Time War (Doctor Who)
|The Last Great Time War|
|Time Lords||Dalek Empire|
|Commanders and leaders|
|Time Lord Council
|Casualties and losses|
The Time War, more specifically called The Last Great Time War, is a conflict within the fictional universe of the British science fiction television series Doctor Who. The conflict pitted the Time Lords against the Daleks and culminated in the mutual destruction of both races, caused by the Doctor.
In the Doctor Who continuity the war occurs between the events of the 1996 film and the 2005 revived series. It is not directly depicted on-screen but has been frequently mentioned and alluded to since the show's return. The war's events and progression have never been fully explained. Short comments in various episodes act as hints, but the war was not thoroughly talked about until the 2007 series finale. The two-part special The End of Time (2009) provided further information.
The Last Great Time War
The Last Great Time War pitted the Time Lords of Gallifrey against the Daleks of Skaro. The specific incident that sparked the conflict remains unclear, but according to executive producer Russell T Davies, the origins dated back to the encounters of the Doctor with the Daleks. In Genesis of the Daleks (1975), the Time Lords—having foreseen the possibility of the Daleks conquering the universe—send the Fourth Doctor into the past in an attempt to avert the Daleks' creation, or affect their development to make them less aggressive.
In retaliation for this ultimately unsuccessful mission, the Daleks attempt to infiltrate the High Council of the Time Lords with duplicates of the Fifth Doctor in Resurrection of the Daleks (1984), followed by an open declaration of hostilities by one of the Dalek Emperors in Remembrance of the Daleks (1988).
Two specific events led up to the outbreak of the war: A peace treaty was attempted by President Romana under the "Act of Master Restitution" (a possible reference to the otherwise-unexplained trial of the Master on Skaro at the beginning of the 1996 television movie). This attempt was followed by the "Etra Prime Incident" (The Apocalypse Element), which some say "began the escalation of events". Weapons used by the Time Lords included Bowships, Black Hole Carriers and N-Forms (the last from Davies' 1996 New Adventures novel Damaged Goods), while the Daleks wielded "the full might of the Deathsmiths of Goth" (from the comic strip story Black Legacy by Alan Moore and David Lloyd, in Doctor Who Weekly #35-#38 (1980), and launched a massive fleet into the vortex (possibly in The Time of the Daleks).
The 'duration' of the war remains unclear, with figures ranging from at least several years to thirty thousand years, though such numbers are tentative, as time itself was bent and mutilated by the effects of the war. Several races with issues with the Time Lords, e.g. the Sontarans, wished to participate but were forbidden to do so.
Davros, the creator of the Daleks, also fought during the war after his creations, which had turned against him during Genesis of the Daleks but caused his revival in Destiny of the Daleks, rehabilitated him to a leadership position. In the first year of the War, Davros' command ship was seemingly destroyed at the Gates of Elysium after flying into the jaws of the Nightmare Child. Unbeknownst to the Doctor, who had tried to save him, Davros was rescued by Dalek Caan, who had escaped the events of Evolution of the Daleks (2007) via an emergency temporal shift.
The war resulted in countless millions dying endless deaths, as time travel was used by both sides to reverse battles that caused massive fatalities on both sides. These excesses of time warfare eventually led to the whole of the conflict becoming "time-locked", so that no time traveller could go back into it. The Doctor described the final days of the war as "hell", with "the Skaro Degradations, the Horde of Travesties, the Nightmare Child, the Could-Have-Been King with his army of Meanwhiles and Never-Weres" constituting particularly disturbing developments.
As the war progressed the Time Lords became increasingly aggressive and unscrupulous. At one point, they resurrected the Master, renegade Time Lord and nemesis to the Doctor, as they believed him to be the "perfect warrior for a time war". It's implied that they gave him a full new set of regenerations as was done to all Time Lords fighting in the war, and that the Eye of Harmony could be used as a means to gain more regenerations. However, after the Dalek Emperor gained control of the Cruciform, the Master deserted his post, used the chameleon arch to disguise himself as a human and escaped to a time period shortly before the end of the universe. Genetically a human, he escaped the destruction of all Time Lords as well as detection by the Doctor – who was unaware of his resurrection in the first place. The Master also remained ignorant of the latter phase and outcome of the war until told by the Doctor many years later.
Leadership among the Time Lords remained vague during the earlier phase of the war. Especially the role of the Doctor's former companion, Romana – President of the Time Lords according to later novels, audio dramas and comic series – was avoided. Ultimately, Rassilon, founder of the Time Lord society and its time travel technology who had discovered the secret of immortality, returned to assume leadership as Lord President, a position he was first to hold. Refusing the possibility of his civilization being destroyed by the Daleks, Rassilon prepared a doomsday scenario, the so-called "Ultimate Sanction". This genocidal scheme included sacrificing all of time itself, thereby destroying the Daleks and all life in the universe. The Time Lords themselves would have transcended into a non-corporeal collective consciousness that would be the only sentient form of life in existence. The Time Lords, apparently hardened by the horrors of war, gave near-unanimous support for this plan. When one of the Council said it may be better if Gallifrey was destroyed, Rassilon disintegrated her.
The Time War concluded with the mutual destruction of both belligerents and their respective planets. The Dalek fleet—reportedly ten million ships—was destroyed by the Doctor. Gallifrey is first described as having "burned" like Earth of the far future, and is "rocks and dust" as a result of the war, but then the Doctor admits that Time Lords and Daleks both burned together and that he personally ended the war, in an act which caused the Time Lords, the Daleks and Gallifrey to burn. The Doctor was, therefore, responsible for destroying his home planet. He is called "the killer of his own kind" by the beast of the Pit.
The specifics and what prompted the Doctor to such drastic measures were ultimately revealed in The End of Time (2009): The Doctor had discovered a way to end the war, described as "the Moment", when he became aware of Rassilon's "Ultimate Sanction". It remains unclear whether "the Moment" would always have resulted in the destruction of both antagonists together or whether the Doctor could have simply used it to destroy the Daleks and chose to destroy the Time Lords as well to prevent Rassilon's scheme. The Ninth Doctor apparently faced a similar situation in "The Parting of the Ways" when he creates a Delta Wave to destroy the Daleks. When the wave was charged, The Doctor realised that it would not distinguish between Human and Dalek. Firing the Delta Wave would have resulted in the mutual destruction of both the Daleks and Humans (similar to the situation he faced at "the Moment").
By this point, the entire period of war had become "time locked", so that no time traveller could enter or exit it. In knowledge of this and the threat posed by the Doctor's possession of "the Moment," Rassilon and his fellow councillors tried to escape the Lock by retroactively planting a four-note drumbeat (the rhythm of a Time Lord's heartbeats) into the Master's brain when he was a child (the sound of which eventually drove the Master insane) and use a Whitepoint Star, a diamond only found on Gallifrey, to create a link between the final day of the Time War and Earth in 2010. The Master could therefore bring Gallifrey and the Time Lords out of the Time Lock and into the present, which he did after increasing the signal by turning nearly all humanity into copies of himself. The plan ultimately failed, as the Doctor destroyed the diamond link and the Master apparently sacrificed his life to prevent Rassilon from killing the Doctor, sending the Time Lords back to their apparent doom.
Demise of the Time Lords
Following the destruction of both Daleks and Time Lords, the Doctor is believed to be the last of his race. The destruction of the Time Lords also had a profound impact on time travel. In the 2006 episode Rise of the Cybermen when the Doctor, Rose Tyler and Mickey Smith are trapped in an alternative reality, the Doctor explains that, when the Time Lords were around, travel between parallel universes was less difficult but, with their demise, the paths between worlds are now closed. The Time Lords also could prevent or repair paradoxes such as the one created by Rose in an attempt to save her father's life in a traffic accident. After the Time Lords' demise, such a paradox summons the terrifying Reapers, who descended to "sterilise the wound" in time by devouring everything in sight, and are only stopped by Pete Tyler killing himself.
Because of the destruction of Gallifrey and the Time Lords, the Doctor does not encounter other time-travelling Time Lords. It has been stated in the past that there are locks on TARDISes that prevent travel into Gallifrey's past. The time lock, along with the danger of creating a paradox, also prevents the Doctor from going back in time and saving the Time Lords. He warns another character against trying to alter his own timeline as such meddling would "destroy two-thirds of the universe" and resists an offer by Krillitane Headmaster Finch, using the Skasis Paradigm, which would have given the Doctor the ability to reorder the universe and allowed him to stop the war.
Remnants of the Daleks
Despite the Doctor's efforts, not all Daleks perished in the war. The Ninth Doctor encounters a single, dysfunctional Dalek in a museum on Earth in 2012, which had apparently been on Earth for 50 years. It is eventually convinced to commit suicide after gaining human feelings via Rose Tyler touching it. The Doctor later discovers that the Dalek Emperor itself had also survived, and had gone on to build a whole new Dalek race, using the organic material of human cadavers by completely rewriting their DNA. The destruction of the Emperor and its fleet in the year 200,100 during an attack on Earth at the conclusion of the 2005 series by a time vortex-augmented Rose Tyler is accompanied by her declaration that "the Time War ends".
The elite Cult of Skaro also survived by fleeing into the Void between dimensions and survived the original end of the Time War, taking with them the Genesis Ark, a Time Lord prison ship containing millions of Daleks. The new Dalek army released from the Ark on Earth 2007, after the Ark is touched by a time-traveler, Mickey Smith, is eventually sucked back into the Void, due to the actions of the Tenth Doctor, but the specially-equipped cult members use an "emergency temporal shift" to escape that fate. They reappear in 1930 in New York, where they try to use humans to create a new race of Daleks. While three members of the Cult of Skaro are killed, the fourth, Dalek Caan, escapes through another emergency temporal shift. It returns to the Time War and, at the cost of its sanity, rescues the Daleks' creator, Davros. Davros subsequently uses cells from his own body to create a new Dalek Empire and keeps Caan close at his side because of the latter's prophetic abilities. The Daleks attempt to destroy all reality with a 'Reality Bomb' powered by 27 stolen Worlds, leaving themselves the only creatures. However, Caan manipulated Davros to help the Doctor and Donna Noble defeat the Daleks after seeing the damage the Daleks had caused throughout time. The Daleks are destroyed by a clone of the Tenth Doctor, while Davros and Caan are left behind on the Dalek flagship as it is destroyed.
One ship containing three Daleks escaped that defeat after accidentally falling through time, where it then picked up a trace of a Progenitor device that contained pure Dalek DNA. However, because these Daleks had been created from the DNA of Davros, the Progenator did not accept them as true "Daleks"; in order to restart the Progenitor, the Daleks trick the Eleventh Doctor into activating it for them during World War II. Once activated, the Progenitor device created a new "Paradigm" of Daleks that destroyed the previous Daleks and escaped through time, forming a new race of Daleks.
Survival of the Master
After the Time War, the Doctor is convinced that he is the only surviving Time Lord, saying that he would know of any others if they had survived. The last words of the Face of Boe were "You are not alone". The cryptic statement is explained when the Doctor encounters a Professor Yana who is revealed to be the Master. The Master had been hiding in human form at the end of the universe using a Chameleon Arch, having escaped the destruction of both the Time Lords and the Daleks. By taking human form, he avoided detection by the Doctor, who was unaware of his nemesis' resurrection during the Time War in the first place. He recovers his memories and Time Lord nature after the Doctor re-triggers memories. He escapes in the Doctor's TARDIS to early-21st Century Earth and makes himself Prime Minister of Great Britain, going by the name Harold Saxon. He converts the TARDIS into a Paradox Machine, enabling an army of Future Humans who have turned into the Toclafane to invade Earth. However a year later the Paradox Machine is destroyed, erasing the Master's rule. The Master is resurrected in "The End of Time" by figures loyal to Harold Saxon, but the process goes wrong and he is trapped in a dying body that is burning up his life force, so although he is able to project electricity from his hands, he is left with an insatiable hunger, which leads him to drain the energy of several humans. He manages to copy himself onto the whole of humanity using alien technology, amplifying the sound of drums inside his head, and allowing the Time Lords trapped at the end of Time War to escape the Time-Lock with Gallifrey, so it will materialise above the Earth. The Master then tries to copy himself onto the Time Lords as well, but this fails, and humanity is restored. Finally the Doctor breaks the connection between Earth and Gallifrey, and the Master saves the Doctor to avenge himself on the Time Lords, who he learns planted the sound of drums inside his head which drove him insane. The Master disappears along with Gallifrey, his fate unknown.
Impact on other species
The timelines of other races and planets shifted without the inhabitants of the worlds affected being aware of the changes in history, as they were a part of them. Most affected were the Greater Animus, which died; the Nestene consciousness, which lost its homeworld and its protein-source planets, prompting it to another invasion of Earth in 2005; the Eternals, who apparently fled this reality in despair; and the Gelth, who lost their physical form and were reduced to gaseous beings, who attempted to possess human corpses in 1869 using a Time Rift in Cardiff. The Gelth described the war's impact as "invisible to lower species but devastating to higher forms", such as the Forest of Cheem, which was distraught at the bloodshed. It is also said to have destroyed the unnamed race that Eve originated from.
The Time War and continuity
The Time War provides a convenient in-story explanation for any contradictions in series continuity: for example, writer Paul Cornell has suggested that Earth's destruction by an expanding sun in The End of the World five billion years hence, as opposed to the original depiction of its demise around the year 10,000,000 AD in The Ark (1966), can be attributed to changes in history due to the War. Steven Moffat, writer and later executive producer for Doctor Who, has gone further, arguing that "a television series which embraces both the ideas of parallel universes and the concept of changing time can't have a continuity error – it's impossible for Doctor Who to get it wrong, because we can just say 'he changed time – it's a time ripple from the Time War'".
Time Wars in spin-off media
The Last Great Time War and previous time wars also feature in various Doctor Who spin-off media. The relationship to the ongoing story of the television series is open to interpretation.
Gallifrey audio series
Gallifrey is the umbrella title of a series of audio plays by Big Finish Productions, set on Gallifrey during Romana's tenure as President. In Gallifrey: Panacea, the final chapter of the third series, the Time Lord Irving Braxiatel speaks of "rumours out there in the big wide universe – more than rumours, in fact – that something's coming to Gallifrey, something worse than you could possibly imagine".
Because of these rumours, Braxiatel engineers the removal of the Time Lord biodata archive from Gallifrey, in order that the Time Lords might someday be restored after their planet meets its doom. Former Big Finish producer Gary Russell indicated in a forum posting on Outpost Gallifrey that this was a reference to the television series' Time War.
The later Companion Chronicles audio story, The Catalyst, implies that Leela survived the Time War; she mentions that her adopted homeworld no longer exists and she ages rapidly due to the Time Lords no longer being able to keep her young.
Eighth Doctor Adventures
In a story arc stretching through several of the Eighth Doctor Adventures, sometime in the Doctor's future, a war is fought between the Time Lords and an unnamed Enemy, the Eighth Doctor becoming involved in the events of the war during the events of Alien Bodies, when he unintentionally becomes involved in an auction for the body of his future self due to his biodata codes being the only means of accessing dangerous Time Lord secrets, and The Taking of Planet 5, where he must stop a group of future Time Lords from releasing the monstrous Fendahl in an attempt to use it as a weapon. In this story arc, Gallifrey is also destroyed as a result of the Eighth Doctor attempting to prevent the war from beginning as the Enemy begin their first assault in- having learned that he unintentionally provoked the War-, believing that it would be better for the Time Lords to die now rather than experience a war that would dehumanise them to the point of becoming monsters which all evidence suggests they could not win (The Ancestor Cell, 2000). This cataclysm also creates an event horizon in time that prevents anyone from entering Gallifrey's relative past or travelling from it to the present or future. The last Eighth Doctor Adventures novel, The Gallifrey Chronicles, establishes that the Doctor has the ability to restore the planet and its inhabitants, having downloaded the contents of the Matrix into his subconscious mind in the minutes before Gallifrey's destruction, albeit at the cost of his own memories. The novel ends without revealing if he does indeed do this.
Russell T Davies, executive producer of the series, commented that there is no connection between the War of the books and the Time War of the television series, comparing Gallifrey being destroyed twice with Earth's two World Wars. He also said that he was "usually happy for old and new fans to invent the Complete History of the Doctor in their heads, completely free of the production team's hot and heavy hands".
Despite this unequivocal statement, writer Lance Parkin speculated in an essay that the two destructions of Gallifrey may be the same event seen from two different perspectives, with the Eighth Doctor present twice (and both times responsible for the planet's destruction). This is supported due to the novels' destruction of Gallifrey involving an evil future version of the Eighth Doctor as the leader of the invading force, with the events leading to Gallifrey's destruction being triggered by the Doctor's attempt to prevent that future from coming to pass.
