The Day of The Doctor – a time-structure analysis

“Waste no more time arguing what a good man should be. Be one.” (Marcus Aurelius)

Clara: We’ve got enough warriors. And any old idiot can be a hero.
The Doctor: Then what do I do?
Clara: What you’ve always done. Be a doctor.

[Day of The Doctor quotes taken from the transcript at]

The Day of The Doctor is structured into two plots – an A plot (the use of The Moment by the War Doctor) and a B plot (the Zygon Invasion of Earth). The A plot has a long-standing emotional conflict at its heart. The Doctor, a hero to many, once committed an act of genocide on his own people. The man who swore to be ‘never cruel’, to ‘never give in’, killed 2.7 billion innocent children.

As soon as the conflict is set in that form, it becomes apparent that it can’t possibly fit into the structure of a long running family show. As long as the show concentrates on adult Time Lords such as the High Council – who’ve clearly all gone insane – or the need to destroy the Daleks, the backstory presented is nicely angsty. The Doctor had to destroy the Time Lords because they’d gone insane enough to destroy the universe. It was the equivalent of shooting the man who’s about to burn down the house. It’s painful, but it’s understandable, and it’s forgiveable.

However, once you start going down the road of wondering whether everyone on Gallifrey had gone bonkers, or whether there might have been three-year-olds clutching their teddy bears amongst the population – then there’s a problem. The history of the television show includes a Time Lord child – fifteen year old Susan, the Doctor’s own granddaughter. That suggests there were, indeed, children on Gallifrey. That means the hero of the show is someone who’s done something only God could forgive; and he doesn’t even believe in God. 🙂

What is the difference between a Dalek and the Doctor if they’d both deliberately kill that three year old? There’s only one difference; the Doctor can change. The Dalek can’t. The Doctor can be ‘The Doctor’ again – become the person who’d never kill those children. Instead, he’s the person who’d die trying to save them.

And because this is a show about time travel, you don’t have to show that change by using a current situation. You can also go back and change the past.

That’s the central conflict of Plot A, and Plot B provides the ‘current situation’ parallel.

The resolution of the Plot A conflict is provided by a literal ‘Deus Ex Machina’ – The world destroying device known as The Moment has a conscience, sentience, and an ability to manipulate time that might be expected from the universe’s foremost temporal engineers. But before we go into that plot resolution, let’s see if we can understand Time Track One – the time track before the intervention of The Moment.

[I’m indebted to @PhaseShift for his suggestion that the Doctor may have been able to change his own timestream by leaping inside it to save Clara.]

Time Track One
The War Doctor decides to use The Moment. There is no Clara, so there’s no point in The Moment trying to manipulate time – as we later see, watching their dilemma replayed by Kate Stewart won’t make any of the Doctors change their minds, even though they’ll stop her making the same decision. Gallifrey burns (seen in The End of Time). The Doctor regenerates, meets Rose. Events proceed as seen since 2005.

1562 – the Tennant Doctor is investigating a possible Zygon invasion of Earth. Despite consistently misidentifying Zygons, the immediate danger is resolved by the Zygon commander badly underestimating Queen Elizabeth I. The Zygons are put into stasis (Elizabeth I had quite enough near-wars going on in 1562, there’s no way she’d want to cope with invading aliens as well). Her time-travelling husband is appointed to deal with the problem.

2013 – the Smith Doctor gets the second part of the Zygon invasion of Earth. Note that if there’s no intervention by the Moment, the Smith Doctor remains physically in 2013. He doesn’t have to land the TARDIS (he doesn’t even have to use the TARDIS) – he can dash from Trafalgar Square to the Tower in the classic ‘race against time’ style. His problem is physically getting inside the Black Archive (or alternatively, finding a way to fire off the memory filters from outside the doors).

Neither part of the Zygon adventure absolutely requires the three Doctors to meet (it doesn’t even need Gallifrey Falls/No More). They work out how to disintegrate the door in the Tower of 1562 – but it isn’t locked. They need the War Doctor to tell them how to get through to the Black Archive – but without being transported to 1562, the Smith Doctor wouldn’t be in the TARDIS. Relaying a calculation via the earliest version of the Sonic Screwdriver, using the Stasis Cube/Gallifrey Falls – these ‘solutions’ are only necessary because of The Moment’s time manipulation. They also, not coincidentally, happen to be the solution to the Doctor’s real problem (plot A).

Talking about time manipulation, let’s move to:

Time Track Two
Hang onto your hats, folks. This one’s incredibly convoluted. (Incredibly convoluted: so grown up)

Let’s take PhaseShift’s idea that the Doctor has changed his timestream by saving Clara’s life. That makes sense, because it’s when he rescues Clara that he can ‘see’ the War Doctor.

The War Doctor decides to use The Moment. But now there is Clara, a girl born to save the Doctor. The Moment’s problem has become quite different; instead of the scenario in Time Track One, where there’s nothing she can suggest that would change the Doctor’s mind, there’s someone available who is capable of doing just that. So she opens two time portals.

2013: The Smith Doctor has been called into The Zygon Invasion of Earth (Part 2). He sees a quite remarkable painting.

Gallifrey Falls/No More is a 3-D Time Lord work of art. It’s been brought to this time period and delivered to the Doctor by the simple expedient of leaving it with Elizabeth I and telling her to store it safely, using it as her ‘credentials’ when the Zygons break out.

‘Who’ left it with Elizabeth I only becomes apparent at the end of the show; a future Doctor ‘acquired it in remarkable circumstances.’ But there’s something else remarkable about that painting; something we’re encouraged not to think about by an immediate jump back in time to the Last Day of the Time War. Moffat knows perfectly well most keen fans were gagging to see more of the Time War – he’s just done the scripting equivalent of ‘Oh, look! Kittens!’

Because – if this is the Last Day of the Time War – who the bloody hell survived to paint ‘Gallifrey Falls/No More’? Hidden in plain sight; Clara even signposts it by saying ‘But that’s impossible.’ She’s referring to the 3-D, of course. But that painting is entirely impossible. The only person who could have painted it would never, under any circumstances, turn the worst moment of his life into a spectacular work of art.

The painting is from the future, the future where Gallifrey has been both saved and found. It’s delivered to the Smith Doctor both as a means of reminding him of the Time War (he’s the one who has to come up with the solution so that Gallifrey Falls/No More becomes Gallifrey Falls No More) and a means of getting him into the Black Archives.

[The title of the painting itself implies two time streams, by the way.]

I hope everyone’s clear about the Doctor phoning McGillop from the future so that he can take the painting to the Black Archives? Good. 😉

That Fez
Fez loop

Once the time vortex is opened in 2013, the Smith Doctor starts to ‘remember’ events. In A Christmas Carol (which seems to have been a bit of a rehearsal for this), Kazran Sardick ‘remembers’ events as the Doctor changes his time-stream. So it’s entirely possible that this is what’s happening here; the Smith Doctor is ‘remembering’ as his time-stream is changed. While he’s in 2013, the time stream is being changed in his personal past. As soon as he moves to 1562, however…

Remembrance of things past
remembrance of things past

Note that the Tennant Doctor is pretty surprised that his future self doesn’t remember these events – again, there’s a parallel in A Christmas Carol. Kazran can’t ‘remember’ his young self being brought into the future to see the man he’d become; not when the changed timeline happens in his own personal present. If the changes happen in his personal past he does.

[This also suggests that ‘TimeCrash’ wasn’t a changed timeline – and that it’s the changing of timelines that will affect memories. ]

The Hurt Doctor then arrives to visit his future selves (with fez). There’s a very strong suggestion that the Hurt Doctor’s entire period is time-locked; the Tennant Doctor is shocked that the Hurt Doctor can get to 1562.

Events in our Zygon adventure proceed as per Time Line One. There is, however, a strong hint from The Moment that Time Can Be Changed (remember that slogan?).

It’s history for them. All decided. They think their future is real. They don’t know it’s still up to you.

Since Clara is still back in 2013, The Moment also has to do her own hinting to get the three Doctors to realise the potential of a 400 year time gap between Doctors.

Question: if the Smith Doctor can’t remember ‘past’ events when the timestream is being changed in his ‘present’, how come the screwdriver trick works? The screwdriver’s timestream is, after all, being changed with new programming in its ‘present’.

Remember all those complaints when Moffat had the TARDIS produce the new Sonic? There was a reason for that. The TARDIS, like The Moment, has no real understanding of ‘past’, ‘present’ or ‘future’. We see this when the ‘desktop’ glitches; three Doctors at once, she’s not quite sure which one to use. From the TARDIS point of view, it doesn’t matter ‘when’ she got the calculations because she has no concept of ‘when’. Programming information includes that they were started by the screwdriver belonging to the Hurt Doctor; that’s when they start. And they will start then, even if she has to send them back in her own personal time to do it; she’s a time machine.

Clara is battling with Zygons, mysteriously flickering lights, and a vortex manipulator. I admit I’m vaguely wondering if this part of the plot was to get Clara fitted out with a vortex manipulator for the Christmas Special, but there you go. She escapes from the Zygons by jumping to:

Where she opens a door. Note that she isn’t necessary in the 1562 adventure (or even in the 2013 adventure) – which fits with the idea that in Timestream One, she wasn’t in either era. Clara’s plot importance is orientated towards Plot A. She’s the cause of the Doctor explaining stasis cubes (Cup-a-Soup), which will both get them back to Plot B Part 2 (maintaining the solution from Time Stream One) and solve the major dilemma in Plot A.

2013 (via the TARDIS)
Quick bits of time travel. The Doctors (and Clara) travel by TARDIS, the Zygons by stasis cube. The Tower is TARDIS-proof, so the last bit of the journey is made via stasis cube through the Gallifrey Falls/No More portal.

Note that the painting has now changed: in the original there is one Doctor, only. The War Doctor. In this version, the Three Doctors (and Clara) have now been inserted. With the addition of a little bit of time, they destroy the Dalek and exit into the Black Archives to wrap up Plot B.

The wrap-up of Plot B does two things. It shows that the later versions of the Doctor are perfectly aware that killing innocents to save many others is never ‘right’. It also demonstrates that – while the Doctor has turned into ‘great men’, he’s still convinced he had no other choice. What’s done is done. We’re still in a world where our hero murdered 2.7 billion kids.

The Hurt Doctor makes his decision and we return to:

The Time War
Where The Moment is no doubt muttering with River Song ‘My god, you’re hard work when you’re young’. She opens the Time Lock.

Clara is really, really important to Plot A’s solution. She recognised in 2013 that the Hurt Doctor was young – same way River did, she could see it in his eyes – and hadn’t yet destroyed Gallifrey. She clearly, from the dialogue, persuaded the Tennant and Smith Doctors to break through the Time Lock.

Tennant Doctor: These events should be time-locked. We shouldn’t even be here.
Smith Doctor: So something let us through.

Yup. Time is being changed. There’s a painting that shouldn’t exist (and which changes), there’s the Smith Doctor unable to remember what he did in his own past, there’s a Time Lock that suddenly seems to be like that door in the 1562 Tower – unlocked as soon as Clara pushes against it.

The three Doctors, by themselves, cannot change their own personal past. Like Day of the Daleks, the people in the loop can’t change it. This is the past that created them; this is the decision that made them. The only person who can change things is Clara – who wasn’t created by the past where Gallifrey burns.

[Though I do wonder whether Clara-from-Blackpool was always a Claricle, and the original ‘recipe’ is someone from the Doctor’s future. Possibly even someone from Gallifrey, when it’s found.]

The Tennant Doctor is extremely clear that his personal history is being changed:

Tennant Doctor: You’re not actually suggesting that we change our own personal history?

and later:

The General: What? Even if that were possible, which it isn’t, why would you do such a thing?
The Doctor: Because the alternative is burning.
Ten: And I’ve seen that.
The Doctor: And I never want to see it again.

The painting changed. Gallifrey no longer burns. And if that wasn’t enough to show that Time Can Be Changed, the Twelve Doctors who exist in the timestream of Trenzalore are now – Thirteen.

We saw Twelve. Now, finally, we see a flash of Thirteen.

Back to the present. The time-streams are out of synch and these memories can’t be retained – which makes sense; if the Eccleston and Tennant Doctors remember that they’ve changed their pasts, we’ll be back to the good old zig-zag diagram. The Smith Doctor will be a different person, will make different decisions and the change will never happen. This change in a personal time-line is only possible because it’s been changed in such a way that the effects can only be felt by the latest incarnation.

So their memories are effectively of Time Stream One. Well, except for the thing with the Zygons. 😉

Confusing Diagram Below:
Looping through time

The view from the point of view of the ‘main’ universal timestream is the black line. In that timestream, Gallifrey is never destroyed, though there is a time when it’s believed that it was.

The view from the Doctor’s point of view (which is also the POV of the TV viewer from 2005 onwards) is the blue line. This goes through an alternate path where Gallifrey was genuinely destroyed. However, that path then joins the main timestream when the Smith Doctor meets Clara, is saved by Clara, and alters his timestream by leaping into it to save Clara. Shortly after that event, The Moment opens the time vortex (the red line) which takes Clara and the Doctor back into the Doctor’s personal past. Clara then ‘nudges’ the Doctor, altering his personal time line so it comes back into line with the ‘main’ universal time line.

Of course, if the Doctor hadn’t saved Clara, the blue line would have been the ‘main’ universal time line.

In a sense, the Doctors from Hurt onwards will go through this twice. From the ‘Night and the Doctor’ minisodes, we can guess that the Smith Doctor will remember two alternative pasts. One where Gallifrey burned, one where it didn’t.

From the viewer’s point of view, Gallifrey has suddenly been restored to existence, rather like Amy’s parents popping up on her wedding day. Amy remembers not having parents. She also remembers that she has parents, has always had parents. Similarly, the Smith Doctor is probably (to be confirmed?) going to remember both a past where he burned Gallifrey, and a past where he just thought he did. What’s really important, however, is that from this point onwards Gallifrey has been brought into existence.

From the point of view of the show, what’s really important is that the Doctor has resolved his initial angst and can now genuinely ‘move on’. He’s back to ‘doing what he’s always done’. He can be the Doctor, the man who would have a mental debate about his right to destroy even the Daleks.

It would never be sufficient for the Doctor to simply regret such a terrible crime. It wouldn’t even be sufficient for him to become the sort of person who’d never do that ever again. He’s a time traveller. The very premise of the show means that a genuine reparation is possible. He was always going to have to find a way of saving Gallifrey. He was always going to have to find a way of undoing what he’d done.

Waste no more time arguing what The Doctor should be. Be one.


  1. @Bluesqueakpip

    Once again I am in awe. Thank you so much for another fantastic post. A brilliant study and summation of the episode. This deserves to be shared around the interwebs. Hope it is.

