[[quoteright:350:http://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/assassin_688.jpg]]
[[caption-width-right:350:Get that [[CrosshairAware triangle]] off the screen, pronto! What do you think this is, {{the Illuminati}}? At this rate, you'll give half the viewers triangle fever, triangle vision, or some other three-sided malady!]]
->''Through the millennia, the Time Lords of Gallifrey led a life of peace and ordered calm, protected against all threats from lesser civilisations by their great power. But this was to change. Suddenly and terribly, the Time Lords faced the most dangerous crisis in their long history...''
-->-- The OpeningNarration, as read by '''The Doctor'''

->''"Vaporisation without representation is against the constitution!"''
-->-- '''The Doctor''' protests his punishment

The one that pissed off Mary Whitehouse.

Another Creator/RobertHolmes serial and another classic. This serial is important in that it is the first to take place entirely on Gallifrey. In addition, ''many'' details of Time Lord society are [[WorldBuilding revealed]] for the first time: the 12 regeneration limit, the political system, the chapter houses (Prydonian, Arcalian, etc.), the swanky Time Lord regalia and their giant hats, the Sash and Key of Rassilon, the Eye of Harmony, and the Matrix. The story also introduced the Doctor's mentor Borusa and, perhaps most notably, mentioned Rassilon for the first time. Bernard Horsfall (last seen as the Time Lord who sentenced the Doctor to exile in [[Recap/DoctorWhoS6E7TheWarGames "The War Games"]]) returns as Chancellor Goth.[[note]]Though the casting wasn't entirely deliberate, there's nothing to indicate that it's not simply the same character, and the subtext is just too good to ignore, so the [[Franchise/DoctorWhoExpandedUniverse stories in other media]] take this and run with it[[/note]] And finally, the Master returns, played by Peter Pratt. Judging from the Master's atrocious complexion, he's seen far better days since the last time he appeared.

This story is also known for having no companions. Ultimately, this proved the companion's use as TheWatson, as it was hard to convey the Doctor's thoughts without someone for him to explain them to. The post-2005 stories with no regular companions tend to have a guest character filling the role temporarily, with the exception of "[[Recap/DoctorWhoS35E11HeavenSent Heaven Sent]]", where the Doctor spends the majority of the episode by himself, and can be seen a spiritual successor to this episode.

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Summoned to Gallifrey and with no companion at his side, the Doctor gets a surprise FlashForward when he sees himself assassinating the Lord President. He tries to stop it from happening: he sees someone else aiming to assassinate the Lord President, and picks up suspiciously-conveniently located gun to shoot the assassin. But the guns scope has been tampered, so he misses the assassin, the president is shot -- and the Doctor is the one seen holding a smoking gun. He is promptly arrested by Chancellor Goth.

However, it becomes apparent that this is a plot of the Master's -- having used up all his regenerations, the Doctor's EvilCounterpart managed to get into some kind of offscreen accident and can't regenerate into a new body any longer. He's reduced to a skeletal husk, [[ThePowerOfHate only kept alive through the power of his burning hatred]], his skin rotting off and causing him constant agony, and now he wants to get his hands on the Key and Sash of Rassilon: the Presidential regalia.

The Doctor escapes execution by virtue of LoopholeAbuse (to everyone's annoyance) and becomes a Presidential candidate, granting him immunity for a few days. He is able to demonstrate that the sights on the gun he was using were tampered with to a degree that would make it impossible to hit a target, convincing at least a few of the other time-lords of his innocence. The only other candidate is Chancellor Goth. The Doctor convinces a few sympathetic Time Lords to hook his brain up to the virtual reality of The Matrix (no, not [[Film/TheMatrix that one]]). The Matrix is a knowledge database, which is made up of the VirtualGhost brainwaves of dead Time Lords.

Inside the virtual reality of the Matrix, the Doctor fights a hallucinatory masked opponent who hunts him down with trains, planes, hypodermic needles, guns and poison. He loses about half his wardrobe in the process and gets all dirty and bloody, and when the mysterious hunter is revealed to be Chancellor Goth, the two end up mud-wrestling in a pond and ripping each other's clothing off. With that out of the way and Goth finally dead, the Doctor is brought back to reality, but the Master already has the regalia.

