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Analyzing the Doctor Who 50th Anniversary Trailer: The Day of the Doctor ‘Impossible’ Theory Part 3

Snapshot from Doctor Who Trailer Photo: BBC; day of the doctor theory

Analyzing the Doctor Who 50th Anniversary Trailer: The Day of the Doctor ‘Impossible’ Theory Part 3

My analysis of the just-released trailer will make more sense if you read my “impossible” theory in both Part 1 and Part 2 first because this is a continuation of both as I consider the clues of the trailer in connection to my theories.

In short, I theorized that the Doctor’s one day will tie in to Bad Wolf, one last day with his beloved (as foreshadowed in “A Christmas Carol,” and of course the day that will tie everything together from the beginnings of classic Who and New Who as the Doctor looks to his future just as Kazran did (it makes more sense if you read the theory in full).

The Trailer

[et_lb_video video_url=”http://youtu.be/loGm3vT8EAQ” css_class=””][/et_lb_video]

The Words of the Doctor

Matt Smith as The Doctor Photo: BBC
Matt Smith as The Doctor
Photo: BBC

Before I break down the different parts, I typed out the exact words from the trailer, clearly written specifically for the anniversary special with some clues thrown in. The Eleventh Doctor says:

“I have been running all my lives. Through time and space. Every second of every minute of every day for over 900 years. I fought for peace in a universe of war. Now the time has come to face the choices I have made in the name of the Doctor. Our future depends on one single moment of one impossible day. The day I have been running from all my life. The Day of the Doctor.”

The first time I watched it, I almost thought the words were just lines from an earlier episode. “How boring is that?” was the first thought that popped into my head until seconds later I realized it was indeed new (though I would have liked to hear another Doctor’s voice besides a small echo from the eighth doctor). It sounded SO familiar because one of the lines has been said before. These words go back to “The Wedding of River Song:”

The Question

“The Wedding of River Song:”

Dorium Maldovar: So many secrets, Doctor.


Dorium Maldovar: I’ll help you keep them, of course.

The Doctor: Well, you’re not exactly going anywhere, are you?

Dorium Maldovar: But you’re a fool nonetheless. It’s all still waiting for you: the fields of Trenzalore, the fall of the Eleventh, and the question!

The Doctor: [salutes] Goodbye, Dorium!

Dorium Maldovar: [as Doctor exits] The first question! The question that must never be answered, hidden in plain sight. The question you’ve been running from all your life. Doctor who? Doctor who? Doc-tor who?

Will this question be answered? I hope not in full as I believe the appeal of the Doctor is the mystery surrounding him as a character. Sure we know almost everything about the Doctor now because 50 years is a long time to explore just who he is as an individual; nevertheless, we don’t have everything: the big secret of whom the Doctor is, what his true name means. Just what is the big secret?

I do talk about this briefly in the first part of my theory, the suggestion that Moffat repeats his themes and stories in all the episodes he has written. Because of the new dialogue given to us in the trailer, one aspect of my theory is worth revisiting: “The Girl in the Fireplace.” Not only do the lines in the trailer echo “The Wedding of River Song” but they also echo “The Girl in the Fireplace” with the same words used in Dorium’s speech:

REINETTE: (sadly)

Doctor… Doctor who?

Reinette looks at him


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

Two aspects of this speech stand out: 1) that the Doctor has more than just a secret and 2) the important question is “Doctor Who?” Why is this so important, though? I think we are about to find out as the Doctor ‘faces’ who he is and what his choices have turned him into and what it could turn him into in the future (the future is definitely important to Steven Moffat in just about every interview he has given about the special and the word is even used in the trailer).

Once I again, I emphasize that “The Day of the Doctor” will likely have two meanings just as “The Girl in the Fireplace” did: the literal and the metaphorical one. The secret of who the Doctor is will be the literal day of the doctor as he faces his past, his present, and his future. And this does indeed sound familiar, right? A little bit like Dickens’ tale of a crotchety old man that must face the choices he has made?

A Christmas Carol

Before I take a look at the Doctor Who episode of the same title (also written by Moffat), I want to briefly talk about the themes of Dickens’ story. The themes are dark and dreary but also full of hope and joy. The story begins in the biting winter of one night: Christmas Eve. Scrooge is presented as a grouchy and greedy old sinner who has compassion for no one. His past choices have led him down this dark and lonely path, a path without true friendship or love. Then that same night, Scrooge is visited by his old partner Jacob Marley who warns Scrooge that if he doesn’t change he will be punished with the same horrible afterlife as he has been sentenced to.

