“There is some evil in all of us, Doctor – even you.” We look back at some of the series’ darkest Doctor Who moments.
The Doctor is a complex character. When viewers first met him in ‘An Unearthly Child,’ he was very much the anti-hero; after all, he trapped two schoolteachers inside his ship and whisked them off into time and space – that is, after electrocuting one of them when they meddled with TARDIS console.
But how much do these dark Doctor Who moments really reflect the Time Lord’s character? We know there is evil in him; the character of the Valeyard from ‘The Trial of a Time Lord,’ for example, was a distillation “of all that’s evil in [him], untainted by virtue, a composite of [his] every dark thought.” And there have been many scenes over the years that have pointed towards this more insister aspect of his persona…
1) Trying to kill the caveman
In ‘An Unearthly Child,’ the Doctor and his new friends are desperately trying to make their escape through a forest on prehistoric Earth, pursued by a tribe of murderous cavemen.
But en route they encounter another wounded caveman, and the Doctor’s companions are determined to help him, tending to his wounds and building a stretcher out of sticks. The Doctor, however, realises that this will delay their escape, and he reaches for a sharp lump of rock. There is a strong implication that he is considering murdering the caveman to help them get away – even though he insists that he was simply going to ask the man to draw them a map.
Few Doctor Who moments have been as dark as this over the years but, as the Doctor confessed in ‘The End of Time’: “It’s not like I’m an innocent. I’ve taken lives. And I got worse, I got clever. Manipulated people into taking their own…”
2) Manipulating the Dalek into committing suicide
Speaking of manipulation, the next of our Doctor Who moments comes from the 1988 story ‘Remembrance of the Daleks.’ This may have been what the Doctor was referring to in ‘The End of Time,’ with the Seventh Doctor taunting a stranded Dalek that’s lost in the streets of Shoreditch.
“Dalek! You have been defeated,” he cries. “Surrender! You have failed… Your forces are destroyed; your home planet a burnt cinder circling a dead sun… Even Davros, your creator, is dead. You have no superiors, no inferiors, no reinforcements, no hope, no rescue… You’re trapped, a trillion miles and a thousand years from a disintegrated home… I have defeated you. You no longer serve any purpose.”
These haunting words cause the Dalek to spiral out of control and self-destruct. It would later be mirrored in another Doctor Who moment – the 2005 episode ‘Dalek,’ where the Ninth Doctor (somewhat less subtley) orders a Dalek to kill itself. “The Daleks have failed!” he yells. “Why don’t you finish the job and make the Daleks extinct? Rid the universe of your filth! Why don’t you just die?!”
3) Attacking Peri
Few Doctor Who moments have been as brutal as that scene from ‘The Twin Dilemma.’ The new Doctor is undergoing something of a post-regenerative crisis, and in a fit of confusion he turns on his companion Peri.
“A peri is a good and beautiful fairy in Persian mythology,” he purrs. “The interesting thing is, before it became good, it was evil. And that’s what you are. Thoroughly evil… No! No, not even a fairy! An alien spy! Sent here to spy on me! Well, we all know the fate of alien spies!”
He then proceeds to try and strangle her. But unlike other Doctor Who moments, the Doctor does at least have the ‘excuse’ that his mind has been addled by a problematic regeneration. Indeed, we never see the Doctor act like this again after he has stabilised – even if he does later gun down a Cyberman, and shove a Varosian guard into an acid bath!
4) Pushing the clockwork droid?
There were a number of dark Doctor Who moments throughout the Twelfth Doctor’s era, but he was perhaps at his most sinister in his first episode ‘Deep Breath.’ Like the Sixth Doctor, the Time Lord didn’t have the smoothest of regenerations and, throughout the story, his behaviour is somewhat erratic as he comes to terms with his new body.
This behaviour comes to a head towards the end of the episode when he’s fighting Half-Face Man in a ‘hot air balloon’ over London. Half-Face Man is a clockwork android, and he has replaced his own components so many times that he no longer exists in his original form. This, the Doctor posits, is reason enough to self-terminate, and the Time Lord gives him an ultimatum – he must jump from the balloon, or the Doctor will push him in order to protect the human race.
“Self-destruction is against my basic programming,” Half-Face Man insists. “And murder is against mine!” the Doctor retorts.
And although Half-Face Man does indeed plummet from the hot air balloon, it is never revealed whether he fell or was pushed, making this one of the more mysterious Doctor Who moments on our list.
But, as mentioned previously, there were many other Doctor Who moments like this from the Twelfth Doctor’s era, particularly in his earliest episodes. For example, in another scene from ‘Deep Breath’ he seemingly abandons his companion Clara in order to save his own skin, leaving her at the mercy of robot army. He later insists that this was all part of a bigger plan to save her.
It’s possible, though, that even the Doctor himself isn’t sure of his true motives. In the episode ‘Into the Dalek,’ he sits his companion down and asks her candidly, “Clara, be my pal, tell me – am I a good man?” She thinks for a moment, then says she doesn’t know. The Doctor sighs. “Neither do I…”
Overall, though, the dark Doctor Who moments are few and far between. The Doctor is undoubtedly a hero, even if we don’t quite know where he comes from or what his true intentions are.
But over to you, internet. Which do you think are the darkest Doctor Who moments? And was the Doctor really considering murdering the caveman?! Let me know in the comments below.
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