Jodie Whittaker as the Thirteenth Doctor, looking unhappy

Will the Timeless Child Remain Under the Rule of Russell T. Davies?

Fans, particularly ones of Doctor Who, love to ask whether or not time can be rewritten, especially in the canon of their show. Now they’re asking whether or not an aspect of the series that Chris Chibnall added to the Doctor Who canon can be removed because they simply didn’t like it.

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I’m talking, of course, about the controversial storyline of the Timeless Child. What we learned through Jodie Whittaker’s era of the series was that the Timeless Child was actually the Doctor, and that the Doctor’s regenerations were, essentially, the origin of them. Tecteun kept this from the Doctor, the Master found out and didn’t take it lightly, and the entire thing became a mess. That’s why the Doctor could have so many lives, and why the series can continue on past a Time Lord’s specific set of regenerations. Some fans don’t love this change to the lore of the Doctor and want to retcon it.

Talking with SFX magazine, though, new showrunner (and technically returning showrunner) Russell T. Davies, talked about the Timeless Child storyline and where it lies in the future of the show. More specifically, he discussed the notion of taking something that is canon thanks to someone else’s work and destroying it because someone else doesn’t like it.

“Let’s stare that question right in the eye,” Davies said. “I’m not going to unwrite my good friend Chris Chibnall’s work on ‘The Timeless Children.’ I’m not going to deny what he wrote. I’m going with it. It’s absolutely fine. It’s canon, it happened. It was transmitted. You cannot unwrite things, that would be absolutely rude to a great colleague and a lovely friend.”

Asking Davies to do this is a lot but this is a great answer and what we should be saying.

Stop asking creatives to retcon the work of others

Shows like Doctor Who, that have multiple showrunners throughout the course of their time on the air, often come up against this kind of response from “fans.” Whenever someone thinks they know “more” than others, they want to dictate what they think is the right move for everyone. Asking this of Davies, essentially begging him to retcon the work of someone he knows because they don’t like something? That’s the definition of entitlement as a fan.

It’s okay to not like something. But it is a wholly different situation to act as if retconning the work is the right move, and that asking a creative to do it is the way to go. Davies standing up for Chibnall’s work? Brilliant! He shouldn’t have to do this, but the fact that he is doing it shows that Davies isn’t going to let fans who think they know better sway him. Still, this kind of behavior is sadly par for the course with fans of shows like Doctor Who.

I am interested in what Davies will do with the Timeless Child reveal in the future, and as a fan, I’m excited that he doesn’t plan on changing it.

(featured image: BBC)


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Rachel Leishman
Rachel Leishman (She/Her) is an Assistant Editor at the Mary Sue. She's been a writer professionally since 2016 but was always obsessed with movies and television and writing about them growing up. A lover of Spider-Man and Wanda Maximoff's biggest defender, she has interests in all things nerdy and a cat named Benjamin Wyatt the cat. If you want to talk classic rock music or all things Harrison Ford, she's your girl but her interests span far and wide. Yes, she knows she looks like Florence Pugh. She has multiple podcasts, normally has opinions on any bit of pop culture, and can tell you can actors entire filmography off the top of her head. Her work at the Mary Sue often includes Star Wars, Marvel, DC, movie reviews, and interviews.