Recap: Doctor Who 50th AS "The Day of the Doctor"
Looking for a Doctor? You've certainly come to the right place.
"Great men are forged in fire. It is the privilege of lesser men to light the flame."
— The War Doctor
The 50th anniversary special of Doctor Who
, featuring Matt Smith
, the return of David Tennant
as the 10th Doctor and John Hurt
as the Doctor's greatest secret
, the War Doctor. This is the first full-length multi-doctor episode to be released since the show was revived. It is also the fifth televised multi-Doctor story, after "The Three Doctors"
, "The Five Doctors"
, "The Two Doctors"
and minisode "Time Crash"
. (It's the sixth multi-Doctor special if you count "Dimensions in Time"
In 2013, something terrible has awakened in London's National Gallery; in 1562, a murderous plot is afoot in Elizabethan England; and somewhere in space, an ancient battle nears its devastating conclusion. All of reality is at stake as the Doctor's own dangerous past comes back to haunt him.The BBC simulcast the special without commercials in 94 countries.
This makes it, to date, the single biggest simulcast drama in the history of television, a fact confirmed by Guinness World Records in a presentation made to Moffat the day after the event.
This episode had two minisode prequels, "The Night of the Doctor"
and "The Last Day"
. The novel "Engines of War"
, released the next year, serves as a prequel to this.
, trailer 1
, trailer 2
, Children in Need
- Acceptable Breaks from Reality: In the 12/13 doctors scene, the Seventh Doctor changes clothes, hairstyle and TARDIS desktop in the blink of an eye (due to the use of archive footage originating from the 1980s as well as the 1996 TV movie).
- Continuity Nod / Continuity Cavalcade:
- Oh so many, starting with the use of the original 1963 opening sequence.
- At the beginning of the episode, we learn Clara's now a teacher at Coal Hill Secondary School, where an I. Chesterton is Chairman of the Governors. There's a sign outside the school pointing to I. M. Foreman's scrap yard. To complete the nod to "An Unearthly Child", a policeman walks by.
- The motorbike Clara rides is the same one The Doctor used in "The Bells of Saint John". She rides it straight through the TARDIS doors and into the console room just like the motorbike cops from the Paul McGann movie did.
- Scientist Osgood is a reference to a technician named Osgood from "The Daemons".
- The Doctor once again, when facing off against the local authority, gives his companions embarrassing nicknames. As opposed to "The Legs" (Amy), "The Nose" (Rory) and "Mrs Robinson" (River), we get "Sandshoes" (Ten) and "Granddad" (War), again to their mutual disdain.
- The War Doctor's sonic screwdriver is based on the original model used by the Second Doctor in "Fury from the Deep".
- The Moment waves at the Doctor and says "hello" the same way the 9th Doctor introduces himself to Rose in "Rose".
- The 10th Doctor last had a horse in "The Girl in the Fireplace"
- The 10th Doctor's Zygon ding detector is a re-purposed temporal anomaly ding detector from "Blink".
- The speech the 10th Doctor gives a rabbit is from "Voyage of the Damned". Also fades somewhat similarly to the 11th Doctor's speech to a footballer in "The Lodger", which ends with "I'm the Doctor, the Oncoming Storm, and you basically meant beat them in a football match, didn't you?"
- The Doctor puts on another fez, referencing episodes all the way back to "Silver Nemesis".
Clara: Some day, you could just walk past a fez.
11th Doctor: Never going to happen!
- The 11th Doctor pokes fun at the 10th Doctor's "sandshoes" in the same fashion that the 10th Doctor poked fun at the 5th Doctor's celery in "Time Crash":
The Doctor: Look at me, I'm wearing [X]!
- When Eleven starts flirting with the Elizabeths, Ten cuts him off the same way Nine / Ten frequently did to Jack.
- Eleven and Ten compare their Brainy Specs, which the 10th Doctor had done with a previous incarnation in "Time Crash".
- Kate calls Malcolm to look up a file from her father concerning multiple Doctors and even gives a nod to the UNIT dating controversy.
- The War Doctor derides using a sonic screwdriver as a weapon; he frustratingly asks if they plan on building cabinets at their attackers. Jack Harkness did the same in "The Doctor Dances", as did River Song in "Day of the Moon".
- The Doctor refers to Clara as the "Wicked Witch of the Well".
- That, in turn, referenced another incident involving the Doctor and Mary Shelley, in the Big Finish story "The Witch from the Well", when they discovered an actual witch stuck in a well during the Salem Witch trials.
- The Doctor's sonic screwdriver can't get through a solid wooden door, referencing "Image of the Fendahl" and "Tooth and Claw".
- Of particular note is Ten mentioning he is 904. "The End of Time" places him and Queen Bess after "The Waters of Mars", presumably trying to escape the Ood summons.
- The War Doctor can be distinguished as younger than the 10th and 11th Doctor by his eyes.
- The War Doctor rationalizes using the Moment the same way Four decided not to destroy the Daleks in "Genesis of the Daleks".
- Right before the War Doctor regenerates, he remarks that his body is "wearing a bit thin."
- The Time Lord General reacts to seeing all thirteen Doctors identically to Brigadier Lethbridge-Stewart seeing multiple Doctors in "The Three Doctors".
Brigadier / General: I didn't know when I was so well off!
- As he departs, the Tenth Doctor tells the Eleventh that he's glad his future is in safe hands. The First Doctor says the same thing when bidding farewell to the Fifth in "The Five Doctors".
- A tiny snippet of Vale Decem plays as Ten departs at the end of the episode.
- Once again, one sonic screwdriver is a non-lethal weapon. As seen in "Partners in Crime", more than one working together can make it quite more dangerous.
- The establishing shot of the War Doctor on the desert planet serves as an extremely subtle Visual Pun referencing one of the Doctor's very first lines:
- This isn't the first time an anniversary special has featured Gallifreyan technology communicating through a hologram of the Doctor's companion.
- The Tenth Doctor performs a Sherlock Scan on two identical beings, before listing all the things the imposter got wrong, like he did back in "The Poison Sky", only here he's not so successful.
- The TARDIS jumps through Nine / Ten's, the War Doctor's and Eleven's "desktop themes", referencing her collection of them in "The Doctor's Wife".
- The Doctor's line "Oh, you've redecorated! I don't like it." from "The Three Doctors", "The Five Doctors" and "Closing Time" (albeit in varied form on the two former examples) returns.
