The List: Top 10 Greatest Doctor Who Moments (2005-17)

So, seen as there wasn't a poll up last week (due to an unfortunate oversight on my part), I didn't have a list topic planned for this week. So what to do when I don't have a topic planned? Well, I've been doing a decent number of Doctor Who lists since the start of the year, so why break a trend right? This week we're looking at the best "moments" of the revived series of Doctor Who (2005-17). By moments, I'm talking about scenes that are especially emotionally impactful, that show the series writing at its best and its characters (especially The Doctor) at their most enthralling and engaging.  For example: David Tennant's "I am The Doctor" speech aboard the wreck of The Titanic in the 2007 Christmas Special, which is around 8 lines of continuous dialogue that coveys everything you need to know about the character, not only through his words but through Tennant's delivery and the reactions of the other characters in the scene. That particular scene would be number 11 on this list if I went to a top 20, so consider it an honourable mention.

Before we get started, I'm only including one moment/ scene per episode, so whilst some episodes have multiple classic moments, I'll only be including the one that I feel is the best. Now without further ado, I think its time we went on an adventure in time and space.

10. "Lord President. With respect, get off his planet." (Series 9, Episode 12- Hell Bent)


The most recent moment on our list see The Doctor facing down a firing squad upon his return to his home planet of Gallifrey, whilst narrating the story to Clara in a dinner in the future. This scene was built to so well, considering it's within the first 10 minutes of the episode, with the Time Lord counsel sending multiple people to confront the Doctor without success until finally the Lord President, Rassilon, has to lead a squad personally to deal with the renegade Time Lord. But what really makes this scene powerful is that we get to see how much of an effect the Doctor has on his own people. We're used to seeing him from our own perspective, through the eyes of one of his human companions, where he looks and feels other-worldly and God-like, but to see that he even has that effect on those who should be his equals really takes the character to another level. This is also bolstered by the fact that The Doctor doesn't speak throughout this entire exchange until right at the end, he just lets events play out in his favour without doing anything to influence them until his victory is all but assured, and then he plays his trump card. Classic Doctor.

9. "It's called the TARDIS... Time And Relative Dimension In Space" (Series 1, Episode 1- Rose)

This spot could quite easily have gone to the moment where The Doctor and Rose first met, which was in its self a perfect introduction to the series, or Martha's first introduction to the TARDIS (with David Tennant mouthing the words "It's bigger on the inside" along with her) but in terms of impact and importance, this scene has to take the spot. The first time a companion sees the inside of the TARDIS is a scene that is literally part of Doctor Who's DNA, right back to the very first episode, but this was the first of the new series, the first in a decade. It introduced new viewers to the concept of the TARDIS and what it was, something crucial to the series, and it was our first glimpse of the now iconic coral reef interior.

8. "Colonel Run Away" (Series 6, Episode 7- A Good Man Goes To War)

This episode had so many classic moments. The opening scene where Rory confronts the Cyber-fleet, the scene where the Doctor infiltrates the base, the scene where the headless monks attack and the final scene where River reveals her true identity are all contenders for this list, but I chose this scene. Why? Well, it encapsulates everything that made Matt Smith's Doctor my favourite. There's the charm, the jokes and there's that dark edge, the idea that he is a good man holding back for fear of what could happen if he let lose. The tirade he launches against Colonel Manton isn't very long, nor is it the nastiest verbal attack on record, but it is delivered with such venom, such malice and such righteous anger that you truly believe that the man who is speaking could, would and will destroy someone just through the power of their words. And that is how the Doctor should be. His actions say everything, but his words are where the real danger lies.

7. "Truth or Consequences" (Series 9, Episode 8- The Zygon Inversion)

Possibly the best "Doctor speech" in series history? If it isn't, it's very close. Doctor Who may be a very fantastical series, dealing with time travel, aliens, parallel universes, robots and a box that is bigger on the inside, but it is at its best, like pretty much all television, when it's stories are routed deeply in reality. The original series did this exceptionally well, dealing with major social issues of 60's-80's Britain, fuel shortages, changes of industry, de-colonisation and war. And that is what made this episode so great, it took a look at a major social issue, the war on terror, through the lens of a sci-fi program and it was all to lead up to this moment. The moment where Peter Capaldi basically has 10 minutes to himself to make one of the most well written and well performed speeches of the last decade of TV drama. It's mocking yet impassioned, a plea and a threat, delivered with fury and compassion, with such a fire that it makes you take notice even though the sentiment is old and simple. It's by far the best moment Capaldi has yet had as the Doctor and, as I said at the beginning, what I consider the best speech in the series history.

6. "Not just one of the worlds greatest artists, but one of the greatest men who ever lived" (Series 5, Episode 10- Vincent And The Doctor)

This scene is probably the most beautiful in the history of the series. We just had the best speech, now we get the most beautiful scene, funny that. In terms of pure emotion, the team got it just right. And it stands alone on its own merits as well, all you need to know is a little about Van Gough and that this is him being taken from the past to the present day and the scene has exactly the same emotional impact, straight from when Tony Curran steps in front of the Van Gough self portrait. And massive props to Curran for his performance in this scene. He barely says a word and he doesn't need to because his expressions tell the whole story.

