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Reality Ensues / Whoniverse

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This page is for examples of Reality Ensues from the Whoniverse: Doctor Who and spinoffs Torchwood, The Sarah Jane Adventures and Class.

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    Doctor Who (1963-1989) 
  • Several episodes have touched on the fact that the Doctor, who can live forever "barring accidents" and continually renews himself, is constantly having to say goodbye to friends and even (on occasion) more-than-friends as he moves through eternity.
  • Regeneration was conceived as a way to keep the show going and periodically recast the Doctor, but the show hasn't been afraid to explore the ramifications of it. First, although each incarnation handles it differently, every new Doctor's first episode shows them in some way dealing with the massive physical and emotional trauma of essentially dying and being reborn with a completely different appearance and personality: Two to Three, Four to Five and Seven to Eight were particularly rough. Second, his friends often have a hard time dealing with the fact that they're essentially dealing with a whole new person: some are afraid and suspicious, since how do they even know this is the Doctor and not some impostor who made up the "regeneration" as a cover story; some were very close to the last one and may not feel the same connection to the new one; and some lose faith in the case of a more freewheeling incarnation like Four or Ten, taking over for a no-nonsense predecessor like Three or Nine. Finally, some incarnations simply don't want to change and will do everything in their power to prevent it, like Ten and Twelve.
    • Twelve especially didn't want to regenerate, he actively resisted his regeneration despite being critically injured, which is essentially suicide. Having gone beyond his natural regeneration cycle, he had no idea how long he could live now, and, after suffering multiple Trauma Conga Lines, was world-weary and couldn't face going on, especially if it meant becoming someone else.
    • Same for One, which is understandable, as he's never regenerated before and didn't quite know what to expect (meaning, he knew it intellectually, but not emotionally).
  • In an Unbuilt Trope of the show's premise, in "An Unearthly Child", when Ian and Barbara get inside the TARDIS for the first time they think it is some sort of trick. When they find the Doctor's granddaughter Susan in there with him, they think he has been deluding her and is keeping her prisoner.
  • The third story, "The Edge of Destruction", shows how scary and dangerous it can be living in an alien ship that is apparently alive, is broken and which the Doctor doesn't entirely understand how to work, which is usually Played for Laughs. A minor fault on the console almost destroys the TARDIS by throwing it back through time towards the creation of a galaxy and the TARDIS's attempts to warn the crew leave them confused and scared something else is inside the ship.
  • In "The Romans" Barbara is overheard loudly talking about how she and the rest of her companions are from Britain. Not too soon afterwards, she and Ian are kidnapped and sold into slavery. While being British was advantageous in the 1960s, in the time of Pax Romana, not so much!
  • Usually, the companions are dazzled and excited to travel with the Doctor, or come around after a few adventures. One notable exception was Victoria, a teenaged girl from Victorian England, who reacted somewhat realistically to seeing her father killed by alien monsters and bouncing around time and space in a machine she couldn't possibly comprehend, facing constant danger. She was understandably terrified most of the time, almost single-handedly creating the "screaming damsel" stereotype of the companions, and, in "Fury From the Deep", jumped at the chance to leave the TARDIS and lead a normal life with a set of adoptive parents.
    • Similarly, the character of Adam Mitchell, who joined the TARDIS crew in "Dalek" and was kicked out by the Doctor in the very next episode for trying to use knowledge from the future for his own ends, was created to show that not everyone is cut out to be a companion.