- The War Doctor's TARDIS sees the return of the original series-style roundels, which disappeared following the original series, to Ten and Eleven's joy.
Hey, look! The round things
! 10th Doctor:
I love the round things. 11th Doctor:
What are the round things? 10th Doctor:
- During the Human / Zygon negotiations, one of the Kates mentions the Sycorax "... ended up as an ash cloud over London."
- Osgood trips up her Zygon duplicate by pulling the 4th Doctor's scarf out from under the copy's foot... something the 4th Doctor himself did to a human bad guy in his first classic-series adventure, "Robot".
- Cosmic Retcon: Altering the course of the previous episode, no less. In "The Name of the Doctor", the Doctor's final death and resting place is shown on Trenzalore, after a relatively small (by his own standards) but still catastrophic battle. It isn't until after the Doctor speaks with the Curator that it's shown (or at least heavily implied) that the changes he makes in this episode alter his future history enough so that instead of dying on some distant battlefield, he eventually goes on to live a normal life as a museum curator. Or, there has been no retcon and the Curator just hasn't fought that final battle yet. What's more, the Doctor has regenerated twelve times. He may not have any regenerations left, requiring some external force to continue on, potentially leaving his old "body" behind.
- Couldn't Find a Pen: The War Doctor blasts his "NO MORE" message into a wall with a laser gun he borrows from a Gallifreyan soldier.
- Crazy Enough to Work: For a show that practically runs on this trope, even this was a whopper. The whole plan to save Gallifrey by freezing it in a single instant in time and hiding in a pocket universe is so brazenly insane that it defies a proper analogy. The Doctor tries to explain what they're doing using cup-a-soups and realizes it won't work. The analogy may not have worked, but in true Who fashion, the plan itself DOES.
- Cruel Mercy: The Moment warns the Doctor that it will punish him if he uses it to end the Time War. The War Doctor reassures it that he's accepted that and doesn't mind if he dies along with the others.
The Moment: Then that's your punishment. If you do this, if you kill them all then that's the consequence. You. Live.
- Dangerously Genre Savvy: The Daleks are this. They're savvy enough to know that, if the Doctor is on Galifrey, he needs to be exterminated because he is the only one capable of defeating them.
- Deadly Dodging: At the end, rather than destroying Gallifrey with The Moment, the Doctors freeze it in time, safely held in a pocket dimension. The surrounding Dalek fleets are destroyed by their own shots and to the rest of the universe it looks like Gallifrey and the Daleks were all destroyed.
- Deadpan Snarker:
- For a weapon that can wipe out whole galaxies, the Moment has a wicked sense of humor.
War Doctor: (after being burned by the Moment device) Ah! The interface is hot!
The Moment: Well, I do my best.
- The Moment's playful teasing of the War Doctor; mocking his frequent use of "No More" as being an attempt to have some gravitas, poking fun of his lifestyle and joking that his Hero Complex is something she'll remember if she ever develops an ego.
The Moment: Stuck between a girl and a box. Story of your life, eh, Doctor?
- For that matter, for a brooding, traumatised and guilt-ridden war veteran the War Doctor certainly demonstrates he's kept the Doctor's usual snarky nature:
Lord Bentham: Where is the Doctor?! The Queen is bewitched! I would have the Doctor's head!
War Doctor: (in-between his two future selves) Well, then, this has all the makings of your lucky day.
- Death's Hourglass: All three Doctors' time is nearly up. The Tenth Doctor's "song is ending" and is haunted by the phrase "He will knock four times" before regenerating in the next episode (though considering he claims to be 904 he has about two years left), "Eleven's hour is over now. The clock is striking Twelve's" (though he still has most of his time to live), and of course the War Doctor regenerates at the end of the episode.
- Destination Defenestration: We get to see not one, not two, but three Doctors sonic a Dalek through the plate glass of a picture to emerge from the Gallifreyan art.
11th Doctor: Sorry about the Dalek.
- Didn't See That Coming: The Moment was not expecting the fez to come through the portal (in fact, she all but utters the trope name when it happens); neither did the Tenth Doctor.
- Discriminate and Switch: Elizabeth regarding how she fooled the Zygons.
Elizabeth: These Zygon creatures never even considered that it was me who survived, rather than their own commander. The arrogance that typifies their kind.
- Dissonant Serenity: Due to a lack of abundant suitable archive footage, the Eighth Doctor looks very calm and casual while frantically saving Gallifrey from obliteration. (Then again, he has done this seven times already, and is the oldest of the Doctors not to bear the scars of the Time War, so if any of them would be calm about the situation it's him.)
- The Dog Was the Mastermind: The HORSE was the Zygon!
- Don't Celebrate Just Yet: Eleven finally decides to change his own and Gallifrey's history by thinking up an alternative to using the Moment. He convinces Ten and they're both elated, while the War Doctor points out that not committing genocide doesn't change the fact that there are still billions of Daleks attacking.
- Doomed Protagonist: The War Doctor, the Tenth Doctor, and the Eleventh Doctor end this adventure by entering their respective TARDIS, where the War Doctor immediately regenerates because John Hurt isn't holding the role for the long term, while Ten and Eleven each have one more televised appearance before regenerating.
- Double Take:
- The Dreaded:
- Both the 10th and the 11th Doctors aren't exactly thrilled to see the War Doctor. Lampshaded when the only word he can think to describe their expressions when they gaze upon him is "Dread".
- Similarly, as soon as the Daleks detect the Doctor they all immediately stop what they're doing (exterminating some helpless Gallifreyan family, which you think would be like all the Daleks' birthdays come at once) and flat-out ignore all other tasks and surroundings to try and exterminate the Doctor.
- Later, the Doctors comment that if the "billion billion" Daleks knew that there were three Doctors on the planet, they would call for reinforcements.
- Drone of Dread: An air raid siren fills the streets of Arcadia in flashbacks.
- Earn Your Happy Ending: Looks like this at the end where the Doctor decides to find Gallifrey.
- Empathy Doll Shot: A burning soft toy is shown on the ground during the Daleks' attack on Gallifrey.
- Establishing Character Moment: Subverted. Our first glimpse of the War Doctor has him asking a Gallifreyan soldier for his gun, hinting that he's different and more warlike to the other Doctors. However, this is just so he can blast a message into the wall, and as the special goes on, we see that he is more similar to the other Doctors than they might like to think.
