Julien Neaves, Editor
I was chatting recently on one of my Doctor Who Facebook pages (I’m on a few of them) and I saw someone refer to the modern era of Doctor Who as a “reboot”. One guy sarcastically asked who was the actor they used to recast the First Doctor in this “reboot”. Yeah, my boy was…
The interaction got me thinking about the different things people say that trigger Whovians. And I decided to do a list of these things. Like to hear it? Here it goes. That’s a little In Living Color humour for you guys. What? I have an eclectic taste in television. Anywho with an Allons-y, a Geronimo and a SPOILER ALERT let’s countdown the Top 5 Ways to Trigger a Doctor Who fan:
#5 Saying it’s a ‘children’s show’
Every now and then someone will say that Doctor Who is a children’s show, usually to try to excuse away/defend some bit of poor writing or characterisation someone has complained about. Now in 1963 the show was conceptualised as a children’s show that would teach the kiddies science and history. But eventually the whole education thing got phased out for pure entertainment. And though Doctor Who is considered a “family show,” some of the scares, deaths and adult content that features makes even that definition somewhat dubious.
But what is indisputable, is that calling it a “children’s show” is outdated and a misnomer. And it is likely to annoy your average Whovian, especially when it is the basis of a rebuttal.
Trigger level: Mildly annoyed
#4 Referring to Modern Who as a ‘reboot’
I think this one may just be people not understanding terminology. A reboot is to create a distinctly new version of something (thank you dictionary.com). So the 2009 Star Trek film was a reboot. The 2004 Battlestar Galactica series was a reboot.
When Doctor Who returned in 2005 after a nine year hiatus (from the Eighth Doctor TV movie not the last TV episode, which was Survival in 1989) it was continuation from Classic Who. So call it a revival, Modern Who, New Who, or Nu Who, but just do not call it a reboot, because it is not. And if you do, you will likely get some folks mildly triggered.
Trigger level: Righteous indignation
#3 Renumbering the Doctors
This one annoys me personally to no end, though thankfully I have not seen it in awhile. So remember when the Tenth Doctor regenerates into himself in The Stolen Earth/Journey’s End? And remember when Steven Moffat retconned the War Doctor between the Eighth and Ninth Doctors in The Name of the Doctor and The Day of the Doctor? Well a few smart alecs decided this meant that the numbering of The Doctors needed to be “adjusted.” So War would be the new Ninth, Ninth would be the new Tenth, Tenth would be the new Eleventh and Twelfth, Twelfth would become the new Thirteenth, and Thirteenth would become the new Fourteenth. Sounds confusing? That’s because it is.
What these poor sods failed to realise is that there is a difference between incarnations of The Doctor and the Doctors themselves. And for a character without a known name, the only way anyone can know which Doctor you are referring to is either by the actor’s name or by the established numbering. Messing with the established numbering will just cause confusion and triggering of fans. And that’s why Moffat went to great pains not to number The War Doctor and for him to stress that he did not call himself The Doctor. Current showrunner Chris Chibnall, who has been doing some major retconning himself, would be wise to follow Moffat’s example.
Trigger level: Vexed
#2 The Doctor should have stayed a man
Whether or not this one triggers you depends on where you fell on the Thirteenth Doctor debate. In 2017 when it was announced the next incarnation of The Doctor would be a woman (gasp!) the Whovian community was cut in twain. Some saw it is a modern, natural evolution, while others saw it as a betrayal of the character and declared The Doctor should always be a man.
Now I wrote a whole article on the issue already so I will not go into detail here (I will link that below) but suffice to say that I was in support of it. Mind you after two series with a female Doctor I am left to wonder the reasoning behind the change as the writers have done little to nothing with The Doctor being a woman after being a man for more than 2,000 years.
And what about the Whovian community? Well as time passed the issue pretty much faded away, and most people now debate the quality of the writing and Jodie Whittaker’s characterisation over the man/woman aspect. But every blue moon someone will try to revive the debate and get people triggered all over again.
Trigger level: Headache-inducing incredulity
#1 Calling The Doctor ‘Doctor Who’
Quick question. What is the name of the main character of Doctor Who? Ninety-nine per cent (no I didn’t do a poll or see one, I’m just guessing here) of Whovians will say “The Doctor.” But one per cent (again no actual, statistical basis here) of Whovians and most non-fans will say “Doctor Who.” And you know what happens when they say that? People get…
Now the one percenters will tell you that The Doctor was called “Doctor Who” in the credits in Classic Who and in the Ninth Doctor series. And then they will drag out all the instances when the phrase “Doctor Who” was uttered in the show, with the pièce de résistance being when the computer WOTAN said “Doctor Who is required” in the First Doctor serial The War Machines. And yes we acknowledge all of that. But that is overshadowed by the fact that The Doctor calls himself “The Doctor.” He introduces himself as The Doctor. Everyone in show calls him The Doctor. Ninety-nine per cent of fans call him The Doctor. So while he may been called “Doctor Who” at different points the name of the character is THE DOCTOR. Anyone who wants to call him/her “Doctor Who” is either ignorant or a contrarian. And either way you will trigger the average fan to no end.
Trigger level: Time Lord Furious aka So Pissed you Regenerate
That’s it for me. But just a quick word before I go. Though one or more of these things may trigger you online please avoid to urge to be insulting, condescending and/or combative. Take a deep breath, let the annoyance flow out and then respond with a clear head. There’s so much negativity and toxicity online that we Whovians really should not be contributing to it. Fair debate and discussion is healthy; fighting and name calling is not. So when it comes to triggering issues let us listen to this excerpt of the Twelfth Doctor’s goodbye speech:
“Never be cruel, never be cowardly. And never ever eat pears! Remember – hate is always foolish…and love, is always wise. Always try, to be nice and never fail to be kind.”
So did I miss any ways to trigger Whovians? For my treatise on the 13th Doctor casting controversy you can click here. And for more than 40 wibbly wobbly timey wimey Doctor Who articles you can click here.
Julien “Jules” Neaves is a TARDIS-flying, Force-using Trekkie whose bedroom stories were by Freddy Krueger, learned to be a superhero from Marvel, but dreams of being Batman. I love promoting Caribbean film (Cariwood), creating board games and I am an aspiring author. I say things like “12 flavours of awesome sauce”.
I can also be found posting on Instagram as redmanwriter and talking about TV and movie stuff on Facebook at Movieville.