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Fifth Doctor
"For some people, small, beautiful events are what life is all about!"

First appearance: "Logopolis" (1981)
Debut: "Castrovalva" (1982)
Regeneration story: "The Caves of Androzani" (1984)

Played by: Peter Davison (1981–84, 1993, 2007, 2018, 2022)
Voiced by: Peter Davison (1997); Jon Culshaw (2020)

"Oh, marvellous. You're going to kill me. What a finely tuned response to the situation."

The put-upon Edwardian cricketer. Blessed with a "pleasant open face", the Fifth Doctor lived his life according to the British tradition of fair play. A borderline Glurge Addict, determined to make the best of bad situations, his episodes gained the air of a field trip gone horrifically wrong, his stories tending to have high body counts.

This Doctor was more human than his previous incarnation and behaved a bit like an older brother towards his companions — or perhaps an exasperated Team Dad whenever things would inevitably go haywire. At the same time, he also had stronger shades of an Absent-Minded Professor than usual; being highly curious and eager to learn and explore, but also prone to being easily distracted or getting caught up in his own thoughts and musings, sometimes to the point where he got himself and others into trouble simply by not paying enough attention. While the Doctor was no stranger to running afoul of local authorities — either due to misunderstandings or the local authorities being of the oppressive type — and getting arrested and imprisoned as a result, it happened so often to Five that it became something of a Running Gag for his era, which the Extended Universe would later lampshade mercilessly.

His era was notable for Doctor Who becoming more of an ensemble show, with up to three companions travelling with him at once, something that really wouldn't be seriously attempted again until the Thirteenth Doctor's era. It was also during Five's tenure that the Sonic Screwdriver was destroyed by one of his foes (John Nathan-Turner felt that the show's writers would too often fall back on it as a Deus ex Machina), making the Doctor a more "hands free" character, something that would last until the TV Movie revealed that the Seventh Doctor had built or acquired a new one at some point.

After a trip to Androzani Minor resulted in him and his newest companion Peri touching unrefined spectrox, they developed spectrox toxaemia and had to seek a cure before the poison killed them. They were caught in the middle of a cabal of greed, murder, lust, and the worst luck ever. Fortunately, the Doctor learnt the sickness could be cured, but only managed to save Peri when his body lost the strength to stand and he lost half of the antidote in the dirt. Shortly after his Heroic Sacrifice, the Fifth Doctor underwent a very delirious regeneration while envisioning his latest companions as well as the Master, transforming into a harsher man.

Though young when he was first cast (29, the youngest Doctor ever until Matt Smith), Davison was already a well-known actor, having played in All Creatures Great And Small. He was the first classic Doctor to show up in the new series. His eventual son-in-law David Tennant cited him as his inspiration for playing the Doctor.

