All people from Gallifrey are considered Gallifreyans; but what differences, if any, are there between Time Lords and common Gallifreyan citizens other than having a TARDIS?

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    Could it be that Galifreyans are just the inhabitants of Galifrey like how all organisms on earth are considered Earthlings and Timelord is their species like how we're humans? Commented Feb 23, 2014 at 21:02
  • Despite recent dubious events in the chibnal era - the fact that a timelord can be granted regeneration implies a timelord is an artifically enhanced Gallifreyan. I've concluded it's probably similar to the energy wisp that makes a TARDIS or the Moment bomb work, merged with a person rather than a machine. Commented Dec 21, 2020 at 21:24

4 Answers 4


The Time Lords are the rulers of Gallifreyan society as well as their military leaders, selected from early childhood (age 8), shown the untempered schism and educated at Timelord Academy for approximately three centuries before being granted the right to use a TARDIS to undertake missions authorised by the High Council of the Timelords.

It appears that they were also the only ones eligible to stand for High Council, to serve on the Inner Council and to serve as judges and inquisiters although it may be that the terms Timelord/Gallifreyan are being used interchangeably or that attaining these roles makes you a Time Lord (e.g. irrespective of upbringing).

History doesn't record whether only the Time Lords were allowed to wear silly hats in Gallifreyan society;

Timelord Inquisiter Timelord Tennant

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    @MrLister, because it was funnier for the show? Has the term "Gallifreyan" ever come up in the modern series, because maybe Time Lord would allow everyone to get the joke but Galifreyan might alienate (shush) people. Unless I'm mistaken, all of the Galifreyans the Doctor interacts with are Time Lords. Or maybe it was the most direct response. She says he looks human; the Time Lord replies in kind, as he always calls himself a Time Lord not a Galifreyan. (A point to be said is that all Time Lords are Galifreyan, not all Galifreyans are Time Lords).
    – Mac Cooper
    Commented Feb 23, 2014 at 10:20
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    I recall that Time Lords rejected Galifreyan society (correct me if I'm wrong). In any case the Doctor seems to spare no thought for the Galifreyans, only "his people" ("The Time Lords are all gone" and so on). In any case Vastra says that the Time Lord Race developed due to billions of years of exposure to the Time Vortex.
    – Mac Cooper
    Commented Feb 23, 2014 at 10:31
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    @Richard: is that Tennant in the picture on the right? It sure looks like him. Commented Feb 23, 2014 at 10:49
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    @PaulD.Waite - Yes, but not from the series. It's a prop from the classic series that happened to be brought to the set where they were filming. He couldn't resist the urge to try it on...imgur.com/TvvNCnN
    – Valorum
    Commented Feb 23, 2014 at 11:07
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    Awsome, i wish i could have seen Tennant on Galifey in that Commented Feb 23, 2014 at 17:08

There is no actually concrete answer to this... Gallifreyans are technically the inhabitants of the planet Gallifrey and Time Lords are Gallifreyans as well, though there are varied accounts as to how the Time Lords came to be.

According to I.M Foreman Gallifreyans and Time Lords were a separate species due to the intervention of Rassilon.


I.M. Foreman stated that Time Lords were a separate species due to Rassilon's intervention. (PROSE: Interference - Book One)

Matt Smith's Doctor stated that Time Lords evolved from the original Gallifreyans from continued exposure to the Time Vortex and Untempered Schism.

The Eleventh Doctor and Vastra said that the Gallifreyans evolved into Time Lords via exposure to the Time Vortex and the Untempered Schism over billions of years. (TV: A Good Man Goes to War)

There are still Gallifreyans whom are not Time Lords, some which lived outside of the Capital Cities.


Living in the wild lands outside the Capitol, bands of Gallifreyans called Outsiders lived a primitive lifestyle, wearing fur skins and using weapons like bows, arrows and spears for hunting food. (TV: The Invasion of Time)

There are also non-Timelord farmers in the series such as in the episode Hell Bent.

There was a community of Gallifreyan, non-Time-Lord farmers in the Drylands. (TV: Hell Bent)

It is also stated that at one point in the history of Gallifrey that non Timelords who were in religious orders were given access to certain "rights".

At one point in Gallifreyan history, members of Gallifreyan religious orders who were not Time Lords were nonetheless given certain rights: access to time travel, certain genetic privileges, and the right to observe High Council procedure. However, the High Council later disestablished the churches, monasteries and other religious orders, effectively abolishing these rights. (PROSE: Interference - Book Two)

As previously stated Time Lords were the ruling class of the planet Gallifrey when Doctor Who was introduced.


The Time Lords (sometimes called the Lords of Time or, rarely, Chronarchs) were the oligarchic rulers of the planet Gallifrey, and thus also Gallifreyan. (TV: The Hand of Fear, The Deadly Assassin, PROSE: Interference - Book Two)

Essentially from all this we can determine that Time Lords are Gallifreyan but a Gallifreyan may not always be a Time Lord.

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    So what i said like a week ago, Galifreyans are just the inhabitants of Galifrey like how all organisms on earth are considered Earthlings and Timelord is their species like how we're humans Commented Feb 27, 2014 at 18:21
  • The problem is that Timelords are a ruling class essentially they aren't technically a separate species. When people say Gallifreyans they talk about the Humanoid species of the planet. The word Earthling is used to described humans as opposed to extraterrestrials in science fiction. Commented Mar 1, 2014 at 18:42
  • And why did I get downvotes when I essentially said the same thing as the previous person but actually gave sources? Commented Mar 1, 2014 at 18:43
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    Definitely down to the lack of picture @DoctorWho22. I'd suggest you try to work this into your next answer; shadowlocked.com/images/stories/pics/jenna_louise_coleman/…
    – Valorum
    Commented Mar 2, 2014 at 10:09
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    +1 for the reference to the outsiders, who are clearly stated to be the same species as the time lords but yet are not considered to be time lords themselves. This is an important point missing from the higher-ranking answer.
    – Jules
    Commented Apr 20, 2014 at 11:52

A Gallifreyan is anyone from Gallifrey. A Time Lord has looked into the Untempered Schism, attended the Academy, and passed the exams.

  • According to whom?
    – Valorum
    Commented Dec 21, 2020 at 20:54

From what I've researched on Gallifrey and the Doctor, as well as other Time Lords (like the Master and the Rani - boy I had to dig deep for those two) Time Lords are all Gallifreyan, but not all Gallifreyans are Time Lords. At first it was like Vikings and Norwegians (am I right?) where Gallifreyan was the race but Time Lord was a title. Then, because of exposure to the Untempered Schism and the Time Vortex (and perhaps inbreeding, I'm not quite sure) the Time Lords evolved to be a separate race. Like animals and humans, kinda. Like animals and humans are all Earthlings (so to speak) and humans still count as animals, but they're an entirely new species.

Time Lords and Gallifreyans all come from Gallifrey, and Time Lords still count as Gallifreyans, but they're a different species.

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    Do you have a source for the difference in species? I've never seen that suggested.
    – Edlothiad
    Commented May 8, 2018 at 7:21
  • No, not really. It's just a theory circulated around that I picked up. It makes sense, kind of. A lot of sites that I dug into confirmed it IN A WAY, but not entirely, so it's still rather ambiguous. However, I believe that Gallifreyans and Time Lords did branch off at some point in their evolutionary tree. Commented May 9, 2018 at 8:20

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