The Doctor

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Name: The Doctor
John Smith (alias)
Theta Sigma (while in the Academy)
∂³Σx² (potentially, in Old High Gallifreyan)
Occupation: Timelord
Relationships: Susan Foreman/Arkytior (granddaughter), Jenny (clone-daughter), half-human Tenth Doctor (regeneration half-clone half-Donna), friendships etc. with various companions, close relationship with The TARDIS
Fandom: Doctor Who
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the first five doctors on the cover of Time Log #6 by Gail Bennett (1982)

The Doctor is an alien - a Time Lord from the planet Gallifrey - who travels through time and space in their time and space machine, the TARDIS, frequently with one or more companions.

Like all Time Lords, they are very long-lived and have the power to regenerate themselves into different incarnations (with a different exterior and personality) when mortally injured.

The Doctor usually carries their "Sonic Screwdriver" with them, an item capable of doing many, many things that, like the TARDIS, has become iconic for the series (and beyond). In canon it is frequently used as a lockpick or some kind of fix-it device. In fanfiction it has naturally repeatedly been used as a sex-toy.

Although not human, The Doctor repeatedly shows that they care about humanity and Earth, and likes saving Earth. Because of their immense power and actions they've taken in the course of their 900+ years of life, some of their incarnations show a certain type of emotional remoteness, others, angst.


In canon, The Doctor is shown to have several genetically related relatives during various incarnations, including their granddaughter Susan (First Doctor era), their clone-daughter Jenny (Tenth Doctor era), their half-human semi-clone (Tenth Doctor era), and several Gallifreyan relatives (various eras).

They form friendships with their traveling companions (and with some humans and aliens they encounter but who do not travel with them), although they are not good at saying goodbye and sometimes abandon their companions and friendships in ways that seem cruel to them. This often leads to fix-it fics in fandom.

Many classic fans have typically considered The Doctor to be asexual -- though some have always shipped the Doctor with certain companions or other characters. For example, pairing The Doctor/The Master in various incarnations has been popular since the 1980s due to the great enemyslash potential.

The New Who reboot of the series in 2005 started including more shippy vibes in canon, and brought an influx of new, pairing-focused fans into the fandom, who started writing a lot of het and slash fic pairing him with the new era companions.

Some fans also pair him with the TARDIS herself, especially in the wake of the season six episode The Doctor's Wife -- written by Neil Gaiman of Sandman fame -- which personifies the TARDIS temporarily in human form.


General Fandom

To prevent having to write it out in full every time, many of The Doctor's incarnations will be referred to simply via their number, such as Nine for the Ninth Doctor, or Twelve for the Twelfth.

AU's featuring The Doctor often use their alias in the show, John Smith and similiar variations, as their real name. Versions for incarnations who are women, such as Thirteen, may use other short first names starting with 'J', like Jess or Jolie.

First Doctor

William Hartnell played the first Doctor from 1963 to 1966.

Succinct First Doctor Canon

Curmudgeonly doctor.

First Doctor Fandom

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Second Doctor

Patrick Troughton played the second Doctor from 1966 to 1969.

Succinct Second Doctor Canon

Has a bowtie and a recorder.

Second Doctor Fandom

Usually paired with Jamie McCrimmon (Doctor/Jamie McCrimmon).

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Third Doctor

Jon Pertwee played the third Doctor from 1970 to 1974.

Succinct Third Doctor Canon

Introduced Sarah Jane Smith as a companion. Was stuck on Earth for his entire run. Also introduced The Master.

Third Doctor Fandom

The Third Doctor is paired with his companion Jo Grant (Doctor/Jo Grant), the Brigadier, his liaison with UNIT, but most popularly with The Master (Three/Master).

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Fourth Doctor

Tom Baker played the fourth Doctor from 1974 to 1981. The Fourth Doctor was the incarnation with The Scarf (which led to much fannish knitting). He probably inspired the quote "You never forget your first Doctor."[2] The Society of Time Lords released "The Fourth Incarnation of Doctor Who" zine in his honor.

Succinct Fourth Doctor Canon

Loved jelly babies. The Scarf.

Fourth Doctor Fandom

Paired with Romana (Doctor/Romana) or with Sarah Jane Smith (Doctor/Sarah Jane Smith).

In wider fandom, he's generally conceived to be one of the most well received, being many people's favourite Doctor.

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Fifth Doctor

Peter Davison played the fifth Doctor from 1981 to 1984.

Succinct Fifth Doctor Canon

Cricket-player's outfit. Fond of wearing a celery stalk as a bouttonière.

Fifth Doctor Fandom

Often paired with any of his companions, usually Nyssa of Traken, Turlough (Doctor/Turlough), Peri or Tegan.

