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Back in the old days, the TARDIS was defective. When you travelled in it, you never knew where and when you'd end up. It was only during the Third's tenure that it became possible to navigate it with any accuracy (even though it took several centuries of tinkering to get all the flaws out).

So, in The Day of the Doctor, how did the First and the Second manage to be in exactly the right place at the right moment to help the others put Gallifrey away?

Yes, yes, I know what the TARDIS itself has to say on the subject.

I didn't always take you where you wanted to go, but I always took you where you needed to go!

However, if you watch the original series, more often than not he ended up where he definitely not needed to go! So we have to take this statement of the TARDIS with a grain of salt.

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    The arrival of all pre-Hurt Doctors made no sense either. Apparently the Moment did some voodoo and stuff.
    – Saturn
    Dec 29, 2013 at 9:44
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    “more often then not he ended up where he definitely not needed to go!” — turned out alright though, didn’t it? Maybe The TARDIS knew what she was doing. Dec 29, 2013 at 12:27

4 Answers 4

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Unknown.

There are many theories which could explain this apparent continuity glitch, but none is measurably "more right" or "more canon" than any other. We will probably never get a more thorough on-screen explanation.

The easiest and least problematic is to simply say "The Moment made it work."

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  • Blaming the Moment feels cheap, but it's the most likely explanation, the explanation that messes up established canon the least amount--and if you combine it with the notion that the Moment is the Bad Wolf, it makes more sense because the Bad Wolf is, in many ways, also the TARDIS.
    – BESW
    Dec 29, 2013 at 9:48
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    The Moment isn't the Bad Wolf. It picked a face from the Doctor's future (despite it thought it would pick one from the past). So it ended up with Rose's appearance, yet it still wasn't sure whether it's Rose or Bad Wolf.
    – Mario
    Dec 29, 2013 at 12:17
  • @Mario That's why I called it a "notion" rather than a "fact," and put it in a comment. There's a lot to support the idea that the Moment's conscience is the Bad Wolf, but there's not enough to make it more than a fun fan theory.
    – BESW
    Dec 29, 2013 at 12:25
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Perhaps the quote from the TARDIS ought to be interpreted as if it had been:

I didn't always take you where you wanted to go, but I always took you where you needed to be!

In the sense that she brings him not where it is best for him to go, but where it is best for others — in other words, where he is most needed. And it is very possible that since we don't have the complete picture, as the TARDIS has, we don't usually understand why he ended up in certain locations and how his coming there was beneficial for anybody, but again, the TARDIS has complete (or near-complete) knowledge of all time and space. In particular she has full knowledge about the portion of time and space that is relevant for the Doctor.

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1) If there's one place any TARDIS would unerringly be able to get to, it's Gallifrey. It's their home port, their place of origin. Four was able to get there without error when he got The Call. So in the case of One and Two, they never wanted to go there, so they simply didn't.

2) The TARDIS (and The Doctor) has been working on the calculations for the move since the Hartnell era - a longer spin on the idea of teaching the Sonic to do wood by having it work on the program for the hundreds of years of time between War, Ten, and Eleven. The programming included the coordinates at which to congregate Once complete, the later Doctors (War, Ten, and Eleven) would be able to beam time/space coordinates and express directions to the TARDIS herself at the various points in time that the various Doctors were contacted to head to their lifesaving mission. Thirteen was the first who'd remember the events, and just showed up when he knew he was supposed to.

Presumably, One through Eight forgot the experience, in the same way the War Doctor did.

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Different incarnations of The Doctor being in the same place at the same time are supposed to be extremely rare and only possible in particular conditions.

From 'The Three Doctors':

CHANCELLOR: You can't allow him to cross his own time stream. Apart from the enormous energy it would need, the First Law of Time expressly forbids him to meet his other selves.
PRESIDENT: I am aware of that, your Excellency, but this is an emergency.

Whenever The Doctor has met a past incarnation, it has either been engineered by the Time Lords, or due to an anomaly. When they later separate, only the incarnation whose timeline it was retains the memories of it.

The Eleventh Doctor said that he had been working on the solution "all my lives", implying that as far back as his first incarnation, he had been carrying out the "hundreds and hundreds" of years' worth of calculations necessary to freeze Gallifrey in a single moment, in a pocket universe. However, it was only Eleven that decided this was a way to save Gallifrey from the Time War. It seems reasonable then to say that, even though the previous incarnations had worked on the process, they were not aware that they would ever need to apply it. It follows then that the only reason The Doctor's previous incarnations would all be there was if they were brought there by Eleven, in a similar manner to how the Time Lords had previously brought different incarnations together. If that is the case, then any problems with their TARDIS navigation would not really have been an issue, just as it wasn't an issue for the Time Lords to bring 1, 2 and 3 together.

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