8

In the last episode of season 9, the Doctor said he needed to erase Clara's memory. And after Clara said that she reversed the Doctor's device, he used it anyway. Why did someone (the Doctor or Clara) have to lose their memory? And how much of the Doctor's memory was erased?

8

Because it wasn't safe for the two of them to be together any more.

The Doctor himself says (when recounting his adventures to Clara in the diner, when he doesn't know who she is):

DOCTOR: There was only one way to keep Clara safe. I had to wipe some of her memory.
CLARA: Of what?
DOCTOR: Of me.

And later, when speaking to Ashildr at the end of the universe, he explains why (emphasis mine):

DOCTOR: Clara's my friend.
ASHILDR: I know. And you're willing to risk all of Time and Space because you miss her. One wonders what the pair of you will get up to next.
DOCTOR: Nothing. Nothing at all. I know I went too far. I get it. That's why I'm doing what I'm doing.
ASHILDR: And what would that be?
DOCTOR: I'm taking her back to Earth. Somewhere safe, somewhere out of the way. I'm going to wipe her memory of every last detail of me.

He hoped this would enable her to escape the curse of the Raven, to become a new person rather than the Doctor-substitute she'd morphed into during her years with him, to regain her pulse and live a normal human life. But it didn't work out that way.

When Clara "reversed the polarity" of the neural block, we can assume it did exactly the same to the Doctor as it was going to do to her: it wiped his memories of her. It was very selective, leaving his memories of events (so that he'd still be the same person even after the wipe) but making sure he'd never be able to find or recognise Clara again. Later on, in the diner, we see that he remembers a lot of what they went through together, but nothing about her personally, what she looked like or anything. The only memories he's lost are those of Clara as a person - he still remembers all of what they did together, and of course everything from his life before he met her.

DOCTOR: When something goes missing, you can always recreate it by the hole it left. I know her name was Clara. I know we travelled together. I know that there was an Ice Warrior on a submarine and a mummy on the Orient Express. I know we sat together in the Cloisters and she told me something very important, but I have no idea what she said. Or what she looked like. Or how she talked. Or laughed. There's nothing there. Just nothing.

  • he remembers a lot of what they went through together, but nothing about her personally, what she looked like or anything. The memory wipe was very selective, leaving his memories of events (so that he'd still be the same person even after the wipe) but making sure he'd never be able to find or recognise Clara again: i dont get what memories does he still remember did he still remember does he still remember all his adventures with her as the 11th and 12th doctor from Asylum of the Daleks to Hell Bent does he still remember all of the adventures as his past regenerations (Hartnell - Smith) – Andrew Casali Mar 26 '16 at 15:47
  • @user63430 Yes. See the quote at the end: he remembers travelling with Clara, meeting an ice warrior on a submarine and a mummy on the Orient Express and talking to her in the Cloisters. And of course he hasn't lost any memories from previous regenerations back to Hartnell! The only memories he's lost are those of Clara as a person - not of what they did together, nor of anything before he met her. – Rand al'Thor Mar 26 '16 at 15:59
  • so he still remembers all his adventures with her as the 11th and 12th doctor from Asylum of the Daleks to Hell Bent but only doesnt rember her face just blank on her face only the times he just looking at her – Andrew Casali Mar 26 '16 at 16:04
  • i saw two videos called Hell Bent || Doctor's POV and Forgetting Clara Oswald - Doctor Who that made it look like the memories off all his adventures with her as the 11th and 12th doctor from Asylum of the Daleks to Hell Bent were erased that made me not happy check them out and tell me what you think – Andrew Casali Mar 26 '16 at 16:23
  • him still remembering all of the adventures as his past regenerations (Hartnell - Smith) after using the nerual block explains him rembering being the diner with amy and rory and recognizing river in the Christmas special right – Andrew Casali Mar 26 '16 at 16:27
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He explains this in the episode itself:

Doctor: When you wake up, you will have forgotten me. You'll have forgotten we ever even met.

Clara: And why would I want that?

Doctor: Because it's the only way. That stuff in your head, the image of me, they could use it to find you.

Doctor Who Series 9 Episode 12: "Hell Bent"

However, the fact that he's willing to make the compromise (to potentially erase his own memory instead of hers) hints at the real reason: he and Clara are basically perfect for each other, and are incredibly dangerous for it. He gives this answer a little later on, as well:

Doctor: You and me together. Look how far I went, for fear of losing you. This has to stop. One of us has to go.

[...]

Doctor: It's okay. It's okay. I went too far. I broke all my own rules. I became the Hybrid. This is right. I accept it.

Doctor Who Series 9 Episode 12: "Hell Bent"

Which ties nicely to a comment made earlier by Ashildir/Me:

Me: What if the Hybrid wasn't one person, but two?

Doctor: Two?

Me: A dangerous combination of a passionate and powerful Time Lord and a young woman so very similar to him. Companions who are willing to push each other to extremes.

Doctor: She's my friend. She's just my friend.

[...]

Me: I know. And you're willing to risk all of time and space because you miss her. One wonders what the pair of you will get up to next.

Doctor Who Series 9 Episode 12: "Hell Bent"

  • I think the quotes I found are better :-) What he says to Clara herself isn't as reliable as what he says when he thinks she can't hear him. Congrats on the 18-second ninja though (because I was typing up a longer answer)! – Rand al'Thor Jan 8 '16 at 0:19
  • @randal'thor Perhaps, but the expressed sentiment is the same (the bad lie notwithstanding) – Jason Baker Jan 8 '16 at 0:20
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    IMO, the " they could use it to find you" bit isn't entirely a lie. He really does want to protect her, and she'll never be completely safe or completely human as long as she has those memories in her head. (See the paragraph just below the quotes in my answer.) – Rand al'Thor Jan 8 '16 at 0:23
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    @randal'thor It's probably true, but there's no sensible way it can be his reason. If that was really the reason, the compromise he agrees to (whether it was genuine or not; there is a theory that he still remembers Clara, and was lying about everything) is totally nonsensical – Jason Baker Jan 8 '16 at 0:25

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