The universe inhabited by the Doctor
. It is a large and unwieldy beast full of internal contradictions. Fortunately, it's a really, really
big universe encompassing, er, the entire universe and a history stretching, oh, from the Big Bang to 100 trillion years in the future (plus an alternate universe or five).
Due to the nature of the show, any timeline described here can be overwritten, split, or contradicted — both by its own canon and by the countless spin-off media of the Doctor Who Expanded Universe
. In turn, the core canon can contradict or overwrite the expanded universe, but can also canonise bits of it at times. This flexibility is thanks (per various different Word of God
sources such as series writer Paul Cornell) to the fact that other than a general rule that says no one should have to purchase merchandise to understand the TV series itself, the BBC has never put in a hard and fast rule as to what is "canon", which contrasts with the Star Trek
franchise where its owners (Paramount) and creator (Gene Roddenberry
) put in a longstanding rule that only what appears on screen counted.
The Whoniverse resides in (or sometimes near) the Softest end of the Mohs Scale of Science Fiction Hardness
. Sometimes it's another genre entirely
, just with Aliens and Monsters
The main series set in the Whoniverse:
Behind-the-scenes TV series (unless noted, obviously they do not take place within the Whoniverse itself):
- Doctor Who Confidential (2005-2011): A behind the scenes look at the revived series of Doctor Who.
- Its final episode in 2011 included a mini-episode, "Death is the Only Answer".
- Revived in 2014 as an online-only series titled Doctor Who Extra.
- Totally Doctor Who (2006-2007): Another behind the scenes series, but geared to younger viewers.
- Its second and final season included an animated Doctor Who serial, "The Infinite Quest".
- Torchwood Declassified (2006-2011)note : The equivalent to Confidential for Torchwood. Moved to a DVD feature after series 2.
- An Adventure in Space and Time (2013): A ninety-minute drama about the show's creation, focusing on William Hartnell's era.
A full listing with accompanying tropes, release dates and background information of these stories can be found on the Doctor Who Expanded Universe
page. Works and media with their own pages on this website include:
- Aliens and Monsters: In about 85% of any television set in the Whoniverse. K-9 & Company, in a subversion of viewer's expectations, had a Scooby-Doo Hoax. Torchwood has humans as the main enemy or a threat alongside alien creatures in several instances, and in one episode had humans as the "monsters" with no known extraterrestrial or supernatural influences. Early seasons of Doctor Who also averted the trope by featuring occasional purely historical stories in which the only alien aspect was the Doctor himself (this format was common between 1964 and 1966, and was revived for a one-off story in 1982, but has yet to be revisited in the modern era).
- Aliens in Cardiff
- Alien Invasion: A signature trope.
- Aliens Speaking English
- All Myths Are True: Vampires, werewolves, fairies, Satan and minotaurs have all appeared, more or less as described by mythology. Other variants of the above have also appeared, including minotaurs... again. And let's not forget two different explanations for the Loch Ness Monster!
- Ancient Astronauts
- Beethoven Was an Alien Spy
- Broad Strokes: Continuity tends to operate on this basis in regards to the universe itself, less so for the characters.
- Canon Welding: During the period when Doctor Who Magazine was owned by Marvel UK, there were some variously subtle hints dropped about links between the Whoniverse and the Marvel Universe. Michael Moorcock's Eleventh Doctor spin-off novel The Coming of the Terraphiles is a full-on Intercontinuity Crossover with Moorcock's "Second Ether" novels, which means that the Whoniverse is also part of Moorcock's multiverse. And Chris Boucher's audio spin-off Kaldor City and Fourth Doctor novel Corpse Marker both strongly hint that Doctor Who and Blake's 7 share a universe. There have also been contradictory hints given that at least some aspects of Douglas Adams' The Hitchhikers Guidetothe Galaxy may intersect with the Whoniverse.
- Doing in the Wizard : Though The Sarah Jane Adventures and Torchwood in particular allow the wizard to live.
- Earth Is the Center of the Universe
- Eldritch Abomination: Has its own page.
- Fantasy Kitchen Sink (especially so in the Expanded Universe)
- The show drifted this way over the course of its very long run, starting out as relatively hard science fiction, with some lapses, such as the Celestial Toymaker and the Land of Fiction. The turning point was possibly the Key to Time Story Arc, which featured two god-like Anthropomorphic Personification of Order and Chaos, respectively, and then did not try too hard to call them anything else. Even so, fans complained when Silver Nemesis depicted Lady Peinforte using magic and naming it as such, though this was handwaved the next season as not literal magic, as such, but really the work of a Cosmic Horror called Fenric.
- Heroes R Us: UNIT, Torchwood, Sarah Jane's bunch...
- Invisible Aliens: (The Whoniverse also has several species of literally invisible aliens.)
- Magic from Technology
- Masquerade: Some modern stories set in the Whoniverse have suggested that ordinary humans have now gotten to accept that aliens exist... Took them long enough.
- Mr. Exposition: The Doctor, Captain Jack, Sarah Jane, K-9, Mr Smith...
- Omniscient Database: Torchwood and Sarah Jane have the literal kind. The Doctor's (and Captain Jack's) wealth of knowledge and experience serves as the equivalent.
- Set Right What Once Went Wrong: More commonly, setting things right before they go wrong, often by means of a Stable Time Loop.
- Sufficiently Advanced Alien
- Space Is Magic
- Technobabble: The Technobabble phrase Reverse the Polarity, in fact, originated in Doctor Who.
- There Are No Global Consequences: Played straight in earlier years, but mostly averted on Torchwood and Russell T Davies' run of Doctor Who.
- Time Travel (as you may have gathered already)
- Timey-Wimey Ball: With a universe this large and unwieldy, the time-line is so knotted that nobody could ever untangle it.
- Weird Science
For tropes associated with Doctor Who
, specifically, see that article.
Debate on the content of the Whoniverse is the stuff of legends. Countless works of the Universe Concordance
kind (some official, some not) try to keep them straight. Good luck, folks!