Is The Doctor From Gallifrey? ‘Doctor Who’ Lore Retcon, Explained

Doctor Who has begun anew for its 60th anniversary, with the immortal series relaunching on Disney Plus internationally as David Tennant returns as the Doctor, shortly followed by Ncuti Gatwa’s incarnation of the time-traveling hero.

Although the trilogy of anniversary specials feature kisses to the past and key new legacy characters, they’re very much accessible to those who perhaps haven’t watched the show since the OG Tennant tenure or maybe only have a casual understanding of Who lore. For example, if you’ve ever dipped into the series, you’ll know that the Doctor is a Time Lord from the planet Gallifrey. It’s not like that’s changed in recent seasons, is it?

Well, actually, it’s a lot like that. Special 2, “Wild Blue Yonder,” contains what is either a reminder of this controversial storyline or a bombshell for those that haven’t been keeping up. So let’s clear up some of the cosmically confusing questions this raises…

The Doctor’s home planet isn’t actually Gallifrey

Image via BBC

In “Wild Blue Yonder,” the Doctor (Tennant) and Donna (Catherine Tate) are trapped on a derelict spaceship marooned on the edge of the universe where two incorporeal entities impersonate the pair of them, leading to a body-horror “who’s who?” scenario that’s straight out of The Thing. At one point, the Doctor and Donna quiz each other to deduce if they’re really them.

This leads to the Doctor saying his homeworld is Gallifrey, to which Donna responds, “Except… it isn’t.” Outing herself as the fake, Not Donna riles up the Doctor by prodding the point further, “You don’t know where you’re from,” she says.

It’s true. In what is quite comfortably the most controversial Doctor Who episode in its 60-year history, 2020’s “The Timeless Children” saw Jodie Whittaker’s Doctor learn the truth about her origins. The Doctor was originally a foundling, a child who fell through a tear in reality from an unknown other time or place and ended up on Gallifrey. The child that became the Doctor was a unique being who could regenerate themselves at the point of death. A Gallifreyan scientist, the Doctor’s adoptive mother, Tecteun, experimented on the Timeless Child and spliced the regenerative ability into her own people, thereby creating the Time Lords.

In short, the Doctor isn’t just a Time Lord, but the first Time Lord and their true home planet and species remains a mystery. Naturally, retconning a backstory that’s been established for decades left fans furious, and when showrunner Chris Chibnall exited alongside Whittaker, it was widely assumed this shocking plotline would be quietly swept under the rug and never referenced again. Well, how wrong we were.

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