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Recap / Doctor Who S35 E12 "Hell Bent"

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Clara: Is it a sad song?
The Doctor: Nothing's sad till it's over. Then everything is.
Clara: What's it called?
The Doctor: I think that it's called "Clara".
Clara: Tell me about her.

The one where a man risks undoing the fabric of reality in order to save the woman he loves. Or...

The one where the Doctor comes home. With a vengeance. God help anyone in his way.

Clara comes back with her life stuck on pause. We see a gender-swapping regeneration unfold for the first time. The Doctor travels to the very absolute final end of time for the first time, and hashes it out with Me. And then has his memories of Clara wiped clean as a result of going too far... again. And she travels off with Me, both freakish functional immortals, while the Doctor is left with way more questions than answers.

And we're left with way more questions than answers.

Written by Steven Moffat and picking up where "Heaven Sent" left off, this is the Series 9 finale of Doctor Who, revealing the fate of Gallifrey post-"The Day of the Doctor" and wrapping up (at least for now) both the "Hybrid" Story Arc and the story of the Doctor and Clara Oswald.

The Doctor has escaped his confession dial, and had literally punched his way back to Gallifrey. And he's furious at those who put him in there for billions of years. He's angry enough to overthrow the Lord President Rassilon in a bloodless coup, and banish him. But his true goal the entire time has been to try and save Clara Oswald from her death by quantum shade on Ashildr's trap street. As her death is a fixed point in time, one that can't be cheated by doing something like sending a duplicate in her place, if he succeeds the space-time continuum will be destroyed. He's gone near-completely mad from his eons of imprisonment inside the dial; though he knows he's going too far, he's sure he can save both her and the universe, and his ordeal prevents him from being able to see reason.

Surrounded by people who can never understand, much less empathize with, his anguish, who will be the one who convinces the Doctor to stop and be himself again?

And how does he get to Nevada to tell this story to a familiar-looking waitress?


  • Accomplice by Inaction: Clara calls out the General and the other Time Lords as this — and monsters — for allowing Rassilon and his cronies to imprison and torture the Doctor for billions of years simply to get the truth about the Hybrid out of him. While it is not clear how much they knew about the situation at the time, there's certainly no evidence that anyone ever raised an objection or tried to get him out even as it became clear he would not confess.
  • Act of True Love: The Doctor went through hell for 4½ billion years, just in the desperate hope of keeping Clara alive.
  • The Ageless:
    • Trillions of years into the future, the immortal Ashildr/Me still looks like a teenager.
    • It is stated that Clara, in her present time-locked state, will not age.
  • Actor Allusion: Ashildr says to the Doctor that "Summer doesn't last forever". Considering what Maisie Williams' invokedStar-Making Role is, this is another way of saying "Winter is coming". note 
    • Additionally, their conversation regarding the "Hybrid" reminds of discussions within the Game of Thrones fandom about the interpretations of various prophecies.
    • A production-related example: the published shooting script for the episode describes the Doctor, after he steals a new TARDIS as acting "like a distinguished Scottish actor too excited for his own good."
  • All There in the Manual:
    • The published script for this episode includes extra details, like that when the Doctor shoots the General, he aims in such a way as to not cause instant death, allowing the Time Lord to regenerate. It's averted in one vital regard: no clues are given as to what Clara says to the Doctor in the Cloisters.
    • Steven Moffat confirmed in Doctor Who Magazine Issue 504 — months after "Hell Bent" aired — that the Hybrid indeed was/is the Doctor and Clara together, a detail only broached as theory in the episode itself. However, he also made it clear that this was only his interpretation.
  • Always Save the Girl: Regardless of one's view of the nature of the Doctor's relationship with Clara, here he puts her survival above that of everyone else in the universe; he will save her no matter what the price.
  • Amnesia Missed a Spot: The Doctor indicates that he still has some memories of Clara and their adventures together, just not the fine details such as her name and other things he pieced together, as well as aspects of her personality and appearance. At least, not until he realizes who the diner waitress was.
  • Analogy Backfire: Ashildr insists that "Summer can't last forever", meaning all good times must come to an end. The Doctor retorts that it can if you steal a time machine. And in a real-life application of this the same line of dialogue, since it was spoken by a character played by Maisie Williams, was erroneously viewed by many as a Game of Thrones in-joke (referring to its tagline, "Winter is Coming").
  • Anchored Ship: Fandom is divided as to the level of feeling between the Doctor and Clara over the preceding seasons (despite invokedWord of God and episodes themselves indicating it). However, in this final episode the Doctor is willing to undo time itself in order to save the woman he loves — whether romantically or platonically, the Doctor cares immensely for Clara. Ultimately, however, the scenario forces the ship to be anchored due to the necessity of the Doctor erasing most of his memories of Clara, with the script making it clear that the memories erased are those related to his feelings for her: her appearance, her personality and, despite his (apparent) ability to remember fine details about what happened on Gallifrey, the one thing he cannot remember is what Clara said to him in the Cloisters. As well, All There in the Manual material (see above) confirms they were the Hybrid.
  • And I Must Scream: The Cloister, which holds the Matrix where Time Lords are uploaded upon death, does this to anyone it catches. Deceased Time Lords are used to animate the guards, their faces stuck in a perpetual scream. Invaders are captured by living fiber-optic cable and turned into defences. A Dalek caught as such begged Clara and the Doctor to exterminate him.
  • …And That Little Girl Was Me: The Doctor tells Clara about a former classmate who entered the Cloister, went crazy, then stole the President's wife and the moon. She instantly figures out he's talking about himself once she recognizes he is talking about events Missy referenced earlier in the season.
  • And the Adventure Continues: The Doctor puts his velvet jacket back on, receives a new sonic screwdriver, dematerializes the Clara mural away and sets off for adventures new. And so does Clara, in her own TARDIS, traveling with Ashildr/Me.
  • Arc Words:
    • Turns out the Doctor may or may not have been bluffing all season about knowing who or what the Hybrid is; either way he is able to turn the series' obsession with it to his advantage. The Time Lords think he knows how to beat it, and are therefore more than willing to bring Clara back from the dead for a bit if that's what he needs. Towards the end of the episode, the Doctor and Ashildr/Me both offer plausible theories as to what the Hybrid actually is (it could be the Doctor, Ashildr/Me, or Clara, or the Doctor and Clara), though its identity is not specified. As noted above, however, Moffat confirmed it to be the Doctor and Clara together.
    • "Run you clever boy" returns for the first time since Series 7.
    • Earlier in the season, the Doctor's use of "duty of care" appeared to be an indication of his overprotectiveness of Clara, with Clara becoming visibly annoyed with it in "The Girl Who Died". When the Doctor utters it as justification for putting himself through hell for Clara, she finally recognizes it as a form of Love Confession.
  • Aristocrats Are Evil: Implied; the majority of the High Council went along with Rassilon's Evil Plan in "The End of Time" and now apparently had no problem with torturing the man who saved the entire planet back in "The Day of the Doctor". Now Gallifreyan soldiers and peasants fall in behind the Doctor and depose Rassilon rather than commit murder. Later, the General and the other Time Lords that remain turn out to have No Sympathy for the Doctor's suffering, although they are ultimately Hero Antagonists.
  • Armed with Canon: The ending of the episode is widely interpreted by fans as Moffat strongly criticising Davies's writing decisions with regard to the fate of Donna in "The Stolen Earth"/"Journey's End".
  • Armour-Piercing Question: Clara has one for the Doctor in response to his attempts to justify his actions.
    The Doctor: I'm trying to keep you safe.
    Clara: Why? Nobody's ever safe.
  • The Assimilator: Those caught in the Matrix while trying to steal its secrets become part of its defences.
  • Aw, Look! They Really Do Love Each Other: As described in the "Base Breaker" section for the main series entry, the notion of love — romantic or platonic — is controversial among fans of this series. However, regardless of whether it's read as romantic or platonic, the Doctor loves Clara so much that he's willing to destroy time to save her (after having spent 4.5 billion years punching through a diamond wall accompanied only by her memory in a vague hope of his plan of rescuing her working), and Clara's reaction (when she isn't trying to talk him down from mind-wiping her) is to give him Puppy-Dog Eyes, tell him something important that she is clearly heartbroken about him forgetting, invite him to run away with her instead of pushing the button, and attempting outright to undo the memory wipe by sitting right in front of him in the diner. In addition, the script even lampshades this by having Ashildr scoff at the Doctor's stock "she's just a friend" rebuttal — although whether towards 'friend' or 'just' is ambiguous.
  • Back for the Dead:
    • The male General from "The Day of the Doctor" returns to die and regenerate.
    • The second half of the episode teases around with this trope with Clara, since she has to return to her death for the universe to keep itself together, and it is deliberately left unclear as to whether the woman in the diner is Clara, or one of her many echoes scattered through time. But it turns out that she has "wiggle room" with regards to when that has to happen.
  • Back from the Dead: The Doctor is attempting to bring Clara back from the grave and almost succeeds; instead she becomes an Only Mostly Dead functional immortal whose death on the trap street still stands.
  • Badass Boast:
    • Faced with a warship demanding he surrender, the Doctor's response is to draw a line in the sand and go back to his meal.
    • Clara delivers one to the Time Lords on the Doctor's behalf.
    Clara: The Doctor is back on Gallifrey. Took him four and a half billion years to get here. What do you think he's going to do now? Why, he's stealing a TARDIS and running away!
    • The Doctor attempts this with "As of this moment, I am answerable to no one!" But Clara and Me immediately turn out to be exceptions.
    • When the Doctor interrupts his story to ask for a lemonade, leaving Clara in suspense, she asked if it was a gangland boss who wanted to kill him. The Doctor's reply: "Wanted to, yeah..."
    • The Doctor has another one made on his behalf when a Gallifreyan soldier says of him: "There was a saying, sir, in the Time War... The first thing you will notice about the Doctor of War is he's unarmed. For many, it's also the last."
  • Bait-and-Switch: The episode opens with the Doctor talking to what's presumably yet another echo of Clara working as a waitress in America. He tells her a story (the episode), and reveals early on that he plans to delete Clara's memory of him and stash her somewhere out of the way, where she'll be safe; now it seems that the waitress must be a memory-wiped Clara. At the end of his story it is revealed that the Laser-Guided Amnesia hit the Doctor instead of Clara. He then explains that he pieced the details together from the obvious gaps in his memories, though he still doesn't know what Clara looks and sounds like. This is followed immediately by Clara retreating back into the other TARDIS (though the Doctor isn't watching), confirming that it's actually the original Clara we've been following this whole time. The Doctor is no longer capable of recognizing her due to the mind wipe, though he does not realize this.
  • Bald of Authority: The General regenerates into a black woman with barely a shadow of head hair. And it turns out her new form might be closer to original.
    The General: Back to normal, am I? The only time I’ve been a man, that last body. Dear Lord, how do you cope with all that ego?
  • Batman Gambit:
    • The Doctor's claim to know what the Hybrid is is a lie (Rule 1) told with the intent to get access to a Time Lord extraction chamber and save Clara's life. And it works, sort of.
    • While we already knew that the Doctor meeting Clara and their staying together post-regeneration were Missy's doing, here Ashildr speculates she made them in hopes that the Doctor and Clara in tandem would become the Hybrid, bringer of chaos and destruction (two of Missy's favourite things) as their relationship pushed each to increasingly harmful extremes. Missy claimed other motivations — because he'd be miserable with a Control Freak (in which case it backfired as, regardless of where one stands on the question of romance between the two, the Doctor adored Clara) and to show him that everyone could be a hybrid of friend and foe — but who knows for sure?
    • The Doctor's method of handling Rassilon consisted entirely of standing up to him until the military switched sides with no prompting from him. He knew Rassilon would order them to kill him, and that they would respect the Doctor more than they feared Rassilon.
  • Batman Grabs a Gun: The Doctor steals a Gallifreyan sidearm and shoots the General, in order to use the subsequent regeneration as a distraction for him and Clara to escape. In a larger sense, his selfish willingness to risk all space and time by saving her in the first place also counts as an example of this trope.
  • Became Their Own Antithesis: The Doctor usually strives to be a selfless soul who thinks of the greater good and is frightened of being seen as a monster, but thanks to his horrible recent experiences has become an insane, desperate man who believes saving the woman he loves from the grave so he can give her the safe life she doesn't want is worth enduring billions of years of torture and risking all of time and space's existence. Tragically, the mental and emotional damage he's endured is so thorough that it takes Mind Rape for him to fully reclaim his better self and move on.
  • Being Good Sucks: The denouement boils down to this. The Doctor has a Heel Realization via Clara's demand to keep her memories and realizes he's gone too far out of selfishness. He thus accepts being Mind Raped as a way of returning to his best self. His memories of one of the great loves of his lives are compromised, and he has no companion or confidante. Since it's highly unlikely that he'll reconcile with the Time Lords and/or Ohila offscreen, he is currently a fugitive from his homeworld and may be hunted down by them and/or Rassilon and his cronies. Will he ever be forgiven for his Sanity Slippage actions, especially if abandoning Gallifrey leads to more trouble in the long run? In a season-spanning sense, in his darkest hour a man who was distinguished by his compassion for others received No Sympathy for his suffering from anyone besides the woman he was trying to save — and even then, she rebuffs his attempt to hug her in the extraction chamber and has to give him a verbal slap in the face to stop him from performing the mind rape on her. When all is said and done, all the Doctor gets for his troubles are the means to return to Gallifrey at some point and the ability to handle loss at last. And a new sonic screwdriver. (That said, if one sees the Christmas Episode "The Husbands of River Song" — which aired not three weeks later — as the true finale to Series 9, that hard-won ability to handle loss pays off; by making the right choices in a similar doomed relationship situation he manages to get a happy ending. So perhaps there's something to goodness after all.)
  • Being Tortured Makes You Evil: In conjunction with Love Makes You Evil (see below) — even with his enormous grief over a person who effectively was part of his life from the very beginning, the Doctor would probably not choose to resort to such extreme measures and violations of his principles in this episode if not for the events of "Heaven Sent".
  • Berserk Button: No one in particular pushes it, but the frustration over being unable to restore Clara to full life (and her reminder that he's caused a Reality-Breaking Paradox, which he doesn't have a plan to fix) causes the Doctor to momentarily blow up at Clara.
  • Beware the Nice Ones:
    • The Doctor's enemies have learned how angry he can be many times before and regretted it if they were lucky enough to live that long, but this is the episode that firmly takes the "nice" out of the Doctor (if only temporarily), revealing what happens when you piss the Doctor off so badly that he just stops caring altogether.
    • Despite her feelings for the Doctor, Clara was still prepared to trick the Doctor into zapping himself with the neural block in order to save her own memories. This is made clearer in the shooting script (published online a few days after broadcast) which revealed Clara initially lied about eavesdropping on the Doctor's plan to wipe her memory.
  • Beware the Superman: The Doctor, by his own admission, fails to live up to his self-imposed promise (and name) to avoid this trope by becoming the Hybrid, the creature capable of conquering worlds and risking catastrophe simply to heal his own anguish. Even though Moffat has confirmed the Hybrid was specifically the Doctor and Clara together, it is the Doctor who comes close to actually destroying the universe.
  • Big Bad: The Time Lords, headed up by their president. They struck the deal with Ashildr/Me to deliver the Doctor and his confession dial to them, and thus had a hand in both the Doctor's ordeal within the dial and — indirectly — the death of Clara Oswald. This makes them the head villains for the three-parter.
  • Big Bad Wannabe: Rassilon is exiled early on in the episode. Rather, the real threat to the universe is the Doctor, a Woobie, Destroyer of Worlds who has no malice in his hearts, but rather madness and pain that's keeping him from being his best self.
  • Big Damn Heroes: The Doctor dramatically pulls Clara out of time at the last moment of her life — but to her horror, she learns that he hasn't actually saved her life; rather, she was dead and right now is Only Mostly Dead. From there, she realizes the Doctor has undergone a horrible Sanity Slippage and is ready and willing to risk the safety of the universe on a Tragic Dream.
  • Bittersweet Ending: The Doctor has forgotten about what Clara looks/sounds like via memory wipe, but still remembers the adventures they had together. He currently has no companion and no confidants — he is once again a fugitive from his homeworld and the Time Lords and his quasi-friendship with Ohila may have been broken over his actions during his Sanity Slippage. (This doesn't even get into the crisis he winds up having to undo in the Expanded Universe comic book Supremacy of the Cybermen, in which his choice to banish Rassilon comes back to haunt him.) Even so, he is freed of his grief and rage, ready to make a fresh start as a wise, selfless healer once more. As for Clara, she is brought back to life (in a sense) and is now immortal and traveling with Ashildr in her own TARDIS; she'll eventually get back to Gallifrey and heal any damage to the timeline by meeting her death.
  • Bookends:
    • With this, Series 9 starts and ends with multi-part stories involving the Doctor being driven towards the Despair Event Horizon; in this story, he passes it, but comes back around.
    • Ohila and the Sisterhood of Karn appear, as they did in "Prologue" and "The Magician's Apprentice" that opened the season.
    • The business with the Doctor's confession dial, introduced in "The Magician's Apprentice", is resolved here.
    • The Doctor told Bors a story in "The Doctor's Meditation", and now he's telling Clara one... about her? And... isn't she dead?
    • The Doctor talks about a Time Lord who stole a moon and the president's wife, which Clara recognizes because in "The Magician's Apprentice", Missy told her about these stories. Missy also teased about the Doctor possibly once having been a "little girl" and in "Hell Bent" we see a Time Lord change gender.
