Ranking The “Doctor Who” Christmas Specials

christmas tardisMerry Christmas Eve Eve! This post is extra-special… I’ve been feeling very Christmassy lately, and excited for the upcoming Doctor Who Christmas special, so I thought I’d make a top ten list of all the prior specials!

…and TBH, 2015 is the perfect year to do this because there were nine episodes last year and there will be eleven after the new one. YAY FOR HAVING EXACTLY TEN EPISODES RIGHT NOW.

I could’ve published this post on Christmas Day, I suppose, but I figured most of you would be busy celebrating, so I decided to save my longer posts for other days… like today!

Anywayyyy. Here are all ten episodes, ranked from least favorite to favorite.


10. “The Doctor, the Widow, and the Wardrobe”

…I just spent an incredibly long time trying to think of something nice to say about this episode, but I can’t. Ummmmm. I don’t know, I feel like the writers had a good idea – like, they were going for that whole Narnia vibe. But it just didn’t work out! I just don’t understand how they messed up so badly, especially considering what a great job they did with the previous Christmas special.

9. “The Time of the Doctor”

IT PAINS ME TO THINK ABOUT THIS EPISODE. The plotting was sloppy, the characterization was weak, and… I just… that’s not how you write time jumps, Steven Moffat. STOP IT WHAT ARE YOU DOING.

did love the scene where Amy Pond said goodbye to the Doctor, though. So there’s that.

8. “The Next Doctor”

This is another episode that could’ve been so much better! I love the idea of a man who thinks he’s the Doctor, who is attempting to travel using a hot-air balloon as his TARDIS. And I’m always a fan of stories that explore the Doctor’s loneliness! Ultimately, though, this episode fell flat for me.

7. “The Christmas Invasion”

Oh god, this episode is so cheesy! First there’s the killer Christmas tree, and then the Doctor fights aliens in his pajamas… but I do love how happy this episode is. And it was the first New Who Christmas special!

(…I’m still bitter about Nine not getting a special, just so you know.)

6. “Voyage of the Damned”

There are actually a number of things I dislike about this episode – the robot angels were just cheesy, all right? – but I love the group of aliens that the Doctor befriends. (…it just dawned on me that the Doctor is very much like my dad in that they both start talking to random people when we’re on trips and stuff. GO FIND SOME ALIENS, DAD.)

5. “The Runaway Bride”

DONNA! This episode definitely has its cheesy moments too, but… I don’t know, I can tolerate them here? I guess? I love Donna’s introduction, and I love that she later came back to the show and told the Doctor all about how, after meeting him, she started to travel and explore the world more in hopes of capturing that feeling of being with him again.

4. “Last Christmas”

Some parts of this episode confused me, but overall I really liked Twelve’s first Christmas special! I loved the supporting characters, and the plot reminded me of Inception in a (mostly) good way.

Also, that scene with old!Clara at the end? I CRIED. The scene with the Doctor and Santa riding alone in the sleigh was beautiful too.

3. “A Christmas Carol”

I actually just finished watching this episode! (For some reason, it wasn’t on Netflix two years ago when I binge-watched New Who, but it has since been added. AND I’M SO GLAD IT WAS.) This was a beautiful episode, and a wonderful sci fi version of the classic Dickens story! I MAY HAVE CRIED A LITTLE BIT. Also, the music was FANTASTIC.

(…watching it was a bit weird after seeing two series with Capaldi and not Smith as the Doctor, TBH. I’ve grown so used to Twelve that I’d forgotten some of Eleven’s mannerisms! They really do go about saving the day in different ways, don’t they?)

2. “The End of Time”

I like stories about the Master (even if his nefarious plots to rule the world are a bit, um… far-fetched and ridiculous), and the scenes where the Doctor says goodbye to his companions makes me cry every time. EVERY. TIME. (Especially Sarah Jane’s… oh, god.)

However, the real reason I love this episode so much is… Wilf! I LOVE THAT OLD MAN SO MUCH. We had only glimpses of him in series four proper, so I was overjoyed to find out that he got two entire episodes all to himself. (He’s my favorite companion after Donna and Martha!)

