The Whoniverse Guide to "Canon"
The word "canon" is often used to describe which stories count as part of the Doctor Who Mythos. Although we do not accept that there is any official canon, and the correct word for the scope of Doctor Who stories is most probably "continuity", the word "canon" is widely used to mean "the stories I consider to count". This page, therefore, describes the extent of the "canon" of stories which this site may cover in at least some of its guides.
Criteria for Inclusion
There are three issues which define whether a story is in continuity.
If a story is officially licensed by the BBC as a Doctor Who story, then it is almost always considered in continuity. If the story does not have a BBC license, but does feature characters who were created for a Doctor Who story, then it also counts if it is officially licensed by whoever owns the relevant rights. Hence the Bernice Summerfield spin-offs, which do not need to be licensed by the BBC, can also be counted.
If a story falls into a grey area, then we should probably give it the benefit of the doubt. For example, Jim Mortimore's novel Campaign was dropped by the BBC after they had signed the contract for it. Although the novel was published independently, it still has a good claim to be officially approved. Craig Hinton and Chris McKeon's novel Time's Champion was never officially licensed, so does not. However, as it wraps up continuity threads ignored by the novel featuring the Sixth Doctor's official regeneration and serves as a tribute to the late Craig Hinton, we like to pretend that it was.
A story can also be made official by association. Jon Blum's fan video Time Rift was not officially licensed. However, the eighth Doctor novel Vampire Science is very clearly a sequel to that story, hence we can assume that Time Rift is in continuity.
If a story (or scenes from a story) has not been released, then it is not yet in continuity. So we do not include leaks and spoilers about forthcoming stories (and, generally speaking prefer to watch new stories without being spoilered). Nor do we include material that was written, recorded, or filmed, but which has never been made available to the public.
Some officially licensed stories were never intended to be part of the ongoing story of the Doctor, or the universe in which he lives. Such stories are not considered strictly in continuity. We will cover them, but these "Unbound" stories will usually be clearly marked and categorised as such. The most prominent examples of such stories are the Peter Cushing Dalek movies and Big Finish's Unbound series of audios. Comedy skits about the series and stories where the actors step out of character are considered out of continuity rather than unbound.
List of In-Continuity Stories
The following sets of stories are considered part of the main continuity. If we have missed anything off the list, please let us know in the comments.
- The Classic TV Series from 1963-1989, including the unfinished fourth Doctor story Shada
- A Fix With Sontarans, a short sketch from Jim'll Fix It
- The Children in Need charity specials Dimensions in Time, Pudsey Cutaway, and Time Crash. Though Dimensions in Time is a dream sequence.
- The 1996 TV Movie
- The New TV Series from 2005 onwards
- Attack of the Graske, the interactive story broadcast at Christmas 2005
- Animated stories broadcast by the BBC
- Short in-continuity tie-in scenes released on the BBC website or DVD extras.
- The Target novelisations of televised stories. However, as retellings of the TV stories, they are considered alternative versions which may not be entirely true. If a novelisation contradicts that in the TV story, the televised version takes precedence.
- The Companions of Doctor Who novels (though K9 and Company counts as a novelisation)
- The three missing season novelisations
- The four K9 picture books
- The 1980s Find Your Fate books (although it's anyone's guess which version is the one that "actually happened")
- The Virgin New Adventures, published from 1991-1997
- The Virgin Missing Adventures, published from 1993-1997
- Who Killed Kennedy, a one-off novel by Virgin
- The 15 Doctor Who novellas published by Telos
- The BBC Eighth Doctor Adventures published from 1997-2005
- The BBC Past Doctor Adventures published from 1997-2005
- The BBC New Series Adventures and other new series tie-in novels published from 2005 onwards.
- Death Comes to Time
- Real Time
- Shada (the eighth Doctor version)
- Doctor Who and the Pescatons LP from 1976
- Slipback, broadcast in 1985
- The Paradise of Death, broadcast in 1993
- The Ghosts of N-Space, broadcast in 1996
- Big Finish's monthly series of Doctor Who audios
- Big Finish's Eighth Doctor audios, originally broadcast on BBC7
- All of Big Finish's Doctor Who miniseries except for the Doctor Who Unbound audios
- All stories on the free CDs and Big Finish downloads given away with Doctor Who Magazine
- The Tom Baker audios
- Big Finish's Companion Chronicles series
- Big Finish's Lost Story series (though some versions may be taken as the novelisation to the original novelisation)
Note that any short stories within a collection which tie into an Unbound story are considered Unbound regardless of the status of the rest of the collection.
- Virgin Books' first three Decalog collections
- BBC Books' three Short Trips collections, including the stories only available on the audiobook versions, and on the Earth and Beyond and Out of the Darkness audiobooks
- Big Finish's Short Trips collections
- All short stories from the Doctor Who Annuals and the Doctor Who Storybooks which have been published since 2005
- All comic strips written for Doctor Who Magazine and associated specials, yearbooks, or storybooks
- All comic strips written for Doctor Who Adventures and the associated annuals
- All comic strips written for Battles in Time
- Some or all of the TV Comic and TV Century 21 era comics (those featuring John and Gillian are clearly stated to have happened within the Land of Fiction. It's unclear what the status of some of the other stories is).
