David Tennant Is Overrated In Doctor Who

By Chris Snellgrove | Updated

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Doctor Who is about the celebrate its 60th anniversary, and the BBC is doing the franchise celebration right with a series of specials that feature David Tennant’s return to the role of the Doctor. Many fans are excited because they see Tennant as the very best lead actor that Doctor Who ever had, and that makes these upcoming specials the best way to relive his glory days as the Tenth Doctor. However, we’re here with a take even hotter than Amy Pond’s modeling career: David Tennant is completely overrated by the Doctor Who fandom, and here’s why.

Way Too Human

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David Tennant as the Doctor

Part of the Doctor’s appeal in the series is that while he looks completely human, he’s actually centuries old. David Tennant’s Doctor, for example, was a little over 900 years old during his tenure on Doctor Who. But you’d never guess that, and that’s part of our issue with his performance.

In short, the Tenth Doctor often came across as a flawed human rather than an immortal alien. Some of our favorite Doctors would give glimpses of just how alien they really were (Christopher Eccleston and Peter Capaldi were particularly good at this) and how tragic living forever can really be.

Meanwhile, David Tennant spent most of his time on Doctor Who alternating between being smug, panicked, and even flirty…he seemed more like a manic human than a timeless alien, and that’s just downright disappointing. 

Very Little Character Growth

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David Tennant as the Doctor

In the modern era of Doctor Who, David Tennant helped establish the unspoken rule that actors stick around for about three seasons (more or less) before handing the reins to someone else. Subsequent Doctors typically had interesting character growth during their time on the show: we saw Matt Smith’s Doctor fall in love and get married, for example, and Capaldi’s arc was very deliberately defined by him starting out more ruthless and brutal before getting back in touch with his softer side.

Meanwhile, David Tennant’s character on Doctor Who was more or less static. Crazy things happen around him, of course, but he’s roughly the same from his introduction in the Christmas special all the way to regenerating into Matt Smith.

This made it easy for new viewers to dive in (which is one of the reasons the show grew so popular during his seasons), but it was disappointing for longtime fans hoping that the main character might actually get some kind (we’d have settled for any kind) of arc.

There’s Such a Thing As TOO Quirky

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David Tennant as the Doctor

While he had his moments of levity, Christopher Eccleston’s Doctor was often a serious and even grim character. This was deliberate, of course: as a veteran of the Time War and the last of the Time Lords (or so he thought), this character was destined to be very prickly.

When David Tennant came to Doctor Who as the Tenth Doctor, he was a pleasant change of pace because he was happy, joyful, and downright quirky, as any fan who regularly shouts “allons-y” can attest to.

Here’s the thing, though: there really is such a thing as being too quirky, and comic relief stops being effective when there is nothing we are getting relieved from. Previous Doctors like Tom Baker were known for their funny moments, but Baker had enough serious moments in between for his funnier quotes and zanier moments to really shine. Comparatively, David Tennant’s Doctor was almost nothing but zany moments, and this led to increasingly diminished returns.

The Rose “Relationship” Is Cringe

The Doctor and Rose

It was during Eccleston’s time on Doctor Who that the show began hinting at a romantic relationship between the Doctor and his companion Rose Tyler, but the show kicked that into high gear when David Tennant joined the show. This seemingly culminated with her getting stranded in another universe before she could confess her love to the Doctor, but Rose eventually gets an alleged happy ending by getting to live with a fully human clone of the Doctor in that same alternate universe.

Many fans consider this relationship to be the most romantic thing in Doctor Who history, and to these fans, we must respectfully ask…are you completely crazy? The age difference between these characters is gross enough (if it’s creepy for a 50-year-old man to hook up with a teenager, it’s infinitely creepier for a 900-year-old alien to hook up with 19-year-old Rose Tyler).

But it gets worse when you consider the very strong possibility that David Tennant’s Doctor never loved Rose and instead nurtured her romantic feelings to retain her loyalty as a companion.

That brings us back to that “happy” ending in which the Doctor essentially forces her to stay in the alternate universe and encourages her to get with the clone, who isn’t really the Doctor but who happens to wear his face. The main character playing god and exiling someone he allegedly loves while assigning her a boyfriend she never asked for?

If this is the average Doctor Who fan’s idea of an amazing romantic relationship, we’re going to be swiping left every damn time.