The Best Episodes of Doctor Who

Last Updated: Nov 3, 2018

Doctor Who is the longest-running science fiction TV series in history, airing initially from 1963 to 1989. Doctor Who is about ideas. It pioneered sophisticated mixed-level storytelling. Its format was the key to its longevity: the Doctor, a mysterious traveller in space and time, travels in his ship, the TARDIS. The TARDIS can take him and his companions anywhere in time and space. Inevitably he finds evil at work wherever he goes...

The War Games (10)

#1 - The War Games (10)

Season 6 - Episode 44

The TARDIS lands in what appears to be the front-line trenches at the height of battle in war-torn France, right in the middle of World War I. Everyone they meet are convinced that the crew are spying and it doesn't take long for the crew to be on the run, but not before breaking the hypnotic conditioning of Carstairs and Lady Jennifer. Having escaped one war-zone they find themselves in another - Roman occupied Britain of some 2,000 years ago, then on to the American Civil War. The situation worstens when the Doctor suspects one of his own people, a Time Lord, to be behind the War Games working for a race of aliens trying to run the wars to their conclusions under controlled conditions to find a super-army or fighters. The Doctor is faced with an impossible situation - not only does the War Lords' control over hundreds of thousands of fighters need to be removed, but the soldiers have to be returned to their natural habitats. He concedes defeat, knowing that the TARDIS is not equipped for the task. He sends an SOS, calling in his own people even though it is revealed that he is 'on the run' from them for the theft of a TARDIS and for meddling... The Doctor is caught and faces trial.

star 8.59
70 votes
Directors: David Maloney
Writers: Malcolm Hulke, Terrance Dicks
Watch on Amazon
Genesis of the Daleks (6)

#2 - Genesis of the Daleks (6)

Season 12 - Episode 16

The planet Skaro, the distant past. The Time Lords divert the Doctor, Sarah and Harry to this war-torn world, and give the Doctor a mission: the evil of the Daleks is about to be born here, and the Doctor is to try to ensure they evolve into less lethally aggressive beings - or, failing that, to avert their creation altogether. But has even the Doctor the right to commit genocide?

star 8.49
83 votes
Directors: David Maloney
Writers: Terry Nation
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City of Death (4)

#3 - City of Death (4)

Season 17 - Episode 8

Scaroth is determined to go back 400 million years in time to prevent a mistake. But the Doctor must stop him – because the consequences would be disastrous.

star 8.48
61 votes
Directors: Michael Hayes
Writers: Douglas Adams, Graham Williams
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The War Games (9)

#4 - The War Games (9)

Season 6 - Episode 43

The TARDIS lands in what appears to be the front-line trenches at the height of battle in war-torn France, right in the middle of World War I. Everyone they meet are convinced that the crew are spying and it doesn't take long for the crew to be on the run, but not before breaking the hypnotic conditioning of Carstairs and Lady Jennifer. Having escaped one war-zone they find themselves in another - Roman occupied Britain of some 2,000 years ago, then on to the American Civil War. The situation worstens when the Doctor suspects one of his own people, a Time Lord, to be behind the War Games working for a race of aliens trying to run the wars to their conclusions under controlled conditions to find a super-army or fighters. The Doctor is faced with an impossible situation - not only does the War Lords' control over hundreds of thousands of fighters need to be removed, but the soldiers have to be returned to their natural habitats. He concedes defeat, knowing that the TARDIS is not equipped for the task. He sends an SOS, calling in his own people even though it is revealed that he is 'on the run' from them for the theft of a TARDIS and for meddling... The Doctor is caught and faces trial.

star 8.47
55 votes
Directors: David Maloney
Writers: Malcolm Hulke, Terrance Dicks
Watch on Amazon
City of Death (3)

#5 - City of Death (3)

Season 17 - Episode 7

The Doctor and Romana unwrap an intricate plot involving aliens, time travel and the Mona Lisa. How is Count Scarlioni living in two times at once? And what does he want?

