Follow TV Tropes


Characters / Doctor Who Masters

Go To


The Master
The sometimes ghastly and almost always dastardly-looking faces of the televised Master. note 

"I am the Master and you will obey me."

Apart from the Daleks, the Master is Doctor Who's most persistent individual enemy. The villain is another renegade Time Lord from Gallifrey, conceived as the Moriarty to the Doctor's Holmes. The Master was the Doctor's friend (or maybe more) when they were students at the Academy, and the Doctor still hopes they'll reconcile again someday. The Master, on the other hand, can never quite decide between wanting to kill the Doctor or wanting to spend as much time with them as possible — or, occasionally, both. The one thing all Masters can agree on is that if anyone else tries to kill the Doctor, then all bets are off as to that person's continued existence.


Although the character started out calm and collected, as the years have gone on the numerous incarnations of the Master have fallen off the cliff and skidded down the hill into a more and more unhinged madness, losing bits and pieces of sanity with each new body. Extremely camp in any incarnation and a constant source of Foe Romance Subtext to the Doctor — with the Psycho Ex subtext between them gradually becoming explicit over the years, though the specifics vary Depending on the Writer.

While the Doctor's incarnations are generally referred to as "The Nth Doctor", the Master's incarnations are most often distinguished by the name of the actor playing them. This is because there's some controversy over the exact numbering in subsequent bodies, which number regeneration Roger Delgado was meant to be, in addition to many alternate-timeline Masters and an unknown amount of possible unseen ones. The Master has returned and endured mostly by cheating death or being resurrected in various ways, likes stealing bodies, and has had many onscreen incarnations (though most of them died offscreen).


The Master uses up regenerations relatively fast, due to so many nefarious schemes backfiring. This has caused the character to suffer horrific levels of disfigurement while stuck on old bodies and unable to heal, to filch replacement flesh and blood by force, and even to devise a way to exist as a disembodied monstrosity after having been cremated once. When the Time War exploded across reality, the Master was given another regeneration cycle, but this time around has been stingier about using them, even choosing death over regenerating once, knowing there was a way to return from the grave without using up a body.

