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Audio Play: Big Finish Doctor Who
A long-running and ongoing audio series by Big Finish, with Nicholas Briggs as the Show Runner. The series stars the actors from the TV series, and is written and produced by much of the regular Doctor Who crew. The episodes are available both as CDs and as digital downloads.

In 1999, after producing a series of audio dramas for Doctor Who New Adventures companion Benny Summerfield, Big Finish finally nabbed the license to produce new audio dramas starring the original (still living) Doctors and their companions. Peter Davison, Colin Baker and Sylvester McCoy immediately signed, followed a few years later by Paul McGann. Over a decade after the others, Tom Baker agreed to reprise his role as well. All other Doctors appear in prose stories read by their friends. Pretty much every single companion and villain from the classic series shows up in the episodes, almost always played by the original actors, in addition to many new characters. Nicholas Briggs had previously played the Doctor in the 1984 fan group project (well, Briggs-with-a-bunch-of-pseudonyms project) "Doctor Who Audio Visuals", and adapted many of its stories into later Big Finish episodes.

The main range releases a new story every month. Following the huge success of Paul McGann's audio adventures, the Eighth Doctor's episodes were expanded beyond the monthlies and joined by a long separate series from 2007 onwards ("The New Eighth Doctor Adventures"), which are also broadcast on BBC radio. The Fourth Doctor exclusively stars in his own series outside of the monthlies.

The Big Finish Doctor Who continuity also currently includes (but is not limited to):

Additionally, The Lost Stories are episodes that were intended for the TV series, but never made; episodes marked "Side Step" take place in the Virgin New Adventures canon or Doctor Who Magazine canon, rather than the Big Finish timeline; and various adaptations of existing Doctor Who Expanded Universe stories, such as the Doctor Who stage plays, have also been recorded. The company also publishes tie-in books.

A number of the writers were hired for the 2005 series recommission and several new series episodes have had more or less direct audio antecedents. Mark Gatiss adapted "Phantasmagoria" into "The Unquiet Dead", Robert Shearman's episode "Dalek" was heavily adapted by him from his audio "Jubilee", "The Fires of Pompeii" took inspiration from "The Fires of Vulcan", "Rise of the Cybermen"/"The Age of Steel" (as well as elements of "Doomsday") took strong inspiration from "Spare Parts" with author Marc Platt getting a story credit on the episodes, and "Utopia" was inspired heavily by "Master".

Big Finish is currently not legally able to use any elements or characters from the revived 2005 series, since BBC Audio holds the licence for New Who audiobooks. But the occasional sneaky reference is thrown in, Noel Clarke is all over the Dalek Empire series, Dan Starkey voices most of the Sontarans, and the ban was temporarily ignored (in cooperation with licence holders AudioGo) to record a few prose stories for the 50th anniversary. While Big Finish can use the Eighth Doctor, licensing issues with Fox has prevented Big Finish from using Grace Holloway or Chang Lee — but this hasn't stopped Daphne Ashbrook and Yee Jee Tso from appearing in other roles, and Grace is mentioned occasionally. Also notable are a few characters who, from 2003 onwards, were played by some Scottish guy named David Tennant.

Although the series is (and always has been) officially part of the Whoniverse canon, it encompasses many different timelines/continuities and includes adaptations of existing works from the Doctor Who Expanded Universe. Due to Big Finish's sheer size and complexity, it also plays by the rules of the Doctor Who Expanded Universe: the TV series can at times contradict or overwrite the timelines described here, or adapt them for the televised continuity. To cement its general canonical status, though, the 2013 minisode "The Night of the Doctor" (written by Steven Moffat) referencing many of the Big Finish companions by name. To avoid a Continuity Snarl (considering its massive amount of interconnected and yet mutually exclusive stories), Big Finish had long since introduced the concept of the Axis of Time, which allows for different timelines to exist independently of each other. This allows the company to treat all its stories as canon within their own respective timelines, which it happily does, without having to worry about being contradicted by other Doctor Who media.

Has a recap page that's constantly growing, so contribute and help build it if you can.

Tropes

For tropes about the characters, see the character sheet. For tropes in specific episodes, see the episode recaps.

  • Absurdism: Two of Robert Shearman's episodes, "The Chimes Of Midnight" and "The Holy Terror". His later episode "Scherzo" is made of Absurdism tropes, only entirely Played for Drama.
  • Adaptation Expansion: Some of the earliest episodes are new versions of Nicholas Briggs' old unofficial Doctor Who Audio Visuals.
  • Amnesiac Hero: Just like in the TV movie and the Eighth Doctor Adventures novels, Eight typically manages to find some way to lose his memory.
  • Anachronic Order: The episodes are produced in any order Big Finish likes. This means that, for example, Seven can have a powerfully dramatic story with Ace one month in which he talks elder Gods to death, and a camp panto with Mel the next month where a younger Seven still mixes his metaphors and falls over a lot. It's also used as foreshadowing: the Doctor frequently remenisces about his time with Evelyn in episodes that are set after his travels with her, long before we find out why she stopped being his companion. The storylines are usually in chronological order from the companions' perspectives, though... which can still be timey-wimey in itself, as seen when Charley (previously an Eighth Doctor companion) starts travelling with Six.
    • Several episodes, notably "Creatures Of Beauty" and the wonderful Mind Screw "Flip-Flop", are completely in Anachronic Order.
    • The trilogy of "The Harvest", "The Reaping" and "The Gathering" can be listened to in any order. In release order, the episodes take place in 2021, 1984 and 2006, and star the Seventh, Sixth and Fifth Doctors.
  • And I Must Scream: Davros's description of his imprisonment, turned Up to Eleven.
  • Anti-Villain: Many enemies. Straxus is the the trope's poster boy in the New Eighth Doctor's Adventures series.
  • Anyone Can Die: Companions created by Big Finish don't often survive. Those that do tend to get broken. Even classic series companions are fair game, since Big Finish has no problems with bringing them back just to get them killed. Hell, even the Doctor dies properly a few times over, either in timelines that get reset or before being resurrected again.
