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Tenth Doctor

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"You can spend the rest of your life with me, but I can't spend the rest of mine with you. I have to live on. Alone. That's the curse of the Time Lords."

First appearance: "The Parting of the Ways" (2005)
Debut: "The Christmas Invasion" (2005)
Regeneration story: "The End of Time" (2009-2010)

Played by: David Tennant (2005–2010, 2013)

"I'm old enough to know that a longer life isn't always a better one. In the end, you just get tired; tired of the struggle, tired of losing everyone that matters to you, tired of watching everything you love turn to dust. If you live long enough, Lazarus, the only certainty left is that you'll end up alone."

The scruffy and somewhat Mulder-ish heartthrob, with a great inner fury concealed under his easygoing attitude. An accidental and often reluctant Chick Magnet, the Tenth Doctor started out rather manic: prone to speaking very quickly, peppering his speech with pop culture references and foreign words, and going off on long rambling tangents. Despite his bubbly personality, he didn't hesitate to lay down the law, much like his predecessor did (later Doctors would behave much more diplomatically); he invariably subjected his foes to a Fate Worse than Death if they passed up the one chance at redemption he always offered.

He despised his past selves for their role in the Time War, and was always at his coldest when confronted with it.

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Tropes associated with the television series:

    TV Series Tropes - A to E 
  • The Ace: Steven Moffat describes him as "genuinely cool", in contrast to the Eleventh Doctor.
  • Ace Pilot: He manages to take control of the Titanic as well as the Vinvocci's spacecraft, and pilots both through perilous environments to safety, despite having no experience in either vehicle before.
  • Accidental Marriage: An elaborate ploy to unmask an Elizabeth I impostor, Columbo-style, ended with him proposing marriage to the actual Queen. The spirited Liz actually accepts, and, before Ten can duck into his TARDIS and split, ropes him into a wedding ceremony — which, because a later Doctor is present and their timelines interacting, Ten won't even remember happening after they leave! No wonder she wants his head in "The Shakespeare Code".
    Tenth Doctor: I'll be right back.
  • Adorkable: At the best of times, most certainly. See the start of "Doomsday" for a good example.
  • Allergic to Routine: On several occasions, he makes it clear he couldn't stand an ordinary life. The possibility of not being able to travel around the universe unnerves him, at best. It shows up during a conversation with Rose during "The Impossible Planet", where he thinks about having to own a house. With windows.
    The Doctor: Me, living in a house!
    Rose: (sing-song) You'd have to get a mortgage!
    The Doctor: No, no, I'm dying. It's all over.
  • Ambiguously Bi: It doesn't come up as often with Ten as with Eight, Nine and Eleven, but he has his moments:
    Doctor: [to Martha] Yeah, well, you can kiss me later. You too, Frank, if you want.
  • Ambiguous Innocence: Certainly seems more innocent than his previous incarnation, but is later revealed to be a little on the Cute and Psycho side.
    • His more child-like nature also winds up being the cause of a lot of his suffering throughout his run on the show.
  • Apologises a Lot: Particularly when he realizes that someone's about to die.
  • Arch-Enemy: The Cult of Skaro and the Masternote  .
  • Ascended Fanboy: Both meta and in-character, as in "Time Crash" he gushes to the fifth Doctor that he had modeled his incarnation after him.
  • Back-to-Back Badasses: Done with a clone of himself and Jackson Lake on two separate occasions.
  • Badass Boast: Plenty.
    • When dealing with the Vashta Nerada.
      The Doctor: Don't play games with me! You just killed someone I like, that is not a safe place to stand! I'm the Doctor, you're in the biggest library in the universe!...Look me up!
    • And on the Titanic space ship.
      The Doctor: I'm the Doctor. I'm a Time Lord. I'm from the planet Gallifrey in the constellation of Kasterborous. I'm 903 years old, and I'm the man who's gonna save your lives and all six billion people on the planet below...You got a problem with that?
    • Also, "What do monsters have nightmares about?" "Me." — Originally a Seventh Doctor Catch-Phrase in the Doctor Who – Expanded Universe.
    • "The Day of the Doctor", after his life-signs detector fails once again to correctly identify the Zygon he's hunting in Elizabethan England.
      Tenth Doctor: I'm the Doctor, I'm 904 years old, I'm from the planet Gallifrey in the constellation of Kasterborous. I'm the Oncoming Storm, the Bringer of Darkness and you are basically just a rabbit, aren't you? OK, carry on... just a general warning.
    • Crosses over into Blasphemous Boast at one point: "I'm the Doctor. If you don't like it; if you want to take it to a higher authority... there isn't one. It ends with me!".
  • Badass Longcoat: Given to him by Janis Joplin. Also, his bathrobe in "The Christmas Invasion". (Saving the world in pajamas alone just won't do.)
  • Badass Normal: During his stint as John Smith, he has to fight the alien Family of Blood while being completely human himself.
  • Batman Grabs a Gun: "The End of Time", against Rassilon because the Ultimate Sanction is one of two things that could make the Tenth Doctor use a gun. Before that, his daughter Jenny being fatally shot made him grab one and seem to consider shooting General Cobb in the head.
  • Beware the Nice Ones: The Family of Blood found this out the hard way.... So did the Sycorax leader, the Abzorbaloff, the Wire, the Cybermen, the Racnoss children, the Carrionites, and the Weeping Angels, the Daleks and the Sontarans, with varying degrees of deadness or worse-than-deadness.
