The many dastardly faces of The Master, the gentleman of crime, the zombie, the dandy, the drama queen, the mad professor, the lunatic who made PM and the Mary Poppins from hell!
The Master is the Doctors archenemy. He is a time lord like the Doctor. He has his own TARDIS and also has the ability to regenerate like the Doctor too which has allowed him to be played by multiple actors and one actress over the years. In this article I will be looking at the character overall, his creation, his relationship with the Doctor, his list of victims and how he has changed over the years.
An Educational video.
I guarantee you will be tapping your fingers randomly for no reason at all for weeks after hearing this.
Creation, Character Overview
Barry Letts and Terrence Dicks the creators of The Master.
The Master was created by producer Barry Letts and script editor Terrence Dicks, though he was introduced by acclaimed Doctor Who writer Robert Holmes in the story “Terror of the Autons”. Dicks has credited Robert Holmes with creating a lot of the Masters main characteristics and traits including his hypnotic powers and his shrinking ray.
Letts and Dicks invented the Master because they felt that the Doctor needed a “Moriarty” figure. Letts said that the Doctor was comparable to Sherlock Holmes, the smart, eccentric, somewhat aloof hero, whilst the Brigadier his sidekick at that time was also comparable to John Watson. Thus the only thing that the Doctor lacked was a real Moriarty figure. A foe who was a time lord and his equal in every way.
It should be said that the Master was not the first attempt to give the Doctor an enemy who was a member of his own race. The First Doctor had faced the Meddling Monk, but he was more of a bumbling oaf than a true figure of evil. The Second Doctor meanwhile faced the War Chief in his final story “The War Games”.
The Master however would ultimately prove to have more staying power than either of those previous villains. Some fans have argued however that both the Monk and the War Chief were in fact earlier incarnations of the Master who went by different titles. This has never been conformed in official canon though and spin off material of debatable canonicity has made it clear they are three different characters.
For years there was a rumour that Letts had intended to make the Doctors time lord nemesis a woman named the Controller, but this was not true. The character was always intended to be a man, though ironically not only would the Doctor get a female Time Lord nemesis in the shape of the Rani, but the latest incarnation of the Master, Missy was female.
The Master was played originally by Roger Delgado, whom the role had been written for and who had made three previous attempts to break into Doctor Who. Delgado had been a very close friend of Jon Pertwee who played the Third and then current Doctor which would help make the Doctor and the Master seem at times despite the severity of their feud more frenemies. The Master proved popular and would make many appearances (8 in total including in every story of season 8 his debut season) until Roger Delgado’s tragic death in a car accident in 1973 at the age of just 55.
Roger Delgado the first on screen Master.
The Master would be retired from the series after this for a number of years. Jon Pertwee said that he wouldn’t feel comfortable acting alongside another actor as the Master and indeed Delgado’s death was actually one of the factors that convinced him to leave the role of The Doctor.
The Master eventually returned to the series 3 years after Delgado’s death. Here he was played by actor Peter Pratt. This version of the Master was portrayed as a hideously deformed Phantom of the Opera style villain.
The second on screen version of The Master
It was never explained what had happened to the Master to make him like this, but it was established that he had used all of his regenerations and was now on his final life. Whilst the previous Master had sought to control the entire universe itself this Master merely wanted to try and find a way to prolong his own life, albeit at any cost. His feud with the Doctor whom he now blamed for making him waste all of his lives was also much more intense.
When the Burned Master next appeared another 3 years later he was played by Geoffrey Beevers.
The second deformed Master
The Master, just before his final regeneration ran out, managed to steal the body of a man named Tremas. Tremas was the father of the Doctors companion Nyssa. He was played by actor Anthony Ainley who subsequently took over the role of the Master. Ainley had been a friend of then current Doctor Tom Baker. Tom had in fact lived with Ainley’s bother for many years before he won the role of the Doctor.
The Master had been brought back to the series on the insistence of then producer John Nathan Turner who wanted to restore him to being the main villain of the franchise. Turner later said that it was one of the things he was most proud of bringing the Master so successfully back to the show.
Ainley’s Master would murder the 4th Doctor in the story Logopolis.
Ainley apparently joked to Tom that out of all the actors they could bring in to kill his Doctor off they chose him his old friend. The Ainley Master would continue to make many guest appearances throughout the remainder of the original series run, with Ainley subsequently going on to play the role longer than any other actor and across more stories too, 11 in total.
Ainley’s final appearance on television as the character was in the last ever story of the classic era Survival. This is often regarded as his greatest performance in the role as he was apparently given more freedom when playing the character in this story and was able to make the character calmer and much darker.
Anthony Ainley the fourth actor to play the Master.
Ainely would later go on to reprise the role for the video game The Destiny of the Doctors.
The Master returned as the main villain in the 1996 Doctor Who tv movie. Here it was revealed that the Master had been exterminated by the Daleks. His mind however manages to survive as a disembodied snake like creature and later takes over the body of a human named Bruce played by Eric Roberts who thus takes over the role of the Master.
Eric Roberts as The Master in the 96 movie
The end of the 96 movie sees the Master finally perish after he attempts to steal the Doctors remaining regenerations.
Despite this the character would return in the 2005 revival as the main antagonist of its third series.
Here it was revealed that the Master had been brought back to life by the time lords to help them fight the Daleks in the time war. The Master once again proved to be no match for The Daleks and fled to the end of the universe.
There he transformed himself into a human being physically and mentally called Professor Yana. He did this in order to prevent the Time Lords and the Daleks from finding him. The Master’s real mind is stored in a fob watch, which if Yana opens will transform him back into the Master.
The Doctor later lands on the planet Yana is living on and it is his companion Martha Jones that causes Yana to open the watch turning back him into the Master.
The Yana incarnation of the Master was played by Sir Derek Jacobi. The Masters return was foreshadowed earlier in series 3, when the enigmatic face of Boe gives the Doctor, who believed himself to be the last of the time lords at that point after the time war a cryptic warning. “You Are Not Alone”
The Master reborn!
The Yana incarnation of the Master does not last long and soon regenerates after he is shot by Yana’s assistant Chantho right after the Master mortally wounded her. The Master had been granted a new regeneration cycle by the time lords when they brought him back and thus he is able to regenerate into a younger form played by John Simm.
The Master regenerates on screen for the first time
The John Simm version of the Master would go on to become a major enemy of the Tenth Doctor. He was very different to his predecessors. Where as the Master had been portrayed by and large as a more calm, scheming and cold villain in the original series, Simm’s Master was shown to be a complete and utter psychopath relishing in torturing and killing innocent people. Despite this however in his final story which was also David Tennant’s final story as the Doctor, The End of Time. The Master seemingly redeemed himself when he sacrificed himself to destroy Rassilon and saved The Doctors life.
The John Simm Master who managed despite being completely insane to become the Prime Minister. To be fair its not the first time we have elected a lunatic. I also doubt he imposed the bedroom or the poll tax.
After The End of Time, the Master vanished from Doctor Who for many years. He did not appear at all during the 11th Doctor, Matt Smith’s era. This makes the 11th Doctor one of only three Doctors never to face the Master on screen with the other two being the 9th Doctor, Christopher Eccelston and the War Doctor John Hurt.
Though the Master was introduced after the first and the second Doctors era’s he still encountered them in the 20th anniversary story The Five Doctors.
The Master however finally returned in 2014 in the first season of Peter Capaldi’s era. Here the Master was played by Michelle Gomez, marking the first time a woman played the character. This also marked the first time on screen that a time lord was shown to change gender as a result of regeneration.
Michelle Gomez as the Mistress aka Missy.
Naturally there was some controversy over the decision to cast a woman in the role of a formerly male character, but Gomez’s performance by and large was very well received by critics, and it has been conformed that the Mistress will return the next season.
Whilst the Doctor has had many other time lord enemies over the years including the Rani, Rassilon, Omega and Morbius, the Master still remains the most iconic and enduring and is arguably the Doctors main foe.
Its hard to say who is the Doctors main enemy the Master or the Daleks. The Daleks are certainly the most popular and iconic, whilst the Master is more of a classical nemesis to the Doctor. He is the Doctors dark twin, the road not taken. There are many archenemies who reach the top of their heroes rogues gallery because they are the most popular like the Joker and Lex Luthor and then there are those who reach the top because they were always intended too like Moriarty. I suppose a good comparison would be that the Daleks are like The Joker, the most popular and iconic villain that everyone knows who has inflicted the most pain on the hero, whilst the Master is the Ra’s Al Ghul the enemy who is actually more of a match for the hero, but who is introduced later and represents the dark side of the hero more.
The Masters Personality
Borusa/ You are one of the most evil and corrupt beings this time lord race has ever produced. Your crimes are without number and your villainy is without end.
The Master/ I shall have supreme power over the universe. MASTER OF ALL MATTER!
Captain Jack/ How did the noble society of Time Lords produce this psychopath.
The Master’s personality much like the Doctor’s has changed dramatically over the years due to the process of regeneration. Whenever a Time Lord regenerates remember its not just their body that changes, but their personality too.
However the changes in personality are only really superficial. A Time lords core personality always remains consistent. The Doctor himself for instance has always remained underneath his many different persona’s the same hero with the same values and ideals.
Thus the Master core personality has also remained consistent across his/her many different regenerations, though obviously the Master’s core personality is rather different to the Doctors.
One of the Masters defining traits is his ruthlessness. In all of his incarnations he has been shown to be willing to murder anyone, men, women, children and even infants for the sake of his plans.
He considers all other life forms beneath him from human beings to Cybermen to even fellow Time Lords. In The Deadly Assassin the Master is shown to be prepared to sacrifice all of Gallifrey as well as billions of other planets and species across the universe just to save his own miserable neck.
The Masters vanity and pride was another defining aspect of his personality. He actually considers himself superior to beings like the Rani, the Daleks (despite the fact that they always bested him whenever they faced) and even The Doctor himself.
The Master however was more than simply ruthless or cold. He was also outright sadistic and could even be described as savage in many of his incarnations.
Often the Master enjoyed targeting more helpless, vulnerable victims such as Teegan’s elderly Aunt in Logopolis, Osgood a young twenty something fan of the Doctor, and Chantho. In all three of these occasions the Master enjoyed making his victims scared first before brutally murdering them.
He laughed at Teegan’s Aunt as she begged for mercy before he gunned her down in cold blood. When murdering Chantho he taunted her, made her scared, cornered her and also told her that his human counterpart Yana whom Chantho had been in love with had despised her. Before Missy murdered Osgood she cruelly taunted her by telling her how many seconds she had left to live and even counted down. When Osgood asked her why she would want to kill her Missy simply responded that she could.
On one occasion the Master actually ate a young girls pet cat alive in front of her just to upset her!
An example of the Master bringing his victims to the very limit of their terror before brutally killing them.
The Master also demonstrated a degree of sexual sadism across many of his different incarnations as he rather disturbingly was shown to get off on hurting and even killing people like Chang, Osgood, Captain Jack Harkness, Martha Jones and possibly the Doctor himself.
The Fourth Doctor once described the Master as being someone who would delay an execution just to pull the wings off a fly.
The Mistress murders Osgood in cold blood.
The Master was also petty and vengeful too. He often went out of his way to make his enemies suffer the Doctor most of all.
When wanting to gain access to the eye of Harmony the only thing that could save his life the Master still chose the Doctor to use in his plan. Even though doing so was a huge risk the Master still wished to use the Doctor simply because he wanted to see the Doctor die in ignominy and shame. The Master when in his burned and emaciated form once said that the only reason he continued to live in such unbelievable agony was his hatred of the Doctor. He could simply not die until he had made the Doctor suffer.
On another occasion the Master attempted to not just simply kill The Doctor, but erase all incarnations of him from time and space.
He would also often simply hurt and even kill people who were close to the Doctor in order to hurt him.
The second the Mistress saw that the Doctor was fond of Osgood she decided to end her life. She also later attempted to murder Kate Lethbridge Stewart the daughter of the Doctors oldest and dearest friend Brigadier Alistair Gordon Lethbridge Stewart to hurt him too. The Master also took a delight in torturing Martha Jones’s a friend of The Doctors family and in torturing Captain Jack Harkness, another good friend of his to death over and over again.
On one occasion the Master attempted to provoke a war between two intelligent races The Sea Devils and humanity, a war that would have killed billions of innocent people and wiped out both species as well as destroyed the whole planet earth; just to spite the Doctor as the Doctor was fond of both races.
The Master was often fond of gloating over his victims deaths as well. When he believed he had killed the 7th Doctor he laughed at his apparent corpse. When he stabbed Karra in front of her friend Ace, he laughed at both Karra as she lay there bleeding to death. The Master was also shown to laugh at the Cyberleader after it had fallen for his trap an action which caused Teegan The Doctors companion to remark “Ruthless even for you”. After the Mistress killed Osgood she crushed her glasses under her boot heel and left them for the Doctor to find. She also lied to The Doctor telling him that Osgood had been scared when she died too.
Arguably the Master’s defining trait however was the way he enjoyed manipulating people.
The Master often had to manipulate people for the sake of his plans, but on many occasions he was just shown to enjoy twisting the minds of those stupid or desperate enough to trust him.
He once again often demonstrated a predatory nature the way he often enjoyed preying on people who were vulnerable such as Chang, a young man whom he was able to convince help him by appearing as a fatherly figure to him. Chang had had no family or anyone who had ever cared for him his entire life. The Master enjoyed taking advantage of this telling Chang that he was like the son he never had, before ultimately disposing of him.
The Master often took a perverse pleasure in getting people to not only trust him, but even love him before cruelly mistreating and dispatching them.
Arguably the most prominent example of this was his wife Lucy Saxon. The Master managed to get Lucy to fall in love with him, but from then on he enjoyed breaking her down in a number of ways. He took her to the end of the universe and showed her that human existence was pointless, and then tested her love for him by forcing her to take part in some of his more brutal schemes. Later after taking control of the earth the Master physically abused her, beating her regularly, he also enjoyed humiliating her, debasing her in front of his servants and even on one occasion forced her to sleep with his masseuse for his own enjoyment. The Master would often kiss Lucy simply because he knew how much it made her sick after his vile treatment of her over the course of the year he ruled over the earth.
Whilst the Master believed he had broken Lucy, ultimately this backfired on him as she later when the opportunity arose shot him dead and later managed to botch his attempted resurrection, albeit at the cost of her own life.
Just before she died Lucy had become so terrified of the Master that when his servants attempted to bring him back she burst into tears at the thought of him returning and hysterically pleaded with them not to bring him back.
The Master was shown to be capable of manipulating entire societies to his will, often being able to play on their fears and prejudices for his own advantage.
He very nearly convinced both the Draconians and the earthlings to wipe each other out, whilst the latest female incarnation of the Master, Missy was able to dupe mankind into preserving their corpses which she used to create a new army of Cybermen from the dead, by convincing them that mankind after they died still remained aware and still felt pain.
The Master also had a penchant for disguises across all of his incarnations, even the latest female Master enjoyed pretending to be a robot when she first met the Doctor.
Ironically despite the Master’s ruthless and vicious nature he was also across all of his incarnations a pathetic, miserable coward too.
The Master in many ways was the definition of someone who could dish it out, but couldn’t take it.
On one occasion the Master pleaded with the Doctor to spare him, even getting on his hands and knees and sobbing and telling the Doctor “please Doctor I couldn’t bare it please”.
When The Sea Devils betrayed him and locked him and the Doctor in their base as it was about to explode the Master did not face his impending death with dignity. He screamed and pleaded with The Sea Devils to release him and was even mocked for his cowardice by the Doctor himself.
Later when he was in his burned form the Master was shown to try and gain access to the eye of Harmony, the only thing that could save his life. Unfortunately this would have also destroyed Gallifrey wiping the Time Lords his own race from existence as well as destroying billions of other planets across the entire universe. The Master however did not care at all, he was more than happy to do this just to save his own life.
The Doctor/ What a stupendous egotist. The Master. He’d have destroyed Gallifrey, the Time Lords, everything, just for the sake of his own survival.
The Doctor was later able to use the Masters own cowardice to defeat him. When the Master was opening the eye of Harmony the Doctor tricked him by telling him that the Sash of Rassilon, the only thing that would protect him from the planet being destroyed was damaged. The Master so terrified at the idea that his only attempt at survival might fail let his guard down and allowed the Doctor to overpower him.
The Doctor plays on the Masters cowardice in order to defeat him and save Gallifrey.
The Rani also mocks his cowardice too when one of their traps intended for the Doctor goes wrong and causes the death of an innocent person. The Master tries to convince The Doctor who is contemplating murdering him for this, that he did not mean that to happen only for the Rani to sneer in utter contempt “Don’t pretend you’ve got a conscience“.
When the 10th Doctor faces the Harold Saxon Master he is once again able to play on his cowardice to defeat him. The Master threatens to activate the black hole converters that will rip the entire planet earth apart. The Doctor however completely unscared states to him “You activate those converters and you kill yourself and that’s the one thing you can never do“. He called the Masters bluff ultimately forcing him to surrender.
Despite this however there were a few occasions where the Master’s intense hatred of the Doctor consumed him to the point where he overcame his fear of death. When battling the Eighth Doctor the Master refused the Doctors offer of help spitting back in his face “never” and willingly perished in the eye of Harmony rather than be rescued by him.
When the two were stuck on the Cheetah planet the Doctor managed to overcome his hatred of the Master long enough to try and find a way off of the burning planet, but the Master did not care and still tried to murder the Doctor by bashing his skull in with an animal bone.
As the planet erupts in flames the Master is still relentless in his desire to destroy his mortal enemy.
Finally the Harold Saxon Master refused to regenerate after being shot by Lucy Saxon as he decided he would rather die than be a prisoner of the Doctor. He also viewed his own death as a victory as it emotionally hurt the Doctor as it made the Doctor the last of his kind once again.
The Master overall was a pathetic, weasly, bully who enjoyed picking on lesser races and vulnerable people and the Doctor viewed him throughout their many battles with a mixture of utter contempt and pity.
Despite the many overwhelmingly evil aspects of his character however, the Master incredibly enough was not without some redeeming qualities.
The human being Professor Yana who was created from aspects of his personality was shown to be a kind hearted, affectionate and brave individual who always put the needs of others above his own and even formed a very deep and meaningful relationship with Chantho the last of the Malmooth. Sadly however Chantho became his first victim after Yana changed back into the Master.
Also despite his hatred for him it was hinted several times that the Master did still retain some affection for the Doctor as the two had once been very close friends when they were younger.
The most obvious example of this was when the Saxon Master sacrificed himself to save the Doctor. Though some fans have argued that the Master did not care about saving the Doctor, only in getting Rassilon.
It is worth noting however that the Master could have allowed Rassilon who was being sent back into the time war to die anyway to simply kill the Doctor, but he told the Doctor to get out of the way and for the first time ever demonstrated self awareness. He told Rassilon that he had made him into a monster, with it being Rassilon who had possibly corrupted him and thus led to his life time of villainy. For the first time it appeared that the Master actually regretted what he had become and demonstrated genuine bravery in fighting off Rassilon.
This is one of my favourite scenes in Doctor Who history. This is just so unexpected and I just love the look on the Doctors face. Even he cannot believe what the Master is doing.
Moments like these suggest that had things been different the Master may not have been the monster he was, which leads us to our next subject.
Why was the Master evil?
We may not know why he is evil, but he seems happy enough being evil at least.
The character of the Master much like the Doctor is portrayed as being a mysterious character. We know very little about his past and also like the Doctor we don’t even know his true name.
However unlike with the Doctor many have seen this as a drawback of the Masters character. As the Doctor is a heroic character we don’t need to know too much about his back story. We can accept that he is a good guy just because he is a good guy.
For a villain however I think you have to explain why they ended up the way they did. Just having it that they murder old grannies, eat cats, and blow up planets because they are evil is boring and quite frankly silly.
Thus over the years many writers have tried to give a different explanation as to why the Master ended up the way he did. Many of these explanations however are contradictory to one another. Still I suppose in this respect you can compare the Master to Batman’s archnemesis the Joker.
We still don’t know the Joker’s true name and though we know at the very least that he was driven insane when he fell into a vat of chemicals that scarred him we still don’t know the full circumstances around his descent into lunacy. Some sources state that he was a pathetic, failed comedian who was driven to the brink of sanity when his beloved wife perished in a tragic accident and was finally pushed over the edge when he was turned into a chalk faced ghoul.
Others state meanwhile that he was always a bloodthirsty psychopath, or that he was simply a small time crook before becoming the Joker.
The Master is the same, a villain with no name who has been given many contradictory origin stories and motives.
The Master believed his evil was for the greater good
The first Master played by Roger Delgado was a very different villain to his successors. He was a calm, charming villain who did not kill for no reason or on a whim. He only ever killed if he had too and also claimed that he did not enjoy having to murder anyone. He said that murder was a regrettable necessity for his plans.
The Delgado Master wished to gain power because he believed that under his rule things would be better. He believed that as their ruler, he would help races like humanity.
In the story Colony in Space the Master believes he has gained control of ultimate power and actually offers The Doctor a chance to join him. The Master tells the Doctor that he will use this power to bring an end to disease, war, inequality, prejudice, famine and create a perfect galaxy where all races can live together under his rule in harmony.
Though the Doctor believes that the Master would become corrupted by ultimate power, the Master himself nevertheless believes that he would rule benevolently and believes that all of the evil he does to gain control of planets like earth will be worth it in the end. His offer for the Doctor to join him and help him save the universe is genuine too.
This motivation for the Master helped to explain his actions during the Delgado years, but it was dropped almost entirely for later versions. Later Masters evil actions can not possibly be seen as being for any kind of greater good. The evil the Master commits in later stories is completely senseless.
Ace/ What’s he doing it for? Why? He’s escaped hasn’t he? He’s safe! What’s he still doing it for?
The Doctor/ Malice.
In later stories the Master even takes being called evil as a compliment and mentions that contrary to his plans to bring order he hopes to bring chaos and mayhem to the universe.
However this explanation could still stand at least for the earlier Masters. I personally always saw it like this. The Delgado Master does start out wanting to bring order to the universe, but gradually the more he fails and the more the evil he commits is for nothing the more it pushes him to the very edge of madness and he is finally pushed over the edge when he suffers the accident that transforms him from looking like this
into looking like this
That would probably drive anyone insane. I also feel that later Masters are driven even further into madness in their attempts to try and extend their lives and also their multiple deaths too. By the time we get to Simm and Gomez’s Master the character has mentally become a complete shell of his former self explaining their senseless cruelty like torturing Martha’s family compared to Delgado. This can also explain why later Doctors also view the later Masters with more pity than outright hatred as they feel that in many ways, the Master is no longer responsible for his actions any more.
The idea of the Master being obsessed with bringing order to the universe being the motivation behind his evil actions is also explored in the novel “The Dark Path”.
Here it is revealed that the Time Lords grew concerned with the Master’s (who at this point was known as Koschei) desire to bring order to the galaxy and planted a spy named Ailla to monitor him. Koschei fell in love with her. Unfortunately this backfired on the Time Lords. When Ailla died Koschei believing her to be a human (as she had tricked him into believing) went as far as to sacrifice a planet to bring her back. Later however when he discovered that she was a time lord and had thus just regenerated Koschei was driven insane at the idea he had killed a planet for nothing.
Ultimately the Second Doctor managed to imprison him in a black hole before he could take his vengeance which leads to the beginning of his feud with his former friend. From this point on Koschei would refer to himself as the Master.
The Master was Death’s servant
Death the Eternal who made The Master into the villain he became. Monsters are made by other monsters.
This origin of the Master is given in the Doctor Who Audio story “Master”. Here it is revealed that the Master and the Doctor as children were bullied by a boy named Torvic. Torvic’s bullying became so severe that he very nearly drowned the Master and in order to save his friends life the Doctor had to kill Torvic.
Unfortunately the Eternal, Death who was worshipped as a god on Gallifrey decided to make the Doctor her champion as a result of this. Had the Doctor become her champion then he would have been forced to commit pain and suffering across all of time and space in her name.
The Doctor however was able to get out of this by instead convincing Death to take his young friend that he had saved from Torvic as her champion. Death agreed and sadly the Doctors friend would be corrupted by Death becoming her champion. The Master!
For years the Doctors memory of this was wiped by Death, but later when he regained it in his 7th regeneration he was able to make a deal with Death to allow the Master to live as he would have done without her influence for 10 years. At the end of these 10 years the Doctor would be forced to kill him however.
Here we see that without Death’s influence the Master would have been a kind hearted, decent, quiet and shy person ironically. The Master later discovered that the Doctor had betrayed him when he was younger by suggesting him to be Death’s champion but he forgave the Doctor nonetheless.
Though the Doctor is able to get out of his deal with Death and prevent Death from ensnaring the Master. Once again it is hinted that Death will at some point take control of him a second time and that he will become the Master once more. If this origin can be considered canon then sadly it seems that the Doctor was unable to save his friend from being taken control of by Death a second time considering stories set after this see the Master return to being a villain.
This could explain why the Doctor views the Master in a more sympathetic light in New Who stories. Throughout his battles with him in the Classic era the Doctor viewed the Master with contempt as he had no memory of the deal he made with Death, but from the time of The 7th Doctors era on the Doctor remembers his role in turning his friend into a monster.
Thus the Doctors after 7 (who is the last of the classic era Doctors, with the story “Master” also taking place after the last story of the classic era Survival”) are aware that ironically they created the Master and therefore wish to try and help him as they know that in actual fact the Master is a decent person who doesn’t want to hurt any one, but is being forced to by Death.
The Master was driven insane by the drumming in his head
In the 2007 episode it is revealed that the Master was driven insane by a constant drumming in his head.
Time lords at the age of 8 are taken to an initiation ceremony where they are forced to stare into the untempered schism a hole in the very fabric of time and space. Here they see the whole of time and space, everything that ever was or ever shall be. It apparently inspires most of them to do great things.
Some however (including the Doctor) are so intimidated by it they flee.
The Master it is believed was driven insane when he looked into it. Some fans have argued that what it was that really drove the Master insane was seeing his future in the schism as a monster.
The possible origin of the Doctors greatest enemy
Apparently the Master heard a constant drumming in his head after he stared into the schism that tormented him and drove him mad.
The Master at various points throughout the 2007 series is shown to embrace the drumbeat viewing it as his call to war. At other points however he does seem tormented by them such as when he dies and the last words he says to the Doctor are will the drumming stop.
In the 2009/10 story The End of Time it is said that the drumming was in fact a signal implanted by Rassilon the founder of Time Lord society. Rassilon sent this signal through time and into the Masters head though the untempered shcism where it took the form of the 4 drum beat (the heart beat of a time lord). This signal would prove vital in freeing Rassilon from the time war itself.
When the Master discovered this he seemed to for the first time in his life to develop clarity and helped defeat Rassilon, blaming him for making him into a monster.
The Masters final words to Rassilon seemed to show that he himself believed that it was the drumming that had driven him down the path of villainy.
“You did this to me. All of my life. You MADE ME! ONE, TWO, THREE, FOUR!!!!!”
Incidentally many Whovians believe that The Drumming Song by Florence And The Machine was written about the Master as it is also about a lunatic who is driven insane by a drumming in his head.
Its worth noting that Florence Welch is a huge Doctor Who fan so its possible that this song is about the Master, though I have never read that it is anywhere I must say.
Which origin I prefer
Well I must say that I like the idea of the Master wanting to bring order to the universe the best. Roger Delgado is definitely my favourite Master. I wouldn’t say he is the best objectively.
All of the actors who have played the Master from Delgado to Gomez have been excellent. Objectively they are all as good as one another and they have all brought something new to the role, but personally for me Delgado was the definitive, so maybe that’s a reason as to why I prefer the motivation he had.
Still I think the main reason I preferred this explanation was because to me it ironically made the Master a more 3 dimensional villain.
I think that the idea of the Master seeking power to make a positive difference makes him quite a nice foil for the Doctor.
Both the Doctor and the Master unlike the rest of the time lords are not content to sit back and observe the rest of the universe. However where they differ is that the Doctor simply reacts to problems he stumbles upon.
If a planet is in danger he will help it, but that’s it. He will let not try and stamp his rule over other worlds for their own good. He will let other races make up their own minds and decide their own destiny. The Master however believes that it is no good just simply reacting to one problem on one planet at a time.
He believes that in order to truly help planets like earth he needs to take them over and make them a better place. In his mind a time lord like him would be a benevolent ruler. A time lord would have knowledge of the future and thus could avert disasters. A time lord could protect a planet like earth from invaders such as the Cybermen and the Daleks no problem. A time lord with its advanced intellect could cure diseases medical science couldn’t for thousands of years and end famine and wars and prejudice.
In the Master’s mind the Doctor is the villain. The Doctors allows millions of innocent people to be killed in wars, die of diseases like cancer that he could easily cure and allows disasters like the eruption of Pompei and both world wars to happen.
In some ways you can see where the Master is coming from. He believes that the Doctor and the time lords have knowledge that could help billions of worlds and that they should share it with them. Ultimately however its his own ego in believing that only he can help these little planets that drives him down the path of villainy.
I think the Doctor and the Masters relationship also made more sense when this was the Masters motivation. It explained why they had been friends in the first place as the two are on almost the same wavelength.
They both hate the stagnated society of time lords, they both break its rules, they both want to help others. However its just one tiny little difference in how they do things that makes them on the opposite ends of the spectrum.
Still it also does explain why they respect one another. In the Master’s mind the Doctor is almost there. If only he could see his bigger picture then he could make a real difference. Rather than stop one invasion he could make the earth a perfect society where it will be safe from all threats from beyond the stars forever. The Doctor meanwhile hopes that the Master will give up his desire to control and help people the way he does.
At the same time I think this also serves as quite a nice explanation for why the Master grows to despise the Doctor too. It is the Doctor in his mind that makes him a murderer. The Master thinks that if it weren’t for the Doctor then he would have brought peace and stability to the planets like the earth. Maybe he would have had to have done a few horrific things to take control of the earth, but it would have been worth it in the end.
However the Doctor kept foiling him at every turn and so by the time we get to the The Deadly Assassin the Master is on his last life and he knows that it was all for the nothing. All the killing and the misery he caused it was pointless.
The Master knows that he will only be remembered as a killer and a villain and again in his mind it is because of the Doctor who foiled his every scheme. Thus he wants the Doctor to die in ignominy and shame just like he was destined to. The Doctor went from being a potential ally to the man who had crushed all of his dreams for the Master.
At the same time I also feel that this take on the character makes the Master a more sympathetic character. Here he is someone who wanted to help others, but his own ego consumed him and dragged him down the path of villainy to the point where he ends up as a mere shell of his former self.
The other Masters even though they weren’t accountable for their actions, due to being driven down the path of villainy either by Death or the Drumming in their heads, I still nevertheless found it harder to sympathise with them because what they did was simply too terrible.
I think its also hard to have a villain who does things as unforgivably horrible as murdering Teegan’s aunt or Osgood appear in the show regularly because they undermine the Doctor’s status as a hero too.
The Master during the 5th Doctors era has slaughtered billions of planets, he murdered the Doctors 4th incarnation, he tortured one of his friends Adric almost to death, he killed Teegan Jovanka another friend of his’s aunt (and her only living relative who raised her!) and he also killed the step mother of his other friend Nyssa, killed and took over the body of her father and destroyed her entire planet, killing anyone she ever cared about, all of her friends, family and drove her entire species to extinction!
So naturally having a character who has done all of this pop up again and again completely and utterly undermines the Doctor as a hero simply because he is unable to avenge his friends like Adric, Nyssa, Teegan and even himself.
The Master just goes on completely unpunished for his crimes that include murdering children and multiple counts of fucking genocide. When I was younger and I watched the Ainley Masters stories on video, even though I always liked those stories and Ainleys performance. I nevertheless always wanted the Doctor to make the Master pay for what he had done to Nyssa and it was so frustrating that he never would.
Sadly I feel that the same problem applies to Missy. Missy has already murdered supporting character Osgood, turned Danny Pink into a Cybeman and turned The Brigadier, the Doctor’s oldest and dearest friend into a fucking Cyberman too!
Why hasn’t the Doctor killed her? Don’t say “but the Doctor is not a killer”, because he has killed hundreds of villains. Hell people have made whole videos about it. See for yourself.
If he is willing to blast stunt Dalek or Ice Warrior 4 then why the fuck wont he kill this cunt who has destroyed entire planets and eats cats!
The Daleks and the Cybermen are different. They are a race of villains. You can have them do unbelievably horrible things and then the Doctor destroys the Daleks and the Cybermen who do those terrible things at the end, but obviously as a race they continue to survive.
Like in Earthshock the Fifth Doctor blasts the fuck out of the Cyberleader who kills Adric, but obviously the Cybermen as a race will survive. Imagine if that one Cybereader had survived however and continued to plague the Doctor to this day. You’d be annoyed that the Doctor hadn’t avenged his friend.
Again you don’t run into this problem when the Master believes his evil is for a greater good as the Master isn’t just a monster that butchers people on a whim when he’s like that. In that characterisation the Master wouldn’t just zap a helpless old lady and laugh and gloat to The Doctor about it afterwards.
Look at Delgado’s interactions with Jo Grant. Jo Grant is essentially the Osgood of the 70’s. She is the young, sweet fan girl type of companion who completely idolizes the Doctor and ironically the Delgado Master is actually somewhat fond of her.
He only ever threatens her life when he has too. It is often hinted that the Master wouldn’t ever dream of hurting Jo unless he knew the Doctor had been beaten because he knows that if he did hurt her then the Doctor would finally kill him without a seconds hesitation. Again this is better for me than Capaldi actually standing in Osgood’s ashes and reacting like a sap to Missy her killer who butchered her for no reason and is laughing about it!
Think if Delgado had actually hurt Jo in any way here, Pertwee’s Doctor unlike that pansy Capaldi wouldn’t have Venusian Karatied his ass from here to Gallifrey?
At the same time whilst the greater good motivation doesn’t make the Master so horrible that he undermines the Doctor simply because the Doctor hasn’t snapped his neck, it also actually makes the Master more accountable for his actions and thus makes him more unsympathetic in the right way.
