Morbius was a notorious and malevolent renegade Time Lord. His career was the first in millennia to dramatically alter Gallifrey's relations with the wider universe. He attempted to overturn Gallifrey's non-interference policy in favour of military conquest, a controversial move which sparked the Time Lords' first and greatest Civil War. He failed, was exiled and eventually executed, only to survive, saved by his followers.
Morbius was born to the Patrex Chapter. (PROSE: The Legacy of Gallifrey) Like all Time Lords, Morbius was taken from his family at the age of eight for the selection process in the Drylands. Staring into the Untempered Schism as part of a Time Lord initiation rite, Morbius was said by one Time Lord historian to have been driven mad by what he saw in the Schism. (PROSE: A Brief History of Time Lords)
Following Rassilon's abdication from the head of the Presidency, the nature of the High Council's membership was refined and codified with Rassilon's former Cardinal and fellow Prydonian, Pandad, as the first regular Lord President. The Council would now include four Councillors, and the charismatic Morbius was one of those four.
However, unlike his fellow members of the High Council, Morbius disapproved of much of Rassilon's new order, wanting a more equalitarian Gallifreyan society. He argued that all Chapters should be represented on the Council equally, and also that the Eye of Harmony should be unlocked so that all remaining Gallifreyans could be given the ability to regenerate, rather than it remaining a privilege of the bloodlines which Rassilon had personally favoured. Almost despite himself, Morbius became a sort of populist cult-leader as he continued defending these policies, (PROSE: The Legacy of Gallifrey) a dogma to which, over time, a belief that Time Lords should take advantage of their power to conquer the universe was appended. (TV: The Brain of Morbius)
Though he might have considered granting Morbius his earliest demands for better Chapter representation and the spreading of regeneration, Lord President Pandad could not condone Morbius's eventual demand for the Presidency itself. Pandad ordered him exiled, alongside some of his more vocal supporters, hoping that this show of force would quench the brewing rebellion. According to one account, Pandad was successful, (PROSE: The Legacy of Gallifrey) but in another account, Morbius succeeded in becoming head of the High Council, with one Saran as his Vice President. (PROSE: Warmonger)
While based on Gallifrey, Morbius formed a personal army of mercenaries, bought by his promises of time travel and immortality. His following came to be known as the Cult of Morbius. (TV: The Brain of Morbius, PROSE: Warmonger)
Gallifreyan society struggled to deal with these inconceivable events. The long-term cultural changes brought about included the increased influence of the Celestial Intervention Agency. (PROSE: Warmonger)
The Civil War
According to one account, President Morbius's own High Council, disapproving of the path he had taken, decided to betray him and attempted to have him exiled. In return, he and his followers abandoned Gallifrey and attacked the cultures of the outside universe with renewed fervour. Gallifrey knew that he must be stopped, but, uncomfortable with being seen to act directly in the universe, the Time Lord High Council eventually chose to fight this war by proxy.
The Fifth Doctor, who had travelled into Gallifrey's past, was appointed "Supreme Coordinator of the Alliance Battle Fleet" and directed an unlikely army of humans, Draconians, Cybermen, Ogrons, Ice Warriors and Sontarans against Morbius, with the Time Lords providing the Doctor with financial support and a flagship. (PROSE: Warmonger)
According to the Scrolls of Gallifrey, Morbius had been exiled by Lord President Pandad as soon as he had made his bid for the Presidency, though he then claimed the title of President-in-exile. Escaping his exile, Morbius and his Cult assembled an "army of evil" with which to take the Capitol by force and returned to Gallifrey ready to attack, starting the Time Lords' great Civil War. Pandad took the lead of Gallifrey's armies against Morbius's own force, which mostly comprised alien lifeforms.