star 8.44
62 votes
Directors: Michael Hayes
Writers: Douglas Adams, Graham Williams
Watch on Amazon
Genesis of the Daleks (5)

#6 - Genesis of the Daleks (5)

Season 12 - Episode 15

The planet Skaro, the distant past. The Time Lords divert the Doctor, Sarah and Harry to this war-torn world, and give the Doctor a mission: the evil of the Daleks is about to be born here, and the Doctor is to try to ensure they evolve into less lethally aggressive beings - or, failing that, to avert their creation altogether. But has even the Doctor the right to commit genocide?

star 8.29
73 votes
Directors: David Maloney
Writers: Terry Nation
Watch on Amazon
City of Death (2)

#7 - City of Death (2)

Season 17 - Episode 6

Captured by the Count, the Doctor and Romana uncover an elaborate plan to steal the Mona Lisa. But there is more to Scarlioni's plans than a simple theft.

star 8.27
59 votes
Directors: Michael Hayes
Writers: Douglas Adams, Graham Williams
Watch on Amazon
The Caves of Androzani (3)

#8 - The Caves of Androzani (3)

Season 21 - Episode 21

The situation on Androzani Minor is building toward a violent confrontation. And the Doctor and Peri are slowly succumbing to spectrox toxemia.

star 8.25
32 votes
Directors: Graeme Harper
Writers: Robert Holmes
Watch on Amazon
Genesis of the Daleks (4)

#9 - Genesis of the Daleks (4)

Season 12 - Episode 14

The planet Skaro, the distant past. The Time Lords divert the Doctor, Sarah and Harry to this war-torn world, and give the Doctor a mission: the evil of the Daleks is about to be born here, and the Doctor is to try to ensure they evolve into less lethally aggressive beings - or, failing that, to avert their creation altogether. But has even the Doctor the right to commit genocide?

star 8.25
81 votes
Directors: David Maloney
Writers: Terry Nation
Watch on Amazon
City of Death (1)

#10 - City of Death (1)

Season 17 - Episode 5

Paris, 1979. The Doctor and Romana are here on holiday, but something is disturbing the flow of time. Could the time travel experiments of Count Scarlioni be to blame?

star 8.23
65 votes
Directors: Michael Hayes
Writers: Douglas Adams, Graham Williams
Watch on Amazon
The War Games (8)

#11 - The War Games (8)

Season 6 - Episode 42

The TARDIS lands in what appears to be the front-line trenches at the height of battle in war-torn France, right in the middle of World War I. Everyone they meet are convinced that the crew are spying and it doesn't take long for the crew to be on the run, but not before breaking the hypnotic conditioning of Carstairs and Lady Jennifer. Having escaped one war-zone they find themselves in another - Roman occupied Britain of some 2,000 years ago, then on to the American Civil War. The situation worstens when the Doctor suspects one of his own people, a Time Lord, to be behind the War Games working for a race of aliens trying to run the wars to their conclusions under controlled conditions to find a super-army or fighters. The Doctor is faced with an impossible situation - not only does the War Lords' control over hundreds of thousands of fighters need to be removed, but the soldiers have to be returned to their natural habitats. He concedes defeat, knowing that the TARDIS is not equipped for the task. He sends an SOS, calling in his own people even though it is revealed that he is 'on the run' from them for the theft of a TARDIS and for meddling... The Doctor is caught and faces trial.

star 8.23
52 votes
Directors: David Maloney
Writers: Malcolm Hulke, Terrance Dicks
Watch on Amazon
Pyramids of Mars (4)

#12 - Pyramids of Mars (4)

Season 13 - Episode 12

England, 1911. The TARDIS is drawn off-course and lands in the country house of archaeologist Marcus Scarman. But what did Scarman unearth on his last visit to Egypt, and how can the Doctor defeat his most powerful foe yet - Sutekh, the God of Destruction?

star 8.21
63 votes
Directors: Paddy Russell
Writers: Robert Holmes, Lewis Greifer
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The Tomb of the Cybermen (1)

