WATCH: 7 essential Doctor Who episodes

Contributed by
Dec 1, 2017

We’re a few short weeks away from the hotly anticipated premiere of this year’s Doctor Who Christmas special, "Twice Upon a Time," and to whet our appetite for some Doctor Who goodness before we get to see Peter Capaldi regenerate into Jodie Whittaker, we at SYFY WIRE have compiled a handy list of 7 Essential Doctor Who episodes you may want to explore. Have a look:


At number 7 we have "The War Games," a 1969 episode featuring Second Doctor Patrick Troughton and his companions Jamie McCrimmon (Frazer Hines) and Zoe Heriot (Wendy Padbury). Fans are introduced to the Time Lords, and we find out why the Doctor ran away from Gallifrey in the first place. Fun fact: It was the character of Jamie McCrimmon and actor Frazer Hines who inspired Outlander author Diana Gabaldon to create the character Jamie Fraser in the first place.

The sixth episode on our list, "Terror of the Autons," is a Third Doctor (Jon Pertwee) adventure that aired in 1971. It’s here that the Doctor’s archnemesis, the Master (Roger Delgado), made his Doctor Who debut. It also introduced new companion Jo Grant (Katy Manning). The Autons were the villains of the first episode of the 2005 series revival, titled "Rose," and were led by the Nestene Consciousness (Nicholas Briggs).

Then we have "Genesis of the Daleks" sitting at the number five spot. The 1975 serial was notable because it revealed the origins of the Daleks and saw Fourth Doctor Tom Baker on a mission to defeat the evil space pepperpots before they were ever created by Davros (Michael Wisher), who made his debut. This ultimately creates a moral dilemma for the Doctor, who ponders whether he has the rights to do so.

Sitting at number four we have 1982's "Earthshock," a Fifth Doctor (Peter Davison) episode that's truly a milestone in the history of the BBC series in that the Doctor's companion, Adric (Matthew Waterhouse), actually dies. Which left fans, who hated the character of Adric, both relieved and in shock due to the dramatic denouement. 

Number three on our list is the 1989 serial, "The Curse of Fenric," because it introduced the idea that the Doctor (the Seventh incarnation, played by Sylvester McCoy) is not always a trustworthy ally. Thankfully, he has his companion Ace (Sophie Aldred) and her explosives by his side to help.

Number two is "The Day of the Doctor," which is the first essential episode from the New Who Era. The 50th-anniversary special introduced us to the War Doctor (John Hurt), finally explained the Time War to the fans, and featured every Doctor from the past 50 years. Bonus: Tom Baker appeared as the Curator in the special.

Taking the coveted number one spot is "Heaven Sent," a scary Twelfth Doctor adventure starring Peter Capaldi in one of the actor's best episodes since taking on the mantle of the beloved Time Lord. A Doctor-centric episode, "Heaven Sent" sees the Doctor being teleported to a weird waterlocked castle where he’s pursued by a mysterious, shrouded creature, and where he has to break his way through a hardened diamond wall with his bare hands over thousands of years.

There you have it. How about you? Which Doctor Who episodes are essential to you?

Additional reporting by Nathalie Caron.

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