As other ghosts visit Scrooge, he revisits his past, back when he was innocent and in love. Scrooge is reminded of boyhood and better days. Then he visits the present where he learns what his horrible wages to Cratchit has done to Cratchit’s son Tiny Tim: sick because he cannot receive real treatment. Then the ghost of Christmas future shows Scrooge what his future holds. It is dark and without hope unless he decides to transform into a better human being. When he awakes on Christmas morning, Scrooge does indeed make a change and becomes a man with joy and goodness in his heart again; he has been reborn.

What is the point of talking about Dickens’ Christmas tale? Well, the theme of a character stuck in a dark winter until he can be reborn as a man anew (such as the awakenings of spring) can connect back to the Doctor. While not as mean and horrible as Scrooge, the Doctor is not as innocent as he was in his youth. He has made choices that have led him down dark paths, including the genocide of his own people and other races as well. He is not the man he once was. What will happen to the Doctor when he has to face the choices he has made? When he can no longer keep running from some terrible secret? Maybe this is the meaning of Sarah Jane holding the crystal ball as we enter into the Doctor’s past (note: the camera zooms inside the crystal ball on the words “face the choices”)? Maybe the Doctor will have to look back as well.

Sarah Jane holds the crystal ball. Photo: BBC

Moffat himself has already used A Christmas Carol with the character of Kazran becoming the Scrooge-like character that must have a transformation in order to save the day. In my first two parts of my theory, I discuss in more detail the connections between Kazran and the Doctor. As funny and quirky as the Doctor can seem, he most certainly is also old and cold in many ways. He is not full of light though he does save the world again and again. He has a dark, secretive side that he tries to keep from his companions.

In “Hide,” Emma even warns Clara of the Doctor’s darkness. She tells her not to trust him, that there is “a sliver of ice in his heart.” He is frozen in winter just as Scrooge was before the thawing could begin. The Doctor is broken now and Emma was right, Clara shouldn’t have trusted him. What did she get out of it? A relationship/friendship built on lies in which he keeps his interest in her a secret, a secret that leads to her possible death, a secret though that will seemingly unlock the secrets of the Time Lord himself.

The Leaf of Destiny

Clara's snapshot in the trailer. Photo: BBC
Clara’s snapshot in the trailer.
Photo: BBC

Another part of the trailer that intrigues me is the snapshot of Clara next to the leaf of destiny, the leaf that leads Clara to the Doctor because it was the leaf of endless possibilities; the leaf that brought Clara into existence when it brought her parents together. Again, I go into more detail in Part 1 of this theory but it is interesting that the leaf is brought up again. Isn’t this story meant to be over? Or perhaps it isn’t as finished as some would assume?

Just one more thing I noticed in the trailer regarding Clara and the leaf: Rose’s voice says “Doctor” on Clara’s face. Why Clara? Why Rose’s voice at all? Again I suggest the possibility that the leaf was a creation of Bad Wolf (these words are in the official poster), that she was the one to create it in order to bring Clara to the Doctor to save him because she could see all of time and space, she could see all the endless possibilities of what could be just as the leaf symbolizes these possibilities.

NOTE: In the trailer, the snapshot of Rose is in her Bad Wolf dark pink sweater.

The Metaphorical Day

Notice Rose to the left. Photo: BBC
Notice Rose to the left.
Photo: BBC

“Our future depends on one single moment of one impossible day. The day I have been running from all my life. The Day of the Doctor.”

The final words of the trailer go back to my original theory of the “one day” and what that means on a more symbolic level.  For Kazran, his one day was about his one last day with his beloved because, after that day, she would die. He was hoarding her days until he was old and broken just like the Doctor is old and broken. Kazran even asks the Doctor what day he would choose to spend with his beloved. No answer of course but clearly he thinks of Rose at this moment in time when one considers the subtext of the entire episode. Could that mean that he has been holding on to one last day with Rose just as Kazran did with his own love? That Moffat is once again going back to the themes of “The Girl in the Fireplace” when the Doctor literally spends one day with Reinette (but a lifetime for her), his time with Rose becoming the metaphorical meaning of one day?

In the trailer, during the word “impossible,” the shot zooms over to Rose.

