7 big questions about the future of Doctor Who

Doctor Who
(Image credit: BBC)

Following the three 60th anniversary specials featuring David Tennant and Catherine Tate as they reprised their iconic roles of the Doctor and Donna Noble, Doctor Who returns to BBC One and Disney Plus on Christmas Day with an all-new adventure titled "The Church on Ruby Road." This special episode of the seminal sci-fi series will mark the first official adventure of Ncuti Gatwa’s Fifteenth Doctor as he flies off in his TARDIS to explore space and time.

However, before the latest regeneration (bi-generation?) of the clever Time Lord launches into his own missions and memorable moments, there are still a number of loose ends to tie up. Naturally, since this trio of stories was meant to mark the beginning of a new era of the long-running show, not everything will be wrapped up nicely just yet. As they say, patience is a virtue. But while we’re busy being patient, there are a number of questions about the future of Doctor Who that are on our minds ahead of season 14.

Who is The Boss?

Catherine Tate, the Meep and Yasmin Finney in Doctor Who: Star Beast

(Image credit: Disney Plus)

While it is tempting to say that Tony Micelli (or, more accurately as pointed out by Abed from Community, Angela Bower) is the boss, the answer may be different in the Whoniverse. After the Meep was apprehended at the end of “The Star Beast,” the villain mentions that an alien with two hearts is quite the anomaly. Due to this fact, the Meep declared that they will be telling “the boss” about the Doctor. Since the Meep is being escorted to some kind of intergalactic prison, it seems like the Fourteenth Doctor shrugs off the comment when he says, “Cryptic. I hate that.” 

But who was the Meep referring to? Considering that there’s a whole new season of Doctor Who on the horizon, could we find out next year? Or was the Meep referring to Neil Patrick Harris’ Toymaker, a character that would remerge after a long absence from the show two episodes later in “The Giggle.” After he loses to the duo of Doctors, Toymaker mentions that his “legions are coming.” Was the Meep among them? Or is there another big bad that we should worry about? Actually, there kind of is and that leads us to our next question.

Who is The One Who Waits?

Neil Patrick Harris in Doctor Who: The Giggles

(Image credit: Disney Plus)

After the Toymaker recounts the Doctor’s past with an amusing puppet show, the nefarious foe runs down the list of opponents that he has defeated in his games. Among the losers was another prominent figure from the Doctor’s rogues gallery: The Master. 

When we last saw him, the Master was played by Sacha Dhawan in the 2022 episode “The Power of the Doctor.” This version of the character was thought to have perished on an imploding planet after triggering the Thirteenth Doctor’s regeneration. However, the Master actually found his way to one of the Toymaker’s games and “begged for his life” before being trapped in a gold tooth for all eternity. 

While the Toymaker was glad to defeat the Master, he was more hesitant to face off with someone known as the One Who Waits. Instead, the typically confident gamesman ran away because “that’s someone else’s game.” Could the One Who Waits actually be the Meep’s boss? Is this person an entirely new and different threat awaiting Team TARDIS at some point in the future? Or could they be another familiar face returning after a long absence to cause more trouble for the Doctor? Whovians will have to be the ones that wait for this answer.

Who picks up the gold tooth?

Neil Patrick Harris in Doctor Who: The Giggles

(Image credit: Disney Plus)

Moving back to the Master, he is apparently still very much in play after the events of the Doctor Who 60th anniversary. While the Toymaker was in the process of being banished from reality, it would seem that his gold tooth was left behind on the galvanic beam platform at UNIT headquarters. But as soon as this revelation is revealed, a hand sporting red nail polish enters the frame and picks up the gilded gnasher. Other than the notable nail color, there’s currently no other way to determine who walked away with the prison holding one of the universe’s most feared villains. 

Previously, Lucy Saxon was married to the John Simm version of the Master and she helped him carry out his evil plans. Although, this probably isn’t her since she played a rather large role in an attempt to thwart his resurrection in the two-part 2009 holiday episode “The End of Time.”  

Instead, could it be another follower of the Master? As seen in the first part of that episode, Miss Trefusis was the one who picked up the evil Time Lord’s ring in a very similar fashion to initiate the ritual. Dhawan’s version of the character also had his own minions as Grigori Rasputin. 

Of course, this could just be showrunner Russell T. Davies’ way of leaving the door open for the Master’s return down the line. It doesn’t necessarily have to be a story that he tells, but it very well could be.

What other themes from Russell T. Davies’ previous run will be revisited?

Catherine Tate and David Tennant in the poster for Doctor Who: Star Beast

(Image credit: Disney Plus)

Now that we’re on the topic of Davies, did anyone else notice the plethora of callbacks to his original run on the show from 2005 to 2010? The biggest ones were definitely Tennant and Tate’s returns, which saw a much happier ending for one of the Doctor’s most beloved companions. But there was also the Toymaker’s giggle echoing throughout time similar to the drumming that plagued the Master from “The End of Time.” And then the whole concept of bi-generation made it possible for a Doctor played by Tennant (previously the Meta Crisis Doctor) to spend more time with a beloved companion while going off on adventures at the same time. 

