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Series: Doctor Who
aka: Dr Who

"It all started out as a mild curiosity in a junk yard, and now it's turned out to be quite a great spirit of adventure."

The longest running science-fiction series in the world, first airing on BBC TV on 23rd November 1963. It takes place in and established the Whoniverse, which has a continuous and constantly adapting story involving many different timelines. It also spawned the truly vast Doctor Who Expanded Universe.

The premise of the show is simple enough: it follows the adventures of a renegade Time Lord, the Doctor, and his various companions through time and space. He travels in his living and sentient time machine, the TARDIS (Time And Relative Dimensions In Space), and meets many foes, ranging from heavily armoured robots to killer microbes and pollen to — well, members of his own race. Part of the longevity of the series is that when an actor leaves, the show gets around this by killing his character off, only to "regenerate" the Doctor into a new form played by someone else (sometimes by someone significantly older or younger). As a result, the same character has appeared in the series from the beginning, but his new personality and new tastes give a show a distinctly different atmosphere with each regeneration.

The show originally ran from 1963 to 1989 (with an 18 month hiatus in 1985-6 caused by Executive Meddling, during which it "rested"). A Made-for-TV Movie aired in 1996, in which the Seventh Doctor returned at the end of his life and regenerated into the Eighth. This was created as a pilot for a revival, but although the Eighth Doctor became part of the continuity as a whole, no actual return of the series resulted. Between 2001 and 2003, The BBC produced a series of webcasts which it considered in every way an official continuation of the series (insofar as the Beeb ever indicates what is and isn't canon). It is possible more would have been made but for a very exciting development on the television front: in 2005, the BBC regenerated the show. This new revival series is a direct continuation of the old series, rather than being a Continuity Reboot, and the Ninth Doctor was a successor to the classic series incarnations. The revival series has radically upgraded production values (the original series is notorious for its often rubbery monster prosthetics and bad Chroma Key), shorter story arcs but much more continuity throughout, and it introduced deeper Character Development and romance to the series. As such, 2013 marked the show's 50th anniversary. The original show lasted 26 "seasons", whereas the new annual runs of episodes are called "series": officially, the show went from Season 26 to Series 1, and so on. Even subtracting the 16-year "interregnum," the show still holds the record of longest-running English-language sci-fi series, with its nearest rivals being the 10-season runs of the US series Smallville and Stargate SG-1 and the UK series Red Dwarf.

Doctor Who is a British institution and considered a key part of British culture: even Her Britannic Majesty is a fan, and threw the show a birthday party in her palace for its 50th anniversary in 2013. In addition, the Royal Mail honoured the show's anniversary with a set of stamps – one for each Doctor (and the TARDIS) plus the show's villains.

The original 1963-89 episodes are now considered such an important part of the BBC's home video output that they have their own freelance Restoration Team, devoted to restoring and remastering vintage episodes to as much of their former glory as possible. In the process they have pioneered a number of brand new restoration techniques, such as Reverse Standards Conversion (recovering PAL footage from NTSC copy), Chroma Dot Colour Recovery (using leftover dots to recolour a black and white copy) and Vid FIRE (increasing the frame rate of a film copy to that of the original video), which have since also been applied to other vintage TV shows. Until 1978, the BBC had a policy of junking episodes they no longer needed; as a result, many episodes that aired from 1964 to as late as 1974 were in fact destroyed. Since 1978, a concerted effort by fans and the BBC itself has resulted in many episodes being recovered, as recently as 2013. At present, 97 of the 253 episodes from the 1960s remain missing from the BBC archives, though it is widely speculated that a number of episodes have been located. Fortunately, audio recordings survive of all the missing episodes, and all of the incomplete or missing storylines have also been adapted as novels over the years.

The show has spawned several spinoffs within its canon Whoniverse, which have occasionally crossed over with the main series. Except where noted, these take place in (then-)present day Earth.

  • K-9 and Company (1981), a failed Pilot Episode with the Doctor's former companions Sarah Jane Smith and K-9. The episode aired as a Christmas special in 1981.
  • Big Finish Doctor Who (1999 - present), prominent audio stories overseen by Nicholas Briggs, starring virtually all the surviving original TV actors. Takes place in a variety of eras and worlds, as with the TV series. Although considered canon by the BBC from the start (and explicitly as of 2013's "The Night Of The Doctor"), Big Finish also has many different timelines/continuities, and includes adaptations of existing works from the Doctor Who Expanded Universe. Due to the audio series' sheer size and complexity, it plays by the rules of the Doctor Who Expanded Universe: the TV series sometimes contradicts or overwrites the audio stories, or adapts them for the televised continuity.
  • Torchwood (2006 - 2011), a Darker and Edgier (as well as Hotter and Sexier) story starring companion Captain Jack Harkness. On indefinite hiatus after four seasons as producer/show runner Russell T Davies is currently focusing on other projects.
  • The Sarah Jane Adventures (2007 - 2011), a Lighter and Softer spinoff. K-9 put in semi-regular appearances. The Tenth and Eleventh Doctors, and original-series Who characters The Brigadier and Jo Grant guest-starred in one serial each. The series ended production with the death of star Elisabeth Sladen.
  • K9 (2010- ?), an Australian children's show (produced by a company other than the BBC) which continues in the spirit of The Sarah Jane Adventures. It takes place in a late-21st-century Dystopian London and features an upgraded version of the robot dog that had been Put on a Bus back in the 1977 story "The Invasion of Time." A single season aired in 2010; it has been officially in pre-production for Series 2 ever since, but as of early 2014 no announcement has been made as to when or if it will return.

There are additionally many adventures in almost all types of media, often made by the cast and crew of the TV series, which freely contradict each other. Collectively, these are known as the Doctor Who Expanded Universe. (The BBC rarely comments on their, or for that matter the TV series', canonicity, causing a fair amount of debate and Epileptic Trees.) Stories outside the TV series tend to be Darker and Edgier, and often tackle themes that the TV series can't dive into for any reason, as well as story ideas that were proposed but simply never developed for television. Quite a few stories from the Expanded Universe ended up referenced in or even adapted for the revived TV series.

The series also had three behind-the-scenes Companion Shows. The longest-running was Doctor Who Confidential which debuted in 2005 and was canceled in 2011 due to budget cuts (a scaled-down version called Behind the Lens has since been featured on DVD releases), and Totally Doctor Who, a kid-friendly version of Confidential that aired two seasons from 2006 to 2007, the latter of which featured an exclusive animated serial titled The Infinite Quest. In 2014, the BBC launched a scaled-down version of Confidential titled Doctor Who Extra.

There is also a frequently updated Match Three Game full of continuity porn known as Doctor Who: Legacy.

For more detailed information, check the Analysis tab.

Vote for your favorite episode here.


Recurring examples (that don't fit in one of the three categories listed above):

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  • Action Girl: At some point (at least from the 1970s onwards), one of the Doctor's female companions will find herself coming to the Doctor's rescue, often with a blaster or other weapon in hand. (Examples include Sara Kingdom, Sarah Jane Smith, Leela, Romana, Amy Pond, Clara Oswald, Madame Vastra, etc.) though two that stand out in the fanbase are Ace and River Song.
  • An Aesop: The Two Doctors was an allegory about meat-eating, hunting and butchering, ending with the Doctor announcing to Peri that, "from now on it's a healthy vegetarian diet for both of us!" Writer Robert Holmes was a vegetarian.
    • There are some Aesops about inner turmoil in "Vincent and the Doctor" from the Fifth Series. The episode explains that there are differences in how different people deal with depression or anxiety (the Eleventh Doctor is shown to be more resilient than Vincent van Gogh). The Doctor also delivers a particularly touching Aesop at the end, when Amy discovers that their intervention failed to stop Van Gogh from killing himself:
    "The way I see it, every life is a pile of good things and bad things. The good things don’t always soften the bad things, but vice versa, the bad things don’t always spoil the good things and make them unimportant. And we definitely added to his pile of good things."
  • Air-Vent Passageway: Used a lot, actually.
  • Alan Fridge: Since the revival, a lot of tabloid stories have claimed exclusives on upcoming plots. It's a very scatter-gun result. It helped that the last minute or two of the penultimate episode and the entirety of the finales were withheld from press previews.
  • Alien Invasion: Both types, almost constantly. In some cases, it's not necessarily Earth that the aliens want to invade, nor is the species invaded human at all. In many future-based stories, humans are themselves the invaders. We're usually not outright malicious, but we're often quite destructive to native species, paralleling historical imperialism and colonization.
  • Aliens and Monsters: Basically contractual.
  • Aliens Are Bastards:
    • Foremost on the list are the Daleks; super-intelligent, genetically engineered, Always Chaotic Evil space Nazis encased in non-humanoid Powered Armor. They were designed to feel no emotions other than hatred, prejudice, anger and cruelty. They also experience fear but try not to show it. They are utterly fanatical about their own inherent superiority, to the point where civil wars have broken out amongst them if factions start displaying minor differences, and have chosen death when "contaminated" by foreign DNA. Their goal is nothing less than to ex-term-i-nate all life in the universe (and, once, the multiverse). They often tend to find themselves dealing with Earth, which they hate. (But what don't they hate?)
    • The Cybermen were alternate humans, from Earth's twin planet Mondas who, in an example of Cybernetics Eat Your Soul, converted themselves into emotionless cyborgs. They are exclusively concerned with the survival of their race, and the best way to do that is to forcibly convert humanity into them. That they are a direct threat to mankind means that they have also sought to destroy them, or sizeable chunks, in the distant future when we manage to successfully fight back. In the revival, the Cybermen were reinvented as originating from a more advanced parallel Earth. Created by a man desperate to transcend the limitations of his crippled body, these Cybermen see their mission as "upgrading" humanity in a perverse attempt to free mankind from physical deterioration and emotional pain. However, the revival's "Cybus Cybermen" have, as of series 6 and beyond, been giving way to different Cybermen closer to the classic design, which Word of God has established as descendants of the original Mondasians.
    • The Time Lords were a race of supposed non-interventionists who were (until the Last Great Time War), in the worst interpretation (Depending on the Writer), really a controlling, elitist, and stagnant race of Sufficiently Advanced Aliens who, as their name suggests, had mastered Time Travel, amongst other technologies. They had decent members, notably the Doctor himself, but they throw up plenty of maniacs like the Master and the Rani, not to mention their insane founders Rassilon and Omega... As the Time War drew to a bloody close they became a race of Omnicidal Maniacs who were ready to put an end to time itself in an effort to avoid ultimate defeat, which means they last showed up as a villain race.
    • The Sontarans are an entire race of Expendable Clone Blood Knights who are engaged in a 50,000 year war with their foes the Rutans. They have no particular hatred of Earth and only want to achieve victory in their war, though they enjoy it when we fight back because War Is Glorious.
    • The Weeping Angels are ruthless in their pursuit of prey. They have completely ruined lives by sending folks back in time... if they didn't just kill them outright.
  • Aliens of London: The Doctor speaks with an accent. Which accent depends on the incarnation. The original series Doctors mostly tended towards Received Pronunciation, Seven sounded Scottish, Eight sounded Liverpudlian, Nine Mancunian, Ten had the accent of Estuary London (as opposed to the actor's native Scottish accent), Eleven had a Northampton accent, and Twelve sounds Scottish again. Lampshaded in the first episode of the revival, in this bit of dialogue:
    Rose Tyler: If you are an alien, how comes you sound like you're from the North?
    The Doctor: Lots of planets have a North!
  • Aliens Speaking English:
    • Justified due to Translator Microbes. Mostly. The TARDIS is said to feature a psychic translation facility (mentioned in "The Masque of Mandragora", "The End of the World", "The Christmas Invasion", "The Fires of Pompeii" and "Cold War"), but it seems to rely on the Doctor's conscious presence to complete the "circuit," as it has been shown not to work when the Doctor is unconscious or out of range.
    • Other examples, such as the Daleks, the Slitheen and Matron Cofelia are explicitly speaking English (whether they've learned English or are using different Translator Microbes is never made certain; the Daleks, however, have been demonstrated speaking different languages when appropriate, such as German in Germany).
    • The Judoon in "Smith and Jones" are shown using alien technology to learn English in moments, after initially speaking their own alien language.
  • All Myths Are True: And they're all aliens. Vampires, werewolves, witches, ghosts, the yeti, the Loch Ness Monster; even the devil is an alien.
  • The Alleged Car: More like "The Alleged TARDIS" though it's in even worse shape by the 2005 series. He's had it for several centuries, and it was already ancient when he got it, yet it's still immensely powerful and advanced, even by alien standards. In "The Eleventh Hour," however, the TARDIS regenerated along with the Doctor and seems to be in a bit better shape. One person (rather than the designed six) piloting it doesn't improve its poor state and Explosive Instrumentation either.
    • Inverted with Bessie, the Doctor's car from his UNIT days. It's an antique roadster that looks like it should be pathetically slow. It's not, and the Doctor has rigged it with enough exotic devices to make James Bond green with envy.
  • All There in the Manual: Between 1964 and 1994, all but a half-dozen storylines were adapted in novelisation form. In the pre-VHS era, and at a time when reruns were rare (especially in the UK) and a large number of stories had been deleted from the archives, the novelisations were the only way fans could experience past storylines and learn aspects of continuity (although all lost episodes still exist in audio form, this still applies to a degree today). Some writers (especially those who were allowed to adapt their own scripts) also were able to provide additional backstory and other information not seen on screen. Most famously, the term "regeneration" was introduced in a novelisation several years before it was actually uttered on screen.
    • In recent years, writers for the revived series have taken to expanding on backstory and explaining story points away from the series itself in ancillary works such as The Brilliant Book and The Doctor: His Lives and Times, leading to fan debate over whether the information should be counted as canon, even though it's Word of God.
  • Alphabet News Network: In the new series, if the Doctor is on Earth in the present day facing a potential global threat("World War Three", "The Poison Sky", "The Power of Three") expect an appearance by American news-reader Trinity Wells with AMNN.
  • Alternate Landmark History: It boasts a wide collection of 'explanations'; enough to warrant its own section on the page as well as providing the page quote. The throwaway lines are examples.
  • Alternate Universe: Oddly enough, not extensively used. There are alternate universes in the Who multiverse—one Classic Series Story Arc took place in one called "E-Space" and the story Inferno has a Mirror Universe, and the Russell T Davies era has at least two, a Zeppelins from Another World universe and an alternate timeline world centered on Donna Noble in "Turn Left"—but travel between alternate universes seems to be extremely difficult (compared to travel in time and space, creating and controlling a black star, making dimensionally transcendental ships...) and very dangerous.
    • Although the Doctor states that it used to be easy to do before the Time War; since then, though, the universe(s) don't seem to like letting the travel occur.
  • Always Save the Girl:
    • The Doctor, particularly Ten, puts his companions (who are usually, if not always, young and female) before anyone else. Also the new Doctor Who series suggests that his companions represent his humanity in a universe full of mass death, as seen in "The Fires of Pompeii" when Donna convinces him to go back for one family among all those destroyed in Pompeii. It's mentioned some times that he feels responsible for them because it's his fault that they are in danger, since he brought them to wherever it is they are. The Doctor has sacrificed two of his regenerations for a girl now.
    • Then you have Rory:
      The Doctor: All of creation has just been wiped from the sky. D'you know how many lives have now never happened, all the people who never lived? Your girlfriend isn't more important than the whole universe.
      Rory: ''(punches him) SHE IS TO ME!
    • The Eleventh Doctor also saved both Amy and Rory by dropping them off back home, having finally gotten Genre Savvy enough to realize the danger he puts them in. Temporarily.
    • Amy and River are gender-inverted examples. River will rip the entire universe apart in order for the Doctor not to be killed, and Rory is the only thing that convinces older!Amy to defy all laws of time. It definitely runs in the family.
    • See how many Eleventh Doctor examples we've got up there? Well, in one of the many moments of stark contrast to Eleven's era, the Twelfth Doctor's opening episode—"Deep Breath"—averts the trope and has The Doctor actually abandon Clara with the clockwork droids. Clara shows some ingenuity and quick-thinking, but she doesn't really have a chance. The Doctor does come back, but for a moment, it isn't clear that he will.
  • Ambiguously Human: Many Doctor Who stories set on planets other than Earth contain no indication as to whether completely human-looking guest characters are meant to be Human Aliens or residents of off-Earth human colonies.
  • A Nazi by Any Other Name:
    • The Daleks, of course. They're very fond of shouting, violent threats and talk about racial purity and "extermination". They get painted as Nazis IN SPACE. This is not surprising, since the Daleks themselves were one of the few Nazi-esque villains who were explicitly meant to be substantively Nazi-like, as opposed to just generic Nazi symbolism to make sure the dimwitted know when to boo. A more overt Nazi reference comes in "The Dalek Invasion of Earth" (1965) where the Daleks refer to the destruction of the human race as "the Final Solution" and greet each other by jerking their plungers upwards. It was nicely lampshaded in the 2008 episode "Journey's End" where Martha teleports to Germany to play her part in activating the Osterhagen Key, and Daleks can be heard shouting in German "Exterminieren!"
    • The Kaleds, ancestors of the Daleks, wear black military uniforms very close to the standard Nazi uniform, complete with faux-Iron Crosses at the neck and give Roman salutes with heel clicking.
    • Then there's the new British government that shows up in the For Want of a Nail timeline of "Turn Left". By the time the immigrants are being shipped off to "labour camps", WWII survivor Wilf knows exactly where it's going.
    • The alternate timeline Britain in "Inferno" is even more obviously run by Nazis.
  • Acting for Two: In The End of Time Part 1 Everyone on Earth (with a few exceptions) Turn into John Simm's Master
  • Ancient Astronauts: Earth has been visited a lot over its history. At this point, it's hard to think of a religion that the series hasn't had aliens meddling in at some point.
  • Animate Inanimate Object: The Nestene Autons and the Weeping Angels. The Weeping Angels are a strange example; they only move when no one is looking at them (except for that one occasion in "Flesh and Stone"), making it more like short range Offscreen Teleportation.
  • Anyone Can Die: Unless someone happens to be a historical figure (and even then...), there is a good chance they will die before the end of the episode. The Doctor and his companions are not immune to death, either.
  • Apocalypse How: The earth, the galaxy, the universe and the cosmos are always doomed. In "The Big Bang", the Doctor inadvertently destroys and then reboots the universe as if it were no big thing.
  • Arc Symbol: The crack in series five of the revived series, which appears at least Once an Episode. Notably, it is exactly the same shape everywhere it appears.
  • Arc Words: A staple of both the Russell T Davies and Steven Moffat eras.
    • Series 1 had the phrase Bad Wolf. It's Rose Tyler after staring into the heart of the TARDIS.
    • Series 2 had Torchwood.
    • Series 3 had various mentions of a Mr Saxon, evidently a public office figure running for Prime Minister. Who is later revealed to be the Master.
    • Series 4 was chock full of them, tied together by a theme of things disappearing. First there was talk of vanishing bees, then planets, then moons, and finally Wilfred's "the stars are going out." This all turned out to be due to the Daleks and their planet-stealing operation. Occasionally the phrase "Medusa Cascade" appeared as well; the season finale ended up taking place there. Unusually, Series 4 also had arc words specific to each of the two main characters. The Doctor had "she is returning," while Donna Noble had the thoroughly unsettling "there's something on your back." In addition to that, The Doctor also referred to The Shadow Proclamation on several occasions before it was properly revealed.
      • The Series 4 specials had "Something is returning" and "He will knock four times" (the latter being tied to the Doctor's death). In "The End of Time", we learn that the "something" is Gallifrey, and the knocking turns out to come from Wilf, who's trapped in a box that's about to be irradiated unless the Doctor gets in the adjoining box and takes the radiation flood himself.
    • Series 5 had "cracks" which is spoken often but also emphasized visually. Near the end most episodes, after the Doctor had left, the camera would linger on some part of the scenery where a mysterious crack similar to the one that appeared in the first episode of the series had appeared, later revealed to be a result of the TARDIS exploding on June 26 2010. The cracks played a more prominent role in some episodes than others.
    • Several times in Series 6, a hatch opens in a nearby wall, revealing woman with a silver eyepatch, who says a few words to Amy and vanishes. It's Madame Kovarian, who has abducted the real Amy and is trying to steal Amy's baby to raise as a Laser-Guided Tykebomb.
    • Eleven's era has its own arc words: "The Pandorica will open" and "Silence will fall." Expanded upon in series 6 to "Silence will fall when the question is asked."
    • Series six adds "Tick-Tock goes the clock." It's the first verse of a recurring nursery rhyme. The second verse changes each time but always refers to the Doctor's impending death.
    • Perhaps the biggest arc words spanning the whole series is: "Doctor Who?" It is also the question that will be asked, the question that has been hiding in plain sight, where "Silence will fall." And then it gets played with, lampshaded, and ultimately subverted in season 7. The Doctor's true name is never revealed, and is explicitly stated as unimportant. What matters is the name he has chosen.
    • Series 7 has "Run, you clever boy. And remember." They're the last words of Clara Oswin Oswald, who has died twice in two different lives, each time with the same last words. Trailers aired after the 2012 Christmas special and in March 2013 revealed they were invoked at least twice more in Series 7.
    • Series 8 so far has used The Promised Land as an arc word.
  • Armored Villains, Unarmored Heroes: the Doctor and his companions are always wearing normal Earthly clothing, while monsters like the Daleks and the Cybermen are heavily armored.
  • Artistic License - Biology:
    • The weird scorpion monster that Professor Lazarus transforms into is said to be an evolutionary possibility that humanity rejected long ago but has remained locked in the genes, or something along those lines.
    • Another episode had the Doctor discovering an underground lair full of cloned humans infected with, in his words, "EVERY DISEASE IN THE UNIVERSE." They didn't die since all the diseases kept each other in equilibrium but if they touched you, you died instantly and painfully. How did the Doctor cure these poor souls? Why, he doused himself in ten or so intravenous solutions designed to cure the diseases, then transmitted the cure by touch. One of these diseases, called "petrifold regression", turns you into stone.
    • In "The Hungry Earth" while explaining that the Silurians aren't aliens, he calls them 'Homo Reptilians', which implies that reptillian aliens are the same genus as mammalian humans, which is impossible in Real Life.
      • Arguably justified since it's a tradition for the "Silurians" or "Eocenes" or whatever to get stuck with a name that doesn't actually make sense. The Silurian period was before the dinosaurs. The Eocene name was meant to correct this, but the Eocene period was after the dinosaurs went extinct.
    • "Planet of the Ood" has Mr. Halpen constantly downing hair tonic which turns out to be Ood-secretions that TURN HIM INTO AN OOD. Complete with the external forebrain, which can apparently break through the hard palate to come out his mouth.
    • In "Daleks in Manhattan", the Daleks are using a giant lightning rod to power their genetic experiments. Okay. The Doctor mixes his own DNA into the results by hugging the lightning rod as it's struck by lighting. Whu? DNA is conducted by electricity now?
    • The classic episode "The Invisible Enemy" beggars description. The Big Bad is a prawn-shaped space virus which spawns... let your imagination fill in the blanks.
    • Some of these could be handwaved in one of three ways: 1) The TARDIS doesn't give a literal translation of the Doctor's biobabble, it instead renders something the companions can understand, even if it's wrong. 2) The Alien physiology/technology in question could work differently from our understanding. 3) The Doctor makes it up cause it sounds cool.
  • Ascended Fanboy: Real-life examples abound, especially in the revival era, with David Tennant, John Barrowman and Peter Capaldi all being longtime, avowed fans of the show before they were cast. (Capaldi even wrote articles for DW fanzines in the 1970s.) Inverted in some cases, with Matt Smith, who had only minor knowledge of the show before he was cast as the Doctor, going on to become a major Doctor Who geek by the time he fully began the role.
    • Even further with David Tennant, Peter Davison was his favourite Doctor. Guess whose daughter he married, Guess who his father-in-law is.
      • The Doctor's daughter became the Doctor's wife after playing the Doctor's daughter and finally gave the Doctor a daughter. no Kidding.
  • An Ass Kicking Christmas: The Christmas specials, often with a side-order of Soapland Christmas.
  • Auto Kitchen: The food dispenser in the Tardis.
  • Aww, Look! They Really Do Love Each Other:
    • River Song and the Doctor can get this vibe, since especially in some of the Doctor's earlier meetings with her, he spent a lot of it directing insults at her and feeling out-of-sorts.
    • "Let's Kill Hitler" is loaded with these moments for the Doctor and River, despite the fact that she's technically not even there. Early in the episode, the Doctor keeps making reference to River and from this, a new character immediately picks up on how much he really cares about her. And then, when dying, he gives Melody a message to give River and her response is "I think she knows." Made all the more poignant by the fact that Melody discovers a few moments later that she is, or will become, River.
    • Later versions of River and the Doctor. The two flirt, fight and she even claims she "hates [you]"; he knows better and flirts, fights and tells her that she doesn't, even checking out her ass in Angels of Manhattan.
    • Done in Tear Jerker fashion between Pete and Jackie Tyler in Father's Day. Despite all the bickering, jealousy, and hostility expressed by Jackie in this episode, she has one Last Kiss with Pete...just before his Heroic Sacrifice.
    • The TARDIS and the Doctor. Many, many, many times! She may be older than old can be, broken, falling to bits and unreliable, but he loves her, often affectionately calling her "old girl" and is furious when she has a hole put into her and when she is injured by a gunshot; he may be mad, occasionally heartless, often changeable, never the same (due to his regenerations) and often smacks her with a hammer (in his 9th and 10th incarnations at least!) but when the TARDIS gets a body (that makes sense in context!) she outright states "what makes you think I'd ever give you back?" and that she deliberately felt the Doctor coming and left her doors unlocked, despite being an obsolete museum piece at the time - she wanted to see the stars... and the Doctor was just mad enough to take her. She also states that, though she doesn't take him where he wants to go, she does take him to where he needs to be. Which explains why he always randomly ends up right in the middle of an dire situation that only he can solve.
    • Done in Tear Jerker fashion too; when her body fades and she has to return to her box form, the TARDIS's last words to the Doctor are "I love you." The Doctor even mourns her return to the box.
    • The TARDIS gets another one when, finally, she allows herself to be ripped open and allows Rose to look into her heart to save the Doctor. Being ripped apart could easily destroy the TARDIS, but leaving the Doctor to the Daleks is unacceptable.
    • Amy and Rory: the two may bitch and snark, and even get close to divorce before the Doctor meddles and fixes it, but the two do truly love one another.
  • Backdoor Pilot
    • The 1996 TV movie was explicitly conceived as a pilot for a potential series, but it was not promoted as such.
    • As of 2014, the Paternoster Gang (Madame Vastra, Jenny, Strax) have appeared in no less than five episodes, each of which can be interpreted as backdoor pilots for a potential spinoff. However, the trope has so far been averted due to the fact the while the fans and the actors want a spin-off, thus far neither Steven Moffat nor the BBC have shown any interest in elevating the trio beyond recurring status.
  • Back for the Dead:
    • The Master. Three times.
      • Also, Davros. note 
    • Technically applies to the Sixth and Seventh Doctors. Colin Baker was invited back to film the opening scene of "Time and the Rani" in which the Sixth Doctor "dies" but said no (instead, incoming Doctor Sylvester McCoy donned a wig for the scene); years later, McCoy reprised the role of the Seventh Doctor in the 1996 TV movie with the sole purpose of his Doctor being "killed off" and replaced by Paul McGann's Eighth Doctor.
    • As of the 50th Anniversary, Paul McGann reprised his own role in "The Night of the Doctor" only for the character to suffer fatal injuries less than halfway through.
  • Bad Ass: The Doctor himself, of course. He's the Gallifreyan equivalent of Chuck Norris.
  • Badass Crew: Collectively, the Doctor's companions, as noted by Davros, are The Children of Time.
  • Badass Family: If a companion's family gets decent screentime (as is fairly common in the revival), being around the Doctor more or less forces them to become this.
  • Badass Normal: Quite a lot of the companions fall into this, particularly since the 2005 reboot.
    • Jenny Flint, a Victorian chambermaid who ends up married to Vastra, an ancient Siluriuan lizard woman, and masters hand-to-hand combat, sword fighting, and the art of wearing skin-tight leather armour under her maid's uniform.
  • Batman Gambit:
    • Twice in series 5, the freakin' Daleks pull one on the Doctor.

