We've switched servers and will be updating the old code over the next couple months, meaning that several things might break. Please report issues here
Characters: Doctor Who Doctors
Splendid fellows — all of you.
A Time Lord
from the planet Gallifrey, the Doctor (real name unknown
) is the main character of this long-running show
. Like all Time Lords, he has a life span measured in centuries, some degree of psychic ability, and the ability to regenerate when near death. Unlike other Time Lords, he became terrified by the Gallifreyan way of life when he was young, stole an antique TARDIS, skipped town and "never stopped running".
The Doctor remains the same person
throughout his lives, but different incarnations have different personalities. Showrunners
tend to cast each Doctor as a subversion of the previous one in both attitude and appearance. Hence, the original stubborn old grandfatherly git became clownish, suave, loopy, calm, peremptory, manipulative, romantic, weary, harsh, hyperactive, adorkable and grumpy. After the show's return in 2005, it's added a bit more Character Development
than the classic series.
open/close all folders
- Admiring the Abomination: Many Doctors do this at least once in a while, but it's a particular specialty of Ten's.
- Alien Non-Interference Clause: Downplayed. He tries to stick to "meet new people, stop threat of the week, then fly off saying I Was Just Passing Through" - and disapproves of the Monk trying to "improve" history.
- This strategy does come back and bite him in the butt a few times, due to him introducing instability and change, but not sticking around to see the fallout. Ten changed Harriet Jones, (former) Prime Minister's fate, which allowed Harold Saxon to set up.
- Allergic to Routine: It varies per Doctor. Five was quite okay with spending long periods of time just relaxing; Eleven gets intensely annoyed after about a minute. Twelve prefers using windows to boring old doors.
- Always Save The Companion: So far, four incarnations (Three, Five, Nine and Ten) have died trading their life for their companion's.
- Ambiguously Bi: From the Eighth Doctor onwards, he will flirt with his male and female companions and will mouth kiss just about anybody. The Ho Yay between the Ninth Doctor and Jack and the Eleventh Doctor and Rory are prime examples.
- Anti-Hero: Regardless of the incarnation, he's an arrogant and vain old man who tries to do good in spite of himself.
- Attention Deficit... Ooh, Shiny!: To varying degrees in every one of his incarnations. Exactly how extreme it is varies considerably, with Four, Six and Eleven being particularly severe cases. But as a rule the Doctor can rarely stand to stay in one place for very long and simply cannot focus on long-term projects. Despite the fact that the TARDIS obviously needed some maintenance, the only time the Doctor really put serious effort into it was in his Third incarnation, when the Time Lords stranded him on Earth. Even then he kept himself amused running around with UNIT.
- Awesome Anachronistic Apparel: The Doctor seems to intentionally prefer old-fashioned clothes, especially waistcoats, which he's worn in several incarnations. Of course, as a time-traveler, everything is anachronistic apparel to him.
- Even the Ninth Doctor, who outwardly appeared to be wearing the most modern outfit, was actually wearing a Kriegsmarine Captain's Jacket from World War II, a similar look to the War Doctor's brown leather overcoat.
- Badass: All regenerations of the Doctor are both fearless and completely over the top.
- Badass Grandpa: He's already an old man when we first meet him, and a grandfather to boot.
- Badass Pacifist: To an extent. The Doctor usually tries to use his wits to solve problems rather than violence.
- Bavarian Fire Drill: After the introduction of the psychic paper in "The End of the World", the Impersonation Gambit is used more often.
- Been There, Shaped History: The Doctor's met nearly every famous historical character, at nearly every important event in history, and generally has an anecdote or two about them. Churchill has his phone number.
- Benched Hero: Three, Five, Ten, and Twelve's regenerations put them out action for much of it. Seven was immediately hypnotized to do the Rani's bidding, so honorable mention there. Two, Four, Six, Eight, Nine(as said in the expanded universe), and Eleven hit the ground running.
- Berserk Button: Don't hurt or kidnap his companions. Or try to destroy the Earth; we're his favourite aliens. Or enslave people, especially kids. The usually calm Doctor will end you.
- Beware the Nice Ones: The Doctor is, fundamentally, a good person... who will blow up enemies, spaceships and entire planets if it saves the day.
- Beware the Silly Ones: Even the more serious incarnations have their Adorkable moments, often in the face of extreme danger. Two, Four, Ten and Eleven are particular masters of this trope.
- Big Damn Heroes: All thirteen of them work together to save the day in "The Day of the Doctor".
- Big Good: His name inspires hope in all that is good and terror in all that is evil. Where he goes, freedom (and explosions) quickly follow. Frequently acknowledged as this, by friends and enemies alike.
The Master: A cosmos without the Doctor scarcely bears thinking about.
- Bittersweet Ending: The regenerations from one Doctor to the next. The Doctor is going to be fine, but he'll never be the same.
- Bizarre Alien Biology: As a Gallifreyan Time Lord, the Doctor can do weird things like counteract cyanide poisoning given a bunch of weird ingredients, absorb radiation and expel it through his foot or forego the need to breathe for a few minutes, and can withstand massive amounts of electricity. Oh — and he has two hearts. Not to mention that when he is close to death he can avoid it by essentially reassembling his body and regenerating into a new one, which changes his personality, quirks, likes and dislikes, though he essentially remains the same person.
- Blue Blood: It's heavily implied that the Doctor came from an aristocratic family back on Gallifrey.
- Born Lucky: With a little help from the TARDIS.
- A Boy and His X: A Time Lord and his TARDIS. Or, as she sees it, the TARDIS and her Time Lord.
