"The Resurrection Days are over": Resurrection from Doctor Who to Torchwood

Jim Clarke

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    4 Citations (Scopus)


    In the Doctor Who mythos, resurrection takes two opposing forms, one quasi-messianic and utopian, and one profoundly nihilistic and atheistic. Doctor Who presents opportunities of rebirth which provide a return to previous life or a continuation of existence, usually by way of the temporal or dimensional “erasing” of the fact of death. For the Doctor himself, resurrection by way of regeneration provides a discontinuous life, a resurrection which is neither continuation nor apotheosis. Resurrection in the spin-off series Torchwood, however, is seen to consistently fail, resulting in afterlives that are monstrous, fragile, and unnatural, involving fear and suffering on the part of those who experience not a return from or evasion of the finality of death, but instead experience a living death. For Captain Jack Harkness, resurrection is a strategy of eternal suffering, resulting not in apotheosis but in yearning for perpetually deferred death. In this article, I will suggest that the positivist narratives of Doctor Who propose a utopian existence in which wrongs, including death, can be reversed, thanks to the salvation capacities of the Doctor-Messiah. By contrast, Torchwood suggests a dystopian and nihilist existence in which not only is death inevitable, but salvation through a viable afterlife is impossible, indeed meaningless.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)31-44
    Number of pages14
    JournalJournal of Religion and Popular Culture
    Issue number1
    Early online date1 Jan 2015
    Publication statusPublished - Apr 2015

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    • Resurrection
    • Dr Who
    • Torchwood
    • Dystopia
    • Science fiction
    • Television
    • Death


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