  • Arc Number: The number 45 shows up frequently in "Forty-Five" in speech, writing, or other instances (such as soldiers carrying .45 caliber weapons). It is revealed that the appearance of the number 45 is caused by the engines of the CORDIS, a non-physical ship piloted by the Word Lord Nobody No-one, and is analogous to the sound made by the Doctor's TARDIS.
  • Arc Words:
    • Zagreus sits inside your head, Zagreus lives among the dead, Zagreus sees you in your bed and eats you when you're sleeping... The rhyme was first sung by the Sixth Doctor two and a half years before Zagreus even showed up. It was spoken by Eight a while later. In between Zagreus' first appearance and his very own episode, a Cliff Hanger which infamously lasted a year and a half, the rhyme was referenced by a few other characters.
    • The Divergent arc ("Scherzo" up until "The Next Life") has revolution, reincarnation, evolution, death and rebirth, becoming food for other lifeforms, reptilian into mammalian, fluid consciousness between multiple beings, mother, spinning in a circle, breaking free of the cycle, the next life and the beyond.
  • Arson, Murder, and Jaywalking: In a fantastic little Continuity Nod, the Fourth Doctor lists Daleks, Cybermen and Morris dancers.
  • Ascended Fanon: invoked The Doctor Who Audio Visuals had a considerable fandom after the classic series ended. When Nicholas Briggs reached Promoted Fanboy status, he adapted many of them into Big Finish episodes proper.
    • The titles for the Seventh Doctor's Lost Stories weren't Andrew Cartmel's preferred ones, but since they'd become established in fanon courtesy of a speculative Doctor Who Magazine article, they decided to go with them (apart from "Ice Time", which became "Thin Ice"). The intended titles were "Action at a Distance" for "Crime of the Century", "Bad Destination" for "Earth Aid", and "Blood and Iron" for "Animal" (Though, to be fair, DWM were the ones who revealed the intended titles as well).
  • Ascetic Aesthetic: Light City in "The Natural History of Fear".
  • Attention Deficit... Ooh, Shiny!: The Eighth Doctor rather frequently forgets what he's doing. Villains who try Rail Roading him tend to get extremely frustrated. One episode sees his Attention Deficit... Ooh, Shiny! side manifesting itself as a separate person, whom Charley promptly nicknames "Tigger".
  • Author Appeal:
    • Robert Shearman loves to combine imaginary World Limited to the Plot settings with an Extra-Strength Masquerade, Reality Warper characters, Gothic Horror and a grand "Groundhog Day" Loop. He's used this formula several times over, resulting in some of the most popular Big Finish episodes ever made.
    • Nicholas Briggs likes Daleks. Lots and lots and lots of Daleks. Also, in "The Nowhere Place", he's the writer and director, performs the music, post produces, and plays a character who's lauded as the modern Da Vinci.
    • Paul Cornell typically includes owls, grand heroic speeches about The Power of Friendship, and revelations about which side characters are sleeping with each other.
    • Nev Fountain, who's dating Peri's actress Nicola Bryant, is generally considered the best Peri writer in any medium.
    • Jonathan Morris has a thing for Douglas Adams homages, codified many of the now-standard Doctor Who Temporal Paradox tropes in his novels and audios, and especially enjoys writing team Four, Romana and K-9.
    • Robert Ross writes specifically about the Sixth Doctor and Evelyn meeting Historical Domain Characters and a small cast of his own Reality Warper villains.
    • Simon A. Forward uses an alien race he designed, the Galyari, in most of his stories.
  • Bait the Dog: At first Red Jasper in "Doctor Who and the Pirates" seems like a Laughably Evil, Large Ham, pirate that doesn't do anything. Then he cuts out a guy's tongue and forces him to eat it. Hurrah for the Pirate King...
  • Bechdel Test: Passes much more often than classic Doctor Who, although it still depends on the episode. Anything involving Nyssa, especially the episode "Winter For The Adept", tends to pass with flying colors. Erimem's episodes are also usually great examples.
  • Belated Happy Ending: For many classic series characters. Promptly subverted again with Susan, who gets deeply traumatised soon after her very happy reunion with her grandfather.
  • Big Brother Is Watching: In "The Natural History Of Fear", every single scene starts with the characters watching or listening to a recording of the previous scene. Many of which include people telling each other they're not being recorded. The effect is genuinely terrifying.
  • Big Damn Kiss:
    • The Sixth Doctor and Sally-Anne. It Makes Sense in Context. A bit.
    • Frobisher and Alicia. (And since Frobisher has decided to shapeshift into the Sixth Doctor's shape for the occasion, he's played by Colin Baker.)
    • The Eighth Doctor and Charlotte Pollard, when they mash their mouths together to absorb each other's bodies. It's played for traumatising Body Horror instead of romance.
  • Body Horror: After a while, Charlotte Pollard's life turns into one big Body Horror trauma after another, including frequent Eye Scream moments. Highlights include (but are in no way limited to) literally merging into a single organism together with the Doctor and being turned into a giant maggot-shaped breeding factory for an insect race. Continuously Played for Drama.
  • Bottle Episode: "Scherzo", featuring only the Eighth Doctor, his companion Charley, (very briefly) the TARDIS, and the Monster of the Week, who can only talk using the Doctor and Charley's words.
    • "Protect and Survive" is another, with Ace and Hex in a Groundhog Day style time-loop, trapped in the detonation and fallout of a nuclear bomb.
  • Bowties Are Cool: Through some fiddling around with trademarks and a cooperation with AudioGo, the episode "Shadow Of Death" saw the Second Doctor catching a brief glimpse of Eleven, and the two of them communicating through a psychic note. Two is really quite pleased with how he'll turn out, particularly the fetching bowtie.
  • Break the Cutie: Ditzy Genius Eight started out much the same as he was in the TV movie. When the new TV series started and the Last Great Time War became a plot point, Briggs started slowly taking Eight in the direction of Shell-Shocked Veteran and preparing him for the actions he will one day take in the war. As of 2011, he's very properly broken.
