Ask The ‘Doctor Who’ Experts: What is The Doctor’s Real Name?
It’s a secret that’s been kept since the dawn of time… or at least the start of the series. Doctor Who. That’s not his name, it’s a question that, according to Madame de Pompadour, is “More than just a secret.” It’s a question that an entire religion has dedicated itself to never asking, believing that, once answered, “Silence will fall.”
Naturally, we’re curious.
So we asked writers, bloggers, podcasters, comic book artists and even “Doctor Who” cast members for their theories, suggestions and thoughts on The Doctor’s real name. Here’s what they came up with for all the Doctor Who fans who read CraveOnline.
“I think The Doctor’s name is really something along the lines of Drasicanawhocius. And when he left Gallifrey the TARDIS insisted he get a nickname. He lopped off everything except the beginning and kept a bit of the middle: “Dr-who”, which he eventually just shorted to “Dr”, which, when he reached earth became “Doctor”. The “the” came later. Fun fact: this is why he didn’t call insisted on nicknaming “Romanadvoratrelundar”. No one gets a long name in the TARDIS. Her rule, not his.”
“I think his name could be Hugh, therefore he would be Dr Hugh Who !!”
“The question of the Doctor’s name is not something that has ever really worried me. We did see it written down in The Deadly Assassin and of course have been several pseudonyms and nicknames and so on over the years. Part of the original concept of the show was that you didn’t know who the Doctor was – Doctor who? – and as more and more has emerged over the years, so the mystery of the character has lessened. Personally I don’t see it as central or even that important – what is important are the adventures and the monsters that the Doctor encounters. To delve too deeply into the show’s mythology carries with it the danger that the show then becomes only for hardned fans, and I would not want to see that happen.”
~ David J Howe, Doctor Who Historian and Director of Telos Publishing Ltd.
“The Doctor’s name. His real name, the one on his Gallifreyan birth (or loom, if you’re one of the people who follow that tangent) certificate. The greatest secret in the world.
Well, not really. You see, in Marvel Comics Presents #57, a US reprint of Doctor Who strips in 1980, the backmatter page by Mary Jo Duffy claims that his real name is ∂³∑x² – this in turn taken from the “Making of Doctor Who”, by Malcolm Hulke and Terrance Dicks from the mid seventies, taken in turn from a ‘document’ from his trial shown in the pages. And we all know that Terrance Dicks is the KING of Doctor Who.
Which means that unless Matt Smith turns around and says ‘My name is Squiggle – 3 – Sideways M – X squared!’ I will be very disappointed. Unless his name was Derek. Doctor Derek Who, from Gallifrey. There’s a sitcom right there.”
“Although many have speculated that The Doctor’s name would be elaborate in pronunciation and design, I beg to differ. It’ll be short, sweet and powerful. After all, this is The Doctor we’re talking about. He’s one of the most beloved and feared beings in the entire universe.
I don’t have a real guess as to what his name is. However, I would imagine it would hold the same strength in its pure simplicity. Examples similar to what I’m referring to include Darth Vader, James Bond or Indiana Jones”
“I think we’re all going to have a nice big laugh when Moffat reveals that his name’s been ‘Yes’ this whole time. ‘Doctor Who?’ ‘Yes.’ ‘Who?’ ‘First base! You know, I invented that bit. Based on a true story.'”
“The mystery behind the Doctor’s name may not be as important as the Doctor’s true identity. During the alternate timeline in the sixth season finale, the Doctor hinted that his identity was a secret that must never come out. The Silence was even willing to destroy the universe and murder the Doctor to prevent that from happening.
What could be so terrible that the Doctor has been running from his past for most of his life? If I had to guess, I’d say that the Doctor wasn’t always as virtuous in the past as he is now. Even as a hero, the Doctor has done some morally questionable things. Imagine what the Doctor would do if he didn’t have restraint or human companions to hold him back.
If the Doctor had a previous alias or once traveled under his true name, it would have to be one that fans were already familiar with. I don’t think that the Doctor is secretly a later reincarnation of someone like Davros or the Master. But whomever he was in the past, the Doctor seems unwilling to acknowledge it or admit that he’s not who he says he is.
There is an argument to be made that the Doctor’s past should remain clouded and mysterious. But if Steven Moffat is going to push “Doctor WHO?!” as the ultimate question then he should at least give us an answer after all of that build up.
‘Silence must fall,’ but it had better not…”
“Rule One: Moffat lies! He said so himself. And I believe him. He doesn’t know the Doctor’s name.
The essence of the show is the mystery surrounding the Doctor’s identity. Nearly fifty years of Doctor Who history would be ruined if his name is revealed.
There’s been attempts in the shows past to pin a name on him. No, he’s not Theta Sigma. Not the son of Ulysses the Explorer, nor is he Dr. Who. It’s certainly not Fred. No one knows and neither does Moffat. He knows better.”
“John Smith. Hiding in plain sight. 🙂
I think it would be a mistake to go with Chrístõdavõreendiamondhærtmallõupdracœfiredelúnmiancuimhne de Lœngbærrow (Chrísto for short) because of the inherent religious implications.
Perhaps they’d go with his nickname: Theta Sigma.
But my guess is that it will be something quite simple and sweet, sweet in the sense of its clarity. Something that highlights the idea that being “special” isn’t predicated on flash and ego, though he has plenty of each from time to time. We embrace the bow-tie and flourish!
I think it will be designed to illustrate that, though we are human and limited, that his greatest qualities are those that we can aspire to. It also ought to have a bit of fun to it. At least that’s what I’d like to see.”
“The Doctor already has so many names: Doctor, Theta Sigma, Ka Faraq Gatri, John Smith, the Predator, and Merlin. Does he really need another one? I personally like the mystery of his name being secret. After all, how disappointing if it turns out to just be Fred!”
~ Barnaby Edwards, President of Doctor Who New York (DWNY)
“It’s been said throughout the many regenerations of The Doctor that his real name is unpronounceable. Though perhaps we have a hint of what that unpronounceable name could be in Tom Baker’s The Armageddon Factor. In that episode it is revealed that at the Academy on Gallifrey he went by Theta Sigma (or Thete). So perhaps the answer to the question “Doctor Who?” is a longer drawn-out version of Theta Sigma. Romana is short for Romanadvoratrelundar after all.”
“His name is Doctor Who – haven’t you seen The War Machines (in which he is referred to as Doctor Who by two different characters – its generally written off as a production team mistake, but it happened, up there on the screen, and it can’t be changed)?”
“I can’t think of how, after 50 years of foreplay, learning the Doctor’s real name is going to be anything other than an anticlimax – but then I’m not Steven Moffat. Knowing Mr Moffat, he’s probably been telling us the Doctor’s name since ‘The Eleventh Hour’, and none of us were paying attention. And on the day of the 50th anniversary, with a grand metafictional flourish, he’ll tell us everything and nothing. And we’ll love him for it.
Oh, and I’d like to pass on my eldest son’s recipe for a perfect anniversary episode: an extended flashback that climaxes with a young First Doctor stealing the Tardis; the reappearance of the Tenth Doctor; and the return of the Master and his Tardis. Note: and his Tardis.”
~ James Roberts, Writer of IDW’s “Transformers: More Than Meets The Eye”
“Honestly, I kind of hope that they never give him a “real name” just because it’s not necessary and I can’t begin to imagine anything that wouldn’t be a disappointment. That being said, I wouldn’t at all mind a callback to the prediction that the 12th Doctor might end up becoming The Valeyard from “Trial of a Timelord” or even an extension of the theories that the Hartnell Doctor might not have been the first (though the new series seems to have definitely written off this thinking). What I do think we will see is an explanation of how The Doctor is going to be able to regenarate beyond his last incarnation (which they set up for as far back as “The Five Doctors”) and I suspect that’s going to have a lot do with Gallifreyean history. There are lot of interesting theories online about the relationship between the Time Lords and the Weeping Angels and I don’t think they’re too off the mark.”
“Steven Moffat has been teasing us with the Doctor’s name since the 2008 episode “Forest of the Dead” and I’m pretty sure we’ll never actually learn what it is. Moffat’s way is in the getting there and not the final destination. His plot resolutions are simple and obvious and the simple obvious resolution here is that it whatever the Doctor’s name is it will certainly be disappointing. It just wouldn’t be interesting at all for us to finally know the answer to the question that is the title of the show. Moffat most certainly knows this. So it’s my opinion that when he says he knows the Doctor’s name what he is actually saying is that he knows why it is significant and how it is going to be significant and he is definitely going to tell us that story… but don’t expect to hear the words ever actually spoken! “
“My thoughts on the Doctor’s name are a bit more sinister. It may be something to reflect the horrible deed he’s done in the past regarding the Daleks and the Time Lords. Maybe his real name is the Predator? Or the Terminator? Or…..actually maybe I’m just channeling classic 80s film. Either way, I think the Doctor may be more sinister than we know.”
“I think the Doctor’s real name is something that can’t be limited to a name. If it were anything, it would be like what you saw in the 90s with The Artist Formerly Known As Prince. It’d be some kind of symbol or unintelligible description. But it would be something that if you knew it, it would change your perception of the universe and that’s why no one can ever know what it is. Maybe River doesn’t even actually whisper his “name” in “Forest of the Dead,” but maybe it’s some kind of association with his name. Like a landmark or something associated with it. Or maybe the Doctor’s name is something like Goose Knees. He’s terribly ashamed and has to compensate for it.”
“I believe that the Doctor’s real name (of course, hard to pronounce as it’s foreign to us) is associated with the Gallifreyan idea of The Bringer or Death’s Companion. His real name may not have any meaning, but certain traits and events have made his real name synonymous with the above.
Wherever the Doctor goes, he “brings” something. Whether tangible or not, his presence provides a certain result. It could be hope, healing, enigmas, hatred, a wedding present, fish fingers and custard, jelly babies etc. Our favorite Time Lord chooses to use “Doctor” not just for academic reason but because healing is his preferred association he would want his beloved human people to know him as.
As for Death’s Companion, since the Silence is a religious order, that in itself has certain presumptions. Religious orders usually have a common belief that that to their good there is an evil. In the audio book The Master, the Doctor as a child killed a bully named Torvic that tormented him and Koschei/Master. Death later came to him to take as her champion but he suggested Koschei instead, and the Doctor has felt responsible for how Koschei turned out. (Although later it has said that he has forgotten this incident.) Through books, audio stories and TV episodes, the Doctor has many encounters with Death, and of course, there is the obvious, wherever he goes, usually death does follow.
Whether his real name means to the Gallifreyans The Bringer or Death’s Companions, it definitely means something terrible and worth running away from.
Only when the truth must be told, creatures cannot speak falsely and all of life is at stake, could possibly be the only circumstance the Doctor could tell River his name.”
“Throughout the history of Doctor Who, viewers and companions alike have wondered what the Doctor’s name is. One could argue that “Who” *is* his name. After all, if the title of the programme is a question, where is the question mark? And there was that time a crazy computer stuck up the Post Office Tower asked for the Time Lord by that name.
Let me get this out of the way immediately. I don’t think it’s that.
So what are the other choices? Well, it’s funny you should ask because in the 80s and 90s there was this thing about him being “The Other”. A Time Lord who had been there when Gallifrey first explored time travel; he was a contemporary (if such a phrase can be used of Time lords) of Rassilon and Omega. Of course, “The Other” is hardly a name. Unless his initials are A N… but I don’t think this is the answer either.
Some have wondered whether he is more than a Time Lord or another incarnation of Rassilon. Well, unless he has a truly profound streak of self-loathing, we can discount that one as the 10th Doctor cast Rassilon back into the Time War.
But is he more than just a Time Lord? Well, what’s so “just” about being a Time Lord? You get live forever barring accidents, you can hold your breath for a seriously long time, you can fake your own death, hypnotise people and travel in time and space. Now, only a few Time lords seem to have made the most of these gifts. Most decided to stay on Gallifrey and observe the universe. The Doctor went off to see it (while the Master and a few others went to try and take it over).
He’s certainly the last of the Time Lords. Isn’t he? Well, we’ve seen that the Master was hidden by the chameleon arch. It would be interesting if the Doctor was somehow another being or Time lord that was “hidden” in the same way but still appeared as a Time Lord… does this bring us back to the Other? It might do, but it doesn’t give us his name!
So what could it be? We know that it shocks the 10th Doctor when River Songs whispers it in his ear. He looks like he’s seen a ghost. So, it’s probable that his name is something that no one should know; his name is something that would have dire consequences if revealed.
For my money his name has to be either something from the series mythology or something from a more widely known mythology. Anything other than this would have no dramatic impact upon its revelation. Imagine if we stand on the fields of Trenzalore and discover the Doctor’s name is Throg? The immediate reaction is: Eh? So what?
But if he was revealed to be Omega or Adric or Davros, the internet really would melt. Even more so if he was Prometheus or Jesus or Odin.
I would think that it would be this wider mythology we need to be combing for possibilities. After all, it’s his name we’re after. If he was revealed to be the White Guardian, that’s not a name; it’s more a title. And like I say we need a name that if and when revealed would make the viewer say “Wow! No way!” not “meh”.
So what is the Doctor’s name? We don’t know. Will we find out? Maybe. But this is Steven we’re talking about here. He may well reveal something only to pull the rug from under us. As Dorium Maldovar has said at this time and place “no living creature can speak falsely or fail to answer”, so the Doctor is going to have to say something. But, two things to consider: first, the Doctor is meant to be dead so is he – technically – a “living creature”? So, this leaves the way open for rule #1: the Doctor lies…”