15 David Tennant Roles Everyone Should Experience

15 David Tennant Roles Everyone Should Experience

For decades now, David Tennant’s Scottish charm has won over audiences far and wide. Whether it’s his role as The Doctor on Doctor Who or as Crowley on Good Omens, fans flock to this man as a form of comfort and respect.

On and off-screen, Tennant’s compassion, passion, and respect for others have everyone believing that the man can do no wrong. He’s so popular in recent years that his presence on TV put him in the running for the Tell-Tale TV Awards.

David Tennant fans are well-versed in his performances from TV to movies to Shakespeare theatre and are most likely well aware of each entry on this list. But, for those who are new to the David Tennant fan train, here are a few roles you don’t want to miss.

In no particular order, here are 15 David Tennant Roles Everyone Should Experience.

1. The 10th and 14th Doctor (Doctor Who)

David Tennant as The Doctor - Doctor Who 2005/2023

Starting in 2005, David Tennant wooed many sci-fi/fantasy fans with his portrayal of the 10th Doctor. His energy and demeanor have made him one of the most popular iterations of this iconic character.

His performance was so memorable and beloved that when Russell T. Davies returned as the showrunner in 2023, he created a three-part event in which David Tennant made an appearance as the 14th Doctor. The Doctor constantly regenerates but never carries the same face more than once, which makes Tennant’s reprisal that much more iconic.

Whether you are a casual fan or a die-hard Who watcher, David Tennant provides comfort and representation to a wide variety of viewers. Most queer and neurodivergent fans of the show accredit the 10th/14th Doctor with being the representation they’ve been desperately seeking from TV.

2. Crowley (Good Omens)

David Tennant as Crowley - Good Omens 2023

Most recently, David Tennant has been turning heads and gaining accolades from TV viewers for his portrayal of the beloved book character Crowley from Neil Gaiman and Terry Pratchett’s Good Omens. The artful way in which he tackles Crowley’s playful attitude adds layers to an already complex character.

There is something so relatable in the way that Tennant shows Crowley’s distrust in most members of authority while also making room for showing compassion to others. On the surface, a character known by most as a demon shouldn’t be inherently good, and yet, because of David Tennant, Crowley definitely makes the grade.

One of the most exquisite things about this role, in particular, is that Tennant is required to wear contacts in his eyes and yet, somehow manages to express so many warring emotions through Crowley’s eyes. Plus, the different ways that Crowley dresses throughout history are very gender-affirming for those of us who are trans or gender fluid.

Despite his prickly demeanor, Crowley’s actions speak much louder convincing viewers they want nothing more than to hug him close and never let go.

3. Himself (Staged)

David Tennant - Staged 2020-2023

Starting during the pandemic lockdown in early 2020, David Tennant and Michael Sheen came up with this wonderful idea that they, along with their partners Georgia and Anna, respectively, should do a series of video calls set to the plot that they are rehearsing for a Christmas play that will soon be performed.

This became so wildly popular that it was able to return for two more seasons after the initial one. Each season had a ridiculous plot explaining why they were still continuing to use video calls as a means of communication. It started off scripted, but in actuality, most of it ended up being improv based on whatever Sheen and Tennant came up with.

These two colleagues turned best friends kept the world laughing when everything beyond our front doors seemed bleak. It also allowed fans to get a glimpse of what these two beloved actors are like around their families and in the comfort of their own homes.

Despite initially being a means to bring joy and laughter during an uncertain time, this series remains a must-watch for any fan of David Tennant as he presents himself during fan events, conventions, or candid moments. That is the essence of what makes Staged timeless.

4. Huyang (Ahsoka)

David Tennant as Huyang - Ahsoka 2023

It’s a mark of how great David Tennant is that his one-off character from Star Wars: The Clone Wars was able to come back as a central character during a live-action series. The show Ahsoka might be about Ahsoka Tano, but Huyang steals the spotlight every time he’s onscreen.

While Huyang is a droid, and as such, he has a droid voice, it is still distinctly Tennant’s Scottish accent and cadence. Just like with many of his other roles, Tennant brings an element of wit to an often overly serious character.

The deadpan delivery of some of Huyang’s lines throughout this series has fans laughing at moments that probably shouldn’t have laughter. But that is what makes him so memorable. He’s a droid, but he has emotions and human characteristics, making him essential to the training of young Jedis.

5. Hamlet (Hamlet)

David Tennant as Hamlet - Hamlet 2009

Practically everyone knows the character of Hamlet from Shakespeare’s tragedy Hamlet. However, few truly know the beauty of David Tennant as the Danish Prince.

Whether you’ve seen the stage production live, which kudos to you, or just watched the film version of the 2008 staging, you’ve experienced one of the best modern retellings of the tragic tale. David Tennant runs around as the emotionally wrought Hamlet while wearing modern t-shirts and a well-worn parka.