  • Break the Haughty: Six learns a lesson or two in humility, particularly from his companion Dr. Evelyn Smythe.
  • Breakout Character: Eight, to the point where he has the longest-spanning Story Arc, the entire 40th anniversary centered on him, and the release of his episode "Dark Eyes" was so popular it crashed the Big Finish website.
  • Broken Bird: Molly.
  • Brown Note: In an interesting variation, the monster in "Nocturne" is a living brown note.
    • The blinding light in "Scherzo", and the pain it causes the Doctor and Charlotte, is represented by a high-pitched schreech. For the better part of an hour. Because it's a Psychological Horror story, the sound is pretty much a direct psychological assault on the audience.
  • The Bus Came Back: Every single companion and villain from the classic series came back for Big Finish when they were asked, unless they were either dead or really not available. From Susan to Sara Kingdom to the Brigadier, and from Davros to Omega to the Master, they're all in there.
  • Captain Ersatz: Dark Space Eight from "Bang-Bang-A-Boom!" is clearly supposed to be Deep Space Nine. The same drama mentions another station called Achilles 4 that is described as the last best hope for peace.
  • Celebrity Paradox: William Hartnell is a major character in "Pier Pressure", although it's never explicitly stated that it's him.
  • Character Development: A few characters, mostly the Big Finish-only companions, are given arcs in which to grow.
    • The Sixth Doctor mellows out around companion Evelyn Smythe, a 55-year old history teacher, who is intelligent, confident, and stomachs precisely none of Sixie's ego-trips. He's still plenty boastful about himself afterwards, just less jerkassy. Six later tells Mel that having Evelyn continually clip him round the ear significantly improved his people skills... from plain "Insufferable" down to "Mostly Sufferable", admittedly, but still an improvement.
    • We get to see much of the Seventh Doctor near the end of his life, travelling alone — including his very last adventure before dying. In the episode "Master", it's darkly lampshaded: he no longer plays the spoons, or mixes his metaphors. He's too busy destroying planets and toppling empires.
    • The Eighth Doctor is still a total ditz when he first meets Charley. By the end of Lucie Miller's run, he's slowly but steadily become the person who will eventually fight in the Last Great Time War. This includes him stating he's willing to change time, not being able to forgive a fellow Time Lord anymore, and promising the Daleks he'll commit genocide on them if he ever gets a chance to.
      • Lucie Miller also grows up considerably throughout her four seasons, and makes some very tough life decisions.
  • Character Focus: A few. The loosely tied trilogy of "Omega", "Davros" and "Master" each focused on... well, the villains Omega, Davros and The Master. The Companion Chronicles are also all about this trope.
  • Characters as Device: Several companions, notably C'rizz and Tamsin, explore the idea of a companion who's just not suited for TARDIS travel. It's entirely Played for Drama, and the Doctor's rather flippant response to losing companions whom he didn't entirely get along with in the first place triggers major plot developments.
  • Christmas Episode:
    • "The One Doctor" (2001): A very silly Panto.
    • "Bang-Bang-A-Boom!" (2002): Another very silly Panto.
    • "Death In Blackpool" (2009): A depressing and plot-heavy episode, deliberately closer to the style of the new TV series. Not standalone.
    • "Relative Dimensions" (2010): A Lighter and Softer episode, with the Doctor stating he'd like to make up for the depressing events of "Death In Blackpool".
  • Civilian Villain: The Daleks pull this one at least thrice. One attempt involved them going undercover as Shakespeare scholars.
  • Classy Cat-Burglar: Raine Creevy, introduced in "Thin Ice", and Lady Lilian Hawthorne, a.k.a. "Janus", from "The Veiled Leopard".
  • Cliff Hanger: The Eighth Doctor is good at long, long cliffhangers. "The Next Life", "Vengeance Of Morbius" and "To The Death" immediately come to mind. Most notably, the release gap between "Neverland" and "Zagreus" lasted for a year and a half.
  • Close Enough Timeline: Used quite a few times, most notably in "The Kingmaker".
  • Continuity Porn: The entire episode "Zagreus". As well as the ending of "Babblesphere", in which the Doctor and Romana list Ice Warriors, Ood, Mandrels, Bandrils and Chumbleys; Gallifreyan Presidents Morbius, Slann, Pandak, Pandak II and Pandak III; and Gallifreyan nursery rhyme characters Rassilon, Zagreus, Salyavin, the Shakri and the Krafayis.
  • Continuity Snarl: Big Finish takes place in a different continuity from the Doctor Who New Adventures, Eighth Doctor Adventures and Doctor Who Magazine comics (as well as the new TV series in case of contradictions). Big Finish stories that do take place in other canons are marked "Side Step". However, sometimes the writers just can't resists throwing in a sneaky reference, and as a result some episodes freely reference the novels, even though the novels often flat-out contradict the TV show canon (and vice versa). This was solved somewhat in "Zagreus", where the Doctor, going mad, can suddenly see all his alternate timelines and lists many of the novel plotlines as "what-ifs".
    • Though interestingly enough a villain from Big Finish, the Dalek Time Controller, appeared in an 11th Doctor novel, The Dalek Generation. And the Destiny of the Doctor arc has Big Finish continuity with New Who. "The Night of the Doctor" essentially confirms a large deal of the dramas as canon by having the Eighth Doctor reference multiple Big Finish companions by name before he regenerates.
    • The mini-episode "100 Days Of The Doctor" seems determined to cause as many Continuity Snarl moments as possible. This includes Eight meeting Lucie before they first met. (Though as Six notes to Evelyn, these future incarnations' adventures of himself he and she are viewing aren't necessarily set in stone... yet.)
    • The writers have also freely admitted that the timeline of Six' companions is slightly wobbly. Which is something of a Mythology Gag to the TV series, where trying to figure out the Six & Mel timeline has caused many a fan a headache. Made more complicated in the Big Finish adaptation of "The Ultimate Adventure", a non-canon stage play, during which Six unexpectedly mentions Big Finish companion Evelyn. (Nicholas Briggs called the reference "a bit naughty" in regards to canonicity.)