      First, in "Victory of the Daleks", they let him declare himself as the Doctor and identified his enemies. This was exactly what the Daleks wanted, as their Progenator wouldn't recognize their spoiled DNA. They needed their oldest and most powerful enemy to tell the Progenator who they were, setting off the creation of a new bigger, badder, and technicolor Dalek race. Nice Job Breaking It, Hero....

      Then, in "The Pandorica Opens", they let the Doctor fall straight into the Pandorica, supposedly trapping him for good.
    • The Seventh Doctor is a master Chessmaster setting up all the pieces and having his enemies and friends effortlessly go where he wants them to go in order to save the day... at first glance. However, many of the TV stories involving this aspect of his character end up revolving around the sudden realisation that something is happening that he didn't actually plan for (such as two factions of Daleks seeking out the Hand of Omega rather than one), or someone does something that he didn't expect, necessitating a frantic run-around as he desperately tries to improvise some stop-gap solution to get things back on track.
      Doctor:I don't suppose you've completely ignored my instructions and secretly prepared any Nitro-9, have you?
      Ace: What if I had?
      Doctor: And naturally, you wouldn't do anything so insanely dangerous as to carry it around with you, would you?
      Ace: Of course not. I'm a good girl and do what I'm told.
      Doctor: Excellent. Blow up that vehicle.
    • The Tenth Doctor is taken to task by Davros for doing precisely this. Davros points out to the Doctor that he makes a big point of how pacifistic he is, while at the same time manipulatively turning those around him into the kind of people who will blow up their own planet to stop an invasion.
    • The Tenth Doctor is pretty fond of this — feigning ignorance and getting himself captured so he can be brought face to face with the bad guy of the week. Ninth plays around with it too — "I'm really glad that worked. Those would have been terrible last words."
    • The Eleventh also pulls one on several characters in Series 6. One of whom was himself. This makes it either extra clever, or cheating, depending on point of view.
  • Bavarian Fire Drill: The Doctor does this a lot. Psychic paper helps... unless the viewer happens to be psychic enough to see through the illusion, like everyone working for Torchwood, or intelligent enough, like William Shakespeare. Though lies too big will actually break it, as seen in "A Christmas Carol", when it refuses to say he's "widely acknowledged as a mature and responsible adult".
  • BBC Quarry: Filled in for dozens of planets over the years. Subverted in The Hand of Fear, in which the TARDIS arrives in what turns out to be an actual quarry.
  • Bear Hug: The Doctor tends to do this a lot to his female companions, sometimes lifting them completely off the ground and/or spinning them around before putting the surprised companion down. Nine has done this to Rose, Ten has done it to Donna, Martha, and Rose, and Eleven has done it to Clara, complete with spinning.
    • Rory to Amy, despite them being about the same height.
    • Ten also managed to do it with Sarah Jane, at the end of "School Reunion".
  • Been There, Shaped History: This would take a long time to list, but if it was important, either the Doctor or one of his companions may have caused it.
  • Belief Makes You Stupid: Religion has rarely come off particularly well in Doctor Who and the series contains many examples of people worshipping things like mad computers or empty spacesuits in the mistaken belief that they were gods.
    • Averted, however, in other cases, such as "The God Complex" which treated a character's Muslim faith with respect. And the Doctor has made references to being present around the time of events associated with both Christ's birth ("Voyage of the Damned") and resurrection ("Planet of the Dead").
  • Berserk Button:
    • Piss off the Doctor at your own peril, especially when you threaten his friends.
    • The TARDIS - yes, you did read that right - has one too (she's sentient). Trap the Doctor in a time loop type thing and it will manage to get through, it has flown into missiles and decapitated Daleks; it has even materialised around the Doctor of it's own accord. And it can get jealous, as Clara has discovered.
  • Beware the Nice Ones: The Ood are an alien race practically made of this trope. In theory they are the natural pacifists of the universe, but virtually every time they appear in an episode some outside force drives them homicidally insane through no fault of their own.
    • Definitely applies to the Doctor, depending on what incarnation is present, most notably the Second, Fourth, Fifth, Seventh, Eighth ... to heck with it — all of them.
  • Big Bad: The revival series manages a couple.
    • The Daleks have been, and always will be the ultimate enemy of the Doctor, they have been around since the very first series, have been directly or indirectly involved with the plot of almost every season, and have returned endlessly despite the Doctor's continuous attempts to eradicate them. In the words of the Tenth Doctor "They survive, they always survive when I lose everything." However, they fit this role the best fit this role in the Eleventh Doctor's finale where all of the Doctor's enemies had gathered together to put an end to the Doctor, but the Daleks came out on top and were determined to be the one to put an end to the dying Time Lord, and very nearly succeeded in doing so.
    • The second series kicked off with the equally megalomaniac John Lumic and his version of the Cybermen. The season finale featured the return of Cybermen, now led by a generic Cyber-Leader, but they spend half the time competing with Dalek Sec and the Cult of Skaro.
    • The third series did show a two-part re-appearance of the Cult of Skaro, but it's ultimately The Master that takes center-stage by the finale.
    • The fourth season finale had Davros and his resurgent Dalek empire, but Davros is just a representative this time around, while the Supreme Dalek is the one calling the shots.
    • The Tenth Doctor's finale had Rassilon the Lord President (his actual title) of Gallifrey. He revealed the malevolent, psychotic Master was just a pawn and that he and the Time Lords themselves were the true Big Bads, and nearly succeeded in ending time and all of creation itself.
    • The Silence, a religious order primarily made up of creepy make-you-forget-they-exist aliens and Large Ham lackeys, look to be the Big Bad of Eleven's era. They were an unseen man-behind-the-man villain in series 5, causing the cracks in time that almost erased the universe from existence and drove most of that series' villains away from their homes and towards the Doctor. They made their onscreen debut in series 6 with a convoluted and almost-successful assassination attempt on the Doctor, and returned for Eleventh's final episode.
    • In season 7, the Great Intelligence becomes a recurring villain and is revealed to be the reason the Doctor goes to Trenzalore and must speak his name there. It's also the reason Clara is forced to create copies of herself; to save the Doctor from the Great Intelligence corrupting his personal timeline.
    • In the classic series, the Black Guardian was the Big Bad of two separate story arcs: The Key to Time arc and what was later known as the Black Guardian Trilogy.
    • Also in the classic series, the Valeyard was the Big Bad of season 23 (The Trial of a Time Lord). Depending on how far you want to stretch the definition, the Master might qualify as such from season 8 and 9, as well (making him the show's first Big Bad).
    • In the Seventh Doctor era Fenric may count as the Big Bad, having manipulated events in Dragonfire and Silver Nemesis before appearing in The Curse of Fenric.
  • Bigger on the Inside: The TARDIS is, if not the Trope Namer, then definitely the Trope Codifier, to the extent that the word "Tardis" can apparently be found in some dictionaries defined as "something which appears to be much larger on the inside than on the outside".
    The Fourth Doctor: That's because it's dimensionally transcendental.
    Companion: What does that mean?
    Doctor: That means it's bigger on the inside than it is on the outside.
    • Leave it to Clara to buck the trend.
      Clara Oswald It's smaller on the outside!
  • Big Labyrinthine Building: The TARDIS.
  • Binary Suns: The Doctor comes from a binary star system.
  • Bizarre Alien Biology: Any number of critters, not least of which is the Doctor himself—he can do things like regenerate, re-grow hands, and absorb radiation, transform it into a form harmless to humans, and expel it through his foot. Oh, and he has two hearts.
  • Bizarre Alien Psychology:
    • Time Lords have the ability to psychically connect with other advanced, telepathic beings. They can also wipe minds and put images into someone's head by concentrating and touching them. At one point the Doctor downloads his backstory into someone's mind by head butting him. They have a higher brain function than humans and can process way more at a time: understanding the nature of space-time is basically instinctive.
    • The Ood are a telepathic race that are linked by a telepathic song translated by a hive brain. They have a secondary brain which they hold in their hands at all times. Manipulating their main brain, cutting off their outer brain, and replacing that brain with a translation orb can give the them the appearance of seemingly being cattle-like, happy servants.
  • Bizarre Alien Senses: The Doctor has some kind of "Time Sense" relating to whether or not an event is irrevocably supposed to happen. He has also been shown to be able to slow down his own perception of time. In addition to that, he can taste and smell a host of things that humans can't (such as the blood group in a sample of blood). He can also detect if there are any others of his race nearby, nearby refers to the "Entire planet"
  • Blatant Lies: From the Villain of the Week to the Doctor himself, you can usually find at least one example of this per an episode. The Doctor's abuse of the psychic paper has become so egregious it sometimes outdoes the sonic screwdriver. Perception filters range from generating an Unusually Uninteresting Sight field to outright sensory illusions.
    • Lampshaded in one episode where the psychic paper doesn't work and the Doctor says that it finally found a lie too big to say (namely, that the Doctor was a responsible baby-sitter).
  • Blonde, Brunette, Redhead:
    • The Tenth Doctor's main companions fit this, with Rose (blonde), Martha (brunette), and Donna (redhead).
    • The Third Doctor's companions as well, with Jo (blonde), Sarah Jane (brunette), and Liz (redhead).
    • The Eleventh Doctor's female companions, River (blonde), Clara (brunette), and Amy (redhead). (As there is some debate over whether River was a true companion, one may also strike the word "female" and substitute blond Rory for River.)
  • Bloodless Carnage: Usually. A few stories have gotten pretty gory - The Brain of Morbius featured a pretty graphic blood squib when Condo gets shot, and the sheer bloodiness of Season 22 may have contributed to the show's first hiatus. As a family show, the series mostly shies away from graphic violence. Due to the BBC's current attitudes, the show has been far less violent after its return than before its cancellation, though the classic series' violence was often undercut by its endearing phoniness.
  • A Boy And His TARDIS: The core premise of the show. The Doctor stole his TARDIS from a museum and ran off to see all of everything ever, and save most of it from something else. "The Doctor's Wife" (Nu Who Series 6) tells us that it's just as much "A TARDIS and her Boy", as she claims she "wanted to see the stars", stole him by leaving her doors unlocked and that what made him "think I'd give you back"? The phrase "A boy and his box - off to see the universe" is also uttered in the episode.
  • Brainwashed and Crazy: Given how long running the series was it was inevitable this trope would crop up. In fact virtually every Doctor and companion underwent this trope or the milder brainwashed trope at some point in the series as well as guest characters in some stories.
  • Brick Joke: One that spans several seasons. In "The Shakespeare Code", when Queen Elizabeth I sees the Doctor, she immediately orders his execution. Martha asks him what he did, and he says that he hasn't done it yet. Fast forward to "The End of Time", in which the Doctor offhandedly mentions that he married Queen Elizabeth (and implies that they consummated it) while putting off his meeting with Ood Sigma. "The Day of The Doctor" revealed the circumstances leading up to their wedding, involving Zygons and a past & future self, while hinting at a possible reason for her anger at him later in life.
    • And another one that took three decades to land: in The Hand of Fear the Doctor assures Sarah Jane he left her in South Croydon despite the fact she doesn't recognize the street. Fast forward to School Reunion. Turns out he left her in Aberdeen, 570 miles away.
  • Britain Is Only London: Considering that the TARDIS can travel anywhere and anywhen in the universe, a disproportionate number of episodes in the Russell T Davies era take place in present-day London. (As well as near-future London, 1953 London, 1969 London, 1987 London, Elizabethan London, London in the Blitz and Victorian London.)
    • Averted in Steven Moffat's first series, series 5, where of the six stories set in the UK, note  only two are London-based. Two of series 6's seven stories set or partially set in UK also take place in London, and even then, neither are as the central focus. Moffat's production staff have lampshaded that focusing action on London has started to be a cliché.
    • Also averted to a degree in Christopher Eccleston's run as the Doctor; while all of his season was set on (or in orbit around) Earth and most of it in England, two episodes, "The Unquiet Dead" and "Boom Town" took place in Cardiff, setting up the Cardiff Rift, and indirectly setting up Torchwood.
  • Broad Strokes: The series abandons and introduces new concepts and twists on old concepts that were never previously mentioned, and often never mentioned again. Big as it is, the series can get away with this easily. And occasionally throwaways are subject to The Bus Came Back — with said bus sometimes coming back decades later.
  • Broken Bridge: Any time the Doctor isn't given a compelling emotional reason to respond to a threat, or is faced with a threat that he could easily solve by loading everyone into the TARDIS and flying away, said threat will find a way to separate him from the TARDIS so he can't leave until he deals with it.
  • Bunny-Ears Lawyer: The Doctor. A complete list would be too long.
  • The Bus Came Back: has been invoked with occasional companions making return visits and even earlier incarnations of The Doctor. A select few companions (i.e. Sarah Jane, Martha, Rose) even begin Commuting on a Bus during the revival era.
  • Camp: The classic series is retrospectively looked at as this, especially the Nathan-Turner years. Davies also deliberately added his own camp moments when he was on the show.
  • Cardboard Prison: Stormcage, where River is incarcerated. She escapes so often that they go on high alert whenever someone sees her packing. At one point, she phones them to cancel the alert; she's breaking back in, not out.
  • The Cast Showoff:
    • Jon Pertwee jumped at any excuse during the show to show his interest and skill in motor vehicles of any sort. Consequently, he was the only Doctor to drive motor vehicles (Bessie and the Whomobile) on a regular basis.
    • Early on in his run, Sylvester McCoy would show skills of his from his old vaudeville act, such as playing spoons. As the show got Darker and Edgier, and as the Doctor's character became more complex, such displays were discarded.
    • Averted on several occasions: for example, despite having Kylie Minogue appear in a Christmas episode with a song interlude ("Voyage of the Damned" and song being "The Stowaway"), she is never called upon to sing; Billie Piper similarly was allowed to do straight acting and not have to sing; and with a few exceptions, Catherine Tate was allowed to tone down her comedic acting and play Donna Noble straight.
    • Probably the only reason to have the Eleventh Doctor playing football.
    • Katherine Jenkins, whose character Abigail Pettigrew's voice was pretty much a Chekhov's Gun.
  • Catch Phrase: Nearly every Doctor has at least one. See the List of characters.
  • Cat Folk:
    • Several characters in the episodes set on New New Earth. Referenced and Lampshaded in another episode:
      Roger Davey: It [the cat flap in the door] was here when I bought the house. I never bothered with it, really. I'm not a cat person.
      The Doctor: No, I've met cat people. You're nothing like them.
    • The Cheetah People in "Survival".
  • Character Development:
    • The First Doctor started off as someone who'd, in a moment of desperation, tried to bash in a injured man's skull in, to escape the present danger. He was stopped by a Human who called him on this, even though he was someone the Doctor had belittled as beneath him until then. This might explain why all of his later companions are mostly Human, because they do stop him, when he goes too far. Russell T Davies and Steven Moffat's runs seem to embrace this interpretation.
    • Some companions also get their fair share. Notable examples from the revived series include Jack Harkness, Donna Noble and Rory Williams.
  • Check and Mate: While the Doctor is frequently bluffing or stalling, when he isn't, you're already doomed. Run!
  • Chekhov's Boomerang: The Doctor's Hand is an extremely persistent one.
    • "The Christmas Invasion" (Dec 2005), it gets chopped off in a swordfight above Earth. It is (at some point) picked up by Captain Jack.
    • Torchwood, Series 1 (2006-07), Jack has a mysterious hand in a container for the entire first series.
    • "End of Days" (Torchwood) /"Utopia" (Jan/June 2007), Jack hears the TARDIS and sees the hand respond (bang), grabs it, and joins the Doctor.
    • "The Sound of Drums" (June 2007), The Master uses the Doctor's DNA (from the hand) in order to age him to reflect how old he actually is (bang).
    • "Last of the Time Lords" (June 2007), The Doctor takes back his hand and leaves it in the TARDIS.
    • "The Doctor's Daughter" (May 2008) the hand detects Time Lord DNA and the TARDIS transports Donna, Martha, and the Doctor to Messaline so he could be cloned creating his "daughter" Jenny and close the Stable Time Loop the hand detecting Jenny before she existed caused.
    • "Journey's End" (July 2008), After being shot by a Dalek, the Doctor sends his regeneration energy into the hand and continues his adventure. Unknown to him, the hand grows into a full clone of the Doctor and imbues Donna with the Doctor's mind, effectively creating three Doctors, two and a half years after the hand was first cut off. (BANG)
