You know you’re a Doctor Who fan when you think of the ending of a series even before the new one premieres, as watching all of the Doctor’s regenerations and departing companions has put us in that frame of mind.
With Series 12 on its way, we’re already speculating if its finale will be any good and live up to the lofty heights some of the best ones in the past have set. We might not know how that will turn up, but what we do know is how the previous finales rank among each other and which can be considered the best and the worst.
11 Series 11 – “The Battle of Ranskoor Av Kolos”
Coming across more as a children’s special about the power of friendship and forgiveness, rather than a true Doctor Who finale, this one failed to bring in that oomph factor every last episode a series prior had brought.
Instead, it was more of the same we’d seen all of Series 11, meaning you could’ve placed it among any of the episodes, without it making a difference. The lone good spot was the potential for the new direction of the series to go to different worlds, but even that has been done before with better storylines.
10 Series 7 – “The Name of the Doctor”
Knowing that the 50th-anniversary special was right around the corner, Series 7’s finale went ahead without providing any resolution and opening up more questions with the cliffhanger reveal of the War Doctor.
Saving this from being a total letdown was the return of River Song, as we got to see the canonical final interaction between her and the Doctor. Watching this episode after the one with River and the Twelfth Doctor adds to the emotional effect as well, but the main plot of the Doctor’s tomb didn’t live up to expectations.
9 Series 6 – “The Wedding of River Song”
The angle of the Doctor dying was given a “mini-ending” here, as the season’s arc of his death as a fixed point in time was resolved. Before that, we had a few good scenes involving all of time collapsing which made for a fun take on an alternate reality.
The wedding between the Doctor and River goes down as a memorable moment for the show, but the swerve over how the Doctor survived his death left more to be desired, even feeling like a bit of a cop-out after so much teasing.
8 Series 8 – “Dark Water” & “Death in Heaven”
After a very weak series where the Doctor wasn’t given much prominence, we got a good finale to close out this storyline. As it happened, Missy revealed her true nature, which is a twist fans won’t ever forget and began the superb chemistry between these two characters.
The Clara-Danny love angle did take up quite a bit of screentime yet again, but at least it had some real context. This was also the first time the Twelfth Doctor really took charge and we can’t say we didn’t love every second of it.
7 Series 3 – “Utopia”, “The Sound of Drums” & “The Last of the Time Lords”
The first part of this finale was incredible with the return of everybody’s favorite Captain Jack and the travel over to the end of the universe. The reveal and deception of Professor Yana induce chills to your spine due to the spectacular performance of the actor and the Master resurfacing again.
We got two versions of the series’ greatest villain, along with Martha Jones finally coming into her own and saving the universe. The one bad spot was the slow nature of the second episode of the finale, but full credit goes to “Utopia,” where the creative take of the end of time can be considered part horror.
6 Series 5 – “The Pandorica Opens” & “The Big Bang”
Who didn’t love the fact that Rory waited about 2,000 years for the woman he loved? If you want to see how a quality payoff to a series-long arc looks like, then you have this finale as a fine example. Featuring all of the main characters delivering wonderful performances that highlighted their characterizations, this was a winning angle.
While the explanation for the change in time at the ending left quite a lot of people scratching their heads, it was the sight of the Doctor dancing like a lunatic that made even the smallest of confusions leave our thoughts.
5 Series 4 – “The Stolen Earth” & “Journey’s End”
This was a finale that ended three series worth of storylines, as the Doctor – or the Doctors – banded together with present and former companions to save the Earth. It highlighted the uniqueness of every companion’s dynamic with the Tenth Doctor as all of them had valid contributions to make while bringing together The Sarah Jane Chronicles and Torchwood with Doctor Who.
Most of all, though, it was the heart-wrenching farewell for Donna and the choice Rose makes between the Doctor and his human clone that made this finale worth watching in repeated viewings.
4 Series 1 – “Bad Wolf” & “The Parting of the Ways”
There was more subtlety than all-out action in the first series, but that was disregarded around the time of the finale where we had the first explosive offering from “Nuwho.” We still rue the fact that Captain Jack was written out after this, but he did go the way the you’d expect him to, like a total boss.
Of course, it was Rose’s turn as the Bad Wolf that cemented her place as one of the absolute best companions in all of Doctor Who history and the Ninth Doctor taking charge made this the first high stakes plot in the series that we won’t soon forget. Finally, who doesn’t love that regeneration scene we knew was coming and was pulled off splendidly?
3 Series 2 – “Army of Ghosts” & “Doomsday”
Ever see a rose left on the beach? Well, Doctor Who fans begin weeping at the mere mention of this due to the Doctor and Rose being separated for good in the Series 2 finale. We can find more of their exploits in the comics, but that doesn’t do anything to make up for us never having heard the Doctor reciprocate Rose’s words out loud.
The overall storyline itself veered from initial comedy to total heartbreak, as the danger of the Cybermen and the Daleks was punctuated with the two villains forcing two different dimensions to collide.
2 Series 9 – “Hell Bent”
Fans were convinced the Doctor and Clara were in love by the end of Series 9, and we had good reason to believe that too as the Doctor moved all of time, apart for Clara because of “duty of care” towards her.
The dark side of the Twelfth Doctor that was teased for a while fully came out, as he forewent all of his rules to ensure Clara could be brought back. Even though we knew it was for the best, watching the Doctor forget who Clara was and their tearful farewell is one of the best moments of the show as we bid farewell to “Nuwho’s” longest-lasting companion and got to see Gallifrey in full.
1 Series 10 – “World Enough and Time” & “The Doctor Falls”
If you’re ever in a mood to start bawling your eyes out then head on over to a viewing of the Series 10 finale which succeeds so well that you even feel bad for someone as despicable as Missy. Most of all, the heartbreaking end of the dynamic between the Doctor, Bill, and Nardole is what gets you here as Doctor Who handed us out a sad ending.
Then again, having the chance to see two of the absolute best versions of the Master come together is a deliciously devious delight that you just can’t pass up, and the sadness of witnessing Bill turn into a Cybermen is validated by the fact that the execution is brilliant. Finally, we got the first taste of what life after the Twelfth Doctor would be as he began proceedings to regenerate.
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