TARDIS Index File

Last Great Time War

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Last Great Time War
Gallifrey time war
Dates: Throughout time
Location: N-Space
Dalek Empire Time Lords
Led by
Dalek Emperor, Davros, Eternity Circle Rassilon, the War Doctor, the General
10 million ships, billions of Daleks Over a million Battle TARDISes
Destruction of the Dalek Empire
Disappearance of Gallifrey and the Time Lords
Regeneration of both the Eighth Doctor and War Doctor
Memorable moment
The Last Day A mini-episode - The Day of the Doctor prequel - Doctor Who - BBC03:42

The Last Day A mini-episode - The Day of the Doctor prequel - Doctor Who - BBC

Another memorable moment
No sir, all THIRTEEN! - Peter Capaldi's 1st Scene as Twelfth Doctor - The Day of the Doctor - BBC03:13

No sir, all THIRTEEN! - Peter Capaldi's 1st Scene as Twelfth Doctor - The Day of the Doctor - BBC

One more memorable moment
The end of Earth - Doctor Who - Series 1 The End of the World - BBC03:36

The end of Earth - Doctor Who - Series 1 The End of the World - BBC

The Time War — also called the Great Time War or the Last Great Time War — was the war between the mightiest races in the universe, the Time Lords and the Daleks, "for the sake of all creation". It resulted in the apparent destruction of Gallifrey, leaving only two (known) Time Lords and a small number of Daleks as survivors. In a linear sense, it lasted for at least 400 years. Fought throughout countless time periods, however, it more accurately lasted an eternity. (PROSE: Engines of War)

The war Edit

The beginning Edit

The Daleks created the Dogma Virus, which would corrupt Time Lord DNA and eventually wipe out the Time Lords. They sent the virus to Gallifrey through an organisation known as Free Time, who were working for them. (AUDIO: Panacea, Ascension)

The Daleks then managed to hack into the Matrix, giving them a backdoor to invading Gallifrey. The Dalek Supreme led an invasion force into the Matrix with the intention of leading them out into Gallifrey itself. The plan was stopped by Romana II and one of her future incarnations, who created enough defences inside the Matrix to allow it to be shut down. Romana II trapped them in a time loop to ensure that a temporal war with the Daleks would be avoided.

Acting through his own authority and unaware that Romana had succeeded in defeating the Daleks, Narvin sent Valyes to Skaro to meet the Fourth Doctor, and give him a mission to avert the creation of the Daleks. (AUDIO: Ascension) The Doctor's mission on Skaro during the Thousand Year War had certain objectives:

  • If possible, to avert the creation of the Daleks
  • Otherwise to alter their development and make them less aggressive
  • To find some intrinsic flaw or weakness to exploit in the Daleks

The Doctor believed he might have set back the history of the Daleks for a thousand years. (TV: Genesis of the Daleks) This attempt to avert their creation created hostilities by the Daleks towards Time Lords and would eventually lead to war. (WC: Captain Jack's Monster Files: Dalek, COMIC: Hunters of the Burning Stone, AUDIO: The Dalek Conquests, Ascension) The Eternity Circle even considered this act the very beginning of the Time War. (PROSE: Engines of War)

In revenge of the Time Lords plot to destroy them, the Daleks attempted to create a duplicate of the Fifth Doctor to send to Gallifrey and assassinate the High Council of the Time Lords. (TV: Resurrection of the Daleks, AUDIO: The Dalek Conquests)

The final Dalek attempt to attack the Time Lords involved the Hand of Omega, which Davros attempted to use to make the Daleks have mastery over time like the Time Lords. The Seventh Doctor tricked Davros into using the Hand of Omega to destroy Skaro's sun. (TV: Remembrance of the Daleks, AUDIO: The Dalek Conquests)

After this, the Daleks' next step was to start a war with the Time Lords. (AUDIO: The Dalek Conquests)

The conflict Edit


The start of the War. (COMIC: Agent Provocateur)

The Dalek forces numbered in the billions (TV: The Day of the Doctor) and fielded a fleet of ten million flying saucers. (TV: Dalek) The Time Lords used over a million Battle TARDISes. (PROSE: Peacemaker) Over the course of the war the Time Lords deployed every forbidden weapon of the Omega Arsenal against the Daleks save for the Moment, which they dared not use because it had a conscience and could sit in judgment of their actions. (TV: The Day of the Doctor)

