Doctor Who and Non-Violence

Let me quickly apologize to Doctor Who fans for the title of this post as it might have excited them. I'm sorry that this post isn't a theological analysis of Doctor Who and non-violence. But please link to good work in this area in the comments.

This post is simply a funny exchange I had with my son Aidan on this subject.

Aidan loves Doctor Who. I've only watched one episode. So the other day I was asking Aidan lots of questions about Doctor Who and what he liked about the show.

As Aidan shared I quickly discerned that in most episodes the good Doctor has to deal with a variety of creatures, aliens and monsters.

And then Aidan says, "But Doctor Who doesn't use violence."

I'm intrigued, "He doesn't use violence?"


"Well," I ask, "then how does he fight all these creatures if he's non-violent?"

Aidan pauses and then says, "Well, he runs away a lot. There's a lot of running away."


I wrote this post last week before the Doctor Who premiere on Saturday. Which I watched. The Twelfth Doctor is here! Anyway, the exchange above with Aidan last week made me laugh--the connection between non-violence and a lot of running away.

But if you watched the premiere the show left you speculating about if the Doctor pushed one of those monsters to his death. Sarah Bessey thinks the Doctor did push. Aidan isn't sure.

It'll be something to watch as the season unfolds.

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10 thoughts on “Doctor Who and Non-Violence”

  1. I recently preached a sermon based on Doctor Who and The Kingdom of God at a very large geek convention.

    It's rather short and I'd really like your input since your writings have truly spoken into my life. Here is the link:

  2. The Doctor as an action hero committed to always always exhausting the non-violent solutions first is one of the big things I like about the show. :)

  3. I think Dr. Who's relationship to violence is pretty complicated. Basically, the Doctor is non-violent until he isn't. Certainly over the course of the series, he has committed acts of violence (sometimes on a massive scale), but he typically tries to avoid it whenever possible.

  4. I've also read some stuff online about how, in some episode, the Doctor gets criticized for how he's non-violent but that the people surrounding him often use violence on his behalf. In that way he's complicit.

    All that to say, I think Doctor Who may be a great resource to think about non-violence and complicity. I'm just not the guy to do that analysis.

  5. Maybe you should start watching the show, become and expert, and then analyze it. :) I actually had never seen Doctor Who and just started watching the 2005 season last week. So far really enjoying it.

  6. Essentially, Davros was right, The Doctor turns his followers into weapons. He has killed plenty in the show.

  7. I core part of the Doctors character is the tension between who he wants to be and the reality of what he has had to do in trying to make the world (universe) better. A great episode to understand this is ‘The Doctor's

    The Doctor goes to the planet Messaline, where soldiers force the Doctor to stick his hand
    into a progenation machine, which uses his DNA to generate a female soldier (Jenny).
    The Doctor initially dismisses Jenny as an echo of what it means to be a Time
    Lord, but as they spend more time together he begins to accept her. The Doctor
    confides privately to his companion that he is resistant to Jenny coming with
    them in the TARDIS because she reminds him too much of Gallifrey
    and everything he lost in the Time War. A time when he was forced to abandon his principals (in his mind
    stop being “the Doctor”) to defend his people from an absolute evil. He grows
    to like Jenny and accept her the same as him. Meanwhile the episode details a conflict on
    the planet and the Doctor’s attempt to determine is cause. It turns out the
    combatants have bred so many generations through the progenation machines that
    their own history has degraded into myth. The original cause of the conflict lost.
    After a bit of action the Doctor declares the war to be over and everyone
    present lays down their weapons except for one man, who tries to shoot the
    Doctor. Jenny steps in the way and takes a bullet to the chest, and The Doctor
    cries as he holds her as she dies. An enraged Doctor picks up Cobb's gun and
    holds it to his head, but refuses to shoot him. He angrily throws the gun aside

    “I never would. Have you got that? I never would. When you
    start this new world—this world of Human and Hath—remember that. Make the
    foundation of this society "a man who never would."

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