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Hell Bent was the twelfth and final episode of the ninth series of Doctor Who produced by BBC Wales.

It was the final regular appearance of Jenna Coleman as Clara Oswald. Although Clara met her demise in Face the Raven, the Twelfth Doctor arranged for her to be extracted from time using Time Lord technology; Clara would remain conscious of everything happening around her, leaving her alive but no longer affected by physical qualities such as breathing, heartbeat or even ageing.

It featured the return of the Time Lords, who were last seen in The Day of the Doctor, and had given the Eleventh Doctor new regenerations off screen in The Time of the Doctor. Among them was Rassilon, now in a new incarnation after his previous body was last seen being attacked by the Master in The End of Time. Rassilon was banished from Gallifrey, along with the High Council, after losing the allegiance of his race for his cruelty to the Doctor and his role as one of the driving forces of the Last Great Time War. He was also deposed as Lord President, with the Doctor briefly assuming it in his place. Also returning was the General, who regenerated and was revealed to be a usually-female Time Lady who had assumed a male incarnation, marking the first instance of an on-screen regeneration where a Time Lord changed genders, as well as being a rare on-screen instance of a Time Lord also changing skin colour.

This episode also suggests that Time Lords are able to recognise each other, despite regeneration; however, Dark Water suggests it's harder to tell who a Time Lord is if their gender changes via regeneration.

This story reveals that Missy didn't lie back in Death in Heaven; she only told a half-truth. Gallifrey was back where it was in space, but not in the same time it was when it vanished.

Ohila and the Sisterhood of Karn also reappeared, wherein Ohila was hinted to have a greater personal history with the Doctor that may have gone back to his earlier days. Me, also known as Ashildr, made another appearance as well, having persisted to the final moments of time. She eventually ended up in possession of a TARDIS which the Doctor stole, and began travelling with Clara, who was not ready to return to Gallifrey and face her end. Hell Bent ended up being full circle the Doctor, where he was once again running away in his TARDIS. The story also saw the return of the sonic screwdriver, a brand new model to replace the model seen between The Eleventh Hour and its retirement in The Magician's Apprentice / The Witch's Familiar.

This story depicted the Doctor reaching his limit, seeing him break his own moral codes, step away from being the Doctor and unleash his fury on the Time Lords in an attempt to save his companion's life, which came with the price of losing his memories of Clara as atonement for what he had done. Additionally, several facts about his past before fleeing Gallifrey and prophecies of the Hybrid were revealed, though who or what the Hybrid was remained uncertain.

Synopsis Edit

After being tortured for billions of years within his own confession dial, the Doctor has been pushed to the brink of madness. Returning to Gallifrey, he must face his own people, the Time Lords, but how far will he go in his quest for vengeance? Does he have another confession? And how fiercely does his rage towards them for causing Clara's death burn?

Plot Edit

In the Nevada desert, the Twelfth Doctor walks into a diner and is greeted by a waitress who looks and sounds exactly like Clara Oswald. Having no money, he tells her he can play his guitar as payment. She asks how he got there, to which the Doctor replies was by magic. Using his sonic sunglasses to turn a radio into an amplifier, the Doctor begins playing. The waitress says she believes him. The Doctor plays a piece of music, and she asks him if it is a sad piece. He says that nothing is sad until it's over, resuming his playing. He tells her that he thinks the piece is called "Clara". The waitress asks him to tell her about this "Clara"...

Walking through the desert-like plains of Gallifrey, the Doctor arrives at the old barn where he slept in as a child and worked out how to save his home. He climbs up into its loft, seeming nostalgic as he overlooks his old bed. A woman he recognises enters the barn; with the Doctor's face blocked by a beam, she cannot tell who it is, so she asks him to leave. Walking closer, she meets his gaze, immediately realising his identity; she warns the Doctor that "they" will kill him.

In the chamber of the High Council, the Cloister Bells are ringing without end, warning of great danger. Rassilon wonders if that means the Doctor has returned; the General confirms it, radioing a guard named Gastron. Gastron has arrived via lift to the Cloisters, being advised not to approach them; he reports that Cloister Wraiths are more active. Rassilon wonders why the Doctor hasn't arrived yet. Ohila enters the chamber with two guards, annoying Rassilon that the Sisterhood of Karn would arrive uninvited; she tells him that at the end of time, one should expect the presence of immortals. Having heard that the Doctor has returned home, she came to see the resulting "fireworks".

In the meantime, the Doctor is trying to enjoy a bowl of soup, with a small crowd of Gallifreyans watching him in awe. Gastron arrives in a military craft, asking that everyone back away; they don't comply, even when he warns that its for their safety. Gastron orders the Doctor drop his weapons and come peacefully. Instead of going with Gastron, the Doctor walks up and drags his heel through the sand, drawing a line; he then resumes eating his meal, unconcerned. Watching from the Council room, Rassilon wonders what the Doctor is up to; Ohila retorts that he's just finishing his soup. The General decides they should try talking to the Doctor; words are his weapons, but when did they stop being theirs? The General and some soldiers try, failing; so does the High Council. Rassilon wonders what the Doctor is doing. Ohila then goes on to explain the Doctor doesn't blame the Time Lords for the horrors of the Time War, just Rassilon.

Finally, Rassilon himself arrives with his personal guard; the Doctor only responds with a simple "Get off my planet", clearly sickened not only by the horrors Rassilon created in the Time War, but for the centuries he kept him trapped in the confession dial. Rassilon does not take kindly to the Doctor's words, demanding he come with them. However, the Doctor still refuses to comply, forcing Rassilon to order his execution; he threatens them into complying by raising his Gauntlet. In the present, the Doctor explains this to Clara as Rassilon being a "gang boss" who hates him.

Coup Hell Bent

The Time Lords unite against Rassilon.

Rassilon turns his back to the Doctor, ordering shots to be fired. He turns back around, angered and surprised that they all missed the Doctor, leaving a burned outline of him on the barn instead. Rassilon demands an explanation from Gastron, who explains that in the Time War, the first thing that was noticed about the "Doctor of War" was that he was unarmed, and that "For many it was also the last." Gastron throws his weapon to the ground and joins the Doctor, explaining that he served at Skull Moon with him. The rest of the firing squad follow suit.

Raising his Gauntlet, Rassilon demands to know how many regenerations were granted to the Doctor back on Trenzalore, gloating that he's "got all night" to kill the Doctor's remaining incarnations. More ships from the Capitol arrive, much to Rassilon's joy. However, the General states that he did not call them. Putting on his Sonic sunglasses, the Doctor states he called them. In disbelief, Rassilon starta to gloat about his exploits, but the General forces his hand down, telling him to get off Gallifrey. Everyone has sided with the Doctor now.

Later, a shuttle is seen leaving the top of the Capitol. On a balcony, the General then explains to the Doctor that Gallifrey came back into the universe at the extreme end of the time continuum, give or take a star system; thus anyone banished from the planet has little choice in where to go. The General asks the new Lord President if he's gone too far, but the Doctor grimly warns that he's barely started; the High Council is next to go on a shuttle.

Ohila Hell Bent

Ohila talks of the Hybrid.

The Doctor demands to know why he was imprisoned within his own confession dial; it's meant to purify a Time Lord's spirit so they can be uploaded into the Matrix without regrets, not to be used as a torture chamber. The General starts to explain, but is caught lying by the Doctor a few times; seeing he can't prevent him from knowing the whole truth, the General explains in detail. All Matrix predictions foresaw the birth of a hybrid from two warrior races that will stand in the ruins of Gallifrey as it breaks millions of hearts to mend its own; the Doctor mockingly asks "what colour is is it?", pointing out "the problem with prophecies; they never tell you anything important." Ohila tells him he shouldn't be playing the part of the fool. The Doctor says he needs help; he turns down the General and Ohila, saying people with bad hats cramp his style. He needs to talk to an old friend...

