From episode 239 "The Name of the Doctor": inside The Doctor's grave, we are shown a beam of light which is said to be "the scar tissue" of his journey through time. The Doctor describes the light as both his past and his future.

CLARA: What's that?

DOCTOR: What were you expecting, a body? Bodies are boring. I've had loads of them. Nah, that's not what my tomb is for.


CLARA: Doctor, explain. What is that?

DOCTOR: The tracks of my tears.

SIMEON: Less poetry, Doctor. Just tell them.

DOCTOR: Time travel is damage. It's like a tear in the fabric of reality. That is the scar tissue of my journey through the universe. My path through time and space from Gallifrey to Trenzalore.

*(He zaps it with his sonic screwdriver. Overlapping clips, sorry if I missed any.) *

DOCTOR 1 [OC]: Have you ever thought what it's like to be wanderers in the fourth dimension?

DOCTOR 4 [OC]: Do I have the right?

DOCTOR 6 [OC]: Daleks, Cybermen, they're still in the nursery compared to us.

DOCTOR 2 [OC]: There are corners of the universe that have bred the most dangerous things.

DOCTOR 9 [OC]: You were fantastic. Absolutely fantastic.

DOCTOR 10 [OC]: I'm the Doctor. I'm from Gallifrey in the constellation of Kasterborous

DOCTOR 11 [OC]: Hello, Stonehenge!

DOCTOR: My own personal time tunnel. All the days,

DOCTOR 3 [OC]: It was the daisiest daisy I'd ever seen.

DOCTOR: Even the ones that I, er, even the ones that I haven't lived yet.

Why is his grave his entire timeline from Hartnell to Smith, all of his adventures in his 13 faces and his future and not a body? Why can't the Doctor enter his timeline? What ones he haven't lived yet is he referring to? Why did the Great Intelligence think the best way to destroy the Doctor is his timeline?

  • You have too many questions here. I would suggest you divide them up. – Rogue Jedi Mar 24 '16 at 3:35
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    Those are great questions. Unfortunately, I don't think you'll find an answer beyond "it's all timey-wimey". – tilley31 Mar 24 '16 at 4:01
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    We'll be happy to answer our questions (to the best of our ability; the nature of Doctor Who is such that not all questions have satisfying answers), but you're asking a lot of them in a single post, which is something we discourage – Jason Baker Mar 24 '16 at 4:54
  • so which questions should i keep and wich should i get rid off – Andrew Casali Mar 24 '16 at 13:49
  • Ask as many as you care to, but only one per post. Cut off the last paragraph after the first sentence and it's a valid (albeit possibly unanswerable for us) question. I suggest checking out the Tour to get a better idea of how to ask (and answer) questions here. – Meat Trademark Mar 30 '16 at 8:06

Why is his grave a timeline, as opposed to a body?

Because it just is. This is pretty much a Time Lord attribute. It is implied that once they use up their 13 regenerations and die for good (well, that's how it should happen), they leave a record of their timestream behind.

According to the Doctor:

Time travel is damage. It's like a tear in the fabric of reality.

This is the "scar" that the Doctor refers to. His "body" is simply the collected residue of his journey through time and space (in his first set of regenerations, anyway).

Why can't the Doctor enter his timeline?

Well, clearly he can. All we are told about the dangers of doing so is that it would risk the collapse of his timestream. Why is this different from all the other times he crossed over his own timeline, or even met himself? Wibbly-wobbly, timey-wimey, dependingonthewriter-shmependingonthewriter.

Why did the Great Intelligence believe that the best way to destroy the Doctor was his timeline?

Because this would erase every victory that the Doctor had ever had, whereas attempting to kill him at any given point in time might (a) fail and (b) not undo all his victories. The Great Intelligence presumably viewed this as a more complete form of victory. Of course, this would have destroyed the universe, but y'know, past, present, future, all are one in Yog-Sothoth, so....

Which lives has the Doctor not yet lived?

The Doctor is not talking about his regenerations after Matt Smith's doctor. He is not yet aware that he will receive an extra cycle of regenerations, nor would that show up in his "body" (since that is the residue of a Time Lord's normal full allotment.

The Doctor refers specifically to the days that he has not yet lived, not the lives that he has not yet lived. He believes that he will live many more days, before meeting his end on Trenzalore, but not receive another regeneration. This might not have occurred, I suppose, if the Great Intelligence had succeeded in destroying the Doctor's personal timeline.

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    The Great Intelligence's plan was to interfere with the Doctor's entire history, and break his life beyond repair. This was the opportunity afforded by the Doctor's "scar". The problem with the Doctor entering it himself is because you are what your past experiences have made you. Interfering with your own past changes you, and how you interact with your past, changing you, in one big infinite regression of paradoxes. Only because the Doctor is a Time Lord would he know how to tread softly so as not to destroy himself, but even then, it was incredibly dangerous. – John Sensebe Mar 24 '16 at 20:00
  • I think the last part of this question is the most important part, 'What ones haven't lived yet is he referring to? ' DOCTOR: Even the ones that I, er, even the ones that I haven't lived yet. – sfhq_sf Mar 25 '16 at 0:35
  • I was confused by this episode too, great answer. – sfhq_sf Mar 25 '16 at 1:37

I liked Jonah's answer but, to clarify on why it's a timeline, listen to what the Doctor himself said

DOCTOR: Time travel is damage. It's like a tear in the fabric of reality. That is the scar tissue of my journey through the universe. My path through time and space from Gallifrey to Trenzalore.

So think of it like threads. Every time he travels through time, he picks up another thread. And given the longevity of Timelords, that really adds up over time. So you essentially have the terminus of thousands of these threads of time travel. And, based on the quote above, it sounds like this is a cumulative effect (i.e. if a companion were to spend their entire life traveling with the Doctor then they too might produce a smaller version of this rift).

This is also one-stop shop to reach every point in time touched by the Doctor. When Clara jumped in, she too reached all these points in time. This explains why she keeps reappearing in the Doctor's timeline (remember, Clara first appears, and presumably dies, as Oswin in Asylum of the Daleks, where she's been converted into a Dalek).

As to why he can't enter his own timeline, it's the same reason he can't just go back in time and tell himself what's about to happen. Jumping into a nexus of everything you've ever done is a dangerous opportunity to change something critical and undo... well, everything (most recently there's a scene in Before the Flood where the Doctor has to hide from his past self).

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