Pete: No, love. I'm your dad. It's my job for it to be my fault.
Original air date: May 14, 2005
Written by Paul Cornell.
In a flashback, Jackie Tyler is talking to her young daughter Rose, telling her of the day her father Pete was struck and killed by a hit-and-run driver while picking up a gift to take to Stuart Hoskins and Sarah Clarke's wedding. A sad tale, dying alone on the street.
In the present day, Rose becomes nostalgic and asks the Doctor if it's possible to witness her father's death and be there for him when he dies. Landing a short distance away, they watch as Pete, getting out of his car carrying a wedding gift, is struck by a yellow car and knocked a good distance to the pavement. The Doctor tells Rose to go now to his side, but she freezes up. The moment has passed, and Pete is dead.
They back up against a wall, where Rose begs the Doctor to let her try again. The Doctor agrees, but sternly cautions her that they must be extra careful due to the presence of their selves from a few minutes back being there. From a different vantage point, they watch as Pete drops his gift, bends down to grab it...
... and then Rose runs into the street and pulls Pete safely out of the path of the car.
The earlier versions of the Doctor and Rose vanish. Pete, after recovering, thanks Rose and offers them a lift to the wedding, for which he was just about to get changed. The Doctor looks very sternly at Rose for about ten minutes while Pete invites them over to his flat first and, once there, is quick to try to explain the severity of the matter to Rose, who truly didn't know about the consequences. Rose continues to think that Pete's just this guy, and the universe isn't going to fall apart because she saved him. The Doctor again chastises Rose, but she's having none of it. The Doctor storms out on his own. Once Pete's ready, he and Rose set off to the wedding in his car.
The Doctor arrives at the TARDIS, but on opening the doors, finds it nothing more than an empty shell. He races for the church knowing that Rose (and everyone else) are in danger.
Unseen by our heroes, large globs of CG have started appearing in the sky, swooping down to consume unsuspecting humans.
Along the way to the wedding, Pete's radio starts to blare out anachronistic rap music, while Rose's voicemail messages just repeat "Watson, come here, I need you". They shrug it off by the time they get to the church, where the wedding party is congregating. They are surprised by the appearance of a yellow car, seemingly out of control, which nearly hits Pete before disappearing around the corner. Pete introduces Rose to the guests, including his wife Jackie carrying baby Rose with them.
As they mill about, a young Mickey races to the group, who has seen the other kids at the playground all disappear before his eyes. The crowd laughs it off until one of the beasts actually appears and snatches one of the wedding guests. The Doctor arrives and directs everyone inside the church. As the wedding party recovers, the Doctor explains the creatures are Reapers, which act like white blood cells, cleansing the wound in time created by Rose by destroying the living creatures within it. The great age of the church will give them time and protection, but eventually the Reapers will break through.
In private, the Doctor explains to Rose that normally, the Time Lords would have prevented paradoxes like this from happening. Rose apologizes, and the Doctor reiterates that just one man can be vitally important to the universe. He also warns her about touching her infant self, as that could cause further temporal damage. He suddenly pulls out the TARDIS key, hot and glowing. Racing to the centre of the church, the Doctor tells everyone to stay away as he uses the key to start materialization of the TARDIS within the church, a process that will take time and should not be disturbed.
The uneasy guests mill about. Rose finds that Pete and Jackie, though married, are in an uneasy relationship; nothing like what Jackie had told her. Rose talks to Pete more, and he starts to come to the conclusion that Rose is his daughter. When Jackie overhears Pete referring to Rose as his daughter, she is disgusted. Pete tries to point out that the woman is Rose, all grown up. Jackie refuses to believe it, so Pete does what's most natural to him: he thrusts baby Rose into Rose's arms to show Jackie how they compare.
That is exactly what the Doctor warned Rose about, and suddenly a Reaper appears inside the church due to the weakened fabric of space-time. The guests scatter as the Doctor races down the centre aisle; as the oldest being there, the beast will be attracted to him. The Reaper swoops down, grabs the Doctor in its mouth, and then hits the glowing TARDIS outline. A flash of light — and when everyone looks around, the Reaper, the Doctor, and the faint image of the TARDIS are gone; the TARDIS key sits on the floor, cold and dead.
Rose and the other guests start to give up hope as they see and hear more Reapers converging on the church. Pete, while looking outside, sees the yellow car pass by again. He starts to put two and two together, and realises he was meant to die earlier that day. Rose tries to tell him he's wrong, but Pete will have none of it. He has a tearful parting moment with Jackie, their child, and adult Rose. As soon as the car appears again, Pete rushes from the church, the Reapers on his tail, and jumps in front of the car.
The wedding crowd, outside the church, witnesses the accident, and starts to congregate around it. Rose, looking around, sees that those guests that were eaten by the Reapers are back, and no-one but her seems to be aware of the incident. As she watches, a hand falls on her shoulder — the Doctor, also back, tells her to go to her father now. Joining Pete by his side as he dies, Pete remembers the time fault, and smiles at Rose. She stays with him until he dies. As emergency vehicles converge on the scene, the Doctor and Rose slip away, walking back to the TARDIS hand-in-hand.
A flashback, again, but different this time: Jackie tells young Rose of the day her father died, and an unknown woman that stayed by his side after the accident. Rose recounts in a voice-over her appreciation for Pete, "the most wonderful man in the world".
One of the more emotional episodes of Doctor Who, if you couldn't tell.
- 20 Minutes into the Past: The story is set in 1987 and aired in 2005.
- All There in the Script: According to the script, the driver of the car which kills Pete was named Matt.
- Always Second Best: Pet couldn't even manage that. Rose finds a third place bowling trophy.
- Apocalypse How: The Reapers, seeking out and devouring all human life, cause a Class 2 seemingly within a matter of hours. The Doctor confirms they're sterilizing the entire Earth, leaving only pockets of human survivors in places made safe by advanced age like the church, and that the Reapers will still get through with time and bring it up to a Class 3a. Fortunately for the world and for history, the Reset Button gets hit.
- Arc Words: The words "Bad Wolf" appear graffitied on the lower yellow smiling poster on the wall the Doctor and Rose hide behind on their second travel back.
- Aw, Look! They Really Do Love Each Other:
- Arc Villain: The Reapers, although they're simply acting according to their nature, with Rose being the Unwitting Instigator of Doom whose actions attracted them.
- Be Careful What You Wish For: Said by the Doctor at the beginning of the episode.The Doctor: Your wish is my command. But be careful what you wish for.
- Bigger on the Inside: The first clue the Doctor gets that something has gone horribly wrong is that the TARDIS is not bigger on the inside; its interior is that of the prop police call box, as it was for part of "The Wheel in Space". Then the Reapers show up...
- Bittersweet Ending: Time is restored at the cost of Pete's life, but Rose at least gets to spend time with him and really know who him, and thanks to it being a Close-Enough Timeline she gets to be there to make sure he doesn't die alone.
- Book Ends: A double dose. The first and last lines of the episode refer to Pete's respective date of birth and date of death: "Peter Alan Tyler. My dad. The most wonderful man in the world. Born 15th September, 1954."/"Peter Alan Tyler. My dad. The most wonderful man in the world. Died the 7th of November, 1987."
- Broken Pedestal: Rose's horrified expression when she realises everything Jackie said about Pete wasn't true. Later subverted as Pete turns out to be an incredibly brave, well-meaning man, and who does anything, even if he has to sacrifice himself, to save his little girl.
- Butterfly of Doom: Rose twice goes back in time to visit her father before his death, but ends up saving him from his fatal accident on the second time in front of the first iteration of herself and the Doctor. The resulting tear in the fabric of reality lets through a host of aliens who feed off time energy and kill a lot of people.
