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The Last Emperor was the thirteenth short story in the Short Trips anthology Short Trips: 2040. It was written by Jacqueline Rayner. It featured the Second Doctor, Sixth Doctor, Jamie McCrimmon, Victoria Waterfield and Frobisher.


On his way home, Stuart decides to stop for a takeaway. There are three strange-looking people inside, seemingly unable to figure out how to work the order system. He helps them, and impulsively invites them to his place for tea.

When the young man, Jamie, eats his fish, he is surprised to find it doesn't taste like fish. The other two, Victoria and the Doctor, are also unaware that cod is extinct, and that the fish they ordered isn't really fish. He then explains to them how cod became extinct, a little puzzled that they wouldn't know such a basic fact.

Suddenly, the Doctor realises who Stuart is — he is Stuart Mallory, the famous naturalist. Stuart is pleased to be recognised. The Doctor tells the other two that Stuart specialised in emperor penguins, but that the penguins are now extinct. Together, the Doctor and Stuart tell Jamie and Victoria the story of how the penguins' habitat became unsuitable.

The Doctor notices that Stuart needs his rest, and he and the others abruptly leave. Stuart is a little disappointed; despite their strange ignorance, he enjoyed their company.

As they leave, the Doctor and Victoria wish they could take Stuart to see an emperor penguin, but the Doctor doesn't place any reliance on the TARDIS' ability to get them to the right time and place.

Stuart receives a message from the UN: they are letting him take a trip to Antarctica. A girl arrives at the door, carrying the correct paperwork. In addition, she will be the one flying him to Antarctica. She introduces herself as Ace.

Ace and Stuart arrive in Antarctica, where they find Ace's friend Benny in a tent. She has sophisticated equipment that Stuart will wear out in the elements. She and Ace have to leave, because "we haven't happened yet".

Stuart, wearing a kind of body armour, walks outside, and after a bit, sees an emperor penguin up ahead. He then sees several penguins, who make a path for him, at the end of which his dead wife is waiting for him.

The Doctor and Frobisher bend over Stuart's dead body. The Doctor thinks that Stuart died the moment he saw the "penguin". He tells Frobisher that Stuart was one of the few people who cared, and all this was arranged so that Stuart could die happy.



  • Cod has been extinct for over twenty years.
  • Emperor penguins are extinct.
  • Stuart sees the Third Doctor on the news.
  • Stuart receives a message on his PAN.
  • Jamie is nervous about having vinegar on his cod and chips.
  • Victoria doesn't think working at a museum would be very interesting.
  • Benny reminds Stuart of his dead wife Emma.


to be added


  • The Doctor asks Jamie to imagine he is a young man from three or four hundred years ago (TV: The Highlanders) and Victoria to imagine she is a young woman from a century or two ago. (TV: The Evil of the Daleks)