Doctor Who

Everything About Fiction You Never Wanted to Know.
Not pictured: The War Doctor, the Thirteenth and later Doctors[1]

He saves worlds, rescues civilizations, defeats terrible creatures, and runs a lot. Seriously, there's an outrageous amount of running involved.

Donna Noble"The Doctor's Daughter"

Since its debut on 23 November 1963 on BBC television, the British sci-fi series Doctor Who has thrilled, entertained, and terrified three generations of fans worldwide. It takes place in and established the Whoniverse, which has a very loose and lax continuity, even discounting the Expanded Universe. It is the longest running sci-fi series in the world, bar none—in fact, the latest three actors to play the title role were all born after it started.

The premise of the show is simple enough: it follows the adventures of a renegade Time Lord, the Doctor, and his various companions through time and space. Travelling in his time machine, the TARDIS, he meets many foes, ranging from heavily armoured robots to microbes and pollen to - well, members of his own race. The TARDIS and the Doctor's recurring enemy the Daleks have become British cultural icons and it is fair to suggest that the overwhelming majority of Britons would instantly recognize both. It is, in fact, difficult to over-state the extent to which Doctor Who, ostensibly a slightly daft children-oriented sci-fi show, has become a part of the British cultural landscape. It casts as much a shadow over British culture, as one Anthropology Professor put it, as Star Trek casts over American culture; more so, in fact, as while acknowledged fans of Star Trek are still rather consistently made fun of by mainstream culture, Doctor Who is beloved by Britons of all ages and demographics. Including, as it happens, Elizabeth II.

The show originally ran from 1963 to 1989 (with an 18 month hiatus in 1985-6 caused by Executive Meddling, during which it "rested"). A canon Made for TV Movie, created as a pilot for a revival, aired in 1996, but nothing else resulted.

Between 2001 and 2003, The BBC produced a series of webcasts which it considered in every way an official continuation of the series (insofar as the Beeb ever indicates what is and isn't canon). It is possible more would have been made but for a very exciting development on the television front:

In 2005, a Revival began. It's presented a continuation of the old series (rather than being a Continuity Reboot), with the Ninth Doctor being a direct successor to the original series incarnations and the 1996 movie's Doctor. The revival series has radically upgraded production values, shorter story arcs but much more continuity throughout, and it introduced deeper Character Development and romance to the series. The revival's sixth series finished airing October 2011. The old series lasted 26 seasons, and the new episodes are called "series". Officially, the show went from Season 26 to Series 1, and so on.

The show has spawned several spinoffs within its Whoniverse, which tend to cross over with the main show. The main ones are:

There are also many non-canon adventures in almost all types of media, often made by the cast and crew of the main canon. The most prominent of these is the ongoing radio series Big Finish Doctor Who. Collectively, the non-canon adventures are known as the Doctor Who Expanded Universe.

It also has a behind-the-scenes Companion Show called Doctor Who Confidential which aired in 2005 and was canceled in 2011.

Doctor Who is the Trope Namer for:
The following tropes are common to many or all entries in the Doctor Who franchise.
For tropes specific to individual installments, visit their respective work pages.
  • For tropes used in specific episodes of the TV series, go here.
  • For tropes used in Doctor Who media outside of the TV show, go here.


  • Absolute Xenophobe:
    • The Daleks are willing to use other sentients as slaves, or let them believe they're valuable allies, but in the end they just want to kill every non-Dalek in the universe and glory in their solitary awesomeness.
    • In Pyramids of Mars, Sutekh the Destroyer was a Physical God and Sufficiently Advanced Alien with these tendencies to preclude the possibility that something that could challenge him might evolve.
  • Action Girl: All female companions have their moments, but most of all Sara Kingdom, Leela, Ace (who took on the Daleks twice) and Rose (more so after her return in the 2008 series than her initial run).
    • Barbara Wright, one of the original companions! When she's not smashing Mind Rapist brains (it's more awesome in context) or destroying planet-engulfing entities, she's mowing down Daleks with an ancient truck.
    • In Series 5, River Song managed to fly out an airlock into the TARDIS, put her paralysis lipstick to good use, and killed a Dalek in cold blood.
      • And before killing said Dalek, she made it plead for mercy. That's right. Mercy.
    • And kill an entire room of Silents all by herself including a final Offhand Backhand.
    • In "The Girl Who Waited", older Amy Pond is one of these.
      • And in a parallel world in "The Wedding of River Song", shows that she can be a total badass when she saves alternate timeline Rory from the Silence and leaves Madame Kovarian to die by ocular electrocution.
  • Action Prologue: A few cold openings of the series are this.
    • "The Empty Child" begins with the TARDIS chasing after a Chula warship through a time track.
    • "The Girl in the Fireplace" starts with offscreen screaming and Madame de Pompadour calling for the Doctor's name through a fireplace.
    • "Love & Monsters" invokes this, the narrator character pointing out the encounter with the Doctor, a Hoix and some buckets isn't the beginning, just a good hook for the audience.
    • "Gridlock" begins with a couple's flying car on a motorway being attacked by an unseen menace.
    • "Human Nature" starts with the Doctor and Martha being attacked by some lasers offscreen, with the Doctor mentioning something about a watch...before it turns out to be a dream. Or Was It a Dream?
    • "Silence in the Library" has a little girl apparently experiencing an Action Prologue through her dreams, as the Doctor and Donna board themselves up in some kind of library room.
    • "Planet of the Dead" starts with Lady Christina stealing a precious cup from a museum and escaping.
    • The animated serial Dreamland begins with an alien ship being pursued and attacked, crashing into the New Mexico Desert in 1947.
    • "The Time of Angels" starts with River Song being chased through the spaceship Byzantium. Similarly, "The Pandorica Opens" revolves around her escaping prison, discovering the painting of the same name and warning the Doctor and Amy about it.
    • "A Christmas Carol" begins with a crashing spaceship with Amy and Rory on board.
    • "The Impossible Astronaut" features the Doctor running through various adventures in history in succession, while Amy and Rory read from a history book about them in 2011.
    • "Day of the Moon" has Amy and Rory running as apparent fugitives, River falling off a building and the Doctor imprisoned in Area 51 three months after the events of "The Impossible Astronaut". Agent Canton Delaware apparently executes Amy and Rory, though it turns out to be faked.
    • "A Good Man Goes to War" begins with a man who's centuries old and the father of Amy's child taking on the Cybermen and handing them an explosive "message" and demanding that they tell him the location of his wife.
    • "Let's Kill Hitler" begins with Amy and Rory writing a message for the Doctor with a car.
    • "The God Complex" begins with a woman being pursued by the Minotaur.
    • "The Doctor, the Widow and the Wardrobe" begins with the Doctor escaping an exploding spaceship and crashing into the Earth.
  • Affably Evil:
    • The Master (in some, but not all of his incarnations, including Roger Delgado and John Simm's portrayals).
    • An even better example would be the Meddling Monk, another renegade Time Lord. A charming fellow who just wanted to "improve" history here and there.... by blasting the Vikings with a thermonuclear bazooka, allowing Harold's forces to pwn the Normans at Hastings!!
    • Count Grendel of Gracht in The Androids of Tara. Oh so polite, even as he outlines how he means to kill the Doctor, and later to use Romana to get at the throne and then kill her.
    • Li H'sen Chang in The Talons of Weng-Chiang. A superb illusionist, and a very charming fellow. He also hypnotizes young women and leads them to his fifty-first century war criminal master, who basically cannibalizes them.
    • Tilda and Tabby from Paradise Towers, who are so courteous and welcoming to passers-by, until they break out a knife to butcher the guest with, and then dinner's on to cook. It's a creepy affability, however.
    • Tobias Vaughn from The Invasion. Very courteous, even to trespassers, as long as one is not hindering his plans. But when he gets upset...
    • Well Intentioned Magnificent Bastard Sir Charles Grover from Invasion of the Dinosaurs. So courteous to everyone he meets, all the while planning to Ret-Gone the Silurians and nearly all the human race in the name of Gaia.
    • Monarch from Four to Doomsday, who carries a pleasant and civilized demeanor (which unfortunately wins over Adric for most of the last two episodes) despite looking like a giant crusty frog, and also wants to destroy everyone on Earth for its silicone so he and his android army can travel back in time and meet himself "creating the universe."
    • Yvonne Hartman, head of Torchwood's now-ruined London branch, is such a thoroughly pleasant Benevolent Boss, it's easy to forget she's in charge of an organisation full of xenophobic scavengers with imperialistic ambitions.
    • The Slitheen, for the most part. They're only doing their business, after all, even if said business does involve destroying entire planets. Besides, hunting and killing are a trait of their species. They can't really help that. And they're pretty polite until you upset them.
  • Air Vent Passageway: Used a lot, actually.
  • Alan Fridge: Since the revival, a lot of tabloid stories have claimed exclusives on upcoming plots. It's a very scatter-gun result. It helped that the last minute or two of the penultimate episode and the entirety of the finales were withheld from press previews.
  • Alien Invasion: Both types, almost constantly.
In some cases, it's not necessarily Earth that the aliens want to invade, nor is the species invaded human at all. In many future-based stories, humans are themselves the invaders. We're usually not outright malicious, but we're often quite destructive to native species, paralleling historical imperialism and colonization.
  • Aliens and Monsters: Basically contractual.
  • Aliens Are Bastards:
    • Foremost on the list are the Daleks; super-intelligent, genetically engineered, Exclusively Evil space Nazis designed to feel no other emotion than hate (though they sometimes display fear and others). They are utterly fanatical about their own inherent superiority, to the point where civil wars have broken out amongst them if factions start displaying minor differences, and to where they have chosen death when "contaiminated" by foreign DNA. Their goal is nothing less than to exterminate every living thing in the universe (and, once, the multiverse) other than themselves, and they often tend to find themselves dealing with Earth.
    • The Cybermen are, basically, alternate humans, from Earth's twin planet Mondas (and in the Russell T. Davies era, a parallel universe) who converted themselves into emotionless cyborgs obsessed with the survival of their race, and the best way to do that is to forcibly convert humanity into them. That they are a direct threat to mankind means that they have also sought to destroy them, or sizeable chunks, in the distant future when we manage to successfully fight back.
    • The Time Lords are a race of supposed non-interventialists, but they are really a controlling and elitist, and somewhat stagnant, race of Sufficiently Advanced Aliens who, as their name suggests, have mastered Time Travel, amongst other technologies. Generally they are not malevolent and have plenty of decent members- notably The Doctor himself- but they throw up plenty of maniacs like the Master and the Rani, not to mention their insane founders Rassilon and Omega, amongst other miscreants. As the Time War drew to a bloody close they became a race of Omnicidal Maniacs who were ready to put an end to time itself in an effort to avoid ultimate defeat, which means they last showed up as a villain race.
    • The Sontarans are an entire race of Blood Knights who are engaged in a 50,000 year war with another species, and to ensure a ready supply of troops turned to cloning, to the point where practically every living Sontaran is now a clone of someone else, resulting in a buttload of uniformity. They usually attack Earth as part of a strategy aimed at achieving victory in their war rather than any particular feelings about us, though they enjoy it when we fight back because War Is Glorious.
  • Aliens of London: The Doctor speaks with an accent. Which accent depends on the incarnation. The original series Doctors mostly tended towards Received Pronunciation, Seven sounded Scottish, Eight sounded Liverpudlian, Nine Mancunian, Ten had the accent of Estuary London,[2] and Eleven has a Northampton accent.
  • Aliens Speaking English: Justified due to Translator Microbes. Mostly. The TARDIS is said to feature a psychic translation facility (mentioned in The Masque of Mandragora, "The End of the World", "The Christmas Invasion", and "The Fires of Pompeii"), but it seems to rely on the Doctor's conscious presence to complete the "circuit," as it has been shown not to work when the Doctor is unconscious or out of range.
Other examples, such as the Daleks, the Slitheen and Matron Cofelia are explicitly speaking English (whether they've learned English or are using different Translator Microbes are never made certain; the Daleks, however, have been demonstrated speaking different languages when appropriate, such as German in Germany).
Also, the Judoon were seen speaking English in "Smith and Jones", but that was because they recorded a man speaking it, and then "assimilated" the language.
  • The Alleged Car: More like "The Alleged TARDIS" though it's in even worse shape by the 2005 series. He's had it for several centuries, and it was already ancient when he got it, yet it's still immensely powerful and advanced, even by alien standards. In "The Eleventh Hour", however, the TARDIS regenerated along with the Doctor and seems to be in a bit better shape. Two people (rather than the designed six) piloting it, as well as leaving the handbrake on doesn't improve its poor state and Explosive Instrumentation.
  • All Myths Are True: And they're all aliens. Vampires, werewolves, yeti, the Loch Ness Monster; even the devil is an alien.
  • Alternate Universe: Oddly enough, not extensively used. There are alternate universes in the Who multiverse—one Classic Series Story Arc took place in one called "E-Space" and the story Inferno has a Mirror Universe, and the Russell T. Davies era has at least two, a Zeppelins from Another World universe and an alternate timeline world centred on Donna Noble in "Turn Left"—but travel between alternate universes seems to be extremely difficult (compared to travel in time and space, creating and controlling a black star, making dimensionally transcendental ships...) and very dangerous.
    • Although the Doctor states that it used to be easy to do before the Time War; since then, though, the universe(s) don't seem to like letting the travel occur.
  • Always Save the Girl:
    • The Doctor, particularly Ten, puts his companions (who are usually, if not always, young and female) before anyone else. Also, the new Doctor Who series suggests that his companions represent his humanity in a universe full of mass death; as seen in "The Fires of Pompeii", when Donna convinces him to go back for one family among all those destroyed in Pompeii. It's mentioned some times that he feels responsible for them because it's his fault that they are in danger, since he brought them to wherever it is they are.
The Doctor has sacrificed two of his regenerations for a girl now. And one for an elderly man.
    • Then you have Rory:

The Doctor: All of creation has just been wiped from the sky. D'you know how many lives have now never happened, all the people who never lived? Your girlfriend isn't more important than the whole universe.
Rory: (punches him) SHE IS TO ME!

