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Which planet is the Doctor from Doctor Who really from? In "The Timeless Child" it was revealed that he's not from Gallifrey (which had been given as his origin for decades of episodes). Is there any definitive information about what his real planet of origin is, or only theories and guesses so far?

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    @Mario The Doctor wasn't the one saying any of this
    – OrangeDog
    Commented Jan 15 at 9:52
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    Well, the newest seasons are more like a fanfic, except with more retconing and with worse writting. I doubt that authors know the answer to your question
    – Negdo
    Commented Jan 15 at 11:19
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    Any situation subject to time travel is subject to change. The right answer this week may not be true at all next week. Wibbly wobbly timey wimey and all that.
    – Separatrix
    Commented Jan 16 at 15:13
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    Highly related: scifi.stackexchange.com/q/228155/62709
    – Machavity
    Commented Jan 18 at 14:26

6 Answers 6

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PLEASE NOTE Some of this answer deals with theories, but the purpose of it is not to promote an unofficial 'fan' theory but rather to show that the 'official' story is perhaps deliberately obscure and not meant to be taken entirely at face value.

It has been said that the Timeless Child story arc re-writes the Doctor's origin story and changes the 'canon' of the show. Not everybody believes this is the case. The details given (so far) are open-ended enough for fans to make their own theories or for future writers to take in a different direction.

Much of what Chris Chibnall wrote in this story arc follows the general idea of what classic-era writer Andrew Cartmel was planning to do with the series before it was cancelled. It was felt by many that the show had revealed too much about the Doctor, a character that was meant to be shrouded in mystery. When the series began we knew nothing of the Doctor's origins except that he and Susan were "wanderers in the fourth dimensions of space and time, cut off from our own planet and our own people". It wasn't until six years after the show began that the 'Time Lords' were even mentioned. Andrew Cartmel apparently planned to introduce a storyline that revealed the Doctor was "much more" than just an ordinary Time Lord and that he had something to do with the foundation of the Time Lord society. The Timeless Child story, on the surface of things, has similar ends.

However, there are many inconsistencies and loose ends from the Timeless Child story which could hint at there being more to it.

The general understanding of the Timeless Child story, taken purely at face value, is that the Doctor was originally a foundling child that had apparently arrived through some kind of portal from another unknown place or time and was raised by the scientist that found them. After the child fell from a cliff they were discovered to have the inherent power of unlimited regeneration, and their DNA was used by their adoptive parent to give the Gallifreyan people this ability, starting the Time Lord society as we know it. It is then believed that this child was recruited into a secret 'police' service known as Division where they worked as an agent for an unknown length of time before having their mind wiped. It is then assumed that the Time Lords forced the now adult Timeless Child to regenerate back into a child who eventually became the Doctor.

The evidence presented to make viewers accept this is:

  • The Master showed the Doctor a partially-redacted history from the Matrix - the Time Lord database - which told about the Timeless Child being found, their regeneration power being copied, and their recruitment into Division. However there was no actual visual evidence that the Timeless Child was the Doctor - the Master just told them so.
  • The redacted parts of the story (hidden in the Matrix behind a filter) manifest themselves as an 'allegory' of a foundling child on Earth called Brendan who is later recruited into the police at the recommendation of their adoptive parent. This foundling is seen to survive a fall from a cliff (suggesting regenerative ability) and is also shown to have their mind wiped when they 'retire' from the service.
  • The Doctor meets the 'Fugitive Doctor' - a previously unseen incarnation of the Doctor - who works for Division. Because this incarnation does not know the Thirteenth Doctor or recognise their sonic screwdriver, it is suggested that this is a previous incarnation, cementing the idea that at some point the Doctor in the show's continuity has had their mind wiped.
  • It is implied that the unknown faces shown as part of a montage of the Doctor's past lives in classic serial 'The Brain of Morbius' are also from this part of their life that has been wiped.
  • The Doctor is later shown some of their past by the Mouri where we see the Fugitive Doctor working for Division.

However, the following details about the Fugitive Doctor belie at least part of this evidence:

  • The Fugitive Doctor has take the name 'The Doctor'. If they existed before the First Doctor that we know and were reverted to childhood they must have grown to choose that name again.
  • The Fugitive Doctor's TARDIS is a Police Box. It has been established that the First Doctor stole this 'faulty' TARDIS and it got stuck as a Police Box under his ownership.
  • The Fugitive Doctor says nothing that confirms their place in the Doctor's timeline.
  • We know that the Time Lords have the power to grant additional regeneration cycles (as seen at the end of Eleven's life) and the information in the Matrix about Tecteun's work shows they also have the power to limit the number of regenerations, so the existence of additional unknown regenerations itself does not prove the Doctor is the child - we know that Eleven was old, dying and unable to regenerate at the end of his life before the Time Lords intervened.

The existence of this incarnation cannot be considered proof that the Doctor is the Timeless Child, only evidence that they have had their memory of at least one previous regeneration wiped.

Also, if the 'Brendan' analogy is meant to represent the Timeless Child there are numerous inconsistencies with this:

  • According to the Matrix, the Timeless Child was discovered by a scientist and raised by them alone. By contrast, 'Brendan' was raised by two parents. Also, Brendan's adoptive father informed a policeman (the Irish Garda) immediately upon finding him, but the 'police' force that this supposedly represents, Division, was not formed until many aeons later after Time Lord society had grown.
  • The Timeless Child falls from a cliff as a child whilst playing with a friend. They are seen to be recruited into Division when they are older. By contrast, Brendan falls from a cliff whilst working for the Garda.

The analogy falls down as a direct parallel of the Timeless Child, although it could still be evidence of hidden memories of some similar events.

The only 'evidence' to support the idea that the Doctor is the Timeless Child is the word of The Master and Awsok (Tecteun), both of whom are malevolent towards the Doctor. There is no other direct evidence that confirms without doubt that they are the same person.

One theory that fits better with the evidence would be that The Doctor's origin is unchanged, that they were recruited into Division during their lifetime as we understand it, and that The Doctor, whilst working for Division, had some dealings with or gained knowledge of The Timeless Child before having their memory wiped and returned to continue their own life.

Evidence that supports this:

  • We have never seen the Second Doctor regenerate into the Third. The Time Lords forced the Second Doctor to regenerate. The Fugitive Doctor, and possibly the so-called 'Morbius' Doctors, could have existed between the Second and Third incarnations.
  • Division operatives, such as Gat, wear an upturned collar with a small point - a similar style to the two Time Lords that responded to the Second Doctor's call for help in the final episode of War Games, suggesting the same people and period.
  • It explains the Fugitive Doctor's TARDIS being a Police Box and their use of the name 'The Doctor'.
  • The Remnants saw "the Timeless Child" hidden in the Doctor's mind but did not state or even imply that the Doctor is that child.
  • The Doctor, like Brendan, could have regenerated whilst in service explaining the 'Morbius' Doctors.

As stated in the disclaimer at the start of my answer, my intention is not to suggest that this theory, or any other similar fan theory, is the truth. I am just showing that other alternatives make more sense than what is presented. I know some say that the inconsistencies are evidence of "poor writing", but the closure on this story with the definitive truth contained inside the pocket watch dropped into the heart of the TARDIS does pretty much prove that this was a story Chris Chibnall meant to either remain unanswered, at least for now. I don't think he tried to give The Doctor a new backstory - I think he tried to put the 'who' back into Doctor Who, and so while the most recent episodes of the show have 'confirmed' that the Doctor doesn't know where he came from, that is only confirmation that his origin is a mystery. I think that, for now at least, we are to view the show as if The Doctor themselves is unsure of exactly who they are or what their past is. The only sure answers are inside that watch.

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    Excellent and thorough answer (Morbeus et al..). No idea why it was downvoted. Commented Jan 29 at 16:51
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    Wish I saved my bounty for this excellent answer.
    – trumpetkid
    Commented Feb 1 at 22:47
  • @trumpetkid Not a problem. You can withdraw and re-award bounties at any time. Commented Feb 2 at 4:13
  • @JiminyCricket. Any Doctor Who answer here gets 1 almost instant downvote from a prolific individual who considers themselves the only person worthy to answer. I put that whopping disclaimer at the beginning of my answer and still got it. Makes me laugh now.
    – Astralbee
    Commented Feb 2 at 8:53
  • @trumpetkid that's very kind. Answers here can age badly if the show takes a new direction or makes a new reveal, but for now I'm certain that this story was meant to give us mystery rather than facts. That may change soon [Spoilers] - perhaps you've seen the recent episode which dealt with the new companion being a foundling? It's possible that is some kind of parallel to the Doctor being one, also. Or maybe it's enough for us (and them) to think that for now without confirming it.
    – Astralbee
    Commented Feb 2 at 8:56
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In the Classic Doctor Who canon the Doctor was a Gallifreyan - albeit born near Karn. Personally, I always assumed that meant on a spaceship.

Karn as in the Witches of Karn which is a Gallifreyan offshoot culture, and notably where the 8th Doctor died and the War Doctor was resurrected.

Transcript of "The Brain of Morbius"

http://www.chakoteya.net/DoctorWho/13-5.htm

DOCTOR: Yes, a mutant insect species. Widely established in the Nebula of Cyclops. I thought I recognised the stars.

SARAH: You've been here before?

DOCTOR: I was born in these parts.

SARAH: Near here?

DOCTOR: Well, within a couple of billion miles, yes.

and later

SOLON: It's so rare that anyone arrives here on Karn.

DOCTOR: Karn, is it? I should have known.

SOLON: You mean you arrived here without knowing?

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    The point of the question is that this was ret-coned. The Doctor was wrong about where they were born.
    – OrangeDog
    Commented Jan 16 at 12:46
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    Pretty sure this just letting us know that Gallifrey itself, where the Doctor believes he was born, is near Karn. Commented Jan 17 at 13:50
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+50

As of “The Church on Ruby Road”, all we know of the Doctor’s true origins is what the Master reveals to the Doctor in “The Timeless Children” (emphasis mine):

Once upon several times, before the Time Lords, before everything we know, there was an explorer. Her name was Tecteun, from a little-regarded, sparsely populated planet called Gallifrey. Tecteun was the first of Gallifrey's indigenous race, the Shobogans, to develop space travel. Dangerous, unsophisticated space travel. She took risks to explore the worlds and galaxies beyond her home. And it was on one of these distant, deserted worlds on the far edge of another galaxy she found something... impossible. A gateway. A boundary into another unknown dimension or universe. Tecteun glimpsed the infinite through that gateway. And beneath the monument, she found... a child. Abandoned. Alone. Thrown through, seemingly, from the other unknown realm. Tecteun had a choice to make. Abandon or save the child? She chose to rescue the foundling and adopt this refugee from another realm as her own. Together they explored the universe. The child grew older, and finally Tecteun returned to Gallifrey with her new child. Like any parent, Tecteun wanted to understand her child. She searched for clues as to the child's identity. Where she might be from, what species she could be. But the child would not yield any secrets Tecteun could understand. The child remained a mystery, until playing with a friend, like any other child, there was an accident. A catastrophe...

The Doctor is this “Timeless Child”. The one mystery Tecteun finally unravels is that she is capable of regenerating an unknown number of times, but she remains an unknown species (but like the Shobogans and Time Lords, humanoid and outwardly indistinguishable from humans). Her planet of origin is also unknown, aside from the likelihood that she is from “another dimension or universe”. The Master insists this is all true, and Tecteun herself confirms it before her death in “Survivors of the Flux”, where the Doctor also points out some of the story is based on assumptions (emphasis mine):

DOCTOR: So, was what the Master told me true?

TECTEUN: Yes. I found you. A lost child, alone, beneath a monument on a deserted planet, seemingly deposited there by a wormhole. No way back, no one to care for you.

DOCTOR: You took something that didn't belong to you.

TECTEUN: I rescued you. Would you prefer to have been left?

DOCTOR: You assumed I came through that wormhole, but you don't know. What if I was waiting there to be collected? What if I was supposed to be taken through it? What if whoever left me there was taken by that wormhole?

TECTEUN: What if, what if, what if?

But so far this is as much as we - and the Doctor - know about their origins. They believe the basic facts, though, with the Fifteenth Doctor describing himself as a foundling and having been “adopted”.

There’s so far no indication that the Doctor knew any more about their origin before their memory was wiped by Division; she was seemingly very young when found, after all. Certainly the “Fugitive Doctor” encountered in “Fugitive of the Judoon” behaves very much like a Time Lord, and the story of Tecteun’s search for answers shows her doing research and experiments, not talking with the young Timeless Child.

On a related note, there’s widespread fan speculation that the Doctor was transformed into a Time Lord by a chameleon arch when her memories were wiped by Division (we don’t know what incarnation this happened to, as the story has only been shown via an allegory in the Matrix). This theory seems mostly based on the fact that the Doctor’s “biodata module” containing her lost memories resembles the fob watch used by the Tenth Doctor and War Master when transformed into human form by an arch, but the dialogue confirms only that she has lost her memories, and implies she was turned into a child or baby (as she then grew up again on Gallifrey). It is also made clear that her genetic information was used to create the Time Lords from the Shobogans, so it doesn’t seem unusual that she is similar enough to them to have always been detected as a Time Lord by Dalek (etc) scans.

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    It occurs to me that the Master is not a particularly reliable witness. The only vaguely trustworthy character in-universe who might have been in a position to confirm or deny any of this is Karvanista: did he ever comment? Commented Jan 16 at 16:51
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    Karvanista doesn’t comment on this mystery. It seems no-one knew about the Timeless Child except for Tecteun and some of the earliest founders of Time Lord society, and the Division may have partly been created to ensure that secret was never discovered. We don’t know how the Master found out, or why the memories of it are stored deep in an inaccessible part of the Matrix. But the Doctor meets Tecteun and she says it’s true, as I mention in the answer. Commented Jan 16 at 21:15
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No. There is no information.

The only "theories and guesses" are that it's nowhere that's been previously seen or named.

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The answer to this question is in flux (one "x").

As the other answers have shown, we've gotten various information concerning the answer to that question over the years. This is somewhat common in long-term fiction - information is dropped with varying interest in making sure said information jibes with other tidbits given in the past. Eventually, someone comes along to try and make all the information match up, or explain any inconsistency.

Other references not mentioned so far -

In the novel Lungbarrow, The Doctor said he was not "born" at all, but created/bred on the Loom in the House of Lungbarrow.

Eight claimed to have had a human mother.

The current version of the story is that The Doctor is not a Gallifreyan at all, but from an unspecified planet, found by Tecteun, and used to extract the secret of regeneration for the Time Lords.

As of the moment, The Doctor believes that to be true, but many fans hope/believe this is false information, and will be contradicted at some point in the future.

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  • This doesn't seem to add much that wasn't already said in this answer from several days ago.
    – FreeMan
    Commented Jan 23 at 18:14
  • Correction. 8 made the human mother claim as part of what would have been a Retcon of Gallifrey being Greek gods or something most of which was dropped from 1996 movie. 12 slightly referenced it again with that prophesy of a half Timelord half something else stuff. Commented Jan 23 at 21:22
  • @lucasbachmann That was certainly an intentional reference, but it came to nothing. The prophecy was a "hybrid", and we were left thinking between episodes if that meant the half-human Doctor. And then he said "it's me"... only he meant 'Me', the name Ashilda was now going by. It was baiting.
    – Astralbee
    Commented Jan 30 at 9:29
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The Doctor is from Gallifrey.

And anyone who says otherwise is a Chibnall.

It's fair to say that 90% of Who fans do not embrace showrunner Chris Chibnall's attempt to rewrite the backstory of their long-loved character, it was widely recognized to be a very poor idea that alienated a large amount of the show's audience.

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    – Community Bot
    Commented Jan 16 at 13:56
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    Russel T Davies also says otherwise.
    – OrangeDog
    Commented Jan 16 at 14:24
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    Once Chibmall took over, the show went downhill. So far, it's not bottomed out, even with Davies coming back. :(
    – FreeMan
    Commented Jan 16 at 17:43

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