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In recent episode of Doctor Who ‘Listen’, Clara ends up in Gallifrey grabbing the Doctor's feet under his bed.

That's not supposed to happen is it? I was under the impression that Gallifrey was on a temporal lock-down or something like that after the time war.

Did I miss something?

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  • 5
    You sort of just defined Doctor Who there...
    – ZenLogic
    Oct 3, 2014 at 12:55
  • 1
    @KushtrimP. No, the point of the time lock is that the time war (a war fought through all of time and space) is locked in time.
    – ZenLogic
    Oct 3, 2014 at 13:23
  • 2
    Uh...timey-wimey?
    – tilley31
    Oct 3, 2014 at 14:16
  • 3
    It is not clear that they were on Gallifrey. Oct 3, 2014 at 15:15
  • 1
    But the main reason is that Moffat Moffatted. Oct 3, 2014 at 15:15

3 Answers 3

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The time lock, as it pertains to the mechanism that prevents the Doctor from re-entering the Time War, does not encompass the whole of Gallifrey's past. It only serves to keep time-travelers from coming into the War, and to keep what's in the War from getting out:

DOCTOR: Inside the Time War. And the whole War was time-locked. Like, sealed inside a bubble. It's not a bubble, but just think of a bubble. Nothing can get in or get out of the time lock.

Gallifrey's past from before the War was never said to be time-locked; however, there seems to be some kind of implied mechanism, that is comparable to a time lock but isn't exactly the same thing, that prevents Time Lords from traveling to any point in Gallifrey's timeline other than its relative present, and keeps their visits to the planet in sync with one another, which explains why Time Lords have to use scrolls and seers all the time (as they cannot go into Gallifrey's past or future for themselves), and why the Time Lords always appear to meet in the right order on Gallifrey. But, as even the existence of this mechanism has never been clearly established, let alone explained in any detail, we cannot say for certain how the events of "Listen" correlate to it. (Although, it would be logical to assume that such a thing exists anyway, as any time-traveling civilization worth their salt would naturally want to keep their past from being interfered with.)

Nevertheless, it is clear from the presentation in "Listen" that the TARDIS' trip into Gallifrey's past is not normally supposed to be happen, hence the red warning lights and the alarms that flood the console room when it happens. And that is because these were not normal circumstances. For one thing, it was noted at least twice that the Doctor had taken down the ship's safety functions, which is how he first got to the end of the universe (saying, "the TARDIS isn't supposed to come this far, but some idiot turned the safeguards off"). Furthermore, Clara was piloting the TARDIS in a way that we have never seen before (via the telepathic interface), and the Doctor said that he had slaved the ship to her timeline (and the last time that we saw somebody traveling along a raw timeline was in "The Name of the Doctor", when Clara stepped into the Doctor's postmortem timestream and was spliced throughout his past, including his early days on Gallifrey).

So, ultimately, the answer is that she managed it by piloting the ship in a very unconventional way while the safeguards were off, which allowed her to bypass the very vaguely-defined temporal barrier that would normally keep Time Lords in sync with Gallifrey.

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  • Great explanation, thanks for that! +1 for the quote of the doctor... that pretty much explains the whole thing
    – Deleteman
    Oct 4, 2014 at 4:26
  • I have to admit that I assumed gallifreys entire history would be locked off because frankly if the daleks weren't sending attacks to destroy the timelords before they came into being then they were clearly doing it wrong. I'm good with the rest of the explanation explaining how she got through though.
    – Chris
    Oct 6, 2014 at 15:30
  • @Chris If we assume Gallifrey had some anti-time travel safeguards, it could be as simple as the Daleks can't penetrate them, but a TARDIS can. We do know that the TARDIS is more advanced than whatever the Daleks use.
    – Ixrec
    Oct 26, 2015 at 19:30
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I don't think the barn was on Gallifrey. In "Day of the Doctor", after he destroys those Daleks with the TARDIS, the Doctor flies it out into space. Plus, with the bombardment the Daleks were performing on Gallifrey, it would not likely be anywhere that peaceful.

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  • Like I said: it doesn't make sense to blow up Gallifrey from inside of Gallifrey...
    – tilley31
    Mar 2, 2015 at 15:36
  • Yes, the young Doctor may have been visiting a barn on another planet that had been colonized by Gallifreyans, perhaps on the equivalent of a field trip.
    – Hypnosifl
    Oct 27, 2015 at 19:50
  • @Hypnosifl - or he may have grown up on a colony world. Excluding this particular episode, we know very little about his past.
    – Jules
    Jan 9, 2018 at 8:09
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The way I see it is that when Clara was in the barn (that I believe was on Gallifrey more than I believe it wasn't), The Doctor was a very small child. Being that Time Lords "age" very very slowly it could have been nearly 2000 years before the Time War. I don't know the specifics about the time lock on Gallifrey but it could be that Gallifrey could be accessed 2000 years prior to the time war, hence the TARDIS going there in an confused emergency situation.

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  • The Doctor can't cross his own timeline (except in anniversary specials, of course), so he couldn't have reached that point. However, Clara was flying the TARDIS with the telepathic circuit thingy, and just like with Danny Pink earlier in the episode, she was thinking about the Doctor and ended up in his childhood. So maybe it was Gallifrey after all, but the Doctor can't reach it himself.
    – tilley31
    Oct 3, 2014 at 22:16
  • @tilley31 - It's never been established on the show that he "can't" cross his own timeline in the sense of being incapable of it, as opposed to knowing it's something he shouldn't do because it could create paradox-related dangers for him. He has crossed his own timeline completely by accident on two occasions (in The Two Doctors and Time Crash).
    – Hypnosifl
    Oct 4, 2014 at 1:06
  • The Doctor is only just 2100 now, and we've seen a good 1500 years of his lifetime, at least. Feb 8, 2015 at 17:49

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