The most famous time-traveling Time Lord we know of is the Doctor of Doctor Who; in fact, outside of Doctor Who, it’s rare to hear of these Gallifrey-hailing beings existing. But I think they do. There’s always the off-chance that a Dalek or Cyberman wanting to kill all remaining Time Lords in the galaxy might happen upon this list, so I’ve only named people I am confident would be able to fend for themselves against an onslaught of angry exterminators. Without further ado, here’s my list of famous, fictional characters who I believe are actually Time Lords!
Batman (and the Joker)
There’s got to be a more logical explanation to why some of popular culture’s most iconic identities have changed faces than the fickle follies studio executives who think reboots and cost-cutting recasts are the answers to their problems.
Billionaire by day, Bruce Wayne doesn’t need to steal a spacetime ship and to gallivant around the galaxy with his grandkids like the Doctor did, but his tendency to take on new faces is a surefire tell of Gallifreyan origin: The likenesses of Lewis G. Wilson, Robert Lowery, Adam West, Michael Keaton, Val Kilmer, George Clooney, Christian Bale, and Ben Affleck have all been attributed to this caped crime fighter’s identity.
Instead of using the CW channel’s theory of being at least ninety alternate Earths in the universe, let’s consider for a moment the idea that Batman is currently on his eighth regeneration. The Joker, in turn, is the obvious Master to Batman’s Doctor, and he’s had his fair share of portrayals, from the great(ly mustachioed) Cesar Romero to the unforgettable Heath Ledger.
Plus, we’ve never seen Batman in the same room as the Doctor … or Banksy…. Have we?
In my mind, “Bond, James Bond,” is this world-famous spy’s equivalent of saying “I’m the Doctor.” Since 1967’s Casino Royale, released but four years after Britain was introduced to Doctor Who, James Bond has thrilled moviegoers with his action-packed (and often really inappropriate) escapades.
Throughout the years, Bond has changed faces plenty of times (and revisited old ones, as the “First Bond” Sean Connery reprised the role in 1983’s Never Say Never Again), regenerating throughout the decades and taking on distinct character traits with each new identity: the aforementioned Sean Connery, Roger Moore, Pierce Brosnan, and Daniel Craig being the most well-known. Of course, there’s the Bond no one talks about, Barry Nelson, who for all intents and purposes could be viewed as the Shalka Bond … or the War Bond. :p
If you ask me, continuities truly collided when Timothy Dalton took on the mantle of James Bond in the late eighties — you may also recognize him as Rassilon in Doctor Who!
Miss Frizzle may be a two-dimensional cartoon character, but there are surely other signs of Time Lordship/Ladyship besides an affinity for face-swaps with famous people. Her school bus, which grows, shrinks, and shapeshifts, shares many characteristics of a Gallifreyan time capsule with a functioning chameleon circuit. And surely a universal psychic translator could explain the Frizz and her class’s uncanny ability to communicate with birds, bees, and even ants. And come on, you bunch of wibbly-wobbly wimps, how many school teachers also drive their own school buses?
Plus, though we’ve only seen her in cartoon form, there’s no denying that Miss Frizzle bears an uncanny resemblance to a certain curly-haired time-traveler….
Melody Pond, the daughter of companions Amy Pond and Rory Williams, was conceived in the Eleventh Doctor’s TARDIS, and, though not a Time Lord herself, inherited some of their abilities. We got to see her as a young child in the clutches of Madame Kovarian’s Silence cult, then an old school chum of Amy Pond named Mels, before River gave up her regenerative ability to save the Doctor in an episode. But surely there are other incarnations of River/Melody that we haven’t seen onscreen, like maybe Miss Frizzle?
With her preference for TARDIS-blue coats, that flying umbrella, and the seemingly bottomless carpet bag at her side, Mary Poppins, the beloved British nanny of Disney and literary fame, could easily be yet another Time Lord. And her penchant for collecting companions with corny accents mirrors the Sixth Doctor’s choice of Peri Brown.
Like Tolkien’s elves, Time Lords generally don’t regenerate until they’ve been mortally wounded; they’re practically immortal. This month, Mary Poppins actually returns to theaters in a new adventure, where she revisits the Banks children, now all grown up — yet she hasn’t aged a day. Or has she?
Is there, perhaps, a darker explanation for why she’s now being played by a younger actress, Emily Blunt, not Dame Julie Andrews? Was an elderly Mary Poppins attacked by a Dalek along the way, and forced to regenerate back into a young woman?
South African actor Basil Rathbone famously brought Sherlock Holmes to life on the silver screen. In 1938, Holmes and Watson solved the mystery of the Hound of the Baskervilles, set faithfully at the turn of the 20th century. In 1939, the duo would face off against Professor Moriarty for the first time on film.
Like Bond and Batman, Sherlock Holmes has been portrayed by a plethora of actors: ranging from John Barrymore, of the illustrious Barrymore clan, in the days of silent film to modern celebrities like Robert Downey Junior and Benedict Cumberbatch in the present.
Though their adventures began in the late 1800s, Rathbone and Bruce’s Holmes and Watson mysteriously lived long enough to be fighting off Nazis during the Second World War in Sherlock Holmes and the Voice of Terror (1942). The opening montage of this film explained that Holmes (and implicitly Watson, by some miracle) is “ageless, invincible and unchanging” and “solving significant problems of the present day”. Classic Time Lord behavior, if you ask me.
Remember that movie where James Earl Jones and Harrison Ford were working on the same side? No? Well, neither did I, until I stumbled upon Clear and Present Danger playing on a waiting room television. Throughout the last few decades, Tom Clancy’s Jack Ryan novels have been adapted into aspiring film franchises. The most successful iteration was Harrison Ford’s duology, Patriot Games and the aforementioned Clear and Present Danger. But that wasn’t until after Alec Baldwin played a younger Jack Ryan in Hunt for Red October, which featured another onscreen father-figure to Harrison Ford — Sean Connery. Ryan may have changed actors, but James Earl Jones remained on the cast as the CIA director Greer.
In the early 2000s, Ben Affleck tried his hand at playing Ryan. Granted, this was a reboot (a failed one, apparently), but how did Ryan get younger? Then came Chris Pine, playing an even younger Ryan, farther behind in his career in the CIA than Baldwin, and set in an even more modern time period. And now we’ve got an Amazon series with John Krasinski recounting Ryan’s origin story yet again!
I’m inclined to believe that, like River Song, Jack Ryan (and possibly his wife Cathy) age backwards because they’re time-travelers who keep going farther back in time to prevent wartime catastrophies, eliciting the help of Director Greer, who kept their secret until retirement. A life of crimefighting and world-saving is clearly (and presently) dangerous, fatally so; but because Ryan is a Time Lord, he just keeps taking on new forms until he runs out of regenerative energy….