Concerning the criteria: this timeline mainly focuses on the 9th, 10th and 11th Doctors. Other Doctors and their adventures are only mentioned if they have a direct connection to one of the modern day stories or if they have major historical significance to things discussed in the modern stories. The cut-off points are the 19th century (when Torchwood was formed) and the 21st century. Any longer and we’d be here for days.
BASIC KEY: DW Classic refers to the Classic Series of Doctor Who (1963-1989). DW marks the modern series. TW marks Torchwood episodes. SJA refers to The Sarah Jane Adventures. Novels, audio plays and special programs are specifically explained.
Christmas. “The Next Doctor” (2008 DW Christmas Special) - The 10th Doctor runs into a man whom he initially believes to be a future incarnation. Images of the Doctor’s nine previous lives are seen here. Later, the 11th Doctor will wonder why no one in the 21st century is aware of the very public events of this story.
The Runaway Train (audio adventure featuring Matt Smith) - The 11th Doctor and Amy are chased across the American Wild West by aliens in pursuit of a strange artifact.
After having had several adventures aboard the TARDIS, Jack Harkness (real name unknown) of the Time Agency is stranded in the 201st century but uses his vortex manipulator to attempt to travel back to Earth’s 21st century. He ends up in 1869 instead, his vortex manipulator now broken. He decides to wait until he meets a version of the Doctor whom he has already met, lest he disrupt the Time Lord’s history. This is all revealed in “Utopia” (DW Season 3).
Christmas. “The Unquiet Dead” (DW Season 1) - Rose Tyler and the 9th Doctor discover that there is a rift in space and time located in Cardiff, Wales. Events during this episode cause the rift to open wider. What created the rift is unknown.
“Tooth and Claw” (DW Season 2) - The 10th Doctor (under the alias of James McCrimmon, the name of a former companion) and Rose Tyler meet Queen Victoria. After an adventure at the Torchwood Estate in Scotland, Queen Victoria decides to create the Torchwood Institute, a secret organization that will hunt down alien agents without mercy and acquire their secrets for the good of the British Empire.
December 31st. The Torchwood Institute charter is signed by Queen Victoria, as revealed in “TW: Children of Earth.” The Doctor is listed as an “enemy of the Crown” in the charter. Torchwood later creates smaller branches, with the main Institute renamed “Torchwood 1” and relocating to Canary Wharf. Torchwood 3 is later stationed at the Cardiff Rift.
Peacemaker (DW novel) - The 10th Doctor and Martha arrive on a Monday in the American Wild West, at the town of Redwater.
August 27. As Krakatoa suffers its final, climactic explosions, a drawing of the 9th Doctor washes up on the coast of Sumatra. Revealed in “Rose” (Season 1).
“Fragments” (TW Season 2) shows that this is the year when Torchwood 3 discovers Jack Harkness. Days later, he begins working for them.
“Vincent and the Doctor” (DW Season 5) - The 11th Doctor visits Vincent Van Gogh soon before he will commit suicide.
In “Utopia” (DW Season 3), Jack Harkness tells the Doctor that this was the year when he realized he was immortal. But according to “Fragments” (TW Season 2), he joined Torchwood about three years earlier and was, by then, already very used to the idea and practice of his healing abilities. Maybe when he was speaking to the Doctor, he meant to say 1882 or 1872 and just misspoke, as sometimes happens when people are focusing on a couple things at once and in strange or dangerous situations. Work with me, people.
Revenge of the Judoon (DW novel) - The 10th Doctor and Martha arrive in Malmoral and recruit the help of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle.
Sting of the Zygons (DW novel) - The 10th Doctor and Martha arrive in Lake District and investigate the “Beast of Westmorland.”
“Pyramids of Mars” (DW Classic - Story 82) - Sarah Jane Smith and the 4th Doctor encounter Sutekh, a villain of the Osiran race, beings whose power seem greater than the Time Lords. Sutekh’s pyramid prison will be seen again in “The Vault of Secrets” (SJA Season 4). Osirans are said to use “tribophysic” technology. This tech will be mentioned again in “Boom Town” (DW Season 1).