A lot of people have said they prefer the Death and Drums origins as they make the Master a more sympathetic character. However to me they make the Master duller as they absolve him of any of his evil actions.
Why did the Master kill Osgood? The drums did it or death did it. Why did the Master stab Kara to death in front of Ace? The drums or death did it. Why did the Master try and provoke a war between humanity and the Sea Devils? The drums or death did it. It’s a lame reason as to why the Master does what he does.
I have had enough of “I could have been a contender villains” I want bad guys who are actually accountable for what they do and that’s why I prefer the original take on the Master.
Here the Master is willing to kill people because in his own mind he views their lives as expendable. What does it matter if one person, a hundred or even millions die in order to save the world?
That’s more disturbing than a cartoonish lunatic that just kills puppies the idea that someone could come to view life as just being statistics and figures. As we know there are actually people who think like that in real life.
Of course again this is just my opinion and I am not saying that the later Masters are bad characters or villains by any stretch of the imagination. Survival which features one of the most unsympathetic and vicious portrayals of The Master is one of my favourite ever Doctor Who stories.
I just personally find the Delgado Masters original motive and characterisation to be more interesting.
I suppose you could try and rationalize all of the Masters different motivations and seemingly conflicting origins as being canon this way.
When the Master was young he stared into the untempered schism and heard the drumming. The drums tormented him throughout his childhood. They made him an outcast to his fellow time lords except for the Doctor. The Doctor as we know was already an outcast so they were each others only friends. Unfortunately however the two were also bullied which as we know led to the Doctor murdering one of their bullies and Death attempting to make him her champion.
Death however chose the young Koschei because Koschei was already unstable due to the drumming in his head and thus perhaps she felt she could mould him into being her champion better than the strong willed Doctor.
The Master being unaware of course that he was her champion tried to fight her influence. Unfortunately however Ailla’s betrayal crushed the last bit of good in him that was fighting Death’s influence. After this he gave into her, but he still had something of a conscience and tried to delude himself that his evil was for a greater good even though it clearly wasn’t.
By the time we get to the burned Master the character is driven completely insane due to whatever happens that burns him. This later leads to the completely insane Masters such as Ainley, Simm and Gomez. The Master being unaware of Death’s influence believes it is the drums that drove him mad in Simm’s time, but it was many factors. Once again this also explains the Doctors changing attitude towards the Master. When he encounters him as Delgado he has no idea that he is being controlled by Death. To him Delgado is just an arrogant asshole.
However by the time of Simm and Missy he knows that not only is the Master being controlled, but that it is his fault too. I guess in this respect I can understand Capaldi and Tennant’s reluctance to kill the Master compared to previous Doctors as in many ways they are responsible for his/her crimes and also to be fair the Master has had a pretty shit life too. As to why the Doctor never mentioned this, well its not going to be something he is going to mention to Clara, Martha, Jack and Kate after what the Master did to them is it? “Oh by the way it was me that made him into a lunatic!”
Between the drums, being stabbed in the back by Ailla and the Doctor, being burned, being exterminated by the Daleks, being eaten by the eye of harmony, and being controlled by death its no wonder Koschei ended up a complete maniac.
List of people the Master has killed
The Master/ I had estates. Do you remember my fathers land back home? Pastures of red grass, stretching far across the slopes of Mount Perdition. We used to run across those fields all day. Calling up at the sky. Look at us now.
The Doctor/ All that eloquence. But how many people have you killed?
The Doctor/ Today I honour the victims first. His, the Masters, the Daleks, all of the people who died because of my mercy.
The Doctor/ You want dominion over the living yet all you do is kill!
The Master/ Life is wasted on the living!!!
The Doctor/ Why have you done this. Why have you murdered that poor man’s family. That’s such senseless cruelty even for you.
The Master/ I assure you nothing I ever do to you is senseless.
The Master is a mass murderer on an unprecedented scale. Even when compared with other supervillains. The following is a complete list of people who the Master has killed directly or at least caused the death of.
This poor hapless man was shrunken by the Master using his trademark weapon the Tissue Compression Eliminator. His shrunken corpse was left in his own lunchbox by the Master as a calling card for the Doctor.
Professor George Phillips
He was hypnotized by the Master into becoming his servant. The Master later ordered him to try and kill the Doctor, but Phillips managed to break free, though he ultimately had to sacrifice himself to save the Doctors life by taking the brunt of an explosion meant for the Doctor.
The Master attempted to hypnotize him for his plans. When it did not work the Master later had him choked to death by a doll animated by the Nestene intelligence. Here’s the doll.
Who takes that home to give to their kids to play with anyway?
John’s son Rex was hypnotized into becoming the Masters servant against his will. When the Master was cornered by UNIT soldiers he hypnotised Rex to take his place in disguise as him where Rex was shot dead. Miss Farrell was left broken by both her husband and sons death at the Masters hands.
Those killed in the Auton invasion
The plastic flowers that were animated by the Nestene killed thousands of men, women and children across all of England on the Masters command by spraying plastic over their nose’s and mouths suffocating them to death.
The Master killed him by tricking him into sitting in a chair that was animated by the Nestene. The chair slowly smothered him to death.
Man on Deep Space Telescope
The Master brutally killed this passer by, by karate chopping him off of the edge of the building sending him plummeting to his death.
This man was killed by the Master as part of his plan.
He was killed by the Keller machine. The Keller machine was a weapon constructed by the Master that made its victims experience their worst fear. Linwood had a fear of rats and thus the Keller machine made him believe that he was being attacked and even being eaten alive by rats.
The Master killed him with the Keller machine, which made him believe that he was drowning as that was his greatest fear.
George Patrick Barnham
He was killed by the Master who ran him down deliberately as he escaped.
He was tricked into helping the Master who played on his patriotism by convincing him that there were enemy agents working against him.
Later after he had no further use for him the Master had him killed by Sea Devils.
The Master destroyed Atlantis killing the millions of people who lived there. Among those who died was Galleia with whom the Master had had a relationship.
He was stabbed in the back by the Master. He was not shown to regenerate afterwards. It is possible that the blade was coated in some kind of poison, similar to the poison that River used against the 11th Doctor that could prevent regeneration.
He was killed by the Master using the TCE and his body was left as a calling card for The Doctor to find.
Initially an ally of the Master, The Master did not mean to kill him. Goth was rigged up to the Matrix as was the Doctor and Goth was burned alive when the Master attempted to destroy the Doctor and caused an explosion. The Master knew that there would be a risk to Goth who pleaded with him not to. The Master however simply didn’t care. Goth’s body was burned to the point where he could not regenerate. His final words to the Master where “You fiend why did I trust you”.
The Master overpowered him and killed him with the TCE. His shrunken corpse was later found by the Doctor.
Those killed by the Eye of Harmony
When the Master opened the eye of Harmony in an attempt to rejuvinate himself he caused the deaths of millions of people on Gallifrey, men, women and children. Had the Doctor not managed to close it in time it would have ripped the entire planet of Gallifrey apart and destroyed billions of other worlds too.
The step mother of Nyssa the Doctors companion. Kassia was killed by the Master despite being his loyal servant for many years when he vaporised her completely in order to gain access to the power of Traken.
Another one of the Masters own servants that he turned on. When Neman failed to capture the Doctor, the Master tortured and humiliated him and then forced Tremas whom he had taken control of to kill him in order to torment the kind hearted Tremas.
He was killed when the Master took over his body. According to the Doctor his mind was completely destroyed when the Master took over his body.
Teegan Jovanka’s Aunt. The Master killed her for no reason with his TCE after first scaring her.
He was killed using the TCE as well. Both he and Vanessa’s corpses were stuffed in a car and left as calling cards for the Doctor to find.
The Master in an attempt to conquer this race ended up completely exterminating them. The Logopolitans were literally preventing the universe from dying. The universe had gone on long past the point where it should have died but the Logopolitans were preventing the entropy from consuming it. However the Master in his attempt to conquer them unknowingly prevented them from holding the entropy back resulting in it destroying all of Logopolis as well as trillions of other worlds. He had earlier killed many Logopolitans directly using the TCE.
Planets destroyed by the entropy
The Masters actions on Logopolis unleashed a massive wave of entropy which destroyed trillions of planets across the entire universe. Among those was Traken the home planet of Nyssa, making her the last of the Trakenites.
Nyssa/ The Master killed my Step Mother. Then my father and now the world I grew up in.
The Master showed no remorse for these actions and later attempted to turn it to his advantage. He managed to find a way to stop the Entropy from consuming more worlds (it would have eventually destroyed the entire universe) but said that he would only use it if all the races of the universe bowed down before him.
The Master/ People’s of the universe please attend carefully The message that follows is vital to the future of you all. The choice for you all is simple; a continued existence under my guidance or total annihilation.
The Fourth Doctor
The Master/ Killing you once was never enough for me Doctor how gratifying to do it three times over.
The Master killed the fourth incarnation of The Doctor by pushing him over the edge of a building causing him to plummet to his death.
This marked the first, but certainly not the last time the Master caused the death of an incarnation of the Doctor.
Geoffrey De Lacy
He was shot by a guard using a crossbow on the Masters orders.
Patrol of Cybermen
The Master was forced to work with a patrol of Cybermen whilst they were both trapped in the Death Zone on Gallifrey. He ultimately betrayed them however by leading them across a booby trap in the tower of Rassilon which killed all of them except for the Cyberleader.
After the death of his patrol at the Masters hands the Cyber Leader demanded that the Master show him how to get by the booby trap that had killed his team. The Master however managed to grab one of the guns from his platoon and shot the Cyber leader dead.
Though it was actually The Doctor who killed this shape shifting android it was still because of the Master. The Master had managed to take control of Kamelion’s mind and forced him to do horrible things against his will. Though Kamelion tried to fight his control it soon became apparent that the Master would always find a way to control him.
Thus in one of the few moments where he was still himself he begged the Doctor to shoot him and the Doctor regretfully obliged.
He accidently stepped on a trap laid by the Master and the Rani that transformed him into a tree. He still remained conscious as a tree and would so for the rest of his life.
Luke as a tree tries to prevent Peri from stepping on another of the Master and the Rani’s traps.
He was beaten to death by the students of his own survival class after they were hypnotised by the Master and his servant Midge to do so.
After failing to kill the Doctor the Master hypnotized Midge to kill himself.
The Master stabbed her to death when she attacked him in an attempt to save her friend Ace whom the Master had tried to kill.
The 7th Doctor
The Master caused the death of the 7th Doctor when he forced his TARDIS to land in the middle of a gang war. The Doctor was shot, but it was actually the human doctors (including his future companion Grace) unfamiliar with Time Lord physiology who actually killed him in an effort to save him. Still it was the Masters fault nevertheless.
He was killed when the Master took over his body in much the same way that Tremas was killed.
Upon possessing her husband the Master ruthlessly choked her to death for his own amusement.
The Master snapped his neck like a twig. He was later revived by the Eye of Harmony.
Dr Grace Holloway
The Master threw her over the edge of a balcony in the TARDIS where the fall killed her.Like Chang however she was revived by the TARDIS.
The Master taunted Chantho, tormenting her by telling her that Yana with whom she had been in love with despised her and then burned her to death with an electric cable.
On the Masters orders the toclafane sliced her to bits. They prolonged her agony and made her suffer for several minutes first much to the Masters amusement.
His Entire Cabinet
When the Master became Prime Minister he killed his entire cabinet using poison gas.
On the Masters orders the toclafane vaporized him into nothing.
Those killed during the year that never was
The Master ordered the Toclafanes to remove one tenth of the earth’s population during his initial attack. He then goes onto burn Japan killing every single person there. Japan’s population is 127.3 million. He also reduced Europe to nothing but a radioactive waste land. Europe’s population is 742.5 million. He is also shown to murder Tom Milligan directly.
Tom Milligan was ruthlessly gunned down by the Master whilst trying to defend Martha Jones.
Ultimately however all of this was undone when Captain Jack Harkness destroyed the paradox machine. The Toclafane where in fact human beings from the future, specifically at the very end of the universe. They were only able to kill their ancestors, the human beings of modern day thanks to the paradox machine that the Master had created. After it was destroyed however the Toclafane were transported back to the end of the universe where they perished and everything they had done in modern day including destroying Japan and Europe was erased from history.
Captain Jack Harkness
The best thing is I get to kill him again
Whenever Captain Jack Harkness dies he comes back to life instantly. He is effectively the man who can’t die.
Unfortunately whilst this has helped Jack save the world many times it proved to be a wet dream for a sadist like the Master.
The Master killed Jack over and over again during the year he held him prisoner.
He tortured him to death and inflicted every kind of death he could imagine on Captain Jack every day for an entire year!
Only two deaths were shown on screen however when he first shot him with his laser screwdriver and later when his men shot Jack after he tried to escape following a year of constant torture at the Masters hands.
Hot Dog Vendor
The Master drained her life force turning her into nothing but a skeleton. He also killed several homeless people in the same way.
Just about the only one in his long line of victims who thoroughly deserved it. Not only because he is a genocidal asshole, but also because he may have been responsible for the Master being evil. Thus this can be seen as a Frankenstein being destroyed by his own creation type of moment. The Master kills Rassilon by blasting him with his depleting life energy which he is able to harness as a weapon. It is unclear if it was just this incarnation of Rassilon that was killed or if the Masters actions killed him for good.
The Tenth Doctor
The Master caused the death of this incarnation of The Doctor, despite ironically also sacrificing himself to save him.
The Master had tampered with a radiation chamber and The Doctors friend Wilfred Mott had become trapped in. In order to prevent the radiation from poisoning Wilf, the Doctor was forced to go into another chamber and absorb it into his body which killed him and caused him to regenerate into his next incarnation.
He was vaporised by the Mistress after being made to say something nice by her first.
She too was vaporized by the Mistress. Missy crushed her glasses that were all that was left of her and left them for the Doctor to find to torment him. Missy also vaporised two UNIT guards just before she killed Osgood.
Vaporized by Missy whilst squeeing
Missy didn’t kill Danny Pink originally but she brought him along with all the other world’s dead back to life as Cybermen. Danny would later be forced to commit suicide when he along with all of the other Cybermen flew up into the earth’s atmosphere and burned themselves into nothing but dust.
Again she did not kill him originally, but she brought him back from the grave as a Cyberman and it can be assumed that he died along with all of the others. Granted its not said for sure, but I would prefer to think he did as its a pretty horrible thought that he is still out there as a Cyberman.
Overall it can be agreed that Death was right to choose the Master as her champion.
List of times the Master has been killed
The Rani/ I thought your latest scheme had seen the end of you.
The Master/ I am indestructible the whole universe knows that.
Missy/ I‘m a time lord, the one you left for dead Doctor. Didn’t you ever think I’d find my way back.
The Master like many supervillains benefits from Joker immunity. The simple fact that he is so popular and such a good foil for the hero means that he can simply never die. Even if we have seen him be irrevocably killed on screen with no possible way of escape, you can take it for granted that he somehow did. Below are a full list of times the Master has been killed.
- In The Deadly Assassin the Master is thrown into the eye of Harmony where he apparently dies. The end of the story however reveals that he has escaped though it is not revealed how.
- In The Keeper of Traken the Masters TARDIS is destroyed apparently with him in it. However once again we see that he has survived and has a spare TARDIS which he uses to trap Tremas before ultimately taking him over.
- In Castrovalva the Master is trapped by the people of Castrovalva who attempt to rip him apart. He is also left there as the society itself begins to fade into nothing.
- In Planet of Fire the Master is burned into nothing but a pile of ash on screen. When he next appears he is completely fine and simply says that he is indestructible. Many fans consider this an awful plothole. This was intended to be the characters final appearance originally, but he was simply brought back by popular demand.
- In The Mark of the Rani the Master and the Rani are left in her TARDIS as it is hurling through the vortex. A Tyrannosaurus Rex embryo that is kept by the Rani is not only let loose, but time spillage causes it to grow to full size. The T.Rex promptly devours both time lords.
- In Survival the Master is left on a planet as it burns. Though his death is never shown the Doctor is doubtful he survived.
- In the 96 movie it is established that the Master was at some point exterminated by the Daleks. They killed him by vaporizing his body into nothing but dust. The Master’s mind however survived in the form of a snake like creature which he later used to take over the body of Bruce.
- At the end of the 96 movie the Master is killed when he falls into the eye of harmony that vaporizes him into nothing. Unlike the others the Master did not escape this fate and this was genuinely the end of him, until the time lords brought him back to fight in the time war.
- The Yana incarnation of the Master was shot by Chantho after he mortally wounded her.
- The Harold Saxon incarnation of the Master was shot by Lucy Saxon his wife. Though he could have regenerated he outright refused. Stating he would rather die than be the Doctors prisoner. The Doctor later cremated his body. The Master however managed to survive by implanting his mind into a ring. His human followers later were able to produce a clone body for him and implant his mind within it. Unfortunately for the Master Lucy Saxon was able to botch this resurrection resulting in the masters new body being damaged.
- At some point the Master died again as when he next appeared he had regenerated into a female form.
- The Mistress was shot dead by a cyberconverted Brigadier Alistair Gordon Lethbridge Stewart. The blast seemingly vaporized her into nothing.
The Master’s weaponry and gadgets
Over the years the Master has used many strange gadgets and over the top weapons. Some of these weapons are specific to certain incarnations whilst others are associated with the character as a whole.
The Tissue Compression Eliminator
The Masters trademark weapon. The Tissue Compression Eliminator. This weapon killed its victims by shrinking them. The TCE would be used by the Master to let the Doctor know he was around. Often someone unimportant like Goodge would be killed by it and their shrunken corpse left as a calling card. The fourth Doctor described it as a particularly nasty way to go.
I also felt the TCE was in many ways comparable to smilex the Jokers trademark weapon that killed people by making them laugh themselves to death, leaving them with a hideous grin on their face afterwards. Both are unbelievably elaborate ways to die, that the villain uses to let the hero know they are in town. Despite their elaborate nature, both at times can be genuinely frightening.
One moment with the TCE that I always found effective was in the audio story The Light At The End of The Tunnel where the Doctor and Nyssa are trying to help a young man find his wife and 5 year old daughter. The Doctor later tells Nyssa that the dolls that she looked at earlier that were stuffed in the man’s daughters doll house upstairs were actually his missing wife and daughter’s corpses. Its just such a horrible moment when Nyssa realizes that she had been holding a child’s corpse in her hands.
The only problem with the TCE was that it unfortunately had something of a phallic shape which could lead to some moments of unintentional hilarity.
The Master’s TARDIS
Just like the Doctor the Master has his own time and space machine the TARDIS. The Master’s TARDIS it is implied is more advanced than the Doctors. Unlike the Doctors its outer appearance can change its shape. The Doctors used to be able to do this, but got stuck in the form of a police box in the first episode of the series.
The Master’s TARDIS whilst able to change its outer appearance would often look like a grandfather clock. I will never forget the image of the burned Masters face appearing on the grandfather clock. It scared me so much when I was younger. Even today I am always uneasy near a grandfather clock in case the Master is going to creep out of it.
In the story The Keeper of Traken it was revealed that the Master had two TARDIS’S. The other he disguised as a creature called the Melkur.
The Masters second TARDIS in disguise.
The Masters TARDIS in many ways helped to reinforce the idea of the Master being the Doctors dark twin as the Masters TARDIS is black on the inside whilst the Doctors in the classic Who was white.
Once again this weapon was meant to demonstrate how the Master was the Doctors dark twin as it was an obvious allusion to the Doctors trademark tool his sonic screwdriver.
There isn’t much to say about this weapon. I didn’t like it as much as the TCE as it just felt like more of a generic laser weapon.
Still it was quite cool the way the Master was able to use it to age the Doctor into an old man. The scene where he tortures the Doctor in front of Martha and Jack using the sonic screwdriver is definitely one of the Simm Masters best moments.
Missy’s desintigration device
Its best not to say something nice.
This weapon wielded by Missy was kind of like the TCE to me in that it was on the one hand unbelievably camp and kitsch yet quite menacing and effective too.
I suppose that has been the appeal of the Master and indeed may iconic villains is they fact that on the one hand they are quite camp and silly, but also quite menacing.
Fitting the Masters new feminine identity this weapon takes the form of a kind of lethal perfume that vaporizes its victims in a pink flash into nothing.
How many Masters have there been
The following information comes from spin off material as well as the television series itself.
This incarnation of the Master appeared in the 2007 episode The Sound of Drums in flashback as a child played by William Hughes. He was apparently driven insane as a child when he stared into the untempered schism and heard a constant drumming from that point onwards. Another source however states that his descent into villainy began when the Doctor convinced Death to make him her servant. He and the Doctor were friends for many years. Originally it was believed that they may have even been bothers, but this has since been disproven.
History of this incarnation is unknown.
History of this incarnation is unknown.
History of this incarnation is unknown.
History of this incarnation is unknown.
History of this incarnation is unknown.
History of this incarnation is unknown
History of this incarnation is unknown.
History of this incarnation is unknown.
History of this incarnation is unknown.
History of this incarnation is unknown.
History of this incarnation is unknown
This incarnation of the Master according to the novel The Dark Path was the first to become a villain. Prior to this the Master had simply been a renegade who had tried to help others across the universe much like The Doctor. Unfortunately a combination of his own lust for power, death’s influence, the drumming in his head tormenting him and the woman he loved’s betrayal crushed the last bit of good in him. This was also the first incarnation to go by the name of the Master. Prior to this he had gone by the name of Koschei. It is not known if all other incarnations went by this name. Some have even speculated that Koschei may have been his real name.
This version of the Master was also the first to appear on screen. Originally he was played by Roger Delgado who in contrast to many of his successors underplayed the character, bringing a refinement and certain likability to the character despite his villainous nature.
Now after Delgado was tragically killed when the Master next appeared he was a burnt out husk of a time lord played by Peter Pratt. On screen it was never said how he got like that, but in the novel Legacy of the Daleks it is established that Roger Delgado’s Master was the last incarnation of the Master and that he ended up in this form when Susan the Doctors grand daughter shot him with a Dalek super weapon that burned him. The Master survived but was left in his emaciated form.
Thus the burned Master is merely the Delgado Master scarred and mutiliated. He is not a new regeneration.
The Delgado Master looking worse for wear.
This also means that the Ainley Master is the same incarnation as the Delgado Master. The Burned Master does not regenerate into Ainley remember. He simply fuses his body with Tremas and takes it over. No actual regeneration has taken place and the Master even says as much in The Five Doctors.
This also means that the Eric Roberts Master is the same incarnation as Delgado too as once again when the Ainley Master is destroyed by the Daleks in the 96 movie then he does not regenerate into Roberts. His mind survives the destruction of his body and he simply takes over another human being.
Thus it is only when the Eric Roberts Master died that this incarnation finally met his end. The fact that all of these Masters are meant to be the one incarnation can explain somewhat why the Masters in the original series personality has remained the same in contrast to the Doctors. Whilst the Doctor did go though many regenerations and thus went though the actual changes in personality that happens as a result of regeneration, whilst the Master simply stole bodies.
This incarnation of the Master played by Alex Macqueen appears in the Big Finish audio stories. Now personally I consider Big Finish to be canon hence why I am including him here. I am not looking at him in great detail however as this article by and large is only about the Masters appearances on television. This incarnation of the time lords is the first of the Master’s second regeneration cycle after the time lords bring him back to fight in the time war.
15th Master, Yana
The second incarnation of the Master’s second regeneration cycle. I think you could also count his human counterpart Yana as being a seperate entity. After all he though he was created from the Masters personality he had a seperate mind.
This incarnation of the Master played by John Simm was completely different to his predecessors, but remember that he was a different regeneration to all of the Masters in the original series. If the Doctors personality should change as a result of regeneration then why shouldn’t the Masters?
For his 17th incarnation the Master decided to get in touch with his feminine side. This is the first female incarnation of the character. All of the previous incarnations were conformed to be male in the 96 movie. The circumstances as to how the Simm Master became Missy have not yet been revealed and it is possible that there were other Masters in between. It is also possible that the Master may not have regenerated into Missy, but that he may have stolen the body of someone like he did Bruce. I would have loved it if it were Romana the Doctor’s old time lady companion whose body he stole. It would make sense as after all the last time we saw him the Simm’s Masters body was so damaged it may not have been able to regenerate.
You just know when she says that she is the Master, the Doctor is thinking, not this cunt again! Why can’t he or now she just fuck off and die again, for good this time!
The Masters relationship with the Doctor
The Doctor/ His name is The Master he’s my sworn archenemy a fiend who glories in chaos and destruction.
The Master/ I have wasted all my lives because of you Doctor.
From the very beginning the Master was the Doctors enemy, but as already mentioned due to Delgado and Pertwee’s real life friendship the two were often portrayed more as frenemies in the early Pertwee years. They still had a great respect for one another and were often civil and polite in each others presence with the Doctor even commenting at the end of “Terror of the Autons” that he was looking forward to seeing his archfoe again.
Over they years however the Master’s obsession with the Doctor would become a lot more intense and petty. In “The Sea Devils” he attempts to provoke a war between humanity and the Sea Devils just to spite the Doctor, whilst in “The Deadly Assassin” the Master remarks that the only reason he remains alive in this state of perpetual agony is his hatred for his mortal enemy. The Master was also shown to have a fear of an all powerful god like Doctor looming over him in “The Mind of Evil”.
Despite this however it was clear from the beginning that there was something more to their relationship than just a feud. The Master at one point in “Colony in Space” genuinely offers the Doctor a chance to rule alongside him. Then there are the many occasions where the two give up perfect opportunities to murder one another, though there are other genuine attempts on each others lives. It is revealed in “The Sea Devils” that the two were once friends, but still many have suspected that there was more to it than even that.
The Anthony Ainley Master offers his opinion of all of the Doctors from the original series.
