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The Uncomfortable Question Doctor Who Fans Have About The End Of Time

The BBC's science fiction stalwart Doctor Who has no shortage of either iconic or controversial episodes. Some of the most impactful ones have involved the Doctor's famous ability to cheat death by regenerating as a new version with a different look and personality, or the return of a fan-favorite enemy. The fifth Doctor Who Christmas special, "The End of Time," does both of these things. Not only does the two-part episode feature the Tenth Doctor (David Tennant) regenerating into his next version (Matt Smith), but his old nemesis, the Master (John Simm), also returns. 

"The End of Time" originally aired on December 25, 2009 and January 1, 2010, and immediately entered the annals of Whovian history with its inspired plot that features the return of many fan-favorite Doctor Who characters, from Donna Noble (Catherine Tate) to Rose Tyler (Billie Piper) and Captain Jack Harkness (John Barrowman). What's more, the episode also sees the unexpected comeback of the Doctor's people, the Gallifreyan Time Lords, led by the Lord President (Timothy Dalton). 

Yet, in a story featuring the Doctor's regeneration and a number of welcome surprise appearances, the most outlandish plot point is arguably the Master's scheme to rewrite nearly every human being's DNA, turning them into identical copies of himself — much like Agent Smith (Hugo Weaving) did in the Matrix trilogy. Creepy as the Master's "world full of doppelgängers" trick is, some viewers have pointed out that one particular aspect of his plan may render it even scarier than the show makes it seem. 

Let's take a look at the uncomfortable question Doctor Who fans have about "The End of Time."

The Master's doppelgänger trick raises a grisly question about pregnant women

Here's the thing about the Master's admittedly impressive game plan of turning all humanity into copies of himself: If every single member of the human race turns into a John Simm-shaped and sized guy, what happens to pregnant women and their unborn children?

As fans point out in a recent Reddit thread discussing this particular mystery, this is a pretty interesting, if grim, question. One commenter thinks that the situation might lead to an Alien-style chestbursting scenario in which, "John Simm just pops out of his own stomach." 

Others feel that the unborn baby wouldn't technically exist after the mother became a Master, but if it would, it'd indeed turn into a full-sized Master as well. "Most likely not, because they wouldn't exist once the mother became the Master," a Redditor writes about the baby's turning into a Master. They also point out that, "If the Master were to take over the unborn population as well, that would be very gruesome."

A particularly enterprising commenter even takes the thought experiment to the next level by bringing dead and buried bodies in the equation. "When it's suggested people in their graves are changed, does that mean dead bodies started looking like the Master or does it mean every dead body became a living Master?" 

With all these details in mind, "The End of Time" suddenly seems like a global-scale horror movie instead of a cool, dramatic timey-wimey romp. Then again, some fans think that the show's approach to the problem doesn't involve gore and resurrected corpses. "The fetus is considered part of the woman's body and is simply a part of the Master's body," a Redditor theorizes. "They simply return to normal when the template snaps."