15

The Doctor is happy to remind the viewers time and time again that he is "the last of the Time Lords." And we know that The Doctor was, in some way, responsible for the "death" (or entrapment?) of the rest of the Time Lords (see here for example).

But my question is, how is it possible that, among a race of time travelers, there can be a "last" one?

I can understand if somehow all other Time Lords were trapped in another time/dimension/whatever, such that they were incapable of interacting with our universe, but then from our perspective, there would be "Only One" not "The Last." (I hope that makes sense).

Yet, throughout the show we hear reference, not just from The Doctor, to other Time Lords which had interacted with other (non-time traveling) beings in the (linear) past.

Is there an explanation for this?

I'm sure the explanation, if there is one, is very Timey-Wimey.

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    This does raise the question: why doesn't the Doctor go back in time to when there used to be Time Lords, get genetic samples, and then visit a time and place where cloning technology is well-developed? He could re-start the Time Lords as a species. (One might ask why he doesn't just meddle with the past to save the Time Lords, but this has been addressed in-universe: he doesn't dare, as the outcome of the Time War was a close thing and he can't risk his meddling causing the Time Lords to lose the war instead of scoring a Pyrrhic victory.) – steveha Feb 21 '14 at 23:39
17

He is the last of the Time Lords not necessarily in the chronological sense of being the final Time Lord in a long line of them, but in the sense of being the only remaining Time Lord out of a previously large number of them.

The mechanics of the time lock that has trapped the Time Lords, Daleks, and remainder of the horrors of the Time War away is never clearly explained. But we do know that it has not removed the Time Lords completely from history. All of the things that happened "before" the Time War have still occurred, and the most advanced races still remember the Time Lords existence.

However, other than The Doctor, those Time Lords are gone forever; they're been "removed" from the flow of time. Given what most people believe to be true about Time Lords, this means that there probably can never be any more. Once The Doctor dies, the Time Lords as a race/species/group/whatever they are will be extinct. That certainly qualifies him as "the last" of his kind.

  • But he is the last in the "chronological sense," in terms of everyone having memories of other time lords, but never seeing them in the "present". If he was only the last in a non-linear sense, shouldn't we see them popping up throughout time? – Flimzy Jun 23 '13 at 7:20
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    @Flimzy: The Time Lords were a very isolationist society, even if there were others they wouldn't be very prominent. Regardless, I believe the "Time War" had significant and wide ranging effects on the timeline, presumably including drawing every combatant into it. If a time lord had previously visited Earth in 1850 that may never have happened any more. From what we know of the time war in general it rather takes the "timey wimey" notion of regular doctor who and runs away with it--the Doctor uses Timey Wimey as entertainment, the Time War was using it as a weapon. – Phoshi Jun 23 '13 at 11:52
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    @Flimzy I simply meant that he wasn't "the last in a long line of Time Lords", like a descendant, but rather "the last out of a large group of Time Lords", like a survivor. – KutuluMike Jun 23 '13 at 19:35
6

It's important to remember that this is the series that first described time as a big ball of wibbly-wobbly, timey-wimey... stuff.

One way to reckon time would be as a big stack of Gallifreyan personal timelines. This "line" began with the birth of the first Gallifreyan, and continued strictly along the way he (she?) experienced time. Whatever time travelling she did is irrelevant: her moment-to-moment experience is always moving "forward," no matter where those moments might have taken place in "objective" time.

Eventually, this Gallifreyan had children, and when this happened, their own personal timelines began. You could view these timelines like a deck of cards, stacked on top of hers but shifted forward slightly (the time "behind" them being the time before they were born). These children's timelines worked more or less the same way hers did, and when hers died out, theirs continued. They also had children, whose timelines continued to move forward from their own perspective.

As you stack these cards, you start to get something that looks like a leaning tower, and you could see the direction that this tower leans as one way to reckon time. By this reckoning, The Doctor's card juts out further forward than any of the others. He has experienced the cutting-off (the end of experience, i.e. "death") of every other timeline of every other Gallifreyan who lived while he was alive, and as we go forward in his own timeline, no new Gallifreyans can be born.

So in this sense, The Doctor is indeed the last of the Time Lords. His card is the furthest forward in the stack, and at the point he is experiencing, there are no other cards left. It's a very Gallifreyan-centric way of looking at things, being defined solely by the experiences of Gallifreyans, but The Doctor is Gallifreyan, so it makes some sense that he would see things this way.

5

how is it possible that, among a race of time travelers, there can be a "last" one?

"How is it possible that, in a race of people who can move in two dimensions, anyone can possibly be the 'highest?'"

Practical time travel with any possibility for variation requires a second axis of time, perpendicular to the typical flow of which the universe naturally cascades. In "The Day of the Doctor", when the War Doctor saw visions of 10 and 11, he did not see visions from "forward" in time as much as visions "right" in time. (And, that the Moment was able to do that implies at least a third axis of time...)

Conveniently, the second axis of time is close to the angle by which we view the series, so as the doctor's rightward time progresses, and the universe becomes more influenced by his actions, RL time advanced and we see further rightward as well. (in addition to the necessary jumps forward and backwards.)

(It's important to remember that, even though there's a second axis to time, the Doctor and other time travellers have a difficult time perceiving it.)

3

He is not the last Time Lord. In the time of the 10th Doctor you had:

  • The Doctor himself
  • the Master, and
  • Jenny The Doctor's daughter, who is made of his DNA (so he is Jenny's mom and dad at the same time)

And, of course, in the painting there are a whole lot of Time Lords. Also the master died.

Remaining known Time Lords:

  • Jenny
  • The Doctor
  • The trapped Time Lords

To release the trapped Time lords he has to give his name OR change his Tardis into a paradox machine.

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    Jenny might be Gallifreyan, however she does not hold the title of Time Lord. – Monty129 Mar 7 '14 at 17:13
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    @Monty129 - We see the Doctor use the terms interchangeably on several occasions... – Valorum Mar 7 '14 at 17:43
  • The two very much seem interchangeable. Susan's a good litmus test, as she's never called a Time Lady in-universe but routinely out-of-universe. However, if it is a title or role - that would be pertinent to the question at hand. He's the last Time Lord if that means "a Gallifreyan with an active role in controlling the timeline" – joshbirk Mar 7 '14 at 18:53
3

The point is that the Doctor says he is the last of the Time Lords simply because before "the year that never was" the Master was meant to be dead and after that the Master was meant to be killed. But also, theoretically the Time Lords before Day of the Doctor were time locked, due to extensive use of time travel in the Last Great Time War. As a result, due to him running away from the war after the genocide of both the Daleks and Time Lords, he was the last of the Time Lords.

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