The Doctor, Destroyer of Lives

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Ever since the beginning of the Doctor Who reboot, the Doctor has been destroying the lives of his companions.

When he took Rose away, he didn’t return her home until six months later, utterly disrupting her life. Traveling with the Doctor ruined Rose’s relationship with Mickey, whom she had really loved before. And in the end, Rose’s relationship with the Doctor actually cost her and her family their world, as they found themselves living in an alternate version of earth.

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Martha’s family was captured and tortured by the Master for years. In season four, it was revealed that the Doctor had “turned her into a soldier.” She became a woman who would destroy the world.

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Donna’s memory was destroyed, her character re-written.

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And the Doctor ruined Amy. That’s how it was written: he met a beautiful, brilliant little girl, and by failing her he turned her into a stripper with acres of psychological problems.

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River’s life was both ruled by and destroyed by the Doctor. Her presence in his life never threatened to tear its overall fabric apart, but his presence in her life was how she defined her life. Her career, her skills, her hopes and dreams: they were all formed by her relationship with the Doctor.

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People have been talking a lot about how Clara’s backstory is under-developed, while her mystery is over-developed. I think there’s some merit in that argument, but I also think I know now why the writers have made the decisions they made about her backstory.

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We found out at the end of “The Crimson Horror” that Clara has kept her nanny job. The kids just thought the Doctor was her boyfriend until they found the pictures. Clara can come home, fix her hair, and walk right back into her life. The Doctor has simply added to her life, not destroyed or disrupted it. He still hasn’t taken over her life, as he did with other companions.

But strangely enough, I think she may have taken over his life. Ever since the Snowmen, his travels in time have been solely based on finding her, or finding out more about her. In a funny way, Clara has destroyed his life. But the life he had before her wasn’t really worth living, was it?

The traditional companion-Doctor effect is being inverted with Clara and the Doctor. If anything, she’s ruining his life. He left his cloud behind because of the effect she had on him, he went running through space and time solely to find her again. And let’s be honest: she’s definitely a threat to his marriage.

Related Post:

Is the Doctor a god?

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8 thoughts on “The Doctor, Destroyer of Lives

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  4. I’ve got some issues with what you’ve said here. First, just a note: in season one, The Doctor returned Rose home 12 months, not 6 months, later. Also, I don’t think Amy was a stripper…just a “kiss-o-gram”.

    You’re trying to make the point that Clara is ‘ruining’ the Doctor’s life, as opposed to him ruining the lives of all companions previous to Clara…I do understand what you’re saying, I just think the argument phrased this way conveniently forgets that every single companion (even Clara, however limited the capacity) chooses to travel with the Doctor. He does not force himself on them. Actually, there are several occasions when the reverse happens: the companions force themselves on him, i.e. Rose anytime the Doctor sends her away, the set up for Donna’s entire season, Amy running away from her wedding and to the Doctor… I’d also like to mention my highest respect for Martha, the only New Who companion to walk away by her own choice. She had some issues, sure, but she walked away back into her real life and continued on no worse for the wear. I don’t think she was ruined. You could say the Doctor ruined his companions’ lives, but I think that’s an oversimplification and a tendency to take the Doctor’s self-pity attitude. I think the good that the companions learn during TARDIS travel outweighs the bad.

    I’m one of those people that’s been frustrated with the lack of character development in Clara. Ok, she’s mysterious and now we know she’s not living full time on the TARDIS. Great. What else? It’s taken us half a season to get here, while we knew this level of information and more about Victorian-nanny-Clara in a single Christmas special. There’s something wrong with the pace of the over-arcing plot, in my opinion.

    That aside, I don’t like the phrasing of Clara ‘ruining’ the Doctor’s life. During the Snowmen, I think she saved him, she gave him something to live for. Your way and my way have different connotations.

    Sorry about the novel! I was trying to be concise, but I’m not sure it worked- I hope I made my point- I don’t think you’re wrong exactly, I just have an issue with the wording and maybe a little with the foundation examples.

    • I actually thought it was heavily implied that she was a stripper–the comments about “going places and kissing people,” but that seemed open to interpretation.

      You’re definitely right about the companions all choosing to go with him, all wanting to travel with him. I just think that (in New Who at least), the consequences for Companion’s lives have all been pretty negative. They wouldn’t trade traveling with the Doctor for anything, but their lives and futures are destroyed by their time with him. Like with Sarah Jane Smith in her first appearance: no one can just go back to their life after the Doctor.

      As far as the “ruined” phrasing goes, I didn’t actually say that the Doctor “ruined” anyone but Amy. I said “if anything, Clara ruined his life.” I totally understand what you mean by the phrasing: what I’m trying to express is that the Doctor’s presence tears his companions lives apart, and what gets put back together after he’s gone has a very different (and often worse) shape.

      The inversion I’m trying to pick out about the Doctor and Clara’s relationship is that she’s come into his life and torn it apart. What she “ruined” was a life that wasn’t worth living, isolated, on a cloud fiddling with the TARDIS. What he’s put back together, with her at the center, is a much better life.

      I do agree that they could have written in her backstory better. I love her personality, but the blockbuster format means we rarely get a look at anything but one-shot adventures. Hopefully something that will be corrected next year.

      Thanks so much for reading!

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