3/ Was the Master the Doctors brother?
Roger Delgado who played the first on screen incarnation of the Master came up with this idea. He felt that it explained why the Doctor and the Master two geniuses had been unable to kill each other.
Jon Pertwee was a fan of the idea and says in an old interview that is included on The Planet of The Spiders DVD that he felt it was the only logical explanation for their relationship.
Barry Letts one of the co-creators of the character of the Master was also a fan of the idea too. Surprisingly Terrence Dicks however the other co-creator of the character despised it. He said he preferred the idea of the Master and the Doctor being just friends as he said that you don’t choose who your family are, but you do choose who your friends are.
Nevertheless regardless of how Dicks felt the Master was originally going to be revealed to be The Doctors brother in Jon Pertwee’s proposed final story as the Doctor. The Final Game.
Apparently very little work had been done on the story before Roger Delgado was tragically killed in a car accident after which it was scrapped and replaced by Planet of the Spiders as Pertwee’s swansong.
Still it is known that the story would have revealed that the Master was the Doctors brother and at the end of the story the Master would have redeemed himself by saving the Doctor at the cost of his own life. The idea of Tthe Master sacrificing himself to save the Doctor would be revisited in David Tennant’s final story The End of Time.
The idea of the Doctor and the Master being brothers would be dropped from the show again until the 5th Doctors era in the story Planet of Fire. In this story as the Doctor leaves the Master to burn to death the Master pleads with The Doctor just before he dies “wont you show mercy to your own” before he can finish however he burns to death.
According to the producer of the story John Nathan Turner the last word was going to be “brother”. Ultimately however at the last moment Turner cut the word brother out as he felt that it was better to leave the true nature of their relationship open to interpretation. Still it is worth noting that the Master was very nearly revealed to be the Doctors brother in Planet of Fire, and it is still hinted at in the finished story, with the story also involving the conflict between the Doctors companion Turlough and his brother. John Nathan Turner has said that he always personally considered them to be brothers
However ultimately the idea of the two time lords being brothers would be wiped from canon in the revival. In the story The Sound of Drums the Doctor states firmly to his companion Martha Jones that the Master is not his brother and even mocks her suggestion that he was “You’ve been watching too much tv”.
Finally in the Masters most recent appearance the idea of them being brothers was finally scrubbed from canon once and for all when we had the Doctor and the Master who had now regenerated into a woman share a number of passionate kisses with one another.
Its pretty sick to still think of them as brothers after this.
Was the Master a physical representation of The Doctors darkside
One of the earliest ideas for The Final Game, Delgado’s last appearance as the Master was that the Master was created from the Doctors dark side and thus he was technically him. Ultimately however this idea was dropped in favour of the idea of them being brothers. It would later be revisited in Logopolis however. In this story the Doctor encounters another specteral being created from his personality called The Watcher.
Apparently it was originally going to be suggested that the Master like the Watcher had been created from his personality in the same way. Though this idea was cut down in the finished script there is still one line where the Doctor states that he and the Master have the same mind that hints at this.
Most recently this idea was referenced in Missy’s first appearance where she remarks that she likes the Doctors new accent and that she might keep it.
Was the Master infatuated with the Doctor
This was an idea that had been proposed by the fans for many years. It really gained a footing during the 80’s that the Master had romantic feelings for the Doctor.
Two of the biggest supporters of the Doctor/Master being infatuated with one another were Paul Cornell and Steven Moffat two writers of the new series.
Prior to the new series Steven Moffat wrote a parody called “The Curse of Fatal Death” in which the Master played by Jonathan Pryce elopes with a female Doctor played by Joanna Lumley.
Still despite this there was no actual sexual tension between the Doctor and the Master throughout the entirety of Classic Who.
The idea of them having any kind of romantic feelings for one another didn’t actually make its way into the series until Russell T Davies’s era, which at the same time also rubbished the idea that they were brothers, probably no doubt to make way for the romantic and sexual tension between the two characters. In “The End of Time” the Master and the Doctor even at one point comment on how they don’t know what they would do without one another, Russell T Davies also referred to them as soul mates and also even said in an issue of Doctor Who magazine that the reason the Master didn’t kill the Doctor when he held him prisoner for a year in “The Last of the Time Lords” was because he loves him.
Steven Moffat would take this one step further when he had the female Master grab and kiss the Doctor and then kiss his nose several times. Michelle Gomez who played her said that it was hell for Missy having to pull away from kissing her mortal enemy. In the following episode “Death in Heaven” The Doctor actually initiates a kiss with Missy. These scenes seemingly conform that there is at least some romantic aspect to the Master/Doctor relationship though whether or not that is the driving force behind it is still up for debate but it seems the most likely explanation following the revelations in “Death in Heaven”.
5/ Which interpretation do I prefer
Personally I like the idea of them being brothers the best. Fandom I think has come to look down on that idea because they think it is a cliche.
However in all fairness the idea of the villain lusting after the hero, or the villain and the hero having a gay subtext is 1000000000000 times the cliche the warring brothers idea is. Callisto, the Joker, Moriarty from Sherlock, Faith they all have a gay subtext with their mortal enemies.
Also I feel that making it that the Master is in love with the Doctor defeats the point of the character. The Master is meant to be The Doctors archenemy. He hates him more than any one else in the universe so suddenly after 40 years having that “oh no wait he loves him” is really a betrayal of the character. There was never any hint of romance between the Doctor and the Master for the entirety of classic who to suddenly stick it in in the new series to me is just too jarring.
It also I hate to say feels like a parody of the character too. Its literally like a childish joke “Oh Master why are you so obsessed with the Doctor is he your boyfriend”.
The brothers idea meanwhile makes sense. It explains why they are so alike a they both clearly had a similar upbringing.
I also never liked the idea that they were just friends. It didn’t make any sense. Why would the Doctor still care about someone he used to play football with when he was 7? Would you care about someone that you played football with when you were 7 if they grew up to be a mass murdering psychopath? Would you put them above the friends you have now?
Of course not and I can’t honestly believe that Terrence Dicks preferred that interpretation to the brother one. He says he prefers the friend idea because you don’t choose your family unlike your friends.
Thing is why the fuck does he want the Doctor to choose the Master to be his friend? You’ve seen the list of people the Master’s killed why on earth would he possibly want to be friends with someone like that!
He is supposed to be the hero remember. Rule 1 of heroes they don’t have mass murdering, sadistic psychopath’s as their friends.
If anything making the Master the Doctors brother gets that idea of you don’t choose your family better than anything else. I think its safe to say that if the Doctor could choose his brother then he wouldn’t choose that murdering cunt.
I much prefer it in Planet of Fire where the Doctor murders the Master his brother in order to save innocent people including his friends Peri and Turlough. What gets the idea of choosing you friends better than that? The Doctor ultimately chooses them over his family the Master because they deserve his friendship and the Master doesn’t.
Also once again I think the friend thing undermines The Doctors status as a hero.
Tell me what seems more heroic? the Doctor in Planet of Fire who kills his own brother, possibly Susan aside his only family left in the whole universe in order to avenge his friends like Nyssa and spare anyone else from the Master’s cruelty and evil?
Or The Doctor in New series stories like The Sound of Drums and Death in Heaven who in some ways puts the Master a friend he had when he was 5 and who is a complete fucking asshole in every conceivable way above friends like Osgood and Martha Jones and Captain Jack and the Brigadier good decent people who have all gone through absolute hell for him and saved his life dozens of times. I mean hey he doesn’t snap Missy’s neck after she kills Osgood and gloats over it which he really fucking should have done simply because Missy was once his friend. He doesn’t kill her when she seemingly murders Kate who is not only his friend, but the daughter of his actual best friend the Brigadier.
Also in The Sound of Drums he actually cries over the Masters corpse in front of Martha whose family the Master spent a year torturing and Captain Jack who he did god knows what to for a whole fucking year. That would be like me crying at Hitlers death in front of a group of Auschwitz survivors because I used to play tennis with Hitler when we were at College together.
It makes the Doctor look like a disloyal dick to people like the Brig and Osgood and Martha who all deserve his loyalty, but loyal to someone like the Master who he should have fucking killed years ago!
The brother idea is obviously a better take on their relationship in my opinion. You can only have the hero and the villain in my opinion still be friends in some ways if the villain is still somewhat sympathetic. Magneto and Professor Xavier are obviously a good example of this as Magneto is not like the Master. He is a far more sympathetic character so therefore we can see why Professor X might still have some loyalty to him.
I suppose the friend idea did work better when Dicks was writing the character during the Delgado years and the Master much like Magneto was more a well meaning extremist. However sadly as the character has been transformed into a completely evil, vicious psychopath who kills for fun then the friend idea to me just doesn’t work any more.
Thank you for reading