- Break the Cutie: Each new Doctor starts out reinvigorated and carefree. Character Development sets in and the tone of the show grows darker until it's regeneration time.
- Break the Haughty: Each Doctor has a massive ego and each one of them will find themselves put through the ringer eventually because of it.
- Bunny-Ears Lawyer: He never quite manages to pass as fully human (or whatever race he's impersonating). But he's probably more adept at whatever's happening than anyone else, even if it involves wearing a piece of celery or comically pulling eggs out of his mouth.
- The Doctor is still registered as a full-time UNIT staff member, despite clocking in approximately once per decade and generally avoiding work like the plague.
- He's also been Lord President of Gallifrey at least once, and managed to skip out on that too.
- But Now I Must Go: The Doctor has a habit of bringing your world down around you and then vanishing prior to rebuilding. This was deconstructed in "Bad Wolf" and "The Face Of Evil" (albeit that one was due to Noodle Incident), though the Doctor didn't learn his lesson.
- Cain and Abel: The Abel to The Master's Cain. It's never been confirmed on the show that the two are actual brothers, and the Doctor denies in the revived series - although the Doctor isn't the most reliable source when it comes to his past. Even if they're not biologically related, the series makes it clear that they were as close as brothers growing up, so it still counts.
- Catch Phrase: "Of COURSE!"; "I'll explain...later." and of course, "Run!" (Individual Doctors also have their own.)
- The Chessmaster: Neil Gaiman notes that the Ninth Doctor tires of having to explain himself, and would much rather lurk on the periphery and move people around from a distance. However, this trait is visible as far back as Troughton in "Tomb of the Cybermen." The lack of subtlety on the Doctor's part varies: Troughton shrinks into the scenery to hide, keeping himself unnoticed and underestimated. Tom Baker, on the other hand, hangs a bright neon "I am lurking in the scenery waiting to pounce and make my move!" sign over his neck.
- Chronic Hero Syndrome: Distress signals always get the Doctor's attention.
- Clara's speech about how travelling can be an addiction could be pointing to this. The Doctor physically can't stop helping people.
- Cloud Cuckoo Lander: All the incarnations of Doctor will at the very least have shades of this.
- One was prone to making humorous (and rather weird) observations.
- Two's was mostly a case of Obfuscating Stupidity, though he was genuinely a bit dotty at times.
- Three would frequently speak to the Master (a murderer who attempts to conquer the planet on a regular week-to-week basis) as though he were having a chat with a good friend, even during jail cell visits.
- Four was as manic as his hair, offered jelly babies to pretty much everyone, and tended towards behaving like he was on a sugar bender most of the time.
- Five wore a stick of celery on his lapel, and would often change his mind about where he wanted to go mid-stride and turn and dash in that direction without telling his companions.
- Six truly believed his coat was fashionable and was reality-defyingly blind about his own lack of tact and subtlety.
- Seven was daring and bold to the point that he casually walked between two men sword-fighting to the death, even tipping his hat as the two men stared at him in disbelief.
- Eight was prone to making non sequitur observations in the middle of serious conversations and could be ridiculously Literal-Minded.
- The War Doctor seized a weapon amidst the violence and mayhem of the Time War to write the words "No More" on a wall.
- Nine believed being a tourist meant doing all sorts of crazy stuff you can do, just for the hell of it, and had a habit of generally ignoring human customs.
- Ten would have random and over the top geeky fits over how wonderful humans are, sometimes randomly hugging them just for the hell of it.
- Eleven is obsessed with bow ties and fezzes, believing them to be fashionable, even after women have been willing to destroy the latter to prove otherwise. He'll also openly refer to himself as a madman.
- Twelve treats people more like interesting research subjects than like sentient beings, and flirts with a giant T-Rex (then denies that it was flirting).
- Cool Old Guy: Strictly speaking, all of them are chronologically, but some regenerations don't even resemble the part. However, some of the younger looking regenerations like Eleven do embrace the concept.
- Courtroom Antic: Rather than face the indignity of hearing a guilty judgement during his mockery of a trial, the Fourth Doctor put himself up as a candidate for the Presidency. Six spent the bulk of his own trial heckling the prosecutor (the Valeyard), calling him Boneyard/Backyard/Barnyard/Knacker's Yard/etc.
- Deadpan Snarker: The degree of deadpan and the preferred delivery method of it may vary, but you don't have to scratch any of the Doctors too hard to find the Grade A Snark contained within.
- Death by Origin Story: Technically the regeneration of one Doctor into another is this, since the previous Doctor has to die for the new one to be born.
- Death Is Dramatic: Regeneration episodes themselves tend to be very melancholy in nature; see "Planet of the Spiders", "Logopolis", "Caves of Androzani", "Night of the Doctor", "The Parting of the Ways", "The End of Time" and "The Time of the Doctor".
- Defector from Decadence: The circumstances behind him leaving Gallifrey (other than a desire to see the world) are unclear, but he was always critical of the stagnation of Time Lord society.
- Deus ex Machina: When you think about it from the perspective of a lot of the characters who only show up in one story, the Doctor himself is a Deus ex Machina. Think about it, these people are in the middle of a dangerous crisis, or in the early stages of one, and then out of nowhere, a strange blue box shows up. Then some guy and his companion(s) walk out and solve the whole damn problem.
- Subverted in "Midnight". Those guys thought he was the cause of it.
- Dissonant Serenity / Tranquil Fury: When sufficiently angered, the Doctor is quite capable of raining fire down on his enemies with a look of utmost calm.
- Distressed Dude: He gets tied up, handcuffed and so on almost as often as the companions, if not more.
