As the main character of the show, the Doctor has been the star of most episodes and many memorable scenes. Each of the Doctors since 2005 have had their moments and really showcased their acting ability. Here are my top 5 scenes of the modern era where the Doctor and the actor alike really excelled.
5- Time Lord Victorious – The Waters of Mars – 10th Doctor
This is one of the rare occasions in the show’s long history where the Doctor was the villain. Without a companion we saw him go further than he’d gone before in his efforts to save people. He broke the rules that he’d long since abided by. Changing a fixed point in time has consequences and the Doctor knew that, but with his people gone he established that the rules of time were gone with them. The arrogance of the Doctor in this scene was shocking. The character who was so careful not to endanger people by meddling with time (especially in “The Fires of Pompeii”) was now recklessly doing as he pleased. Declaring himself as the winner of the Time War rather than the last survivor and as “Time Lord Victorious” sickened Adelaide Brooke, who he had just changed a fixed point in time to save from her impending death on Mars. Calling Mia and Yuri who he had also saved “little people” fuelled Adelaide’s rage as she berated the Doctor for his elitist manner. It was such a dark change for the tenth Doctor who had previously been so reserved about discussing his people. As he walked back to the TARDIS he assumed he had done right, but Adelaide knew she was to die, so that her granddaughter would still be inspired by her and travel into space. She then killed herself to the horror of the Doctor. He realised he had over stepped the mark. Fixed points were there for a reason. After feeling like a God of the universe he had been brought down several levels. It was fascinating to see the Doctor as the cause of Adelaide’s death and the scene was written so perfectly. It showed how careful the Doctor must be as he travels through time and space and I think this moment will be remembered by the Doctor for the rest of his life and even help keep himself grounded and encourage him to right his wrong.
4-Everybody Lives – The Doctor Dances – 9th Doctor
This was a turning point for the ninth Doctor. Up until this episode, the Time War cast a shadow over him. He had met Rose, the format was still the same, Doctor and companion travelling through time and space saving people. But until this episode it wasn’t quite the same. The Doctor was saving planets and defeating villains but not in his usual way. He wasn’t enjoying the victories. He paid more attention to foiling his enemy’s plans. Rose was trying her best throughout the first series to help the Doctor move on from the Time War and she finally broke through here. It was the first time we saw the ninth Doctor display elation at saving everybody’s life and his declaration that “Just this once, everybody lives” was the moment that really helped me to warm to this incarnation. He was thrilled to have saved the lives of everyone and it was a stepping stone to help him get over the loss of his own people. At this point the Doctor had accepted death happens all the time so he really welcomed a time where everybody survived. The episode was penned by Steven Moffat before he became headwriter and scenes like this are why he was such a popular choice at the time.
3- Regeneration – The Time of the Doctor – 11th Doctor
Matt Smith’s eleventh Doctor was one of the most fun to watch and I think the Doctor had the most fun being him. This really showed in his final scene in the TARDIS before regenerating. It was written stunningly well by Steven Moffat and beautifully encapsulated how the Doctor views regeneration. Before the tenth Doctor regenerated, it was the first time we’d really seen him open up to how he felt about the process throughout the show’s history. The tenth Doctor’s regeneration was focussed around how sad he was to be changing but I’ll get on to that later. Eleven’s regeneration scene is my personal favourite. He was so dignified in his exit and welcomed regeneration more than previous Doctors did. “I will always remember when the Doctor was me” was an emotional yet refreshing line as the Doctor didn’t seem particularly sad about changing. After all, he was an old man after spending hundreds of years on Trenzalore. But his attitude was the best out of all of his predecessors, as although he was clearly upset, he didn’t moan, he smiled, he was philosophical and the scene was written, acted and directed perfectly.
2- Lived Too Long – The End of Time – 10th Doctor
The tenth Doctor’s regeneration episode gets a mixed reaction from Whovians. Some adore it and some despise how drawn out it is. My favourite scene from the episode is maybe best remembered for the Doctor’s rage and his cry of “It’s not fair”. Yes that is a pivotal line. But I prefer the line “Lived too Long”. The tenth Doctor was one of the most egotistical and cocky incarnations and in no other scene was that more apparent. Still feeling arrogant from “The Waters of Mars”, the Doctor was only concerned that he survived after the Master and Rassilon were thrown back into the time lock. Then came the four knocks, one of the cleverest twists by Russell T. Davies, as it was Wilf who knocked. We then saw the Doctor’s dark and egotistical side come fully out as it was only briefly glimpsed throughout Tennant’s run. He put down Wilf cruelly, as he branded him unimportant and was fuming that after all he’d done, he the self proclaimed winner of the Time War had to die for this unimportant old man who had lived his life anyway. But then the Doctor shone through. He looked at Wilf and realised how he acted. “Lived too long” he almost apologetically uttered. It was the moment that perfectly summed up the tenth Doctor. Cocky and arrogant yes, but always putting others over himself. When he looked at Wilf and said it would be an honour to sacrifice himself for him, it was a beautiful moment and it rounded off a scene that will live long in the memory.
1 – The War Speech – The Zygon Inversion – 12th Doctor
If ever five minutes of screen time summed up the Doctor, it was this five minutes. Taking the moral high ground over humans and zygons alike, the Doctor completely owned the room as he talked both species out of a war. This scene is so powerful that it was shared widely across social media after the British government decided to bomb Syria. Not only is it an important message within the show, people who don’t like Doctor Who can learn so much from this scene. The scene has some of Peter Capaldi’s finest acting in the show and he really proved what a fantastic Doctor he is. He was cocky, he was condescending but he was passionate and he put everything he had into talking Bonnie out her plans for war. As a human watching the show, you always assume that humans will be the good guys and the aliens the enemy. But the Doctor as a Time Lord really put both races to shame. It was a magnificent speech as we saw the Doctor open up about what he’s learned from his experiences, especially the Time War. Easily one of the best moments of the modern era, it is probably one of the best of all time too. It transmitted such a crucial message and was a scene that is so thought provoking, not just in Doctor Who, but in life.