The Day of the Doctor Poster

The Day of the Doctor – An Impossible Doctor Who 50th Anniversary Theory

So, now that the title of Doctor Who’s 50th anniversary has been revealed, along with the first official poster, there have been a few articles about what clues have been exposed thus far. Today, I want to talk ‘mostly’ about one of these clues: the most glaring one in the poster, the famous phrase Bad Wolf.

Why do I call this theory impossible? Well, it’s so bizarre that even I’m not convinced it will happen. Nevertheless, sometimes the impossible is possible, sometimes an outlandish theory just might be right. And above all else, this is Doctor Who we’re talking about after all. So bear with me as I consider just one strange possibility.

Several months ago, I along with several others on Tumblr, came up with endless theories on just who Clara was. Now that we mostly know, I look back on my theory and still see merit because it connects to another theory my sister and I have been brewing for a couple of years now, one that eerily seems to coincide with the actual title of the 50th anniversary: “The Day of the Doctor.”

Now, this is not a short theory. However, I hope you will stick around and hear me out for the duration. Furthermore, this may not be a popular theory for a portion of the fandom. Still, I hope everyone will keep an open mind. I believe that if anyone wants to figure out what Steven Moffat is going to do in the future, I truly believe one need only look to the writing he has done in the past. He loves to repeat themes and ideas, going back as far as series one. Here are just some of my thoughts before I tie it all together at the end:

1. Who is the Doctor?

What is his name? Clearly, Moffat wanted to build this up in a blatant way, the series 7 finale even titled “The Name of the Doctor.” This idea goes back for Moffat as far as “The Girl in the Fireplace” with Madame de Pompadour when she sees inside his head:

Madame de Pompadour (Sophia Myles) gets inside the Doctor’s (David Tennant) mind. Photo: BBC

Doctor… Doctor who?

Reinette looks at him 

It’s more than just a secret, isn’t it?

See what I mean? He has always had a story he wants to tell (who is the doctor with his mysterious secret that must never be spoken) and he has had it in his head for a while. Either that or he’s merely repeating the same thing. He loves to go back to his old ideas, to the past. Looking to the past, we can get an idea of what Moffat will do in the future. Perhaps his big secret is John Hurt’s Doctor.

2. The Dates on the graves.

Speaking of the past, the dates on Clara and her mother’s graves stand out. At first, I thought this connected mainly to the theory of who Clara was but now I see something more and still think it could be important. First, Victorian Clara was born on November 23, the date the show first began.

Victorian Clara’s grave
Photo: BBC

Then, the date her mother died was March 05, 2005, the day New Who was originally meant to air.

Photo: BBC

It’s also the day the Doctor flew off with Rose, not the day they met (which so many confuse) but the day she left. It was their beginning, a new beginning for Doctor Who. This will tie into the Doctor’s beginnings. It will be a kind of meta as this whole “Doctor Who” thing has been for a while. Meaning, the audience will be aware this is a show when we learn a bit about the Doctor’s past that will tie in with the beginning of the classic show and the new show at the same time. Perhaps the 50th anniversary will be about both beginnings.

3. “The Girl in the Fireplace” and the curse of the Time Lords

I think people misunderstand “The Girl in the Fireplace” because Moffat’s execution and consistency were problematic (see I did say not everyone in the fandom would like my opinions). Still, I find that the actual meaning of the episode is all about Rose Tyler. I know, I know. Not really what some people want to hear. But do hear me out. This episode takes place after “School Reunion” in which the Doctor admits to Rose that (from Doctor Who transcripts):

I don’t age. I regenerate. But humans decay. You wither and you die. Imagine watching that happen to someone who you—

He stops when he realizes what he was about to say. 

What, Doctor?

Photo: BBC

The Doctor stares at her intensely, as if willing her to understand. 

You can spend the rest of your life with me.

Rose looks up at him, eyes shining with unshed tears. 

But I can’t spend the rest of mine with you. I have to live on. Alone. That’s the curse of the Time Lords.

