In this article, we rank the best 10 episodes of Doctor Who since 2005 in chronological order. Now I know this could get controversial quickly given the love that some Whovians have for the show. So how to introduce this? Since Doctor Who was revived in 2005, there have been 13 seasons, 5 Doctors and 3 showrunners. Anyway, I will not be counting specials or spinoffs in this list of the best Doctor Who episodes since 2005. That’s a list of its own. This is being written before Season 13 releases so none of Whittaker’s last season will be featured here.
Doctor Who was first broadcast back in 1963 and originally lasted until 1989, not including Paul McGann’s outing in 1996. It was, and still is, the premiere sci-fi show. It follows a rogue Time Lord, the Doctor (Doctor Who?), as they travel the universe in their time machine: The TARDIS. On their adventures, the Doctor meets companions who travel with him as he tries to stop his enemies. Classic villains include the Daleks, Cybermen and the Master who have all tried to beat the Doctor. and who failed nearly all the time. After years off the air, Doctor Who returned in 2005 to monstrous approval and hasn’t ever really looked back. It has also produced some truly wonderful doctors. These include the boyish 10th, the childlike 11th amongst others.
In this regular feature, we take a look at the top editions of a particular TV programme. And so today, we’re picking the best 10 episodes of Doctor Who since 2005. So, what tops our list? Read on to find out!
Best Doctor Who Episodes
10. The Eleventh Hour (2010)
Sometimes the best place to start is the end as this episode saw a changing of the guard. Russell T Davies and David Tennant stepped out and Matt Smith and Steven Moffat stormed in. This isn’t just one of the best Doctor Who episodes since 2005 but also one of the best Doctor introductions. This episode sees the recently regenerated 11th Doctor meet Amy Pond and together they confront the Atraxi and their captive: Prisoner Zero. If Matt Smith was worried about replacing David Tennant, it didn’t show as he delivers a boisterous performance with quotable lines in abundance. My favourite moment of this episode? Not the epic Doctor speech at the end but the sight of Matt Smith eating fish fingers and custard. A wacky and wonderful introduction to this ranking and the 11th Doctor.
9. Rose (2005)
From one opening episode to another and the very first Doctor Who episode in 2005. There was a lot of caution surrounding the episode given the leads weren’t traditional TV stars. They were a film/theatre actor and a former pop singer so massive credit to Russell T Davies, Chris Ecceleston and Billie Piper for pulling this out of the hat. The episode opens with Rose (Piper) going about her life when Eccelston shows up saving her from an Auton attack. For context, Autons are living plastic created by a being called the Nestene Consciousness. Besides the weirdly Eastender-like opening, this episode is full of laughs and great moments. To name one in particular, the Doctor not noticing the London Eye. Truly fantastic.
8. Silence in the Library/ Forest of the Dead (2008)
Now, this is where my best Doctor Who episodes since 2005 ranking might get controversial but this episode feels a bit underrated to me. Another example of Russell T Davies being able to create perfect tonal balance, this episode sees the introduction of River Song. Spoiler! Other than the spoiler obsessed archaeologist, this episode sees the 10th Doctor and Donna tackle the Vashta Nerada, flesh eating bugs, who have taken over the library over a period of 100 years. Whilst dealing with the VN, the Doctor also meets the aforementioned River Song and thus begins a long running joke about them never meeting in the right order. Yes it’s confusing and that can turn people away from this episode but like I said it’s a bit of an underrated gem, buried deep in the archives. (Get it? Like Library archives?)
7. Vincent and the Doctor (2010)
Back to 2010 and Matt Smith’s first season to visit an episode that always manages to bring a tear to my eye. This episode sees the Doctor and Amy travel back to see Vincent Van Gogh who is being haunted by an alien called Krafayis. This all started when the Doctor was intrigued by a figure in a Van Gogh painting, truly a picturesque premise. If you haven’t seen this episode, you might assume it to be jolly and upbeat in tone. Yet, it is a brilliant dive into mental health and the problems and stigmas that surround it. A lot of the emotional beats come from a phenomenal performance by Tony Curran and that final scene where the Doctor takes Van Gogh to see the impact his work will have on future generations. Utterly beautiful and poetic.
6. Mummy on the Orient Express (2014)
At Number 6 in the best Doctor Who episodes since 2005 is the first entry for the12th Doctor. This is probably the best episode to show to that one mate who stopped watching after David Tennant left. You know who you are… Anyway, this episode parodies the Murder on the Orient Express. This episode’s premise is that it’s the Doctor and Clara’s last adventure so they travel to the Orient Express in space. However, the Doctor walks into the middle of a mystery with passengers being killed off by The Foretold. The twist is that only the Foretold victim can see it and it only appears 66 seconds before it kills its victim. This leads towards a fantastic final sequence which I won’t get into here. Also I need to mention how strong the supporting cast is, especially Jenna Coleman and Frank Skinner. Skinner especially delivers a brilliant performance.
5. Midnight (2008)
Remember when I said this might get controversial? Well, this is definitely going to annoy you depending on what you want from a Doctor Who episode. Midnight sees the Doctor tangle with an entity from the planet Midnight that can mimic and possess people on the tour bus that the Doctor is on. This leads to a psychological thriller that taps into how we as people can turn against others with persuasion and psychology. Nonetheless, David Tennant acts his socks off with a more gritty and grounded performance than his usual bouncy self. However, I can appreciate why some fans might not like Midnight as much due to it’s more deliberate nature and the fact the creature remains anonymous.
4. Time of Angels/Flesh and Stone (2010)
Another entry for Matt Smith and Season 5. Almost like people really enjoy Season 5 as one of the best of all time… Anyway, this episode is two years in the making. How? River asks the 10th Doctor if they’ve been to the crash of the Byzantium. Well here is the payoff as the Doctor, Amy, River Song and an army of gun-wielding church officials are tracking down a Weeping Angel. That may not sound too bad until the crew get into a deserted temple and then Moffat pulls the old Alien-Aliens trick. That is the most roundabout way of saying an army of Weeping Angels are hunting the crew. Brilliant twists aside, this episode delivers wonderful horror, some excellent set pieces and a terrible ending. Still to this day, what does walking like you see mean?
3. Heaven Sent (2015)
Now we are really into the top episodes of my best Doctor Who episodes since 2005 ranking. Heaven Sent was the conclusion of the 9th series of Doctor Who and it follows the Doctor as he is stuck in his confession dial. As the name suggests, the Doctor is trying to confess something to himself and the monstrous Veil which is stalking him. Eventually, the Doctor reaches a wall made of Azbantium. What does he do? Punch the diamond wall for 4.5 billion years until he breaks through. The reason Heaven Sent ranks so high for me is how it could be seen as a metaphor for grief. This episode does come after the Doctor loses someone significant whose name rhymes with Bara Boswald. This episode depicts the Doctor grieving and doing anything he can to get over his loss which just adds to the drama.
2. Blink (2007)
Shock and horror. The Angels are back and boy did Steven Moffat hit the ground running as a writer. This episode sees the Weeping Angels tracking down the Tardis key having successfully sent the Doctor back to 1969. This episode perfectly encapsulates the Angel’s quantum lock ability: they freeze when observed. Blink also delivers a Doctor-Lite experience with Carey Mulligan being the only thing between the Angels and the Tardis key. Doctor-Lite simply means the Doctor is hardly in the episode and it centres around someone unattached to the Doctor. Simply put Mulligan delivers a great performance and to this day it has my favourite line ever spoken in Doctor Who. The line in question? ‘The Angels have the phonebox. That’s brilliant. I’ve got that on a T-Shirt’. It also displays simple yet effective time travel paradox knowledge for a great twist ending.
1. Human Nature/ Family of Blood (2007)
What else was I putting at Number 1? Widely regarded as one of the best episodes ever as it deals with so much stuff. To summarise, race relations in the 1910s, WW1, the morality of the Doctor making himself human and the brutality of the Doctor. That’s not even mentioning a family of elite predators: The Family of Blood are hunting the Doctor down. As they want to steal the Time Lord’s lifeforce, due to their short lifespans. On top of all that, the supporting cast thoroughly delivers with Freema Agyeman and Harry Lloyd more than delivering, with Lloyd turning in one of the best in modern Doctor Who. The ending of this two-parter is brutal with David Tennant mercilessly punishing the Family for daring to take his lifeforce.
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So, those are our thoughts on the best 10 episodes of Doctor Who since 2005! But what do you think? Let us know by leaving a comment below!