• Doctor Whooves: Why This Wibbly Wobbly Crossover Worked

    art by ME!

    Trust me when I say, this corner of the fandom was much bigger on the inside.


    As the Brony fandom grew, it developed a phenomenon that truly indicates the size of a fandom. Spawning its own sub-fandoms. Now this is a somewhat rare occurrence since a fandom has to be huge in order to create a whole other fandom within it. But because bronies were so well known for their creativity and wide range of demographic, this is what wound up spawning several sub-fandoms. 

    The most well known of this group is probably the juggernaut that was Fallout Eqeustria, but a close second, and my personal favorite, was Doctor Whooves. A series of crossovers between MLP and the sci-fi series, Doctor Who. 

    What started as someone noticing a background pony with an hourglass cutie mark bore a mild resemblance to the 10th incarnation of the Doctor, David Tennant, turned into a grand opportunity for creative nerds to bring two very unlikely worlds together. Hardly a first for this fandom for sure, but I’d argue that Doctor Whooves might be the most ambitious of them all. At least in terms of how big and varied it got. And for this editorial, I want to go a bit more in depth on why that might have been.

    The Potential of the Universes

    Like most choices for fan-made MLP crossovers, these two might seem like night and day at first glance, and to some respect they are, but Doctor Who and My Little Pony have one very important thing in common. They are incredible fuel for the imagination.

    When Doctor Whooves was at the height of its popularity, it was at the peak of fan made world building in MLP. We hadn't seen much of the world outside of Equestria. We knew next to nothing about Celestia and Luna's past. But the show gave us enough information to speculate wildly; and develop our own concepts about the history and culture surrounding this world. Also, because it's a world of magic, with tons of fascinating and adorable creatures inhabiting it, there were some fun areas to speculate on what other adventures could be going on outside of the Mane Six. It was a slice of life story, told in a mysterious and vibrant fantasy land.

    Meanwhile Doctor Who's concept is pretty much built on the fact that anything can be possible in a story. The basic premise of the show is that an immortal renegade can travel anywhere and anywhen they want. One of the keys to the show's longevity is how much freedom there is for story possibilities with this concept. So theoretically, you can drop the Doctor off anywhere you want. Only condition, there has to be aliens. That's non negotiable.

    art by JoeyWaggoner

    So as weird as it would seem on the surface, the possibility that the Doctor could wind up in Equestria is not too far-fetched. Neither is the fact that he's suddenly a pony. I know this fandom doesn't need any reason to turn a beloved pop culture character into a pony, but thanks to the Doctor's ability to regenerate, it's easier to grasp the idea right out of the gate. As it feels in line with the lore of Doctor Who already. You don’t have to stretch too much to make this crossover possible. Which can make it more palatable for some.

    Between the sci-fi of Doctor Who, and the fantasy of My Little Pony, there's a lot of fun ways to play with how these universes can work together. Most of the time, they blend together exceedingly well.

    The Variety in Content

    art by GashibokA

    Now when it comes to variety, I don't necessarily mean the stories themselves. Yes there are tons of approaches to how the Doctor Whooves story is told, but most of the more popular ones start off the same. The Doctor crashes onto Equestria newly regenerated, he takes a fan favorite character on as his companion, and the adventures commence. While there can be a good amount of variety in how most people choose to tell that story, where this really comes into play is what media they choose to tell it with.

    There was of course a very active and flourishing fanficiton scene, and Doctor Whooves was most certainly a big part of that (to the point that the people here at EQD apparently had to start turning them away just from the sheer volume), but I think there were two areas where Doctor Whooves truly came alive.

    A big source of Doctor Whooves content was on Tumblr. There were countless Doctor Whooves Tumblr blogs between 2011 and 2014. Ranging in the incarnations of the Doctor, whether they were from their main universe or have always been a pony, who their companions were, and the level of maturity in the stories they were telling. Most Doctor Whooves blogs relied on fan submitted questions to help flesh out the character and sometimes guide them towards a larger story they were telling. Some of which are still around today.

    If you were a Doctor Who fan, there was a Doctor here for you. If you were a My Little Pony fan, there was such a range of Doctors that one would likely get your attention. There were so many of them at one point that another Tumblr blog opened, Docs in a Box, that housed as many of them together as possible. Which I think towards the end capped off at about 25! And that wasn’t even all of them. It was insane!

    But if you didn't have Tumblr (or were afraid of it in the early 2010s), there was another way Doctor Whooves stories were becoming popular in a unique way for this fandom at the time. Audio dramas.

    art by CyberToaster

    Doctor Who had a well known catalog of audio dramas for over a decade by the time ponies came along, so it does make sense why possibly Doctor Whooves most successful outreach in the fandom was through fan made audio dramas. This is the medium that gave us Doctor Whooves and Assistant and Doctor Whooves Adventures. The two series that roped me and several others into the experience of what Doctor Whooves Has to offer, and spawned several other audio dramas that followed in their footsteps.

    It's also because of the success of those Doctor Whooves series that the audio drama scene flourished in the brony fandom. Disneyfanatic2364 has said that Doctor Whooves audio dramas were the inspiration for turning her fanfiction, Bride of Discord, into an audio drama. Which has gone on to be one of the most popular projects in the fandom. Which then inspired the likes of Remembrance, Princess Trixie Sparkle, and many others.

