Softened Over Time – The Doctor’s Evolution

Anyone who joined the Doctor Who fandom during the 2005 revival might be shocked to learn that the Doctor wasn’t as soft and merciful in the early run of the show, as he appears to be now. In fact, he was so ruthless that, at times, you weren’t sure who was worse – the alien threat to humanity or the Doctor himself. Being vindictive when it came to his enemies might be putting it mildly, but just how bad could he have possibly been?

The Doctor – constant and persistent savior of humanity across time and space – could he really have been so bad? Oh, yes. And if you’re one of those fans raised on the revival, you might want to skip this – unless you want your impression of the legendary hero tarnished.

1. No mercy

Tennant, the 10th Doctor, held it down for five years and established the titular time traveler as more of a sympathetic character. In one iconic scene, he’s shown crying over the dead body of his greatest enemy, the Master. This simply didn’t happen in the original series – the Doctor wasn’t merciful toward his enemies, he was malicious. He was, to paraphrase the man himself, the monster all the other monsters were scared of.

2. Manipulation

The earliest incarnation of the Doctor was a good guy in the same way you might consider Gregory House to be a good guy, though one thing both characters shared was a penchant for manipulation. And not just manipulation of enemies, the Doctor would frequently deceive and exploit his trusting companions in order to draw out a greater threat.

For example:

Doctor Who

In The Invasion of Time serial, the Doctor returned to his home world of Gallifrey where he assumed the presidency and became party to a conspiracy to subvert his own people. Putting his people through hell, he soon reveals that this was all part of a master plan to draw out the real invading aliens. If that weren’t bad enough, it turns out these aliens – the Vardans – were part of a spearhead for a much bigger threat, which all but wipes out the already demoralized Gallifreyans.

3. Genocide

In the Remembrance of the Daleks serial, the Doctor dealt a devastating blow to his arch enemies – the Daleks.

Doctor Who

The aforementioned “devastating blow” came in the form of a genocidal attack on the home world of the Daleks – Skaro. After locating a planet-destroying doomsday device called the Hand of Omega, which he conveniently stowed away on Earth, the Doctor used it on his mortal enemies. Of course, he didn’t unleash it on them directly – he booby-trapped it to trigger when the Daleks tried to use it (which they did).

4. Psychological abuse

Doctor Who

The Seventh Doctor, played by Sylvester McCoy, was especially abusive to his companions including Ace, in particular. Some people saw his treatment of the street punk as an attempt to bring her potential to the fore but, occasionally, it was clear that he was messing with her for his own amusement. He would learn her fears and weaknesses and shove her into confrontations and situations dealing with them – even going so far as to seemingly throw his companion under the bus.

Obviously, the Doctor, much like any good hero, had his particular flaws. Some of these flaws evolved over time and others were cast aside as the years dragged on. One thing that never really changed, however, was the Doctor’s persistent devotion and protection to humanity overall. As the BBC gears up to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the longest-running sci-fi show in history, it’s nice to look back at just how far the enigmatic Doctor has come…and to remember just what he’s truly capable of.

About The Author:

London McGuire is a freelance writer and blogger, In addition to all-things cinema and TV, this self-proclaimed geek also enjoys writing about tech, great food and sports. Follow her on Twitter @londonmcguire.

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