John Barrowman has certainly been busy this week, hinting at a Doctor Who movie that his former castmates are baffled about, and generally throwing caution to the wind when it comes to discussing the show. The actor has now expanded on why the immortal Captain Jack Harkness chose not to assassinate Adolf Hitler when fighting in the Second World War, and it all has to do with the logistics of time travel.
Commenting on the decision in an interview with the Radio Times, Barrowman described why Captain Jack chose to fight in these conflicts:
“One of the things that defines Jack is his need to help humanity rather than himself. He would have gone back to help defeat the wrong and the evil that was going on in the war, just as he would have when facing The Families in the last series of Torchwood [Miracle Day]”
On the Hitler question, Barrowman remarked:
“Jack couldn’t kill Hitler because Hitler was always going to survive up to a point and do the damage that he did. If he’d have killed Hitler, we couldn’t have written those stories that mimicked actual history.”
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To this point, not killing Hitler was a decision made due to the impact it would have had on the chronology of the show. While this is just Barrowman giving an off-the-cuff comment, it makes sense given how Doctor Who has traditionally emphasized the dangers of interfering in established historical events (despite frequently breaking those rules when needed). Also, the death of Hitler would perhaps have prevented the famous scene in the Matt Smith era where they accidentally save the dictator.
Barrowman’s willingness to actually consider these kinds of questions is probably one of the reasons why Captain Jack has been voted the character Doctor Who fans most want to see return in the series. We think it wouldn’t be completely out of the question, either, given that the next season with Jodie Whittaker’s Doctor, currently expected in early 2020, is predicted to be more in keeping with earlier eras of the show.