    • The Eleventh Doctor also saved both Amy and Rory by dropping them off back home, having finally gotten Genre Savvy enough to realize the danger he puts them in.
    • Amy and River are gender-inverted examples. River will rip the world apart in order for the Doctor not to be killed, and Rory is the only thing that convinces older!Amy to defy all laws of time.
  • Ambiguously Gay: Jake, from "Rise of the Cybermen"/"The Age of Steel", seems to love Ricky. A deleted scene would have confirmed it. An unusual case; since the show's return in 2005 (under openly gay producer Davies), most of the gay characters are not ambiguous in the least. Then there's the Silurian Madame Vastra and her 1880's-era human maid Jenny in "A Good Man Goes to War", who in addition to being heavily teased as lesbians, are also an inter-species couple.
  • An Asskicking Christmas: The Christmas specials.
  • Ancient Astronauts: Earth has been visited a lot over its history. Pyramids of Mars is but one example.
  • And I Must Scream: Many, many examples, some of them inflicted by the Doctor:
    • The Weeping Angels in "Blink" end up permanently frozen in stone, but still conscious.
    • Borusa and the other Time Lords who sought immortality from playing the Game of Rassilon also get trapped as living stone.
    • In "Midnight", the Doctor is unable to move (or speak words of his own) as the passengers drag him to the door and prepare to throw him out to be burned to death. In fact, he's forced to repeat Sky's words as she tells them to kill him.
      • The Doctor looks like he would scream if his voice hadn't been stolen.
    • The fates inflicted upon the Family of Blood by the Doctor. He chains Father of Mine up in chains forged at the heart of a dwarf star, seals Mother of Mine in the event horizon of a collapsing galaxy, traps Daughter of Mine in all the mirrors in the universe so you can only see her out of the corner of your eye and seals Son of Mine into one ongoing instant that stretches out through all of time, to watch over the part of England the family attacked, then dresses him as a scarecrow.
    • The story Mawdryn Undead features a group of scientists who attempted to steal the secret of regeneration from the Time Lords. Caught by the Time Lords, the scientists were condemned to perpetual regeneration while also being trapped on a ship that is almost completely isolated from the universe.
    • In The Mark of the Rani, some poor fool accidentally steps on a mine planted by the Rani, turning him into a tree. Initially this just looks stupid, but a few moments later one of the tree's branches suddenly moves to prevent Peri from standing on another mine, thus making it clear that the guy's mind still lives on inside the tree. In fact, a sarcastic comment by the Rani about how he's better off because trees live longer than humans makes things worse, as he could end up tree-ified for decades, if not centuries.
    • In "Fear Her", victims are turned into drawings that are somewhat mobile while on the page. They can scream. Silently.
    • The Carrionites from "The Shakespeare Code" are trapped in their crystal ball. "The Unicorn and the Wasp", a year later, has him taking the ball out as part of a Rummage Fail scene, and they can still be heard inside, shouting.
    • As far as the Doctor is concerned, just being a Dalek falls under this trope, although they can (and do) scream. "From birth to death, locked inside a cold metal cage, completely alone..."
    • In "The Pandorica Opens", the Doctor is contained inside a super-prison built exactly to his specifications, unable to move at all and preserved for eternity. He's even screaming as it closes- this trope to a T.
    • Cessair of Diplos is sentenced to "perpetual imprisonment" by the Megara in The Stones of Blood and is promptly turned into a standing stone in a megalithic circle.
  • Animate Inanimate Object: The Nestene Autons and the Weeping Angels. The Weeping Angels are a strange example; they only move when no one is looking at them (except for that one occasion in "Flesh and Stone"), making it more like short range Offscreen Teleportation.
  • Anyone Can Die: Unless someone happens to be a historical figure (and even then...), there is a good chance they will die before the end of the episode. The Doctor and his companions are not immune to death, either.
    • Lampshaded in "The God Complex" with Rory commenting on the poor survival chances of characters the Doctor is friendly with. Rita, the character he is friendly with, later dies.
  • Apocalypse How:
    • Every point on the scale has either been threatened or carried out by now. Especially X and X-2. Xs happen almost once a season, multiple times in a few episodes. The Time War managed to pull an X-3. The revival's season finales are usually a threatened or averted X-4. There have been two Class Z Threats in the modern series. Not to mention a Z-3. Creation got better.
  • Apologises a Lot: The Tenth Doctor tends to do this, though the person whom he's apologizing to is usually in some kind of horrible state of existence that is irrevertible.
  • Arc Words: A staple of both the Russell T. Davies and Steven Moffat eras.
    • Series 1 had the phrase Bad Wolf. It's Rose Tyler after staring into the heart of the TARDIS.
    • Series 2 had Torchwood.
    • Series 3 had various mentions of a Mr Saxon, evidently the a public office figure running for Prime Minister. Who is later revealed to be the Master.
    • Series 4 was chock full of them, tied together by a theme of things disappearing. First there was talk of vanishing bees, then planets, then moons, and finally Wilfred's "the stars are going out." This all turned out to be due to the Daleks and their planet-stealing operation.
      • Unusually, Series 4 also had arc words specific to each of the two main characters. The Doctor had "she is returning", while Donna Noble had the thoroughly unsettling "there's something on your back." In addition to that, The Doctor also referred to The Shadow Proclamation on several occasions before it was properly revealed.
    • Series 5 had "cracks" which is spoken often but also emphasized visually. Near the end most episodes, after the Doctor had left, the camera would linger on some part of the scenery where a mysterious crack similar to the one that appeared in the first episode of the series had appeared, later revealed to be a result of the TARDIS exploding on June 26, 2010. The cracks played a more prominent role in some episodes than others.
    • Several times in Series 6, a hatch opens in a nearby wall, revealing woman with a silver eyepatch, who says a few words to Amy and vanishes. It's Madame Kovarian, who has abducted the real Amy and is trying to steal Amy's baby to raise as a Laser Guided Tykebomb.
    • The Moffatt era has its own arc words: "Silence will fall."
      • Expanded in Series 6 to "Silence will fall when the question is asked."
    • Series six adds "Tick-Tock goes the clock." It's the first verse of a recurring nursery rhyme. The second verse changes each time but always refers to the Doctor's impending death.
    • Perhaps the biggest arc words spanning the whole series is: "Doctor Who?"
  • Armor-Piercing Question: The oldest question in the universe, one the Doctor has been running away from for his whole life: "Doctor who?"
    • Although the real problem posed by this question is the fact it will be asked in a place and time where no being may lie or fail to answer.
  • Attack Backfire: In the episode "Vincent and the Doctor", the Monster of the Week seemed to enjoy the sonic screwdriver.
  • Author Tract: The Green Death (Green Aesop), The Two Doctors (vegetarian), "Aliens of London"/"World War III", The Sun Makers (anti-corporatism), The Curse of Peladon (pro-EEC), The Monster of Peladon, Battlefield (anti-Nuclear weapons).
  • Auto Kitchen: The food dispenser in the Tardis.
  • Aww, Look She Really Does Love Him: Though she doesn't often show it, Amy really does love Rory. This is made clear in "Day of the Moon".

I love you. I know you think it's him (referring to the Doctor). I know you think it ought to be him. But it's not. It's you.

  • Back-to-Back Badasses: The Eleventh Doctor and River Song against the Silence in "Day of the Moon".
  • Back for the Dead: The Master. Three times.
  • Badass: Every incarnation of the Doctor for starters, and many of his companions and allies. The villain teams aren't lacking in this quality either, with the Master and Davros standing out.
  • Badass Boast:
    • As shown by several examples, the Doctor can do these indirectly and evil will retreat.

Tenth Doctor: I'm the Doctor, and you're in the biggest library in the universe. Look me up.

    • Proof that, for the Doctor at least, it sometimes doesn't need many words to be Badass.

Eleventh Doctor: (Shows one of the Monsters of the Week a nice long clip of himself kicking ass on every kind of alien to mess with Earth, EVER) Hello, I'm the Doctor. Basically... run.

Eleventh Doctor: There's one thing you never put in a trap if you're smart. If you value your continued existence, if you have any plans about seeing tomorrow there's one thing you never ever put in a trap...
Angel Bob: What's that, sir?
Eleventh Doctor: Me.

    • For more, see the quotes page.
  • Badass Crew: Collectively, the Doctor's companions, as noted by Davros, are The Children of Time.
  • Badass Family: The Ponds, so much.
  • Badass Longcoat: Captain Jack and Vincent van Gogh. But don't forget the Tenth Doctor and his brown coat of swishiness either.
    • A few Eleventh Doctor episodes have him in a very badass green longcoat.
    • The Fourth Doctor wore a rumpled brown trenchcoat and generally looked disshelved, but he almost destroyed the entire Dalek race among other badass moves.
  • Badass Normal:
    • Many companions, one off characters and historical figures.
    • Davros. No matter how many times the Daleks turn on him, they always need him back to save the Dalek race.
  • Batman Gambit:
    • Twice in Series 5, the freakin' Daleks pull one on the Doctor.
First, in "Victory of the Daleks", they let him declare himself as the Doctor and identified his enemies. This was exactly what the Daleks wanted, as their Progenator wouldn't recognize their spoiled DNA. They needed their oldest and most powerful enemy to tell the Progenator who they were, setting off the creation of a new bigger, badder, and technicolor Dalek race. Nice Job Breaking It, Hero...
Then, in "The Pandorica Opens", they let the Doctor fall straight into the Pandorica, supposedly trapping him for good.
    • The Seventh Doctor is a master Chessmaster setting up all the pieces and having his enemies and friends effortlessly go where he wants them to go in order to save the day... at first glance. However, many of the TV stories involving this aspect of his character end up revolving around the sudden realisation that something is happening that he didn't actually plan for (such as two factions of Daleks seeking out the Hand of Omega rather than one), or someone does something that he didn't expect, necessitating a frantic run-around as he desperately tries to improvise some stop-gap solution to get things back on track.

Doctor:I don't suppose you've completely ignored my instructions and secretly prepared any Nitro-9, have you?
Ace: What if I had?
Doctor: And naturally, you wouldn't do anything so insanely dangerous as to carry it around with you, would you?
Ace: Of course not. I'm a good girl and do what I'm told.
Doctor: Excellent. Blow up that vehicle.

    • The Tenth Doctor is taken to task by Davros for doing precisely this. Davros points out to the Doctor that he makes a big point of how pacifistic he is, while at the same time manipulatively turning those around him into the kind of people who will blow up their own planet to stop an invasion.
    • The Tenth Doctor is pretty fond of this -- feigning ignorance and getting himself captured so he can be brought face to face with the bad guy of the week. Ninth plays around with it too -- "I'm really glad that worked. Those would have been terrible last words."
  • Bavarian Fire Drill:
    • The Doctor does this a lot. Psychic paper helps... unless the viewer happens to be psychic enough to see through the illusion, like everyone working for Torchwood, or intelligent enough, like William Shakespeare. Though lies too big will actually break it, as seen in "A Christmas Carol", when it refuses to say he's "widely acknowledged as a mature and responsible adult".
    • In "Aliens of London", he gets out of being held at gunpoint by a room full of armed soldiers by using this—when a scream sounds from another room he yells, "Defense plan Delta! Come on!" and runs out of the room, and they all instinctively follow his orders, even though he's presented no identification at all.
    • In Silver Nemesis, the TARDIS arrives in the present day on the grounds of a castle and the Doctor approaches the little old lady he sees confidently, telling Ace, "Act like we own the place... Always works. We own the place." Ace has to point out that the woman they're approaching really does own the place—and the place is Windsor Castle.
    • The 7th used this to much better effect in The Curse Of Fenric, wandering onto a secret naval base, bypassing a patrol holding them at gunpoint by barking orders and nitpicking about uniform cleanliness, breezing into an office and proceeding to write his own letter from the War Office, which he promptly hands over to yet more soldiers as proof of his right to be there.
    • Used in The War Games to get into a military prison. One of the most impressive uses in the series - the Doctor has been convicted of espionage in wartime and has escaped from prison. He is not in uniform, or even a proper suit, and he has a gaping HOLE in the knee of his trousers, and yet managed to bluff the Prison commander for a solid chunk of time just by knowing what to say and shouting loudly.
  • BBC Quarry: Filled in for dozens of planets over the years - and not necessarily just for Doctor Who. An anecdotal account exists of the Doctor Who and Blakes Seven crews shooting in the same quarry on the same day.[3]
Subverted in The Hand of Fear, in which the TARDIS arrives in what turns out to be an actual quarry. Similarly, in the Missing Adventures novel The Shadow of Weng-Chiang, the Doctor is taken to a quarry, and compares it to the landscapes of Gallifrey and Skaro. Likewise for Terror of the Zygons, where the Doctor escapes the Zygon ship after it lands in what is described as "a disused quarry".

"Basically... run."
"You gave me hope and then took it away. That's enough to make anyone dangerous. God knows what it will do to me."
"Good men don't need rules. Today is not the day to find out why I have so many."

  • Big Bad: The revival series manages a couple.
    • The first series had the megalomaniac Dalek Emperor and his revived army of Daleks.
    • The second series kicked off with the equally megalomaniac John Lumic and his version of the Cybermen. The season finale featured the return of Cybermen, now led by a generic Cyber-Leader, but they spend half the time competing with Dalek Sec and the Cult of Skaro.
    • The third series did show a two-part re-appearance of the Cult of Skaro, but it's ultimately The Master that takes center-stage by the finale.
    • The fourth season finale had Davros and his resurgent Dalek empire, but Davros is just a representative this time around, while the Supreme Dalek is the one calling the shots.
    • The Silence, a religious order primarily made up of creepy make-you-forget-they-exist aliens and Large Ham lackeys, are shaping up to be the Big Bad of the Steven Moffat era. They were an unseen man-behind-the-man villain in Series 5, causing the cracks in time that almost erased the universe from existence and drove most of that series' villains away from their homes and towards the Doctor. They made their onscreen debut in Series 6 with a convoluted and almost-successful assassination attempt on the Doctor, and all indications are that they'll be back in future series of the Moffat era.
    • In the classic series, the Black Guardian was the Big Bad of two separate story arcs: The Key to Time arc and what was later known as the Black Guardian Trilogy.
    • Also in the classic series, the Valeyard was the Big Bad of Season 23 (The Trial of a Time Lord). Depending on how far you want to stretch the definition, the Master might qualify as such from Season 8 and 9, as well.
  • Big Creepy-Crawlies: The Zarbi in The Web Planet; the Wirrn in The Ark in Space, The Eight Legs from Planet of the Spiders, the giant beetle on Donna Noble's back in "Turn Left", Chantho in "Utopia" and the giant wasp in "The Unicorn and the Wasp".
  • Bigger on the Inside: The TARDIS.

The Fourth Doctor: That's because it's dimensionally transcendental.
Companion: What does that mean?
Doctor: That means it's bigger on the inside than it is on the outside.

  • Big Labyrinthine Building: The TARDIS.
  • Bi the Way: Jack Harkness, along with the rest of the 51st century.
  • Bizarre Alien Biology:
    • Any number of critters, not least of which is the Doctor himself—he can do things like regenerate, re-grow hands, and absorb radiation, transform it into a form harmless to humans, and expel it through his foot. Oh, and he has two hearts.
    • The giant beetle on Donna Noble's back in "Turn Left" could create an alternate reality from your memories when attached.
    • The Aplans, and the Doctor's Godmother, who both we're told had two heads.

"A godmother with two heads and very bad breath... twice.

  • Blatant Lies:
    • From the Villain of the Week to the Doctor himself, you can usually find at least one example of this per an episode. The Doctor's abuse of the psychic paper has become so egregious it sometimes outdoes the sonic screwdriver. Perception filters range from generating an Unusually Uninteresting Sight field to outright sensory illusions.
      • In "A Christmas Carol", The Doctor tells Kazran he is a mature and responsible adult, then pulls out the psychic paper to prove it. It doesn't work.

The Doctor: "Finally, a lie too big."

    • In a non-psychic paper example in "Planet of the Dead": No Christina, the Doctor will leave the Cup of Aethelstan just as he left it. Cue hammers.
  • Blond Guys Are Evil: The Editor from "The Long Game" and the Master in The End of Time.
  • Blood Knight: The Sontarans. Unlike the Daleks, who want to destroy everything out of a sense of racial supremacy, the Sontarans just love to fight and need no particular motivation beyond that.
  • Bloodless Carnage: Usually. A few stories have gotten pretty gory - The Brain of Morbius featured a pretty graphic blood squib when Condo gets shot, and the sheer bloodiness of Season 22 may have contributed to the show's first hiatus. As a family show, the series mostly shies away from graphic violence. Due to the BBC's current attitudes, the show has been far less violent after its return than before its cancellation, though the classic series' violence was often undercut by its endearing phoniness.
  • Body Horror:
    • The Ood Industries leader in "Planet of the Ood" mutates into an Ood himself. In the mini-episode "Death Is the Only Answer", Albert Einstein also undergoes this, albeit only temporarily.
    • Done in "The Stolen Earth", when Davros reveals he gave himself to the Daleks...literally...he grows them from cells in his own body. Normal cloning procedure? In his enthusiasm, he ended up using up most of the flesh on his chest, baring his rib cage - you can see his heart beating.
    • The people becoming water bloated, ruptured skin sporting, dead eye having monstrosities in "The Waters of Mars".
    • The classic serial Revelation of the Daleks, with the human slowly being turned into a Dalek inside the glass Dalek.
    • In "The Empty Child"/"The Doctor Dances", the gas mask transformation.
    • Lazarus from "The Lazarus Experiment"'s transformation into an "evolutionary reject" definitely qualifies.
    • There's also the Wirrn from The Ark in Space.
    • "The Rebel Flesh"/"The Almost People" has Ganger Jennifer finding interesting/terrifying ways to change her body, eventually settling on some sort of gangly demonic hellbeast, all while retaining her original face, more or less.
  • Bond One-Liner: Plenty, but Liz 10 gets in a pretty good example after blowing away one of The Smilers:

"I'm the bloody queen, mate; basically, I rule."

  • Brainwashed and Crazy: Given how long running the series was it was inevitable this trope would crop up. In fact virtually every Doctor and companion underwent this trope or the milder Brainwashed trope at some point in the series as well as guest characters in some stories.
  • Brandishment Bluff: In "Victory of the Daleks", the Doctor convinces the Daleks that a jammie Dodger (a type of cookie) is a super weapon.
  • Break the Cutie: The Eighth Doctor is much more sentimental than most of the other Doctors...he was also the one who fought in the Time War. You can see how badly he got broken by observing the Ninth Doctor, who is probably the most aggressive and angry of the Doctors to date.
  • Britain Is Only London: Considering that the TARDIS can travel anywhere and anywhen in the universe, a disproportionate number of episodes in the Russell T. Davies era take place in present-day London. (As well as near-future London, 1953 London, 1969 London, 1987 London, Elizabethan London, London in the Blitz and Victorian London.)
    • Averted in Steven Moffat's first series, Series 5, where of the six stories set in the UK,[4] only two are London-based. Two of Series 6's seven stories set or partially set in UK also take place in London, and even then, neither are as the central focus. Moffat's production staff have lampshaded that focusing action on London has started to be a cliché.
  • British English: To be expected with most of the characters, but phrases like "send for another" and "Vaporized the lot" sound a bit strange in Jack Harkness' American accent. He also calls his tank top a "vest" at one point.
    • However, Capt. Jack has been living in the UK for more than 100 years. Enough time to even learn Welsh.
    • Peri, who was supposed to be American, only used British slang to avoid confusing British viewers.
    • A Tennessee-born New Yorker in "Daleks in Manhattan" uses the word "lorry" instead of "truck".
  • British Series: Do we really need to explain?
  • Broad Strokes: The series abandons and introduces new concepts and twists on old concepts that were never previously mentioned, and often never mentioned again. Big as it is, the series can get away with this easily.
  • Bunny Ears Lawyer: The Doctor. A complete list would be too long.
  • By-The-Book Cop: Subverted; the Judoon strictly obey the letter of the law - but their "book" allows for a lot of Cowboy Cop or even Knight Templar behavior on their part.
  • Call Back: Done rather spectacularly in "The Almost People", wherein The Flesh version of the Doctor quickly runs through lines from his previous incarnations.

The Doctor: Would you... like a jelly baby?