The Master begins opening the legendary Eye of Harmony, the core of a black hole, which was discovered by Rassilon during the foundation of Time Lord society. He's stopped by the Doctor and falls into a fissure. The Time Lords elect the Doctor as the new President, but he slips away and absconds, followed shortly afterwards by the Master, whom the Doctor believes to have died.

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!!Tropes:
* AgonyBeam: The Doctor is tortured to get him to confess with this.
* AmbitionIsEvil: The Master subverts his ally through appealing to his ambition.
* AsYouKnow: The Time Lords talk a lot about things they all should know, just so the viewers can understand.
* BatmanGrabsAGun: The Doctor grabs a gun trying to save the president.
* BattleInTheCenterOfTheMind: Goth and the Doctor's fight in the Matrix, though portrayed as a physical one, is really a contest of wills.
* BBCQuarry: The inside of Goth's mind, apparently.
* BloodierAndGorier: Goth shoots the Doctor twice, both with bloody results.
* BlowGun: Used by the Doctor agains the assassin.
* BodyHorror: The Master tried to regenerate beyond his regeneration limit. He has become a rotted walking corpse, in constant agonising pain, living only on willpower and hatred as his body continues to disintegrate.
* BondVillainStupidity: The Master could easily have killed both the Doctor and Spandrell, but instead merely stuns them so that they can witness his victory, perfectly in character.
* BookEnds: This story and [[Recap/DoctorWhoS6E7TheWarGames "The War Games"]] bookend the entire period where the Time Lords could interfere with the Doctor's life at will, executing him, exiling him and later sending him off as their errand boy whenever they felt like it. The Doctor even gets a rematch with the Time Lord who exiled him in the first place, a man who's done [[DealWithTheDevil a deal with the Master]] and become exactly the sort of dangerous renegade he accused the Doctor of being. From this point on, even when the Doctor does get involved in Gallifreyan politics, he's usually the one dictating terms.
* BrainwashedAndCrazy: As usual, the Master makes easy pawns of lesser minds. Goth seems to be working with him of his own volition, but later suggests he too was the victim of mental manipulation.
* ChalkOutline: The President. Complete with an outline of his hat.
* ChewingTheScenery / LargeHam: The Master, of course.
--->You '''craaaaaaven-'earted'''... SPINELESS... Poltroon!
* ChromosomeCasting: The only female character in the serial is the voice of a computer.
* ClothingDamage: Both the Doctor and Goth's clothes get ripped a lot in the Matrix.
* ConspicuouslyPublicAssassination: The Master does this to the President of Gallifrey, having first lured the Doctor into a position where he can take the fall for the assassination.
* DarkerAndEdgier: The dark echoes of the Kennedy assassination and the Red Scare, the more visceral than usual violence, several shocking cliffhangers, and the fact that Master is now a Film/HammerHorror monstrosity drew particular ire from MoralGuardians at the time.
* DepartmentOfRedundancyDepartment: The title, though varying definitions of whether regeneration constitutes "death" muddles this. According to the text commentary on the DVD, Robert Holmes argued that there are many incompetent assassins, so they wouldn't necessarily be deadly. It is at least an improvement on the working title of "The ''Dangerous'' Assassin".
* DramaticIrony: The Time Lord authorities make deductions from the Doctor's history that lead them to believe him far more knowledgeable than he actually is.
* ElderlyImmortal: The Master.
* EmptyElevator: The Doctor does this to fool the guards.
* EvilChancellor: Goth.
* EvilCripple: Since he can't regenerate, the Master has artificially extended his life and is just kind of... rotting.
* EvilIsPetty: The Doctor points out the Master's pettiness to him:
-->"You would delay an execution to pull the wings off a fly!"
* ExpospeakGag: Rather than describe the Doctor's change of body by the rather more lofty "regeneration", a fellow Time Lord refers to them as "face lifts".
* FakeUltimateHero: With his decision to put about the story that he died saving Gallifrey from the Master, Borusa makes Goth one of these.
* FakingTheDead
* FamilyUnfriendlyDeath: Runcible's impalement.
