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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


  • Talkative Loon: One of the possible temporary side effects of a Time Lord's regeneration, as evidenced by the Fourth, Seventh, Tenth, and Eleventh Doctors, as well as the Master's only on-screen regeneration.
  • Talking Lightbulb: Most famously true of the Daleks, whose paired dome-lights flicker as they speak. Also seen in Ood slaves, who carry light-up globes that facilitate their communication with humans.
  • Take That!/Self-Deprecation: Any time two or more incarnations of the Doctor meet, it's a safe bet they'll have something snarky to say about one another's looks or attitude ("A dandy and a clown?", as the First memorably greets the Third and Second, to their faces). Counts as a Take That! between the actors and Self-Deprecation for the character.
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    • When Ten met Five, Ten kept snarking about Five's celery lapel while Five kept treating Ten like a lunatic.
    • When the Ganger!Doctor's personality briefly reverted through previous incarnations, he channeled the Tenth's voice for a few seconds, before quickly reasserting control with "Nooo! Let it go! We've MOVED ON!"
    • The War Doctor lampshades a bunch of issues that some fans of the classic era feel about the revival era. Such as overuse of Sonic Screwdrivers and waving them around like weapons, calling the phrase Wibbly-Wobbly-Timey-Wimey "Childish" (Despite the Fifth Doctor was shown to have known it upon meeting the Tenth) and complaining that 10 and 11 look much too young.
  • Teeth-Clenched Teamwork: Despite being on the same side, the Doctor and UNIT fall into this. It varies on the incarnation, but the Doctor generally disapproves of their military tactics i.e. "shoot first ask later", while UNIT barely tolerates his arrogant attitude. It was especially prominent in the Russell T. Davies era where UNIT's increased aggression (in the name of Homeworld Security) was met with nothing less than hatred by the Doctor (Torchwood shows them in an even darker light, just ask Tosh). The Steven Moffat era reconciled them, but UNIT was still willing to go extreme measures (like nuking London to save the rest of the world from an alien invasion. And they have a tendency to kidnap the Doctor since to ensure his cooperation, whenever they can find the TARDIS.
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  • Temporal Mutability: All over the place, depending largely on Rule of Drama. The revival has introduced both "fixed points in time" where the Doctor knows exactly what has to happen, and "grey" moments where not even they can tell what's coming.
  • Tempting Fate:
    • "Dalek":
      A soldier asks of the Dalek, whom he believes is disabled: "What, are you going to sucker me to death?". The Dalek promptly crushes his skull with its plunger arm.
      "I think I know how to fight one single tin robot."
    • From "Boom Town": "Cardiff, early twenty-first century, winds coming from the... east. Trust me, safest place in the universe." Then the Doctor finds out there's a Slitheen plotting to blow the place up with a faulty nuclear power plant.
    • Meanwhile, in "The Impossible Planet":
      Ida: We've come this far. There's no turning back.
      Doctor: Oh, did you have to? No turning back? That's almost as bad as "nothing can possibly go wrong" or "this is gonna be the best Christmas Walford's ever had!"
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    • In the Christmas special "Voyage of the Damned", the villain tries to tempt fate by naming the interstellar cruise liner he means to scuttle the Titanic. It doesn't work nearly as well as he'd hoped, mainly thanks to the Doctor.
    • And perhaps the most blatant and extreme example in "Midnight":
    The Doctor: Stuck in a big space bus with a bunch of strangers on a diamond planet called Midnight? What could possibly go wrong?
  • The "The" Title: Prevalent throughout the show's run, though markedly less so in the Fifth Doctor's era in particular. During the Second Doctor era, only "Fury from the Deep" did not start with "The", and even its working title was "The Colony of Devils".
  • Theme Naming: After series 4, companions had a tendency to be named after bodies of water. Jackson Lake, River Song, Amy Pond, Adelaide Brooke...
  • There Is No Kill Like Overkill: This strangely seems to be the case with Time Lords and weapons. They have Frickin' Laser Beams... and everything else in their arsenal is a Doomsday Device, with absolutely no middle ground; which is probably why the Time War became so messy. Since they were fighting a horde of Daleks, they could either engage in a conventional war of attrition or else tear the universe apart. That was actually Rassilon's planned endgame to win the war — destroy the universe and Ascend to a Higher Plane of Existence.
  • This Banana is Armed: "Pssh, what could a screwdriver do?" is a pretty common reaction at first. But did we mention it's sonic?
  • Three-Dimensional Episode: Both the non-canon 30th anniversary special, "Dimensions in Time", and the 50th anniversary special "The Day of the Doctor".
  • Threesome Subtext: Pretty much any time the Doctor has two companions (especially in the new series), this comes up. Favorites include Two-Jamie-Zoe (Sleep Cute), Nine-Rose-Jack (plenty of flirting, all three pairings kiss in their last episode) and Eleven-Amy-Rory (the Doctor resolves the love triangle issue by matchmaking them and whisking them both off after their wedding - then he marries their daughter, which complicates things...)
  • Time Paradox: Happens often. So much so that in the newer series, there exists a thing called a Paradox Machine which prevents time from healing itself in the face of a temporal contradiction. So, for example, you could kill your own grandfather and the Paradox Machine would ensure that nothing happened to you.
  • Time-Travel Tense Trouble: Inevitable, given the Doctor's constant travels through time.
  • Timey-Wimey Ball: The trope namer and probably the biggest source, just by sheer weight of history (no pun intended).
  • Title Drop:
    • Used fairly straight the first time in "An Unearthly Child", where the Doctor had no clue who "Dr. Foreman" was supposed to be, and mostly used as an in-joke since.
    • And sometimes when he does. In "The Gunfighters", he introduced himself with a very long, muttered name, provoking the response "Doctor who?"
      The Doctor: Precisely.
    • Because the title can be used as a question, the title can be dropped every time the Doctor meets someone new and doesn't use an alias. Subverted in "Rose":
      The Doctor: I'm the Doctor.
      Rose: Doctor what?
    • Subverted in the same way in "The Lazarus Experiment".
    • Now elevated to more than just a Running Gag and in-joke after "The Wedding of River Song". "Doctor who?" is now the oldest question in the universe, which must never be answered.
    • And now in "Asylum of the Daleks", all the Daleks repeat "Doctor Who?" over and over after they all get Laser-Guided Amnesia.
