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The Laws of Time regulated Time Lords' use of their power to travel in time. Beyond the First Law, however, the exact details of these laws were not well understood, nor were the punishments for breaking the laws particularly clear.
Specific laws of time Edit
First Law(s) of Time Edit
Meeting out of order Edit
Rassilon's First Law of Time stated it was forbidden, and thus generally impossible, for Time Lords to meet each other out of temporal sequence, (PROSE: Goth Opera) and specifically prohibited a Time Lord from meeting their former selves. (TV: The Three Doctors) Despite this, the Doctor on numerous occasions did just that — either accidentally (TV: Time Crash) or through Time Lord sanction. (TV: The Three Doctors, The Five Doctors) Upon meeting the non-Time Lord Sebastian Grayle for the first time, and being told they'd meet in his future, the Eighth Doctor informed him he'd broken the First Law of Time, which Grayle denied because he was immortal, implying the law could only be broken via time travel. (AUDIO: Seasons of Fear)
Charlotte Pollard broke the First Law of Time by travelling with the Doctor's sixth incarnation after having been the companion of his eighth self, thus exposing the Doctor to his own future. (AUDIO: Brotherhood of the Daleks) Similarly, the Seventh Doctor may be said to have broken the First Law of Time by leaving messages for himself. (PROSE: No Future) The law had a moral basis as well as a legal one. (PROSE: Love and War)
Influencing history Edit
The Seventh Doctor stated that interfering in Gallifrey's past time travel experiments was against the First Law, (PROSE: Cat's Cradle: Time's Crucible) though whether or not it was first, there was a Law traditionally preventing Gallifrey's 'present' from interacting with its own subjective past or future. (PROSE: Lungbarrow)
- Depending on the interpretation, the Doctor may have been speaking about interfering in any planet's past which would affect their development.
Although he could return her to Kastria in the present, the Fourth Doctor refused to bring back Eldrad (regenerated after a gap of about 150 million years) to her native time because that would have "contravened the First Law of Time", a "distortion of history". (TV: The Hand of Fear)
The Ninth Doctor once told Rose Tyler that "there used to be laws preventing this sort of thing" in reference to her interference with her own past. However, he failed to enumerate them. (TV: Father's Day) Likewise, the Brigadier's encounter with his past self was described by the Doctor's fifth self as being bad, but not as a specific violation of the First Law. (TV: Mawdryn Undead)
- It was therefore possible that other laws of time were concerned with the Blinovitch Limitation Effect, the more generalised problem of any being meeting a past version of themselves.
During his ninth and tenth incarnations, the Doctor willingly caused tiny loops in the timeline of those specific incarnations, without citing a violation of the First Law. Indeed, the Doctor once told Martha Jones that "crossing into established events is strictly forbidden, except for cheap tricks". (TV: Father's Day, Smith and Jones)
The Eleventh Doctor, while unwilling to cross his own timeline, was more lenient with the laws as shown when he brought a young Kazran Sardick forward in time to meet his future self just to try to change the man's entire past by showing him what his future was like. (TV A Christmas Carol) However, he later refused to cross his own timeline just to deliver a message to his past self and his companions, getting the Teselecta to do it instead. When asked by Captain Carter if he couldn't deliver them himself, he told the man that it would involve crossing his own timestream and that he "best not." (TV: The Wedding of River Song) However, due to the actions of the Moment, the Doctor crossed his own timestream in a big way when he met the War Doctor and the Tenth Doctor and they shared an adventure together. They later broke the law in an even bigger way by calling forth every incarnation of themselves to help with their plan. (TV: The Day of the Doctor) When going to Trenzalore for the first time, the Eleventh Doctor stated that it was the one place he must never go as it was where his grave was and a time traveller's grave was the one place in time and space they must never visit. He specifically said that he was about to cross his own timeline in "a big way," something the TARDIS didn't like and tried to prevent. The result of this crossing of his own timeline was that he believed his future was assured and unchangeable when he finally went to the version of Trenzalore where he would die as he'd seen the future version with his own grave. Whether this belief stemmed from the fact that he'd seen his own future or the hopelessness of his situation was unrevealed, but it was possible for him to change his own future with help from the Time Lords despite having seen it for himself. (TV: The Name of the Doctor, The Time of the Doctor)
The Twelfth Doctor refused to help Clara Oswald save Danny Pink as it meant crossing her own timeline which was a bad idea. Instead, he helped her find Danny by using the TARDIS to track the moment when the two would meet again. (TV: Dark Water) Unknown to the Doctor, he had earlier accidentally crossed his own timeline when Clara piloted the TARDIS from the end of the universe and they landed in a barn where the young First Doctor was crying. However, Clara kept the Doctor from knowing the truth and convinced him never to return to find out when and where they had travelled to. (TV: Listen)
Avoiding voids Edit
Upon entering a slow time conversion unit, the Seventh Doctor stated that the first law of space-time travel was "avoid voids" (PROSE: The Highest Science) referring to the White and Black Voids outside of time and space, (TV: The Mind Robber, Logopolis) the Gateway between N-Space and E-Space, (TV: Warrior's Gate) and the Void between all universes. (TV: Army of Ghosts/Doomsday)
Other laws of time Edit
Another of the Laws of Time stated that an object from a non-existent timeline cannot be present in the current timeline. Cousin Justine of the Faction Paradox, a time-aware faction opposed to the Time Lords, which, as their name indicated cultivated and revelled in time paradoxes, had a mask from another timeline. (PROSE: Alien Bodies)
In his eighth incarnation, the Doctor said that learning "anything about future Gallifreyan history" would seriously unbalance the concept of causality. When he proceeded to nevertheless break this law, he claimed, "I'm breaking one of the major Laws of Time...It could be the third." (PROSE: Alien Bodies)
Other information Edit
The Fifth Doctor stated that Time Lords served Time, rather than the other way around. (AUDIO: The Axis of Insanity) They were pledged to uphold the Laws of Time and to prevent alien aggression, as the Fourth Doctor specified: "only when such aggression is deemed to threaten the indigenous population. I think that's how it goes." (TV: The Hand of Fear) Although criticised for interfering in history so often, the Doctor defended himself by stating he could only prevent "outside interference." (COMIC: Dead Man's Hand)
The Tenth Doctor said he was in control of the Laws of Time after the destruction of the Time Lords in the Last Great Time War, claiming they were his and would obey him. However, he was in a highly irrational state at the time and regretted the interference with established history when he deliberately altered it. (TV: The Waters of Mars)
The Eleventh Doctor said that the Laws of Time were too powerful for anyone to totally control, and that repeatedly acting in disregard of them would make time "fold in on itself", threatening to destroy all of existence. (GAME: City of the Daleks)
After the destruction of time, caused by the TARDIS exploding, it was implied by the Eleventh Doctor that the laws of time no longer applied and therefore used the situation to meet himself and buy more time. (TV: The Big Bang)
By using an extraction chamber, the Twelfth Doctor was able to remove Clara Oswald from the moment before a Quantum Shade slew her (TV: Face the Raven), but in doing so, the Laws of Time were bent to keep her in a time loop that would allow her to continue experiencing life. However, this meant her existence was now contained to a small window of time between her penultimate and final heartbeats before being slain, while the Time Lords' technology allowed them to manipulate other elements of time so she would still be able to remain fully conscious and interact with others. This effectively placed her on borrowed time. She now existed as an anomaly who was still able to move around, but because her physical state itself was caught in a loop, things she needed to do while under normal effects of time or would experience under the normal effects of time were no longer in effect, such as breathing, heartbeat and ageing. In the case of breathing, it was reduced to a peripheral habit- Clara didn't need to draw breath anymore because she was perpetually stuck on one breath. (TV: Hell Bent)