#13 - The Tomb of the Cybermen (1)

Season 5 - Episode 1

A team of archaeologists travels to the planet Telos, the home of the Cybermen, to excavate the tombs of the long-extinct cybernetic race. At least, it's assumed that they're extinct. The Doctor isn't sure that the tombs should be disturbed, but he soon comes to suspect that some of the "archaeologists" have an agenda far more dangerous than the team leader, Parry, suspects. In order to find out what the sinister Kleig and Kaftan are really up to, the Doctor helps the archaeologists to enter the tombs – where they find that the Cybermen are only dormant, not dead, and that Kleig and Kaftan intend to revive them. But they have underestimated the power of the Cybermen, and only the Doctor can save the archaeologists from being transformed into Cybermen themselves.

star 8.19
86 votes
Directors: Morris Barry
Writers: Kit Pedler, Gerry Davis
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Destruction of Time (12)

#14 - Destruction of Time (12)

Season 3 - Episode 21

When the Doctor and his friends arrive on Earth, they find that Chen has already denounced them as traitors, and Vyon is shot and killed by his own sister, Sara Kingdom. Sara eventually discovers the truth for herself, and helps the Doctor and Steven to recover the TARDIS and escape. However, the Daleks then pursue them through Time, and are joined by the Doctor and Steven's old enemy, the Meddling Monk – who realises that he's in over his head and switches sides depending upon who seems to be on top. After an encounter in ancient Egypt, the Doctor strands the Monk on an ice planet, but the Daleks get away with the taranium core, and the Doctor uses the navigational unit from the Monk's TARDIS to pursue them back to Kembel. There, the Daleks exterminate Mavic Chen, but the Doctor manages to activate the Time Destructor. Sara ages to death before she can reach the safety of the TARDIS, but the Doctor and Steven escape while the Dalek force on Kembel crumbles to dust.

star 8.19
38 votes
Writers: Dennis Spooner
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The Caves of Androzani (4)

#15 - The Caves of Androzani (4)

Season 21 - Episode 22

Events on Androzani reach a bloody climax. Will the Doctor and Peri survive the carnage? And at what cost?

star 8.17
40 votes
Directors: Graeme Harper
Writers: Robert Holmes
Watch on Amazon
The War Games (4)

#16 - The War Games (4)

Season 6 - Episode 38

The TARDIS lands in what appears to be the front-line trenches at the height of battle in war-torn France, right in the middle of World War I. Everyone they meet are convinced that the crew are spying and it doesn't take long for the crew to be on the run, but not before breaking the hypnotic conditioning of Carstairs and Lady Jennifer. Having escaped one war-zone they find themselves in another - Roman occupied Britain of some 2,000 years ago, then on to the American Civil War. The situation worstens when the Doctor suspects one of his own people, a Time Lord, to be behind the War Games working for a race of aliens trying to run the wars to their conclusions under controlled conditions to find a super-army or fighters. The Doctor is faced with an impossible situation - not only does the War Lords' control over hundreds of thousands of fighters need to be removed, but the soldiers have to be returned to their natural habitats. He concedes defeat, knowing that the TARDIS is not equipped for the task. He sends an SOS, calling in his own people even though it is revealed that he is 'on the run' from them for the theft of a TARDIS and for meddling... The Doctor is caught and faces trial.

star 8.17
53 votes
Directors: David Maloney
Writers: Malcolm Hulke, Terrance Dicks
Watch on Amazon
Genesis of the Daleks (3)

#17 - Genesis of the Daleks (3)

Season 12 - Episode 13

The planet Skaro, the distant past. The Time Lords divert the Doctor, Sarah and Harry to this war-torn world, and give the Doctor a mission: the evil of the Daleks is about to be born here, and the Doctor is to try to ensure they evolve into less lethally aggressive beings - or, failing that, to avert their creation altogether. But has even the Doctor the right to commit genocide?

star 8.17
85 votes
Directors: David Maloney
Writers: Terry Nation
Watch on Amazon Buy on iTunes
Genesis of the Daleks (2)

