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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

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  • Narrating the Obvious:
    • This was a common staple of classic Doctor Who since it was essentially recorded live, "as is". If there's a invokedSpecial Effects Failure, at least the companion screaming "It's gestating!" will get the point across to the audience. It also provides a handy cue to the video technician to start playing the filmed inserts.
    • During "The Chase" the protagonists are chased through time by a group of Daleks in their own time machine and make a brief stop on a sailing ship, and when the Daleks show up they fight and kill the crew before resuming the chase. The camera then pan over the now deserted ship before stopping on the name plate, which reads "Mary Celeste". That's kinda funny, right? Cut to inside the TARDIS, where Ian tells Barbara that the ship was, in fact, the Mary Celeste. Maybe the writers were afraid the audience looked away at the wrong moment.
  • Near-Miss Groin Attack: In "The Eleventh Hour", while hanging on to the out-of-control TARDIS for dear life at the beginning, the Doctor very narrowly avoids the spire of Big Ben passing between his legs.
  • Needlework Is for Old People: In one episode, the main antagonists are a group of possessed seniors. In the old folks' home where they reside, several balls of yarn can be seen.
  • Negate Your Own Sacrifice:
    • Standard modus operandi for the Doctor for obvious reasons, which frequently results in regenerations. Occasionally he gets aid from himself from another point in the timeline to bail him out.
    • All attempts at Heroic Sacrifice by Jack Harkness end this way, him being unable to die and all.
  • Nephewism: Prior to the new series, as many companions had aunts or uncles as had parents.
    • Dodo Chaplet was living with her great-aunt when she met the Doctor.
    • Tegan Jovanka was living with her Aunt Vanessa.
    • Sarah Jane Smith was raised by her Aunt Lavinia.
    • Jo Grant's doting uncle gets mentioned several times.
    • In the new series, Amy Pond was raised by her aunt prior to the Series 5 finale.
  • Never Trust a Trailer:
    • Let's just say that all the Doctor Who trailers tell us these days is the title of the episode and a few big shocks that WON'T be happening in the episode.
    • The Sci-Fi trailer for "Evolution of the Daleks" showed the Doctor standing below a hovering Dalek urging it to kill him followed immediately by a shot of someone standing in the same place, in the same position (arms spread, looking up) being blasted by the Dalek. Of course, this wasn't the Doctor but a secondary character, though you couldn't tell because of the "glowing skeleton" effect that victims of a Dalek blast get in the new series. Anyone watching the trailer would swear the Doctor was just exterminated.
    • A trailer for the 2007 episode "The Family of Blood" showed John Smith getting married and having children. In the episode itself, this was just a Last Temptation to the life he could have if he didn't turn back into his usual self.
    • The ad for "The Doctor's Daughter" puts a great deal of emphasis on a blonde girl backflipping through a row of lasers. The scene was actually a three-second filler with no real importance to the plot (except to further showcase the amazing talents of the Doctor's offspring).
      • The Australian trailer kept repeating "Father and daughter REUNITED!", even though Jenny was actually a newborn clone who took her first breaths in the episode. (May also be a misunderstanding of the fact that the Doctor's original companion was his granddaughter.)
    • Let's not even get started on "Turn Left"...
    • The BBC One trailer for "The Waters of Mars" ends with the Blatant Lie of someone knocking four times just like The Prophecy said, in the actual episode however, it was Lampshade Hanging and the Doctor stopped the villain from knocking a fourth time. The trailer repeated the first knock.
    • Suffice it to say, no one was really surprised when the ads for "The End of Time" featured Wilf ominously informing the Doctor, "The Master is going to kill you!"... and in the actual episode — guess what? — he didn't!
    • We can't even trust promo shots: almost all the photos of the Eleventh Doctor's companion Amy Pond showed her wearing a policewoman's uniform, leading many to believe that that would be her job; turns out she works as a kissogram, and the uniform was just a costume she switched into when the Doctor showed up in her house.
    • "Vincent and the Doctor":
      • The "Next Time" trailer for the episode ended with a coffin topped with sunflowers, implying it was Vincent's. In the actual episode, it's the coffin of a girl whose death by the Monster of the Week Vincent is blamed for, and who is never seen. It's also a reference to a lost van Gogh painting of the same subject matter.
      • One BBC trailer made the episode look like a Girl with a Pearl Earring-style romance with an artist being revitalized by a new muse.
    • The preview trailer for Series Six (played at the end of the 2010 Christmas Special) has two examples: a shot of three Nazis bursting into a room while one episode did take place in Nazi Germany, this scene never occurs, and a naked River Song winking at someone (presumably the Doctor). Again, no sign of that anywhere in the new series.
    • The trailers for "The Almost People" suggested that Ganger!Doctor was a villain, when in reality he was generally good and helpful throughout the entire episode, even pulling a Heroic Sacrifice at the end.
    • Series 7 trailers showed a clip from "Asylum of the Daleks" with Rory surrounded by a group of blown up Dalek shells, leading him to ask "Who killed all the Daleks?" Implying this was the end of the episode. It wasn't, it was only the halfway point. They were merely half-active and insane by Dalek standards.
    • The trailer for "The Day of the Doctor" has the War Doctor's line "Great men are forged in fire. It is the privilege of lesser men to light the flame." In this context, it makes the War Doctor sound villainous. In the episode proper, we learn he's referring to himself as the lesser man, and the Tenth and Eleventh Doctors as the great ones.
    • The "Next Episode" clip for "Death in Heaven" (the Series 8 finale) has Clara say "I am not Clara Oswald. Clara Oswald never existed!" implying a rather dark twist. She's merely trying to stall for time against the Cybermen by claiming to be the Doctor. There very much is a Clara Oswald. For that matter, Trailers Always Lie was deliberately invoked for this and its predecessor "Dark Water", making Clara look worse than she was to hide the massive plot twists of Danny Pink's death and Missy's true identity until "Dark Water"'s transmission.
    • The trailer for Series 9 prominently featured the shot of Maisie Williams removing her Knightmare mask in "The Woman Who Lived", with the Doctor knowingly exclaiming "You!", and Maisie calmly responding "What took you so long, old man?" Since the trailer was shown before anyone knew anything about her character, that scene understandably gave fans the impression that she would be playing a character from the Doctor's past, fueling speculation that Romana or Susan Foreman would be returning to the show. The trailer left out the fact that "The Woman Who Lived" is not the character's introduction. The Doctor acts like he knows her because he first meets her in "The Girl Who Died", the episode before "The Woman Who Lived"; for those who are curious, she is a Viking girl whom he saves from the grave in a way that makes her functionally immortal, and who from there must take The Slow Path.
    • The "Next Time" for "Hell Bent" showed what looked for all the world like someone being forced to regenerate. While a regeneration does take place in the episode, it happened because the Time Lord in question was shot — no one was force-regenerated. In addition, most promotional materials focused on the first 20 minutes of the episode and the Doctor's return to Gallifrey for the first time post-Time War to hide the twist that he wants to save Clara Oswald's life after she already died, which drives the remainder of the story and was not what many fans expected from the story's setup.
    • The Series 10 trailer that aired after "The Return of Doctor Mysterio" included an exchange from late in "Oxygen" where the Doctor, after being asked who he is, responds with a Badass Boast that he's the "man who will save all your lives, and you'll spend the rest of them wondering who I was." When the episode actually aired, it became clear that the shot had been edited to make the Doctor's eyes look normal, as partway through he gets blinded after having to go on a spacewalk without a helmet, leaving him with Prophet Eyes for most of the rest of the episode.
    • The trailers for "The Pyramid at the End of the World" made it look like the imminent threat of World War III was how the Monks were going to get permission to take over the Earth. It's actually misdirection — the real threat that may bring about the end of the world is the accidental creation and release of deadly bacteria from a lab.
    • The trailers for the next episode, "The Lie of the Land", focused on Bill and Nardole having to storm the castle to find the Brainwashed and Crazy Doctor, and Bill having to shoot him in the chest, which causes him to partially regenerate — all of which happens in the first half of the episode. The real climax is something different.
    • One much-circulated still for "The Woman Who Fell to Earth" shows the Doctor staring out at something in front of Yaz, Ryan, Graham and Grace. Trouble is, the Doctor's in her new costume, which in the episode she only chooses after Grace's funeral.
    • According to Russell T. Davies in Doctor Who Magazine #585, the dark and stormy sky behind the Fifteenth Doctor in the first teaser for the 2023 specials (and subsequent trailers) was invented specifically for the teaser to hide his actual location, and doesn't appear in the final scene.
  • New Body, Old Abilities: A standard norm for Time Lords' regeneration is to keep their memories and knowledge into their new bodies. Usually seen on The Doctor in which after every death he changes his body into someone old, young or even a different gender, this is also seen in other famous Time Lords as The Master and even half-Time Lord half-human persons like River Song which retain their memories and skills after the regeneration (not without suffering secondary effects).
  • Next Sunday A.D.:
    • The UNIT era either matches its airdate or is set a very vague amount of time in the future. The impossibility of nailing it all down is a running joke in the revival.
    • The "present" of the revived series jumped one year ahead of its airdate in "Aliens of London" and stayed there for some time.
    • In "In the Forest of the Night", the Doctor refers to it being 2016, although the episode aired in 2014. (However, this could just be the result of him not paying attention to what year it was, being a Time Lord and all that.)
  • Nice Job Breaking It, Hero:
    • In "The Romans", the Doctor accidentally gives Nero the idea to burn Rome. And has a Squee reaction.
    • "The Ark" contains two major ones in the same story. The Doctor arrives on board a generation ship, unwittingly exposing everyone within to the common cold. This turns into a plague due to their lack of resistance and many people die until the Doctor can engineer a cure. This would be bad enough if a TARDIS glitch didn't cause him to accidentally travel hundreds of years further in time to the future, revealing that the plague had created conditions for the humans' slave race to rebel and enslave the humans.
    • "Genesis of the Daleks", a story in which the Fourth Doctor was given the opportunity to prevent the creation of the Daleks by touching two wires together, opened multiple cans of worms in this regard:
      • Not only does he refuse, he keeps his companion Harry from doing it. Reason? What about all the good that might have been accomplished because the Daleks exist? Dare he destroy an entire race, even an evil one? Of course, years later he does just that, only now, because he waited, he's annihilating two species, the Daleks and his own. And that to stop a war that he himself could have prevented.
      • One Eleventh Doctor comic suggests that not only was the Fourth Doctor's refusal to kill the Daleks the cause of the eventual genocide he created, but actually "the first shot" in the Time War, which caused the Daleks to retaliate against the Time Lords and lead them into the war that resulted in their double genocide by the Doctor in the first place.
      • Bonus points for the Time War. The Doctor "ended it" by killing off the Daleks and the Time Lords, right? Wrong! Some Daleks have escaped and are regular villains in the new series. Fortunately for the Doctor, turns out that all of the Time Lords also survived.
    • "The Face of Evil" reveals the long-term implications of some ill-advised world-saving the Fourth Doctor did while still experiencing post-regenerative trauma and having a minimal idea who he was and what was going on. He ditched UNIT to travel in the TARDIS, rebooted a computer by giving it his own personality, and all this did was drive it mad and cause it to become an evil computer 'god' with his own face. On the bright side, this also "created" his future companion and friend Leela, a woman from the civilisation created by the mad computer.
    • The Fifth Doctor basically killed off both sides of a conflict by accident in while trying to negotiate a truce in "Warriors of the Deep", accidentally killed a damaged man who was only trying to find the woman he loved in "Black Orchid", and caused the extinction of the dinosaurs in "Earthshock". The Fifth Doctor had a lot of those...
    • In the TV movie, the Doctor is rushed to hospital after being shot, where the cardiologist on duty, Grace, begins to operate on him, despite the Doctor repeatedly trying to get her to stop due to his Bizarre Alien Biology (finally being silenced by being pumped full of anesthetics). During the operation Grace gets lost and freaks out due to the Doctor's different biology, a medical probe breaks off inside the Doctor, and he has a seizure and dies. It gets worse however, as when his regeneration finally kicks in it's botched up due to the ton of anasthetics, and the Doctor ends up wandering around the hospital confused and with amnesia. All this could have been avoided if Grace simply hadn't operated on the Doctor.
    • In "The Long Game", the Doctor thinks he's saving the world by shutting down a space station that controls an Earth-spanning propaganda regime. In "Bad Wolf", however, he returns to Satellite 5, a century later - and learns that as a result of the shutdown, Earth has become technologically and socially stagnant, and the station itself has become a clearinghouse for reality shows, secretly run by the Daleks.
    • In "Father's Day". Rose saves her father from the car that's supposed to kill him despite the Doctor warning her not to do more than SEE him physically. Cue the Reapers appearing and starting to devour everyone in sight just to heal the wound she's created. It gets worse, though. When the Doctor finds a solution that will bring everyone back and keep her father alive, he warns her not to touch her past self. Rose, of course, does this (well, her past self was thrust into her arms), ruining the Doctor's solution and getting him consumed in the process. As a result, the only way to stabilise time is for Pete Tyler to sacrifice himself ... Rare case of the hero breaking it twice in one episode.
    • It's been suggested (including in a column by Russell T. Davies) that the Doctor's self-righteous overthrowing of Prime Minister Harriet Jones after her actions in "The Christmas Invasion" directly allowed the Master to take her place, conquer the world, and rule in an unequalled reign of terror and genocide for an entire year until things managed to get sorted out. By contrast Harriet's truncated term, according to the Doctor himself, would have been "a Golden Age". Nice going, Doc. Originally, this was going to pointed out by the Master in "The Sound of Drums"/"Last of the Time Lords". However, it was decided that this sort of gloating — in addition to the abuse the Master had already heaped upon the Doctor — would be an overkill.
      • It also allowed the Prime Minister seen in Torchwood: Children of Earth to come to power. Perhaps Harriet Jones would have had stricter morals about dealing with the 456. Which also means the Doctor is responsible for causing even more pain and suffering to a friend, since it's the lack of government action that leads Ianto to die with Jack confronting the 456, and Jack to sacrifice Steven.
      • Except that the Master would probably have just killed Harriet Jones as she was in his way. If anything the Doctor doing that probably saved her life.
    • In "Tooth and Claw", the Tenth Doctor and Rose save Queen Victoria from a werewolf, but because they act like selfish, immature adrenaline junkies, she decides to found the Torchwood Institute to protect the British Empire against extraterrestrial threats. They then spend a good century robbing and murdering innocent alien passers-by, and nearly destroying the human race several times For Science!.
    • In "The Family of Blood", the Doctor masquerades as a human in 1913 rural England to evade four aliens who want to steal his longevity. Assuming they don't find him, they die of old age in a few months, right? Wrong! Of course, they do find him, and go on a rampage, killing many innocents. In the end, the Doctor re-emerges and saves the day. Victory, right? Wrong! Love interest Joan, grief-stricken at the "death" of the Doctor's manufactured human self, points out that all the death and suffering was the result of the Doctor coming in the first place. By trying to be kind to the bad guys, he ended up being cruel to the innocent bystanders. Even the Doctor seems to accept that this is true.
    • In "Utopia", Martha Jones convinces Professor Yana to open his Chameleon Arch pocket watch, which turns him back into the Master.
    • At the end of "The Waters of Mars", it's heavily implied that the Doctor broke Time itself. Or, rather, he would have if Adelaide had not made the ultimate sacrifice to set things straight.
    • In "Victory of the Daleks" the Doctor's attempt to force the Daleks to admit their true intentions culminates in him screaming "I AM THE DOCTOR, AND YOU ARE THE DALEKS!". Unfortunately, this "testimony" causes the Daleks' Progenitor device to accept that they are the Daleks (apparently it didn't recognise them as they weren't 'pure'). At this point they reveal their true identity, start killing people and make more Daleks which proceed to turn on all the lights in London during the Blitz, make an earnest attempt at blowing up the Earth and then escape to their own time period to recover and rebuild. Nice job endangering the entire universe throughout the whole of history, Doctor.
    • The supposed villains got one in "The Pandorica Opens": The Daleks, the Cybermen, the Sontarans, the Autons, the Draconians, the Atraxi, the Judoon, the Chelonians and others all band together to build a puzzle the Doctor can't resist to trap him. They do this to keep him trapped for all eternity to prevent him from causing the TARDIS from exploding and destroying all of creation. It turns out The Doctor was the only one that could have prevented said explosion, which occurs in his absence. Oops... This is why villains should never try to be Big Damn Heroes.
    • Eleven runs into this again during "A Christmas Carol". He resorts to going back in time and rewriting the entire childhood of Kazran, the only man who can save a spaceship from crashing, only for Kazran to end up exactly as bitter and jaded as he was already, just for different reasons. Then, when Kazran finally does agree to help, the all-important machine no longer recognises him as the man it's programmed to obey. And of course, the Doctor's rewrite involved an act of kindness that kind of backfired: he let Abigail out of her cryogenic prison every Christmas, not realizing that every day she left was one day closer to her death- up until she had one day of life left. When Kazran realized this, it brought about the bitterness mentioned above.
    • In "A Good Man Goes to War", the Doctor's name inspires such fear that he can end conflicts without fighting and no loss of life, which is what the doctor always wanted. Unfortunately, the enemies were so fearful of the doctor that they stole Amy and Rory's newborn daughter, Melody and raised her as a weapon to kill the Doctor. The Doctor doesn't realize he created this until River Song who is Melody Pond as an adult calls him out and points out this was his doing:
    River Song: I couldn't have prevented this.
    Doctor: You could have tried.
    River Song: And so, my love, could you.
    Doctor: You think I wanted this? I didn't create this! This... this isn't me.
    • In "Let's Kill Hitler", Hitler thanks the Doctor for saving his life. (Technically, this was Mels'/River Song's/Melody Pond's fault since she threatened the Doctor at gun-point, shot the TARDIS and caused it to crash at the wrong time. Doesn't stop the Doctor from saying this:
    The Doctor: Believe was an accident.
    • In "The Wedding of River Song", in an attempt to save the Doctor's life, River Song tries to overcome her programming to shoot the Doctor by wasting all her shots, breaking what should be a fixed point in time. As such, all of causality breaks down, and all of existence on Earth happens at once. The Doctor berates her for her willingness to hurt all of reality for him, but in an odd turn for a hero, she doesn't care. In the end, it turns out the Doctor had his own plan for getting out of it, so she really need not have bothered.
    • In "In the Forest of the Night", this nearly happens with the government engaging in deforestation. The Doctor is able to stop this by sending a message across the world.
    • Subverted as this episode was scrapped. But originally there was going to be an episode revealing that the Fifth Doctor indirectly helps create the original Mondasian Cybermen.
  • Nice Job Fixing It, Villain: The Mistress was the one who gave Clara the Doctor's number. This ultimately foiled the Great Intelligence's plot to erase the Doctor's timeline.
  • Nightmare Fuel Colouring Book:
    • Inversion: "The Empty Child" drew hundreds of pictures of houses and families, in keeping with the "Are you my mummy" theme.
    • A variant in "Fear Her", where the Monster of the Week is a possessed young girl. She has drawings of her abusive dad, and of every missing kid in town on her walls... and it's because she drew them that they're missing to begin with. It got worse when the picture of the abusive dad actually came to life. The first time it came to life was after a tense period while Rose tried to find out what was in a wardrobe. When she opened it, the picture glowed red and growled, much the same way a screamer would do in something like the Ghost Car video. The second time, it actually escaped from the wardrobe that it had been drawn on and walked towards them, intent on abusing them from beyond the grave.
    • The Eleventh Doctor's companion Amy Pond repeatedly drew images of "The Raggedy Doctor" after he first visited her as a child. It's not creepy in the usual way, but it's clear her meeting the Doctor when she was seven has left her with some... issues.
    • "In the Forest of the Night" has Maebh's exercise book full of drawings predicting the events.
  • Noah's Story Arc: In the episode "Dinosaurs on a Spaceship", the spaceship in question is an ark fleeing the Cretaceous-Paleogene extinction event.
  • No Equal-Opportunity Time Travel: Somewhat Depending on the Writer. Martha, as a black companion, gets away in odd settings with an appropriate alibi and some smooth talking from the Doctor. "Human Nature" / "The Family of Blood" is an exception: the Doctor can't help her and she encounters resistance because of her race, gender and "servant" status. It's also hinted at when the Doctor and Martha get stuck in 1969 in "Blink". Despite her medical training and presumably whatever credentials the Doctor's psychic paper could fake up, Martha's stuck working in a shop.
  • No Full Name Given: Several companions were only ever referred to by their first name on screen, leaving the expanded universe of novels and audios to fill the blanks. This includes Vicki, Polly, Adric, Mel and Ace. Vicki's last name (Pallister) and Polly's (Wright) were revealed in the novels; Adric's last name (if he had one — it's plausible that he came from an Only One Name culture) has never been revealed; Mel's last name, Bush, was initially revealed, All There in the Manual style, in a book titled The Companions written by the show's producer John Nathan-Turner; Ace's real name, Dorothy Gale McShane, was revealed in the novels.
  • No Hugging, No Kissing: The application of this trope was near standard in the original 1963-1989 where physical contact (romantic or otherwise) between the Doctor and his companions was frowned upon. After the series returned in 2005, the Doctor and his companions have been seen hugging on many occasions (with some partners more "touchy-feely" than others), and a handful of Doctors and companions have kissed romantically.
  • No Name Given: The Doctor's real name has never been revealed in any media and, despite the occasional tease, as one of the show's main tenets, it is unlikely to ever be revealed. We also never learn the real names of The Master or The Rani (although names for both are suggested in the novels). It is also assumed that the Doctor's granddaughter, Susan Foreman, uses an alias; her real name, thus, has never been revealed.
  • Noodle Incident: Has its own page.
  • No Ontological Inertia:
    • Played straight in "The Daleks". The Thals' anti-radiation drugs seem to restore the Doctor and company, who were nearly close to death from radiation poisoning, almost instantly.
    • "The Tenth Planet" ends with the planet's destruction sparking the death of all Cybermen on Earth. While it's said they were wholly dependent on power from Mondas, thus explaining why they died alongside it, not only do they drop dead almost instantly, but their organic parts, for almost no reason, disintegrate completely.
    • Played straight in "Terror of the Autons", the Master's somewhat inauspicious debut. He awakens a dormant meteorite containing the Nestene Consciousness, which animates a group of Autons (plastic automata) he created, which go on to create second-generation Autons that also come alive with the Nestene Consciousness. When the Autons take care of the first phase of the invasion, the Master uses a radio telescope to broadcast some kind of energy that allows a Nestene mothership to instantly materialize in Earth's sky. When the Doctor reverses the polarity of the telescope, not only does the mothership disappear, but every Auton falls lifelessly to the ground. Justified in that the Autons are not independently intelligent, but are directly controlled by the Nestene Consciousness.
    • Also played straight in "New Earth". The Doctor uses a vaccine to cure a zombie apocalypse, complete with their rotting flesh re-forming before our eyes.
      The Doctor: I'm the Doctor, and I cured them!
    • In "The Vampires of Venice"; when Eleven turns off the generator that begun to give Venice its own natural-disaster apocalypse, including a tidal wave started by an earthquake, within less than a second the sky clears up, the clouds move, and everything is sunshine and rainbows.
    • "The Curse of the Black Spot" features a Monster of the Week that enters our world using reflective surfaces as a gateway. At one point she does this via a crown; the Doctor responds by tossing said crown into the sea. This somehow causes the monster to vanish. The "monster" was actually a projection from a ship on the other side. Throwing the crown in the water severed the connection.
    • In "In the Forest of the Night", after the flare, all the trees just melt away into fairy dust.
  • No Periods, Period: Despite constantly dragging young women along on his travels, the Doctor never has to deal with this particular obstacle. (Although the narrative hinted at the issue during Amy's pregnancy arc.)
    • Zigzagged with Clara who was the first ongoing companion to not actually reside within the TARDIS; it is established that after her adventures, the Doctor takes her home and her day-to-day life, so the likelihood is high they were able to avoid dealing with this issue.
  • No Plans, No Prototype, No Backup: This is very much the case with the Time Lords, who seem to be Abusing the Kardashev Scale for Fun and Profit. Many of their universe-shaking gadgets are treated as singular artifacts and nobody every seems to consider reproducing any of these things, or modifying them if necessary. Case in point; in the 50th anniversary special "The Day of the Doctor", the plot revolves around the Doctor's intention to use a Lost Superweapon, the Moment, to end the Time War by destroying all of the combatants. The Time Lords had not previously dusted it off and used it on the Daleks because its designers gave a sentient, telepathic user interface with the right to pass judgment on anyone that actually used it. They were afraid of what judgment it would render on them. Simply building another one without the artificial intelligence failsafe is not an idea that seems to have occurred to anyone. Even Emperor Scientist Rassilon is more inclined to just destroy the universe and have the Time Lords Ascend to a Higher Plane of Existence rather than explore this possibility. He himself is notorious for inventing unbelievable technology and leaving absolutely no schematics behind that would allow anyone else to duplicate his inventions.
  • Non Sequitur Environment: Has this in play whenever the Doctor ushers someone into the TARDIS for the first time; in fact, it's not uncommon for first-time travellers to actually leave the TARDIS and circle it for a while, clearly trying to work out how an ordinary police box somehow opens onto the interior of an alien ship. Expect the words "It's Bigger on the Inside" to be used at some point.
  • Not Afraid of Hell: In "Heaven Sent", when the Doctor is trapped in a bizarre prison, he thinks it may be Hell.
    The Doctor: That's okay, I'm not scared of Hell — it's just Heaven for bad people.
  • Not So Harmless Punishment:
    • At the beginning of the "Key To Time" arc, the Doctor asks what will happen to him if he refuses the White Guardian's order to find the parts of the Key, and is surprised by the answer of 'nothing'. The Guardian placidly clarifies "Nothing at all. Ever."
    • In "The Happiness Patrol" arc, standard punishments are doled out by the Kandy Man, who loves "happy" and typically sweet-themed executions, like having molten-hot sugar poured down your throat until you either suffocate or are boiled alive.
    • In "Time Heist", employees who disappoint Madame Karabraxos are "fired", by which she means they are thrown into the incinerator.
  • Not Where They Thought: In "The Three Doctors", UNIT headquarters gets teleported into the Anti-Matter dimension. For some reason, the Brigadier thinks they are in Cromer, a coastal town in Norfolk. The Cromer reference would become a Continuity Nod/Brick Joke decades later in "Twice Upon a Time".
  • Novelization: The absolute poster child for this trope. Between 1964 and 1994 virtually every storyline (save for a half dozen) was adapted in novel form - more than 150 books in total. In the era before DVD, and with many early stories lost, these books, mostly published by Target Books, became the only way fans could relive, or experience for the first time, many classic era stories. Additional novelizations have been published as rights have become available in recent years (i.e. Shada and City of Death). However, except for a few spin-off tie-ins, to date no novelizations have been published for any of the TV episodes produced since 2005, although there has been occasional whispers of one-offs being considered (Neil Gaiman, for example, explored the possibility of novelizing his 2011 story, "The Doctor's Wife"). As of March 2017, only two Classic Era storylines remain to be adapted as literature: "Resurrection of the Daleks" and "Revelation of the Daleks", both originally written by 1982-6 script editor Eric Saward.
  • The Nth Doctor: The trope-namer. When the first actor to play the role of the Doctor had to leave the series due (in part) to health issues, a new actor was cast. Instead of going invokedThe Other Darrin route or creating a brand-new character as replacement, the Doctor's ability to change his appearance and personality when near death (a trait later extended to his entire race) was established, allowing the series to recast the role periodically; this is considered a prime factor in the series' longevity.
    • Other Time Lord characters, such as Romana, The Master, Borusa, Rassilon and River Song have also been played by different actors as explained by the trope.
    • Applied on at least one occasion with a human companion. When actor Frazer Hines became ill while filming "The Mind Robber", a plotline was introduced in which his character, Jamie, temporarily had his appearance changed (a relative of Hines' stepped in for the episode).
    • Averted (sort of) in "Journey's End" the Doctor is able to abort a regeneration just before his appearance would have changed. It still counts as one of his twelve regenerations, though.
    • Averted also in "The Doctor's Daughter", when Jenny appears to regenerate but does not change.
    • Technically applies to Clara Oswald as we meet numerous "incarnations" of the woman, though this is not due to regeneration.

  • Obscured Special Effects: Used often to cover up the numerous low-budget special effects. The most pervasive examples are the Sontarans and the Judoon: they have large heads, but the vast majority of them are shown wearing big helmets that imply the presence of the head while only a small handful are actually shown without the helmet, conserving the money needed to apply the elaborate makeup.
    • Modern-day Silurians nearly all wear face masks to hide the need for elaborate facial makeup - and because all female Silurians are supposed to look like the same actress.
  • Octopoid Aliens: The Daleks. The outer shells are essentially life-support/transportation devices, but on the comparatively rare occasions the actual Dalek creatures inside them are shown, they are very cephalopod-like.
    • There's also Kroll in the Antagonist Title based serial "The Power of Kroll". Except he's a Kaiju sized one.
  • Off Screen Moment Of Awesome: Many, many episodes make reference to unchronicled adventures by the Doctor where he met some famous person or took part in some act of daring that's left to the imagination. Series 9 (2015) made this part of the format as many episodes begin with the Doctor and Clara Oswald ending an adventure that we, the viewers, only learn a little bit about, with more adventures referenced in dialogue.
  • Off-the-Shelf FX:
    • Off-the-shelf Louis Marx toy Daleks are used for model-shot scenes of Dalek armies in "The Evil of the Daleks" and "Planet of the Daleks". The off-the-shelf toys can easily be recognised by their simplistic conical shape, which makes the "heads" proportionately much too small in relation to the "bodies". During the 1960s, the show also occasionally padded out Dalek crowd scenes with what were quite obviously cardboard cutouts (at least, with modern picture quality; at the time, they were much harder to discern).
    • In "The Sea Devils", they could get stock footage of a nuclear submarine on the surface, but not underwater. The underwater shots were, as described in the DVD commentary, a model sub bought from Woolworth's. Hilariously, however, this little submarine wound up causing an insane amount of trouble for the producers. As it turns out, the submarine they used was kitbashed with a rotor from a vacuum cleaner to make a 22-propeller sub. And the UK at that time had just turned out 22-propeller subs. Which was a state secret. And the footage was at first convincing enough to make the Navy believe that footage had been given out. You can see how this led to problems.
    • In "Planet of the Daleks", the Dalek Supreme is an oddity among most classic Daleks because it has a lighting up eyepiece and closely resembles the revival era design. However, a closer look at that aforementioned eyepiece reveals it to be a dolled up torch wedged into a tube.
    • "Robot" depicted a battle between a man in a robot suit and a toy tank from the Action Man range. Two Action Man dolls were also used to show the robot grabbing soldiers after it turned gigantic.
    • The Sixth Doctor's gun in "Trial of a Time Lord" is a heavily modified garden hose nozzle. It works better than you'd expect.
    • In "Remembrance of the Daleks", the alleged "time controller" is an off-the-shelf plasma ball. Even then, such devices were reasonably common in techno-gift shops, and the obviousness of its origins made silly- and cheap- what would have appeared an impressive and credible prop a few years prior.
    • The 1996 TV movie used a commercially licensed TARDIS key replica for the TARDIS key prop.
    • During the production of the Series 1 of the revival, the original sonic screwdriver prop was replaced with a licensed replica because the licensed version looked just as good and was more durable.
    • More recently, "The Runaway Bride" had the villains using a remote control - which was essentially a modified Nintendo 64 controller.
    • The revived series was criticised for using what were quite obviously Apple Mac keyboards in "Silence in the Library"/"Forest of the Dead", set in the 52nd century.
    • In "A Christmas Carol", the communicator the Doctor uses to speak to Amy is clearly a book light like this painted bronze.
    • "The Day of the Doctor":

      The Dalek model shots in the Time War sections (particularly the one crushed by the landing TARDIS) are the large remote control Dalek toys that were sold in the late 2000s.
    • A few more of those remote control Daleks get blown up in "Into the Dalek".

      Osgood's Fourth Doctor-style scarf is a commercially available replica scarf — easily identified by the fact that it's stocking stitch (the v-shaped weave used in most knitwear) and not garter stitch (a stitch with pronounced ribs common in beginner knitting projects) like the genuine article. The colours are also much more vibrant and loud.
    • In "Time Heist", Psi's hologram projector is a USB plug with an LED. It also works as an actual plug.
    • The miniature of the city on Skaro has a few obvious visible toothpaste lids left in.
  • Oh, Crap!: Also has its own page.
  • Old Hero, New Pals: Every series features the Doctor (although sometimes with a different face), but his companions change frequently.
  • Old, New, Borrowed and Blue: Used to awesome effect in "The Big Bang" to remember the TARDIS and the Doctor and bring them back into existence. The TARDIS is all four of these at once.
  • Ominous Clouds: "Death In Heaven". Numerous Cybermen launch from St. Peter's Cathedral, transforming into a menacing black cloud that will rain "cyber-pollen" onto the graves of the world, transforming the dead into Cybermen.
  • Ominous Cube: Series 5 featured the Pandorica, a giant, cube-shaped, "perfect prison" built specifically to contain the Doctor.
    • The world is COVERED in them in Doctor Who S33 E4 "The Power of Three", and they're ... odd, and a trend, and a collector's item, and then they turn out to have Adaptive Ability. Turns out they're a batch of probes to find out about planets' abilities and capabilities.
  • Ominous Knocking:
    • This trope features heavily for the final days of the Tenth Doctor, and a prophecy that "He will knock four times". This comes to a head in his final episode, "The End of Time", where this "he" turns out to be Wilfred Mott, knocking from within radiation capsule and asking to be let out... which the Doctor can only do by entering one himself.
    • In "Hide", sinister knocking sounds are cited as one of the signs that Caliburn House is haunted. The knocking turns out to come from the Doctor himself as he tries to navigate the house within a parallel universe that is displaced in time.
  • Ominous Latin Chanting:
    • Murray Gold's Dalek theme (actually in Hebrew).
    • The Ood songs.
  • Omniscient Morality Licence: The Doctor frequently acts like he owns one — results depending on both writer and era.
  • Once a Season:
    • During the 1960s, each regular character (Doctor or companion) would have at least one episode per season (sometimes two) in which they either did not appear at all (with the character written out for the week as being imprisoned, unconscious, etc.), or appeared only in brief, pre-filmed inserts. Due to the nearly year-round production schedule in place between 1963 and 1969, this was to allow the actors to take a holiday. When the series moved into the colour era, year-round production discontinued and such absences were no longer necessary. Due to a production anomaly, there is actually one episode in 1965 ("Mission to the Unknown") in which neither the Doctor nor any of his companions appear at all.
    • The revival series allegedly has to use the Daleks at least once per season as part of the contract used in getting them.
    • The revival series also usually has an episode each season where the Doctor (and usually their companion) plays a minimal role. These are known as "Doctor-lite" episodes. Through clever editing, a number of so-called "Doctor-lite" episodes still allow the character to appear throughout a story. The most recent Doctor-lite episode was Series 8's "Flatline"; in Series 9 there were two "companion-lite" episodes, instead. Doctor/Companion-lite episodes are often employed when the production schedule requires two episodes to be filmed at the same time, or to allow an actor time off to do another project.
  • One Cast Member per Cover: The 11-CD edition of the 50th anniversary soundtrack compilation dedicates each disc to music and sound effects from one of the eleven mainline Doctors' eras. Appropriately, the sleeve and label for each disc features a silhouette of the Doctor that it corresponds to.
  • One Myth to Explain Them All: A lot of myths and legends turn out to be aliens, usually with the Doctor saving the day.
    River: I hate good wizards in fairy tales. They all turn out to be him.
  • One-Steve Limit: Not rigidly adhered to; in a series this long-running, some names inevitably repeat. The number of unrelated characters with the last names "Smith" note , or "Jones" note  seems to be on the excessive side. Russell T. Davies is from Swansea, and he liked his Welsh family names.
  • Only Known by Their Nickname:
    • Ace mentions her actual given name once in her introductory story, but before and after that is only ever referenced by her nickname on screen. It wasn't until later novels that her full name is revealed, and even then there was inconsistency.
    • Technically speaking, this applies to both The Doctor and The Master. Judging by the Rani, the Monk, the War Chief and the Corsair, this trope seems to be standard practice for renegade Time Lords.
    • Not to mention any number of lesser villains and Obstructive Bureaucrat-types who are only ever addressed by their titles.
  • Ontological Mystery:
    • "Bad Wolf" begins with the Doctor waking up in a futuristic Big Brother house, exactly as confused as the audience. Rose and Jack wake up in similar predicaments.
    • "Amy's Choice". The Doctor, Amy, and Rory find themselves being transported between two realities, forced by the Dream Lord to choose which is real and which is a dream. When the Doctor realizes that the Dream Lord is a manifestation of his own dark side and can manipulate events in both worlds, he correctly concludes that both scenarios are dreams.
    • "The God Complex" with a nightmarish hotel that has a room for everyone. The Doctor even lampshades it.
      The Doctor: Big day for a fan of walls!
    • "Time Heist" begins with the Doctor answering the phone and then suddenly he, Clara, and two people they have never met before are in the most impregnable bank in the galaxy, having agreed to rob it on behalf of a mysterious benefactor, recorded a message to themselves explaining that they have accepted this mission, and then erased their own memories of doing so. Half the episode is them carrying out the heist, the other half is trying to figure out who orchestrated this whole thing and how they seem to have infiltrated the bank already yet still need help robbing it.
  • Opening Narration: To date this has only been done for the North American broadcasts of Series 5, which appended a pre-credits sequence in which Amy Pond gives a jaded, yet enchanted take of "The Eleventh Hour". This sequence was dropped after Series 5 and they never bothered including it on the DVDs for the benefit of UK viewers who never saw it.
  • Orange/Blue Contrast: Present in all episodes of the 2005 revival (except maybe Series One, which prefers green and purple as the contrasting colours), especially in Moffat's episodes, most of which employ a heavy dose of blue. This also contrasts with Russell T. Davies, whose episodes tend to favour orange.
  • Otherworldly Visits Youngest First: Series 5; Amelia Pond as a young girl is the first person to encounter the latest incarnation of The Doctor (MattSmith's very quirky Eleven). She spent the next twelve years, and four psychiatrists (she kept biting them) with people trying to convince her it was all just a dream that she had. But she's vindicated when The Doctor reenters her life (for him it was a five minute jump). In short order, all of Leadworth learns that The Doctor is very real.
  • Our Time Travel Is Different: Confusing, as there is no definite description of how time changes work.
    • Very early on in the classic series run the "rules" of time travel transitioned from "you can't change history... not one line" in the Season 1 story "The Aztecs" to manipulation of history being the plot of the Season 2 story "The Time Meddler".
    • Certain moments in time are "fixed" and "part of events" so they cannot be changed, others can be. Specifically, these events can technically be changed, but doing so may create a wound in time and allow Clock Roaches (canonically called Reapers, referred to simply as "them" by the Doctor) to show up and sterilise the wound. In other cases, contradicting a fixed point could cause all of history to collapse in on itself, and eventually cease to have ever existed.
    • Also, the Doctor and other Time Lords cannot travel back in time to affect his own timeline. This explains why he can't simply just travel back thirty minutes and undo the mistakes he made. In the classic series, this was (vaguely) described as the "Blinovitch Limitation Effect".
    • If a paradox is created monstrous Clock Roaches show up to "cauterize" the wound as seen in "Father's Day". It could only apply to certain types of paradox. Or sometimes there is a big explosion as seen in "Mawdryn Undead".
    • Paradoxes may be subverted by using a 'Paradox Machine', basically a retrofitted TARDIS as per "The Sound of Drums" and "Last of the Time Lords".
    • The franchise generally handwaves away inconsistencies by reminding viewers that the Doctor, being a Time Lord, has special knowledge mere humans do not. Therefore even though it might seem that he's contradicting himself, he senses that this is a "special case" or he is able to recognize when time is deviating from fixed points. Prime recent examples of this would be the Dalek invasion and relocation of Earth in the "The Stolen Earth" / "Journey's End" two-parter, which in "The Waters of Mars" is revealed to have become a fixed point event impacting human exploration of space (among other things), yet the Doctor becomes totally involved. On the other hand, the franchise has never given any indication that the Doctor had anything to do with the humanity-impacting "Miracle Day" event seen in the Torchwood arc of the same title.
  • Our Vampires Are Different: "State of Decay", "The Curse of Fenric", "Smith and Jones" and "The Vampires of Venice" each featured different variations on the standard bloodsuckers.
  • Our Werewolves Are Different: The series has also had several different versions of the werewolf. The creature in "Tooth and Claw" is identical to your standard pop culture werewolf...except that, like almost all monsters on the show, it's actually an alien. The werewolf in "The Greatest Show in the Galaxy" and the werewolf-like creature in "Planet of Evil" diverge more from the template; of course, they're both aliens as well.
  • Our Zombies Are Different:
  • Out of Continues: Time Lords can regenerate twelve times, meaning they have a maximum of thirteen incarnations. Of course, the Master proved there are ways around this limitation. And come "The Time of the Doctor", the Doctor has found a way around it too.

  • Pacifism Is Cowardice:
    • In "The Daleks", Ian derides the pacifistic Thals (who have sworn off violence due to their world almost being devastated by war) as "cowards" for not wanting to help the Doctor's group against the Daleks.
    • It is noted quite often by several characters (including the Doctor himself) that the Doctor relying on his brains instead of fists and guns to deal with the Monster of the Week are cowardly. By the time of the Doctor's eleventh incarnation, he had even started to lament the fact that he preferred to guide his companions as agents to do the dirty work that he himself didn't have the guts to do (and this same self-belief is also the reason why he created the War Doctor as a "warrior" persona).
  • Painful Transformation:
    • Regeneration is almost always depicted as a draining, traumatic experience - the violent circumstances of nearly all the Doctor's cases can't help. Nor can the fact that they're invariably flung into another adventure straight off the mark.
    • It is also implied that the Doctor is not very good at it among Time Lords in general. Romana, for example, was able to "try on" several different appearances before settling on that of Princess Astra when she regenerated in a relatively effortless fashion. In "The Night of the Doctor" the Sisterhood of Karn was able to use the Elixir of Life to help the Doctor direct his regeneration.
  • Papa Wolf:
    • When finding Sarah strapped to a rock and tortured in "The Sontaran Experiment", the Doctor utterly blows his tactical righteous cool and starts swearing and trying to beat up the Sontaran leader. This does not go well for him, which he would've known if he weren't blinded by rage.
    • The cliffhanger to Episode 3 of "The Caves of Androzani" is exhibit A.
    • Also "Because NOW, THERE IS NO FORCE ON THIS EARTH THAT CAN STOP ME" when Rose's face/consciousness is stolen in "The Idiot's Lantern". I think it's fairly safe to say that you just don't mess with the Doctor's companions. Ever.
    • About 5-10 minutes or so after the Doctor finally accepts Jenny (his female clone) as his daughter, in "The Doctor's Daughter", she takes a bullet for him and winds up dying in his arms. The next minute is one of the only times in the series where we see the Doctor holding someone at gunpoint.
    • "Forest of the Dead": "You just killed someone I liked, and that is not a safe place to stand. I'm The Doctor and you're in the biggest library in the universe. Look me up."
    • The Eleventh Doctor acts as a Papa Wolf for all of humanity to the Atraxi with a little history lesson in "The Eleventh Hour". Safe to say, his speech solidified Matt Smith as The Doctor for those who weren't already convinced.
      Atraxi: You are not of this world.
      The Doctor: No, but I've put a lot of work into it.
      The Doctor: Okay! One more, just one more... is this world protected?
      *cue montage of aliens who have attacked or threatened humanity*
      The Doctor: But you're not the first lot to have come here. Oh, there have been so many! And what you've got to ask is... what happened to them?
      *cue montage of the previous incarnations of the Doctor, ending with Eleven stepping through the image of Ten*
      The Doctor: Hello. I'm the Doctor. Basically... invokedrun.
    • In "Amy's Choice", the Dream Lord remarks on the Doctor's tendency to swell in masterful fury when someone he cares about is threatened.
    • In "The Doctor's Wife", he is tricked into coming to House's asteroid by the dead message-boxes from Time Lords, causing him to despair that once again he's the Last of His Kind... and if that wasn't enough of an insult, all because this was a trick to distract him so that House could attempt to consume his TARDIS.
    Doctor: You gave me hope and then you took it all away, thats enough to make anyone dangerous! God only knows what it will do to me! Basically... RUN!
    • In "A Good Man Goes to War", the Doctor gathers a literal army to rescue Amy and her daughter. But this is outshone by Amy's husband Rory, who dons Roman centurion armour and a sword and fights his way through an entire Cyberman starship just to ask them a question:
    • In "Closing Time", Craig, previously shown to be an ineffectual loser who needed the Doctor's help to even ask a girl out, manages to resist being converted into a Cyberman and blows the Cybermen's emotional inhibitors when he hears his son crying.
    • In "In the Forest of the Night", Danny is repeatedly shown to be quite protective about his students, a trait that Clara values.
    • In "Face the Raven", the Doctor threatens to rain hell upon Ashildr and her people "until the end of time" if she can't stop Clara from dying. Clara literally has to spend her remaining minutes talking him down. She is successful in getting a reprieve for Ashildr, but the Doctor goes on to nearly become Woobie, Destroyer of Worlds to try and undo her death later.
  • Parent Service: A lot of it, referred to as "for the dads", although both male and female Fanservice occurs.
  • Percussive Maintenance: Thumping things often gets them working again... including the TARDIS. In the revived series, the Doctor has a mallet hanging from the console on a piece of twine for just that. The mallet pulls double duty as a Chekhov's Gun when Donna uses it to cold-cock a Sontaran.
  • Phony Newscast: Common, often using real BBC newsreaders, in the present-day episodes in the Davies era of the show. Used from time to time in the old series, too (most notably in the Jon Pertwee era), but rarely used once in the Moffat era.
    • During the Davies era, a fictional American newscaster named Trinity Wells was nearly always featured whenever a US newscast needed to be depicted.
  • Pinball Protagonist: While he is generally a major player in most stories, this has been known to happen with The Doctor on occasion. The companions sometimes get this too, even in A Day in the Limelight:
    • "The Massacre of St Bartholomew's Eve" has the Doctor go missing early on, leaving his companion Steven stranded in sixteenth-century Paris. Steven spends the story as main protagonist, but he completely fails to change events in the slightest, and has no real idea what is going on. He only just finds the Doctor in time to escape Paris and avoid the impending atrocity.
    • "The Celestial Toymaker" involves the crew being trapped in a parallel dimension run by a godlike immortal who just wants to play Deadly Games with them, and demonstrates his power by phasing the Doctor out of existence and forcing him to play "the Trilogic Game". This means that the Doctor spends the whole plot able to do little other than argue with the Toymaker in ADRed lines, and even Steven and Dodo have no real agency except to win the games the Toymaker set out for them until the Toymaker just gives them the TARDIS back.
    • "The Tenth Planet" plays with this trope in an interesting way. The Doctor has only very few lines in the story because William Hartnell's health was failing, and even spends a whole middle episode asleep (apparently for no reason); and his plan for dealing with the evil planet draining the Earth's energy is incredibly passive - simply to wait for it to die, which he says it will do in a couple of hours. Unfortunately, his expansive apparent knowledge followed by his sudden absence ramps up the paranoia among the humans to fever pitch to the point where everyone turns against him and the General even accuses him of killing his son. Even after his prediction turns out to be right and the planet dies, it's a hollow victory, as the Doctor's unconsciousness is revealed to be a Chekhov's Gun foreshadowing a major plot twist.
    • Infamously in the case of "Revelation of the Daleks", where it takes over half the story for the Doctor to even meet anyone involved in the main plot and, believe it or not, the Daleks save the day by swooping in and carrying Davros off as a prisoner. Orcini completes the job by blowing up Davros' new Dalek army, something he could have done without the Doctor's assistance, and the Doctor's sole contribution is to prevent collateral damage by helping evacuate the area first.
    • Sylvester McCoy's Doctor was, with some justification, accused of "wandering through a series of encounters in which he plays no essential part"note . The writers appeared to take this the heart, turning him into the Chess Master in his later stories.
    • One criticism levelled at "Planet of the Ood" is the fact that it ends with the Ood thanking the Doctor and Donna for saving them when they've spent most of the episode wandering around doing nothing after blundering into two plans set in motion before their arrival (Ood Sigma dosing Halpen's hair tonic to turn him into an Ood and Ryder powering down the restraining field around the Ood brain in order to restore their free will). The Doctor does deactivate the explosives Halpen had set up to destroy the Ood brain but he's a very minor player in events.
    • "Asylum of the Daleks" mostly has Oswin moving the plot along, while the Daleks set up events and the Doctor concludes them. Rory is used as the viewpoint character for much of the episode and doesn't influence events at all beyond being a prop through which Oswin can interact with the plot. Amy, meanwhile, is only there for some rather contrived Cannot Spit It Out romantic drama, and has even less to do with anything that happens.
