It was the final regular appearance of all the Tenth Doctor's companions, though they would all appear in cameos in The End of Time (barring Catherine Tate and Bernard Cribbins who prominently feature) to commemorate David Tennant's final story.
It was the second episode of a two-part story, preceded by The Stolen Earth, which itself had picked up the cliffhanger of Turn Left. It also had an open ending, which was quite different to how the previous seasons of the revived series ended; they each led into the next season's Christmas special, but this one did not. However, several issues were concluded: the Cult of Skaro had been completely wiped out in this episode with Dalek Caan's death, and the relationship between Rose Tyler and the Tenth Doctor also received closure in the form of a unique regeneration where the Doctor did not physically change, but rather, served as the genesis for a half-human clone.
The story also saw the first exploration into how the Doctor's self-sacrificial nature caused those around him to perform the same acts, something that would come back to plague him much later on, noticably in his twelfth incarnation, as seen in Face the Raven and The Doctor Falls.
All hell has broken loose! Humanity is threatened with global annihilation, as Davros and the New Dalek Empire prepare to detonate a bomb that will wipe out all of existence. The Tenth Doctor is helpless, and the TARDIS faces destruction. The only hope lies with the Doctor's companions — the "Children of Time" — but Dalek Caan predicts that one will die...
The Tenth Doctor's regeneration is nearly complete. Donna Noble, Captain Jack Harkness, and Rose Tyler are barely able to watch due to the light. Suddenly, the Doctor directs the rest of the regeneration energy into the container housing his severed hand; the regeneration energy dissipates and the Doctor emerges, still in his tenth incarnation, leaving his friends gobsmacked. The Doctor explains that he used the regeneration to heal himself from the Dalek energy blast, but syphoned off the remaining energy that would have changed his appearance and personality into his other hand — a matching biological receptacle. The Doctor says he didn't want to change; Rose is relieved that "her" Doctor is still there and the two happily embrace.
Meanwhile, Sarah Jane Smith is covering her head with her arms, waiting to be exterminated by the Daleks, but with flashes of blue light, Mickey and Jackie appear beside the car and they blast the Daleks to pieces. Sarah gets out of the car, shocked, but immediately hugs Mickey. He jokes, "Us Smiths got to stick together". Jackie introduces herself, but asks, "Where the hell is my daughter?"
Over at Torchwood, Gwen Cooper and Ianto Jones shoot at the Dalek, raging. But they notice something strange and they cease fire. They walk forward cautiously and see their bullets hanging in the air as if stopped by an invisible wall. Gwen reaches out slowly to touch it — she can't, but her finger makes a ripple in the air; it's a time lock that their deceased co-worker Tosh was working on. However, while the Dalek is locked out, they're locked in.
Elsewhere, a patrol of Daleks have found the TARDIS. Inside, the Doctor prepares to take off with his companions to figure out a strategy. However, right as he throws a switch, the Daleks use a temporal loop to make the TARDIS powerless. They then take it to the Crucible. Upon arrival, the Supreme Dalek orders the time travellers to depart the vessel. Jack thinks they are safe because of the extrapolator force field the TARDIS has, but the Doctor explains that unlike last time when they were fighting hybrid scavengers, now they're up against a Dalek Empire at the height of their power who have the expertise and technology to get past the TARDIS' defenses. As the Doctor puts it, "...that wooden door is just a wooden door".
The Doctor, Rose, and Jack exit. However, Donna becomes distracted by the sound of a heartbeat and, while she is looking back, the TARDIS door slams closed. The Doctor demands that Donna be released. The Supreme Dalek denies responsibility calling it "Time Lord treachery" and even if the Doctor wasn't responsible they consider the TARDIS to be a weapon that must be destroyed. The Daleks dump the TARDIS and send it to be destroyed in the centre-core of the Crucible, a ball of Z-neutrino energy. The TARDIS plummets into the core and, without defences, begins to burn up. As the TARDIS interior erupts in flames and debris, Donna collapses near the severed hand. Just as she's convinced she's about to die, she hears the heartbeat again and touches the container, and energy flows between it and her. The hand bursts out of the container and forms into a duplicate of the Doctor, who quickly dematerialises the TARDIS. A view of the TARDIS in the core is shown to Jack, Rose, and the Doctor, who believe Donna and the TARDIS to have been destroyed.
Sarah, Jackie, and Mickey, having seen the Daleks transport the TARDIS to the Crucible, lay down their guns, allowing themselves to be captured and taken to the Crucible in order to find the Doctor.
Meanwhile, Martha Jones says her goodbyes to her mother and uses the Project Indigo device to take her to Germany, where one of five Osterhagen stations is hidden, and awaits contact from the other bases.
Aboard the Crucible, Jack creates a distraction by shooting the Supreme Dalek with his revolver, but the Dalek Supreme promptly shoots him down. The Doctor and Rose are taken to the vault where Davros is held. Rose is desolate; she doesn't know she made Jack immortal as the Bad Wolf and that his immortality has allowed him to escape.
In the TARDIS, the new Doctor has dressed in the Doctor's blue suit and has finished repairing the interior from its damages. He rambles on about how they have to be quiet — "can't even drop a spanner". Donna then asks if Time Lords can multiply like this — "Chop off a bit and grow a new one". However, the new Doctor explains that there has never been anything like him before. He then notices that he only has one heart, like a human; he's not too pleased with this, saying it's "rubbish". Donna tells the "spaceman" to watch what he says, and the new Doctor tells "earth girl" the same. Both of them are shocked by this; he's absorbed some of Donna's mannerisms. He then begins pondering what Davros could be doing with the planets.
With the Doctor and Rose contained, Davros explains that the twenty-seven planets form an energy pattern amplified into a "reality bomb", able to break apart the electrical forces holding everything together, down to the last atom, a creation Davros calls "the apotheosis of my genius!"