War Doctor: (to himself, while examining the Moment, a.k.a. "the Galaxy Eater", the supreme Time Lord Superweapon) ...Why is there never a big red button?
- Eureka Moment: The Doctors when they figure out how to Trick Out Time. Ten and Eleven are particularly giddy about it.
- Everybody Knew Already: Clara tells the Doctor about the Black Archive. The three incarnations simply turn and look at her. "You... know about that already." While the Doctor is technically one person, the knowledge going back at least four incarnations makes you wonder how long the Doctor has been patiently letting UNIT think they have him in the dark.
- Extra-Strength Masquerade: The TARDIS is very conspicuously helicoptered across central London to land in Trafalgar Square, with the Doctor hanging out of the door the whole time. Kate Stewart has a whispered conversation with Osgood, and they decide to blame it all on Derren Brown. Again. Ironically, Derren Brown's Twitter, as of the airdate, says he's on vacation. In real life, this plot point was an ingenious method of working around the impossibility of filming such a scene without scores of onlookers.
- Failed Attempt at Drama:
- The 10th Doctor doing a Badass Boast... to an ordinary rabbit.
- The Doctors realize that (thanks to the sonic screwdrivers having the same technology, just in a different case) they can easily disintegrate their prison door... only for Clara to burst in, revealing it wasn't locked.
- Fantastic Time Management: The trick of having the War Doctor program a calculation into the sonic screwdriver so that the Eleventh Doctor can obtain the result from the device (instantly for them, centuries later in the device's timeline). The same trick is used on a larger scale to do the calculations required to isolate Gallifrey from the timestream, removing it from the Time War without destroying it.
- Felony Misdemeanor: There's one thing that the Doctor is even more opposed to changing than time itself: his mind. Subverted when changing his mind (and time itself) is exactly what he does to save the day.
- Finishing Each Other's Sentences: Ten and Eleven do this constantly towards the end of the episode.
- The Fog of Ages: The 11th Doctor claims this fact.
War Doctor: How old are you now?
11th Doctor: I don't know... I lose track. Twelve hundred and something unless I'm lying. I can't remember if I'm lying about my age, that's how old I am.
- The 12th Doctor appears in the ending to save Gallifrey.
- Osgood spends most of the episode wearing a long multi-colored scarf. The end of the episode features a cameo by Tom Baker.
- Queen Elizabeth names Ten as the Curator of the Under-Gallery. Then a familiar man appears in the end, calling himself "The Curator".
- A Form You Are Comfortable With:
- The Moment chooses the form of Rose Tyler to communicate with the Doctor, recognizing it as one he trusts. Or will trust. Honestly, that whole past/future thing confuses her.
- Implied about the box containing her interface, since it later manifests a big red button, something the War Doctor had previously mentioned that he preferred doomsday devices to have.
- Framing Device: The Zygon invasion mostly serves to make the Doctors work together.
- Freeze-Frame Bonus:
- As well as "Chesterton" on the Coal Hill School sign, the headmaster's name is Coburn. Anthony Coburn was the author of "An Unearthly Child".
- One of the photos on the wall in the Black Archive shows Mike Yates and Sara Kingdom together in some untold adventure. There are many other companion photographs visible only with freeze-frame.
- The Black Archive is also loaded with artifacts from the show's history, including River Song's shoes, and even a toy windmill that was seen in the first Eleventh Doctor episode.
- During the climax when all 13 Doctors arrive, all the TARDISes are exact replicas of what the TARDIS had looked like during each Doctor's life — they are not all just copies of the same model.
- The activation code for the vortex manipulator is: 1716231163. As in 17:16 23/11/63, the date and time of the first episode's broadcast.
- In the scene when Eleven picks up the fez in the Under-Gallery, Clara is standing in front of a painting of The Raft of the Medusa, except with Cybermen.
- Freudian Trio: The Tenth, Eleventh and War Doctors.
- Frickin' Laser Beams: Even the Time Lords use them, which is practically Schizo Tech considering that they are Sufficiently Advanced Aliens and the rest of the story revolves around the Doctor's intention to use a "galaxy eater" super-weapon.
- Functional Genre Savvy: Osgood wisely spends the episode acting like she is in an episode of Doctor Who.
- Future Me Scares Me:
- Genre Blindness: One of the UNIT technicians expresses skepticism at the idea that there might actually be shape-shifting aliens around. Guess what he discovers he's surrounded by moments later.
- Godzilla Threshold:
- This episode just has one after another. The Time Lords pretty much emptied the forbidden weapons vault to fight the Daleks. The only one they didn't take was the Moment, because it was alive and thus would sit in judgement over them if they tried to use it. Then the War Doctor took that to completely destroy the Daleks and Time Lords, killing billions of souls to end the madness. But, seeing this as the wrong choice, the Doctors conceive an absolutely bonkers plan involving every single incarnation of the Doctor at once just so they can take the moral high ground.
- Outside of the Time War, the contents of the Black Archive are considered so dangerous (and perhaps not unjustly so as the Zygons say that the technology within would allow them to conquer Earth in less than a day) that any unauthorized intrusion sets off a failsafe that would nuke London to keep the contents from being misused.
- Half the Man He Used to Be: Or Half the Dalek in this case — the TARDIS-demolished Dalek that views the "NO MORE" message, then bursts into flames.
- Have We Met Yet?:
- Clara meets Kate Stewart and visits the Black Archive for the first time. Inside, however, she finds photos of herself and Kate from a "previous" visit, which for Clara has yet to happen. Or it has already happened and her memory has been wiped.
- Clara introduces herself to the War Doctor, saying that technically, they haven't met yet. He responds "I look forward to it."
- Heel-Face Turn: The Zygons impersonating the UNIT staff, after the Doctors' gambit. One version of Osgood hands over an asthma inhaler to the other without a word, even though having it proves the one with it is real, having stolen it back after tripping the Zygon with her scarf. Both Zygon and human version keep quiet about their realization.
- Heroic Self-Deprecation: The quote from the War Doctor.
War Doctor: Great men are forged in fire. It is the privilege of lesser men to light the flame.
- Historical-Domain Character: Elizabeth I appears, played by Joanna Page.
- Historical In-Joke: Elizabeth's twist on her classic line about being "a weak and feeble woman."
Elizabeth: I may have the body of a weak and feeble woman, but at the time, so did the Zygon.
- Hollywood Homely: Osgood's doppleganger says that she's insecure about her sister being "the pretty one". This is presumably meant to be an in-universe example of the trope, since Ingrid Oliver ain't exactly hideous.
- Hologram Projection Imperfection: The Time Lords' communication system. Which lets the first two Doctors join the conference call, via black-and-white archive footage, without looking out of place. That being said, the non-HDness of Nine's archive footage sticks out a bit.
- The Homeward Journey: At the end of the movie, Eleven proclaims that he finally knows his destination — Gallifrey.
- Hope Bringer: What the Doctor becomes for Gallifrey. The Moment describes the sound of the TARDIS as this as well. It brings hope to anyone who hears it, including the Doctor himself.
- Hypocritical Humor:
- This exchange:
- Also, Eleven reacting with shock at seeing how skinny Ten is ("like a special effect!"), when they're really about the same size.
- The General notes that someone has broken into the vault which contains all the forbidden weapons. Androgar wonders why, since they used them all.
- Identical Stranger: The Curator looks like an aged Fourth Doctor (since they're played by the same person). Subverted, as he not-so-subtly hints that he actually is the Doctor — an implication both foreshadowed and all but confirmed by Osgood wearing Four's iconic scarf throughout the entire episode.
- I Hate Past Me:
- Downplayed. While Ten and Eleven do take some cheap shots at each other, they actually get along quite well, and even finish each other's sentences.
- Played straight with their attitude towards the War Doctor who they both dread, until the end where they finally acknowledge him as a true incarnation of the Doctor, and all willing to share his burden of ending the Time War. Finally averted at the end when they all part as "friends."
- I Kiss Your Hand: When saying goodbye to Clara, Ten kisses her hand.
- Improvised Weapon:
- Fangirl Osgood uses the Fourth Doctor's scarf to save her life.
- The sonic screwdriver, as the War Doctor quickly points out, is a scientific instrument, but its various functions can allow it to be used as a weapon.
- Infant Immortality: Played with and ultimately played straight. At the start, we see a family on Gallifrey, including children, being surrounded by Daleks, but they call off on exterminating the family when they detect the Doctor nearby. "How many children are on Gallifrey right now?" becomes an Armor-Piercing Question, as in, "How many children are you about to/did kill that day." In the end, the answer turns out to be zero.
- Ironic Hell: The War Doctor admits to the Moment that he has no intention of surviving the genocide of the Time Lords and the Daleks. The Moment thus decides that his punishment for doing this will be to survive. And in the end, suffers this in the mind of his future selves.
- It Has Been an Honor: The War Doctor to Ten and Eleven, but especially Clara, at the end of their adventure.
- I Was Quite a Fashion Victim: All over the place. The 11th Doctor enjoys mocking the 10th's sneakers, calling them "sandshoes". The 10th briefly comments on the War Doctor's combination of the 8th and the 9th's clothes and the War Doctor makes fun of both the 10th's sneakers and the 11th's "dicky-bow".
- Lampshade Hanging: Done throughout, mostly in the form of the War Doctor's comments on his successors.
- Lantern Jaw of Justice:
- More shots at the Eleventh Doctor's chin.
10th Doctor: Well, me and Chinny, we were surprised...
11th Doctor: Oi, "Chinny"?.
10th Doctor: Yeah, you do have a chin.
- Those who went to cinema screenings were treated to the 10th Doctor warning viewers about the 3D effect because of the 11th's chin.
- Laser-Guided Amnesia:
- The Black Archive is so secret that visitors and staff get daily mind-wipes so they can never reveal its contents. The Doctor later invokes this to get the Zygons and humans to agree to a peace treaty, activating the system in such a way that neither party is aware of who's who. Thus, an Original Position Fallacy is avoided by creating an actual original position.
- It is established that the earlier Doctors won't be able to remember the events due to time lines rearranging. Retroactively, this also explains why the Doctor appears unable to recall past meetings with himselves.
- Late-Arrival Spoiler:
- The closing credits use a unique arrangement of the Doctor Who theme played out as images of each of the Doctors appear in order — with, significantly, the War Doctor in his appropriate location between Eight and Nine, following the resolution of his character arc in the closing minutes of the story. The DVD and Blu-ray release, as its menu background, plays a clean (no text) version of this closing sequence, spoiling the significance of the War Doctor for anyone who hasn't seen the story yet and who doesn't click "Play" fast enough. Made even more devious as some "late arrival" viewers may want to listen to the spiffy new version of the Who theme (making this a double-spoiler as it reveals that the episode ends with this new arrangement). This menu actually acts as a triple-spoiler as it also effectively spoils the outcome of the mini-episode "The Night of the Doctor", also included on the disc, for anyone going in without having seen it either, as it is that episode that reveals where in the chronology the War Doctor fits.
- The War Doctor's existence as an unseen incarnation of the Doctor is also a spoiler for anyone who hadn't seen "The Name of the Doctor", as his existence was first revealed as the climax of that episode. However given that "Day of the Doctor" is part 2 of the storyline begun in "Name of the Doctor," this doesn't really count.
- Leaning on the Fourth Wall:
- "Same software, different case" doesn't just describe the sonic (and foreshadow the ending), but The Nth Doctor himself.
- Likewise, the comments on the 3D picture in a 3-D Movie.
- When Clara rides her motorbike into the TARDIS, the Doctor momentarily looks at the camera.
- The War Doctor's comments regarding the use of phrases like "timey-wimey" echo some points of fan criticism.
- Lethal Harmless Powers: The Doctor's sonic screwdriver. Ten and Eleven behave as if it's a deadly weapon they're pointing, and the War Doctor Lampshades this constantly, asking if they plan to build a cabinet at their enemies. It turns out that one sonic screwdriver is harmless, but three in concert can obliterate a Dalek with their sonic force.
- Mad Scientist: It's made clear yet again that this is pretty much how the other Time Lords view The Doctor. Particularly when they tell the General their plan to save Gallifrey.
- Mass "Oh, Crap!":
- Meaningful Look: Peter Capaldi's sole appearance here is throwing the TARDIS activation switch and a close-up of his eyes.
- Mechanical Lifeforms:
- The Daleks, naturally.
