The 9 Doctor Who Plot Threads That Will Probably Be Left Hanging


Since Doctor Who came back in 2005 it has evolved from being a Saturday teatime treat for British children (and their nostalgic parents) to one of the chief geek shows on TV. Heightened episode quality coupled with the increased popularity in America have turned Whovians into a force that have Trekkies quaking.

Who has relished this new found popularity, becoming increasingly dual layered. While the core child audience can still enjoy the fantastical stories, episodes have hidden hints and seemingly throwaway references that provide clues for fans about where the show is heading.

Unfortunately, with this comes plot threads that don’t end up explored; for every reference that gets a payoff down the line, there’s one that fans put weight on that never becomes anything. While this is certainly more prominent with Steven Moffat’s writing, it’s been a problem across the whole series.

Coming up are nine such plot threads I doubt we’ll ever get any resolution to, along with one long standing arc we’ll likely get enlightened on very soon. I’ve decided to stick with nu-Who, primarily because this is where the continuity began to be fully chronicled, highlighting these dropped threads.

7. The Clerics

Back when the identity of River Song was just a glint in Moffat’s (and Rory’s ) eye, her appearances were an addition to an already exciting plot, rather than the plot itself (although I have no problem with either). Funnily enough, in her first team up with Matt Smith (in The Time Of Angels) she isn’t the biggest mystery. What really confuses are the militarised clerics.

Here the clerics regarded the Doctor with real respect, looking up to him and even warning him of River’s destructive role in his future. When we see them again in A Good Man Goes To War, about a century or so later in their timeline, they still regard him as a higher being, but this time they’re creating a weapon to destroy him.

Why they call themselves the Church is dismissed away by the Doctor in their first appearance (they’re an evolution of the modern religions here on Earth), but we never get a hint at what causes them to take a complete u-turn against the Doctor. It can’t have been the Silence controlling them as they’d been rendered weak by the moon landing footage and given they knew River would be trained to kill him, it paints them as a pretty dumb sect.

Potential Solution: They became more financially than religiously motivated and the Silence bought them out.

6. The Silence

A much bigger story arc than the rest on this list, The Silence have been a presence throughout Matt Smith’s time as the Time Lord – they blew up the Tardis creating the cracks in Series 5, all looking forward to stop the finale of Series 7 – but they were most prominent in Series 6.

The thing is, even though their ultimate goal (to stop The Great Intelligence from destroying the Doctor’s past and causing silence to fall) was seemingly reached on the second attempt (after blowing up the Tardis backfired), you’d expect an ancient religion who’d obsessed over this for millennia would actually double check they’d succeeded. If I’d gone to the lengths of kidnapping a child from the most powerful being in the universe I’d want to be 100% certain it had been time well spent.

In the alternate universe the Silence was destroyed, but as that had Winston Churcill as the Roman Emperor we all assumed it wasn’t real, implying the Silence and Madam Kovarian are still out there. I guess Moffat heard some of the complaints about the series’ serialisation and cut them out.

Potential Solution: The intelligent society went dumb and didn’t check.

5. The Doctor’s Daughter

Coming at a time when Doctor Who spin-offs were all the rage (Torchwood and The Sarah Jane Adventures were both in full swing) many assumed Jenny, the Doctor’s ‘daughter’ was intended for a similar fate. A purely stand alone episode, there was a tacked on ending that had her regain life and escape off into the stars.

Since then, fans have been waiting four years for her to resurface to no avail. The ending of The Doctor’s Daughter was so explicit in her survival that once a spin-off was off the cards it was assumed she’d be key in stopping Davros or The Master or whoever the next major villain was after she failed to turn up.

Steven Moffat was allegedly behind her resurrection, leading to all manner of crazy fan theories relating to his Whoniverse, but now I think it’s time to forget this one. Doctor Who rarely has threads hanging over a period this long and when it does, they aren’t just dropped and picked back up suddenly, but slowly teased out, like with River Song.

Potential Solution: She went on to live a normal, unremarkable life. Maybe with a human version of the Tenth Doctor.

4. The Doctor’s Character Changes

The David Tennant specials were a mixed bag that exemplified the Davies era. There was traditionally Who-ish concepts realised disappointingly (Planet Of The Dead), an assured, different one (The Waters Of Mars) and an overly bombastic finale that threw everything in the mixing pot with only some of it working (The End Of Time).

The best of the lot, The Waters Of Mars introduced two really interesting avenues to be explored that were cut short by the end of the episode.

The first was something mostly absent from the Davies stories – messing with fixed events. We got to see a Doctor finally disregarding the rules of the destroyed Time Lords and changing time. Yes, time does correct his actions much to his disdain, but there was a major character change here that would lent itself to more stories.

The second is something that we did finally see with Matt Smith in Series 6; a Doctor who was ready to die. After the previous example had been corrected, Ten expressed a desire to die that was absent when we saw his next in his final adventure. It’s a shame this change was reverted, but even though Tennant is returning for the anniversary special this is an avenue that was never explored beyond one scene

I guess Davies wanted to look at these elements of the character, but given the short time left he rushed the job a bit. The themes are given focus, but not as much as you’d imagine they warrant.

Potential Solution: It’s all off-screen.

1. Jack Harkness’ Future

This is the biggie. The one you’ve been hoping for every time you click next. Well here it is. One throwaway line that changed the perceptions of a character forever.

Clearly Jack wasn’t originally intended to be the Face of Boe and I suspect it wasn’t even a fully formed idea when the Face died. But come the end of Series 3 he revealed his old nickname was the same as the big head in a jar, setting the internet alight with speculation.

Jack’s appeared a couple of times since on the main show and this wasn’t mentioned at all, suggested Davies had little interest in confirming or denying the rumour. It is admittedly more fun to keep it open, but there’s nothing quite like closure.

It’s believable that the immortal Jack would eventually change in appearance (and reproductive system) to the extent where he was alien to what he originally was, but given the variable rules of Who it can’t be taken as gospel until there’s some proof. John Barrowman has been consistently rumoured to be to the series, but given no one from the Davies’ era (Tennat excluded) has been in Moffat’s Who this’ll be something that’s never going to be explained beyond the hint we got.

Potential Solution: Just say it’s true. It’s a lot more awesome that way.

Full list at the source. What do you want to see wrapped up, ONTD?