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Third Doctor
"It seems that I am some kind of a galactic yo-yo!"

First appearance: "Spearhead from Space" (1970)
Regeneration story: "Planet of the Spiders" (1974)

Played by: Jon Pertwee (1970–74, 1983, 1993–1994, 1995note )

"Courage isn't just a matter of not being frightened, you know. It's being afraid and doing what you have to do anyway."

The secret agent man, known for his Edwardian dress and fast cars (Bessie and the Whomobile!), half the time profane, and the other half profound. He spent a great many years trapped on Earth in the 20th Century with the TARDIS rendered inoperative, and often got into misadventures with his "friends" at UNIT, particularly The Brigadier.

The Third Doctor loved to be a showoff and was prone to magic tricks and all sorts of gadgetry, but that could also be his one downside as well. He sometimes got a little too caught up in his own devices, and if you caught him in one of his surlier moods, you'd encounter a highly abrasive man with a pointed tongue and a masculine pomposity just begging for him to be slapped — something his successors would learn the hard way when times changed and it became more acceptable for people to act out their frustrations.


A noticeably agile and more action-oriented Doctor, he wasn't adverse to use more than his mind to subdue his enemies, and often resorted to Good Old Fisticuffs, being capable take on multiple opponents at once with his "Venusian Aikido". When the Time Lords finally restored his memories of driving the TARDIS, he became much more of a gentleman to his companions.

He revealed much of his Bizarre Alien Biology (notably the two hearts) and was the first Doctor to be broadcast in color. As this Doctor's tenure was largely confined to present-day London, he also inaugurated the grand old Doctor Who tradition of Everything Trying to Kill You. It was also this incarnation that formally introduced his greatest individual Arch-Enemy, The Master, with the Roger Delgado incarnation being present for many of Pertwee's episodes.


