A zoll that beats your grandma’s fruitcake, ns annual Doctor who holiday special stellen a sci-fi turn on holiday cheer, not to mention a little bit of unterhalten to birds over Who fans betwee seasons. Native 2005’s “The Christmas Invasion” to the more current (and much more unconventional) neu Year’s job special, we’ve ranked all 15 Doctor Who holiday illustration from worst kommen sie best.

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15. “A Christmas Carol” (2010)

Following ns trash fire that was die Pandorica arc, “A Christmas Carol” tells ns story des a doomed spaceship and the rich miser who might save die day yet refuses zu do any type of such thing. That a hindurch attempt to adopt ns plot von Dickens’s A Christmas Carol — indeed, even matte Smith’s medical professional says it — but ns episode’s logic and execution space both off-target. Why does die Doctor decide the his best plan von action ist to literally change a male personality? no it bad to manipulate someone’s life? no we already learn how crossing one’s very own timeline can be disastrous? zum a show about a time-traveling alien und his human companions skipping through ns universe and saving ns day, we also get wenig of ours protagonists, and the personalities who are driven into die spotlight — Kazran Sardick und his icebox sweetheart Abigail — aren’t nearly interesting enough zu act together worthy substitutes. Bolzen its skies full des fish and its magical singing love interests, “A Christmas Carol” zu sein marked von nonsensical diversions an a story that doesn’t stand on its own.

14. “Spyfall” (2020)

The 2nd Doctor who holiday one-of-a-kind to notfall run on Christmas day (after 2019’s “Resolution”), “Spyfall” dispenses with the show’s usual vacation themes weil das a simple dive into the neu season. The a shame, though, because “Spyfall” ist utterly conventional, nondescript at best und dull at worst, in the way it picks trost where we last left off. When preparing zu depart on another adventure, the Doctor, Yaz, Ryan, and Graham space kidnapped von a bunch von suits und taken kommen sie MI6 headquarters, wherein — surprise! — Stephen Fry ist the head honcho und needs their help. Every over the world, undetectable aliens room attacking spies, und so the TARDIS team zu sein on ns case. Die episode announces from the get-go the we’re an for in hour of Spy vs. Spy: doctor Who Edition, und its characters jump in with james Bond-style cosplay. It’s far from the zuerst time the zeigen has played with genre tropes, but for all the playfulness that ns episode title’s punnery suggests, “Spyfall” chin doesn’t sport enough fun, intrigue, or originality. The baddies — die alien spies — are too amorphous to feel particularly threatening, and their human being targets seem too specific to give a sense des any high stakes. The twists, too, feeling predictable, right down to the double-cross des the Doctor’s alt spy buddy O (Sacha Dhawan), who is revealed kommen sie be ns Doctor’s alt nemesis die Master. In in episode marked von middling dramatic action and a dearth of whip-smart dialogue, ns appearance des the master feels lazy und unearned, specifically after the character’s belastung two momentous arcs, as played v delicious mania von John Simms and Michelle Gomez.

13. “The Snowmen” (2012)

One would certainly think that bei episode special the likes of richard E. Grant and Ian McKellen’s voice would rank higher, but alas, this episode around sentient killer snow is mediocre punkt best. Occurring after the Doctor loses his companions Amy and Rory, “The Snowmen” features a markedly downtrodden medical professional — a tone change that matte Smith, for all his vivid energy and kinetic charm, can’t rather pull off. It absolutely doesn’t assist that the episode promises a much more engaging antagonist 보다 it delivers. (A snowman who talks zurück to a lonely child? let’s go for it! A mean, tot nanny frozen an the pond? authorize me up! but once this villains appear, they do little to current themselves together believable threats.) ns lone saving grace ist Jenna Coleman, who makes herstellung second appearance bei the series as barmaid/governess Clara — a wittier, more likable version von the character that would become the next companion. Nineteenth-century Clara zu sein a brave, self-assured companion, even though produziert death is used to create the deus ex machina that resolves ns episode’s conflict.

12. “The Time von the Doctor” (2013)

Perhaps ns most criticized of all Doctor who Christmas specials, yet not badewanne enough that I kann knock it all die way under to ns bottom rung. With die Time Lords wait behind the ever-present crack an the wall surface — and all des the huge baddies from ns Whonerverse drawn bei by die signal passing v a quaint little town dubbed Christmas — the episode builds chin up to a significant blowout that never ever occurs. Ns premise, von course, zu sein that die Doctor zu sein caught in the middle of a perpetual cold war, but die tension never ever feels rather real, and neither does the Doctor’s obvious complacency through living out his job as ns protector des this little town. Die Doctor is always sacrificing his life weil das some better purpose or another, yet his turn as ns Father Christmas savior zu sein too defeatist kommen sie feel genuine, and it opens the gate kommen sie yet another deus ex machina in the form of ns Time Lords’ gifting their regeneration energy kommen sie him. The being said, ns episode redeems chin a wenig bit an the close up door minutes, as die Doctor says his last good-bye zu Amy Pond and reflects on die inevitable nature of change. It’s bei exit it is effective in its simplicity und understatedness, even if it no enough kommen sie save die rest des the episode.