- All comic strips written for IDW, with the exception of the Star Trek crossover.
- The Ultimate Adventure (one of the short stories establishes that the versions with all three lead actors are somehow in continuity)
- The stories collected on Sky Ray Ice Lolly wrappers
- The Destiny of the Doctors computer game
- The Adventure Games downloadable from the BBC website
The following sets of stories are considered to be Unbound
The Cushing Movies
Dr Who and the Daleks and Daleks - Invasion Earth 2150 AD are both retellings of televised stories with a clearly different lead character to the one on TV. Hence they are Unbound stories.
Big Finish Unbounds
Big Finish's Doctor Who Unbound audios are clearly intended to be outside the canon.
Alternate Ninth Doctors
Although The Gallifrey Chronicles establishes that there are three ninth Doctors running about the Whoniverse, we are treating the stories starring the two alternative ninth Doctors as Unbound. These stories are The Scream of the Shalka and The Curse of the Fatal Death.
Doctor Who and the Daleks in the Seven Keys to Doomsday featured an alternative Doctor, and hence is Unbound.
There are a number of Doctor Who spinoffs which we count as being in continuity. If we've left anything out, please say so in the comments.
K9 and Company
This one-off TV pilot from 1981 is unquestionably in continuity
The "adult" TV spinoff starring Captain Jack Harkness, including the Torchwood novels, audios, and comic strips.
The Sarah Jane Adventures
The "children's" TV spinoff series starring Sarah Jane Smith, including audios
There are a number of spinoff series starring Bernice Summerfield
- The New Adventures published by Virgin books from 1997 to 1999
- Decalog 4 (an anthology actually featuring the ancestors of Roz Forrester, included here for convenience, despite not featuring Benny or any of her supporting cast)
- [[The Judgement of Solomon]] from the Decalog 5 short story anthology. The other stories in the anthology do not tie in to the Doctor Who Universe, so may or may not be in continuity.
- Big Finish's Bernice Summerfield novels, short stories, and novellas
- Big Finish's Bernice Summerfield audios (with the possible exception of Season 1, which are rewrites of previous stories, and so follow the same rules as Doctor Who novelisations)
Telos's Time Hunter novellas follow on from their Doctor Who novella The Cabinet of Light, although as it features an unknown future Doctor, they might technically be Unbound. The DVD Daemos Rising ties into this series.
The Kaldor City audios follow on from The Robots of Death and Corpse Marker
The Faction Paradox books, audios, and comic strips pick up the story of the War in Heaven which was dropped (and possibly unhappened) from the Eighth Doctor novels.
The TV series featuring a heavily redesigned K-9 is probably in continuity.
Other Fictional Universes
There have been a number of official crossover stories between the Whoniverse and other fictional universes over the years. We aim to chronicle most, if not all, of these crossover stories. In certain cases the whole of that other fictional universe might be considered to be in continuity, and we might cover them in more detail. If a fictional crossover is not listed here, the chances are that we simply haven't decided which category it is in yet.
The following fictional universes are considered fully part of the continuity
Corpse Marker and the Kaldor City audios clearly follow on from Blake's Seven and there is no evidence to deny that this is the same universe.
The Quatermass Continuum
There have been a number of sly references to the Quatermass stories. The most blatant was the appearance of Bernard Quatermass in The Dying Days. There have been no indications that these are not the same continuity.
The following fictional universes are considered out of continuity. We may cover licensed crossover stories, and will note the occasional reference to them, but do not consider them part of the Doctor Who continuity.
There have been a few novels which make sly references to Star Trek as if it were part of the Whoniverse, and one cross-over comic strip by IDW. However the evidence overwhelmingly shows that it is a TV Show within the Whoniverse. These include Benny talking about one of the films in The Dying Days, both Izzy and Destrii watching the show in Oblivion, and Rose Tyler commenting about Mr Spock in The Empty Child.
The Marvel Universe
When Marvel Comics owned Doctor Who Magazine there were occasional stories where the Doctor would meet characters from the Marvel Universe, most famously Merlin and Death's Head. There have also been a few sly references to Marvel characters within some of the books, and a few characters originally from Doctor Who Magazine later turned up in stories clearly set in the Marvel Universe.. References to various Marvel comics as being comics aren't conclusive, as these exist within the Marvel Universe as well. However, it is quite obvious that contemporary Earth is not crawling with Marvel-style superheroes (or DC ones for that matter). The local galactic/intergalactic empires that are a huge part of the Marvel Universe are similarly absent from the Whoniverse. Furthermore, putting the UNIT dating issue aside, there is no evidence that the Earth of the Whoniverse is suffering from the "sliding timescale" that slows down ageing within Marvel's comics. The simplest way to treat these references is to assume that the Doctor occasionally pops across into the Marvel Universe/Multiverse, since many of these crossovers do involve at least one character travelling between different universes, and since that is also the explanation for various Marvel/DC crossovers.