- The article details The Master as depicted from "Modern Doctor Who" - which ran from 2005 to present , for information on The Master from the Classic Era of Doctor Who (1963 to 1989) see here.
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The Master is a recurring antagonist in the Doctor Who revival series who is the archenemy and former friend of The Doctor. While still being the same character as the Classic Who versions these variations are vastly different from them.
There have been four actors who have portrayed The Master in Modern Who. Sir Derek Jacobi, John Simm, Michelle Gomez (who also portrayed Madame Satan in The Chilling Adventures of Sabrina) and Sacha Dhawan. The younger version of the Master was played by the late William Hughes.
The Master's madness begun at the age of eight when he was taken before Untempered Schism, a gap in the fabric of space and time, as part of a Time Lord initiation ceremony. Since then, the Master has been plagued by the four-beat sound of drums, believing them to be the "drums of war", and became into a would-be universal conqueror. Like the Doctor, he got his own TARDIS and continued doing evil until he met the Doctor again when he was already in his Twelfth incarnation.
- Main article: The Master (Classic Who)
The Master fought in the Time War against the Daleks for many years, and would regenerate into a child body. The Master made a deal with the War Doctor to become allies, to deal with the Cylors, who were allies with the Daleks. Encountering the eleventh Doctor's companion Alice, the Master decided to flee due to the Doctor's plan being too dangerous. However this fleeing ended up causing a paradox that caused him to regenerate. His memory of the events was erased, and the Master would travel back to the early years of the Time War. The Master battled the Cybermen alongside Kate Stewart and UNIT, eventually returning to "the fray" of the war.
The Master managed to retrieve his TARDIS on Gardezza while posing as the Doctor. Inside, he received a call to return to Gallifrey and left to answer it. Romana and Narvin sent the Master alongside Leela to interrogate Finnian Valentine, and said that they would pardon him for his crimes. during which he discovered Arcking had a power source that could fuel the Time Lords energy banks. On the way back to Gallifrey, the Master expelled Leela into the time vortex and headed to Arcking. Travelling to hospital planet Arcking multiple times, the Master attempted to possess an ancient power, known as the Heart. It was here he met the pilot Cole Jarnish, and took him on as a companion.
After manipulating Cole to turn his life into a paradox, the Master travelled to Stamford Bridge in the 1970s, where he located a Time Lord repository and killed Cole. Using Cole's life as a paradox to power it, he took control of the Heavenly Paradigm, wanting to use it to end the War. The plan backfired, and the Master unintentionally caused both the Time Lords and Daleks to win several battles they had once lost. Because of this, he then saw the Dalek Emperor took control of "The Cruciform", the Master, horrified by the intensity of the the war, decided to flee, and remained ignorant of the war's outcome as he used a Chameleon Arch which stored his Time Lord nature and memories in a fob watch and allowed him to become biologically a human baby, in order to disguise himself.
- Main Article: The Master (Harold Saxon)
Following his encounter with the Twelfth Doctor, having fuzzy memories of the event due to meeting her, The Master regenerated into his next incarnation: a woman who calls herself Missy (short for Mistress). Acting on a desire to reconnect with the Doctor, Missy desired to bring him down to her moral level by first arranging his Eleventh incarnation to meet Clara Oswald. She then acquired a Matrix data slice to create a Nethersphere to house the minds of recently deceased from across Earth's history, including the Half Face Man despite originally being a machine. Arranging the formation of the 3W facility, Missy orchestrated the Cybermen to upgrade the deceased bodies and become an army under her control.
When the Twelfth Doctor arrived to the 3W facility, situated within St. Paul's cathedral, Missy eventually revealed herself as the Cybermen proceed to convert all of Earth's dead. From there, revealing she arranged their creation for him, Missy tempts the Doctor into using the Cybermen to act out his own desires. While the plan is foiled, killing one of the Osgoods which would disrupt human/Zygon relations, Missy made a final attempt to force the Doctor to lower himself by killing her to keep Clara from becoming a murderer. But one surviving Cyberman (the Doctor's deceased ally Brigadier Lethbridge Stewart) vaporized Missy before destroying himself.
However, it turned out that Missy survived by using the Cyberman's blast to charge her vortex manipulator and escape. After receiving the Doctor's Confessional Dial, Time Lord's equivalent of a "last will and testament", Missy recruits Clara to enlisted Clara to find the Doctor. They travel to 12th century Essex and find the Doctor there. But they were forced by snake-like being named Colony Sarff, who takes them to Skaro so a dying Davros can meet the Doctor. After the two escape the Daleks, with the Doctor assuming their died, Missy and Clara sneak back into the city via its sewer/graveyard with the latter tricked into entering a Dalek casing. After Missy saves the Doctor, she attempted to trick him into killing Clara before he realized the truth. Missy takes her leave, she runs into Daleks who see that she is a Time Lord and prepare to exterminate her. But Missy says that she has "a very clever idea", hinting that she survives after this encounter.
Missy was captured at some point and prepared to be sentenced to death on another planet. The Doctor is called upon to carry out the execution, as only a time lord can kill another time lord. Missy begs the Doctor to spare her life, saying that she will make the effort to change. The Doctor messes with the execution, which results in Missy being knocked out. The Doctor has his companion Nardole move her to a vault, in which he will watch over her and help her on the road to redemption. The Vault is moved underneath an university, where the Doctor spends 70 years teaching whilst guarding it.
