I love talking about my favorite things in media, and I love hearing other people talk about theirs — and thus, Random Number Favorites was born. The concept is this: I generate a number between 3-10 and that’s how many favorites I have to list for the topic. (A quick note that “favorite” is a fluid concept that can change from day to day, or hour to hour, so I am in no way standing by any of these forever.) And I welcome you to drop your own (equally non-binding) list in the comments below!
In the future I’m hoping to start the last week of every month with one of these posts, but we’ll see if that schedule works out. And I’ll often be randomly generating the topics from a list I’ve created, but not always. I suspect there may be days I really want to talk about something in particular.
Anyways, onto the first topic (which was randomly generated this time): favorite Doctor Who quotes.
This one is tricky because I’m sure the ones I immediately think of are those I’ve seen on “best quotes” lists over and over again. They’re inherently more fresh in my mind. So this list might be fairly influenced by Received Fan Wisdom…but I still think I’ve managed to include quotes that are important to me personally.
I’m listing these in chronological, not favorite, order, and I’m only including New Who because I haven’t watched that much Classic Who so far. Also there will be spoilers.
1. “You didn’t always take me where I wanted to go.” “No, but I always took you where you needed to go.”
— Neil Gaiman, The Doctor’s Wife
When I first heard this dialogue, I caught my breath. Whether it’s completely true or not (because let’s be honest, the TARDIS still isn’t always in control), it has so much emotional resonance. It captures the agency of the TARDIS and explains why the Doctor so often unexpectedly ends up in dangerous situations where they’re just the right person to save the day. It speaks deeply to this relationship at the heart of the show, to how much the TARDIS understands the Doctor as they’re running around time and space together. Truly a wonderful exchange.
2. “My real name, that is not the point. The name I chose is the Doctor. The name you choose, it’s like a promise you make.”
— Steven Moffat, The Name of the Doctor
The Doctor’s title matters more than their original name because they chose it!! Gosh, I really love a good narrative of choice. It’s beautiful how all the *nudge* *wink* teasing about The Great Importance Of The Doctor’s True Name arrives here at the assertion that no, that’s not what matters. It’s a similar subversion to the Impossible Girl arc. The story keeps asking “who are these characters, really?” But eventually the characters and the narrative push back and say you already know who I am. Clara is not a trap or an enigma, she’s just Clara. The Doctor is not “really” whatever their first name was, they are just the Doctor. And that is meaningful and powerful enough.
3. “Happy ever after doesn’t mean forever. It just means time.”
— Steven Moffat, The Husbands of River Song
Alternatively, This Entire Scene, but I think this quote sums up the sentiment of it the best. I love watching the Twelfth Doctor come face to face with his absolute refusal to let people go in Hell Bent, realize he went too far, and have the echoes of that realization ripple into this episode. Happiness doesn’t last forever, and that’s okay. It’s still worth having. We can accept that things will end, and that realization doesn’t have to be sad. It can actually help us let go of fear and find a greater peace in our lives, as these characters finally, finally do here. It’s a lovely, emotional end to one of my favorite episodes.
4. “Human progress isn’t measured by industry. It’s measured by the value you place on a life.”
— Sarah Dollard, Thin Ice
I do love the Doctor standing up to evil in this way — just vehemently asserting the worth that individual people have in the face of oppression. These words remind us to never let ourselves get caught up in the system of building bigger companies, collecting more money, and no longer caring about who you’re stomping on in the process. They remind us to question if we’re just buying into the prevailing cultural ideas of what things like “progress” and “achievement” are. They ask us stand up when our society’s priorities are deeply hurting people. There is a powerful outrage in this quote, and it rang so very true both in 2017 when it aired and in every moment since.
5. “You were right, you know. The universe generally fails to be fairytale. But that’s where we come in.”
— Steven Moffat, Twice Upon a Time
This one might actually be my current favorite quote because I find it so astoundingly hopeful and motivating. It’s the kind of hope that’s active, that pushes out into the universe and fights back. It argues that the response to “Life isn’t fair” isn’t “so suck it up and deal with it.” It’s “so let’s make it fair.” It doesn’t sugarcoat the reality of the world we live in, but neither does it accept that reality as fixed. We can change things. We can make the universe better. Seeing the darkness in the world doesn’t mean giving up, it means stepping up. To me that is both the essence of Doctor Who at its best and such a crucial idea in the world today.
Honorable Mention: “In 900 years of time and space I’ve never met anyone who wasn’t important.”
— Steven Moffat, A Christmas Carol
Because it’s the Doctor Who quote hanging on the wall of my dorm room. And it’s a beautiful sentiment.