I'm rewatching Doctor Who and I've always wondered, are all Timelords geniuses or is the Doctor an anomaly?

I know that they are exceptionally intelligent because they invented TARDIS' and they mastered space and time travel, but I mean is EVERY Timelord on Gallifrey as intelligent as the Doctor?

  • 2
    "Here I am, brain the size of a planet and they ask me to take you down to the bridge. Call that job satisfaction? I don't."
    – Tetsujin
    Oct 10, 2020 at 17:54
  • Are you speaking of the entire franchise canon, or just the modern rendition made after 2000. Admittedly, I haven’t seen it since Sylvester McCoy (and very little of him). But, I don’t remember the series showing too many Gallifreyan everymen. All of the Timelords were either portrayed as ruling class, politicians, scientists, entitled elite, or the subordinates of such. Even the Doctor and the Master were portrayed as self proclaimed benefactors (the Master being less benevolent).
    – Dean F.
    Oct 10, 2020 at 20:35
  • 1
    You can learn a lot if you have an infinite amount of time to do it, and can visit every teacher on every planet of every system of every galaxy of the past, present, or future. Oct 13, 2020 at 6:02
  • @DeanF.: It's a common trope that you only see the head of each department, rather than the grunts. Consider how we mostly follow Star Trek on the bridge, i.e. the captain, chief of security, head of medical, talk to the chief engineer, ... Or in Game of Thrones, how we didn't see much of the "refugee" wildlings, having them instead be represented by Tormund who seemingly speaks for them in a united voice. Just because you don't see the lower levels in a story being told, doesn't mean they're not there.
    – Flater
    Oct 13, 2020 at 16:33
  • @Flater - Good point. Although, there were episodes in the Tom Baker era where everyday Gallifreyans were portrayed. They were portrayed as a little vapid with a lot of free time and luxury. They were not portrayed as not intelligent. Just very much without worry or purpose. Just like in your example of Star Trek: TOS, not a lot of them were portrayed. And, speaking parts were limited. This was probably more of a plot device to limit the amount of actors/extras needed. Both were before the mass use of CGI.
    – Dean F.
    Oct 13, 2020 at 18:20

1 Answer 1


It is impossible to write an answer that accounts for every fictional Time Lord, even the ones who aren't explicitly known about.

is EVERY Timelord on Gallifrey as intelligent as the Doctor?

Quite the opposite. High placed Time Lords seems to consider the Doctor to be a relative idiot - in their opinion. To their perception, he is naive and simple and comedic and absolutely not as stoic or pragmatic as they pride themselves to be.

Time Lords are very absent from the rest of the universe, even before the Dalek war. They would rarely if ever travel, usually only as guardians of time. Comparatively, the Doctor is brash, travels around with the wonder and excitement of a toddler, and runs headlong into conflict based on idealistic notions of saving everyone.

Most Gallifreyans present for a specific plot generally have to eventually concede that the Doctor saved the day or did a clever thing, but the general tone is that the Doctor is very unorthodox and his methods are considered simplistic, idealistic and reckless.

Keep in mind that the Doctor stole his TARDIS because he didn't have one, because he didn't pass his TARDIS piloting class (he only barely managed to graduate from school, with a 51% on his second try at his exams). (link).

Even River Song, admittedly clever but not trained in any official Time Lord capacity, knows how to operate the TARDS without that grindy noise, and the Doctor didn't figure that out after (IIRC) about 1000 years since he stole it.

What little we know of his personal life as a Time Lord, he was an academic failure, which supports the idea that he is, by Time Lord standards, definitely not a genius.

But your question seems to be judged from a human perspective, where the Doctor is significantly more advanced than any human.

While we cannot conclusively speak for all Time Lords, based on existing conversations it seems that the Doctor is considered to be on the lower end of the spectrum, at least as perceived by those on the allegedly higher end of the spectrum.

As a minor sidenote, keep in mind that not all Gallifreyans are Time Lords. While it is unclear as to whether there are still non-Time-Lord Gallifreyans around, they did at one point exist.

However, even before they "were gifted" time travel, they were already considered "a proud spacefaring civilisation with pretensions to godhood" (link).

So again, your perspective matters. Relative to humans, Gallifreyans were significantly more advanced. But relative to Time Lords, Gallifreyans are lagging behind.

You must log in to answer this question.

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