    • The hand itself wasn't seen, but the ramifications of its last use were brought up again in "The Time of the Doctor" (December 2013) when it turned out that the creation of the clone Doctor actually used up one of the Doctor's regenerations even though he didn't change his face- therefore, the "Eleventh Doctor" is actually on the 13th and last life of his regeneration cycle.
  • Chekhov's Gunman:
    • Harold Saxon
    • Wilfred Mott, who was introduced as a newspaper seller, rather than as Donna's grandfather.
    • Lucy Saxon
  • The Chessmaster:
  • Christmas Episode: "The Feast of Steven", the first (and, until New Who, only) episode to air on Christmas Day, which had no continuity to the main serial The Daleks' Master Plan. In New Who, an annual series of specials, which between 2005 and 2009 doomed London (usually, but not always present day London) in some way. Aliens also threaten the Earth in 2012's episode, though it's not the primary plot.
  • Chronically Killed Actor: A Running Gag example: Geoffrey Palmer has appeared in three Doctor Who stories, and been killed off early on in all three.
  • Cliff Hanger: The 1963-1989 show was celebrated for the cliffhanger endings of each episode, usually with the exception of the last of a story. From 1970 on, these were intensified by the famous "sting" at the beginning of the theme tune, which could make even the limpest seem hugely dramatic. During the very early seasons, there were frequently even cliffhangers between stories, something which was also occasionally experimented with during the early eighties. The revived series generally only has cliffhangers in the middle of two-part stories, or occasionally leading from the last self-contained episode into the Season Finale.
  • Clone Army: The Sontarans are an entire race of this. They're all clones of a general who lived 10,000 years ago. (With the conceit of there being different clone batches being added later to explain the use of different actors.)
  • Color-Coded for Your Convenience:
    • Because the TARDIS is blue, that colour is often associated with the Doctor, especially the Tenth, who wore a blue suit as often as his brown one and whose sonic screwdriver had a blue light.
    • The Fourth Doctor's coat would change depending on the "genre" of the particular serial. The yellow-brownish one was more for adventure, red for action, and grey for horror or mystery.
    • In the Fifth Doctor's first season, the boys are in yellow and the girls are in purple.
    • As the Seventh Doctor was growing Darker and Edgier his coat changes from a light whitish colour to dark brown.
    • Since the Ninth Doctor, the time vortex is blue if the TARDIS is going backwards in time, and red if it is going forward.
    • The Eleventh Doctor's coat, much like the Seventh Doctor's, is a much darker color after the events of "The Angels Take Manhattan".
    • Clara wears predominantly red in episodes in which she dies. If she dies only temporarily, is in a brief coma etc. she wears some red.
  • Comic Book Adaptation: Marking 50 years of continuous publication by one publisher or another, the Doctor Who strip is the longest-running comic adaptation of a TV show in history. It began in 1964 in the UK weekly magazine TV Comic, and a separate Daleks strip was also launched at one point for the Gerry Anderson magazine TV Century 21. The two strips then merged as Dr. Who and the Daleks for several years until the creator of the Daleks withdrew the rights. The Who strip later moved on to TV Action, until 1979 when Doctor Who Weekly (now Doctor Who Magazine) was launched, and that has been its home ever since. DWM strips were later reprinted by Marvel Comics as a monthly US comic in the mid-1980s, and from 2007 to 2013 US publisher IDW Publishing produced numerous series based on the franchise. In 2014, Titan Comics took over from IDW. Meanwhile, another UK magazine, Doctor Who Adventures, has published hundreds of installments of a comic strip aimed at younger readers since 2006.
  • Commuting on a Bus: During the revival era, several companions have made occasional return visits after departing, with three in particular - Sarah Jane, Martha and Rose - almost graduating to recurring status (Sarah Jane throughout the 2006-2010 era, Martha and Rose during Series 4).
  • Conqueror From The Future: The Master, the Daleks, and several others over the years.
  • Constellations: The Doctor claims that Gallifrey is (or was) in the constellation Kasterborous.
  • Conservation of Ninjutsu:
    • In "Dalek", a single Dalek manages to wipe out an entire base full of trained elite soldiers (and is only defeated because it decides to destroy itself). More recent episodes have seen entire armies of the supposedly terrifying and insurmountable space-Nazis regularly thwarted by a combination of technobabble and genetic wizardry.
    • In-universe, it's strongly implied that the lone Dalek was moments from being thoroughly blasted by the Doctor, and vast armies of Daleks are treated as the end of the world rather than Mooks. In practice, the trope is fully in effect, though this seems to be more a case of the Doctor being able to beat the Daleks each time they appear regardless of the numbers even though they are a tremendous in-universe threat. Pretty much every time the Doctor isn't present or isn't really invested in their enemy surviving ( aka when Daleks fight the Cybermen, both were enemies and if either survived the survivor would take over the world) the result is that the Daleks pretty much curb stomp their opponent with the only real exception being the Time Lords themselves who were still losing. The Cybermen lose easily, and let's not forget that it took minutes for them to subdue Earth in spite of tremendous preparations specifically for this eventuality.
      Rose: Five million Cybermen, no problem. One Doctor? Now you're scared."
  • Continuity Drift:
    • Even the main character's name has been subject to this: The original treatment, and early scripts and end titles, are not at all clear about the idea that the Doctor's name is not "Doctor Who". This wasn't firmly established until later, though thankfully retconning was kept to a minimum as only one single character - a computer - ever referred to the Doctor on screen by the name "Doctor Who" (WOTAN in "The War Machines" (1966)).
    • The Daleks could almost have their own page for this. In the original encounter, the Daleks had been living in their underground city for only a few hundred years, waiting for the radiation from a nuclear war to fade, only to discover their mutated forms needed radiation to survive. Their self-created "travel machines" could only operate on powered metal surfacesnote , and even in-story stuck to smooth surfaces, ramps, and elevators. They were cold and cruel, but by no means super-intelligent. They were defeated in the Doctor's first encounter, before they had a chance to ever leave their city. By the time the new series got into action, they had become computer-integrated, universe-conquering, flying battle machines. It has to be noted that several of these Dalek Stories take place at different points in their timeline. In the first few episodes, the Doctor was dealing with Daleks native to present days/the 22th century; The later ones are usually encountered in (or come from) the distant future. Technology Marches On for the Daleks, too.
    • The Cybermen didn't achieve their trademark appearance until the Second Doctor serial The Invasion, their fifth appearance, and only gained a weakness to gold dust in Revenge of the Cybermen. Silver Nemesis as well as the 11th Doctor episode Nightmare in Silver both flanderized this into an extreme weakness to all forms of gold.
  • Continuity Porn: The Day of the Doctor, as the 50th anniversary episode, has lots of continuity because that is what anniversary episodes are there for. Trailers for it have even more.
  • Convenient Replacement Character: When a companion leaves, the Doctor usually picks up another one either in the same story, or the following one. Considering that he frequently meets one-shot characters who have the potential to be companions, it's not entirely unexpected that vacancies in the TARDIS are usually filled quickly.
  • Cosmic Retcon: The 'Time War' which happened offscreen while the series was on hiatus effectively wiped the Time Lords, the Daleks and Gallifrey from history.
  • Couch Gag: In the first half of Series 7, the main logo is now colored differently each episode based on the Monster of the Week.
  • Cowboy Bebop at His Computer: It's become generally accepted, by fans and production alike, that The Doctor's name is not "Doctor Who", but the media doesn't seem to know this. Even the end titles sometimes list the character as "Doctor Who". (That last is less egregious of an error in early episodes, when the name distinction wasn't firmly established yet.)
  • Creator Thumbprint: Eric Saward's scripts and tenure as script-editor tended to involve a lot of gritty, hard-edged mercenaries and space marines, to the point where it started to seem that he was more interested in writing those characters than the Doctor and his friends at times.
  • Creepy Changing Painting: The Weeping Angels are the statue version; by biological necessity they only move when you can't see them but then move very very fast.
  • Creepy Children Singing: A recurring motif during the second half of New Series 6, particularly the episodes "Night Terrors", "Closing Time", and "The Wedding of River Song", is creepy children singing a foreboding nursery rhyme with verses that change to suit each episode.
  • Crew of One: Rarely has the Doctor had a companion who could fly the TARDIS, or do much of anything besides simple button-pushing. And on the occasion a companion or foe does pilot it, it's still just the one. Though in "Journey's End", the Doctor pointed out that a TARDIS is supposed to be piloted by six people at once, and the reason it has so much Explosive Instrumentation going on is because the Doctor isn't quite filling in perfectly for the other five - though the fact it runs at all is probably proof that he's just that good.
  • Critical Staffing Shortage: In one episode it is established that the TARDIS is designed to be flown by six Time Lords at once, not by a single Time Lord. This is supposed to be the reason why the TARDIS doesn't always go where (or when) The Doctor wants it to go.
  • Cruel Mercy: The Doctor is very, very good at this.
  • Crystal Spires and Togas: Gallifrey, usually, and several other alien examples. Gallifrey may be a subversion; the crystal spires and togas help hide the stagnation and decay of Time Lord culture: a sufficiently advanced alien society that has rested on its laurels for ten million years.
  • Curtain Call: Has had this happen twice.
    • In the episode "Journey's End", all the previous companions from the past 4 seasons return to help the Doctor save the universe.
    • In the episode "End of Time, Part 2", which was the final episode of the Tenth Doctor, the Doctor travels around to bid everyone goodbye.
  • Cuteness Proximity: The Doctor is this with K9.
  • Cut Short: No less that four actors (Sixth through Eighth Doctors) have been the Doctor and didn't complete their character arc on TV:
    • Colin Baker, who had part of his tenure eaten up by a 18-month hiatus imposed by then-BBC controller Michael Grade, who had an axe to grind with the show. He later went a step further and made sure Colin was ejected from the role in 1987. Colin had less than three years on Doctor Who because of this. His story arc was halted, but Big Finish filled in the missing greater half of the Sixth Doctor's life.
    • Because of the show's cancellation in 1989, Sylvester McCoy's tenure never played out entirely, including the "Cartmel Masterplan" that would have been a very enlightening story arc for the Seventh Doctor. The Doctor Who New Adventures and the Doctor Who Magazine comics offer conflicting paths for how McCoy reaches the end of his life in the 1996 TV movie.
    • Paul McGann Only got to be the Eighth Doctor on screen for one story in 1996 and was graciously invited to film a minisode in 2013 to regenerate his Doctor, but he's become a lot Darker and Edgier. This is because his Doctor's entire life in between the scant screentime has been dictated by Big Finish Audios in lieu of his denied medium on TV, and was made canonical as well.
  • Dark Secret: Everything about the Doctor.
    Reinette: Doctor? Doctor Who? It's more than just a secret, isn't it?
  • The Dark Side: Season 23, The Trial of a Time Lord, has The Valeyard as the ultimate villain. He turns out to be an evil version of The Doctor from his own future (mistakenly thought by some, in-universe, to have come from between the 12th and 13th incarnation) trying to steal The Doctor's remaining regenerations and become an independent person. The Master helps The Doctor defeat him without any prompting or reward beyond being able to live in a universe that doesn't contain The Valeyard.
  • Dead Alternate Counterpart: Inverted in the alternate universe featured in series 2, where Rose's dad and Mickey's gran are both still alive. The Doctor and Rose don't have counterparts at all (apparently the Time Lords don't exist in this universe, and Rose's parents never had kids, though they do have a dog named Rose); Mickey's counterpart... well, he starts out alive...
  • Death by Origin Story: A number of companions of the Doctor have ended up traveling with him after their close relations died, usually as Back Story (making them Conveniently an Orphan) occasionally as shown onscreen:
    • Vicki's father was killed in a massacre just prior to the events of her debut story, "The Rescue".
    • Sara Kingdom was tricked into assassinating her own brother in "The Daleks' Master Plan", but died herself at the end of the story.
    • Victoria Waterfield's father died fighting the Daleks in "The Evil of the Daleks".
    • Adric lost his brother to the Marshmen in "Full Circle" and, with him, any reason for staying with his own people. When Adric himself died at the end of "Earthshock", he was seen holding his brother's belt in his final moments.
    • Nyssa lost two family members as a result of the Master's machinations in "The Keeper of Traken". The first was her stepmother, whom the Master manipulated, then killed once he had no further use for her. Then, the Master killed Nyssa's father and took over his body; this was followed soon after by the destruction (in "Logopolis") of Nyssa's home planet.
    • Tegan Jovanka's aunt was murdered by the Master in "Logopolis".
    • For a viewer who begins watching from the beginning of the new series (2005) this trope could also apply to the entirety of the Time Lord race.
    • Technically the regeneration of one Doctor into another is a Death by Origin Story, since the previous Doctor has to die for the new one to be born.
    • A really odd example, Clara Oswald's two alternate deaths is really the only reason the Doctor made her a companion.
  • Death Is Cheap:
    • The Master has died on-screen without regenerating no less than three times. It's never stopped him from coming back for more. The show doesn't even bother to explain why his possessed Trakenite body is alive again in "Mark of the Rani", after burning to death in Planet of Fire.
    • The Russell T Davies era saw "The end of the Daleks" no less than three separate times, and yet everyone's still surprised when more Daleks show up. They wised up after a bit—out of those three "ends of the Daleks," two happened in series 1. After that, they made a point of ensuring that at least one member of the Cult of Skaro survived each encounter, until Russell T Davies decided to go out with a bang and did them in again at the conclusion of series 4. Naturally, this meant Steven Moffat had to go and dig them up again, but he's been careful to keep them alive since.
  • Death Ray: Everywhere.
  • Deconstruction: Since its reboot in 2005, the show has been gradually deconstructing itself. The Doctor is, as always, an eccentric man with a saviour complex whose mystique both entices and frightens people, and these traits have increasingly tended towards tragedy for him. It started with realistic problems finding their way into the story, like a companion's family assuming that she has died, and the emotional consequences that followed. And it got worse. Russell T Davies assaulted the idea of the Doctor himself in "Midnight", in which all of the Doctor's normal methods of controlling a situation backfire entirely, and he is almost killed as a result. Soon after, in "Journey's End", he is shown his "true colours" when his companions are prepared to destroy themselves and the Earth if need be to stop the Daleks' plan.
    • Steven Moffat has since deconstructed the Doctor's Memetic Badass status - it's satisfying to watch the odd monster of the week wet themselves when they realize who you are, but it makes others do desperate, terrible things to get the edge on you. On a meta level, Moffat has integrated the show's title - which previously had little to no bearing on the plot - as a core element of his greater story arc. Characters now mercilessly ask The Doctor who he is, both innocently and spitefully, and the Doctor is forced to reflect on the use of his chosen name and what it means to different people - whether they seem him as a healer, or as a warrior, or as monster - and associating the name with that. Moffat's scripts also emphasize the fact it was a chosen name; we still don't know his real name, and it's explicitly stated by the Doctor himself that his real name is unimportant, it's what his chosen name stands for. This is reflected in his darkest secret; a previously-unknown past incarnation of the Doctor who ended the Time War by supposedly committing double genocide; the present Doctor refused to associate his name with him.
  • Demoted to Extra:
    • After Jack Harkness left the TARDIS and subsequently joined Torchwood, he made return appearances in the third and fourth series' season finales. Similarly, both Martha and Rose returned for the series 4 finale (along with Martha making prior guest appearances in both Doctor Who and Torchwood) after officially "leaving" their roles of companion.
    • Interestingly, they're not seen as being treated unfairly though technically qualifying for this trope. In the old days, past companions seemed to not exist anymore, even when they'd travelled with the Doctor for a long time, or taken part in important events. The new series avoids this. After Martha's departure, Powers That Be got much smoother at finding where characters who were no longer with the Doctor (but should still be around when we visit present-day Earth) belonged.
