Want to watch Doctor Who but aren’t sure where to start? Or maybe you’ve been away for a while and want to catch up? We’ve got you covered! Here’s your guide to all of the essential Doctor Who episodes from 2005 onwards…
This is the episode that re-launched the series in 2005 and saw the Ninth Doctor meet Rose Tyler for the first time, plus the return of some deadly living plastic in the form of Autons!
The End of the World
One of the pivotal Doctor Who episodes as a key detail about the Doctor’s past (and present) is revealed, and one that sets the tone for the entirety of the Russell T Davies era (that is, the showrunner from 2005 – 2010.)
Linking with the plot revelation in ‘The End of the World,’ this episode sees the return of the Doctor’s deadliest enemy in a strange alien museum in Utah. But will you weep for the most dangerous killing machine in the universe? Watch and find out!
Bad Wolf / The Parting of the Ways
These Doctor Who episodes form a two-part story that wraps up the loose ends from Series One. It all takes place in the far future on board the Game Station, where unwilling gameshow participants fight for survival against Anne Droids and… something else. ‘The Parting of the Ways’ is also the last episode to feature the Ninth Doctor, who regenerates in its closing moments. Please do not swear.
The Christmas Invasion
‘The Christmas Invasion’ is a historic moment in the history of Doctor Who episodes as it is the first ever Christmas special, as well as the first full episode to star David Tennant as the Doctor. First broadcast in 2005, ‘The Christmas Invasion’ sees the newly-regenerated Time Lord take on a race of blood-controlling aliens who are intent on enslaving planet Earth.
Army of Ghosts / Doomsday
The day Rose Tyler dies. Or is it? This pair of Doctor Who episodes wraps up the show’s second season, as two of the Doctor’s deadliest enemies lock horns at Canary Wharf. We also get to meet the Torchwood Institute for the first time, something that would become a key part of Who lore and spawn one of the series’ first spin-offs.
This episode is considered by some to be one of the greatest of all-time. Watch it and make up your own min! Alas, the Angels have the blue box, so don’t turn your back, and don’t blink.
Silence in the Library / The Forest of the Dead
These Doctor Who episodes introduce us to the mysterious Professor River Song, an important woman from the Doctor’s future. But how does she know the Time Lord’s real name? And can she help him to defeat the flesh-eating Vashta Nerada?
Utopia / The Sound of Drums / Last of the Time Lords
This trio of Doctor Who episodes comes at the end of Series Three, and takes the Doctor and his friends Martha and Captain Jack from the end of the Universe to modern day Earth as they become embroiled in something of a science fiction political thriller. Here come the drums…
Turn Left / The Stolen Earth / Journey’s End
These Doctor Who episodes come at the end of Series Four in one of the most epic Doctor Who crossovers of all time, uniting the worlds of Torchwood and The Sarah Jane Adventures along with a plethora of other characters from the Doctor’s travels. There is the small matter of the Daleks to contend with, and not everyone will get out alive…
The End of Time – parts one and two
It is returning. He will knock four times. The Tenth Doctor’s song is ending, and he has no intention of bowing to his Master. These Doctor Who episodes signal David Tennant’s final (continuing) appearance as the Tenth Doctor, and guest star former James Bond Timothy Dalton as – well, that would be telling. This should be spectacular…
The Eleventh Hour
The Eleventh Doctor has arrived! This is Matt Smith’s debut and is also the first to feature Karren Gillan as Amy Pond. The pair face-off with the fearsome Prisoner Zero, who’s on the run from the alien Atraxi who have every intention of incinerating “the human residence.” Just remember: bow ties are cool.
The Pandorica Opens / The Big Bang
There are cracks in the skin of the universe, and in these Doctor Who episodes, the Time Lord finally learns who (or what) caused them. This is one of Steven Moffat’s most timey-wimey finales, and one that sees the return of the mysterious River Song. Or is it Cleopatra…?
A Good Man Goes to War
Confused? You soon won’t be. ‘A Good Man Goes to War’ is one of those essential Doctor Who episodes as it finally explains the identity of River Song in a truly game-changing mid-season finale. After all, the only water in the forest is the river…
The Doctor is grieving after the loss of his companions, but a mystery is brewing in the snows of Victorian London. Just who is Clara Oswald? In a way, this was the first of the Doctor Who episodes to build up to the 50th anniversary celebrations, featuring the return of a baddy who hasn’t been seen since the 1960s…
The Name of the Doctor / The Day of the Doctor / The Time of the Doctor
These Doctor Who episodes don’t strictly follow on from each other in same way that some of the previous entries do, but they are strongly connected, and together they celebrate Doctor Who‘s 50th anniversary and also mark the end of Matt Smith’s tenure as the Doctor. And as if that wasn’t enough, these Doctor Who episodes finally explain who Clara Oswald really is, and reveal the War Doctor, and resolve a plot arc going all the way back to ‘The Eleventh Hour.’ If you have time, you should also slip the Eighth Doctor minisode ‘The Night of the Doctor’ into your viewing schedule.
You could argue that ‘Deep Breath’ is the fourth part of a much bigger story, following on from the three previous Doctor Who episodes on this list. There is one particular scene that – well, we won’t spoil it. ‘Deep Breath’ also marks Peter Capaldi’s first outing as the Twelfth Doctor.
Dark Water / Death in Heaven
These Doctor Who episodes represent some of Steven Moffat’s darkest work, painting a terrifying picture of what could happen to us when we die. And if you’re not feeling frightened yet, you soon will be. ‘Dark Water’ marks the return of a famous Doctor Who villain – and no, it’s not the Cybermen (although they appear too…)
Face the Raven / Heaven Sent / Hell Bent
A loosely-linked trio of Doctor Who episodes that comes at the end of Series Nine. These make for essential viewing owing to the departure of Clara Oswald, plus the return of – well, something that was lost. ‘Heaven Sent,’ meanwhile, is notable for (mostly) being a one-hander, driven almost entirely by Peter Capaldi. But tell us – how many seconds are there in eternity?
The Husbands of River Song
The Doctor finally gets to visit the Singing Towers of Darillium, and it’s glorious. ‘The Husbands of River Song’ ties up the loose ends from ‘The Forest of the Dead,’ and is well worth an hour of your time.
World Enough and Time / The Doctor Falls / Twice Upon a Time
Another three part swansong for the Doctor. In these Doctor Who episodes, the Time Lord must battle multiple versions of multiple enemies and, to cap it off, work alongside his very first incarnation to solve the mystery of the glass avatars – all in time to regenerate. Moreover, these episodes mark the end of Steven Moffat’s time on Doctor Who as he hands over the reins to new showrunner Chris Chibnall and the Thirteenth Doctor Jodie Whittaker.
The Woman who Fell to Earth
We don’t get aliens in Sheffield! Right? ‘The Woman who Fell to Earth’ is Jodie Whittaker’s debut, and also introduces us to new companions Graham, Ryan and Yaz. Can they defeat the icy Tzim-Sha and his face-full of teeth?
Spyfall – parts one and two
There are two important plot revelations in ‘Spyfall’ – one at the end of part one, and one at the end of part two. Just remember: look for the spymaster…
Fugitive of the Judoon
Some Doctor Who episodes have the potential to fry your brains, and ‘Fugitive of the Judoon’ is no exception. This episode is notable for the role played by Jo Martin (which we won’t spoil here) and the return of one of the Doctor’s former companions, who issues a sinister warning…
Ascension of the Cybermen / The Timeless Children
Whilst some Doctor Who episodes fry brains, others divide them. ‘The Timeless Children‘ may be one of the most controversial episodes of all time, delving into the Doctor’s origins in a way that few could have expected. Love it or hate it, ‘The Timeless Children’ is an important part of Doctor Who history, and you’ll be sure to come away with an opinion. Otherwise, tune in for the return of several Doctor Who baddies, and their Master…
What do you think of our selection of essential Doctor Who episodes? Are there any that you would add? Let us know in the comments below!
See here for our guide to essential classic Doctor Who.
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