When the time comes for a new Doctor, there's always some anxiety over the big question: Who will he be?
The series owes its longevity to the clever ploy of the Doctor's ability to regenerate his body. But with each new face comes a new persona as well — to some extent, the showrunners have always cast the man, rather than the part. Which is why the answer this time is more complicated than usual, given that Peter Capaldi marks a major departure in many ways from the character as it's been established since "Doctor Who" was relaunched in 2005.
Ahead of Capaldi's debut in the role this Saturday, we looked at how the Doctor has been portrayed by his predecessors in the new incarnation of the show.
His performance left no doubt that Nine was running from something he’d done, even before it was revealed he’d sacrificed his planet to end the war with the Daleks. In a bad-boy black leather jacket with the similarly adrift Rose Tyler by his side, Nine lived for the moment, enjoying the world he’d saved with a companion who wanted to be shown it all.
Having decided to redeem himself by focusing on the good he could do in the galaxy, Ten earned the Doctor’s reputation as a protector but could be vindictive against his enemies. This is also the Doctor known for his love — sometimes literally — of humanity; when it came time for his regeneration, Ten tearfully admitted, “I don’t want to go.”
An emotional season opener in which Eleven meets his would-be companion, Amy Pond, when she was just a girl, made him one of the most iconic Doctors. (His instantly fashionable bow tie and “Geronimo!” catchphrase didn’t hurt.) Eleven was boisterous, never quiet or calm and only reluctantly dealt with villains after failing to charm them.
Twelve is charming but manipulative, abrasive one moment and tear-jerkingly compassionate the next. After saving his planet Gallifrey last season, Twelve doesn’t have the emotional baggage of his predecessors, giving Capaldi the most freedom yet to make the character his own.