Little is known about the Doctor's early life. He was born and raised on the planet Gallifrey, a member of the Prydonian Chapter of Time Lords. He attended school on Gallifrey, and at the age of eight was exposed to the Untempered Schism, a rift in time and space from which he fled in fear. His family life on Gallifrey is unclear. It is possible he had at least one sibling; his parentage is similarly mysterious. He was childhood friends with the Master. At some point in his life, he stole a TARDIS and left Gallifrey as a renegade Time Lord, beginning centuries of adventure and travel through time and space, which often brought him to Earth.
The Doctor was created by Sydney Newman and C.E. Webber, making his first appearance in the 1963 television serial "An Unearthly Child", written by Anthony Coburn. He made his first appearance in comics in 1964's TV Comics #674, illustrated by Nigel Main and written by an unknown author.
The Doctor, and his species, are capable of undergoing a process called "regeneration" in the event of mortal injury or extreme old age. A complete transformation of the body, regeneration results in a new "incarnation" with a distinct physical appearance, along with a distinctive personality, but with most prior memories and knowledge intact. To date there have been thirteen distinct incarnations (the incumbent is referred to as the Twelfth Doctor due to one incarnation choosing to reject the name Doctor; this incarnation is referred to in onscreen credits as the War Doctor). Each incarnation possesses similar characteristics, such as high intelligence and heroism, but each also displays unique traits, such as Four's eccentricity or Eleven's enthusiasm. Doctors also vary in their apparent physical age. Numbering only occurs in publicity/fan circles; on screen he is only ever referred to as the Doctor.
Major Story Arcs
The First Trial
The Time Lords apprehend the Second incarnation of the Doctor and place him on trial for breaking the laws of time. The Doctor brings his various victories against the Daleks and the Yeti to light, however this is not enough as the Time Lords strip his mind of the knowledge necessary to operate the TARDIS and exile him to Earth as well as forcing him to regenerate into a new form.
While in exile on Earth, The Doctor is warned that the Master, a criminal Time Lord and old enemy from Gallifrey, has escaped the planet and may be seeking revenge. This is proven true, and the pair have a number of encounters, during which the Doctor strands the Master on 20th century Earth for some time. Though the Master manages to escape, he is later captured by UNIT.
The Key to Time
At the request of a transcendent being called the White Guardian, the Doctor and two companions (a female Time Lord named Romana and a robotic dog named K-9) spend the course of an entire season searching for the six parts of the Key to Time which have been scattered across time and space. They succeed, but break the key into its constituent parts and scatter them again due to the actions of the villainous Black Guardian. The Key is later destroyed due to the pieces causing dimensional decay in the areas they are located.
The Black Guardian
An alien named Turlough was exiled on Earth with no hope of escape until an offer by the Black Guardian to kill the Doctor (now in his fifth incarnation); in exchange he would return him home. The Doctor, accompanied by companions Tegan and Nyssa, arrived on Earth and were eventually joined by Turlough, who was determined to follow through on his plan, however the more time he spent with the Doctor and the TARDIS crew he grew to see the Black Guardian for what he was, becoming conflicted about what action he should take. Eventually the White Guardian offered a warning to the Doctor, who had become embroiled in a game being played by the god-like beings called the Eternals in the solar system, the prize of which was Enlightenment. It would be here that Turlough would make his final choice.
The Trial of a Time Lord
The Doctor, now in his sixth life, is once again put on trial by the Time Lords for his alleged transgressions against the laws of Gallifrey, specifically his contravention of non-intervention laws and, later, genocide. His past and future deeds were provided as evidence in this trial. During the trial, he notices that the evidence from the past and future appear to have been censored or tampered with. it is eventually revealed that this is due to the fact that the Doctor was a mere scapegoat, and evidence against him had been falsified by the Valeyard, who is revealed to be a future incarnation of the Doctor and an amalgam of his negative personality traits, and the Master. The Doctor defeats them and is later acquitted.
The Last Great Time War
Between the events original series and its revival, a massive war was fought between the Daleks and the Time Lords. The Doctor, after countless years of fighting, brought an end to the war by destroying both the Daleks and the Time Lords, an act for which he felt intense remorse for many years. The incarnation that did the act is referred to in credits as the War Doctor, however he chose to reject the name Doctor, due to his actions.
It was not until his eleventh life that the Doctor learned the truth. See "The Day of the Doctor", below.
