Today marks the 72nd birthday of one the greatest, most under-appreciated science fiction actors in the history of the form: Sylvester McCoy. Coming in at the tail end of the classic era of Doctor Who, McCoy managed to completely reinvent the role of the Doctor, adding a sense of mystery and gravitas to the character not seen in years. After the series was canceled (imagine that), he still acted as a brand ambassador for the show. Eventually, he reprised his role as the Doctor in the 1996 telemovie starring Paul McGann and in over 60 audio dramas for Big Finish Productions. His Doctor has also featured in innumerable comic books and novels. Oh, and did we mention he was in The Hobbit?
Here are ten fan-favorite quotes from McCoy’s time as the Doctor
Every great decision creates ripples, like a huge boulder dropped in a lake. The ripples merge and rebound off the banks in unforeseeable ways. The heavier the decision, the larger the waves, the more uncertain the consequences. -“Remembrance of the Daleks”
In one of the great speeches of Doctor Who, the Doctor ponders the nature of his actions. From the smallest action to life changing events, everything makes a difference.
9) Think about me when you’re living your life one day after another, all in a neat pattern. Think about the homeless traveler and his old police box, with his days like crazy paving. -“Dragonfire”
In his first season, McCoy played up the comedy. By season’s end, a little more pathos crept into his performance. This comes from his goodbye to his companion Mel, though bits of the scene were originally written as part of his audition speech.
8) Subject for catalogue: file under “imagination, comma, lack of”. -“Ghost Light”
McCoy’s Doctor was more hands off than most. Rather than fiddling about with gadgets, he tended to talk to his adversaries. Here, he has just confused an alien force bent on destroying all life.
7) Anybody remotely interesting is mad in some way. -“The Greatest Show in the Galaxy”
A good personal credo and description of the whole series wrapped in one.
6) I could be in the future, that is my personal future. -“Battlefield”
McCoy’s stories played with the notion that the Doctor had set certain events in motion since leaving Gallifrey. Here he finds that there are still games yet to play. Wibbly wobbly, timey wimey.
5) If we fight like animals, we die like animals! -“Survival”
The final battle between the Master and the Doctor. Of course not. But it provides an epic farewell to Anthony Ainley, who’d played the Master for eight years.
4) Crush the lesser races! Conquer the galaxy! Unimaginable power! Unlimited rice pudding! Et cetera! Et cetera! -“Remembrance of the Daleks”
Taking the mickey out of Davros never ends well. Except here where the Doctor goads Davros into blowing up Skaro!
3) There are worlds out there where the sky is burning, and the sea’s asleep, and the rivers dream; people made of smoke and cities made of song. Somewhere there’s danger, somewhere there’s injustice, and somewhere else the tea’s getting cold. Come on, Ace. We’ve got work to do. -“Survival”
The final scene in McCoy’s last episode, this was the last bit of Doctor Who fans had for years. Mysterious, poetic, and funny. This is the McCoy era in a nutshell.
2) Why don’t you do it then? Look me in the eye. Pull the trigger. End my life.-“The Happiness Patrol”
The Doctor talking two snipers out of their jobs and guns. It’s a much different prospect when the target is right in front of you. McCoy, simmering with rage, is at his finest in this scene.
1) I can’t stand burnt toast. I loathe bus stations. Terrible places. Full of lost luggage and lost souls. […] And then there’s unrequited love. And tyranny. And cruelty. […] We all have a universe of our own terrors to face. -“Ghost Light”
What the Doctor hates. There’s more emotion contained in this scene than anything since 1967. This is where modern Doctor Who truly begins.