Doctor Who "The Parting of the Ways" (lost alternate ending of British sci-fi TV series finale; 2005)

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Logo for the show during the first reboot series.

Status: Lost

Doctor Who is long-running British science-fiction television show, originally airing from 1963 to 1989.[1] In 2005, a new series was commissioned by the BBC, starring Christopher Eccleston as the Ninth Doctor, and Billie Piper as companion Rose Tyler.[2] The episode The Parting of the Ways was the series finale and the final episode Eccleston would appear in as the Ninth Doctor would regenerate into the Tenth Doctor, played by David Tennant. However, before Eccleston's departure was announced to the public, an alternate ending was filmed and intended to be shown to the press.


The Parting of the Ways was the second part of a story featuring a large army of Daleks led by the Dalek Emperor, as well as concluding the Bad Wolf story arc and the Ninth Doctor's brief tenure on the show. In it, the Daleks attack the Game Station and prepare to conquer the universe, with the Doctor, Rose Tyler and Captain Jack Harkness (John Barrowman) attempting to stop them. However, with Rose sent back to modern day Earth by the Doctor via his TARDIS, and Jack being exterminated by the Daleks, the Doctor is helpless in his quest to forever defeat his biggest enemy. Upon refusing to activate the Delta Wave, a weapon that would kill Dalek and humans living on Earth below, the Doctor accepts his fate and prepares to be exterminated.

However, the TARDIS suddenly returns with Rose, who looked into the Time Vortex and became the Bad Wolf. This gives her the powers to destroy the Daleks and the Emperor, as well as resurrect Jack. Ultimately, she is unable to relinquish her powers and the Vortex is beginning to kill him. The Doctor sacrifices his life by absorbing the Vortex from Rose, and with the two back in the TARDIS, regenerates into the Tenth Doctor.[3]

Alternate Ending

The alternate ending would be similar, albeit without the sacrifice at the end. Instead, the Doctor would have the TARDIS scan Rose only for the TARDIS to display the message "LIFEFORM DYING", providing a cliff-hanger for the second series.[4] The ending was never intended to be added to the episode, as early in filming Eccleston had announced he would leave after one series. Instead, it was to be shown to the British press, to keep the regeneration a surprise.[5]

Ultimately, this ending would prove unnecessary, as the BBC Press Office revealed Eccleston's departure earlier than planned, thus making it obvious that a regeneration was to occur in the series finale.[6] Nevertheless, showrunner Russell T Davies considered the scene inferior to the ending shown in the episode.[7]


Davies discussed the ending in an issue of Doctor Who Magazine, believing it would make a suitable DVD extra for the future. On the Complete First Series DVD set commentary for The Parting of the Ways, executive producer Julie Gardner discussed the ending, and put doubts into the idea the ending would appear as a DVD extra.[8] Ultimately, these doubts proved valid, as the ending was not included in the Series 1 DVD set, and has yet to be publicly released. Unlike early episodes of the show however, the BBC likely still has footage of the ending within its archives, thus providing the hope of it being released in the future.


The final scene of The Parting of the Ways, with the Ninth Doctor's regeneration.

See Also

External Link


  1. BBC News article discussing Doctor Who and its long-running status. Retrieved 13 May '21
  2. BBC Press Office announcing the return of Doctor Who. Retrieved 13 May '21
  3. TV Tropes summarising the episode. Retrieved 13 May '21
  4. BBC America list discussing the alternate ending. Retrieved 13 May '21
  5. BBC Fact File for The Parting of the Ways, discussing the alternate ending. Retrieved 13 May '21
  6. BBC article announcing Christopher Eccleston's departure from Doctor Who. Retrieved 13 May '21
  7. Issue of Doctor Who Magazine where Russell T Davies explained the motive behind the alternate ending, as well as stating it could be a viable DVD extra. Retrieved 13 May '21
  8. Complete First Series DVD set, where Julie Gardner discussed the ending and its unlikely chances of being a DVD extra. Retrieved 13 May '21