War Doctor

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The Doctor
The War Doctor
Portrayed byJohn Hurt
First appearance"The Name of the Doctor"
Last appearance"The Day of the Doctor"
Appearances2 stories (2 episodes)
Chronology
 
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The Doctor
The War Doctor
Portrayed byJohn Hurt
First appearance"The Name of the Doctor"
Last appearance"The Day of the Doctor"
Appearances2 stories (2 episodes)
Chronology

The War Doctor is an incarnation of the Doctor,[1] the protagonist of the BBC science fiction television programme Doctor Who. He is portrayed by English actor John Hurt.[1] Although he precedes Christopher Eccleston's Ninth Doctor in the show's fictional chronology,[1] his first onscreen appearance came eight years after Eccleston's; the War Doctor was retroactively created by showrunner Steven Moffat for productions celebrating the show's 50th anniversary.[1] Some commentators have speculated he was introduced to compensate for Eccleston declining to participate in the 50th anniversary special.[2]

Within the programme's narrative, the Doctor is a centuries-old alien, a Time Lord from the planet Gallifrey, who travels in time and space in his TARDIS, frequently with companions. When the Doctor is critically injured, he can regenerate his body, but in doing so, gains a new physical appearance and with it, a distinct new personality. However, the Doctor originally regarded the existence of his War Doctor incarnation with disdain due to his role in the Time War of the show's modern backstory.

Costume[edit]

English actor John Hurt portrays the War Doctor

In "The Name of the Doctor", Hurt's character appears old and bedraggled, wearing a distressed leather overcoat and a waistcoat. Costume designer Howard Burden said that Hurt's character is a "dark Doctor" existing between the Doctor's eighth and ninth incarnations.[3] As shown immediately after his regeneration during the events of "The Night of the Doctor", it appears that this Doctor actually regenerated to a young age, and seems to have aged far more than any previous incarnation (other than the first) during his life.

He is also seen to use a new sonic screwdriver with a red light, similar to the one belonging to the Eighth Doctor in the 1996 TV film.

Appearances[edit]

The War Doctor first appears at the conclusion of the series seven finale "The Name of the Doctor" where the Eleventh Doctor (Matt Smith) and companion Clara Oswald (Jenna-Louise Coleman) are trapped in the Doctor's timeline. Clara believes she has seen all the Doctor's faces, but does not recognise one figure (played by John Hurt). The Doctor (Smith) tells her that he is yet another version of himself, albeit one who has lost the right to the name of the Doctor. The War Doctor's origins are given in the mini-episode "The Night of the Doctor", set during the fictional Time War referred to in the series. After the Eighth Doctor (Paul McGann) is killed by a space ship crashing, he is temporarily resurrected and urged to take a stand and join the war. He is offered an elixir designed to trigger a life-saving regeneration into a form of his choice. Feeling the universe has no more need for a doctor, he requests to become a warrior. After regenerating into the War Doctor, he disowns the name of the Doctor.

In the 50th anniversary special "The Day of the Doctor", the War Doctor steals the superweapon known as "the Moment" with the intent of wiping out all combatants in the war along with his home world of Gallifrey. However, the Moment is sentient and sends the War Doctor into his future to meet the Tenth and Eleventh Doctors (David Tennant and Matt Smith) to understand the sadness and regret they endured while continuing the good he failed to accomplish. Aided by the Moment's interface which shows them a vision of horror and destruction, the Doctors ultimately conclude that the loss of life that would be caused by using the Moment is something they cannot accept. They instead pool their resources, and with the help of the Doctor's past and future incarnations, attempt to save Gallifrey by freezing it in a moment in time, creating the illusion of the planet's own destruction. As a result of this clever deception, the Daleks are effectively tricked into firing on each other, thereby causing their own annihilation. The War Doctor accepts the reality that, upon returning to his own timeline, he will forget his own heroic actions and must live with the false knowledge that he killed his own people. Once inside his TARDIS, the War Doctor's body begins to regenerate.

Personality[edit]

The War Doctor is serious-minded and determined. As events show in "The Day of the Doctor," he is gravely willing to use The Moment to destroy both his own people and the entire Dalek race, although he clearly regrets that he believes he has no other alternative. His interactions with the Tenth and Eleventh Doctors also show he has little time for their cleverness or childish antics, making derisive comments about both their youthful appearances and their choice of "warcry" ("allons-y" and "Geronimo," respectively). By the end of the episode he realizes how his choices affected their futures, pushing them even harder to do everything they can to defeat threats to life and the universe, and respects them for becoming the Doctor he was unable to be due to his circumstances.

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c d "Doctor Who: Steven Moffat clears up confusion around the number of John Hurt's Doctor". Radio Times. 15 November 2013. Retrieved 17 November 2013. 
  2. ^ "Doctor Who 50th Anniversary: The Day of the Doctor". HI! Magazine. 26 November 2013. Retrieved 27 November 2013. 
  3. ^ "Doctor Who's new adversary – the Prince of Wales". The Daily Telegraph. 3 July 2013. Retrieved 15 November 2013.