"When a doctor goes wrong he is the first of criminals. He has nerve and he has knowledge."
— Sherlock Holmes, "The Adventure of the Speckled Band"
A Deadly Doctor, simply put, is someone who fights or kills with a medical motif. He uses his medical knowledge to injure, torture or kill, and uses syringes, pills or surgical instruments
or medical techniques to achieve his goals. He may wear his labcoat into battle as a Badass Longcoat
Surely the ultimate example of the Morally Ambiguous Doctorate
. One reason for this is due to all his/her training: while having advanced knowledge on the human body can be used to save people, it also gives all the knowledge on how to injure and kill people with minimal effort by knowing all the body's weak points. Some more sympathetic examples equate to the medical version of a Well-Intentioned Extremist
, who may certainly have good (or at least sympathetic/understandable) intentions but ruthless medical ethics.
Unless, of course, he's good
. Which there is a fairly good chance of
, being able to heal as well as harm
Note that this trope is not
"Any doctor who is a good fighter." That would be Combat Medic
. Deadly Doctor refers specifically to doctors who apply their medical knowledge to their combat techniques.
A subtrope of Mad Doctor
. Compare Depraved Dentist
and Strapped to an Operating Table
for cases where medical skill is used as a weapon against a target who isn't in a position to fight back. Contrast Martial Medic
, a character who heals with knowledge they gained in the course of learning to injure people. While people do tend to die around him (not his fault, we assure you), The Doctor
is not one of these.
Not to be confused with a doctor who's just dangerously bad at his job; see Mad Doctor
, Back-Alley Doctor
and Meatgrinder Surgery
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- The Crime Doctor from The DCU.
- Not to mention Dr. Moon, who considers himself an artist when it comes to pain. He's also a self-taught medical genius who uses his incredible talent to cause suffering rather than heal.
- Even heroes with medical doctorates have been known to use their skills to incapacitate people.
- Ratchet, in the Transformers: Shattered Glass universe. Being in his care is more of a punishment than a treatment, as he tends to whimsically replace his patients' body parts with whatever he thinks would look better.
- Hush of the Batman comics evolves into this after he drops the guntoting. Scarecrow also counts, having been the head psychiatrist at Arkham.
- Dr. Mid-Nite from The DCU.
- Angeline Kutter, The Surgeon General who fought Daredevil.
- Golden Age superhero, and later member of the X-Men, Doctor Nemesis.
- The Mikado, a foe of The Question, was an emergency room physician who was disgusted by some of the deliberately inflicted injuries he saw in his ER. He donned a costume and used his medical expertise to inflict similar injuries on those responsible.
- Haku in the Naruto fanfic Hakumei. After apprenticing to a medic-nin for some years, his fighting style incorporates drugs and poisons, and while he doesn't like hurting people, he's ruthless when he has to be. His friends would say that he's the scariest member of their group.
- Winter War (a Bleach AU where Aizen won the war) has Ogidou, a former Fourth Division member who fights by reversing healing kidou. For example, one of his attacks reopens old wounds that have scarred over. The other members of La Résistance let him do it, but find it disturbing. Hinamori, who's part of the same small group of fighters, refuses to let him heal her, even though she acknowledges that he's competent.
- Though Dr. Watson is definitely a Martial Medic, he plays the Deadly Doctor trope frighteningly straight in the Deliver Us From Evil Series.
- "If your master's actions destroy him whom I regard as-as the best and wisest man I have ever known-make no mistake that I shall hunt down, to a man, everyone who played a part in his destruction."
- Elle Driver disguised herself as a nurse in Kill Bill in order to carry out a hit on The Bride with a poison syringe, only to have her mission canceled by Bill himself. Since Elle despises the Bride, she does not take it well.
- Repo! The Genetic Opera has the Repo Men, trained medical professionals who mostly do their deadly work with scalpels and bloodproof surgical gowns, and the Genterns, who, while they don't kill people nearly as often, can be pretty damn sinister.
