Rassilon was, alongside Omega and the Other, one of the founders of Time Lord civilisation and widely regarded as 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. In his own time, Rassilon was chiefly an engineer and architect but once he had left his mark, most of Time Lord society hailed him as a hero. Other Time Lords contended that Rassilon was a corrupt megalomaniac who tried to murder his friend Omega and stole his invention in order to build a Time Lord society.
During the Last Great Time War, he returned to lead the Time Lords to battle the Daleks, and tried to find ways to break the Time lock and escape the war. After the Doctor saved Gallifrey, Rassilon tried to get information on the prophecy of the Hybrid out of the Doctor and execute him, but was overthrown when the military sided with the Doctor. Rassilon was banished from Gallifrey at the end of the universe as a result, where he was found by the Cybermen and converted into a Cyber-Leader.
Early life and achievements Edit
War against the Vampires Edit
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)
According to the Cult of Rassilon the Vampire 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)
Foundation of the Time Lord civilisation Edit
Rassilon was Grand Master of the Prydonian Chapter. He and Omega planned to make the star Qqaba go supernova. The energy released would enable the Gallifreyans to travel through time, to "become Lords of Time". (COMIC: Star Death)
Rassilon started a coup and overthrew the High Council and President Pandak, taking control of Gallifrey himself. After a short time in power, Rassilon imposed higher taxes on the Gallifreyan people and changed the Games in the Death Zone to use alien warriors rather than Gallifreyans. (PROSE: The Scrolls of Rassilon)
Rassilon worked with a biologist named Thremix, who had created a virus that he speculated would grant the Gallifreyans immortality. Rassilon ordered the release of the virus, which wiped out a large proportion of the Gallifreyan population, and gave the remainder the ability of full-bodily regeneration. (PROSE: The Scrolls of Rassilon)
The Valeyard claimed that Rassilon had implemented 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 was approached by the Other around this time, who told him of Gallifrey's future and pleaded with him to change established events to make the Time Lords less powerful and selfish than they would become. (PROSE: The Scrolls of Rassilon)
At the time the Hand of Omega was used, 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 directional control device on Fenris' 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) Another account states that Rassilon deactivated Omega's protective forcefield remotely seconds before the star's detonation. (PROSE: The Scrolls of Rassilon)
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)
Using this technology, the Time Lords mapped out all of creation. They invented rules for the universe and purged it of its irrationality. With this act Rassilon and his people truly became lords of time and space. (PROSE: Christmas on a Rational Planet)
As the Time Lords banished the last fragment of impossibility from the universe, Rassilon said:
Now, see what we have created, we have built a world of reason triumphant. And it is good.
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)
Leadership of the Time Lords Edit
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)
After the Hyperions were defeated, Rassilon and the Alliance of Races embarked on another purge of races that were a threat to universal harmony. One such enemy was Count D'if and his Cybock Imperium. Rassilon challenged D'if to a game of Rassilon's roulette using the Time-Gun of Rassilon. D'if lost and he was wiped from existence. The Twelfth Doctor claimed that it was that moment that the Gallifreyans first began to fear their president. (COMIC: Gangland)
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)
Supposed death and survival Edit
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)
Copy in the Matrix Edit
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)
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 II 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 in favour of Zagreus, believing that this would ensure the destruction of the Divergence. Rassilon formed an alliance with the Doctor's TARDIS, which had also been infected with anti-time, promising to release its consciousness from the infection while using its body 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, proclaiming his status as the Doctor. 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. Although Rassilon had hoped that the deaths of his other selves would further break the Doctor, this failed when, 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, recognising that Rassilon was the real threat. Armed with the anti-time blade, Zagreus refused to be Rassilon's puppet and cast him into the Divergent Universe to end his actions. (AUDIO: Neverland, Zagreus)
In the Divergent universe Edit
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)
The Last Great Time War Edit
In the early days of the Last Great Time War, Rassilon was resurrected from his tomb in the Dark Tower in the Death Zone to lead the Time Lords to battle. Rassilon retro-evolved dozens of Time Lords to become a possibility engine to aid him in victories throughout the War, creating the discarded race of the Interstitials and succeeding with Borusa. Late into the War, he also sent the War Doctor on a mission to find the Master after he had fled the War.
Four hundred years into the War, Rassilon planned to detonate the Tear of Isha in the Tantalus Eye to stop a Dalek plan to wipe Gallifrey and the Time Lords from history. He consulted Borusa on his plan, who told him it would succeed. Rassilon's plan was foiled by the Doctor, who stole Borusa and the Tear of Isha, using Borusa to wipe the Daleks from the Tantalus Eye without killing all life around it. Rassilon condemned the Doctor's actions and made him an enemy of the Time Lords because of it. (PROSE: Engines of War)
On the last day of the Time War, Rassilon intended to spare Gallifrey from destruction 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)
Rassilon remained President after Gallifrey returned to the universe, now hidden at the end of Time - Rassilon himself having regenerated — and engaged in a plan to contact Ashildr and have her assist in the kidnapping of the Twelfth Doctor (TV: Face the Raven, Hell Bent) and trap him within his own confession dial in an attempt to learn everything that he knew about the Hybrid. (TV: Heaven Sent, Hell Bent)
The Doctor's refusal to relent led to his being trapped inside the dial for at least four and a half billion years, constantly 'dying' and recreating himself to breach the dial's barriers rather than confess his final secrets. (TV: Hell Bent)
Threatened by the Doctor's presence and still desperate for information on the Hybrid, the President ordered first troops and then the High Council to make contact with the Doctor. However, the Doctor was only willing to speak directly to Rassilon himself and eventually the President was forced out into the Drylands to confront him. There the Doctor held him alone responsible for the crimes of the Time War, and for his treatment in his confession dial. Rassilon tried to have a firing squad execute the unarmed Doctor who ordered him to "get off my planet." However, the squad purposefully missed due to their great respect for the Doctor. Military reinforcements arrived but they had been summoned by the Doctor. When Rassilon tried to use his gauntlet to kill the Doctor himself, the General reinforced the Doctor's order. Rassilon was overthrown as Lord President and replaced by the Doctor. Rassilon was forced to leave Gallifrey in a ship. (TV: Hell Bent)
Rassilon found the Cybermen, who were clinging to life at the end of the universe. Rassilon gave the Cybermen leadership and direction, and joined with their Cyberiad. Rassilon returned to Gallifrey and conquered the planet with the aid of his new allies. He welcomed the Twelfth Doctor when he returned to Gallifrey.
