Guardian of Time

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The Guardians of Time, also known as the Guardians of the Universe or Guardians of Time and Space, (TV: The Giggle [+]Loading...["The Giggle (TV story)"]) usually simply referred to as Guardians (TV: The Ribos Operation) and also known as the Council of Guardians, (PROSE: Divided Loyalties) or The Accord, (PROSE: An Ordinary Man) were masters of reality, elemental forces embodying several aspects of the universe. (TV: The Ribos Operation)

According to some accounts, the Black and White Guardians were created from the psychic powers of the Matrix Lords by Rassilon, who entrusted them with some of his power. (PROSE: The Legacy of Gallifrey) Indeed, when asked by Donna Noble if there had ever been such a thing as a singular "Guardian of Time", the Tenth Doctor brought up Rassilon. (PROSE: Legends of Camelot) However, other accounts suggested that the Guardians of Time were transcendental beings who predated the Time Lords. (PROSE: The Quantum Archangel) Rassilon was uncertain as to the Guardians' true nature, and used "the Great Old Ones" as a term for creatures lesser than the Guardians, but according to the same account which made this claim, the Sixth Doctor held the Guardians to be "the upper echelons of the Great Old Ones, a pantheon within a pantheon", so that the Guardians were indeed Great Old Ones of a sort. (PROSE: Divided Loyalties, The Quantum Archangel)

According to some accounts, they numbered six in total, and together were known as the Six-Fold God. (PROSE: Divided Loyalties) In other accounts, there were only two, the Black and White Guardians, (PROSE: The Legacy of Gallifrey, Power to the People) who alone claimed to each be responsible for 50% of the universe (AUDIO: The Destroyer of Delights) and to be the two individuals responsible for the balance of the cosmos. (TV: The Ribos Operation) The Celestial Toymaker, a powerful being encountered by the Doctor on many occasions (TV: The Celestial Toymaker, COMIC: Endgame, et al.) once claimed to be a third active Guardian out of the six, the Crystal Guardian of Dream and Fantasy. (PROSE: Divided Loyalties)

After breaking into the Doctor's universe, the Toymaker defeated the Guardians in a game and turned them into voodoo dolls. (TV: The Giggle)


The Guardians were considered to be immortal, but were capable of being destroyed. When Turlough believed the Black Guardian destroyed, the White Guardian explained that they would always exist "until the universe no longer needed them". (TV: Enlightenment) Although they could assume a form for a brief period as an "interface" with the universe, they found it "cramped" existing in five dimensions. (AUDIO: The Destroyer of Delights)

The Sixth Doctor believed that the Guardians were of "the same species" as God. During an encounter with God which was later erased from his and Peri's minds, God claimed that he had originally created a single Guardian, a being of the same nature as Himself whom he sealed inside the universe when He created it, entrusting him with the Key to Time so that he could replace the universe's "heart", the central power-source keeping it running, when the time was right. However, God had not anticipated that upon entering the universe, the Guardian would splinter into two halves, one good White Guardian and one bad Black Guardian, who would waste their energies fighting one another. (PROSE: Power to the People)

According to a subtly different account, the Guardians of Good and Evil were twin projections of the forces of the universes whom Rassilon created from within the Matrix, using the Amplified Panatropic Computation network to boost his mental powers and those of the other dead Time Lords. He gave them the Key to Time to allow them to stop the universe if it fell out of balance. (PROSE: The Legacy of Gallifrey)

The Book of the War's entry on the class of beings which Faction Paradox termed loa in a reference to Earth voodoo outlined that in the Faction's understanding, "the processes of time [were] entities" such that time was "occupied, even guarded" by beings possessing "no tangible presence in the universe" but retaining the ability to "protect, beguile, curse and possess anybody who tries to cross their boundaries". In contrast to the Faction's view, the Great Houses generally preferred to insist that the complex emergent systems within the structure of time were simply non-sentient equations, although the events of the War seemed to prove them wrong. (PROSE: "Loa" [+]Part of The Book of the War, Loading...{"namedep":"Loa","1":"The Book of the War (novel)"})

Other accounts suggested the Guardians were "Great Old Ones", survivors of an earlier race of Time Lords from another universe. These accounts suggested that the Guardians' natural form, like the other Old Ones, was a collective consciousness possessing neither form nor substance and existing between dimensions. (PROSE: Divided Loyalties) Physically, the Council of Guardians existed in Calabi-Yau Space. When together, they were the Six-Fold-God of the Six-Fold-Realm and were able to fashion space and time anyway they wanted. (PROSE: The Quantum Archangel)


The Black Guardian and White Guardian (TV: Enlightenment [+]Loading...["Enlightenment (TV story)"])

The White Guardian of Light and Order was known to and met by the Doctor, alongside his nefarious counterpart the Black Guardian of Darkness and Chaos. (TV: The Ribos Operation [+]Loading...["The Ribos Operation (TV story)"], The Armageddon Factor [+]Loading...["The Armageddon Factor (TV story)"],Enlightenment [+]Loading...["Enlightenment (TV story)"])

While many accounts treated these two as the sole, dual Guardians, (PROSE: Power to the People [+]Loading...["Power to the People (short story)"], etc.) other accounts suggested there were more. The Toymaker, for example, once referred to having played against the Guardians as an example of why "a grand total of two" opponents were not enough to cow him in comparison. (TV: The Giggle [+]Loading...["The Giggle (TV story)"]) In fact, in a different account, the Toymaker was himself depicted as a Guardian, embodying dreams, in an account also mentioning the Red Guardian of Justice and Truth, and the Gold Guardian of Life and Death. (PROSE: Divided Loyalties [+]Loading...["Divided Loyalties (novel)"]) The Azure Guardian was the Rainbow Guardian of the Quantum Realm, (PROSE: Home Fires Burn [+]Loading...["Home Fires Burn (novel)"]) representing Equilibrium and Balance. (PROSE: An Ordinary Man [+]Loading...["An Ordinary Man (novel)"], The Quantum Archangel [+]Loading...["The Quantum Archangel (novel)"]) Yet another source mentioned a Silver Guardian of space and matter. (PROSE: The George Kostinen Mystery [+]Loading...["The George Kostinen Mystery (novel)"]

Finally, within the bounds of a video game played by Izzy Sinclair on the Time-Space Visualiser in the Doctor's TARDIS, a Beige Guardian was seen forcing the first eight incarnations of the Doctor to defeat all their past enemies at once, though there exists no independent existence of this Guardian's existence outside the game. In addition, the Beige Guardian mentioned a Green Guardian. (COMIC: Happy Deathday [+]Loading...["Happy Deathday (comic story)"])


The Seventh Doctor said they were one of the powers of the Omniverse that could do anything, hinting they could pull the arms off spiral galaxies, (PROSE: No Future) and stating that they were capable of altering time on a grand scale; the power they represented could not exist on something as small as a planet. (PROSE: Blood Heat, COMIC: Time & Time Again)

In relation to their omnipotence, specific powers of the Guardians included:

In terms of weaknesses, the Guardians could not reach into closed super-dimensional spaces. Because their being was linked to the Key to Time, if the Key decayed they would become affected, susceptible to energy weapons and age. (AUDIO: The Destroyer of Delights) However, while they were able to use the Key to Time, they were not left with an imprint of it as was the case with others. (PROSE: Power to the People) Additionally, for their seemingly omnipotent power, the Eighth Doctor claimed even they couldn't stop the universe from expanding. (PROSE: Dominion)

The Black Guardian was affected when the TARDIS's defensive systems were fully activated, reshaping into his negative form for unexplained reasons. He was also dispersed by releases of energy such as the breaking of the Key to Time, (TV: The Armageddon Factor) the shorting-out of time differential, (TV: Mawdryn Undead) and contact with Enlightenment. (TV: Enlightenment) Both he and the White Guardian were also sent back to their struggle in the "echoing void" by the Grace. (AUDIO: The Chaos Pool)


Though the Guardians seemed to be above traditional technology, the Fourth Doctor mentioned "Guardian technology" in reference to the first Key to Time, (TV: The Armageddon Factor) which existed at every point in time (PROSE: The Well-Mannered War) but had, according to the Scrolls of Gallifrey, actually been given to the Guardians by Rassilon. (PROSE: The Legacy of Gallifrey) Apart from maintaining the equilibrium of time itself, the Key represented the totality of the Guardians' power, and was also used to erase the memory of the Millennium War and to trap Kronos in his crystal. (PROSE: The Quantum Archangel)

