Little is known about the Doctor's early life. He was born and raised on the planet Gallifrey, a member of the Prydonian Chapter of Time Lords. He attended school on Gallifrey, and at the age of eight was exposed to the Untempered Schism, a rift in time, from which he fled in fear. His family life on Gallifrey is unclear. It is possible he had at least one sibling; his parentage is similarly mysterious. He was childhood friends with the Master. At some point in his life he stole a TARDIS and left Gallifrey, beginning centuries of adventure and travel through time and space, which often brought him to Earth.
The Doctor was created by Anthony Coburn and CE Webber, making his first appearance in the 1963 television serial "An Unearthly Child". He made his first appearance in comics in 1964's TV Comics #674, illustrated by Nigel Main and written by an unknown author.
The Doctor is capable of regeneration each time he is mortally wounded, and each regeneration has a distinct physical appearance, along with a distinctive personality. To date there have been eleven Doctors, each possessing similar characteristics, such as their intelligence and heroism, but each also displaying unique traits, such as Four's eccentricity or Eleven's enthusiasm.
Major Story Arcs
The First Trial
The Time Lords apprehend the Second incarnation of the Doctor and place him on trial for breaking the laws of time. The Doctor brings his various victories against the Daleks and Yeti to light however this is not enough as the Time Lords strip his mind of the knowledge necessary to operate the TARDIS and exile him to Earth as well as forcing him to regenerate into a new form.
The Doctor is warned that the Master, a criminal Time Lord and old enemy from Gallifrey, has escaped the planet and may be seeking revenge. This is proven true, and the pair have a number of encounters, during which the Doctor strands the Master on 20th century Earth for some time. Though the Master manages to escape, he is later captured by UNIT.
The Key to Time
At the request of a being called the White Guardian, the Doctor and two companions spend several episodes searching for the six parts of the Key to Time which have been scattered across time and space. They succeed, but break the key into its constituent parts and scatter them again due to the actions of the villainous Black Guardian. The Key is later destroyed due to the pieces causing dimensional decay in the areas they are located.
The Black Guardian
An alien name Turlough was exiled on Earth with no hope of escape until an offer by the Black Guardian to kill the Doctor (now in his fifth incarnation) in exchange he would return him home. The Doctor accompanied by Tegan and Nyssa arrived on Earth and were eventually joined by Turlough, who was determined to follow through on his plan, however the more time he spent with the Doctor and the Tardis crew he grew to see the Black Guardian for what he was, becoming conflicted about what action he should take. Eventually the White Guardian offered a warning to the Doctor, who had become embroiled in a game being played by the Eternals in the solar system, the prize of which was Enlightenment. It would be here that Turlough would make his final choice.
The Trial of a Time Lord
The Doctor is put on trial for his alleged transgressions against the laws of Gallifrey, specifically his contravention of non-intervention laws and, later, genocide. His past and future deeds were provided as evidence in this trial. During the trial he notices the evidence from the past and future appear to have been censored or tampered with. it is eventually revealed that this is due to the fact that the Doctor was a mere scapegoat, and evidence against him had been falsified by the Valeyard, an amalgam of his negative personality traits, and the Master. The Doctor defeats them and is acquitted.
The Last Great Time War
The Time War has never appeared, and has been featured only in reference. However, it has had an impact on all of the Doctor's incarnations following its conclusion.
During the war, which took place sometime between the Eighth and Ninth regeneration, the Doctor fought on the side of the Time Lords against the Daleks. The war ultimately concluded when the Doctor effectively destroyed both races, trapping the Time Lords in an endless time loop and exterminating most of the Daleks. This has left the Doctor with emotional and psychological scars.
The phrase "Bad Wolf" began appearing in various forms around the Doctor and his companion, Rose Tyler. This culminates with Rose absorbing the time vortex into herself in an effort to defeat the Daleks. She gains reality warping abilities, but containing the time vortex will prove ultimately fatal. The Doctor saves her by absorbing the vortex himself, which forces him to regenerate.
After the Doctor's encounter with Queen Victoria she creates a shady governmental organisation, going by the name "Torchwood", to track him. This culminates at Canary Wharf, where Torchwood are involved in accidentally facilitating a parallel universe Cybermen invasion of the main universe's Earth, as well as the war between the Daleks and the Cybermen. The Doctor is able to trap both warring parties in the Void. This has the unintended consequence of trapping his companion, Rose, on the parallel Earth.
In the power vacuum left behind in Britain after the Doctor contributed to the fall of the government of Harriet Jones a new candidate called Harold Saxon arises. Meanwhile, the Doctor travels to the distant future where his ship is stolen by the Master, who had fled there after being revived during the Time War. The Master is revealed to be Saxon, who seizes control of the entire world after being elected, and begins to construct a means to wage war against the rest of the universe, brutally oppressing the population of Earth in the process. He traps the Doctor for an entire year before he is freed by collective psychic energy. The Doctor is able to avert the war, but the Master dies in his arms, having been shot by his wife and refusing to regenerate.
The Medusa Cascade
It becomes clear that the bees have begun disappearing from all across Earth. As well, numerous planets and astronomical bodies have gone missing across the universe, with disappearances stretching far into the past. In the end the Earth itself is stolen by Davros, who intends to use it and the twenty-six other stolen planets to create a compression field that will destroy the entirety of reality.
Aided by most of his recent companions, he is able to defeat Davros' plan. However, in the process he is mortally wounded and almost forced to regenerate, which he prevents by channelling the energy into his own severed hand, which forms into a half-human clone of himself. He is also forced to abandon his latest companion, Donna, because she accidentally absorbs his knowledge, which is slowly killing her. He is able to save her life, but only if she loses all memory of him and never meets him again.
