Rule #1: The Doctor lies.

What are his other rules? Is there a definitive list anywhere?

  • 2
  • @Richard Thanks. I was really hoping the list would have been larger than that. I also hadn't realized how many times Rule #1 has changed. Mar 8, 2016 at 22:40
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    The Doctor has never been one for rules. Or consistency. Or having a plan. It just wouldn't be Doctor Who if there was a clear cut list from #1 to #50 that hasn't changed once since 1963.
    – Ixrec
    Mar 8, 2016 at 22:44
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    "Good men don't need rules... Today is not the day to find out why I have so many." -- The Doctor Mar 8, 2016 at 23:11
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    Given rule 1, it’s a bit hard to be sure what the others are. Mar 9, 2016 at 9:53

2 Answers 2


Working from the link given in @Richard's comment, I've compiled the following list. Note that not all the 'rules' listed in the Wikia page actually deserve to make the cut: some of them aren't actually cited as Rules, just as "wise-sounding things the Doctor says", which could cover almost anything; some of them don't actually appear in the episodes as cited by Wikia; and I also ignored the one rule which was cited to a prose story rather than the main canon of the TV series.

Fourth Doctor

Rule #1: do exactly as I say.
Rule #2: stick close to me.
Rule #3: let me do all the talking.

DOCTOR 4: Good. Now, pay attention. I'm not anticipating any trouble, but it's as well to be prepared for these things. Ground rules. Rule one, do exactly as I say. Rule two, stick close to me, and Rule three, let me do all the talking. Is that perfectly clear?

-- The Ribos Operation (Old Who, Season 16)

Seventh Doctor

Rule #1: I'm in charge.
Rule #2: I'm not the Professor, I'm the Doctor.
Rule #3: [unidentified]

DOCTOR 7: But there are three rules. One, I'm in charge.
ACE: Whatever you say, Professor.
DOCTOR 7: Two, I'm not the Professor, I'm the Doctor.
ACE: Whatever you want.
DOCTOR 7: And the third. Well, I'll think up the third by the time we get back to Perivale.

-- Dragonfire (Old Who, Season 24)

Tenth Doctor

Rule #1: don't wander off.

DOCTOR 10: Rose! Mickey? Every time, every time, it's rule one, don't wander off! I tell them, I do, rule one! There could be anything on this ship!

-- The Girl in the Fireplace (New Who, Series 2)

Eleventh Doctor

Rule #1: don't wander off OR the Doctor lies.
Rule #7: never run when you're scared.
Rule #27: never knowingly be serious.
RUle #408: time is not the boss of you.

RORY: The Doctor's always saying "don't wander off." First rule with him, actually, "don't wander off".

-- The Rebel Flesh (New Who, Series 6)

DOCTOR 11: Oh, you should always waste time when you don't have any. Time is not the boss of you - Rule 408.
DOCTOR 11: Never knowingly. Never knowingly be serious. Rule 27. You might want to write these down.
DOCTOR 11: Please, now we have to save your parents. Don't run. Now, I know you're scared, but never run when you're scared. Rule 7. Please. [...]
DOCTOR 11: Rule one. The Doctor lies.

-- Let's Kill Hitler (New Who, Series 6)

Twelfth Doctor

Rule #1: use your enemies' power against them.

CLARA: Rule number one of being the Doctor. Use your enemy's power against them.

-- Flatline (New Who, Series 8)

Honourable mention

... for the golden rule Moffat invented to cover ALL Doctors, which is what defines him as the Doctor across all his regenerations: never cruel and never cowardly; never give up and never give in.

DOCTOR 11: Then what do I do?
CLARA: What you've always done. Be a Doctor. You told me the name you chose was a promise. What was the promise?
DOCTOR 10: Never cruel or cowardly.
DOCTOR 8.5: Never give up, never give in.

-- The Day of the Doctor (New Who, 50th anniversary special)

Arguably the Doctor's final words to Clara could also be taken as a list of rules; I'll just stick that quote in here because it could count either as a list of Twelfth Doctor's Rules or simply as confirmation of the overarching rules I just mentioned.

DOCTOR: Run like hell, because you always need to. Laugh at everything, because it's always funny.
CLARA: No. Stop it. You're saying goodbye. Don't say goodbye!
DOCTOR: Never be cruel and never be cowardly. And if you ever are, always make amends.
CLARA: Stop it! Stop this. Stop it!
DOCTOR: Never eat pears. They're too squishy and they always make your chin wet. That one's quite important. Write it down.
CLARA: I didn't mean to do this. I'm sorry.
DOCTOR: It's okay. It's okay. I went too far. I broke all my own rules. I became the Hybrid. This is right. I accept it.

-- Hell Bent (New Who, Series 9)

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    +1. Never eat pears appears to be the real Rule #1
    – tilley31
    Mar 9, 2016 at 0:57
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    @tilley31 See also scifi.stackexchange.com/questions/114090/pears-in-doctor-who
    – Rand al'Thor
    Mar 9, 2016 at 1:00
  • My point, exactly xD
    – tilley31
    Mar 9, 2016 at 1:01
  • The "Never Cruel, never cowardly" line appeared in the one of the Virgin New Adventures. Can't remember which offhand, but I don't think it was originally a Moffat line - I think it was a Paul Cornell. I'll have a look.
    – Jon B
    Mar 9, 2016 at 1:17
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    "Don't blink" ;)
    – Gamora
    Jan 30, 2020 at 16:55

He also says 'First things first, but not necessarily in that order'. Not quite a Rule but definitely a Doctor-ism. Another one is 'Don't interfere in the affairs of other people/planets unless there are children crying'.

  • 3
    Can you provide sources for these "rules"? While I'm inclined to believe you, we like to see primary sources used to back up claims.
    – Edlothiad
    Nov 15, 2017 at 21:42
  • I agree they should be listed, but to back it up, I do remember both of these quotes vividly.
    – user88476
    Nov 15, 2017 at 22:05

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