Story arcs in Doctor Who
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In both the original run and since the 2005 revival, the long-running British science fiction television programme Doctor Who has featured a number of story arcs. A story arc is an extended story which takes place over a large number of episodes or serials, characterised by a gradual unfolding of plot points and introduction of narrative devices which come together in the arc's climax and dénouement. While character arcs exist over the course of many stories, they do not necessarily take the shape of an expanded story arc.
References to these arcs have since been made in both Doctor Who and its spin-offs such as Torchwood. Early seasons would feature story arcs that made up extended serials such as The Trial of a Time Lord but also loose umbrella titles such as The Key to Time. The new series has continued this trend with the introduction of "arc words" that are recognisable to the larger viewing audience such as "Bad Wolf", "Torchwood" and "Mr Saxon", which also constitute the story arcs for individual seasons.
- 1 Classic series
- 2 Revived series
- 3 Other arcs
- 4 Other media
- 5 References
- 6 External links
The classic series sporadically featured loose story arcs at several times in the series, often spanning half of a season or a full season. Several story arcs were later released on DVD as boxsets; for example, The Key to Time
Season 8 of Doctor Who involved the first appearance of the Doctor's arch enemy, the Master, portrayed then by Roger Delgado. Every story in the season involved the Master. At the very beginning, the Doctor is warned by a Time Lord that the Master, a convicted criminal and enemy of the Doctor's, has escaped from Gallifrey and may come to Earth seeking revenge. This proves to be the case. During this first story, the Doctor sabotages the Master's TARDIS and so traps the Master on Earth in the 20th century. The Master later retrieves a missing component and escapes – only to return subsequently as a prisoner of Axos. He is next encountered in the future on an alien world and finally returns to Earth; in both of these last two adventures, his intention is to subvert an ancient power source, having previously stolen secret files on such things from the Time Lords. At the very end of the season (in The Dæmons), UNIT finally captures the Master and takes him into custody.
The Ark in Space
The majority of season 12 features an ongoing plot involving a space station in orbit around Earth, which is visited in two different time periods, as well as the temporary disappearance of the TARDIS, and culminated with an emergency call from UNIT leading into the season 13 opener.
The Key to Time
The Key to Time is the umbrella title that links all six serials of Season 16 of Doctor Who. The arc was originally conceived of by producer Graham Williams, who had proposed it as part of his application for the producer's job in 1976. The name refers to the powerful artifact whose segments the Doctor, Romana and K-9 are searching for during the season.
A figure calling himself the White Guardian commissions the Doctor and K9, assisted by a new companion, the Time Lady Romana, to find the six segments of the Key to Time, a cosmic artifact resembling a perfect cube that maintains the equilibrium of the universe. Since it is too powerful for any single being to possess, it has been split into six different segments and scattered across space and time, disguised by the raw elemental power within them into any shape or size. However, since the forces balancing the universe are so upset, the White Guardian needs to recover the segments of the Key to stop the universe so that he can restore the balance. The White Guardian also warns the Doctor of the Black Guardian who also wishes to obtain the Key To Time for his own purposes.
The first segment is disguised as a lump of Jethryk on the planet Ribos. The second is the planet Calufrax, shrunk to miniature size by the space-hopping pirate planet Zanak. The third is the Great Seal of Diplos, which has been stolen by a criminal of that planet. The fourth is part of a statue on the planet Tara. The fifth has been consumed by the squid Kroll, causing it to turn into a gigantic monster. The final segment is a female humanoid – Princess Astra.
In the final episode, the Black Guardian, disguised as the White Guardian, attempts to take the Key from the Doctor. However, the Doctor sees through the figure's charade and orders the segments of The Key to Time to once again become scattered across all of time and space, bar the sixth, which he reinstates as Princess Astra. Afterward, the Doctor decides to install a device called a randomizer into the TARDIS' navigation system for a period of time to make his following voyages unpredictable to evade the Black Guardian.
The complete running time for all six serials in the arc is 633 minutes.
The Black Guardian returns in the three serial arc, The Black Guardian Trilogy involving the 5th Doctor and Vislor Turlough.
The Key to Time is available on DVD in North America and was released on region 2 (Europe) DVD on 24 September 2007.