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    TV Series Tropes 

Tropes associated with the television series

  • Action Survivor: By comparison with the other Doctors, anyway. If it's a "Base Under Siege" story, just sit back and wait for the Doctor to be tackled to the floor by dour military men. You can set your watch by it!
  • Absent-Minded Professor: Definitely an even stronger trait than usual in this incarnation. As much as Five was just plain unlucky, his tendency to have his head in the clouds and forget (at times rather important) details about the time era/places he visited also tended to land him and his companions in hot water.
  • Adventurer Outfit: This Doctor wears a roll-up Panama hat as though on safari. Sometimes seen wringing the hat with his hands when things aren't going well.
  • All-Loving Hero: He was neither pretentious nor selfish and reacted to situations rather than starting them. His young appearance was reflected in the youthfulness of his companions, whom he treated like friends rather than subordinates, with their pain and sorrow affecting him deeply and their safety his top priority.
    • He was willing to take chances with companions like Turlough and Kamelion, who were originally threats, even as he pretended to be unaware of it in order to grant Turlough the opportunity to do the right thing. He was also willing to make enormous personal sacrifices simply to keep his word and liberate others from suffering and would stop and help others while dealing with greater threats.
  • Arch-Enemy: The Masternote , and the Black Guardian. The former, despite qualifying for the Doctor in general, seemed to frequently appear during Five's era to menace him. The latter, meanwhile, sends an agent to join the Doctor as a companion for the purpose of killing him.
  • Awesome Anachronistic Apparel: 1910s cricket gear... and sneakers.
  • Badass Longcoat: A beige one.
  • Badass Pacifist: Despite his youthful body and love of cricket, he was one of the least physical Doctors, preferring to use diplomacy to solve a problem. He was, however, still very capable when pushed to physical confrontations.
  • Batman Grabs a Gun: Five isn't averse to guns to begin with, and he unloads torrents of bullets/charges on Cybermen, Daleks and Omega alike, but he has a proper Batman Grabs a Gun moment when he decides to murder Davros. (He fails, of course.)
  • Beware the Nice Ones: Looking at the Fifth Doctor, you wouldn't suspect it, would you? Well, the Fifth is also the Doctor who straight-up murdered a Cyberman, then shot it in the chest with its own gun. Repeatedly. He also shot Omega, and he's the one who stood there and watched the Master burn to death. To his credit, this Doctor quickly grew a spine once he realized the universe was no longer playing by the rules.
  • Big Brother Instinct: As the showrunners were firmly against any "hanky-panky in the TARDIS", Five never took notice of Nyssa/Tegan's wardrobe changes or hair, much to their frustration. That being said, he could be counted on to put the safety of his companions above his own.
  • Bishie Sparkle: In his opening sequence.
  • Bittersweet Ending: His regeneration. He ended up regenerating just fine, but the last thing he ever thought of was the Master telling him to die and laughing at him.
  • Born Unlucky: The Doctor is by no means a stranger to inadvertedly land themselves in trouble simply by pure happenstance. But for Five in particular, there was almost a certainty that anything that possibly could go wrong for him would go horribly wrong. Want to know how unlucky Five was? Everything that happens in "The Caves of Androzani" is thanks to his companion tripping and falling down a hole.
  • Break the Cutie: Five was by all means the noblest, and most vulnerable and human-like out of all the Classic Doctors, but he was also the one who the universe most actively seemed to conspire to constantly rain misfortune and trauma down upon. He even starts out broken due to the worst post-regeneration effects before or since that nearly drives him mad, with The Master trying to help him down the road. He gets better, but due to events during his run, he's emotionally beat down to the point where he's not sure if he has the will to regenerate; it's only through remembering his companions and the satisfaction his death would give The Master that he gets through it.
  • Captain Obvious: Frequently with a healthy dose of snark.
  • Character Catchphrase: "Brave heart, (insert character name)." (Especially Tegan, though other companions are similarly cheered up.) He's also shown to be fond of "Sorry, must dash!" when confronted by the usual contingents of armed guards.
  • Character Tics: Typically, he would either stand with his hands in his pockets, flicking the long tails on his coat back in the process, or stand with his hands crossed behind his back. He was also prone to dramatic turns, which usually caused his hair to sway wildly.
  • Characterisation Click Moment: His first two stories saw him largely out of action and largely undefined. His third story "Kinda" saw him really find his footing, with his curious, eager, jovial, yet ultimately naive approach.
  • Chekhov's Gun: Davison begged the showrunner, John Nathan-Turner, to explain the purpose of the celery before his Doctor's number was up. He got his wish in the final episode, "The Caves of Androzani".
  • Chronic Hero Syndrome: There's a delightful little moment in "Arc of Infinity" where, while trying to save both Gallifrey and Earth from Omega's crazed plans, the Doctor knocks an old lady's groceries out of her arms. He quickly stops to help her gather up her things.
  • Colour Motif: He's the most purely good-natured Doctor and he dresses all in white, beige, and off-white.
  • Contrasting Replacement Character: To Four, being much more low-key and fallible, and having a more high-class attitude. Where Four was abrasive and unshakable, Five is polite and vulnerable. And where Four embraced his own alienness in both his outlook and behaviour, Five comes across as much more human-like in those regards.
  • Crazy-Prepared: Wore a stick of celery on his lapel in the slim chance that he would run across gasses in the Praxis range which he was allergic to.
  • Curiosity Killed the Cast: In his final story, "The Caves of Androzani", he notices as much about himself.
    The Doctor: I should never have followed those tracks. Curiosity's always been my downfall.
  • Deadpan Snarker: Of the Gentleman Snarker variety.
  • Determinator: This exchange says it all.
    Stotz: Hands in the air and over here!
    The Doctor: Why?
    Stotz: Because I'll kill you if you don't!
    The Doctor: (feverish) Not a very convincing argument actually, Stotz, because I'm going to die soon anyway, unless of course-
    Stotz: I'll give you to the count of three!
    The Doctor: (now resolute) Unless of course I can find the antidote! I owe it to my young friend to try because I got her into this! So you see; I'M NOT GOING TO LET YOU STOP ME NOW!
  • Distressed Dude: He's captured somehow at least once an adventure. Some days, he's brainwashed. Other days, he's chained up and shot at. He's most frequently physically weakened, and only very (very) rarely manages to stay upright for an entire episode. On a particularly bizarre occasion, Five was nearly mindwiped and replaced with an Evil Knockoff. Man, this Doctor just did not know how to stay out of trouble.
    • Again, this was likely a conscious move away from Four's infallibility. Tom Baker would never have stood for being held prisoner for more than a scene, if that.
    • A whole lot of cliffhangers from this era often have the Fifth Doctor in some sort of danger — this occurs so often, these cliffhangers are called "the Davison Cliffhangers".
  • The Ditherer: Often delegated some decisions to a simple flip of a coin.
  • Doom Magnet: Moreso than any Doctor, excepting the War Doctor, Five has a tendency to leave a massive body count in his wake, with his final arc ending in the deaths of everyone else in it but his companion and a minor character. This is often entirely against his wishes and his best efforts.
  • Dork in a Sweater: His Edwardian cricket outfit includes a v-neck sweater, and he has the Endearingly Dorky Nice Guy attitude to match.
  • Dull Surprise: This Doctor has a tendency to stare, slack-jawed, at things and events a lot. Perhaps directly related to his tendency to have Heroic BSODs.
  • Dying Moment of Awesome: His regeneration was easily the most spectacular from the original series.
  • Face Death with Dignity: He spends most of an entire serial dying, and keeps his head held high.
  • Flanderisation: When the Sonic Screwdriver gets destroyed in The Visitation, he’s saddened, but quickly overcomes it. In the 21st Century, where the Sonic returned to prominence as a go-to gadget, both fan works and spin-offs will have Five lament his lack of a Sonic and say he really needs to create a new one.
  • Future Me Annoys Me: Swats the Tenth Doctor away like a fly at a picnic, not recognizing who he is. When Ten gushes that he modelled himself on Five as a compliment, Five interprets this to mean he's a Loony Fan.
  • Gentleman Adventurer
  • Gentleman Snarker: He is masterful at snarking at people, especially Adric and Tegan, in the politest way possible.
  • Good Is Not Soft: He did possess a dark side, gunning down foes when he deemed it necessary and did not move to save the Master from a fiery death, though was deeply upset by his part in it. He could lose his temper when pushed too far, or when around someone who annoyed him and also showed off an immature and childish side when he argued with Adric about returning to E-Space, a place he personally did not want to go to, coming up with every excuse he could to prevent them from going.
  • Grumpy Old Man: The first actor below middle-age to take on the part, and as such, the first to portray the Doctor as an old man in a young man's body.
  • Hair of Gold, Heart of Gold: He's such a sweetheart.
  • Hallucinations: Immediately after his regeneration, he nearly lost his mind because his synapses weren't connecting properly. This caused him to regress into the First, Second, and Third Doctors before being put into hibernation stasis.
  • Heroic BSoD: Suffered from more than his fair share, compared to the other Doctors. Particularly when Adric died.
  • Heroic Sacrifice: To save Peri's life.
  • Humble Hero: The least egotistical and show-offy of all the Doctors.
    "I'm not helping... officially. And if anyone happens to ask whether I made any material difference to the welfare of this planet, you can tell them I came and went like a summer cloud."
