Guides for the Perplexed

doctorsDoctor Who celebrates its 50th anniversary this year. The mighty Star Trek franchise is not far behind, as almost 47 years have passed since it first beamed up on the television airwaves back in 1966. That’s a lot of history and backstory for these two shows, and some of it even pops into current episodes – just think of the recent Season 7 finale for the Doctor and characters from the new Star Trek Into Darkness movie. But let’s face it: long-running television shows have built up complex mythologies and continuities that can be hard to remember over the decades. And what if you came to the show late? How do you figure stuff out and find your way? (Like, who is this character and when did he first appear?)

So, with that in mind, here are a few sites to help fill in the backstory on some very popular parts of the entertainment universe.

Doctor Who
While the BBC One (and BBC America) official Web sites can be generally helpful for show news, recent events and even a beginner’s guide, visit the TARDIS Data Core Wiki if you really want to dig deep into collective Whovian history. The site compiles character backgrounds, plot points, actor bios and more, even incorporating material from minisode clips and other random bits. Looking for something specific? The search box invites you to “probe the data core!”

Star Trek
The official Star Trek site owned by CBS Studios has full episodes of the original TV series and all the spin-offs (including the animated adventures that first aired in 1973), as well as pages devoted to franchise news, events and trinkets to purchase. Roddenberry Entertainment runs the Trek Initiative wiki, which has its own video clips from the family archives and other exclusive material. Want to delve even deeper? Visit the Star Trek Memory Alpha wiki for more than 35,000 pages devoted to the total Trek universe.

Star Wars
The official Star Wars site has its own encyclopedia, online gaming portal and exclusive video clips, along with links to fan sites, the official Star Wars blog, a social-media roundup page, and of course, a shop where you can buy lots and lots of Star Wars stuff. Serious Star Wars scholars will want to check out (or even contribute to) the The Wookiepedia, a dedicated wiki with more than 103,000 pages.

Thanks to Wikia, fan-created wikis have popped up all over the Web for several other popular shows and entertainment properties, including:

Odds are, if a show has more than three dedicated fans, there’s probably a wiki on it out there somewhere. Can’t find a wiki out there for your favorite cult obsession, TV or otherwise? Start one yourself!

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