11. “Voyage des the Damned” (2007)

There’s nothing disastrously wrong v this one. It’s a totally fine, self-contained story through all of the usual charms des any individual Doctor that episode, yet it’s deshalb totally unremarkable. An “Voyage of the Damned,” the Doctor finds self crashing a Christmas party on an intergalactic cruise delivery that zu sein fated zu nosedive right into Earth, killing everyone onboard as well as all ns unlucky earthlings below. Before tragedy strikes, he attempts zu save a small kopieren, gruppe of survivors, consisting of his would-be companion, Astrid (guest stern Kylie Minogue), but die episode tries auch hard kommen sie build bewegt stakes for each character, with quick exchanges completely intended zu make us care wie they die. Perhaps the real belästigung is that ns writers weren’t invested in these characters; after ~ all, they ns just zu illustrate ns Doctor’s inability zu save everyone und his constant struggle with that truth — a premise that would certainly be pulled turn off to viel better effect in “The Waters of Mars.”

10. “The Return of Doctor Mysterio” (2016)

An homage kommen sie classic superheroes, “The Return des Doctor Mysterio” runs with a checklist of comic-book clichés: die poor bijouterie who leben a double life; the liebe interest who, despite produziert brilliant journalism skills, ist unable zu discover the hero’s identity; and the dilemma our hero faces von needing kommen sie be in two places at ns same time. Justin Chatwin perfect embodies ns adorable boy next door rotate hero nanny, and Charity Wakefield gift a ausgezeichnet love interest, though neither character evolves much past your tropes. That’s die real belästigung here: that a cute and self-aware story, yet it’s deshalb not surprising because it sticks deshalb closely to classic superhero tropes. Matter Lucas zu sein delightfully odd bei his 2nd episode together Nardole, und he functions as a funny companion to peter Capaldi’s lovably cranky, downhearted Doctor, but ns episode nur isn’t initial enough to rank any type of higher.

9. “The ende of Time” (2009)

At this point in the series, Doctor Who was resolutely collection on die path des wrapping up david Tennant’s run. Unfortunately, “The ende of Time” zu sein shamelessly concentrated on being a means zu this end, deshalb it suffers from heavy-handed foreshadowing and bei overdramatic voice-over that detracts from die story. Ns plot zu bring ns Time Lords back gets a little convoluted (as any plot involving ns Time Lords tends zu be), though die Master’s plan kommen sie turn humanity into a “Master race” zu sein just odd and hilarious enough zu be believable, especially as it originates from a maniacal genius-madman. (Plus, john Simm is bei absolute act as die Master, und Bernard Cribbins deshalb delivers great scenes as ns ever-endearing Wilfred Mott.) The tonnage 20 minutes of this two-parter find ns Doctor speak his very long and silent good-byes zu loved ones, however it all leads hoch to ihm uttering those unforgettable tonnage words: “I don’t want zu go.” Tennant und the authors earned that ending, with die sad final twist of the 4 knocks allowing ns Tenth Doctor to perform one final, heartbreaking augenblicke of heroism prior to his death.

8. “The Doctor, die Widow, und the Wardrobe” (2011)

It’s difficult notfall to it is in drawn in by this cute, trim episode, if only because it has ns most holiday cheer of all the specials. When ns Doctor decides zu give a family a perfect Christmas bei the form of a decked-out mansion and a bit des Narnia covering up in a box, they get captured up bei a sentient forest’s attempt zu save itself from imminent destruction. That’s all well und good, but the episode’s real backbone is Madge Arwell, a mommy who just wants her children to have a an excellent Christmas regardless of knowing that herstellung husband nur died bei World war II. Time and time again, Madge come to ns rescue: commandeering und piloting alien machinery; moving within herself die souls of a entirety planet; und saving her husband together she navigates produziert family, die Doctor, und countless tree-souls through space und time. Die episode recognizes die strength von women, and mothers in particular, as Madge transforms out zu be ns big hero an the end. Bonus points zum the effortlessly soft ending, i beg your pardon reunites die Doctor v Amy und Rory.

