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Doctor Who: Revolution of the Daleks ending explained

What was going on with that TARDIS? Where did the Daleks go, and what happened to Graham and Ryan? We explain all…

Mandip Gill Yaz
Published: Friday, 1st January 2021 at 8:00 pm

After a long wait and plenty of build up, Doctor Who festive special Revolution of the Daleks has finally come and gone, with the 70-minute episode telling a tale full of heroics, sad farewells and Daleks – in two flavours!


Still, with so much going on in the episode you’d be forgiven for getting a little confused about exactly what happened in the grand conclusion of the episode. But that’s where we come in.

Below, we’ve summed up the fates of all the major characters from the episode, including the Daleks, explaining exactly how the Doctor saved the day and what happened to departing companions Tosin Cole and Bradley Walsh.

Check out our breakdown below, but beware – obviously, this ending explained article contains plenty of spoilers.

The defeat of the Daleks

John Barrowman
Picture Shows: Dalek, Captain Jack Harkness (JOHN BARROWMAN) - (C) BBC - Photographer: James Pardon

In the episode, human-constructed and cloned Daleks rise up to take over the Earth, raining down destruction on those below, and the Doctor can only think of one way to stop them – calling in a bigger fish, aka the Death Squad Daleks, who take it upon themselves to cleanse the “impure” black Daleks (impure because they're infected with human DNA, which they had fed on during gestation).

Job done, the Doctor is now left with the issue of dealing with these new, even tougher Daleks – so in a two-pronged assault they take them out, with one team heading to the Dalek ship, planting explosives and blowing it up before escaping using Jack’s (John Barrowman) vortex manipulator.

That just leaves the remaining Death Squad Daleks, who the Doctor goads into chasing her into the TARDIS… but it turns out it’s not the TARDIS we’re used to. Instead, it’s the spare TARDIS stolen from Gallifrey introduced in the series 12 finale (which was used to take Yaz, Graham and Ryan home) disguised in the familiar police box form.

“That’s not my TARDIS – I had a spare one lying around,” the Doctor tells the Daleks via hologram, before revealing that they’ve fallen into a trap.

“I’ve programmed it to fold in on itself, and send itself to the heart of the Void – which will, of course, break it apart and destroy you in the process.

“Thanks for helping today – won’t be seeing you later,” she concludes.

And with one (or rather, two strokes) Earth is a Dalek-free zone once more. Tidy.

Jack Robertson

Picture Shows: Robertson (CHRIS NOTH) - (C) BBC - Photographer: Ben Blackall BBC

Following on from this, the Doctor and co have to decide what to do with wannabe Dalek ally Jack Robertson (Chris Noth) – but after claiming he was merely acting as a “decoy” as he sold out the human race, the Doctor decides to let him go.

Later, Robertson is being hailed as “the saviour of humanity” after apparently standing up to the Daleks, with talk of an “honorary knighthood” and his political aspirations revived.

“I did what any man… person… human person…would do in those circumstances,” he tells BBC newsreader Emily Maitlis, teasing “I can’t really answer to that” when asked if he might now run again for US President.

Overall, it seems likely we haven’t seen the last of Jack Robertson – and next time, he might be an even bigger threat to the Doctor…

Captain Jack Harkness

John Barrowman

The other big Jack of the episode, meanwhile, leaves the episode off-camera, saying farewell to the Doctor over the phone in one of the final scenes.

Still, Jack’s staying on Earth – and possibly getting back to his Torchwood roots – so it’s possible this won’t be the last we see of John Barrowman in this era of Doctor Who.

“Sorry, lost track of time!” he says to the Doctor. “Gwen Cooper sends her love by the way – says she took out a Dalek with a moped and her son’s boxing gloves. Ho-hooo!

“Anyway, I’m gonna stick around on Earth and catch up with her. I’ll call you.”

“Send my love to Gwen!” the Doctor replies. “Ok, bye.”

Whether this actually does hint at a return for Eve Myles’ Torchwood character Gwen and Torchwood in general remains to be seen (as we’ve said elsewhere, it could just be an Easter Egg), but we’re intrigued to see what’s next for Captain Jack anyway.

