Monday, 5 July 2021


This wasn't really meant to be an entry. I was just trying to view my DVDs in a new and different way. I wanted to just watch them with a certain theme in mind and not try to blog about it later. For some strange reason that I viewed as psychologically healthy, I felt it was important that I view some Doctor Who without trying to blog about it later. To just enjoy the show for the sheer sake of it.   

But then I started noticing the patterns. Always the damned patterns! And, within a very short time, I had to admit: there was the potential, here, for a half decent ANALYTICAL essay. 

Before long, I was typing my little heart(s) away....

With a programme that has lasted as long as Doctor Who, it can be quite easy to create a few ongoing epic ideas that writers can return to from time-to-time and build upon. A short while ago, for instance, we did an essay that looked at how the show will occasionally create trilogies of stories that deal with a certain plot element or theme. It's a great concept that gave various creative teams interesting short-term arcs to indulge in. We enjoyed fun storylines like The Regeneration Trilogy and some really amazing stuff like The Tutelage of Ace.

The way Who has also established in its huge, ongoing mythos that certain crucial intergalacttic wars will happen in our future is another excellent example of this phenomenon. Whenever a story is produced that is meant to take place in a certain time period, the plot can be built around the idea that a war did erupt in that era. The author of the script can focus as little or as much as they want on this event. In some instances, it is only mentioned very incidentally. On other occasions, it's the central element of the adventure. 

For the next few entries, we're going to look at various tales that have dealt with some of the Intergalactic Wars that have occurred within the framework of the show's canon. As usual, we won't really get into too much of a discussion until we set up a decent definition or two. 


On the most basic level, an intergalactic war happens the moment beings from one planet engage in a military conflict with another. These don't even need to be two different species. We could have a story from the 24th Century, for instance, where humanity has now colonised several different worlds. One of these colonies gets annoyed with Mother Earth for some reason and sends a fleet of ships to attack. There you go. You got yourself an Intergalactic War. 

This would mean, of course, that any invasion that we've seen throughout the course of the series would also fall under this definition. It is, technically, denizens from one world fighting another. But, let's be honest, if I had to tackle every single invasion attempt in this analysis, the entry would go on forever. So we're going to have to narrow the definition a bit. 

I'm going to say that a proper Intergalactic War should work, more or less, the same way that World War II, did. There should be a front line where most of the battle takes place. There might also be civilian population centers away from the main action that get attacked. Certain factions may gain or lose ground here and there. Territory might get occupied for a bit and then surrendered later. But most of the fighting is taking place on a remote battlefield of sorts.  For an Intergalactic War, this battlefield will, most likely, be in Deep Space. But it could also be a certain planet that is being converged upon by multiple armies. 

The war should also last for a protracted period of time. This would disqualify a lot of  Invasion Stories, right there. The Doctor stops most of them from happening before they even really start. Or if an attack does begin, it's quelled quite quickly. To me, a good Intergalactic War should last a few years. Again, just like World War II, did. 

Finally, there are wars that have only been briefly mentioned. For example: the Doctor brings up the fact that the Xeraphin were destroyed in the cross-fire of the Vardon/Cosnax War during Timeflight.  We won't really take any real time examining something like this. A brief name-check really doesn't merit any real attention. 

Even something like the war that's discussed in Leisure Hive between the Foamasi and the Argolins that only lasted for 20 minutes won't really get talked about. It fails to meet two criteria: it's only ever mentioned - not seen. And it doesn't last long enough. 

Essentially, if an Intergalactic War is of a sizeable magnitude, it will be brought to light and scrutinised. The smaller stuff will be brushed aside.  


As I viewed the various adventures the Doctor has had that involved Intergalactic Wars, I noticed that many of them touched upon similar elements. In some instances, we even saw certain "types" of stories being written over and over. 

These tales dealt with core points that we see in the structure of real wars that we've had here on Earth. Throughout our bloody history, major battles do seem to follow a specific pattern or, more simply, happen in a certain way. Writers of Intergalactic War tales made sure to include these elements in their scripts. It gave more realism to what they were creating. 

So, if you should want to go through all the different stories of this nature, here are the recurring concepts to look out for:   


Most wars do not just suddenly start out of nowhere. There is a build up of attrition between opposing forces that takes some time. Usually, there are very specific events that will really incense the tempers of enemies and massively accelerate aggression. These are usually referred to as "flashpoints." 