      • Taken Up to Eleven with the multi-Doctor story "The Wrong Doctors," involving two different Sixes meeting up with the wrong Melanie Bushes.
  • Cool Old Guy: Governor Rossiter from "Arrangements For War" and "Thicker Than Water". Voiced by Sutekh, no less! And he's not even remotely evil!
  • Cool Old Lady: Evelyn Smythe. Awesome enough to mellow out Six.
  • Creator Cameo: Many. Gary Russell in particular, as he has a distinctive voice, it's a joke amongst listeners to try and spot his various cameos in every other release (Yes, just like Alfred Hitchcock). Although, the entire cast has helped with putting in the odd voicein more recent releases. Nicholas Briggs and Barnaby Edwards frequently have small roles too, (although with Briggs it's more of a case of Descended Creator half the time, especially when playing the Daleks).
    • One sarcastic fan once suggested that they make a story with two insane geniuses played by Russell and Briggs who were planning to seed the universe with their genes and end with a montage of their numerous roles in order to suggest that they succeeded.
  • Creepy Monotone: The Editor (Paul McGann) in "The Natural History Of Fear". He edits people. While they're still awake. The episode makes full use of Paul McGann's Cozy Voice for Catastrophes and adds a grand helping of Mind Screw and Medical Horror.
  • Cross Through: A few arcs will pit different Doctors against the same villain / species. Charley's arc is a particularly odd example, as she first meets up with Eight and goes on to travel with Six. The Excelis arc involves the Fifth, Sixth and Seventh Doctors as well as Bernice Summerfield and Iris Wildthyme.
  • Cuckoo Nest: The 8th Doctor audio drama "Minuet in Hell"
  • Cybernetics Eat Your Soul: One of the story elements in "Spare Parts", which is often considered one of the best Cybermen stories out there.
  • Deadpan Snarker: The Eighth Doctor becomes this whenever he's about to be killed, to the point where it starts to look like an emotional defense mechanism more than anything. (His enemies notice it too, at one point stating that "he uses it to suppress his fear".) A notable moment is when he tells someone that he's really glad the guy's going to kill them all on purpose. Because he'd hate to think that someone would do something that monumentally stupid by accident.
  • Determinator: As Eight will tell you, whatever happens, the Doctor does not give up. In "Zagreus", the fact that he might have given up, even for a second, not only risks his injuries killing him, with no regeneration, but confused the hell out of illusionary versions of his prior incarnations that were gathered around him.
  • Development Gag: Quite a few.
    • Six gets to spend the entire first episode of his first long Story Arc wearing velvet. Colin Baker originally wanted to play Six in black velvet in the TV series, but it was veto'd.
    • Eight's companions get in a few snide remarks about his poncy hair, notably when Lucie asks if it's even real. Paul McGann wore a wig when he played the Doctor on TV, since he shaved his head after his audition.
    • The Doctor keeps trying to take his companions to Blackpool, with varying levels of success. The Doctor remarks at one point that the TARDIS just doesn't want to be there. Him trying to take Lucie Miller to Blackpool, and the TARDIS not being able to go there for mysterious reasons, becomes the Story Arc of an entire season.
  • Discontinuity Cavalcade: In "Zagreus", the Eighth Doctor is able to see all possible incarnations of his self. He describes the plotlines of many of the novels in rapid succession, listing them all as "what-ifs" that may have happened to him in alternate timelines.
  • Distressed Dude: The Doctor, of course, and especially the Fifth (who has had to endure broken limbs, agony machines, brain blueprint harvesting, a lot of knocks on the head, and strappado).
  • Ditzy Genius: Eight breathes this trope.
  • Downer Ending: "To the Death". They're not kidding with the title.
    • "Gods and Monsters."
    • "Holy Terror" is the biggest Kill 'em All Six had to endure ever.
  • Dystopian Edict: No one is allowed to ask questions in Light City in "The Natural History of Fear" and Alternate Timeline England in "Jubilee" bans contractions.
  • Everything's Better with Penguins: Frobisher stars in "The Holy Terror" and "The Maltese Penguin".
  • Evil Is Hammy: The Eighth, to the extent they should rename it Face Ham Turn in his honor. Except for those times when he isn't, as in "The Natural History of Fear". Then he's just goddamn terrifying.
    • Davros also, but that almost goes without saying.
  • Expanded Universe: Depending on whom you ask, the audios may or may not have been originally intended as canon to the TV series. (Stephen Cole insists they were; other writers disagree.) When Russell T Davies revived the TV series, he personally made sure that Big Finish kept their licence (since he's a huge fan), but contradicted or overwrote the canon of the audios on many occasions.
  • Eye Scream: In "Night Thoughts" and in "Embrace The Darkness", something is going around and ripping out people's eyes. It should be noted, however, that in "Embrace the Darkness" it was all a big misunderstanding (yes, really) and the victims get their eyes back at the end.
  • Fake American: Apart from many Fake American actors in stories taking place in the USA, Frobisher at one point spends almost an entire episode shapeshifted into the Sixth Doctor. Including his voice. This leads to Colin Baker impersonating Canadian Fake American Robert Jezek playing Frobisher pretending to be the Doctor. It is glorious.
  • Fantastic Racism: As seen in the TV series, Time Lords do not like vampires, due to a generations-old feud between the two. Big Finish takes this idea and runs with it, making Rassilon's feud with the vampires into a massive Story Arc involving many more species.
  • First-Person Smartass: Frobisher.
  • For the Evulz: According to "Master", all the Master's plans were designed to cause as much misery and destruction as possible. Why? Because as one of the Doctor's titles is Time's Champion, the Master is Death's Champion.
  • Foregone Conclusion: From 2005 onwards, the new TV series established that the Doctor would one day destroy Gallifrey in the Last Great Time War. As of 2012, Eight is slowly starting to understand that he's at war with the Daleks, and that it can't end well. In the Audio Play/Gallifrey audio series, a lot of background is given to the start of the war; the Eighth Doctor series "Dark Eyes" tiptoes around it.