- Doesn't Like Guns: No version of the Doctor has been exactly gun-happy, though some accepted them as a last resort (though rarely bullet-firing guns).
- One was seen with a gun once or twice, though he preferred to immediately give it back to whoever was trying to shove one into his hands. He did carry a gun during an adventure in the wild west (in the novelization he even shoots someone by accident), but that was more to be in character.
- Two has held and handled guns quite a few times during his run, sometimes using them as convenient yet empty threats. He didn't evince any obvious distaste for guns in general, but he never did actually fire one. He also built a heat ray and used it to great effect against Ice Warriors.
- Three would much rather karate chop a poor sucker than shoot him, though he did sometimes kill with a ray gun.
- Four would pick up a gun if the situation called for it, and rather enjoyed himself with the things. (His aim, however, left much to be desired.)
- Five actually blew away a couple of enemies with a ray gun, though only if there was no other option left.
- Subverted by Six, who was more willing to pick up a gun than the others would a Sonic Screwdriver. The best example of this is in "Attack Of The Cybermen" (again, though, it was a laser gun, not a bullet gun). Six generally wasn't averse to murder.
- Seven would never use a gun himself, but didn't mind when others used similar weapons like rocket launchers or ballistic explosives if the situation demanded it.
- Eight used a gun several times. In his one televised adventure, he stole one from a police officer and used it to hold himself hostage (a rare occasion where a bullet-firing gun was used). Other times, he simply refuses to acknowledge them as guns, because "I don't use guns."
- Subverted by the War Doctor, who was a warrior and soldier by nature, although the only moments we see him fire a gun on-screen are when he is using one to write the words "No More" on a wall, and when he blasts a Dalek who sees this writing.
- Nine held a gun twice: whether he would actually have shot is debatable. Then again, he also switched Jack Harkness' gun for a banana at one point. He also demanded information at gunpoint and, when his victim protested, said "I'm not gonna shoot you," and gave him the gun. Then continued demanding information, which the victim gave him.
- As far as Ten was concerned: Swords, explosives, pet robots with lasers, flooding rivers, taping over electronic villains, erupting volcanoes, electrocution through a piece of the TARDIS, Fates Worse Than Death, throwing entire planets into black holes, fatally accurate satsumas and death by church organ? Perfectly legitimate methods of combat. Guns? NEVER. When his cloned daughter appeared to have been shot to death, he picked up the gun that did it and appeared to be about to blow away the man who fired, but said he never could. However, Ten did pick up a gun on his last day, when he realized that the Time Lords were returning. And he pointed it at Rassilon. He ended up firing the gun, though not at a person.
- Eleven admits that he still "has a thing" against guns, but isn't quite as obsessed with avoiding them if using one can save lives. Early on, he used a gun to activate an anti-gravity thingy when being chased by Weeping Angels. He also admits that he likes using River as a back-up gun wielder, since she doesn't share his hangups, and he realizes full well how hypocritical that is. When his Berserk Button gets pushed hard enough, he can go into a violent rage and become very willing to point a gun at someone's head — a fact that genuinely terrifies him.
- Twelve has yet to encounter such a weapon (as of "Robot of Sherwood"), however his opinion of them is made clear when he tells a group of soldiers they don't have to be liked because they have the guns.
- Doom It Yourself: The TARDIS does actually have a manual, but the Doctor rarely bothers to follow it. The Sixth Doctor dismisses its instructions even when it could save his life, while Eleven later claims to have thrown it into a supernova after it disagreed with him one time too many.
- Doom Magnet: It's actually a cross between being this... and a dedicated follower of Doom care of the TARDIS plonking him neck deep in it. Either way: he arrives; trouble happens; trouble unhappens; he leaves. And leaves an impression that often closely resembles a crater in the process of being built on or flattened out.
- The Dreaded: As the series progressed, it has became the norm that any villain who recognizes who this strange individual calling himself "Doctor" is immediately browns their trousers. A number of times the Doctor himself calls attention to his identity for that effect.
- This effect seems to be especially prevalent with the Daleks, who are supposed to be physically incapable of feeling any emotion, fear included. To put things into perspective: There are Daleks deemed — by their own race of emotionless genocide fetishists — too insane to control; they're too awesomely hateful to kill, so they're put into an asylum. Then there are a few Daleks deemed too insane to share a room with those Daleks; they're put into an intensive care room. They are the few who survived a fight with the Doctor.
- Both Ten and Eleven weaponised the word "Run", and were able to turn entire armies around at the very mention of their name. This status comes back to bite Eleven hard in Series 6, where it's revealed that in the Gamma Forest, "Doctor" does not mean "Helper of the weak and sick" like on Earth, but "Warrior", due to his sheer badassery. The Doctor does not think this is a good thing, and the whole affair inspires him to wipe his "dreaded" status from the universe and start over again without all the baggage of being a known quantity feared and exalted in equal measure.
- The War Doctor. He comments on both the Tenth and Eleventh Doctors looking at him with nothing less than "utter dread".
- Drives Like Crazy: In River Song's second appearance, she teases that he deliberately shuts off the TARDIS's stabilizers and drives with the parking brake on. Word of Moffat has it that she was just joking, though.
- Four once managed to land just in time for a cliff to explode on top of him and his companion. Peri at one point complains that Six caused three electrical fires and a power failure, nearly collided with a storm of asteroids, got lost in the TARDIS corridors twice, wiped the memory banks of the flight computer, jettisoned three quarters of the storage hold and burned her cold dinner. Ten outright admits he failed the TARDIS driving test. (You can tell.)
- However, the TARDIS is meant to have six pilots, which explains why he's always running round the console and fiddling with seemingly random parts. When we do see six people piloting the TARDIS at once, they're able to do it smoothly without any prior training.
