In honour of David Tennant’s imminent departure, I thought I’d chronicle the moments he’s most famous for amongst Whovians. Not the funny, quirky, manic Doctor that the girls all fall in love with; his truly shining moments are when his eyes go cold, his jaw tightens, and we see the 900-year old Time Lord who sports nicknames like “The Oncoming Storm” and “The Destroyer of Worlds”. No Doctor has done it better.

A warning to those unfamiliar with the Doctor and who plan to enter his world one day, which of course I endorse wholeheartedly; most of these are major spoilers for the episode involved, since naturally these moments tend to come at the end of episodes. I’ve avoided arc-spoilers, though.

5) The Christmas Invasion

The Setup: The first time we meet our new Doctor after his regeneration from the 9th, he spends most of the episode in a coma before sweeping in to save the day. Generally, he wows us with his charm and veryfastspeaking and cleverness. He spends time talking about how even he doesn’t yet know “what sort of man” he is, as a new regeneration. He engages in an unlikely sword battle with a creature twice his size, and against the odds – thanks to remaining regeneration energy – he defeats him and accepts his surrender at sword point.

The Christmas Invasion screencap

The Payoff: Chatting nonchalantly about the satsuma he’s found in his dressing-robe pocket, the great evil bugger he just defeated rears up and charges forward, going back on his oath and trying to stab the Doctor in the back. The Doctor, without glancing back, fires the satsuma at a wall switch which sends the Sycorax plunging to his doom. The Doctor flatly declares, “No second chances. I’m that sort of man.” Badass, and it set the tone for his entire run.

4) The Satan Pit

The Setup: The Doctor faces down a creature which may be Satan himself; the evil that is behind all the legends, whose existence, trapped on a planet in an impossible orbit around a black hole, causes the Doctor to doubt his own knowledge of the universe. He faces him down, figures out his trap, puts his utter faith in Rose to do what is required, and then the two of them blast the Beast into the black hole and merrily pull the trapped ship to safety with the TARDIS, saving those who remain.

The Satan Pit screencap

The Payoff: In an understated moment of bad-assness, after accomplishing all this, the remaining crew ask him over the radio: “Just who are you?” And with a roguish grin and a wink to Rose, he gives his perfect answer: “The stuff of legend.”

3) The Runaway Bride

The Setup: All of Earth is about to be overrun by the ancient children of a giant space-spider. Her egg sack, some 6 billion years earlier, was the nucleus around which the planet formed, and they’ve hatched. The Doctor has already been sparring with her verbally, but she dismisses him as a weak Martian (thanks to Donna’s insistence on calling him one derisively) physician who can do nothing to stop her. As we know, she couldn’t be more wrong.

The Runaway Bride screencap

The Payoff: The Doctor finally decides he must warn her and give her the choice, and simply and calmly exchanges this dialogue with her: “I can find you a planet, I can find you and your children a place in the universe to co-exist. Take that offer and end this now.” “I’m afraid I have to decline.” “Then what happens next is your own doing.” Some more back-and-forth, then he explains who he is: “My home planet is far away and long since gone. But its name lives on. Gallifrey. I warned you. You did this.” The moment she hears the name “Gallifrey” – the first time it was used on the new series – she begins wailing in despair, already knowing that she has lost. It’s pretty badass when just invoking your home planet’s name causes a 10-billion-year old giant spider to piss itself in fear. Of course, he once again commits genocide to cap it off, drowning them all by draining the entire Thames, which itself is pretty badass.

2) Family of Blood

The Setup: The Doctor has run away from a family who are determined to hunt him down and steal his immortality, allowing them to live forever. He uses a special Gallifreyan device to turn himself into a human and hide from them, as they have a short life span and he just wants to wait it out. Of course, it all goes pear-shaped, animated scarecrows run about killing, many people die, but by the end, the Doctor is restored and he confronts the Family, easily disabling their ship and weapons and leaving them defenceless.

Human Nature screencap

The Payoff: The final monologue, delivered by one of the Family, explains why the Doctor took off and went through so much trouble to run away from a group that don’t seem all that scary, considering what we’ve seen of Daleks and primal Satan-beasts.

He never raised his voice. That was the worst thing – the fury of the Time Lord. Then we discovered why, why this Doctor, who had fought with gods and demons, had run away from us and hidden. He was being kind.

He then proceeds to give them all what they wanted; immortality, trapped frozen in time for all eternity. Scarily badass.

1) Forest of the Dead

The Setup: The Doctor and his party are trapped in a planet-sized library with only one inhabitant; the Vashta Narada, a swarm of tiny creatures that looks like a shadow and may be lurking in any shadow. Like piranha of the air, these creatures of rudimentary swarm intelligence are just very hungry, very effective at de-fleshing their prey, and cannot be hurt, threatened, or reasoned with. At least until the Doctor shows up.

Forest of the Dead screencap

The Payoff: There are other threats in the episode which are more pressing; while trying to deal with them, they consume his remaining friend, and he is rather upset about it. He warns them that you do not want to cross him when he’s angry, if they don’t take off and give them a day to finish their business and get out, they will regret it. They couldn’t be the least bit impressed; he’s just flesh, they’re moving towards him, and there’s absolutely nothing he can do. Never showing a bit of fear, with jaw clenched, he intones the most bad-ass phrase he ever did: “My name is The Doctor. We’re in the universe’s biggest library. Look me up.” They do. They back down. Problem solved, and utterly, completely bad-ass.

So there we have it; my picks for the most bad-ass Tenth Doctor moments. Disagree? Any I missed? Feel free to leave me a comment!