Mickey, Jackie, and Sarah have been taken with many other humans to a testing of the bomb, but they escape the test chamber just in time. The other humans are not so lucky and vanish out of existence when the bomb is activated.
The effect of the bomb is shown to the Doctor. Both Doctors are horrified as they realise how it works. But that isn't the half of it: the wavelength that the Reality Bomb produces, amplified by the twenty-seven planets, will break through the Rift at the heart of the Medusa Cascade into every single corner of creation. Davros proclaims it is his ultimate victory: "The destruction of reality ITSELF!"
Jack finds his way to Mickey, Sarah and Jackie, and, with a warp star from Sarah, creates a device that will implode the Crucible. Meanwhile, Martha makes contact with two other bases in China and Liberia. The Chinese counterpart wants to get it over and done with, but Martha, knowing the Doctor, first broadcasts a signal to the Crucible to give the Daleks a chance. She vows to use the Osterhagen key to detonate twenty-five nuclear warheads in strategic locations under the Earth's crust to destroy the planet and disable the reality bomb. The Doctor is horrified that Earth would ever construct what is essentially a giant self-destruct button. Jack and the others then contact Davros and threaten to destroy the Crucible with the warp star. The Doctor objects again and asks where they even got a warp star. Sarah steps forward and claims responsibility. Davros then interrupts her, recognising her face, and gets nostalgic, recalling how Sarah was on Skaro at the very beginning of his creation. Sarah retorts that she has learned to fight since then and demands that he free the Doctor or be destroyed by the warp star; however, seeing all his friends willing to go to such extreme measures gives the Doctor pause. Davros notices this and tells the Doctor that this is what he does to people: the Doctor may be a man who never carries a gun, but he turns ordinary people into soldiers in his war; he is told that his "Children of Time" have been transformed into murderers, noting that one has already sacrificed herself opening the subwave network. The Doctor is then shocked to learn from Rose that Harriet Jones died to ensure he got to Earth. Davros then asks the Doctor how many other people have died for him and/or in his name, and the Doctor is reminded of River Song, Astrid Peth, Jenny and many others who gave their lives to help him. Davros laughs that this is his final victory over the Doctor, by showing him his true self.
The Daleks lock on to their respective positions and transmat Martha, Jack, Mickey, Jackie, and Sarah to the vault where the Doctor and Rose are being held captive, thereby preventing them from using any of their devices to stop the Daleks. The Daleks then prepare to activate the reality bomb to wipe out all matter in this and every parallel universe through the rifts in the Medusa Cascade, but the new Doctor and Donna arrive in the TARDIS. Each tries to destroy Davros and the Daleks using a weapon created by the new Doctor, but both are stunned by shots of electricity from Davros' robotic hand before they can use it; Donna is sent flying while the new Doctor is put in a forcefield. Despite the revelation that Donna and the TARDIS survived, the Doctor is glum because the reality bomb is still counting down. The Doctor and his companions helplessly watch in horror as the reality bomb ticks down to 9...8...7...6...5...4...3...2...1...
Nothing happens. Suddenly an alarm blares. Everyone looks over to see that Donna has used the controls to disable it. She gives a long technical explanation as to how she did it; this is astonishing because ordinarily, Donna "can't even change a plug". The Doctor recognises that the creation of the new Doctor has had an unintended side effect: Donna is now half Time Lord herself, sharing the Doctor's intellect — she is the DoctorDonna the Ood saw coming. She explains that the meta-crisis that created the other Doctor had also affected her, but the effect had lain dormant, needing a little spark to start it — "Thank you, Davros!" Donna and the new Doctor free the others and, with the help of the original Doctor, disable the Daleks. The Daleks are left literally spinning round in circles, thanks to Donna.
The Doctors then get to work and use the magnetron to send all the planets back to their correct places. Davros attempts to stop them only for both Jack and Mickey to hold him at gunpoint. Turning to Dalek Caan, he demands to know why he didn't foresee this. From Caan's maniacal cackling, the Doctor realises that he did see it. Caan admits that he had seen the Daleks for what they were, had seen all the evil they had caused across time and space, and secretly aided the Doctor in their destruction, declaring "No more!"
The Supreme Dalek descends to the vault and accuses Davros of betraying the Daleks. Though Davros insists that Dalek Caan is the traitor, the Supreme Dalek declares that he will destroy them all and fires at the Doctor, striking the machinery. Jack swiftly destroys the Supreme Dalek, but the shot he fired has destroyed the Magnetron, leaving the single remaining planet, Earth, stranded. Getting an idea, the original Doctor races into the TARDIS to replace the broken machine. Realising that Dalek Caan has seen the end of the Daleks, has been manipulating time to achieve this, and knowing that, even without the Reality Bomb, this Dalek Empire is powerful enough to still take the universe by force, the new Doctor uses the remaining machinery to destroy all the Daleks and their fleet. All around them, Daleks and their ships begin to self-destruct. The original Doctor is outraged at the new Doctor for making such a choice. The companions flee into the TARDIS. When the original Doctor offers to save Davros, he refuses. Gesturing at the destruction around them, Davros shrieks, "Never forget, Doctor, you did this! I name you forever! You are the Destroyer of Worlds!" — an epithet the Daleks have long associated with the Doctor. Davros howls in fury as the flames surround him, while Caan ominously predicts again, "One will still die...". Unable to save either of them, the Doctor flees into the TARDIS just before the Crucible is destroyed.
The Doctor comes up with a plan: he'll use the energy of the Rift as a rope and the TARDIS as a "tow truck" to move the Earth back to where it belongs. With the help of Torchwood's Rift Manipulator sending the energy, Mr Smith roping it around the TARDIS and K9 supplying Mr Smith with the TARDIS' base code, the Doctor is ready to go. However, he has a surprise for his companions. He explains that the reason that he has so much trouble piloting the TARDIS is that it is designed to be piloted by six people, and he has had to do it all on his own. He lets Sarah, Rose, Mickey, Martha, and Jack help him pilot while his clone, Donna, and Jackie watch — he specifically does not want Jackie to help. The Doctor flicks a switch and the TARDIS begins to fly with the immense Earth following behind.