    • The Doctor's guitar skills, introduced in "The Magician's Apprentice" (with his guitar becoming an Iconic Item as the season progressed), were last displayed in the opening scenes of "The Zygon Invasion" but are back for this finale. In the season premiere, he plays a song for Clara ("Oh Pretty Woman"), and here he plays a song about Clara, not realizing he's also playing it for her. There's also the fact the first time the Doctor sees Clara in Series 9, he serenades her with a guitar solo. The last time he sees her, he does the same — even if he doesn't know it's her.
    • In "The Magician's Apprentice" the Doctor makes a comment about always recognizing Clara, "When do I not see you?" Clara tells the Doctor, down in the cloisters, when she catches on that he was talking about himself, "I'd know you anywhere!"
    • The Doctor and Clara's travels together end as they began (somewhat), with Clara commanding "Run, you clever boy..." as she sends him off as he is unable to save her. While this time, her impending doom isn't quite as impending, it's just as sad — the "... and remember" part must be changed because now, he can't.
    • In the last season finale, it was Clara's boyfriend who was revived as a semi-dead Cyberman. Now Clara's been revived as a one-postponed-heartbeat-from-dead immortal. In both cases, Clara is separated from men she loved for good, barring developments in later seasons that might cross her paths with the Doctor's again, and even then it just wouldn't be the same relationship.
      • The Doctor risking the fabric of reality in order to undo Clara's death also parallels the gambit Clara is willing to make regarding Danny at the end of Series 8.
    • The Doctor tossed young Davros his sonic screwdriver in the opening sequence of "The Magician's Apprentice" and went without one for Series 9 in favour of his newly-invented sonic sunglasses. When he returns to the TARDIS in the closing sequence of this episode, the console reveals and tosses him a new sonic screwdriver — the first one unique to the Twelfth Doctor, as he used Eleven's in Series 8.
    • A bookend within the finale trilogy: When Clara says goodbye to the Doctor in "Face the Raven", Ashildr/Me has the sense to step back and give them space. She does the exact same thing here while Clara and the Doctor talk about erasing their memories and Doctor says goodbye to Clara a second time.
    • The very first episode to feature Clara, by way of her "echo", Oswin Oswald, "Asylum of the Daleks" also ended with a memory erasure, though in that case it was the entire Dalek race (temporarily) forgetting the Doctor after Oswin hacks their mainframe.
    • In "The Girl Who Died", when the Doctor and Clara meet Ashildr, they stymie the villains by threatening to upload a discrediting video to the intergalactic internet. In "Hell Bent", which wraps up Ashildr's Story Arc, the Doctor foils the villain by actually transmitting sonic-shades-recorded evidence of the Lord President's attempt to covertly execute him.
    • A portrait of Clara is the first image we see of her in "The Bells of Saint John", chronologically the first episode in which Clara was a companion; now, in her final appearance, the last image we see of her in her final episode as a companion is also a portrait.
  • Break Her Heart to Save Her: To save her from the Time Lords, the Doctor plans to erase Clara's memory of him, the very notion of which makes her very upset. When he has the memory wipe brought upon himself instead, the same end is reached, and Clara is heartbroken about it.
  • Break the Haughty:
    • Rassilon, Namer-Of-Many-Things, tries to get the Doctor to submit to his authority, which then backfires massively when everybody else decides to stand by the man who saved them all and he gets exiled as a result.
    • The Doctor's experiences over the course of this three-parter could be seen as him being broken by the fates. Reason 1: He made Ashildr functionally immortal rather than let her die; choosing the good side of To Be Lawful or Good violated the laws of time and space and wound up setting in motion the events that left Clara dead. Reason 2: In becoming The Unfettered to bring the already Killed Off for Real Clara back purely because he let his horrible experiences and anguish overwhelm him, he chose not to be lawful or good.
    • After going to her death with confidence and maturity, and challenging the Doctor over his actions post-extraction, Clara is emotionally shattered by the realization of what the Doctor went through for her, all because of what his people did to him. Recovers and re-enters pseudo-haughty mode, successfully challenging the Doctor's plan to erase her memory by expressing her (justified) entitlement to her memories. At the end, though, she still loses her love. And she feels it.
  • Brick Joke: An example of a serious application of this trope. Several times during this season the Doctor expresses to Clara how he has a "duty of care" towards her, which at one point makes her visibly annoyed with him. Its use in this episode brings the previous uses into sharp relief as we, and Clara, realize the statement was a way of him expressing his feelings for her.
  • Bullying a Dragon: Despite knowing what he's capable of (his days as the War Doctor are particularly well-remembered), the Time Lords decided to capture and torture the Doctor and unintentionally killed his companion in the bargain. Once they learn he's come through all of that and is ready to confront them and is angry, Rassilon still tries to have him destroyed. Everybody else is on the Doctor's side when all is said and done — until his plan to save Clara is put into action, whereupon they have to try and stop him for the greater good. They never considered that he might no longer be sane over his recent experiences.
  • The Bus Came Back: Several characters, with their most recent (as of this episode) appearance in parentheses.
  • Call-Back:
    • A certain barn on Gallifrey is revisited once again as the Doctor's first stop on his way to the Citadel.
    • When told to drop all his weapons, the Doctor drops a spoon.
    • While the General and the Doctor are discussing what they know about the Hybrid, the Doctor's final question is "what colour is it?"
    • In "The Magician's Apprentice", Missy said that she's known the Doctor "since the Cloister Wars. Since the night he stole the moon and the President's wife. Since he was a little girl. One of those was a lie, can you guess which one?" In this episode, the Cloister Wars are mentioned, and the Doctor tells Clara that he once stole the moon and the President's wife in a single night — then adds that that's the way it's usually told, but actually it was the President's daughter and he just "lost" the moon. (Which goes to show that Missy doesn't know the Doctor as well as she thinks she does.)
    • When the Doctor and Ashildr/Me are discussing the Hybrid, she offers a hypothesis that depends on the Doctor being half-human, something which was also suggested in the TV movie. He denies that he's the Hybrid, but doesn't actually address the question of his antecedents.
    • Clara becoming just like the Doctor — an issue that first manifests itself as early as Series 7 and "The Snowmen", with the way her Victorian echo behaved — is explicitly mentioned, is a plot point, and is taken to its logical conclusion by the end of the episode: Clara runs away in her own TARDIS, traveling with her own companion through time and space: Ashildr/Me.
    • The introduction of Clara as a diner waitress creates a call back for viewers familiar with the Impossible Girl arc of Series 7 where Clara splintered herself through the Doctor's timeline. Until the very end of the episode it is not clear whether this is the real Clara or one of those doppelgangers.
    • The piece of music the Doctor plays is the same piece of music that has played as Clara's leitmotif ever since the character was introduced in 2012, as the song graduates from soundtrack to diegetic. As a result, every single use of the melody from Day 1 is now retroactively a call-forward to Clara's fate.
    • The Doctor's rant about no longer being answerable to anyone is not only a direct call back to his "Time Lord Victorious" Badass Boast in "The Waters of Mars", but also more recently a similar statement made regarding changing history to save Clara in "Before the Flood". In all three cases, powerful female characters prevented him from going further: Adelaide Brooke (who commits suicide) in "The Waters of Mars", the TARDIS (who refuses to let the Doctor change history overtly) in "Before the Flood" and, finally, Clara in "Hell Bent" simply stares the Doctor down (with Ashildr/Me further contributing to the Doctor's return to sanity).
    • In fact, "Before the Flood" contains so much foreshadowing of this episode, it might as well be called a prequel. Examples: "I'm changing history to save Clara"; "If you love me in any way, you'll come back" (it takes 4.5 billion years for him to do so this time, not 150 years); Clara having part of her memory erased by the Doctor; the Doctor trying to create a bootstrap paradox by preventing Clara's death (even though Clara's death is what made him try to prevent Clara's death, which is why it doesn't work); and the Cloister conversation has parallels to Cass and Lunn being told they needed to say things to one another before it was too late. As well, the Doctor's climactic speech to the Big Bad Fisher King in "Before the Flood" condemned him for breaking the rules of life and death by killing innocents and trapping them as ghosts for his own ends. But the Doctor broke said rules in "The Girl Who Died" by saving Ashildr's life in a way that turned her into an immortal; while this was a To Be Lawful or Good Sadistic Choice, it set the stage for him losing Clara — and his response to that is breaking the rules again by pulling her out of time. He means no harm to either of them, but they end up unhappy. Worse, Clara was already Deader than Dead; he didn't have a legitimate-if-flawed chance to save her the way he did with Ashildr, and Clara ordered him to accept that and move on. Instead, he violates his duty of care to the universe purely because he is unhappy. He has become a Villain Protagonist who, like the Fisher King, must be stopped. The good news is that the Doctor is redeemable and once he realizes he's actually hurting Clara, he pulls back from the brink.
    • When Ohila of the Sisterhood of Karn turns up to watch what happens, she tells Rassilon "One so loves fireworks." Back in "The Brain of Morbius", the Doctor used a literal firework to reactivate the Sisterhood's Sacred Flame.
    • In "Listen" the Doctor said he always thought the last one at the end of the universe "would be me". He was right!
    • The bloodless coup against Lord President Rassillon is a possible reference to "The Christmas Invasion", where the Tenth Doctor ends the reign of another ruler (whom he once respected) with only a few words. Except, while it was six words there ("Don't you think she looks tired?"), it's only four here ("Get off my planet!").
    • As they debate the Doctor's mindwipe plan, the Doctor and Clara revisit several of the points made about the Doctor wanting to keep Clara safe during their previous farewell in "Face the Raven".
    • Clara's "The Reason You Suck" Speech to the Time Lords is a dark reversal of River Song's Anguished Declaration of Love.
  • The Cameo: Several monsters, including Daleks, Cybermen, and Weeping Angels, make brief cameos in the Cloisters.
  • Chaos Architecture: The barn from "Listen" and "The Day of the Doctor" makes a reappearance, and like in "Listen" it has a loft that wasn't there in "The Day of the Doctor" — which, from the perspective of Gallifrey, is chronologically between "Listen" and "Hell Bent". Explained briefly when the woman tells the Doctor, "You up there, you're not supposed to be there! I've just put all that back, it's for the boys, if any of them ever want to come —"
  • Character Development:
    • A problem that has plagued NewWho Doctors is difficulty in dealing with and moving on from loss, especially the often-tragic departures of his companions. This is most likely the result of the horrors of the Time War and the staggering loss of lives therein. Furthermore, most of his separations with his companions, those he cares about, end up being tragic and painful, which just ends up burning any potential progress. His post-Rose brooding cost him his relationship with Martha; he never recovered from what happened with Donna (or what he had to do to save her) and tragically spent too much time alone; and the loss of Amy and Rory (which, because they're kinda his in-laws, could be considered family) broke him so bad that he gave up on traveling and heroics until he met and lost Victorian Clara. Thus his loss issues became pronounced over Series 9, reflected in his choice to save Ashildr by risky means and his increasingly desperate efforts to keep Clara by his side — after all, she plunged herself into his timeline and saved each incarnation many times from the machinations of the Great Intelligence. Not only does Clara die a horrible death, he is not able to grieve properly and instead goes mad when he is imprisoned in a hellage prison for billions of years. Ultimately, he must finally accept the inevitability of loss, and at the end of this story is able to make a fresh start.
    • Clara undergoes profound character development; not just due to her physical changes, or now being a solo adventurer, but she has clearly seen the madness that can come from a simple mistake, and allowing oneself to connect too deeply to something. She leaves the Doctor a wiser person for it.
  • Cobweb of Disuse: On the imprisoned monsters that have been "filed" in the Cloisters where no-one ever goes.
  • Confessional: What the real purpose of a Time Lord's Confession Dial is supposed to be.
    The Doctor: A confession dial is a ritual act of purification. It allows a dying Time Lord to face his demons and make his peace, before his mind is uploaded to the Matrix. It was never intended as a torture chamber for the living!
  • The Confidant: The Doctor and Clara have always been this to one another, but this becomes an explicit plot point when Clara chooses to give the Doctor a private message, something for his ears only — not even the audience's. Sadly, the follow-up mindwipe results in Clara losing the Doctor as her confidant, and whatever private discussion they had remains known to Clara, alone, although Clara suggests that the sad, romantic piece of music the Doctor plays in the diner could be a representation of that message (the production makes this more explicit by having the same melody playing when the view cuts away from the exchange in the Cloisters).
  • Continuity Nod:
    • Clara asks the Doctor to look her in the eye when she asked him how long it took him to get out of the confession dial. She's been shown to know how old someone is by their eyes, as she does with the War Doctor (comparing him to Eleven) in "The Day of the Doctor".
    • Somebody knocks four times. "It's always four knocks."
    • Missy bringing the Doctor and Clara together is mentioned again, with more emphasis made on why she did so in the first place: Perhaps she wanted to make him more like her, willing and happy to cause chaos, by getting him in a relationship that would encourage his worst tendencies.
    • Ashildr mentions that the Doctor doesn't like endings.
    • Prior to losing his memory, the Twelfth Doctor mentions that he hates pears, a sentiment shared by the Tenth Doctor. Both said it before they undertook procedures that would remove their memories as well. (Although it's more of a fan bonus since the part of the video where the Tenth Doctor said it was not actually shown in the episode, but was part of the filler for the video to be fast-forwarded.)
    • The Doctor remembers visiting the Nevada diner before, and eventually recalls that it was with Amy and Rory. But that was in Utah; this is a clue that the present diner isn't all it seems.
    • Another clue: Foxes' cover of "Don't Stop Me Now" from "Mummy on the Orient Express" is playing on the radio when the Doctor walks into the diner.
    • The Doctor's new screwdriver takes several cues from the Eighth Doctor's version, as well as the version he gives to River Song in the next story, which has their last meeting before her death.
    • The Doctor's story about the President's wife and stealing the moon is familiar to Clara because Missy had told her the same story.
    • The older TARDIS interior is an accurate recreation of the way the TARDIS looked like in the earliest episodes. The sound effect used for opening the door (not to mention the door opening inwards leading to a dark void going outside) is consistent with the classic era.
    • Although it is not referenced in dialogue, the entire concept of the Doctor meeting a woman who looks like Clara, leaving viewers uncertain for a time that it is Clara, is built upon the Series 7 story arc in which it was revealed there are countless doppelgangers of Clara spread throughout the Doctor's timeline. For much of the episode, it is left unclear whether the woman in the diner is one of them.
    • The Doctor says he's erased someone's memories before.
    • The presence of a chess set when the Doctor meets Ashildr recalls a similar set featured in a similar context in "The Curse of Fenric".
    • The Time Lords say that time will break if the Doctor takes Clara from a fixed death. The same scenario happened (complete with time actually breaking) when the Eighth Doctor saved Charley Pollard from a fixed death, leading to the events of "Neverland".
  • Continuity Snarl: The Doctor several times says that Gallifrey is hidden at the end of time, which is explicitly stated as 4.5 billion years into the future (coinciding with his time spent in the confession dial), with the final end of the universe happening afterwards. The 2006 episode "New Earth" takes place sometime after the year 5 billion and the 2007 episode "Utopia" establishes the end of the universe as happening around the year 100 trillion, both much later than 4.5 billion years from now.
  • Cross-Referenced Titles: With "Heaven Sent".
  • Cruel to Be Kind: Clara feels the idea of mindwiping her is cruel, yet the Doctor is only doing it in a desperate move to keep her safe from the Time Lords and being forced to return to Trap Street to die a horrible unjust death.
  • Dark Secret:
    • The Doctor's final confession, which is thought to involve the truth about the Hybrid, would seem to be this — but if there ever is that last confession to make, he doesn't reveal it.
    • Inverted with whatever Clara told the Doctor in the Cloisters. It is a secret that will be kept, since Clara is the only one who remembers what she said, but there's nothing to suggest darkness has anything to do with it.
  • Deadpan Snarker:
    • The Sisterhood of Karn are willing to tell the rulers of Gallifrey where to shove it.
    Ohila: I hear the Doctor has come home. One does love fireworks.
    • Ashildr/Me appears to have picked up some of these traits, especially in her reaction to the Doctor dismissing his actions regarding Clara as simply helping a friend (denying anything deeper exists).
  • Death Is Cheap: The Doctor says that death is Time Lord for "man flu".
  • Death Is the Only Option: Clara acknowledges this at the end of the episode, as she knows in order for the universe to survive, she must someday return to Trap Street and let the raven take her. But not today. Or tomorrow. Or next century, necessarily...
  • Desert Punk: The first leg of the Doctor's journey is in the Gallifreyan Dry Lands, in a deliberate Homage to The Western genre. Not coincidentally, the Earth-based scenes also take place in a desert.
  • Despair Event Horizon:
    • Steven Moffat explained to Doctor Who Magazine that this is what ensues when the Doctor — a man who spent one incarnation as a warrior rather than a healer and did things so grisly and cruel that later incarnations deliberately forgot about him — reaches this point. In the end, his love for Clara and the suffering he went through in the previous two episodes is too much to bear without losing sight of who he is and must be — thus losing his memories of her is the only thing that can fully lift the burden.
      [The Doctor] once said, "Good men don't need rules. Today's not the day to find out why I have so many." Well this is him saying, "Sod the rules." I like him doing that, because that tells you who he is the rest of the time. The rest of the time he holds back. Not this time. Episode 11 pushes the Doctor to the brink of madness, and Episode 12 is what happens next. If the Doctor has lost his moral compass, if he's being selfish, if you really, really hacked him off, if you really got him angry and gave him nothing to fight for... what would you end up with? That's the "hellbent" of the title. An angry, off-the-rails Doctor.
    • The Doctor officially crosses this line when he realizes there's nothing he can do to restart Clara's heartbeat and ends up shouting at her. He truly doesn't cross back over until he loses his memories, despite Clara and even Ashildr trying to yank him back.
  • Didn't Think This Through:
    • The Doctor's plan to rescue Clara initially goes off as intended: confront Rassilon and take control of the presidency, trick the Time Lords into thinking she has information about the Hybrid and have them extract her from the timeline at the very moment of her death, whereupon he will spirit her away to the Cloisters and steal a TARDIS so they can escape Gallifrey together. But the next steps are rather more problematic: Take the TARDIS to the end of all time, which hopefully will bring her fully back alive, then erase Clara's memories of him and return her to Earth to live out an ordinary life. There's no guarantee that the first part will work, and it turns out she doesn't want the second part. And he apparently has no means of fixing the Reality-Breaking Paradox he's knowingly created. Justified as the Doctor has been Driven to Madness and is not thinking rationally.
    • Clara's "reason you suck" speech to the General and Ohila accuses the Time Lords of this.
  • Diegetic Switch: Inverted. Murray Gold's "Clara?", Clara's theme song and leitmotif since the character joined the series in 2012, becomes part of the narrative when it's revealed that in-universe it is a melody composed by the Doctor that represents the now-forgotten, but important words Clara spoke to him in the Cloisters.
  • Dirty Coward:
    • Ohila is clearly not impressed when the Doctor first exiles Rassilon and the High Council and then steals a TARDIS again instead of actually facing his problems.
      Ohila: [disgusted] He's running away.
      The General: Where is he running to?
      Ohila: Same place he always does: Away. Just... away.
    • Clara's "The Reason You Suck" Speech to the Time Lords accuses them of being this, given that they're effectively hiding their whole world near the end of time to avoid accountability/punishment for being one side of the Last Great Time War that caused so much misery for others, including the Doctor. It doesn't help their case that in the present apparently no-one tried to free the Doctor from the dial before he went insane, either out of ignorance, cowardice, and/or possibly sadism.
  • Disappears into Light: From the Doctor's perspective, this happens with Clara when he passes out. It qualifies for the trope as the Doctor throughout Series 9 all but worshipped her, especially after her death.
  • Disproportionate Retribution: The General claims this of the Doctor over his choice to exile Rassilon, who has nowhere to go.
    The General: Isn't this going a little far?
    The Doctor: I've barely started.
  • Dissonant Serenity: Me at the death of the Universe, facing the Doctor with nowhere to run. According to invokedWord of God, this is because Me has been around for so long, she's long since surpassed the Doctor in knowledge and wisdom.
  • Doesn't Like Guns: Apparently the War Doctor was so known for this there was a saying about it.
  • Don't You Dare Pity Me!: Clara gives Ashildr a good-natured variant of this trope when Ashildr expresses sympathy for the fact Clara is still frozen in time and someday has to return to that trap street.
    Clara: ... My death is a fixed event. The universe depends on it happening.
    Ashildr: I'm sorry.
    Clara: Why? Why does everybody think I am so scared? We all face the raven in the end. That is the deal.
  • Double-Meaning Title: The Doctor goes through the hell of the confession dial and the Time Lords' literal Hell, because he's hell-bent on getting Clara back.
  • The Dreaded: The Doctor is so feared by the Time Lords that a heavily-armed gunship won't even cross a line he's drawn in the sand, eventually forcing Rassilon himself to fly out there instead.
  • Driving Question: Who is the Hybrid and why does the Doctor know, or is thought to know, so much about it? Is it because it's Ashildr/Me, whom he turned into a hybrid of human and Mire, or because it's him, in which case he's a hybrid of Time Lord and... what? Or is it the pairing of the Doctor and Clara?
  • Dude, Where's My Reward?: Invoked by the Doctor as justification for his actions as he prepares to flee Gallifrey with Clara in the second TARDIS. Considering how many times he's saved the universe, it could at least show some gratitude by allowing him to save Clara — especially considering that she helped repair the Great Intelligence's damage to his timeline, convinced his previous selves to save Gallifrey, and convinced the Time Lords to give him a new cycle of regenerations. However, as Ohila points out, the reward he wants (Clara back from the dead, which violates a fixed point in time) is a Tragic Dream, and trying to attain it anyway will at best just give Clara false hope and requires him to give up his principles.
  • Dying Declaration of Hate: Clara, by her own agreement, is "living" between her last two heartbeats. As such, her telling the Time Lords that no-one in the universe hates them more than she is technically an application of this trope, especially given that at that moment she has no idea whether she'll survive for much longer.
  • Earn Your Happy Ending: Played with for three characters.
    • Zig-zagged for Ashildr: She finally gets to fulfil her dream of traveling through time and space after billions, even trillions of years of unwanted immortality, watching the universe go by and ending up the last being in existence. Zig-zagged because this wouldn't have happened had she not also betrayed the man who believed in her the most, which helped set the stage for him being Driven to Madness and eventually escaping with his dead sweetheart to the end of existence, and she never apologizes to him or atones for what she's done. Thus, she's also a Karma Houdini with regards to her relationship with the Doctor.
    • Downplayed for Clara: It's comparatively bittersweet, but she finally gets to take a Doctorish role in her own TARDIS — for as long as she ever wants.
    • Subverted for the Doctor: His billions of years of suffering in the confession dial (and he says after seeing the harder-than-diamond wall that he always remembers all his other times through at this point) and willingness to forsake his own home world, people, and only other confidante (Ohila) to save Clara should earn him a happy ending many times over. The problem is that because he went insane in the process, his "happy" ending is a Tragic Dream that may well destroy the universe. He realizes he has to lose her and most of his memories of her. It's not a total downer because that allows him to be freed from his anguish at last, able to move on; moreover, Clara is able to continue living and enjoying life, for as long as she likes, albeit without him by her side.
  • Easily Forgiven:
    • While it will likely be a mystery for the ages whether the Doctor ever truly forgives Ashildr for what happened to him and Clara — though post-mind wipe it may no longer matter to him — Clara seems to have no problem forgiving Ashildr for her part in the plot that accidentally resulted in her death (or at least there's no discussion shown regarding this on screen) and effectively takes her on as a companion at the end.
    • Clara also instantly forgives the Doctor for wanting to wipe her memory; she also seems to get over his shooting of the General very quickly once she is reminded about regeneration, and there no indication of resentment towards the Doctor by Clara over his having left her in an almost-dead state once he's mind-wiped and thus unfit to return her to Gallifrey himself — she seems, in the end, happy to have the chance to go back the long way 'round.
  • Elopement: Teased. The strict definition of "elope" is when two people who love each other decide to run away in secret (marriage is not always involved). Knowing that the Time Lords are pursuing them in order to put Clara back in her timestream, Clara nonetheless directly asks the Doctor if he'd rather just fly (run) away somewhere with her instead — an invitation to elope in the strictest definition. It may well be just a tease, however, under the circumstances.
  • Emergency Transformation: The Doctor does this to Clara, taking her out of time, freezing her life processes as a result and rendering her functionally immortal.
  • The End of the World as We Know It: The biggest reason the Doctor has gone too far in saving Clara is that the universe will destroy itself if she doesn't return to her death on the trap street — though it's apparently not affected immediately. In fact, the universe seems fine as the episode ends, suggesting that she will get back there at some point; Clara intends to return to Gallifrey and her final death "the long way round" though.
  • Evil Costume Switch: Having become The Unfettered Tragic Hero, the Doctor wears a black overcoat for most of this story. Clara notices and says that the red velvet Crombie coat she last saw him in is more Doctor-ish; he tellingly replies "I can't be the Doctor all the time." At the end, repentant and reformed, upon returning to the TARDIS he finds a red velvet Crombie coat waiting for him and puts it on. Given that the Doctor is the only true antagonist in this episode, Evil Wears Black comes very close to being an actual trope here.
  • Exact Words: When Clara asks who's waiting outside the TARDIS, the Doctor replies, "Me." Rather than another version of himself, it turns out to be Me.
  • The Exile: As soon as the Doctor takes over Gallifrey, he exiles Rassilon and the High Council for their part in Clara's death, his torment in the confession dial, and the atrocities of the Time War.
  • Facial Dialogue:
    • Jenna Coleman delivers several outstanding examples of this during this episode, such as when Clara is told the Doctor was trapped for 4½ billion years, then her reaction to the Doctor's "I had a duty of care" and then, even more seriously, when the Doctor rants at Clara that he is answerable to no one - only to have that rebuffed by Clara without her saying a word, and the Doctor realizing, again without dialogue, that the one person he is answerable to is standing right in front of him.
    • If anyone can top Coleman in this episode, it's Peter Capaldi, who — diner wraparound scenes notwithstanding — carries the first act without uttering a word.
  • Fallen Hero: Reconstructed. The Doctor comes as close as he ever has to the invokedMoral Event Horizon as a direct result of being completely broken by the previous two episodes, but in the end Clara objecting to the mind wipe — which would probably leave no one capable of bringing him back to goodness — triggers a Heel Realization, repentance, and atonement.
  • False Reassurance:
    • This:
      Rassilon: What does he want? Revenge?
      Ohila: The Doctor does not blame Gallifrey for the horrors of the Time War.
      Rassilon: I should hope not.
      Ohila: He just blames you.
    • Also:
      The Doctor: We're safe in here.
      Clara: Why?
      The Doctor: They only attack if you make any attempt to leave.
      Clara: How long are we planning to stay?
      The Doctor: Or, actually, if you try to stay.
      Clara: You realise how well that conversation went, right?
      The Doctor: Starting to, yeah, a bit.
  • Fantastic Caste System: According to Rassilon, the Gallifreyans who live in the Dry Lands "don't matter". Naturally these are the people the Doctor identities with most — instead of the Time Lords who live in the Citadel. (A invokedDeleted Scene suggests that the Doctor is actually an aristocrat, given that his punishment for the High Council is making them work in the sewers; this in turn suggests he can't fully escape his caste.)
  • Five Stages of Grief: The Doctor is still mentally stuck cycling between Anger, Depression, and Denial over Clara's death, but then enters a very, very dangerous form of the Bargaining stage — bargaining with the universe, which he says "owes him" Clara, and therefore he's willing to do anything to undo what happened to her — much to Clara's horror and sadness. When he has his Heel Realization, he also realizes that he must move on to the final stage of Acceptance, even if it means losing key memories of her and thus forgetting why she meant so much to him to begin with. Clara, for her part, remains in the same acceptance stage she was in at the end of "Face the Raven", tempered by a bit of a Hope Spot that the Doctor's plan might have worked, though this only lasts until she realizes her pulse isn't coming back. She subsequently attempts to get the Doctor into the acceptance phase and gets barked at twice.
  • The Fog of Ages: Averted. In her previous two appearances, much is made of Ashildr's limited memory due to her brain being unable to store centuries of experiences. Here, despite being trillions of years old (although a number is not given "Utopia" established that the "end of the universe" is more than 100 trillion years into the future), Ashildr/Me is able to recall exact details about Clara's death in the 21st century and that the Doctor was going to arrive while in the midst of his flight from Gallifrey, and knows of the Hybrid prophecy. How she does so is a Riddle for the Ages, but the most likely answer is a very detailed and durable journal that she frequently re-reads.
  • Foregone Conclusion:
    • In conjunction with Trailers Always Spoil, by the time this episode aired there had already been trailers and other publicity related to the 2015 Christmas special, "The Husbands of River Song", indicating that a) the Doctor had to return to the side of right and b) Clara would not be appearing (barring a surprise cameo that didn't happen), meaning their reunion here was always to be temporary.
    • The series has spent the last decade hitting viewers over the head with the "fixed point in time" concept and the concept of paradoxes, including within Series 9 itself. There is no way the Doctor's plan to save Clara was going to end with her suddenly back to life and everything normal.
    • In-universe, as Clara herself points out, the very fact the universe still exists means she does, eventually, return to Trap Street to face her death.
  • Forgot About His Powers:
    • A literal rendition of the trope as Clara, despite having witnessed one in person and having become very familiar with the concept, appears to totally forget about regeneration when she freaks out after the Doctor shoots the General. (To be fair, it is possible she thought only the Doctor could do it, or only certain Time Lords and with her ears still ringing might not have heard the Doctor asking the General for his regeneration number.)
    • There ARE things in the Whoniverse that the Doctor could have used to save Clara safely, such as a Paradox Machine (it's right in the name!) or the Key to Time, but he apparently never considers using/getting them, even though he could have easily arranged for the former being built as Lord President.note 
  • Follow the Chaos: Ohila knows instinctively that the Doctor has gone to the Cloisters.
    Ohila: Where else would he run, except into the greatest danger on Gallifrey?
  • Foreshadowing:
    • The General's line "To hell with the High Council" in "The Day of the Doctor" foreshadows the Gallifreyan army's mutiny here.
    • When the camera pulls back to allow Clara and the Doctor privacy in the Cloisters, we hear Clara's theme music; later, it is revealed that the Doctor composes this tune as a subconscious representation of whatever it is she tells him.
  • For the Lulz: Ohila is on Gallifrey, just because it's fun to see Rassilon lose his temper and get screwed over.
  • Gender Bender: The General, shot by the Doctor, regenerates into a female body, which she regards as her "normal" gender; of her previous ten bodies, only the last had been male.
  • Gender Is No Object: When a rank-and-file soldier sees his superior officer, the General, regenerate from a white man into a black woman, all he does is change pronouns.
  • Generation Xerox: Clara finds herself running away from Gallifrey in a TARDIS with a faulty chameleon circuit with a young woman who is older than she looks as a companion — just like the Doctor did once upon a time.
  • Get Out!: The Doctor tells Rassilon to get off Gallifrey.
    The Doctor: Get off my planet.
  • A God Am I: Having defied the laws of time and space to rescue Clara from her death — though she still isn't fully alive — and piloted the TARDIS to the end of the universe, the Doctor rants "As of this moment, I am answerable to no one" when Clara begs him to reconsider his actions, given that he's created a Reality-Breaking Paradox. This confidence doesn't last long because he realizes that he is answerable to the young woman staring him down a few feet away.
  • Gone Horribly Right: Technically speaking, the Doctor's plan to save Clara is a success. She is removed from time just before her ordained death. She is able to escape from the Time Lords. And her existence/location is theoretically concealed from the Time Lords due to a memory wipe. Unfortunately this means Clara is left in a semi-undead state, on the run from the Time Lords, and with the Doctor being forced to lose most of his memories of her.
  • Greasy Spoon: The Nevada roadside diner the Doctor meets the "waitress" in, which is actually the chameleon circuit exterior of the second stolen TARDIS. It winds up permanently stuck in this state at the end of the episode, but Clara doesn't mind as she and Ashildr fly off to new adventures. Later in their timeline, the Eleventh Doctor and his first set of companions will visit this same "diner" in Utah in "The Impossible Astronaut"!
  • Half-Human Hybrid: The Doctor regards Ashildr/Me as this and claims she is the Hybrid. She counters that she is far more human than Mire... and wonders whether he is this trope, which marks the first time since the 1996 TV movie that this possibility is treated seriously. The Doctor's response is a case of The Unreveal. The All There in the Manual explanation that the Hybrid is the Doctor and Clara together might make this an Exact Words version of the trope if the Doctor is pureblood Gallifreyan.
  • Heel Realization: Clara standing up to the Doctor over his plan to mind wipe her finally breaks through his anguish and triggers this in him.
  • Hero Antagonist: For all intents and purposes, the Time Lords once Rassilon is out of the picture. Their only concern is to save Gallifrey from the Hybrid, and later on to prevent the Reality-Breaking Paradox that might be caused by Clara's survival. After Rassilon is dealt with, the closest thing this episode has to a villain is the Doctor himself, who even makes a villain-like Badass Boast as his Sanity Slippage reaches its zenith.
  • History Repeats:
    • The basic situation — trying to save a loved one from their fixed-point-in-time death, despite knowing it could destroy all creation — is the same as in "The Wedding of River Song". In that story, River was trying to save the Doctor; here, the Doctor is trying to save Clara. The main difference is that River's meddling causes a much more immediate threat, whereas the effects of the meddling with Clara will apparently never be felt unless she is somehow destroyed before she returns to the trap street.
    • This situation also reverses the roles the Doctor and Clara had in "Dark Water", the first half of the previous season's finale. Clara was willing to risk creation by saving Danny and the Doctor stopped her, from there forgiving her. Here the Doctor is willing to risk it all for Clara. The main difference is that the Doctor is able to get much further in his plan; no one is capable of stopping and (implicitly) forgiving him until he pulls her out of time and she realizes he's gone mad, whereupon she takes on the role he did in the previous story. As both characters were willing to risk all space-time out of their own pain, it lends further credence to the two of them together being the Hybrid.
    • The Doctor turned Ashildr into a functional immortal via the Mire medical kit without completely thinking through its possible consequences because he was overwhelmed by guilt and grief and driven by his duty to be a doctor who saves whomever he can if there's a chance to. Here he makes Clara functionally immortal by taking her out of time at the moment of her death, again due to his grief and guilt — but also out of selfishness since she already died, so now he's just playing God. Neither woman is fully happy with the results.
    • Donna ended up mind-wiped by the Doctor in "Journey's End" because she could not survive as a half-Time Lord. Initially, Clara looks to face the same fate, this time in hopes that she'll be safe from his enemies if she has no memories of him. Instead, the Doctor ends up mind-wiped and sees it as for the best because his grief, anguish, and rage are keeping him from being his best self. (Also counts as Laser-Guided Karma; see below.) A major difference is Donna's mindwipe was explicitly to save her life because of her brain not being able to handle its new form; Clara is not left in such dire straits.
