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War Doctor

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War Doctor
WarDoctorDesert
Main aliases: see list
Species: Time Lord
Place of origin: Gallifrey
First seen in: The Name of the Doctor
Appearances:
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

Incarnations of the Doctor
1 • 2 • 3 • 4 • 5 • 6 • 7 • 8 • War • 9 • 10 • 11 • 12
The WatcherThe ValeyardMeta-CrisisDream Lord
ProtectedTab

The "War Doctor", also known as "the Renegade", was the warrior-like incarnation of the Doctor who undertook a radically different and gruelling path compared to his other lives. Rather than act as a healer, he accepted the life of a warrior for the sake of bringing an end to the Last Great Time War.

Originally young and robust, this incarnation disavowed the name of "the Doctor", setting upon the warrior path for which he had been created (TV: The Night of the Doctor) although Rassilon and other Time Lords continued to refer to him by that name. (TV: The End of Time) After becoming old and tired of battle and faced with the end of reality, this incarnation 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 own 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, this incarnation 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. The Eleventh Doctor would retain the memories, and eventually remembered him as the man who saved Gallifrey, restoring the War Doctor as an embraced and respected incarnation. (TV: The Day of the Doctor)

This incarnation eventually regenerated due to advanced old age, shortly after he had saved Gallifrey. He remarked before regeneration that he was "wearing a bit thin," similar to the regeneration of the First Doctor. (TV: The Day of the Doctor)

Biography

Born for battle

Night of the Doctor 5

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 War

During the course of the Time War, the War Doctor led Time Lords into battle (TV: The Sontaran Stratagem) against the Nightmare Child, the Horde of Travesties, the Meanwhiles and the troops of Neverwere, the Skaro Degradations and their kin. (PROSE: A Prologue)

Last day of the War

After fighting the Time War for "a very long time", the War Doctor was able to enter the Omega Arsenal and stole the final weapon, the Moment, a weapon of ultimate destruction, with the intention of finally ending the Time War with an act of double genocide. The General and Androgar learned he had taken the Moment.

Appearing at the fall of Arcadia, the War Doctor used a Time Lord soldier's gun to inscribe the words "no more" onto a wall as a message to the Time Lords and the Daleks. He then destroyed a group of Daleks with his TARDIS before fleeing the planet.

The Doctor then fled to a desolate wasteland, where he intended to trigger the Moment, which would have completely wiped out the Time Lords and the Daleks. The General knew the High Council's plans had failed because Gallifrey was still in the line of fire and had no more battle strategies left after all of Gallifrey's weapons had been used, including the formerly forbidden ones. The only one left was the most dangerous of them all — the one the Doctor had carted off with.

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)

The Doctor entered an old, rundown barn in the middle of nowhere, 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, however was sentient, and possessed a conscience, hence the reason it hadn't already been used. Its interface manifested into the form of his future companion Rose Tyler (in her role as Bad Wolf) to challenge his use of the weapon. By this point in his life, the War Doctor was suicidal, not wishing to live through the destruction the Moment would wreak on his people. However, the Moment was capable of judging those who wanted to use it, and it did not allow him to end his life this way. It 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 who would be lost when it would trigger the end of the war. (TV: The Day of the Doctor)

Meeting with the future Doctors

Upon realising that the 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 Eleventh 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. 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. (TV: The Day of the Doctor)

Regeneration

War Doctor turns into Ecclestone

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

After growing remarkably old and grizzled, the War Doctor had not discovered how frail his body had turned, focusing nearly all his attention on the Time War. By the time he had parted ways with the Tenth and Eleventh Doctors and entered his TARDIS, his regeneration was triggered automatically. He chuckled at the sight of his old body renewing itself, happy that the tribulation of the Time War was coming to an end. Much like his first life, he commented that this body had worn thin. Perfectly content, he joked, "I'd hope the ears are a bit less conspicuous this time", happy to once more hold the mantle of the Doctor again, he gladly allowed his regeneration to pass and changed into his next incarnation, though he lost the crucial memories of how the Time War truly ended in the process. (TV: The Day of the Doctor)

Legacy

The Sontarans told legends of the Doctor leading Time Lords into battle. (TV: The Sontaran Stratagem) Likewise, opposing Daleks were frightened of his presence in the Time War and called him "The Oncoming Storm". (TV: The Parting of the Ways)

The Doctor made no secret of his actions in the Time War, with the Ninth Doctor in particular explaining to what he thought was the last Dalek what happened, (TV: Dalek) the Tenth Doctor noting to the Cult of Skaro with his companions in earshot that he did indeed fight in the war (TV: Doomsday) as well as explaining to Martha Jones that he was "the only one who could end it", (TV: Gridlock) while 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 forget the man he was when he did it. (TV: The Name of the Doctor, The Day of the Doctor) 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)

DoctorHurtWide

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". This ninth incarnation responded by defending those 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, and after reassessing the War Doctor, declared that this incarnation "had been the Doctor more than anyone else", the Eleventh noting that the War Doctor was "the Doctor on the day that it was impossible to get it right". The Eleventh Doctor thus forgave the past actions of his previous life and moved on, proudly remembering the valiant actions the War Doctor took instead, and used them as an example to live by once again as he began the search for Gallifrey, wherever the Doctors had sent it. (TV: The Day of the Doctor)

Personality

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. He was also something of a gentleman, judging by his reaction to Clara Oswald and 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 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)

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)

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)

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)

Appearance

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 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)

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 also 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 undone. (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

Night25
  • 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."
  • He is the only incarnation whom not even River Song has met. Clara Oswald is the Doctor's only companion to have met this one.
  • Though John Hurt was 73 years old 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 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

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