- Turns out UNIT isn't taking any chances with the ravens leaving the Tower of London (according to legend this will lead to the fall of the kingdom) having apparently replaced them with electronic birds.
- Metaphorgotten: In trying to explain the stasis cubes to Clara, the 11th Doctor continues his proud tradition of tortuous metaphors that don't exactly make the comparison very well:
11th Doctor: See, Clara, they're stored in the paintings in the Under-Gallery. Like Cup-A-Soups! Except you add time, if you can picture that. Nobody can picture that. Forget I said "Cup-A-Soups".
- Then the War Doctor rubs the joke in when he reveals his plan to get them into the TARDIS-proof Tower of London, ending by asking...
War Doctor: What's "Cup-A-Soup"?
- Milking the Giant Cow: Invoked when the War Doctor asks Eleven if he's capable of speaking without flapping his hands about. Eleven replies "Yes", realizes he's doing this, and says "No."
- A Million Is a Statistic: The Moment tries to talk the Doctor out of destroying Gallifrey by asking if he's counted how many children will dienote . The 10th Doctor reveals he's actually made this calculation, and is angry with his next incarnation for forgetting this figure.
- Most Wonderful Sound: Invoked and discussed; when trying to persuade the War Doctor not to trigger the Moment, the Moment's interface tells the War Doctor that the sound of the TARDIS engines materialising bring hope to everyone who hears them, "no matter how lost." To back her words up, the 10th and 11th Doctors' TARDISes materialise right behind him. "Even you."
- The Movie: In all but name. Along with airing in simulcast in 94 countries, the 75 minute special was also screened in cinemas around the globe. In his introduction to the cinema version, Strax directly refers to it as a movie.
- Mr. Fanservice:
- Ten knows he's this... oh so much.
- Possibly lampshaded by the fact Clara, whose attraction to the Eleventh Doctor has never been more obvious than in this episode, simply says "nice suit" when meeting Ten.
- Ms. Fanservice: Clara on a motorbike. In leather.◊
- Mundane Solution:
- The Black Archive doesn't have electronic locks, just heavy lock and key doors so the Doctor can't tech his way inside.
- The Doctors set up a four-centuries-long calculation on their sonic screwdrivers to disintegrate the door to their cell, only to discover that it wasn't even locked.
- My Future Self and Me:
- Three incarnations of the time-traveling Doctor meet in this episode.
- Then during the climax, all 12 Doctors work together to save Gallifrey. Wait, not 12, ALL 13.
- The Curator of the art gallery is heavily implied to be a retired future incarnation of the Doctor — a claim backed up by the fact that he looks exactly like an older version of his fourth incarnation.
- My Greatest Second Chance: When allowed back into the final day of the Time War, the Doctors eventually decide to try and save Gallifrey rather than destroy it.
War Doctor: I don't suppose we'll ever know if we actually succeeded. But at worst, we failed doing the right thing. As opposed to succeeding in doing the wrong.
- Mythology Gag:
- The episode begins at 5:16 p.m., the exact airtime of "An Unearthly Child". Also, in the opening scene, when Clara heads off on her motorbike, observe the time on the clock overhead. Yes, 5:16 p.m.
- The activation code of Jack Harkness' vortex manipulator is 1716231163, referencing the original airdate and time of "An Unearthly Child": 5:16 p.m. on 23 November 1963.
- The music used when the TARDIS is being helicoptered away is the music from "Aliens of London" when the Slitheen ship crashes into Big Ben, and the music used during the Fall of Arcadia is the music used in "Journey's End" for the detonation of the Reality Bomb. During the first conversation with the Moment, a slow and haunting version of the Doctor's Theme from 2005 plays in the background. Also, the music from "The Time of Angels" is playing while discussing broken statues!
- The title credits are the first on-screen use of the original 1963 arrangement of the Doctor Who Theme since 1967.
- Narm: Invoked by the Moment, who didn't find the War Doctor's proclamation of "No More" to be all that dramatic.
- Negated Moment of Awesome: The Tenth Doctor (repeatedly) fingering the Queen of England for an alien squid, delivering an ultimatum to a fearsome bunny rabbit, and the three Doctors failing to notice an unlocked door. The latter, at least, inspires Eleven once he realizes he can apply that logic to saving Gallifrey.
- Nerdy Inhaler: Osgood's.
- Nice Job Fixing It, Villain: The Zygon impersonating Kate Stewart gets so "into character" that she does everything exactly the way the original would have — including giving Clara everything she needs to rescue the Doctor.
- Nose Tapping: The Curator does this. "Who knows", indeed.
- Not So Different:
- The 10th and 11th Doctors act with fear and revulsion towards the War Doctor at first and he even denies his right to the name. Yet when they're all stuck in the Tower of London together, he reacts in a very similar eccentric and bickering way to the others to their predicament, the first hint that he is still the Doctor.
- The Doctors also react this way when Kate Lethbridge-Stewart plans to destroy London and kill millions to stop the Zygons gaining control of the Black Archive, seeing the parallel to their destruction of Gallifrey.
- Not-So-Imaginary Friend: Only the War Doctor can see Bad Wolf, which is the chosen form of The Moment. Strangely, the War Doctor actually physically touches her when he first meets her, also making her less than imaginary to him.
- Oh, Crap:
- A Played for Laughs moment, but Ten's face when he notices that Eleven has a much bigger sonic screwdriver than his own.
- Similarly, when Ten realizes he's talking to his future self.
- The Time Lord General when he realises that there's three Doctors.
- Kate Stewart upon finding out that the Doctor is inside the TARDIS she had just ordered airlifted into Trafalgar Square.
- Osgood when she realises the statues around them are Zygon shapeshifters.
- Clara when she realizes Kate is a Zygon.
- Only Sane Employee: The Time Lord General. Of course, with the President and most of the High Council having gone insane by this point and the Daleks on the verge of kicking down their door, he has enough problems on his plate, without the Doctor (and his other incarnations) adding to the mix.
- Passing the Torch: When the Curator (Tom Baker) gives the Eleventh Doctor his mission to go and find Gallifrey.
- Percussive Maintenance: The 10th Doctor smacks and shakes his device that goes "ding" a lot.
- Power Walk: The three Doctors slow-motion power walk into battle in one scene. The Awesome is actually enhanced by the fact that they're walking out of battle and into enforced negotiations.
- Present Absence: Rose Tyler, as The Moment takes the form of the Bad Wolf entity.
