I was regressing to childhood and watching old Doctor Who, and I just got to the episode "Earthshock" and the followup in "Time-flight". Tegan basically asks "why don't we go back in time and save Adric?" and the Doctor has a fit.

Normally the show just passes over this sort of thing without comment. Now, I realize that Adric's death is supposed to be really shocking, discombobulating everyone so much that even the Doctor misplaces his theme song! So I guess the writers felt they couldn't just pass without comment in this case, except it's time travel, so there's usually no logic to be found. So the Doctor just emoted his way around it.

Okay, fine, that's the real answer. (EDIT: Yes, also, Adric was a smeghead. Understood, but this isn't Red Dwarf...)

But from what I've seen of this website, you lot are more creative that that :-) So, in-universe, and asking about this specific case, why not?

I get things like: you can't change history, fixpoint cross your own timeline etc etc etc. But why is this such a case? How does the Doctor even know Adric did in fact die? We, the viewers, were shown it, sure. But the Doctor and his surviving companions (Tegan and Nyssa) could not have witnessed that. They only saw the freighter from the outside. They inferred that he died. But how do they actually know he didn't escape at the last minute? And what paradox could result if it was them who popped back in time a bit more to allow him to escape, given that it would not actually change what they had witnessed earlier?

ADDED: about "fixed points in time": the Doctor was not even on board the freighter, in fact, the only witness to Adric's death was Adric. Adric completely failed to affect anything, and his body, and all other evidence that he was there at all, was totally vapourized. Really, this sounds like an example of something that ought not to be a Fixed Point in Time, right?

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    Basically, we just trust that the Doctor knows a whole lot more about time travel than we do.
    – Adamant
    Oct 28, 2016 at 7:15
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    @adamant I thought it was because he's a smeghead. No, sorry, wrong show. Yes, you're right, that's the real answer to all the doctor who time travel questions, but despite that sometimes people come up with clever or amusing answers anyway. Oct 28, 2016 at 7:36
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    I'd assumed that perhaps the fossilised remains of Adric were unearthed millions of years later, perhaps in the 26th Century or something, and formed the basis of a cure to a space plague that would have wiped out all life on Earth. Or... maybe not.
    – Wallnut
    Oct 28, 2016 at 8:36
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    Why would you want to save Adric?
    – user46509
    Oct 28, 2016 at 12:05
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    @Po-ta-toe - So she could push Donna out of the door when she's not looking.
    – Valorum
    Oct 28, 2016 at 12:13

1 Answer 1


He tried, but the TARDIS was damaged

From a plot summary:

The Doctor tries to pilot the TARDIS back to the bridge to rescue Adric, but the controls have been damaged during the fight.

Adric refused to leave because he thought he could defeat the lock. The Doctor couldn't reach him in time, so the ship hit the Earth. All Adric had to do was run to an escape pod and launch, and he would have lived.

Assuming your next question is "But why couldn't he go back after fixing the TARDIS to rescue Adric at the last second?", the answer is he couldn't, because by that point he would be interfering with a fixed point in time AND crossing his own timeline, which is not only dangerous, but something the 5th Doctor never would have done. Even later Doctors wouldn't have tried it, and 10th thought he could make the laws of time obey him at one point.

We have to remember here that the 5th Doctor was the most passive and pacificial of all the Doctors. He wouldn't have risked anything, even to save a companion. 5th Doctor didn't go back to save Adric for the same reasons that 11th didn't go back to save Amy and Rory, didn't want to risk destroying the universe via some kind of temporal paradox.

Bonus Out-Of-Universe answer:

The producers felt the character of Adric wasn't working, so they planned to kill him off before Tom Baker had even regenerated. Earthshock is the "Adric's Death" story arc.

And regarding the "Went back to watch the moon landings 4 times" thing, that should never have been in the show. Even with 10th's devil-may-care, "The laws of time will obey me" attitude, he wouldn't have risked going back twice, let alone 4 times, to do something as trivial as watch the moon landings. It's completely out of character and simply poor writing, but if you look at who wrote the "Blink" episode, it's not all that surprising.

  • "because by that point he would be interfering with a fixed point in time AND crossing his own timeline" how is he crossing his own timeline? How does fixing the Tardis or the time it takes to do so make it a fixed point in time or otherwise change anything. Oct 28, 2016 at 18:54
  • The Doctor wasn't on board the frieghter at the time. In fact, Adric failed to affect anything, and the only witness to Adric's death was Adric (and the viewers). Seems like the least "fixed" of any point in time. Oct 28, 2016 at 19:00

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