    I love the last paragraph and the ‘sort-of’ quote. Amazing stuff. Thanks again.

  2. To @Bluesqueakpip what an absolutely clever summary of the different POVs!  I definitely enjoyed your rendering via diagrams. Generally, I don’t find diagrams as illuminating as text but I think in the case of Dr Who it’s essential! Thanks to @Craig for helping me to get on this site and to leave some (helpful/bonkers) comments as well (in the future anyways). To those who may have said they didn’t think the Zygon part of the plot necessary or even particularly clever I would agree with other posts  which state that it is, in part, a wonderful way of nodding happily at ‘old’ Whovians by providing a suitably gross monster the solution to which is applied to Plot A.

    At one time (briefly) I may have thought that some suitable timey whimey  weapons would be seen in the Time War. Shazzbot thought, too, that the War could be more cerebral and “less explicitly like any war we as humans know”. In the end I felt that the use of ‘ray guns’ and ‘domestic weapons’ provided us with a war that particularly  children, in the present, might actually understand. They might develop compassion for the poor maintenance workers, soldiers and children of Gallifrey. We did have many allusions to the panoply of nightmarish weapons taken from the Time Vaults and Omega Arsenal (The Footprints of the Neverwere etc)  during the RTD era and in the last few seasons with Moff that seeing any of these in action wasn’t necessary. Others have discussed at length the important consequences of the actions/beliefs on the Time Lords (in the EofT) and the Doctor. Seeing the dilemma that these actions cause is as important as the mechanics of war itself and I think, as others have mentioned, having a single dalek and a child collapsing in a heap crunching her eyes shut in preparation for death is much more horrifying than “blowing shit up regularly”. Not to mention the budget.


    I enjoyed how the episode was a stand-a-lone in many ways bridging the gap between Old and New Who. We didn’t get many of the question we may want answered but we received many other things that we needed. Who blew up the TARDIS hasn’t really been answered and just like what was in the Doctor’s hotel room, we may never know. Personally I’ve relegated these snippets to TIME: T-Tantalising; I-Instructional (at a later date); M -Maybe Momentous or just E -Enticing.


    I thought that the Doctor and Clara were still in the Timestream and what interests me about that is how the Doctor is READING the book quite slowly and turning the pages without flipping through it in two seconds flat (“it was OK but the middle bit was a bit slow”). I’m also perplexed by Clara’s knowledge -ability to ‘click’ the TARDIS’ doors shut and mention how often the Doctor discusses the Time War. No doubt these  issues have been discussed in other threads many times ….and they’ve escaped me 🙂


    Some bonker person mentioned that it would be weird if the Silence were actually TimeLords (now out of the Pocket) and having corrupted themselves from jumping through time their faces  are stretched and they’ve chosen suits worn by bands like the Easy Beats or Two Plus Four! 🙂 I thought this was interesting as they can use Time to be forgotten and also electricity to kill or stun -I recall The Master losing ‘his looks’ every time he used electricity to jump around the slag pits in London in the End of Time. Still, I don’t actually think that theory will stand up at all. It’s just fun and reminds us that the Doctor didn’t particularly respect Time Lord society all that much with its indifference to other planets, to its own ‘ordinary’ Gallifreyan people and its ‘Weapons if Mass Destruction’ (sorry, that allusion from another thread and poster whose name I cannot recall).


    I like the concept of the scapegoat doctor -carrying The Moment and all that entailed on his back into an almost hostile, if not indifferent landscape devoid of colour, movement and shadow. It was a great metaphor of the Hurt Doctor’s acceptance of the emptiness to come should he deploy The Moment.

    I can see now that whist hope of Gallifrey’s existence was gone before this (“Fear me I killed them all”), there is one thing now left in Pandora’s Box-and that’s hope. Possibly the best attribute of all.

  3. Seconding @Craig‘s sense of awe at your brilliant work.  Track One, Track Two, Plot A, Plot B.  I wonder if Moffat stole the Tardis to jump ahead in time to get his hands on your diagrams and analysis.  Just brilliant, @Bluesqueakpip.

    And waving hi @purofilion.  Great catch re: Smith Doctor reading up on Quantum Mechanics.  I’d thought it was a clue for us, the audience.  Hadn’t considered that he’d forgotten what he’d known about it and was studying up for his tutorial with teacher Clara.  Another good point re: Pandorica/Pandora’s Box re: hope.  Gotta love a scriptwriter and show runner born of schoolteacher(s) with a master’s in English.  Glad we have so many eagle-eyed members, along with at least one Egyptologist (@Juniperfish), to help us unravel all this!



  4. Thank you @TardisBlue -I do love this site and came upon it about two weeks ago just when lightning struck our equipment and we lost the internet. I was able to read/watch minisodes/epibots on someone’s IPad and had some crazy theories at the time regarding the DotD. I just wanted to express my appreciation of a fantastic episode which could never please everyone but, like some people, I gauged  it (Plot B) by my 11 year olds ‘terror’ at the Zygons. The fact they’re shapeshifters kept him saying “is THAT the real dr/Kate/Osgood/Clara/?” and when Kate morphed (like an Ood)into a Zygon we had lots of appropriate vomiting noises so this convinced me Moff was on the right track. I’m no biblical scholar but I did like the scapegoat/atonement metaphors and the desert wandering whilst looking world weary and perpetually exhausted. It was a great contrast to TennDoctor’s usual escapades: snogging ladies of ample bosom at sumptuous picnics (hark back to Girl in the Fireplace), general larking about and ‘hair standing on end’ stuff. And the bit at the end with TBakerDr, well, tears pouring down face..and proud of it!

    Anyway, should I ever get to be too boring or risk mentioning other posts without acknowledgement, feel free to clock me on head. In Australia, we’re used to it.




  5. @Tardisblue

    I wonder if Moffat stole the Tardis to jump ahead in time to get his hands on your diagrams and analysis.

    Haha, nicely put.

    And welcome  @purofilion  Another one from the southern colonies I see – in the same timestreams as @JanetteB and @Whohar  Nice first post. Would love to hear your thoughts on Memories of the Doctor thread.  The Silence as TimeLords I think has been mooted, but not discussed in detail. Maybe the Xmas special thread for more thoughts on that.

  6. @bluesqueakpip

    This is a cracking read and I love the illustrated guides you do. Very nice to have a namecheck as well. 🙂

    I love the parallels and reminders of what has gone before (all the way back to Day of the Daleks). I think a popular criticism of SM has been that he changes the rules of his time stories so there is little consistency, but the more you examine them, there is a consistent thread. I think he’s responsible for possibly the greatest description of time :

    People assume that time is a strict progression of cause to effect, but *actually* from a non-linear, non-subjective viewpoint – it’s more like a big ball of wibbly wobbly… time-y wimey… stuff.

    The “Timey Wimey” (“I have no idea where he picks this stuff up”), expression picks up some ire, but that misses the genius of the first part. Of course we are slaves to linear thinking – anticipating A leading to B, because that’s how we expect the universe to work. That’s why we can’t get past the idea of Paradox, because it seems counter-intuitive to normal experience.

    A few people had real difficulties with Amy having access to memories of an “alternate past” in The Big Bang, but really it’s no different to Jo Grant maintaining memories of an alternate future in Day of the Daleks when their actions closed that timeline. The reason I think is that we can more accept that possibility because it’s in the future?

  7. Jumbley-Wumbley:

    In 1562 (after his wedding) the (Tennant) Dr told Liz 1 that he’d be right back (implying to the viewer that he wouldn’t be).

    He had seen her earlier (From his perspective), in 1599, when she wanted to behead him (or at least puncture him with an arrow) but having never met her before, he had no idea why he had become her sworn enemy.

    So his visit to 1562 probably gave him an inkling why she might bear a grudge by 1599. (Abandoned for 37 years for starters..?)

    Afterwards, the Dr described to an Ood his marriage to Good Queen Bess: ‘What a mistake that was.’

    Later still, the Smith Dr met Liz 10, who explained that she’d been brought up on the stories (of the Doctor’s encounters with British Royalty – as had the rest of her family)

    ‘…So much for the Virgin Queen, you bad, bad boy!’



    Another ‘Jumbley -Wumbley’ encounter is Clara’s visit to the Tower, as it transpires that this is her 2nd visit.

    I wonder what her 1st one will be……?


  8. Greetings to all. After lurking on this site for almost a year, I have finally been pulled out of the closet by the sheer brilliance of this post! As someone with a background in academics, I love well-organized explanations and useful diagrams (arrows are good!).  🙂   It’s pretty challenging to explain a complicated time-travel plot in any rational way, so well done there.

    Also, there is the genius of this:

    Because – if this is the Last Day of the Time War – who the bloody hell survived to paint ‘Gallifrey Falls/No More’?

    That had actually not occurred to me, and I don’t remember reading it anywhere else, but once you say it, of course it is obvious. As my son would say, “Mind. Blown.”

    Thanks to all for the fascinating contributions on this site. I am not a bonkers theorist myself, but yours are great fun to read, and the level of discourse (expressed in paragraphs full of well-considered punctuation) is a pleasure. Also a pleasure is not just your general civility, but the obvious warmth of feeling you have for one another. It’s a lovely place to visit!

  9. @Arbutus  Welcome from the lurkers’ closet into this wee corner of the Whoniverse!

    @everyone While we are on the subject of time, here are a couple of interesting articles about the way in which the brains measures time (and our limited understanding of that to date) and the way in which we experience time in society:

    Content warning – some mention of animal experiments in the first article


  10. I am reminded, all over again, why I followed you all over here from the G.  No whingers, no moaners, just a group of smart fans who would prefer to enjoy the show, than pick it apart and complain.  Well, done!

  11. Thank you all for your kind words.

    @purofilion – welcome! Personally, I’d rate the effect as the most important thing as well. I doubt the Doctor really lost much sleep over the High Council; but I bet that whenever he closed his eyes he was trying desperately not to see the terrified little girl and the toddler with the stuffed bear.

    Interesting that your 11 year old loved the Zygons. It sounds rather like things have been left open for future Zygon adventures.

    The Quantum Mechanics book is in a classic ‘Teach Yourself’ cover. So the Doctor’s carefully reading a textbook on Quantum Mechanics – good spot. I did spot the title, but presumed it was a reference to the ‘Many-Worlds’ theory; the instant a choice is made, the universe splits into two. See Confusing Diagram. 🙂

  12. @PhaseShift,

    Of course we are slaves to linear thinking – anticipating A leading to B, because that’s how we expect the universe to work. That’s why we can’t get past the idea of Paradox, because it seems counter-intuitive to normal experience.

    I honestly think that’s why Moffat keeps saying “but the kids get it.” The kids are still learning how the universe works; if they’re shown an example of non-linearity, this becomes part of their normal experience. Provided it’s explained clearly (with fez), it’s perfectly sensible that time travel might result in our seeing the effect (B) before the cause (A).

    Day of the Daleks was one of the BG Who’s I watched in the run-up to the 50th; it’s well worth a watch. Especially the remastered, re-CGI’d version in which they actually have enough Daleks!

    Yes, if Jo can retain the memory of an alternate time-stream which she personally experienced, Amy can remember the alternate time-stream she experienced. As well as the new mainstream time-stream she created (and presumably she also created that set of memories). ‘past’ and ‘future’ depend on the observation point – they’re not an absolute category. That ‘alternate future’ is also Jo’s personal ‘past’. One that no longer exists. 😉

  13. @TardisBlue, @ScaryB, @JimTheFish, @Rob, and @ardaraith – thank you all.

    @wolfweed, – given the memory filter, this visit to the Tower (with Zygons) could well be Clara’s second visit.

    @Juniperfish – well, of course they’re red and blue time arrows. 😀

    @arbutus – I pulled you out of lurking? I’m flattered! Glad you liked my ‘who painted the painting’ spot – that sneaky Moffat, with his ‘Ooh, look, Daleks!’ 🙂

    Punctuation: a great aid to understanding. It’s almost as important as diagrams.

  14. @Bluesqueakpip :Brilliant stuff! @Purofilion: Welcome!

    Personally, I see the Time War as a war of attrition. By the Last Day, the Time Lords had used up all their weapons except the deadliest of all. Doubtless the Daleks suffered in a similar way, and the two sides were usung conventional weapons by the end, which gave the armoured, always armed Daleks the edge. That’s why the Doctor felt the need to use the Moment as Gallifrey fell.

    I also think the Doctor needed the events of The End of a Time as a psychological crutch. How much easier is it to commit genocide against a species that really deserves it?* The Doctor had to believe that to go on. Faced with the reality that the people of Gallifrey really didn’t deserve it, he’s forced onto a new path.

    * And who gets to decide which species deserves it? The Valyard was right: nobody should have that right. Even if the Vervoids were going to wipe out animal life on Earth, that didn’t excuse wiping out the Vervoids.

  15. @Arkleseizure and @Bluesqueakpip yes, quite right too. It was a war of attrition where whatever was left (after the Arsenal was cleaned out) was used: even the lowly privates and corporals, I expect. As you said it was the Doctor faced with the reality of the “people of Gallifrey” not just the dolorous and capricious time lords with their formidable arrogance. I’m squeamish by nature -and so is the 11 year old – and to put the war in terms we might understand, ‘guns and ammo’; crying children and guerrilla warfare is one such way. Bubbles of detached molecules and unintelligible but monstrous ‘time’ defilement is hard for me to grasp (I’m not speaking for anyone else) and the hideous mechanics of simple war (hardly ever simple of course) and the dreadful upheavals of life and death was painted with enough brutality in tDotD to convince me that the Doctor’s choice was initially correct. But, of course, as you implied, no-one gets to be God or the Angel of Death without it being a doomed, pyrrhic gesture of nauseating consequences.

    What would it have been like to be Cass in her ‘ship watching planets flicker and die, to see Gallifrey and to be close enough to the thrumming sounds of Dalek warships bigger than imagining, a black night with glimmering dread; disorder and wildness screaming in the stars?




  16. @purofilion: What would it have been like to be Cass in her ‘ship watching planets flicker and die, to see Gallifrey and to be close enough to the thrumming sounds of Dalek warships bigger than imagining, a black night with glimmering dread; disorder and wildness screaming in the stars?

    Beautifully said! I found the “Night of the Doctor” minisode to be incredibly moving. For me, it demonstrated perfectly the horror of the Time War, while leaving the real meat of it to my imagination. I’m not convinced that visuals could have portrayed it nearly as effectively as the look and tone of Cass when she realized to whom she was speaking. She was willing to die rather than be rescued by a Time Lord. It couldn’t have been stated more clearly that the Daleks and the Time Lords had been tearing the universe apart, over and over, possibly for a very long time. And to judge by how much the War Doctor had aged by the Last Day, it must have continued for a long, hard time afterward. I’m not sure how such a war could have been meaningfully portrayed. I believe that the viewers are being asked to accept the tiny snippet that we have been shown as representative of a much deeper, darker horror.

