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Why Bringing Back Gallifrey is Wrong

Guest contributor Ivy McNab is against restoring the Doctor’s home planet.

day-of-the-doctor-tv-trailer-(3)-gallifrey

While I do not dislike The Day of the Doctor, I dislike the decision to bring back Gallifrey. Being a Nu-Who viewer, I can only know so much about how Gallifrey was before the Time War. However, what I have heard is that the Time Lords could be more villainous than friendly. Pair that with the flimsy plot of bringing Gallifrey back (The War Doctor and Ten just forget what happened, seriously?), and I think it was unnecessary.

The Plot Up To Day

dalek-Robert-Shearman-eccleston-2005What made Christopher Eccleston’s Doctor so brilliant was that he was damaged by the Time War and, to a certain extent, unforgiving and cold. This hatred, in particular towards the Daleks, was what made the episode ‘Dalek’ a favourite amongst the fandom. This hatred was caused by the Time War and his decision to kill all his people.

David Tennant, while more calm and funny, had a dark, war-ravaged part of him still and this helped to shape him. When faced with his people in The End of Time, he takes a disliking to them. True, this is because they are in the Time War and if they were to get out then they would bring the Time War to Earth and cause mass destruction. However, it is clear that the idea of the Time Lords returning is not a good one for Ten.

Matt Smith was not terribly affected by the Time War and appeared to have made peace with himself surrounding his decision. He has rebuilt himself, so to speak, and is the same Doctor as before the Time War (although vastly different to 7 and 8). He is concerned with solving mysteries, first the crack in time and then Clara, which, coincidentally, both lead him to the Time Lords. He is, ironically, the most involved with the Time Lords, although is the least aware of it. Name is an excellent set up for their return, and the inclusion of John Hurt was a master-stroke.

The Day of the Doctor

day-doctors-momentI loved John Hurt in Day and thought he acted wonderfully, as did Matt Smith and David Tennant. The decision to bring back Gallifrey is one that seemed to fit in with the character of the War Doctor.

However, would Ten, knowing that he had made the universe a safer place by destroying Gallifrey, want the Time Lords to return? I question whether that is in his character. He – or rather, the War Doctor – destroyed Gallifrey for a reason, albeit to end the Time War. For that all to be undone? I don’t think Ten would support that. For all his hurting and hatred to have been for nothing? I don’t know if he would like that. I certainly don’t.

With Eleven, it could go either way. He hadn’t spoken about the Time Lords much, but I think if it was a best-case scenario, and the Daleks could just evaporate, then he would jump at the chance to do bring back Gallifrey. It’s a much more complicated situation, though, and one which was excellently addressed in The Time of the Doctor. I personally think that Eleven would’ve destroyed Gallifrey, though, if not for Clara.

Clara is one of those people that tries to make you a better person. Usually, she succeeds. Eleven has grown more sympathetic and human with Clara by his side, and many villains have been defeated with her wise words. This time, she also succeeds and does what she thinks is right to stop Eleven making a decision he could regret. However, the Doctor has been around for far longer than Clara and in theory knows what is moral and what is immoral. Clara, by telling the Doctor that he is better than that and can save the Time Lords, convinces him that his own judgement is wrong and she, an inexperienced human, is right and knows in that exact situation what is moral. It should be a decision for the Doctor to make, not Clara. It is the Doctor’s race, not Clara’s. Sometimes the right decision is not always the one that saves lives and the one that saves the people you love, but the one that restores peace and possibly saves the universe. The reasons he destroyed Gallifrey in the first place still stand. Even though Gallifrey is in a pocket universe, let out it could destroy everything.

Possible Future For Gallifrey

time-clara-crack-sadGallifrey has already been used as a plot device, to give Eleven a new set of regenerations and to end the crack in time/silence arc. I feel, though, that as filming of Series 8 has not, so far, suggested a return of Gallifrey, it was used solely as a flimsy way of escaping the ’13 regenerations’ problem. I realise that Gallifrey would be an interesting addition to stories here and there in the future but I don’t think it will. It’s supposed to be this big game-changer but I believe it won’t be. Either Gallifrey will feature heavily in Series 8 or not at all. I wouldn’t mind seeing a bit of Gallifrey once in a while but knowing Steven Moffat, Gallifrey will be overused.

