David Tennant’s Doctor Who Return Comes With A Shocking Revelation

A new, canonical Doctor Who comic tells the story of the first adventure of David Tennant as the fourteenth Doctor.

By Michileen Martin | Published

Last month Doctor Who fans were pleasantly surprised when–instead of Jodie Whittaker’s thirteenth Doctor regenerating into Ncuti Gatwa–the fan-favorite David Tennant appeared as Doctor #14. While we aren’t expected to see Tennant again on the screen as the Doctor until next November, his new adventures have already begun in Doctor Who Magazine. The magazine is publishing a 13-part comic strip that canonically bridges the gap between Tennant’s reappearance in Doctor Who: The Power of the Doctor and next year’s 60th anniversary specials.

The story opens in the recently released Doctor Who Magazine #584, with the Doctor based on David Tennant responding to a distress call that takes him back to 1966. At first it seems like the problem he’s there to solve is a group of so-called “time tourists” who are there to watch England’s win in that year’s World Cup. But we eventually learn that, in fact, the reason the tourists are there is because an alien invasion is about to strike.

david tennant
“Liberation of the Daleks” from Doctor Who Magazine #584 (2022)

While he was overall the 9th Doctor, Christopher Eccleston was the first actor to play the Time Lord when the BBC series was revived in 2005. David Tennant replaced him later that year as the tenth Doctor and enjoyed a much longer tenure in the iconic role than Eccleston; remaining as the Doctor for 5 years until he was replaced by Matt Smith in 2010.

It’s not at all uncommon for previous stars of Doctor Who to briefly return to the role, but those short visits back are usually facilitated purely by the time travel nature of the series. For example 2013’s The Day of the Doctor saw the return not only of David Tennant as his version of The Doctor, but also that of John Hurt and Tom Baker. But Jodie Whittaker‘s transformation into Tennant in The Power of the Doctor is the first time we’ve seen one of the lead heroes actually transform into a previous incarnation.

And no one seems more shocked by it than the new Doctor David Tennant is playing. The comic in Doctor Who Magazine addressed the mystery of why this happened, and we’re likely to see it delved into further in the three specials airing in November 2023.

If you’re worried Ncuti Gatwa will be left out in the cold, don’t be. The Sex Education star will be taking his rightful place as now the 15th Doctor after David Tennant’s three specials air next year.

Now, we can’t help but consider at least one question about this development: what happens if at some point down the road, David Tennant wants to come back again–not as a new Doctor, but as a past version as he dead in The Day of the Doctor? There will be a question about whether he’s return as #10 or #14. And how will there be any way to even find out?