He may have only been the Doctor for one season, but Christopher Eccleston is one of the most memorable doctors in the history of Doctor Who. While plenty of fans skip the season of the Ninth Doctor, those who have watched it relish its goofiness, its danger, and its compassion. After a lengthy break following the War Doctor’s journey and subsequent post-regeneration Time War amnesia, the Ninth Doctor represented the return to a more tolerant and forgiving figure, much of which was directly due to his involvement with his new companion, Rose Tyler.
While the Ninth Doctor was a generally affable and kind character, there were moments where he deviated from this paradigm and became a harsher version of himself, sometimes to the point of a sinister aggression and intolerance for those who refused to listen to him. This not only gave the show multiple layers upon which to rebuild itself, but also set the stage for the Tenth Doctor’s demand for obedience. Sometimes silly, sometimes downright disturbing, here are the 15 Most WTF Ninth Doctor Moments.
15. Giving Jabe Air From His Lungs
During their first venture into outer space, the Ninth Doctor took Rose Tyler on an adventure to the end of the world. Literally. They visited Platform One to watch the destruction of the Earth in the year 5,000,000,000 where they met Jabe, the representative of the Forest of Cheem. As messed up as watching the Earth be destroyed on your first trip to outer space was for Rose Tyler (more about that later), another weird moment occurred between Jabe and the Doctor himself.
Each being visiting the Platform was instructed to bestow gifts upon one another in a gesture of peace. Jabe, as a tree-like individual, gave the Doctor a cutting of her grandfather as her gift. Caught off-guard without a gift, the Doctor breathed into the woman’s face and announced that his gift was air from his own lungs. The odd moment became a sexually charged one followed by lots of flirting between the two. Sadly, as interesting as she was, Jabe came to an unfortunate end, but again, we’ll revisit that later.
14. Telling Empty Children To Go To Their Rooms
It was one of the creepiest moments of the season with a surprisingly light twist at the end. Episodes 9 and 10 of series 1 dealt with a young child wearing a gas mask that gave plenty of viewers a shiver or two. Known as the Empty Child, he forlornly wandered the streets of London asking for his mother. Most Doctor Who fans can identify each other with a simple, single phrase: “Are you my mummy?” What made this poor child extra creepy was the fact that if he touched a person, he or she would grow a gas mask on his or her face and turn into another Empty Child.
In a moment of desperation when a room full of Empty Children approached him, Rose, and Jack Harkness, the Doctor shouted, “Go to your room! I mean it. I am very, very angry with you. I’m very, very cross. Go… To… Your… Room!” The ploy worked, diverting the attention of the Forgotten People, which was quite fortunate for the Doctor, who admitted that “those would have been terrible last words.”
13. Letting Adam Roam Around Satellite 5 Unsupervised
Along their adventures, the Doctor and Rose met a charming young man called Adam who wished to travel with them. Writers have admitted that Adam, who comes from the 21st century, was created in order to show what happens when the Doctor picks up a terrible companion who abuses time traveling. He is Goofus to Rose’s Gallant; Bad Idea to her Good Idea.
The trio traveled to Satellite Five in the episode, “The Long Game,” and Adam reacted to the culture shock in the worst way. He attempts to steal the information in the universe, allowing the people on the space station to install a computer interface port on his head to read the information he sent to himself back home on an answering machine.
Not only did the Doctor take Adam through time and space only to leave him unsupervised long enough to get into trouble, but he also sent him home with his disturbing new modification and a destroyed answering machine, ruining his life. Although fans speculated about what happened to Adam afterward, they were surprised to find him as a villain in the Doctor Who 2013 comic, Prisoners of Time.
12. Rose Tyler Meets Her Dead Dad
When Rose first met the Doctor, he told her that traveling back within her own timeline was ill-advised. When his beloved companion begged him to take her into her own past to see her deceased father who died when she was an infant, he just had to acquiesce to her request, but at what cost?
The Doctor was so angry at the outcome of his decision that he treated Rose pretty harshly, even saying, “I picked up another stupid ape!” You really have to admit that Rose sort of deserved it, since she not only jumped in to save her father’s life but disrupted the time-space continuum so badly that reapers hungrily leaped at the opportunity to erase history in its entirety. What’s even more messed up is that Rose gets to see her father’s story change from accidental homicide to suicide in order to change history back to normal.
11. Watching Earth Blow Up On Platform One
Being offered all of time and space at your fingertips is one thing, but when that offer includes witnessing the death of your own planet, you have to wonder what kind of gift it was in the first place. As was mentioned earlier, during the second episode of series 1, aptly titled “The End of the World”, the Doctor and Rose travel to the space station known as Platform 1 to witness the destruction of Earth in the year 5 billion. Yes, the gift of air from the Doctor’s lungs was weird, but seeing our planet blow up was completely messed up. Anyone could feel pain witnessing that, even if we knew all along it was fake.
As jovial as the Doctor seemed as he showed Rose this pivotal moment in time and space, he almost seemed oblivious to what it might mean to an actual human. It had to be even more surreal for Rose to see as an observer and not a participant.
10. The Slitheen Mayor
The Slitheen. Where to begin? They’re sort of like the the cockroach-ish Bug beings in Men in Black, only instead of human-wearing insects, they are human-wearing blobs. Instead of looking disgusting and leaking nasty bugs wherever they go, the Slitheen people emit loud, obnoxious gas due to the pressure they feel within their human suits. To relieve this pressure, they unzip their human foreheads and slip out of the host bodies of the humans they’ve murdered to take a break every now and then. The cool thing about the Slitheen is their body positivity. You have to appreciate how much they love and admire their enormous, blobby bodies.
What’s even more messed up than the Slitheen’s strange habits is the fact that they came to London in episode four (“Aliens of London”), took over the government, and nearly got away with it. Even after the Doctor and Rose stopped them (with the help of Mickey Smith, Rose’s mom Jackie, and soon-to-be Prime Minister Harriet Jones), one sneaky Slitheen still managed to run the city months later. The Doctor even gave her a second chance instead of sentencing her to death as she had done to her human host. He felt sorry for her because she was lonely and missed the rest of her species. Ring any bells?
9. Nanogenes Curing People By Adding Gas Masks
One of the best “Gotcha!” moments occurred during episode 10, “The Doctor Dances.” The episode is the continuation of the previous episode, “The Empty Child,” which was mentioned earlier and featured the child who had the Gas Touch, which is like the Cheese Touch, only it turns you into a creepy, gas mask-faced zombie instead of an ostracized Middle Schooler.
Instead of everything ending in horrible death as is wont to happen on Doctor Who, however, there was a huge surprise: the gas mask was the work of a healer. The nanogenes that hitched a ride to Earth via Captain Jack Harkness took one look at the injured child and assumed the mask was part of the makeup of a generic human. Once they had the profile, the nanogenes molded every human they touched into a mask-wearing being because they assumed it was what humans looked like!
8. Ripping Off Mickey’s Head In Front Of Rose Tyler
Out of all the crazy things the ninth doctor does in front of Rose, tearing off her boyfriend’s head shortly after making her acquaintance is definitely among the top 10 most insane. Granted, it wasn’t really Mickey in front of her but a plastic copy of her boyfriend that sought to kill the Doctor. It is by far one of the smallest moments of the episode, let alone the series, but it’s still a pretty memorable moment. Given how most people who are copied fare in Doctor Who, Mickey ended up a pretty lucky man. Even so, plastic or not, you remember the first time you see your boyfriend’s head torn off.
Seeing how Rose took Mickey’s apparent demise may have helped the Doctor choose her as a new companion, but it was her ability to think in the face of danger and save him that ultimately led the ninth doctor to choose her to be by his side for the rest of the season.
7. The Doctor Faces The Last Dalek And Realizes That He Is Just As Bad As The Daleks
Episode six, “Dalek”, was a game changer for Christopher Eccleston’s Doctor. When faced with what seems to be the last of the Daleks (“HA!” say fans who are caught up on the show everywhere), the Doctor becomes a vengeful, murderous man who is bent on nothing but revenge against the alien– especially when it seems as if the creature has already killed Rose Tyler.
Throughout the episode, however, Rose not only teaches the Dalek a bit of compassion (an incredible feat that no one could have predicted), but the Doctor as well. Granted, the Dalek absorbed some of Rose’s DNA when she touched it, which gave her a connection with the creature, but it was still a pivotal show point that allowed to the Doctor to take a good look at himself and realize that, in this bloodthirsty form at least, he was no better than the Dalek.
6. Reapers Eating Everybody
Part pterodactyl, part bat, part mouth-belly, the reapers had to have been directly out of someone on the staff of Doctor Who’s nightmares. These beasts unleashed themselves upon Earth when Rose Tyler stopped the death of her father and damaged the space-time continuum. Their purpose was to heal the rift created by eating up all of the time and space within it, creating a neat little stitch over the wound. Of course, that meant eating everything and everyone, including the Doctor and Rose.
It’s a ravenous universe, but this was the first time we really witnessed so many humans being murdered by aliens– and not just murdered, but eaten— in this series. As far as jaw-dropping moments go, if the ninth doctor was your first, your jaw may have very well hit the floor.
5. Letting People Die For Him
One of the most common and valid criticisms against the Doctor is that he frequently allows, and sometimes even encourages, people to die for him. Okay, usually it’s for a good cause like saving the entire world, but someone with that much knowledge and power should have a better grasp on when sacrifices are warranted or not. The Doctor usually finding ways to rescue his companions within a hair’s thickness of death, yet everyone else is left for dead.
From Jabe’s terribly sad death by fire during a sacrificial gesture to his horrible advice to Gwynneth to sacrifice herself for the Gelth in episode three, “The Unquiet Dead”, dozens of people have died for the Doctor. Sure, it was their own choice, but you have to wonder if each death could have been prevented. Even Jack Harkness, one of the Doctor’s companions, died protecting him, though Rose was able to bring him back to life later.
4. Cassandra, The Last Human
“Moisturize me!” Squeal these words at any comic convention and the Whovians will flash you a knowing smile if they don’t laugh out loud. Cassandra is one of the most memorable characters ever created on the show– so memorable, in fact, that the Doctor had a heck of a time dealing with her. While he believed her to be dead, she was flourishing elsewhere, biding her time to give him yet another round of trouble as soon as the opportunity presented itself.
Cassandra was the last human living in the year 5,000,000,000, but she was far removed from her human form. After centuries of plastic surgery, all that really remained of the once beautiful woman was her tightly-stretched skin, which constantly asked for more moisturizing. A villainous train wreck each time we meet her, she’s just a character you can’t hate because she’s too much fun to watch and mimic.
3. The Weakest Link
The fact that Doctor Who spoofed the game show The Weakest Link during a special is not a big surprise. Pop culture often finds its way onto the set of the show; in fact, the show is one of the most amusing ways to chart the progression of the cell phone. The fact that “The Weakest Link” on the show was quite deadlier than the real-life version, and that the contestants died if they missed a question, should not have surprised anyone by the seventh episode, either, longtime fan or not.
No, the huge surprise during the game show in the episode “The Long Game” was simply that contestants did not die, but were transported to the Dalek empire instead. It was a total red herring on the writers’ part, and they had most of us completely fooled– at least this time.
2. The Jagrafess And Frozen Computer People
In the episode “The Long Game”, there is plenty of nightmare fodder to enjoy. There were the portals that open in the middle of your head and that weird game show, but the most disturbing concepts of all were the rooms full of dead and dying frozen people who serve The Editor and a monstrous alien that makes everything from the Slitheen to the Judoon look normal: the Jagrafess.
It’s the Mighty Jagrafess of the Holy Hadrojassic Maxarodenfoe, to be exact, and it’s got the worst teeth, complexion, and disposition of any being in the Whoniverse. The terrifying creature instructs the Editor to use the freezing humans to help control the news and media, thereby controlling the population of Satellite 5.
The Jagrafess is ultimately destroyed by something as simple as overheating, which just illustrates one of the most common themes in Doctor Who: using something incredibly mundane to save the day.
1. Rose Tyler Absorbs The Time Vortex
Remember back when Rose indicated that she was game for any plan the Doctor had in mind in order to save the world in episode four, “Aliens of London”? The final episode with the ninth doctor builds upon that plot point, as many of the show’s stories do, and uses Rose’s compassion and love for the Doctor in a selfless act that was meant to be her own but ended up belonging to the Doctor himself instead.
Although he tricked Rose into entering the TARDIS in order to save her life while he fired a Delta Wave at the Dalek empire, the Doctor had no idea that Rose would open the TARDIS and absorb the entire time vortex in order to save him and everyone else.While she was able to destroy the Daleks (at least for the time being) and revive Jack Harkness (possibly to the point of being immortal– or even the Face of Boe, according to some fan theories), Rose never imagined that her Doctor would take all of that power from her, die, and regenerate into a completely new Doctor, let alone one she could still love forever.
Did we miss any weird moments of Doctor Who‘s Ninth incarnation? Let us know in the comments!