I know the "Is X a Timelord" discussion gets a bit old, but I think we should come up with a consistent scheme.

As far as I know the first question of this kind was asked by TangoOversway:

Which has received a score of +34-6 (as of this writing) and was not closed.

However, similar questions asking if some fictional character that exhibits any similarity with The Doctor could be a Timelord are typically closed. I know there were some of these questions in the past, but I cannot find them right now (maybe they were even deleted after being closed). The most recent question

Was closed as not constructive with a score of +3-3. From the original question that remained open for about a year now (it was never closed/reopened), it would appear that the community considers the question valid, although there is barely any qualitative difference between these questions.

There have been two claims that were supposed to be an argument why the latter should be closed and the former be left open:

  1. "Santa Claus appeared on DW while James Bond did not. "

    That is

    • a) incorrect, as James Bond has been mentioned several times in DW episodes, and
    • b) actually irrelevant as it would be part of a potential answer, not legitimation for closing the question.
  2. "The Santa questions asks in Universe for the Santa that appeared on-screen."

    • That is incorrect; The question text doesn't even mention that Santa had an on-screen appearance and even remarks

      His appearance changes from movie to movie, indicating he might undergo regenerations between movies.

      which indicates that it is actually asking about the general figure of Santa Clause as it appears on various media, including but not limited to DW (note that there was only one DW film).

By this reasoning, the questions are equivalent and either all such questions asking if a figure that exists outside the DW universe is a Timelord should be closed or all should be okay (within reason; some argument for the potential validity of the claim must always be provided).

  • 7
    Is Santa a Timelord was the first, and it was allowed to stay. But all subsequent out of universe Timelord questions have been closed. That is the evolution of site. Just like StackOverflow has questions that were initially asked and upvoted, but which similar questions today are no longer allowed. Commented Nov 28, 2012 at 23:03
  • 1
    IIRC the Santa question had a couple of close votes, but not the 5 it would have taken to close it, at least not within the 4-day period until close votes expire.
    – user56
    Commented Nov 28, 2012 at 23:05
  • 2
    @JackBNimble: These questions are typically closed, locked and protected on SO.
    – bitmask
    Commented Nov 28, 2012 at 23:08
  • @Gilles It does now. I have to agree that this is not a constructive question. It would make a great blog post or essay. Commented Nov 29, 2012 at 15:22
  • So, would anyone say Jesus is a time lord? Do we want to go there?
    – MPelletier
    Commented Nov 29, 2012 at 16:07
  • @MPelletier That fictional figure does not seem to exhibit any properties of Timelords. Besides, religion is deemed off-topic, so we cannot discuss any works of fantasy or fiction anybody claims to be true.
    – bitmask
    Commented Nov 29, 2012 at 16:47
  • @bitmask Came back from the dead, portrayed in numerous movies with different actors, seemingly immortal, the same flawed arguments apply! ;)
    – MPelletier
    Commented Nov 29, 2012 at 16:50
  • 2
    @bitmask that's not a particularly accurate description of our policy on religious questions. Just because someone claims it to be true is not sufficient criteria. I'm also quite sure Jesus Christ: Vampire Hunter would be on-topic here.
    – Beofett
    Commented Nov 29, 2012 at 17:52
  • Santa Claus exists in Doctor Who. James Bond doesn't exist in Doctor Who. James Bond exists in Doctor Who. I think that's an important distinction when considering if the questions are valid.
    – user1030
    Commented Dec 1, 2012 at 12:40
  • 1
    @JoeWreschnig: If the distinction is that important, would you care to define the semantics of italics in this context?
    – bitmask
    Commented Dec 1, 2012 at 13:19
  • 4
    @bitmask - James Bond = real person per that fictional universe. James Bond = fictional person in a fictional universe. Santa Claus is a real being in the Doctor Who universe, but James remains an invention of Ian Fleming there, and therefore fictional. At least until they decide to change that :)
    – K-H-W
    Commented Dec 1, 2012 at 16:28

1 Answer 1


I personally think that both questions are not constructive, since they are IMO cross-universe questions. While they may have been mentioned in DW episodes, the questions clearly are talking about bringing in elements of established canon outside of DW to argue for/against their point.

A lot of established fiction is supposed to take place in "our" universe, so mentions of popular figures inherent to the "real" world is bound to happen in any fictional universe. Unless the mentions are specific enough to show that the character/thing exists in a non-fictional way within the universe then I think that any questions that attempt to cross-reference separate fictional universes is non-constructive.

Examples of mentions that fall into the within-universe category are pervasive in the Marvel movie franchises. While a character may have only a passing reference (a la Captain America's shield in Iron Man 2) it makes it clear that the character actually exists and is not merely the same fictional depiction of the character from our "reality" interspersed into the fictional universe. Therefore questions that ask about something like "Where was Captain America when Iron Man was battling the Hammer drones?" is perfectly natural and an OK question.

An example of a "bad" cross-universe category mention might involve asking the question "How many Twilight werewolves come from Muggle families?" "Werewolves" exist in each universe, so one might be inclined to ask crossover questions, however these questions are IMO very non-constructive, as it is clear that the fictional universes were not meant to have that type of cross-over.

TL;DR; If the question can establish that the character/thing exists in the universe in question in a non-fictional way, then the question is fine, otherwise it is not constructive.

  • This is how I understand cross-universe (as opposed to shared universe) questions a la "Does X from Universe A apply to Y from Universe B?" --- read as "Pretend the property X from A exists in B; Would it then apply to Y?" For example; "Pretend there are Timelords in our universe, would James Bond be a Timelord then?" It is still speculative, but it is not entirely impossible to answer it.
    – bitmask
    Commented Nov 29, 2012 at 0:41
  • 4
    still speculative and not constructive at all. ain't nobody searching google for that bizness. Commented Nov 29, 2012 at 6:41

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