There is no point in talking if you’ve got nothing to say. Whilst none of us want to be the classic example of the inverse ratio between the size of the mouth and the size of the brain, it’s never a bad thing to have some Doctor Who quotes to hand. Here are some of the most famous examples…
“One day, I shall come back…”
Few people could watch the final episode of ‘The Dalek Invasion of Earth’ without shedding a tear. The first of our Doctor Who quotes involves the First Doctor saying goodbye to his granddaughter Susan, whom he bars from the TARDIS after realising that she has fallen in love with a freedom fighter called David. For many, this moment is the definitive Hartnell speech, having latterly cropped up in ‘The Five Doctors’ and An Adventure in Space and Time. Here’s the quote in full…
“One day, I shall come back. Yes, I shall come back. Until then, there must be no regrets, no tears, no anxieties. Just go forward in all your beliefs and prove to me that I am not mistaken in mine. Goodbye, Susan. Goodbye my dear.”
“There are some corners of the universe…”
The next of our Doctor Who quotes was uttered by the Second Doctor during ‘The Moonbase’ when he was trying to convince his friends about the dangers posed by the Cybermen. Interestingly, this moment came early on in the Second Doctor’s reign, and ‘The Moonbase’ was only the second adventure in Doctor Who history to feature the metal giants from Mondas. Here’s what the Second Doctor said.
“There are some corners of the universe which have bred the most terrible things, things which act against everything that we believe in. They must be fought.”
In a way, this line could sum up all Doctor Who, and indeed the eponymous Time Lord’s whole reason for being. After all, this was one of the main reasons he stole a TARDIS from Gallifrey in the first place…
It may be irrational of us, but the next of our Doctor Who quotes is quite our favourite line (almost.) Again, this came early on in the new Doctor’s reign – Tom Baker’s, in this case – and was penned by Robert Holmes for ‘The Ark in Space.’ In the adventure, the Doctor has arrived on the titular ark and found some of the last remaining humans in suspended animation. Here’s what he says as he observes their inanimate bodies.
“Homo sapiens! What an inventive, invincible species! It’s only been a few million years since they crawled up out of the mud and learned to walk. Puny, defenseless bipeds. They’ve survived flood, famine and plague. They’ve survived cosmic wars and holocausts. And now, here they are, out among the stars, waiting to begin a new life. Ready to out-sit eternity. They’re indomitable. Indomitable…”
And like some of the other Doctor Who quotes on this list, this one has been name-checked over the years, albeit subtly. Indeed, in Russell T Davies’ very first Doctor Who script, the Ninth Doctor pleads with the Nestene Consciousness saying, “This planet is just starting. These stupid little people have only just learned how to walk but they’re capable of so much more. I’m asking you, on their behalf, please just go.”
“It’s the end…”
This is one of the shorter Doctor Who quotes on our list, and again comes from the lips of the Fourth Doctor just before his regeneration. Having fallen to his death from the Pharos Project telescope, he looks up at his companions and says, “It’s the end, but the moment has been prepared for.”
This Doctor Who line never cropped up again in the classic series, but it has been used many times by fans over the years. And in wider Doctor Who culture, the presenter Zoe Ball quoted this Fourth Doctor line as she introduced the Twelfth Doctor Peter Capaldi to a live studio audience in 2013.
“When did you last have the pleasure of smelling a flower…?”
The next of our Doctor Who quotes involves the Fifth Doctor and the Cybermen. Written by Eric Saward, the line sees the Fifth Doctor trying to persuade the Cyber Leader that emotions are life-enhancing and part of the pleasures of being human.
It’s one of the stranger Doctor Who quotes on this list, but that is partly what makes it so memorable. After all, how can anyone shake the image of a Cyberman sitting down to enjoy a “well-prepared meal” out of their head?
“They also enhance life!” the Fifth Doctor insists, talking about the smaller, beautiful things in creation. “When did you last have the pleasure of smelling a flower, watching a sunset, eating a well-prepared meal?”
“These things are irrelevant,” the Cyber Leader insists. Clearly, the Fifth Doctor touched a nerve…
The Sixth Doctor was never one to mince his words, as the next of our Doctor Who quotes attests. This time, he is laying into his own people who, whilst not averse to sunsets or well-prepared meals, were morally ambiguous at best.
Again, the next of our Doctor Who quotes comes from series stalwart Robert Holmes, and in fact this line featured in the last script that he wrote before he died – ‘The Trial of a Time Lord’ part 13. In the episode, the Doctor has just discovered the lengths that his own people went to in order to protect their secrets – namely, by renaming the planet Earth and moving it across space.
“In all my travels throughout the universe I have battled against evil,” he says. “Against power-mad conspirators. I should have stayed here! The oldest civilisation: decadent, degenerate and rotten to the core! Power mad conspirators? Daleks, Sontarans, Cybermen — they’re still in the nursery compared to us! Ten million years of absolute power. That’s what it takes to be really corrupt!”
“There are worlds out there…”
The last of our famous Doctor Who quotes is bittersweet. And although it comes from a Rona Munro script, it was actually penned by script editor Andrew Cartmel to conclude the final episode of Doctor Who Season 26. This is because, sadly, the producer John Nathan-Turner discovered at the eleventh hour that the programme was likely to be cancelled, and he wanted the final episode to end with something poignant.
“There are worlds out there where the sky is burning. Where the sea’s asleep and the rivers dream. Cities made of smoke and people made of song. Somewhere there’s danger, somewhere there’s injustice, and somewhere else the tea’s getting cold. Come on, Ace. We’ve got work to do!”
It must be one of the most bittersweet Doctor Who quotes in the series’ history, and although it signalled the end of the Classic era, there’s no denying that it was a fitting way for the programme to close.
But over to you, reader. What do you think are the most famous Doctor Who quotes? And which is your favourite on this list? Let me know in the comments below.