We see past Doctors frequently in Doctor Who. The 10th Doctor has shown himself lots of times after being relived of his duties. Excluding The Day of The Doctor, we've also seen the 5th Doctor (Peter Davison), the 8th Doctor (Paul McGann) and the 11th Doctor (Matt Smith) after they were out of service.

Why doesn't the 9th Doctor (Christopher Eccleston) show up? I am asking from out-of-universe perspective of course.

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    Because Moffat and the BBC are bastard dalek scum.
    – user16696
    Commented Jan 28, 2015 at 19:50
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    We can only speculate as to why, but Eccleston has refused to return to the role at least once - he refused to return for the War Doctor episode, and I believe he was invited a time or two for other shows. He has turned them down without public comment.
    – Jeff
    Commented Jan 28, 2015 at 19:53
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    Supposedly there were problems with Eccleston getting along with the higher ups on the show that kept him from signing on for more than one season. This is according to Bad Wild while attending an acting Master Class held at the Theatre Royal in Haymarket. The article is here: denofgeek.us/tv/doctor-who/20897/… The transcript of the podcast is found here: badwilf.co.uk/eccleston-explains-why-he-left-doctor-who Commented Jan 28, 2015 at 19:55
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    @JasonBaker Technically, Matt Smith showed up after his regeneration, when he called Clara in the first Capaldi episode. Granted, the regeneration was in that episode, so it probably doesn't count as a "reprisal," but in the show's timeline(?) it took place after. Also, any relation to Tom or Colin?
    – KSmarts
    Commented Jan 28, 2015 at 20:25
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    @Jason Baker - John Hurt hasn't either.
    – Hypnosifl
    Commented Jan 29, 2015 at 4:34

1 Answer 1


For Day of the Doctor specifically, Eccleston was asked to return and ultimately decided to decline. In an interview with SFX magazine, quoted by GiantFreakinRobot.com, Moffat said:

’I had an initial contact with Chris and, in a very amiable and gentlemanly way, he didn’t feel that he could come back to it,’ he says. Moffat continues, ‘There wasn’t any big fuss about it — I had a couple of meetings with him, and he was perfectly pleasant, and indeed quite enthused about the show, but he just doesn’t do that, it’s just not him.'

In general, it's hard to say. Eccleston did not leave the show on good terms, according to the Bad Wilf podcast:

“I left Doctor Who because I could not get along with the senior people. I left because of politics. I did not see eye-to-eye with them. I didn’t agree with the way things were being run. I didn’t like the culture that had grown up around the series. So I left, I felt, over a principle."

Eccleston's been very tight-lipped about his departure in general, so it's hard to say which "senior people" he's talking about, but bad blood is as likely a factor as anything else.

Moffat's comment in my first quote seems to indicate that Eccleston doesn't like to go go back to projects once he's moved on from them, which is another plausible explanation.

That possibility is given credence by Eccleston himself, who, when asked if he'd be returning for Day of the Doctor, reportedly said:

"No, never bathe in the same river twice."

Omegacron raises an interesting point in comments: why not just CGI Eccleston's face into the show, since the BBC owns the rights to the Ninth Doctor's appearance?

For one thing, they sort of did. The last scene of Day of the Doctor, pictured below, features the likenesses of all previous Doctors including both John Hurt and Christopher Eccleston:

The Twelve Doctors

And of course he appeared in archive footage during the big "All the Doctors fly in to save Gallifrey" scene.

Moffat commented on this in Doctor Who Magazine, as well as the decision to not show John Hurt regenerating into Eccleston, as BBC America reports:

“It was one thing to include [him] among all the other archive Doctors, as they flew in to save the day,” he explained, “in fact, it would have been disgraceful to have left anyone out – but placing him in that [regeneration] scene might have given the impression he’d actually turned up for filming, which would have been crossing the line.”

He added: “not taking part in the 50th was a difficult decision for Chris, taken after a lot of thought and with great courtesy, and not respecting his wishes would have been grossly unprofessional and disrespectful to a good man and a great Doctor.

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    Apparently Eccleston doesn't buy into the idea that you can't step (or, by extension, bathe) in the same river twice.
    – KSmarts
    Commented Jan 28, 2015 at 20:29
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    I've read that he didn't like how the events of Day Rendered Nines pain pointless.
    – user16696
    Commented Jan 28, 2015 at 21:05
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    @Richard - if that's the case, I'm glad it went down the way it did. As a viewer, I'm already hit over the head with political bias everywhere I go. I definitely don't wanna see it in my entertainment. That rumor does sound in character for Eccleston, though - he's very big into the artsy, 'make a statement' theory of acting.
    – Omegacron
    Commented Jan 28, 2015 at 21:45
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    @Richard - Where did you hear that story? The Bad Wilf transcript linked above makes it sound more like he didn't approve of the way one or more of the directors was treating the crew: "You know, it’s easy to find a job when you’ve got no morals, you’ve got nothing to be compromised, you can go, ‘Yeah, yeah. That doesn’t matter. That director can bully that prop man and I won’t say anything about it’. But then when that director comes to you and says ‘I think you should play it like this’ you’ve surely got to go ‘How can I respect you, when you behave like that?’"
    – Hypnosifl
    Commented Jan 28, 2015 at 21:54
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    @Richard - Interesting, thanks--could be a combo of both I suppose, either way it sounds like he thought he was standing up for egalitarian principles of some kind, self-righteously or no. Too bad he won't come back to the show but he still does say positive things about it in public, like this...also a lot of posters on Gallifrey Base say he's always gracious with fans he runs into, someone posted this example.
    – Hypnosifl
    Commented Jan 28, 2015 at 22:33

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