Doctor Who: 3 Times the Eleventh Doctor Was Terrifying
"Good men don't need rules. Today is not the day to find out why I have so many."
"A Good Man Goes to War"
I’m always a little baffled by the difference in the way people see various Doctors and the way they actually are. Nine is typically described as a grim, melancholy figure even though he spends most of his time being manically joyful. Eight is written off as a romantic nice guy unless you follow him through the audio stories, where he exhibits coldness and cruelty and the weight of the deaths of his many loved ones.
None illustrate it better than the Eleventh Doctor, who is seen as boyish, awkward and comical. Which is weird because of all the Doctors, Eleven might actually be the most terrifying figure among them. Don’t let the silly dancing and fezzes fool you; he is arguably the darkest Doctor of them all. For instance…
3. He Blew Up God Knows How Many Cybermen Just to Make a Point
It’s one of the most iconic moments in Eleven’s tenure. Rory Williams marches into a Cyberman control ship to demand that the Cybermen tell him where Amy Pond is because their legion monitors that whole sector of space. Then, when he questions them, half their fleet explodes behind him. Badass, right?
Except think about it. The Cybermen didn’t kidnap Amy. The Cybermen weren’t involved at all. They just happened to be hanging around in the area where Amy was supposed to be. Not only that, The Doctor didn’t even give the Cyberman a real chance to answer the question. He pre-emptively murdered hundreds if not thousands of them to give Rory a cool line to say. Yes, the Cybermen are traditionally bad guys, but in this case their biggest sin was…knowing something The Doctor wanted to know?
2. He Literally Thinks He’s a God
There’s this unforgettable scene in “Rings of Akhaten” where Eleven pours his memories into a parasitic, planet-size entity to overload its appetite for experience. To do this, he makes this impassioned speech about how the entity isn’t the god people think it is and instead just feeds on the lives of others. It’s one of Matt Smith’s finest moments on the show, and it would be a lot easier to unconditionally love it except for the fact The Doctor is clearly talking not about the entity but himself.
The level to which Eleven assumes control over people’s lives with cold indifference is chilling. In “The God Complex,” he tells Amy that he blatantly took her with him because he wanted to be unconditionally adored by someone who had waited for him since childhood, and that he did so knowing that he was definitely going to do irreparable damage to her. Then he does very nearly the exact same thing with Clara Oswald, haunting her childhood and basically turning her into a custom-made traveling companion willing to die across his timeline as if he were some sort of blood deity absorbing virgin sacrifices. To say nothing of the fact that he knows she has some bizarre fate tied to him and hides it from her.
In fact, what’s his reasoning behind wanting to get rid of Amy during the events of “The Beast Below”? It’s not because he thought he was going to have to kill the starwhale that was powering Starship UK, but because Amy had presumed to make a moral judgment on his behalf without his knowledge. Ten may have called himself the Time Lord Victorious, but Eleven’s god complex was the really frightening one to behold.
"The Girl Who Waited"
1. He Straight Up Murdered Amy Pond…Twice
It’s rare for regular companions to out and out die during their travels with The Doctor (unless you’re Eight, in which case only one has made it out alive and it barely counts because he thinks she’s dead anyway…seriously, Big Finish, you don’t have to kill everyone). It does happen, but as far as I can tell, Eleven is the only Doctor to have actually on-purpose killed a companion in cold blood. Twice, no less.
The first time is in “The Almost People,” when it’s revealed that the Amy who has been traveling on the TARDIS is actually a doppelganger made of synthetic flesh material. He then proceeds to melt the doppelganger into a puddle with the sonic screwdriver. While we were all oohing and aahing over a plot twist, we forgot that we had just spent two whole episodes establishing that the flesh doppelgangers are in fact sentient beings with humanity. In fact, that was the whole point of the episode, with one of the doppelgangers taking over the life of his original after the original is killed. When Eleven melted the Amy doppelganger, he was for all intents and purposes killing an exact copy of his best friend for no particular reason.
Then there’s “The Girl Who Waited,” where he locks an older version of Amy out of the TARDIS to prevent two different time streams from merging, leaving her to be killed by robots. This isn’t even a doppelganger, but actually Amy, and he intentionally leads her to her death. You could say that he did it to protect the younger Amy from being erased from history and that one way or the other, an Amy was going to die that day, but it doesn’t really change the fact that The Doctor was the man who essentially pulled the trigger on which one survived (and tilted the odds in favor of it being the younger one, who hadn’t lost faith in him; see entry re: God above).
There has always been a darkness to The Doctor from the very beginning. It’s one of the things that make the character great, and often he cloaks that darkness in colorful clothes and contrived buffoonery. Sometimes, though, he lets it out, and none let it further out than the Eleventh Doctor.
Get the Theater Newsletter
Get a rundown of upcoming theater events and ticket deals in Houston.