The curse is that he lives on when those he loves die. And who does he love? Rose. He clearly almost said it here. But he holds back saying it aloud (a recurrent theme of series 2) because he knows he will lose her one day. Then aired “The Girl in the Fireplace,” where the Doctor seemingly falls for Reinette (Madame de Pompadour). But it’s not love. Reinette is merely a metaphor for Rose.

While Moffat messes up continuity in this episode a bit (as in not recognizing that Rose didn’t want to travel with Mickey), he knows what the recurring theme or arc for the Doctor is (i.e. losing Rose one day) and so I believe he turned their relationship into a metaphor. The idea of spending only one day with Reinette and then losing her is symbolic of his relationship with Rose: that it will feel like only one day to him and then: poof, she’s gone because that is his curse as we see at the end of the season when he actually loses her. His time with Rose is like a day just like his time with Reinette was literally a day for him and a lifetime for her.



Good Lord… she was right. She said you never looked a day older.

(the Doctor raises his eyebrows)

So many years since I saw you last, yet not a day of it on your face.

Once again, it’s the Curse of the Timelords. By the time he makes it back to Reinette, she was dead and gone but he had to live on.

4. “A Christmas Carol.”

And speaking of repetition, where does this idea of “one day” pop up again? “A Christmas Carol,” in which Michael Gambon’s character (Dumbledore for those who can’t remember) must choose one last day to spend with his beloved. It ties altogether when you think about it: the curse of the time lords, the Doctor’s immortality versus his companions’ mortality. To him, again, it is like a day when he loses them. But it’s more than that here. Let us take a closer look at the parallel between Kazran and the Doctor with their actual words:

Photo: BBC

All my life, I’ve been called heartless. My other life, my real life, the one you rewrote. Now, look at me.

Better a broken heart than no heart at all.

Oh, try it. You try it. [The Doctor clearly thinking about his own broken heart] Why are you here?

Cause I’m not finished with you yet. (walks forward) You’ve seen the past, the present…and now you need to see the future.

Fine! Do it! Show me! I’ll die cold, alone and afraid. Of course, I will, we all do! What difference does showing me make? Do you know why I’m going to let those people die? It’s not a plan. I don’t get anything from it. It’s just that I don’t care. I’m not like you. I don’t even want to be like you! I don’t and never, ever will care!


Could you do it? Could you do this? Think about it, Doctor. One last day with your beloved. Which day would you choose?

The Doctor clearly ponders this question. So what day would he choose? Photo: BBC

Immediately after:

(steps out) Christmas.

The Doctor’s face on the word Christmas. Photo: BBC

ABIGAIL: Christmas Day. Look at you. (puts a hand on his cheek) So old now. I think you waited a bit too long, didn’t you?

I’m sorry.

Hoarding my days, like an old miser.

Kazran thinks he’s nothing like the Doctor with his cold and bitter ways. But he is. Just like Kazran, the Doctor has power over time. Kazran has a choice to spend one more day with his beloved just as the Doctor has many choices to make for other people’s days as he plays with them and rewrites their timelines, playing the part of a god.

The Doctor and Kazran are both old, cold, and have suffered great losses. They have both lost their beloveds. The Doctor has lost Rose. And in this episode we are definitely meant to think about Rose, thinking about the Doctor’s favorite day (according to the song by Murray Gold) which was Christmas with her.

The Doctor and Rose in “The Christmas Invasion.” Photo: BBC

Here are the actual lyrics from “Song for Ten,” played in “The Christmas Invasion,” Tennant’s first full episode (the song foreshadows the Doctor and Rose’s end):

Well I woke up today
And the world was a restless place
It could have been that way for me

And I wandered around
And I thought of your face
That Christmas looking back at me

I wish today was just like every other day
‘Cause today has been the best day

Everything I ever dreamed

And I started to walk
Pretty soon I will run
And I’ll come running back to you

‘Cause I followed my star
And that’s what you are
I’ve had a merry time with you

I wish today was just like every other day
‘Cause today has been the best day
Everything I ever dreamed

So have a good life
Do it for me
Make me so proud
Like you want me to be
Where ever you are
I’m thinking of you oceans apart
I want you to know

Well I woke up today and you’re on the other side
Our time will never come again
But if you can still dream
Close your eyes it will seem
That you can see me now and then

I wish today was just like every other day
‘Cause today has been the best day
Everything I ever dreamed.