- In addition to the lack of pilots, it doesn't particularly help that the Doctor refuses to follow the instruction manual either.
- It has been confirmed (by the TARDIS herself) in the revival that many of the times the TARDIS made an unexpected stop or landed at the wrong time and place are due to the TARDIS itself taking the Doctor to where he needs to be.
- Dying Alone: The Seventh, Eighth, War and Tenth Doctors all regenerated alone (though given that the last two were in the TARDIS, they don't count as a full example).
- Eccentric Mentor: To many of his companions.
- Era-Specific Personality: The Doctor changes personalities in every regeneration.
- Eternal Hero: He's always there to save the day, anywhere and anywhen he is needed.
- Though sometimes he isn't, a fact explicitly pointed out in the former incident.
- Expy: When the show began, the Doctor hovered somewhere between Anti-Hero and Anti-Villain, and Steven Moffat described the first Doctor as a senile old man. At some point, the first story editor David Whitaker realized that since he had to carry the show, he needed to be more of a cut and dried hero. Who did they turn to? Sherlock Holmes. It becomes clear with Moffat penning versions of Doctor Who and Sherlock, since both come across as Insufferable Geniuses who both tend to say "Shut up, I'm thinking." Companions in general tend to fit the Watson role pretty well.
- Famed in Story: Erratically, since he tends to hop around space and time and is not actually universally known — but happens on many occasions.
- It's later been revealed that countless races across the universe do get the word "Doctor" intrinsically ingrained in their languages due to him, denoting either a "Healer" or "Great Warrior".
- By "Dinosaurs on a Spaceship" and "The Angels Take Manhattan", the Doctor has taken to removing all traces of his identity.
- Fan of the Past: The Doctor is rather fond of Earth history.
- The Fettered: Despite being a self-proclaimed "madman with a box" who thinks keep-out-signs are for other people, he is very much this. Bad things happen when he starts breaking his personal rules.
"Good men don't need rules. Now is not the time to find out why I have so many."
- Figure It Out Yourself: He invokes the "changing the future" excuse.
- Flanderization: Every incarnation of the Doctor has gone through this to one extent or another, where certain quirks and personality traits seem to become more magnified the longer any one actor stays in the role.
- However sometimes they go through reverse Flanderization. The First Doctor became less stubborn and bad-tempered, and Six mellows out in Season 23, and more in Big Finish.
- Foregone Conclusion: As revealed in "The Name of The Doctor", the ultimate fate of the Doctor is to die defeating an army at the battle at Trenzalore and have his remains entombed within the TARDIS. The Eleventh Doctor has apparently been aware of this for some time and refers to it as the one place he must never go.
Clara: How can you have a grave?
Doctor: Because we all do, somewhere out there in the future, waiting for us.
- Screw Destiny: Although the Tenth Doctor invokes this in "The Day of the Doctor", suggesting to Eleven that they could always try to change history to prevent their death at Trenzalore. Whilst Eleven is dying of extreme old age in "Time of the Doctor", the Time Lords use the cracks in the universe to grant him a new regeneration cycle and change his future.
- Foil: Each Doctor is a subversion of the previous one, but it's at its fullest extent with the War Doctor. Whereas his predecessors and successors are all technical pacifists with varying degrees of egotism, chessmasterness, etc., the War Doctor is a warrior with countless deaths on his hands, and is the most humble of his selves. It's most evident when he meets his future incarnations in "The Day of the Doctor": Ten and Eleven are cheerful man children with deep-rooted dark sides, while the War Doctor is dark on the outside, very mature and war-worn, with his good heart buried deep within himself. It is as if he was a yin-yang inverse of himself.
- The Third Doctor was exiled to Earth, so the Fourth Doctor contrasted this with always being unable to sit still or take orders from authority.
- The Tenth Doctor was genuinely cool, while Eleven only liked to think he was.
- Friendless Background: More than once, and more so in the newer series, it's been mentioned that the Doctor had a very lonely childhood, with one mention of him often being left out by other Gallifreyan children. In fact, about the only friend of his we know of is The Master.
- Future Me Scares Me/I Hate Past Me: Tends to come up whenever interacting with his past or future incarnations.
- The Three Doctors started this trend with having Two and Three often squabbling amongst themselves, with One occasionally reigning them in and telling to them to focus on the task.
- In relation to the point above, when it comes to in-fighting between incarnations, One has always been the exception, especially in the expanded universe. All of his successors who have interacted with him have always seen him as a voice of reason, treated him with immense respect, and have always followed his advice.
- Taken to its extreme with the War Doctor, whom the Ninth, Tenth and Eleventh refused to admit even existed. The War Doctor, for his part, wasn't exactly impressed with Ten and Eleven either (at first).
- Genius Sweet Tooth: Four loved Jelly Babies; Eleven preferred Jammie Dodgers.
- Gentleman Adventurer: Even once he starts to think of fighting the bad guys as a job, his main objective has always been to see as much of the universe as he can.
- A God Am I: An immortal, omniscient alien with a time machine? ....Just get down on your knees and pray that he's never, ever in this mood around you.
- A God I Am Not: His usual mode. He usually doesn't expect people to recognise him, let alone view him as a hero or (horrors!) see him as a being of nigh-invincible power; he's just someone who happened to be passing by who could and did help.
Ninth Doctor: Don't worship me, I'd make a very bad god. Wouldn't get a day off for starters.
- Go-to Alias: "John Smith", as well as several non-English variations on the word "who". The First Doctor once introduced himself as Dr. Caligari and the Tenth Doctor used former companion Jamie McCrimmon's name while pretending to be Scottish.