  • Iconic Item:
    • The lapel-mounted celery (his first meal upon regenerating) and Purely Aesthetic Glasses. The latter, however, is not used nearly as often, but Ten takes notice of them. The roll-up hat can count as well, depending on the fan you ask.
    • Some still will insist that it's his sneakers that really complete the outfit, being a modern piece of clothing in an otherwise period costume.
    • Really his entire ensemble is this, to the point where even the Tenth Doctor refers to it as his "Crickety Cricket stuff". Ten notes that he merrily copied the "Brainy Specs" and trainers look from Five.
  • I Know Madden Kombat: This Doctor got lost during his first trip into the TARDIS and stumbled into a sports locker; hence the getup. In point of fact, he's not actually wearing cricket whites, but rather a stylish facsimile. He can even stroll right into a cricket match in progress, so easily mistaken are they for actual gear. The Fifth Doctor's love of cricket would come in handy more than once: he deployed a (bottomless) pocketful of cricket balls as weapons, lobbing them at a spaceship, a robot, an unlucky Sontaran, and even using one for a Weight and Switch.
  • I Was Quite a Fashion Victim: As happy as the Tenth Doctor is to see him again, he doesn't seem to miss the days of dressing like a vegetarian Dick Tracy.
    "Brave choice, celery. But fair play to you. Not a lot of men can carry off a decorative vegetable."
  • Light Is Good: A handsome blond guy in cricketing whites, and one of the kinder Doctors.
  • Limited Wardrobe: He wore a Panama hat, white tennis shoes, orange, cream and brown stripes trousers, a V-necked cricketing jumper, and a buff frock coat with red piping. And a stick of celery on his lapel. In season 21 his costume had slight alterations in terms of patterns and color, but the changes were so slight you'd hardly notice them.
    • In "Planet of Fire", he ditched the coat and jumper altogether whilst in the warmer climes of Lanzarote and wore an embroidered waistcoat instead.
  • Literalist Snarking: Brand of snark he frequently employs.
  • Magnetic Hero: Travels with lots of companions at the same time, much like One.
  • Masculine Girl, Feminine Boy: His relationship with Tegan is best described as this.
  • My Greatest Second Chance: His last word is “Adric”, demonstrating that his tenure was defined by the loss of a companion, so it’s fitting he dies saving one.
  • Nice Guy: An all-around pleasant individual, the Fifth Doctor is a gallant, empathic, open-minded and humble Gentleman Adventurer who always looks out for the people he cares about.
  • No Hugging, No Kissing: This is definitely one of the more chaste and hands-off Doctors, by decree from above. He only gets a very occasional hug or peck on the cheek with his companions. Although it doesn't stop some fans (and Davison himself!) from noticing he's more than willing to throw his hands onto Adric.
  • Not Helping Your Case: The Doctor must not be familiar with Murder, She Wrote. In "Black Orchid", he won't state his name for the record because it's infamous in faraway lands, he doesn't carry I.D., and his idea of arguing one's innocence is shouting that he knows where to find more bodies.
    Doctor: I've no reason to harm you! And besides...
    Muir: Besides what?
    Doctor: (earnestly) Well, it wouldn't be cricket.
  • Not Now, Kiddo: Ironically for someone who dealt with thick-headed generals or obstructive bureaucrats almost weekly, he had a low attention span when it came to complaints from his team. This proved a serious mistake in "Snakedance".
  • Once Done, Never Forgotten: His "Brainy Specs". He doesn't even need them, he just thinks they make him look clever.
    • If you believe Ten. In "Four to Doomsday", Five claims to claims to suffer from a defect of sight in his left eye.
  • O.O.C. Is Serious Business: In his final story (his only one written by Robert Holmes), the Doctor indulges in some Fourth Doctor-style banter with his captors. The key difference here is that, unlike Four, Five isn't in total control — he's sweating under the collar and playing a brinkmanship game, desperate not to get everyone killed.
    • Also applies to his first filmed story; as the character obviously wasn't nailed down yet, Five comes across as more snarky and short-tempered than usual.
  • Offered the Crown: Was offered the presidency of Gallifrey in "The Five Doctors". He wasn't keen on it.
  • Plot-Sensitive Snooping Skills: Tends to be pretty perceptive about most people, but anyone he's put under the flag of friend he tends to believe the best of and tends to fail to see things in them that he doesn't expect to see.
  • The Pollyanna: Enamored with the universe and everything in it, this Doctor was not always willing to acknowledge that his companions weren't having fun at all.
  • Purely Aesthetic Glasses: Occasionally. Peter Davison actually admitted he stopped wearing what were later called the "brainy specs" after a while because of ribbing from certain members of the cast. He put them back on for the "Time Crash" mini-episode with David Tennant.
  • Quintessential British Gentleman: And extremely at home in The Edwardian Era.
  • Ragtag Bunch of Misfits: His team TARDIS at one point consisted of a bored stewardess from Australia, a stoic teenaged scientist princess who was the Last of Her Kind, a snotty teenaged maths dork from an Alternate Universe, and, well, a renegade Time Lord who inexplicably dressed in Edwardian cricket gear and decorative food.
    • And if that weren't enough, they later killed off the snotty teenaged maths dork, but replaced him with a surly young man in a nice suit that was secretly working for the bad guy in his first appearance. And everyone else was still there, at least for 1 more story, when he joined up. Then came a rarely-seen humanoid robot (the prop was very difficult to operate) who also got killed just to shove him out the door and a strong-willed but delicate botanist just to top it all off.
  • Rail Enthusiast: Five once confessed that, when he was a child, he always wanted to be a train conductor. This is too geeky even for Nyssa. ("Black Orchid")
  • A Real Man Is a Killer: Five is, in one sense, the noblest of the Doctors, but in his successor's opinion, also the least effective because of it.
    Sixth Doctor: Change, my dear... and it seems not a moment too soon.
  • Rogues Gallery: The Master, the Mara, Terileptils, Cybermen, Omega, the Black Guardian, Borusa, Silurians, Sea Devils, Tractators, Daleks, Davros, and Sharaz Jek.
  • Shoo Out the Clowns: "Resurrection of the Daleks" was a critique of the show's premise: this isn't fun anymore, people are getting hurt. Unfortunately, it takes until Androzani for the Doctor to realize the perils of dropping into worlds on a whim. His friendly handshakes are refused and his witty repartee falls on deaf ears. There’s a sense, leading into Davison's regeneration, that the universe is shifting and changing around the Doctor.
    Lt. Scott: (shoves gun muzzle under his chin) Too many people have died for you to play the fool!
  • Silly Rabbit, Cynicism Is for Losers!: The Tenth Doctor chalks up his old man incarnations to a teenager's emo period, and treasures the wisdom he gleaned from his time as Five.
  • The Snark Knight: Extremely sarcastic, especially towards Tegan and Adric. When he's not actually snarking at them, his facial expressions speak volumes, and he's the master of the eye roll.
  • Stepford Smiler: After Adric dies.
  • Sugar-and-Ice Personality: Very fatherly and, well, English, but also very crass at times — especially towards Adric, who felt downright bullied by him.
  • Team Dad: Saw his young companions more as kids on a field trip than as equals. In many ways he acts as a stand-in father to Nyssa (an orphan), Tegan (an outcast), and Adric (a refugee), and later Turlough (an exile).
  • Technical Pacifist: It's technically not murder if your enemy may have Joker Immunity.
  • Think Nothing of It: One of the more humble Doctors; that said, it becomes a particular point in "Frontios", where he and his companions visit a human colony that's so far in the future that the Time Lords would disapprove. At the end, the colony thanks him for saving them, and he tells them, "Don't mention it." Turlough clarifies, "He means it. Literally." i.e. the Doctor doesn't want the colonists to let the Time Lords find out about it.
  • Thousand-Yard Stare: The denouement of "Earthshock". The Doctor turns to stone while Tegan, almost penitently, demands some sort of miracle from him and receives none.
    • Also after having to Mercy Kill Kamelion and letting the Master burn to (apparent) death. He can't even force his Stepford smile when Peri breaks him out of it.
  • Too Good For This Sinful Galaxy: He witnessed the mutual destruction of humans and primordials in "Warriors of the Deep". He saw what the future had in store for mankind in "Frontios". In "Resurrection of the Daleks", Five was pushed to the point where he considered executing Davros, but he lost his nerve and everyone else croaked anyway. "The Caves of Androzani" presented a society so corrupt that even the Doctor couldn't save it (at least not entirely), and the sheer filth of the place destroyed him.
  • Tragic Hero: Often the writing itself conspires to make for a downbeat ending, with the Doctor being wilfully blind to dangers, having a companion who isn't very adept at adventuring, and lacking previous Doctors' nigh-omnipotence to get him out of jams.
  • Undying Loyalty: The lengths to which he went in saving Peri from the horrors of Androzani Major. It's particularly touching when you realise that he'd only met her in the previous serial. (The later Big Finish audios show that they travelled together much longer than just the two serials, though.)
  • Vitriolic Best Buds: Aside from Nyssa, he seems to share this relationship with all of his companions. But especially with Tegan and Adric.
  • Walking Disaster Area: People pretty much tend to drop dead as soon as he walks in. Lampshaded in "Frontios" (a comparatively upbeat episode).
    Range: Yes, no more terror descending from the sky!
    Turlough: (Not unless you count the TARDIS.)
  • Wardrobe Flaw of Characterization: He dresses smartly in immaculate quasi-Edwardian cricket whites, but with a celery stalk attached to his lapel.note 
  • What Have We Ear?: He learns coin magic from Adric, which is fairly adorable. Of course, he already knew some degree of coin magic as the Third Doctor.

    Comic Tropes 

Tropes associated with Doctor Who Magazine

  • Rogues Gallery: Melanicus, Ice Warriors, the Monk, the Moderator, and Josiah W. Dogbolter.

    Book Tropes 

Tropes associated with the Virgin Missing Adventures

  • Adventurer Archaeologist: The Sands of Time sees the Doctor join an expedition to Egypt in the Victorian era as part of his efforts to learn what has happened to his companion Nyssa.
  • And Then John Was a Zombie: In Goth Opera, the Doctor at least start to become a vampire when he is turned by Ruath, an old acquaintance of his from Gallifrey, but he is able to avert this before the change becomes permanent.
  • Batman Gambit: The Sands of Time sees the Doctor defeat a virtually all-powerful entity by exploiting her current state of being essentially mentally handicapped to trick his foe into trapping herself in a time loop
  • Future Me Scares Me: Witnessing his seventh incarnation in Cold Fusion leaves the Fifth Doctor horrified at the notion that he will some day be capable of manipulating others into destroying their entire universe (albeit to save his own).
  • Rogues Gallery: Ferutu, Maximillian Arrestis, Nephthys, Ruath, Rutan Host, & Sontarans.
  • The Slow Path: In The Crystal Bucephalus, the Doctor spends five years stuck on a distant ice planet until he is able to return to the titular time-travelling restaurant by opening his own restaurant and making it so good it will attract the attention of the Bucephalus.

Tropes associated with BBC Past Doctor Adventures

  • Adventurer Archaeologist: In The Ultimate Treasure, the Doctor is forced to join one of a group of expeditions competing against each other for a mythical treasure; many of the traps encountered in this case are justified as part of a series of tests left by the treasure’s original owner and maintained by its current guardians as part of their research into the human condition.
  • Batman Grabs a Gun: Imperial Moon culminates in the normally-pacifist Fifth Doctor forced to use advanced weaponry to kill the ruthless Vrall before they can essentially destroy Victorian-era Earth
  • Beware the Nice Ones: While normally a pacifist, the events of Warmonger force the Fifth Doctor to become a military leader of a vast alliance that includes some of his more regular enemies- the Sontarans, the Ice Warriors and the Cybermen in particular- against an army led by the renegade Time Lord Morbius, mounting a successful year-long campaign that earns him the respect of all of his normal foes (and he does this while using an alias so that he doesn’t have his usual reputation as the Doctor as ‘evidence’ that he knows what he’s doing).
  • Rogues Gallery: The Celestial Toymaker, the Creatures on the Other Side, the Dark, Jex, Morbius, Valethske, Vrall, & Xaranti.
  • Spotting the Thread: The Doctor displays this particularly keenly in Imperial Moon, although it takes him nearly falling into a coma from oxygen starvation to put the pieces together and realise the full extent of what he’s up against.

    Audio Tropes 

Tropes associated with Big Finish
Voiced by: Peter Davison (1999–present)

Soldier: You are under arrest.
Fifth Doctor: Am I? What a surprise! Honestly, what was that? 30 seconds? Well, at least I've got it over with.

The Edwardian cricketer; vulnerable and highly noble. As in the original show, he's a friendly — though rather testy — guy who's willing to give anyone a chance. Big Finish tends to also show a darker and more bitter side of his personality at times, and fully explores his change in attitude after "Earthshock".
  • 10-Minute Retirement: This incarnation feels suited for settling down and starting a family, and indeed the Doctor entertains the possibility of hanging up his roll-up hat for good. ("Loups-Garoux", "Circular Time")
  • Accidental Proposal: In "Loups-Garoux", the Doctor promises to be Ileana's new champion (grand heroic speech and all), not realising that it would make him her husband.
  • Always Save the Girl: You can always count on Five to put everything on the line for Nyssa and Tegan, no matter what — even if he bungles everything else in the process.
  • Always Someone Better: The Doctor is instructed to go fetch another Time Lord exile: Cardinal Zero, currently mucking about with the evolution of an avian species. Zero makes a proper fool of Five by staging his own murder, falling safety into his TARDIS, regenerating into an avian "god" and commanding his followers to chase the Doctor off their planet.
  • Ambadassador: Completely embodies this trope, especially in "The Game" — much more so than he realises. It turns out he's personally responsible for having peacefully ended 36 wars, though from his perspective, he hasn't done it yet. May double as Throw the Dog a Bone.
  • Apologizes a Lot: And even when he's being sarcastic, he still comes across as sounding sincere, simply by virtue of being such a Quintessential British Gentleman. This became an odd mix of silly and heart-wrenching when he rather off-handedly apologised to a Cyberman for not being able to put it out of its misery.
  • Bad Liar: He's much too polite to properly lie, and laments how he used to be better at it in his previous lives. "Spare Parts" gives us this bit:
    Dodd: Where're your ID papers? And no ration card?
    Doctor: Sorry, I seem to have mislaid them.
    Dodd: You have no family?
    Doctor: No, lost them, too! Terribly careless.
    • Even the TARDIS' translator circuit can't save him. Five's practiced German sounds far too twee to belong on an imperial submarine, and he's hauled off by the neck immediately in "The Sirens of Time".
    • The Doctor tries bribing his way out of jail by claiming he's an alchemist, using a phony gold nugget as proof. He also starts speaking in verse... until Nyssa elbows him ("A bit less arch, Doctor"). This humiliation is all for naught, as the guard asks to see the trick again. ("Circular Time")
      "Old lies are the best. I like the part about 'riches beyond measure', but it's steady work, this. And I've got a large family to feed."
  • The Beautiful Elite: Gets into serious trouble in "Creatures Of Beauty" because of his pretty face — he lands on a planet where being part of The Beautiful Elite can get you killed.
    • Also invoked when he gets mistaken for a Thal.
  • Blood Sport: Accidentally becomes the star player of one in "The Game".
  • Boomerang Bigot: The Doctor once belonged to the Prydonian Chapter of Time Lords, evidently the Slytherin House of their society. The Prydonians tend to produce clever villains at a quite alarming rate (including Rassilon and the Master), to the point where the Doctor affirms that you can't trust one of them for a second. This gets an eyebrow raise from Nyssa in "Circular Time"
  • Briar Patching: He shows himself to be something of a sneaky bastard when he deliberately gives Nyssa the wrong door code, knowing that she wouldn’t be able to resist confronting Kwundaar. (Primeval)
  • Broken Pedestal: Inverted via time travel. Turns out the galaxy's greatest diplomat (and the Doctor's biggest hero), Lord Carlisle, can't claim responsibility for negotiating those 37 armistices. He had a helper: a well-preserved bloke with a celery stalk on his lapel. The peace talks on Cray are intended to be his last triumph, leading to a comedy of errors as Carlisle keeps turning the floor over to Five, while Five keeps deferring to his esteemed idol.
  • Bunny-Ears Lawyer: The Time Lords are clever: they send him to places they know he would give his right arm to see, and if he refuses they will just send some "stuffy dull bureaucrat" in his place. This is discussed in "Circular Time".
  • Celibate Hero: Especially when he's written by Marc Platt, who came up with the infamous looms thing in the novels continuity. Five outright states that women are not his "area".
  • Cloning Blues: In "Omega".
  • Create Your Own Villain & You Are What You Hate: The Fifth Doctor arrives on Mondas in the past and is captured by its proto-Cybermen. His Time Lord physiology is then used as the template for the Cyber race, allowing their Cyber-Commander, Zheng, to 'regenerate' after seemingly being pulled offline in "Spare Parts".
  • Crouching Moron, Hidden Badass: King Louis takes him for a jester rather than a consort, and (in a nice nod to the Dumas books), he is hounded all over Paris by two musketeers who keep challenging him to duels over a minor slight in "The Church and the Crown". When push comes to shove, however, the Doctor still keeps his sword arm sharp. "Phew. Not bad for a jester."
  • Depending on the Writer: The Doctor and Tegan still argue with each other constantly, but the audio stories flip flop on whether they are Vitriolic Best Buds or if it's a case of Teeth-Clenched Teamwork and the Doctor is too polite to just get rid of her; stories without Tegan in them often have the Doctor remembering her less-than-fondly, and in "The Burning Prince" he chooses to spend some time travelling alone explicitly because he's not ready to have her back onboard the TARDIS. On the other side, he will occasionally defend her character to dismissive villains, goes into a Heroic BSoD when he believes she has died in "The Emerald Tiger" and, in "Circular Time" when he is in mental contact with all of his prior companions, he singles out Tegan to tell her he's glad to have her with him as he dies.
  • Distressed Dude: Now often lampshaded by the Doctor, depending on the writer and adventure. His very first adventure saw Five getting his leg broken — by Six falling on top of him, no less! This is immediately followed by being kidnapped, bound, tortured, and screaming in agony in the background for a whole scene.
  • Doom Magnet: Upon finding out that his last time holding the Key to Time has now threatened the universe again, this Doctor sets out to save reality. Again. Unfortunately, this Doctor's quest to fix that almost instantly resulted in the cataclysm that made the Martians into the Ice Warriors. Whoops.
    • And this isn't even going into the fact that this Doctor seems to gather more disasters around him than any of his other incarnations, like in "The Burning Prince", where the TARDIS just decides to drop the Doctor into the middle of a mess. Because it can.
  • Dying Dream: The last part of "Circular Time" is revealed to be taking place inside the Fifth Doctor's mind as he regenerates into the Sixth.
  • Endangered Soufflé: Five used the metaphor to explain why he always keeps his hypotheses to himself (or "in the oven") in "Winter For The Adept". He's not trying to be impressive; he just doesn't want to jinx them.
  • Forgets to Eat: When he's distracted by a project, Nyssa sometimes has to force him to remember basic things like sleep and food.
  • Heroic Sacrifice: "The People Made of Smoke" sees the Doctor condemn himself to be trapped in his own TARDIS with a race of energy-draining beings created by Abby and Zara's actions because the alternative was to kill his former companions, and it is shown that the creatures made him regenerate at least once while trying to force him to return them to reality; the Doctor only survives because Abby and Zara make one last big change to reality to basically hit the Reset Button and get the Doctor to safety.
  • Hijacked by Ganon: A very odd example, in that Five very frequently turns out to be the one responsible in the end for the mass genocide of civilisations, or the creation of murderous races. Entirely by accident, of course, but the trope is played to the letter otherwise. Basically, if a Fifth Doctor episode doesn't disclose the identity of its villain at first, there's a very high chance Five has been accidentally responsible.
    • Though at least the Ice Warrior fate has been retconned as of "Cold War" in the revival series. so at least one was somewhat averted...
    • And then there's the Key 2 Time storyline, which directly reveals the Doctor is at fault for the Universe being in danger, thanks to his meddling with the Key to Time as the Fourth Doctor. And that's before the story begins the other disasters...
  • I Can't Dance: The mark of a gentleman is that he knows how to Charleston, but doesn’t, as seen in "Primeval". This is somewhat disingenuous of him as seen with the Ninth Doctor.
  • I Hate Past Me: In Excelis Dawn, the Fifth Doctor reflects with Iris Wildthyme about why he doesn't seem to be as fun as she remembered him to be in other incarnations. He looks back on his previous self as a Smug Super who thought he was invincible. And it was Adric's death early in his current incarnation that served as a wakeup call. He does not mention which past Doctor in particularnote , but many speculate by his exact wording that he may be referring especially to his immediate predecessor.
  • I Let Gwen Stacy Die: It's alluded to more than once that The Doctor spends a long time struggling with his guilt over letting Adric die in "Earthshock". When he later meets the Seventh Doctor in "Cold Fusion" (set before Adric died), Seven is shown to be upset enough that he briefly considers changing time to let Adric live.
  • I Meant to Do That:
    Zero: Not all Time Lords want to use up all their lives the way you've frittered yours.
    Doctor: (withering) I wouldn’t say that they were frittered!
  • I Reject Your Reality: He finds it is always better to adopt a positive approach to life...or a delusional one! (Iterations of I) Unfortunately this philosophy doesn't always hold water:
    • In 1980, when UNIT finds the TARDIS underneath several layers of ancient Pompeii rubble, Five refuses to even see her and decides that he'll only worry about it once it actually happens to him.
    • In Spare Parts, the Doctor is fixated on the idea that Mondas is Trafalgar Square ('Look, tram lines! Probably the 1950s.'), wilfully ignoring the mine carts and giant underground cavern overhead. Yes, this is a running habit with the Doctor but his gabby desperation here speaks of real anxiety. (Also, his denial here is similar to Mickey's in another Cybermen episode, "Rise of the Cybermen.")
    • In "Circular Time", the Doctor and Nyssa are caught fobbing off future currency during the Jacobin era. Ever the optimist, Five consoles Nyssa by pointing out that at least they're all Earth-based coins. Could've been worse!
      Nyssa: We're in a torture chamber. It would be interesting to know what your idea of "a lot worse" is.
  • It Never Gets Any Easier: The Doctor's repeated encounters with death have begun to wear on him. "The Burning Prince" leaves the Doctor wallowing with guilt over the end result.
    Fifth Doctor: Just one... would it have been too much to ask that I'd just... saved... one. Empire be Praised... Empire be Praised...
  • It Only Works Once: Gold leaf does not work on the sixties-era Cybermen. Must be a weakness of the later model. Uh oh.
  • James Bondage: In "The Church and the Crown", the Doctor is strapped to a creaking torture device which sounds highly unpleasant. Ever the snarker, he thanks his torturer for elongating his limbs and making it easier to drive the TARDIS.
  • Knight in Sour Armor: Depending on the story, at the least.
  • Lotus-Eater Machine & Snow Means Death: The last chapter of "Circular Time", "Winter", shuffles between two possible realities. Nyssa and the Doctor are now middle-aged and settled with their respective spouses, with the Doctor retired in a "farmhouse" that looks suspiciously like a TARDIS. The Doctor's realty is the false one: the Master's lingering control over Kamelion is allowing him to shape-shift into the Doctor's wife and kids. Thanks to the encouragement of his other companions, also mentally linked with him, the Doctor sees through the illusion and realizes the truth: he is dying of spectrox poisoning on Androzani Minor.
  • Magnetic Hero: As well as many adventures with his usual companions from the TV series, many of Five's stories have him either working with a single-episode companion when he gets separated from his friends or acquiring new, audio-exclusive companions for several story arcs, like Erimem, Hannah and Amy.
  • The Musketeer: As a reward for his service in the name of France, he became a bona fide cardinal guard and musketeer in The Church and the Crown. Despite his distaste for firearms, even Five knew better than to contradict the hotheaded King Louis and accepted his pistols with grace. His suggestion for a new catchphase doesn't quite go over, though.
    Rouffet: "All for one and one for all"?
    Delmarre: (scoffs) It will never catch on.
  • Mythology Gag: While rotting in a English jail cell in "Circular Time", the Doctor tries confusing the guard with a phony baloney incantation. It's actually Jon Pertwee's single "Who is the Doctor?"
  • Nice Job Breaking It, Hero: In "The Lady of Mercia", poor Tegan accidentally swaps places in time with the warrior queen Æthelfrid on the eve of her battle with the Viking hordes. After spending a few minutes ducking the hilt of a very irritated monarch, the Doctor immediately hops into the TARDIS to deliver Æthelfrid back to the dark ages — and warps straight into the waiting arms of the Danes. Brilliant.
    Nyssa: (panting) Doctor, must every plan of yours end with us running away?
    Doctor: That's not true!
    • The Fourth Doctor took credit for the discovery of gravity, as he's the one who hurled the apple at Isaac Newton. In "Circular Time", Five mentions it again to curry favour with "Sir Isaac", who is still incensed about it. ("My nose bled for four days!")
    • In Spare Parts, the Doctor is adamant that nothing can stop the unleashing of Cybermen on the universe. At Nyssa's urging, though, he manages to push the planet backwards, away from certain destruction in a nebula. Unfortunately, the Doctor skips out on the reconstruction effort — just as the Cybermen drop their shovels and decide to start processing humans to make the work go faster...
  • "Not So Different" Remark: A key part of the reason why he's reluctant to kill Abby and Zara in "Wicked Sisters" is that he recognises that their actions are fundamentally not that different from what he would like to do if he had the power to perform such feats, even if he also has the experience to recognise the risks of their approach where the sisters just focus on the end result.
  • Odd Friendship: He and Iris Wildthyme are polar opposites, and he makes a good show of not wanting to be involved in her life... but he did voluntarily spend Christmas in her TARDIS once, and took Tegan, Nyssa and Adric along just for fun. (Iris claims it's all a case of Belligerent Sexual Tension.)
  • Once an Episode: Almost invariably, Five will have a moment of kicking himself for not replacing his sonic screwdriver. Six and Seven get a bit of it, too, but it's much more prevalent with this Doctor.
  • Playing Cyrano: While Nyssa puts pen to paper about her life on Traken, the Doctor uncharacteristically goes on vacation. She soon meets an eligible boy in town, and while Five is clearly lukewarm at that idea, he nonetheless signs a commitment with the Stockbridge cricket team for the remainder of the season. Nyssa soon realizes that the Doctor's running himself ragged for her benefit.
  • Properly Paranoid: After what happened to him in "Time-Flight", Five refuses to set foot on a commuter plane ever again. Ten eventually forgot this lesson, and suffered accordingly in "Midnight".
    • While visiting a treetop city in "Circular Time", Nyssa observes that he's seemingly afraid of heights, chalking it up to the Fourth Doctor's splattering death.
  • Quintessential British Gentleman: To the point where he confuses a group of German soldiers by naturally speaking textbook German, without any kind of accent, and still somehow sounding rather suspiciously like an English gentleman.
  • Real Men Wear Pink: Nyssa is fond of needling him about his "stockings". The Doctor snaps that they're called cricket pads. And they're manly, damn it.
  • Revision: The Fifth Doctor is the only Big Finish Doctor who doesn't have a gap between stories on television where he's travelling alone. Thus, if BF ever want to do a Five story without any companions, they have to find some in-story explanation for his companions' absence.note  One of these stories, 2003's "Omega", is implied to take place during the end of "Arc of Infinity". A later release, 2012's "The Burning Prince", begins directly after "Omega", and the Doctor decides not to immediately go back to Amsterdam as he's in no hurry to be reunited with Tegan and would rather have some adventures on his own for a bit, thus creating a suitable gap for any future companionless stories to fit into. A similar gap is established in 2020's "Time Alone", when the Doctor leaves his current companions (Nyssa, Tegan and Marc) behind as he feels they need some time apart after their recent traumatic experience involving Marc being partially converted into a Cyberman.
  • Rogues Gallery: Adric the Scorpion King, the Black Guardian, Cybermen, Daleks, Eldrad, Ice Warriors, Kwundaar, Magnus Greel, the Mara, the Master, the Monk, Sir Nikolas Valentine, the Nine, Omega, Racnoss, Rutan Host, Sontarans, Tartarus, Vlad the Impaler, Viyrans, Weeping Angels, William Shakespeare, and Zarbi.
  • Running Gag: A couple of jokes are repeated through the stories with Peri and Erimem:
    • The first is someone in a position of authority assuming that the Doctor is Erimem's jester.
    • The second is people keep offering the Doctor swords. Despite his best attempts to refuse, he usually ends having to accept and getting in a swordfight, although not necessarily in that order. (As established in The King's Demons, the Fifth Doctor is an expert swordsman and often finds himself in swordfights in the audio plays, despite being a Technical Pacifist.)
  • Serious Business: Now that Turlough's no longer in school, the Doctor takes it upon himself to teach him "useful" things — like the finer points of Cricket (all twelve billion of them)!
    Turlough: (impatient) Silly.
    Doctor: No, no, no. Silly mid off's different altogether.
    Turlough: I meant it's silly! The whole game!
    • In "Circular Time", the Doctor becomes the star player of the Stockbridge Cricket Club. It becomes apparent that this "vacation" is anything but, as the Doctor's attitude of "it's just a game!" comes under fire by his rabid teammates.
  • The Snark Knight: Often hand-in-hand with the status of this Doctor's personality.
  • Stable Time Loop: The First Doctor would encounter Mondas in "The Tenth Planet" after it returned to our solar system. The hapless Fifth Doctor is responsible for pushing Mondas away from the nebula that would've destroyed it, causing it to reverse course back in Earth's direction. This makes him indirectly responsible for the First Doctor's regeneration, too.
    • By exorcising Kwundaar from Trakken, the Doctor steps into the position of the Keeper, the first ever. This event helped banish superstition from the planet and ushered in a new era of enlightenment. (He quickly hands the title off to Shela.)
    • In a River Song-like twist, Five's initial meeting with Darzil Carlisle is also his last: Carlisle dies after admitting that he was just an unremarkable musician whom the Fifth Doctor picked up and sculpted into a great 'diplomat'. The Doctor is then obliged to go back in time and negotiate three dozen peace conferences to ensure his friend's legacy.
    • Five thinks it would be a good idea to introduce Nyssa to The Beatles in "Fanfare For the Common Men", but is nonplussed to find they've been overwritten in history by copycats, The Common Men. The group first turned up in "An Unearthly Child" under the moniker "John Smith and the Common Men", which Susan professed to be a fan of (and the First Doctor detested). After tracking down the crooked manager who was the root of the problem, the Doctor revisits the band in '57 and and finds they aren't doing too well without alien influence. At the suggestion of the Doctor, the Common Men — happy to do anything that pays — form a backing group to "John Smith", thus restoring the band to their proper place in history — second place.
    • In the "Forty" miniseries, circumstances require the Doctor to create a time rip using three distinct points in time and space as the focal points. The displaced consciousness of the younger Fifth uses the three locations he himself has visited to form these points, which the "prime" Doctor notes is only possible because he already sent himself there.
  • Stiff Upper Lip: He is a first class gentleman, determined to maintain civility not out of wilful naivete (as in the TV series) but a refusal to sink to his adversaries' level.
  • Strapped to an Operating Table: Frequently.
  • Tomato in the Mirror: In "Forty", the younger Fifth Doctor who has been sent jumping around through time is ultimately just a copy of the Doctor's consciousness rather than the actual younger Doctor, as his mind is breaking down from the strain of the jumps and the "real" Fifth can't just send him back to the point where he came from without risking the "duplicate" trying to change history to save Adric.
  • Unwitting Pawn: In Primeval, the Doctor is manipulated into handing Traken's sun over to their equivalent of Lucifer. Five thinks he's outsmarted him by turning the shields up, but this accidentally blocks out the suns's light, allowing the Old One's followers to come pouring in.
    Nyssa: You've handed him the ultimate power of the universe.
    Doctor: Yes, I rather fear I have.
  • Vocal Dissonance: In comparison to the other actors playing the Doctor for Big Finish, most of whom sound more or less the same as they did decades ago, Peter Davison's voice has noticeably aged and, unlike the actors playing his companions, he makes no attempt to pitch up his voice to sound younger. His sounding older than he should is lampshaded by the Fifth and Seventh Doctors during "Cold Fusion".
  • Walking Disaster Area
  • Warrior Poet: He's quite fond of poetry, and at one point frantically recites The Rime of the Ancient Mariner to block out mind control.
  • Woobie, Destroyer of Worlds: All the time.
  • You Are in Command Now: In "Time in Office", which follows the events of "The Five Doctors", the Time Lords find that no else is willing to step up as Lord President, and so capture the Doctor once again and force him to take up the office. The Doctor is not thrilled in the slightest about this, and it takes him about a year to plan his way out of the situation, culminating in him reforming the Gallifreyian political system to remove some of the flaws he sees in the system, before appointing a successor and then finally being able to step back.
    Doctor: Having me as President is absurd! And I am not wearing those robes!
  • You Can't Fight Fate: Having lost Adric to the Cybermen, he gets really shouty when he's then roped up in the creation of the Cybermen against his will, and actively attempts to derail the creation of the Cyber-race, the effects on his personal timeline be damned. He wound up ensuring both their creation and salvation, after the finished Cybermen are made possible thanks to a blueprint scan of his brain.


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Alternative Title(s): Fifth Doctor


The Fifth Doctor Regenerates

Succumbing to a painful and fatal poisoning that he contracted by accident at the start of the story, the Fifth Doctor is comforted by visions of his past companions and taunted by a vision of his arch-enemy, the Master, before regenerating into his sixth incarnation, thus allowing Colin Baker to take on the role from Peter Davison.

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