Throughout the first new season of Doctor Who (season 27 if you keep counting from the old seasons) an ongoing story arc was running involving the words "Bad Wolf". Here I have recorded all the Bad Wolf information I could find. Obviously there are huge spoilers ahead: watch the show first!

Bad Wolf references by episode

All episodes are from season 27

  1. Rose

    At 12:01 the Doctor catches sight of himself in the mirror. He evidently hasn't had much time to check out his newly regenerated body:

    "Ah, could have been worse. Look at the ears!"

    The Doctor's big ears (I don't see it, myself) will come up again.

    At 34:25 the TARDIS is revealed and the Nestene Consciousness reacts with terror at seeing such "superior technology". It panics and launches its invasion of Earth. But, if you watch carefully at 34:30, you can just about make out the Consciousness mouthing the words "Bad Wolf". This is a bit tenuous, though, especially given that it certainly wasn't speaking English.

  2. The End Of The World

    At around 21:05 into the episode we can overhear the Moxx of Balhoon talking to the Face of Boe. All we can hear of the conversation is the following:

    "Indubitably, this is the Bad Wolf scenario. I find the relative laxity of the ongoing multiverse..."

    At this point the camera moves away from the Moxx and his conversation mingles with the other guests' conversations around him, making what he's saying impossible to discern.

  3. The Unquiet Dead

    At 24:50 Gwyneth is reading Rose's thoughts. She reacts with increasing amazement to the fantastic world that Rose appears to come from, until...

    "And you, you've flown so far, further than anyone! The things you've seen. The darkness. The Big Bad Wolf..."

    She backs away, a look of horror on her face. She hurriedly apologises and leaves.

  4. Aliens Of London

    Right after the opening titles at 3:08, we see a boy of about 11 years spray-painting the words "BAD WOLF" in white on the side of the TARDIS. He picks up a bicycle and rides away quickly. None of the main cast are there to see this, but the graffiti remains there for the rest of this episode and most of the next one. This is the first time "Bad Wolf" has appeared in writing and probably the first time it's appeared in English, too - the Nestene Consciousness and the Moxx of Balhoon were most likely both speaking their native languages, and I'm guessing Gwyneth was actually speaking Welsh.

    At 8:43 a female American newsreader appears, reporting from an AMNN newsroom. (AMerican News Network? It is an obvious take-off of CNN...) While her name is never displayed onscreen in either this episode or the next, you can find it if you go to and click on the link for the US News Report. She is called Mal Loup. Mal is French for "bad" and loup is French for "wolf", though the whole phrase isn't particularly good French. In fairy tales, "Big Bad Wolf" is translated as Méchant Loup. Méchant is more like "bad" in the sense of "evil" than mal, which is more like "bad" in the sense of "broken".

    UNIT, which the Doctor mentions, also has a website. The password used to be "buffalo" but it's now "badwolf".

  5. World War Three

    At 38:00 after the major events of this episode are concluded, we see the same boy scrubbing the last of the graffiti off the TARDIS with a cloth and a bucket of water. The Doctor sticks his head around the door and remarks,

    "Good lad. Graffiti that again and I'll 'ave yer. Now. Beat it."

    The boy runs away. How the Doctor tracked down the kid without knowing who he was is unknown, but most likely he caught the act on the TARDIS scanner.

    Mal Loup appears a few more times in this episode.

  6. Dalek

    At 2:25, again right after the opening titles, we see (from below) a helicopter landing. A radio voiceover - obviously the helicopter pilot - gives the chopper's callsign as "Bad Wolf One":

    "Attention all personnel. Bad Wolf One descending. Bad Wolf One descending."

    Onboard the helicopter - we don't see them disembark, but we do see them walking down a corridor immediately afterwards - are Henry van Statten, some of his advisors, several armed soldiers in black, and Adam Mitchell. Note that only van Statten was definitely on the helicopter, it's possible the rest of the people were simply waiting for him. It's possible that this is a really bad Airwolf joke.

    The company van Statten runs in this episode is called Geocomtex and has a website. Click on the Support link and the answer to the first query suggests the user reset the pins on his RH-390 S12 to read

    -... .- -.. .-- --- .-.. ..-.

    which is of course Morse Code for "BADWOLF". Also try clicking on the Products link and you'll see that they make Node Stabilisers in both the Lupus (Wolf) and Nocens (Bad) varieties.

  7. The Long Game

    The journalist Cathica shows the Doctor the wide range of news channels available in the year 200,000. At 5:06 we catch a brief glimpse of a clip from a channel named "Bad Wolf TV" - all we see is a short close-up of the Face Of Boe from "The End Of The World", with the caption "Face of Boe expecting Baby Boemina". Cathica narrates,

    "And over on the Bad Wolf channel, the Face of Boe has just announced he's pregnant."

    From the year 200,000 to the year 5,000,000,000 is still almost five billion years. However, it's stated in "Bad Wolf" (below) that the Face of Boe is the longest-lived creature in the Isop Galaxy which suggests the creature in this episode is indeed the same as the one in "The End Of The World".

    One rather worrying question is, if this is the Face of Boe, where's the rest of him?

    Just a few seconds into the show you can see, very faintly another Bad Wolf TV show which has an image of sand dunes with the caption "Sandstorm chaos on NVA:27". It's almost impossible to make out, though the BBC site has a better image.

  8. Father's Day

    At 3:37 we see a bundle of promotional posters pasted on a wall, just around the corner from where Pete Tyler is due to be run over. To the left are two identical posters which are bright yellow and orange and read "ENERGIZE" across the top, have a large smiley face dominating the middle and the date "20.11.87" across the bottom. The lower of the two posters has "BAD WOLF" in graffiti across the smiley face in faint black - possibly chalk.

    At 5:00, Rose and the Doctor loop back to watch the accident a second time, and we get to watch the exact same shot of the Bad Wolf graffiti again. This is the second time "BAD WOLF" has appeared in graffiti, though here the vandal responsible for the graffiti never appears.

    The events of this episode mostly occur on Saturday 7th November 1987. It's unknown what events of significance occur thirteen days later on Friday 20th; or if anything happened on Friday 13th November 1987, which lies between the two dates. Also unknown is if there is any connection between the sun motif on the"ENERGIZE" poster and Pete Tyler's interest in solar power, which Rose mentions.

  9. The Empty Child

    At 23:24 the Doctor has followed Nancy back to her haunt.

    Nancy: "How'd you follow me here?"
    The Doctor: "I'm good at following, me. Got the nose for it."
    Nancy: "People can't usually follow me if I don't want them to."
    The Doctor: "My nose has special powers."
    Nancy: "Yeah? That why it's, ah-"
    The Doctor: "What?"
    Nancy: "Nothing."
    The Doctor: "What?"
    Nancy: "Nothing! ...Do your ears have special powers too?"
    The Doctor: "What are you trying to say?"
    Nancy: "Goodnight, mister."

    This is the second reference to the Doctor's big ears and the "big facial features" concept connects up with the Red Riding Hood story. It is however a pretty veiled reference as far as Bad Wolf references go...

  10. The Doctor Dances

    All the bombs which the Germans are dropping - and specifically the one about to fall on the Chula medical ship - have "Schlechter Wolf" written on them. This is pretty difficult to see. Your best look at the words is a tiny glimpse at 34:57 when Captain Jack is first seen sitting on top of it. There are a few more tiny tiny glimpses but your best bet is to go to the BBC-maintained site This is the site maintained by Clive in "Rose" - after Clive was killed in that episode, it seems that Mickey has taken over running the site, and after each episode airs it gets updated with some interesting information which Mickey has dug up during his investigation of the Doctor and Rose. Click on "Hitler's Last Secret?" and you're treated to a nice big shot of a Schlechter Wolf bomb.

  11. Boom Town

    This is a very major turning point. Margaret Slitheen has begun a project to build a nuclear power station in central Cardiff. At 17:21 the Doctor realizes what any Welsh speaker would have noticed several minutes ago when the project first appeared onscreen - its name is "Blaidd Drwg" (pronounced "blithe droog") which is Welsh for "Bad Wolf". At 18:00:

    The Doctor: "How'd you think of the name?"
    Margaret Slitheen: "What? 'Blaidd Drwg'? It's Welsh."
    The Doctor: "I know, but how did you think of it?"
    Margaret Slitheen: "Chose it at random, that's all. I don't know, just sounded good. Does it matter?"
    The Doctor: "Blaidd Drwg."
    Rose: "What's it mean?"
    The Doctor: "Bad Wolf."
    Rose: "But... I've heard that before, Bad Wolf, I've heard that lots of times."
    The Doctor: "Everywhere we go. Two words, following us. Bad Wolf."
    Rose: "How can they be following us?"
    The Doctor: (grins) "Nah. Just a coincidence! Like hearing a word on the radio then hearing it all day. Never mind!"

  12. Bad Wolf

    At 17:55 Rodrick is explaining his tactical voting in the deadly game of The Weakest Link to Rose.

    Rodrick: "When it comes to the final, I want to be up against you. So you get disintegrated, and I get a stackload of credits, courtesy of the Bad Wolf Corporation."
    Rose: "What do you mean? Who's Bad Wolf?"
    Rodrick: (puzzled) "They're in charge. They run the GameStation."
    Rose: "Why're they called Bad Wolf?"
    Rodrick: "I dunno! It's just a name! It's like an old Earth nursery rhyme sort of thing. What does it matter?"
    Rose: "I keep hearing those words everywhere we go. Bad Wolf."

    Rose flashes back to some (but not all) of the previous references - Gwyneth's quote from "The Unquiet Dead", the helicopter callsign from "Dalek", the Blaidd Drwg reference in "Boom Town", the graffiti in "Aliens Of London" and "World War Three", and the Bad Wolf channel in "The Long Game".

    Rose: "Different times... different places, like it's written all over the universe!"
    Rodrick: "What're you going on about?"
    Rose: "With the Bad Wolf in charge of this quiz, then... maybe I'm no here by mistake. Someone's been planning this."

    Rose wasn't present onscreen for the references in "Dalek" or "The Long Game", but there's no reason to suspect she didn't notice them anyway.

    At 23:01, the Doctor has escaped from his Big Brother house with Lynda.

    The Doctor: "Who's controlling it? Who's in charge of this satellite now?"
    Lynda: "Hold on."

    Lynda goes off and finds a distant light switch and turns on the illuminations for a big, big sign: "BAD WOLF CORPORATION". At 27:45 the Doctor has met up with Captain Jack again and is talking:

    "This whole Bad Wolf thing's tied up with me. Someone's manipulating my entire life."

    Most of the rest of the episode revolves around the Doctor's attempts to find out who is ACTUALLY controlling Satellite Five and the Bad Wolf Corporation. As it turns out, the entire Bad Wolf Corporation is a tool of the Daleks.

  13. The Parting Of The Ways

    At 19:28:

    The Doctor: "Now you tell me, God-of-all-Daleks, 'cause there's one thing I never worked out. The words 'Bad Wolf', spread across time and space, everywhere. Drawing me in! How'd you manage that?"
    Dalek Emperor: "I did nothing."
    The Doctor: "Oh, come on, there's no secrets now, your worship."
    Dalek Emperor: "They are not part of my design. This is the truth of God."

    At 22:50 Rose and Mickey are trying to figure out what to do in a deserted school playground - and Rose sees the words "BAD WOLF", written in white and yellow chalk across the entire playground in the largest letters yet. She spots two more bits of graffiti on a small wall at the far side of the playground - in fat, blocky, blue letters to the left and curlier yellow to the right. Both are heavily overlaid with newer, black graffiti.

    Rose: "Over here, it's over here as well!"
    Mickey: "That's been there for years! It's just a phrase, it's just words!
    Rose: "I thought it was a warning. Maybe it's the opposite! Maybe it's a message! The same words written down now, and two hundred thousand years in the future! It's a link between me and the Doctor, Bad Wolf here, Bad Wolf there!"
    Mickey: "But if it's a message, what's it saying?"
    Rose: "That I can get back!"

    Rose succeeds in prising open the Time Vortex inside the TARDIS, becomes omnipotent and returns to 200,100 and the Doctor. Then, at 37:30, she finally reveals everything:

    "I am the Bad Wolf. I create myself. I take the words... I scatter them in time and space. A message to lead myself here."

    She raises a hand and the letters of "BAD WOLF" from the corporation sign seen earlier split apart and fly away.

So who or what is the Bad Wolf?

The TARDIS is the Bad Wolf. That is, the Time Vortex inside the TARDIS. While the Time Vortex is possessing Rose, Rose becomes the Bad Wolf too, hence her line, "I am the Bad Wolf".

The Bad Wolf references are messages from Rose to her past self, sent using the near-infinite telepathic power of the TARDIS. They are there to tell Rose, when she is ultimately sent back to her own time by the Doctor in "The Parting Of The Ways", that it IS possible for her to operate the TARDIS and return to the year 200,100 and rescue him. The entire thing is called a causal loop - she receives the message, goes to the future, and sends the message back to herself.

Not that it's significant, but I believe the name "Bad Wolf" is not itself a causal loop. I think the Daleks chose that name for their corporation on their own, not because of telepathic interference by the TARDIS/Rose. I don't know why they chose that name. Certainly there is no reason to suspect that the name was chosen because of any similarity between events actually occurring in the Whoniverse and events in the fairy tales; and certainly Rose does nothing which could be considered particularly bad or wolfish while she wields the power of the Time Vortex.

In reality the name "Bad Wolf" was almost certainly picked by the series' master writer Russell T. Davies, as a phrase likely to cultivate large amounts of fan speculation. It also seems reasonable to guess that the choice of Rose's name is an intentional red herring, if you'll excuse the pun.


To be honest, I found the ultimate solution to the Bad Wolf problem to be extremely disappointing. I'll admit I didn't quite figure out what the answer was, but through no fault of my own. I should have seen the link between the omnipresence of the Bad Wolf phrase and the telepathic power of the TARDIS, but I don't think there was any way anybody could have guessed what the actual truth was... because the truth of the matter was boring (I liked my idea about the Bad Wolf event and racial memory much better) and also didn't make a huge amount of sense. Why send messages all over time and space, when just sending ONE message - the scrawl on the playground for example - would have done the trick much better? If that was the first and only time Rose saw the words "Bad Wolf", then she'd know instantly what it meant, and so would we all. Seeing it everywhere just complicated the matter hugely. And it's the true reason for this which makes me the most irate: it was done simply because it sparked fan discussion. They were stirring speculation for the sake of speculation! Not because there was anything there worth speculating about, because there wasn't!

I resent being manipulated into playing a game I couldn't win.

Open questions

  • Where did the Bad Wolf name come from originally?

  • What is a "Bad Wolf Scenario"? How did it get its name, and what was the Moxx talking about when he called it that? Is he genuinely referring to the presence of the TARDIS on Platform One, or is this another piece of telepathic manipulation?

  • Gwyneth refers to some sort of "darkness". The Dalek, having absorbed some of Rose's DNA, also refers to darkness, shortly before it kills itself. What does this refer to - something that has already appeared which we all missed, or something that is yet to come? Could it have something to do with the Shadow Proclamation that the Doctor invokes when speaking to the Nestene Consciousness in episode 1?

  • What really happened during the Time War?