With the upcoming 50th anniversary and the recent announcement of Matt Smith’s departure from the role of the Doctor I have decided to compile a list of the most emotional and heartbreaking scenes from the reboot thus far. We have gone 7 seasons and a mini season (the Tennant Specials) and one thing is for certain the show has crammed a whole hell of a lot of emotions in that short period of time. As I myself have begun rewatching the show from the very first episode “Rose” up until “The Name of the Doctor” to prepare for the oncoming storm that is both the 12th Doctor and the 50th anniversary special I have concocted this very list of the most emotional scenes from Doctor Who. I should add there are spoilers so continue at your own risk. 10. We’re All Just Stories in the End – The Big Bang
In recent years the Doctor’s companions have all been rather special. Rose was the Bad Wolf who sent the words Bad Wolf across both time and space to lead her to Satellite 5 and the Parting of Ways. Donna Noble was for one moment the most important woman in all of creation as she was the first and only human time lord meta crises and then there was Clara Oswald, the impossible girl. Never mind the flair for the dramatic with the companions we have Amelia Pond, the girl who waited, she had waited for the Doctor to take her away and he never came until it was years later. Now that the cracks are closing we find out that she was the key all along. Once again, the companion was more than just a companion, they were important. It was the speech The Doctor, this time it’s Matt Smith, gives is the emotional kicker. It doesn’t have the intense tear factor but it hits you right in the gut. The Doctor is going to write himself out of existence to save the universe. Smith doesn’t get all chokey until the end when you hear him sob ever so slightly, and one of my all time favorite Doctor Who quotes is spoken, “we’re all just stories in the end, so make it a good one eh.” It’s the concept that The Doctor himself is a long neverending story, and that in order for the world to be right he must be gone. Telling young Amelia Pond (I’m not sure why I like calling her that though) that she’ll dream of all the things they did, but didn’t do and the box. And it is in his final moments that the emotional confession seeps out of his mouth. Smith is bloody brilliant and carries this scene all on his own. Shame though he is leaving soon.
09. Goodbye, My Sarah Jane – School Reunion
First things first this one makes the cut for more sentimental reasons than the actual moment being a tear jerker. Sarah Jane Smith was a former companion for the Doctor back in the old days (mainly Tom Baker time!) and RTD brought her back for an episode in series two. Tennant being a huge fan of the program knew exactly who Elisabeth Sladden was and is, so his whole acting towards her was most likely legit and not acting but nonetheless I digress. What makes this a puppy kicking moment is the recent passing of Sladden. She passed away a handful of years ago after Sarah Jane got her own spin off and appeared in the Journey’s End. The Doctor drops her off and as he is preparing to leave she asks him to say goodbye and that she found better than waiting for him. He cracks that Tennant smile and goes, goodbye MY Sarah Jane. It is with the knowledge that Sladden has passed due to cancer that just gut punches you and then you can do nothing but cry. This happened a few weeks ago when I got to it.
08. Bad Wolf – The Parting of Ways
The first series wasn’t a big one in terms of emotional scenes or even emotion in general. The Ninth Doctor was just a bitter old aggressive man and that’s how it looked. It doesn’t really look like much when you compare him to the emotional depth that both Ten and Eleven show. Now there are moments where the Doctor isn’t a very one dimensional character and I blame that more on the writing seeing as they weren’t sure if it would be a one series return or not, but still I digress. The majority of the finale was the emotional portion. We watch Captain Jack Harkness get killed, the Doctor emotionally sends Rose back to her time and her world but it’s not until the recording pops up in which the Doctor flat out tells her he is dying and to go on and live. If you do one thing for me, have a fantastic life. Like right then and there the tears start welling up. Then we get Rose’s struggle to go back to the Doctor, bringing up Pete Tyler to her mum. But when she gets there the whole thing culminates into this giant emotional farewell for 9 and Rose. On top of that the whole “I think you need a Doctor” line comes off as cheesy but fits the bill perfectly in the fact that she’s literally burning up and only he can save her. In terms of tear factor moments go if this were 10 or 11 this would jump higher but there wasn’t as much emotional connection to 9 as the other’s and that’s a crime in itself, it’s not that he wasn’t a bad Doctor, he just didn’t have a large amount to work with but still it makes the cut!
07. John Smith’s Sacrifice – The Family of Blood
The Doctor has trapped his concious in a watch. The Family is searching for him in pre-WWI England. They know he’s somewhere and they are killing until they find him. This series three two part serial is bloody brilliant. At the first viewing I didn’t like the pacing or the fact that they made the Doctor a human to hide, it didn’t seem right but this whole episode on a future watching was far better than I remembered. It was here that the head nurse is trying to convince Smith to open the watch but as he touches it he sees the life he could have, would have. Tennant’s acting is spot on, instead of his ferocious Time Lord he’s a timid and meak teacher at a boarding school. His voice is shaky and he’s rather selfish. It is in this moment that we learn so much about his character. Throughout the entirety of the second part of the serial he wrestles with the idea of staying John Smith or opening the watch and becoming the Doctor and ending the family. Not only does he make the choice but what he does to the family in the closing segment is far more brutal than any of the other things I have seen the Doctor do, and all for the sake of immortality. Once more a scene flawlessly portrayed by one of the best Doctors of all time as Tennant seeminly has flawless chemisty with everyone.
