A Cut Plotline Could Have Rewritten Decades Of Doctor Who

The Time Lord's regeneration in "Doctor Who" has always been an essential rule in the character's biology. The concept is one of the main reasons the show and character have continued to be relevant over the years. Every time the Doctor dies, the character is renewed, with a new face taking the reins, allowing numerous actors to take the lead role in the beloved sci-fi series.

Whovians might remember the events that ensued in "The Name of The Doctor," the sci-fi show's season 7 finale that introduced John Hurt as the War Doctor. If you don't remember the episode very well, allow me to refresh your memory: this is when the Eleventh Doctor, aka Matt Smith, steps into his time-stream to guide Clara (Jenna Coleman) back home. While John Hurt's appearance as a former incarnation of the Doctor was well-received, screenwriter Steven Moffat nearly wrote a retired Time Lord from the show's previous seasons to take over from Matt Smith. If Moffat had decided to go ahead with the plotline in question, it would have rewritten decades of "Doctor Who" in the most shocking way imaginable.

Steven Moffat nearly reintroduced the Ninth Doctor

An alternative ending for "The Name of The Doctor" could have revised the course of "Doctor Who" history forever. Steven Moffat wrote an alternative ending to the episode which brought back Christopher Eccleston's Ninth Doctor — read it to believe it!

In conversation with Doctor Who Magazine (via BBC Doctor Who), Steven Moffat revealed the alternate, jaw-dropping cliffhanger he came up with for "The Name of The Doctor."

"The Name of the Doctor, the original version, ends with Matt's Doctor walking into his time-stream after he's kissed River, and I didn't know what was going to come after that, but I knew that it'd leap us into the 50th, even though I didn't know what the 50th was going to be.

At one point, I thought Matt's Doctor was going to step into his time-stream... and wake up as Christopher Eccleston. The Moment, who wasn't Billie Piper at that point, would say, 'So what do you think?' He'd say, 'What do you mean? What do I think about what?' She'd say, 'That's what would happen.'"

John Hurt was the War Doctor

In "The Name of The Doctor," an entity called the Great Intelligence abducts the Time Lord's friends, forcing him to go to the planet of Trenzalore, which holds his future grave.

Matt Smith's incarnation of the Doctor travels with his companion Clara and, upon arrival, discovers that it is surrounded by tombstones, the consequence of a war in the past. A turn of events leads the nefarious entity to begin erasing information about the Doctor's life and impact on the world. Clara enters the Doctor's time-stream to stop this from happening in the hope of restoring the Doctor's timeline. We then see glimpses of the Doctor's past incarnations over the years before the Time Lord enters his now-collapsing time-stream to guide Clara back home.

When they reunite, the two spot a figure in the shadows which Clara does not recognize — despite having seen all of the Time Lord's faces. The Doctor explains that the elderly man is a past incarnation of himself, who took up arms and became a warrior. He disowned the title of the "Doctor."

Steven Moffat wrote a different ending to the story where it would follow Matt Smith into the time-stream, and he'd wake up as Christopher Eccleston — the Ninth Doctor! Moffat hoped for the episode's events to jump into the show's 50th-anniversary special — Smith's transformation into Eccleston would only be brief. "Matt and David would have turned up like the Ghosts of the Christmas Future," the writer explained during the interview.

Moffat created the War Doctor's character after Eccleston refused to make a reappearance as the Ninth Doctor, citing his irreparable relationship (via Radio Times) with the producers at the BBC as the reason. The actor had previously accused the BBC of smearing his name and spreading lies about his tenure on the show. Eccleston stated he didn't even receive an apology before being approached to star in the special. While the actor admired Moffat and considered taking the part because of it, he eventually decided it would be better not to return.