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Death sentence

"Death sentence" and "death penalty" were common names for the capital punishment of execution — the state-sanctioned death of an individual for crimes of an especially grave nature, such as murder or treason. Sometimes, especially in Earth's past, or in places without clear governmental structures, it could be carried out against people for less profound crimes, or even for no substantive reason at all.

The Seventh Doctor believed that execution was every bit as barbaric as murder. (AUDIO: Doctors and Dragons)

The Fourth Doctor's strategy when faced with execution was to delay as long as possible, distracting the executioner, in the hopes that something would happen to save him. (AUDIO: Destroy the Infinite)


On Earth, it was a divisive issue. Some people, such as the Briton Professor Kettering, believed that the death penalty was a backwards conception of justice. (TV: The Mind of Evil) To the contrary, many Americans in Jacksonville, Kentucky on "Miracle Day" fully believed that the rapist and murderer Oswald Danes should not have been paroled after his death by lethal injection failed. (TV: The New World)

Indeed, there was a general divide between the British and American viewpoints on the issue. The death penalty was abolished in the United Kingdom at least by the late 20th century, (TV: The Mind of Evil) whereas it was still an acceptable punishment in at least the state of Kentucky as late as the year 2011. (TV: The New World)

The death penalty was finally all but abolished by the humans at the very least by the 5th millennium, because of the belief that even the worst of criminals might change their way of thinking. (AUDIO: Davros)

In 54, a Jewish girl named Ruth was ordered stoned by the Pharisee Hieronymous for converting to Christianity. (PROSE: Byzantium!)

In 1492, one of the factions angling to succeed to the duchy of San Martino, sanctioned the beheading of the Fourth Doctor. (TV: The Masque of Mandragora)

In the 15th century, Ian Chesterton was framed for attacking the Aztec High Priest of Knowledge Autloc while finding a way back to the TARDIS. He escaped his imprisonment before he could be executed. (TV: The Aztecs)

Lady Jane Grey, the nine day queen in July 1553, was quietly executed by the new queen, Mary I at the Tower of London, following months of Jane being locked up. (TV: Lost in Time, PROSE: The Nine-Day Queen)

In 1599, following a performance of William Shakespeare's Love's Labour's Won in the Globe Theatre, Mary's sister, Elizabeth I, called for the Tenth Doctor's head, but the Doctor escaped in his TARDIS. (TV: The Shakespeare Code)

Guy Fawkes and his anti-parliament group were executed after they were caught trying to blow up the Houses of Parliament in 1605. (PROSE: The Plotters)

After the Roundheads emerged victorious from the English Civil War, they beheaded King Charles I in 1649. (PROSE: The Roundheads)

In 1789, a young French aristocrat named Jason (a.k.a. Marquis de Saint Epiman de Sinee de la Tour) was sentenced to death by guillotine but was rescued by the Sixth Doctor and became his companion. Later, the meddling of a Dalek caused the TARDIS to return to revolutionary France. Jason was arrested once more and his sentence was almost carried out but he managed to escape again. (AUDIO: The Ultimate Adventure)

In July 1794, Barbara Wright and Susan Foreman were scheduled to be executed using the guillotine, but they were rescued by Jules Renan and Jean. (TV: The Reign of Terror)

During World War I in 1918, shell shocked Tommy Brockless was killed by a British firing squad for cowardice. (TV: To the Last Man)

In March 2006, a Slitheen disguised as General R. Asquith ordered his men to execute the Ninth Doctor "under the jurisdiction of the Emergency Protocols"; the Doctor managed to survive by entering a lift he was stood in front of. (TV: World War Three)

Following the Year That Never Was, Tish Jones suggested that the Saxon Master , who she had known as Harold Saxon, be executed, concurring with her father. The Tenth Doctor objected to this, maintaining that it was "not the solution" and convicing Francine Jones not to kill him, telling her that she was better than him. Nevertheless, the Master was shot dead by his wife, Lucy Saxon. (TV: Last of the Time Lords)

In the year 4000, Mavic Chen and Karlton were sentenced to execution for high treason when a message by Marc Cory revealed they had been conspiring with the Daleks against Earth, although Chen was already dead before this was discovered. (PROSE: The Mutation of Time)



The Doctor's Death sentence - Doctor Who - Arc of Infinity - BBC

Borusa threatens the Fifth Doctor with capital punishment. (TV: Arc of Infinity)

Time Lords exercised the death penalty, largely for crimes against the Laws of Time.

