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Doctor Who Fans Are Divided Over The Shocking Ending Of The Power Of The Doctor

Contains spoilers for "Doctor Who" Season 13, Episode 9 — "The Power of the Doctor"

Fans were utterly stunned at the ending of the "Doctor Who" special "The Power of the Doctor," which served as a 100th anniversary celebration for the BBC, the final episode for 13th Doctor Jodie Whittaker, and the 300th episode of the series revival that started in 2005. The episode featured several big returns from the past, including several companions and former Doctors, but nothing was quite as shocking as when the 13th Doctor regenerated into the 14th Doctor, only to find him to have the exact same face as the 10th Doctor, David Tennant.

In May, the BBC announced "Sex Education" actor Ncuti Gatwa as the Doctor to follow Jodie Whittaker, with most assuming Gatwa would play the 14th Doctor. Now, following the big revelation of Tennant's return, the BBC has confirmed that Tennant will play the role of the 14th Doctor in three specials in 2023 before handing the role over to Gatwa. Returning showrunner Russell T. Davies was characteristically vague when it came to details on what was to come next. "If you thought the appearance of David Tennant was a shock, we've got plenty more surprises on the way!" Davies explained. "The path to Ncuti's Fifteenth Doctor is laden with mystery, horror, robots, puppets, danger and fun!"

It's no question that Tennant is one of the most popular actors to ever play the role. Short List and Space both ranked him as the best Doctor on their lists, while Digital Spy broke the mold by having him in second place behind Matt Smith. As for Looper's list, he was ranked as the second-best Doctor behind Tom Baker. But does that mean fans were jumping for joy at his return?

Fan reaction is very divided

Reactions to Tennant's return were all strong, if not consistent. Some, even while talking about how exciting it would be to see Tennant in the role again, expressed a cynical take on the development. "... [T]he showrunners just need to get people watching the show again, wrote u/skirby998 in the r/doctorwho subreddit. "Enter, David Tennant. The best doctor since the show came back on telly. Bit of a cop out if you ask me." It is true that the show has seen some declining viewing figures during the Jodie Whittaker years, although exiting executive producer Matt Strevens told Doctor Who Magazine he still thought viewing figures were strong (via Radio Times).

Others simply basked in the joy of the announcement, such as @MagCrowley, who described themselves as "excited beyond imagination" that Tennant was returning for three episodes. "Why only three — why not forever," responded @tractorbabe. In fact, bringing back an actor who played the role before is nearly unprecedented, although Tom Baker did return for "The Day of the Doctor" as a character that may or may not be a future regeneration of the famous Time Lord.

At least one user, u/its_crayg_not_creg pointed out the lack of appreciation for Whittaker's final performance in the role. "Yeah I think it's a shame that Jodie's exit has been totally overshadowed by David's return," responded u/DE4N0123. "It's exciting, sure, but no one's talking about her." It's true that, as exciting as Tennant's return is, Whittaker's final performance should not be overlooked.