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Recap / Doctor Who 50th AS "The Day of the Doctor"

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The Day of the Doctor
Looking for a Doctor? You've certainly come to the right place.
Written by Steven Moffat
Directed by Nick Hurran
Air date: 23 November 2013

"Great men are forged in fire. It is the privilege of lesser men to light the flame."
The War Doctor

The one where the Doctor, the Doctor, and the Doctor confuse the polarity (and just in time for the big five-O).

The 50th anniversary special of Doctor Who, featuring Matt Smith, the return of David Tennant as the Tenth Doctor and Sir John Hurt as the Doctor's greatest secret, the War Doctor. This is the first proper Milestone Celebration story for the show since "Dimensions in Time" 20 years prior, the first canonical one since "The Five Doctors" a decade before that, and 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. In 2018, BBC Books released a Novelization of this episode written by Steven Moffat which, among other things, answers some questions from the episode and includes updated versions of several scenes, including an appearance by the Thirteenth Doctor.

Previews: teaser, trailer 1, trailer 2, Children in Need 2013 clip.


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  • Acceptable Breaks from Reality:
    • In the "All Thirteen" 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). Word of God is that, In-Universe, this is a "time glitch" caused by all the Doctors crossing into War's timeline.
    • The UNIT Black Archives contains photos and presumably data on some companions that are not likely to be known or accessible to UNIT. The in-universe rationale for the photos is that said companions were either brought to the Archive or otherwise taken to a location for debriefing, photographing, and then had their memory wiped of the encounter. This is plausible for former known companions who left the Doctor to return to normal lives on Earth. However, characters like Romana, Turlough, Leela, Adric, Sara Kingdom, and Nyssa simply did not spend enough time on contemporary Earth for UNIT to be aware of their existence, let alone abduct and return them discretely. Kamelion never left the TARDIS in any other story after his introduction in "The King's Demons", which was set in a historical period pre-UNIT. Also, none of the photos resemble mugshots, due to the fact that they were stills taken directly from episodes.
  • A.I. Is a Crapshoot: The Moment is a weapon of mass destruction that gained sentience, so no one dared activate it for fear it would judge them for that action; however, when the War Doctor activates the Moment, it leaves the choice up to him, but does everything possible to talk him out of it — a refreshing change from how these things usually go. In fact, the Moment is unambiguously depicted as being one of the good guys and is visibly upset when it appears the War Doctor will go through with activating "her," and equally relieved when the three Doctors figure out how to avoid using "her." The Moment even cracks a couple of jokes along the way.
  • Alien Invasion: The setting of the episode, both of them, is one race invading another's planet. It's Zygons on Earth and Daleks on Gallifrey.
  • Aliens Speaking English: The War Doctor carves the words "NO MORE" into a wall in English. This is for the benefit of the audience — Gallifreyan would be too confusing (and for that matter, a waste of laser gun power). The Daleks, however, don't understand what the words mean and ask the Doctor to "EXPLAIN!" (Given the Doctor's established fondness for Earth, however, it is not unreasonable that the Doctor actually did carve those words in English.)
  • All Animals Are Domesticated: Yes, the rabbit is an ordinary rabbit and not a Zygon, but no wild rabbit would have let the Doctor get so close and deliver his whole speech without fleeing. However, the series has established that the Doctor has an affinity with animals and can also directly converse with them, with the Eleventh Doctor carrying on actual conversations with a cat and a horse during his era.
  • All There in the Manual: Screen captures and on-set images are the only way to get a clear view of most of the companions board in the Black Archive. Screen capturing reveals some images showing companions who never met in any broadcast episode interacting with each other, as well as the first reference to Grace Holloway, the companion from the 1996 TV movie, in the revival.
  • Ambiguous Syntax: Unintentionally — when the Time Lords get to the forbidden museum and point out that "The Moment is gone", they mean the object is missing, and probably also "We've lost our chance".
  • And Starring: "Matt Smith, David Tennant, Jenna Coleman, with Billie Piper and John Hurt".
  • And the Adventure Continues: The episode ends with the Doctor setting off on a new adventure: to find his way home, at last.
    Eleventh Doctor: Clara sometimes asks me if I dream. "Course I dream," I tell her. "Everybody dreams." "But what do you dream about?" she'll ask. "The same thing everybody dreams about," I tell her. "I dream about where I'm going." She always laughs at that. "But you're not going anywhere — you're just wandering about!" That's not true. Not any more. I have a new destination. My journey is the same as yours, the same as anyone's. It's taken me so many years, so many lifetimes, but at last I know where I'm going, where I've always been going. Home... the long way round.
  • Apocalypse How: The Moment is described as a "galaxy eater", but its historical effect falls more into Planetary Metaphysical Annihilation (Gallifrey is destroyed and its past locked in time to prevent an escape through Time Travel). Of course, since it wasn't actually used, who knows if Planetary Metaphysical Annihilation or Galaxy Eater is its power.
  • Armed with Canon: Steven Moffat has openly admitted that Russell T. Davies' decision to have the Doctor destroy Gallifrey during the Time War had never sat well with him, and he'd always believed that a fundamental part of the Doctor's character would be to find a way to Take a Third Option and prevent this. Hence, the rewriting of the ending of the Time War to have the Doctor save Gallifrey rather than destroy it (but thanks to a Timey-Wimey Ball in such a way that maintains continuity).
  • Armour-Piercing Question:
    • While in the prison cell:
      War Doctor: Did you ever count?
      Tenth Doctor: Count what?
      War Doctor: How many children there were on Gallifrey that day?
    • This part, moments later:
      Tenth Doctor: You've forgotten?! 400 years, is that all it takes?!
      Eleventh Doctor: I've moved on.
      Tenth Doctor: Where? Where can you be now where you can forget something like that?!
    • Ten and Eleven:
      War Doctor: Must you talk like children? What is it that makes you so ashamed of being a grown-up?
  • Aside Glance: The Eleventh Doctor gives a brief one after Clara enters the TARDIS.
  • As You Know:
    • Androgar points out that all of the weapons from the Forbidden Vault have been used, a fact which would be obvious to all the Time Lords present, but not the audience. Except not all of them have been used. Perhaps he forgot and was reminded, or was just summarizing the hopelessness of the situation.
    • The Doctor also reminds Clara that she encountered the War and Tenth Doctors previously, for the audience's benefit more than Clara's. (Neither the War nor Tenth Doctors react to this bit of news.)
  • Audience Surrogate:
    • Osgood is pretty clearly a stand-in for the entire Doctor Who fandom.
    • In addition, the War Doctor's irritation with his newer selves' personality quirks has him speaking for certain quarters of Old Series fandom.
  • Avengers Assemble: An odd version in that they just need the one person. UNIT knows they need the Doctor, so they go out and go pick up the TARDIS, while the Doctor happens to still be inside.

  • Back-to-Back Badasses: In the official episode poster, the Tenth and Eleventh Doctors stand back to back.
  • Badass Biker: Clara + motorbike + leather jacket and gloves.
  • Badass Boast:
  • Badass Creed: The promise that the name "the Doctor" represents. Both of which descriptions of the Doctor are quotes from prolific Doctor Who script editor and novelist Terrence Dicks.
    The Doctors: Never cruel or cowardly. Never give up, never give in.
  • Barrier-Busting Blow: The Zygon chasing Osgood smaskes an arm through the door to the Undergallery hidden behind the portrait of Queen Elizabeth I, punching out Elizabeth's face in the process.
  • Batman Gambit: The Moment shows the War Doctor not just any future, but the one from which he and his future selves can choose to continue to be the Doctor, and save Gallifrey. The three Doctors take the opportunity, as the Moment had hoped.
  • Bavarian Fire Drill: Elizabeth simply pretends to be her Zygon imposter to rescue the Doctors, and the rest of the Zygons roll with it, without realizing.
  • Becoming Part of the Image: The door to the "Undergallery" is actually a large painting of Queen Elizabeth I and the Tenth Doctor. At one point a Zygon knocks a hole in the painting, exactly taking out the Queen's face. Later in the episode, Osgood sneaks back into the Undergallery, and this trope again comes into play when she peers through the painting to check if the coast is clear.
  • Beyond the Impossible: What? Putting a whole planet inside a Stasis Cube? Don't be silly, it would take hundreds and hundreds of years of calculations and at least a dozen TARDISes working in concert. There's only one left because the others are all gone and lost during the war or eaten by House. Cue a reunion of twelve incarnations of the Doctor... "No sir, all thirteen!"
  • Big Bad Ensemble: The Daleks loom large over the episode via the Time War and provide the final challenge, but much of the runtime is spent dealing with the Zygons and their plan to invade Earth.
  • Big Damn Heroes: All twelve Doctors join forces to save Gallifrey from destruction, with the First Doctor leading the charge after the main three are in place. And then a thirteenth incarnation arrives to complete the calculations needed to save the planet.
  • Big Entrance: Ten, Eleven and War sonicking a Dalek through the glass of the Gallifrey Falls painting and into the Black Archive, followed by a Team Power Walk.
    War Doctor: Hello.
    Tenth Doctor: I'm the Doctor.
    Eleventh Doctor: Sorry about the Dalek.
    Clara: Also the showing off.
  • Big Good: The Moment brings the Tenth, Eleventh and War Doctors together and leads them towards the third option of saving Gallifrey and ending the Last Great Time War with less bloodshed than she herself can manage.
  • Bigger Is Better: The Tenth Doctor is taken aback by how much bigger/fancier the Eleventh's screwdriver is compared to his. He immediately has a determined look on his face and activates the "extend" feature on his own.
  • Big Ol' Eyebrows: The Twelfth Doctor's first canonical appearance is a pair of these drawn into an admittedly rather scary death glare.
  • Big Red Button: The War Doctor is initially disappointed that the Moment didn't feature one, although "she" eventually makes an extremely fancy one up for him.
  • Bluff the Impostor: Ten tries to do this with a Zygon impersonating Queen Elizabeth by proposing to her. Unfortunately, he doesn't realize that his shapeshifter detection device was being set off by the horse, meaning he ends up married to the real Queen of England. He then does this to a rabbit, giving a speech about how he's The Dreaded, only to realize it's actually just a rabbit. He tries it again in the Tower of London, listing all the unflattering reasons he believes the Queen is the Zygon imposter... Only for her to reveal she killed the imposter back in the forest and has been impersonating it ever since.
  • Book Ends:
    • The episode begins with a policeman walking past a sign for I.M. Foreman's scrapyard, which occurred at the start of the first episode in 1963.
    • The First Doctor's original human companions were teachers at Coal Hill School. At the start of the episode, Clara is now a teacher at Coal Hill.
    • A certain I. Chesterton is now the Chairman of the Governors, confirming what Sarah Jane Smith said about how long-lived Ian and Barbara are now supposed to be. The name W. Coburn is seen on the same sign, which is considered a shout out to the writer of the first episode, Anthony Coburn, and Waris Hussein, director of the first serials.
    • Assuming that Nine retained any memory of the Moment's manifestation as Billie Piper, and was drawn to Rose for that reason, then Rose and Ace are Book Ends for the 17-year hiatus. Both the first companion of the revived series and the last companion of the classic were introduced to the Doctor through the machinations of a powerful destructive entity that manipulates space-time and moves people through it to advance a veiled agenda.
    • The War Doctor proclaimed that he's a Doctor no more, and the special ends with him reclaiming the title of Doctor.
  • Borrowed Catch Phrase: Eleven uses River's Catchphrase of "Spoilers." Since, River originally picked it up from the Doctor, it's more like he's taking it back.
  • Brick Joke:
    • Back in "The Power of Three", Kate claimed to have "ravens of death" at the Tower of London. In her first scene here, she mentions that the ravens at the Tower are robots, meaning that claim could've been more serious than we thought...
    • A couple of minutes after the Eleventh Doctor metaphorgets trapping people in paintings to "Cup-A-Soups", the War Doctor eats a Cup-A-Soup while chatting with Clara, as Ten and Eleven supervise the human-Zygon negotiations.
    • At one point the War Doctor accuses Ten and Eleven of acting like children, as though they are ashamed of growing up. When the Doctors announce their plan to the War Council of Gallifrey, Ten says, "We're stationed at equidistant intervals around the globe. 'Equidistant', so grown-up."
  • Buffy Speak: The War Doctor is initially disgusted by Ten and Eleven's use of it, (timey-wimey?) but eventually warms up to it.
  • Bullet Hole Spelling: The War Doctor borrows a soldier's blaster and shoots out the words "NO MORE" on a wall as a message to the High Council of Gallifrey that he was putting an end to the war.
  • The Bus Came Back: Many characters from previous episodes return.
    • The Tenth Doctor (David Tennant), after last being seen in "The End of Time" on New Year's Day 2010.
    • The Zygons, who hadn't been seen onscreen since "Terror of the Zygons" in 1975 (that's 38 years for those keeping score).
    • Tom Baker returns to the show for the first time since 1981 ("Logopolis"), albeit playing a different character. (Although, not entirely...)
    • Coal Hill School, the setting for the very first episode in 1963, as well as the 25th anniversary story "Remembrance of the Daleks", is reintroduced to the series.

