I must admit, I’ve spent too much time ruminating over the Doctor’s name…
Let me back up and start from the beginning.
Recently the long-running British sci-fi Doctor Who ended the sixth season of its rebooted existence. In the last episode (The Wedding of River Song), it was revealed that the next major story arc would be centered on a question. It was said to be the oldest question, and one hidden in plain sight. And this question would be answered one day, despite the efforts of very powerful people in the plot line to prevent that answer from being given.
I should mention that ever since the beginning of the series the Doctor’s name has never actually been revealed (which, if you ask me, is quiet a feat). After years of being made fun of by my family for my interest in the series, I should have guessed what it was, but the full effect of the pun hit me at the end of the episode when that question was revealed to be “Doctor who?” (which is exactly what my family would ask me every time I mentioned the series). The point is pretty clear: we’re going to learn the Doctor’s name. This is coming all the way from the first episode, and it really is one of the first questions of the series. In the first episode, An Unearthly Child, the Doctor is content to be mistaken in his identity by a couple of school teachers. We got a nickname in the old series, Theta Sigma, as he was identified by one of his old Time Lord classmates from the Academy. The closest we’ve ever gotten to his actual name is in writing on an old crib that was the Doctor’s… but the writing was in ancient Gallifreyan (Time Lord language).
It’s a pretty clever path for the writers to take, but one fraught with peril: if they don’t pick a really really good name to reveal, it will be pretty disappointing. I realize that the writers probably have this all planned out, but I figured I’d chip in my two cents (or sixpence, if I wanted to be at all geographically relevant) to either claim that I was right or advise writers on what they need to think about. So, without further ado, I present my ten best guesses for the Doctor’s name… mind you, I’m not serious about all of them.
10. John Jacob Jingleheimer Schmidt
The Doctor could never have a very serious name anyway. The fact of the matter is, with such a short title, I think he needs a rather long name, and this just seems to do it. Besides, it’s got the effect of having everyone seriously identify with the Doctor. They can all say it’s their name too!
If you don’t understand this, let me explain – in music there are times when one part plays nothing in one movement. So the musician simply sits there and does nothing but breathe for the entire piece. These movements usually have the word “tacit” at the top of them. Think of it as a silent letter (like the “g” in “feign” or the “b” in “dumb”). So, why not have the Doctor’s name be a string of silent letters? It could be a very nimble sidestep from actually having to reveal a name, much to the consternation of those who really really really enjoy the mystery of this regenerating time traveler.
Okay, maybe this is juvenile, but hey, let’s face it – there is a faction out there (calling themselves the Silence) which is hellbent on preventing anyone from naming the Doctor. That’s right… he who must not be named. And, just to top things off, both of them are British series. As you can tell, I’m still not to the serious ones yet.
To be fair, he actually considers himself something like Gandalf (per a deleted scene from the sixth season). And if we wanted to be super nerdy about it, his name might even be Olórin, his original Ainur name.
6. Tom Bombadil
Since I was on the Lord of the Rings bandwagon, I thought I’d ride it to the end of the line. Mind the gap. Tom Bombadil is in many ways, a parallel character. We know little about him, and he seems to last forever. But even more compelling is the fact that Bombadil doesn’t seem to worry about too much and is a little eccentric. Now if only he had a nice blue box to take him and his companion Goldberry across the universe…
Based purely upon visual evidence from the baby crib, I have also surmised that his name could in fact be Google. Every time that there is a holiday, Google manages to create its name out of different shapes and images. As you can see my personally modified version of the Doctor’s name in Gallifreyan script, it seems pretty obvious to me that Google has managed yet another feat of product placement. And if not, I highly encourage them to post this as their Google image on the day that the Doctor’s name is revealed.
- One of the few depictions of Prometheus that don’t have a bird eating his liver.
Without all the liver eating by an eagle of course, I think that the Doctor’s position is quite similar to that of the Greek god. He is very much a guardian of mankind, protecting Earth and bringing the secrets of time travel to humanity (like some sort of Time Lord fire that will revolutionize our civilization). In addition, like Prometheus, he was exiled from his home and forced to live a lonely life in penance for his involvement with the rest of the universe. And considering that there are often parallels between mythologies and sci-fi shows, I think it’s not that far-fetched. Maybe the Master was Aries.