I love his friendship with the Doctor, and his love for his granddaughter Donna, and how Ten says that he’d be proud to call him his dad. I love that Wilf’s hobby is astronomy, and that he was able to travel among the stars one day. UGH I HAVE A LOT OF FEELINGS ABOUT WILF.

1. “The Snowmen”

I feel like a dork for putting this one first… especially since I feel like a lot of people would rank “A Christmas Carol” or “The End of Time” as the #1 special? BUT I LOVE IT. SO SO MUCH. It’s funny, and Vastra and Jenny are in it, and the visuals are absolutely amazing. (The scene in the clouds? Or in the Doctor’s newly-redesigned TARDIS? Yessss. ME LIKE.)

This is my FAVORITE Clara episode, too. The events of “The Snowmen” are actually hugely relevant to the plot of the rest of the series, which doesn’t often happen – most of the Christmas specials are one-offs. (“The Time of the Doctor,” “The Christmas Invasion,” and “The End of Time” are exceptions, IMO, because either the current version of the Doctor regenerates or a new one is introduced.)

Maybe it has something to do with how that particular special was sandwiched in between two halves of the same series, so it needed to have plot to carry the story forward? I DON’T EVEN KNOW. I JUST KNOW THAT IT’S MY FAVORITE AND THAT I HAVE SEEN IT AN EMBARRASSINGLY HIGH NUMBER OF TIMES.


Well… what’s your opinion?! Post your list in the comments below; I’d love to read them!

P.S. The upcoming Christmas special is titled “The Husbands of River Song” and you can find the trailer here. Are you looking forward to it? I know I am… it looks like the cheesiest special ever, actually, but I’m excited that River is back!


About nevillegirl

Elizabeth. University of Iowa class of 2019. Triple majoring in English & Creative Writing, Journalism, and Gender, Women's, & Sexuality Studies. Twenty-one-year-old daydreamer, introvert, voracious reader, aspiring writer, and lesbian. Passionate about feminism, mental health, comic books, and cats.
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9 Responses to Ranking The “Doctor Who” Christmas Specials

  1. NO. NO. NO. NO. PLEASE DON’T REMIND ME OF ALL THE SAD SPECIALS DAVID TENNANT HAD THEY MADE MY LITTLE HEART BREAK THERE WAS SOMETHING SO SAD ABOUT THE WAY HE PLAYED THE DOCTOR ;-; i did really love donna as a companion though it was great how their chemistry was really not romantic they just got along great and that was quite cool to watch after all his relationship companions. love the list, but OMG it broke my heart all over again. 😦

    • nevillegirl says:

      I agree! I think there’s a sadness in the way all the New Who versions of the Doctor are portrayed, but each of them are different in some way, which I love…

      DONNA! ❤

  2. Appletaile says:

    10 EPISODES. Such a lovely number. *sighs happily* Yeah, I was pretty confused at times by Last Christmas… But the end was really sad. Argh.
    I’m excited to see River again too! (A lot of my relatives think Doctor Who is ridiculous. There tends to be a lot of arguments about the TV channel on Christmas Day. :P)

  3. … Wow we are different. BUT I DO AGREE WITH YOUR BOTTOM RANKINGS. Oh my gosh I can’t think of a nice thing to say about #10 either. Okay bear with me as I say this, but… after “The End of Time,” (because TEN), “The Runaway Bride” is probably my favorite Christmas special, and “A Christmas Carol,” is probably one of my lower-half ones, along with “Last Christmas.” I don’t know, but I feel like people don’t give Donna enough credit in “The Runaway Bride.” And, um, is anybody going to rant with me about how they didn’t give MARTHA a Christmas special?! Like what’s up with that??

  4. themagicviolinist says:

    Aaaaahhhh, I just want to watch all of the Christmas specials again and it’s not even Christmas anymore!! “The Christmas Invasion” is my favorite though, despite the cheese factor, because I’d come to expect that at that point in the series. xD And I just love Tennant and his Lion King speech and his pajamas and Rose and her family and Harriet Jones and everything. But it’s become a tradition for me to watch “The Snowmen” every year since watching the whole series (probably my second favorite special), and this year I got my brother to watch with me! Now he’s begging to know what happens to Clara. I told him to find out he has to watch with me. 😉

    ALSO THE NEW SPECIAL ERMAGERD. Top five, for sure.

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