    Perhaps worlds have been destroyed, and time has been altered and their destruction erased, only for them to be destroyed again. If this has happened often enough, perhaps people might begin to remember the altered timelines? This could be pretty horrible, to have inklings or possibly dreams of the destruction of your world, over and over.

  17. indeed @Arbutus “and time has been altered and their destruction erased, only for them to be destroyed again….”

    I recall in tEofT 2-parter when the Sage  or the older woman in white said something along the lines of: everywhere burning and more burning. Planets and people resurrected only to die again and again.

    What an awful image, a dreadful idea as bad as the concept of infinity to a child -impossible to grasp -even if infinity is paradise and that paradise is repeated over and over again. I may no longer be a child but I cannot stand still and pause over the concept of infinity or infinite resurrection and death: oblivion is preferable surely. Nothingness is better than infinite suffering (or even pleasure)…but moving back to Doctor Who and away from philosophy for a moment 🙂 (or are the two actually the same?)

    The Furies in ancient times were so terrifying because they turned up the volume of the inner monologue and magnified qualities already present to great excess. Plato’s four divine madnesses (yep, back to philosophy) -most obviously the burden of self and the need to lose the self in the first place seems to be echoed in the DotD and also in the minisode with DrMcGann. I saw this in Cass’ hatred of the time lords; that they had become obsessed with self to such a degree that the universe itself could be sacrificed and yet they had (in the presence of the doctor) come to despise themselves, too. There was no longer a balance: two mighty civilisations had to be destroyed in order for balance to be restored. The time lords were terrified of their impending mortality (those who had controlled time and cheated death); afraid of surrendering their souls and yet made more miserable than any other thing by that immortality. It’s as if only in balance -in a beginning, a middle and an end, lived once, do any species achieve true contentment. Too much ‘life’ and imbalance and misery is the result and endless wars to retain that ‘life’ are fought. Perhaps our own selves make us so unhappy and that’s why we’re so anxious to lose them? After all, we may have many desires but really our main desire is to live. And to live forever. Or so Aristotle thought….even he couldn’t have imagined a lonely god remembering all their different ‘times’. That way madness lies.



  18. @Arbutus -please forgive me for lecturing at you about the Furies etc. I’m sure you know all about them. I was only hoping to being up some parallels with Ancient times and ideas that I’d recently thought of! Really, Dr Who has that ability to make me THINK about so many other areas/ideals/mythologies -more than most programmes. Certainly when I began watching it at a young age and then again in ’05 I didn’t think that deeply about it. But the last few seasons (a bit up and down from ep to ep) have propelled me into different areas of ..muddled thought?



  19. @purofilion @Arbutus

    Just wow! Great posts.

    It’s what I love about the show – while it’s carefully crafted to be accessible by younger minds, some of the concepts which can be unpacked by adults are very deep.  As mentioned above by @Bluesqueakpip – kids get the wibbly wobbly timey wimey stuff because they are still forming concepts about time. They can see the horror of the SFX war and will take in the phrase never-ending war, but it’s there for the more adult mind to unpick the real horror of the details and find the resonances with real life.

  20. wow.

    Unfortunately that does absolutely no justice to a fantastic post including comments!
    and helpful diagrams… [memo to self – rip up that last set of postits].

    Hi @Arbutus and @purofilion – completely agree with you both (and would love to hear more from you!).

    In terms of portraying a Time War, an interesting medium might be in comics. There’s a great book by Scott McCloud called Understanding Comics where he explains how they work in terms of the linear progression of time between panels, but also within each panel (if people are talking). Such a sophisticated structure would allow for repeating panels and pages, echoing panels and structures as well as introducing subtle changes.

    anyway – thanks again @bluesqueakpip for a fantastic post!

  21. Thank you @bluesqueakpip that is amazing.

    As many have mentioned before (i think) we are watching evets as they unfold, the only way the moment could enact any real change was allowing it to happen the first time (blue stream) what we have seen from 2005 till before the 50th, to allow for Clara to be in the right place at the right time to fix it (Red Stream. So it all did happen and it all didnt happen at the same time.

    As for the time war I ahad always assumed that many many bad things happend from both sides but the ther side nipped back to just before it happened and stopped things, so u get a effect of the Time Lords and The Darleks seeing many horrible events but only the consequences of them actually being seen by the general populus. ie planets and people just dissapearing, if anyone has seen Looper with peoples fingers and what not dissapering you dont actually see the haorrifing event but can fully comprehend it.

    I hope that makes sense to more than just me

  22. @bluesqueakpip

    That ‘alternate future’ is also Jo’s personal ‘past’. One that no longer exists.

    Absolutely, Amy’s experience really doesn’t contradict anything that has gone before, or is anything new in that regard, which is why I was surprised it was such a barrier to some. Glad you enjoyed Day of the Daleks. Hope you don’t mind if we chose to revisit it, as I think we’d both say there are more than a few points in it that make it worthwhile.

    On another note – your comments about the children of Gallifrey I found very powerful and I’d agree that, as you’ve said, it may have been playing on SMs mind. The mad Time Lords portrayed in the End of Time were really one thing, but RTD had already opened up something much earlier really, because he showed the Master as a child in Last of the Time Lords. Accept one, and there will inevitably be more.

    I think it adds power to some of the emerging storylines in S5 and S6 as you look back, in that yes, some people do consider him a hero, but you can well understand the point of view that he would be an unforgivable monster in the old scenario. I wonder if the Hitler “Mels” wants to kill in Let’s Kill Hitler was the real one, or the one she ends up falling in love with? This may have been a point that many realised, but it had passed me by.

  23. @purofilion a brilliant summation of the plot and timeline resolution. In fact an explanation worthy of Stephen Hawkins are you sure your not one of his relatives either that or you are really a timelord with a masters in temporal mechanics .

  24. @Bluesqueakpip – can I please say, along with everyone else above, what a wonderful blog posting this is.  (And I’m a sucker for illustrations!  So thank you for including them.  🙂 )

    I’ve been watching my ‘The Beginnings’ DVD box-set (An Unearthly Child, The Daleks, The Edge of Destruction) and their various extras.  It’s been interesting to be re-reminded of the BBC’s original intent with Doctor Who, in filling a tea-time TV slot with a children’s show – and the machinations, and edits-in-the-script-margins, and meeting back-‘n’forths that went on for months on how to craft the right tone for children.  Which is where this quote from your blog really is important:

    The man who swore to be ‘never cruel’, to ‘never give in’, killed 2.7 billion innocent children. As soon as the conflict is set in that form, it becomes apparent that it can’t possibly fit into the structure of a long running family show.

    I’ve been watching AG Who as an adult, so it’s far too easy to forget the ‘family’ (i.e, could be read as ‘childrens’) aspect of the show at its genesis.  And you’re right – a protagonist who is painted as killing all of his planet’s people, from the very beginning of the re-booted show, is definitely problematic when gunning for the family audience.  (Verity Lambert, in one of the extras on Edge of Destruction, is still apologising decades later for giving Susan a huge pair of scissors to try to kill Ian and Barbara with.)

    And I also think it’s brilliant that you’ve brought Kazran from ‘A Christmas Carol’ in as a comparison explanation for TDotD:

    Kazran can’t ‘remember’ his young self being brought into the future to see the man he’d become; not when the changed timeline happens in his own personal present. If the changes happen in his personal past he does.