If we look at the First World War, in this instance, the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand would be considered a major flashpoint. In fact, shortly after this tragedy, the First Great War began. 

As we look at Intergalactic Wars, we'll see that there are whole stories that are flashpoints. 

First Shots

There can be a bit of a blur between this element and the first. Some historians, for instance, would claim that the assassination of Ferdinand constitutes the first shot fired in World War I. But I prefer to be a bit more literal about it. 

I'll reference a different war to illustrate the point. I actually live in a city in Canada called Windsor (not to be confused with the one in the UK - we don't have a castle!). Just across the Detroit River from us is the U.S. When the War of 1812 erupted between Canada and the United States, the very first skirmish took place in my city. A battalion of American soldiers led by General Hull crossed the river and attempted to invade us. We actually have a spot along our shore that we refer to as "Hull's Landing."  Quite literally, the very first bullets of the entire war were fired in this region. That's how I view what constitutes the First Shots in a war. It's the moment were the first real battle happened. 

We don't see a whole lot of stories that include this element in Doctor Who. More times than others, it will be Flashpoints. Although, if you're less pedantic than I am, you may consider some of the Flashpoints we look at to be First Shots. 

Actual Fighting

The real "meat" of any war. The ongoing skirmishes that take place in the front lines of a battlefield. These fights will wage on endlessly. Oftentimes, there's little indication of who is truly "winning" in these battles. It just people firing on each other over and over. Causing damage and death whenever they can.

The War Games actually provides us with an excellent terrestrial version of this phenomenon. We witness the futility of the trench warfare that made up the bulk of World War I. Within the story, we see only a few days of what the battle was like. The very knowledge that this sort of fighting went on for years nearly renders one exhausted just from thinking about it. What it must have actually been like in real life seems almost overwhelming. 

Ironically, we don't actually see a lot of the Actual Fighting that goes on in the Intergalactic Wars of Doctor Who. Particularly in the Classic Series. The reason is obvious: showing fleets of spaceships engaging each other costs real money. And Classic Who is not exactly renowned for its gigantic budget! 

New Who does correct this problem a bit. Although, as we'll see, even Old Who finds clever ways around the problem. 

Final Shots

Just as there are First Shots in any war, there is a specific moment where the last little bit of crossfire happens and one side finally surrenders. We'll return to World War II, once more, to provide examples. It was fought on several different fronts, so we can actually pinpoint a few instances that constitute Final Shots. 

In terms of the fight against the Japanese, most will say the Final Shots occurred when atomic bombs were dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki. After this demonstration of superior firepower, the Japanese chose to fold. 

In the European battles, historians site D-Day as being the Final Shots of World War II. A huge concerted attack by the Allies to storm the beaches of Normandy finally pushed the war effort into a conclusion. 

We do, sometimes, see the Final Shots of an Intergalactic War in Who. More times than others, though, they are discussed during our final category rather than displayed. 


Historians will claim that we don't truly get an idea of how a war went until sometime after it's over. Victors can still seem like they were defeated. Or alliances can be formed from those who lost that lead into new wars. Or any number of other circumstances of this nature. These are important developments that only truly come to light after the Final Shots were fired and peace returned for a bit. 

If we go back to the World War II comparison, for instance, we see that Britain did defeat the Nazi menace but that it came at quite the price. Before the War, the UK was considered one of the most powerful nations in the world. Up there with the other Great Super Powers of the time. However, for whatever reason, it never returned to its former glory once the war concluded. Many will even claim that, even though they won World War II, Britain still lost in many other ways. 

We don't really get a clear idea of how a war concludes until after the dust truly settles. There have been any number of Doctor Who tales set in the Aftermath of major Intergalactic Wars to give us a proper impression of how those great battles ultimately finished. Aftermath stories, in fact, are quite common.


While I did find certain patterns in Intergalactic War stories that were consistent with how wars are waged in our own history, there are also a few trends that I noticed in the plots that we don't normally see in terrestrial wars. Or, at the very best, they don't appear often. 


Several stories involving Intergalactic War feature this premise. Somehow, a warrior is  ejected from the battle and causes problems in another culture that is not involved in the slightest with the conflict. The people from that unrelated society do end up suffering a bit from  what is, essentially, some fallout from the war. 