    • The Doctor's attempt to save someone from death while endangering the time-space continuum, plus the idea that he is not just the survivor, but the winner of the Last Great Time War, already came up in "The Waters of Mars" — with negative consequences and character development involved for the Doctor. But this time he repents, accepts the loss of Clara and his memories, and returns to his best self. Eventually he spends twenty-four happy years with River Song thanks to the wisdom he gains. By comparison, Ten refused to accept his looming fate even after realizing he'd gone too far, and needed to go through the events of "The End of Time" to get back to his best self... and his atonement thus required him to regenerate.
  • Hope Is Scary: The Doctor asks "Since when is hope a bad thing?" as he and Clara flee Gallifrey. Ohila responds "Hope is a terrible thing on the scaffold." (That is to say, giving themselves hope that Clara can be saved from her fixed-point death without causing a much bigger disaster will only lead to more heartache for them both.)
  • Hope Spot: After Clara provides a distraction and gives the Time Lords and Ohila a "The Reason You Suck" Speech, the Doctor and she make a daring getaway in another stolen TARDIS, and both are elated as he brainstorms new escapades: "What do you say to lunch, followed by breakfast? Because we're time travelers, and that's how we roll. Then, cocktails with Moses!" But then Clara realizes her heart hasn't started to beat again, and both of them realize she's still not out of the time loop and fully alive. Since her death was a fixed point in time, the entire universe now risks destruction, if not right away — and if the Doctor has a plan to fix this paradox, he never reveals it. He does have a human-compatible neural blocker though. Ohila directly criticizes the Doctor for creating this unrealistic hope spot scenario with Clara.
    Ohila: All you're doing is giving her hope... Hope is a terrible thing on the scaffold.
  • How We Got Here: The episode opens at a diner in Nevada where Clara Oswald is working as a waitress. The Doctor, guitar and all, stops in and tells her a story about her. (Breaks the usual pattern of this trope by not including a "three hours earlier", etc. title card as the flashback begins.)
  • Hypocrite: Textbook example of the top-level of this trope. After spending years spouting off about "fixed points in time" and how they can never be changed, and after condemning Clara for attempting to undo the death of Danny Pink, here we see the Doctor doing exactly what he criticized others for doing — especially Clara. To be fair to the Doctor, he has been Driven to Madness, his confession dial ordeal and No Sympathy from anyone who might have been able to help him once he escaped fanning the flames of his grief and rage; other characters had no such excuse.
  • Hypocritical Humour:
    • When the General regenerates, the new General makes a quip about the previous one's ego. During her following screentime she actually comes off as the much haughtier of the two.
    • The Tenth Doctor treated his own regeneration as a tragedy: "Everything I am dies. Some new man goes sauntering away, and I'm dead." The Twelfth Doctor? He thinks that it's the Time Lords' "man flu". Of course, before this, the Eleventh Doctor saw regeneration as much less of a tragedy than his immediate predecessor: "We all change. When you think about it, we're all different people, all through our lives. And that's okay, that's good, you've gotta keep moving, so long as you remember all the people that you used to be..." It should be noted that when the Tenth Doctor raged against regeneration he was under the impression he only had one more to go, whereas the Eleventh Doctor knew he had another coming.
  • I Cannot Self-Terminate: The Dalek caught in the Matrix begs to be exterminated.
  • Idiot Ball:
    • Clara picks this up three times, though for understandable reasons in two cases. She appears to have momentarily forgotten about the concept of regeneration, but she may not have expected someone to get up from being shot as the one regeneration she actually witnessed was more or less someone succumbing to old age. Next, perhaps as an intentional lampshading of companion stereotypes Clara surprisingly doesn't appear to understand the Doctor's actually-very-simple-and-clear description of how the Matrix works until he dumbs it down for her. And she's forgiven for the third case since she just a few minutes earlier (from her perspective) was about to die — but given her demonstrated intelligence since day one, it's odd that Clara wouldn't figure out that a "human-compatible neural block" was clearly something involving the brain and something the Doctor intended to use on her, the only human around until she basically overhears him spelling it out for Me. Even if she never imagined it was designed to erase memories, if she'd put two and two together, she might have confronted the Doctor about it back more strongly on Gallifrey.
    • None of the Time Lords nor Ohila seem to even consider that the Doctor might be just a little bit upset over the former's treachery and the death of Clara as an indirect consequence of it — not even Ohila brings her up, much less offers him condolences — or worry that he might not be mentally stable after his recent experiences being tortured, so none of them see his Batman Gambit coming. While the script doesn't make it clear that the Time Lords are actually aware that Clara died as an indirect result of their actions, it does make clear that they're aware he was in the dial for a very long time. If anyone needed counseling, it was the Doctor.
  • The "I Love You" Stigma: In keeping with the ongoing theme, the phrase "I love you" is never uttered on screen by either the Doctor or Clara despite there being several occasions in this episode where it would have been appropriate. Instead, the Doctor, as usual, uses euphemisms such as "I had a duty of care" and Clara invites the Doctor to, in the strictest definition, elope with her rather than erase one of their memories. The private cloister conversation is another potential occasion, but as we will never likely find out what was said, this is left a mystery. For Clara not to say it herself (at least on screen) is consistent with the promise she gave Danny Pink in "Dark Water" that she'd never say it to anyone else; plus, as the whole point of the story is her becoming a Distaff Counterpart to the Doctor, her not saying "I love you" to a companion is in keeping with this.
  • Immortality: The nature of immortality is discussed several times by the Doctor and characters who are indeed immortal. Ohila is revealed to be immortal, while Ashildr/Me returns, here shown to have ultimately lived trillions of yearsnote . As a result of being time-locked, Clara Oswald is now also functionally immortal although - unlike the others - this state only exists until she returns to Trap Street.
  • Immortality Inducer: For Clara, this ends up being the extraction chamber. The Mire technology that rendered Ashildr immortal earlier in the season is also referenced.
  • In the End, You Are on Your Own: As in "Heaven Sent", the Doctor has no companion aiding him in this story. Alas, he already tends to go to more extreme measures when he's traveling alone, the events of the previous two episodes have proven again and again to him that Being Good Sucks, and they've induced a total Sanity Slippage. Even Clara, upon being brought back, initially can't work as his Morality Chain because saving her is the reason he's going to extremes. But the Doctor's Heel Realization when Clara objects to the mind wipe makes him realize that they can't keep traveling together. Finally, in the end, the Doctor is left on his own.
  • Internal Homage:
    • The scene of the Doctor's parting advice to Clara, and Clara lamenting their coming separation, is rather reminiscent of the Doctor's heartfelt goodbye with his granddaughter Susan, so many years ago. She became just as much of an apprentice to him as Susan once was, before they had to part ways. The homage gets better when you realise he delivered both speeches while in a grey-haired and somewhat curmudgeonly incarnation.
    First Doctor: During all the years I've been taking care of you, you in return have been taking care of me. You are still my grandchild and always will be. But now, you're a woman too. I want you to belong somewhere, to have roots of your own. [...] Just go forward in all your beliefs and prove to me that I am not mistaken in mine. Goodbye, Susan. Goodbye, my dear.
    Twelfth Doctor: Run like hell, because you always need to. Laugh at everything, because it's always funny. Never be cruel and never be cowardly. And if you ever are, always make amends. Never eat pears. They're too squishy and they always make your chin wet. That one's quite important. Write it down. [...] Smile for me. Go on. Clara Oswald... one last time.
    • The newer scene occurs on the same set of a 1963-style TARDIS interior that was originally rebuilt for the 2013 docudrama An Adventure in Space and Time. The docudrama included a scene that reconstructed the goodbye sequence between the first Doctor and Susan, so the scene in "Hell Bent" brings the homage full circle by invoking it in-universe.
    • A very subtle one. In "Dark Water", the Doctor forgives Clara for her extreme actions against him, undertaken in a vain hope of saving Danny from the grave, by basically indicating how much he cares for her. In this episode, the Doctor is one taking the extreme actions, in order to save Clara, up to threatening to erase her memory which forces her to interfere with the neuro-block in self-defence. Yet she immediately forgives him and offers to Take a Third Option (run away together and forget the whole mess) instead, though the latter is probably a sad joke since that option isn't actually workable.
  • Ironic Echo:
    • In the Cloister, Clara realises that the Doctor's story is about himself, and tells him that she'd recognize him anywhere. In the diner, after his memory of Clara is wiped, the Doctor says that the one thing he knows for sure about Clara is that he would recognize her anywhere. (What makes this Ironic rather than Meaningful is that he's saying so to Clara, having failed to recognize her.)
    • The Doctor has mentioned before that neither he nor the TARDIS are fond of immortals as companions. Clara has been fixed in time, making her immortal; Me (Ashildr) has been made immortal by the Doctor. They set off with a newly stolen TARDIS to travel on their own.
    • Since her first appearance as an echo, Clara's Arc Words have been, "Run, you clever boy, and remember me." It's what initially drove the Doctor to take the original Clara on as a companion, and led to her saving his life on multiple occasions. "Remember me" is of significance even after the fact as it was intended as Clara's goodbye after their very brief time together, only becoming a marker for the echoes to draw the Doctor to the original. Now it's back, for one last time, but with a change: "Run, you clever boy, and be a Doctor." The Doctor doesn't remember Clara, at least not her appearance, but like the echoes created from his timestream, she's still a part of him.
    • "Duty of care." When uttered by the Doctor earlier in the season, it comes off as being the Doctor expressing a level of overprotectiveness that begins to annoy Clara. When he utters it to her after spending 4.5 billion years fighting to rescue her, it becomes akin to a declaration of love and actually reverses Clara's opinion that she should have been left to die from that point forward.
    • "Deep Breath" ends with the newly regenerated Doctor begging Clara to "just see me" and recognize him as the same man she had travelled with earlier. "Hell Bent" ends with Clara, while not using the words "see me", clearly trying to make the Doctor realize that she's right in front of him, but she fails and he doesn't see her — not because he isn't trying, but because the mind wipe has made him incapable of seeing.
    • Way back in "School Reunion", the Doctor bemoans how he must always be forced to watch his companions grow old and die. "You can spend the rest of your life with me, but I can never spend the rest of my life with you," he says, calling it "The Curse of the Time Lords." After her extraction, Clara is no longer aging and is functionally immortal, and very likely indestructible, to boot. She is the first companion who could, indeed, outlive the Doctor without him having to worry about her safety or even growing old — and she expresses a willingness to just keep travelling with the Doctor, right up to the end. But it's not meant to be.
    • The Doctor's potentially universe-destroying gambit to save Clara involves exactly the same paradox he condemned her for attempting with saving Danny Pink in "Dark Water". If he were able to permanently bring Clara back to life, that means he'd never have seen her die on Trap Street and would never have had to retrieve her on Gallifrey.
    • In "Before the Flood" the Doctor talks about the impossibility of changing events that have happened, preventing a loved one from dying, and the dangers of even attempting it — though in that episode he does briefly say to hell with the rules and attempts to do that. In "Hell Bent," he tries again, and comes close to doing everything he said in "Before the Flood" that he could not/should not do.
    • The Doctor reminds Me of his threat that the entire universe would become a very small place when the Doctor is angry with her. Given that the Universe is now restricted to the reality bubble around Me, this is literally true.
  • Irony: The Doctor is certain that if he sees Clara again, he'll remember her. Unknown to him he's been talking to her in the diner the whole time.
  • It's All About Me:
    • Although his efforts to save Clara are beyond selfless, the Doctor allows himself one fully selfish moment when Ohila challenges him about it:
    The Doctor: After all this time, after everything I've done, don't you think the universe owes me this?
    • Later, as the memory wipe starts kicking in, the Doctor takes full responsibility for everything and accepts the wipe as his punishment.
  • It's Personal:
    • The sorest spot for the Doctor in the ordeal that has unfolded over the previous two episodes is the death of his companion Clara.
    • Clara directs all her anger at the Time Lords for what they forced the Doctor to do to himself, after she learns that he subjected himself to all of it for her.
  • I've Come Too Far: Invoked in two different contexts. First, after spending 4.5 billion years on his gambit to save her, the Doctor won't let anyone — not the Time Lords, not Ohila, not Ashildr, not even Clara herself — reason him out of trying to save Clara. But, ultimately, he realizes that he has gone too far, almost utters the trope by name, and atones by allowing most of his memories of Clara (arguably the ones that really meant anything to him in terms of their relationship) to be erased.
  • I Want My Beloved to Be Happy: Essentially the rationale for the Doctor in wanting to wipe Clara's memory so that she can go on living but without the baggage of being tied to the Doctor and having a death sentence over her head. The problem is he doesn't consider if this is what will actually make her happy. Parallel to this, the Doctor allowing Clara to choose and then accepting the fact that it's his memories that will be lost, but knowing she will live on.
  • Jerkass Has a Point:
    • Ohila's logic regarding the Doctor trying to prevent/delay Clara's death can't be faulted:
    The Doctor: Since when is hope a bad thing?
    Ohila: Hope is a terrible thing on the scaffold.
    • Ashildr also makes perfect sense when she tries to tell the Doctor that Clara should have been allowed to die as history recorded she did, including telling the Doctor flat out how selfish he is for threatening all of time and space because he missed someone.
  • Juggling Loaded Guns: The Doctor gets rather reckless with the sidearm in the extraction chamber, wildly waving it around at the Time Lords - twice, however, he has the gun pointed directly at Clara, who flinches. The risks involved are underscored by the General pointing out that the pistol has no stun setting (although those familiar with Who mythology can interpolate, the episode never establishes for certain that the now-immortal Clara is actually indestructible, so had she been shot it might have caused major problems).
  • Jumping Off the Slippery Slope: The Doctor, having struggled all season with how much he can and can't do to save others without negatively affecting them and the space-time continuum, jumps off the slope by deciding to risk said continuum just to undo the death of Clara, with no plan to fix whatever damage he might do because he's sure he won't do any damage. Moreover, he intends to mind wipe Clara so she'll forget him. He justifies all this via his "duty of care" and Dude, Where's My Reward? To be fair to him, however, he is now The Mentally Disturbed thanks to what others did to him...and he is eventually made to see reason.
  • Just Friends: The Doctor attempts to pass off his relationship with Clara as this (virtually uttering the trope name in the process). Ashildr doesn't buy it for a second.
  • Karma Houdini:
    • Ashildr/Me goes unpunished for her participation in the plot that not only trapped the Doctor and left him helpless in a torture chamber but also accidentally led to Clara's death. She is Easily Forgiven by Clara herself, but what about his grievances? If he ever forgives her, it's unseen by the audience — though he allows her to accompany him into the TARDIS rather than just letting her die at the end of time. That said, she didn't ask to be made immortal by the Doctor (she couldn't ask anything, in fact, when he made the choice) and she did take The Slow Path, so she did earn the chance to finally see the universe for bearing up under it all.
    • Averted with the Doctor. Whether he'll ever be formally punished for such actions as shooting the General, stealing the second TARDIS, etc. remains to be seen; it might help his case that he was in the throes of a Sanity Slippage, in the wake of a Trauma Conga Line that the Time Lords had a direct hand in. But it can't be argued that he isn't punished for going too far in his effort to save Clara, having lost her, his memories of her, and the chance to freely return to Gallifrey without risking being clapped in irons or worse. Since having him mend fences with the Time Lords offscreen would have fans crying foul, he is a fugitive from his home world until further notice.
  • Kick the Morality Pet: The Doctor taking Clara away from her death was upsetting enough for her, but when she learns that he intends to wipe her memories she insists she be allowed to keep them. This is what finally breaks through the Doctor's anguish and begins his return to his right mind; he realizes that in trying to save someone he loves he is only hurting her instead. (Of course, all this could have been avoided if Clara, his Morality Chain, hadn't been killed in the first place...)
  • Kissing Discretion Shot: A dialogue-only (we assume) variation of this. After realizing the Doctor's devotion to her and learning he'd spent billions and billions of years trying to save her, Clara tells the Doctor there is something she must say, something "people like us" must say to each other. As she begins to speak the camera pans high above the city as the romantic-sounding Clara's Theme is heard. We then return to the Cloisters after Clara has said her piece; what she says and does while we're taking our aerial tour is left unrevealed.
  • Kubrick Stare: The Doctor does this when the military vessel hovers over the barn.
  • Kudzu Plot: Some of the Story Arc's Driving Questions are not answered, the big one being the definitive identity of the Hybrid (with no less than four plausible options given) — though Steven Moffat did reveal it was the Doctor and Clara together months after the episode aired. Even then, the ending leaves a bunch of threads that are Riddles for the Ages and/or Sequel Hooks (see below) and also leaves at least two loose ends for Series 9 in general: the whereabouts of Missy, the Daleks, and Davros post-"The Witch's Familiar" (given that all of them have Joker Immunity), and the identity of the Minister of War — an enemy the Doctor has not yet fought, but will — mentioned in passing in "Before the Flood".
  • Laser-Guided Amnesia: In an attempt to make Clara's life stick, the Doctor plans to remove all memories of him from her. Then Clara, upon finding that out, messes with the memory-wiping device, and after a game of Russian amnesia roulette, the Doctor loses all memories of her. He sees his fate as a just punishment and atonement for going as far as he did — not even justifying his extreme actions by bringing up his billions of years of suffering in the previous episode. The trope becomes almost literal when we later learn that the Doctor hasn't lost all of his memories of Clara; for example, he still remembers adventures they had together. Instead, he has lost only specific memories - mainly dealing with Clara's personality, plus, while he is able to remember virtually everything that happened on Gallifrey, Clara's cloister conversation has been excised from his memory.