Involvement of the Eighth Doctor Edit

The Eighth Doctor decided to become a part of the Time War after watching a child die at the hands of a Dalek. (PROSE: Museum Peace) He stated that he refused to fight in the war, claiming he was "a good man", and instead "helped out" when he could. (TV: The Night of the Doctor)

Rassilon was resurrected in the early days of the War to lead the Time Lords in battle. (PROSE: Engines of War) In the first days the home planet of the Zygons was destroyed. (TV: The Day of the Doctor) In the first year, Davros was killed at the Gates of Elysium when his command ship flew into the jaws of the Nightmare Child. The Doctor tried to save him, but failed. At the cost of his own sanity, Caan, the last survivor of the Cult Of Skaro, was able to time shift back into the war and save Davros from the time-locked event, bringing him into the post-war universe. (TV: The Stolen Earth)

During the period of helping, the Eighth Doctor attempted to save a group of sentient suns from falling into another universe. (PROSE: Osskah) and tried to regain the Great Key, which had been stolen by unknown forces. After being imprisoned for a month, with the help of Chantir, he overpowered the guards and escaped with the key. With the key, he believed that the De-mat Gun could be replicated and the Medusa Cascade closed. The Doctor planned to modify the gun so that instead of it removing an individual from time and space, it would remove millions. (COMIC: The Forgotten) Douglas Henderson was created as a living weapon during the Time War. (COMIC: The Big, Blue Box) During the War, while trying to help people, the strain of the fighting started to show on the Eighth Doctor, as his TARDIS was shown to have scorch marks from laser fire, due to escaping the warzones. His outfit was becoming increasingly battered, degrading from tidy to scruffy (TV: The Night of the Doctor)

Fighting Intensifies Edit

Some time during the war, the Doctor tried to save a gun-ship pilot, Cass, as her spaceship was on a collision-course with the planet Karn. Cass rejected his help after finding out he was a Time Lord, claiming he was no different than the Daleks. Both Cass and the Doctor died in the crash. The Sisterhood of Karn temporarily revived the Doctor, and offered to control his regeneration so that he could become the person he needed to be to end the Time War. Having kept out of the war till this point, he eventually succumbed to their persuasive arguments. He told them he needed to become a warrior, and regenerated. This newly-regenerated incarnation rejected the title of "Doctor" immediately, his first words being, "Doctor, no more." (TV: The Night of the Doctor) The Sontarans told legends of the Doctor leading Time Lords into battle. (TV: The Sontaran Stratagem)

During the war, the entire chain of Hotel Historia was destroyed, (COMIC: Hotel Historia) Polymos was destroyed, (PROSE: The Dust of Ages), as was Kolox, leaving behind the Kolox Nebula, (COMIC: The Skrawn Inheritance) It was also implied that the Nestene lost their homeworld during the war. (TV: Rose) The Gelth were reduced to gaseous form. (TV: The Unquiet Dead)

The Time Lords resurrected the Master, believing him an excellent soldier for a Time War, due to his savagery. The Master was at the Cruciform, but when the Dalek Emperor took control of it, he ran in fear from the battlefield to the end of the universe, remaining unaware of the Time War's conclusion until told by the Doctor many years later. (TV: The Sound of Drums) The Doctor was sent to carry out a mission to find the Master once he had fled the Time War, but could not find him. (PROSE: Engines of War)

Gallifrey time war

Gallifrey during the final days of the War (TV: The End of Time)

Towards the end of the war, the Daleks sent a capsule to Earth in the year 70 to spread the Dalek Factor amongst humans. The capsule's engine exploded and the Dalek was killed soon after impact. It released only a small amount of the Dalek Factor, leading to only one in five hundred million humans having it. (PROSE: I am a Dalek)

At the heart of the war, millions were killed and brought back to life every second. (TV: The End of Time)

When the Time War had been raging for four hundred years of linear time (though temporal war zones had left no era of history unscathed), the War Doctor, who had been fighting in the Time War for a hundred years or more, led the Fifth Time Lord Battle Fleet against the Daleks in the Tantalus Eye. They defeated the Daleks there, but were soon wiped out by nearby Dalek stealth ships. The Doctor then crash-landed on a nearby planet, Moldox. Here, he met a Dalek hunter going by the name "Cinder", an orphaned victim of the Time War at a very young age who survived the extermination of her family by hiding. She helped the Doctor infiltrate a Dalek base and uncover their plans to create a De-mat weapon that could erase its victims from history, and the Daleks planned to do the same to Gallifrey. The Doctor brought Cinder aboard his TARDIS en route to Gallifrey to warn the Time Lords of the Daleks' plan.

