By this time, most of the general public has likely heard of the British television show “Doctor Who.” As the longest running show in television history, it really makes one think. Why has this show been able to have such an enormous run (roughly 35 years)? The answer to such a question can most likely be summed up in two words: the fan-base.
Back in the ‘70s, fans of the show showed nothing but the utmost devotion toward it, and with the show being rebooted in 2005, a generation of new fans was born.
The big question is simply: why? Why do these fans show such dedication to a fictional character that they will never meet or know? Well, there is a theory as to why this is and it is definitely a bold theory.
“Doctor Who” is not just a British television show; it’s a religion.
At first the thought of such a pop-culture phenomenon as “Doctor Who” sitting neatly alongside Christianity or Islam or some other major religion sounds like blasphemy, but just hear me out.
From my own personal experience, the main reason people tend to fall in love with the show is because of the head honcho himself, a human-like alien being only known as The Doctor. This character is witty, funny and likable, but he also knows when things are serious and should be taken seriously. Sounds like your basic protagonist to any show, but that is simply scratching the surface.
The Doctor is a semi-immortal being who can travel anywhere through space and time in his iconic blue police box called the TARDIS (or Time And Relative Dimensions In Space). Most religions involve a god-like figure that watches over everyone and everything, and that is exactly what The Doctor does. He flies back and forth between different times and different planets and saves the day from hostile alien beings.
The kicker for this theory though is The Doctor’s unequivocal devotion for the human race and how his supreme moral compass nearly always saves the day. Sure, we see a lot of super heroes who fall under the same umbrella. Heck, making a Superman comparison would be incredibly easy here, but there is one thing separating The Doctor and Superman.
Much like Superman, The Doctor is an alien. Superman, a Kryptonian from the planet Krypton and The Doctor, a Timelord from the planet Gallifrey. They both come to Earth and consistently save the planet from creatures beyond our comprehension. The Doctor, however, does not feel compelled to save the human race like Superman. Instead, The Doctor consistently saves Earth just because he genuinely loves humans and thinks they are a fascinating, young race. The Doctor has been to endless planets and times, but it seems he is always drawn back to Earth because he feels that humans are way too precious to let die, more so than any other race.
The Doctor never lives on the planet or tries to fit in like Superman does. Instead The Doctor is nothing but a myth to the planet except for the few humans he decides to take along with him on his adventures. This is key to the whole religion theory.
The fact of the matter is that we will never meet or see Superman or The Doctor. They are fictional and they always will be. The Doctor, however, is a character that is likable, yet destructive. He’s the embodiment of good, but he also has his faults. He is always present in the universe yet very few people know of or have even seen him. He loves every human for no real apparent reason and even has said, “You know that in 900 years of time and space, I’ve never met anybody who wasn’t important.”
The fact that The Doctor believes in a race that barely believes in itself is something that fans grasp on to desperately. That kind of adoration and trust is something that a lot of people don’t really see or feel every day, except in, you know, god himself. Even though fans know The Doctor is fictional and know that they will never see him or meet him, deep down those fans honestly wish, and in some cases believe, that he is actually out there protecting us from the horrors of the universe on a daily basis.
And what place does anyone else have to say differently? There is just as much proof that The Doctor exists than any god from any religion, so why can’t this be a true belief system? It seems silly to think that people might be out there praying to The Doctor and the Timelords for good fortune, but that’s not really what I’m saying. “Doctor Who” is full of life-lessons and realities that we as human beings face on a regular basis. Though the show is rooted deeply into science-fiction, at its core it could, in theory, serve the same purpose as holy scripture such as the Bible or the Koran. Those books teach its followers morality and love and that’s exactly the type of message that The Doctor spreads regularly.
If that isn’t the description of a religion, then I don’t know what is.