I consider that all forms of fiction have a role to play in improving society. One of the best examples of this that I have found is the long running sci-fi show, Doctor Who. I make no apologies for being a huge fan, as this classic show is a wonderful example of how fiction can enrich everyday life – if you look a little deeper than the entertaining stories at the surface. So here are the best lessons I have learned from watching Doctor Who. I hope you enjoy them.
Never give up
In any season, there are numerous points where it would make sense for the Doctor to just give up the fight, regardless of the consequences of doing so. But he never does. Neither should you, however bleak things look.
Don’t be afraid to be different
The Doctor’s fashion sense has been the topic of discussion for years. From huge scarves, to decorative celery, and then on to the current Doctor’s love of bow-ties, the Doctor is certainly not afraid to stand out. In doing so, and being utterly confident in it, he becomes - in his own words - cool.
Following orders is no excuse
This lesson is one of the darker ones, but it comes up often enough for it to be worth mentioning. In his fights to save whatever the current focus is, the Doctor often comes across people who have done awful things for exactly this reason. He is never impressed by it. Think about what you’re doing and the reasons behind it. If it feels wrong, it probably is.
You need a friend
The world – indeed, the universe, at least in the case of the Doctor – is too big and much too frightening to be faced alone. While there have been the odd occasions the Doctor is without a companion, they never not last very long. He knows the dangers of loneliness, and most of his companions come to understand something of these dangers, too.
Life is complicated
This one is fairly self-explanatory, but the Doctor’s attempts at describing life to his companions can be truly insightful. Don’t try to over-simplify your problems. Life is huge and messy and complicated. Rejoice in it!
This trait lies at the heart of the Doctor’s personality. He is endlessly curious about everything, and is never afraid to try something new. It leads to all sorts of adventures, and this can be true for anyone, even those of us who lack the ability to journey through time and space.
The Doctor is often very scathing when people try to dismiss others. He knows that everyone is important, and everyone deserves a chance at a better life. This is something I believe more people should be aware of, as it will help them to be more aware of the effects their actions have.
Another core principle of the show, and a line which is repeated over several of the more recent episodes. It ties in to the ‘everyone matters’ point, as you should never take anyone for granted. You never know when they might not be around anymore.
Violence is never the best answer
The Doctor is unashamedly anti-violence. While he fights armies and corporations (and anything else he feels he should) almost constantly, he usually defeats them without actually attacking them directly. This does not always happen, but when the Doctor starts being violent, something is very wrong. Thinking your way around problems, rather than being aggressive, is a much better solution most of the time.
Secrets can be necessary
Given the show’s title, this one is a little obvious. People have been wondering about the Doctor’s true name for years – a debate only stirred up by the Season 7 finale. His companions are forced to keep secrets simply by being his companions. Remembering that you don’t have to tell everyone everything can be very important.
You don’t need to know everything
The Doctor is always willing to admit if he doesn’t know something. He usually manages to figure it out by the end of the episode, but that doesn’t change the fact that he admits it. Don’t pretend to know more than you do. It almost always backfires.
You don’t always need a plan
One of the guiding traits of the modern series is that the Doctor very rarely seems to know what he is doing. He has a vague idea of the outcome he wants, and does whatever seems best at the time to get to it. Being adaptable is an important trait, and shouldn’t be overlooked.
Never assume something’s impossible
The Doctor is a self-admitted optimist. He does the apparently impossible on a regular basis. But this isn’t just true of the Doctor – it happens in reality, too. A few decades ago, the internet and mobile phones were impossible, and yet now they are a part of everyday life. Always be willing to push the boundaries.
It’s ok to run away sometimes
In fact, the Doctor and his companions spend a great deal of time running away from things. It is worth remembering that some things just cannot be faced head on. Running away and regrouping can be the only way forward occasionally.
I’m sure that there are many more lessons which can be taken from this show, but these are the core ones that I have found. Enjoy finding your own, and I don’t doubt that the next season will add even more to the list.