Series / Doc Martin

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Mrs. Tishell: You are being very mean.
Doc Martin: Quite possibly.

A mix of medical drama and Brit Com, brought to you by ITV. The character originally appeared as Doctor Martin Bamford in two BSkyB TV movies, before being significantly retconned and renamed "Ellingham" by Dominic Minghella (spot the anagram). Aside from the scenic postcode, there is no link between the two characters.

Dr. Martin Ellingham is a Doctor with two fairly glaring problems. Firstly, he's got the bedside manner of Hannibal Lecter with none of the charm. Secondly, he's managed to acquire a fear of blood. The latter resulted in him leaving his job as a renowned surgeon in London and heading for the Cornish village of Portwenn to become their GP (General Practitioner, i.e. village doctor).

There he deals with the variety of local oddballs, the medical enigmas of the week, his aunt(s), and most terrifyingly, attempting to woo the local schoolmistress. The show is currently in its seventh series (2004—present).

This comedy drama contains examples of the following:

  • Afraid of Blood: Martin. Sets up the whole series, as his aversion to blood halts his high-flying medical career in its tracks and causes him to become a GP in a small rural village. Despite early efforts to keep a lid on his secret, an upstart doctor from his old hospital blabs about it all over Portwenn.
    • He sought therapy to correct it in season 4 and seemed to be over it by season 5, however in season six he started to have problems with blood again.
  • Always on Duty: When we are first introduced to Martin, he is seen intrusively peering into a fellow passenger's face (Louisa) on a plane, checking for an eye disorder. He continues to offer unsolicited diagnoses, no matter how inappropriate the situation is, even if he faces stiff punishment for doing so. (Commenting on Louisa's breath in the middle of a cab ride gets him dumped on the outskirts of town.)
  • Ambiguous Disorder: Martin. He does not grasp the social niceties, is very literal-minded, and lacks a filter between his brain and his mouth. It only becomes apparent once he's free of the chilly confines of London and can no longer bark at people with total impunity.
    Chris: Mr. Walton complains that you called him a "mentally deficient parasite."
    Martin: (earnestly) He is a mentally deficient parasite.
    • Although Aunt Ruth, herself a psychologist, proposes that his coldness is as much rooted in childhood neglect as neuroses. Martin's father (also played by Clunes) was an ogre, his gold digger mother detested him utterly, and it's even hinted that she's not his biological mum in any case. What a mess.
  • Anguished Declaration of Love:
    • At the end of season 4, Martin finally breaks down and admits how much Louisa really means to him. Because he's such an emotionally repressed, stuffed shirt normally this becomes both a crowning moment of awesome and a crowning moment of funny as he struggles to put aside his Stiff Upper Lip tendencies and speak from his heart.
    • Parodied earlier, with Pauline, who notes that Doc Martin is so terrible at demonstrating emotions that a simple expression of affection comes across like this trope.
    Pauline: Thank God! I thought you were going to say that you were in love with me or something. After all that bumbling . . .
  • Arcadia: The show takes place in an idyllic rural fishing village.
  • Bait and Switch: It wouldn't be a medical mystery series if it didn't string you along for most of the episode with hints that the cause is one thing (with sometimes one or two alternatives), and then reveal it to be something else entirely.
  • Bitter Almonds: Not actually cyanide, but Martin manages to identify the smell of copper arsenite, which is giving a patient of the week arsenic poisoning via a (unintentional) Napoleon's Wallpaper plot.
  • Blood-Splattered Wedding Dress: Louisa, after a man's carotid artery is cut in the course of her honeymoon from hell.
  • Book Ends: In the first season, Bert runs Large and Son, but Al leaves fairly early to strike his own path. In the finale, Bert joins Al's bed-and-breakfast business and starts calling them "Large and Son" again.
  • Bothering by the Book: You might say that he's a Martin-et. (rim shot)
  • Brain Bleach: Martin invokes this when he walks in on Joan having sex with a man, 50 years her junior, on the kitchen table.
  • Break Her Heart To Save Her: An old flame of Joan's tries to do this by claiming he's married since Martin has predicted he has between six and twelve months to live, and he doesn't want to make her suffer when he dies.
  • Britain Is Only London: Averted. Britain is London AND Cornwall.
  • British Brevity: Currently 38 episodes over 7 years.
  • British Stuffiness: Martin, is almost a caricature of the emotionally repressed Brit. From his stiff as a board posture, to his constant inability to handle emotions (well, positive emotions anyway; he has a better handle on the negative ones).
  • Broken Aesop: In the final episode of season 1, a nine-year old boy who's kind of a loner is told by Louisa that, if you allow people to make fun of you and don't react, then they'll accept you because "they'll see you're okay." Even worse, this Aesop is repeated by the boy to Martin...who in the same episode had been the victim of a practical joke that wasn't strictly a Deadly Prank, but was still pretty cruel and quickly made him a laughing stock by pretty much everybody in the village, to the point where he was being discussed on local radio. The hard truth is that bullies rarely care about your reactions one way or another; the dynamics of human pack mentality are clear.
