10 Best Episodes Of Doctor Who

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Premiering in November 1963, Doctor Who is a show that has managed to continuously captivate viewers in the United Kingdom, the United States, and across the globe. Even its unprecedented cancellation in 1989 couldn’t silence hardcore Whovians, resulting in a full revival of the series in 2005.

With the recent announcement of the 13th Doctor still making waves, we decided to take a look at episodes from both the classic and new series and see which of them reign supreme. Here are our picks for the 10 best episodes of Doctor Who:

  1. The Seeds of Doom

    Doctor: Tom Baker

    In this six-part episode, the Doctor and Sarah go to an Antarctic base where three scientists have discovered a form of unknown plant life buried in the snow. These turn out to be Krynoids, which are carnivorous and parasitic, and to make matters worse, one of the pods is stolen by a crazed millionaire with an affinity for plant life. The story is suspenseful, with horror elements that are genuinely terrifying for a show that, at the time, was considered to be a family-friendly. “The Seeds of Doom” is a must-see for any Whovian, and by far one of Tom Baker’s best outings as the good Doctor.

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  2. The Eleventh Hour

    Doctor: Matt Smith

    “The Eleventh Hour” sees the newly-regenerated Doctor, with the help of Amy Pond, forced to save the world from a galactic police force known as the Atraxi. However, with the TARDIS in ruins and only 20 minutes to complete the mission, this is easier said than done. After David Tennant’s acclaimed run as the Doctor, this episode proved that Matt Smith had what it takes to fill the shoes of his predecessor. Furthermore, it also helped paint the series in a more modern light, with a noticeably better use of CGI and more references to current technology. If you’re looking to get into Doctor Who and aren’t sure where to start, consider making “The Eleventh Hour” your jumping-on point.

  3. The Curse of Fenric

    Doctor: Sylvester McCoy

    This four-part episode is the penultimate story in Doctor Who’s 26th season, with the Doctor and Ace facing the ultimate test when the TARDIS materializes in World War II-era England at a top-secret naval base. On the surface, it’s a story of war, Vikings, and sea vampires, but at its core, “The Curse of Fenric” is actually about Ace fulfilling her destiny, marking the first time that a companion was actually given a full-fledged character arc. This, of course, would be one of the key elements of Doctor Who to be picked up on when the series was eventually revived in 2005. 

  4. The Empty Child

    Doctor: Christopher Eccleston

    In “The Empty Child,” Rose and the Doctor find themselves in 1941 London after the chasing and unknown object through space and time. This eventually leads to the pair coming into contact with a mysterious, deformed child who spreads terror with his constant cries for his absent mother. It’s a chilling episode, and one that marks a distinct tonal shift in the series thanks to the writing of Steven Moffat, who would end up taking over for Russell T. Davies further on down the line. We’re also introduced to Captain Jack Harkness, whose charisma and humor help to offset some of the darker aspects of the narrative. 

  5. The Robots of Death

    Doctor: Tom Baker

    “The Robots of Death” unfolds over the course of four episodes, with the Doctor finding himself accused of murder aboard sand mining vessel manned by both humans and robots. Suspenseful and beautifully designed, the story plays out like a classic murder mystery in which no one suspects that the butler did it. In this case, though, the butler is the robots, and they definitely did it. It’s a true homage to Isaac Asimov’s Three Laws of Robotics, and with design elements evocative of Frank Herbert’s Dune, “The Robots of Death” is an episode that’s tailor-made for science fiction enthusiasts.

  6. The Green Death

    Doctor: Jon Pertwee

    “The Green Death” is another six-parter, which sees the Doctor and Jo investigating the mysterious death of a miner in South Wales courtesy of a deadly green slime. It’s a story that’s heavy in environmentalist and anti-corporate subtext, straying away from the show’s typical monster-of-the-week template to tackle real-world social and political issues. However, there’s still the inclusion of some giant, carnivorous maggots to raise the stakes to life-threatening proportions and keep the narrative from feeling too much like one large PSA about pollution. The best part, though, is the parting of ways between the Doctor and Jo, as his companion decides it’s time to pursue her own interests. Her departure is a poignant moment and one that’s handled brilliantly in its understated simplicity.

  7. Rose

    Doctor: Christopher Eccleston

    As referenced earlier, a stronger focus on the Doctor’s companions became a prevalent theme when Doctor Who was revived in 2005. Sharing its namesake with the newest companion, “Rose” sees the life of an ordinary shop worker turned upside down when the Doctor rescues her from a race of plastic-based creatures whose home world has been destroyed. It’s the decision to reintroduce the world to the Doctor through the eyes of an outsider that makes this episode so successful, giving the series a fresh start without ham-fistedly shoving him into existing chronology. And despite the obvious effort put into making the revival accessible for new audiences, “Rose” doesn’t ignore fans of the classic series, either, giving them the first episode to feature the villainous Autons since 1971.

  8. Silence in the Library

    Doctor: David Tennant

    In “Silence in the Library,” the Doctor and Donna join a group of archaeologists at a 51st-century library to investigate its mysterious abandonment. The problem is, despite no visible signs of life, the Doctor still detects over 1 million life forms, setting the stage for the introduction of the Vashta Nerada – terrifying shadow creatures that lurk in the darkness. It’s an ingeniously creepy concept, and a brilliant way to explain the seemingly universe-wide, innate fear of the dark that exists not just in the show’s reality, but our reality, too. “Silence in the Library” is one of Steven Moffat’s best-written episodes, and definitely one that gets better with repeated viewings.

  9. The End of Time

    Doctor: David Tennant

    This two-part episode marks not only the departure of David Tennant but also showrunner Russell T. Davies, with a story that pits the Doctor against the Master, who recasts the human race in his own image and nearly triggers the restarting of the Last Great Time War. Tennant delivers one of his greatest performances as the Doctor, and we even get to see him encounter a number of faces from his past, essentially allowing the audience to say goodbye to the entire Davies run. As “The End of Time” comes to a close, we’re left with the beautifully tragic death of Tennant’s Doctor, the introduction of Matt Smith’s take on the character, and the knowledge that we’ve just witnessed the end of an era.

  10. Blink

    Doctor: David Tennant

    “Blink” is what many Whovians consider to be the greatest Doctor Who episode of all time, with a story in which Sally Sparrow receives a cryptic message from the Doctor about a mysterious new enemy species that is after the TARDIS. It's easy to argue that, without the Doctor, Doctor Who simply doesn't work, but Steven Moffat's script for “Blink” actually manages to make an asset out of Tennant's absence from the majority of the episode. He returns the show to its roots, casting ordinary people as the heroes and playing up the Doctor as magical, mysterious outsider. The episode also introduces the chilling Weeping Angels, who are arguably the most memorable Doctor Who monsters since the Cybermen. “Blink” is everything that a great Doctor Who episode should be, and serves as proof that even after five decades, the show still has the power to captivate fans in countless new ways.

    What about you? What are your favorite episodes of Doctor Who? Let us know in the comments section!