Now if you think about the “one-day” analogy, it may bring up ideas of Rose once more. Did Steven Moffat have an idea even then? Certainly, in an interview I read from him a while back (I’d link it but I can’t find it anymore), he said that he had a story in the back of his mind for Rose if he ever brought her back. Could this be part of that story now that he’s bringing her back?

Finishing the analogy of the one last day, thus completing the circle of his curse? Also, we have seen the Doctor lose it before in a big way (i.e. Time Lord Victorious). Will the Doctor one day need to look to his past, present and future just as Kazran did? It’s interesting to think about how Clara has been presented so far: in the future, in the past, and in the present. She is in all of the Doctor’s timelines. Is this more important than we realize?

5. Clara as a metaphor

Clara (Jenna Louise Coleman) falling into the Doctor’s timeline in “The Name of the Doctor.” Photo: BBC

Playing with metaphors, I get to one of my main points: The mystery was not about who Clara was as several had theorized, it was about why. Well, why? Clara was Clara, she had just jumped into the Doctor’s timeline. But I think there is another purpose for Clara. I also still believe she has a double meaning, and that much of Clara is a metaphor for Rose (or at least Clara’s mother is a metaphor for Rose).  She ‘could’ be a metaphor in the way Reinette was.

Now, what do I mean about metaphor? I mean, that everything about the Doctor and Clara has more than just the literal meaning. IF you go back to the prequel to the second half of series 7, the theme of being lost comes back in a strong way. It also echoes “The Girl in the Fireplace” and the idea of the lonely god. From the prequel:

Are you lonely?

And why would I be lonely?

Because you’re sad. Have you lost something?


When I lose something, I go to a private place and I close my eyes. And then I can remember where I put it.

Good plan

I’m always losing things (goes on to list a bunch of things she has lost) 


What did you lose?


My friend. I met her twice before and I lost her both times and now I don’t think I’ll ever find her again.

Like I said, the idea of “lost” is important but why? The theme of being lost and found can also be seen in other series 7 episodes, including the two Neil Cross ones, “The Rings of Akhaten” and “Hide” as well as the  Mark Gatiss’ episode “Cold War.” I don’t believe that Neil Cross or Mark Gatiss were the ones to come up with this theme, however. This is Moffat’s idea, especially considering that the theme goes as far back as the prequel. So why again does Cross and Gatiss bring it up in their episodes? Because it’s important.

In the present day, Clara really was lost but in the “The Rings of Akhaten,” the Doctor had already found her. So why did this theme continue to be so blatant? Could it have just referred to Clara eventually being lost in the timeline? It is more possible than my theory (I did call this one impossible). But what if there was more than one meaning? What if Moffat was also getting prepared for the 50th anniversary?

Rose Tyler (Billie Piper) returns as Bad Wolf to save the Doctor in “The Parting of the Ways.” Photo: BBC

When you think about it deeper who else has the Doctor lost twice that he thinks he will never see again? Rose. Rose is lost but she always finds the Doctor. She always makes her way back to him (as seen in series 1, 2, and 4). Think of Bad Wolf, signs she created to find her way back to the Doctor:

Rose shows how she scattered the words Bad Wolf across time and space. Photo: BBC

The Doctor she ends up saving and sharing a beautiful romantic moment and kiss:

The Ninth Doctor (Christopher Eccleston) and Rose kiss, the Doctor taking the power out of her. Photo: BBC

Or, Rose’s return in series 4 after being lost in a parallel universe:

The Tenth Doctor and Rose reunite with a hug in “Journey’s End.” Photo: BBC

It’s why she’s the one thing he believes in (with possible reference once again in “The God Complex” with the ambiguity of what he had faith in).