The phrase "Bad Wolf" began appearing in various forms around the Doctor and his companion, Rose Tyler. This later culminates with Rose absorbing the time vortex into herself and becoming an almost omnipotent/omniscient god-like being in an effort to defeat the Daleks. She gains reality-warping abilities as well as knowledge and control over space and time, but containing the time vortex within herself will prove ultimately fatal if left unchecked. The Doctor saves her by absorbing the vortex himself, which forces him to regenerate into the Tenth Doctor.
After the Doctor's encounter with Queen Victoria, she creates a shady governmental organization, going by the name "Torchwood", to track him and protect Britain from alien threats. This culminates at modern-day Canary Wharf, where Torchwood are involved in accidentally facilitating a parallel universe Cybermen invasion of the main universe's Earth, as well as help indirectly start a war between the Daleks and the Cybermen. The Doctor is able to trap both warring parties in the Void. This has the unintended consequence of trapping his companion, Rose, on the parallel Earth.
In the power vacuum left behind in Britain after the Doctor contributed to the fall of the government of Harriet Jones, a new candidate called Harold Saxon arises. Meanwhile, the Doctor travels to the distant future where his ship is stolen by the Master, who had fled there after being revived during the Time War. The Master is later revealed to be Saxon, who seizes control of the entire world after being elected, and begins to construct a means to wage war against the rest of the universe, brutally oppressing the population of Earth for an entire year in the process. He traps the Doctor for an entire year before he is freed by collective psychic energy created by the hopes of the entire human race. The Doctor is able to avert the war and rewind time so that the Master`s reign never happened, but the Master soon dies in his arms, having been shot by his wife and refusing to regenerate.
The Medusa Cascade
It becomes clear that, for some reason, the bees have begun disappearing from all across Earth. At the same time, numerous planets and astronomical bodies have gone missing across the universe, with disappearances stretching far into the past. In the end the Earth itself is stolen by Davros, who intends to use it and the twenty-six other stolen planets to create a compression field to power a superweapon called the Reality Bomb that will destroy the entirety of reality.
Aided by most of his recent companions, he is able to defeat Davros' plan. However, in the process he is mortally wounded and almost forced to regenerate, which he prevents by channeling the energy into his own severed hand, which forms into a half-human clone of himself. He is also forced to abandon his latest companion, Donna, because she accidentally absorbs his Time Lord knowledge, which is slowly killing her. He is able to save her life, but only if she loses all memory of him and never meets him again.
He Will Knock Four Times
The Doctor begins to encounter reminders of his own mortality, as well as numerous mysterious references to the return of something. This something is eventually revealed to be twofold: The Master is resurrected, and Gallifrey, which the Doctor had trapped in time just before its own destruction. The corrupt Time Lords trapped there are revealed to have been responsible for the Master's madness, and attempt to use him to draw themselves back into the timeline, although their actions threatened to destroy all of creation. They nearly succeed, but the Master attacks in revenge and destroys all of them, himself included. The Doctor is then forced to sacrifice himself for Wilf, Donna's grandfather, who has become trapped in a radiation chamber. The Doctor receives a massive dose of radiation which spurs a protracted and painful death, resulting in his regeneration.
Cracks in the Universe
The Doctor begins to encounter cracks in the skin of the universe throughout his travels, as well as repeated warnings about the Pandorica and the Silence. Eventually he discovers the Pandorica is a trap designed by his enemies to prevent him from damaging the time stream. However, this damage is not directly caused by the Doctor, but by his own exploding TARDIS, which explodes and causes almost all of the universe to be erased from existence. The Doctor is able to escape the Pandorica, and uses it and the exploding TARDIS to remake the universe.
The Death of the Doctor
The Doctor's companions, Rory and Amy, witness the death of a version of him from 200 years in the future. Disturbed, they do not tell him, though eventually he learns of it, and finds it is tied to the mystery of the Silence. He learns that the Silence is an order that wants to prevent him from answering a question that will cause silence to fall across the universe. The Doctor fakes his own death, as the death witnessed by Rory and Amy was a fixed point of time that could not be avoided, and returns to adventuring. The question that he must not answer, "Doctor who?", continues to plague him.