The Doctor might need some new friends in the TARDIS soon, after all.

Why Ryan and Graham left Doctor Who

Doctor Who
Bradley Walsh and Tosin Cole as Graham and Ryan in Doctor Who (BBC)

Yes, after plenty of build-up in series 12, towards the end of the episode Tosin Cole’s Ryan revealed that he no longer wanted to travel through space and time.

Despite the Doctor’s offer to take them on more travels (including a restaurant where everything is a meringue, down to the waiters and chairs), Ryan opted to remain on Earth instead, noting that he felt he could do more at home while also returning to his old life.

“I think I’m gonna stay here,” Ryan said. “Me mates need me. And I know this sounds stupid, but I feel like my planet needs me. You gotta fight for it, right?

“Look, Doctor – before I met you, I didn’t know what I wanted to do with my life. And now I know.”

And following his grandson’s lead, Graham decided to leave too – despite his second lease of life in the TARDIS.

“Well, there’s lots to explore – so much more to see!” he says.

Bradley Walsh, Mandip Gill and Tosin Cole in Doctor Who: Revolution of the Daleks
Picture Shows: Graham O'Brien (BRADLEY WALSH), Yasmin Khan (MANDIP GILL), Ryan Sinclair (TOSIN COLE) - (C) BBC Studios - Photographer: James Pardon BBC

“But, um… I don’t want to miss out on you, you know? And being here without you ain’t gonna be the same. I’ll always be looking around then to say stuff to you, you know?

“See, Ryan, you’re my family. And I remember, Doc, what you said – that we wouldn’t come back the same people, and you’re right. Just not in the way I thought.

“I’m ready – I wanna be at home with my grandson.”

With a final group hug – and the handover of some psychic paper to Graham and Ryan – the duo left, with the episode’s final scene showing them back in the Sheffield hills as Ryan tried to master riding a bike (in a mirror of both characters’ first appearances in 2018).

While both seemed keen to keep battling aliens – a Troll invasion in Finland and gravel monsters in Korea were both on their to-do list – first, they shared a final moment together as they reflected on their time in the series.

Leading to one last cameo…

Did Grace return to Doctor Who?

Yes, Sharon D Clarke’s recurring character (the wife of Graham and grandmother to Ryan) reappeared to offer tacit support for her boys, appearing in the sunlight as Ryan prepared for one last go on his bike.

It’s unclear whether Clarke shot new material for the cameo or whether the production team just used old footage, but it was a fitting way to cap off the character’s afterlife appearances, having previously featured as a similar hallucination or memory in episodes like Arachnids in the UK, It Takes You Away and Can You Hear Me?.

Was Grace really watching over Graham and Ryan from beyond? Was she some sort of mirage, or just a representation of a shared memory both men had from their last time up on this hill? The episode leaves things slightly ambiguous, but maybe it was some combination of it all.

The Doctor and Yaz

Of course, Graham and Ryan’s departure leaves two members of the TARDIS team still standing – Mandip Gill’s Yaz and Jodie Whittaker’s Doctor, with Yaz eagerly accepting the Doctor’s offer to carry on. 

“I’m not ready to let you go yet,” Yaz tells the Doctor, and the Doctor is clearly excited to have at least one friend sticking around – but the new dynamic duo are still left on a sombre note as Graham and Ryan leave and the Doctor considers a desperate move to get them back.

“I could always use the TARDIS to go back. Arrive an hour after you guys. Change the timeline! Then we’d have more time together,” the Doctor suggested – but Yaz calmly shut her down.

“It’s OK to be sad,” she tells her as they stand together in the TARDIS.

Throughout the episode, Yaz’s desperation to find her way back to the Doctor puts an interesting spin on the pair’s relationship that we’re sure will continue in the now-filming series 13 – according to Jodie Whittaker, it can be described as “the new adventures of the Doctor and Yaz” – but for now, it’s a sad moment to leave the pair on.

Ryan and Graham are gone, and it might be a while before the Doctor and Yaz get over it. Happy Who Year indeed.


Doctor Who will return to BBC One. Want something else to watch? Check out our full TV Guide.


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