  25. @DickieGarvey

    the Time Lords and The Darleks seeing many horrible events but only the consequences of them actually being seen by the general populus

    Yes. And I suppose that, altering time being extremely difficult and sensitive, the Time Lords or Daleks might not get it exactly right. So events could be reversed, but not totally, leaving behind the shadows of alternate timelines– people missing, key events that therefore never happened. Someone might have the vague idea that there used to be a fountain in a certain place, or that they might have had a sister, or that they had been an artist instead of a wall-painter. If this happened often enough, it could become very confusing and nightmarish.

  26. @purofilion

    I remember that line from the End of Time, it was the descriptive statement regarding the Time War that resonated the most with me. But NotD let me see it from the viewpoint of the victimized non-Time Lord, non-Dalek, universe. They obviously know about the war, at least by the time of NotD. Cass is very clear on the damage and horror of it.

    The Furies are a great parallel. Philosophy is really just about the human condition, and it seems to me that that also describes Who at its best. Do you remember Joseph Campbell, The Hero with a Thousand Faces, and the Power of Myth? In that miniseries from the eighties, he talked about the mythology of Star Wars. Imagine the field day he could have had with Doctor Who! Unlike Lucas, I don’t think that the early creators of Who realized that they were building a mythology, but certainly the AG writers are well aware of this. (Maybe a little too much so, at times! But better that than writing without any depth of meaning at all.)

    It’s as if only in balance -in a beginning, a middle and an end, lived once, do any species achieve true contentment. Too much ‘life’ and imbalance and misery is the result and endless wars to retain that ‘life’ are fought.

    I have always thought that regeneration was necessary in order for the Time Lords to emotionally survive their very long lives. It seems to me that they would see so much, lose so much, over such a long life (because even within one body, they don’t seem to have the physical limitations of humans) that only a complete renewal would keep them from insanity. Either the ennui or arrogance of a Time Lord who never left Gallifrey (we saw lots of examples of that in the old series), or the guilt and loss of someone more proactive, like the Doctor; either would become intolerable eventually. Hence the need for a reset button. Regeneration usually does the Doctor a world of good, he seems generally to come back in a very positive frame of mind!

    Of course, we are now well off topic!   😮  Is there a more appropriate place for rambling about underlying themes, and broader ideas such as philosophy, mythology, divine madness, etc.?

  27. a protagonist who is painted as killing all of his planet’s people, from the very beginning of the re-booted show, is definitely problematic when gunning for the family audience.

    @Shazzbot – to speak up for RTD, when he wrote the first series of the reboot, he wasn’t gunning for a family audience. He was gunning for any audience. He’s said quite a few times that nobody was thinking about the second series; they were just hoping to get to the end of the first.

    Steven Moffat’s spoken about that first series and it sounds a bit like ‘we threw the Who kitchen sink at it and hoped something would be popular’. 🙂

    That said, RTD’s had characters killing kids more than once; I suspect he’s exploring a utilitarian ‘greatest good of the greatest number’ morality. Killing a child is terrible – but is it justifiable if it’s the only way to save a greater number of children? Steven Moffat, otoh, seems to have just delivered a resounding NO! It’s never justifiable. It’s always evil. And a hero is someone who can work out the way to avoid it (even if he does have to take the long way round).

  28. @Phaseshift – I’m not certain if I ever said it here, but I thought when The Name of The Doctor opened with two TARDIS repairmen that Moffat was interested in the everyday Gallifreyans rather than the mad Time Lords. That’s certainly carried on in The Day of The Doctor: we see no mad Time Lords. We do see Time Lords rather than ordinary Gallifreyans (the War Council), but they’re a perfectly sane General Staff trying desperately to defend their planet. The General even agrees with the Doctor when he realises that the Doctor’s plan is their one last chance.

    Thematically, that agreement is very important: it’s been clear in stories such as The Doctor’s Wife that what the Doctor wanted most of all was for one of his own people to tell him that his choice was the right one. That he really did have no other choice.

    Now he’s finally found that ‘other choice’ – and the last words he hears from Gallifrey is “Do it, Doctor! Just do it! Do it!”

    There was another Gallifreyan on the planet agreeing that, in these desperate circumstances, this was the only option. After the eight years and seven series of the New Who, he finally has his forgiveness from his own people.

  29. Indeed @Arbutus I loved Campbell -I had to re-order the book because I lost my copy (or lent it to an avid reader). What a compassionate man and a delicious writer. Another one to look out for is Robert Bly (politics aside). His vivisection of mythology, men, women, children, life and death is wonderful and the legends upon which he draws are remarkable.

    A topic on the mythology related to the Doctor? ooh yes please. But I wouldn’t presume to ask for anything yet, I’m just a newbie!

    With the time lords and their necessary regens, yes, I would agree.  I think my comments sprung from a personal fear of eternity concepts/themes. These things have always made me nervous. So, what ends up being my favourite show? Dr Who. Mmm 🙂

    It’s interesting to witness the personalities of the Doctor and his brinkmanship with the daleks. Or really, that of the timelords.

    I enjoyed Dr Hartnell’s inscrutable qualities as much as I did the forlorn Hurt Doctor, clad only in weariness and totally fed up. I liked the boisterous quality of Eccleston and Tennant, too. Other than the timelords’ need for regeneration, the change of casting creates its own mystery and excitement.

    As the writers above have noted, the last two ‘episodes’ have featured the people of Gallifrey -the War Council, not the ‘mad’ high council -with “their own plans that aren’t working” or something to that effect as well as the individuals; the father, mother, children. A necessary perspective after all the “fear me I killed them all” statements and the understanding we now have about why that choice seemed necessary. As  @Bluesqueakpip said (eloquently as always), “He finally has forgiveness from his own people.”

    I liked the BadWolf interface. For some reason as she stomped about like a Nazi saying “no more” (in “gravelly posh” voice) and that was edited and repeated close up, my 11 year old (who has watched the occasional ‘M’ show) found that piece of tele terrifying! On my second viewing, so did I! Not sure why….

    purofilion. G’night all, and thank you.

  30. @bluesqueakpip Am I right in understanding that you firmly believe there were at least 2 different timestreams?

    Great theorising but I’m afraid I can’t agree 😛

    Clara always saved the Doctor, the Moment always guided the Doctors to not press the button, Gallifrey never burned, the Doctors all forgot.

    I guess my reason for not wanting to believe in the two streams are because the Moment (and the TARDIS) sees all time happening at once. Why would ‘she’ need to let one stream run it’s course?

    The other possibility is that The War Doctor pressed the button and burnt Gallifrey infinite times. This action could mean that he actually died and ‘time’ resurrected him to make the choice again (as eluded to in The End of Time). The Doctor would have memories of the burning but it was immediately undone until he pressed the BRB again. The Moment could be trying every possible future to find a solution that breaks the loop. Once Clara breaks that loop The War Doctor is no more and time continues as we, the viewer, has seen on screen.

    So for me it’s 1 stream or infinite streams.

    P.S. Do people think the Gallifrey Falls/No More painting is literally a hand-painted creation? I thought it was a gadget that just looks like a painting, like a lock screen on a phone/tablet

    P.P.S. @purofilion It was me that proposed the Silent monsters were escaped Timelords 🙂

  31. I guess my reason for not wanting to believe in the two streams are because the Moment (and the TARDIS) sees all time happening at once. Why would ‘she’ need to let one stream run it’s course?