Amy Pond (Karen Gillan) realizes the dark secrecy of the Doctor when he ignores her question on what Time Lords pray to in “The God Complex.” Photo: BBC

Rose Tyler always finds him even though it seems impossible, just as this theory seems. And the Doctor never stops believing in her.

6. Rose Tyler and Clara Oswald

The connections to Rose and Clara are strong.  For instance, one strange (and possible, yet eerie coincidence) is that Clara’s surname is Oswald and so was the man who killed JFK on the day before Doctor Who premiered back in 1963. But besides that odd coincidence of date and name is that in the first episode of the return of Doctor Who in 2005, the show does in fact actually connect to JFK, revealing a picture of the Ninth Doctor at the assassination. It would be easy to connect NewWho to OldWho actually [And on a creepier note, Lee Harvard Oswald was buried in Rose Hill Cemetery].

The Ninth Doctor in the crowd at the JFK assassination. Photo: BBC

For another  example, Oswin wears a huge rose in her hair the first time the Doctor speaks with her:

Oswin in “Asylum of the Daleks.” Photo: BBC

Then there is “The Rose & Crown” where Victorian Clara works as well as the rose on Victorian Clara’s grave.

From “The Snowmen.” Photo: BBC

Of course, we can’t forget the strongest connection with March 05, 2005 written on the grave.

7. “The Rings of Akhaten.”

Clara gives her speech in “The Rings of Akhaten.” Photo: BBC

And speaking of that March 2005 date, let me turn to that episode when Clara gives the speech about her mother:

The most important leaf in human history. It’s full of stories, full of history, and full of a future that never got lived. Days that should have been that never were, passed on to me. This leaf isn’t just the past. It’s a whole future that never happened. There are billions and millions of unlived days for every day we’ve lived. An infinity…all the days that never came. And these are all my mum’s.

When Clara says, “Days that should have been that never were,” it shows her mother’s grave (see above picture). When she then says, “passed on to me,” young Clara looks back to the Doctor (though she doesn’t know he’s watching):

Photo: BBC

Sure, a straightforward meaning simply suggests this to be about her mother and how that loss created an infinite amount of possibilities of what could have been. But if there is a double meaning here (which is possible since it has that Rose date on the grave), then it could mean the Doctor’s loss of what could have been with Rose was passed on to Clara (that she gets to travel with him), thus creating those infinite possibilities as well.

But if Rose, like Clara’s mother, is what is lost (and Clara’s mother always finds her) then what does that say about Rose finding the Doctor once more? I say it’s a possibility and it’s something that Moffat could be playing with; the Doctor even admitting he had lost things he believes the false god would never understand (“The Rings of Akhaten”).

The Eleventh Doctor (Matt Smith) in pain after telling the false god to take his memories. Photo: BBC

And continuing the Rose connections in this particular episode, it’s difficult not to think of “Father’s Day.” The way that Clara’s mother saves her father is almost the same thing. It’s an echo. Even the car looks almost the same as if they were meaning to have us think of that episode even more than we already did. Not that it is the same car, but that it’s a message to us what that car represents. And that is Rose.

Another connection, going back to “The Rings of Akhaten,” is when Clara tells the little girl of how she got lost on a beach one day as a child: the world ended, her heart broke, and then her mother found her (like she always does). Yeah, beaches definitely make me think of Rose and Bad Wolf Bay.

Rose, unable to touch the Doctor on Bad Wolf Bay in “Doomsday.” Photo: BBC

The Doctor lost Rose, his heart broke, the world ended (as it usually does) and then she found him (“Stolen Earth”).

