The Definitive ‘Doctor Who’ Guide for Non-Whovians

“Doctor Who” is a popular British sci-fi TV show. You may love the show and know everything about it. You might have heard of it in passing. You may have friends who watch it. You may even have friends in the “Cedarville Whovians” Facebook group. But what if you don’t really know much about the show? This guide will give you a glimpse into the world of “Doctor Who.”

The Doctor

The Doctor is a time-traveling alien, but he looks human. He’s thousands of years old, has two hearts and is almost impossible to kill. Well, you can kill him, but he’ll just regenerate into another incarnation of himself. He gets lonely but tends to travel with human companions who accompany him on his adventures.

Sonic Screwdriver

It’s not actually a screwdriver, but it is sonic. The sonic screwdriver is a tool used by the Doctor in a myriad of ways. Sometimes, it’s a weapon used defensively against other aliens, normally vicious aliens trying to kill the Doctor or wipe out humanity on Earth.

But the sonic screwdriver is also a scientific tool, used for diagnostics and for opening locks and doing other such tasks. The irony? Most incarnations of the screwdriver wouldn’t work on wood.

Doctor Who Series 8

Ray Burmistan, ©BBC/BBC Worldwide 2014
Clara Oswald (above) is the Doctor’s current companion. Known as “The Impossible Girl,” (particularly to the eleventh Doctor) she made the jump between actors Matt Smith and Peter Capaldi playing the Doctor.


Friends of the Doctor. He tends to have only one (female) companion at a time, but that’s not always the case. And sometimes, his companions have brought a boyfriend/fiance/husband on adventures before. There typically isn’t any romantic involvement between the Doctor and his companion, but occasionally there is some (or a lot of) flirting.

The Doctor seems to choose his companions somewhat randomly – sometimes it’s just a person he sees, but most of the time it’s someone he rescues from imminent danger from aliens.


The TARDIS is the Doctor’s time machine, the unmistakable blue police box. Fans know that it doesn’t just have a cool name, but it’s actually an acronym (TARDIS stands for Time And Relative Distance In Space). The TARDIS is either bigger on the inside or smaller on the outside, depending on who you ask.

To fans, the color of the TARDIS is a legitimate color and referred to as TARDIS blue (makes sense, right?).


Regeneration is how the Doctor changes forms, but he can’t do it all the time. When he’s about to die, the Doctor uses regeneration energy and transforms into the newest incarnation of himself. To this point, there have been 13 “Doctors,” with Peter Capaldi playing the 13th incarnation (but he’s known as the 12th Doctor.)

Along with the very obvious physical changes, the Doctor’s personality also changes with each regeneration. Sometimes, the Doctor is more fun and playful, other times, he’s more dark and ominous.


“Doctor Who” fan. But not just any old fan. You might say that Whovians are obsessed with the show. They know every detail and faithfully watch every episode. The only thing they don’t know is the Doctor’s name … but nobody knows that.

The Silence

Even though they are one of the most terrifying alien races in “Doctor Who,” the Silence don’t kill as many people as some of the other aliens. Instead, the Silence, also a religious order, just manipulate all of humanity. Throughout the first season with Matt Smith as the Doctor, the phrase “Silence will fall” was repeated, though the Silence didn’t actually appear until the next season. The Silence are more terrifying than other aliens because you can only remember what they look like or that they exist while you’re looking at them. The second you look away, you can’t remember anything (hence the marking of skin to count how many times you’ve seen them). Because of this, the Silence could give humans orders, and humanity would carry them out even though they couldn’t remember why.

Dalek © BBC. Daleks (top right) are small, tentacled creatures encased in armor.

Dalek © BBC. Daleks (top right) are small, tentacled creatures encased in armor.

Daleks, Cybermen and Weeping Angels

The Daleks, Cybermen and Weeping Angels are some of most well-known villains in Doctor Who. Both the Cybermen and Daleks originated in the original series and have been updated somewhat for the reboot.

The Cybermen are what they sound like – basically cyber humans (human brain with robot body). Cybermen are enemies of both the Doctor and the Daleks and are easily recognized by their metallic humanoid bodies and exclamations of “DELETE.”

The Weeping Angels are classified as one of the most terrifying Doctor Who villains. They look like stone angel statues, but they’re actually aliens, hiding, waiting to sneak up and get you. They can’t move while you’re looking at them, but the second you blink or look away, they’ll start to move. If they touch you, you die by being sent back into time to before you were born. DON’T BLINK.

The Daleks are the Doctor’s nemesis, so they meet up every now and then to duke it out. With their cry of “EXTERMINATE,” the Daleks are an unforgettable enemy.

How to Recognize a Whovian

  1. States love for (or is wearing) a bowtie, fez and/or 3D glasses
  2. Excessively uses the words “fantastic,” “geronimo,” and “allons-y”
  3. Declares that things are cool because they wear them, e.g., “I wear a fez now. Fezzes are cool.”
  4. Have tally marks drawn on their skin, especially on Doctor Who day (April 23)

Editor’s note: The article now reflects that Clara Oswald traveled with both the eleventh and twelfth Doctors. 

Lauren Eissler is a senior journalism major and editor-in-chief for Cedars. She essentially lives in the J-Lab, with her caffeine intake roughly corresponding to how many articles she’s writing, and tweets as @L_Eissler.

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