    open/close all folders 

    In General 
  • Ambiguous Start of Darkness: The drumming in his head that vexed Simm's incarnation. It supposedly drove him mad and it's known to have been in his head since he was eight, but wasn't mentioned until the Revival Series. It's unclear if this is an out-of-universe Retcon and the root cause of his villainy, or an in-universe Retcon caused by the Time War that merely made an already evil man even crazier.
  • Arch-Enemy: The most recurring individual adversary for the Doctor, with only Davros challenging this claim.
  • Aristocrats Are Evil: A figurative and literal Time Lord. Their family owned estates back on Gallifrey.
  • Bad Boss: The Master frequently sacrifices or outright murders their own underlings or allies, often just for fun. Casualties of this approach include George McDermott, a squad of Cybermen, Chang Lee (he got better), the UK Cabinet, the entire Cult of Saxon, Dr. Chang, Seb, and Ashad.
  • Big Bad: Season 8 of the original series, where he appeared in every episode before being arrested at the end of "The Dæmons", and in Season 9, where UNIT still regards him as the biggest threat. He also is the main villain of the movie. In the revival, they are the main antagonist for Series 3 with the "Mr. Saxon" arc and again in Series 8, Series 10 and Series 12.
  • Blue Blood: Time Lords were generally the snobs of the galaxy, but the Master recalls having estates (plural) on Gallifrey. They and the Doctor used to run through fields of red grass together when they were kids.
  • Camp: Each incarnation in individual ways, which is quite an achievement.
    • Delgado's Master wore all black, including a Nehru jacket and black gloves. He even had a rubbish beard. He also had the habit of using incredibly obvious aliases such as "Colonel Masters" or "Mr Magister".
    • Ainley's Master is a truly Large Ham. Becoming half-feline only made him more camp.
    • Roberts' Master always drezzzed for the occasion. He also un-ironically wore a leather jacket complete with sunglasses. Also, he starts out as a snake made of goo.
    • Jacobi's Master had a flair for the dramatic ("The Master... reeee-boorrrn!") and being sadistically cruel.
    • Simm's Master offered people jelly babies, had outrageously blatant phone sex with the Doctor, and danced flamboyantly to the Scissor Sisters. He gives Ainley a run for his money as the hammiest of the Masters.
    • Gomez's Mistress dresses like a gothic Mary Poppins, likes having tea parties with intended victims, dances around while swinging a dainty little umbrella, and generally bounces up and down a lot while wearing a flowery fruit hat.
    • Sacha Dhawan's Master does so enjoy chewing the scenery when he reveals he's around. Clapping his hands in childlike glee about pulling a fast one on the Doctor for an entire episode does that to a Time Lord.
  • Card-Carrying Villain: The Master holds much pride in the idea of being the aspiring Evil Overlord over the entire universe, and frequently enjoys doing random evil deeds, simply for no other reason than the fact they can. In any incarnation, calling them twisted or evil is a guaranteed Insult Backfire.
  • Character Development: The Delgado incarnation simply wanted to take over and/or escape from Earth, and spend time with the Doctor, and enjoy a good cigar occasionally. When his body got burned, he became more desperate, and rather a lot more mentally broken in the process. The Ainley Master is definitely more unhinged than he was in his Time Lord bodies, and knows that his Trakenite form has an expiration date. At the same time, he still really wants to spend time with the Doctor, commenting that a cosmos without his friend "scarcely bears thinking about". The Roberts incarnation is stuck in a very rapidly decaying body and decides to steal the Doctor's regenerations. The Simm Master, initially, is the first one in a long while to have no concerns over his longevity, and keeps the Doctor as a pet while he merrily screws with Earth — although he's decidedly more insane than previous incarnations. After dying and coming back in a decaying body yet again, he sacrifices himself to stop Rassilon, telling the Doctor to "get out of the way" and flinging himself into the Time War, but manages to escape with his body restored to full health and his behaviour more controlled, though still every bit a monster. The Gomez incarnation is even more broken than her predecessor, and her obsession with the Doctor has become stronger than ever, but after several decades she gradually learns how to be a better person. The Dhawan Master is more broken still, in no small part because of his obsession with the Doctor; he acts like the monster he believes he's supposed to be, but there's no longer any satisfaction in it for him, and he's lost his predecessors' desire to survive at any cost, hoping instead that he'll be killed, preferably by the Doctor.
    • One notable bit of Character Development is that the Jacobi and Simm incarnations were blatant misogynists, whereas the Gomez incarnation adores her new body and now absolutely delights in identifying as female. Though it should be noted that she does take an, in her own words, "old-fashioned" view of things.
  • Chronic Backstabbing Disorder: Never, ever expect the Master to honour their part in any deal they have entered into. The Master will even betray themselves across incarnations.
  • Cloudcuckoolander: A villainous example, but each incarnation of the Master has a few touches of this.
    • Delgado's Master enjoys watching The Clangers.
    • Eric Roberts' Master, much like the Sixth Doctor, truly believes his Time Lord getup isn't a fashion accident.
    • Simm's Master likes partying at highly inappropriate times and dancing to Earth pop music. And, in a Shout-Out to Delgado, praised the Teletubbies as the height of evolution.
    • Gomez's Mistress enjoys playing incredibly odd pranks, throws tea parties for victims, and insists on receiving a compliment before murdering a subordinate.
  • Complexity Addiction: The Master frequently overcomplicates their own evil schemes for the sake of amusement or having an audience. Delgado felt that just firing missiles at the Doctor from a distance lacked "that personal touch", while Missy considers her and the Doctor trying to kill each other to be "sort of our texting" at this point. This is lampshaded by the Rani.
    The Rani: He'd get dizzy if he tried to walk in a straight line.
  • Contrasting Sequel Antagonist: Each incarnation contrasts each other in some way:
    • Roger Delgado's portrayal of the Master was a suave, Faux Affably Evil character who wasn't afraid to get his hands dirty, fighting the Doctor from time to time.
    • Peter Pratt and Geoffrey Beevers' version was vengeful and maniacal, actively trying to kill the Doctor through any means necessary.
    • Anthony Ainley's portrayal permanently relegated the character to a Non-Action Big Bad who would run like Hell at the first sign of trouble, while also adding his own spin to the Master by making him a hammy Manipulative Bastard.
    • Eric Roberts' version was, like Crispy Master, more vengeful and bloodthirsty, but had the catch of being in a rapidly-decaying human body. He also displayed the ability to spit weaponized bile and turn into a goo-snake that possesses others through an Orifice Invasion, which is how he got into the human body in the first place. These abilities were huge Big-Lipped Alligator Moments, seeing how they were never brought up in the show again.
    • Derek Jacobi's portrayal took a unique twist on Roberts' version by having the Master become human through a Chameleon Circuit, which also gave him a false set of memories as the benevolent Professor Yana. From the minute amounts of screentime that Jacobi's Master held as the Master, he seemed far colder than previous incarnations.
    • John Simm's Master was a Psychopathic Manchild who wished nothing more than to torment the Doctor and his companions. He was also a bigot, something that Jacobi's Master shared when he returned to being the Master. This portrayal was also far more emotional, being overtaken by rage or sadness in the heat of the moment at times.
    • "Missy", Michelle Gomez's version of the Master, dropped the woman-child aspect while retaining the psychopathy, leaving us with an incredibly batty Violent Glaswegian who enjoys making pop-culture shout-outs.
    • Whereas Missy was, even at her most villainous, focused on trying to regain the Doctor's friendship, Sacha Dhawan's Master is back to unrepentantly trying to kill the Doctor, has a Hair-Trigger Temper that puts other incarnations to shame, and admits to being addicted to murder.
  • Depending on the Writer: Like with the Doctor, regeneration can be used to explain their changing personality between incarnations, but the whole of the Classic series uses a single incarnation of the Master (stealing various bodies after the deaths of his old ones) — the Pratt/Beevers, Ainley and Roberts incarnations are (at least, according to some sources) supposed to be the same incarnation as the initial Delgado character. Even so, their personality, goals, humour level and power sets vary wildly, significantly more than the Doctor's do between their incarnations. It borders on Same Character, but Different in many cases.
  • Determinator: This crossed with Why Won't You Die? is a major reason why the Master will always be a threat to the Doctor, if for no other reason than sheer tenacity and refusal to permanently die.
  • Dirty Coward:
    • This trait is essentially what really marks the Master as different from the Doctor. Where the Doctor is unwavering in their courage and is always willing to put their life on the line when the chips are down, the Master fears death more than anything and when their life is threatened, they will drop everything, including manners, and do whatever it takes to stay alive.
    • Exemplified in the Time War, when the Cruciform fell around the war's 400th and final year. This event sent the Master running for his life and going to great lengths to disappear from the radar of other Time Lords at the very edge of the universe. Contrasted to the War Doctor, who refused to back out of the Time War despite any level of danger posed to him, this speaks volumes about how cowardly the Master really is.
      • In fairness to him, what we hear of the Time War would make almost anyone run and hide.
  • Dragon with an Agenda: To Rassilon, although he doesn't learn this himself for centuries and (understandably) shows no loyalty to Rassilon once he does.
  • The Dreaded: Not at first, but eventually.
    • By the time of their regeneration stated as the Tenth, the Doctor, even after the horror of the Time War, is outright terrified when he realises the Master's alive, and near his TARDIS. And again when he's resurrected. The Doctor rushes back to his TARDIS and tries to prevent it happening. Alas, San Dimas Time is in effect.
    • The reveal of Missy's identity shocked the Twelfth Doctor. Considering Twelve is normally stoic, he must be afraid of the Master.
    • The same occurs with Thirteen when the seemingly mild-mannered "O" reveals himself to be the Master. The Doctor's companions don't realise the significance of the Master's words in and of themselves, but they do see her reaction, which causes their own Oh, Crap! reactions in turn.
  • Driven to Madness: Since he looked into the Untempered Schism, he started hearing the sound of drums, which made him crazy. It is the sound of a Time Lord's hearts, placed by the Time Lord High Council, on Rassilon's command, to escape the Time War.
  • Even Evil Has Standards:
    • The Doctor being obliterated by Rassilon is not something he'll stand for. So much so that he shoots Rassilon with electric beams and then chokes him to death by shoving diamonds down his throat.
    • According to the audio dramas, the Master, who adores chaos, saw the Time War as just too much chaos and quickly did what the Doctor does best — run away from Gallifrey as fast as you can.
  • Evil Counterpart: The classic Master filled in as the Blofeld to Three's Bond (or the Moriarty to the Doctor's Holmes). Where the Doctor is fascinated with exploring the Universe, the Master is obsessed with the idea of ruling it. When they were soldiers in the Time War, the Doctor kept fighting to the bitter end of the war, while the conflict eventually became too much for the Master, who ran away in terror. He later masqueraded as a humble professor with his personality kept under lock and key in a watch (like the Tenth Doctor), before heading to Earth in his next incarnation (like the Ninth). The "Yana" persona took a few notes from the Doctor's playbook, manipulating his Malmooth lab assistant into a "provoked" attack. Where the Tenth Doctor likes to jury-rig harmless gadgets such as "ding" machines, the Master personally retrofitted the Doctor's TARDIS into a monstrous Paradox Machine. The TV movie and "The Sound of Drums" are where the Master started picking up hitchhikers of his own: gangster Chang Lee, and trophy wife Lucy Saxon. Except instead of showing Lucy the wonders of the universe, he revealed only entropy and darkness.
    • Flipped on at least one occasion, with the Master changing gender from Simm to Gomez, and the Doctor following suit with Twelve to Thirteen.
    • The "O" Master is bright and perky, like the Thirteenth Doctor, but the two of them ultimately conclude they are not the same. The Master discovers the Doctor is an immortal creature that the Time Lords exploited to create regeneration and thus, in the Master's eyes, more important and special than him. This is actually a plot point, as the Master's belief he is not equal to his old enemy leads him to destroy Gallifrey out of spite, creating the arc of Series 12. In the Doctor's eyes, meanwhile, they're not the same because she contains more, contains multitudes of past selves she never knew about, and has not been broken by their existence as the Master has.
  • Evil Former Friend: Bordering on Psycho Ex at times — which the Master delights in lampshading.
  • Evil Genius: Played straight.
  • Evil Is Hammy: They do this so much they could almost be the Trope Codifier. Notably, the Jacobi, Gomez, and Dhawan incarnations all come across as relatively mild-mannered and unassuming until they are revealed as incarnations of the Master... and then they immediately devour all the scenery in sight.
  • Evil Laugh: Comes with being a Card-Carrying Villain.
  • Evil Plan: Always. From the simple to the complex, the Master has always got some plan just waiting to be either set up, completed, tweaked or even abandoned in favour of a new one.
  • Evil Sorcerer: Okay, granted it's Sufficiently Advanced Technology, but a lot of the Master's schemes make them come across as this. On multiple occasions they've headed their own cults, whose aims range from quite literally summoning demons to bringing the Simm Master back to life. (Missy, of course, operates more under the gender-flipped version, Wicked Witch.) Given that the Doctor is often compared to a good wizard...
  • Evil Wears Black: The Master subscribes to the Neil Gaiman school of fashion. Even his ceremonial Time Lord getup was black, although Missy starts shaking things up a bit by having one of her outfits be dark purple, and the Dhawan incarnation continues the trend with a purple suit.
  • Expy:
    • The last story of the original sixth season featured the War Chief. He's an evil, megalomaniac Time Lord who dresses in a dark Nehru jacket, sports Facial Hair of Evil and knows the Doctor from their days on Gallifrey. He's extremely camp, has no concept of personal space and offers the Doctor a half-share in the universe. Fast forward to Season Eight, where we are introduced to the Master; a new regular villain who's an evil, megalomaniac Time Lord, dresses in a dark Nehru jacket, wears a Beard of Evil and — oh, you get the point. Fanon, and some (though not all) of the Expanded Universe, have often identified the War Chief as a pre-Delgado incarnation of the Master.
    • Erst Stavro Blofeld has been an enduring influence on the Master; what with the Nehru jackets, the kitty-stroking in "Survival", the elaborate deaths for unwary henchmen, etc.
  • Fantastic Racism: While they don't especially respect most other Time Lords, the Master emphatically considers non-Time Lord life to be without value and has a special contempt for humans. The Master seems to go back and forth between resenting the Doctor's fondness for humans and failing to grasp that the Doctor sees them as anything more than pets (even though companions have personally defeated the Master more than once). However, there does seem to be at least a little Villain Respect towards the Brigadier.
  • Foil:
    • Their plans are unique in how they involve the Doctor, when compared to the Doctor's other villains. The other villains will develop a plan specifically to trap and get rid of the Doctor, via trapping them outside the universe or killing them outright. The Master, on the other hand, will have plans that will put them in a position to help the Doctor (albeit in their own twisted way), get admiration from the Doctor, and/or something else that killing the Doctor would be counterproductive with.
    • Crossing over with Evil Counterpart: The Doctor admires all life forms, and could easily work as a God of Good, but doesn't have the attention span or interest for it. The Master, meanwhile, detests all life, needing to be in charge. Unlike the Daleks, both the Doctor and the Master need other species around — the Doctor needs to be kept in check, while the Master needs to be in control.
  • For the Evulz: Initially. The John Simm incarnation was given the backstory of being the victim of Rassilon's "escape the Time War" plan, but even then tended to kill people just for fun.
  • Freudian Excuse: He was Driven to Madness by an excruciating sound which he interprets as "the drumming, the call to war", and it's implied that he believes (or did believe, before The Reveal about the sound's origin) that conquering the universe could make it stop at last.
  • Friendly Enemy: How friendly depends on which incarnation of both the Doctor and the Master, but at the very least, there's almost always quite a lot of Villain Respect.
  • Galactic Conqueror: In the novelization of "Survival", it is mentioned that when the Master is not encountering the Doctor, he's busy. Only instead of saving planets and helping people, the Master conquers planets and enslaves people.
  • Go Mad from the Revelation: The Doctor theorises that the Master's descent into insanity stemmed from looking into the Time Vortex when he was a child.
  • Grammar Nazi: They're fond of correcting other people.
    • As Eric Roberts:
      Grace: I suppose you knew Madame Curie too.
      The Doctor: Yes, intimately.
      Grace: Does she kiss as good as me?
      The Master: As well as you.
    • The Simm Master decides he wants to make a point about the meaning of the word decimate. So he decides to decimate one tenth of the population of the Earth.
  • Hypnotic Eyes: A favourite of the classic series Masters, often used in conjunction with their Catchphrase:
    "I am the Master, and you will obey me."
  • I Have Many Names: The Master has taken on numerous aliases and stolen identities over the years.
  • Iconic Sequel Character: The only rival to the Daleks in terms of number of appearances and being an archenemy to the Doctor... and they didn't show up at all until the eighth season.
  • Immortal Genius: On top of their natural lifespan and regenerations, the Master has also made use of the occasional Grand Theft Me to preserve their immortality. They're also just as brilliant as the Doctor: not only are they an expert in almost every field of science known in the universe, but they're also an inventor capable of creating psychic-amplifying satellites and improbably powerful computers with comparatively primitive materials.
  • Insult Backfire: In any incarnation, the Master takes being called evil, insane, inhuman, brutal, corrupt, or sick as a compliment.
    The Doctor: The Master's consumed by hatred. It's his one great weakness.
    The Master: Weakness, Doctor? Hate is a strength!
  • Irony: After centuries of doing everything possible to survive, what (seemingly) finishes the Master off for good? The Simm incarnation shooting his future self in the back. They find it really funny.
  • It's All About Me: Cares about conquering the universe and, on a good day, the Doctor. Anyone else is expendable.
  • Joker Immunity: A master at averting being Killed Off for Real:
    • Delgado's Master was reduced to a degraded, decaying version of himself yet still didn't die, but eventually transferred himself to another body.
    • Ainley's version survived several No One Could Survive That! instances, and even lampshaded his unlikely survival at one point with the comment: "Come, come, the whole universe knows I'm indestructible!"
    • Displays this blatantly from "Castrovalva" onwards, where he/she starts regularly surviving apparently fatal incidents with no explanation. Earlier stories tended to display overt Villain: Exit, Stage Left rather than having him apparently die.
    • The Roberts Master was rendered Only Mostly Dead by the TV Movie, and was then thrown into the Eye of Harmony, which one would think was the end of him. But no, (if you don't count the Expanded Universe chronicling his eventual escape and further misadventures) he was apparently rescued by the Time Lords, who granted him a new regeneration cycle, only to Chameleon Arch himself, then got sent to the end of the Universe as Professor Yana.
    • Simm's Master initiated a Thanatos Gambit to avoid permanently dying after "Last of the Time Lords" (despite the Doctor apparently burning his body), Came Back Wrong because Lucy Saxon sacrificed herself to interfere with his revival, and died in a Heroic Sacrifice in "The End of Time". Or so it seemed. He managed to live, while Rassilon probably regenerated from his injuries. The Time Lords realized they had a real monster on their hands and decided he was better off in a stable body instead of feeding on everybody, so he returned to normal.
    • Michelle Gomez's Mistress was vaporized, right on screen, this time by a Cyberman. It seems by now writers aren't even going to pretend the Master's death will ever stick — shortly afterwards Gomez announced she'd return in the next series. (And indeed, when she did, we actually found out exactly how she got away this time.) Later on, she is shot in the back by her previous incarnation with the laser screwdriver, set to a function meant to disable her ability to regenerate and thus kill her permanently — minutes before a massive explosion that destroyed the spaceship deck she was on. As always, this wasn't the end of the character.
      Missy: Death is for other people.
  • Jumping Off the Slippery Slope: According to the Tenth Doctor, the Master started out not unlike himself: occasionally taking a life here and there, all in the pursuit of a greater design. This inevitably led to him concluding that all non-Time Lords were disposable at best and worthy of annihilation at worst.
  • Just Between You and Me: The Master holds great pride in the quality of their Evil Plans, and frequently simply can't help themselves as their own sense of vanity always tempts them to share the details of them, especially with the Doctor, who they view as the only person intelligent enough to appreciate their genius.
  • Kick the Dog: Being a dastardly villain, they're BOUND to have done plenty of this over the years.
    • Classic Masters: Roger Delgado
      • In his first appearance, the Master casually throws a hapless scientist off a radio tower to his death. Why? Because he was in the Master's way.
      • In the same serial, the Master kills a man and hides his now tiny body inside the man's lunchbox.
      • The Master — at the very end of "The Mind of Evil" — ends up running over and killing Barnham, a very sweet, gentle and kind man who just saved his life! Ungrateful Bastard at its finest.
      • In "The Sea Devils", the Master outright admits that the only reason he's trying to destroy Earth is because he knows it's the Doctor's favourite planet.
    • Classic Masters: Anthony Ainley
      • He murders a random policeman and Tegan's Aunt Vanessa For the Evulz.
      • He sometimes treats Nyssa like a surrogate daughter. This is especially cruel seeing as how the Master is walking around wearing her father's corpse.
      • Near the end of "Survival", the Master has got what he wants. He's escaped the cheetah planet and is alive. He still goes out of his way to turn some 1980s teenagers into his brainwashed slaves. Why? Because the Master is a dick, that's why.
    • Classic Masters: Eric Roberts
      • Stealing Bruce's body and then murdering Bruce's wife. He could have left her alive, but he clearly didn't feel like it.
      • Snapping Grace and Chang Lee's necks. They get better, but still.
    • Revival Masters: Derek Jacobi: How about killing his assistant when awakened? There was literally no reason to do it, either, he just did it because he found her annoying!
    • Revival Masters: John Simm
      • Turning the TARDIS into a Paradox Machine.
      • Murdering his Cabinet with poisonous gas as he gleefully watches.
      • Having a reporter murdered and listening to her screams by opening and closing the door three times before stopping.
      • Killing a TENTH of the Earth's population for no reason other than to strike fear into everyone, and then ruling the world with an iron fist for an ENTIRE YEAR!
      • Torturing and murdering Jack Harkness over and over again with a smile on his face.
      • It's also implied he beat his wife.
      • Harassing the Jones family just because he can.
      • At one point he encounters Martha Jones (a black woman) and Captain Jack Harkness (a pansexual man that due to certain circumstances became an immortal) and calls them "the girly and the freak". He then adds that he's not sure which is which.
      • After he Comes Back Wrong in "The End of Time", he turns 99% of the human race into the "Master race".
      • Being Bill's Only Friend while she was trapped on a Mondasian spaceship with the Doctor unable to save her due to Time Dilation, then telling her he'll help her get back to him only to trick her into Cyber-conversion. Amazingly, this may have also been a kick the dog moment to himself.
      • When he first sees a fully Cyber-converted Bill, he mockingly does the accent so she knows who he is.
      • His final act is the ultimate one to himself — when his future self finally decides to stand with the Doctor he kills her for good, sealing his own fate out of pure spite.
    • Revival Mistress: Michelle Gomez
      • Harvesting the minds of dead/dying people and manipulating them into deleting their emotions.
      • Killing Dr. Chang because he had outlived his usefulness.
      • Casually murdering Osgood because she's pretty. She even counts down to her death and after vaporizing her, grinds her glasses into the floor with her heel.
      • Killing Seb because he was annoying her.
      • Calling all of humanity the Doctor's "pets".
      • Lying about Gallifrey's location to the Doctor. Blatantly a case of the Master being a dick for no real reason.
        Although we later discover she was only lying by omission. The spatial coordinates were correct. She just didn't specify temporal ones.
      • It's small, but Missy purposely asking about Danny and if he was still "tremendously dead" to Clara to most likely try and get a reaction out of her was needlessly cruel. Thankfully, Clara didn't take the bait.
      • Vaporizing two UNIT soldiers, one of whom had a wife and children, just to prove she hasn't "turned good".
      • Trying to convince the Doctor to kill Clara while she's disguised as a Dalek — and if you look in the background, she's even making mocking faces at Clara! The implication here being that Missy is extremely jealous of the Doctor and Clara's close friendship.
    • Revival Masters: Sacha Dhawan
      • Letting two Australian guards assigned to protect him get into a terrifying situation and wind up killed in order to preserve his latest fake identity.
      • After holding an entire room at TCE-point and ordering them not to move, he threateningly asks a woman if she moved, before laughing and seeming to let her go. Then he casually shoots her with the TCE anyway.
      • In order to demonstrate that the Cybermen he produced can regenerate, he orders one of them to shoot and kill another. Even the Cyberman he issues the order to initially balks at this before the Master reiterates the order again.
  • Large Ham: Yes. And each successive Master manages to be hammier than the last.
  • Laughably Evil: The Master is an absolutely terrible person who just happens to have all the charisma of the Doctor.
  • The Mad Hatter: Delgado, Simm and Gomez have all copped to being paranoid/insane/"bananas".
  • Manipulative Bastard: Especially the Gomez incarnation.
  • Man of Wealth and Taste: Frequently well-dressed. Obviously doesn't apply to the Crispy Master, or Simm in his hobo hoodie get-up. The rule of thumb is: when the Master is not all that dapper, they're especially desperate and in a bind. And are, therefore, even more volatile than usual. If they take time to pretend otherwise, times that by five.
  • The Master: It's in the name. On more than one occasion, people have commented on what this says about their personality that they choose to call themselves that.
    "I mean, who calls himself 'The Master'?"
  • Master of Disguise: The Delgado and Ainley incarnations used this often, at least, including one occasion where the Ainley Master disguised himself as an Asian magician for no apparent reason. The Simm incarnation adopts one in Series 10 as a tribute.
  • Meaningful Name:
    • His moniker of "The Master" in that he wants to rule the universe. Also, as a compare/contrast to "The Doctor".
    • It's also the academic rank that is just short of a doctorate. A Master may be good, but a Doctor is Always Someone Better.
    • His sorcerer costume, "Kalid", is named for the violent and petty god of Time.
    • Also, the alias he chose during his academy days as revealed in the Expanded Universe: "Koschei". In Slavic folklore, Koschei was an antagonist who went through extreme lengths to avoid ever dying, is sometimes referred to as "Koschei the Deathless", and kidnaps the protagonist's compani-– ah, wife. Hell, the name even means "Skeleton".
    • "Missy" is short for Mistress, the latest in a long string of aliases derived from "Master".
    • The Dhawan incarnation chose to take the place of a character named "O" because it's the noise people make when surprised or scared.
  • Meet the New Boss: In "The War Games", we are introduced to the War Chief, a Time Lord who has past history with the Doctor, is working with a group of aliens to take over the galaxy, and who plans to betray them the first chance he gets. And he's got an evil moustache too. Then, a couple of seasons later, the Master shows up: A Time Lord who has past history with the Doctor, who routinely teams up with aliens and then betrays them, is noted to have changed his name to the Master since the previous time the Doctor encountered him, and even has a similar taste in clothes and facial hair. Word of God is quite insistent that they're different people.
  • Mirror Character: To the Doctor, right down to their origin (running away when faced with the Time Vortex).
  • More Than Mind Control: "I am the Master, and you will obey me." Nearly always works — Peri seems to be the exception, as she is able to outshout him. Jo also figures out a way to use Psychic Static to No-Sell his mind control.
  • Names to Run Away from Really Fast: Not only is his name "The Master", but most of his Significant Anagram aliases involve plays on the words "death" or "master".
  • Narcissist: He calls himself the Master, for starters.
  • No Name Given: In the Expanded Universe, it's revealed that the Master's nickname during his Academy days was Koschei.
  • No-Nonsense Nemesis: While the Delgado, Ainley, and Gomez incarnations usually see their conflict with the Doctor as a playful game, the Crispy, Simm, and Dhawan incarnations are devoid of such sentiments and offer the Doctor no quarter in their encounters.
  • No Sense of Personal Space: Especially in regard to the Doctor.
  • The Nth Doctor: Being a Time Lord, and occasionally stealing other bodies.
  • Offscreen Moment of Awesome: The vast majority of the Master's life occurs offscreen or in Expanded Universe media. When they're not enjoying their little sparring matches against the Doctor, the Master is always out there conquering, enslaving or massacring entire civilisations.
  • The Only One Allowed to Defeat You: The Master will occasionally stop other baddies from killing the Doctor, and invoke this trope. How much of it is true, and how much is them not actually wanting the Doctor to die at all, is up for debate.
  • Parents as People: Definitely the case — look at all the tropes! Especially so as them being a parent to a daughter is only even mentioned in passing.
  • Really 700 Years Old: Unlike the Doctor, they've never stopped to give an age (not even a false one), but they've been around for a good long while. He and the Doctor were of an age on Gallifrey, and a common assumption (backed up by "Time and the Rani", where the Doctor and the Rani are the same age) is that this has held since. (At least up until "The Timeless Children", when the Master reveals the Doctor is much, much older than either of them had suspected. A reasonable guess might be that they match the Doctor's age counting from the First Doctor on.)
  • Red Baron: Master of all matter.
  • Resurrected for a Job: He was given a new set of regenerations by Gallifrey's High Council in order to fight in the Last Great Time War.
    The Doctor: What happened to you?
    The Master: The Time Lords only resurrected me because they knew I'd be the perfect warrior for a Time War. I was there when the Dalek Emperor took control of the Cruciform. I saw it... I ran.
  • Rival Turned Evil: It's established that the Master and the Doctor were at school together.
  • Significant Anagram: Both in-universe and out of it. In the 1980s, in order to not give away the Plot Twist that the villain of a story was the Master, a false name would appear in the credits. These were usually anagrams involving either "Master" or Anthony Ainley's name, such as "James Stoker/Master's Joke" ("The King's Demons"). In-universe, the Master seems to like inventing anagrams to use as names.
  • Single-Target Sexuality: Varies by Master incarnation, but the Doctor is the only person they have any genuine regard or affection for. Harold Saxon actually had a wife, but his cruelty to her led to his death.
  • The Sociopath: The Master has traits of this across all of their incarnations, with their general sense of megalomania, enjoyment of challenging the Doctor to the occasional battle of wits, and an utter disregard for the plight they inflict upon their victims.
  • Stalker with a Crush: More and more overtly as the show goes on. Obsessed with the Doctor, frequently attacks humanity just to goad them, and alternates between murder attempts and proposals to rule the universe together.
  • The Starscream: Wants to become Lord President of the Time Lords.
  • Start of Darkness: During a dangerous initiation ritual which all Time Lords must pass, he was one of the very few who went mad.
  • Staying Alive: Good Lord, yes. "I'm indestructible, the whole Universe knows that." Indeed. Missy even casually lampshades this in a conversation with Clara.
    Missy: Death is for other people, dear.
  • Take Over the World: Up to Eleven. Did you really think that ruling over that Insignificant Little Blue Planet could ever come even remotely close to satisfying their ego? No, the Master aspires and schemes to become the ultimate ruler over no less than the entire universe.
  • Terrible Ticking: The RTD-era Master complained of an incessant drumbeat in his head, which turned out to be part of Rassilon's plan to escape the Time War. Gomez's Mistress makes no mention of it, likely because Gallifrey in her time is now "lost" rather than in danger.
  • Themed Aliases: The Master frequently uses aliases that either mean 'Master' in different languages (e.g. Col. Masters, Prof. Thascalos, Rev. Magister), are anagrams of 'Master' (e.g. Tremas, Sir Gilles Estram, Mr. Seta), or relate to death in some way (e.g. Emil Keller (from the Latin for 'rival' and the Old English for 'executioner'), Dr. Harcourt De'ath, Mr. Razor).
  • This Is My Name on Foreign: The Master tends to use aliases which mean "master" in another language.
  • Too Clever by Half: When their schemes flop, a lot of the time, it can be ascribed to a runaway mouth and/or ego leading to overreach as much as to outside interference and just plain bad timing.
  • Tragic Villain: His villainy is caused by the drumming signal, put into him by Time Lords, desperate to save themselves.
    The Lumiat: We were never truly bad, not even mad. Only sad.
  • Unexplained Recovery: Almost guaranteed, no matter what happens. The Master laughs at death. Evilly.
  • Villain Ball: The Master tends to prioritize messing with the Doctor and having fun over efficiency, and frequently adds unnecessary flourishes to their plans.
    Third Doctor: Vicious, complicated and inefficient. Typical of your way of thinking.

    Fourth Doctor: You'd delay an execution to pull the wings off a fly.
  • Villain Episode: While the TV series hasn't given them one, the Expanded Universe has more than made up for it, including Doctor Who Magazine comic strip "Character Assassin", Titan Comics miniseries "Missy", Past Doctor Adventures novel "The Face of the Enemy", BBC Books anthologies "The Missy Chronicles" and "I Am The Master", and a slew of Big Finish Doctor Who audio stories (including their own series).
  • Villains Blend in Better: While they are both fundamentally characterized as eccentric geniuses, aside from their differing stances of morality, one of the main differences between the Master and the Doctor is that the former is the "charming sociopath" to contrast the Doctor's "well-intentioned but abrasive Bunny-Ears Lawyer". While the Master, especially the suave and refined Delgado incarnation, has little problem manipulating people into helping with evil plans, the Doctor basically needs the companions to convince people they actually know what they're doing. It's also a literal matter with their TARDISes, which typically have working chameleon circuits so they can appear anywhere looking perfectly in place provided they are not observed fading in or out in use.
  • Villains Out Shopping:
    • Can be caught watching children's television when not actively being evil. Delgado's Master enjoyed The Clangers, while Simm's was impressed by the Teletubbies. "Television... in their stomachs. Now that is evolution."
    • In "Frontier in Space", the Master is seen reading The War of the Worlds during a space flight. Even evil has to commute.
    • Missy in the Promised Land seems to enjoy a nice spot of tea.
    • In a Big Finish story, the Jacobi Master is working on a plan that just requires him to push over the initial domino in a slow-moving disaster and then kick back and watch all the rest fall over time. Finding himself with a lot of free time on his hands as a result, he decides to try his hand at running a vineyard and make his own wine.
  • Wardrobe Flaw of Characterization: The ability to coordinate outfits that suit a temporal or cultural theme in such a way that the eyes of onlookers are spared from bleeding? Not your standard Time Lord trait, however campy the Master plays it. Because s/he is not normal by Time Lord standards, however antagonistic.
  • Weapon of Choice:
    • In the seventies and eighties stories, his trademark weapon was the Tissue Compression Eliminator (TCE), a Shrink Ray which killed people. According to novelisations, the victim suffers a rapid but agonising death due to Square-Cube Law effects. Overall, a fitting weapon for a man who wants to be both socially and physically above every other being in the universe. The Ainley Master's version was somewhat phallic in appearance, leading to many crude jokes from slash fans. Dhawan's Master went back to using the TCE, although this time it looks like a small box with a spout in the corner.
    • The Simm Master used the slightly less phallic laser screwdriver, an Evil Counterpart to the Sonic which fires a Death Ray and can age beings if he has their biological code. It disappeared after "Last of the Time Lords", but if The Adventure Games are anything to go by, it was retrieved by the Tenth Doctor after the Master's death and is currently occupying part of the TARDIS console. As of "World Enough and Time", he seems to have created another.
    • Missy uses what the fandom has taken to calling a DiePhone, which appears to be a smartphone that is capable of vaporizing people. She also seems to have a sonic umbrella.
  • We Used to Be Friends: Central to their dynamic with the Doctor. As with much of the Doctor's early life, we still don't know what caused the actual falling out.
    Twelfth Doctor: I had a friend once. We ran together, when I was little. And I thought we were the same, but when we grew up, we weren't.
  • What Happened to the Mouse?: Unlike the Doctor, whose regenerations have been mostly cut and dry,note  not all of the Master's faces have been seen, nor what caused him to regenerate into others. Big Finish, a few novels and the comics have all tried to reconcile some of the instances listed below, but most of them have never been explicitly cleared up onscreen or in audios.
  • Wicked Cultured:
  • Worthy Opponent: Sees the Doctor as one. He even acknowledges the amount of good his timeless foe has done for the universe.
    The Master: A universe without the Doctor scarcely bears thinking about.

    First Master 

The First Master (First Doctor)

Played by: William Hughes (2007)

The first incarnation of the Master, before going by that name, was the Doctor's friend and Academy schoolmate on Gallifrey. He was driven mad at the age of eight by looking into the Time Vortex (an ancient Gallifreyan ritual). Allusions to his life on Gallifrey and his time spent with the Doctor are typically vague, although the Expanded Universe often goes into more detail.

  • Go Mad from the Revelation: He was unable to cope with the Time Vortex, and his mind broke as a result.
  • Lonely Rich Kid: He had the Doctor for a friend, and was at least an acquaintance of the Rani, but that seems to have been just about it.

Classic Series Masters

    Roger Delgado's Master 

The "UNIT Years" Master (Third Doctor)
"Death is always more frightening when it strikes invisibly."
Played by: Roger Delgado (1971–1973)

"I am usually referred to as the Master... universally."

The first appearing incarnation of the character, this Master was a frequent adversary of the Doctor and UNIT during the former's exile on Earth. He was generally calm and collected, loved a good cigar, and genuinely enjoyed spending time with the Doctor in between evil plans to take over the world.
  • Aborted Arc: Before filming what was slated to be the final Master adventure (in which the Master died to save the Doctor, apparently), Delgado died in a car accident in Turkey whilst shooting the subsequently-abandoned film The Bell of Tibet, and thus the story had to be scrapped and was replaced with "Planet of the Spiders".
  • AM/FM Characterization: In "The Mind of Evil", while travelling in a Rolls-Royce, he listens to "The Devil's Triangle" by King Crimson on a transistor radio.
  • At Least I Admit It: His reaction to being called paranoid is to claim everyone is, he's just more honest.
  • Badass in a Nice Suit: Either a black suit or a Nehru suit during the UNIT years.
  • Bad Habits: In "The Dæmons", the Master assumes the identity of Mr. Magister, The Vicar of Devil's End. The previous vicar, Canon Smallwood, disappeared in mysterious circumstances one night, with Garvin the verger claiming that Smallwood had been taken ill and had to retire.
  • Beard of Evil: He has a goatee for that Dastardly Whiplash look.
  • Big Bad: The most recurring villain during the Third Doctor's run, notably appearing in every serial of season eight as the villain of all but one of them note .
  • Chronic Backstabbing Disorder: He both had this, and was constantly falling prey to it.
  • Compelling Voice: His most overtly superhuman talent is mind-control, which requires both eye contact and voice to induce.
  • Complexity Addiction: While this is a trait of every version of the Master, it could be considered this incarnation's Fatal Flaw. His need to add extraneous, and often completely unnecessary, additions to his plot all but guarantees his exposure and downfall. Many have noted that his plan to hijack the Thunderbolt Missile and hold the peace conference hostage in "The Mind of Evil" would have worked perfectly had he not decided to involve an alien mind parasite that served absolutely no purpose.
  • Cool Old Guy: Even in his fifties, Delgado was damned cool. He unfailingly steals scenes from everybody, and is usually the oldest player in the story.note .
  • Dastardly Whiplash: Lampshaded by Jo after a particularly humiliating defeat leaves the Master speechless.
    Jo: How about "Curses, foiled again?"
  • Deadpan Snarker: Got in several shots at the Doctor and his human allies.
  • Demoted to Extra: In his first season of Doctor Who, the character turned up in every single serial, from "Terror of the Autons" to "The Dæmons". 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 the next season dramatically scaled back his appearances (it is likely that this would have happened anyway, as producer Barry Letts felt that in retrospect having the character appear in every serial was a mistake), 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.
  • Diabolical Mastermind: Unlike later incarnations, this version of the Master tapped into the Cold War anxieties of the time. He shares much in common with Blofeld (fitting for Jon Pertwee's Bond pastiche) as well as the Red Chinese characters played by Khigh Dhiegh (Hawaii Five-O, The Manchurian Candidate), though the script was careful not to ally the Master with any superpower.
  • Enemy Mine: If worst came to worst, the Master would happily team up with the Doctor in the UNIT years, although he was far from trustworthy.
  • Evil Counterpart: In a way not seen again until 2007. The UNIT Years Master was everything the Third Doctor was, except he was evil.
  • Fatal Flaw: Complexity Addiction. This Master can never leave a good plan alone and feels compelled to keep adding extra details until it becomes too complicated to actually work.
  • Faux Affably Evil: In the UNIT Years, he is usually scrupulously polite to everyone and can occasionally appear genuinely reluctant to harm the Doctor or his companions. Doesn't stop him merrily slaughtering people, though.
  • For the Evulz: At least in "The Sea Devils", where his goal is simply to get rid of the Doctor's favourite species. "Believe me, that'll be a reward in itself."
  • Friendly Enemy: Helped by the fact that Delgado and Pertwee were good friends in real life.
  • Good Smoking, Evil Smoking: He smokes cigars.
  • I Just Want to Have Friends: He just wants to rule the universe together with the Doctor. Word of God (word of the Master's creator Terrance Dicks, to be precise) has it that some of the Master's schemes were intentionally half-arsed because he just really wanted to spend time with the Doctor, but couldn't let his evil reputation get tarnished.
  • Latex Perfection: In his early stories, he regularly used rubber masks which somehow looked exactly like real faces and could form expressions. Probably justified, given that in his first story he was working with the Nestene, who have near-magical powers with plastics.
  • Man of Wealth and Taste: During the UNIT Years, he was always well dressed, and liked to present himself as rich, cultured businessmen and academics.
  • Manipulative Bastard: A master manipulator, he knew how to use others' greed and sense of duty as bargaining tools in his schemes and how to use his authority as an adjudicator to manipulate and influence the human factions and their competing aspirations on Uxarieus.
  • Paper-Thin Disguise: After his first couple of stories in the UNIT Years, he would regularly turn up using a false name without making a single effort to change his facial appearance or persona. This may actually be justified by the Word of God above — he doesn't really care about fooling the Doctor, it's just everyone else he needs to fool.
  • Put on a Bus: Stops appearing after "Frontier in Space", without any in-story explanation. This was due to Roger Delgado's real-life death.
  • Sadist: He had a sadistic side, taking particular pleasure in goading the Brigadier into attacking Axos when they both knew that it would put the Doctor and Jo Grant in danger. He also took considerable delight in blackmailing the Doctor and Jo on Uxarieus.
  • Silver Fox: His UNIT Years version has many, many fangirls despite his grizzled hair.
  • The Starscream: To the Daleks in "Frontier in Space".
  • The Vicar: As "Mr. Magister".
  • Villain: Exit, Stage Left: Tended to pull off taunting escapes when he realised that his plans had been conclusively defeated.
  • Villainous Widow's Peak: His hairstyle was quite impressively dramatic and sinister.
  • Villain Respect: Had a certain amount for Jo, and was slightly more impressed by the Brigadier than most humans.
  • Voice Changeling: "The Time Monster" reveals that he is capable of perfectly imitating another person's voice.
  • We Can Rule Together: In "Colony in Space". Too bad the Doctor finds the idea of ruling anything dull as dishwater.
  • Worthy Opponent: It's outright stated in his first serial that the Doctor and the Master enjoy their battle of wits.
  • You're Insane!: The Doctor calls him mad and paranoid in "The Time Monster". His response: "Who isn't?"

    Peter Pratt's/Geoffrey Beevers' Master 

The "Decayed" Master (Fourth Doctor)
"He knows he is walking into a trap... But how can he resist such a bait?"
Played by: Peter Pratt (1976), Geoffrey Beevers (1981)

"You do not understand hatred as I understand it. Only hate keeps me alive. Why else should I endure this pain?"