Clara's death by the raven is shown again; however, right before it kills her, time freezes. Confused, she looks behind her to see the Doctor looking out from Me's home. She then sees a light, with the future Doctor motioning for her to come into the light. Clara complies, finding herself in a sterile room with technicians and the General. Clara asks where she is and the Doctor tells her they are on Gallifrey "billions of years in the future and [that] the universe is pretty much over." Clara hears a ringing in her ears, as the Doctor and General argue over telling her the truth. The Doctor finally relents, and explains she is frozen between two heart-beats; the ringing was her realising that she can't hear her heartbeat anymore. Thus she doesn't have a pulse or need to breathe (though she still does so out of habit). The General goes on to explain that her death is a fixed point in time; they will return her once they find out what they can from her about the Hybrid.

However, the Doctor takes the General's gun, threatening "on pain of death, no-one take a selfie". Clara is shocked by his actions, wondering what happened to him since she died. The Doctor asks for a human compatible neural block. The General informs the Doctor that his weapon has no stun setting, and that there is no way he'll allow the Doctor to leave the room with Clara. The Doctor coldly pronounces, "I will not let Clara die," before asking the General what regeneration he's on; confirming his regeneration is the tenth (meaning he is not at the end of his regeneration cycle), the General is wished good luck and shot. The Doctor takes the device and drops the gun, running off with Clara. Clara is shocked by what the Doctor has done, but he explains death on Gallifrey is basically man flu.

General regeneration

The General regenerates.

Gastron arrives in the extractor room, reporting the regeneration; he asks the General if he's okay, finding that he's regenerated into a female. The General is glad to be back to normal, explaining to Gastron that her last incarnation was her only male body; and sneeringly asks "dear god, how do you cope with all that ego?" The moment she starts wondering where the Doctor has gone, Ohila enters the room; she explains that the Doctor ran straight into the most dangerous place on Gallfrey.

The Doctor takes Clara to the Cloisters, an area located below Gallifrey's Capitol; it is guarded by the Wraiths, which only attack if they attempt to leave. Many enemies attempted to steal information from Gallifrey during the Cloister Wars, and were imprisoned within the vines - Daleks, Cybermen and Weeping Angels are among these victims. The wraiths use projections of enemies who attacked to attempt scaring them into retreating, to no avail. Clara asks what he's talking about, so the Doctor explains that "the Time Lords have got a big computer made of ghosts, in a crypt, guarded by more ghosts".

The Doctor tells Clara that a boy once got lost in the Cloisters and was told a secret by the Wraiths that caused him to never be right in the head again. However, the boy knew where a secret maintenance hatch was. Clara asks if the boy told anyone, the Doctor tells her that the boy kept it a secret; last anyone heard of him, the boy stole the moon and the president's wife. Remembering back to when Missy told her about the Doctor's past, Clara realises the Doctor was the boy in his story. The Doctor begins telling her about the time he spent in the confession dial; they are observed by the General and Ohila, who decide to go after them. Clara, meanwhile, is shocked to learn that the Doctor knew that the Time Lords were responsible for her death; he pretended to know about the Hybrid, so he could get back to Gallifrey and use their tech to resurrect her. He just "had to hang in there for a bit".

The General and Ohila arrive via lift, demanding that the Doctor come with them; Clara silences them as she tries to get the Doctor to tell her how long he was trapped in his confession dial, getting no result. Wondering how long the Doctor spent inside the confession dial, Clara turns to the two and demands to know how long. Thinking a moment, Ohila says 4.5 billion years; the General explains that the Doctor could have left any time he wanted, just needing to tell the Time Lords what he knew. Clara is shocked by this, realising that she meant more to him than she thought possible. Turning to the Doctor, she tearfully asks him why he'd put himself through hell for so long, and he replies with a simple, "I had a duty of care", and the significance of what had become a mantra for him in recent adventures is brought into sharp relief. She tells him that "people like me and you, we should say things to one another" and, taking his arm, proceeds to do so - words kept private from the audience and from the General and Ohila, to whom she refuses to divulge what she said.

