The Doctor Who fandom is starting to settle in the wake of the Season 12 finale, an episode that saw decades of lore undone and a slate wiped clean, for better or for worse. The community around the show will be left to its own devices until the show returns for a special this holiday season, so one fan came up with a theory that allows both the old and new lore to coexist. Be warned: it contains a lot of wibbly wobbly timey wimey stuff, including a character from the show's genesis in 1963.
Spoilers for Season 12 of Doctor Who ahead
In case you missed it, "The Timeless Children" revealed The Doctor is the legendary "Timeless Child" that founded the Gallifreyan Time Lords as we know it. Or is she? Reddit user loosedata suggests the Timeless Child wasn't the Doctor at all, but that the story was input into the Time Lord record (the Matrix) in order to protect the real Timeless Child: Susan Foreman, The Doctor's "granddaughter," seen in the first ever episodes of Doctor Who 57 years ago.
Here's how the chronology works: the Timeless Child is a closely guarded secret, only known by The Matrix. Should a Time Lord stumble upon this forbidden information, it will be wiped from their minds as soon as it's no longer needed to be known. As the theory goes, The Doctor, a regular and rebellious Time Lord, discovers the secret and escapes with Susan before the Matrix can do the memory wipe.
They settle on Earth, but continue to go on adventures. This is the time when the rebellious Time Lord takes on the name of "The Doctor" while they protect Susan. During one of those adventures, the Matrix gets damaged, and The Doctor seizes the opportunity. When asked who the Timeless Child is, The Doctor volunteers themselves, after which the Matrix does its standard memory erasing.
Therefore, the Doctor is mistakenly believed to be the Timeless Child by the Time Lords, unaware that Susan actually holds that title. The memory wipe explains why this is all new information to The Doctor, and will probably happen again when the Matrix catches up with them in the future. This means the Ruth Doctor would be the 14th Doctor and would have no memory of these events when she encountered the 13th.
It's a big of a longshot theory, but it's far fromt he wildest thing Doctor Who has done. Living records? That's exactly what Testimony was in the 2017 Christmas special. Memory erasing? Donna Noble's fate unfortunately meant all memories of The Doctor were erased. Fans still have more than 8 months until the show returns, so there's no harm in guessing where it will go next, even if it's notoriously unpredictable.
Doctor Who returns this winter on BBC America.