    • Notably this was Lampshaded and Deconstructed in the same episode, as Louisa's advice ends up getting said boy a ruptured spleen for his trouble and rushed into emergency surgery. In the end, she amends her advice to "Some people won't ever fit in, but we should appreciate their uniqueness".
    • There's another one played for laughs in an episode where the school's caretaker is kicked out and is sleeping in the school shed. He's delirious from carbon monoxide from a gas heater in a closed area, and has been putting fertilizer on the floors and floor cleaner on the vegetables. One of the teachers is trying to teach the kids the importance of eating fruits and vegetables, when Martin bursts into the room and shouts "Don't eat those! Destroy them immediately!"
  • Buffy Speak: Martin tells PC Penhale that his brother is displaying some of the symptoms of Huntington's disease. Penhale has a panic attack and Martin shuts him up by agreeing to give him a blood test. Penhale says of his blood that "Oh no! It looks Huntington-y!"
  • Bunny-Ears Lawyer:
    • Doctor Martin Ellingham in is abrasive and arrogant, and generally unsociable. He had also developed a blood phobia, which caused him to have to give up his prestigious surgical practice and become the best damned GP (general practitioner) the village of Portwenn ever had.
    • Also Stewart (the forest ranger).
  • The Bus Came Back: Peter returns as a teenager in Series 7. He's studying to become a doctor and shadows Martin in the surgery—as it turns out, with disastrous consequences.
  • Call Back: When Martin and Edith were sharing a hotel room, one of the first things he was shown to do was to check the bed for bedbugs. Apparently it was a habit he'd had for sometime because she knew to expect it and even automatically helped him with it. On his honeymoon with Louisa, Martin again checked for bedbugs (though quickly covered it up).
  • Can't Hold His Liquor: Martin.
  • Characterisation Marches On: Martin is notably more ’normal' in early seasons. His rudeness is born more of a prickly personality and a Londoner’s standoffish attitude. He is actually a brilliant Deadpan Snarker, and makes stilted attempts to make friends with the villagers. In later seasons his difficulties morph into an Ambiguous Disorder where he seems incapable of understanding basic human emotions or humour.
  • Chekhov's Gun: If someone coughs, scratches an itch, or sneezes in the beginning, they're probably the victim of this week's medical mystery. It happens at least Once an Episode.
  • Chekhov's Gunman: The Wintons appear a few episodes into Series 7, when Mr. Winton has a tumor on his neck and Mrs. Winton displays both an absolute refusal to go to the hospital and pure desperation for Martin to cure him. Guess who causes the crisis in the series finale.
  • The Con: Though normally preferring an honest get rich quick scheme, Bert attempts this in “In Loco” ...against his own son, by pretending to have lost Mrs Cronk’s Fish ‘N’ Chip shop a lot of money by buying the food at more than he was selling it for and needing Al to bail him out. Luckily, Al figures out in time that the ingredients that Bert supposedly lost all the money on were actually being given to him at cost.
  • Continuity Nod: In the final episode, someone suggests that the legendary Beast of Bodmin got Martin, which Louisa dismisses as a ginned-up "legend" for tourists that happened years ago. The first of the two BSkyB movies the series originated from involved the legend in its plot.
  • Cool Old Lady: Martin's aunts Joan Norton and Ruth Ellingham.
  • CPR (Clean, Pretty, Reliable): Morwena manages to revive her grandfather with a good minute and a half worth of this.
  • The Cobbler's Children Have No Shoes:
    • Ruth diagnoses herself as having Lupus. Martin has to practically wrestle her into surgery, and once he does, he can tell at a glance that she's suffering from a simple autoimmune disease.
    • To say nothing of Mrs. Tichell's cocktail of self-prescribed drugs...
    • Dr Dibbs is stunningly incompetent in treating herself, on a massive amount of self-prescribed medication and having missed an almost fatal diagnosis. She's barely any better with her patients.
    • Given that she spent over 20 years working as a nurse without any problem, it's heavily implied the only reason Dr Dibbs is such a nervous wreck is because her husband pushed her to become a Doctor and she cracked under the pressure.
  • Crouching Moron, Hidden Badass:
    • Penhale, heavier on the moron than the badass admittedly, but he came across as a very professional and scary copper when he dealt with the evil loan sharks threatening Bert. And when his estranged wife shows up apparently unaware that they've been divorced for four years, he's clearly still desperately in love with her, but the first thing he does is ask her the date, confirming that she's not well.
    • Also Morwenna to an extent, particularly in the Series 6 finale when Bert's MacGyvering causes a woman to suffer a heart-stopping electric shock. On phone advice from Martin (who's dealing with his own serious problem at the timenote ) she performs CPR on the patient while Al fetches a defibrillator. In Series 7 she helps a man having a stroke while they're stranded in a remote place and she only has garbled radio instructions.
  • Cute Kitten: Even the All Devouring Black Hole Loan Sharks love cute kittens, they keep one in their van.
  • Deadly Prank: Averted (see Broken Aesop above), but as Martin pointed out, it did keep him from attending to patients that actually needed his help
  • Deadpan Snarker: Martin on occasion but bluntness and Lack of Empathy are a more common way of him dealing with people.
  • "Dear John" Letter: Bert gets one from Jennifer, the woman he'd romanced and proposed to in the previous series. He gives up his restaurant, sells his van, and is later found by Al being morose in a camper.
  • Derailing Love Interests: Louisa reunites with her ex-boyfriend, who accepts a job in London after asking her to marry him. So she dumps him because he's disingenuous about living a life together in their beloved village, and not so much because he's an insufferable Jesus freak.
  • Determinator: Bert Large. Regardless of how many failures and setbacks he goes through (mainly self-inflicted), he never stops trying to strike success. Both Al and Ruth say "you never give up, do you?" in the finale, although in markedly different tones of voice.
  • Didn't Think This Through: Annie Winton takes Martin prisoner to cure her cancer-stricken husband. But as he repeatedly tries to point out, he's not an oncologist and he can't do surgery in a farmhouse, especially not when her son made him ditch his medical bag somewhere on the moor. And in the end it turns out if the Wintons had actually gone to the follow-up appointment and done the procedures instead of just losing hope at the initial diagnosis they would have found out it's not cancer, and Mr. Winton could have been treated immediately without anyone waving guns around or getting arrested.
  • Doctor's Orders: Doc Martin is routinely frustrated by patients ignoring his advice and doing what they want. One woman nearly killed herself trying to function with a herniated vertebra.
  • Drama Bomb: When Joan is Killed Off for Real at the start of season 5.
  • Dropped a Bridge on Her: Aunt Joan. Killed off offscreen with a heart attack in her jeep, which was found crashed into a gorse thicket.
  • Dr. Jerk:
    • Dr. Martin Ellingham, a top Harley Street surgeon who, after developing a fear of blood, retrains as a local G.P and moves to Cornwall. He's a brilliant doctor, but he's also a sour, pompous and miserable git almost entirely lacking in charm and bedside manner.
    "It was easy to find you, I just followed the trail of outraged people".
    • In Series Three, he very briefly tries on a newer, jocular attitude to impress Louisa. Of course this only manages to creep people out even further, and the patients continue to disregard his advice anyway. He can't win.
    • There's a minor Running Gag that Martin will accurately treat/diagnose people on the fly, but repeatedly fails to remember what their name was, even when he actually bothered to ask for it!
    • The Dr. Jerk is played straight in the 4th series with the character of Dr. Edith Montgomery, who not only shares Martin's lack of bedside manner but has even less care or empathy for her patients.
  • Eagle Land: Sigourney Weaver plays an American tourist with an entitled "customer is always right" type of attitude who judged her American doctor's skill by how much she had to pay him and is shocked when Martin informs her that the visit to his office carries no charge.
  • Early Installment Weirdness: In the first few episodes, Martin is still rude, but he's much more talkative and tries to repair some of the damage he does with his tactlessness. (In the pilot, for instance, he secretly gets a husband, his unfaithful wife, and the lover all in the same room to try and make up.)
  • Embarrassing Nickname: The villagers quickly take to calling Martin "Doc Martin", no matter how many times he insists that it's Doctor. Ellingham.
  • Emotionally Tongue Tied: Martin.
  • Epic Fail: Al does a radio interview to try and promote his fishing tours and B&B, but gets hung up on clarifying that Morwenna is not his girlfriend, nor is Ruth, and gives curt one-word answers when the host tries getting him to elaborate on his business.
  • Express Lane Limit: Martin's secretary is late to work on her first day because she stopped by the supermarket to get supplies, and got into an argument about whether she was entitled to use the "six items or less" lane (she had 20 items, but claimed the important thing was she had fewer than six types of item).
  • Everybody Lives: More or less - the Doc has never lost a patient. At least not when anything could possibly be done about it. He walked into a bedroom to find a woman in the midst of a stroke and she died before he'd even finished phoning an ambulance.
  • Fat and Skinny: Bert and Al. Bert being the short Fat Idiot and his son Al is the sensible Straight Man.
  • Fish out of Water: Not so much these days, since he's been living there a while by now.
  • Flanderization: PC Penhale wasn't terribly competent to begin with, but as the series has gone on he seems to keep getting worse and worse at his job, to the point that by season six he no longer seems to have the slightest idea what proper police procedure is.
