Follow TV Tropes


Characters / Doctor Who Danny Pink

Go To

Danny Pink (Twelfth Doctor)
Played by: Samuel Anderson (2014), Remi Gooding (young, 2014)

"I know men like him. I've served under them. They push you and make you stronger, till you're doing things you never thought you could. I saw you tonight. You did exactly what he told you. You weren't even scared. And you should have been."

A maths teacher at Coal Hill School, along with Clara Oswald. He is a former soldier who has trouble re-adjusting to regular civilian life. Danny is friendly, observant, and outgoing, and he and Clara hit it off quite quickly, though there were foot-in-mouth situations on both sides. Despite a disastrous first date, he and Clara become a couple. He eventually gets clued in to the Doctor, and Cock Fighting ensues.

  • Always Save the Girl: To quote Danny from "Last Christmas":
    "I died saving Clara, the rest of you just got lucky."
  • Badass Normal: Manages to keep his cool after Cyber-Conversion, despite his emotional inhibitor being inactive. Note that an inactive inhibitor was enough to completely destroy Cybermen in "The Age of Steel" and "Closing Time".
  • Body Horror: When Cyberman/Danny takes off his mask we see he has Cybernetic implants drilled into his forehead and cheeks. Not only that his skin is drawn out and corpse like. That's not even thinking about what the rest of his body might look like.
  • Advertisement:
  • Beneath the Mask: He's a professional and cheery teacher in public, but while alone with Clara, he's more willing to show that he's a sensitive and vulnerable man who didn't always have a happy or lucky life.
  • Berserk Button:
    • Danny does not react well to assumptions that soldiering is mostly about killing other people. Clara was innocently insensitive to him about this when they first met, but later realised she came across as sounding prejudiced. As he pointed out to her during their first date, he worked just as much on post-war reconstruction as he worked on fighting the odd insurgent group.
      Danny: I dug 23 wells.
      Clara: I'm sorry?
      Danny: Twenty-three wells. When I was a soldier. Twenty-three!
      Clara: Okay. Good, good wells.
      Danny: Yeah they were good actually.
      Clara: I’m not doubting the quality of your wells.
      Danny: Whole villages saved. Actual towns, full of people. People I didn’t shoot. People I kept safe.
      Clara: Okay, point taken. Seriously.
      Danny: So why doesn't that ever get mentioned?
    • Advertisement:
    • He isn't too fond of officers either believing them to be Armchair Military. This is because when Danny was ordered to secure an enemy building, he accidentally killed an innocent child inside, while his comanding officer's hands remained "clean".
    • The Doctor refusing to acknowledge even in front of Clara that Danny is a maths teacher, and insisting (albeit playfully) that he's no doubt just a PE teacher at most, is something that really annoys poor Pink. It's all the worse when you realise the Doctor is letting his odd prejudice against soldiers get the better of him and is blatantly dismissing soldiers as unintelligent grunts who only know how to take orders (combined with the Doctor being a Green-Eyed Monster over the fact Clara now had a boyfriend). This is a rare shared berserk button with Clara, who tries to stand at Danny's defence and calls the Doctor out on behaving like a jerk.
  • Big Damn Kiss: Has a few with Clara, with either a funny or serious undertone to them. Their first kiss in "Listen" is gentle and careful. Both of them have just reconciled after having a series of mutual misunderstandings that evening. The kisses in "In the Forest of the Night" and "Last Christmas" play this straighter, but the former is interrupted a little by their amused pupils, and the latter occurs during their sad final farewell.
  • Call-Back: In "Death in Heaven", his heroic willpower allowing him to fight off a Cyberman conversion to preserve his humanity and protect Clara as much as he can, and his plea in "Last Christmas" that Clara remember him at least once a day, is reminiscent of how Clara's doppelgänger Oswin fought off her Dalek reprogramming and tried to stay mentally human in "Asylum of the Daleks" and asked the Doctor to remember her. It's effectively a gender-flipped version.
  • The Casanova: A few of the teachers call him "a real lady killer", despite his protests to the contrary. He just doesn't like to be called a killer in general.
  • Character Death: Hit by a car and uploaded to the Nethersphere in "Dark Water".
  • Dark and Troubled Past: He was a complete orphan from a young age, and as an adult, he later had a traumatic experience while still employed as a professional soldier.