    • In "In the Forest of the Night", the Doctor, Clara, Danny and the children have little effect on the overall course of events except for broadcasting a plea not to defoliate the trees. The only significant plot relevance for the Doctor, Clara and Danny was to bring to a climax the Love Triangle that had been established a few episodes earlier.
  • Pin-Pulling Teeth:
    • The Fourth Doctor pretends to do this in ''The Pirate Planet'', but he's actually just eating a liquorice allsort prior to distracting a guard by throwing the rest of the bag.
    • Ace's nitro-nine grenades are made from scavenged aerosol cans, so they have caps instead of pins. In a possible allusion to this trope, the Doctor pops the cap off one grenade with his teeth in "Remembrance of the Daleks".
    • One of Morgaine's knights does it in "Battlefield".
    • In "Time Heist", Psi does this with his transporter locking pin while thinking it will kill him, trying to go out like a badass... only to scream in terror seconds later as it activates.
  • A Planet Named Zok: Skaro, the Daleks' homeworld.
  • Planet Baron: Being the creator of the Daleks, the mastermind Davros reigned supreme on their home planet Skaro, gaining absolute power after converting the Kaleds into Daleks and eradicating their rivals, the Thals.
  • Planet of Hats: The Ogrons are explicitly Too Dumb to Fool.
  • Planetary Relocation: In "The Stolen Earth", the Daleks move the Earth and 26 other planets through time and space to serve as transmitters for their Reality Bomb, making a shell to prevent the planets from freezing over for test subjects.
  • Please Subscribe to Our Channel: The BBC's official Doctor Who channel has used several over the years.
    • A clip of a Silent in its ship reaching for the audience while a caption stands, the implication being that the alien is using its power of suggestion to influence the viewer to subscribe.
    • The Eleventh Doctor (Matt Smith) using his sonic screwdriver to illuminate a "Please Subscribe" message before pointing to it.
    • After Matt Smith's departure, the Doctors speak to the audience. Peter Capaldi channels the Twelfth Doctor's commanding tone as he instructs "DON'T FORGET TO CLICK BELOW TO SUBSCRIBE TO THE OFFICIAL DOCTOR WHO YOUTUBE CHANNEL". Fitting the change in character, the Thirteenth Doctor (Jodie Whittaker) repeats the message in a warmer tone.
    • Recent uploads relating to the classic series feature messages from their respective Doctors (Colin Baker, Tom Baker etc.)
    Tom Baker: Well, I how could possibly forget that? For goodness sake! You've got the message, haven't you?\\
  • Plot Archaeology:
    • The Third Doctor casually mentions Metebelis III in a throwaway line at the beginning of "Carnival of Monsters". In "The Green Death", he takes a quick and mostly comical trip to Metebelis III while sulking about Jo's departure, which mostly serves the purpose of giving him Green Rocks to use as a deus ex machina. "Planet of the Spiders" is set partially on Metebelis III, and it turns out the planet is extremely important in his eventual downfall.
    • The main villain of "Arc of Infinity" is revealed to be Omega, who first appeared in "The Three Doctors", which aired ten years previously. This kick-started the twentieth season, which featured a returning element from the series' past.
    • "Warriors of the Deep" sees the return of two classic monsters from the Third Dotor era, the Silurians and the Sea Devils, who appeared in 1970 and 1972, respectively.
    • "Attack of the Cybermen" is one of the most continuity-heavy stories of the classic series, the plot sees the Cybermen trying to alter the events of "The Tenth Planet" and a return to the setting of "The Tomb of the Cybermen".
    • "Remembrance of the Daleks" returns to Coal Hill School and the junkyard at Totters' Lane in 1963, aka where the series began.
    • Arc Words sometimes get planted before they're even used in a this-is-leading-up-to-something fashion. We get a briefly-seen newspaper mention of "Saxon" being ahead in the polls midway through new series Series 2. Nothing is said of it until "Mister Saxon" becomes a mystery figure of Series 3.
    • River Song was introduced in "Silence of the Library" and quickly dropped, then brought back with the Eleventh Doctor.
    • There's a gag mentioned in "The End of Time" that Elizabeth I, due to getting involved with the Doctor in some fashion, is "no longer known as the......". This plot thread is used prominently in big chunks of "The Day of the Doctor", which details this involvement.
    • "Into the Dalek" deals with dropped plot points introduced in "Genesis of the Daleks", a Fourth Doctor story made way back in 1975.
    • The Series 11 episode "The Ghost Monument" has the Monster of the Week make an offhand reference to "the Timeless Child", which confuses the Doctor to said monster's amusement at her ignorance. The mystery of the Timeless Child then ends up being the main Story Arc of Series 12.
  • Pop-Up Trivia: "Doctor's Notes" (rebroadcast of Series 9) on BBC America in January 2016.
  • Portal Cut:
    • In "The Three Doctors", a green blob teleports the Doctor and part of the building he's in through a black hole, and later the rest of the building. The two parts of the building arrive in different locations. At the end, when everything is sent back to "where it came from", the two parts of the building are re-assembled, apparently without any permanent damage.
    • In "Time Heist", the bomb left for the team is a dimensional shift bomb, displacing a roughly cube-shaped section of floor for the team to escape through, which then returns to normal space about a minute later, leaving no trace behind.
  • Post-Adventure Adventure:
    • When we first meet him, the Doctor has fled his people, spent enough time exploring Earth history to decide the French Revolution is one of his favourite periods, and then more or less settled in the early sixties so his granddaughter can go to school.
    • In "The Face of Evil", the Doctor arrives at a planet he had visited several years prior, and which had turned into a fascistic hell hole in the meanwhile (and fondly remembered his role in making it that way... by making him their Satanic figure). As the serial goes on, this becomes a Resolved Noodle Incident (the Doctor, thinking he had an unquestionably brilliant solution, reprogrammed a Master Computer with an upload of his mind but only made it more crazy instead), which makes the Doctor more driven to solve the problem.
    • The revival of Doctor Who starts with the Doctor having just come off the aftermath of the Time War, and dealing with the result of that.
    • Several new series episodes open with the Doctor and companions arriving back at the TARDIS after a previous adventure, and discussing the Noodle Incidents that arose.
  • Power of Friendship:
    • In the Series 3 finale, Martha escapes the Master's takeover of Earth and spends one year travelling the world telling everyone about the doctor and how they're supposed to say (and believe!) "doctor" over and over during an oncoming countdown. When said time arrives, everyone in the world doing this (even the Master's human followers and his own freaking wife) gives the Doctor the strength he needs to overpower the Master and undo all his evil.
    • All of the Doctor's previous companions have shown that they're quite willing to die (in some cases, repeatedly) to protect him. "Journey's End" puts a subversive twist on this with the claim by Davros that the Doctor basically turns everyone who loves him into living weapons for his cause.
    • Rory makes a point of it too, in a somewhat different fashion, in Series 5, by pointing out that part of the reason the Doctor's so dangerous is because his overconfident behaviour and impulsive nature encourages others to risk their lives just to impress him. When Rory himself ends up doing the exact same thing later in the episode, in light of the previous guilt-tripping the Doctor is less-than-impressed.
    • In "The War Machines", the mind-controlled Polly clearly sees Ben escaping, and says nothing. When someone asks after him, she explains, but when he asks her why, she does not know, and after a moment, starts to remember that he had been her friend.
  • Power Of Hate:
    • The Pratt/Beevers version of the Master (the one that looks like a corpse), was once quoted as saying that hate was the only thing keeping him alive.
      The Master: You do not understand hatred as I understand it. Only hate keeps me alive. Why else should I endure this pain?
    • And from New Series:
      The Doctor: What does hate look like, Amy?
      Amy: Hate?
      The Doctor: It looks like a Dalek.
    • In "Asylum of the Daleks", the Daleks are revealed to imprison, not destroy, those among their number who are deemed too insane, simply because they cannot bring themselves to remove such pure hatred from the universe. The Dalek Prime Minister suggests that is perhaps the real reason why they've never been able to finish off the Doctor.
  • Plant Hair: Jabe the Tree in the episode "The End of the World", Jabe the Tree has this in the form of branches and leaves sticking out of her head.
  • Poor Communication Kills: According to a 2018 interview with Tom Baker, this essentially was the reason Elisabeth Sladen left the show. She had heard a rumour that the producers were going to let her go so that Baker could choose his own companion to put his own stamp on the show. Neither the producers nor Baker had any desire to part with Sladen, who worked well with Baker, and whose character, Sarah-Jane Smith, was well-liked with fans. However, on this assumption, she quit before anyone could set her straight on the matter.
  • Power Dynamics Kink: The Doctor's relationship with River Song has definite overtones of this. She openly revels in her superiority to him in many aspects, including being better at piloting the TARDIS or knowing things from the future that he doesn't (when he asks her about those, she playfully answers: "Spoilers"). In two of the episodes, she handcuffs him to prevent him from ruining her plans, and when he asks about her reasons for doing so, she again replies "Spoilers".
  • Powered by a Black Hole: Rassilon was able to harness the power of a Black Hole in an "Eye of Harmony", which sits under the Panopticon in the centre of the Time Lord Citadel.
  • Precision Crash:
    • Subverted in the episode "Aliens of London". An alien ship comes streaking in, smashes a wing on Big Ben, and then belly-lands in the Thames. Later on we find out that it was launched from elsewhere on Earth on a parabolic course and aimed at London as part of a plot by the Slitheen to trick Earth into a nuclear war for their own profit.
    • In "Voyage of the Damned", the out-of-control spaceship Titanic almost crashes into Buckingham Palace before the Doctor manages to fix things.
  • Preserve Your Gays:
    • Madame Vastra, a Victorian-era katana-wielding Silurian detective and her wife/maid/fellow swordfighter/investigator Jenny, who have so far survived all their appearances. Jenny technically died twice in one episode, but she got better.
    • During Series 9 hints are dropped that Clara Oswald might be bisexual. In "Face the Raven", it seems like she is Killed Off for Real after literally dying Once an Episode for a while, but two episodes later in "Hell Bent" she is not only revived but made functionally immortal.
    • Main character Bill and Heather, a lesbian couple, who also gain functional immortality.
    • The only literally immortal character is Extreme Omnisexual Jack Harkness.
  • Press X to Die: Starship UK. People have the choice of protesting or forgetting when they learn that the spaceship is powered by torturing an innocent creature. Those who choose to protest are subsequently fed to the Space Whale.
  • Primal Fear: How the show is so scary, especially in the Moffat era and Davies-era stories written by Moffat.
    • The Vashta Nerada from the two-parter "Silence in the Library"/"Forest of the Dead". The dark itself is trying to kill you, and it can even block out sunlight. You sure that shadow near you was there a moment ago?
    • There's also "Blink", which involves aliens who look like statues. They can't move if someone is looking at them, but travel at amazing speeds as soon as you blink. If they catch you, they will knock you into the past, forcing you to live to death. invokedSay, where's the nearest statue to you right now?
    • In "The Time of Angels", the Weeping Angels aren't content to just zap you into the past anymore - now they snap your neck, rip out your cerebral cortex and use it to talk to anyone left alive. And you can't look them in the eyes, either, because you will turn into one of them. Not only that, but torches and any light source within usable radius won't work because the angels will drain the power. Unless you're being chased outside during the day, you're screwed. And even then, daytime doesn't last forever. In the same episode, Amy gets infected with the image of a Weeping Angel that's trying to break out of her, which would kill her in the process. And it makes her count down as it gets stronger. Why? For fun.
    • Played with in "Listen". The Doctor postulates that the reason everyone has the same exact dream about "the monster under the bed" grabbing their foot is because there is a creature that has perfected hiding to such an extent that it can't be perceived in any way except by that feeling of someone breathing down your neck. It's also the reason why people talk out loud even though there's nobody around to hear them. Perhaps someone is listening. The ending leaves it ambiguous as to whether such a creature even exists. The Doctor's fear is caused by Clara accidentally ending up in his childhood and creating a Stable Time Loop.
    • In "In the Forest of the Night", upon finding herself lost in the forest, Clara specifically notes that she's having a different type of fear reaction from what the situation logically warrants (and she's been in enough life-or-death situations to know what she's talking about). The Doctor points out that "the forest" is the location of every fairy tale that scares human children, and is essentially humanity's collective nightmare. It seems that the Doctor himself is not completely immune to it. It turns out that the reason for this instinctive terror is a buried and distorted memory of the last time trees saved them from a terrifying global disaster.
    • The Racnoss, a species of giant, carnivorous spider-things which roam the galaxy eating everything they can find, not to mention the invisible mind-controlling beetles hitching rides on people.
    "There's something on your back!"
  • Proportional Aging: Thanks to regeneration, a Time Lord's rate of aging relative to their total lifespan is near impossible to determine. Their ageing within a single regeneration is clearer. We have seen three Doctors reach old age with either the statement or implication it took centuries to reach that point. The length of a Time Lord's childhood is unknown, but it's been offhandedly mentioned that Time Lords are still considered "kids" into their one hundreds.
  • Proud Hunter Race: The Stenza are an alien race who hold ritual hunts on other planets as part of their succession rites — one individual on that planet is randomly selected and then hunted, without the use of weapons. Trophy collection is a big part of Stenza culture, shown by Stenza hunter Tzim-Sha wearing his prey's teeth embedded in his skin.
  • Psychic Link:
    • Time Lords, being telepathic, can do this with both other Time Lords and species such as humans, as demonstrated in episodes like "The Girl in the Fireplace" and "Last of the Time Lords". "The Lodger" spoofs it by having the Doctor deliver an Exposition Beam via psychic headbutt.
    • The Doctor has a permanent psychic link set up with the TARDIS, though it's not the transfer of words, but rather emotions and feelings. Companions can tap into the link, too. In "The Doctor's Wife" it's used by Amy to open locked doors in the TARDIS, and it's how they can understand aliens, no matter where or when they are.
    • Prisoner Zero's shapeshifting requires it to form a psychic link to an individual, causing Prisoner Zero to turn into whatever the person is dreaming about (usually the person's likeness in their dream along with anyone else they're dreaming of such as their dog or children).
  • Psychic Powers: Possessed by a number of species, and individuals among species (including humans). Time Lords have considerable potential, as demonstrated by K'anpo Rimpoche in "Planet of the Spiders", but most do not develop it. Various technologies, including TARDIS's and "psychic paper" also use psychic energy.
  • Public Secret Message: The "Bad Wolf" Arc Words in Series 1.
  • Punch-Clock Villain:
    • When the Ogrons appeared they are portrayed as a Servant Race for the Daleks. However IDW comics shows this was more a job and due to the Doctor defeating them they are in economic trouble. An Ogron diplomat even helps the Doctor and by the end the Doctor helps the Ogrons get work with the Shadow Proclamation.
    • The Thals and Kaleds in "Genesis of the Daleks" seem to be portrayed as this. The Thals are using brutal methods in their war against the Kaleds such as enslaving people and forcing them to do work that will kill them but once they think they have won the war they decide to free all their prisoners and some Thals even prove helpful to the Doctor when the Daleks attack them. The Kaled scientists are doing research that will lead to the creation of the Daleks but most of them are shown to be opposed to Davros ultimately.
    • In another instance, the Doctor gets some righteous fury on the workers of the Bad Wolf corporation; a television company with gameshows that end in murder. When one of the managers claims that they're just doing their job, he angrily tells her that she has now lost the right to even speak with him.
    • Most employees of the Torchwood Institute tend to be Punch Clock Villains; however, over in Torchwood, they're the main characters. They're usually different members, though, with Captain Jack explaining that he rebuilt and changed Torchwood after they got destroyed in the Cybermen invasion.
    • In "Time Heist", bank security is incredibly polite about the fact that they're going to kill you, and really wish you wouldn't make such a fuss about it.
  • Pun With Pi: From the episode "Flatline":
    The Doctor: [preparing to scan] Okay, let's start with pi! Even in a flat world, they would have circles! I don't mean edible pie, I mean circular pi. Which I realise would also be an edible pie.
  • Pushy Gun-Toting Villain: The Doctor and their companion(s) were usually on the business end of a gun or an energy weapon, sometimes because of being at the wrong place at the wrong time, and circumstantial evidence implicated them as the criminals. Other times, it was a character who had some kind of power high or was desperate to stay in power.
  • Put on a Bus: Applies to every companion who leaves the series who isn't killed off. In most cases, the bus never comes back, but in a few cases, most notably Sarah Jane Smith and the Brigadier, it does, but only after a Long Bus Trip. Uniquely, also applies to the Doctor as the nature of the series allows for earlier incarnations' buses to come back too, if only briefly.
    • The Doctor has on a few occasions addressed (or has been forced to address) the fact he rarely sees companions that leave him again.

  • Quieting the Unquiet Dead:
    • The Doctor finds himself in this role in "Mummy on the Orient Express", when he deduces from the various clues that the "mummy" is actually a soldier kept alive by ancient regenerative tech, and sends him back to rest by saying "I surrender!" and then saluting the ancient soldier before sending him on his way to the afterlife.
    • Later in the same season, Danny Pink convinces an army of Cybermen created from the corpses of Earth to perform a Heroic Sacrifice to stop Missy's plan by Taking a Third Option (her choice being that a cyber rain converts all of the Earth, or the Doctor assumes responsibility for the newly formed Cyber-army and uses it to right wrongs across the universe as he sees fit, thus betraying his ideals).

  • Racial Transformation: Time Lords,can change human-terms ethnicity in the process of regeneration (in every case, from the initial default white of an "aristocratic" character in a British work):
    • The show confirmed during the Moffat era in TV canon that it was possible for Time Lords to change their apparent human-terms ethnicity, first in "Let's Kill Hitler" when River's second incarnation is black compared to her white first and third ones, and then in "Hell Bent" when the General is shot dead and regenerates from a white man to a black woman.
    • Series Twelve of the 21st-century TV show introduced a new incarnation of the Master played by the British South Asian actor Sacha Dhawan, while the episode "Fugitive of the Judoon" featured a mysterious, previously-unseen earlier incarnation of the Doctor played by black actor Jo Martin. The season's final episode, "The Timeless Children", had early incarnations of the Timeless Child played by child extras of varying ethnicity.
    • The 60th anniversary specials in 2023 introduced Ncuti Gatwa's Fifteenth Doctor as the first non-white Doctor in the lead role (Jo Martin having only been recurring).
  • Radar Is Useless:
    • In "Smith and Jones", the Judoon ships approached and parked on the Moon without being noticed for days, and even then only when they teleported a London hospital up to them.
    • A giant flying replica of the Titanic soars over Earth in "The Voyage of the Damned" without anyone on Earth seemingly noticing, including the paranoid amateur astronomer the Doctor talks to on the street.
    • In "The Sontaran Stratagem", the Sontaran Mothership had spent at least a few months orbiting Earth and is only detected by the paramilitary group UNIT after they put out a signal poisoning every car on Earth.
    • The military space station from "A Good Man Goes to War" is unable to detect two space-faring airplanes flying nearby. Due to their lack of radar or any other type of sensor, their entire communications array is taken out before they can contact their fleet.
  • Ragtag Bunch of Misfits:
  • Random Transportation:
    • The First and Second Doctors had little to no control over where the TARDIS went in any given serial (the First Doctor serial "The Smugglers" provides the page quote). Even later, when the Doctor did gain better control, it was often difficult to wind up exactly where he wanted to go. This was particularly troublesome for companions who wanted to go home (Ian & Barbara, Ben & Polly, Tegan).
    • It's been stated in "The Doctor's Wife" that the TARDIS itself chooses where to go based on where the Doctor is needed.
    • The Fourth Doctor invoked this trope by installing a randomizer into the TARDIS in order to evade the Black Guardian following the Key to Time arc.
    • The Tenth Doctor invoked the randomizer for fun in "Planet of the Ood."
  • Randomized Transformation: While Time Lords have shown some degree of control over their regenerations into a new body, the Doctor's in particular have generally been left up to chance. Everything from their hair color and length, to their accent, to their biological sex could have changed without them realizing it. They often spend the first episode post-regeneration marveling and mocking what they now look and sound like.
  • Raygun Gothic: Cybermen and Daleks.
  • Read the Freaking Manual: Part of the Doctor's problems with the TARDIS stem from a deliberate refusal to read the manual.
  • Real Life Writes the Plot:
    • William Hartnell's declining health (among other issues) led to the decision for him to leave Doctor Who in 1966. The showrunners came up with the concept of "regeneration" to explain the change in lead actor, introducing a key aspect in the show's mythos in the process.
    • Tom Baker and Lalla Ward dated through most of their time co-starring on the series (and even married a few weeks after Ward left the show). Although it wasn't intentionally incorporated by the writers, the state of their often-tempestuous relationship often impacted how the Fourth Doctor and Romana interacted on screen.
    • Jenna Coleman initially planned to leave the series after Series 8, but got on so well with her co-star Peter Capaldi - and reportedly Capaldi all but begged her to stay - that showrunner Steven Moffat was forced to not only rewrite the ending to the Series 8 finale (which was supposed to be Clara's goodbye, until Coleman agreed to return for the Christmas special), and the ending to the 2014 Christmas special (which again was to have been Clara's swan song), but he replotted the entirety of Series 9 to incorporate the Doctor-Clara relationship into the series arc of the Hybrid.
    • In a meta example, playing The Doctor is extremely demanding on an actor. The show shoots nine months out of the year and this doesn't include the required promotional tours and appearances and myriad other responsibilities of the role. Given The Doctor is also an extremely demanding part and the anchor around which the show depends, it's not surprising that all of the actors to play the part have limited their time in the role to around three series since Tom Baker's record seven series run. Baker has gone on record about just how badly his mental state was deteriorating towards the end of his tenure and how it took him a very long time to recover fully once he'd stepped down, further showing the dangers of overstaying the part.
  • Realistic Diction Is Unrealistic: Usually played straight with the Doctor, who can launch into perfect long speeches without the slightest hesitation in their entire speech. However, notably averted with the first incarnation of the Doctor, whose speech pattern came from the fact that William Hartnell kept flubbing his lines. Since the brand-new video technology was positively archaic by the standards of the Adobe Premiere era (edits would be performed by literally taking a razorblade to the magnetic tape), all video recordings were done "live" like a stage play and reshoots were very rare and costly, meaning the gaffes were just left in.
  • Reasonable Request Rejected: While restrained, Missy goads Osgood into coming close to her, at which point she whispers she's going to kill her. While Osgood doesn't believe her, Missy proceeds to reveal her handcuffs are off, kills the guards and prepares to kill the scientist. Osgood tries convincing the Time Lady not to murder her by pointing out she's of more use alive, which Missy agrees is true and completely reasonable. Unfortunately, Missy then explains she's also crazy and shoots Osgood anyway.
  • Recognizable by Sound: Characters have reacted to the sound of the TARDIS before, often running to meet The Doctor.
  • Recurring Extra: American newscaster Trinity Wells, played by Lachele Carl, who reported on every alien invasion of contemporary Earth during the Davies era. She made one final appearance during the Moffat era in "The Power of Three", an Internal Homage to Davies-era alien invasion stories.
  • Recursive Canon:
    • Borderline example in the 25th anniversary serial "Remembrance of the Daleks", which is a sequel to the original pilot episode and is set in the same place and time; at one point we hear a BBC continuity voice announcing the time and date the first episode of "a new science-fiction serial" was broadcast — it's cut short just before the name of the series is actually dropped.
    • In "In the Forest of the Night", a poster advertising Doctor Who is seen on a bus in the background (you can even just make out Jenna Coleman's image).
  • Recycled IN SPACE!:
  • Red Herring:
    • In "Planet of the Dead", a low-level psychic named Carmen tells the Doctor that "your song is ending, sir", and that "He will knock four times", thus providing a clue as to how the Tenth Doctor will die. In the season ending two-parter, "The End of Time", the Master is resurrected, and he summons the Doctor by banging out a four-beat rhythm on an oil drum — making it obvious that the clue was a reference to the drumbeat in The Master's head. But after the episode's climax, when the Doctor appears to have triumphed over his old enemy unscathed, his friend Wilfred Mott turns out to have locked himself in a radiation containment chamber. He knocks to be let out... in a familiar four-beat rhythm. The Doctor must enter the chamber to save Wilfred, suffering a lethal dose of radiation poisoning in the process.
    • Most of Series 5 heavily foreshadows a universe-collapsing event at the hands of some evil cosmic being, with the Arc Words "The Pandorica Will Open. Silence Will Fall." apparently hinting at said being's release. But in the Twist Ending of "The Pandorica Opens", when the title prison chamber is finally opened... it's empty. It turns out that the "evil cosmic being" is actually the Doctor, and that the Pandorica was built by his enemies as a prison for him. The prophesy turns out to be a reference to the Doctor's imprisonment (which prevents him from saving the day), not to another being's release.
    • In Series 6, the Doctor is again fated to die. The companions and the audience see this death happen first-hand, while the Doctor himself (a past version) is blissfully unaware for half the season. When the gang discover a factory utilizing easy to make not-quite-clones known as "Gangers", the audience, and the character jump to the hypothesis that Doctor who dies was/will be a Ganger as opposed to the real thing. In actuality, the Gangers had nothing to do with the resolution; the Doctor had been shrunk down and piloting a shapeshifting robot (established in another earlier episode) the whole time.
    • In "Time Heist", the introduction to the heist establishes various facts: the walls have flamethrowers, the air is regulated, and the safes are atomically sealed. The first never comes up again, while the second is only marginally related to the fact that the private vault has its own life support system.
  • Red Shirt Army: UNIT soldiers. From the villain side, many.
  • Reign of Terror: The First Doctor visited the original French one in the story of the same name, and each Doctor has overthrown at least one.
  • Reincarnated as the Opposite Sex: Time lords are capable of regenerating across gender, which comes up several times throughout the Revival Series:
    • In "The Doctor's Wife", the Doctor recounts an anecdote about his old friend the Corsair, a renegade Time Lord who frequently shifted between male and female forms with each incarnation.
    • At the end of "Dark Water", the Doctor learns that the Master has regenerated into a female incarnation, now going by Missy. She remains in this form until her next (offscreen) regeneration, returning to a male form during the Thirteenth Doctor's era.
    • In "Hell Bent", the General regenerates into a woman after being wounded by the Doctor. Her following dialogue implies that most of her other incarnations were female as well.
    • At the end of "Twice Upon a Time", the male Twelfth Doctor regenerates into the female Thirteenth Doctor, the first female depiction seen on-screen. She then regenerates back into a male form at the end of "The Power of the Doctor". In "Fugitive of the Judoon", she learns that she previously had another female incarnation in the form of the Fugitive Doctor.
    • In the 2018 novelization of "Rose", Clive shows Rose photos of the Doctor's various incarnations, including ones from well into the Time Lord's future. Two of these are a bald Black woman and an androgynous child in a wheelchair (of note is that the TV version of "Rose" was the debut story for the male Ninth Doctor).
  • Remember the New Guy?:
    • Inverted with River Song, who in "Silence in the Library" walks up to the Doctor and begins chatting with him as if they're old friends. The Doctor, however, has never met her before — turns out that, thanks to the Timey-Wimey Ball, he's meeting her out of sequence.
    • In "Let's Kill Hitler", Amy and Rory's never before mentioned best friend shows up for the first part. The Doctor is as confused as the audience, asking why he's never heard of her and where she was at their wedding. Then "Mels" is killed and turns out to be a prior regeneration of River Song/Melody Pond.
    • Clara Oswald is similarly confused when the Doctor - who has met two of her "echoes" - basically tries to instantly become her friend, even though she has no idea who this nutcase with the monk's habit is.
  • Research, Inc.: Quite a few, being a Long Runner, e.g. International Electromatics, Global Chemicals, and the National Institute for Advanced Scientific Research, a.k.a. Think Tank.
  • Resurrection Sickness: The result of a regeneration. Ranges from becoming manic and going into a coma (the Ninth changing into the Tenth, though part of this was due to the sheer power of the Time Vortex), to forgetting something you've done most of your lives (the Twelfth having no idea how to drive the TARDIS). This has occurred with virtually every Doctor (we've yet to find out if the War Doctor or Ninth Doctor had similar issues) and a period of "wonkiness" after the change is traditional.
  • Resurrective Immortality: What a regeneration amounts to.
  • Retcon: Assuming the Master is telling the truth, the events in "The Timeless Children" massively change up the Doctor's, the Time Lords', and Gallifrey's backstories. The Doctor used to be a being now known as The Timeless Child, which had a seemingly unlimited amount of regenerations. The Timeless Child's first known incarnation as a young girl existed long before the show's "First" Doctor, and she was ruthlessly experimented on by the original Gallifreyans until they could replicate her regneration ability and turned themselves into the Time Lords. The Time Lords then Chameleon Arch'd the Timeless Child, creating the First Doctor.
  • Ret-Gone: What happens to those who fall through the cracks in the universe. And Steven Moffat has reportedly said that, as a result of the cracks (and what was necessary to fix them), a number of major events from the preceding series - most notably, several alien invasions and other incidents that attracted widespread public notice - have been erased from history, leaving an earth that is once again (almost) entirely ignorant of the existence of alien beings. What this means for the past companions whose travels with the Doctor hinged on those events is anybody's guess.
    • However much of this was undone when the Doctor rebooted the universe in "The Big Bang", which is stated on screen as restoring everyone's memories, or at least the memories of all time travellers (no doubt including past companions).
    • Even after The Doctor restores the lost events in "The Big Bang", the Miracle Day incident does not appear to be one of them and is never mentioned by anyone.
      • Miracle Day happened after the Big Bang. It doesn't count.
    • As of Series 7, the Doctor has erased himself from every database ever, so nobody remembers him.
  • Reverse Polarity: Multiple examples, including "Reverse the polarity of the neutron flow" and the sonic screwdriver. Lampshaded in "The Day of the Doctor":
    Eleven: Reverse the polarity!
    (both Eleven and Ten point their screwdrivers but fail to close the portal)
    Eleven: It's not working.
    Ten: We're both reversing the polarity.
    Eleven: Yes, I know that.
    Ten: There's two of us. I'm reversing it, you're reversing it back again. We're confusing the polarity!
  • Revolting Rescue: "The Beast Below". Amy and the Doctor find themselves dropped into a dark, dank place full of refuse. The Doctor informs Amy that they are standing on a very large tongue. In order to escape, The Doctor uses the sonic screwdriver to trigger a bout of nausea. He does warn Amy in advance that their escape isn't going to be very big on dignity.
  • Rewatch Bonus:
    • The RTD era means that it can be fun to look out for barely noticeable arc words such as "Bad Wolf", "Torchwood", "Harold Saxon", missing planets and "The bees are disappearing!"
    • The Moffat series are good for a re-watch purely because of the extreme amounts of timey-wimey-ness, especially in relation to River Song's arc. There's so much Foreshadowing, Call Backs and Book Ends that entire lines and scenes can gain a new meaning.
    • In "Utopia", once you know that Yana is actually the Master, a lot of his more subtle parallels with the Doctor start to become obvious. He admits that he's never taught at a university, and that the title "Professor" is just an affectation—just like a Time Lord's title. His relationship with Chantho is deliberately written to evoke the Doctor's relationships with his Companions. He's an excitable Cool Old Guy with a love of science and experimentation, and he wears flamboyant antiquated clothing—just like all of the Doctor's earliest incarnations.
    • "Deep Breath":
      • On second viewing of the scene where Clara is recaptured, it's apparent that the head-covering of the "robot" which brings her to the Half-Faced Man isn't fitted quite properly, because the Doctor's wearing it over his hair. There's also a visible seam on the back, although that wouldn't be surprising in a Droid either.
      • When the Doctor rips that face off, it looks oddly like Matt Smith's. That's because it is. They took a cast of the mannequin of Matt from the Doctor Who Experience for Peter to pull off. He literally pulls off his old face to show his new one.
      • invokedFridge Horror on the rewatch: Mancini's is a "Family Restaurant" and they have a "Children's Menu".
      • Several reviewers have noted that the fact Strax attempts suicide rather than betray his friends is a notable moment often missed on the first viewing.
      • Peter Capaldi's accent takes a little getting used to. As such, there are sequences (such as the alley scene and the new Doctor meeting Strax and company for the first time) that benefit from being rewatched. Not everyone catches that the Doctor mistakes Strax for one of the Seven Dwarves at the very start.
    • If you watch "Time Heist" again and listen to the Architect, it's blatantly obvious that it's the Doctor. You can still hear parts of Capaldi's accent.
    • Following the conclusion of Clara's story in Hell Bent, if one rewatches her episodes from "Asylum of the Daleks" onwards, one catches dialogue and actions that directly foreshadow events from the final episode. Not to mention that "Hell Bent" puts Clara's letimotif into a completely different context.
  • Riddle for the Ages: What's the Doctor's real name, and why doesn't he want anyone to know it? During the Steven Moffat years, we find out that the oldest question in existence, which must never be answered, is "Doctor who?". "The Time of the Doctor" reveals why the question's so important at this point during the Doctor's life, but the crisis gets resolved without the viewers learning what his name is, or why the name is a secret in the first place.
  • Right Behind Me: Tends to happen to River, who finds herself giving other characters passionate speeches about the Doctor only to realise he has heard the whole thing.
  • Ripple-Effect-Proof Memory:
    • Part and parcel of being a time traveller. One's perception of history is altered, forever, allowing you to remember what the world was like before history was changed via Retcon and Ret-Gone. However, it isn't retroactive.
    • Averted whenever multiple versions of a time lord (or at least the Doctor) meet each other. Apparently, the younger versions naturally lose every memory of the events happening while their timelines are out of sync, which is why the post-revival Doctor believes he destroyed Gallifrey, when he really hasn't. Though this appears to apply only to the Time War, since The Doctor and his companions are able to remember other time he's crossed his own timeline.
  • Robot Antennae: The Doctor's Robot Buddy-who-looks-like-a-dog K9 has two small radar-like antennae for ears.
  • Rogues Gallery: Doctor Who, being a Long Runner show, has a large one. Some of the villains and aggressors are the Daleks and their creator Davros, the Master, the Cybermen, the Cybermen, the Sontarans, the Autons and Nestene replicants, the Silurians, the Weeping Angels and the Slitheen. Several of these races would form the Alliance in "The Pandorica Opens" to save the Universe from the Doctor.
  • Romantic Ribbing: River and The Doctor (11th) often teased one another, though River often had the upper hand.
    Amy: How come you can fly the TARDIS?
    River: Oh, I had lessons from the very best.
    The Doctor: (flattered) Well, yeah.
    River: It's a shame you were busy that day.
  • Royals Who Actually Do Something: The show has accumulated a few over the years.
    • King Yrcanos who, aside from being a classic Warrior King, was played by BRIAN BLESSED. And ended up marrying Peri.
    • The very awesome Liz 10 (Sophie Okonedo) from the new series, a.k.a. Queen Elizabeth X, a two-gun wielding hands-on Action Girl who reigns aboard the Starship UK.
    • Queen Victoria and (young) Queen Elizabeth I are both shown to be badass in their own rights. Although Queen Victoria, aside from shooting a villain with a kickass Pre-Mortem One-Liner, wasn't as much action-oriented as Elizabeth outright stabbing her Zygon double to death (offscreen).
  • Rule of Cool: Invoked directly on screen on occasion - such as the Eleventh Doctor stating that bow-ties and fezzes are cool. Also invoked by the showrunner, such as the decision in Series 9 to introduce sonic sunglasses, simply because they were cool.
  • Rule of Escalating Threat: The season finales of the new series tend to play with this rule. Sometimes it's just the Doctor's life at stake, while other times the whole universe is threatened. The Big Bads for each story arc and what they threaten are as follows:
    • The Daleks (Earth)
    • The Daleks + Cybermen (Earth)
    • The Master (Earth and the Galaxy)
    • Davros (all of creation)
    • The Time Lords (all of creation)
    • The Silence (the Doctor's life + all of creation as an unforeseen side-effect)
    • The Great Intelligence (the Doctor's life + all of creation)
    • The Master again (Earth)
  • Rule of Perception: Duck into the corner or behind that pillar, crouch behind the lab bench, etc. etc. etc. Make sure the audience can see you. Even by Rule of Perception standards, it's amazing how conspicuous the characters can be without being found by the search party.
  • Running Gag:
    • The TARDIS' broken chameleon circuit and wonky steering.
    • "It's bigger on the inside."
    • In the Christmas specials, the fact that it never really snows at Christmas beyond the 19th century.
    • The tendency of new companions to attempt to speak in foreign accents (and, of course, failing spectacularly) with the Doctor just wincing at them saying, "Don't...don't do that."
    • And the oldest running gag in the whole series: Occasionally the Doctor will introduce himself as "Just the Doctor," and someone else in the scene will ask, puzzled, "Doctor who?"
    • "Harriet Jones, Prime Minister." "Yes, I/we know who you are."
    • Even characters themselves being uncertain or vague about exactly when during the twentieth century the Third and Fourth Doctors' adventures with UNIT happened, a reference to the notorious Continuity Snarl regarding the issue.
    • During the Eleventh Doctor era, it's become a sort of in-universe gag that Rory will die again and again. At one point, even The Silence mention his tendency to die a lot.
    • Noodle Incidents were occasional in the series, until the Steven Moffat era, where we get as many as three an episode.
    • In the new series, dramatically running.
    • As lampshaded in "The Doctor's Wife", the instructions written on the TARDIS' door quite clearly read "Pull to Open". note  Despite this, in all the time they've travelled together (and indeed, most of the series), The Doctor has stubbornly refused to do anything other than Push the doors open!
    • The Doctor's affinity for mixing up guns with bananas, which started in the Eighth Doctor Adventures, made its way into the TV series in Steven Moffat's episodes ("The Empty Child" / "The Doctor Dances", "The Girl in the Fireplace", "Space"/"Time" and "Let's Kill Hitler").
    • People thinking that the Doctor and Donna are a couple.
    • Previous Doctors never like how their successors redecorate the TARDIS.
    • Whenever the Doctor regenerates into a new appearance, the writers naturally have him look into a mirror at some point. This often coincides with a line of dialogue that picks up on a particularly unflattering part of the new actor... and has the Doctor comment on how he doesn't like that bit. Such as the Ninth Doctor commenting critically on Christopher Eccleston's rather prominent ears. The Eleventh Doctor feeling his long bangs and crying out "I'm a girl!" or The Twelfth while still in regeneration sickness going on a insane rant to a random hobo about how he doesn't like his eyebrows.
    • Intermittent encounters with blue people, whose names bear a suspicious (and never remarked-upon) phonetic resemblance to ordinary Earth names (Dorium ~ Dorian, Dahh-ren ~ Darren, Jorj ~ George).
  • Running Over the Plot:
    • In "Father's Day", the Doctor takes Rose back in time to the day her father was killed by a motorist. She stops the death but then the Clock Roaches come out. It turns out the only way to stop the destruction of the universe is for him to get hit by a car and die.
    • Inverted in "Turn Left", where an alternate reality version of Donna keeps her main universe version on the correct path by running in front of a lorry, getting killed in an accident but creating a traffic jam so Donna goes the other direction instead.
  • Runs on Ignorance: Generally believed to be how the Doctor runs the TARDIS, he just has faith in the old girl and she has a mind of her own, but it takes him a thousand years to discover this.
  • Russian Reversal: The 1892 version of Clara Oswald does this to the Running Gag that most people entering the TARDIS for the first time exclaim "It's bigger on the inside!".

  • San Dimas Time: Despite being a show about time travel, almost all recurring characters always seem to remember their last encounter from the same perspective, and the Doctor's idea of "present day" always agrees with the audience's. It is taken for granted that Time Lords meet each other in sequence, due to a presumptive "Gallifrey Standard Time". Of course, it's also easier to run a recurring character if you can refer back to the previous encounter. (The only exceptions to this in the old series were multi-Doctor anniversary stories, and Trial of a Time Lord. In the revived series, Have We Met Yet? incidents have become much more common.)
  • Saved by the Church Bell: In the Eleventh Doctor's final story, the triumphant moment when the Doctor is given the ability to regenerate and live a new life is marked with the giant bell behind him beginning to ring. It only gets louder as his body starts firing regeneration energy like an erupting volcano and destroys his seemingly invincible enemies.
  • Saving the World With Art: Given that the Doctor usually tries to find a non-violent solution to save the planet, this comes up from time to time.
  • Sassy Black Woman: No less than three examples in the Moffat era, and all young girls. "Mels" in "Let's Kill Hitler", Angie Maitland in "Nightmare in Silver" and Courtney Woods in "The Caretaker". In fact, any time there's a bratty or mouthy kid on the show, said kid is likely to be a young black girl.
    • Interestingly averted with Martha Jones, the first black female companion, who could do Deadpan Snarker like the best of them, but had a somewhat more subdued manner than this trope would suggest.
    • The April 2016 mini-episode that introduced new companion Bill hints at this.
  • Schrödinger's Canon: Throughout the history of the series, and especially following the cancellation of the original TV show in 1989, it has developed an extensive collection of tie-in novels, comics, audio plays, etc., all of which frequently contradicted each other and all of which faced an uncertain canon status when the TV series was revived in 2005. The revived series has held off from making a blanket determination of the tie-ins' status, while occasionally incorporating specific concepts, such mentioning an alien race from the novels or a former companion from the audio plays. Even concepts from a one-off spoof made their way into the canon, most notably the Time Lords' ability to regenerate into the opposite sex. One particular spin-off whose status was watched carefully by fans was the earlier failed revival starring Paul McGann; the revived series has confirmed as canonical the existence of a Doctor with McGann's appearance while avoiding addressing any of the controversial plot elements of the failed pilot. The only public "canon policy" issued by The BBC is that (due to the BBC's licence-fee-funded and free-to-air status) no TV episode is allowed to be so tied in with a spin-off work as to not make sense if you didn't experience the spin-off.
  • Science Fantasy: Famed Discworld author Terry Pratchett claims in this post that, while the show is very entertaining, it lies more in the realm of fantasy than science fiction. To be certain, a lot of Speculative Fiction Tropes from Fantasy, Science Fiction, and Horror are blended together.
  • Sci-Fi Writers Have No Sense of Scale: A temporal example. Some episodes take place hundreds of thousands, millions, billions, and even in one case trillions of years in the future, yet the relative progression of human existence (technology, evolution, society, etc) could plausibly be from the next few hundred years or so. It is likely that human civilization would have evolved to the point of incomprehensibility to a 21st century observer. Lampshaded a couple of times, with the Doctor explaining that in the future humanity will go through phases of being more or less similar to the present, and sometimes deliberately recreating the 21st century out of nostalgia.
    • "The Daleks' Master Plan" in particular has an example. The rulers of several different galaxies form an alliance for the primary purpose of conquering the Solar System. Putting aside individuals claiming to rule over entire galaxies, an alliance that large can only be described as 'overkill' given that the Solar System is just one star system and never described as anything more outside of political influence.
    • The Modern Era hasn't been consistent in this. The 2007 episode "Utopia" established that the universe continued until sometime after the year 100 trillion. However, the 2016 episode "Hell Bent" has characters using the term "billions" of years to refer to the final end of the universe. It has been suggested that the production team might mean the UK definition of "billion" which is the equivalent to the US number "trillion."
  • Sealed Cast in a Multipack: The two-part Series 2 finale ("Army of Ghosts"/""Doomsday") feature "putting the band back together" and the freeing of two evil forces (which promptly go to war) and one of which is inadvertently reinforced by the actions of one of the band that was put back together.
  • Sealed Evil in a Can: Around half a dozen cases of Evil deliberately Sealed in a Can. At least as many slumbering alien menaces that just happened to crash-land/get trapped centuries ago and go into hibernation until foolishly awoken, which don't technically fit the description but serve a very similar plot purpose.
  • Season Finale: Not a major element of the 1963-1989 series, except for the occasions where a season ended with a Doctor's regeneration, in which case that story would sometimes act as a conscious Grand Finale for his era (especially "The War Games", "Planet of the Spiders", and "Logopolis"). The revived season constantly tries to top itself for how big its finales can be, with at least five featuring the ENTIRE UNIVERSE under threat and one featuring the whole multiverse in danger of destruction (coupled with, on four of these occasions, the departure of a companion).
  • Self-Deprecation:
    • Literal in-universe example: Any time two or more different incarnations of the Doctor have met, it's a safe bet at least one will say something snarky about the others ("A dandy and a clown?"). Also doubles as a lighthearted Take That! between the various actors who've portrayed the character.
    • It's also something of a tradition when a new actor becomes the Doctor for the writers to, in the scenes immediately after the regeneration, single out one of the new actor's more distinctive or less-than-flattering features and then write a few lines of dialogue wherein the new Doctor looks at himself in the mirror and makes a point of noting how unsightly he thinks this feature is.
    • Russell T. Davies (Welsh) and Steven Moffat (Scottish) have taken potshots at their own countries. Aliens in Cardiff? Why Cardiff, of all places? And Scotland's never conquered anywhere, y'know - not even a Shetland.

      In "The Unquiet Dead", The Doctor remarks about the possibility of dying in Cardiff of all places.
    • "The Five(ish) Doctors Reboot" is an internet special by Peter Davison about himself, Colin Baker, and Sylvester McCoy trying to appear in the 50th anniversary story, and sending themselves up mercilessly in the process.
    • In an arguable case of how this trope can backfire, the producers attempted to do this in Season 23, during "The Trial of a Time Lord" season. Since the Framing Device for this season was the Doctor and a courtroom of Time Lords watching excerpts from the Doctor's adventures as evidence in his trial, the characters were essentially watching Doctor Who throughout the season. At several points they make slightly meta-comments about the show; in one notable example, the Doctor points out how boring and inconsequential the scene the characters have just watched is and demands that they move forward to something a bit more relevant and interesting. Unfortunately, this was made during a period when the writing and production standards of Doctor Who had arguably been less-than-stellar to begin with, and the whole point of the season was to offer a defence of the show after it had been controversially taken off air for eighteen months. Nobody seemed to consider the possibility that watching the Doctor essentially pointing out how his own show was unwatchable rubbish might prompt the audience — including those who believed it should be cancelled — to start agreeing with him.
    • In "Time Heist", the Doctor refers to his current look as intended to have been "Minimalist" but winding up with "Magician". Also, throughout the episode, the Doctor continually mentions how he hates the Architect. Later, it turns out he is the Architect.
  • Self-Healing Phlebotinum: The TARDIS has been all but destroyed on at least one occasion and required time to recover, although it appears that this only applies to its "heart" and not the ancillary equipment used to "drive" the TARDIS. The vessel is considered a Living Ship in any case, but it seems a mechanical form of life.
  • Self-Imposed Exile: Since the beginning of the series in 1963, this is the main premise of Doctor Who, in which the Doctor abandoned his own people and stoled a TARDIS to travel into time and space, almost always preferring Earth and its inhabitants. Inverted at the end of the Second Doctor's final season in The War Games, in which fellow Time Lords exiled him to Earth not before an execution that forced him to regenerate into the Third Doctor.
  • Self-Made Orphan:
    • It's pretty likely that the Doctor killed his parents at the end of the Last Great Time War, although we don't really know whether or not his parents were still alive when he wiped out the Time Lords. Word of God from Russell T. Davies is of the opinion the Doctor killed his mother when he ended the Time War. Given that dialogue in "The End of Time" reveals Time Lords were being killed and resurrected repeatedly during the War, this may be viewed as something of a release. Even when he does get to save Gallifrey and eventually return, his family goes unmentioned.
    • The Toclafane killed millions of their ancestors before their own birth, thanks to a "paradox machine" holding the Grandfather Paradox at bay.
  • Sequel Episode:
  • Sequel Number Snarl: The Moffat era does this to the Doctors themselves, first by retconning in a secret incarnation between Eight and Nine, then by confirming that Ten's aborted regeneration counted. This is all played for laughs in the cinema prelude to "Deep Breath", where Strax notes that the numbering of Doctors gets "tricky" as you go on.
  • Set Wrong What Was Once Made Right: A major theme of the show is how changes to the past can have a major impact on the present/future. As such, this trope comes in to play every so often.
  • Shakespeare in Fiction: A major role in the plot of "The Shakespeare Code", and a brief cameo in "The Chase". In other episodes, the Doctor alludes to offscreen meetings with him.
  • Share Phrase: Nearly every person who stepped into the TARDIS for the first time said, "It's bigger on the inside (than on the outside)", to the point where on one occasion the Tenth Doctor silently mouthed the phrase along with them, and the Eleventh later became surprised when those that enter it don't say it.
    Clara: It's smaller on the outside.
  • Scheherezade Gambit: The Doctor and his companions frequently talk their way out of trouble by convincing people they're too useful, informative or entertaining to kill. It tends to involve dropping information that they shouldn't logically have.
  • Shout-Out: Has its own page.
  • Signature Headgear:
    • Several incarnations of the Doctor sport some distinctive headgear, notably the fourth, the fifth, and the seventh (owned by the actor).
    • Even the First Doctor wore a hat in his very first story.
    • The Second Doctor didn't wear a hat that often but experienced a serious fascination with them, especially early on ("I should like a hat like that" was an early catchphrase of his). Most important is his stovepipe hat, which needs to be seen.
    • The Third also tried on a flat cap in his first appearance, before settling on a fedora. In his other instalments, he went bareheaded.
    • The Fourth's fedora is almost as well known as his scarf, but he did occasionally substitute other hats, including a bowler, a deerstalker and a tam o'shanter.
    • The Seventh Doctor was the first to indulge in fezzes, briefly swapping out his usual hat for one episode.
    • The Tenth Doctor briefly sported a fez in "The Day of the Doctor".
    • Eleven has a fondness for hats which, combined with his rampant Attention Deficit... Ooh, Shiny!, often results in him acquiring a new one in the middle of saving the world. In "The Big Bang", he picks up a fez out of a museum, claiming that "Fezzes are cool". Amy and River take initiative to stop him from adding this to his accoutrements (which already contains a bowtie) by snatching it off his head, throwing it into the air, and blowing it up. The fez has now reached invokedMemetic Mutation levels, both in the show and fandom. It has become the Doctor's ongoing battle to try and keep a fez. He even steals one from Einstein. In "The Impossible Astronaut", he turns up in America wearing a Stetson (which makes additional appearances later on), only to have River Song shoot it off his head. Top hats, a pirate captain hat and a bowler hat have also made their way onto his head note .
    • Dodo was also spotted sometimes wearing a fetching '60's style cap.
    • Not one to be outdone in the fashion department, Romana sported at least four (if you count "Shada"). Not counting the awful Burberry one from "The Stones of Blood" that today screams uncool, there's "The Androids of Tara", "City of Death", "Shada" and the time she wore the entire Fourth Doctor get-up.
    • Though they're all tame compared to what most Time Lords wear.
    • During the Fourth Doctor's time, we were introduced to the White Guardian and the Black Guardian, who wore surprisingly tasteful headgear made from birds. (A white dove and a black raven, presumably.)
    • Samson wears a variant New York Yankees cap throughout "In the Forest of the Night".
  • Silicon Snarker: K-9 is often quick with a sarcastic remark when dealing with any incarnation of The Doctor.
  • Silly Prayer: An episode begins with Amelia "Amy" Pond as a child, praying to Santa to fix a crack in her bedroom wall.
  • Silly Reason for War: The Sontarans have been at war with the Rutons for thousands of years. But they've been at war so long, that they actually enjoy it, to the point that they have no other reason to live for. So if the war ever did end, they would just go and start one with some random other race for no reason at all.
  • Silver Spoon Troublemaker: Lady Christina. She takes pride in the fact that she is royalty and only does the burglary thing for kicks.
  • Single-Precept Religion: The show features the Silence, which is basically a vast secret that features one single solitary belief: that "Silence will fall when the question, "Doctor Who?", is asked". That's it. Why do they call it a religion? No idea. Later episodes showed that the Silence were actually a splinter sect of the Papal Mainframe that became obsessed with that one line.
  • Skeleton Key: The Doctor's sonic screwdriver often acts as one of these.
  • Sleeping Single: Evidently either the Doctor or the TARDIS wanted Amy and Rory sleeping this way, despite being a married couple. This was rectified after "The Doctor's Wife"
    The Doctor: I should put you in a new bedroom; you'd like that, wouldn't you?
    (Rory and Amy have a whispered discussion)
    Amy: OK, Doctor, this time can we lose the bunk beds?
  • Smash Cut:
    • Happens at the end of "Revelation of the Daleks", when the Doctor is telling Peri where he'll take her for some peace and tranquillity. "I'll take you to-" (closing credits).
    • Lampshaded rather sinisterly in the later episode "Forest of the Dead" where Donna apparently lives in a computer-generated television reality, where these cuts actually happen with nothing in between.
    Dr Moon (walking with Donna in her front garden): Shall we go down to the river?
    They're suddenly by the river.
    Donna: You said 'river' and suddenly we're feeding ducks.
    • In "Time Heist", when the Doctor picks up the TARDIS phone, the scene suddenly cuts to himself, Clara and two strangers all holding memory worms.
  • Smorgasbord Test: In "The Eleventh Hour", a girl named Amelia meets a strange alien creature (the Doctor) in her back garden. He's hungry, so she offers him an apple, then yoghurt, then bacon, then baked beans, then bread and butter — all of which he tastes, then violently rejects — before discovering that he likes fish fingers in custard.
  • The Smurfette Principle: Because the Doctor has historically usually been male, writers tend to balance him out by having a female companion. Extra companions will occasionally be brought on, but their gender is completely random. Examples of multi-companion crews have been:
    • First Doctor; 50/50 for the first while. There was the Doctor and Ian, plus Barbara and Susan.
    • Second Doctor: Two or three men (The Doctor, Ben, and Jamie; later, just the Doctor and Jamie) and one woman (Polly, then Victoria, then Zoë).
    • The third Doctor was a bit of an odd case. Set on Earth, in a male dominated military organisation, there were mostly guys around. Main cast members, however, were the Doctor, The Brigadier, Harry Sullivan, and Sergeant Benton, with Sarah-Jane Smith, Dr. Liz Shaw and Jo filling in the female roles.
    • Fourth Doctor companions were Sarah Jane Smith, fellow Time Lady Romana, Leela, Tegan the air-hostess, with the guys being Adric and the robot-dog K9.
    • The Fifth Doctor again had a string of mostly female companions, such as Peri and Tegan. There were guys, however, such as Adric, Turlough and the robot Kamelion.
    • The Seventh's Doctor only permanent companion was Ace.
    • For the majority of Nine's run Rose Tyler was the only companion, although the very popular Captain Jack Harkness came on near the end. By the end of the Russel T. Davies era all the companions from the period came back, including Martha Jones, Donna Noble, Sarah Jane Smith and Jackie Tyler for the girls, with the guys including Jack and Mickey.
    • The Eleventh's Team TARDIS could be considered 50/50, so far: You've got the Doctor and Rory, but also Amy and River. However, since Clara's introduction this is actually in the favour of females, until the Twelfth Doctor was introduced which returned it to 50/50.
    • The Thirteenth Doctor is the first incarnation to be female, but the structure of her first team is 50/50, with one female companion (Yazmin Khan) and two male companions (Graham O'Brian and Ryan Sinclair). Later became inverted when Graham and Ryan left, leaving new companion Dan as the only male in the main cast.
  • Space "X": Surprisingly, one manages to slip in despite the show usually being rather good about avoiding this trope. In "The Big Bang", when the Doctor is watching his life being undone, he sees himself and Amy prepare to go to Space Florida.
    • Lampshaded in "Sleep No More" when the Doctor chides Clara for using a Space X term, only for him to use one himself ("Space Glasgow") in "Hell Bent".
  • Space Whale Aesop: Several here and there. For example, "Use clean, renewable fuels, because sometimes the thing you're using for fuel is sentient, angry and capable of possessing you." — which has been the Aesop of more than one episode.
    • Notably there was an episode with a space whale Aesop involving an actual space whale.
  • Speaks Fluent Animal: From cats to dinosaurs, this has become a recurring gag involving the modern-era Doctor.
  • Special Effect Branding: Whatever may have happened in the old days, "The Christmas Invasion" raised some loud arguments in fandom because the Sycorax and "Pilotfish" used the same visual effect for their teleports. The plot thickened somewhat when the "pilotfish" returned for "The Runaway Bride" and were revealed to have nothing whatever to do with the Sycorax.
    • Also, there was a spoiler for "Doomsday" in the trailer for "Army of Ghosts": a brief clip of action from the second episode was inserted instead, and it contained the distinctive Dalek gun effect and sound, revealing the shock appearance of the Daleks at the end of Army of Ghosts.
  • Spectacular Spinning:
    • The Eleventh Doctor's second control room has a lot of neat spinny bits - lights around the room, rings above and below the console, and probably more.
    • The TARDIS tends to spin while travelling through the Time Vortex or flying in space, particularly in the revived series.
  • Speculative Fiction LGBT:
    • The Time Lords are an all-bisexual and non-binary race, as they can regenerate into the opposite sex.
    • Madame Vastra and Jenny, an ancient reptilian warrior and a Victorian maid who are married. They solve strange, unusual crimes in Victorian London, sometimes assisting the Doctor.
    • Bill Potts, the lesbian companion of the Doctor's, with revelations of her sexuality happening in every other episode, and being a plot point in a few, as well as leading to discussions of views on sexuality with a Roman Legion. The only negative thing that happened to her because of her sexuality was that her date freaked out when the Pope walked out of her bed room in an angry huff. This incident was actually in a Lotus-Eater Machine so didn't actually happen. When Bill tells her date about this, the date actually laughs at the whole situations... and then UNIT agents raid Bill's apartment. Bill's sexuality is particularly significant in the first episode she features in, where her attraction to a female student is what causes her to end up travelling with the Doctor.
    • Ace, one of the Seventh Doctor's companions. Though they couldn't be open about it at the time, later sources confirmed she was into girls.
    • Captain Jack Harkness, an Extreme Omnisexual from the future.
  • Spell My Name with a "The": Almost all outlaw Time Lords do this. The TV show has the Doctor, the Monk, the Master, and the Rani, and in dialogue references only the Corsair, and the Expanded Universe adds a few others.
  • Spinning Out of Here: The TARDIS spins as it flies through the Time Vortex.
  • Spoiler: River Song's mantra is "Spoilers, sweetie!"
    • Many real-life scenarios also touch on this trope with regards to the series:
    • In most cases, especially in the UK, there is heavy media coverage whenever an actor decides to leave the role of the Doctor, and a new actor is chosen. This renders it near-impossible for someone to not be spoiled that such a change is coming.
    • Russell T. Davies attempted to keep the departure of Christopher Eccleston and the Ninth Doctor's regeneration at the end of Series 1 a secret, but the news got out shortly after the first episode aired. (Technically, The BBC broke the news in a press release, but according to some accounts their hand was forced by a discovery that it had already been leaked to the tabloids.)
    • Incredibly, the early-bird debut of Jenna Coleman in 2012's "Asylum of the Daleks" was successfully kept secret despite the episode having several preview screenings.
    • In 2013, several Doctor Who fan websites went to extraordinary lengths to protect those attempting to remain unspoiled regarding the identity of the actor chosen to play the Twelfth Doctor (or even that there is to be a Twelfth Doctor); a losing battle considering the news received saturation coverage worldwide.
    • Following the Eccleston debacle, Russell T Davies began a policy of releasing incomplete episodes to media for advance review, which allowed certain events, such as, a surprise cameo by Rose Tyler in the episode "Partners in Crime" to go unspoiled.
    • Similarly, his successor Steven Moffat edited out the appearance of John Hurt from "The Name of the Doctor" from review copies to protect the surprise ending. Moffat has also had great success in preventing spoilers by simply asking politely that fans not reveal the information; in particular, Clara's appearance in "Asylum of the Daleks", and at the 2013 San Diego ComicCon trailers for the 50th anniversary special and the behind-the-scenes docudrama An Adventure in Space and Time were shown, but after Moffat requested the fans not record them and post them on YouTube (under pain of there being no further exclusives shown at ComicCon), amazingly everyone in the room complied.
    • Shortly before the Twelfth Doctor premiered. The scripts for the first few episodes had been leaked. This pissed Moffat off, in which he heavily encouraged the show's fans, to ignore the leaks as well as not spread them. Basically giving the "If you truly respect the show and what we do" speech.
  • Spoiler Title: Not the series overall, but several stories, particularly classic serials. For example, "Destiny of the Daleks" starts with the Doctor feeling like he has been to this planet before (it's Skaro), and the episode seems to treat the presence of Daleks as a revelation.
  • Squaring the Love Triangle: The Doctor/Amy/Rory love triangle being resolved in favour of Rory/Amy and their daughter with the Doctor.
    • Notable in that, due to the wonders of time-travel, River was established as a recurring character and potential love interest long before the revelation that she's related to the Ponds.
  • Stable Time Loop:
    • In the Third Doctor serial "Day of the Daleks", humans from the future attempt to blow up UNIT headquarters to prevent someone from bombing a ministerial-level conference to be held there, starting World War III and allowing the Daleks to invade. As it turns out, it is their bomb that they are trying to prevent.
    • There's also "City of Death", in which an alien whose mind was split several ways across time after his space-ship landed on Earth and exploded. His past selves hid various treasures to be found by his future selves (including multiple copies of The Mona Lisa!), which were to be sold off and used to get the materials to create a time machine so he could go back and prevent the explosion — something The Doctor might have helped with had he not discovered that the same explosion was the "lightning bolt" that stirred up the primordial soup to begin creating life on Earth...
    • The Fifth Doctor story "Earthshock" also is an example. A human ship is sent back in time and causes the extinction of the dinosaurs, the dominance of Homo sapiens and the creation of the ship. It also kills Adric. So, really a win-win situation.
    • "The Curse of Fenric" reveals that Ace only exists as the result of a stable time loop: she befriends her grandmother as a young woman, and when disaster strikes sends her to a specific address in London with Ace's infant mother.
    • In Series 1 of the revival, The Doctor and Rose are followed everywhere by the words "Bad Wolf" — in "the final episode", Rose saves The Doctor's life and uses the time-bending power of the TARDIS to deposit the words in the past, in order to inspire her to go forward into the future and save The Doctor's life, which ends in her putting the words into the past, etc., etc. This also crops up a few times in Series 2 & 3 (since the words were placed all over time and space, there's no reason for them to stop showing up just because they're not needed anymore), and more times than you can shake a TARDIS key at in the Ten/Rose Expanded Universe novel The Stone Rose. The phrase also turns at the cliffhanger of the Series 4 episode "Turn Left" (with all written words, from the Doctor's point of view being replaced with "Bad Wolf" — even the TARDIS' signage), in which it heralds Rose crossing over back into the main universe.
    • "The Shakespeare Code" is a minor example — the Doctor quotes lines from Shakespeare's works to the man himself. Some of them he recognises, but some of them he hasn't got around to writing yet.

      This is fairly common in the Historical Domain Character episodes. Donna gives Agatha Christie the ideas for Miss Marple and Murder on the Orient Express in The Unicorn and the Wasp; Amy inspires Vincent van Gogh to paint his famous painting of sunflowers in Vincent and the Doctor.
    • The episode "Blink" also repeatedly uses it. At one point, the Doctor pre-records his half of a conversation with another character; when the other character has the conversation, it's written down, and the Doctor works off it to record his half. Also, his half is recorded as an easter egg on 17 specific DVDs; when the Doctor tells a video executive which discs to put the recording on, he's working from a list someone in the future made of DVDs that have the video on them.
    Sally: "You're reading from the transcript of a conversation you're still having?"
    • Also used "for cheap tricks" (his words) in "Smith and Jones"; when Martha first meets the Doctor, he stops in front of her on the street, takes off his tie, and walks off. When they meet at the hospital again, the Doctor can't ever recall meeting her. At the end of the episode, he goes back in time and takes his tie off in front of Martha in order to prove that the TARDIS is a time machine.
    • Used in the canonical special "Time Crash", where the Fifth Doctor is brought forward in time and meets the Tenth. A problem develops which the Tenth Doctor instantly solves, working from his memory of when he was the Fifth Doctor in this very situation, watching his future self solve it. In fairness, this was playing for laughs, and (unlike the Pandorica example) the problem could have been easily solved some other way if the writer hadn't chosen to be cute.
    Fifth Doctor: "You only knew what to do because you remembered being me watching you doing it."
    Tenth Doctor: "Wibbly-wobbly"
    Fifth & Tenth Doctor: "Timey-Wimey"
    • Is abused in "The Big Bang", in which the Doctor is rescued from the Pandorica by Rory wielding the Doctor's own sonic screwdriver, given to him by the Doctor in the future after Rory rescues him. The Doctor then goes on to plant hints for Amelia to follow to resurrect her future self.

      This episode also features possibly the most pointless stable time loop ever conceived. Young Amelia is thirsty, so the Doctor jumps back in time several hours and steals a drink. He then returns to the present and gives the drink to her. The reason she's thirsty in the first place is that a few hours ago someone stole her drink.

      Given that Steven Moffat frequently writes in lines that poke fun at Dr Who tropes (Curse of Fatal Death is a long string of these!) this drink-loop is probably employed as an in-joke at how much the trope is being abused in this episode. In fairness though, they do acknowledge it on screen in this episode (and again in The Impossible Astronaut) that they're only able to do all this time-looping because the universe is collapsing.
    • In "Time", the second part of the 2011 Red Nose Day comedy special, we get three of these in as many minutes, two of which play this trope straight (Amy doesn't understand what her future self said, but still says it herself, even though the Doctor doesn't even explain it to her, and the Doctor waits for his future self to tell him which lever to use despite having no idea despite the time loop being a few seconds long) and the third of which justifies it:
      Present Rory: Do I have to remember all of that?
      Future Rory: It just sort of happens.
      Present Amy, flirtatiously: Hi.
      Future Amy, flirtatiously: Hi.
    • As of "A Good Man Goes To War", the Doctor's name turns out to be one of these. The meaning of the word was apparently already established when he chose it, but due to centuries of crosstime adventuring, it turns out 'doctor' means healer because of him. However, in some places, it means 'mighty warrior' because of him.
    • River Song's whole existence is a series of these. She is named after herself (twice!), she is directly responsible for her parents hooking up, she's indirectly responsible for her being conceived in the TARDIS, etc. In "Forest of the Dead" the Doctor manages to save her imprinted memory, because he figured his future-self wouldn't leave her to die, and his future-self, knowing that he didn't, thus created a way to save her...
      • In "Let's Kill Hitler", Amy and Rory make a crop circle as a dramatic gesture to leave a message in time to get the Doctor's attention. They were most likely inspired by River Song's various messages to the Doctor previously in the series. However, it turns out that their best friend Mels is River, and this is her first time meeting him as an adult. So this incident is probably where she got the idea for leaving unusual messages like this.
      • Heck, River's whole life is a giant time-loop! She only starting using her signature catch-phrase of "Spoilers!" after the Doctor used it on her the first time, having heard her use it a half dozen (or more) times before.
    • It was revealed that Clara's life is consumed by this. She enters the Doctor's time-stream in order to save him, making her show up numerous times in his past. After him meeting her in "Asylum of the Daleks" and "The Snowmen", he becomes curious about what is going on and finds her in "The Bells of Saint John", which leads to her travelling with the Doctor, and eventually ending up on Trenzalore with him with the opportunity to save him by jumping into his time stream. She says that she's not afraid to do it even though she knows she'll die because she's already done it—he already met her at the Dalek asylum and in Victorian London. This is despite the fact that the stars are going out and Strax is turning homicidal again, making this possibly the single most confusing example of time travel in the entire series.
    • The Twelfth Doctor helps save Gallifrey in "The Day of the Doctor", and he was only able to exist due to the Time Lords changing history by giving the 11th Doctor a new regeneration cycle.
    • "The Time of the Doctor" reveals that most of the Eleventh Doctor's run was one of these. The Church of the Silence (among other powers) besieges the Doctor on Trenzalore in order to stop him from using a crack in reality to bring back the Time Lords. After a few centuries of this, Madame Kovarian's branch of the Silence breaks away and goes back in time to try and kill the Doctor before he ever reaches Trenzalore, setting the events of Series 5 and 6 into motion. But, their attempt to blow up the TARDIS just creates the cracks that pose such a threat, and their creation of River Song to assassinate the Doctor just results in her saving his life multiple times, which means he lives long enough to get to Trenzalore to begin with. The irony is lampshaded by the Doctor when he pieces it all together.
    • In "Time Heist", it turns out the Doctor was hired by the future version of Madame Karabraxos, to free the Teller.
    • Steven Moffat's general love of the trope has led to the Series 8 cast in particular referring it to as "the Moffat Loop".
  • Standard Power-Up Pose: This is how the Doctor regenerates from 9 to 10, and also how the Master regenerates from Derek Jacobi to John Simm, and Melody Pond regenerates into Alex Kingston.
  • Star-Crossed Lovers: The Ninth/Tenth Doctor and Rose.
  • Starfish Aliens: Despite the improbably large number of Human Aliens, the show also has its fair share of Starfish Aliens.
    • The TARDIS herself, a multi-dimensional being of near-godlike power who zips around the time-space continuum whilst disguised as an old-fashioned British police box. Her entire species appears to be cyborgs, raised from coral, able to make psychic links with their users, communicate not in words but feelings, and have their senses distributed throughout the fourth dimension.
    • The Daleks are basically brains with tentacles living inside Powered Armour that resembles floating pepper shakers. Especially the Imperial Daleks, who, amongst other things, had two brains, an exposed spine, and had their organs in a separate chamber. Here, have a look.
    • The Fendahl from "Image of the Fendahl": a hive-like, partially noncorporeal alien which included a possessed skull, a floating golden woman and invisible life-sucking slug things amongst its aspects. Other particularly bizarre aliens include the Rutans (glowing tentacled blobs, first seen in "Horror of Fang Rock") and the Ogri from "The Stones of Blood" (a giant mobile rock that makes a constant heartbeat-like noise).
    • The Weeping Angels look like Living Statues, but it turns out they're weirder. They're only statues when you're looking at them, feed on abstract concepts, any image of them is them (because their image is their power), and reproduce by infecting regular statues.
    • Whatever they were dealing with in "Midnight": on a planet that cannot support life as we know it, a tourist gets possessed by something that acquires language skills by repeating other people, until it speaks at the same time as them, then before.
    • "The Eleventh Hour" gives us the Atraxi. They resemble large eyeballs fixed at the centre of a large, crystalline web, and are able to travel through space without any trouble. They have incredibly deep, scratchy voices, the ability to hack into electronics, and they hold their prisoners in alternate dimensions. Now that's an alien police force!
    • The House from "The Doctor's Wife". It's an extrauniversal Genius Loci the size of an asteroid that eats TARDISes.
    • "Flatline" has two dimensional aliens, who are so bizarre even the Time Lords only theorised they could exist, have a language so incomprehensible not even the TARDIS can translate it, and gain power by absorbing extra dimensions. The Doctor speculates that they don't understand humans need three dimensions to live and are killing people unintentionally (citing his previous experience with other Starfish Aliens like sentient gas that throw fireballs for fun, and creatures with sixteen stomachs that disembowel each other as a greeting), but the episode never established whether or not they're Non Malicious Monsters.
    • In "In the Forest of the Night", the trees were created by dust-like creatures which have lived as long as the Earth and can spontaneously grow entire trees worldwide in one night.
  • The Starscream:
    • The Daleks have repeatedly turned against and overthrown their creator, Davros, only to come crawling back when they are weak, because he is smarter than them. Not smart enough to have realized that when he created a race that thinks they are superior to everyone, that would include himself, though. Subverted Trope in the 2005 revival episode "The Stolen Earth"; the Daleks don't even pretend to respect him this time, and are keeping him as a "pet".
    • This has been directed at them. In "The Daleks Master Plan" Mavic Chen is working with the Daleks but plans to overthrow them, though the Daleks exterminate him when You Have Outlived Your Usefulness. Similarly the Master in "Frontier in Space" plans to do this to the Daleks.
    • In "The War Games" the War Chief plans to overthrow the War Lord. He is Rewarded as a Traitor Deserves.
  • State Sec:
    • Lengthy serial "The Daleks' Master Plan" has Space Security. Although human, and opposing the Daleks and their evil plan, these black-clad paramilitary agents of the year 4000 execute people at the drop of a hat (one even kills her own brother simply because she's been ordered to). Notable for the presence of Nicholas Courtney (who went on to play The Brigadier, as well as the fascist "Brigade Leader" in an alternative universe in "Inferno"). Ironically, Space Security were to be the heroes of the never-made spin-off series Daleks.
    • Another SS-like force are the Kaled guards led by Security Commander Nyder in "Genesis of the Daleks".
  • Station Ident: For Christmas 2009, BBC One had a specially-filmed Doctor Who ident (following the special Wallace & Gromit idents for Christmas 2008). Watch it here.
  • Stellar Station: In the episode "42", a spaceship refuels itself by getting really close to a sun and scooping up bits of it. Too bad the sun is alive, and retaliates by possessing the crew members and trying to crash the spaceship into itself.
  • Stompy Mooks: The Cybermen are a great example of this trope. It's even Lampshaded in "The Next Doctor" .
  • A Storm Is Coming: The Doctor is considered this In-Universe. In the ancient legends of the Daleks, the Doctor is literally referred to as "The Oncoming Storm".
  • The Story That Never Was:
    • In "Father's Day", the Doctor takes Rose Tyler back to the day where her father, Pete, was killed so she could share one last moment with him just before he dies. However Rose disobeys the Doctor and saves her father's life by pushing him out of the way of the car that would kill him. As this was a fixed point in time, changing it causes catastrophic events on the world with the Reapers of Time being released to deal with the paradox. Ultimately, the one way to fix the anomaly is to have Pete relive the event that was changed and get hit by the car that would have killed him. Accepting his fate as the only way to restore time, Pete walks in front of the car and gets killed, erasing all of the alternate timeline that occurred due to the paradox (though there were some differences that stuck like the driver sticking around rather than driving straight off and Rose going to comfort Pete as he dies).
    • "Turn Left" is mostly set in an alternate timeline where Donna never saved The Doctor's life and where the events that followed resulted in all of the eventual Children of Time, except Donna and Rose, being killed in the other invasions that occured since and London being destroyed by the Titanic. In the end, Donna is sent back in time to ensure that the timeline where she does meet The Doctor plays out and the Bad Future is erased as a result.
    • In "Journey to the Centre of the TARDIS", the TARDIS takes damage from a salvaging ship's magnetic cobble field. This causes all sorts of problems including Clara being trapped inside, moments from time seeping out, and zombie creatures roaming about the ship. Then to top it all off the TARDIS core is revealed to have hit critical and will eventually explode, with the zombie creatures revealed to be future versions of the TARDIS crew who had their flesh burned up and melted by the TARDIS. The Doctor eventually figures out the one way to repair the damage is to prevent the entire day from happening to begin with, which he does so by reaching through one of the tears in time to the point where the TARDIS got caught in the field and passes his past self the button to turn off the magnetic field, effectively erasing the entire day.
    • In the two-parter finale of Series 3 of the revival. The Master had succeeded in taking control over the entire world, trapping the Doctor in a rapid ageing state, and Martha Jones on the run on the ground. The Master accomplished this by using a psychic Mind-Control Device to gradually work his way into being elected Prime Minister of Britain, before using an army of Toclafane (cyborg future human he had transported to the present) to cease control of the whole world. The Master would spend a year having his army gradually killing off the population of Earth, which was a Temporal Paradox since they were killing their ancestors. This is only made possible due to the Master turning the Doctor's TARDIS into a paradox machine. The Doctor ultimately manages to defeat the Master, by having Martha travel the Earth to every human survivor (linked with the Master's psychic device) and have them all think his name in unison, allowing the psychic energies to be granted to him. Once the Master is out of the way, the paradox machine is destroyed, causing the entire year of the Master's reign to reset back to before the paradox machine was activated. Only the select few people present near the machine retained memories of the year, while the rest of the population of the Earth were unaware of it occurring. This year came to be known as "The Year That Never Was".
  • Stranded Invader:
    • In "Terror of the Zygons", the titular Zygon ship crashed on earth several hundred years earlier. Unable to fix their ship with earth's primitive technology the Zygon crew were initially content to hide out until a rescue emerged, but upon making contact with their race discovered their home planet had been destroyed. Thus they decided to wipe out humanity and thus make the earth a suitable new home for their race.
    • Blon Fel Fotch Passmeer Day Slitheen had spent so much time living on Earth as a human that, as The Doctor points out, she's forgotten that there was a woman named Margaret Blaine whom she killed and impersonated, wearing the dead woman's skin as her own. It's a bit of an aversion, though, as while she no longer wants to destroy the Earth for starship fuel, she's perfectly willing to trigger an Earth-Shattering Kaboom in order to use a piece of Sufficiently Advanced Technology to coast home on the shockwave.
  • Strictly Formula: In the revived series, each time a new main companion is introduced, her first three episodes follow the same formula. The first episode is always set on contemporary Earth and deals with an alien threat to humanity. With the second and third episode, one of them is set in the far future, typically showing humans living on some other planet, and the other is set in Europe's past, depicting well-known historical events and/or figures.
  • Stuff Blowing Up:
    • Things have a distinct tendency to explode around the Doctor - and by "things", we mean anything from computers to entire planets. He's actually disappointed when a car doesn't blow up in "The Sontaran Stratagem". His companions are generally there to help minimise collateral damage, but Ace bucked the trend by bringing her own supply of home-made explosives (Nitro-9) on her travels. The Doctor tended to discourage this... except when it was useful to him ("Hand me some of that Nitro-9 you're not carrying").
    • Naturally, this was lampshaded on occasion, like this scene from "The Pirate Planet":
    Romana: What about the Bridge and the time dams?
    Doctor: Bridge and time dams, K9?
    K9: Piece of cake, master. Blow them up.
    Romana: Isn't that a bit crude?
    Doctor: Well - it's a bit crude, but immensely satisfying.
    • In the surviving footage from "The Evil of the Daleks" episode 7, there is an explosion every few seconds. Shortly before the clip cuts out, a Dalek goes bang.
    • Despite having a single series of only thirteen episodes, the Ninth Doctor caused a lot of explosions in his short run. Blows up a department store, bombs Downing Street (well, okay, that last one was Mickey, but the Doctor gave him the code to do so), allows a medium to blow up a house on top of the Rift, overheats the Mighty Jagrafess, destroyed the weapons factory at Villengard (offscreen) and visited Krakatoa (offscreen). As Rose so accurately lampshades in "The Doctor Dances", one of the Ninth Doctor's defining traits is that he really loves to blow thing up.
    Rose: First day I met him, he blew my job up! That's practically how he communicates.
  • Stupid Sacrifice: Utterly Defied in "Flatline", when Rigsy jumps on a train to ram the Monster of the Week and Clara follows him.:
    Clara: Er, what are you doing?
    Rigsy: I'm going to ram them, buy you some time.
    Clara: You'll die.
    Rigsy: Yeah, course I'll die. Now go!
    Clara: Well, why'd you want to do that?
    Rigsy: Just go, okay? Let me do this.
    Clara: Okay, fine, yeah. And I'll always remember you.
    Rigsy: Fine. Great.
    Clara: 'Cos I was just going to do this.
    *She uses a hair band to keep the driving handle pulled*
    Clara: No driver required. And I really like that hair band, but I suppose I'll just take it, will I? And every time I look at it, I'll remember the hero who died to save it. Come on. You're not getting off that lightly. There's work that needs doing.
    • The above becomes utterly and tragically invokedHarsher in Hindsight when Clara and Rigsy next meet in "Face the Raven" when Clara finds herself engaged in a fatal stupid sacrifice.
  • Sucks at Dancing: The Doctor. His eleventh incarnation is the standout example, showcasing a rather ridiculous attempt at dancing at the end of "The Big Bang"
  • Sufficiently Advanced Aliens: A lot of seemingly-magical happenings in the show are actually the work of some obscure piece of alien technology or evolutionary ability. The Time Lords themselves are pretty much this to the people of Earth, being ageless and basically god-like masters of time and space.
  • Super Cell Reception: Using the Sonic Screwdriver and some alien tech, the Doctor can upgrade any phone to receive and make calls to anywhere in space and time. Without any special dialling code or anything. It's implied in A Good Man Goes to War that the phone calls are routed through the TARDIS, which may help to explain why it's feasible.
  • Superman Stays Out of Gotham:
    • The Doctor has appeared in The Sarah Jane Adventures twice, but there really isn't much justification for why he leaves saving the world in all the other episodes up to a middle-aged woman and a bunch of kids.
    • Torchwood, a series in which the Doctor has never appeared, sort-of lampshaded it when Gwen wonders if the Doctor is looking down on the Earth in shame. The absence of the Doctor from some of the Torchwood events, in particular those shown in the Children of Earth and Miracle Day seasons, both of which are literally Earth-changing, is very noticeable. The parent series, however, preemptively handwaved this by establishing the "fixed point in time" concept — that there are some events that must occur in a planet's history, and as such the Doctor cannot interfere or allow himself to become involved in them. Presumably the events of those two storylines qualify (that, or the Doctor is very confident in Captain Jack and his team).
  • Survival Through Self-Sacrifice: In "Empress of Mars", Colonel Godsacre negotiates an end to hostility between the Humans and the Ice Warriors by offering Empress Iraxxa the right to execute him if she will spare the lives of his men. Impressed by his sense of duty, Iraxxa tells Godsacre that he "will die with bravery and honour...but not today", and that she wants to recruit him into her own army instead of killing him.
  • Swirly Energy Thingy: The Time Vortex.