Time Lords can die. But if there isn’t too much damage to the body, they can make themselves regenerate instead, creating an entirely new body from scratch. The brain cells get naturally shaken up during this process, so while the memories remain (keeping the NURTURE part of the personality intact), the basic idiosyncrasies, physical quirks (whether or not they need glasses, etc.) and personality traits (such as temper, mannerism, impulsiveness) shift.
Here then is a run down of each of the Doctor’s incarnations, as we’ve seen so far.
This is part of ALAN KISTLER’S GUIDE TO DOCTOR WHO.
If you want an in-depth look at the history of DOCTOR WHO, begin HERE.
If you want to look at a chronology of the Doctor’s adventures, CLICK HERE.
FIRST DOCTOR – William Hartnell
When we first met the Doctor, he was already nearing the end of his first incarnation. He was crotchety, grumpy and extremely open with his rather cynical opinions of everyone around him. However, once you go to know him, you found that there was a caring grandfather-type beneath the gruff exterior, a man who desperately wanted to keep his friends and innocents safe. In his first few adventures, he still acted very much like a Time Lord, willing to injure and trick people if he saw them as obstacles between him and his goals. After traveling with human companions for a while, he quickly eased up and became less confrontational and less dismissive of humans in general. The First Doctor died while fighting the Cybermen as a result of having his life-force drained (along with that of the Earth itself). Before retreating to the TARDIS to regenerate, he told his companions Ben and Polly: “It’s all over. That’s what you said … but it isn’t … It’s FAR from being all over!”
SECOND DOCTOR – Patrick Troughton
The Second Doctor dressed a little bit like a “cosmic hobo.” He was an effervescent man who showed great joy at discovering new things and was often smiles and jokes. He was also subject to great mood swings. If you annoyed him, he could get very haughty and self-righteous. The Second Doctor often played a recorder to help him think and also openly acted as an idiot or a coward in order to get his enemies to underestimate him.
It was during his second incarnation that we first saw the Doctor begin to use the alias of “John Smith” and first saw him use his sonic screwdriver. After many years of being on the run from the Time Lords, the Second Doctor was finally captured and put on trial. He was able to argue his way out of a death sentence, but was forced to do missions for the Time Lords’ black ops division the Celestial Intervention Agency. Afterwards, he was sent to Earth in exile and forced to regenerate by the Time Lords, thus ending his second life prematurely.
THIRD DOCTOR – Jon Pertwee
Known sometimes as “the dandy Doctor” due to his very flamboyant dress sense, the Third Doctor was a no-nonsense scientist who wanted nothing more than to be left alone in his laboratory. He was very snappish and sarcastic, often tossing our smart remarks to people whenever they said something he found the least bit silly or irritating. It was during this incarnation that the Doctor was temporarily exiled to Earth in the 1970′s and worked as “Dr. John Smith, unpaid Scientific Adviser to U.N.I.T.”
The Third Doctor enjoyed creating complex gadgets and riding around in fast vehicles, such as his personal flyer/hovercraft and a jalopy he customized and named Bessy. He was more prone to battle, often engaging enemies with a form of Venusian Aikido that he’d picked up. When he fought the Giant Spiders of the planet Metebilis Three, the Doctor was exposed to lethal doses of radiation. He began to die very slowly and painfully in the TARDIS, so much so that he was lost in the space-time vortex for a long time. Finally, it seems the TARDIS itself brought him back to U.N.I.T. headquarters in England where he died in front of the Brigadier and Sarah Jane Smith. His last words were to tell Sarah Jane “Now don’t cry. Where there’s life’s, there’s …”
FOURTH DOCTOR – Tom Baker
Known for wearing scarves that were anywhere between 15 to 20 feet in length, the Fourth Doctor was a laid-back bohemian who at times was possessed with manic energy. He was scatter-brained and so absorbed in his thoughts at times that he would occasionally speak his inner monologue aloud and completely forget that there were people around him. He was a fun-loving adventurer who took pride in occasionally being childish and who loved to charge into new situations even if he hadn’t assessed the possible risks. His love of adventure was such that he was instantly annoyed by anyone who seemed close-minded or conservative to him. He was often fun-loving and aloof, offering jelly baby candies to practically everyone he came across, but if you threatened innocent lives, he would let loose with righteous anger.
