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Top 10 Saddest Doctor Who Moments

VO: Ashley Bowman
Written by Sean Harris There’s tears in the TARDIS and we’re feeling all wibbly wobbly. Welcome to WatchMojo UK and today we’ll be counting down our picks for the top 10 saddest moments in “Doctor Who”! For this list, we’re hitting the heart-break for an emotional run through of the most cry-worthy moments in “Doctor Who”, since the sci-fi show’s 2005 revival. And there’s some pivotal scenes here, so spoilers do lay ahead! Special thanks to our users olafur9, ZombieSlayer Ef and Camila Fernandes for submitting the idea on our interactive suggestion tool: WatchMojo.comsuggest
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Top 10 Saddest Doctor Who Moments


There’s tears in the TARDIS and we’re feeling all wibbly wobbly. Welcome to WatchMojo UK and today we’ll be counting down our picks for the top 10 saddest moments in “Doctor Who”!

For this list, we’re hitting the heart-break for an emotional run through of the most cry-worthy moments in “Doctor Who”, since the sci-fi show’s 2005 revival. And there’s some pivotal scenes here, so spoilers do lay ahead!

#10: Madame De Pompadour’s Letter
“The Girl in the Fireplace”

The David Tennant era is stacked with sad moments. But we’ll start in 18th century France, where Ten meets Louis XV’s mistress Madame De Pompadour, thanks to a series of Time Windows – beginning with a Parisian fireplace in 1727. But while the time between meetings moves at expected pace for the Doctor, Rose and Mickey, months and years pass for Reinette. A whirlwind relationship from the Doctor’s perspective, it comes to an abrupt and crushing end – made even more moving by De Pompadour’s parting letter.

#9: Clara’s Phone Call
“Deep Breath”

To another example of timey wimey weepiness, as Eleven calls Clara at the end of her first adventure with Twelve - as if Matt Smith’s regeneration wasn’t devastating enough, already! This scene transcends the show to help fans accept the latest change in Doctor, with Smith’s cameo catching Clara by surprise – and us, as well. Speaking as if from another lifetime, he connects his incarnation with Peter Capaldi’s, and brings out a vulnerability in Capaldi’s version which comes to define the character. It’s the first of a few heart-breaking hugs, too.

#8: The Life of John Smith
“The Family of Blood”

The Doctor’s loneliness has fuelled many an emotive storyline, and here we glimpse the happy home life he could never have. Transformed into a bona fide human to escape the Family of Blood, he settles down as John Smith, a teacher in 1913. But, when John unexpectedly falls in love with Joan before remembering his true self is a Time Lord, he faces an impossible choice. And as the fob watch allows them to see the future they’ll miss out on, Tennant’s performance is a teary triumph.

#7: Clara Faces the Raven
“Face the Raven”

A fixed point in time that even the Doctor can’t remedy, Clara’s death becomes a central scene for the final three episodes of series nine. And given that it’s relatively rare for a companion to outright die, it forces the Doctor into little-known territory. Of course, the story gets even sadder in “Hell Bent”, when Twelve has his memories of Clara erased. And then all of those emotions are rekindled when it’s Capaldi’s time to regenerate! The Impossible Girl gets an incredible send off.

#6: Have a Fantastic Life
“The Parting of the Ways”

It’s always an emotional affair whenever the Doctor’s building up to regeneration, and who can forget David Tennant’s final goodbyes once Wilfred knocked four times? But the change from Nine to Ten served as the first in the revived series, and the holographic heartbreak is still too much to bear. Christopher Eccleston’s final goodbye is steeped in sadness, but his initial attempt to send Rose to safety is even more agonizing. When Emergency Program One turns its head, it’s instant goosebumps every single time.

#5: The Singing Towers of Darillium
“The Husbands of River Song”

Few characters cast more influence over the Doctor than River Song, and her criss-crossing timeline sets up some sensational moments. But here’s the beginning of the end for their relationship – for River, at least – and their final night together. As Twelve takes River for dinner on Darillium, we watch as realisation takes hold that River’s diary is almost full. But all’s not quite lost, and the Library can wait a while, because one night on Darillium lasts 24 years – plenty of time to stock up on spoilers, perhaps?

#4: Van Gogh Visits the Future
“Vincent and the Doctor”

When Eleven and Amy visit Vincent van Gogh, they find the renowned artist in the depths of despair, just weeks before his own suicide. So, the ending to this story is one of the show’s most bittersweet moments. Having seen off the Krafayis, Vincent travels in the TARDIS to glimpse his future fame, and is overwhelmed by what he sees. However, despite Amy’s optimism, the trip doesn’t prevent the inevitable. It’s heady happiness followed by gut-wrenching reality, but the Doctor has just the right words at exactly the right time.

#3: Donna’s Memory Is Wiped
“Journey’s End”

Catherine Tate’s casting for series four raised a few eyebrows at first, but Donna Noble’s time with the Time Lord ended in spectacular fashion. With Davros and the Daleks threatening to destroy the entire universe, she transforms into the DoctorDonna and ultimately saves all of existence. But there are colossal consequences, as Ten’s forced to wipe her memory to save her from the momentous burden. And as Donna forgets everything, the Doctor seems lonelier than ever.

#2: At Bad Wolf Bay
“Doomsday”

As the first companion of the revived series, Rose Tyler proved a vital figure for Doctors Nine and Ten. But while a romantic connection was often implied, their feelings for each other were usually sidestepped until this, their final moment across parallel universes. However, though Rose finally says those three little words, the transmission cuts out before the Doctor can finish. We did eventually get a kind of closure in “Journey’s End”, but the sadness of this scene will never go away.

Before we unveil our top pick, here are a few honorable mentions.

Never Trust a Hug
“Death in Heaven”

Jenny ‘Dies’
“The Doctor’s Daughter”

Ten’s Goodbye
“The End of Time – Part 2”

#1: Amy and the Angel
“The Angels Take Manhattan”

We finish with a rollercoaster five minutes from Eleven’s time in the TARDIS. The end seems nigh for Amy and Rory when they take an epic fall from a 1930s New York skyscraper. But there’s massive relief when the paradox works. The happiness is very short-lived though, as one rogue Angel ruins everything. When Rory’s taken, Amy knows what has to happen next – and despite his best efforts the Doctor is helpless to stop it. Seeing the Time Lord in tears is enough to set anyone off. Raggedy Man, we’re with you!
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