Virgin New Adventures

Everything About Fiction You Never Wanted to Know.
Jump to navigation Jump to search
There are worlds out there where the sky is burning, and the sea's asleep, and the rivers dream; people made of smoke and cities made of song. Somewhere there's danger, somewhere there's injustice, somewhere else the tea's getting cold! Come on, Ace. We've got work to do.
The Seventh Doctor, Doctor Who: Survival

So it was, in the latter months of 1989, that the Doctor and Ace were seen walking into the sunset after vanquishing another evil. Naturally, the production teams shut up, the writers moved on, and the fans forgot about that quaint little sci-fi series-that-was.

Pfft. Like hell.

Running from 1991 to 1997, this series of 61 novels focused on the continuing adventures of the manipulative Seventh Doctor and his companions. The series, commonly referred to as the "New Adventures" ("VNAs" sounding like some sort of disease), expanded upon the Seventh Doctor's penchant for playing people-chess with both enemies and friends, and gave it realistic consequences.

The ability to tell a story in 300 pages instead of 20 minute episodes allowed the writers to provide deeper, more thought out stories along with more than a few story arcs, both universal and character-based. The writers also opted for a Darker and Edgier tone, with... varied success. At first, many readers didn't know how to take the sudden increase of sex, violence and foul language in what many pictured (and post-2005, picture) as a family show, and the writers may have gone a wee bit overboard in adding "maturity". But after some small teething problems, the novels quickly found their feet.

The quality varied, as one would expect considering the wide array of authors that worked on it. One of whom was Paul Cornell, who adapted Human Nature into the Tenth Doctor story "Human Nature"/"The Family of Blood".

The Doctor's companions over the course of the series were:

  • Ace, rebellious teenager from 1980s England, who had been the Doctor's companion when the TV series ended.
  • Ace, cynical space mercenary -- the same person, following a Plot-Relevant Age-Up to get her out of her teens and into adulthood, but in many respects a new character. (Of whom not all the fans approved -- but perhaps that goes without saying.)
  • Bernice Summerfield, archaeologist from the future. Created by Paul Cornell. A fan favorite, the New Adventures series was retooled as her new adventures after The BBC took back the Doctor Who literature license.
  • Roz Forrester and Chris Cwej, Salt and Pepper police detectives from the 30th century, who joined the Doctor after he helped them uncover a conspiracy so large that leaving the galaxy until the heat died down suddenly seemed like a good idea.

From 1994 onwards, the New Adventures were accompanied by a sister range of novels entitled "The Missing Adventures", which adopted similar principles to the New Adventures -- longer, usually Darker and Edgier novels aimed at more adult audiences -- but instead applied them to Doctors One to Six, with each monthly novel starring a different Doctor and companion(s). The first of these, Goth Opera, was a direct sequel / prequel (Let's just say 'timey-wimey' and leave it at that, yeah?) to Blood Harvest, a New Adventure published the same month, and one of the later ones actually featured the Seventh Doctor and his companions appearing (both of these novels, curiously enough, starred the Fifth Doctor), but they were for the most part stand-alone, although certain characters and concepts naturally mixed together.

Followed by, funnily enough, the Eighth Doctor Adventures, which took the principles started here (of taking a slightly deeper look at everyone's favourite time traveler), and just went ballistic applying them to the relative blank-slate that was the Eighth Doctor.