He Will Knock Four Times
The Doctor begins to encounter reminders of his own mortality, as well as numerous mysterious references to the return of something. This something is eventually revealed to be twofold: The Master is resurrected, and Gallifrey, which the Doctor had trapped in time just before its own destruction. The Time Lords trapped there are revealed to have been responsible for the Master's madness, and attempt to use him to draw themselves back into the timeline. They succeed, but the Master attacks in revenge and destroys all of them, himself included. The Doctor is then forced to sacrifice himself for Wilf, Donna's grandfather, who has become trapped in a radiation chamber. The Doctor receives a massive dose of radiation which spurs a protracted and painful death, resulting in his regeneration.
Cracks in the Universe
The Doctor begins to encounter cracks in the skin of the universe throughout his travels, as well as repeated warnings about the Pandorica and the Silence. Eventually he discovers the Pandorica is a trap designed by his enemies to prevent him from damaging the timestream. However, this damage is not directly caused by the Doctor, but by an exploding TARDIS. The Doctor is able to escape the Pandorica, and uses it and the exploding TARDIS to remake the universe.
The Death of the Doctor
The Doctor's companions, Rory and Amy, witness the death of a version of him from 200 years in the future. Disturbed, they do not tell him, though eventually he learns of it, and finds it is tied to the mystery of the Silence. He learns that the Silence is an order that wants to prevent him from answering a question that will cause silence to fall across the universe. The Doctor fakes his own death, as the death witnessed by Rory and Amy was a fixed point of time that could not be avoided, and returns to adventuring. The question that he must not answer, "Doctor who?", continues to plague him.
Powers and Abilities
The Doctor is a Time Lord, and so possesses all the traits inherent to his race. He has two hearts, and internally does not much resemble a human, though his exterior form, to date, always does. He has an extremely long lifespan that has been implied to theoretically last forever, and though his exact age has always been unclear due to his nature as a time traveller, he may be upwards of 900 years old, and could be over 1,100. He, like other Time Lords, is capable of regeneration: when faced with a mortal wound he can regenerate his whole body, restoring himself to perfect health. This has a side effect of altering his physical appearance and his personality, though he maintains a general continuity of identity.
He appears to possess increased stamina, and has been shown to withstand external damage, such as electricity and some types of radiation, that would kill a human. He possesses limited telepathic abilities that allow for the sharing of memories and some mental communication, particularly with other Time Lords. He is also a skilled hypnotist. He has the ability to perceive time, and can tell when he is able to alter the flow of events and when they must be allowed to occur, as well as an ability to see the past, present and future.
The Doctor is incredibly intelligent, and has displayed a facility for science, medicine, and music, among others. He is also skilled at physical pursuits such as football, cricket, and boxing. He is capable of speaking some five billion languages, though that number might be enhanced by the translation circuits of the TARDIS which communicate with him telepathically. He can also read a number of these languages, including Old High Gallifreyan, which is a rare ability even among Time Lords. He is a quick talker and a skilled strategist, though this ability has waxed and waned across various regenerations. He disapproves of most weaponry, especially guns, though has shown himself capable of using it successfully when the need arises.
Equipment and Weapons
The Doctor is in possession of a number of items of Gallifreyan technology that aid him. Notable among these are his TARDIS (Time And Relative Dimension[s] In Space), a space-time vehicle that he uses to travel through time, and also to teleport or fly from place to place. He possesses a Type 40 TARDIS, which he stole, and which was quite obsolete by the time the Time War destroyed Gallifrey.
Its malfunctioning chameleon circuit means that it is stuck as a 1950s-era British police box, though if it were working correctly it would be able to assume any shape that would help it blend in with the time period. It is bigger on the inside than it is on the outside; the exterior tends to be quite small, while the inside is gigantic, and contains several large rooms.
He also has a sonic screwdriver, which is a multi-purpose sonic tool that performs numerous functions including triangulation, multipurpose cutting and reattachment, and the operation of numerous kinds of machinery, among other capabilities. He also has a Chameleon Arch, which allows him to rewrite his DNA and hide away his Time Lord personality, should the need arise.
In Other Media
A different version of the character, one who is human and actually called Doctor Who, appears in the films Dr Who and the Daleks and Daleks' Invasion Earth: 2150 AD. He is played by Peter Cushing.
The Doctor's adventures have appeared in numerous novels. There are also numerous audiobooks and audio plays available. The BBC's lack of a canon policy means there is no ruling one way or another how the books, audios, and comics fit in with the show.
Spoofs and Charity Productions
There have been numerous spoofs of Doctor Who, as well as several charity productions that feature the character. They have appeared on television, radio, film, print media, music, and stage.
Seven Keys to Doomsday
The Doctor must stop the Daleks from taking over the universe. He is played by Trevor Martin.
Doctor Who- The Ultimate Adventure
The Doctor must rescue an American envoy from the Daleks and the Cybermen, who have kidnapped him.
Doctor Who Live
A live, semi-interactive arena show featuring numerous characters from throughout Doctor Who's history, and featuring Matt Smith as the Eleventh Doctor.
Originally created for the British television series Doctor Who, the Doctor has appeared in the series for several decades, from 1963 to the present, with a break between 1989 and 2005. He has, to date, been portrayed by twelve actors. In order, these are William Hartnell, Patrick Troughton, Jon Pertwee, Tom Baker, Peter Davison, Colin Baker, Sylvester McCoy, Paul McGann, Christoper Eccleston, David Tennant, Matt Smith and Peter Capaldi.
The Sarah Jane Adventures
The Eleventh Doctor appears in the two-part series 4 episode "Death of the Doctor".
The Doctor has appeared in a number of video game incarnations.