For a family show, Doctor Who can get pretty dark. Over the years the series has dealt with heartbreak, depression, PTSD and racism, treating subjects with gravity and seriousness despite them turning up in a silly TV series about a time-travelling phone box.
But by far the biggest marker of Doctor Who darkness is the number of deaths in the series, ranging from offscreen planets and passers-by to beloved guest characters and even a companion or two.
Often these deaths are seen to play on the Doctor’s conscience (most memorably David Tennant’s incarnation during 2008 finale Journey’s End), but in fairness to him you’re not going to save the galaxy without a few casualties. And it’s not like THAT many people have died, right?
Well, wrong – because one Doctor Who fan has crunched the numbers, and it turns out David Tennant’s Doctor probably did have a lot of deaths on his conscience. Generally speaking his tenure on the show saw the most deaths onscreen of any modern Doctor, with a series average of around 80 deaths (just pipped by the rather hard-working Christopher Eccleston’s 85) and an overall total to dwarf any others.
When it comes to companions, teaming Catherine Tate’s Donna with the Tenth Doctor looks to have been a particularly deadly combination, with her time in the Tardis resulting in a significantly higher level of onscreen deaths than companions before or after.
Overall, the result is clear – even without including the specials (which redditor 0thatguy left out of the calculations and hopes to update in the future), far more characters were killed during Russell T Davies’ tenure on the show, with Steven Moffat’s time at the helm a relative period of peace and prosperity for the galaxy.
That said, we’re still not sure we’ll be booking tickets to the Whoniverse any time soon. We hear the people are lovely, but there’s an awful Dalek infestation they just can’t get rid of.
Sign up to the Radio Times newsletter for the latest TV and entertainment news