  • Call-Back: Multiple previous events are discussed or serve as plot points.
  • Call-Forward:
    • Dalek Caan had used the phrase "No more!" in "Journey's End".
    • What does the Tenth Doctor do when he finds the Eleventh Doctor's fez? Put it on.
    • "We need a new destination, because I don't wanna go." "He always says that."
    • Invoked by the Moment, who takes the form of Bad Wolf. It was intended to be a Call-Back, but it got the past and future mixed up.
    • When the three Doctors come up with The Plan.
      War Doctor: Oh, Bad Wolf girl, I could kiss you!
      The Moment: Yup, that's gonna happen.
      Tenth Doctor: Sorry, did you say "Bad Wolf"?
    • The Tenth Doctor marries Elizabeth I. We've already seen Elizabeth decades later in "The Shakespeare Code" (acknowledging the Doctor as her enemy), while in "The End of Time", Ten mentions his marriage to Queen Bess.
    • On watching the Tenth Doctor getting snogged by Queen Elizabeth, a disapproving War Doctor asks if there's going to be a lot of that from now on. Eleven admits that yes, "it does start to happen."
    • The big red button that can destroy Gallifrey and the Daleks mirrors the exact same dilemma faced by the Ninth Doctor with using the Delta Wave to destroy the Dalek Emperor and burn the Earth during the events of "Bad Wolf"/"The Parting of the Ways".
    • As he regenerates, the War Doctor comments that he hopes his new ears will be less conspicuous. While this is just a general joke about Eccleston's prominent ears, it also calls to mind an easy-to-miss line in "Rose", when Nine looks at his reflection (apparently for the first time) and comments that it "could have been worse, but look at the ears..."
    • After Gallifrey disappears and the Dalek bombardment destroys the Dalek fleet, a single Dalek pod can be seen being flung away by the force of the explosion. It's likely this pod contained either the Dalek from "Dalek", the Emperor Dalek from "Bad Wolf"/"The Parting of the Ways" or one of the other Time War-era Daleks that's somehow shown up post-Time War despite the Doctor being convinced they were all dead (and that if it didn't, they were also flung away from the explosion in a similar fashion, just in a different direction). The revelation that the Daleks weren't destroyed with the Moment but much more mundanely blown up by their own crossfire certainly explains why Dalek survivors kept turning up even though the Doctor was certain that they should all be gone.
  • The Cameo:
    • Tom Baker as the Curator. It is the first time he accepted to show up in a canonical multi-Doctor story since his tenure as the Fourth Doctor (he did previously appear in the 1993 anniversary minisode "Dimensions in Time" but it doesn't count).
    • This also serves as a Call-Back of sorts to the Unfinished Episode "Shada". The video release of that featured Baker telling the story and walking around London's Museum of the Moving Image, which had a Doctor Who exhibition.
    • The Twelfth Doctor (Peter Capaldi) appears briefly during the climax of the episode.
    • In the introduction to the theater screening, Strax demonstrates what will happen to pitiful humans who don't switch off their mobile phones or try to secretly pirate the movie.
    • If The Five(ish) Doctors Reboot is to be believed, then the covered-over statues in the Under-Gallery were apparently played by Peter Davison, Colin Baker and Sylvester McCoy.
    • Colin Baker also did the voiceover for "Behind the Lens", a special feature originally played after the theatre screening.
    • Although it will require pausing a DVD or Blu-ray to see them properly, images of many companions are visible on the bulletin boards in the Black Archive, most noticeably Susan, Kamelion, and the Brigadier.
  • Capture and Replicate: Zygon operating procedure, used in this case first to try to infiltrate Elizabethan British government and later UNIT by replacing critical members (and one horse).
  • Car Fu: The War Doctor does this with the TARDIS, crashing through a wall on Gallifrey and taking out several Daleks.
  • Cargo Ship: Discussed in-universe by the Moment. "Caught between a girl and a box; story of your life, eh Doctor?"
  • The Cat Came Back: The War Doctor shoves the raggedy blonde girl through the door for daring to sit on the Moment. Once he turns his head, she's back in the exact same spot. In a later scene he walks away from the girl... in order to sit down next to her.
  • Catchphrase:
    • "Geronimo!" and "Allons-y!" are both yelled by their respective Doctors.
    • "No More!" is the War Doctor's. (His first words upon regenerating were "'Doctor' no more!") He also calls out "Gallifrey Stands" when they save the day.
    • The notion is Lampshaded by the War Doctor.
      Eleventh Doctor: GERONIMO!!
      Tenth Doctor: Allons-y!
      War Doctor: Oh, for God's sake! Gallifrey stands!
    • It's Lampshaded by the Moment, mocking the War Doctor.
      The Moment: [while stomping around, pretending to be the War Doctor] No More! No More! No More!
      War Doctor: Stop it!
      The Moment: No More.
  • Chaos Architecture: Coal Hill School's buildings have changed completely since we last saw it in "Remembrance of the Daleks". Hardly surprising; "Remembrance of the Daleks" takes place in 1963 (a few days after "An Unearthly Child") and few schools wouldn't have been substantially rebuilt in 50 years, especially after all the damage the Daleks did in the aftermentioned story.
  • Character Tics: The War Doctor is quick to notice the eccentricities of his future selves, from Ten's fashion sense to Eleven's movements.
    War Doctor: Are you capable of speaking without flapping your hands about?
    Eleventh Doctor: [gesturing emphatically] Yes! No...
  • Chekhov's Boomerang: The Stasis cubes, Time Lord artworks that freeze a moment in time... of course they're gonna be used and it's by the Zygons to invade the 21st century. Then the Doctors use the painting to get to the Black Archive. Okay, we got it... wait, what? The technology comes up yet again and saves the day at the end?
  • Chekhov's Gun:
    • The phone call UNIT tech McGillop receives near the beginning. It's from a future version of the Eleventh Doctor, telling him how to get them in place to stop the Zygons' Evil Plan.
    • Memory filters in the ceiling. They're useful to keep security leaks plugged, but they're also helpful when conducting negotiations with shapeshifters.
    • Calculations that take centuries to make. Seemingly a red herring at first, because it turns out that the door isn't locked and so the sonic screwdriver calculation wasn't needed, but the concept becomes important in the conclusion of the episode.
    • Stasis cubes are good for more than art.
    • Osgood's inhaler can't be replicated by Zygons, so there's only one at any given time. It helps show which Osgood is the human during the negotiations.
  • Chekhov's Lecture: Clara delivering a lesson to her students about Marcus Aurelius' famous words on integrity.
    Clara: "Waste no more time arguing about what a good man should be. Be one."
  • Clap Your Hands If You Believe: Osgood has absolute faith in the Doctor and twice more or less prays for him to save her/the world. The first time, she manages to save herself. The second time, her faith is rewarded.
  • Comically Missing the Point: Ten does it every now and then.
    Tenth Doctor: We're being attacked by a shapeshifting alien formerly disguised as my horse!
    Elizabeth: What does that mean!?
    Tenth Doctor: It means we're gonna need a new horse!
  • Commander Contrarian: The General on the War Council scoffs at every idea that's presented to him; not just at the Doctor's harebrained scheme, but also the High Council's plan B (which was seen in "The End of Time"). This means that the General won't even take suggestions from the Lord President. Subverted at the end, where the General decides to go with the Doctors' plan since there is no alternative.
  • Compensating for Something: The Tenth Doctor suggests this is the reason that the Eleventh Doctor's screwdriver is bigger. Although Ten did also add an "extend" function to his. Considering Eleven's genuine confusion at the suggestion, he most likely isn't. This is a rare instance where the Covert Pervert and the Chaste Hero are the same person.
  • Complexity Addiction: The Doctors' solution to open a prison door is to calculate the right signal across 4 centuries on their sonic screwdrivers to unlock it, as opposed to just checking if it was even locked.
  • The Conscience:
    • The Moment's interface is this to War Doctor. It comes from the Moment's own sentience and is sitting in judgement of its user, trying its hardest to convince them not to use it.
    • Clara is this to Eleven, and by extension the other two, reminding them of the promise of their name; the Doctor, when they're all about to blow up Gallifrey. Indeed, the survival of two-billion-plus children, not to mention the adults on Gallifrey, can be directly credited to her intervention since the Moment actually fails to convince the Doctor not to use it.
    • Illustrated in a scene when the War Doctor looks at the Moment, then we see Clara standing in the exact same position.
  • Continuity Nod:
    • 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.
    • Once again The Eleventh Doctor finds himself dangling out of the TARDIS in midair above London.
    • Scientist Osgood is a reference to a technician named Osgood from "The Dæmons".
    • The Doctor once again, when facing off against the local authority, gives his companions embarrassing nicknames. To add 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 model most notably used by the Fourth Doctor.
    • The Time Lord General refers to the High Council's plan as having "already failed". This indicates that from Gallifrey's POV, this episode takes place right after "The End of Time".
    • The Moment waves at the Doctor and says "hello" the same way the Ninth Doctor introduces himself to Rose in "Rose".
    • The Tenth Doctor last had a horse in "The Girl in the Fireplace".
    • The Tenth Doctor's Zygon detector (or "machine that goes 'ding'") is a repurposed timey-wimey detector from "Blink".
    • The speech the Tenth Doctor gives a rabbit is from "Voyage of the Damned". Also fades somewhat similarly to the Eleventh 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.
      Eleventh Doctor: Never going to happen!
    • The Eleventh Doctor pokes fun at the Tenth Doctor's "sandshoes" in the same fashion that the Tenth Doctor poked fun at the Fifth 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 Tenth 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 Tenth and Eleventh Doctors 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".
      The Brigadier/The General: I didn't know when I was so well off!
    • More subtly, War's quip about what might "help to pass the timey-wimey" paraphrases one of Two's lines from "The Three Doctors", grousing about his missing Chekhov's Gun... er, recorder.
    • Threatening the Zygons, Kate tells them to search their stolen memories' recall of her father if they doubt how determined of a foe they're dealing with. Ten suggested that the Vashta Nerada look him up for similar reasons in "Forest of the Dead".
    • As he departs, the Tenth Doctor tells Eleven that he's glad his future is in safe hands. The First Doctor says the same thing when bidding farewell to Five 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 be considerably more dangerous.
    • Ten and Eleven somberly place their hands on War's in readiness to press the Big Red Button, sharing the moral burden with him, much as Donna did when she and Ten blew up Vesuvius in "The Fires of Pompeii".
    • 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 impostor got wrong, like he did back in "The Poison Sky", only here he's not so successful.
    • The Tenth Doctor's TARDIS jumps through Nine/Ten's, the War Doctor's and finally 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. Bonus points for when after he said it, Ten replicated Patrick Troughton's signature scowl when he played the Doctor.
    • 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.
      Eleventh Doctor: Hey, look! The round things!
      Tenth Doctor: I love the round things.
      Eleventh Doctor: What are the round things?
      Tenth Doctor: ... no idea.
    • During the Human/Zygon negotiations, one of the Kates can be heard in the background saying how the Sycorax "ended up as an ash cloud over London."
    • Osgood trips up her Zygon duplicate by pulling her long scarf out from under the copy's foot... something the Fourth 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 peaceful 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. The next episode explores these questions.
  • 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 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 Eleventh 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 they will punish him if he uses them to end the Time War. The War Doctor reassures them 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.