The Fifth Doctor was probably the sweetest incarnation of all the Doctors. But the Universe tended to pay that back with cruelty.[3]

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Sixth Doctor

Colin Baker played the sixth Doctor from 1984 to 1986.

Succinct Sixth Doctor Canon

Terrible fashion sense. The Gallifreyan Buccaneer.

Sixth Doctor Fandom

Six is often viewed by fans to have improved characterization through his Big Finish stories. He is occasionally paired with his companion Peri.

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Seventh Doctor

Icon by KerrAvonsen (2005)

Sylvester McCoy played the seventh Doctor from 1987 to 1989.

Succinct Seventh Doctor Canon

Carried an umbrella with a question-mark handle.

Seventh Doctor Fandom

He is occasionally paired with his companion Ace.

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Eighth Doctor

Eighth Doctor on the cover of The Celestial Toyroom #228

Paul McGann played the eighth doctor Doctor in a TV movie, aired in May of 1996. After that, Big Finish and various novels took the job of shaping his character.

Succinct Eighth Doctor Canon

The Eighth Doctor was the first to kiss his companion in canon, and may well have thereby launched a thousand ships.

The Eighth Doctor has been active in Big Finish audio stories since 2001, traveling with a number of companions. Before the new series, the Eighth Doctor was not considered to be part of the Classic Who canon.

Eighth Doctor Fandom

The fandom thinks that Paul McGann never ages.

Online fandom was fragmented. There was The Paul McGann Estrogen Brigade, and a small LiveJournal fandom bloomed around the Eighth Doctor. Many authors have personal sites for their fanworks but fanfic also appeared on DW archives including Panatropic.

Doctor/Master, Eighth Doctor/companions (Fitz, Charley), were popular ships. Fans continue to ship Eight/Charley, Eight/Lucie, Eight/Fitz and Eight/Rose among others.

Eight's tendancy to frequently experience amnesia has become somewhat of a meme in the fandom.

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Ninth Doctor

Icon by morgandawn

Christopher Eccleston played the ninth Doctor in 2005. His companions were Rose Tyler and more briefly Jack Harkness and Mickey Smith.

Succinct Ninth Doctor Canon

The angsty Doctor[4]. Black leather jacket.

Ninth Doctor Fandom

'Don't skip Nine' - or other phrases to that affect - were quite popular at one time, emphasising that even though Ten was a popular favourite, that newcomers to the fandom should still watch Series 1.

I love Nine because, at his core, he is the Doctor. He is a healer. He is angry and traumatized and carrying the weight of the universe but most of all, his heart, damaged and broken and so full of love for the universe and humanity and one girl in particular that he welcomed the time vortex into himself without a single regret. He regenerated not with tragedy or regret, but with pride and optimism.[5]

In shippy fanworks, Nine is usually paired with Rose Tyler (Doctor/Rose) or Jack Harkness (Doctor/Jack Harkness) or sometimes the three of them in a triad (Doctor/Jack/Rose).

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Tenth Doctor

Icon by Zarina (2009)

David Tennant played the tenth Doctor from 2005 to 2010. In chronological order, his companions were Rose Tyler, Martha Jones, and Donna Noble.

But it’s not all doom, gloom, and approaching storm around Ten’s TARDIS. Far from it. Sure, he’s a little emo –- people just keep dying around him/leaving him! It’s enough to give a Time Lord a complex! – but regardless, Ten is clearly having one hell of a riotous good time. Whether it’s facing down volcanic aliens with a water pistol, smelling the applegrass of New Earth, opening the TARDIS with a fingersnap, or matching words with Will Shakespeare, this Doctor is appreciating every second. (Tenth Doctor Idol Reflection essay)[6]

Succinct Tenth Doctor Canon

The manic Doctor. Also, according to some, "Emo kid."[7] Skinny, wild hair, often wears a close-cut brown suit (or a blue one), and almost always Converse-type sneakers.

Saw the introduction of River Song in the widely admired episodes Silence in the Library and Forest of the Dead. Also introduced the Metacrisis Doctor, originally dubbed Blue!Doctor because of the colour of his suit. Now more commonly referred to as Tentoo.

Tenth Doctor Fandom

Many fans were dissatisfied with the season 4 finale, leading to many fix-it fics.

The most popular pairing by far is Doctor/Rose. Other pairings include Doctor/Master, Doctor/Jack, Doctor/River Song, and Doctor/Donna Noble.

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Eleventh Doctor

Icon by jsfunction (2019)

Matt Smith played the Eleventh Doctor from January 2010 to December 2013. He had three companions, first Amy Pond and Rory Williams, then Clara Oswin Oswald. River Song played a major role, but for the most part did not travel with the Doctor.

Succinct Eleventh Doctor Canon

(The even more manic Doctor?) Bow tie. Likes eating fish fingers dipped in custard.

Eleventh Doctor Fandom

Often nicknamed "Eleventy" or "Hipster Doctor."

Finally, after saving the world in a dead man's clothes, he presented himself, properly, as the Eleventh Doctor, in all his slightly hipster, flopsy haired, long limbed, silly, young, old goofiness. // And you know what? // I LOVED HIM.[8]

Popular ships for the Eleventh Doctor include all his companions in various permutations, though Doctor/River is by far the most popular on the AO3.[9] A Teaspoon and an Open Mind has only character categories and nothing to mark pairings, so gen and het fanfic featuring the Doctor and Amy appear to be the most popular.[10] did not add a pairing feature until 2013, so pairing numbers are very low and not necessarily representative; Doctor-and-River stories barely beat out Doctor-and-Amy stories for first place, but as a pairing, Doctor/Clara wins.[11]

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Twelfth Doctor

Peter Capaldi plays the Twelfth Doctor, starting as a cameo in the episode "The Day of the Doctor" on the 14th of November 2013 and ending on December 25th, 2017. His main companion is Clara Oswald, who is hesitant to continue traveling with him when he first regenerates. He later travels with Bill Potts and Nardole.

Succinct Twelfth Doctor Canon

Attack eyebrows. Sonic sunglasses. Four and a half billion years. Last night on Darillium. "Be kind."

Twelfth Doctor Fandom

Generally accepted as the "angry doctor" or the "rebel time lord". Known for Capaldi's tour-de-force turn in the puzzle-box episode Heaven Sent.

So what was it about Twelve that made me like him better than the Doctor's other incarnations? I think his alienness is what I found most intriguing, and because even though he can be just as silly and childish as the other Doctors, he is also very clearly an ancient and terrifying alien creature that does not think the way that humans do. Also, I despite popular belief, I think he's also the most human of the Doctors, and the most emotional one. He is a Doctor who is finally stopping to consider what he had done to people like Adam, Harriet Jones, Martha, Donna and River, and is questioning whether his own existence really is a good thing in the world.[14]

Most common pairings are Doctor/Clara Oswald, Doctor/River Song and Doctor/Missy.

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Thirteenth Doctor

Just a Traveler by firefly-wp (2018)

The Thirteenth Doctor is played by Jodie Whittaker. Whittaker appeared for the first time as the Thirteenth Doctor at the end of the 2017 Christmas special, "Twice Upon a Time", and became the main Doctor in the show's eleventh series.

Succinct Thirteenth Doctor Canon

Regenerated as female.

Thirteenth Doctor Fandom

The Thirteenth Doctor brought a new wave of femslash to Doctor Who, which had previously been quite rare in the fandom. Postive comments from Alex Kingston (River Song) and Billie Piper (Rose Tyler) about the recent regeneration made Thirteen/River and Thirteen/Rose popular before season 11 began. Many of these fics centered around their initial reaction to meeting Thirteen. Following the trend of pairing the Doctor with one of their companions, Thirteen/Yaz was quick to become the preferred couple for Thirteen while season 11 aired.

The first female Doctor has resulted in expanded use of pronouns within DW fandom. 13 uses she/her, whereas all her previous incarnations used he/him pronouns. This can result in pronouns switching within a fic, when the Doctor refers to or thinks of her former lives, and in some cases pronouns can swap mid-sentence. When referring to all the Doctors, they/them pronouns are commonly used.

Anyway I love how just she just loves life. This is a Doctor who (at least in Series 11) had made peace with her past and was just an adventurer, getting excited to go on adventures again! Of course with revelations later down the line we have seen more of a darker, more secretive side to her but even then she's never lost the sense of hope and optimism that the Doctor STANDS for. She's still ever the optimist, she always wants the best for humanity. And I think The Thirteenth Doctor is the Doctor we need *right now* she's the ray of light and hope in dark times...[15]

Most commonly paired with Yasmin Khan. Other popular pairings include Doctor/River and Thirteen/Master.

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Fourteenth Doctor

The Fourteenth Doctor was once again played by David Tennant, for three specials in 2023.

Succinct Fourteenth Doctor Canon

Fourteen reunites with former companion Donna Noble, and faces off against the Toymaker, a returning antagonist from the First Doctor's era. Fourteen bi-generates creating Fifteen. Fourteen retires to live with Donna and her family, while Fifteen continues on to have new adventures as the Doctor.

Fourteenth Doctor Fandom

Fandom for Fourteen is often highly attached to Ten, often comparing and contrasting the two and any changes that have occurred over the intervening years. There was renewed focus on Donna & the Doctor, because their relationship was central to the specials.

Fourteen is so full of love and he is not afraid to show it, he is rushing to love, to express it before Donna is gone from his life again. And he is trying to make up for all those years as Ten when he couldn’t say these things to Donna, and she never knew just how much she meant to him.[16]

It also sparked a small amount of selfcest shipping of Fourteen/Fifteen.

Archives and Links

Fifteenth Doctor

The Fifteenth Doctor is played by Ncuti Gatwa.

Succinct Fifteenth Doctor Canon

Fifteenth Doctor Fandom

Popularly paired with Rogue, his canonical love interest in one episode.

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Other Versions of The Doctor

'This came to me in a dream.' (May 2023) by swordlesbi - Meme about the high number of Doctors based on the 'yes, there are 64 genders' meme, featuring all 15 numbered Doctors, The War Doctor, Martin!Doctor, Shalka!Doctor, the Morbius!Doctors, the Curse of Fatal Death Doctors, Dr Hooves, and the Timeless Children
  • Rowan Atkinson doctor and Hugh Grant doctor and Joanna Lumley doctor from "Curse of the Fatal Death" short charity special parody.
  • The War Doctor portrayed by John Hurt, retroactively created by showrunner Steven Moffat for productions celebrating the show's 50th anniversary, first appearing in "The Name of the Doctor" (2013).
  • Shalka Doctor voiced by Richard E. Grant
  • The Martin!Doctor portrayed by Jo Martin, is an unknown iteration of the Doctor, introduced by Chris Chibnall during Series 12. She first appeared in Fugitive of the Judoon (2020) and is the first POC to play the Doctor.


  1. ^ "Fantasy Empire"?
  2. ^ "You never forget your first Doctor. Who was your first Doctor?" in "Reddit". Retrieved September 18, 2021.
  3. ^ "Sept 23, 2017 Tumblr post". Archived from the original on 2024-07-15.
  4. ^ "Despite his huge, infectious grin, and often manic energy, Nine was someone scarred and ravaged from what had been done to him in the Time War… and what he'd been forced to do – destroying not only the Daleks, but also his own people, the Time Lords. Darkness, despair and self-loathing were never very far beneath the surface of his smile… and even as we watched him beguiled by Rose, often times Nine seemed to hate himself far more than it was possible for him to love anyone." From his reach is global, his tower secure; his cause is noble, his power is pure... essay by kalichan at Idol Reflection, 11 Aug 2009. (Accessed 30 Jan 2012)
  5. ^ "You have to understand that the reason why Nine is my favorite doctor, Dec 11, 2023 Tumblr post". Archived from the original on 2024-07-15.
  6. ^ his reach is global, his tower secure; his cause is noble, his power is pure... essay on the Tenth Doctor by kalichan at Idol Reflection, 11 Aug 2009. (Accessed 30 Jan 2012)
  7. ^ See "The Doctor Meets Ceiling Cat" commentfic/coda at the end of the Dreamwidth version of Trying to Communicate by Sam Starbuck (Accessed 29 Jan 2012)
  8. ^ Things I'm Obsessed With: Doctor Who (Still), Archived version, accessed January 30, 2012
  9. ^ As of November 29, AO3 has 1945 works for Eleventh Doctor/River Song, compared to 297 for Eleventh Doctor/Amy Pond, 166 for Eleventh Doctor/Clara Oswin Oswald, 139 for Eleventh Doctor/Amy Pond/Rory Williams, and 119 for Eleventh Doctor/Rory Williams.
  10. ^ As of 29 November 2013, there are an estimated 1065 Doctor and Amy stories, 810 Doctor and River stories, 765 Doctor and Rory stories, and only 120 Doctor and Clara stories.
  11. ^ As of 29 November, there were 3.2K Doctor and River stories and 84 Doctor/River, 3.1K Doctor and Amy stories and 11 Doctor/Amy, 1.6K Doctor and Clara stories and 125 Doctor/Clara, 907 Doctor and Rory stories and 0 Doctor/Rory.
  12. ^ Laura's Vids, accessed January 30, 2012
  13. ^ Your Life (extempore) on YouTube, accessed January 30, 2012
  14. ^ "The unnecessarily long post of Twelfth Doctor fic recs (with bonus fangirling)". Archived from the original on 2024-07-15.
  15. ^ Who else genuinely likes the Thirteenth Doctor?, posted to r/doctorwho Dec 12, 2021
  16. ^ "People have said many times how Fourteenth Doctor is so much more open with feelings and emotions than Ten". Archived from the original on 2024-07-15.