    • In the episode "The Poison Sky", The Doctor puts on a gas mask and says "Are you my mummy?".
    • "Let's Kill Hitler" was full of them. Of course, for at least one character it's really a call forward.
  • Camp: The classic series is retrospectively looked at as this, especially the Nathan-Turner years. Davies also deliberately added his own camp moments when he was on the show.
  • Canine Companion: K-9.
  • Cardboard Prison: Stormcage, where River is incarcerated. She escapes so often that they go on high alert whenever someone sees her packing. At one point, she phones them to cancel the alert; she's breaking back in, not out.
  • Catch Phrase:
    • Nearly every Doctor has at least one. See the List of characters.
    • "I am the Master, and you will obey me."
    • The Simm incarnation of the Master seems to have made his catchphrase "Oh NO you DON'T!"
  • Catfolk: The Sisters of Plentitude in the episodes "New Earth" and "Gridlock".
  • Chaos Entity: The Black Guardian embodies the force of chaos in the universe and uses this element throughout it.
  • Character Development: The First Doctor started off as someone, who'd in a moment of desperation, tried to bash in a injured man's skull in, to escape the present danger. He was stopped by a Human who called him on this, even though he was someone the Doctor had belittled as beneath him until then. This might explain why all of his later companions are mostly Human, because they do stop him, when he goes too far. Russell T. Davies and Steven Moffat's runs seem to embrace this interpretation.
    • Some companions also get their fair share. Notable examples from the revived series include Jack Harkness, Donna Noble and Rory Williams.
  • Charm Person: Craig is certain the Eleventh has this power. Specifically, telling anyone to hush and them doing it.
  • Chekhov's Gun: The Doctor's Hand. Three times.
    • "The Christmas Invasion" (Dec 2005), it gets chopped off in a swordfight above Earth. It is (at some point) picked up by Captain Jack.
    • Torchwood, Series 1 (2006–07), Jack has a mysterious hand in a container for the entire first series.
    • "End of Days" (Torchwood) /"Utopia" (Jan/June 2007), Jack hears the TARDIS and sees the hand respond (bang), grabs it, and joins the Doctor.
    • "The Sound of Drums" (June 2007), The Master uses the Doctor's DNA (from the hand) in order to age him to reflect how old he actually is (bang).
    • "Last of the Time Lords" (June 2007), The Doctor takes back his hand and leaves it in the TARDIS.
    • "Journey's End" (July 2008), After being shot by a Dalek, the Doctor sends his regeneration energy into the hand and continues his adventure. Unknown to him, the hand grows into a full clone of the Doctor and imbues Donna with the Doctor's mind, effectively creating three Doctors, two and a half years after the hand was first cut off. (BANG)

Captain Jack Harkness: Three Doctors? I can't tell you what I'm thinking right now.

  • The Chessmaster: Dalek Caan, to name one.
    • The Seventh Doctor, definitely.
    • And the Eleventh Doctor more and more, especially in Series 6.
  • Chewing the Scenery:
  • Christmas Episode: The aforementioned comedy episode, "The Feast of Steven", the first (and, until New Who, only) episode to air on Christmas Day, which had no continuity to the main serial The Daleks' Master Plan. In New Who, an annual series of specials, which between 2005 and 2009 doomed London (usually, but not always present day London) in some way. Aliens also threaten the Earth in 2011's episode, though it's not the primary plot.
  • Cliffhanger Copout: The programme did this many times. The most (in)famous is probably from Dragonfire, in which The Doctor dangles himself over a precipice because the episode was coming to an end, and just...climbs out of it next episode.
  • Color Coded for Your Convenience:
    • The Fourth Doctor's coat would change depending on the "genre" of the particular serial. The yellow-brownish one was more for adventure, red for action, and grey for horror or mystery.
    • Has anyone else noticed that in the Fifth Doctor's first season, the boys are in yellow and the girls are in purple?
    • The Doctor's bowtie in his eleventh incarnation will be red if the episode takes place in the future, and blue if it's in the past.
    • As the 7th Doctor was growing Darker and Edgier his coat is changed from a light whitish colour to dark brown.
    • The rejuvenated Daleks have different colored casings to identify their functions, but thus far we haven't seen enough of them for it to really make a difference. Black Daleks are usually called "Supreme" and have leadership positions. And when they were divided into two factions in Remembrance of the Daleks, they had different colors as well.
  • Conqueror From the Future: The Master, the Daleks, and several others over the years.
  • Contrasting Sequel Character: This TV series loves this trope, the latter's the reason why the Nth Doctor exists.
  • Conservation of Ninjutsu: In "Dalek", a single Dalek manages to wipe out an entire base full of trained elite soldiers (and is only defeated because it decides to destroy itself). More recent episodes have seen entire armies of the supposedly terrifying and insurmountable space-Nazis regularly thwarted by a combination of technobabble and genetic wizardry.
In-universe, it's strongly implied that the lone Dalek was moments from being thoroughly blasted by the Doctor, and vast armies of Daleks are treated as the end of the world rather than Mooks. In practice, trope is fully in effect, though this seems to be more a case of the Doctor being able to beat the Daleks each time they appear regardless of the numbers even though they are a tremendous in-universe threat. Pretty much every time the Doctor isn't present or isn't really invested in their enemy surviving (aka when Daleks fight the Cybermen, both were enemies and if either survived the survivor would take over the world) the result is that the Daleks pretty much curb stomp their opponent with the only real exception being the Time Lords themselves who were still losing. The Cybermen lose easily, and let's not forget that it took minutes for them to subdue earth in spite of tremendous preparations specifically for this eventuality.

Rose: Five million Cybermen, no problem. One Doctor? Now you're scared."

Sarah Jane: I saw things you wouldn’t believe!
Rose: Try me.
Sarah Jane: Mummies.
Rose: I’ve met ghosts.
Sarah Jane: Robots. Lots of robots.
Rose: Slitheen. In Downing Street.
Sarah Jane: Daleks!
Rose: (smugly) Met the Emperor.
Sarah Jane: Anti-matter monsters!
Rose: Gas-mask zombies!
Sarah Jane: Real living dinosaurs!
Rose: Real living werewolf!
Sarah Jane: The. Loch Ness. Monster!
Rose: (Stunned) Seriously?

    • Several references to past adventures take up the Battle of Demon's Run in "A Good Man Goes to War".
    • Anniversary episode Remembrance of The Daleks was chock-full of these.
  • Continuity Drift: Poster child.
    • Even the main character's name has been subject to this: The original treatment, and early scripts and end titles, are not at all clear about the idea that the Doctor's name is not "Doctor Who". This wasn't firmly established until later.
    • The Daleks could almost have their own page for this. In the original encounter, the Daleks had been living in their underground city for only a few hundred years, waiting for the radiation from a nuclear war to fade, only to discover their mutated forms needed radiation to survive. Their self-created "travel machines" could only operate on powered metal surfaces,[5] and even in-story stuck to smooth surfaces, ramps, and elevators. They were cold and cruel, but by no means super-intelligent. They were defeated in the Doctor's first encounter, before they had a chance to ever leave their city. By the time the new series got into action, they had become computer-integrated, universe-conquering, flying battle machines.
    • The Cybermen didn't achieve their trademark appearance until the Second Doctor serial The Invasion, their fifth appearance, and only gained a weakness to gold dust in Revenge of the Cybermen. Silver Nemesis flanderized this into an extreme weakness to all forms of gold.
  • Continuity Nod:
    • Steven Moffat loves to make numerous references, both in dialogue and in the background, to past on-screen adventures.
    • After being subjected to painful "decontamination", a rather weak Eleventh Doctor asks his captors if they have some celery. The Fifth Doctor enthusiastically eats celery after his difficult regeneration in Castrovalva, and wears a stick of it stuck to his lapel from then on.
    • Eleven's theft of his new outfit from a hospital locker room can't be anything but a nod towards the way the Third Doctor acquired his wardrobe forty years before. The Eighth Doctor did this, as well. Must be a theme.
    • In "The Doctor's Wife", the Doctor remarks to a patchwork person "I once had an umbrella like you."
    • Blink-and-you-miss-it example: In the 1985 story Revelation of the Daleks, Davros gets his only functioning hand shot clean off. His hand is concealed inside his Dalek Emperor disguise in the next story, Remembrance of the Daleks, but in the 2008 episode "The Stolen Earth", he sports a shiny new robotic hand.
    • The birth of Ganger!Doctor in "The Almost People" was shaky at best. According to the Doctor, it was having a hard time coping with the memories of his past regenerations. It spoke dialogue from the first, third, fourth, and tenth Doctors (using the actual voices of the latter two). Topics of conversation included neutron flows and jelly babies.
  • Cosmic Retcon:
    • The Time War makes history far more malleable and rewritable, and effectively wipes out Gallifrey and Skaro, as well as most of their residents, from history.
    • As of the 2010 series, the "crack in time" is also being employed to explain why nobody remembers, at the very least, the 2009 Dalek Invasion of Earth and the CyberKing attack in 1851, which was implicitly reversed in the season finale.
  • Crazy Consumption:
  • Creepy Changing Statue: The Weeping Angels who by biological necessity only move when you can't see them but then move very very fast.
  • Creepy Child:
  • Creepy Children Singing: The show has used this since at least The Trial of a Time Lord, where the Doctor is hunted through a series of abandoned warehouses whilst Creepy Children sing "Ring-a-Ring-o-Roses" in the background; it isn't clear if he can hear them or not. The new series uses it in the Series 6 episodes "Night Terrors", "Closing Time", and "The Wedding of River Song".
  • Crew of One: Rarely has the Doctor had a companion who could fly the TARDIS, or do much of anything besides simple button-pushing. And on the occasion a companion or foe does pilot it, it's still just the one. Though in "Journey's End", the Doctor pointed out that a TARDIS is supposed to be piloted by six people at once, and the reason it has so much Explosive Instrumentation going on is because the Doctor isn't quite filling in perfectly for the other five - though the fact it runs at all is probably proof that he's just that good.
  • Criminal Doppelganger:
    • In The Massacre of St Bartholemew's Eve, one of the villains just happens to look like the First Doctor (William Hartnell).
    • In The Enemy of the World, there's a dictator named the Salamander who just happens to look like the Second Doctor (Patrick Troughton). Only one episode still exists on video.
    • In The Face of Evil, the villain Xoanan takes on the image of the Fourth Doctor.
    • In Meglos, the villain deliberately invokes this trope by using alien technology to make himself look like the Fourth Doctor (Tom Baker), plus he had his android double in the Android Invasion.
    • Subverted in "The Almost People". The Doctor's "Ganger" appears to join the rest of them, only to plant the seeds of dissent, nurture them, and finally help to fix the whole problem of the fighting between the Gangers and the humans. It's also actually the Doctor himself, and not his Ganger.
  • Cruel Mercy: The Doctor is very, very good at this.
  • Crystal Spires and Togas: Gallifrey, usually, and several other alien examples. Gallifrey may be a subversion; the crystal spires and togas help hide the stagnation and decay of Time Lord culture: a sufficiently advanced alien society that has rested on its laurels for ten million years.
  • Cute Machines:
    • Gadget, from "The Waters of Mars".
    • K-9, of course.
  • Cuteness Proximity: The Doctor is this with K9.
  • Cybernetics Eat Your Soul: The Cybermen, one of the earliest examples of this trope, as they first appeared in 1966.


  • Damsel in Distress and Dude in Distress: The Doctor, in varying degrees throughout all his incarnations; most if not all of the companions, whether male or female, at some time or another; assorted bystanders of both sexes. Seriously, having someone taken prisoner or menaced by the Monster of the Week is one of the standard plots.
  • Dangerously Genre Savvy: The Master, at least when played by John Simm. He even likes to lampshade when he should make a typical villain mistake and doesn't. Hell, his first step of taking office as prime minister was to kill all of his 'advisors', as every one of them had abandoned their parties and candidates to latch onto him and would likely treat him the same way.
  • Dark Secret: Everything about the Doctor.

Reinette: Doctor? Doctor Who? It's more than just a secret, isn't it?

Ninth Doctor: (narrowing down the Slitheen's homeworld) What else? Hyphenated surname! YES! That narrows it down to one planet: Raxacoricofallapatorius!
Mickey: Great, we can write 'em a letter.

  • Death By Pragmatism
  • Death Is Cheap: The Master has died on-screen without regenerating no less than three times. It's never stopped him from coming back for more. The show doesn't even bother to explain why his possessed Trakenite body is alive again in The Mark of the Rani, after burning to death in Planet of Fire.
    • The Russell T. Davies era has seen "the end of the Daleks" no less than three separate times, and yet everyone's still surprised when more Daleks show up. They wised up after a bit—out of those three "ends of the Daleks", two happened in Series 1. After that, they made a point of ensuring that at least one member of the Cult of Skaro survived each encounter, until Russell T Davies decided to go out with a bang and did them in again at the conclusion of Series 4. Naturally, this meant Steven Moffat had to go and dig them up again, but he's been careful to keep them alive since.
  • Death Ray: Everywhere.
  • Death Seeker: All of the incarnations of the Doctor following the Time War have shades of this.
  • Deconstruction: Since its reboot in 2005, the show has been gradually deconstructing itself. The Doctor is, as always, an eccentric man with a saviour complex whose mystique both entices and frightens people, and these traits have increasingly tended towards tragedy for him. It started with realistic problems finding their way into the story, like a companion's family assuming her dead and the emotional fallout that resulted, and got worse. Russell T. Davies made a huge jab at the Doctor's character in "Midnight", when all of the Doctor's normal methods of controlling a situation backfire entirely, and he is almost killed because of it. Soon after, in "Journey's End", he is shown his "true colours" when his companions are prepared to destroy themselves and the Earth if need be to stop the Daleks' plan. Since Steven Moffat took over the show, things have only gotten bleaker at an increasing rate, and by the end of Series 6, the Doctor has practically lost all faith in himself and is basically a Death Seeker.
  • Defeat Equals Friendship: Not a running theme, but in "A Good Man Goes to War", Madame Vastra and Commander Strax are two old foes of the Doctor's, turned into allies.
  • Development Gag
  • Divine Chessboard: In whole-season spanning story arc The Key To Time there were the White and Black Guardians.
  • Doctor Who In His Tardis: It's become generally accepted, by fans and production alike, that The Doctor's name is not "Doctor Who", but the media doesn't seem to know this. Even the end titles sometimes list the character as "Doctor Who" (that last is less Egregious of an error in early episodes, when the name distinction wasn't firmly established yet).
  • Dramatic Irony: The Silence are the distilled essence of dramatic irony, since everyone else in the show can only remember they exist when they're looking at them.
  • Driving Question: "Doctor who?" It's been asked an ungodly number of times, and as of Series 6, it's the oldest question in the universe, hidden in plain sight, and must never ever be answered. "Silence must fall when the question is asked."
  • During the War: The Time War and World War II are only the obvious examples.
  • Early Installment Weirdness: The show was originally conceived of as a strictly children's program with a strong educational component. Several early episodes take place in a "real-world" historical setting, with the only "sci fi" element being how the characters got there. The doctor is prone to making speeches about how things work, often directed spoken to the camera. This has all but disappeared even a few seasons in, with it becoming a pure adventure show.
    • To elaborate, the Doctor was originally intended to be a borderline antagonist that kept getting the heroes into trouble. Indeed, in the second episode he almost brains a caveman to death with a rock, only to be stopped by Ian at the last second. It was Ian who was intended to be the show's main protagonist, and his and Barbara's professions (teachers, the former science and the latter history) are clear indicators that it was supposed to be an Edutainment show. Susan was to represent the viewing audience.
    • In particular, have a look at the pilot episode, which was later remade in its entirety. Had it been retained, the programme would have been rather different. Details at
  • Eldritch Abomination: Many villains are these. The Doctor beats them anyway. Justified, as he is on a par with them in some ways. Physically, he's human except for Bizarre Alien Biology, but he's over 1100 years old and uses Sufficiently Advanced Technology and the time vortex as playthings.
  • Eldritch Location: The TARDIS in The Edge of Destruction, The Impossible Planet in "The Impossible Planet" and "The Satan Pit", the Earth in "The Hungry Earth", House/House TARDIS in "The Doctor's Wife".
  • Empathic Weapon: The Moment, in the fiftieth-anniversary special "The Day of the Doctor".
  • Epic Hail: Whether it's his old companions hailing the Doctor, the whole population of Earth hailing the Doctor, the Time Lords hailing the Master, or Rose Tyler hailing herself, the Russell T. Davies era loves to put an Epic Hail in his season finales. Series 2 is the only one he missed.
  • Eternal Hero: As a hero who saves the world in different ages, on different planets, and in different incarnations, The Doctor is a certifiable hero of mythological scope.
  • Eureka Moment: The Tenth Doctor meets River and has no idea who she is, although she clearly knows him very well. He spends the whole episode trying to puzzle out who she is to him in the future, and while he never gets his suspicions confirmed for certain, you can just see him clicking when one of their companions gets sick of their constant bickering and snaps. "We're all about to die, and the two of you are standing around arguing like an old married couple!" As River would say, "Penny in the air... annnnd the penny drops!"
  • Everyone Calls Him Doctor
  • Evil Counterpart: The Master, the Rani, the Valeyard. The Master's laser screwdriver.
    • The Valeyard in particular, since he actually IS the Doctor gone wrong.
  • Evil Has a Bad Sense of Humor: Several examples, though the Slitheen are probably the most obvious.
  • Evil Me Scares Me:
    • The Valeyard.
    • Also, the Dream Lord.
  • Evolving Music: The theme tune over the years.
  • Exactly What It Says on the Tin: Stories with "of the" in the title, i.e. The Tomb of the Cybermen, Resurrection of the Daleks, Terror of the Autons, etc.
  • Expanded Universe: In a word, huge. At least two hundred original novels covering all eleven Doctors, over 100 audio dramas made by Big Finish covering Five through Eight, and around forty-five years' worth of comics. There are several EU companions who have become well-known among the fandom. See Doctor Who Expanded Universe.
  • Explosive Decompression: Exceptions. Several times.
  • Exposed Extraterrestrials: Slitheen, when not in human suits. Also, Silurians in Doctor Who and the Silurians and Warriors of the Deep. Averted in The Sea Devils due to a concern about "naked Sea Devils running around on telly at teatime."
  • Exposition Beam: The Doctor, Eleven in particular, has the interesting ability to mind-meld information into other people's heads without having to explain it verbally, or the target having to be conscious, or even alive at the time. In cases of emergency, where a lot of information has to be imparted very quickly, The Doctor will opt to HEADBUTT the person in question, rather than simply mind-meld with them!
  • Exposition of Immortality: Doctor Who does this all the time. Whether it's a serial Big Bad being outed as an alien who's been on Earth for centuries or the Doctor himself's longevity via regeneration. Encounters with recurring enemies the Cybermen and the Daleks frequently went hand in hand with a montage of past episodes or declamations by either side about their past encounters. It's a little confusing due to time travel being involved, but the Doctor definitely qualifies, as he himself keeps on aging in between encounters, and there's often several hundred years or both his and his enemies time between each confrontation.
  • Extra-Strength Masquerade: During Classic Who. New Who (and by extension The Sarah Jane Adventures and Torchwood) seem to have stopped this. As Series 5 and 6 have few-to-no contemporary invasions, it's difficult to judge if they're continuing this.
  • Faceless Goons: Sontarans (literally clones behind their masks), Judoon, Daleks, Cybermen, Ice Warriors, and so many more...
  • Fake Defector: Adric. Unfortunately, he does this so many times that the fandom regularly mistakes him for "always siding with the villain."
  • Fan Service Pack:
    • Nyssa and Tegan both changed their looks to get more attractive during the Fifth Doctor's second year.
    • Nyssa spends half her last story in frilly underthings after taking her skirt off for no especially good in-story reason (the actress actually said it was a thank-you to the fans when questioned). The following year Turlough took his trousers off in his last story for apparently similar reasons.
  • Faster-Than-Light Travel: Just about every spaceship shown, including the TARDIS which is essentially Faster Than Time.
  • Fauxshadow: The parenthood of Amy's baby. A lot of twists in the show are like this, but the prologue of "A Good Man Goes to War" goes out of its way here:

Amy: He’s the Last of His Kind. He looks young, but he’s lived for hundreds and hundreds of years. [...] this man is your father. He has a name, but the people of our world know him better as The Last Centurion.

    • The show also tried to keep this going till the last possible moment, with the Doctor remarking, while pointing at the baby, that "it's mine". He meant the cot, of course.
  • Females Are More Innocent: The original show ran for a quarter century and had a large number of villains yet in that time period only about 10 were women, and only one or two of theme appeared in the shows first 15 seasons.
  • Feudal Future: Various planets the Doctor's landed on, from time to time.
  • Fingertip Drug Analysis:
    • The Doctor's Bizarre Alien Biology lets him taste things safely...including human blood. "Planet of the Dead" goes further; he can sense traces of cities and mountains in the ravaged world of San Helios' sand.
In "The Eleventh Hour", he can tell the exact age of a shed by licking it.
In "Day of the Moon", he can tell where the TARDIS-blue envelopes from the previous episode were made from licking.
  • Five-Man Band:
  • Flat What: Shows up from time to time.
    • Pretty much a catchphrase for the Tenth Doctor.
    • One example: at the end of "Time Crash", when the TARDIS crashes into the Titanic.
    • Amy would appear to have a taste in these, such as in "The Eleventh Hour", when she sees the hidden door in her own house.
    • There are dueling Flat Whats when The Doctor first meets Donna Noble.
  • Flying Car:
    • A common occurence throughout "Gridlock" and the background of "New Earth".
    • "Planet of the Dead" features an anti-gravity bus.
    • The Whomobile from the Third Doctor's era was effectively a flying hovercraft.
  • Flying Saucer: Do we even need to explain? It should be noted that the most classically-presented 'flying saucer' design among alien spacecraft seen are those used by the Daleks.
  • Flying Seafood Special: In "The Beast Below" and "A Christmas Carol".
  • Foreshadowing: Many, many, many times.
  • Forever War: Sontarans versus the Rutans. It's been going on for 50,000 years as of "The Poison Sky", and is still going at least 10,000 years after that in The Sontaran Experiment with no end in sight. Both sides are perfectly fine with this.
  • For the Funnyz: Leave it to the Doctor to make quips and resort to measures with an amusing/ironic edge.
  • For Want of a Nail/In Spite of a Nail: Occasionally even in the same adventure.
  • Fourth Wall Shut-in Story: This is the trap in The Land of Fiction in the serial The Mind Robber: defeat the (supposed) Big Bad by writing yourself into a story as the hero.
  • Friendly Enemy: The Master. Particularly so, since that he and the Doctor used to be friends as children on Gallifrey. Despite everything they do each other, they still want the other alive.
  • Fun with Acronyms: Come on now... there's one that's been used several dozen times over on this page alone.
  • Fur Bikini: Leela.
  • Future Imperfect: Cassandra really really sucks at history. Highlights include believing the ostrich had a wingspan of 50 feet and was able to breathe fire, and thinking a jukebox is an iPod.
  • Future Me Scares Me: The Valeyard.


  • Gambit Pileup: Common in stories involving the Master and/or the Daleks.
  • Gambit Roulette
  • Gender Bender: It was hinted that regeneration can do this in The End of Time, and confirmed in "The Doctor's Wife", in which the Doctor mentioned that this has happened to another Time Lord, the Corsair, on several occasions. And it finally happened to the Doctor, in the regeneration from Twelve to Thirteen (Jodie Whittaker).
  • Genius Breeding Act: In one episode, Rattigan explains his master plan for a new world to the other Teen Geniuses he'd collected, and mentions that he's written up a breeding program. They are appropriately appalled.
  • Genius Cripple: Davros. C'mon, he's eyeless, has one arm, and is in a Dalek-base wheelchair.
  • Genius Loci: The TARDIS, others, House in "The Doctor's Wife".
  • Genre Roulette: Borderline Genre Busting at times. It did so even more in the era of William Hartnell, who played the First Doctor, before the series had quite settled into its format. As showrunner The Grand Moff put it: "Sometimes it's comedy, sometimes thriller, sometimes horror, sometimes children's stories, the silliest stories you've ever seen. Sometimes it's all that in the same episode"
    • On the Nerdist podcast, Matt Smith praised the format for not being bound by "logic, time, space, or genre."
  • Genre Savvy:
    • After various aliens make a mess of London each Christmas for two years in a row, in "Voyage of the Damned", people keep away from shopping in central London the following Christmas Eve.
    • River Song is remarkably genre-savvy, to the point where on at least one occasion she made the very remark the audience was thinking at the time.
    • River may well have gotten her genre-savviness from Rory Williams, who displays a lot more caution than most companions for this very reason (and almost immediately understood how the TARDIS could be Bigger on the Inside, much to the Doctor's annoyance).
  • Getting Crap Past the Radar:
    • Using "dancing" as a euphemism for sex in "The Doctor Dances" and "The Girl in the Fireplace".
    • Moffat seems to love this trope. The Doctor/Amy scene at the end of "Flesh and Stone" springs to mind, especially this particularly Egregious exchange:

Eleventh Doctor: Listen to me! I'm 907 years old. Do you know what that means?
Amy: It's been a while?

    • A made for DVD scene included in the Series 5 box set expands on this further, with Amy discussing former companions in the same way a girlfriend might ask her boyfriend how many women he's slept with...

Eleventh Doctor: (as the TARDIS shows Amy photos of all previous female companions) Thanks, dear. Miss out the metal dog, why don't you?
Amy: Is that a leather bikini?

    • Any mention of The "Virgin" Queen, Elizabeth I.
    • In "The End of the World", Jabe goes through a list of possible relationship statuses between the Doctor and Rose, such as wife, concubine etc... until she eventually suggests "prostitute?"
    • In The Three Doctors, The Brigadier gets annoyed with the Second Doctor as, while the world (or at least UNIT HQ) is threatened by a creature that has already caused the Third Doctor and Jo to vanish, the Second Doctor insists on "standing around here looking for some DAMNFOOL FLUTE!"
    • In "New Earth", on top of the numerous boob and butt jokes, Cassandra also explains that her new skin comes from the back of her body, which prompts this delightful exchange:

Rose: Rrrriiight! So you're talking out of your a-
Cassandra: Ask. Not.

    • Also in "New Earth".

Cassandra: At last I can be revenged on that little...
(cut to Rose and the Doctor)
Rose: Bit rich, coming from you.

    • Amy and Rory's outfits in "A Christmas Carol".
    • This particularly dodgy exchange in "The Doctor Dances".

Jack: Who looks at a screwdriver and thinks, 'ooh, this could be a little more sonic'?
Doctor: What? You never been bored? Never had a long night?

    • In the 2005 episode "Dalek", the use by the character Henry Van Statten of the term "spooning", in a sexual context, raised a mini firestorm of controversy with viewing watchdog groups who apparently were so outraged at such a thing they missed van Statten uttering the curse word "goddamn" in the same episode - the first and to date only time such a strong word has ever been used on Doctor Who which, remember, airs at teatime on a Saturday.
    • Series 6's opener "The Impossible Astronaut" had this exchange...

Doctor: Shout if you get in trouble.
River: Don't worry, I'm quite the screamer. Now there's a spoiler for you...

    • Series 6's mid season finale has several, including:

River: Two Doctors, that's another birthday.

    • Very similar one when a time crisis causes the TARDIS to materialise inside the TARDIS, resulting in two Amys.

Doctor: Oh great, so this is how it all ends. Pond flirting with Pond. True love at last...Sorry, Rory.
Rory: [clearly in awe] Absolutely no problem at all...

    • Series 6 finale: "River Song came twice."
    • In "The Shakespeare Code", the victim in the teaser that was eaten by the Carrionites clearly wanted to get into bed with Lilith.
  • Ghost City: Several examples, notably the Exxilon city in Death to the Daleks and the seemingly-abandoned Dalek city in The Daleks.
  • Ghost Planet: "Planet of the Dead", The Daleks, "Silence in the Library".
  • God-Emperor: A favorite position of Dalek leaders, being used by both the Emperor of the Dalek and even more so by Davros.
  • A God Am I:
    • The Doctor snaps and starts giving off Light Yagami vibes in "The Waters of Mars". He got better though, when reality makes it clear that it's not going to take that shit.
    • Bad Wolf/Rose to some degree.
    • The Master, from the very start.
    • The Time Lords in The End of Time.
    • The Dalek Emperor.
    • In The Armageddon Factor, The Doctor makes a point out of how easily this could happen by having the Key to Time.
  • God Save Us From the Queen: The Pirate Planet and The Happiness Patrol.
  • Go Mad from the Revelation: What happens to some Time Lord when they are Initiated.
  • Government Agency of Fiction: UNIT and Torchwood, among others.
  • Great Offscreen War: The Time War, taking place at a scale so epic it broke space and time.
  • The Great Repair: The plot of various episodes.
  • The Gump: This would take a long time to list, but if it was important, either the Doctor or one of his companions may have caused it.
  • Hands Off My Fluffy: Poor Vicki...
  • Helmets Are Hardly Heroic: UNIT never wear helmets, or even body armour.
  • Heroic BSOD:
    • The Ninth Doctor goes catatonic for minutes when Rose appears to have been vaporized in "Bad Wolf".
    • The Tenth Doctor is seen to do this on a couple of occasions (most notably "The Stolen Earth") when his insane ingenuity has failed him and he can't think of anything to do—he simply stands there, motionless, his face blank and fixed. It's fairly creepy, in fact.
  • Heroic Sacrifice: Extremely, extremely common. A couple of the Doctors have done it too.
  • He Who Fights Monsters: Rather, He Who Outsmarts Monsters After The Mundanes Fail Miserably At Five Rounds Rapid. Hell, the Doctor has been asked twice if he's scared of monsters, and always replies, "No. They're scared of me."
  • "Hey You!" Haymaker: Used by the Brigadier in The Five Doctors, when he taps the Master holding the Doctors at weapon point and slugs him, saying "Nice to see you again."
  • Hidden in Plain Sight: The TARDIS, plus many times when characters barely conceal themselves in an alcove or behind a pillar until the monsters pass by (all monsters have limited peripheral vision). Known by some as a "quantum hide".
    • The first Question.
  • The Highwayman
  • Historical In-Joke: Hello, it's a show with time travel... In fact, this trope is so common the jokes frequently mutate into running gags, like the one about the "Virgin" Queen.
  • Home, Sweet Home: The Doctor never evinces this, but it causes some companions to leave.
  • Hopeless War: The Last Great Time War ended up as one of these. Countless soldiers were being killed and revived in time loops, the crossfire was spawning cosmic horrors by the truckload, and the Time Lords were so desperate to survive they brought back Rassilon, whose victory plan amounted to destroying the rest of the universe so they could become beings of pure thought. The Doctor had to wipe out both sides rather than let either of them "win".
  • How's Your Scottish Accent: David Tennant as the Tenth Doctor "faking" a Scottish accent in "Tooth and Claw".
  • Human Alien: Excepting some physiological differences that aren't readily apparent (the two hearts thing, etc), Gallifreyans are indistinguishable from humans, at least on the outside.

Christina: You look human.
Tenth Doctor: You look Time Lord.

Amy: You look human.
Eleventh Doctor: No, you look Time Lord. We came first.

    • The companions Adric, Nyssa, Turlough and Astrid are neither humans nor Time Lords, but are physically indistinguishable from either.
    • Countless other alien species from the Thals to the race of Appalapucia are physically identical to humans.
  • Humanity Is Infectious
  • Human Outside, Alien Inside: Time Lords have two hearts with a redundant circulatory system, a low body temperature, a respiratory bypass system, an ability to regenerate from death twelve times, a lifespan of potentially hundreds of years per body, and a complete additional sensorium tuned to temporal events.
  • Humans Are the Real Monsters:
    • A number of stories have shown future humans abusing (or enslaving) other humans or aliens, for example The Ark and "Planet of the Ood". As Gwen says in Torchwood: Children of Earth, "Sometimes the Doctor must look at this planet and turn away in shame."
    • The episode "Midnight" offers a rather different, but still very disturbing, flavor of this.
    • "Nobody talk to me! Nobody HUMAN has anything to say to me today!"
    • Humans Are Good: However, this is also inverted just as often if not more.
  • Humans Are Morons:
    • In the first season, there comes a moment when the Doctor wonders why he likes humans so much, seeing as we have "such limited brains".
    • His later incarnations seem to have pretty much the same thought. Indeed, when he's not going on about the marvelousness of humanity (a particular feature of the Tenth Doctor), he's ranting about how stupid/blind/ignorant they are. Sometimes in the same episode.
    • In "The Impossible Planet", the Tenth gave a passion-filled mini-speech about how marvelous humans were. With his next breath he talked about how stupid they were.
    • The Ninth Doctor was particularly fond of calling humans "stupid apes" whenever he was angry at us.
    • "Your species has the most amazing capacity for self-deception matched only by its ingenuity when trying to destroy itself," as the Seventh Doctor said to Ace.
  • Humongous Mecha:
    • The title character in Robot, who starts out human-sized, but becomes much, much humongouser by story's end.
    • And the giant CyberKing in "The Next Doctor".
  • Hurl It Into the Sun:
    • According to "Amy's Choice", the Doctor threw the TARDIS' manual into a supernova.
    • It's actually shown in "The Big Bang", when the Doctor flies the Pandorica into the sun (which is actually the exploding TARDIS) to restart the universe.
  • Hyde Plays Jekyll
  • Iconic Item: The sonic screwdriver, especially post-2005, where it commonly appears in publicity pictures.
  • I Did What I Had to Do: Warriors of the Deep and the Terror of the Vervoids section of The Trial of a Time Lord. Also, the end of the Time War: it was established during the Ninth Doctor's run that the Doctor had ended the War by killing all the Daleks and the Time Lords, he revealed in The End of Time the reason he'd done so was that after years of war, the Time Lords had become just as vicious and brutal as the Daleks, and would have been an even worse threat to the universe.
  • Idiosyncratic Episode Naming: Many Dalek-centric serials (mostly in the classic series, but the revival has occasionally made nods to it) have been titled "[blank] of the Daleks". The Nathan-Turner era stories used the theme of R-words like "Resurrection", "Revelation" and "Remembrance".
  • I Lied:

Mercy Hartigan: You promised me I would never be converted!
Cyber-Lord: That was designated: a lie.

    • Lady Christina in "Planet of the Dead", right before kissing the Doctor.

Remember when I said I hated you? I was lying.

    • "Rule One: The Doctor lies."
  • I'm a Humanitarian: Not-quite-cannibalism by human-appearing aliens: Shockeye in The Two Doctors and the Master in The End of Time. Actual human cannibalism: Tilda and Tabby in Paradise Towers.
    • "Jack the Ripper has claimed his last victim." "How did you find him, ma'am?" "Stringy, but tasty all the same. I shan't be needing dinner."
  • I Meant to Do That:
    • When River Song manages to pilot the TARDIS better than he does, pointing out several features he didn't know about, the Doctor insists that it's better the way he does it because it's more interesting in a tone that clearly suggests he had no idea it could do that.
    • From the Series 6 commercials. The Doctor is talking about how he can go anywhere in time and space, and that now he's in the most amazing place of all.

Doctor: Paris, France!
Amy: America, in fact.
Doctor: I was gonna say America.

    • In "The Time of Angels", River parks the TARDIS alongside the Byzantium. The Doctor remarks that she can't have parked it, because it didn't make the noise.

River: What noise?
Doctor: You know, that *imitates the TARDIS noise*.
River: It's not supposed to make that noise. It only does because you leave the brakes on.
Doctor: Well, it's a brilliant noise.

Eleventh Doctor: Get a girlfriend, Jeff! ...oh, and delete your internet history.

    • In "The Stolen Earth". The reason why Rose can't use a webcam to access the subwave network, is because Wilf's daughter won't let him use one "because they're naughty".
  • Intro-Only Point of View: Both the old and the new series begin with contemporary Earth humans puzzling out the mysterious happenings triggered by the Doctor. They shift to more minor points of view. Many episodes start with the point of view of characters in the situation where the TARDIS will arrive; some do not survive the opening, and others become much less important POVs once the Doctor arrives.
  • Ironic Echo:
    • In "Planet of the Dead", the Doctor and Malcolm Taylor each say "He hung up on me." and "Not now, I'm busy!" at different points.
    • A slightly harder to spot one is the Doctor saying 'Funny? No? Little bit?' in The End of Time Part One. The Master says exactly the same thing in "The Sound of Drums", a full series beforehand.
    • Blink and you miss it, but in "Doomsday", when Pete Tyler tells the Doctor "That's your problem", it does sound awfully familiar...
    • In Warriors' Gate, "the weak enslave themselves".
  • It Got Worse:
    • The end of "Army of Ghosts". And most of "Turn Left". Hoo boy...
    • The end of "The Pandorica Opens". Basically, Rory has killed Amy and the TARDIS explodes with River inside, erasing the universe from existence, whilst the Doctor is being locked inside the greatest prison ever constructed by all of his enemies. It really doesn't get much worse than that, honestly.
  • I Would Say If I Could Say


  • Jerkass: Eddy Connelly from "The Idiot's Lantern" was explicitly abusive to both his wife and son verbally, and strongly hinted to be physically abusive as well.
  • Joker Immunity: The Daleks, the Master, the Cybermen. Mostly the Master, really. He's a guy who just won't stay dead, and even lampshades it occasionally. The Daleks were in a war that was passing through the fabric of time and space, not to mention a few of them having the capability to make emergency temporal shifts, and thousands more being trapped in Time Lord prisons, waiting to be let out. The Cybermen were wiped out, but re-emerged from an alternate Earth where they almost took over the world and, again, were hurled through time and space, and that never seems to kill anyone permanently.
  • Just Smile and Nod: He's the Doctor.
  • Kangaroo Court: The Trial of a Time Lord and The Deadly Assassin. Also, Ian's trial in The Keys of Marinus.
  • Kill'Em All: Usually the Doctor and his companions survive, but they have been known to depart from places where all known characters died, or there might be minor survivors in the odd corners.
  • Kinetic Weapons Are Just Better: In many new series stories, future humans seem to be taken to modified P90s as their weapon of choice.
  • Kingpin in His Gym: Played for laughs when the Delgado Master, locked up in a sea fortress, exercises on a rowing machine. It doesn't seem to be working, though—the Doctor remarks that the Master has put on weight!
  • Large Ham: Has its own page.
  • The Last Dance: The Tenth Doctor himself, in the 2009 specials. At the end of "Planet of the Dead", a low-level psychic tells him he's going to die, so he spends the next episodes running around having as many adventures possible before his inevitable regeneration.
    • It occurs more literally in The End Of Time; after receiving a fatal dose of radiation, the Doctor spends his last hours visiting the people he'd cared about during his tenth life and... well, not so much saying goodbye as helping them out from a distance and then staring sadly at them before wandering off. Except for Rose, whom he meets before she met him to have one last conversation with her. The Sarah Jane Adventures says he visited every companion from all his incarnations.
    • And in "Closing Time", Eleven does it again in anticipation of getting Killed Off for Real.
    • Even before that, Eleven did it in "Let's Kill Hitler", after being poisoned by River Song and told he was cut off from regenerations and would be dead in just over thirty minutes. The Doctor's response? He takes the time to put on a nice tux, fabricate a Sonic Cane, and move the TARDIS to confront the Justice Department out to punish River for his murder.
  • Last Words:
    • The Fourth Doctor: "It's the end... but the moment has been prepared for."
    • The Ninth Doctor: "You were fantastic... And d'you know what? So was I."
    • The Tenth Doctor: "I don't want to go."
  • Laugh with Me:
    • In "A Christmas Carol", Kazran does this and follows it up with a "That was funny!".
    • Also, Henry van Statten in "Dalek". "Intruder window. That was funny!"
  • Leaning on the Fourth Wall: Part of what makes the Weeping Angels so terrifying to viewers was the implication that the audience counted as an observer when deciding when the angels can or can't move. Averted later in "Flesh and Stone".
    • The Silence get similar treatment. 95% of the time when a character interacts with a Silent and then forgets about it, it's not shown; the scene we see continues smoothly from immediately before to immediately after.
    • At the end of Series 6, we hear of the "oldest question in the universe, hidden in plain sight". It is actually only hidden in plain sight for the viewers of the show, since it's in the title.
  • Left the Background Music On:
    • In "The Stolen Earth", Mr. Smith begins his fanfare, which was assumed to be a piece of background music, but then Sarah Jane tells him to shut it off.
    • The Master's 'evil' music in the The Mind of Evil. And then he turns off his little handheld radio...
  • Let's Get Dangerous: Companions are meant to do this.
  • Licensed Game: The "adventure games" which are tied to Series 5 and 6.
    • Previously there was Destiny of the Doctors in the late 1990s and a couple of simple games for the BBC Micro and ZX Spectrum.
  • Life Drinker: Magnus Greel in the serial The Talons of Weng-Chiang attempted to stay alive by draining the life essence out of young women. Leela only just avoided suffering this fate.
  • Light Flicker Teleportation: How Weeping Angels move around.
  • Little Stowaway: This is how Adric got on the TARDIS.
  • Living Forever Is Awesome: The Doctor seems to think so.
  • Living Labyrinth
  • Living Legend: The show racks up quite a list of mythical figures.
    • The Doctor, of course. Known and feared across all of time and space. Not for nothing is he nicknamed "The Oncoming Storm".
    • Rory, aka The Lone Centurion, guardian of the Pandorica.
    • River Song, who can make Daleks beg for mercy by introducing herself.
  • Loads and Loads of Characters: The core cast is the Doctor and between one and three companions. Supporting and recurring cast is...somewhat higher, especially when taking into account all the alien races in 30 seasons of show.
  • Long Runner: 48 years of continuity. 16 straight DAYS of film. Second only to the entire Star Trek franchise in total length for Science Fiction series (23 days).
  • Loophole Abuse: The Doctor has squirmed his way out of many sticky situations using this trope. One of the best examples is from The Deadly Assassin where he postpones his own execution by becoming a candidate for President of Gallifrey.
  • Loss of Identity: Addressed at each regeneration and when he became human in "Human Nature" and "The Family of Blood".
  • Loud of War: Doctor Who has done this a time or two, with the Doctor's sonic screwdriver. Once it's plugged into a pair of speakers, he's pretty much won.
  • Love Makes You Evil: Not only for lovers.

Ninth Doctor: There isn't a little boy born who wouldn't tear the world apart to save his mummy. And this little boy can.


  • MacGuffin Girl: Charlotte Abigail Lux (CAL) and Idris.
  • MacGuffin Location: Utopia.
  • Made a Slave: Used both as the nasty side of nasty societies, and to justify keeping prisoners alive.
  • Made of Explodium/Explosive Instrumentation: Everything explodes, and if there's a computer, chances are it'll explode in a shower of sparks. Even the TARDIS. Especially the TARDIS.
    • Daleks, apparently, back in Fivey's day. Shoves one off a second story window, bam, hits the drone, instant explosion.
  • Male Gaze: The Doctor's companions have consistently been attractive young women, with some dressed in, shall we say, less than practical clothing. Ya'know, considering they're running around all of time and space, often with things with sharp teeth just a step behind.
    • This [1] article covers different aspects of the issue quite well, (lovingly) using Amy Pond as an example.
  • Man of Wealth and Taste: The Master...usually. He's not his usual smart dressed self in The End of Time. Then again, he has just come Back from the Dead, wrong too...a tailor is low on his list of priorities.
  • Mass Hypnosis
  • The Master: The Master, of course.
  • Mayfly-December Romance:
    • David and Susan in The Dalek Invasion of Earth.
    • The Doctor and Rose. Jack and everyone. Also, Ten and Madame de Pompadour, as well as (jokingly implied) Ten and Queen Elizabeth I.
  • Meaningful Background Event: Used a lot in the new series. It will usually be something relating to the finale of that series. Series 1 had the words Bad Wolf scribbled everywhere; Series 2 had everyone and their mother mentioning Torchwood; Series 3 had posters saying Vote Saxon; Series 4 featured various TV screens briefly showing Rose screaming and so on.
  • Meaningful Name: Stormcage Prison, with its literal Storms and Cages.
    • The name "Melody Pond". It ends up related to the phrase uttered by the TARDIS that "The only water in the forest is the river," meaning that that in the language of the Gamma Forests river is the only word for pond, and melody the only word for song. Therefore River Song= Amy and Rory's daughter.
  • Memetic Badass: In-universe.
    • For a Guile Hero the Doctor's very good at Badass Boasts.
    • Another in-universe example: River Song. The mere mention of her name caused a DALEK to beg for mercy.
  • Metaphorgotten:
    • "A needle that looks like hay. A hay-like needle of death in a haystack of... uhh, statues."
      • Actually, the Eleventh was pretty bad for this a lot of the time:

The Doctor: *trying to describe a Pocket Dimension* "Y'know a soap bubble that has one of those smaller bubbles stuck to the side of it?"
Rory: "Yeah?"
The Doctor: "Well it's nothing like that..."

Eleven: We're just entering conceptual space. Imagine...a banana. Or anything curved. Actually, don't because it's not curved...or like a banana. FORGET THE BANANA!

  • The Midlands: Eleventh Doctor actor, Matt Smith, is from Northampton. Also his companion Rory Williams is apparently from a small village near Gloucester (and his Scottish wife Amy living there since she was little) and the actor who plays him, Arthur Darvill, is from Birmingham.
  • Mind Rape:
    • In the 2009 specials, what was the Master was subjected to when he looked into the time vortex as a child? Turns out that the "drumming in his head" isn't a product of his insanity, but a signal sent back in time by the Time Lords High Council, which drove him into insanity.
    • And many see Donna's forced memory wipe at the Doctor's hand as a form of Mind Rape.
    • House (no, not that House) does this with Amy and Rory because... he's essentially a pocket universe that is 1408.
  • Mistaken for Gay: Rory in the "Let's Kill Hitler" flashbacks.
    • Also Eleven and Craig in "Closing Time".
  • Mistaken for Granite: The Weeping Angels.
  • Monster of the Week: Almost every episode of the series features the Doctor facing a different alien, mutant, or robotic creature.
  • Moral Guardians: Mary Whitehouse's campaign against the programme from 1975 and 1977 during Tom Baker's Fourth Doctor eventually succeeded in influencing the BBC to reassign then-producer Philip Hinchcliffe and order his replacement to tone down the levels of horror and violence.
  • Motor Mouth: Sometimes the Doctor's Techno Babble / Exposition Speak starts to blur. Lampshaded at various points by companions.
  • Mr. Smith: Whenever the Doctor needs a name he simply uses the bland pseudonym "John Smith".
    • Made stranger when the actor of the Eleventh Doctor, Matt Smith uses it.
  • Mr. Vice Guy: Jack and Lust.
  • Ms. Fanservice: Multiple examples.
    • Amy Pond, in her first appearance in "The Eleventh Hour", states that she works as a kissogram. She then says she has both a policewoman and French Maid outfit for her job. This is on top of the fact that she is already stunningly smokin'. She also has nurse and nun outfits.
    • Leela and her brief-as-they-could-get-away-with-pre-watershed leather outfits.
    • Peri, whose initial appearance was in a bikini.
  • Muggle and Magical Love Triangle: Rose between the Doctor and Mickey.
  • Mundanger: Although the earliest episodes alternated between science-fictional and purely historic episodes (the series started out as an educational show, you see), it soon evolved into a purely sci-fi show. The only post-'60s episode to feature a completely mundane threat was the Fifth Doctor story Black Orchid.
  • Murderous Mannequin: The Autons.
  • Mutilation Conga: By the end of The End of Time, the Doctor has gone through this, leading up to his regeneration.
  • My Card: The Happiness Patrol and "The Vampires of Venice" (a library card, no less) not to mention all those uses of the psychic paper.
    • Harriet Jones, Prime Minister.
  • My Friends and Zoidberg: A running gag with Donna's friend Nerys.

"This photo is just with friends. And I want all of you in it. Well, friends... and Nerys."

  • My Name Is Not Durwood:
    • The Valeyard.
    • "Ricky." "It's Mickey."
    • Ian Chesterton.
    • Steven Taylor, one of the First Doctor's Companions, would often call him "Doc". The Doctor would demand that Steven call him by his proper name.
  • The Name Is Bond, James Bond:
    • "Baines. Jeremy Baines."
    • From "Dalek", there's Goddard, Diana Goddard.
    • Pond. Amelia Pond.
  • Names to Run Away From Really Fast:
    • Any name starting with "Dalek" (e.g. Dalek Caan, Dalek Jast, etc), not to mention the Doctor's sobriquet to the Daleks: The Oncoming Storm.
    • And The Master. No-one good was ever named the Master. Come to that, 'The Doctor' has an ominous ring to it too, if only because of its anonymity. The Eleventh Doctor even invokes this trope at the start of the 5th series:

Eleventh Doctor: "Hello, I'm The Doctor. Basically, Run."

      • This has gotten to be an actual truth in-series as well, with Lorna's people (of "A Good Man Goes to War") having the word 'Doctor' mean 'Great Warrior' in their language. Heck, it's outright stated that our word Doctor was taken from him in the first place.
    • The Controller in The Macra Terror. Subverted as he's even more a slave than the rest of the colony.
    • The Vashta Nerada. Or as they're nicknamed: piranhas of the air. The translation of their formal name is even more clear: "The Shadows That Melt The Flesh".
    • Craig's son Alfie, or as he has dubbed himself: Stormaggedon the Dark Lord of All.
  • A Nazi by Any Other Name:
    • Before the events of "Army of Ghosts"/"Doomsday", Torchwood is very Nazi-like - just substitute "aliens" for "Jews". The Daleks were also based partly on the Nazis, and the Kaleds (from whom the Daleks were genetically engineered) more so. Remember it was only 18 years after the war when they first appeared.
    • In "Victory of the Daleks", the new Daleks call themselves the "Master Race". They fight Winston Churchill and the British during World War II. It's subverted in that they would destroy the real Third Reich... but also the two billion other humans on Earth at that time.
  • Nephewism: Amy Pond was raised by her aunt prior to the Series 5 finale, as was Sarah Jane Smith.
  • Neurodiversity Is Supernatural: There appears to be a link between Vincent van Gogh's madness/depression and his ability to see invisible aliens. Which one causes which is somewhat unclear, though.
  • Never Recycle A Room: Appears in Series 5. In this case, of course, there really is something protecting the room.
  • Newspaper Dating:
    • A character does this immediately after stepping out the TARDIS in "The Unquiet Dead", "Rise of the Cybermen" and "Daleks in Manhattan".
      • Not to mention the anniversary special Dimensions in Time.
    • When Kathy Nightingale is time-displaced by the Weeping Angels, she learns she was put in 1920 Hull through a newspaper.
    • Probably first employed way back in the second season (1964) story The Dalek Invasion of Earth, when the Doctor and Ian find a calendar dated 2164 in an abandoned warehouse. The fact that this only confirms that the story takes place sometime after 2164 (since there's no clue as to how long the warehouse has been abandoned) was lost on a generation of fan chroniclers.
  • Nice Hat:
    • Eleven's many fezzes.

River: What in the name of sanity have you got on your head?
Eleventh Doctor: It's a fez, I wear a fez now. Fezzes are cool.

    • In "The Impossible Astronaut", the Doctor dons a short-lived Stetson.

Eleventh Doctor: I wear a Stetson now. Stetsons are cool.

    • Before him, the Fourth and Seventh Doctors similarly featured hats as an indispensable part of their ensemble. The Fifth Doctor also frequently wore one, although as reliably.
  • Nice Job Breaking It, Hero:
    • Good work screwing the timeline over in "The Waters Of Mars", Doctor.
    • Also, the Doctor calling the Daleks out on how they were tricking everyone about their victory was exactly what they needed to create a new race of Daleks. Great work, Doctor.
  • Nice Job Fixing It, Villain: Painfully, averted in "The Pandorica Opens", played straight in "Flesh and Stone". The Doctor would have had no clue how to stop the light in the crack, if the angels hadn't suggested he sacrifice himself, which gave him the idea to sacrifice them instead.
  • Ninja Pirate Zombie Robot: The Doctor is a psychic alien time-traveling slider. Haruhi Suzumiya's head would asplode with joy were she to meet him.
  • Nobody Over 50 Is Gay:
    • Averted in "Gridlock".
    • ... And technically, the omnisexual Captain Jack Harkness, though he's still physically in his thirties.
  • No Equal-Opportunity Time Travel: Somewhat Depending on the Writer. Martha, as a black companion, usually gets away in odd settings with an appropriate alibi and some smooth talking from the Doctor. "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.
  • No Eye in Magic: Inverted with the Weeping Angels, which are only dangerous if you don't look at them. Played straight in episodes "The Time of Angels" and "Flesh and Stone", however, as they can kill you if you look them in the eye.
  • No Indoor Voice: The Sixth and Eighth Doctors, though it improves in the Big Finish audio dramas.

The Daleks: My vision is not impaired!

  • No Name Given: The Doctor has a name besides just "the Doctor", but it has never been revealed.
    • Presumably "the Master" was not a birth name, either. Or "the Monk." Or "the Rani." Or "the War Chief." Time Lords do have names, but almost all of the renegades we see prefer to go by titles (exceptions: Romana and K'Anpo).
  • Noodle Implements: Often seen in episodes where the Doctor isn't in the centre of the action and we see him in the middle of something. For example, in the end of "Blink", an episode where we mostly see the Doctor through a video screen, he's seen with a bow and arrows when the episode's temporary main character meets him, combined with a Noodle Incident. Well, four noodle incidents. Well, four noodle incidents...and a lizard.

The Doctor: Yeah, listen, gotta dash. Things happening. Well, four things. Well, four things, and a lizard.

  • Noodle Incident:
    • While the Time War in the new era has been a constant point of mention (especially when the Daleks or some re-introduced species are involved), it has never been specifically explained what exactly the Doctor did throughout the war. All that is known is that his actions resulted in the almost-complete extinction of both the Daleks and the Gallifreyan Time Lords, as well as the destruction of Gallifrey, and various other universal disturbances. This, of course, has been used as a Chekhov's Gun for the Doctor's Character Development repeatedly.
    • Events of the show are regularly presented this way to other people in universe. For instance, when Agatha Christie says her husband left her for a younger woman, Donna replies "Well, mine left me for a giant spider." It makes sense if you saw the episode, but to Agatha Christie it sounds ludicrous.
    • Also, the Doctor's dealings with Queen Elizabeth I in between "The Waters of Mars" and The End of Time. Apparently Queen Elizabeth's nickname is no longer accurate.
    • In "The Vampires Of Venice", we find out he owes Casanova a chicken.
    • At the end of "The Shakespeare Code", Queen Elizabeth shows up at the Globe Theatre, only to send her guards after the Doctor on site, calling him a "sworn enemy". This was, at the time, a noodle incident even to the Doctor, since this was the first time he'd met her and had no idea why she hated him. It's likely that whatever he did just before The End of Time was what led to this encounter.
  • No Periods, Period: Despite constantly dragging young women along on his travels, the Doctor never has to deal with this particular obstacle. Wibbly-wobbly, timey-wimey.
  • The Noseless: The Silents. They appear to have nostrils, but no definable nose.
    • The Gangers are noseless whenever they start losing cohesion, which is often.
    • Although the Cybermen have been through numerous radical redesigns since their first appearance, this has always been a constant.
  • No Sense of Humor: Most of the villains... with the notable exception of the Master.
  • Nothing Is Scarier:
    • We never find out exactly what the things in "Midnight" are.
    • Much of the Time War. We have the Nightmare Child, who was somehow obscene enough to drive Dalek Caan completely mad, not to mention the Could've Been King. The Doctor even describes the final days of the war as having almost literally taken place in hell. And we don't actually see any of it.
    • This promo for Series 6. It's six seconds long and can be pretty damn creepy.
  • Not So Different: The Ninth doctor runs afoul of this. He meets what he thinks is the last dalek and shouts at it to kill itself. "Finish the job! Remove your filth from the universe! JUST DIE!" The dalek replies, "You would have made a good dalek."
  • Novelty Decay: In the early years, we knew almost nothing about his 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 "Cartmell Master-plan" was to Retcon some of this and reintroduce the mystery.
  • Nubile Savage: Leela, although there are a few stories where she dons period clothing.
  • The Nudifier: The Defabricator. Exactly What It Says on the Tin.
  • Off the Record: The Brigadier to Sarah Jane.
  • Oh Crap: It says a lot about this show that it has its own subpage for this trope.
  • Ominous Floating Castle: The Aircraft Carrier Valiant, first seen in "The Sound of Drums", which was used by the Master as his base (of sorts) when he conquered the Earth during the Year that Never Was.
  • Ominous Floating Spaceship: Seen in "The Christmas Invasion" with the Sycorax ship. Several Dalek ships do this too.
  • Ominous Latin Chanting:
    • Murray Gold's Dalek theme (actually in Hebrew), not to mention chants performed on-screen by various spooky cults of Exxilon, Karn, Pompeii, etc.
    • The Ood songs. Justified being in Latin as it is a translated form of Classical Ood.
  • Omnicidal Maniac: Sutekh, the Beast, Davros, the Daleks, the Fendahl...
  • Omniscient Morality License: The Doctor frequently plays with this. It's been played straight, subverted, averted, and outright deconstructed depending on both writer and era.
  • One Myth to Rule Them All: A lot of myths and legends turn out to be aliens, usually with the Doctor saving the day. Or, as River Song put it:

"I hate good wizards in fairy tales. They all turn out to be him."

  • One Steve Limit:
    • Usually obeyed, although "Silence in the Library"/"Forest of the Dead" gave us Proper Dave and Other Dave.
    • Averted hard with last names: The number of unrelated characters with the last names "Smith",[6] or "Jones" [7] seems to definitely be on the excessive side.
    • Series 6 had two Georges in the space of four episodes.
  • Oop North: Three of the eight Doctors from the classic series were played by actors from from the North of England (and one from Scotland), but the two Bakers were expected to use the Queen's English. Paul McGann and Sylvester McCoy still had audible regional accents, but were toned down from their normal speaking voices. When (Mancunian) Christopher Eccleston, who played the Ninth Doctor, claimed to be "the first Northern Doctor", (Liverpudlian) Tom Baker—the iconic Fourth Doctor—called him on it.

"Lots of planets have a North."

  • Organic Ship: The TARDIS.
  • Our Time Travel Is Different: Confusing, as there is no definite description of how time changes work.
    • If a paradox is created monsterous 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".
    • Certain moments in time are "fixed" and "part of events" so they cannot be changed, others can be.
    • 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.
    • 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 One story The Aztecs to manipulation of history being the plot of the Season Two story The Time Meddler.
      • Of course, the "rules" were being explained to Barbara by the Doctor, who himself seemed surprised to find he could have an effect on history in the early [8] Season Two story The Romans.
  • 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: Actually, 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.
  • Our Zombies Are Different:
    • "The Waters of Mars".
    • And the Gelth's hosts in "The Unquiet Dead". And the eponymous "Empty Child", at a pinch. A later episode refers to the enemy as "gas mask zombies".
    • The Curse Of Fenric combined this with Our Vampires Are Different, somehow.
    • The New Humans in "New Earth", at least thematically.
    • Staff Sgt. Arnold in The Web of Fear.
    • Robomen in The Dalek Invasion of Earth.
  • Out-Gambitted
  • Overly Long Name:
    • The villain in "The Long Game": the Mighty Jagrafess of the Holy Hadrojassic Maxarodenfoe. His Dragon, the Editor, calls him "Max".
    • Also, the planet that the Slitheen are from, Raxacoricofallapatorius.
      • This is made even funnier by the fact that its sister planet is named Clom.
    • Romanadvoratrelundar.
    • Stormageddon, Dark Lord of All (a.k.a. Alfie) in "Closing Time".


  • Pajama-Clad Hero:
    • The Tenth Doctor, for some time after his initial regeneration.
    • Amy Pond, almost straight after entering the TARDIS in "The Beast Below".
  • Panty Shot: Jo in The Three Doctors, Nyssa in Terminus, Ace in The Curse of Fenric.
  • Parent Service: A lot of it, referred to as "for the dads", although both male and female Fan Service occurs.
  • Percussive Maintenance:
    • Thumping things often gets them working again... including the TARDIS. In fact, the Doctor has a mallet on a piece of twine on the console for just that.
    • According to State of Decay, this is an easy way of telling when technology is from Earth.
  • Perspective Magic
  • Phlegmings: During his big reveal at the climax of The End of Time Part One, Rassilon sprayed quite a bit.
    • The Eleventh Doctor also gets this quite a bit.
  • Phony Newscast: Common—often using real newscasters—in the present-day episodes in the Davies era of the show.
  • Pirate Booty: The Smugglers, "The Curse of the Black Spot" and, in a very Douglas Adams way, The Pirate Planet.
  • Pocket Dimension: Technically speaking, the inside of the TARDIS is one of these.
    • Also the domain of House and his caretakers Auntie, Uncle, and Nephew in "The Doctor's Wife".
  • Politically-Incorrect Villain: The Master (as Harold Saxon) and Jeremy Baines.
  • Pound of Flesh Twist: In The Five Doctors, Time Lord President Borusa, having manipulated the Doctors into granting him access to Rassilon's tomb, claims the reward of immortality promised to the winner of the game of death. Rassilon grants it, which, unfortunately for Borusa, takes the form of being turned into a living statue.
    • In "The Hand of Fear". Eldrad the Kastrian, having long ago been executed by his people for attempting to usurp rulership of Kastria, is resurrected on Earth many centuries later. He returns to Kastria to become its ruler, only to find the planet entirely dead. A final message from King Rokon (the king who Eldrad planned to usurp) crowns him 'King of Nothing'.
  • The Power of Love: "The Doctor Dances", "Fear Her", "Victory of the Daleks", "Night Terrors" and "Closing Time".
    • Played with in "Closing Time", after Craig is able to overcome the Cybermen process of turning him into their leader byhearing his son crying and in need of him. It is so strong it feeds back into the rest of their circuits and undoes their emotional inhibitors, which makes their heads explode. Doubles as Papa Wolf moment as well.

"I blew them up with love..."
"No, that's impossible, and also grossly over-sentimental and over-simplistic. You destroyed them because of the deeply ingrained hereditary trait to protect one's own genes, which in turn triggered a... a..." *everyone is staring at him* "Yeah. Love. You blew them up with love."

    • Subverted in The Curse of Fenric. Ace's love and faith in the Doctor prevents the Ancient One from moving to attack Fenric. To defeat the ancient god, the Doctor is forced to cruelly and methodically disavow his companion, calling her a social misfit and emotional cripple and turn her trust and love into hatred.
  • Pre-Mortem One-Liner: Several.

The correct form of address is your majesty.

    • John Lumic in "Rise of the Cybermen" to a dissenter.

And how do you expect to do that from beyond the grave?

    • Rose in "The Satan Pit", to the Devil himself (maybe).

Go to hell.

  • Primal Fear: How the show is so scary, especially in the Moffat era and Davies era stories written by Moffat.
  • Psychic Powers:
    • The Doctor has a number of these, though he seldom uses them. Other aliens sometimes wield them as well.
    • Some human characters possess them too: the Sibylline Sisterhood in "The Fires of Pompeii", Gwyneth from "The Unquiet Dead", Tim from "Human Nature"/"The Family of Blood" and Carmen in "Planet of the Dead".
  • Psychopathic Manchild: The Celestial Toymaker from the story of the same name, Hindle from Kinda, the John Simm incarnation of the Master.
  • Public Secret Message: The "Bad Wolf" Arc Words as well as the Doctor's DVD extra message in "Blink".
  • Punctuated! For! Emphasis!:
    • From "The Vampires of Venice": "We! Are! VENETIANS!"
    • Several versions of the Doctor were fond of this.
    • Case in point: Eleven in "The Pandorica Opens": ''re all whizzing about, could you please stop for a minute BECAUSE I! AM!! TALKIIIING!!!!!"
    • Ten: "IT. IS. DEFENDED!"
    • Where. Is. My. Wife.
  • Ragnarok Proofing:
    • The eponymous Impossible Planet, imprisoning the devil (sort of) since before time and matter itself.
    • Subverted in "The Doctor's Daughter". It's initially assumed that the spaceship containing the Source and the Precursors to the war's combatants is many years old and should have burnt out, yet is working fine. It later turns out that thousands of generations of cloning is actually only a week, and the "abandoned" city was never populated to begin with.
  • Raygun Gothic: Cybermen and Daleks.
  • Really Seven Hundred Years Old:
    • The Doctor, in every incarnation. Even the one with the oldest body, One, looks positively spritely for four-hundred. And Eleven was cast at age 26, despite the Doctor now claiming to be 1100-ish (And from "Aliens of London" up until "The God Complex", claimed to be younger than the figure used by his seventh incarnation)
    • Captain Jack.
    • Rory, while bodily a normal age, still remembers the ca. 1800 years he lived through is an Auton body in the "The Big Bang"-timeline.
  • Red Baron: The Daleks call The Doctor the Bringer of Darkness and the Oncoming Storm. But the most telling is probably the name he is given by the Face of Boe: The Lonely God.
  • Redemption Equals Death: Several examples throughout the series.
  • Red Herring: The new series is especially fond of throwing these out for viewers trying to figure out the its various ongoing mysteries. The Arc Words for the 2009 specials, for example ("he will knock four times") were given at least four or five false explanations before we found out the truth (and if you add fan speculation, go ahead and multiply that number by a couple of thousand.)
  • Redshirt Army: UNIT soldiers. From the villain side, many.
  • Regularly-Scheduled Evil: Subverted in that is not always the same evil, but evil always attacks/tries to invade at Christmas.
  • Reign of Terror: The First Doctor visited the original French one in the story of the same name, each Doctor has overthrown at least one.
  • The Reptilians: The Silurians, Sea Devils, and Ice Warriors.
  • Reset Button:
    • Sometimes used to tell stories that otherwise would not fit into the Doctor Who format ("Turn Left" and "Last of the Time Lords").
    • "Father's Day" is another use and Margaret Slitheen and Donna both get their own personal Reset Buttons.
  • Resurrection Sickness: The result of a regeneration.
  • 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 of the preceding series (most notably, the 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.
  • Retcon: The insertion of a previously-unknown regeneration between 8 and 9 (played by John Hurt) in the fiftieth-anniversary special "The Day of the Doctor".
  • Reverse Polarity: Multiple examples, including "Reverse the polarity of the neutron flow" and the sonic screwdriver.
  • The Revolution Will Not Be Civilized: The Reign of Terror, The Robots of Death.
  • Ripple-Effect-Proof Memory:
    • Exploited in several serials involving direct rewrites of history, most notably the Year That Never Was in "The Sound of Drums"/"Last of the Time Lords".
    • Also 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.
      • Heartbreakingly subverted in "Cold Blood", which shows that time travelers are not immune to Ret-Gone if what is removed was a part of their own reality--poor, poor Rory.
  • Roar Before Beating: The Daleks shouting "EXTERMINATE" before opening fire, giving their target, provided they're not a Red Shirt, plenty of time to escape.
  • Rock-Paper-Scissors:
    • Used to flummox the logical disco robots (the Movellans) in Destiny of the Daleks.
    • In "The Satan Pit", the Doctor uses it to decide who goes first - he claims he psychologically imprinted the idea of paper in her brain by saying the word 'paper' to her earlier, so she would choose it.
  • 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.
  • Rule of Cool
  • 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 conspicious the characters can be without being found by the search party.
  • Running Gag:
    • The TARDIS' broken chameleon circuit and wonky steering. More recently, the fact that it never really snows at Christmas beyond the 19th century. On one occasion, it was ash from an exploding ship, on another it was ballast from another ship's re-entry.
    • There's also:

Harriet Jones: "Harriet Jones, former Prime Minister."
Whoever she's talking to at the moment: "Yes. We/I know who you are."

      • Even the Daleks get in on this.
    • The Doctor always hoping to be a ginger when he next regenerates.
    • The Eleventh Doctor's constant indignant repeatings that "Bow Ties Are Cool".
      • As are fezzes and stetsons. This gag seems to be expanding to a universal template for goofy clothes.

Eleven: I wear an X now. Xes are cool.
River Song: *shoots the X*

    • "It's bigger on the inside."
    • As well, 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."
    • River jumping out of windows.
    • The Doctor starting a metaphor, realising it doesn't work and saying: "Not X. Forget the X."
    • The Doctor's relationship with Queen Elizabeth I, as referenced in "The Shakespeare Code", The End of Time, "The Beast Below", "Amy's Choice" and "The Wedding of River Song". Particular attention is drawn to her nickname, "the Virgin Queen", and how she "cannot use it anymore".
    • 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?"


  • 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.
    • Averted with River Song, who never meets with the Doctor in the right order. In his first meeting with River, she's already formed a very long and complicated history with him that he hasn't experienced yet.
    • Also averted in "The Shakespeare Code", as the Doctor finds himself running away at the end of the episode from an antagonist that he had yet to "antagonise". In fact, the Doctor apparently later married Queen Elizabeth I.
    • Also averted in "Blink" where Sally Sparrow discovers at the end that the only reason the Doctor was able to record a message in the past telling her what's going on and what to do is because SHE gives him the message in the future. The Doctor naturally has no idea who this crazy girl is when he meets her.
    • Also averted in The Five Doctors when the Second Doctor meets the Brigadier after both have left UNIT (from the Brig's point of view) and the Third Doctor meets Sarah Jane after the Fourth Doctor dropped her off in not-Croydon.
    • For The End of Time Part One, the Ood elder implies that because the Doctor waited to meet them and went off on other adventures after the events of "The Waters Of Mars", things are going badly because of this. Events happening in modern day only just affecting the Ood.
    • Unfortunately averted in The Trial of a Time Lord where Mel has met the Doctor, but he hasn't met her yet. We never do see how she first meets him, she just gets in the TARDIS with him at the end.
    • Averted with Lorna Bucket in "A Good Man Goes to War", who recalls the time she ran with the Doctor, but the Doctor has no idea who she is.
  • Sapient Ship: The TARDIS.
  • Scary Dogmatic Aliens: The Doctor's faced several examples, but the new series Daleks pretty much take the cake.
    • The Daleks have since been supplanted by the Silence, who are explicitly a religious order dedicated to taking down the Doctor, among other undetermined things.
  • 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.
  • Scry vs. Scry
  • Sealed Evil in a Can:
    • The Tomb of the Cybermen, The Ice Warriors, The Dæmons, Pyramids of Mars, The Seeds of Doom, The Awakening, "The Unquiet Dead", "Dalek", "The Impossible Planet", "The Satan Pit", "Army of Ghosts", "Doomsday", "The Runaway Bride", "The Shakespeare Code", "Utopia", "The Waters of Mars", "The Time of Angels" and "The Hungry Earth".
    • The time lock keeping all life from entering and exiting in the Time War could be seen as this, especially from what we've learnt about the Time Lords in The End of Time.
    • According to info supplied in one of the novels, the green slime in Inferno was evil deliberately sealed in a planet, even though nobody in the T.V. story knew that.
  • Sealed Good in a Can: The Doctor himself in "Human Nature" and "The Family of Blood" as well as in the end of "The Pandorica Opens", and Amy in the beginning of "The Big Bang".
  • Searching the Stalls: In "Partners in Crime", and it turns out that the bad guys are actually searching for a different person, also a spy, who happens to be in the cubicle next to Donna's.
  • Self-Made Orphan: The Doctor destroyed his people, including his parents, and his entire planet to end the Time War.
  • Sensor Suspense:
    • Earthshock: The expedition base camp has a scanner that shows life-signs moving around in the cave system the expedition is exploring. Over the course of the episode we get dots suddenly disappearing (expedition members being killed), a dot that fades in and out (the thing that's killing them, which is alien enough to confuse the scanner), and dots suddenly appearing (the Doctor and friends arriving, just in time to be accused of the murders).
    • The dragon hunt in Dragonfire, a flagrant Alien homage.
  • Sequel Episode:
    • The Curse Of Peladon and The Monster Of Peladon.
    • The Dalek episodes from "Army of Ghosts" to "Journey's End" directly follow on from one another. The surviving Daleks from "Victory of the Daleks" came from the Dalek invasion of "The Stolen Earth". A similar use happens with Cybus Cyberman stories from "Rise of the Cybermen" to "The Next Doctor".
      • There's an argument to be made that the entirety of the new series is essentially a sequel of sorts to Genesis of the Daleks, as some have theorized that the Time Lords' forcing The Doctor to destroy the Daleks was what essentially pulled the trigger on the Time War in the first place, resulting in the destruction of Gallifrey, among other things.
    • "The End of the World", "New Earth" and "Gridlock" are season-apart stories loosely connected to the Face of Boe's final message to the Doctor.
    • "Mission to the Unknown", the Dalek Cutaway, led into The Daleks' Master Plan, two serials later.
    • Satellite Five (and all the mess the Doctor's involvement caused) reappears in the Series 1 finale, after an assumed one-off encounter with the Mighty Jagrafess in "The Long Game".
    • While Torchwood was a recurring Arc Words in Series 2 (with the Doctor meeting a group identifying as the Torchwood Archive in "The Impossible Planet" and "The Satan Pit"), the Doctor's only direct encounters were at the founding in "Tooth and Claw" and his capture by (and the subsequent slaughtering of the team of by the real villains) Torchwood London in "Army of Ghosts".
    • Series 4, 5 and 6 have a recurring string of non-consecutive River Song episodes ("Silence in the Library"/"Forest of the Dead"; "The Time of Angels"/"Flesh and Stone", "The Pandorica Opens"/"The Big Bang", "The Impossible Astronaut"/"Day of the Moon", "A Good Man Goes to War"/"Let's Kill Hitler"..., though from her point of view, they're (mainly) prequel episodes.
    • The End of Time picks up from The Master's death at the end of "Last of the Time Lords".
    • "Closing Time" is a followup encounter with Craig from "The Lodger".
    • Kinda and Snakedance.
  • Seven Deadly Sins:
    • Some species have one of them as a hat.
      • The Time Lords have Pride.
      • The Androgums have Gluttony.
      • The Mentors have Greed.
      • The Daleks, who are devoted to Wrath. Also the Sontarans, who literally are a warrior race.
  • 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.
  • Ship Tease: And a lot of it.
  • Shirtless Scene: The Third Doctor in Spearhead From Space, the Ninth in "Dalek", a meta-crisis clone of the Tenth in "Journey's End" and the Eleventh in "The Lodger". Also, Eight...while wearing a shroud, no less.
  • Shout-Out:
    • The Tenth Doctor is fond of these.
    • David Tennant's final episode, The End of Time Part Two was seemingly a 75 minute Star Wars homage: Bernard Cribbins shoots down aggressors from an on board ack-ack gun a scene that Davies described as making him seem like Luke Skywalker); in an act of self-sacrificial redemption, the Master casts arc lightning at his superior in order to save the protagonist, (Vader-style sporadically visible skeleton thrown in for good measure); we even see Captain Jack hanging around in what is definitely an alien cantina.
      • The actions of Cribbins' character as detailed above avert the phenomenon by which Luke Skywalker, upon climbing into the gunner's chair in the Millennium Falcon, was able to work the thing on the first try without being told. Wilfred screams frantically for instructions, and gets them, but fortunately they aren't all that complex.
    • "The Stolen Earth", where Rose and the Doctor are running to each other in the street and a Dalek attacks, feels to some like a homage to West Side Story.
    • "The Beast Below" has a fairly ambitious quotient of these. There's Star Wars (the royal Action Girl, the heroes landing in the garbage chute, "you're my only hope", the villain looks like an expy for Grand Moff Tarkin, finding oneself inside the digestive tract of a giant space creature), Discworld (the [astral plane] ship that was never meant to fly, the space whale that looks just the ones in The Last Hero, and the final shot of the country being carried on the back of the giant space-sea-creature), and The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy (involving a miraculous whale, and Amy is new to space/time travel and wears pajamas).
    • The name and garbs of the army in '"The Time of Angels"/"Flesh and Stone" is obviously a shout-out to the Imperial Guard, although with quite different ranks.
    • River's relationship with the Doctor, a woman who falls in love with a time traveller and meets him in the wrong order throughout her life is a pretty obvious shout-out to The Time Traveler's Wife.
    • The name of Bowie Base One in "The Waters of Mars" is a shoutout to David Bowie's song Life On Mars. It later also works as a shoutout to Space Oddity with astronauts stranded and knowing that they are about to die. In the same episode, there's a shout out to 28 Days Later with a character becoming infected just by looking up and a single drop falling on to their eye from above.
    • In "The Runaway Bride", the Racnoss Webstar bears a striking resemblance to the Cylon Basestar of the reimagined Battlestar Galactica. Both ships are made with Y shapes stacked on each other. The names are also quite similar.
    • The Toclafane bear an uncanny resemblance to the spheres from Phantasm, right down to being powered by the brains of the creator's human victims. Bonus points for the similarity between this and this.
    • In "Flesh and Stone", the ship is referred to as "Galaxy-class".
    • The Eleventh Doctor once referred himself to a decaying Silence ship as Captain Troy Handsome of International Rescue and to state the nature of the emergency.
    • The Eleventh Doctor tells Amy he's like, "I dunno, Gandalf! A space Gandalf. Or the little green one in Star Wars, *lightsaber noise*"
    • The Curse of Fenric has Ace's grandmother cry out "Where shall I go, what shall I do?!"
  • Shower Scene: The Third Doctor in Spearhead from Space and the Eleventh in "The Lodger".
  • Shut Up and Save Me
  • Sickly Green Glow: Most monsters.
  • Single-Target Sexuality: Rory for Amy in the flashbacks of "Let's Kill Hitler" (causing her much confusion).
  • Signature Device: The Time Lords' sonic screwdrivers and TARDIS.
  • Skeleton Key: The Doctor's sonic screwdriver often acts as one of these.
    • In the serial Carnival of Monsters, the Doctor complains that he can't open a non-electronic lock with the sonic screwdriver. Jo Grant responds by producing an impressive collection of skeleton keys.
    • In at least one Series 6 episode, the screwdriver succeeds at unlocking a door bolted from the other side. Perhaps green is just better at that...
  • The Sky Is an Ocean: In "A Christmas Carol", the Series 6 Christmas episode.
  • Slow Motion Fall: Several falls from high places, notably the Cyber-Controller in "The Age of Steel" and most of the Doctor's team in "Voyage of the Damned".
  • Somebody Else's Problem: Justifies Hidden in Plain Sight above and Unusually Uninteresting Sight below.
  • Space Is an Ocean: "Voyage of the Damned" has a space Titanic orbiting Earth, which almost crash-lands into Buckingham Palace.
  • Space Is Noisy:
    • In "Victory of the Daleks", laser fire from the Dalek ship and the British Spitfires can be heard. Justified - the genius scientist has created a bubble of gravity and oxygen, which was how the spitfires came to be in space. Thus, there was sound.
    • Averted in "The Parting of the Ways"—Lynda (with a 'y') looks out a window of the space station to see a Dalek looking in at her. Though we can't hear it, the lights on its head clearly flash in synch with the word "EXTERMINATE!"
  • Space Whale Aesop:
  • Spinning Out of Here: The TARDIS spins as it flies through the Time Vortex.
  • Spoiler Opening: "Doomsday".

Rose Tyler: This is the story of how I died.

    • Subverted, because it refers to her fictional 'death' in her home universe; she ended up stuck in a parallel one.
    • Then again in "Cold Blood".
  • Spot of Tea:
    • The Daleks from "Victory of the Daleks":

"Would you care for some tea??!!"

    • Jackie Tyler and Mickey Smith in "The Christmas Invasion". Doctor Who being Doctor Who, it actually assists the Tenth Doctor's regeneration cycle.
  • Stable Time Loop: In "Blink", Ten is able to save Sally Sparrow by leaving the instructional DVD for her, because Sally Sparrow was still around a few years later to give him the transcript before he went back.
    • Donna suggests ideas to Agatha Christie about books she hasn't written yet. Agatha "forgets", but likely remembers them well enough to invent them herself years later.
    • The Red Nose Day short "Time" runs on this - Amy, Rory, and Eleven all get info from their past selves then go back in time to deliver it.
    • Amy named her daughter "Melody" after a friend she grew up with; said friend turned out to be her daughter waiting for The Doctor to show up.
      • This character falls prey to it a lot, really. River Song only calls herself that because that's what Team TARDIS call her when she first regenerates. The 'spoiler' thing only became a catch-phrase for this reason. Pretty much, her whole live could be called a Stable Time Loop- she could only have been born if she'd sacrificed her life in the library so her parents could conceive her on the TARDIS.
  • Staff of Authority: Brigadier Lethbridge-Stewart often carried a Swagger stick with him, and the Sontaran baton is a device is carried by certain high ranking officers of the Sontaran Empire symbolizing rank as well as being functional.
  • Star-Crossed Lovers: The Tenth Doctor and Rose.
    • Kazran and Abigail in "A Christmas Carol".
  • Star-Killing:
    • The Hand of Omega.
    • The Doomsday Weapon in Colony in Space.
  • Starfish Language: For when the Translator Microbes are broken, absent or just unable to cope. See "The Long Game", "Partners in Crime", "The Doctor's Daughter", "Planet of the Dead", The Web Planet, "The Waters of Mars" and The Creature from the Pit for a notoriously suggestive classic series example.
  • Starfish Robots: The metal casings that the Daleks and the Toclafane use for transportation and combat.
  • Staring Kid: Common. One example being the group of kids at the end of "Closing Time". An interesting example, since they actually had some influence on the story! The next scene shows River Song reading interviews with the grown-up children about their memories of the Doctor.
  • Station Ident: For Christmas 2009, BBC One has a specially-filmed Doctor Who ident (following the special Wallace and Gromit idents for Christmas 2008). Watch It Here.
  • Stock Lateral Thinking Puzzle: The Fourth Doctor gave one to Davros at the end of the adventure where he was revealed to have escaped being killed by the Daleks (just before being put in cryo for transport to his trial):

Doctor: All elephants are pink, Nelly is an elephant, therefore Nelly is pink. Logical?
Davros: Perfectly.
Doctor: Do you know what a human would say to that?
Davros: What?
Human: Elephants aren't pink.

  • Stop or I Shoot Myself: The Eighth Doctor in the TV movie.
  • Strange Syntax Speaker: The Malmooth Chantho begins every sentence with Chan, and ends it with Tho. Apparently, to not do this is rudeness the equivalent of swearing in the Malmooth language.
  • Stunned Silence: Half-way through the regeneration cycle the 10th Doctor manages to stop the process in the episode "Journey's End", his looks unchanged, while Donna, Rose and Captain Jack are all expecting him to look different, are utterly stunned into silence.
  • Stylistic Suck: Harrison Chase's music in The Seeds of Doom.
  • Sufficiently Advanced Aliens: The Time Lords are repeatedly referred to as "self-appointed gods" and at least once (in the Expanded Universe) mentioned as having exceeded level four of the Kardashev scale.
  • 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 sort-of lampshaded it when Gwen wonders if the Doctor is looking down on the Earth in shame.
  • Super Weight:
    • Type -1: The hapless soul who dies in the teaser or in the classic series, the opening scene of Part 1
    • Type 0: Most companions and companions' family members, UNIT scientists, historical figures
    • Type 1: UNIT soldiers and other human soldiers, Brigadier Lethbridge-Stewart, Torchwood staff, a few companions
    • Type 2: Captain Jack Harkness, the Doctor (with flashes of Types 3 and 4 on occasion), the Master, Romana, most Time Lords, The Doctor Donna, Davros, most villains and races, the Ood (including Ood Sigma), the Face of Boe, Rory in the Series 5 finale, River Song.
    • Type 3: The Daleks, the Cybermen, The Master (in The End of Time), the Weeping Angels, several villains.
    • Type 4: The Black Guardian, the White Guardian, the Animus, the Great Intelligence, Sutekh, the metamorphosed Solonians, the Midnight monster, The Bad Wolf Entity, the TARDIS, higher Time Lords (including Rassilon), the Star Whale, the Eternals, the Beast, the Silence, House, presumably the Skaro Degradations, Horde of Travesties, Nightmare Child, and Could've-been King[9]
    • Type 5: The Key to Time and its wielder.
  • Swirly Energy Thingy: The Time Vortex.
  • Switch to English: In the serial The Curse of Fenric, a group of Russian soldiers are on a secret mission in England. The first scene has them speaking Russian with subtitles, then their leader says "From now on, we speak only English," and they do.
  • Sword Fight: The Third Doctor with the Master in The Sea Devils, The Fourth Doctor in The Androids of Tara, the Fifth with the Master in The King's Demons, and the Tenth and his new hand with the Sycorax in "The Christmas Invasion".
  • Take a Third Option:
    • The Doctor's good at finding these.
    • Subverted in Series 5's "The Beast Below", in which the Doctor's third option is just as horrific as the other two... on first glance. It's Amy who figures out that there's a miscommunication going on and the second option isn't that bad after all...
  • 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?"). Counts as a Take That between the actors and Self-Deprecation for the character.
    • In "The Almost People", the Ganger!Doctor is coming to grips with his various regenerations. At one point he speaks in the Tenth Doctor's voice, immediately following up with "We've moved on!" Likely a Take That to the large amount of David Tennant fans that still want him back.
  • Talkative Loon: The Eleventh Doctor may be this, but it's certainly a side effect of a Time Lords regeneration as evidenced by both the Doctor's regenerations (Nine into Ten and Ten into Eleven) and The Master's regeneration in "Utopia".
  • The Tape Knew You Would Say That: The Tenth Doctor's recorded message from 1969 in "Blink".
  • Technical Pacifist:
  • Techno Babble:
    • Averted when Steven Moffat writes. He did invent the Timey-Wimey Ball.
    • It went insanely overkill in Series 4's finale.
    • Subverted in "The Girl in the Fireplace".

