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Kill the Moon was the seventh episode of series 8 of Doctor Who.

Narratively, it saw the Doctor take Coal Hill School student Courtney Woods on a trip to the Moon following her discovery of his true nature in the previous episode. It also revealed the true nature of the Earth's natural satellite, which had been a fixture of many previous stories.

It revisited the Earth's environmentally disastrous mid-21st century as well as the concept of time in flux, with the Doctor choosing to take a step back and leaving the future in the hands of his human company, a choice that would lead to a severe divide between him and Clara.

The concept behind the episode came to writer Peter Harness in 2011, so initially, it was written for Matt Smith. Harness expressed a belief that the script suited Peter Capaldi more with the Doctor-Clara dynamic playing out better. (DWM 478)

Kill the Moon was also notable from a production standpoint. Lanzarote was utilised as a filming location for the first time since 1984 when it stood in for Planet of Fire's Sarn.


The Doctor, Clara, and Courtney go visit the Moon in 2049, where they discover that the Earth's constant companion is a little more than another mere celestial body.


In Coal Hill School, Clara tells the Doctor that her troublesome student Courtney Woods has become worse thanks to meeting him. She's even stolen his psychic paper; the Doctor wonders if it's to get into museums. However, Clara tells him Courtney has been using it to get into clubs. And all of this started when the Doctor told her that she wasn't special; it's very damaging to a teenager's psyche.

Entering the TARDIS, Courtney's already there and has bought travel sickness bracelets in preparation for her travels, which Clara tells her won't happen. After much pestering, the Doctor offers to let Courtney be the first woman on the Moon. When asked if it would make her feel special enough, Courtney excitedly tells him yes.

The TARDIS arrives in the cargo bay on a space shuttle, with the trio exiting in spacesuits. Courtney is not pleased; however, the Doctor notes from the window that they are on their way to the Moon, so he didn't go too far off course. He examines the cargo, explaining the objects around them are nuclear bombs, about to arrive on the lunar surface in 2049.

Three astronauts, Lundvik, Duke and Henry discover them, and, introducing himself as an intelligent and benevolent alien, the Doctor asks if they will still shoot them, but Lundvik says no. The Doctor is glad to hear it, and asks what is wrong the yo-yo he is playing with; Clara tells him it goes up and down, prompting him to congratulate her. The gravity on the moon has likely increased; they should all be floating around the room. Lundvik explains the Moon has put on weight, and it's causing havoc on Earth.

The shuttle lands, and everyone dons their helmets. Courtney exits first, reciting rather poorly Neil Armstrong's speech. Lundvik explains that Mexicans were previously sent to investigate the possibility of minerals on the Moon, but all that was sent back were screams over the radio. The Doctor wonders if they are a rescue team, prompting Lundvik to reveal that this happened years ago; humanity lost its interest in going into space. Even the shuttle had to be put back together from being a museum ride. Her two companions are "third-rate" astronauts.

They find the mining base, and enter; the Doctor tells them that oxygen is still in there, so they can take off their helmets to conserve their suits' supply. However, they soon discover the corpses of the crew preserved in webs and research photos showing deformed landmasses; the Moon is disintegrating.

Henry investigates a cave outside the base and is killed by a large spider, another of which then enters the base and begins menacing the Doctor, Clara, Courtney and Lundvik, and kills Duke. Courtney kills it with a detergent and the Doctor works-out that they're germs. Courtney asks to return home out of fear.

Courtney uses Tumblr

Courtney has uploaded pictures of the Doctor to tumblr.

Courtney is taken back to the TARDIS, and Clara tells the Doctor she knows the Moon isn't destroyed, having seen it above Earth in the future, but the Doctor's open to the possibility of it being a hologram or something similar. The events happening on the moonbase are a fluxed point in time — he doesn't know what happens, so the moon could be destroyed, affecting humanity's future.

Going to analyse one of the crevices caused by the corrosion, the Doctor, Clara and Lundvik find Henry's corpse, where they are attacked by another spider, which is repelled by the deterring effects of sunlight. The Doctor jumps down the crevice to gather a sample. The Moon shakes and sheds more of itself.