    • The 2012 Christmas special, "The Snowmen" has the phrase "Doctor who?" used no less than three times, mostly by new companion Clara.
    • Several stories from the original series had their titles shoehorned into the dialogue. Examples include "The Talons of Weng-Chiang", "State of Decay" and "Battlefield".
    • "The Mark of the Rani". Shoehorned in by the Master almost every other scene.
    • The episode "The Long Game" has a belated Title Drop; it ends without any reference to what the title meant at all. Not until the Doctor returns to the same location 100 years later, in "Bad Wolf", does he realise "Someone's been playing a long game." (The title of "Bad Wolf" had, of course already been dropped all over the series.) And of course not mentioning the "Long Game" of the title until a later episode is itself a reference to the concept of the long game.
    • And obviously, there were a few blink-and-you-miss-it Title Drops in "Blink".
    • After the Doctor "defeats" the Dream Lord, Rory title-drops the episode when asked where he wants to go:
      Rory: I'm fine with anywhere. It's Amy's Choice.
    • Dropped by the Dream Lord himself earlier in the same episode.
      Dream Lord: Pick a world, and this nightmare will all be over. They'll listen to you. It's you they're waiting for. Amy's men. Amy's choice.
    • Another Title Drop is in the episode "The God Complex".
      Rita: Why is it up to you to save us? That's quite a god complex you've got there.
    • Exploited perfectly in "The Name of the Doctor", and best of all, not in a way the audience would expect.
      The War Doctor: What I did, I did without choice, in the name of peace and sanity.
      11th Doctor: But not in the name of the Doctor.
    • Close in "Time Heist". "It's not a bank heist; it's a time travel heist."
    • The novel adaptations had "Doctor Who" added to the titles: e.g., "Doctor Who and the Day of the Daleks" and "Doctor Who and the Green Death". This was required so new readers who knew nothing of the show knew what they were getting into, though putting "A Doctor Who Adventure" at the bottom would have probably been a better way of doing it.
  • Tone Shift: The series has undergone recurrent tone shifts over its lifetime, some more extreme than others. The usual tendency is for creators, executives, or the audience to decide that the show has become too grim and horrific, whereupon the creators either get replaced or accept the criticism, and cut down on the violence and Downer Endings in favour of more humour and Everybody Lives. Then a couple of years later people start complaining that the show is too fluffy and juvenile and it heads back in the opposite direction again.
  • Too Dumb to Live:
    • The Daleks have an unfortunate habit of becoming this, particularly when their "VISION IS IMPAIRED!!!". Naturally, as they are unable to see, they will begin shooting wildly, in one case causing the Dalek to destroy itself when in a hall of mirrors in "The Five Doctors", and making for very annoying gameplay in the 2010 Adventure Game, City of the Daleks. Apparently their vision isn't the only thing that is impaired when they are damaged....
    • Lampshaded in "The Stolen Earth". A Dalek's "eye" is blinded, but the Dalek remedies it and says "My vision is not impaired."
    • Then there are the Cybermen who locked the Doctor up in an explosives storage closet... without searching him for items that could be used as a detonator. Guess how he got the door open?
    • Every so often, the Doctor's pacifism sends him into this territory. While his desire to avoid death is understandable, any time he tries to save long-time enemies such as the Daleks, Sontarans and Cyberman just make people want to slap him. He himself admits that they are bred to do nothing but hate and kill, yet he keeps walking up to them and yelling "Let me save you!", often while they're pointing a gun, laser, etc. at his head, usually risking himself, his companion, and the world in the process. Worse still, if you decide that maybe you don't want to do it this way, the Tenth Doctor will see fit to punish you.
    • Once, when the Doctor was carrying out the typical "go towards something you should probably be going away from" version, River Song tells one of her crew to go with him and "pull him out when he's too stupid to live."
  • Took a Level in Badass: The Russell T. Davies era has a recurring theme of the Doctor turning the companions into badasses.
  • Touch Telepathy: The Doctor has on occasion grabbed someone's head to perform something like a mind meld.
    • When he's in a hurry, he can even use headbutt telepathy.
  • Trail of Bread Crumbs:
    • In "Castrovalava", the Fifth Doctor searches the TARDIS for a "Zero Room" to recuperate in after regenerating. As he's still a little potty from the process, he leaves a trail to find his way by ripping off pieces from his clothing. As this included unravelling the Fourth Doctor's iconic scarf, some fans found it rather upsetting.
    • In "In The Forest Of The Night", Maebh drops various items so Clara and the Doctor can find her as she runs to the source of the forest. Hansel and Gretel get a mention.
  • Transformation Is a Free Action: Averted. Whenever possible, the Doctor makes sure to regenerate in a safe place (usually the TARDIS). Even the Master does this - and with good reason, as it's stated to be one of the few sure ways to kill a Time Lord. Five was openly uncertain if he could regenerate while poisoned, and an alternate Ten couldn't survive being crushed under the Thames in "Turn Left". In "The Impossible Astronaut", Eleven uses this to make his faked death that much more convincing.
  • Translation Convention/Translator Microbes: Started as the former, then was justified as the latter.
  • Trapped with Monster Plot: This crops up in many episodes, frequently with reference to Alien. Because the principal narrative device in the series is the TARDIS, which is literally as big inside as the writers want it to be, an easy episode to write is "some monster invades the TARDIS and everyone has to flee it until the Doctor figures out how to defeat it." Many other episodes have the Doctor and his companions trapped in some exotic location with a mysterious and dangerous creature.
  • Troll Fic:
    • The aptly named jo bel nd da dokter hoo' is similarly written to My Immortal. The fic also lampoons the Doctor typically having a young, "hot", female human companion - along with said female companions' tendencies to find the Doctor attractive - by placing in overt, sexual puns:
    doKTEer Who sd. "cum wit mee"
    "Y wuld I cum wth u?' i demandd!111
    "CUZ UR HOT,' da dokter hoo sad.
    "oh thnk u!" I sd, "yur hot 2!111'
    • Whotrek: The Ultimate Adventure 1 starts out as a very badly spelled crossover with Star Trek and a very poor grasp on consistency. In just the first chapter, a group of Klingons attack the Enterprise, only to be defeated, before continuing their attack as if nothing happened just one line later, characters (especially Wesley) tend to die and then show up alive again later with no explanation, and the further the story goes on, the more insane it gets, as it keeps throwing in more and more ludicrous plot-twists (mostly involving "*INSERT CHARACTER HERE* was the Master!") and crossing over with about half a billion different franchises.
  • True Companions: Any companion(s), ever, even if they don't always get along, there's a certain bond. In "Journey's End" they are even given a name: The Children of Time.
    • Also in "Journey's End", the Doctor and all the companions he's ever had up to that point in the revival series - Rose Tyler, Captain Jack Harkness, Martha Jones, Donna Noble, Sarah Jane Smith, Jackie Tyler, and Mickey Smith - pilot the TARDIS together to bring the Earth back home in an intense sequence that has moved many a fan to tears.
    • Among some of the more obvious sets are Nine, Rose, and Jack and Eleven, Rory, and Amy.
    Sarah Jane: You know... you act like such a lonely man. But look at you! You've got the biggest family on Earth!
    • Brought up again in "The Wedding of River Song". After an entire series deconstructing the idea of the Doctor - that he hurts people, that he makes them scared, that he ruins lives, River shows him how all the universe has responded to her call to help him. Not just past companions, but anyone he's ever touched for the good.
    • Eleven considers the Paternoster Row gang - Vastra, Jenny and Strax - to qualify as well, since they were there for him when he needed it after the loss of the Ponds.
    • In "In The Forest Of The Night", Danny ruefully recognises Twelve and Clara are this, when he sees yet again how instantly they spring into action together in response to a threat. Though to be fair, he's been (somewhat) oblivious to her lies and initially thinks she hasn't seen the Doctor in months, whilst the truth had her having seen the Doctor just the Friday before (and the story allegedly takes place on a Tuesday).
    • The regular cast members of Jon Pertwee's run as the Doctor in the early 1970s ended up becoming known as "the UNIT family" (after the organisation many of the characters worked for) precisely because they became incredibly close to one another off-camera. The death of Roger Delgado, who played the Master, in 1974 was one of the key motivating factors behind Pertwee's decision to leave the role.
  • Twisted Christmas: Especially during the Russell T. Davies era, 21st-century Doctor Who's soap influences extended to the Christmas episode being incredibly dark.
    • "The Christmas Invasion" (2005, set in 2006): The Tenth Doctor's first adventure had him spending most of the day going through regenerative sickness, almost being killed by a Christmas tree, and then had his triumphant moment getting rid of the aliens spoiled by Torchwood shooting the alien ship down. And he has a huge falling out with his friend Harriet Jones, Prime Minister, which ends with him getting her sacked, destroying "Britain's Golden Age".
    • "The Runaway Bride" (2006, set in 2007): He had to face an ancient menace called the Racnoss whose offspring wished to gorge on life across the cosmos. Their web-shaped ship was mistaken for a giant decorative Christmas star by Londoners until it started zapping the city with bolts of electricity. This adventure immediately follows the loss of one of the Doctor's dearest companions and features an especially dark moment for him in which he kills a ton of alien babies and almost lets himself die along with them. Oh, and the Thames is drained.
    • "Voyage of the Damned" (2007, set in 2008): He vows to save everyone on the Starship Titanic and fails — in part because the good characters consider saving him a higher priority. Among the casualties is the woman he'd wanted for his next companion]. At least he managed to keep that ship from crashing into the Earth. Beautifully lampshaded as everyone in London knows nasty things have been happening for the past two Christmases, so, this year, practically nobody's in central London for the nasty things to happen.
    • "The Next Doctor" (2008, set in 1851): The Cybermen escaped from the void and ended up in a past era, which the Doctor happens to be visiting. On the other hand that meant GIANT CYBERMAN ROBOT RAMPAGING THOUGH TOKY— ER, VICTORIAN LONDON!
    • "The End of Time" (Christmas 2009/New Year's Day 2010, set Christmas Eve/Christmas Day/Boxing Day 2009): The Master comes back from the dead-ish and transforms every single human being but two into copies of himself while the Time Lords hatch a plan to escape from the Time War. Both villainous sides eventually fail, and the Doctor's regeneration isn't even directly caused by either of them.
    Joshua Naismith: Ladies and gentlemen! It seems help is at hand! Christmas is cancelled.
    • "A Christmas Carol" (Christmas 2010, set some time in the 44th century): Christmas was brought by a galaxy-class cruise liner crashing with Rory and Amy aboard, and the Doctor having to find a way to save them and everyone else aboard. Along the way he was able to save the soul of the old man Kazran who controls the planet's upper atmosphere, but through some very morally grey use of time-travel, and Kazran was forced to see the love of his life die.
    • "The Doctor, the Widow and the Wardrobe" (Christmas 2011, set in World War II and the year 5345) has the Doctor — alone without Amy or Rory, who believe him dead — meet up with a woman who's husband has just be killed, and she hasn't informed her two children yet. And then the four find themselves in a forest of sentient trees about to be wiped out with no chance of escape. [[spoiler: Subverted, since Everyone Lives - the widow saves the trees, taking their souls through the time vortex to live amongst the stars, and in the process accidently saves her husband's life. She then convinces the Doctor to go to Amy and Rory, reveal he is alive, and he joins the pair for Christmas dinner.
    • "The Snowmen" (Christmas 2012, set in 1892): This episode is set immediately after the loss of two of the Doctor's dearest companions, and so the Doctor is too broken to initially do anything about living killer snow and their bitter human accomplice threatening to wipe out mankind. By the time he is convinced to get over it,his prospective new companion Clara falls to her death... but not before uttering the exact same Famous Last Words as Oswin Oswald the Dalek; that, and finding out that her full name was Clara Oswin Oswald after the facts, makes him realize there's something truly odd about Clara that has to be investigated.
    • "The Time of the Doctor" (Christmas 2013, set in 2013 and millenia into the future in Trenzalore) was the Eleventh Doctor's "regeneration" episode, so it was bound to turn on the waterworks, without even the threat of the Time War re-erupting, the Doctor's despair at having Gallifrey so close and yet unreachable in a parallel pocket dimension, and Clara's simmering emotions for the Doctor surfacing.
    • "Last Christmas" (Christmas 2014, set in 2014) deals with the very depressing fallout between the Doctor and Clara due to the events of the Season 8 finale, but was nonetheless a successful attempt to bring them back together as partners by Santa Claus, even if there was a Red Herring.note 
    • "The Husbands of River Song" (Christmas 2015, set in the year 5343) aired after the final departure of Clara Oswald, which left the Twelfth Doctor traumatized, heartbroken, and even with a dose of limited amnesia — which is then subverted gloriously by being a quite-merry romp with River Song, at least until it was established that this pretty much leads into her foregone death in her debut story, "Silence in the Library" / "Forest of the Dead" . The kicker is that sure, it was their last night together...but it lasted twenty-four years! The episode ends on the title card "And they lived happily ever after".
  • Uncertified Expert: The Doctor is a genius scientist and seasoned adventurer, who can casually create Magic from Technology and regularly overshadows or outsmarts the smartest individuals of multiple different races. However, it's a recurring joke that he's considered very poorly qualified by Time Lord standards. His companion and fellow Time Lady Romana reveals that he barely scraped through his exams on his second try, his former teacher Borusa considered him a lazy student who would never amount to much, and he openly admits to having failed his Tardis exam.
  • Uncommon Time: The Eleventh Doctor's theme is almost entirely in 7/4 (7+4=11).
  • Uniformity Exception: Fairly common, presumably for budgetary reasons (so they only have to make one alien face):
    • The Judoon are all helmeted, but one removes his helmet so we can see what they look like (humanoid rhinos, basically). After that, every time they show up there is one unhelmeted and the other two are helmeted.
    • Sontarans also all wear helmets except one who takes his off.
    • Hordes of New Series Silurians are shown wearing metal face-masks, but main character Silurians (the three named/speaking characters in "Cold Blood" and Madame Vastra) don't.
  • Uniqueness Decay: In the early years, we knew almost nothing about the Doctor's people. It was six years before we learned the name "Time Lords". From the Tom Baker serial "The Deadly Assassin" onwards, we began to learn more and actually visited Gallifrey. Over the next decade or so, more stories featuring the corrupt, self-interested and Machiavellian Time Lords were made, to the point where many fans complained that too much was being explained and the mystery had gone. One of the objectives of the so-called "Cartmel Master-plan" in the late 1980s was to Retcon some of this and reintroduce the mystery.
  • United Nations Is a Superpower: The series imagines the UN having much more control, organization, and respect than it does in real life, what with controlling the launch of nuclear weapons and issuing global advisories during alien invasions and worldwide crises. They also maintain a military force and espionage organisation known as UNIT (United Nations Intelligence Taskforce), which is meant to deal with existential threats to world civilisation as a whole, whether extra-terrestrial or terrestrial in origin. In universe, this situation is the result of international terror at the specific incident depicted in "The Web of Fear", in which an Eldritch Abomination managed to occupy most of central London. With the series' revival in 2005, negative reaction to this trope from the real UN led the writers to change UNIT to the UNified Intelligence Taskforce and make its allegiance a lot vaguer.
  • Universe Bible: Somewhat notable for being a Long Runner TV show and not having one.
  • The Unmasqued World: It's hard to pin down to a specific event, but all the bizarre incidents and invasion attempts have gradually worn down the human Weirdness Censor. However much of the RTD era people remember after the time cracks, the first episode of Moffat's run has giant eyeballs threatening to incinerate the planet.
  • Unreliable Canon: especially before the New Series, the show can be best summarized as existing in a state of constant flux. Not only did you have the TV show introduce a new concept that gets changed to outright retcon after a few years, you also had convoluted timelines for UNIT and the Daleks. This isn't helped by the fact that the New Series sometimes makes references to the books and that the New Series itself doesn't follow certain things from the Classic Who (the aforementioned Daleks' timeline for example). And let's not even get into the Expanded Universe...
  • The Un-Reveal:
    • "The Lodger" does not reveal who was behind the attempt to build a TARDIS; however, the two-part opener of the sixth series heavily implies that the Silence were behind that, since we see them occupying an identical room.
    • "The Name of the Doctor" doesn't actually reveal his birthname. Although River is implied to have said it, the fact that she's an almost Fight Club-esque apparition visible and audible only to the Doctor - and later Clara - makes it safe to assume that the Doctor screaming, "Please!!" was more than enough to drown out her voice.
    • In "The Zygon Inversion" we never find out whether the surviving Osgood was the human or the Zygon one, and when another Zygon also takes Osgood's identity they refuse to reveal which of them is which.
    • The identity of the Hybrid, a central plot point throughout series nine, is left ambiguous, with several plausible options provided, with viewers encouraged to choose the one they prefer: a Dalek/Time Lord hybrid, a Time Lord/human hybird (implied to be the Doctor) and the intense partnership of the Doctor and Clara Oswald. It was later confirmed to be the Doctor and Clara.
  • Untranslated Catchphrase: The Sontarans are prone to breaking out into chants of "Sontar ha!" Given an Ironic Echo at the climax of "The Poison Sky" when Rattigan shouts the phrase at them sarcastically before blowing them all up.
  • Unusually Uninteresting Sight:
    • The Doctor, despite going back and forth through time and space, rarely (although there are exceptions) seems to have his outfit questioned, though his companion(s) might.
    • Then there's the blue box that pops up in the weirdest places and very few people think to question... even when they do notice it, they're more likely to write it off as someone else's problem rather than investigate thoroughly. The TARDIS was explained by the Doctor as generating a perception filter, making any normal being subconsciously want to look away from the blue box. This explanation coming from his companion's inquiry as the Doctor had fashioned a miniature version of the field to avoid detection by police or rival Time Lords, so it not only made sense from a story view-point, it finally answered the question of "Why then doesn't anyone notice a giant blue police box just sitting there!?" Especially when the Doctor has gone to places like Ancient Rome or 19th Century England.
    • Subverted in "The Fires of Pompeii" when the Doctor and Donna land in Pompeii on Volcano Day, leave the TARDIS for a couple of minutes... and return to discover that it has been carted off as art.
    • Also lampshaded in the Eleventh Doctor DVD extra "Meanwhile in the TARDIS", when The Doctor explains to Amy that the TARDIS' chameleon circuit (which allows it to change its appearance) DOES work, but that the TARDIS scans the local surroundings, determines the best camouflage, and still configures itself as a 1960s Police Box.
    • Used almost as a kind of Worf Effect when the Doctor first meets Amelia Pond. Little Amelia doesn't bat an eye at the falling TARDIS, the Raggedy Doctor, or his odd behavior. This is used to emphasize what she is afraid of: The space-time crack in her wall.
    • When the TARDIS appears in the midst of a cricket match in "The Daleks' Master Plan," the commentators spend more time commenting on the how its appearance will affect the outcome of the match rather than the fact a police box appeared from literally nowhere.
  • Used Future: Despite being far ahead of most technology even approaching the end of the universe, the TARDIS is seriously broken and worn out by Gallifreyan standards. The Time Lords were also phasing out that particular TARDIS model for being outdated when the Doctor nicked it.
  • Verbal Tic:
    • The First Doctor, William Hartnell:
      • Had a habit of ending many if not most of his lines with a "hmmm?", plus interjecting the terms "young man", "my child", "my dear boy", "dear child", et cetera, into seemingly every third phrase.
      • Not to mention the habit of mangling his companion's name ("Chesterton" becomes Chatterton, Chesterfield, Chessington, Chesserman etc.)
      • He's occasionally a Malaproper - for example, in "The Myth Makers", when the Trojans think he is a god; "I am not a dog!... a god!"
      • In Season 3 and 4, he tends to make an excited sort of "eh-ch-ch-ch-ch-ch-" chattering noise before speaking, usually when he's trying to interrupt or cut off someone, which he tends to do a lot.
    • A man will know that the Third Doctor likes him when he is addressed as "m'dear chap".
    • The Fourth Doctor says "weeeeell", "I say", generally extends low vooooowels whenever he can get away with it, and has a habit of drawing out the last syllable at the end of his sentenceeeeeees. He also overpronounces the name of his home planet, 'Gallifrey', pronouncing it much closer to "Gallifree". Also, as his general speech is usually rather on the loud side, when he wants to emphasise something he instead drops into a slightly alarming loud whispering tone.
    • The Seventh Doctor, Sylvester McCoy, tended to roll his R's, leading to a deeply unfortunate incident when he encountered aliens known as the Gods of Rrrrrragnarrrrrok. Oh boy.

      Lampshaded in the Big Finish poem "The Feast of Seven":
      As Christmas Day turned into night
      A game of Scrabble caused a fight
      the Third had Seven's head in lock
      'There aren't ten 'r's in 'Ragnarok'!
    • The Eighth Doctor liked monosyllables. "Yes, yes, yes, yes, yes!" "No, no, no, no, no..." "Grace, Grace, Grace, Grace!" Like that. Generally when he was excited, really thinking, or, as one character in the Expanded Universe observes, when he was distressed.
    • And Ten uses 'brilliant' every few sentences. He also says 'weeeell' a lot, similar to the Fourth Doctor.
    • Chantho, an alien in the episode "Utopia", begins every sentence with "Chan" and ends it with "to" or "tho" (depending on your preferred spelling - TV subtitles used the latter). When asked why she does so, she explains that to not begin and end her sentences thusly would be her species' equivalent of profanity.
    • The Eleventh seems to use a lot of more generic verbal tics, in the manner one might when trying to stall while they puzzle out a half-formed thought.
    • In "Time Heist", Psi's brain augmentations cause him to repeat repeat repeat himself when he's stressed.
  • Video Inside, Film Outside:
    • Throughout most of the classic series, though Spearhead from Space was entirely in film.note  Some episodes shot studio segments on film to make them "feel" outside. The Restoration Team website details many of the technical challenges associated with remastering the film sequences.
    • Several Tom Baker-era stories averted this by being shot on videotape completely, even on location (two of them were "Robot" and "The Sontaran Experiment"). Beginning in 1986 with "The Trial of a Time Lord" and continuing to the end of the original series in 1989, the show was completely produced on videotape, including exteriors.
    • Prior to switching to HD production in 2009, the revival series from 2005 to 2008 was completely shot on videotape, which was then processed to look like film. You can see the original videotape look of the show in the gag reel included in the Series 3 box set and its deleted scenes, and in the deleted scenes featured in the Series 4 set.
  • Villain Reveals the Secret: In the classic serial "Silver Nemesis" minor villain Lady Peinfort tries this by claiming that she has learned all of the Doctor's secrets and will blurt them out to the Cybermen if he doesn't hand over control of the superweapon to her. Subverted in that the Cybermen tell her they don't care about the Doctor's secrets and that they want the superweapon for themselves.
  • Visible to Believers: Perception Filters are explained to work to this way. If you don't want to/don't have a reason to believe there's a blue anachronistic police box on the street corner, a second floor on your house that shouldn't be there, etc., then you simply won't see anything. But if you do want to believe there's something there, the perception filter falters and you become aware of the thing it was shielding.
  • Void Between the Worlds: "The Void" is the Time Lord name for the dead space between universes. Time and matter as we understand them don't exist there, and it's only traversable with eerie, mass-less Void Ships that even the Time Lords only considered theoretical. The Tenth Doctor, usually happy to poke anything weird with a stick, is so unnerved to encounter one that he recommends it be sent back where it came from.
  • Walking the Earth: And the other planets.
  • Wardrobe Flaw of Characterization:
    • The Fifth Doctor dresses smartly in immaculate quasi-Edwardian cricket whites, but with a celery stalk attached to his lapel.note 
    • The Tenth Doctor is nearly always seen in a perfectly-tailored brown or navy pinstripe suit and tie of the sort that would not look out of place in a board room, but with casual canvas sneakers instead of the expected dress shoes to emphasize his eccentric nature.note  He expresses discomfort any time he is forced to dress the rest of the way up in a black tux and dress shoes.
  • Wasn't That Fun?: The Doctor is fond of this quip.
  • Watch the World Die:
    • "The End of the World" features the natural end of the world, and the Doctor, Rose, and the Face of Boe (among others) are here to watch.
    • In the Expanded Universe short story "Mondas Passing" the two companions present during "The Tenth Planet" reunite in their own version of 1986 to passively watch the adventure from an outsider's POV.
    • Another example, the Tenth Doctor, Martha, her family (minus her brother) and Jack Harkness watch helplessly as The Master lays waste to the earth using the Toclafane, while Voodoo Child (not to be confused with Jimi Hendrix's song Voodoo Chile) plays in the background.
    • Stated by the Eleventh Doctor when facing the sentient sun of Akhaten, which feeds on memories:
    "I've lived a long life. And I've seen a few things. I walked away from the last great Time War. I marked the passing of the Time Lords. I saw the birth of the universe and watched as time ran out, moment by moment, until nothing remained. No time, no space. Just me! I walked in universes where the laws of physics were devised by the mind of a madman! And I watched universes freeze and creation burn! I have seen things you wouldn't believe! I have lost things you will never understand! And I know things, secrets that must never be told, knowledge that must never be spoken! Knowledge that will make parasite gods blaze! So come on then! Take it! Take it all, baby! Have it! You have it all!"
  • Wayback Trip: The show tends to use time travel as an excuse for an Adventure Towns format. Basically, without the Doctor and the companions, humanity would've been wiped out several times over long before the modern day.
  • We Have Forgotten the Phlebotinum: The Doctor is regularly separated from the TARDIS or the sonic screwdriver to prevent them from resolving the plot too quickly.
  • Wham Episode: Has its own page.
  • What Does This Button Do?:
    • At the end of her first adventure, Leela invited herself into the TARDIS, and it dematerialized as the Doctor said "Don't touch that button!" (i.e. the dematerialization button). The only consequence was that she became the Doctor's new companion.
    • The Fourth Doctor's companion, Harry Sullivan, had a bad habit of pushing buttons to see what would happen. He got over it after about the third time he nearly killed Sarah.
    • When the Tenth Doctor is first introduced, he parodies this Trope when he finds a big red button whilst exploring his new personality and dubs it "The Great Big Threatening Button Which Should Never Be Pressed Under Any Circumstances" and presses it, resulting in the freedom, as opposed to the deaths, of one-third of the humans on Earth.
    • Eleven also has his moments: "There's something here that doesn't make sense. Let's go and poke it with a stick!"
    • Amy learns this from him. When she was stuck on an alien spaceship, she and two others finds a console she tells the others, "Well, I've spent enough time with the Doctor to know whenever you enter somewhere new, press buttons."
    • In "In The Forest Of The Night", as might be expected from a group of children, the TARDIS has lots of fun buttons they feel compelled to play with. Fortunately, doing so does nothing other than annoy the Doctor.
  • What Happened to the Mouse?: The series 8 episode "Listen" introduces an Identical Grandson of the companion Danny Pink, with the implication being that Danny will eventually have kids with her girlfriend, Clara. However, Danny dies at the end of the series, and the following series makes it clear Clara wasn't pregnant with his child before he died. Of course it's technically possible :Danny had a child with someone else before meeting Clara, but no such explanation is ever given, and the grandson situation is never addressed after series 8.
  • What the Hell, Hero?: The show really loves this trope:
    • The Doctor's companions have been calling him on stuff since the very first episode. Remember Susan's freak out when he decides to keep Barbara and Ian prisoner? Two episodes later, the Doctor moves as if to bash an injured man's head in (because he wanted to escape to the TARDIS and thought they were wasting time), and Ian intercepts him asking what the hell he thought he was doing.
    • Barbara Wright gets a great one in "The Edge of Destruction". The Doctor is threatening to throw her and Ian out of the TARDIS, into empty space, and she tells him he has no right to threaten them as he owes his life to the two of them several times over already.
      Barbara: Accuse us? You ought to go down on your hands and knees and thank us!
    • The Doctor's companions have been calling him on stuff like this since his very first incarnation - Steven nearly left the TARDIS over the Doctor's refusal to save anyone during "The Massacre of St Bartholomew's Eve".
    • Jamie, probably one of the Doctor's most loyal companions, gives him a right telling off after being manipulated in "The Evil of the Daleks".
    • From the classic series, "Resurrection of the Daleks" in Season 21 has the Doctor's companion Tegan leaving as a result of her disgust over the bloodshed she had just witnessed and the Doctor saying he must mend his ways. (He doesn't.)
    • Often just the way the seventh Doctor treats Ace, especially when it's to further a hidden scheme of his.
    • Jackie Tyler, Rose's mother, would chew the Ninth Doctor out for showing up out of nowhere, taking her daughter away with him with no explanation, and not even always getting the return date right.
    • The Ninth Doctor gets a couple very brief ones in the episode "Dalek". One in the form of a Dalek commenting on how he would make a good Dalek for suggesting its new orders were to kill itself, one in the form of Rose pointing out that the Dalek wasn't the one pointing the gun at her.
    • Even Margaret Blaine, a.k.a. Blon Fel-Fotch Pasameer-Day Slitheen, an alien who has proved herself perfectly willing to destroy entire planets, gets in on the act in the episode "Boom Town", when she observes that the Doctor's "happy-go-lucky life" seems to generate an awful lot of destruction.
    • In "Tooth and Claw", Queen Victoria also calls him and Rose out for giggling and acting silly immediately after a terrifying adventure.
    • Joan Redfern calls the Doctor on the consequences of his dalliance as a human in "The Family of Blood": "If the Doctor had never chosen this place, on a whim... would anyone here have died?"
    • Donna turned down an invitation to take a spin around space-time with the Doctor after he wiped out the Racnoss in "The Runaway Bride". She continues to call him on his various "Time Lord-y" decisions throughout Series Four, particularly when he states the destruction of Pompeii is a "fixed point in time," and so he decides not to interfere; and how he neglected to help the enslaved Ood when he last met them.
    • In "The Sontaran Stratagem", Martha gives the Doctor a bit of a chewing out for his self-righteous attitude towards a group of UNIT officials, pointing out that they were doing their best to save the planet and frequently had to do so in his absence. Although, at the end of it, Martha mentions wanting to make them 'better'.
    • In "The Unicorn and the Wasp", Agatha Christie gets in on it. "How like a man to have fun while there's disaster all around him! ...I'll work with you, gladly, but for the sake of justice, not your own amusement."
    • "Journey's End", gives us an example of the hero calling himself out: The Doctor banishes his clone self to a parallel universe after his act of genocide upon the Daleks. Although the clone self also gets to be free to be with Rose Tyler through that banishment, and in a cut scene would've got a piece of Grow-Your-Own TARDIS... He also gets called out by the villain (Davros) - "You turn your companions into weapons!"
    • At the end of "The Waters of Mars", the Doctor has told himself that as the last of the Time Lords, he can change the laws of time as he sees fit and after violating the rules and changing a fixed point in time, has gone slightly mad with power. Adelaide, one of the people he saved, is rightly horrified, and gives the Doctor a good verbal battering. She then brings him back down to earth...by killing herself to make sure the timeline goes as it's supposed to.
    • In "The End of Time", Wilfred calls out the Doctor for his refusal to kill the Master, when doing so would restore humanity to its regular state.
    • In "The Time of Angels", the Doctor spends a lot of time walking around like he owns the place, which usually works for him. The Bishop in particular is offended at how arrogant the Doctor is, and calls him out on it.
      "I know that, Doctor. And when you've flown away in your little blue box, I'll explain that to their families." Ouch.
    • Done quite well by Rory during "The Vampires of Venice".
      Rory (to the Doctor): You know what's dangerous about you? It's not that you make people take risks, it's that you make them want to impress you! You make it so they don't want to let you down. You have no idea how dangerous you make people to themselves when you're around!
    • In "Amy's Choice", the Doctor even does it to himself, in the form of the Dream Lord, pointing out his self-righteous attitude, and the fact that he never visits his 'friends' after he leaves them.
    • Rory does it again in "The Big Bang". Subverted as the Doctor was testing him.
      Doctor: Your girlfriend isn't as important as the whole universe.
      Rory: SHE IS TO ME! (punches the Doctor)
    • In "A Good Man Goes to War", the Doctor realizes too late that the antagonists have stolen Amy and Rory's baby and are going to turn her into a weapon against him. River Song arrives to call him on it:
      Doctor: You think I wanted this? I didn't want this! This wasn't me.
      River: This was exactly you. All this! All of it! You make them so afraid. When you began all those years ago, sailing off to see the universe, did you ever think you'd become this? The man who can turn an army around at the mention of his name. Doctor. The word for "healer," and "wise man" throughout the universe. We get that word from you, you know. But if you carry on the way you are, what might that word come to mean?
    • May apply for Rory again in "The Girl Who Waited" when the Doctor makes Rory choose which of two Amys (Present Amy or Future Amy) to take with them. Note: this is after the Doctor explicitly tells them that they can take both Present Amy and Future Amy aboard the TARDIS. Later, the Doctor tells Rory flat-out that he lied to them. Then makes Rory choose which to keep. After Rory and an unconscious Present Amy are already on board. And Future Amy is sobbing right outside the TARDIS. Then leaves Rory to explain to Present Amy the dirty job of what had to be done when she comes to and asks what happened to Future Amy:
      The Doctor: Your choice.
      Rory: This isn't fair. You're turning me into you!
    • In "The Wedding of River Song", the Doctor does this to River when she refuses to kill him, thus altering a fixed point and nearly destroying time.
      Doctor: River! River! This is ridiculous! That would mean nothing to anyone. It's insane. Worse, it's stupid! You embarrass me.
    • Amy gets an especially epic What The Hell Hero moment in "A Town Called Mercy", when the Doctor attempts to hand Jex over to the Gunslinger:
      The Doctor: We could end this right now. We could save everyone right now!
      Amy: This is not how we roll, and you know it. What's happened to you, Doctor? When did killing someone become an option?
      The Doctor: Jex has to answer for his crimes.
      Amy: And what then? Are you going to hunt down everyone who's made a gun or a bullet or a bomb?
      The Doctor: But they keep coming back, don't you see? Every time I negotiate, I try to understand. Well not today. No, today I honour the victims first. His, the Master's, the Daleks'. All the people that died because of my mercy!
      Amy: See, this is what happens when you travel alone for too long. Well listen to me, Doctor, we can't be like him. We have to be better than him.
    • In "The Day of the Doctor", The War Doctor and The Tenth Doctor call out The Eleventh Doctor rather harshly for having put aside what they did in The Time War and no longer remembering how many children died when they pressed the button that wiped out the Time Lords and Daleks.
      War Doctor: Did you ever count?
      Eleventh Doctor: Count what?
      War Doctor: How many children there were on Gallifrey that day.
      Eleventh Doctor: [pause] I've absolutely no idea.
      War Doctor: How old are you now?
      Eleventh Doctor: Uh, I dunno. I lose track. 1200 and something, I think, unless I'm lying. I can't remember if I'm lying about my age that's how old I am.
      War Doctor: Four hundred years older than me and in all that time you never even wondered how many there were. Never once counted.
      Eleventh Doctor: Tell me: What would be the point?
      Tenth Doctor: 2.47 billion.
      War Doctor: You did count!
      Tenth Doctor: [to the Eleventh Doctor] You forgot! Four hundred years; is that all it takes?
      Eleventh Doctor: I moved on.
      Tenth Doctor: Where? Where can you be now that you could forget something like that?
    • In "The Time of the Doctor", the Doctor tries to protect Clara from the endless battles on Trenzalore that he becomes a part of by fooling her into taking the TARDIS back home. When she grabs on to the TARDIS as it returns to Trenzalore, she winds up coming back with it. 300 years after the Doctor sent it off, it finally returns, and Clara is mad at the Doctor for leaving her without so much as a goodbye, while the Doctor is mad at her for coming back. Both of them are too grateful to see each other for this anger to last more than a minute, though.
    • In "Time Heist", Psi is unimpressed by the Doctor's "professional detachment" and Clara's claim that "underneath it all, he isn't really like that."
    Psi: It's very obvious that you've been with him for a while. Because you are really good at the excuses.
  • When It All Began: The Time War is a strong defining moment for the Ninth and Tenth Doctors and the aftermath of it plays a part into both of their regenerations.
    • In "Into the Dalek", the Twelfth Doctor states that he started to become the man we all recognize today after first encountering the Daleks on Skaro, all those long years ago.
  • Whole Plot Reference:
  • Withholding Their Name: When a Time Lord graduates, they choose an alias that they will be known by, and keep their personal names secret. This overlaps with Meaningful Rename and Naming Ceremony. The Doctor prompts the Title Drop when people try to ask him his name, and he insists on the title instead.
  • Whooshing Credits: Used in the opening credits of the TV Movie and all the twenty-first century seasons.
  • "Will Return" Caption: Twenty-first century Doctor Who has occasionally done this for mid-season hiatuses and season endings, such as "A Good Man Goes to War" ending with a caption reading "Doctor Who will return in Let's Kill Hitler".
  • The World Is Always Doomed: The potential end of the world, or the definite end of the world, or the definite of the universe.
  • World of Silence: The rationalization for creating the Cybermen (particularly the parallel-Earth breed) and the Daleks. The Cybermen think they're eliminating pain and strife by making everyone emotionless and identical, while Davros created the Daleks because he believed peace between species was impossible.
  • World War III: The revival has mentioned two near-misses, one in the episode called "World War Three" and one mentioned as a joke in "Dalek". It presumably happens anyway, since...
  • World War Whatever: World Wars V and VI have been alluded to.
  • The X of Y: By far the single worst abuser of this trope, guilty of it no less than 130 times. Having trouble coming up with an episode title? Try mixing and matching these ones that already exist.
  • Column X: Age, Aliens, Ambassadors, Androids, Arc, Army, Attack, Asylum, Bargain, Battle, Bell(s) (2 times), Brain, Bride, Brink, Carnival, Cave(s) (2 times), Change, Claws, Coronas, Crater, Curse (3 times), Dalek Invasion, Day (6 times), Death (3 times), Destruction, Dimensions, Edge, End (3 times), Enemy, Escape, Evil, Evolution, Face, Family, Feast, Fires, Forest, Genesis, Guests, Hall, Hand, Horror, Horse, Husbands, Image, Invasion, Keeper, Keys, Knight, Land, Last, Mark, Masque, Massacre, Mind, Monster, Music, Name, Night, Parting, Planet (8 times), Power (2 times), Priest, Prisoners, Pyramids, Reign, Remembrance, Return, Revenge, Resurrection, Revelation, Rings, Rise, Robot(s) (2 times), Roof, Sea, Seeds (2 times), Sentence, Snows, Sound, State, Stones, Talons, Temple, Terror (3 times), Time (2 times), Tomb, Trap, Trial, Tyrant, Vampires, Victory, Voyage, Wall, War, Warriors, Waters, Web, Wedding, Wheel
  • Column Y: Akhaten, Androzani, Angels, Armageddon, Autons, Axos, Black Spot, Blood (2 times), Conciergerie, Cybermen (4 times), Daleks (11 times), Damned, Danger, Darkness, Dead, Death (7 times), Decay, Decision, Deep, Destruction, Dinosaurs, Disaster, Doctor (4 times), Doctor Mysterio, Doctor Who, Dolls, Doom, Drums, Earth, Evil (4 times), Fang Rock, Fear (4 times), Fenric, Fendahl, Fire, Fortune, France, Ghosts, Giants, God, Identity, Infinity, Jaffa, Kroll, Lies, London, Madame Guillotine, Mandragora, Marinus, Mars, Monsters, Moon, Morbius, Necessity, Needles, Ood, Peladon, Pompeii, Rani, Reckoning, River Song (2 times), Sacrifice, Saint John, Secrets, Sherwood, Skulls, Spheres, Spiders, Spy, St Bartholomew's Eve, Steel, Steven, Sun, Tara, Terror, Three, Time (5 times), Time Lord(s) (2 times), Tomorrow, Traken, Venice, Vervoids, Ways, Weng-Chiang, Wits, World (3 times), Zygons
  • Statistically the most likely title? Planet of the Daleks. Also surprisingly high on the list: The Death of Death note  and The Day of Time.
  • So overdone that the title convention itself was parodied in Doctor Who: The Curse of Fatal Death.
  • You Are Better Than You Think You Are: "Listen" had the Doctor telling a little boy who was scared of the dark that it's okay to be afraid, as fear makes people strong. It turns out he was paraphrasing this speech from Clara, who told it to the Doctor when he was just a child who was also scared of the dark and couldn't make the grade to become a Time Lord.
  • You Are What You Hate: The Doctor ended the Last Great Time War, effectively wiping out his own species, has worked to destroy the Dalek race several times, and was directly responsible for arranging the end of the Silence on Earth. Yet he despises genocide, and fights constantly to prevent the utter elimination of entire species, and gets a little rant in "The Lodger" about how genocide is only done over his dead body.
  • You Have Failed Me:
    • The Daleks regularly exterminate those who fail them, including other Daleks. Although being Omnicidal Maniacs probably means that they'd exterminate the other species anyway when they were no longer needed.
    • Played straight in another pirate story, "The Smugglers". The Doctor and Jacob Kewper have played a superstitious pirate, overpowered him, and gotten clean away. Captain Pike very calmly dispatches the pirate in question.
    • Subverted Trope in "The Pirate Planet". The villainous Captain hisses "When someone fails me, Mr. Fibuli, someone dies!" — then kills a random extra instead of the person who actually failed, because he's the Captain's right-hand man and is too useful to kill just out of pique. Of course, the Evil Overlord List specifically says not to do this, but the Captain is just too awesome to care.
    • An interesting variation is in "City of Death". Two of Count Scarlioni's henchmen have actually successfully recovered his wife's bracelet which the Doctor stole. "Good," he tells them. "But not good enough." He then has them killed and replaced with two different guys. Considering they got the bracelet, it's anyone's guess as to why he thinks they underperformed. It certainly can't be punishment for not being discreet, considering their replacements are just as brazen.
    • In "Time Heist", Ms. Delphox knows when someone is fired from the bank it is "messy". They get incinerated.
  • You Keep Using That Word: Dimensionally transcendental. Transcendental means "Of or relating to a spiritual or nonphysical realm". Quite possibly the word they were looking for is transcendent, "going beyond ordinary limits", e.g. it goes beyond the physical dimensions of the blue box on the outside.
  • Your Approval Fills Me with Shame: The Daleks seem to have a knack for pulling this on The Doctor in the revival series. In "Dalek", after the 9th Doctor, frothing at the mouth, tells a Dalek it should "Just Die", it responds with "You would make a good Dalek." In "Asylum of the Daleks", the 11th Doctor has just learned that the Daleks find hatred to be beautiful to the point of being divine, to which the Dalek Prime Minister states, "Maybe that is why we have never been able to kill you." And in "Into the Dalek", a semi-reformed Dalek tells the Doctor, "I am not a good Dalek. YOU are a good Dalek."
  • Zeerust: Both intentional (the TARDIS's controls look rather clunky, possibly partly because of its dodgy condition) and unintentional. Basically every story set in space or and/or the future from the first eleven years of the series by now looks absurdly out-of-date, though the bell-bottomed space uniforms of the 70s now look oddly fashion-forward. And while the late 1960s stories makes some gestures toward internationalism, they almost always show a preponderance of men in technical or scientific roles.
  • Zeppelins from Another World: Specifically, the other world that the Cybus Cybermen came from.

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