Doctor Who: We know the Doctor’s secret!


*This post contains spoilers to season 7 finale “The Name of the Doctor”*

Last Saturday was the season finale of Doctor Who and wow – we learned the Doctor’s secret was NOT his name.

No, we did not learn the Doctor’s name.

River Song said his name (without us hearing it) to open the tomb, but as a joke, people have been saying his name is Please, since he said Please and the tomb opened.

Then… later on, we learned the secret… was John Hurt.

My husband exclaimed, “So, the Doctor’s secret is that they kidnapped John Hurt in his tomb?”… hilarious. No. He tries to be funny.


John Hurt is “The Doctor.”


John Hurt revealed earlier he played a pivotal point in The Doctor. He IS The Doctor. Some form of incarnation of The Doctor we have not seen.

Clara – who we found out is The Impossible Girl who was born to save the Doctor and jumps into The Doctor’s timeline/grave and saves him from The Great Intelligence in every incarnation” asks the Doctor who John Hurt’s character is because she did not see him when she went through all the incarnations.

Eleventh Doctor: I said he was me. I didn’t say he was The Doctor. My name, my real name. That is not the point.  The name I chose is The Doctor. The name you choose is like a promise you make. He’s the one who broke the promise. He is my secret…”

John Hurt’s Doctor: “What I did, I did without choice.”

Eleventh Doctor: “I know.”

John Hurt’s Doctor: “In the name of peace and sanity.”

Eleventh Doctor: “But not in the name of the Doctor.”


Now we have to wait until November 23rd to find out who John Hurt’s character is.

A lot of theories are going around already:

  • John Hurt’s Doctor is actually the 9th Doctor – which makes 9th (Christopher Eccleston) the 10th Doctor, the 10th (David Tennant) the 11th Doctor and the 11th Doctor (Matt Smith) is the 12th Doctor.
  • John Hurt’s Doctor is The Doctor who had to push the button to destroy Gallifrey to end the Time War.
  • John Hurt’s Doctor is The Doctor who started the Time War.
  • John Hurt was never The Doctor – he was the original name and then did something horrible and transformed into the First Doctor
  • The Doctors created him to end the Time War – thus breaking the promise.
  • John Hurt’s Doctor is Valeyard – a future evil incarnation of The Doctor (look it up)
  • John Hurt’s Doctor is a future incarnation- I hope not, no offense Mr. Hurt, but that means we’ll have to use you again and by then… you may be a wee bit too old.

I hope it’s not that he is the 9th Doctor and then it moves everyone up. Do you know how difficult it is to change all that fan art and fan stories?! Then to add John Hurt into the mix on T-Shirts and memorabilia that has already been paid for…  I mean, really? I highly doubt Moffat would do that to the whole series.

Doctor Who Moffat

If I had to believe one theory, I’d definitely agree with that he was the one who had to end the Time War by destroying his home planet. But, I don’t see how he could be The Doctor’s incarnation. Moffat has a lot of explaining to do. Maybe, he’s all the Doctors combined – the Trinity holding them all together.

At the same time, this photo of Hurt on set does provide clues that he is in between the 8th Doctor and the 9th Doctor – see the waistcoat (like McGann’s Doctor) and the leather jacket (like Eccleston’s Doctor). Oh dear.

JohnHurt The Doctor

November 23rd.

The exact day Doctor Who first aired.

Six months away.

I need a TARDIS, so I can time travel to watch the episode already.

When I hear more about the 50th Anniversary episode, I will report it.

Please tell me what your theories are in the comments!!!

Doctor Who’s 50th Anniversary Episode airs November 23rd on BBC One/America.

From around the web:
  • Shawn Peterman

    I believe Jon Hurt is playing an older version of the 8th Doctor. We’ve seen that his incarnations can and do physically age (The Sound of Drums). The 8th incarnation broke his promise, dropped the moniker “Doctor” in later years when the Time War required actions unbecoming The Doctor. Afterward, he regenerated either by necessity or choice and tried to resume his life…

    • Laura S

      Omg, that’s a good theory! No wonder McGann didn’t get asked!

    • Carl Rood

      Have to disagree here. If it were a simple as an older Eighth Doctor, why not just get Paul McGann? If you really want him to look like he’s in is 70’s, just use makeup to age him a bit.

      • Joe Pepersack

        We don’t know for certain that Hartnell’s Doctor was his first incarnation – he could just be the first incarnation who called himself the Doctor. Remember River Song’s first rule – the Doctor lies. We can’t take anything he’s said about himself as gospel.

        I’m going to guess that Hurt’s character is either the Valeyard (which was already hinted at by the Great Intelligence), or an earlier incarnation of the Time Lord who will become the Doctor.

        • Fearless Gara

          I agree with the earlier incarnation you said. as we see at the intro of the series it shows how he stole the Tar-dis. and on the ends he mentioned it is him not a doctor. and He’s running through all his life. so meaning the time that he is already a doctor he is running away his true identity before he stole the tardis and he become a doctor.

  • Jack Yan

    I’m going with the theory that Hurt is the Doctor between 8 and 9. However, because he did not act “in the name of the Doctor”, he is not counted by the Doctor himself as an incarnation. Hurt committed whatever act he did, and because it was so extreme, the subsequent Doctors have tried to forget him and not acknowledge him as part of their past. Kind of like how we don’t dwell on unpleasant memories. Eccleston is the “true” ninth because he acted “in the name of the Doctor”.

    Having said that, Shawn Peterman’s theory is more elegant!

    Or, it could just be as Peter Cushing said on why he reckoned his Doctor was canon:

  • You’ve gotten it wrong.

    You keep saying that he’d change the positions of all the other Doctors, but that would happen – did you actually watch the episode?

    He ISN’T The Doctor. He’s the same person, but he’s not the Doctor, he’s something else. He broke the promise, so he isn’t the Doctor, and the Doctor said as much in the episode. Go back and watch it again since you clearly didn’t understand that.

    He’s another incarnation of the Doctor, without being the Doctor. He wouldn’t be 8th or 9th or anything else other than the 1st and only.

    • Laura S

      I wrote theories. I haven’t placed my input on what theory I believe.

      I just wrote that if Hurt is really a Doctor, that throws off my memorabilia that I bought of all the Doctors.

    • Laura S

      Yes, I get it… he doesnt get the name of The Doctor but he was introduced as “The Doctor”. Hence, he’s still considered The Doctor.

      Plus, I said if he was the actual TRUE 9th – which we don’t know for sure. I am explaining that would throw off a lot. Reread my post and the episode.

      And Moffat has a lot of explaining to do.

  • whooovian

    i think he is the incarnation of the 8th doctor but before the 9th and I think he goes by the name ready for it “The Master” therefore leaving the doctor to leav that memory locked inside himself he doesn’t want anyone to know that he had come to that to stop the time war thus explaining him not really being the doctore and definitely not acting in the name of the doctor I think it is something moffat would, could do what do you guys think

  • Ishmael_137

    The 9th, 10th & 11th…just designations we give, not The Doctor. When Eggelston first showed up in London and met Rose, he was newly regenerated (did not seem satisfied with those ears…who can blame him?), but regenerated from what? 10 years elapsed between the 8th and supposed 9th Doctor, from our point of view, but centuries maybe, enough to fit in a regenerated Doctor who then became Angry Eggelston and a Doctor who hated himself enough to create a Dream Lord to torment himself. I’m betting on an unsuspected regeneration that created a Doctor worthy of the “Oncoming Storm” appellation, but perhaps not worthy of “The Doctor.”

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