The Doctor spoke to Rassilon and the High Council of Time Lords in a meeting, where Rassilon planned to detonate the Tear of Isha in the Tantalus Eye. Rassilon consulted Borusa on his plan, who told him it would succeed. However, it would have caused the destruction of many innocent lives. The Doctor opposed the plan, which made Rassilon throw both him and Cinder in a prison cell.

Cinder was also kidnapped by the Time Lords Karlax and the Castellan and received a mind probe to back up the Doctor's claims that the Daleks were going to eliminate their world. After finding out about the mind probe, with Cinder's help, the Doctor broke free of the prison. The Doctor took Cinder from the Capitol and took her to the Death Zone, where the two of them retaliated by kidnapping the immortalised Borusa from his imprisonment in the Dark Tower. Under Rassilon's orders, Karlax pursued them with some help from the Celestial Intervention Agency to assassinate them.

During the chase, the CIA and their Battle TARDISes were attacked by Dalek stealth ships. The Doctor materialised around Karlax and saved him from death, through he began regenerating. The Doctor and Cinder took Karlax to the TARDIS' Zero Room where he could recover.

After regenerating, Karlax attempted to take the Doctor's TARDIS back to Gallifrey. The Doctor has prepared for Karlax's deception and set the TARDIS controls to make it materialise around the Doctor if Karlax tried to pilot it. Realising he had been tricked, having a past history of hatred toward him and being instructed with the task by Rassilon, Karlax tries to kill the Doctor but Cinder pushed him out of the way and took the shot from his pistol. Cinder perished, enraging the Doctor. When Karlax then tried to take over the TARDIS, the Doctor dematerialised his ship, setting the controls so that Karlax would be left behind in the middle of the Dalek Eternity Circle. There, he faced extermination as retribution for what he had done. The Doctor used Borusa to wipe out the Dalek presence from the Eye, thus ending the Dalek plan.

Once the Doctor had foiled Rassilon's plan to detonate the Tear of Isha and spared the lives Rassilon would have let die, Rassilon condemned the Doctor's actions and declared him an enemy of the Time Lords because of it. In honour of Cinder's death, the Doctor promised he would put an end to the War, declaring, "no more". (PROSE: Engines of War)

Conclusion Edit

Near the end of the War, the Doctor rejected his name, and the Time Lords called him simply, "the Renegade". Priyan believed that the Doctor now stood against the Time Lords, and would use the Moment to his own ends. By the last day of the war, the Daleks had destroyed every Battle TARDIS and began to invade Gallifrey itself. (COMIC: Sky Jacks) A crucial battlefield was Arcadia, where the Doctor fought on the front lines. (TV: Doomsday, The Day of the Doctor, The Last Day) Arcadia was a city on Gallifrey, and the most secure Time Lord stronghold. It had defences called sky trenches. It was thought to have been impossible to break through two of them, but in the last day of the conflict, the Daleks broke through all 400 of them. (TV: The Last Day) Finally, they then proceeded to bombard Gallifrey from space with their remaining fleets, all the while moving towards the Capitol. (TV: The Day of the Doctor)

The Doctor came into possession of the Moment and was ready to destroy Gallifrey. (TV: The End of Time, The Day of the Doctor) One account claimed that the Doctor created the Moment from a De-Mat Gun modified by the Great Key. (COMIC: Don't Step on the Grass) Another revealed that the War Doctor, showing no familiarity with its workings or sentient operating system, stole the Moment from the Omega Arsenal on the final day of the Time War. The General said the Moment was the final creation of the Ancients of Gallifrey. (TV: The Day of the Doctor)

President Rassilon was so desperate he proposed the Ultimate Sanction. The Time Lords would become creatures of pure consciousness and all of creation would be destroyed. Learning the Doctor possessed the Moment, the Time Lord High Council tried to escape the time lock by implanting a signal in the mind of the Master when he was a boy. They then sent a Gallifreyan diamond called a White-Point Star to Earth in 2009, where the Master had escaped to. With the signal inside the older Master and six billion humans converted by the Immortality Gate into the Master Race to triangulate it, the Master made a connection with the Time Lords' signal.