  • Deadpan Snarker: He's got a razor sharp tongue, one good enough to match the Doctor in Snark-to-Snark Combat - something aided by the fact that he's got a unique talent for getting under the Doctor's skin.
  • Drill Sergeant Nasty: An extremely mild version, whenever he gets in the mood to address his pupils like soldiers. Mostly Played for Laughs, except in "Death in Heaven" when he uses the same tone to address the assembled Cybermen.
  • Embarrassing First Name: Considered Rupert to be one. Thanks to the Doctor and Clara, he is inspired to change it to Danny. Clara also tells kid!Danny, even before she realises it's really him, that Rupert isn't such a bad name.
  • Endearingly Dorky: Extremely, in both a funny and serious way. When Clara notices by eavesdropping that he's angry at himself for being awkward in front of her, she warms up to him quickly and assures him he shouldn't feel embarrassed. When he asks her for a second date, he manages to get all the right words, but in the wrong order (because he was purposely trying to be "cool"). Clara's still eager to give him a chance, as she finds him charming and intelligent.
  • Famous Last Words: The last sentence of his speech in "Death in Heaven" is addressed to Clara.
  • Forgotten First Meeting: Clara and the Doctor time travelled to his childhood and spoke with him at length, but he doesn't remember this because the Doctor scrambled his memories of that night. At most, he remembers the dream the Doctor gave him about being "Dan the soldier man".
  • Friend to All Children: Seems to have a way with children, and puts them first in his list of priorities, a fact that Clara finds attractive. It's tied to the traumatic event back in his soldiering days when he accidentally killed an innocent boy. This eventually ties into the Must Make Amends entry.
  • Green-Eyed Monster: Averted. Despite the fact that he is in competition with an alien Time Lord for Clara's time — and, he suspects in "The Caretaker", et al, her affections — Danny displays little actual jealousy towards the Doctor. He's more concerned about the fact the Doctor acts like a military leader who has turned Clara into one of his soldiers, and the fact Clara lies to him about travelling with the Doctor (multiple times) than any potential romantic entanglements. In "Last Christmas", the version of Danny who appears in Clara's shared dream (who may or may not be the actual spirit of Danny) basically instructs her to let him go and move on with her life; he says this while standing next to the Doctor.
  • Heroic Vow: This is a promise! The promise of a soldier! You will sleep safe tonight.
  • Heartwarming Orphan: He grew up in a children's home. This gets him twice the sympathy points as an adult.
  • Head Desk: His go-to response whenever something embarrassing happens is to find a desk and bang his head on it. Being a teacher, they are plenty in reach.
  • Heroic Sacrifice: Twice in "Death in Heaven". First, Danny sacrifices his Cyberman body to stop the clouds from destroying humanity. Second, he passes up his only chance to return from the Nethersphere so the boy that he killed can come back in his place, cementing him as Killed Off for Real.
  • Heroic Willpower: Most people, when confronted with their conversion into Cybermen, usually self destruct out of sheer emotional horror. Danny manages to hold on despite the pain to use his Cyber upgrades to track down and rescue Clara, as well as stay in control long enough to ask for her help.
  • Insecure Love Interest: Both him and Clara are this to each other. In Danny's case, it's his hidden anguish over a mistake he made while still a professional soldier. In Clara's case, it's her decision to withhold certain things from him or tell him white lies, because she wants to avoid him fearing over her too much, or getting into danger with her and the Doctor. Then there's also the fact that both are somewhat socially awkward heroes, orphans, and can be a bit quick to anger.
  • Ironic Nickname: Called a "Lady Killer" by fellow teachers. He really isn't.
  • I Want My Beloved to Be Happy:
    • Even if his relationship with Clara is not always easy, he does genuinely care for her safety and happiness. To the point that, in "Dark Water", he's fully willing to avoid/sabotage a potential reunion with her, because he's worried it could play into the enemy's plans and endanger her life. Clara meets a dream version of Danny in "Last Christmas", and she finds it really hard to let go and would prefer to keep dreaming about their happy life together forever. Though Danny's enjoyed their final (imaginary) Christmas Eve with her, he comforts her gently and pleads that she wakes up and keeps living. She can't grieve forever, and as long as she remembers him once a day, for a few minutes, he'll be perfectly happy.
