Before going into my list, I have to note that I love all of the incarnations of The Doctor. When I list The Third Doctor as my least favorite (sorry, OZ
), it's not because I don't like him, it's just I love all of the other Doctors more.
Additionally, I have to note that I'm basing my placements on both the series and the Big Finish audio plays, which greatly affects my placements of The Eighth and Sixth Doctors.
1. Tom Baker as The Fourth Doctor. No matter how great any present or future incarnation is, The Fourth Doctor will always be my Doctor. I grew up on him and his adventures with Leela, Romana, and Sarah Jane and had a huge impact on my childhood. My earliest childhood memories are of such moments as The Fourth Doctor and Leela wandering the brick corridors of the TARDIS in The Invasion of Time
, The Nucleus slowly growing into macro size in The Invisible Enemy
, the glowing Rutan climbing up the stairs in the lighthouse in Horror of Fang Rock
, and The Doctor discovering a giant-size sculpture of his face on the mountainside in The Face of Evil
. Whether he's zany or darkly serious or some weird medium in between, nothing brings greater joy to me than The Fourth Doctor. I'm simply thrilled that Tom Baker has finally decided to give Big Finish a shot and is recording wonderful new adventures with Leela and Romana (but sadly no Sarah Jane).
2. Patrick Troughton as The Second Doctor. While I didn't see a single Second Doctor serial until I was high school, I immediately fell in love with him when I started watching his serials. The War Games
remains one of my favorite Doctor Who stories despite it's incredible length. Patrick Troughton brought such incredible zeal and intelligence into the role that even when he was clowning around, you knew you could trust The Second Doctor to save the day no matter the odds. The Second Doctor, Jamie, and Zoe remains one of the finest TARDIS teams to date because of the wonderful rapport and friendship Troughton, Frazer Hines, and Wendy Padbury had on and off the set. Like others have already said, I'm truly saddened that Troughton is no longer he with us to celebrate the show's 50th anniversary.
3. Matt Smith as The Eleventh Doctor. It should be no surprise that The Eleventh Doctor ranks this high because he's a marvelous combination of both The Fourth and Second Doctors. Whether he's embedded with a great sense of zaniness or driven with an incredible passion to discover answers, The Eleventh Doctor often has an outward appearance of just stumbling along wherever he goes like nothing matters (when, of course, the opposite is true). Above all else, The Eleventh Doctor cares more than any of his previous incarnations have, or at least, shows it more than any of them. This is the incarnation who constantly wears his heart on his sleeve and is better for it. He's driven more than any previous incarnation to do what needs to be done for the sake of his companions, even if that might hurt them in the end.
4. Paul McGann as The Eighth Doctor. It is a great and terrible tragedy that Paul McGann's sole contribution to Doctor Who
onscreen is the horrific TV movie. He was by far the best part of the movie and I'm forever thankful that Big Finish was able to bring new life into the character. The Eighth Doctor has led an incredible journey in the audio plays, whether it's his solo adventures with Charley, his wanderings in the Divergent universe with Charley and C'rizz, or his wild adventures with Lucie. The Eighth Doctor is more down to earth than most of his other incarnations (with the exception of The Fifth Doctor), but he has such wonderful flightiness and hunger for adventure and exploration that its hard to not love him.
5. Sylvester McCoy as The Seventh Doctor. Like The Fourth Doctor, I grew up on The Seventh Doctor albeit not as extensively (and not just because he had far fewer stories). Nonetheless, I have wonderful fond memories of The Seventh Doctor and Ace, especially in the wonderful Remembrance of the Daleks
and their final story Survival
. I love the deep dark sinister nature of The Seventh Doctor but I also love his compassionate (if sometimes misguided) relationship with Ace, one which rings even stronger in the Big Finish audio plays (with or without Hex). It's a credit to Troughton, Smith, and McGann that they rank higher above McCoy in my eyes because for the longest time McCoy always had a special place in my heart.
6. Colin Baker as The Sixth Doctor. Like others have already said, despite having mostly crappy scripts to work with (the exceptions, in my mind, being Vengeance on Varos
, Terror of the Vervoids
, and The Two Doctors
), Colin Baker always gave The Sixth Doctor his absolute best and showed how much he loved the character and the show. This shines through in spades in Big Finish's audio plays where has gotten more than his fair share of wonderful scripts. The Sixth Doctor might be self-important and bombastic and snobby at times, but he's also has kinder and prouder side to him. Baker has always been on the record wanting to show that The Sixth Doctor is like an onion and slowly peel away the layers of the character over the years. While the show never gave him that opportunity, thankfully Big Finish did. But what makes The Sixth Doctor even more awesome? He has one of the best companions: Evelyn Smythe. Not only is she the oldest companion The Doctor has ever had (Romana, aside), but she is the perfect foil to The Sixth Doctor's more angrier and indignant moments as well as his kind-hearted moments. Her love for history and adventure makes her all the more suited as a companion.
7. David Tennant as The Tenth Doctor. No incarnation was quite as bonkers as The Tenth Doctor, but on the same note, no incarnation was nearly as moody. While this had some great benefits, this also hampered the character at times, especially in regards to his relationship with Rose. Whether he was acting lovey-dovey with her, angsty over her absence, or overwhelmed with both upon reunion, this was always the low point for the character. Which is a shame because Rose wasn't that bad of a companion with The Ninth Doctor and The Tenth Doctor otherwise had some of the best stories since the show's return despite this. it's probably no wonder that his season with Donna is by far my favorite of his. A combination of the best stories with a companion who was a modern version of Tegan and quite the antithesis of Rose.
8. Peter Davison as The Fifth Doctor. Some might find The Fifth Doctor boring or bland, but I've always found him to be very enjoyable company. He benefited from The Second Doctor state of mind of having his enemy underestimate him and then suddenly pull the carpet from underneath them. But where The Second Doctor played the fool, The Fifth Doctor played the quiet academic. While he had no patience for the huff and puff (unless he was jousting with The Master), The Fifth Doctor would simply undermine his opponents in sometimes the simplest of manners (unless, of course, cricket was involved). Besides, he had to be quiet in nature when around the likes of the wonderful Tegan Jovanka.
9. Christopher Eccleston as The Ninth Doctor. The greatest shame about The Ninth Doctor is his short tenure. And unlike The Eighth (or Sixth) Doctor, he hasn't made up for this in the Big Finish audio plays. Instead, all we have for now is 10 stories over 13 episodes, ranging from fantastic ("Dalek," "The Empty Child'/"The Doctor Dances") to waste of space and time ("Aliens in London"/"World War Three"). But for his short tenure, Christopher Eccleston shined in every moment he was in. The Ninth Doctor was unlike any Doctor we've seen before or since. This was a man who was still recovering from terrible losses left behind by the Time War. Yet, deep down, he still had a grand sense of adventure, and no matter what happened in the Time War, he managed to keep going because of his love for adventure.
10. William Hartnell as The First Doctor. The one who started it all, set the standard for all those who would follow, and set the bar high. His no nonsense demeanor in the face of danger was always heartwarming as was his grandfatherly nature to his companions (whether it was to his actual granddaughter, Susan, or to Vicki or Dodo), but his true strength was his turbulent relationship with Ian Chesterfield (I mean, Chatterhouse, er, Chesterton). I initially didn't like Ian because I thought he was arrogant and presumptuous (much like The First Doctor), but over time I came to love his character and that's largely due to William Russell's great rapport with William Hartnell. While Hartnell sometimes fumbled his lines (more so in the later serials), he managed to bring great charm in these mistakes as if they were planned in the first place (and sometimes they actually were). In the end, if it wasn't for Hartnell's grumpy but lovable performance, we wouldn't be where we are today.
11. Jon Pertwee as The Third Doctor. As I said before, just because I rank him at the very bottom, doesn't mean I don't love him. There is a quality about him that is a lot of fun, something of a James Bond as a Time Lord stuck on Earth aspect. While I might not like his brusquer side to the character, I will always love his rapport with certain characters, especially Brigadier Lethbridge-Stewart, The Master, Sarah-Jane Smith, Liz Shaw, and yes, even Jo Grant. That being said, Jo Grant remains my least favorite companion (along with lovey-dovey Rose) due to her simple-minded nature to always get in trouble at exactly the wrong time every single time possible. And she does this for three whole seasons. Unfortunately, her nature takes away a lot from the charm of The Third Doctor for me and might be partially why I love him the least.