TARDIS Index File

War Doctor

War Doctor
Main aliases: see list
Species: Time Lord
Place of origin: Gallifrey
First mentioned in: Rose
First seen in: The Name of the Doctor
Appearances: see list
Main actor: John Hurt
Other TV actors: Paul McGann
Memorable moment
*SPOILERS* The Final Moments of The Name of the Doctor - Doctor Who Series 7 Part 2 (2013) - BBC One01:04

*SPOILERS* The Final Moments of The Name of the Doctor - Doctor Who Series 7 Part 2 (2013) - BBC One

Another memorable moment
The War Doctor Regenerates - John Hurt to Christopher Eccleston - Day of the Doctor - BBC02:30

The War Doctor Regenerates - John Hurt to Christopher Eccleston - Day of the Doctor - BBC

Incarnations of the Doctor
1 • 2 • 3 • 4 • 5 • 6 • 7 • 8 • War • 9 • 10 • 11 • 12
The WatcherThe ValeyardMeta-CrisisDream Lord
Originally young and robust, the War Doctor set upon the warrior path for which he had been intended, and disavowed the name of "the Doctor". Though the Time Lords and Daleks continued to refer to him by that name, he was also referred to as "the Renegade" by Lady Priyan and "the Warrior" by Clara Oswald.

After becoming old and tired of battle and faced with the end of reality, the Doctor considered activating the Moment, to end the Time War by committing genocide against both the Daleks and his own people. However, the Moment's sentient interface led him down a different path by letting him view his future first-hand. By teaming up with his later selves, his mind was opened to a heroic way to end the Time War in lieu of the deadly alternative he was going to enact. Knowing he could unite with former and future Doctors in force, the War Doctor helped to save Gallifrey from destruction, although he was not able to retain these memories. Because of this, his later incarnations disowned him, believing him to have destroyed Gallifrey. Only the Eleventh Doctor retained the memories, and eventually remembered him as the man who saved Gallifrey, restoring the War Doctor as an embraced and respected incarnation.

After 400 years of battling in the Last Great Time War, this incarnation eventually regenerated into a younger form due to advanced old age after he had helped save Gallifrey and reclaimed his name.

Biography edit

Post-regeneration edit

Young War Doctor Reflection

The War Doctor at the start of his life. (TV: The Night of the Doctor)

The Eighth Doctor regenerated after drinking the Elixir of Life, picking a variation of the Elixir that would make him a warrior. When the Doctor regenerated into his new incarnation, he promptly rejected the name of "the Doctor", declaring as he picked up and donned Cass' bandolier, "Doctor no more". (TV: The Night of the Doctor)

Fighting in the Time Waredit

The Sontarans told legends of the Doctor leading the Time Lords into battle. (TV: The Sontaran Stratagem) Likewise, the Daleks became frightened of his mere presence in the Time War, (TV: The Day of the Doctor) and referred to him as "The Oncoming Storm". (TV: The Parting of the Ways)

During the War, the Doctor fought against Daleks, the Nightmare Child, the Horde of Travesties, the Meanwhiles and the troops of Neverwere, the Skaro Degradations and their kin, (PROSE: A Prologue) and was ordered by Rassilon to find the Master, who had fled from the War. (PROSE: Engines of War)

Events in the Tantalus Eye edit

Four hundred years into the War, the Doctor had made a sizable impact in its course of events, though he grew exasperated over the fact he sacrificed his own namesake in vain by repeatedly failing to definitively halt the Time War. Wearisome, embittered, and angry, he led a flotilla of Battle TARDISes to the Tantalus Eye to engage the Daleks. Dalek stealth ships appeared out of the Time Vortex and wiped out the flotilla. The Doctor moved his TARDIS out of the way of the main attack and crashed on Moldox. The ruined world was under siege by Skaro Degradations, variants of the Dalek species spawned from multiple alternate timelines. They were the consequences of innumerable failed attempts by Time Lords to stop the race from being born, only serving to re-engineer Daleks into even more dangerous abominations, and the Daleks' own erratic attempts to retro-evolve the Dalek genome.

