Thursday, August 16, 2012

Awesome Characters: The Doctor

I've decided to make Thursdays my Awesome Characters day. Today I'm going to talk about the Doctor from the BBC TV show Doctor Who. Specifically, the Ninth and Tenth Doctors. (You might be thinking "but there are a million people out there who've already talked about the Doctor," and you're probably right, but I'm going to anyways :D ) As usual, Awesome Characters includes spoilers.

The Doctor is the epitome of a complex character. He's a scientist, he's a romantic, he's a hero, he's someone who carries a deep pain that never really goes away. One of the Doctor Who spinoff novels put it well when they described the Doctor as having a Tigger side and an Eeyore side. Add in a righteous fury side and you've got a basic description already.

In the new 2005+ series, the Time Lords have been sealed away in a "time lock" so that their war and all the crazy shit that had come down on their home planet couldn't destroy the rest of the universe (see the last Ten special for details). The Doctor is the one who did this. This gives him a lot of mixed emotions, to say the least. On the one hand, he saved the universe, on the other hand, he essentially destroyed his race. So you might think he'd be Eeyore-Doctor all the time, but he's not, he copes and he moves on to the best of his ability. His profound sadness comes out from time to time and reminds us that he cares so deeply about people.

One of the best attributes of the Doctor, for me, is his ability to see the universe with wonder and joy, even though he has already seen so much of it and already knows so much about it, and has a lot of good reasons to hate everything, he is still able to revel in the beauty of life. It isn't limited to conventional beauty either, he sees a werewolf and thinks "you beauty," he sees a crazy clockwork robot and thinks "you beauty," he's the quintessential joyful nerd. This is his truer Tigger side. He has another Tigger side which is more his version of a misdirection attack on whoever he's dealing with. He acts sort of crazy to distract the person from whatever he's actually doing. This also comes out in his tendency to act like he is in charge of everything which gets people used to taking orders to do what he says.

Righteous fury Doctor is just what you'd expect: he's a hero. He won't put up with aliens endangering the Earth, or cruelty, he doesn't like to kill and he's ready to sacrifice himself to save the day. He's also a nerd hero in that he saves the day with science-y shenanigans instead of combat (most of the time).

Another interesting facet to the Doctor is that he needs people. This is where Nine and Ten are mirror images in a way. Nine is born alone at the end of the war and he becomes happier when he takes on Rose. He dies happy saving her. Ten, on the other hand, is born happy, surrounded by people who care about him. But Ten walks a path of loss and the more alone he becomes the more unbalanced he becomes. He dies unhappy and alone. (Don't worry that's not the end, there's still an Eleventh Doctor after all :) )

The Doctor is so multifaceted that even this description is just the beginning. I can't recommend enough that anyone who wants to write awesome, complex characters, especially in genre fiction, should watch the 2005+ Doctor Who.


  1. I can't agree with you more. Doctor Who is one of my all-time favorite characters, and I believe that it is because he is so complex that I tend to relate to him so well. I've watched every episode of this show going back to the beginning (1963), and while I think that the new episodes from 2005+ give us a more modern complexity of the character and the story, I think that the older original Doctor's were very attainable in that manner as well. I, too, would recommend Doctor Who to any writer of fiction.

    You have an awesome blog and I can't wait to see which character you write about next!

    1. Thanks! :D

      I only wish that I had seen all of the original Doctor Who, there are some episodes that you literally cannot watch anymore because the originals were lost. I'm sure the Doctor was great in them too, I can only speak to the 2005+ episodes because that is what I have seen. Maybe someday I will watch some of the old ones too.