  • Big Damn Kiss: Practically his signature move. However, Russell T. Davies typically included some kind of excuse for him to do so, in order to keep the fans happy. To date: Cassandra in Rose's body (she kissed him), Reinette (she kissed him), Martha (to distract aliens with his DNA on her), Joan (he wasn't himself), Astrid (she kissed him, and then he kissed her into stardust to thank her), Donna (she kissed him, because he would die unless he was "shocked"), Rose (it was his half-human clone), Lady Christina (she kissed him), and Queen Elizabeth I (several times, at least some seemed mutual) and Elizabeth's Zygon clone (she kissed him).
  • Bitter Sweet Ending: Like Five before him, his regeneration into the next Doctor. Everything wound up fine, but he died crying, scared, and alone.
  • Borrowed Catchphrase: Borrows his previous incarnation's catchphrase "Fantastic!" at the end of "The Christmas Invasion" to subtly remind Rose that he's still the same person she first met.
    • Amusingly, a Deleted Scene would have had him unable to articulate it, which he claimed was because he no longer had the teeth.
    • Invokes the Master's catchphrase ("And you will obey me!") during "The Waters of Mars" (seemingly without realizing it), even Milking the Giant Cow as he says it.
  • Bound and Gagged: By the Master in "The End of Time".
  • Break the Cutie:
    • Such moments include almost being murdered in "Midnight", being forced to become a father very suddenly and almost immediately having his new daughter die in his arms, seeing another version of himself commit genocide on the Daleks all over again, saying goodbye to Donna, and all of "The Waters of Mars". Also, series 3 has about one moment of absolute screaming agony for him per episode on average.
    • Referring to his status as a father, not only has he lost the cloned daughter; his children and granddaughter Susan, his children from when he was the first Doctor, are supposedly dead because of the Time War.
  • Break the Haughty: Beneath the cheery, manic exterior, the Tenth Doctor's big flaw was his arrogance and hubris. Every so often — such as the ending of "The Waters of Mars" where he declares himself the Time Lord Victorious and decides that he and only he gets to decide the laws of time — he lets his arrogance and hubris get away from him. If he does, expect something to happen not long after to brutally put him back in his place — such as the ending of "The Waters of Mars" where Adelaide, sickened by the Doctor's A God Am I mindset, commits suicide just to prove him wrong.
  • Broken Ace: In contrast to his serious, grief-stricken predecessor he comes off as being very confident and perfect at everything, but on the inside he is every bit as self-loathing.
  • Bully Hunter: He definitely gives the guests bullying Morvin and Foon Van Hoff in Voyage of the Damned a lesson.
  • Byronic Hero: He develops into this as the show progresses. Not surprising after all the times he got broken and losing his companions.
  • Call-Forward: A rather blatant example in The Day of the Doctor. His final words of that episode?
    10th Doctor: Trenzalore?...We need a new destination because...I don't want to go.
  • Cannot Spit It Out: Is absolutely incapable of telling Rose how he feels about her. His half-Donna clone whispers it into her ear, but we never hear it.
    • "Tell Rose, tell her... Oh, she knows."
    • "And I suppose... Since it's my last chance to say it... Rose Tyler, I—"
    • "Does it really need saying?"
  • Cartwright Curse: Chick Magnet...of Doom!
  • Cast from Lifespan: He gave up 10 years worth of regenerative energy to refuel the TARDIS and escape Pete's world. Also, if his references to his age are to be taken at face value (at least relative to each other), then this incarnation lasts only six years, including the extra regeneration he burned up.
  • Catch-Phrase:
  • Celebrity Paradox: He makes at least a few shout-outs to Harry Potter. David Tennant played a major role in Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire.
  • Character Development:
    • He starts off as a kind, cheerful, adventure-loving chap with a motormouth. None of this goes away completely, and is still very prevalent in his character. However, as more and more people start to die around him, and as he loses Rose, pushes Martha away inadvertently, and wipes Donna's memories, he slowly and subtly starts to develop a darker side. He gains an almost obsessive desire for saving people and preventing death at any cost to him. By The Waters of Mars he is showing A God Am I tendencies and, tellingly, uses some of the exact same lines The Master uses, although Capt. Adelaide Brooke's suicide pushes him back from the edge.
    • His opinion of regeneration also changes as time goes on. The first time he faces the possibility of regenerating he seems to view it as almost inconsequential. By the time he actually faces it, however, he sees little difference between it and dying.
  • Character Tics:
    • He runs his hands through his hair when he's frustrated.
    • He dramatically dons his glasses when it's time to look clever.
    • That tongue-on-the-roof-of-his-mouth thing he does all the time.
    • "...and my voice going all squeaky when I shouted, I still do that! I got that from you." ("You" being the Fifth Doctor.)
    • Shoving his hands in his pockets when confronting enemies or antagonistic characters.
    • Rocking back and forth on the balls of his feet while talking, especially to aforementioned enemies and antagonists.
    • Pulling on his earlobe or rubbing the back of his neck when uncomfortable or embarrassed (usually brought on by Donna).
    • The Left Eyebrow. It has its own tumblr.
    • David Tennant must be contractually obligated to make this face at least once an episode.
  • Check and Mate: On several occasions the Doctor looks utterly defeated and the villain is reminiscing on their victory, only for the Doctor to reveal at the last minute he had anticipated everything and against all odds they had lost. His quote from the "The Family of Blood" is currently the overhead example on the trope page.
