Who Mysteries: The 9th Doctor’s Off-screen Adventures

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Guest contributor Shayne Collins looks into this Ninth Doctor mystery.

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Whovians have always been known as nitpickers. We analyze every detail, every facet of the show to discover all that we can about the enigmatic hero. Even after 49.83 years (as of the time of writing), we still know so little about the Doctor. We try to make all the little inconsistencies and contradictions line up in order to get an idea of who he really is. And it is with that spirit in mind, that I delve into a mystery that has existed since the very first episode of NuWho.

In Rose, the minor character of Clive shows Rose a series of pictures of the Doctor on adventures. He is seen at Kennedy’s assassination, before the launch of the Titanic, and the eruption of Krakatoa. The mystery begins when we think about these adventures. When in the Doctor’s timeline did they take place? Here I present my views on when the Doctor went on these mysterious voyages through time.

1. Before Rose

The first thought to come to mind is that these adventures simply happened before the Doctor met Rose. This of course seems like the most obvious solution. The Ninth Doctor knocked about the universe for a while until he landed in modern Britain hunting down the Nestene Consciousness. But there is one major issue with this idea: we are led to believe that Doctor has just regenerated. In Rose’s apartment, the Doctor looks in the mirror, notices his trademark ears, and says “Ah, could’ve been worse. Look at the ears.” This clearly implies that the Doctor is new in this body.

Now some have said that this is reading too much into this line. They would claim that he simply must not have looked at himself previously, or has forgotten what he looks like, or hasn’t seen a mirror for a while. But each of these seems like quite a stretch of the imagination, and very unlikely.  The logical implication of this is that he just regenerated recently, and therefore, “Clive’s adventures” cannot have taken place before the events of Rose.

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2. With Rose

So the next obvious solution to the mystery is that the Doctor and Rose went on these journeys later. At some point between Rose and Bad Wolf, they made these trips. We do know from various episodes (particularly Boom Town) that the two of them went on multiple untelevised trips, so couldn’t these few have been among them?

The answer to that question is no. Firstly, if Rose was present on these trips, then she would logically appear in Clive’s records and pictures. Now, one might argue that Rose intentionally or unintentionally kept herself out of these images, which is why she doesn’t appear in them, but that’s quite a logical leap to make. The Kennedy image came from a security camera or something similar- if Rose was present, there was no way she could have avoided being in it. So that seems to imply she was not around during these adventures. Secondly, in The End of the World, the Doctor mentions having been on the Titanic. So that adventure, at least, takes place before The End of the World, but, as we’ve already seen, after the events of Rose. So how on Gallifrey does this work out? What is the solution to the mystery?

3. During Rose

The answer may surprise many Whovians, but it’s actually a really fascinating one. The key to the mystery is very wibbly-wobbly, timey-wimey, and a bit clever in fact. Here’s what I believe happened: in the final scene of Rose, the Doctor asks Rose to journey with him, and she says no. At that point, the Doctor sadly leaves. For a while, the Doctor travels alone, visiting different places, going on various adventures. At some point, for some unknown reason, it hits him: he never told Rose the whole story of what the TARDIS can do. He never told her it can travel in time! He journeys back to one second after he left, opens the door, and says “Did I mention it can travel in time?” If we consider this idea, all the discrepancies disappear.  This explains when the Doctor went on these adventures, why Rose is not in the pictures, and how the Doctor’s “regeneration” line fits in. This answer to the mystery wraps everything up nicely.

Conclusion

Now, to many, this is no big deal. It’s a throwaway scene and a throwaway line, for crying out loud. Downton Abbey has contradictions in it, let alone a sci-fi time travel show that’s 50 years old! When we Whovians try to explain or understand every little detail, we look like absolute geeky madmen. Why should we even care?

Why? Because we are Whovians. This show has been important to us for 50 years. It is intelligent, inspiring, and fun. We love this show to the point that we want to know all that we can about it. We want to discover the mysteries it presents for us- even the one I’ve explained today. I hope you’ve enjoyed this first article of mine, and I hope you will feel free to criticize and post your own theorem in the comments below. Allons-y!

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