Doctor Who: The End of Time vs. The Day of the Doctor

Doctor Who: The End of Time vs. The Day of the Doctor November 26, 2013

I saw “The Day of the Doctor” twice over the past few days, once on the small screen and once in a movie theater in 3D. It was definitely worth the extra effort to see the latter. The 3D aspect was cool, as was the chance to focus in on detail and catch a few things that I had missed on the first viewing. Also cool were introductory remarks by Strax and the Doctor, especially the latter's mistaken introduction to the 100th anniversary featuring all 57 Doctors. If you saw it in a movie theater, did they all have a little bit too much in the way of trailers and preliminaries?

SPOILER ALERT! If you have yet to see the Day of the Doctor you may not want to read further.

For those who have seen “The Day of the Doctor,” you will know that it involves the Doctor with the help of the Doctor and the Doctor changing his own past. We are given to understand that the Doctor had lived with the burden of having committed genocide, destroying Gallifrey and the Daleks together using a time lord weapon called “The Moment.”

In the end, he puts Gallifrey in a bubble universe rather than destroying it.

But how, I wonder, does this relate to what we saw and heard in “The End of Time.” There, “The Moment” is mentioned and the Doctor is said to still have it. And Gallifrey almost comes back out of its bubble universe.

So exploring this in the 50th anniversary special could have been a wonderful point of continuity with what went before.

Instead, it seems horribly disconnected.

The crux of the difficulty is this: Why does the present Doctor not know that Gallifrey still survived? And why is he eager to find it again, having sent it back where he had put it after it was clear that the time lords were still in a callous warlike frame of mind?

Perhaps one can suggest that “The Day of the Doctor” occurs at a moment “before” the time lords managed to escape their own bubble universe prison, which had the effect of changing history. But I am not sure if that works.

I will surely be blogging about various details in the 50th anniversary special in coming days. I thought that here I would focus in on one niggling problem, but longtime fans will know that the history of Doctor Who is full of such continuity errors. Ignoring this one puzzling question, “The Day of the Doctor” was truly phenomenal in its exploration of choices, morality, and 50 years of delightful television with inside jokes galore which make a fan laugh out loud even on the second viewing. Some required knowledge of the classic show (as in the bit about confusing the polarity, and of course the scarf and the meeting with “the curator” at the end), while others did not (“timey wimey”).

What did you like most about “Day of the Doctor”? Any suggestions on how if at all to reconcile it with “The End of Time”?


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  • I was really thrilled with Tom Baker’s appearance, and with them working in Billie Piper.

    The seeming discontinuity with “The End of Time” bothered me too. This is either the series writers not worrying about, or fumbling, the continuity, or perhaps putting it out there as a mystery to eventually resolve. (Of course, it might have started as a fumble that they’ll retconn into a mystery 🙂

    • Dyce

      It was a major fumble that I highly doubt will be resolved. I really enjoyed The Day of The Doctor, but I had a really hard time with that the 10th doctor seemed to have no recollection of the events from “The End of Time”

      • Yeaton Clifton

        Believe it or not, the question that might be asked is does the eleventh doctor have a recollection of the End of Time. The End of Time was the tenth Doctors last story and the tenth Doctor portrayed in the DoD was at an earlier point in time.

        • djm

          I think that the 50th happens before End of Time as well because if the 50th hadn’t happened then End of Time with the Time Lords could not happen.

          • Joel

            I read the end of time as an attempt by the Time Lords to move Gallifrey though time at some point just before the end. Still problem remains, end of time the doctor rejects them, Day of the doctor he saves them and wants to apperently bring them back to the universe

          • Brandon Michael Carr

            actually to correct everyone the gallifrey he saves is the war doctors time line of gallifrey, they are in a time bubble, in that bubble time goes on, when Tennants gallifrey has already been years since the time war, they even show how this is possible with the whole sonic screw driver timey wimey thing to destroy the door

          • dave

            Some have mentioned that. Though a new question arises, how does the 11 doctor member these events. if war doc and 11 meets in 10’s time line and 10 and 11 saves war docs gallifrey then surely as its war docs timeline he would remember? As nothing has happened in 11ths time line except the human/zygon treaty

          • Dave

            rushed that a bit sorry 🙂

      • Matthew Henley

        Actually, they didn’t fumble and actually answered that, albeit in a roundabout way. If you get a chance, rewatch it and pay attention to the first scene featuring Gallifrey High Command. They mention that “the High Council’s plan has already failed!” – Guess which body made the decision to invoke the ultimate sanction?

    • Louie Louie

      Because a small minority of the Time Lords had turned bad, and in the End of Time they were in control – the doctor had no choice but to force them back into the the Time War.
      In the Day of the Doctor, he was in control. He thought once again about the many, many innocent Time Lords. He froze Gallifrey in time, meaning he can “sort it out” by his own means.
      In The End of Time he had no time to think of the innocents as he was too busy trying to deflect the High Council.

  • Just Sayin’
  • Dan Goldberg

    In DotD, someone in the Time Lord command says something about the High Council. Then the commander says something like “Damn the High Council, their plan has already failed!”
    Though we don’t see a sudden time phase shift in this episode, my thought is that just previous to it, the High Council sends the sound of the Drums to the Master, and that’s when the events of the End of Time take place.
    This means Gallifrey was pulled through the time-lock of the time war into the present BEFORE it was put into the pocket-universe frozen state.

    • cameronhorsburgh

      This was pretty well my way around it. During my first sitting I was a bit annoyed that Timothy Dalton and the seer weren’t in the High Council meeting, but I finally realised that this wasn’t the High Council at all. Or if it was, it was a very different one.

      We could just invoke the rebooting of the universe a few seasons ago. That can explain anything!

      • djm

        But 10 dies there at the End of Time so it must happen before then. Also, how could the Time Lords exist to do the drum if they had been destroyed instead of Time Locked.

        • Dave

          the day of the doctor in tenths eyes happens I would say somewhere between the waters of mars and the end of time (though possibly anytime in that year). I was under the impression that End of time takes place hours before, or even slightly overlapping day of the doctor i.e. while walking for miles in the desert. Anyway Gallifrey is saved, the Doctor will get a new set of regens as a reward, and its a good way to bring the Master back 🙂

          • MKH

            I think you’re right in that it happens between Waters of Mars and The End of Time as 10 comes out and greets Sigma Ood, referencing how he accidentally married Elizabeth I.

          • Juan Real

            Good call how many missed that one?

          • Voila

            Bingo. I was about to say the same thing. There’s the explicit married Queen Beth and the subtle reference about the nickname no longer being valid for her (also referenced in DoTD — “oh well done, Doctor…so much for history!”)

        • cameronhorsburgh

          Ten doesn’t die immediately though. He has time to get his affairs in order and say his goodbyes. He also had unfinished business with Liz One in ‘The Shakespeare Code’ which he had yet to go and start!

          That doesn’t fix all the problems though. The Day of the Doctor was quite careful to point out that David Tennant thought he’d destroyed Gallifrey, even though he hadn’t. The contradiction is that in EoT he thought Gallifrey was in a time bubble. IIRC he talks about Gallifrey burning, but that’s in the same story arc that tells us that he’d put the whole Time War in a time bubble. The burning was a product of the war, not his use of a WMD.

          And in EoT the Doctor was surprised to see that Gallifrey had escaped the time bubble, not that it existed. So it seems odd that he could send Gallifrey back where it came from, then go off to see Good Queen Bess with the understanding that a previous regeneration had destroyed the joint.

          I’m going to blame all those doomsday weapons the Time Lords had already tried. One of them must have wibbly-wobbled the timey-wimey a bit too much.

          • Matthew Henley

            Well, it’s another timey-wimey thing, honestly. The Doctor locked the events of the Time War into a Time Lock, meaning that the events keep repeating themselves and can’t be interfered with by outside time travelers – or escaped from under normal circumstances. The Gallifreyan High Council decided, once they realized that the Doctor had the Moment and would probably use it to time-lock the war and burn Gallifrey, to effectively pre-emptively escape using the Master and the White Point Star which they used as a reference point of sorts so that they could escape.

  • guest

    I like to pretend ‘the end of time’ never happened.
    There’s always parallel universes, if you want a more scientific explanation. But Dr. Who isn’t really a science show, it’s best just to go with it.
    I enjoyed the whole thing, it was tremendous fun.

  • Yeaton Clifton

    Taking both stories at face value, the continuity problem is actually a different time line. Rassilon somehow at the moment before Galifrey was destroyed violated many laws of time to break the time lock, and tried to destroy time itself to make the Time Lords effectively Gods. Second, the tenth and eleventh Doctors went back in time to end and changed the reality that Galifrey was really destroyed so there is a time line where it was destroyed and another time line. Third, if your trying to figure out which of these timelines the End of Time occurred in (the one where Galifrey was really destroyed or the other one), it occurred in neither. You might remember that it was among the events lost in a crack in time before the universe was rebooted (all sort of explained in series 5).

    I really hope the show does not try to determine if the Time Lords were really destroyed in the End of Time time line. The answer would be very boring and confusing. Both The Day of the Doctor, and The End of Time took the timey whimey stuff too far.

    Then again they were both very epic stories with really good character development.

    If as your title suggest there is contest between the two stories I’d say its a tie. Both are great stories, neither are classics.

    • Dave

      Never quite got the crack in time, something so big, all over time, and pre-war Time Lords did nothing to stop it?

  • Josh Man

    I don’t understand the conflict. In The Day of the Doctor, the war council mentions that the High Council are meeting elsewhere, with their own plans, plans that have already failed. The Doctor had already stopped Rassilion’s plan, and Gallifrey had already been returned to face the Moment of destruction, this is spelled out in the episode.

    And while there are Time Lord’s that are bent on the destruction of everything (Rassilion and his lot), they are doing it in response to their own impending destruction. With the Time War ended, there doesn’t seem to be any reason to think they’ll continue with that desire.

    And the Doctor didn’t do what he did to save the High Council or any of those that were perpetrating the war throughout the galaxy and throughout time. He did it to save all of the innocents on Gallifrey, including the 2.57 billion children.

    I don’t doubt that the Doctor will be concerned with Rassilion and his lot when he ultimately finds and releases Gallifrey, there is story to examine there. However, the Doctor was more worried, as he should have been, about all the innocents (perhaps including his former companion, Romana, and maybe even his grand daughter, Susan) that he believed he had killed.

    The Moment appears to the outside to have taken place, Gallifrey and the Daleks both appear to be destroyed, and the Doctor prior to Matt Smith here remembers it that way too. The End of Time takes place before the Moment (before the Doctors save Gallifrey). This didn’t change that at all.

    • SK

      But the doctor dies/regenerates with End of Time… well shortly after regenerates.
      I think the “Moment” is just before End of Time thus allowing the events of DOD to take place… had the Time Lords been destroyed they could NOT have tried the Drum Beat (Master events)… that they say other things failed.. maybe both are happening near to the same time but I don’t think so..

      • Josh Man

        Nothing can happen after the Moment is deployed. It’s stated in Day of the Doctor and The End of Time that the events in The End of Time take place before the Moment.

      • Rob

        We can assume that the Doctor in The End of TIme is a doctor post DOTD, and this is why: The Master didn’t return until the End of Time. The Time Lord’s didn’t hook on to a specific point in time, they hooked onto the Master’s signal. It just happened to be after the DOTD. The Time war existing throughout all of time and space, we can’t really pin point a specific point in time it was going on, so outside time doesn’t matter. (Or if u like it, call the war Timey-Wimey.)

        • Dan

          End of Time is Post Day of the Doctor in 10th eyes, except when the time lords appear. Their plan is carried out any time before and up to the war doctor stealing the moment, before his dessert trek.

  • dalek moore

    Well i watched it 3 times here in Australia 6 in the morning 4pm in 3d and 730pm ..
    So i gave it a chance and i wanted to like it but it was a mess !
    It was a Dalek story with very little Daleks shown or heard ! In fact the mirror actors no one would be interested had more air time ..
    The queen idea was crap and had no place in the 50th…Zygon messy plot was a waste for such a good remake for them.
    I can not believe this is all they could come up 1963 the pilot was remade because they got it wrong …The 50th was a mistake poorly written worst dalek plot since colin bakers doctor i was thinking JNT must still be alive still even hes 20th anni was better than this..It was like a school boy did hes home work in a rush and didn’t care !

    • cameronhorsburgh

      Perhaps try imagining that it’s not a Dalek story. The Dalek fighter ships were cool and all, but it’s possible the real story was elsewhere.

      The biggest Dalek thing for me is that a moving TARDIS will do a great deal of damage to any Daleks that get in the way. That’ll be useful in the next Time War.

  • The Maelstrom

    I don’t see any discontinuity. The timeline proceeded as such: 1. Hurt’s Doctor steals the moment. 2. While Hurt’s doctor is deciding whether to use the moment and experiencing the events of The Day of the Doctor, the High Council of Time Lords and #10 experience the events of The End of Time. 3. After Gallifrey “falls” back into the time war, the doctor seals it into a pocket universe.

    From Hurt’s perspective, this happens during the time war, from Tennant’s Perspective, this happens after “The Waters of Mars”, but before “The End of Time Part 1”, and from Smith’s perspective this happens… after the series 7 Finale? Don’t get me started there. That is my one big gripe – how the fnorkdoodle did he get out of his own timeline?

    Anyway, all of this is supported by the following info: The time lords we see in this episode are the ground commanders in Arcadia, not the High Council in the Citadel of the Time Lords, so there is no conflict in that part of the story. Also, since Hurt and Tennant forgot the events of The Day of the Doctor, there is no disturbance in the timeline up through this episode. He thinks the Time War is time locked and he dare not disturb it because of what he thought happened. When Gallifrey gets stuck in the pocket universe, it was said in the episode that it is frozen in a single moment of time. Therefore, the two alternatives of The Moment blowing up Time Lords and Daleks and Gallifrey being stuck in a pocket universe and frozen in time are pretty much one in the same from a logistical standpoint. The only change is that Gallifrey is now recoverable.

    While some people may disagree with Moffat making Gallifrey saveable, I think that he actually paid surprising attention to detail on this one compared to the attention that he has paid to some other aspects in his run so far (like, how Amy’s Doppleganger could still function outside of the flipping universe). This move also opens up several interesting options once the Doctor saves Gallifrey, such as: The Master will be capable of returning as he was sucked back into the time war before Gallifrey was pocketed. The Doctor will have to have another showdown with Rassilon (assuming the Master did not kill him), since Rassilon will still be intent on enacting the Final Sanction (End of Time) once Gallifrey returns. Finally, other time lords like Romana or that woman who may have been the Doctor’s Mother could get more story chances.

    All in all, wonderful move that truly changes the narrative once you sort out the timey wimey stuff.

    • Josh Man


    • cameronhorsburgh

      I think you’re right. And given the next season or two are obviously going to have a lot of Gallifrey going on, Moffatt would have given this all a lot of thought. He seems to be fairly good at writing himself out of a corner when he wants to.

      I wonder if Timothy Dalton and John Simm are available? I really liked them—I hope they haven’t had to regenerate!

      • dave

        Apparently if they bring the master back, they would like it to be John Simm. Also last year he said he would be interested in coming back and playing and even darker version of the master, if they’d let him.

    • Correctamundo

      This is a spot on explanation I’d say, I agree Rassilon’s escape attempt must have been while the War Doctor was in the desert because in EoT the High Council knew the Doctor had just stolen the Moment (so must have been later than the scene where the War Council check the time vault), and assumed he was about to use it, so decided to try to break the time lock (this obviously happening before Gallifrey was frozen in time, ending the war). And don’t forget Moffat even covered himself for the High Council not being featured in DotD by having a War Council member mention them dismissively in a way that suggests that the two councils were doing their own thing towards the end of the war anyway.

    • Correctamundo

      Although one thing, the Time Lords shown were not commanders in Arcadia but the War Council in the Citadel (there was a zoomy scene change or some italic text or something). But your point still stands, they bear no relation to Rassilon’s High Council. (How old does that make him now anyways? (Don’t answer that, I realise he was probably resurrected like the Master was to help in the War. I just hope we don’t feel the need to resurrect Winston Churchill next time we get into a fight!))

    • xuinkrbin

      What a ridiculously sensible explanation.

    • Voila

      I agree with everything you’ve said. To me, the only problem is that statement at the beginning of EoT 1 when 10 says to Ood Sigma that he married Queen Beth (and that her nickname’s no longer valid). So the wedding happens in DoTD and the EoT happens after the DoTD, going by this narrative. Which doesn’t seem right.

      • What if End of Time is the attempt of the time lords to get out of the pocket universe that Gallifrey is placed in at the end of Day of the Doctor?

  • Dave

    Just one thing I don’t quite get. The 10th Doctor knows he’s married in The End of Time with the war doc, 11th and Clara as witnesses. Are we to believe he is supposed to not remember them being there at all or the zygons, and wouldn’t he question the gaps in his memory, or is he not supposed to remember the events after the marriage, which could be why 11 almost remembers them meeting up?

    • cameronhorsburgh

      Good question. The wedding seems to the punchline of a joke that ran all the way through David Tennant’s reign and the writers don’t seem to have been too fussed about the details.

      Although, a question arises. How does it work with marriage and time travellers? When your time lines don’t match up with one another—I’m thinking of River Song here—what does it mean to say, ‘I’m married’? When David Tennant first met River Song, she was married to him, but was he to her? In the great timey wimey wibble wobble under what conditions would the Doctor’s marriage to Queen Bess be considered bigamy?

      This sounds like something the Sadducees would have asked Jesus!

      • xuinkrbin

        The answer rests in One’s relative timeline. Yes, Doctor David (After this episode, I dare not assign numbers anymore) is married to QE1. When He meets River, yes, She is married to Him but not He to Her … yet. Doctor Matt meets River for the first time from Her perspective and Neither are married to the Other. “The Wedding of River Song”, They get married. “The Angels Take Manhattan”, They are Both married to Each Other. “The Name of the Doctor”, He is a Widower.

  • Guest

    My explanation is that Gallifrey appears above Earth in 2009 (“The End of Time”) during the time that the 3 Doctors are in the cell in 2013 arguing about their sonic screwdrivers and opening the door (“Day of the Doctor”), meaning that they wouldn’t see it/hear about it in 2013 because it had already happened 4 years earlier. None of them were on Gallifrey at the time to witness it either. It then gets returned back to it’s correct place by a slightly older version of the Tenth Doctor (in “The End of Time”)than the one in Day of the Doctor, allowing all 13 incarnations to place it in the bubble Universe including the slightly younger version of the Tenth Doctor, who then says goodbye to the War and Eleventh Doctors, forgets about his actions in “Day of the Doctor” and travels back in time to 2009 to find The Master and the Time Lords and becomes the ‘older’ version. Wibbly-wobbly, timey-wimey.

    • xuinkrbin

      Actually, the cell They are in is in the 16th century.

