A while back, Tim Harvey and I had an interesting discussion on an episode of H2O about the possibility of the Doctor on Doctor Who being half human. The idea of the Doctor being half human and half Gallifreyan came originally from the 1996 made for TV movie appropriately titled Doctor Who (alternatively titled The Enemy Within). Since then, the idea has mostly been ignored by those in charge of the franchise. Many might disagree, just as Mr. Harvey did. But I still contend that the Doctor is part human.
First, let’s take a look at the evidence that leads me to my conclusion. Then we’ll put the pieces all together.
In the Doctor’s own words — First of all, there’s the aforementioned statement by the Doctor about being half human on his mother’s side. Sure, this was to set up a potential storyline if the TV movie did well and was made into a Fox series, which didn’t happen. But it was said, and the movie is accepted as canon. There was a scene with Ten (David Tennant) in which he briefly mentioned it, pretty much blowing it off. (“Well, there was this one time back in 1999 …”) But the scene never aired, and thus, is not canon. There have been attempts in novels to explain that the Eighth Doctor was half human, but the others weren’t. Seriously?
Stolen TARDIS — Next, we have the stolen TARDIS. Wait … the Doctor is a Time Lord. And he had to
steal borrow a TARDIS and never get around to returning it? How many other Time Lords are without a TARDIS? What is the point of being a Time Lord then? Especially for someone from a wealthy and privileged family (if that’s correct).
A lonely childhoood — In the episode “The Girl in the Fireplace”, Madame du Pompadour read the Doctor’s mind and commented on his lonely childhood. There has, so far, been no real explanation as to why his childhood was so lonely other than that he didn’t quite fit in.
Susan Foreman — Then there’s his (we assume biological) granddaughter. When Gallifreyans tend to have cool names like Corsair or Rassilon and choose nicknames like The Doctor or The Master, she went by the clearly English name Susan Foreman.
Clara read his name — In the episode “Journey to the Centre of the TARDIS”, Clara Oswald was in the library where there was a book containing the Doctor’s real name. When the timeline was reset at the end, she had never read it, sure. But in that one alternate reality, she did. The TARDIS doesn’t translate Gallifreyan.
Preference toward humans and Earth — Does it seem strange that the Doctor would most predominantly have humans as his companions? And does it seem strange that the planet he seems to visit (and save) most often is Earth? Perhaps it’s just that we aren’t shown the other adventures, which is true. We hear references but never see them. But then again, there is a serious lack of references to off-world companions, and even companions of nationalities other than British. True, the TARDIS siphons off energy in Cardiff. But that still doesn’t explain his frequent trips to London. And there are other places in the universe to siphon off energy.
Knowledge of Earth history — The Doctor has been around throughout time and space for a long time. So it should come as no surprise that he knows a bit about Earth’s history. On the other hand, he knows so much about Earth’s history in depth while seemingly not quite as much on other worlds. Sure, he knows a thing or two about civilizations on other planets. But it doesn’t seem as much as on a certain blue orb.
The Master’s statement — And then there’s a statement made by the Master in the episode “Last of the Time Lords”. The Master, when referring to the Toclafane, seemed to believe that it was somehow the Doctor’s dream to have a race that’s half human, half Time Lord. Yet there is nothing the Doctor has ever said or done to indicate any such desire. Was this something completely from out of left field, or maybe something more? A statement of prejudice, perhaps?
Running all his life — The Doctor talked about when children are eight years old, they are made to stare into the Untempered Schism. Some are inspired, some run away, and others are driven mad. The Master was driven mad. The Doctor ran away, and he “never stopped”. So the Doctor is still running away from the Untempered Schism? Or is it something else he’s running from? Could it be related to what he ran from as a child when he ran away from school and hid in the barn in the episode “Listen”? It’s also the same barn he returned to as the War Doctor to destroy Gallifrey.
The Meta-Crisis Doctor — Okay, I admit that this one is a bit of a stretch. The Meta-Crisis Doctor is a seemingly fully human version of the Tenth Doctor. He has only one heart and no ability to regenerate. He is the result of an aborted regeneration. The story is that supposedly there was a DNA exchange when Donna came into contact with the Doctor’s severed hand. And supposedly, this created the Meta-Crisis Doctor and Doctor Donna. Donna had to have her memory wiped since her new found Time Lord intellect was too much for a human mind to handle. There wasn’t a physiological change that sufficiently allowed for the increased brain power. But yet there was a radical physiological change in the second Doctor? Or was his new personality and mentality affected by Donna (just as vice versa) and the human nature a result of the aborted regeneration of a half human?
So what does all this add up to? Let’s interpret the evidence to look at why I believe the Doctor is half human.
1 ) The Doctor grew up with many of those around him knowing he was half human. Not all, but many. As such, he didn’t fit in with others his age. He was an outcast among his peers who would tease and make fun of him, and associated mostly with other oddballs (like The Master). And he was psychologically influenced by the knowledge of being part “inferior” human. This is why the Doctor barely passed at the academy on his second try.
2 ) The Doctor looked into the Untempered Schism as a child and ran away. And he’s never stopped running. Perhaps looking into that vortex overwhelmed the mind of a child that felt insecure and inferior as it was. Perhaps what he is still running from to this day is himself.
3 ) The Doctor likely grew up with another nickname, hiding his real name from even his peers. He hid his real name so well that it could be used as a password that only he and the most trusted of his associates would know (such as River Song). Spoken in the right places at the right times, his name could be used to unleash occurrences from live-saving events to universal catastrophes. One of the key elements that makes his name so secure (and bothers him so much) is that it’s not even Gallifreyan. It’s human, most likely English (therefore allowing Clara to read it in the TARDIS library).
4 ) Eventually, the Doctor had at least one child, and at least one grandchild. Youths sometimes like to embrace things that set them apart from their peers. Perhaps his granddaughter chose to embrace the fact that she’s at least one-eighth human and called herself Susan (taking “Foreman” from a sign located near where the TARDIS was parked in “The Unearthly Child”).
5 ) What do you do when you’re a Time Lord and still can’t get a TARDIS because they won’t give one to a half breed? Steal one, of course!
6 ) The nature of his regeneration from Seven to Eight was such that he had trouble remembering who he even was for a bit. In his compromised mental state, he ended up blurting out his greatest secret without thinking. Luckily for him, it didn’t have lasting negative consequences.
7 ) When someone is of two backgrounds, that person doesn’t usually fit in both places. One tends to be a bit of an outcast in both. When the Doctor is around other Time Lords, he can’t help but feel human by comparison. But by visiting Earth and hanging out with humans, it makes him feel more Gallifreyan.
I believe that the Doctor is half human. But that doesn’t make him less Gallifreyan or less of a Time Lord. Rather, it has made him into something greater. Constantly trying to prove himself to himself has led him to step out of being a normal, average “observational” Time Lord, and become the one who has saved civilizations, planets, galaxies, and even the universe again and again. The Doctor is also the only one of the Time Lords to single-handedly end the Time War and save all of Gallifrey.
At some point, I would like to see the Doctor admit and embrace his half-humanity as one of his greatest assets. Now I have no quarrel with the possibility that the Doctor is actually full-blooded Gallifreyan. I just don’t think that’s the case.
Do you agree? Disagree? Let us know in the Comments below!