The Last Great Time War


by William Hohmeister

Doctor Who is a science-fiction adventure story. The Doctor travels through time and space with a Companion. The Doctor is a Time Lord, who are extinct at the beginning of the new series. The Companion is always human, usually female, and acts as the audience’s gateway to enjoying the adventures of the bizarre and inhuman Doctor. The Doctor is a mythic figure to both the audience and the in-series universe. Few subjects, either in-universe or in the real world, contribute to the myth of “the Doctor” like The Last Great Time War.

The Doctor divulges little about his past, but hints at a dark time he is trying to leave behind him. He calls it the “Time War.” The Time War was between the Time Lords  and the Daleks (omnicidal maniacs), both incredibly powerful and capable of time-travel. The war spiralled out of control, and the Time Lords decided to save themselves by transcending the universe and destroying it. The Doctor obtained a great destructive force called the “Moment” and used it to end the war. He killed everyone and time-locked the war. For a more in-depth rundown, read here.

When I think of the Time War, I compare it to the War in Heaven described by John Milton. Reality and time are so torn that at the “heart” of the war the dead are resurrected only to fight and die again. Neither side gains advantage because time travel allows constant reinforcements. Imagine fighting beside yourself at ages 18, 33, and 67. Try to plan a way to win a decisive battle when the enemy can scout and return to a prior time and avoid the fight, or spring a trap. It is a war of gods and monsters.

Even without the Time Lords’ genocidal plan, the war likely would have destroyed the universe. But the Doctor prevented that by forcing the non-linear conflict into a “bubble” with a definite beginning, middle, and end, leaving no escape for anyone.

Except himself.…

This leaves out the run of Matt Smith’s Doctor (Eleven) and the War Doctor, and sticks to Nine and Ten, who I am more familiar with. Have I missed anything? Do you have a different take on the Doctor and the Time War? Are you more confused than ever? Leave a comment, discuss, and think about how a myth like this is a reality for exactly one person in the entire universe in Doctor Who.

image © BBC Worldwide, Ltd., via Wikimedia.

3 thoughts on “The Last Great Time War

  1. Thanks for this. My eleven-year-old son is a Dr. Who fanatic. Although he knows a lot about it, his Autism makes it difficult sometimes to discern what he is sharing with me. (He gets so wrapped up in that world that he leaves out things I don’t know or understand, making it difficult to understand what he’s talking about.) I have started watching it with him, and enjoy sharing part of his world. This post gives me some much needed background.


  2. You’re welcome, and I’m glad you find it helpful. We don’t post about Doctor Who a lot here, but it is one of my favorite series, and I love to talk about it.


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