  • Follow the Leader:
    • Distant Shores, staring Peter Davison as a fish-out-of-water city doctor on the Northumbrian island Hildasay.
    • Less specifically, it also owes something to Northern Exposure.
  • Foreshadowing: Pauline's habit of online gambling during surgery downtime is established a number of episodes before it blooms into a full-blown addiction.
  • The Freelance Shame Squad: British TV has seen some terrifying portrayals of youth culture in its time, but none as vile as the pack of Nelson Muntzes endlessly prowling the village. They are the Furies of Portwenn: heartless, unfazed by everything (even gory nailgun accidents), communicating only in shouts of "Tosser!", and always on hand to point and laugh at Martin's misfortune.
  • The Fun in Funeral: Season Five, Ep 2, plays this to the hilt with Joan's funeral. The hearse is late, the guests are weirdnote , the pall-bearers drop the coffin, Martin turns Joan's eulogy into a medical case history presentation-cum-public health lecture, the local police constable bemoans dealing with simple heart attacks and not something exciting, someone's mobile phone goes off playing "things can only get better" as a ring-tone. The usual for Portwenn really.
  • Freeze-Frame Bonus: The news articles about Martin in Mrs. Tishall's Stalker Shrine. Most of them are about Martin saving someone's life... but she also pinned up one headline reading "Local Doctor Ruins Village Festival Again".
  • Funny Schizophrenia: Averted with the park ranger Stewart. Certainly, on the surface it sounds amusing: He has delusions of having a six-foot grey squirrel as a friend, and that grey and red squirrels are locked in a brutal conflict. However, the character is at first played brilliantly in a way which keeps both Martin and the viewer uncertain about how unstable and dangerous he might be if you don't go along with him. Second, it soon comes clear that Stewart is suffering from PTSD and the delusions are a coping mechanism. He fought in Bosnia and took a bullet from friendly fire. Later he is shown having a breakdown, screaming about how dangerous and uncertain the world can be for squirrels, but it is clear he is externalizing his own feelings and his war experiences left him a broken, fragile man.
  • Game-Breaking Injury: It's implied that PC Penhale used to be a city cop (and/or a better cop) before being kicked in the head by a horse on a call. It messed him up quite badly, resulting in narcolepsy, agoraphobia, and mood swings that ruined his marriage.
  • Get Rich Quick Scheme: Bert Large tends towards these, though on a mild scale. Examples include bottled water (that sickens the village) and trying to organize a birdwatching tour for one pair of rare birds on an inaccessible bit of cliff. After he opens his restaurant, he sticks to constantly reworking the menu and theme, and trying to expand the business. When he gives up on the restaurant, he goes back to this and starts building a still.
  • Getting the Baby to Sleep:
    • Season 5 Ep 3, Louisa is so desperate to get her baby to sleep she does all sorts of bizarre dances, and even gets arch-stick-in-the-mud Martin to do one too.
    • The next episode reveals Martin is willing to place the baby in a car and drive right out to the middle of the moor as a way to lull the baby to sleep.
  • Heartbeat Soundtrack: Featured whenever Martin's blood phobia comes up.
  • Hidden Depths: Martin used to write Edith poetry.
  • Hillbilly Moonshiner: After losing his restaurant in the final series, Bert builds a still in an old camper to make whiskey. However, his product actually turns out to be of salable quality, and Ruth helps him obtain a distillers' license.
  • Hostage Situation:
    • Martin, Louisa, and Pauline are taken hostage by a criminal who is suffering from untreated bipolar disorder. It ends after about half a dozen others get roped into it, a medical emergency occurs, and Martin completely loses patience with the situation.
    • Again in the final episode of Series 5. Mrs Tishell has a psychotic break and essentially holds James Henry — Martin and Louisa's son — hostage. Martin talks her down.
    • Another episode has a delusional woman take her son, Martin, Penhale, and Ruth hostage, believing the latter was poisoning her with weedkiller. Turns out she was being poisoned, but by the old wallpaper in her bedroom coated in arsenic, which her son had begun to strip but never bothered to finish.
  • Imaginary Friend:
    • Anthony, an invisible 6-foot squirrel.
    • In the Spanish version, Migue, an alien from Saturn.
  • Informed Self Diagnosis: The "gets it wrong" variant of this trope is done twice.
    • Dr Dibbs self-diagnosis almost kills her before Martin manages to correct it.
    • Martin's Aunt Ruth diagnoses herself with a terminal illness, listing all the symptoms, but thankfully Martin is on hand to point a couple of symptoms she's missed which means he has to break the bad news that she is going to live as she has something totally different.
    • Martin does this when he starts seeing a therapist in Series 7, but she doesn't correct him since it's plausible enough and it's the first session.
