The History of the Time War

The History of the Time War
John Rocco Roberto


The history we are about to cover in the next few pages is conjecture.  It is based on information that has been gathered from certain aspects of the newDoctor Whotelevision series, but has little or no “on screen” information to back it up.  This lack of  “on-screen” information however, does not mean that one cannot pull enough information together to present a coherent picture of events.

Here is what we do know; the Dalek’s first major encounter with the TimeLords occurred when the High Council sent the 4th Doctor back to Skaro’s past in an attempt to stop Davros from developing the Daleks (Genesis of the Daleks).  Before this, the TimeLords showed very little interest in the goings on of the creatures from Skaro, presenting no interference in their plans until they showed an interest in the “Crystal of Karn,” at which time they sent the Doctor in his third incarnation to deal with them (Doctor Who and the Daleks in Seven Keys to Doomsday).  TimeLord interference is not a factor in the next three Dalek stories, and the last “official” appearance of the Daleks is in the episode “Remembrance of the Daleks.”  Here the Doctor tricks Davros into using The Hand of Omega (a TimeLord stellar manipulator), to destroy Skaro’s sun, and thus the Daleks themselves.  As the series soon went off the air after this season it was never followed up as to whether or not Skaro had actually been destroyed.  The eventuality of this however seemed highly unlikely, and it may be that if the series was not canceled, the next time the Doctor encountered the Daleks we would get an explanation on how they survived.  In the years that followed the cancellation several explanations have been put forth to explain how Skaro survived.  John Peel, in his novel “War of the Daleks” suggests that the planet destroyed by Davros was actually a second Skaro, created by the Daleks to trick Davros, and thus keep him from destroying their real home world.  This explanation seems highly unlikely and, with no disrespect to Mr. Peel, very implausible, especially as we are asked to accept the fact that the Daleks would go through this elaborate hoax to fool Davros, when it would just have been simpler to exterminate him after digging him up on Skaro.  Another explanation may have been that the Daleks, using their own temporal engineering, had some how diverted the “Hand,” thus only giving the appearance of the sun going nova, or traveled back in time and actually averted the entire incident all together.  Despite these problems, when the series went off the air in 1989, it seemed a moot point on whether or not Skaro had survived.  Then came Big Finish Production’s audio adventures, which not only continued the adventures of the 7th and 8th Doctors, but also filled in the gaps in several of the 5th and 6th Doctor’s adventures.

If we consider the Big Finish audios as canon, then based on the information gained from these productions as well as the original television series, this is how Dalek history unfolded from “Resurrection of the Daleks” to the end of the original series:

  1. While Davros is pretending to be the “Great Healer” on Necros, on Skaro the Daleks engage in a plan to create a super destructive element, which when activated, can destroy an entire galaxy.  The first step of their plan required them to mine a special element found only on the oldest surviving planetoid in the universe.  Using temporal engineering Dalek scientists take the planetoid out-of-time, trapping Romana and several TimeLords investigating the planetoid on it.  In the audio adventure it is mentioned that Romana had been missing on the planetoid for twenty years, thus we may assume that these events take place either just before, or at the same time as the events in “Revelation of the Daleks.”
  2.  Word reaches Skaro that Davros is alive (Revelation of the Daleks), and a special ship is dispatched to Necros to arrest him.  The ship however, never returns to Skaro, and Davros is presumed dead.
  3. Creating a universal disaster by re-emerging the planetoid and crashing it into the planet Archetryx, the Daleks trick the TimeLords into lowering their defection barriers and invade Gallifrey (The Apocalypse Element).  Their plan is to harness the power of the Eye of Harmony, and thus use their super weapon to “cleanse” the near-by Seriphia Galaxy of all life.  Although the Doctor, Evelyn and Romana manage to destroy the Dalek taskforce, the super weapon is used and Dalek forces occupy the newly re-formed planetary systems to use as a galactic base.  From here they plan an invasion of the Milky Way, and then the entire universe.  The TimeLords however, vow to prevent this.
  4. Having now occupied their new galactic base, the next step in the Dalek plan once again involves a desperate attempt to alter the history of Earth. For reasons that are not explained in “Jubilee,” the Earth Empire still poses a threat to the Dalek plan, and so they attempt to invade Earth in the early part of the twentieth century.  Unfortunately their arrival out of the vortex coincides with the 6th Doctor and Evelyn’s arrival during the same time period, creating a temporal paradox.
  5. Davros, in the meantime has survived his ship’s crash on the planet Lethe, where mining operations have uncovered several Mechonid robots left over from the Dalek/Mechonid Wars.  Examining and reactivating them, Davros begins to build his Imperial Dalek forces (The Juggernauts).  The Daleks on Skaro learn about this, and request the help of the Doctor to stop Davros’ plans.  Although Davros appears to be destroyed, once again, he escapes to continue his plans.

The next stage in Dalek history must be a full-scale invasion of Skaro by Davros’ Imperial Dalek forces.  When we next see the Daleks in the series, Skaro is caught up in a full-blown civil war. Each side is trying to secure the “Hand of Omega,” a stellar manipulator the Doctor, in his first incarnation, had left behind in 1963 London when he fled with Barbara and Ian (Remembrance of the Daleks).  The episode implies that the 7th Doctor, wanting to settle “unfinished business,” let the existence of the “Hand” slip, hoping that Davros would seize the device, activate it, and destroy Skaro and the Daleks in one final blow.  Whether the Doctor was acting on behalf of the TimeLords is never made clear (nor is why the Doctor would leave such a device on Earth in the first place).  In the end Davros, now calling himself Emperor of the Daleks activates the hand, which follows the Doctor’s orders, flies into Skaro’s sun, and turns it super nova.  Skaro is vaporized; the Hand destroys Davros’ ship, but he escapes yet again.

We now come to the part of Dalek history that covers the time period between the end of the original series and the new one.  These histories are based solely on material taken from the FOX television movie and the Big Finish audio productions, which establish that Skaro was not, in fact, destroyed.  In “The Genocide Machine,” references are made to the Dalek home world, as the Dalek task force on Kar-Charrat contacts the Emperor on Skaro.  In “The Enemy Within” the first shot in the film is of Skaro, as the Daleks lure the Doctor back by informing him that they have captured and executed the Master.  In reality this was a plan by the Master (whose body had returned to its degenerative state) and the Daleks to destroy the Doctor.  The events that ensue bring about the Doctor’s seventh regeneration.  Therefore we may assume that Skaro had somehow survived the encounter with the Hand of Omega, although it’s surface was most likely devastated.  From here Dalek history seems to be as follows:

  1. The surface of Skaro lies in ruin, all Dalek cities have been destroyed and Skaro’s sun has suffered irreversible damage.  It is possible that the Dalek Prime or the Emperor himself have also been destroyed, but the surviving Daleks on Sakro as well as in the Seriphia Galaxy vow to continue their plans of universal conquest.  The paradoxes involved in the re-re-invasion of Earth and the Dalek Civil War are compounded by the devastation wrought by the Hand of Omega.  This has convinced the Supreme Conical that more, and possibly absolute information is needed if their plans for conquest are to be achieved.  They thus decide to invade and conquer the library on the planet Kar-Charrat in the hopes of downloading the entire contents of the library’s database into a specially modified Dalek (The Genocide Machine).  Unfortunately the TimeLords have devised the defenses for the library and so their plan of out right invasion goes awry.  Eventually they do gain access to the library and their plan works, the information creating an ultra-supreme Dalek.  Unfortunately this new Dalek sees no logic in killing, and refuses to do so.  The resulting conflict between this new Dalek and its compatriots, helped along by the 7th Doctor’s intervention, sees the destruction of the Dalek force on Kar-Charrat, and Dalek plans are once again delayed.
  2. The Master, now in a degenerative state and dieing, arrives on the devastated surface of Skaro with a plan to rid the universe of the Doctor once and for all (The Enemy Within).  The Daleks, whose frustration level with the Doctor has reached the breaking point, agree to the plan and stage a fake execution of the renegade TimeLord.  Contacting the Doctor, the Emperor informs him that the Master’s last wish was to have his remains returned to Gallifrey.  For some inexplicable reason the Doctor agrees (why he does not suspect a trap is never explained), and arrives on Skaro to retrieve the Master’s ashes.
  3. Despite the defeat of the Master’s plan, as well as their losses on Kar-Charrat, the Daleks decide to launch their full-scale invasion of the Milky Way from Seriphia.  Earth Alliance forces are unable to stop their overwhelming forces, and after several years of fighting, most of the galaxy falls to them (Dalek Empire).  But growing underground resistance, as well as the intervention of “good” Daleks from another dimension, push the Dalek forces back to their galactic bases in the Seriphia Galaxy.  Unfortunately the Milky Way is devastated (Dalek War).  There is no mention of either the Doctor or the TimeLords during either “Dalek Empire” or “Dalek War,” despite the TimeLords vow to prevent the Daleks using the Seriphia Galaxy as a base.  Nor are we told when in the Doctor’s history these events take place.  The Kar-Charrat incident is mentioned in the series, which suggests it takes place during the 7th Doctor’s tenure, but it is also possible that it occurs during his 8th incarnation.  We do know however than when the Doctor next encounters the Daleks he is in his 8th incarnation and the Daleks are trapped in a temporal paradox (The Time of the Daleks).
  4. It is never clearly explained in the audio drama exactly how the Daleks first found themselves in this temporal paradox.  What we do know is that the Daleks, possibly frustrated by their recent defeat in the Milky Way, create a Temporal Elimination Device (TED) that they plan to use to seize control of the Time Vortex itself.  During the launching of the device something goes wrong, and both the Emperor and his fleet are trapped in the vortex, destined to relive the accident over and over again.   It is clear however, that this type of “time loop” can only be established by the TimeLords, and although the 8th Doctor and Charley get caught up in events, it is obvious that it is the TimeLords who are trying to finally address the Dalek question.  The very nature of the Dalek plan would have brought them to the attention of Gallifrey and it is not too far a stretch of the imagination to see the accident that created the paradox as the TimeLords doing.  The Daleks of course, being brilliant engineers, either figure out a way to escape the time loop, or the remaining Daleks on Skaro and in the Seriphia Galaxy simply decide to replace the Emperor and the fleet with members from their own ranks. Either way the Daleks must have finally decided that it was time to address the TimeLord problem once and for all.

Events in Dalek history from this point on until the start of the Time War are a bit sketchy.  It may be that Davros, having escaped from his mother ship before the Hand of Omega destroyed it, survived to create a new race of Daleks after invading and infecting Earth with a Dalek virus.  These events are chronicled in the Big Finish audio “Terror Firma,” but are so convoluted and contradictory to Big Finish’s own continuity that they, like the “War of the Daleks” novel, will not be considered here.  In addition the possible re-appearance of Davros in the new series may completely negate the events in “Terror Firma.”

What we do know about this time period however is that the Daleks decided to completely redesign their travel casings in preparation for their battle with the TimeLords. The new casings are obliviously more powerful and carry a wide array of improvements over the standard casings, which they believed were necessary for a war fought within the Time Vortex (for a break down of the new casings see: Dalek Hierarchy).  As for the events of the war itself, according to Captain Jack  in “Bad Wolf,” the Daleks were the greatest threat in the galaxy when they suddenly disappeared (Captain Jack is a native of the 51st Century, which according to some chronologies would place him living after the events in the Dalek Empire series).  The Doctor informs him and Rose that they went off to fight the Time War.  This establishes that at this point in Dalek history the Daleks and TimeLords had one last confrontation.  This may mean that the TimeLords decided to answer the Dalek question once and for all, but judging from the changes in Dalek design it is more likely that the Daleks initiated the war.  The new design also suggests that the Daleks knew that their old travel machines could not stand up to the temporal forces that would be unleashed during the war.  Therefore having decided on this course of action the Emperor must have ordered the construction of a new casing, which are the ones we see in “Dalek,” as well as “Bad Wolf” and “Parting of the Ways.”  Having once bolstered their forces the Dalek fleet must have left Skaro and headed towards Gallifrey.  The TimeLords, alerted to the approach of the Dalek fleet, put out a call for all TimeLords to return to Gallifrey, including the Doctor.  Little is known about the actual events of the war itself, however it must have been fought through several solar systems and over several time zones.  It may have been fought within the Time Vortex itself, as evidence from the new series suggests that several cultures were affected.  By pulling together this information here is what we can establish:

  1. The war devastated several worlds throughout time and space.  Both the Nestene Consciousness in “Rose,” and The Gelth in “The Unquiet Dead” make mention that their worlds were devastated by the war.
  2. The Doctor, in his 8th incarnation, took part in the war, that his regeneration was a result of the war (he implies that he is recently regenerated when he looks at his reflection during the episode Rose), and that the destruction wrought on both Gallifrey and Skaro was a direct result of the Doctor’s actions.   This is established in the episode “Dalek,” when the Doctor mentions that he not only saw the Dalek fleet burn, but also that he “made it happen.”  We can assume that the catastrophic event that the Doctor implemented also caused great physical harm to his body, causing him to regenerate.
  3. The war ended with the total destruction of both the TimeLords and the Daleks.  The Doctor tells Rose that his people were destroyed at the end of “End of the World,” and that he was the last TimeLord.
  4. Both the planets Gallifrey and Skaro are destroyed as a result of the war, the Doctor telling Rose that his home world was dust.  None of the TimeLords save the Doctor survive, and the Daleks are also destroyed.
  5. At the moment of destruction a lone Dalek warrior falls through the temporal vortex crashing on late twentieth century Earth, where it is sold at private auctions from collector to collector (Dalek).
  6. The Emperor’s mother ship also survives, escaping through the vortex forward 200,000 years towards the time of the 4th Great and Bountiful Human Empire.  Crippled, the Emperor and the few surviving Daleks begin to slowly infiltrate Earth’s culture while harvesting mankind’s castoffs (prisoners, the poor, etc.) to mutate into a new Dalek race.
  7. Hundred of years pass and the Emperor’s power grows.  He realizes that in order to control Earth, he must control the source of Earth’s information net, and therefore manages to install in the Earth News Communication Network the Jagrafess (The Long Game).  Through the Jagrafess the Emperor is able to control Earth’s development, so that by the time the Doctor and Rose arrive on Satellite Five, there is very little left of the 4th Great and Bountiful Human Empire.
  8. 100 years are supposed to have passed between “The Long Game” and “Bad Wolf,” and in that time the new Dalek race has multiplied to half a million Daleks.  Created out of human DNA the Emperor now considers himself a god, and rules over his subjects with the intention of creating a new paradise on Earth.    It is at this point that the Doctor returns to Satellite Five and the last great encounter between the Doctor and the Daleks take place.  At the end of “Parting of the Ways,” Rose, having absorbed the power of the Time Vortex, accelerates the Emperor and his Daleks to the point of dust, and the Time War is finally over.  Or is it…?

Unfortunately there are a lot of questions raised by the sequence of events as listed above, and it may be that the actual details of these events may never truly come to light.  Exactly how the Emperor and his few surviving Daleks were able to infiltrate Earth’s security, install the Jagrafess, and start “beaming” people from Earth to their Mother-ship to be mutate into the new Dalek race leaves much to conjecture.  Why did Earth security not notice the disappearance of so many of it’s citizens?  Where did the Daleks find the material to rebuild their fleet?  It may be that these questions may never be fully answered.  However when the Daleks return (and we know that they will), a whole new series of questions will arise. How had these Daleks survived, where is their base of operations, etc.?  It may be that the Daleks the 10th Doctor will encounter may be the survivors from the Seriphia Galaxy, or they may be the final creations of Davros.  In addition Big Finish’s “Dalek Empire III’ needs to be considered into the continuity.  Only the production team at present knows what the answer is to be, and, as with the History of the Daleks itself, the history of the Time War may need to be revised as new information comes to light.

Special thanks to Andrew Panero.

Article © 2006 John Rocco Roberto/Visagraph Films International.