While talking to my daughter about the Doctor Series, in general, I made an observation that made me wonder if anyone noticed that the Doctors of the Doctor Who series, past and present, made a bold identification of themselves as the Doctor who is an alien.

I do know that David Tenant version, he made a clearer picture of how old he is and all the extra meaning needed to identify himself as a timelord.

  • 9
    Not exactly sure what you're asking here.
    – Tablemaker
    Commented Apr 7, 2013 at 6:16
  • 4
    Do you mean, did the various incarnations of the Doctor make it clear to humans that they weren't human? I believe they certainly never tried to hide it.
    – NiceOrc
    Commented Apr 7, 2013 at 22:42

2 Answers 2


Doctor Who refers to how characters identify the David Tenant character and past actors who have played the time lord.

Doctor is the title that the time lord uses to identify himself, and this started way back in the first Doctor Who film back in 1965 called Dr. Who and the Daleks. In the beginning, the Doctor reference was regarded as a Ph.D. title since the time traveler was an inventor who invented a time machine, and went on an adventure with his family. In the film his last name was actually "Who".

The film versions are slightly different from the original 1963 television shows that introduced the time lord. There he is referred to as "The Doctor".

It's only later that the BBC combined the two to create the name "Doctor Who" as the main character, rather than a show title.

The only other time lord to be featured in the series is the The Master. So they are not referred to as "Doctors". Only the main character is Doctor Who.

To refer to multiple time lords you would call them Gallifreyans, since they come from Gallifrey.

The Doctor does have a real name, but it's never been revealed in the show. That's part of the mystery of the character.

  • 1
    Thanks Matthew and Origin for the reply, it makes sense. I have suspected many attempted to obtain his true name hence the mystery of it. I can only imagine his name is a long one as one of his Time-lord partner said "Romanavonlanlonder..." or something sounding like that. :) Commented Apr 8, 2013 at 12:10
  • 1
    "The only other time lord to be featured in the series is the The Master." False, other Time Lords were featured before the Master was even a concept in the writers' minds.
    – Pharap
    Commented May 28, 2014 at 9:10
  • @user1924393 Romanadvoratrelundar
    – Pharap
    Commented May 28, 2014 at 9:12
  • 2
    This answer is wrong in several details. The question clearly is not asking about the film, as in the film "Dr. Who" is not an alien. In the television series, the character is never actually referred to as "Doctor Who", although the credits do use the name for the first few seasons (I believe they stopped some time around season 8 or 9, if memory serves), after which the credit is changed to "The Doctor". And as several have pointed out, there were numerous other time lords included in the show (the earliest was in the serial "The War Games", which was the season 7 finale).
    – Jules
    Commented May 28, 2014 at 17:24
  • 3
    Dr. Who and the Daleks is non-canonical, and should not be used for answering questions about the show. The show actually began in 1963 with An Unearthly Child. It did not originate with that film. Pretty much everything in @thinkingmedia answer is wrong.
    – Tim
    Commented Nov 7, 2016 at 0:58

What is the Doctor's real name? No-one knows, and it would spoil the series if we did know. This is what the title of the show implies. Doctor "Who"? Some things need to stay mysterious for the show to work well. When the Doctor meets someone, he always introduces himself as "the Doctor" (note the capital "D"). He has sometimes used aliases, such as "John Smith", but it is clear that these aliases are not his real name. Even his companions don't know his real name. Possibly only River Song knows his real name.

The Doctor doesn't generally go around announcing that he's an alien. He only seems to do it to remind his human companions that he is not human. If I remember correctly, the First Doctor told Ian and Barbara in the first story that both he and Susan were born on another planet (Gallifrey was not named until much later in the series).

Some UNIT personnel were aware that the Doctor isn't human, notably the Brigadier eventually accepting that the Third Doctor was the same person as the Second Doctor, as well as actually seeing the Third Doctor regenerate into the Fourth Doctor. The Fourth Doctor also told Sarah Jane Smith that he was an alien and not to expect him to react the same as a human would.

The Sixth Doctor tried to brush off his rudeness and bad behaviour as being alien and Peri compared him to the Fifth Doctor, who generally behaved much more human than other Doctors.

In the new series, the Ninth Doctor told Rose that he's an alien as part of his invitation to her into the TARDIS. Each companion has been aware that the Doctor is an alien, often demonstrating this by checking both of his hearts, but not all of them have been told this on-screen.

The Doctor is also quite capable of hiding that he's an alien. There have been several instances where someone has called the Doctor and his companions human, and apart from reacting slightly (for the benefit of the audience), the Doctor doesn't disabuse the other person of their assumption.

Sometimes the Doctor likes to boast about how old he is, or even that he's so old he can no longer remember his exact age. When it comes down to it, the Doctor is a very complex person who doesn't often react the same way. He can show off or be modest, he can state with great confidence how old he is and at other times have no idea. The Doctor is not always self-consistent.

And remember: The Doctor lies.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .