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This page covers tropes in Doctor Who.

Tropes A to C | Tropes D to F | Tropes G To M | Tropes N to S | Tropes T to Z | YMMV


  • Gambit Pileup:
    • Common in stories involving the Master and/or the Daleks.
    • Over the decades, the entire history of Earth has started to look like one - it formed in the first place because the Racnoss needed somewhere to hide for a few millennia, and a horde of different outsiders (Scaroth, the Daemons, the Exxilons, the Osirians, the Silence) have attempted to guide human development for their own ends.
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  • Gambit Roulette
  • Gender Bender:
    • It was hinted that regeneration can do this in "The End of Time", and confirmed in "The Doctor's Wife", in which the Doctor mentioned that this has happened to another Time Lord, the Corsair, on several occasions. Confirmed on screen when series 8 arc villain Missy turns out to be The Master.
    • The general from the War Council, male during "The Day of the Doctor," regenerated to a female incarnation during "Hell Bent," said to be her original gender, during the episode.
    • The Doctor themself regenerates into a woman for their Thirteenth incarnation.
  • Genre Roulette: Borderline Genre-Busting at times. It did so even more in the era of William Hartnell, who played the First Doctor, before the series had quite settled into its format. As showrunner Steven Moffat put it: "Sometimes it's comedy, sometimes thriller, sometimes horror, sometimes children's stories, the silliest stories you've ever seen. Sometimes it's all that in the same episode." On the Nerdist podcast, Matt Smith praised the format for not being bound by "logic, time, space, or genre."
  • Genre Savvy:
    Ida: We've come this far, there's no turning back.
    Doctor: Oh, did you have to? "No turning back"? That's almost as bad as "Nothing could possibly go wrong" or "This is gonna be the best Christmas Walford's ever had."
    • The Master is Genre Savvy enough to state that he's not going to hang around telling the hero all his plans, though not enough so to just kill the heroes rather than keeping them around to gloat. The Doctor was also able to accurately predict that the Master would have to have a ticking clock as part of his plan.
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    • Amy Pond often has moments of Genre Savvy:
    Amy: Were you being extra charming and clever?
    Doctor: Yeah, how did you know?
    Amy: Lucky guess.
    • Rory Williams - from the way he worked out from his own research why the TARDIS is bigger on the inside, to the fact that he's perfectly aware that "We come in peace!" never stops the mooks from trying to kill you, Rory has always been fairly savvy about both science and sci-fi.
    • River's knowledge of the Doctor's future makes her pretty genre savvy regarding the Doctor, when they're trapped by the Weeping Angels, she says, "No pressure, but this is usually when you have a really good idea."
    • The Ninth Doctor displays this in "Boom Town", when an alien murderess he is dining with gets him to turn his back on a spurious excuse. Naturally, she uses the opportunity to spice up his drink... and when he turns back, he switches their glasses immediately.
    • In "The Shakespeare Code", William Shakespeare is also pretty savvy, rather unsurprisingly. He even figures out on his own that the Doctor is a time traveller.
    • And in "Voyage of the Damned", the entire population of London turns Genre Savvy — after two straight years of horrible disasters and alien invasions on Christmas, they evacuate the city en masse on December 25, certain that some cruel god is going to have it in for them again. Not surprisingly, they're right.
    • Also, in "The Pandorica Opens":
    Doctor: How do you think? A good wizard trapped it.
    River: I hate good wizards in fairy tales, they always turn out to be him.note 
    Rory: Every time the Doctor gets pally with someone I have this overwhelming urge to notify their next-of-kin.
    • In "Closing Time", the Doctor drops in on Craig as a social call.
    The Doctor: Just popped in to say hello.
    Craig: You don't do that. I checked the upstairs when we moved in. It's real. And next door, both sides. They're humans. Is it the fridge? Are there aliens in my fridge?
    • THE DALEKS even get Genre Savvy in "Asylum of the Daleks". They're too scared to go find out what's gotten into the titular asylum themselves, so they go pick up the Doctor, Amy, and Rory to do it for them. When the Doctor asks why they kidnapped Amy and Rory, the Daleks reply that it is well known that the Doctor requires companions. They are, as usual, instrumental in helping him succeed.
    • Rory's Genre Savviness reaches epic proportions in "The Angels Take Manhattan", in which he is able to create a paradox that will defeat the titular Angels by committing suicide...in the desperate certainty that he'll survive the attempt, because 'Don't I always?'
    • "Nightmare in Silver" has another example from the Doctor. It's not enough to stop the kid from getting himself in trouble, but points for trying.
    Doctor: Don't wander off! I mean it! Otherwise you'll wander off, and the next thing you know, somebody's gonna have to start rescuing somebody. ...sweet dreams.
    • "Time Heist":

      When the TARDIS phone gets a call, Clara insists the Doctor not answer, because "a thing" always happens. He does, and they wake up holding memory worms to their heads in a strange room with strange people.

      When discussing what's next in their plan the Doctor tells Saibra he doesn't know, but he assumes "a thing" will happens fairly soon. Then Psi and Clara find the next suitcase.
  • Godzilla Threshold: These start to pop up after the 2005 revival. And with increasing frequency. Seroiusly just go check out the Dr Who entry on the Live Action TV / Godzilla Threshold page.
  • A Good Name for a Rock Band: Many things in the Whoniverse sound like really good band names. The show itself has spawned its own genre of music: Trock or TRock (Time Lord Rock). Some of the more famous bands who take Doctor Who references as a name are surely Chameleon Circuit and The Cult of Skaro, but a whole list of Trock bands can be found here.
  • Good Old Fisticuffs: Largely averted by the Doctor, as they rarely throw a punch. Notable exceptions include Jon Pertwee, who would on occasion show off some of the judo he learned as a member of British Naval Intelligence in World War II; and Tom Baker, who decked a guy in his very first serial. William Hartnell probably did in his younger days, as he considered fisticuffs to be a "gentle art".
  • Gotta Catch Them All:
    • The six pieces of the Key to Time.
    • Subverted Trope in "Last of the Time Lords" where Martha talks about having to travel around the world to collect the four hidden pieces to a gun that could kill the Master and prevent him from regenerating. When the Master catches her and reveals that he knows her plan, she laughs at him and says, "You really believed that?" Turns out the whole thing was a bluff and her actual plan was something else altogether.
    • The eponymous Keys of Marinus.
  • Government Agency of Fiction: UNIT and Torchwood, among others.
  • Great Offscreen War / Götterdämmerung: The Time War, taking place at a scale so epic it broke space and time. Ten million Dalek ships versus the full power of the Time Lords, with things with names like "the Nightmare Child" and "the Could-Have Been King" appearing out of the crossfire. It ended with the Doctor setting fire to both worlds, and now it's just him, the Master (sometimes) and whatever Dalek remnants are still out there.
    • Subverted as of "The Day of The Doctor"; we have seen the final moments of the war.
  • The Great Repair: The plot of various episodes.
  • Guile Hero: The Doctor's primary weapon is their wits. This applies to most of their companions, too.
  • Guns Are Worthless:
    • Especially egregious during the UNIT era. Guns are utterly, hilariously, ludicrously useless against almost anything even slightly non-human UNIT encounters.
    • Played straight in "The Sontaran Stratagem" as the titular bad guys have a way of expanding the copper in bullets and causing guns to jam. Quickly and awesomely averted in "The Poison Sky" when UNIT switches to bullets without copper.
  • Half-Arc Season: The revival; the average episode is relatively stand-alone, but each series is threaded together with Arc Words and recurring themes or ideas, all of which come to a head in the finale.
  • Harmful Healing:
    • In the episode "The Empty Child", tiny nanobots get loose on Earth and start 'healing' everyone they encounter. Since they're alien in origin (and don't recognize humans), they take the first human they find as the default blueprint- it's a dead young boy with a gas-mask on! They start mutating everyone they can find into zombiefied gas-mask creatures, because they think everyone who doesn't look like that is 'sick'.
    • In "The End of Time", the Master hijacks a medical device designed to cure entire planets at once by applying a set template, similar to the nanobots in The Empty Child. He alters the device so that it applies a particularly specific template to the entire Earth: his own body.
    • Also very common for a character to try to apply a simple treatment to a species it's not designed for. Taken to extremes with the Third Doctor's first appearance, where a surgeon wants to amputate his second heart, although in that instance The Doctor simply waits until he is alone, harrumphs and walks out.
    • In the Seventh Doctor's last appearance a nurse tries to perform exploratory surgery because of his 'abnormal' heartbeat and winds up "killing" him. Worse, the anesthesia he was under at the time made the regeneration less than smooth.
    • In "The Girl Who Waited," Amy ends up stranded in a quarantine zone on a planet in the middle of a plague outbreak: the plague is harmless to humans, but the cure is lethal to them. (The plague is also lethal to the Doctor, so he can do little but wait in the TARDIS and serve as Mission Control.)
  • Have We Met Yet?: Occasionally in effect due to the Timey-Wimey Ball causing the Doctor to meet various Companions in the wrong chronological order. By the time of their Tenth and Eleventh incarnations, they often resort to simply bluffing their way through these types of situations.
    Tenth Doctor: I'm rubbish at weddings, especially my own.
  • Heinz Hybrid: By the year five billion or so, humans have spread out so far and "danced" with so many other species that the concept of a single human race no longer exists.
  • Hell Is That Noise: "EXTERMINATE!!! EXTERMINATE!!! EXTERMINATE!!!" And that's just the beginning.
  • Helmets Are Hardly Heroic: Until 2012, UNIT never wore helmets, or even body armour.
  • Heroes Love Dogs: An odd example, but K-9.
  • Heroic BSoD: The Tenth Doctor is seen to do this on a couple of occasions (most notably "The Stolen Earth") when his insane ingenuity has failed him and he can't think of anything to do—he simply stands there, motionless, his face blank and fixed. It's fairly creepy, in fact.
  • Heroic Fantasy IN SPACE!: An alternative interpretation, especially after the 2005 reboot. The new series focuses on a Space Wizard who defeats monsters with his companions as they travel through time and space. The way Time Lords and time itself are portrayed, they're really just magic. The only thing it avoids is the Two-Fisted Tales slant, replacing right-crosses and brute strength with clever wit and amazing problem-solving. And a sonic screwdriver.
  • Heroic Sacrifice:
    • The Doctor in general tends to go out with a bang: most of their regenerations were heroic sacrifices of some kind or another. Honourable mentions go to Three (walks into a radiation-drenched cave to confront the Great One), Four (unplugs a cable with an effort that throws him off a tower and incidentally saves the Universe) and possibly Eight (purposefully abandoning his identity to create a regeneration capable of ending the Time War).

      The Fifth Doctor at the end of "The Caves of Androzani", which is seen as one of the best stories. Both he and Peri are suffering from fatal poisoning, and the Doctor gives the antidote to her. He then collapses and, willed on by his past companions, regenerates into a new body in the best such sequence in the series.

      The Ninth Doctor performs a similar feat in "The Parting of the Ways", when he absorbs the energies of the spacetime vortex from his companion, Rose Tyler, so that they won't kill her. Instead, they kill him, forcing him to regenerate. Actually, this episode has lots of Heroic Sacrifices, including the one made by the Doctor's other companion, Jack Harkness. It's kind of a cool moment as he stands there and flips off his enemy before giving a "come and get me"-type gesture. He gets brought back to life, though, but also Came Back Wrong. The event made him physically incapable of death for a few billion years, at least. He has it tough after that.

      The 10th Doctor in the second part of "The End of Time". He switches places with Wilf in a box-thing which is going to fill with radiation when opened. Cue Tear Jerker as The Doctor comes out dying, and then proceeds to say goodbye to all his friends and/or companions from throughout the series. And incredibly, the Master! But then again, the viewers should have seen it coming... "Get out of the way!" Possibly justified, as it might mean "My prey. Scram." He's too pissed off to care about anything other than making the Time Lords pay dearly for what they did to him, in the sense of The Only One Allowed to Defeat You. This is the Villainous Rescue. This is the Master. And they Never Found the Body...

      It has been debated whether Time Lord sacrifices count, since they can regenerate up to 12 times; at any rate, several of the Doctor's incarnations have regarded it as death.
      The Doctor: I don't want to go... (regenerates)
    • The show has developed a very specific sub-trope of its own in which an (often unwilling) agent of the Daleks betrays them and tells them off, only to get exterminated, of course.
    • In "The Daleks' Master Plan", a desperate convict is holding Katarina hostage to hijack the ship to Kembel; he's so ignorant of Earth's history that he actually thinks the Daleks will help him. Rather than risk the Doctor risking all their necks and their chance to get word to Earth, Katarina blows the hatch.
    • In "The Krotons", Serlis charges into the machine to bring the Doctor the acid he asked for. He gets it to him, but the Krotons kill him.
    • In "Revenge of the Cybermen", one of the men carrying a booby-trapped bomb deliberately sets it off as a weapon against the Cybermen. These frees the other victims.
    • Adric's death in the episode "Earthshock". Ultimately, he failed in his goal (and achieving it would have been impossible without a major paradox being created), but he was trying to be heroic. Technically, he didn't fail completely — his actions prevented the entire population of the earth from being killed. Well, the human population, anyway.
    • In "The King's Demons", Hugh insists on taking up the king's champion's gauntlet, to protect his father from having to fight the Duel to the Death. (He is quite offended when the Doctor intervenes to save his life after he fails.)
    • In "Father's Day", after Rose destroys the timeline by saving his life, Pete Tyler allows himself to be run over by the car that was meant to kill him to restore it.
    • In "The Family of Blood", John Smith — a fake personality created by the Doctor while hiding from some villains — sacrifices himself and dies so that the Doctor can save the day.
    • Luke Rattigan in the New Season 4 episode "The Poison Sky".
    • Similarly, Jenny takes a bullet for the Doctor in "The Doctor's Daughter", causing Ten to flip out to the point where he actually threatens the killer with a gun.
    • River does this in "Forest of the Dead". Although she may be doing this to keep the timeline. If The Doctor died then he would have never met River's parents and took them on the TARDIS, thus failing in her ever being conceived.
    • "Journey's End":

      The new series has used this trope to the point where there seems to be more episodes with it than without. Davros actually calls the Doctor out on it.

      There's also Harriet Jones, Former Prime Minister (WE KNOW WHO YOU ARE!) whose personal timeline and career are destroyed by the Doctor and :still sacrifices herself to allow the Companions the time to summon the Doctor.

      It's revealed that UNIT has planned this for the entire human race: the Osterhagen Keys will trigger nuclear warheads which will blow the Earth apart — to be activated if humans are reduced to such a state by some alien invasion that it's agreed they'd be better off ending it - or, as in this case, if said aliens need the Earth for some far worse purpose, and destroying it will defeat them. As shown in "The Day of the Doctor", they have a similar situation set up in the event of the compromise of the Black Archive, which contains all the alien technology they've acquired. In this case, it's a nuke that would destroy London.
    • In the Eleventh Doctor episode "Victory of the Daleks", a group of Daleks successfully enact a plan to resurrect stronger, pure Daleks. The new Daleks' feelings toward their predecessors? "You Have Outlived Your Usefulness." The old Daleks' response: "We are ready." Those Daleks took a course of action to save their race knowing full well it would end in their deaths.
    • Rory, who takes a shot meant for the Doctor in "Cold Blood". It goes From Bad to Worse though, because his body is very near one of the Cracks in time, and it starts to erase him from existence. Even worse, Amy forgets all about him.
    • The Doctor in The Big Bang flies the Pandorica into the exploding TARDIS and is wiped from existence to bring back the universe.
    • In Heaven Sent, countless copies of the Doctor burn themselves to death to create the next iteration and fulfill the ultimate goal of escaping the Confession Dial and saving Clara.
    • In "Time Heist", Psi deliberately overloads his mind with the criminal records of hundreds of infamous bank robbers to lure the Teller away from Clara, figuring her ties to her loved ones make her life more valuable than his. Subverted when the "Shredder" he uses to avoid becoming lunch teleports him to safety instead of killing him.
  • Hidden in Plain Sight: The first Question. By which, we mean it's hidden in the series' title.
  • High Heel Hurt: Many examples. One of the more notable ones in Classic Who is Romana I, who discovers that the warnings from the Doctor to wear sensible shoes were not unfounded. She ends up taking off her heels and continuing barefoot.
  • High-Tech Hexagons: The insides of the TARDIS walls often have a hexagonal pattern on them, and the TARDIS console is hexagonal.
    • Although one toy manufacturer got it wrong and marketed a pentagonal version.
    • In the "pilot episode" version note  of "An Unearthly Child" Susan Foreman is demonstrated to be unearthly by...making an inkblot inside a hexagon.
  • Hijacked by Ganon:
    • One loses track of how many serials open with a seemingly original villain who turns out to be a pawn of the Daleks, the Cybermen, the Sontarans, or the Master. Or sometimes more than one of them (and sometimes they hijack each other). The production team would later admit that they overdid it in the eighth series (which introduced the Master), making him the primary villain in all five serials.
    • Done twice in "Frontier in Space", in which the Ogrons are quickly revealed to be working for the Master (in Roger Delgado's last story before his death), who turns out in the final episode to have been working for the Daleks.
    • In the new series, it turns out the Daleks were leading the Mighty Jagrafess into manipulating the Human Empire's population. Subsequently, they were behind the Gamestation's gathering of humans for their deadly game shows. Then the Cybermen hijacked Torchwood, the Master hijacked Harold Saxon (by being him), and the Cybermen, Daleks, Sontarans, and a few others hijacked the Pandorica. Yup, still going strong.
    • In Season 7, the Great Intelligence being behind everything would count as this. Turns out the villains in the Christmas special and the Bells of Saint John were just The Dragon to him.
  • His Own Worst Enemy: The Doctor themself, whenever they are close to being happy. In the new series they tend to self-sabotage themself.
    • The War Doctor, for the way he ended the Time War.
    • Nine, while trying to look like a confident man and even retaining his cool at the worst situations, was hiding a great deal of guilt over his actions in the Time War as seen in the Dalek episode.
    • Ten was probably the closest to the dark side of the new Doctors. Three words: "Time Lord Victorious". It was so bad that he indirectly made a female captain commit suicide, and before that he gave Fates Worse Than Death to the Family of Blood. Like Donna said, he needs people to have him grounded or his path towards darkness would be assured.
    • While the Dream Lord is a case of Enemy Within, it's also this trope given that it represents the dark side of the Doctor. The Doctor even states that the person that hates him the most isn't the Master or even the pure evil Daleks but himself.
  • Historical-Domain Character: A major part of the first three seasons with William Hartnell, and the 21st-century show. Due to Pop-Cultural Osmosis it's often believed to have been frequent throughout the series, whereas in fact no real-world historical figures appeared on-screen between the various Tombstone figures in 1966's "The Gunfighters" and George Stephenson in 1985's "The Mark of the Rani". Although the Third and Fourth Doctors in particular really liked name-dropping about the historical figures that they'd known off-screen.
  • Historical In-Joke: Hello, it's a show with time travel... In fact, this trope is so common the jokes frequently mutate into running gags, like the one about the "Virgin" Queen.
  • Historical Rap Sheet: The Doctor was involved in the destruction of Pompeii (by stopping it and then triggering it again as a tearjerking crossing of the Godzilla Threshold), was on the Titanic when it crashed into the iceberg, and was probably involved in other disasters too.
  • Holding Hands: The Doctor frequently grabs their companion's hand while running, either to lead them along or just for fun. There was a real-life reason for the Third Doctor and Jo to do this: Katy Manning (Jo) was very short-sighted without her glasses.
  • Holographic Disguise:
    • In the episode "The End of Time", the Vinvocci use a device known as a "shimmer" to disguise themselves as normal humans.
    • In "Time Heist", Saibra has a natural ability to mimic faces, bodies, and voices, but has a hologram generator to make sure her clothing looks like that of the original.
  • Home Sweet Home: The Doctor never evinces this, but it causes some companions to leave.
  • Homeworld Evacuation: A surprisingly consistent point of future history foretells the mass evacuation of Earth around the thirtieth century, to avoid solar flares. The Eleventh meets the Starship UK in "The Beast Below", but it comes up in other episodes as well. In addition the Fourth Doctor encounters a wheel-type space station full of sleepers in "The Ark In Space", which is set 20,000 years in the future implying that it happens more than once.
  • Hopeless War: The Last Great Time War ended up as one of these. Countless soldiers were being killed and revived in time loops, the crossfire was spawning cosmic horrors by the truckload, and the Time Lords were so desperate to survive that they brought back Rassilon, whose victory plan amounted to destroying the rest of the universe so they could become beings of pure thought. The Doctor had to wipe out both sides rather than let either of them "win".
  • Human Alien:
    • Excepting some physiological differences that aren't readily apparent (the two hearts thing, etc.), Gallifreyans are indistinguishable from humans, at least on the outside. The companions Adric, Nyssa, Turlough, and Astrid are neither humans nor Time Lords, but are physically indistinguishable from either.
    • Countless other alien species such as the Kaleds, Thals, Kinda, and Apalapucians are physically identical to humans. The series handwaves this in bits by saying that other planets have humans on them as well, before people from Earth boldly goes.
    • Besides - technically, humans are Time Lord aliens. "They came first."
  • Humanity Is Infectious:
    • It has been theorised that this trope has happened with the Doctor to some extent, although given that their personality changes with each regeneration it's a bit hard to pin down exactly how much humanity has rubbed off on them.
    • It has happened to individual Daleks on more than one occasion.
  • Human Outside, Alien Inside: Time Lords have two hearts with a redundant circulatory system, a low body temperature, a respiratory bypass system, an ability to regenerate from death twelve times, a lifespan of potentially hundreds of years per body, and a complete additional sensorium tuned to temporal events.
  • Humans Are the Real Monsters: Many episodes have the aliens as a benevolent force while the true villain is a human character. For example, "Demons of the Punjab" features a race of bat-like humanoid aliens with a menacing appearance and a threatening reputation on a peaceful mission; all the violence and death in the episode is caused by a bespectacled Hindu fanatic.
  • Humans Need Aliens: As much as the Doctor thinks that Humans Are Special, humanity (and reality itself for that matter) would have perished without the Doctor's intervention long ago.
  • Iconic Item: The sonic screwdriver, especially post-2005, where it commonly appears in publicity pictures.
  • Iconic Outfit: Every Doctor's uniform is iconic of that incarnation. Special mentions go to the Fourth Doctor's scarf and fedora, and the Eleventh Doctor's bowtie (which was inspired by the Second's).
  • Identical Stranger: At least two Doctors, as well as their companions Romana and Nyssa, have met identical strangers. It's a big universe, and there's only so many faces to go around. The Doctors' doppelgangers were both villains; Romana's and Nyssa's were distressed damsels, which is not necessarily an improvement.
  • I Did What I Had to Do:
    • The end of the Time War: it is established during the Ninth Doctor's run that the Doctor ended the War by killing all the Daleks and the Time Lords. He reveals in "The End of Time" that the reason he'd done so was that after years of war, the Time Lords had become just as vicious and brutal as the Daleks, and would have been an even worse threat to the universe.
    • The War Doctor is pretty much that line incarnate.
  • Idiosyncratic Episode Naming:
    • Many Dalek-centric serials (mostly in the classic series, but the revival has occasionally made nods to it) have been titled "[blank] of the Daleks".
    • The Nathan-Turner era stories used the theme of R-words like "Resurrection", "Revelation", and "Remembrance".
  • Idiot Ball: In "The Magician's Apprentice", Clara is shown to be so smart and confident that she's practically running UNIT and finding the Doctor on her own. Fast forward to part 2 ("The Witch's Familiar") and her intelligence seems to have to disappeared to the point that she's falling for the obviously evil Missy's very obvious tricks including getting pushed down a hole, scanned by a Dalek security camera, and getting trapped inside a Dalek.
  • Ignorant of Their Own Ignorance: On various occasions when arriving in new time periods and learning of a current threat (so long as nobody important saw the TARDIS materialising), the Doctor prefers to avoid awkward questions by acting as though they're a native of the local time period with expert knowledge of the current threat, with the result that quite a few people never realise they're a time-travelling alien and assume they're "just" a human scientist, some kind of traveller, or (in extreme cases) a sort of wizard.
  • Ignore The Fanservice: Invoked numerous times as the Doctor (particularly in the classic series) appears oblivious to the appeal of the sexy females they're travelling with.
    • It's most notable with the scantily-clad Leela and cleavage queen Peri Brown, both of whom were explicitly created as Ms. Fanservice characters. In the run of the original series, the Doctor only referred to one of his companions as attractive once (Romana, in "The Pirate Planet" and without her around).
    • In the revival, the trope is played straight in "Flesh and Stone" when Amy tries to seduce the Doctor but he's having none of it.
    • It's averted in "Nightmare in Silver" when the Doctor actually remarks to himself about Clara's attractive physical assets (a first for the series).
  • I Hate Past Me: In multiple Doctor stories, the Doctor has a rocky relationship with some of their former selves. In other stories where previous incarnations are mentioned, the Doctor often mentions things they disliked in their former selves.
    • In "The Three Doctors", The Third Doctor and the Second Doctor have a mutual dislike. The Third didn't look too thrilled when the First Doctor showed up either. Probably because he knew that the First was going to try to take charge.
    • In "The Twin Dilemma", the Sixth Doctor clearly states his dislike for the Fifth Doctor.
    • In "Robot", the Fourth Doctor states that his nose is an improvement from the Third.
    • Once regenerated into the Tenth Doctor, he is extremely gleeful that he "has hair", implying he may have had some resentment towards Ninth's shaved head.
    • 11th dislikes 10th's dress sense (especially his shoes), and 10th has issues with 11th's face, but both share mutual dislike for the War Doctor, primarily because they know what he's destined to do, and regret it. Ultimately, however, this aspect of the trope is reversed when 10 and 11 come to respect and have affection for the maligned War Doctor when they realize he never destroyed Gallifrey after all.
  • I Lied: "Rule One: The Doctor lies."
  • I'm Cold... So Cold...:
    • Subverted in "The Age of Steel", when a downed Cyberman whose emotional inhibitor has been removed asks "why... am... I... cold?" It's revealed she has no idea what has happened, and still thinks she's on the way to her wedding. (The trope name drop is especially apt, as this is what finally convinces the Doctor that the cybermen are no longer really alive, and therefore can be destroyed.)
    • Played with in "Twice Upon A Time". A British army captain is in a Mexican Standoff with a German soldier in a muddy crater in World War One. He says, "Cold, isn't it? It's about to get colder, I suppose, for one of us."
  • Immune to Mind Control:
    • In the episode "Time-Flight", Professor Hately is immune to the Mass Hypnosis going on by virtue of dogged skepticism.
    • In the audio drama "The Cradle of the Snake", one character is immune to the Mara, which mind-controls people by feeding on their dreams.
    That character: I never really have dreams.
    • In "Trial of a Timelord", the Master tries to hypnotise Glitz using the popular hypnotic pendulum. Unfortunately Glitz is just too focused on the monetary value of the shiny thing to be actually hypnotised by it.
    • In the new series, certain trained individuals such as the members of Torchwood or troops of the Papal Mainframe, as well as sufficiently brilliant people (William Shakespeare) and certain races (the Ood) are immune to the effects of psychic paper.
      • The episode "Flatline" states that a lack of imagination means you can't be fooled by psychic paper. Contradicting the whole "brilliant people can't be fooled by psychic paper" thing.
  • Imperiled in Pregnancy:
    • Amy is once kidnapped while pregnant because the Silence's boss thinks that her unborn child could be a Time Lord. Not to mention all of the situations she ends up getting into with the Doctor, including her husband dying. Something like ten times.
    • In the episode "Amy's Choice", one fake version of Amy is pregnant and trapped in a small town with aliens disguised as the elderly (again) ready to disintegrate everyone, but mostly her family. To get away, she drives a van into a cottage. And her husband dies. Three times. In one episode.
  • Impersonating an Officer: The Doctor's psychic paper appears to the reader as whatever form of ID they require at the time. They've done everything from a simple Bavarian Fire Drill to more involved impersonations of plainclothes law and military officers.
  • Incoming Ham:
    • Particularly in the new series, the first appearance of a Dalek in a story is almost always accompanied by the all-purpose Catchphrase "EXTERMINATE!" Variations include "HALT! STAY WHERE YOU ARE! YOU ARE A PRISONER OF THE DALEKS!"
    • In all his appearances, The Master tends to announce himself with "I am the Master, and you will obey me."
  • Indy Ploy: All of the Doctors except the Seventh tended to use this technique.
  • Informed Ability:
    • While Adric is specifically said to be a mathematical genius (and this is proven when he can perform block matrix calculations in "Castrovalva"), he's insufferably arrogant about other fields that he is rarely demonstrated to actually possess skills about, and of all the TARDIS crew travelling at the time, it is inevitably Adric who will somehow screw up the Doctor's latest plan to defeat the bad guy by doing something stupid, or will be gullible enough to be suckered into helping the villain's evil plan regardless of how transparently evil it is. For a supposedly smart person, the character doesn't come across as being particularly smart; and what makes it worse is that Adric is insufferably arrogant about skills that he is rarely demonstrated to actually possess.
    • Jamie, a piper, rarely, if ever, actually played the bagpipes.
    • The Weeping Angels are always described as being supernaturally fast, to the point where simply taking a fraction of a second to blink is enough for them to sneak up on you and kill you. However, any time we see them, people will turn away for several seconds, and they never seem to move more than a few feet at a time.
      • Possibly justified in that the Angels aren't Daleks and so don't feel the need to kill everyone they meet. It's possible they're making up their minds whether or not they want this particular victim, or whether they happen to be hungry right then. An Angel who's ravenous is likely to be far more dangerous than one who's just snacking...
      • Also of note is that the Angels are psychopaths who get a kick out of terrifying their prey.
    • In "Time Heist", the "most secure bank in the universe" apparently cannot afford cameras, regular patrols, or any kind of meaningful security other than the Teller and some intermittently placed breath-based DNA scanners.
  • In Harm's Way: The Doctor themself, and many companions.
  • Innocent Cohabitation: The Doctor and the majority of their companions.
    Jenny: So you travel together but you're not together?
    Donna: What? No, no way. [...] We're not even the same species! There's probably laws against it.
  • Inside Joke: The Third Doctor era, which promoted the organisation UNIT to a starring role, was the first TV series ever sold by the BBC to what was then the Soviet Union; In Russian, "United Nations Intelligence Taskforce" is, "Operativnaya Grupo Razvedkoy Obyeddinnyonich Natsii"; which has the acronym OGRON; in a metafictional in-joke, the scriptwriters introduced a new alien enemy for the Doctor; called Ogrons, a race of neanderthal types possessing very low intelligence, employed as mercenaries by the Daleks.
  • Insistent Terminology:
    • In the 2007 Christmas special, Bannakaffalatta, a red-skinned, spikey alien cyborg, takes it personally when the Doctor tries to call him "Banna".
    • The Doctor in general is rather insistent that they borrowed the TARDIS, not stole it. Meanwhile, the TARDIS herself insists that she stole them.
    • Steven Taylor, one of the First Doctor's Companions, would often call him "Doc". The Doctor would demand that Steven call him by his proper name.
    • Similarly, Ace refers to the Seventh Doctor as "Professor", which, like "Doc", often irked the Doctor.
    • The classic series has 26 seasons. The revival's first series, which being a continuation should have started with season 27, instead starts with series 1. Most British shows would refer to a season as a series, so why classic Doctor Who called them seasons is a mystery.
  • Instant Web Hit:
  • Internal Homage: Series 8 to Season 8 and the rest of Pertwee's tenure. Both feature the introduction/ re-introduction of The Master, who immediately becomes Big Bad for the season, he/she appears for roughly 6 stories in each season/series, while the Doctor regenerates from a clown into a straight-laced action hero. note  Capaldi is the first Doctor to use Venusian Hapkido on screen since Pertwee, A Lethbridge-Stewart standing alongside the Doctor to help recapture The Master, with The Brigadier himself coming in to save the day, and both dress in much more formal clothing.
  • Intro-Only Point of View: Both the old and the new series begin with contemporary Earth humans puzzling out the mysterious happenings triggered by the Doctor. They shift to more minor points of view. Many episodes start with the point of view of characters in the situation where the TARDIS will arrive; some do not survive the opening, and others become much less important POVs once the Doctor arrives.
  • Invisible Means Undodgeable: All of the highly advanced alien races that use visible projectiles, such as the Daleks or Cybermen, are easily avoidable. However, the Time Lords have a glove that absolutely destroys things from time. And, of course, it's both invisible and undodgeable.
  • Involuntary Shapeshifter:
    • Time Lords can "regenerate" when dying, an Emergency Transformation that revives their body with a new life (and a new actor). It is unclear whether or not the regeneration process is voluntary or if it happens automatically; in one episode, the Master voluntarily refused to regenerate, choosing to let himself die. Also, regeneration does not seem to be a particularly traumatic experience in Time Lord society, with its members casually congratulating each other on their new appearance. It's only the Doctor who seems to have a particularly tough time of it.
    • Saibra from "Time Heist" assumes the appearance of anyone she touches, for as long as they remain touching. She can choose to retain the appearance for as long she likes after they stop touching, but she can't choose not to mimic a person while they're in contact.
  • Irony:
    • It is ironic that John Simm, the man who took the role as The Master in order to impress his fanboy of a son, ended up forbidding him from watching the episodes in question due to their fearsomeness.
    • In-universe example: the Fifth Doctor's attempts to return Tegan to Heathrow Airport landed them on various alien planets or, in one case, in the right location but three hundred years early. Eventually he decided to stop trying and decided instead on a trip to the Great Exhibition in London, 1851. You have three guesses as to where they ended up, and the first two don't count.
    • For River Song, if she had not sacrificed her life to save the Doctor, she never would have met him and she would have never existed in the first place.
  • Ironic Echo: In "Into The Dalek", a comment that the Ninth Doctor made comes back to bite him.
    Ninth Doctor to a Dalek: The Daleks have failed! Now why don't you finish the job and make the Daleks extinct?! Rid the universe of your filth! Why don't you just die?!
    Reply: You would make a good Dalek.
    Twelfth Doctor: You looked inside me and you saw hatred. That's no victory. You're a good Dalek.
    Reply: I am not a good Dalek. YOU are a good Dalek.
  • I Was Quite a Fashion Victim: The Doctor has made all sorts of short-sighted fashion decisions over the years, making this a frequent theme whenever they recall their early behaviour or meet themself:
    • When the Seventh Doctor debuts in "Time and the Rani", having finally shed the Sixth Doctor's... interesting... clothing, he remarks "I'm glad to see I've returned to a sense of haute couture"
    • In the 1993 "The Power of the Daleks" audio reconstruction, with narration provided by the Fourth Doctor, he audibly cringes when recalling his decision to go around wearing the First Doctor's clothes, even though they no longer fit him:
    I looked like a clown. I will never understand why I thought this ensemble was acceptable garb for a Time Lord.
    • In some of the Official Fan-Submitted Content about the Ninth Doctor on Clive's Character Blog, the Ninth Doctor is reported to have been spotted at the dump throwing away frilly shirts, long scarves and a multicoloured coat in the name of 'a clear-out'.
    • In the charity special "Time Crash", the Tenth Doctor is delighted with Five's cricket gear, but has a harder time complimenting the stick of celery. "But fair play to you; not a lot of men can carry off a decorative vegetable."
    • In "The Day of the Doctor", the Eleventh Doctor snipes at the Tenth Doctor's "sand shoes" and even remarks negatively on his taste in TARDIS décor, saying it was his "grunge phase" and telling the War Doctor that he'll grow out of it.
    • In "Deep Breath", the Twelfth Doctor announces that he needs a new outfit with a really long scarf, then quickly changes his mind about the scarf because it'd look stupid - although not because the scarf itself looks stupid, but because the look is too young for him to pull off (the Fourth Doctor was about 750, and the Twelfth is over 2000).
    • In "Time Heist", the Twelfth Doctor allows a psychic alien to feast on his memories, telling it, "Big scarf... bow tie... embarrassing."
  • Jigsaw Puzzle Plot: Steven Moffat has likened the progression of the unfolding mysteries in his episodes and story arcs to putting together a puzzle.
  • Just Following Orders: A common thread of the villains and other conflict drivers of Steven Moffat's stories; usually some type of machine who takes its orders literally.
  • Killed Off for Real: This was originally intended for the Daleks in "The Evil of the Daleks", but their immense popularity eventually made a comeback inevitable. They've developed a very bad case of Joker Immunity since then.
    • In Series 7, Amy and Rory - they lived out their lives in the past, unable to return because of a fixed point in time. Notably, they're the first companions (one shots notwithstanding) to have this happen since Adric. Although their deaths are zigzagged - as they simply lived out their time in the past - the Doctor treats them as if they are dead to him due to timey-wimey issues he has with fixed points in time.
    • Clara Oswald. Despite events in later episodes, her death is still a historic fixed point in time and will still happen as shown on screen. She just gets to take the long way around before getting there.
  • Kill 'Em All: Usually the Doctor and their companions survive, but they have been known to depart from places where all known characters died, or there might be minor survivors in the odd corners.
  • Kill It with Fire:
    • There was at least one classic episode that showed the Daleks' ability to shoot fire from their plungers.
    • At the end of "Planet of Fire", the Doctor tried this on the Master. He got better.
    • In "Time Heist", the bank has rows of flamethrowers to incinerate any potential thieves that fail the security checks.
  • Kill the Lights: The Weeping Angels can drain power from lightbulbs. Justified since their natural defense mechanism means they can't move when being observed, so if you can't see them...
  • Kinetic Weapons Are Just Better: In many new series stories, future humans seem to have taken to modified P90s as their weapon of choice.
  • Lampshade Hanging:
    • The Brigadier said, "Just once, I wish we would encounter an alien menace that wasn't Immune to Bullets!" He got his wish in "Terror of the Zygons". A pity they didn't lampshade it then, too.
    • The Fourth Doctor gave us this little beauty in regards to suspiciously similar-looking locations: "Oh look! ROCKS!"
    • The Sixth Doctor's companion Peri said "All these corridors look the same to me" in nearly every story she appeared in, lampshading the show's public reputation as a campy runaround in corridors.
    • "Wibbly-wobbly, timey-wimey."
    • The Doctor doesn't like Sundays, but he views Saturdays as big temporal tipping points where anything can happen. Doctor Who airs on Saturdays.
    • In "Fury from the Deep", when the Doctor, Victoria, and Jamie land on Earth in England yet again, Victoria points out that they're always landing on Earth, while Jamie points out it's always in England. This happens again in the first season of the new series, which had not yet had any stories set beyond Earth and its immediate satellites - at the beginning of "The Empty Child", the Doctor says to Rose, "Know how long you can knock around space without happening to bump into Earth?" Rose responds, "Five days. Or is that just when we're out of milk?"
    • In "Pyramids of Mars", The Doctor and Sarah Jane Smith hide from evil mummies in a priest hole (A hidden chamber). The Doctor rightly points out this is an anachronism, as the house is Victorian while priest holes are a relic of Elizabethan architecture. As he's doing this while attempting to hide, he is quickly shushed by his companion. Then again, Victorian architecture does often borrow from past eras, so it's not entirely far-fetched. (This actually gets mentioned in the story.)
    • Pretty much the entirety of the episode "The Hand of Fear". They saw fit to lampshade ridiculous wardrobes, the number of times Sarah Jane has been hypnotized, AND the BBC's overuse of quarries.
    • In "Rise of the Cybermen", the Doctor and his companions find themselves in an alternate universe. Mickey immediately catches on to this, noting how it always happens in comic books. In the next episode, "The Age of Steel": Mickey and Jake are looking for the transmitter controls, and Mickey asks what it looks like. Jake responds sarcastically that it'll have a sign with "Transmitter Controls" with big red letters on it. After a cut away and a couple of scenes, it cuts back to them, standing next to a metal box with "Transmitter Controls" written on it in big red letters.
    • In the third new series Christmas special, "Voyage of the Damned", Wilfred Mott lampshades the tendency of alien invasions to happen in London on Christmas, saying that everyone left because they know London during Christmas is not safe.
    • In "The Sontaran Stratagem", one character asks how the Sontarans can tell each other apart. This is of course lampshading the use of the same costume over and over again for what is supposed to be different beings, due to budget limits. The Sontaran replies, "We say the same of humans." Of course, all the Sontarans looking the same is justified by the fact they're all clones.note 
    • Many times in the new series, various companions comment on the inordinate amount of running that goes on whilst adventuring with the Doctor, most notably in "The Doctor's Daughter".
    • In "The Unicorn and the Wasp", the Agatha Christie episode, Donna notices immediately, saying "There's a murder, a mystery, and Agatha Christie. That's like meeting Charles Dickens, and he's surrounded by ghosts, at Christmas!", which had happened in the episode "The Unquiet Dead". The Doctor, hilariously, looks guilty and goes "Well..."
    • The UNIT captain in "Planet of the Dead": "I can't believe it? Guns that work!"
    • Doctor number Eleven, on the purpose, use, and abuse of companions:
      I'm being extremely clever up here, and there's no one to stand around looking impressed. What's the point in having you all?
    • Speaking of Rory, The Silence lampshaded his Kenny-ness by calling him: "The man who dies and dies again."

      Rory himself lampshaded it first in both "The Almost People" and "Night Terrors".

      And again in "The Angels Take Manhattan". About to [commit suicide to kill the Weeping Angels, Amy asks him, "And you think you'll just come back to life?" Rory replies, "When don't I?"
    • In "Let's Kill Hitler", Rory and Amy steal a motorbike from a Nazi guard. Amy asks "Can you ride this?", to which Rory replies, "I expect so. It's that kind of day."
    • In "The Night of the Doctor", a voice in the background begins his sentence "I'm a Doctor...". The camera then cuts to him to reveal Paul McGann's Eighth Doctor, who hadn't appeared on TV for 17 years and whose appearance was completely unexpected. The Eighth Doctor subsequently finishes his sentence "...but probably not the one you were expecting."
    • In "Time Heist", the Doctor's comment on Clara's height and her showing off her shoes highlight the truly impressive heels 5'2" Jenna Coleman has had to wear to stay in frame with 6' Peter Capaldi.
  • Language Equals Thought:
    • Inverted in "A Good Man Goes to War", where it is revealed that the Doctor has influenced many worlds indirectly throughout his travels. River Song claims that many languages, including Earth-based languages like English, have the word 'Doctor', meaning 'wise man' or 'healer', while some other worlds use the word 'Doctor' to mean 'warrior' or 'conqueror'. "We got that from you!" she proclaims at one point.
    • In the same episode The Reveal is that the people of the Gamma Forest have no word for "pond", because the only water in their forest is the river.
  • Large Ham: Has its own page.
  • Laser-Guided Amnesia:
    • In "The War Games", Jamie and Zoe are returned to their respective times and have their memories altered so that they don't remember The Doctor as part of his punishment from the Time Lords.
    • In the two-part episode "The Empty Child"/"The Doctor Dances", Captain Jack cites this as being the reason he left the Time Agents: two years of his life mysteriously deleted.
    • "Journey's End" features a particularly depressing example of this — after becoming overwhelmed by a Time Lord's knowledge, Donna Noble's mind is scrubbed of every single memory of her adventures with the Doctor, undoing all of her character development and restoring her initial self-centered nature and lack of intellectual curiosity. Moreover, the Doctor explains that she must NEVER remember him, or she will die. Or rather, as shown in "The End of Time", have her head go asplody with an energy discharge that protects her, but knocks everyone else out in a half-mile radius.
    • Series 6 introduces the Silence, who have the power to make people forget about them as soon as they look away. Which means they could be anywhere and everywhere... and they are. They also leave you with a post-hypnotic suggestion. In "Day of the Moon", the Doctor manages to use their own ability to foil some of their plans by recording a video of one of the Silence saying "you should kill us on sight" and then broadcasting it during the Apollo 11 landing; everybody then starts to unconsciously kill the Silence and then forgets about it.
    • In "Asylum of the Daleks", the entire Dalek species lose their memories of The Doctor.
    • In the Christmas special, "The Snowmen", the Doctor possesses a worm which erases memory. Just touching it will erase an hour; if it bites you it can erase a lifetime.
    • "Time Heist":

      The memory worms used by the group to wipe their minds and thus hide their guilt from the Teller.

      Psi's implants allow him to do this at will. Unfortunately for him, there's no easy restore function, which cost him the memories of his family during an interrogation in order to protect them. He agreed to the heist because the bank holds a device which can restore his memory.
  • Last of Its Kind:
    • Davros, creator of the Daleks, is the last living Kaled, although don't expect much angst from him - he turned on them in order to keep his precious creations alive (not that the Daleks were particularly grateful).
    • Scaroth in "City of Death" is the last of the Jagaroth. The Doctor is of the opinion that the universe is better off without them.
    • Although it didn't come up much on the show, Nyssa was the last of the Trakenites after her planet was destroyed. along with the rest of her native galaxy, and all its neighbours. Subverted in the Big Finish Doctor Who audio drama "Primeval", where it turns out that at least one Trakenite colony survived the destruction of the Traken Union.
    • Delta of "Delta and the Bannermen" is the last survivor of her species.
    • Sutekh, the Big Bad of The Pyramids of Mars is the last of the Phaester Osirians, aliens who inspired the Egyptian pantheon of Gods.
    • Starting with the new series, the Doctor and their TARDIS. A rare heroic example of the survivor who's responsible for their people's extinction (the rest of his species were going to destroy the universe). It later turned out that the Master was still alive, but they've since died (twice).
    • The new series has also shown us the last Dalek in existence too. Several times in fact, because they keep coming back, and generally in greater and greater numbers, and thus arguably somewhat reducing the impact of them being totally wiped out.
    • Cassandra of "The End of the World" is the last human being. This has interesting subtext, as it turns out that she is only the "last" of her kind by her own racist metrics.
    • Chantho from the episode "Utopia" is the last of the Malmooths.
    • The new series also created Jenny, a clone-daughter of the Doctor in "The Doctor's Daughter". Last seen leaving for Adventure and forgotten by continuity.
    • The Star Whale which forms the engine of Starship UK in "The Beast Below" also fits the trope.
    • In "The Hungry Earth", a captured Silurian claims to be the last of her kind. The Doctor doesn't buy it.
      Alaya: I'm the last of my species.
      The Doctor: No, you're really not. Because I'm the last of my species and I know how it sits in a heart. So don't insult me!
    • The Teller from "Time Heist" is claimed by the bank it works for to be the last of its species, which forms the basis for the special terms of its contract. There's a second one chained up and kept prisoner in the bank's most secure vault, and it works for them in exchange for the imprisoned one's safety.
  • Leaning on the Fourth Wall: At the end of series 6, we hear of the "oldest question in the universe, hidden in plain sight". It is actually only hidden in plain sight for the viewers of the show, since it's the title.
  • Legacy Implosion: RTD's culling of the Time Lords managed to be much more popular and longer-lasting than the average example. It helps that Gallifrey is regarded as the dullest place in the universe by both the fans and the actual characters (hence the Doctor leaving in the first place). As of 2013, Moffat has brought back Gallifrey, albeit in a pocket dimension for the time being.
  • Let's Get Dangerous!: Companions are meant to do this.
  • Licensed Pinball Table: Released in 1992 by Williams Electronics, it involves the Master teaming up with Davros to destroy the Doctor by means of a "Time Expander". Click here for more details.
  • Lighter and Softer: The show itself has made tone shifts in a lighter direction several times.
    • The seventh season, the first with the Third Doctor working with UNIT, was quite dark at times, with some quite brutal fist- and gun-fights, a prickly relationship between the Doctor and the Brigadier, one story ending with the Doctor being disgusted by UNIT massacring a group of sentient non-humans who might have been willing to make peace, and another story featuring the Doctor failing to prevent the complete destruction of a parallel Earth. Over the next season, the tone gradually became lighter, with UNIT becoming more Mildly Military, the stories generally having happy endings, and the violence becoming more fantastic.
    • The most extreme example is seasons 15-17. Just as the show had reached the height of its dark and intelligent phase it was derailed and audiences were treated to three lighter and softer seasons that verged on comedy. As soon as Philip Hinchcliffe quit as producer, his replacement Graham Williams was called in by BBC executives and bluntly ordered to reduce the amount of graphic violence and horror, which had caused high-profile condemnations of the show by moral purity campaigners, led by the deranged and censorious "Media Watchdog" Mary Whitehouse, and the general press during the previous couple of seasons. The Williams era does have die-hard fans, but most of the child audience seemed to regret the loss of the gore and horror.
    • In Season 14, the character of the Fourth Doctor was made Lighter and Softer. The writers gave him more silly setpieces, funny lines and moments where he would be really cute, and fewer terrifying impossibly-old alien bits, debates over the morality of genocide and, well, performing outright murders and laughing about it. The writers apparently did this because they hoped it would let them get away with still inserting as much gore, horror and death as they wanted without facing as much objection from Moral Guardians fooled by the lighter tone. It worked... for a little while, anyway. A good example of a story with this tone is "The Robots of Death", which is one of the goriest and most violent stories Tom Baker ever did, but unlike the similarly violent "The Deadly Assassin", the Doctor behaves flippantly and childishly about it throughout and the villain is vanquished in a very silly way.
    • Season 23 was also the subject of executive edicts demanding that it be made lighter than the very grim and violent previous season. In this case, many fans share the belief that season 22 had got too crapsack.
    • Debatably, the Eleventh Doctor is this to the Tenth. While 'pure horror' episodes are more common, the series deals with far less serious themes, and the Doctor is portrayed as a slightly mad gentleman waltzing around the universe as opposed to a shell-shocked veteran riddled with guilt from the murder of his own species. Compare "The End of Time" special (the last episode featuring the Tenth Doctor) to "The Eleventh Hour" (the Eleventh Doctor's first appearance). The Mood Whiplash is massive, although quite well pulled-off. This approach is generally justified by the fact that the writers were aiming to make the show more popular and comprehensible to a younger audience, which it did extremely well without alienating the older fans.
    • "Time Heist" is another episode that appears to be gritty, but is in fact a happier episode than the general trend of Season 34 so far.
  • Literal Metaphor:
    • In "The Sontaran Stratagem", when describing the ATMOS GPS system while driving:
      Russ: It drives me round the bend.
    • And again in "Flesh and Stone", the Doctor tells Amy and River to "get a grip"... because the Weeping Angels are about to drain the last of the Byzantium's energy and accidentally deactivate the artificial gravity.
    • In "The Girl Who Waited", Amy disarms a Handbot — though it's really more like "dehanding" it (she chops off the hands, since they administer anaesthetics and are how the robot "sees".
    • In "Time Heist", employees of the Bank of Karabraxos whose performances are deem substandard are fired... by means of an incinerator.
  • The Load:
    • Plenty of companions qualify for this trope with the most well-known examples being Tegan, Susan and Peri. The new series has thankfully avoided this, making the companions useful while still being outshone by the Doctor.
    • With the possible exception of Adam Mitchell, who borders on The Millstone, especially in The Long Game. Note, however, that for once the Doctor dumps him as soon as his status becomes clear. Also take note that Adam was only invited because of Rose's poor judgement of his character (plus it was strongly hinted that she invited him because he was in the Doctor's words, a "bit pretty"). The Doctor wasn't so sure, and the Doctor always chooses companions whom they know without a doubt will rise to the occasion.
    • In the post 2005 series, The Doctor makes a point of refusing to allow anyone who are too small-minded or unimaginative or fearful of the unknown to join them on their adventures because they know the companion would end up being The Load or The Millstone. In fact, he nearly left Rose in the wrong timeline because she came dangerously close to being The Millstone when she tried to alter the timeline by saving her doomed father in the episode "Father's Day".
    • The Doctor even pre-judged certain characters as The Load like Mickey and Amy's fiancé, Rory. Until Mickey spent the second half of season 2 in a parallel earth as a resistance fighter, and Rory spent two thousand years as an immortal auton guarding Amy in stasis inside the Pandorica. The Doctor is surprised and proud of them both for having proved him wrong.
    • Just being around the Doctor seems to have a de-Loadifying effect. Jackie Tyler was pretty much The Load in her early appearances, not so much in the later ones. Just don't let her try to help pilot the TARDIS.
  • Loads and Loads of Characters: The core cast is the Doctor and between one and three companions. Supporting and recurring cast is... somewhat higher, especially when taking into account all the alien races in 30 seasons of show.
  • Logo Joke:
  • Lonely Together: can often we used to describe the Doctor's relationship with many of their companions.
  • Long-Runner Cast Turnover: The series of course invented The Nth Doctor in order to survive 50-plus years but also rotates though a long list of the Doctor's companions; the show's time travel premise makes it fairly easy to write old companions out and new ones in. Throughout the show's long history only a handful of companions have ever stayed beyond two full seasons, and only three Doctors have ever been around long enough to see the start of a fourth season while in the lead role.
  • Loss of Identity: Addressed at each regeneration and when he became human in "Human Nature"/"The Family of Blood".
  • Loud of War: Doctor Who has done this a time or two, with the Doctor's sonic screwdriver. Once it's plugged into a pair of speakers, he's pretty much won.
  • Love Triangle: Much to the chagrin of fans who dislike romance being introduced into the format, the series, particularly the modern era, has introduced a few scenarios of this nature. Examples include the Ninth Doctor, Rose Tyler and Jack Harkness; the Eleventh Doctor, Amy Pond and Rory Williams (even after Amy and Rory marry, though the issue is dropped once they become the Doctor's parents-in-law; and the Twelfth Doctor, Clara Oswald and Danny Pink (which becomes a subplot of Series 9). This being Doctor Who, however, an additional twist exists: "The Doctor's Wife" confirmed (after decades of speculation) that the Doctor's TARDIS is not only alive, but has feelings for the Doctor - she even says "I love you" at one point. And she expresses slight jealousy over the "strays" the Doctor brings home - while deciding at the same time that Rory is "the pretty one." So this means that, regardless if the Doctor's intentions towards their companions is platonic or romantic, a love triangle has almost always been in play because of the TARDIS.
  • Made a Slave: Used both as the nasty side of nasty societies, and to justify keeping prisoners alive.
  • Made of Explodium/Explosive Instrumentation: Everything explodes, and if there's a computer, chances are it'll explode in a shower of sparks. Even the TARDIS. Especially the TARDIS.
  • Magical Security Camera:
    • In "Planet of the Spiders", a psychic character is hooked up to device that shows his thoughts and is given the Doctor's sonic screwdriver. The device then shows footage from an earlier episode where the sonic screwdriver is used. Of course, some of the footage isn't from the point of view of the Doctor or the sonic screwdriver.
    • A later episode in the series gets around this; during "The Trial of a Time Lord" sequence, when the Sixth Doctor asks how they can show footage neither he nor his companion saw during a Whole Episode Flashback, one of the other Time Lords explains that anything within a certain range of the TARDIS could be filmed.
    • In "Forest of the Dead", while the footage that CAL sees of Donna on her TV can be chalked down to it being a computer simulation, rather than security camera footage, the closeup shot of a Vashta-infested suit's skull and the shot of the Doctor hanging on a ledge in the Library doesn't seem to match up with any visible flying cameras (which CAL is seen to use at one point).
    • Missy again in "In The Forest Of The Night", this time with an orbital shot of Earth as it is hit by the flare.
  • Male Gaze: The Doctor's companions have consistently been attractive young women, with some dressed in, shall we say, less than practical clothing. Ya'know, considering they're running around all of time and space, often with things with sharp teeth just a step behind.
    • This article covers different aspects of the issue quite well, (lovingly) using Amy Pond as an example.
  • Manchild:
    • The Fourth Doctor. Willing to go anywhere, do anything to avoid taking orders again.
    • The Eleventh Doctor plays the age card less than previous Doctors did during an argument, and seems to even forget his decrepitude at times. The War Doctor isn't amused: a senile git of a man, Eleven has retreated from his grim past into a world of childlike frivolity. This changes once he saves Gallifrey in "Day of the Doctor": He pointedly chooses to stay behind and age into an old man on Trenzalore, as if unconsciously deciding to 'grow up.'
  • Master Race:
    • The Daleks, who actually refer to themselves as "the master race" during the WWII-set Victory of the Daleks. And the Cybermen. As well as a number of less scrupulous Time Lords.
    • And the mockingly-named "Master Race" which came into being when The Master temporarily turned every human on Earth into a copy of himself.
  • Mayfly–December Friendship: The Doctor is very aware of the fact that they will outlive all their companions, which is why they tend not to revisit them once they leave.
  • Mayfly–December Romance:
    • The Doctor and Rose, Reinette, River, Clara...any of the Doctor's friends for whom the above trope doesn't apply.
    • Jack and everyone, after a certain point.
  • Meaningful Background Event: Used a lot in the new series. It will usually be something relating to the finale of that series. Series 1 had the words Bad Wolf scribbled everywhere; Series 2 had everyone and their mother mentioning Torchwood; Series 3 had posters saying Vote Saxon; Series 4 featured various TV screens briefly showing Rose screaming and so on.
  • Meaningful Name:
    • Dorothy Gale "Ace" McShane.
    • Donna Noble. She was one of the most accepting of her role as the Doctor's conscience (keeping him "noble") and after she became the Doctor-Donna, she married Shawn Temple, making her name Donna Temple-Noble, which can be roughly translated to "Woman Time Lord." Also, Donna Noble sounds like "Dona nobis pacem" which is Latin for "Grant us peace". Donna can get very loud when either upset or angry or whenever to be honest.
    • Terry Nation named several planets using this trope in his Dalek stories. Skaro is scarred by terrible wars; Aridius is a huge desert; Mechanus is the home of the Mechanoids; Desperus is a penal colony...
    • Many of the alien races encountered in the New Series are given a Meaningful Name. In "Fear Her", we meet an alien spore called the Isolus whose motivating demon is loneliness (isolation); the Carrionites in "The Shakespeare Code" were specifically designed to be like carrion creatures; the Adipose in "Partners in Crime" are made of living fat cells; the Pyrovile in "The Fires of Pompeii" thrive on the atmosphere of an erupting volcano; the Vespiform in "The Unicorn and the Wasp" takes the form of a giant wasp occasionally disguised as a human, etc.
    • Stormcage Prison, with its literal Storms and Cages.
    • "Image of the Fendahl" features a character named Dr. Fendelman, who has no idea that it is his hidden genetic destiny to aid an ancient and malevolent life force known as the Fendahl. As the Completely Useless Encyclopedia points out, it's a shame other aliens weren't so transparent, as the heroes could just go through their phone book and round up every Joe Dalekagent and Mary Autonduplicate. However, this example is a little different from the others; the name is an in-story indication that the Fendahl have been meddling with humanity for a long time, and the unusual name is noticed and commented on by characters in the story.
    • The Creature in the Pit in "The Creature from the Pit" is called Erato, which means "sexually desired" and is the name of the muse of erotic poetry in Greek mythology. In the story, Erato is a force of love and creativity. And, more prosaically, it looks like a giant cock and balls and Tom Baker's acting exploits this for all it is worth.
    • Tremas in "The Keeper of Traken"; his body is taken over by the Master, whose title is a Significant Anagram of "Tremas". The Master frequently used aliases related to his name — Reverend Magister, Mr. Seta, Colonel Masters, Sir Giles Estram — but usually he had a chance to pick them himself.
    • In "Battlefield", Brigadier Bambera was given the forename "Winifred" to evoke Guinevere. Inevitably, she ends up engaged to Ancelyn, whose name is a variation on "Lancelot".
    • In "Smith and Jones", Dr. Stoker is the first victim of what we later learn to be a blood-sucking alien called a Plasmavore. Bram Stoker is the famous author of "Dracula", and "Plasmavore" is a Meaningful Name in itself.
    • In "The Lazarus Experiment", Mad Scientist Professor Lazarus built a machine to hold back death. Lampshaded in the episode.
    • In "Utopia", there's Professor You Are Not Alone. Read: The Master.
    • In "The Sound of Drums", The Master believes the Doctor chose his name so as to associate himself with "the man who makes people better". The Master's choice of name is naturally a massive hint towards his egotism ("a psychiatrist's field day", from the same episode). This is a double subversion: "Master" at first sounds like it was chosen for the Doctor's arch-nemesis due to the academic connection, but the Master actually wants to be the master of everyone, not in a scholarly sense, but in a slavery sense.
    • In "A Good Man Goes to War", Amy Pond gives her daughter the name "Melody". Replace Melody and Pond for different terms that mean almost the same thing and switch the two around, and you get River Song
    • The Teller in "Time Heist", works at a bank, but can also "tell" what people are thinking.
    • Maebh from "In The Forest Of The Night"—named for a mythological queen of fairies, ultimately helps to establish communications with the fairy-like creatures behind the forest. Her last name, "Arden," is a reference to the famous Forest of Arden in Warwickshire, a former real-life version of The Lost Woods and most well known for being the setting of William Shakespeare's As You Like It.
    • Real world version: Clara Oswald's first name was chosen in honour of the late Elisabeth Clara Sladen, who had portrayed companion Sarah Jane Smith.
  • Meat Sack Robot: The Cybermen. The backstories vary Depending on the Writer, but in all their incarnations, they're a race of robots that "assimilate" humans and other humanoid lifeforms transforming them into full robots like them, only maintain their brains (and sometimes other "parts") to make them work.
  • Mechanistic Alien Culture: The Daleks and the Cybermen are both technically cyborg races that follow this trope; particularly the Cybermen. They both have robotic voices and overlap with Transhuman Aliens. They are both obsessed with machine-like efficiency, but the Daleks are dedicated to exterminating other species (especially humans and Time Lords), whereas the Cybermen are The Assimilator.
  • Memory Gambit:
    • The Master, known in the old series for his frequent use of the Paper-Thin Disguise (even when disguising himself wasn't necessary) makes a grand departure from his past habits and proves to have been hiding as a human, with his memories and Time-Lord nature stored in a device looking like a pocket watch. Far from having a plan to restore his memories at just the right moment, he is an old man when in "Utopia", these characters (not knowing who he is) accidentally make him curious enough about this watch to open it. What's worse than your old foe returning? Your old foe returning—and having gotten rather cunning since last time around.
    • The Doctor himself pulled the same memory gambit earlier in Season Three in "Human Nature".
    • In "Time Heist", the Doctor, Clara, Psi and Saibra have their memories voluntarily removed with memory worms in order to get into the bank.
  • Mid-Season Upgrade: Season 7B of the Revival. Not only did it introduce a new companion in the middle of the season, it also changed The Doctor's costume, the TARDIS desktop theme and the title sequence. It felt almost as much a "Jumping-On Point" as "The Eleventh Hour", with the only constant element being Matt Smith himself as the Eleventh Doctor.
  • Mind Rape:
    • The Doctor getting mind-raped:

      The Fourth Doctor gets subjected to this by Sutekh in "Pyramids of Mars". The Doctor is clearly in excruciating pain trying to resist, and yet he forces the Doctor to kneel before him, worship him and 'debase himself' without even moving in his seat. What's more, Sutekh is clearly doing it for sport, thoroughly enjoying hurting and humiliating him, and was going to 'shred his mind' before realising he could take the Doctor's TARDIS key instead. One of the more scary and disturbing moments from the show's most scary and disturbing period.

      "Resurrection of the Daleks" has the Fifth Doctor being mind-raped with his own memories. It doesn't help that his painful screams sound disturbingly sexual, if you read too much into it.

      The 11th Doctor gets mind-raped by the Old God in "The Rings of Akhaten". While technically the Doctor told Grandfather to feed off of his memories, stories and feelings, the fact that it was either do that or allow Grandfather to kill millions really means the Doctor wasn't capable of giving willful consent.
    • The Doctor mind-raping other people:

      The Fourth Doctor putting Sarah Jane into a trance, in the middle of her screaming in protest, by forcing her to gaze into his Hypnotic Eyes.

      Without making an explicit comparison to assault, Rose Tyler points out that the TARDIS Translator Microbes were messing with her head and the Doctor hadn't asked permission.

      The Doctor himself performs what is startlingly similar to a Mind Rape on Donna Noble in "Journey's End" to remove the Time Lord knowledge from her brain before it killed her. Unusually for the trope, this may have been justified by the fact that the mental invasion was necessary to save the target's life. The target was aware of this and nevertheless pleaded with the Doctor not to do it. Contrast with the Tenth Doctor episode "The Girl in the Fireplace", where he basically does a consensual version with Madame de Pompadour, for which there is some other subtext; or the episode "The Shakespeare Code", where he gives an Elizabethan mental patient a nice soothing Mind Hug.

      "Amy's Choice" has to be the Mind Rape episode of the first Matt Smith season. In a scenario cooked up by the Doctor's own mind, Amy has to cope with the destruction of her happily married life and Rory's death. Then she gets the fun choice of figuring out which of two crapsack realities is real. The kicker? Neither of them are.

      In "A Christmas Carol", the Doctor alters Kazran's past while using a video feed to show it happening to his future self. This leads to Kazran being pretty seriously messed up by the episode's halfway point, since he remembers both versions of his life up to that point, while being all too keenly aware that one version was manufactured by someone who was attempting to "rewrite" his personality.
    • Others:

      The First Doctor serial "The Sensorites" deals with a ship of humans that has been imprisoned in orbit around the Sensorites' planet, while the Sensorites torture them with telepathy whenever they feel like it for unclear reasons. Most humans aboard the ship are worn-down and stressed out from the abuse, but one in particular is mostly nonfunctional as a result of being constantly dripfed extreme psychic terror for months, his hair has gone white from stress and his fiancée mourns his old personality as if he was dead. The Doctor is not pleased. He eventually persuades the Sensorites to restore his mind, but they note that even after the treatment he'll bear permanent psychological scars.

      Dodo gets hypnotised by WOTAN in "The War Machines", necessitating the First Doctor to hypnotise her back to normal. Since Dodo quits afterwards, only giving a second-hand goodbye through Ben and Polly, some fans speculate (especially in light of the scene that went on between the Tenth Doctor and Donna) that the Doctor actually wiped her memory, or else influenced her to leave for her own perceived safety.

      Tegan's encounter with the Mara in "Kinda" has been compared to a rape scene. Remember that Doctor Who is a family programme.

      What the poor Ood go through when they're lobotomized and separated from their Hive Mind in "Planet of the Ood". They become empty shells who find Happiness in Slavery and have no personality of their own.

      Much of the episode "Midnight" fits this trope, although the episode never shows what the alien does to its victim's head. One character's physical reactions after the whole thing is over don't exactly do much to dispel the idea.

      It's revealed in "The End of Time", that the Master himself was a mind rape victim when the Time Lords retroactively planted the nonstop drumming in his head, which drove him crazy all his life, so that he could provide a way for them to escape the Time War.

      In "Time Heist", the Teller has the ability to liquefy the brain of anyone he makes eye contact with, provided he isn't interrupted. Strangely, this doesn't kill the person, even though their head deflates; it must leave enough of the brainstem intact to keep the heart and lungs going. Being around, and absorbing, so many thoughts are slowly driving the Teller insane too, giving a rare two-way version of this trope.
  • Mirror-Cracking Ugly: Donna recoils, very slowly, at the appearance of Davros; when DONNA FREAKING NOBLE recoils at something, then you know it is ugly - probably the most ugly thing in the history of all ugly things to have ever earned the title of "ugly things."
    • She's recoiled at nothing before this, not even a giant spider.
  • Mishmash Museum:
    • In "The Seeds of Death", the TARDIS lands in a museum where displays about Yuri Gagarin, Leonardo DaVinci's flying machine, and a futuristic teleporter are all in the same room. On the other hand, this museum was pretty much the work of one person, who probably did have limited funding and space.

      Though it looks like a mishmash at first, it is explained that it is in fact a single exhibit about the history of transportation - which is what early flying machine designs, the first man in space, and a teleporter have in common that results in them being displayed together.
    • In "Dalek", we see a private museum created by a multi-billionaire Collector of the Strange which includes various bits of alien technology. It's not very organized mainly because the collector has not idea what much of his collection is or what it does.
    • In "Time Heist", Karabraxos' personal vault is a disorganised collection of shiny but slightly kitschy items.
  • Moment Killer:
    • In "The End of Time", in a hearts-to-hearts between the Doctor and the Master, The Doctor almost persuaded the Master to come and travel with him through the universe. The Master is going all teary-eyed and mellow, there's a declaration of affection on the Doctor's part — and then Wilfred shouts his way into the conversation. Arg.
    • Turnabout is fairplay, though, since the Doctor themself is often guilty of this; most recently in "The Lodger", when Craig, his landlord and Hapless Nice Guy, has invited his best friend Sophie around to finally admit to her that he's in love with her. He's just about to blurt it out when cue the Doctor, having decided to rewire the house's electricity.
    • In "Time Heist", a student walks in on Clara and Danny nearly kissing. They react swiftly.
  • Monster Delay: A constant feature of the show, especially since the budgets for creating the monster were usually quite low and the final reveal not very impressive.
  • Monster of the Week:
    • This show was originally supposed to be an edutainment program... until the Daleks showed up, whereupon it careened irreversibly into Monster of the Week territory.
    • Notably, the old series was made up of serials, usually three or four parts... making it more like monster of the month. Though, the new series follows this trope straight, while also including more Story Arcs.
  • Monumental Damage:
    • "Aliens of London" involves a convoluted alien hoax plot (well, a convoluted hoax perpetrated by aliens) where they deliberately crash their spaceship into Big Ben to put the world on high alert in order to get their claws on the UK's nuclear launch codes. A bit of Genre Savvy on display by the aliens here too. The Doctor is equally Genre Savvy. "Just too perfect. I mean, hitting Big Ben, come on."
    • In "In The Forest Of The Night", Nelson's column falls, nearly hitting the Doctor and Clara.
  • Mood-Swinger: Ten and Eleven are both hyperactively manic when they're in a good mood and downright terrifying when they get angry.
  • Moral Guardians: Mary Whitehouse's campaign against the programme from 1975 and 1977 during Tom Baker's Fourth Doctor eventually succeeded in influencing the BBC to reassign then-producer Philip Hinchcliffe and order his replacement to tone down the levels of horror and violence.
    • Because of Whitehouse's objections, one cliffhanger ending was cut out of the episode's master tape. Fortunately copies survived and it got put back for the DVD.
  • Morality Chain / Morality Pet: Practically a Companion's job description, particularly in the New series, but dating back to the first time Ian and Barbara chewed out The Doctor in the first episode for trying to kill an incapacitated man. The Doctor needs a Companion to tell him "no" from time to time, otherwise he has a bad habit of forgetting where he placed his moral compass.
  • Muggle-and-Magical Love Triangle:
    • Rose between the Doctor and Mickey.
    • Revisited with Amy between the Doctor and Rory. Unlike last time, the Doctor has no romantic interest in Amy and instead tries to get Amy and Rory back together. They Do.
  • Mundanger: Although the earliest episodes alternated between science-fictional and purely historic episodes (the series started out as an educational show, you see), it soon evolved into a purely sci-fi show. The only post-'60s episode to feature a completely mundane threat was the Fifth Doctor story Black Orchid.
  • The Multiverse: The show is a bit tricky. There are alternate timeline-style universes, like the fascist universe of Inferno, or Pete's World from "Rise of the Cybermen"/"The Age of Steel"; post-the Last Great Time War, it's potentially multiverse-destabilising for a TARDIS to hop between such universes. There are also pocket dimensions linked to the main universe, such as E-Space or the Land of Fiction.
  • Murder Into Malevolence: This happens to the Doctor in "Hell Bent" after the events of "Heaven Sent." After being killed and cloned in a cycle for several billion years, the Doctor deposes the government responsible and begins to abuse time travel technology to try and prevent a friend's death in a way that threatens the entire space-time continuum.
  • Must Make Amends:
  • My Card:
    • The Doctor does this in "The Happiness Patrol" and "The Vampires of Venice" (a library card, no less) not to mention all those uses of the psychic paper.
    • Harriet Jones, Prime Minister. "Yes, we know who you are."
  • My Friends... and Zoidberg: A running gag with Donna's friend Nerys.
    Donna: This photo is just with friends. And I want all of you in it. Well, friends... and Nerys.
  • My Species Doth Protest Too Much: The Doctor is not your typical Time Lord. Zig-zagged a bit, though, particularly in the new series: in their darker moments they have shown tendencies towards the same A God Am I, Omniscient Morality License power-madness which many Time Lords exhibit, and keeping it in check seems to be a recurring struggle.
  • Mythology Gag: Numerous, considering the show is 50+ years old. A highlight is the second half of season 7 of the revived show, which managed to reference Big Finish Doctor Who in almost every episode. This served as Foreshadowing for "The Night of the Doctor", which made many of the Eighth Doctor's Big Finish Doctor Who companions canon.

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