- Properly Paranoid: Ten may have been wrong in suspecting the rabbit, but considering that he was dealing with shapeshifting aliens (one of whom had just recently been a horse), his suspicions were nevertheless justified.
- Really 700 Years Old: So much a part of the show that it usually doesn't warrant mention, but here the relative age of all the Doctors, including the fact that oldest actor John Hurt is playing a younger version of the Doctor, becomes critical to the plot.
- Red Baron: The 10th Doctor proclaims all his titles to a bunny. (He thought it was a Zygon.)
- Red Herring: Used a couple of times.
- Music from "The Time of Angels" is used in a scene discussing statues, but Weeping Angels make no actual appearances. The paintings destroyed from the inside also imply a Weeping Angel presence, but it's Zygons instead.
- A few minutes later, a Zygon knocks the face out of the portrait of Elizabeth I. Later we see a character that's been replaced with a Zygon duplicate looking through the hole. However, the real Liz hasn't been replaced by a Zygon. Quite the opposite in fact, Liz killed the Zygon and posed as him.
- Reset Button:
- To a degree. It is indicated that the Tenth and War Doctors won't remember encountering their future self and, thus, won't remember saving Gallifrey. Similarly, the Eleventh Doctor's encounter with the Curator, strongly implied to be a future incarnation, is also forgotten given that in the very next episode the Doctor believes himself to be the final Doctor.
- The trope has also been incorrectly applied to the overall Time War arc due to the events of this episode, though as far as the Doctor is concerned (prior to the Eleventh), those events still happened.
- Reverse Polarity: Lampshaded; Ten and Eleven attempt this, but end up re-reversing by doing it simultaneously.
10th Doctor: I'm reversing it and you're reversing it back again... we're confusing the polarity!
- Starting with the first season, Russell T Davies wrote that the Doctor committed genocide against the Time Lords. The 9th, 10th, and 11th Doctor have lived with the burden of having blood on their hands for the Time War, but with this Retcon, his people are no longer dead. Or they never were permanently dead (aside from the whole "dying over and over in a time loop" thing), but it still changes the entire dynamic of the revival's Doctors. It's explained by the War Doctor noting that, due to the Timey-Wimey Ball nature of meeting his future selves, he won't remember any of what happened and will only remember trying to destroy Gallifrey, as will the 10th Doctor, which thus preserves their character arcs throughout the series. The plot gives us 11th Doctor discovering / realizing that, after carrying the burden throughout his 9th and 10th selves, he didn't destroy Gallifrey after all.
- The Time Lords becoming an entire race of omnicidal maniacs near the end of the Time War, as shown in "The End of Time". Possibly justified however, as the Doctor had already stolen the Moment when Rassilon unveiled his plan to allow them to survive the war by ascending to Godhood. One can imagine that with the imminent threat of the Daleks or the Doctor potentially razing their entire civilisation, the other Time Lords were desperate enough to agree to anything. That, and Rassilon flat-out murdered any dissenters with his gauntlet. This interpretation of the Time Lords is still supported by the preceding webisode: by the end of the Eighth Doctor's life, those outside the conflict regarded the Time Lords and Daleks with equal fear and hatred.
- Royals Who Actually Do Something: Elizabeth. She killed her Zygon double and posed as it, for starters.
- Running Gag:
- People being mistaken for something they aren't.
- Ten mistakenly assuming that Elizabeth is a Zygon. (Twice. The second time he even lists all the unflattering signs of a duplicate until she reveals herself to be the real one.)
- The War Doctor assuming that Ten and Eleven are companions.
- Eleven getting potshots in at Ten over his apparent relationship with both Queen Elizabeth I and especially the Zygon impersonating her. He also never relents about the fact that Ten is wearing sandshoes.
- In an introduction to the 3-D Movie, the Tenth Doctor can't resist getting in a dig at how Eleven's chin will be enhanced accordingly.
- The War Doctor's dislike of the others' use of Buffy Speak and their sonic screwdriver etiquette.
- As the three Doctors are various incarnations of the same person (though they have distinct personalities), any dig one Doctor takes at one of the others would technically count.
- This gem comes from Eleven to Ten: "What you get up to in the privacy of your own regeneration is your business." He continues snarking about Ten and Elizabeth.
- The page quote is an example.
- The Eleventh referring to the Tenth Doctor as "Sandshoes", due to his footwear.
- At the end, The War Doctor declares to his future selves "And if I grow to be half the man that you are...", only to turn around, revealing that he's actually been talking about Clara.
- Ten then tells Eleven that he's relieved to know his future will be in safe hands... also talking about Clara.
- Meta self-deprecating humor: There are actor in-jokes about various Doctor Who leads, including jabs at Matt Smith's chin, Tom Baker's nose, Christopher Eccleston's ears, and David Tennant's lanky frame:
11th Doctor: How very skinny. That is proper skinny! I've never seen it from the outside, it's like a special effect! Oi, ha, matchstick-man!
- Saving The World With Art: A literal interpretation of this trope when all three of the Doctors hide inside of a Time-Lord painting so that they might emerge from it later once the picture was moved to a restricted area where the Zygons were about to destroy the world.
- Sentient Weapon: The Moment. It's interesting to note that it doesn't want to be used, sitting in judgement of those who try.
- Set Right What Once Went Wrong: The basic plot, from Ten and Eleven's point of view.
- Shaped Like Itself: Ten's device.
10th Doctor: And... (machine goes ding) ding.
Elizabeth: What's that?
10th Doctor: It's a machine that goes ding. (machine goes ding)
- Shapeshifting Excludes Clothing: Inverted and pondered by the two Osgoods. Since the clothes would have to be part of the Zygon, what happens if they lose a shoe?
- Sherlock Scan: The doctor gives this sort of explanation as to why the Queen Elizabeth in front of him isn't the real one — only to find out he's wrong.
- Ship Tease: The final scene between the Doctor's and Clara. Ten kiss to Clara's hand and the look he gives Eleven afterwards. After that, both Clara and the Doctor share a loving Held Gaze before Clara walks up and kisses him on the cheek while Eleven gets a dopey love look. Her hand also lingers on his face as she strokes his cheek. At the start the two are planning a week together on the moon with cocktails before Eleven spins Clara around as she laughs.
- Shout-Out: The head of Gallifrey's military is a middle-aged bald man in a red uniform with four pips on his collar.
