‘Doctor Who’ is that one show everyone recommends whenever you ask where you should start if you want to get into science fiction. If you want to know what the show is about and what makes it good before committing to it, we decided to create this list so you get an honest opinion on why ‘Doctor Who’ has been one of the most popular and best science-fiction shows ever. Let’s dive in.
1. The Doctor himself
The first reason is The Doctor himself. Unlike many modern main characters in the media, The Doctor stands out due to his personality and backstory. As the last of the Time Lords, he travels through time and space, offering assistance to anyone in need.
The Doctor deviates from the conventional science fiction protagonist by forgoing weapons and relying on wit and peaceful problem-solving. His iconic sonic screwdriver and psychic paper are legendary tools that add depth to his character.
In addition to these gadgets, The Doctor possesses the TARDIS, a Time Lord machine that enables time and space travel. Disguised as a blue telephone box, the TARDIS is bigger on the inside and has become a pop culture symbol.
Despite his generally virtuous character, The Doctor exhibits flaws and darker moments, reflecting a nuanced personality. His occasional fear of his own power adds a human dimension to his character, which is further enriched by his tragic backstory and war-torn past.
The Doctor’s incredible power and reputation as a savior of the universe make him feared by enemies. His unwavering commitment to helping others often leads him to make self-sacrifices, such as imprisoning himself to save the universe when the TARDIS becomes trapped in a time loop. This multifaceted portrayal of The Doctor is what makes ‘Doctor Who’ such an iconic and enduring series.
2. The Villains are amazing
‘Doctor Who’ has an impressive gallery of villains, thanks to The Doctor’s over 2000 years of time and space travel. Iconic adversaries include the Daleks, Cybermen, Weeping Angels, and the Master. The show’s brilliance lies in creating natural conflicts between The Doctor and these villains.
The relationship between The Doctor and the Master, both Time Lords and former friends, is particularly dynamic, as they share similarities yet hold opposing beliefs. The portrayal of the Master by Michelle Gomez adds depth to their complicated relationship, with Missy eventually switching sides to help The Doctor, leading to a dramatic showdown.
3. Doctor Who has the most recognizable companions in fiction
While The Doctor claims to prefer solo travel, the show has featured numerous companions over the years. This dynamic adds depth to the character, with companions regularly changing to fit the current Doctor.
Memorable companions include aliens, humans, and even a robotic dog with its own spin-off. Companions provide versatility to the show’s episodes, enhancing specific genres, such as Donna Noble’s humor and bonding with the Doctor or Rose’s emotional connection, creating a well-rounded character and grounding The Doctor in his mission.
4. The show is funny
While “Doctor Who” may seem like a serious show at first, humor has been an integral part of the character from its early days. In the modern iterations, humor remains central, with each regenerated Doctor infusing their unique comedic style. This humor humanizes The Doctor, balancing snarky remarks and displays of power, making the alien character feel more relatable and beloved. Additionally, the show’s ability to reference its extensive history adds humor and serves as a subtle nod to long-time fans.
5. It has unlimited exploration of time and space
The flexibility of ‘Doctor Who’s’ plot, with its ability to occur anywhere and at any time, promises one interesting show. Episodes typically fall into two categories: historical events with a twist or settings that may not even exist. Historical episodes, such as those featuring Winston Churchill or Queen Elizabeth I, provide entertaining twists on familiar events, offering additional information or alternative explanations. Meanwhile, episodes set in unfamiliar or fictional locations allow the writers to introduce captivating and imaginative elements, contributing to the show’s enduring popularity and loyal fan base.
6. The idea of regeneration
Introducing the concept of regeneration in ‘Doctor Who’ was initially seen as a risky move, but it turned out to be a genius innovation that set the show apart. This mechanism allowed the show to remain fresh and exciting over the long run. While the show’s premise remained consistent, the ability of the main character to change through regeneration gave fans something to look forward to.
The episodic nature of the show, with most plot points resolved within a single episode, could have made it repetitive. However, regeneration provided a means to introduce new dynamics and explore different facets of the Doctor’s personality. For example, the War Doctor storyline delved into the Doctor’s struggle with the moral consequences of his actions, such as destroying two species in the pursuit of peace.
7. ‘Doctor Who’ is the definition of genre-bending
The show is primarily centered around the science fiction concept of time travel but frequently incorporates elements from various genres. The show introduces numerous villains that add horror moments, with Weeping Angels and The Silence being standout examples, even though The Doctor often outwits them. Certain characters, like Mickey Tyler and the Ninth Doctor, bring humor to the series regardless of the situation.
Amidst the diverse themes, the show also delivers poignant emotional moments, emphasizing the message that everyone is special. A memorable example of this is when The Doctor brings Vincent van Gogh to the present-day Louvre and asks a curator to rank van Gogh among other great artists, conveying a powerful message about the value of individuals and their contributions.
8. It has plenty of heart breaking moments
The show may have its share of silliness, but it also delivers emotionally impactful moments thanks to excellent writing and performances. The Doctor’s self-assigned purpose often leads to moments of sacrifice, with one of the most memorable being the tenth Doctor’s regeneration scene.
Despite David Tennant’s memorable run as the Doctor, it’s his final words that stand out. These emotional moments are recurring, as the Doctor’s immortality leads to losses and separations from companions, often followed by self-imposed exile until a new companion enters the Doctor’s life.
9. It keeps the writing fresh
‘Doctor Who’ is generally well-written, with occasional missteps, offering a blend of science fiction and genre experimentation. The show seamlessly incorporates different genres, occasionally delving into horror elements. Despite the Doctor’s seemingly mild-mannered personality, the series is action-packed, maintaining a dynamic atmosphere.
Given the show’s longevity, the writers demonstrate a level of self-awareness. Characters are crafted to interact and deepen the existing cast, with villains often leading to direct conflicts with the Doctor. Memorable moments include the twelfth Doctor’s powerful monologue when conversing with Davros before his death and the eleventh Doctor’s debut episode, where he fiercely defends Earth.
10. It has superb acting
Acting plays a crucial role in the success of a show, and ‘Doctor Who’ benefits from consistently well-cast actors who make the series believable. The right casting choices are essential to ensure that emotional moments land effectively rather than coming off as cheesy.
The Doctor’s character, with its inherent quirkiness, demands skilled actors who can fully embody the role as envisioned by the writers. The show has also featured beloved actors like David Tennant and included notable guest appearances by actors such as Karen Gillan, Catherine Tate, John Simm, Maisie Williams, and Michael Gambon, becoming a tradition to bring in popular actors for cameo roles in each season.
And that’s it, our ten reasons why Doctor Who is still so popular. If you have something else to add to the list, let us know in the comments below!