?Doctor Who‘s time-traveling Doctor is sometimes a mythic figure and sometimes a fool, but there’s one thing he always is — and that’s damned hard to kill. Not only he is brilliant, someone who will get their way out of the damnedest situations and send evil scurrying, but even in times when evil and /or fate catches up with him, and he suffers some kind of mortal would, he has the power to regenerate into a new being with perfect health. Now, the latter reason is why the Doctor’s enemies have found it so hard to kill him and make him stay dead, but the former reason — that cunning and resourcefulness — is why when he is presented as nearly dying in some ways that are say… stupid, then it’s glaringly noticeable and makes you want to throw your jelly babies at the screen. Here’s seven of those extremely stupid ways The Doctor has almost died.
7) Something Offscreen
?Paul McGann really got shafted in his portrayal of The Eighth Doctor: one TV movie, a couple of books, and some audio plays and that’s about it. But the biggest way he got shafted is he never got his regeneration scene! We have no idea what near-death experience he went through to become the Ninth Doctor.
We only have speculation to go on — such as perhaps the Time War, alluded to between the old and new Who series, had something to do with it.Either way, there’s no death, heroic or unheroic, for us to see. C’mon, BBC, at least give us a flashback episode with Paul McGann in it regenerating… something!
Without any definitive answer as to how he died and regenerated, I’m just going to keep on thinking he died of a peanut allergy. Ate a cupcake, did not realize it contained nuts and thus, regenerated.
6) Shot While Not Paying Attention Then Killed by Incompetent Human Doctors
In the Doctor Who movie from 1996 (also called “The Enemy Within”), the Seventh Doctor starts off doing something really stupid. In his haste, he steps right out of the TARDIS without even looking and ends up getting accidentally shot. Now, getting shot is a wound the Doctor can recover from…. but he’s unconscious and gets taken off to the local human hospital where the people there, despite having no proof of him having medical insurance, treat him for his bullet wounds and then decide, before even looking at an x-ray, to go poking around in his circulatory system to figure out why he doesn’t have a regular heartbeat. Uh, that’s a fantastic bit of medical procedure there. “Whoa, something’s wrong with this completely unknown guy we have absolutely no medical data on, and who has a bullet in his chest… LET’S START POKIN’ AROUND!”
So, naturally, they start poking around. The Doctor unfortunately wakes up to see them doing this, to which he begs them not to, because he’s not human and they knock him back out. Then, oops, they find “hey, this guy’s insides are completely confusing” (BECAUSE HE’S AN ALIEN) and accidentally kill him. Great job.
Fortunately for the Doctor, he manages to regenerate later in the morgue… and then has a really stupid adventure with Eric Roberts.
?Drowning is a totally reasonable way for normal people to die, but when you’ve nearly been killed as many times as the Doctor has, simply drowning is just a bit… mundane. In the Tenth Doctor episode “Turn Left,” an alternate version of the Doctor, without Donna Noble present, dies on Christmas Eve of drowning while killing off the Racnoss. I understand that the rush of the Thames hitting you would cause just about anyone to drown, but I’m really trying to picture the Doctor getting offed in this way.
So, he’s looking at the Racnoss drowning.
Without Donna there to tell him to “Stop now!” he just keeps looking at the Racnoss dying.
He’s still looking.
“Oh no! Water!” DEAD.
Then UNIT soldiers come across his dead body, a surprised look still on his face.
It’s a good thing this wasn’tt the real Doctor. Though I’ve always wondered — without Donna there, how did he even know about the Racnoss without her appearing in his TARDIS? Was there another bride used in the Racnoss’ plot? Is she also found dead with a surprised look on her face?
4) Eaten By Reapers Because Rose is Stupid
?In the episode “Father’s Day” the Ninth Doctor gets eaten by a Reaper, creatures that appear due to disruptions in time and start eating everything paradoxical like a desert castaway who suddenly comes across a bucket of KFC. This happens because of the following:
? Rose wants to go back and time to see her Father die. She wants to comfort him in his final moments. It’s an odd request but The Doctor complies.
? Instead of comforting him she chickens out. So, she asks to go back again, which the Doctor really reluctantly complies with as there are now two sets of themselves in the same time. He gives her specific instructions on what to do, but she ignores them, runs out and saves her Dad, and causes a paradox. The reapers show up, and his TARDIS gets all messed up — as in inside of the police box exterior is… nothing.
? Trapped in a church, The Doctor is working on a plan to get everyone out of there as soon as he can get his TARDIS re-assembled. He specifically says to Rose NOT TO TOUCH THE BABY VERSION OF HERSELF. That would cause a paradox and get them all killed.
? Rose touches the baby version of herself.
? Reapers get in, and The Doctor sacrifices himself to save the others.
Eventually it’s all resolved — the Doctor lives and the TARDIS is restored, but only because Rose’s Dad very nobly sacrifices himself to restore the original timeline. Still, I can’t help but think the Doctor’s last thought before getting eaten was “So, I manage not to get killed by Daleks, Cybermen, and the Black Guardian, and I’m finally offed because a girl can’t follow directions. Fantastic.”
3) Killed by Himself (Kind of)
So. In “The Ultimate Foe,” the Doctor faces off against The Valeyard, which is supposed to be the amalgamation of the darker sides of his nature between his 12th and “final” incarnations. Meaning the Valeyard is the Doctor but not the Doctor because they’ve somehow extracted an evil version of him and he’s from the future. Oh, also, his goal is to get the Doctor convicted of genocide so he can have the remaining regenerations or something. Follow that? No, of course not. In fact the whole construct of The Valeyard is so complicated, writer’s guidelines for the Doctor Who: New Adventures novels specifically asked writers not to include him or discuss the complex problems his existence raises.
Anyway, the Doctor is within in an imaginary construct inside The Matrix, a Time Lord computer system and gets pulled into sand by ominous hands while fighting The Valeyard. Since death in the Matrix means death in real life (yes, similar to that other Matrix) getting pulled into the sand also means death in real life.
So, yes, Sixth Doctor is pulled into imaginary sand by a complicated future construct of himself, asphyxiated, and mourned by a hippie-faced man named Sabalom. Interestingly, that wasn’t only his only dumb near-death experience in this final Colin Baker episode.
In the story, the TARDIS gets blasted by a tractor beam fired by the Rani. The impact and subsequent crash landing almost kills him, forcing a regeneration. We’re not exactly sure how this happens, because we don’t see the actual accident happen. Literature such as Spiral Scratch and Love and War give heroic explanations that he was drained after saving a multitude of universes and/or that he deliberately chose to fly into the tractor beam to create his seventh Incarnation, capable of being Time’s Champion.
However, neither of those are official. The closest we have to an explanation as to why the 6th died is that he hit his head on the console, which is appropriate considering how many times Colin Baker must have butted heads with the BBC and John Nathan Turner (as covered in this list).
Regardless, we never see the Sixth Doctor say goodbye — just blast, fall, regenerate, then a terrible episode where the Rani pretends to be Mel for a while.
1) A Literal Cliffhanger
The Seventh Doctor’s tenure had some really, er, questionable choices made in… well… okay, there were some terrible awful episodes. Oh, and fashion sense. This Doctor had a question-mark laden sweater and an umbrella with a question mark handle because… what? He’s the Riddler now?
Anyway, this cliffhanger from the episode “Dragonfire” is pretty legendary for being stupid. The Doctor, not in any real danger, decides to climb down to a ledge that he can’t possibly reach. Using the aforementioned “Riddler” umbrella he incompetently tries to get down to the ledge and realizes that he’s really screwed up and may fall to his death.
I can’t think of what possible reason the normally incredibly smart Doctor thought this was a good idea. The only way this makes sense is if this wasn’t a plan to get down to a lower ledge but was an actual attempt to kill himself brought on by a sudden bout of depression.