It is awkward for me that the 10th doctor only mentions event which occurred in The Last Great Time War occasionally, but only as dialog. I wonder why the TV show didn't feature the war more. It is known that the Eighth Doctor was involved in the Last Great Time War but it seems that there were no TV episodes featuring him on the Time War. Is it possible that the idea of the Last Great Time War and the destruction of the Timelord race was introduced in the 2005 series intentionally?

For example, from the TARDIS wiki file:

Other horrors and terrors seen in the final days of the war (including the Daleks) were the Deathsmiths of Goth, the Skaro Degradations, the Horde of Travesties, the Could've Been King and his Army of Meanwhiles and Neverweres and the Nightmare Child.

These enemies were never described other than by the Doctor himself, and the Doctor had no intention of talking more about them. It sounds like exaggeration.

The 9th and 10th doctors only mentioned the most important event in the Last Great Time War briefly - that he destroyed all the races in the Last Great Time War in order to end the war.

The whole war was almost transparent to other lower races and some races considered it as a myth.

Is it possible that the Eighth Doctor appears in the classic Doctor Who episodes about the Last Great Time War?

  • I found it interesting that it is possible that Russell T Davis wanted to wipe out all the Timelords other than the Doctor in order to show the importance of the companions of the Doctor. Jan 7, 2013 at 3:44

2 Answers 2


UPDATE: There have now been two episodes, the 50th anniversary special The Day of The Doctor, and the mini-episode "The Night of The Doctor", which deal with the events of the Time War. Both were released after this answer was written.

tl;dr: There are no television episodes that deal with the actual events of the Time War; The Last Great Time War as a concept was constructed for the modern series, and it occurred entirely off-screen in between the movie and the episode "Rose".

We do have some independent confirmation of many of the events that Nine and Ten have talked about (including from Davros, The Master, and Rassilon) and all evidence strongly indicates that the events were every bit as horrible as The Doctor claimed.

A number of classic episodes have subsequently been cited as related to the Time War in order to tie the classic and new series together, but those episodes do not contain any direct references to the Time War itself.

Although the seeds of the Time War apparently stretch back as early as the Fourth Doctor, as far as the events of the actual war, they took place entirely during his Eighth and Ninth incarnations. The Eight Doctor never appeared in a television episode, but even if you include the movie, the last he appeared "on screen" Gallifrey was alive and well and the Time War had not yet happened. The next time we see The Doctor on-screen, the Time War is over and he has regenerated (possibly very recently, as in "Rose" he is still seen observing his own appearance in a mirror.)

Most of the concrete information we have about the events of the Time War come from the Tenth Doctor, as he deals with other survivors of the war. He describes certain events that have already happened, but we do not see any of them. The closest we come to seeing the actual Time War is the Tenth Doctor's final episode, "The End of Time", where we are privvy to a war council including Rassilon and the other members of the High Council, just before The Doctor destroys them with The Moment. When the Time Lords attempt to escape the time lock, they bring many of the horrible things from the Time War with them, and there's pretty solid evidence that The Doctor was absolutely not exaggerating how dangerous those things were and why they had to be locked away.

However, while we never get to see the war itself, Russell T Davies has made an attempt to tie classic Who stories into the War. In particular, "Genesis of the Daleks" has been cited as the "opening salvo" of the war. In that episode, the Time Lords send the Fourth Doctor (and Sarah Jane) to Skaro to try to prevent Davros from actually creating the Daleks. This is the closest classic Who ever comes to anything like the Time War -- the reason the Time Lords send The Doctor to Skaro is because they have seen a future where The Daleks destroy Gallifrey. (There's a nod to this episode in the Tenth Doctor episode "Stolen Earth" when Davros recognizes Sarah Jane.)

The BBC has put together an audio documentary, The Dalek Conquest, that attempts to tie that episode and many other classic Doctor Who Dalek-based episodes into a coherent storyline that leads up to the Time War. It includes references to episodes dating back to Series 2, with the Daleks trying to kill the First Doctor, with the implication that the Dalek's have been planning this war since the beginning. Again, none of those episodes actually contain references to or depictions of the Time War, but they do represent some attempt by the BBC to tie old and new canon together (as much as you can with Doctor Who.)

There are also some other audio stories, graphic novels, and almost certainly some regular novels dealing with these events, but I haven't dealt with those much personally so I don't know exactly.

On a side note, there is a series of books dealing with the Eight Doctor's adventures that includes an epic conflict that is referred to as a Time War. According to Word of God, this is a Time War, but is not The Last Great Time War - it is more properly called the "Second War in Heaven" and is not the conflict that results in the destruction of Gallifrey.


In the series of books featuring the Eighth Doctor, he is involved in a Time War with more than just the Daleks. In fact, Gallifrey is said to have been destroyed by both the Eight Doctor and the Ninth Doctor, which may or may not be a contradiction, as they're time travelers.

But the novels are of nebulous canonicity, so it's hard to say whether the writing teams for either the Classic or New series of Doctor Who took any of that in consideration.

To anser the question in the header, YES. According to that same wikia, you can watch the first shots and sorties of the Last Great Time War, starting with the Fourth Doctor serial "Genesis of the Daleks." (This story, by the way, retcons the origin story of the Daleks as was told in the First Doctor serials featuring them as the enemy.)

But no, you won't see any of the Eighth Doctor in any of the shows. He (as played by Paul McGann) was only in the American made-for-TV movie, for which a series never materialized.

  • I wouldn't say Genesis was a retcon. Rather, the Doctor actually changed the origin of the Daleks: as theorized by the authors of the Discontinuity Guide, as a result of the Doctor's meddling, the Daleks were disunited and never quite the threat they were originally. Jan 7, 2013 at 9:29
  • 1
    The Doctor's meddling doesn't change the name of the races involved, nor does it change how the pepper pots move around. As for being never the threat they were, one could argue that every encounter with the Doctor has made them deadlier, more focused. Feb 21, 2013 at 8:03
  • The Time War is indeed said to start with "Genesis of the Daleks", with the Doctor purposely being sent by the Time Lords to interfere in the creation of the Daleks, but it would not really heat up until after the classic era. In "Resurrection of the Daleks", the Daleks planned to replace the Doctor and his companions with robot duplicates, which would then travel to Gallifrey and assassinate the High Council of the Time Lords. In "Remembrance of the Daleks", the Doctor destroys the Daleks' homeworld. These are all acts of war. Mar 21, 2016 at 21:05
  • @JohnSensebe -- it's been a while, but as I recall it, in Remembrance it's actually Davros who destroys Skaro. Admittedly, he was tricked into doing it by the Doctor, but he's the one who pulled the trigger on a stolen device of unknown power, intending to use it to destroy Earth...
    – Jules
    Jun 3, 2016 at 9:34
  • @Jules - Yes, Davros is tricked into destroying Skaro, but the Doctor set up the Hand of Omega to do it. It's like in modern Who when the Doctor gives the evil aliens of the week one last chance before he ruins them, just a little less explicit. Jun 4, 2016 at 20:57

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