For his multiple violations of their non-interference policy, the Time Lords punished the Second Doctor by forcing him to regenerate into his next incarnation, effectively making this a death sentence and subsequent execution for that incarnation. (TV: The War Games)

Capital punishment was applied at least until the presidency previous to the Fourth Doctor's one (TV: The Deadly Assassin) with unauthorised use of a Time Capsule carrying the death penalty. (PROSE: Doctor Who and the Invasion of Time) By the time of Borusa's presidency, it was said to have been long abolished. (TV: Arc of Infinity)

Vapourisation was the penalty for setting oneself up as a god in a more primitive civilisation (AUDIO: False Gods) or for the murder of a Lord President. (TV: The Deadly Assassin)

The death penalty on Gallifrey was sometimes effected through a "Warrant of Termination". One was served on the Fifth Doctor. In that instance, however, he wasn't threatened with death (through molecular dispersal) because of any actual wrongdoing, but because he had become controlled by a malevolent entity that posed a grave risk to the entire universe. (TV: Arc of Infinity)

There existed a far worse death penalty for Gallifreyans, and sometimes offworlders, which was the Oubliette of Eternity where you were not only killed but your whole life was removed from the Web of Time, and, unknown to the Time Lords, became Neverpeople. This was the preferred method of sentencing death by the Celestial Intervention Agency. (AUDIO: Neverland)


On Literalis Two, sarcasm was met with the death penalty. (AUDIO: The Crimes of Thomas Brewster)

Eldrad was sentenced to death for his destruction of the spatial barriers which exposed Kastria to solar winds. He was consigned to an obliteration module which was detonated prematurely, at nineteen spans, not twenty-five, due to fears that the winds would sever control over the craft. As a result, parts of Eldrad survived and were scattered across space. (TV: The Hand of Fear, AUDIO: Eldrad Must Die!)

The death penalty was used by the Raxacoricofallapatorians. The Slitheen family, for instance, were tried and sentenced to death in absentia. The Ninth Doctor, who had captured Blon Fel-Fotch in Cardiff and wanted to extradite her back to Raxacoricofallapatorius, was faced with the moral dilemma of whether he could become, in effect, her executioner. (TV: Boom Town) Later, in 2009, members of the Slitheen-Blathereen family apprehended two other Slitheen, teleporting them on board their ship to send to Raxacoricofallapatorius for execution. Other members of the Slitheen were said to have been "brought to justice". (TV: The Gift) This death penalty was ultimately dropped, and captured Slitheen were incarcerated. (AUDIO: The Taste of Death)

The Judoon used a H₂O scoop to move the Royal Hope Hospital off of the Earth and onto the Moon to execute Florence Finnegan, who had murdered the Child Princess of Padrivole Regency 9. While searching for Florence, they quickly tried a human for assaulting them, executing him on the spot. The Judoon would also have passed this sentence upon the entire hospital, over a thousand people, on the grounds of harbouring a fugitive but ultimately opted to withdraw once they had located and executed the Plasmavore and returned the hospital to Earth. (TV: Smith and Jones)

On the Trion prison planet Sarn, the followers of the fire-god Logar sanctioned the "unbelievers" with "the burning". (TV: Planet of Fire)

On the planet Androzani Major, the Fifth Doctor and Peri were nearly executed by firing squad by the authority of the quasi-governmental Sirius Conglomerate. (TV: The Caves of Androzani)

As part of an agreement, the Master was sent to Skaro by the Time Lords and subsequently tried and executed by the Daleks, though he survived in the body of a Deathworm. (TV: Doctor Who, PROSE: The Eight Doctors) Similarly, the being known as the Wire evaded its physical execution by transferring its consciousness into electrical energy. (TV: The Idiot's Lantern) In certain cultures, such as the Daleks, leaders would punish the failure of their subordinates with execution. (TV: The Daleks' Master Plan, Planet of the Daleks, COMIC: The Threat from Beneath, The Dalek Revenge, PROSE: Prisoner of the Daleks) Daleks also executed their leaders for failure. On orbit of Ercos, two Daleks killed the Dalek Commander for failure and a Dalek drone killed a Dalek Strategist for failing to ensure the safety of Weston's base. (COMIC: The Dalek Revenge, The Only Good Dalek)

Dalek Command dispatched Dalek Executioners to exterminate the Thirteenth Doctor, believing her responsible for the loss of the Dalek War Fleet. (TV: Eve of the Daleks)

Jack Harkness was once sentenced to death, but after consuming some hypervodkas as a last request, ended up in bed with both his executioners instead of being executed. He later compared his ship containing a German bomb about to explode with no chance of escape to this sentence. (TV: The Doctor Dances)

On board Skybase One, before Professor Jaeger interrupted him, the Marshal of Solos sentenced Stubbs and Cotton (for treason), Ky (for conspiracy, sabotage and terrorism) and Jo Grant (for unspecified crimes) to death by firing squad. (TV: The Mutants)

In the city of Millennius on Marinus, Ian Chesterton was framed for the murder of Eprin and sentenced to death. When more evidence was found, he was let go. (TV: The Keys of Marinus)

Red Rocket Rising had no death penalty. After seeing what he thought was Asha Gryvern walk free after her escort vehicle crashed, Lowell told the Eighth Doctor, "If only we had the death penalty." (AUDIO: Blood of the Daleks)

Rafando's organisation gave the death sentence to renegade aliens, among them Missy. (TV: Extremis)

Other references[]

In the video game Happy Deathday, played by Izzy Sinclair on the Time-Space Visualiser, the Sixth Doctor, upon witnessing a Wildean Wit Enforcer kill Davros for making a bad pun, quipped "well, I've heard of capital pun-ishment, but..." before being stopped by the Second Doctor. (COMIC: Happy Deathday)