In both the original run and since the 2005 revival, long-running British science fiction television programme Doctor Who has featured a number of story arcs. A story arc is an extended story which takes place over a larger number of episodes or serials, characterised by a gradual unfolding of plot points and introduction of narrative devices which come together in the arc's climax and dénouement. While character arcs exist over the course of many stories, they do not necessarily take the shape of an expanded story arc. A number of smaller arcs in the programme have taken the form of trilogies.
References to these arcs have since been made in both Doctor Who and its spin-offs such as Torchwood. Early seasons would feature story arcs which made up extended serials such as The Trial of a Time Lord but also loose umbrella titles such as The Key to Time. The new series has continued this trend with the introduction of "arc words" which are recognisable to the larger viewing audience such as "Bad Wolf", "Torchwood" and "Mr Saxon", which also constitute the story arcs for individual seasons.
Season 8 of Doctor Who involved the first appearance of the Doctor's arch enemy, the Master, portrayed then by Roger Delgado. Every story in the season involved the Master. At the very beginning, the Doctor is warned by a Time Lord that the Master, a convicted criminal and enemy of the Doctor's, has escaped from Gallifrey and may come to Earth seeking revenge, as proves to be the case. During this first story, the Doctor sabotages the Master's TARDIS and so traps the Master, as he is, on Earth in the 20th century. At the denouement of the subsequent story, however, the Master retrieves a missing component and escapes – only to return subsequently as a prisoner of Axos. He is next encountered in the future on an alien world and finally returns to Earth; in both these last two adventures his intention is to subvert an ancient power source having previously stolen secret files on such things from the Time Lords. At the very end of the season (in The Dæmons), UNIT finally captures the Master and takes him into custody.
The Key to Time is the umbrella title that links all six serials of Season 16 of Doctor Who. The arc was originally conceived of by producer Graham Williams, who had proposed it as part of his application for the producer's job in 1976. The name refers to the powerful artifact whose segments the Doctor, Romana and K-9 are searching for during the season.
A figure calling himself the White Guardian commissions the Doctor and K9, assisted by a new companion, the Time Lady Romana, to find the six segments of the Key to Time, a cosmic artifact resembling a perfect cube that maintains the equilibrium of the universe. Since it is too powerful for any single being to possess, it has been split into six different segments and scattered across space and time, disguised by the raw elemental power within them into any shape or size. However, since the forces balancing the universe are so upset, the White Guardian needs to recover the segments of the Key to stop the universe so that he can restore the balance. The White Guardian also warns the Doctor of the Black Guardian who also wishes to obtain the Key To Time for his own purposes.
The first segment is disguised as a lump of Jethryk on the planet Ribos. The second is the planet Callufrax, shrunk to miniature size by the space-hopping pirate planet Zanak. The third is the Great Seal of Diplos, which has been stolen by a criminal of that planet. The fourth is part of a statue on the planet Tara. The fifth has been consumed by the squid Kroll, causing it to turn into a gigantic monster. The final segment is a female humanoid — Princess Astra.
In the final episode, the Black Guardian, disguised as the White Guardian, attempts to take the Key from the Doctor. However, the Doctor sees through the figure's charade and orders the segments of The Key to Time to once again become scattered across all of time and space, bar the sixth, which he reinstates as Princess Astra.
The complete running time for all six serials in the arc is 633 minutes.
Key 2 Time is a series of CD audio plays released by Big Finish Productions. Over the course of three stories, the Fifth Doctor must hunt down the redistributed segments of the Key, which are decaying the dimensions around them. The Doctor soon discovers the decay is a direct result of his actions in the first search for the Key, his attempt to assemble the Key using a makeshift sixth segment disrupting the balance between the segments and causing them to decay. The story ends with the Key being reassembled and the Doctor subsequently destroying the Key in the Chaos Pool where it was first made, undoing the damage it has caused and preventing anything from ever using the Key again. The three stories are The Judgement of Isskar, The Destroyer of Delights and The Chaos Pool.
