Despite being on television in one form or another for 40 of the past 50 years, Doctor Who’s titular character remains shrouded in secrecy…when you add up what we definitively know about the heroic Time Lord, it amounts to scant little. For some, this adds a layer of enticing mystery, for others, it’s a maddening exercise in deception. Who is the man? What motivates him? What is his name???
We simply don’t know the answers to most of the big questions about The Doctor, and even if the show lasts another 50 years, those secrets may never be revealed. But every time a new series hits the download platforms, there’s at least a chance some brave writer will offer up a Vortex shattering backstory about everybody’s favourite Oncoming Storm.
So as we prepare Series 9, let’s have a look back at 5 of the Biggest Unanswered Questions About Doctor Who…and offer up a few zany theories about the truth behind these queries….
1) WHAT IS THE NATURE OF REGENERATION
First witnessed in the last few moments of The Tenth Planet (and originally referred to as a “renewal”) this “little trick to cheat death” has become a staple of the series. But despite over a dozen on screen depictions, there isn’t a definitive answer as to how regeneration works.
It seems to be a process that the Time Lord Council have a great degree of control over, as evidenced in Time Of The Doctor, when they flat out give the Doctor a whole new set of lives. We also see several occasions during Classic Who when the Council claimed to be in a position to hand out new regeneration cycles like Jelly Babies.
NuWho expanded on the notion of Time Lords holding a measure of control over the process; The Master refuses to regenerate, we see The Doctor handing over regenerative energy to River Song, and before that he was able to use his chopped off hand to manipulate regenerative power to maintain his form.
But what about the other Gallifreyans? We know from The Invasion of Time and Day Of The Doctor that not all Gallifreyans are Time Lords, so can these working class types regenerate as well?
THEORY: Regeneration is a scientific procedure dispensed to a chosen few (The Time Lords) and used as a means to ensure the best and brightest can live long to protect their society. Entrants into the Time Lord Academy who graduate are provided the genetic means to do so.
2) HOW LONG HAS THE DOCTOR BEEN VISITING EARTH?
The first Doctor cites several experiences that pre-date his meeting of Ian and Barbara, including a claim that he provided the inspiration for Hans Christian Anderson the Emperors New clothes, while his subsequent incarnations made claims to have met Leonardo Da Vinci, Chris Columbus, Napoleon and even Nostradamus. Now, granted, maybe these adventures all happened in between televised stories (or among the canon of the Big Finish Audio tales) but it certainly gives one pause.
THEORY: He visited Earth in his youth, several times, before becoming a fully fledged Time Lord and influenced a few key historical figures. When it was time for him to flee Gallifrey he chose Earth, a favourite planet, as his destination.
3) WHAT HAPPENED TO HIS FAMILY?
Susan is the Doctor’s only relative who has been depicted on screen, and she is understood to be his granddaughter. What of her parents? And what of the brother he said he had “once”? And why does he refuse to speak of them? We got a brief glimpse of his parents in Listen, and (apparently) his home in Day of the Doctor and Listen, but his immediate family remains a total mystery.
THEORY: His family were lost in time, and thought dead, because of his actions. This tragedy prompted him to set off on an intergalactic quest to perhaps find some link to them and to battle evil as a means of atoning for that loss. And that leads us to….
4) WHAT IS THE SIGNIFICANCE OF HIS NAME?
The Doctor has admitted that the moniker is a “pledge” or title he adopted to define the guiding principle of actions. He’s used aliases, nicknames and had titles foisted on him by others but we’ve never heard or seen his actual name. During The Name Of The Doctor, he claims his true name isn’t important, yet others who have tried to uncover it have recoiled at its power, while according to Dorium Maldovar his name was so important it was the answer to “first question of the universe”
THEORY: His real name is important because it is a code word or means to unlock dangerous universal elements such as dark matter. It was his experimentation with these forces that led to his family’s death and his exile from Gallifrey. He ensured the means of repeating this experiment could only be achieved by speaking his name, which he erased from history.
5) WHAT IS THE REAL RELATIONSHIP BETWEEN THE MASTER AND THE DOCTOR? At various points the two enemies have admitted a previous relationship, even a close friendship that at the very least involved spending time together on the Master’s “family estates” when they were young. When the character was first introduced in 1972, it was intended that the Master would reveal himself to be The Doctor’s brother, but Roger Delgado’s untimely death caused that storyline to be dropped. We know they both faced the untempered schism when they were children and later attended the Academy together, but not much else.
THEORY: The Master was a collaborator in the Doctor’s experiments that went wrong, the failure of which was the final act which drove the Master criminally insane. Following the Doctor’s erasure of his own name, The Master also dropped his identity to distance himself from the failed experiment but retain a connection to the Doctor.
What do you think of our theories? Got any of your own? Please let us know in the comments or send us an entire post! We’d love to feature it here!