Key 2 Time is a series of CD audio plays released by Big Finish Productions. Over the course of three stories, the Fifth Doctor must hunt down the redistributed segments of the Key, which are decaying the dimensions around them. The Doctor soon discovers the decay is a direct result of his actions in the first search for the Key, his attempt to assemble the Key using a makeshift sixth segment disrupting the balance between the segments and causing them to decay. The story ends with the Key being reassembled and the Doctor subsequently destroying the Key in the Chaos Pool where it was first made, undoing the damage it has caused and preventing anything from ever using the Key again. The three stories are The Judgement of Isskar, The Destroyer of Delights and The Chaos Pool.
All serials of season 18 are linked together by the central theme of entropy. Within the season, the stories Full Circle, State of Decay and Warriors' Gate form the sub-arc known as The E-Space Trilogy. The trilogy saw the TARDIS accidentally pass through a Charged Vacuum Emboitment (CVE) from its normal universe, N-Space, into a smaller one called E-Space. The trilogy served to introduce Adric as a companion in the first story Full Circle and marked the departure of companions Romana and K-9 Mark II in the final story Warriors' Gate. The season culminated in Logopolis where we learn that the CVEs were created by the Logopolitans to combat an Entropy field that ends up growing out of control due to interference by the Master, destroying Logopolis and threatening to destroy the entire universe.
New Beginnings; or, The Return of the Master
Overlapping the entropy arc are these three stories which cover the regeneration into Peter Davison's Fifth Doctor, chronicles the Master as he attempts to procure a new body, and return to his old patterns of trying to conquer the universe and defeat the Doctor. The trilogy was also used to introduce Nyssa of Traken and Tegan Jovanka as the Doctor's new companions. They were released on DVD in 2007 under the title New Beginnings.
The Black Guardian
During these three stories in season twenty, the Black Guardian tries to have the Doctor assassinated for denying him the Key to Time. To this end, he employs the mysterious extraterrestrial English boys' school student Vislor Turlough who eventually joins the TARDIS crew.
The Trial of a Time Lord
The Trial of a Time Lord is the title of the fourteen-part serial that encompasses the entirety of Season 23. In the serial, the Sixth Doctor stands accused of transgressing the First Law of Time, with adventures from his past, present, and future examined and used as evidence of guilt or innocence.
Fenric is a loose story arc covering Ace's time in the TARDIS with the Doctor from the end of Season 24 to near the end of Season 26. It involved a malevolent entity known as Fenric, that was beaten by the Doctor in a game of chess some unknown time in the past and banished to a different dimension. Since then, he had been setting up a series of events leading to his return, and those that are influenced by these are considered the "wolves of Fenric". One such example is Ace; Fenric created the time storm that brought Ace to the planet of Dragonfire so that she will become the Doctor's companion, and later uses her as a pawn not only to assure that Ace's own timestream is preserved but as to defeat the Doctor (The Curse of Fenric). Fenric was also responsible for giving Lady Peinforte, an evil 17th-century sorceress in Silver Nemesis, the power to travel through time. This was also part of the initial story setup for the Cartmel Masterplan which never came to full realization.
In the revived series of Doctor Who, story arcs span an entire series. Under Russell T Davies, these arcs involved a repeated phrase that generally went unnoticed by the characters, only receiving any actual story-based attention when they were explained in the finale. In contrast, Steven Moffat's arcs have been evolving storylines woven through individual episode plots, with entire episodes dedicated to more information given to the characters.
The phrase "Bad Wolf" first appeared in episode 1 of the 2005 series, when the Nestene Consciousness uttered it to The Doctor, redubbed more clearly for the DVD releases. In episode 2, the Moxx of Balhoon spoke the phrase, "Indubitably, this is the Bad Wolf scenario", and then the phrase appeared in every story of that series thereafter. It also occasionally appeared in the 2006 to 2008 series and even in 2013 as the show celebrated its 50th anniversary, as well as in online and print spin-off media; in the latter, it often constitutes an in-joke or a continuity nod. It was eventually revealed that "Bad Wolf" was actually Rose Tyler, who had gained godlike powers after absorbing the energy of the time vortex at the heart of the TARDIS, while attempting to get back to Satellite 5 to help The Doctor defeat the Daleks in "The Parting of the Ways", which granted her omnipotent reality warping abilities.
