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The Piggybackers was a comic story published in Doctor Who Magazine in 2020, featuring the Thirteenth Doctor and friends.

It was the last Magazine comic strip published before the comic stories entered a hiatus during the COVID-19 pandemic, with a new comic not being released until September with the Ninth Doctor special, Monstrous Beauty, which was published in conjunction with the multi-medium Time Lord Victorious story arc.


Part one[]

Over a grainy black and white film, a voice informs you what to do if there is the flash of the atomic bomb. Duck and Cover. The film ends and a teacher tells her class that was an important film made by the government and that there will be a test later. The teacher, Edith Harcourt, asks her class what the first thing to do in the event of an atomic attack is, to which a voice calls out drop dead. Enraged, Edith demands who asked that and a kid, Tommy says how they would all just die. Another kid, Stevie, gets in a fight with him and Edith goes from anger to paranoia as she has never lost control of a class. Then a voice tells Edith that this isn't right and that it will help her.

The TARDIS arrives in Brideport, although Graham remarks that it doesn't look much like 51st century New Asgard. The Doctor dismisses it as the TARDIS' navigation system rebooting after battling a psychic squid, and much to Ryan's dismay, Yaz thinks it looks like 50's America. Graham and Yaz notice the locals acting strangely but the Doctor leads them into a diner where they are cheerfully greeted by a woman named Lizzie, which leads Yaz and Ryan to smile that it isn't Alabama. Lizzie says they don't get many visitors and Graham says their vehicle broke down. Lizzie says her husband could take a look at it, but the Doctor says it's a foreign job. Later, Yaz is amazed how the Doctor has managed to finish her third milkshake, when a news bulletin interrupts them to inform everyone how Russian ships are approaching and how president Kennedy says an attempt to cross the blockade will be an act of war. Graham whispers that it's the Cuban missile crisis in October 1962, and has to re-inform Ryan about it. Ryan asks if Graham remembers it, but Graham says he was just a toddler and learned about it in school. Yaz asks the Doctor if history is OK, and the Doctor replies that it is probably fine. An old man, starts talking about how this isn't going to be fine and it will be hell and the world will burn, before leaving. The Doctor says they should have a nosey around town, and Graham suggests meeting back at the diner in a few hours

The Doctor catches up with the man, Mr Endicott and says she is new in town and asks where the harbour is. Mr Endicott is confused at the Doctor's remark about being a boy, so she quickly corrects it to tomboy, before being informed the coastlines over 300 miles away, which the Doctor thinks odd since the town is named Bridgeport. They witness a shop keeper arguing with someone, and Mr Endicott tell the Doctor how everyone's preparing for the apocalypse.

Yaz and Ryan notice it start to get dark when they find parents crowded around a school, because they aren't letting the children out. Yaz and Ryan decide to go round back and enter through a window. Yaz decides to look upstairs while Ryan check downstairs and that the school is eerily quiet. Ryan hears a voice and heads towards it, shocked to see the classroom full of the children, but with their mouths removed. Edith says they have a latecomer, and orders Ryan in, demanding his name, with Ryan mumbling it won't happen again. Edith says it won't, and tells Ryan to sit down, now he also doesn't have a mouth.

Part Two[]

Graham strolls into Hank Dalton's garage and proclaims he just met Hank's wife. They greet each other and Hank asks if he can help Graham. Graham says he just wants a look around and accidentally calls a car a classic before correcting himself and saying it will be a classic in the future. Hank observes that Graham's assuming there even will be a future, and Graham says they have to believe it will all work out in the end.

In the school, Yaz sneaks into the principal's office and sees he has no mouth. She is told to be quiet by Tommy who tells her that he was sent to the principal for fighting, and he got lucky as everyone in the school has had their mouth removed and the windows are locked. Yaz takes Tommy to find Ryan but they witness Miss Harcourt leading the entire mouthless school to the exit, Ryan among them. The parents outside start shouting at her until Miss Harcourt says she taught them all and they should show her respect. She then removes all their mouths and continues on the march,

Graham asks Hank if anything unusual has happened lately as people can do funny stuff in a crisis. Hank observes Graham is more like a police officer than a tourist and they hear a siren. Graham wonders if it's the air raid siren, to which Hank says it isn't but it won't make much difference to the public. He collapses and Graham asks what's wrong when Hank starts glowing. He stuns Graham with electricity flying from the spanner and drags him away.

