At some point, the Eighth Doctor returned to Gallifrey and destroyed it. He wiped out the Time Lords and the Daleks to save all of time and space. Except here’s the thing….
Steven Moffat had been toying with ideas for the fiftieth anniversary for a long time. Among these ideas were having a Doctor from far in the future appear, having a “mayfly Doctor” with a very short life, and having Eccleston, Tennant, and Smith team-up. All these ideas ended up appearing in some form. It’s been said that Christopher Eccleston didn’t want to return to the show, but that’s not true. He was perfectly willing, but he wanted creative control. Not because he’s some kind of control freak, but because his time on the show was rife with last-minute changes (often for the worse) and he wanted some modicum of assurance that he would be acting in something that he could stand behind. Moffat, being the lord and master of all plotlines, declined.
Unable to wrangle up the man who came fresh from the Time War, Moffat took advantage of the fact that we never saw 8 regenerate into 9 by positing that there was a secret regeneration. The man who ended the Time War. Not a “Doctor,” but a soldier. The reason why 9 hated himself. The reason 10 was so sorry for everything. The reason why 11 tried so hard to distract himself.
Of course, this ended up contradicting the Doctor Who novels where 8 was very deliberately shown to have ended the Time War, but Moffat mostly cares about his continuity. But I could alternately praise and complain about Steven Moffat forever, so let’s move on.
The Eighth Doctor was a grudging part in the Time War, but mainly focused to his old MO of popping around, helping people, and leaving. While trying to rescue a young lady from a crashing spaceship, she refused to enter the TARDIS. Because the Time Lords were just as bad as the Daleks at this point. She and the Doctor were caught in the crash, ending up on Karn. The Sisterhood of Karn (last seen in the classic series) offered the now-dying Doctor a modified version of their Elixir of Life which would let him choose his next body.
|Dying is the only thing that would make me want to stop being Paul McGann, too.|
|Everybody loves puns, right?|
None seen in the show, unless you count the Tenth and Eleventh Doctors.
The Time War itself. Period.
This was a very grown-up Doctor. He was filled with regret and sadness, but still had a bit of that Doctor-ish charm. This became very apparent when the burden of ending the Time War was lifted. He was a bit taken aback when he discovered he would end up using “childish language” like “wibbly-wobbly timey-wimey” in a few years. Much like the Seventh Doctor, the War Doctor looked at the big picture to solve problems. This time, on a universal scale. And unlike 7, he made no attempts to hide it. Though he might not like what he would have to do, he would do it.
War Doctor: “...in the name of peace and sanity”
While he started off as a young man, he eventually aged into an elderly gentleman. He grew a beard, reflecting his old enemy the Master (whom his later incarnations would probably regard him as similar to). His outfit was no-nonsense. The time for eccentricity was over. Right now, it was time for war.
|He would look forward to what came after, though.|
The Time War went on and on. One day, the War Doctor finally said “No More.” He stole an ancient weapon known as “the Moment,” and took it to the farm where he spent some of his childhood. Before he could use it, its interface appeared, taking the form of Rose Tyler. Thanks to Moment-Rose putting a bit of wibbly-wobbly into the timey-wimey, the War Doctor met up with 10 and 11 and helped them stop the Zygons from taking over Earth again. As you might imagine, 10 and 11 weren’t too keen on teaming up with their least favorite person in the world. But they remembered what it was like to be him. In the end, the War Doctor was back where he was, alone with the Moment. But this time, he was soon joined by the Tenth and Eleventh Doctors, to push the final button with him. So in that last moment, they could forgive him. And themselves. Because if faced with that choice again, Gallifrey vs. the universe, they would make the same choice.
Except this time, they had something that the War Doctor didn’t have then. A companion. With a small push from Clara, they formulated an idea. According to history, Gallifrey was destroyed. So they decided to trick history.
Using an old Gallifreyan art technique of freezing moments of time, they would make Gallifrey disappear. Where? Who knows. But Gallifrey would fall no more. Of course, they’d need a bit of help from a few old friends....
|9 of them, to be precise.|
|Who was intensifying like there was no tomorrow.|
|"So... this opens up a lot of questions on whether or not we could use this frozen moment to save everyone."|
"Too true. Let's just gloss over them."
|This will never be explained. Standard Moffat protocol, people.|
|Can't win 'em all.|
Um…. None. Unless you count the book version of the Eighth Doctor who also destroyed Gallifrey.
|And you thought 10 was the hipster.|