- Ghostbusters: Egon Spengler states that Ivo Shandor, also the architect behind that building, was one of these.
- Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen features the Doctor, a tiny Decepticon surgeon charged with planting mind probes in victims.
- One fight in Sherlock Holmes had Doctor Watson say "I'm a doctor" to the guy he has in a choke hold. He also looks better at fighting than Holmes is.
- Mel Brooks' character in The Muppet Movie.
- Dr. Christian Szell in Marathon Man
- Dr. Albert Hirsch from The Bourne Series, responsible for creating and running of Treadstone/Blackbriar black ops projects where, via brainwashing, torture and behavioral conditioning they turned volunteers into tools ready to kill on command.
- Dr. Kaufman in Tomorrow Never Dies, a hitman who uses his forensic medicine expertise to cover his tracks.
- Main villain of The Dead Pit is an undead former surgeon of a mental hospital who with his zombies seeks out to remove everyones brains.
- Escape from L.A. gives us the Surgeon General, played by a wonderfully hammy Bruce Campbell.
- The eponymous Dr. Giggles uses typical doctor's equipment to kill his victims. This includes such things as syringes, an otoscope and a sphygmometer.
- Return To House On Haunted Hill has the ever-so-evil Dr. Vannacutt.
- The evil medical staff abduct people, kill them and steal their organs in The X-Files: I Want to Believe.
- The Stitch class of psychics in Push are nominally healers (and damn good ones at that). They can completely heal bones and the like by laying their hands on a person. However, they can easily use their medical powers to break bones and stir up a person's insides as well. God forbid a malevolent Stitch gets their hands on you...
- There aren't Water Knights in Codex Alera; normally they're just the medics. Now, they're latently empathic medics, so they actually get a significant good feeling from reducing the pain and misery in their presence, meaning they're unlikely to use their powers as a weapon. But, remember, most of your body is water. Are you afraid yet?
- Annie Wilkes in Stephen King's Misery.
- The nurse assassin from It.
- From the Star Wars Expanded Universe:
- Ton Phanan from the X-Wing series, who was a doctor before cybernetics ate his future and he became a pilot-medic. At one point he cuts a man's throat using a laser scalpel, and notes that anything in his medical kit can be weaponized.
Interrogating Colonel: "Did you surrender this weapon to our guards before coming before me?"
Phanan: "What weapon, sir?"
Interrogating Colonel: "The laser scalpel."
Phanan: "Not a weapon, sir. It's a tool of medicine. I wasn't asked to turn over my bandages, bacta treatments, disinfectant sprays, or tranquilizers either, but I can kill a man with any of them, under the right circumstances."
- And Mij Gilamar, from the Republic Commando Series. His medical knowledge is considerable, but add to that the fact that he's the very definition of a Combat Medic, fully trained as a Mandalorian soldier, and you've got someone who can just as easily put you together as take you apart. Though normally a very kind, and even somewhat charming man, when asked about why he wears the Mandalorian color of vengeance on his armor, he has this to say:
Gilamar: "I fell in love with a Mandalorian girl, married into the clans, and a hut'uun killed her. I know his name. I'll find him. And then I'll show him what it means to make a bad enemy of a Mandalorian with anatomical expertise and a scalpel."
- The Heralds of Valdemar series once states that the same Healers who can stop the pain and put you together also know how to take you apart, so it's unwise to anger them.
- In the Sherlock Holmes short story "A Study in Emerald" by Neil Gaiman, the Great Detective remarks, concerning his deduced perpetrator of a brutal murder, "[I]t is my experience that when a Doctor goes to the bad, he is a fouler and darker creature than the worst cut-throat." Of course, the reader is more likely to agree with Dr. Watson on the rightness of his actions, making this a subversion.
- This quote is inspired by the actual Sherlock Holmes calling a doctor "who goes wrong" the "first of criminals" in "The Adventure of the Speckled Band".
- In the original-canon story "The Adventure of the Dying Detective", the villain is an doctor who sends Holmes a package booby-trapped to infect him with a deadly disease. The trap fails, but Holmes lets him think it succeeded in order to lure him into gloating and admitting his guilt.
- "Dr. Danco", who slices and dices his victims, in Dearly Devoted Dexter.
- In "Melanie and Merrick", Nurse Katie Heller, who has Manchausen Syndrome by Proxy, uses her medical knowledge of medicines to kill off patients, sometimes even swapping their prescribed medicine with a deadly substance. Her ultimate plan to kill off the Elephant Man fails heavily, and her ass is kicked hard by the hospital's scrubber, Melanie Bell. Naturally, Katie is fired.
- In The Father Luke Wolfe Trilogy, Dr. Brandt scratches Father Wolfe's wrist with a nicotine-filled syringe as a "reminder" to give his son a passing grade. He also threatens that worse than nicotine would have been an empty syringe, since a bubble of air in the bloodstream can jolt the heart into stopping. It turns out this is how he murdered his colleague earlier.
- In Aaron Allston's Galatea in 2-D, Medea was designed for this. She both designs the poison to use on Red, and its antidote. And it is Roger, not Medea, who has scruples about it.
- In Time Scout, Jack the Ripper is a rather well known physician.
- Dr. Peter Brown, from Beat the Reaper. He used to be a hitman. Now he's in witness protection.
- In Doc Sidhe, Alastair explains that his world's equivalent of the Hippocratic Oath only applies to his patients — and the guys he shoots aren't patients until after he shoots them.
Live Action TV
- Star Trek:
- A Monster of the Week on Charmed is Doctor Williamson, and infectious disease specialist who had treated Piper when she was sick a few episodes earlier. He's a good guy, but when he accidentally injects himself with Piper's blood, he also gets her powers. Turns out mortal + powers = CRAZY. He goes on a killing spree and takes organs from people. Piper eventually has to kill him to stop him, which she finds very hard to do, as he is the first human she ever killed, and he tried to save her life.
- Dexter's first kill is of a homicidal nurse, who overdoses patients in her care that she considers to be in too much pain to keep living.
- For that matter, Dexter himself attended med-school before becoming a blood spatter analyst. This explains his surgical killing style and familiarity with anatomy and pharmacology.
- On Supernatural, one of the Monsters of the Week was a doctor who had managed to make himself immortal and was taking other people's organs when his gave out.
- More than one episode of Law & Order has featured doctors who killed patients deliberately (many more have featured doctors who killed by negligence).
- Friday the 13th: The Series featured two doctors who had cursed antiques (a scalpel and a Native American shamanic rattle) that could heal people... as long as they were first used to kill.
- An episode of Farscape, "DNA Mad Scientist" had a highly intelligent alien doctor who was always performing experiments on aliens to increase his powers.
- This trope makes up the plot of The X-Files episode "Sanguinarium".
- Evil doctors also make appearance in several Myth Arc episodes. They have no scruples about performing horrible experiments on people. Often it's blurred whether it's aliens or the conspiracy. Or it might be both.
- Subverted in Bakuryuu Sentai Abaranger. Dr. Yukito Sanjou/Abare Blue is a chiropractor who doesn't bring its expertise in battle, but when he actually does chiropracticing, it was extremely painful (though you'll feel better afterwards) that could make even battle-hardened veterans wince in pain. Then there's Dr. Mikoto Nakadai, who didn't quite bother bringing his medical expertise in battle or whatever, but considering his battle capabilities, and his motivation... he's deadly on his own.
- In the crossover with Ninpuu Sentai Hurricaneger, Yukito did use his chiropractor knowledge to crush the monster of the movie's bones... unmorphed. (it's just a clone though)
- CSI's Doctor Jekyll. He used surgical means to kill his victims, like the guy who got an infected appendix sewn into him.
- The Surgeon, a Serial Killer on Rizzoli & Isles.
- Highlander had a villain of the week who was a slightly mentally unstable doctor who got fixated on Duncan after he witnessed evidence of his immortality. He'd been kidnapping and experimenting on other patients before that as well.
