Conquerer of Yssgaroth
Overpriest of Dronid
First Earl of Prydon
Patris of the Vortex
Ravager of the Void
|Place of origin:||Gallifrey|
|First seen in:||Star Death|
|Main actor:||Timothy Dalton|
|Other TV actors:||Richard Mathews|
|Main voice actor:||Don Warrington|
Rassilon was the founder of Time Lord civilisation and perhaps the single greatest figure of Gallifreyan history. He was generally considered the first Time Lord, though some believed that distinction belonged to his compatriot Omega. Most of Time Lord society hailed him as a hero. However, some contended that Rassilon was a corrupt megalomaniac who tried to murder his friend Omega and stole his invention to build Time Lord society. During the Last Great Time War, he returned to lead the Time Lords.
Rassilon despised the vampires and began a purge to wipe them from existence. (AUDIO: Zagreus) According to a transmission from Anathema (a dramatic reconstruction of Time Lord history, influenced by Faction Paradox propaganda), the war between the Gallifreyans and the vampires began before Omega developed the stellar manipulator, and thus before the creation of the Time Lords. This account held that when Rassilon first tried to harness the power of a Black hole, they punched a hole into another plane of existence, and the Great Vampires swarmed out of it. (PROSE: Interference - Book One) Rassilon then led a campaign to eliminate the vampires from the Universe, using bowships. The campaign was largely successful, but the swarm leader was not found. (TV: State of Decay, PROSE: Interference - Book One)
After the war, Rassilon wrote the Record of Rassilon, giving a history of the war and instructions to all Time Lords to kill the King Vampire if ever they came across him. (TV: State of Decay) According to the Cult of the Vampire Rassilon on Gallifrey, however, Rassilon became a vampire himself. This would lead to Time Lords and vampires sharing genetic material and similar abilities. (PROSE: Goth Opera) The aforementioned transmission from Anathema also held that Rassilon had been infected by vampires (or, as the portrayal of him in the transmission put it, "inoculated"). (PROSE: Interference - Book One)
After the war against the vampires, Rassilon and Omega planned to make the star Qqaba go supernova. The energy released would enable the Gallifreyan race to travel through time, to become Time Lords. (By this time, Rassilon headed the Prydonian Chapter.) A saboteur from the future, known as Fenris the Hellbringer, hired by the alien Order of the Black Sun, interfered and caused the "death" of Omega. The temporal technology of the time controller on Fenris's belt would prove useful to him. (COMIC: Star Death) Omega was also betrayed by his assistant, Vandekirian, who, according to some accounts, was in fact working for Rassilon, who was jealous of his friend's popularity amongst Gallifreyans. (AUDIO: Omega)
Rassilon led the Time Lords in the Millennium War, against the Mad Mind of Bophemeral. His memory of the event was erased, as happened to all others who took part in the war. (PROSE: The Quantum Archangel)
Rassilon brought the Eye of Harmony, actually the singularity of a black hole, to Gallifrey. There it lay beneath the Panopticon. (TV: The Deadly Assassin) He invented TARDISes after a war with the Archons. (AUDIO: The Next Life, PROSE: The Nameless City) He was implied to have created the transduction barrier that protected Gallifrey, (TV: The Invasion of Time) the Looms that birthed new Time Lords and Ladies artificially, (PROSE: Cat's Cradle: Time's Crucible) validium (TV: Silver Nemesis) and the De-mat Gun. (TV: The Invasion of Time)
Time Lord history stated the traditions of their society began with Rassilon, including the principles of non-intervention (which may be the same as the policy of non-interference) after he had a nightmarish vision of a dictatorial, imperialistic Gallifrey. (COMIC: The Final Chapter) The Time Lords themselves may have been created by Rassilon: the genetic link that enabled Time Lords to travel through time without ill effects was known as the Rassilon Imprimatur. The physiological traits of Time Lords, including the ability to regenerate, were his creations. (AUDIO: Zagreus, Trial of the Valeyard) The Valeyard claimed that Rassilon had implimented a flaw in the Time Lords' ability to regenerate, meaning that they could only do so twelve times, where the Time Lords believed that this flaw in regeneration occurred naturally. (AUDIO: Trial of the Valeyard)
Rassilon created a living weapon known as the Pariah which he used for missions throughout time and space. Rassilon gave the Pariah independent thought. This proved to be a mistake; the Pariah developed a mind of its own and rebelled against him. Rassilon banished the Pariah from Gallifrey, then created Shayde, a more evolved version of the Pariah incapable of independent thought. The Pariah would cause the creation of the Threshold. (COMIC: Wormwood)
Using temporal technology, Rassilon studied the future. He learned of the Divergence, a race which would eclipse his within ten thousand millennia. Fearing this future, he created a self-replicating, biogenic molecule which he sent back in time to seed all habitable planets in Gallifrey's galaxy. This ensured all intelligent life evolved in the form of the Gallifreyans. He trapped the Divergence in their own timeline, which Rassilon sealed into a time loop. (AUDIO: Zagreus)
Many important Gallifreyan artefacts bore his name. These included the Sash of Rassilon, the Rod of Rassilon (TV: The Deadly Assassin), the Coronet of Rassilon (TV: The Five Doctors), the Harp of Rassilon (TV: The Five Doctors), the Crown of Rassilon (TV: The Invasion of Time) and the Seal of Rassilon, a symbol used as a mark of Time Lord authority which appeared as a motif in many Time Lord designs (first seen in TV: The Deadly Assassin, named in TV: The Five Doctors)
These were stored in the Capitol and, save for the supremely powerful Great Key, which at one stage found its way into the hand of Cardinal Borusa, were made available to the Lord President of the Time Lords. (TV: The Invasion of Time). The Black Scrolls of Rassilon, also later obtained by Borusa, contained forbidden, arcane secrets (TV: The Five Doctors).
