The Doctor in ‘Doctor Who’ Isn’t Really a Pacifist-Here’s Why

The Doctor is the protagonist of Doctor Who. This character travels time and space in a ship called the TARDIS, usually with a companion or more. The Doctor helps humanity fight alien threats. Yet sometimes they save aliens from humans.

Given all of this, it would seem that the character of The Doctor would be a pacifist. And indeed the protagonist does consider themself one. Whether The Doctor is actually a pacifist, however, is another story.

Why is The Doctor in ‘Doctor Who’ often considered a pacifist?

Jodie Whittaker (The Thirteenth Doctor) from Doctor Who
Jodie Whittaker at the Doctor Who panel at New York Comic Con 2018 | Andrew Toth/Getty Images for New York Comic Con

It is true that The Doctor often tries to get out of situations without using violence. However, the character does not always live by their own code. There are certain times, throughout Doctor Who‘s long history, when The Doctor uses violence to solve problems.

So why is The Doctor often considered a pacifist if they’re not really one? Well, it’s all because of what the show is meant to do. The Doctor is meant to exemplify the best of humanity and therefore inspire viewers to do what is right in their own lives. The Doctor is meant to provide fans with a blueprint of how to act.

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They are meant to show humanity how to respond to people in need. The Doctor’s companions are also there as examples for fans. These characters help the Doctor decide what to do and help them in their quest to help others. They all work in sync to promote goodwill.

At least, most of the time. There are those times when the protagonist doesn’t live by their own code, however. And these situations are perhaps more numerous than they should be.

When is the main character not a pacifist?

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This lack of pacifism goes all the way back to the beginning of the show. The First Doctor, in his very first story, tries to kill a caveman before one of his companions stops him. Other examples of the First Doctor’s lack of pacifism include, according to Screen Rant, “beating people with his cane, hitting a prone, defenseless Frenchman with a spade, and inciting the Thals to go to war with the Daleks.”

One could argue that the Doctor’s character hadn’t been fully formed at the beginning of the show, and therefore the First Doctor was not a pacifist. However, this pattern continued throughout the classic show, appearing in Doctors Two through Seven as well. With the new show, the pattern continues as well, especially with the Ninth, Tenth, and Eleventh Doctors.

For example, the Tenth Doctor devised a pretty intense punishment for some of his alien foes. Their punishments included being turned into a scarecrow, trapped in a mirror, and sent into an event horizon. These examples seem to suggest that from the beginning the character was not entirely a pacifist. Yet, as we’ve explained, The Doctor’s pacifism is part of the show. Why, some fans may wonder, is the main character so contradictory?

Is the protagonist a pacifist or not?

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No, the titular Time Lord is not entirely a pacifist. Yet in the end, that’s sort of a good thing. This way, the show portrays a character who is striving towards pacifism. That is not only more realistic but is even more inspiring for the audience.

If even the hero of the story struggles sometimes then it’s ok to struggle. However, as the protagonist teaches many fans, don’t give up. Keep striving for better, and one day you just might reach it.