Additionally, the core to the Key to Time was used to track the segments, which were tied to the Guardians who could draw energy from them. Should the segments start to decay, the Guardians could feel the effects of entropy. (AUDIO: The Destroyer of Delights, The Chaos Pool)

The Black Guardian made use of a crystal that represented a contract with his agents. (TV: Mawdryn Undead, PROSE: The Well-Mannered War)

Interactions with other beings[[edit]]

The Black and White Guardians drew strength from their respective elements, becoming stronger or weaker depending on the state of their elements in the universe. The Black Guardian was most powerful in the far future, at the end of the universe where his counterpart could not interfere. (TV: Enlightenment, AUDIO: The Destroyer of Delights, PROSE: The Well-Mannered War) He created wars to justify his existence, while the Guardian of Justice created conflict. The Toymaker explained that he was in this universe because everyone in the multiverse had dreams and that he shaped them lest they become stale. (PROSE: Divided Loyalties)

By one account, like the other Old Ones, the Guardians originated in another universe, and Rassilon himself considered the Old Ones "sub-Guardians". He asked questions of the "Guardians of the Universe," but they refused to answer him, saying the Time Lords were superior to the rest of the universe, but there were creatures far superior to them. This taught him humility and made him respect all life. (PROSE: Divided Loyalties) The Seventh Doctor implied that the Time Lords might have made a deal with them because of this power. (PROSE: No Future) The Eternals knew of the Guardians and respected them greatly, calling them "Enlighteners" as they set up the games that kept the Eternals amused. (TV: Enlightenment)

The Guardians could act together to directly bend reality and alter space and time, as when they retroactively un-did the very existence of Prometheus for violating the Ancient Covenants. They essentially were the universe, and so they would not dare interfere; they could never be seen to act in things or be involved so as to preserve the structure of reality, (PROSE: The Quantum Archangel, TV: Mawdryn Undead) bound not by physical laws but rather codes of conduct as were the Chronovores and possibly other transcendental beings. (PROSE: No Future) They considered the Eternals and Chronovores to be their "own children." (PROSE: The Quantum Archangel)

Since they could not be seen to act directly, and because they were evenly matched and needed someone to give them an edge, the Black and White Guardians operated through agents. However, while the agents had to make their own decisions and agree to help, the Guardians created a web of choices to influence their decisions. (PROSE: The Well-Mannered War) When the White Guardian told the Black Guardian he would never destroy the light, the Black Guardian responded that others would do it for him. When he retorted that the White Guardian's powers were fading, the other responded that others would recharge them for him. (TV: Enlightenment) The Guardians themselves were used as agents by the Grace. (AUDIO: The Judgement of Isskar, The Chaos Pool)

The White Guardian sent the Fourth Doctor and his companions on two quests for the Key to Time, (TV: The Ribos Operation, COMIC: Time & Time Again) while the Black Guardian assigned the Shadow to stop him. (TV: The Armageddon Factor) He later employed another agent, Turlough, (TV: Mawdryn Undead) to kill the Fifth Doctor. Later, with the White Guardian, he sponsored a contest for a group of Eternals to win Enlightenment, transferring his power into Wrack to help her win. (TV: Enlightenment) The Crystal Guardian, however, simply pursued private games. (PROSE: Divided Loyalties)

Other references[[edit]]

Zellin, self-identified immortal god and partner of Rakaya, was aware of the Guardians and their "power struggles". While trapping the Thirteenth Doctor aboard a space platform, Zellin told the Doctor that her dimension was like a board game for him of which "the Toymaker would approve". (TV: Can You Hear Me?)

Behind the scenes[[edit]]

  • The existence of the Celestial Toymaker as a character on Doctor Who pre-dates the introduction of the Guardian mythos. Later continuity retroactively made him a Guardian, despite the original intent being that he was an especially powerful member of the Doctor's own species, and still later continuity making him an Elder God — though the latter idea was reconciled with the earlier lore by the positing of the Guardians as being a subgroup among the Elder Gods. Hecuba (called the Queen of Time) was introduced as his sister, so whether she was a Guardian or how she was connected to them or their role was not specified.
  • Until Divided Loyalties and The Quantum Archangel, reference to the Guardians only consisted of Black and White, and to date, they are the only Guardians to be seen, depending on what the Celestial Toymaker really is.