    @thommck According to the ‘many worlds’ theory of quantum physics, every decision will create different universes, according to the different possibilities.

    Now, in the Big Red Button conundrum, there are only two possibilities. Either you press the Big Red Button (Gallifrey burns) – or you don’t.

    Therefore there are only two time streams. In Time Stream Blue, the Doctor presses the Button. In Time Stream Main, he doesn’t. As is proper in a drama, this is partly caused by the Doctor’s own character; he will only choose to not press the Button if he knows or suspects that there’s a better way. He only chose to press the Button because it was the ‘least damaging’ option: one planet versus the entire universe.

    So you could say that in allowing two time-streams, the Moment has sneakily bypassed quantum theory. (She’s a machine created by Time Lords; why shouldn’t she?) She’s allowed this major decision to create its two time-streams, but in such a way that the ‘bad’ time-stream (where Gallifrey burns) becomes the private hell of the Doctor. That private hell lasted 400 odd years, until he finally makes the right decision and rejoins the main time-stream. That way, there’s now only one universe – and Gallifrey stands.

    I cheerfully admit that the ‘only one universe’ theory is currently in a state of quantum uncertainty with the ‘there are two time-streams’ theory. Like Schrodinger’s cat, we’re not going to know which theory is alive or dead until the box gets opened (possibly at Christmas). But I’m going by the three series long concentration on ‘Time Can Be Changed’, ‘Alternative Time Streams’ and ‘Two Sets of Memories’. There’s also more dopplegangers than you can shake two sticks at. To me, that suggests that there are two time-streams operating here; the Doctor’s personal past has been changed. 

    Re: the P.S. – the special effects people were told to make it look like an oil painting.

  32. @bluesqueakpip You argue very persuasively but…
    What about the time stream where the Daleks won the Time War,
    or the time stream where the moment wasn’t invented,
    or the time stream where the Doctor wiped out all of the Daleks in Genesis of the Daleks and the war never even began?
    What if Clara, like Captain Jack, is a fixed point herself, and if she hadn’t have stopped the Doctor then maybe Reapers would have flown in to clean up the mess and make sure that the Doctor didn’t press the BRB?

  33. @thommck – I suspect all those (and more) happened in the Time War itself. 🙂 They were then readjusted by Clara. 😈

    Don’t go too far into Many Worlds theory – you do get an infinite number of universes. You also get a severe headache.

    In drama, you also have the problem that characters can’t make decisions according to their character and backstory (since every decision will make a universe, characters end up having no choice but to make every decision.). This is technically known as a bugger when writing stories; a character making essentially random decisions which will have no real consequence is a story-killer.

    Essentially, you can say that when everything can-and-will happen, nothing is of any real consequence. If the Doctor’s story is depicted as the necessary outcome of quantum mechanics, it’s dull. But if you show it as a real choice, with real consequences, that’s interesting.

    Now to me, having the Doctor’s character development over the past eight years be based on a mistaken impression of events would be a bit of a cheat. Moffat’s a better writer than I am, so he may have thought up a way round it.  But looking at the way he’s written the show in the past (especially A Christmas Carol, which I really think was a ‘rehearsal’ for the 50th Anniversary show), I’d say he’s taken the path that the Doctor (or Clara) has changed his past. That’s what happened in Christmas Carol and Day of The Doctor, anyway.


  34. @Bluequeakpip I agree with your previous episode examples that there can be two timestreams, fighting each other to become the true universal stream. I think the Doctor thought he could have pressed the button but, from watching the anniversary special, I got the impression that he never did (Oswin’s Razor 😉 ).

    I don’t see it as a “cheat” because he still had all of those emotions afterwards, they guided him in his actions and made him who he is now. I could liken it to being diagnosed with a terminal illness but then, near the end of your time, being cured. The trauma would stay with you, even though you technically don’t need to worry about it anymore.

    I don’t think there is a problem with us both having different views and I don’t think we will ever find out for definite, too many rules mean future stories can’t be as flexible.

  35. @Bluesqueakpip

    Essentially, you can say that when everything can-and-will happen, nothing is of any real consequence. If the Doctor’s story is depicted as the necessary outcome of quantum mechanics, it’s dull. But if you show it as a real choice, with real consequences, that’s interesting.

    I think that I agree with this. In any time travel story we’ve ever seen or read, if you assume that events only happened in one way, then there is no suspense and really, no story. I suppose that’s not so much a science-based view as a rhetoric-based one, but we are dealing with a work of fiction (I think!). I prefer to believe that the post-Time War doctors’ suffering wasn’t for nothing, but was caused by an event that actually took place, and therefore the War Doctor’s redemption was more meaningful.

    He only chose to press the Button because it was the ‘least damaging’ option: one planet versus the entire universe.

    I actually wish that we could have seen more of the War Doctor’s journey from his rebirth as a warrior in The Night of the Doctor, to the point where he is willing to countenance this “greatest good of the greatest number” approach to life and death. It’s not a philosophy that we have usually seen the Doctor holding to in the past. I wonder what other “acts of war” the Hurt Doctor committed that aged him so much, before getting the point of pushing the button and ending it all? It could have made a fascinating, if tragic, story, but telling it would obviously have required far more time than the episode had available.

  36. @Bluesqueakpip (@thommck)

    Just catching up now I have had the chance to watch the show via DVD. As ever, I think your explanation is excellent and very informative. However, I wondered if it was really necessary to create the two separate time streams and everything that follows at all.

    If I conjecture that the time stream shown by the show always happened (ie Gallifrey was never destroyed at the end of the timewar, because the War Doctor never used the Moment and all 13 Doctors acted to just disappeared by the Doctor – leaving the Dalek fleet to self-destroy – in the way that the Day of the Doctor showed) then would anything we know pre-DotD require changing at all from that shown us since AG Who started ?

    It seems not to me. To the universe as a whole Gallifrey disappears along with the Dalek fleet (presumed destroyed) and is otherwise unaffected. The timewar and all the destruction stops either case and I doubt there were any near by witnesses at the battle site in the circumstances.

    In respect of the Doctor himself, just what does he remember of the event ? The story makes it clear that the War Doctor wont remember anything that happened once the three Doctors met up:

    WARRIOR: I won’t remember this, will I?
    DOCTOR: The time streams are out of sync. You can’t retain it, no.
    WARRIOR: So I won’t remember that I tried to save Gallifrey rather than burn it. I’ll have to live with that. But for now, for this moment,  I am the Doctor again. Thank you. Which one is mine? Ha!
    (He goes into the shabbiest Tardis. It dematerialises.)


    So I have to ask just what will Doctor 10 (Eccleston now the war Doctor is rehabilitated) remember ? I would suggest nothing except he obtained the Moment [presumably D9 recovered it rather than left in behind], that Gallifrey is gone, presumed destroyed along with the Daleks and the Time War is over. His guilt grows and overwhelms him, as it did for his subsequent incarnations up until the point where the Moment brings D9, 11 and 12 together when the War Doctor activates the sentient weapon.

    I’m sure there’s something obvious I’ve missed that negates this concept, but I can’t see what it is right now 🙂 I don’t think D11 (Tenant) remembers the Day of the Doctor either in the same way Hurt Doctor doesn’t, but its clear that the show doesn’t clarify this.

    The biggest problem I have otherwise, is that its clear to me, that D10 (Eccleston) really has to really believe that he destroyed Gallifrey, the Daleks and ended the Timewar. Without this, his PTSD damaged personality really ought to have been different from that we know from AG Who.  Without this being true, then it seems to me that the whole of AG Who would need to be rewritten and of course D10, D11 and D12’s personalities would have been completely different from what we know. This is what you consider to be true as well (I think). I just don’t think the “past” needs to be changed to deliver the result we’ve been shown.

    Other than this, everything you have written in the blog seems right to me. I think the Moment, as you explain it seeing all of time – maybe – allows the WarDoctor to benefit from x hundred years of “what should I have done different” thought by the Doctor post end of timewar to inform the War Doctor’s decision (to use the Moment to end Gallifrey and the Daleks) and to be aided to act different. Hindsight becomes a powerful tool for a non-time linear Doctor, who breaks all the rules to do the right thing all along.



  37. @Nick, you seem to be answering your own questions!

    From my understanding, the War Doctor forgets and everything after stays the same.

    However, you did get me thinking about the Daleks. Particularly all of the ones that weren’t around Gallifrey when it disappeared. What do they think happened? Presumably, any remaining Daleks would have discovered Gallifrey (and the Timelords) had vanished without a trace whereas bits of smashed up Dalek are floating around where it used to be. They effectively had one-up on the Doctor and they didn’t even know it!

    Who’s up for re-watching all AG episodes featuring the Daleks to see how their behaviour gels with what we now know?!?

  38. @Thommck

    LOL – just setting out the premise and then explaining why I thought it could fly 🙂 .

    I agree with you here. I always thought the concept that everything disappeared when the Moment was used slightly disturbing, especially as AG Who has shown us many Daleks somehow survived to rebuild and at least 1 TimeLord (the Master). I guess you have to start with the idea that the Daleks concentrated their entire force to destroy Gallifrey unless the Moment itself eliminates the entire species from Time from day 0 onwards (but then the Time War wouldn’t have happened would it ?) apart from the Doctor/Tardis who is outside time protected by the Weapon itself. Either way I’ve no idea what the conception is for the Moment, so I can only speculating on limited knowledge. Mind you, I think the concept of a “Time War” affecting the Universe (or a large chunk of it) is difficult to comprehend. DotD disnt really show any of this to be honest.




  39. hmmmm…. @Nick, are you saying that instead of the “confusing [bowler hat] diagram” we would instead have a straight black line but with a few dashes between ‘The Moment’ and ‘Regenerates as ‘Ecclestone’, where HurtDr jumps into the other Dr’s timestreams (hm, these would be loops from the Moment) and then all converge ‘back’ on the Moment timestream, but where doctors forget what happened during the dashes…?

    hm, I can see now why Bluesqueakpip draws the diagrams…

    but I think I agree. Though I may just have confused myself!

  40. @Nick – well, one thing that would be different would be the Tennant/Smith Doctors’ joint comment:

    The Smith Doctor: Because the alternative is burning.
    Tennant Doctor: And I’ve seen that.
    The Smith Doctor: And I never want to see it again.

    There’s also the title of the painting: as @Juniperfish points out on Dan Martin’s latest blog, Gallifrey falls no more does rather imply that Gallifrey did, at one point, fall.

    If you don’t like the idea of the past being changed, that’s okay. It is, however, a basic premise of Doctor Who under Moffat’s reign; Time Can Be Changed – so I don’t have any kind of problem with the idea.

    When we started watching, in 2005, Gallifey had fallen in fire and the Doctor had killed his entire people. When we finished watching The Day of The Doctor, on November 23rd 2013, Gallifrey had been placed in stasis.

    @thommck – given that the Eccleston Doctor thought he’d also killed all the Daleks, I think we can guess that the ‘reserve force’ was in action around Gallifrey. The only Daleks left were what you might call the ‘ark’ Daleks – the one tasked with the survival of the Dalek race if the Time Lords should repel the attack and destroy the main Dalek army.

  41. @Bluesqueakpip

    Arguably changing the past (even if it is to make the past we know today happened, happen) is at the heart of Who, so I don’t see this as an issue of my liking or disliking the concept, although (of course) my personal opinion on some of the things Moffat (and RTD before him) have done aren’t to my taste (as an adult. I’m sure as a kid I wouldn’t have given two hoots).

    However, I am interested by the consequences of changing the Doctor’s past (everything you describe here makes perfect sense to me) if that happened and whether it is possible to interpret the DofD in a way that what happened in the show, had always happened, just that the Doctor didn’t comprehend this.

    To specifics:

    When I watched the programme, I had assumed that Doctor 11 (tenant) was talking metaphorically when he said he’s seen Gallifrey burn rather than literally he had seen it (the he being Hurt or Eccleston Doctor had seen it happen). I certainly agree that the name of the painting does rather indicate the history of Gallifrey changed, but the way this was set up (War Doctor graffiti “No more”) and the supposed name of the painting when we first saw it (“Gallifrey falls”) seemed ambiguous to me while watching.

    I agree Moffet does like to play around with changing the past using his Timey-Wimey story arcs, and the idea D9/D11/D12 have changed their collective past is entirely possible. However, I don’t think we can see this as being a consequence free change though.

    Let me put this thought to you though. Hurt Doctor regenerates into Doctor 10 right at the end of the time war. Eccleston comes to and finds Gallifrey disappeared (not burning), the Daleks destroyed, relieved to find he hadn’t caused the Genocide of the Gallifreyans and the Daleks. Surely he would be elated rather than depressed and traumatised ?

    In that situation, I think you have to conclude that D10, D11 and D12 would have quite different personalities that we have seen. This makes me ask whether any of them have behaved the way we saw them do since 2005 ? For me, this change in the Doctor’s past should be fundamental to his personality. You cant really say that about any of the other History rewrites Moffat has shown us. Once you start to think along those lines, then you end up asking questions like

    • Would Madame Kovarian and her Silence will fall conspiracy even have happened ?
    • Would the Doctor/Rose relationship been the same as we saw ?
    • Would the Doctor 11 and 12’s attitude to their companions/assistants (which is clearly different than in BG Who) have been the same ?

    Maybe that is what Moffat wants us to believe, but then I have to ask whether we shouldn’t expect to see a Doctor with a completely different personality in the Christmas Special ?

    My questions therefore remains – Did D12 et al change the past or not ?

    1. If they did, then did any AG Who Doctor realise that Gallifrey had been removed from the Universe and didn’t burn ?
    2. If AG Doctor’s before DotD didn’t realise that Gallifrey had disappeared and not burned, then do we need to infer that the past changed or can we say that the past always happened the way we know now ?

    Sorry for being so long winded about this.



  42. @Whisht

    Yes, that is the question I’m asking.

    It seems to me that you can conclude that the straight black line always happened (but there was a key point where the Moment brought three Doctors together and as a consequence (in a moment of creative invention) Doctor 12 (Smith) saw how he (in the form of Hurt) could avoid genocide, which was the only other viable alternative) or go with the Bowler hat diagram.

    Both ideas appear to work to me. In that case, I am asking is there “evidence” which can rule out one possibility in favour of the other.


  43. @Nick – you’re going into an awful lot of detail – are you sure you don’t want to put this alternate version into a blog post of your own?

    Then we could have a blog on the ‘two time streams theory’ and one on the ‘one time stream theory’.

  44. @Bluesqueakpip

    I was interested in whether you thought it was a possible solution in the same way the time change “bowler hat” you’ve presented clearly is. If you think the concept is worth wider discussion then I could see whether I could format the concept as a blog post next week. Since I write at work generally first thing over a coffee, it might take a while to do :).



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