Sleeping accommodation in The Barn That's Not On Gallifrey

Where the Hell is that Barn?

Simon has argued in another post that the barn from Day of the Doctor and Listen is not on Gallifrey.

I will state that I wholeheartedly agree that the barn in Day of the Doctor is not on Gallifrey, never was on Gallifrey and, apart from a slight similarity in the color of the sky with Gallifrey, there is not a single scrap of evidence that the barn is on Gallifrey.

I have argued this since the day Day of the Doctor aired and I’ve been mystified why anyone would think that it was.  Based solely on what the Doctor knows and what we’ve learned through his (now proven to be faulty) memories being related to us it’s not logical that it would be Gallifrey.

The Doctor has stolen The Moment, a weapon that can…  come to think of it, how powerful is The Moment?  Is it nothing more than a bomb with a conscience?  In that case, it must be “planted” on Gallifrey.  But that conscience can violate the laws of time and bring multiple Doctors together including future incarnations from a future where Gallifrey was destroyed and the even time looped out of existence! That’s a bit overkill for just a bomb, ist it?

The Doctor was not in this time loop, nor apparently at ground zero (Gallifrey.)  We also know that the Doctor left the TARDIS “miles away” making his escape from ground zero even more unlikely.  This is not Gallifrey.

The barn is clearly a remote and desolate place.  It’s in a place where apparently only idiots would build a barn — barren wastelands do not good barn locations make — and, although we know that outside the Gallifreyan cities are nothing but wastelands (Invasion of Time) we also know “nobody” goes there except dropouts from Time Lord society.

Now, obviously, based on the Doctor’s comments about his childhood, he’s been outside visiting the hermit many times, so it is conceivable that there are buildings, structures and impossible barns out there, too.  Equally possible, then, that the Doctor would know of such a place.

On the flip side, if you were going to steal the most deadly weapon of the most technologically powerful species in the universe, would you take it away by TARDIS and conceal it in a barn within a boy’s walking distance of a Gallifreyan city?

If The Moment is a bomb, it must be Gallifrey and if The Moment is a directed weapon it must not be Gallifrey.  From everything we see in Day of the Doctor, The Moment is a directed weapon.  It is not remotely logical that the barn is on Gallifrey.


In Listen, this barn is undeniably an integral part of the Doctor’s childhood.  From both the dialogue and the script, this is the exact same barn as in Day of the Doctor.

Is it feasible that the Doctor lived on another world for some or all of his childhood?

While not expressly impossible, it doesn’t fit with any previous information we’ve received about Gallifrey in the series’ past.  Gallifreyans are strict isolationists (That exact word has been used.)  In their later, post-Rassilon days, they have withdrawn to their world and left the universe alone, save for the occasional dubious activities of the Celestial Intervention Agency (CIA.)

It doesn’t really fit into that model that a group of (apparently ordinary) boys would be living off world.  I say “apparently ordinary” because there’s no hint of destiny to them – the man is expecting the young Doctor to want to go into the army – generally the destination of the more plebeian members of society.

We’ve seen that the Time Lords are a class and caste driven society, at least in some fashion, with the Prydonian Time Lords at the top of pecking order.  It seems unlikely that those lower than the Time Lords would be the freedom to roam that the Time Lords are not.

I suspect that it’s not so much like Simon’s comparison to North Korea, but rather to Shangri-La, a fictional place where the peoples are so elevated that they maintain no interface with the outside world by choice.  Outlier personalities like the Doctor rarely achieve access to the TARDIS technology to allow them to leave and the others have no need or desire to leave.

Therefore the Doctor would have spent his childhood on Gallifrey and the barn, despite its appearance in Day of the Doctor, is apparently within the walking or running distance of a small, scared boy on a nightly basis.

In this case, Occam’s Razor tells use that the simplest conclusion, with the least amount of new assumptions is that the barn is on Gallifrey.

And yet it can’t be.  Gallifrey is time looped and/or lost in another universe, inaccessible to the TARDIS, even with the safeties off.

So here’s what the problem is, we’re attempting to impose rationale continuity to a fictional universe.

Continuity is meaningless in Doctor Who.  Once the Time Lords were massively powerful but completely disinterested, yet somehow they couldn’t find the Doctor until he called them.  (War Games)

During Pertwee’s reign, we learned of the Doctor’s childhood and his friendship with the Hermit who taught him many things that he didn’t learn from his Time Lord training.  Also during this time, we begin to learn that the Time Lords do meddle, but never interact directly, yet they are still massively powerful beings.

During Tom Baker’s time, we learn that, rather than all-powerful beings, the Time Lords (apart from the CIA) are a comical, fatuous, wastrel of a society.  Inflated by its on pomp and circumstance and completely out-of-touch and isolated from the universe.

The degradation of the Time Lords continued…  They themselves have never had any meaningful continuity.  They have been what they need to be at the whim of writers and script editors since the very beginning.

We can’t expect continuity now – or ever.

But, here’s the problem — you can’t tell a coherent story without continuity.  We will always continue to expect continuity in series because, if continuity can be changed from era-to-era, why not year-to-year, episode-to-episode or scene-to-scene?

In Day of the Doctor, it is only logical that the barn is on some remote other world.

In Listen, it is only logical that the barn in on Gallifrey, close to the Doctor’s home.

My vote:  The Impossible Barn is actually the Master’s TARDIS.

11 thoughts on “Where the Hell is that Barn?”

  1. Well I agree with all of this…up to a point.

    I think it’s a barn.

    You say “Gallifreyans are strict isolationists”. Is that Gallifreyans or Time Lords?

    We’ve certainly seen “the Time Lords are a class and caste driven society” but those who aren’t Time Lords would be outside that society, by definition. And if Time Lords are “so elevated that they maintain no interface with the outside world by choice” then I’m not sure it does seem unlikely that those lower than who aren’t Time Lords would have the freedom to roam – if they are insufficiently ‘elevated’ they would still want/need interaction with the Universe beyond. Indeed, the reference to having an army is proof of the fact.

    Also: we don’t know that the barn was built on a barren wasteland. We just know the land is barren at the time of The Day of the Doctor. Climate change on whatever planet it is may mean that 1000 years or so earlier, in Listen it’s green and verdant and abundant with crops all around. We don’t actually see outside – but there is hay in the barn. Where did that come from if it’s a wasteland at that time? In fact, in The Day of the Doctor we see some old ploughing gear – why was that there if it was always in a wasteland?

    I’m still not clear that the young Doctor spent more than one night in that barn. That’s all we saw. Maybe he was there two nights, a week, a couple of months. But can we extrapolate from a couple of scenes his entire childhood? I wouldn’t expect to, so “living off-world” is a stronger claim than needs to be made to explain his presence in the barn in Listen.

    We have so little information on the Doctor’s childhood that I just think we cannot expect to be able to account for all of his formative years, and therefore be certain they were entirely on Gallifrey. Indeed, Listen contains just about the most explicit information about the Doctor’s childhood we’ve had in the show – it appears to demonstrate he didn’t spend all his youth on Gallifrey – is it really necessary to discount this just because we haven’t had this information before?

    So, if we accept that in Listen, it is “only logical that the barn in on Gallifrey, close to the Doctor’s home” then we have two major problems (that we wouldn’t have if the barn were simply elsewhere):

    1. How did the barn get there?
    2. How did the TARDIS get there?

    I don’t see how you can explain either of these, and so I’m not convinced it’s “only logical” at all…

  2. I think there’s a fundamental problem with many alien cultures in movies and TV. While Earth people have dozens of races and cultures, aliens tend to have on big mono-culture. This is a failure of the writers and generally falls back on the notion that alien worlds are meant to amplify and reflect some aspect of ourselves back “through the looking glass” as it were to allow the storyteller to make and easily-digestible point.

    Is there a significant difference between Gallifreyans and Time Lords? Not that we’ve ever seen. Time Lords are simply those that, for merit or peerage have been accepted to and graduated “the Academy.” From all glimpses of Gallifrey we’ve seen, they are simply the ruling/privileged class of Gallifrey.

    You may recall that, in Invasion of Time, the Doctor sabotages the planet-wide forcefield that keeps everyone out of Gallifrey. The planet is in isolation.

    There is no secondary culture of Gallifreyans running around the universe being “normal” and mundane. If there were, it stands to reason that, even through they aren’t Time Lords, the Doctor would welcome, and indeed, seek out and find others of his race.

    The only time we’ve ever seen Gallifreyans on other planets (Time Lords or otherwise) they’ve always been on errands for the Time Lords, hiding from the Time Lords or criminals on the run.

    Why do I say he’s been to the barn before? Because the female says something like, “I told you he’d be here.” Clearly it’s a place he’s gone to when upset before.

    The male has a line indicating that this isn’t the first time he’s broken down crying. In this case, I think 2 and 2 equals 4. This is the Young Doctor’s regular refuge in times of distress – just as it can be implied in Day of the Doctor. He has returned to his “safe place” in his darkest hour.

    If, 1,000 years in the future, climate change has laid waste to what was once fertile land (again, within range of a small upset boy) why is the barn the only building left standing?

    No, this is just piss-poor writing. The Impossible Barn is not on Gallifrey in Day of the Doctor and it is on Gallifrey (can you say, retcon?) in Listen.