    • Roger Delgado's incarnation of the Master. In his first season of Doctor Who, the character turned up in every single serial, from Terror of the Autons to The Daemons. Then, Delgado, while enjoying the show, became concerned that while officially a guest star, many casting directors considered him a de facto regular cast member of Doctor Who and therefore unavailable for other work. So in the next season he dramatically scaled back his appearances, with an eye to making a splashy departure the following season. Due to his untimely death in Turkey, the character was quietly retired for a time.
  • 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. As the story of the Pandorica illustrates, he's also the more imperial races' idea of an Outside-Context Villain.
    Doctor: The most feared being in all the cosmos. And nothing could stop it, or hold it, or... reason with it. One day it would just drop out of the sky and tear down your world.
  • Distress Ball: The Doctor's companions tend to carry these around a lot. The Doctor himself points it out in the episode "The Empty Child", muttering about how he always tell them not to wander off alone and how they never listen. Lampshaded often, including in The Two Doctors:
    Second Doctor: Now Jamie, stay with me, don't wander off.
    Jamie: Do I ever?
    Second Doctor: It has been known.
  • Distressed Damsel and Distressed Dude: The Doctor, in varying degrees throughout all his incarnations; most if not all of the companions, whether male or female, at some time or another; assorted bystanders of both sexes. Seriously, having someone taken prisoner or menaced by the Monster of the Week is one of the standard plots.
  • Divine Chessboard: In whole-season spanning story arc The Key To Time there were the White and Black Guardians.
  • Driving Question: "Doctor who?" It's been asked an ungodly number of times, and as of series 6, it's the oldest question in the universe, hidden in plain sight, and must never ever be answered. "Silence must fall when the question is asked."
  • During the War: The Time War and World War II are only the obvious examples.
  • Early-Installment Weirdness: The show was originally conceived of as a strictly children's program with a strong educational component. Several early episodes take place in a "real-world" historical setting, with the only "sci fi" element being how the characters got there. The Doctor is prone to making speeches about how things work (though only if it serves the plot; he only ever breaks the fourth wall once, to wish viewers a Merry Christmas in a 1965 episode). This has all but disappeared even a few seasons in, with it becoming a pure adventure show. The last purely historical storyline, The Highlanders, aired in 1966, though a one-off return to the format, Black Orchid, appeared in 1982.
    • To elaborate, the Doctor was originally intended to be a borderline antagonist that kept getting the heroes into trouble. Indeed, in the second episode he almost brains a caveman to death with a rock, only to be stopped by Ian at the last second. It was Ian who was intended to be the show's main protagonist, and his and Barbara's professions (teachers, the former science and the latter history) are clear indicators that it was supposed to be an Edutainment show. Susan was to represent the viewing audience.
    • In particular, have a look at the pilot episode, which was later remade in its entirety. Had it been retained, the programme would have been rather different. Details at
    • Even some signature elements of the Doctor didn't even exist with the First Doctor, at least not on screen. Sonic Screwdriver? Second Doctor. Working with UNIT? Second Doctor. Two Hearts? Third Doctor. The ability to regenerate (usually) just twelve times? Fourth Doctor. The word regeneration to describe the changing of a Time Lord's appearance? Third Doctor. And while the very first episode established that the Doctor and Susan weren't native to Earth, we didn't even know what species and civilisation the Doctor and Susan came from (the Time Lords) until the Second Doctor or the fact they came from Gallifrey until the Third Doctor.
  • Earth-Shattering Kaboom: Earth is destroyed on-screen in the episode "The End of the World", but nobody in that era makes a big deal out of it... because it's five billion years from now, Earth's destruction was long overdue anyway, and humanity has abandoned it long before.
    • In the season finale episode "Journey's End", the Daleks prevent Martha Jones from using the Osterhagen Key doomsday device. Just as well.
    • This happens in the show too many times to count. Not always with Earth, but with a planet inhabited by humanoids. Gallifrey, for instance, goes boom in the new series, and in The Invasion of Time, the Sontarans threaten to blow it up.
    • And in The Pirate Planet, the eponymous planet destroys other worlds by materialising around them, stripping them of their resources and shrinking them down to the size of a basketball, after which they are displayed in the captain's trophy room.
    • It's the plan in The Dominators.
  • Eldritch Abomination: Many villains are these. The Doctor beats them anyway.
  • Epic Hail: Whether it's his old companions hailing the Doctor, the whole population of Earth hailing the Doctor, the Time Lords hailing the Master, or Rose Tyler hailing herself, the Russell T Davies era loves to put an Epic Hail in his season finales. Series 2 is the only one he missed.
  • Eternal Hero: As a hero who saves the world in different ages, on different planets, and in different incarnations, The Doctor is a certifiable hero of mythological scope.
  • Everyone Calls Him Barkeep: The Doctor. (Actually, this seems to be a pattern for renegade Time Lords — see also the Master, the Rani, the Monk, ...)
  • Everyone Is Bi: 51st-century humans ("So many species, so little time.")
  • Everything's Better with Spinning: The Eleventh Doctor's second control room has a lot of neat spinny bits - lights around the room, rings above and below the console, and probably more.
  • Evil Colonialist: This is a type of villain who crops up frequently.
  • Evolving Music: The theme tune over the years.
  • Expanded Universe: A huge one. The rabbit hole can literally be said to be endless, because each spinoff has its own spinoff, which ties into other spinoffs... etc. There are at least two hundred original novels covering all eleven Doctors, hundreds upon hundreds of audio dramas made by Big Finish and other audio companies covering all possible Doctors, companions and villains, and decades worth of comics, Web Original content, two Alternate Continuity theatrical films and even several theatrical productions. Several of the Doctor's EU companions who have become well-known among the fandom, and a few characters — such as Kate Stewart and Joan Redfern — have actually made their way into the TV series. See Doctor Who Expanded Universe for more.
  • Explosive Decompression: Exceptions. Several times.
  • Exposition Beam: The Doctor, Eleven in particular, has the interesting ability to mind-meld information into other people's heads without having to explain it verbally, or the target having to be conscious, or even alive at the time. In cases of emergency, where a lot of information has to be imparted very quickly, The Doctor will opt to HEADBUTT the person in question, rather than simply mind-meld with them!
  • Exposition of Immortality: Doctor Who does this all the time. Whether it's a serial Big Bad being outed as an alien who's been on Earth for centuries or the Doctor himself's longevity via regeneration. Encounters with recurring enemies the Cybermen and the Daleks frequently went hand in hand with a montage of past episodes or declamations by either side about their past encounters. It's a little confusing due to time travel being involved, but the Doctor definitely qualifies, as he himself keeps on aging in between encounters, and there's often several hundred years for both him and his enemies between each confrontation.
  • Extra Dimensional Shortcut: The Time Vortex is a fifth dimension the TARDIS can travel in. Within episodes the Doctor tends to use it to travel in short hops, leaving longer distances in both space and time for between adventures.
  • Extra-Strength Masquerade: During Classic Who. New Who (and by extension The Sarah Jane Adventures and Torchwood) seem to have stopped this. As series 5 and 6 have few-to-no contemporary invasions, it's difficult to judge if they're continuing this.
  • Faceless Goons: Many of the aliens, including Sontarans, Judoon, Sycorax, and the reboot's Silurians.
  • Fake Defector: Adric. Unfortunately, he does this so many times (including in "State of Decay", "Four to Doomsday", and "Kinda") that the fandom regularly mistakes him for "always siding with the villain."
  • Family-Unfriendly Death: The show is well known for having ostensibly started off as a somewhat educational sci-fi series that would be fun for the whole family... but quickly led to the tradition of kiddies hiding behind the couch. From Dalek Death Rays, to being eaten alive by a giant spider-thing, to having your blood sucked out of your neck through a straw, almost every other adventure brought a new and painful way to die.
    • Two fairly notorious examples from the classic episodes would be a guard falling into a pool of acid in Vengeance on Varos (mostly notable because the Doctor seems to make a mean-spirited quip about it afterward) and Kane, the low-temperature-lifeform villain in Dragonfire, exposing himself to direct sunlight, resulting in his face melting off, Raiders of the Lost Ark-style (one of the few occasions on which the series' special effects managed to be memorably gruesome).
  • Fan Service Pack: Nyssa and Tegan both changed their looks to get more attractive during the Fifth Doctor's second year.
  • Fantastic Racism:
    • In "Utopia" the homophobia version is used when the Doctor is uncomfortable around the time-travelling omnisexual Captain Jack Harkness, not because of his sexuality, but because he finds Jack's immortality to be "just wrong".
    Jack: So what you're saying is, you're, uh...prejudiced?
    The Doctor: ...I never thought of it like that.
    Jack: (smiles) Shame on you.
    • The Doctor shows his dislike of true immortality in earlier serials as well. For example, in The Brain of Morbius, he blasts the Sisterhood of Karn for using an elixir to extend their lives because they've completely stagnated, and says that regeneration is preferable because it brings change. This attitude seems to be shared by other Time Lords, who use the same elixir as medicine, but not to prevent their final death.
    • This is the entire premise of the climax of "The Five Doctors". When they encounter the Tomb of Rassilon and Borusa is condemned to eternal stasis as the price of true immortality; the First Doctor clearly knew what the fate of anyone who sought such immortality would be, and states that Rassilon knew that "immortality is a trap", and therefore set up his game to ensnare anyone who actively sought it.
    • The best example in Doctor Who is the Daleks, especially since Terry Nation based them on the Nazis. Also, Genesis of the Daleks, shows that on pre-Dalek Skaro, the Kaleds (the race that became the Daleks) and the Thals hated each other, and both of them hated the mutants, to the point that the Thals (who were usually shown as pacifist allies of the Doctor) used them as slave labor.
      • The Daleks' commitment to their own racial purity was demonstrated in "Victory of the Daleks". The older, less "pure" Daleks willingly allow themselves to be disintegrated by the newly created Daleks made from the pure DNA in the Progenitor device.
      • In the first season of New Who, the Daleks have been reborn from human DNA, and hate themselves as much as humans. It's stated that this prejudice makes them even more angry at the world, in the manner of the stereotypical homophobic gay person.
      • The Daleks in audio drama "Blood of the Daleks" go out of their way to destroy a group of Daleks created from humans, despite these Daleks considering themselves Daleks and being willing to work with the original Daleks.
      • Averted in "Daleks in Manhattan" and "Evolution of the Daleks" in which Dalek Sec decides that the only way for Daleks to survive is to merge with humans, which the other Daleks were disgusted by. After splicing himself with a human, he gains a conscience realizing everything wrong with the Daleks, and wants to end them himself. Which in the end he sacrifices himself to save the Doctor
    • On a more comical note, the series 4 finale had this gem.
    • The Silurians, the reptilian original rulers of Earth, call humans apes and have often tried to wipe them out. However not all Silurians are like this and often the humans are shown to be just as racist towards the Silurians.
    • The Ninth Doctor also calls humans 'stupid apes' from time to time, although his feelings towards the human race are generally affectionate and he notes them a couple of times to be one of his favourites. He's presumably frustrated by human behaviour because he loves the species so much. Which is a bit racist as well.
    • During the Eleventh Doctor's retirement in Victorian England in The Snowmen, he displays a lot of this towards his Sontaran ally, insulting his race's looks and suggesting Sontarans are entirely stupid, directly to his face.
  • Faster-Than-Light Travel: Just about every spaceship shown, including the TARDIS which is essentially Faster Than Time.
  • Females Are More Innocent: The original show ran for a quarter century and had a large number of villains yet in that time period only about 10 were women, and only one or two of them appeared in the show's first 15 seasons.
  • Feudal Future: Various planets the Doctor's landed on, from time to time.
  • Fingertip Drug Analysis: The Doctor's Bizarre Alien Biology lets him taste things safely...including human blood. "Planet of the Dead" goes further; he can sense traces of cities and mountains in the ravaged world of San Helios' sand. In "The Eleventh Hour", he can tell the exact age of a shed by licking it. In "Day of the Moon", he can tell where the TARDIS-blue envelopes from the previous episode were made from licking.
  • Fix Fic:
    • Over the course of 30 years, nearly every TV storyline was adapted into novelisations. This often allowed writers - especially those who wrote the original scripts - to revise and enhance elements of their stories in ways that couldn't be done when they were broadcast. The most extreme case was The Massacre, where the original writer novelised his first draft of the script, ignoring all the changes later made at the producers' request. In recent years, Audio GO has put out audio book readings of many of these novelisations; at least two (as of 2013) have been brand-new, rewritten works crafted for audio by the original scriptwriters in lieu of the original novels which were written by house writers.
    • A blog once rewrote the entire Colin Baker era in order to "correct" the influence of Eric Saward, whom the writers despised.
      • Read what's been finished here.
    • After the second season finale of the new series, the internet was flooded with Fix Fics of Rose escaping the Alternate Universe in which she was trapped so she and the Doctor could return to making googoo eyes at each other. Became canon with the fourth season finale. That same finale, however, spawned its own flood of Fix Fics with Donna regaining her memories.
    • After "The End of Time", another kind of Fix Fic emerged which repaired both it and "Journey's End" in one fell swoop; when 10 regenerates, his mind/soul doesn't die. Instead it gets transferred into the body of 10.5, bringing 10 back to life and reuniting him with Rose. Both of these lead to a lot of Fan Dumb territory, especially due to the massive Hype Backlash with Rose.
  • Flat "What.": Shows up from time to time.
    • Pretty much a catchphrase for the Tenth Doctor.
    • One example: at the end of "Time Crash", when the TARDIS crashes into the Titanic.
    • Amy would appear to have a taste in these, such as in "The Eleventh Hour", when she sees the hidden door in her own house.
    • There are dueling Flat Whats when The Doctor first meets Donna Noble.
  • Fleeting Demographic Rule: Female companions are rather unfairly associated with the Screaming Woman stereotype, so the revival team keeps reminding people not to think that about the latest companion.
  • Flying Saucer: Several, although the most classically-presented 'flying saucer' design among alien spacecraft seen are those used by the Daleks.
  • Foreshadowing: Many, many, many times.
  • Forever War:
    • Sontarans versus the Rutans. It's been going on for 50,000 years as of "The Poison Sky", and is still going at least 10,000 years after that in The Sontaran Experiment with no end in sight. Both sides are perfectly fine with this.
    • The Kaled-Thal war went on long enough to turn Skaro into a wasteland and reduce both sides to archaic weaponry - then came the Daleks.
  • For the Funnyz: Leave it to the Doctor to make quips and resort to measures with an amusing/ironic edge.
  • For Want of a Nail / In Spite of a Nail: Occasionally even in the same adventure.
  • Forgot About His Powers: The Doctor (or perhaps the writers) seems very prone to forget that he is a Telepath, although this often also varies based on incarnation. The Fourth Doctor demonstrated Hypnotic Eyes (just like the Master) on occasion, but this ability has not been used by later Doctors. The Tenth Doctor used telepathy on a number of occasions, but conspicuously did not do so in a number of cases where it would have been useful (such as the murder mystery "The Unicorn and the Wasp").
  • Free-Love Future: By the 51st century, the home time period of Captain Jack and the adopted time period of River Song, humans will do it with anything.
  • Furry Fandom: The cat people in "New Earth"/"Gridlock". Not subtle at all with Brannigan (A cat person) having married and had kittens with a human.(Refer to the trope above) The expanded universe novel "The Pirate Loop" has a race of futuristic humanoid badger pirates.
  • Future Me Scares Me: Like the I Hate Past Me example, past or present incarnations of the Doctor note  have been known to find their future selves anywhere from mildly annoying (I.E. First, Second, and Third Doctors to each other, particularly the Second and Third quarreling all the time without the First as a mediator, the War Doctor viewing the Tenth and Eleventh Doctors in disbelief that they will succeed him because of how childish he is, the Ninth Doctor getting into an alleged argument with the Seventh Doctor on a campus) to downright terrifying (I.E. Tenth Doctor reacting to Eleven's blatant forgetfulness of significant Time War events, the Seventh Doctor to just about every other incarnation because of his role as The Chessmaster, etc.) or charming and quite pleasant to get along with (I.E. The Second and Sixth Doctors, the Eighth Doctor's view of the Fifth Doctor compared to his next two selves, etc.). And some of them could be just plain hit or miss (the Fourth Doctor, being a wildcard- his other selves either took to him or got really agitated).