April 9. The Daniels family of South Hampton decides not to sail on the Titanic, at the urging of the 9th Doctor. Revealed in “Rose” (Season 1).
“Human Nature” & “The Family of Blood” (DW Season 3) - The 10th Doctor and Martha attempt to hide from a family of enemies. The Doctor uses a Chameleon Arch to alter his mind and body into that of a human being. Believing himself to be a human, “Dr. John Smith” meets and falls in love with Joan Redfern. He also writes a “journal of impossible things” that depicts many of his adventures and includes illustrations of his previous 9 incarnations. This book will later be published publicly (at least in part).
SUPER-FUN TRIVIA: The Doctor’s false human memories tell him that his parents were named Sydney and Verity. Sydney Newman was the original creator of Doctor Who and Verity Lambert was the show’s first producer, helping to shape the personality and first adventures of the Doctor. The joke continues in “The End of Time”, when we will learn that Joan Redfern’s great-granddaughter is named Verity Newman.
October. The Clockwise Man (DW novel) - The 9th Doctor and Rose Tyler attempt to track down a mysterious killer and solve how a dead cat can come back to life.
“The Unicorn and the Wasp” (DW Season 4) - The 10th Doctor and Donna meet Agatha Christie and discover the secret behind her historically famous amnesia.
The Hounds of Artemis (audio story featuring Matt Smith & Karen Gillan) - The 11th Doctor and Amy Pond arrive in Smyrna.
November. “Daleks in Manhattan” & “Evolution of the Daleks” (DW Season 3) - The 10th Doctor and Martha Jones arrive in New York and spend some time in Central Park’s Hooverville. Historically, this place was not established until 1931, but since the 11th Doctor later finds that parts of history have been altered, this can account for the error.
The Glamour Chase (DW novel) - The 11th Doctor and his friends attempt to go to Rio de Janeiro and instead arrive at an archaeological dig in Shalford Heights that seems to have an alien presence.
May. The Nemonite Invasion (audio story featuring Catherine Tate) - The 10th Doctor and Donna descend from a rip in the sky, along with a strange crystalline sphere.
January 21. “Captain Jack Harkness” (TW Season 1) - An American pilot named Captain Jack Harkness is killed while on a “routine training exercise” with British troops. Days later, a rogue Time Agent from the 51st century arrives and adopts Harkness’s name and identity. Time Agent Jack Harkness is unaware that an older (and immortal) version of himself is currently serving Torchwood as an operative and that, simultaneously, an even older version of himself is secretly being held on Earth in cryogenic sleep. Time travel, man. It’s crazy.
“The Empty Child” & “The Doctor Dances” (DW Season 1) - At least several weeks after arriving in the past, the 51st century Time Agent calling himself Jack Harkness meets the 9th Doctor and Rose Tyler. Later the same night, he leaves with them as part of the TARDIS crew.
“Victory of the Daleks” (DW Season 5) - The 11th Doctor is summoned by Winston Churchill.
June 13. An alien space craft crashes in Roswell, New Mexico and is recovered by government forces. Mentioned in “Dalek” (DW Season 1), “Deamland” (DW animated special) and “Prisoner of the Judoon” (SJA Season 2).
Sometime before August. Ghosts of India (DW Novel) - The 10th Doctor and Donna arrive in Calcutta, India.
August 15. Barbara and Eddie Smith, the parents of Sarah Jane Smith, die in a car accident. Revealed in “The Temptation of Sarah Jane Smith” (SJA Season 2).
June 2. “The Idiot’s Lantern” (DW Season 2) - The 10th Doctor and Rose Tyler wind up in London on the Coronation Day of Elizabeth II.
Park Vale Comprehensive School is built over the site of an Army barracks that was destroyed in 1940, as revealed in “The Mark of the Berserker” (SJA Season 2). Years later, the children of this school will encounter several alien menaces. These threats will be fought by Sarah Jane Smith and her young allies.