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7. “The next Doctor” (2008)

Before “The Day von the Doctor” there was this meeting of Doctors, i beg your pardon starts through a comical case von déjà vu. Two Doctors weil das the price of one is in especially good deal wie man you consider die charm and playfulness of david Tennant und the earnestness of david Morrissey’s Jackson Lake, who borrows die Doctor’s nennen along through Tennant’s mannerisms and style. Die action und dialogue ist lively and fun, and the story des how Lake’s medical professional came to be is bei engaging und heartbreaking reflection of the ja wirklich Doctor, revealing his fears and profound sense of loss. Still, it’s the women who truly stand out in this episode: ns villainous Ms. Hartigan is a daring, feminist antagonist with enough brains and willpower to overcome Cybermen mind-control, and Lake’s companion Rosita would’ve been a great partner for the ja wirklich Doctor. An the final act des the episode, ns action — which contains a hot air balloon and Godzilla-sized Cyberman trampling Victorian england — gets too overinflated zum “The next Doctor” kommen sie rank any kind of higher, but the episode still has plenty to offer.

6. “The Christmas Invasion” (2005)

As the show’s very zuerst Christmas special, “The Christmas Invasion,” ist a classic, und not nur because the marks the anfang of david Tennant’s long and successful run as die Doctor. Beneath the basic premise — an impending hazard from ns Sycorax, who hold a third des the earth under their regulate — the episode’s true underlying problem focuses on the Doctor’s regeneration und how it wollen affect his relationship with Rose. In fact, die Doctor spends die majority of “The Christmas Invasion” being unconscious while kommissar broods end him, trying zu figure the end if he’s ausblüten the Time Lord the she loves. Tennant’s introduction ist bold und charming, together he himself tries kommen sie figure out what sort des a einer he is now. (When ns defeated leader des the Sycorax tries to attack him while his zurück is turned, die Doctor sends him to his fatality without a blink des one Gallifreyan eye, saying, “No second chances. I’m that sort des a man.”) the crowd des recurring favorites — including Jackie Tyler, Mickey Smith, and Harriet jones — round the end this episode.

5. “The Runaway Bride” (2006)

Featuring a automobile chase, evil Santa robots, gigantic spider creatures, deadly Christmas ornaments, a duplicitous fiancé, and plenty des lively banter, “The Runaway Bride” creates a great balance between action und comedy the keeps die episode engaging. And then there’s donna Noble. Stubborn, irascible, and perfectly ordinary, donna (Catherine Tate) may not initially it seems ~ like die typical companion, and thank God zum that. Magically appearing in the TARDIS on her wedding day and unknowingly caught in her fiancé’s trap to turn her into food weil das giant extraterrestrial spiders, donna shows nach oben at just the right time, when die Doctor is blieb sulking around Rose. From die beginning, it’s clear what a an excellent pairing lock make, und by the end, donna proves the she understands ns Doctor’s dark impulses, informing him, “Sometimes i think you need someone to stop you” before transforming down ns invitation zu be his companion. Even with that well-paced action und solid premise, the episode yes, really belongs kommen sie Tate — it’s no surprised she came rückseitig to die TARDIS as a continuous companion.

4. “Resolution” (2019)

For the erste time an the 13 years since its revival, Doctor Who broke v its Christmas Day zoll with “Resolution,” which rather premiered on neu Year’s Day. Figuring out the reason for the change doesn’t require a stretch of the imagination, considering how the 11th season — through its new monsters, neu trio von companions, neu writer-showrunner, and new female medical professional — concentrated on, well, a new perspective. However there’s no relocating forward without zuerst dealing with the past, which ns Doctor have to do in “Resolution,” together she faces down an ancient Dalek that has uncovered itself top top Earth, parasitically latches onto his victims zum control, and is ready zu “exterminate” humanity. All this is going on if Ryan struggles to find some emotional closure — a resolution, if you möchte — with his absentee father, who has actually come rückseitig hoping for a neu start. One can certainly connect die thematic dots zu the neu Year’s theme, however ultimately there was no reason why ns episode had kommen sie be a new Year’s special. Take it out ns handful of mentions to neu Year’s an the dialogue und it could oase been any kind of other typical episode of Doctor Who. However that doesn’t make “Resolution” any less enjoyable. In fact, ~ a season des fresh monsters, characters, und stories, the appearance of a Dalek feels like a treat, or as viel of a treat together a squid-like psychopathic alien kann be. It’s notfall particularly innovative for the series, however it’s a tidy throwback kommen sie what Who fans love.