8. Hungry Like the Wolf

In “Cold War,” Clara sings “I’m lost and I’m found. I’m hungry like the wolf.” A coincidence or something more? Perhaps we were all too busy considering who Clara was, to think about anything else going on. Is Clara like Bad Wolf? In some ways yes of course but again what if there is more than one meaning? What if we are meant to recognize that Bad Wolf is returning? It’s certainly interesting that the phrase Bad Wolf (a sign to get back to the Doctor) is one of the first clues we have been given about this mysterious anniversary episode.

9. “Hide.”

The episode “Hide” contains some insanely good Rose references. See Rebecca’s romantic moment where she looks deeply into the connection between The Professor and Emma in comparison to the Doctor and Rose for a deeper analysis Here. In this romantic episode, the Professor, like the Doctor, is a war-torn hero who is in love with a younger girl he can’t admit out loud he loves. Like Rose, Emma becomes his comfort. The parallel between the Professor and the Doctor are unmistakable (re-watch the episode for sure) but so are the parallels between the lonely monster and the Doctor.

DOCTOR: It’s the oldest story in the universe, this one or any other. Boy and girl fall in love, get separated by events. War, politics, accidents in time. She’s thrown out of the hex, or he’s thrown into it. Since then they’ve been yearning for each other across time and space, across dimensions. This isn’t a ghost story, it’s a love story!

Sound like anything else we know? It certainly doesn’t sound like Clara (no love story there yet) or River Song. No, this is all Rose, how she and the Doctor were separated by a parallel universe.

The Doctor senses Rose after just getting separated from her in “Doomsday.” Photo: BBC

Rose senses the Doctor on the other side. Photo: BBC

They did yearn for each other across time and space. Perhaps they will find their way back to each other once more?

10. The Woman in the Shop

In “The Bells of St. John,” Clara calls the Doctor’s Tardis because a woman in a shop gave her the number:

DOCTOR: Listen, where did you get this number?
CLARA [OC]: The woman in the shop wrote it down. It’s a helpline, isn’t it? She said it’s the best helpline out there. In the universe, she said.
DOCTOR: What woman? Who was she?
CLARA [OC]: I don’t know. The woman in the shop. So…

Hmm. Not only was this mysterious woman not explained by season’s end, but it also reminds me of Rose. Rose, when she first met the doctor, was just your ordinary shop girl, nothing special, nothing extraordinary, not until she met the Doctor. When I hear “woman in the shop,” I can’t help but think of Rose because she met the Doctor in a shop back in March 2005, once again coinciding with the date on the grave of Clara’s mother. More than that, however, is that the question of “What woman? Who was she?” strongly parallels the Tenth Doctor’s question to Donna about the blonde woman who whispered “Bad Wolf” in her ears right before Rose’s reunion with the Doctor. From “Turn Left:”

DONNA: She said that.
DOCTOR: Who did?
DONNA: That woman. I can’t remember.
DOCTOR: Well, she never existed now.
DONNA: No, but she said the stars. She said the stars are going out.
DOCTOR: Yeah, but that world’s gone.
DONNA: No, but she said it was all worlds. Every world. She said the darkness is coming even here.
DOCTOR: Who was she?
DONNA: I don’t know.
DOCTOR: What did she look like?
DONNA: She was blonde.
DOCTOR: What was her name?
DONNA: I don’t know.
DOCTOR: Donna, what was her name?
DONNA: But she told me to warn you. She said two words.

Rose whispers in Donna’s (Catherine Tate) ear in “Turn Left.”

DOCTOR: What two words? What were they? What did she say?
DONNA: Bad Wolf.

Compelling when you put the two side by side because we have the exact same line: “Who was she,” followed by the response, “I don’t know.” And it all connects to Bad Wolf in “Turn Left.” What if this woman in a shop also connects to Bad Wolf?


