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[[Gallifrey Sound of Drums|250px]]
The Citadel of the Time Lords on Gallifrey (from The Sound of Drums)

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Gallifrey is a planet in the long-running British science fiction television series Doctor Who and is the home world of the Doctor and the Time Lords. It was located in a binary star system (Gridlock) within the constellation of Kasterborous (Pyramids of Mars, Attack of the Cybermen and Voyage of the Damned), at "galactic coordinates ten-zero-eleven-zero-zero by zero-two from galactic zero centre" (Pyramids of Mars (1975), Full Circle (1980) and partially in The Family of Blood (2007)), which is some 250 million light years away from Earth (as stated in the 1996 Doctor Who television movie), or 29 thousand as implied in the classic series. This would put it far outside our Milky Way galaxy, which is about a hundred thousand light years in diameter, and indeed outside the Local Group and even the Virgo Supercluster; however, at this distance it would still be within the Pisces-Cetus Supercluster Complex.[1]

During the first decade of the television series, the name of the Doctor's home planet was not revealed, although it was actually shown for the first time in The War Games (1969) during the Doctor's trial. It was finally identified by name for the first time in The Time Warrior (1973). It is never definitively stated when the appearances of Gallifrey in the television series take place. As the planet is often reached by means of time travel, its relative present could conceivably exist anywhere in the Earth's past or future[2] before the year 100 trillion, which the Time Lords never reached.

Gallifrey's position in the revived series (2005 onwards) was filled in slowly over the first three years of the series' run. In Series 1, it had been implied that it was destroyed along with the Dalek Empire, by the Doctor during the Time War. The planet was not referred to by name until the 2006 Christmas Special, was depicted in a flashback in The Sound of Drums, and played an important role in the plot of The End of Time. It appeared briefly in the seventh series finale, "The Name of the Doctor", which showed the moment the First Doctor and Susan stole the TARDIS. Gallifrey was revealed to have survived at the conclusion of "The Day of the Doctor", albeit frozen in time and shunted into another universe.

Geography and Appearances


From space, Gallifrey is seen as a yellow-orange planet and was close enough to central space lanes for spacecraft to require clearance from Gallifreyan Space Traffic Control as they pass through its system (The Invasion of Time, 1978). The planet was protected from physical attack by an impenetrable barrier called the quantum force field, and from teleportation incursions by the transduction barrier - which could be reinforced to repel most levels of this type of technological attack.

The Name of the Doctor presented images of the Time Lord capital. Outside the Capitol is a wilderness with its iconic red grass.

The Doctor's granddaughter Susan first described her home world (not named as "Gallifrey" at the time) as having bright, silver-leafed trees and a burnt orange sky at night (The Sensorites, 1964), features that the Tenth Doctor reiterates in the episode Gridlock (2007). This casts an amber tint on anything outside the city, as seen in The Invasion of Time. However, Gallifrey's sky appeared blue and Earth-like in The Five Doctors (1983) within the isolated Death Zone.

In The Time Monster the Doctor says that "When I was a little boy, we used to live in a house that was perched halfway up the top of a mountain", explaining, "I ran down that mountain and I found that the rocks weren't grey at all - but they were red, brown and purple and gold. And those pathetic little patches of sludgy snow were shining white. Shining white in the sunlight". In Gridlock, the Doctor echoes Susan's description of the world now named as Gallifrey and goes further by mentioning the vast mountain ranges "with fields of deep red grass, capped with snow". He then elaborates how Gallifrey's second sun would "rise in the south and the mountains would shine", with the silver-leafed trees looking like "a forest on fire" in the mornings.

Outer Gallifrey's wastelands are where the "Outsiders" reside, The Doctor Who Role Playing Game released by FASA equates the Outsiders with the "Shobogans", who are briefly mentioned in the serial The Deadly Assassin. The wastes of Gallifrey include the Death Zone, an area that was used as a gladiatorial arena by the first Time Lords, pitting various species kidnapped from their respective time zones against each other (although Daleks and Cybermen were considered too dangerous to use). Inside the Death Zone stands the Tomb of Rassilon, the founder of Time Lord society (The Five Doctors).