When she arrived, Rose destroyed the entire Dalek fleet, including the Dalek Emperor, and brought Captain Jack Harkness, who had been killed by the Daleks, back to life; he became immortal as a result. She also took the words "Bad Wolf" from the sign in Satellite 5 and spread them through all space and time as clues for her past self to return to Satellite 5 and save the Doctor (i.e., to do what she had just done).
The Doctor then had to extract the time vortex from Rose before it killed her. He did this by kissing her and absorbing the energy himself, which saved her life but caused all the cells in his body to start decomposing, so that he had to regenerate.
When The Moment takes the shape of Rose Tyler in "The Day of the Doctor", she also calls herself Bad Wolf.
I am the Bad Wolf. I create myself. I take the words. I scatter them ... in time, and space. A message to lead myself here.
— Rose Tyler, in "The Parting of the Ways".
The 2006 series featured "Torchwood" as its arc word, an anagram of "Doctor Who" that was used as the codename for the new series of Doctor Who while filming its first few episodes and on the 'rushes' tapes to ensure they were not intercepted.
The word first appeared in Doctor Who in the 2005 series episode "Bad Wolf", as an answer in the game show, The Weakest Link. The actual "Torchwood" arc of Doctor Who spanned from "The Christmas Invasion" to "Doomsday". The word was seeded throughout the 2006 series as a means for the BBC to introduce the basis for a spin-off series, Torchwood, set in modern-day Cardiff and involving a mysterious organisation which investigates alien activities and crime. The series features John Barrowman as former companion Jack Harkness and premiered in October 2006. References to Torchwood have also since reappeared in Doctor Who. The Doctor and Rose repeatedly encountered mentions of "Torchwood" throughout the series until the episodes "Army of Ghosts" and "Doomsday", which included Torchwood as an integral part of the plot. Here the Doctor meets the organisation, and learns they have been monitoring him (his Tenth incarnation) since his encounter with Queen Victoria in "Tooth and Claw". As a conclusion of the story arc, the Torchwood Institute's London branch was destroyed. In addition to episodes of the 2006 series, the organisation was given a similar treatment to "Bad Wolf" in spin-off material such as web literature, webcasts and novels.
The name "Mr Saxon" has appeared several times, beginning with a newspaper headline in "Love & Monsters" in Series 2 (2006), and continuing with a mention of him in dialogue in "The Runaway Bride" (2006), where it was established as the new arc word for Series 3 (2007). In "Smith and Jones", the first episode of the third series, his name is mentioned in a radio broadcast stating; "It all just proves Mr. Saxon right, we're not alone in the universe." as well as a "Vote Saxon" poster is seen in the background when Martha Jones is invited into the TARDIS by the Doctor; an identical poster had previously been seen in the Torchwood episode "Captain Jack Harkness". The arc was more thoroughly explained in "The Sound of Drums" (2007), which connected the rise of the mysterious Mr Saxon as a new Prime Minister to an old enemy of the Doctor's, as well as the fall of Harriet Jones (Penelope Wilton) from office at the Doctor's own hands after she ordered Torchwood to shoot down the Sycorax spaceship during "The Christmas Invasion".
In "Utopia", when the resurrected Master (John Simm) attempted to steal the TARDIS, the Doctor used his sonic screwdriver to lock the TARDIS to no more than 18 months prior to its last location, which was April 2007. Arriving in Britain during the power vacuum left by Harriet Jones' departure, the Master created an alias for himself as "Mr Harold Saxon" ("Mister Saxon" is an anagram for "Master No. Six", "No." being short for "Number"), and quickly rose to prominence as Secretary of State for Defence; he redesigned the cabinet rooms destroyed during "World War Three", established the "Archangel network" of satellites, and commissioned the UNIT aircraft carrier Valiant. Using the Archangel network, Saxon sent subliminal messages encoded in the sound of drums to cause the British people to trust him and ensure his election as Prime Minister. The satellite signal also counteracted the Doctor's telepathic ability to sense the presence of another Time Lord on Earth.
The Master began setting traps for the Doctor through his companion Martha (Freema Agyeman) and her family. He funded Professor Lazarus's genetic rejuvenation experiments in "The Lazarus Experiment", and ensured that Lazarus hired Martha's sister Tish (Gugu Mbatha-Raw) to lure the Doctor. Using the events of "The Lazarus Experiment" at LazLabs as a catalyst, he ensured Martha's mother Francine's distrust of the Doctor, and manipulated her to trace Martha's phone calls on her superphone. When the Doctor, Martha and Jack (John Barrowman) return to Earth in 2008, the Master had established his identity as Mr Saxon, and married Lucy Saxon (Alexandra Moen). He ruled Earth for a year, but was eventually defeated when the world's remaining population — united by Martha's stories about the Doctor — psychically connected to the Doctor, enabling him to rejuvenate himself and overpower the Master.
Russell T Davies hinted in Doctor Who Magazine that the next arc word for Doctor Who was something spoken by The Master in the final two episodes of Series 3—"The Sound of Drums" and "Last of the Time Lords". He has since stated that there is no specific arc word, but each episode of Series 4 will have an element of the arc theme, which will carry through to the finale.
Four takes a somewhat different approach to the previous series. Russell T Davies says: "You've got to watch and listen closely. It's been seeded for a long time, with small but vital references going all the way back to series one. And remember the Master, in 'Last of the Time Lords', mentioning the Medusa Cascade? Oh, that's going to come back to haunt us..."—Doctor Who Magazine #394[clarification needed]
Series 4 is seeded with allusions to different planets disappearing. In "Partners In Crime", Miss Foster reveals that the Adipose breeding planet (Adipose 3) was "lost". Donna also makes a passing reference to all of the bees on Earth disappearing. In "The Fires of Pompeii" the Pyroviles tell The Doctor that their home planet of Pyrovilia was "lost" ages ago. In the episode "Midnight", Dee Dee tells The Doctor that she wrote a paper on the lost moon of Poosh. The season's finale, the two-part story "The Stolen Earth" and "Journey's End", sees the climax of many references and events made over the course of the entire revived series. The disappearing bees are explained as bees being alien in origin and leaving the Earth in anticipation of its "theft" from space by Davros (Julian Bleach). The Doctor later reveals that the 27 missing planets (including the three referenced earlier) were a second out of sync with normal time and hidden in the Medusa Cascade, an area of space visited by the Doctor when he was, in his own words, "just a kid" – ninety years old.
"He will knock four times"
It was noted by Ood Sigma in "Planet of the Ood" (2008) that the Doctor's "song" would be ending soon. In reference to the Doctor's encounter with a man he believes to be his future regeneration, in "The Next Doctor", Russell T Davies commented to the Radio Times: "The Doctor finds himself staring at that inevitable day when his tenth incarnation must die." For the 2009–10 specials, beginning with "Planet of the Dead", a prophetic character tells the Doctor, "It is returning. It is returning through the dark, and then Doctor... oh but then... he will knock four times." Subsequently, in "The Wedding of Sarah Jane Smith" (a crossover with The Sarah Jane Adventures), the Trickster mentions that "the Gate" is waiting for the Doctor, foreshadowing the events of The End of Time. In "The Waters of Mars", the Doctor contemplates the four knocks; he tries to save the life of Adelaide Brooke (Lindsay Duncan), whose death is a fixed point in time, and tries to prove to himself that he is above the laws of time. Ood Sigma later appears to the Doctor, who takes it as a sign of his impending death; in defiance, he takes part in a number of unseen adventures between then and The End of Time to delay the eventuality.
In The End of Time, the Doctor tells Wilf (Bernard Cribbins), for the first time in explicit terms, that he has grown attached to the individual identity of his present incarnation. He fears a literal death, but adds that even regeneration would amount to a loss of self, and a "new man" taking over where he left off. What is returning through the dark is revealed to be Gallifrey, in furtherance of the Time Lords' design to escape the Time Lock and the Time War, and to destroy time itself as a means to ascend victorious beyond time and space. The Doctor defeats the Time Lords, and believes he has escaped his fate, but at the moment of relief, there are four hesitant knocks—Wilfred is trapped within a sealed radiation chamber, and can only be saved by the self-sacrifice of another. He switches places with Wilf (breaking the lock) and absorbs radiation that floods the chamber. His explosive regeneration occurs in the TARDIS after a protracted period of slow dying.