“Dreamland” (DW animated special) - The 10th Doctor arrives at a diner in Dry Springs, Nevada and winds up getting involved with Area 51 while facing the Alliance of Shades (known on Earth as the “Men in Black”).
A Dalek survivor of the Last Great Time War crash lands on the Ascension Islands after falling through a crack in time. It will eventually be discovered by Henry van Statten and placed in his hidden bunker, as revealed in “Dalek” (DW Season 1).
“An Unearthly Child” (DW Classic - Story 01) - Soon after abandoning Gallifrey and stealing a broken down TARDIS, the Doctor (still in his 1st incarnation) and his granddaughter Susan arrive in Shoredritch, London. They settle down in I.M. Foreman’s Junkyard and the TARDIS’s chameleon circuit causes the ship to take on the appearance of a blue police box. Susan enrolls in the local school but then two of her teachers, Ian Chesterton and Barbara Wright, learn about the TARDIS. Considered a fugitive of the Time Lords, the Doctor decides not to wait around to be discovered by others and immediately leaves, taking the teachers with him. Because the ship’s “year-o-meter” breaks, Ian and Barbara cannot return home immediately and become the first humans to be traveling companions of the Doctor. After departing this time period, the Doctor discovers that his ship is now stuck in the form of a 1963 police box.
November. “Remembrance of the Daleks” (DW Classic - Story 152) - Soon after the 1st Doctor and Susan leave, two warring factions of the Dalek Empire come to Earth to recover the Hand of Omega, a Time Lord device the 1st Doctor had hidden in London. The 7th Doctor arrives and tricks the Daleks into blowing up their homeworld Skaro, earning him the new name of “Ka Faraq Gatri,” which means “Destroyer of Worlds.” This humiliating defeat becomes a major factor in provoking the Last Great Time War between the Daleks and the Time Lords.
November 22. The 9th Doctor witnesses the assassination of John F. Kennedy. Revealed in “Rose” (DW Season 1).
July 13. “Whatever Happened to Sarah Jane” (SJA Season 1) - At age 13, Sarah Jane witnesses the death of her best friend. This event will shape her personality in many ways.
The alien species known as the 456 first visits Earth ("TW: Children of Earth").
“The Chase” (DW Classic - Story 16) - After many adventures with the 1st Doctor, Ian Chesterton and Barbara Wright at last return to Earth, two years after they’d originally left. In “Death of the Doctor” (SJA Season 4), Sarah Jane reveals that Ian and Barbara eventually got married and never aged after leaving the TARDIS.
“The Web of Fear” (DW Classic - Story 41) - The Doctor (in his 2nd incarnation) first meets Colonel Alistair Gordon Lethbridge-Stewart. This adventure leads to Lethbridge-Stewart later helping to form UNIT in order to protect the Earth from strange menaces when the Doctor is not around.
According to “The Sound of Drums” (DW Season 3), this was the year that the United Nations Security Council secretly determined public “first contact policy” between Earth governments and alien life forms. This is also the year that UNIT was apparently formed.
“The Impossible Astronaut” & “Day of the Moon” (DW Season 6). Former FBI agent Canton Everett Delaware III meets the 11th Doctor.
July 20. Apollo 11 lands on the surface of Earth’s moon.
“The Invasion” (DW Classic - Story 46) - The 2nd Doctor arrives with his companions Zoe Heriot and Jamie McCrimmon and winds up making his TARDIS invisible. The Doctor encounters UNIT for the first time and learns that the UK branch is led by his old friend, the newly-promoted Brigadier Alistair Gordon Lethbridge-Stewart. This adventure features International Electromatics, a company that will also be seen on a parallel Earth in the 10th Doctor story “Rise of the Cybermen” (DW Season 2).
“Spearhead from Space” (DW Classic - Story 51) - Months after last seeing the 2nd Doctor, Brigadier Lethbridge-Stewart meets the 3rd Doctor. Having been exiled to Earth by the Time Lords and forced to regenerate as part of his punishment, the 3rd Doctor agrees to work for UNIT as “scientific advisor Dr. John Smith” until he can travel through time again. These events are referenced by the 9th Doctor and Mickey Smith in “Aliens of London” (DW 1x04).