- On American Horror Story: Asylum, it's revealed that Bloody Face's victims were killed with surgical precision. That's because Bloody Face is really Dr. Oliver Thredson. As a psychiatrist and licensed doctor, he would have had the surgical training necessary to commit his crimes.
- The Orks of Warhammer 40,000 have "Mad Doks" or "Painboyz" to keep the lads on their feet during battles, and who occasionally put their bonesaws and "'Urty Syringes" to offensive use (the latter is an actual piece of wargear that does poisoned attacks). Since the specialists in question are mad scientist-esque physicians with an instinctive (if imprecise) grasp of medicine and an urge to "tinker," they count as Deadly Doks off the battlefield, too.
- Eberron's House Jorasco focuses on healing (and, thanks to the power of their Dragonmark, has managed to severely cut down the temples' share of the magical healing market), meaning an adventuring Heir would have some aspects of this trope by default. The Jorasco prestige class added by the Dragonmarked sourcebook fits it even better, as it models a secret sect within Jorasco that turns their healing powers to the art of diseases (as in, causing them) and harm. Given that they have to be non-good, the best case scenario is an Anti-Hero.
- Surprisingly subverted by Yawgmoth in Magic: The Gathering. Despite being the Big Bad, he was a very skilled doctor and, even if his cure for phthisis wasn't seen well, it actually worked. Even when he started adding massive doses of Body Horror, his target was always to improve his patients, not to murder them.
- The Doctor career archetype in Hunter: The Vigil.
- The demonic Nurse Reficule the Fallen One in the (used by a nurse character in the anime, as mentioned above) is this. Her effect turns any effect that restores Life Points into one that causes Effect Damage. (Basically, she does exactly the opposite of what a nurse is supposed to do. Given the fact that she's a Fallen Angel, it's no surprise.)
- Injection Fairy Lily looks friendlier, but is no less deadly. If the player pays 2,000 Life Points during a battle, her Attack Score rises by 3,000 points, making her strong enough to defeat even a Blue-Eyes White Dragon.
- The Medic in Feng Shui can be one of these quite easily, though most tend toward the Combat Medic archetype.
- The Combat Medic in most class-based shooters such as Battlefield series, are given sufficient firepower to make sure they remain fun to play. In Bad Company 2, the medic class is the only one who gets machine guns.
- Meddy from Mega Man Battle Network 5 Team ProtoMan is a nurse who throws bombs shaped like pills.
- In Knights of the Old Republic, the Heal Force power is closely related to the Wound power. Every Jedi in both games can end up with both.
- The Medic in Team Fortress 2 can be pretty deadly with the bone saw if you can get close enough. Or his syringe gun.
- Various mercenaries in Jagged Alliance have medical diplomas and high medicine skill. They generally have lower marksmanship skill then professional soldiers, but have no restrictions against killing enemies. Many of them are expert melee combatants thanks to their familiarity with scalpels.
- Conversely, the Healer character class in NetHack, while having mostly magical healing abilities, begins with a scalpel as their melee weapon.
- But is also the best class available for pacifists.
- Speaking of which: all of the nurses in NetHack will try to kill you. Unless you remove all armor and weapons, in which case they will raise your maximum HP instead.
- Anesthesia/Dr. Cutter from Rumble Roses.
- Faust of Guilty Gear fame is a 9-foot-tall doctor who wields a scalpel as big as he is. Bonus points in that he actually heals people as well as kick ass, and kicks ass in order to stop people from getting hurt in the first place. Now that's what I call, aggressive vaccination.
- Doctor Baldhead from the first game was far less pleasant. After accidentally killing a patient, he went insane and became a serial killer, murdering under the delusion of healing. Then he met the ghost of his patient, and learned it wasn't his fault. He hid his face under a paper bag, became The Atoner, and that's where Faust came from. (It's confirmed at several points in the series's Story Modes.)
- Kyoko Minazuki from the Rival Schools series, who serves as a school nurse when she's not cracking skulls.
- Viewtiful Joe has nurse Elite Mooks with giant needles or scalpels.
- The demonic nurses in Silent Hill.
- The first game also had doctors.
- Super Smash Bros. Melee has Dr. Mario, who throws giant vitamin capsules as his standard special attack. One of his alternate costumes (the black one) is sometimes exaggerated as one of these in fanon.
- Dr. Schabbs, the Episode 2 Final Boss in Wolfenstein 3D. He wore a lab coat and was armed with a needle filled with the "poisonous corpsokinetic animation serum" he used to create his mutant zombie soldiers.
- Dr. Vahzilok from City of Heroes, who uses his modern scientific equipment to conduct strange, forbidden experiments... on himself as well as others.
- Plastic surgeon Dr. Steinman from BioShock. Bonus points for the fact that he thinks he's the Picasso of surgery because he's abandoned concepts like symmetry. The other splicer doctors in the game are also terrifying. They have spot-on voice acting, evoking hard-nosed medical authority raised to insanity. They have some ghastly good lines, too: "I hate the babies the most. They come out covered in death."
- Doctor Theolen Krastinov, The Butcher from World of Warcraft probably fits with his goggles and gloves. Of course, the medical implements he attacks you with are bloody meat cleavers.
- The Backstab Master in Arcanum is a doctor who fled the city after stabbing a man to death with a pen. Unsurprisingly, the training he gives you involves medical expertise on most vulnerable parts of human (elf, dwarf etc.) body. What he does after training you is likewise no surprise.
- Dr. Redmoor of Dementium: The Ward, who also has traces of Mad Scientist.
- In the Fallout games, there is a perk which gives you a bonus to medical skills, but also, due to your mastery of anatomy, raises your base damage.
- More of an example being your Father in Fallout 3: He just, on a whim, decides to escape a secure vault, cross the wasteland from one side to the other with no companions (a feat replicated only by your stupidly powerful character) and no armament except a hunting rifle. He then proceeds to enter and leave a super-mutant infested building (unwounded!) and then a mind-control simulation pod before he calmly sacrifices himself in an attempt to wipe out the leader of the Enclave assault on the Capital Wasteland. He is a Bad Ass doctor like no other.
- Mordin Solus from Mass Effect 2 averts the trope. He's an extremely skilled doctor as well as a complete Bad Ass, but he'd never kill anyone with medicine. Nonetheless, while people are thankful for his medicinal work, the fact that he takes lives as easily as he saves them utterly terrifies more than a few who know of him.
- Played with; the fact that he was part of the STG team that developed and deployed the second version of the genophage gnaws his conscience hard. He tries hard to justify his actions, but millions of unborn krogan children and the cultural and emotional heavy decay the krogan, as a race, suffer are a heavy burden to carry, as Maelon wisely points. And it's a major plot point on his character development.
"Many ways to help people. Sometimes cure patients. Sometimes execute dangerous individuals. Either way helps."
- Touhou's Eirin Yagokoro is often depicted as this by fans.
- A large amount of modern MMORPGs that have a healer class archetype will allow, to greater or lesser extent, the player to choose skills, stats and/or gear to make them more offensive than defensive. Whilst a viable tactic in most cases, there will always be fallout from the... "purists" who will insist that healers heal and that anyone not playing them straight is a Scrub and wasting the time of all concerned. Potentially the basis for realtime FlameWars.
- The Etrian Odyssey series' Medics can be powerful front-line fighters, the exact opposite of their intended role as fragile healers. This requires very deliberate skill-tree set ups but is surprisingly practical.
- In addition, both of the healing classes in Etrian Odyssey III, the Prince(ss) and the Monk, have fairly potent combat ability, especially the Monk, and especially once you unlock subclassing.
- The Doctor from Assassin's Creed: Brotherhood is Exactly What It Says on the Tin. As the official description puts it:
- Pretty much every game of Assassins Creed Multiplayer has at least one Deadly Doctor.