Supposed death and survival
Many rumours surrounded Rassilon's death (or lack thereof). One stated that the Time Lords had revolted and imprisoned him in the Dark Tower in the Death Zone. Borusa, Lord President and the Doctor's former mentor, believed that Rassilon had discovered a form of true immortality beyond the regenerations known to Time Lords. Borusa uncovered and used several artefacts from the Dark Times, including the Coronet of Rassilon (a mind control device) and the Game of Rassilon. The Doctor discovered the truth when Borusa used him to try to discover Rassilon's secret; Rassilon had indeed discovered immortality, but realised it was too dangerous a secret to share. Borusa was condemned to immortality as a living statue, imprisoned immobile in Rassilon's tomb. (TV: The Five Doctors)
Within the Matrix
Before he died, Rassilon copied his mind into his creation, the Matrix. (AUDIO: Zagreus) Within the Matrix he sat with other advanced beings who collectively called themselves High Evolutionaries and had some involvement in the affairs of the universe. The High Evolutionaries used the Gallifreyan construct known as Shayde on their behalf. (COMIC: The Tides of Time) Rassilon and the other Evolutionaries once hired the Threshold to stop a Dalek attempt to invade other realities. (COMIC: Fire and Brimstone) They sent Shayde to help the Doctor destroy the Threshold base at Wormwood located on Earth's Moon. (COMIC: The Final Chapter)
When the Master's last trap left the Eighth Doctor suffering from amnesia, Rassilon's spirit reached out to the Doctor and helped him direct the TARDIS to various locations where his past selves were about to face crucial dangers or defining moments, the younger Doctors restoring the memories of their future self while the Doctor was able to help his past selves defeat the threat facing them or provide them with important advice about their futures. (PROSE: The Eight Doctors)
From within the Matrix, Rassilon began to manipulate the Doctor into destroying the Divergence, arranging for him to be possessed by the essence of anti-time and appearing to him before this happened as well as saving him, so that he could become the destructive Zagreus and be used against Gallifrey's enemies. Rassilon possessed the body of Leela – the only body on Gallifrey that he could influence without setting off mental alarms – and used Romana to teleport them past the barriers in the Death Zone which was her presidential right. He did this to obtain the Ring of Rassilon and unlock his Foundry. He then tried to force Romana to resign. Rassilon formed an alliance with The Doctor's TARDIS, which had also been infected with anti-time. He used this to create a sword of anti-time, with which he hoped Zagreus would kill the Divergence. However, his plan failed when the Doctor refused to kill. Rassilon then used the anti-time sword to kill Matthew Townsend, Tepesh, and Walton Winkle, who had seen the Divergence and been re-constituted in the Matrix with parts of the Doctor. At the Doctor's behest Charley Pollard used the anti-time blade on him. However he gave into his Zagreus persona to survive with the help of the aspects of himself released when the three were killed. Zagreus refused to be Rassilon's puppet and cast him into the Divergent Universe to end his actions. (AUDIO: Neverland, AUDIO: Zagreus)
In the Divergent universe, Rassilon planned to steal the Doctor's TARDIS and escape, the Doctor having been forced to enter the Divergent universe to protect his universe from the anti-time within him, unaware that Rassilon had filtered the anti-time out of his body when he entered this universe. The Doctor stopped Rassilon and left him behind, his temporal senses breaking down as the universe's time-looped nature left him trapped in a repeating pattern, while the Doctor and his companions returned to the main universe. (AUDIO: The Next Life)
During the Last Great Time War, Rassilon was again the Lord President of the Time Lords. Now completely amoral and determined to avoid death at any cost, he intended to spare Gallifrey from destruction on the last day of the war by using the Ultimate Sanction to turn the Time Lords into beings of pure consciousness at the cost of the rest of creation.