During a time travel trip to the early days of the Dalek race, the Fourth Doctor had a chance to end the Daleks before they even began but decided he couldn’t commit genocide for crimes that hadn’t even been committed yet, nor could he change history so drastically when the Daleks had affected so many and when certain races had actually become peaceful allies due to a common hatred of the monsters. This decision would haunt him in his ninth life. The Fourth Doctor died when he sacrificed his life to prevent the Master from holding the entire universe hostage. After falling several hundred feet, he lay on the ground and whispered his last words to his then companions: “It’s the end … But the moment has been prepared for …”
FIFTH DOCTOR – Peter Davison
In his fifth incarnation, the Doctor settled down a bit. Although he looked like an open-faced man in his thirties, the fifth Doctor displayed the manner of a much older man and took on the role of a teacher and a caring father-figure to his companions. He enjoyed peaceful afternoons and simply enjoying the company of others. In facing enemies, he was very serious and forthright. After the death of his companion Adric, he became a bit more cynical and sarcastic towards people around him. He also felt the weight of his age often, wondering how much good he’d really done in his life and how many enemies he would have to keep fighting before things ended. He wore celery on his lapel and explained once that in his fifth incarnation he was highly allergic to certain gases that when in contact with the vegetable would turn it purple, thus warning him of their proximity.
When he and his companion Peri Brown were both poisoned, the Doctor had only enough antidote to save one of them. He gave it to Peri and then succumbed to the poison. In his mind, he saw the Master laughing over him and telling him to die. In the audio play “Circular Time”, it was said that the Master had actually attacked the Doctor telepathically when he was poisoned, hoping to prevent the heroic Time Lord from regenerating. The attack failed and just before the Fifth Doctor regenerated, he wondered aloud “Is this death …? Feels different this time …”
SIXTH DOCTOR – Colin Baker
The Sixth Doctor was a loud, boisterous man who enjoyed announcing his presence and showing off his knowledge of literature, science and history. A mad scientist in a patchwork coat that was revolting to many, the Sixth Doctor was a man of passion who would occasionally dismiss even his friends as less impressive than he since they were “only human” but at the same time would be filled with incredible sadness over the plight of perfect strangers. Although not very popular during his TV run due to some poor stories, Colin Baker later proved he could be very entertaining and heroic as the Sixth Doctor through various audio plays and has become very popular to listeners. In some of these stories, the Sixth Doctor adopted a dark blue version of his outfit.
In the novel “Spiral Scratch” by Gary Russell, it was revealed that the Sixth Doctor was exposed to lethal levels of time energies when he attempted to save the multiverse. Sensing he was about to die (and not sure he would regenerate due to the amount of damage), he told his companion Mel “”Don’t cry, Mel. It was my time. Well, maybe not, but it was my time to give. To donate. I’ve had a good innings you know, seen and done a lot. Can’t complain this time. Don’t feel cheated.” Moments later, the renegade Time Lord known as the Rani shot down the Doctor’s TARDIS, forcing it to crash. During the chaos, the Doctor fell against the control console, evidently causing a head wound that jump-started his regeneration.
SEVENTH DOCTOR – Sylvester McCoy
Initially, the Seventh Doctor was the same aloof, oddly behaving adventurer that had been seen in many previous incarnations. After a few adventures though, he became concerned that he’d been wrong to only be reactive in fighting evil and decided that he would now be proactive, hunting down villains and setting up complex schemes to bring them down for good. As he became more and more involved in manipulations and master plans, he came to be darker and more aloof towards his friends and companions, sometimes forcing himself to look at them as pawns in his “big picture.” Even his protégé Ace wasn’t always sure he could trust him to be honest about his plans and intentions. At the same time, he was sad by how much he’d lost his fun-loving nature and was prone to deep contemplations.
The Seventh Doctor’s adventures were continued in various novels and audio plays, some of which revealed that he now considered himself to be “Time’s Champion.” In several adventures, he fought an Eternal (a race of cosmic beings) who called herself Death and considered the Doctor to be a hated enemy. After many years, the Seventh Doctor realized he’d become too cold and too emotionally removed from those he’d been protecting and tried to remember be more like the man he had once been. When he crash-landed on Earth in the year 1999, the Doctor was caught in the crossfire of a gang war. He was taken to a hospital and his wounds treated, but the surgeons didn’t understand his alien physiology and accidentally killed him on the table. The Seventh Doctor’s last words were a plea that he be left alone to find the Master, who he knew was once again loose on Earth.
EIGHTH DOCTOR – Paul McGann
Whereas the Seventh Doctor had been very somber and morose, the Eighth was a man who enjoyed the beauty of life all around him, becoming excited by simple things such as comfortable shoes and Earth sporting events. Whereas the Seventh Doctor was all about precision and making sure his TARDIS went exactly when and where he wanted, the Eighth deliberately set his TARDIS to be more random in its travels, believing it was more fun not knowing where you would end up. The Eighth Doctor was apparently half-human (which is not unheard of since it was shown and stated before that Time Lords can alter their species during regeneration). This may have been part of the reason why the Eighth Doctor was the most human of his incarnations. In the audio plays, he even stated flat-out that he had come to love his human companion Charley Pollard but at the same time felt he couldn’t act on this love for a variety of reasons.
The Eighth Doctor loved telling stories where he could name-drop and enjoyed meeting new people wherever he went, no matter who they were. He was a great fan of Earth pop culture and, like the Fourth Doctor, had a habit of speaking his thoughts aloud. In his later years, he was seen to become slightly harder-edged and more sarcastic. Also, despite his amiable nature, the Eighth Doctor made it clear several times that he, like the Seventh, was not as forgiving as many of his previous incarnations. How the Eighth Doctor died exactly isn’t known. It is known that he died at the end of the Last Time War, apparently while activating a weapon that destroyed both the Time Lords and nearly all of the Dalek race, thus finally ending the conflict.
ATTENTION, READERS! THE NEXT TWO SUMMARIES GIVE AWAY PLOT POINTS AND DETAILS ABOUT THE NEW SERIES OF DOCTOR WHO. IF YOU WISH TO WATCH THE NEW SERIES AND ENJOY IT FULLY, STOP READING NOW AND JUST RENT OR BUY THE DVDS TO DISCOVER IT ALL FOR YOURSELF.
NINTH DOCTOR – Christopher Eccleston
The Ninth Doctor was a seasoned warrior who loved rushing into danger but also had little patience for anyone who could slow him down or distract him from the next adventure. He was often aloof and short-tempered, but beneath his exterior it was clear that he cared very deeply about all life, which he now appreciated more than ever before since he was now the last of his people. Very much a product of his “birth”, the Ninth Doctor was constantly haunted by the events of the Time War and the death he had seen, as well as by survivor’s guilt. In many of his adventures, if something truly bad happened or if his friends were put into serious danger, the Ninth Doctor’s primary reaction was to lament about how the situation was “all my fault.” He was a tortured man constantly looking for the peaceful life he saw in so many others but knowing that he was driven to keep on having adventures rather than settle down.
The Ninth incarnation of the Doctor died while saving the life of Rose Tyler and exposing himself to lethal energies of the time/space vortex. His last words to Rose were “Before I go, I just wanted to say you were fantastic. Absolutely fantastic. And you know what? … So was I.”
TENTH DOCTOR – David Tennant
The Tenth Doctor is a man who, although lonely, has learned to look beyond his experiences in the Last Time War. He is constantly searching for something new, something fun, something out of the ordinary. Like the Eighth incarnation, he finds joy in small simplistic things such as edible ball bearings and fun-looking gift shops. He enjoys dropping pop culture references and is given to manic bursts of activity when he’s excited by a new thought or a brainstorm. In times when his friends or humanity in general is seriously threatened, the Tenth Doctor has often reverted to a cold, unforgiving nature that emulates his seventh incarnation. Although he often smiles and shows himself as a laid-back explorer who run around in a winkled suit and tennis shoes, he has also repeatedly stated that he is a man who believes in “no second chances” when it comes to his enemies.
And those are the ten incarnations of the Doctor in a nutshell. CHEERS!