  • Future Me Scares Me: Six does not approve of what Seven and Eight have done to the TARDIS interior. Eight is very weirded out when (in a radio promo for his episodes) he's asked why he doesn't have a Northern accent or a leather jacket. Iris seriously freaks out when she realises Bianca is her. Peri meets an older self who's apparently a secret agent although the truth is much sadder, Eight gets a fake glimpse of the Time War. And when Six from just after his Trial tries to pick up Mel but instead encounters Six from after his travels with Evelyn — the two do not get along.
  • Gayngst: Played With in the case of original companion Oliver Harper, who's scared as hell of having to come out of the closet to the First Doctor and Steven Taylor. Of course, the Doctor really doesn't care, and neither does Steven, being from the 23rd century.
  • Genius Ditz: Mel. So, so much.
    Mel: But, Doctor, we know they can't change history because we've seen the future already.
    Seventh Doctor: No. Unfortunately there is an awkward thing called "free will".
    Mel: Oh. You mean that predeterminism is merely a philosophical abstract and that the physical reality of the universe is the one in which all potential actions are permitted, including those whose effect cancel out their own logical cause?
    Seventh Doctor: ... Yes, Mel.
  • Genre Shift: "The Kingmaker" is much sillier than a standard Doctor Who episode, with all of the characters talking more like they're in Blackadder. "Scherzo", on the other hand, is much more serious than any other Doctor Who episode and entirely devoid of the show's usual amounts of silliness and camp. Both episodes are extremely well-loved.
  • Getting Crap Past the Radar: Played With. The radar is gone, and unlike the classic TV series, Big Finish can say and do pretty much anything. The Doctor isn't entirely on board with it, though — and tends to get a bit embarassed when people start swearing or talking about sex.
  • Good with Numbers: "The Boy That Time Forgot." Block transfer computations. That is all.
  • Gothic Horror: The Eighth Doctor's stories often go in this direction, though typically with an alien twist at the end. Appropriately enough, he at one point enlists Mary Shelley as his companion for a few episodes.
    • "The Chimes Of Midnight" in particular gets right on top of this genre and runs with it.
  • Green-Skinned Space Babe: Subverted (boy, is it ever) with Queen Angvia (Pat Quinn), who's built like a butch Valkyrie and has the lung capacity to match.
    Doctor: But I have to go! The fate of the entire universe is at stake!
    Angvia: The Universe can VAIT! I AM A VOMAN!!
  • Heroic BSOD: At the end of "Arrangements for War", the Sixth Doctor suffers a massive one following the pointless deaths of Marcus and Krisztina, two young lovebirds he'd been befriending the past few months. He's a scant few milimetres of ignoring all the laws of time to undo it, before Evelyn manages to stop him.
    Sixth Doctor: This wasn't supposed to happen. This wasn't supposed to happen!
    • Eight has a massive and comparable one at the end of "To The Death". Also leads to an Important Haircut in his case.
  • Holding Hands: The iconic imagery of "Scherzo", seen on the episode's CD cover. The Doctor and Charley spend the entire episode holding hands. It doesn't end well.
  • Identical Stranger: Apparently, Peri is a dead ringer for Queen Anne of France.
  • Important Haircut: Eight gets one around "Dark Eyes", which neatly allows Paul McGann to do new promo pictures without having to wear the movie wig again.
  • In The Style Of: "The One Doctor" and "Bang-Bang-A-Boom!" are in the style of Christmas Panto. "The Maltese Penguin" is a Film Noir parody. "Invaders From Mars!" is in the style of a 1940's sci-fi radio drama, a format central to the plot. "Caerdroia" has a thing or two in common with Looney Tunes. Episode three of "Doctor Who And The Pirates" is a full-on Gilbert and Sullivan musical. "The Auntie Matter" is a loving homage to P. G. Wodehouse. "Castle of Fear" is nearly spot on for a Monty Python skit.
  • Internal Homage: The episode "Master" is a love letter to Paul Cornell's novel Human Nature. "The Chimes Of Midnight" is In The Style Of the TV series episode "Ghost Light". Episodes starring Eight that were made after 2005 tend to subtly reference the Last Great Time War.
  • Ironic Nursery Tune:
    • Zagreus sits inside your head, Zagreus lives among the dead, Zagreus sees you in your bed and eats you when you're sleeping...
    • "Night Thoughts" had... something... whistling "Oranges and Lemons" while it went around ripping out people's eyes. This was apparently considered such a great idea that "Oranges and Lemons" kept on returning throughout Big Finish during particularly nightmarish moments.
    • "Scherzo" briefly features "Frère Jacques".
    • "The Chimes of Midnight" likewise gave "Hark the Herald Angels Sing" this treatment. Sensing a pattern yet?
  • Is That a Threat?: In "The Faith Stealer", the leader of a religious cult confronts the local Sheriff-equivilent.
    Bordinan: Are you threatening me?
    Carder: Come come Bordinan, we're both adults here... of course I'm threatening you.
  • Just One Second Out of Sync: "Time Works" has The Doctor, Charley and C'rizz landing in the space between seconds used by the Time Keepers to make sure everyone stays absolutely punctual. Halfway through Part One, the Doctor ends up falling into the normal flow of events while Charley and C'rizz end up exploring the back corridors of time.
  • Kudzu Plot: Every Big Finish plotline spawns sequels, prequels and spinoff series. Which in turn may get their own spinoff series. Standalone arcs have prose sequels, Perspective Flip special releases (which aren't available from Big Finish at all), and links to other Doctor Who media. The Doctor will merrily take a vacation in Doctor Who Magazine comics locations, meet up with Iris Wildthyme and reference future events from the new TV series — which only serve as fuel for new plotlines. Every supposed trilogy has at least four parts, and villains or companions from the early 2000's have a tendency to return a decade later for an entirely new story. In short, every little piece of Big Finish is connected and constantly growing.
  • Large Ham: It is Doctor Who, what did you expect?
    • Special mention to Sylvester McCoy in "Unregenerate!", where Seven comes down with a case of frothing insanity. You can almost hear the bacon frying.
    • Bonus point to Queen Angvia, played by the legendary Pat Quinn in "Bang-Bang-A-Boom!", for almost out-hamming Sylvester McCoy.
    • Another special mention to Paul McGann in "Zagreus", with a grand helping of Evil Is Hammy.
    • Davros makes an admirable effort to out-ham everything else on the planet, including entire armies of Daleks.
  • Late-Arrival Spoiler: The cover art for "Human Resources: Part One" spoils its own plot twist by blatantly listing Nicholas Briggs as The Cybermen.
  • Light Is Not Good: Light City from "The Natural History of Fear" is a 1984-esque dystopia that mind rapes its citizens who dare ask questions. The blinding light in "Scherzo" is as painful for the Doctor and Charley as it is for the fans, because it's represented by a sound directly from your nightmares.
  • Lighter and Softer: The two Christmas Pantos starring Mel.
  • Lovecraft Lite: "Lurkers at Sunlight's Edge" is basically a Whole Plot Reference to At the Mountains of Madness with some meta-concepts thrown in and a thinly veiled H.P. Lovecraft expy playing a central role.
  • Marshmallow Hell: Pat Quinn forces the Seventh Doctor into this in "Bang-Bang-A-Boom!"
  • M.C. Escher: The episode "Flip-Flop", by Jonathan Morris, is structured like an M.C. Escher painting.
  • Mind Rape: The trope is name-checked in "The Natural History Of Fear", and we're treated to Paul McGann performing a thoroughly disturbing Medical Horror Mind Rape on both India Fisher (Charley) and Conrad Westmaas (C'rizz).
    • The Eighth Doctor delivers one in "Phobos". When facing a monster that feeds on adrenaline but is harmed by actual fear, the Doctor conquers it effortlessly by showing it his own mind. He starts by feeding it memories of all the things he's seen in the past, followed by all the evil he's seen from the future... and as a final blow, all the things he's afraid he might do someday. The whole Crowning Moment Of Awesome takes several minutes, with the Doctor continuously mocking the monster throughout. Oh, and he does it while bungee jumping into the monster's transdimensional portal.
    • The Sixth Doctor gets mind raped in "The Holy Terror".
  • Mind Screw: "Neverland" and "Zagreus" are pretty much the series' equivalent of Neon Genesis Evangelion... and "Scherzo" is the series' End of Evangelion. "The Natural History Of Fear", which almost directly follows that trilogy of episodes, will destroy whatever was left of your sanity.
    • "Flip-Flop" has quite possibly the most severely tangled timeline in Doctor Who history.
  • Motive Rant: The story "Davros" starts off with the title character giving an absolutely epic one, summing up his entire character masterfully.
  • Mr. Fanservice: Paul McGann, as usual, manages to lose his shirt on occasion... even in a sound-only medium. According to Charley, Eight also naturally smells like honey.
  • Mr. Smith: Made into a plot point a few times over, notably in "The Marian Conspiracy". It becomes a hugely important concept in "Master", which basically asks the question: "what if Human Nature had happened to the Master?". It has the Master living as "Dr. John Smith", and the Doctor realising with increasing horror all the ways in which he and his archenemy are Not So Different.
  • Musical Episode:
    • "Doctor Who and the Pirates, or The Lass That Lost a Sailor"; episode 3 is 20 minutes of Colin Baker, Bill Oddie and company breaking into song. It's awesome.
    • "The Scorchies" has Jo Grant in the middle of a very deadly children's show, with such numbers as The Killing The Doctor Song.
    • "The Rapture" is a variation, since most of the story takes place in a night club. The soundtrack is awesome.
    • The episodes "The Wormery" and "Nocturne" both involve songs.
    • "The Magic Mousetrap" has two songs, both of which are awesome.
    • "Horror of Glam Rock" has, unsurprisingly, a Glam Rock song - sung by Stephen Gately, of all people. It also has a Glam version of the Doctor Who theme.
  • My Greatest Failure: The Fifth Doctor is unable to prevent the creation of the Cybermen in "Spare Parts", and his memories of Adric make him go just a bit off the deep end in the process. He knows that he can't mess with the Web of Time and that the existence of the Cybermen isn't his fault, but it becomes a deeply traumatic experience for him. The Sixth, Seventh and Eighth Doctors still show the emotional scars from that day.
  • Mythology Gag: Many.
    • In "Flip-Flop", Seven and Mel wear anti-radiation gloves, which the Doctor claims were created by one of his previous incarnations. In the TV episode "The Daleks", William Hartnell was supposed to say "anti-radiation drugs" but instead said "anti-radiation gloves".
    • In "...ish", the story apparently resulted in the creation of an impossibly thick encyclopedia volume starting with DAL, referring to Terry Nation’s apocryphal claim to have named his creations from the spine of an encyclopedia volume covering DAL to LEK. Also, "The Adjective of Noun" is used to describe the structure of many classic episode titles (especially those of Season 14).
    • In "Dark Eyes", Eight ends up in a place that's stated to be the result of the Time War... although it turns out to be All Just a Dream.
    • Seven constantly snarks at his own death, without realising it. It's remarkably subtle and blink-and-miss at times.
    • In "A Thousand Tiny Wings" Seven makes a passing reference to the Tardis's inability to translate Esperanto. In Legacy of The Daleks from The Eighth Doctor Adventures books, the Eighth Doctor ends up meeting the Delgado Master for a quick chat in said language.
  • No Celebrities Were Harmed: A few times, notably in "Max Warp" with the cast of Top Gear.
  • No Hugging, No Kissing: Played With, a lot. The classic TV series never allowed the Doctor to be intimate with anyone, and the Doctor is Genre Savvy enough to weaponise this fact a few times over. Six, at one point, convinces his enemies he's not the Doctor by grabbing a woman and kissing her deeply. Seven realises something's very wrong when he suddenly wants to shag a woman, and quickly works out that he's being drugged. Five just gets a bit flustered when the topic comes up and claims that women are not his area. (At which point Turlough rather dryly pointed out the existence of Susan).
