Doctor Who: The Doctor’s Children Explained


Doctor Who season 14, episode 7, “The Legend of Ruby Sunday” has revealed information that further complicates what we know about the Doctor’s children. The very first episode of Doctor Who, back in 1963, revealed that the First Doctor (William Hartnell) and his granddaughter Susan (Carole Ann Ford) were living on Earth after fleeing their home planet for reasons unknown. Over 60 years later, in “The Legend of Ruby Sunday”, the audience is led to believe that the Doctor’s granddaughter Susan could be Susan Triad, played by Susan Twist.

However, teasing the Fifteenth Doctor (Ncuti Gatwa) with the return of his granddaughter was part of a cruel trick by returning Fourth Doctor villain Sutekh (Gabriel Woolf). Following the reveal that Susan Triad is an avatar for Sutekh, the whereabouts of the Doctor’s granddaughter, Susan remain a mystery. More than that, “The Legend of Ruby Sunday” further complicates where exactly Susan comes in the Doctor’s timeline, implying that her parents haven’t even been born yet. This revelation drastically changes what Doctor Who had previously revealed about the Doctor’s children.

Everything Doctor Who Has Revealed About The Doctor’s Children

From the very start of Doctor Who it’s always been implicit that the Doctor had been a father, because William Hartnell’s Doctor was a grandfather. However, there were never explicit references to the Doctor being a parent until Russell T Davies revived Doctor Who in 2005. The first reference to the Doctor being a parent was in Steven Moffat’s very first Doctor Who episode, “The Empty Child”, when the Ninth Doctor (Christopher Eccleston) and Dr. Constantine (Richard Wilson) commiserated both losing children and grandchildren in war.

It’s therefore always been widely accepted that the Doctor has had children who were likely killed or lost in the Time War.

In Doctor Who season 12, episode 11, “Fear Her”, the Tenth Doctor (David Tennant) offhandedly mentioned being a father, but never gave a further explanation. Years later, in Doctor Who season 7, episode 7, “A Good Man Goes to War”, the Eleventh Doctor (Matt Smith) refused to answer the question of whether he ever had children. It’s therefore always been widely accepted that the Doctor has had children who were likely killed or lost in the Time War. The Tenth Doctor practically confirms this fact in Doctor Who season 4, episode 6, “The Doctor’s Daughter”, when he says:

I can see them. The hole they left, all the pain that filled it. I just don’t know if I can face that every day.

Clara Oswald (Jenna Coleman) further confirmed this in Doctor Who season 8, episode 12, “Death in Heaven”, when she pretended to be the Doctor. Surrounded by Cybermen, she said that the Doctor’s children and grandchildren were missing, presumed dead following the Time War. Clara also added that the Doctor had a non-Gallifreyan child, Jenny (Georgia Moffet), born via genetic transfer. Then, finally, the Fifteenth Doctor tells Ruby Sunday (Millie Gibson) that he had children and a granddaughter in Doctor Who season 14, episode 2, “The Devil’s Chord”, which is what makes his revelation about Susan’s parents so strange.

The Doctor’s Children Haven’t Been Born Yet (According To Fifteen)

For all the Doctor Who mysteries answered by season 14, episode 7, Russell T Davies couldn’t resist muddying the waters when it comes to the Doctor’s children. Asked about his granddaughter by Kate Lethbridge-Stewart (Jemma Redgrave), the Doctor explains that he doesn’t have children “yet”. From a linear perspective, this is a reversal of what’s previously been revealed about the Doctor’s children, but given that the Doctor is a Time Lord, linear perspectives never cover the full story. The Doctor and Kate’s dialog exchange give some clues as to how both things can be true:

Kate: But, you mean you can have a granddaughter before a daughter?

The Doctor: Life of a Time Lord…

This revelation does imply that a future version of the Doctor could settle down and have children, one of whom goes on to have Susan. This would mean that the Doctor’s life is a closed loop, with some event sending Susan back to the start of her grandfather’s journey through time and space. It’s highly unlikely that Doctor Who will ever reveal Susan’s parents, nor the mother of the Doctor’s children. However, much like Trenzalore during the Steven Moffat era, the birth of the Doctor’s children could be a fixed end point for the story of The Last of the Time Lords.


The Doctor Has At Least One Grandchild – Susan

No matter the timey wimey nature of her origins, the Doctor definitely does have a granddaughter – Susan Foreman – whom he left Gallifrey with. The Doctor and Susan traveled together, and eventually parted when she was left on Earth to help rebuild Earth following a Dalek invasion in 2150 AD. The Doctor chose to leave Susan behind because her partner, David Campbell, could give his granddaughter a stable life. However, some accounts have questioned if Susan is even the Doctor’s biological granddaughter, with spinoff media proposing several alternative theories.

The 1983 short story, Birth of a Renegade, written by then-script editor Eric Saward revealed that Susan was a descendant of Rassilon, the founder of Time Lord society. In this account, the Doctor took Susan away from Gallifrey to evade Rassilon’s political opponents. Although part of an official piece of merchandise, the Doctor Who 20th Anniversary Special, and written by Doctor Who’s script editor, Birth of a Renegade has been ignored by canon. The references to Susan in Doctor Who season 14 confirm without a doubt that she’s the Doctor’s biological granddaughter.

What Happened To Jenny, The Doctor’s Daughter

The Doctor also has a confirmed daughter, Jenny, who was created by cloning technology on the planet Messaline. Their progenation machines could grow full-size humans to help fight their never-ending war against the Hath. In that respect, the progenation machines in Doctor Who season 4, episode 6, “The Doctor’s Daughter” bore a resemblance to the Gallifreyan looms from expanded media. In various Doctor Who novels by Marc Platt like Cat’s Cradle and Lungbarrow, it was asserted that Gallifreyan children aren’t made by biological procreation, they’re genetically “weaved” on great looms. However, this fact has never been confirmed on-screen.

While the Tenth Doctor struggled to accept his cloned daughter at first, he and Jenny did eventually bond. Sadly, tragedy struck, and Jenny was gunned down by the increasingly unhinged General Cobb. As Jenny was a combination of Gallifreyan and human DNA, the Doctor didn’t believe that she could regenerate. Therefore, he, Donna Noble (Catherine Tate) and Martha Jones (Freema Agyeman) left Jenny’s body to be buried on Messaline. However, Jenny was able to regenerate to an extent that healed her wounds, and she set out across the stars to be a hero like her father.

Are Any Of The Doctor’s Children Still Alive?

It’s even possible that Jenny could turn out to be Susan’s mother further down the line, as Carole Ann Ford left the show long before Time Lord biology was even thought up.

In Doctor Who season 14, episode 2, “The Devil’s Chord”, the Fifteenth Doctor speculated that the Master’s genocide may even have affected Time Lords who weren’t on Gallifrey at the time. This would mean that any of the Doctor’s children, past, present or future, would be dead following the events of “The Timeless Children”. However, as she’s not fully Gallifreyan, the Doctor’s daughter Jenny would have been spared from this fate. It’s even possible that Jenny could turn out to be Susan’s mother further down the line, as Carole Ann Ford left the show long before Time Lord biology was even thought up.

So, Jenny is the only one of the Doctor’s children who remains alive in the Doctor Who universe. Tragically for both characters, the Doctor isn’t even aware that Jenny’s still alive, while the Doctor’s daughter has no means of tracking her father down as he never stays in one place and time for long enough. As for the Doctor’s granddaugher Susan and her parents, they remain missing presumed dead following the dual catastrophes of the Time War against the Daleks and the Master’s genocide.