Cracks in the universe
In the first episode of Series 5, the Eleventh Doctor (Matt Smith) meets young Amelia Pond (Caitlin Blackwood) later Amy Pond (Karen Gillan) who shows him a scary crack in her bedroom wall, which he recognises as a crack in "the skin of the universe". This crack let Prisoner Zero enter Leadworth and affected Amy's life as she grew up, erasing her parents from history. As the Doctor, Amy and later Rory travel throughout series 5, they are unaware of similar-shaped cracks that appear, such as in the hull of Starship UK in "The Beast Below", on a wall in the Cabinet War Rooms in "Victory of the Daleks" and in a kitchen in "The Lodger". The Doctor also hides an image of the crack on the TARDIS monitor from Amy at the end of "The Eleventh Hour". Throughout his encounters with the cracks, the Doctor is warned about the Pandorica, which he dismisses as "a fairytale", and that "the Pandorica will open" and "silence will fall". The nature of the cracks is revealed in "Flesh and Stone", when the Doctor discovers that the crack is a result of a time explosion on 26 June 2010, the day of Amy's wedding to Rory (Arthur Darvill). They observe people consumed by the crack, erasing them from history; in "The Vampires of Venice", they learn of the crack's threat to other species and civilisations. In "Cold Blood", the cracks are shown to be more dangerous than previously thought, with Rory being absorbed by a crack underground and erased from history, causing Amy to forget him. Having pulled a piece of TARDIS shrapnel out of the crack, the Doctor worries for its future, believing that the cracks are a result of the TARDIS exploding.
In "The Pandorica Opens", River Song (Alex Kingston) recovers a work of Vincent van Gogh (Tony Curran) showing the destruction of the TARDIS; the Doctor connects the painting with the Pandorica. The Pandorica is revealed as a trap for the Doctor created by his greatest foes from elements of Amy's childhood imagination, designed to lock the Doctor away and prevent the timestream damage that they believe the Doctor will cause, even though the Doctor warns that the time explosion will be caused by the exploding TARDIS. When, in "The Big Bang", the TARDIS explodes with River inside, a sinister hissing voice is heard declaring 'silence will fall'. The explosion destroys every star in the universe and all goes dark, except for the Earth, which appears to have a sun keeping it alive. This light source is revealed to be the exploding TARDIS, having put itself into a time loop at the moment of its own destruction to save River Song. After exploiting a time paradox to escape the Pandorica, the Doctor uses the remaining atoms of the original universe inside the Pandorica to restore the universe to normal—comparing it to cloning a body from a single cell—and closes the cracks, albeit with him sealed away from the universe behind them. He is returned to the universe after Amy, during her wedding, recalls the last words the Doctor said to her as a child. After returning to the universe, the Doctor remains concerned at what caused the TARDIS to explode in the first place. The storyline continues in Series 6, focusing on the agency behind the TARDIS explosion and the recurring phrase "silence will fall".
Death of the Doctor
While previous series have used an "arc word" to tie episodes together, series 6 used a more serialised plot, encompassing a larger story over the entire run. Series 6 continues to explore the significance of the phrase "silence will fall", left unresolved from series 5.
Amy, Rory, and River Song witness the death of the Doctor on 22 April 2011 on the shores of Lake Silencio, Utah by the hands of an unknown figure in a spacesuit. The three later encounter a two-hundred years-younger version of the Doctor, and vow not to tell him about this death, though he inadvertently later learns this on his own. Through the miniaturised human crew of a time-traveling shape-shifting Teselecta robot, they learn this death is a "fixed point" in time. Meanwhile, the Doctor discovers that Amy, pregnant with her and Rory's child, has been kidnapped by Madame Kovarian and the Silence, a religious order that seek to prevent the Doctor from answering the oldest question in the universe, lest "silence will fall". The Doctor and his allies lead an assault to recover Amy and her newborn child, Melody, but find that Kovarian has set another trap; she has already taken Melody and with the Silence, plan to use her as a weapon against the Doctor. The Doctor, Amy, and Rory learn that Melody not only has Time Lord DNA due to being conceived aboard the TARDIS during Amy and Rory's wedding night, but will one day become River Song.