Miss Harcourt smiles upon hearing the siren, while the Doctor and Endicott note how the siren sounds more like it's alive, before nearly being trampled by a crowd of terrified people. The Doctor tells Endicott to get to the shelter but he refuses and says he will face the end on his feet. Meanwhile, Graham wakes up in a new location, tied up with what seems like tentacles. Hank tells him not to play the innocent as neither of them are what they appear to be, turning around to reveal his true form, a devil like creature, as Graham sees that Hank is monitoring all the armies involved in the crisis on screens.

Part Three[]

Two days prior to this, Principal Winters informs Miss Harcourt she is past retirement age and should take things easier. Miss Harcourt, enraged, tells him she has devoted her life to the school teaching generations after generations, including him, and now he's going to throw her out? The principal tells her this is to be her last term at Bridgeport elementary. Later, in the restroom, she starts crying until a voice calls to her, telling she deserves more respect and it can help. Miss Harcourt thinks about how she has all the respect she'll ever need now, as she leads her mouthless army through the quiet night streets of Brideport.

Graham demands Hank tell him why he's monitoring the entire Cuban missile crisis, and Hank asks why he's so interested in what he's looking at. Graham, shocked, tells him that if anything goes wrong in Cuba it'll mean nuclear war and the end of the world. Hank agrees with him and Graham asks why he's trying to change things? Graham asks who Hank really is but Hank scans Graham instead with his spanner. Hank notes Graham is Human which means only one thing: He has a Piggybacker. Hank wonders if Graham has the faintest idea what he's done, what the deal he's made means and tells Graham a Piggybacker is a curse on every civilised world and only traitors accept them, so he'll have no regrets ending his life.

The Doctor and Endicott are walking through the empty streets and note that the air is thicker and everything's charged with electricity... They see Miss Harcourt and her army approach and Miss Harcourt greets Endicott. The Doctor asks Ryan what happened to him, while Endicott demands Miss Harcourt explains what's going on. The Doctor chips in and asks why Ryan's keeping so no-lipped. Miss Harcourt tells the Doctor that Ryan is remaining silent and obeying his elders, something the Doctor shall also now do. The Doctor says she won't and demands she let them all go. Miss Harcourt wonders how the Doctor can disobey, and the voice tells her that the Doctor is one of the heretics and they must find the other. Miss Harcourt orders her army to take them both and the Doctor and Endicott start running. Suddenly, a car pulls up, driven by Yaz and Tommy inside, and they get in. Yaz explains she took the car once the siren sounded and says the Doctor's a bad influence. The Doctor asks Tommy if he knows Miss Harcourt and he explains that Miss Harcourt was always scary and now she's a witch. Endicott cuts her off, telling him Miss Harcourt is a decent woman and it's not her fault. The Doctor says that he's an authority figure so something chose her for her status and respect and she can dominate most minds, other than Endicott because he's older than her and Tommy. She asks why that might be...

Graham tries to explain he's a time traveller but Hank ignores him. He's about to kill Graham when Lizzie arrives. She says her body shifted but no-one saw and Hank says it happened also thanks to Graham. Lizzie says he was in the diner with three others, to which Hank can't believe as four breaking through at once would an incalculable amount of power. He goes to see what's going on and leaves Lizzie to guard Graham. Graham tries to persuade her to let him go but she shifts and tells him that if anything has happened to her son she will kill him with her bare hands.

Team TARDIS are surrounded.

Tommy asks if something alien happened to Miss Harcourt but there's no flying saucer. The Doctor explains that like Brideport doesn't have a port, the village Stockbridge has no bridge and there are places on Earth where things can just walk through cracks to our world. The car suddenly flies through the air thanks to Miss Harcourt's telekinesis and the mouthless mob attack them. Hank runs up and yells for Miss Harcourt to get away from his son and attacks her with the spanner laser. The voice says there are now three heretics and the Doctor, Yaz, Endicott and Tommy watch as a creature appears on Miss Harcourt's head saying their feast will be even greater.

Part Four[]

Graham is trying to persuade Lizzie that he isn't her enemy, but she ignores him, still claiming he has a Piggybacker that is weak, as he collected no followers. She tells him he has doomed his world, if it wasn't doomed already and then tells Graham that the Piggybackers are an unknown species, psychic creatures with no form who need hosts to operate, spreading across worlds and making worlds into temples. She goes on to explain how she and Hank are from a species immune to the Piggybackers, and fled to Earth in disguise before having Tommy who doesn't know he's not Human. Graham tells Lizzie about how the Doctor can help her, but Lizzie dismisses him, saying they're leaving soon and the ship's engines will destroy Bridgeport when they leave. Graham asks how she can do that and Lizzie says she wants no-one to die, but it's better they do die this way rather than weeks of nuclear fallout.

Miss Harcourt and Hank are still firing lasers, with the Piggybacker taunting Hank. Miss Harcourt agrees that it is good to wield so much power, and Hank starts to fall, his Human disguise fading. The Doctor slips out of her coat, using a trick Houdini taught her, and runs over to Hank, helping amplify the energy output from Hank's spanner. The energy hits Miss Harcourt and the Piggybacker tells her to drain energy from her students. Yaz and Endicott notice that the mobs grip is weaker, Yaz flooring Ryan, and they escape. The Piggybacker gets Miss Harcourt to take Tommy to prevent Hank from firing anymore.

Lizzie tells Graham how someone will start nuclear war soon and that will be it for humanity, but Graham says that it doesn't, using his knowledge of the future to explain what happens. Lizzie asks how he can know that and tells Lizzie to take his phone, finding pictures of Grace, and Graham says that she never gave up on people and that Lizzie shouldn't either.

The mouthless army all collapse to the floor, Ryan included, as the Piggybacker is draining their energy. The Doctor tells Endicott that since he's the only person who Miss Harcourt respects and trusts he is the only one who can reach her. Miss Harcourt is shot in the back by Lizzie, using a laser pen, and Endicott helps her to her feet, and tells her she is not alone, despite the Piggybacker's protests to kill him. Endicott goes on to say how she taught generations of Bridgeport citizens and they all respect her and that today they need her more than ever. Miss Harcourt agrees and despite the protests from the Piggybacker, she rips him from her back, sending everyone flying from an energy burst. Lizzie and Hank run to Tommy and say that they have a lot to tell him and Ryan wakes up asking what happened, Yaz next to him. The Doctor crouches beside Miss Harcourt's body and wonders whether she knew what would happen removing the Piggybacker, to which Endicott replies she did as he hasn't seen bravery like that in a long time.

Two days later, at Miss Harcourt's funeral, the Doctor tells Endicott that people may not remember what happened, but they will know they owe Miss Harcourt a great debt, while Graham talks with Hank and his family who say they're staying on Earth, for Tommy's sake. As the TARDIS crew depart, Endicott waves goodbye and says he's glad the Doctor came there way, to which the Doctor responds that so is she and she's glad to know Bridgeport is in safe hands.




Foods and beverages[]

  • The Cuban Missile Crisis leads to panic buying.
  • The Doctor drinks three milkshakes, with an amazed Yaz wondering how "anyone can take that much lactose and live".
  • A store sells cans of beans for one dollar.


  • Despite its name, Brideport doesn't have a port.
  • The Cuban Missile Crisis saw Russia planting nuclear missiles in Cuba, off the US coast.
  • Ryan and Yaz are relieved to know that they are not in Alabama.
  • Team TARDIS eat at Lizzie's Diner.
  • Hank Dalton runs an auto shop called Dalton's Motors.
  • The Doctor tells Tommy about Stockbridge, which doesn't have a bridge.



Original print details[]

(Publication with page count and closing captions)
  1. DWM 549 (8 pages): Next: The Countdown!
  2. DWM 550 (8 pages): Next: Eve of Destruction!
  3. DWM 551 (8 pages): Next: Zero Hour!
  4. DWM 552 (8 pages): The End


  • Yaz initially believes that Team TARDIS have ended up back in 1950s America, prompting Ryan to say "here we go again". They later express their relief upon realising they are not in Alabama. (TV: Rosa)
  • The Doctor thinks the TARDIS navigation system is still rebooting after a tussle with a psycho squid. (TV: Orphan 55)
  • The Doctor, while speaking to Abner Endicott, mentions having been a boy, to Endicott's confusion. (TV: An Unearthly Child, et al.)
  • Graham has photos of him and Grace O'Brien on his phone. (TV: The Woman Who Fell to Earth)