Five Time Lords, including Rassilon and the Woman, escaped to Earth in 2009, where Gallifrey itself started to return and everything from the war could escape. The Tenth Doctor, who had already ended the war some time before, broke the connection by shooting the White-Point Star; the Time Lords, Gallifrey, and the Master, who had seen how monstrous his people had become and decided to take revenge on Rassilon for making him a monster, vanished in a burst of white light and were sent, according to the Doctor, "back into [the] hell" of the Time War. (TV: The End of Time)

As a consequence of this incident, Wilfred Mott became trapped in a radiation booth nearing a meltdown. The Tenth Doctor sacrificed himself to rescue his companion and exposed himself to a lethal 500,000 rads of radiation which began his regeneration into the Eleventh Doctor. (TV: The End of Time)

Other horrors and terrors seen in the final days of the war (including the Daleks) were the Nightmare Child, the Skaro Degradations, the Horde of Travesties and the Could've Been King with his Army of Meanwhiles and Neverweres. The Tenth Doctor described the war's final days as "hell." (TV: The End of Time)

According to one account, when the Doctor used the Moment, the war was time locked. (COMIC: Don't Step on the Grass) The time lock made it (in theory, or at least according to the Tenth Doctor) impossible to revisit the events; Dalek Caan, however, somehow entered, albeit at the cost of his sanity, (TV: The Stolen Earth) while the Moment itself was able to bring the Tenth and Eleventh Doctors through the time lock. (TV: The Day of the Doctor)

Gallifrey disappeared in a silent flash as bright as a sun, with many people believing that it had been destroyed. Its disappearance was so profound it stretched deep into the past and far into the future. (PROSE: The Eyeless) The blast was so powerful the universe convulsed as planets, systems and galaxies were obliterated. (COMIC: Agent Provocateur) In reality, Gallifrey had not been destroyed, but merely transported to an alternate dimension by all thirteen incarnations of the Doctor; it was spared, but stored in stasis, waiting to be recovered. At the same time, all of the Daleks, having surrounded Gallifrey and bombarding it from space, suddenly became a spherical firing squad and destroyed themselves in a massive explosion that was believed by the rest of the universe to be Gallifrey's destruction as well. (TV: The Day of the Doctor)

The Cruciform fell when Gallifrey vanished. (COMIC: The Forgotten) The Eye of Time, long possessed by the Time Lords, vanished from the universe as well, later being possessed by the Daleks of the New Dalek Paradigm. (GAME: City of the Daleks).

Shortly after the Time War ended, the War Doctor realised he would not retain his memory of saving Gallifrey with his time stream out of sync from that of his future selves. However, he had reached a very advanced physical age and regenerated. (TV: The Day of the Doctor) His next incarnation, the Ninth Doctor, not knowing about Gallifrey's survival due to his time stream being out of sync, explained to Rose that even saving one man who "wasn't supposed to be alive" affected the whole of time. The Doctor rhetorically asked Rose whether she believed that the thought hadn't occurred to him to go back and save his people and planet. While the Ninth Doctor did not reference the Time Lock, he certainly knew attempting to save his people would have grave consequences. (TV: Father's Day)

According to the Tenth Doctor, "[i]f I could go back and save [Gallifrey], then I would, but I [couldn't]. I [could] never go back." (TV: The Fires of Pompeii)

With the exception of a very few survivors, the Time Lords and the Daleks disappeared from time and space. (TV: Dalek, The Parting of the Ways, Army of Ghosts/Doomsday)

Aftermath Edit

The Nestene Consciousness' planets were destroyed. (TV: Rose)

The Gelth lost their physical bodies because of the war. They were reduced to gaseous forms. (TV: The Unquiet Dead)

Though the Sontarans were aware of the war, they weren't allowed to take part, much to their dismay (TV: The Sontaran Stratagem), as opposed to the Graxnix who were one of the lowest races to take part. (COMIC: Hotel Historia)

Eve's species was wiped out in the Last Great Time War due to their abilities to see timelines. (TV: SJAF 2)

The Forest of Cheem witnessed the the war and wept at the bloodshed. (TV: The End of the World)

The Skrawn homeworld, Kolox, was obliterated by the time winds at the end of the Time War which left the Kolox Nebula (also known as the Skrawn inheritance). (COMICThe Skrawn Inheritance)

The Kin, locked away aeons ago by the Time Lords, escaped their temporal prison due to the Time War's mutilation of Time, Space and Matter. (PROSE: Nothing O'Clock)

The disappearance of the Time Lords created a vacuum that may have left history more vulnerable to change. The Ninth Doctor explained to Rose Tyler, (TV: The Unquiet Dead) the Tenth to Donna Noble (TV: The Unicorn and the Wasp) and the Eleventh to Clara Oswald (TV: Cold War) that time was in flux and history could change instantly.

