It’s a common belief among the Doctor Who fans I interact with that the first Doctor you encounter tends to be your favorite.  This explains my great fondness for the Fifth Doctor, the incumbent when I began watching the show in the early 80s, as well as my daughter’s crush on Matt Smith, whom she calls “the one with the silly eighties hair.”  Over the last decade or so, though, my love for Five has been joined by a broadening appreciation of his successor, The Sixth Doctor, a character that got the shaft for a number of creator-driven reasons, and whose tenure was cut short by executive meddling.  While Five will always be ‘My Doctor,’ I admire the underdog tenacity of Six, and have even begun to appreciate the reasoning behind his costume, a visual cue to the chaos of this Doctor’s psychological workings.

The MS-QOTD (pronounced, as always, “misquoted”) reverses the polarity of the neutron flow, asking:  Which incarnation of the Doctor is the most underrated?


About Author

Once upon a time, there was a young nerd from the Midwest, who loved Matter-Eater Lad and the McKenzie Brothers... If pop culture were a maze, Matthew would be the Minotaur at its center. Were it a mall, he'd be the Food Court. Were it a parking lot, he’d be the distant Cart Corral where the weird kids gather to smoke, but that’s not important right now... Matthew enjoys body surfing (so long as the bodies are fresh), writing in the third person, and dark-eyed women. Amongst his weaponry are such diverse elements as: Fear! Surprise! Ruthless efficiency! An almost fanatical devotion to pop culture! And a nice red uniform.


  1. The Seventh (who also happens to be my favorite). He seemed the most enigmatic – he always seemed to have an angle & stake in every stop they made, sometimes to a sinister level (him with the Silver Nemesis is downright unnerving). But between an overemphasis on his companions (Ace predates Rose for ridiculous authorial love), the unfortunately blah look (although I’d argue it’s more colorful than any modern Doctor’s costume), and the relatively short tenure, poor Sylvester McCoy gets the brush off.

  2. Yeah, Seven kind of got hosed. I have to say that I really admire Sylvester’s commitment to come back half a decade later and do a regeneration scene to properly get things off the ground for the 1996 Fox telemovie (clusterschmozz though it was.)

    That means, however, that in terms of actual our-world time, Seven is technically the longest-serving Doctor, with an 11-year run tied by Eight. Of course, many of those adventures are lost to time, but it’s fun to imagine them anyway…

  3. In keeping with Dr. Who(m) lore my favorite has always been #4, Tom Baker. I could never get used to 5, as I could still see him with Robert Hardy in “All Creatures Great and Small”. In fact I had a tough time accepting Hardy as “Minister of Magic” later for the same reason. I kept expecting them to whip out a stethescope whenever an animal appeared. I did like 6 as well, mainly for his coat. As far as executive meddling that almost always happens with really brilliant people like John Kricfalusi, Joss Whedon, Orson Welles, and Terry Gilliam, for example. Its usually a sign they are doing something right when execs get all over them. Its a shame, because they almost never get the recognition they deserve until long after the fact (if at all).

    • I remember watching A Very Peculiar Practice because bits of it were funny and it had Doctor Who in it. I’m sure most of it must have gone straight over my head! As nothing compared to Tom Baker’s turn in The Lives And Loves Of A She-Devil, mind you.

  4. I vote the 9th Doctor – he had only one season, but he had to reboot the franchise, brought a dark, updated edge to the character, and get fans past the love fest for Tom Baker and earlier, not to mention being overshadowed by David Tennant’s wonderful portrayal.

  5. All of the Doctors from “The Curse of Fatal Death”. While a parody, I’m surprised how many fans I speak to that haven’t seen or heard of it. And not only did it have some decent actors, it was written by Steven Moffat.

    But otherwise I agree about Seven as already stated above by Mela and Matthew.

  6. “These shoes!”

    I like to think that the most underrated Doctor is the one with the least amount of screen time: The 8th Doctor portrayed by Paul McGann. His movie might have been less than satisfactory, but you cannot lay the blame for that at Paul McGann’s acting and interpretation of the character. The story left me disappointed, but Paul McGann’s doctor was fantastic. (I also liked his sonic screwdriver, a return to the forsaken miracle device.)

    It seems obvious that the Doctor that is the least known about by the casual fans at large, having only the TV movie (which modern fans may or may not have seen) would be the most underrated, but there is actually much more to him! His screen time is short, however in other media; novels, audio dramas, and such, he is much more prevalent and popular.

    It is even reported that the reason for the 9th Doctor’s short hair and leather coat were because of Paul McGann suggestion for that as his costume in the 8th Doctor’s TV Movie. He wore a wig for the role which was reportedly uncomfortable and his request was denied by studio execs, but later thought to be a good idea when Eccleston came around.

    • I personally liked McGann’s take on the Doctor, even if the rest of the movie was pretty sub-par. I still hope that if they ever make a new “The (number) Doctors” sort of special that he’ll be one of the returning Doctors just so we can have a little more screen time with him.

      • You’re generous with “sub-par”, They took an institution like Dr. Who an turned into an 80’s tv washout hero, see Automan, Exoman, Manimal etc. I think we were the reason the BBC cancelled Dr. Who.
        That movie still crosses my eyes.

  7. Until fairly recently I would have said Patrick Troughton/Two, who I get the impression was renowned mainly as a Doctor’s Doctor, but I’ve heard more widespread appreciation expressed for him and his take on the character in the last couple of years than I have in all the time I’ve followed Doctor Who. Then again maybe I’ve just been listening to the fandom more. Either way it’s put a smile on my face to see him come (back?) into fashion, and definitely made me look at him in a different way.

    I never imagined that there could be people out there who didn’t like Jon Pertwee/Three. Quite apart from the onscreen cape-twirling, karate-chopping, Bessie-racing action, it’s just such a classic period of the show with The Brig, UNIT and The Master all there during The Doctor’s exile on Earth. Of course, I experienced most of his stories in random order through the Target novelisations, mixed in with other Doctors adventures. I imagine if I’d been alive and watching at the time, I would have raged against “not another energy crisis+Master+MotW+Earth plot” with the best of them. I wonder if Three doesn’t get enough individual love because he’s tied so closely to the trappings of his era, moreso even than e.g. Ten(nant) is to the emblems of RTD’s reign. Hell, I’m under-rating Three myself right now! Jon Pertwee and his Doctor are brilliant, and I forgot to mention that up front. Brilliant and (currently) underrated.

    Hope that answer’s not too “My favourite Doctor is OBVIOUSLY the underrated one”.

  8. Rocket Rooster on

    I was stationed in England at the time when 4 became 5. Oh, I was familiar with Baker but had seen only a fraction of his episodes back in the States. So, 5 became – and still is – ‘my’ Doctor. It reminded me of when Connery left Bond and Lazenby took over. Such big shoes to fill and I followed every episode and was stunned when Adric died, and all the Companion and Doctor in-fighting almost reflecting fandom’s struggle with the transition from such a beloved (Baker) version to this ‘kid’. When 5 regenerated, I went with him.

    Only now, with ‘new’ Who, I found myself staying on after each regeneration. Been hooked ever since 9.

  9. Poor Colin Baker. I loved his portrayal of the doctor, and how many doctors almost kill (strangle) a companion (Peri). He was wonderfully arrogant and very eccentric, the best trappings for most incarnations of the doctor.

  10. I say both Sixth, Seventh, Eighth and Ninth. All four got hosed, and 8th was only on screen for an American movie while 9th and 6th had short season(s). I miss Eccleston’s Doctor (as he was actually technically my “first Doctor”) and find it fascinating that 8th was actually the personality for the longest time (via books). I think that I’m actually one of the few fans that like ALL of the Doctors’ personalities and actors.

    • You’re such a suck-up! But I guess I am too, since I may dislike aspects of certain Doctors, I can’t imagine not having any of them in the ever-growing tapestry of The Doctor’s story. This even includes alternates (Shalka Doctor) and possible future versions (The Valeyard).

  11. I think I liked Perri more than I did Colin Baker’s Dr. In the modern era I like Eccleston but I grew up on Baker and Jell Babies.

  12. I think Eccleston (9) is really underrated. He’s not ‘my doctor’ but he’s definitely key to the whole modern Doctor sensibility. Has been over shadowed by more dynamic 10 & 11? Yes, but he deserves props for doing the Doctor his way. He had an authority from the beginning that it took Tennant two seasons to get the hang of.

    Then I’d say the original Doctor. I think he’s hilarious, but no one seems to give him much thought these days.

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