- Shut Up, Hannibal!: Osgood trips her Zygon doppelganger while the latter is gloating about Osgood's prettier sister.
- The Slow Path:
- It takes centuries for the sonic screwdriver to calculate the composition of a medieval door? Good thing Eleven has one that happens to be the future version of the War Doctor's.
- Again at the climax, where the Doctor has done the same thing with the calculations to save Gallifrey for thirteen incarnations.
- Snark-to-Snark Combat: The inevitable result of three Doctors existing in the same moment in time and space.
- Speak Friend and Enter: The three Doctors spend ages figuring out how to break through a door, only to find out it was never locked.
- Special Edition Title:
- The special opens with a slightly modified version of the original Hartnell/early-Troughton opening credits.
- The end credits are a lot more cinematic than usual, with a new arrangement of the classic theme playing out.
- Spot the Impostor: Ten is very bad at this, identifying Elizabeth I as a shapeshifting Zygon when it's really the horse, then accusing a rabbit of being a Zygon, and finally being confronted with two Elizabeths. Eventually the Lizes take it upon themselves to resolve it - by one killing the other one.
- Spotting the Thread: Kate's assistant and her Zygon copy, after being mind-wiped to forget which is which, are talking when one starts coughing from asthma. The other then takes out her inhaler, which was in the possession of the original. Rather than out themselves, both decide to keep quiet and let the peace talks proceed.
- Squee: The 10th and 11th Doctors are quite pleased to see they both wear glasses.
- Stealth Pun: The Curator tapping his own nose while saying "Who knows".
- Stepford Smiler: Ten, by inference, given this episode takes place after "Waters of Mars" for him, and he's desperately running away from his impending regeneration, and yet his seemingly good mood barely slips the whole time.
- Survival Mantra: Osgood's "The Doctor will save me."
- Take a Third Option: Done twice: once with figuring out how to peacefully deal with the alien invasion of Earth, and then in a spectacular fashion to end the Great Time War.
- Take That:
- Eleven calling Ten "Dick Van Dyke" is a seemingly good-natured Take That at David Tennant and the English accent the Scottish actor uses as the Doctor. Dick Van Dyke is infamous for his terrible take on a Cockney accent in Mary Poppins.
10th Doctor: Still, loving the posh gravelly thing, it's very convincing.
11th Doctor: Brave words, Dick Van Dyke.
- The Americans have to be prevented from getting time travel technology, because just imagine how they'd rewrite the past. "You've seen their movies."
- Temporal Paradox: The fez in this episode is seen in the undergallery created by Elizabeth I, and thrown into a vortex by the 11th Doctor to be eventually retrieved by Elizabeth I in the 16th century. Who puts it back into the Under-Gallery where it will eventually be retrieved by the 11th Doctor. How the fez first came into this loop is never explained on screen.
- Tempting Fate: John Hurt's Doctor says that he hopes his ears will be "a bit less conspicuous this time" before regenerating... into Christopher Eccleston's Doctor.
- Terrifying Pet Store Rat: Played with, as the rabbit is an ordinary rabbit. Though no wild rabbit would have let the Doctor get so close and deliver his whole speech without fleeing.
- Thirteen Is Unlucky: Very much inverted, especially if the calculation only finished during Twelve's time (that is, his thirteenth incarnation) and he's the one sharing the results with the other Doctors. Though the prospect of multiple Doctors is enough to give the Gallifrey military commanders headaches. And thirteen Doctors are sure to bring serious bad luck to the Daleks.
- Threat Backfire: The Moment shows the War Doctor the kind of regretful, forgetful man he will become in two of his future incarnations after sentencing him to live if he destroys Gallifrey. Instead of reconsidering his path, the War Doctor sees his future selves later draw upon their guilt to bring the humans and Zygons to negotiate peace rather than destroy each other and feels that his later selves will make good, thus enabling him to do his terrible duty knowing they will make it all worth it in the end. Subverted when The Moment invites Ten and Eleven to break the time lock and share in the War Doctor's actions which leads them to realise they can Take a Third Option.
- Three-Dimensional Episode: Shown in stereoscopic 3D.
- Time Skip: Set some time after Series 7, as Clara's gone on to become a teacher. How she and the Doctor returned to the real world after "The Name of the Doctor" is not revealed.
- Timey-Wimey Ball: As ever, lots of previous "rules" of time travel in Doctor Who get broken.
- The 11th Doctor can only vaguely remember the events of the episode, despite two incarnations of his past self being involved. This is a standard aspect of multi-Doctor encounters: Only the last of the Doctors involved remembers the encounter. At least, the only one to remember in detail. All involved Doctors in multi-Doctor stories retain vague memories of something happening. For example, in "The Five Doctors", the first three all remember meeting each other in "The Three Doctors". However, in "School Reunion", the Doctor appears to not remember the events of "The Five Doctors" (although he apparently could in "The Trial of a Time Lord").
- All of the Doctors are able to come together and use their TARDISes to put Gallifrey away — including the guilt-ridden Ninth Doctor, who clearly has to forget about the event afterwards, not to mention the earlier Doctors for whom Gallifrey is either something benign in the background (Fifth, Sixth, etc.) or a threat to their freedom (First, Second, Third). Special mention goes to the Eighth Doctor, who is going to face a Downer Ending because of Gallifrey's societal collapse, yet see a preview of its triumphant survival. That may have unconsciously influenced his decision to stay out of the Time War.
- Possibly as a Stable Time Loop and/or fixed point in time, Eleven doesn't take steps to stop the Zygon invasion in 1562, because he knows he will need them to break out in the present in order for him to come to the Gallery and be transported back. They also need to stay in Scotland to be defeated in 1975.
- Apparently previous Zygon stories have been subject to this, as it is revealed the Zygons home world was destroyed in the Time War, leading to their previous interactions with the Doctor before he had experienced the Time War.
- After Eleven and Clara join Kate Stewart in the Under-Gallery, a UNIT tech receives a phone call instructing him to relocate the Gallifreyan painting someplace. Later in the episode, we learn that the person who called him is in fact Eleven. When the tech asks how this is possible, the Doctor just answers, "I'm a time-traveler. Think it through."