The History of the Time War2

The Doctor would later hold a book detailing the events of the Time War in the TARDIS library (TV: Journey to the Centre of the TARDIS)

One demonstration of this was when Rose created a temporal paradox by saving her father, Pete, just before his death in a traffic accident. This summoned the Reapers, who descended to sterilise the "wound" in time by devouring everything in sight. The Ninth Doctor said that if the Time Lords had been still around, they could have held back the Reapers and prevented or repaired the paradox. (TV: Father's Day)

As well, the Tenth Doctor noted that when the Time Lords were around, travel between parallel worlds was less difficult. With their demise, the paths between worlds were closed. (TV: Rise of the Cybermen)

When the Time Lords made contact with the universe through a crack in time on the planet Trenzalore, they broadcast the first question to the universe to draw the Doctor in to free them from the pocket universe in which they were trapped. This also drew in "half the universe" who would descend upon Trenzalore if the Time Lords were released, and restart the Time War. The Doctor fought for centuries in the Siege of Trenzalore to prevent this, unwilling to leave the planet to its destruction but equally unwilling to release the Time Lords and restart the Time War which would bring Hell upon the whole universe once more. Ultimately, the Time Lords themselves closed the crack in time, closing the only known way for them to return, but not before granting the Doctor a new regeneration cycle, allowing him to defeat the Daleks besieging the planet (everyone else having been destroyed or retreated) and changing his future. (TV: The Time of the Doctor)

Known survivors Edit

Time Lords and other residents of Gallifrey Edit

Most of the inhabitants of Gallifrey at the end of the War survived, though apart from the War Doctor (TV: The End of the World, Dalek, The Day of the Doctor) and the Master, disguised as a human using the Chameleon Arch, (TV: Utopia) the majority of the Time Lords and Gallifrey itself were put into stasis in another universe. (TV: The Day of the Doctor)

K9 Mark I travelled through time to the year 2050 some point before the disappearance of Gallifrey. (TV: Regeneration)

Daleks Edit

A single Dalek survived and crashed on the Ascension Islands on Earth in 1962. (TV: Dalek)

The Dalek Emperor also survived. He had fallen through time to approximately the 2,000th century. (TV: The Parting of the Ways)

The Daleks sent a time capsule to 70 AD Earth in order to spread the Dalek Factor amongst the humans. (PROSE: I am a Dalek)

The Cult of Skaro and the Daleks imprisoned in the Genesis Ark left the universe for the Void before the end of the war. (TV: Doomsday)

A group of Daleks that appeared to be Time War era appeared in the 22nd century. (COMIC: The Living Ghosts, Extermination of the Daleks)

Several Daleks who had survived several pre-Time War encounters with the Doctor on the planets Kembel, Spiridon, Exxilon, Aridius and Vulcan resided in the Dalek Asylum. (TV: Asylum of the Daleks)

Though Davros was believed by the Doctor to have been killed in the war (consumed by the Nightmare Child), Dalek Caan temporal shifted into the war and rescued him. (TV: The Stolen Earth)

Others Edit

The Advocate escaped the Time War when Davros was rescued by Dalek Caan, using his path. (COMIC: Fugitive, Don't Step on the Grass)

Eve was sent to Earth as a child to survive extermination in the Time War. (TV: SJAF 2)

The Gelth survived but lost their physical bodies, reduced to a gaseous state. (TV: The Unquiet Dead)

The Zygon homeworld apparently burned in the first days of the war. Several Zygons survived this attack. (TV: The Day of the Doctor)

The Skrawn which were lucky to have survived their planet's destruction were left drifting aimlessly, bitter and vengeful. (COMIC: The Skrawn Inheritance)

Behind the scenes Edit

Doctor Who: Battles in Time Edit

Non-narrative material in Doctor Who: Battles in Time magazine revealed further survivors of the Time War.

Also, DWBIT 19 stated a group of Daleks massacred the pirate fleet of Captain Jack Lawrence in late September 1697.

Footnotes Edit

  1. Russell T Davies, "The Evasion of Time", Doctor Who Magazine #356, 25 May 2005, pgs 66–67.

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