Typically in a time travel story, it’s a bad thing to run into yourself. You may change a moment important to your past or explode by coming into physical contract with a past you. However, when you’re the Doctor and change your whole self on a regular basis, all the wibbly-wobbliness of time travel (and appearances by past actors) inevitably mean your timeline is going to cross itself. While the Doctor has stated that crossing one’s own timeline is strictly forbidden (except for cheap tricks), usually some strange event in the space-time continuum or the intervention of an outside force brings him into contact with his past selves, forced to save the universe before all existence is destroyed.
1. The Ten Doctors
Though not in the official listing of Doctor Who stories, this fan-fiction web comic by Richard Morris squeezes every Doctor from William Hartnell to David Tennant into 247 pages. When all Doctors but the Eighth find themselves trapped at the Eye of Orion, it doesn’t take them long to figure out that someone has a sinister plan for their missing regeneration. What follows is a time-and-space-spanning adventure including the Daleks, the Cybermen, the Master, and many more villains and guest characters. Lots of great canon references and fourth wall jokes abound as the Seventh Doctor quips that “Too many Bakers spoils the crust” and endless hilarity ensues over the Sixth Doctor and Commander Maxil existing in the same space. Check it out at Rich’s ComixBlog.
2. The Three Doctors
The first television serial to feature multiple Doctors, it hits at a time when the Third Doctor is still trapped on Earth with his knowledge of time travel blocked by the Time Lords. When Gallifreyan civilisation is threatened by the legendary Omega, the Time Lords break the first rule of time to bring the three incarnations together to end the threat. However, due to William Hartnell’s health, the First Doctor became trapped in a time eddy and his character merely appeared on a screen to aid the Second and Third Doctors. The serial was also the first anniversary special, celebrating ten years of the programme. The Doctors’ success against Omega caused the Time Lords to unblock the Third Doctor’s mind and permitted the show to return to its space-AND-time format, though the Third Doctor would continue to work with UNIT until he regenerated.
3. The Two Doctors
This serial acts as incredible evidence for my theory that Frazier Hines didn’t age until the portrait in his house was destroyed in the 1990s. When the Sixth Doctor witnesses a vision of his Second self’s death, he travels back to investigate and discovers a Sontaran plot to ensure their victory over the Rutans. Teaming with Jaime and accompanied by Peri, the Sixth Doctor must save the Second. In the continuity of the show, this is the last time the Sontarans appeared until “The Sontaran Strategem” in the current series and the last in-continuity multi-Doctor story until “Time Crash” brought together the Fifth and Tenth Doctors.
An audio story representing Big Finish Productions’ celebration of the 40thAnniversary, it is the second part of a story that began in the audio drama “Neverland”. When the Neverpeople of the anti-time universe attempted to set off a large anti-time energy bomb, the Eighth Doctor stopped them at a great cost, absorbing the anti-time particles into himself and turning into the malevolent Zagreus. While fighting to regain control of his own mind, the Eighth Doctor encounters many characters representing people in his past, including his Third, Fifth, Sixth, and Seventh incarnations, who play other roles until the Doctor’s personality reasserts itself and they all become the Doctor again. To further celebrate the anniversary in this story, many former companions appear as other characters both on Gallifrey and in the Doctor’s mind. Though the Eighth Doctor succeeds in purging Zagreus, he would go on to fight him in other stories as a disembodied spirit.
5. The Five Doctors
Perhaps the greatest multi-Doctor story on screen, being both in-canon and possessing the most Doctors (sorry, “Adventures in Time”, but you just don’t cut it), the BBC worked hard to ensure that the show’s 20th Anniversary featured a memorable story. While at the Eye of Orion with Tegan and Turlough, the Fifth Doctor feels something is terribly wrong as the audience sees his four previous selves snatched by a mysterious device. Traveling to Gallifrey and its infamous “Death Zone”, the First, Second, Third, and Fifth Doctors must uncover a massive conspiracy and a grasp for power that could endanger the universe. While the show was able to get back Patrick Troughton, Jon Pertwee, and a number of companions including Elisabeth Sladen, Nicholas Courtney, and Carole Ann Ford, it was unable to get two Doctors. William Hartnell had died in 1975 and was recast with Richard Hurndall. Additionally, Tom Baker was going through a “I want nothing to do with Doctor Who” phase (remind you of anyone who’s said no to an anniversary special?). In the end, the BBC provides an anniversary special fraught with action, suspense, and intrigue.
What’s your favorite story where the Doctor meets himself? Let us know in the comments!