Doctor Who: The 10 Best Alternative Universe Doctors

Categories: Doctor Who

Shalka Doctor: Another alternative Ninth Doctor was played by Richard E. Grant in "Scream of the Shalka" was a one-off flash-animated special celebrating the show's 40th anniversary. It was produced by Cosgrove Hall and broadcast on the official BBC Doctor Who website. It's one of the few officially recognized animated outings for The Doctor, and it's also by far the best. In it The Doctor saves a small sleepy town from aliens that haunt it, inspiring terror with their screams.

To get a glimpse of the Shalka Doctor you have only to imagine Grant as The Great Intelligence. He brings much of the same snideness to the role, but uses that same powerful expression tempered with an iron kindness. Interestingly enough, The Master is his companion, having been implanted into a robot body in order to earn atonement. Plans were made to expand the six-part serial into a full-length film, but were scrapped when the reboot series was greenlit.

See also: Doctor Who: A Regeneration FAQ

The Valeyard: The only alternative Doctor to appear in the series proper (Unless I'm right about the Hurt Doctor) is The Valeyard played by Michael Jayston during the Sixth Doctor's time. Unknown to the Time Lords, the Valeyard was a future incarnation of The Doctor seeking to frame his past self for crimes and ultimately execute him in a plot to steal his regenerations.

The Valeyard is one of the biggest headaches when it comes to establishing the canon of Doctor. Though name-dropped in "The Name of the Doctor" there is no telling if he is some sort of concrete destiny for The Doctor, or merely a possible one. Regardless, he represents the darkest parts of The Doctor, and one of the reasons he says, "Good men don't need rules... today is not the day to find out why I have so many."

Exile Doctor: Before Peter Capaldi was announced as the Twelfth Doctor the biggest topic for debate was whether or not we would finally get a non-white or (Gasp!) a female Doctor. The thing is, we've already had a female Doctor. Not only that, she was an American!

Or at least Arabella Weir was born in America. She played another of the Unbound Doctors in audio stories, "Exile." Her Doctor was on the run from the Time Lords, and had recently regenerated into a female after her previous incarnation committed suicide. Her Doctor is one of the most melancholy of all the Doctors, frequently drunk and hiding in exile on Earth to escape pursuit from Gallifrey. She was prone to talking to her past selves while drinking. Nonetheless, when called to act she too stood against evil.

The Other There are hints that The Doctor is more than a Time Lord, more than even the last of the Time Lords. During the Seventh Doctor's run script editor Andrew Cartmel began to lay seeds throughout Seasons 25 and 26 for something called Cartmel's Masterplan that would establish The Doctor as one of the three godlike figures that founded Time Lord society.

The Masterplan never came to fruition on television, but parts of it survived in the New Adventure line of novels. If you only ever pick up one Doctor Who novel make sure it's Lungbarrow. The book offers strikingly different looks on what we currently know of Gallifreyan society, and strongly connects The Doctor to this mysterious and powerful figure from the planet's past. The Other is also mentioned in the novelization of "Remembrance of the Daleks," where text reveals that The Other may not even have been from Gallifrey at the beginning. If he is indeed a Doctor, this could finally resolve the hint the Eighth Doctor dropped that he was half-human on his mother's side and explain his affection for Earth.

On the other hand... maybe it's just one more story amidst the thousands that surround The Doctor wherever and whenever he goes.

Jef has a new story, a tale of headless strippers and The Rolling Stones, available now in Broken Mirrors, Fractured Minds. You can also connect with him on Facebook.

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The Doctor may or may not be the Other even by implication.

The strong implication is that they are genetically identical and that the Doctor is a clone/reincarnation/avatar of the Other, depending on what you believe about the nature of the Other. On
ce you dig down into the history of Gallifrey a bit and learn the distinction between "Gallifreyan" and "Time Lord" (and draw on some sources of questionable canonicity even from authors intimately connected with the series, much like Marc Platt's /Lungbarrow/) there's a weaker implication that the proper relationship is "avatar", precisely like that between Vishnu and Krishna. 

The Other was part of the founding Triumvirate credited with modern Gallifreyan society; between them, they created all the technology and possibly some of the biology (like the Rassilon Imprimatur) that make the Time Lords distinct from their origins as Gallifrey's native population, including TARDISes. Most of the credit usually goes to Rassilon and Omega, with only a few obscure mentions like the holiday "Otherstide" acknowledging their third and mostly-silent partner. Rassilon and Omega have both appeared in the show; the Other never has, or at least not explicitly. However, Susan is actually the Other's granddaughter, the last (or one of the last) child born on Gallifrey before the curse of the Pythia made natural conception and childbirth impossible and the Looms were created as a workaround to generate new Time Lord children. The Doctor simply adopted her as his own granddaughter when they fled Gallifrey together.

SPOILERS BELOW for Lungbarrow, several other questionable-canonicity stories, and maybe the current TV series.
Rassilon, Omega, and the Other are presented as essentially mortal gods from outside our space/time -- "gods" because they are able to create astonishing devices and perform amazing feats like creating black holes made-to-spec and balancing them against on-demand triggered supernovas for near-infinite energy sources, "mortal" because both Rassilon and Omega do some nasty things in the name of dodging death. Rassilon does some crazy shit in his quest for immortality, possibly becoming a vampire per references to "perpetual bodily regeneration" -- and, by some accounts, creating the regenerative process for Time Lords as a byproduct of his studies of vampires -- and may even have caused the Time Lock and perpetuation of the Time War rather than allow any outcome that would cause his death. The Other abandoned him rather than assist him in atrocities, an the Doctor has repeatedly defeated him, banished, him, and so on -- but never quite, it seems, permanently. Omega ends up a lonely lunatic living semi-eternally in an antimatter dimension, kept alive as a disembodied being of pure will by sheer force of that will. The Other... just kind of disappears, possibly in an act of suicide that distributes his genetic material into the Time Lords' gene pool in an infinite-monkeys-with-infinite-artificial-wombs last gambit.

However, some interpretations of the novel /Human Nature/, which was adapted into canon as the "Human Nature / The Family of Blood" two-parter, suggests that the Other is actually a Victorian-era human who invented a time machine, learned amazing stuff on his human travels, and ended up on primitive Gallifrey at the right time to join up with Rassilon and Omega. Proponents of this theory tend to punch the air every time the Doctor makes reference to being half- (or any part-) human. In this interpretation, "avatar" is off the table and "clone" is the best relationship-label, although even that is slightly misleading since the DNA of Time Lords is not identical to either humans' or Gallifreyans', having been artificially altered to allow for regeneration.

However, even if the Doctor is the Other, the Other is definitely not the Doctor. Or at least, he never used that name and didn't always keep... to that ethos. *ahem*

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