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.
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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It's not just McGann, either. Every one of the classic Doctors has a library of tales that stretches nearly infinitely in every direction and they are still adding more. Doctor Who has reached a mass and a velocity that it's unlikely anyone starting now could ever catch up to experience it all.
Except when you're talking about the Ninth Doctor.
He has 13 television episodes, four comic stories from Doctor Who Magazine, an annual, and six novels. You can literally wrap up everything ever done by Eccleston's Doctor for less than $200, and it's only that high because you'll probably have to drop $50 or more on the comic collection because Panini Comics apparently hates money and keeps letting trades go out of print.
There are no audio stories. Big Finish isn't allowed to mess with anything after 2005. More importantly, there aren't even any gaps to have those stories anyway.
We can infer that there are a few tales that occur between the regeneration of the War Doctor and "Rose", but there can't be all that many because the further you put Nine from the events of the Time War the less we buy how it's left him a shell-shocked survivor. There's a compelling fan theory that when the Tardis takes off in "Rose" and then almost immediately returns to tell Rose that it's a time machine that there may actually years worth of lonely wandering in what feels like seconds to Mickey and Rose. If that's true, there maybe some hope for the Ninth Doctor to fly again.
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I doubt it, though. Even though Ten and Eleven are technically in the same boat as Nine in that they are as limited in the expanded universe currently, they have two things going for them. The first is sheer time. Both David Tennant and Matt Smith enjoyed three full seasons each, with the former also getting a nice big chunk of time at the end that leaves plenty of leeway for, well, anything. In that time, there are a lot more comics and novels, and even a series of audio dramas produced by the BBC. You can wander pretty far along the edges of Ten and Eleven without running out of adventures.
The second is more painfully obvious. I don't think that any fan has any fear that we've definitely seen the last of Ten and Eleven. The tenth anniversary of the relaunch series is next March, and if Moffat and his team aren't quietly planning something then I'll eat my fez. Even aside from a television outing, Smith and Tennant have such deep, undying loves for the franchise that it's inconceivable that they're fully done with Doctor Who. What form their future contributions will take, whether it's an expansion of the Big Finish license to include them or perhaps animated specials, I don't know. What I do know is that they feel the weight of the role too heavily to ever not be The Doctor on occasion.
Nine... not so much. He, and he alone, has signed off on infinity as far as I can tell. He's still one of my very favorites, but he's become smaller than The Doctor should ever be.