Melody is trained as an assassin, and sent back in time to be Amy and Rory's common childhood friend, Mels. Mels forces the Doctor to take them to the past so she can kill Adolf Hitler, but ends up wounded herself, and regenerates into the woman they recognise as River. River poisons the Doctor, but Amy, Rory, and the Teselecta convince her to break her conditioning and use her remaining regenerations to save the Doctor. The Doctor takes the unconscious River to the far future and leaves her there to heal. When she recovers, she becomes a student of archeology to track down the Doctor, but is soon recaptured by Kovarian and the Silence, and placed into the spacesuit at the bottom of Lake Silencio, awaiting the Doctor's arrival.
The Doctor, after leaving Amy and Rory on Earth for their own safety, travels the universe for two hundred years until he is ready to accept his death. When he goes to face the astronaut—now known to be River—she breaks her conditioning and harmlessly discharges her weapon, breaking the "fixed point" and causing time to stall, all of history happening at once. To restore time, the Doctor offers to marry River, when she tells him "I can't let you die, without knowing you are loved, by so many and so much – and by no one more than me", allowing their contact to reset time; this time River shoots the Doctor, killing him. Amy and Rory, after being left on Earth, initially believe the Doctor to be dead, but River appears to them and reveals that he had used the Teselecta to fake his death, and had used the pretense of marriage to show River this. The Doctor used the opportunity to drop out of sight, having become too important a figure in the universe, but is still reminded that he is still fated to answer the oldest question in the universe: Doctor Who?
The Impossible Girl
Similar to how the previous series focused on the Doctor and his death, this series focuses on Clara Oswald and the impossibility of her having multiple lives.
In "Asylum of the Daleks", the Doctor meets a woman called "Oswin Oswald" who has been turned into a Dalek by the inmates of a prison planet known as the Dalek Asylum. She dies, giving her life to save the Doctor, Amy and Rory when the Daleks destroy the asylum. Although the Doctor does not see her human face, he remembers her voice and love for making soufflés. She appears again in "The Snowmen", going by the first name "Clara", in Victorian London, and having no memory of their meeting. She manages to coax the Doctor out of the sulk he has been in since losing Amy and Rory in "The Angels Take Manhattan", and into resuming his adventures. She dies again, having been pulled from a great height by the Ice Governess, a creature brought to life by the evil Great Intelligence. The Doctor notices the resemblance to Oswin because of her love of soufflés, similar phrases, and her gravestone stating her full name – Clara Oswin Oswald.
Interested in finding out how someone can exist as separate, similar people in different points in time, the Doctor takes off to find a third version of Clara to take on as his companion. He succeeds in finding her in 2013 in "The Bells of Saint John", saving her from death this time. Over subsequent episodes, his investigations repeatedly turn up evidence that Clara is just an ordinary girl. The mystery surrounding her appearances is resolved when she and the Doctor go to the site of his future burial in "The Name of the Doctor", when Clara pursues the Great Intelligence into the Doctor's timestream. The Intelligence splits into many echoes which attempt to turn each of the Doctor's victories into defeats. Multiple incarnations of Clara work to repair the timeline by saving the Doctor countless times over his life. Her deed done, the Doctor later rescues Clara from his timestream.
The Time War
The Time War has been subject developed since the revival, known throughout the universe to have culminated between the Daleks launching an all-out attack on the home planet of the Time Lords, Gallifrey. The Doctor has discussed this war, claiming that both sides had been wiped out through space and time. The Doctor has implied that he has had a major role in its outcome, being the last known surviving Time Lord following it, resulting from a choice that he made that he regrets and wishes to forget. In "The Name of the Doctor", a previous unknown regeneration of the Doctor, the War Doctor, is introduced, who later is shown to be the Doctor's true ninth incarnation following the Eighth Doctor (shown in the short episode, "Night of the Doctor"). The Eighth Doctor originally was a conscientious objector to the Time War, but when he is fatally wounded trying to rescue a survivor of the War who rejected his help (Time Lords having become as despised as the Daleks due to the atrocities both sides have committed), he chose, with the aid of the Sisterhood of Karn, to become a warrior in his next regeneration to face this threat, recognizing he was no longer be worthy of the name "Doctor". The Doctor's subsequent incarnations buried this regeneration in the dark recesses of his mind, and would often allude to the Time War, but have no recollection of what they actually did to cause the events. In "The Name of the Doctor", in which the Doctor is forced to enter his own time stream, he meets the War Doctor who admits he was responsible for causing the events that wiped out Gallifrey, but did so in the name of achieving peace across the rest of the universe.
