Rip off is such an ugly term; in fact we prefer the term, lovingly acquired to re purpose for homage purposes, because of laziness. But however you categorize it, Doctor Who’s staying power has made it a magnet for sci-fi and fantasy writers to find… inspiration. Or to lovingly acquire for the…wait, what was it again?
Really, it’s a tribute to the show’s legacy that the genesis of so many characters, shows and plotlines is steeped in the Whoniverse, even if a few of them were just pitiful, lazy attempts to pilfer Who audience.
Here’s 5 of the best (and a bonus terrible one)
The Borg/Cybermen and Daleks Master plan/Star Wars
Granted, even casual geeks could pick this slightly obvious one out, but in addition to looking, talking and fighting identically, the Borg and Cybermen even share a phrase; “Resistance is Futile”
Even though it’s generally accepted that Trek writers originated this famous Borg phrase, the keen Whovian will know that the Cyber baddies uttered a variation of it; “To struggle is futile” waaaaayback in Tomb of the Cybermen in the 60’s, about 22 years before the Borg ever came across Picard’s bald head. Any way you assimilate it, the Borg owe alot to the Cybermen.
Days of Future Past
The X-Men predated Doctor Who by a couple of months, but the Time Lord’s adventures were a heavy influence on one of the comic’s most famous storylines, Days of Future Past. Co-creator John Byrne suggested the idea to begin the Xmen story in a dystopic future overrun by homicidal robots. Only thing was, Bryne got the “idea” from his memory of watching the 1972 serial “Day of the Daleks.”
Byrne would later recall that he may have accidentally lifted the basic plot from the Pertwee story, which like “Days of Future Past” features a future overrun by metal robots (the Daleks). Byrne hoped that since their story didn’t feature a police box traveling through time and space that no one would notice.
Cantina Scene/Dalek Master Plan
This one is a bit obscure, and perhaps open to debate, so stay with us. Star Wars creator George Lucas gets credit for the Cantina scene in the first Star Wars, effectively “inventing” the concept of multiple species meeting in a dark corner of the universe, but if you go back to the classic Hartnell story The Dalek’s Master Plan, theres is a scene of alien delegates meeting around a table that apes the famous Cantina scene. Check ’em out side by side.
It was almost certainly the first TV depitciton of an alien mashup and it’s likely Lucas (a big fan of Doctor Who…and crappy prequels) saw it at one point. Any Doctor Who influence on Jar Jar Binks is being denied. By legal means if neccessary.
Dirk Gently/HitchHikers Guide to the Galaxy.
As we’ve perviously mentioned, Hitch creator and geekdom hall of famer Douglas Adams owes a lot of his success to working on Doctor Who in the mid 70s. But when he left the show, instead of just stealing one of Tom Baker’s scarves on the way out, he took a bunch of his un produced scripts and rolled them into his HitchHiker universe.
Where to start? Dirk Gently, an eccentric space traveller with terrible dress sense. Proffesor Chronitis was originally a character in the non-aired Baker story Shada. Life, the Universe and Everything is based on Adam’s rejected Who script The Krikkitmen. There’s not much about the story that isn’t Who-inspired.
Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure
A film about a one named, eccentric yet powerful “lord” and a couple of younger companions travelling through time in a telephone booth. We could dig for more (Tegan=Ted?) but really, this is a slam dunk rip off.
BONUS AWFUL ENTRY!
Professor Wagstaff’s Time Machine
Many years after he signed off as The Doctor, the loveable Patrick Troughton returned to TV screens across the UK to play another quirky time traveller…and it was horrible. Troughton played the titular Professor Wagstaff in the made for TV movie, also known as a Hitch in Time (we’ll give you a few minutes to groan over that title) who was, wait for it…an eccentric scientist with a time capsule, a capsule which happened to have an acronym for a name. But the
TARDIS Wagstaff capsule can only carry a certain amount of weight and he’s too heavy.
So he has to send a couple of kids back into history. But not to worry: Nobody, in any historical period, would ever harm young kids, especially a girl. It’s a fact. Whether Troughton was aware he was stepping into a blatant copy of his previous TV “self” (points to us for the regeneration gag!) we’ll never know. But we hope for his sake none of the other Doctors made fun of him for it.