  • 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 humour.
      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 a brooding, traumatized 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.
    • Clara gets one in after she and the Doctors emerge from the 3D painting:
      War Doctor: Hello.
      Tenth Doctor: I'm the Doctor.
      Eleventh Doctor: Sorry about the Dalek.
      Clara: And the showing off.
  • Death Glare:
    • When Ten learns that Eleven has forgotten how many children were on Gallifrey, he attempts to give him his patented glare to get him to explain why. Eleven, in return, gives his own glare in return, effectively cancelling Ten's out, disturbing him.
    • Also, Twelve's appearance in this episode is a shot of him doing this while flying his TARDIS.
  • 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 (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 the War Doctor regenerates at the end of the episode.
  • Decon-Recon Switch: Many of the War Doctor's dismissals of his later selves can be read as a deconstruction of how the producers of the new series have tended to approach the Doctor, especially from the view of a classic series Doctor (and fans of the same) — he frequently criticises them for being young, immature, self-obsessed and self-pitying, and trying a bit too hard to be a cool action-romantic style hero rather than the more thoughtful intellectual he used to be in the classic series. The reconstruction comes when he gradually sees that they're ultimately good and heroic, and ends up being proud of what his future looks like.
  • 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.
    Eleventh 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.
  • Digital Destruction: The "50th Anniversary Collection" Blu-ray used a 2D down-conversion of the 3D master, which played at the wrong speed (24FPS rather than 25FPS), included a few floating window borders on the sides of the screen and had a audio phasing issue that distorted the music when played on certain stereo systems. BBC Worldwide offered a replacement disc with the correct-speed version (and an optional stereo track just in case). The 3D disc, however, had the same issues but was never corrected.
  • 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.
    Clara: Zygons?
    Elizabeth: Men.
  • 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.
  • 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:
    • Ten does one when Eleven sourly admits he doesn't remember how the Elizabethan adventure turned out.
      Tenth Doctor: [pointing rapidly between Eleven and self] How can you forget THIS?
      Eleventh Doctor: Oi, it's not my fault! You obviously weren't paying attention!
    • Eleven gets one on seeing the Undergallery's Curator.
      Eleventh Doctor: I never forget a face.
      The Curator: I know you don't. And in years to come, you might find yourself revisiting a few, but just... the old favourites, eh?
  • The Dreaded:
    • Both the Tenth and the Eleventh Doctors are upset to see the War Doctor. It's 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.
    • 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: The War Doctor fought for a long time, and ultimately he was able to put an end to the war on a hopeful note. Likewise, it's implied that the Doctor eventually retires instead of dying in battle at Trenzalore.
  • Empathy Doll Shot: A burning soft toy is shown on the ground during the Daleks' attack on Gallifrey.
  • Energy Weapon: 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.
  • 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. "Okay... So, you've heard of that then." 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 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 a Spot Check: Clara should have noticed War had disappeared before she finished speaking.
    • The Doctors come up with a crazy (though admittedly brilliant) plan to destroy the cell door using a timey-wimey trick with their screwdrivers. Just before they implement the plan, Clara opens the door, revealing it was unlocked the whole time.
  • Failed Attempt at Drama:
    • The Tenth 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 disintegrate their prison door... only for Clara to burst in, revealing it wasn't locked.
    • The War Doctor invokes this on the Tenth and Eleventh Doctor's tendency to point their sonic screwdrivers at their foes as if they were guns by snapping that in practice they're just waving scientific instruments around trying to look cool.
  • Fake Shemp: As demonstrated in a behind-the-scenes feature, all non-featuring/casted Doctors (from First to Ninth) were played by body doubles, whose faces were digitally-altered to feature the supposed Doctor.
  • 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 Misdemeanour: 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.
  • Fictional Painting: The "Under-Gallery" in the National Gallery in London, where there're various secret paintings that are unavailable to the public for various reasons, like a portrait of Queen Elizabeth I with the Tenth Doctor; a version of The Raft of the Medusa, except with Cybermen; and some 3D paintings which are made with Time Lord technology, important part of the plot.
  • Finishing Each Other's Sentences: Ten and Eleven do this constantly towards the end of the episode. They're the same person after all.
  • The Fog of Ages: The Eleventh Doctor claims this fact.
    War Doctor: How old are you now?
    Eleventh 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.
  • Foreshadowing:
    • The Doctors, locked in a cell in the Tower of London, come up with an idea to have the War Doctor's screwdriver start calculating how to disintegrate the door so that Eleven's screwdriver will have the solution, since the screwdriver will take centuries to perform the calculations and there are multiple incarnations present. Although Clara's arrival soon after reveals the door to be unlocked, this is how the Doctors save Gallifrey in the climax.
    • The Twelfth Doctor appears in the ending to save Gallifrey.
      Time Lord General: I didn't know when I was well off. All twelve of them!
      Androgar: No, sir. All thirteen!
    • Osgood spends most of the episode wearing a long multi-coloured scarf. The end of the episode features a cameo by Tom Baker.
    • Queen Elizabeth names Ten as the Curator of the Undergallery. Then a familiar man appears in the end, calling himself "The Curator".
    • Kate notes that the ravens are looking sluggish and asks to have their batteries checked.
  • A Form You Are Comfortable With:
    • The Moment chooses the form of Bad Wolf 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. They have nothing to do with the Time War other than being one of the many victims of it, and their Evil Plan is entirely separate.
  • 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, including others who never met on screen nor visited London.
    • 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 thirteen 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. At the start of the episode, a clock is also shown indicating 05:16pm.
    • 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.
  • Functional Genre Savvy: Osgood wisely spends the episode acting like she is in an episode of Doctor Who. Believe that the Doctor has a plan, help where you can and don't be one of the those Conflict Ball humans that sabotage his efforts.
  • Future Me Scares Me:
    • Invoked by Eleven to his former self.
      Tenth Doctor: For once, I would like to know where I'm going.
      Eleventh Doctor: No, you really wouldn't!
    • The War Doctor is less-than-impressed by his future selves.
      War Doctor: Am I having a midlife crisis?!

  • Genre Blindness: McGillop expresses skepticism at the idea that there might be shapeshifting aliens around. Guess what he discovers he's surrounded by moments later.
  • Godzilla Threshold:
    • This episode just has one after another. The Time Lords 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. Then, seeing this as the wrong choice, the Doctors conceive an absolutely bonkers plan involving all their incarnations just so they can take the moral high ground.
    • Outside of the Time War, the contents of the Black Archive are considered so dangerous note  that any unauthorized intrusion sets off a failsafe that would nuke London to keep the contents from being misused.
  • Gondor Calls for Aid: From the point of view of the War Council. The Doctor has been a thorn in their side for centuries, but when the fate of the planet and the entire Time Lord race is at stake, every incarnation of the Doctor to date (and one from the future!) arrives to save them all.
  • 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." Seeing as how time travel is simultaneously his occupation, religion, and lifestyle choice, he takes it in stride.
  • 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 versions keep quiet about their realization.
  • Heroic Self-Deprecation: The quote from the War Doctor. He thinks of himself as the "lesser man".
    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.
  • His Story Repeats Itself: The Tenth and Eleventh Doctors choose to stand by the War Doctor on the day he ended the Time War by committing genocide against the Daleks and Time Lords, which formed a big part of the Doctor's backstory in the Revival Series. However, this time, Eleven realizes that the three of them can instead gather together their other incarnations and trap the Time Lords in a pocket universe instead of killing them off, emphasizing how much the Doctor grew over the course of the Revival Series.
  • Hollywood Homely: Osgood's doppelgänger 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 is certainly a "pretty one".
  • Hologram Projection Imperfection: The Time Lords' communication system lets the first two Doctors join the conference call, via black-and-white archive footage, without looking out of place. 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: The Doctors become for Gallifrey by saving them from the Time War; it gives them hope of a future in peace. 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 Humour:
    • The War Doctor learning the "timey wimey" phrase.
      Eleventh Doctor: It's a timey-wimey thing.
      War Doctor: Timey what? Timey-wimey?!
      Tenth Doctor: I-I've no idea where he picks that stuff up.
    • Eleven reacts 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: Averted. The Curator looks like an aged Fourth Doctor (since they're played by the same person). 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. Eleven never doubts for an instant that he's talking to his future self.
    The Curator: If I were you... oh, if I were you... Perhaps I was you, of course! Or perhaps, you are me.
  • Idiot Ball: Osgood is sciencey, an affectionate audience stand-in. She really should have gotten herself and her colleague away from the supposed statues before revealing her suspicions, however.
  • I Hate Past Me:
    • Downplayed. While Ten and Eleven 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. It's finally averted at the end when they all part as "friends".
  • I Kiss Your Hand: When saying goodbye to Clara, Ten kisses her hand.
  • Implied Death Threat
    Queen Elizabeth I: You don't seem to be kneeling. How tremendously brave of you.
  • Improvised Weapon:
    • Fangirl Osgood uses a copy of 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.
  • Improbable Infant Survival: 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 Armour-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.
  • Interface with a Familiar Face: The Moment attempts to do this by taking the form of Bad Wolf!Rose Tyler, but the War Doctor obviously hasn't met her yet. The Moment admits "she" tends to get the past and future mixed up.
  • 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. In the end, he suffers this in the mind of his future selves.
  • It Has Been an Honour: War to Ten and Eleven, but especially Clara, at the end of their adventure. While they quote the trope, it's an unintentional example as two them die after they return to their own timelines.
  • I Was Quite a Fashion Victim: All over the place. Eleven enjoys mocking Ten's sneakers, calling them "sandshoes". Ten briefly comments on War's combination of Eight and Nine's clothes, and he makes fun of both Ten's sneakers and Eleven's "dicky-bow".
  • Lampshade Hanging: Done throughout, mostly in the form of the War Doctor's comments on his successors. All the catchphrases, and kissing, and generally acting like children even through they're centuries older than him.
  • Kill and Replace: Elizabeth did this to her Zygon doppelganger in the forest, and later impersonates it by acting as their commander.
  • Lantern Jaw of Justice:
    • The Eleventh Doctor's heroic chin.
      Tenth Doctor: Well, me and Chinny, we were surprised...
      Eleventh Doctor: Oi, "Chinny"?.
      Tenth Doctor: Yeah, you do have a chin.
    • Those who went to cinema screenings were treated to the Tenth Doctor warning viewers about the 3D effect because of the Eleventh's chin.
      Tenth Doctor: Here it comes. Get ready to duck.
  • 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 Doctors later invoke 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 a genuine original position.
    • It is established that the earlier Doctors won't be able to remember the events due to timelines rearranging. Retroactively, this also explains why the Doctor appears unable to recall past meetings with himselves. It also explains the guilt that Nine, Ten and Eleven feel towards the "destruction" of Gallifrey. As far as Nine knew, he did destroy Gallifrey, just like the rest of the universe thought.
  • 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 "The Day of the Doctor" is part 2 of the story line begun in "The 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 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.
    • This exchange:
      Elizabeth I: How dare you? I'm the queen of England.
      Tenth Doctor: I'm not English.
  • Left Hanging: Intentionally. The idea for "The Zygon Invasion" had been brewing in Steven Moffat's mind for quite some time, and he used this episode to set it up, purposefully leaving it unresolved with the intention of returning to it later.
  • Lethal Harmless Powers: The Doctor's sonic screwdriver. Ten and Eleven behave as if it's a deadly weapon they're pointing, and War 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 how the other Time Lords view the Doctor. Particularly when they tell the General their plan to save Gallifrey.
    The General: It's delusional! The—the calculations alone would take... hundreds of years!
    Eleventh Doctor: Oh, hundreds and hun—
    Tenth Doctor: —dreds, but don't worry. I started a very long time ago.
    First Doctor: Calling the War Council of Gallifrey; this is the Doctor!
    Eleventh Doctor: You might say: I've been doing this all my lives!
  • Mass "Oh, Crap!":
    • War, Ten and Eleven have this when Clara says Kate is in the "Black Archive".
    • The Zygons have one when Kate tells them whose daughter she is.
      Kate Stewart: Somewhere in your memory is a man named Alistair Gordon Lethbridge-Stewart. I'm his daughter.
      [Zygons flinch]
    • Androgar notes that "The Daleks know something is happening — they're increasing their firepower!" As you guessed, yes, they definitely know what's happening and they are terrified.
  • Meaningful Look: Twelve's sole appearance here is throwing the TARDIS activation switch and a close-up of his eyes.
  • Mechanical Animals: Apparently, the ravens around the Tower of London are robotic in nature, the real ones having left long ago.
  • 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 replaced them with electronic birds.
  • Metaphorgotten:
    • In trying to explain the stasis cubes to Clara, the Eleventh Doctor continues his proud tradition of tortuous metaphors that don't make the comparison very well:
      Eleventh Doctor: See, Clara, they're stored in the paintings in the Undergallery. 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 War asks Eleven if he's capable of speaking without flapping his hands about. Eleven replies "Yes", realizes he's doing just 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 Tenth Doctor reveals he's made this calculation, and is angry with his next incarnation for forgetting this figure.
  • Mistaken for Transformed: The Tenth Doctor is seeking out a shapeshifting Zygon in 16th-century England, and believes that it's currently posing as Queen Elizabeth I. He decides to propose to her, believing that if she accepts, it'll prove that she's the Zygon, and his beliefs seem confirmed when she says yes. Unfortunately, it's actually their horse that's the Zygon, much to the Doctor's horror and mortification. Later, he gives a Badass Boast to what he thinks is the Zygon disguised as a rabbit, only to realize mid-boast that it's just an ordinary rabbit.
  • 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 materializing bring hope to everyone who hears them, "no matter how lost." To back her words up, the Tenth and Eleventh Doctors' TARDISes materialize right behind him. "Even you."
  • The Movie: 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.
  • Ms. Fanservice: Clara on a motorbike and 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-travelling 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 Under-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 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:
    • According to the clock Clara passes by when leaving Coal Hill, the episode begins at 5:16pm, the exact airtime of "An Unearthly Child".
    • 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.