On Earth, Luke holds onto K9 and cheers as the house on Bannerman Road shakes, Ianto and Gwen holler in delight in the trembling Torchwood Hub, Sylvia and Wilf frantically try to stay on their feet, and Francine takes cover beneath her kitchen table.
With Donna and Jackie watching, the Doctors and companions work the controls until, with a great shuddering halt, the Earth stops and begins to spin on its own, with the Moon hovering in to resume its own orbit. As the Children of Time celebrate in the TARDIS, Wilf, Sylvia and Francine revel in the sunlight and Earth celebrates its return home.
With Earth back in its proper place, the Doctor's companions leave the TARDIS. Sarah points out that the Doctor considers himself a lonely man, but he has the biggest family on Earth: his companions. She then leaves, concerned about Luke. The next to leave is Jack, but before he goes, he is stopped by the Doctor — "I told you, no teleport" — and has his vortex manipulator disabled yet again. Martha leaves with Jack, who tries asking her to join Torchwood. Mickey also departs. He had initially stayed in the parallel world to be with his grandmother, but she has since passed; he now wants to stay in his home dimension.
Using a closing rift, the Doctor returns Rose and Jackie to the "Pete's World" and leaves the new Doctor with her. The original Doctor explains that by destroying the entire Dalek race, the new Doctor has committed genocide. He sees the new Doctor as similar to himself after the Time War, "full of blood and anger", and says that Rose had made him better. The new Doctor explains that having only one heart, he will age as a human and not regenerate; he could spend that one life with Rose. Rose, upset that it's still not the same as having the original, asks both Doctors the words that the Doctor was unable to say to her when they last parted. The original Doctor refuses to actually say them, only responding, "Does it need saying?" By contrast, the new, half-human Doctor, having the same memories and feelings as the original Doctor, whispers them into Rose's ear, and they passionately kiss. The Doctor and Donna quickly depart in the TARDIS and the new Doctor and Rose watch, hand in hand.
Returning to their universe, Donna is eager for her and the Doctor's next adventure while the Doctor is strangely subdued and asks her how it feels to have all the new knowledge in her head. Donna claims she is fine, however it isn't long belong she starts babbling random facts then gasps in pain holding her head. The Doctor, having expected this, explains that the human brain cannot take in the Time Lord mentality: if she continues in her current state, she will die as her mind will burn up. In tears, Donna protests that she wants to continue her adventures with the Doctor as "DoctorDonna" and is willing to spend the rest of her life with him. Saddened, the Doctor says that he is so sorry; Donna then realises what he is about to do and begs him not to send her back. The Doctor then tells her that they had the best of times. Ignoring her pleas, he presses his fingers on Donna's head, wiping her mind of all her encounters with him, rendering her unconscious as a result.
Back in Chiswick, Wilfred is excited when there is a knock on the door thinking Donna has returned home but his happiness turns to horror when he finds the Doctor outside with an unconscious Donna in his arms, asking for help.
The Doctor tells Sylvia and Wilfred everything that happened and warns them that Donna must never be reminded of her time with him or she will die. Sylvia tells the Doctor that the Earth's journey through space is currently all over the news, but the Doctor answers that it'll only be a story to Donna — another event she missed. Wilfred is upset that Donna has forgotten all the wonderful things she did, the people she met and the places she visited knowing that she had become a better person for all of them. Sylvia denies this but Wilfred insists she was a better person. The Doctor states that the Donna that travelled with him is "dead", fulfilling Caan's prediction. However, he adds that the universe will be singing songs about Donna, who was, for one shining moment, the most important woman in the entire universe. When Sylvia tells the Doctor that Donna is always the most important woman to her, the Doctor makes a point of telling Sylvia to try showing her love more often.
As Donna recovers consciousness, she storms downstairs and starts laughing about her being asleep in her clothes, but to her now, the Doctor is a stranger. She shows no interest in the Doctor and chats on the phone to her friends, who are all talking about the Medusa Cascade incident, to which Donna thinks that her friends were either drunk or that she slept through it. Sylvia tells the Doctor he should leave.
Outside, the Doctor tells Wilf that the rain is the result of the atmospheric disturbance created when the Earth was moved back to its proper place but, like everything else, it will end eventually. Wilfred asks the Doctor who he's got now, and asks him what happened to all his other friends. The Doctor tells him that all his friends now have someone else, and that's fine with him. Wilfred promises he will look out for the Doctor every night while he looks at the sky on Donna's behalf. The Doctor quietly thanks Wilfred, then returns to the TARDIS; Wilf solemnly salutes the Time Lord as the TARDIS fades away.
Melancholy and silent, the Doctor watches the time rotor as he sets a new course. He tosses aside his rain-drenched pinstripe blazer, leans on the TARDIS console and stares off into the distance; deep in thought, lonely and heartbroken...
- The Doctor - David Tennant
- Donna Noble - Catherine Tate
- Rose Tyler - Billie Piper
- Martha Jones - Freema Agyeman
- Captain Jack Harkness - John Barrowman
- Sarah Jane Smith - Elisabeth Sladen
- Mickey Smith - Noel Clarke
- Jackie Tyler - Camille Coduri
- Ianto Jones - Gareth David-Lloyd
- Gwen Cooper - Eve Myles
- Luke Smith - Thomas Knight
- Wilfred Mott - Bernard Cribbins
- Sylvia Noble - Jacqueline King
- Francine Jones - Adjoa Andoh
- Davros - Julian Bleach
- German Woman - Valda Aviks
- Scared Woman - Shobu Kapoor
- Chinese Woman - Elizabeth Tan
- Liberian Man - Michael Price
- Dalek Voice - Nicholas Briggs
- Dalek Operators - Barney Edwards, Nick Pegg, David Hankinson, Anthony Spargo
- Voice of K-9 - John Leeson
- Voice of Mr Smith - Alexander Armstrong
|Executive Producers Russell T Davies and Julie Gardner|
|Not every person who worked on this adventure was credited. The absence of a credit for a position doesn't necessarily mean the job wasn't required. The information above is based solely on observations of the actual end credits of the episodes as broadcast, and does not relay information from IMDB or other sources.|
- The Doctor mentions someone named Osterhagen.