- Good Is Not Nice: He’s marvelously rude to practically everybody he meets (even those on his side), and the only people he shows genuine affection for are children and his companions.
- Guile Hero: Almost every incarnation of the Doctor prefers to use brains over brawn.
- Headbutting Heroes: With UNIT, people who use guns and even with himself on occasion.
- The Hero: Only lacking trait is that he's not the Jack of All Stats.
- Heroes Love Dogs: Tin ones, in particular. Ten and Eleven still have nostalgia for K-9 and other robot dogs.
- Human Aliens: Though Ten and Eleven have argued humans are Time Lord aliens.
Amy: You look human.
Eleven: No; you look Time Lord. We were first.
- Human Outside, Alien Inside: Despite looking human (or the reverse, whichever), the Doctor and his race are completely different down to an anatomical and biochemical level. Just detecting his two hearts is enough to convince most human(oid)s of what he is.
- Humble Hero: He's not modest, but he's essentially humble - might seem odd, but it's true. Though he shows pride over his own brilliance and abilities, he doesn't consider himself special, he'd just as soon leave any credit for what he does to someone else, is very aware the universe doesn't revolve around him and doesn't think it should, has dismissed any offers of power to him with some variation on "I wouldn't be very good at it", and can't seem to see that he's powerful enough that whole races devoted to the subjugation of the universe have banded together to try to destroy him.
- Iconic Item: The Sonic Screwdriver and the TARDIS, of course. From 2005, the psychic paper.
- I Meant to Do That: Some things just never change, and every Doctor pretends he has piloted the TARDIS exactly where he intended even if he's way off-course.
- Immortal Immaturity: There's no point in being grown-up if you can't be childish sometimes.
- Immortality Hurts: It would seem that regeneration never gets any less painful or disorienting. Each one is a miniature "death", of sorts, as the Doctor's brain is rewired with a new personality.
- Indy Ploy: Combines with Xanatos Speed Chess.
- Inexplicably Awesome: The Doctor is, quite frankly, oddball even for a Time Lord.
- In Harm's Way: Nothing keeps the Doctor from adventure.
- In the Blood: The Doctor's character flaws - pride, arrogance, self-absorption, and inclination to think himself superior to others - are all traits that can be found in every Time Lord from Romana to the Meddling Monk.
- The Insomniac: As has been established since the early days of the series, the Doctor needs very little sleep. The mini-episodes "Night And The Doctor" offer a glimpse into the things he gets up to when his companions are asleep.
- Jumped at the Call: He didn't just jump, he stole a TARDIS and went looking for it. Or did she steal him?
- Kindhearted Cat Lover: A few incarnations of the Doctor have shown a fondness for cats, particularly Six, Nine, and Ten (though Ten was initially wary of them).
Ten: No, I'm not really a cat person. Once you've been threatened by one in a nun's wimple, kind of takes the joy out of it.
- Klingons Love Shakespeare: The Doctor loves a Spot of Tea and (depending on the incarnation) sweets like jelly babies or jammy dodgers.
- Knight Errant: In theory the Doctor is just a traveler, usually not actively looking for wrongs to right. But he pretty much expects to find people to help wherever he goes and embraces the role of hero. There's usually a fair amount of damsel-rescuing too, considering one of the chief roles of companion is 'get into trouble'.
- Knight In Sour Armour: So far, the only Doctor who's been consistently genuinely happy with being the dashing hero was Eight, and that's only because we saw a grand total of one adventure.
- Large Ham: Comes with the World of Ham the series is set in. All Doctors are hammy in their own way, some considerably more than others.
- The Last DJ / Rebellious Rebel: In the Classic Series, he was often this to the rest of the Time Lords.
- Like an Old Married Couple: With the TARDIS. Because they totally are. And with other regenerations of himself: very few of them actually get along, and Two and Three in particular spend every moment bickering.
- Limited Wardrobe: The first four Doctors, as well as the Seventh, usually based their outfits around variations on a theme, though the Fifth and Sixth Doctors played the trope straight with completely unchanging apparel. The Eighth Doctor only had one adventure, so the wardrobe was limited to that story. (He's moved on to more modern clothing as of late 2012 in Big Finish.) The Ninth, Tenth and Eleventh Doctors return to the original method, with certain items (the leather jacket, trainers, and tweed jacket with bowtie respectively) typically remaining in place.
- As a side-note, the Fifth and Sixth Doctors did get to change their outfits once or twice during their run for an episode or two. For the Fifth, it was disguises and costuming. The Sixth had variations, including a light vest that almost didn't melt one's eyes. Still, their wardrobes mostly went unchanged during their tenure.
- The colour of the Eleventh Doctor's bowtie in series 5 changed depending if the story is set in the present or past (blue), or if it's in the future (red). Series six saw the blue change to a pair of custom ties, and once Clara came along we got a number of ties usually in purples. His braces/suspenders usually match his bowtie, as well.
- Due to cold weather while shooting episodes, Eleven ended up wearing a much longer and heavier jacket for a few episodes.
- After changing companions Eleven swapped out the tweed jacket for a purple frock coat, and waist coat.
- Nine did make some very very very minor efforts to blend in but you'd not really notice.
- Ironically, the TARDIS has an absolutely huge wardrobe. Of course, the Doctor can be very slow to pick up hints he particularly doesn't want to get, so if this is one of her hints about his taste in fashion, he's probably ignoring it like the notice on the door.
- Living Forever Is Awesome: The classic Doctors very much enjoy their incredibly long life span. One, for instance, stole the TARDIS because he wanted to see everything and knew he would have the time to do so. (In Two's last serial and periodically since, it's implied he was running away from something very bad.) Then the Last Great Time War happened: The Doctor was never the same again and this trope became part of a Stepford Smiler mask.
- Loss of Identity: Every regeneration must deal with this and discover his new persona. How much it affects him seems to vary: the Seventh Doctor called it a "purely perceptual" change, while the Third and Tenth considered it death. It also tends to vary depending on which side of the regeneration he is; the Third and Tenth Doctors expressed these sentiments just before regenerating, while the Seventh expressed his sentiment after.
- Mad Scientist: Any time the Doctor starts tinkering or building gadgets, he veers into this territory.
- Magnetic Hero: Everything gravitates towards him.
- Master of Unlocking: And locking, at that, thanks to the sonic screwdriver.
- Mr. Exposition: Since he typically knows more than anyone else does.
- Mr. Fixit: Even once jokingly called himself "the maintenance man of the universe".
- Mr. Smith: Almost every time the Doctor needs a name, he simply uses the bland pseudonym "John Smith." This is even his official legal name during his time stranded on Earth working for U. N. I. T.
- Mysterious Past: The franchise has been around for fifty years and we still do not know the Doctor's real name or why he no longer uses it.
- We didn't learn the name of the Doctor's species until the end of Patrick Troughton's run and we didn't learn the name of his home planet until Jon Pertwee took the reins.
- We know he once had a family and even children, but "lost them long ago". Given how we never get any indication that (apart from Susan) they're still alive even before the Time War, it's possible this was one of the reasons the First Doctor so readily Jumped at the Call.
- Names to Run Away From Really Fast: "Doctor" doesn't always mean "healer" anymore in cultures he's visited.
- Never Accepted In His Home Town: The Doctor has never gotten on particularly well with most of his fellow Time Lords. Even though he's saved Gallifrey multiple times, the High Council tends to view him as an embarrassment. The Time War only made their relationship worse.
- The Nicknamer: Several incarnations are known for this, from the First Doctor's intentional mangling of Ian Chesterton's name, to the Twelfth Doctor referring to Danny Pink as "P.E." (initially with contempt, but finally with affection).
- Ninja Pirate Zombie Robot: The Doctor is a psychic alien time-traveling slider.
- No Name Given/Everyone Calls Him Barkeep: The Doctor does have a name, but it's never been revealed.
: Silence will fall when the Question is answered. Dorium
: Silence must
fall when the Question is answered. Doctor
: What is the Question? Dorium
: The first question! The question that must never be answered, hidden in plain sight. The question you've been running from all your life! Doctor who? Doctor who? Doc! Tor! WHO!
- Noodle Incident: His final break from Gallifrey, though it apparently involved boosting the Hand of Omega before he left. We know the origins behind the other renegades: The Master went off his nut, and the Rani's mutant mice attacked the President.
—?? Oh, I say. Weren't you
expelled or something? Some scandal? Fourth Doctor:
Oh, it's all been forgotten about now
, old boy. Runcible:
Oh, really? Well, where've you been
all these years? Fourth Doctor:
Oh, here and there, 'round and about.
- Not So Different: He cut ties with his fellow Time Lords because he found them prideful, self-absorbed and arrogant, and yet no matter the incarnation he still possesses the same negative personality traits.
- Not That Kind of Doctor: Initially. He says this almost word for word in one of the first episodes. Later in the classic series, the Rani, a fellow Time Lord and former classmate, mentions his qualifications in thermodynamics, indicating that he was initially a physicist, not a physician, but then he went traveling the Universe for centuries with the explicit purpose to learn and explore. By the New Series, this has made him an Omnidisciplinary Scientist, which includes the occasional bit of medical knowledge. Physics and Engineering are still his forte, though.
- In "The Moonbase", Two claims he got a doctorate under Joseph Lister in Glasgow in 1888, although Lister left Glasgow long before that.
- Obfuscating Stupidity/Obfuscating Insanity: He can go from a Cloud Cuckoo Lander to an Anti-Hero in the snap of a finger.
- Obi-Wan Moment:
- "A tear, Sarah-Jane? No, don't cry. While there's life, there's..."
- The Fourth Doctor smiled weakly at his companions huddled around him, then gestured to his guardian angel, The Watcher.
- The Ninth briefly held off his Regeneration so he could comfort Rose and prepare her for what's going to happen to him.
- The Tenth Doctor willingly surrendered his life to save Donna's grandfather's, despite the old man's pleas. "Wilfred, it's my honour."
- Eleven's send-off was a pithy farewell to both Clara and the fans as well. "I will always remember when the Doctor was me."
- Oblivious To Hints: Trying to list all the Companions (and others) he's driven up the wall doing this to would take a while... How much is deliberate, or just him being scatter-brained, is debatable and, probably, changeable — even within an incarnation. The TARDIS is also not always impressed, if her complaint about the door is any indication. There is only one that didn't manage to pull this out where we could see it: the War Doctor. But that probably had more to do with not getting the chance to than not being capable of it. The general template is as follows:
Whoever:"...Which is why I basically asked you not to do that!"
The Doctor: "Really?! Well, you should have said so sooner."
Whoever: <disbelief response tailored to character goes here>
- Omnidisciplinary Scientist: And quite justified too.
- Just a sampling of the disciplines he has shown proficiency in: biology, anatomy, astrology, astrophysics, paleontology, paleoanthropology, recreational mathematics.
- Judging by statements from old classmates, his original degree/doctorate seems to have been in (astro?)physics and/or engineering (the Rani mentions qualifications in "thermodynamics", the Master "cosmic science"), but he's had a whole lot of time to acquire insane amounts of knowledge, and the curiosity to match.
- Omniglot: He even speaks baby.
- ...and horse. And dinosaur.
- This is notably a skill he developed gradually over the series - he didn't speak French during his exile, and picked up the more 'exotic' things like "baby" in the quadruple digits.
- One Myth to Explain Them All: The show posits that hundreds upon hundreds of myths are based on him and his adventures.
River Song: I hate good wizards in fairy tales; they always turn out to be him.
- Subverted in that example when it turns out that he's actually the "nameless, terrible thing", soaked in the blood of a billion galaxies. Ouch.
- The Doctor also encounters several such creatures and enemies.
- Papa Wolf: Towards both his companions individually and the entire human race.
- Patrick Stewart Speech: The Doctor has waffled on his opinion of earthlings over the years. Thankfully, he can safety be called a humanist. This is in reaction to the many craven adversaries who represent the triumph of an elite over the weak. The Doctor holds that even the most ordinary person is unique and worth preserving.
- Percussive Maintenance: When something goes wrong with the TARDIS' flight — hitting, kicking, he's even got a special mallet. When Adric tried to "think like the Doctor" to solve a flight problem, his solution was to smack the console. It worked.
- Pride: An ego of awesome - and very frequently justified - proportions.
- Deconstructed on many occasions like Midnight or the Harriet Jones debacle.
- Every Doctor feels the need to be the one in charge and give orders, not take them.
- Psychic Powers: The Doctor has some degree of psychic ability, though the details are fuzzy and mostly left up to the writers.
- What we've seen so far is touch-telepathy requiring he put his hands on either side of a person's head. Sometimes he also puts his forehead against their foreheads. And in the case of the latter, sometimes he does it really hard.
- Plus, the Doctors are able to mind-meld with each other through "Contact!" (and, when necessary, with others via head-butt).
- Historically, his telepathic mojo has seen the most use when dealing with other Time Lords or other Sufficiently Advanced Aliens. He seems to have only recently become adept enough to mind-meld with ordinary humans and the like. When encountering time-displaced versions of himself, he can do a mind meld without physical contact.
- Pungeon Master: Sad, but true: give any Doctor an excuse, and they'll find a pun to abuse. Some more than others. For the worst offenders, you need One, Four and Eight. But any of the others are also more than capable of knocking you over the head with a blunt verbal instrument alongside more subtle wordplay. While looking awfully smug about it, to boot.
- Really 700 Years Old: He claims to be 1200 as of "The Day of the Doctor", and according to the ebook Tales of Trenzalore, the Eleventh Doctor spent over 900 years on Trenzalore during the events of "The Time of the Doctor". While various contradictory dates have been given in both the classic and revived series, Word of God is that he's pretty much forgotten his true age and by his Ninth and Tenth incarnations, simply began ticking numbers off from 900. What matters is that he's old, very old.
- By the time of his thirteenth regeneration, he's bumped all the way up to two thousand years old.
- The First Doctor was 450 or thereabouts when he regenerated, the Fourth was 748 when he first started running, the Fifth was exactly 813 when he started, the Sixth was exactly 900, and the Seventh was 953 when he first appeared (The same age as the Rani). Of course, the Doctor started losing track of how old he was way back in his Fourth incarnation.
- Refuge in Audacity: The Second, Fourth, Tenth and Eleventh frequently indulge in this.
- Robo Ship: Companions come and go, but the Doctor and the TARDIS love each other eternally. Pretty much confirmed in-universe as of "The Doctor's Wife", in which they get to share a Big Damn Kiss and a tremendously sweet Anguished Declaration of Love. "The Name Of The Doctor" reveals that after they die, she becomes his tomb.
- Rummage Sale Reject: Even the ones in suits succumb to this.
- Science Hero: The Doctors often use their scientific knowledge to save the day.
- Seen It All: By his Eleventh incarnation. An extended scene from "Flesh and Stone" has him claim that he's probably been to every star in the universe twice and the reason he needs to travel with companions is because of their wide-eyed reaction to the wonders of the universe, which he's begun to stop noticing.
- Self-Made Orphan: It's pretty likely that he killed his parents at the end of the Last Great Time War, although we don't really know whether or not his parents were still alive when he wiped out the Time Lords. Word of God from Russell T. Davies is of the opinion he killed his mother when he ended the Time War. Given that dialogue in The End of Time reveals Time Lords were being killed and resurrected repeatedly during the War, this may be viewed as something of a release.
- Shrouded in Myth: Good wizards in fairy tales tend to turn out to be him. At the very least, he's confirmed to have been - well, will end up being - Merlin.
- Smart People Play Chess: The Time Lords invented the game (as seen with the Game of Rassilon), and Four and Eleven in particular have a fondness for playing chess.
- Smug Super: Not as bad as some cases, but not exactly quiet about his brilliance, either.
- Sniff Sniff Nom: The Doctor tends to lick things to analyse them; though most seen with 10 and 11, he's occasionally done this as far back as 2.
- Spanner in the Works: This Rummage Sale Reject has turned up while you have an intricate and very delicate plan in play? All bets are now officially off...
- Spell My Name with a "The": It would seem that Time Lords who are on the outs with Gallifrey — renegades, as it were — have lost their names along with their home. Other examples include the Master (of course), the Rani, and the mentioned-but-not-seen Corsair.
- Super Senses: All Time Lord senses are supposedly vastly superior to human senses; in practice, though, this is largely plot-driven.
- Super Strength: Occasionally he does things like punch through a stone wall or break a rock with his bare hands or something to remind you of this, though there's rarely dialogue devoted to it. The Eighth Doctor even managed (after several punches) to knock a steel door off of its hinges immediately following his regeneration, and the Eleventh managed to survive being hit by a Dalek laser.
- Symbol Motif Clothing: The Doctor began wearing question marks when John Nathan-Turner took over as showrunner. It started with Five's and Six's collars, as well as Six's suspenders, and culminated in a pullover vest and umbrella for Seven.
- When Four regenerates and Five is taking off Four's attire, particularly unraveling the massive scarf, you can see question marks on his collar, too.
- Technical Pacifist: The Doctor really puts the "Technical" in Technical Pacifist. Although he has used firearms on occasions, for the most part he is just very good at engineering situations which result in the destruction of his current adversary (sometimes on a genocidal scale) if they fail to heed his warnings. He also sometimes outsources violence and killing to companions who don't share his hangups, notably Leela, Jack and River.
- Too Dumb to Live: Every so often, the Doctor's pacifism sends him into this territory. While his desire to avoid death is understandable, any time he tries to save long-time enemies such as the Daleks and Cybermen just make people want to slap him. He himself admits that they are bred to do nothing but hate and kill, yet he keeps walking up to them and yelling "Let me save you!", often while they're pointing a gun, laser, etc. at his head, usually risking himself, his companion, and the world in the process.
- Once, when the Doctor was carrying out the typical "go towards something you should probably be going away from" version, River Song tells one of her crew to go with him and "pull him out when he's too stupid to live."
- Trickster Archetype: Manifested one way or another in every incarnation.
- Underestimating Badassery: Consistently the recipient of this. Very often his enemies blunder into his path and completely fail to understand what he's capable of. This even applies to enemies who've encountered him before and know what he's capable of, but still don't think he can stop them. Only the Daleks seem to have the good sense to be afraid of him.
- Unperson: The Eleventh attempted to remove all traces of himself from history after getting "too big for the universe". However, according to River, all that has done is leave a big "Doctor-shaped hole" in history that makes his existence obvious to anyone looking close enough.
- He fully tried this on the War Doctor, to the point Clara only found out about him after entering the Doctor's timestream.
- Walking Disaster Area: Goes for most Doctors, but Five in particular was out to set some kind of record.
- Walking the Earth: Neil Gaiman toyed with providing an origin for the Doctor in 'The Doctor's Wife'. Moffat turned down the idea, explaining the Time Lord does what he does "for reasons too vast and terrible to relate."
- We Do the Impossible: The Doctor flies in a time machine that can go anywhere and anywhen in the universe, has saved the Earth more times than he can count, saved the universe and all of reality itself repeatedly. He defeats intergalactic races of pure evil on a daily basis, thinks crippling dictatorships is a rather average outing, and can do all of this with a kettle, a piece of string, and a screwdriver.
Ah, the security protocols are still live. There's no way to override them; it's impossible! River Song:
How impossible? The Doctor: Two minutes
- Who Wants to Live Forever?: By the Tenth and Eleventh incarnations, it's not so much his long life that he's disheartened by, but the fact that he knows that he's forced to watch as his companions grow old and eventually die, all while he remains looking exactly the same. As River Song lampshades, the Doctor doesn't like endings or having to say goodbye. Eleven has actually succeeded all too well at the above goal to "see everything" to the point that he "can't see it any more." This actually dates back to the Eighth Doctor — after crash-landing on the planet of Karn, he calls the flame of eternal life the "Flame of Utter Boredom."
- The Wonka: The Captain of a spaceship who gives strange orders and does strange things but usually tend to work.
- You Can't Go Home Again: The First Doctor and Susan fled from Gallifrey in a stolen TARDIS and ended up in exile. The Fourth eventually does return home, but has to flee again right away; the Fifth gets out very quickly for the same reasons as the Fourth; the Sixth is forcibly dragged back and vows to never set foot there again. By the time the Ninth Doctor appears, he's destroyed Gallifrey. However after The Day of the Doctor this seems subverted, but it's trapped in another universe which he apparently can't get to.
- You Talk Too Much: Apparently the difficult thing is to stop him from talking, a criticism which has been leveled at every Doctor at least once!
Other Incarnations of The Doctor
The Watcher was a future incarnation of the Doctor who helped the Fourth Doctor in "Logopolis" and played a part in his regeneration into the Fifth Doctor. For more information, see his entry on the "Other Supporting Cast" subpage
This incarnation of the Doctor is the main antagonist of "Trial of a Time Lord" and a formation of the evil and dark side of the Doctor. For more information, see his entry on the "Villains" subpage
The "Meta-Crisis" Tenth Doctor
When the Tenth Doctor was shot at the end of "The Stolen Earth"
, he used up a regeneration by putting the energy into his hand that was severed in "The Christmas Invasion"
. When Donna Noble later touched the hand by accident, the stored energy reacted with her DNA, creating what is essentially a half-human clone of the Doctor. The clone was sent to live with out its life with Rose in the alternate universe, albeit a human life with no regenerations. For more information, see his entry on the "Other Supporting Cast" subpage
The Dream Lord
The Dream Lord is the main antagonist of "Amy's Choice"
, and is eventually revealed to be, similar to the Valeyard, a personification of the Doctor's rarely-seen dark side and self-loathing. For more information, see his entry on the "Villains" subpage
First seen in "The Day of the Doctor"
, The Curator is heavily
implied to be a future form of the Doctor, having gone back and revisited some old faces. Specifically, Tom Baker's
. His entire appearance is a major spoiler for that episode, and as such his information was kept heavily under wraps until the release. For more information, see his entry on the "Other Supporting Cast" subpage