Side Campaigns

There is, usually, a main thrust to any war. Every fight is driven by a central purpose. World War II, for example, was about a group of fascist countries wanting to take over the world. This was their mission. The mission of the Allies, of course, was to stop them. 

We see this in Intergalactic Wars, too. However, there are times when certain combatants become distracted and get involved in missions that are largely unrelated to their main campaign. There are entire stories in Doctor Who that show this. The plot of the adventure focuses on what one might call a Side Campaign. 

Nexus Points

On certain rare occasions, two different Intergalactic Wars will converge on one story. The adventure will, essentially, touch upon two different wars at once. 


As usual, I've chewed up serious word-count to get some basic parameters established. But I can still cover some of the real topic before wrapping up Part One of the essay. As specified in the title, we'll be looking at the Intergalactic Wars that don't involve Daleks or Cybermen. We'll cover the wars of these two vicious races in Part Two. 


The Armageddon Factor

This war almost didn't make it on the list. It's not particularly large in scale. It's only two planets fighting each other. And it all takes place in just one story. 

It does, however, display quite a few of the traits I just discussed. It's one of the few Classic Who stories that shows us Actual Fighting. It does it in a very economical way, however. Civilian bombing is shown by simply wobbling the set a bit and dropping some light-weight props from the ceiling. We also get some actual dogfights in space. But they are witnessed via radar rather than going to the trouble of doing a bunch of model work with spaceships. 

We also see a demonstration of Final Shots. Although it's highly subjective what exactly constitutes the Last Shots in the Atrian/Zeon War. In the middle of a Zeon raid, the Shadow suddenly tells the Marshal the war is over. So, from a technical standpoint, those would be the Last Shots. But the Marshall flying to Zeos to fire bombs at it and Mentalis' self-destruction could also be considered Final Shots that were prevented. 

Drax has the briefest of discussions with Romana and the Doctor about his plans to negotiate a deal with the Marshal to re-build Atrios. This does signpost a bit of an Aftermath for us. 

If you really want to get subjective, though, the Shadow speaks of how the Atrian/Zeon War was but a staging ground for a far greater war that he and the Black Guardian were planning to create through use of the Key to Time. So you could almost consider the whole story to be a Flashpoint for a much larger battle that never happened. 

I also have a theory you might find interesting about how the quest for the Key to Time actually leads to the Time Wars.  Have a look at it if you like (Part Two is the one that really dives into the theory, but I've included both parts just to give you a fuller frame of reference): 

What the Hell Happened at the End of the Key to Time? 

Part 1:

Part 2: 


Curse of Peladon

Monster of Peladon

A bit more scope to this one. It actually involves two stories, this time!

Some might feel Curse should not be included here, as all the real fighting takes place in its sequel. But, to me, the first story in the Peladon Saga is just as crucial. It constitutes as a major Flashpoint for the war that is to come. The richness of Peladon's mineral resources becomes crucial in the war effort. So the conference that gets the planet admitted into the Federation is quite important. Just think: how much differently would the battle have played out if Peladon wasn't in the Federation? 

Not to mention that Curse almost becomes a Flashpoint for another war. Arcturus does make an attempt during the whole diplomatic process to stir up the Bad Blood between his people and the Ice Warriors. 

Monster of Peladon really is the meat of the conflict. There is some Actual Fighting going on. But it's taking place in another part of the Universe and only gets talked about. This is what I really mean when I say we never actually see a lot of the Actual Fighting in Classic Who. Most of the time, it's never seen - just discussed. 

When the Breakaway Ice Warrior Faction fails in its attempt to take over Peladon, Galaxy Five immediately sues for peace. So the fighting we see in the mines and in the throne room would be the Final Shots in the war. 

We don't get a particularly clear idea of what the Aftermath of this war might be. While Armageddon Factor points towards a restoration of Atrios, there's not much discussion of what's to come next now that the battle is over. 

Want a better idea of how the Peladon Saga fits in with the history of the Ice Warriors? Check out this link: 

The History of the Ice Warriors -


The Time Warrior 

Horror of Fang Rock 

The Two Doctors 

The Sontaran Stratagem/Poison Sky

The Sontaran Experiment

A Good Man Goes to War (just Strax's first scene)

The longest-running of all the Intergalactic Wars. The Doctor indicates that, by the early 21st Century, it has been going for a good 50 000 years. Two thousand years after the events of Sontaran Strategem/Poison Sky, it still seems to be going on. 