    • Eight is painfully aware of his status as a Chick Magnet, which Zagreus delights in mocking with rather more explicit imagery than the classic TV series could ever get away with. Eventually, Eight gets one Big Damn Kiss with companion Charley, but it's not a happy one.
  • Not Quite Dead: "The Boy That Time Forgot." Adric comes back. As a heavily-aged insane reality-bending giant insect god-king. Wow.
  • Not So Different: Five and Omega, Six and Davros, Seven and the Master, Eight and the Meddling Monk. Big Finish adores this trope.
  • Not-So-Harmless Villain: Every so often Big Finish will bring back a not-very-well-regarded monster or villain from the classic series and make them goddamn terrifying.
  • Painting the Medium:
    • The series dives right into this trope in its third episode, "Whispers Of Terror". It features a museum of aural antiquity, a sound-only monster which can be fought using soundwave manipulation equipment, and a character whose only intact sense is his hearing.
    • "Omega" also has its twists and turns based on what we can't see.
    • "Scherzo" uses this trope for Psychological Horror. The Doctor and his companion arrive in the most alien world ever seen in Doctor Who, where all of their senses are painfully cut off and all they have left is their hearing. The episode represents their agony with a searing, high-pitched noise that lasts for the better part of an hour.
    • "The Natural History of Fear" does this brilliantly. The voices of the three main characters sound like the Eighth Doctor, Charley and C'rizz... but they sure behave oddly. The episode revolves around a Loss of Identity theme, and figuring out just who is who proves to be a challenge to the characters as much as it is to the audience.
  • Pantomime: "The One Doctor" and "Bang-Bang-A-Boom!", Christmas early specials, were done in Panto style. Both star Mel, who's extremely at home in the genre.
  • Phrase Catcher: Eight gets called a "ponce" (and sometimes a "fop") a whole lot. Most likely a reference to Withnail and I.
  • Playing with Syringes: The Forge, a mysterious organization run by cyborg vampire mad scientist Nimrod, gets up to everything from creating vampires to brainwashing soldiers during WWII to cloning the Doctor himself.
  • Rail Roading: The entire Divergent Universe arc. Of course, Eight eventually steers the whole thing way Off the Rails.
  • "Rashomon"-Style: "Peri And The Piscon Paradox", "The Veiled Leopard" and "The Four Doctors", among others. "Flip-Flop" is a variation.
  • Real-Life Relative: From "An Earthly Child" onwards, Paul McGann's real-life son plays the Doctor's great-grandson.
  • Reality Ensues: Big Finish dives headfirst into the trope a few times, most notably in "The Reaping". Poor Peri finds out exactly what happens when you introduce the Doctor to your family and friends. Its direct sequel, "The Gathering", has Tegan dealing with the trope. She doesn't make it.
  • Rescue Romance: The Eighth Doctor and his companion Charlotte have a very twisted, dysfunctional version of this trope. He saves her life in their first episode together, despite the fact that she was supposed to die, and they come to love each other as a result. However, whereas she's madly in love with him, his love for her is limited to a deep-seated need to keep rescuing her. It goes From Bad to Worse and gets entirely Played for Drama.
  • Rubber-Band History: Any time reality on Earth really goes to bits, this trope comes into effect. "The Mutant Phase" and "Jubilee" are notable examples of the Mind Screw version of this.
  • Rule of Funny: Whenever Iris Wildthyme shows up, reality tends to go straight out the window.
  • Running Gag:
    • Tons of references to the infamous "I'm taking you to — Blackpool!" Aborted Arc from "Revelation Of The Daleks".
    • In general, the Doctor complaining about companions twisting their ankles.
    • The Sixth Doctor and new companion Evelyn easily escape from the Tower of London in their first episode together. This was deemed so ridiculous by fans that Big Finish constantly makes tongue-in-cheek references to it in other releases. The Running Gag became downright morbid in "Jubilee", when the Doctor and Evelyn got stuck in the Tower again... and, in a timeline that would be eventually aborted, gruesomely died in there.
    • For specific Doctors:
      • Five: Getting physically incapacitated, everyone around him dying, and accidentally committing genocide. And getting into villains' secret lairs simply by politely knocking on the front door.
      • Six: Being genuinely oblivious to his crimes against fashion, and being in terrible physical shape. Also, being a total Combat Pragmatist and simply shooting things to sort out the plot.
      • Seven: Unknowingly snarking at his own death, and as an even more morbid Running Gag, him being unable to bring himself to commit murder (even if it would save the Web of Time).
      • Eight: His ability to contract amnesia no matter what he does. Whether it's in the movie, the Eighth Doctor Adventures novels or Big Finish, he'll always find some new and exciting way to lose his memory. Oh, and losing his shirt.
  • Sense Loss Sadness: Being in a dimension without time renders Eight's time senses useless, which renders him more than a little crabby. The baby TARDIS that gets transplanted into the Seventh Doctor's body at one point also panics hard.
  • Shakespeare in Fiction: Met Eight when he was a kid. Then seen getting plastered with the Fifth Doctor in "The Kingmaker", after which he became Richard the Third. And vice versa.
  • Shoot the Dog: Seven tries to in "Night Thoughts".
  • Shout-Out to Shakespeare
  • Show Within a Show: An, erm... reinterpreted Doctor Who appears in "Jubilee". Yes, it's Doctor Who within Doctor Who.
    "The Doctor": Daleks. I hate these guys.
    Dalek: Oh no! It is the Doc-tor! Scar-per! Scar-per!
  • The Slow Path: Eight in "Orbis" and "Prisoner Of The Sun"; Romana in "The Apocalypse Element"; Peri and Erimem in "The Kingmaker"; Lucie, Susan and Alex in "Lucie Miller" / "To The Death".
  • Sophisticated as Hell: Classic example by the Seventh Doctor to an Eldritch Abomination in "The Shadow Of The Scourge":
    Doctor: As William Shakespeare once said to me, come and have a go if you think you're hard enough.