  • Chekhov's Gun: Who knew that after getting his hand cut off in '05, we'd see the Doctor's severed hand again all the way at the end of Series 4 in '08...?
  • Chick Magnet: There's a reason Martha compared Ten in a tuxedo to James Bond. He even temporarily stops taking on companions because they keep falling in love with him, or having their lives ruined by him, or both. Effortlessly and very accidentally seduces most people he meets, ranging from Cassandra to Madame de Pompadour. He also slept with and married Queen Elizabeth I, leading her to want his head on a spike after he left to save the day after the ceremony and never came back for her. Even Donna ended up bearing his offspring, albeit in a roundabout fashion. ("Journey's End")
    "‘I’m the Doctor and I’ve just snogged Madame de Pompadour!"
    • Lampshaded in "The Day of the Doctor" by the War and Eleventh Doctors, after the Tenth Doctor's impromptu wedding to Elizabeth I ends with her attempting to snog the Tenth Doctor's face clean off.
      War Doctor: [Bemused] Is there a lot of this in the future?
      Eleventh Doctor: [Embarrassed] It does start to happen, yeah..
  • Complexity Addiction: He admitted in "Day of the Doctor" that his gadgets tend to have tons of extraneous features, like an eReader for not-yet-published comic books.
  • Contrasting Sequel Main Character: In contrast to the Ninth Doctor, who's cynical, moody and weary attitude would often work to hide his strong inner optimism and idealism, Ten's rather pleasant and Adorkable surface concealed his inner wrath and capacity for ruthlessness.
  • Contrived Coincidence: A meta-example: the guy named David Tennant (his stage name, picked years before Doctor Who) gets to play the Tenth Doctor.
  • Crazy Awesome: In-universe, as Donna lampshades in "Fires of Pompeii".
    Donna: You fought her off. With a Water Pistol. I bloody love you!
  • Cultured Badass: Acknowledged in "Fires of Pompeii" when he easily wins a verbal sparring match with Lucius Petrus Dextrus, who notes that the Doctor clearly shows himself to be a man of learning. He also enjoys Agatha Christie and Shakespeare.
  • Death by Irony: Ten inadvertently triggers his demise in his very first story, when he blithely unseats Harriet Jones. This sets in motion a series of events leading to his regeneration.
  • Despite the Plan: The remnant of the darker Doctors inside him (particularly Seven) favors bold, decisive action that ends with saving the day and everyone cheering. The only problem is, being that he's also carrying around bits of the 5th Doctor, he isn't any good at it, and takes it unbearably hard when innocents die on his watch. He couldn't save anyone on the Titanic (barring a con man and a Billy Zane-type slimeball); in "Midnight", all of the Doctor's strengths are turned against him, and his refusal to leave behind even one person nearly ends up killing everyone; and in "Waters of Mars", he crowns himself the new emperor of time, only to shockingly discover that he hasn't changed history one iota.
  • Did Not Get the Girl: Rose. Despite being clearly in love with her and it being heavily implied that she was the real reason he wasted an entire regeneration not to change his face, at the end of "Journey's End" he leaves her with the half-human Clone!Doctor, who would be able to grow old with her and give her the life he never could.
  • Disorganized Outline Speech: Twice he gives a speech (instructing and rousing, respectively) and he gets the order of numbers confused.
  • Distressed Dude: Not as frequent as his predecessors, but still continuing the tradition.
  • Ditzy Genius: While this Doctor loved to show off his intellect, he at times displayed a lack of common sense and everyday life norms. Most notable with Donna who is unhesitant to rub it in.
  • Doesn't Like Guns: Loathes them, fighting without them for his entire tenure as the Doctor. The only time this specific incarnation actually grabbed a gun was when he found out that the Time Lords were returning.
  • Does Not Like Spam: "Don't let me eat pears; I HATE pears!"
  • Does This Remind You of Anything?: The Doctor is (of course) completely fine with Jack's sexuality, but displays a whole lot of Fantastic Racism about Jack's Immortality. When they finally talk about it, the dialogue intentionally sounds more like it's about sexuality than about immortality. He explains that Jack had become a Fact of the Timeline, all the while claiming that it's just wrong and admitting that he honestly finds it hard to look at Jack now. Jack takes it as sounding prejudiced, and Ten notes that he hadn't looked at it that way yet, explaining that as a Time Lord, it's literally an instinctive reaction and he can't help it.
  • Don't Call Me "Sir": He really doesn't like it when people salute him. This becomes a running gag with U.N.I.T.
  • Don't Make Me Destroy You: He always told villains exactly what was in for them if they didn't make a Heel–Face Turn.
  • The Dreaded:
    • To the Racnoss Empress in "The Runaway Bride"", who remembered Time Lords killed her people.
    • He was also able to scare the Vashta Nerada off after telling it to look him up in the Library, in "Forest of the Dead".
  • Dying Alone: No one was with him when he regenerated. "I don't want to go".
  • Establishing Character Moment: In his introductory episode, not 10 minutes after a quirky monologue about how he never knows what sort of man he is when he first regenerates, in the course of not even fifteen seconds, the Tenth goes from making a light-hearted joke to deftly sending the Villain of the Week plunging to his death without even turning around.
    The Doctor: No second chances; that's the sort of man I am.
  • Even the Guys Want Him: Captain Jack expresses definite appreciation (though that's Captain Jack).
  • Expressive Hair: Ten's hair has been known for reflecting his mood. During "The Day of the Doctor" his hair is the flattest we've ever seen it, indicating his sadness, but when the War Doctor mentions Rose it has returned to its usual gravity-defying state.

    TV Series Tropes - F to M 
  • Famous Last Words: "I don't wanna go."
  • Fantastic Racism:
    • Initially towards his clone Jenny, though it had underlying emotional issues as well, since she reminds him of the pain of losing his family and entire race as well. He later accepts her as his "daughter" later in the episode, especially when she "dies".
    • He has trouble just looking at Jack Harkness after he becomes a Living Fixed Point in Time.
  • Fascinating Eyebrow: His left eyebrow is particularly acrobatic...to the point where someone made a parody tribute about it
  • Fingertip Drug Analysis: Often skips the fingertips and licks the "evidence" directly. This comes back to bite him when, at one point, the "evidence" turns out to be dust made of corpses. Ptooey.
  • Finishing Each Other's Sentences: As he warms to the Eleventh Doctor, the pair of them start talking and moving in unison.
  • Flat "What."/Big "WHAT?!": His tendency to utter these in increasing confusion occurs so often, it's almost a Catch-Phrase.
  • Foil: Unlike Nine, Ten wore his emotions on his sleeve and involved himself in conflicts much more readily.
  • Fun Personified
  • Future Me Scares Me: Ten was most impressed with dashing, cliff-jawed Jackson Lake when it looked like he might be the Nth Doctor. Pencil-necked, Manchild Eleven... not so much. The pair immediately start sniping at each other like kids, with the War Doctor standing by as the aggravated parent.
    • He showed real contempt when the Eleventh Doctor admitted he'd "forgotten" the exact number of incinerated children on Gallifrey. Ten has it pegged down to the decimal. Unlike the happy reunion with the Fifth Doctor, this incarnation is from a less-innocent era.
    • Ultimately Subverted with the two of them, however, as they get quite a few moments of camaraderie between them, and are in almost perfect sync with each other by the end of their adventure together. They part on good terms and seem to get along swimmingly so long as they stay off the topic of the Time War.
  • Gadgeteer Genius: More than any other Doctor, the Tenth absolutely loves jerry-rigging new devices out of whatever junk is lying around the ship (including building his very own proton pack).
  • Geek Physiques: Of the skinny variety. It's one of the first things he notices about himself. "Little bit thinner. That's weird; give me time, I'll get used to it."
  • Gibbering Genius: Especially when things get stressful.
  • A God Am I:
    • Beneath the over-caffeinated exterior, Ten was one of the more hubristic Doctors, all too aware of his superiority over other races. At his worst, the Doctor deemed himself — and only himself — fit to decide which lives were more important than others.
      Mr. Copper: Of all the people to survive, he's not the one you would have chosen is he? But if you could choose, Doctor; if you could decide who lives and who dies... that'd make you a monster.
    • In "The Waters of Mars", he has a five-minute period where he decides that, as the last Time Lord, he now decides all the laws of time. It is terrifying and awesome in equal measure.
  • Godzilla Threshold: Tied directly to his hatred of guns in that he tries to avoid them if at all possible. You know he feels this trope is met when he either tolerates others using guns or he himself picks one up.
  • Good Is Not Soft: Ten is a guy that will save everyone he can without asking for reward (except, perhaps, gushing thanks at how brilliant he is) and he'll even try to help his enemies. If you scorn him, then prepare to meet a Fate Worse than Death.
  • Good Thing You Can Heal: In this case "In The First Fifteen Hours Of Your Regeneration Cycle" because the Doctor can regrow a hand that was cleanly cut off.
  • Guile Hero: He is often knowledgeable about all his enemies' habits and weaknesses, and will play them at his fingertips. Examples of this include outsmarting the Weeping Angels into staring at each other in "Blink", or when he teases and tricks the Sontaran in "The Sontaran Stratagem".
  • Happily Married: To Queen Elizabeth I, apparently, until he crossed her.
  • Heel Realization: Toward the end of his life, the 10th Doctor suspected there'd be ramifications for his many underhanded moves over the years. This turned out to be the case.
    Doctor: I've taken lives. And I got worse; I got clever. Manipulated people into taking their own. Sometimes I think a Time Lord lives too long.
  • Heroes Want Redheads: "Loves a redhead, our naughty Doctor... Has he told you about Elizabeth I? Well, she thought she was the first."
    • He also wanted to be a redhead, a ginger to be exact, and was disappointed when he was told he wasn't.
  • Heroic Sacrifice: Ten has done this many times, with one standing above the rest. It's when he chooses to let himself get blasted by 500,000 rads of radiation to save Wilfred Mott, resulting in his regeneration, knowing very well he doesn't want to trigger it.
  • History Repeats: Like with the Fifth Doctor, what ultimately does him in, is choosing to sacrifice himself to save the life of a companion.
  • Hot-Blooded: Oh so much. He's passionate in nearly everything he does. When he's excited, he can reach Keet levels.
  • Hot Blooded Sideburns: He's very excited when he discovers them just after regenerating.
  • Hot Scientist: Promotional material likes to play up his sex appeal as well.
  • How Dare You Die on Me!: He insisted, then outright begged the Master not die on him - an unusual case in that the Master really could have fixed himself in a second and "died" purely out of spite.
  • Hypocrite: Upon regenerating from the Ninth Doctor:
    The Doctor: To save my own life, I changed my body. Every single cell, but I'm still me.
    • When discussing the prospect of his own regeneration.
      The Doctor: Even then, even if I change, it feels like dying. Everything I am dies. Some new man goes sauntering away... and I'm dead.
  • Iconic Item: His "brainy specs" (briefly replaced with 3-D glasses at one point) and his dapper suits, always worn with a pair of Chuck Taylors and a longcoat on the go.
  • Idiot Hair: Which naturally looks like that without gel or anything, though he fusses with it a lot as well.
  • I Hate Past Me: The Tenth Doctor finds his previous incarnation — the response to the hate-filled soldier who fought in the Time War — abhorrent; this affects how he responds to Jenny and Clone!Doctor. Naturally, this also means he despises the War Doctor himself.
  • Immortality Immorality: He realized how detached he was becoming as early as "School Reunion", and often commented that he'd lived too long to relate to mortal people. On the other hand, he wasn't about to regenerate again if he could help it: cloning himself, running away from his responsibilities to the Ood, and even toying with leaving Wilf to die instead of him.
    11th Doctor: Number Ten once regenerated and kept the same face — I had vanity issues at the time.
  • I'm Mr. Future Pop Culture Reference: "I Am Spartacus" joke in "The Fires of Pompeii", among others.
  • Improbable Aiming Skills: He's able to calculate the geometries and physics of flying objects very quickly, saving a runaway baby carriage with a well-timed cricket ball. Also a hint that Mr. "John Smith" isn't all that he seems. (Tellingly, when Ten drops the mask at the end of "The Family of Blood", he effortlessly snatches his pocketwatch out of the air with one hand.)
  • Innocently Insensitive: As part of his new Motor Mouth, the Doctor now tends to say what's on his mind as soon as it enters it, making him quite rude at times. He often recognizes this mid sentence. "Am I being rude again?"
  • Ironic Echo: His Famous Last Words, "I don't want to go!", compared to his oft-quoted catchphrase, "Allons-y! (Let's go!)"
  • I Was Quite a Fashion Victim: His response to Five's celery stalk corsage. Eleven echoes this sentiment, only this time it's at Ten's "sand shoes."
    Ten: They're not sand shoes!
    War Doctor: [scoffs] Yes, they are.
  • Keet: Provided he's in a good mood rather than being angry or angsty, the only box on the Keet checklist he can't tick is "short" (Tennant is 6'1" tall according to IMDB).
  • Knight Templar: He has annihilated entire fleets of enemy spacecrafts and, presumably, his own people, as well as the various monsters of the week. He seems to swing back and forth on the Sliding Scale of Idealism vs. Cynicism quite frequently. In one case, the Doctor was attacked by creatures who wanted to steal his immortality. They got their immortality all right. Getting the Doctor personally angry is, in his own words, "not a safe place to stand." As Donna says in "The Runaway Bride", "I think sometimes you need somebody to stop you".
  • Klingon Promotion: With supposedly no Time Lords left to govern time and space, he sometimes took it on himself to decide the proper path of history.
    Tenth Doctor: For a long time now, I thought I was just a survivor, but I'm not. I'm the winner. That's who I am. The Time Lord victorious.
  • Leitmotif:
    • "Song for Ten" - a bittersweet Christmas ballad - was an original song composed for "The Christmas Invasion" and used as incidental music throughout the Tenth Doctor's run.
    • While he inherited "The Doctor's Theme" from Nine in Series 2, from Series 3 onward, Ten gains his own primary theme, "The Doctor Forever", which encapsulates both the somber and adventurous side of the Tenth Doctor and incorporates "Martha's Theme" as well, to symbolize the growing bond between the two time-travelers. Dozens of variations of "The Doctor Forever" were used throughout Series 3 and 4, usually at the end of an episode.
    • "All The Strange, Strange Creatures" acts as Ten and Martha's adventure music in the third series, a season with constantly rising stakes, and gains a souped-up, electronic variation in Series 4 entitled "A Pressing Need To Save The World".
    • Ten has a longer and more stirring version of "The Doctor's Theme", performed with a choir instead of a sole vocalist, that is used during the second half of Series 4, symbolizing how much the Doctor has grown and changed yet remained the same since he debuted in Series 1.
  • Let's Get Dangerous!: He usually comes off as a scatterbrained goofball until things really start to get serious or one of his Berserk Buttons is pressed, at which point Beware the Nice Ones comes into full effect.
  • Like a Son to Me: He develops this relationship with Wilfred Mott, seeking out his counsel despite being 10 times older than the salty WWII veteran. For this reason, a mysterious Time Lady referred to as "The Woman" appears to Wilf to explain that the Doctor needs his help. Out of all the people in the world, she picks the closest thing to a father figure the Doctor has. (Claire Bloom's "Woman" character is hinted to be the Doctor's matriarchal figure, with Wilf playing the patriarchal role.)
  • Living Forever Is Awesome: He pulls every trick he can to avoid regenerating, much less genuinely dying, because the universe is awesome and he wants to continue traveling it. He dilly-dallied on meeting with the Ood during The End of Time because he wasn't looking forward to "his song ending soon" and briefly considered leaving Wilf to die because he could do "so much more!"
    • This doubles as Dramatic Irony: He is among the shortest-lived incarnations, in-universe, despite doing everything to avoid regenerating properly.
  • Loners Are Freaks: This Doctor traveled by himself for long stretches, having grown weary of heartbreak over his loved ones leaving him. Whenever left alone with his enemies, he tends to stop playing Mr. Nice Guy and threatens to just waste them all.
  • Loss of Identity: The Tenth Doctor carried a lot of baggage — unsure of "what kind of man" he was on any given day — and he perhaps never sorted it out. The artificial intelligence embedded inside the Moment summed him up best as, "the man who regrets." This is also why he dreaded regenerating; while some previous Doctors treated it as no big deal, Ten considered it to be dying.
    The Doctor: Even then, even if I change, it feels like dying. Everything I am dies. Some new man goes sauntering away... and I'm dead.
  • Loved I Not Honor More: For all his reliance on Rose for stability, he seemed determined to shake her. Unwilling to tear her away from her family, he sealed Rose away in an alternate universe with no hope of return. In "Journey's End", Doctor!Blue was deemed too dangerous to be left to his own devices. The genuine Doctor decided to pair him off with Rose, believing she was the only remedy for him. Ten then departed again, presumably for good.
  • Manly Tears: Ten wasn't afraid to cry — losing Rose hit him especially hard, and the impending end of his life (even with the chance he'd just regenerate into a new man) had him on the verge of tears with sheer terror.
  • Martyr Without a Cause: He's too eager to perform a Heroic Sacrifice in many adventures.
  • Master of the Mixed Message: Yes. Just ask Rose. As a result of the whole Rose thing, he's extremely clear to both Martha and Donna that they should not fall in love with him, and that they'll be kicked out of the TARDIS if they do... but of course, this never works out as neatly as he plans it. Jack and Martha both lament that the Doctor keeps making them fall in love with him, then acts completely oblivious to it.
  • Meet Cute: A much-delayed one with his spouse, River Song. Being that she's from a future point in his timeline, River's already infatuated with him; however, Ten reacts to this strange woman's meddling with barely-masked irritation.
    River: Good God, you're hard work young!
  • Messianic Archetype: Evokes a lot of Christian imagery, and re-enacts multiple Bible scenes, especially whenever he's on New Earth. He's aware of it in "Voyage of the Damned", when he commands the robotic angels to carry him up to the control room.
  • Messy Hair: He has pretty unkempt hair, though the kind that's clearly deliberately messy. Like with the Fourth Doctor, the mess level depends a lot on the story.
  • Mind Rape: Both given and received. What he was forced to do to Donna continues to haunt him.
  • Morality Chain: It's outright stated that he needs his Companions in order not to act cruelly or give in to his god complex and become The Unfettered. Only Donna seems to realise this and (eventually) successfully fulfill this role by frequently asking What the Hell, Hero?.
  • Motor Mouth: Often, especially when he gets excited. Martha recommends that it's best to simply nod when he stops for breath.
  • My God, What Have I Done?: At the end of "The Waters of Mars" he realizes he's "gone too far" with history meddling.

    TV Series Tropes - N to Z 
  • Necktie Headband: A memorable reverie in 18th century France. There's a reason they call it the House of Bourbon.
    The Doctor: I think I just invented the banana daiquiri a couple of centuries early.
  • Nice Job Breaking It, Hero!:
    • One of the first things he does after regenerating is overthrow Harriet Jones, changing history to screw Britain out of its promised "Golden Age" and leading directly to the ascension of Prime Ministers Harry Saxon and Brian Green.
    • Possibly due to holding back his regeneration for so long in order to say goodbye, he suffers a particularly violent regeneration that nearly destroys the TARDIS and damages the sonic screwdriver. This ends up severely screwing over his next incarnation. (He also could have not accidentally aimed the regeneration burnoff directly at the console.)
  • Nightmare Fetishist:
    • Was usually thrilled to meet new and bizarre monsters, often calling them "beautiful". Queen Vicky had a problem with this, and banished him and Rose from the kingdom for treating deadly alien threats as fun and games.
    • It also almost gets him lynched in "Midnight."
  • No Sense of Direction: On land, the Doctor's usually pretty good about where he's going. Flying the TARDIS... not so much. As per usual, several stories begin with the old girl having landed somewhere contrary to where the Doctor wanted to be (19th century Scottish highlands rather than 1970s Glastonbury, for example), and in "Planet of the Dead", he tells Christina he can never find Easter.
  • Not Himself: Has been possessed, brainwashed, DNA-altered, cloned and generally displaced more than any other Whoniverse character.
  • Not So Different: The Tenth Doctor and The Master often are depicted as opposite sides of the same coin. It's particularly noticeable in Waters of Mars when the Doctor flat-out becomes him for a brief moment:
    The Doctor: The laws of time are mine and THEY WILL OBEY ME!
  • Older Than They Look: Obviously, being the Doctor, but play with concerning this body specifically. Even with the second regeneration, this version lasted only roughly 6-9 years, making him by far the shortest lived Doctor. This explains some of his issues with regenerating.
  • Ooh, Me Accent's Slipping: Occasionally he'd mess up a vowel (Tennant's native accent is Scottish, as demonstrated for fun in "Tooth and Claw"), and in "Smith And Jones" Davies gave him the phrase "Judoon platoon upon the moon" just to mess with him.
  • Oral Fixation: He had a tendency to lick things in his first series, although it was mostly dropped after that.
  • Other Me Annoys Me:
    • Ten is highly disturbed by the Metacrisis Doctor's willingness to succumb to his darker impulses when facing the Daleks in "Journey's End", likening him to the Ninth Doctor as someone born in blood and battle. Part of the reason he chose to leave the clone with Rose was so she can make him into a better man, as she had for him.
    • He was very irritated by Eleven's constant teasing in "Day of the Doctor" and kept telling him to shut up.
  • Papa Wolf: Only two things ever made him mad enough to pick up a gun and even consider killing someone in cold blood, and one of them was the death of his daughter, Jenny.
  • Perma-Stubble: He always has a 5 o'clock shadow, which makes it look like he shaves before going to bed. Lampshaded when he meets the Fifth Doctor in Time Crash;
    Tenth Doctor: Check out this bone structure, Doctor, because one day you're gonna be shaving it!
  • Pop-Cultured Badass:
    • His very first Rousing Speech is from The Lion King.
    • Ten is a fan of eighties pop culture in particular, owing to the nostalgia wave going on at the time. He happily references Ghostbusters while hunting for the undead (while wearing 3-D glasses, no less), cites Back to the Future as a means of explaining the grandfather paradox to Martha, and calls the Master "Skeletor".
    • He seems to be a fan of Harry Potter, if "The Shakespeare Code" is anything to go by.
  • Preemptive Apology: So often that it's a Catch-Phrase: "I'm sorry. I'm so sorry."
  • Pretty Boy:
    • Lampshaded in "Silence in the Library", though it takes him a bit to catch on.
      River: Pretty boy! With me, I said.
      Doctor:... Oh, I'm pretty boy?
      Donna: Yes! [disturbed] Ooh, that came out a bit quick...
    • Invoked by the Eleventh Doctor in "The Time of the Doctor", in regards to the Metacrisis regeneration.
      Eleventh Doctor: Well number Ten once regenerated and kept the same face... I had vanity issues at the time.
  • Pride: The Tenth Doctor's Fatal Flaw. A charismatic Doctor, surrounded by often adoring companions, most of his problems arise from being a little too comfortable in the role of "the hero", leading him to become a little too arrogant to admit the possibility of him failing. True enough, "pride goeth before a fall", and it usually came back to bite him. In particular, this eventually comes to a head in "The Waters of Mars", where he briefly declares himself Time Lord Victorious, with near-disastrous consequences. In a retcon example, the Eleventh Doctor reveals that the Meta-Crisis Doctor was actually a proper regeneration that the Tenth Doctor used up because of his "vanity issues"; he'd use up a life rather than change his appearance.
  • Prophecy Twist: "He will knock four times."
  • Psychotic Smirk: Briefly adopts one when he goes off the deep end during "Waters of Mars".
  • Rasputinian Death: Ten could take a good deal of punishment. His last adventure ended with him falling several stories into a glass canopy (peeling himself off the floor a la Wile E. Coyote), then getting bombarded with lethal radiation. He staggered on for a few more hours, finally collapsing in a icy street. He very nearly froze solid until the Ood sang a song to guide him to the safety of his TARDIS...where he promptly regenerated.
  • Recycled In Space: In one Dead Ringers sketch, he is referred to as "Jarvis Cocker IN SPACE!"
  • Rogues Gallery: Roboform, Sycorax, Graske, Cassandra, Krillitanes, Cybus Cybermen, the Wire, the Beast, the Cult of Skaro, the Empress of the Racnoss, Judoon, Baltazar, Carrionites, Richard Lazarus, the Family of Blood, Weeping Angels, the Master, Max Capricorn, Pyrovile, Sontarans, Vashta Nerada, the Midnight entity, Davros, the Flood, and Rassilon.
  • Rousing Speech: Good at convincing those around him how awesome they are and how they can totally defeat the monster of the week, but they tend to occasionally get lost a bit on the way.
  • Royals Who Actually Do Something: The Tenth Doctor married Queen Elizabeth I, and as such, was technically the Prince Consort of England at one point in time. Since Elizabeth is remembered as "The Virgin Queen" we can assume no one ever found out.
  • Say My Name: The Tenth Doctor loves to scream ‘MAAAAAARFAAAAA!’ and 'DONNAAAAAAAAA!'. It calls to mind another hammy thespian who's known for shouting ‘HAAAAACE!’
  • Screw the Rules, I Make Them!:
    • "Waters of Mars":
      The Doctor: There are laws of time. Once upon a time there were people in charge of those laws but they died. They all died. Do you know who that leaves? ME! It's taken me all these years to realize that the laws of time are mine and THEY WILL OBEY ME!
    • Not since the 3rd Doctor has this much emphasis been put on the "Lord" part of the job description. Only Donna proved saucy enough to stand up to him ("The Fires of Pompeii").
      Donna Noble: What, and you're in charge?
      10th Doctor: [pretends to ponder this] Hmm, TARDIS, Time Lord, YEAH!
      Donna Noble: Donna, Human, NO!
  • A Shared Suffering:
    • The Trope Namer. The Doctor considered his test tube daughter, Jenny, a mockery of the Time Lord race with no grasp of his culture or what they've lost. (Worse yet, she's a soldier, making her doubly devilish in Ten's eyes.) However, he quickly felt remorse for the harsh things he'd said.
    • This was also his motive for sparing the Master's life, against the protests of his companions and his own better judgment. Lucy Saxon vetoed him by shooting his captive in the gut, whereupon the Master decided to forego regeneration out of pure spite.
      Master: How 'bout that? I win.
  • Sherlock Scan: Does this from time to time, usually accompanied by him taking out his glasses. He most commonly does this when analyzing alien technology. The best example is in "The Unicorn and the Wasp" where he takes on the role of a detective and analyzes the crime scene.
  • She's Not My Girlfriend: A running gag with Donna. For once, it's absolutely true, and they really are just best friends. (Which is why, when he needs a "shock" to save his life, her snogging him does the trick quite well. They never speak of it again.)
  • Shipper on Deck: Usually tells Jack Harkness to stop flirting with everyone, but eventually plays wingman to hook Jack up with Midshipman Alonso Frame.
  • Short-Lived Big Impact: In-universe example. Because of Russell T. Davies' decision to have one year pass per season, as opposed to Steven Moffat's century-spanning time skips and the large jumps in the Doctor's age from the classic series, the Tenth Doctor is canonically the Doctor with the shortest lifetime, but fit several of the most important and far-reaching events of his entire life within those few years.
  • Shirtless Scene: In "The Stolen Earth/Journey's End". (Actually a naked scene, but we only get to see his upper half.)
  • Smite Me, O Mighty Smiter!: The only Doctor thus far to dare Time itself to try and stop him — which he thought Time could not do, seeing as he controls the last TARDIS and is the last temporal "law"-maker in the universe.
  • Sociopathic Hero: Turned into this briefly during "The Waters Of Mars", being heroic and disturbing in equal measure.
    The Doctor: I'm so old now. I used to have so much mercy...
  • Specs of Awesome: Both the brainy specs and his "Doomsday" glasses.
  • Stepford Smiler: Even without the already present baggage of the Time War and being Last of the Time Lords, from Doomsday onward the Doctor desperately tries to plaster over his grief over losing Rose to... no real luck whatsoever. As time goes on and more and more horrific things keep happening, the smiling becomes more pronounced.
    The Doctor: Oh, I'm always all right.
    Donna: Is "all right" special Time Lord code for... not really all right at all?
    • Taken to extremes by Day of The Doctor, when he's still in the midst of romping around all of time and space doing ridiculous things... to avoid going to Ood-Sphere and confronting his foretold demise. His Expressive Hair remains nigh-consistently flattened through, though.
  • Sugar-and-Ice Personality: These warring sides of his psyche came to the fore in Series 4 onward, particularly the specials.
  • Sword Fight: Right after regenerating, the Doctor takes on the leader of an alien invasion force in a Christmas invasion.
  • Technical Pacifist: Eventually confessing to Wilf that he "got clever". The trope already came back to bite him on day one of his tenure, when he deposed Harriet Jones for what he considered to be her war crime, broke the Web of Time (she was supposed to be Prime Minister for three terms), and made way for the very nasty Prime Ministers Harold Saxon and Brian Green instead.
  • That Man Is Dead: Inverted in "Family of Blood". The Doctor tells Joan that he shares all of the feelings "Smith" had. Joan, for her part, sees only an unfeeling bastard standing in the doorway, not her true love.
  • Trademark Favorite Food: According to Eleven, it's bacon. Eleven gags when reintroduced to it.
  • Tranquil Fury: And No Indoor Voice. He's loud when he's in a good mood and quiet when he's pissed off.
  • Trauma Conga Line: Ten's entire career could be described this way—which is saying a LOT considering the Doctor in general.
  • Truly Single Parent: To Jenny, a daughter-clone harvested from his cells in "The Doctor's Daughter". He's not happy about being forced into parenthood at gunpoint.
    • Almost-single parent to the Metacrisis Clone, who is technically the offspring of him and Donna.
  • Unkempt Beauty: He'd be a Sharp-Dressed Man if he did his tie up, stopped wearing trainers, shaved properly, neatened his hair, pressed his suit and stopped fiddling with his buttons. All of these were deliberate choices by David Tennant who insisted on the trainers and requested a suit that was that wrinkled and had lots of buttons to play with.
  • Verbal Tic: He said 'brilliant' every few sentences. He also said 'weeeell' a lot, similar to the Fourth Doctor.
  • Vitriolic Best Buds: With Donna. This has become Tennant and Tate's standard whenever they work together.
    • In the rather short time they got to know each other, Ten and Eleven got on rather well most of the time, even when they endlessly took shots at each other.
      Ten: What are you doing here? I'm busy!
      Eleven: Oh, "busy"? I see, is that what we're calling it, eh? Eh? [bows before the two Queen Elizabeths] Helloooo, ladies.
      Ten: Don't start...
      Eleven: Listen, what you get up to in the privacy of your own regeneration is your business.
      Ten: One of them is a Zygon.
      Eleven: [Disgusted] Eurgh... [Quickly backpedals] I'm not judging you.
  • Wardrobe Flaw of Characterization: He's nearly always seen in a perfectly-tailored brown or navy pinstripe suit and tie of the sort that would not look out of place in a board room, but with casual canvas sneakers instead of the expected dress shoes to emphasize his eccentric nature.note  He expresses discomfort any time he is forced to dress the rest of the way up in a black tux and dress shoes, if only because especially horrible things tend to happen when he wears it - though he is more than a little pleased when Martha remarks that it makes him look very James Bond.
  • What the Hell, Hero?: Breaks his own rules in "The Waters of Mars" by saving the people whose death would have inspired the human race to spread out into space. He is called out on it in the most horrific way possible: The key person who was supposed to die fully understands what happened, and quietly walks off to kill herself. Which leads to the Doctor having a nervous breakdown.
    • Later invokes this in "The Day of the Doctor" towards Eleven when he learns his future regeneration forgot how many children there were on Gallifrey.
  • Who Wants to Live Forever?: He alternates, depending on how good his mood is. Usually, he's of the opinion that he does. The universe is big, and there's all those things out there he hasn't seen or done yet... but at the same time, there's losing all the people closest to him, watching them grow old, or die, or leave. And while he claims he lived too long before saving Wilf, his last words are "I don't want to go".
  • You Can't Fight Fate: Invoked countless times over the course of his run. As soon as he thought he'd finally triumphed over it, someone knocks four times...
  • You Wouldn't Like Me When I'm Angry: A particular feature of this incarnation, as "The Family of Blood" finds out the hard way. They wanted immortality? They got it. In the most horrifying fashions possible.

    Comic Tropes 

Tropes associated with the Doctor Who Magazine line

  • Rogues Gallery: Sontarans, Hajor, Jacey the tour manager, the Iagnon, Harpies, Kingfish, Skith, Graxnix, Sycorax, Memeovax, Wesley Sparks, and the Crimson Hand.

    Big Finish Tropes 

Tropes associated with Big Finish

https://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/tenth_doctor.jpg
Voiced By: David Tennant (2016–present), Jacob Dudman (2018)

In cooperation with licence holders AudioGo, Big Finish made Ten the central character of the Destiny of the Doctor story "Death's Deal".

In 2016, David Tennant started reprising the role for a series of full-cast audio dramas, featuring more adventures from his time with Donna and Rose.

In 2018, Big Finish brought the Tenth Doctor into their Doctor Chronicles audio series, with Doctor impersonator, Jake Dudman, playing the role while also narrating.

  • The Bus Came Back: Like Tom Baker, Tennant would come back to the role some time after departing from the television series.
  • Incredibly Lame Fun: Surely Donna and her boyfriend would love to go around an old church, maybe look at the architecture, do a little brass rubbing? The Doctor doesn't seem to get why the two want a few hours alone, away from him.
  • It's All About Me: In "Death and the Queen", he assumes the baddy's goal is to get to him. He's a little surprised when it bluntly tells him this is not the case. It's after Donna.
  • Mistaken for Romance: The old running gag of him and Donna being mistaken for romantic partners crops up once more, in "Death and the Queen".
  • Moment Killer: Donna's attempts to get a few moments (or more) alone with a good looking prince are ruined by the Doctor constantly showing up just as things are going somewhere.
  • Rogues Gallery: The Diggle, Gully, Koggnossenti, Ice Warriors, Mefistoles, Slitheen family, and Zaross.


Alternative Title(s): Tenth Doctor

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