Stories about eternal life on earth abound in sci-fi and fantasy; I think of the Dúnedain from The Lord of the Rings, That Hideous Strength by C.S. Lewis, many a Star Trek episode, and the list could go on… The Highlander movie and TV series, however, is a favourite of mine. My family will attest to my random singing of “Who Wants to Live Forever”by Queen, or shouting out the catchphrase “there can be only one!” during battles with… well, anyone who will battle me.
The theme of immortality is also a constant in Doctor Who, since the Doctor is essentially immortal. Though there were two recent episodes that dealt with immortality head on—”The Girl Who Died” and “The Woman Who Lived.” In the first episode, a young Viking woman named Ashildr dies to save her village from aliens using a helmet that the Doctor modified. Feeling sad for her poor, grieving father, and perhaps guilty for his part in it, he decides to bring her back to life. He uses a modified microchip (he’s really into modifying alien tech in this episode) to bring her back and gives her a second one to use on someone else so that she will not be alone—because there’s a catch to this remedy—she will be immortal.
“The Woman Who Lived” picks up in Ashildr’s adulthood, several hundred years after her encounter with the Doctor. We find her so jaded, broken, and lonely from the solitude of her immortality (she never did use the second microchip) that she has been living a life of crime.