Is Voyager's Emergency Medical Hologram, which doesn't have a name other than "Doctor":


a tip of the hat from Paramount to The Doctor from BBC's Doctor Who?

While Robert Picardo doesn't have any visual similarity to William Hartnell, or any of the first eight Doctors:

compiled picture of all doctors from Dr Who

the name The Doctor is an indication (although perhaps not a very strong one). Is there any official confirmation or additional evidence, whatsoever?

  • 2
    "Not That Kind of Doctor." :-)
    – jeff
    May 6, 2012 at 20:43
  • 11
    "I'm a doctor, not a Doctor!" Nov 25, 2014 at 20:14
  • 2
    In early materials for the show (anyone have a reference? I'm working from memory), it was hinted that the character was going to "choose" the name Dr Zimmerman, but apparently the writers turned his (failing to) choose a name into a running gag, at least partially at R. Picardo's influence.
    – BRPocock
    Nov 26, 2014 at 16:15
  • @BRPocock: It seems like he eventually settled with Joe.
    – bitmask
    Nov 26, 2014 at 21:32
  • 3
    22 on the answer to 1 on the question? Come on peeps, Questions need love.
    – Jontia
    Aug 11 at 21:54

4 Answers 4


No, I've never heard anything to indicate that the Doctor (VOY) has any connection to the Doctor (Doctor Who).

The characters couldn't be more different - Doc (VOY) is placid and very tied to one location (sickbay, then Voyager). The Doctor is manic and travels constantly.

The EMH was called 'Doctor' because that's what he was - he had an advanced knowledge of every realm of medicine, and his life was dedicated to treating others and saving lives (and, eventually, self-improvement).

The Doctor...runs a lot. And people around him die (despite his best efforts in most cases).

In short, The Doctor chose his name for reasons only he knows. The EMH is called 'Doctor' as an acknowledgement of his skills, position, and because it simply fits. The EMH was not designed to have an individual personality, so he initially needed no name. Once Voyager was stranded, 'Doctor' sufficed as a unique identifier.

  • 5
    In a sense, the Doctor is bound to Voyager (and later his mobile emitter) in the same way The Doctor is bound to the TARDIS. The Doctor is the first of his kind (a sentient hologram) while The Doctor is the last (Timelord). The Doctor is an expert on his field of medicine, while The Doctor is an expert in virtually everything. They're both virtually immortal from the perspective of a human. In one Voyager episode, the Doctor even travels in time (forward) and in another he travels back in time (along the rest of the crew). There are more similarities than you like to admit, I think.
    – bitmask
    May 6, 2012 at 15:22
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    @bitmask: The Doctor as "the last Timelord" is an invention that post-dates Voyager. He's also not bound to the TARDIS at all, really.
    – user1030
    May 6, 2012 at 16:29
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    @bitmask: The only similarities you really mention are that they both experience common sci-fi tropes. The Doctor is the LAST timelord, he's heir apparent to millenia of history, and (especially Doctors 9-11) trying to run from his past. The EMH, however, is the FIRST (as you say) - he is going to shape a civilization, and has an enormous future to look forward to. They're almost diametrically opposed.
    – Jeff
    May 6, 2012 at 16:30
  • 1
    from a certain point of view, The EMH runs a lot Mar 5, 2018 at 0:53

Like Jeff I've also never heard anything to suggest that this is a Dr. Who reference. It seems far more likely that this is an attempt to make a character similar to Data (who was in a way just another version of Spock). In many Trek versions it helps to have a non-emotional character to act as a foil for the more emotional human (or human-like) characters. The Doctor's technological base, like Data's, also serves to give the writers an opportunity to investigate and comment on the nature of humanity. Some of the plot lines the Doctor experiences (Author, Author) are remarkably similar to some plots Data experiences (Measure of a man).


Another reason such a reference seems unlikely is that "the Doctor" was not his originally intended name.Early documents and scripts all show that the writers and developers had intended that the Doctor would eventually take the name Dr. Zimmerman after his creator.

The fact that they never intended him to have the name "Doctor" can be seen in canon in earlier episodes where he tries out various names, like Schmullus or Schweitzer. And this is not something he ever gives up on, as he always has a name in the future, trying out Mozart and Van Gough in "Before and After" (where Kes travels backwards in time) and ultimately settling on Joe in the alternate future of "Endgame."

Furthermore, others in the show regularly call him "Doc," even introducing him as such to others. This is not at all common with the Doctor of the BBC show.


No. TNG had Data to provide an "outsider" perspective on human society/culture/behavior. The EMH typically serves in that narrative role for Voyager (as does Neelix to some extent). That he is the ship's doctor (and is thus referred to as "Doctor") is just a way to shoehorn a character into the crew who serves a critical need without being at the center of every episode's action, so has a reason to belong while still an outsider. On the other hand, Neelix has no real reason to be there - as something of a "space huckster" he just pitched his value to Janeway and she bought it.

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