The Mysteries of The Name of the Doctor

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Guest contributor Jenny P tries to make sense of a few of the unanswered questions.

I recently rewatched The Name of the Doctor for the fourth or fifth time and noticed some things that many of you may or may not have noticed. Here they are, along with some of my thoughts – which may be useless, but I always find it fun:

River, River, River…

the name of the doctor promo batch b (25)While she was alive, River must have somehow been to Trenzalore during and after the battle to know that the Doctor came before the battle on the site and needed a door to his tomb – which she then put there, a grave with her (chosen) name. Most likely she put it there after the battle, or otherwise it would have been destroyed or damaged during the battle, or not be as well situated in the graveyard, next to the other graves and with a view on the dead TARDIS (which is why Clara and the Doctor stopped there during the episode).


tardis-window-crack-name-of-the-doctorThe broken window of the TARDIS, which broke when she fell on Trenzalore, is visible on the dead and gigantic TARDIS, meaning that it is not repaired before the battle of Trenzalore; or maybe it cannot be repaired? Also, the dead TARDIS’ control room is the current one (i.e. the current-second-half-of-Series 7 desktop) which may mean that:

  • The Doctor will go to Trenzalore pretty soon
  • It was just easier when filming the episode
  • The TARDIS is showing the desktop the current Doctor is expecting to see – time is leaking after all
  • When the TARDIS died it used an archived desktop as its last for some reason or another. A bit tough to swallow, but given the right reason, why not?

Little continuity issue which could shed some light on this: in The Doctor’s Wife, the TARDIS says that she saved some 30 control rooms/desktops, including many that haven’t happened yet (30 minus dozen minus current one = 17 desktops to come).

11 faces

The Ending of The Name of the Doctor (SPOILERS)When Clara and the Doctor are together in the Doctor’s timeline, Clara says that she saw all his faces – 11 (!!) faces for the 11th Doctor. But if this is his “body” after death then the 12th, 13th etc. Doctors should also be there. I gave some thought to this one, and finally came up with 5 possible explanations:

 A. Clara is the boss

Clara knows she shouldn’t talk about the Doctor’s future incarnations to him and therefore doesn’t, even if she saw them (and potentially saved them from the Great Intelligence). Little issue, to me: she is not exactly in a healthy place at that time, all dizzy and ready to faint, can she really think that far? Maybe, yes, considering that she just saw all his life and saved him a million times by then.

Still: why is the dead TARDIS with the current desktop?

B. The need for a link?

name-of-the-doctor-clara-tennantClara’s link with the current Doctor means that she can only see the Doctor’s previous and current 11 faces, not the next ones, and not the ones who are not the Doctor. As a proof of that, maybe, the fact that she didn’t see John Hurt as the Doctor-Who-Broke-the-Promise (although she spent a lot of time in there) before the Doctor came in to find her. In this case, the other Doctors may also be there but we just didn’t see them. Again: why is the TARDIS’ desktop the current one?

Also, side question: was the Great Intelligence able to see and hurt the future Doctors? Since he has no particular link to any specific Doctor and even knows his future – or some form of it –, is it possible that he could see the future Doctors when Clara couldn’t? If yes, then Clara could not protect the future Doctors against the GI when she jumped in…

C. A decision or a plothole

The absence of future Doctors and the change of the TARDIS’ control room desktop wasn’t thought of, or was considered to be too complex to deal with, when writing or directing, and it is a (voluntary) plothole. This is compatible with explanations a and b.

D. Not likely, right? Let’s fear it but not believe it…

The 11th Doctor dies very soon in Trenzalore, and there is no 12th Doctor – and therefore no changing TARDIS, no future Doctors… But good news, this goes against what has been published or said, including by Steven Moffat himself. Plus Peter Capaldi is referred to as the 12th Doctor.

E – He breaks the promise, again

john-hurt-doctor-name-finale-revealThe 11th Doctor-Who-Keeps-the-Promise, and the TARDIS, go and die soon at the battle of Trenzalore, and some other form of the man we know goes wandering off without the TARDIS and without the Doctor’s name: he breaks the promise, again, and survives as someone else, never to be the Doctor again. And like John Hurt, his future incarnation(s) are not very present in the timeline since they are not the Doctor.

Problem here: the scar tissue in the TARDIS is the Doctor’s and nobody else’s (the Great Intelligence hurts him and changes his and the universe’s past, Clara goes saving him inside his timeline, etc). If this body is the Doctor’s then he cannot be alive with another shape somewhere else, right?

Or  – Could it be that the body is indeed the last trace of this Time Lord, but that after becoming the non-Doctor again, he left, died elsewhere, and was brought back and buried there for some reason – such as the need to have him there to leave the past unchanged?

Could this be that this is his body, but as the new non-Doctor he goes living without it, without these memories, past, and scars; a new man reborn in a new body, maybe not even a time-traveller?

Some additional thoughts

If we consider that the Doctor will go to the battle of Trenzalore soon (again, considering the TARDIS’ control room), could it be, somehow, that this battle is not the death of the Doctor but another false-death where the Doctor goes for the fight and fakes his death?

As such, we could devise some 6th explanation combining, for instance, explanations a and e, where Clara saw the future Doctors but didn’t talk about them, and the Doctor is going to the battle of Trenzalore very soon but doesn’t die nor change into a non-Doctor there, but goes off living and time-travelling, and will be buried there many many years later, in the TARDIS, with the control room she had when they went into battle, on top of the mountain (so River can put her grave at the right place), because he knows he has to be…

Finally (and maybe killing all discussion), Clara could have seen the future Doctors and the Doctor may just not go to Trenzalore soon, but in years in the future, to die there with the TARDIS who may then be showing an archived control room at the end because she is dying and broken…

Thank you for reading this article. Do you have other thoughts on these matters?