    I do think it’s interesting that there’s a so-called “army” in the picture. Can the mean the Chancellory Guards? That hardly seems likely for a species that, according to the Doctor is Trial of a Time Lord has had “…10,000,000 years of absolute power.”

    1. “The only time we’ve ever seen Gallifreyans on other planets was…”

      Until now. We just didn’t have that information before.

      Why should the Time Lords care if non Time-Lords visit other planets? If the Time Lords have isolated themselves because of the danger their time travel technology poses to the universe, there’s no reason why they should deny freedom to those who pose no threat. Do ordinary Gallifreyans have knowledge of time-travel before they go The Academy? (And even if there’s enough evidence in ‘classic Who to show the Time Lords were evil enough to curb other’s freedoms, there might still be cultural exchanges and the like, as seen during the Cold War, for example.) Besides which, it’s only logical than any prohibition on ‘interference’ need only restrict visits to planets still inhabited. A planet where, say, the indigenous farming race had suddenly died out, leaving only a few remnants of their inhabitation, might make an excellent spot for young Gallifreyans keen to indulge in a spot of off-world camping. I’m not saying that’s a particularly likely scenario, it’s just one of many many possibilities that fit the facts just as well as complete isolation. We don’t know which is true because we still just don’t have enough information.

      “Is there a significant difference between Gallifreyans and Time Lords? Not that we’ve ever seen.”

      Not that we’ve ever seen. In other words, we just don’t have that information.

      “Why is the barn the only building left standing?”

      Maybe there never were any other buildings in its immediate vicinity? Maybe the next building is a mile away? (We just don’t have that information.)

      “I told you he’d be here.”

      Okay, agreed he’s been there more than one night. Maybe a week? On a camping trip? Mind you, even if he was there a couple of years, wouldn’t be a problem. We don’t know there weren’t a couple of years of childhood he wasn’t on Gallifrey. We don’t even know how long his childhood was – that boy could have been in his twenties – since we don’t know a lot about how his species age. We just don’t have that information.

      I don’t think adducing poor writing shows the barn is on Gallifrey in Listen, because that would become circular. It’s only poor writing if the barn is on Gallifrey. That needs to be established separately. Maybe it will be in a future episode (it wouldn’t surprise me if we come back here one more time) but then maybe in that future episode we’ll get an explanation for all the inconsistencies that arise if the barn is on Gallifrey. We just don’t have that information.

      Ultimately, we have three hypotheses:

      • The barn is in Day of the Doctor is not on Gallifrey
      • This is the same barn, it’s just a barn, and it cannot relocate in space
      • The young Doctor never left Gallifrey, not even once, during his childhood

      You can have any two of these, but not all three, because that leads to a contradiction. I know which two I think it is, because two of them fit well with the facts that we’ve got. But I guess there’s wiggle room for those who want to make some big assumptions and pick a different two, where there are gaps in what we know. There’s nothing to say those alternative assumptions must be wrong, however incredible.

      Because we just don’t have that information.

  3. I’m still invoking Occam’s Razor on your argument. I still feel you’re making up a whole separate Gallifreyan culture that we’ve not seen evidence exists.

    We’ve never been shown any evidence that any distinct Gallifreyan society besides the “Time Lord Society” exists on Gallifrey. Some Gallifreyans aren’t Time Lords but there’s nothing to say they aren’t part of the Time Lord society, just lower members.

    Those members we’ve seen that aren’t Time Lords are certainly time technology savvy. The actual Time Lords themselves, the graduates of the academy, are the “overseers” of time, but they do not hold exclusivity on time technology on Gallifrey.

    We’ve seen that Time Lord isolationism applies to the entire planet. The Doctor couldn’t take Sarah Jane to Gallifrey and everyone was scandalized when he took Leela. It’s been stated aliens aren’t allowed.

    I’m just going by what we’ve seen. Aliens are not allowed to go to Gallifrey. Gallifreyans must escape to leave Gallifrey. That’s the only evidence we have.

    It rather seems more like the Time Lords are the elite government of the planet. Perhaps the Gallifreyans should hold a referendum for independence?

    Time Lords do seem to police other races’ use and acquisition of time technology, but no one has ever said that Time Lord isolationism is because of their fear of lesser races getting their time technology. My impression is that it stems from a certain pompous righteousness, air of superiority and lack of compassion.

    We also know that the Doctor considers (or considered prior to Day of the Doctor) all of his people extinct. (Now he considers them lost in another universe.) Either he is completely dismissive of this so-called other society of Gallifreyans or they don’t exist.

    Consider the 2009 Star Trek reboot film, in which the planet Vulcan is utterly destroyed along with all its population. The first thing that old Spock does is set about finding a new planet (New Vulcan) and collecting all of the off-world Vulcans and rebuilding their civilization and culture.