  • In Medias Res: The Christmas special and series 7 finale both open with Martin tied up and then flash back to 24 hours earlier.
  • Instant Drama, Just Add Tracheotomy:
    • Martin has to perform one on Louisa's painter boyfriend using improvised materials.
    • Happens again in Series 7 when a girl gets epiglottitis from a case of strep throat. This time he's got a proper kit, but the procedure is also broadcast over live radio because it happens in the station.
    • A similar instance in the final episode happens when Martin has to puncture a bloody cyst that's blocking a man's windpipe.
  • Instant Birth, Just Add Water with Screaming Birth: Louisa, less than half an hour had passed between waters breaking and delivery.
  • Insufferable Genius: The Doc.
  • In Vino Veritas: Double-subverted. Louisa tries this on Martin, but he says that alcohol just makes him sleepy. But then he admits that he loves Louisa. And then he falls asleep.
  • Jerk with a Heart of Gold: While the Doc has a habit of being extraordinarily rude to people, it's clear that he does care about their well-being, but is frustrated by the fact that they never follow directions. He also clearly loves his Aunt, Louisa, and even Pauline. This is most obviously expressed in the episode where he and Louisa become engaged, as he tells off Pauline's mum for accusing Pauline of being a criminal when really she just has a gambling addiction, and where he tells Louisa that he can't bear to live without her.
  • Juggling Loaded Guns: PC Penhale gets sent a pistol-style taser in one episode and spends the entire episode pointing it at people and things before panicking during a mild altercation and tasing a complete bystander.
  • Killed Off for Real: Auntie Joan dies of a heart attack offscreen during the hiatus between seasons 4 and 5.
  • Kissing Under the Influence: Martin and Louisa after they drink a couple bottles of wine.
  • Lack of Empathy: Doc Martin has no bedside manner and is probably a candidate for schizoid personality disorder. He routinely tells people about their illness in the most abrasive way possible.
  • Laser-Guided Karma: Martin Clunes intentionally puts the slapstick in (i.e. walking into a corner or bonking his head on the doorframe) after his character has been particularly pompous.
  • Licked by the Dog: Martin in basically every episode. Some episodes almost use the dog as a link.
  • Likes Older Women: In one episode, a painter has the hots for Auntie Joan. Martin suspects an Oedipus Complex, and it's later revealed that he's grieving for his dead mother...
  • Limited Wardrobe:
    • Martin and his suits would make Barney Stinson proud. He changes into a new suit for his wedding (with the classic "wardrobe full of copies of the same outfit" gag), but nobody can tell the difference.
    • Lampshaded in Series 6 when Martin asks if Louisa has seen his blue tie, to which she replies that all his ties are blue. He counters with the fact that he has a few red ones.
  • Little Old Lady Investigates: Unlike Martin, who barely even understands his fellow man, Ruth was a criminal psychologist and can do some more interesting things in this regard.
  • The Load: Nearly every time PC Penhale gets involved in a situation, he's either useless or actively exacerbates it.
  • Loan Shark: It turns out that Bert has had to go to some loan sharks to keep his restaurant afloat.
  • The Local: The Crab and Lobster.
  • Location Doubling: The fictional Portwenn is played by Cornish village Port Isaac. This gets a Shout-Out in the Spanish version, "Doctor Mateo". The fictional town in which the Spanish version is played, San Martín del Sella (actually Lastres), is said to be a sister town to Portwenn.
  • Long List:
    • In the first episode Bert mentions that there's a few people Martin needs to see, and then proceeds to list practically everyone in the village.
    • The list of medications Dr Dibbs prescribed for herself is insanely long.
  • MacGyvering:
    • If the situation calls for it, Martin will use anything suitable around him to treat a patient, such as during his honeymoon when he scrubs up with a bottle of whiskey and temporarily repairs a farmer's carotid artery with a razorblade and fishing line before putting him in a wheelbarrow and pushing him part of the way to the hospital until there's an opportunity to hitchhike.
    • When other characters try this, it almost never goes right. Examples include Penhale treating a self-inflicted gunshot wound on his foot with moss (as per his survival guide) but without drying it or cleaning it first, and Bert trying to temporarily fix a fused switch with a random piece of metal; leading to a woman suffering a shock serious enough to stop her heart.
  • Malicious Misnaming: Martin's mother insists on calling Louisa "Louise" despite being corrected multiple times.
  • Mirror Scare: Aunt Ruth is being stalked by one of her former patients, and when she is at home she adjusts the mirror and he's right behind her.
  • Misery Builds Character: Martin was brought up by emotionally distant and borderline abusive parents who resented having a child at all.
    Martin: I was locked in the cupboard under the stairs as a child, and it never did me any harm.
  • Moment Killer: Martin manages to muck up the moment with Louisa repeatedly.
