How does a creature with indestructible end up in the graveyard?

I have been trying to figure this out for a little while.


4 Answers 4


Indestructible prevents the permanent from being destroyed. This usually is caused by damage exceeding a creature's toughness, or an effect that explicitly says that it will destroy a permanent.

The main ways that a creature with indestructible will die (being put to the graveyard from the battlefield) will be:

  1. Having its toughness reduced to zero via -X/-X effects. (Tragic Slip, Black Sun's Zenith or -1/-1 counters, including damage from a source with infect)
  2. Being sacrificed. (Innocent Blood)
  3. Losing indestructible and being destroyed (Hour of Devastation, Turn to Frog + destruction effect)

Other ways to deal with indestructible permanents that do not cause them to "die" include:

  1. Exiling. (Swords to Plowshares)
  2. Bounce. (Unsummon)
  3. Interacting with them on the stack. (Counterspell)
  4. Discard. (Thoughtseize)
  5. Removal from the deck. (Memoricide)
  6. Taking control of them. (In Bolas's Clutches)
  7. Move them to their owner's library. (Condemn)
  • 1
    I would have linked to all the cards, but my current reputation won't allow it.
    – dragoncmd
    Commented Jul 13, 2015 at 1:24
  • 2
    You can just write [mtg:<card name>] for card links.
    – Cascabel
    Commented Jul 13, 2015 at 2:44
  • 2
    Turning them frogs also works
    – ikegami
    Commented Jul 13, 2015 at 4:17
  • 5
    Since the question calls out ending up in the graveyard, not just dying, it may be worth adding things like mill, self-mill, and discard.
    – corsiKa
    Commented Jul 13, 2015 at 22:45
  • 3
    The original question actually specified dying, though I am unsure that the person asking understand what that means in magic. I tried to include ways to deal with indestructible creatures, as opposed to focusing on the graveyard itself.
    – dragoncmd
    Commented Jul 15, 2015 at 9:42

A creature with indestructible can die as a result of anything that is not damage (Lightning Bolt) and does not explicitly use the word 'destroy' (Doom Blade).

The most common ways:

Toughness reduced to less than zero. (This is neither damage nor a 'destroy' effect.) e.g., Death Wind

The creature's controller is forced to sacrifice it. e.g., All is Dust

  • 1
    And of course, they can be exiled, returned to their owner's hand, or put back into their owner's library. None of that puts them in the graveyard, but it still gets rid of them!
    – Cascabel
    Commented Jul 12, 2015 at 20:27
  • It can also be discarded from hand or from the library.
    – GendoIkari
    Commented Jul 12, 2015 at 23:37

Damage dealt with infect is able to kill Indestructible creatures. This is because sources with infect deal damage to creatures in the form of -1/-1 counters, which eventually can reduce the creature's toughness to 0 or less.

  • 1
    The top answer already includes "reducing toughness to 0" -1/-1 counters and temporary -/- effects both work this way.
    – Andrew
    Commented Nov 19, 2018 at 16:50
  • 1
    Welcome to the site! It is useful to mention that both Wither and Infect can cause indestructible creatures to go to the graveyard, but this answer would be a bit better suited as either an Edit to the existing answer or as a comment underneath it (You will be able to comment once you get a bit more Rep). Thanks for contributing though and hope you stick around.
    – Malco
    Commented Nov 19, 2018 at 18:25
  • 2
    I think infect/wither is worth mentioning separately. Yes, this is a specific implementation of the Reducing Toughness category above, but both are achieved through damage, which is counter-intuitive for other cases of indestructability seemingly not caring about damage dealt.
    – ryanyuyu
    Commented Nov 20, 2018 at 15:35
  • @ryanyuyu I agree it should be mentioned, though not alone as a separate answer.
    – Andrew
    Commented Nov 27, 2018 at 15:27
  • I've now included infect in the top voted answer. Commented Mar 11, 2021 at 8:39

Lightning Bolt is damage, and does not affect indestructible.

  • This is not an answer to the question asked, it looks a lot more like a comment on Affe's answer based on a misreading of what Affe said (Lightning Bolt is used as an example of what is damage and thus will not work) When you have enough rep you'll be able to leave comments on questions and answers.
    – Andrew
    Commented Mar 11, 2021 at 16:31

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