On Moldox the Doctor met Cinder, and used her help in investigating a Dalek base to find out what the Daleks were doing in the Eye, after a new breed of Dalek emerged that possessed weaponry capable of removing living creatures from existence. This power far exceeded those of the Degradations, suggesting that its creation was not an accident. Indeed, it was a deliberate machination of the Daleks themselves, the Temporal Weapon Dalek, and the next step of Dalek evolution, which drew the Doctor's attention. He discovered that the Eternity Circle of Daleks were building a De-mat weapon in a plan to wipe Gallifrey from history. They also attempted to use his own skill of destroying Daleks and convert him into one of their own kind, as the "Predator Dalek".

The Doctor took Cinder to Gallifrey in order to warn the Time Lords of the Daleks' plan. The Doctor told Rassilon and the High Council of the Daleks' plan, and Rassilon decided to use to Tear of Isha to wipe the Dalek presence from the Eye, killing all other life in the area in the process. The Doctor was against this plan, so Rassilon had him and Cinder thrown into a prison cell.

With Cinder's help, the Doctor broke free of the prison. Unwillingly picking up a passenger, Karlax, the Doctor escaped in the TARDIS to the Death Zone in order to find Borusa, who Rassilon was using as a possibility engine to predict the outcome of battles in the War. Shortly after this, Karlax shot Cinder, who jumped in the way of his gunfire to protect the Doctor, and in revenge the Doctor dematerialised Karlax on board a Dalek saucer to face extermination. Bleeding to death internally, Cinder told the Doctor, "My life in exchange for billions of others, I'll take those odds," before having a final vision of herself as a young child with her family. She died on the floor of the TARDIS, causing the Doctor to let out an anguished wail. It deeply hurt him to lose Cinder- tears welled up in his eyes, though they refused to flow.

He had the opportunity to use Borusa's possibility engine to create an alternate timeline where Cinder survived, but knew she would have prefered that the Doctor ensure the Eternity Circle of Daleks never existed. The Doctor took Borusa to the Tantalus Eye, the proximity of which gave Borusa the ability to change the timelines to his preference. The Doctor used Borusa to wipe out the Dalek presence from the Eye, thus ending the Dalek plan, but at the price of Borusa's death. However, Borusa consented to this fate, regretting the actions he had taken to achieve immortality and Rassilon using him as a tool of destruction.

The Doctor then journeyed to Moldox after going around searching for information about how to find the cadavers of Cinder's deceased family, who were all murdered by Daleks and left to rot in the ruins of their own home. The Doctor buried the skeletal remains of Cinder's mother, father and brother along with Cinder's body, and erected a wooden grave marker that bore her real, beautiful human name. After paying his respects to the fallen family, he stood and looked defiantly at the Tantalus Eye. He decided that the Time War had caused too many losses of life, and it shouldn't have lasted this long. Instead of siding with the Time Lords, he would act on his own accord to bring about a conclusion immediately. In honour of Cinder's death, the Doctor vowed to put an end to the War once and for all, promising "no more". (PROSE: Engines of War)

Last day of the War edit

After fighting the Time War for four hundred years, (PROSE: Engines of War) the War Doctor learned of Rassilon's plans, and decided to take it upon himself to end the war. (TV: The End of Time, The Day of the Doctor) He was able to breach the Omega Arsenal, a repository of forbidden weapons. The General and Androgar learned he had taken the Moment, a weapon of ultimate destruction which had developed a sentience and conscience of its own. The Time Lords had never activated it, fearing to use a weapon that could stand in judgement over them.

The War Doctor appeared at the fall of Arcadia, in the midst of an attack by a fleet of at least ten million Daleks descending on Gallifrey (TV: The Last Day, The Day of the Doctor). He used a soldier's gun to inscribe the words "no more" onto a wall as a message to the Time Lords and the Daleks. His presence baited several Daleks away from innocent Gallifreyan refugees fleeing the ravaged city, who became solely concerned with eliminating him. He then destroyed the group of Daleks with his TARDIS as he left.

War Doctor and the Moment

The old and tired Doctor speaks with the Moment as he prepares to end the Time War. (TV: The Day of the Doctor)

He entered an old, rundown barn, choosing to activate the Moment far away from his TARDIS so that it would not witness the terrible act he was on the verge of committing. The Moment's interface manifested into the form of his future companion Rose Tyler (in her role as Bad Wolf) to challenge his use of the weapon. The Doctor did not recognise the image from his future, but did soon realise that he was talking to the weapon's interface. When the Moment indicated that there would be consequences to him if he used the weapon, he indicated that he had no wish to live through the event. However, the Moment decided that if he destroyed Gallifrey, his punishment would be to live. It also warned him that some day, he would count the innocent children on Gallifrey at that time, who would be among those killed if he used the weapon.

Upon realising that the War Doctor saw no other way to end the Time War than by using it, the Moment created a time fissure that would send him into his own personal future, in order to witness the effects that making such a choice would have upon him. He met with the Tenth and Eleventh Doctor in 1562 England. Initially disliking his future incarnations (finding them very childish), he ended up thrown in the Tower of London by Queen Elizabeth I. Unbeknownst to the three Doctors, she left the door open to see what sort of plan they would make. The War Doctor placed the calculation to disintegrate the structure of the prison door as a permanent subroutine in the sonic screwdriver. 400 years later, by his eleventh incarnation, the sonic, in a different case but using the same software, completed the calculation. Before they could do anything, Clara Oswald opened the unlocked door, freeing them.

Three Doctors and Clara

The War Doctor sees Zygons prepare for invasion with his successors and Clara Oswald. (TV: The Day of the Doctor)

Elizabeth I showed the Doctors that the Zygons were placing themselves inside stasis cubes so that they would awaken when Earth became a more interesting place to invade. Realising the Black Archive, which the Zygons had taken over in Earth's future, was impenetrable from the TARDIS, the Eleventh Doctor, at the suggestion of the War Doctor, told McGillop to place the stasis cube, Gallifrey Falls No More, inside the Archive before the Zygon attack. The three Doctors put themselves inside the cube, where in the 21st century they would awaken and stop the Zygons.

The Doctors and the Moment

The War Doctor's future selves arrive to support him. (TV: The Day of the Doctor)

The Doctors wiped the minds of Kate Stewart, Osgood and McGillop as well as the Zygons impersonating them, forcing them to cancel the detonation of a nuclear weapon beneath the Archive and begin peace talks between the humans and Zygons, as neither side knew which was the fake and which was real. The War Doctor felt that the regret the Tenth Doctor felt following his decision at the end of the Time War would have led to the saving of many more worlds and decided to activate the Moment. The Tenth and Eleventh Doctor joined him to press the button, but before they did, Clara insisted that they think of something else, which they did. The War Doctor realised the Moment didn't show him "any old future", but exactly the future he needed to see in order to prevent the destruction of Gallifrey.

The Eleventh Doctor cancelled the Moment's detonation, and all thirteen of the Doctor's incarnations, using calculations starting from the beginning of his life, safely placed Gallifrey in stasis in a pocket universe with their TARDISes as the Daleks focused their gunfire, using the same principle as that of the stasis cube. The disappearance of Gallifrey caused the Daleks to be caught in the crossfire. The War Doctor realised that it would have appeared to the rest of the universe that they annihilated one another, as Gallifrey was gone and the Daleks were destroyed. Because the Doctors' time streams were out of sync, the War Doctor didn't remember their effort to save Gallifrey, rather than burn it, and realised he would have to live with that. However, before those memories disappeared, he warmly smiled and declared that for the time being, he was the Doctor again. He thanked Clara and his future selves, then sought out his TARDIS among the three before him. (TV: The Day of the Doctor)

Death edit

War Doctor Regenerating

The War Doctor regenerates in his TARDIS. (TV: The Day of the Doctor)

By the time he encountered his future incarnations, the War Doctor's body had grown old and frail. As he began to take flight into the Time Vortex, he noticed a familiar flood of golden light had started coursing through his hands- it was time to begin a new chapter of his life. Much like his first incarnation, he commented to himself that this body had worn "a bit thin". He then mused that he hoped this time his ears would be "a bit less conspicuous", as he changed into his next incarnation with a peaceful smile on his face. (TV: The Day of the Doctor)

Legacy edit

The Doctor made no secret of his actions in the Time War. The Ninth Doctor recounted the end of the war to what he thought was the last Dalek. (TV: Dalek) The Tenth Doctor noted to the Cult of Skaro, with his companions in earshot, that he did indeed fight in the war, and in particular that he was present at the Fall of Arcadia. (TV: Doomsday) He later explained the loss of his people and home to Martha Jones, (TV: Gridlock) and admitted to the Master that by the end of the war he had tried everything, but had found no other way to end it. (TV: The Sound of Drums) The Eleventh Doctor admitted his perceived genocide of his people to House, in response to the latter's murder of hundreds of Time Lords. (TV: The Doctor's Wife) Instead he chose to reject who he was during the war, considering that incarnation to be "the one who broke the promise" of his chosen name as "the Doctor". (TV: The Name of the Doctor, The Day of the Doctor) In A Journal of Impossible Things, the War Doctor was not shown among the others. (TV: Human Nature) However, despite his attempts to forget, the Doctor occasionally thought about this incarnation in addition to his other eleven lives, even though he did not like to think about it. (PROSE: Nothing O'Clock)


A doleful-looking War Doctor within the Eleventh Doctor's time stream. (TV: The Name of the Doctor)

The Eleventh Doctor, upon coming into contact with this incarnation, spurned the very memory of him. He went so far as to suggest this incarnation did not even hold the moniker of "the Doctor" due to his actions in life. He explained to Clara that his real name was not the point; he chose the name "the Doctor" and explained that the name a person chose was like a promise. This unknown incarnation was "the one who broke the promise". He described him as "my secret". The War Doctor responded by defending his actions, stating that what he did, he did "without choice" and "in the name of peace and sanity". The Eleventh Doctor acknowledged that as true, but rebutted that it had not been "in the name of the Doctor". As he carried Clara away, the War Doctor turned around and watched them with a sombre stare. (TV: The Name of the Doctor)

War Doctor Hand

The Eighth Doctor defends the War Doctor's actions, as the War Doctor remains quiet. (COMIC: Dead Man's Hand)

When the Eleventh Doctor entered into the T'keyn Nexus (similar to the Matrix on Gallifrey) in order to defend himself, all 12 of his incarnations appeared inside it to defend himself. Although the War Doctor was there with the others, he was the only one not to defend his name. Instead, the Eighth Doctor had to defend what the War Doctor had (supposedly) done in the Time War and all he did to avoid it. (COMIC: Dead Man's Hand)

Ultimately, the Doctor remembered the true result of the Time War. After reassessing the War Doctor, his tenth incarnation declared that this incarnation had been "the Doctor more than anybody else", while the eleventh incarnation noted that the War Doctor was "the Doctor on the day it wasn't possible to get it right". As the Eleventh Doctor later dreamed about his search to find Gallifrey, wherever all his incarnations had sent it, he included this incarnation from the Time War alongside all of his other selves. (TV: The Day of the Doctor)

Psychological profile edit

Personality edit

War Doctor sees innocent Gallifreyans suffering

The Doctor's traumatised reaction when shown a glimpse of the suffering on Gallifrey. (TV: The Day of the Doctor)

The Time War caused the War Doctor to be addled with much regret, sadness, and weighted guilt, but he also managed to be cheerful and compassionate with a few hints of witty humour and sarcasm, indicating he was not inherently evil like the other incarnations were led to believe. While standing before the murderous Eternity Circle of Daleks, he joked that they weren't much of a circle at all, drawing an imaginary circle in the air with his finger just to demonstrate what it should look like. (PROSE: Engines of War) Upon having his head threatened by Lord Bentham for apparently bewitching the Queen, he quipped back, "Well, this has all the makings of your lucky day," as Bentham had unknowingly stumbled upon three different incarnations of the Doctor at once (TV: The Day of the Doctor)

He was also something of a gentleman, judging by his reaction to Clara Oswald. Despite a bumpy start, he ended up getting on rather well with the Tenth and Eleventh Doctors. (TV: The Day of the Doctor)

The War Doctor allowed Cinder to take weapons aboard the TARDIS with no complaint. He also was prone to bouts of anger and rage, on one occassion picking up Karlax by the throat and hoisting him in the air. (PROSE: Engines of War)

The War Doctor was also stern, as indicated by his dislike for childlike vocabulary like "timey-wimey", saying, "Oh for God's sake!" when he heard the Tenth and Eleventh Doctors' favourite lines, choosing to go with a simple "Gallifrey Stands" for himself. He considered the fact that the Eleventh Doctor used such words as a proof that he was ashamed of being a grown-up. (TV: The Day of the Doctor)

Similar to his second and seventh incarnations, the War Doctor was also painfully aware of the need to see the "bigger picture". He knew that it was entirely proper to sacrifice his people if it would save the universe. (TV: The Day of the Doctor) When questioned by his eleventh incarnation on the actions that he had to make during the war, the War Doctor responded by defending those actions, stating he had "no choice" and that he did what he did "in the name of peace and sanity." (TV: The Name of the Doctor) Upon learning that he had a chance to right the wrongs of his life, he became quite elated and took solace in restoring his right to be called the Doctor. Once the Time War had come to a close, he had lived a full life and held no qualms about regenerating into another body, facing the end with an immense grin in his last moments. (TV: The Day of the Doctor)

Unlike his other incarnations, the War Doctor also seems to endorse the use of weapons, wielding a gun during the Fall of Arcadia; however, on this occasion he used the gun to carve an inscription on a wall and not to fight. (TV: The Day of the Doctor)

In the same line of thought, the War Doctor, contrary to other incarnations, did not take on companions unless it was absolutely necessary or they proved to be capable of defending themselves. Because of this, he spent the majority of his life as the lone resident of his TARDIS. On the one occasion he accepted Cinder as a companion, she was a Dalek hunter in the same vein as what he had become, and acquired vital information about a Dalek plot to destroy the Time Lord race. Tragically, the Doctor's fears came to pass when Karlax murdered Cinder and an early demise befell her as a result of travelling with him. The War Doctor, suffused with unbearable feelings of outrage, reacted mercilessly to Karlax and sent him to his own death. (PROSE: Engines of War)

War Doctor Using Sonic on Memory Equipment

Being able to make peace and act like his old self again brings great joy to the War Doctor. (TV: The Day of the Doctor)

Despite being more concerned with the Time War than defending Earth and the rest of the universe as all of his other incarnations were, the War Doctor did still care and was willing to help out when necessary. He aided the Tenth and Eleventh Doctors in defeating the Zygon plan, coming up with the idea that let them get into the TARDIS-proof Tower of London and helping them wipe everyone but Clara's memories. He was also shown to be pleased that the outcome of the situation was peace rather than war and destruction, showing that despite being a warrior, he still did desire peace. (TV: The Day of the Doctor)

Skills edit

Though not as quicksilver as his future, more able-bodied selves, his older age allowed him to pace his thinking and not jump to conclusions that the flighty Tenth Doctor would, sometimes seeing a hidden solution after much contemplation. Such an instance happened when his future self was convinced the Doctors would have to land the TARDIS in the Tower of London, which Kate Stewart had TARDIS-proofed, whilst she prepared to initiate a nuclear disaster to prevent the Zygons from compromising the Black Archive. The War Doctor suggested the trio could use the Zygons# stasis cubes to insert themselves in the painting Gallifrey Falls No More and re-enter the National Gallery through it, like the Zygons did with other paintings. When the War Doctor appeared to simply be slow on the uptake, the Tenth Doctor wrote his elderly incarnation off as senile, annoyed after dealing with his quips and complaints, and consequentially, was proven quite wrong. (TV: The Day of the Doctor)

Appearance edit

War Doctor in his TARDIS

The War Doctor in his TARDIS. (TV: The Day of the Doctor)

At the start of his life, the War Doctor was much younger than when the Eleventh Doctor encountered him (TV: The Night of the Doctor) in his time stream. (TV: The Name of the Doctor) having a stern, shaven and determined face with a head of dusty brown hair. (TV: The Night of the Doctor) However, after spending an inordinately long period fighting in the Time War, he became jaded and tired, with pronounced wrinkles and weary eyes. However, Clara noticed these eyes were younger than those of his future lives in that they were more hopeful. (TV: The Day of the Doctor) His hair colour turned entirely to a deep silver, which he slicked up in peaks at the top of his head. The elderly War Doctor also allowed himself to grow a full beard; he was the only incarnation to normally sport facial hair, rather than go clean-shaven, further distancing him from the other lives of the Time Lord. (TV: The Name of the Doctor)

Clothing edit

The War Doctor

A defeated looking War Doctor. (TV: The Day of the Doctor)

The War Doctor, in the final days of his life, appeared old and bedraggled. His wartime clothing was rugged, no-nonsense, and imposing, with almost no eccentric qualities. The exterior layer of his outfit was a reliable yet distressed leather overcoat. It was the most exposed piece of his clothes and took the worst beating in the Time War, stripping away much of the leather. Around his neck, the War Doctor draped a plum and white frayed scarf knitted in a zigzag pattern, and kept his previous incarnation's choice of a Victorian-style waistcoat, which had a fob chain attached to one of the upper buttons. (TV: The Name of the Doctor, The Night of the Doctor) He also wore aged trousers, a box-frame belt with several fastener pins and studded pinholes, and combat boots adorned with weathered gaiters, which had a few buttons missing. (TV: The Day of the Doctor) His oldest article of dress was a bandolier across his left shoulder, taken off the body of Cass and equipped as an instrument for battle by him mere seconds after his regeneration was finished. (TV: The Night of the Doctor) He wore the bandolier as a reminder of his purpose for this incarnation. He also housed his version of the sonic screwdriver in the bandolier, securing it in a pocket that rested on the far left side of his chest. While other incarnations of the Doctor pocketed their screwdrivers inside their clothes, he kept it out in the open and visible, where he could draw it immediately. (TV: The Day of the Doctor)

Behind the scenes edit

  • John Hurt, aged seventy-three when he first appeared on-screen, is the oldest actor to portray the Doctor upon their debut appearance. The second oldest are William Hartnell and Peter Capaldi, who were both fifty-five years old when they made their debut appearances in 1963 and 2013 respectively (with Capaldi being several months older than Hartnell).
  • Strax describes this incarnation of the Doctor as having "the look of a battle hardened warrior" in WC: Strax Field Report: The Doctor's Greatest Secret.
  • This incarnation of the Doctor is never named during The Night of the Doctor itself, but is described as the War Doctor in the end credits and on the official BBC website[1]. John Hurt is listed as one of the actors playing 'The Doctor' in the end credits of The Day of the Doctor, and is billed as 'The Other Doctor' in Radio Times. His Character Options action figure is labelled 'The Other Doctor'. The subtitles on The Day of the Doctor refer to him as 'Old Doctor'.
    • Additionally, in-universe, it is mentioned that the War Doctor rejected the name of the Doctor, despite others referring to him as such, though it is never actually established by what name or title he referred to himself. During Engines of War, he informs his new companion Cinder that he was one referred to as the Doctor and leaves it up to her how she addresses him, asking her fellow survivors to simply call him 'John Smith' to avoid revealing his true nature as a Time Lord.
  • Though John Hurt was seventy-three when he debuted as this incarnation of the Doctor, special effects were used to blend archive material of the actor from earlier in his life to depict the War Doctor, in a reflection, as looking like a younger John Hurt immediately after the Eighth Doctor's regeneration. The archive image for the young War Doctor was apparently lifted from a publicity shot for the 1979 television adaptation of Crime and Punishment.[2][additional sources needed]
  • The War Doctor is the only incarnation of the Doctor to be introduced retroactively. All of his appearances predate future incarnations of the Doctor that already debuted, meaning he never had a distinct televised era as the latest incarnation to exist at the time of his own debut.

Footnotes edit