Somewhere on Gallifrey there is also an institute called the Academy, which the Doctor and various other Time Lords have attended.

The 2013 minisode 'The Last Day' mentions birds as something expected in Gallifrey's skies. Gallifrey appeared in the Doctor Who 50th anniversary special, which appeared on the 23rd November 2013.

Spin-off material

Several of the spin-off novels have further information about Gallifrey. It is said to have at least two moons, one being the copper-coloured Pazithi Gallifreya (first named in Cat's Cradle: Time's Crucible);[3] the novel Lungbarrow also places Karn (setting of The Brain of Morbius, 1976) in Gallifrey's solar system, along with a frozen gas giant named Polarfrey and an "astrological figure" of "Kasterborous the Fibster".[4] Cat's Cradle: Time's Crucible also mentions edible rodent-like mammals called tafelshrews.


For general Time Lord history, see History of the Time Lords.

On screen


Few details on the history of the planet itself emerge from the original series run from 1963–1989. In The End of the World (2005), the Ninth Doctor states that his home planet has been destroyed in a war and that he is the last of the Time Lords. The episode also indicates that the Time Lords are remembered in the far future. Subsequently, in Dalek (2005), it is revealed that the last great Time War was fought between the Time Lords and the Daleks, ending in the obliteration of both sides and with only two apparent survivors; the Doctor and a lone Dalek that had somehow fallen through time and crashed on Earth. At the conclusion of that episode, that surviving Dalek self-destructs, leaving the Doctor believing that he was the sole survivor of the Time War. However, the Daleks return in Bad Wolf/The Parting of the Ways (2005), and subsequently in several other stories.

It is suggested that other Time Lords might have survived the war when the Face of Boe utters its final words to the Doctor: "Know this, Time Lord: you are not alone" (Gridlock). These suspicions are later borne out in Utopia (2007), when the Tenth Doctor discovers that the renegade Time Lord the Master has survived the Time War and has been living in human form in the year CE 100 Trillion, at the end of the material universe, a point so far forward in time that no Time Lord had ever travelled there.

The Doctor's reference to Gallifrey in The Runaway Bride is the first time the name of his homeworld has been given onscreen since the new series began. The Doctor's revelation that he is from Gallifrey elicits terror from the Empress of the Racnoss then the Gallifreyans were not so adverse to genocide as they brought the Racnoss to near extinction, as indeed they did to the Great Vampires in the time of Rassilon - State of Decay, with the Doctor finishing the act in both instances. The Doctor in human form (as "John Smith") mentions Gallifrey in Human Nature and is asked if it was in Ireland, this is the same question asked in the 1970s stories Hand of Fear and The Invisible Enemy (both written by Bob Baker and Dave Martin).

The planet makes its first appearance in the revived series in The Sound of Drums, where the Citadel, enclosed in a glass dome (as described by the Doctor in Gridlock), is seen in flashback as the Doctor describes it. Also seen is a ceremony initiating 8-year-old Gallifreyans — in particular the Master — into the Time Lord Academy.

The 2009 story The End of Time once again featured Gallifrey, which the Master releases from the Time Lock the Doctor had created to contain the war. However, Gallifrey's reemergence is eventually stopped and reversed after it was made clear that the release of Gallifrey would lead to the Time Lords destroying time - in effect destroying the universe - in order to defeat the Daleks and ultimately to preserve the Time Lords at the expense of all creation. Resurrected Lord President Rassilon also believed that this action would elevate them to a higher form of existence, becoming "pure consciousness." Upon realizing the scope of Rassilon's plan for self-preservation the Doctor had attempted to stop them. Eventually the Master came to the Doctor's aid and prevented Rassilon from exacting revenge for breaking the link that held Gallifrey in relative time to 21st century Earth. The Master used the unstable regeneration energy burst to cripple Rassilon stepping over the Gallifrey/Earth material threshold at the point Gallifrey phased back to the Time War and disappearing with it into the Time Lock that encapsulated that battle in its entirety away from affecting the Universal Time Stream.