“Doctor Who & the Silurians” (DW Classic - Story 52) - The Doctor and UNIT encounter Homo Reptilia (also called “Silurians” or “Eocenes”) for the first time. Despite the Doctor’s efforts for peace, the Silurians are determined to attack humanity and so UNIT destroys this particular tribe. The Doctor will meet Silurians again in his 5th and 11th incarnations.
“Terror of the Autons” (DW Classic - Story 55) - The Master arrives on Earth and works alongside the Nestenes and their plastic warrior Autons. He encounters UNIT for the first time, becoming known to certain government officials in the process and making an enemy of Brigadier Lethbridge-Stewart. In his battle with the exiled 3rd Doctor, it is clear they have not seen each other for some time.
“The Claws of Axos” (DW Classic - Story 57) - The 3rd Doctor and the Master join forces against the Axons. This adventure is later referenced in “Last of the Time Lords” (DW Season 3).
“The Sea Devils” (DW Classic - Story 62) - The Master recruits a small army of Sea Devils to help him in his mission to conquer Earth, leading to battles with the 3rd Doctor and UNIT. Sea Devils are a race related to the Silurians. In the new series, they are mentioned in “The Last of the Time Lords” (DW Season 3) and are seen in “The Eleventh Hour” (DW Season 5).
“The Three Doctors” (DW Classic - Story 65) - When Gallifrey is threatened and the Time Lords are trapped, the 3rd Doctor is forced to work alongside his 2nd and 1st incarnations to save the day. He succeeds and is rewarded by regaining his freedom to travel through time and space. Despite his exile finally ending after over three years, the 3rd Doctor feels a loyalty to UNIT and the Brigadier and continues to work with them frequently. In exchange for his new freedom, the Doctor is still required to occasionally do a mission for the Time Lords black ops division, the Celestial Intervention Agency.
“The Green Death” (DW Classic - Story 69) - After having worked as his assistant for a couple of years, UNIT agent Josephine “Jo” Grant decides to leave the Doctor’s side and get married to Dr. Clifford Jones. She will not see the Doctor again until his 11th incarnation, in “Death of the Doctor” (SJA Season 4).
“The Time Warrior” (DW Classic - Story 70) - Journalist Sarah Jane Smith meets “Dr. John Smith” at a UNIT facility. She soon discovers that he is actually a Time Lord called the Doctor and helps him fight a Sontaran warrior in the past.
“Invasion of the Dinosaurs” (DW Classic - 71) - After working with the Doctor and UNIT in protecting London from dinosaurs that are falling out of cracks in time, Sarah Jane decides to continue traveling in the TARDIS, officially becoming a new traveling companion.
“The Robot” (DW Classic - Story 75) - Having newly regenerated into his 4th body, the Doctor decides he’s had enough of working with UNIT and leaves in the TARDIS with Sarah Jane and new friend Dr. Harry Sullivan. However, since he didn’t officially resign before leaving, the Doctor later learns in “The Sontaran Stratagem” (DW Season 4) that he is still considered an active member of UNIT.
Alistair Gordon Lethbridge-Stewart officially retires from UNIT and is visited by the 2nd Doctor. The same day, he becomes one of the few humans to visit Gallifrey in “The Five Doctors” (DW Classic - Story 130).
Despite his retirement, Lethbridge-Stewart will continue to encounter the Doctor (in many different incarnations) several times over the years. He also stays in regular contact with Sarah Jane.
“City of Death” (DW Classic - Story 105) - The 4th Doctor and his companion Romana, another Time Lord, arrive for a vacation in Paris. They encounter a “crack in time” caused by an experimental device that is also creating localized time loops. The 11th Doctor will witness similar effects in 2010 due to a different time device in “The Lodger” (DW Season 5). They also learn secrets about the Mona Lisa painting. Sarah Jane Smith will learn other secrets about the Mona Lisa about 30 years later in “Mona Lisa’s Revenge” (SJA Season 3).
Stay tuned for part two- 1980 and beyond!