    No sign that the Doctor has done anything like that. He’s not even found one single Gallifreyan Boy Scout troop that goes on an annual campout to an off-world barn. Think what it would have meant to him if some of them survived. But no, they were all on Gallifrey, except the Doctor and the Master.

    We may come back to the barn. I’m sorry to say, I suspect we will.

    Perhaps it’s a Gallifreyan penal planet where they keep all the half-human, half-Gallifreyan children?

    Continuity has never been Doctor Who’s strong point and Moffat has clearly shown he’ll honor it when he wants to and disregard it when he thinks he has a clever idea.

  4. I still feel you’re making up a whole separate Gallifreyan culture that we’ve not seen evidence exists.

    Exactly the opposite. I’m not postulating anything about Gallifreyan culture. We have seen so little of it, and there’s too little to go on. What I am especially not doing is extrapolating, for the few scraps we have, the information that it would be absolutely impossible for a young Gallifreyan ever to leave the planet. Conversely, allowing that possibility does not imply everything we have seen of the Time Lords is wrong (i.e. that there’s a contradiction with established continuity), or even that there must be survivors of Gallifrey. It just means that any gaps we thought we had filled – by assuming all of Gallifreyan society is similar to the bits we’ve seen – couldn’t really be filled, and are still gaps after all, because maybe not all of those assumptions could safely be made.

    That’s the only evidence we have.

    The problem with insisting that the entire planet, the macrocosm of the global community on Gallifrey, must reflect exactly what we’ve seen already, is that it leaves no room for any further exploration of life on Gallifrey. If every other segment of society, if its history, if its norms and behaviour mirrors only what has been shown up to now and nothing more (and can be entirely extrapolated by assuming that the few characters, laws and observations we’ve seen are perfectly representative) then that story has been told. Narrative development is over. It’s dead.

    I’m still invoking Occam’s Razor on your argument.

    So which of the three hypotheses are you rejecting?

    1. The barn is in Day of the Doctor is not on Gallifrey
    2. This is the same barn, it’s just a barn, and it cannot relocate in space
    3. The young Doctor never left Gallifrey, not even once, during his childhood

    I completely agree with 1 and 3. I think that’s entirely consistent with what we have seen in Doctor Who.

    #2 is the flawed premise. It can be the same barn and it can be on Gallifrey, but not by relocating in time and/or space. It can be both on and off Gallifrey and be in the same place if you realize this isn’t a real barn, but a fictional construct dreamt up by a writer who isn’t always rock-solid on universal continuity.

    Hypothesis 4 is the one I maintain: #4 This was a writing anomaly. (Error being defined as either (a) a mistake or (b) intentional retroactive continuity.)

    1. If it’s a writing anomaly – if the writer has broken continuity and assumed contradictory things – then does it matter that it’s because one particular hypothesis has been mistakenly included, rather than another? Or, to put it another way, if you do think the writer has made a mistake, how can you tell (without asking the writer) which one of the three he forgot about/ignored? Why pick on #2?

      Of course personally, I think #2 is entirely consistent with what we’ve seen in Doctor Who. With the added benefit that it doesn’t require complete knowledge of Time Lord/Gallifreyan society (which we don’t have) to support it.

  5. I’m going to continue that last one. This is the scenario that I think happened:

    When writing Day of the Doctor, Moffat reasoned this way — the Doctor steals the ultimate weapon from the Time Lords and travels to a remote desolate planet, possibly completely uninhabited with only the remains of the people who were once there. This seems like a good place to hide and carry out his terrible plan.

    Then writing Listen, Moffat realized that the story, such as it was, would be more powerful if they could find a place that had significance for the Doctor – his security blanket as a child – and tie that back into the events in Day of the Doctor.

    People on the Internet were absolutely certain (but I think mistaken) that the barn was on Gallifrey in DotD, so Moffat decided, “what the hell, why not?”

    If it later turns out that explicitly the barn isn’t on Gallifrey, he will have to have an anti-cannon explanation as to why the aggressively isolationist Time Lords let a bunch of kids off world contradicting everything we’ve learned about them.

    1. I guess that’d not be an impossible scenario, if there had been such a problem with the episode.

      contradicting everything we’ve learned about them

      Or, as I’d put it, “complementing what little we’ve learned about them”. 😉

    1. I know where you’re coming from. I too love The Deadly Assassin yet wish there were less of Gallifrey seen in the 20th century episode after The War Games.

      All the same, if we were one of the blind men, we’ve only inspected enough of the elephant to conclude it’s a pillar (or whatever). I don’t mind a suggestion of rope or pipe here or there, but I do hope the current writers don’t fall into the trap of sketching in too much detail, like they did in the 80s.

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