Concluding Thoughts

For me, bringing back Gallifrey is not “in the name of the Doctor”. I think what happened in the Time War was just and was a great plot device in the Eccleston era. Bringing it back tarnishes that and watching past episodes won’t feel as real and as compelling now. While I thought the way they addressed it in Day was brilliant, and I don’t want to take away from Day as a very fitting anniversary episode, I just think that to bring back Gallifrey was a little too out of character, and I can’t see what benefits it brings for the future. I appreciate that my view could be considered unpopular but I wonder if others feel the same? Let me know in the comments.

Step back in time...

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307 comments
Andrew_Swallow
Andrew_Swallow

In 'The Last of the Time Lords' the Doctor told the Master about several monsters from the Time War.  Some of these may still be attacking Gallifrey.  Each one can have its own episode where he defeats the attacker.

PeterThompson
PeterThompson

I wasn't sure myself but I am quite interested to see what they would do if it properly returned - is the master and rassilon still alive - and what has happened to all the bad timelords from the end of time, is romana alive etc. I also agree with some of your points - you mention about clara being the one to change the doctor and that was a big issue for me. After everything we've been told about the time war, why was it clara who was emotional, surely the doctor should have been the emotional one. I wanted the doctor to not know what to do, knowing he could possibly change what he thought had happened but also knowing the dangerous that the timelords could bring. There was no emotion or turmoil




thribs1
thribs1

You wouldn't say that if you listen to the Big Finish stories. The ones featuring Gallifrey and other Time Lords are some of the best.

jackrudrum
jackrudrum

I dont think it changes who the doctor is at all he wqs prepared todo it. He had false memories of doing it and therefore tjat stiff will still have left its mark. Havkng Clara catalyse the change was genius as it allows the doctkr tl retain thks sode lf hom wjere he forgets himself and goes tol far. He wpuld've done kt the great millenia old genius alien couldn't see wha I the generic human could. She could see that findjng another way was a better option than sacraficing all those innocents.the point of claras involvement is to show the dr doesnt always get it right.

robohappy
robohappy

Great Article, ive been waiting for someone to write this since the Day of the Doctor! Now, I don't hate the idea that Gallifrey is returning, I just hate how they did it. "The Doctor(s) never used the Moment." ARE YOU FREAKING KIDDING ME! We all have to assume that 9/10 thought they destroyed Gallifery. That they "forgot" they saved Gallifery. And they forgot they even used the moment. They never question the gap in their memory after the fez fell in the shack to the aftermath of the time war? 



Now correct me if im wrong, but didn't the Moment create a time loop of the Last day of the TIme War according to the End of Time. Maybe the Doctor could have saved the time lords by taking out the high council and ending the time loop or something else. But instead Moffat thought it would have been a great idea to have the doctor not use the moment at all and simply forgot he saved Galifery


JackArtaganMackenna
JackArtaganMackenna

They're not bringing back Gallifrey any time soon. Moffat and Co have made this abundantly clear. The promise of Gallifrey being somewhere out in the Universe simply provides the Doctor with a motivation.

conallmc2013
conallmc2013

Firstly it makes sense that the previous doctors don't remember which was the case in every multi-generational episode. Secondly rassilon was killed by the master- who himself was at a critical state anyway- their solution was only if there was no other option but due to the doctor's intervention it failed. By now gallifrey will be stable they'd have had years to sort out the political strains of before as well as the dangers in gallifey at the time. Although the whole time war story arc was quintessential to the new series- inparticuarly my favorite doctor Christopher eccelstone- it makes the story for me more compelling that he has to live in a lonely, regretful and pitiful state for hundreds of years. When the eleventh discovers the truth it rejuvenates him and gives him a personal reason to perciviere to save gallifrey rather than redeeming himself eternally for his failure to save his home 

bananaboatcharlie
bananaboatcharlie

I agree with almost everything you've said, except I think 11 is still broken because of what he had done. What I would do, is make the Doctor want it back but have doubts about what he was doing. Then have Gallifrey fall again. I think bringing it back destroys who the Doctor is now and who he was supposed to be.