By the end of the war, Gallifrey was in ruins. The dome of the main city, the Time Lord capital, the Citadel, was shattered and dozens of Dalek saucers had crashed on the plains below. When Gallifrey appeared over Earth, it was depicted as a huge orange Super-Earth sphere with lakes of lava or vast fires covering the surface, but this could just as easily be the local flora that the Doctor described in Gridlock that the sky was burnt orange, and that grasses of Gallifrey were red in colour. The leaves on the trees of that planet were silver and would catch the light of the second sun of the Binary system reflecting it back to appear like a vast forest fire, which in turn echoes how the Doctor's granddaughter Susan describes her World in the Sensorite's story, except in this case Gallifrey's flora is reflecting the diffuse light of our own Sun and Earth light as it comes in to close proximity of our World.

It was stated by the Tenth Doctor in The End of Time that Gallifrey was not how he and The Master knew it in their youth. Implying that the Time Lords had resorted to desperate and deplorable measures to fight the Daleks, the Doctor was willing to break his code of non-violence to stop the return of the Time Lords. This is reinforced within a short feature that discloses the hitherto unknown circumstances of the Eighth Doctor's regeneration into the War Doctor, entitled Night of the Doctor. A young pilot rejects assistance from the Doctor due to her fear of the Time Lords.

In the series seven finale, The Name of the Doctor, two Time Lords were seen on Gallifrey watching The First Doctor and Susan steal a TARDIS.

In the 50th anniversary special of the Television Series, The Day of the Doctor, scenes are shown during the fall of Arcadia, Gallifrey's second city. Subsequently it is shown that Gallifrey wasn't actually destroyed. The final scenes depicted three of the Doctor's incarnations - the Tenth Doctor (David Tennant), the Eleventh Doctor (Matt Smith) and the War Doctor (John Hurt), the interface of the weapon, The Moment, that was supposed to destroy the planet (depicted as derived from Rose Tyler or in her form, Bad Wolf as seen in the season one finale) and the Eleventh Doctor's companion Clara Oswald decide against destroying it. Instead, they freeze the planet in time within a secondary/pocket universe. This occurs with the help of the other Doctors, including the Twelfth Doctor, whose eyes alone are seen at this point. Instead of destroying Gallifrey, the Dalek fleet echelons open fire on and destroy each other. Although a secondary universe is mentioned, the exact location of the planet (both in time and space) is as yet unknown.

In The Time of the Doctor the Time Lords try to re-enter the universe through a crack in the Universe on the planet Trenzalore. They broadcast a message throughout space and time, the question "Doctor Who?", a question which only the Doctor could answer. When the Doctor answers they will know that it is safe to leave. However this message inadvertently attracts various races, including the Daleks and Cybermen, to lay siege to Trenzalore, the Doctor remaining to protect the inhabitants, but not wanting to release the Time Lords as this would mean the destruction of Trenzalore and the initiation of another Time War. Hundreds of years later, Clara convinces the Time Lords to help the Doctor, dying from old age in his final regeneration, and the crack closes, before reopening in the sky above Trenzalore. The Time Lords gave the Doctor a new regeneration cycle, before the crack seals for good with the Time Lords still lost, but a newly regenerated Twelfth Doctor ready to find them.


Various spin-off novels have expanded on the history and nature of Gallifrey.

Marc Platt's novels Cat's Cradle: Time's Crucible and Lungbarrow, provide a detailed backstory for the civilisation seen in the main series. In the Dark Times (occasionally mentioned in the televised serials such as The Five Doctors), Gallifrey was at the centre of an empire covering dozens of worlds and continually being extended by heroes such as Prydonius (whom the Time Lord chapter is named after). Ancient Gallifreyans are all telepathic and were ruled by a female cult centred on a figure called the Pythia, who controlled the population through mysticism and prophecies. When the prophetic powers of the last of the Pythias failed her, Rassilion, Omega and a shadowy figure known as The Other seized power in the name of science and rationality. Seeing this the Pythia committed suicide and cursed Gallifrey, killing all children in their wombs and making the world sterile. To combat this Rassilion restructured society and used genetic looms to create new generations of Gallifreyans, who emerge from the looms as fully grown adults. Each of the Great Houses is allotted a total of forty five cousins and given a regeneration cycle of thirteen lives. The Houses themselves are to some degree alive, in the same way TARDISes are and the furniture can move about, occasionally growing into 'Drudges' who function as servants for the family. The Doctor was loomed in the House of Lungbarrow in the mountains of South Gallifrey, but unique among the house's cousins he has a belly button (Lungbarrow suggests this is because he is a re-incarnation of The Other, but later BBC books featuring the Eighth Doctor suggest he actually has a Gallifreyan father and human mother as stated in the 1996 telemovie). This backstory explains why no children are seen in the classic series Gallifrey stories and provides an explanation for the male-centric nature of Time Lord society. This backstory is hard to reconcile with The Sound of Drums which shows the Master as a child and the Doctor's reaction to Jenny's creation through a process similar to looming in The Doctor's Daughter. However, BBC books such as The Infinity Doctors and Unnatural History imply that the Doctor's origin is complex and that every version is somehow "true" (such as Susan's claim in the original version of An Unearthly Child that she was born in the 49th century). Unnatural History contains a flashback in which the Doctor sees himself as a child in the House of Lungbarrow playing under the watchful gaze of his father. The Infinity Doctors implies that the "womb-born" did not completely die out and some families continued to exist in secret. This provides a possible explanation for existence of Irving Braxiatel, a Time Lord who claims to be the Doctor's brother yet is not one of the cousins from Lungbarrow and the implication in The Gallifrey Chronicles that the character Marnal is The Master's father (whose existence is mentioned in The End of Time).

The Virgin New Adventures establish a religion on Gallifrey centred around the three main gods, Time, Death and Pain. The Time Lords use these figures to understand the concepts they represent and in some cases make deals with them and become their chosen champions. The Seventh Doctor is Time's Champion (as well as someone who makes frequent deals with or wages against Death to save his friends) and the audio play Master states that the Master is Death's champion. It's also briefly implied in Vampire Science, that the Eighth Doctor is Life's champion, implying the existence of another unseen figure. Happy Endings and other books imply that these gods are Eternals as seen in the serial Enlightenment.

In the Eighth Doctor Adventures novel The Ancestor Cell by Peter Anghelides and Stephen Cole, Gallifrey is destroyed as a result of the Eighth Doctor's desire to prevent the voodoo cult Faction Paradox from starting a war between the Time Lords and an unnamed Enemy. Hints about this future war are dropped in several books earlier in the series beginning with Lawrence Miles's Alien Bodies and the war itself plays out as it would have originally done in Miles' Faction Paradox series in which certain names are changed for copyright reasons (the Time Lords become the Great Houses and Gallifrey becomes the Home World). The war is fought across four dimensions and whole sections of history are blocked off by either side and it is also suggested that events cross into different universes (such as the events of Dead Romance). In order to have boltholes or decoys in case of attack, the Time Lords have created nine separate planet Gallifreys (it even hinted that the original Gallifrey may at some point be reduced to ruins) and special looms to constantly produce new soldiers. By this time TARDISes have evolved to point where they appear human and reproduce sexually (the Doctor's companion Compassion is the first such TARDIS). It is also hinted that the Celestial Intervention Agency will evolve into the beings of pure thought known as the Celestis, who observe the war from outside this dimension (the Last Parliament in which they sit resembles the Panopticon on Gallifrey and the closest anyone gets to describing them is similar to the Time Lords' robes). Faction Paradox itself is a counter to Time Lord society, dedicated to creating time-travel paradoxes, in contrast to the Time Lords' web of time. It was founded by a mysterious figure Grandfather Paradox, who it is believed was once a Time Lord from the House of Lungbarrow. The Ancestor Cell suggests that he is a future version of the Doctor, but this is retconned in The Gallifrey Chronicles, to him being everyone's potential future self. When the Doctor destroys Gallifrey the war no longer happens and his actions also apparently (and retroactively) wipe the Time Lords from history. It is unclear what the attitude of the new Doctor Who television series is toward the information in the novels and audio plays, the latter produced by Big Finish Productions. However, a number of writers of the novels and audio plays are also writing for the new television series, and Russell T Davies refers to the comic strips, audio plays and novels in an essay describing the Time War, written for the Doctor Who Annual 2006.