As the Doctor tried to gather his remaining Gallifreyian allies, he learned that Rassilon intended to use the accumulated energy of the captured Time Lords to literally regenerate the universe to fit his vision, only for his plan to be subverted by the Cybermen. The Cybermen placed the Doctor and Rassilon into the Cyberiad. Inside, Rassilon realised his mistake and formulated a plan with the Doctor to use regeneration energy of the Time Lords to undo what the Cybermen did to the universe. Rassilon helped the Doctor to realise his plans, and the universe was regenerated, setting things to how they were before Rassilon had met the Cybermen.
Rassilon was once again left in his Bowship at the end of the universe. The Twelfth Doctor wondered if Rassilon was able to remember the events with the Cybermen like he could. (COMIC: Supremacy of the Cybermen)
Alternative timelines Edit
In one timeline, Rassilon never existed.
In another, Rassilon was a woman and Omega's lover.
Skills and abilities Edit
By the time of the foundation of the Time Lords civilisation, Rassilon already proved to be able to stop a Gallifreyan fleet from falling into a black hole; moreover, he could spring bolts of power arc from his fingertips, a power called electro-direction. (COMIC: Star Death)
He was also incredibly intelligent. He was able to create and developed the Matrix and created or designed much of the technology that the Time Lords used, although this could not have happened without Omega giving the Time lords their power source. [additional sources needed] During the final days of the Last Great Time War, with the apparent help of a gauntlet, he was able to provoke the molecular dispersal of another Time Lord and to revert the effects of an Immortality Gate on a planetary scale, just with a gesture ending the Master's control and was also capable of developing various scenarios and outcomes and his scheme was only foiled by the Doctor's timely intervention. (TV: The End of Time)
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 (TV: The Deadly Assassin, 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)
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. The General himself stated that while Rassilon eventually became arrogant, insane and corrupt, he was once a good man. (TV: Hell Bent)
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)
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)
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, 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)
After regenerating following the Time War, Rassilon was extremely arrogant, believing himself to be better than anyone else simply because he was Lord President. He was also ruthless, showing no remorse for locking the Doctor in his confession dial for four and a half billion years to get what he wanted. He was also sadistic, threatening to remove the Doctor's regenerations one at a time and gloating that he has "got all night". Rassilon believed that Gallifrey belonged to him due to his status, but his arrogance got the better of him and ended up with him banished. (TV: Hell Bent)
Behind the scenes Edit
- Rassilon was first mentioned in The Deadly Assassin. Prior to this, evidence pointed to Omega (who had appeared in 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 Remembrance of the Daleks and 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 the novel 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.
- In Interference - Book One, Samantha Jones experiences a "transmission" from the Remote which depicts key moments in the Eternal 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".
- People with major involvement in the DWU and in Doctor Who Magazine, when asked in TEDW 7, were divided over whether the Rassilon seen in the television story The Five Doctors is actually alive or an artificial intelligence or if he had ever died prior to The Five Doctors. According to DWM editor Tom Spilsbury, it hadn't occurred to him before that he was anything other than being alive, and that "it might come down to semantics over what being alive means". Doctor Who scriptwriter Gareth Roberts believed that Rassilon is dead and the face that appears is "a clever AI". Head writer and executive producer Russell T Davies believed that Rassilon is "clearly alive", with his big face in the story being "A projection from the Matrix. A mental life extending beyond the body's death." Novelist, audio writer and comic writer George Mann believed that Rassilon was dead, but the Time Lords had figured out a way of "resurrecting dead people in extreme circumstances", doing "something horrible and timey wimey". Novelist, audio writer, comic writer and DWM columnist Jacqueline Rayner described his condition as "a permanent sleep which is pretty much indistinguishable from death", and that "He's immortal, but he has no awareness," and when the trap inside the Tomb of Rassilon is triggered, "he becomes semi-aware so he can oversee or judge what's going on, before going back into his eternal sleep again". DWM deputy editor Peter Ware believed that Rassilon is dead by the time of The Five Doctors, and his dead mind is speaking from the Matrix to the Doctors and Borusa. He mentions the line from the television story Hell Bent — "Rassilon the resurrected", as further proof that he had died. Doctor Who scriptwriter Mark Gatiss quipped that Rassilon is "biding his time until he regenerates into [actor] Daniel Craig". Head writer and executive producer Steven Moffat, who also wrote Hell Bent, understood that Rassilon was "alive, but in 'eternal sleep'", having got up from his eternal sleep to participate in the Time War, "And got killed. And resurrected. Because that happened a lot in the Time War." According to scriptwriter Terrance Dicks, who wrote The Five Doctors, Rassilon has "gone to a higher plane where he's a benevolent being who can, if he feels it's a big enough crisis, intervene".
- Rassilon was voiced in the German dub of The Five Doctors by Manfred Erdmann.