The Doctor Changing History: Cause and Effects?

Discussion in 'Doctor Who' started by M.A.C.O., May 9, 2018.

  1. M.A.C.O.

    M.A.C.O. Commodore Commodore

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    I've been pondering the rules time outlined in Doctor Who and how the Doctor says he can't change history or violate the rules of time.

    Key episodes on my mind are:

    4th Doctor: Pyramids of Mars - When the Doctor shows Sarah Jane what the world of 1980 would look like, if he didn't stop Sutekh in 1912.

    5th Doctor: Earthshock/Time Flight - Adric dies while being on board a freighter that is on a collision course to Earth. The Doctor tells Nyssa and Tegan he cannot change their history and that there are rules that can't be broken with the Tardis.

    6th Doctor: Mindwrap/The Ultimate Foe - Peri dies but is later restored by the magic of the Time Lords. We know the Time Lords have more power and control over the changing events of history, than the Doctor himself. Just something to think about.

    9th Doctor: Father's Day - The Doctor and Rose go back and see Pete die twice. On the second time, Rose intervenes to save Pete. Thus crossing her own timeline; as her and the Doctor's previous selves were also present to witness Pete be struck by a car. Time fights back with time wraiths. Who tried to correct the paradox of a man being alive, who shouldn't be.

    10th Doctor: Fires of Pompeii - The Doctor and Donna are present during the hours before Mt. Vesuvius blows. Donna tries hinting to the people what is going to happen and the Doctor chastises her for attempting to alter history. When the volcano blows, the Doctor is set to leave, but Donna begs him just to save someone. The Doctor relents and saves the family who he spent the episode with.

    10th Doctor: Waters of Mars - The Doctor encounters astronauts of a doomed Martian expedition and becomes apart of the events. He decides to save the 3 of them and bring them to Earth. After all hell breaks lose on Mars. The head director rebels against the Doctor's gift of life and commits suicide as a way to monkey wrench his intentions. The Doctor changed the personal history of one woman and her family, and in a way, history fought back.

    11th Doctor: Angels Take Manhattan - Amy and Rory are zapped by a weeping angel and sent back to 1938 New York. Because a previous paradox, the Doctor said he was unable to go to that same year in NYC again. Otherwise it would destroy the city. Seeing Rory and Amy's gravestone, seemingly solidified the two's fate as dead. Something the Doctor could not change.

    12th Doctor: Dark Water - Danny Pink dies and Clara threatens the Doctor to have him change history. It was all an illusion of course, but the Doctor is willing to take Clara to "hell" and attempt a rescue.

    12th Doctor: Face the Raven/Hell Bent - Clara dies and the Doctor uses the machines on Galifrey to extract her at the moment of her death, to save her. However, his attempts through this episode are only partially successful. The result leaves Clara functionally immortal but without a pulse. The Doctor admits by episode's end that he broke every single rule and became "the Hybrid". Clara and the Doctor couldn't continue to travel together anymore, because they would continue to cause chaos protecting each other.


    Well, that took forever. Now, common reasons/excuses the Doctor gives for not changing history and or saving people from death are:
    Fixed points in time can't be changed.
    Can't cross his own time line.
    Changing history can lead to chaotic effects on the universe. Paradoxes and unraveling, etc.


    What do you think? Or rather, could someone simply the rules Doctor Who (the IP) plays fast and loose with frequently?
     
    Last edited: May 9, 2018
  2. Qonundrum

    Qonundrum Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

    1st Doctor admonishes Barbara for trying to change history, long before they're nearly killed... he also pleaded with her, saying how he knows (how she felt) and because he himself had once tried. (there's a story waiting to happen...)

    1st Doctor also discusses how if history is changed, if they're still there, how Steven and Vicki would not be aware of the change and accept the new facts as being what happened. But nothing is said claiming history could not be changed or altered.

    I did like 10th Doctor's "Waters of Mars" with the fixed point in time stuff.

    But DW plays with everything often as fast and loose. The new series continuity with "fixed point in time" has been rather impressively used.
     
  3. Timewalker

    Timewalker Cat-lovin', Star Trekkin' Time Lady Premium Member

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    I try not to think of Pyramids of Mars, as it's one of my least favorite Fourth Doctor stories.

    As for Earthshock... It would have taken split-second timing to rescue Adric and still allow the freighter to crash into Earth (would have had to be after the Cyberman shot the controls up and before the crash, and nobody on the TARDIS would know exactly what happened and when).

