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I've read several posts and I've seen one that says before it was Eleven's turn to take part in the events of 'Day of the Doctor', Gallifrey was most certainly destroyed, and when it came to his turn he re-wrote history and saved Gallifrey. But I've rewatched 'Day of the Doctor' recently and the War Doctor asks if he'll remember saving Gallifrey and the Doctor says no. So I'm a bit confused, I don't want to think that the War Doctor or the 10th Doctor have lost their memories after saving Gallifrey and their life of saying they destroyed Gallifrey was a lie. So did they really remember?

  • I wish people would leave a comment explaining negative votes. Especially for new users. – user46509 Mar 31 '16 at 15:24
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    @ATB I didn't downvote, but I imagine this question was downvoted because it's almost trivially answerable just from the transcript of the episode in question. But there's still some interesting discussion to be had around this issue, so instead of downvoting I posted a long answer. – Rand al'Thor Mar 31 '16 at 15:42
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Eleven remembers, but War and Ten don't.

From the transcript of Day of the Doctor (emphasis mine):

WAR DOCTOR: I won't remember this, will I?
DOCTOR 11: The time streams are out of sync. You can't retain it, no.
WAR DOCTOR: So I won't remember that I tried to save Gallifrey rather than burn it. I'll have to live with that. But for now, for this moment, I am the Doctor again. Thank you.
[...]
DOCTOR 10: I won't remember either, so you might as well tell me.
DOCTOR 11: Tell you what?
DOCTOR 10: Where it is we're going that you don't want to talk about.

This always happens when more than one Doctor share an adventure together: only the most recent one can retain the memories of it. Out of universe, this has to happen because otherwise all but the oldest Doctor would be able to remember everything that happened in that adventure and it wouldn't be interesting. In-universe, it's explained by this conceit of "the time streams are out of sync", which is more or less a "wibbly-wobbly timey-wimey" explanation.

The War Doctor and the Tenth Doctor don't retain their memories of what really happened to Gallifrey after the Tenth and Eleventh Doctors showed up. That means the last thing the War Doctor remembers is going to the barn with the Moment with the intention of destroying Gallifrey, and he will believe that's what he did. He'll keep this belief all through his time as the Ninth and Tenth Doctors (excluding his brief time as the Tenth Doctor meeting the War and Eleventh, as seen in this episode), and through his time as the Eleventh Doctor right up to the events of this episode.

It has to be that way. All the things we saw in the previous episodes need to still have happened, and many of them only happened because the Doctor (Ninth, Tenth, or Eleventh) believed that he'd destroyed Gallifrey. That belief changed him and shaped who he was for all those years and centuries. If history was changed and the old him knew it had been changed, he wouldn't have been the same person and many of the events of Series 1-7 might not have happened at all, or at least they would have happened differently. In order for what we know of the Doctor's timeline to still be valid, the Tenth and War Doctors have to forget the events of Day of the Doctor.

  • Another example where the older doctor forgets would be useful – user46509 Mar 31 '16 at 16:51
  • @ATB It would, but I can't find one! I've just checked the transcripts of The Two Doctors, The Three Doctors, and The Five Doctors, to no avail. – Rand al'Thor Mar 31 '16 at 17:06
  • @DominicWilson You're welcome. If this solved your question, you can accept it by clicking the checkmark on the left :-) – Rand al'Thor Mar 31 '16 at 17:29
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    There are counter-examples: the first two Doctors seemed to remember meeting each other and 3 in The Three Doctors when they met again in The Five Doctors. 10 remembering what he witnessed as 5 was central to Time Crash. – Politank-Z Mar 31 '16 at 19:00
  • how come only matt smith can remember saving gallifrey with his past selfs but tennet and hurt have to forget the events of Day of the Doctor. dont get it re edit it please – Andrew Casali Apr 5 '16 at 1:43

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