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    TV Series Tropes 

Tropes associated with the television series

  • 20 Minutes into the Future: The UNIT years are vaguely set somewhat in a "near future", which could be anywhere from the 1960s to the 1980s. The Brigadier's daughter lampshaded this continuity (or lack thereof) in "The Day of the Doctor" when she requested an archive file.
  • '70s Hair: Terrance Dicks joked that you can measure which season you're watching by how big Pertwee's hair has gotten. The Doctor's bouffant is truly extraordinary in Season Eleven, looking for all the world as though he has stuck his finger in a power socket.
  • Action Hero: Villain holding his companion at gunpoint? No problem! Karate-CHOP!
  • Actor Appeal: The Third Doctor stories have a lot of car chases, because the writers enjoyed indulging Pertwee's love of fast cars and odd vehicles. In his final story, by way of a send-off, there's a completely gratuitous chase that lasts twenty minutes and involves several cars, a flying machine, and a hovercraft.
    • Terrance Dicks, script editor at the time of Jon Pertwee's run, has actually said that he often asked Pertwee if the actor desired anything in his tales beyond the story being fun. Being given this massive potential of a request, all that Pertwee asked for was "a moment or two of charm". The "reverse the polarity" line was another favorite of Pertwee's, as the actor struggled with what we would refer to today as technobabble.
    • As for all the gadgets and undercover military work in Three's era — in 2013, footage unearthed by journalists revealed that Jon Pertwee worked for Naval Intelligence during World War II, and his job involved briefing spies and commandoes in the use of espionage and assassination gadgets.
  • Agent Peacock: He was also the best dressed Doctor, famous for his frilly shirts, opera cape and smoking jacket. Believe it or not, this was standard attire for British sci-fi at the time, best personified by Michael Moorcock's Jerry Cornelius (and later nicked by Grant Morrison's Gideon Stargrave). The concept of a shrewd Dandy working for a team of investigators is similar to Jason King, which ran at the same time. Pertwee captures the zeitgeist pretty well.
  • Arch-Enemy: The Masternote  and the Daleks.
  • Awesome Anachronistic Apparel: Velvet, ruffles and capes.
  • Badass Cape: Had a black velvet cloak, with red lining, that he wore with his fancy black coat and white sleeve ruffles. Unironically. (The cape itself was inspired by Pertwee's grandfather.)
  • Badass Driver: Three's tinkering with motorcars and his love of driving/flying could be seen as a displacement of his desire to hop in the TARDIS and be off.
  • Badass in Distress: For as much time as he spent getting captured, he was just as good at escaping and trouncing his enemies.
  • The Big Guy: At 6'2 1/2", he towers over almost everyone he meets, and is probably the most likely Doctor to physically hit someone. The only person who ever overpowered him was Rossini's musclebound circus thug.
  • Blue Blood: The most 'aristocratic' of the Doctors, and none too patient with the lower classes, i.e. the humans.
  • Bound and Gagged: In "Day of the Daleks".
  • Breaking the Bonds: He managed to free himself in the above instance at least.
  • Break the Haughty: The more he condescends at UNIT personnel, and gets dragged through the most crippling ordeals for his trouble, the more you start to suspect the Time Lords exiled him as a lesson.
    • A perfect example is when the Doctor believes he's fixed the TARDIS console once and for all. With one last sneer at the Brigadier's ineptitude, he beams out of UNIT... only to stagger through the front door, covered in soot. Apparently he rematerialized in a dustpile.
      Brig: "Pompous, self-opinionated idiot," I believe you said, Doctor?
      Doctor: Yes, ahem, well we don't want to bear a grudge for a few hasty words, do we..?
  • Catchphrase: Two prominent ones - "Reverse the polarity" and "Now listen to me". The former is plugged into a lot of situations where Three tampers with equipment. The latter gets a lot of use when Three wants to be frank or someone is stubbornly ignoring his warnings.
  • Character Development: Although the Third Doctor is a gentleman throughout his entire run, his visible frustrations tone down dramatically after the Time Lords return to him his control over the TARDIS.
  • Character Tics:
    • A habit of saying, "Yes, well" to start his sentences, answering "Yes, of course", humming a ditty when tinkering on things, displaying a half-interested attitude when people try talking to him while he's working with lab equipment, and touting a very cheeky grin when he makes a clever joke.
    • John Levene, who played Benton, pointed out in a DVD commentary that once Pertwee realized he had a habit of rubbing his neck, his conscious attempts to stop resulted in a habit of touching his mouth, his conscious attempts to stop resulted in a habit of rubbing his neck again. Occasionally he touches his ear, just to mix it up.
    • He tends to speak with his hands on his hips or leaning up against things if he's in a happy mood, and has very dramatic, sharp movements.
  • Combat Pragmatist: Preferred quick battles to flashy ones.
  • Contrasting Sequel Main Character: Three is tall, professional, and no-nonsense, much unlike the clownish, hobo-like Two. He also prefers being commandeering and flashy, compared to Two's knack for mind games and subtlety.
  • Cool Car: The Whomobile (basically a hover car) and Bessie, his trusty gold jalopy. This Doctor was never happier than when he was cruising down the countryside in that bucket of bolts.
  • Cool Old Guy: With a giant shock of white hair.
  • Cultured Badass: Enjoyed drinking fine wine, as well as loudly singing opera while driving his vintage car.
  • The Dandy: For his choice of clothes and awesome hair. Lampshaded during "The Three Doctors" when the First Doctor actually called him this.
  • Deadpan Snarker: Very.
    Third Doctor: What did you expect? Some kind of space rocket with Batman at the controls?
  • Depending on the Writer: Robert Sloman wrote him as a Warrior Poet in a very obviously Buddhist mould.
  • Distressed Dude: Let's face it, the Third Doctor is the KING of this trope.
  • Embarrassing Tattoo: Embarrassing for the BBC, that is. The Third Doctor has a dragon tattoo on his arm that can be seen quite plainly during the events of "Spearhead from Space." This is actually a tattoo from actor Jon Pertwee's navy days, when he got really really drunk and woke up the next day with the tattoo on his arm while in port. And no, he wasn't ashamed of it. The producers Hand Wave this by claiming the Doctor never had a tattoo and we're all seeing things. Much later, though, Eleven notes that tattoos are fairly common for Time Lords, and Eight boasts about having one in the novels.
    • Part of the Expanded Universe claims it's a prison tattoo, which he bears during his exile to Earth. Another Time Lord, Grandfather Paradox, ended up with the dragon tattoo put on his arm by the Time Lords when he was branded a criminal; unlike the Doctor, Paradox cut the arm off.
  • Expanded Universe: Notably the oldest Doctor to appear in a fan-made video spinoff: "Devious." However, the thing has inexplicably been in Development Hell since 1995, and was at one point used for audio bits in the Big Finish story Zagreus just to get it out there in some way.
  • Expy: Jason King (that hair!) crossed with Adam Adamant (that cape!), with a slice of John Steed for good measure. Or you can boil it down to what every show took inspiration from at the time: James Bond.
  • Famous Last Words: "A tear, Sarah Jane? No, don’t cry. While there’s life, there’s..."
  • Fascinating Eyebrow: He hates this regeneration at first — realising just how expressive his new eyebrows are eventually warms him up a bit to his new face. (And it means he can very easily speak Delphon, the language of comical eyebrow wiggling.)
  • Fish out of Water: The Doctor is looking more "alien" in this era of the TV series (two hearts, a dumb alias, magic gizmos). Part of it is being plucked out of a fantastic environment wherein his human qualities were more dominant.
  • Gadgeteer Genius: As a result of reverse-engineering his TARDIS in the often vain hope of getting it working again, the Doctor developed a newfound degree of mechanical and technological ingenuity with a touch of Time Lord science added for good measure. Three has played host to many kinds of devices, such as a Time Flow Analogue (a sensor made of various everyday accoutrements to detect whenever the Master interfered with the normal flow of time), and even resorted to overhauling entire vehicles to do incredible things, most notably his beloved yellow fixer-upper vintage roadster turned tricked-out muscle machine, Bessie (which features an anti-theft device that binds would-be thieves to the car and later includes a super drive for really fast speed driving), and the futuristic Whomobile, which doubles as a hovercar.
  • Genius Bruiser: Is the most violent classic series Doctor and tinkers with gadgets to justify the genius part.
  • Gentleman and a Scholar: What this Doctor becomes once his exile is lifted.
  • Gentleman Snarker: The most gentlemanly Doctor so far.
  • Gilded Cage: Being stuck on pre-space exploration Earth is bad enough. Worse is being Surrounded by Idiots, as the Doctor viewed UNIT as a whole.
  • Good Is Not Nice: During his first two seasons he would be incredibly rude to people for no good reason, then become the picture of politeness soon thereafter. He got more polite when his exile was lifted. Apparently, a Time Lord finally able to fly his TARDIS again after years in exile is guaranteed to improve his manner.
  • Good Old Fisticuffs: This old fella may have some snow on the roof, but there's fire in the chimney. He boxes by Queensbury rules, having taken lessons from the great John L. Sullivan himself. ("Carnival of Monsters")
  • Harmless Lady Disguise: Used once.
  • Heroic BSoD: A rarity for this Doctor, but he was actually sent into a coma during the events of "Inferno" from what he experienced. Then again, he had just seen an alternate world filled with familiar faces and redeemable people utterly destroyed by lava and proto-human zombies. This state lasted for almost an entire episode.
  • "I Am" Song: That's right, Jon Pertwee (singing as the Third Doctor) wound up recording a song that rivals most villain songs for just being pure awesome. Just try not to jam out to I am... The Doctor!
  • Iconic Item: Bessie and the Whomobile. This Doctor loved his gadgets and cars. He's also the first Doctor to make extensive use of the sonic screwdriver.
  • I Choose to Stay: After spending a good chunk of his tenure trying to fix the TARDIS so he can escape UNIT, once it's actually fixed he chooses to stay and continue the fight against alien invaders against Earth. His successor however did not share the sentiment and left as soon as possible.
  • I Hate Past Me: He and Two really rubbed each other raw. Three is embarrassed by his past self for playing the buffoon and his disheveled look, while Two seems to think his future-self is over-dressed and anal-retentive.
  • I Know Venusian Aikido: Hai!
  • I Meant to Do That: There's something very blasé about his announcing that he has gotten the TARDIS working again that suggests it's bluster covering up for the fact that the Time Lords are still pulling his strings. ("The Monster of Peladon")
  • Insufferable Genius: He was smarter than all of UNIT put together, and would frequently make this obvious, even belittling the slowness of others when he was feeling particularly Jerkass. However, most of UNIT put up with it because he really was that brilliant. However, Liz Shaw, his first companion in this incarnation and a skilled scientist herself, eventually had enough and walked, arranging Jo Grant to replace her with the indirect comment that all the Doctor needed was "Someone to pass you your test tubes, and to tell you how brilliant you are." As noted above, he is far easier to get along with once his exile is lifted.
  • Jerk with a Heart of Gold: He can be pompous, arrogant, rude, patronising and stubborn, but he's still a good guy and genuinely cares about his companions, however much he may insult them. It seems to be that he's only a jerk when he's on the clock - when not running experiments or saving the world, he's quite pleasant. But still arrogant.
  • Master Swordsman: Not shocking for this action hero, quite frankly, but the Doctor is able to out-fight the Master in "The Sea Devils" in a fencing duel. He then eats a sandwich while holding the Master at swordpoint. A sandwich that happened to be the Master's lunch. And then he throws the Master back his sword so they can have some more fun. According to the Twelfth Doctor, he learned from the best: Richard the Lionheart, Hannibal Barca and... Errol Flynn.
  • Military Maverick: There is a bitter quality to the Third Doctor as he clearly needs the protection and technology that UNIT provides. On the other hand, the Doctor finds himself trying to pull mankind up to his own level and failing, such as in "The Silurians". Trivia: The ending to this episode would be recycled for "The Christmas Invasion", cementing that the Doctor will never see eye-to-eye with UNIT.
  • Mr. Smith: "Smith. Doctor John Smith."
  • Nerves of Steel: Very few things scared him. When something does, it's a matter of O.O.C. Is Serious Business.
    The Great One: Is that fear I can feel in your mind? You are not accustomed to feeling frightened, are you Doctor? You are very wise to be afraid of me!
  • Only Sane Man: Well, this is certainly a new experience to the Doctor. Part of the charm of the UNIT era is its B-movie craziness despite being set in the "real" world of the 1970s, and the neutered Doctor's barely-masked frustration at all of the incompetence around him.
  • The Pirates Who Don't Do Anything: Averted. The other Doctors are all Science Heroes, but despite using the brains to defeat their enemies are never shown doing any scientific work. The Third Doctor is the only Doctor who is consistently shown doing experiments For Science! in his downtime instead of just running off on adventures.
  • Power Loss Makes You Strong: A madman without a box is just a madman. A Time Lord without knowledge of time is just someone calling himself a lord. No wonder he's so irritable.
    • The Second Doctor was more than willing to kill the Ice Warriors on their first appearance. In "The Curse of Peladon", the Ice Warriors surprise him by turning face, proving that even monsters, at least in some cases, are just people who haven't achieved their full historical development yet. So in that sense, being exiled to Earth was an education for him.
  • Pride Before a Fall: Three's entire arc. Best remembered for his flamboyant confidence, he nicks the wrong crystal in "The Green Death" and is killed by spiders who are still seeking it a year later. Adding insult to injury, The Great One uses her psychic powers to make him dance like a toy.
  • Quintessential British Gentleman: With a lot of "dear old chap", "my good fellow" and "topping day, what?". Also a case of Author Appeal, as he intentionally evoked the atmosphere from that other famous Sydney Newman show, The Avengers. However, Good Is Not Nice.
  • Rogues Gallery: The Nestene Consciousness, Autons, Silurians, the Master, Axos, Azal, Daleks, Ogrons, Sea Devils, Omega, B.O.S.S., Sontarans, Ice Warriors, and the Eight Legs.
  • Sharp-Dressed Man: Starts out in a black velvet cape in his first story, and soon adds velvet jackets, sleeve ruffles, ascots, leather gloves, giant rings, bowties, waistcoats and the occasional knee-high boots. (The signature giant plaid mantle overcoat, however, is still a perpetual fashion disaster.)
  • Shower Scene: Gets a long shower scene right off the bat in his first episode, then spends some time walking around in just a towel.
  • Silver Fox: Handsome for his age.
  • Speech Impediment: Had a lisp.
  • Sweet Tooth: Took at least four sugars in his tea.
  • Tap on the Head: The neck-pinching variant.
  • Took a Level in Jerkass: After the Second Doctor. He had quite a lot to be in a mood about - his exile to Earth and being put by the Time Lords into a new body he didn't want - but it's difficult to use that to justify his outright condescension to all of his coworkers, especially bellowing at Jo for being a 'stupid girl' or his occasional sexism towards Sarah Jane.
  • Took a Level in Kindness: Once he regained his usual level of control of his TARDIS, the Doctor quickly mellowed into quite a gentleman.
  • Trope Codifier: The Second Doctor codified The Doctor's character, but the Third Doctor codified The Doctor's universe. His first story formalised the concept of post-regeneration trauma and showed the first instance of a Doctor deciding on his new costume, as well as establishing that Time Lords have two hearts as part of their Bizarre Alien Biology. Under the Third Doctor's tenure, there was a greater emphasis on the Doctor acting as an agent for the Time Lords, who were shown in detail and had their history expanded on in "The Three Doctors." Gallifrey was named for the first time, his Arch-Enemy The Master and recurring villains like the Autons, Silurians, and Sontarans were introduced, and there was a greater emphasis on Technobabble and the Sonic Screwdriver to save the day. The Third Doctor's regeneration into the Fourth is also when the concept of regeneration was explicitly locked down as a means of cheating death that was unique to Time Lords - previously, it was stated to be an external process done by the TARDIS (First to Second) or enforced by the Time Lords (Second to Third).
  • Verbal Tic: A man will know that the Third Doctor likes him when he is addressed as "m'dear chap".
  • Vitriolic Best Buds: With The Brigadier and Mike Yates.
  • Waistcoat of Style: Wore them frequently.
  • Watch the Paint Job: You have to admire the vanity of a man who stops Lethbridge-Stewart from shooting at a bad guy because it might ding his car.
  • What Have We Ear?: Sometimes did this sort of magic trick for fun, and also to distract his jailer in "The Monster of Peladon", except in this case, the coin came out of his own mouth.
  • Wig, Dress, Accent: Does a passable impression of a Welsh milkman and, a few minutes later, a Welsh cleaning lady.
  • With My Hands Tied: He's as equally good at breaking free and escaping from capture as he is being captured.
  • You, Get Me Coffee: His partnerships with Jo and Sarah Jane had a rocky start.

    Comic Tropes 

Tropes associated with Polystyle Publications, Ltd.

  • Rogues Gallery: Cedric Mathews, Rudolph Steiner, Ernst Wolfgang Spiegal, Vogans, Daleks, Ugrakks, the Abbot of Mai' Sung, and the Master.

Tropes associated with Titan Comics

    Book Tropes 

Tropes associated with the Virgin Missing Adventures

  • Rogues Gallery: Auggi D'jo, Brokk, Juliu Epreto, Nancy Norton, the Pale Man, & Xarax.

Tropes associated with BBC Past Doctor Adventures

  • Rogues Gallery: Councillor Rekar, Dame Hilda Hutchens, Gaderene, Hades, Lord Roche, the Master, the Ragman, Tommy Ramsey, Verdigris, & Waro.

    Audio Tropes 

Tropes associated with Big Finish
Voiced by: Tim Treloar (2013; 2015–present)

Big Finish offers a bit more of a glimpse into the Third Doctor's psyche than the TV series did, showing strong concern for his companions on top of his usual suave way of life.

  • Abhorrent Admirer: Iris Wildthyme (as usual). Three manages to weaponise it, and manipulates her by taking her out to dinner.
  • Accidental Proposal: After Jo left him, he asked Iris to come travel with him for a while. She interpreted it as a marriage proposal. He promptly retracted the offer.
  • "Freaky Friday" Flip: Happens to him and the Master after one of his experiments goes haywire.
  • I Was Quite a Fashion Victim: Five is quite embarassed by his old collection of frilly shirts. Eleven outright calls Three "Oscar Wilde on a bad day".
  • Long Game: In order to protect Jo, he sets events in motion that would only come into play decades later.
  • Noodle Incident: Apparently, Jo and Three like to go out ballroom dancing on Saturday nights with Benton.
  • Rogues Gallery: Cybermen, Diamond Jack, Ice Warriors, Mim, the Monk, Scorchies, and the Sentinels of the New Dawn.
  • What the Hell, Hero?: Gets a grand one from Jo in "Find And Replace".

Alternative Title(s): Third Doctor


Example of: