The Dark Doctor
I know a lot of Doctor Who fans seem to see the Doctor as this mythical character that never uses a gun, doesn’t kill, isn’t violent, and always tries to save everyone. Most of the time that is true, but there are times the Doctor can become a very dark, even vengeful character; when he does, it makes you think just how terrifying it would be if he was the bad guy. Power-mad conspirators, Daleks, Sontarans, Cybermen – They’re still in the nursery compared to the Doctor.
I was surprised at how many fans were upset at the way the Doctor left Solomon to die at the end of “Dinosaurs on a Spaceship.” It is not the first time the Doctor has gone dark, especially when a villain has does something particularly nasty to someone he likes (like slaughtering thousands of Silurians).
Here are a few examples of the Doctor acting against “Character.” This list will only deal with the TV series, if it were to deal with the Comics, Books, or Big Finish Audios, it would be considerably longer. For example in the BBC Eighth Doctor Adventures range there were several books where the Doctor was wiping out entire alternate timelines/universes, to preserve the Prime Timeline. Wrap your head around that; the Doctor destroyed entire existences full of millions of inhabited planets.
The First Doctor in “An Unearthly Child” was going to smash in an injured caveman’s head with a rock, so he and his companions could escape, until Ian noticed him.
The Second Doctor, well, unfortunately most of his episodes have been lost. I have heard all the audio tracks and seen the reconstructions of the episodes, but I can’t honestly think of any examples off the top of my head.
The Third Doctor regularly uses Venusian Aikido/Karate to render his opponents unconscious. In “Day of the Daleks” he picks up a laser and uses it to disintegrate several Ogrons. In “Colony in Space” he tells the colonists that if there are some indigenous hostile creatures on the planet, surely the colonists could track down and destroy them. Sounds like a pretty violent solution to me.
The Fourth Doctor regularly punches people and at times twists their necks rendering them unconscious. In “The Ribos Operation” when he is disguised as one of the Graff Vynda-K’s guards, the Graff gives the Doctor a grenade primed to explode and walks away expecting his guard to sacrifice himself. The Doctor switches the grenade for the Key to Time segment and lets the Graff walk off and explode. He also mentions in “The Talons of Weng-Chiang” that he was with the Filipino Army at the final advance on Reykjavik in the 51st century.
The Fifth Doctor, Ok, pretty nice guy most of the time. Although in “Resurrection of the Daleks” he was prepared to shoot Davros, he even held a blaster to Davros’ head.
The Sixth Doctor, much like the Fourth did resort to physical violence on a number of occasions, and even assaulted his companion Peri. He also gunned down a couple of Cybermen in “Attack of the Cybermen” in addition to stabbing a Cyberman in the chest with a laser lance.
The Seventh Doctor in “Remembrance of the Daleks” uses the Hand of Omega to destroy the entire planet of Skaro, and then the Dalek Fleet. Oddly we saw Skaro again in “Asylum of the Daleks” (Timey Wimey). In “Silver Nemesis” he uses the validium statue Nemesis (a Time Lord weapons system) to destroy the entire Cyber-fleet. On several occasions he manipulated his companion Ace, as well as everyone around him, as if they were chess pieces to make his plans fall into place.
The Eighth/Ninth Doctor ended the Time War by locking away all the Daleks and Time Lords into a time loop.
The Ninth Doctor in “The End of the World” allows Casandra to dehydrate to death. Also the Daleks don’t nick name you “The Oncoming Storm” without a body count. By the way the Doctor did say that he fought on the front lines of the Time War.
The Tenth Doctor in “Human Nature/Family of Blood,” and how he punishes the Family at the end of the story. He pushes Mother of Mine out of the TARDIS into the event horizon of a collapsing galaxy, wraps Father of Mine in unbreakable chains forged in the heart of a dwarf star, traps Sister of Mine in every mirror in existence, and suspends Son of Mine as a scarecrow. In “The End of Time” he points a gun back and forth and The Master and Rassilon’s heads until he finally decides to shoot the machine that is unlocking the time loop the Time War is trapped in.
The Eleventh Doctor’s wonderful “Colonel Run Away” speech in “A Good Man Goes to War” is a great example of the Doctor being vindictive. Oh yeah that episode started off with him destroying the 12h Cyber Legion’s fleet just as punctuation to a question.
Don’t get me wrong, I think all of the Doctor’s actions I have listed were valid and most of the people that he has directly or indirectly killed/left for dead most assuredly deserved it. Keep in mind, this is a list off the top of my head, I’m sure there are more that I am forgetting. I guess my point is that fans believed it when River Song said “Rule #1: the Doctor lies”, and yet they seem to believe the Doctor when he says he doesn’t lie, use violence, guns, or kill. You can’t have it both ways one of them is telling the truth and one isn’t. I think after the evidence of 49 years of history, I’m going to believe River.
The Doctor aspires and tries to get others to aspire to not use violence or weapons, but he is by no means above using them himself if it is justified. Sometimes the story calls for the Doctor to be a dark character. Do I always want the Doctor to be a dark violent character? No, but I find it enjoyable to get to see that side of him on occasion.
Tonight a new episode airs, “A Town Called Mercy” is a story told in the Old West; and it looks as if the Doctor will be using a gun again. We’ll have to wait and see if he goes to that dark place once again.