Why Jodie Whittaker Left Doctor Who


The Doctor is a unique archetype within the science-fiction genre and is typically associated with men. Thus, over time, Doctor Who has subtly become unanimous with male stereotypes and storylines. But, when Jodie Whittaker took on the role back in 2017, it seemed that the show’s canon would change forever. With a new set of companions and a different collection of foes to face, the Thirteenth Doctor offered fans an assortment of entertaining episodes.

Though her arc had its criticisms, many fans were excited to see what this actress could offer to the role. Whittaker’s Doctor had a charismatic sense of charm as well as a budding relationship with her friend, Yaz Khan. But why did the actress decide to quit the role, especially when her story was just starting to unfold?

Who Is Jodie Whittaker?

Jodie Whittaker was already a household name before she transformed into the Doctor, receiving her big break back in 2006 for the film Venus. From there, she managed to secure a collection of other exciting roles in both comedy and drama, including Black Mirror and Attack the Block. Yet, in 2017, she collaborated with Doctor Who showrunner Chris Chibnall on the hit crime drama Broadchurch, which many fans believed allowed her to scoop up her role in Doctor Who.

It comes as no surprise that some fans criticized the fact that a woman would be taking on the role of The Doctor, but the vast majority of viewers were quite excited. She took on the position with a great deal of grace and many viewers didn’t feel like anything had really changed. Whittaker also took part in the miniseries Flux, a single-story special that took place over six episodes. Fans could also uncover more about her Doctor in the podcast adventure Doctor Who: Redacted.

After three specials, Whittaker departed from the TARDIS in 2022. She was replaced by David Tennant once again as the Fourteenth Doctor as part of the trio of 60th anniversary specials. Overall, Jodie Whittaker’s Doctor was quite revolutionary. She managed to create a fun, quirky, and passionate rendition of the character, without drawing too much attention to her gender.

The Thirteenth Doctor’s Humor Gave Her a Good Heart

Peter Capaldi’s rendition of the Twelfth Doctor was undoubtedly very dark and gritty. So, when Jodie Whittaker decided to lighten up her Doctor, fans were overjoyed to see the time-traveler zooming around once again. Yet, fans were also surprised that even in her most lighthearted moments, the Thirteenth Doctor has immense levels of empathy. For example, in Season 11, Episode 3, “Rosa”, The Doctor is ecstatic to finally come into contact with one of history’s greatest icons, Rosa Parks. Yet, when her friends Ryan and Yaz are racially discriminated against by a security guard, she quickly runs to defend them. She doesn’t try to lighten the mood or excuse the guard’s remarks. Instead, Whittaker reminds fans of what The Doctor truly stands for, which is peace and justice across the galaxy.

This type of compassion is also evident in Season 11, Episode 6, “Demons of the Punjab.” Here, the group arrives in pre-partition Punjab, and Yaz quickly feels a sense of discomfort as she wonders what her heritage might have been if her grandparents hadn’t experienced so much oppression. Although The Doctor is running around after the Thijarian throughout this episode, she still notices her friend’s sadness. Thus, even though the Thirteenth Doctor is notoriously hyperactive and energized, she doesn’t forget the presence of her friends. She also strives to comfort her companions as they witness the horrors of history unfolding right in front of them.

Her Relationship With Yaz Secured Doctor Who’s Queer Canon

Despite taking a primetime spot for over six decades, Doctor Who has only welcomed a handful of Queer relationships. But the Thirteenth Doctor’s relationship with her long-time companion, Yaz, opened up a lot of doors for a romantic bond to blossom. In the special Legend of the Sea Devils, the Doctor confesses her feelings for Yaz in a deeply emotive conversation. The pair agree that there is a strong desire to be together, but they can’t because of The Doctor’s immense lifespan and reckless lifestyle. In this episode, The Doctor also makes reference to River Song, noting that she had been married in the past. Overall, these interactions work to show The Doctor as a comprehensive tapestry of lives and highlight that just because The Doctor has many faces, doesn’t mean that they are a completely different person each time round.

A prime example of The Doctor and Yaz’s romantic feelings for each other first emerged in Season 12, Episode 8, “The Haunting of Villa Diodati.” Many die-hard fans believe that this is the first instance of Yaz falling for The Doctor, particularly as the pair were forced to protect each other throughout this episode. As such, it could be argued that The Doctor and Yaz provided fans with a keen slow-burn relationship, which heavily contrasts other examples, like the Tenth Doctor’s intimate relationship with Rose Tyler.

Why Did Jodie Whittaker Resign From Her Role as the Thirteenth Doctor?

Despite making history with her presence on Doctor Who, Jodie Whittaker announced that she would be leaving the role in 2022. Many fans found her departure quite disappointing, especially since it meant that she wouldn’t appear in the trio of 60th-anniversary specials. Yet, Whittaker managed to transform the entire history of The Doctor in three relatively short seasons, placing her at the forefront of the show’s progress.

Allegedly, Whittaker left Doctor Who in order to spend more time with her family, especially since she spent months apart from them while filming in Cardiff. Though she hasn’t mentioned a return to the show any time soon, it’s likely that she’ll reprise her role in Big Finish audios in the future. Admittedly, Whittaker’s time as The Doctor was tarnished by misogynistic comments, but she didn’t let that get in the way of her performance. Time after time, she embodied the true essence of the character and managed to alter the course of the character’s life forever.