Very little concrete fact is known about Rassilon's early life, as he is the subject of Time Lord legend. Born and raised on Gallifrey, he was acclaimed as a young man as an engineer and architect. An intelligent and gifted inventor, Rassilon spent much of his early adulthood working on a time scoop, which could transport creatures from any point in time to his present. He continued to work on such minor inventions until he met Omega, a stellar engineer. With Omega, Rassilon began to make serious forays into developing complete time travel. Omega travelled into the heart of the supernova Qqaba to get the power necessary for their invention. Though the mission was a success and the power was attained, Omega vanished and was presumed dead; as a result, all of the subsequent praise was heaped on Rassilon, who gained further acclaim when he was able to create the Eye of Harmony, a black hole. His innovations in technology and genetics helped to found the Time Lord society and bring his people into a golden age of time travel and enhanced life. He was soon elected Lord President and given enormous power on Gallifrey. Opinions on his rule were sharply divided between those who viewed him as a great and benevolent ruler and those who felt he had grown tyrannical and megalomaniacal. At some point, for reasons lost to legend, Rassilon died, or was simply sealed away in the Dark Tower in the Death Zone.
Rassilon was created by Terrance Dicks for the television series Doctor Who. He made his first appearance in the special episode "The Five Doctors". He made his first appearance in comics in Doctor Who Magazine #47, written by Alan Moore and illustrated by Dave Lloyd.
Rassilon, like other members of his species, is capable of undergoing the process of "regeneration," by which catastrophic injury or old age may be repaired by a complete renewal of the whole body. This process results in a completely new body and face, as well as a distinctive personality, though prior memories and knowledge are typically left intact. To date, Rassilon has had two known regenerations. His character has become increasingly sinister over the years, however from his earliest incarnation he has been portrayed as controversial and enigmatic.
Major Story Arcs
The Five Doctors
Entombed in the Dark Tower, Rassilon has become the subject of the Game of Rassilon, a quest to reach the Tower and learn Rassilon's secret, the secret of immortality. His resting place is disturbed by the villainous President Borusa who has displaced four of the Doctor's regenerations from time to help him attain immortality. The true purpose of Rassilon's quest, to weed out Time Lords who threaten their society through their hunger for power, is revealed when Borusa is made immortal by being transformed into a statue by Rassilon. He frees the time-displaced Doctors and returns to his rest, his mind living on in the Matrix alongside the other High Evolutionaries.
The Last Great Time War
Rassilon becomes increasingly involved in manipulating events on Gallifrey from his sepulchre. When the Last Great Time War begins he is resurrected and again raised to the position of Lord President so that he may lead the Time Lords into battle. As the war rages, Rassilon becomes increasingly ruthless and unbalanced in his pursuit of life and victory. On the last day of the War he plots to use the Final Sanction, a measure which would turn all Time Lords into pure thought while simultaneously destroying the rest of the universe. The Doctor uncovers this plot and manages to ensnare the entirety of the War, including Gallifrey and Rassilon, in a time lock, making it appear as though Gallifrey has been destroyed.
The End of Time
Trapped in the time lock, poised forever on the point of the destruction of Gallifrey, Rassilon plots to escape. To this end he sends a signal back in time, implanting a maddening drumbeat signal in the mind of a young Master. When an adult Master seizes control of Earth and turns the human race into copies of himself the signal is amplified, and the Master uses it to begin dragging Rassilon and the rest of Gallifrey back into the universe. He is confronted by the Doctor, who manages to destroy the link and send the Time Lords back into their endless conflict. Rassilon lashes out at the Doctor, but is himself attacked by a vengeful Master, who forces him back into the time lock. His fate is unknown.
Powers and Abilities
Rassilon is a Time Lord, and so possesses all the traits inherent to his race. He has two hearts and other differences that make it so that he does not internally resemble a human although, to date, his exterior has always been that of a regular human. He has an extremely long lifespan naturally, and has potentially uncovered a route to true immortality. He is capable of regeneration: when faced with a mortal wound or other fatal ailment he can regenerate his whole body, and thus restore himself to perfect health. This has a side effect of altering his physical appearance and personality, though he maintains a general continuity of identity. He is capable of electro-direction, the generation of electric bolts from his fingertips for offensive purposes.
Rassilon is extremely intelligent, and accomplished in engineering and invention, as well as showing proficiency in areas such as statecraft and legislation. He possesses psychic abilities that allow him to communicate with other beings, particularly other Time Lords.
Equipment and Weapons
Rassilon is famed for having created or being in possession of dozens of extremely powerful artefacts. He was probably responsible for the creation of the time and space travelling machines known as TARDISes. Other items include the Coronet of Rassilon, the Key of Rassilon, and the Ring of Rassilon. More recently he wielded an incredibly powerful gauntlet of undefined power, which was shown to be capable of vaporising others, and could also be used to undo the effects of an Immortality Gate with a gesture.
Literature and Audio
Rassilon appears occasionally in these expanded universe novels, published between 1991 and 1997. Cat's Cradle: Time's Crucible and Lungbarrow in particular detail parts of his early life and rise to power on Gallifrey, with the latter focusing particularly on his increasingly despotic reign.
Rassilon appears in audio plays Seasons of Fear, Neverland, and Zagreus. These take place in between his apparent death and resurrection, while his mind survives in the Matrix. He is portrayed as manipulative and ruthless in the pursuit of his goals. He is voiced by Don Warrington.
Rassilon was originally created for this television series, making his first appearance in the episode "The Five Doctors", a special that occurs in the interstitial period between the 20th and 21st seasons. He later appears in the two-part series finale "The End of Time" as the primary antagonist. He has been portrayed by Richard Mathews and Timothy Dalton.