Doctor Who: 4 guesses on who (or what) the Timeless Child could be


Doctor Who fans may wonder all season long about who (or what) the Timeless Child could be.

Although new showrunner Chris Chibnall said that Doctor Who season 11 would be comprised entirely of standalone stories and adventures, that doesn’t seem to have stopped him from working in a few ongoing mysteries for fans to speculate about.

“The Ghost Monument” once again mentioned the Stenza, the warrior aliens from the season premiere who decorate their faces with the teeth of their vanquished enemies. Turns out they’re actually something of a universal threat, having basically ethnically cleansed the home planet of rally racer Angstrom. And it doesn’t seem out of the realm of possibility to assume we’ll see any of those terrifying hunters again.

But the Stenza weren’t the most intriguing mystery that was launched this week. Oh, no.

That would be the idea of something called “the timeless child”. What is this? We have no idea. And considering the source for this concept/rumor came from some creatures that looked like sentient flatworms made of rags, it’s not clear how much we should trust it. But, this is Doctor Who. Nothing’s ever an accident.

“We see deeper, though, further back… the timeless child,” the flatworm rags intone. “We see what’s hidden. Even from yourself. The outcast…abandoned and unknown.”

Here are a few ideas, some more likely than others obviously, for what this could all mean.

The Timeless Child is Susan

Ever since a photo of Susan, the Doctor’s granddaughter and very first companion, appeared on Twelve’s desk back in season 10’s “The Pilot,” rumors have swirled that we might see some version of this character appear on the show again. This idea reached something of a fever pitch when we learned that David Bradley would be playing William Hartnell’s First Doctor in Peter Capaldi’s final episode, “Twice Upon a Time.” But despite the fact that we briefly saw new versions of original companions Ian and Barbara, Susan was not present.

While this certainly would be a wild twist — and also fill in some emotional plot holes for the Doctor, who left her granddaughter behind on Earth back when she was still in her first incarnation — it would also be a really deep reference for a season that’s supposed to be about new adventures and fresh stores.

The Timeless Child is Jenny

Similar to Susan, the Timeless Child could also turn out to be Jenny, introduced back in season 4’s “The Doctor’s Daughter”. A clone daughter created from the Doctor’s DNA, Jenny died saving Ten’s life. Or so he thinks, anyway. In truth, she revives in a strange sort of regeneration that doesn’t involve her body changing, and races off to see and (presumably) save the universe.

The idea of the “timeless child” could be a very literal way of reintroducing Jenny to the Whoniverse. She is the doctor’s daughter, after all. (An actual child!) But since she’s also been pretty busy having her own set of adventures in a series of Big Finish audio stories, her story may no longer sync up with the Doctor’s. And, again this solution would possibly be even more confusing for new viewers, since Jenny is basically a random one-off episode character from five seasons back.

The Timeless Child is Rose

This one is pretty unlikely, as former companion Rose seems fairly settled into her alternate universe life with her own custom-made metacrisis version of the Tenth Doctor. But, she also kind of spread her atoms across the whole universe while she was the Bad Wolf in the season 9 finale “The Parting of the Ways”. So it’s not completely out of the realm of possibility that this phrase could reference her in some way.

Jodie Whittaker has talked before about how she’d like to bring Piper back to the show. Just saying.

The Timeless Child is the Doctor herself

The most likely solution is probably that the Timeless Child is a reference to the Doctor herself. Over the years, we’ve seen the titular Time Lord acquire a vast array of secondary names, including the Oncoming Storm, the Great Destroyer, the Vessel of the Final Darkness, the Beast of Trenzalore, the Butcher of Skull Moon, the Doctor of War and lots others. This is probably something along similar lines, and “timeless child” is simply another way of referring to the Doctor, for some reason. Thirteen’s slight balk at the phrase (“What did you say?”) could be taken as evidence that this was something she’d heard before.

However, the phrase could just as easily reference some as yet unknown event in Thirteen’s childhood. This show is 55 years old, and we still don’t know a lot about the Doctor’s life before leaving Gallifrey. This also seems like an incredibly likely solution, as this would basically be brand new information for new and old viewers alike.

In short, it seems as though we’ve hardly seen (heard?) the last of this idea. So strap in.

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Doctor Who season 11 continues Sunday at 8 p.m. ET on BBC America.