Bigger on the Inside

Doctor Who Seems To Confirm Star Trek Exists In The Whoniverse

Will the TARDIS ever materialize on the Enterprise? Has it already?

Ncuti Gatwa and Millie Gibson in 'Doctor Who' Season 1, Episode 1, "Space Babies."
BBC/Disney+
Doctor Who

In “Space Babies,” the debut episode of the newly relaunched 2024 Doctor Who “Season 1” (or Season 14, or Season 40, depending on how you count) the Doctor (Ncuti Gatwa) and Ruby Sunday (Millie Gibson) have a quick discussion about how beaming works in the universe of Star Trek. When the Doctor makes one small quip, fans of both venerable sci-fi franchises might wonder if travel between the Final Frontier and the Whoinverse, is, indeed possible in some kind of mega-geek-multiverse.

While Doctor Who is clearly making a quick joke here, there’s a long history of the two franchises referencing each other with a loving nod. But, on top of that, there’s also a precedent for a legit crossover between Trek and Who, a crossover that current showrunner Russell T Davies would say that he would love to see happen. No spoilers ahead for “Space Babies.”

The 15th Doctor references Star Trek

Could the Doctor and Ruby visit the world of Star Trek?

BBC/Disney+

At the start of “Space Babies,” Ruby asks the Doctor if they were just beamed somewhere, saying “Is that like a matter transporter? Like in Star Trek?” The Doctor grins broadly and says, “We gotta visit them one day.” This is not the first time Doctor Who has referenced Star Trek (or that Trek has referenced Who) but, it does seem to be the biggest indication to date — at least on screen — that the canon of Trek could exist in an adjacent dimension, rather than just as fiction.

Throughout all of post-2005 Doctor Who, there have been multiple references to characters and ideas from the Star Trek franchise. Rose called the 9th Doctor “Spock,” in the Season 1 episode “The Empty Child,” the 10th Doctor flashed the Vulcan “live long and prosper” hand symbol in the Season 2 episode “Fear Her,” while the 12th Doctor evoked the famous opening lines “Space... the final frontier,” in the Season 10 episode “Oxygen.” And that’s just a small sampling of Trek Easter eggs in Who!

In comic book form, Star Trek: The Next Generation and Doctor Who formally had a crossover in the 2012 IDW miniseries titled Assimilation², in which the 11th Doctor, Amy, and Rory found themselves on the USS Enterprise-D, helping Jean-Luc Picard and the crew thwart a team-up between Trek baddies the Borg and the very similar Who villains, the Cybermen.

And, it’s in this last example, where one has to wonder, is the 11th Doctor’s visit to the Enterprise low-key canon? Is the 15th Doctor hinting to Ruby — and to us — that literal crossover between Trek and Who could be a thing?

Russell T Davies wants a Star Trek crossover

Russell T Davies, a lifelong Star Trek fan, wants a Doctor Who crossover ASAP.

Ian West - PA Images/PA Images/Getty Images

Speaking to Inverse ahead of the launch of the new season of Doctor Who, returning showrunner Russell T Davies gushed about his own personal Trek fandom, saying “I love that show... I wish we could [cross over with Trek.] I’m a huge fan of the new franchise.”

Davies also sets the record straight a bit about a pervasive myth that suggests a crossover between the series Enterprise and Doctor Who nearly actually happened, almost 20 years ago. “Back in 2005, I talked about a crossover with Enterprise,” Davies says. “I talked about it to myself in my office and never did anything about it. It’s like, please don't think there were ever plans or approaches or treatments or anything like that. That’s just me musing. But wouldn’t it have been brilliant?”

That said, Davies also says that the way in which the Doctor refers to Star Trek in “Space Babies” was “a deliberate shift.” This isn’t just an accident, but rather, Davies planting the seeds for his own fanfic crossover, for the day that lawyers couldn’t interfere.

“The Doctor actually now talks about Star Trek as real,” Davies explains. “Maybe when the [14th] Doctor cast that salt at the edge of the universe, maybe some things became real that were never real before.”

So, there you have it. Thanks to the Toymaker’s legions, it seems that the multiverse of Doctor Who just moved a little closer to the voyages of the Starship Enterprise, and maybe, beyond.

Doctor Who’s new season streams on Disney+. Seasons 1-13 (2005-2022) stream on Max. The classic show (1963-1989) streams on Britbox.

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