Based on the seismic activity and the amniotic fluid the Doctor finds, he determines that the Moon is actually an egg and, after growing for millions of years, it is now hatching. Lundvik wants to know how to kill the creature inside the egg. The Doctor puts her plan in context — to blow up a new creature with nuclear bombs, something they'll have to explain to their descendants. Lundvik reasons that the Moon's disintegration is causing catastrophic weather effects on Earth, and needs to be destroyed to save the world. Not being from Earth or the Moon, the Doctor chooses not to interfere, insisting that only humans can decide the future of their planet. Courtney wants to return to be a part of the debate, and the Doctor instructs her over her phone how to bring the TARDIS to them. As soon as she does so, the Doctor departs — leaving only Clara, Courtney and Lundvik to make the choice.

Clara thinks they should take the risk, and deal with any possible consequences if/when they happen. Lundvik has only humanity's interests in mind and is prepared to kill the creature to stop the destruction. She activates a timer, after which, she'll detonate the bombs. Ground Control speaks to them over a screen, informing them that Earth's situation is "pretty bad". Clara broadcasts to Earth over the screen, telling them to give their vote. Turning their lights off votes "kill" and keeping their lights on votes "don't kill".

After the timer has elapsed, Earth has voted "kill". Lundvik primes the detonator, but Clara intercepts at the last second and overrides the command, just as the Doctor returns.

Returning to Earth, the Doctor, Clara, Courtney and Lundvik watch from a beach as the Moon disintegrates in space, while the massive butterfly-like creature that hatched from it flies away — but not before it lays an egg, which has become a replacement Moon. The Doctor tells Lundvik that humanity from this point spreads into space, enduring to the end of the Universe because they chose not to kill. Courtney realises how special she now is, being one of the three people to allow Humankind to continue. Lundvik is left to make her own way back to NASA.

Tearful Clara

Angry and hurt, a tearful Clara tells the Doctor to go away and never come back.

The Doctor takes Courtney back to Coal Hill School, with her now happy to have had an important moment in her life. The Doctor prepares to take off on another adventure with Clara, but she parks the TARDIS, stopping him. She demands to know what the Doctor knew. The Doctor says he knew nothing, but Clara demands a truthful answer, threatening she'll smack him so hard he'll regenerate.

The Doctor explains that he knew the egg was harmless, but it wasn't his place to choose the fate of humanity. Clara expresses her anger at him for leaving them behind on the Moon, and becomes tearful, then even angrier when the Doctor gives patronising responses to her feelings. The Doctor tries to make it up to her, but Clara is too furious to listen. She tells him that she never wants to see him again and ends their friendship, leaving the Doctor all alone.

Clara storms out of the TARDIS, which then dematerialises. Danny finds her in her classroom, and as he comforts her, she recounts the story to him. Danny tells Clara that her relationship with the Doctor isn't over, because he can still make her angry. Clara asks him how he became so wise, and he tells her that he had a "really bad day".

Returning home, Clara goes into the kitchen and pours herself a glass of red wine. She then gazes out of her window at the Moon.



General production staff

Script department

Camera and lighting department

Art department

Costume department

Make-up and prosthetics



General post-production staff

Special and visual effects


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 Moon[]



  • Both Clara and Courtney are shown to have been given the superphone upgrade by the Doctor.

Cultural references from the real world[]

Food and Beverages[]

  • Courtney tried to use the Psychic Paper to buy alcohol.