Listen, this isn’t something that we necessarily dislike. This was all part of an anniversary special, which looked to the past in order to launch the show into the future. But there were just a whole lot of references to specifically RTD’s last run. Now that Gatwa has taken control of the TARDIS console, will these connections continue? Or will they live somewhere else?

Will there be a new Doctor Who spinoff?

Catherine Tate in Doctor Who: Wild Blue Yonder

(Image credit: Disney Plus)

Another signature of Davies’ previous run on Doctor Who was spinoffs. Under his regime, he launched Torchwood and The Sarah Jane Adventures, both of which featured former companions stepping into their own spotlights. While the chances of a Donna Noble spinoff are probably slim, the 60th anniversary specials did present the perfect set up for a show featuring UNIT, the military organization led by Kate Lethbridge-Stewart (played by Jemma Redgrave). Ruth Madeley’s Shirley Anne Bingham could also have a prominent role in the show. 

And though Donna and Mel likely wouldn’t be part of the regular cast, it’s easy to see other companions pop in and out of the office as needed depending on the mission. John Barrowman has been chomping at the bit to don Captain Jack Harkness’ coat once again. It’s been too long since we’ve heard from the Paternoster Gang. And what if the Doctor’s daughter Jenny (played by Georgia Tennant) actually makes her way to Earth for a team up? The possibilities are pretty endless here. And considering RTD’s affinity for spinoffs, there’s no way that at least a conversation with BBC has happened about this.

What happens to the Fourteenth Doctor?

David Tennant in Doctor Who: Star Beast

(Image credit: Disney Plus)

Thanks to bi-generation, many fans have started to speculate about a spinoff for David Tennant’s Fourteenth Doctor. As we saw in the final scene of “The Giggle,” this Doctor is still inclined to pop off on an adventure here and there despite being “retired” with the Nobles. But when asked about the future for this character point blank, Radio Times reports Davies is only focusing on the Fifteenth Doctor from here on out.

"Sorry, it's the age of Ncuti now — it's 'David Who?,” he said. “No plans, genuinely, yet, because it's a busy TARDIS — these two [Gatwa and Millie Gibson as companion Ruby Sunday] are gonna just sail across the universe and capture your heart, so it's time to look at these two."

The outlet also points out that the showrunner revealed in the companion show Doctor Who Unleashed that Tennant’s Doctor is “parked with Donna for a happy life.” While this may be the case for now, how long until a special guest spot or a surprise cameo comes up in a story where we need more than one Doctor. The franchise does have a long history of bringing back previous performers to step back onto the TARDIS every once in a while for special occasions. Based on these comments, we can probably put a pin in this question for now. But in its place, our last lingering question is a real thinker. 

Are the Fourteenth and Fifteenth Doctors caught in a time loop?

Ncuti Gatwa as the Fourteenth Doctor in Doctor Who

(Image credit: BBC via YouTube)

As we learned in the third 60th anniversary special, bi-generation is supposed to be a myth. But as he’s done many times before, the Doctor has done the impossible and bi-generated into the Fourteenth and Fifteenth Doctors. There’s still so much mystery surrounding this phenomenon, but here’s a theory: What if these two doctors are now in a time loop?

Previously, we saw the epic, overarching tale of River Song, which basically began and ended with the episode titled “Silence in the Library” because of a big time loop that completed in arguably the best Doctor Who Christmas Special, “The Husbands of River Song.” When Gatwa’s Fifteenth Doctor said, "I’m fine because you fix yourself. We’re Time Lords. We’re doing rehab out of order,” it sounds like Fourteen does actually regenerate into Fifteen at some point in the future when he’s completely sorted out his self-care situation. Then, after the regeneration, Fifteen is pulled back into the moment of bi-generation before going off on his “first” adventure. 

This theory is probably more timey-whimey than it needs to be, but it’s possible, right? Although if it is, then how does the Sixteenth Doctor finally come around? The loop would have to be stopped eventually in order for the Doctor to continue on as he always has. 

Out of all the questions we’ve posed here, hopefully this last one actually does get addressed. If not, our brains might start to malfunction as if they are also being overloaded with a Time Lord’s memories just like the DoctorDonna. 

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Ben F. Silverio

Ben F. Silverio is a pop culture enthusiast originally from Philadelphia, PA who loves storytelling in all forms. For over a decade, he has worked as a journalist, critic, editor, and social media ninja for outlets such as /Film, Wrestling Inc, ScienceFiction.com, the Philadelphia Asian American Film Festival, and GeekAnything.com. Ben is also a fan of professional wrestling, superheroes, Disney theme parks, and representation in media.