Clara yells at the General and Ohila with a furious tirade - "Do you know why you have to hide here at the end of time? You are monsters! You are hated. You. Are. Hated. And by no-one more than me." Smirking, she then tells them part of what she told the Doctor; he doesn't need to worry because, they will be looking at her. The Doctor has gotten through the maintenance hatch, and is heading to the repair shop to steal a TARDIS; as one appears around her, Clara waves good-bye to them. The Doctor asks Clara what she thinks of the original design for the control rooms; she's not too fond of it. Ohila demands that the Doctor face her; seeing her face on the monitor, the Doctor opens the door and sticks his head out. Ohila points out that the Doctor has gone against everything he believes in, just to give Clara false hope; he just shuts the door and takes off. The General wonders where the Doctor is going; Ohila says "away".

Inside the TARDIS (Hell Bent)

The Doctor happily messes with the controls of his second TARDIS.

Inside the TARDIS, the Doctor tells Clara that they'll be having lunch, then breakfast, followed by cocktails with Moses, and then he'll invent a flying submarine because the fact no-one has is annoying. Once free of Gallifrey's time zone, he expects Clara's biology to start up again; however, she's still frozen. The Doctor takes them to Gallifrey's remains at the end of the universe, hoping that Clara's biology will restart now that there's nothing that can be damaged by his actions. However, the Chronolock is still on the back of Clara's neck; he's failed to save her, again, and begins ranting to her about no longer being accountable to anyone.

Hearing four knocks, the Doctor tells Clara what's out there is "Me"; he leaves the TARDIS to find Me sitting in a chair next to a fireplace. The Doctor reminds Me that he told her the universe would be small when he's angry at her, asking if it's small enough for her now. Me explains that she's managed to stay alive by creating a reality around the Cloisters on Gallifrey; she's the last thing in the universe, having finally earned the title Me. Me tells the Doctor that he doesn't like endings, while she's come to love both the beginnign and ending of things, having seen the beauty in Clara's death. The Doctor tells her to "go to Hell, which is about five minutes away."

Me then asks about the Hybrid, which the Doctor thought was her, human with Mire medical technology inside; Me speculates it might refer to the Doctor and theorises that the Doctor might be half-human. However, the Doctor brushes her off, asking if it matters. Following this, Me reveals her true theory: she thinks it's the Doctor and Clara - true companions who will go to extremes for the sake of each other. The Doctor denies the idea, until Me asks how he met Clara. Clara watches on the TARDIS monitor, realising that it was Missy that brought them together, just as the Doctor remembers. Being a lover of chaos, Missy chose Clara to make the Doctor more like her; she foresaw that the Doctor would become so attached, he would do anything, even risk the universe for Clara's sake. The Doctor informs Me the neural block will wipe Clara's memories of him, but promises to tell her before he does it.


Clara is shocked to learn she was Missy's pawn

Clara watches on the monitor, coming to learn that the Doctor plans to erase all memory of himself from her, then drop her off somewhere to live her life. When the Doctor and Me enter the TARDIS, Clara argues with him, demanding to keep her memories and revealing she used the sonic sunglasses to "reverse the polarity" of the neural block device to erase the Doctor's memory if he used it on her. The Doctor is sceptical; however, they both agree to take a fifty-fifty chance to have one of them have their memories wiped at random. After Clara suggests they forget the whole thing and just "fly away somewhere", they both touch the device, and press the button. It turns out the Doctor is the one to lose his memories. He collapses in pain to the floor. Clara, tearfully, asks the Doctor to stop saying goodbye but before losing his memories, the Doctor gives out advice, from "never be cruel or cowardly", to the more bizarre "never eat pears". He asks Clara for one last smile before he blacks out.