  • Negated Moment of Awesome: The Tenth Doctor (repeatedly) fingering the Queen of England for a Zygon, delivering an ultimatum to a fearsome bunny, 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 is a UNIT tech, sports Nerd Glasses and has asthma. The inhaler itself proves to be important — Zygons can't duplicate it.
  • Nice Job Fixing It, Villain: The Zygon impersonating Kate gets so "into character" that she does everything exactly the way the original would have — including giving Clara the very thing she needs to rescue the Doctor.
  • Noodle Incident:
    • Clara's apparently been to the Black Archive before, and either had her memory wiped or hasn't experienced the visit herself yet.
    • The bulletin boards in the Black Archive are covered in pictures of events involving past companions, including meetings between companions who never met on-screen.
  • Nose Tapping: The Curator does this. "Who knows", indeed.
  • Not-So-Imaginary Friend: Only the War Doctor can see Bad Wolf, which is the chosen form of the Moment. Strangely, the War Doctor physically touches "her" when he first meets her, also making her less than imaginary to him.
  • Off-the-Shelf FX: The War Doctor's sonic screwdriver was built by modifying a licensed prop of the 8th Doctor's sonic. Which means that when the BBC subsequently licensed the War Doctor's sonic, it was a perfect copy of the one on screen.
  • 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.
    • Kate upon finding out that the Doctor is still inside the TARDIS after she had just ordered it airlifted to Trafalgar Square.
    • Osgood when she realizes the statues around her and McGillop are Zygon shapeshifters.
    • Clara when she realizes Kate is a Zygon.
    • The Daleks have one when they realise that the War Doctor is on Gallifrey and promptly try to exterminate him; as usual, they fail and go boom instead.
    • The Time Lord General when he realises that there's three Doctors.
      The General: Dear God, three of them. All my worst nightmares at once.
    • And then the other ten turn up. The General didn't know when he was well off.
    • Kate invokes her father to the Zygon Kate, who flinches.
  • Only Sane Employee: The Time Lord General. 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.
  • Original Position Fallacy: Deliberately averted by Ten and Eleven, who blank the humans' and Zygons' memories so they don't know which they are, forcing them to negotiate from Rawls's true original position and reach a just compromise.
  • Out-of-Character Moment: Averted. Moffat didn't use the Eighth Doctor as the Time War Doctor as he felt him destroying Gallifrey would be out of character. The War Doctor was used when Christopher Eccleston decided not to participate. Apparently, the Doctor being a warrior is really out of character, which is justified as the War Doctor was specifically meant as such. In fact, he rejects the title of "Doctor" entirely, which is why he isn't counted in the numbering.

  • Passing the Torch: When the Curator gives the Eleventh Doctor his mission to go and find Gallifrey. Also on a meta level, the Curator, whilst chuckling with Eleven over the fact they are (maybe) the same person, shakes his hand and congratulates him, which Eleven thanks him for.
  • Percussive Maintenance: The Tenth Doctor smacks and shakes his Zygon detector repeatedly whenever it fails to correctly identify a Zygon.
  • Plot-Based Voice Cancellation: The phone call McGillop receives after showing "No More"/"Gallifrey Falls" to the Doctor and Clara. We don't hear who's on the other end of the call until much later: the Doctor himself! He asks McGillop to move the painting to the Black Archive so that he and the other Doctors can emerge from it like the Zygons did to save the day.
  • 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 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 Tenth Doctor proclaims all his titles to a bunny he thinks is 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 the 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 Elizabeth hasn't been replaced by a Zygon. Quite the opposite in fact; she killed the Zygon and posed as him.
  • Refreshingly Normal Life-Choice: At the end of the special, the Doctor meets the Curator, who's strongly implied to be a distant future incarnation of himself who retired and now happily spends his days as the humble curator of an art gallery. For bonus points, the Curator is played by Tom Baker, who previously spent seven years playing the eclectic and energetic Fourth Doctor.
  • Reverse Polarity: Lampshaded; Ten and Eleven attempt this, but end up re-reversing by doing it simultaneously.
    Tenth Doctor: I'm reversing it, and you're reversing it back again... we're confusing the polarity!
  • Rewrite:
    • Starting with the first season, Russell T Davies wrote that the Doctor committed genocide against the Time Lords. The Ninth, Tenth, and Eleventh Doctors 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, 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 Tenth Doctor, which thus preserves their character arcs throughout the series. The plot gives us the Eleventh Doctor discovering/realizing that, after carrying the burden throughout his ninth and tenth incarnations, 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", is toned down considerably as the civilians and the General are shown to be more "desperate" than "maniacal". It's justified, 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. Plus, Rassilon flat-out murdered any dissenters with his gauntlet. Furthermore, 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.
  • Rhetorical Question Blunder: Annoyed over the general lack of gravitas of Ten and Eleven, War asks why they're so afraid of growing up. They give him a Meaningful Look.
  • Royals Who Actually Do Something: Elizabeth 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.)
      • War 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, Ten 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.
    • Eleven's fondness for fezzes gets a mention, with Clara treating it as a running gag.

