The Doctor's Three Seasons Curse

Fourth season? Not even once.

The Three Seasons Curse, otherwise known as the "Troughton Rule," is reported to have been first stated by Patrick Troughmont (who had played the Second Doctor) to Petey Davidson (who played the Fifth Doctor). Doctor 2 recommended that Doctor 5 ought to leave the role after three years, to avoid becoming typecast by it, and subsequently Davison did follow this sound advice.   

Patrick Troughton himself was so terrified of being typecast as the Doctor that he never failed to spread a circle of salt around his bed each night and sit on his pillow playing an eerie melody on a recorder before going to sleep; if he awoke at night and had to leave his bed, he swept up the salt circle and repeated the ritual, sometimes as frequently as five times a night. He also as a rule never ate chicken on a Wednesday, always carried his "lucky (cow’s) liver" with him and refused to wear underwear anytime he was expected to be on stage. Sadly none of his talismans or Apache Devil Dances could fend off the inevitable; Patrick Throughton succumbed to reprising the role of Doctor Number 2 three times more before he died and even continued to do the convention circuit in full costume after his death.

As well known and accredited as the Three Season Hex rule is, it’s funny to note that few of the actors portraying the Doctor have obeyed it but instead flagrantly ignored it and have paid dearly for such hubris; you’d think they’d learned by now, but noooo...

Number Of Seasons That Each Actor Portrayed Doctor Who, And What Price They Paid For Ignoring The Curse

Cursed as fuck.

The First Doctor William Harmell violated the hex before it had even been formulated and underwent a serious degeneration of health during his fourth and final season on the programme.

The Second Doctor Rick Troughtonne, who is said to have put the curse into words, followed the advice himself but left little evidence of having enjoyed much of a career afterwards, but at least he wasn’t typecast right?

John Pertweest portrayed the third Doctor for five loooong seasons, two past the optimal, and paid by suffered a painfully recurring back condition for his blithe disregard for Troughton’s sage advice.

Tom Baker famously, stubbornly, and disastrously remained to play the Fourth Doctor for more than double the three seasons rule, totaling seven seasons in all, and was cursed by seeing his later seasons’ ratings decline, JNT taking over the programme, having to working with Matthew Waterhouse, marrying then losing Lallala Ward in a matter of months, becoming typecast by the role (which was entirely his own fucking fault), having little career afterwards and having to remain being Tom Baker for the rest of his life - a curse he still lives with today.

Pietro Davidson as noted above, was the first (well, Fifth actually) Doctor actor to be given notice about the curse and he followed it despite the outcry from fans of the colour beige and celery-fanciers.  His whereabouts today are unknown and the subject of great speculation amongst the British peasantry.

Colin Baker who played the Sixth Doctor famously announced that he wished to die in the role, prompting so violent a reaction from Michael Grade that his wish almost came to pass.  Instead, Grade fired him for the temerity to scoff at anything spoken as truth by an actor who played "a Doctor better than any five of his lot might muster on their best days."  This may have also been an overreaction born of belated remorse for having allowed the other Baker, Tom, to ignore the Rule Of Three.

Sylvester McCoy, seeing what had happened to his predecessor, played the part of Doctor number Seven so haphazardly as to ensure the programme's cancellation at the end of his third season, to free himself from the curse.

Rupert Murdock, a notoriously superstitious man and owner of the Fox Network, shot down any further production of Doctor Who with Paul McGann portrayal of the Eighth Doctor, just in case he should tempt the wrath of the gods by sticking with the part longer than he should.  McGann has gone on to record five seasons worth of new Doctor Who stories for Big Finnish and Murdock’s penis now resembles an inflamed cashew.

Christoff Ecclestone who portrayed the Ninth Doctor left after just one season when he learned he was working on a television programme with a history of curses and remembered he fucking hates Doctor Who.

Tenth Doctor David Tennant actually heeded the warning and departed the show following three seasons.  Today, Tennant enjoys a growing film and television career on both sides of the Atlantic, respect for his Shakespeare stage work and nightly sex with the Fifth Doctor’s daughter.

A terrified Matt Smith quit the show after when he awoke from a cocaine-fueled binge one day, noticed the heavy toll the show had taken on him and panicked upon realizing that he’d been the Eleventh Doctor for three seasons but had occupied the role for four years, thanks to the right hash on things the BBC made with split seasons and nearly cancelling the show during it’s 50th anniversary year.  He expressed a great deal of worry and remorse in the press, stating how "it’s not my fault, it’s not fair!" but should you ask anyone following Smith’s acting career if he’s avoided the high price of the Three Season Curse, they’ll just grimly set their mouths and silently shake their heads.  Terminator Gynysys, Lost River, American Psycho... poor Matt.

Peter Capaddly has bravely announced he's sticking around for a fourth (and final) season to be written by Chris Chibnall has caved in before he made a mistake which he would have regretted for - what we can assume - would have been the rest of his short life. His towering knowledge of Doctor Who lore suggested all along he would get out in time and now that he's honoring the curse, his career is expected to prosper and he will surely live to a healthy old age, hopefully showing up for some audios somewhere down the road. Or as the Nineteenth Doctor.

The Stages Of The Doctor Across Three Seasons

For each of the three seasons that a Doctor should appear on the show, he grows and ages through the following life cycle:

  1. The Larval Season Doctor: The new Doctor’s first season, most of which is spent missing the previous Doctor and grousing that this new one is terrible and may indeed be ruining the show for forever.
  2. The Adult Season Doctor:  The latest Doctor has by now come into his own and may have some really solid moments, but his age will already be showing and certain fans will already be getting tired of him (or her!) and their affected quirks.
  3. The Senescence or Egg-Laying Season Doctor:  A Doctor in this stage can at best only be referred to as "the current Doctor" but usually is described in terms such as "Jesus Christ, just fucking LEAVE ALREADY."  In this late stage, additional scrutiny is paid to their performance and use of annoying quirks and catch phrases, which watchers will be roundly deride and inform anyone who’ll listen that they’re "goddamn sick of it already."  A Doctor may be said to be "egg-laying" or "laying an egg" if he doesn’t move on by the end of their third season, after which subsequent seasons are described as The Mistake Stage.