Having become remorseful of the deaths she had caused, Missy appears to have gradually reformed. The Doctor tests her reformation by letting her play "Doctor Who" in helping what they learned to be a Mondasian colony ship, only resulting with the Doctor suffering one of his greatest tragedies against the Cybermen while Missy encounters her previous male incarnation. This led Missy to find her loyalties torn between her promise to the Doctor and the lure of her former self. After initially betraying the Doctor and leaving him to face the Cybermen alone, Missy later stabs the Master to enact his regeneration while intending to come to the Doctor's aid. But the Master, refusing to accept the person he will become, uses his Laser Screwdriver to fatally wound Missy while negating her ability to regenerate. It is unknown if she survives or not.
Through means currently unknown, The Master presumably returned back to life, and somehow managed to escape the colony ship. The Master managed to obtain a TARDIS and travelled to Gallifrey, there he discovered that everything about Time Lord society was built on lies, involving an entity known as the "Timeless Child". Whatever the Master learned during his time there caused him to become enraged enough to murder all the surviving Time Lords and leave his home planet a ruined wasteland. Sometime later, he assumed the identity and appearance of one of the Doctor's former allies; an ex-MI6 agent named O and spent time in the Australian outback where he disguised his TARDIS as a house. At this point the Doctor has again regenerated into a new body,
This Master appears in the two-part opener of Series 12 "Spyfall", where he reveals his identity to The Doctor and her companions Graham, Ryan and Yaz on a plane piloted by Daniel Barton. He replaces Barton (who was in league with The Master) with a bomb (which was sonic proof to stop The Doctor from stopping it). He also reveals that the plane has no parachutes and reveals that he used a Tissue Compression Eliminator to capture and kill the real O. He also reveals that he is in league with aliens known as Kasaavin. As the bomb explodes, The Master has one of the Kassavin teleport The Doctor away to the Kassavin's dimension before teleporting away himself with the Kasaavin, leaving Graham, Ryan and Yaz to die on the now falling plane.
The Master returned to his TARDIS where he discovered the trio's survival (as they found instructions left by The Doctor to land the plane without a cockpit) and sent Barton to deal with them. He also learnt about The Doctor leaving the Kasaavin dimension and arriving in at a fayre 1834. He travelled to the fayre and used his Tissue Compression Eliminator on several people there, before being sent away by a device thrown at him by The Doctor and Ada Gordon (who later became known as Ada Lovelace).
The Master then arrived in Paris in 1943 where he, with the aid of a perception filter, disguised himself as a Nazi soldier. Via a psychic link, he agreed to meet The Doctor alone at The Eiffel Tower. There he revealed that he was carrying out his plan in order to get The Doctor's attention, stating that he returned to Gallifrey and found it "nuked". The Doctor did not believe this and disabled The Master's perception filter before escaping The Eiffel Tower as Nazi soldiers came to arrest The Master after they got a Morse Code saying that he was a British spy. This code had been sent out by The Doctor's ally Noor Inayat Khan (an actual British spy).
As The Doctor had taken his TARDIS, The Master was forced to live through 77 years before eventually returning to 2020 where he prepared for his and Barton's plan to assimilate all of humanity by using their DNA as a planet-size hard drive. However, The Doctor arrived and revealed that she used The Master's TARDIS to go back in time to put a stop to the plan. The Kasaavin then arrive and The Doctor plays a message to them of The Master revealing how little he thinks of them. This causes the Kasaavin to turn on The Master and swarm him, sending him to their dimension where he angrily calls out The Doctor's name.
The Doctor later used her TARDIS to travel to Gallifrey and discovered that The Master had been right about the state. She later received a hologram message from The Master, who revealed that he had been the one who destroyed Gallifrey after learning the truth about The Timeless Child.
- Many producers have compared the relationship between The Doctor and The Master as something comparable to that of James Moriarty and Sherlock Holmes.
- In the episode "The Final Game", The Master (in his thirteenth incarnation) was supposed to be revealed as the Doctor's dark side or his brother and he should die by sacrificing himself to save the Doctor. However, the episode was never made because the actor Roger Delgado died in a car accident in Turkey. Still the idea of a dark side of the Doctor was used for The Valeyard
- In the 2007 episode "The Sound of the Drums", the Tenth Doctor's companion Martha Jones asks him if the Master is an evil brother of his, in which the Doctor replies she has watched too much TV.
- The Master is the first Time Lord to change gender via regeneration on screen. However the previous episode 'The Doctor's Wife' mentioned a Time-Lord named The Corsair who was also said to have done this.
- Although stories featuring multiple Masters at once has been depicted in other media such as comics and audio adventures, the series 10 two-part finale episodes "World Enough and Time" and "The Doctor Falls" is the first time in the history of the show in which multiple Masters have featured in the series proper. The episode featured the current incarnation Missy (Michelle Gomez) and the Harold Saxon Master (John Simm).
- In Series 10, the John Simm's Master now sports a goatee similar to that of Roger Delgado and Anthony Ainley's incarnations.
- The Harold Saxon (John Simm) Master is seen as one of the most vile Masters.