The glory of oratory
The most memorable moments in Doctor Who always come down to the speeches. Fiery, inspirational, heartbreaking — two hearts means twice the potential to break ours. In honor of Doctor Number Thirteen (Jodie Whittaker), we’re taking a look back on all of New Who’s best rhetorical mic-drop moments.
23. “Look at my girl. Look at her go.” (From “The Doctor’s Wife”)
“Fear me, I’ve killed hundreds of Time Lords.”
“Fear me, I’ve killed all of them.”
The Neil Gaiman-penned episode in which we get to see the TARDIS come into herself is a gem, and even though this scene — where the Doctor defeats Home and says goodbye to Idris — isn’t much of a speech per se, we get the music and enough memorable turns of phrase to keep it on the Great Speech roster.
22. “I’m the Doctor.” (From “The Voyage of the Damned”)
“I’m the Doctor. I’m a Time Lord. I’m from the planet Gallifrey in the Constellation of Kasterborous. I’m 903 years old, and I’m the man who is going to save your lives and all 6 billion people on the planet below. You got a problem with that?”
Loves giving us his resume, our boy does. The full introduction is always a magical moment. Maybe not the most lyrical, but damn if it isn’t satisfying.
21. “Have a fantastic life.” (From “The Parting of the Ways”)
“Have a good life. Do that for me, Rose. Have a fantastic life.”
Goodbyes are always meaningful. After the Doctor sends the TARDIS out with Rose to keep her safe, he communicates via hologram to say farewell, to let the TARDIS die. And, of course, to be fantastic.
20. “I think that’s a hell of a bird.” (From “Heaven Sent”)
“There’s this emperor, and he asks the shepherd’s boy how many seconds in eternity. And the shepherd’s boy says, ‘There’s this mountain of pure diamond. It takes an hour to climb it and an hour to go around it, and every hundred years a little bird comes and sharpens its beak on the diamond mountain. And when the entire mountain is chiseled away, the first second of eternity will have passed.’ You may think that’s a hell of a long time. Personally, I think that’s a hell of a bird.”
In a brilliant, mind-bending episode for which Peter Capaldi is almost entirely alone, his final speech (or really, monologue) as he punches through the diamond wall brings a new type of empowerment for the Doctor. He is not rallying the troops or scaring off an enemy; he is speaking directly to himself and being brave without an audience.
19. “I believe in her!” (From “The Satan Pit”)
“I’ve seen fake gods and bad gods and demi-gods and would-be gods. I’ve had the whole pantheon. But if I believe in one thing… just one thing… I believe in her!”
Sure the CGI is silly, but the Doctor going up against basically THE DEVIL is pure Doctor Who magic.
18. Twelve’s regeneration (From “Twice Upon a Time”)
“Never be cruel, never be cowardly. And never ever eat pears! Remember: Hate is always foolish… and love is always wise.”
Capaldi goes back through some of his greatest-hit sentiments in his swan song. This is the Doctor being quirky, but still poignant. A.k.a., being the Doctor.
17. “I do not know who I am.” (From “The Christmas Invasion”)
“Look at these people, these human beings. Consider their potential! From the day they arrive on the planet, blinking, step into the sun, there is more to see than can ever be seen, more to do than — no, hold on. Sorry, that’s The Lion King…”
This was the moment, in his very first episode, that made it obvious David Tennant was born to play the Doctor. He’s funny, confident, sexy, flirtatious, bumbling, bombastic —everything you want in an alien philosopher-king.
16. “Fear makes companions of all of us.” (From “Listen”)
“Because didn’t anybody ever tell you? Fear is a superpower. Fear can make you faster and cleverer and stronger.”
Paradox be damned, Clara comes back to a child Doctor and teaches him that he can be afraid without being cruel or cowardly.
15. “No weapons! No defense! No plan!” (From “Bad Wolf”)
“I’m going to rescue her! I’m going to save Rose Tyler from the middle of the Dalek fleet, and then I’m going to save the Earth, and then, just to finish off, I’m going to wipe every last stinking Dalek out of the sky!”
Christopher Eccleston’s brief stint might be lacking when it comes to bombastic Doctor moments, but standing up to a fleet of Daleks is a pretty good one.
14. “Be a Doctor.” (From “Face the Raven”)
“You’re going to be alone now, and you’re very bad at that. You’re going to be furious and you’re going to be sad, but listen to me: Don’t let this change you. No, listen. Whatever happens next, wherever she is sending you, I know what you’re capable of. You don’t be a warrior. Promise me. Be a Doctor.”
Capaldi’s Doctor really brought out the best in Clara. While she came off a bit one-note when paired with Matt Smith, Capaldi’s run showed her as brave and impulsive, someone who could go head to head with the Doctor and tell him what he needed to hear.
13. “It was patronizing.” (From “Kill the Moon”)
“Don’t you ever tell me to take the stabilizers off my bike. And don’t you dare lump me in with the rest of all the little humans that you think are so tiny and silly and predictable. You walk our Earth, Doctor, you breathe our air. You make us your friend, and that is your moon too. And you can damn well help us when we need it.”
Another great Clara-Capaldi moment, in which, possibly for the first time, the Doctor gets called out on the B.S. of his world-saving bombast.
12. “I will tell you a story.” (From “The Rings of Akhaten”)
“Oh, you like to think you’re a god. You’re not a god, you’re just a parasite, eaten out with jealousy and envy and longing for the lives of others. You feed on them, on the memory of love and loss and birth and death and joy and sorrow! So… so… come on, then. Take mine.”
Although this moment is a fan favorite, I think most of the work here is done by the music. It’s a largely confusing, muddled episode, but nothing can’t be saved by a children’s voice and a choir.
11. “I am TALKING.” (From “The Pandoirca Opens”)
“Remember every black day I ever stopped you, and then, and then, do the smart thing.… Let somebody else try first.”
Has there ever been a better mic-drop?
10. “We’re all stories in the end.” (From “The Big Bang”)
“I’ll be a story in your head. But that’s OK: We’re all stories, in the end. Just make it a good one, eh? Because it was, you know, it was the best: A daft old man, who stole a magic box and ran away. Did I ever tell you I stole it? Well, I borrowed it; I was always going to take it back. Oh, that box, Amy, you’ll dream about that box. It’ll never leave you. Big and little at the same time, brand-new and ancient, and the bluest blue ever. And the times we had, eh? Would’ve had. Never had. In your dreams, they’ll still be there. The Doctor and Amy Pond… and the days that never came.”
Less of a speech and more of a bedtime story, the Doctor’s goodnight to the young Amelia Pond is the perfect culmination of a beautifully plotted season.
9. “The man that stops the monsters.” (From “Flatline”)
“I think you just don’t care! I don’t know if you are here to invade, infiltrate, or just replace us — I don’t suppose it really matters now. You are monsters! That is the role it seems you are determined to play, so it seems I must play mine! The man that stops the monsters! I’m sending you back to your own dimension. Who knows? Some of you may even survive the trip.”
The Doctor sums up his ethos and plays the hero.
8. TIE: “Like fire and ice and rage,” and “The fury of the Time Lord.” (From “Family of Blood”)
“He’s like fire and ice and rage. He’s like the night, and the storm in the heart of the sun. He’s ancient and forever. He burns at the center of time, and he can see the turn of the universe. And… he’s wonderful.”
“He never raised his voice. That was the worst thing… the fury of the Time Lord… and then we discovered why. Why this Doctor, who had fought with gods and demons, why he had run away from us and hidden. He was being kind.”
This episode gets two brilliant speeches, neither from the Doctor. The first is from the young Tim Latimer, trying to convince poor John Smith to give up his human life to become the Doctor again. And then we get a voice-over from Brother Mine, describing their punishments. Each equally chilling, each well-set in one of the best Doctor Who two-parters to date.
7. “The last of the Time Lords.” (From “The Waters of Mars”)
“There are laws of time. Once upon a time there were people in charge of those laws, but they died. They all died. Do you know who that leaves? Me! It’s taken me all these years to realize that the laws of time are mine and they will obey me!”
A rare flare-up of genuine anger and hubris, a speech in which the Doctor isn’t the hero, but a boy who will soon learn his lesson.
6. “I am an idiot!” (From “Death in Heaven”)
“I am not a good man! I am not a bad man. I am not a hero. And I’m definitely not a president. And no, I’m not an officer. Do you know what I am? I am an idiot, with a box and a screwdriver. Just passing through, helping out, learning. I don’t need an army. I never have, because I’ve got them. Always them. Because love, it’s not an emotion. Love is a promise.”
For all of the strength of Capaldi’s attack eyebrows, he evolved into the kindest, most sensitive Doctor. How ironic that quirky Tennant would be the most ruthless? This is a beautiful moment for Capaldi’s Doctor, and a perfect plot moment.
5. “Just be kind.” (From “The Doctor Falls”)
“I do what I do because it’s right! Because it’s decent! And above all, it’s kind! It’s just that. Just kind. If I run away today, good people will die. If I stand and fight, some of them might live. Maybe not many, maybe not for long. Hey, you know, maybe there’s no point to any of this at all. But it’s the best I can do. So I’m going to do it. And I will stand here doing it until it kills me. And you’re going to die too! Someday. And how will that be? Have you thought about it? What would you die for? Who I am is where I stand. Where I stand is where I fall. Stand with me. These people are terrified. Maybe we can help a little. Why not, just at the end, just be kind?”
Here is Twelve at his best, confronting his best friends and worst enemies, and preaching what he’s come to learn is more important than anything else.
4. Van Gogh at the museum (From “Vincent and the Doctor”)
“Pain is easy to portray, but to use your passion and pain to portray the ecstasy and joy and magnificence of our world, no one had ever done it before. Perhaps no one ever will again. To my mind, that strange, wild man who roamed the fields of Provence was not only the world’s greatest artist, but also one of the greatest men who ever lived.”
If you watch this and don’t tear up, I don’t trust you.
3. “Basically, run.” (From “The Eleventh Hour”)
“You’re not the first to have come here. Oh, there have been so many. And what you’ve got to ask is, what happened to them? Hello. I’m the Doctor. Basically… run.”
What an entrance! This clip shows, if nothing else, how unfairly good all Matt Smith’s music was. I mean, how can you not get chills when he steps through all the other Doctors?
2. Eleven’s goodbye (From “The Time of the Doctor”)
“We are all different people all through our lives, and that’s okay, that’s good. You’ve got to keep moving so long as you remember all the people that you used to be. I will not forget one line of this, not one day, I swear. I will always remember when the Doctor was me.”
Meta and heartbreaking — as soon as Amy shows up, I’m in a puddle.
1. The Doctor’s war speech (From “The Zygon Inversion”)
“When you’ve killed all the bad guys, and it’s all perfect and just and fair, when you have finally got it exactly the way you want it, what are you going to do with the people like you? The troublemakers. How are you going to protect your glorious revolution from the next one?”
There has never been a better representation of who the Doctor is or what this show is supposed to be. No big music cues, no exciting “I am the Doctor!” moments, no — just a beautifully written, expertly executed speech that shows Capaldi’s sublime ability as an actor, and the Doctor’s fundamental importance as a character.
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