Are The Members of the Sisterhood of Karn:

  1. Time Ladies?
  2. Gallifreyans?
  3. Descended from Gallifreyans but a distinctly different race (like how Romulans are different from Vulcans)?
  4. a completely different humanoid race?
  • They aren't Time Ladies because they didn't fight in the Time War.
    – Rogue Jedi
    Sep 14, 2015 at 12:25
  • @RogueJedi: For a long, long time, the Doctor refused to fight in the Time War. Did that make him "not a Time Lord"? (I concede that he did eventually relent and join in.) Dec 12, 2015 at 22:19

4 Answers 4


The Sisterhood of Karn are Gallifreyans, formerly followers of the Pythias who used to rule Gallifrey.

From here:

The Pythia was a name as much as a title of the matriarchal leaders of the planet Gallifrey prior to Rassilon. [...] Near the end of her reign, the last Pythia [...] sent her followers to the planet Karn, cursed Gallifrey with sterility and threw herself into an abyss below her temple. Pythia's followers would adopt the title of the Sisterhood of Karn. (PROSE: Cat's Cradle: Time's Crucible)

From here:

Karn was originally a colony of the old Gallifreyan Empire in the days before Rassilon. The Sisterhood of Karn were a remnant of the Pythias who once ruled Gallifrey before being expelled by the triumvirate of Rassilon, Omega, and the Other.


The Sisterhood ought to be classified as semi-Timelords in the light that when the Gallifreyan Empire was at its zenith there would no doubt have been interracial interactions and movement/migration just like the Imperial and Colonial powers have done on Earth in Earth's history. Like Ancient Greece's Oracle of Delphi, Cassandra was not Greek but from Troy, Its just a short example however.


They are Gallifreyan, but not Time Ladies, a Time Lady is generally a Gallifreyan (though sometimes a member of another species) who has graduated from the academy and/or received a TARDIS. They most likely can regenerate, as at least for gallifreyans, the ability was developed through their species in general being exposed to the untempered schism for billions of years, (though that's not the only way one can develop the ability, being conceived while traveling through the time vortex has been a prime example of another way one can be born with the ability to regenerate).


Whatever it may say in secondary media, it is totally clear in their first appearance in "The Brain of Morbius" that the sisterhood are not Gallifreyans. The whole plot of the story revolves around Morbius and Solon trying to obtain a Gallifreyan head for Morbius's new body. If there had been other individuals of Gallifreyan descent already present on Karn before The Doctor landed there, Solon would not have been so obsessed with his chance to steal The Doctor's head. (Given the poor appearance of the rest of Morbius's replacement body, I don't think he would have minded a female head.)

  • There is a difference between being a Time Lord and being a Gallifreyan.
    – Rogue Jedi
    Sep 14, 2015 at 19:17
  • I would take the former to the subset of the latter.
    – Buzz
    Sep 14, 2015 at 20:20
  • @Buzz yes... and no. Academy training (the process that produces Time Lords) was very occasionally open to non-Gallifreyans, and regeneration (amongst other things) is a Time Lord thing, not a Gallifreyan one. Thus Gallifreyan descent is not quite necessary, and certainly not sufficient, for purposes that require a Time Lord.
    – Darael
    Dec 7, 2015 at 16:13

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