  • JakeOllyB

    My theory is that Gallifrey is pulled out of the Time War and relocated above Earth in 2009 (“The End of Time”) during (in relation to “The Day of the Doctor”s timeline) the period that the three Doctors are incarcerated in the Tower of London in 1562 meaning that none of them would have seen Gallifrey in the sky because it wouldn’t appear for another 447 years and none of them were actually on Gallifrey at the time to experience it’s movement. A slightly older version of the Tenth Doctor (from “The End of Time”) than the one we see in “The Day of the Doctor” manages to replace Gallifrey back in it’s correct place in time and space (in “The End of Time”), allowing a younger version of himself (from “The Day of the Doctor”) and all of his 12 other incarnations to place the newly returned Gallifrey into the bubble universe. The Tenth Doctor from “The Day of the Doctor” then says farewell to the War and Eleventh Doctors, forgets his actions in “The Day of the Doctor”, travels from 2013 Earth to the Ood Sphere where he learns that The Master is returning, fights both The Master and Rassilon on 2009 Earth and places Gallifrey back in it’s original place, unknowingly allowing his slightly younger self to seal it in the bubble universe with his other incarnations. Wibbly-wobbly, timey-wimey.

  • John Calhoun

    Here is where I see the contradiction. My understanding of The End of Time is that The Time Lords are trying to break out of the Time Lock using the signal they’ve implanted in the Master’s Mind. Which means they are already Timelocked or whatever it is that the John Hurt Doctor remembers doing when he pushed the red button. I’m assuming he only remembers pushing the red button to activate the moment since #9 and #10 only recall burning Gallifrey. – See under part 2

    This also doesn’t account for the Cult of Scarro pulling the Dalek Empire from the Time Lock in Journey’s End. Supposedly the last member looked into the time vortex to fish out the Daleks who then went on to steal Earth and 26 other planets. If all the Daleks were destroyed by the crossfire in the Day of the Doctor, there shouldn’t have been any Daleks to do that and they shouldn’t have been able to be rescued from a time lock that didn’t exist.

    And this still doesn’t explain to me why The Doctor has always, until Day of the Doctor, thought that Gallifrey was burned and Time-Locked. If John Hurt only remember pushing a red button that burned Gallifrey, why would he believe there was a time lock? And why would he believe the return of the Time Lords in The End of Time would bring back all the crazy shit and the entire time war if he also thought he killed everyone? I find his belief that both happened confusing.

    The thing is, I still think bringing back the Time Lords is a good call. I think it opens up a lot of story options that the show needs. I just also think the contradictions can only be explained by saying a wizard did it.

  • Tom

    Guys it doesn’t matter whose time line the events happen in, it’s always the oldest doctor who remembers the events.

  • cyberpie77

    the time war is still in a time lock. the time lord in *end of time* tried to escape the time lock before the doctor put it in the pocket universe. hence why we don’t see rassilon. *we get that general* Infact i think in dotd it states the the high console is having a meeting (end of time meeting). the doctors come in and put in the pocket universe after 10 sent in back.

  • JellyBaby

    I thought the answer was incredibly obvious! No offense, of course. First of all, we must distinguish between the pocket universe and the Time Lock. The Time Lock contains the entirety of the Time War and all the horrors going on within. The pocket universe contains only Gallifrey and was created at the end of The Day of the Doctor.

    Secondly, I think we should look at this from the POV of Gallifrey in order to make sense of it. For Gallifrey and the Time Lords, The End of Time comes first. That was when they escaped from the Time Lock. This was an act of desperation on Rassilon’s part and the Time Lords too scared to say no to him. After they failed, the Time Lords were preparing for death when the Doctors (all thirteen of him!) came to send Gallifrey into the pocket universe, saving it from destruction and from the Daleks.

    Finally, it was explicitly stated in The Day of the Doctor that neither 10 nor War would remember what had happened because of some technobabble about timelines being out of sync.

    Does that clear things up?

  • Sam

    it could open up the possibility of Tenth Doctor and Amy adventures

  • ScreenNameMissing

    ….did you even pay attention in Day of The Doctor? 11 specifically says it…

    War Doctor: “I won’t remember any of this, will I?”
    Eleven: “The time streams are out of sync. You can’t retain it.”

    No one who visited that time stream remembers… Not the War Doctor.. and not Ten. That’s why he only vaguely recalls his previous adventures, the queen, etc. Some of the information was lost.

    Eleven is only able to remember things, like the new information gathered from speaking to The (great) Curator, because it was HIS time stream.. He wasn’t visiting… he was in sync with the events.