06. Donna Loses Everything – Journey’s End
Russel T. Davies set this up from the very first moment we met Donna Noble. After Rose Tyler left she was beamed up onto the TARDIS. She was special and when the fourth series began she hunted down the Doctor. Now during the reboot we have learned that the show runner loves to plant little things throughout the series, the bad wolf in series one, the drumming in series three, the crack in five, the silence in six, and Clara in seven. But none were thrown out there as obvious as the fourth series with Donna Noble. The Ood sang of the Doctor Donna, she had something on her back and of course in the finale time just bent around her, or so we were told. She brought about a human meta crises Tenth Doctor and at the same time became a human-Time Lord hybrid. Of course this was not supposed to happen. She couldn’t with stain the Time Lord conscious in her human head but after the Doctor took everyone back it was time to take care of Donna. She began to spazz out, and this is where we see how it wouldn’t work. She said to him that she wanted to be with him forever. Forever, gee this sounds familiar, oh Rose! I wasn’t a huge fan of Donna Noble the first time but I’ve warmed up to her but this scene as well as the final farewell to Rose and MC Doctor it just was a build up to cause tears. Tennant is flawless as usual in scenes like this as it seems he’s a human tear machine and Catherine Tate, she was brilliant.
05. River’s Death – Forest of the Dead
The final two parter before the actual finale of the fourth series introduced us to River Song, archaeologist. She is the one who called the Doctor to the Library and the very first words out of her mouth were the iconic “hello sweetie.” Now of course this whole two parter isn’t as potent at first until Moffat’s run is well under way, well at least until series six or so, but the second time through after the conclusion that not only is River going to both eventually be the Doctor’s wife and one of his companion’s daughters does this arc reach it’s maximum tear factor. River has the journal that is TARDIS blue and kind of looks like a TARDIS in book form. The way she talks to him, and the whole he doesn’t recognize me, I knew this day would come shtick adds even more. She asks him if they have done things yet, she does this in the premier of series six as well, and then it hits her. But it isn’t until the end of the second part that she sacrifices herself to save the Doctor and all the souls in the Library. Now of course this last part doesn’t hit home until the finale of series seven when it is revealed that that very moment is her exact death (even though we see her alive in series five and six as well as parts of seven) but this is where she dies as we find out in the series seven finale (later!). Once that is all pieced together you are a sobbing mess, and of course your curse Moffat’s name for all of eternity. But this scene works, it just shouldn’t but that is the power of Doctor Who. They know the fans will watch it multiple times, they know people marathon through episodes after whole seasons, but damn. Alex Kingston fights back tears in trying to prevent the Doctor from saving her. Tennant just watches eyes wide open not sure of who she is and why she is taking his place and all the while River is fighting back tears telling him they’ll meet again, there is time for him and he goes with the time can be rewritten and she wouldn’t sacrifice that time for the world or even her life. This is true love, well at least in the Whoniverse.
04. The Pond’s Farewell – The Angels take Manhattan
It was long publicized that the Ponds would be leaving for the entire summer, that series 7 would mark the end of the Pond’s appearance on the show but no one knew how they would go out. Would they just bow out of the TARDIS or would they die or would one die and the other just be mournful? Well as the series progressed we saw how it was going to play out, from the relationship problems that was shown in the premier to how truly devoted Rory is in the midseries finale. We get an emotional send off as the two of them are standing on the roof of an iconic building in New York city, Rory ready to jump to save both Amy and his lives by erasing the paradox, but once that is successful and they are back at the graveyard and Rory gets zapped back by an angel that was still there. But it is in the following minute of the episode that shows everything. Amy is upset and we finally see her true devotion to Rory, as she is willing to get zapped back to be with him instead of the Doctor. She is asking if it’s her best shot the Doctor says don’t we’ll think of something and River says do it. It is her last words “farewell raggedy man” and the tears flow. The scene is almost flawlessly acted by both Karen Gillian and Matt Smith that makes it all the more emotional and the tears, the tears just flow. Smith tries to coax her with a tear filled “come along Pond” but it doesn’t work and the Ponds are gone. I was never a huge fan of Rory but I didn’t mind Amy even though at times she felt a little flat and one dimensional, but the three of them developed a fantastic chemistry that made this scene even more emotional. As I had just mentioned throughout the two series that the Ponds were on we thought that Amy would leave Rory for the Doctor and it was here that we find out even though she had her moments she was Rory’s til the end.
03. The Doctor’s Goodbye – The Name of the Doctor
This one just jumped the list. I’m not quite sure why or how, but I was bawling like a babe on my first viewing. Clara had just jumped into the Time Stream to save the Doctor from the Great Intelligence and standing there is River talking, but she really isn’t there. River is throwing her emotions straight out at the Doctor and we are not sure if he can hear her or see her since she thinks that only Clara could see and hear her and as she emotionally screams “but for god sake be sensible” and goes to slap him the Doctor’s hand reaches out and grabs her before she hits him. Then the tears start welling up. Then as she says “how can you see me, I’m not really here” and he responds with “You’re always here to me” it was there that it hit me, River is dead, and the Doctor can’t say goodbye. Then it all connected with what happened in Moffat’s two parter from series 4 and then you cry some more, because of teh whole wibbly wobbley timey wimey-ness of the show and it’s just brutal. So the first and last times we see River Song is when she’s already dead, and then the rest of the times is just different time periods. But the speech, the perfectly acted dialogue from both Alex Kingston and Matt Smith make this one of those heart wrenching sequences that you just don’t want to see. It’s damn good telly but not what you want. This is one of Smith’s better scenes but that isn’t saying anything about his acting but the rest of series seven featured a large amount of powerful acting from Smtih. Needless to say that Smith is the first actor to be nominated for a BAFTA for the role speaks volumes of how he elevated the game all the while Tennant was ignored for these awards.
02. Ten’s Goodbye – The End of Time Pt 2
Something about David Tennant made the Tenth Doctor one of the most enjoyable Doctors I have seen (I have rewatched some of the really old episodes here and there). It’s just the same that as I watched the finale of the Tenth Doctor that I had a second emotional breakdown. Well second biggest. I had accidentally started watching the Tenth before I watched the Ninth so I didn’t warm up to 9 as much. But after saving the earth and Wilfred Mott from the Master, 10 realizes that he must regenerate. And it is here that as he goes around the world in both the past and present to say goodbye that you realize how much 10 has impacted the not just the show but you as a viewer. It was the scene where he encounters Rose on the 1st of January in 2005 and tells her it’s going to be a good year that you can start to feel the tears welling up, because not only do you know that the character doesn’t want to go but neither does the actor. As he stands in the TARDIS the lines “I don’t want to go” leak from his mouth right before he regenerates. Regeneration is never a fun filled event, well maybe not in the modern sense, but it’s full of fanfare and pomp but when it was announced that Tennant would be leaving the fans cried out. When Eccleston turned into Tennant we didn’t get that emotional range that we get displayed. Tears roll down the face of Tennant as one of his final lines. “I don’t wanna go” these lines and the way they were spoken were the stuff of legend. Well they will be remembered by fans of the show until the end of Matt Smith at least seeing as how his acting has evolved vastly, but the loss of Tennant was immensely painful to watch.
01. Rose’s Farewell – Doomsday
The Doctor had just saved the day trapping the Daleks and the Cybermen in the void in the series two finale. It came at a price, Rose had lost her grip on the lever but fortunately her alternate dimension dad had hopped across the dimension to save her and now she is trapped, in the alternate world. The Doctor is now alone and Rose is without him. It was here that the show made me tear up the most. The Doctor tells Rose to go to a certain place, ironically Bad Wolf Bay, and it is there that we get the farewell. Rose is all teary eyed, and you know what’s coming, the tears start flowing down and she in a voice that is so wrapped up in emotion tells the Doctor that she loves him. His response is “Quite alright, and I suppose this is the last time I’ll get to say it…Rose Tyler…” and it’s cut off. He was burning up a star to say goodbye, and it cuts to her crying as his hologram fades, and then we go to the TARDIS where a single tear strolls down his eye and he lips “I love you.” Phenomenal acting by both David Tennant and Billie Piper made this scene a gutwrencher from the very moment it happens, and yet on each viewing it still packs the same punch.This whole scene is one of the best I have ever seen in the entire reboot, as I just mentioned if it wasn’t for teh exceptional combination of both the acting and writing then this scene would have just fallen flat on it’s face. Tennant delivers more than just his lines flawlessly but portrays emotions that I haven’t seen in what little of the previous Doctors. You know it’s going to happen but it still tugs at your heartstrings. And bravo I say, thanks for making me use so many damned tissues you two!
You’ve made it to the end of the list, just as I have it took me a while to compile this one due to the unforseen circumstances of me tearing up like a baby as well as well I was rewatching the entire reboot but now let me give you some honorable mentions from each series if there is any!
Pete Tyler Dies – Father’s Day
“I am your mummy!” – The Doctor Dances
“Only forty-three when she died” – The Girl in the Fireplace
“I believe in her!” – The Satan Pit
Sally Sparrow – Blink
The Master’s Death – The Last of the Time Lords
“For God’s sake save one person!” – The Fires of Pompeii
Jenny dies – The Doctor’s Daughter
“That’s not dying ‘cos a better world takes it’s place – Turn Left
“Time Lord victorious” – The Waters of Mars
Rory’s legit death – Cold Blood
“The greatest painter who ever lived” – Vincent and the Doctor
“Kiss the girl!” – The Lodger
The Doctor Reboots the Universe/Amy’s Wedding – The Big Bang
The Doctor Dies – The Impossible Astronaut
“I wanted to say a word what was it?” – The Doctor’s Wife
Amy’s Baby – A Good Man Goes To War
Rory’s Choice – The Girl Who Waited
The Doctor Breaks Amy’s Faith – God Complex
We will hold off on series seven for spoiler reasons!