Story notes[]

  • The working title for this episode was Return to Sarn. This was made as a joking reference to the fact that it was largely filmed in Lanzarote, where Planet of Fire was filmed.
  • This episode's original broadcast was followed by a teaser for the second series of fellow BBC Saturday night drama, Atlantis, confirming that it would premiere on 15 November, the week following the Series 8 finale of Doctor Who. Atlantis' first episode, The Earth Bull, was bookended by the initial stings promoting The Day of the Doctor.
  • During the writing process, Steven Moffat told Peter Harness to "Hinchcliffe the s** t out of it", in particular, the first half of the episode. (DWM 478) This referred to the period when Philip Hinchcliffe was the series producer (1975-77), which is remembered by fans as especially frightening.
  • Steven Moffat called the script "intense and emotional".
  • Peter Harness said that the episode would see a large change for the show. "I still don't know how people will take it. I'm in this kind of limbo now waiting for people to see it, and I've no idea, really I do not know how it is going to go down."
  • Peter Harness was a lifelong fan and made enquiries about writing for the series following its relaunch, but nothing came of it. He eventually got to pitch an idea for Series 7, which would have featured the Eleventh Doctor and the planned companion, a Victorian governess named Beryl. Harness had two ideas - When We Weren't There and this episode (they would have been accompanied by one of Beryl's charges). He ultimately had to abandon it in order to work on Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell.
  • Courtney's role was originally filled by a random Coal Hill student named Emma.
  • The episode originally opened with a prologue which depicted the deaths of the Mexican astronauts, and the decision to send the last serviceable space shuttle to investigate. Henry and Duke were the world's last living astronauts, and they were to be accompanied by Captain Blinovitch. When the TARDIS appeared, it was immediately evident that Blinovitch knew all three of its occupants, although she remembered Clara as “Mrs Pink”. It was Courtney, rather than Clara, who made the decision to ignore humanity's wishes and save the creature hatching from the Moon. Blinovitch was then revealed to be Courtney's future self; the presence of the same person at two stages of her life had allowed her to change history. It was decided that the Blinovitch subplot was taking the focus away from the deterioration of the relationship between the Doctor and Clara. This entire strand, including any connection between Courtney and Blinovitch, was abandoned. Indeed, Blinovitch was eventually renamed Lundvik, with the surname retained only in the Doctor's account of Courtney's future history.
  • Henry was originally revealed as a retired member of the Virgin Galactic cabin crew.
  • There was originally an old Moon buggy, which would have been hotwired and used for transportation around the lunar surface.
  • The Doctor lists one of his rules for the TARDIS as "no hanky-panky", reflecting a quote from John Nathan-Turner to rule out any suggestion of a sexual attraction between the Doctor and his companions.
  • The episode formed Block Four of season eight alongside Mummy on the Orient Express.
  • After reading the script, Paul Wilmshurst's principal concern was how sequences on the surface of the Moon would be realised. Greenscreen effects in the studio were one option, as was the use of a quarry. He decided to film in Lanzarote, having holidayed there in 1986. He had been particularly struck by the volcanic soil which was responsible for the cratered landscape of the Parque Nacional de Timanfaya. Indeed, the same area had been used for astronaut training by both NASA and the European Space Agency.
  • The episode was found to be severely over-length, resulting in a number of cuts during post-production. Originally, Clara revealed that Courtney had stolen (and broken) the Doctor's psychic paper in order to falsify her age. Also dropped was the shuttle crew introducing themselves, meaning that it would be well into the episode before any of the trio was named on-screen; indeed, Lundvik would not be identified until the final scene on the moonbase. Lost was much of the discussion about why space exploration had ceased, which formed a commentary on the modern obsession with smartphones and tablet computers. This notion survived in the Doctor's explanation that humanity would one day venture out into the galaxy because “something occurred that made it look up, not down.”
  • At Peter Capaldi's request, the yo-yo prop was designed to resemble the toy used by Tom Baker in The Ark In Space.
  • Peter Capaldi's anxiety about his limited skill with a yo-yo was assuaged when his daughter Cecily's boyfriend offered to spend a morning tutoring him.
  • A deleted scene saw a hologrammatic Doctor appear when Courtney used the DVD to control the TARDIS.
  • According to Tony Osoba, the crew used a car battery to keep the three actors playing the Space shuttle crew cool during the very hot location filming.
  • Peter Capaldi confirmed that he wore the same spacesuit worn by David Tennant in The Impossible Planet/The Satan Pit and The Waters of Mars.


Myths and Rumours[]

  • The Doctor will return to Sarn. The was speculation following the announcement that series 8 would film in Lanzarote, which was the same country used to represent Sarn in Planet of Fire. Lanzarote instead doubles as the surface of the Moon.

Filming locations[]

Production errors[]

If you'd like to talk about narrative problems with this story — like plot holes and things that seem to contradict other stories — please go to this episode's discontinuity discussion.

to be added


  • The Doctor refers to his regeneration cycle. (TV: The Time of the Doctor)
  • The Doctor says "When I say 'run', run", a saying favoured by his second incarnation. (TV: The Power of the Daleks et al.)
  • The Doctor previously propounded upon the life-producing qualities of amniotic fluid in his fourth incarnation. (TV: City of Death)
  • Earth of the mid-21st century is worse for wear environmentally compared to the start of the century. (TV: The Waters of Mars, Aeolian)
  • This is not the first time the Doctor has faced a terrible choice about millions of innocent humans or an innocent alien lifeform. (TV: The Beast Below)
  • The Seventh Doctor previously encountered the Process, another creature that hatched from an egg resembling a moon. (PROSE: Cat's Cradle: Time's Crucible)
  • The Doctor deliberately chooses to take a step back in the face of a potentially apocalyptic event, leaving humanity to choose the future. The Ninth Doctor initially took a similar approach upon witnessing what appeared to be humanity's first contact with alien life. (TV: Aliens of London)
  • The Doctor previously used a yo-yo to assess the gravity in his fourth incarnation. (TV: The Ark in Space)
  • The Doctor spies a prototype version of the Bennett oscillator, using it to deduce that the year is 2049. He has previously indicated that a modified version of the Bennett oscillator was from the late 29th to early 30th century. (TV: The Ark in Space)
  • Clara mentions the previous time the TARDIS disappeared and the Doctor said it would "turn up". (TV: Cold War)
  • Also harking back to Cold War, Clara made a presumption about the future as she says that the Earth does not end in 1983 as she is from the 21st century. In Kill the Moon she again makes a presumption about the future this time about the Moon.
  • When Clara is asked if she has loved ones on Earth, Courtney suggestively teases "Mr Pink," referring to her knowledge of Clara's relationship with Danny Pink. (TV: The Caretaker)
  • Lundvik likens the chunks of falling rock from the moon to "whatever killed the dinosaurs". What killed the dinosaurs was, in fact, a freighter from the 26th century, which had been warped back in time 65 million years before crashing into the Earth. (TV: Earthshock)
  • The Doctor tells Courtney where to find a pile of DVDs in the TARDIS, and that putting one into the console will bring the TARDIS to him. He also states that if Courtney doesn't hold onto the TARDIS console, it will leave her behind. (TV: Blink)
  • Humanity had lost interest in space travel by the middle of the 21st century. (TV: The Seeds of Death)
  • Danny understands the Doctor "pushed Clara too far", as he said the army did with him. (TV: The Caretaker)
  • The Doctor tells people to watch their language after using the word "bloody", including his companion. The Tenth Doctor told Wilfred Mott not to swear when he said this word in front of him. (TV: The End of Time) In the U.K., the word is considered a mild profanity; in other countries including the U.S. and Canada, however, it is not.
  • The Tenth Doctor previously intended to take Rose Tyler to the Moon so that she could become the first woman to step on its surface. (PROSE: I Am a Dalek)
  • The Doctor says he's "never killed Hitler". (TV: Let's Kill Hitler) Peter Capaldi himself had been in the mini-series Selling Hitler.

Home video releases[]

DVD & Blu-ray releases[]

Complete 8th Series UK Cover

Series Full Box-set Region 2

Digital releases[]

  • The episode was released on Google Play, iTunes and Amazon Instant Video in HD or SD, also available as part of the Series 8 digital boxset. The digital boxset contains various features: trailer, interviews, The Ultimate Companion, The Ultimate Time Lord, Inside the World Tour and Doctor Who Extra episodes for each episode.
  • In the United Kingdom, this story is available on BBC iPlayer.

External links[]

to be added