  • Laser-Guided Karma:
    • In "Journey's End" the Doctor made his best friend and companion, Donna, completely forget he exists and that they were ever friends, to save her sanity and the universe. This time around, it is the Doctor who is made to forget his best friend, to save his sanity and the universe.
    • The Doctor breaks his own rules, by acting both cruelly (shooting the General and forcing Clara into becoming a person not quite dead yet not quite alive, either) and cowardly (by refusing to accept Clara's death and trying to cheat fate by erasing her memories). The price he pays: most of his memories of the woman he did this for in the first place.
    • Clara spent much of her time with the Doctor aspiring to be like him, to the extent that she became overconfident and it will (eventually) cost her her life. In the meantime, however, she gets her wish to become, effectively, a Doctor. Whether Be Careful What You Wish For applies remains to be seen.
  • The Last Man Heard a Knock...: Four of them, actually.
  • Leaning on the Fourth Wall:
    • "Ooh, you love a cliffhanger, don't you?"
    • Critics of Clara becoming the focus of the series have referred to the show as "Clara Who" for years now. They already got a nod when she introduced herself as the Doctor and got the first billing in "Death in Heaven". This time, Clara becoming like the Doctor is taken to logical extreme and when the Doctor hears her name, he says "Clara Who?"note 
    • Me criticizes the Doctor for, effectively, spoiling Clara's death by pulling her out of time, predicting - and answering - the expected criticisms (which did come) from some fans and critics that this episode undid the impact of Clara's death in "Face the Raven". Doubles as Moffat acknowledging criticisms of his writing style for the series in which major characters are rarely truly Killed Off for Real.
    • The audience is forced to give Clara and the Doctor privacy for their private moment in the Cloisters by the camera pulling away. Afterwards Ohila asks Clara what she said to the Doctor and Clara says she is not going to tell her or ANYBODY ELSE while looking straight at the camera.
    • The portrait of Clara on the TARDIS door is based upon a publicity headshot of Jenna Coleman that originated from a 2013 Guardian article about the actress that she subsequently used for promoting convention appearances. (Therefore the portrait qualifies for the trope because it is not something that was created in-character.)
  • Leitmotif:
    • The Ninth Doctor's theme from series 1 of the revival makes a surprise return, after not being heard since series 2 in its original format or series 4 in its adapted form as the Tenth Doctor's theme.
    • Clara's theme, introduced back in 2012, goes from a lovely piece of background music to a full-out part of the narrative when it's revealed the Doctor wrote it after losing Clara as a subconscious representation of her private message to him in the Cloisters.
  • Living on Borrowed Time: Clara is time-looped at a point just prior to her death, and must go and face it eventually, but can postpone that final appointment for a while and go exploring.
  • Loophole Abuse: How Clara effectively saves herself. She still has to go and die eventually, but she is for all intents and purposes immortal until she chooses to do so.
  • The Lost Lenore: A continuation of this trope from "Heaven Sent" as Clara continues to be this for the Doctor after he returns to Gallifrey. Unlike most other "Lost Lenores", the Doctor is able to get his back, if only temporarily but getting her back doesn't result in a happy ending for the hero. After erasing his memory of her, the Doctor does tell Waitress!Clara that he's trying to find her, suggesting that she remains a Lost Lenore to him, but without key memories to push him forward, the drive isn't as strong as it was before.
  • Love Confession. Although the nature of the Doctor's love for Clara is a matter of debate, and according to invokedWord of Saint Paul it was a romantic and protective love, there is no ambiguity that the one-two punch of "I had to find a way to save you" and "I had a duty of care" functions as this.
  • Love Makes You Crazy: The Doctor's insanity reaches its breaking point when he rants at Clara about being accountable to no one as his frustration at being unable to bring her back to life boils over.
  • Love Makes You Dumb: The Doctor fails Time Travel 101 repeatedly in order to try and save Clara.
  • Love Makes You Evil: Warped by his horrific experiences in the previous two episodes, the Doctor is desperate to avenge and save his beloved Clara. This threatens to have catastrophic consequences for all time and space, which he doesn't seem particularly concerned about (he does tend to come up with solutions on the fly), and he disregards her own desires. Finally he decides to mind wipe her of memories of him and return her to Earth so she'll be safe from his enemies — Clara finds out, confronts him, and he realizes how selfish his grief and rage made him. So in the end...
  • Love Redeems: Clara is painfully aware that she can't act as a traditional Morality Chain to the Doctor this time around, and has to convince him about the wrongness of his actions in a different manner. It takes a lot of begging, friendly appeals and even some minor threats, but ultimately, she manages to change his mind and he accepts the inevitability of them parting ways. Though she grew to be more like him the longer their relationship lasted, it is in their final hours together that she once again acts as The Heart of their TARDIS team. She mellows him out from an increasingly irrational, narrow-minded state by making him realise he's hurting her and their love. In the end, the Doctor is still sensible enough to understand he should respect Clara's wishes about her fate and memories, and admits he's just prolonging the inevitable and has gone too far with breaking his own rules. Moments before pushing the button, Clara rewards this change by suggesting she and the Doctor just fly away and forget the whole mess, but they ultimately decide to go through with it.
  • Love Transcends Spacetime: The plot of this episode — in conjunction with "Heaven Sent" — is an uber-example of this trope, as the Doctor's attempt to save Clara literally spans virtually the entirety of the universe's existence.
  • Magical Security Cam: Both treated straight and averted. When Ohila demands the Doctor "come out here and face me boy" her face is seen on the TARDIS monitor but instead of looking straight at the camera, she is looking off to the side - just as she is in the camera close-up a moment earlier. However, when Clara later uses the TARDIS to eavesdrop on the Doctor and Me, the view she gets is an angle from the side — from where the TARDIS is parked.
  • Mathematician's Answer:
    • The Sisterhood of Karn are a source of a few of these.
    Rassilon: What's his plan?
    Ohila: I think he's finishing his soup.
    • Ashildr.
    The Doctor: How are you sustaining it, by the way?
    Ashildr: Brilliantly.
    • Clara does this when the Doctor asks her what she did with the neuroblock and she replies "I reversed the polarity", considering that in "The Girl Who Died" the Doctor tells Clara that the statement is actually meaningless.
  • Meaningful Echo:
    • At the end, in her own TARDIS and traveling with Ashildr, Clara mentions that they'll go back to Gallifrey — the long way around.
    • "Run, you clever boy, and remember me," is brought back, but with the last part changed to "be a Doctor." Each time the phrase was uttered in its original form, it was Clara calling the Doctor to (the original) her, with the original's (chronologically) first utterance also intended as a final remark after an initially brief time together. But now the Doctor doesn't remember Clara, and her final remark is to remind him to do something more important.
  • Meaningful Name
    Me: Even the other immortals are gone. It's just me.
    The Doctor: The one and only Me. Finally, you earn the title, sitting here in a reality bubble at the end of Time itself.
  • Memetic Badass: In-universe, the Doctor (at least his War incarnation) is this to Gallifreyans in general.
    Soldier: The first thing you notice about the Doctor of War is that he's unarmed. For many it's also the last.
  • The Mentally Disturbed: The Doctor is commonly referred to as "mad", i.e. the "madman with a box". Thanks to the horrors he's suffered in the previous two episodes, he's now near-insane; he knows what he's risking and that he's going too far, but he's sure he can defy Time and Space themselves and save Clara without blowing everything up. Alas, everyone on Gallifrey realizes this too late, There Are No Therapists, and the only person who can get through to him is the one he brings back from the grave. Undergoing Mind Rape might be the best thing that could happen to him under the circumstances — his grief, anguish, and rage over losing Clara would keep him from ever being his best self again otherwise.
  • Messianic Archetype: Played with. Over the course of this storyline, the Doctor is betrayed by Ashildr, whom he brought back from the dead in an act driven partially by grief and compassion, and the Time Lords, whose world he saved rather than destroyed in ending the brutal Time War that they began. He loses someone he loves dearly, who orders him not to give up his principles before she dies even though she knows he will have to suffer while no one else will, and is imprisoned in a torture chamber with no one to help him. No one tries to help the greatest hero the universe has ever known in his darkest hour; he is forsaken by all. This drives him to madness, and his usual compassionate, forgiving nature is twisted into a hunger for vengeance and succor. He chooses to live a cycle of death and "rebirth" for billions of years to escape his dial. While he shows some mercy to Rassilon and the High Council and doesn't leave Ashildr to die alone at the end of the universe, he becomes The Unfettered to save Clara and heal his hearts, risking the safety of the entire universe — believing that in the wake of both his suffering and all he's done for it that he is owed this. In the end, he is convinced to repent and in the name of returning to his noblest, most selfless self accepts that he must give up Clara and even his memories of her, and ends the episode alone (unless one counts his TARDIS), off to fight the good fight once more to protect a universe that will never reward him as he deserves, or even make up for his suffering in this Story Arc alone.
  • Military Coup: Because of his actions during the Time War, the Time Lord military sides with the Doctor over Rassilon, allowing him to take over as President without a fight. (One wonders how long it will take for him to be deposed in absentia this time.)
  • Mind Rape: The Doctor intends to do this to Clara to remove her memories of him, but she won't stand for it and tampers with the device that will do it. In the end he is on the receiving end of this trope, and it's very painful for him in more ways than one.
  • Mood Whiplash: On the heels of the Bittersweet Ending comes the "Next Time" trailer for the much Lighter and Softer Christmas Episode "The Husbands of River Song", which aired less than three weeks later.
  • Mook–Face Turn: The Doctor accomplishes this indirectly with the Lord President's personal Guard, by facing down Rassilon in such a way that the bitter old tyrant is exposed for the undeserving has-been he's become.
  • Morality Chain Beyond the Grave: Clara functions as this during the first half of the episode. Although the Doctor is seen taking a form of revenge against the Time Lords, the script makes it clear that it is, in part, related to Rassilon's role in the Time War and imprisoning the Doctor in the confession dial and not specifically the death of Clara, especially as it's revealed the Doctor has just been playing a gambit to bring back Clara all along - and that, in his unfettered state, she is not actually dead. Ultimately, no one is hurt — even the General, who he shoots, regenerates and appears afterwards to be of the opinion the Doctor did her a favour in helping her slough off an unwanted male body. Even Me is saved from her potential final ending. The only real victim in all of this ends up being the Doctor himself.
  • Moral Myopia: The Doctor has condemned many villains and even those near and dear to him for risking time and space simply for their own ends, no matter how sympathetic their situations are — think of Rose risking paradox to try to save her father, River Song creating an alternate timeline to try and save him, the Fisher King turning innocents into ghosts, Ashildr being willing to kill to activate a portal to escape Earth, and, most directly, Clara Oswald trying to force the Doctor to undo Danny's death. But now in the wake of loss, betrayal, torture, and (effectively) the entire universe failing to be there for him in his own time of need, the Doctor has been brought to the same point as they — he now sees destroying space and time as merely an acceptable risk to take if it will allow his broken hearts to heal.
  • Motifs:
    • The running Series 9 motif of the dead returning to life / not truly being dead reaches its conclusion, with the whole point of this episode being the Doctor's actions in "rescuing" Clara from the second before her inevitable, pre-existing death.
    • Characters remembering and/or forgetting things is crucial to every story in Series 9 save for "Sleep No More". "The Magician's Apprentice" hinges on Davros remembering he met the Twelfth Doctor. The Doctor wipes the minds of Clara and the affected survivors at the undersea base to get rid of the Fisher King's "message in a bottle" in "Before the Flood". The Doctor has his "Eureka!" Moment in "The Girl Who Died" when he remembers where his face originated. Ashildr/Me struggles with forgetting her past upon becoming a functional immortal. The Doctor wipes the minds of Kate and the Zygon henchmen in the denouement of "The Zygon Inversion". Rigsy was dosed with Retcon to forget being lured to the trap street in "Face the Raven". In "Heaven Sent", the Doctor always recalls the hideous cycle of the confession dial he's been living and dying through once he reaches that wall. Finally, in this episode the Doctor ends up mind wiped of his most emotional, personal memories of Clara Oswald.
  • Must Make Amends: The Doctor believes It's All My Fault that Clara died — because she became too much like him — and thus believes that saving her life, wiping her memories of him, and returning her to Earth to live out a nice SAFE life will serve as a way to make amends. However, Asdhilr notes that, no matter what influence the Doctor had upon her, Clara's choice to make what turned out to be a Senseless Sacrifice was hers, and he should not feel responsible for it nor try to change it. Clara telling him that she does not want to be mind wiped triggers the Doctor's Heel Realization and makes him realize that it is not her death he must make amends for, but his actions in trying to undo it. He decides not to mind wipe Clara outright, but while they could run off as she suggests (which would make both of them happy but leave the universe at risk) he knows they can't keep traveling together and one of them will have to lose their memories of the other. He winds up being the one mind-wiped, and though he retains memories of their adventures together, including most of the events on Gallifrey (and says he's managed to piece together information as well), and the fact he is able to recall the events on Gallifrey, he knows why he has had to wipe the personal memories of Clara, he nonetheless ends the story with less than he had at the beginning. Yet he sees his unhappy fate as a way of atoning for what he did. As he tells Clara as he succumbs to the wipe, "Never be cruel and never be cowardly. And if you ever are, always make amends."
  • My Art, My Memory: The Doctor composes a piece of music he titles "Clara" that represents his lost memories of her.
  • My God, What Have I Done?:
    • Clara objecting to the mind wipe finally breaks through the Doctor's anguish-driven mindset and causes him to realize he and she can't keep traveling together. Prior to this, he admits to Ashildr he's gone too far in saving her, but thinks it's still for the best. Clara has a similar reaction when they activate the device together — her tampering with it was just to protect herself; she didn't think it would end up doing him harm by wiping his mind.
    • Clara's thunderstruck reaction to the Doctor revealing why he spent 4.5 billion years in the confession deal is confirmed in the published script to be her reacting to the realization that he did it all for her. He wouldn't have been so driven if she didn't have a fatal lapse in judgement and moment of hubris back on the trap street. Also, she told him "Heal yourself" by way of advising him how to handle his grief and rage. In a dark way, he took her advice, for the Hybrid "will burn a billion billion hearts to heal his own."
  • Mythology Gag:
    • Running away with the President's daughter was originally going to be part of the Shalka Doctor's backstory.
    • The Twelfth Doctor mentioning that he hates pears is a sentiment shared not only by the Tenth Doctor, but also by the Seventh Doctor in the Doctor Who New Adventures novel Human Nature, upon which the Tenth Doctor story was based.
    • When the Doctor is facing the firing squad, a Wild West version of the Ninth and Tenth Doctor's theme briefly plays.
    • When the Doctor collapses after being hit by the memory wipe, the camera shots are identical to the shots of the First Doctor collapsing before regenerating in "The Tenth Planet".
  • Necromantic: The Doctor! Too bad that he can't bring Clara completely back to life, that it might destroy the universe, and that she isn't thrilled by the prospect of revival, having long ago accepted her fate. The Doctor comes very close to becoming a villain in his desperation to save her.
  • Never My Fault: When the Doctor blames Ashildr for Clara's death, Ashildr insists that neither she nor he are responsible, and that it was Clara's own choices that led her there. The Doctor bluntly tells her to go to Hell, which, given they're at the end of the universe, will happen in about five minutes.
  • Never Say Goodbye: The Doctor may not be dying, but their love is going to disappear with the memory wipe; this leads Clara to try and stop the Doctor from saying goodbye as he collapses.
  • Never Trust a Trailer:
    • The prominence of a regeneration in the trailer makes it look like a major character such as Clara is regenerating; turns out it is just the General.
    • In addition, the regeneration was made to look forced, as happened to the Second Doctor. The General regenerates because the Doctor shot him/her.
  • No Good Deed Goes Unpunished: The Time Lords and all Gallifreyans owe their lives to the Doctor's efforts to live up to his name and end the Last Great Time War in a way that saved rather than destroyed them. Despite this, the Time Lords (Rassilon in particular) are the Big Bad of the first stretch of this story, responsible both directly and indirectly for all the misery that's befallen the Doctor since "Face the Raven". However, most of the Time Lords are actually grateful to and respectful of him, which is how he is saved from being Shot at Dawn.
  • No Name Given:
    • All the Gallifreyan characters are credited in this way: "The General", "The Woman" and, of course, "The Doctor". Even Rassilon, who does announce his name, is only credited as "The President".note 
    • In the diner, neither Clara nor the Doctor identify themselves to each other by a name or even an alias.
  • No Romantic Resolution: The closest we get is Clara's unknown words to the Doctor in the Cloisters. Shippers hoping for a Big Damn Kiss or even a hugnote  are left disappointed, as per custom. Worse, now that he doesn't remember why he was willing to go so far for her, having lost crucial memories of their relationship (such as said Cloister conversation) and the ability to recognize her, this plot thread can't be picked up again unless he recovers said memories...and given that Donna Noble was never able to recover hers, the outlook is not good for that happening (that said, it should be stressed that Donna will die if she ever regains her memories; no such danger actually exists for the Doctor). However, Clara's feelings for the Doctor remain intact.
  • No Sympathy:
    • Why the Time Lords, the Sisterhood of Karn, and Ashildr's What the Hell, Hero? speeches and The Reason You Suck Speeches don't work on the Doctor is because of a lack of sympathy. All of them are functionally immortal and detached from the deep emotions the Doctor is capable of feeling, and none of them comprehend — much less care — how much he's suffered in the previous two episodes. As a result, they don't see his Batman Gambit coming, and from there none of them offer him any kind of help (i.e. counseling, a new companion, some kind of reward, a way to save Clara that won't undo time...) or suggest alternative ways to handle his grief. Moreover, the Time Lords and Ashildr had hands in his suffering to begin with (and Ohila did have the Doctor's confession dial for a while — did she have anything to do with what it became?). Only Ashildr has any understanding of the Doctor's tender bond with the all-too-mortal Clara and his Chronic Hero Syndrome, having experienced both firsthand, and she tells him her death wasn't his fault. Even then she can't see why he doesn't just accept it and effectively mocks his grief and the extremes he's let it drive him to. To be fair to the Time Lords and Sisterhood, once they realize what he's trying to do stopping him must needs be their first priority. After he isn't endangering all of space-time then they could sit down and talk about their feelings...or maybe not, given that the Doctor doesn't just go back to Gallifrey at the end despite now being capable of doing so.
    • Unexpectedly, the General and Ohila avert this with Clara, giving her space as she demands they stay back so she can talk to the Doctor, and Ohila looks sympathetic towards Clara when she sees the impact of "four-and-a-half billion years" on the human.
  • No Sympathy for Grudgeholders: Ohila puts down the Doctor for choosing not to forgive and forget what Rassilon and the High Council did in both the Last Great Time War and specifically to him in this Story Arc, even though there is no indication given that he or the council members would be willing to apologize and atone for their monstrous deeds. If anything, the Doctor's letting these monsters off easy by exiling them.
  • Not Afraid of You Anymore: The Time Lords no longer fear the wrath of Rassilon; bonus points for the General actually standing in front of Rassilon's gauntlet and forcing it down like it's nothing.
  • Nothing Is the Same Anymore:
    • The Doctor's return to Gallifrey and confrontation with the Time Lords ends an arc that began in the 50th anniversary special "The Day of the Doctor" when all of his incarnations saved rather than destroyed the planet. In a sense, since this story marks the first time the Doctor has been on Gallifrey since the Last Great Time War, it completes an arc stretching all the way back to Series 1. As it ends, having cashed in his reputation and settled his scores from the Last Great Time War and Trenzalore, abandoned his post as Lord President, and committed crimes that have put him on the run, he's now just another self-exiled renegade of Gallifrey — just as he was at the very beginning of the series.
    • As far as Character Development goes, the Doctor goes through hell in this and the previous two episodes, starting with Clara's death. This episode is the culmination of his losing sight of his true role as the greatest healer in the universe to his own personal grief and self-pity, and of he and Clara becoming too close. At last, they are parted and he loses his memories of her — though not of their adventures — as he realizes how far he's gone astray. Sadder, wiser, but no longer pining for a lost companion (an issue that has frequently plagued him in the revival series; this episode clearly indicates that the Doctor remembers Clara in the broad strokes, but has forgotten that he was in love with her) he can return to just saving whomever he can and not letting his emotions get the better of his judgment, find a new companion(s) who won't be/become too similar to him for their own good... It's as fresh a start as a Doctor can get. He even gets a new sonic screwdriver.
    • Clara's life is changed forever. Although she has won a temporary reprieve from death, her old life is over. She can never go back to her school, or her family, and she is (for now, at least) parted from the Doctor. She also no longer has a heartbeat and is functionally immortal. Probably not what she was expected to happened when she woke up that morning, considering that from her perspective all of the events from escaping into the TARDIS at the start of "Face the Raven" through to the Doctor collapsing from the mindwipe take place over the course of only about six or seven hours, if that.
    • Ashildr/Me undergoes a fundamental change as she is also given a reprieve from death, and gets to fulfil her wish of travelling with a Doctor-like companion.
    • On a personal level, should Clara and the Doctor ever reunite (notwithstanding memory wipe issues), his sacrifice for her has undoubtedly changed the nature of their relationship — romantic, platonic or otherwise — forever. Add to that the All There in the Manual reveal that they were/are the Hybrid, and there's no way their relationship can go back to what it was before.
    • Averted with the Doctor and Missy relationship. They were friendly enemies at the top of the season, but at the end of it, he has reason to believe she intended to ruin him by pairing him up with Clara Oswald, which almost worked if that indeed was the case. One would think he'd have a serious grudge against her going forward, but even though the Series 10 Story Arc involves the Doctor maintaining Missy's imprisonment in the Vault for decades on end after he decides not to execute her, and trying to reform her, the issue of Clara's relationship to both of them is never brought up. Even accounting for his Laser-Guided Amnesia, this is surprising.
  • The Nth Doctor:
    • The Lord President turns out to be, by his own account, another incarnation of Rassilon.
    • The Doctor shoots the unarmed General, but assures Clara that being killed is the Time Lord "man-flu". Sure enough, the General stands up again moments later in a new body; good as new.
    • Averted with Ohila. Ever since the Sisterhood of Karn was introduced in the 1970s it has been debated as to whether they are capable of regeneration. This episode confirms for the first time that Ohila, at least, is actually an immortal.
  • Time Skip: Clara says "these have been the best years of my life", indicating that several years (for her) have passed since she met 11. For Twelve, of course, we have four and a half-billion years!
  • Omniscient Morality Licence: The Twelfth Doctor knows at hearts that he doesn't have this, but having been Driven to Madness... He effectively claims Gallifrey as his planet, exiles old Rassilon and his cronies to wherever, pulls a Batman Gambit on the remaining Time Lords, shoots the General and forces him/her to regenerate just to create a diversion, alienates his peers and Ohila, and defies Clara's wishes that he simply "heal himself" and move on from her death rather than try to save her. But he's sure it will be all right; he'll figure out how to bring her fully back to life and the universe certainly won't be destroyed just because he violated a fixed point in time, and when the former doesn't look likely at least he'll make sure she's safe from his enemies by mind-wiping her whether she wants it or not... but she calls him out on the last point and he has a Heel Realization, thus subverting the trope.
  • Only Friend: Clara to the Doctor. Although long established as a true companion, in this episode — much as her memory had been in the previous one — Clara is literally the only person we see who is totally on the Doctor's side once he goes rogue (except for objecting to his plans for the mind wipe). Prior to doing so, the General and Ohila are unambiguously his allies, but he alienates them once he rescues Clara.
  • Only Mostly Dead: Clara has no pulse, she only breathes out of habit, and her next heartbeat will be her last, but until that last heartbeat comes, she's not exactly all-the-way dead. She has all the same feelings and emotions as before, and despite what the Doctor tells her, clearly she still has some bodily functions still active: she can cry to the extent that she gets the sniffles three times, appears to be able to ingest liquids, and her complexion appears healthy.
  • Only Smart People May Pass: Apparently if you find the secret way out of the Matrix the Cloisters let you go.
  • O.O.C. Is Serious Business:
    • Because he's at the Despair Event Horizon, the Doctor is acting out of rage and self-interest. His "duty of care" to Clara is warped into a need to keep her alive at all costs, heedless of her wishes — and even his own, given that he ends up planning to mind wipe her and just return her to Earth to live an ordinary life. While he usually keeps the needs of the many in mind, he's so desperate to save Clara, as previously happened with Ashildr, he risks the safety of the universe in the process. Also, as noted in Batman Grabs a Gun, he takes up arms and shoots someone (though he makes sure that person will regenerate before doing so).
    • The first 10 minutes or so of the episode has the Doctor acting in complete silence. When the Doctor doesn't say a word, that's when you start worrying.
  • Our Zombies Are Different: Clara is left in effectively an undead state after her extraction: she has no heartbeat and most of her bodily functions are frozen. By some definitions, this makes her a form of zombie, but one who experiences no change in personality and appears to retain at least some natural body functions (she can feel emotion, cry, and apparently drink liquids too), and as an added bonus she is functionally immortal and will not age.
  • Paradox Person: The Doctor uses a Time Lord extraction chamber to grab Clara at the moment of her death. The technology works in such a way that the person grabbed is conscious and mobile, but locked at the moment of their death — their heart doesn't beat, they don't need to breathe, etc. While Clara must eventually return to Gallifrey so as not to break reality (she must die in order for the Doctor to extract her in the first place), in the interim she's effectively immortal.
  • Pay Evil unto Evil: The General and Ohila regard the Doctor's choice to exile Rassilon and the High Council to wherever they can find a home as punishment for his torture, Clara's death, and the Time War as this trope, regarding it as out-of-character for him. On the other hand, he could have done much worse to them and may regard this punishment as a merciful alternative.
  • Person of Mass Destruction: The Hybrid is supposedly this, the greatest warrior ever known. Even the Time Lords fear it.
  • Please, Don't Leave Me: "You're saying goodbye, don't say goodbye." (Clara to the Doctor as his memories begin to fade.)
  • Plot Hole:
    • It can be assumed that Ashildr learned about the Hybrid prophecy, etc. over the years and kept a record of the events of "Face the Raven" handy, but how does she know why the Doctor has come to the end of the universe and have no fear that he's going to finally give her what she's had coming for so long? That second part can at least be explained away as growing numb and distant to emotions as an immortal.
    • If Gallifrey's hidden away at the end of time and the Doctor couldn't access it until he escaped the confession dial, how did the Sisterhood of Karn get there so quickly? Supremacy of the Cybermen, a comic book followup, fills in this one: Turns out there's a special portal to Gallifrey on Karn.
  • Powerful and Helpless: The Doctor has been struggling with this trope for the previous two episodes. He couldn't prevent Clara's death, he couldn't escape the confession dial without horrific suffering, and all for what? Driven to Madness by grief and rage compounded by torture, he is now The Unfettered, bringing all his abilities to bear on bringing her back from the grave heedless of everyone else's wishes even though defying a fixed point in time simply cannot be done in the Whoniverse and he usually is discouraging others from trying to do so. In the end, while he does give Clara functional immortality within the last moment of her natural life through his desperate efforts, he is forced to accept both that she still must die one day for the universe to hold and that he must give her up for the greater good — and his own. He must accept that in this particular case, he is this trope.
  • The Power of Love: As in many other NewWho finales, this trope is crucial. The Doctor's love for Clara has become so powerful that he effectively becomes The Unfettered Hybrid, a Woobie, Destroyer of Worlds, to get her back whether she or anyone else in the universe likes it or not, for Love Makes You Evil. When Clara objects to the mind wipe, he fully understands at last that he is hurting the woman he loves and they mutually accept that their mutual love is doing the universe more harm than good — that they together could be the Hybrid — and they must go separate ways. He accepts the mind wipe because it frees him from his anguish, allowing them to separate and him to be his best self again, for Love Hurts, but Love Redeems.
  • President Evil: The Lord President of the Time Lords is the head of the plot against the Doctor. For bonus points, he turns out to be Rassilon again.
  • Prophecy Twist: Relating to the Hybrid:
    • As revealed in the previous episode, the prophecy never specified which two warrior races the Hybrid belonged to.
    • "Standing in Gallifrey's ruins" means just that; nothing is ever said about the Hybrid destroying the place. Ashildr more or less just ends up "conqueror" by default, as the Doctor correctly predicted at the end of "Heaven Sent" with his final line.
    • In the end, the Hybrid's identity — if one actually exists — is never exactly specified. Is it Ashildr, a human sustained by Mire technology and the Doctor's first assumption? The Doctor, a Time Lord who once claimed to be half-human? Or the Doctor/Clara duo, a Time Lord and human initially brought together by a villain hoping to cause destructive trouble and who have grown so close that they encourage each other's worst natures? Steven Moffat has since confirmed that this last option is actually the correct one.
    • The Doctor, for his part, decides he is the Hybrid. He effectively conquers Gallifrey by way of his reputation as "the man who won the Time War", burns billions of hearts (via his trials in the confession dial, plus two more by shooting the General) and threatens to burn billions more all in the service of healing his own, and ends up standing along with Ashildr in Gallifrey's ruins. He is reticent about answering her questions about whether he's a pureblood Gallifreyan or not. As a bonus, with regards to a mystery surrounding the Hybrid's intentions, while he threatens to be a force of ultimate destruction in this story, in the end he chooses to return to his Doctor-y ways and work in the name of peace again.
  • Protagonist Journey to Villain: Unable to handle his anguish over losing Clara and being betrayed by so many — and being forced to relive the fresh grief and torture of the confession dial for billions of years — the Doctor is a Woobie, Destroyer of Worlds. He doesn't want to destroy the universe, but he sees taking the risk as an acceptable one because he's suffered enough. In the endgame though, he regrets his actions, and accepts losing Clara and his memories of her because it will finally bring him back to his best self and serve as a way to make amends.
  • Pun:
    Clara: Have you been travelling?
    The Doctor: From time to time.
  • Puppy-Dog Eyes: Clara gives this treatment to the Doctor when she suggests they don't push the button and just run away together instead.
  • Read the Freaking Manual: Ashildr is shown reading the new TARDIS manual. She still manages to break the chameleon circuit, though, so now Clara has a diner-shaped TARDIS.
  • "The Reason You Suck" Speech:
    • First, Ohila asks whether the Doctor's takeover of Gallifrey really required eliminating Rassilon.
    Was it punishment — or for your own protection? Are you just being cruel... or just being cowardly?
    • Second, she openly rebukes the Doctor for going too far in resurrecting Clara. As with the previous speech, it proves useless, in part because at no time does she empathize/sympathize with what the Doctor's gone through of late that has motivated his out-of-character actions:
    Doctor! Doctor, face me! Do you hear me? Get out of that TARDIS and face me, boy! You have gone too far. You have broken every code you ever lived by.
    • In between these, Clara delivers one to the Time Lords when she finds out the full extent of the horrors they submitted upon the Doctor (and their and Ohila's apparent lack of regret over this).
    Clara: You're monsters. Here you are, hiding away at the end of time. Do you even know why? Because you are hated. You are hated. By everybody. But by nobody more than me.
  • Reality-Breaking Paradox: The Doctor's desperate effort to rescue Clara hinges on creating this. She died in a way that left her Killed Off for Real, so he suffers mightily to get access to a device that pulls her out of time at the fatal moment she died, hoping he can bring her back to life completely. But since he wouldn't have done this if she wasn't dead...
  • Rebuilt Set: The console room of the "diner" TARDIS is a recreation of Peter Brachacki's original set for the First Doctor's TARDIS. It was previously used for filming the docudrama An Adventure in Space and Time, which covered the earliest years of the programme (specifically William Hartnell's tenure).
  • Redemption Equals Affliction: The Doctor deciding to be his best self again means he ends up enduring a Mind Rape on top of losing Clara for good.
  • Resurrected Romance: The Doctor is attempting this, but it isn't meant to be. Even with her objection to being pulled from time in the first place, Clara does wish they could stay together by the end of it all and suggests they do just that... but no.
  • The Reveal: The episode does reveal the answers to the following questions:
    • Why do the Time Lords want the Doctor's last confession so badly?
    • What is Gallifrey like after he saved it in "The Day of the Doctor" — and where has it been?
  • Revenge: The Doctor wants the Time Lords to pay for what they did to him and Clara. Her hopes of being his Morality Chain Beyond the Grave don't pan out in this respect, though no one is killed or even hurt when he overthrows Rassilon. By her own words after changing, the Doctor even appeared to do a General a favour by triggering his/her regeneration.
  • Reverse Polarity: When Clara finds out the Doctor has a device he's planning to use to erase her memory of him so that she can survive without the Time Lords finding her, she uses his sonic sunglasses to reverse the polarity so that it will affect him instead.
  • Reverse Relationship Reveal: In the frame story, the Doctor is in a diner telling the waitress about Clara: the waitress is Clara, but doesn't seem aware of the fact. In the end, it's revealed that it's the Doctor who has amnesia and doesn't know who the waitress is, while Clara remembers everything.
  • Rhetorical Question Blunder:
    Rassilon: Who the hell does he think he is?
    The General: The man who won the Time War, sir.
  • Riddle for the Ages: Many.
    • How did the Time Lords get involved with Ashildr to set the trap for the Doctor?
    • What did Clara say to the Doctor during their private moment together — and why didn't she say it before she died in "Face the Raven" if it was so important for him to know it? For that matter, why doesn't she just tell him again in the diner when she finds out he's forgotten it?
    • What were the circumstances of Ashildr learning all about Missy, the Hybrid prophecy, etc.? And how was she able to retain these facts — as well as detailed recollections of how Clara died — for billions if not trillions of years?
    • Ashildr has a chess set and a second chair next to hers at the end of the universe. For whom?
    • The Doctor, when asked what he really is, only asks whether that actually matters (similar to the situation with the surviving Osgood, or indeed the Doctor's own name). Is he a pureblood Gallifreyan or not?
    • Why does the Doctor spend so much time on Earth?
    • Why was the Doctor so upset upon learning of the Hybrid prophecy in the Cloisters as a youth? Did he indeed learn something more about it that he might have confessed? He tells Clara he knows no more than anyone else — but remember Rule Number 1.
    • Why does the Doctor let Ashildr follow him onto TARDIS 2.0, given that Dying Alone at the end of the universe would have been a perfect punishment for her (for collaborating with the Time Lords) after all he went through?
    • Clara and the audience only have the Doctor's word to go on that he doesn't know what will happen when they activate the neural block after she tampers with it. Does he know all along it will affect him — in which case he willingly gives up his memories of her and a chance for happiness he worked so hard to obtain, all for the greater good?
    • What drove the Doctor to hitchhike across the U.S., with an electric guitar in tow and no money — after apparently travelling to London to find his TARDIS moved — to end up in just the right diner in the middle of nowhere? Although it can be assumed that Clara and Ashildr orchestrated it, exactly how is left unsaid.
    • Steven Moffat has since confirmed that the Doctor and Clara were/are the Hybrid. Now that they are separated, is the prophecy done and dusted, or will it be an issue again later?
    • Why doesn't the Doctor just go back to Gallifrey at the end now that he's capable of doing so and is alone in the universe? There's nothing that says he can't mend relationships with the Time Lords now that he's sane again. (As for his relationship with Ohila and Karn, that's Conclusion in Another Medium.)
    • How did the Time Lords alter the confession dial so they could use it to torture the Doctor if the only characters seen with it are Ohila and Missy?
  • Running Gag: It's long been established that the Doctor's TARDIS still looks like a police box because the Chameleon Circuit malfunctioned and he's never bothered to fix it. At the end of this episode, Ashildir/Me mentions that her and Clara's TARDIS has also developed a malfunctioning Chameleon Circuit and is stuck looking like an American diner.
  • Samus Is a Girl: The episode strongly implies that some Time Lords have a "normal" gender, but may regenerate into the opposite gender. The General regenerates into a woman, which she considers to be her normal gender.
  • Sanity Slippage: Still underway following the events of "Heaven Sent". The Doctor doesn't regain his sanity, truly, until Clara tearfully and forcefully demands that he not erase her memory.
  • Scenery Porn:
    • For longtime fans of the series, the lovingly photographed interior of the retro TARDIS, which is an accurate recreation of the control room as it appeared in the earliest episodes of the series in 1963-64.
    • The views of Gallifrey's citadel, in particular during the sequence where the audience is given the scenery to admire while Clara pours her heart out to the Doctor in the Cloisters.
  • Screw Destiny: Subverted — the Doctor tries everything he can to undo Clara's death and is sure that he can fully revive her despite what destiny or history have to say. Yet, nothing works.
  • Screw the Rules, I'm Doing What's Right!:
    • Gallifrey's armies turn against Rassilon as they will not kill the man who saved Gallifrey.
    • The Doctor feels that honoring his personal "duty of care" to Clara is worth defying his people — and the ultimate laws of time itself — and becoming The Unfettered. But he stops thinking about his duty of care to anyone else, and doesn't consider what Clara actually wanted.
  • Screw the Rules, I Make Them!: The Doctor attempts to throw out the rule book in order to save Clara. He only partially succeeds.
  • Season Finale: The episode is the final episode of Series 9, and 65 minutes instead of the standard 45.
  • Second Law of Gender-Bending: A bit of a cheated example. The General indicates in dialogue that she normally considers herself female anyway, and appears to be clearly relieved to have regenerated back into a female form after being shot by the Doctor.
  • Self-Fulfilling Prophecy: If either of Ashildr/Me's hypotheses regarding the prophecy of the Hybrid are correct — either it being the Doctor himself or the Doctor/Clara duo — then Rassilon's extreme measures to learn about the Hybrid are what drove this "Hybrid" to "stand in the ruins of Gallifrey". Steven Moffat has since confirmed that it is Doctor/Clara, so yes, it's Rassilon's doing that the prophecy has more or less been fulfilled!
  • Self-Inflicted Hell: The Doctor's experiences in the confession dial are confirmed to have been this, much to Clara's horror. He could have left whenever he wanted, but it would mean giving up his last confession.note 
  • Self-Serving Memory: Clara, as she argues against the Doctor's planned memory wipe, insists that she's never asked the Doctor to keep her safe. In fact, this is a lie as in "Mummy on the Orient Express" Clara actually makes being returned home safe a condition of her staying with the Doctor. Possibly a case of Exact Words, as Clara is home on Earth when the events of "Face The Raven" transpire, with the TARDIS being used only as a hovering observation-post rather than to go anywhere.
  • Sequel Episode: To the A-plot of "The Day of the Doctor", much as "The Zygon Invasion"/"The Zygon Inversion" was a sequel to its B-plot. Here we see Gallifrey after he saved it, as he now tries to save the woman who convinced him to do so.
  • Sequel Hook: Several. Some were picked up by the end of the Twelfth Doctor's tenure, either onscreen or in the Expanded Universe:
    • What will become of Rassilon and his cronies?
    • The Time Lords and Gallifrey are out of their pocket universe. Will they actively seek out the Doctor? And if so, will it be to punish a renegade, forgive a betrayed hero, and/or beg for help in a new crisis?
    • Clara and Ashildr are out having adventures before the former gets around to facing death on Gallifrey. Ashildr's story arc showed how immortality changed her, and not for the better. What is in store for Clara, given that the Doctor warned Ashildr that immortals need the presence and perspective of mortals to avoid becoming detached? Will they find mortal companions? Will they become villains? And what will finally cause Clara to return to her death?
    • Related to the above: Clara the Waitress asks the Twelfth Doctor, "Are you looking for her?" to which he replies, "I'm trying."
    • Missy's role in bringing the Doctor and Clara together is discussed, with Me theorizing that Missy's goal was to create the Hybrid.
  • Shot at Dawn: The President tries to have a firing squad execute the Doctor, but turns out none of the gunmen want to shoot him.
  • Shout-Out:
  • Shrouded in Myth: The Hybrid, as the Doctor noted in the previous episode, is this. It has been part of Gallifreyan folklore for millennia, and its abilities, intentions, origins, and whether it even exists are all grist for debates and prophecies — which prove crucial to the proceedings here. The Doctor is apparently the only person who knows what's true and what's not, having learned about the prophecy down in the Cloisters long, long ago, and he's still not telling everything... unaware he's half of it.
  • Skewed Priorities: At least to outsiders: The Doctor has finally returned to Gallifrey, and is able to oust the maniac Rassilon from power and take office himself. Rather than try to restore Gallifrey to its rightful place in time and space, all the Doctor cares about is using Time Lord tech to get Clara back and then get the hell out of there.
  • The Slow Path: Ashildr survived to the end of the Universe the long way round.
  • Smart People Play Chess: There's another seat and a chess set waiting for the Doctor, when he encounters Me. According to invokedWord of God Me's intelligence and ability have long since surpassed the Doctor's, so this trope applies to her as well.
  • Spoiler Cover: The North American edition of the Series 9, Part 2 DVD box set used an image of the Doctor on Gallifrey for the cover, spoiling the return to Gallifrey for anyone who hadn't seen the episodes yet.
  • Star-Crossed Lovers: The Doctor and Clara were always doomed to be this owing to Mayfly–December Romance, a fact both acknowledged from time to time. Clara realized it soon after meeting the Doctor, specifically in the episode "Hide" and also to a lesser degree in "Listen", while for the Doctor it was an overriding concern throughout Series 9. This episode seals and justifies their fate: Their love has become so strong that it is not only dangerous to themselves but the entire universe — making them the Hybrid — once the Doctor tries to bring her back from the dead and give her the life he thinks is best for her, one where he isn't in it. His efforts actually turn her into a functional immortal who could travel with the Doctor forever, and nothing would make either of them happier, but they mutually realize that they must part ways. This is sealed by the mind wipe keeping him from being able to recognize her or remember why she meant so much to him, which holds until just before he, mortally wounded, chooses to regenerate into his next incarnation in "Twice Upon a Time". (It is lifted by avatars of the Testimony as a gift to him, allowing him to give her a metaphorical last goodbye.) The episode ends with a visual invocation of the trope as the Doctor's and Clara's TARDISes symbolically cross past each other among the stars.
  • Stealth Pun:
    • A firing squad misses their target, but what do they hit? The broad side of a barn, naturally.
    • The General remarks that they have hidden Gallifrey "at the end of the universe." Clara is travelling in a TARDIS stuck in the shape of a restaurant, so when she returns to face the raven, it will be in The Restaurant at the End of the Universe.
  • Story Arc: Several major arcs, one effectively dating back to the beginning of the revival series, are concluded or at least paused with this episode.
    • At last, after seven series, many specials, and centuries spent believing it was gone forever... then two series, more specials, a millennia or so spent defending, pining, and searching for it, and billions of years fighting through a personal hell to get back to it, the Doctor finally returns to his home planet of Gallifrey.
    • The season-long mystery of the identity of the Hybrid is sort of resolved; the characters still don't know exactly who/what it is or what its role will be in the fate of Gallifrey and the universe (with several perfectly viable options presented), but as of the ending, that doesn't really matter. Audiences now know that its identity is All There in the Manual (it's the Doctor and Clara together), but whether the prophecy has been fulfilled by the events of this episode may not be clear until Twelve's tenure ends.
    • Ashildr/Lady Me/Mayor Me, the functionally-immortal "girl" who became the Doctor's nemesis over her involvement in the Time Lords' plot, is shown to move into a new phase of her life as Clara's companion.
    • The Doctor's growing paranoia over Clara's safety and survival that has been building technically since the second half of Series 8 and explicitly since the start of Series 9 reaches a final climax.
    • Clara Oswald's journey ended in "Face the Raven" — and begins again here. In particular, her quest to become like the Doctor, which arguably has been underway since she first arrived, comes full circle as she becomes a Doctor in all but name.
  • Stranger in a Familiar Land: The Doctor, having finally made it back to his home planet — which he saved from annihilation — is once again on the opposite side of his people, the Time Lords. It's all because they cannot comprehend his deep emotional connection to Clara; they don't suspect or understand that his grief is so strong that he wants to save her from the grave, much less capable of suggesting a healthy way for him to handle his loss.
  • Subverted Catchphrase: Clara's farewell message to the Doctor begins "Run, you clever boy..." as usual. However, it doesn't end "and remember me" because that's the one thing he won't, so she changes it to "... and be a Doctor".
  • Suddenly Shouting: The Doctor does this to Clara twice out of frustration at being unable to restore her to full life. Oddly, of the two occasions the one where Clara accuses the Doctor of shouting at her follows him simply raising his voice slightly and not shouting at all. When he rants about being accountable to no one anymore, she just responds with stunned silence.
  • Suspiciously Specific Denial: Ashildr/Me doesn't buy it for a second when the Doctor claims that Clara is "just a friend" when justifying his actions.
  • Take a Third Option:
    • Option 1: Erase one of their memories, Option 2: Return Clara to Gallifrey so she can be put back in her timeline to die. Clara suggests a third option to the Doctor: "Why don't we just fly away somewhere?" Sadly, it's not meant to be and Option 1 is taken instead. She likely suggests this third option as a sad private joke, since it isn't actually workable under the circumstances.
    • In the real world, Moffat's handling of the finale qualifies as this, as he's able to end the season with a renewed Doctor, the promise of more adventures for Clara (including the possibility of a reunion with the Doctor at a later date)... yet at the same time the tragedy and sadness of Clara's death in "Face the Raven" is maintained because that event must still someday happen (and is arguably even sadder since returning to her death would be effectively suicide or execution depending on what brings her back). He also had to balance the desires of fans who wanted to embrace the relationship between Clara and the Doctor as a romance and those who insisted it be friendzoned; he did so by rendering the entire two-parter one big Act of True Love by the Doctor, allowing Clara to reciprocate with her Cloister conversation and later invitation to, for all intents and purposes, elope with her — followed by her Hail Mary pass attempt to get the Doctor to remember her — before pushing the relationship into Anchored Ship territory, if not drydocked permanently.
    • Given how important Clara was to him and his many lives, it initially seemed the Doctor had only two options as far as accepting her death/their separation went — spend the next few episodes or even a season grieving, as Ten did post-Rose and post-Donna, or snap out of it and jump into wacky new adventures with a brand-new companion without giving Clara a second thought, which would be a huge violation of his character. The third option: Mind Rape. He is no longer burdened by his ultimately-obsessive love but still recognizes how important she was to him; the fact he still remembers their adventures means any continuity related to them (i.e. Missy, Davros, the end of the Time War, even the events surrounding the Doctor's most recent regeneration) can be maintained. This is illustrated by the fact that the Doctor is able to relate most major details of what had just happened on Gallifrey; all he can't remember are details regarding Clara's personality/appearance and the content of her message to him in the cloisters. From here, he moves on and applies the lessons in loss and love to a positive end when he is reunited with another important woman in "The Husbands of River Song", while the debut of the next companion won't happen until the Series 10 premiere — with a twenty-four year Time Skip and one more Christmas Episode in between those events (plus more adventures in the Expanded Universe).
  • Take That, Audience!: The Doctor referring to Clara as "Clara Who", and the revelations that Clara is now technically immortal, all but in name a Time Lord operating out of a stolen TARDIS, working directly from lessons learned from the Doctor himself, and even has her own travelling companion is aimed squarely at critics who felt Clara had become too powerful a companion from "The Name of the Doctor" onward. "Hell Bent" addresses this by turning the topic of their concerns/criticisms up a notch and formally making her the Distaff Counterpart to the Doctor.
  • Tempting Fate: The Doctor says that as he's the last person at the end of the Universe he's answerable to no-one. Then someone knocks on the door.
  • Theme Music Power-Up:
    • The sequence of the Doctor "reassembling" himself in the TARDIS and receiving his brand-new sonic screwdriver is set to the Twelfth Doctor's Leitmotif "A Good Man?"
    • Meanwhile, Clara's own leitmotif, "Clara?", becomes part of the canon as we learn this piece of music, heard regularly on the soundtrack since 2012, in-universe was created by the Doctor as a way of expressing his now-lost memories of Clara, rendering every occurrence of the music in preceding episodes as Foreshadowing.
  • There Are No Therapists: Poor Doctor! At no point in this story does anyone even consider that he, coming off of the loss of a beloved companion and horrific torture at the hands of people he saved (which became a Self-Inflicted Hell to boot), might have been severely psychologically damaged by those events and thus prone to irrational behaviour — so no one considers sending him to a therapist or mental health ward, if such things even exist on Gallifrey to begin with. If he hadn't been mind wiped and thus lost most of the anguish that drove him mad, he'd have been left in even worse shape than before upon giving up Clara. Even then, she leaves him to the care of a random bystander in the Nevada desert after he's wiped and then completely alone at the end of the episode, so apparently the former trope applies on Earth even though organizations like UNIT realistically would have non-Muggle therapists on staff whom she could have (anonymously, given her Only Mostly Dead status) contacted!
  • This Is Unforgivable!:
    • The Twelfth Doctor is willing to forgive many of his enemies, telling Bonnie the Zygon that "The only way people can live in peace is if they're prepared to forgive", but his choice to exile Rassilon and the High Council from Gallifrey suggests that he regards them as unforgivable for 1) serving as architects of the Last Great Time War that almost destroyed the universe and certainly slaughtered untold numbers of innocents, 2) imprisoning and torturing him (the man who ended the war) for billions of years when they could have shown mercy on a madman and released him from a Self-Inflicted Hell at any point, and 3) their accidental role in the death of Clara Oswald (who inspired him to end the war in a way that preserved Gallifrey rather than destroyed it). Given that Rassilon and Time Lords in general are not forgiving, apologizing, and/or atoning types themselves, they probably are the exception to the rule of forgiveness...
    • In the meantime, the Doctor still hasn't forgiven Ashildr/Me for her role in Clara's death after all this time, and does not openly do so, but he doesn't just leave her to die at the end of time either, suggesting he's still capable of mercy at least.
  • Thousand-Yard Stare: Clara detects this in the Doctor in the Cloisters when something in his expression troubles her, and she begins drilling the Doctor about what really happened to him in the confession dial.
  • Threshold Guardian: The Cloister Wraiths guard the Matrix. Anybody caught in there, such as a Dalek, Weeping Angels, and a Cyberman, also become this.
  • Time Abyss: Ashildr is now officially this, given that she lived to the end of the universe the long way, making her trillions of years old.
  • Time Stands Still: What appears to happen for Clara when the Time Lords extract her from her timestream.
  • Tomato Surprise: Clara's behaviour in the Framing Device and the events of the Flashbacks all point to her fate being a mind wipe that leaves her with no memories of her time with the Doctor, whereupon she ends up with a new life as a diner waitress back on Earth. In truth, the Doctor loses his memories of her and she drops him off on Earth via TARDIS 2.0 to recover on his own. She retrieves his TARDIS, disguises herself as a diner waitress to match TARDIS 2.0's outer appearance upon returning to Nevada, and is now playing dumb to see if he retains any memories of her. He has memories of their experiences, which is why he can recount recent events to her upon being prompted to do so, but he cannot actually remember or recognize her.
  • Tonight, Someone Dies: Pre-publicity for the episode revealed that it would include a scene where somebody regenerates, without revealing who.
    Guard: Med team to Sector 52, Extraction Chamber 7. Regeneration in progress.
  • Too Happy to Live: After all they've gone through, the Doctor tries his hardest to save Clara and they get a Hope Spot for the their trouble once they flee Gallifrey in TARDIS 2.0, but in the end they are forced to accept that their love can no longer be — not only for their own sakes, but for that of the universe — because they became codependent and too willing to put their personal happiness above that of others. They'll just have to go in different directions and try to find happiness in other, healthier ways.
  • Tragic Dream: The Doctor suffers for billions of years to bring back Clara Oswald, willing to forsake his home world and people for her. He'd qualify for Earn Your Happy Ending if achieving this dream didn't risk destroying the universe and disregards everybody else's desires, including hers. He only has her again temporarily before she becomes little more than a story to him, because it just wasn't meant to be.
  • Tragic Hero:
    • The Doctor. Over the course of Series 9, his struggle to deal with centuries of pain and loss and the inevitability of one day losing Clara threatened to warp his noble duty to rescue anyone and everyone he can within reason, already a problematic duty given what happened with Ashildr, into a selfish need to save CLARA above all others. With her death and his betrayal and torture adding fuel to the fire, he becomes The Unfettered here, and losing not only her but his memories of her turns out to be the only thing that can bring him back to his best self.
    • Ultimately, this applies to Clara as well. Although she can be as heroic for as long as she wants to be, she knows the exact time and place of her death and she must voluntarily return there at some point. Until or unless something occurs to change the situation, she is "forever" separated from the Doctor.
  • Trailers Always Spoil:
    • The BBC episode summaries of this and "Heaven Sent" revealed that the Doctor returns to Gallifrey in this story — and that he isn't on the side of his own people.
    • Even more spoilers came from the TV magazines before the previous episode even aired: appearances by Time Lords, Daleks, Cybermen, Weeping Angels, Clara and Ashildr. And somebody regenerates.
    • Clara's last hurrah was teased in advance with promo pictures of her as a waitress in a diner in Doctor Who Magazine that was published weeks before even "Face the Raven". As that episode featured no scenes involving Clara dressed as a waitress, fans surmised that she had to appear in one or both of the remaining episodes; the only remaining question was how that was possible — would it be Clara!Prime? An echo? Both, neither?
    • The TV and Next Time trailers include the barn from "The Day of the Doctor", the Doctor before a firing squad, and the Doctor in a classic-series TARDIS console room. The first two events happen very early in the story, though.
    • Official promo pics and the synopsis of the 2015 Christmas special revealed well in advance that Peter Capaldi is still the Doctor by this episode's end, he's still wandering around the universe like he's always been doing, and he does not get Clara back as a companion.
  • Tranquil Fury: The Doctor is quiet and collected as he begins his journey to confront the Time Lords, not even speaking in the early going.
  • Trauma Conga Line:
    • Continuing from "Face the Raven": So far the Doctor has been betrayed by Ashildr, watched Clara die screaming after being utterly impotent at stopping it from happening, been captured and subjected to billions of years in a bespoke hell, and confirmed that his own people were behind all this. His journey to find revenge, closure, etc. makes him the enemy of the Time Lords — and very nearly to Clara herself — and exposes him to more dangers. Of course, he exposes them to grave danger too. In the end, he must lose Clara again... and memories of what she looked like, talked (effectively the factors that made him fall in love with her), though not of the adventures he had with her.
    • Clara doesn't avoid this completely. After having experienced the trauma of nearly dying, she finds herself transported away with her heart permanently stopped and no need to even breathe anymore, with her best friend having experienced billions of years of torture and on the verge of insanity, and she is forced to wipe his memory of her. The conga line continues when she hopes against hope that he might remember her — since he can remember their adventures and many details of the events on Gallifrey — only to have those hopes dashed. Although she has adventures to look forward to with Ashildr and her own TARDIS, she's "forever" parted from the Doctor unless something happens to change that, and knows she must someday return to Gallifrey to die.
    • Averted with Ashildr/Me, who comes off the real winner as a) she gets to avoid dying at the end of the universe, essentially being granted a do-over, and b) she gets to travel in a TARDIS, something she coveted previously.
  • Tricked Out Time: The Doctor does a Chrono Trigger and extracts Clara just before the moment of her death. Of course, her death is a fixed moment in time, and her having to go back eventually is what drives the plot. Clara tricks out time again later when deciding that she can postpone her inevitable death for a while longer.
  • Underestimating Badassery: Discussed.
    Soldier: The first thing you notice about the Doctor of War is he's unarmed. For many it's also the last.
  • Undying Loyalty: Taken to literal and extreme ends when taken in conjunction with Part 1, "Heaven Sent" when we learn that the Doctor spent 4.5 billion years in his confession dial, being killed and resurrected countless times, in hopes of saving Clara.
  • Unexplained Recovery: Spoofed with Gallifrey.
    Clara: But I thought it was stuck in the pocket dimension?
    The Doctor: It was. They must have gotten it out.
    Clara: How?
    The Doctor: Don't know. Didn't ask. It would have made them feel clever.
  • The Unfettered: The Doctor temporarily becomes an example of this; he will do anything to keep Clara Oswald alive, tossing out his usual rules — and it's NOT to obey the good side of To Be Lawful or Good, but purely out of a need to assuage his pain. He remains sympathetic, considering that he is coming off of experiencing horrible betrayal, profound grief, and billions of lonely years of torture in the previous two episodes, the last of which he endured solely because it would bring him back to his people and the technology that could save her; anguish and rage have severely clouded his usual judgment and given him tunnel vision.
  • Ungrateful Bastard:
    • After all the Doctor has done for Gallifrey, he's stuck inside of his confession dial and subjected to Cold-Blooded Torture. When this is pointed out, Ohila and the General only give weak attempts at justifications, and don't even so much as apologize to him.
    • Averted with the common folk. While Rassilon might want to kill the Doctor, the rest of the Time Lords revere him for saving Gallifrey and thus rebel against their once revered founder.
    • Considering the General took the Doctor's side against Rassilon, the Doctor shooting him "dead" later is a rather jerkass thing to do. That said, the episode makes it clear that the Doctor makes sure the General can regenerate before doing so and the shooting script has the Doctor tell Clara he intentionally aimed in such a way as to not cause permanent death. The General, for her part, appears grateful to no longer be saddled with a male body (too much ego, you know?), possibly averting the trope from her perspective. Also, the Doctor is trying to save a woman he loves from her unjust execution...
    • With regards to Clara and Ashildr, the only reasons the former has her own time machine and wiggle room and the latter now gets to travel the universe with Clara are 1) all the suffering the Doctor went through and 2) his choice not to leave Ashildr to die at the end of time. While actually thanking him isn't possible under the circumstances, couldn't they at least acknowledge to each other that he gave them new leases on life — ones they did nothing to earn — or do anything more than bring him back his TARDIS after he wandered the Nevada desert a broken man?
    • And even though everybody in this episode owes the Doctor their lives many times over, nobody considers that maybe the whole matter would be settled if somebody found a way to safely restore Clara Oswald to him. Because that's way too big a price to pay!
  • Unreliable Narrator: Clara at one point questions whether the story the Doctor is telling her in the diner actually happened. The Doctor's reply is somewhat ambiguous on that point — and as it turns out, he has been mind-wiped of key memories of her, which could easily make him this without his realizing it. Moreover, the audience and presumably Clara learn about events he was not present for, such as Rassilon and Ohila's conversation. There's no indication he learned of those things once he arrived at the Citadel (given his isolated attitude there), and he ends up stuck on Earth after trying to save Clara, so he couldn't have caught up then. However, beyond that one exchange between the Doctor and her, there is nothing to suggest the narrative as presented didn't happen.
  • The Unreveal:
    • Who, or what, is The Hybrid? Many theories are discussed. Is it Ashildr/Me? The Doctor, who Ashildr all but says is half-human? Clara Oswald? The combination of The Doctor and Clara working in tandem? Each possibility is raised. None is firmly stated to be the truth, though, although only two relate directly to the part of the prophecy that says the hybrid will destroy a billion billion hearts to save his own, and that's the Doctor-as-half-human option and the Doctor/Clara option. Steven Moffat has since confirmed that Doctor/Clara is the Hybrid, but this is All There in the Manual stuff.
    • The Doctor returns home and meets a woman who knew him when he was a boy, before he was the Doctor. She's so overcome by emotion that she's rendered speechless, so we never learn what name she knew him by, much less how and why they knew each other.
    • How did the Time Lords get Gallifrey out of that pocket dimension? Even the Doctor doesn't know and he didn't bother to ask the Time Lords because he didn't want to make them feel clever.
    • How Ashildr became last woman standing in the Universe, beating out all other immortals, is hand-waved away with a simple "something clever".
    • Whatever Clara says to the Doctor in the Cloisters is not revealed, although it is implied that Clara's theme, a piece of music heard on the show for the last three seasons, is a representation of what she said.
    • What led the Doctor to return to Nevada (dialogue indicates he'd been to London to find his TARDIS missing) and end up at a diner in the middle of nowhere that just happened to be her diner?
    • The 20-year-old question as to whether the Doctor is really half-human is left unanswered, with the Doctor hand-waving it away with "Does it matter?" and Ashildr not pressing the issue any further.
  • Vagueness Is Coming: The General tries to do this in with regard to the Hybrid. The Doctor, the one person who (supposedly) knows the truth about it, is having none of it.
    The General: Legends say—
    The Doctor: Nope.
    The General: ... some prophecies suggest—
    The Doctor: No.
    The General: ... many prophecies—
    The Doctor: No.
    The General: ... all Matrix prophecies concur that the Hybrid will bring ruin to Gallifrey.
  • Velvet Revolution: The Doctor quickly takes control of Gallifrey when the military refuses to shoot him, forcing Rassilon and the High Council off the planet and becoming President, in a bloodless coup.
  • Villain Has a Point: The Doctor asks "[A]ren't I owed this?" — that is to say, the chance to get Clara Oswald back after all the good he's done for others, including all the major characters in this episode, often at great cost to himself. Moreover, given that he wouldn't have come to this point if Me and the Time Lords (and possibly Ohila) hadn't all been ungrateful backstabbers, and the latter could offer to help him find a safe way of saving her...
  • Villainous Breakdown:
    • Rassilon loses it when he realizes that he's lost control of Gallifrey to Doctor and reveals himself to be the petty tyrant he truly is.
    Rassilon: I am Rassilon the Redeemer! Rassilon the Resurrected! Gallifrey is mine!
    • The Doctor comes as close to villainy as it's possible to get in his desperation to save Clara. This climaxes with him ranting in a fashion not unlike Rassilon earlier in the episode.
    The Doctor: As of this moment, I am answerable to no one!
  • Villain Protagonist: The Doctor, traditionally an Anti-Hero, spends most of the episode as an Anti-Villain instead in the wake of being Driven to Madness. Getting back at Rassilon for the Time War and his recent torment in the confession dial and saving Clara from an unjust Senseless Sacrifice are understandable and sympathetic goals, given everything he's gone through, and as usual he doesn't give up or give in — but he's not "being a doctor" in trying to achieve them. He simply exiles Rassilon and his cronies from Gallifrey when he would usually show forgiveness and (more) mercy. Since Clara cannot be saved from her fixed-point death without risking the safety of the entire universe and disregarding her desires, he is being cruel and cowardly in not simply accepting her loss and moving on. Near the climax, he's even ranting about being answerable to no one in the exact same fashion — including Davros from earlier in the season — as many of the villains he has defeated over the years.
  • We All Die Someday: Clara all but says this to Ashildr when explaining why she (supposedly) isn't afraid to return to Trap Street:
    Clara: We all face the raven in the end. That is the deal.
  • Weasel Words: The Doctor keeps preventing the General from using them when he tries to explain the Hybrid prophecy. (See Vagueness Is Coming above.)
  • Well-Intentioned Extremist:
    • The Lord President wanted information on the Hybrid because it could be a deadly threat to Gallifrey. Then he decided that justified torturing the Doctor for four-and-a-half billion years to get it. This is what he claims, anyway; given that he was ready to kill the Doctor for refusing to recognize his authority, it seemed Rassilon was just out for petty vengeance more than anything — wanting information about the Hybrid was just a convenient excuse; he wanted to get the Doctor back for saving Gallifrey from his "Final Sanction".
    • The Doctor wants the Time Lords to be punished for their plotting, and his Clara back. He winds up risking all time and space to do the latter.
  • We Need a Distraction: After giving the Doctor her private message while they're trying to escape the Cloister, Clara turns to Ohila and the General, chewing them out for what they did. When they ask what she told him, she only gives up one part: while they're looking at her, they won't be looking at him. Sure enough, the Doctor's escaped.
  • Wham Episode: Many status quo changes here:
    • The Doctor forgets about his relationship with Clara (though not the adventures they had), can no longer even recognize her on sight, and is once again travelling alone.
    • Clara is sort-of revived but permanently separated from the Doctor and is now travelling through time and space in her own TARDIS with Ashildr.
    • Gallifrey is truly saved. Rassilion is exiled by the Doctor, who becomes Lord President (again!). But as the episode ends, he is a renegade from his people once more due to his doomed attempt to save Clara from the grave.
    • The Gender Bender regeneration of the General indicates that Time Lords do have a default gender (the General is female who, due to the randomness of regeneration, had been saddled with a male body for the first time). This could be seen as providing a potential rationale for the Doctor changing gender in the future without violating the integrity of the character as established since 1963.
  • Wham Line:
    • "Get off my planet."
    • "Four-and-a-half billion years." (Which is visually a "wham" for Clara, too.)
    • "I did it to save you." (Even more a wham than "I had a duty of care", especially when taken with the above line as Clara — and the audience — realizes that everything we've seen since her death has been one big Batman Gambit to bring her back.)
    • "Clara, I don't think you're ever gonna have to." (Revealing the Bait-and-Switch that this episode has been building up to — that the Doctor is the one who lost his memories, rather than Clara.)
    • "If I saw her again, I would absolutely know." (An example of a wham line effecting a character as much as the viewer as it hits Clara like a ton of bricks to hear this and realize he is wrong.)
    • Unspoken, but displayed on a blackboard: "Run you clever boy — and be a Doctor."
  • What Happened to the Mouse?:
    • What happened to the trap street after the events of "Face the Raven"? Did the Time Lords even follow through on their part of the bargain?
    • What happens to Gallifrey now that it doesn't have a Lord President or High Council? (Supremacy of the Cybermen picks up on this and Rassilon's fate in the Expanded Universe, but it won't have any effect on the show continuity.)
    • Much is made of Ohila being an immortal, yet when the Doctor meets Ashildr, she says all the other immortals are gone. What happened to Ohila?
  • What the Hell, Hero?:
    • The Doctor gets a lot of flak over his out-of-character behaviour. The General claims his exiling Rassilon and the High Council is Disproportionate Retribution, Ohila declares "You've broken every vow you've ever lived by" when he saves Clara from death, Ashildr accuses him of being selfish and spoiling Clara's noble sacrifice, and Clara herself objects to him rescuing her, shooting the General, and trying to mind wipe her. While the Doctor is usually amenable to such speeches, they don't work here — aside from Clara objecting to the mind wipe — because he's too mentally broken to care after the events of the previous two episodes, and no one but Clara and to a much lesser extent Ashildr realize that.
    • Clara also appears set to give the Doctor this when she find out about the 4½ billion years, but is struck speechless when he just says "I had a duty of care", whereupon she realizes that his actions are that of a man who has been thoroughly broken by devotion and Cold-Blooded Torture.
  • Whole Episode Flashback: Most of the episode is presented as a flashback as the Doctor recounts the events to Waitress!Clara on Earth.
  • Wild Card: The Doctor is dangerously in this mode throughout the episode, as he has decided to forego his morals and focus on his needs alone. And he needs a lot.
  • With Due Respect: "Lord President. With respect: get off [the Doctor's] planet."
  • Woobie, Destroyer of Worlds: Although Clara made a dying demand of the Doctor that he not seek Revenge in the wake of her death, he does (bloodlessly) get back at the Time Lords and becomes this in his efforts to save her, because they could undo time and space. He's less a warrior than the doctor she wants him to be — but taken his duty of care for one person much too far, refusing to accept her death because he is lost without her. He only shoots the General once he knows he'll regenerate, and no one else is hurt (even the General is none the worse for wear, ultimately). In the end, his selfish efforts to save her lead to him losing his memory of her; he realizes this is only right and proper, and even though he came very close to becoming a Woobie, Destroyer of Time, nothing was outright destroyed (other than Rassilon's career as Lord President).
  • The Worf Effect: The Weeping Angels, Daleks, and Cybermen are among the most dangerous villains in the series. The Cloister has captured all three and slaved them to its will. This demonstrates how dangerous the Cloister is and how crazy someone would have to be to go down there.
  • Writers Cannot Do Math: Several times it is stated that the end of the universe happens 4.5 billion years into the future. Aside from the fact this contradicts an earlier episode ("Utopia") that says this occurs some 100 trillion years from now, and several earlier episodes (such as "New Earth") taking place after the year 5 billion, even going by current scientific events the universe is not expected to end until well longer than 4.5 billion years.
  • Xanatos Gambit:
    • Even if retrieving Clara had failed, the Doctor's plan would have been a success on the grounds that Rassilon — the man the Doctor blames for the Time War and Clara's death and his imprisonment in the confession dial (not to mention per "The End of Time" was himself a proven danger to the universe) — was ousted and the Doctor once more found his homeworld and was made its leader, to boot. As for Clara, so long as she keeps her out of the grip of the Time Lords, then she can continue to (sort of) live, with or without her memories of the Doctor, and in this he is successful.
    • Clara plays a version of this at the end. If she'd succeeded in triggering the Doctor's memories, they'd have been together again — quite possibly forever; she failed, but she's still functionally immortal with her own TARDIS and the freedom to decide when her life will end. Failing to restore the Doctor's memories breaks her heart, but she still wins in a sense. And maybe they'll be reunited and his memories restored someday...
  • Xanatos Speed Chess: The Doctor is playing speed chess for much of the episode, most notable when he decides to take Clara literally to the end of the universe in hopes of restarting her heartbeat when Plan A fails.
  • Yank the Dog's Chain: The Doctor's plan goes off with only a few speed bumps; he and Clara are fleeing Gallifrey in another stolen TARDIS, with him brainstorming wonderful new adventures for the two of them. Too bad there's about 20 minutes of the episode to go. That's when Clara realizes her heartbeat hasn't restarted, and they see that her chronolock tattoo hasn't faded. The Doctor Didn't Think This Through — and his Sanity Slippage is only getting worse as he tries to think of some way he can have his Tragic Dream without destroying the universe. This is the point where he crosses the Despair Event Horizon.
  • You Monster!: Clara calls the Time Lords monsters for locking the Doctor up inside his own Confession Dial.