Tropes used in Virgin New Adventures include:
  • Adventurer Archaeologist: Bernice "Benny" Summerfield.
  • Aesop Amnesia: It seems like there's a few times over the course of the books where the Doctor learns that he has to stop treating his companions like pawns and resolves to mend his ways -- only to start treating his companions like pawns again, usually in the very next book.
  • Area 51: Corman Air Force Base, Nevada, in First Frontier.
  • Artifact Collection Agency: The Library of St John the Beheaded, which collects books containing information for which The World Is Not Ready.
  • Bait and Switch Lesbians: the TV show's implications about Ace's sexuality are rather spectacularly contradicted in the books.
  • Beach Bury: Happens to the Doctor in the Beach Episode epilogue of The Also People.
  • Beethoven Was an Alien Spy: Gilgamesh and Enkidu fought a cybernetic construct (Timewyrm: Genesys); the Doctor worked with Al Capone to try and keep the peace among Chicago's gangs (Blood Harvest); Akhenaten helped Ace escape Ancient Egypt, while Benny went on an expedition with Vivant Dominique Denon, father of modern archaeology (Set Piece); and William Blake travelled with the Doctor (The Pit).
  • Belly Buttonless: Time Lords are constructed by machines and so lack navels. The Doctor is an exception.
  • Bizarre Alien Biology
  • Black Bug Room: In The Room With No Doors, the eponymous Room (which the Doctor starts dreaming about being trapped in) functions as a Black Bug Room for the Doctor, although its actual origin and purpose turns out to be something quite different.
  • Boggles the Mind: Played with in Conundrum: The Doctor and another character play a game of Scrabble in which every word is significant -- and the Doctor immediately points to this as a sign that their actions are being controlled by an outside force.
  • Cannibalism Superpower / You Are Who You Eat: In Human Nature (which was later adapted for the TV series, but without this aspect), one of the members of the Family is a shape-shifter who can imitate any animal he's eaten part of, including humans. If he does it while they're alive, he can also gain their memories.
  • Captain Ersatz: The Also People revolves around the Doctor's dealing with "the People", whom the author has openly admitted were heavily inspired by The Culture.

Ben Aaronovitch: I'd like to remind everyone that while talent borrows and genius steals, New Adventure writers get it off the back of a lorry, no questions asked.

  • Cartwright Curse: Ace, continuing a trend from the TV series.
  • Catch Phrase: "Hello, I'm the Doctor and this is my friend [companion's name]", to the point that later novels started lampshading and playing with it.
  • Comic Book Fantasy Casting: Several of the authors have gone on record as doing this.
    • Paul Cornell imagined Benny Summerfield as being played by Emma Thompson. (This gets a shout-out in The Dying Days (not by Cornell, but by Lance Parkin, see below), where she's at a cocktail party in 1990s England and has a confusing conversation with a woman who has mistaken her for somebody else.)
    • Lance Parkin reportedly casts Ian Richardson in nearly all of his novels; this is most obvious in The Dying Days, where Lord Greyhaven bears a striking resemblance to Richardson's most famous real-life role, the politician Francis Urquhart in House of Cards (British series).
    • Another author who does it a lot is David A. McIntee. The villains in White Darkness are Hammer Horror stalwarts Peter Cushing and Ingrid Pitt. The ultimate villain in First Frontier is Basil Rathbone.
    • Sherlock Holmes, in the Crossover All-Consuming Fire is also Basil Rathbone, at least on the front cover. On the cover of Happy Endings he isn't (reportedly the cover artist was explicitly instructed not to, possibly because the novel also features the villain from First Frontier), but Watson is Nigel Bruce.
  • Compensating for Something: Benny's reaction the first time she encounters the Master and his TCE.
  • Constantly Curious: Discussed in The Also People.
  • Continuity Nod: NA writers loved to take moments from Classic Who and play with them. For example: the moment in "The Happiness Patrol" where the Doctor talks a sniper out of shooting him with a Hannibal Lecture. If that speech ever gets quoted in a New Adventures novel, the Doctor is about to get shot.
  • Continuity Porn: Some of the novels were arguably this for the TV series. Happy Endings, the 50th New Adventure, was definitely this for the New Adventures themselves, featuring a plethora of returning characters and a festival of loose-end-tying. Likewise, Return of the Living Dad, published near the end of the run; it basically exists to tie up the novels' largest remaining loose end, and also ties off a bunch of smaller loose ends that Happy Endings missed, all the way back to a What Happened to the Mouse? question from the second story arc.
  • Contractual Immortality: Played with in the final Doctor Who New Adventure, which was accompanied by a rumour that Virgin were going to spite the BBC by killing the Doctor off, and features quite a bit of foreshadowing to that effect, starting with the title: The Dying Days. The Doctor is apparently killed halfway through, but it's a Never Found the Body situation and he shows up alive and well in the climax, just in time to save the day.
  • Cranial Processing Unit: Lampshaded in Original Sin.
  • Crossover: All-Consuming Fire sees the Doctor team up with Sherlock Holmes, while Timewyrm: Genesys is basically a crossover with The Epic of Gilgamesh.
  • Crossword Puzzle: All-Consuming Fire has a fun incidental joke involving the Doctor struggling with the Times crossword.
  • Danger Room Cold Open: Played with in First Frontier, where the first chapter has a scene with the Doctor and Ace that ends with them both dying, then turns out to be a training simulation for the bad guys: the villain has crossed paths with them before, knows the odds are in favour of the Doctor showing up at the worst possible moment, and wants his mooks to be ready.
  • Darker and Edgier: Famously so. The first handful of novels took things a wee bit too far, with a lot of gratuitous sex, violence and foul language, but the series later found its feet.
  • Deconstruction: Of the Seventh Doctor and his Manipulative Bastard / Chessmaster ways. Much of the series touches on the fallout of the Doctor's less than spotless ethics and how people..."appreciated" it.
  • Decoy Leader: In Death and Diplomacy, the leader of the notoriously devious Saloi is a figurehead, and the real power rests in the hands of a certain apparently minor official -- but it turns out that he is himself a decoy, acting on coded instructions from the true leader. This comes as a surprise even to the true leader, who had had himself mentally conditioned to not be consciously aware that the decoy wasn't really in charge.
  • Deus Est Machina: In The Also People.
  • Did You Get a New Haircut?: In All-Consuming Fire, the Doctor leaves Benny in India, and picks her up again two months later:

"There's something different about you." He frowned, and looked me over again. "Don't tell me. Let me guess."
"Doctor, I..."
"It's the hair, isn't it? You've had your hair done."
"No, I..."
"I know! You've lost weight."
I sighed.
"No, Doctor, I'm disguised as a man."
He checked again.
"Are you? How very Shakespearean. Well, I'm sure you've got a good reason."

  • Die Hard on an X: GodEngine traps thirtieth-century cop Chris Cwej in a Martian military base, upon which he promptly proceeds to wreak mayhem using a strategy his partner informs us is officially known as "The McClane Protocol".
  • Disappeared Dad: Benny Summerfield's father, who went Missing in Action under circumstances that resulted in him being branded a coward and traitor. The truth of his disappearance was ultimately revealed in the shamelessly-titled Return of the Living Dad.
  • Discontinuity Nod: Various novels include references to various dubious Doctor Who spin-offs in ways that establish their unreality (Dimensions in Time was a literal nightmare, the Out of Character Dalek Attack video game was a cathartic daydream, the "Doctor Who" stories in TV Comic only happened in the Land of Fiction, and so on).
  • Dog Food Diet: The Future Slang glossary at the back of Transit includes "Petfood Monster" for an extremely poor person.
  • Double Meaning Title: Just War
  • Dysfunction Junction
  • Dyson Sphere: The setting of The Also People.
  • Easy Amnesia: The first novel opens with Ace suffering amnesia, which goes away once all the As You Know exposition required to set up the series has been delivered.
  • Eats Babies: The villains in St. Anthony's Fire. One of them offers the Doctor a candied baby cheek, which he politely declines.
  • Eldritch Abomination: Several, including guest appearances by Cthulhu and other Lovecraftian creations. A few novels suggest this also applies to the Time Lords and the Doctor too.
  • Everybody Lives: Played with in Sleepy, where the Doctor explicitly challenges himself to save the day without anybody dying: "villains, innocents, everyone".
  • Everybody's Dead, Dave: Being a non-regular in a Jim Mortimore novel is an almost certain death sentence. (One of his novels has the last surviving member of the supporting cast eaten by a gratuitous giant lizard on the second-to-last page, just in case the readers thought he was going soft.) And given his penchant for massive cataclysms, you're not even safe if you stay off the page; just being on the same planet as a Jim Mortimore plot is a hazard to life and limb. Or in the same solar system. Or, in one memorable instance, the same universe.
  • Everybody Is Single: The decision to give ex-companion Bernice Summerfield her own spin-off series -- in which, as lead character, she would be expected to participate in romantic-interest subplots -- led directly to the messy collapse of her marriage, which upstaged the violent deaths of a tenth of the Earth's population. This, less than a year after an entire novel was devoted to the wedding and much effort was expended in assuring readers that it was Happily Ever After-type True Love.
  • The Doctor Cannot Comprehend Humans: Now that we get a look into his inner monologue, the Seventh Doctor is just far more alien here. His inability to relate to his companions on an emotional level is an ongoing Story Arc.
  • Evil Eye: In "Time's Crucible", the Sibyl steals an eye from a decapitated Sphinx and substitutes it for one of her own, to boost her waning prophetic powers.
  • Excited Episode Title: Sky Pirates!
  • Exotic Entree: In St. Anthony's Fire, the Big Bad offers the Doctor candied baby cheeks.
  • Famous Ancestor: The Forrester family take great pride in being able to trace their ancestry back to Nelson Mandela.
  • Foreign Cuss Word: Some time after the series stopped using real swear-words, David A. McIntee got away with having a character in First Frontier say something very impolite in Russian. (The same character in the same book also says something slightly less impolite in Klingon.)