The war dragged on for many years and claimed the lives of untold numbers of Time Lords, Gallifreyans, and other sentients. (PROSE: The Legacy of Gallifrey) Planets involved in the conflict included Fangoria, Romark, Darkeen, Martak and Freedonia, which provided troops for Morbius, and Sylvana, Zandir, Tanith and Electra, which fell to him. (PROSE: Warmonger)
In the end, the last of Morbius's forces were forced by the last of Pandad's to the planet Karn for a final clash during which the better part of both armies died, as did Karn's native population. The only local institution or population to survive the clash of Time Lords was the Sisterhood of Karn, (PROSE: The Legacy of Gallifrey) who had originated on Gallifrey itself, (PROSE: Cat's Cradle: Time's Crucible) and helped the Alliance defeat Morbius, (PROSE: Warmonger) who throughout all these events was still in his first incarnation. (TV: The Brain of Morbius)
Trial and execution
Although the grisly verdict had been decided in advance, (PROSE: Warmonger) Morbius was still put on trial, by the Sisterhood of Karn, (PROSE: Warmonger) with the Sisterhood's leader Maren attending the execution personally. (TV: The Brain of Morbius) The sentence of death by public and ceremonial disintegration was in part a panicked attempt by the Time Lords to caution the universe at large against ever opposing them. (PROSE: The Book of the War)
Morbius was already encased in a dispersal chamber when Pandad climbed atop one of Karn's cliffs to grandiosely deliver the verdict in a public address. Before he could do so, Pandad, lost in the momentousness of what he had to say, misjudged his footing and plummeted to his death. Pandemonium erupted, but Cardinal Helron, one of Pandad's High Council, seemed to manage to action the execution machine before Morbius could take advantage of the confusion to escape; (PROSE: The Legacy of Gallifrey) Morbius's body was publically atomised to the nine corners of the universe. (TV: The Brain of Morbius)
However, Morbius had actually escaped death: one of his followers, the human surgeon Mehendri Solon, secretly removed Morbius' brain prior to his disintegration. (TV: The Brain of Morbius, PROSE: Warmonger) Solon had secretly been aided by the Fifth Doctor, who knew that Morbius's brain had to survive in order to keep history on track. (PROSE: Warmonger) Solon stayed on Karn in hiding, where he began planning to build a new body for Morbius. The Sisterhood took to defending the Elixir of Life by causing passing spacecrafts to crash; these space travellers provided a regular supply of corpses from which Solon scavenged body parts for his project. (TV: The Brain of Morbius)
The fate of Morbius' brain
Over the years, Solon acquired a great many body parts, which he used to create Morbius's new body. These included lungs from a Birastrop, a left arm from Solon's unknowing assistant Condo and a claw for his right arm. During this time, Morbius hid his presence from the Sisterhood by placing a barrier around his mind, and his hatred for them had increased. This plan to create a new body for Morbius and wreak vengeance was nearing completion when the Fourth Doctor and his companion Sarah Jane Smith arrived at his castle on Karn.
By this point, Morbius had become increasingly antagonistic towards Solon, frustrated by the scientist's never-ending promises. He didn't care about what he looked like in his new body, he only wished to walk, to feel and to see again. He likened himself to "a sponge beneath the sea" though he noted that a sponge had more life than what he was going through. He pitied his fate, which he saw as tragic, mourning that when he led the High Council on Gallifrey, he had "dreamed the greatest dreams of history". (TV: The Brain of Morbius)
A new body… at last?
The haphazardly-assembled body lacked a head to hold the brain of Morbius, so Solon planned to use the Doctor's head. After Morbius's brain was damaged during a fall when Condo fought with Solon on discovering his arm was being used, Solon was forced to use a plastic braincase. He had not used this before as there was the danger of a static electricity build-up which would probably damage the brain. Morbius was unable to speak for some time due to the damage sustained. Eventually, Solon was able to repair this but was killed soon afterwards when the Doctor poisoned him with cyanide gas. As Morbius proclaimed his return to power, he was challenged to a mindbending contest by the Doctor, who informed him that he doubted Morbius's power after his brain had spent so long trapped in the tank, and agreed.