Knowing that the Doctor intended to destroy both Time Lords and Daleks by using the Moment, Rassilon contrived to break Gallifrey out of the time-lock that blocked the Last Great Time War from temporal manipulation, and then follow through on his plan. He succeeded. For a brief time, Gallifrey broke free of the time lock and appeared in the skies above Earth. However, Rassilon was opposed by the Tenth Doctor, one of only two Time Lord survivors of the war. Rassilon was badly hurt by a last attack by the Master, the other survivor, out of vengeance once he realised that Rassilon had deliberately driven him mad and destroyed his life. The time-lock resumed and Rassilon, the Time Lords, and Gallifrey itself were all flung back to the Time War. (TV: The End of Time)
At first, Rassilon was a man who hated corruption and was good at detecting it. He was intimidating and unforgiving but was a hero to many Gallifreyans. Indeed, he may have even created the Time Lords in the first place, and therefore was considered a deity among them. (AUDIO: Zagreus) Rassilon was a charismatic leader who was capable of inspiring his people. However, his wisdom in recognising the curse of immortality and his opposition to the corrupting influence of power did not prevent him from becoming corrupted by power himself, becoming increasingly obsessed with avoiding death. (TV: The End of Time)
After the loss of Omega, Rassilon wept for him. The Other mused that Rassilon's actions were born out of love; albeit short-sighted love. (PROSE: Lungbarrow) However, some believed Rassilon to actually be behind the plot to murder Omega. (AUDIO: Omega)
By the end of the Time War, Rassilon had become ruthless, power-hungry and insane, being willing to destroy the whole of creation rather than accept that it might be best for the Time Lords to die in order for the universe to live. He dreamed of changing himself and his fellow Time Lords into beings of pure consciousness, free of physical bodies and the ravages of time. (TV: The End of Time) Rassilon had discovered how to become immortal without having to use regenerations to survive. However, he believed that the secret was too dangerous to share. (TV: The Five Doctors)
Rassilon was also manipulative, using the Master as a link between Gallifrey and the rest of the Universe which allowed him to temporarily free Gallifrey from the Time Lock. (TV: The End of Time) He tried to manipulate the Doctor into destroying the Divergence in the belief that they were too different to live, only to crucially underestimate the Doctor's strength as the Doctor refused to kill even for Rassilon. (AUDIO: Neverland, AUDIO: Zagreus) Just before his return to the Time War, he taunted the Doctor, saying that the final act of his life would be murder, after a failed attempt to fool the Doctor into an alliance with him, and into killing the Master. As he was dragged back into the war, he made one last hateful attempt to force the Doctor to suffer death as well, but was interrupted by the vengeful Master. (TV: The End of Time)
Behind the scenes
- Rassilon was first mentioned in TV: The Deadly Assassin. Prior to this, evidence pointed to Omega (who had appeared in TV: The Three Doctors) as the founder of Time Lord society. A Doctor Who Weekly comics story, Star Death, attempted to reconcile this by having Rassilon and Omega working together. A few subsequent televised Doctor Who stories, such as TV: Remembrance of the Daleks and TV: Silver Nemesis, also took this approach. Remembrance's novelisation by Ben Aaronovitch, dipping into the "Cartmel Masterplan", explained that Omega, Rassilon and a third historical figure, the Other, worked together in enabling the Gallifreyans to have time travel. In PROSE: The Infinity Doctors' universe, Omega states that the Time Lords had not three but six important central figures. These include Rassilon, Omega, the Other, Apeiron, and two others whose names went unmentioned in that source. The novel The Ancestor Cell also describes Apeiron as a founder of Time Lord society of the "main" DWU, confirming Pandak as another founder and mentioning in addition another name: Eutenoyar.
- Though his Doctor Who Monthly appearances show him as a rather foreboding character and The End of Time painted him as a villain, the much earlier The Five Doctors stated that Rassilon might have had a sinister agenda. Possibly, once he knew the secret of immortality, he grew power-hungry and became something of a hypocrite when it came to his "Watch, and Not Interfere" policy, corrupting the High Council of Time Lords.
- In Interference - Book One, Samantha Jones experiences a "transmission" from the Remote which depicts key moments in the Time Lord-Vampire War. Some details of the transmission are historically inaccurate, in part due to propaganda from Faction Paradox. Other details are filtered through Sam's cultural perceptions; for example, she sees Rassilon as being played by Brian Blessed.
- Rassilon actor Timothy Dalton was credited in The End of Time Part One as The Narrator, as the character's true identity would not be revealed until Part Two. The Character Options action figure of Rassilon was also packaged and marketed as "The Narrator".