VortexDan
VortexDan

Thank you! A very good article that articulates most of my complaints about the Return of Gallifrey! It's really refreshing to read this

stargazer0118
stargazer0118

I can see why many like the way Gallifrey was "saved" in Day of the Doctor (I also kind of enjoy it for the acting), but to me it feels cheap afterwards and leaves a bitter taste in my mouth. Like others have said, the stakes are so low now due to Moffat's idea that everybody lives.. Really hope the show's gravitas gets restored sooner rather than later.

Diana van der Pluijm
Diana van der Pluijm

Thank you for this article. I particularly agree with you on how neither the Tenth (or the Ninth, where is the Ninth in all this?) would NOT want their people to return, because - as I and other fans have pointed out - a large part of Time Lord society had been corrupted to the part of them being considered as bad or worse than the Daleks. People keep bringing up 'but the children?'. Of course children have no part in a war, yet, but when they're brought up to feel the same arrogance as their parents hold for the rest of the universe - of course some of them might've rebelled, but apart from the Doctor we haven't seen or heard any resistance, so one is almost forced to conclude almost the entire Gallifreyan population supported Rassilon's decisions - are they really innocent? And, if they are, couldn't they have been saved while the guilty adults would've perished? Was 'saving' a species that perpetuated a war that has killed billions or even more, that waged across all of time and space - something we can't even imagine - the RIGHT thing to do? Or do the needs of the many - in this case THE REST OF THE UNIVERSE - outweight the needs of the few?

TheNightmareChild sees into your soul!
TheNightmareChild sees into your soul!

So I've already voiced my opinion on this article's topic, but I just feel compelled to address a specific comment I keep seeing repeated through this comment section.  I've seen multiple people say that Gallifrey wasn't RTD's to destroy or something similar.  And I just don't even know what they mean by that.  RTD was the show runner, as well as the head writer.  In every meaningful sense, it was absolutely his to destroy.  He was put in a position where, from that point forward, he was in more or less total control of the show's mythology.  He was completely within his rights to destroy Gallifrey.  You might not like that plot point, but that doesn't and shouldn't have any bearing on how a show plays out.  Television is not a democracy, and for good reason.  Can you imagine what a horrid mess television would be if fans had any kind of input into their favorite shows?  


Every decision that an executive producer makes for a show is a gamble.  No decision is going to please 100% of fans.  It might even turn an entire fan base off of a show.  But they have to take that risk, because if they didn't risk losing their fans by being daring, then a show would stagnate and die.  And for my part, I thought RTD's initial direction with the Time War was great for what it was.  It added a new dimension to the Doctor's character, as well as added some mystery to him again.  But it obviously wasn't going to last forever, and I rather suspect that it was only intended to be part of that initial draw for new and old fans alike to pay some attention to the revived show.  And judging by the success that show has received in recent years, it would seem that it worked.

DylanKeithBrown
DylanKeithBrown

They doctors forgot because that's what always happens in a multi doctor story. Only the current one remembers the events.

awkward912
awkward912

I'm rewatching series 1 now, and I find that The Day of the Doctor actually adds a whole new dimension to it without negating any of the emotions felt initially. Seeing Nine's torment and repressed feelings in The End of the World, and seeing how he lets Cassandra die through it, I just wanted to shout "no Doctor, they're still out there!" That is the genius of the 50th. I sure am looking forward to the Dalek stories... 

HeyProfessor
HeyProfessor

The mass genocide that the Doctor committed — all the people he killed and all of the times he wrestled with that decision and was forced to come to the conclusion that it was for the best — simply never happened now. All of the amazing episodes in which the Doctor, overcome with grief, spoke about the tragic necessity of his decision are rendered meaningless by this newly-invented War Doctor who allegedly “didn’t count” until now. Now he counts. Maybe. Because of the magic of love and Bad Wolf. 