  • Mood Whiplash: Done deliberately as part of the format, every episode will contain one dark, serious and weighty storyline, and one light Quirky Town style story. They will then interleave throughout the episode, often with both story lines crossing through the same scene, and leaving the viewer pretty wrung out emotionally by the end.
  • Motor Mouth: Morwena after taking some "energy pills", see Mushroom Samba below.
  • Mushroom Samba: In Series 5, after noticing bouts of hyperactive behaviour, Martin fires his new receptionist for taking drugs. It later finds out that the "energy pills" her grandfather had given her were actually 70-year-old metamphetamines from his WWII ration kit. Both assumed they were safe because it had the Government stamp on, after all... the Government wouldn't give out something that was bad for you.
  • My Beloved Smother: After being left virtually penniless Martin's mother, in series six, moves to Portwenn intent on invoking this trope.
  • Mystery of the Week: Either a single patient with a strange illness or a town epidemic.
    • Lampshaded in Martin's Anguished Declaration of Love at the end of Series 5 when he mentions that one of the things he hates about Portwenn is how the locals have an "unerring knack of catching any virus that comes within a five-mile radius" and their tendency to "spread contagion like a bush fire".
  • Never Bareheaded: Bert's never without his ratty watch cap.
  • No Social Skills: Martin. This exchange is a pretty clear demonstration of the problem:
    Louisa: It's no good pretending to be nice, Martin, you've got to want to!
    Martin: [beat] WHY?!
  • No Sympathy: There have been numerous occasions when Martin has had some appointment or official meeting that he didn't make because he was dealing with a medical emergency. This does not stop people from complaining that he wasted their time.
  • Not Now, Kiddo:
    • A semi-frequent occurrence is for one of the schoolchildren to display symptoms or strange behavior, while their parents and/or teachers to dismiss it as a minor cold or "being difficult" until it becomes a medical emergency.
    • When Ruth tells Martin that she thinks someone is stalking her, he brushes it off.
  • Not So Stoic: Martin after hearing the news about Joan's death. Despite outwardly remaining his typical aloof self, as he walks around her empty house, his eyes betray how utterly heartbroken he is.
  • Only Sane Man:
    • Martin likes to paint himself as one of these, however Joan and her replacement Ruth have far better claims on this (albeit in different ways).
    • Local ranger Stewart James appears to be this at first, having a perfectly pleasant conversation with Martin and appearing to be far more on the ball than most of the villagers, prompting Martin to question why he wants prescription tranquilisers. It's when he starts talking to a six foot tall invisible red squirrel called Anthony that things become clear. (Though in his more lucid moments when his PTSD isn't affecting him too much, he reverts to this.)
  • Open Heart Dentistry: Martin is a qualified surgeon and never does anything outside of his field but has occasionally had to perform surgery on the fly such as removing Eleanor's hernia in the consulting room with Morwenna as his assistant because the ambulance wouldn't arrive in time, hijacking the operation to fix a malformation in Louisa's brain by locking a nervous surgeon he didn't trust in a cupboard, and repairing damage to a farmer's carotid artery (that he and Louisa caused), using items on hand in the farmer's shack in the middle of woods including fishing line and whiskey.
  • Opposites Attract: Martin and Louisa basically cover every trope in this section at some point.
  • Papa Wolf: Subverted in the fourth episode, when Martin expects a confrontation with a father angry that Martin's seduced the man's daughter (he fixed her dislocated shoulder and she developed a crush, baked him a cake, showed up naked in his bed). A huge Tae Kwan Do instructor walks into Martin's surgery and ... the father turns out to be a Reasonable Authority Figure and apologizes for the inconvenience because his daughter has a habit of doing this.
  • Parental Abandonment:
    • The Ellinghams took every opportunity to not have to raise Martin, sending him to boarding school at age six and having him spend summers with Aunt Joan (until his father decided that Joan was too immoral).
    • Louisa's mother walked out on the family when she was ten and she became estranged from her gambling-addict father when she was an adult. Her father eventually becomes a criminal, causing a second estrangement. Her mother returned to become a cast member in season 5 and then they split again.
  • Pastimes Prove Personality: Martin is frequently seen repairing clocks, showing that even his hobby is similar to his job, requiring slow care and attention to detail.
  • Pet the Dog: Martin writes a prescriptionnote  to the town's ranger, a traumatized war veteran. Later, he does the samenote  for a teenage girl who is suffering largely from being a teenager.
  • Phrase Catcher: Martin has "Tosser!"
  • Pluto Is Expendable: In "Education, Education, Education", the student selected to be Pluto in an outdoors roleplaying of the Solar System ends up losing consciousness to Kawasaki Disease, sustained from an infection, and has to be rushed to hospital to save her life.
