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How much affinity does the Doctor have towards Gallifrey and its inhabitants?

I'm a little bit confused as I started watching the show in 2005 with the Eccleston era. Here is the information I have:

SPOILERS ! (duh)

  • Season 1: "Don't you think I want to go back and save them?"

    Apparently the Doctor is missing Gallifrey and he feels alone as the unique member of his species.

  • Season 4, The End of Time: "They must not come back, they will bring back the Nightmare Child"

    Ok now this is weird: Gallifrey is now a threat?! Sure, appearing near Earth is a threat anyway but the Doctor seems to mention a lot of elements about the Time Lords themselves.

  • Season 8, Death in Heaven: Missy gives the Doctor coordinates to go to Gallifrey.

    We can see the Doctor going to Missy's coordinates, seeing nothing and slamming his fists on the TARDIS commands. Anger? Deception?

  • Season 9, Hell Bent: The Doctor arrives at Gallifrey... and stays in a peasant's house while military and high council members come to greet him.

    We see later in the episode that he is troubled by the death of Clara and wants to save her, therefore triggering the prophecy about "Me" destroying Gallifrey.

So what is the purpose of the Doctor trying to reach Gallifrey?

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    The Doctor is very sad that he had to lock Gallifrey and the Daleks into a time bubble. He's quite keen to get them back, but not at the cost of re-igniting the Time War, something that'll result in the entire universe being engulfed in unpleasantry. – Valorum Feb 20 '16 at 10:44
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    He likes Gallifrey. He doesn’t like a lot of the other Time Lords (who are, apparently, a minority of the population of Gallifrey). – Paul D. Waite Feb 20 '16 at 13:48
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In short — the Doctor likes Gallifrey, and most of its people. But he doesn’t like the Time Lords so much, for various reasons.


Taking your points one-by-one (and, as you rightly say, SPOILERS):

  • Season 1: "Don't you think I want to go back and save them?"

    In the Time War, the Doctor was forced to end the conflict by destroying both sides (the Daleks and Gallifrey) to save the rest of the universe. Ideally, he’d like to have not destroyed his entire planet.

  • Season 4, The End of Time: "They must not come back, they will bring back the Nightmare Child"

    The Time Lords, led by Rassilon, are a threat. Their solution to the Time War was to end time, destroying the rest of the universe to save themselves. They’re now trying to implement that solution. The Doctor is not down with that.

  • Season 7, The Day of the Doctor (you missed this bit)

    All thirteen Doctors manage to go back to the Time War and end it without destroying Gallifrey. At the end of the episode, it’s established that Gallifrey and the Time Lords on it are somehow locatable in our universe again.

  • Season 7, The Time of the Doctor (this bit too)

    The Time Lords are discovered, whispering through a wee gap between universes at Trenzalore, asking the Doctor to confirm that it’s safe for them to return. It’s not, because all the universe’s bad guys have come to Trenzalore to destroy the Time Lords if they return.

    The Doctor nearly dies forever defending Trenzalore from the bad guys, but Clara convinces the Time Lords to send him a new set of regenerations, and he uses some of that regeneration energy to repel all of the bad guys and thus end the conflict.

  • Season 8, Death in Heaven: Missy gives the Doctor coordinates to go to Gallifrey.

    Yup. She claims that Gallifrey did return to our universe after Trenzalore, and tells the Doctor where/when. Unfortunately, it seems that she was lying, as there’s nothing at those co-ordinates. The Doctor is sad, because, y’know, he still misses his people.

  • Season 9, Hell Bent: The Doctor arrives at Gallifrey... and stays in a peasant's house while military and high council members come to greet him.

    Yup. Turns out Gallifrey hid itself at the end of time. The Doctor likes Gallifrey, and its people. As we saw in Season 8, Listen, the peasant’s house appears to be where he grew up before he became a Time Lord.

    But he doesn’t like the Time Lords, because of their tendency to be a bit militaristic and not care much about the rest of the universe — and probably I guess also because they just locked him in a Confession Dial for billions of years to try to force him to reveal what The Hybrid is. That’s how he finally got back to Gallifrey.

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    "their tendency to be a bit militaristic" - was this true even before the LGTW, or were they more like cloistered academics back then? (Disclaimer: not an Old Who watcher.) – Rand al'Thor Feb 20 '16 at 14:09
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    "[10th] DOCTOR: That's how I choose to remember them, the Time Lords of old. But then they went to war. An endless war, and it changed them right to the core. You've seen my enemies, Wilf. The Time Lords are more dangerous than any of them." (I haven't seen the episode this comes from, just took the quote from Ixrec in chat!) – Rand al'Thor Feb 20 '16 at 14:12
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    Nitpicking aside, nice answer! The bit at the end ("The Doctor likes Gallifrey, and its people. But he doesn’t like the Time Lords") could be turned into a header, since it summarises the whole thing very well. – Rand al'Thor Feb 20 '16 at 14:14
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    Thank you for your answer, I missed the Day of the Doctor and the Time of the Doctor because the plot was very confusing (as in scifi.stackexchange.com/questions/47023/…). In fact it's like London : he likes the people and the city but not the military (UNIT, pre-Torchwood,...) – Goufalite Feb 20 '16 at 14:25
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    "and probably I guess also because they just locked him in a Confession Dial for billions of years to try to force him to reveal what The Hybrid is" Haha I giggled lots while reading this answer. Good job – Lightness Races in Orbit Feb 20 '16 at 18:35
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Regarding The End of Time: Gallifrey coming back would break the time-lock, and the Time War would start again.

But Gallifrey is his home, so when there is a way to save them without kick-starting a new war (The Day of the Doctor ) he does it.
Then again he refuses to answer the question on Trenzalore for fear of another war.

So to answer your question, he wants to reach/save Gallifrey given that his doing so doesn't bring on another war.

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