With such a long history, we have no idea exactly how the war started. Thus far. there have been no stories with Flashpoints or First Shots. Actual Fighting was already going on by the time we hear about this whole conflict. In fact, Actual Fighting seems to be happening throughout almost all of the stories involving the Sontaran/Rutan War. As usual, of course, it all transpires somewhere offscreen and only gets mentioned.

Both Time Warrior and Horror of Fang Rock represent the first stories in our discussion that display the idea of Fallout. Linx's ship was, quite simply, shot down in battle and he was forced to land on Earth to effect repairs. The Rutan scout that crashes on Fang Rock was actually intending to go to Earth to investigate it as a possible tactical point, but has trouble landing. So this still does come across as a Fallout story too. It is a more of a complication from an Intergalactic War that accidentally happens rather than some valid strategic planning. 

The Two Doctors and Sontaran Stratagem/Poison Sky might seem a bit like Side Campaigns. But these stories are more about missions that will strengthen Sontaran might to the point where they believe they can finally defeat the Rutan Host. So they don't deviate from the central thrust of the war that much. If anything, they enhance it. 

There are some interesting notes we can make about the Actual Fighting that takes place in and around the 20th Century. We do hear in Horror of Fang Rock that the Rutans had once conquered the Mutter's Spiral. But, by the early 1900s, they were being heavily pushed back and had lost most of their control over it.   

Somewhere around the mid-1980s, some serious fighting was going on in the Madillon Cluster that required the intense attention of Sontaran officers. Group Marshal Stike is desperate to return to this battle and is pushing along Dastari's plans as much as he can. 

Sontaran Experiment and that brief scene in Good Man Goes to War, however, do definitely seem to be about Side Campaigns. The Sontarans have turned their focus away ever-so-slightly from the Rutans to embark upon a war against humanity. They were depending heavily on a report from Field Marshal Styre before embarking upon the venture. When it never came, this seemed to only delay the effort. It does look like, by the Year 4037, they went ahead with the whole thing after all. The Sontarans are definitely fighting humans during that brief scene in Good Man Goes to War. The Doctor does state in Experiment that conquering humans will, somehow, assist them in their overall battle against the Rutans - but that's pretty vague conjecture, at best.  He's still probably right. But it does seem like a huge digression from their main battleplans. 

Some of you may be wondering why I'm not including The Invasion of Time in this list. It does have Sontarans in it, after all. The reason why I'm not discussing it is because there is absolutely no mention of the Rutans in that particular story. So it's entirely possible that the war wasn't actually going on when this story takes place. 

To get a better understanding of where Invasion of Time might fit in the Timeline and to have a better idea, in general, of Sontaran history - click on this link:  

History of the Sontarans:


Frontier in Space

This is another war that almost doesn't merit mentioning. The battle between Atrios and Zeos, at least, is displayed. But all we really see of the Human/Draconian Conflict is the Aftermath. Frontier in Space seems to take place quite some time after the whole war is concluded. A treaty has been drawn up between the two forces and boundaries have been set in space pertaining to who owns what part of the cosmos. But the whole arrangement seems tenuous, at best. It's still relatively easy to tip these two societies back into fighting each other. Hostilities over the diplomatic misunderstanding that General Williams had with the Draconian Ambassador that sparked the whole war are still running quite high. At the end of the adventure, there does seem to be a better level of understanding between the two super-powers. Perhaps true peace will now be attainable. 

The other interesting thing about Frontier in Space, however, is that it also represents the first Nexus Point in our analysis. This story also touches upon another Great Intergalactic War. One we will examine in the second part of this essay.






  1. "If we return to our World War II comparison, the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand would be considered a major flashpoint. In fact, shortly after this tragedy, the Second Great War began."

    Ummm.... pretty sure that's the wrong world war.

  2. This comment has been removed by the author.

  3. Oops. Yeah. I had meant to switch over to World War I when I was, originally, writing it but, somehow, went to World War II, still. Stupid mistake. I have fixed it in the original text but I want everyone to know, here, of my stupidity. The person in the comments did properly call me out. I just corrected things after they brought it to my attention. Thankyou for catching that.

  4. (In my defense, I get the World War correct in the next section where I talk about "First Shots!)


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