Doctor: It must be a spacio-temporal hyper-link.
Mickey: What's that?
Doctor: I dunno. I just made it up. I didn't want to say 'magic door'.

    • Made fun of slightly in "A Christmas Carol". While Abigail is calming the shark with her singing, the Doctor attempts to ruin the magic by technobabbling about how it works (something about resonating delta wave patterns...). He gets several fishbites for his trouble and is shushed.
  • Temporary Love Interest: Rose Tyler, River Song, and every companion or person the Doctor ends up loving or falling in love with.
  • Tentative Light
  • That Liar Lies:
    • The episode "Dalek" sees the title character respond to the Doctor's claim to have wiped out the Dalek race with "YOU LIE!"
    • Suki Macrae Santrell's biography is called out as being the work of a liar by Satellite Five's Editor successively in "The Long Game".
  • Themed Aliases: The Master tends to use aliases which are anagrams of "master" or mean master in another language. From Nu Who, Mister Saxon is an anagram of "Master No. Six" (this being the sixth incarnation of the Master that we've seen). Word of God is that it was a coincidence.
  • Theme Naming: After Series 4, companions had a tendency to be named after bodies of water. Jackson Lake, River Song (a.k.a. Melody Pond), Amy Pond, Adelaide Brooke ...
  • The "The" Title: During the Second Doctor era, only Fury from the Deep did not start with "The", and its working title was The Colony of Devils.
  • This Banana Is Armed: "Pssh, what could a screwdriver do?" is a pretty common reaction at first. But did we mention it's sonic?
  • This Is My Human: The Doctor has always insisted that the stole ("borrowed") his TARDIS from a museum in order to see the universe. But in "The Doctor's Wife", when the TARDIS' soul is implanted in a human host, she insists that she stole him!
  • Thoughtcrime: The Happiness Patrol, where enforced cheerfulness was the law on one planet.
  • Three-Way Sex: Captain Jack alluded to this when three Doctors (kind of) turned up in "Journey's End".

Jack: I can't tell you what I'm thinking.

    • "I've come from the Doctor, too." "But from a different point in the time stream." "Unless there's two of them." "That's a whole different birthday."
  • Threesome Subtext: Pretty much any time the Doctor has two companions (especially in the new series), this comes up.
  • 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 Romance:
    • In "Human Nature" and "The Girl in the Fireplace".
    • The Doctor's and River Song's relationship may be the worst possible version of this, as they keep meeting each other in the opposite order.
  • Time Travel Tense Trouble: Inevitable, given the Doctor's constant travels through time.
  • Timey-Wimey Ball
  • Title Drop: Once in a while. Just in case you'd forgotten the last time someone asked, "Doctor who?", but sometimes "Doctor what?" just to screw with you.
    • More prominently, they do this in the sixth season finale. "DOC... TOR... WHO?!"
    • Also in the episode "Amy's Choice".
  • Took a Level in Badass:
    • The Russell T. Davies era has a recurring theme of the Doctor turning the companions into badasses.
    • Mickey, during "The Age of Steel" and culminating in his Darker and Edgier persona in "Army of Ghosts", "Doomsday" and "Journey's End". This started in "World War Three" when after a whole year of being slandered and accused of killing her daughter, he doesn't even think, he immediately picks up a baseball bat to defend Jackie Tyler and tells her to run while he holds it off.
    • Donna, who goes from a person whose best achievement is being the "best temp in Chiswick" to being able to make the entire Dalek race's weaponry useless, not to mention making them spin in circles uncontrollably.
    • In "The Big Bang", {{spoiler|Rory does this, first by becoming a legendary figure while protecting the Pandorica for nearly 2000 years, and then in this scene}:}

Rory: Do you think?
Then he shoots the Dalek with his 'hand' gun.

    • Amy Pond in "The Girl Who Waited". She's become a proficient warrior, sword fighter, hacker and designed her own sonic screwdriver.
  • Town with a Dark Secret: The Daleks, "The Velvet Web", The Savages, The Macra Terror, "Amy's Choice".
  • 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.
  • Translation Convention/Translator Microbes: Started as the former, then was justified as the latter.
  • Trash the Set:
    • The End of Time Part Two - The Tenth Doctor's Regeneration into Eleven results in Stuff Blowing Up and some pillars falling down inside the TARDIS. Oddly enough, the set is mostly intact as of series 6, having been used as a backup control room in "The Doctor's Wife". Instead, word on the tubes is that the old Torchwood hub set (which was previously demolished off-screen) donated its sound stage to the new set for the TARDIS.
    • This also happened to Solon's laboratory in The Brain of Morbius when the Doctor was looking for an air vent.
  • Trust Me I'm a Doctor: More like, "Trust me, I'm the Doctor." From "The Eleventh Hour".
  • Turn the Other Cheek
  • The Un-Reveal: In "The God Complex", all we get from The Doctor's fear room is the sound of the Cloister Bell and the Doctor musing "Of course, who else would it be?"
  • Unfazed Everyman: The Doctor's many companions.
  • Unflinching Walk:
    • The Seventh Doctor in The Greatest Show in the Galaxy.[10]
    • The Tenth Doctor embraces this, he often walks from explosions and combined with sheer Tranquil Fury unnerves his enemies into submission.
    • More like running, but if taken as canon and was meant to be the explosion in "Rose", the teaser of the Ninth Doctor had him run down a ordinary corner quite calmly. Then we notice the massive fireball chasing him.
    • Rose in "The Stolen Earth" when she was walking on the street and a Dalek blows up a house / path a little way behind her.
  • Universe Bible: Somewhat notable for being a Long Runner TV show and not having one.
  • Unrobotic Reveal: Daleks.
  • 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 Somebody 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.
  • Up to Eleven:
    • The Doctor turns his church organ volume up at the climax of "The Lazarus Experiment". He even uses the trope name when he does it.
    • The Doctor himself fits, in more ways than one.
  • 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. He's also mentioned on several occasions that he's stolen or borrowed it. The Time Lords were also phasing out that particular TARDIS model for being outdated when the Doctor nicked it.
The Deadly Assassin and Shada both had an aged, senior Time Lord reminiscing about how he "hadn't seen a Type 40 since [he] was a boy."
    • There has been run-down human technology too (ie "42" and "The Impossible Planet"/"The Satan Pit"). It's implied that these are the more industrial purposes that run alongside the shiny futuristic tech.
  • Utopia Justifies the Means:
    • The villains in Invasion of the Dinosaurs and Robot thought this.
    • Supposedly the motivation behind the Cybus Cybermen's massive conversion factories: they plan to "upgrade" humanity by force in order to eliminate emotions and the pain connected to them:

Cyber Leader: This broadcast is for humankind. Cybermen now occupy every landmass on this planet; but you need not fear. Cybermen will remove fear. Cybermen will remove sex, and class, and colour, and creed. You will become identical. You will become like us.


  • Vichy Earth: The Dalek Invasion of Earth, Day of the Daleks, The Sun Makers, "The Stolen Earth"/"Journey's End".
  • Victoria's Secret Compartment:
    • The Unicorn uses this to hold the firestone in "The Unicorn and the Wasp".
    • In "New Earth", Lady Cassandra in Rose's body hides her tranquilising spray this way.
    • River Song hides her hallucinatory lipstick this way.
  • Video Inside, Film Outside: Throughout most of the classic series, though Spearhead from Space was entirely in film. Some episodes shot studio segments on film to make them "feel" outside.
    • Many early episodes, however, were originally recorded on video but only preserved as film telerecordings made for overseas sales. It has only recently become possible to reprocess the film recordings (using the Vid FIRE process) to restore the original video "feel" for DVD release.
  • Villain-Beating Artifact: Subverted in the "Last of the Time Lords" episode, Martha Jones spent the whole year searching for a weapon, which was divided into four parts. It's shown in the end that the quest for the Villain-Beating Artifact was all a ruse to distract from Jones' real objective.
  • The Virus: Inferno, "The Empty Child"/"The Doctor Dances". The Cybermen, being techno vampire/zombies, are a form of virus.
  • Walking the Universe
  • Wasn't That Fun?: The Doctor is fond of this quip.
  • The Watson: The role of all the companions, or close enough.
  • We All Do It Together: "Arachnids in the UK", the fourth adventure of the 13th Doctor, ends with the Doctor, Graham, Yaz and Ryan all grasping the lever that activates the TARDIS and pulling it as one to symbolize their active decision to travel together.
  • Wealthy Ever After:
    • In The End of Time, the Doctor's present to Donna outside her wedding is a lottery ticket.
    • At the end of "Voyage of the Damned", The Doctor leaves Mister Copper in London with just the credit card he had put some money on for passengers to buy Earth trinkets. Turns out he underestimated the value of the British Pound and loaded it with a million Pounds!
    • In "Doomsday", Rose gets this sort of future since Alternate Universe Pete is a wealthy businessman.
  • Weapons Grade Vocabulary: There is a audio Drama where Donna defeats a blob monster with nothing but pure indignation.
  • We Have Forgotten the Phlebotinum:
    • The Doctor is regularly separated from the TARDIS or his sonic screwdriver. An interesting example is in The Daleks, in which the Doctor intentionally invokes this trope (by pretending his fluid link is broken) because he wants to explore the planet they've just arrived on. He doesn't know that the planet in question is Skaro...
In "The Eleventh Hour", the TARDIS and Sonic Screwdriver are there, but the TARDIS is rebooting and the Sonic Screwdriver is fried.

The Doctor: "No TARDIS, no screwdriver, two minutes to spare... Who da man?"

The Doctor: "Alright I'm never saying that again, fine!"

  • Welcome to the Liberator
  • Well-Intentioned Extremist: The Reign of Terror, The Massacre, Invasion of the Dinosaurs, Robot, Remembrance of the Daleks.
  • Wham! Episode:
    • The End of Time Part One. That last twenty seconds. To drop some major spoilers in: The Time Lords aren't just back, they're the ones trying to do as the title says.
    • "The Impossible Astronaut". It starts with the Doctor's Final Death. Except not really, but we don't know this for certain until the finale.
    • And straight after that, "Day of the Moon". The young girl from the Apollo spacesuit is implied to be Amy's daughter. This possibility is made even more confusing by the fact the TARDIS can't determine whether Amy is actually pregnant or not. To top things off, the girl is seen wandering the streets close to death at the end of the episode...and then it STARTS REGENERATING! Yes, as in Time Lord-style regenerating. River kisses the Doctor at the end of the episode, confirming their relationship is DEFINITELY romantic to some degree.
    • "The Almost People". Amy's been piloting a Ganger body for a long time, possibly for all of the first half of Series 6, with the real Amy being kept by a Midwife from hell. Oh, and she's in labor.
    • "A Good Man Goes to War". At that point, Series 6 basically becomes a Wham Season.
    • The theme of Series 6 being a Wham Season continued in "The Wedding of River Song", where we find out that the Doctor who was shot in Utah was actually a Teselecta, that the Doctor's exact relationship with River is that they're married, that it will be the Doctor who will cause silence to fall, and that the Question is Doctor Who.
    • While basically every fan these days is familiar with regeneration, the switch from the First Doctor to the Second Doctor must have been a massive Wham Episode for viewers back in the 1960s.
    • The Trial of a Time Lord episode 13. The Valeyard is really a corrupted future incarnation of the Doctor, employed by the Time Lord High Council to destroy the Doctor to prevent him from revealing their role in the attempted genocide of the human race. The Doctor's only ally in this is the Master, who (obviously) cannot be trusted.
    • "The Traitors" (episode 4 of The Daleks' Master Plan). Two companions (Katarina and Bret Vyon) are killed in two separate incidents, book-ending the episode.
  • What Year Is This?: Used more often than not, given it's a time travel show.
  • 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.
  • Whooshing Credits: Several uses.
  • The Wonka: All of The Doctors qualify.
  • The World Is Always Doomed:
    • Two stories, The Ark (1965) and "The End of the World" (2005) have gone whole hog and actually shown the Earth gettin' blowed up.
      • A third story, Frontios (1984) mentions the Earth's destruction at length without actually depicting it.
    • Especially during Christmas specials in the Russell T. Davies era—well, London Is Always Doomed, at any rate. The residents have picked up on this after two successive Christmases running of destruction and chaos, and get out of town for Christmas Day.
  • World of Badass
  • World of Ham
  • World War I: The ending of "The Family of Blood". The war is also alluded to throughout "Human Nature" and "The Family of Blood" Also the setting for the initially visited War Zone in The War Games.
  • World War Two: The settings of The Curse of Fenric, "The Empty Child", "The Doctor Dances", the final scene of "The Beast Below", "Victory of the Daleks", "The Pandorica Opens" (partially), with "The Big Bang" using the fires of the London Blitz as a plot point and "The Doctor, the Widow and the Wardrobe".
  • Xanatos Gambit: So very many.
    • Special mention should be made of "Victory of the Daleks", in which the Daleks run an elaborate Xanatos Gambit in which pretty much every possible outcome has them come out ahead. And it works!
  • The X of Y: By far the single worst abuser of this trope, guilty of it no less than 116 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, Bargain, Battle, Bell, Brain, Bride, Brink, Carnival, Cave(s), Change, Claws, Coronas, Crater, Curse (3 times), Dalek Invasion, Day (5 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, Image, Invasion, Keeper, Keys, Knight, Land, Last, Mark, Masque, Massacre, Mind, Monster, Music, Parting, Planet (8 times), Power, Priest, Prisoners, Pyramids, Reign, Remembrance, Revenge, Resurrection, Revelation, Rise, Robots, Roof, Sea, Seeds, Sentence, Snows, Sound, State, Stones, Talons, Temple, Terror (3 times), Time, Tomb, Trap, Tyrant, Vampires, Victory, Voyage, Wall, War, Warriors, Waters, Web, Wedding, Wheel
    • Column Y: Androzani, Angels, Armageddon, Autons, Axos, Black Spot, Blood, Conciergerie, Cybermen (4 times), Daleks (10 times), Damned, Danger, Darkness, Dead, Death (7 times), Decay, Decision, Deep, Destruction, Dinosaurs, Disaster, 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, Sacrifice, Secrets, Skulls, Spheres, Spiders, Spy, St Bartholomew's Eve, Steel, Steven, Sun, Tara, Terror, Time (5 times), Time Lords, 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 and The Day of Time.
    • So overdone that the title convention itself was parodied in The Curse of Fatal Death.
  • You Already Changed the Past: Heavily implied every time the Doctor interacts with and saves a historical figure; the Doctor and companions probably wouldn't remember the celebrity as well or at all if they failed. It's particularly obvious when the Doctor turns out to be responsible for historical events, like the destruction of Pompeii, or the short disappearance and memory loss of Agatha Christie. The Doctor says certain points in history are "fixed", unchangeable, but for plot reasons he never elaborates on which ones.
    • One time he is seen clearly changing the past (well, the past relative to the future anyway) is when he saves the crew in "The Waters of Mars". He does manage to save 3 survivors, but Adelaide Brooke, the important one, kills herself to restore the timeline anyway, leaving only cosmetic changes, and giving us a nasty taste of what happens when you change a fixed point.
  • You Are Number Six: As the Doctor fills Craig in psychically in "The Lodger", the Eleventh Doctor simply responds: "Eleven" to Craig's rambling gibberish.
  • You Could Have Used Your Powers for Good
  • You Have Failed Me...:
    • Many a Big Bad says this.
    • Notably averted in The Talons of Weng-Chiang, in which The Dragon is simply fired, and sets out to save face on his own.
  • Your Head Asplode: The Cybermen, Daleks and others.
  • You Will Be Assimilated: The main objectives of the Cybermen.
  • You Wouldn't Like Me When I'm Angry: The Doctor (Ten and Eleven get special mentions).
  • "You?" Squared: Used in "Partners in Crime", in which the Doctor and Donna meet for a second time—except they do it in mime, through a window.
  • 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 show a preponderance of men in technical or scientific roles.
    • Called out in "School Reunion" regarding K9's appearance after Rose calls him "Disco". The Doctor retorts: In the year 5000, this was cutting-edge!
  • Zeppelins from Another World: Specifically, the other world that the Cybus Cybermen came from.
  1. William Hartnell, Patrick Troughton, Jon Pertwee, Tom Baker, Peter Davison, Colin Baker (no relation to Four), Sylvester McCoy, Paul McGann, Christopher Eccleston, David Tennant, Matt Smith, Peter Capaldi
  2. as opposed to the actor's native Scottish accent
  3. some humourless fans have exhaustively compared location shooting dates for the two shows and determined that this could never have happened
  4. there's a seventh if you count the Starship UK from "The Beast Below"
  5. This was later bypassed with a power-receiving antenna dish mounted on their backs, but even that was soon forgotten.
  6. Mickey Smith, Sarah Jane Smith, and the Doctor's alias John Smith
  7. Ianto Jones, Martha Jones, Harriet Jones, Clifford Jones
  8. (prior to the Time Meddler arc)
  9. considering the Doctor was more worried about them getting out of the Time Lock than the Daleks...
  10. Also McCoy himself. The pyrotechnics were a mite bit bigger than expected, but McCoy knew there'd be no second shot, so just kept rolling. His clothes were actually partially set on fire in that shot.