Neil Patrick Harris, the handsome beloved character actor, has been announced to be participating in Doctor Who’s 60th-Anniversary special. While there is no confirmation about what role he will be taking, and viewers won’t know until the special airs, fan theories are flying wild. Here are some of the top contenders for who Harris could be playing.
1. The (Celestial) Toymaker
The Celestial Toymaker was introduced in a First Doctor serial of the same name (Classic Who). Portrayed by Michael Gough, a staple character actor in the British pantheon, the adversary was more interested in his infinite power and ability to treat others as toys than he was in conquering the universe or converting humans to androids.
An enigma the Doctor had faced before, the Toymaker created his own world, sent One’s companions into a series of deadly games, turned the Doctor invisible, and generally enjoyed messing with the laws of time and space. Originally, Gough was made up in yellowface, with the term “Celestial” as a racist Asian epithet.
If brought back, the character would probably shed these features and simply become The Toymaker. A villain who likes tricks, games, and puzzles, The Toymaker reappearing for the 60th Anniversary could cause quite a hassle. Circumstantial evidence has all but confirmed this to be the case, but Doctor Who loves to throw curveballs so here are some other possibilities.
2. The Meddling Monk
Another adversary of the First Doctor, the Meddling Monk would be an appropriate returning character as the first other Time Lord ever featured in the show. Writer Russell T. Davies is known for mining the very deepest depths of the BBC's Who canon during his first run on Doctor Who.
Known for his comedic Carry On films, actor Peter Butterworth brought a sense of mischievousness to the Meddling Monk, willing to take to whatever side was winning. He’s vowed multiple times to have revenge against the Doctor, and this could be his chance.
3. Something To Do With Jack Harkness
The casting of Neil Patrick Harris stirred lots of the memories of the similar casting of James Marsters in the Doctor Who spinoff Torchwood (also created by Davies). Marsters played an antagonistic morally dubious romantic foil for queer lead Captain Jack Harkness and given Harris’s enjoyment of campy roles, it’s not hard to imagine them relating in some way.
This is entirely because I believe Neil Patrick Harris looks like Julian Glover, the villain in “City of Death,” and therefore should be given the same role. Scaroth the Jagaroth first crash-landed on Earth in its early days of creation and splintered himself throughout its timeline. It’s not far-fetched to imagine another mossy green Jagaroth involving itself with Earth again.
5. Dream Lord
In the 13th Doctor’s era, the Master claimed that all the Time Lords were dead. This, after they had been saved by all the Doctors during the Time War. So, we know that’s not exactly going to stick.
The Dream Lord has appeared once, but memorably so, during the more recent 11th Doctor’s first season episode “Amy’s Choice.” Given two realities, the Doctor and crew have to choose which one to believe in. The Dream Lord might be a dark reflection of the Doctor, meaning a reappearance would be more of an internal struggle.
6. A Dominator
Neil Patrick Harris could play an alien with large shoulder pads who previously tried to take over the planet Dulkis. This is mainly so the adorable robot Quarks can come back.
The third founder of Gallifrey, home planet of the Time Lords, Omega was exiled to another dimension for his greed and egomania, which makes him a delight to have on-screen. First appearing in the 10th-anniversary special “The Three Doctors,” Omega returned for the 20th anniversary season in 1983 and would be welcome again any time.
8. Commander Maxil
Commander Maxil might seem like an odd choice – he’s a Time Lord but he’s a lesser one, part of law enforcement on Gallifrey. While he might hold a grudge against the Doctor, name an alien who doesn’t. Still, he was played by Colin Baker before Baker was cast as the Sixth Doctor, which makes him a fan favorite. A strictly by-the-book character, Maxil returning in another regeneration would be a fun callback and hurdle for the Doctor to overcome.
9. The Valeyard
The Valeyard, as revealed at the end of “Trial of a Time Lord,” is all the negative aspects of the Doctor’s regenerations coalesced into one jerk, who puts the Doctor on trial. It’s also been foreshadowed that the Doctor will eventually become the Valeyard. Since the Doctor got a whole new set of regenerations, The Valeyard has the potential to be even darker.
10. The Master
It can always be The Master. No matter where or when or how they died last time or how long it’s been since a recast, it can always be the Master. Stay vigilant.
Secret 11th Option: The Rani
It’d be more fun if it were The Rani though. Yet another renegade Time Lord (Gallifreyan society seems to keep producing those), The Rani is more interested in the results of her scientific experiments than things like “ethics” and “common decency.” Introduced in the Sixth Doctor serial “The Mark of the Rani,” and originally played by Kate O’Mara, any character in any episode of Doctor Who could secretly be the Rani, and fans keep hoping it will be.
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Lena is a freelance writer and academic who matriculated through the school of fandom beginning at age 16. She’s majored in such diverse subjects as Power Rangers, Smallville, Doctor Who, The Beatles, and Chris Evans. She’s still taking classes and hopes to never stop. She graduated from Boston University in 2018 with an MFA in Film and Television Studies.