Back in the present, the Doctor continues talking to Clara; he doesn't remember what she looked like, or the "very important" message she gave him in the Cloisters, but remembers their adventures and half-heartedly says he is trying to look for her. Clara tries one last time to spark a memory by outright suggesting that she could be Clara, only to have the Doctor assert that he would "absolutely know" if he ever saw her again, causing Clara to turn away to hide her tears. Looking around the diner, he suddenly recalls having been to it with Amy and Rory. He tells Clara that he is currently searching for his own TARDIS, as it has disappeared from where he left it in London. As he begins once again to play the sad melody he'd been playing, Clara smiles and reminds the Doctor what he told her about that memories become stories; while he can't remember what she told him in the Cloisters, she suggests sometimes lost memories become songs. The Doctor compliments the sentiment and momentarily turns his back, as Clara walks into the back room, which is revealed to the console room for the TARDIS they stole from Gallifrey.

The diner vanishes, leaving the Doctor astounded as he realises he was talking to Clara; he then turns around to find his TARDIS, which still has Rigsy's graffiti memorial for her, left behind. The Doctor notices the portrait of Clara, but gives no indication whether he has connected it with the mysterious waitress.

In Clara's TARDIS, Me, engrossed in a TARDIS Instruction Manual, tells her the chameleon circuit is broken, but Clara is unconcerned, saying that she likes it. Clara affirms that she still has no pulse and acknowledges that the universe still relies on her dying. She asks Me whether the Time Lords can return her to her place and time of death, knowing she will have to face the raven eventually, to which Me responds with the affirmative. Me asks Clara where will she go now, she replies "Gallifrey, the long way around": she isn't going back to face her death just yet. The two share a smile as Clara, having been undergoing training in how to use the TARDIS for a while (TV: Journey to the Centre of the TARDIS) sets the vessel in motion through the vortex.

Twelfth's new Sonic Screwdriver

A new sonic screwdriver is gifted to a revitalized Doctor.

The Doctor boards his long-abandoned TARDIS and takes off, watching a new sonic screwdriver emerge from the console and launch into the air and catching it. He then sees Clara left a message for him on the blackboard - "Run you clever boy, and be a Doctor." As the TARDIS dematerialises, it does so without Rigsy's paintwork. The memorial on the front door flakes off piece by piece - any trace of Clara having been with the Doctor now gone.

The Doctor's TARDIS is shown travelling through space, the Doctor once again setting off on a brand new adventure - unaware that Clara and Me's TARDIS quickly passes by his, setting off their own journeys through space and time.

Cast Edit

Crew Edit

General production staff

Script department

Camera and lighting department

Art department

Costume department

Make-up and prosthetics



General post-production staff

Special and visual effects


Not every person who worked on this adventure was credited. The absence of a credit for a position doesn't necessarily mean the job wasn't required. The information above is based solely on observations of the actual end credits of the episodes as broadcast, and does not relay information from IMDB or other sources.