    After all, if the dinosaurs survive, there's no guarantee the mammals would have evolved to the point where humans (especially Tegan) would ever exist.

    In nuWho, science is waved away by magic, or saying "The Doctor always lies." I skipped Capaldi's last season out of sheer disgust with the writing, and the only reason I plan to watch later this year is to give the new Doctor a chance. If the writing doesn't improve, I'm done with nuWho.
     
  4. Nightowl1701

    Nightowl1701 Commodore Commodore

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    For at least the first two Doctors, not changing history (at least too obviously) would be a simple matter of self-preservation. Meddling too blatantly would get the attention of the Time Lords, who would quickly zero in on him; the possibility of getting himself erased from history loomed large. From Three's time up to the Time War, that at least had to be at the back of his mind as a possibility still.
     
  5. starsuperion

    starsuperion Commodore Commodore

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    @M.A.C.O.
    6th Doctor: Mindwrap/The Ultimate Foe - Peri dies but is later restored by the magic of the Time Lords. We know the Time Lords have more power and control over the changing events of history, than the Doctor himself. Just something to think about.

    I think it is because the Time Lords have the web of time anchored to Gallifrey by the eye of harmony, which gives them certain controls over reality and time lines. Clara's death, for example, was something they have to maintain given their Extraction chamber is the reason she skirted her own death..if she isn't put back, she could rip all of time and space apart via the web of time.

    Wait a minute, I thought Peri's Death was a fake event created by the Valeyard to frame the 6th Doctor?
     
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  6. Nightowl1701

    Nightowl1701 Commodore Commodore

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    Nope, it happened, due to the Time Lords snapping up Six at the precise wrong moment. Realizing how badly they wronged him, they tried going back and fixing it, only to make things dramatically worse. There's now at least FOUR Peris out there...

    1: A Peri who married Yrcanos, had his kids, ruled over his kingdom and hated the Doctor for abandoning her. He eventually returned her to Earth in her old age.
    2: A Peri who married Yrcanos, ruled his kingdom briefly after his assassination, then was picked up by Six and resumed traveling with him. Her fate is yet to be revealed.
    3: A Peri who married Yrcanos, brought him to Earth with her and essentially became Miss Elizabeth to his Macho Man in the WWF.
    4: A Peri who never left Earth, had a tragic love life, and eventually became a talk show host called 'The Worrier Queen.'
     
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  7. Butters

    Butters Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    The waters of mars thing bugs me because it’s based on false conflict. What happened at the base is a mystery, the truth could just as easily have been that the crew walked in to the Tardis and began a new life on New Earth in the year 5 billion. No fixed point in time to worry about violating.
     
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  8. Mytran

    Mytran Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    It's been years since I watched TWOM, but I remember thinking something similar at the time. :thumbdown:
     
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  9. Butters

    Butters Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    It’s a cracking episode though. I can almost picture Russell there at his desk, dotting the last i on the final draft of his latest masterpiece, as he considers the overlooked plot hole. “F...”

    Birds erupt upon the sky.

    And then he hits the print button and pours himself a well earned glass of Prosecco.
     
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  10. M.A.C.O.

    M.A.C.O. Commodore Commodore

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    I think the Doctor's memory flashes from the news articles/obituaries and how they change when he changes their fates, is what cues us (the audience) into the Mars mission being doomed.

    Plus, TWOM was co-written with Phil Lord. Who knows which ideas were whos, with this story. Haha.
     
  11. fireproof78

    fireproof78 Fleet Admiral Admiral

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    What's most interesting to me about this episode is the crushing revelation that the Doctor has that not only is it a fixed moment in time but he is also responsible for it.

    Also, the Tenth Doctor goes on and on about becoming the "Timelord Victorious" and violating the rules so there is some wiggle room some times.
     
  12. M.A.C.O.

    M.A.C.O. Commodore Commodore

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    I think some of the best stories are when the Doctor is intent on preserving the timeline; until he discovers that he has to make history happen the way he knows it's recorded.

    Dangerous stuff if you think about it. The Titanic disaster and JFK assassination are brought up a lot in Whoinverse. Imagine the Doctor having to decide to make the Black Plague happen. The opposite of the Fifth Doctor's story, The Visitation.

    There are all sorts of things you could do.