Doctor Who: Which Incarnation was the best?

Posted: May 1, 2008 in Doctor Who, Reviews, Television
Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

Since Doctor Who started way back in 1963, there has been ten main incarnations of the main character. These incarnations have all had their own different personalities, strengths and quirks making them unique in comparison to their own past and future selves. So out of the incarnations of The Doctor, which could be said is the best?

01 – William Hartnell (1963-1966)

An elderly, grump grandfather type figure. Not as physically active as his future selves but still of a very sharp intellect as well as sharp tongue. Arrogant at times but came to learn quite a few lessons from his human travelling companions, also was very caring about his grand-daughter, Susan. Had very little control of the TARDIS due to a combination of faulty machinery and lost control codes. Incarnation ended ended at the conclusion of The Tenth Planet from physical exhaustion.

02 – Patrick Troughton (1966-1969)

Often regarded as something of a ‘cosmic hobo’, this Doctor was much less serious in nature than his predecessor. However, this tended to disguise a lot of planning and thinking that happened as the Doctor stepped back and guided his companions and allies into doing what needed to be done. Control of the TARDIS increased, the sonic screwdriver was first sighted as was series stalwart UNIT (including Lethbridge-Stewart). Incarnation ended at the end of The War Games when the Time Lords found the Doctor guilty of interferring, sentencing him to forced regeneration and exile to Earth.

03 – Jon Pertwee (1970-1974)

Exiled to Earth for some years, the Doctor became scientific advisor to UNIT while trying to rediscover the secrets of time travel and return his TARDIS to working order. One of the more physically able incarnations with adeptness at alien martial arts demonstrated on multiple occassions. This was the era during which Bessie and the ‘Who-Mobile’ were constructed. Incarnation ended at the end of Planet of the Spiders after the Doctor had been exposed to massive amounts of radiation.

04 – Tom Baker (1974-1981)

Almost certainly the most visually recognisable incarnation with the combination of long scarf and great mop of hair. Ranged widely from brilliant scientist to eccentric bumbler often shown up by his own companions. Was the first incarnation to purposefully lose control of the TARDIS through use of the Randomiser device. Incarnation ended when the Doctor fell from a radio telescope while stopping a scheme of the Master’s.

05 – Peter Davison (1981-1984)

Something of a pacifist, even compared to the Doctor’s general nonviolent nature. The youngest appearing incarnation and possibly the most ‘human’ with a greater amount of compassion and vulnerability. Very skilled at cricket. Much more of the TARDIS interior was seen during this incarnation. Tenure ended at the conclusion of The Caves of Androzani as the Doctor fell victim to poisoning, saving his companion’s life in the process.

06 – Colin Baker (1984-1986)

An incarnation full of contradictions, one moment he was a calm if eccentric traveller to having bursts of angry violence. Could be even more arrogant and pompous than any other incarnation at times, usually followed by being shown to be wrong. Almost certainly possessed the worst sense of style with his choice in clothing rutinely being the target of comment and ridicule. Incarnation ended when the Doctor hit his head on the TARDIS console after an attack from The Rani.

07 – Sylvester McCoy (1987-1996)

The most varied incarnation, starting off as a truly bumbling clown and ending up as a master schemer and planner responsible for major casualties of both Daleks and Cybermen. Debatably the most effective incarnation in terms of enemy defeats with greatest control of the TARDIS. While caring deeply for those around him, saw no problem with manipulating them to see a plan or scheme succeed. Incarnation ended when the Doctor was shot stepping out of the TARDIS after an emergency landing.

08 – Paul McGann (1996)

The most difficult incarnation to comment on due to lack of non-book/audio appearances. Possibly had best interior TARDIS design but arguably the most ineffectual incarnation. The circumstances surrounding the end of this incarnation are completely unknown at this time.

09 – Christopher Eccleston (2005)

The first incarnation to sport a contemporary style of dress/style, also had an apparently greatly changed TARDIS. Emotionally affected by the destruction of Gallifrey and the Time Lords which appeared to limit his effectiveness and even morals. Seemed motivated by showing off the Universe to companions as opposed to previous incarnations where this was less of a priority. Incarnation ended after absorbing energy from the Time Vortex to save his companion.

10 – David Tennant (2005-)

Continues the ‘showing off’ attitude of the last incarnation and contemporary dress code. This version seems lonlier than any other. Attests to not giving any second chances but seems to escape matters by luck much more so than by intellect or planning. Seems content to randomnly wander the Universe as opposed to actively seeking out evil.

So which is the best incarnation of the Doctor? Yes, it is a very subjective call and every person will most like have their own answer but this is mine. After weighing up all the various aspects of the all the various incarnations, I have to conclude that the best incarnation of the Doctor is…

7th Doctor – Sylvester McCoy.

But why? Well, there are various reasons to this opinion. He is the only incarnation to date that has given himself a mission or purpose and actively sought out evil to combat. No longer randomly wandering Space and Time, he laid down plans and used his intellect in a very directed manner. He stopped relying on luck and the TARDIS to take him to evil and he took care of business. For the first time we got to see what the Doctor could be like when he dropped the screen of eccentricity and comedy that he often used to throw foes off guard and make himself appear more human.

It was a great change and the stories of the 7th Doctor managed to inject a sense of mystery back into the character which had been worn away by previous stories. McCoy also had an excellent talent for switching instantly from his speciality of comedic acting to appearing very dark and indimidating, which he had little experience with at that point. The earlier stories, especially Time and the Rani, were rubbish which was the result of various factors … but ones such as Ghost Light, Curse of Fenric and Remembrance of the Daleks are simply some of the best the series has ever produced.

The runner up?

All the incarnations have their good and bad points but I would have to say that, thanks to some incredible acting performances, the second best incarnation would have to be that of the 1st Doctor as played by William Hartnell … and there is little difference between 7th and 1st at that.

  1. gallifreyan says:

    personally, I’m gonna have to say the 10th ;-).
    but the 4th follows closely.

  2. ozatheist says:

    No 4, just because

    are you doing a follow-up “best companion”?

  3. Matt says:

    Probably not, too many of the sods! Especially if you include books and audios!
    Plus, the worst companion always boils down to Adric vs. Mel.

  4. Bill Anderson says:

    I also liked #4 the most.

  5. dailypop says:

    While many may disagree with your choice as the best incarnation, by the standards that you laid out I have to agree that McCoy is the best. While I also enjoy Ghost Light and Curse of Fenric, I feel that the ‘quirkier’ stories such as ‘Greatest Show in the Galaxy’ and ‘Happiness Patrol’ are much more interesting. Yet this Doctor’s brief era was so incredibly varied that there is something for everyone!

    While Doctor #10 is very much a brash wanderer who survives each story through plot contrivances and his ‘magic wand,’ Doctor #9 was much more interesting. I agree that he was showing off the universe, but I think it was in an attempt to rediscover a part of himself that had been lost in the Time War. It’s not a very strong concept for a series, but it works for me more than the giddy and Godlike #10.

    I wrote a profile of each Doctor on my blog and continue to slog my way through the new series reviews. I’d be curious what you have to say about my blog.

  6. transientreporter says:

    Pertwee for me. Baker was a tool.

  7. Suzanne says:

    William Hartnell will always be the only true Dr Who in my mind but Paul McGann had a gravitas which reflected the essence of Dr Who. David Tennant is good as was Chris Eccelston but the TARDIS has changed so much and the storylines are not so good now though the graphics are clever.

  8. Fen says:

    David Tennant for me, simply because I love his manic way. Though I grew up with Tom Baker, he has a very special place in my heart.

  9. Cyberman that is Steampunk says:

    I cannot have a favourite Doctor. I can’t and I’m honestly baffled that anyone could, when watching all the Colin Baker eps from start to finish, I’ll pace around my flat preaching to myself how he’s the best. Some time afterwards I’ll walk down the beach and realise how much of a fool I was and still am when I find that if I compare him to how wonderful Patrick Troughton was I can’t actually say he’s ‘better’, and vica versa. Any attempts of trying to remind myself of how wonderful he was by remembering all that time I spent enjoying Doctor Who is thwarted when I realise that that’s my reaction to all the Doctors.

    Each one is brilliant and each one is irreplaceable and you know what? Each one is Doctor Who. They are all Doctor Who, they are all perfect and to think that even one is ‘less imperfect than that one’ is a ridiculous idea. Years from now, they’l dozens of Doctors, an army of them. You need a number? I dunno, fifty. They’ll be fifty Doctors and even then I won’t be able to pick any one out and say it’s bad.

  10. Ellie says:

    Totally LOVE David Tennant he is SUCH a good Doctor. Within 2 seconds he can go from jokey to serious. He can go from 903+ to 19 in 2 seconds. Just check out Voyage of the Damned. But y’know what? I love ’em all.

  11. drno says:

    #2 without him the show would have died. not easy to pull off. rip!

  12. matthewceo says:

    #10 without a doubt. He has a unique and incredibly convincing acting style when he plays Doctor Who.

  13. JOELY says:

    1,3,7. They are my faves. I like the new ones but the originals are the best. i H8 what they’ve done to the daleks. but i LoVe 1,3,7. Mostly because they have atmosphere and cool outings. 🙂 R.I.P Billy harnell and Jonny Pertwee

  14. TenthDoctorfan91 says:

    The Tenth Doctor is obviously the best of all the Doctors including/not including the Eleventh Doctor

  15. Rebel says:

    I love them all, but my tip of the hat must go to the man who started it all- William Hartnell’s first doctor.

  16. packerbabe says:

    # 10, David Tennant is absolutely the best Doctor. I don’t car for # 11 at all. Sorry!

  17. Gordon says:

    7,1,11 then the shalka doctor.

  18. The winners in my book are Tom Baker, Tom Baker, and Tom Baker. 😉

  19. Jenni says:

    Is it any wonder that David Tennant’s Doctor is all but unmatched in his likability and pizzazz and charisma? He is soooooooo incredible to watch, so intelligent while also being soooooo full of imagination, emotion, and ESPECIALLY blowing audiences away in the episode 2 parter- season 3: “Human Nature” and especially “The Family of Blood” as he plummets from the awe-inspiring Doctor to a human who only wants to be normal, and be in love, a human as unsure of himself as the Doctor is sure! He is amazing and cannot be equaled but I think it’s mostly because Tennant has been primed to play this role ever since he was an 8 year old kid who told his parents he wanted to grow up to be an actor so he could play “The Good Doctor”! He’s prepared for this role his entire life and breathed that massive passion into a character who was always too stiff before.

  20. Jenni says:

    I will miss David Tennant immensely!!!!!!!!!!! If the good Doctor were to somehow reincarnate again after Matt Smith back into Tennant, it would be probably the 3rd or 4th happiest day of my life! (Not really… I’m not THAT pathetic but… still… it would be a great day!!!!!!!!!)

  21. Estel says:

    11th Dr. all the way!!

  22. Debbie says:

    Best for me:: David Tennant the tenth & Matt Smith the Eleventh Doctor!! (=

  23. Seriously needs an update, dude! Just kidding, but do you have an updated list in which you rank Matt Smith? Great post!

  24. “Doctor Who: Which Incarnation was the best?

    Matt’s Notepad” in fact enables me contemplate a small bit extra. I actually treasured each and every single piece of this blog post. I appreciate it -Karina

  25. I'm Not Here says:

    Where’s Matt Smith And Peter Capaldi at?????

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