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Why Doctor Who's Official Title Still Has Fans Scratching Their Heads

As any "Doctor Who" fan knows all too well, it can be difficult to steer clear of plot holes when the show's history dates back to the 1960s, its premise revolves around time travel, its main character changes their face and personality every few seasons, and multiple showrunners have stirred the pot in different directions.  

While the sci-fi classic has become adept at explaining potential plot problems with gloriously over-the-top handwaves like the Tenth Doctor's (David Tennant) iconic line about "wibbly wobbly, timey wimey stuff," the show's very premise still holds plenty of unexplained mysteries for fans to ponder. One of said mysteries is the title of the show and its main character ... and it has only become more confusing during the Thirteenth Doctor's (Jodie Whittaker) tenure. 

Early incarnations of the Doctor were somewhat ambiguous about the name situation, but it was eventually established that "The Doctor" is something akin to a mission statement, which this particular Time Lord has chosen as their public moniker instead of using their real, hitherto unrevealed name — much like the Doctor's nemesis, the Master. Yet, fans have noted that the exact timeline of the Doctor's title-slash-name is pretty dubious, thanks to the events of the controversial "Doctor Who" Season 12 finale, "The Timeless Children." Here's why the official title still has fans scratching their heads. 

Fans are wondering how the Doctor retained the name after a memory wipe

"The Timeless Children" reveals that the Doctor is a mysterious entity who predates the Time Lord race, and has lived multiple lives before William Hartnell's First Doctor came along. One of said lives appears to be the Fugitive Doctor (Jo Martin) — who, you'll note, already uses the Doctor name. As it stands, this means that the character fans thought was the "First Doctor" was actually memory-wiped and turned into a child before the show started. It's a pretty bold twist, but unfortunately, some fans have pointed out on Reddit that it creates a pretty glaring plot hole: How on Gallifrey did the Doctor choose the exact same alias the unremembered previous incarnations used, and why hasn't it come up before? Both the "Timeless Child" Doctor and the "Doctor Who" Doctor are, after all, extremely important figures in the Time Lord lore, so you'd think someone would have made the connection before. 

"So how did this child then happen to also go by the same title?" one redditor wrote. "Did no one on Gallifrey notice that this 'Doctor' person go missing, and then another person takes the same title? It would be insanely contrived to assume that they both chose the same title in 2 different lives."

Other fans agreed that the situation seems like a bit of a plot hole, offering their own theories about the situation, but also noting that further seasons will likely explain and expand on the story. Others simply recognized the particular peculiarities of the franchise, and chose to take the situation in stride. "[...] The history of the Doctor is so malleable already, getting hung up on something like this is only going to lead to more headaches," u/jtides sagely wrote.