The Name of the Doctor Who Finale

The following is a guest post.

Once again, Steven Moffat has shown an incredible ability to get people riled up. This time, he (and the BBC collectively) released the movie posters for the rest of the episodes of the series, which revealed the title of the series finale.


For almost 50 years, the Doctor’s name has been a secret. In “Forest of the Dead,” River whispers it in his ear, shocking him into trusting her. There’s only one time he could ever say his name, he tells her—to which she replies, “Spoilers.”

The entire story arc of series six centered around the Silence wanting one question to remain unanswered: Doctor Who? To keep the secret from being voiced, they were willing to kill the one person who knew the answer, the Doctor himself.

And in the series finale, “The Wedding of River Song,” the Doctor very cleverly did not reveal his name, even though he lies and says he did. (That’s a plot point by the way that causes other problems, namely how does River know his name later?)

So with that backstory, it’s understandable that fans would rather the Doctor’s name remains a secret. Fans in London took a picture of themselves holding up a sign that read, “We don’t want to know the Doctor’s name!” Twitter went haywire with the rush of tweets speculating and raging against Moffat’s arrogance to think he could be the one to reveal it.

But this is Moffat we’re talking about. You have to take everything he says with a very large grain of salt. He loves to rile people up with the seemingly obvious and then turn it into misdirection. For example, in “The Impossible Astronaut,” Canton says, “That most certainly is the Doctor. And he is most certainly dead.” Only it wasn’t really the Doctor at all, not the large exterior we could see. And though the Teselecta likely didn’t work after being charred to bits, the mini Doctor inside was just fine.

With that in mind, what are some other ways to look at the series finale title? As Juliet says in Romeo and Juliet, “what’s in a name?”

To many people, a name is more than just the label by which you’re known. Rather than just identifying you, your name shapes who you become. Moffat has very carefully avoided saying, “Yes, we’re going to reveal his name.” Instead, in the Radio Times he says, “you’re about to learn something about the Doctor that you never knew before.”

Doctor Longscarf (who you should all be following on Twitter, if you tweet) has taken that general idea and formed a very specific theory about what might be revealed in the series finale. This is someone who understands Classic Who as well as New Who, so his hypothesis has a lot of depth to it.

Do you want to know the Doctor’s name? What theories have you seen regarding the finale? Note that Alex Kingston is coming back, so maybe this is when River learns his name? Also note that the broken window in the picture appears to be the TARDIS window, and last week in “Journey to the Centre of the TARDIS” Clara came across a book in the library that has the Doctor’s name written in it.

Now that I’ve tossed some more gasoline on the speculation fires, I’ll step back and let you ruminate.
Nancy Kelley is a Britophile, blogger, and author of Jane Austen sequels. She has two cats instead of a metal dog, but she does believe that if you are ever passed out from regeneration sickness (or any other ailment, such as work) tea is all you need – it’s just the thing for healing the synapses. You can find Nancy at her blog Read more of her posts here.


  1. Megan says

    I think, if he does ‘reveal’ the Doctor’s name…it will be in Gallifreyan, or maybe it’s in song form. You know, something beautiful, and justified, so that Moffat gets to ‘reveal’ it to us, and yet we still have no freaking clue which way is up…because that’s the Moffat way of doing things.

  2. Stephanie Carrico says

    I greatly enjoyed Doctor Longscarfs theory.. I personally don’t want to know the Doctors would be such a let down…much better left to my imagination..though if in Galifreyan or song…would be cool..a reveal yet still a mystery…I think he’ll go with something in the Doctors personality….WHO the Doctor is…and not come right out and say My name is Bob…

  3. Miriam says

    I have been watching Doctor Who since the mid 80’s and I could care less about What his name is! He is Supposed to be a Mystery!

    In my opinion this is just another ploy to get the “buzz” going amongst the viewers & media.

    Let’s not forget that in the episode “Let’s Kill Hitler” the story had Nothing to do with Hitler- he was on for a few Seconds- the name Hitler was Only a way to get Attention.
    Personally I am really disappointed in the direction Mr. Moffat has taken the show.
    ( I like Matt Smith as the Doctor and the other actors/companion fine – it’s the scripts that I am not fond of- it’s too many Gimmicks for my taste- just give me a STORY and one that makes some kind of sense.)
    Pardon my ranting.

  4. Nancy Kelley says

    That would be an acceptable option, Megan. We’ve already seen his name written in Gallifreyan after all, and the world hasn’t fallen apart.

  5. Nancy Kelley says

    That theory is the best I’ve seen–not surprisingly, since it comes from someone who really knows Who inside and out.

    I agree that an actual reveal of the name, in English we can understand, would be horribly disappointing. I read another blog post recently which pointed out that the title “Doctor Who” is one of the best titles around, since it immediately makes the audience want to know more. Take away the mystery, and you take away the appeal.

  6. Nancy Kelley says

    Let’s Kill Hitler was a reference to the old time travel conundrum–if you go back in time and kill Hitler, someone else even worse may appear in his place.

    I like Moffat’s individual scripts (Blink is stellar), but at times I doubt his ideas for series-long story arcs. I liked series 5, but the series 6 finale was a let-down after six months of wondering how, exactly, the Doctor was going to be not-dead.