All serials of season 18 are linked together by the central theme of entropy. Within the season, the stories Full Circle, State of Decay and Warriors' Gate are also known as The E-Space Trilogy. The trilogy saw the TARDIS accidentally pass through a Charged Vacuum Emboitment (CVE) from its normal universe, N-Space, into a smaller one called E-Space. The trilogy served to introduce Adric as a companion in the first story Full Circle and marked the departure of companions Romana and K-9 Mark II in the final story Warriors' Gate. The season culminated in Logopolis where we learn that the CVEs were created by the Logopolitans to combat an Entropy field that ends up growing out of control due to interference by the the Master and threatens to destroy the entire universe.
Overlapping the entropy arc are these three stories which cover the regeneration into Peter Davison's Fifth Doctor, chronicles the Master as he attempts to procure a new body, and return to his old patterns of trying to conquer the universe and defeat the Doctor. The trilogy was also used to introduce Nyssa of Traken and Tegan Jovanka as the Doctor's new companions. They were released on DVD in 2007 under the title New Beginnings.
During these three stories in season twenty, the Black Guardian tries to have the Doctor assassinated for denying him the Key To Time. To this end, he employs the mysterious extraterrestrial English boys' school student Vislor Turlough.
The Trial of a Time Lord is the title of the fourteen-part serial that encompasses the entirety of Season 23. In the serial, the Sixth Doctor stands accused of transgressing the First Law of Time, with adventures from his past, present, and future examined and used as evidence of guilt or innocence.
"Bad Wolf" was a message spread throughout time and space by Rose Tyler after infusing herself with the power of the time vortex at the heart of the TARDIS. Describing herself as "see[ing] the whole of time and space", Rose acquired omnipotent reality warping abilities which she also used to obliterate a Dalek fleet. The Doctor then removed the lethal power of the time vortex from her through a kiss, saving her life and becoming the catalyst for his next regeneration. The full extent to which Rose used the power of the time vortex is unknown; even to Rose herself, who seemingly could not completely recall her actions (as evident from her genuine shock at Captain Jack's "death" in "Journey's End").
|“||I am the Bad Wolf. I create myself. I take the words. I scatter them ... in time, and space. A message to lead myself here.||”|
—Rose Tyler in "The Parting of the Ways".
|“||I can see everything, all that is, all that was, all that ever could be.||”|
— Rose Tyler in "The Parting of the Ways".
The phrase first appeared in the second episode of the 2005 series, and then in every story of that series thereafter. It also occasionally appeared in the 2006 to 2008 series.
Within the 2005 series of Doctor Who, the arc comprised the following episodes:
Since the initial arc, the phrase Bad Wolf has reappeared in the background of many other scenes. 2007 series episode "Gridlock" features the Japanese word Akurō, Japanese for "evil wolf", labelled on poster in a car. The episode "Love & Monsters" establishes that all contemporary computer files on Rose have been wiped out by the "Bad Wolf" virus. Torchwood episode "Captain Jack Harkness" featured the phrase as graffiti in a Welsh dance hall, and in Torchwood book Another Life by Peter Anghelides, a large part of the plot revolves around the Blaidd Drwg nuclear power station. In a re-creation of classic Second Doctor serial The Invasion , the animators slipped a Bad Wolf on the wall where Zoe scribbled the phone number. Other allusions since "The Parting of the Ways" include the 2006 series episode "Tooth and Claw", in which the Host mentions that Rose has "seen [the wolf] too", and that there is "something of the wolf about [her]".
The phrase reappeared in the 2008 series episode "Turn Left": In the alternate timeline, Rose whispers the words to a dying Donna Noble. With the timeline restored, Donna passes the message on to the Doctor. When the pair rush out of the fortune teller's tent, all of the text on every sign has turned into "Bad Wolf", including the TARDIS' backlit signs and the information sheet on the exterior of its telephone cupboard. This is interpreted by the Doctor to be the end of the universe, as further evidenced by the sound of the TARDIS's cloister bell.
