Doctor Who has established a long-running tradition of multiple versions of the Doctor running into each other in special episodes. As the Sixth Doctor once pointed out in “The Two Doctors” from Season 22, “When you travel around as much as I do, it’s almost inevitable that you’ll run into yourself at some point.” Of course, thanks to the nature of regeneration, when one version of the Doctor does bump into another, they’re usually two completely different people. Weirdly, the Doctor very rarely seems to get along with their own former incarnations, leading to a lot of friction between one Doctor and another.
The show marked its 50th anniversary with one such traditional incarnation-crossing team-up. The feature-length episode “The Day of the Doctor” saw Matt Smith’s incumbent 11th Doctor meeting David Tennant’s 10th Doctor, as well as John Hurt’s previously unseen War Doctor. It took a little time for the Doctors to start working together and — upon meeting — each took a few jabs at the other. Their initial banter helped highlight just how much the Doctor had changed between his 10th and 11th incarnations, with the Eleventh Doctor calling out the Tenth Doctor’s more flirtatious nature.
Two Doctors, Two Queens, One Zygon
In “The Day of the Doctor,” the 10th and 11th Doctors are brought together by the Moment — the sentient weapon used by the War Doctor to end the Time War. The Moment intends to show the Doctor what he will become if he ends the war. At first, the War Doctor is less than impressed with his future selves — and they don’t seem overly keen on each other. When the 11th Doctor first encounters his previous incarnation, he notices the 10th Doctor is accompanied by not one, but two Queen Elizabeths I.
“What you get up to in the privacy of your own regeneration is your business,” the 11th Doctor tells his past self, but he’s evidently grossed out when the 10th Doctor tells him one of the two Elizabeths is a shape-shifting Zygon. He assures his former self that he’s not judging, but can’t help but remind the 10th Doctor that one of the Elizabeths is a Zygon — an alien with venom sacs in its tongue — after they both kiss him. Despite having literally been in the 10th Doctor’s shoes, the Eleventh Doctor apparently can’t help but call out his predecessor’s womanizing habits — something he has largely left behind.
The 10th Doctor’s relationship with Elizabeth I was first teased in his final story, “The End of Time,” which even implied the monarch had sacrificed her title of “The Virgin Queen” when she got her hands on the Time Lord’s sonic screwdriver. However, “The Day of the Doctor” revealed that — as was often the case with the 10th Doctor’s friskiest moments — all was not quite as it seemed.
The 10th Doctor Plays Up the Cosmic Casanova Trope
More than any other iteration of Doctor Who‘s leading Time Lord, David Tennant’s 10th Doctor had a penchant for kissing — or being kissed by — his female companions and allies. However, in the case of his time-traveling companions, the kisses were never really sincere. Billie Piper’s Rose Tyler only locked lips with him while possessed by the last human, Lady Cassandra. For Freema Agyeman’s Martha Jones, the kiss was simply a “genetic transfer.” In the case of Catherine Tate’s Donna Noble, she kissed the 10th Doctor to give him a shock, helping his body heal after being poisoned.
When the kisses were genuine, the 10th Doctor was never the one initiating them — as was the case with Madame de Pompadour, Astrid Peth and Christina de Souza. However, in this incarnation, the Doctor truly did fall in love with his companion Rose. While their romance blossomed in subtext throughout the 10th Doctor’s first season, the Doctor could never quite bring himself to tell Rose how he felt. Ultimately, Rose ended up with a half-human copy of the 10th Doctor, and that humanity allowed them to finally be together.
Elizabeth I, Queen of England and Doctor X, Lord of Time
The Doctor’s relationship with Elizabeth I occurred shortly before his regeneration, at a time when he was fleeing his prophesied death and defying the ancient laws of the Time Lords. His relationship with the erstwhile “Virgin Queen” was apparently fueled by a reckless desire to play fast and loose with history. However, “The Day of the Doctor” revealed they only accidentally got married when the Doctor’s attempts to catch a Zygon went slightly awry.
The 10th Doctor may not have been intentionally flirtatious, but he certainly seemed to get around more than his other incarnations, who have largely avoided entanglements with humans. Prior to appearing in Doctor Who, David Tennant had starred in 2005’s Casanova (also created by Doctor Who showrunner Russel T Davies) for BBC Three, so the 10th Doctor’s romantic antics may have been a nod to the actor’s past.
Doctor Who returns in November 2023 on Disney+