* ForgotAboutHisPowers: Goth dies rather than regenerating. The other characters who get killed might not have that ability (whether or not all Gallifreyans have the powers of Time Lords very much [[DependingOnTheWriter depends on the writer]]). Or stasers and the Master's TCE are able to kill someone even if they have regenerative powers.
* FunWithAcronyms: The Celestial Intervention Agency.
-->"I think he's ruthless and determined; a typical CIA agent."
* GoodCopBadCop: The Doctor says, "I see: the 'hot and cold' technique" after being interrogated.
* GothicHorror: A staple of Tom Baker's tenure. Though the plot is ''Literature/TheManchurianCandidate'', the atmosphere and visual borrows a lot from ThePhantomOfTheOpera and Film/HammerHorror.
* TheGuardsMustBeCrazy: Lampshaded by Spandrell's criticisms of Commander Hilred for allowing the Doctor to escape:
-->'''Spandrell:''' Well done, Hilred. An antiquated capsule, for which you get adequate early warning, transducts on the very steps of the Capitol. You are warned that the occupant is a known criminal, therefore you allow him to escape and conceal himself in a building a mere 53 stories high. A clever stratagem, Hildred. You're trying to confuse him, I take it?
* HeroTrackingFailure: Multiple times in the Matrix.
* HeroWithBadPublicity: Unfortunately, [[Recap/DoctorWhoS10E1TheThreeDoctors that Omega business]] was covered up, so the Doctor is known only as a disgraced exile apparently linked to a despised 'dirty tricks' agency.
* HuntingTheMostDangerousGame: Goth's pursuit of the Doctor in the Matrix has heavy shades of this.
* ImmortalityImmorality: The Master will do anything to gain more life, even if it means destroying Gallifrey and the Time Lords.
* ImprovisedWeapon: The Doctor fashions a blowgun out of a bamboo stalk, a thorn and an almost empty bottle of poison.
* InTheStyleOf: The DVD's "behind-the-scenes" subtitles reveal that this story is a pastiche of "film-noir detective" stories; Spandrell is the Time Lord version of the "antacid-gobbling" police chief.
* JanitorImpersonationInfiltration: The Fourth Doctor disguises himself as a dressing room assistant to appear invisible while he steals himself a disguise, using only voice pitch and body language as he was dressed only in his underwear at the time. Notably, the two Time Lords who are the focus of the scene don't even seem entirely sure that there was another person there at all.
* JustAFleshWound: In the Matrix, the Doctor gets shot in the leg and arm but he can perfectly use them after he's bandaged them. Same case with Goth, who gets shot in the stomach and doesn't seem to have any trouble with it once he's bandaged. The Matrix is a battle of wills in which apparent injury is only dangerous for its "psychosomatic feedback". When their attention is off the wounds, the Doctor and Goth will suffer less from them (or possibly not even at all, if neither combatant remembers receiving or inflicting them in the given moment).
* LiteralCliffhanger: Episode 2 was intended to end with a cliffhanger of a samurai with Goth's eyes cutting through the Doctor's scarf as he hung from it off a cliff face. However, the episode was underrunning and so a lot of SurrealHorror setpieces intended for Episode 3 got bumped forward to Episode 2, resulting in an eventual cliffhanger of the Doctor trapped with his foot on a train track as the train approaches.
* LoopholeAbuse: The Doctor is accused of killing the President of Gallifrey, the punishment for which is execution. However, the president had not named a successor before he was killed so an election must be held. So to put off his execution long enough to figure out what's really going on, the Doctor invokes some obscure law that lets him ''submit himself as a candidate'' so the Time Lords can't execute him until after the election.
* ManipulativeBastard: The Master is, perhaps miraculously, even more underhanded than usual here.
* TheMaster: Is a decaying husk of a Time Lord.
* MesACrowd: While in the Matrix, Goth takes on various generic historical personas (a samurai, a clown, a UsefulNotes/WW1 biplane pilot, etc.) to attack/frighten the Doctor (and the audience). At one point several of him seem to man several positions on a train (or trains) simultaneously to run over the Doctor's leg.
* MindRape: The Fourth Doctor simultaneously commits and is subjected to one when he ends up heading into a Cyberspace based on Goth's mind in order to assassinate him. Obviously he's invading Goth's mind, but Goth is also subjecting him to both psychological and physical (mental) torture.
* MonsterClown: A brief (but memorable) glimpse in the Matrix.
* MoralGuardians: Another one to incur the wrath of Mary Whitehouse, due to the cliffhanger where the Doctor apparently drowns.
* NamesToRunAwayFrom: Chancellor Goth.
* NiceHat: The Time Lord's iconic headpieces debut in this serial.
* NightmareFace: The Master's new face...ain't pretty.
* NotSoHarmlessVillain: Phillip Hinchcliffe considered the previous incarnation of the Master a "Comic-opera villain" and wanted something conspicuously scarier and more threatening for his return. Well, it worked...
* NotSoOmniscientCouncilOfBickering: The Time Lords in this story are a group of pompous, senile old men who have mostly forgotten how to use their sufficiently advanced technology.
* TheNthDoctor: Peter Pratt takes over as the Master for the only time.
* ObviousStuntDouble: When the Doctor falls off a cliff, he's suddenly replaced by a poor-quality dummy. His usually fairly convincing human stunt double is also betrayed by a terrible wig that stays springy when wet compared to Creator/TomBaker's plastered-down real hair in the closeups, and is several shades redder than it.
* OffTheShelfFX:
** An Action Man doll doubles as a matter-condensed Chancellery Guardsman.
** The "transduction" effect used on the TARDIS was reused from ''Swap Shop''.
** The poison Goth pours into the only source of drinking water seems to be green food colouring, still in its original bottle.
* OffOnATechnicality: In a rare heroic case, the Doctor offers himself as a presidential candidate so he can not be tried before the elections.
* OhCrap: Upon seeing the technician's shrunken corpse stashed in the telescope, the Doctor instantly recognises it as the work of the Master and turns very grave.
* OnlyOnePlausibleSuspect: The revelation that the assassin is Goth comes as no real surprise, as there are no other characters it plausibly could have been.
* OpeningMonologue: Not used again until the TV movie.
* OpeningScroll: The only story in the series to use one.
* ThePardon: The traditional practice at the opening of a presidency; the Doctor's trial is rushed so he can be executed before the question of whether to spare a brutal murderer or to ignore tradition arises.
* ParentService: The story features no companion for this job and the rest of the cast are either old men or a hissing walking corpse, so an excuse is found to dress the Doctor in an unfastened see-through pirate shirt and tight skinny leggings, and get him wet, complete with him tossing back his wet hair and striking a pose. Even official programme guides comment about how dashing and sexy Creator/TomBaker looks in this one. If you prefer a more conventionally handsome look for your men, the serial also delivers Bernard Horsfall in silver lipstick and eyeshadow.
* PhlebotinumBreakdown: As the Doctor points out, if the sash really made you invincible then the Master's assassination plan wouldn't have worked in the first place.
* PinchMe: The Doctor is briefly able to avoid Goth's traps in the Matrix by denying that they exist. Unfortunately, the projection is so strong that the Doctor can't resist for long and has to fight back on Goth's terms.
* PlatonicCave: The Matrix.
* PropagandaMachine: We get to hear the plans twice for covering up what happened.
* PseudoCrisis: Twice:
** The Doctor takes a sniper rifle from a balcony, aims, and shoots the Lord President of Gallifrey dead. It's pure Superdickery, and the next episode it's revealed he was actually trying to shoot the person trying to shoot the President.
** Goth grabs the Doctor from behind and started to drown him at the end of Episode 3. The next week, the man lost energy for no apparent reason, and the Doctor threw him off with ease.
* RandomSmokingScene: The Doctor uses a hookah and a pile of his clothes in a chair as a DecoyGetaway, so as to create the illusion that he's smoking in the corner with his back to the door when the Time Lord guards break into his TARDIS. Since he isn't ever seen smoking on screen, it comes across as a bizarre part of the illusion. He isn't shown actually smoking it, though he pops the end of the pipe into his mouth while he's setting it up. Later in the story, though, he wakes up from beside a machine that's been burned out by saying "do you mind? This is a non-smoking compartment."
