The Valeyard is a highly enigmatic character in Doctor Who, considered the Doctor’s greatest enemy. But what is the story behind his creation?
In the 1986 Doctor Who storyline, the Doctor was on trial for his life on a Gallifreyan space station, prosecuted by a formidable court official called the Valeyard. In a surprising twist during the thirteenth episode, the Master revealed that the Valeyard was actually the Doctor himself.
The Valeyard, according to the Master, was an “amalgamation of the darker sides of [the Doctor’s] nature, [taken] somewhere between [his] twelfth and final incarnation.” This made the Valeyard a unique “in-between” Doctor, devoid of any goodness.
This concept wasn’t entirely new to Doctor Who fans. They had seen a similar “in-between” Doctor called the Watcher in the 1981 story “Logopolis.” However, the Watcher was a more benign character, even warning the Fourth Doctor about his impending death.
The Valeyard, on the other hand, was entirely evil. He planned to kill his Sixth incarnation and steal his remaining regenerations, although the time travel logistics of this plan remain unclear.
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The Valeyard’s creation could be traced back to the Tenth Doctor’s final regeneration in “The End of Time – Part Two,” when he exclaimed, “I don’t want to go.” This powerful resistance caused the subsequent regeneration into the Eleventh Doctor to nearly destroy the TARDIS. The Master claimed that the Valeyard came into existence at this exact moment.
However, there’s some confusion regarding the Doctor’s numbering due to the “forgotten” War Doctor and the Tenth Doctor’s regeneration in “The Stolen Earth” without changing his appearance.
Is it possible for the Doctor to possess enough darkness to create the Valeyard? Certainly. Throughout Doctor Who history, there have been moments when the Doctor’s actions have been morally questionable.
From the early episodes like “An Unearthly Child” to the Sixth Doctor’s actions in “The Twin Dilemma” and the Seventh Doctor’s behavior in “The Curse of Fenric” and “Ghost Light,” there are numerous examples of the Doctor’s darker side. Even the Twelfth Doctor displayed a hint of the Valeyard’s darkness in “Deep Breath.”
But how did the Doctor transform into the Valeyard? The most plausible explanation comes from the Big Finish collection “The Last Adventure.” In the final part, “The Brink of Death,” it is suggested that the Time Lords created the Valeyard using black ops technology. This idea is further explored in another Big Finish story, “Trial of the Valeyard.”
The Valeyard continues to be a significant presence in the Doctor’s life, even mentioned in the 2013 episode “The Name of the Doctor.” However, it remains uncertain whether the character will make a return to the Whoniverse.
What are your thoughts on the Valeyard? Is he truly a future version of the Doctor, and did the Time Lords create him?