- League of Legends has three of these as optional skins for the ninjas: Nurse Akali, Surgeon Shen, and Kennen M.D.
- Defense Of The Ancients has Zharvakko, the Witch Doctor. While he's a very potent healer, his primary means of helping the team is using the same knowledge to conjure stunning projectiles and drastically amplify the damage dealt to enemies.
- Dazzle, the Shadow Priest's descriptions say that there are very few spells his order of healers designed to harm - and even then not kill, but disable the foe. He can still unleash a lot of harm by inverting their properties.
- Dr. Litchi Faye-Ling in BlazBlue is another aversion. She's a clear doctor and helps in healing people, but she never brings her medical knowledge in combat, and usually fights with telekinesis, chi control and martial arts... nor did she specifically target some body parts for medical damage.
- Hatoful Boyfriend has Dr. Iwamine Shuu, the school doctor at St. PigeoNation's School. He is so deadly that he may cut off your head, and possibly also study your insides most intimately once he's done with your pretty head.
- Skullgirls has Valentine, who fights with medical equipment such as bonesaws, syringes, IV stands, and more.
- You could consider Shadow Naoto from Persona 4 this. After all, she was going to medically change Naoto's gender. That said, she's also a bit of an aversion. She fights with the usual magic powers and technology, no real use of any sort of medical knowledge.
- Keith Courage In Alpha Zones has the enemy Dr. Sting, who flies through the air and throws syringes.
- Doc Mercy in Borderlands 2 is a twisted, psychotic bandit doctor. His powerful laser gun doesn't follow a medical motif, but he uses a hospital sign as a shield and throws grenades that hurt others while healing him. Somehow, unlike his good guy rival Dr. Zed, he actually has both a medical degree and a medical license.
- Very easy to be one of these in the surgery simulator Life And Death.
- Evil doctors are among the enemy types in Sword of the Stars: The Pit.
- Medic's Resonators in WildStar are useful for reconstructing and regenerating tissue and bone. They can also be super-charged to emit unsafe levels of radiation that can liquefy said tissue and bone. As Ish'mael the Bloodied said,
I used to scream "Medic!" with hope rather than terror. I may be a pirate but in some way I feel like I've lost my innocence.
- Bravely Default shows us a magical version of this: the first White Mage you fight (and steal the powers from) is a torture specialist who uses her healing powers to keep her torture victims alive long past the point where they would have died normally.
- One psychopath in Dead Rising 3 is a doctor who uses the zombie outbreaks as a way to harvest organs for a huge markup on the black market. Nick spends most of the fight drugged up from his injections and you have to turn them against him for the most damage. He also has one of the most disturbing deaths in the game.
- In The Adventures of Dr. McNinja, Dr. McNinja, who fights in medical garb (but does so with standard ninja weapons). Played straight only once, when he had to defend himself with nothing but his stethoscope. It's broadly hinted that, while he is strong and stealthy because he's a ninja, what really makes him dangerous is his intimate knowledge of human anatomy.
- Dr. Zexion of Ansem Retort. Granted he doesn't fight with a medical motif, but he is a heartless killer, so he counts.
- He may not fight with a medical motif, but he certainly kills (and injures, and maims, and mutates) with one. Case in point: Riku's liver. Firecracker. Surgical implantation.
- Dr. Murder murders people. 'Nuff said.
- Archipelago gives us Captain Snow, who once apparently practiced as a doctor. Morally questionable procedures cost him his license, and now, he uses his anatomical knowledge primarily for torture.
- The Law of Purple has Doctor Dross, a possibly sociopathic doctor with a Hitlerstache.
- Dr. Insano of The Spoony Experiment has a Morally Ambiguous Doctorate, but his (unseen) nurse and tendency to carry around a stethoscope might put him in this category.
- The Plague Doctor, also known as SCP-049, believes that he's ridding the world of a disease by killing people and turning them into zombies, known as SCP-049-2. What makes this even worse is that said disease isn't even a threat anymore.