Happy Anniversary Doctor Who! The current era of the series made its debut 15 years ago, ushering in a new generation of fans and continuing the adventures for fans of the show’s original run. Doctor Who has grown from an odd time-traveling fantasy show to a global phenomenon with millions of fans, mass merchandising, conventions, and a strong social media presence.
The series has certainly become glitzier and more polished since its “Rose” days with several incarnations of The Doctor as well as a plethora of companions. But, at it’s core, Doctor Who really hasn’t changed much, especially when it comes to the main character. The Doctors all have distinct personalities (and fashion sense) but one they all can’t resist is a brilliant monologue. There’s nothing more powerful, heartbreaking, and stunning than watching The Doctor have several minutes to convey their message, express their emotions, rally the troops, or take someone to task.
There are dozens of moments to choose from but these 15 Doctor monologues are worthy of all the glory and praise.
“Rose” – Season 1, Episode 1
“Do you know like we were saying about the Earth revolving? It’s like when you’re a kid, the first time they tell you that the world’s turning and you just can’t quite believe it because everything looks like its standing still. I can feel it. The turn of the Earth, the ground beneath our feet is spinning at 1,000 miles per hour and the entire planet is hurtling around the sun at 67,000 miles an hour and I can feel it. We’re falling through space, you and me, clinging to the skin of this tiny little world and if we let go…That’s who I am. Now, forget me Rose Tyler. Go home.”
The Ninth Doctor introduced a legion of new fans to the established lore of Doctor Who. His lengthy answer to Rose’s “who are you?” question is representative of The Doctor in general – an engaging, mysterious, and otherworldly being who, like the Earth, is moving at an alarmingly fast pace through space and time while others seems to stand still. But, his warning to Rose to go home and need for distance is a direct reflection of how his incarnation had become hardened by war and the loss of his people.
“Bad Wolf” – Season 1, Episode 12
“This is what I’m going to do. I’m going to rescue her. I’m going to save Rose Tyler from the middle of the Dalek fleet and then I’m gonna save the Earth and then, just to finish off, I’m gonna wipe every last stinking Dalek out of the sky.”
Only The Doctor could face a fleet of floating Daleks with zero plan and still manage to incite fear with just a few words. This mini-speech is also a reminder to never, ever threaten to kill one of The Doctor’s beloved companions nor their home planet.
“The Parting of the Ways” – Season 1, Episode 13
“This is Emergency Programme One. Rose, now listen, this is important. If this message is activated, then it can only mean one thing. We must be in danger and I mean fatal. I’m dead or about to die any second with no chance of escape. That’s okay, hope it’s a good death. But I promised to look after you and that’s what I’m doing. The TARDIS is taking you home. And I bet you’re fussing and moaning now, typical But hold on and listen just a bit more. The TARDIS can never return for me. Emergency Programme One means I’m facing an enemy that should never get their hands on this machine.
So, this is what you should do. Let the TARDIS die. Just let this old box gather dust. No one can open it. No one will even notice it. Let it become a strange little thing standing on a street corner. Over the years, the world will move on and the box will be buried. And if you want to remember me, then you can do one thing. That’s all, one thing. Have a good life. Do that for me Rose. Have a fantastic life.”
Nine went from calling Rose another “stupid ape” to sending her to Earth in his TARDIS to protect her life. His willingness to sacrifice it all to preserve life, protect his precious TARDIS, and potentially give his life for this cause is exactly why this character is perhaps one of the greatest protagonists of all-time.
“Voyage of the Damned” – 2007 Christmas Special
“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’s going to save your lives and all 6 billion people on the planet below. You got a problem with that?”
We love to see The Doctor flex on people who doubt their ability to save the world. They have saved Earth and planets across universes time and time again, so the best thing for any random human tag-along to do it listen up, get ready to work, and always be down for running. Because there is a LOT of running.
“Gridlock” – Series 3, Episode 3
“There was a war, a Time War…the Last Great Time War. My people fought a race called the Daleks for the sake of all creation and they lost. We lost. Everyone lost. They’re all gone now…my family, my friends, even that sky. Oh, you should have seen it, that old planet. The second sun would rise in the south and the mountains would shine. The leaves on the trees were silver. When they caught the light every morning, it looked like a forest on fire. When the autumn came the breeze would blow through the branches like a song..”
This speech may not be in front of an army of aliens or a group of humans, but it certainly matters. Martha Jones finally got fed up with The Doctor’s evasiveness over his background and forced him to divulge his feelings. He finally sits down and tells her the truth about the Time War before describing the beauty of Gallifrey in great detail. It’s a somber, quiet, and beautiful Tenth Doctor moment that doesn’t get enough praise.
“The End of Time” – 2009 Christmas, 2010 New Year’s Special
“Look at you. Not remotely important. But me, I could do so much more, so much more! But this is what I get…my reward! And it’s not fair! Oh. Live too long…Wilfred, it’s my honor.”
The Doctor really enjoyed being this incarnation to the point that he was initially not down with sacrificing himself for Wilfred. Perhaps it was all the “Time Lord Victorious” stuff on top of all the messages that he would DIE die (versus regenerate) this time. He takes his anger out on a man who has become his friend before realizing that perhaps it’s a bit selfish considering that he can regenerate and Wilf cannot. The cause of his regeneration shows that every life is truly important.
“The Big Bang” – Season 5, Episode 13
“It’s funny. I thought if you could hear me, I could hang on somehow. Silly me. Silly old Doctor. When you wake up, you’ll have a mum and dad, and you won’t even remember me. Well, you’ll remember me a little. I’ll be a story in your head. But that’s okay. We’re all stories in the end. Just make it a good one, eh? Because it was, you know. It was the best. The daft old man who stole a magic box and ran away. Did I ever tell you that 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 have had. Never had. In your dreams, they’ll still be there. The Doctor and Amy Pond, and the days that never came. The cracks are closing. But they can’t close properly until I’m on the other side. I don’t belong here anymore. I think I’ll skip the rest of the rewind. I hate repeats. Live well. Love Rory. Bye bye, Pond.”
The feels abound in this one so there’s no way to leave it off this list. Eleven’s monologue to the little girl who waited features one of the most famous quotes from the current era. We are indeed all stories in the end so we should make it a good one for future generations.
“The Rings of Akhaten” – Season 7, Episode 2
“Can you hear them? All these people who lived in terror of you and your judgement? All these people whose ancestors devoted themselves, sacrificed themselves to you. Can you hear them singing? Oh, you like to think you’re a god. But 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. Take my memories. I hope you’ve got a big appetite. Because I’ve lived a long life and I’ve seen a few things. I walked away from the Last Great Time War. I marked the passing of the Time Lords. I saw the birth of the universe and I watched as time ran out moment by moment until nothing remained. No time. No Space. Just me!
I’ve walked in universes where the laws of physics were devised by the mind of a madman. I’ve watched universes freeze and creations burn. I have seen things you wouldn’t believe! I have lost things you will never understand. And I know things, secrets that must never be told, knowledge that must never be spoken, knowledge that will make parasite gods blaze. So, come on then, take it! Take it all, baby! Have it! You have it all!”
This speech has it all – villain shaming, not-so-subtle “I’m a superior being” flexing, grief, pain, and wisdom all wrapped up in a “you wanna get brawl?” package. The emotional gravitas and exceptional dialogue was delivered perfectly by the incomparable Matt Smith, who proved one again that he had the range to pull off this complex character.
“The Time of the Doctor” – 2013 Christmas Special
“We all change when you think about. We’re all different people; all through our lives that that’s okay, that’s good…you’ve gotta 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.”
Eleven’s regeneration speech is poignant, brilliant, and truly applies to our lives. Our bodies, minds, and lives are in a constant shift towards something different and, perhaps, greater. And we must keep moving forward but that doesn’t mean we have to forget where we came from and what we went through to get to our current state. Hopefully, The Doctor still remembers the glory of being Eleven because we certainly haven’t forgot it.
“The Zygon Inversion” – Season 9, Episode 8
“This is a scale model of war…every war ever fought right there in front of you. Because it’s always the same. When you fire that first shot, no matter how right you feel, you have no idea who’s going to die! You don’t know whose children are going to scream and burn! How many hearts will be broken! How many lives shattered! How much blood will spill until everybody does what they were always going to do from the very beginning – sit down and talk!
Listen to me. Listen. I just want you to think. Do you know what thinking is? It’s just a fancy word for changing your mind…Alternatively, you could step away from that box. You can walk right out of that door and you could stand your revolution down…”
Peter Capaldi’s Twelfth Doctor is undoubtedly the master of the monologue. He took Kate and Bonnie to task by setting up a table model of war to demonstrate a major point over the consequences of their actions. This speech is one of Twelve’s finest moments that demonstrates this character’s belief system and honestly should be watched by every human being on this planet.
“Death in Heaven” – Season 8, Episode 12
“I am not a good man! And I’m 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… 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…”
We think The Doctor is far from an idiot, but the rest of this monologue in response to Missy’s evil goading rings true. All they want to do is travel the universe, help out as much as possible, and spread a little love along the way.
“The Doctor Falls” – Season 10, Episode 12
“Winning? Is that what you think it’s about? I’m not trying to win. I’m not doing this because I want to beat someone or because I hate someone or because I want to blame someone. It’s not because it’s fun. God knows it’s not because it’s easy. It’s not even because it works because it hardly ever does. 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 in any of this at all but it’s the best I can do. So I’m gonna do it. And I will stand here doing it until it kills me. You’re going to die too someday. How will that be? Have you thought about it? What would you die for? Who I am is where I stand. And where I stand is where I fall. Stand with me..”
Bill’s ending may have been terrible but The Doctor’s plea to The Master and Missy is brilliant. Once again, he stays true to himself and begs them to do the right thing for once in their lives. Doing what’s right isn’t always easy and sometimes it seems pointless but we have to live with all the choices we make in life, right? Sadly, he will never know that his words had an impact on Missy.
“Demons of the Punjab” – Season 11, Episode 6
“I know there aren’t many certainties in many of our lives. But Umbreen, Prem, what I see in you is the certainty you have in each other. Something I believe in, my faith, love in all its forms is the most powerful weapon we have because love is a form of hope. And, like hope, love abides in the face of everything. You both found love with each other. You believed in it. You fought for it. And you waited for it. And now you’re committing to it, which makes you right now the two strongest people on this planet – maybe in this universe.”
The Doctor’s hopeful and sweet speech at Yaz’s grandma’s wedding is uplifting, even though the fam knows that Prem will die that same day. It’s yet another heartbreaking moment where The Doctor wishes that they could do sometime to stop something bad from happening but doing that would cause irreparable damage to the universe. Prem had to die so that Yaz could live and The Doctor, as always, had to carry on with a smile.
“The Haunting of Villa Dodati” – Season 12, Episode 8
“One death, one ripple, and history will change in a blink. The future will not be the world you know. The world you came from, the world you were created in, won’t exist. So neither will you. It’s not just his life at stake – it’s yours. You want to sacrifice yourself for this? You want me to sacrifice you? You wanna call it, do it now. All of you. Yeah, cause sometimes this team structure isn’t flat. It’s mountainous with me at the summit in the stratosphere alone. Left to choose. Save the poet. Save the universe. Watch people burn now or tomorrow. Sometimes even I can’t win.”
Sometimes, The Doctor has to remind humans that they are not in charge. Thirteen has let the fam have a lot of leeway and do things that she didn’t necessarily agree with in the past. But, in this episode, Thirteen was ready to put them in their place. She drug the fam so hard that it hurt our feelings through the TV screen and we honestly love to see it. It’s only fitting that one of the best Season 12 episodes has Thirteen’s best speech (so far).
“The Timeless Children” – Season 12, Episode 10
“You think you’ve broken me? You’ll have to try harder than that. You’ve given me a gift of myself. You think that could destroy me? You think that makes me lesser? It makes me more. I contain multitudes, more than I ever thought or knew. You want me to be scared of it because you’re scared of everything, but I am so much more than you.”
It took a while for the Thirteenth Doctor to start flexing but now she cannot be stopped. Her final monologue to The Master (for now) showed her strength, resilience, and that knowledge that was meant to break her will only make her more powerful.
Here’s to 15 years of adventure, feels, laughs, and soliloquies from our beloved Doctor. Hopefully, there will be many more seasons – and speeches – in the future.
Image Credit: James Pardon/BBC Studios/BBC America