Morbius was apparently winning the contest, but the static build-up left him in a dazed, animalistic state. He didn't speak again, only groaning in agony. Upon leaving Solon's castle, he was chased by the Sisterhood of Karn, surrounded and forced over the edge of a high cliff, apparently falling to his death. (TV: The Brain of Morbius)
Saved by Ohica
After the Doctor left Karn, the Sisterhood went to the bottom of the cliff and recovered what was left of Morbius' "not entirely destroyed" brain. Ohica led the wounded Morbius to the Death Zone to use the remains of Rassilon to give Morbius immortality. Ohica discovered that Iris Wildthyme had infiltrated the Sisterhood and used the Time Scoop to bring seven of Iris' own incarnations to Death Zone. The Irises were able to get past the Ice Warriors, Ogrons, Sea Devils, Zarbi, Mechanoids and Quarks that Ohica time scooped to the Death Zone and defeated Morbius before he gained immortality. (PROSE: Verdigris)
Cristophe Zarodnix later became the leader of the Cult of Morbius and bought the planet Karn, forcing the Sisterhood off-world. On Karn, he found a fragment of Morbius' brain and began to look for a Time Lord, so he could extract DNA to fuse with what was left of Morbius, in order to effect his resurrection. Zarodnix used DNA from the Time Lord agent Straxus to effect a new regeneration for Morbius. In his new form, Morbius used a stellar manipulator to suck the power of the Eye of Harmony, making the Time Lords powerless to stop his conquest. Morbius rebuilt his military forces, including mind-controlled Trell, and spent a decade conquering over ten thousand worlds, but his body was unstable and required frequent gene-splicings (called "feedings") from Straxus.
The Eighth Doctor and Lucie Miller, who had barely escaped from Gallifrey before Morbius used the stellar manipulator, arrived and worked with Straxus and the cybernetically augmented Trell policeman Rosto to steal the remote control for Morbius' stellar manipulator. The Doctor succeeded in taking the control and releasing the Time Lords, who promptly broke the Laws of Time to prevent Zarodnix's purchase of Karn and Morbius' resurrection; however, at the moment before the Timeline was rewritten, Morbius and the Doctor fell from the balcony of Morbius' palace. The Time Lords believed the Doctor to be dead, but he was actually transported by the Sisterhood to the planet Orbis. The timeline in which Morbius had been brought back to life was unmade, with only Lucie Miller and Straxus remembering it. (AUDIO: The Vengeance of Morbius)
Morbius was known to the Fourth Doctor as "one of the most despicable criminally minded wretches that ever lived", though Solon noted that members of the surviving Cult of Morbius obviously begged to differ. (TV: The Brain of Morbius)
The Book of the War documented an unprecedented event in Time Lord history it dubbed the "Imperator presidency" wherein which "the Imperator" had seized power on Gallifrey and attempted to wage war on the universe, only to eventually be betrayed by the Time Lords and hurriedly executed by molecular disintegration. The Book described the Imperator as one of the original Renegades, of the same generation as the War King and Grandfather Paradox, but also as a member of House Dvora, a newblood house. (PROSE: The Book of the War)
In the video game Happy Deathday, played by Izzy Sinclair on the Time-Space Visualiser, Morbius was among a host of "every single enemy" that the Doctor had ever defeated, who were assembled by the Beige Guardian and pitted against the Doctor's first eight incarnations. (COMIC: Happy Deathday)
The black, friable spires of Yarvelling's Church from Skaro were a fragment of the Last Great Time War. According to one account, the Eighth Doctor saw the Cathedral fused with fragments of Morbius' Red Capitol in the backwater where he triggered the Moment. (PROSE: Doctor Who and the Time War)
Behind the scenes
- The Imperator as featured or mentioned the Faction Paradox series fills the same place in Time Lord history as Morbius, and the authorial intent is clearly that "the Imperator" be read as a title or alias of Morbius. However, as none of the stories featuring the Imperator held the licence to the character or name of Morbius, this Wiki does not acknowledge them to be the same individual. Interestingly, the Imperator's contemporary in Faction Paradox, the War King, is for his part implied to be a future version of the Master; this would, logically, mean that "Morbius" was a contemporary of the Doctor themselves.
- Morbius was named after Dr Edward Morbius from the 1956 film Forbidden Planet. (INFO: The Brain of Morbius)
- Morbius was referenced in Craig Hinton and Chris McKeon's Time's Champion, a sequel to Hinton's Millennial Rites and The Quantum Archangel. It was revealed Morbius fathered twin children, the Children of Contempt, with an unknown renegade Time Lady.