  • Gambit Pileup: Common in stories involving the Master and/or the Daleks. Over the decades, the entire history of Earth has started to look like one - it formed in the first place because the Racnoss needed somewhere to hide for a few millenia, and a horde of different outsiders (Scaroth, the Daemons, the Exxilons, the Osirians, the Silence) have attempted to guide human development for their own ends.
  • Gambit Roulette
  • Gender Bender: It was hinted that regeneration can do this in The End of Time, and confirmed in "The Doctor's Wife", in which the Doctor mentioned that this has happened to another Time Lord, the Corsair, on several occasions.
  • Genre Roulette: borderline Genre-Busting at times. It did so even more in the era of William Hartnell, who played the First Doctor, before the series had quite settled into its format. As showrunner Steven Moffat put it: "Sometimes it's comedy, sometimes thriller, sometimes horror, sometimes children's stories, the silliest stories you've ever seen. Sometimes it's all that in the same episode." On the Nerdist podcast, Matt Smith praised the format for not being bound by "logic, time, space, or genre."
  • Genre Savvy: All of London. The Doctor finds her streets vacant on Christmas Eve one year not because of something sinister but because there have been two previous sinister Christmas plots in London on consecutive years and the citizens weren't about to try their luck a third time.
  • A Good Name for a Rock Band: Many things in the Whoniverse sound like really good band names. The show itself has spawned its own genre of music: Trock or TRock (Time Lord Rock). Some of the more famous bands who take Doctor Who references as a name are surely Chameleon Circuit and The Cult of Skaro, but a whole list of Trock bands can be found here.
  • Good Old Fisticuffs: Largely averted by the Doctor, as he rarely throws a punch. Notable exceptions include Jon Pertwee, who would on occasion show off some of the judo he learned as a member of British Naval Intelligence in World War 2; and Tom Baker, who decked a guy in his very first serial.
  • Gotta Catch Them All:
    • The six pieces of the Key to Time.
    • Subverted Trope in "Last of the Time Lords" where Martha talks about having to travel around the world to collect the four hidden pieces to a gun that could kill the Master and prevent him from regenerating. When the Master catches her and reveals that he knows her plan, she laughs at him and says, "You really believed that?" Turns out the whole thing was a bluff and her actual plan was something else altogether.
    • The eponymous Keys of Marinus.
  • Government Agency of Fiction: UNIT and Torchwood, among others.
  • Great Offscreen War / Götterdämmerung: The Time War, taking place at a scale so epic it broke space and time. Ten million Dalek ships versus the full power of the Time Lords, with things with names like "the Nightmare Child" and "the Could-Have Been King" appearing out of the crossfire. It ended with the Doctor setting fire to both worlds, and now it's just him, the Master (sometimes) and whatever Dalek remnants are still out there.
    • Subverted as of "The Day of The Doctor"; we have seen the final moments of the war.
  • The Great Repair: The plot of various episodes.
  • Guile Hero: The Doctor's primary weapon is his wits. This applies to most of his companions, too.
  • Guns Are Worthless: Especially egregious during the UNIT era. Guns are utterly, hilariously, ludicrously useless against almost anything even slightly non-human UNIT encounters.
    • Played straight in "The Sontaran Stratagem" as the titular bad guys have a way of expanding the copper in bullets and causing guns to jam. Quickly and awesomely averted in "The Poison Sky" when UNIT switches to bullets without copper.
  • Half-Arc Season: The revival has Arc Words and references galore, but keeps the average episode fairly stand-alone. This can be slightly awkward when instead of just mysterious words, the Doctor keeps running into the cracks of a universe-threatening explosion.
  • Have We Met Yet?: Occasionally in effect due to the Timey-Wimey Ball causing the Doctor to meet various Companions in the wrong chronological order. By the time of his Tenth and Eleventh incarnations, he often resorts to simply bluffing his way through these types of situations.
    Tenth Doctor: I'm rubbish at weddings, especially my own.
  • Helmets Are Hardly Heroic: Until 2012, UNIT never wore helmets, or even body armour.
  • Heroes Love Dogs: An odd example, but K-9.
  • Heroic BSOD: The Tenth Doctor is seen to do this on a couple of occasions (most notably "The Stolen Earth") when his insane ingenuity has failed him and he can't think of anything to do—he simply stands there, motionless, his face blank and fixed. It's fairly creepy, in fact.
  • Heroic Fantasy IN SPACE!: An alternative interpretation, especially after the 2005 reboot. The new series focuses on a Space Wizard who defeats monsters with his companions as they travel through time and space. The way Time Lords and time itself are portrayed, they're really just magic. The only thing it avoids is the Two-Fisted Tales slant, replacing right-crosses and brute strength with clever wit and amazing problem-solving. And a sonic screwdriver.
  • Heroic Sacrifice: Extremely, extremely common. At least half the Doctor's Regenerations have been this.
  • Hidden in Plain Sight: The first Question. By which, we mean it's hidden in the series' title.
  • High-Tech Hexagons: The insides of the TARDIS walls often have a hexagonal pattern on them, and the TARDIS console is hexagonal.
    • Although one toy manufacturer got it wrong and marketed a pentagonal version.
    • In the "pilot episode" version note  of An Unearthly Child Susan Foreman is demonstrated to be unearthly by...making an inkblot inside a hexagon.
  • Hijacked by Ganon:
    • One loses track of how many serials open with a seemingly original villain who turns out to be a pawn of the Daleks, the Cybermen, the Sontarans, or the Master. Or sometimes more than one of them (and sometimes they hijack each other). The production team would later admit that they overdid it in the eighth series (which introduced the Master), making him the primary villain in all five serials.
    • Done twice in "Frontier in Space", in which the Ogrons are quickly revealed to be working for the Master (in Roger Delgado's last story before his death), who turns out in the final episode to have been working for the Daleks.
    • In the new series, it turns out the Daleks were leading the Mighty Jagrafess into manipulating the Human Empire's population. Subsequently, they were behind the Gamestation's gathering of humans for their deadly game shows. Then the Cybermen hijacked Torchwood, the Master hijacked Harold Saxon (by being him), and the Cybermen, Daleks, Sontarans, and a few others hijacked the Pandorica. Yup, still going strong.
    • In Season 7, the Great Intelligence being behind everything would count as this. Turns out the villains in the Christmas special and the Bells of Saint John were just The Dragon to him.
  • His Own Worst Enemy: The Doctor himself, whenever he is close to being happy. In the new series he tends to self-sabotage himself.
    • The War Doctor, for the way he ended the Time War.
    • Nine, while trying to look like a confident man and even retaining his cool at the worst situations, was hiding a great deal of guilt over his actions in the Time War as seen in the Dalek episode.
    • Ten was probably the closest to the dark side of the new Doctors. Three words: "Time Lord Victorious". It was so bad that he indirectly made a female captain commit suicide, and before that he gave Fates Worse Than Death to the Family of Blood. Like Donna said, he needs people to have him grounded or his path towards darkness would be assured.
    • While the Dream Lord is a case of Enemy Within, it's also this trope given that it represents the dark side of the Doctor. The Doctor even states that the person that hates him the most isn't the Master or even the pure evil Daleks but himself.
  • Historical In-Joke: Hello, it's a show with time travel... In fact, this trope is so common the jokes frequently mutate into running gags, like the one about the "Virgin" Queen.
  • Historical Rap Sheet: The Doctor was involved in the destruction of Pompeii (by stopping it and then triggering it again as a Tearjerking crossing of the Godzilla Threshold), was on the Titanic when it crashed into the iceberg, and was probably involved in other disasters too.
  • Home Sweet Home: The Doctor never evinces this, but it causes some companions to leave.
  • Homeworld Evacuation: A surprisingly consistent point of future history foretells the mass evacuation of Earth around the thirtieth century, to avoid solar flares. The Eleventh meets the Starship UK in "The Beast Below", but it comes up in other episodes as well. In addition the Fourth Doctor encounters a wheel-type space station full of sleepers in "The Ark In Space", which is set 20,000 years in the future implying that it happens more than once.
  • Hopeless War: The Last Great Time War ended up as one of these. Countless soldiers were being killed and revived in time loops, the crossfire was spawning cosmic horrors by the truckload, and the Time Lords were so desperate to survive they brought back Rassilon, whose victory plan amounted to destroying the rest of the universe so they could become beings of pure thought. The Doctor had to wipe out both sides rather than let either of them "win".
  • Human Alien:
    • Excepting some physiological differences that aren't readily apparent (the two hearts thing, etc.), Gallifreyans are indistinguishable from humans, at least on the outside. The companions Adric, Nyssa, Turlough and Astrid are neither humans nor Time Lords, but are physically indistiguishable from either.
    • Countless other alien species such as the Kaleds, Thals, Kinda, and Apalapucians are physically identical to humans. The series handwaves this in bits by saying other planets have humans on them as well, before people from Earth boldly goes.
    • Besides - technically, humans are Time Lord aliens. "They came first."
  • Humanity Is Infectious:
    • It has been theorised that this trope has happened with the Doctor to some extent, although given that his personality changes with each regeneration it's a bit hard to pin down exactly how much humanity has rubbed off on him.
    • It has happened to individual Daleks on more than one occasion.
  • Human Outside, Alien Inside: Time Lords have two hearts with a redundant circulatory system, a low body temperature, a respiratory bypass system, an ability to regenerate from death twelve times, a lifespan of potentially hundreds of years per body, and a complete additional sensorium tuned to temporal events.
  • Humans Are Indexed: Depending on the episode, especially in the Revival, the presentation of humanity flits between Humans Are Good, Humans Are Morons, Humans Are Well Intentioned But Misguided, Humans Are Bastards, Humans Are Absolutely Crazy Awesome, or any combination of the above.
  • Humans Need Aliens: As much as the Doctor thinks that Humans Are Special, humanity (and reality itself for that matter) would have have perished without his intervention long ago.
  • Iconic Item: The sonic screwdriver, especially post-2005, where it commonly appears in publicity pictures.
  • Iconic Outfit: Every Doctor's uniform is iconic of that incarnation. Special mentions go to the Fourth Doctor's scarf and fedora, and the Eleventh Doctor's bowtie (which was inspired by the Second's).
  • Identical Stranger: At least two Doctors, as well as his companions Romana and Nyssa, have met identical strangers. It's a big universe, and there's only so many faces to go around. (The Doctors' doppelgangers were both villains; Romana's and Nyssa's were distressed damsels, which is not necessarily an improvement.)
  • I Did What I Had to Do: The end of the Time War: it was established during the Ninth Doctor's run that the Doctor had ended the War by killing all the Daleks and the Time Lords, he revealed in The End of Time the reason he'd done so was that after years of war, the Time Lords had become just as vicious and brutal as the Daleks, and would have been an even worse threat to the universe.
    • The War Doctor is pretty much that line incarnate.
  • Idiosyncratic Episode Naming: Many Dalek-centric serials (mostly in the classic series, but the revival has occasionally made nods to it) have been titled "[blank] of the Daleks". The Nathan-Turner era stories used the theme of R-words like "Resurrection", "Revelation" and "Remembrance".
  • Ignore the Fanservice: Invoked numerous times as the Doctor (particularly in the classic series) appears oblivious to the appeal of the sexy females he's travelling with, most notably the scantly clad Leela and cleavage queen Peri Brown, both of whom were explicitly created as Ms. Fanservice characters. In the run of the original series, the Doctor only referred to one of his companions as attractive once (Romana, in "The Pirate Planet" and without her around). In the revival, the trope is played straight in "Flesh and Stone" when Amy tries to seduce the Doctor but he's having none of it, and later averted in "Nightmare in Silver" when the Doctor actually remarks to himself about Clara's attractive physical assets (a first for the series).
  • I Hate Past Me: In multiple Doctor stories, The Doctor has a rocky relationship with some of his former selves. In other stories where previous incarnations are mentioned, the Doctor often mentions things he disliked in his former selves.
    • In The Three Doctors, The Third Doctor and the Second Doctor have a mutual dislike. The Third didn't look too thrilled when the First Doctor showed up either. Probably because he knew that the First was going to try to take charge.
    • In The Twin Dilemma, the Sixth Doctor clearly states his dislike for the Fifth Doctor.
    • In Robot, the Fourth Doctor states that his nose is an improvement from the Third.
    • Once regenerated into the Tenth Doctor, he is extremely gleeful that he "has hair", implying he may have had some resentment towards Ninth's shaved head.
    • 11th dislikes 10th's dress sense (especially his shoes), and 10th has issues with 11th's face, but both share mutual dislike for the War Doctor, primarily because they know what he's destined to do, and regret it.
      • ultimately, however, this aspect of the trope is reversed when 10 and 11 come to respect and have affection for the maligned War Doctor when they realize he never destroyed Gallifrey after all.
  • I Lied: "Rule One: The Doctor lies."
  • Imperiled in Pregnancy:
    • Amy is once kidnapped while pregnant because the Silence's boss thinks that her unborn child could be a Time Lord. Not to mention all of the situations she ends up getting into with the Doctor, including her husband dying. Something like ten times.
    • In the episode "Amy's Choice", one fake version of Amy is pregnant and trapped in a small town with aliens disguised as the elderly (again) ready to disintegrate everyone, but mostly her family. To get away, she drives a van into a cottage. And her husband dies. Three times. In one episode.
  • Impersonating an Officer: The Doctor's psychic paper appears to the reader as whatever form of ID he requires at the time. He's done everything from a simple Bavarian Fire Drill to more involved impersonations of plainclothes law and military officers.
  • Incoming Ham:
    • Particularly in the new series, the first appearance of a Dalek in a story is almost always accompanied by the all-purpose Catch Phrase "EXTERMINATE!" Variations include "HALT! STAY WHERE YOU ARE! YOU ARE A PRISONER OF THE DALEKS!"
    • In all his appearances, The Master tends to announce himself with "I am the Master, and you will obey me."
  • Indy Ploy: All of the Doctors except the Seventh tended to use this technique.
  • In Harm's Way: The Doctor himself, and many companions.
  • Insistent Terminology:
    • In the 2007 Christmas special, Bannakaffalatta, a red-skinned, spikey alien cyborg, takes it personally when the Doctor tries to call him "Banna".
    • The Doctor in general is rather insistent that he borrowed the TARDIS, not stole it. Meanwhile, the TARDIS herself insists that she stole him.
    • Steven Taylor, one of the First Doctor's Companions, would often call him "Doc". The Doctor would demand that Steven call him by his proper name.
    • Similarly, Ace refers to the Seventh Doctor as "Professor", which, like "Doc", often irked the Doctor.
    • The classic series has 26 seasons. The revival's first series, which being a continuation should have started with season 27, instead starts with series 1. Most British shows would refer to a season as a series, so why classic Doctor Who called them seasons is a mystery.
  • Instant Web Hit:
  • Intro-Only Point of View: Both the old and the new series begin with contemporary Earth humans puzzling out the mysterious happenings triggered by the Doctor. They shift to more minor points of view. Many episodes start with the point of view of characters in the situation where the TARDIS will arrive; some do not survive the opening, and others become much less important POVs once the Doctor arrives.
  • Invisible Means Undodgeable: All of the highly advanced alien races that use visible projectiles, such as the Daleks or Cybermen, are easily avoidable. However, the Time Lords have a glove that absolutely destroys things from time. And, of course, it's both invisible and undodgeable.
  • Irony:
    • It is ironic that John Simm, the man who took the role as The Master in in order to impress his fanboy of a son, ended up forbidding him from watching the episodes in question due to their fearsomeness.
    • In-universe example: the Fifth Doctor's attempts to return Tegan to Heathrow Airport landed them on various alien planets or, in one case, in the right location but three hundred years early. Eventually he decided to stop trying and decided instead on a trip to the Great Exhibition in London, 1851. You have three guesses as to where they ended up, and the first two don't count.
    • For River Song, if she had not sacrificed her life to save the Doctor, she never would have met him and she would have never existed in the first place.
  • Ironic Echo: In the newest episode, Into The Dalek, a comment that the Ninth Doctor made comes back to bite him.
Ninth Doctor to a Dalek: The Daleks have failed! Now why don't you finish the job and make the Daleks extinct?! Rid the universe of your filth! Why don't you just die?!
Reply: You would make a good Dalek.
Capaldi's Doctor "Into the Dalek" : The Doctor: You looked inside me and you saw hatred. That's no victory. You're a good Dalek.
Reply: I am not a good Dalek. YOU are a good Dalek.
  • Jigsaw Puzzle Plot: Steven Moffat has likened the progression of the unfolding mysteries in his episodes and story arcs to putting together a puzzle.
  • Just Following Orders: A common thread of the villains and other conflict drivers of Steven Moffat's stories; usually some type of machine who takes its orders literally.
  • Killed Off for Real: This was originally intended for the Daleks in The Evil of the Daleks, but their immense popularity eventually made a comeback inevitable. They've developed a very bad case of Joker Immunity since then.
  • Kill 'em All: Usually the Doctor and his companions survive, but they have been known to depart from places where all known characters died, or there might be minor survivors in the odd corners.
  • Kinetic Weapons Are Just Better: In many new series stories, future humans seem to have taken to modified P90s as their weapon of choice.
  • Large Ham: Has its own page.
  • Leaning on the Fourth Wall: At the end of series 6, we hear of the "oldest question in the universe, hidden in plain sight". It is actually only hidden in plain sight for the viewers of the show, since it's in the title.
  • Legacy Implosion: RTD's culling of the Time Lords managed to be much more popular and longer-lasting than the average example. It helps that Gallifrey is regarded as the dullest place in the universe by both the fans and the actual characters (hence the Doctor leaving in the first place). As of 2013, Moffat has brought back Gallifrey, albeit in a pocket dimension for the time being.
  • Let's Get Dangerous: Companions are meant to do this.
  • Licensed Pinball Table: Released in 1992 by Williams Electronics, it involves the Master teaming up with Davros to destroy the Doctor by means of a "Time Expander". Click here for more details.
  • The Load:
    • Plenty of companions qualify for this trope, especially the female ones, with the most well-known examples being Tegan, Susan and Peri. The new series has thankfully avoided this, making the companions useful while still being outshone by the Doctor.
    • With the possible exception of Adam Mitchell, who borders on The Millstone, especially in The Long Game. Note, however, that for once the Doctor dumps him as soon as his status becomes clear. Also take note that Adam was only invited because of Rose's poor judgement of his character (plus it was strongly hinted that she invited him because he was in the Doctor's words, a "bit pretty"). The Doctor wasn't so sure, and the Doctor always chooses companions whom he knows without a doubt will rise to the occasion.
    • In the post 2005 series, The Doctor makes a point of refusing to allow anyone who are too small-minded or unimaginative or fearful of the unkown to join him on his adventures because he knows they would end up being The Load or The Millstone. In fact, he nearly left Rose in the wrong timeline because she came dangerously close to being The Millstone when she tried to alter the timeline by saving her doomed father in the episode "Father's Day".
    • The Doctor even pre-judged certain characters as The Load like Mickey and Amy's fiancé, Rory. Until Mickey spent the second half of season 2 in a parallel earth as a resistance fighter, and Rory spent two thousand years as an immortal auton guarding Amy in stasis inside the Pandorica. The Doctor is surprised and proud of them both for having proved him wrong.
    • Just being around the Doctor seems to have a de-Loadifying effect. Jackie Tyler was pretty much The Load in her early appearances, not so much in the later ones. Just don't let her try to help pilot the Tardis.
  • Loads and Loads of Characters: The core cast is the Doctor and between one and three companions. Supporting and recurring cast is... somewhat higher, especially when taking into account all the alien races in 30 seasons of show.
  • Long-Runner Cast Turnover: The series of course invented The Nth Doctor in order to survive 50-plus years but also rotates though a long list of the Doctor's companions; the show's time travel premise makes it fairly easy to write old companions out and new ones in.
  • Loss of Identity: Addressed at each regeneration and when he became human in "Human Nature"/"The Family of Blood".
  • Loud of War: Doctor Who has done this a time or two, with the Doctor's sonic screwdriver. Once it's plugged into a pair of speakers, he's pretty much won.
  • Made a Slave: Used both as the nasty side of nasty societies, and to justify keeping prisoners alive.
  • Made of Explodium/Explosive Instrumentation: Everything explodes, and if there's a computer, chances are it'll explode in a shower of sparks. Even the TARDIS. Especially the TARDIS.
  • Male Gaze: The Doctor's companions have consistently been attractive young women, with some dressed in, shall we say, less than practical clothing. Ya'know, considering they're running around all of time and space, often with things with sharp teeth just a step behind.
    • This [1] article covers different aspects of the issue quite well, (lovingly) using Amy Pond as an example.
  • Man Child:
    • The Fourth Doctor. Willing to go anywhere, do anything to avoid taking orders again.
    • The Eleventh Doctor plays the age card less than previous Doctors did during an argument, and seems to even forget his decrepitude at times. The War Doctor isn't amused: a senile git of a man, Eleven has retreated from his grim past into a world of childlike frivolity. This changes once he saves Gallifrey in "Day of the Doctor": He pointedly chooses to stay behind and age into an old man on Trenzalore, as if unconsciously deciding to 'grow up.'
  • Master Race:
    • The Daleks, who actually refer to themselves as "the master race" during the WWII-set Victory of the Daleks. And the Cybermen. As well as a number of less scrupulous Time Lords.
    • And the mockingly-named "Master Race" which came into being when The Master temporarily turned every human on Earth into a copy of himself.
  • Mayfly December Friendship: The Doctor is very aware of the fact that he will outlive all his companions.
  • Mayfly-December Romance: The Doctor and Rose. Jack and everyone, after a certain point.
  • Meaningful Background Event: Used a lot in the new series. It will usually be something relating to the finale of that series. Series 1 had the words Bad Wolf scribbled everywhere; Series 2 had everyone and their mother mentioning Torchwood; Series 3 had posters saying Vote Saxon; Series 4 featured various TV screens briefly showing Rose screaming and so on.
  • Meaningful Name: Stormcage Prison, with its literal Storms and Cages.
  • Mechanistic Alien Culture: The Daleks and the Cybermen are both technically cyborg races that follow this trope; particularly the Cybermen. They both have robotic voices and overlap with Transhuman Aliens. They are both obsessed with machine-like efficiency, but the Daleks are dedicated to exterminating other species (especially humans and Time Lords), whereas the Cybermen are The Assimilator.
  • Mirror-Cracking Ugly: Donna recoils, very slowly, at the appearance of Davros; when DONNA FREAKING NOBLE recoils at something, then you know it is ugly - probably the most ugly thing in the history of all ugly things to have ever earned the title of "ugly things."
    • She's recoiled at nothing before this, not even a giant spider.
  • Monster Delay: A constant feature of the show, especially since the budgets for creating the monster were usually quite low and the final reveal not very impressive.
  • Monster of the Week:
    • This show was originally supposed to be an edutainment program...until the Daleks showed up, whereupon it careened irreversibly into Monster of the Week territory.
    • Notably, the old series was made up of serials, usually three or four parts...making it more like monster of the month. Though, the new series follows this trope straight, while also including more Story Arcs.
  • Mood-Swinger: Ten and Eleven are both hyperactively manic when they're in a good mood and downright terrifying when they get angry.
  • Moral Guardians: Mary Whitehouse's campaign against the programme from 1975 and 1977 during Tom Baker's Fourth Doctor eventually succeeded in influencing the BBC to reassign then-producer Philip Hinchcliffe and order his replacement to tone down the levels of horror and violence.
    • Because of Whitehouse's objections, one cliffhanger ending was cut out of the episode's master tape. Fortunately copies survived and it got put back for the DVD.
  • Muggle and Magical Love Triangle: Rose between the Doctor and Mickey.
    • Revisited with Amy between The Doctor and Rory. The Muggle wins!
  • Mundanger: Although the earliest episodes alternated between science-fictional and purely historic episodes (the series started out as an educational show, you see), it soon evolved into a purely sci-fi show. The only post-'60s episode to feature a completely mundane threat was the Fifth Doctor story Black Orchid.
  • The Multiverse: The show is a bit tricky. There are alternate timeline-style universes, like the fascist universe of Inferno, or Pete's World from "Rise of the Cybermen"/"The Age of Steel"; post-the Last Great Time War, it's potentially multiverse-destabilising for a TARDIS to hop between such universes. There are also pocket dimensions linked to the main universe, such as E-Space or the Land of Fiction.
  • My Card:
    • The Doctor does this in The Happiness Patrol and "The Vampires of Venice" (a library card, no less) not to mention all those uses of the psychic paper.
    • Harriet Jones, Prime Minister. "Yes, we know who you are."
  • My Friends... and Zoidberg: A running gag with Donna's friend Nerys.
    Donna: This photo is just with friends. And I want all of you in it. Well, friends... and Nerys.
  • My Species Doth Protest Too Much: The Doctor is not your typical Time Lord. Zig-zagged a bit, though, particularly in the new series: in his darker moments he has shown tendencies towards the same A God Am I, Omniscient Morality License power-madness which many Time Lords exhibit, and keeping it in check seems to be a recurring struggle.
  • Mythology Gag: Numerous, considering the show is 50+ years old.

  • Narrating the Obvious:
    • This was a common staple of classic Doctor Who since it was essentially recorded live, "as is". If there's a Special Effects Failure, at least the companion screaming "It's gestating!" will get the point across to the audience. It also provides a handy cue to the video technician to start playing the filmed inserts.
    • During "The Chase" the protagonists are chased through time by a group of Daleks in their own time machine and make a brief stop on a sailing ship, and when the Daleks show up they fight and kill the crew before resuming the chase. The camera then pan over the now deserted ship before stopping on the name plate, which reads "Mary Celeste". That's kinda funny, right? Cut to inside the TARDIS, where Ian tells Barbara that the ship was, in fact, the Mary Celeste. Maybe the writers were afraid the audience looked away at the wrong moment.
  • Negate Your Own Sacrifice: Standard modus operandi for the Doctor for obvious reasons, which frequently results in regenerations. Occasionally he gets aid from himself from another point in the timeline to bail him out.
    • All attempts at Heroic Sacrifice by Jack Harkness end this way, him being unable to die and all.
  • Nephewism: Prior to the new series, as many companions had aunts or uncles as had parents. Dodo Chaplet was living with her great-aunt when she met the Doctor, and Tegan Jovanka was living with her Aunt Vanessa. Sarah Jane Smith was raised by her Aunt Lavinia. Jo Grant's doting uncle gets mentioned several times. In the new series, Amy Pond was raised by her aunt prior to the series 5 finale.
  • No Equal Opportunity Time Travel: Somewhat Depending on the Writer. Martha, as a black companion, gets away in odd settings with an appropriate alibi and some smooth talking from the Doctor. "Human Nature"/"The Family of Blood" is an exception: the Doctor can't help her and she encounters resistance because of her race, gender and "servant" status. It's also hinted at when the Doctor and Martha get stuck in 1969 in "Blink." Despite her medical training and presumably whatever credentials the Doctor's psychic paper could fake up, Martha's stuck working in a shop.
  • No Name Given: The Doctor's real name has never been revealed in any media and, despite the occasional tease, as one of the show's main tenets, it is unlikely to ever be revealed. We also never learn the real names of The Master or The Rani (although names for both are suggested in the novels). It is also assumed that the Doctor's granddaughter, Susan Foreman, uses an alias; her real name, thus, has never been revealed.
    • Several companions were only ever referred to by their first name on screen, leaving the expanded universe of novels and audios to fill the blanks. This includes Vicki, Polly, Adric, Mel and Ace. Vicki's last name (Palliser) and Polly's (Wright) were revealed in the novels; Adric's last name if he had one has never been revealed; Mel's last name, Bush, was initially revealed, All There in the Manual style, in a book titled The Companions written by the show's producer; Ace's real name, Dorothy Gale Mc Shane, was revealed in the novels.
  • No Periods, Period: Despite constantly dragging young women along on his travels, the Doctor never has to deal with this particular obstacle. (Although the narrative hinted at the issue during Amy's pregnancy arc.)
  • Noodle Incident: Has its own page.
  • Novelization: The absolute poster child for this trope. Between 1964 and 1994 virtually every storyline (save for a half dozen) was adapted in novel form - more than 150 books in total. In the era before DVD, and with many early stories lost, these books, mostly published by Target Books, became the only way fans could relive, or experience for the first time, many classic era stories. Additional novelizations have been published as rights have become available (i.e. Shada and City of Death). However, except for a few spin-off tie-ins, to date no novelizations have been published for any of the TV episodes produced since 2005.
  • The Nth Doctor: The trope-namer. When the first actor to play the role of the Doctor had to leave the series due to health issues, a new actor was cast. Instead of going The Other Darrin route, the Doctor's ability to change his appearance and personality when near death (a trait later extended to his entire race) was established, allowing the series to recast the role periodically.
    • Other Time Lord characters, such as Romana, The Master, Borusa, Rassilon and River Song have also been played by different actors as explained by the trope.
    • Applied on at least one occasion with a human companion. When actor Frazer Hines became ill while filming "The Mind Robber", a plotline was introduced in which his character, Jamie, temporarily had his appearance changed (a relative of Hines' stepped in for the episode).
    • Averted (sort of) in "Journey's End" the Doctor is able to abort a regeneration just before his appearance would have changed. It still counts as one of his twelve regenerations, though. Also, while the Doctor's cloned daughter may have undergone some form of regeneration without changing her appearance, she may have simply healed because she was within the first fifteen hours of her regeneration cycle.
  • Obscured Special Effects: Used often to cover up the numerous low-budget special effects. The most pervasive examples are the Sontarans and the Judoon: they have large heads, but the vast majority of them are shown wearing big helmets that imply the presence of the head while only a small handful are actually shown without the helmet, conserving the money needed to apply the elaborate makeup.
  • Oh Crap: Also has its own page.
  • Old, New, Borrowed and Blue: Used to awesome effect in "The Big Bang" to remember the TARDIS and the Doctor and bring them back into existence. The TARDIS is all four of these at once.
  • Ominous Latin Chanting:
    • Murray Gold's Dalek theme (actually in Hebrew).
    • The Ood songs.
  • Omniscient Morality License: The Doctor frequently acts like he owns one — results depending on both writer and era.
  • Only Known by Their Nickname: Ace is only ever referenced by her nickname on screen. It wasn't until later novels that her real name is revealed, and even then there was inconsistency.
    • Technically speaking, this applies to both The Doctor and The Master.
  • One Myth to Explain Them All: A lot of myths and legends turn out to be aliens, usually with the Doctor saving the day.
    River: I hate good wizards in fairy tales. They all turn out to be him.
  • One Steve Limit: Not rigidly adhered to; in a series this long-running, some names inevitably repeat. The number of unrelated characters with the last names "Smith" note , or "Jones" note  seems to be on the excessive side. Russell T Davies is from Swansea, and he liked his Welsh family names.
  • Opening Narration: Done only during Amy Pond's run as the Companion to Matt Smith's Doctor, giving a jaded, yet enchanted take of The Eleventh Hour.
  • Orange/Blue Contrast: Present in all episodes of the 2005 revival (except maybe Series One, which prefers green and purple as the contrasting colours), especially in Moffat's episodes, most of which employ a heavy dose of blue. This also contrasts with Russell T Davies, whose episodes tend to favour orange.
  • Our Time Travel Is Different: Confusing, as there is no definite description of how time changes work.
    • Very early on in the classic series run the "rules" of time travel transitioned from "you can't change history... not one line" in the season one story The Aztecs to manipulation of history being the plot of the season two story The Time Meddler.
    • Certain moments in time are "fixed" and "part of events" so they cannot be changed, others can be. Specifically, these events can technically be changed, but doing so may create a wound in time and allow Clock Roaches (canonically called Reapers, referred to simply as "them" by the Doctor) to show up and sterilise the wound. In other cases, contradicting a fixed point could cause all of history to collapse in on itself, and eventually cease to have ever existed.
    • Also, the Doctor and other Time Lords cannot travel back in time to affect his own timeline. This explains why he can't simply just travel back thirty minutes and undo the mistakes he made. In the classic series, this was (vaguely) described as the "Blinovitch Limitation Effect".
    • If a paradox is created monsterous Clock Roaches show up to "cauterize" the wound as seen in "Father's Day". It could only apply to certain types of paradox. Or sometimes there is a big explosion as seen in Mawdryn Undead.
    • Paradoxes may be subverted by using a 'Paradox Machine', basically a retrofitted TARDIS as per "The Sound of Drums" and "Last of the Time Lords".
    • The franchise generally handwaves away inconsistencies by reminding viewers that the Doctor, being a Time Lord, has special knowledge mere humans do not. Therefore even though it might seem that he's contradicting himself, he senses that this is a "special case" or he is able to recognize when time is deviating from fixed points. Prime recent examples of this would be the Dalek invasion and relocation of Earth in the "The Stolen Earth"/"Journey's End" two-parter, which in "The Waters of Mars" is revealed to have become a fixed point event impacting human exploration of space (among other things), yet the Doctor becomes totally involved. On the other hand, the franchise has never given any indication that the Doctor had anything to do with the humanity-impacting "Miracle Day" event seen in the Torchwood arc of the same title.
  • Our Vampires Are Different: State of Decay, The Curse of Fenric, "Smith and Jones" and "The Vampires of Venice" each featured different variations on the standard bloodsuckers.
  • Our Werewolves Are Different: The series has also had several different versions of the werewolf. The creature in "Tooth and Claw" is identical to your standard pop culture werewolf...except that, like almost all monsters on the show, it's actually an alien. The werewolf in "The Greatest Show in the Galaxy" and the werewolf-like creature in "Planet of Evil" diverge more from the template; of course, they're both aliens as well.
  • Our Zombies Are Different:
    • "The Waters of Mars".
    • And the Gelth's hosts in "The Unquiet Dead." And the eponymous "Empty Child", at a pinch. A later episode refers to the enemy as "gas mask zombies".
    • The Curse Of Fenric combined this with Our Vampires Are Different, somehow.
    • The New Humans in "New Earth", at least thematically.
    • Staff Sgt. Arnold in The Web of Fear.
    • Robomen in The Dalek Invasion of Earth
  • Out of Continues: Time Lords can regenerate twelve times, meaning they have a maximum of thirteen incarnations. Of course, the Master proved there are ways around this limitation. And it seems come the 2013 Christmas Special, the Doctor has found a way around it too.
  • Painful Transformation: Regeneration is almost always depicted as a draining, traumatic experience - the violent circumstances of all the Doctor's cases can't help.
    • It is also implied that the Doctor is not very good at it among Time Lords in general. Romana, for example, was able to "try on" several different appearances before settling on that of Princess Astra when she regenerated in a relatively effortless fashion. In "Night of the Doctor" the Sisterhood of Karn was able to use the Elixir of Life to help the Doctor direct his regeneration.
  • Parent Service: A lot of it, referred to as "for the dads", although both male and female Fanservice occurs.
  • Percussive Maintenance: Thumping things often gets them working again... including the TARDIS. In the revived series, the Doctor has a mallet hanging from the console on a piece of twine for just that. The mallet pulls double duty as a Chekhov's Gun when Donna uses it to cold-cock a Sontaran.
  • Phony Newscast: Common, often using real BBC newsreaders, in the present-day episodes in the Davies era of the show. Used from time to time in the old series, too (most notably in the Jon Pertwee era), but as of series 7, only used once in the Moffat era.
  • A Planet Named Zok: Skaro, the Daleks' homeworld.
  • Power of Friendship:
    • In the series 3 finale, Martha escapes the Master's takeover of Earth and spends one year traveling the world telling everyone about the doctor and how they're supposed to say (and believe!) "doctor" over and over during an onconming countdown. When said time arrives, everyone in the world doing this (even the Master's human followers and his own freaking wife) gives the Doctor the strength he needs to overpower the Master and undo all his evil.
    • All of the Doctor's previous companions have shown that they're quite willing to die (in some cases, repeatedly) to protect him. "Journey's End" puts a subversive twist on this with the claim by Davros that the Doctor basically turns everyone who loves him into living weapons for his cause.
    • Rory makes a point of it too, in a somewhat different fashion, in series five, by pointing out that part of the reason the Doctor's so dangerous is because his overconfident behaviour and impulsive nature encourages others to risk their lives just to impress him. When Rory himself ends up doing the exact same thing later in the episode, in light of the previous guilt-tripping the Doctor is less-than-impressed.
    • In The Warmachines, the mind-controlled Polly clearly sees Ben escaping, and says nothing. When someone asks after him, she explains, but when he asks her why, she does not know, and after a moment, starts to remember that he had been her friend.
  • Power Of Hate:
    • The Pratt/Beevers version of the Master (the one that looks like a corpse), was once quoted as saying that hate was the only thing keeping him alive.
      The Master: You do not understand hatred as I understand it. Only hate keeps me alive. Why else should I endure this pain?''
    • And from New Series:
      The Doctor: What does hate look like, Amy?
      Amy: Hate?
      The Doctor: It looks like a Dalek.
    • In "Asylum of the Daleks", the Daleks are revealed to imprison, not destroy, those among their number who are deemed too insane, simply because they cannot bring themselves to remove such pure hatred from the universe. The Dalek Prime Minister suggests that is perhaps the real reason why they've never been able to finish off The Doctor.
  • Primal Fear: How the show is so scary, especially in the Moffat era and Davies era stories written by Moffat.
  • Psychic Powers: Possessed by a number of species, and individuals among species (including humans). Time Lords have considerable potential, as demonstrated by K'anpo Rimpoche in "Planet of the Spiders", but most do not develop it. Various technologies, including TARDIS's and "psychic paper" also use psychic energy.
  • Public Secret Message: The "Bad Wolf" Arc Words in the 2005 season.
  • Put on a Bus: Applies to every companion who leaves the series who isn't killed off. In most cases, the bus never comes back, but in a few cases, most notably Sarah Jane Smith and the Brigadier, it does, but only after a Long Bus Trip. Uniquely, also applies to the Doctor as the nature of the series allows for earlier incarnations' buses to come back too, if only briefly.
  • Random Transportation:
    • The First and Second Doctors had little to no control over where the TARDIS went in any given serial (the First Doctor serial "The Smugglers" provides the page quote). Even later, when the Doctor did gain better control, it was often difficult to wind up exactly where he wanted to go. This was particularly troublesome for companions who wanted to go home (Ian & Barbara, Ben & Polly, Tegan).
    • It's been stated in "The Doctor's Wife" that the TARDIS itself chooses where to go based on where the Doctor is needed.
    • The Fourth Doctor invoked this trope by installing a randomizer into the TARDIS in order to evade the Black Guardian following the Key to Time arc.
    • The Tenth Doctor invoked the randomizer for fun in "Planet of the Ood."
  • Raygun Gothic: Cybermen and Daleks.
  • Recognizable By Sound: Characters have reacted to the sound of the TARDIS before, often running to meet The Doctor.
  • Recycled IN SPACE!:
  • Red Herring: The new series is especially fond of throwing these out for viewers trying to figure out its various ongoing mysteries. The Arc Words for the 2009 specials, for example ("he will knock four times") were given at least four or five false explanations before we found out the truth (and if you add fan speculation, go ahead and multiply that number by a couple of thousand.)
  • Red Shirt Army: UNIT soldiers. From the villain side, many.
  • Reign of Terror: The First Doctor visited the original French one in the story of the same name, and each Doctor has overthrown at least one.
  • Remember the New Guy:
    • Inverted with River Song, who in "Silence in the Library" walks up to the Doctor and begins chatting with him as if they're old friends. The Doctor, however, has never met her before — turns out that, thanks to the Timey-Wimey Ball, he's meeting her out of sequence.
    • In "Let's Kill Hitler", Amy and Rory's never before mentioned best friend shows up for the first part. The Doctor is as confused as the audience, asking why he's never heard of her and where she was at their wedding. Then "Mels" is killed and turns out to be a prior regeneration of River Song/Melody Pond.
  • Research, Inc.: Quite a few, being a Long Runner, e.g. International Electromatics, Global Chemicals, and the National Institute for Advanced Scientific Research, a.k.a. Think Tank.
  • Resurrection Sickness: The result of a regeneration. Ranges from becoming manic and going into a coma (the Ninth changing into the Tenth, though part of this was due to the sheer power of the Time Vortex), to forgetting something you've done most of your lives (the Twelfth having no idea how to drive the TARDIS).
  • Resurrective Immortality: What a regeneration amounts to.
  • Ret Gone: What happens to those who fall through the cracks in the universe. And Steven Moffat has reportedly said that, as a result of the cracks (and what was necessary to fix them), a number of major events of the preceding series (most notably, the several alien invasions and other incidents that attracted widespread public notice) have been erased from history, leaving an earth that is once again (almost) entirely ignorant of the existence of alien beings. What this means for the past Companions whose travels with the Doctor hinged on those events is anybody's guess.
    • The cracks may have also been responsible for everyone on earth apparently losing all memory of Torchwood: Miracle Day.
    • However much of this was undone when the Doctor rebooted the universe in The Big Bang, which is stated on screen as restoring everyone's memories, or at least the memories of all time travelers (no doubt including past companions).
    • Even after The Doctor restores the lost events in The Big Bang, the Miracle Day incident does not appear to be one of them and is never mentioned by anyone.
    • As of Asylum Of The Daleks, the Doctor has erased himself from every database ever, so nobody remembers him.
  • Reverse Polarity: Multiple examples, including "Reverse the polarity of the neutron flow" and the sonic screwdriver. Lampshaded in "The Day of the Doctor":
    Eleven: Reverse the polarity!
    (both Eleven and Ten point their screwdrivers but fail to close the portal)
    Eleven: It's not working.
    Ten: We're both reversing the polarity.
    Eleven: Yes, I know that.
    Ten: There's two of us. I'm reversing it, you're reversing it back again. We're confusing the polarity!
  • Ripple-Effect-Proof Memory:
    • Part and parcel of being a time traveller. One's perception of history is altered, forever, allowing you to remember what the world was like before history was changed via Retcon and Ret Gone. However, it isn't retroactive.
    • Averted whenever multiple versions of a time lord (or at least the Doctor) meet each other. Apparently, the younger versions naturally lose every memory of the events happening while their timelines are out of sync, which is why the post-revival Doctor believes he destroyed Gallifrey, when he really hasn't. Though this appears to apply only to the Time War, since The Doctor and his companions are able to remember other time he's crossed his own timeline.
  • Robot Antennae: The Doctor's Robot Buddy-who-looks-like-a-dog K9 has two small radarlike anntennae for ears.
  • Rogues Gallery: Doctor Who, being a Long Runner show, has a large one. Some of the villains and aggressors are the Daleks and their creator Davros, the Master, the Cybermen, the Cybermen, the Sontarans, the Autons and Nestene replicants, the Silurians, the Weeping Angels and the Slitheen. Several of these races would form the Alliance in "The Pandorica Opens" to save the Universe from the Doctor.
  • Royals Who Actually Do Something: The show has accumulated a few over the years.
    • King Yrcanos who, aside from being a classic Warrior King, was played by BRIAN BLESSED. And ended up marrying one of the Doctor's companions.
    • The very awesome Liz 10 (Sophie Okonedo) from the new series, a two-gun wielding hands-on Action Girl who endlessly investigates the mystery of her kingdom, and then chooses to forget.
  • Rule of Cool
