The 7 biggest contradictions in Doctor Who canon

Who or what really created the Daleks? Is the Doctor really half-human? And how on Gallifrey does Jo Martin's character fit into Who lore?

3. How many regenerations has the Doctor actually had?

For younger fans only accustomed to the revived series, there’s already some confusion about how many doctors exist. That’s thanks to A) the War Doctor – effectively now the ninth reincarnation of the Doctor – introduced to the show for its 50th anniversary special, and B) the episode where David Tennant’s Doctor regenerates into himself. So when Jodie Whittaker was unveiled as the “13th Doctor”, she was actually the show’s 15th incarnation.


But the regeneration issue gets thornier if you consider Tom Baker-era tale The Brain of Morbius. In that serial, the Fourth Doctor engages Morbius (a Time Lord-turned-weird-robotic-bug-man) in a potentially deadly mind-bending contest, with some strange results.

As well as making the Doctor grapple with what looks like a giant zimmer frame, the fight causes several faces to appear on a screen behind the two: that of Tom Baker, followed by Jon Pertwee, then Patrick Troughton, William Hartnell and, very oddly, eight others, seemingly in period dress.

Doctor Who - Brain of Morbius
Doctor Who – Brain of Morbius

Was this battle supposed to reveal the previous incarnations of the Doctor before Hartnell? That was certainly the intention of Philip Hinchcliffe, producer at the time.

“I just reasoned that it was entirely possible that William Hartnell may not have been the First Doctor Who,” said Hinchcliffe. “So yes, as far as [writer] Bob [Holmes] and I were concerned, the other faces were meant to be past Doctors… it is true to say that I attempted to imply that William Hartnell was not the First Doctor.”

Whovians, however, have discounted this episode. After all, the first Doctor has labelled himself as “The Original” several times – including at the cliffhanger of Peter Capaldi’s The Doctor Falls. Plus, none of these previous incarnations turned up to help their future regenerations in the mega-multi-Doctor sequence in The Day of the Doctor.

So, although it’s certainly made The Doctor trip up on the show’s canon from time to time, for now Morbius has been swept under the Tardis rug.

4. Who or what created the Daleks?

Most fans will lay the blame at Davros’s door, the villainous scientist who meddled with the genetics of an anagram-friendly race known as the ‘Kaleds’. This memorable origin story was told in the classic series’ Genesis of the Daleks, in which Tom Baker’s Doctor is tasked with preventing the Daleks from ever being created. But in perhaps the most poignant moment of Doctor Who ever, the Doctor can’t bring himself to commit genocide – even with a species as deadly as the Daleks.

However, this story ignores a lot of previous canon. When they first appeared in the second ever Doctor Who story, the Daleks were described as evolving from Dals, not Kaleds. And instead of having a creator, The Doctor describes the Dals as a peaceful race who were poisoned by a harrowing neutronic war, thus forced to live life inside a robot shell. Granted, this serial established that the Dals came from Skaro – the same planet Davros is based on in Genesis – but the two stories simply don’t match.


Were the Daleks an accident or created? Probably because of how good the story is, most fans agree on the Genesis of the Daleks version of events. Theories have tried to exterminate contradictions by suggesting that the first Daleks we encountered were merely a rogue faction of the alien’s main race, but it’s not a question that’s been addressed by the show itself so far. So come on, Chris Chibnall: EXPLAIN! EXPLAAAIN!