    While the fandom has a great fanfiction reading community, Doctor Whooves inspired more ambitious avenues to tell stories in the fandom, and it has led to the creation of some of the fandom's most beloved work. Including the two that inspired all of this in the first place. 

    More art by CyberToaster

    I actually talked about both DwnA and DWA on my Youtube Channel a long time ago, so I won’t go into specifics on those projects here. But they both showed how to approach a similar premise with slightly different tones and approaches, and how to blend the themes of both shows together marvelously into truly emotional and compelling storytelling.

    To this day, they are two of my favorite fan made projects in the entire fandom. Motivating others to tell their own stories and get in on the bizarre creativity. In a way, that kind of represents both Doctor Who and My Little Pony. Two universes that live on through ever changing incarnations. 

    But ultimately, what made Doctor Whooves evolve into a fandom all it’s own, is the heart, or should I say hearts, of the worlds that inspired it.

    Two Hearts Feeling the Magic of Friendship

    art by JitterbugJive

    Like we went over at the beginning, at first glance these couldn’t be two more different worlds. One is inhabited by pastel colored ponies with the occasional frightening presence that could always be defeated with the magic of friendship. While the other is about an immortal alien traveling all of time and space. Sometimes triumphing over evil, but knowing centuries of loss and crossing paths with many horrifying menaces to peaceful society. But, that’s kind of what works about it.

    The best Doctor Whooves stories out there are the ones that show the chosen pony companion that there is so much more to the universe; and giving them the chance to experience wonder in a world that’s already very magical. Or show this 1,000 year old Time Lord the simple joys. How cooperative a society can be and the purity of being able to vanquish a threat just by being friendly or believing in something strong enough. 

    art by TheFangirl

    For lack of a better word, it’s a magical experience for all involved. Challenging the themes of both shows in positive and negative ways. Exposing companions to the dangers of the universe, watching the Doctor lament when those threats can be too much. That things like evil and grief still exist. But also that whether through the Doctor’s clever tactics and compassion or the ponies' infinite capacity for understanding and forgiveness, any threat, Equestrian or alien, can be overcome. 

    In that way, in that belief that anyone can make a difference, or that everypony deserves the chance to be heard and make a change, these two worlds couldn’t be more alike. The difference is that this crossover can make those themes so much more powerful and meaningful. Through struggle, adventure, failure, and success. 

    art by CrystalSuicune

    The Doctor is a hero without a weapon to cause harm, but an extra heart to store all his love for what the universe has to offer. While Derpy Hooves, Twilight Sparkle, or whoever decides to travel with this star crossed stallion, come from a world where the hope that comes with comradery and understanding, can manifest into the power to inhibit hatred and tyranny. That’s what makes Doctor Whooves work so well. It can be dark, suspenseful, and even scary. But in the end, it’s the meeting of two worlds, where no matter what happens, love and tolerance endure above all else.

    Remember All the Ponies You Used to Be

    Sentiment aside, perhaps the biggest contribution to the popularity of Doctor Whooves was that the fandoms for both MLP and Doctor Who experienced something of a resurgence, particularly in transformative fan works, around the same time. Unfortunately they also waned at the same time. Causing Doctor Whooves to, well, not collapse but definitely lose traction. Even though both shows kept going and in my opinion were still really good, people slowly started losing interest as newer shows and films were getting more attention. But much like magical ponies and space traveling Time Lords, it still lives on.

    art by VladiVoices

    While sadly many Doctor Whooves projects have been on indefinite hiatus for quite some time now, there are still some that continue to this day, and new projects still come up every now and then. From new series like Doctor Whooves Living Legacy which is very well made from what I’ve heard of it. To a few long running dubs of Doctor Whooves comics in the works. Even the OG, Doctor Whooves and Assistant, was recently revived after supposedly being canceled. Intent on finishing at least its first planned season (which I am hyped as heck for btw).

    As for the future of this crossover? It’s hard to say. With G5 on the horizon that will likely be dominating the pony conversation for the near future at least. But like I said, both of these properties have been around for a really long time, and it will likely stay that way. The stars just happened to align for a few years, and made these generational franchises cross paths for a bit. Building something unexpected, but very memorable. 

    Doctor Whooves represents some of the most ambitious and enthusiastic content the fandom has ever produced. To the point that he was even a part of MLP's 100th episode, Slice of Life. Speaking personally it peaked my curiosity to check out Doctor Who, as I was slowly getting into Friendship is Magic. In a way, this fan-made crossover is what solidified my love for both. I’ve even been fortunate enough to contribute to a couple of Doctor Whooves projects. There’s a good chance I wouldn’t be sitting here writing this editorial without that star crossed stallion and their many adventures. For that, I will always be grateful. And anxiously anticipate any new projects for it that I can find. 

    Fandoms have their time. Especially fandoms within fandoms like this one. More often than not, those times end, and people move on. It may never be the phenomenon it was ever again, but, to paraphrase my personal favorite Doctor, that’s okay. That’s good. You’ve got to keep moving on. Expanding your horizons and creative outlets. So long as you remember everything that came before.

    I, for one, will never forget. I will always remember, when the Doctor, was a pony.