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Doctor Who: Our Need to Be Remembered Led to Some Emotional Moments

Some of Doctor Who's most emotional moments all share a common thematic thread: the fear of being forgotten after one's gone.

The BBC's latest Doctor Who video is a compilation of fan-voted most emotional moments on the show. It's a worthy selection, pulling the most tear-jerking sequences from the show as showrunners Russell T. Davies and Steven Moffat just loved to hit fans in the feels, which just ensured they loved the show more than ever. But the surprising thing about the compilation is they highlight a long-running theme at the heart of the show: the need to be remembered.

Doctor Who
Image: BBC

Loss and remembrance. Remembrance of loved ones gone. The need to be remembered. This is the real emotional heart of the show. What is the core of stories that travel through Space and Time in Doctor Who? History, memories, and remembrance, after all. Doctor Who teaches children about Death, but it's also about not so much fearing death but the fear and tragedy of being forgotten.

Adric's (Matthew Waterhouse) final moments alone and remaining a memory in the Fifth Doctor and his friends' minds. Rose (Billie Piper) meets her father, Pete (Shaun Dingwall), for the first time and has memories of him – including his sacrificing himself to save her and the entire timeline. The Tenth Doctor's human cover persona John Smith sees his potential life on Earth as a happy, fulfilling one if he doesn't sacrifice himself to become The Doctor again, memories of a life that will never happen. He and Joan (Jessica Stevenson) will be the only ones who know what they've lost when The Doctor returns to fight the aliens. The Eleventh Doctor  (Matt Smith) loses Amy (Karen Gillen) and Rory (Arthur Darville) to literally the past, never to see them again, with Amy leaving a note imploring him not to forget her.  The Twelfth Doctor (Peter Capaldi) making his saddest, most impassioned speech about war shows he's become the living memorial for all the people killed in the Time War.  The Twelfth Doctor fights through the labyrinth in an allegory for his grief over the loss of Clara (Jenna Coleman) and also tries to remember his own life in the labyrinth before he can get out of it. The Thirteenth Doctor (Jodie Whittaker) finds Gallifrey reduced to smoking ruins with only her memories of the planet left, isolating herself in grief from her companions. The Eleventh Doctor's parting with Clara and the sadness of his forgetting her, a sadness he's only vaguely aware of.

And it all comes down to the Tenth Doctor's (David Tennant) loss of Rose to another universe. That was the first loss of a companion in the revived version of Doctor Who. Russell T. Davies established the template with the first overt declaration of love from a companion: heartbreak, loss, and remembrance. The funny, whimsical, and lightly political Science Fiction might make the series fly, but it's the moments of love and heartbreak that make Doctor Who sing.

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Adi TantimedhAbout Adi Tantimedh

Adi Tantimedh is a filmmaker, screenwriter and novelist. He wrote radio plays for the BBC Radio, “JLA: Age of Wonder” for DC Comics, “Blackshirt” for Moonstone Books, and “La Muse” for Big Head Press. Most recently, he wrote “Her Nightly Embrace”, “Her Beautiful Monster” and “Her Fugitive Heart”, a trilogy of novels featuring a British-Indian private eye published by Atria Books, a division Simon & Schuster.
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