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Aliases of the Doctor

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Throughout his travels in time and space, the Doctor took and was called by a number of different aliases, titles and names. Some were fleeting. Others, for example John Smith, were used by almost all of his incarnations. The Doctor told few individuals his real name. Instead, he asked others to call him the Doctor.

The Doctor's real name

Ubiquity of the title

"The Doctor" was not a name, but a title. His true name was not generally known, and "the Doctor" became an alias. It has been implied his given name was ceremoniously withdrawn and stricken by his Cousins as punishment for a disgrace he visited upon his House. (PROSE: Lungbarrow)

The Doctor's real name has been said to be difficult to pronounce, for humans at least. He once told an interrogator (when asked his name), "You wouldn't be able to pronounce the first syllable of it." (PROSE: Salvation) Much later in his life, his seventh incarnation likewise told one of his captors, "I doubt you'd be able to pronounce the name I was originally given." (PROSE: Illegal Alien)

Even when he was twice put on trial by his own people, the Time Lords, he was only referred to as "the Doctor", (TV: The War Games) although the Valeyard, who prosecuted the second trial (and who himself was a culmination of the dark side of a future incarnation of the Doctor), acknowledged that it was an alias. (TV: The Trial of a Time Lord) However, as the Doctor chose that "name" as a Gallifreyan custom, (TV: The Sound of Drums) its use in an official capacity was not exceptional. The Doctor kept his true name hidden despite numerous "mind-probe" attempts, voluntary (TV: The Lodger) and involuntary. (TV: The Girl in the Fireplace, The Shakespeare Code)

Individuals with knowledge of his name

When the Tenth Doctor first encountered her, River Song claimed to have known him at some point in his future. She was one of the few individuals confirmed to know his true name. To win the Doctor's trust and prove her "credentials", she whispered his name in his ear, and apologised for having to do so. The Doctor seemed shocked at this, later saying to her, "There is only one reason I would ever tell anyone my name, only one time I could." (TV: Forest of the Dead)

When asked about the Sixth Doctor's name, his companion Peri Brown once said that the Doctor had told her she would find it unpronounceable. (AUDIO: Slipback)

The Sixth Doctor told Becky his name. (PROSE: Teach Yourself Ballroom Dancing)

The Eighth Doctor's companion Samantha Jones was told his real name. She found it quite alien and virtually unpronounceable. (PROSE: Unnatural History, Vanderdeken's Children)

When the Doctor spoke his real name aloud in the novel Vanderdeken's Children it was not written in the prose, but represented by "—" instead.

Near the end of his tenth incarnation, members of an unidentified pan-dimensional race came to know the Doctor's real name. At this point he was of the opinion there was no one left in the universe who knew it. (AUDIO: The Last Voyage)

Clara Oswald read his name in The History of the Time War. That timeline was later averted, however, leaving her with no memory of it. (TV: Journey to the Centre of the TARDIS)

True name

The Carrionite Lilith, unable to discover the Tenth Doctor's true name even with the "witchcraft" used by her kind, remarked, "There is no name. Why would a man hide his title in such despair?" (TV: The Shakespeare Code) The psychically-gifted Evelina, who attempted to foretell the Doctor's future, remarked that his "true name" was "hidden" from her. (TV: The Fires of Pompeii)

According to Dorium Maldovar after his beheading, the religious organisation the Silence had a particular interest in the Doctor's name. He explained that if the Doctor lived long enough, on the fields of Trenzalore, at the fall of the Eleventh, when no creature could speak falsely or fail to answer, a question that must never be answered would be asked: the first question, hidden in plain sight. The question was simply: "Doctor Who?". The Silence wanted to stop the Doctor from revealing his true name. (TV: The Wedding of River Song) The Doctor was at a later time forced to go to Trenzalore to rescue his friends from the Great Intelligence, which sought to gain access to the Doctor's tomb. The tomb, which was a future version of his own dying TARDIS, would open only to the Doctor's real name. The Intelligence threatened to kill the Doctor's friends if he did not speak his name and open the tomb; the situation was resolved when the data ghost of River Song was able to silently transmit his name to the TARDIS, thus opening the door for the Great Intelligence. (TV: The Name of the Doctor )

Eventually, the Doctor held a book called The History of the Time War in his TARDIS library, unfolding the history of the Last Great Time War and apparently containing his name. (TV: Journey to the Centre of the TARDIS)

Significance

The Eleventh Doctor told Clara Oswald that his real name was not so important, since he specifically chose in its place the title of "Doctor", "like a promise you make." (TV: The Name of the Doctor) This promise was, as the Tenth and War Doctors recited together, "Never cruel or cowardly. Never give up, never give in." (TV: The Day of the Doctor)

The Master knew of this and implied that the Doctor's title had been chosen because it meant "the man who makes people better", although he found the choice "sanctimonious" for some one who ended millions of lives and ruined many others. (TV: The Sound of Drums) River Song was aware of this contradiction in the Doctor's behaviour: she said that the Doctor was the first to have this title and that the rest of the universe later adopted it, usually to mean "healer" or "wise man"; however, she added, in some parts of the universe (eg. the Gamma Forests), it eventually came to mean "mighty warrior". (TV: A Good Man Goes to War)

The Doctor did possess at least one doctorate. (TV: The Moonbase, The Armageddon Factor, The Mysterious Planet) He sometimes described himself as a "doctor of many things" (TV: Four to Doomsday) or "everything". (TV: Utopia) On several occasions the Doctor stated he was not a medical doctor. (TV: "The Forest of Fear", "Mighty Kublai Khan", AUDIO: Red Dawn) That didn't stop his second, third, tenth and eleventh incarnations from sporting a stethoscope on occasion. (TV: The Runaway Bride, Partners in Crime, Planet of the Ood, Planet of the Dead, The Doctor's Daughter, The Lodger, etc) The Doctor did note that by his second incarnation, he had studied medicine in the 19th century. (TV: The Moonbase) He also claimed one of his doctorates was in cheese making. (TV: The God Complex)

Common aliases

Numerous names, titles and epithets were either used by or bestowed upon the Time Lord most widely known as the Doctor.

The Doctor

As noted above, the Doctor itself was an alias, despite it being the title by which the Time Lord was most widely known. It was claimed that, as a Gallifreyan custom, he chose this alias himself. (TV: The Sound of Drums) On one occasion, a human knew this name without the Doctor saying it out loud. (PROSE: Cat's Cradle: Warhead) His other aliases often included the title "Doctor". (TV: Spearhead from Space) He implied to Peri his given name also began with such a title. (TV: The Mysterious Planet) Drax, a fellow Time Lord, indicated the Doctor did indeed possess a doctorate. (TV: The Armageddon Factor) According to one account, during his first incarnation, the Doctor adopted this name in dealing with human colonists on the planet Iwa at the same time that his granddaughter adopted the name "Susan". (PROSE: Frayed) According to another account, the Doctor and Susan already went by these names when they left Gallifrey. (AUDIO: The Beginning)

During his eleventh incarnation, the Doctor claimed that he didn't actually know why he and other people called him "the Doctor". (TV: The Lodger)

John Smith

John Smith was an alias the Doctor frequently used on Earth and around humans when a "standard" name was needed. It was often preceded by the title "Doctor", though not always — for example, when he was undercover as a teacher at a school or a patient in a hospital. (TV: School Reunion, Smith and Jones) During his first incarnation, he used a library card with the name Dr J. Smith while living at 76 Totter's Lane, (TV: The Vampires of Venice) as well as for identification when renting the junkyard. (PROSE: The Rag and Bone Man's Story) The inspiration for the alias was John Smith of John Smith and the Common Men, with which he was familiar through Susan. (PROSE: The Witch Hunters) In his second incarnation, the name was independently used by his companion Jamie McCrimmon (who would not have known of the Doctor's earlier use of the name) while the Doctor was being treated for concussion, as he saw it being used as a brand name on a metal container. (TV: The Wheel in Space) Later, the Doctor adopted it on a semi-regular basis during his third incarnation while exiled on Earth, when he served as unpaid scientific advisor to UNIT. (TV: Spearhead from Space, et al)

As "John Smith" was considered a generic name in some Earth cultures, the Doctor's use of the alias was occasionally treated with scepticism. (TV: Midnight)

The Doctor twice changed himself into a human who used the name John Smith. This occurred in his seventh incarnation (PROSE: Human Nature) and in his tenth. (TV: Human Nature/The Family of Blood)

Known uses of John Smith

Theta Sigma

Theta Sigma (ΘΣ), informally Thete, was a nickname of the Doctor at the Time Lord Academy on Gallifrey. (TV: The Armageddon Factor, The Happiness Patrol, COMIC: Flashback)

When the Doctor's final incarnation died for good during the first battle of the War, his coffin — which came to be known as the Relic — had the symbols for "Theta" and "Sigma" on it (PROSE: Alien Bodies).

In an alternative timeline in which Rassilon failed to finish the Eye of Harmony before his death, the Doctor never left Gallifrey and became a commentator rather than a renegade Time Lord. He was known as Commentator Theta Sigma. (AUDIO: Forever)

Theta Sigma was part of River Song's message to the Doctor on the universe's oldest cliff-face. (TV: The Pandorica Opens)

Doctor Who

The name Doctor Who was applied to the Doctor, intentionally or unintentionally, on many occasions.

Other aliases

The following is a list of aliases used by the Doctor in each of his incarnations.

First Doctor

Second Doctor

Third Doctor

This is actually the masculine, feminine, and neuter nominative forms of the relative pronoun "who", in Latin.

Fourth Doctor

Fifth Doctor

  • The Supremo: The Doctor called himself "the Supremo" while leading the alliance against the army of the renegade Time Lord Morbius. Originally, his title was "Supreme Controller", but the Ogrons of his personal guard could not pronounce it and shortened it to the simpler "Supremo". (PROSE: Warmonger)
  • Dr Jonas Smythe: The Doctor used this name when working with Liz Shaw in Italy. (PROSE: Flashpoint)
  • Doctor Walters: The Doctor used this name while stuck in Victorian London without his TARDIS for a year from November 1866 - 1867. (AUDIO: The Haunting of Thomas Brewster)

Sixth Doctor

Seventh Doctor

Eighth Doctor

War Doctor

Ninth Doctor

Tenth Doctor

Eleventh Doctor

Nicknames

A list of names other individuals have called the Doctor throughout his travels.

First Doctor

Second Doctor

Third Doctor

Fourth Doctor

Fifth Doctor

Sixth Doctor

Seventh Doctor

Eighth Doctor

War Doctor

  • Grandad: A nickname given by the Eleventh Doctor due to the War Doctor's aged appearance. (TV : The Day of the Doctor)
  • Captain Grumpy: A nickname given by the Eleventh Doctor due to the War Doctor's serious personality. (TV: The Time of the Doctor)

Ninth Doctor

Tenth Doctor

Eleventh Doctor

  • A Mad Man with a Box: A title Amy Pond bestows on him on their first encounter in 14 years, [disputed statement] [statement unclear] in which he later adopts. (TV: The Eleventh Hour)
  • The Raggedy Doctor: (also, Raggedy Man) A nickname given to the Eleventh Doctor by Amy Pond. Amy told other people in Leadworth and they referred to him in this way when they met him. (TV: The Eleventh Hour)
  • Gandalf/Space Gandalf: When questioned by Amy as to what he's like, the Doctor answers that he's this. (TV: Meanwhile in the TARDIS 2)
  • The Rotmeister: When he is talking to Craig Owens about the rot on his ceiling, he refers to himself as the "Rotmeister". "Call me the Rotmeister," he says, No, actually, don't call me that, call me the Doctor." (TV: The Lodger)
  • The Oncoming Storm: The Doctor called himself this when he misinterpreted one of Craig's football mates asking for help in "annihilating" another team. (TV: The Lodger) He later referred to himself as this when the Daleks forgot him. (TV: Asylum of the Daleks)
  • Caesar: A Roman Auton, under the influence of River Song's hallucinogenic lipstick, in 102 A.D., mistook the Doctor for Caesar. (TV: The Pandorica Opens)
  • The King of Okay: A title he gave to himself when Amy was shocked to see him alive and well, having seen his older self be shot and killed at Lake Silencio. He immediately tossed the idea aside, saying it was a "rubbish title", giving Rory his own title instead. (TV: The Impossible Astronaut)
  • Sweetie: Frequently used by River Song as a dual greeting and affectionate nickname.
  • My Thief, My Beautiful Idiot: Names given to the Doctor by the spirit of his TARDIS during their brief time together when House took over the empty shell. (TV: The Doctor's Wife)
  • Time Boy: Used by Mels, the second incarnation of River Song, as she anticipated meeting the Doctor while growing up with her parents in Leadworth. (TV: Let's Kill Hitler)
  • Belot'ssar: Though it is not said to be specific to the Eleventh Doctor, it was used by the Ice Warriors to refer to him. The name means 'cold blue star' in reference to either the light on top of the TARDIS or the cold blue star he showed them to settle near after Mars became uninhabitable. The name was given to him by Lord Azylax. (PROSE: The Silent Stars Go By)
  • Predator of the Daleks: Whilst not specific to the Eleventh Doctor, it was used as a designation by the Daleks. (TV: Asylum of the Daleks)
  • Chin-Boy: Oswin Oswald calls the Eleventh Doctor this when encountering him on the Dalek asylum. (TV: Asylum of the Daleks)
  • The Mad Monk: Called this by the public in 1207 Cumbria, although it was noted that he was "definitely not a Monk." (TV: The Bells of Saint John)
  • Also Not Mum: Called this by Alfie Owens in 2011. (TV: Closing Time)
  • Monster: Ada Gillyflower called the Doctor her monster, after he had been rejected by Mr Sweet's poison, and she kept him alive because it was strange that he survived despite rejection, and to have her own secret. (TV: The Crimson Horror)
  • Pro Consol: Alias used during his adventure at Hedgewick's World of Wonders to keep a punishment platoon from being hostile to him and his guests. (TV: Nightmare in Silver)
  • Clara's Boyfriend: Called this by Angie Maitland when she discovered Clara and the Doctor were time travellers (TV: The Crimson Horror) and upon leaving the TARDIS. (TV: Nightmare in Silver) He would later pose as Clara's Swedish boyfriend to her family. (TV: The Time of the Doctor)
  • Chinny: The Tenth Doctor's nickname for the Eleventh Doctor, who had a very prominent chin. (TV: The Day of the Doctor)

Other

Behind the scenes

  • The first edition of the behind-the-scenes book The Making of Doctor Who, published in 1972, stated that the Doctor's name was "δ³Σx²". This has never been confirmed in any Doctor Who narrative, but these letters do appear on the plinth in the Tomb of Rassilon in TV: The Five Doctors. They are also seen on K9's regeneration unit in TV: Regeneration.
  • During Comic-Con 2012, Steven Moffat, the head writer, has confirmed that he knows what the Doctor's real name is, although the said name has not, as of yet, appeared in-narrative.
  • In TV: The Night of the Doctor, the incarnation of the Doctor that follows the Eighth Doctor is referred to in the closing credits by the name "War Doctor." This name has yet to actually be used on screen. In an interview with the Daily Mail published on 16 November 2013, actor John Hurt used the name to refer to his version of the Doctor.[1]

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