Top 15 New Who Episodes and Specials

Film & TV Top Lists
Top 15 New Who Episodes and Specials

Note: This list was formed prior to Capaldi’s Doctor.

Fifteen episodes spanning seven seasons of material, three doctors, and numerous companions. To say we had our work cut out for us was putting it mildly. We only recently joined the ranks of our loyal Whovian friends, but we consumed all of the episodes at a rapid rate and were able to be caught up and ready for a new Doctor. There were so many amazing episodes that it was difficult to pick just these 15. In fact, we spent a good deal of time just staring at our list trying to figure it out. Luckily, with only one honorable mention in our list, we managed to accomplish our goal. So, here is our top 15 + 1 Honorable mention, favorite Doctor Who episodes.

Honorable Mention: The Girl in the Fireplace

The Girl in the Fireplace

The Doctor: 10
The Companions: Rose, Mickey
The Story: Since her days as a child, Madame Du Pompadour has been haunted by dreams and late-night visits from The Doctor. Now an adult, her court at Versailles is being attacked by clockwork killers and she needs him to save her before it’s too late.

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Why We Love it: This was the one episode that was fought to keep on the list. Tennant and Piper are top notch actors and 10/Rose is a combination we will forever love, but adding in the dynamic Madame Du Pompadour was a recipe for success. It also shows the personal relationships that The Doctor builds with people and how they need him for so much more than just saving the day.

15. The Christmas Carol

Doctor Who The Christmas Carol

The Doctor: 11
The Companions: Amy, Rory
The Story: Amy and Rory are trapped on a crashing spacecraft and it’s up to The Doctor to save them. The only way he can do this is to save the soul of a grumpy old miser. It’s Christmas Eve and things seem impossible, but with the hope for a Christmas Miracle and The Doctor on your side, anything is possible.

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Why We Love it: Are we the only ones that finds Amy more palatable when she’s not around The Doctor sucking up his energy? In any case, this episode was extremely well-written and we loved the beautiful girl that was essentially held hostage except for her fun, Doctor-filled Christmas Eve celebrations. The love story sealed the deal for us, really. It was one of the most successful Christmas specials (to us) for this reason.

14. Father’s Day

Doctor Who Fathers Day

The Doctor: 9
The Companion: Rose
The Story: Rose ends up in 1987, where she witnesses the death of her father. Unable to just stand by and watch, she messes with the course of events, and inadvertently turns a wedding into a massacre.

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Why we Love it: This is the first time where we get a good glimpse of Jackie as more than a one-note, but highly entertaining, mom. We get to learn a lot about her and it makes her a far more interesting character. You also see how much not having a father bothers Rose and how she would be willing to do anything, even attempt to change the course of time to fix that.

13. Rise of the Cybermen/The Age of Steel

Doctor Who The Age of Steel

The Doctor: 10
The Companions: Rose, Mickey
The Story: The TARDIS ends up stuck on parallel Earth and Rose discovers how different life is for everyone. She gets to reunite with her father and things seem like they are going well, until plans for the Upgrade are near complete and set to affect all of British society.

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Why We Love it: The Cybermen are definitely one of the scariest enemies of The Doctor and they are in no short supply in this two-part episode. Seeing the differences in each character was really entertaining. We love the parallel world story and watching the humanity and overt emotions unfold from all of the humans from both worlds. We also were fans of the “too much technology could kill you” theme. Truth!

12. Vincent and the Doctor

Vincent and The Doctor

The Doctor: 11
The Companion: Amy
The Story: The Doctor and Amy travel back in time to meet a tortured, Vincent Van Gogh. The cornfields of Provence hide some terrible secrets and only the poor painter can see them. Together, The Doctor, Amy, and Van Gogh work to defeat the horrible menace in hopes of improving the life of the plagued painter.

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Why We Love it: The historical Doctor Who episodes are always interesting and fill that question of what certain people might have been like. In this episode, we see the damaged soul of Vincent Van Gogh. One of our favorite parts of this episode is that it’s the first time Amy shows any real depth. It seems that she learns that sometimes the things the Doctor does to change the lives of others still leads to the same future outcomes. She learns that he’s not able to save everyone and has to be alright with that.

11. The Empty Child/The Doctor Dances

The Empty Child

The Doctor: 9
The Companions: Rose, Jack
The Story: It’s 1941 and homeless children are being terrorized by a frightening child wearing what appears to be a gas mask. A mysterious cylinder is being guarded by the Army and Captain Jack makes his first appearance, helping the cause and wowing Rose in the process.

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Why We Love it: The most obvious reason is that, in our opinion, these two episodes are the best written episodes of the first (new Who) season. This was the first set of episodes where we just knew we were going to be a diehard fan of the show. Completely in the moment, we were not interested in figuring out why the children were being infected, we just wanted to watch and learn as things began to unfold. The addition of WWII was nice, as well, as we are big history buffs. Finally, we loved that they chose to use a child as the vessel for terror.

10. Let’s Kill Hitler

Lets Kill Hitler

The Doctor: 11
The Companions: Amy, Rory
The Story: The Doctor heads to 1930’s Berlin where he comes face to face with Hitler! As conflict occurs all around him, it is up to The Doctor to teach his enemies a lesson. Meanwhile Amy and Rory realize their best friend wasn’t the person they thought she was.

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Why We Love it: There is a lot going on in this episode, including the birth of River Song. What’s not to love about that?!? The whole, kill Hitler theme is pretty cool, too. Seriously, who wouldn’t want to go back in time to accomplish that?

9. Silence in the Library/Forest of the Dead

Silence in the Library

The Doctor: 10
The Companion: Donna
The Story: The Doctor and Donna have to discover the secret of library. Once, the universe’s greatest library was a mecca for all, but now it’s sealed off with just a warning telling people to “Count the Shadows.” As The Doctor arrives, the shadows are moving again, and they need to learn the truth behind all that is going on as quickly as they can.

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Why We Love it: Spoilers! This first episode where we meet River Song is entertaining at first and somewhat heartbreaking when we learn how close she is to a Doctor that doesn’t even know her during this current meeting. It also shows the brilliance of the writers for creating such a dynamic character who becomes such an integral part of the Whoverse in later episodes.

8. The Wedding of River Song

The Wedding of River Song

The Doctor: 11
The Companions: Amy, Rory, River Song
The Story: The Doctor is prepared to say goodbye as he makes his final journey to Utah. Never one for goodbyes, The Doctor is content in knowing that the universe will be safer without him. River, on the other hand, has different plans for the good Doctor.

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Why We Love it: The Doctor and River share a chemistry that only two, megalomaniac psychopaths can share. They make the screen sizzle. Not one for real vulnerability, River shows how far heart can take you. Like nearly anyone else, River is willing to give her all to the Doctor. This time he shows he’s willing to give up just as much of himself for her, as she would for him. The ending is also ridiculously brilliant.

7. The Angels Take Manhattan

Angels take Manhattan

The Doctor: 11
The Companions: Amy, Rory
The Story: Rory’s life is in danger as The Doctor, Amy, and Rory enjoy a vacation in Manhattan. With Rory gone and time slipping, The Doctor and Amy need to find him before it’s too late. With his safety on the line and a choice to be made, Amy bids The Doctor farewell in hopes that she can save Rory one last time.

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Why We Love it: The selfish answer here would be that Amy leaves. In truth, though the episode is beautifully written and incredibly well acted. Seeing Amy make the ultimate choice is heartbreaking for her, but ultimately necessary for The Doctor and us to move on. While Moffat has been known to drop the ball in the Smith years, this was an incredibly smart story and one worth celebrating.

6. Turn Left

Turn Left

The Doctor: 10
The Companions: Donna, Rose
The Story: When Donna’s world begins falling apart, Rose Tyler is there to help. It is up to Rose and Donna to try and save the world this time, but things are dark and begin to look impossible without the existence of The Doctor.

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Why We Love it: Considering how little The Doctor was in this episode, it was a nice change of pace to see two companions really carry an episode. This episode brought back Rose, which was a welcome addition. It also offered a heartbreaking look at Donna’s life without The Doctor, which made us very sad. This episode made us see how much we liked Donna. It was also an intelligent way of showing us that with timey wimey stuff, nothing is ever set in stone.

5. A Good Man Goes to War

A Good Man Goes To War

The Doctor: 11
The Companions: Amy, Rory, River Song
The Story: The Doctor brings an Army together to rescue a kidnapped, Amy Pond. However, as Rory and The Doctor move Heaven and Earth to get Amy back, The Doctor’s enemies are creating a trap fit for a Doctor. River Song realizes that this fight is the Battle of Demons Run, also known as the Doctor’s darkest hour. River reveals her darkest secret to the Doctor as both sides of the battle make sacrifices for what they believe is the greater good.

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Why We Love it: Everything about this episode screamed well-written perfection. We love when The Doctor brings in his allies, and we adore how in later episodes these allies remain there waiting to help him to defeat the evil in the universe. Everyone had a specific part to play here and they all did it well. It was a fun episode and it brought us further into the River Song storyline, which is never bad.

4. Army of Ghosts/Doomsday

Doctor Who Doomsday

The Doctor: 10
The Companions: Rose, Mickey
The Story: The ghosts of loved ones come home but The Doctor realizes that all is not as good as it seems. The investigation leads to Torchwood Tower where they learn that Earth is being invaded by a force that its never dealt with before.

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Why We Love it: The Daleks can be an infuriating bunch, but any episode with Jackie is bound to be at least mildly entertaining. This season ender also further shows the connection and the devastating loss that occurs between Rose and The Doctor, while introducing Donna who becomes a major player later.

3. The Stolen Earth/Journey’s End

Journeys End

The Doctor: 10
The Companions: Donna, Martha, Rose, Jack, Sarah-Jane, K9
The Story: On the streets and in the skies, The Doctor’s most trusted allies form an Army to battle Earth’s greatest threat. The Doctor and Donna need to handle the Shadow Proclamation in hopes of bring the Daleks down. Things may look bleak, but the Doctor has his best companions by his side, willing to do whatever it takes to save the world one more time.

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Why We Love it: This set of episodes managed to give fans (and Rose) something they wanted more than anything, while taking something else away in the most heartbreaking of ways. It was an emotional roller coaster of good and bad points.

2. Blink

Blink

The Doctor: 10
The Companion: Martha
The Story: The Weeping Angels are waiting for you! A young woman named Sally receives messages from 1969 from The Doctor. It’s up to her to figure out what he is talking about before the Angels come for her and finish what they’ve started.

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Why We Love it: This episode does not feature too much of The Doctor or his companion Martha, but what it lacks in Doctor it makes up in Sally (Carey Mulligan). This excellent episode is our introduction to the Weeping Angels and will ensure that you never look at those statues the same again. It’s also probably one of the most quoted episodes in recent years. Short of the next on the list, it is by far one of the most superior episodes in the history of Doctor Who.

1. The Day of the Doctor

Doctor Who Day of the Doctor

The Doctors: 10, War Doctor, 11
The Companion: Clara
The Story: In the 50th Anniversary special, time and space are in a constant upheaval. In modern day, there is something waking up in London’s National Gallery. Back in the 1500s, there is a murderous plot unfolding in Elizabethan England. Finally, in space an ancient war is drawing to an unfortunate close. Once again, The Doctor is haunted by the horrible realities of the things that he has done and may have to do again.

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Why We Love it: Having Tennant back and throwing in John Hurt made this episode the most fantastical Doctor Who ever filmed. Seeing Smith and Tennant play off of one another was brilliant and beautiful all at the same time. Clara worked well with all of the Doctors, also, showing us what a good companion she is and setting up the idea that she cares for The Doctor and not the face, which will be important as his regeneration is right around the corner for her.

Ashtyn Law is a freelance writer living in Ohio. Focusing on film, she spends much of her days watching and analyzing film and television and also writing screenplays.

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