Now of course you can argue that the show plays with time constantly, and that it’s possible that this is a new time stream in which it didn’t happen, and that’s all well and good. But the fact of the matter is that from this point on, the Doctor is no longer complicated by this event. Moffat, who has never had the best track record with character development as it is, has actively written a plot which removes an enormous amount of change and progression from the show’s lead character. 

But more importantly than that, when you have no death, when nothing truly has weight or scale, when decisions don’t stick and nobody feels the consequences… it’s hard to care about anything. The stakes on the show feel so low at this point that a once addictive program is unengaging, dull and hollow. Even the 50th special had no real gravitas because we were basically watching a plot be un-done, rather than made. We were watching a character be un-banished, rather than created. For a celebration of 50 years of a television show, it felt awfully like a celebration of a writer who’s only been running it for 4 years. And, perhaps most irritatingly for a Davies fan, the complete erasure of everything that was developed during that previous era.

measkren
measkren

@Andrew_Swallow I thought about that as well.  But I also think that RTD threw those monsters in because he wanted to heighten the decadence of the Time Lords (and perhaps because he didn't really think Gallifrey could come back from the war).

thribs1
thribs1

Who wants to bet that one of them is the Emenince? That would be beyond awesome!

jlocoleman
jlocoleman

@jackrudrum  I guess English isn't your first language, am I right? Sorry if I offend you, I was only being inquisitive.

HeyProfessor
HeyProfessor

@bananaboatcharlie If I became showrunner, I'd have the Time Lords come back, only to be more corrupt then before, and start a universal war, and guess what happens.. the Doctor ends it the only way he can, and this time you see it happening.

supermoff
supermoff

@Diana van der Pluijm It's not a large part. It's just the ruling classes led by the High Council. The rest of the Time Lords are not corrupted at all. 

Malohkeh
Malohkeh

@Diana van der Pluijm I'm afraid I can't see the Doctor making that choice, to condemn innocents to death. That's what the whole point of Bad Wolf/The Parting of the Ways was: that he'd choose "coward" over "killer".

KristaWilson1
KristaWilson1

@TheNightmareChild... is Boe Derek 

Also, RTD's Time War pitch was just one of three (along with Mark Gatiss and one other). The BBC and the Head of Drama chose what they thought would appeal to newer audiences. It wasn't simply a matter of RTD having been given power as showrunner and then having him abuse it by making the decision to remove Gallifrey from the equation. I think it was a brilliant idea. New audiences loved the angsty Doctor. Besides, having Time Lords running around in funny hats would have been too much for a new/revived show. Particularly for those who grew up in the Wilderness Years.


Bringing Gallifrey back may well be necessary. Every show has a lifespan and while Doctor Who's premise (An alien steals and time machine and runs away etc) has a lot of scope, there is only so long you can go on with this in this day and age. RTD added a new layer of premise by introducing the Time War for a reason. But you CANNOT keep on with this premise. The show will outgrow it. As much as Moffat drives me bananas sometimes, I think he made the right call here. To protect the longevity of the show, the Time War arc needed to be resolved. People will argue day and night about whether it was in the Doctor's character to destroy Gallifrey or not. I've no doubt that it will be addressed in some way. Doctor Who isn't like other shows. It gets retconned all the time and it might just be best to accept that the Time War effectively allows multiple realities to exist at one time because time was repeatedly being rewritten. This also resolves a bit of cognitive dissonance for my around canon. Technically, all canon can be accepted - even contradictions, because of the number of realities that the Time War's rewriting could have created.

It's funny, you know. Here we are trying to make linear sense of something that the Doctor experiences as "Wibbly-wobbly".

 Notsosmartguy  the dalek of Jersey
Notsosmartguy the dalek of Jersey

@TheNightmareChild... is Boe Derek I agree but I'm more concerned about the people whining about it being brought back. I mean it was good that RTD destroyed it but gallifrey needed to come back and is much more useful to the show alive than dead. IMO the Doctor's greatest enemies aren't the Daleks but the Time Lord hierarchy and I'd like to see how the Doctor's actions during the end of time and day of the doctor come back to haunt him.

