With all the time travel, it's hard to tell. I made a quick search and the information is not available in Wikipedia and TARDIS.wikia. (Well, if it's there, I missed it.)

Are there any clues that could indicate whenever the doctor came from?

  • 4
    Relative to when? ;)
    – gnovice
    Commented Apr 23, 2012 at 16:30
  • 40
    I think the answer is "yes". :)
    – Martha
    Commented Apr 23, 2012 at 16:51
  • Thaddeus' answer contains a partial answer in that the Eye of Harmony was created billions of years ago. It's unknown though how much time has passed between then and The Doctor's birth. I'd guess it means he is from the past, but can't find proof to confirm.
    – user1027
    Commented Apr 24, 2012 at 1:12
  • What part of 'timey-whimey' is hard to grasp?
    – user62584
    Commented Feb 2, 2020 at 11:50
  • @Jeeped All of it, by its very definition.
    – Spencer
    Commented Feb 2, 2020 at 17:23

6 Answers 6


Simple answer

He is from the future.

  • The Doctor fought on the front lines [of the time war]and was present at the Fall of Arcadia.1
  • The Fall implies Arcadia is destroyed.
  • Arcadia is a planet colonised by humans in the 25th century, and the setting of the Virgin New Adventures novel Deceit.

So if the Doctor fought on the front lines of the time war in the 25th century, then the time war was in the future. The Time War concluded with destruction/time locking of the Gallifreyans and Daleks, which we know is in his past. He has come back from the future for his adventures in the 'present day'.

1. According to the Tenth Doctor in Doomsday (2006).

Complicated answer

During the Time War, time was abused. Badly. Because of this there is no way to tell what times it was fought in, with time becoming something easily traveled periods in time can be considered warzones as easily as different planets. The war may have originated in the past, traveled into the future and then been finished. Or the reverse could be true. We simply don't have enough information for a complete answer. We might guess that it is some time before the end of the universe as this is where the Master jumps to in his human form, to avoid his place in the time war.

  • 8
    I don't understand why having fought at Arcadia means he is from the future. He's visited many many places in both the past and the future, and fought in many of them - why pick out Arcadia specifically? Commented Apr 23, 2012 at 18:12
  • 2
    @DanielRoseman I tried to clear it up, he fought that during the time war which is in his past but in our future. I pick it out as that's the only place I know he fought on duringthe war.
    – AncientSwordRage
    Commented Apr 23, 2012 at 18:46
  • 7
    That only seems to imply he was there at some point in his past. Couldn't he have originated in our past, traveled to the future, participated, then gone back to our time?
    – Izkata
    Commented Apr 23, 2012 at 21:08
  • @Izkata see my complicated answer for that.
    – AncientSwordRage
    Commented Apr 24, 2012 at 1:18
  • 4
    In the Day of the Doctor I believe we saw the fall of Arcadia - it Galifray's second city (rather than a human colony). I know your answer predates that episode but this influences it somewhat!
    – Liath
    Commented Sep 11, 2014 at 7:27

There are a few pieces of information that come together to tell us that the Doctor is from the past. The first is the Eye of Harmony, which was created in ~3,500,000,000 BC (per a Doctor Who book). This was an artifact from early Time Lord history, and it granted them the energy needed to travel through time.

The second is a line Rassilon says in The End of Time. As he is planning a way for Gallifrey to escape the time lock that contains the Last Great Time War, he says there have been "1 billion years of Time Lord civilization". Admittedly, he says this after dematerializing someone who disagreed with him, so he's a little insane. But if we take his statement to be true, that means 'modern' Gallifrey, where The Doctor would have been born and raised would be around ~2.5 billion BC Earth Time.

  • I think this is the best answer - it's simple and gives a good reason. Also I don't believe we can use the fall of Arcadia as a reference point because of the later episodes (which show it on gallifrey) show it's a Time Lord not a human one.
    – Liath
    Commented Sep 11, 2014 at 11:54

Short Answer: The Doctor was born in what we would perceive of as the past. If he is correct about his age (900 Earth years) and he was present at the The Last Great Time War which is in the 26th Century AD, Earth Time, he would be a time-traveler who was born in the 1600's AD Earth time. It is difficult to pinpoint his actual location in time due to the differential between the normal flow of time and the compressed Inner Time of the planet Gallifrey.

He would have lived through the periods of the 20th and 21st Century and eventually lived long enough to be at the final battle at Arcadia in the 26th century. He then, returned to Earth nostalgically adventuring through the 19, 20 and 21 century trying to console himself of a time before the final fall of the Gallifreyans.

Complex Answer: The Gallifreyans evolved just like any other race in the Universe. They did not simply spring into being, fully formed. They use technology and likely developed it just like any other species would and later achieved a level of technological supremacy after millions of years of development. This can be supported by the existence of such technology as the TARDIS itself. As such, it can be supported that despite their mastery of time, they would have come from the past, as we are able to see and understand the passage of time.

The Gallifreyans developed the capability to time travel after they created the Eye of Harmony, estimated to have come into existence 3.5 billion years ago, Earth Time. (from the Doctor Who novelizations.) Once the Eye of Harmony was created, the Gallifreyans removed themselves from the time stream proper and began to exist outside of time, a thing they called Inner Time (a temporally delayed, entropy free zone outside of the normal flow of time).

The Eye of Harmony acted as the focus and beacon for all TARDIS technology and was later destroyed by the Doctor during the Last Great Time War. He cast the Eye of Harmony into the Gallifreyan sun to destroy the fleet of one million Dalek ships and the City of the Gallifreyans. The destruction of the Eye of Harmony caused a temporal shockwave all the way back to the Big Bang, timelocking the event forever. The energy of the Eye was linked to the time stream energy and any remaining TARDIS uses temporal energy to travel through time now that the Eye is gone.

Despite the Doctor's ability to move through time with what would appear to be apparent ease, there are places in time and space he is still unable to go, implying there is time and space the TARDIS is not able to manipulate.

  • The Void between Universes
  • Beyond a limited distance outside of our universe
  • The temporal bubble imprisoning the Gallefreyans
  • Any moment in time he has already existed in, preventing temporal paradox
  • Fixed points in time that are not able to be changed (as described by him)

Since he has blocked the Gallifreyans from the contemporary universe including any timelines that would allow them to exist in parallel universes, they have no future and for them to be effectively isolated, they can have no past or access to the past. If they did have access to the timestream, they would be able to escape their temporal prison, through the past.

As for the appearance of the Doctor, at any particular moment in space and time, he could arrive at any point not forbidden to him from either the past or the future.

Here is an infographic of adventures of the Doctor since the series first started. You can reach the full sized graphic here.

enter image description here

  • 4
    How does their evolution indicate that they came from the past, and not from millions of years into our future, then traveled into the past? Or am I misunderstanding your explanation?
    – Flimzy
    Commented Apr 23, 2012 at 17:20
  • 2
    Technically, he CAN go into his own past, and cross his timeline. That's more of a rule, than a law. It just seems to be one rule that he actually does try very hard to keep. One example where he did was the episode in which Rose saved her father from being hit by the car.
    – eidylon
    Commented Apr 23, 2012 at 17:30
  • He suggests that he should not and that there are repercussions for moving over his own past. The most dramatic demonstration of this was when Rose created a temporal paradox by crossing her own time stream to save her father's life just before his death in a traffic accident. This summoned the Reapers, who descended to sterilise the "wound" in time by devouring everything in sight. The Ninth Doctor stated that if the Time Lords had been still around, they could have held back the Reapers and prevented or repaired the paradox. (DW: Father's Day) Commented Apr 23, 2012 at 17:37
  • 1
    Your own infographic shows the Doctor crossing his own time line multiple times (episodes 65, 129 and 140. This doesn't count scenarios like Father's Day or the special Time Crash.
    – Xantec
    Commented Apr 23, 2012 at 19:16
  • 1
    +1 for making me lose a lot of time with the infographic.
    – Bruno Kim
    Commented Aug 28, 2012 at 18:24

Appologies for the lack of evidence, but I seem to remember reading somewhere that the Gallifreyens were the first race in the universe, which gave the universe a successful working template, and that's why in the Doctor who universe that so many alien species are humanoid / some form of human.

  • I hadn't thought of that - I found this quote from The Sound of Drums "Well, perfect to look at, maybe. And it was. It was beautiful. They used to call it the Shining World of the Seven Systems. And on the Continent of Wild Endeavour, in the Mountains of Solace and Solitude, there stood the Citadel of the Time Lords, the oldest and most mighty race in the universe, looking down on the galaxies below. Sworn never to interfere, only to watch." chakoteya.net/DoctorWho/29-12.htm
    – Liath
    Commented Sep 11, 2014 at 11:59

The writers of the original series were working off of the BBC Original Format which had the Doctor coming from the future. Indeed they had the TARDIS as being a product of 5733. And the authorities of the 50th Century had deemed that no forward sight was possible for Time Lords, so they couldn't know their own destinies. It seems some people like to create their own canon by ignoring what was there beforehand.


In the original pilot for the series in 1963, Susan (the Doctor's granddaughter) tells Barbara and Ian that she was born "in the 49th Century". However this line was modified to "another time" in the transmitted version (the first episode, An Unearthly Child).

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.