The Name of the Doctor
The Doctor's associates, the Paternoster Gang, come under attack and are taken by the mysterious Whisper Men to Trenzalore. This planet has been the subject of ominous prophecy as the place that will witness the "fall of the Eleventh," as well as the place where a question will be asked that must not be answered. Despite this, and the TARDIS' resistance, the Doctor forces a crash-landing onto the planet, which is revealed to house his grave. There, Clara is guided by the recording of River Song, and together they lead the Doctor to a confrontation with the Great Intelligence, who leaps into the scar tissue left behind by the Doctor's travels in order to destroy his life. Clara, sacrificing herself, similarly leaps into the schism in time, becoming the Impossible Girl who rescues and aids the Doctor across all his lives. The Doctor also enters the scar tissue, causing it to begin to collapse in on itself. He pulls Clara out, but not before they witness a previously unknown incarnation, the War Doctor.
The Day of the Doctor
During a strange incident in modern-day London involving figures in paintings seeming to have come to life and then vanishing, the Doctor leaps through a rent in time, landing in Elizabethan England and meets his Tenth incarnation. They are soon joined by their unacknowledged predecessor, the War Doctor, who has come forward from a point in their past just before they chose to use the Moment, a super weapon of mass destruction that they used to end the Time War. The trio are locked in the Tower of London where they discuss their shared past, which is the War Doctor's future. Managing to escape and defeat an alien invasion of London occurring in the present day, the War Doctor returns to the Moment convinced that he must detonate it. The Tenth and Eleventh join him, similarly convinced that this act of destruction is for the greater good. They are talked down by Clara, and form a plan to freeze Gallifrey in time in an alternate universe. Recruiting all currently known incarnations, including the yet-to-be-introduced Twelfth, the Doctors do so, though they do not know if the succeeded. The trio returns to the Gallery where the War Doctor realizes that both he and Ten will lose their memories of this action and still believe themselves to have been guilty of the genocide of their people. They depart, leaving the Eleventh to speak with a mysterious man who resembles his Fourth incarnation. He concludes that they must have been successful, and vows to find Gallifrey again.
The Time of the Doctor
Receiving an unknown but ominous message, the Doctor travels to a mysterious planet where he is amongst thousands of aliens who have arrived to investigate. Readings suggest the planet is Gallifrey, which is impossible. The Doctor manages to sneak onto the planet's surface, where he discovers that he is on Trenzalore, and that Gallifrey is attempting to come through the crack in the universe by asking the question that must never be answered. If the Doctor answers with his name, the Time Lords will reemerge and bring with them the endless devastation of the Time War, as all the races that hover around the planet seek to destroy them. The Doctor cannot leave without sacrificing Trenzalore and his own people, and nor can he be removed for fear he will speak his name and bring Gallifrey forth. He remains to defend the planet, expending centuries of his life protecting the village of Christmas from the attacks of various enemies. Aware that he has expended all twelve regenerations, the Doctor prepares himself for death. Trenzalore soon becomes consumed in a war that lasts centuries, until only the Doctor, the Church of Silence (with whom he allies), and the Daleks remain. The Doctor makes one final stand whilst, unbeknownst to him, Clara pleads with the Time Lords through the cracks in the universe to aid him. The crack vanishes from the wall and appears in the sky above the Doctor, showering him with regeneration energy and allowing him to destroy the remaining Dalek attackers. Returning to the TARDIS, the weakened and aged Doctor regenerates into the Twelfth Doctor.
Powers and Abilities
The Doctor is a Time Lord, and so possesses all the traits inherent to his race. He has two hearts, and internally does not much resemble a human, though his exterior form, to date, always does. His strength and speed are at the peak of human standards, and his durability have been shown to be superhuman. He has an extremely long lifespan that has been implied to theoretically last forever, and though his exact age has always been unclear due to his nature as a time traveler, the Twelfth Doctor has claimed to be more than 2,000 years old. He, like other Time Lords, is capable of regeneration: when faced with a mortal wound or other fatal ailment he can regenerate his whole body, restoring himself to perfect health. This has a side effect of altering his physical appearance and personality, though he maintains a general continuity of identity.
The Doctor appears to possess increased stamina, and has been shown to withstand extreme external damage, such as electricity and some types of radiation and chemicals, that would kill a human. He possesses telepathic and psychic abilities that allow for the sharing of memories and some mental communication, particularly with other Time Lords, as well as having a limited ability to perform mental attacks. He is very immune to many forms of telepathy, including mind control, and is shown to be resistant to physical possession. He has the ability to perceive time, and can tell when he is able to alter the flow of events and when they must be allowed to occur, as well as a limited ability to see the past, present and future. The Doctor, as with most Time Lords, has the limited ability to see all potential future timelines of what could happen, although he cannot tell what is actually going to happen.
