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An absolutely not definitive ranking of ‘Doctor Who’ Christmas specials

Happy Christmas, Whovians! It feels super weird not to have a Doctor Who Christmas special to look forward to this year. To hold us over until the New Year’s special, I thought I’d task myself with recalling all of New Who’s Christmas episodes and ranking them from my least favorite to my most favorite.

Here’s my list, which is 100 percent not definitive.

13. “The Next Doctor”

Doctor Who Christmas specials ranking David Tennant Tenth Doctor The Next Doctor
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I know there are people out there who love this one, but out of the multiple times I’ve seen this special, I have not enjoyed it even once. I’m all for a good Cyberman episode, but I do not think this worked at all. It was just a disappointment on all aspects. This episode did not live up to the title of a Christmas special.

12. “Last Christmas”

Doctor Who Christmas specials rankings Last Christmas Nick Frost Santa Claus Twelfth Doctor Peter Capaldi
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I suppose we should have all seen this episode coming. Santa is real, and The Doctor was going to meet him eventually. That concept was great. Despite the good basic idea and the enjoyable performance of Santa, this is an episode I skip in my rewatches.

I feel like the villains in this episode had potential but just did not live up to that. Much of this episode just felt unnecessary. Plus, I hated Danny with a passion, so by this point, his mere presence brought the entire Christmas special down for me.

11. “The Doctor, The Widow, and The Wardrobe”

Doctor Who Christmas specials rankings The Doctor The Widow and The Wardrobe Matt Smith Eleventh Doctor Narnia
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This Christmas special was okay. The beginning showed so much promise. The Doctor, sans companions, playing caretaker was fabulous.

Where this episode falls short for me is Doctor Who’s version of a Narnia-esque land. I found the whole place underwhelming, and the plot just seemed so emotion-packed and stretched out. All that said, this episode has its shining moments, especially the ending where Madge saves the day.

10. “The Time of the Doctor”

Doctor Who Christmas specials rankings The Time of the Doctor Matt Smith Eleventh Doctor regeneration Trenzalore
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There was too much crammed into this episode – Silence and Daleks and cracks in time and space (oh, my). Also, The Doctor was the only real character of focus, likely due to his looming regeneration. They tried too hard to write an epic send-off for Matt Smith, although I do think his regeneration speech is one of the greatest moments in his run as Doctor.

Additionally, this wasn’t really that much of a Christmas special. They tried to pass it off as one with Clara’s celebration, the Christmas cracker, and the mother lode – a town called Christmas.

9. “Voyage of the Damned”

Doctor Who Christmas specials rankings Voyage of the Damned David Tennant Tenth Doctor Astrid Kylie Minogue Russell Tovey Midshipman frame the Titanic Allons-y Alonso
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This episode felt exceptionally long, and lots of the details were forgettable. However, the special was entertaining, even if it went about as well as you’d expect with the setting being a ship named after the Titanic.

Highlights: Astrid (Kylie Minogue) and “Allons-y, Alonso!”

8. “The Snowmen”

Doctor Who Christmas specials ranking The Snowmen Clara Oswin Oswald Eleventh Doctor Matt Smith Jenna Louise Coleman
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This episode was okay. For a positive, I love the Paternoster gang. For another, Simeon and the Great Intelligence were interesting villains. One more highlight: The visual effects in this episode were stunning.

However, “The Snowmen” lacked any element to put it over the top for me. The story was fine, and Clara was fine – even The Doctor wasn’t at his best. This episode could have been great, but it missed the mark.

7. “The Christmas Invasion”

Doctor Who Christmas specials ranking The Christmas Invasion Sycorax Tenth Doctor David Tennant Jackie Tyler
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Light episode, generally enjoyable, Jackie Tyler. That is all.

6. “Twice Upon a Time”

Honestly, I don’t remember much of this episode because I was miserably sick when it aired, and I haven’t watched it much since.

However, I do remember going from devastated over losing Peter Capaldi to cheering over Jodie Whittaker in the span of mere seconds. I also remember getting very emotional over the reveal of Mark Gatiss’ character. And lots of bonus points for the cameos from Clara and Bill and Rusty.

Doctor Who Christmas specials rankings Twice Upon a Time Mark Gatiss Peter Capaldi regeneration Twelfth Doctor Jodie Whittaker Thirteenth Doctor Brigadier Lethbridge-Stewart
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“Twice Upon a Time” was a solid episode and a proper send-off for Peter Capaldi. This Christmas special is worth a rewatch. After all, two Doctors are better than one.

Doctor Who Christmas Specials rankings Peter Capaldi Twelfth Doctor regeneration Twice Upon a Time
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5. “The Husbands of River Song”

Doctor Who Christmas specials ranking The Husbands of River Song Alex Kingston Twelfth Doctor Peter Capaldi
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I missed River Song so much, and seeing her in action again was delightful. We also got our first look at Nardole, who I adored in the following season.

This Doctor Who Christmas special was brilliantly light and goofy until it got heavily emotional, but it worked. It’s near the middle of my rankings because it was too ridiculous at times, but it was enjoyable to watch – just maybe dial back the silly.

4. “The Return of Doctor Mysterio”

Doctor Who Christmas specials ranking The Return of Doctor Mysterio Peter Capaldi Superman Lois Lane Nardole Twelfth Doctor superhero story
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This is my favorite Peter Capaldi Doctor Who Christmas special. It worked brilliantly as a one-off, as the characters we meet get their happy ending and won’t be showing up again. The Superman-Lois Lane vibe just works.

Admittedly, the villains in this episode are easily forgettable, but the rest of the story is so enjoyable, it almost doesn’t matter.

3. “The End of Time” (Parts One and Two)

Doctor Who Christmas specials ranking The End of Time Part One and Two John Simm Master David Tennant Tenth Doctor regeneration I don't want to go
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David Tennant’s regeneration episodes were phenomenal. The Master was majorly epic. The episode was full of plot twists, especially when we learn that it’s Wilf who knocks four times! The build-up is powerful and has us extremely vulnerable right as The Doctor utters those five heartbreaking words, “I don’t want to go.”

2. “The Runaway Bride”

Doctor Who Christmas specials rankings The Runaway Bride Tenth Doctor David Tennant Donna Noble Catherine Tate
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Donna Noble. ‘Nuff said.

1. “A Christmas Carol”

Doctor Who Christmas specials ranking A Christmas Carol Matt Smith Eleventh Doctor halfway out of the dark
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This episode balances fun and feelings while staying true to what “A Christmas Carol” is all about. An epic adventure with surprises and wit, this Doctor Who Christmas special truly is special.

 

Those are my rankings of Doctor Who Christmas specials. I’d love to know which specials you loved.

Ranking Doctor Who Christmas specials Wilf No I shan't it's Christmas
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Happy Wholidays! Share the festive Wilf gif as much as you can this year – I always do – and I’ll see you in 2019 for the New Year’s special!

New Year’s Day:

What ‘Doctor Who’ Christmas special tops your list? Let us know at @PureFandom on Twitter!

Doctor Who New Year’s Day special airs Jan. 1 on BBC America at 8/7c.

(Image: BBC)

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Jordan Alperstein

Jordy has a degree in English literature and communication studies. When she isn't attending concerts, she's watching way too much TV for her own good and fangirling over Captain Swan. Jordy is a self-proclaimed optimist and bookworm, and she's a sucker for fantasy, superheroes, and good old-fashioned villains.

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