Doctor Who comic strip
In three comic strip stories written by Alan Moore in 1979, the Time Lords, assisted by The Special Executive, fight a time war early in their history against the "Order of the Black Sun", based some thirty thousand years in their future.
The first strike of the war, from the Time Lords' point of view, is when a Black Sun agent travels back in time, and attacks the Time Lords just as they are about to turn the star Qqaba into a power source for their time experiments. This also causes the apparent demise of the stellar engineer Omega. The Time Lords do not know why the Black Sun (whom they had never encountered before the attack) should have wanted to strike at them, and surmise that it was for something they had yet to do. Years later, at a diplomatic conference, a representative of the Order is murdered by the Sontarans, and the murder is blamed on the Time Lords. This provides the motivation for the war's beginnings, as from the Order's point of view, the Time Lords are the ones who strike first.
In the IDW comic miniseries The Forgotten, the Tenth Doctor recounts to Martha Jones a story from the Eighth Doctor's participation in the Time War. The Eighth Doctor was imprisoned by a race of robots for several weeks on a planet in the middle of the war, before teaming up with a Malmooth fellow prisoner and faking his death in order to escape. It is revealed his capture was staged by him so that he could acquire the Great Key he needed to arm a modified De-Mat Gun that could be used to seal the Medusa Cascade. The Tenth Doctor further implies that the Eighth Doctor died, alone and companionless, at the end of the Time War.
- Dalek (2005)
- Russell T Davies in Doctor Who Confidential. Similar information is given in the Dalek Monster File on the Doctor Who website.
- Russell T Davies, "Meet the Doctor", in: Doctor Who Annual 2006, Panini, Tunbridge Wells (2005), which provides some additional background information on the Time War as seen in the television series, also mentioning in passing events depicted in the novels, audios, and comic strips.
- The Sontaran Stratagem/The Poison Sky (2008)
- Doomsday (2006).
- The Stolen Earth/Journey's End (2008).
- The End of Time (2009).
- This is mentioned during The Stolen Earth, and was also touched upon in The Fires of Pompeii. See also Blinovitch Limitation Effect.
- . He also admits he flew his own Tardis alone at the Dalek fleet as it advanced on Gallifrey and caused an unspecified event which led to the entire Dalek fleet crashing into Gallifrey destroying both. Utopia/The Sound of Drums/Last of the Time Lords (2007).
- Executive producer and writer: Davies, Russell T; Executive producer: Gardner, Julie; Director: Lyn, Euros; Producer: Simpson, Tracie; Starring: Cribbins, Bernard, Tennant, David, et al. (1 January 2010). "The End of Time, Part Two". Doctor Who. Series 4. Episode 18. circa 1 minute. minutes in. British Broadcasting Corporation. BBC One. http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b00pk7ls. Retrieved 1 January 2011.
- The End of the World (2005)
- The Satan Pit (2006).
- Rise of the Cybermen/The Age of Steel (2006).
- Father's Day (2005).
- Blink (2007)
- School Reunion (2006).
- Bad Wolf/The Parting of the Ways (2005).
- Daleks in Manhattan/Evolution of the Daleks (2007).
- Victory of the Daleks (2010).
- Gridlock (2007).
- Rose (2005).
- The Unquiet Dead (2005).
- Paul Cornell, "Canonicity in Doctor Who". Paul Cornell's House of Awkwardness (2007-02-10).
- Steven Moffat, Doctor Who Panel Part 5, Comic-Con International, San Diego 2008.
- BBC News, Moffat promises new Who monsters (2008-07-29).
- Gary Russell, "Gallifrey 3.5: Panacea", Outpost Gallifrey (2006-09-03). Requires registation to view.
- Russell T Davies, "The Evasion of Time". Doctor Who Magazine #356 (2005), p. 66–67.
- Lance Parkin, Lars Pearson (ed.), AHistory: An Unauthorised History of the Doctor Who Universe. Mad Norwegian Press, Des Moines (2006), p. 292–293.
- Alan Moore, "Star Death", Doctor Who Weekly #47 (1979). Alan Moore, "The 4-D War", Doctor Who Weekly #51 (1979). Alan Moore, "Black Sun Rising", Doctor Who Weekly #57 (1979). See Comic Book Database.