- Tricked Out Time: With some pushing from Clara, Eleven talks the War Doctor out of destroying Gallifrey this time around. Instead, they make the planet disappear by freezing it outside of time and space. Thanks to the Daleks then blowing themselves up in friendly fire, no-one even realizes Gallifrey survived. And thanks to a bit of Laser-Guided Amnesia from the Temporal Paradoxes, neither does any Doctor before Eleven.
- Tricking the Shapeshifter:
Elizabeth I: I may have the body of a weak and feeble woman... but at the time, so did the Zygon.
- Unexpected Character:
- Peter Capaldi's Doctor.
- Tom Baker as The Curator.
- The Moment, too — while Billie Piper's involvement with the episode was highly publicized, most fans assumed she would be returning as Rose Tyler.
- Visual Pun: When creating a painting or a picture of a scene in real life, the goal of any artist or photographer is to capture that moment permanently in time. Time Lord art literally does this, freezing a moment in time, freezing it in a painting in 3D. Time Lord art, bigger on the inside.
- Vitriolic Best Buds: Compared to past instances when the Doctor met his future/past incarnations, the 10th and 11th Doctors get on very well... but it doesn't stop them from taking cheap shots at each other every now and again.
10th Doctor: (when comparing Sonics) Compensating?
11th Doctor: For what?
10th Doctor: Regeneration. It's a lottery.
11th Doctor: (imitating the 10th) Oh, it's cool, isn't it cool? I'm the Doctor and I'm all cool— Oops, I'm wearing sand shoes!
- Walking Spoiler: Two of them. The Twelfth Doctor's surprise appearance at the climax, and the Curator — who is strongly implied to be a future incarnation of the Doctor. To say any more would be a spoiler for a later episode.
- War Is Hell: The Time War; No one would consider using The Moment if it were not so.
- Weapon Twirling: The 10th Doctor twirls his Screwdriver a bit, when the War Doctor is observing him. A couple of other times, the Tenth and Eleventh Doctors twirl their sonics in unison.
- We Hardly Knew Ye: The War Doctor regenerates into Nine at the end. Including his two previous appearances in "Name" and "Night of the Doctor", the War Doctor has the least screen time of all the Doctors.
- Wham Episode: Gallifrey is saved from being destroyed in the Time War, something that has driven the Doctor since the series' revival in 2005.
- Wham Line: Quite a few, as to be expected from one of the biggest Wham Episodes of the series yet.
- There's the moment when we realize any Doctor aside from the main three will show up at all:
1st Doctor: Calling the War Council of Gallifrey; this is the Doctor!
- All 12 Doctors saving the day?
- One that qualifies for those who go into the episode assuming that Billie Piper plays Rose Tyler in it.
The Moment: In this form I'm... Bad Wolf.
- One from the person we've believed up to that point to be Kate Stewart:
Kate: Oh, they've probably just finished disposing of the humans a bit early.
- One of the most surprising cameos in the series, and based on Eleven's reaction, it's a Wham Line for him too:
The Curator: You know, I really think you might.
- And of course, the moment the plot finally fits into place:
The Curator: Gallifrey Falls No More.
- What Happened to the Mouse?:
- The entire Zygon invasion is not really part of the actual story (which is the journey of the War Doctor observing the Tenth and the Eleventh Doctors), and the peace treaty in progress is forgotten in the end (likely resolved offscreen), because there is more important stuff to think of, like the Time War. The humans are impersonated by the Zygons to fuel a few rounds of spot the imposter and a subsequent peace conference when their memories are modified so that no one is sure which is which. Osgood gives her inhaler to the duplicate, setting in stone which is which. This is never discussed again.
- The last time the Moment was seen was before the freezing of Gallifrey. It is unclear what happened to it. Perhaps Eleven or Twelve took it for safe keeping. Similarly, it is not known if it continued to take on the form of Rose Tyler/Bad Wolf. In the novel "The Eyeless" it is implied that the weapon that was used to end the Time War was placed on a planet in Galaxy Seven (the Sculptor Dwarf Galaxy).
- What the Hell, Hero?:
- The 10th Doctor is not pleased when he finds the 11th Doctor has forgotten (or claims to) the number of children on Gallifrey.
You've forgotten? 400 years, is that all it takes? 11th Doctor:
I've moved on. 10th Doctor:
Where? Where can you be now where you can forget something like that?! 11th Doctor:
Spoilers. 10th Doctor:
No, no, no, no. For once, I would like to know where I'm going. 11th Doctor: No, you really wouldn't!
- Clara pulls one, big time, when she challenges her Doctor about activating the Moment.
- Wink Ding: When the Eleventh Doctor winks at Osgood, there's a very subtle ding.
- Woobie, Destroyer of Worlds:
- The War Doctor is deeply guilt-ridden and haunted by the prospect of what he has to do.
- And for the most powerful weapon of mass destruction in the universe, the Moment really doesn't want to be used, especially to kill billions of children.
- The X of Y: The Day of the Doctor. Also the 123rd episode in the series to use this naming convention. Not to mention the third of fourth time in rapid succession "The X of The Doctor" is invoked. Previously was "The Name" and "The Night" and what follows is "The Time".
- You Are Better Than You Think You Are:
- At the end of the episode, the 10th and 11th Doctors apply this to the War Doctor:
War Doctor: Go back. Go back to your lives. Go and be the Doctor I could never be. Make it worthwhile.
10th Doctor: All those years, burying you in my memory.
11th Doctor: Pretending you didn't exist, keeping you a secret even from myself.
10th Doctor: Pretending you weren't the Doctor, when you were the Doctor more than anybody else.
11th Doctor: Because you were the Doctor on the day it wasn't possible to get it right.
- Clara then does this, convincing the Doctors to save Gallifrey.
- You Are Not Alone: As the War Doctor is about to activate the Moment, Ten and Eleven show up so he doesn't have to do it alone.
- Zerg Rush: By the end of the Time War there are only a few billion Time Lords/Gallifreyans fighting, in the War Doctor's words, "a billion billion Daleks". This would ludicrously mean there were 100 billion Daleks per ship, so he was almost certainly using hyperbole. However, given the amount of Dalek ships surround Gallifrey, he probably was pretty close, as since the Ninth Doctor originally thought the Daleks were extinct and the Dalek Emperor in "Parting of the Ways" say that the Doctor destroyed the Daleks, Fridge Logic would conclude that the ENTIRE Dalek Race was attacking Gallifrey.
"No more." note