There was an earlier visual reference in the 2008 series: one of the drawings by the little girl (in episode "Forest of the Dead") featured a blonde girl and a wolf.
The phrase was similarly used as a precursor explanation of possible inconsistencies, such as in "Love & Monsters", effectively attributing them to the actions of Rose as the Bad Wolf during "The Parting of the Ways". As the phrase is a reminder of the connection between the Doctor and Rose, it appears explicitly in their final farewell; in "Doomsday", the Doctor projects an image to say goodbye to Rose on a (fictional) beach in the Norway of the parallel Earth called "Dårlig Ulv Stranden", which she translates from Norwegian as "Bad Wolf Bay". (The correct translation is "Poorly [Unwell] Wolf Beach", or an implication that it is not a very good (in the sense of competent, mentally sound) wolf. As noticed by the Doctor, the pronunciation of "Dårlig" with an English accent sounds suspiciously close to "Dalek".
Also on the Doctor Who website, the Captain Jack monster file for Judoon, there is an advert for good wolf insurance.
The tie-in websites set up by the BBC to accompany the series also featured appearances of the phrase. The "Who is Doctor Who?" site featured a clip from "World War Three" with an American newsreader. This clip differed from the one shown in the broadcast version in only one respect: the newsreader was identified as "Mal Loup", French for "bad wolf". At one point, the Doctor is described as being off "making another decision for us, all 'I'm the big bad wolf and it's way past your bedtime'".
The UNIT website also used "badwolf" as a password to enter the "secure" areas of the website. The Geocomtex website's support page has BADWOLF transcribed in Morse Code, and its products page make mention of Lupus and Nocens variants for their "node stabilisers" (lupus nocens is Latin for "wolf who harms"). They also offered "Argentum Ordnance", argentum being Latin for "silver" — silver bullets being traditionally used for killing werewolves.
In the background image of the BBC Doctor Who website's TARDISODE page, the words "BAD WOLF" can be seen scrawled behind Mickey Smith. The graffiti can also be seen in the background of Rose Tyler's character page.
In one of the areas in the Ghostwatch game, "BAD WOLF" is written as graffiti on a wall.
There were two "Bad Wolf" references in the Doctor Who Magazine Ninth Doctor comic strips. In Part Two of The Love Invasion (DWM #356, May 2005), there is a poster on the wall of a pub reading "Bad Wolf". In Part One of A Groatsworth of Wit (DWM #363, December 2005), a tavern sign in Elizabethan London features a picture of a wolf's head and the initials "B.W."
The cover of issue 397 of DWM, which was released shortly after the broadcast of "Turn Left", replaces the title logo and strap lines with "Bad Wolf".
The 2006 series featured "Torchwood" as its arc word, an anagram of "Doctor Who" that was used as the codename for the new series of Doctor Who while filming its first few episodes and on the 'rushes' tapes to ensure they were not intercepted.
The word had first appeared in Doctor Who in the 2005 series episode "'Bad Wolf", as an answer during The Weakest Link game show scenes (the Great Cobalt Pyramid was built on the ruins of the famous Old Earth Torchwood Institute). The word's seeding throughout the 2006 series allowed the BBC to introduce its viewing audience to a concept which would eventually form the basis of a spin-off series, Torchwood, set in modern-day Cardiff and involving a mysterious organisation which investigates alien activities and crime. The series features John Barrowman as former companion Jack Harkness and premiered in October 2006.
The actual "Torchwood" arc of Doctor Who spanned from "The Christmas Invasion" to "Doomsday", although the phrase had appeared before in "Bad Wolf". After the Torchwood Institute had been established as an element of the Doctor Who universe, it has naturally reappeared in Doctor Who since and has been an integral feature of spin-off Torchwood.
Online appearances include the Doctor Who homepage for the week preceding, one of the contestants (Strood) is said to be from "Torchwood", and on the fictitious Torchwood House website set up by the BBC where it states the name "Torchwood" was derived from the wood from which the staircase was made. In a concurrent 2006 adventure, the organisation was mentioned by a senior officer in the U.S. Navy in the Tenth Doctor story, New Series Adventures novel The Feast of the Drowned.
The name "Mr Saxon" has appeared several times, beginning with a newspaper headline in "Love & Monsters" in Series 2 (2006), and continuing in "The Runaway Bride" (2006), where it was established as the new arc word for Series 3 (2007). The arc was more thoroughly explained in "The Sound of Drums" (2007), which connected the rise of the mysterious Mr Saxon as a new Prime Minister to an old enemy of the Doctor's, as well as the fall of Harriet Jones from office at the Doctor's own hands after she ordered Torchwood to shoot down the Sycorax spaceship during "The Christmas Invasion".
In "Utopia", when the resurrected Master attempted to steal the TARDIS, the Doctor used his sonic screwdriver to lock the TARDIS to no more than 18 months prior to its last location, which was February 2008. Arriving in Britain during the power vacuum left by Harriet Jones' departure, the Master created a complete alias for himself as "Mr Harold Saxon", and quickly rose to prominence as Secretary of State for Defence; he redesigned the cabinet rooms destroyed during "World War Three", as well as created a new "Archangel network" of satellites, and the Valiant UNIT aircraft carrier.
Using the Archangel network, Saxon sent subliminal messages encoded in the sound of drums to enable the British people to trust him and ultimately vote for him. The satellite signals also drowned out the Doctor's telepathic ability to sense the presence of another Time Lord on Earth.
The Master began setting traps for the Doctor through his companion Martha and her family. He funded Professor Lazarus's genetic rejuvenation experiments in "The Lazarus Experiment", and ensured that Lazarus hired Martha's sister Tish to lure the Doctor. Using the events at LazLabs as a catalyst, he ensured Martha's mother Francine's distrust of the Doctor, and manipulated her to trace Martha's phone calls on her superphone. By the time the Doctor, Martha and Jack finally return to Earth in 2008, the Master had established his identity as Mr Saxon, acquiring a wife and companion in Lucy Saxon. He ruled Earth for a year, but was eventually defeated when the world's remaining population - united by Martha's tales of their exploits - psychically connected to the Doctor, enhancing his psychic abilities to the extent that the Doctor could de-age himself and overpower the Master.
Russell T Davies hinted in Doctor Who Magazine that the next arc word for Doctor Who was something spoken by The Master in the final two episodes of Series 3 - "The Sound of Drums" and "Last of the Time Lords". He has since stated that there is no specific arc word, but each episode of series four will have an element of the arc theme, which will carry through to the finale.
Four takes a somewhat different approach to the previous series. Russell T Davies says: "You've got to watch and listen closely. It's been seeded for a long time, with small but vital references going all the way back to series one. And remember the Master, in "Last of the Time Lords", mentioning the Medusa Cascade? Oh, that's going to come back to haunt us..." (Doctor Who Magazine Issue 394)
The series finale which was a two part story with "The Stolen Earth" and "Journey's End" saw the climax of many references and events not just made over the course of the series but of the entire series from the 2005 revival. This was done so that head writer Russell T Davies could leave a blank slate for his successor. The episodes saw the significance of the Medusa Cascade and the disappearance of the bees on Earth revealed. Also several prophesies were fulfilled (as stated below). The numerous references to disappeared planets such as Adipose 3 and the Lost Moon of Poosh all come into play. The importance of the Doctor having kept the hand he lost in a fight on Christmas Day is seen along with having Martha Jones' phone on-board the TARDIS. As the Doctor's soul is 'revealed' by Davros there are clips shown of the people who have sacrificed themselves for him throughout the revived series. Also as many old characters return their significance is seen such as that of Torchwood and Harriet Jones. The Christmas special on the Titanic is also seen as important due to Mr. Copper creating the foundations of the sub-wave network used in "The Stolen Earth".
Other story and character arcs comprise a number of other episodes across the programme's history: