Doctor Who: How The Ninth Doctor Became Smaller on the Inside

Categories: Doctor Who

I was rewatching "The Day of The Doctor" the other day and I've come to a very sad conclusion about it. Though I adore what John Hurt did with The War Doctor, the fact is that his very existence has firmly placed the Ninth Doctor in the unenviable position of the smallest Doctor of them all.

Allow me to explain.

First of all, this is no judgment of the quality of Eccleston's adventures. He's still solidly in my top five Doctors, and I doubt the show as it exists now would be here today without him. I love the Ninth Doctor.

That said, he has not only the smallest number of adventures of any Doctor, with the introduction of the War Doctor he has lost a lot of what made him seem so huge and powerful in the first place. Steven Moffatt has stated in interviews that the 50th anniversary was originally conceived with Eccleston's return in mind, but that the actor's refusal to do so led to the creation of the lost incarnation played by Hurt.

That means that the long-held assumption that Nine fought at least partly in the Time War is debunked, and though of course he is still the same man there's just something more missing from it because of that. He didn't witness the horrors so often described. His predecessor did.

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Because of what we saw of the young War Doctor in "The Night of The Doctor", we know that nestled somewhere between there and "Day" there exists decades, maybe centuries of combat, daring escapes, losses, triumphs, and other wonders until the little grizzled man steals the Moment to end it all. All those wonders are essentially stolen from Nine now.

Speaking of "Night of The Doctor", what about the Eighth Doctor? How can Nine be smaller than McGann and his single television movie? That is a good point, and it pushed Nine even further back.

True, Eight has been on screen only twice for a grand total of less than two hours. However, the amazing thing about the first eight Doctors is that there now exists the massive, ever-expanding universe of books, audio plays, and comics. Sure, you can take Eight's movie as the primary canon of the character, and I would certainly advise that.

However, if you want to dig you can discover a narrative more vast and amazing than you could have imagined. There are more than 50 audio adventures starring McGann, with an individual episode count being well over 100. If you get bored with that, there are nearly 80 novels starring him in the dark years between 1996 and the relaunch of the series in 2005. Also, you have comics.

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Nine will always be my favorite to be honest, while I was heavily annoyed at the Day Of The Doctor excluding him, to me his pain is still extremely believable and marks him as the darkest of them all. The War Doctor was nice, but in all honesty he did not exactly bear the weight of the pain of what happened. He was literally given a regeneration specifically altered to be a warrior, he didn't have to grow into it. Even his mentality was given a free ride by being altered by Eight. Nine on the other hand...he was the punishment of the Doctor. He was the one who regenerated with the agony of the Time War, he was the one who literally showed the effects of the conflict, and that effect was the Doctor turned into a full fledged soldier. Even in the comics, Nine is referred to as "The Soldier." In many ways Ecclestons Doctor  was saddled with much more than Hurt's was, because he was the one who was forced to live with the pain. 

The War Doctor did all he could with the belief that he would die at the end and be free, thus removing his emotions from consequence...Nine did not have that luxury. Nine had to suffer, had to count the children constantly. The War Doctors punishment...was Nine. Not only that, but it IS stated that Nine a LONG stretch of time before he met Rose, making him the only Doctor to not actively want a companion. He just stumbled onto one by sheer accident. When you looked at Nine, you beheld a man who barely knew what it was to be the Doctor anymore because he was the one who had to shoulder the sins of the past while his past lives got off scot-free.

Not only that, but Nine forever remains as the one...who saved The Doctor. What I mean by that, is he was damaged and nearly forgot what it was to be his past self. He was the only Doctor whose humor and quirkiness was just a shield for the agony within. However, with some help from Rose and his own inner strength, by the end of Nine's series he realizes that regardless of his past he could be, and WAS the Doctor still. He exorcised the demons of his past, which is why by comparison Ten was far more pacifistic, kind, and merciful. Even Ten's big dark moment with the Family Of Blood loses its bite when you realize he let them live for so long before without hurting them. If it had been Nine he would have brutally broken them BEFORE eventually locking them in immortality. 

Nine was the Oncoming Storm. Nine was the one who came the closest to being just like a Dalek in both mentality and actions. Nine was the Doctor who didn't CARE about the idea of dying which is why he was known as the one who walked before death in his first episode. For christ sake, HIS incarnation was known for frequenting only the most violent and tragic parts of humanities history. Nine was the one who was perfectly fine with dropping a missile on his head to kill an enemy, but hesitated only because Rose happened to be there. More than all of that...Nine was the one who ensured that the Doctor would not die. Nine ensured that the spirit of the Doctor would not succumb to any pain, and it was NINE who rose above the flames and ashes still ready to protect.

Dalek Emperor- "What are you Doctor? Coward or killer?"

Ninth Doctor- *Slowly looks down at his hands...then releases the kill switch.* "Coward...any day."

Nine was absolutely fantastic, and even with the creation of the War Doctor, he still stands solidly and proudly at the top of my list.

Ashley Dianne Smith
Ashley Dianne Smith

I do completely agree that with the introduction of The War Doctor, the mysterious years of Nine before "Rose" dissipated, but I don't think it takes anything away from him as an important doctor. Nine re-launched a franchise and gave it new life. He was my first doctor, as with many newer generation Doctor Who fans, and because of that will always hold a special place in my heart.

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