This policy applies to in-universe articles, and the sources which are valid in writing those articles. The article, tardis:resources, explains what sources are valid for out-of-universe articles.
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This whole thing needs to be rewritten without using the word canon. "Canon policy" is a term that predates Paul Cornell, RTD, and SM's widely known views on the possibility of canon in DW. We need to get away from using the term, because it will confuse and frustrate people within the DW community who have subscribed to the "Cornell view", and makes us look rather antiquarian for trying to hold onto it. Besides which, there is a difference between canon and this wiki's policy about what is in the DWU and what is not.

The canon policy of this wiki exists to help both readers and editors identify the scope of our project. It does not reflect either an "official" statement by the British Broadcasting Corporation, nor any one fan's opinion. It is a practical, and in some instances, arbitrary, restriction on the items we will cover on this wiki. Yes, we know: Russell T Davies, Paul Cornell, Steven Moffat and others have all opined that there can't be such a thing as canon in a show about a time-traveller. But they're writers trying to protect their own output from being retconned at some future date. Put another way, they aren't writing an encyclopedia about the Doctor Who universe. We are. So we have to establish some kind of boundaries for what we will and won't include — or we'll be forced to cover some fan's Rose Tyler/Dodo Chaplet lesbian love story on LiveJournal. And we're just not going to do that.[1]

What's generally canonEdit

We believe that the main determinant of whether a story "counts" is whether it was officially licensed by the BBC. Thus, you should generally assume that if it has "© BBC" somewhere on it, it's allowable on this wiki. Following that simple guideline will allow you to determine whether a story is regarded as canon by this wiki well over 90% of the time.

Canon is importantEdit

Why does it matter whether we think something is canon or not? Because only canonical stories can be used to describe an "in-universe" topic. For instance, if we were writing about Sarah Jane Smith's experience of the country of Italy, we could use anything within The Masque of Mandragora, because this wiki considers that a canonical story. We could not use something from a 1986 fanzine in which Sarah Jane was described as having visited Sicily.

Although any fan is clearly allowed to believe whatever they want to about canon, and the superiority of their canon to someone else's canon, we have to work to a common standard on this wiki, or our articles will gradually become muddled. Thus, we must know what "counts" and what doesn't. To that end, we re-iterate that almost everything that contains "© BBC" or "licensed by the BBC" is definitely canon.

What's trickier are those minority of stories which live on the margins of the copyright.

Things we don't consider canonEdit

The stories we don't allow in our discussion of in-universe topics are actually few and far between. However, for clarity, we've composed a detailed list below.