References Edit

Story notes Edit

  • The Woman who greets the Doctor at the old barn immediately recognises him when she meets his gaze. This suggests Time Lords can be recognised despite regeneration, like the Tenth Doctor implied. (TV: The Sound of Drums) However, it's also implied if a Time Lord's gender changes, they are harder to recognise as the Twelfth Doctor didn't know Missy was the Master. (TV: Dark Water)
  • This is the first Doctor Who television story to actually show a regeneration from a male body to a female. There have been references to this having happened with the Corsair (TV: The Doctor's Wife) and the Master (TV: Dark Water, Death in Heaven), and it was one of the options the Eighth Doctor received in The Night of the Doctor, but it has never been featured on a televised story until now, in this case the General from his eleventh to twelfth incarnation.
    • It also shows the first change of skin colour from white to black. The first incident was of Melody Pond to Mels, but the change was never seen, but the change the other way around was seen in TV: Let's Kill Hitler.
    • The General's regeneration is also the first instance in the revived series of a Time Lord regenerating while lying prone on the ground (as was usually the case in the classic series), former showrunner Russell T Davies having previously mandated that all post-2005 regenerations were to be shown with the Time Lord stood at their feet throughout the process.[source needed]
  • This marks the first time a Doctor Who television episode has had the minor expletive "hell" in the title. The word previously appeared in the titles of the comic stories A Cold Day in Hell! and The Road to Hell as well as the audio story Minuet in Hell.
  • This episode marks the first televised appearance of an interior shot of a TARDIS other than the Doctor's since Time and the Rani, the latter being the Rani's. It is only the second TARDIS control console seen other than the Doctor's since Time and the Rani, after the Junk TARDIS in The Doctor's Wife.
  • The tune played by the Doctor when he was sitting in the diner is a simplified version of Clara Oswald's theme from the Series 7-9 soundtracks. It is a rare example of a piece of incidental music composed for Doctor Who becoming part of its in-universe narrative. The Doctor says he believes the song is called "Clara". "Clara?" is the name of the track on the Series 7 soundtrack, though it has also been performed at the Proms and other events as "The Impossible Girl" and was titled "Clara and the TARDIS" on the soundtrack for The Snowmen, which featured the first appearance of the melody. In the context of the story, it is implied that the melody represents the now-forgotten words Clara says to the Doctor in the Cloisters; this is supported by the fact the same piece of music plays (in a full orchestral version) when the episode cuts away from the couple as Clara begins to speak.
  • The Radio Times programme listing was accompanied by a small colour head-and-shoulders shot of the General, with the accompanying caption "Doctor Who / 8.00 p.m. The General (Ken Bones) prepares for battle in the series finale".
  • The prophecy of the Hybrid says that it will "stand in the ruins of Gallifrey, breaking millions of hearts to try healing its own"; this could actually be a Fourth Wall break- the Doctor has abandoned his morals in an attempt to save Clara no matter what; the audience's hearts would be breaking.
  • Although they only receive a brief cameo, the inclusion of the Cybermen ensures the continuation of a pattern that has been ongoing since Series 5, whereby they appear in every twelfth episode of a series.
  • This story marked the first mention of the Web of Time in the revived series. It was, however, previously mentioned by the Trickster in TV: The Temptation of Sarah Jane Smith.
  • This is the closest thus far the television series has come to showing the complete end of the timeline of N-Space (the primary universe of Doctor Who), showing it at the very precipice of collapse.
  • It is suggested by the Doctor's change in clothes and his knowledge that the TARDIS had been moved from London, that some time has passed between the Neural Block scene and The Doctor walking into the Diner.
  • Director Rachel Talalay said in an interview that she originally wanted to have Timothy Dalton reprise his role as Rassilon for this episode[additional sources needed] but due to his commitment to the series Penny Dreadful it could not happen. Donald Sumpter was chosen to play the character in the final episode instead.

Ratings Edit

Myths Edit

  • The Twelfth Doctor's appearance in TV: The Day of the Doctor would be accounted for. This was something that was hinted at during production and early publicity for Series 9 - including public statements made by Capaldi. Ultimately, however, while the episode in itself was a sequel to The Day of the Doctor, no reference is made to the Twelfth Doctor's appearance during the battle and the story affords no opportunity for this event to occur.
  • The diner waitress would be an echo/splinter of Clara Oswald. False. This rumour originated when images of Jenna Coleman in a waitress uniform appeared in media including Doctor Who Magazine prior to broadcast of Hell Bent, with no corresponding scene having occurred before Clara's death in Face the Raven.

Filming locations Edit

Production errors Edit

If you'd like to talk about narrative problems with this story — like plot holes and things that seem to contradict other stories — please go to this episode's discontinuity discussion.
  • When taking off in the getaway TARDIS, Clara's hair changes from combed, to messy, to combed again, in a series of jump cuts. Similarly, her hair is noticeably different at the moment time freezes on the trap street than in the flashback footage from Face the Raven.
  • The inner doors of the TARDIS are much shorter than they should, only reaching about Peter Capaldi's nose and preventing him from getting out without ducking.[1]

Continuity Edit

Home video releases Edit

DVD releases Edit

to be added

Blu-ray releases Edit

to be added

External links Edit

Transcript of Hell Bent at Chrissie's Transcripts Site

Footnotes Edit

  1. Doctor Who: The Fan Show – 2017 Christmas Special

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