In "Day of the Doctor", on the last day of the Time War, it is revealed that the War Doctor was ready to use the Moment, a sentient weapon of mass destruction, to destroy Gallifrey and the Dalek fleet, but its consciousness challenges him over the morality of his actions and opens time fissures in order for him to meet his future regenerations (the Tenth and Eleventh Doctors) before he can activate it. The two future incarnations listen to the War Doctor's plight, and, both lacking memories of this time, agree that it is for the best and offer to help shoulder the burden. However, at the last moment and at the insistence of companion Clara Oswald, they come up with a different plan - to freeze Gallifrey in a fixed moment of time. This would cause the planet to disappear and the attacking Dalek fleet to destroy themselves; to the rest of the universe, it would still appear as if the two sides had wiped each other out. The three Doctors bring all their other incarnations - including their future thirteenth incarnation - and their respective TARDISes to manipulate Gallifrey into stasis (as the calculations necessary require centuries), and with the consent of the now-desperate Time Lords they are successful. As the Doctors say their goodbyes, the War Doctor and the Tenth Doctor realize they will forget these events to avoid a time paradox; the War Doctor will continue to believe that he attempted to destroy Gallifrey rather than save it, but accepts this as necessary. The Eleventh Doctor, now aware that Gallifrey still exists, makes it his mission to bring the planet back out of stasis.
Other story and character arcs comprise a number of other episodes across the programme's history:
- The Earth Exile term comprises all of seasons seven through nine. For breaking the Time Lord rules of non-interference the Second Doctor is stripped of the ability to use his TARDIS at the end of The War Games and exiled to Earth in the late 20th century, as well as being forced to regenerate. Throughout this arc, the Doctor is constantly attempting to get the TARDIS working again, with the Time Lords occasionally sending the TARDIS to certain locations where certain problems are taking place that they wish to assist in without appearing to get explicitly involved themselves. The Time Lords finally lift the sentence at the conclusion of The Three Doctors.
- The Dalek Civil War trilogy comprises three stories from three different Doctors. The civil war among the Daleks is established in the story Resurrection of the Daleks, where Davros conditions a pair of Daleks and a number of Human duplicates into being loyal to him and hostile to the Dalek Supreme. Revelation of the Daleks sees Davros building a whole new race of Daleks, only for a group of Daleks loyal to the Supreme to arrive and foil his plan. And finally, Remembrance of the Daleks sees the war come to an end in London, 1963, where Davros' Imperial Daleks destroy all the Renegade faction bar the Dalek Supreme in a battle for a Time Lord artefact called the Hand of Omega. Davros uses it, but it destroys his ship along with all the Imperial Daleks, and Skaro. The Doctor then uses logic to destroy the Supreme Dalek.
- The Cartmel Masterplan was a loose story-arc started in 1986 for the Seventh Doctor's era by script editor Andrew Cartmel. The 'masterplan' was to add subtle hints to the dialogue that there was some dark secret behind the Doctor. This was to add some mystery to the Doctor, since Andrew reckoned that all the mystery of the Doctor had been lost due to the information given on Gallifrey and the Time Lords. The arc was to be concluded in a story called Lungbarrow by Marc Platt, but it was originally rejected and replaced in 1989, and the production ceasing on Doctor Who after 1989 meant the arc was never resolved. However, the novel Lungbarrow and other novels from the New Adventures novels by Virgin Publishing were written to show how the arc would have been concluded.
- Face of Boe: Three stories centre on the end of the Earth, the planet called New Earth, and the enigmatic Face of Boe in a distant future. It spread across the episodes "The End of the World" (2005), "New Earth" (2006) and "Gridlock" (2007) which concluded with the Face's message to the Doctor that "You are not alone." The Face of Boe is also briefly mentioned in the episode "The Long Game" as part of a news report being reviewed by the editor, and is the answer to one of Rose's questions on the Weakest Link in the episode "Bad Wolf". In "Last of the Time Lords", Jack Harkness states that he once had the nickname "the face of Boe", implying that he might become the Face of Boe in the future.