  • Rule of Perception: Duck into the corner or behind that pillar, crouch behind the lab bench, etc. etc. etc. Make sure the audience can see you. Even by Rule of Perception standards, it's amazing how conspicious the characters can be without being found by the search party.
  • Running Gag:
    • The TARDIS' broken chameleon circuit and wonky steering.
    • "It's bigger on the inside."
    • In the Christmas specials, the fact that it never really snows at Christmas beyond the 19th century.
    • The tendency of new companions to attempt to speak in foreign accents (and, of course, failing spectacularly) with the Doctor just wincing at them saying, "Don't...don't do that."
    • And the oldest running gag in the whole series: Occasionally the Doctor will introduce himself as "Just the Doctor," and someone else in the scene will ask, puzzled, "Doctor who?"
    • "Harriet Jones, Prime Minister." "Yes, I/we know who you are."
    • During the Eleventh Doctor era, it's become a sort of in-universe gag that Rory will die again and again. At one point, even The Silence mention his tendency to die a lot.
    • Noodle Incidents were occasional in the series, until the Steven Moffat era, where we get as many as three an episode.
    • In the new series, dramatically running.
    • As lampshaded in "The Doctor's Wife", the instructions written on the TARDIS' door quite clearly read "Pull to Open". note  Despite this, in all the time they've travelled together (and indeed, most of the series), The Doctor has stubbornly refused to do anything other than Push the doors open!
    • The Doctor's affinity for mixing up guns with bananas, which started in the Eighth Doctor Adventures, made its way into the TV series in Steven Moffat's episodes ("The Empty Child"/"The Doctor Dances", "The Girl in the Fireplace", "Space"/"Time" and "Let's Kill Hitler").
    • People thinking that the Doctor and Donna are a couple.
    • Previous Doctors never like how their successors redecorate the TARDIS.
    • Whenever the Doctor regenerates into a new appearance, the writers naturally have him look into a mirror at some point. This often coincides with a line of dialogue that picks up on a particularly unflattering part of the new actor... and has the Doctor comment on how he doesn't like that bit. Such as the Ninth Doctor commenting critically on Christopher Eccleston's rather prominent ears. The Eleventh Doctor feeling his long bangs and crying out "I'm a girl!" or The Twelfth while still in regeneration sickness going on a insane rant to a random hobo about how he doesn't like his eyebrows.
  • Runs On Ignorance: Generally believed to be how the Doctor runs the TARDIS, he just has faith in the old girl and she has a mind of her own, but it takes him a thousand years to discover this.
  • San Dimas Time: Despite being a show about time travel, almost all recurring characters always seem to remember their last encounter from the same perspective, and the Doctor's idea of "present day" always agrees with the audience's. It is taken for granted that Time Lords meet each other in sequence, due to a presumptive "Gallifrey Standard Time". Of course, it's also easier to run a recurring character if you can refer back to the previous encounter. (The only exceptions to this in the old series were multi-Doctor anniversary stories, and Trial of a Time Lord. In the revived series, Have We Met Yet? incidents have become much more common.)
  • Saving The World With Art: Given that the Doctor usually tries to find a non-violent solution to save the planet, this comes up from time to time.
  • Science Fantasy: Famed Discworld author Terry Pratchett claims in this post that, while the show is very entertaining, it lies more in the realm of fantasy than science fiction. To be certain, a lot of Speculative Fiction Tropes from Fantasy, Science Fiction, and Horror are blended together.
  • Sci-Fi Writers Have No Sense of Scale: A temporal example. Some episodes take place hundreds of thousands, millions, billions, and even in one case trillions of years in the future, yet the relative progression of human existence (technology, evolution, society, etc) could plausibly be from the next few hundred years or so. It is likely that human civilization would have evolved to the point of incomprehensibility to a 21st century observer. Lampshaded a couple of times, with the Doctor explaining that in the future humanity will go through phases of being more or less similar to the present, and sometimes deliberately recreating the 21st century out of nostalgia.
    • "The Daleks' Master Plan" in particular has an example. The rulers of several different galaxies form an alliance for the primary purpose of conquering the Solar System. Putting aside individuals claiming to rule over entire galaxies, an alliance that large can only be described as 'overkill' given that the Solar System is just one star system and never described as anything more outside of political influence.
  • Sealed Cast in a Multipack: The final episodes of the second season of the new Doctor Who ("Army of Ghosts", "Doomsday") feature "putting the band back together" and the freeing of two evil forces (which promptly go to war) and one of which is inadvertantly reinforced by the actions of one of the band that was put back together.
  • Sealed Evil in a Can: Around half a dozen cases of Evil deliberately Sealed in a Can. At least as many slumbering alien menaces that just happened to crash-land/get trapped centuries ago and go into hibernation until foolishly awoken, which don't technically fit the description but serve a very similar plot purpose.
    • In "The Satan Pit", a being known only as "the Beast" (who claims to be Satan) is so powerful it was sealed miles underground the surface of a planet precariously orbiting a black hole, meaning that any attempt to escape would send the Beast and the planet to fall into it. These Disciples of the Light guys really didn't want this guy to escape.
    • The original series used this trope often. Sutekh The Destroyer in "Pyramids of Mars" was imprisoned in a pyramid in Egypt, Omega in "The Three Doctors" and "Arc of Infinity", the Ice Warriors, the mutagen under the Earth crust in "Inferno", the Krynoid pods in "The Seeds of Doom", and many more.
    • A slight variation happened in "The Stones of Blood", where the Doctor releases a pair of biomechanical judges called the Megara from a ship stranded in hyperspace, and the judges promptly sentence him to death for letting them free without the proper legal authorization.
    • "Doomsday" features the Genesis Ark: a Time Lord device imprisoning millions of Daleks. "Time Lord science: it's Bigger on the Inside."
    • In the new series episode "The Runaway Bride," it is revealed that the centre of the Earth contains hundreds — possibly thousands — of omnivorous intelligent alien spiders. Indeed, the vessel that holds them is the original core of the planet, nearly five billion years old.
    • In the episode "The Pandorica Opens", the Doctor investigates the eponymous Pandorica, which is advertised as containing the most feared being in the universe and is starting to open. It's empty. The Pandorica was created by a coalition of the Doctor's enemies to trap him inside, because they believe he will destroy the universe, and it's opening so that they can put him in — due to time-travel, he has arrived before the myth started. The Doctor is predictably fascinated; "What could be so dangerous?" he wonders. You.
    • In "The Waters of Mars", Humans accidentally released Sealed Evil in a Glacier.
    • Then there is the Old God in a Pyramid in "The Rings of Akhaten". It turns out the real Monster is the Sun.
  • Season Finale: Not a major element of the 1963-1989 series, except for the occasions where a season ended with a Doctor's regeneration, in which case that story would sometimes act as a conscious Grand Finale for his era (especially "The War Games", "Planet of the Spiders", and "Logopolis"). The revived season constantly tries to top itself for how big its finales can be, with at least five featuring the ENTIRE UNIVERSE under threat and one featuring the whole multiverse in danger of destruction.
  • Self-Deprecation: It's a Running Gag for a new Doctor to point out the flaws in his appearance the first chance he gets a good look at himself in a mirror.
  • Self Healing Phlebotinum: The TARDIS has been all but destroyed on at least one occasion and required time to recover, although it appears that this only applies to its "heart" and not the ancillary equipment used to "drive" the TARDIS. The vessel is considered a Living Ship in any case, but it seems a mechanical form of life.
  • Self-Made Orphan:
    • It's pretty likely that the Doctor 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 the Doctor 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.
      • Averted by the fact it turns out he never killed any Time Lords, nor destroyed Gallifrey. But simply stuck them in a pocket dimension until it was safe for them to return, though because of the Timey-Wimey Ball, he would have fake memories, thinking he killed everyone
    • The Toclafane killed millions of their ancestors before their own birth, thanks to a "paradox machine" holding the Grandfather Paradox at bay.
  • Sequel Episode:
    • The Dalek episodes from "Army of Ghosts" to "Journey's End" directly follow on from one another. The surviving Daleks from "Victory of the Daleks" came from the Dalek invasion of "The Stolen Earth". A similar use happens with Cybus Cyberman stories from "Rise of the Cybermen" to "The Next Doctor".
    • Satellite Five (and all the mess the Doctor's involvement caused) reappears in the series 1 finale, after an assumed one-off encounter with the Mighty Jagrafess in "The Long Game".
    • While Torchwood was a recurring Arc Word in Series 2 (with the Doctor meeting a group identifying as the Torchwood Archive in "The Impossible Planet" and "The Satan Pit"), the Doctor's only direct encounters were at the founding in "Tooth and Claw" and his capture by (and the subsequent slaughtering of the team of by the real villains) Torchwood London in "Army of Ghosts".
    • Series 4, 5 and 6 have a recurring string of non-consecutive River Song episodes ("Silence in the Library"/"Forest of the Dead"; "The Time of Angels"/"Flesh and Stone", "The Pandorica Opens"/"The Big Bang", "The Impossible Astronaut"/"Day of the Moon", "A Good Man Goes To War"/"Let's Kill Hitler"..., though from her point of view, they're (mainly) prequel episodes.
    • The End of Time picks up from The Master's death at the end of "Last of the Time Lords".
  • Shakespeare in Fiction: A major role in the plot of "The Shakespeare Code", and a brief cameo in The Chase. In other episodes, the Doctor alludes to offscreen meetings with him.
  • Share Phrase: Nearly every person who stepped into the TARDIS for the first time said, "It's bigger on the inside (than on the outside)", to the point where on one occasion the Tenth Doctor silently mouthed the phrase along with them, and the Eleventh later became surprised when those that enter it don't say it.
    Clara: It's smaller on the outside.
  • Shout-Out:
    • River's relationship with the Doctor, a woman who falls in love with a time traveller and meets him in the wrong order throughout her life is a pretty obvious shout out to The Time Traveller's Wife.
    • There's also a suspicion that Van Morrison is getting a namecheck here: reference his ballad Crazy Love (and what sort of love could be crazier?)
    yeah I run to her, like a river song... she gives me love, love, love, love - crazy love!
    • The Eleventh Doctor tells Amy he's like, "I dunno, Gandalf! A space Gandalf. Or the little green one in Star Wars, *lightsaber noise*"
    • The Running Gag of the Doctor replacing enemies' guns with bananas is a reference to the Buster Keaton film The High Sign, where Keaton does the same thing to a policeman.
    • There are several blink-and-you'll-miss-it shout outs to The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, including the Doctor guessing "42" when trying to find out the security protocol for the Hosts in "Voyage of the Damned", or the Hooloovoo in "The Rings of Akhaten" even not so subtle references, such as when the Tenth Doctor is wearing a bathrobe. "I like it, very Arthur Dent"
      • Also, "Starship Titanic" was the name of a computer game created by Douglas Adams, normally this would be obviously a coincidence, but then again, Douglas Adams was a writer for the show at one point, and they affectionately shout-out his works quite often.
    • To Norse Mythology: During the Sylvester McCoy era, the Doctor battled the Gods of Ragnarok and the Wolves of Fenric.
  • Skeleton Key: The Doctor's sonic screwdriver often acts as one of these.
  • Sleeping Single: Evidently either the Doctor or the Tardis wanted Amy and Rory sleeping this way, despite being a married couple. This was rectified after "The Doctor's Wife"
    The Doctor: I should put you in a new bedroom; you'd like that, wouldn't you?
    (Rory and Amy have a whispered discussion)
    Amy: OK, Doctor, this time can we lose the bunk beds?
  • The Smurfette Principle: Because the Doctor is male (although, he could regenerate into a girl, theoretically) writers tend to balance him out by having a female companion. Extra companions will occasionally be brought on, but their gender is completely random. Examples of multi-companion crews have been:
    • First Doctor; 50/50 for the first while. There was the Doctor and Ian, plus Barbara and Susan.
    • Second Doctor: Two or three men (The Doctor, Ben, and Jamie; later, just the Doctor and Jamie) and one woman (Polly, then Victoria, then Zoë).
    • The third Doctor was a bit of an odd case. Set on Earth, in a male dominated military organisation, there were mostly guys around. Main cast members, however, were the Doctor, The Brigadier, Harry Sullivan, and Sergent Benton, with Sarah-Jane Smith, Dr. Liz Shaw and Jo filling in the female roles.
    • Fourth Doctor companions were Sarah Jane Smith, fellow Time Lady Romana, Leela, Tegan the air-hostess, with the guys being Adric and the robot-dog K9.
    • The Fifth Doctor again had a string of mostly female companions, such as Peri and Tegan. There were guys, however, such as Adric, Turlough and the robot Kamelion.
    • The Seventh's Doctor only permanent companion was Ace.
    • For the majority of Nine's run Rose Tyler was the only companion, although the very popular Captain Jack Harkness came on near the end. By the end of the Russel T. Davies era all the companions from the period came back, including Martha Jones, Donna Noble, Sarah Jane Smith and Jackie Tyler for the girls, with the guys including Jack and Mickey.
    • The Eleventh's Team TARDIS could be considered 50/50, so far: You've got the Doctor and Rory, but also Amy and River. However, since Clara's introduction this is actually in the favour of females, until the Twelfth Doctor was introduced which returned it to 50/50.
  • SpaceX: Surprisingly, one manages to slip in despite the show usually being rather good about avoiding this trope. In "The Big Bang", when the Doctor is watching his life being undone, he sees himself and Amy prepare to go to Space Florida.
  • Space Whale Aesop: Several here and there. For example, "Use clean, renewable fuels, because sometimes the thing you're using for fuel is sentient, angry and capable of possessing you." — which has been the aesop of more than one episode.
    • Notably there was an episode with a space whale aesop involving an actual space whale.
  • Spinning out of Here: The TARDIS spins as it flies through the Time Vortex.
  • Spoiler: River Song's mantra is "Spoilers, sweetie!"
    • Many real-life scenarios also touch on this trope with regards to the series:
    • In most cases, especially in the UK, there is heavy media coverage whenever an actor decides to leave the role of the Doctor, and a new actor is chosen. This renders it near-impossible for someone to not be spoiled that such a change is coming.
    • Russell T Davies attempted to keep the departure of Christopher Eccleston and the Ninth Doctor's regeneration at the end of the 2005 season a secret, but the news got out shortly after the first episode aired. (Technically, the BBC broke the news in a press release, but according to some accounts their hand was forced by a discovery that it had already been leaked to the tabloids.)
    • In 2013, several Doctor Who fan websites went to extraordinary lengths to protect those attempting to remain unspoiled regarding the identity of the actor chosen to play the Twelfth Doctor (or even that there is to be a Twelfth Doctor); a losing battle considering the news received saturation coverage worldwide.
    • Following the Eccleston debacle, Russell T Davies began a policy of releasing incomplete episodes to media for advance review, which allowed certain events, such as, a surprise cameo by Rose Tyler in the episode "Partners in Crime" to go unspoiled.
    • Similarly, his successor Steven Moffat edited out the appearance of John Hurt from "The Name of the Doctor" from review copies to protect the surprise ending. Moffat has also had great success in preventing spoilers by simply asking politely that fans not reveal the information; in particular, Clara's appearance in "Asylum of the Daleks", and at the 2013 San Diego Comic Con trailers for the 50th anniversary special and the behind-the-scenes docudrama An Adventure in Space and Time were shown, but after Moffat requested the fans not record them and post them on YouTube (under pain of there being no further exclusives shown at Comic Con), amazingly everyone in the room complied.
    • Shortly before the Twelfth Doctor premiered. The scripts for the first few episodes had been leaked. This pissed Moffat off, in which he heavily encouraged the show's fans, to ignore the leaks as well as not spread them. Basically giving the "If you truly respect the show and what we do" speech.
  • Spotlight-Stealing Squad: There are those who believe the Eleventh Doctor's tenure could be better titled "Amy and Rory".
  • Squaring the Love Triangle: The Doctor/Amy/Rory love triangle being resolved in favour of Rory/Amy and their daughter with the Doctor.
  • Standard Powerup Pose: This is how the Doctor regenerates from 9 to 10, and also how the Master regenerates from Derek Jacobi to John Simm, and Melody Pond regenerates into Alex Kingston.
  • Star-Crossed Lovers: The Ninth/Tenth Doctor and Rose.
  • The Starscream:
  • Station Ident: For Christmas 2009, BBC One had a specially-filmed Doctor Who ident (following the special Wallace & Gromit idents for Christmas 2008). Watch It Here.
  • A Storm Is Coming: In the ancient legends of the Daleks, the Doctor is literally referred to as "The Oncoming Storm".
  • Stuff Blowing Up:
    • Things have a distinct tendency to explode around the Doctor - and by "things", we mean anything from computers to entire planets. He's actually disappointed when a car doesn't blow up in "The Sontaran Stratagem". His companions are generally there to help minimise collateral damage, but Ace bucked the trend by bringing her own supply of home-made explosives (Nitro-9) on her travels. The Doctor tended to discourage this... except when it was useful to him ("Hand me some of that Nitro-9 you're not carrying").
    • Naturally, this was lampshaded on occasion, like this scene from "The Pirate Planet":
    Romana: What about the Bridge and the time dams?
    Doctor: Bridge and time dams, K9?
    K9: Piece of cake, master. Blow them up.
    Romana: Isn't that a bit crude?
    Doctor: Well - it's a bit crude, but immensely satisfying.
    • In the surviving footage from ''The Evil of the Daleks'' episode 7, there is an explosion every few seconds. Shortly before the clip cuts out, a Dalek goes bang.
    • Despite having a single series of only thirteen episodes, the Ninth Doctor caused a lot of explosions in his short run. Blows up a department store, causes the last pure human to combust, bombs Downing Street (well, okay, that last one was Mickey, but the Doctor gave him the code to do so), allows a medium to blow up a house on top of the Rift, overheats the Mighty Jagrafess, destroyed the weapons factory at Villengard (offscreen) and visited Krakatoa (offscreen). As Rose so accurately lampshades in "The Doctor Dances"], one of the Ninth Doctor's defining traits is that he really loves to blow thing up.
    Rose: First day I met him, he blew my job up! That's practically how he communicates.
  • Superman Stays Out of Gotham:
    • The Doctor has appeared in The Sarah Jane Adventures twice, but there really isn't much justification for why he leaves saving the world in all the other episodes up to a middle-aged woman and a bunch of kids.
    • Torchwood, a series in which the Doctor has never appeared, sort-of lampshaded it when Gwen wonders if the Doctor is looking down on the Earth in shame. The absence of the Doctor from some of the Torchwood events, in particular those shown in the Children of Earth and Miracle Day seasons, both of which are literally Earth-changing, is very noticeable. The parent series, however, preemptively handwaved this by establishing the "fixed point in time" concept — that there are some events that must occur in a planet's history, and as such the Doctor cannot interfere or allow himself to become involved in them. Presumably the events of those two storylines qualify (that, or the Doctor is very confident in Captain Jack and his team).
  • Swirly Energy Thingy: The Time Vortex.