In the last regular Eighth Doctor novel, The Gallifrey Chronicles by Lance Parkin, it is revealed that while Gallifrey was destroyed, the Time Lords were not erased from history. However, the cataclysm sets up an event horizon in time that prevents anyone from entering Gallifrey's relative past or travelling from it to the present or future. The Time Lords also survive within the Matrix, which has been downloaded into the Eighth Doctor's mind, but their reconstruction requires a sufficiently advanced computer. At the novel's end, the question of whether or not the Time Lords will be restored remains unanswered, although if the events of the novel are to tie in with later events in the TV series it must be assumed that Gallifrey was at some point restored, only to be destroyed again during the events of the Time War. This could also provide a possible explanation for Rassilon apparently being alive in The End of Time, where previous stories show him having died millennia before.

Television series executive producer Russell T Davies wrote in Doctor Who Magazine #356 that there is no connection between the War of the books and the Time War of the television series.[5] In the same Doctor Who Magazine column, Davies compared Gallifrey being destroyed twice with Earth's two World Wars. He also said that he was "usually happy for old and new fans to invent the Complete History of the Doctor in their heads, completely free of the production team's hot and heavy hands".[5]

Despite Davies' unequivocal statement that the two wars are distinct, Lance Parkin, in his Doctor Who chronology AHistory, suggests in a speculative essay that the two destructions of Gallifrey may be the same event seen from two different perspectives, with the Eighth Doctor present twice (and both times culpable for the planet's destruction).[6]


  1. In Terror of the Autons (1971), a Time Lord emissary says that he has traveled "29,000 light years", leading to the original assumption that the Time Lord home world was that distance away. However, it is never actually stated in Terror of the Autons where the Time Lord is traveling from, as compared to the explicit statement made in the 1996 television movie.
  2. The Three Doctors seemed to set Gallifrey's relative present in the near future (UNIT dating controversy) with its sequel Arc of Infinity setting it in the 1980s, although at least a decade had passed on Gallifrey (The Doctor's age). Alternatively, The Trial of a Time Lord (1986, specifically The Mysterious Planet and The Ultimate Foe) seems to imply that the planet's relative present is in the Earth's far future. This is also the position taken by The Doctor Who Role Playing Game released by FASA, although the information in it is not usually considered canon. Both the Virgin New Adventures and the BBC Books Doctor Who novels seem to take the stance that Gallifrey's relative present is far in the Earth's relative past
  3. Platt, Marc (February 1992). Cat's Cradle: Time's Crucible. New Adventures. London: Doctor Who Books, an imprint of Virgin Publishing. pp. 40. ISBN 0-426-20365-8. 
  4. Platt, Marc (March 1997) (link to HTML ebook version). Lungbarrow. New Adventures. London: Virgin Publishing. pp. 35. ISBN 0-426-20502-2. Retrieved 2007-04-17. 
  5. 5.0 5.1 Davies, Russell T (25 May 2005). "The Evasion of Time". Doctor Who Magazine (356): 66–67. 
  6. Parkin, Lance (2006). Additional material by Lars Pearson.. ed. AHistory: An Unauthorised History of the Doctor Who Universe. Des Moines: Mad Norwegian Press. pp. 292–293. ISBN 0-9725959-9-6. 

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