*Warning: from this point forward it’s highly probable that unless you actually watch Doctor Who, you won’t understand a single thing*
3. I.M. Foreman
Okay, now I’m getting serious. This image is from the very first episode, and it is the gate to a junkyard where the Doctor’s time traveling machine was first encountered by humans (of course, “first” is relatively hard to establish with time travel in the mix). But it seems a pretty good theory, that the circumstances around the Doctor really did say who he was. In the alternative, the I.M. could stand for the actual alien name of his. But I think that if anyone wants to argue that it means the Doctor’s name is “I Am,” I would definitely have a problem with that. I think everyone would firmly be of the opinion that the Doctor is not God – he has been far from perfection for the entire series, and I’m not sure if it would go over well with many fans.
The Doctor could actually be one of his recurring enemies, Omega, another Time Lord who invented black holes. Or at the very least a copy of Omega (or maybe the other Omega is a copy of him?). The problem is that Omega was shunted off into an anti-matter universe when he created the black hole that initiated Time Lord time travel technology and has been stuck there ever since. The only thing that continues his existence is his own force of will.
Even in all of this there is perfect irony and a great setup for it all. In previous episodes such as The Three Doctors and Arc of Infinity, Omega had endeavored to trap the Doctor in the anti-matter universe and sustain it or assume the Doctor’s form to return to our universe. The Doctor had defeated him twice to keep him from doing so. Even later, in Remembrance of the Daleks the Doctor had apparently been hiding the Hand of Omega (a stellar manipulation device) from the Daleks. This was all very near the time when the First Doctor (played by William Hartnell) had first left Earth.
Why would the Doctor have the Hand of Omega? Wasn’t it supposed to be some powerful artifact that should be locked away in a vault on Gallifrey beneath the Citadel instead of shoved into a random graveyard on Earth? Even beyond that, why could the Doctor voice command the device? I think it’s because the Doctor is Omega, not just a caretaker of his technology.
Even the Seventh Doctor in the actual episode had said “we” when he was describing having problems with stellar engineering using the hand. His companion, Ace, asked him about the use of “we” but the Doctor quickly diverted it to “my people,” referring to the Time Lords. I think there’s more there.
Even later, in the End of Time, the Doctor personally recognizes Rassilon, the Lord President of the Time Lords. Of course, this may be as easily explained as the fact that the Doctor was on Gallifrey during the Time War, but it could also be that he was actually acquainted with Rassilon. How does the Doctor know so much about early Time Lord history?
The last thing I’ll mention is this: like the anti-matter Omega, the Doctor is alive now simply because he refuses to give up. He runs from his own death for two-hundred years before he chooses to go to Lake Silencio. And even then, we all know that the writers didn’t shoot themselves in the foot and end the Doctor’s existence.
This all leads me to my final and number one pick for the Doctor’s name…
Bingo boys and girls – the Doctor is the founder of Time Lord society himself.
I completely understand if you all disagree, but it’s a great choice for the writers if they choose it. Some of you may argue, “How could the Doctor cross his own time stream without becoming a problem?” First I’d say you’re as nerdy as me, and then I’d say that it’s been done before, even with the Doctor…
Remember these guys? That’s right, they’re both versions of the Doctor with his darkest qualities ramped up to extreme levels. But I agree there are other problems to solve. Such as, why don’t people know that he is Rassilon (like Borusa, Romana, Rodan, etc.)? For the simple fact that even the Doctor doesn’t know that he is actually Rassilon perhaps.
Think of it as a ontological paradox (a self-supporting fact of existence, like a piece of paper that came from the future and goes back in time again to become that same paper – question is, where did that paper come from in the first place?). The Doctor may have been named Rassilon, in honor of that Time Lord, the only one to be named after Rassilon. And then at some point in the future he will go back in time and assure the existence of the Time Lords.
Or maybe it’s been that he was Rassilon all along, and he’s simply been through so many regenerations he doesn’t remember all that he’s done as Rassilon. But he does remember just his name, and having been regenerated to a baby, others didn’t know he was Rassilon. So in that case, maybe the Master is Omega?
The point is, it could work, especially with a thousand explanations for time travel paradoxes. In either case, the titanic struggle between the Doctor and the Master would still exist, and in whatever combination that would occur, it would be amazing. Either the Doctor opposes Rassilon, himself, or Rassilon who is actually the Master. Remember that the Master was in the very act of destroying Rassilon in the End of Time, much like the Valeyard was bent on killing the Doctor in Trial of a Time Lord.
In summary, I think that the writers have a great choice to make, and I hope they choose well. I’ll be waiting for Silence to fall sometime in the future… or is it the past?