Timey Wimey

Doctor Who’s Latest Gaping Plot Hole Can Be Explained By a Deleted Scene

Wait. Hasn’t the Doctor been this far out before?

Peter Capaldi as the 12th Doctor in "Listen."

The last of the Time Lords visiting the edge of the universe is a very, very big deal. But when longtime Doctor Who fans watched “Wild Blue Yonder,” many all wondered the exact same thing: Hasn’t the Doctor visited the edge of the universe before? And if they have, why is the 14th Doctor saying that he’s never been this far out before?

Turns out, the once and future showrunner of Doctor Who — Russell T Davies — agrees with you. The Doctor has visited the edge of the universe many times before. But, there’s still something very specific about this adventure that makes the words of the Doctor not incorrect or canon-breaking. In fact, in one version of the script for “Wild Blue Yonder,” Davies has revealed that the Doctor would get way more nitty-gritty about what made this universe’s edge situation so unique. Spoilers ahead for “Wild Blue Yonder.”

When the Doctor (David Tennant) and Donna (Catherine Tate) explore the empty starship in “Wild Blue Yonder,” the Doctor is startled to be so far out at the edge of pretty much everything, ever. But, in “Listen,” the 12th Doctor visited the last planet in the universe. And, during the events of Doctor Who: Flux, it was clear that the Doctor was outside of the universe. The 10th Doctor, Jack, and Martha also visited a planet near the end of the universe in “Utopia,” while in “Hell Bent,” the 12th Doctor claimed that Gallifrey had been moved to the end of the universe, “give or take a star system.”

The 14th Doctor (David Tennant) at the end of the universe...again?


Semantically, the end of the universe and the edge of the universe don’t mean the same thing, and in all of those examples above, Doctor Who was playing fast and loose with the physical boundaries of the universe, and the actual end of all creation. Generally speaking, the audience is encouraged to think of these things as connected (or literally the same) though in “Wild Blue Yonder,” that kind of conflation isn’t really necessary. Even if the Doctor and Donna are merely at the physical edge of the universe, that could still end up meaning that they’re at the temporal end as well, simply because of how long it would take to get back to Earth.

And, it turns out Russell T Davies is fully aware of all of these nuances, and previous times when the Doctor has gotten close to the end of the universe. After “Wild Blue Yonder” aired, Davies even posted earlier versions of the script on Instagram that revealed that “the Doctor was thinking” about all of those other instances. Here’s what Davies said:

“Okay, so I know the Doctor has been to the edge of the universe before, and further. The First Doctor went to Quinnis ‘in the fourth universe.’ The Fourth Doctor went to the Planet of Evil! And the 13th was on board Tecteun’s ship in-between universes.”

And in earlier versions of the script, he had the 14th Doctor say this: “Oh I’ve straddled multiverses, but only in magnificent Timeships...to stand here like this...”

So, ultimately, what made “Wild Blue Yonder’s” journey to the edge of the universe different than other Doctor Who stories was the simple fact that the Doctor was “unprotected.” The TARDIS is absent for most of “Wild Blue Yonder,” and the Doctor doesn’t even have his sonic screwdriver. So, whether or not he’s been further out than this before in any of his other incarnations isn’t exactly the point. He’s never been this close to the end of the universe without a way back.

Of course, in the end, the TARDIS does reappear, and the Doctor and Donna do manage to get back to Earth, and to (more or less) the correct time. And right before that happened, we learned that Donna doesn’t really know everything that happened to the Doctor between their 10th and 14th incarnation. And, the Doctor doesn’t explain all those missing years either, and simply says it was “a lot.” Clearly, when it comes to the edge of the universe, there’s also a lot the Doctor doesn’t want to talk about either.

Doctor Who airs specials on Disney+ for the rest of 2023. “The Star Beast” and “Wild Blue Yonder” are streaming now. “The Giggle” on December 9. After that, the first Ncuti Gatwa episode, “The Church on Ruby Road,” will air on Christmas Day, 2023.

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