- Call-Back: The Doctor says, "I've picked another stupid ape" in reference to Adam in "The Long Game" as Rose, like Adam, has used the Doctor and the TARDIS for personal gain.
- Chekhov's Gun: The Father of the Groom's absurdly large 80s brick of a cell phone turns out to have a battery big enough for the Doctor's plan to recall the TARDIS. Turns out to be a Red Herring, though.
- Clock Roaches: The Reapers are drawn to wounds in time caused by time-travellers trying to use their knowledge of events to change the outcome of those events. They attempt to sterilise the wound by destroying everything in the affected area. (The Time Lords used to prevent them from destroying any sentient life-forms, but following the Time War, there is no-one to keep them in check.) This also means that Tlotoxl was right when he said that heeding Barbara would mean the Aztecs' destruction, and also explains why, following the events of "Earthshock", the Fifth Doctor was unable to go back and rescue Adric, who ironically died trying to do something that, had he succeeded, would itself have caused a time paradox.
- Close-Enough Timeline:
- Rose convinces the Doctor to let her visit her dad, Pete, in The '80s (who was struck and killed by a car when she was a baby). Twice. The first time she can only just stand there and not even move to his side as he lay dying. The next time, in a split second decision, she saves his life. This causes a problem. Time starts warping, the offending car gets stuck on an infinite loop, and scary time monsters appear to destroy the whole area and stop reality from tearing itself apart. Eventually Pete realizes what's going on, and that him being alive is what is causing the problems. He then decides that only he can save everyone by sacrificing himself to the looping car. At the end of the day he still dies, but in this timeline he gets to live a little longer, spend time with his grown-up future daughter, and be a hero for once. A Pyrrhic Victory if there ever was one.
- The ending also reveals that the circumstances of Pete's death were slightly altered; at the start, Jackie said he died alone, whereas at the end she says a mysterious blonde woman held his hand until the end. Guess who?
- Another minor change is that the first time around, the driver of the car just drove off. They never found him. Second time around, he stopped and waited for the authorities.
- Death Glare: Nine is NOT happy with Rose saving Pete. He more than understands why she would want to save her father, but this is still very wrong and something he cannot condone.
- Deceptive Legacy: Jackie told Rose that Pete was a great inventor and entrepreneur. When Rose goes back in time to meet him, she discovers he's a bit of a prat, and trying to find a way to strike gold and get rich.
- Don't Touch It, You Idiot!: "Don't. Touch. The Baby." — which Rose then does, of course. (At least it was by thoughtless instinct, not by intentional disobedience or due to curiosity as a character flaw.) This leads to the Doctor actually dying in that timeline.
- Empathic Environment: Discussed. Rose remarks that on some level she'd expected the weather would be appropriately grim and rainy on the day her father died.
- Evil Phone: The first sign that time has been broken is a cryptic phone call Rose gets on her mobile... that turns out to be the very first phone call. Stuart's father gets it on his chunky '80s phone as well.
- Feud Episode: Rose and the Doctor have a fight about how Rose just destroyed the time stream, and he steams out, threatening to leave her. He can't since it turns out the TARDIS is just a police-box for once, but he later says he wouldn't have left her.
- Flat Character: The Reapers are depicted as temporal predators rather than creatures with individual personalities, and the Doctor's explanation that they act as bacterial cleansers heavily implies that they are acting on instinct and so aren't evil at all. It just so happens that humans are on their menu. The real meat of the episode is the emotional relationship between Rose and her father. This is a possible reason why the Reapers have never re-appeared since their debut episode; there isn't enough material to work with them.
- After Rose saves Pete, she says the car was going to kill him.Pete: Gimme some credit, I wasn't gonna walk under it, was I?
- When the Reapers are striking the stained-glass windows of the church, several times their shadows are seen pressed against the image of Jesus Christ's crucifixion: One man who died to save the world from the mistakes of others in the past.
- After Rose saves Pete, she says the car was going to kill him.
- For Want of a Nail: Rose saves her father from being killed by a hit-and-run driver. This leads to... flying dragon demon things trying to unmake reality.
- "Groundhog Day" Loop: The driver fated to strike Pete is stuck on a five-second loop starting just before the turn onto the street the hit happens and just after when the strike should have occurred. He vanishes and starts his loop over again, never seeming to be aware of his situation. He is the only human left outside the church in the vicinity of the reapers. His loop ends when Pete goes back in front of his car.
- Gory Discretion Shot: We see Pete's wedding gift breaking instead of Pete getting hit by the car.
- He Is Not My Boyfriend: The start of a Running Gag not only with the Doctor/Rose, but with almost every other Doctor/Companion in the New Series.Pete: Listen, don't worry about him. Couples have rows all the time.
Rose: We're not a couple. Why does everyone think we're a couple?
- Heroic Sacrifice:
- After Rose destroys the timeline by saving his life, Pete Tyler allows himself to be run over by the car that was meant to kill him to restore it.
- The Doctor qualifies too, as he bought everyone some time by shielding Pete and his family and pointing out he was the oldest being so the Reapers should come for him first (in the street outside before everyone got into the church, they didn't, so the reminder was worth something). He was saved by Pete in the end, like everyone else, but it doesn't mean the sacrifice wasn't there. Well, for a given value of "wasn't".
- Historical In-Joke: The whole of time itself begins screwing up due to interference with someone's death, causing such stuff as a phone ringing which when picked up treats the listener to "Watson, come here, I need you...", the first words ever spoken through a phone, by Alexander Graham Bell.
- Historical Villain Downgrade: An In-Universe example. Originally, the guy who ran over Pete did so out of his own carelessness. Thanks to the change, it was no longer his fault and he never had to live with the guilt, never had to run away from the police.
- Holy Ground: The Reapers can't get into the church, not directly because it's holy, but because its status as a holy structure has kept it in place for a very long time and therefore it's exceptionally "solid" to them.
- Idiot Ball:
- Rose ignores the Doctor's warning about interference and stops her father from dying, despite seeing firsthand exactly what happens when you ignore the Doctor.
- The Doctor's not too clever there, either. Why would he take the girl with daddy issues to the exact point where her father died? Conversely, in his defence, he did warn her not to mess up history when he did consent to take her there and gave her explicit instructions on what to do to avoid that, but the point that he grossly underestimated her emotional issues still stands.
- Improbable Infant Survival: Played straight in the case of baby Rose; however, the kids on the playground (except for Mickey) weren't so lucky, at least until time was corrected.
- I Never Told You My Name: When the Doctor addresses Jackie by name, she's unnerved, but doesn't get an explanation for how he knows before the day is saved and she forgets what happened.
- In Spite of a Nail: Rose goes back in time and saves her father's life, creating a Temporal Paradox and prompts the Reapers to start eating people. Her father ends up setting things right by throwing himself in front of the car that was supposed to have killed him, but this time Rose is there and comforts him while his life slips away, thus altering her own past in a trivial way that doesn't affect the greater march of time. This also affects the driver, as the accident is no longer a hit-and-run.
- Kid from the Future: Rose meets her parents and infant self.Jackie: Her dad? How are you her dad? How old were you, twelve?
Pete: Jacks — listen. This is Rose.
Jackie: Rose? How sick is that? You give my daughter a second hand name? How many are there? Do you call them ALL Rose?
Pete: Oh, for God's sake, look! It's the SAME Rose!
- Like Parent, Like Spouse: After all her complaints, it turns out that Jackie's taste in men was not so different from Rose's.
- Literal Metaphor: Almost the first thing Jackie says to Pete in the episode is, "You'd be late to your own funeral!"
- Luke, You Are My Father: Rose goes back to when she was a baby and saves her father. She has to fend off some flirting from him right at the start, but he eventually figures it out more or less on his own. Later, after overhearing that the nineteen-year-old Rose is Pete's daughter but missing the "from the future" part, her mother is understandably squicked by the appearance that her husband a) fathered a child when he was about twelve and b) gave her the same name as the baby they currently have together.
- Meaningful Echo: Rose makes a fateful decision, marked by a discordant note in the Background Music. When Pete makes another near the story's end, the same note is heard again.
- Merged Reality: The timeline is restored with Pete's death, but the exact circumstances are altered.
- Mood Whiplash: From the moment Rose makes the decision to save her father, the plot moves from a lonely girl wanting to know her dead parent and be there to comfort him in his last moments, to Class 3a Apocalypse How and ending with Heroic Sacrifice, with some Awful Wedded Life in between.
- Mundane Solution: Pete eventually realizes that the Doctor is going out of his way to try and resolve things in the most complicated manner possible, and that the easiest fix is to just put time back the way it was by dying in the car crash.
- Never Speak Ill of the Dead: The main reason for Rose's aforementioned Broken Pedestal towards Pete; Jackie only ever told Rose the good things about him, so Rose never got the whole truth.
- Never the Selves Shall Meet: Rose holding her younger self causes the Reapers to break through. This is a bit of a Call-Back to the Fifth Doctor story "Mawdryn Undead", where the meeting of Brigadier Lethbridge-Stewart's two selves causes a massive blast of energy. The Third Doctor story "Day of the Daleks" called it the "Blinovitch Limitation Effect".
- Nice Job Breaking It, Hero: Nice Job Breaking Time, Rose.
- But also averted in that Rose's interference actually makes things better in the end; Pete and Jackie get a great big good-bye kiss and Jackie is visibly less bitter as she tells the revised story. This time the driver stopped and Jackie is forgiving; "It wasn't his fault, he was just a kid." Rose gets to meet her father, and Pete dies to save the universe knowing that nobody will ever know — except the one person who matters most: his little girl.
- Non-Malicious Monster: It is strongly implied that the Reapers are devouring the alternate timeline on their natural instincts to cleanse temporal paradoxes, and have no malicious intent to cause pain or grief.
- Nothing Is Scarier: The TARDIS' interior vanishes, leaving behind an empty police box.
- Oh, Crap!: The Doctor and Rose have just had a falling out, and he goes back to the TARDIS, to give both of them time to cool off. He opens up his little blue police box to find... it's a police box. Cue Beat of sheer horror, followed by running back as fast as he can.The Doctor: ROSE!
- Older Is Better: The Doctor states that older buildings offer better defence from the Reapers.
- Punctuated! For! Emphasis!: "Jackie Tyler, do as I say! GO! AND CHECK! THE DOORS!"
- Real Fake Door: The aforementioned disappearance of the TARDIS' interior.
- Rebuilt Pedestal: By the end of the episode, Rose realizes that the reason her mother lied to her about Pete is because she wanted Rose to have a lovely, wonderful father, even if only by story. On top of that, she learns that he could have been a wonderful father, because he proves willing to make the ultimate sacrifice once he learns the truth of their situation with the clockroaches.
- Reset Button: Rose rescues Pete from dying in a hit-and-run. Problem is, he's supposed to die, and his survival unleashes the Reapers, which is only defeated by his Heroic Sacrifice, which (arguably) resets the timeline back to its original state.
- Rubber-Band History: Three points of history are changed without any adverse effect: Pete's death is witnessed, he doesn't die alone, and the driver who hit him stops and turns himself in to the police. In fact, there are indications that if Rose had saved Pete the first time, the change might've gone OK. It was doing it while her and the Doctor's earlier selves were there that messed up the timeline beyond the limit. Plus, when the Doctor is trying to summon the TARDIS into the church, he seems pretty sure that he can fix it so the Reapers will go away without Pete having to die. Of course that was before Pete gave Baby Rose to Adult Rose, letting the Reapers invade the church and kill the Doctor and cause the TARDIS to vanish.