3. “The Husbands des River Song” (2015)

The world of Doctor that is full von countless aliens und beasts, deshalb when ich say that Dr. Fluss Song ist one des the best, most amazing parts des the series, ich mean that as die highest praise weil das any character on the show. I’m not the only one with a soft spot for her, either: stephen Moffat loved the character dafür much the he wrote all of produziert dialogue himself, und for all von his faults, Moffat’s care and affection ist apparent bei this love good-bye episode. “The Husbands des River Song” sees river at her most resourceful, but it also shows a vulnerability an her we had notfall seen since “The Wedding von River Song.” notfall recognizing peter Capaldi’s Twelfth physician until ns episode’s climax, river delivers a long, rambling speech revealing her insecurities about herstellung relationship with the Doctor — it’s one des the few zeit that river loses her composure and confidence. Die ending, too, is stellar, when the Doctor and River gestanden before the Singing Towers des Darillium, both knowing that it will be the belastung night of River’s life. Die only real flaw ist the idea that fluss takes deswegen long zu recognize die Doctor. Sure, she got thrown off von the extra die ermäßigung loophole introduced bei “The Time von the Doctor” (weren’t we all?), but are we meant to believe that she wouldn’t even humor that opportunity until the very tonnage minute? Nevertheless, ns character-revealing dialogue that leads us to that point redeems die episode and presents a tender, satisfying end to River’s arc.

2. “Twice upon a Time” (2017)

A fitting ende to peter Capaldi’s tenure as die Twelfth Doctor, “Twice upon a Time” sees die Doctor overcome his own timeline however again, this time zu meet his first iteration, wonderfully played über David Bradley. The Doctor-meets-Doctor conceit is one zu be offered lightly, but here that feels nur right, as die episode even incorporates footage from the first Doctor’s regeneration. Capaldi und Bradley form a comical odd couple as the first Doctor criticizes ns Twelfth’s fashion und flair und the Twelfth winces at die First’s casual sexism und political incorrectness. But it’s every about the historical meeting the contemporary in “Twice top top a Time,” i m sorry feels specifically fitting considering that jodie Whittaker makes produziert appearance as the first female Doctor punkt the ende — highlighting, v some ironic satisfaction, die outdatedness of the first Doctor’s views on gender. Plot-wise, there’s not much to speak des here; there’s notfall even a bad guy zu defeat. Though especially subdued, this episode works because it’s grounded an the Doctor’s fears und concerns rather than a blown-out plot zu save the universe. “Can’t ich ever schutz peace? Can’t ich rest?” Capaldi’s medical professional asks bei desperation. Von course, ns answer ist “not really,” because, together they say, the nur must walk on, but die Twelfth it s okay closure in the form of his past companions, Bill, Clara, und Nardole returning to say your brief, touching good-byes. Pearl Mackie, as Bill, brings her own depth to ns episode, and Mark Gatiss deshalb makes a welcome guest appearance together a British welt War ich captain caught in the middle von a time hiccup and ultimately saved during the Christmas truce des 1914 — a tear-jerking dose von history in the episode. It’s one more day in which no one dies … except, as ns Twelfth drolly point out out, himself.

1. “Last Christmas” (2014)

Now this one’s clever. “Last Christmas” takes location after “Death in Heaven,” which ends with die Doctor und Clara lying zu each other und parting ways: She thinks he uncovered Gallifrey, and he think Danny Pink is blieb alive. Through this bit von dramatic irony floating in the background, die episode starts with Clara encountering none various other than jolly alt Saint Nick himself. She und the Doctor end up punkt a North extrem facility where researchers are fighting turn off a kopieren, gruppe of face-sucking, telepathic extraterrestrial crabs the bear a resemblance to ns face-huggers native Alien (“There’s a horror movie referred to as Alien?” asks the Doctor. “That’s yes, really offensive. No wonder anyone keeps invading you.”) however that’s not the only blockbuster that “Last Christmas” recalls: die premise zu sein right out von Inception, v each face-hugger inducing a dream-like state in its victim as it kills them, and the personalities breaking v nested dreams to save themselves.

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Even after the episode reveals its Inception-style setup, die uncovering von each dream layer continues to be a surprise. Breaking out of herstellung typical function as ns plucky, ausgezeichnet girl, Clara is forced to deal with die grief des losing Danny. Produziert good-bye kommen sie dream-Danny zu sein touching, und the Doctor’s arguments with Santa administer much-needed moments von levity. (Who rather but peter Capaldi’s Twelfth physician would pick a fight through Saint Nick?) however the taste reason why “Last Christmas” snags die top spot is because von its stakes: Clara has zu choose bolzen living in a deadly state des false bliss, or in in imperfect welt where she forced to soldier top top with herstellung grief. Balancing horror, comedy, drama, und ultimately joy, “Last Christmas” ist wonderfully complex and a reflection of Doctor who at the best.