  • Police Are Useless: Averted with PC Mylow, who is socially awkward but still fairly competent. His replacement, PC Penhale, is hopelessly bad at his job. In the series finale, someone has to correct him about the missing persons law being updated to remove the "24 hours" requirement. Lampshaded by Ruth;
    Ruth: Is he really a policeman... or just pretending to be one?
  • Pre-Insanity Reveal: A downplayed version with PC Penhale, who was by all accounts a competent and professional police officer before he was kicked in the head by a horse and became the goofy, quirky, lovable dullard we all know.
  • Put on a Bus: Numerous major and minor characters stop appearing and are never mentioned again, including PC Mylow, Elaine, and Pauline.
  • Putting the "Medic" in Comedic: Although there isn't much medical staff members, Doc being surrounded by dim-witted patients and their "backward" cultural differences qualifies the show as this.
  • Retcon: In the first series, Martin says that his haemophobia was caused by high stress as a trauma surgeon in an inner-city hospital, even relating the tale of first getting it after seeing his patient's family before he had to operate. The sixth series' explanation, on the other hand, was that it was caused by Martin's mother being neglectful, dismissing the first's as self-rationalistion.
  • Reasonable Authority Figure: Joan and Ruth are this to Martin in a sense, having both known him since childhood and therefore being fully understanding of his personality and the reasons for it. They're also the people he's most likely to listen to.
  • Reckless Gun Usage:
    • In the Christmas special, the colonel accidentally shoots himself in the leg while walking around with his rifle unbroken and leaving it unattended. Martin somehow is blamed for this.
    • During their honeymoon, Martin and Louisa are held at gunpoint by a farmer who wants them to fix the chicken coop they damaged. Louisa seizes the gun at the first opportunity and threatens the farmer with it, to Martin's dismay.
    • In the finale, Mrs. Winton fires a rifle in her own house to threaten Martin. Later, Penhale grabs it and points it with his finger on the trigger, which you shouldn't do until you're damn well ready to use it. A short time after that, Joan and Al get their hands on it during their own search and Joan accidentally blasts the light fixture.
  • Romantic False Lead: Edith Montgomery, Martin's old girlfriend from medical school. She seems like a good match for him, sharing his disdain for most people and not bothered by his unemotive, blunt personality. However, her dismissive attitude towards her patients extends to their care as well as their emotions, so Martin leaves.
  • Runaway Bride: When they first attempt to marry, both Martin and Louisa separately decide not to go through with it, leaving no one at the altar.
  • Running Gag:
    • The dog that follows Martin around.
    • Martin bonking his head on Portwenn's low doorways.
  • Sanity Slippage: Mrs Tishell. Her crush on Martin went from "she's an odd one", to "what're those pills she's taking?", to Stalker Shrine, and finally a full blown psychotic break, which was a bad interaction between two drugs she was taking.
  • Sarcasm-Blind: Martin occasionally. It's unclear whether he does it deliberately to dismiss people he finds troublesome or that he simply doesn't bother to listen and think about what they've said enough to realize the sarcasm.
    Mother: I can't keep him home, I've got to work!
    Martin: Well, get your husband to help.
    Mother: Sure, if I mention impetigo (the skin infection her son has) he'll ditch his girlfriend straight away, drive overnight from Glasgow and give our marriage one more try.
    Martin: Good.
  • Sassy Secretary: Elaine. Mostly averted with Pauline, though she really "wants" to be one.
  • Scenery Porn: From the opening titles, the DOP takes the opinion that any shot with less than three people in it can be improved with moorland or some good Cornish cliffs.
  • Shout-Out:
  • Sickeningly Sweethearts: A couple honeymooning in Portwenn in the Series 5 finale.
  • Skewed Priorities: Louisa's Bible-thumping ex Danny uses a search for a missing child to argue with Martin and then Louisa about if Martin is good for her (translation: Danny wants to get back with her himself). Louisa angrily reminds them why they're out in the woods before storming off to continue the actual search.
  • Slut-Shaming: After the surprise pregnancy, both Ellingham and Louisa get some guff. He for not doing the right thing and marrying her, her for having had sex and being Defiled Forever. Her pregnancy cost her a job in London, and the town pharmacist is snippy about it due to her own crush on Ellingham.
  • Soft Glass:
    • Averted. Never treated as anything but a hazard, particularly when a girl crashes through a glass doorway and ends up unconscious and nearly bleeding to death.
    • Played straight once in season six, when Al smashes through an old single-pane window with his elbow in order to reach an emergency defibrillator kit after someone is electrocuted on the beach. Al is completely unhurt by it.
  • Spock Speak: Ellingham, frequently.
  • Stalker Shrine: After developing an obsession on Martin due to a medication issue Mrs Tishell constructs one of these in season 5 finale.