  • 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 can emerge from it later once the picture was moved to a restricted area where the Zygons were about to destroy the world.
  • Self-Deprecation: 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.
    • "Great men are forged in fire; it is the priviledge of lesser men to start the flame". War Doctor is talking about himself in that second clause.
    • The Eleventh referring to the Tenth Doctor as "Sandshoes", due to his footwear.
      Tenth Doctor: They're not sandshoes!
      War Doctor: Yes, they are.
    • 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 to Clara.
    • Ten then tells Eleven that he's relieved to know his future will be in safe hands... also talking about Clara.
  • 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 the Moment's point of view, is to prevent the War Doctor from using "her" when he presumably did it before.
  • Shaped Like Itself: Ten's device.
    Tenth Doctor: And... [machine goes ding] ding.
    Elizabeth: What's that?
    Tenth 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 I in front of him isn't the real one — only to find out he's wrong.
  • Ship Tease: The final scene between the Doctors and Clara. Ten kisses 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 (this is actually the first time Clara is shown kissing the Doctor in this way; normally it's the Doctor seen kissing her on the forehead or the hair). 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:
  • Show Stopping Applause: Since the special was shown in theatres on its premiere evening, the editors included forty-three seconds of silence after the Curator's first line to allow for the live crowd reaction to Tom Baker's return to the series.
  • Shut Up, Hannibal!: Osgood trips her Zygon doppelganger while the latter is gloating about Osgood's prettier sister.
  • Sky Heist: UNIT sends a helicopter to pick the TARDIS up from a rural roadside and deliver it to the Tower of London. What they didn't know was that the Doctor and Clara were still inside it at the time.
  • 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.
    • At the climax, the Doctor has done the same thing with the calculations to save Gallifrey for thirteen incarnations. He's been saving Gallifrey "all [his] lives".
  • Snark-to-Snark Combat: The inevitable result of three Doctors existing in the same moment in time and space is a free-for-all about each other's fashion sense.
  • 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.
  • Special Guest: Galore. Aside from the first appearance of Peter Capaldi as the Twelfth Doctor, David Tennant and John Hurt are advertised heavily. Tom Baker reprising the Doctor as a future incarnation with the Fourth Doctor's face, not so much. In the climax, all known heroic incarnations of the Doctor briefly reappear, again not advertised.
  • Spoiler Opening: Anyone who read the opening credits (and had somehow managed to avoid being spoiled by trailers or media) would have been tipped off to Billie Piper's "surprise" return appearance in the episode.
  • 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 Elizabeths take it upon themselves to resolve it — by one killing the other one.
  • Spotting the Thread: Osgood 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 Tenth and Eleventh 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 "The 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.
      Tenth Doctor: Still, loving the posh gravelly thing, it's very convincing.
      Eleventh 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."
  • Team Power Walk: The three Doctors slow-motion power walk into battle in one scene. The Awesome is enhanced by the fact that they're walking out of battle and into enforced negotiations.
  • Technically Naked Shapeshifter: Discussed between Osgood and her Zygon imposter. At the time their memories are scrambled, so neither one knows which of them is real and which a shapeshifter.
    Osgood: If I'm a Zygon, then my clothes must be Zygon, too. So, what happens if I lose a shoe or something?
  • Temporal Paradox: The fez in this episode is seen in the Under-Gallery created by Elizabeth I, and thrown into a vortex by the Eleventh 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 Eleventh Doctor. How the fez first came into this loop is never explained on-screen.
  • Tempting Fate:
    • The War Doctor says that he hopes his ears will be "a bit less conspicuous this time" before regenerating... into the Ninth Doctor.
    • After working out how to open the door,Eleven is bragging about how clever they all are when Clara opens the door, which was unlocked the entire time.
  • Terrifying Pet Store Rat: The Tenth Doctor delivers a Badass Boast to what he thinks is a shapeshifted Zygon... but is in fact an ordinary rabbit.
  • Theme Tune Extended: For the first and last time in Matt Smith's tenure as the Doctor, the full version of the main theme is heard with the Closing Credits.
  • 13 Is Unlucky: Very much inverted, especially if the calculation only finished during Twelve's time (that is, the 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 Time Lord 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 realize they can Take a Third Option.
  • Three-Dimensional Episode: Shown in stereoscopic 3D.
  • Time Skip: A big one. When Eight regenerated into War at the end of Night of the Doctor, he regenerated as a young John Hurt. Now we see an old John Hurt. Given the way Time Lords age, he's been fighting the Time War for centuries. However, Nine said he'd seen "900 years of time and space", about the same as Seven's 953 years, so presumably post-War Doctors simply didn't count the war years.
  • Timey-Wimey Ball: As ever, lots of previous "rules" of time travel in Doctor Who get broken.
    • The Eleventh 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".
    • All of the Doctors are able to come together and use their TARDISes to put Gallifrey away — including the guilt-ridden Nine, 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 (Five, Six, etc.) or a threat to their freedom (One, Two, Three). 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.
    • Previous Zygon stories have been subject to this, as it is revealed the Zygon homeworld 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, McGillop 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 McGillop asks how this is possible, the Doctor just answers, "I'm a time traveller. Think it through."
  • Trailers Always Spoil: The HBO/ MAX episode listing spoils Billie Piper's appearance, featuring a shot of her sitting next to John Hurt.
  • Tricked Out Time: With some pushing from Clara, Eleven talks War 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. 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.
  • Two Rights Make a Wrong: Ten and Eleven both try to reverse the polarity of the time fissure, resulting in them reversing it back.

  • Urban Ruins: "The Day of the Doctor" depicts the capital of Gallifrey as the Daleks begin to destroy the planet. This destruction is what pushes the Doctor pass the Godzilla Threshold and use the Moment to end the war.
  • 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 Tenth and Eleventh Doctors get on very well... but it doesn't stop them from taking cheap shots at each other every now and again.
    Tenth Doctor: [when comparing Sonics] Compensating?
    Eleventh Doctor: For what?
    Tenth Doctor: Regeneration. It's a lottery.
    Eleventh Doctor: [sarcastic, imitating the Tenth Doctor] Oh, he's cool, isn't he cool? "I'm the Doctor and I'm all cool — Oops, I'm wearing sandshoes!"
  • 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 Tenth 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 "The Name of the Doctor" and "The 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:
      First Doctor: Calling the War Council of Gallifrey; this is the Doctor!
    • All 12 Doctors saving the day?
      Androgar: No, sir. All thirteen!
    • 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 called... Bad Wolf.
    • This exchange between Ten and Eleven, making it clear that the series will never be the same again:
      Tenth Doctor: You're not... actually suggesting we change our own personal history?
      Eleventh Doctor: We change history all the time; I'm suggesting something far worse. Gentlemen, I have had four hundred years to think about this... I've changed my mind.
    • 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.
    • The moment the plot finally fits into place:
      The Curator: Gallifrey Falls No More.
  • What Happened to the Mouse?: The last time the Moment was seen was before the freezing of Gallifrey. It is unclear what happened to it.
  • What the Hell, Hero?:
    • The Tenth Doctor is not pleased when he finds the Eleventh Doctor has forgotten (or claims to) the number of children on Gallifrey.
      Tenth Doctor: You've forgotten? 400 years, is that all it takes?
      Eleventh Doctor: I've moved on.
      Tenth Doctor: Where? Where can you be now where you can forget something like that?!
      Eleventh Doctor: Spoilers.
      Tenth Doctor: No, no, no, no. For once, I would like to know where I'm going.
      Eleventh 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.
    • 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 four times in rapid succession "The X of the Doctor" is invoked. Previously "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 Tenth and Eleventh 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.
      Tenth Doctor: All those years, burying you in my memory.
      Eleventh Doctor: Pretending you didn't exist, keeping you a secret even from myself.
      Tenth Doctor: Pretending you weren't the Doctor, when you were the Doctor more than anybody else.
      Eleventh 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 either using hyperbole, or the Time War was simply that bad.
  • Zero-Approval Gambit: With respect to the War Doctor and the Doctor's own self-worth in future incarnations. The Doctor faces this reality after learning he won't remember that he saved Gallifrey instead of burning it. After regenerating, the memories are gone and the Ninth Doctor carries the huge weight of guilt, reproached at the idea he destroyed two races in his past life badly enough that he buried the memory of his predecessor. The Eleventh Doctor also faces this potential with regards to Clara if he were to go through with pushing the button; the War Doctor also clearly disappoints the Moment when it appears he's about to go through with it.