Even more zoomed to the left. Photo: BBC
Even more zoomed to the left.
Photo: BBC

What if part of this one day is impossible? That she is indeed what is metaphorically impossible? Perhaps, just perhaps, one part of this special will be about the Doctor’s metaphorical last day with Rose, one last day with his beloved, the day he has been saving and also running from too. A part of “A Christmas Carol” has always been to look at love and what that loss signifies.

That all said, it is also highly possible for Rose not to be there in the present or future at all, but that she will be the love the Doctor is looking back on in the past, much like Scrooge. His choices did lead to him losing her (albeit to another version of himself).

Whatever the case, I really believe that this 50th-anniversary episode will be about transformation. At the end of the episode, in a way, the Doctor will be reborn and there will be closure to what has come before. There will be hope again for the Doctor.

My Impossible Theory

While coincidental, I was immensely amused that what I labeled an impossible theory for “The Day of the Doctor” became similar wording in the trailer when the Doctor said: “one impossible day.” Over and over again, I have picked up on Moffat’s continuous overarching theme of this “one day” in past stories he has written. Again, while what I say may seem impossible and unlikely to ever happen, the Doctor’s one day has already been called “one impossible day.” So maybe, just maybe my impossible theory is a part of what happens in the impossible “Day of the Doctor.”


UPDATE: Make sure to continue reading this theory in PART 4 and Part 5 


UPDATE: Check out the FINAL part  HERE along with an introduction to our new Column: Doctor Who Diaries.


What does everyone else think will happen in the anniversary? Do you have new theories brewing in your head after the new trailer? Sound off below…



Check out the personality types of Doctor Who characters Doctor Who Characters

Read about the Top 20 Byronic Heroes in Television (including the Doctor) Here

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By on October 20th, 2013

About Autumn Topping

In second grade, Autumn wrote her first story, “The Spinach Monster,” and hasn't stopped writing since. Intrigued by the tales her grandmother told of vampires, witches, and ghosts as a girl, she's always been drawn to the fantastic. Later, Autumn studied English and Creative Writing (continuing her love for classic literature and everything old-fashioned) and graduated with an MA in Children’s Literature and an MS in Library & Information Science from Simmons College. Currently, she co-runs this lovely site and works as a YA Librarian.

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7 thoughts on “Analyzing the Doctor Who 50th Anniversary Trailer: The Day of the Doctor ‘Impossible’ Theory Part 3”

  1. Greetings from New Zealand! I think your theories are excellent. I am hoping for some Rose / Clara time as I think the contrast of characters and the “love” angle could be interesting. What do you make of the grafitti NO MORE in the trailer?

      • Absolutely LOVE The Impossible Theory! Thank you soo much ! My own possible take on No More is in the episode Journey’s End Dalek Caan says “no more” also regarding why he betrayed Davros on behalf of the Doctor… Could be related or be the “other meaning”

  2. In part 1 of your theory, you mention how in Song for Ten it mentions Christmas and Rose, and the theme of choosing that one finale day in The Christmas Carol. I was thinking back to series 7 part one and Elven seems to mention Christmas lists a few times.

    Rory: “I don’t have a Christmas list.”
    Doctor: “I DO!”

    Doctor: “Someone has peeked at my Christmas list!”

    It might be a stretch to say that this has something to do with Rose returning and his saved day. But for some reason I still feel it wasn’t foreshadowing to Clara Oswin Oswald’s appearance.

  3. During one of the trailers, Rose is seen talking to the John Hurt Doctor and she says “the moment is coming”. I believe that this refers to the device the Doctor used to end the Time War which is simply referred to as “the moment”. Thanks for this in depth analysis! Love the long read!!

  4. Love your theory! I believe I noticed in the most recent trailer Rose’s eyes having a golden hue much like when she became Bad Wolf. Part of me wonders if she will become Bad Wolf again. Davrus said the Doctor forges weapons out of ordinary people. Perhaps Bad Wolf ends the Time War, but the Doctor feels it was him because without him Bad Wolf would have never been. Now you would say then the Doctor knew Rose’s fate all along, but not necessarily. He has said many times that things don’t always happen in order for him. It could be a future self actually “ended” the Time War. Just the moment it was “locked” was at 9th or earlier’s relative timeline. He has crossed his own timeline before. It was said the Doctor possessed the moment to end the Time War. Not that he had knowledge of it, but he owed it and would most surely use it to his advantage. What if that “one moment” is when the right “weapon” could end the Time War and lock it away forever, and the consequence he “must face” is that he sacrificed his love to save the universe? That would put a sliver of ice in anyone’s heart.


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