    Doctor Who (2005-present) 
  • "Aliens of London": When the Doctor takes Rose back home for a visit, instead of arriving 12 hours after they left 21st century London, the TARDIS arrives 12 months late. The consequences for this are in full force, and definitely not played for laughs. Jackie has had to spend a year living with the fact that her daughter vanished without a trace, assuming that Rose was quite possibly dead or worse. Mickey, meanwhile, was hauled in by the police five times for questioning and has become a social pariah on the estate as everyone believed he killed Rose — particularly Jackie, who turned people against him even further. Both of them are furious at the Doctor when he and Rose finally get back, and Mickey, in particular, finds it hard to forgive Rose.
  • "Bad Wolf"/"The Parting of the Ways": The Doctor meets a young woman named Lynda Moss and takes a liking to her, inviting her to come travelling with him after the current crisis is over. The crisis in question involves a massive Dalek fleet descending upon the space station they're on. Unsurprisingly, Lynda does not survive the two-parter.
  • "The Idiot's Lantern": The Doctor is usually able to talk his way out of a lot of perilous situations. However, when he tries to talk down the police who've come to take away the faceless grandmother, he instead gets a mean right hook for his troubles. Fortunately, being a Time Lord, he recovers quickly.
  • "Tooth and Claw":
    • Rose and the Doctor meet Queen Victoria and the Doctor decides to put on a Scottish accent. However, their adventure begins when a werewolf starts attacking people and during their escape, the Doctor drops his false accent. A terrified Queen Victoria notices this and immediately distrusts him. She's survived multiple assassination attempts and she just killed the trap orchestrator, her circle of trust is going to be small, especially during this situation.
    • At the end of the episode, she outright banishes both Rose and the Doctor after knighting them. As she found their thrill-seeking behaviour repulsive and inappropriate. Telling them, that there will be no happy ending for them if they continue this lifestyle. Queen Victoria also figures out that the Doctor is a magnet for (potentially) apocalyptic trouble and she wants him to be as far away from "her world" as possible, opting to create the Torchwood Institute to protect Earth from any potential invaders.
  • "Smith and Jones":
    • After the hospital is transported to the Moon, Martha tries to open one of the windows, only for her colleague to scream that she'll let the air out. Martha retorts that they're not exactly airtight to begin with.
    • The Judoon teleported some air along with the hospital, meaning that no one dies instantly, but that after a while the air will run out. (And in "Turn Left", Oliver Morgenstern ended up being the Sole Survivor as a result of this.)
  • "The Shakespeare Code": A pretty companion meets a handsome, intelligent, and famous historical figure... and won't consider snogging him because oral hygiene was somewhat lacking in those days.
  • "Last of the Time Lords": The Doctor talks Martha's mother out of shooting the Master, then he gives a speech about how there are better ways to do things than kill people. While he's giving the speech, Lucy Saxon picks up the gun and shoots the Master anyway. Talking is Not a Free Action, and not everyone is as pacifist as the Doctor.
  • "Planet of the Ood": The Doctor's psychic paper fails — not because, as has previously happened, the person in question was resistant to it, but because they bother to run a background check on the suspicious people who aren't on the guest list at the earliest possible opportunity and discover their credentials are entirely fabricated. It gets him into the complex, but doesn't do much more good than that before he and Donna are outed as frauds.
  • "The Sontaran Stratagem": The Doctor shorts out an alien satnav system trying to kill him with a Logic Bomb, jumps out of the car and braces for a huge explosion… only for the unit to fizzle out harmlessly with a couple of sparks.
    The Doctor: [disappointed] Oh, is that it?
  • "Midnight" savages the Doctor's usual blustering Bavarian Fire Drill approach to a crisis. Instead of managing to get the people's trust, they view him with suspicion and think him very arrogant. It's all part of the Monster of the Week's plan.
  • "Turn Left": Donna Noble makes a different decision that leads to her never meeting the Doctor and him dying. We get to see just how horrifying living in a world that's constantly in danger would be. Martha Jones, Sarah Jane, Maria, Clyde, Luke, and all but one person inside the Royal Hope Hospital die when it's taken to the Moon; the impact of the Titanic destroys London and floods Southern England with radiation, leading to a massive refugee crisis; 60 million Americans are transformed into Adipose; the Torchwood team sacrifices themselves to stop the Sontaran ATMOS plan; a fascist government takes power in Britain and begins deporting minorities to "labour camps"; worst of all, during a stargazing session, Donna and her Grandfather see that The Stars Are Going Out.
  • "The End of Time": Rassilon pulls an Eviler Than Thou on The Master, admits to causing the drumbeat in his head that has tormented him his entire life, insults him to his face and tells him that he will abandon him to the horrors of the Time War along with the rest of the universe. As Rassilon learned, it wasn't a great move to talk like that to an unstable psychopath with superpowers.
  • "Vincent and the Doctor": In what is considered by many to be one of the most poignant scenes in television history, the Doctor treats Vincent to a visit to an art museum in the modern day to show him that in the future he is admired as one of the greatest painters to have ever lived. However he still commits suicide — years of poor mental health can't be undone with a simple gesture, however how grand; recovery takes time.
  • "Amy's Choice": Played with when the Dream Lord traps the Doctor, Amy and Rory in two different and dangerous worlds, claiming that one is a dream and the other is reality. (They're both dreams.)
    Dream Lord: Now then, the prognosis is this. If you die in the dream, you wake up in reality. Healthy recovery in next to no time. Ask me what happens if you die in reality?
    Rory: What happens?
    Dream Lord: You die, stupid. That's why it's called reality.
  • "Deep Breath": Clara has a very hard time adjusting to the fact that the Doctor has not only changed his appearance but is no longer the young, kindly paramour he once was. She raises such a fuss that it forces Madame Vastra into giving her a "The Reason You Suck" Speech, which ultimately smartens her up.
  • "The Caretaker": The Doctor takes a school student off in the TARDIS to see outer space. Instead of realizing The World Is Just Awesome, she gets overwhelmed and throws up.
  • "Face the Raven" shows the tragic consequences when an untrained human with only a couple of decades of life experience attempts to out-think, or even simply think like, a 2000-year-old Time Lord with millennia of experience, superior intelligence and virtual immortality.
  • On a more comedic note, "Smile" confirms that, yes, having two hearts doesn't do very good things to your blood pressure.
  • "Oxygen" has the Doctor become blind due to the events of the episode, which does not get magically cured by advanced alien technology. This is after Nardole gives him a major chewing out about how going off on adventures could cause such a thing to happen; since the Doctor is supposed to be guarding a Vault with a dangerous prisoner inside, this gives the person inside an opportunity to take advantage of it.
  • "World Enough and Time": Even when the Doctor has talked the gun-wielding Jorj into a state of reason, the gun is still fired at Bill when the lift door pings open. Calming an armed person with a trigger finger is good, but they will still fire without thought the first sign that the calming process gets interrupted.
  • "The Woman Who Fell to Earth": Ryan, who has dyspraxia, which affects his coordination, decides he's going to try and learn to ride a bike again after his grandmother dies. He falls over. Several times. It's going to take a long time for him to be able to ride a bike well with his condition.
  • "Rosa" makes no attempt to sugarcoat the reality of how racist the American South was in the 1950s. Black companion Ryan get slapped for trying to return a white woman's dropped glove, and when Rosa Parks warns him against approaching white women, she mentions the recent murder of Emmett Till. Ryan's concerns about being in 1950s Alabama also underscore that there are plenty of places in Earth's history that would be uncomfortable for non-white time travellers to visit.
  • "Arachnids in the UK": The Doctor confronts the van-sized mother spider near the end of the episode, only to realize she's dying of suffocation because her organs aren't efficient enough to maintain a body of her size. This is the main reason spiders and insects don't grow that size in real life, or at least in modern times; in the Carboniferous period, the air had a greater concentration of oxygen and this allowed creatures with exoskeletons to grow to enormous sizes, like Meganeura.
  • "The Witchfinders" sees the Doctor visit England in the turn of the 17th Century. Being a woman now means all the local authorities treat her very condescendingly and ignore her opinions. Worse, her usual habit of speaking in Techno Babble and waving a magic wand around a posse of extremely paranoid Witch Hunters sees her get dunked herself. She only avoided drowning because of a 'wet weekend with Harry Houdini', as she put it. He was famous for water escapes, after all.
  • "Resolution":
    • The Doctor tries to call UNIT to help with a Dalek invasion. She's informed that UNIT has had their operations suspended due to "financial review". It sadly makes all too much sense that in the harsh political world of 2018, an international organization based in England would have a hard time handling their usual business when politicians both abroad and at home seem determined to do away with such alliances.
      • A major bit of UNIT has long been hiding the near-constant presence of aliens on Earth and their attempted attacks. As it turns out, it's pretty hard to justify funding a constant state of alert when the general public never knows about it and are convinced alien attacks almost never happen anymore so UNIT isn't considered that essential.
    • The Dalek Reconnaissance Scout is defeated in the 9th century, not by some advanced science or weaponry, but by three armies throwing bodies at it, eventually overpowering it, and then burning the armour until they're able to pull it apart.

  • "Something Borrowed": Rhys grabs a chainsaw to take on the Monster of the Week... and while he's busy sounding badass, it either jams, stalls, or runs out of gas (it's not immediately clear which) — chainsaws may look cool, but this is one of the reasons they're actually really awful weapons.
  • In "Exit Wounds", Tosh and Ianto find themselves confronted by three hooded, scythe-wielding men who spout fire and brimstone, then ominously start walking towards them as the music swells. They gun them down without a pause.
    Ianto: There we are then.
    Tosh: Sorted.
  • Torchwood: Miracle Day uses this as its premise: Having everlasting life in the real world creates horrific problems.

    The Sarah Jane Adventures 
  • Sarah Jane's journalism is more than a cover for her investigations; it's also her legitimate profession. She voices her surprise that the Bannerman Road Gang thought she could afford her huge house without some form of income. Even with her inheritance from her aunt, houses the size of 13 Bannerman Road do not come cheap, especially to keep for more than a while.

  • What happens when you're the only black person in your group, as well as the sole single person? For Tanya, this results in a healthy dose of insecurity and resentment for the others, eventually leading to her separating from everyone else.
  • As Corakinus points out the final episode, when one goes around defeating villains without hiding their identities, the villains will eventually find their families and slaughter them without a thought.
    • He also managed to take back the Shadow Kin after April left the Underneath. He even sounds surprised that April thought he wouldn't take advantage of her absence, or that someone else wouldn't take her place as Shadow King with her not around.
  • Even after Tanya gets some combat training from a pregnant Quill, she still can't take on an army of more experienced Shadow Kin, and can only last so long as she doesn't have to handle more than one at a time, which is still a struggle for her.


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