  • Street Urchin: Sometimes-companion Thomas Brewster.
  • Talking the Monster to Death: Seven gets his share of this as usual, and Eight also occasionally dabbles in it. Six uses the trope in the most literal possible way in "...ish", when he uses his Sesquipedalian Loquaciousness to combat a sentient suffix.
  • Team Pet: Antranak the cat for the Fifth Doctor, and Ramsay the vortisaur for the Eighth.
  • That Poor Cat: Played for Drama in "Master". The entire episode is an elaborate Internal Homage to the Doctor Who New Adventures noval Human Nature, which introduced the Seventh Doctor's pet cat, Wolsey. In "Master", there's also a cat, which gets ripped open halfway through.
  • Theme Song Reveal: At The Stinger of "The Girl Who Never Was", Charley has been stranded on a desert island, after foiling another Cyberman plot. Unbeknownst to her, the Eighth Doctor believes they've parted company and has continued on his merry way. She nonetheless hears the TARDIS landing and rushes inside...
    Charley: I knew it! I knew you'd come back! I kne-...oh! Sorry. I...I was expecting someone else.
    [Sixth Doctor theme music starts playing]
  • Thinking Out Loud: Eight often suddenly notices he's soliloquising, and considers it a bad habit. He even does it at times when Charley is standing right next to him, thanks to his rampant Attention Deficit... Ooh, Shiny!.
  • Thirty Gambit Pileup: "Prisoner Of The Sun" and "Dark Eyes".
  • This Looks Like a Job for Aquaman: Six encounters several enemies whose exact weakness is a pompous living thesaurus who can't stop talking about himself. It works beautifully.
  • Tomato Surprise: "The Natural History of Fear".
  • Timey-Wimey Ball: "The Chimes Of Midnight", "Jubilee", "Seasons Of Fear", "The Four Doctors", "The Eye Of The Scorpion", "Flip-Flop" and "Dark Eyes" are just a few examples of the many different ways time travel can work. The Web Of Time is a fickle thing as well; "Storm Warning", "Doctor Who And The Pirates" and "To The Death" all show wildly different things that may or may not happen, should someone who's supposed to be dead get rescued. In addition to that, the entire Divergent arc takes place in a separate universe, which operates under its own laws of physics and technically doesn't even have time.
  • Tomboyish Name: Female companions Benny, Charley, Flip and Crys.
  • Torture Porn: "Project: Twilight", "Project: Lazarus", "Jubilee", "Spare Parts", "Scherzo", "The Natural History Of Fear", "Something Inside"...
  • Warts and All: Big Finish usually goes for a realistic portrayal of historical figures, who are shown in a very human and relatable way: as people who genuinely thought they were doing the right thing. In the case of Queen Bloody Mary, Oliver Cromwell, Richard III and Cardinal Richelieu, this ends up making them look much better than the history books tend to do. In some cases, like Christopher Columbus, the portrayal doesn't end up flattering at all (since Columbus was, in reality, a ruthless slaver and murderer). The trope is hilariously exaggerated with William Shakespeare in "The Kingmaker".
  • Wham Line: The end of episode 2 of "Dust Breeding" features the surprise, out of the blue appearance by an old foeSpoiler .
    Klemp: Who are you!?
    Mr Seta: I am The Master, and you will obey me.
    • Also, one hell of a Wham Line by Davros in "Terror Firma":
      Davros: I was able to operate —
      Eighth Doctor: My TARDIS.
      Davros: Operate on your TARDIS.
  • Whole Plot Reference: "Loups-Garoux" to "Little Red Riding Hood"; "Neverland" to Peter Pan; "Zagreus" to Alice in Wonderland; "The Natural History Of Fear" to 1984, Logan's Run and Dark City; "Doctor Who And The Pirates" to Gilbert and Sullivan musicals; "Flip-Flop" to Groundhog Day, Terminator and It's a Wonderful Life; "Master" to Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde; "Singularity" and "Exotron" to Neon Genesis Evangelion; "Something Inside" to Cube; "The Magic Mousetrap" to Agatha Christie, Thomas Mann's The Magic Mountain and The Rocky Horror Picture Show with a bit of Shock Treatment thrown in (pun very much intended).
  • Woobie, Destroyer of Worlds: Five's tendency to stumble into Kill 'em All plots — and Eight slowly starting to realise that he's at war with the Daleks, and that it may end very, very, very badly.
  • World Building: "The Game", "LIVE 34", "Red" and "Arrangements For War" / "Thicker Than Water" are notable examples.
  • World of Ham: "The Stones of Venice", with a side of Purple Prose. And it's GORGEOUS. Also "Bang-Bang-A-Boom!" and "The One Doctor".
  • Writing Around Trademarks:
    • The Seventh Doctor telling a character the current TARDIS configuration was better than the "leopard skin", the Sixth Doctor reassuring a companion that the "assembled hordes of Genghis Khan" couldn't break into it, and the Fifth Doctor being left a message from a "big-eared Northern chap". In one radio promo, Eight is asked why he doesn't have a Northern accent or a leather jacket, and he's a bit put out by the idea. And the Word Lord called Nobody No One is essentially the Tenth Doctor's evil alternate universe counterpart.
    • Big Finish has been getting permission for more and more new TV series nods over the years; "The Beginning" features the original TARDIS design seen in "The Name of the Doctor", which was quickly changed from Big Finish' own design after the TV episode aired and one of the scenes in that story is Susan's point of view of The Teaser of "The Name of the Doctor", with Clara being referred to only as "someone".
  • Wrong Genre Savvy: Played for Laughs in "The Maltese Penguin". Frobisher is trying to be the protagonist of a Hardboiled Detective story, and gets to a point where (in such a story) he'd be killed.
    Frobisher: I began to wish for one of those nick-of-time rescues. The sort that never happen in private eye stories, worse luck. Only in science fiction nonsense.

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alternative title(s): Big Finish Doctor Who; Big Finish Doctor Who
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