A central plot element of the "new" Doctor Who series is the Time War between the Daleks and the Time Lords.

I never really watched the sixth or seventh Doctors, and haven't seen the eighth doctor movie. Is the "Time War" mentioned in "classic" Who, or is it only introduced with the ninth Doctor? (i.e. presumably happening between the eight and ninth Doctors).


6 Answers 6


The "Time War" (note that the event is more accurately "The Last Great Time War", as there have been at least two others) was introduced in the first episode, Rose, of the 2005 Doctor Who season featuring the 9th Doctor, but the events of the war itself involve earlier incarnations of the Doctor.

In other words, it was introduced by the "new" Doctor Who, but involves the Doctors of the original series and movie.

Doctor Who (the 1996 movie, featuring the 8th Doctor) makes no reference to the "Time War"; however this is not the only storyline featuring the 8th Doctor: there is also a series of books entitled Eighth Doctor Adventures.

The "Time War" is not directly referenced in these, either, but there is a similar (but distinct) plot device (hover for details).

In these books, the Doctor wipes Gallifrey and all but four of the Time Lords from history in order to save them from the Faction Paradox. There are not currently any novels that explain how Gallifrey and the Time Lords are restored before the events of the "Last Great Time War" some time prior to the events of Rose, although the novels do contain an explanation of how this could be achieved. Davies has explicitly said (in Doctor Who Magazine #356) that these are two separate calamities effecting Gallifrey and the Time Lords.

In the audio drama The Apocalypse Element, the 6th Doctor again clashes with the Daleks. Russell T. Davies has said that this may have been an "opening skirmish" of the Time War (in Doctor Who Annual 2006: transcription of dubious legality). This story forms part of the Dalek Empire arc, which include stories about the 5th, 7th and 8th Doctors as well. This production originally aired in 2000, many years after the 5th, 6th, and 7th Doctors ceased appearing in TV episodes, but before the beginning of the episodes featuring the 9th. It is not known whether Davies had these events in mind when he originally developed the Time War, or whether the link is a retcon of sorts.

In the 10th Doctor episode Doomsday, the Doctor states that both the 8th and 9th regenerations fought in the Time War. The reason for the 8th Doctor's regeneration is depicted in Night of the Doctor, where the Doctor decides to become actively involved in the Time War.

More details of the Time Wars and their place in Doctor Who canon can be found on both Wikipedia and the Tardis Index File.

  • 3
    Worth a mention that as of the 50th anniversary special, the exact nature of the 8th Doctor's regeneration and the Doctor's regeneration into the 9th Doctor are revealed.
    – Pharap
    Commented Mar 31, 2015 at 1:10

Russell Davis once mentioned that the Timelords started the Time War with the plot line in Genesis of the Daleks - They sent the Fourth Doctor back to the beginning of the Daleks existence to attempt to prevent their creation. Since then Resurrection of the Daleks had the mention of the Daleks creating a copy of the Doctor and his companions to send to Gallifrey to assassinate the High Council. Finally in Remembrance of the Daleks, Davros boasts to the seventh Doctor that the Daleks shall sweep away Gallifrey....and become the new Lords of Time.

It was certainly building during the classic series.


Before the new Dr. Who series, the Daleks never really waged war on the Time Lords themselves. They tried to attack Earth a few times, but their overall goal was to achieve domination over all living things, not just the Time Lords. Rather single-minded of them.

  • Is "new" from the 8th or the 9th?
    – Tony Meyer
    Commented Jan 21, 2011 at 4:11
  • 2
    I think "new" means the revival of the series, starting in 2005.
    – Zoot
    Commented Jan 21, 2011 at 15:57
  • Are we on the 9th doctor now?
    – Kyle
    Commented Jan 22, 2011 at 16:36
  • 3
    Nope, we're on the 11th.
    – indyK1ng
    Commented Jan 25, 2011 at 20:33
  • 1
    Now they're the 15th.
    – Adamant
    Commented Jun 9 at 18:46

There is a similar plotline in the 8th Doctor novel The Gallifrey chronicles, where Gallifrey is destroyed by the Doctor but it is not due to a clash with the Daleks.

Edit: But at the Time War wikipedia page, it states that Russell T. Davies has said that these are two different things, but Lance Parkin has said that they may be the same event, the Doctor being there twice (overwriting history of somesuch, with the same outcome).


I believe it was between the two series. Though it was not mentioned in the 96 movie, other time lords stopped appearing in episodes in the new incarnation (with the exception of the master). This implies that they must have died out sometime between the ending of the 7th Doctor's time and the beginning of the 9th's. The War Doctor also wears similar clothes to the 8th and 9th Doctors, so the time war was most likely in that time-frame. Also, the Time Lords and Daleks had previously gotten into many battles, which could have been a reason for the wars start (i.e. the 4th Doctor trying to prevent the daleks' creation). Hope this was helpful.


As far as I can tell, the first time a Time War is mentioned is in Dr Who Monthly around 1980, check out here. It was quite an interesting story but was set before the first Doctor left Gallifrey.

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