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The Best 'Doctor Who' Stories That Took Years to Tell

We're taking a look at the top stories that took multiple episodes, even seasons to tell.

This year the the 10th anniversary of Doctor Who returning to television, after more than a decade off the air. To help celebrate this achievement, one that doesn't happen much because many shows don't last more than three seasons, we thought we'd talk about some of the coolest stories that happened during Doctor Who's nine year run.

However, we're not talking about the best stories, which "Blink" wins until something better comes along. We're talking about stories that took multiple episodes to happen, and stories that happened in the background most of the time. We're talking about stories you didn't even realize were stories until the story was almost finished. Here's a look at our three favorite Doctor Who stories that started off in the background of the show.

The Time War

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In the first episode of the revamped Doctor Who, fans are introduced to a brand new Doctor, played by Christopher Eccelston. In the first episode, he mentions he's the last of his kind (Time Lord) and there was a great war which killed everyone. Throughout the first season, more is said about the war, but it seems to be something that the audience will never see.

As the next few series continue, we learn that the war was against the Daleks, one of the Doctor's arch-nemesis, who he had the option to destroy back during the Tom Baker (Fourth Doctor) era. The Doctor, in order to save the universe, killed not only the Daleks but also all the Time Lords for the greater good, even though quite a few Daleks survived and have appeared on the show, along with a few extra Time Lords, like the Master. This all weaves throughout the next few years of the show, until the Time War takes center stage.

In November 2013, fans finally got to see the last day of the Time War play out in the 50th anniversary special "The Day of the Doctor," which also revealed that there was a regeneration between McGann and Eccelson, "The War Doctor," played by John Hurt. Hurt is alongside David Tennant and Matt Smith for this story, which revolves around the War Doctor's decision to destroy the Daleks and Time Lords, and the ending is a blast. The best part of this story is that not everything about this battle was told. There's lots of room to go back to it and add to the mythos.

The Ballad of River Song

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Yes, the River Song/Doctor story became a huge deal later on, but it's beginnings were almost a throwaway moment in an episode. It eventually spanned over the course of a few seasons in one of the coolest and more interesting background stories in the history of the new series which features The Doctor's wife, River Song. Without getting too into everything River Song, like the fact she's the daughter of the Doctor's companions, Amy Pond and Rory Williams, Song first popped up during the two-part story "Silence in the Library"/"Forest of the Dead," and she appeared to have a connection to the Doctor, even knowing his true name, whispering it to him before she died, without the Doctor ever meeting her.

As the next series moved on, the Doctor and River kept bumping into each other but the Doctor's timeline and River's weren't connecting. The Doctor was moving forward, but running into River during her past. It's easily one of the coolest, conceptually, stories in the series.

Eventually, this story became one of the bigger plots of the season and moved away from the background, but the way this was all crafted worked beautifully. Nothing is revealed all at once, and by the time the River Song's story ends, with her marrying the Doctor, the big bombshell is dropped on Amy Pond, that River is her daughter. It took three series for all that to come together.

Face of Boe

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The Face of Boe story started in 2005, in the second episode of the series, and took about three years to completely tell.The Face of Boe is the oldest creature in the universe when The Doctor and Rose meet him in the 2nd episode of the 1st series, "The End of the World." A few more times, The Doctor and his companion meet the odd creature, including seeing the creature die in "Gridlock," the third episode of the third series.

That's not all though. There's also this time travelling character who cannot die named Jack Harkness, who the Doctor and Rose meet in the 9th episode of the 1st series, "The Empty Child." During this two part story, which is incredibly creepy, Jack meets the group and during the episode "The Parting of Ways," Rose uses the heart of the TARDIS to bring Jack back to life, after he sacrifices himself. However, now Jack is essentially immortal. Every time he dies, he comes back to life. Within the show, he dies thousands upon thousands of times, maybe even more, since he was buried six feet under, at one point, for decades.

How are these two connected? Well, during the episode "Last of the Time Lords," Jack Harkness reveals that when he was a child, he was called "The Face of Boe." Jaws everywhere dropped, but what makes this even better is that the writer, Russell T Davies says he believes it to be true, but it cannot be confirmed through what we've seen on the show. It's one of those moments we want to believe but there's still a small chance it's just coincidence. To me, he's totally Face of Boe though.

That's a few of our favorite long-game stories in the new Doctor Who universe. Make sure to check out the new season when it airs on Saturday, September 19 on BBC America.