  • Adaptational Deviation: Quite heavily so, to the point where Russell T. Davies playfully teased Moffat about the fact that he practically wrote a completely different story for the novelisation. That said, it's still recognisably the same story, but with many minor and significant alterations. To wit, here's a small list of the more major changes.
    • The novel uses a typically Moffat-y framing device, with the chapters being read out of numbered order and each one being narrated by a different character (usually incarnations of the Doctor), causing the narration to shift between first and third person perspectives.
    • The novel covers the events of "The Night of the Doctor" as well and makes a few significant changes, such as expanding Cass's backstory (and giving her a connection to the Eleventh Doctor through their shared therapy robot) and claiming that the Sisterhood of Karn didn't give the Eighth Doctor some magical regeneration potion... it was just lemonade. Eight also lists more expanded universe companions in his tribute, including Fitz. We also see the context of how the Tenth Doctor ended up in Elizabethan England.
    • Several characters who have no presence in the original episode appear, including River Song, Brigadier Lethbridge-Stewart and the Thirteenth Doctor (who, of course, wasn't even invented when the original TV special was produced). River is implied to have been responsible for erasing the Eleventh Doctor's memory of how many children he murdered on Gallifrey with the therapy robot.
    • In the tense Tower of London dungeon scene where Eleven reveals that he forgot the number of children on Gallifrey, he and Ten actually get into a physical fistfight over it. Furthermore, the entire dungeon confrontation is replayed multiple times from each Doctor's perspective, since in this version, the later selves retain their memories as events unfold.
  • Aerith and Bob: Why The Doctor's Gallifreyan granddaughter is called Susan is promised to be addressed in the missing Chapter 9.
  • Children Are Innocent: The novelisation has the Doctors angst much more about how many children they killed on Gallifrey.
  • Did We Just Have Tea with Cthulhu?: The Doctor and River having a picnic with the old gods, Thor among them, is mentioned.
  • Different World, Different Movies: UNIT realized the Doctor was a close friend of Peter Cushing when Cushing started showing up in movies made after his death.
  • Early-Bird Cameo: The Thirteenth Doctor appears and has a conversation with the Moment.
  • Embarrassing Tattoo: In a nod to a certain fan dilemma, Kate mentions that Osgood numbers all the Doctors, and if he was going to add another one into the sequence he really should have mentioned it before she got the tattoos. Osgood turns as red as a Zygon.
  • Fake Interactivity: The novelization claims to be written on psychic paper so the author can see the readers through space and time as he's writing, occasionally commenting on what we're doing.
  • Fiction as Cover-Up: The Curator says he discussed the idea with the Brigadier of publishing his adventures as books so the public would think they were fiction.
  • The Fourth Wall Will Not Protect You:
    • Due to it mentioning the Silence, the reader's memory is erased of Chapter 9.
    • At one point, the Curator said to store the book in a closed position to stop Weeping Angels escaping from it.
  • Hive Mind: The Zygon Elizabeth couldn't turn into a rabbit due to Shapeshifter Baggage but could turn into a group of mentally connected rabbits if they stayed near each other.
  • I Need a Freaking Drink: When the War Doctor first realizes Ten and Eleven are his future selves, he finally understands why some people carry hip flasks.
  • Likes Older Women: Amusingly, the Doctor's taste in women shifts between regenerations. In his eighth incarnation, he goes from describing Ohila rather unflatteringly, compared her to an ape, to then describing her as beautiful after regenerating into the War Doctor. It's heavily implied that they later had a scandalous fling.
  • Mythology Gag: The War Doctor claims that his first and second incarnations were both colourblind, but he didn't realise until changing into the Third Doctor, giving an InUniverse justification for why their serials were black-and-white until Season 7's leap to colour.
  • Named by the Adaptation: The War Doctor is never actually referred to as such in any TV story, only in promotional media. Here, he is usually referred to as "The Warrior" to distance himself from the promise of the Doctor.
  • Narrator All Along: The end of the book reveals that the Curator was writing the bits between the chapters.
  • No Endor Holocaust: The novelization goes into more detail about how moving Gallifrey into a pocket dimension would damage its atmosphere. Luckily all of the Doctor's previous incarnations use time travel to be in multiple places at once and save everyone.
  • One-Steve Limit: Invoked Trope. Moffat refuses to refer to the individual Doctor incarnations by their numbers, something he warns readers about in the interstitials, because every version is ultimately the same person. In a multi-Doctor story, this naturally creates ambiguity whenever multiple Doctors are conversing and it isn't always immediately clear which one is narrating each chapter. The Doctors do at least give each other immature nicknames (e.g. the War Doctor refers to the Tenth as "Daddy's Suit" and the Eleventh as "Bow-Tie"). Eagle-eyed fans (especially ones that have already seen the TV special) should be able to deduce from the clues.
  • Only Electric Sheep Are Cheap: The tourist board asked the Curator to design robot ravens after the real ones left the Tower Of London.
  • Rage Against the Reflection: The novelisation explained why the Ninth Doctor was surprised about his appearance in Rose's mirror, despite having had many solo adventures beforehand. It's because after he regenerated from the War Doctor, he experienced guilt from his false memories of using the Moment on Gallifrey's children and innocents. This made him break every mirror on his TARDIS so that he wouldn't have to look at himself.
  • Recursive Canon: The Peter Cushing movies, Dr. Who and the Daleks and Daleks' Invasion Earth: 2150 A.D., are mentioned as being in-universe movies made based on the Doctor's adventures, with him even lending Cushing a waistcoat for the sequel.
  • Screw This, I'm Outta Here: The novel reveals why so many Daleks survived the war. When the Doctors were saving Gallifrey, it wasn't thirteen doctors who showed up: he returned to the same moment hundreds if not thousands of times, not just enacting the stasis cube plan, but solving natural disasters across the planet. Also, while on the surface this took over an hour, for the Daleks in orbit it took seconds. To repeat, the Daleks have Gallifrey on the ropes when suddenly thousands of versions of their worst enemy, the one thing they fear, appear all at once. Of course, as many Daleks as possible fled. The Curator hypothesis that they might still be running.
  • Shapeshifter Baggage: It's said here that Zygons wouldn't be able to turn into small animals like rabbits, but rather a group of rabbits connected by a Hive Mind and be unable to go far from each other.
  • Shapeshifting Excludes Clothing: It's explained that the Zygons mimics clothing using hologram shells, but can't mimic functional objects like Osgood's inhaler.
  • Third-Person Person: The Doctor often refers to himself in the third-person in his narrations, owing to how he views The Doctor as the ideal man he wishes to be. Occasionally, the mask slips and he more humbly refers to himself in the first-person in times of vulnerability.
  • A True Story in My Universe: The Peter Cushing movies, Dr. Who and the Daleks and Daleks' Invasion Earth: 2150 A.D., are in-universe movies based on The Doctor's adventures in this world.
  • Twin Threesome Fantasy: Implied when it says River cloned herself on the Doctor's birthday.
  • Un-Installment: The novelization claims a lot of the Doctor's mysteries will be answered in the non-existent chapter 9. The reader apparently forgets this chapter due to it mentioning the Silence who make people forget seeing or reading about them.
  • Unstoppable Force Meets Immovable Object: The text compares Kate Stewart going up against her Zygon duplicate as this.
  • Unusual Chapter Numbers: Due to the nature of the story, the book numbers the chapters out of order and conspicuously omits Chapter 9.

"No more." note 


Video Example(s):


Comparing sonic screwdrivers

The Tenth Doctor is dismayed to see that the Eleventh Doctor's sonic screwdriver is bigger and fancier than his. Eleven's smug reaction causes Ten to accuse him of overcompensating for something caused by their regeneration.

How well does it match the trope?

5 (22 votes)

Example of:

Main / CompensatingForSomething

Media sources: