The numerous incarnations of The Doctor provide a variation of personality traits; however, no persona never falters in his desire to save lives.  His intentions usually provoke an initial “flight” scenario, as opposed to the inevitable “fight” that closes most stories.  But this “flight” continuum presents itself in a range of means, whether when presented with an enemy, provided with an unfavorable TARDIS landing, forced to salvage a race, or simply to avoid immediate confrontation without a plan.  However, when the “fight” comes, when the confrontation begins, his speeches become his initial parlay and at times the final blow.  His words are his weaponry, and in every incarnation, his speeches, his barrages of tones, become hymns, odes, spells, palls, condemnations.  But these words remain arms and armor first and foremost, allowing for protection and defense.  Through close analysis of phraseology, each persona can be specifically identified, while simultaneously maintaining the continuity of the Doctor's overall character. 

        John Tulloch, in his analysis of the on-going development of “Doctor Who”'s story line likewise addresses the directionality of authorship and the consequential evolution phraseology.[1]  Of course, his analysis falls during the peaking era of the first stint of “Doctor Who,” being published before the decline and ultimate collapse in 1989 and the revival in 2005.  James Chapman, in Inside the Tardis: The Worlds of Doctor Who, likewise analyzes “Doctor Who” through the beginning of the Tenth Doctor, examining the inherent Britishness of a supposedly universal Time-Lord, while revealing evolving plot lines surrounding imperialist and post-colonial identity of Britain through setting and individual persona's “catch-phrases,” or physical tendencies such as the First's lapel holding to the Ninth's use of “Fantastic” and the Tenth's use of “Alonze.”[2]  Chapman's work is published before the Eleventh's incarnation, but “Geronimo,” would in turn fall into the same mode of analysis.

But there is one word that throughout the decades has proved his most powerful, and which remains constant in each incarnations' vocabulary- Run. All incarnations use variations on this term for various reasons: to buy time, to save allies, to side-track enemies, but never to fully escape.  But in the nuWho, it holds an especially poignant place; it is the first word out of the Doctor's mouth.  To escape the living plastic, he places his hand on Rose's arm and simply says “Run.”[3] 

        Tonality and specifics of how “Run” is conveyed, just like the heightened characteristics resultant from specific regenerative residual emotions, changes through incarnations.  The First Doctor's incarnation is the only one to avoid the use of the technical term “Run,” but his conveyance of the concept relayed his condition: an older, seemingly British, man that likely has seen the turn of the twentieth century and the extreme changes in course from the fall of that Empire.  He uses more elitist terms such as “come along,” “rushing about,” and “quickly!”[4]  This is usually directed toward Ian and Ben whilst they ran after some amazing or wild venture.  This idea of the old imperial way only compounds with his rhetorical judgments of the Second and Third incarnations as a “Clown” and a “Dandy,” an emasculating term used in the Victorian and early modernist eras, defining the imperfect and a non-physically powerful man, who lacked gentlemanly qualities.  His terms for “Run” would be “gentlemanly refinements,” and his insisting himself on until his body literally gave out revealed to, at least some degree, a physically strong man, as he shows in “The Romans.”[5]  But the Second aptly and quickly took to demanding “run:” “When I say run, run like a rabbit!”[6]  The tones shift drastically, from commanding to impending and fleeting, when youth, particularly the youth of the era, emerges in the Doctor's physical form.  The Third's first attempt at running is described as “the try to escape... was too strong, my dear...[to] bear the thought of being tied to one planet and one time,” when he had been “running [his] whole life.”[7] 

        In the Tenth and Eleventh nuWho incarnations it becomes a running joke throughout the series that it is “time to run again,” or that running is a defining characteristic, as Donna (Cathrine Tate) likes to annotate, “He saves planets, rescues civilisations, defeats terrible creatures. And runs a lot. Seriously, there's an outrageous amount of running involved.”[8]  The Tenth meets Donna as “The Runaway Bride,” which, in turn, changes from an accidental abduction from her wedding Donna's case, and thus a play on words by using “Runaway,” to an actual Runaway Bride in Amy Pond. [9]  Running is a soothing agent for Amy (Karen Gillan), as she feared the finality of her impending wedding: 

            AMY: Have you ever run away from something because you were scared or not ready.  Or            just- just because you could?

            DOCTOR:  Once.  A long time ago.

            AMY: What happened?

            DOCTOR:  Hello? [10]

        Here, the Doctor's fellowship in literal flight, but also in just running, not only gives Amy the time she needs to alleviate her nerves.  But the Doctor also notices the love she holds for Rory, and thus the mismatch with his truly nomadic-esque soul, that which tends to make for the perfect companion: a vocal, ethical, amusing, and curious person fully ready to stand and always run.  Rather, in Amy he sees restlessness and wonder-- not fear of Rory but fear of settlement-- which he in turn alleviates by bringing Rory and allowing himself to have a specific tie to something rather than full-range to wander.  Even when the couple thinks they need to settle, in “The Power of Three” the Doctor orders “Run,” out of the Shakri spaceship, for what Amy and Rory believe to be the last time, Rory, who has always wanted a normal life, says that he's “going to miss this.”[11]  Afterward it is Rory's father in fact that tells Amy and Rory, “It's you they can't give up, Doctor.  And I don't think they should;” he then turns to Rory and Amy.[12]  Rory's father says “Go save every world you can find. Who else has that chance?”[13]  And Amy and Rory remember not only what reignited their engagement but saved their marriage, and who gave them the chance to spend thousands of years fighting for each other and the memory of each other.  Running for the universe-- running restarted the universe and each of their lives more than once.  Running, for these companions, was never not an option.  But running away permanently was never an actual option.

        The death of Adric highlights that particular universal, especially in his urgency during his final episode: “Come on.  You can't stay behind!”[14]  When urging the Doctor and his other companions back to the TARDIS to escape the Cybermen who only want a single hostage, Adric's self-sacrifice reflects the concept that The Doctor and his companions fail to run away from a foe.  He asks, in some of his final words to the Doctor to “Please, Doctor,...just leave.”[15]  Adric asks the Doctor, in a fashion, to run, while disallowing himself that permission.  Rather, the remainder of the Adric focus remains on Adric's attributes: his heroic qualities, his relentless desire to find knowledge, and prove his mastery of that knowledge.  That lack of running, that lack of escape because he wants to prove his sums are accurate and thus save Earth becomes his downfall but a beautiful and ever painful downfall that haunts the Doctor for incarnations to come. 

        But perhaps one of the most memorable “running” analogies are not about the Doctor escaping the Time Lords or trying to evade an enemy for time, but is about his offerings to his companions.  When the Tenth Doctor goes to the library and finally saves River Song's “ghost” in her Sonic, she begins a voice over.  

        When you run with the Doctor, it feels like it will never end, but however hard you try, you  can't run forever.  Everybody knows everybody dies.  And nobody knows it like the Doctor. I do think though, that all the skies of all the worlds would just turn dark if he ever, for one moment, accepted it.  Everybody knows that everybody dies.  But not everyday; not today. He just can't do it, can he?  He just can't give in.  That impossible man. He just can't give in. Some days are special.  Some days are so blessed.  Some days, nobody dies at all.  Now and   then, every day in a million days, the wind stands fair and   the Doctor comes to call.  And everybody lives.”[16]

Sydney Walmsley 
“Run”: An Analysis of the Multi-Persona Usage of Vocalization

All incarnations use variations on this term for various reasons: to buy time, to save allies, to side-track enemies, but in the nuWho, it holds an especially poignant place; it is the first word out of the Doctor's mouth


[1]     Tulloch, John and Manuel Alvarado.  The Unfolding Text, St. Martin's Press.  Print.  (1984, December; New York).

[2]     Chapman, James.  Inside the Tardis: The Worlds of Doctor Who, I. B. Tauris.  Print.  (Sept. 19, 2006; London).

[3]     “Rose,” Doctor Who, Television, Christopher Eccleston (March 26, 2005; London; BBC.), Television.

[4]     Doctor Who, Television, William Hartnell (1963- 1966; London, BBC.), Television.

[5]  “The Romans,” Doctor Who, Television, William Hartnell (Jan. 16, 1965; London; BBC.), Television.

[6] “The Power of the Daleks,” Doctor Who, Television Patrick Troughton (Nov. 5, 1966; London; BBC.), Television.

[7]  “Spearhead from Space,” Doctor Who, Television Jon Pertwee (Jan. 3, 1970; London; BBC.), Television; “The Beast Below,”  Doctor Who, Television Matt Smith (April 10, 2010; London; BBC.), Television.

[8] “The Doctor's Daughter,” Doctor Who, Television David Tennant (May 10, 2008; London; BBC.) Television.; Doctor Who, Television David Tennat and Matt Smith (2006-2013; London; BBC.) Television.

[9]  “The Runaway Bride,” Doctor Who, Television, David Tennant (Dec. 25, 2006; London; BBC.), Television.

[10] “The Beast Below,”  Doctor Who, Television Matt Smith (April 10, 2010; London; BBC.), Television.

[11]  “The Power of Three,”  Doctor Who, Television Matt Smith (Sept. 22, 2012; London; BBC.), Television.

[12] “The Power of Three,”  Doctor Who, Television Matt Smith (Sept. 22, 2012; London; BBC.), Television.

[13]  “The Power of Three,”  Doctor Who, Television Matt Smith (Sept. 22, 2012; London; BBC.), Television.

[14]  “Earthshock,” Doctor Who, Television  Peter Davidson (March 8, 1982; London; BBC.), Television.

[15]  “Earthshock,” Doctor Who, Television  Peter Davidson (March 8, 1982; London; BBC.), Television.

[16] “Forest of the Dead,” Doctor Who, Television David Tennant (June 7 2008; London; BBC.) Television.


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Jaques, Derrida.  Writing and Difference, University of Chicago Press.  Chicago.  (1978, February.)  

Jaques, Derrida.  Dissemination  University of Chicago Press.  Chicago.  (1984, February.)  

Luckings, Christina.  Doctor Who.  Web.  Chrissie's Transcript Site.  August 8, 2013.