Silurian53
Silurian53

I sorry but did you even watch the episode? You do realise everything from series 1-the specials is still intact don't you? The doctors says the timelines are out of sync and when they all return to their own points in his life they'll forget what happened. That's the irony of it all. The doctor will live through the Russell T Davies era grieving and in pain about how he destroyed Gallifrey in the Time War when actually he didn't. It's a brilliant idea and makes rewatches even more painful for viewers as they wish they could just tell the Doctor themselves that it's still out there! He saved it!

 Notsosmartguy  the dalek of Jersey
Notsosmartguy the dalek of Jersey

@HeyProfessor I'm sorry but all that stuff did still matter Moffat left  series 1-4 intact the rtd era still happened if you wanna be butthurt over the fact that gallifrey was saved i'm not gonna stop you I'm just pointing it's not a new 52 style reboot where everything is ruined continuity wise. 

Ollie Walton Harrod
Ollie Walton Harrod

@HeyProfessor Thank you, for being one of the only people I've seen, to have noticed that the stakes are so low at this point, and that no one even dies any more. And for also not just going with the hype and thinking that 'The Day of the Doctor' was so amazing, and the best episode yet (blah, blah, same old, same old).

I agree with you entirely. Though I doubt others will be comprehensive of this, and continue to attack anyone who doesn't like it. -Possibly a bit too dramatic there.

thribs1
thribs1

RTD never created them. That was Nicholas Briggs.

conallmc2013
conallmc2013

@HeyProfessor @conallmc2013 however in the 5 doctors they visit the tomb of rassilon, and it is implied that the master killed him. Moreover I'm sure someone would have taken care of the tyrannical overlord when he was weak particularly the doctor's mother and other "traitors" not to mention wannabe succesors especially in the corrupt climate of gallifrey at the time.

Diana van der Pluijm
Diana van der Pluijm

@supermoff @Diana van der Pluijm And we know that, because...? It's all speculation of course, but I can't imagine the Doctor hating his own kind if it was 'just the ruling classes' that did this. Also, if there was a resistance... where were they?

colincreevaz
colincreevaz

@supermoff @Diana van der Pluijm no, the high council took the decision to the rest of the time lords and all but TWO (the doctors mother and a man) enthusiastically agreed. that's what the thousands of time lords chanting 'gallifrey rises' was.

Diana van der Pluijm
Diana van der Pluijm

@Notsosmartguy  @Diana van der Pluijm It's hard to answer your last question, 'cause I'm pretty sure I'd never be in a situation such as that and even if I were to say what I would do, it would still be speculation. But yes. If I felt that taking humanity out of the equation to save countless other species, then I'd be tempted to do that. Even though it would mean that I'd try to make up for this horrible decision the rest of my life, then yes. Your first question... It was both logical and moral, because, to save the lives of countless other innocents - including children on all those other planets, both born and yet unborn - the sacrifice of a 'mere' billion would be acceptable. Or would you rather see the Time Lords emerge, unscathed, from their pocket universe and try the same crap again? Plunge the whole universe, throughout all of time and space, in another Great Time War?

Hibernus
Hibernus

@Silurian53 I think you misunderstand the point. Nobody contends that the events of the earlier seasons have been wiped out (they obviously still happened). We're just saying they've become less meaningful to us because the Ninth and Tenth Doctors' sorrow and remorse is no longer substantiated.

Diana van der Pluijm
Diana van der Pluijm

@Ollie Walton Harrod @HeyProfessor That's exactly the point. Well said! No one of importance dies. Not even River Song has truly died. No one dies, so there's no more danger, so why should I care about the characters, when I know that there's nothing they should fear, because in the end they all live long, happy lives? Even the bad guys (Time Lords) and Daleks?

measkren
measkren

@thribs1 Nicholas Briggs created the Eminence, yes, but I think RTD put words in Tennant's mouth about other "monsters".  I need to re-watch "The End of Time" to be sure, but I think it's when David Tennant is talking to the Master in Rassilon's presence about what the Master never witnessed on Gallifrey during the "dark days" of the Time War.  To my knowledge, David's Doctor has never had a run-in with the Eminence...  I recall there is a strict no-crossover line between Big Finish and the BBC, which, though Moffat crossed it in "The Night of the Doctor," would have the policy in effect during RTD's tenure...


ilyootha is back in home Universe
ilyootha is back in home Universe

@Diana van der PluijmThis is not about condemning the whole universe in favour of saving one planet, this is about how the Doctor couldn't find another way of saving the universe other than letting billions of INNOCENT people die, and how it took him four hundred years (and one Clara) to think of a another way.



Yes, innocent people! There was a war going on, a dictator was revived to lead the Time Lords - who are only the ruling class of Gallifrey and don't represent the whole population of the planet. It's not like ordinary Gallifreyans could do much about it, even if they wanted to!


And yes, Nine or Ten or Eleven, given a chance, would only have been happy to go back and save their planet from destruction, no matter how corrupt the ruling class has became (and, in fact, has always been) - which is what they did here (but of course, they didn't remember it, because, well, that's how things have been working ever since The Three Doctors). At least that's what Ten says in The Fires of Pompeii.

ilyootha is back in home Universe
ilyootha is back in home Universe

@colincreevazYou realise that the population of Gallifrey is not limited to a bunch of Time Lords in the Citadel that we saw in The End of Time?

Also, there was a guy who said something that Rassilon didn't like in the beginning of Part 2 - remember what happened to him? There isn't much you can do other than "enthusiastically agreing" under such circumstanses.




jpepelko
jpepelko

@Diana van der Pluijm @Malohkeh Oh, but you see, he didn't. Clara and the Moment convinced him not to. And it's funny to me how you said 'mere' billions, like it's not a big deal. In my opinion, genocide is never acceptable.

Rani Nose
Rani Nose

Fear for a character's life is not the only reason why someone should care for them.

Diana van der Pluijm
Diana van der Pluijm

@Rani Nose If there is no fear for someone's life or even for someone's pain, then what is there to fear? What kind of excitement is there other than knowing there's a dangerous situation that has to be resolved? IF there's no danger, there's nothing to be concerned about. In every plot there's an aspect of danger, be it worry about someone's disappearance (and thus being in danger), about someone's well-being (be it physical or mental, probably brought on by an external danger), about having to find something of importance (due to someone or other being in danger of something), and so on and so forth. Without tension, no drama, no interest in what's going to happen. Good characters need good plots, otherwise it's just... watching everyday life in a sci-fi-setting. 

Rani Nose
Rani Nose

We are approaching the show from different perspectives. I just want 45 minutes of escapist entertainment. Whether or not there is the possibility that a major character dies is irrelevant to me.

Doctor What
Doctor What

@Notsosmartguy  @Diana van der Pluijm Of course not.

That's like saying that the allies should have devastated Germany or Japan with A bombs in World War 2, not leaving a wisp of grass alive on it's ground.


Some more things on the show that we should remember:

- The 4th Doctor was unable to destroy the Dalek race in "Genesis of the Daleks".

- The classic series also established that not all Gallifreyans were Timelords, and for what you can hint from the few bits of information we have, I assume it was a kind of society similar to the Romans, with a high class (the Patricians or Timelords) and a working class (the Plebeians or Gallifreyans). From what was stated in The End of Time, it was the Timelords who were corrupted, but what about the millions of Gallifreyans? They were probably out, even unaware of Rassilon's plan. Should they be condemned as well?

- Most Classic Who fans were not happy with RTD decision of the Doctor being "the destroyer of the worlds", because it clashed a lot from the Doctor we've seen in the first 8 incarnations.

- Since the series revival, we have seen Doctors 9, 10 & 11 feeling guilty for what he did. When one wears such a heavy burden on his shoulders, usually he would do anything to repair the damage he's done.

- Some of these discussion are a bit pointless, because we still don't know what's going to happen with Gallifrey. We only know that the Doctor achieved to isolate the planet from the rest of the universe, so his hands are not anymore soaked in the blood of millions of innocents. That was the whole point of Day of the Doctor: to redeem the Doctor soul, which meant finding an alternate solution to the destruction of Gallifrey. So, if that story arc is correctly handled, we could expect some great, epic stories on how the Doctor travels to Gallifrey and leads a revolution against Rassilon, to make his planet peaceful again.