The 4th Doctor becomes President of Gallifrey in the Invasion of Time storyline. As far as I can recall, he doesn't explicitly vacate this office, but he certainly isn't President by the time of The Five Doctors.

Does the TV series (or any novels) explain what happens to his Presidency?

  • 6
    I think destroying the Time Lords and Gallifrey effectively ended his Presidency if nothing else had already.
    – Lekarz Kto
    Commented May 28, 2011 at 17:35
  • Presidents of Gallifrey have a standard 4-year term limit, which is not at all complicated by their mastery of time-travel 😬 Commented May 9, 2019 at 9:24

4 Answers 4


In short: The Doctor became 407th Lord President of Gallifrey in The Invasion of Time, but most likely lost the presidency at the end of that storyline - he apparently forgot, and so was succeeded by Chancellor Borusa. However, he is again President later, losing the office some unspecified time before The Trial of a Time Lord. He might have been President a third time, but no details are known about that (yet).

In long:

In The Deadly Assassin, the (4th) Doctor is one of two candidates:

GOTH: You're keeping a close watch on the Doctor, I hope?

SPANDRELL: Someone is with him all the time.

GOTH: Good. You know that, apart from myself, he is the only other candidate in this election?

SPANDRELL: Is that so.

This is followed by the events of The Invasion of Time, where the (4th) Doctor takes office:

BORUSA: Doctor!

DOCTOR: I am here to claim my legal right.


DOCTOR: I claim the inheritance of Rassilon. I claim the titles, honour, duty and obedience of all colleges. I claim the Presidency of the Council of Time Lords.


DOCTOR: You don't dispute my claim, then?

BORUSA: No, only the arrogance with which you present it.


BORUSA: I'll do what I can to persuade the Cardinals to accept you as their President.

DOCTOR: I am the President! No persuasion is necessary.

BORUSA: Politeness dictates

DOCTOR: I am the President! Is there another candidate legally?

BORUSA: No. That was an unfortunate oversight.

However, by the end of this story, the Doctor has (seemingly) forgotten about this:

BORUSA: Your Excellence.

DOCTOR: Excellence? Excellence?

DOCTOR: Is this some kind of a joke, Borusa? It's not like you to make jokes.

BORUSA: Have you forgotten your induction?

DOCTOR: My induction?

BORUSA: The Vardans?

DOCTOR: (sotto) Vardans.

BORUSA: The Sontarans?

DOCTOR: (sotto) Sontarans.

BORUSA: Doctor, you saved Gallifrey.

DOCTOR: I have? Oh. Well, what do you think of that, Leela?

LEELA: I think you've gone mad.

BORUSA: He remembers nothing of it. It is the wisdom of Rassilon.

That episode was the end of a season (the final Leela episode), and either he lost the office between then and the next episode, or the writers also forgot. When we (and the 4th Doctor) are introduced to Romana in The Ribos Operation, she says:

ROMANA: My name is Romanadvoratnelundar.

DOCTOR: I'm so sorry about that. Is there anything we can do?

ROMANA: The President of the Supreme Council sent me.

Presumably the "Supreme" Council is the same High Council. The Doctor does say:

DOCTOR: That information is confidential! That President. I should have thrown him to the Sontarans when I had the chance.

I could certainly believe that this is an tongue-in-cheek reference to the himself, so it could be that the Doctor as President sent Romana to himself, except, that in The Stones of Blood (briefly mentioned in The Armageddon Factor as well) we find out that:

DOCTOR: Romana, you were not sent on this mission by the President of the Supreme Council.


DOCTOR: No, no, you weren't.

ROMANA: But, I saw. He told me. ... Well, what am I doing here?

DOCTOR: The voice you just heard and the being you saw in the shape of the President was the White Guardian, or to be more accurate, the Guardian of Light and Time as opposed to the Guardian of Darkness, sometimes called the Black Guardian. They can assume any shape or form they wish.

By the time of Arc of Infinity, Borusa is the 408th President:

BORUSA: You too have regenerated.

DOCTOR: Indeed, President Borusa.

In The Five Doctors, Borusa loses the presidency, and the (5th) Doctor is returned to office as the 409th President:

FLAVIA: You are safe, Doctor. I feared President Borusa had... Where is President Borusa?

DOCTOR: Unavailable. It seems the legend about Rassilon is true.

FLAVIA: You must make a full statement to the High Council.

DOCTOR: Oh, must I?

FLAVIA: It can form part of your inaugural address.

DOCTOR: My what?

FLAVIA: Doctor, you have evaded your responsibilities for far too long. The disqualification of President Borusa leaves a gap at the very summit of the Time Lord hierarchy. There is only one who can take this place. Yet again, it is my duty and my pleasure to inform you that the full Council has exercised its emergency powers to appoint you to the position of President, to take office immediately.

DOCTOR: Oh, no.

FLAVIA: This is a summons no Time Lord dare refuse. To disobey the will of the High Council will attract the severest penalties.

DOCTOR: Very well, Chancellor Flavia. You will return to Gallifrey immediately and summon the High Council. You have full deputy powers until I return. I shall travel in my Tardis.

FLAVIA: Oh, but Doctor -

DOCTOR: You will address me by my proper title. I am President, am I not? You will obey my commands. (To Tegan and Turlough) Into the Tardis. (To the guards) You will escort Chancellor Flavia back to her duties.

At some point after that, he is deposed. He (and we) find this out in The Trial of a Time Lord:

DOCTOR: I am Lord President of Gallifrey. You can't put me on trial.

INQUISITOR: Doctor, since you willfully neglected the responsibility of your great office, you were deposed.

DOCTOR: Oh. Is that legal?

INQUISITOR: Perfectly.

In the 4th part of this storyline, generally known as The Ultimate Foe, the (6th) Doctor is asked to stand again, but declines:

INQUISITOR: Now then, once law and order have been restored, a new High Council will need to be elected. Can I persuade you to stand for Lord President again?

DOCTOR: Ah. Ah ha. I've a better idea.

MEL: He's going to suggest you stand.

DOCTOR: Indeed I am. And were there such a thing as an intergalactic postal vote, you'd have mine.

Later, the 7th Doctor calls himself "President-Elect" in Remembrance of the Daleks:

DOCTOR: Ah, there you are. This is the Doctor, President Elect of the High Council of Time Lords, Keeper of the legacy of Rassilon, Defender of the Laws of Time, Protector of Gallifrey. I call upon you to surrender the Hand of Omega and return to your customary time and place.

EMPEROR: Ah, Doctor. You have changed again. Your appearance is as inconstant as your intelligence. You have confounded me for the last time!

So it's possible that he was President a third time (or possible he was stretching the truth a little, or that in the Dalek's timeline he was still President-Elect, but not in his, or that he was just using the titles the Emperor would be familiar with, since he had regenerated since their last encounter).


In the Collin Baker story (stories?) Trial of a Time Lord, it is revealed that he had been deposed (probably because he wasn't doing his as President).

So... No, they didn't forget it. But let's be honest, he's not a good president. He's never at work.

  • 3
    "But let's be honest, he's not a good president. He's never at work." -- Dunno.. that could be a heck of a president :) Depends on his nature and the support structure around him.. There have been a few I can think of that would have been much better as figureheads that never actually came into the office. :)
    – K-H-W
    Commented Jan 12, 2012 at 4:25
  • I was going to say that... but held my tongue. :) Commented Jan 12, 2012 at 4:36
  • Thanks. I took this clue and did some more research and added a fleshed out answer.
    – Tony Meyer
    Commented Jan 16, 2012 at 10:51
  • Your answer is very good. I have long lost the tapes of those episodes. And not bought all the DVDs. Plus Trial had a wacky ending (and yes, I know why). :) Commented Jan 17, 2012 at 3:46
  • I've seen most episodes 1st through 5th Doctors and all 8th+, but hardly any 6th or 7th, so I wasn't aware of the latter parts. The Five Doctors was one of my favourites as a kid, and I watched it many times, but somehow I didn't recall the ending part about the Presidency at all.
    – Tony Meyer
    Commented Jan 18, 2012 at 12:09

To my knowledge it has never been expressly visited again, this was a story from 1978, they just used it as a plot device and forgot all about it. At the end of the episode The Doctor left along with K-9 MkII, and the next episode opens almost directly after it. Technically I guess he is still president for that period of time unless the title was removed for absenteeism. The finer points of Gallifreyan law aren't my strong point.

Unless some writer picks up on this and ties up that plot point I guess we will never know for sure.


Technically he never retired, he just left and never came back leaving I think it was Romana as second in charge. With Gallifrey in it's current state, he is still the President, just... with difficulties.

I didn't want to say much more incase someone hasn't seen 'The Day of The Doctor'.

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