The result of the Master becoming disfigured (off-screen).note  As he was on the last incarnation of his first regeneration cycle when it happened, he was stuck with a rotting body and a broken mind, with only his intense hatred and burning anger keeping him alive. It was around this time the Master truly started his quest for life beyond his regenerations, attempting to harness the power of the Eye of Harmony to renew himself. Escaping Gallifrey when this plot was foiled, the Master was next seen in "The Keeper of Traken", where he succeeded in stealing the body of the Trakenite consul Tremas.

The Beevers Master was the first original series Master to appear in Big Finish Doctor Who.

  • Ambiguous Situation: Is he a deformed version of Delgado's Master, or of the regeneration after Delgado? Opinions (and EU material) are split. There's even some following for the idea that the Masters played by Peter Pratt and Geoffrey Beevers may not be the same incarnation at all.
    • The final shot of the Master in "The Deadly Assassin" shows him considerably less decayed. It was apparently the intention that this was the beginning of a regeneration, and he received enough energy from the Eye of Harmony to kick one off. The fact that he is still in his decayed body in "The Keeper of Traken" apparently arose because at the time the Target novelisations were used as the production office's references for previous stories, and Terrance Dicks omitted the scene from the novelisation.
  • Big Bad: Of "The Deadly Assassin" and "The Keeper of Traken" during the Fourth Doctor's run.
  • Calling Card: The Doctor immediately knows the Master is involved when he discovers his greeting card of a shrunken guard.
  • Cloning Blues: In "The Oseidon Adventure".
  • Evil Is Hammy: Crispy Master is hammy with just his voice.
  • Evil Makes You Ugly: The Master we see in "The Deadly Assassin" and "The Keeper of Traken" is in his thirteenth body and looks like death warmed over; Geoffrey Beevers remarked that this is what the Master is like without his smooth looks and charm: as he put it, "the essence of the creature". This seems to be a running theme with this Master. The first Crispy Master is the ugliest and cruellest of all, while the second Crispy seems to have "healed" a little and is a step back towards Delgado behaviour (how much of the "healed" appearance is intentional and how much of it is due to the limitations of Beevers' makeup compared to Pratt's mask is unknown).
  • Evil Sounds Deep: This incarnation of the Master has easily the deepest voice of his many incarnations over the years. Pratt grave him a raspy lisp, Beevers gave him a smoother baritone, another implication that he's gotten a little better after the end of "The Deadly Assassin".
  • Facial Horror: His face rots to the bone. Yes, it's creepy.
  • Grand Theft Me: Since this Master could no longer regenerate, he switched incarnations by possessing a hapless victim — who happened to be Nyssa's father.
  • In the Hood: The hooded black robe is unique to this incarnation. The black hoodie worn by the Simm incarnation in "The End of Time" could possibly be a Shout-Out.
  • No-Nonsense Nemesis/Not-So-Harmless Villain: Although he was never exactly harmless, being on the very brink of death caused the Master to cross out the "Friendly" bit in "Friendly Enemy" and get right down to saving his own skin, becoming much less the Doctor's Worthy Opponent and moreso a very focused Omnicidal Maniac.
  • The Nth Doctor: Provides a non-regeneration example, as Pratt and Beevers portray the same decaying incarnation of the Master.
  • Out of Continues: Having run out of regenerations, he is stuck in his decaying last body, and doesn't look the better for it.
  • The Power of Hate: It was his anger and hatred that allowed the Crispy Master to cling to life despite the state of advanced decay his body was in.
  • Soft-Spoken Sadist: The Beevers version talks in a eerily calm and soft manner.
  • Took a Level in Jerkass: Peter Pratt's incarnation is by far the nastiest, most humourless version of the Master seen to date; justified in the sense that he's literally rotten, likely experiencing constant pain as a result of his body being in a constant state of decay. Reversed a little by the Geoffrey Beevers version, who is a little more Affably Evil than Pratt (likely a lingering influence of Moral Guardians' backlash towards the violent content in "The Deadly Assassin"), though still colder and more malevolent than most of the versions who would follow.

    Anthony Ainley's Master 

The "Tremas" Master (Fourth, Fifth, Sixth and Seventh Doctors)
"Killing you once was never enough for me, Doctor."
Played by: Anthony Ainley (1981–1986; 1989; 1997)

"Peoples of the Universe, please attend carefully. The message that follows is vital to the future of you all. The choice for you all is simple; a continued existence under my guidance or total annihilation."

Manages to steal a Trakenite body to replace his decaying Time Lord one, and expands his plans far beyond just Earth and Gallifrey. From hereon in, he aims to be a constant thorn in the side for the Doctor, encountering him in his Fourth, Fifth, Sixth, and Seventh incarnations. Of all the Masters, this incarnation seems to have the highest body count, while he pursued immortality, or at least a new set of regenerations, for himself.

Anthony Ainley reprised his role one last time for the video game Destiny of the Doctors.

  • Accidental Murder: In "Logopolis", he manages to accidentally wipe out a quarter of the universe's population. This is effectively forgotten shortly afterwards, as actually dealing with it would derail the entire show.
  • Animal-Themed Superbeing: In "Survival", the Master is infected with the Cheetah virus, giving him feline characteristics such as fangs, Animal Eyes, and a lust for blood. Though he already had that last trait.
  • Arc Villain: Of the "Return of the Master" trilogy, consisting of "The Keeper of Traken", "Logopolis", and "Castrovalva".
  • Badass in Distress: Villainous example, at the end of Destiny of the Doctors, which possibly leads into the movie.
  • Beard of Evil: Follows the Delgado version in having a stereotypically satanic beard to match his villainy.
  • Big Bad: After his return in the "Return of the Master" trilogy, he serves as this for almost every Master story for the remainder of the classic seriesnote .
  • Black Cloak: Has a truly glorious one in "The Five Doctors", with a High Collar of Doom that would make Dracula proud.
  • "Blackmail" Is Such an Ugly Word: No, Doctor, it's not "blackmail" to suggest that he'll disintegrate the entire universe unless they pledge their undying loyalty to the Master. He's merely announcing "the current state of affairs".
  • Card-Carrying Villain: He has fun with it.
  • Cartoonish Supervillainy: Has grandiose plans that often seem to be motivated by nothing more than "causing chaos for fun", and rarely succeeds at anything (although he often has a pretty large body count).
  • Cerebus Syndrome: "Survival" took this Master's innocuous streak and shredded it to ribbons. Suddenly, instead of waxing camp, he oozed dark, sinister villainy, and posed an extreme threat.
  • Costumer: In the Destiny of the Doctors game, the Master takes over Siralos, a planet of "pure psychic energy". He uses his Q-like powers to taunt you between levels, such as wearing a conductor's uniform on an "M"-emblazoned freight train ("We'll Never Get You There!™") and threatening to tie the player to railroad tracks, or running over the player with his car. These cutscenes were included as a DVD Easter Egg in tribute to Ainley, since this was his final time performing the role of the Master before his death.
  • Depending on the Writer: Ainley wanted to play the character as cold and calculating but, with the exception of his final appearance in "Survival", in which he was allowed to do that, the production staff insisted that he lay it on thick with the same mustache twirling and psychotic laughing that Roger Delgado brought to the table a decade prior.
  • Didn't See That Coming: Wait, what do you mean a quarter of the universe?
  • Emperor Scientist: In the few times he's managed to control a planet, such as in "Survival".
  • Enemy Mine: He happily joined forces with the Doctor in order to defeat the Valeyard without any prompting or reward beyond being able to live in a universe without the Valeyard.
  • Even Evil Has Standards: There's a scene in "The Mark of the Rani" where the Master actually apologizes to Peri for getting her mixed up in what was supposed to be a tussle between just him and the Doctor. Additionally, some of the Rani's actions in that story genuinely horrify him, like turning people into trees.
  • Evil Is Hammy: Ainley once said, "I'm not a ham. A ham can be cured." Toned down in his final appearance... and then turned Up to Eleven in his final appearance in the 1997 video game Destiny of the Doctors.
  • Expy: Compared to the overtly predatory and hate-fuelled "Crispy Master" interpretation by Peter Pratt and Geoffery Beevers, Ainley's rendition of the Master is much more in-line with the campy Saturday-morning cartoon vibe of the original portrayal of the character by Roger Delgado, right down to the goatee and predominantly black wardrobe, to the point where one could call him a modernization of the Delgado Master. This is at least the case prior to "Survival", which features Ainley portraying the Master in a far more understated and clinical manner in-line with his personal desires for the character.
  • Fangs Are Evil/Fang Thpeak: The Master sports cat fangs in "Survival" as a result of the Cheetah Planet's transformative effects, with his speech gaining a noticeable lisp as a result.
  • Faux Affably Evil: If "Survival" was anything to go by, this Master, at his very core, was a malicious, repugnant, and sociopathic murderer.
  • Final Boss: The villain of the final serial of the classic series.
  • Fountain of Youth: Tremas promptly de-ages about forty years once the Master takes him over. After that, moving on from this temporary situation to a Gallifreyan-like body with a new set of regenerations is a priority aim of this Master. However, by the time of Destiny of the Doctors, he's started reverting back to gray hair (in part due to both the actor and the character's age by that point).
  • Giggling Villain: His "heh heh heh heh" is a notorious tic. Often the things he giggles at aren't even funny, even if you're evil.
  • A God Am I: Proclaims himself to be "The Master of All Matter".
  • Grand Theft Me: Manages to steal the body of an aged scientist named Tremas (an anagram of "Master").
  • Hellish Pupils: After he gets infected by the Cheetah Taint in "Survival".
  • Jerk Justifications: Often spouts the "nice guys finish last" and "I am what I am" ones.
  • Limited Wardrobe: Villainy must not pay well, because the Master seemingly owns only one outfit. He added a cowl to the ensemble in "The Five Doctors". In "Planet of Fire" and "Survival", he resumed wearing his Delgado suits.
  • Make It Look Like an Accident: Completely inverted in "Logopolis", in which the Master actually didn't mean to destroy a quarter of the universe, but decides to roll with it and pretends that he did it on purpose.
  • Manipulative Bastard: Not as common or as good at it as some versions, but notably tries to blacken King John's name in "The King's Demons" and tries to groom Midge as a pseudo-companion in "Survival".
  • Mike Nelson, Destroyer of Worlds: In "Logopolis", he accidentally destroyed one quarter of the universe because he didn't understand the true power of the culture he was messing with. And had he continued to abuse this power, ALL of the universe would have been screwed.
  • Not Me This Time: In both "The Five Doctors" and "The Ultimate Foe".
  • Not-So-Harmless Villain: "Survival" seemed to acknowledge the Master's foibles and turn them to his benefit. The Doctor cannot "defeat" him in the normal way without destroying the Cheetah Planet, making him properly dangerous again. Also, this is the first story where we see the Master darkly mimicking the Doctor's modus operandi: he starts gathering Earthling "companions" of his own and corrupts their values to fit his personal agenda.
  • Omnicidal Maniac: Casually waves away the fact that he accidentally obliterated a quarter of the universe, and then tries to hold the rest of the universe to ransom.
  • Right-Hand Cat: A whole race of them in "Survival", even feeding a purring cheetah-man by hand. He's also spotted cradling a small black cat briefly.
    The Master: They're essentially a fun-loving race.
  • Sesquipedalian Loquaciousness: He had a tendency to sound as if he'd swallowed a thesaurus. Of course, this does take place during John Nathan-Turner's run as producer, and two of his appearances were written by Pip and Jane Baker (no relation to any of the other Bakers in Who). They're rather well-known for using huge words and neat scientific concepts that make sense for the time the shows were made... and both the Sixth Doctor and the Master wind up sounding insanely smart.
  • Soft-Spoken Sadist: A lovely velvety voice masking a genuinely venomous mind.
  • Terms of Endangerment: Likes to say "my dear Doctor".
  • Unexplained Recovery: While it doesn't always need to be stated, it should be said that this trope especially applies to Anthony Ainley's incarnation. While most of the other incarnations were all Time Lords, this body of the Master's came from Traken. And it still survived things like being crushed, thrown around in time, burned alive and so forth!
    "You jest, of course. I'm indestructible, the whole universe knows that!"
    • In "Planet of Fire", he legitimately dies on screen — we actually see him get incinerated. He was brought back with a Hand Wave.
    • It should be noted that a number of EU works have attempted to explain the Master's reappearances.
  • Vanity Number Plate: In Destiny of the Doctors, one of the Master's vignettes has him driving a cherry-red microcar(!) as an overt jab at "Bessie". The number plate reads "Mas 1".
  • Villain Decay: Suffers this badly in his two Sixth Doctor stories, "The Mark of the Rani" and "The Ultimate Foe" (he isn't the title character in either one), in which he achieves very little and ends up acting as comic relief to the Doctor's confrontations with the Rani and the Valeyard. His final TV appearance, "Survival", manages to reverse this and make him even more menacing than previous appearances of this incarnation — some might argue he outpaces the Pratt/Beevers Master in this regard.
  • Waistcoat of Style: A silver one in Destiny of the Doctors.
  • Worthy Opponent: In the prologue to the Destiny of the Doctors game, the Master lists off the qualities of each of the Doctor's incarnations that he liked — but can only muster up a Backhanded Compliment each time.
    The Master: [about the Third Doctor] Now, there was a worthy foe. Such courage, such ingenuity! All wasted through that stubborn streak of goodness.

    The Master: And there's the First. Such wisdom, such intellect... [aside glance] But oh, what a bore the fellow was.
  • Writing Around Trademarks: For their adaptation of the unused TV script "The Hollows of Time", Big Finish couldn't get permission to use the Master. The character of "Professor Stream" is left ambiguous — though there are enough hints to gather that it's him, and eventually Big Finish stopped playing coy and flat-out included the story in their full collection of Master stories, confirming that it was him after all.
  • Xanatos Speed Chess: Of all the Masters, this one seems to work best when improvising.
    • After acting like a total klutz and accidentally wiping out a quarter of the universe's population (by accident), he ingeniously plays it off as if he'd intended to do it, and then promptly holds the remainder to ransom.
    • Similarly, after being marooned on the Cheetah planet and then being infected with a virus, the Master listens in on the Doctor's theory as to how to get off the planet. He then kidnaps another infectee and tests the theory, transporting himself back to Earth, where he then unleashes the infectee on the local populace, and then tries to steal the Doctor's TARDIS.

    Gordon Tipple's Master 

The "Old Master" (Seventh Doctor)
"If I am to be executed, and thus cruelly deprived of all existence…"
Played by: Gordon Tipple (1996)

An incarnation whose relationship with Ainley's Master is left ambiguous, the "Old Master" (as he is credited) appears for a scant few seconds at the beginning of the TV movie where he is executed by the Daleks on Skaro, to be reborn as a particularly campy Eric Roberts (about which more later).

Aside from the child version of the First Master, he is the shortest-lived televised incarnation of the Master, and does not even get any lines in the finished version of the TV movie, though he did have a few recorded, only to be left on the cutting room floor. Also the only incarnation of the Master played by a Canadian.

  • Ambiguous Situation: Is seen so briefly that it was long assumed by most viewers that he was simply a brief recasting of Anthony Ainley's Master (especially as he still sports the Glowing Eyes of Doom that Master was last seen with), though this was disproved when close-up production photos, and an interview with Tipple himself, surfaced. Even then, precisely how the Master got that new body is extremely unclear (the unhealthy appearance of the Old Master would suggest that he is still body-surfing, rather than having regained a Time Lord body, but really, who knows).
  • Creepy Shadowed Undereyes: To go with his green snake-like eyes and add to his unhealthy appearance.
  • Evil Sounds Raspy: Sounds downright ill in his (cut) opening monologue to the TV movie. According to Tipple, he decided to use such a voice on his own, having been given no clear directions as to how he should play the Master beyond generally looking evil.
  • Face Death with Dignity: Listens silently as the Daleks list off his crimes and prepare to exterminate him, and (in the deleted scene) dictates his last will and testament in a creepily emotionless tone.
  • Glowing Eyes of Doom: His distinguishing feature, shared by his immediate successor. A close-up of them briefly flashes during the opening credits of the TV Movie, watching menacingly over the TARDIS's flight through Time.
  • Red and Black and Evil All Over: His costume resembles Delgado's, but with red lines running on either side of his chest for emphasis.
  • Small Role, Big Impact: Appears for less than a minute, encased in a frankly ridiculous "Dalek execution cage". But, of course, his scheme, carried out by his next incarnation, constitutes the whole plot of the TV movie.
  • Thanatos Gambit: Lets himself be executed by the Daleks after arranging for his mind to survive the process, ready to possess another body, and to be aboard the Doctor's TARDIS when he does so.

    Eric Roberts' Master 

The "Bruce" Master (Eighth Doctor)
"I always dress for the occasion."
Click here to see him in Time Lord robes 
Played by: Eric Roberts (1996)

"Life is wasted on the living!"

After being sentenced to death on Skaro, the Master's ashes get taken back to Gallifrey by the Doctor. They naturally get sidetracked and the Master instead comes back to life as a gooey snake-thing, slithers inside an American ambulance driver named Bruce, and proceeds to drezzz for the occasion.
  • Affectionate Gesture to the Head: He kisses Chang Lee's forehead.
  • Badass Longcoat: For a while, before he moves on to full-on Time Lord gear.
  • Big Bad: Of The TV Movie.
  • Big Damn Kiss: Gets a Kiss of Death with Grace.
  • Body Horror: His body is decaying. He casually pulls off a fingernail. Word of God says that this was supposed to be even worse, with Eric Roberts donning various makeup prosthetics to show the body rotting away and implicate the Master's need for a new one, but the actor's skin became unbearably irritated from their application, leading to their removal from the narrative.
  • Camp: All incarnations of the Master are supremely camp, but Eric Roberts seemed determined to out-camp them all. Rather hilariously, later interviews revealed that he actually made an effort not to come across as effeminate and that he considered Paul McGann the camp one.
  • Disney Villain Death: He suffers something similar when he falls into the Eye of Harmony. The Doctor's partly responsible, since he shines a light in the Master's face as he leaps at him and causes him to overshoot, but does offer him a hand. Of course, this only slows him down until he manages to make his escape, as told in the Big Finish Doctor Who story "Mastermind", and he occasionally shows up to wreck havoc and misery again in Big Finish stories as well as the other parts of the Expanded Universe.
  • Evil Is Hammy: Even without the acidic saliva, Eric Roberts literally devours the scenery.
    The Master: I always dress for the occasion!
  • Glowing Eyes of Doom: He has constantly glowing green, cat-like eyes which he concealed behind sunglasses and used to instantly hyptonise Chang. The eyes are presumably a continuity nod to "Survival", in which the Master was infected and under the influence of the Cheetah Planet that gave the Ainley incarnation Supernatural Gold Eyes.
  • Grand Theft Me: He takes over the body of ambulance driver Bruce and then stages a plan to attempt to steal the Doctor's body.
  • Hell-Bent for Leather: Wears a leather coat.
  • Hellish Pupils: Green ones.
  • High Collar of Doom: His elaborate Time Lord outfit.
  • Impersonating an Officer: Thanks to body-snatching a paramedic.
  • Inhuman Eye Concealers: Wears wraparound shades to cover up his slit pupils — apparently a remnant of the Cheetah virus that he caught during "Survival".
  • Like a Son to Me: He calls Chang Lee "the son I've always yearned for" — shortly before snapping his neck.
  • Lovecraftian Superpower: Aside from the Grand Theft Me, his condition also gives acidic saliva. And that's just the start of what it can do...
  • Multiple-Choice Past: The Expanded Universe gives two different origins for his "Deathworm Morphant" snake form. The Eight Doctors novel said they were created by a race called the Morgs while The Fallen comic says they're native to the Dalek home planet, Skaro.
  • One-Winged Angel: He turns into a snake made of goo. It doesn't help.
  • Orifice Invasion: How he possesses his human body.
  • Out of Continues: His lives have already run out, so he possesses the body of an unlucky paramedic in order to steal the Doctor's body and his remaining regenerations.
  • Possession Burnout: Bruce's body starts decaying almost immediately after the Master takes possession of it, starting with the fingernails beginning to fall off.
  • Red Right Hand: His decaying fingers.
  • Serpent of Immortality: His initial form. Quite what it is is rather up to interpretation — the movie just lets you assume it's his Time Lord essence refusing to die, but The Eight Doctors states that it's a bit of alien Applied Phlebotinum.
  • Shut Up, Kirk!: The above quote came after the Doctor's Kirk Summation: "You want dominion over the living, but all you do is kill!"
  • Sinister Shades: To hide his glowy green eyes.
  • Terminator Impersonator: Gives off this vibe with his leather jacket and sunglasses.

New Series Masters

    Sir Derek Jacobi's Master 

The War Master (a.k.a. the "Yana" Master) (Tenth Doctor)
"The Professor was an invention. So perfect a disguise that I forgot who I am."
Played by: Sir Derek Jacobi (2007)

"Oh...! Now, I can say... I was provoked."

A gentle, quiet, bookish and very far from home old man... until he opens his fobwatch. Given a new lease on life by the Time Lords with the intention of having him fight in the Last Great Time War, the Master initially tried to manipulate the conflict to suit his own goals. But he eventually became so horrified by his experiences that he fled to the end of the universe and turned himself into a human to escape the carnage altogether. He has no memory of his true self until he meets the Doctor again, at which point all that quickly changes.

After debuting in the possibly-non-canonical animated special Scream of the Shalka, Derek Jacobi's Master is the first revival series Master to appear in Big Finish Doctor Who, taking the spotlight in a series of adventures set during the Time War, with the overarching title The War Master.
  • Absent-Minded Professor: Apparently a life-long trait of Yana's.
  • Amnesiac Dissonance: Oh boy, is this in effect here. Yana is a genuinely kind person, unlike his utterly ruthless true self.
  • Beard of Evil: During the Time War. It's gone by the time he becomes "Professor Yana".
  • Cool Old Guy: Well, at first...
  • Ditzy Genius: The Doctor is amazed that the Professor managed to cobble together a working system for a gravity footprint accelerator, built using a type of science that even he barely understands, all out of "food and string and staples".
  • Even Evil Has Standards: We officially learn how bad the Time War was by this Master's actions. The Time Lords brought him back to fight in the war, but the violence in the Time War was too much chaos for even the Master to take. And, so we're clear, the Master would be the first to pour gasoline over an innocent person and set them on fire just for the fun of it. When even he finds something too chaotic to take, we know it's bad.
  • Evil Counterpart: While the War Doctor is at the heart of the Time War, desperately trying to stop it without endangering innocents, the War Master is trying to selfishly use the chaos of the conflict for his own ends.
  • Evil Is Hammy: You can tell Jacobi is trying to make the most of his screen time.
  • Evil Old Folks: This Master appears quite elderly by human standards.
  • Fun with Acronyms: YANA = You Are Not Alone.
  • Gone Horribly Wrong: The Time Lords brought him back to fight on their side; it backfires horribly as he goes rogue and then goes AWOL when the conflict gets too much even for him.
  • Good Counterpart: Yana is a thoroughly decent man dedicated to saving humanity, who's only mildly annoyed his genius didn't get some recognition, as opposed to the self-centred, power-hungry and insane Master.
  • Hand Wave: He simply states that the Time Lords resurrected him to fight in the Time War, smoothing over both his death in the TV movie and the various contradictory events that happened afterward in the Expanded Universe.
  • Holding Hands: With the Doctor, adorably.
  • I Was Beaten by a Girl: "Killed by an insect... a girl. How inappropriate."
  • Kill the Cutie: Alas, poor Chantho. She got her revenge, but what with him being a Time Lord...
  • Near-Villain Victory: He almost killed the Doctor within about a minute of his true identity reasserting itself, while grabbing a useful tool in case the Doctor managed to somehow survive and follow him. The Doctor would have almost certainly been torn apart if it hadn't been for Jack's vortex manipulator, which the Master could not have known about.
  • Nice Guy: As the Professor.
  • Politically Incorrect Villain: As seen up above, he's annoyed by the idea of being killed by "a girl", but "insect" also counts as speciesist since the girl in question was an actual alien insect.
  • The Professor: Yana admits it's an affectation, and that by the year one hundred trillion there hasn't been a university in over a thousand years. But he is definitely a genius, no question about it. This makes for a very interesting parallel to the Doctor, for Ace called his Seventh incarnation "Professor", to say nothing about the Doctor's legendarily awful schoolwork.
  • Punctuated! For! Emphasis!: (whispered) "I... am... the Master."
  • Resurrected for a Job: The Time Lords brought him back to life complete with a new regeneration cycle to fight in the Time War. It backfired horribly; even he was scared stiff of the magnitude of the conflict, to the point that he fled to the end of time and used a Chameleon Arch to disguise himself just to hide from it all.
    • Notably, however, the Time Lords did follow his example, ultimately deciding to end the universe rather than admit defeat.
  • Terrible Ticking: The drums in his head, getting louder and louder with every passing moment.
  • That Man Is Dead: "That is NOT my name! 'The Professor' was an invention."
  • There Is Another: He appeared at a time when the Doctor thought he was the last of the Time Lords.
  • Tomato in the Mirror:
    The Chameleon Arch: The drums, the drums, the never ending drum beat. Open me, you human fool, open the light, summon me and receive my majesty!
  • Transformation Sequence:
    • Professor Yana's panicky fear and awe giving way to the cold, monstrous Master is just as dramatic, but told almost entirely in Jacobi's facial expressions.
    • While his regeneration is depicted in the same manner as the Doctor's in the revived series, it's shown to be more violent and psychedelic, with purples and greens instead of the Doctor's gold. Likewise, while the Doctor usually accepts the pain with grace (with the exception of Eight), the Master simply screams throughout the process.
  • Villain Protagonist: Of his own boxset no less.
  • Waistcoat of Style: Invoked by RTD, who insisted he dress like this.
  • White Sheep: Yana in comparison to the Masters.
  • You Could Have Used Your Powers for Good!: Shows a glimpse into what the Master could be if he renounced his villainous ways. Yana almost singlehandedly created a rocket that gave a chance for the last remnants of the human race to survive.

    John Simm's Master 
See his own page here.

    Michelle Gomez's Mistress 
See her own page here.

    Sacha Dhawan's Master 

The "O" Master (Thirteenth Doctor)
"Everything that you think you know is a lie!"

Played by: Sacha Dhawan (2020-)

"Doctor, I did say look for the spymaster. Or should I say spy... Master?"

This Master infiltrated MI6 by stealing the identity of an agent codenamed "O", in charge of researching alien phenomena. In this role, he befriended an oblivious Doctor, eventually masterminding a scheme involving billionaire Daniel Barton and mysterious glowing humanoid creatures. As for his motivation, it's all connected to a secret he found out regarding the true history of the Time Lords and something called the Timeless Child...
  • Ambiguous Situation: It's as yet unclear where exactly in the Master's timeline he fits in, especially since Missy had gone through a Heel–Face Turn and was specifically stated to have no hope of regenerating again — though a video put up on the show's official channel documenting the history of the Master confirms that the Saxon Master did regenerate into Missy and highly implied this incarnation comes after her. Then again, Unexplained Recovery is basically the Master's Signature Move, and it's lampshaded numerous times by their previous incarnation that Joker Immunity is to be the default assumption. It's implied during "Spyfall, Part 2" that he is indeed the incarnation after Missy — he makes an offhanded comment that he feels that murdering is what he was born to be doing, vaguely alluding to Missy's attempt to reform. Eventually, the 2021 Annual outright confirms he succeeded Missy. During a feature showing correspondence between the Doctor and the Master, she brings up the time he became a woman and almost turned good. His response? invoked"She spent too long in your company, Doctor -- a mistake I don’t intend to repeat." However, the Big Finish Missy series has her encountering a benevolent future incarnation of herself called the Lumiat (played by Gina McKee) who says that when Missy was killed, she used an Elysian field to distill all her good qualities into a new, separate body, so there may be Literal Split Personality in play after Missy's regeneration.
  • Attention Whore: Outright admits that some of his villainous schemes are carried out for the sole purpose of attracting the Doctor's attention.
  • Aw, Look! They Really Do Love Each Other:
    • As angry as he seems to be at the Doctor, he wouldn't be the Master without some affection for his old friend, as there's plenty of moments in "Spyfall, Part 1" (where nobody can see him and he doesn't have to lie) where he clearly finds her endearing.
    • His twisted behaviour in "The Timeless Children" is the equivalent of pulling the Doctor's pigtails, as he's so angry at what the Time Lords did to her, but is also a Green-Eyed Monster who feels betrayed, so he scapegoats her instead. Sacha Dhawan confirmed on Instagram that the Master still loves the Doctor.
    • It's even implied that he destroyed Gallifrey because he couldn't stand what the Time Lords did to her. In a way, he did this whole thing for the Doctor!
  • Ax-Crazy: The inevitable result of being a Psychopathic Manchild with a Hair-Trigger Temper. He outright admits he's addicted to killing people for no reason.
  • Bad Boss: In order to demonstrate the regenerative capabilities of the Cybermen he created, he orders one of them to shoot and kill another.
  • Badass Boast: He uses one to utterly dismiss the Doctor when she offers herself in exchange for a room full of innocent civilians.
    The Doctor: Let them go. Then you can have me.
    The Master: I've got you anyway.
  • Beard of Evil: Grows one out from stubble over the course of "Spyfall, Part 2" after the reveal of his true identity (including his 77-year trip back to 2020), suggesting more time passed for the Master than for the Doctor while he was hunting her.
  • Big Bad Duumvirate: Shares the role of Arc Villain with the Lone Cyberman in Series 12. However, he's disappointed by Ashad's generic plan and kills him, taking the Cyberium for himself to create an army of CyberMasters.
  • Big Bad Friend: The Doctor befriended him as O in one of her past male incarnations before he revealed himself.
  • Break the Haughty: This incarnation's debut had the Master possibly at his most grandiose and arrogant, fully self-assured that he had all the winning cards in his hands... then the Doctor proceeded to drop his perception filter and leaves him to be located and captured by the Nazis. When he returns to the present day 77 years later, the Master is clearly shaken, disturbed, and possibly traumatized by what he experienced during that time frame before he escaped.
  • Casting Gag: Dhawan played Waris Hussein, a regular director in the show's early days, in An Adventure in Space and Time.
  • Continuity Nod:
    • His laugh and penchant for clapping his hands together is strongly reminiscent of the Saxon Master.
    • Like Missy before him, this Master is once again disappointed that the Doctor doesn't "keep up" during The Reveal.
    • Uses a Tissue Compression Eliminator and reveals himself to the Doctor by presenting her with a victim inside a box, just like in the Master's very first appearance.
    • Like Saxon, he likes it when the Doctor says his name.
    • Recognises the four-beat signal the Doctor sends out in Paris, the rhythm of a Time Lord's hearts that haunted the Saxon Master.
    • He vaguely alludes to Missy's attempt to turn a new leaf twice — first stating that killing is what he's meant to do, and then openly questioning why the Doctor would think he'd ever stop.
    • Reminisces about "assassinating Presidents", referencing "The Deadly Assassin" and possibly what he did to Rassilon, as well as his murder of President Winters.
    • Like Missy, he creates an army of Cybermen from corpses, and imbues them with abilities that previous members of the species have never demonstrated before. She gave them to the Doctor as a gift, while he taunts his Doctor that they were made from her. Both 12 and 13 look vaguely queasy in reaction.
  • Crosses the Line Twice: He'll kill a person and then joke about it. In fact, on one occasion he was disappointed he didn't think of a Bond One-Liner until after he killed the subject in question. Said one liner was the funniest joke in the episode.
  • Death Seeker: Seems legitimately disappointed when he kills Ashad and the Death Particle within him doesn't activate.
  • Desecrating the Dead: Kills every Time Lord on Gallifrey, then turns their corpses into a new breed of Cybermen that can regenerate.
  • Don't You Dare Pity Me!: He desperately craves affection from the Doctor, but unlike Missy or even Saxon, feels so insecure like she’s above him now, just wants to spread the pain, and rubs it in that she couldn’t save him, saying he has no better nature after Missy got shot in the back.
  • Even Evil Has Standards: He discovered a truth about Time Lord history connected to the mysterious "Timeless Child" that led him to raze Gallifrey again. The Doctor even seems to agree that he was somewhat right to do it, although he refuses to tell her what he found out initially. Ultimately subverted as the Master was angry about the Doctor being so special to the Time Lords, committing atrocities out of petty jealousy and deliberately rubbing salt in the Doctor's wounds.
  • Evil Counterpart: He even spins around and flaps his hands like the Eleventh Doctor did. Jodie Whittaker noted in an interview that, like the Thirteenth Doctor, this Master changes his mood on a pin. For instance, in "Spyfall", just as the Doctor switches within seconds from annoyance at having to kneel in front of him to straight up gleeful mockery when she figures out there are definite gaps in his knowledge of the Kasaavin, this Master switches numerous times in that episode from calm and calculating to loud and angry on a dime. Additionally, he's very much the Psychopathic Manchild to her Womanchild and even shares her propensity for Puppy-Dog Eyes and Thinking Out Loud. He even has a Northern accent like 13 does (just as 12 and Missy both had a Scottish accent in common) and wearing trousers that don't reach. These versions also share similar death seeker tendencies. On the other hand, his belief that the Doctor is something more powerful and important than he is has led him to conclude they aren't the same after all.
  • Evil Evolves: He seems to be heading in this direction. His plans are more complicated (while also being more slipshod) than Saxon's, and while Saxon was more straight-up unhinged, this incarnation is leaning more toward unpredictable; it's shown on several occasions that the Doctor has no idea what he's going to do next, and his constant, random vacillating between calmness and rage visibly throws her off her game.
  • Evil Gloating:
    • Well, naturally. His glee and smugness when he details how he outwitted the Doctor by performing a Kill and Replace on the real "O" is palpable.
    • Works against him during "Spyfall", with his gloating about how Daniel Barton and the Kasaavin will do his dirty work for him before he eliminates them getting recorded by the Doctor and replayed when the Kasaavin army's about to attack her for foiling Barton's scheme, causing them to turn on him.
  • Evil Is Petty:
    • This Master is so dead-set on opposing the Doctor that he'll even disguise himself as a Nazi to get at her. The Doctor notes that this is low even for him. It is also for this reason that he refuses to tell her what he found out about the Timeless Child so finding out will be as hard for her as it was for him.
    • Later, it is revealed that upon learning that the Doctor is the Timeless Child, and thus the source of the Time Lords' regenerative ability, he wiped them all out simply out of sheer spite for the fact that he couldn't stand the idea that everything his race achieved was because of his archenemy.
  • Evil Laugh: Sacha Dhawan must have taken notes from John Simm's performance.
  • Face–Heel Turn / Heel–Face Door-Slam: If he is indeed the incarnation suceeding Missy, the redemption that she underwent at the end of her life never stood a chance of sticking once he discovered the revelation that the Doctor is the Timeless Child. This caused him to go on a rampage and slaughter all the Time Lords on Gallifrey, and he ultimately regressed back to the Master's old villanous ways.
  • False Reassurance: After taking a crowd hostage, he starts focusing on a cowering woman and demanding to know if she'd moved, then starts laughing and apologises for his "mistake". Then he offhandedly "dolls" her up anyway.
  • Faux Affably Evil: Heavy on the "faux" with this incarnation. It takes barely anything for him to drop the façade and reveal the snarling murderous bastard underneath.
  • Freudian Excuse: Possibly. While he doesn't directly mention his attempts to redeem himself when he was Missy, and questions why he would ever want to stop killing, it's heavily implied that he was deeply traumatised by what he found on Gallifrey and lashed out at them in revenge.
  • Gender Bender: If he is indeed the incarnation that came after Missy, then he's back to being male once again. Ironically with the Doctor now being the female one.
  • Genocide from the Inside: Destroys Gallifrey for real, leaving it a broken, burnt-out shell. Or so he at least claims.
  • Go Mad from the Revelation: While the Master has never been sane to begin with, it's implied that what he discovered about the Time Lords drove him even further over the edge.
  • Gone Horribly Wrong: How he found out the Awful Truth. Judging by what he says to the Doctor, he'd just been messing around in the Matrix for giggles. And then he learned about the Timeless Child.
  • Green-Eyed Monster: At least part of his motivation is due to the discovery that the Time Lords became what they are thanks to the Timeless Child... who is actually the Doctor. He can't stand that everything he and his species is ultimately originates with his former best friend and always has.
  • Hair-Trigger Temper: Possibly the most easily-angered portrayal to date. He lampshades this when he says that the bomb he had planted on the plane has a short fuse. He can relate to that.
  • High on Homicide: He openly admits to the Doctor that he's somewhat addicted to killing people for little reason, claiming that it gives him a "buzz" in both of his hearts.
  • I Can't Believe It's Not Heroin!: Does an Addled Addict nose sniff before telling the Doctor MI6 has a surprisingly good staff canteen.
  • Incoming Ham: When the O persona is cast away, the ham increases! When he returns in "Ascension of the Cybermen", he gets the hammiest entrance in the episode.
  • It's All About Me: He hates the Time Lords for what they did to the Doctor, but makes it all about how he feels inferior to her now. Even she has enough by that point, and angrily shoves him.
  • Kick the Son of a Bitch: He destroys Gallifrey — but considering their track record of genocide, manipulation of entire civilizations and torturing him and the Doctor, it's hard to hold it against him.
  • Kneel Before Zod: Threatens to keep murdering hostages unless the Doctor does this. On top of that, he forces her to call him by name, which puts a very specific type of subtext on her submission.
  • Knight of Cerebus: The Thirteenth Doctor's run becomes much darker once he shows up.
  • Laughably Evil: He is a psychopathic madman, but he makes hilarious jokes.
  • Last of His Kind: Along with the Doctor, as a result of the razing of Gallifrey — an act he claims to have carried out himself as the result of discovering an Awful Truth about the "Timeless Child".
  • Locked Out of the Loop: He's livid when he discovers that the Time Lords withheld the truth of the Doctor's past — enough to wipe them all out. That the Doctor herself doesn't remember said past is secondary to his latest tantrum...
  • Meaningful Name: Mentions he specifically took the identity of MI6 agent "O" in expectation of the Doctor's Oh, Crap! reaction once she finally discovered him.
  • Mood-Swinger: Not that the Master has ever been a model of stability, but this incarnation swings back and forth between cool, composed schemer and shouty, Axe-Crazy lunatic with alarming frequency. He can go from a Cold Ham to a Large Ham depending on his mood too.
  • Oh, Crap!: Explicitly took the identity of someone codenamed "O" to serve as the punchline when the Doctor recognizes him and says the Trope Namer.
  • Offscreen Moment of Awesome: Apparently annihilated the civilization of the Time Lords after finding out the truth of the Timeless Child — something even the Daleks never managed at the height of their power. "The Timeless Children" implies that his victims never even had time to regenerate.
  • OOC Is Serious Business:
    • In his holographic message explaining his destruction of Gallifrey and why he did it, he has a completely serious demeanour in contrast to his usual Psychopathic Manchild behaviour, only breaking slightly at the end when he refuses to tell the Doctor what he discovered about the Timeless Child.
    • His Death Seeker moment when he admits he'd have been ok with the Death Particle annihilating everything including himself is disturbing on its own, but all the more so when set against the character's long, long history of trying to survive at all costs — a sign of how mentally broken he's become.
  • Pretty Boy: Floppy hair, Puppy-Dog Eyes, pouty lips... The Guardian recaps don't call him "hot camp Master" for nothing.
  • Psychopathic Manchild:
    • Gleefully reveals the man he killed, shrunk and then kept in a matchbox for years to the Doctor before, giggling, declaring "I have had a LOT of fun!"
    • He takes great pleasure in murdering members of a crowd he's demanded not move, such as murdering a couple just so he can show their shrunken corpses to the rest of them, while mentioning how they're such a happy couple.
    • He acts like a schoolboy around the Doctor, what with the manic clapping and "not telling you!"
  • Puppy-Dog Eyes: Sacha Dhawan called him a more melancholy Master, and even with a Hair-Trigger Temper he looks seconds away from crying a good chunk of the time.
  • Race Lift: The Master's first obviously non-white-appearing incarnation onscreen (Roger Delgado was mixed-race, but could pass for Caucasian). Becomes a minor plot point in "Spyfall, Part 2", with the Doctor confused how he managed to worm his way into being a Nazi officer with his current appearance. He handwaves this with a perception filter, which she later disables after spreading false info that he's a British spy, leading to his arrest.
  • Revisiting the Roots:
    • Unlike his predecessors in the new series, this Master doesn't just use laser weapons, but also the Tissue Compression Eliminator from the classic series (in an episode that aired the day before the 49th anniversary of the Master's first appearance and use of the TCE, no less). He ruminates on his past victories too. Jodrell Banknote , hijacking the Matrix, assassinating presidents... Also lampshaded.
      The Master: It's a classic.
    • He is also the first incarnation of the Master to possess a Beard of Evil full-time since the incarnation played by Gordon Tipple. In the classic series, said beard was considered to be a distinctive characteristic of the Master.
  • Sanity Slippage: It's been a given for decades that the Master is nuts, but after regenerating from the partially-reformed Missy, it seems like the brake lines have been cut.
    The Master: When I kill them, Doctor, it gives me a little buzz, right here in the hearts. It's like— how, how would I describe it? It's like... it's like knowing I'm in the right place, doing what I was made for.
  • Secondary Color Nemesis: Has a thing for purple.
  • Sharp-Dressed Man: Has a very snazzy sense of fashion.
  • Shout-Out: Notes his TARDIS that's disguised as a house flying through the sky is a bit Wicked Witch of the West.
  • Sir Not-Appearing-in-This-Trailer: Completely absent from all Series 12 promotional material prior to the airing of part one of "Spyfall". Sacha Dhawan was not included on released cast lists, and scenes in either trailer where he is present were represented by shots where he's either hidden or difficult to spot. Even as "O", he was absent.
  • The Slow Path: Thanks to the Doctor stealing his TARDIS and leaving him a captive of Nazis, he has to spend 77 years getting out of the 20th century and back to the current events and his plans with the Kasaavin. He isn't happy about it.
    "So, I've just had the most infuriating 77 years of my life."
  • Small Name, Big Ego: Possibly the most egotistical and pretentious of all the Masters.
  • Smug Snake: He's an arrogant and self-absorbed Slimeball that gets intensely giddy of his malevolence.
  • Suddenly Shouting:
    • Starts shouting at the Doctor when she tries sonicking the cockpit bomb, apparently offended she'd think he wouldn't sonic-proof it.
      The Master: Did you really think I wouldn't make that sonic-proof, Doctor?! Come on!
    • Again when he initially orders one of the Cybermen he created to shoot and kill another in his normal tone of voice, then yells at the top of his lungs when said Cyberman initially hesitates.
      The Master: [points at one Cyberman, then another] Shoot him. [first Cyberman hesitates] SHOOT HIM!
  • Then Let Me Be Evil: Finding out his oldest friend is the Timeless Child made Missy’s fragile redemption regress into an incarnation that is deeply hurting and angry, for both himself and the Doctor, and he razed Gallifrey to the ground, even desecrating the corpses to make them a mix (hybrid if you will) of Cybermen and Time Lords. He even lies to make the Doctor still think she couldn't save Missy, saying he has no better nature.
  • Too Kinky to Torture: He makes a sound like he was enjoying Ashad choking him, and he has a giant smile when the Doctor goes feral and shoves him to the ground.
  • Tragic Villain: Neither Missy or Saxon were all that stable, but they also very much didn't want to die. This version, on the other hand, is utterly wrecked and clearly wants it to end. There's also an element of selfishness to his tragedy, as he feels insecure about his friendship with the Doctor so ends up making her pain all about him.
  • Unexplained Recovery:
    • As usual. No explanation is given for how they survived after Missy got shot with a blast that was supposed to make them Deader Than Dead. There are various possibilities as to how Missy might have got a new body, but it's not addressed in the show (though he still has two hearts and a Time Lord's slow aging).
      • Big Finish's Missy: Series 2 provides a possible explanation, but it's hardly an outright confirmation. Missy purges all of her "badness" using Time Lord technology after being killed by the Saxon Master, creating a kind and memory addled Time Lady known as "the Lumiat." After adventuring with Missy for a short time, Missy quickly becomes disgusted by this good version of herself and (in a very Master-like move) kills the Lumiat to get this "phase" over with. She comments that regeneration is always a lottery for them, and that there's no guarantee she'll stay good in the next life.
    • Not from death, but "The Timeless Children" completely glosses over how he got out of the realm of the Kasaavin. They're not even mentioned.
  • Walking Spoiler: Like his predecessor (in series chronology, at least), it's virtually impossible to discuss him without disclosing that he's the Master.
  • Wham Line: When the Doctor first spots a hole in his "O" cover story, the Master instantly drops the bubbly voice he was using and says Got me... in a cold and contemptious tone.
  • Where I Was Born and Razed: The end of "Spyfall" reveals that before the events of the episode, he went back to Gallifrey and killed everyone on it, burning the Capitol to the ground on the way out. For his part, he claims that finding out the truth about the Time Lords' origins and the Timeless Child meant that he couldn't leave them alive in good conscience.
  • Woobie, Destroyer of Worlds: His friendship with the Doctor, the thought betrayal of "The Doctor Falls", and finding out what the Doctor is and what the Time Lords did to them, have left this regeneration completely Axe-Crazy and a broken Death Seeker, who would like nothing more than for the Doctor to kill him.