In the end of Heaven Sent, The Doctor appeared in the middle of a desert,

on Gallifrey.

Why did the Time Lords leave the confession dial,

with the Doctor inside,

abandoned there? It would make sense to store it somewhere instead.

  • This is an awesome question. They could simply throw it in a prison cell, The Doctor couldn't be a trouble.
    – user931
    Jan 4, 2016 at 5:18
  • Most probable answer: They didn't want to offend The Doctor. But, at least soldiers could be placed there to guard the confession dial.
    – user931
    Jan 4, 2016 at 5:20
  • Or just put a cloaking field around it.
    – Mr Lister
    Jan 4, 2016 at 10:03
  • 3
    maybe soldiers had been watching it, but after 4.5 billion years they took a break.
    – Justin C
    Jan 4, 2016 at 13:12

2 Answers 2


It wasn't "stored" there.

When he broke through the wall, a portal opened into this part of the desert. Only when the portal closed, did the dial appear out of thin air and fall to the ground.

There is no evidence that the dial was visible as a normal looking physical object anywhere whilst the Doctor was trapped in it. For all we know the location of the exit portal is random. It is apparent that the designers of the trap had no clue the wall would ever be breached and likely had no specific plan for it.

  • 4
    Oh, that makes sense. I didn't notice that. Maybe, since it appeared close to the barn, the confession dial is set to return to his family home or something like that. Jan 4, 2016 at 16:41
  • good theory, the barn seemed close and he certainly acted like he owned the place. Bit too neat to be all coincidence but then again he was playing the whole thing as a big bluff to rescue Clara. One of these days they might learn not to let him be President ... Jan 4, 2016 at 22:39
  • 2
    Maybe not a coincidence. The azbantium wall was labelled "Home". It makes sense. There are two ways out of the confession dial. One is confessing, the short way, which we'd assume would deliver him to the Time Lord High Council (and prison), and the long way, through the wall. which was designed to lead him to despair, but which no one actually thought he'd choose. It leads "Home". He assumed it'd be his TARDIS, but it could be his ancestral home instead. It could be a feature of all confession dials, something they didn't bother trying to change. Jan 4, 2016 at 23:21

The Doctor wasn't acting according to their plan.

Remember that him spending 4.5 billion years inside there wasn't originally part of the Time Lords' plan. To understand why he stepped out of it into the Gallifreyan desert, we need to think about what they envisaged was going to happen.

Presumably they expect him to give in to the pressure and make his confession within a matter of days. What would have happened then? He knows he didn't time-travel to arrive in the Heaven Sent castle, and the reason he actually turned up on Gallifrey, at nearly the end of the universe, when he emerged was because he'd spent so long in there ("I came the long way round"). If he'd emerged billions of years earlier, after spending only a few days inside, he would've been in the same time zone he started in. Presumably then some time-travel process would have been triggered to take him to Gallifrey, perhaps to a holding cell somewhere.

But because he spent so long in there, he was already in Gallifrey's time zone when he emerged, so no time-travel process was triggered, and he just stepped out into the desert. Perhaps that spot, on Gallifrey at nearly the end of the universe, was actually the same physical location as Trap Street, London, Earth had been so many billions of years before!

  • 4
    The end of the universe won't be in 4.5 billion years since The End of The World is 5 billion years from now. In-universe, the end of the universe happens in 100 trillion years (Utopia). I'm assuming that the time spent inside the confession dial is not coupled to the time outside of it. Time Lord technology and all. Most likely it's the same with the stars seen inside. Which leads to the conclusion that the confession dial was brought to Gallifrey at some point. Jan 4, 2016 at 14:01
  • He did not emerge on Gallifrey at the end of the universe, he went there later using the TARDIS. Jan 4, 2016 at 14:54
  • 2
    "4.5 billion years" made me cringe when I saw this episode. There was no need to "do" that; All they had to do is not to say Gallifrey was "at the end of time" and it would had no effect on the plot. Modern cosmology makes it clear that that is a laughably short amount of time for the end of the Universe (thermodynamic end, which is what is implied in previous Doctor Who episodes). its not even enough time for our sun to run out of fuel. Jan 4, 2016 at 15:28
  • 1
    @confusedwhovian Wibbly wobbly, timey wimey, Moffaty Woffaty ... this show has no continuity :-) Seriously, the dialogue in Hell Bent explicitly says he goes 4.5 billion years into the future and ends up at nearly the end of the universe (see my comment to Dave above). I would agree with you about the time spent in the confession dial not being coupled, BUT: 1) looking at the stars in the confession dial tells him that he's 4000, 200000, 2 billion, etc. years ahead of where he had been; 2) why does he say "I came the long way round"?
    – Rand al'Thor
    Jan 4, 2016 at 16:05
  • 1
    @rand-althor I agree it makes no sense, there's lots of things that make no sense in Moffat, so I often stop fighting them in order to just enjoy the story. I also agree that the Doctor didn't act according to their expectations. But still, for me it doesn't explain it being left in the desert. It's either because Moffat thinks it's cooler that way, or maybe there's a reason somewhere I'd like to know. The thing with the stars, I'd assume the sky started as a copy of where/when he came inside, and went ahead irrespective of where it was moved afterwards. Pocket world simulation. Jan 4, 2016 at 16:30

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