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The Doctor's Age


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Old 20-06-2013, 01:42
Khof
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The Doctor's age has been a topic of confusion for quite a while now, but after looking into it a bit more, it seems that the estimates of his age we've been given all throughout the classic series have been fairly consistent. The new series, however, is where it gets a bit messy; consistent with itself, but seemingly inconsistent with the old series. Here's what we do know:

- In "The Tomb of the Cybermen" the Second Doctor tells Victoria that he is "about 450 years old".
- In "Pyramids of Mars" the Fourth Doctor tells Sarah Jane that he's "lived for something like 750 years".
- In "The Ribos Operation" the Fourth Doctor says he's 756, but Romana tells him he's lost count and that he's actually 759 (she had just come from Gallifrey and had done a bit of research on the Doctor, so her information is most likely correct). She also says: "After the first few centuries I expect things get a bit foggy."
- In "The Pirate Planet" Romana tells the Fourth Doctor that he's been operating the TARDIS for 523 years. Subtracting that from his age, that means he was 236 years old when he first "borrowed" it.
- In "The Mysterious Planet" the Sixth Doctor gives his age as 900 years, "more or less".
- In "Time and the Rani" the Seventh Doctor uses "953" as the password to unlock a door in the Rani's laboratory, saying that it's her age and that he knows it because they have the same age.
- The Ninth Doctor says at various points that his age is 900, but while this may seem inconsistent on the surface, he does specify what he means at one point, saying "900 years of time and space". Therefore, the Doctor probably means that he has been travelling in the TARDIS for 900 years, which would make him at this point over 1100 years old considering he stole it when he was 236. If "900 years" is an exact number rather than an approximation, that makes him 1136.
- In "Voyage of the Damned" the Tenth Doctor says he's 903, which could really mean 1139 considering the above explanation.
- In "The End of Time" the Tenth Doctor says he's 906, which could really mean 1142.
- In "Flesh and Stone" the Eleventh Doctor says he's 907, which could really mean 1143.
- In "The Impossible Astronaut" the younger Eleventh Doctor says he's 909, which could really mean 1145.
- In "The Doctor's Wife" the TARDIS tells the Doctor that he has been ignoring the "Pull to Open" instructions for the last 700 years. This seems to indicate that the TARDIS has been a police box for 700 years, so if we subtract that from the Doctor's age at this time (1145), we get 445 as the age he was when the TARDIS first disguised itself as a police box. This is consistent with his age given in "Tomb of the Cybermen" ("about 450"), which couldn't have been long after the Doctor first landed in 1963 London considering the Doctor had been travelling with humans during that whole span of time.
- In "The Impossible Astronaut" the older Doctor gives his age as 1103, which could really be 1339.
- In "A Town Called Mercy" the Eleventh Doctor says he's 1200, which could really mean 1436.

Overall, it looks like Doctor can't always keep a perfectly accurate measurement of his age, but he seems to have a general idea. Maybe he does have something in the TARDIS that keeps track of that sort of thing but he just doesn't look at it very often. Anyway, in the end, everything is perfectly consistent when you think of the Doctor's age in the new series as being the amount of years since he stole the TARDIS. With Gallifrey gone, maybe the Doctor decided that he'd just associate himself with his only other home (the TARDIS), counting his age according to how long he's been living in it.

So we're really only left with a few discrepencies:

- The Third Doctor claims to have been a scientist for thousands of years. As November_Rain kindly pointed out in another thread, this can be explained by saying he's referring to the span of time he's travelled across rather than to his own personal timeline.
- When travelling with Sarah Jane, he gives his age as 757 and then 749, but this is explained by how the Doctor first says "something like 750", and then when Romana says he's lost count.
- The Doctor tells Clara in "The Bells of Saint John" that he's 1000 years old, when he had previously claimed to be 1200 (1436). Maybe he was just rounding down to feel better about his age, and/or possibly deciding that he'll now start the count from when the TARDIS first disguised itself as a police box.
- In "Journey to the Centre of the TARDIS" the Doctor says that he's had the TARDIS for 700 years. This is inconsistent whether we count his age at this time as 1200 or 1436. I'm just going to say Steve Thompson fudged it and leave it at that.

Now, knowing all this, we can piece together a timeline for the Doctor:

- The Doctor is 236 when he steals the TARDIS and leaves Gallifrey.
- 209 years of travelling with his granddaughter Susan.
- 445 years old when he lands in London in 1963.
- "About 450 years old" when he undergoes his first regeneration.
- About 300 years travelling alone, likely split up between the time the Second Doctor is working for the Celestial Intervention Agency and the time when the Third Doctor is alone between leaving Jo and meeting Sarah Jane.
- "Something like 750" years old when travelling with Sarah Jane.
- There are probably a few years spent travelling alone between leaving Sarah Jane and meeting Leela.
- 759 years old when he meets Romana.
- About 150 years travelling, likely with Romana (she's a Time Lady, so she can live as long as the Doctor).
- Approximately 900 years old when he undergoes his fifth regeneration.
- About 50 years travelling between leaving Peri and meeting Mel.
- 953 years old when he undergoes his sixth regeneration.
- Almost 200 years between "Survival" and "Rose".
- 1136 years old when he meets Rose.
- 1139 years old when he saves the Titanic spaceship.
- 1142 years old when he regenerates into the Eleventh Doctor.
- 1143 years old when travelling with Amy.
- 1145 years old in "The Impossible Astronaut".
- The Farewell Tour, lasting 194 years.
- 1339 years old in "The Wedding of River Song".
- A total of 97 years of travel between paying visits to Amy and Rory.
- 1436 years old in "A Town Called Mercy".

And there we have it. The Doctor's age, consistent. Our Doctor has come quite a long way.
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Old 20-06-2013, 08:34
Kromm
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The problem with most of that is the while the Doctor might have ONCE had an occasion where it was spoken about how long he was traveling in the TARDIS, and that allowed some figure of how old he was when he started, there's absolutely no evidence on most of those later occasions that when he flat out says his age, that's he's actually talking about how long he's been traveling in the TARDIS. With that first time when the Ninth Doctor talks about it, maybe. But Ten and Eleven make no such disclaimers. The writing got screwed up at some point in that sequence and if there were qualifiers used once, they didn't get properly carried forward and his age and time traveling got permanently mixed up in the show's bible/master fact list, or something.
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Old 20-06-2013, 08:49
Theophile
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My favorite explanation, and the one which I think is correct, is that, while The Doctor's homeworld, Galifrey, still existed, he measured his age by their years, which are shorter than Earth years. Once Galifrey was gone and he made Earth his new official homeworld, he had to adjust his age to Earth years, which are longer, so that meant an adjustment downwards. Notice that the upward movement before the adjustment and after the adjustment are consistent, it is simply the one point of adjustment which needed to be taken into consideration.
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Old 20-06-2013, 09:04
Kromm
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I think the best explanation of all is this:

"Rule 1 - The Doctor Lies"

Its even on a T-shirt (so it MUST be true):

http://image8.spreadshirt.com/image-...ceId=187/Rule-
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Old 20-06-2013, 09:10
SilenceWillFall
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I think the best explanation of all is this:

"Rule 1 - The Doctor Lies"

Its even on a T-shirt (so it MUST be true):

http://image8.spreadshirt.com/image-...ceId=187/Rule-
Except that's 11's (or better said Moffat's) rule, not the Doctor's.
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Old 20-06-2013, 10:10
Sara_Peplow
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Didn't it use to be considered bad manners to ask a lady or gentleman their age ?.
Age is just a number he still looks good for it. Plus his dear departed "father in law" Rory Williams still had years on him. Living to the ripe old age of 2082.
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Old 20-06-2013, 10:35
Shevk
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How is it possible to keep track of one's age when one is constantly travelling in different time-zones/planets/eras?

I think things will be more confusing when the twelfth doctor appears and claims that she is not a day over 49 and a half.
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Old 20-06-2013, 10:37
johnnysaucepn
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Except that's 11's (or better said Moffat's) rule, not the Doctor's.
The Doctor has always hidden information, that's not new to 11. The only thing that's changed is River bringing attention to it.
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Old 20-06-2013, 10:52
Kromm
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The Doctor has always hidden information, that's not new to 11. The only thing that's changed is River bringing attention to it.
"The Doctor Lies" also clearly explains the situation in a way which requires no further wankery. The fact that it was said about and by Eleven doesn't mean it only applies to Eleven. River knew Ten, and well... whether we get to see it or not, due to her funny timeline she might even know some of the higher numbers.

And The Doctor said it about HIMSELF too. He didn't qualify it as "I lie". He said "The Doctor lies". He's mainly been the potential culprit of giving wrong ages according to the events described in the first post anyway, maybe with a little of Ten thrown in.
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Old 20-06-2013, 19:33
Khof
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The problem with most of that is the while the Doctor might have ONCE had an occasion where it was spoken about how long he was traveling in the TARDIS, and that allowed some figure of how old he was when he started, there's absolutely no evidence on most of those later occasions that when he flat out says his age, that's he's actually talking about how long he's been traveling in the TARDIS. With that first time when the Ninth Doctor talks about it, maybe. But Ten and Eleven make no such disclaimers. The writing got screwed up at some point in that sequence and if there were qualifiers used once, they didn't get properly carried forward and his age and time traveling got permanently mixed up in the show's bible/master fact list, or something.
It's mentioned twice in the Ninth Doctor's run that "900 years" doesn't refer to his age since birth, and the "700 years" given in "The Doctor's Wife" doesn't make sense unless we take that into account. We have no reason to assume that the explanation no longer applies just because it hasn't been mentioned since Series 1. RTD set up a new "age" for the Doctor and gave an explanation, so future writers are going to be working under that explanation regardless of whether they intend to (unless they're working with the age of things connected to the Doctor, in which case they might fudge it like Steve Thompson did). The writing hasn't been messed up anywhere, as everyone (save Steve Thompson) has been consistent with the "900 years" statement. The disclaimer hasn't been mentioned since Series 1, but that doesn't mean it never existed. It just hasn't been mentioned.

My favorite explanation, and the one which I think is correct, is that, while The Doctor's homeworld, Galifrey, still existed, he measured his age by their years, which are shorter than Earth years. Once Galifrey was gone and he made Earth his new official homeworld, he had to adjust his age to Earth years, which are longer, so that meant an adjustment downwards. Notice that the upward movement before the adjustment and after the adjustment are consistent, it is simply the one point of adjustment which needed to be taken into consideration.
When he first gave us his age in "Tomb of the Cybermen" he specified he was measuring it in Earth years. Every age he has given since has been for the benefit of the viewer rather than the plot, so I don't think they'd intentionally try to confuse the viewers by measuring the Doctor's age according to other planets. Otherwise why bother stating the Doctor's age at all?

How is it possible to keep track of one's age when one is constantly travelling in different time-zones/planets/eras?
They call it "relative time" a few times in the history of the show. It's how time travellers manage to arrange communications with each other (e.g. "I'll meet you in London on 20 June 2013 at noon, in 15 minutes relative time").
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Old 20-06-2013, 19:59
hazelnuttwhike
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I admire everyone's dedication, and particularly like the original post. I'd like to think that, without someone like Romana around to correct him, he just lost proper count or couldn't be bothered.

Perhaps Clara will know the truth, after she (presumably) escapes his timeline.
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