Doctor Who 101 – Terminology Behind Doctor Who

Before I publish my first official Doctor Who rewatching post, I thought it might be a good idea to talk about some of the terminologies within Doctor Who. I remember attending my first convention in 2013 and not knowing what a Dalek was. I saw it zooming around the convention having no idea what it was from. Doctor Who references are everywhere at conventions and I figured this guide might be interesting for those who may have heard these terms mentioned, but not know exactly what they are.

The Doctor

The Doctor is the main character in Doctor Who. The Doctor is a timelord from the planet Gallifrey. The Doctor travels through space and time-solving problems or stopping an evil alien species. I think what’s interesting about The Doctor is that The Doctor doesn’t have a gender. The Doctor exists and it’s not illustrated whether The Doctor is a man or a woman. This might be an incorrect statement since I haven’t watched the old Doctor Who series, but I have always thought of The Doctor as someone who exists rather than being a certain gender.

The Doctor travels on a TARDIS (Time And Relative Dimensions In Space) which I will explain a little bit more in a bit. Biologically speaking, The Doctor has two hearts versus one and has superhuman stamina which allows The Doctor to explore different planets with a variety of different atmospheres.


The TARDIS is the spaceship that The Doctor travels on. TARDIS is disguised as a blue telephone booth, so when it enters Earth’s atmosphere, it doesn’t look like a spaceship. The joke within the show is that it’s “bigger on the inside” meaning when companions see the TARDIS, they think it’s the size of the telephone booth when really there is a lot more room to move around. In Doctor Who merchandise, the TARDIS is featured quite a bit and I think is one of the main characteristics of the show.


Gallifrey is The Doctor’s home planet. It’s hinted that there was a war and Gallifrey may have been destroyed. This war is known as the Time War. When Gallifrey is brought up on the show, it often gives a glimpse into The Doctor as having survived something that’s violent and the trauma that comes with that. The Time War is a war that’s between the Time Lords and the Daleks, one of The Doctor’s most fearsome foes.


The Dalek is one of the most feared enemies in Doctor Who. It’s basically a robot with a toilet plunger as its eye. As a fun fact, the original Daleks were made of egg cartons and sink plungers. The Daleks come up a lot as each Doctor has had to confront the Dalek. While the Daleks seem a bit dorky, they are incredibly powerful. Their signature line is “Exterminate” as they say this every time they go to kill anything.


Companions are incredibly important in Doctor Who. The companions are humans, aliens, robots, or any other living being that travels with The Doctor. Each actor who has played The Doctor is often brought up based on the companions that they travel with. There’s Rose Tyler (played by Billie Piper) who traveled with the 9th Doctor (Christopher Eccleston) and the 10th Doctor (David Tennant). There’s Amy Pond (Karen Gillan) and Rory Wiliams (Arthur Darvill) who traveled primarily with the 11th Doctor (Matt Smith). Companions help keep The Doctor company by bringing their natural intelligence to help save the day.


Whenever The Doctor is wounded or old, The Doctor regenerates. This is how it’s explained when new actors or actresses play the role of The Doctor. Out of all the franchises that exist, Doctor Who may be the only one that has a way to explain new people playing the role that’s canon in the fandom. I think it’s rather creative. It shows how The Doctor has existed in many lifetimes and how each lifetime has certain companions or memories associated.

When The Doctor regenerates, The Doctor usually glows as a yellow beam explodes out of their body and they take on a new appearance with the new actor.

History Behind Doctor Who

Doctor Who is listed in the Guinness World Records as the longest-running science fiction television show in the world. The original Doctor Who show aired in 1963 and continued until 1989. The show was relaunched in 2005 and has been airing new episodes along with the announcement of Ncuti Gatwa as the new Doctor. With a show running as long as Doctor Who has, there’s so much history to explore.

One of the scandals or mishaps in Doctor Who are the mystery of the missing episodes. It’s assumed these episodes were deleted, but the reasons aren’t confirmed. It could have been because of a lack of storage or a lack of broadcasting rights. No one knows where these episodes are and it leaves some series of Doctor Who as being incomplete. I remember hearing about the missing episodes at Convergence when I attended a Doctor Who-themed panel. It’s something that’s worth referencing in this “Doctor Who 101″ post as you might hear someone bring it up.

I hope this helps! You may hear these being brought up with Doctor Who fans and now you know where they come from or at least a little bit more about Doctor Who in general. I hope to have my first post up with the first series of Doctor Who before the end of the year.

3 thoughts on “Doctor Who 101 – Terminology Behind Doctor Who

  1. Mariah… I remember a Convergence convention, on a Sunday, winding down, and a Gold Dalek was running around the front area of the hotel, and there was a family that had a young son, dressed up as Dr Who [4th – Tom Baker] and that Dalek and that Kid played hide and peek between the fixtures, such that fans gathered with their phones to record… It was a hoot… Such a great and enduring memory.


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