‘Doctor Who’: How the Fan Base Has Evolved Because of the Internet

Nerdiness is cool, at least in certain corners of the internet. Interests that were once seen as too far outside of the mainstream are now celebrated. Fans have a louder voice than ever before. 

There are pros and cons to this, which we will get into later, but it’s definitely a fact that fan bases have evolved because of the internet, especially social media. The Doctor Who fan base is only one example of this phenomenon. It is definitely a good example, though, since it is and always has been an active fan base.

What is the ‘Doctor Who’ fan base like?

Doctor Who cast (Tosin Cole, Mandip Gill, Jodie Whittaker, Bradley Walsh) at the premiere
Tosin Cole, Mandip Gill, Jodie Whitaker and Bradley Walsh at the Doctor Who premiere | Anthony Devlin/Getty Images

Doctor Who is an interesting fan base to look at since it’s been around for so long. Doctor Who fans have always been involved and enthusiastic about the source material. Even when the show wasn’t on, from 1989-2005, fans kept the love for the show going by creating everything from clothing to comics. This hasn’t stopped with the introduction of the Internet. 

If anything, fans have only gotten more creative, writing fanfiction and drawing fanart. Fans can also run entire Twitter or Instagram accounts dedicated to the show.  These accounts can include fan edits, discussion of the show with other fans, polls, and more. Doctor Who fans are definitely creative, yet such creativity isn’t the only thing that stands out. 

What do ‘Doctor Who’ fans care about?

Of course, all Doctor Who fans care about the show. Yet what else keeps this group of people together? The answer lies, perhaps, in the character of The Doctor. For fans, the Doctor is more than just an eccentric time traveler, he or she is “an intellectual…hero [or heroine] who hates establishments that shove society into a proverbial box.” 

The Doctor defies categories and any attempt to put himself or herself into a box will be met with derision, both by the Doctor and by fans. So perhaps this is the secret to the fan base’s success. Doctor Who accepts the more eccentric members of society, those who are outcasts for whatever reason, and welcomes them. 

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Another aspect of the character of the Doctor that is important for many fans is The Doctor’s identity as a righter of wrongs. As the Thirteenth Doctor puts it, “I’m The Doctor, sorting out fair play throughout the universe.” The Doctor always stands up for what’s right and many fans follow the titular character’s example. Doctor Who fans often “care about improving lives and curing social ills.”

Doctor Who isn’t just a show, it’s a way of life for many fans. And part of that way of life includes taking care of your fellow human beings. No matter what, Doctor Who fans do what is right. And that is part of how the fanbase has evolved, though most fans would argue it’s been like that all along because of who The Doctor is as a person. 

What are the pros and cons of the fan base’s evolution?

The pros of the Doctor Who fan base are obvious. The fan base is creative, welcoming to all, even the most eccentric, and full of those who stand up for what’s right. So what are the cons?

Ironically, the cons come from a small minority of people who fail to live up to the rest of the fan base’s standards. While some of this group may be creative, they do not use their creative powers for good. These people are not very welcoming at all, in fact they often exclude fans. Some of these fans are the kind of fans that reacted negatively to Jodie Whittaker’s casting as the Doctor.

These fans say things like, “This is just [politically correct] pandering, and the show runners trying to lean to the left.” While differences of opinion are common in the Doctor Who fan base, these fans tend to view anyone who disagrees with them as someone who is too “politically correct” and is “pandering” to the social justice warriors. Quite ironic, if you think about it, since The Doctor, if he or she was a real person, would be considered a social justice warrior.

In the end, the pros outweigh the cons. The internet allows the Doctor Who fan base to be more connected and more creative than ever before. And that is a beautiful thing.