- Cult of Skaro: Three two-part stories involve four members of an elite Dalek sect called the Cult of Skaro. These Daleks are different from normal Dalek drones in that they have individual names (Dalek Sec, Dalek Caan, Dalek Thay, and Dalek Jast), and are allowed to think creatively. The Cult first appeared in the series two finale "Army of Ghosts"/"Doomsday", and escaped being pulled back into the Void by executing an emergency temporal shift. The Doctor later discovered them in 1930s New York City in the series 3 story "Daleks in Manhattan"/"Evolution of the Daleks". Sec, Jast, and Thay were killed, but Caan again escaped via a temporal shift. In the fourth series finale "The Stolen Earth"/"Journey's End", it was revealed that Caan travelled into the first year of the Time War to rescue Davros, despite the Time War being time-locked; Caan survived, but exposure to the time vortex gave him prescience that drove him insane and eventually led him to turn against his own race.
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This was a story arc in the Eighth Doctor's earliest Big Finish adventures. The Doctor rescues Charley Pollard from the R101 crash, creating a paradox, however he can't bear to put her back on the R101. There are then clues in the second season of the Eighth Doctor's Adventures to something being wrong with history. Invaders from Mars, set in 1938, has deliberate errors there are 49 states in the United States rather than 48, and the CIA is present despite not being formed till 1947. In The Chimes of Midnight the paradox of Charley's survival, combined with the suicide of Edith after Charley's death has created a time loop that leads to a house coming to life. The Time of the Daleks reveals William Shakespeare fell down a time fissure, creating an alternate timeline without Shakespeare.
Neverland reveals Charley has become a gateway to the Antiverse, causing Anti-Time to infect the Universe. The Neverpeople, people erased from history by the Time Lords, plan to trick the Time Lords into allowing a casket of anti-time onto Gallifrey, which will infect the Eye of Harmony and destroy the Web of Time. However the Doctor materializes his TARDIS round the casket, saving the Web of Time. Charley helps him with this, as her existence saved the Web of Time the paradox and the resulting events become part of the Web of Time. The Doctor and TARDIS are infected by Anti-Time, the Doctor becoming violent and calling himself Zagreus, after a monster in Gallifreyan lore that represented Anti-Time. This leads into Zagreus (audio drama).
Divergent universe arc
Rassilon, founder of Time Lord Society, recruits the Zagreus-Doctor and Zagreus-TARDIS to destroy the Divergence, a race that would eventually eclipse the Time Lords, causing Rassilon to imprison them in another Universe. However Zagreus refuses to obey Rassilon and hurls him into the Divergent Universe. Pure zero matter stabilizes the anti-time. However there is still Anti-Time in the Doctor, causing him to be exiled to the Divergent Universe. In this Universe time travel isn't possible. Charley Pollard stows away on the TARDIS. It is revealed that the Anti-Time was removed from the Doctor by Rassilon when the Doctor entered the Divergent Universe, and Zagreus becomes a separate entity. Finally the Doctor leaves, with Rassilon remaining trapped in the time looped Universe.
In Blood of the Daleks, first episode of the New Eighth Doctor Adventures, Lucy Miller, a woman from Blackpool 2006, suddenly appears on the TARDIS when she is meant to be starting her first day at work. The Doctor discovers the TARDIS can't travel to this location and can't travel without Lucie, part of a Time Lord Witness Protection Programme. Meanwhile a Headhunter is hired to capture Lucie Miller, following her through time. Lucie is finally captured by the Headhunter in No More Lies (audio drama), which leads into Human Resources. The Time Lord Straxus appears and claims the Celestial Intervention Agency have been manipulating Lucie's life to prevent her turning into a right-wing dictator, however she got caught up in another Time Lord operation against the Cybermen. It is then revealed the wrong person had been taken, a girl interviewed on the same day as Lucy was the real project of the CIA.
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- "The Eleventh Hour", 2010 Doctor Who episode
- "The Big Bang", 2010 Doctor Who episode
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Steven Moffat: The whole point of the silence is next series."
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