- Jack calls Mickey Smith "Mickey Mouse" when they re-encounter each other.
- As her mind begins to melt down, Donna references the American comic strip character Charlie Brown. She also mentions Charlie Chaplin.
- When the TARDIS is dropped into the Z-Neutrino core of the Crucible with its defences down, it begins to be destroyed.
- The Osterhagen key is one of several required to set off a network of nuclear weapons buried deep beneath the Earth's surface. Locations include Germany, Liberia, China and an unmanned Argentina.
- The TARDIS is captured by the Daleks in what they call a temporal prison, but what the Doctor calls a chronon loop.
- The DoctorDonna enables the psycho-kinetic threshold manipulator.
- The Daleks implement Defence 05.
- Three major scenes were cut from the episode before broadcast:
- An extra piece of dialogue on Bad Wolf Bay where the Doctor hands his clone a coral-like piece of the TARDIS, telling him to grow his own. When the clone Doctor protests that it takes thousands of years to grow a TARDIS, DoctorDonna provides him with a faster solution, so that Rose and the cloned Doctor can travel through space "as it should be". This was mentioned in The Doctor's Data section of the Doctor Who Adventures magazine, and in the 398th edition of Doctor Who Magazine, Russell T Davies states that it is perfectly fine in his opinion to assume that this part of the scene did actually occur. The scene is included on the Series 4 DVD Box Set.
- Originally, Donna was to hear the sound of the TARDIS dematerialising, a brief look of recognition registering on her face before being dismissed. This shot was dropped at the suggestion of Julie Gardner who reminded Davies that it had just been explicitly stated that if Donna remembered anything about the Doctor she would die. The scene was included in the Series 4 DVD set.
- The original ending to this episode involved the Doctor, after saying goodbye to Wilf, seeing a strange signal on the scanner making him launch into his traditional, "What? What!? What." response, after which two Pete's World Cybermen suddenly rise up behind him — a cliffhanger. This was included in the Series 4 DVD set; in his commentary, Davies explains that the cliffhanger ending was dropped in response to comments by a Doctor Who Magazine writer who stated a cliffhanger was inappropriate after such a sad series of scenes. In REF: Doctor Who: The Writer's Tale - The Final Chapter, Benjamin Cook is acknowledged as being the one who convinced Davies to drop the Cybermen cliffhanger. Unlike most deleted scenes from Series 4, it is not possible to retroactively work the Cyberman cliffhanger sequences into continuity as the cliffhanger does not coincide with the opening of The Next Doctor, which shows the Doctor not in peril (this due, per The Writer's Tale, to the opening being changed due to the changing of Journey's End's ending). The cliffhanger was replaced with a teaser for The Next Doctor which first aired immediately following this episode.
- Journey's End and The Stolen Earth together feature references to every episode of the fourth series. In addition, references dating back to the first series of the revived show (involving Rose) and Sarah's tenure as the companion of the Third and Fourth Doctor also appear.
- Almost every companion of the Ninth and Tenth Doctors appears or is referenced in some way in this episode (including Astrid Peth), with the sole exception of Adam Mitchell.
- Blue Peter presenter Gethin Jones operates a Dalek in this episode, returning to Doctor Who after his brief appearance as a Cybus Cyberman in The Age of Steel.
- This was the longest series finale at 65 minutes long and was longer even than all of the Christmas specials except for Voyage of the Damned, which was 71 minutes. This raised some issues with international broadcasts; for example, the broadcast on the CBC in Canada on 12 December 2008 was edited to 44 minutes to fit a regular 60-minute timeslot, with commercials (see below for examples). While the American Sci Fi Channel broadcast aired the episode in its entirety on August 1, it has not since been rerun, instead, ending its rotation with The Stolen Earth. Space, however, has aired it completely uncut on reruns. However, BBC America, which now re-airs Doctor Who, only shows episodes edited down to 45 minutes, except for The End of Time, where the two-parter is shown in a three-hour block.
- Dalek Caan refers to the Doctor as a "threefold man". The meaning becomes clear in this episode with both the copy of the Doctor and DoctorDonna.
- As with the previous episode, the opening credits are augmented to include six names, with several overflow acting credits displayed after the opening sequence.
- This episode marks the first series finale to show a preview of the upcoming Christmas Special (2008). After the credits, the Cybermen are said to return in the episode. The episode is further unique for being the only series finale in the Russell T Davies era which doesn't end on a cliffhanger.
- Graeme Harper's penchant for including a distorted image of a main character is present in this story. Though not included in every single story he's directed for BBC Wales, it's seen often enough to be considered something of a directorial "signature". Similar distortion is achieved through the use of magnifying glasses in Army of Ghosts, The Unicorn and the Wasp, and Utopia, and with mirrors in Turn Left. This time, it's Mickey, Jackie and Sarah that get "the Harper treatment" under a curved window.
- This story augments the notion that Time Lords have some measure of control over the regenerative process. In truth, most regenerations have added at least a little to the general mythos about the process. From the notion that a particular physiognomy could be imposed upon the Second Doctor in The War Games, details have been added about how the process works almost every time one has been depicted. In this case, writer Russell T Davies builds upon his earlier idea that a Time Lord can re-grow whole body parts during "the first 15 hours" following a regeneration (The Christmas Invasion). Here he suggests that a Time Lord can stop the process prior to entering the final stage, provided that he has a matching genetic receptacle into which he can store the energy.
- It is not stated in this episode if the Doctor's "partial" regeneration used up one of the regenerations in his cycle. Later, in the 2013 Christmas Special The Time of the Doctor the Eleventh Doctor tells Clara Oswald he's in his final incarnation, reminding her of his Time War incarnation and then telling her of the aborted regeneration in this episode, confirming that although he didn't change his appearance it still used up what would have been his eleventh regeneration.
- The scene where the Daleks are speaking German is possibly a tongue-in-cheek reference to the fact that Terry Nation based the Daleks on the Nazis. It is also possibly a reference to the fact that Daleks have no fear so they let the locals know exactly what they're doing.
- The word "Exterminieren", which the German Daleks use, is not in common use. In the German dubs of the episodes, the word used is "Vernichten" (literally, "Reduce to nothing"; colloquially, "Destroy"). This relates again to the Nazis, who expressively waged a "Vernichtungskrieg" - a war in order to destroy. Another (and mainly used) word to replace the "exterminate" in the translation is "eliminieren". The full dialogue for the German Daleks is as follows: "Exterminieren! Exterminieren! Halt! Sonst werden wir Sie exterminieren! Sie sind jetzt ein Gefangener der Daleks! Exterminieren! Exterminieren!" This translates as: "Exterminate! Exterminate! Stop! Or we will exterminate you. You are now a prisoner of the Daleks. Exterminate! Exterminate!"
- This story marks the departure of Catherine Tate (Donna Noble) and Billie Piper (Rose Tyler). In an interview with Doctor Who Magazine, Piper was quoted as saying she doesn't see this as a permanent departure. Catherine Tate had no plans to return at that moment, but she had not ruled out a return in the future. Elizabeth Sladen, in an interview published after the episode was broadcast, said she doesn't expect to appear on Doctor Who again, although her own spin-off, The Sarah Jane Adventures, would subsequently continue a few months later. However, all three appeared the following year for cameos in The End of Time. It was however, the final chronological appearance of Rose Tyler.
- This is the only appearance of the sonic lipstick outside The Sarah Jane Adventures.
- This is the third-season finale of four to have a character in the TARDIS speaking about possible places to visit before the unexpected departure of a character. In The Parting of the Ways the Ninth Doctor speaks of places like the planet Barcelona before regenerating; in Last of the Time Lords, the Doctor suggests visiting Agatha Christie (among others) before Martha announces her departure; in this episode, Donna speaks of visiting Felspoon and meeting Charlie Chaplin before her mind overloads. The episodes that break this pattern so far are Doomsday, The Big Bang, and The Name of the Doctor.
- Not counting post-season specials, this episode is also one of only three finales in the revived era to not include the sudden arrival of a character at or near the end of the episode, along with Hell Bent and The Battle of Ranskoor Av Kolos. The Tenth Doctor appears in The Parting of the Ways; Donna Noble appears in the TARDIS at the end of Doomsday; the Titanic crashes through the TARDIS' hull in Last of the Time Lords; the Eleventh Doctor appears in The End of Time, is remembered back into reality by Amy Pond in The Big Bang, and is revealed to have faked his death in The Wedding of River Song, an unknown incarnation of the Doctor appeared in The Name of the Doctor, Santa Claus appears in the TARDIS at the end of Death in Heaven, the First Doctor arrives at the end of The Doctor Falls and the Judoon arrive in the TARDIS at the end of The Timeless Children.
- Jack has flirted with or shown interest in all of the Doctor's companions appearing in this episode save Donna and Jackie. It is interesting to note that Jack does not pursue the two women who have exhibited the most aggressive attitudes towards the opposite sex, and who would arguably be the most likely to return his advances. Donna even jokes about Jack hugging her, which he laughs off.
- The actor credits for Noel Clarke, Camille Coduri, Gareth David-Lloyd and Eve Myles are timed to appear on screen as the respective actors are shown in closeup during the first two scenes. As of September 2018[update], this is the last episode to display "overflow" guest cast credits over the opening scenes.
- Journey's End has possibly one of the largest body counts, with billions of Daleks, a substantial number of humans and, to an extent, Donna.
- Following her appearance, Elisabeth Sladen was quoted in several interviews as predicting she expected this to be her final appearance on Doctor Who. As it happened, she would make one final cameo appearance in The End of Time Part 2, and the Doctor would later make two appearances on The Sarah Jane Adventures.
- This is the first episode in which the TARDIS is fully staffed with six pilots, and the first time it is noted definitively that it was designed to be piloted by six.
- In the classic series, the Dalek stories after Genesis of the Daleks revolved in some manner around Davros, exploring the tenacious but ambivalent relationship between the Daleks and their creator. It would appear that the civil war between the Imperial and Renegade Daleks (Revelation of the Daleks and Remembrance of the Daleks, plus audio stories) has been resolved, with Davros working with a united Dalek Empire against the Time Lords.
- This episode marks the last appearance of the Tenth Doctor's severed hand, which first appeared in TV: The Christmas Invasion and throughout the first series of Torchwood. The Doctor makes reference to losing it in the sword fight against the Sycorax leader. This is the first time Rose has seen the severed hand, since the Doctor didn't retrieve it from Jack until after her departure.
- When the Meta-Crisis Doctor holds Rose's hand as they watch the TARDIS disappear, he does it with his right hand - the only part of the original Doctor.
- Jack introduces Gwen as Gwen Cooper. This is the first on-screen indication that Gwen has not changed her last name to Williams following her marriage in Rhys Williams in TV: Something Borrowed.
- Davros' apparent last words are "Never forget, Doctor, you did this! I name you, forever! You are the Destroyer of Worlds!". "Destroyer of Worlds" is a translation of "Ka Faraq Gatri", a title which had previously been used by the Daleks to refer to the Doctor.
