For over 50 years, The Doctor and his TARDIS has been entertaining us with his crazy adventures through time and space on Doctor Who. The whimsical and almost magical Doctor charges through the universe looking for the next exciting adventure. Being a cross between a hyperactive child and the wisest man in the universe, The Doctor is just looking for a good time.
However, the last of the Time Lords often gets caught up in battling monsters as the villains of the universe try to destroy him and us. He has saved the universe more times than can be counted and he never asks to be thanked as he is just passing through and he’s here to help. With a strong moral code, The Doctor is often seen as the guardian for the universe and our protector. But there have been times when The Doctor goes too far.
Being an ancient being with all of time on his hands can sometimes mess with his moral compass and The Doctor can sometimes be the bad guy. Here are 15 times the good and true Doctor has broken his own rules. For this list, we are looking at “New Who” from when it came back to our screens in 2005.
15. Time Lords Only Observe Events And Don’t Interfere
It has been said many times throughout the show that the role of the Time Lords is to observe time, to never interfere with the lower lives in the universe and to never change the course of events of an individual or a planet. Even The Doctor himself has said many times that he’s just a traveller passing through the universe and all he wants to do is enjoy it.
However, this is never the case and The Doctor always finds himself caught in the middle of trouble. Admittedly from an audience point of view, if The Doctor did just travel around the universe it would be a pretty boring TV show. But the fact is that The Doctor is always very quick to jump into these situations and take charge. It’s almost as if he purposely looks for trouble in order to flaunt the number one rule of the Time Lords and be the rebel he has always been.
14. He Always Takes Responsibility For His Actions
The Doctor has always had a very strong moral code. He always takes responsibility for the people around him and every life is important and valuable to him. However, there is one person who seems to make The Doctor forget these morals and that person is River Song. Since she first burst onto our screens in the episode “Silence in the Library/Forest of the Dead,” River Song has been a mystery wrapped in an enigma. Over the last few seasons, the story of River Song has slowly come out and it reached its climax when River Song killed The Doctor.
Obviously with The Doctor being who he is, he know this was coming and planned a way to survive this. Hiding inside what was essentially a Doctor robot, The Doctor not only let River Song think she killed him but he also left her the blame and ended up in prison for most of her adult life for a crime she didn’t even commit. With all his persuasive talking and psychic power, The Doctor could have easily got her pardoned but instead he left her to rot.
13. He Never Puts People In Harm’s Way
The Doctor has always prided himself on the fact that he saves lives and he strives to protect each and every life he interacts with. However, given the fact that The Doctor is always battling monsters and demons, many innocent people get caught in the crossfire.
Not only that, but many people actually choose to be a sacrifice in order to save The Doctor. These people meet The Doctor and almost worship him as they push themselves into situations they wouldn’t normally be in just to please him. In particular, “new Who” episodes have seen countless people throw themselves on the metaphorical, and sometimes literal, grenade as they sacrifice their lives for The Doctor and the greater good. Although each death seems to weigh heavily on The Doctor’s shoulders, it doesn’t seem to change his actions and time and again, The Doctor puts these people in danger. Not only that, but The Doctor himself has become a target for these monsters and quite often him just being somewhere causes innocent people to die.
12. He Isn’t The Judge For The Universe…
As we’ve already mentioned on this list, The Doctor never claims to be an authority figure for the universe; actually, sometimes he does but usually when he’s annoyed! Generally he’s just a man passing through the universe and helping out when he can. Sometimes however his ego and temper can get the better of him and The Doctor takes it out on the people that are trying to help him.
None have felt the full wrath of The Doctor like Harriet Jones. During The Christmas Invasion, Earth is about to be invaded by aliens but The Doctor is in a post-regeneration coma so it’s left up to Prime Minister Harriet Jones to make the hard choices for us. After facing off with the aliens, Jones uses her secret weapon that destroys the aliens. With The Doctor fully awake now, he is appalled at the actions of Jones and with one sentence, deposes her and ruins her life. All she was doing was protecting her planet and her people, which is what The Doctor would do. This was one of his hypocritical moments. Incidentally, Jones would later go on to become one of the people that sacrifices herself in the name of The Doctor.
11. …Nor Is He Its Executioner!
As with the above entry, The Doctor prides himself on not judging people, although he sometimes fails at this. He also never sees himself as the universe’s punisher. The Doctor is there to save the day and when that is done, off he goes to the next adventure. However, there have been several occasions in which The Doctor has stuck around to punish those who have done wrong.
An example of this is what The Doctor did to the Family of Blood. In this episode, The Doctor and Martha Jones are running from what we think is a dangerous alien race. Turning himself human, which The Doctor can suddenly do, The Doctor and Martha hide and wait for the aliens to go away. But the aliens find them and attack the people around The Doctor, killing most of them. This time The Doctor doesn’t just defeat them and save the day, no, this time The Doctor punishes them with the full rage of a Time Lord. As The Family of Blood wanted a Time Lord’s body so they could live forever, The Doctor came up with punishments so that their wishes would come true. Only the punishments were cruel and twisted and very “un-Doctor” like.
10. Interacting With His Other Selves Is Dangerous
The rules of time and time travel are a complicated thing and seemingly only The Doctor knows and understands them. He is often telling his companions that there are things you can do, things you can’t do, and things you should never do with time. One of those rules is that you should never interact with your previous or future selves as the consequences could be catastrophic.
This hasn’t stopped The Doctor from having many adventures with his past selves. The “old Who” saw The Doctor team up with himself on several occasions, “The Two Doctors” and “The Five Doctors” being the best of these. In “New Who,” The Doctor went one further than he has ever done before. Not only did he spend a long time with other versions of himself but he also interfered with the legendary Time War. The Time War, which incidentally has been the one place and event that is impossible to enter, even for The Doctor. So either the rules of time that The Doctor keeps telling us about are wrong, or he can just do whatever he likes with time and somehow find a way to fix it and make it all better in the end.
9. Never Uses A Weapon
Another one of The Doctor’s principles – a principle that he regards as one of his most important, to the point in which he shouted in front of an army “I never would!” – is that he doesn’t carry a weapon and he never uses a gun. The Doctor prides himself on being the ultimate pacifist and would rather think or talk his way out of trouble rather than using violence. Except for his trusty Sonic Screwdriver, which seems to get more powerful with each season and is now probably more effective than any weapon, the Doctor is always unarmed.
There has been a case made in new Doctor Who episodes that The Doctor doesn’t need weapons as he turns the people around him into weapons. Each life that he interacts with pushes themselves to do things they wouldn’t normally do and often makes the ultimate sacrifice for him. Away from people, The Doctor has become no stranger to picking up a gun in recent times. The first few times he did it was a shocking and effective statement, as The Doctor was pushed so far that using a gun became tempting to him. But now the sight of The Doctor wielding a gun has happened too often that the imagery has become meaningless.
8. Has A Duty Of Care For His Companions
The mad man with a box who just wants to have fun and see the universe wouldn’t be the same without his faithful companions. When Doctor Who started, the role of the companion was very simple: the companion’s job is to be the audience. They are there to ask the question that we want to know and to explain everything that is happening. Over the years the companions have varied but with each new companion, they have grown stronger and even as important as The Doctor himself. They have become more than just the audience’s viewpoint, they have become a hero in their own right.
From The Doctor’s point of view, he needs someone to travel with, whether that’s to show off to, or whether he’s just lonely, or because he needs someone to ground him and stop him from going too far. Whatever the reason, The Doctor needs and even loves his companions. However, more often than not, being The Doctor’s best friend is a very dangerous place to be as in “New Who” alone, The Doctor’s companions haven’t had a happy ending. Rose Tyler was trapped in a parallel world, Donna Noble had to have her mind wiped for fear that she would die, Amy and Rory were taken by the Weeping Angels, and of course there is the fate of Clara Oswald. Although The Doctor is often claiming that he loves all of his companions, that doesn’t take away from the fact that becoming The Doctor’s companion is almost like signing your own death warrant.
7. The Time War Is Time Locked
Since Doctor Who burst back onto our screens in 2005, there has been one thing that has dominated The Doctor and that is the Time War. With two powerful and ancient races, the Time Lords and the Daleks, going at it in the biggest and bloodiest war the universe has ever seen, the events of the Time War has fuelled The Doctor’s attitude and actions as he was not only involved in this war but he was the one who ended it. Slowly over the seasons since The Doctor has come back, the events and the outcome of the Time War have come out and the result is that The Doctor, in one swift and devastating act, wiped out both The Time Lords and the Daleks in order to end the war and save the universe.
With all of his time travelling shenanigans, The Doctor has never been able to affect the events of the Time War as he has stated several times that the Time War is time-locked and can never be changed. Enter the 50th anniversary of the show and not only does The Doctor find himself with his former selves but he also finds himself within the Time War and he even manages to change the events and save everyone. The Doctor is the last of the Time Lords, that notion has defined this Doctor, but now he isn’t, as he broke one of his rules that seemed impossible even for him.
6. Crossing His Own Timeline Is A Big No No
Another rule The Doctor is very vocal about is crossing his own timeline. He has expressed several times that interfering with a person’s timeline is strictly forbidden as the ramifications could be disastrous, especially with his own timeline, unless of course he’s doing it for cheap tricks or to impress Martha Jones!
The Doctor has messed with his own timeline on a few occasions since he’s been back on our screens but none more apparent than in the episode “Under The Lake/ Before The Flood.” In this episode, The Doctor plays with the very idea of timelines and even time itself. Having to save Clara and others from ghostly figures in the future, The Doctor crisscrosses along his own timeline in the past in order to face off against an alien known as The Fisher King. With a theory of time travel known as the Bootstrap Paradox, The Doctor breaks one of his many rules and interferes with his own timeline and destiny in order to save Clara.
5. Changing A Fixed Point In Time Is An Even Bigger No No
This is the absolute crux in The Doctor’s rules for time travel. There are many things he can do and many things he can’t do, most of which he does anyway! But there is one thing that he can never ever do and that is change a fixed point in time. To The Doctor, a fixed point is something that always has to happen. It’s the cornerstone that other events in the future build from and therefore can never be changed.
Since The Doctor has been back on our screens he has found himself in Pompeii on volcano day and involved in both World War One and World War Two. Each time he has expressed that these are fixed points and he can’t do anything about it. That is until he finds himself on Mars in the near distant future. After the events that leave his companion, Donna Noble, with no memory of him, The Doctor decides to travel alone, which proved very dangerous. When The Doctor met the first explorers on Mars, he made it clear that he couldn’t change what was going to happen to them. They were going to die but their deaths would impact humanity and spur them onto greatness. However, The Doctor decided that the rules of time were his now to do with as he wanted. He changed a fixed point but the consequences were bad, so much so that Captain Adelaide Brooke took her own life in order to reset the timeline.
4. Entering His Own Timestream Could Destroy The Universe
As well as never crossing or interfering with his own timeline, The Doctor has also said that his timestream is also a place that he must never go. The timestream of a Time Lord is what happens after the Time Lord dies. The Doctor explains it like a wound that has ripped through time and all of the days of The Doctor is the scar of his life. Entering the timestream would poison The Doctor’s life and could potentially change the entire universe for the worse. So naturally The Doctor must never enter his timestream. But this is The Doctor and therefore all rules are there to be broken by him.
When an evil entity known as the Great Intelligence enters The Doctor’s timestream, he rewrites the Doctor’s history and therefore pretty much wipes out the universe. Clara Oswald steps up to save The Doctor and jumps into The Doctor’s timestream in order to save him and the universe. But now she is stuck and it’s left up to The Doctor to jump in and save her, which he does, of course.
3. Never Take A Life
One rule that The Doctor has always lived by is that he never kills or takes a life. The Doctor always sees the value in any life. Whether that person is good or bad is irrelevant to The Doctor. Each life is sacred and each person can be helped. Or at least that’s what The Doctor thinks most of the time. There have been a few occasions in which The Doctor forgets this rule and his actions come from anger and even cruelty.
Out of the few times that The Doctor has crossed the line and caused the death of another living being, the most significant is Solomon in the episode “Dinosaurs on a Spaceship.” Many may see the robot from the episode “Deep Breath” as an equally cruel act, as The Doctor may have pushed the robot to his death, but as that hasn’t been revealed yet, we can’t know for sure if he jumped or The Doctor pushed him. However, with the trader known as Solomon, The Doctor let him have it. Although it’s fair to say that Solomon was a horrible and evil man, the fact is that The Doctor set a trap in which Solomon was left to be blown up by missiles. Although The Doctor didn’t pull the trigger, this man’s blood is on his hands as The Doctor knew exactly what he was doing.
2. Genocide Is Never The Answer
On a similar theme to the above entry, The Doctor always prides himself on helping people rather than destroying them. So it’s even more shocking when we find out that The Doctor has done some devastating things in his time. Not only has he caused a few individuals to die but he has also been responsible for mass genocide.
Although the events of the Time War have now been rewritten and The Doctor actually saved the Time Lords, it doesn’t cancel out the fact that The Doctor did in fact kill them all. Before he managed to save his planet of Gallifrey, The Doctor stood in a barn and pushed a big, shiny button which wiped out two races of beings in a single push. The Doctor told himself that this was the only way to save the universe and end the war, which it did but the cost was The Doctor killed billions and billions of beings. Which is more than any monster or demon that he has ever faced.
1. Just A Mad Man With A Box
He is not a hero. He is not our salvation. He is just a mad man who stole a TARDIS and ran away to see the universe. That is what The Doctor is always saying to people and that is the one rule that he breaks on a weekly basis.
The number one entry on our list is the very rule that governs The Doctor and the way he lives his life. The Doctor is often depicted as a superhero and a guardian for the whole universe, but really he’s not. What he is and what he wants to be seen as is the eternal wanderer that’s just passing through on his way to explore everything the universe has to offer. Oh yes, and he’ll help out if he can. Of course this rule never really lasts, since wherever The Doctor goes he can’t help but get involved and save the day. This is one rule that the whole universe is happy that he breaks.