||This article describes a work or element of fiction in a primarily in-universe style. (January 2011)|
|The Last Great Time War|
|Time Lords||Dalek Empire|
|Commanders and leaders|
|Time Lord Council
|Casualties and losses|
|All Time Lords, except for the Doctor and the Master||All Daleks, except for a small number of groups|
The Time War, more specifically called The Last Great Time War, is a conflict within the fictional universe, in a time lock, of the long-running 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 rebooted 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.
According to executive producer Russell T Davies, the Time Lords of Gallifrey pursued a policy of non-intervention but also protected the time vortex. Under that objective, they intervened in two previous "Time Wars": the first was a skirmish between the Halldons (a race mentioned in the Terry Nation story We Are the Daleks from the Radio Times 10th Anniversary Special, 1973) and the Eternals (Enlightenment), the second the slaughter of the Omnicraven Uprising. The Time Lords had also used their time travel to retroactively destroy the Charon race before it even existed.
The Last Great Time War pitted the Time Lords themselves 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 to 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 (apparently by the Daleks). and their time travel technology is also not as advanced as Time Lords' or Daleks'.
Davros, the creator of the Daleks, also fought during the war after his creations, which had turned against him during Genesis of the Daleks, rehabilitated him to a leadership position. In the first year of the War, Davros' command ship was apparently 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, all of which have not yet been specified further.
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". In fact, 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.
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 himself, founder of the Time Lord Society and its time travel technology, returned from the grave to re-assume leadership (possibly using the resurrection gauntlets where one fell through the rift out of the time lock). Refusing the possibility of his civilisation 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.
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 (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 hours of the Time War and present-day Earth. The Master could therefore bring Gallifrey and the Time Lords out of the Time Lock and into the present. The plan ultimately failed, as the Doctor destroyed the diamond link and the Master apparently sacrificed his life, sending the Time Lords back to their apparent doom.
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.
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, the dangers of which the Doctor is acutely aware. 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 the Skasis Paradigm, which would have given him the ability to reorder the universe and allowed him to stop the war. The time lock did not prevent the Doctor from meeting one of his prior incarnations in the mini-episode Time Crash.
Despite the Doctor's efforts, not all Daleks perished in the war. The Ninth Doctor encounters a single, dysfunctional Dalek in a museum and later discovers that the Dalek Emperor himself 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 his fleet 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 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. While three Daleks are killed, the fourth, Dalek Caan, escapes through another emergency temporal shift. He returns to the Time War and, at the cost of his 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. However, Caan manipulated Davros to help the Doctor and Donna Noble defeat the Daleks.
One ship however escaped that defeat (Exactly how these Daleks survived the events of Journey's End is unknown), and after falling through time, picked up a trace of a Progenitor and tricked the Doctor into activating it for them during World War II which created a new Dalek Paradigm.
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 (the initials YANA standing for "You Are Not Alone" as revealed in the 2007 episode Utopia), 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, he had escaped both the destruction of all Time Lords and Daleks, and detection by the Doctor, who was unaware of his nemesis' resurrection during the Time War in the first place.
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 (presumably including Humans). 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, the Eternals, who apparently fled this reality in despair, and the Gelth, who lost their physical form and were reduced to gaseous beings. 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 also 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'".
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 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.
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, although the Ninth Doctor's clear knowledge of his past suggests that he was at least able to restore his memories before his regeneration.
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.
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.
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