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Doctor Who is not a Long Runner. It's the Long Runner (the original, you might say). A few plotlines have repeated over 50+ years.

Doctor Who

  • "Doomsday" spawned hundreds, if not thousands, of 10/Rose Reunion fics, an event which became canon with "Journey's End". After that, everyone is writing the 10.5-and-Rose-in-the-alternate-universe fic.
    • Rose Reunion fics also extend into the Eleventh and Twelfth Doctor eras, usually motivated by two premises. 10.5 perishes due to the biological complications of being a Human/Time Lord hybrid or becoming the Bad Wolf either turned Rose into The Ageless or a Time Lady and she outlived her family, returning to her universe to be with the Doctor. Becomes somewhat Harsher in Hindsight when the Twelfth Doctor bluntly revealed, in Doctor Who (Titan), that he's not only over Rose but embarrassed by how sentimental the Tenth Doctor was about her.
      • A lot Twelve/Rose fics seem to lean into the idea that 10.5 will one day become the Valeyard. After all, with the retcon of the War Doctor and confirming that the aborted regeneration used up the Doctor's eleventh regeneration, 10.5 was created, just like the Valeyard was purported to be, between the Doctor's twelfth and final incarnations.
      • In some of these fics, Rose discovers that she has a Chameleon Arch at the moment of her death. After regenerating into a fresh body, and a radically different personality, she returns to her universe just after the Tenth Doctor banished the Time Lords from Earth. For some reason, she's now a complete Cloudcuckoolander who is Secretly Dying.
    • Or Rose never left (either remaining human or having been turned into a Time Lady when she absorbed the Vortex) and all subsequent series are rewritten with her or have her in the place of canon's companion. 10.5 is always Adapted Out. The author usually gets to Series 5 before the differing dynamic of the TARDIS team causes them to lose interest.
    • If Rose stays, then it's common for "The End of Time" to also be Adapted Out, or at least radically altered, so that Ten doesn't regenerate.
    • Before she returned, a common storyline was for Rose to find the version of the Doctor native to Pete's World, usually still in his ninth incarnation.
  • It seems you don't actually get your Doctor Who fanfic writer's union card until you've written a story about the Time War.
  • More like Fandom Specific Title, but the Literary Allusion Title "World enough, and time" is practically irresistible to Whofic writers. And guess what part 1 of the Series 10 finale was called.
  • So you have a story. In it, the Doctor lands the TARDIS on Earth near where you live and meets a human with an inexplicable resemblance to you. He decides this human will be his new companion and the two of them go off to have wacky adventures together. Congratulations, we'll add it to the pile.
  • Stories in which Donna recovers her memories are quite common, usually taking place either at the end of her life (usually elderly) with the Doctor visiting her one last time, or by miraculously being able to remember everything without her mind burning itself up in the process. The latter is accomplished by the Doctor figuring out some clever way to save her that he didn't/couldn't before, or by regeneration. It's also quite common for her to be Amy's aunt. If that's the case, her reunion with Eleven will usually involve her brandishing some form of blunt object towards his head.
  • Fics where the Doctor regenerates into an eight year old/an animal/a girl/pretty much anything else.
  • River Song's true identity used to be a mystery and many different scenarios and theories were written about it, usually by somehow making her be a future version of a companion, namely Rose Tyler, Donna Temple-Noble (still popular in Time Lady!Rose stories) or Amy Pond. While they significantly died down since the events of "A Good Man Goes To War" and "Let's Kill Hitler", Alternate Universe Fics are still being written that ignore some or all the events of those episodes.
    • Also relating to River, "Forest Of The Dead" Fix Fics are common.
    • Also the twenty-four years that she and the Doctor spent together on Darilium at the Singing Towers.
    • Dumping River in the Fountain of Youth so that Amy and Rory can have a chance to raise their daughter.
    • River meeting up with a past Doctor, something that Big Finish Doctor Who eventually made canon.
  • Like River above, before The Reveal, people loved guessing the truth about Clara Oswald. The most common options seemed to have been either making her the Doctor's daughter (with her mother being either River Song or Rose Tyler), a Time Lady under a Chameleon Arch (usually either Romana or Susan Foreman) or some creation of the TARDIS.
  • After Series 3 introduced the Chameleon Arch, it became quite common for female companions, usually Rose and Clara, to be revealed as Time Ladies either hiding out from the Time War or they were lights flung into the future. Sometimes, they'll be revealed as new incarnations of the missing Romana but they're usually just original Time Ladies.
    • Time Lady!Rose fics usually feature the Master as her brother and her coming from an extremely influential family. Rose, or Arkytior ("Rose" in Gallifreyan), is also The Chosen One and has a deep connection to the Bad Wolf which is either presented as a benign Eldritch Abomination or Rose from an alternate future who is Lonely At the Top and wants to get a Childhood Friend Romance between her past self and the Doctor. Also, despite canon making it clear that Gallifrey refuses to talk to other planets, Gallifrey is now a major player in galactic society with Arkytior being a respected diplomatic across several planets. The Doctor usually undergoes My Future Self and Me in several chapters.
    • Time Lady!Clara fics usually cast her as the daughter of Time Lady!Sarah Jane and Rassilon, with Rassilon forcing her to regenerate into a baby and hiding her away on Earth during the Time War because Even Evil Has Loved Ones (something that's rather Harsher in Hindsight given that Rassilon ordered Clara's death in canon). These fics really play up Clara's status as the Doctor's Distaff Counterpart and paint her as Gallifrey's Rebellious Princess. Should the Master, usually Saxon, show up, expect him to have a Villainous Crush on Clara, something that's rather Hilarious in Hindsight given that Missy teased that she might have been crushing on Clara. Also, there are lots of height jokes at her expense.
    • Both flavours of fics also feature lots of Original Characters, Daleks, Continuity Porn, and shameless usage of Everyone Went to School Together (though that is justified, there is only one school on Gallifrey).
    • A less common one is for Amy to have been turned into a Time Lady as a result of being pregnant with River.
  • In New Who stories featuring Romana, the magics of regeneration will turn her into an OC Stand In. Assuming that she's not hidden beneath a Chameleon Arch, the usual set-up is that; during "The Doctor's Wife", Eleven found Romana and took her with him. Often times, there are other Time Lords with her. The fic is then Doctor/Romana and always features Corsair/Flavia as the Beta Couple.
    • Sometimes Romana will turn up as male and go by "Roman."
    • More like "Fandom Specific Running Gag" but if Thirteen ever meets one of her past selves and doesn't want to deal with having to explain being female, she'll just say that she's Romana. Kinda Hilarious in Hindsight given that in Thirteen's comics, Ten's major concern about his successor was that she wasn't ginger. He didn't even seem to notice that she was female.
  • Clara's echoes open up a few doors:
    • The Doctor, or the other characters, run across one of the echoes. In stories that detail Auton!Rory or Jack Harkness taking The Slow Path back to present, expect one of the Claras to at least cameo if not be an important character. While Rory will always have his Single-Target Sexuality towards Amy, Jack hooking up with one the echoes is quite common.
    • If needed, an echo can serve as a nice OC Stand In.
    • In both Crossovers and non-Crossovers, the echoes usually serve as the character in whatever setting that trusts the Doctor right away and allows the plot to happen at a reasonable pace.
    • Having an earlier Doctor, normally the Tenth, be the one to notice the echoes and set him on the path to solving the mystery of the Impossible Girl. A Running Gag in these stories is that all the Long Lived beings (Jack, the Master, Davros, etc.) but the Doctor have noticed Clara's echoes. The Master has usually figured it out but Jack and Davros haven't. Said Long Lived beings have usually fallen in love with her.
    • Delving into how and why Missy decided to gift Clara to Eleven. Usually features some Missy/Clara.
  • Multi-Doctor fics are very common, especially if they're about "The Day of the Doctor."
    • Re-writing the 50th is also very common. The three most common are: more Rose, putting the Eighth Doctor in place of the War Doctor (this usually features Doctor/Rose as well), or having the Doctor really destroy Gallifrey.
      • Eight/Rose 50th fics usually start out on Karn with the Eighth Doctor not actually dead, the chalice that was to have him regenerate into the War Doctor having been poison. Either he storms out when the Sisterhood tries to make him a warrior or Rose barges in and stops it. It then follows that Rose was with him throughout all of the, much shorter, Time War and leaves to be with Eleven afterwards. Clara usually doesn't manage to convince the Doctor not to detonate the Moment (because how dare someone other than Rose be allowed to do something heroic?) but Gallifrey still winds up in the pocket universe.