  • Stalker with a Crush: A very disturbing one in the sixth series. A former prisoner whom Ruth had recommended be kept in tracks her to Portwenn, leaves presents in her car and house, and finally shows up while she's there and threatens to kill Martin when he arrives.
  • Straw Feminist: The midwife who comes into town for one episode during Louisa's pregnancy. It's hard to believe she even got certified as a midwife when her entire motivation for the job seems to be ranting about how terrible men are.
  • Stealing the Credit: Morwenna's roomate, Janice, takes credit for saving a lifeboat captain who'd had a stroke when she'd actually spent the entire time panicking and Morwenna did all the first-aid before Martin showed up.
  • Supreme Chef: Martin himself. He might be uptight, a stick-in-the-mud, and unexpressive in every other aspect of his life, but his gastronomic creations show a singular passion and creativity. Notable that even during his relationship with Louisa he still insisted on doing the cooking for both of them.
  • Suspiciously Similar Substitute:
    • PC Penhale for PC Mylow.
    • Originally Pauline for Elaine, though since Pauline has run for three seasons now she has a rather well developed, unique character.
    • Morwena is very much one for Pauline though.
    • Averted with the replacement for Aunt Joan, Martin's Aunt Ruth is a very different person.
    • When the anonymous black sheepdog disappears, Joan gets a dog that takes just as much an unwelcome liking to Martin.
  • 10-Minute Retirement: Martin's replacement at the end of season 4 is so stunningly incompetent he feels he has to take over again.
  • Timmy in a Well: Parodied in the finale. Buddy finds where Martin is being held prisoner and runs for help. Penhale goes through the dialogue mockingly and then goes on his way, although he ends up in the right spot anyway by starting in the last known location.
  • Unusual Euphemism: The locals use "Bodmin" (as in Bodmin Moor) as a catch all term for "crazy".
  • The West Country: The show is set in a small fishing village somewhere Cornwall-ish.
  • They Call Me Mister Tibbs: Invoked in the show and referenced in the show's title. The villagers endearingly call him "Doc Martin" though he prefers "Doctor Ellingham". Also, his London name was "Mister Ellingham" (British surgeons are doctors, but they traditionally prefer "Mr").
  • Why Did It Have to Be Snakes?: Blood for Martin.
  • Unsympathetic Comedy Protagonist: Ellingham, in spades.
  • Unusually Uninteresting Sight: What is the reaction to a man giving a testicular exam to a policeman holding a baby, in a public lavatory?
    PC Penhale: Give us a minute Nigel.
    Nigel: All right.
  • Ugly Guy, Hot Wife: Almost. Ellingham and Louisa had a difficult on-again-off-again relationship, conceived a baby, almost married, and reconciled in the final episode of season 4.
  • Vomit Indiscretion Shot: Martin. Nobody in Britian spews more than this man.
  • Wedding Smashers: Unusually, the wedding itself goes off almost seamlessly (partly due to Martin and Louisa escaping early while they're ahead); the honeymoon, on the other hand, sees their cottage rendered unusable by a blocked chimney and their luggage lost; they get lost attempting to walk home and held at gunpoint by an irascible farmer insisting they fix a chicken coop they broke, and then have to stitch him up after an unlikely accident severs an artery and carry him back to town in a wheelbarrow.
  • We Want Our Jerk Back: After Martin resigns to go to London at the end of season 4 he is replaced by the lovely, sweet, and patient Dr Dibbs. She's so bad at the job that it's a relief to get grumpy old Martin back.
  • Will They or Won't They?:
    • Martin and Louisa. Even after they decide to get married... then they jilt each other. And when they successfully tie the knot, the tension is enough that Louisa takes a solo vacation.
    • To some extent, Pauline and Al.
  • Worst Aid:
    • After her friend gets a nasty cut on the arm, Louisa's mother has him keep it below the heart. This is the opposite of what should be done; keeping it above the heart reduces the bloodflow somewhat.
    • Peter (now in high school), is studying to be a doctor and tries treating a woman's cyst by bashing it with a heavy book (in fairness, Martin did the exact same thing in "The Wrong Goodbye" with better consequences, albeit with the medical training to back it up). Then it's revealed that Peter's falsely obtained beta blockers to treat his mother's panic attacks while also letting her take St. John's Wort, thinking that the latter is a harmless placebo. They turn out to combine nastily and has potentially life-threatening consequences.
  • You Have Got to Be Kidding Me!:
    • Martin's stock response (along with calling the patient an idiot) to the people of Portwenn's often ridiculous attempts at self-medication or other antics.
    • A specific example comes when Martin successfully removes Eleanor's hernia in the consulting room and Morwenna (acting as his assistant) suggests she could close up the incision if he shows her how.
  • Your Head Asplode: Ellingham diagnoses one patient with Exploding Head Syndrome, the patient assumes it is a literal description fearing this trope.

http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Series/DocMartin