Tennant is well-known for giving the best micro-expressions to add another layer to the characters he portrays. In the case of Hamlet, this works in his favor to put his name on such an iconic role that hundreds have also put their spin on it.

Tennant manages to transport audiences into the bereaved and unstable mind of the Prince as he tries to make sense of the treachery around him. Somehow, this version of Shakespeare leaves us believing this is the first time we’ve ever encountered this story because it feels fresh and new.

6. Peter Vincent (Fright Night)

David Tennant as Peter Vincent - Fright Night 2011

There is just something so alluring about the way that David Tennant can pull off a goth/leather look. Not only that, fans are obsessed with the way the man likes to plop himself into chairs.

While these are fun traits of Peter Vincent that initially grab our attention, what keeps us hanging around is his false bravado. Peter Vincent’s whole public persona is that he is this edgy, terrifying, but not terrified person.

Only when the chips are down, and he’s faced with a vampire problem does the man put his head in the sand and refuse to help. After some time, he comes around and somehow manages to help save the protagonist from certain death.

Fright Night is one of those vampire films that keeps us coming back for more because of David Tennant’s performance. He adds a layer of fun and nonsensicalness to a film that takes itself way too seriously.

7. Benedick (Much Ado About Nothing)

David Tennant as Benedick - Much Ado About Nothing 2011

Another example of a modernly set Shakespeare stage production, the film Much Ado About Nothing, brings new life to this absurd comedy. Putting David Tennant and Catherine Tate together once more, this production won over audiences across the West End before winning over the world with the film.

The way that David Tennant brings a spark of chaotic charm to the character, Benedick, and verbally spars with Tate’s Beatrice exceptionally well allows this Shakespeare play to stand out amongst the rest. While there have been many productions of this particular comedy, the Tennant and Tate version is by far the most fun.

There is something about the way Tennant brings a boyish charm and wonder to a character that should naturally irritate audiences from the start. And no one can deny the way we fell in love with Benedick and Beatrice when they stood side-by-side on the stage, Benedick covered with paint confessing his desire for Beatrice.

Ultimately, that moment is brought home thanks to Tennant’s smile and eyes full of mischief.

8. Campbell (Takin’ Over the Asylum)

David Tennant as Campbell - Takin' Over the Asylum 1994

The most loyal David Tennant fans are very familiar with one of his earliest works, Takin’ Over the Asylum. The character of Campbell charmed his way into our hearts from the first moment he came prancing onto the screen.

There is something so relatable about this character who has a diagnosis of manic depression. The care and respect David Tennant puts into portraying a role centered on mental illness was an early indicator of the good man he would continue to be well into his career.

Campbell is a character we love and want to protect because he has an easy-going, people-pleasing way about him that endears him not only to the people around him but to viewers as well. He is an early indication of just how complex Tennant’s talents can be.

This character is never one or two-dimensional. Across the 6 episodes that we spend with him, he shows us many sides of himself that aren’t always easy to swallow. But at the end of the day, we love him for all his positivity and struggle.

9. Scrooge McDuck (Duck Tales)

David Tennant as Scrooge McDuck DuckTales 2017-2021

When you have a long-standing, iconic character such as Scrooge McDuck, it can be hard to jump into a project revamping his story. However, when Disney rebooted Duck Tales back in 2017, David Tennant not only took on the hard task of voicing this legendary character, but he managed to make the role his own.

In fact, fans of Scrooge McDuck from their childhoods in the 90s now find it hard to imagine a voice for the role that isn’t Tennant. He just does the millionaire so well that we forget he didn’t originate him.

His thick Scottish brogue is perfect for the character who lives on a constant level of grumpy disdain for the world around him. And yet, Tennant’s McDuck manages to have a layer of adventurous curiosity about him that shows a fondness for his rambunctious nephews and is willing to begrudgingly go along with each misadventure.

10. Kilgrave (Marvel’s Jessica Jones)

David Tennant as Kilgrave - Jessica Jones 2015

There is a reason that the character Kilgrave is on practically every list of characters who terrify the pants off us. There is something so uneasy about the way in which Kilgrave moves through the world.

David Tennant nails this persona perfectly. We love this actor, but we know that if we turn on Marvel’s Jessica Jones to watch him perform, we will feel the need to shower immediately afterward.

It isn’t often that Tennant takes on a role that will make his audiences feel extremely uncomfortable about him. In fact, most of his roles are major comforts to fans.

However, something about the way Kilgrave manipulates everything about him makes us walk away not trusting our own minds. It’s a role that will forever remain with us, no matter how much time has passed since we viewed it.

11. D. I. Alec Hardy (Broadchurch)

David Tennant as D.I. Alec Hardy - Broadchurch 2013-2017

One of David Tennant’s more dramatic roles, D.I. Alec Hardy, is by far one of Tennant’s most beloved roles. He is right up there with The Doctor, Crowley, and Kilgrave.