  • A Form You Are Comfortable With/Appearance Is In The Eye Of The Beholder: The novel Sky Pirates! heavily implies this applies to The Doctor himself, and the TARDIS too. This was an idea of the author Dave Stone which never really caught on with the rest of the Whoniverse.
  • Friendly Address Privileges: The Doctor's latest companion meets the Master for the first time: "Summerfield. Bernice Summerfield. My friends call me Benny, but you can call me Professor Summerfield."
  • Fun T-Shirt: The Also People mentions that on a previous adventure the Doctor's then-companions bought a matched set of shirts from a custom screen-printing stall saying "Hello, I'm Ace and this is my friend the Doctor", "Hello, I'm Benny and this is my friend the Doctor" and "Hello, I'm the Doctor and this is my friend [delete where applicable]".
  • Future Imperfect: Happens a lot with future archaeologist Bernice Summerfield, who sometimes gets to catch out her contemporaries on historical events, and sometimes gets caught out herself on things she thought she knew about the 20th century.
  • Future Music: In The Highest Science, trends in 22nd century music (and associated subculture) are explicitly organised by the record companies, and one character is considered weird for continuing to listen to a genre that's been declared Last Season. "Headster" music is the equivilent of pseudo-deep, drug-based psychedelia, whereas the current trend is "Freakster", which seems more like bubblegum pop.
  • Genius Loci:
    • The 1991 novel Timewyrm: Revelation featured Saul, the spirit of a church in Cheldon Bonniface, England.
    • The 1992 novel Transit featured a 22nd-century interplanetary subway system (the "stunnel") that had become so complex that it had evolved sentience.
    • Lungbarrow, the Doctor's family House on Gallifrey, from the 1997 novel of the same name (and really, most Houses on Gallifrey).
  • Giving Radio to the Romans: In Just War, an incautious time traveller accidentally gives the Nazis a technological leg-up, resulting in them developing stealth bombers in time for World War II.
  • Good Cop, Bad Cop: In The Also People, Roz and Chris discuss what approach to take to a suspect, considering several variants that are standard in their time before settling on "standard Aristocracy drill: Good Cop, Downright Sycophantic Cop".
  • The Greys: First Frontier, set in the 1950s, features the Greys.
  • Half-Human Hybrid: In First Frontier, the alien Tzun (The Greys of 1950s UFO lore) create the Ph'Sor (the Nordics of 1950s UFO lore) by combining Tzun and human DNA.
  • Hardboiled Detective: Dekker in Blood Harvest is a hardboiled detective in the Raymond Chandler vein.
  • Have We Met Yet?: Because of the way time is distorted in the setting of Cat's Cradle: Time's Crucible, the first time (for her) that Ace meets the Phazels, they already know who she is. From her point of view, she meets their earlier selves a little later.
  • He Who Fights Monsters
  • Human Aliens: The human-seeming "Nordic" aliens of 1950s UFO lore appear in First Frontier, where they are genetically-engineered Half Human Hybrids created by The Greys.
  • Humanoid Abomination: One of the authors (specifically, Dave Stone) liked to hint that Time Lords are incomprehensible multi-dimensional entities bearing no more resemblance to the humanoids the audience knows than Jim Henson to Kermit the Frog. The idea doesn't seem to have caught on, though.
  • Hurt/Comfort Fic: A recurring theme, particularly in the novels of Kate Orman; two novels (Orman's Set Piece and Paul Cornell's Human Nature) have chapters actually titled "Hurt/Comfort".
  • I Have This Friend: Lampshaded in Original Sin:

'Doc, there's something I need to ask you... It's -- well...'
'It's about this friend of yours,' the Doctor prompted.
'Yeah. Right. He's got a problem.'
'Friends always do.'