* RebelliousSpirit: The Doctor spends his entire trial doodling caricatures of his accusers.
* RedScare: The story is noticeably steeped in fears of subversion from within, treachery from trusted public servants, the duplicity of men in power, and the decay (literally, in the case of the Master) of idealism.
* RefugeInAudacity: Rather than face the indignity of hearing the judgement during his mockery of a trial, the Doctor puts himself up as a candidate for the Presidency, an act so barking mad that nobody bothers to question why this loon slipped through the net in the first place.
* ResistanceIsFutile: The Master says this verbatim.
* SesquipedalianLoquaciousness: Borusa uses a lot of big words.
* ShoutOut:
** The Doctor's line about "vaporisation without representation" mocked a similar American slogan about taxation that was popular during the War of Independence.
** Spandrell's role as the unassuming but sharp-witted and grounded Chief Inspector chasing the hypnotic mastermind recalls Lohmann in ''Film/TheTestamentOfDoctorMabuse''.
** The biplane that menaces the Doctor is reminiscent of the crop duster from ''Film/NorthByNorthwest'', and the improvised weapons he makes from things found in the forest seems to be nicked from [[Recap/StarTrekS1E18Arena "Arena"]].
* SomethingCompletelyDifferent: This is the Doctor's only classic series solo story with no companion in tow. This was ultimately deemed undesirable in the long run, although it would be revived occasionally in the revival series, in particular in Christmas specials, although even those tend to have a guest character filling the role temporarily.
* TakeThat: It's rumoured that Holmes used the depiction of the Time Lords as a dig at the ridiculous nature of some of England's "Great Institutions", like the House of Lords and the Church of England.
* TechnicolorToxin:
** The Master's poison is green.
** In the Matrix sequence, the poison Goth pours into the only source of drinking water is green.
* ThoseTwoGuys: Spandrell and Engin.
* TookALevelInJerkass: The Master is much nastier than the last time we saw him. Being reduced to a charred walking corpse will do that to you.
* TorturePorn: The Doctor gets ''very'' thoroughly tortured.
* TranslationConvention: Everyone is speaking in Gallifreyan, but due to the viewpoint character being the Doctor and there being no companion we hear the Time Lords speaking in English, complete with accents for some characters (Spandrell sounds Eastern European to indicate he was born outside the Citadel).
* UnwittingPawn: Goth unwittingly aids the Master in his plan.
* VideoInsideFilmOutside: Reality is all video with smooth motion and bright (some would say rather lurid) colours. When the Doctor enters the {{Cyberspace}} nightmare-world, it's all film, including the few studio shots (such as the Miniature Effects with the crocodile), with everything in a drab and muted, grainy colour palette (helped by the cheap and nasty-quality film) with the exception of the Doctor's ridiculously blue eyes. The whole effect is to indicate unrealness to everything there except for the Doctor's mind.
* WhamEpisode: This was the first serial to completely take place on Gallifrey, and as such established much of the backstory regarding the culture that would inform stories for decades to come, including the revelation that Time Lords (in theory) may only regenerate 12 times. The Doctor is companion-less for the first time in the series, accused of a crime he didn't commit. It also featured the return of the Master (the character had previously been retired due to Roger Delgado's death) and the revelation that yes, the Time Lords were absolutely capable of political scheming and skullduggery.
* WholePlotReference: The story owes no small debt to ''Film/TheManchurianCandidate'', and the DVD release has a featurette specifically about this.
* WhoShotJFK: The assassination of the president (note the use of the American executive title rather than "prime minister," as one might expect from a BBC show) has obvious and intentional resonance with the Kennedy murder.
* YearInsideHourOutside: Time runs more quickly in the Matrix. The Doctor's adventures take up an episode and a half; to the Time Lords watching, it takes about four minutes.
* YourMindMakesItReal: The Gallifreyan Matrix works like this, as death in the virtual reality overloads the person's mind.
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