  • Talkative Loon: One of the possible temporary side effects of a Time Lord's regeneration, as evidenced by the Fourth, Seventh, Tenth, and Eleventh Doctors, as well as the Master's only on-screen regeneration.
  • Take That/Self-Deprecation: Any time two or more incarnations of the Doctor meet, it's a safe bet they'll have something snarky to say about one another's looks or attitude ("A dandy and a clown?", as the First memorably greets the Third and Second, to their faces). Counts as a Take That between the actors and Self-Deprecation for the character.
    • When Ten met Five, Ten kept snarking about Five's celery lapel while Five kept treating Ten like a lunatic.
    • When the Ganger!Doctor's personality briefly reverted through previous incarnations, he channeled the Tenth's voice for a few seconds, before quickly reasserting control with "Nooo! Let it go! We've MOVED ON!"
  • The "The" Title: Prevalent throughout the show's run, though markedly less so in the Fifth Doctor's era in particular. During the Second Doctor era, only "Fury from the Deep" did not start with "The", and even its working title was "The Colony of Devils".
  • Theme Naming: After series 4, companions had a tendency to be named after bodies of water. Jackson Lake, River Song, Amy Pond, Adelaide Brooke...
  • This Banana Is Armed: "Pssh, what could a screwdriver do?" is a pretty common reaction at first. But did we mention it's sonic?
  • Three-Dimensional Episode: Both the non-canon 30th anniversary special, Dimensions in Time, and the 50th anniversary special The Day of the Doctor.
  • Threesome Subtext: Pretty much any time the Doctor has two companions (especially in the new series), this comes up. Favorites include Two-Jamie-Zoe (Sleep Cute), Nine-Rose-Jack (plenty of flirting, all three pairings kiss in their last episode) and Eleven-Amy-Rory (the Doctor resolves the love triangle issue by matchmaking them and whisking them both off after their wedding - then he marries their daughter, which complicates things...)
  • Time Paradox: Happens often. So much so that in the newer series, there exists a thing called a Paradox Machine which prevents time from healing itself in the face of a temporal contradiction. So, for example, you could kill your own grandfather and the Paradox Machine would ensure that nothing happened to you.
  • Time Travel Tense Trouble: Inevitable, given the Doctor's constant travels through time.
  • Timey-Wimey Ball: The trope namer and probably the biggest source, just by sheer weight of history (no pun intended).
  • Title Drop: Once in a while. Just in case you'd forgotten the last time someone asked, "Doctor who?", but sometimes "Doctor what?" just to screw with you.
    • On her first meeting with the Doctor, Tegan Jovanka called him "Doctor whoever you are."
    • Taken Up to Eleven in "Asylum of the Daleks" when Oswin erases the Daleks' memory of the Doctor causing thousands of Daleks to Title Drop the same time.
    • And of course, in Series 6 "Doctor Who?" is revealed to be The Question Hidden in Plain Sight - the question the Doctor must not answer, making it an actual plot point for the first time.
  • Tone Shift: The series has undergone recurrent tone shifts over its lifetime, some more extreme than others. The usual tendency is for creators, executives, or the audience to decide that the show has become too grim and horrific, whereupon the creators either get replaced or accept the criticism, and cut down on the violence and Downer Endings in favour of more humour and Everybody Lives. Then a couple of years later people start complaining that the show is too fluffy and juvenile and it heads back in the opposite direction again.
  • Too Dumb to Live:
    • The Daleks have an unfortunate habit of becoming this, particularly when their "VISION IS IMPAIRED!!!". Naturally, as they are unable to see, they will begin shooting wildly, in one case causing the Dalek to destroy itself when in a hall of mirrors in ''The Five Doctors'', and making for very annoying gameplay in the 2010 Adventure Game, City of the Daleks. Apparently their vision isn't the only thing that is impaired when they are damaged....
    • Lampshaded in "The Stolen Earth". A Dalek's "eye" is blinded, but the Dalek remedies it and says "My vision is not impaired."
    • Then there are the Cybermen who locked the Doctor up in an explosives storage closet...without searching him for items that could be used as a detonator. Guess how he got the door open?
    • 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, Sontarans and Cyberman 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.
      • Worse still, if you decide that maybe you don't want to do it this way, the Tenth Doctor will see fit to punish you.
      • Shooting a fleeing ship can be seen as thuggish, medieval scare tactic (comparable to decorating city walls with the severed heads of your enemies, to be honest) and is quite different from killing someone in self-defense (although it still counts as Too Dumb to Live in an Honor Before Reason way - meddling with beneficial established events simply for the sake of principles). For example, he's somewhat disappointed when Agatha Cristie and Donna kill the Vespiform but doesn't blame them for doing it. And when UNIT tries to mow down an attacking Sontaran army, his main concern is that the UNIT troops will die because they won't listen to his insistence that Sontarans can render bullets useless, even though he had been bitching about guns and violence earlier. He also isn't angry at Lucy for killing the Master in retribution, despite being utterly grief-stricken over the prospect of...uh...not having to deal with the Master being a complete psychotic for the rest of his life. So he's mainly just too stupid for himself to live.
    • 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."
  • Took a Level in Badass: The Russell T Davies era has a recurring theme of the Doctor turning the companions into badasses.
  • Touch Telepathy: The Doctor has on occasion grabbed someone's head to perform something like a mind meld.
    • When he's in a hurry, he can even use headbutt telepathy.
  • Transformation Is a Free Action: Averted. Whenever possible, the Doctor makes sure to regenerate in a safe place (usually the TARDIS). Even the Master does this - and with good reason, as it's stated to be one of the few sure ways to kill a Time Lord. Five was openly uncertain if he could regenerate while poisoned, and an alternate Ten couldn't survive being crushed under the Thames in "Turn Left". In "The Impossible Astronaut", Eleven uses this to make his faked death that much more convincing.
  • Translation Convention/Translator Microbes: Started as the former, then was justified as the latter.
  • Troll Fic:
    • The aptly named jo bel nd da dokter hoo' is similarly written to My Immortal. The fic also lampoons the Doctor typically having a young, "hot", female human companion - along with said female companions' tendencies to find the Doctor attractive - by placing in overt, sexual puns:
    doKTEer Who sd. "cum wit mee"
    "Y wuld I cum wth u?' i demandd!111
    "CUZ UR HOT,' da dokter hoo sad.
    "oh thnk u!" I sd, "yur hot 2!111'
    • ''Whotrek: The Ultimate Adventure 1 starts out as a very badly spelled crossover with Star Trek and a very poor grasp on consistency. In just the first chapter, a group of Klingons attack the Enterprise, only to be defeated, before continuing their attack as if nothing happened just one line later, characters (especially Wesley) tend to die and then show up alive again later with no explanation, and the further the story goes on, the more insane it gets, as it keeps throwing in more and more ludicrous plot-twists (mostly involving "*INSERT CHARACTER HERE* was the Master!") and crossing over with about half a billion different franchises.
  • Uncommon Time: The Eleventh Doctor's theme is almost entirely in 7/4 (7+4=11).
  • Uniformity Exception: Fairly common, presumably for budgetary reasons (so they only have to make one alien face):
    • The Judoon are all helmeted, but one removes his helmet so we can see what they look like (humanoid rhinos, basically). After that, every time they show up there is one unhelmeted and the other two are helmeted.
    • Sontarans also all wear helmets except one who takes his off.
    • Hordes of New Series Silurians are shown wearing metal face-masks, but main character Silurians (the three named/speaking characters in "Cold Blood" and Madame Vastra) don't.
  • Uniqueness Decay: In the early years, we knew almost nothing about the Doctor's people. It was six years before we learned the name "Time Lords". From the Tom Baker serial The Deadly Assassin onwards, we began to learn more and actually visited Gallifrey. Over the next decade or so, more stories featuring the corrupt, self-interested and machiavellian Time Lords were made, to the point where many fans complained that too much was being explained and the mystery had gone. One of the objectives of the so-called "Cartmel Master-plan" in the late 1980s was to Retcon some of this and reintroduce the mystery.
  • Universe Bible: Somewhat notable for being a Long Runner TV show and not having one.
  • The Unmasqued World: It's hard to pin down to a specific event, but all the bizarre incidents and invasion attempts have gradually worn down the human Weirdness Censor. However much of the RTD era people remember after the time cracks, the first episode of Moffat's run has giant eyeballs threatening to incinerate the planet.
  • Unreliable Canon: especially before the New Series, the show can be best summarized as existing in a state of constant flux. Not only did you have the TV show introduce a new concept that gets changed to outright retcon after a few years, you also had convoluted timelines for UNIT and the Daleks. This isn't helped by the fact that the New Series sometimes makes references to the books and that the New Series itself doesn't follow certain things from the Classic Who (the aforementioned Daleks' timeline for example). And let's not even get into the Expanded Universe...
  • The Unreveal:
    • The episode "The Lodger" does not reveal who was behind the attempt to build a TARDIS; however, the two-part opener of the sixth series heavily implies that the Silence were behind that, since we see them occupying an identical room.
    • The Name of the Doctor doesn't actually reveal his birthname. Although River is implied to have said it, the fact that she's an almost Fight Club-esque apparition visible and audible only to the Doctor - and later Clara - makes it safe to assume that the Doctor screaming, "Please!!" was more than enough to drown out her voice.
  • Unusually Uninteresting Sight:
    • The Doctor, despite going back and forth through time and space, rarely (although there are exceptions) seems to have his outfit questioned, though his companion(s) might.
    • Then there's the blue box that pops up in the weirdest places and very few people think to question... even when they do notice it, they're more likely to write it off as someone else's problem rather than investigate thoroughly. The TARDIS was explained by the Doctor as generating a perception filter, making any normal being subconsciously want to look away from the blue box. This explanation coming from his companion's inquiry as the Doctor had fashioned a miniature version of the field to avoid detection by police or rival Time Lords, so it not only made sense from a story view-point, it finally answered the question of "Why then doesn't anyone notice a giant blue police box just sitting there!?" Especially when the Doctor has gone to places like Ancient Rome or 19th Century England.
    • Subverted in "The Fires of Pompeii" when the Doctor and Donna land in Pompeii on Volcano Day, leave the TARDIS for a couple of minutes...and return to discover that it has been carted off as art.
    • Also lampshaded in the Eleventh Doctor DVD extra "Meanwhile in the TARDIS," when The Doctor explains to Amy that the TARDIS' chameleon circuit (which allows it to change its appearance) DOES work, but that the TARDIS scans the local surroundings, determines the best camoflauge, and still configures itself as a 1960s Police Box.
    • Used almost as a kind of Worf Effect when the Doctor first meets Amelia Pond. Little Amelia doesn't bat an eye at the falling TARDIS, the Raggedy Doctor, or his odd behavior. This is used to emphasize what she'is afraid of: The space-time crack in her wall.
    • When the TARDIS appears in the midst of a cricket match in "The Daleks' Master Plan," the commentators spend more time commenting on the how its appearance will affect the outcome of the match rather than the fact a police box appeared from literally nowhere.
  • Used Future: Despite being far ahead of most technology even approaching the end of the universe, the TARDIS is seriously broken and worn out by Gallifreyan standards. The Time Lords were also phasing out that particular TARDIS model for being outdated when the Doctor nicked it.
  • Video Inside, Film Outside: Throughout most of the classic series, though Spearhead from Space was entirely in film.note  Some episodes shot studio segments on film to make them "feel" outside. The Restoration Team website details many of the technical challenges associated with remastering the film sequences.
    • Several Tom Baker-era stories averted this by being shot on videotape completely, even on location (two of them were "Robot" and "The Sontaran Experiment"). Beginning in 1986 with "The Trial of a Time Lord" and continuing to the end of the original series in 1989, the show was completely produced on videotape, including exteriors.
    • Prior to switching to HD production in 2009, the revival series from 2005 to 2008 was completely shot on videotape, which was then processed to look like film. You can see the original videotape look of the show in the gag reel included in the Series 3 box set and its deleted scenes, and in the deleted scenes featured in the Series 4 set.
  • Void Between the Worlds: 'The Void' is the Time Lord name for the dead space between universes. Time and matter as we understand them don't exist there, and it's only traversable with eerie, mass-less Void Ships that even the Time Lords only considered theoretical. The Doctor, mister 'poke it with a stick', is so unnerved to encounter one he recommends it be sent back where it came from.
  • Walking the Earth: And the other planets.
  • Wardrobe Flaw Of Characterization:
    • The Fifth Doctor dresses smartly in immaculate quasi-Edwardian cricket whites, but with a celery stalk attached to his lapel.note 
    • The Tenth Doctor is nearly always seen in a perfectly-tailored brown or navy pinstripe suit and tie of the sort that would not look out of place in a board room, but with casual canvas sneakers instead of the expected dress shoes to emphasize his eccentric nature.note  He expresses discomfort any time he is forced to dress the rest of the way up in a black tux and dress shoes.
  • Wasn't That Fun?: The Doctor is fond of this quip.
  • We Have Forgotten the Phlebotinum: The Doctor is regularly separated from the TARDIS or his sonic screwdriver.
  • Wham Episode: Has its own page.
  • When It All Began: The Time War is a strong defining moment for the Ninth and Tenth Doctors and the aftermath of it plays a part into both of their regenerations.
    • In the episode "Into the Dalek", the 12th Doctor states that he started to become the man we all recognize today after first encountering the Daleks on Skaro, all those long years ago.
  • Whole Plot Reference: Steven Moffat absolutely loves the novel The Time Traveler's Wife, and works it into Doctor Who stories at every opportunity. Notably in "The Girl in the Fireplace", with the character of River Song, and with the museum scene in the series 5 finale.
  • Whooshing Credits: Several uses.
  • The World Is Always Doomed
  • World of Silence: The rationalization for creating the Cybermen (particularly the parallel-Earth breed) and the Daleks. The Cybermen think they're eliminating pain and strife by making everyone emotionless and identical, while Davros created the Daleks because he believed peace between species was impossible.
  • World War III: The revival has mentioned two near-misses, one in the episode called "World War Three" and one mentioned as a joke in "Dalek". It presumably happens anyway, since...
  • World War Whatever: World Wars V and VI have been alluded to.
  • The X of Y: By far the single worst abuser of this trope, guilty of it no less than 125 times. Having trouble coming up with an episode title? Try mixing and matching these ones that already exist.
  • Column X: Age, Aliens, Ambassadors, Androids, Arc, Army, Attack, Asylum, Bargain, Battle, Bell(s) (2 times), Brain, Bride, Brink, Carnival, Cave(s), Change, Claws, Coronas, Crater, Curse (3 times), Dalek Invasion, Day (6 times), Death (3 times), Destruction, Dimensions, Edge, End (3 times), Enemy, Escape, Evil, Evolution, Face, Family, Feast, Fires, Forest, Genesis, Guests, Hall, Hand, Horror, Horse, Image, Invasion, Keeper, Keys, Knight, Land, Last, Mark, Masque, Massacre, Mind, Monster, Music, Name, Night, Parting, Planet (8 times), Power (2 times), Priest, Prisoners, Pyramids, Reign, Remembrance, Revenge, Resurrection, Revelation, Rings, Rise, Robot(s) (2 times), Roof, Sea, Seeds (2 times), Sentence, Snows, Sound, State, Stones, Talons, Temple, Terror (3 times), Time (2 times), Tomb, Trap, Tyrant, Vampires, Victory, Voyage, Wall, War, Warriors, Waters, Web, Wedding, Wheel
  • Column Y: Akhaten, Androzani, Angels, Armageddon, Autons, Axos, Black Spot, Blood (2 times), Conciergerie, Cybermen (4 times), Daleks (11 times), Damned, Danger, Darkness, Dead, Death (7 times), Decay, Decision, Deep, Destruction, Dinosaurs, Disaster, Doctor (4 times), Doctor Who, Dolls, Doom, Drums, Earth, Evil (4 times), Fang Rock, Fear (4 times), Fenric, Fendahl, Fire, Fortune, France, Ghosts, Giants, God, Identity, Infinity, Jaffa, Kroll, Lies, London, Madame Guillotine, Mandragora, Marinus, Mars, Monsters, Moon, Morbius, Necessity, Needles, Ood, Peladon, Pompeii, Rani, Reckoning, River Song, Sacrifice, Saint John, Secrets, Sherwood, Skulls, Spheres, Spiders, Spy, St Bartholomew's Eve, Steel, Steven, Sun, Tara, Terror, Three, Time (5 times), Time Lords, Tomorrow, Traken, Venice, Vervoids, Ways, Weng-Chiang, Wits, World (3 times), Zygons
  • Statistically the most likely title? Planet of the Daleks. Also surprisingly high on the list: The Death of Death note  and The Day of Time.
  • So overdone that the title convention itself was parodied in Doctor Who: The Curse of Fatal Death.
  • You Are Better Than You Think You Are: Listen had the Doctor telling a little boy who was scared of the dark that it's okay to be afraid, as fear makes people strong. It turns out he was paraphrasing this speech from Clara, who told it to the Doctor when he was just a child who was also scared of the dark and couldn't make the grade to become a Time Lord.
  • You Are What You Hate: The Doctor ended the Last Great Time War, effectively wiping out his own species, has worked to destroy the Dalek race several times, and was directly responsible for arranging the end of the Silence on Earth. Yet he despises genocide, and fights constantly to prevent the utter elimination of entire species, and gets a little rant in "The Lodger" about how genocide is only done over his dead body.
  • You Keep Using That Word: Dimensionally transcendental. Transcendental means "Of or relating to a spiritual or nonphysical realm". Quite possibly the word they were looking for is transcendent, "going beyond ordinary limits", e.g. it goes beyond the physical dimensions of the blue box on the outside.
  • You Look Familiar: Such a long-running series inevitably has numerous instances of actors appearing multiple times in different roles, sometimes decades apart. This includes seven companions — and two Doctors — played by actors who had previously appeared in guest roles, and three cases of guest roles going to actors who had previously played companions.
  • Your Approval Fills Me with Shame: The Daleks seem to havea knack for pulling this on The Doctor in the revival series. In "Dalek", after the 9th Doctor, frothing at the mouth, tells a Dalek it should "Just Die", it responds with "You would make a good Dalek."
In "Asylum of the Daleks", the 11th Doctor has just learned that the Daleks find hatred to be beautiful to the point of being divine, to which the Dalek Prime Minister states, "Maybe that is why we have never been able to kill you." And in "Into the Dalek", a semi-reformed Dalek tells the Doctor, "I am not a good Dalek. YOU are a good Dalek."
  • Zeerust: Both intentional (the TARDIS's controls look rather clunky, possibly partly because of its dodgy condition) and unintentional. Basically every story set in space or and/or the future from the first eleven years of the series by now looks absurdly out-of-date, though the bell-bottomed space uniforms of the 70s now look oddly fashion-forward. And while the late 1960s stories makes some gestures toward internationalism, they almost always show show a preponderance of men in technical or scientific roles.
  • Zeppelins from Another World: Specifically, the other world that the Cybus Cybermen came from.

    Welsh SeriesGavin and Stacey
Dawson's CreekTropeNamers/Live-Action TVDollhouse
AmbientElectronic MusicChiptune
DiscworldNotable QuotablesBob Dylan
Batman BeginsNebula AwardDoctor Who S28 E4 'The Girl in the Fireplace"
CopperHistorical FictionDong Yi
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The Powerpuff GirlsChristmas SpecialMoral Orel
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Doc MartinDramedyDoogie Howser, M.D.
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alternative title(s): Doctor Who
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