    • He also seems to be generally OK with Clara travelling with the Doctor as it clearly gives her joy — until "Kill the Moon" when it no longer does, but even then he encourages her to not end her friendship with the Doctor on a "slammed door".
  • Jumped at the Call: Defied. Danny outright refuses to become a companion and would prefer Clara likewise no longer travel with the Doctor — though, to his credit, he pushes for Clara to make up her own mind on that.
  • Knight in Sour Armor: It's best displayed in "In the Forest of the Night", when Clara is surprised Danny still isn't amazed by the TARDIS' capability to travel through space and time and see incredible wonders. Danny explains to her that, having lived through certain things, he's perfectly content with the little wonders of mundane life and cherishes them even more than all the unusual adventures he could have had.
  • Mundanger: A former soldier, fought aliens without hesitation or fear, and how does Danny Pink die? By not paying attention when he's crossing the street, and a car hits him. This is lampshaded by Clara.
  • Must Make Amends: What fuels his decision to give the boy he accidentally killed another chance at living, trading it for his own opportunity to return and be happily reuinted with Clara. It's implied that even if he chose the latter option, the guilt over killing that child would still haunt him for the rest of his life, and he'd never be entirely happy anyway. So he does the more humane thing, though he knows all too well this will prevent him from seeing Clara again.
  • Never My Fault: Averted, while he does take full responsibility for accidentally killing a child, he clearly resents the officer who sent him to attack that building in the first place.
  • Nice Guy: He might have deep qualms about some traumatic experiences from his past, but he's a very nice and polite person. Though he grew outright upset about Clara's behaviour on one or two occasions, he's very forgiving and prefers to approach matters with a cool head. He seems to be OK with Clara travelling with the Doctor (even though, as per "The Caretaker" and other episodes, he suspects Clara feels more for the Time Lord than she's letting on) and in fact is more upset about being lied to about it.
  • Not So Different: Danny suggests this is precisely why the Doctor doesn't like him, as he can see that they're both soldiers, but Danny was a grunt, and the Doctor was "an officer". Ironically, they are both victims of PTSD from war; the Doctor is still haunted by what he did in the Time War, and Danny is haunted by the child he accidentally killed. This makes their slight antagonism towards each other rather tragic, since they could have probably bonded over their war-weariness under better circumstances.
  • Official Couple: With Clara in Series 8. It's something of a dramedy example, as they have plenty of funny and awkward, but also genuinely sweet and touching moments while they try to overcome their differences and understand each other.
  • One Head Taller: To Clara, and rather obvious, given what a short lady she is.
  • Orphan's Ordeal: Clara learns in "Listen", much to her surprise, that he grew up in a children's home. She's noticeably more considerate and less snarky towards him after learning about this part of his past. Though even before she realises the little boy is really him, she attempts her best to make him stop fearing monsters from under the bed.
  • Plot-Triggering Death: In "Dark Water", he dies and so Clara seeks out the afterlife to find him. This leads to Missy's Evil Plan.
  • The Power of Love: His love for Clara and loyalty to her is part of what fuels his Heroic Willpower in the Series 8 finale. He's an ordinary guy, but even in the face of his own imminent, irreversible death, he doesn't give up on his loved ones.
  • A Real Man Is a Killer: Openly defies the idea. Even the good-natured mention of him being a "lady killer" makes him feel wary. He was a soldier and fought like any other, but he didn't become a soldier because of thrill-seeking or wanting to kill people, but because he saw it as a duty to protect others. Though a Shell-Shocked Veteran, he's also a considerate, responsible and kind-hearted person, even after all the bad things he had to experience in his life. In the Series 8 finale, even the Doctor acknowledges Danny's bravery and loyalty to protecting others from harm, and Danny's last words to Clara outright state that his heroic sacrifice is so that her and the other people in danger will be saved.
