[[caption-width-right:350:Pictured shortly before escaping WhileRomeBurns. You [[NiceJobBreakingItHero can't possible blame the Doctor... right...?]]]]
-> ''I've got a friend who specialises in trouble. He dives in and usually finds a way.''
-->-- '''Ian'''

The one where Vicki nearly kills Nero. Accidentally.

Fun with the Romans, as the TARDIS crew arrives during the reign of UsefulNotes/{{Nero}} and takes a little holiday at a villa outside Rome. The Doctor quickly gets bored and heads off into the city with Vicki while Ian and Barbara stay behind - only to be kidnapped by slave traders.

Meanwhile, the Doctor is mistaken for a famous musician and ordered to play the lyre for Nero, and goes through ever more ridiculous [[ZanyScheme zany schemes]] to avoid having to reveal he can't play a note - at one point claiming that only the most musically-attuned ear can even ''hear'' his playing, before silently waving his fingers in front of the instrument.

Ian is sold as a galley slave while Barbara ends up as a servant at Nero's palace. Ian escapes when his ship is wrecked and heads to Rome to try and rescue Barbara, but is recaptured and made into a gladiator.

Eventually Ian escapes again and is reunited with Barbara, while the Doctor and Vicki make their escape after the Doctor accidentally sets fire to Nero's plans for the new city of Rome, giving him an idea about [[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Great_Fire_of_Rome how to clear the space]].


* ArtisticLicenseReligion[=/=][[ArtisticLicenseHistory History]]: Tavius is shown clutching a cross pendant, indicating that he is a Christian. However, at the time of Nero, Christians would have used the ichthys (stylised fish) as a symbol. The cross, reminiscent of Jesus' torture and death, would have been viewed negatively by early Christians. On the other hand, very few viewers (especially children) are going to recognise the ichthys.
* AncientRome: A [[LighterAndSofter more humorous]] take.
* AssassinOutclassin: The Doctor runs rings around the mute assassin Ascaris sent to kill him, and ultimately ends up shoving him out of a window.
* BadassGrandpa: The Doctor takes on a centurion ''with his cane''.
* BeenThereShapedHistory: The Doctor accidentally gives Nero the idea to burn Rome.
* BeethovenWasAnAlienSpy: The Doctor meets Emperor Nero and inadvertently inspires him to burn down Rome.
* BlackComedy: Barbara is made a slave with no rights or ability to get home to her own time, and Nero attempts to rape her multiple times (even chasing her down the corridors while she screams), and it's all treated as the horrible fate it is, and yet all PlayedForLaughs.
* BlackComedyRape: Emperor Nero's repeated attempts to rape Barbara, and then his attempts to blame Barbara for it whenever his wife calls him out on it. A lot of this is an attempt to deal with DeliberateValuesDissonance - the historical Emperor Nero certainly was a rapist - in a way that isn't absolutely traumatic to the family audience, but special mention must be given to a [[SocietyMarchesOn particularly dated]] scene where the Doctor sees Nero running after the screaming and traumatised Barbara, smiles, and affectionately remarks "What an extraordinary fellow."
* BlofeldPloy: After an unsuccessful attempt to break her out, Barbara is held by a guard. Nero advances on her with a sword, stabs... and the guard drops dead.
--> '''Nero:''' He didn't fight hard enough.
* BreadEggsMilkSquick: "Oh something else I forgot to tell you: I think I've poisoned Nero."
* BreatherEpisode: Compared to the two preceding serials, ''The Romans'' is [[ToneShift presented more like a farce]] than a drama, with slapstick fight scenes, sharp dialogue and much mistaking of identity. This odd-seeming choice was made to increase the dramatic range of the series.
* TheCaligula: Caesar Nero.
* ChekhovsGun: The bracelet Nero gives Barbra will come into play in the next serial.
* DeadlyDecadentCourt: It's Emperor Nero, what else would you expect?
* DoubleEntendre: "Close your eyes and Nero will give you a big surprise".
* DidTheyOrDidntThey: Ian and Barbara, alone in the villa. The first episode opens with them lying luxuriously on couches feeding each other grapes, and they later end up mock-wrestling in a way that suggests that they no longer have any sense of mutual personal space.
* GagEcho: In the first episode, Ian and Barbara are drinking in the villa. During a refill, Ian mentions there's no ice and Barbara says "there's some in the fridge." He actually starts to go until he realises she's joking and they share a laugh. During the last episode, when the two get back to the villa, Barbara says that she's hungry and wonders if there's any food in the house. Ian tells her to look in the fridge. Barbara starts to go look, then realises the joke and hits Ian with a pillow.
* GettingCrapPastTheRadar: While never stated, it's pretty obvious what Nero plans to do with Barbara...
* GladiatorGames: What Ian's trying to avoid.
* GoodOldFisticuffs: In Ian's absence, The Doctor gets a much-appreciated opportunity to practise his own skills at the noble art.
* GrapesOfLuxury: Barbara feeds Ian grapes in the opening scene.
* HistoricalDomainCharacter - UsefulNotes/{{Nero}}, Poppaea, Locusta, ...
* MadeASlave: Ian and Barbara
* MasterPoisoner: Locusta
* [[MissedHimByThatMuch Missed Her By That Much]]: In the middle two episodes, the Doctor and Vicki repeatedly ''almost'' bump into Barbara, who would have been very glad to see them. In the end, they only meet her back at the villa and never realise she was in Rome at all.
* MistakenForSpecialGuest: The Doctor is mistaken for the famous lyre player Maximus Pettulian.
* NiceJobBreakingItHero:
** Barbara's heart was in the right place when she tried to attack the intruders in the villa, but hitting ''Ian'' on the head with an urn didn't exactly help them.
** The Doctor accidentally gives Nero the idea to burn Rome. And has a {{Squee}} reaction.
* NoodleIncident: The Doctor recalls a couple: not only has he been to Rome before (an ad-lib by Creator/WilliamHartnell) but he also claims he trained the "Mountain Mauler of Montana" (presumably a famous boxer or wrestler).
* PoisonedChaliceSwitcheroo: Unusual in that the goblets are switched by a third party (Vicki).
* PsychopathicManChild: Nero.
* PsychoticSmirk: The Doctor gives one having just shown Nero up in court.
* RealEventFictionalCause: The Doctor accidentally inspires Nero [[WhileRomeBurns to burn Rome]].
* RealityEnsues: Barbara is overheard loudly talking about how she and the rest of her companions are from Briton. Not too soon afterwards, she and Ian are kidnapped and [[MadeASlave sold into slavery.]] While being British was advantageous in the 1960s, in the time of Pax Romana, not so much!
* RunningGag:
** "It's in the fridge."
** In the first few episodes, the Doctor keeps forgetting the name of the man he is supposed to be impersonating.
* SelfOffense: Barbara hits Ian over the head with an urn while trying to hit the intruders.
** When they return to the villa, Ian at first blames the men, until Barbara admits it was she who knocked him out.
* ShootTheDog: Tavius and the actual Petullian's plan is to off Nero because he's nuts and an emperor.
* ShoutOutToShakespeare: After Barbara gives him a haircut, Ian quotes ''Theatre/JuliusCaesar''.
-->'''Ian''': Friends, Romans, countrymen! Lend me your ears. I come to bury Caesar, not to praise him.
-->'''Barbara''': Oh boy, that was a mistake.
* SlaveGalley: Ian and Delos are sent into one.
* {{Squee}}: Vicki's reaction when the Doctor says she can come to Rome with him. She does it again when she sees Nero for the first time.
* TokenGoodTeammate: Tavius, as he is a Christian.
* TropeMaker: See ArtisticLicenseReligion above for an in-universe example.
* WhileRomeBurns: Nero shows why he's the TropeNamer in his last scene.
* ZanyScheme: Everything the Doctor does to keep people from finding out he can't play the lyre.