  1. Since they have no official BBC sanction, fan fiction, charity publications, and other unlicensed products are disallowed. Clearly, stories found on LiveJournal or in fanzines are well outside our scope. Likewise, fan films, no matter how good, or whether included on official DVD releases, aren't allowed, either. Devious, for instance, cannot be considered a valid explanation for the regeneration between the Second Doctor and the Third Doctor — even if (some) of it did appear on BBC DVD: The War Games. (An article about Devious is allowed, however, because it's a DVD extra.)
  2. Professional productions or publications where characters are almost certainly used illegally. This doesn't happen too often, because of the risk of being sued. Nevertheless, one clear example of this is The Killing Stone, which contains the character of the Fourth Doctor in a way that was not licensed by the BBC.
  3. Professional or semi-professional productions involving approximations of DWU characters that deliberately "get around" the BBC copyright. These can be confusing, because they often star actors who played the Doctor or his companions in the main show. Nevertheless such things are completely disallowed by the wiki, as they aren't even set in the DWU. That said, you will currently find a number of articles on these stories, as of March 2011, because we are only in the process of getting rid of articles previously created here. Disallowed are:
    1. Cyberon stories
    2. The Stranger series
    3. The Wanderer series
    4. The Time Travellers series
    5. The Airzone Solution
  4. Stories which have nothing to do with the DWU made by production companies generally associated with making Doctor Who-related content. This may seem to be a bit of a no-brainer, but it's worth repeating that this is not the wiki for Big Finish's entire output, or for BBV original science fiction like Infidel's Comet.
  5. When there are unlicensed and licensed versions of the same story, the unlicensed version is disregarded. This doesn't happen too often, but it has happened. Two examples are Toy Story — a Faction Paradox story that was told first in a charity Doctor Who publication, and then edited and retold in an official Faction Paradox release — and The Wings of a Butterfly, a Colin Baker-written story that appeared in print in a charity publication, but later was converted to an audio short story.
  6. We allow some products that are not BBC copyright, but these items must have initially appeared in a BBC-licensed product. Examples would include the K9 series, which flows from the Bob Baker/Dave Martin copyright on the character of K9, but is allowed here because K9 initially appeared on Doctor Who, a BBC product. Likewise the Bernice Summerfield stories published by both Virgin Books and Big Finish are allowed because the character originated in the Virgin New Adventures line, at the time a BBC-licensed product. We therefore allow material which is sanctioned by a copyright holder other than the BBC, so long as the character or situations debuted within an official range of Doctor Who stories. More detailed guidance on this point is provided at our list of approved spin-offs.
  7. Conversely, we disallow a few things that were produced under BBC license. Note that the presence of a BBC license, however, gives these items a "special" status. Articles about these items may be included on the wiki, so long as they are clearly marked with an {{notdwu}} tag, and placed in a non-canonical cateogry. However, these items may not be referred to within an in-universe article. For instance, nothing in the article, Eleventh Doctor (The Curse of Fatal Death), should find its way into the article about Matt Smith's Eleventh Doctor, as these are wholly different characters. Generally, such items are confined to obvious parody or obviously discontinuous storylines. Such things include:
    1. Any BBC parody, including, but not limited to, The Curse of Fatal Death.
    2. Dimensions in Time, which sits awkwardly in both Doctor Who and EastEnders continuity.
    3. The Peter Cushing movies of the 1960s
    4. Doctor Who role-playing games, regardless of manufacturer or license
    5. The Tonight's the Night sketch
    6. Big Finish's Doctor Who Unbound audio range, and any prose which flows from them
  8. We also disallow the integration of material from any professionally-produced, non-BBC parody into "in-universe" articles. However, such stories are "special cases". We do allow for the creation of articles about professional parodies — on the grounds that they are legal parody under the laws of the United States and other countries — so long as they are clearly marked with an {{notdwu}} tag, and put into a non-canonical category. Examples of this type include:
    1. The Doctor and the Enterprise, a parodic book which posited a Star Trek/Doctor Who crossover
    2. The 1970s MAD Magazine comic strip featuring the Fourth Doctor, Harry Sullivan and Sarah Jane Smith
    3. Any comic strips by Tim Quinn or Dicky Howett
    4. Any appearances on The Simpsons, Saturday Night Live or similar parodic television shows
    5. Anything listed at Doctor Who parodies
  9. Background information given by production staff cannot be used by "in-universe" sections of articles. RTD explaining what he meant to write in a story is not the same thing as the story that was actually broadcast. Care must be taken not to let interviewees on Doctor Who Confidential influence description of the narrative elements within a story. Any out-of-universe commentary by production staff must be kept firmly within "behind the scenes" sections of articles or fully "real world" articles.
  10. Scenes that were not originally broadcast or published do not "count", unless they were created specifically for home video release. Thus deleted scenes on, say, the Doctor Who series 4 cannot be referred to within the body of an in-universe article. However, scenes like Meanwhile in the TARDIS can, because these were direct-to-DVD scenes — not rejected material.
  11. Parts of Target Books or BBC Books novelisations of TV or TV television stories that conflict with the televised stories or the preponderance of evidence from other sources. Generally, this means that the televised story is considered "superior" to the novelisation where there is conflict. But it can also mean that if more than one other source establishes a fact, the other sources might "outweigh" the novelisation. This doesn't happen often, however.
  12. Non-fiction books aren't valid sources of information, even though licensed by the BBC, for the main body of in-universe pages. The Doctor Who Technical Manual, The Terrestrial Index, The Doctor Who Monster Book, AHistory, The Discontinuity Guide, and really anything in category:reference books may be used on real world pages, like story pages. But only narratives are valid resources on in-universe pages. Sources prefixed by "REF" can be useful for information on a story page like The Daleks. But they shouldn't be used on the in-universe article about the Dalek species — except, perhaps, in a "behind the scenes" section.
  13. If a comic strip is reprinted and there are discrepancies between the original and reprinted version, the original version shall be deemed "correct".
  14. If a novel is converted into an audiobook, and there are discrepancies between the printed original and the reading of the audiobook, the printed original shall be deemed "correct".
  15. First-person videogames, like Attack of the Graske, are non-canonical to the extent that the player, you, or your actions are not a part of the DWU. However, Graske, and games like it, are canonical, in that the observed facts, which don't have anything directly to do with gameplay, are allowable. Put more simply, Graske is a valid resource for defining the species of the Graske, but you may not refer to any impact your gameplay has on the specific Graske in the game. Likewise, Graske canonically describes that Rose Tyler saw an ABBA concert in 1979, and that a Graske came to Earth one Christmas to kidnap humans — but it does not establish that you are a companion of the Tenth Doctor.
  16. The real world. Simply put, the real world isn't the same thing as the [[Doctor Who universe}DWU]]. That may seem obvious, until you get down to the details. For instance, Margaret Thatcher was the British Prime Minister. In 1979. And she went for a third term sometime around 1987. We know all this because of Tooth and Claw and Father's Day, which provide us specifity through script and production design (posters against a third term for Thatcher on the day of Pete Tyler's death). But do we know when she was elected? No. Do we know when or how she left office? Again, no, not from these sources. So we can't just assume that because Margaret Thatcher is referenced in the DWU that she's going to have the same career as she did in real life. After all, we know — thanks to Aliens of London and The Sound of Drums — that both Tony Blair and George W. Bush weren't leading their respective countries at the times they should have been, according to real life. That said, the American political leadership seems to have come back into harmony with reality by The End of Time. The long and the short of it: don't write articles about subjects that exist in both the DWU and the real world using wikipedia. Trust only Doctor Who sources.

Why are some non-canonical things allowed here?Edit

We know what you're thinking after reading all that:

"If you disallow some things that are non-canonical, why are there articles about non-canonical subjects here? Why is there an article about Dr. Who (Dr. Who and the Daleks) if he's not a part of the DWU?"

Well, the reason is that we do want to acknowledge everything that derives from a BBC license, even if it's not a part of the normal Doctor Who continuity. As a result, we do allow very basic coverage of some non-canonical items provided that:

  • the source of the element is either a BBC-licensed product or a professionally-produced, legal parody under United States law
  • they are clearly marked with the {{notdwu}} flag
  • they are put into only non-canonical categories
  • they are not linked to in the bodies of in-universe articles

In other words, we do talk about some non-canonical subjects, but we don't refer to them in in-universe articles, and we don't mix them into categories reserved for in-universe material.

However, if the non-canonical subject doesn't fit in the above list, we don't allow articles to be created about them at all. Hence, things like The Time Travellers (series) shouldn't have an article here at all. Given that this is a community consensus that was only reached in early 2011, though, you may still find some of these articles on the site until they can be deleted.


  1. If you're relatively new to Doctor Who, you may wonder what gives us the right to just pick and choose our canon. It's because Doctor Who is an unusual franchise. The main copyright holder, the British Broadcasting Corporation, has largely been silent on the issue of "what counts". Thus, unlike the situation which obtains in the Star Wars and Star Trek franchises, fans are at liberty to decide what stories "really happened", and which didn't. This issue has been debated in several different places on this wiki since its foundation. This policy reflects that debate, some of which can be seen at Tardis talk:Canon policy and Forum:BBV and canon policy.
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