  • "The Reason You Suck" Speech: He has a razor sharp tongue and a unique talent for getting under the Doctor's skin, very quickly getting the measure of him and repeatedly needling by calling him an officer, describing (quite accurately) why he is one. Possibly the crowning example is in "Death in Heaven", when the Doctor's been making all these wonderful speeches about how Cyber!Danny is still human... then finds out that Danny needs to have the emotional inhibitor activated to fully access the Cybermen's database and get the information to defeat them and Missy.
    "Clara, watch this. This is who the Doctor is. Watch the blood-soaked old general in action." [Turns to the Doctor] "I can't see properly, sir, because this needs activating. If you want to know what's coming, you have to switch it on." *pause* "And didn't all of those beautiful speeches just disappear in the face of a tactical advantage? Sir."
  • Refusal of the Call: He has no desire to see what life is like in the TARDIS, not even once. After all he's been through, he's simply content with valuing a mundane life for better or worse, though he doesn't doubt there are wonderful things to see out there in the universe. That said, in both "The Caretaker" and "Death in Heaven" he has no problem being heroic when needed.
  • Retired Badass: May no longer be in the military, but he is still apparently in top form, especially given his skilled flip over the killer robot in "The Caretaker".
  • Shell-Shocked Veteran: It's heavily implied from the get-go, as soon as we learn of his past career in the military. Whatever he experienced, it has left a traumatic mark on him, though one buried under his usual calm façade. In "Dark Water", we learn what the final straw was for him leaving the army.
  • Single Tear: Sheds one when one of his students insensitively asks if Danny ever killed anyone who was not a soldier.
  • Socially Awkward Hero: Just like Clara, Danny's confident and professional on the surface, but in more personal situations, he can act really shy and awkward, if well-meaning. His conversations with Clara during their tense and rather botched dinner date in "Listen" come off as both endearing and tear-jerking. They both get over their mess-ups by the end of the episode and reconcile in a really tender, romantic moment.
  • That Came Out Wrong: His first meeting with Clara would have been Meet Cute if both of them didn't fall to this trope instead. Their first real date also goes down badly, but they are both very forgiving and gradually grow closer.
  • That Man Is Dead: As said by Cyberman Danny in the season finale, Danny Pink is dead.
  • Tragic Mistake: Gets hit by a car while crossing the road and dies due to his injuries. While on the phone with Clara, who was apparently trying to tell him she'll quit travelling in the TARDIS and stay with him. Ouch! A day or two later, we see a completely distraught Clara lampshading the nature of his unceremonious death to her grandmother.
    Gran: You know what you should do? You should cry. Let go.
    Clara: Of what?
    Gran: It’s a terrible thing. Just a terrible terrible thing.
    Clara: It wasn’t terrible.
    Gran: Clara?
    Clara: [completely numb] It was boring.
    Gran: Boring?
    Clara: It was ordinary. People just kept walking with their iPods and their shopping bags. He was alive and then he was dead and it was nothing. Like stepping off a bus.
  • Undying Loyalty: He's very responsible when it comes to looking after his pupils, and he's deeply, lovingly loyal to Clara even when he has misgivings about her occasional odd behaviour.
  • Vitriolic Best Buds: Averted. The other love interests of companions — Mickey and Rory — after an initial period of resentment and frostiness eventually, ended up earning the respect and friendship of the Doctor. Danny and the Doctor never fully warmed up to each other, possibly due to friction regarding their military pasts. Danny dying didn't improve their relationship either - though there is a hint of respect from the Doctor's end, when post transformation into a Cyberman, the Doctor is aware of/suddenly understands the depth of Danny's love for Clara. Even the scene in "Last Christmas" where they treat each other respectfully exists only as a dream within Clara's mind, this reflecting what Clara would have wished they'd have been like in real life.
  • What the Hell, Hero?: Danny does this to both Clara and the Doctor; Clara for lying to him repeatedly and trying to pass off the incident with the killer alien robot as a "school play", and the Doctor for seemingly treating the whole thing casually and endangering Clara.
  • Wise Beyond Their Years: Clara wonders where he got it. He claims it comes from having "One really bad day." When we learn why he ended his career in the military, we realise what happened on that day.


How well does it match the trope?

Example of:


Media sources: