John Hurt’s Doctor: A Theory Based off the 50th Trailer

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Guest contributor Alessandro offers a new theory on John Hurt’s Doctor.

SPOILER WARNING: this text does contain references to leaked photos from the set, so do not read any further if you don’t like spoilers.


When the 50th celebration trailer was broadcast last Saturday on BBC One, people started to wonder who the mysterious person facing Ten might actually be. The names of Jack Harkness, Jamie McCrimmon and the Brigade Leader have been proposed, but they don’t convince me at all. Jack and Jamie would’ve worn their iconic outfits (long leather coat for Jack, kilt for Jamie), while the Brigade Leader was a minor character from a single episode and I don’t see why the Moff wouldn’t rather honour Nicholas Courtney with the appearance of his more iconic role as the Brigadier.

On the contrary, the Hurt theory immediately won my attention, but many have noticed the mysterious individual has a “strange” hand. Here’s my theory: that’s not a hand, that’s a modified De-Mat Gun. In the picture below you can see for yourself what I’m talking about.


In the IDW comic series “The Forgotten“, the Eighth Doctor is said to have collected the Great Key of Rassilon on an alien planet to build the modified De-Mat Gun which came to be known as “the Moment”. To those new to this Time Lord device, the Fourth Doctor’s era explained that Rassilon had built this weapon capable of removing any target from space and time. As a side-effect, this is a throwaway weapon and the user will lose his memories of the last period before it was operated.

We know that Gallifrey and the Time War have been removed from space and time. It can’t be reached and it’s closed in a permanent time-loop known as the “time lock”. Still, as powerful as it might be, I don’t think that a complex series of events such as the Time War could be removed from space-time by an ordinary De-Mat Gun; also, “The Forgotten” implied a modification, but what kind of modification?

Now, you know that pictures from the set have shown a return to Coal Hill School and Totters Lane. Classic Who fans know these places are connected to a second device: the Hand of Omega.

hand-of-omega-mccoyThis artifact was the stellar manipulator used by Omega and Rassilon to create the Eye of Harmony. In Remembrance of the Daleks, we discovered that the First Doctor stole it from Gallifrey and hid it in London in 1963. In the same episode, this sentient device was shown to have the special skill to power up ordinary objects such as Ace’s baseball bat. My theory is that the “Renegade Doctor” played by Hurt simply powered up the De-Mat gun, combining it with the Hand of Omega. The result was the Moment, a weapon powerful enough to time-lock hundreds of planets and events at the same time of their annihilation, removing them from space and time and locking them in an almost inaccessible bubble. In the picture left, you can see the moment when the Seventh Doctor recovered the Hand of Omega, hidden within a coffin in a cemetery in London 1963 by his first incarnation.


We know that the Doctor has been running from “the Day of the Doctor” throughout all his lives. This is clearly stated by Eleven in the 50th anniversary celebration trailer. How is this possible if this day happened during the Time War, i.e. centuries after the First Doctor left Gallifrey?

Moffat made it clear that the Doctor chose his name as a promise that Hurt’s incarnation broke. What promise? The promise to make people feel better, as the Master commented in The Sound of Drums.

Untempered_schismSomebody else on this site once proposed that the First Doctor saw Hurt’s Doctor in the Untempered Schism during the initiation ceremony, so that he knew of his crimes during the Time War. All credit to him/her for thinking such a wonderful idea; unfortunately, I can’t remember who wrote this, so I beg your pardon, Mr/Mrs X and I thank you with all my heart. If you want to show up in the commentary, just do it.

Now, I’ll offer a slight variant of this statement by adding that the Doctor saw Hurt in the Untempered Schism while recovering the Hand of Omega, modifying it with the De-Mat Gun and wiping out the Time Lords, but didn’t know who the mystery man was. Maybe he saw him in the same way we did in the trailer – from his shoulders or just as a shadowy figure. He only knew that he had to prevent the Hand of Omega from falling in the wrong hands. That might also explain why the Seventh Doctor let it slip that he actually assisted at the Hand’s creation – he may have seen its origins and its fate as an 8-years-old child on Gallifrey.

When the First Doctor turned 200 or so years, the Hand of Omega was found, presumably hidden somewhere on Gallifrey after being lost for centuries. Hartnell’s incarnation recognized the lost ancient device from the Dark Age. He knew he had to take action: he stole it and ‘borrowed’ the TARDIS, so that he could hide it somewhere else and the object didn’t fall in the wrong hands. He finally chose London A.D. 1963 as the hiding place for the Hand of Omega, and he probably believed it to be safe. Who would care such a miserable and underdeveloped planet?

But the question is: Had history changed? Not at all. On the contrary, all his actions (and choices, as Eleven states in the trailer), from Gallifrey onwards, was one step forward to the fulfillment of this vision. He soon met the Daleks on Skaro, and they discovered alien life, which prompted their space program. Next time, the Doctor faced them on Earth in the 22nd century. He defeated them and they answered developing time travel. By the time of the Fourth Doctor, they had grown so powerful that the Time Lords were now aware of the imminent Time War. The Doctor never managed to prevent their creation (he had the occasion, though). He just managed to delay their inevitable evolution by a thousand years. Then, the Daleks discovered the Hand of Omega and the Seventh Doctor was forced to use it against them. Skaro was only apparently blown up, ready to reappear in the 1996 Telemovie and, later, in the New Series, which means it was never destroyed. Still, the Seventh Doctor may have believed that destiny had finally been changed. Of course, he was wrong.

Gallifrey_time_war-end-of-timeThe Daleks finally attacked Gallifrey and the Eighth Doctor found himself fighting in the Time War. He was ordered to collect the components to build the Moment, presumably at the orders of the current Lady President, maybe Romana. Than Rassilon was resurrected and installed on his old throne. He was terrified at the idea of perishing forever, so he had the High Council approve the most terrible decree in Gallifreyan history: the Final Sanction (The End of Time). The Eighth Doctor perished sometime on the battlefield and regenerated into Hurt’s incarnation, who recognized himself from his vision. Now he knew what he had to do. The vision he had was what prompted the Doctor to become the executor of his own race. He had become his nightmare, the foe he feared the most and he fought against since he was a child. He had become a living self-fulfilled prophecy.

The ninth incarnation of our favourite Time Lord discarded his title “The Doctor” both because he was going to break his promise and because he wanted the other Doctors not to be ashamed of what he had become. He cut himself apart from the rest of his incarnations, both past and  future. Then he built the Moment, mounting a component of the De-Mat Gun on the Hand of Omega. He fired it, destroying Gallifrey in the process and removing the Time War from space and time. He survived by regenerating, but the backfire of the Moment caused a period of amnesia, probably amplified with respect to the ordinary De-Mat Gun. The Ninth Doctor didn’t remember his preceding incarnation (McGann’s face was the last one he could remember) and it took him some years (and two regenerations) to fully recover and rediscover who the Oncoming Storm incarnation really was and what he actually did.

Eleven will later see this war veteran incarnation in his room in “The God Complex”. In the same way that the Classic Doctors had been running from their inevitable future, now the New Series Doctors have been running from a shameful past chasing them. I believe The Day of the Doctor will show how this happened and what role the Tenth and Eleventh Doctors shared with this past incarnation. The consequences of this are known only to Moffat and those who contributed to the 50th. Let’s wait another month and see the most terrible day in the Doctor’s life come true…

Hope this theory makes sense. What do you think about it? Please give your opinions!