5. "Exterminate" (Series 1, Episode 6- Dalek)

Cue actual chills. Surely nobody needs me to explain why this scene is on this list right? I mean, this was the first time we see a Dalek (the most iconic foe the series has) since the series relaunch. The set up was perfect. The Doctor is in a locked room with no light and with an unknown alien being held captive by humans who he offers help to and then that grating voice speaks, the lights flash and everyone gets a shiver down their spine. And then the lights come on and we get our first glimpse of the new, chrome and brass Dalek design. Oh and then there's a scene which is highly emotionally charged and gives a huge exposition dump about why the series disappeared for 10 years, which does kinda help the case a bit, but it would still be this high on the list even without the plot dump, just because it's the first appearance of a Dalek on New Who.

4. "A Time Lord victorious" (Special 3- The Waters Of Mars)

In my personal opinion (and yours may differ), I found The Waters On Mars to be one of the weaker specials that rounded out David Tennant's tenure as the Doctor. It was slightly better than Planet Of The Dead, but wasn't as good as either of the Christmas Specials (having said that, one of those was The End Of Time, which is my favourite episode of the current run, so...). However, the episode ended on one of the best scenes of the revived series. All throughout the shows 50 years, The Doctor has always fought to preserve time, making sure events happen as they should. However, to see him purposefully change time, just to prove a point (as he does in this episode) is shocking. And to see his outright defiance and arrogance when confronted with it is even more so. This scene is wonderfully underlined by the music, which starts off serene as Adalaide Brooke realises what has happened and then takes a much more sinister and dissonant turn when the Doctor's mood becomes darker and more aloof, before hitting its melancholy crescendo upon Adalaide's suicide and The Doctor's realisation of what he has done, all perfectly leading up to the reveal of Ood Sigma and the heralding of his death. Which leads us too...

3. "I could do so much more" (Special 5- The End Of Time Part 2)

Obvious alert, this scene is magnificent. From the opening wide to close pan in on David Tennant's face showing how relieved his is to have survived his encounter with the Master and the Time Lords, this scene is just executed perfectly. The acting job from Tennant is superb, he tells a whole story with just his face in that opening shot, as we see the relief turn to anguish and disbelief at the sound of the 4 knocks on the glass, and then he gives a speech that starts off reserved before becoming far more passionate and finally resigning himself to his fate, a speech which at first appears directed at Bernard Cribbin's Wilfred, but upon second glance is actually the Doctor talking to himself, angry at himself because he knows that he just can't let this one person go, even at the cost of himself and all the good that he could yet do. Wonderful.

2. "Welcome to my new empire, Doctor" (Series 4, Episode 12- The Stolen Earth)

So, you're the Doctor Who team in 2008 and you need something big for your season finale. You already brought back a cavalcade of the series greatest monsters in the 4 series you've done up to this point, Autons, Daleks, Cybermen, Sontarans, even the Master. So how do you make this episode special? Well, you go a step further. He might have been revealed earlier in the episode, but the moment that Davros speaks to The Doctor for the first time in this episode still gives me goosebumps nearly a decade on. This scene contains two of the all time sell jobs from Elisabeth Sladen and David Tennant, both of whom react in broadly the same manner to the return of the creator of the Daleks, utter disbelief and fear. And when you have a character like the Doctor frozen in disbelief and terror, you know you have a powerful moment. It tells new fans, who may not have seen Davros before, that this guy is a serious threat, that there is a reason to be scared. It's the best villain reveal since the series relaunch. But not quite the best moment. No, that would be for another returning face.

1. "Just the old favourites" (50th Anniversary Special- The Day Of The Doctor)

Really, could it be anything else? Tom Baker, as we discussed last week, practically IS The Doctor, yet he never returned to the show during the original run. Hartnell did, Troughton did, Pertwee did and since the relaucn both Davidson and McGann returned as well, but not the guy who is most associated with the show, the man synonymous with The Doctor. So when you hear his voice from off screen right at the end of the 50th Anniversary special, you know that is just what it is, special. And then he comes on screen. I wish I could accurately describe the noise I made at that moment when I first watched the episode, but that would be impossible. Even watching it back now you get chills, you actually get chills before Baker has even said anything because you know what's coming up next. And that is a great moment, in fact, it might be the greatest moment in the entire 50+ year run of the show. But who knows hey. Who knows?

So, that's our list. Do you agree or disagree? Any moments you thought we left out? Let us know in the comments below.

And with that

JR out.

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One Response to The List: Top 10 Greatest Doctor Who Moments (2005-17)

  1. Herr D says:

    Ironically, my favorite scene in all Whosaga is with Eccleston, not my favorite doctor.

    The zipped-up stinky aliens were already there, sent a decoy, and Dr. Who had that beautiful moment when he realized he was falling into a trap. It ends with him saying the word “Us!” and facing the camera with the best face, closeup or otherwise, that he used during his tenure.

    My 2nd favorite is barely an aside, non-dramatic. Smith is explaining he wants to give an ultrasound to a beastie. Pond doesn’t even look back, knows Rory has a question. Just leans back and says, “Computer monitor.” She knows her guys . . .