  • Instant AI, Just Add Water: Transit has a weird (possibly parodic) variant of the "any system will become self-aware if it's just complex enough" version -- where the system in question is the much-extended future London Underground.
  • Insult Backfire: In First Frontier, the villain's description of his ultimate gambit draws a response of "That's despicable" -- to which he replies, "Thank you, my dear. One tries one's best."
  • Is the Answer to This Question "Yes"?: Played with in All-Consuming Fire -- Ace says, "Does the pope wear a funny hat?" Watson, who met the pope earlier in the story, replies, "Not the last time I saw him."
  • It Is Pronounced "Tro-PAY": Inverted by Chris Cwej. His surname should be pronounced "Shvay", but because everyone pronounces it "Kwedge" he's decided to go along with it. In his first appearance, although his new partner Roz Forrester pronounces it correctly, he corrects her.
  • It Seemed Like a Good Idea At the Time: Human Nature
  • Journey to the Center of the Mind: In Timewyrm: Revelation, Ace gets pulled into the Seventh Doctor's psyche by the titular Timewyrm.
  • Just One Second Out of Sync: Used to hide the TARDIS in The Also People.
  • Keeper of Forbidden Knowledge: The Library of St John the Beheaded
  • Leaning on the Fourth Wall: The final Doctor Who New Adventure, The Dying Days, includes a conversation between two fans about the final movie of a famous sci-fi franchise, and the fact that because it was the final one the audience for once couldn't be sure that the main characters had Contractual Immortality. The relevance to the main characters of The Dying Days is obvious and entirely deliberate.
  • Lemony Narrator: Conundrum has a Lemony Narrator who turns out to be a character in the story and a Reality Warper whose narration is causing the narrated events to occur.
  • Levitating Lotus Position: In Sky Pirates!, there's a scene where Benny finds the Doctor "sitting in a lotus and ... levitating three feet off the deck -- something he swore blind that he could only do occasionally and with concentrated mental effort, but which Benny had lately come to suspect was the result of being so engrossed he simply forgot to stay on the ground." (They're in a pocket universe with weird physics, which may or may not explain it.)
  • Little Old Lady Investigates: Parodied in Ship of Fools with the character of Agatha Magpole.
  • Living Ship:
    • The Cool Ship in Sky Pirates!
    • Several of the novels offer hints that the TARDIS itself is alive.
  • Lovecraft Lite: Several of the novels use Lovecraftian elements, and they're all inevitably Lovecraft Lite, sometimes to an eye-rolling extent. One of the more self-aware is All-Consuming Fire, which alternates the narration between a Public Domain Character 19th-century guest, who finds the experience full of incomprehensible strangeness and mind-scarring horror in classic Lovecraft fashion, and the Doctor's companion, who's much more blasé about the whole thing. ("Rugose alien monstrosities? What, again?")
  • Majored in Western Hypocrisy: The Eton- and Cambridge-educated Nizam of Jabalhabad in All-Consuming Fire.
  • Maligned Mixed Marriage: Leela and Andred's relationship in Lungbarrow. The other Time Lords find it rather embarrassing that Andred is with a 'non-Gallifreyan'. Leela and Andred, however, don't mind at all.
  • Metal Detector Checkpoint: The "terrorists sneak specially-designed weapons through the metal detector" trope is played with in Theatre of War. In the future, everybody uses rayguns, and the security checkpoints are designed to detect their energy sources; the assassin walks straight through carrying, concealed but otherwise unmodified, a perfectly ordinary 20th-century gunpowder handgun taken from a museum.
  • Milestone Celebration: The 50th New Adventure, Happy Endings, marked the occasion with Benny's wedding, with characters from most of the previous books turning up, plus a chapter featuring contributions from almost every author in the range up to that point, apart from Jim Mortimore.
  • Misery Builds Character: In the first of the New Adventures, the Doctor uses this as an excuse for abandoning Ace in the company of an increasingly drunk and horny Gilgamesh. Luckily, Enkidu is present in the role of the Only Sane Man. In the whole of Mesopotamia.
  • The Mothership: The Tzun Stormblade in First Frontier.
  • The Music Meister: Rojahama's Song-and-Dance, from Sky Pirates!, is a force of nature, or perhaps some kind of meteorological effect, that causes spontaneous outbreaks of Crowd Song complete with Spontaneous Choreography. (The planet on which this occurs is in a solar system that, for reasons explained later in the book, is basically one giant Weirdness Magnet.)
  • Myth Arc: Concerning the Doctor's true identity and the murky origins of the Time Lords.
  • The New Adventures
  • Not So Different: In Original Sin, the Doctor is trapped in a room with homicidal maniac Zebulon Pryce, who claims that the Doctor's Technical Pacifism is not so different in practice from Pryce's usual behaviour, and challenges him to prove otherwise.
  • Old Cop, Young Cop: Forrester and Cwej
  • Omniscient Morality License: The Doctor frequently claims that his role as 'Time's Champion' gives him the right to play with people's lives as if they were pawns -- he can see how time is supposed to function and is engaging in his chess games for the greater good of all. Naturally, the people whose lives he's playing with tend not to find this justification very convincing.
  • One Phone Call: The Doctor expresses a belief in the legally-mandated one phone call when he and his companions are arrested in First Frontier, but it's not put to the test.
  • Organic Technology: See Living Ship.
  • Pardon My Klingon: After some early unsuccessful experiments with real swear-words, the series stuck with this, most commonly using the future-swear-word "cruk".
    • First Frontier has a classic example of an alien using an alien swearword in the middle of an English sentence. It also has Ace saying "smeg" a lot (the author originally had her using real swearwords, but the editor made him take them out), and at one point she says something impolite in actual Klingon.
  • Parrot Expowhat: In First Frontier, when Ace warns an FBI agent their opponents will probably be armed with disruptors. "Dis-what?"
  • Phantasy Spelling: For reasons unknown, the title of the first New Adventure is Timewyrm: Genesys, spelling "genesis" with a Y.
  • Pig Latin: Original Sin has the Doctor working with some military types to stop an alien starship that's leaking dangerous radiation. When he has to go and retrieve the TARDIS, knowing that the military probably want to seize the ship for their own purposes, he gives their commander a message to pass on to Benny: "Ashtray the ipshay".
  • Playing Both Sides: First Frontier initially seems like a standard Alien Invasion, but it turns out that the real villain of the novel is playing both sides against each other to achieve his own goals.
  • Plot-Relevant Age-Up: As part of the series' quest for "maturity", teen companion Ace left the series in Love and War and rejoined a few novels later as an adult. (Yay, time travel.)
  • Pocket Protector: Subverted in Death and Diplomacy, where Jason Kane tells a cynical anecdote of his grandfather, who went away to war wearing a crucifix of great sentimental value. One day, a bullet fired at him hit the crucifix -- which shattered, aggravating a wound that would otherwise not have been lethal.
  • Portal Network: The Transit Network of portal-trains in Transit just covers the solar system (although the book describes an attempt at a Stellar Tunnel). Most people have a better idea of the shape of the network than of the physical system. It's a parody of The Tube, of course.
  • Power Born of Madness: In Timewyrm: Exodus, the Timewyrm tries to possess Adolf Hitler and is instead trapped in his mind by his madness.
  • Promoted Fanboy: The editors of the series made a point of being accessible to first-time authors--going so far as to recruit them from fanzines and the like--which led to quite a few of the novels being written by fans. Some names you might recognise: Paul Cornell, Mark Gatiss, Russell T. Davies...
  • Purple Eyes: The Half Human Hybrids in First Frontier all have blond hair and violet eyes.
  • Radio Mouth: The Doctor's conversation with Centcomp in So Vile a Sin. The system wasn't designed to have a voice of its own, so it speaks "in a jarring mix of words, snipped from media sources".

'I,' she said, in the voice of a little girl. 'Know,' said a deep-voiced man with a Southern accent. 'You,' said an elderly woman.

  • Rank Up: Brigadier Lethbridge-Stewart gets promoted to General at the end of The Dying Days, the last of the Doctor Who New Adventures.
  • Rashomon Style: During the murder investigation in Lucifer Rising.
  • Required Spinoff Crossover: As a promotional tie-in the first Missing Adventure, Goth Opera, was a sequel to Blood Harvest, the New Adventure released in the same month. (That is, for the Doctor Goth Opera happened first, but for several other characters who appeared in both books Blood Harvest happened first. Ah, time travel.)
  • Right-Hand-Cat: The Master has a black one on his first appearance in the novels, a callback to his last TV appearance. Benny, not knowing its history, snarkily asks him if it's black for copyright reasons.
  • Rule Number One: A character-defining moment in Set Piece.
  • Running Both Sides: In Toy Soldiers, there's a war where it turns out that both sides are being run by the same supercomputer, which had set the whole thing up because it had heard somewhere that periods of conflict often produce flowerings of creativity.
  • Safecracking: The Doctor does a bit of the old listen-to-the-tumblers safecracking in First Frontier.
  • Salt and Pepper: Companions Chris Cwej and Roz Forrester, Adjudicators from 30th century Earth (that time period's police). In a variation on the trope, Chris was the wide-eyed rookie, while Roz was the older, jaded and cynical veteran.
  • Second Hand Storytelling: Theatre of War has plot-relevant Conversational Troping regarding the use of this in stage plays, with particular reference to a famous play about a group of soldiers who meet up after a battle and tell each other what just happened.
  • Self-Deprecation: In one of Terrance Dicks's novels, one character mocks another because he can't come up with a better description for that sound the TARDIS makes than "a wheezing, groaning noise". It's the same description Dicks always used in the Doctor Who Novelisations he wrote.
  • Shout-Out: First Frontier, being a 1950s SF movie homage, has numerous shout-outs to those movies, including Invasion of the Body Snatchers (the Doctor squares himself with the American authorities by reminding the CIA of the help he gave them with an "illegal alien" problem in Santa Mira in '56), The Day the Earth Stood Still (including the inevitable Klaatu Barada Nikto), and even The Rocky Horror Picture Show (Doctor Von Scott has a cameo as a scientist brought in to examine UFO wreckage).
  • Show Within a Show: "Nightshade" (an Expy of Quatermass) and "Professor X" (an Expy and Affectionate Parody of Doctor Who itself).
  • Significant Anagram: Multiple examples. One notable one is "Interstellar Nanoatomic ITEC" in Original Sin, which only works because the author declared that in the Future, "ITEC" will be a common company-name suffix like "Ltd" or "Inc".
  • Sky Pirate: In Sky Pirates!
  • Smart House: Ubiquitous in The Also People.
  • Smoking Barrel Blowout: The villain of First Frontier, after using a remotely-operated bomb to make a killing, blows across the top of the remote control device "as if blowing smoke from the barrel of the gun".
  • Space Pirates: In Sky Pirates!, the eponymous pirates fly between all the planets of their solar system, so are technically space pirates as well.
  • The Spanish Inquisition: Show up in Sanctuary.
  • Spontaneous Human Combustion: All-Consuming Fire features what first appears to be a case of this, but it ultimately turns out to have been murder-by-pyrokinesis.
  • Starfish Aliens: Many, many examples.
  • Starts with Their Funeral: So Vile A Sin begins with a one-page prologue entitled "The Body on Page One", in which one of the Doctor's companions is killed, then flashes back to show how and why it happened. The death had originally been planned as a surprise ending, but the book was delayed (Ben Aaronovitch's computer crashed) and books with the character already dead were published first, so the book was rewritten to go the Foregone Conclusion route.
  • Stock Unsolved Mysteries: The origin of the San Francisco Fire in All-Consuming Fire.
  • Story Arc: Four major ones:
    • The Timewyrm quartet: Timewyrm: Genesys, Timewyrm: Exodus, Timewyrm: Apocalypse and Timewyrm: Revelation.
    • The Cat's Cradle trilogy: Cat's Cradle: Time's Crucible, Cat's Cradle: Warhead, and Cat's Cradle: Witch Mark.
    • The Alternate Universe cycle: Blood Heat, The Dimension Riders, The Left-Handed Hummingbird, Conundrum and No Future.
    • The Psi-Powers arc: Warchild, Sleepy, Christmas on a Rational Planet, The Death of Art, Damaged Goods and So Vile A Sin.
  • Super Wrist Gadget: One of several useful tools Ace gains during her Plot-Relevant Age-Up.
  • Taking You with Me: The Pythia in Cat's Cradle: Time's Crucible attempts to take all of Gallifrey with her.
  • Tele Frag: Transit has a teleport network spanning the Solar System, where trains are sent through the gates. There are occasional references to the Bad Accident, which is eventually explained as what happened when two trains tried to materialise in almost the same place at the same time. They ended up merged together. And so did everyone on board.
  • This Is My Name on Foreign: In Timewyrm: Exodus, the Doctor translates his occasional makeshift identity of "Dr John Smith" into German, presenting himself as "Dr Johann Schmidt".
  • Timey-Wimey Ball: The main setting of Cat's Cradle: Time's Crucible is a literal Timey-Wimey Ball -- the inside of a sphere, about three miles across, containing the same city at three different points in time. At the start, things that change in the 'past' city affect the 'present' and 'future' ones, but as the book progresses, those rules begin to break down and the place ends up as a Timey-Wimey Ball in every sense.
  • Token Romance: Show Within a Show version, in Lucifer Rising.
  • Trapped in TV Land: One of the novels is set entirely within the Land of Fiction.
  • Tuckerization: Happened a lot. Take a random book and compare the names of minor characters with the rec.arts.drwho folk namechecked in the acknowledgements.
  • Twenty Minutes Into the Future: Many of the "earth-bound" stories took place in this vague era, a few years ahead in order to allow for some fantastic elements, but not far enough to be unrecognisable. Iceberg (published in 1993), for example, went to great lengths to give background and character to the far future world...of 2006![1]
  • Under City: In Original Sin, Spaceport Overcity Five was built on top of London, and what's left of the old city is referred to as the Undercity and occupied only by criminals and people who can't afford to live anywhere better. (In a variation on the trope, the Undercity isn't buried: the entire Overcity hovers above it on Anti Gravity engines.)
  • Unreliable Illustrator: Original Sin, which introduces new companions Roz Forrester and Chris Cwej, features several internal illustrations to help readers get an idea of what they look like. For this reason, they depict Chris as he usually looks, which (due to a plot point involving Magic Plastic Surgery) is not actually what he looks like in some of the scenes depicted (including the one on the cover).
  • Walk This Way: In First Frontier:

'Hardly. Walk this way,' the Doctor said mysteriously, and hopped away from the car in a peculiar manner. When he saw that the women were strolling normally after him, he hurrumphed loudly and wandered off towards a low rise just to the left.

  • We Didn't Start the Fuhrer: Played with in Timewyrm: Exodus, where Hitler separately receives covert assistance from two different groups of aliens attempting to further their own ends -- but neither is able to control him, and what he does with their assistance is all entirely his own idea.
  • Well-Intentioned Extremist: The primary antagonist in Return of the Living Dad.
  • Wetware CPU:
    • Parodied in SLEEPY, where the Mad Scientist who has built a telepathic AI insists that neural nets are completely unnecessary. Apparently one of his rivals tried to create an intelligent computer by hooking a cat's brain to a mainframe, and got "a computer that wants to play with string and sit on your newspaper".
    • In So Vile a Sin, the Centcomp system that oversees the interstellar Earth Empire turns out to have a human being built into its heart; the Doctor is led to this discovery by a series of events arranged by Centcomp itself, which has deduced his existence from the data it processes and wants him to come and rescue her.
  • We Will Not Have Appendixes in the Future: Chris and Roz.
  • What the Hell, Hero?: The Doctor really goes overboard with the people-chess, and more than a few people make a point of how little they appreciate being treated like a pawn. In fact, Ace's main arc involves her lashing out at him because of this.
  • What's an X Like You Doing In a Y Like This?: Invoked by the villain of First Frontier when he recognises Benny from her centuries-in-the-future archaeological career, leading to the reveal that he's a time-traveller too.
  • Who Names Their Kid "Dude"?: The Left-Handed Hummingbird features a detective whose parents apparently thought it would be a good idea to name him Hamlet Macbeth.
  • You Watch Too Much X: In First Frontier:

'You don't intend to just walk into a Cold War base, surely?' Ace called out to him. 'They'd probably shoot us, just in case.'
'You've been watching too many cheap TV shows, Ace.'


Character-specific tropes are at Doctor Who/Characters/Doctors (the Doctor), Doctor Who/Characters/Companions and Supporting Cast (Ace), Bernice Summerfield/Characters (Benny), Virgin New Adventures/Characters (Roz and Chris)

  1. ...and actually didn't do too badly in a lot of respects. No jet-boat luxury cruisers or holocameras just yet, but a single European currency and maddeningly paranoid airport security was spot on.