Basically, I think that all this double meaning could suggest that Rose will find the Doctor again. I also think it connects to Bad Wolf who saw everything (the past, the present, and the future). She saw what could be and she made things happen to save the Doctor and to get back to the Doctor. I believe, as just one crazy theory, that Bad Wolf will connect everything to the past, to the beginnings of the Doctor and the two beginnings of the show (something that would work rather well for an anniversary special). I also think that it could connect to the Time War, considering that Bad Wolf claimed to finish the war in “The Parting of the Ways.” Furthermore, Bad Wolf could have also brought Clara to the Doctor because she saw that it was necessary, thus creating the leaf of destiny.

The Leaf in “The Rings of Akhaten.” Photo: BBC

The leaf that ultimately leads Clara to the Doctor before she spreads across time and enters his timeline (coinciding with the woman in the shop which still remains unanswered). Perhaps, Bad Wolf brought Clara to the Doctor as a way to save the Doctor but also a way to find him one last time.

Tying it all even closer together in relation to the “The Day of the Doctor,” I want to go back to the metaphor of the one day that I talked about in relation to “A Christmas Carol” and “The Girl in the Fireplace,” both episodes written by Moffat using intentional metaphors and parallels to the Doctor and Rose. Interesting isn’t it when you consider the new title of the episode “The Day of the Doctor?”

Much of series 5-7 has driven me crazy because the Doctor has constantly broken his own rules. He crosses his own timelines and others’ timelines (a big no according to himself in earlier seasons) but why does he do it? An inconsistency Moffat created or is it something more? This is an idea my sister and I have considered for a long time now. What if the Doctor is crossing his own timelines because he never stopped being Time Lord Victorious? (Possibly telling is that the anniversary cast a younger Queen Elizabeth when the Doctor married her during this victorious phase).

What if in the back of the Doctor’s mind he thought he, like what he did for Kazran playing a god, he could rewrite his own timeline? What if the Doctor thinks he can have that one day with his beloved and he has been hoarding it for hundreds of years, aging just like Kazran? And what if “The Day of the Doctor” is about that metaphorical day where humans live and die seemingly in an instant?

What if the 50th anniversary is about the curse of the Time Lords? Furthermore, thinking about that particular episode, “A Christmas Carol,” Kazran does not choose to take his beloved out because that was the day he chose but because they needed her to save everyone. What if the Doctor’s one day with Rose must be taken to save the universe? Therefore, Rose could in fact die.

Now I’m not saying that the ENTIRE special will be about the Doctor and Rose. No, of course, I’m not suggesting that. The special will be about the Doctor.  I’m merely creating an “impossible” theory that just perhaps part of that story is not only about all of the Doctors and the Doctor’s long life but also about this metaphorical day with Rose. The Day, like prior Moffat episodes, will have a double meaning.

Read  PART 2,  Part 3Part 4 and Part 5 to continue this Theory!

UPDATE: Check out the FINAL part  HERE!

What do you think will happen in the 50th anniversary? Do you think this theory is possible? Or do you have another theory in mind? Sound off below…

ALSO, this is not a forum for negative attacks on anyone. It is for discussion only. You can agree, disagree with this theory (I might even agree with you), discuss, but don’t attack. Our site is not a place for inappropriate fandom behavior even though we understand Doctor Who is a series that brings out strong emotions. We look for intelligent, thoughtful conversation here. Bring rude behavior elsewhere, or better yet…stop being rude altogether! But if you still can’t help yourself and continue to feel the need to behave inappropriately on our site, don’t be surprised if, like the cybermen, we delete you.

Silver Petticoat Review Logo Our romance-themed entertainment site is on a mission to help you find the best period dramas, romance movies, TV shows, and books. Other topics include Jane Austen, Classic Hollywood, TV Couples, Fairy Tales, Romantic Living, Romanticism, and more. We’re damsels not in distress fighting for the all-new optimistic Romantic Revolution. Join us and subscribe. For more information, see our About, Old-Fashioned Romance 101, and Modern Romanticism 101.
If you enjoyed this article, please help us spread the word! Share with your friends or save to Pinterest to read later.


You May Also Like: