9 game-changing Doctor Who twists that didn't stick
Doctor Who is all about big moments. Over its 54 years, the writers and producers have pulled off some gargantuan surprises and massive shocks to keep the viewers intrigued, on the edge of their sofa (or behind it), and coming back each week for more adventures in space and time.
Occasionally, though, these game-changing moments are put to one side, rewritten or, dare we say, completely forgotten about in the aid of telling another story.
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Here are some BIG Doctor Who twists that changed the game – only to be untwisted by later showrunners, with the game reinstated as it was before. Spoilers follow, obviously.
1. The Doctor is “half-human”
If you’ve not seen the 1996 TV movie starring Paul McGann as the Eighth Doctor, then you might be slightly surprised to learn that the Time Lord is, in fact, half-human.
While noseying around in the TARDIS, the Master (played by Eric Roberts) discovers the human retinal structure within the Doctor’s eyes. And if this weren’t enough to convince you of his heritage, the Doctor even reveals this particular nugget to a man he’s just met (Professor Wagg): he states he’s half-human on his “mother’s side”.
Of course, this has not been mentioned in the twenty-odd years since.
2. BIG. NEW. COLOURFUL. DALEKS!
Or the New Dalek Paradigm, as they liked to be known.
Right from the off, these bigger Daleks were not a hit with fans and even former showrunner Steven Moffat has admitted they were a mistake.
The new versions debuted in 2010’s ‘Victory of the Daleks’, written by Sherlock co-creator Mark Gatiss, and appeared only selectively thereafter. Thankfully, the Dalek stories that followed featured the more familiar design.
3. The Master dies! Again. And again.
Back in the classic era, the Master made a habit of definitely and unequivocally dying but somehow reappearing during the next series. The prime example being the denouement of 1984’s ‘Planet of Fire’ which saw him burning to death. Definitely dead. Cue his return in the following year’s ‘The Mark of the Rani’.
Post-2005, Russell T Davies “killed” him off twice, only for him to be reborn. The renegade Time Lord was last seen in the series 10 finale with John Simm’s and Michelle Gomez’s regenerations of the Master emphatically killing each other. So, undoubtedly, never to be seen again. *coughs*
See also: Davros, Rory, etc…
4. Rose is stuck permanently in a parallel universe!
… and can absolutely never EVER see the Doctor again. It would be impossible. Until the plucky companion manages to break through the walls of the parallel universes and find him once more.
In the 2006 epic ‘Doomsday’, Rose (Billie Piper) is trapped on a parallel Earth after helping the Tenth Doctor (David Tennant) defeat the Daleks and the Cybermen. During a teary goodbye, the Time Lord explains that the two universes would “collapse” if either tried to get through.
It was fine though, as, less than two years later, Rose was back on our Earth reunited with her BF (no universes were harmed in the making of this episode).
5. Colonel Orson Pink
© BBC Adrian Rogers
With more than a slight resemblance to Clara’s teacher boyfriend Danny Pink, this chap popped up in 2014 fan-favourite ep ‘Listen’. Also played by Samuel Anderson, Orson was from about a hundred years in Clara’s future and, according to the Doctor, was “something to do with” her timeline.
This was a proper shocker in the story, and most fans assumed this thread would be picked up elsewhere by writer Steven Moffat. It was not.
6. The Daleks forget the Doctor
In 2012’s ‘Asylum of the Daleks’, the first ep in which Jenna Coleman appeared (and quite the surprise that was too), the “Soufflé Girl” managed to perform a “mass delete” on anything about the Doctor from the Daleks’ hive mind.
It was a brave denouement for the season opener to eject almost 50 years of Dalek-Doctor battles.
But, just a year later in Matt Smith’s finale ‘The Time of the Doctor’, we discovered the intergalactic pepper pots harvested information concerning the Doctor from the cadaver of Tasha Lem. We guess they just couldn’t live without him.
7. The Valeyard
In 1986’s ambitious season-long arc, ‘The Trial of a Time Lord’, the Doctor came face-to-face with Gallifreyan prosecutor The Valeyard. Played by Michael Jayston, he sparred with Colin Baker’s Sixth Doctor over the course of 12 instalments before The Master revealed in the story’s penultimate ep that the Valeyard was, in fact, THE DOCTOR – an amalgamation of the darker sides of his nature, somewhere between the Twelfth and final incarnation (back in the day when the Thirteenth Doctor would have been the last).
A surprising and exciting twist for a season which, to be fair, was in need of a good shock. Did he return? Nope.
The Valeyard was mentioned, however, by the Great Intelligence in 2013’s ‘The Name of the Doctor’ and in Peter Capaldi’s final episode as the Doctor, ‘Twice Upon a Time’.
8. Gallifrey frozen in time in a pocket universe
The resolution of the 50th anniversary special ‘The Day of the Doctor’ saw all of the Doctors team up to end the Time War and defeat the Daleks. They did so by using their collective TARDISes to freeze their home planet, Gallifrey, in time and squirrel it away in a parallel pocket universe. A huge twist, and a surprising revision of fairly recent Time Lord history.
But you can only stay frozen in time in a pocket for so long.
After a season or so of searching, Gallifrey was brought back for the series 9 finale, in which the Twelfth Doctor went to war against President Rassilon and his fellow Time Lord chums.
9. Donna can’t remember her time with the Doctor
To save his best friend’s mind from burning up, the Doctor erased all memories of Donna’s time in the TARDIS. She had just been part of a human-Time Lord metacrisis (haven’t we all?) and her life was endangered. A truly sorrowful end for one of Who‘s most magnificent companions.
Jump forward 18 months and Donna does remember her time with the Doctor after all.
Besieged by various John Simm Masters, Miss Noble flashes back to series 4. But instead of dying, as the Doctor said she would, the Chiswick temp merely collapses to the floor after her brain sends out an energy blast felling those attacking her. The Time Lord had installed a self-defence mechanism, thus saving her. Might have mentioned it.
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