    • Though Multi-Doctor usually means Multi-Companion, it's also common to see the companions running across each other and bonding about their shared experiences (such as Wilfred Mott and Brian Williams).
  • After the Series 9 finale, it became quite common to find:
    • Fanfics where Clara and Me met up with Captain Jack Harkness and proceeded to go on crazy adventures together.
    • Clara returning to Gallifrey so as to go back to the Trap Street. Romana usually shows up in these.
    • There are also Fix Fics where Twelve's Laser-Guided Amnesia failed and he went looking for Clara, a scenario that Peter Capaldi expressed interest in.
    • And now that the Doctor has their memories of Clara back, it's common for the Thirteenth Doctor to go looking for her. Lesbian flirting, snogging, fluff, and hijinks ensue.
    • Not relating to Clara, it is generally agreed that "Hell Bent" wasted the Time Lords' return and it is not uncommon to find fics that feature them coming back with more pomp and circumstance.
  • Rory spent 2,000 years guarding the Pandorica. By his own admission, he "stayed out of trouble... unsuccessfully."
  • Sending a companion back in time to meet an earlier incarnation of the Doctor and travelling with them. Usually Rose, Amy, or Clara.
    • In Rose's case, the set-up is that she, when trying to return to the Tenth Doctor during Series 4, she gets a younger Doctor, usually the Eighth, and hangs around with them. Never really seems to occur to the author that Rose needs to warn the Tenth Doctor about the Reality Bomb. Should the fic cross over with "The Day of the Doctor", Rose takes off with the Eleventh Doctor, to avoid mucking up the time stream even more, again totally bypassing the reason for Rose's dimension jump in the first place.
    • In Amy's case, the Weeping Angel didn't send back to the 1930s. It sent her to the Powell Estate circa 2005. Or maybe to Pompeii. Whether or not she finds Rory (and where he ended up) usually depends on the author's attention span.
    • In Clara's case, falling through the Doctor's time stream spat her out at an earlier point in his timeline, usually, but not exclusively, the Tenth Doctor's time. Much flirting ensues.
  • Rewriting episodes with a previous TARDIS team, for example "Smith and Jones" with the Second Doctor instead of the Tenth. Or having a past Doctor handle the events of a future episode in an AU such as rewriting an Eleventh Doctor episode staring the Tenth.
  • After "The Day of the Doctor" confirmed that the Tenth Doctor knew of Trenzalore, it was common to find fics detailing how the Doctor figured it out. The general belief seems to be that the Sixth Doctor learnt of it while in the Matrix.
  • Having one of the companions, usually Clara or Donna, be revealed as a future incarnation of the Doctor under a Chameleon Arch.
  • After he stepped down as executive producer, Steven Moffat revealed his original plan for Series 5, had David Tennant stayed. Ten, alight with regeneration energy, would have crashed into Amelia's garden before she helped him back into the TARDIS and he flew off. When the grown up Amy met the Doctor again, he'd have no memory of her because young Amelia had met a future version of Ten. The fandom could not get to their laptops fast enough to write up this tale.
  • Having lasted over 50 years, the show has spawned a lot of Ensemble Darkhorses; Rusty the Dalek, Bonnie the Zygon, Sutekh the Destroyer, the Celestial Toymaker, the Rani, Romana, the Eighth and War Doctors to name an absolutely pitiful minority; and all of their adventures are ripe for writing about.
  • Fix Fics relating to "The Angels Take Manhattan" so that Amy and Rory can return to the Doctor.
  • After the Series 12 finale, there are tons of Fix Fics about it. Some of them going so far as to rewrite both of Thirteen's series. The usual trappings are:
    • Having the Timeless Child not be the Doctor.
    • Casting the Spy Master as coming before Missy to keep her Character Development intact.
    • Sparing Gallifrey.
    • Splitting up the Cybermen and Gallifrey storylines.
    • Giving Captain Jack more to do.
  • Inspired by the popular "3 Doctors, 9 Companions, What Could Possibly Go Wrong?", multiple Doctors and companions inhabit the TARDIS and go on adventures together.
  • Checking in on Susan, the Doctor's granddaughter that he's yet to come back for, on television anyway. Or having her be Chameleon Arched and having her own TARDIS to have adventures in.
  • "Companion Swaps" usually built on the tantalizing idea of the Ninth Doctor interacting with Donna Noble.
  • During the COVID-19 lockdown, it became common to see Thirteen stuck on Earth with her companions, who don't want to skip ahead to when the virus dies out and find all their loved ones dead. Hilarity Ensues before old villains, usually Gallifreyan ones, rear their ugly heads.

The Sarah Jane Adventures

  • Fans of The Sarah Jane Adventures like to have an earlier incarnation of the Doctor, usually the Third or Fourth, although any will do, show up at Sarah Jane's house.
  • It's very common for Amy, Clara, or Bill to stop by Sarah Jane's house and ask her for advice on dealing with the Doctor or just bonding over their adventures. The penultimate arc of Tenth Doctor in Titan's Doctor Who comics actually featured Ten calling on Sarah Jane to look after Gabby and Cindy.
  • For nine years, despite Elisabeth Sladen's passing, it was Character Outlives Actor for Sarah Jane but it was common for fan-writers to take her as deceased and have Eleven or Twelve show up to pay respects to their Sarah Jane. Now that The Character Died with Her, even more companions are showing up to pay tribute to her and some fics follow Rani's theory that Sarah is still alive, off galavanting with the Doctor once again.

Torchwood

  • A truly mind-boggling number of Jack/Ianto Hurt Comfort Fics involve the characters showering together--often not even romantically, but simply because one or the other is hurt and needs help, or is untrustworthy and has to be watched.
  • It seems as if there is no one who hasn't written the "Countrycide" follow up fic.
  • Lots of Fix Fics were written after Children of Earth, either changing the end so Ianto (and occasionally Steven) doesn't die, or bringing him/them back to life somehow. Time Travel is sometimes involved.
  • Chronicling Jack's eventual transformation into the Face of Boe.
  • Martha and Mickey join up with the team permanently.

Crossovers

  • Every fandom that Doctor Who has crossed over with features at least one fic where one character from the other property is a Time Lord under a Chameleon Arch. Sometimes they're the Doctor or the Master; or possibly the children of their human personas; but they're usually another Time Lord, OC or not.
    • Given the madcap character in My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic who is named Doctor Whooves (or Time Turner), and bears a striking resemblance to the Tenth Doctor; along with other background ponies looking like other incarnations of companions; it's common to say that the Doctor regenerated into a pony, he and his companion crossed over into Equestria and were turned into ponies by the laws of that universe, or that it's just Doctor Who as ponies! That is to say that Doctor Whooves is from the planet Gallopfrey. IDW Comics seems to hint at the latter option.
  • Since the Time Lords are the Higher-Tech Species, crossovers inevitably feature the Whoniverse as the stronger of the two properties, always having better and more dangerous baddies. With some fandoms; like say Sherlock or My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic; this works very well. With more sci-fi oriented franchises, like Transformers, Voltron: Legendary Defender, Steven Universe, or even the Marvel Cinematic Universe; it's rather hit and miss as the Doctor can often become a God Mode Sue who utterly negates the efforts of the other property's heroes or having the Whoniverse give a middle to the other universe; for example, dismissing Thanos's reign of terror as nothing compared to the Daleks or the sonic screwdriver readily being capable of poof-ing Gems; or at least the bits that the author doesn't like.
  • Alternatively, as the Whoniverse is so bizarre and unique, it's quite common, especially since "Rise of the Cybermen" confirmed it can easily happen, to have the TARDIS fall into a hole between universes.
  • Superwholock. That is all.
  • The TARDIS being drawn to the activities of other time-travellers, such as Marty McFly and Doc Brown.
  • Knowledge of the Doctor is almost always barred away by the highest authority of the other property.
  • In the series, UNIT is the epitome of Police Are Useless and is virtually incapable of ordering a pizza without the Doctor. In Crossovers, UNIT is the most badass organization ever, able to readily handle any threat.
  • Clara's echoes also serve as a nice set-up for any Doppelganger Crossover involving any other series that Jenna Coleman stared in. Though she's hardly the only character whose Doppelgängers the TARDIS is drawn to. Amy and Rory meeting Nebula and Rip Hunter is not an uncommon sight.
  • As a fandom, Doctor Who seems very protective of Time Travel. If any property has featured time travel, even for one episode, then expect that there to be at least one fanfic where the Doctor; usually the Tenth, Twelfth, or an OC incarnation; tells off the other time travellers for how stupid they were and how much work they've created for the Doctor who now has to clean up their mess.
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