The Doctor's most prominent ability is that he is incredibly intelligent to a point literally beyond human comprehension, and has displayed a facility for science, medicine, and history, among many other areas. He is also skilled at physical pursuits such as football, cricket, boxing, and martial arts. He is capable of speaking some five billion languages, though that number might be enhanced by the translation circuits of the TARDIS which communicate with him telepathically. He can also read a number of these languages, including Old High Gallifreyan, which is a rare ability even among Time Lords. He is a quick talker and an exceptionally skilled strategist, though this ability has waxed and waned across various regenerations. Although he prefers to outsmart his enemies and disapproves of most weaponry, especially guns, he has shown himself capable of using weapons successfully when the need arises.
Equipment and Weapons
The Doctor is in possession of a number of items of Gallifreyan technology that aid him. Notable among these are his TARDIS (Time And Relative Dimension[s] In Space), a highly indestructible space-time vehicle that he uses to travel through time, and also to teleport or fly from place to place. He possesses a Type-40 TARDIS, which he stole, and which was quite obsolete by the time the Time War destroyed Gallifrey.
Its malfunctioning chameleon circuit means that it is stuck as a 1950s-era British police box, though if it were working correctly it would be able to assume any shape that would help it blend in with the time period. Regardless, it tends to shift the attention of observers away from itself using a technology called a perception filter. It is bigger on the inside than it is on the outside; the exterior tends to be quite small, while the inside is gigantic, and contains an unknown number of rooms. It is also sentient and intelligent to some degree. It has various defensive mechanisms including a "siege mode" during which no one may enter and it is seemingly impervious to damage.
He has a sonic screwdriver, which is a multi-purpose sonic tool that performs numerous functions including triangulation, self-defense, multipurpose cutting and reattachment, and the operation of numerous kinds of machinery, among other capabilities. He also has often used psychic paper when going undercover or disguising himself. The psychic paper is a blank, white card that had special properties that induces people to see whatever the paper's user wishes them to see printed on it. The Doctor is known to often invent his own equipment and gadgets to use in situations.
A different version of the character, one who is human and actually named Dr. Who, appears in the films Dr Who and the Daleks and Daleks' Invasion Earth: 2150 AD. He is played by Peter Cushing. The two films are retellings of two TV serials. As such, and due to the fact the character himself is significantly changed, the films are not considered part of the TV continuity.
Literature and Audio
The Doctor's adventures have appeared in hundreds of novels, ranging from adaptations of TV episodes (all but a handful of storylines from 1963-1996 have been adapted), to original novels. Since 1999 there have also been hundreds of officially licensed audio dramas and audio books produced, featuring virtually all surviving past cast members. The BBC's lack of a canon policy means there is no ruling one way or another how the books, audios, and comics fit in with the show; however, in 2013 the BBC broadcast the mini-episode "The Night of the Doctor," which established elements of the audio dramas as canon.
Spoofs and Charity Productions
There have been numerous spoofs of Doctor Who, as well as several charity productions that feature the character. They have appeared on television, radio, film, print media, music, and stage.
Seven Keys to Doomsday
The Doctor must stop the Daleks from taking over the universe. He is played by Trevor Martin.
Doctor Who- The Ultimate Adventure
The Doctor must rescue an American envoy from the Daleks and the Cybermen, who have kidnapped him.
Doctor Who Live
A live, semi-interactive arena show featuring numerous characters from throughout Doctor Who's history, and featuring Matt Smith as the Eleventh Doctor.
Originally created for the British television series Doctor Who, the Doctor has appeared on TV from 1963 to the present, with a break between 1989 and 2005. He has, to date, been portrayed by a total of thirteen actors. In canon order, these are William Hartnell, Patrick Troughton, Jon Pertwee, Tom Baker, Peter Davison, Colin Baker, Sylvester McCoy, Paul McGann, John Hurt, Christoper Eccleston, David Tennant, Matt Smith and Peter Capaldi.
The Sarah Jane Adventures
This was a spin-off series created by Russell T Davies and featuring Elisabeth Sladen as Sarah Jane Smith, a character she had previously played on Doctor Who in the mid-1970s. The Doctor appeared on the series several times in flashback, and twice in person: the Tenth Doctor appears in the two part episode the "Wedding of Sarah Jane Smith"; the Eleventh Doctor appears in the two-part series 4 episode "Death of the Doctor".
The Doctor has appeared in a number of video game incarnations.