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Traditionally, Doctor Who has used multi-episodic serials for its storytelling. While these stories where spread out over multiple episodes, they were relatively self contained. For the 2005 revival of the series, it was decided to break with this convention. Stories were told over the span of only one or two episodes. At the same time, much stronger story arcs were introduced, which can span over an entire series, or more. Several strong motifs and storythreads were employed in doing this.

Bad Wolf[edit]

The phrase Bad Wolf is a recurring motif in the 2005 series. The phrase began to crop up in subtle ways starting from the second episode, The End of the World, and then grew in prominence, leading to much fan speculation over the course of the series as to what the phrase referred to and what its ultimate significance would be. In this respect, the phrase was also a form of viral marketing.

The origin of the words and their significance were finally revealed in the last episode of the season, The Parting of the Ways.



Television episodes[edit]

The phrase has turned up in every story beginning with the second one, with one mention in each of the two-parters. Although some argue that the Nestene Consciousness (in the first episode of the season, Rose) mouths the phrase when it sees the TARDIS, when the BBC website team published their "Bad Wolf" website, Rose was significantly absent from the list of episodes which had a Bad Wolf mention.

The confirmed sightings of "Bad Wolf" are as follows:

  • The Long Game: One of the several thousand television channels being broadcast from Satellite Five is BAD WOLFTV.
  • Father's Day: A poster advertising a rave in 1987 has the words "BAD WOLF" defacing it.
  • Boom Town: A nuclear power plant is dubbed the Blaidd Drwg project, which is Welsh for "Bad Wolf". The Doctor also noticed for the first time that the phrase had been following them around.
  • Bad Wolf: The corporation that runs the Game Station (formerly Satellite Five) is called the Badwolf Corporation.
  • The Parting of the Ways: In scattered graffiti around Rose's council estate, including on a poster tacked to the wall behind Rose's head in the café scene and in giant letters on a paved recreation ground. The latter is faded, but still visible, in New Earth.

Other allusions[edit]

Some fans argue that there are other, more subtle allusions to the Bad Wolf. For example, in Aliens of London, the presence of a pig augmented by alien technology could be an allusion to the Three Little Pigs, as might be the three rather portly human forms inhabited by the Slitheen in that same story.

In The Empty Child, Nancy makes a remark about the size of the Doctor's ears and nose, a possible allusion to Little Red Riding Hood's observation to the Big Bad Wolf about how large its various features were. (The Doctor also comments about the appearance of his ears in Rose.) In the same story, some fans claim that the shape of Jack Harkness's time ship on its control screens resembles a wolf's head. Rose also wore a red hoodie for several episodes of Series 1.

In a Doctor Who Magazine column discussing how the Bad Wolf references were made, series producer Russell T. Davies refers only to the direct occurrences of the phrase, and adds that some writers were not informed of the idea, necessitating the addition of references that were not in the scripts (for example, the stenciling on the bomb in The Doctor Dances). This suggests that many of the indirect references may have been coincidental and unintended.

The characters of the Adherents of the Repeated Meme in The End of the World may also have been a metafictional reference to the repetition of the phrase and how it would spread.

In the 2006 series episode Tooth and Claw, a character mentions that Rose has "seen [the wolf] too", and that there is "something of the wolf about [her]".

Tie-in websites[edit]

The tie-in websites set up by the BBC to accompany the series also featured appearances of the phrase. The "Who is Doctor Who?" site featured a clip from World War Three with an American newsreader. This clip differed from the one shown in the broadcast version in only one respect: the newsreader was identifed as "Mal Loup" (French for "bad wolf"). At one point, the Doctor is described as being off "making another decision for us, all 'I'm the big bad wolf and it's way past your bedtime.'"

The UNIT website also used "badwolf" as a password to enter the "secure" areas of the website. The Geocomtex website's support page had BADWOLF transcribed in Morse Code, and its products page made mention of Lupus and Nocens variants for their "node stabilisers" (lupus nocens is Latin for "bad wolf"). They also offered "Argentum Ordnance", argent being Latin for "silver" — silver bullets being traditionally used for killing werewolves.

In the background image of the BBC Doctor Who website's TARDISODE page, the words "BAD WOLF" can be seen scrawled behind Mickey Smith.[1]

Ninth Doctor Adventures[edit]

The phrase occurs in some of the Ninth Doctor Adventures, the BBC Books range of spin-off novels featuring the Ninth Doctor.

  • The Clockwise Man, by Justin Richards features a character who notes that the two time travellers keep turning up, "like a bad wolf."
  • In The Monsters Inside by Stephen Cole, a character tells Rose "The big bad wolf's ready to blow our house down."
  • In The Deviant Strain, also by Richards, a psychic character tells Rose that he fears "The bad wolf... The man with the wolf on his arm." Later, this character is indirectly killed by another character who has a tattoo of a wolf on his arm.
  • In The Stealers of Dreams by Steve Lyons, a character explaining why fiction is dangerous says, "We've good reason to be afraid of the big bad wolf."

Comic strips[edit]

There were two "Bad Wolf" references in the Doctor Who Magazine Ninth Doctor comic strips. In Part Two of The Love Invasion (DWM #356, May 2005), there is a poster on the wall of a pub reading "Bad Wolf". In Part One of A Groatsworth of Wit (DWM #363, December 2005), a tavern sign in Elizabethan London features a picture of a wolf's head and the initials "B.W."


The explanation as to why the phrase Bad Wolf kept cropping up through the travels of the Doctor and his companions was revealed in the season finale, The Parting of the Ways. Rose had been sent back to the 21st century in the TARDIS for her safety, while in the 2002nd century the Doctor was on the Game Station facing off a Dalek invasion. Having tried unsuccessfully to pilot the TARDIS back to the distant future, Rose was almost resigned to remaining in her present when she noticed the words "Bad Wolf" written in six-foot high letters on a paved public area of the estate as well as in graffiti scrawled on nearby walls. [2] (In addition, but apparently unnoticed by Rose, the words "Bad Wolf" are also across a flyer that is taped to a window behind her head during the scene in which she, Jackie, and Mickey go to a cafe after her return to Earth.)

Rose deduced that the words were not a warning as they had assumed, but a reminder that she and the Doctor continued to be connected. She then managed to open the TARDIS console and absorb the power of the time vortex, giving herself almost unimaginable power over space and time, and being able to perceive all of it. Returning to the Game Station to rescue the Doctor, she took the name of the Badwolf Corporation, scattering the words "Bad Wolf" throughout history as a reminder to herself. This is an example of a predestination paradox.

In Doctor Who: The Shooting Scripts (2005), producer and chief writer Russell T. Davies notes that the origin of "Bad Wolf" started with a wish to see "the TARDIS being graffiti'd", with the words simply being made up. Once he had done so, however, he decided to tie it into the plan to make Rose into the "Time Goddess" at the end of the series, and started to insert references retroactively into the scripts. The design department noticed this, and without knowing what it meant, began to insert the phrase on various props as well.

Despite Rose's connection to Bad Wolf, not all Bad Wolf references occur within sight or earshot of her, such as the identification of van Statten's helicopter in Dalek (even though in Bad Wolf when Rose has flashbacks of earlier sightings of "Bad Wolf", this was included). Similarly, as noted above, there is one appearance of "Bad Wolf" that apparently goes unnoticed by Rose in "Parting of the Ways" (the poster in the cafe).


Adding fuel to the speculations were the numbers 23, 6 and 801, noticed in the "Whospy" behind-the-scenes galleries on the BBC Doctor Who website. The numbers appeared at on the sign at a bus stop, a Psalm board in a church (Father's Day) as well as in Dr Constantine's diary (The Empty Child). It also appears on the Geocomtex website as their phone number. Various theories also surrounded this, ranging from a clue to the Bad Wolf 801 seconds into Part Six of Season 23 (no such clue existed) to a date and time to be referenced (23 June at 8.01 pm, although no such reference was ultimately made). As finally revealed on the BBC website, it was a mistake on the Psalm board — there is no 801st Psalm — that the production team decided to turn into a small running joke to misdirect fans.[3]

However, when the Millingdale Organic Ice Cream website was produced claiming that an ice cream shop was opened on June 23, 1981 (23/6/81 in the British calendar), it was speculated that a further significance would be attatched to the figures. In addition, Cheapserve, a fictional web host created by the BBC contained a hidden file at

The Deffry Vale School website gives the buses travelling through the area as 333, 23, 06, 801. The Deffry Vale website also contains the bus numbers in one of its images, as well as having the numbers scrawled across the playground in another.

Time War[edit]

In the course of series one, details of a Time War are revealed.


Fans have speculated about what the "arc word" for Series 2 will be. Producer Russell T. Davies stated in an interview in Doctor Who Magazine that the word (or phrase) has already been spoken in Series 1, and is an anagram. One of the answers during The Weakest Link game show scenes in Bad Wolf was that the Great Cobalt Pyramid was built on the ruins of the famous Old Earth Torchwood Institute. "Torchwood" is an anagram for "Doctor Who". The BBC has already registered the domain names and

Torchwood is a 13-part spin-off series set in modern-day Britain and involving a covert organisation that investigates alien activities and crime. The series features John Barrowman as former companion Jack Harkness and will premiere in October 2006. The origins of the Torchwood organisation will be "seeded" in the 2006 series of Doctor Who, beginning with The Christmas Invasion.

The Lonely God[edit]

The Lonely God is a recurring name of mythic resonance used to describe the Doctor in series 2. Some have suggested that it is a 'codeword', akin to "Bad Wolf".

In New Earth, it is implied that the Doctor is part of the prophecy of the Face of Boe and referred to as "The Lonely God". Russell T. Davies has written that the Face's message is four words long. This may be connected to a passage from a text piece written by Davies in the Doctor Who Annual 2006. The article describes a monument to the Time War on a distant planet, upon which, under an image of a lone survivor walking away, the message "You are not alone" has been scratched, perhaps indicating that the Doctor was not the sole Time Lord survivor of the conflict.

During a confrontation in School Reunion, the Krillitane leader, Finch, tries to strike a bargain with the Doctor offering him the power of the God-Maker to keep his companions alive with him forever, commenting how lonely he must be.

In The Girl in the Fireplace, the doctor tries to read Reinette's mind, and while doing so, inadvertantly gives her access to his own. She senses great loneliness in him, and something that "is more than just a secret". She later refers to him as her "lonely angel", including in a deathbed parting letter the Doctor receives posthumously.

External links[edit]