- This was the first regular episode of Doctor Who produced by BBC Wales in which Will Cohen was not credited on any Visual Effects duties.
- This story was chosen by BBC America to represent the David Tennant era during their 50th anniversary programming. Edited into an omnibus format with The Stolen Earth, it was aired by BBCA on 27 October 2013, after the debut of their homegrown special called The Doctors Revisited - The Tenth Doctor.
- The outfit the Meta-Crisis Doctor wears mirrors Rose's outfit from this season by having a blue jacket over a red shirt as well as the Ninth Doctor's outfit with a similar type of shirt with a jacket over it.
- The Series 4 finale would turn out to be Gareth David-Lloyd's only appearance as Ianto Jones on Doctor Who, as his character would get killed off in the next season of Torchwood, entitled Children of Earth. Also, this would be the only time Mr Smith appears on the show, with The Sarah Jane Adventures coming to an end after the death of Elisabeth Sladen in 2011. However, the Tenth Doctor would instead meet him on his parent series in a crossover story, The Wedding of Sarah Jane Smith.
- The concept that a Doctor would grow from the Doctor's severed hand who would end up with Rose was planned since the The Christmas Invasion. Russell T Davies states on the commentary track for this episode that he had the idea in mind that just prior to the Tenth Doctor's regeneration, a scene would depict him growing a clone of himself from his severed hand, and send him off to live his life with Rose. The concept was ultimately brought forward, and was developed into it's own entire story arch, due to the "timing being perfect". He says that he told David Tennant about the idea he had.
- The Dream of a Normal Death" is heard as the Doctor remembers the people who have died in his name, and again as he pilots the TARDIS at the end of the episode. This was first heard at the end of The Family of Blood when John Smith and Joan are holding the watch and seeing the future.
- When the Doctor sees Gwen Cooper for the first time, he asks if she comes from a long line of family from Cardiff, noting the physical similarity between Gwen and Gwyneth (TV: The Unquiet Dead), both of whom are played by Eve Myles. According to Russell T Davies: "It's not familial as we understand it. There's no blood tie. Spatial genetic multiplicity means an echo and repetition of physical traits across a Time Rift."
- With the later retroactive confirmation that the Doctor does regenerate in this episode (TV: The Time of the Doctor), Rose Tyler becomes the only individual to date known to have directly witnessed two of the Doctor's regenerations.
- This marks, as of 2020, the last televised Doctor Who story to feature K9.
Journey's End gained an overall, consolidated viewing figure of 10.57 million viewers in its first BBC1 airing. This placed it as the No. 1 program in the UK across all channels of the week, beating all the Wimbledon finals and all 5 episodes of Coronation Street, all 4 of Eastenders and all 5 of Emmerdale. This makes Journey's End the highest rated episode in the 45-year history of Doctor Who, surpassing Voyage of the Damned and The Stolen Earth, both of which ranked second in their respective weeks. However, the episode is not the most-watched episode of the revived series; that distinction belongs to the 13.31 million viewers obtained by Voyage of the Damned (the most-watched episode of all time remains City of Death Part 4 with 16.1 million viewers in 1979). The episode also achieved an Appreciation Index rating of 91, tying with The Stolen Earth, a number considered unprecedented for a mainstream network drama production.
Myths and rumours
- The week between the cliffhanger ending of The Stolen Earth and the broadcast of Journey's End included some of the most intense fan speculation and media attention in franchise history. The significance of the cliffhanger, which appeared to show the Doctor regenerating, along with previously reported speculation regarding Donna and other characters, led to many speculations being circulated on fan discussion boards and the media, the most notable being that David Tennant was, in fact, leaving the series, and that leaked photos and other information regarding him being in the 2008 Christmas special (as well as media reports the preceding week that he was negotiating to return in 2010) were either a "red herring" or that the Christmas special was to include a flashback. Although Tennant had made it known to the producers that he was planning to leave the series, the intent was for him to return for a series of specials later.
- Though the Tenth Doctor did not change his incarnation when he regenerated, the energy he expelled used up a full regeneration regardless. This put into question how many more times the Doctor can regenerate before permanent death. After years of fan debate, this was ultimately proven true in TV: The Time of the Doctor, where the Eleventh Doctor confirmed he had exhausted a regeneration with this course of action (putting it down to the Tenth Doctor having "vanity issues"), and after factoring in the War Doctor as a suppressed incarnation, had no more regenerations left. He was later given a brand new regenerative cycle or unlimited regenerations by the Time Lords as a gift for saving Gallifrey.
- Concerning Donna's ring, at the end of the series 4 finale, when the Doctor says goodbye to her it glimmers briefly into the camera. Some fans theorise that the ring is a possible Chameleon Arch module containing Donna's memories of her time with the Doctor. It has also been suggested that the ring resembles a ring worn by the Master in a previous episode. Others theorise that the ring is simply large, black, and very shiny.
- The prediction that a companion would die led some to believe Donna, Martha or Rose would be the ones destined to die (since it had already been reported that John Barrowman would be returning to Torchwood and Elisabeth Sladen to The Sarah Jane Adventures, ruling out their characters' demise). Ultimately, this was a partial red herring, as it was an aspect of Donna that died, but not the character herself.
- A number of fans began to speculate as to whether or not the Meta-Crisis Tenth Doctor would eventually become to be known as the enigmatic, malevolent Valeyard. The six-issue comic book mini-series The Forgotten became the subject of related speculation when the final cliffhanger panel of issue #5 featured the unveiling of a villain resembling the clone; ultimately it was revealed that another villain was responsible, although the Doctor still, puzzlingly, refers initially to the character as the Valeyard.
- The appearance of K9 was a surprise to many as it had been previously reported that the character would not be appearing in the episode, given that the rights to the character were held by another party for the planned K9 television series. K9 continued to appear occasionally in The Sarah Jane Adventures, too.
- Some fans believed that Harriet Jones was wanting revenge upon the Doctor for bringing down her reign as Prime Minister, so she decided to help bring the Daleks back, and she was, in fact, the Supreme Dalek. A supposed "leaked script" showed that Harriet Jones was helping the Daleks. This was proved false.
- The fact that Jack, Martha, and Mickey depart together sparked speculation that Martha and Mickey would appear in Torchwood, possibly replacing Tosh and Owen (Martha had already made several appearances in the spin-off). The subsequent announcement that Freema Agyeman had been signed by ITV, a rival network to the BBC, to take a lead role in the series Law & Order: London, reduced the chances of her appearing in Torchwood. She did subsequently take part in the BBC Radio adventure Lost Souls, but that story took place prior to the events of The Stolen Earth. In his book The Writer's Tale Russell T Davies mentions that he had promised Noel Clarke that he would appear in Torchwood Series 3. Ultimately, however, neither Clarke nor Agyeman did appear in Children of Earth, and dialogue in "Day One" indicated that Martha was still with U.N.I.T. and on her honeymoon. The two would ultimately return in The End of Time as a married couple at some unspecified point in the future, with Martha no longer affiliated with U.N.I.T.
- BBC Studios, Unit ½, Tonteg Road, Treforest Industrial Estate, Upper Boat, Pontypridd
- Arcot Street, Penarth (Sarah Jane and the others surrender to the Daleks)
- Robinswood Crescent, Penarth (Sarah's car is stopped by a Dalek patrol)
- Hawthorn Road, Pontpridd (Wilf and Sylvia watch the Dalek ships leave Earth)
- High Street, Penarth (The TARDIS is transferred to the Crucible)
- Mir Steel (formerly Alpha Steel), Newport (Inside the Crucible)
- Cwrt-y-Vil Road, Penarth (Martha says goodbye to Francine)
- Castell Coch, Cardiff (UNIT Germany)
- Nant-Fawr Road, Cardiff (Outside Wilf’s)
- Southerndown Beach, Ogmore Vale, Bridgend (The Doctor drops off Rose and new family back at Bad Wolf Bay)
- At the end, the TARDIS lands in Morgan Jones Park, Caerphilly.
- When the Doctor returns Rose to Bad Wolf Bay, in the shots of the Doctor and Donna you can clearly see Rose's hair blowing in the wind, yet in the shots of Rose her hair isn't blowing. It happens too often to be random gusts of wind.
- In the same scene, when the Metacrisis and Jackie discuss her child Tony, the shadow of a boom mic can be seen in the sand.
- When the Meta-Crisis Doctor arrives at the Crucible and opens the doors of the TARDIS, a bright light is used to hide the rear panel of the police box prop and create the "bigger on the inside" camera effect. However, it fails to cover a small section of this panel at the floor level of the prop.
- When the DoctorDonna deactivates the holding cells, Davros doesn't move or react, unlike all other characters present. A model, or empty costume, is clearly in his place.
- When The Doctor and his companions are flying the TARDIS, Martha can briefly be seen looking and smiling at the camera,
- Finger smudges can be seen on the Supreme Dalek's top piece.
- The Bluray release of this story uses the wrong font to credit the additional cast immediately after the opening titles. Traditionally, the font used for the Russell T Davies era is "Futura Medium", and this font is still used to credit the Producers and for the title card. An entirely different font - "Tahoma" - is used to credit Noel Clarke, Camille Coduri, Adjoa Andoh, Eve Myles and Gareth David-Lloyd in this episode. The error is also present in The Stolen Earth.
- When Gwen asks what the power for the rift manipulator is for, there’s no filter over Eve Myles voice suggesting it’s coming through the speaker, instead sounding like she’s also in the room.
- Davros has previously demonstrated the ability to shoot electricity. (TV: Revelation of the Daleks, AUDIO: Davros)
- When the Doctor sees Gwen Cooper for the first time, he asks if she comes from a long line of family from Cardiff, noting the physical similarity between Gwen and Gwyneth. (TV: The Unquiet Dead) Gwen confirms that her family has been in Cardiff since the 1800s.
- This is the first time the Doctor's TARDIS has been piloted by six people, the number first specified in PROSE: Cat's Cradle: Time's Crucible. This retroactively serves to somewhat explain the Doctor's difficulty in correctly piloting the craft and its frequent use of a hexagonal console. (TV: An Unearthly Child, et al.)
- Davros mentions meeting Sarah Jane at the birth of his creations. (TV: Genesis of the Daleks)
- The Supreme Dalek proves sadistic, mirroring a previous one. (AUDIO: Return to Skaro)
- Mickey Smith and Jackie Tyler return. (TV: Doomsday)
- Donna proposes a way for the Doctor to fix the long-broken chameleon circuit. (TV: An Unearthly Child) The Sixth Doctor had previously attempted this, with some limited temporary success, (TV: Attack of the Cybermen) as had the Fourth Doctor. (TV: Logopolis) In his sixth and ninth incarnations, the Doctor indicated that he rather liked the police box form. (TV: Attack of the Cybermen, Boom Town)
- Donna reiterates that she could type 100 words per minute while working as a temp in Chiswick. (TV: The Stolen Earth)
- The fact that a single TARDIS has enough power to relocate Earth harks back to the Time Lords moving Earth to another part of the universe about two million years in its future, where it became known as Ravolox. (TV: The Mysterious Planet)
- The Doctor tells Wilf that he's "fine" after he drops off Donna. This echoes a similar statement he made which Donna interpreted as meaning the complete opposite. (TV: Forest of the Dead)
- The Doctor once again disables Jack's vortex manipulator's teleport function. (TV: Last of the Time Lords)
- Sarah Jane Smith previously mentioned the Verron soothsayer who gave her the warp star. (TV: Whatever Happened to Sarah Jane?)
- Davros taunts the Doctor with memories of people who gave their lives for his, much in the same way that the Timewyrm taunted the Seventh Doctor. (PROSE: Timewyrm: Revelation)
- The device created by the Meta-Crisis Doctor looks similar to the device used against the Daleks by the Seventh Doctor. (TV: Remembrance of the Daleks) That device was similar to one the Third Doctor built on Spiridon. (TV: Planet of the Daleks)
- Davros refers to the Doctor as the "destroyer of worlds". The Seventh Doctor referred to himself as such previously. (AUDIO: Afterlife)
- Donna calls the Meta-Crisis Doctor mental after he dresses which causes him to believe she's objecting to his blue suit. A similar exchange occurred previously with the real Tenth Doctor and Martha, where he believed her incredulous reaction to his absorbing radiation was a critique of him wearing one shoe. (TV: Smith and Jones)
- The Doctor again states his aversion to violence, and in particular his horror of genocide. He is appalled when the Meta-Crisis Doctor destroys the Daleks, evil as they are. He recognises, however, that the destructive impulse comes from himself. The Fourth Doctor likewise had an opportunity to destroy the Daleks before they left Skaro but was faced by a moral quandary. Circumstances at that time prevent him from having to make that decision. (TV: Genesis of the Daleks)
- Davros points out the apparent hypocrisy of the Doctor's creed of non-violence, saying that he takes "ordinary people and fashion[s] them as weapons". Others have previously made similar accusations:
- Blon Fel Fotch accused the Ninth Doctor of "running because [he] daren't look back". (TV: Boom Town)
- Donna, observing the Doctor's terrible power on their first meeting, told him, that he needed someone to stop him. (TV: The Runaway Bride)
- After Tegan, sick of the death that seemed to follow the Doctor, left him, the Doctor himself admitted that he had to "mend [his] ways". (TV: Resurrection of the Daleks)
- Upon first meeting him, the Doctor tried to convince Davros that the Daleks are dangerous by comparing them to a virus that could kill all living forms. He asked Davros, that if he created such a virus, would he unleash it? Davros considered for a moment, before saying that he would do it, that such power would set him amongst the Gods, confirming his madness. (TV: Genesis of the Daleks) Here, Davros has created the Reality bomb, a device which will destroy all of reality, and all life forms. Essentially, Davros has created the very virus the Doctor described, but in a different form.
- The Meta-Crisis Doctor describes the Human-Time Lord Meta-Crisis as "wizard". In Donna's World, Donna used this same expression when the Royal Hope Hospital returned to Earth. (TV: Turn Left)
- The "Doctor Donna" was foretold by the Ood. (TV: Planet of the Ood)
- The Doctor and Mickey perform a "fist bump" in lieu of a handshake when Mickey departs. (TV: Doomsday)
- The Doctor's TARDIS has been captured before. (TV: The Poison Sky)
- Mickey and Jack's feigned antagonism on encountering each other reflects their genuine antagonism during their initial meeting. (TV: Boom Town)
- When Davros asks the Doctor "How many have died in your name?", the Doctor recalls Harriet Jones, (TV: The Stolen Earth) Ceth Ceth Jafe, (TV: The End of the World) the Controller, (TV: Bad Wolf) Lynda Moss, (TV: The Parting of the Ways) Sir Robert MacLeish, (TV: Tooth and Claw) Angela Price, (TV: The Age of Steel) Colin Skinner, Ursula Blake, Bridget Sinclair, (TV: Love & Monsters) the Face of Boe, (TV: Gridlock) Chantho, (TV: Utopia) Astrid Peth, (TV: Voyage of the Damned) Luke Rattigan, (TV: The Poison Sky) Jenny, (TV: The Doctor's Daughter) River Song, (TV: Forest of the Dead) and the hostess, (TV: Midnight) all people who sacrificed themselves for the Doctor or those he couldn't save from death.
- The Reality Bomb is conceptually similar to the particle disseminator possessed by the Valeyard. (TV: The Ultimate Foe)
- This is the first time that Rose has seen Jack Harkness since she, as the Bad Wolf entity, resurrected him and made him immortal. She does not know that he is immortal and is surprised when he comes back to life. (TV: The Parting of the Ways)
- The Daleks have previously made extensive use of transmat technology. (TV: Remembrance of the Daleks, Bad Wolf)
- Donna refers to the Doctor as "Spaceman". (AUDIO: Technophobia)
Home video releases
- This story was released in the Series 4 DVD box set in November 2008 along with the rest of the series.
- It was released as Series 4 Volume 4 in a vanilla edition with Turn Left and The Stolen Earth on 1 September 2008.
Non-UK broadcast editing
Journey's End was broadcast on the CBC in Canada on 12 December 2008 in an extensively edited version, created in order so that the episode, which ran approximately 65 minutes without commercial interruption on the BBC, could fit into a standard 60-minute time slot with commercials, meaning the episode itself had to be whittled down to approximately 44-45 minutes. The deletion of approximately 20 minutes of scenes renders this version of Journey's End one of the most extensively edited Doctor Who episodes in the entire history of the franchise. The CBC subsequently made an unedited version of the episode available, but only on its website and only for four weeks after the TV broadcast (the broadcast occurred after Series 4 had been released to DVD in that country).
Some of the most major edits included the Meta-Crisis Doctor connecting the dots between his/the Doctor's coincidental encounters with Wilf and Donna, the Doctor's farewell to his companions in the park, Rose's final question to the Doctor and her subsequent kissing of the Meta-Crisis Doctor, and the final scene of the Doctor in the TARDIS, alone.
It was subsequently announced that the CBC was discontinuing its broadcasts of Doctor Who, with the competing network Space taking over broadcasts of the series beginning with The Next Doctor and continuing into 2010. BBC America also aired an extensively edited version of the episode in February 2009.
- Doctor Who - The Locations Guide
- BBC Episode Guide to Journey's End
- Original script, posted online by Russell T Davies in conjunction with the release of his book REF: Doctor Who: The Writer's Tale.