In fact, most fans of Tennant’s recommend Broadchurch to anyone who is looking to see the full range of the man’s talents. Hardy is a character who can go from extremely well-put-together one minute to batshit chaotic the next.

Fans love this character because we all want to wrap him up and protect him. Alec Hardy has been through many complicated situations in his life and cares so much about his career that he is willing to risk his own health for it.

Not to mention, David Tennant’s chemistry with Olivia Colman, who plays his partner on the show, is out of this world. Their two characters irritate and respect each other on a level that is usually only seen with well-seasoned partners, not two people thrust together for the sake of an investigation.

Once again, David Tennant’s ability to master the micro-expressions that make emotionally poignant roles even more so is what has fans putting D.I. Alec Hardy toward the top of their favorites list.

12. Jimmy Murphy (United)

David Tennant as Jimmy Murphy - United 2011

People who aren’t familiar with European soccer history may not know the tragedy that rocked the entire Manchester United team back in 1958. Known as the Munich Air Disaster, this historic plane crash cost the youngest team to ever win the Football League, known as Busby’s Babes, most of their most valued players.

For the tale of United, David Tennant takes on the role of Jimmy Murphy, who was the coach of this talented crop of young men. It becomes his job to pick up the pieces of a destroyed football club and its surrounding community and ensure the team will rise again.

The subtle sorrow that Tennant portrays in Murphy’s eyes every moment after that fateful crash is what makes this role memorable. He manages to give the man a haunted look even as Murphy is trying to convince the surviving team members to play again.

Because of Murphy’s dedication to this team, viewers find themselves cheering through their tears for Manchester United to find strength, courage, and conviction in the face of immeasurable grief.

13. Alexander Litvinenko (Litvinenko)

David Tennant as Alexander Litvinenko - Litvinenko 2022

In case you are unaware, the story of Litvinenko follows the poisoning of ex-Russian spy Alexander Litvinenko with Polonium-21o back in 2006. The case launched one of the most dangerous investigations in the history of the Metropolitan Police.

Tennant takes on the titular role as part of a British four-part miniseries about the poisoning and death of this man. Once again, viewers get to see just how much of a range Tennant possesses as he manages to look the part of a dying man seeking justice.

Something about Tennant’s escape into the role of Alexander Litvinenko makes viewers believe he truly is the man in question. There is a raw honesty about how he approaches this role that hasn’t been seen before.

We are more compelled to care about what is happening to this man and his family because Tennant gives him a level of sympathy and human connection.

14. Casanova (Casanova)

David Tennant - Casanova 2005

Early on in his career, David Tennant made a name for himself as a stage performer with charm and charisma. This caught the attention of Russell T. Davies, who was trying to cast the perfect titular character for his miniseries Casanova.

Thus begins the working relationship between Tennant and Davies, which would continue to Doctor Who multiple times over the next few decades. As much as our thoughts don’t immediately turn to David Tennant when we think of the iconic character Casanova, he somehow made it his own.

Tennant’s Casanova is a charming individual who is introduced by seeing him jump out of a lover’s window to avoid detection. He then finds himself in a series of hilarious events as he tries to make his escape. That is the essence of what Tennant brings to the role.

He makes audiences laugh and smile as young Casanova runs through one romantic misadventure after another on the quest to find a real connection with someone.

15. Macbeth (Macbeth)

David Tennant in Macbeth 2023

David Tennant’s most recent stage performance has been lauded by many critics as a new but compelling take on a Shakespeare classic. Once again, Tennant takes a Shakespearean role that’s been done countless times and makes it his own.

Tennant’s performance in Macbeth brings the classic tragedy into the modern era. What’s so unique about this particular stage production was that it used binaural technology allowing the audience members to hear inside the central couple’s heads by wearing headphones.

Not only that, but this use of sound technology allowed David Tennant and his co-star, Cush Jumbo, to be that much more chilling. They could deliver their lines in a more natural manner befitting each scene because the sound went directly to the audience’s headphones instead of needing to be loud enough to project.

Fans who saw this production on stage walked away feeling the full might of what theatre can be when we take what is familiar and apply it to today’s technology. The Scottish Monarch, who is already menacing enough, left his mark on the audience’s souls because they heard him as if he were standing right next to them the whole show.

What David Tennant role do you think everyone should experience? Let us know in the comments below!

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Mads is a part-time entertainment journalist and full-time marketing content creator. They love reading the latest in Queer novels -- especially romance ones and watching the latest dramas, sci-fi/fantasy, Star Wars, and romcom films/TV shows. You can join the conversation by following them on Twitter: @dorothynyc89.

One thought on “15 David Tennant Roles Everyone Should Experience

  1. Richard II and Recovery are missing. I never thought I would care about Richard II. And Recovery is heartbreaking. And DT was so enticing and creepy in Secret Smile.

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