#18 - Genesis of the Daleks (2)

Season 12 - Episode 12

The planet Skaro, the distant past. The Time Lords divert the Doctor, Sarah and Harry to this war-torn world, and give the Doctor a mission: the evil of the Daleks is about to be born here, and the Doctor is to try to ensure they evolve into less lethally aggressive beings - or, failing that, to avert their creation altogether. But has even the Doctor the right to commit genocide?

star 8.15
97 votes
Directors: David Maloney
Writers: Terry Nation
Watch on Amazon Buy on iTunes
Earthshock (4)

#19 - Earthshock (4)

Season 19 - Episode 22

The TARDIS crew arrives on Earth in the 26th Century in a cave system where a military force is investigating the disappearance of a palaentological expedition.

star 8.13
45 votes
Directors: Peter Grimwade
Writers: Eric Saward
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Inferno (7)

#20 - Inferno (7)

Season 7 - Episode 25

The Doctor has escaped the catastrophic destruction of a parallel world. But can he stop Stahlman before he destroys this one?

star 8.13
63 votes
Writers: Don Houghton
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The Power of the Daleks (5)

#21 - The Power of the Daleks (5)

Season 4 - Episode 13

The Doctor appears to have transformed into an entirely different person, but Ben and Polly are unsure whether this strange man really is the Doctor or not. They soon have other matters to worry about, as the TARDIS takes them to a human colony on the planet Vulcan. Rebel activity is causing trouble for the colony governor, an Earth Examiner has recently been murdered, and the colony scientist Lesterson is obsessed with his experiments on an alien capsule unearthed from the mercury swamps. The Doctor takes the Examiner's place in order to investigate his murder, but soon discovers that the alien capsule is far more significant – for it contains dormant Daleks which Lesterson has woken. Lesterson believes that the Daleks are harmless robots which can be used to serve the colony, while the rebels are far more interested in the uses of the Daleks' in-built weaponry. Nobody will listen to the Doctor when he warns them that the Daleks have their own agenda – one which could result in the extermination of all human beings in the colony.

star 8.13
56 votes
Writers: David Whitaker
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The Robots of Death (2)

#22 - The Robots of Death (2)

Season 14 - Episode 18

The Doctor and Leela are suspected of murder. But the real foe is using robots to cut down the crew – and even sabotage the sand miner itself!

star 8.12
49 votes
Writers: Chris Boucher
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Frontios (4)

#23 - Frontios (4)

Season 21 - Episode 10

The planet Frontios, in the distant future. Following Earth's destruction, a tiny colony struggles to eke out a life on this desolate world. But where do the bombardments that threaten them originate from? Little does the Doctor suspect that somewhere nearby lurks a power capable of ripping even the TARDIS apart...

star 8.12
25 votes
Directors: Ron Jones
Writers: Christopher Bidmead
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Remembrance of the Daleks (2)

#24 - Remembrance of the Daleks (2)

Season 25 - Episode 2

London, 1963. Returning to the scenes of his first televised adventure, the Doctor and new companion Ace play a tricky game of bluff and deceit involving two rival Dalek factions, local soldiers, and the awesomely powerful Gallifreyan artefact, the Hand of Omega...

star 8.12
43 votes
Directors: Andrew Morgan
Writers: Ben Aaronovitch
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The Space Museum (1)

#25 - The Space Museum (1)

Season 2 - Episode 26

Having been displaced across a 'time track' the TARDIS with the Doctor et al arrives on the planet Xeros. There the travellers find their future selves displayed in a museum! The museum is actually a monument to the conquests of belligerent invaders (Moroks) who now rule Xeros. When time shifts back to normal, the Doctor realises that he and his companions have to do whatever they can to try to avert this future. They help the native people of Xeros to revolt against the Moroks. The revolution succeeds, the future is changed, and the travellers depart in the TARDIS.

star 8.12
69 votes
Writers: Glyn Jones