.
Dr. Nicodemus West followed Strange to Kamar-Taj, arriving only days after he had completed his mystical training and departed. Concerned that Strange may not rise to the challenge the Ancient One elected to begin training him in the mystic arts. However he only remained long enough to learn enough mystical healing and left to cure the world.
By the modern age of heroes, Doctor Strange had become a well-known mystic operating from his Sanctum in Greenwich Village. He occasionally required the help of the Ancient One as of one his earliest recorded cases was in assisting a corrupt businessman who was plagued by recurring nightmares. Strange soon discovered that the man was being haunted by the being known as Nightmare, ruler of the Dimension of Dreams and entered this dimension to fix it. Nightmare attempted to trap him there, leaving his physical body undefended while the man, afraid that the secret of his crimes had been found out, would try to kill Strange. The Ancient One sensed Strange calling out for his aid from Nightmare's dimension, and using Strange's amulet, transfixed the would-be murderer, saving his student. This allowed Strange time to escape and confront the man.
Baron Mordo soon resurfaced and used his powers to try and eliminate the Ancient One. Baron Mordo controlled the Ancient One's assistant to poison the Ancient One, sensing his master in trouble, Strange battled Mordo in his ectoplasmic form, preventing Mordo from ending the Ancient One's life.
He warned Strange of Mordo's return in the form of Sir Clive Bentley, but told his master he would handle it. He then trapped Strange in another dimension and tried to kill the Ancient one but this was all revealed to be a trick orchastrated by Strange himself prentending to be the Ancient One.
Some years after Strange had left Tibet, the Ancient One and Doctor Strange teamed up to combat the evil demon, Zom. In order to defeat Zom, the Ancient One made it appear as if Zom had killed him and seemed to transfer his magical ability into Strange. In actuality, the Ancient One activated the potential for further magical ability in Strange which had remained latent.
The Ancient One deliberately set a trap for Nightmare, using himself as bait, so that Strange would defeat him and regain his confidence. He helped Strange in the battle against the Sons of Satannish. While still in the form of Stephen Sanders he returned home only to find Mordo impersonationg him. The Ancient one used his powers to return Stephen to his true form.
Later still, the Ancient One was taken prisoner by the so-called Living Buddha and minor demons called the Shadowmen, all of which were serving the extradimensional demon Shuma-Gorath. The Ancient One was made to serve as a gateway for bringing the demon to Earth, but he retained enough power to make his own mind the only conduit through which Shuma-Gorath could travel. Knowing likewise that he had long outlived his own natural life expectancy, he prompted his disciple, Doctor Strange, to "kill" him by destroying the portion of his mind which constituted his ego, his sense of self, and thus to end his corporeal existence. This Doctor Strange did, even though he was racked by guilt over having had to do so; the death of Yao the Ancient One instantly freed his astral form and allowed him to will it to become one with the Universe, i.e. one with Eternity, which he immediately did. The Ancient One thus died in the Crypts of Kaa-U, in his native Tibet, where the bodies of all the deceased Sorcerers Supreme of the Earth continuum are interred, thereby preventing the rise of Shuma-Gorath. Once the Ancient One's spirit had unified with everything, he came to Doctor Strange, assuaging the doctor's guilt over having had to end his own master's life, and bestowing on his pupil the mantle of the realm's new Sorcerer Supreme. But he continued to guide him on his adventures. 
The Ancient One was changed into a homeless man, the agents of the Creators attacked them but the Ancient One was able to sober up enough to teleport them away. Brought before the In-Betweener, Strange and the Ancient One petitioned the cosmic being to allow them passage to the Wheel of Change. When the In-Betweener agreed to do so, Strange sends the Ancient One back to Earth where he will be safe. He was successful and once again the Ancient One became one with the universe.  The Ancient One and Strange monitored Michael Twoyoungmen when he began using his powers and agreed he would make a great protector for his people.
Now a being that is almost cosmic in nature, the Ancient One is spending his time as a servant and messenger to Eternity, leaving behind his once-disciple as the Sorcerer Supreme of Earth. When Wong was attacked at the Temple of Ganesha he came to Strange in his astral form to warn him. The Ancient One advised Strange in his astral form about the Lantern of Lantarr. It was stolen by thieves in the thrall of Baron Mordo, in a plan to summon Dormammu. The Lantern was destroyed in an ultimate confrontation against Dr. Strange and Spider-Man. He was later kidknapped and brainwashed to serve the Pitiful One During Hercules' journey to Hades, the Ancient One was seen in Erebus gambling for his resurrection.
Some time later, during a period when Doctor Strange had fallen from grace for using dark powers, the Ancient One's spirit appeared to Jericho Drumm and his spirit brother Daniel through the Eye of Agamotto, bestowing upon them the title and station of Sorcerer Supreme in place of Strange. When Strange used his powers to continue defending the universe despite it not being his duty anymore and proved that he would not succumb to the dark magic he was using, the Ancient One appeared on the battlefield and gave Strange the Eye of Agamotto back, restoring his title of Sorcerer Supreme once more.
Years later, when the interdimensional army called the Empirikul invaded Earth and destroyed nearly all magic, Doctor Strange and his friends travelled around the world to recover the last small bits of magic that remained in artifacts. One of these artifacts was the Ancient One's corporeal skull, which Doctor Strange stole from the temple in Tibet and crushed up to make into a magical dust that he later used to blind the Empirkul's leader, the Imperator.
Return to the Mortal Plane
Yao was forced back to the mortal plane by Head Accountant T. Hothrun who ripped a portion of his brain out that held his mystical knowledge. He was forced to go to find his old pupil Strange and beg for his help. The Ancient One was able to regain his knowledge just in time to defeat Dormmamu and his forces. He decides to remain on Earth in his mortal form and create a library of mystical knowledge, so the information cannot be taken again.
As Sorcerer Supreme of Earth, the Ancient One possessed a greater knowledge and mastery of the mystic arts than anyone else on Earth. He was born with a great talent for sorcery, and he has fulfilled that potential through extremely long years of study and training, living for more than 500 years.
The Ancient One has the ability to tap this universe's infinite store of ambient magical energy and manipulate the magical power for a variety of effects and purposes. The skill derives from three major sources: personal powers of the mind/soul/body, powers gained by tapping the universe's ambient magical energy and employing it for specific effects, and, finally, powers gained through the tapping of extra-dimensional energy by invoking entities or objects of power existing in tangential mystical dimensions. (The latter means of power is usually gained by reciting incantations.) Some of these effects include:
- Forming magical energy bolts with a high degree of potency and control and erecting energy shields or screens with a high degree of durability to both physical and magical damage.
- The art of astral projection, the mental ability to separate the astral self (the sheath of the soul, or life essence) from his physical self, and in this form traverse through space unbounded by physical laws but fully retaining human consciousness. The astral form is invisible, intangible, and incapable of being harmed except by the most rigorous of mystical means. The astral form only possesses those magical powers residing in the sorcerer's mind: thought casting, psychokinesis, etc. He has such mastery that he can remain in astral form for up to 24 hours and even more before there is corporeal deterioration of his physical form. The physical form is quite vulnerable to attack when the astral form is absent. If harm were to befall the physical form while in astral form, the astral form would be stranded in the wraith-like state. While the astral form is absent, the physical form remains in an inert death-like trance.
- Thought-casting over short or vast distances in a manner virtually identical with telepathy. The entire Earth was within the reach of the Ancient One's mind, providing he knew where to contact the specific mind he is seeking. He could simultaneously communicate with more than a dozen minds at a time.
- Utilizing local magical energy to teleport across the face of the Earth or into a mystical dimension (certain higher dimensions beyond height, width, depth, etc. where the physical laws can be based on magic rather than science). Oddly enough, teleportation within a dimension is more taxing than teleportation between dimensions. Such expenditure of energy leaves all sorcerers mystically debilitated for a varying length of time, making teleportation a dangerous and seldom used ability. Physical teleportation across time rather than space is the most power-draining feat of them all.
The Ancient One had a vast knowledge of mystical spells and incantations invoking the names and aspects of various extra-dimensional objects and beings of power. Through these incantations, the Mage is able to call upon these extra-dimensional power sources for very specific effects without taxing the personal abilities.
Aside of the above-mentioned manipulations, he has been known to use such spells capable of opening dimensional gateways, levitating, creating life-like illusions, mesmerizing others, and casting a spell of silence, preventing subjects from speaking of certain matters or subjects.
The full extent of the powers and abilities of the Ancient One's non-corporeal form after his "death" and becoming one with Eternity are unknown. In his prime, the Ancient One was a master of the martial arts. For many years prior to his death, his advanced age (he lived to be more than 500 years old) impaired his abilities to the point where he could no longer engage in physical combat. Although the magical powers of the Ancient One are as vast as they were hundreds of years ago, his physical abilities were, in his extreme old age, greatly impaired. The Ancient One had also acquired and created many mystical artifacts, including the Eye and the Amulet of Agamotto, the Crystal Orb of Agamotto, the Book of the Vishanti and the Cloak of Levitation -- all which are now owned by Doctor Strange.
Yao was a skilled magician and sorcerer.
In his extreme old age, when he was approaching or had surpassed the age of five hundred years, Yao the Ancient One was unable to perform any major feats of sorcery without placing great physical strain upon himself.
- 128 appearance(s) of Yao (Earth-616)
- 7 appearance(s) in handbook(s) of Yao (Earth-616)
- 38 minor appearance(s) of Yao (Earth-616)
- 51 mention(s) of Yao (Earth-616)
- 12 mention(s) in handbook(s) of Yao (Earth-616)
- 2 invocation(s) of Yao (Earth-616)
- 47 image(s) of Yao (Earth-616)
- 7 quotation(s) by or about Yao (Earth-616)
- 7 item(s) used/owned by Yao (Earth-616)