5 Ways The Doctor Who Comics Are Canon (& 5 They’re Not)

Doctor Who is not just on television, it is also a story told in comic form. However, there is still a question of whether these are canon or not?

Doctor Who is continuing to expand as a universe and a franchise. Since it has been around for over 50 years, it’s not surprising that the TV show has made it’s way into every medium. From escape rooms, to films, novels and now even comic books for fans to enjoy.

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There’s an ongoing debate as to whether the comics themselves are actually canon. Some believe that it’s only the TV show and films that are considered to be canon, although that has recently become far more complex an issue considering the changes in the continuity of the show. There’s plenty of arguments for and against the idea that it’s actually all significantly connected.

10 Are Not Canon: Contradictions With The Show

Christopher Ecclestone Doctor Who


There’s plenty of contradictions throughout the comics that largely affect the show itself. The reason for this is that Doctor Who is known to repeatedly retcon things, meaning anything outside of the TV series is forgotten about.

The TV show always comes first when it comes to writing, unlike with other shared universes like Star Wars there is no one to oversee all of the various creative outlets that the brand is being presented in. This results in a lot of changes that don’t match up.

9 Are Canon: Wibbly Wobbly Timey Wimey

Doctor Who Comic 10th 11th 12th Doctors BBC

Wibbly wobbly timey wimey is usually a statement used in the show to explain strange paradoxes, confusing timelines and pretty much when continuity is all but lost. It’s an easy way to explain the comics therefore.

The comics can be seen as if they are adventures that really did happen, making them canon. However, all the big changes in the universe means the Doctor may not remember them or they might be slightly different. The comics are canon therefore but don’t have a large impact.

8 Are Not Canon: Lack Of Acknowledgement

Doctor who Jodie Doctor

Whether it’s the enemies they have fought, the friends they have made or the events that affected their adventures, what happens in the comics is never referenced in the TV shows, perhaps because the writers have never actually read them.

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The Big Finish Production radio dramas have been referenced before, confirming that they are indeed canon. But since the comics don’t even have any loose connections, it’s difficult to say that they are definitely considered a part of the story.

7 Are Canon: New Initiative

Time Lord Victorious Doctor Who

There’s a brand new initiative called Time Lord Victorious which brings together many of the past doctors, their companions and huge enemies like the Daleks. It’s a cross promotional affair unlike anything they have done before.

With radio productions, escape rooms and even events in the theater, there’s a lot to unpack here. Any comics released as part of this larger story will therefore be considered to be canon!

6 Are Not Canon: Wiping Out Old Continuity

Jode Doctor Who BBC

It’s common for the TV show to completely reset time and wipe out any previous continuity. It’s happened a number of times, from a big bang episode, to the revelation that the Doctor’s history is far more complex than anyone imagined.

It’s natural for a TV show to go through some soft reboots as it were, but every time it does so it removes itself further and further away from the comics. The benefit of this though is freer story telling.

5 Are Canon: Plenty Of Gaps

David Tennenth 10th Doctor Who BBC

The history of the show is extremely long, that means there’s plenty of gaps to fill in. The comics do a great job of looking for places where other stories can fit in, without affecting the main narrative of the universe.

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In some ways therefore these comics are designed not to affect anything major, but still be fun adventures that these characters and any version of the Doctor, actually went on. That attention to detail suggests that this could be a canon line of comics.

4 Are Not Canon: No Continuity

Daleks Tom Baker Doctor Who 4th

There’s actually not a lot of continuity within the comics themselves. A lot of them jump across time, using different doctors in stories of varying degrees of wackiness. They are used on different platforms too.

For instance the Doctor Who magazine may include sections of comics, while there’s also a comic title run. With little continuity throughout the comics themselves, it’s unlikely they could be considered canon to the show.

3 Are Canon: Produced By The BBC

3rd Doctor Who BBC

Sometimes the rights to a brand are licensed out and that brand doesn’t have much involvement in what happens. Why other comic publishers do produce the comics, the BBC do have oversight in regards to what happens.

In theory therefore, whether it’s a terrifying alien seen previously on the show, or perhaps a story that may add new dimensions to the TARDIS, the BBC have a say over whether the story goes ahead, suggesting it is canon.

2 Are Not Canon: Similar To The Books

Matt Smith 11th Doctor Amy Pond Doctor Who

The books are actually very similar to how the comics work. The books are usually not considered to be canon. Therefore, it can be assumed that the comics are also not canon at all.

The radio productions have been confirmed to be canon in the past, but since other materials haven’t had that confirmation, before Timelord Victorious, it seems difficult to say that any comic title is part of the shared continuity.

1 Are Canon: Other Doctors

Jodie Ruth Doctor Who BBC

There’s so many other versions of the Doctor being brought into the continuity that things have become even more confused. There’s now ways that the comics can play into this. The latest season of the show blew the minds of fans by revealing this information.

If the comics take advantage of the fact that there are different stories with Doctors that the audience have never met, then they could be considered canon. They may even be able to flesh out the early history of Gallifrey a little more.

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Updated: November 10, 2020 — 3:00 am

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