- Screw Destiny: Rose travels back in time to be by her father's side when he dies. She ends up saving his life because she can't bear to watch him die. Then the world starts to dissolve, and the trope is subverted.
- Set Right What Once Went Wrong: The episode establishes that some points in time can't be changed (known as fixed points, they are usually major historical events but they could be more personal ones) without causing disaster, but other points are in flux and can be changed to varying degrees.
- Set Wrong What Was Once Made Right: After the paradox results in The End of the World as We Know It and the Doctor's death, Pete decides to fix the timeline by jumping in front of the car that was supposed to kill him.
- Smarter Than They Look: Pete may be a prat, but he's not stupid. He points out how there's no sirens as the Reapers are attacking, meaning the whole world has probably been affected. He also deduces from Rose's behaviour, how much she acts like Jackie and the Doctor describing a wound in time that she's his grown-up daughter from the future. And that he needs to die to restore the world.
- Spotting the Thread: Rose describes Pete as an amazing father who's always there for his family. He immediately realizes she's lying, that he could never be that man. Shortly after, he realizes he was supposed to die in the car accident where he met adult-Rose, so he sacrifices himself to save the world.
- The Story That Never Was: The only way to stop the Reapers is for Pete to sacrifice himself by being hit by the car, erasing the alternate timeline created by the paradox.
- Symbolically Broken Object: When Rose's father is hit by a car we don't see him hit but rather see the vase he's carrying fall to the ground and break. When Rose saves him, the vase falls but does not break.
- Temporal Duplication: After watching her father die, Rose convinces the Doctor to go back to the same vicinity they already were. This only makes the Time Crash worse when she stops her father's death. Later on she's in close vicinity to her baby self, and them meeting leads to the Reapers showing up.
- Time Crash: Rose causes one by saving Pete, leading to the first-ever phone call being heard on people's cellphones and the Reapers coming to destroy the Earth.
- Timeshifted Actor:
- The Time Traveller's Dilemma: Kinda enforced (by the Reapers) rather than being a logical result of the time interference, but tragic nonetheless.
- Timey-Wimey Ball: Pete Tyler being alive creates a paradox, and anything else would make it worse. So yeah, interacting with one's past self makes sparks, and a paradox fills the air with gas fumes (sort of. Not really at all, but if that helps just think of it like that).
- Tricked Out Time: You can visit the exact same point in time repeatedly, so long as you don't make your past self experience something you don't remember experiencing.
- Unpleasant Parent Reveal: Rose gets the Doctor to take her back in time to the day her father died, and when she meets him she discovers that he isn't the wonderful man "always having adventures" that her mother described, he's a gadabout looking for his next get-rich-quick scheme. However, he does make a Heroic Sacrifice when he learns that he was supposed to have died but Rose saved him from being hit by a car and changed the world for the worse.
- Wedding/Death Juxtaposition: The Doctor takes Rose to see the day her father Peter died, which was when he was on his way to a wedding. Rose ends up causing a Temporal Paradox by saving him, and most of the deaths happen when the characters arrive at the wedding in question.
- Writers Cannot Do Math: Rose travels back to November 1987, where we see her as a baby of about six months old (according to Series 2's "Rise of the Cybermen") — except there are repeated references to her being 19 in her first season, which starts in March 2005. For those needing it spelled out, her being six months old in this episode would make her two months away from her 18th birthday when she met the Doctor.
- You Can't Fight Fate: Except that you can, since all that Rose initially wished for was to hold injured Pete so he doesn't die alone, and she succeeds in that. All in all, the changes that were actually done were enough to make his story slightly less tragic: see Rubber-Band History above. And he could even have been saved in the end, had he not given little Rose to big Rose to hold. So probably subverted after all.